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The Curse of the Phoenix

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Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:58 am
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Lael says...


Before they lifted off in the direction of the Wyvern Kingdom, Maher refused to mount the wyvern and declared, "It is an indignity for a member of the Halcyone Tribe to be expected to ride upon another beast when I have perfectly functional wings of my own. I will fly alongside, of my own strength, to the Wyvern Kingdom."

"Maher, quit being stubborn and just get on the wyvern!" burst out Selenia, her patience obviously wearing thin. "We need to go now."

"If I am to embark on this journey, I would like to go on some of my own terms."

"Master Ranell, leave him be," said Queen Syleen with a small sigh. "He does have a point. However, Prince Maher," she turned a cautioning stare on him, "if you begin to tire, I do not want to hear any complaints. Understand?"

"Perfectly, Your Majesty," replied Maher with a deep mock bow. He knew that he would not be tired. He had flown a much longer distance from his old home to the kingdom.

The other apprentices stared at him and some of the other masters shook their heads, while the unfashionably late, flirty apprentice glacimancer - whoever he was, anyways - seemed to give him a look of condescension. Or was it just a mocking smirk?

Whatever, thought Maher, rolling his eyes. He is irrelevant.


Feeling the wind sliding over his feathers and whipping through his hair was so soothing that Maher even forgot his annoyance at the world for a while as he flew beside the massive wyverns. He had missed flying like this; what would have made it even better would be to have his father and fellow tribe members surrounding him in a formation, like the birds would in migration. It was too bad that they would not fly over the Halcyone Forest on their way.

He glanced at the others riding on the wyverns, which actually seemed to fly with a certain degree of grace, much to his surprise. The apprentices had looks of awe and amazement on their faces, though there were one or two who seemed to be green in the face. Maher kept his laughter to himself.

And although he would have loved to show off, now was not really the time to accidentally lose the group, either. Just by himself, Maher was, grudgingly, not completely confident that he would be able to quickly find his way back should he become lost.

But soon enough, the Wyvern Kingdom was below, the queen announced to the group. When they landed, she gathered them together and the apprentices were informed that they would be joining a feast in the great hall of the wyverns.

Maher appreciated a feast - he had experienced a good number of them among his tribe - but he hadn't really faced the situation of eating with non-Halcyone people; he had mostly eaten alone since he entered the program. Besides, what would they be served to eat? Regular human food was fine, though more raptor-like Lianth such as himself and his family had no problem with eating fresh raw meat - not that he told anyone in the kingdom, since he was sure that humans thought that was revolting. Better to avoid conflict over the dignity and pride of his people. When somehow possible, of course.

He fell in with the others and they entered the hall. The sooner Queen Syleen and the wyverns resolved their problems, the faster Maher would be able to go home at last.
"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

I feel like the possibility of all those possibilities being possible is just another possibility that can possibly happen. —Mark Lee

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Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:20 am
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Feltrix says...

En sat crosslegged at a long table, surrounded by the other initiates and mentors who were all chatting excitedly. The hall was an impressive structure with arched ceilings and unexpectedly intricate pillars, considering the dragons lack of delicate fingers. Of course, the enormous stature was to be expected given the inhabitants of the hall. The exquisite food and silverware were also a surprise for the same reason. En suspected humans had come ahead of the party to prepare the feast so the wyverns wouldn't serve them charred meat. A variety of meats, fruits, pastries, and salads were displayed across the table. When they had entered the room, En had snatched a bowl of small red berries and was eating them one by one.

As far as diplomatic missions went, En wasn't impressed with those chosen to go on it. Exliana Yuore's greatest strength, her undeniable pyromantic prowess, was also her greatest flaw. Her lack of control made her a danger not just to the mission but to herself and those around her. Torrin was hopelessly naïve, too optimistic to make decisions with no positive outcomes. Ahmed Amari was too fickle to be a good diplomat and his family was already too entangled in the wyverns' politics. Zel Elsonia was a passionate speaker, but this ruled her orating instead of enhancing it. Neither Raverra Laudrim's personality nor her magic were powerful enough to gain the attention of the wyverns under normal circumstances, so her presence on the mission was pointless. Shakarri seemed a reasonably good fit, with a combination of strong magic and a decent intellect, but her tendency to talk incessantly was a potential weakness if classified information with the initiates and her emotional sensitivity could render her useless in a debate. Antonia Skylar was too cautious and indecisive to be of much help in an emergency. Miirah's withdrawn personality and suppressed memories made her seem more at place in a therapy session than a vital mission like this one. Maher's overwhelming arrogance and ambition was more likely to spark another war with the wyverns than to be of much use on a diplomatic mission such as this and would doubtlessly weaken relations at the very least. Piryyah Oldariry was too trusting to be of much use in a situation where deception and manipulation could become the tools that would reshape two nations. Even En was an imperfect choice. His magic wasn't enough to distinguish himself without his intellect, and his obvious lack of social adequacy made him a questionable choice where negotiations were paramount. Together, the ten were little more than squabbling children.

En swallowed another berry.

"En, what are you doing?" Dya asked, pulling him from his thoughts.

"What do you mean?"

"This is a social event," they said. "A chance to get to know the other members of your team."

"I already know as much as I need to."

"Have you directly spoken to any of them?"


"Have you already formed judgments of their personalities and analyzed their abilities?"


Dya sat back in their chair. "You're intelligent, En," they said. "But you have so much to learn. Talk to someone."


"Because I'm your mentor and as such I think you would be best educated by socializing with your team members."

En narrowed his eyes. Dyren smirked.

"I'm not sure that you-"


En sighed and ate another berry. "Fine."

He turned to face Zel Elsonia, who was sitting across from him.

"Hello," he said.


A moment of silence followed.

"You're En, right?" Zel said.

"Yes. You're Zel Elsonia," En replied. Another pause, which En used to pop another berry into his mouth.

"What do you like to do?" Zel said, filling the lapse in conversation.

"I spend most of my time training with Dyren."

"No, what do you like to do? Not training. Do you have any hobbies or things you have to do to get through a day? For instance, this isn't really a hobby, but I always plan everything out at least a day in advance."

"Really? That sounds... efficient."

Zel chuckled. "Why do I get the feeling that's your idea of a compliment?" she said. "You should have seen me when I got the news that we were going to the wyvern kingdom. Do you have any idea how hard it is to plan for something like that?"

To En's surprise, he found himself enjoying talking to Zel. The conversation shifted from the organization of time to books they liked reading to alchemy to, for no reason En could discern, cats.

After almost an hour, Dyren tapped En on the shoulder. "It's time to go. The feast is over," they said.

"Oh... is it? I hadn't noticed." En stood up.

"It's been nice talking to you," Zel said.

In a way, it had.
Last edited by Feltrix on Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Intrepid Explorer
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TIME Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year
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Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:46 pm
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PrincessInk says...

~Antonia Skylar~

After the feast, two wyverns gestured for the two groups of mentors and students to follow each of them. Antonia stuck close to Julius, glad to be close to the most familiar person in the crowd of magicians. Even though she knew about them, she still felt awkward being around them.

Antonia's group walked down a path walled with stones, wide enough for the wyvern to spread its wings out. Antonia gazed up at the night sky. The glittery stars looked as though somebody had snipped bits from the sun and sown them in the sky.

Without thinking, Antonia began to softly sing a song she liked:

When the sun hides away
Does the moon go a-sway,
And the stars twinkle down
To light all the town
And rock the chil--

She stopped, her cheeks flushed, when she realized the others were looking at her. "I--I--"

"Do you like to sing?" Torrin asked her. His long white ponytail waved slightly in the breeze.

"Yes," she said. Then she added,"I think song to speech is like poetry to prose--it's something different."

Julius had gone away to chat with the other mentors about what she assumed what magic and teaching, so she and the other apprentices to left to talk together. At first, being left to themselves, there was a slight don't-know-what-to-talk-about pause, with boots crunching pebbles as the only sound marring the silence. But soon enough everyone started talking at once when they saw some figures winging their way around the mountains.

Ahmed pointed. "Look at them!"

"Wow!" Exliana stood up on her tiptoes and tried to lean over the wall, but Firemaker grabbed her by the waist and pulled her back in.

"They look so elegant," Raverra said, tucking a strand of white hair behind her ear as she looked up.

Antonia herself watched them an open mouth. She wondered if she, as a caelimancer, could ever fly like them. She remembered how she had barely hitched a ride on a breeze that morning and bit her lip. It would take years and years of practice.

Before long, the wyvern leading them rounded a curve and they found themselves standing in front of the opening of a cavern, with a large stone door left ajar. The apprentices all crowded around at the entrance to peer into their chambers. Inside, they saw a well-lit room with sofas and tables occupying most of the space.

"Where do we turn in?" Ahmed asked.

"I think it's beyond this," said Raverra, pointing to a double-door entrance that opened into a six-door corridor. From it, steps led up to another, though it was smaller, with only three doors.

Ahmed ran to the door. "Oh, I see."

"That's where you'll rest," the wyvern said in a gruff voice when they had gone into the hallways. "The three rooms upstairs are for you apprentices to share--two for the girls, one for the boys--and the six downstairs are for the mentors." He pointed his wing to each floor.

Ahmed and Torrin headed to the leftmost room upstairs, Exliana and Raverra paired up to share the center room. Antonia found herself standing next to Miirah, and said, "I suppose we're together." The two of them entered their quarters and looked around. Inside was far too big for one person but also a little small for two, but Antonia knew she wouldn't mind too much. But she also wondered whether Miirah would be bothered by her presence or by what she did.

Two beds were tucked into the uppermost corners with a bureau. A curtain dangled near each bed and bureau, probably to wrap around them for privacy. Antonia picked up her carpetbag full of her belongings and sat on one bed, Miirah on the other.

"Well, I wonder what this is all about," Miirah said.

"Me too." Antonia picked at the clasp of her carpetbag. "I thought we wouldn't go anywhere, till we were done training."

Miirah let out a quiet yawn. "I think we'll know more about it tomorrow."

"I'm sure," said Antonia. She wasn't sure what to say next, but she ventured, "What was it like to ride on the wyverns?"

"It was something was quite remarkable," Miirah told her, hugging her satchel to herself.

"I know." Antonia lay back down on her bed and glanced at Miirah out of the corner of her eye. Somehow, though she knew they were about the same age, she felt as though Miirah was the older. She didn't really understand why, but what Antonia thought to herself often had barely any explanation.

She just added, "I hope that one day I'll be able to fly that effortlessly."

Miirah cocked her head and smiled. "I guess we still have years to practice our skills, to make it seem effortless, maybe even close to it." And then she also settled down amongst her blankets and adjusted her shirt.

"Sleep well," she said, pulling the curtains around her.

"Good-night," said Antonia, also tucking the curtains around her bed. And then she lay motionless for awhile, thinking of the wyverns soaring through the sky and listening to Miirah's soft breathing till her eyelids closed and she was drifting away to a dreamland full of formal banquets and mountains and large groups of people.
always daydreaming, always clumsy

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Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:02 pm
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Magebird says...

Zel Elsonia

Clutching the covers close to her chest, she gazed up at the ceiling above. Her eyes traced the little imperfections. She had never slept in this room, but they were frustratingly familiar. A heavy sigh left her lips. If only she could have stayed back in the kingdom. The past certainly loved to haunt her. Rolling over onto her side, she tried to ignore the uneasy feeling growing in her heart. It was always there, but what had once been a tiny spark had become a raging bonfire.

She frantically tried to blink away the tears that had begun to form in the corner of her eyes. Her sobs would only alert the others to something being wrong. She didn't feel like trying to come up with an explanation. Anxiously fingering her ring, she stared at the wall beside her. She couldn't wait for this to all be over. Then she could return to the comfort of her dull life with Andice.

It won't be long, she tried to convince herself.

But any time spent here would be far too long.

She closed her eyes and somehow drifted off to sleep.


When she awoke, it was to the sound of excited whispers. She made sure her mask was in place – it was – and untangled herself from the covers. Whether it was from the tones being used or the fact that she recognized the voices to be the ones of the other apprentices, she knew there was no threat.

She made her way into the lounge.

To her surprise, she saw more people than she should have. The apprentices that had gone to the other dorm room were scattered throughout the room. Some were perched on the armrests of the couches they were never meant to sit on, while others stood in between pieces of furniture. Exliana stood in the center of it all. The young Pyromancer seemed to be the one responsible for this startling moment.

As she struggled to understand what was happening, Piryyah ran over to her. “You're up now!” the thirteen year old eagerly whispered. “We thought one of us would have to go get you.”

She gave her a blank look. “For what?”

“To explore.” That was En, comfortably sitting in one of the nearby armchairs. He gestured at the other Pyromancer in the room. Exliana seemed to be too engaged in her conversation with the people near her to have noticed Zel's arrival. “It was Exliana's idea. She led her group here after she was sure everyone else in the castle was asleep.”

Exliana spun around when she heard her name. When she saw Zel watching her, she announced, “Since everyone is here, let's go explore the Wyvern kingdom-”

“This is a really bad idea.”

An uncomfortable silence blanketed the room. The thought of someone objecting to the idea hadn't been addressed; now that a member of their group had qualms with it, they were unsure what to do. Zel, for her part, kept her eyes trained on the ground. She didn't want whatever expression she had unconsciously adopted to reveal why she was so against it.

“We should just stay in our rooms,” she continued. In a desperate attempt to stop herself from visibly trembling, she dug her fingernails into the palms of her hands. The pain failed to distract her from her terror. “Our teachers will be upset if they find out we snuck out, and we can always ask for a tour tomorrow.”

“But that's no fun!” Exliana argued.

“It doesn't need to be,” Zel weakly replied. Her protest fell upon deaf ears; they were all kids at heart, and all longed for adventure. She often shared that sentiment, but now was not one of those times. When Exliana stubbornly started to lead the others out of the room, she knew that she was at a crossroads. Should she risk going with them, or stay and become an outcast among her peers?

She took a deep breath.

She knew she had to go with them.

“Wait for me!”


Every shadow dancing across the path they settled on seemed like it could hide a living, breathing creature, and every noise seemed like it could be the sound of someone approaching. Zel was in a constant state of terror. Even as her fellow apprentices joked and quietly chattered among themselves, she couldn't brush her fear away.

They eventually found a room to enter. Zel, who had been trailing at the end the entire time, hurried to slam the door behind her. The other teenagers oohed and ahhed at the marvels that greeted their eyes. It was one of the rooms that highlighted the history of the Wyverns, and the items were befitting of the kingdom's past. Scales served as reminders of the ones that had come before the current kingdom, and gold antiques were remnants of hordes of long ago.

It was an ironic twist of fate. Wyverns had supposedly become more than hoarders, but now they had taken to collecting bits and pieces of a time that they could never return to. The past was treated as something to be idolized. Thick layers of dust covered the artifacts. They were just pretty little things to look at, and any thought of learning from them had been banished. The fear of damaging the perfect representations of the past prevented them from moving on.

She balled her hands into fists. Anything new was abhorred in comparison to the old, and they could never acknowledge that there had been wrongdoings. Humans were just as bad. It was an endless cycle that would stretch on for as long as civilization persisted, and Zel knew that better than anyone.

Her eyes lingered on the scales of the previous queen. It should have been coated in dust like the other things on display, but it sparkled in the light. Suddenly, she was standing in the final battle between the queen and Sius Ayton. Both were so sure that they were doing the right things for their people, but what had that gotten them in the end? The queen had died, and Sius had become her killer. They had set a future into motion that neither had ever envisioned.

And this moment was the result of that.

She slowly raised a hand, enchanted by the history hidden behind such a simple little thing. The tips of her fingers brushed up against the cool scales. She took another step towards the display. She thrust her hand around what should have been honored. Behind her, the other apprentices gave startled cries of alarm. She had done what no one ever should have – touched a historical relic. And while they had been eager to break the rules and leave their rooms, this was something they would never partake in.

The wall behind the display shook. They all watched, shocked, as the wall moved away to reveal a gigantic passageway. “We should go down that,” Zel said, overcome by a boldness she didn't know she had.

Exliana walked over to the entrance. “I agree.”

The others, thrilled by the discovery, eagerly nodded.

And then they started walking towards whatever lay at its end.
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Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:09 pm
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AliceinBluue says...

Honestly, Piryyah was having the time of her life. She had not only met the queen, she had also been in the presence of powerful magicians and their apprentices, when she and Khalid had walked up to them she could practically feel the power rolling off of everyone. Then she got to ride a wyvern! She had probably started to irritate Khalid after the third or fourth time she had almost fallen off the wyvern’s back, and she knew her luck had run out when she had almost fallen again for the tenth time and he had snapped at her that next time he would allow her to fall off if she leaned over too far again.

But she hadn’t been able to help herself, she was just so excited! Then, as she was finally starting to settle down, she had noticed one of the other students, Ahamed as she would later figure out. It took her a second to realize what was going on, he was playing with water, almost absentmindedly. Her breath had caught in her throat, they were who knew how high in the air, and he was playing with water. In that moment, Piryyah knew she wanted to talk with him before the end of the trip. And, if she was being honest, deep down inside, she hoped that he could teach her something, anything, about being a proper aquamancer, one who actually worked with water.

She had spent her dinner alternating between listening to the conversations going around her and trying to get the other aquamancer’s attention as subtly as possible. She did not want Khalid to figure out what she was doing just yet. Especially if Ahamed offered to give her some pointers.

It only occurred to her as the wyverns were leading her group to where they would be sleeping and the other group split off with the other aquamancer that she had probably been just a bit too subtle. So when the other apprentices started gathering outside, Piryyah had figured this was her chance, but the other Aquamancer had not turned up right away and people had started to talk about going after the stragglers.

By the time he had shown up, she was filled with too much nervous energy to greet him properly and instead ran up to another straggler, a girl named Zel who seemed to be especially nervous. She had a moment of indecision, torn between wanting to stick close to this girl who was nearly shaking and wanting to talk to Ahamed. But in the end, she decided to stick next to Zel, a silent shadow.

Then Zel discovered the hidden passageway and Piryyah was on cloud nine once again. She was practically bouncing as they all walked through the doorway. She wanted to explore absolutely EVERYTHING. They all moved forward into the next chamber. This one did not have any decorations on the walls, just a few doorways, some more elaborate looking than the others. Piryyah ended up in the back of the group, but as soon as she could, she moved out to the side, splitting off from the group.

“What are you doing?” Someone asked from behind her. Piryyah turned around, a wide smile already breaking out across her face as she made eye contact with En.

“Exploring,” She said and moved farther away from the group, interested in what seemed to be a small alcove in the chamber wall.

“Exploring a hole in the wall?” He said, his voice dripping disdain as she turned back to her alcove.

“Yup!” Piryyah said, her voice chipper as she turned her body sideways and slipped through the crevice in the wall.

“Wait!” En called and slipped through the crevice behind her. It was a tight fit and Piryyah could actually feel the rock squeezing her from all sides before she finally burst through on the other side, falling to her hands and knees. En appeared a few moments after her.

“Why on earth did you just shove yourself through a hole in a wall?” He asked.

“Because I fit,” Piryyah said, picking herself up from the ground and brushing off the dirt from her outfit, “Why did you?”

En did not answer her, choosing to glower at her instead, but that was okay, Piryyah did not really want or need an answer, she just wanted to explore. She set her shoulders and took stock of her surroundings.

They were in the middle of a hallway that stretched out on both sides of them. Piryyah took a few hesitant steps in a random direction.

“Where do you think the rest of the group is?” She asked, almost absentmindedly.

“Who knows,” He said, clearly exasperated “Who knows where we might have gone while in that crawl space of yours.”

Piryyah made a noncommittal noise and moved farther down the hallway. She could almost see a light coming from farther down the tunnel, maybe if she squinted just a bit harder…

“What are you doing?” En snapped, stomping over to Piryyah.

“Do you see the light?” She asked, scrunching her whole face up in an attempt to see it better.

“Yeah,” En said after a second’s pause, moving past Piryyah. She almost did not recognize that En was leaving her behind and had to jog to catch up to him.

Then she was pushing their pace, then he was, and then without realizing it, they were sprinting towards the light that never seemed to grow any bigger, ignoring all the doorways and forks in the tunnel in favor of the light.

She does not know how long she would have continued to chase the light if she had not tripped over something on the ground and gone sprawling, skinning her hands and knees.

En came to a stop in front of her, only turning around after his entire body shook. He was still shaking his head as he walked back over to Piryyah, who had pushed herself into a sitting position and was examining her hands. She could feel the injuries on her knees, but she did not want to roll up her pants to examine the area. So instead, she focused all of her attention on her palms.

“Are you okay?” En asked after a second, offering Piryyah his hand.

She thought about it for a second before nodding her head, not trusting herself to speak yet. She took his hand and used it to pull herself to her feet.

“I have no idea where we are,” En said, looking around them. The hallway had gone from crumbling brick to an elaborate marble structure with at least a dozen doors leading in different directions all around them.

“Keep moving forward?” Piryyah asked, gesturing to the door right in front of them.

En shook his head vehemently, stepping away from the door, “No.”

“Alright then, where do you want to go?” Piryyah asked.

En opened his mouth as if to reply, then closed it without saying anything, tilting his head to the side.

“Do you hear that?”

Piryyah blinked at the rapid change in topics before concentrating on listening, trying to figure out what En was talking about. It took her a second, but she could faintly hear a rhythmic pounding coming from one of the doorways.

“Yeah, yeah I do,” she said, trying to locate the direction the sound was coming from. It sounded like it was getting closer, and there was a steady rushing-rumbling sound underneath the steady beats.

What do you think it is?” Piryyah asked, taking a step in a random direction to see if that would improve anything.

“I think it’s someone running.”

“You think they’re caught up in the same thing we got caught up in?”

“Who knows, but if they are, at least we know how to break them out of it.”

Piryyah nodded, she could definitely hear the person running, but the weird sound underneath it was still bothering her a bit. It tugged at something inside her, like a string tied around her center. She could practically feel the sound in her bones.

Then Zel was sprinting through a door on Piryyah’s left shouting at them to run run run!

En and Piryyah locked gazes, twin looks of confusion crossing their faces before turning to see where Zel had been running from and Piryyah’s stomcah plummeted through the floor.

There was a wall of rushing water moving towards them, shaking the very earth underneath their feet.

There was nothing but pure panic racing through her brain as she lept towards En, grabbed his hand, and sprinted off in the direction Zel had run off in. Pushing herself to go faster, ever faster, anything to keep ahead of the white wall of death behind her.

“Piryyah!” En shouted as he sprinted next to her, “Do something!”

“I can’t!” Piryyah yelled back, despair coating every word.

“What do you mean you can’t do anything? You’re an AQUAMANCER!” En shouted as they continued to chase Zel, who remained a few feet in front of them, either oblivious to their shouted conversation or not willing to waste breath participating in it.

“I can’t manipulate anything but sand! I’m a Desert-Dweller!” Piryyah snapped back at En.

They ran through another chamber, this one with pearl murals sparkling on the walls. Piryyah was not sure how much longer she could continue to run for. She had not totally recovered from running after the light, and while the wall of water had produced a spike of adrenaline, it was starting to wear off now.

“Door!” En shouted, loud enough for Zel to hear as they ran into another chamber, pointing out a stone door that was being suspended by a thick rope. Zel gave a curt nod in front of them and slowed her pace slightly so that she was running more evenly with them.

Then, as they ran underneath the door, Zel severed the rope with some of her fire and the door slammed down behind them with a loud crash. Piryyah was not sure the stone would break apart at the last second, but as the three of them slowed down there was a loud crash as the water hit the door, and the stone held.

As soon as she knew she was safe, all the pent up tension in her limbs released and Piryyah bent over, breathing heavily. She could hear the others trying to catch their breath around her as well. Every breath she took felt like it burned it’s way through her lungs and she could feel her legs shaking under her hands.

“Where… did you… come from?” Piryyah gasped in between breaths.

Zel took a moment to catch her breath and compose herself before answering “You two disappeared so we went looking for you, then some of us got separated when a door shut and then I tripped the water thing and I lost the rest of them running away.”

“So we have no idea where we are or where anyone else might be,” En said, his displeasure evident in his voice.

“We’ll just have to find them then!” Piryyah said, straightening up and starting off in a random direction.

“Aren’t we supposed to stay still and let them find us?” Zel asked.

“But if everyone stands still, who will do the finding?” Piryyah countered as she walked along the hallway, her hand brushing against the wall as the light slowly dimmed around her.

There was a moment where she was not sure the other two would come with her, but then she heard them catch up and she breathed a sigh of relief. She was trying not to get freaked out by this place, but she could still feel an undeniable pull towards the water on the other side of the door and she was terrified of the nearly overwhelming temptation to manipulate it. It was like a siren call deep in her bones and every step she took away from is was a struggle.

After a few minutes of walking, the small group was surrounded by complete darkness. It was so dark that Piryyah was starting to imagine things flickering in the corners of her eyes and she nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a searching hand brush across her back. She let out a shriek and jumped away from the wall.

“Sorry, sorry, that was me,” Zel said. Piryyah could still feel her heart racing buts she started feeling her way back to the wall, her arms outstretched in front of her. But she could not find it again, she just kept walking forward.

“Guy?” Piryyah called out, panic rising on the edge of her voice.

“Piryyah?” En called out, his voice somehow behind her now.

“En? Zel?” Piryyah turned around slowly, trying to locate exactly where they where.

“Hold still and keep talking, we’ll find you,” Zel said. Piryyah stopped moving but she could feel her heartbeat picking up. The dark felt too tense, too anticipatory. She hated the fact that she couldn’t see anything.

There was a light breeze that swept all her hair backwards. And then, oddly enough, the breeze came back, hitting her back instead of her face.

She knew that it was not a regular breeze, that no wind acted like that naturally, so she spread her feet in preparation for a fight and silently berated herself for forgetting her staff in her room. Piryyah briefly contemplated calling out to the others and warning them of the danger that she was sure was imminent, but decided against it. She did not want to accidentally give away her position or theirs if whatever was in the hall with them could not see in the dark and was hunting them by sound.

A hand wrapped around her outstretched wrist and Piryyah shifted her weight in order to attack.

“Found you,” En said as Piryyah’s shifting foot found nothing but empty air and she realized too late that the breeze she had felt must have been En searching for her in the dark.

She grabbed En’s hand as hard as she could as she started to fall, hoping to keep herself upright, but she felt En lose his balance as well.

There was brief moment where their fall was stopped and Piryyah guessed that Zel must have anchored them, but then they were all falling.

She gripped En’s hand as tight as she could, terrified that if she let go of him, she would lose both En and Zel in the darkness.

There was a sharp tug on her arm from En and their descent slowed, and then they were free falling again, and then the sharp tug and they slowed down, and the pattern continued until they hit the bottom and all rolled apart.

Piryyah shakily got to her feet, trying to get her nerves back under control. She could see the others getting to their feet as well and she realized that at some point, she had started to be able to see again.

“You still want to keep moving?” En asked, sarcasm dripping from every word.
Piryyah nodded her head, then looked for where the light was coming from.

“What are you looking for?” Zel asked.

“The light,” Piryyah answered, finally figuring out that the light was strongest to her left.

“Why not, we had such great luck withligth the firs time around" En said.

"But the dark wasn't much better," Piryyah pointed out.

En sighed, but was clearly resigned to continue moving at this point.

Piryyah took a step towards the light, then hesitated. She had been the one to insist that they keep moving and that had led to them falling down whatever they had fell down. She did not want to lead them into danger again.

“I’ll take lead,” En said. Piryyah let him take the lead, falling behind him so that she was walking next to Zel.

They did not talk much as they moved and Piryyah was so wrapped up in her own thoughts as they moved that it took her several minutes to realize that En was doing his wind thing again, sending out a breeze before calling it back to him, his own weird version of echolocation Piryyah guessed.

They continued on like that, the light getting steadily brighter for several moments before En threw his hand out, signalling for them to stop.

“There’s something in front of us,” He said, his voice barely a whisper.

“What is it?” Zel asked, mimicking En’s volume.

“Don’t know,” He said, “The wind is coming back strange,”

Piryyah once again prepared to fight, spreading her feet to even her balance and praying that she knew enough hand to hand to keep her neck safe as En sent out a stronger breeze.

Then En was breathing a sigh of relief and letting all the tension drain from his limbs.

“It’s just the others,” He said and Piryyah and Zel relaxed as well.

“Hey!” Piryyah called out, bounding forward. There was a startling moment when she turned a slight corner in the hallway and found herself confronted with the rest of the group prepared to attack her as she skidded to a stop, but as soon as they saw the small trio they all relaxed.

“Well, it seems like we’ve all managed to find each other again,” Exliana said, “Shall we continue onwards?”

No one protested so they moved on as a group, walking towards the light.

“Wait, is that what I think it is?” said someone from the front of the group. They all came to a stop and spread out so that everyone could see what was at the end of the tunnel, a wyvern nest.

Piryyah felt her stomach drop through the floor as her fingers grasped for the staff she knew was not there.

“We have to go,” Zel said, her voice panicky, “we have to go right now.”

“But you’ve only just arrived,” Came a cool voice from the shadows of the nest as a wyvern made himself known.

Piryyah felt her breath freeze in her throat as she thought what she was sure ever other apprentice was thinking, rebel.

“Now why don’t you share with me how you all managed to stumble upon our nest.”

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Lumi says...

We're Lovers,
& That is That

Ahmed could feel static in his veins as his gaze shifted between the being in the dark and his clenched fist. It was almost certainly lightning-aspected--and terrifyingly so--to have this much effect on a bender, even as sensitive as him.

He'd felt this before, of course. The Razorback Griffins in his homeland were born wielding lightning, and you could almost taste its distinct flavor during a family meal as the chewed meat rolled down the back of your tongue.

This was almost nostalgic.

Exliana reached for something--no doubt a weapon of some kind--before Ahmed bounded forward to her and grabbed her wrists, lips against her ear, whispering show your magic and we're all dead.

"Guests, guests, guests...uninvited, intrusive, invasive!" A woman emerged from the darkness--platinum hair and thunder-blue eyes. Ahmed had to inwardly reprimand himself for finding her attractive. "You two...holding hands..." Her fingers thrummed on her thigh. "Are you lovers?"

Exliana side-eyed him for an answer, and it struck him to give her a signal. "Exliana, I think it's time for you to tell everyone what I've said to at a time, so the embarrassment doesn't take over, though!" He scratched the back of his head until the thundering woman touched him, turning his head by controlling his nerves.

"I can keep tell you a secret, too, while she's busy..."

Ahmed swallowed hard, then nodded.

She leaned in, placing her hands against his pecs--already alarming him to what was coming--and swung him around to face the group. "You filthy humans will all DIE!" Her hands gave off a flash before Ahmed was blown through the tight-packed gang. The blast sent him tumbling, skidding across the floor where he lay motionless, chest scarred black in shapes of cracked lightning, back contused and cut from the rough stone.

"What will you do, human girl, now that I've slain your lover?"

Exliana clenched her fists, demnding to stick to Ahmed's plan of escape. "I...I can do nothing," she confessed as she fell to her knees. "We are humans with no power to hold against you, and this may be where life ends for us." She thought in an instant about Sylvetta, and she made herself tear up. "Only our benevolent queen would pay our pitiful ransom."

The woman looked about them, wings beginning to grow from her arms, body slowly melting around a skeleton that threw off its human musculature and ligaments, tendons, and sinew. The whole body reformed itself as the skeleton grew into a mighty Wyvern with platinum scales and thunder blue eyes. "Let us have an experiment, then...if your queen will pay a ransom, then you are worth something to Us." She roared and cackled as sparks crackled around her. "TAKE THEM TO THE PRISON!"

And with those last words heard, Ahmed closed his eyes, opening them next on the wet floor of a stone jail cell. He tried to move and found it a chore. But his fingers worked. His toes worked. Closing his eyes, he whispered into the darkness: Did we survive?

The others, divided into different cells, replied in stagger: Yes / Barely / Because of you.

Ahmed started to laugh to himself, lungs giving out after a few chuckles. "I think Exliana owes me a kiss for this," another laugh, "isn't that right, lover?"
I am a forest fire and an ocean, and I will burn you just as much
as I will drown everything you have inside.
-Shinji Moon

I am the property of Rydia, please return me to her ship.

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Magebird says...

Zel Elsonia

Fingering her ring, she could only stare blankly at the walls of the cell she was thrown into. It was a miracle that none of her clothes had been removed when they were being transported to the cell. Her mask hadn't be dislodged, and her gloves still covered her knuckles. Yet she trembled at the thought of what could have been. Discovery by a woman that was apparently a wyvern could have been catastrophic.

“We need to escape,” En said from the cell beside her.

She started to nod, only to realize that he couldn't see it. By the time that she started to open her mouth, someone had already beaten her to the punch. Piryyah, several cells down, addressed the solution they had all been thinking of. “We should use our magic.”

“I'm sure it could get us through these bars.” That was Ahmed, his voice still somewhat groggy despite the rich laughter that had filled his cell only moments before. “Are there any guards?”

Zel unsteadily got to her feet and peered out into the darkness.

“I don't see any,” a girl – Antonia, possibly – said; she seemed to be the farthest down out of the people that had contributed. “But there is a large door. I'm not sure any of our magic could impact it.”

She heard someone move in the cell beside her, the one that wasn't occupied by En. Flames crackled. “Well, let's get out of these cells!” Act first, think later. For once, Zel was in support of the idea. The sooner they left this place, the better. Magic came to life in each cell. The young apprentices eagerly tore into the cell bars barricading them in with everything they possessed.

Zel followed suit. She raised one hand to her mouth, though it was out of habit more than anything else. She doubted anyone was paying much attention to her at the moment. Heat bubbled up from within her. The bars melted as flames burst out of her mouth, and Zel silently stepped through the hole that eventually formed.

They all met at the only exit.

They silently took in the stone before them; it was enormous, even for a wyvern. It would took some heavy lifting for one of their captors to move it. Fire slammed into the rock as Exliana directed her staff (which had fortunately been left with her) at it. The flames had no noticeable effect. Zel twisted her ring. Several of the others tried their hands at destroying their newest hurdle. The caelimancers attempted to move it with air, and the glacimancers tried to break it apart with sheer force. It stubbornly remained exactly the same as it had been prior to their escape. When that failed, the group tried – and failed – to move it with a combination of their brute strength.

They stepped back and stared at the unmoving boulder.

“We're trapped,” Shakkari said.

“Who will rescue us?” Piryyah asked.

Miirah gulped. “What will they do when they find us like this?”

They all exchanged terrified looks. Some tears may have been shed in light of their failed escape, but Zel was too preoccupied to notice the reaction. They did have a way out. It was staring them right in the face. They just needed someone who had the strength to move the boulder.

She fingered her ring. She couldn't. Not now, not when her life was finally going the way that she had wanted it to. If the truth was discovered and word got around – as it eventually would – she would never meet her father. Her hard work and dedication to her secret would ultimately be for nothing.

But if they didn't do something, they would undoubtedly die at the hands of their captors. Could she really go to the grave with the blood of her peers on her hands?

She took a deep breath.

“I know how we can get out.”

Heads turned to her. She had been so silent that she suspected the others had forgotten she was there. Her hand rested on her mask. It would only take a simple little movement, and her secret would be revealed. She had their attention now. Could she be truly courageous? Her stomach twisted and churned at the thought of revealing the truth.

“We just need a wyvern, right?” she said.

“Yeah,” Exliana answered, “but it's not like we have one-”

She removed her mask.

Brown scales lined the side of her face. Though her mask had been removed, they mirrored the pattern with few differences. She silently took off her gloves as well, making sure to avoid dislodging the ring. Similar scales covered what should have been skin on the back of her hand. There were more things, too – the tail wrapped around her stomach, for example – but they didn't need to see that. Her point had been made.

You're a wyvern?” the other pyromancer said in disbelief, mouth agape and eyes wide. The others displayed similar looks of shock.

“Half, anyways,” she said. She returned her mask and gloves to their rightful places. Holding up her hand, she drew attention to her ring. It was a ring that had once been worn by an enemy of the kingdom. One could have never expected it to fall into the hands of one of its apprentices. “My mom was a wyvern. It's a long story, but she used this ring to become human and had me with my dad. He doesn't know. When she gave birth to me, she was in her natural form. I'm a runt among wyverns, but I should be able to push that aside if I give it my all in my natural form. Does anyone object to that?”

There wasn't any. She didn't think there would be, even if someone didn't like wyverns – they needed to escape, after all.

She gently pulled the ring off. Before the transformation could truly set in, she handed it to En. Skin was exchanged for scales, and a set of wings began to blossom from the stubs on her back. Her clothes melted away into nothingness as her body grew in size. It was something she never questioned. Soon, she was standing before them in her natural form of an admittedly small wyvern.

She took the type of deep breath one would take when they were about to embark on quite the strenuous task. Then she slammed into the boulder with every bit of strength she had in her body, the talons of her front feet desperately trying to get a hold on the rock. It began to move. Triumphant cries rang out among the other apprentices as she pushed it back far enough for a group of human children to sneak through.

She retrieved the ring from En's extended hand. The ring was returned to its rightful place, and she resisted the incredibly strong urge to sink the floor in exhaustion when her body had taken on its human form.

“Let's go,” she said.
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sheyren says...

Exliana Yuore

The group filed out of their former prison, but Exliana held back. She couldn't shake the feeling that something was up with the situation. It had been too easy to break out of the prison, and if Exliana was keeping hostages, she certainly would placed some guards in the area. The fact that the coast was clear immediately raised flags. But the others had marched onward, so she decided not to doubt the situation and follow.

The cavern opened onto a balcony-pathway wrapping along the side of a massive hollow space, and looking down, the group finally saw the actual size of the labyrinth. It was absolutely huge. The maze of high stone walls and enormous spires stretched so far that Exliana couldn’t see the end of it, but she could see that hovering above was a small swarm of wyverns. They hadn’t noticed the group, and from a distance such as that, probably never would, not with wyvern’s generally poor eyesight.

“Pretty impressive, huh? One of the greatest terramancers created this for me, many decades ago,” said a voice from behind them. They spun around immediately, noticing the female wyvern who had, and still was, assuming human form. She looked out admiringly at the labyrinth.

The group fell silent, tensing up but not reacting in any other way. There was a long pause, until finally En spoke up. “What magician would aid a wyvern?”

“A man named Sage Meru. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. He was a friend of mine, back before I became one of those.” She spat the last word out, glaring menacingly at the wyvern hovering in the air above the maze. “Before she turned me into one of those, I should say.”

Shakarri gasped. “Sage Meru? He was the magician who helped the hunters defeat the wyverns two decades ago, or tried to, before he was killed. Supposedly his last note contains numerous secrets of the kingdom’s secretive history, but they’ve kept it hidden for all this time.”

The woman seemed quite interested in this. “Oh? I’ll have to get my hand on this note. I’m curious what Sage Meru had to say about killing the wyverns.”

“Um, sorry for asking this, but I seem to be the only one who’s curious,” Exliana interrupted, raising a hand. “Who exactly are you?”

She smiled at the question, seemingly pleased to be finally asked. “Oh, me? No one special, I’m only the queen of the wyverns.” Her body was suddenly wracked by spasms, and her face contorted, turning into a devilish abomination. A shriek, and her body shifted into a massive wyvern form. Even with the face of a wyvern, her arrogant grin was recognizable.

“That’s a problem,” commented Torrin, as the group slowly backed away to take in the full size of their enemy. She was easily three times the size of a regular wyvern, and her eyes glowed a piercing red.

Exliana reached onto her back and drew her, lunging at a wyvern for the second? Third? Time in a day. Certainly a new record. The staff ignited into a scythe shape, and she leapt at her enemy, as her enemy inhaled sharply. In a flash, the breath gathered in the queen’s snout was released as a rush of scorching hot flames. Before Exliana could react, she was shoved aside by a man who was quickly consumed by the fireball.

Exliana slammed into the ground, but she rolled into an upward position to get a glimpse of the action. The wyvern queen was exchanging some words with the newcomer, an older man wearing a black garb. He seemed entirely unaffected by the searing heat he just faced head on. Exliana couldn’t pick up what they were saying, but she noticed that Ahmed had crept closer and was listening intently.

Suddenly the queen snarled and rose into the air, before backing away into the deadspace above the labyrinth. The group of wyverns who had been hovering there earlier were approaching now, and the man spun around to face the group of young magicians. “Get going!” He commanded urgently, pointing to the doorway at the end of the balcony. Exliana stood up, and she caught up with the others as they fled the area.

The doorway opened into a stairwell, a massive spiraling tower that the group didn’t have the time or patience to climb. Instead, Torrin had them gather in an open portion of the shaft so that he could propel them upwards with a pillar of ice. The maneuver was successful, up until the point where they slammed their heads on the stone slab roof of the stairwell…

But instead of feeling pain, they shot right through the stone. As it turned out, the stone was not true stone, but an illusion, which led them right through the table in the center of the wyvern meeting hall. The mentors and several wyvern diplomat all sat in a circle around it, and they stared in astonishment as the children were flung through. Nal’tor looked directly at Exliana, and she smiled uneasily. “Boy, have we got a story to tell you.”

“Well, it will have to wait. The situation has changed, and we need to get back to the kingdom immediately,” said Sylvetta. “The rebel wyverns, or Phoenixes, as they’ve named themselves, have planned an attack in two days.”

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XxXTheSwordsmanXxX says...

Torrin Rolcus

"You did what?!" Grawl growled. He raised that gnarled staff with murder in his eyes. The old man took a deep breath before lowering the staff with a steady tap. "What in all manner of hells were you thinking?"

Torrin shrugged. "Group was heading out to explore. I was just as curious as they were." Torrin gave a few hesitant glances to is mentor. "Look...I'm not saying it was a smart. But something was up. Those wyverns full on attacked us. If we are supposed to be working out a means of peace, why would they be so aggressive with a bunch of apprentices?"

Grawl shook his head as he muttered something under his gravely breath.

"Is there anything else that happened that I should be made aware of?" Grawl demanded. His eyes showed that he was not in a mood to put up with Torrin's normally trouble making nature.

Torrin was about to speak when he caught sight of Zel. She was peering at him through the eyes of her mask, almost like she had heard what Grawl had asked.

"I made an ice pillar over two hundred meters tall and strong enough to carry all of us," Torrin responded as he turned his gaze back to Grawl. The old man only rolled his eyes and turned away. "What? It's a personal best!" Torrin said nonchalant manner.

Whether it was purposefully or subconsciously, it was obvious that the other apprentices were keeping a good distance from her.

A rather rude way to treat someone that saved our butts in the dungeons, Torrin thought to himself.

Striding over he marched along side her for a while. Though the mask hid her facial movements, Torrin could sense the confused and worried eyes on him as he just kept walking.

"So...half-wyvern huh?" he said as if it were just a normal thing to bring up in conversation. She head turned a little to him as if she were't completely of how to respond to him. "Oh come on, you honestly think you wouldn't be asked about it afterwards?"

"Let's just say I hoped that it wouldn't be something that would be focused on," Zel answered.

"Well, I for one am very grateful that you have the heritage that you do," Torrin said very matter-of-factly. "Ice may be known to break stone but I wouldn't have been able to even crack that boulder." Torrin was sure he could see a smile under that mask.

"Well...It's nothing compared to the heritage of heir to the Rolcus family," Zel said. Torrin gave her a surprised look. "The others might not really know who you are, but learning about the prominent families was almost a requirement to not stand out."

Torrin chuckled. "Well...I didn't want everyone thinking that I was just some rich snob. Truth is I don't think myself better than anyone. Of course, my father would tear me a new one if he heard me saying that."

"Strict on your self-worth?"

"High expectations. First Glacimancer in a century and all of my predecessors have been powerful and legend worth. They expect me to take the family name into new heights of wealth and political power. Hell...if the queen hadn't removed herself from the mentoring pool they would have demanded I train with her rather that with Grawl, just for the simple fact that I might be able to gain some sort of weight with her."

"Sounds like a heavy burden to place on you. I would hate that my secret be another one."

"Way I see it is that you have made the choice to be among the rest of us instead of with the wyverns. Puts you on our side."

Torrin paused as he saw Exilana chatting with the pyromancer Nal'tor. He seemed to be more agreeable with the tale that Exilana was telling than Grawl was...and she looked so alive in the telling of it.

"Is that a crush I see?" Zel smirked.

Torrin chuckled and shook his head. "You have to admire her. We just barely made it out of the wyvern's mouth, pun intended, and she is excited. Several others are already trying to figure out the repercussions of our actions. She's acting like it was just another day in the park."

"I guess there is something to admire about that...but I think that blush on your cheeks says you're admiring more than that."

"There's no blush," Torrin quickly responded.

"Not but you being all defensive tells me I'm right," Zel said.

Looking to the red haired girl just a little ways away, he smiled a little. He could blame it on the fact that his parents disapproved. In all of his attempts to appease their ridiculous standards of him, maybe some part of him may have wanted something that he could control. Bit it wouldn't be true.

Torrin couldn't lie. She was what he wished he could be. Able to not care about what everyone thought, no expectations.


He admired her ability to shoulder her burdens and face them head on, rather than hide behind the smile that he did.

"Don't worry," Zel said gently. "You didn't talk about my secret. I won't go blabbing about yours."

Torrin gave her an appreciative nod as they seemed to be ready to get going. "On the road again it seems," he remarked.

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AliceinBluue says...

She knew as soon as the group ran into the mentors that she was in serious trouble. She could see it in the way that Khalid looked at her. Her stomach dropped as he stalked towards her. She averted her eyes and saw where a few of the other apprentices were being pulled aside by their own mentors out of the corner of her eye and wished dearly that she could be anyone but herself at this moment.

“Piryyah Olkariry, what in the WORLD were you thinking?” Khalid’s voice was low and dangerous.

“I’m sorry” Piryyah whispered, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes.

“You’re bleeding,” Khalid said, obviously taking note of where her knees had gotten scraped during her various falls in the labyrinth.

“Just a few scrapes and bruises,” Piryyah said, gripping the tops of her pants to try and hide her scraped palms from her mentor, afraid to anger him more than she already had.

“Here,” he said as he handed Piryyah her staff, “Don’t go without it in unknown territory again.”

Piryyah hesitantly reached out and grabbed her staff, the wood a comfortable weight in her hands. She glanced up at Khalid, meeting his eyes.

“You scared me Pi,” Khalid said, his voice soft, “When we were told we had to leave and I went to go get you and you weren't there, you scared me Pi.”

“I’m sorry,” Piryyah said, louder this time as she flung her arms around her mentor. Khalid hesitated for a second before bending over slightly and wrapping his arms around her as well.

After a moment Khalid, released her and Piryyah let her arms fall back down to her sides as she stepped back.

“Come on, go gather your stuff, we have to get back to the kingdom quickly,” he said.

Piryyah gave a quick nod and ran off to where Khalid had left her pack of stuff. She was so focused on getting her pack that she didn’t look where she was going, only noticing that there was someone moving behind her as she started to swing her pack up onto her back.

“I’m so sorry!” Piryyah cried out as her pack hit Ahmed in the arm as he stumbled sideways at the impact.

“All good,” Ahmed said, an easy smile coming to his lips.

Piryyah stared up at him,. He was an aquamancer, he could teach her how to be one too, a proper one, one who actually moved water like an aquamancer could. She just had to ask. If only it didn’t feel like there was a rock lodged in her throat.

“Hey, you’re the other aquamancer, Piryyah, right?” Khalid asked, reminding her that she had been staring at him, like an idiot.

“Yeah,” She said, ducking her head down as an embarrassed flush crossed her face.

“Piryyah!” Khalid called out and Piryyah flinched.

“I should get going,” she said, motioning in the general direction of where Khalid’s shout had come from.

“Yeah, maybe I’ll see you around in the kingdom though?” Ahmed said.

“Yeah,” Piryyah said, giving him a shy smile, “I hope so.”

She turned around and trotted back to where Khalid was waiting for her. There was an odd look in his eyes as he watched her walk up.

“Piryyah,” he said, an iron undertone to his voice, “you know the rules.”

“I’m not breaking any rules if I’m just meeting friends,” she said mulishly.

“Piryyah,” he said, a warning.

“I’m an aquamancer Khalid!” She burst out, her voice desperate for him to understand, “I’m an aquamancer and I don’t know how to do anything with my magic!”

“We are not having this argument again,” Khalid said. Piryyah knew how this conversation would go, but she had to try and make him understand.

“Khalid, we were down there and there was a huge wall of water and I couldn’t do anything. I was helpless!”

“We are Desert Dwellers Piryyah. We move sand, not water.”

“Please, I don’t want to be helpless again.”

“Piryyah, no.”

“Khalid, please!”

“Our culture forbids it!”

“But it’s who I am!”

“NO!” Piryyah’s breath caught in her throat at his exclamation. The rock was back in her throat and she could feel tears welling in her eyes.

“No, I won’t lose you, Piryyah. No,” he said, his voice much calmer.

“Yes master Sandwalker,” Piryyah said, ducking her head in an attempt to hide the tears that had started streaming down her face.

“Piryyah,” he started, reaching out for her but she ducked under his arm, heading to where the rest of the group was gathering to leave.

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sheyren says...

Exliana Yuore

The kingdom was just past the next mountain when the smell slammed into their noses. Exliana had never smelled something so painfully putrid, a smell so bad she physically recoiled. None of the other apprentices seemed prepared for the sudden wave of disgust, and most of them plugged their noses and looked at each other in confusion. But the mentors stood up from their seats, a serious look crossing their faces.

“Sylvetta...” General Ayton started, staring over the rise with increasing dread. “Weren’t they supposed to take a few days?”

“That’s what I was informed of.” Queen Syleen turned to the wyvern they were riding, expecting some clarification. The wyvern seemed just as surprised about this as the mentors were.

Nal’tor turned to the apprentices, the look on his face almost seeming like… fear? “When we return to the kingdom, I want you to hide immediately. No debating.”

“But-” Exliana started, standing up as well to show that she was on an equal level with her mentor.

“No debating, I said.”

The fear in his eyes was apparent now, and Exliana began to put the pieces together. The smell was so bad, it could only be attributed to burning flesh. Queen Syleen had been told the Phoenixes were going to attack the kingdom in a few days, but that conversation between General Ayton and Queen Sylveen suggested they suspected the attack was early.

Exliana looked around at the other apprentices in sight. Torrin was looking back at her. Zel watched the rise in suspense, clearly dreading what they would see once they passed it. Ahmed and Miirah were staring at each other, mouthing words Exliana couldn’t decipher. Antonia and Piryyah were looking behind the crew, apparently checking to see if enemies would show behind them. Even Maher seemed nervous.

They passed over the ridge, and the kingdom became visible. It was a horrific sight. Dozens of wyverns hovered above the kingdom, soaring through massive plumes of smoke. On the ground, swaths of troops were being incinerated by blasts of fire, and as they watched, an entire sentry tower came crumbling down.

“They’re putting everything into this initial attack. We need to go now… There’s no time to land. Nal’tor!” the queen commanded, and without warning, jets of fire ignited on each of the adult’s feet. They were jettisoned into the air, and in sync they launched themselves down into the fray.

Seemingly pre-informed, the wyverns alone lowered themselves to the ground by the secondary gates, to avoid attacks. They dropped the children off and leapt into the air after the Phoenixes, each charging a burst of flame. Together the children began to run inside, but Exliana spun around when she noticed Zel lagging behind.

Zel had her eyes on a wyvern just a few hundred yards down the wall. The wyvern was slamming itself into the wall, and the wall was folding under the stress. “There’s a populated district behind the wall. The wyvern wants to knock the wall down onto them.”

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XxXTheSwordsmanXxX says...

Torrin Rolcus

Fire and smoke rose into the air as they crested the mountains to see the capital city - their home - on fire. Screams and shouts echoed on the howling winds as they wyvern's made their descent to the earth, leaving them at the gate.

Nal'tor had given them orders. They were to hide away until everything blew over. Keep inside and not get hurt. It was all their mentors ever thought that could be done with them. But as they ran, he could see Exilana and Zel standing there watching as the wyvern was making a secret way into the city.

“There’s a populated district behind the wall. The wyvern wants to knock the wall down onto them," Zel said. Torrin hurried to where he could see the wyvern for himself. They were lucky. This one didn't seem to have any wings so it couldn't just fly over the walls.

"Not just that," Torrin stated. "That section of the city has the largest concentration of non-magic users. They're lambs to a slaughter if that Wyvern gets through."

"We're supposed to find a place to hide! What do you expect us to do against that thing?" Miirah asked as the group of apprentices collected around to see where the source of the earth rumbling booms were coming from.

"We might be able to hold it off long enough for someone to notice," Exilana offered as she gripped her staff tightly.

"And I might have an idea on how to do that," Torrin grinned as he stepped forward a sheet of ice forming in front of him toward the wyvern. "But I'm going to need a boost far stronger than I can muster myself."

Zel and Exilana seemed to get the hint as they moved behind him and immediately used their fire to fire the three of them down the sheet of ice.

"I call this trick Shield Breaker!" Torrin cried as he brought his hands together and a cone of solid ice formed in front of them like a battering ram propelled by the jets of fire shooting out the back. They hit the wyvern hard enough to make it shuffle its feet in reaction and shatter the ice barrier.

"That didn't go as well as I had hoped," Torrin grunted as they had rebounded off the solid form of the wyvern before it turned to look at them. Grabbing hold of each of the girl's arms he kicked them away. Skating to their feet as the wyvern made an attempt to crush them with its tail. The ripples from its strikes cracking the sheets and sending Torrin spiraling out of control to the ground with the others.

Several of the apprentices had arrived around them to help just as the wyvern reeled back. "Get down!" Torrin cried as he called on his ice to cover them in a shield of ice before the blast of flame rocked against it keeping it at bay.

"How are you doing that?!" Ahmed inquired.

"When it comes to my magic, I'm better at defensive rather than offensive. I'm not much help in attacking but I might be able to block some of what this thing can throw at us!"

Torrin had been smiling before the fire suddenly stopped. A sinking feeling in his stomach hit before he saw the movement beyond the ice. "Brace yourselves!" Zel cried out. Torrin encapsulated the small group in a ball of ice as the wyvern used its massive tail to shatter the shield that had been created and hit the ball of ice.

Torrin's creation working against them as they were all jumbled around in the ice form and crashed through the wall of the city like a cannon ball. The ice shattered as they made it through into the city district.

Getting up, Torrin look around as he felt the cut above his eye. Crimson blood running down the side of his face as he tried to get his bearings. He could see people running in fear, trying to find safety from the massive creature that was coming toward them through the dust and haze.

His blue eyes fell on a young boy, clutching desperately to his mother whose leg was trapped beneath one of the pieces of debris that had flew from the wall. They clutched at each other, the mother trying to shield her son from the horrible fate that awaited them. In the boy's eyes he could see pure terror. This was nothing like what he had been told. This was nothing like the training. There were lives at stake here. If they didn't do something now....that boy was going to lose his life in the most terrifying way.

Something deep down in Torrin sprang forth. A determination he didn't know that he had within him. A resolve that he knew wouldn't break no matter what stood against him. His eyes focused and he turned toward the breach in the wall with a fire burning in his eyes. Rushing forward passed the collection of apprentices he gave out a cry of challenge against the wyvern.

"I WON'T LET YOU THROUGH!!" he roared as he threw his hands from ground to the sky. A sheet of ice shooting up from the ground to fill the missing portion of the stone wall. Slamming his hands against the barrier he thickened it to match that of the eight foot deep wall.

The wyvern on the other side of the wall blasting the ice with his fire to find that it wouldn't melt. He resumed his barrage of claws and tail against the newly formed wall to claw his way through with a frustrated roar.

The blood that had trickled down Torrin's face had crystalized in place and the beading sweat frosting as cold just seemed to pulse from him. Turning to the others over his shoulder he gave out an effort-soaked snarl.

"Get him!"

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Lumi says...

Ahmed Amari
Last Writs

Years back, in the basin of the desert heat and hostility, Ahmed could remember Torrin's words being shouted by the men who'd saved him from the militant insurgance. Those that would've held him hostage, who'd've kidnapped his brothers and sisters, raped at will, and eventually brutally killed.

And he believed, then, that Miirah must have felt the same, as their desertion of the party for the little boy came with a harmonized shout of their liberated homeland: Al'abek muerahn!

Through the debris of ice and dust from the wall, Ahmed sped on the razor wheels of water that surrounded his feet. Miirah kept on his heels by launching herself from cobblestone to cobblestone--and then Ahmed had the boy; then Miirah had the boy; and then a deep red breed of wyvern came down on Ahmed, sending a cloud of smoke up around him.

As he opened his eyes, he found that he'd snatched, at the last moment, the wyvern by the pyrretic gland on its tongue, and was pinned beneath its wings. "Hey there...big guy," he groaned. The wyvern tried to snap at him, but with a sudden surge of energy to his grip on the tongue, his razor water sliced apart the muscle and gland, spraying Ahmed's face and torso with burning blood.

The wyvern reared back in exquisite pain. Exliana flew to Ahmed's side while Torrin arrived to shield them--while running terribly low on mana, Ahmed was sure. "Lia," coughed Ahmed through the smoke coming from his bloody body, "Miirah had the boy."

"If we're lucky at all, she'll have gotten it to the castle already."

"Can--cachck!--can you heal me?"

"I don't see the need in that, Ahmed." That voice. That sweet alto. The familiar and calming, almost healing-into-itself sound.

Laurel entered the ice shell by her own magic, freaking Torrin out--and she knelt by Ahmed. "If you're looking for war, boy, these are only belly scratches." She conjured a spool of water at the end of her fingers and laid them against his face and abdomen, where the water spread--luminescent--across the bloody patches.

"I can sense that you two are spent. Drink these ethers; they restore stamina and mana at a rate my magic can't keep up with." She muttered something under her breath that resembled Bloody Apothecaries, but then nodded to the three of them. "Those remaining of the elder council are assembling atop the castle to erect a shield about the kingdom...if we can. As it seems no one else has the gall to ask this of you, I will: keep those monsters at bay for as long as you can." She looked to Ahmed, sitting up. "Gabriel is on his way to help. Do. Not. Fear. These wyverns are...different, somehow. I cannot put my finger on it, but--"

"God, I feel like I could defend the entire city now," whispered Torrin, holding the empty bottle of ether out before him.

"I agree, but we need to move if we'll be successful at it."

Laurel nodded. "Then we split ways. Turn to Gabriel if you need healing. He knows enough in a tight spot."

"Leave Maher alone, you bastard wyvern!" It was Miirah, and the crash of cobblestones against hollow wyvern bone made her presence evident outside.

Ahmed looked to his comrades. "Ready?"



The three broke through the ice barrier together and launched at the Wyvern, who had his sights set on Maher, who'd succeeded in piercing the beast with lances of ice. Exliana covered the wyvern's neck in a collar of flame, tugging it down to the ground. Torrin cast a barrier around Maher as the quake of the fallen beast rattled him off his feet and into the air. Miirah launched an enormous rock to the wyvern's back, and as Ahmed rode the flying stone to the monster's shoulderblades, his razor water dug into the flesh and bone, severing the wings completely.

As it writhed underfoot, Miirah brought to hand a stone sharpened by sand above its head, and with one fell motion, crushed the skull of the wyvern.

Zel, Piryyah, and Antonia arrived to the wall from their own battle to witness the carnage the five had left in their wake. Ahmed stood up straight over the body and wiped sweat from his brow. "Now we just do that about fifty more times, and--"

It came without warning. Perhaps it was the air of possible victory about them, but that day, the students would mark as their first lesson in mortality.

The wall burst behind them, and as Ahmed turned to face the 15-meter wyvern, it dove below, clamped its maw over his body.

And aside from an arm outstretched for Miirah, he was fully consumed.
I am a forest fire and an ocean, and I will burn you just as much
as I will drown everything you have inside.
-Shinji Moon

I am the property of Rydia, please return me to her ship.

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Vincian says...


When Miirah was a child, she often played with sand with her powers unknowingly. When she became bored of the sand, she would fling it to the side to go play with something else.

She could only feel like she was the wyvern's plaything as she was tossed aside from the wall as it was destroyed. She was blasted back into the street. She saw and felt a flash of piercing white light and then pitch black and whining nothingness.

Is this how I die? Miirah's mind resounded(?Cried?) within itself. Finally, she could feel something, or perhaps her mind convinced she was able enough to feel something. Electricity spasmed through her legs, but she could feel them again. She wasn't dead.

She tried opening her eyes, but something glued them shut. Grasping her head with numb fingers, she managed to pry her eyes open. She saw. She saw and she saw but she couldn't comprehend what she saw. Her ears took in nothing. But her body felt, past the pain.

The very earth moaned under the weight of the wyvern. It heaved and mourned over the immense spilling of blood and life back into the sighs of the land.

The wyvern had knocked aside the remains of the wall like it was nothing more than glass. Miirah struggled to stand, but pressure intensified in her head, flashing white sparks in her vision. The corner of her head burned with an itchiness and pain. Instinctively, her hand shot up to it and she felt a sticky liquid there, hardening against her scalp and within her hair.

She couldn't tell if the blood was hers or someone else's. She didn't know which terrified her more. It wasn't just in her hair or on her hands, it was on her back and legs, and seeping into the earth all around her and through her and within her.

She let out a gasp and stumbled to the side of the wide road she was flung onto. Every bone, muscle, fiber in her body screamed in protest. But her mind? It screamed only one thing: Ahmed. He was closest to the wyvern's wrath. If Miirah was this badly hurt, she couldn't imagine what kind of pain Ahmed was in. Or wouldn't. But, no matter what, he had to be alive. She would not accept any other answer. She couldn't.

A hand grabbed her shoulder, and she jerked up to see...


"Yeah! Where is he?"

Her vision cleared and from it appeared Gabe, Ahmed's friend and mentor. His eyes were wide with fear, something she had never seen from him. She opened her mouth to respond, but blood spurted out in between violent coughs.

Gabe knelt down and hovered his hands over her head. "I'm so sorry. I didn't even think." Water poured in his open palms and from them a soft glow emitted. He ran them down her body, and Miirah could feel her body respond by morphing and bending to his will. Even so, she still felt like someone had just ran her over with a carriage after he was finished. He helped her to her feet.

A large crack split through the air, followed by a crash that echoed through the ground underneath their feet. They could see the wyvern thrashing through the roofs of the the village.

Miirah staggered to her feet. "I need to find the others."

Gave nodded. "I need to find Ahmed." He rushed away.

"Gabe, wait!"

He stopped, but didn't turn around.

Miirah gasped for breath; her lungs were still protesting the rushed healing from earlier. "Listen, that wyvern is our priority. I want to find Ahmed too..."

"He might be injured, or... If he is, I need to get him back in the fight. I'll meet with you when I can." He turned around a corner and was gone.

Miirah shook her head and rushed in the opposite direction, curving around the path of destruction. She found the others desperately trying to halt the wyvern's movement. Exliana glanced at her riding in on a sand mound.

Miirah shouted above the huge amounts of ruckus, "I have an idea! We need to gather everyone back up if we're going to stand a chance!"

* ~ \/ ~ *

Piryyah hung back as the rest rushed outside to get into position.

Miirah settled by her side. "Are you all right?"

"I'm just... worried, is all," she muttered.

"This isn't going to be easy." Miirah began, but realized her speech was just hollow words that neither of them believed. "You are able to bend, yes?"

"Well, yes..."

"That's all that you need--"

"But, I should be bending sand, not water. That's what my... everyone tells me."

Miirah turned Piryyah to face her. "You are not alone, Piryyah. Like you, I also follow the way of the sandbenders. But, it is not just sandbending, nor should it be. You have a gift, no it's not the one your culture and religion is based around, but it is valuable nonetheless. To try to change it would be to try to doubt its value. Do you understand?"

Piryyah pondered her message but nodded.

"Good, time to take us down another wyvern."

* ~ \/ ~ *

Miirah and Antonia rushed in, spreading a thick layer of smog and dust in the air. Miirah dodged the wyvern's tail and jumped off her sandpile she had been riding, ramming it into the side of the beast. Soot and earth exploded on impact and covered the land in a sunless haze. Miirah, however, was in her element.

Piryyah jumped down from a building and joined Antonia in moving people out of the wyvern's path of destruction, keeping her head down and her nose and mouth covered. The sand was a familiar force to those three, even if Piryyah wasn't immune to it. However, it was a force of destruction to everyone else, so they had to evacuate quickly.

Miirah knelt down in the traditional sandbender pose and steadied herself. The wyvern noticed her through the settling sand and a deep rumble rose through its chest cavity. A deep blast funneled out of its mouth.

Torrin charged the blast with a large shield of ice, planting himself between the blast and Miirah. The blast gulfed around him and seared the broken earth around him. Heat reached Miirah and licked at her face. But, she focused inward, and lowered her walls, allowing her soul to venture outward.

Zel and Exliana jumped to the side of Torrin, hurling blasts of fire at the wyvern's face. The beast shrugged it off, but the impact and mere force of their punches pushed it back, away from Miirah.

She could feel the wyvern. Within herself, she lay her soul bare around the sand, and the wyvern. Its presence was a storm within the natural flow of things, a constant battering of chaos and mysteries that threatened to consume Miirah, to bat away her soul as an inconsequential force in an apathetic universe. She would lose herself utterly to the winds of time and her body would rot as food for the vultures and dirt and worms.

But she had to expose herself.

So she pushed back from the wyvern, and instead spread herself around him, to the sand still floating lazily in the thick air. She surrounded the wyvern's chaos, and she felt herself within the sand. She knew what she was doing was a great risk, but it was where she was strongest. All at once, she had control of the sand in the air. It was more than she had ever manipulated before, but she harnessed it and whispered one simple suggestion.


"Now, Torrin!" Miirah gasped out as her consciousness flooded back into her body. The sand was too overwhelming. Once it listened to her guidance, she could no longer control the path she sent it on without risking losing herself completely. But she was well versed in the effect of her words. Sand split the air, reacting to a wind that wasn't there, but the effect was all too real. Miirah had started a sandstorm in the middle of the city. She stayed on her knees, keeping much of her concentration on keeping the sandstorm contained in a small area, lest it ravish the entire town.

Torrin nodded to her and let his shield break away, running to the wyvern. He launched himself up with blasts of ice that left a column behind him. He rose above the wyvern's head and let himself fall, landing on the beast's massive neck.

The wyvern roared, and in that moment the air ran thick with electricity. Miirah glanced down at her arm, where the fabrics of her garments stood on end. The sandstorm froze, and it was then that she realized the wyvern had a trick up its sleeve.

The wyvern rumbled a deep growl and its chest lit up. Torrin screamed as he was tossed of its neck. The wyvern spasmed and a large shock-wave blast coursed through the air. Miirah barely had time to bury herself in sand and could feel the tingling, burning sensation of electricity.

Once it passed, Miirah uncovered herself. The sandstorm had been weakened, but was still going, but their situation had gotten much worse. The wyvern had regained control of the battle --although Miirah doubted they even had control at any point. It focused its attention on Exliana and Zel. With one flick of its monstrous tail, it sent both of them spiraling into a crumbling building. Torrin launched himself again, but the wyvern unfurled its wings. He wrapped himself into an ice sphere as the wing slammed against him.

Miirah summoned several sand spears and launched them at the wyvern. They glanced off its neck and body, but it was enough to garner its attention. She stumbled backwards as the wyvern dropped its wings and landed back on the ground, sending dust and sand back into the air.

It lowered its head and Miirah came face to face to its pearly black eyes that held no life within them. It seemed to bore into her soul. She mentally grabbed the sand knocked up its landing and slammed it all into the wyvern's eyes. It recoiled a step, but didn't do much more than make it irritated.

Just then, another, smalled wyvern rose from the carcass of buildings. It charged at Miirah and she gasped. She rose a haphazard wall, but the wyvern jumped over it and rammed the larger one. Miirah then realized it was Zel.

Wyvern-Zel twirled to avoid a massive claw and spew flames at the larger wyvern's head, engulfing it with heat. The wyvern let out a blood-curdling scream and body slammed Wyvern-Zel, pinning her to the ground beneath its massive talons. It let out a growl that shook the earth.

Miirah knelt down quickly and retreated once again into herself. The noise suddenly muffled and vanished, and it felt as if time stopped around her, except for the sand. It prickled at her touch, anxiously awaiting her orders. She let her aura slip out of her shell, pooling around her. She expanded as quickly as possible to all the sand around her.

And, in an instant, she was back in her body.

"Zel! Get out of there!" Miirah shouted at the top of her lungs.

Wyvern-Zel dodged a talon as it scraped her face. She glanced at Miirah, then she shrunk back down to her human form. The larger wyvern lifted its claw in confusion, then slammed it back down in frustration. Miirah grunted as she forced all of the sand in the area onto the wyvern, covering it in a shell of hardened sand.

"Torrin!" Miirah gasped out. Zel sprinted to her, hand over her cheek, where a large gash was dripping out blood. "Torrin!" Miirah repeated. She could see spots dancing around the edges of her vision, and her legs were shaking.

The building that Exliana and Zel had crashed into earlier toppled, as Exliana and Torrin jumped out of the debris.

"Torrin! Now's our only chance." Miirah bit out as a splitting migraine pounded her skull. Her hands were getting heavy, but she couldn't drop them.

Torrin nodded and rushed over to the mound of sand. He heaved a thick block of ice through the cocoon, just as Miirah dropped her arms. The ice arced around the wyvern's neck and bolted it to the ground.

Antonia and Piryyah rushed onto the street. Piryyah steadied Miirah and handed her a small elixir. "Gabe crossed paths with me. It's something to give you energy."

The wyvern struggled against the ice, flapping its heavy wings against the ground. Torrin glanced at the group. "I'm not sure how long I can keep this from breaking."

Miirah downed it in one drink, and she could feel the feelings returning to her fingers and toes. "Antonia, are you ready?"

Antonia nodded, and they both split the sand covering the wyvern and around it.

Exliana and Zel blasted concentrated fire at the wyvern's neck, just past the ice. The wyvern screamed and blasted fire in front of it, but it was too late for it to do anything.

Miirah and Antonia sharpened the sand into thin circular blades, and they ran them through the wyvern's neck. The massive body slumped to the ground.

Miirah let the sand fall, and the dust settled around them. But, the destruction had already happened. Death hung high in the air where the sand settled.

A scream split the silent air, and Miirah immediately recognized it as Gabe's. Miirah couldn't think about what was going through her mind as she ran to the sound. She didn't want to think about what it could be as she rounded a fallen bell-tower and saw Gabe and--

It was Ahmed.

Miirah rushed to Gabe's side and knelt down.

Ahmed was sandwiched in between the crumpled remains of a house with a large plank of wood splitting his body almost in half. Miirah gasped at the sight, but she shoved any emotions bubbling at the top deep down.

Gabe had Ahmed's hand to his head, and Ahmed was wheezing. Miirah knew that sound. Many people called it the death rattle, but Miirah's people referred to it as the Land calling their people back.

Gabe gasped in a sob and returned his hands to Ahmed's split open stomach. He cupped some of Ahmed's blood and slathered it over the wound.

"I can fix this," he muttered out. "I can fix you, Ahmed. I can heal." He hovered his hands over the thickening blood, and tried to heal the wound. Ahmed gasped and laughed, and Miirah could hear the sand in his lungs.

The group caught up to them. Zel gasped at the sight, and Piryyah cried out.

Gabe looked to them. "I can fix him. I can heal him! I need- I need water."

Miirah touched Gabe's shoulder. He spun to her with pleading eyes. "I can fix him."

Miirah shook her head softly. She put her other hand on Ahmed's forehead. "Within the cycle of life, the Land has given you a vessel to walk upon its face."

"No, Miirah. I can fix this." Gabe pleaded with her.

"The Land has now thanked you for your service, brave one. And it asks for its vessel back."

"I can fix him. Please!"

"You will walk with Fandral in the next life just as you walked for him in this one." With a flick of her hand, sand slid around Ahmed's body.

Gabe leaned back, putting his head in his bloodied palms. "Please, I can fix him. I can fix this."

Ahmed's eyes fluttered and he looked in Miirah's eyes. She saw his plea, his pain, and his acceptance in that brief moment.

"May the sands bless you." Miirah said, and slid the sand through Ahmed's neck. She then touched the ground and let the earth accept his body once more, as Fandral accepted his soul.

"May the sands bless you." Piryyah repeated, and the rest of the group echoed.

Gabe touched one shaking hand to the ground. "No, no, I can heal him." His voice quietened more and more and sobs took over.

"I can fix this.


I can fix him.

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