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The Gate of Eternity.

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"My son, to die for another is easy. But to live your whole life with compassion in your heart is difficult, do you understand? In a moment it is easy to be selfless, to draw upon what good remains in your heart, but to keep that good through your whole life...that is difficult. To be just and pure, to be righteous in all your works, to do what is right..even when others think you are wrong, it is the hardest thing in the world."

Rain pattered down on the elderly mans head, running like tears down his face. He had seen too much fighting, too much war in his life and even now it seemed to be bearing down on him. Though the young boy at his side had never seen him bend, never break, this time was different: His back was crooked like a withered tree branch, his hands folded behind his back as though they could do nothing else. His simple leather rangers jacket had seen better days, the elements battering down upon it just as much as the tanned wrinkled face he wore, almost frozen in a frown.

It was little protection, especially up here on the walls of Ebonhawke. The child beside him frowned, looking across the Fields of Ruin with wide questioning eyes, the soft hazel gaze filled with the kind of empathy that would someday likely get him killed. His hands reached over the edge as he stared down at craters, at bodies, stretching out like a morbid carpet into the forest. His dress was a dark purple, his hands covered by gloves of the same color in a traditional Canthan childs garb that always set him apart from the other Ascalonian children. Questions danced across his expression, he'd never been allowed this close to the wall before, and he wasn't sure if he regretted leaping at the opportunity to come.

"What does that have to do with....this?" Sigvald breathed out, sweeping his gloved hand across the field, looking up at his father for answers, pausing only to brush the unnaturally silver hair he had from his face. "I...always knew the Charr wanted to kill us, but I never realized how many people died out here...is...is it always like this? are we just going to leave the bodies out there?"

His father turned around, kneeling down and set his hands on Sigvalds shoulder. His hazel eyes stared into Sigvalds own, he'd never looked older in Sigvalds eyes. "I'm showing you...what the rest of your life will be like, what you must brace for in the trials ahead. But I want you to never lose your heart, in all the violence, the pain, the death, you must never become like the monsters you fight. What makes humanity special, what makes people like you important, is that you never lose your empathy and your will to fight for whats right..."

The boy frowned then, his hand went up to a gold locket around his neck. A gift from his mother before she'd gone off to battle in the Fields, carefully placed inside was a faded photograph of his family. His brothers Marius and Anton, his father Mordred and her, Maria. It had been taken only a few years ago and yet as he opened it and ran a hand along it's surface, he could see that the time that had passed between then and now had seemingly aged him decades.

"I...I can try."

"Boy, I don't want you to try. No matter what...don't lose yourself..."

Sigvald breathed out, his eyes looking away from his father and out into the fields. Was his mother somewhere down there? among the countless bodies? he didn't know, depending on the whims of fate he might never know, soldiers had gone missing for longer. Ever since he could understand words he had been told to never say something he could never commit to, to never lie, to be honest with oneself. At this moment he could feel the weight of his ancestors crushing down upon him, judging him. After a moment he closed the locket and looked back into his fathers eyes, breathing out.

"I won't."
Posted Mon at 03:21 am · OP
1332AE, Thunderhead Peaks, on the final day before Kralkatorrik attacks.

Dust trickled down from the roof of the narrow catacombs of the Dwarven Ruins, to say it wasn't an ideal place to work was an understatement. The place itself was a breeding ground for gravelings and enormous spiders, thick cobwebs and decrepit tombs gave the place a distinctly unpleasant scent. If that weren't enough the smell was only amplified by tens of thousands of soldiers cramped into the space along with a fair number of actual undead soldiers, the former hadn't taken a bath in days, the latter didn't even take baths into consideration.

For doctors more then anyone this was a challenging place to work with, not only was the place a breeding ground for disease but water as well as medicine was in short supply. nevermind the constant stream of injured and dead. Branded were unlike anything they had faced before, inflicting brutal wounds on their enemies while constantly converting them into crystalline monsters, even when you put one down it had the tendency to reform. Because of this their enemy had been virtually endless, constantly reinforcing itself.

Injuries as a consequence were often mental as much as physical, trauma and depression ran rampant through the combined forces of Tyria as the Dragon slowly whittled away at their forces. Every single day had become a challenge just to live, to maintain ones composure and press on without collapsing in a sobbing heap of despair. The soldiers could manage, usually, but everyone had been drawn to fight from Priory scholars, Whispers Agents, and just regular civilians trying to pitch in, they were used to frontline fighting for the most part but the situation was so desperate that it wasn't like anyone was going to be turned away.

It was in this cramped, miserable, inhospitable space that Sigvald did his best work. The injured were sequestered away behind wooden panels in one corner of the underground fortress, a makeshift infirmary setup to deal with the nearly endless stream of injured. Doctors shouted over one another for medicine, sutures and bandages, often with subordinates and anyone else nearby running around to provide care for the critically wounded. Yet in the far end of this place was where Sigvald stayed, rarely moving as he went through some of the worst cases, sometimes without rest for a day or more.

To say the space in which he stayed was odd would be an understatement, indeed it was unorthodox enough that were not for the other humans in the pact and his results he would of likely been tossed out of the improvised hospital altogether. Ankhs were set on stacked crates, emitting a soft blue light as a soothing mist washed down from them, cleansing and cooling whatever they touched in a steady pulse of magic, each burst acting in accordance with some song that mortal ears could not hear. Tonics, potions, and elixirs lined every shelf from one end of the small space to the other. Many of the foul tasting draughts and salves were composed of unusual parts: Grounded animal fangs, snake bile, mashed devourer parts, animals mulched by an Oakhearts fist, and too many other things to list.

Ancient Canthan totems mixed with wax Ascalonian prayer seals, all of which were arranged across the inside of the square space like some kind of protective ward. It was made to keep away evil spirits, but just as often it warded away potential non-human(And sometimes human.) patients who were wary of that kind of superstitious magic tied to anything with their health. If that didn't make them at least a little concerned, the number of bone charms and talismans once they entered the mystical ring would if one wasn't prone to faith. Both the wings of Dwayna and Lyssa's masks were repeated images inscribed on just about anything of any importance, as if the repeated symbols would attract the gods blessings even from the mists. Below even was an enormous symbol that had been carved into the ground with the Ankh pointing outward from it's center in three different directions, an old Ascalonian word for 'Faith' etched in large letters at it's center with razor sharp precision.

Merely being in the space was a sensory overload on several different levels, none of which Sigvald paid any mind to, nor did he notice the countless strange looks he got every day by merely working there. More then once he'd been reported to a superior as a peddling huckster with no actual merit, a deluded priest who thought he could cure life threatening injuries through faith healing, but the mere fact that he could physically seal wound with a touch meant rarely did they lead into any long term trouble.

The contempt and scorn rained down by the unfaithful was constant, but barely worth acknowledging. He went from patient to patient in his heavy plate armor, which itself was inscribed with the golden symbols of Dwayna, and a mirror in Lyssa's visage as he relentlessly went about his work. Hair tied behind his face, hands often covered in blood between harsh rinsings, he tried to remain utterly and completely focused on the task at hand. He reached out to a wound and set his hands upon it, closing those hazel eyes as he began to speak.

"Mother Goddess, in thy heaven above hear my prayer. Bring this soul back from the brink, spare them, and their kin, the pain and suffering of loss. We your beleaguered children beseech you, ease this agony, mend the wounded flesh and tormented spirit. Banish this torment, so that we might go and do good works, so that we may return the compassion you have favored upon us, uplift and restore this lost child in body and soul."

That soft light emanated from his hands, seeping into the wound and easing the patients troubled breathing. Flesh regenerated, shards of branded popped out of the torn flesh and clattered to the bed they rested upon. It wasn't perfect, the bleeding was still intense but at least they had been stabilized. He went for his medicine bag and looked for something to stitch the wound closed, and he did this almost mechanically at this point, it had happened so many times in his life, he'd been face to face with more grievous wounds then he'd cared to count.

He was thankful for the work though, thankful to do something beyond sit around and think. Once upon a time it had been his favorite thing to do, to laugh with friends and lovers, to lecture on history and critically think about the nuances of the world. But when he thought now, it always turned inward, painfully so. To the friends he'd lost, to the lover he'd lost, to the three children back home that he might never see again, to the mistakes he'd made to lead him to this point, to the very fact that if he failed here it might be the end for what he had left.

That prayer too was mechanical, but not just for his patients. Often he repeated it in the dead of night, hoping those he called family were safe, that the mistakes he'd made hadn't harmed them in someway. Sometimes it became hard to go on, through all the pain, all the death, and just being out here...alone. No one to support him, no one he could really talk to, it was utterly mind numbing. He'd tell himself that he'd been through worse, but had he really? Sometimes, those rare moments where the patients slowed, when he had time to stop and breathe...those were the worst times. When all he could do is sit around and think, when he was constantly fighting off the desire to just break down...


His eyes snapped open then, blinked briefly, tiredly, as he looked over to a Vigil officer standing next to him on the bed. He'd been so entranced that he'd not even heard the bulky iron clad warrior come up from behind. By the looks of her she was a former Seraph, probably came along with Logan Thackery, her armor etched with the Wings of Dwayna just like his own. She had gripped him by the shoulder and though he didn't usually like people invading his personal space, he allowed her to pull him up.

"Yes? what is it?" he asked, releasing a tired breath as he moved to stand. He searched her face for any sign of her intentions, but the thin visor of her closed faced helmet provided little in the way of clues.

"You're needed down below, the situation is starting to escalate and as important as your...work...up here is, we'll need you down there as soon as possible."

Sigvald blinked his eyes a moment, moving for the things on his shelf. "...Right, well just let me go get what I can pack and ..." he paused as the Vigils hand tightened.

"I did say as soon as possible. You, along with every other hand we can get, is needed now. Sharpen your weapons, get something to eat from the chef, get briefed, and then get ready to go."

He frowned. "Can I at least pack away a few things? just one bag..."

"If you must."

"I must." he insisted with a nod, her gauntleted hand releasing his shoulder then. "What am I even needed downstairs for? there hasn't been another breach has there?" he asked. What she replied with wasn't at all what he was expecting, and somehow he found he had even more worries then before...

"We're going to kill a dragon. Now."
Posted Mon at 04:49 am · OP · Last edited Tue at 6:53
Everything was a portent in his eyes, though he never spoke about it with the people he knew, he practically read everything in signs.Birds flying overhead to signal good luck, light reflecting of glass to show a place of importance, a deer bounding through the forest to symbolize good health and long life. What sign was there to be made of this? of the anxiety palpable in every face? in the dust pouring down from the shuddering mountains overhead? from the arguments that still burst out between corsairs and soldiers every so often?

They were going to die, weren't they? This was the time, the place. Everyone has one, it's the nature of life, he'd nearly hit his forties...far longer then many others...yet he somehow didn't think it would come so soon.

He breathed out as he looked over the balcony and into the gaping abyss below, the darkness of Thunderhead Keep was somehow choking. All around he could hear soldiers gathering, taking dragonsblood spears from nearby barrels, setting up positions around the resonance crystal nearby. General Almoraa Soulkeeper had taken position on the end far opposite of where he was. Stranger allies had also taken up arms, among them an inquest golem powering up just behind him, a number of Freed Awakened setting up defensive lines, and Olmakhan summoning massive sand elementals to bolster their defense.

And yet, he knew it wouldn't be enough. He had survived the Branding once, what was the chance he'd survive this a second time? how many others had faced a dragon more then once and lived? The sting of what he lost in Elona only made him think about how Katarina would do without him...how the triplets would grow up without a father, if they grew up at all.

He gripped his mace tighter as weapons were readied, spears lifted overhead to throw on the word, siege weapons drawn tight to fire. He could hear the nervous chattering of his fellow soldiers even as he brought up his mace and hand mirror, others preferred their silence as they just tried to focus on the task at hand. Both reactions he'd seen too many times on the battlefield, and he knew that the latter were often just as fearful as the former, and yet despite all these emotions and all these sensations, he felt...nothing.


Maybe it was the emotional exhaustion, maybe it was just a life of seeing too much, feeling too much. But despite all the pain inside he found that his eyes remained dry, his voice just as steady as it was before. There was no terror as the countdown started, no profound sense of loss, there was just acceptance. He'd lived a good life hadn't he? Fought hard in the line of duty,done his best to provide for his friends and family, saved as many lives as he could. He'd taken one loss too many now though, seen too much pain, too much death, lost even some closest to him. A merciful Dwayna would say this is the end, that he could just lay down, and maybe see those people on the other side.


Except...he wouldn't, a frown slowly deepened along his features. He wouldn't see all of them, some of them he knew he would never see again, that he had his gods to go to, and they had their own afterlife. Whose fault had that been? His, he was the one always dragging them into danger, telling them to fight for what he felt was right, and though he loved them dearly he also always put them into danger. It's why he had started healing, because he couldn't cope with what he'd done, what he'd lost. He had trouble merely accepting bloodshed again, he just wanted to make things grow, to breathe life in the way they had, to try and atone.


The earth cracked apart as a roar tore at the very fabric of reality, one moment nothing had been there, and the next moment something simply was. The dragon had come out of thing air and burst through the side of the mountain, suddenly, violently. It's eyes alone were almost the size of a Charr tank, it's head could swing right and smash apart the balcony in one violent motion, it's neck was seemingly two airships long. The sheer scope was awe inspiring as the monstrous creature lifted it's head to look upon them, if he breathed then they would of died on the spot.

Yet he could hear Dragon Watch charging their crystal on the other end, he just had to hold out even as countless Branded creatures snapped into reality around them. In a moment they had gone from near silence to absolute chaos, with crystal devourers and Ogres teleporting and erupting around key positions in an instand. Battle shouts were screamed, swords clashed against crystal claws, and blackpowder guns fired with all their might. Sigvald didn't even turn to see the first blow struck at the dragon, for in that moment he already was overwhelmed by the creatures swarming around them.

"Rally to me!" he called over the chaos as his mace swung in a violent arc, cracking hard into the side of an Ogre about to swipe at him. He unleashed a second swing at the beasts knees as well, holy fire trailing along as it as the creatures entire leg burst into the flame. That gave him the split fraction of a second he needed to roll past the monster and for other soldiers to form up around him. "Diamond formation, we need to protect one another and wedge ourselves between the branded on the east side!"

If anyone had any objections, they had not the time to voice them. The situation had become so dire so fast and no one else in the handful of troops on his line was really in the state of mind to be making snap decisions. They did their best to comply even as they stumbled over the Branded, at one point pausing to watch as Aurene appeared over the Elder Dragons impossible form, wielding some sort of brand of her own to fuse the creatures neck to the mountainside. He wasn't sure if that was a reason to cheer, or if that in and of itself horrified him.

They crashed into the Branded line and though he'd wanted them organized, the panic was so intense that they still wound up more a ragged mob then a trained and disciplined squad of Vigil. That seemed to be a common enough sentiment along the line, no matter which direction it came from, it was tinged with panic and fear unless a squad happened to be next to the strongest fighters. In part that's why he needed to cut his way to Almorra, next to her they might of been able to retain some cohesion.

Dragonsblood spears and siege fire soared overhead to crash into the dragons neck, though it seemed to react in pain there was no way to tell for sure if they were even doing lasting damage to the accursed thing. Calling upon his faith he smashed his mace into the ground and, much like at the hospital, a mystic symbol of protection suddenly inscribed itself into the stone. "Around me! NOW!" he called out, though if he were honest with himself they were reacting more at the sudden burst of protective light then anything in his voice, it was the sole pinprick of anything save purple death in enclosed balcony.

One of the soldiers pulled himself up beside him, sword in hand as he batted away an Ogres claw. "Sir, we can't hold out like this! if we keep pressing forward the Branded will just push through the holes in our line and cut us down from the center out." he wasn't wrong Sigvald thought even as he smashed down his mace on a Devourer, in the moment he had to headcount they had already lost two in the press just forming up a second time. Still the words rolled out of his mouth before he had the time to think about them: "Moving backwards the same as moving forwards at this point, and standing still is just death, so we don't have much of a choice do we?"

Hard to argue with that.

He clubbed aside an Ogre seeking to strike the nearest soldier, a blast of blue protective magic rolling outward in a wave. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the floating white mass of a resonance crystal, the large whitish blue objects that the commander had pinned this entire operation on, it was from them that Aurenes dragon magic could flow, and from there that the main hardpoints on the balcony were formed. They were the closest thing to a safe haven, and by the sounds of things up above, the Commander had swung around this side, so if he could just....


Sigvald frowned, the battle had suddenly gone still. Why? He turned to look where that soldier was looking, and in that moment he could see that the Eder Dragon was staring directly at them. Whatever they were doing up above it had gotten Kraalkatoric's attention. Panic started to surge along the formation as the monster opened it's mouth, looking down at the both of them with those dreadful power hungry eyes, primordial and malevolent. "Tighten formation around me! NOW!"

"Lyssa bestow upon us your protection, bring forth chaos to combat the darkness and reflect harm back at those who would harm us. In your arms death may turn it's face from yours, preserve the beauty of Tyria from corruption, ward away those who do not see the truth in illusion.." he rattled off the warding prayer with his mirror held high, voice strained as he struggled to bring his voice above the growing cacophony. The mirror reflectedthe dragons image back at it through a dozen fragmented shards, the glass broken to purposely distort the image of whatever was attacking them. Pale blue light rose around them in a dome just as a bright purple energy gathered in an impossibly large mass in front of the dragon, the power of a fallen god and multiple other dragons combing with it's own until...

Everything went white.
Posted Mon at 07:37 am · OP
They had been staring at the sky for what seemed like forever.

Just laying there, gazing into the pure white that stretched in every direction. Vaguely they were aware that they were half submerged in water, laying on their back like this against the soft soil of a riverbed. Normally they would be concerned, normally they would be worried about the fact that they couldn't feel one of their arms, but at the moment they couldn't really feel a whole lot of anything. So they just breathed in, breathed out, taking in the soft smell of lilacs on the sea breeze.

Faintly in the distance they could hear a woodpecker, though were they to lift their head he would see there were no trees for miles around. They could just..rest...like this, close their eyes, let it all fade to black and finally get the rest they so craved. It would be ease wouldn't it? To just let the water take them, to embrace the cool sensation along their skin, through their hair. They closed their eyes, this is what they wanted, to just sleep, to embrace that serenity and let their weary bones finally be at ease.

No bloodshed, no pain, no death. I can just talk about the universe and the sky, like I always wanted, to be at peace with the cool breeze and the setting sun. I finally have an eternity where we can just talk, to laugh, to love, to not worry even as the universe ends. Though I am disappointed in myself, I cannot say I didn't try, and that's all that matter isn't it? We can be happy, you and I can..."

There was no one here.

Of course no one would be here, had they not told himself that very fact before he fell down here? In the chaotic light there was no solace, no peace, no serenity. The hand they could feel gripped the soft soil, after a moment they came to sit upright. Sigvald brushed their hair from their face, idly looking down at their right arm. It had a hole roughly thick as one finger and going in one end and out the other side of his shoulder. But there was no pain, there wasn't even blood, it was just...there...and they were detached from that fact.

Such things simply had no place here. Hunger, pain, exhaustion, their body felt none of it...so why did they feel so tired? their eyes blinked a moment, and slowly they pulled themself up to stand. In the foggy distance he could see a faint light, several lights even, and all they could do was move forward.

One by one they could see candles appear from the mist, each one placed on a small paper boat floating through the water. Floral patterns were drawn on them in a variety of colors: Vibrant emerald meshed with deep ocean blues, radiant yellows mixed with regal purples, some greens were deeper and darker then others, dotting the ships as they passed through the mists guiding the others. When they were a child they used to fold paper flowers to pass the time, painting them those same regal purples and fiery reds.

The latter of the two wasn't present, and for some reason that filled them with a profound sense of sadness.

It had been peaceful and serene for a time, but now their emotions just came crashing down on them all at once. They could feel tears starting to well behind their eyes and they tried their best to hold them in, but all it did was make their chest start to hurt. Why couldn't they feel the wound in his arm when they could feel all of this? Their chest hurt so much from trying to hold it in, tears were rolling down their face and into the water. They were moving forward but they didn't know why, In fact they had forgotten why they'd gotten up at all. They just wanted to curl into themself, to sit in a ball and grow as small as possible, to just vanish off the face of existence like they were never there.

Where were they? Where was Katarina? would their children miss them or would they be better off without them? Their family had grown distant and estranged, like he had become to himself. Across the water he could see paper roses and tulips, carefully folded and poking out of the water one after another, shades of violet or devoid of color altogether. They tried to breathe, exhaling mist though they could feel no cold.

Floating in the water were discarded wallscrolls, many of which were like the ones back home. Blessings and prayers for prosperity, for fertile crops, long lives, and happy homes adorned each. Before the Charr had destroyed their home in a bombardment they remembered their father religiously putting them up on the wall. Occasionally they would set a bowl of water in front of one, light incense and pray to the Lady in the Mirror, hoping to bring balance to a life wrought with violence. That balance never came though did it? No, the gods only helped those who could help themself.

They had to find that balance within themself, to bring out that compassion and kindness when they could. In a city plagued by death and destruction, they were never that good at it though. From a young age they had trouble expressing any emotion in a way that wasn't physical in some shape or form, though they could give speeches to a crowd of soldiers, they couldn't express their devotion to lovers, their affection to friends. Worse they often feared that physical contact, sometimes it made them too nervous to be touched, like a hug would rob some innocence he kept to themself. It made them appear aloof, distant, emotionally attached, unapproachable. Why was that different from any other man though? isn't that what they were supposed to be to provide? emotions were a weakness, no one would believe them if they tried to connect anyway.

They looked up at the sky, what was wrong with them? these empty nights that plagued his thoughts, the hollow feeling in his chest. Ripples appeared in the water as rain fell, yet through the endless light they could somehow make out distant stars despite the sheer impossibility of it, as though their outlines were carved into the sky the same way these paper flowers stood out against the radiant water. They wandered like this, like their friends and lovers wandered away from them, could you blame them? They couldn't satisfy all the needs they had, spiritual and emotional, they could only be emotional when it was impersonal or when they were pressed to their absolute limit.

Did they even even have emotions? Did anyone else think so? They didn't, maybe they just pretended, maybe they were the dumb animal they were always told they were all their life, maybe they should just stop moving and...

A breathe caught in their throat then, in the distance they could see that the boats had gone from dozens to hundreds, and from hundreds to thousands. Among them other like them wandered, lost souls just trying to find their way forward. Some stumbled and fell, sinking under the water with not so much as a ripple to indicate their passing. It was like they were never part of anything else at all, would that be so bad? To embrace that peace, to let those thoughts vanish from their mind, and just fade into nothingness.

No more pain, no more awkward silence, no more death, no more pretending, no more dishonesty to others or themselves, no more loss, no more loss.

Their feet felt anchored to the floor, yet they still dragged themselves forward. The tears had stopped, they weren't sure if it was because the emotion had passed, or because they had no more left to give. The small lifetime they spent in this place seemed to stretch out behind them like a carpet, would they keep going forever? Maybe it was a test, to see if they would continue to struggle in futility, continue to hurt themself even when they should of known better, maybe the peace would be granted if they learned to just accept it. Grenth was waiting for them, arms outstretched, if they just fell forward all their worries would go with them.

Their sins weighed on their shoulders, rolled down their back, despite the serenity all around they continued, though doing so was physically painful. They could see the distant lights grow brighter, could see the pathway of flowers coming to a halt, there was a voice on the other end calling for them. Come back home, we're waiting for you, just a little further, if you don't give up...

They couldn't hear the next words, but the sweet lie they conveyed wanted to make them just stop, they had heard that too many times. Their eyes wandered to the wallscrolls floating in the waters, to the little makeshift pathway they made into the bright light, to the starry sky above. They raised a hand to the light, they would have to pretend again wouldn't they? They would have to endure the pain, the lies, the monsters parading as heroes, the vile things spit from ministers mouthes, and the wretched creatures of the waking world. If they passed through they would be connected to that pain again, to be like the monsters they fought.

They would wade into that horde of monsters again with their mace raised, crying out prayers to the gods. Despair would flood their mind and the waves of corruption would rise around them like a vast ocean. They could no longer just protect, no longer just be, they would have to kill and fight for what they believed in, they could not fade knowing they had a good life, they would be open to making more mistakes, to losing more again. Why would anyone subject themself to that?

And yet they did.
Posted Mon at 06:47 pm · OP · Last edited Mon at 18:50
The dull ache reminded him that he needed to get up.

His armor was covered in dust, how long had he been laying here? As he opened his eyes he could not even see the ceiling in this darkness. He hadn't fallen down had he? No, of course not, if he had fallen off the balcony he would of been dead several times over. Sigvald breathed in, breathed out, just trying to take everything in and find some source of light, something he could grasp onto.

That didn't mean he wasn't aware of how bad his situation still was. He glanced over to his side and immediately saw the jagged shard of rock pointing into the air, flecked with specs of blood. At his eyes trailed down it, it predictably lead down to his shoulderblade, why he wasn't in more agony at this pont was beyond him considering. After a moment he pulled himself up to sit, the throbbing pain started to spread down his arm with every passing moment, his body was screaming for him to do something about the urinary but he knew that if he tried to pull it out it would only make things ten times worse.

A hiss escaped his lips as he looked at the ruined foundations all around him, at several other rocks pointing up into the caverns roof, at the branded crystals that littered the ruin that was the balcony. The second platform above had almost collapsed entirely under the weight of so much rock and brand crystal. Vaguely he was aware he was surrounded by bodies, but somehow he just didn't...register...there was no emotional impact at all, someone else might of been horrified, he should of been horrified when he noticed the grey metal plates among the rocks, but he just wasn't.

He stood, bleary eyes taking in his surroundings. "Hello?" he called out, the sound echoing around him in the cavern. Had the survivors left? or worse, were there no survivors? he shook the thought away as he did the only thing he could do: Put one foot in front of the other, keep moving forward. His remaining hand went to hold his arm steady, just minimize exertion as much as he could, if he kept doing that the pain shouldn't be too bad. But if he collapsed again...

He didn't know how much blood he had lost as it was, how long had he been laying there? he didn't know, he couldn't possibly know. Were the bodies here because the Pact was annihilated? could no one get up to the balcony? Did they win and he just get isolated? Countless questions buzzed through his head, all of them pointless, in the infinite darkness he had no one to ask save the stone. He didn't say any branded though, despite the crystals all around...whatever had happened, it hadn't afforded the Branded the opportunity to gut him in his sleep.

He winced as he made his way ip the pile of rubble, he could see a sheer drop just ahead. Most of Thunderheads internal structure must of collapsed between having part of a mountain collapse on Kralkatorric and having his body rip it's way into the side of the Keep to begin with. As he approached the edge he debated dropping down, this was going to hurt wasn't it? if he just fell then and there, it was probably going to put a fair amount of pressure on his arm, and then...

He breathed in, kneeling over the edge then. There would of probably been a staircase at some point, as it stood it was a few feet down. He couldn't even try to climb down if he wanted to, or was able to for that matter, there were no handholds. Briefly he looked around and braced himself, if he stayed up here all that would happen is slow starvation among the dead, he didn't really have a choice.

Pain is part of life, to choose to live is to embrace that pain, and he had made his choice.

There was a loud 'thunk' of metal against stone as he landed on his, he couldn't suppress as scream that tore it's way from his lips. The emre impact had jostled the shard of stone in his shoulder, causing it to tear and bleed fresh new blood down both his arm and his chest, bits of broken and fragmented bone increasing the agony as they ground together in an incredibly uncomfortable way. As was he couldn't roll to absorb the impact, and the arm that did work was also in a fair bit of pain from colliding with the stone floor.

His vision was red, the throbbing pain in his head agonizing, vaguely he could taste copper on his tongue. Did he break something else on the way down? he could only hope not as he tried to once more pull himself up, nearly collapsing a second time as his consciousness threatened to ebb away. Breathe in, breathe out, steady breathes would help him calm just enough to force himself up. He closed his eyes, counted to three, and slowly began to push up, a prayer on his lips as he tried to bring himself into focus.

"Grenth shield me, ward away the specter of death so that your favored children might continue to work in your name. Protect me from the here after so that the will of the gods will be done, so that we may continue to cast down the false idols and raise shrines in your name, so that we may reap those submerged in sin, send them to your halls for judgement and enact our revenge upon the wicked and evil."

The words spilled out without pause, it was a prayer he had recited many times to the dying, to those for whom conventional healing would not work. It was a reflect of the old houses, the forgotten houses from which humanity came from, for nothing was older and more primordial then death. Whether Grenth actually protected him or not mattered little, merely reciting it gave him the strength to lift himself, to push forward in spite of his weakness, to temper himself in faith and continue down the hallway.

Were he in the right mind, he would of considered everything around him an even worse omen then he had taken before. Reflective surfaces had a certain reputation for bouncing negative energy around endlessly, and he was vaguely conscious of the fact that every surface in the branded tunnel was at least a little reflective now,and as he spoke his prayer he would of likely wondered if even being in the accursed place negated anything he said.

It was then however that he started to hear voices in the distance, to hear people speaking, to hear people...sobbing.

Yellow light contrasted against the purple, figures took shape in the distant darkness. Was it salvation or damnation? it wouldn't be the first time Branded mimiced the behavior of those who still retained their free will. He gripped his mace tightly and prepared for the worst. One by one, faces came into view, all of them grim, all of them filled with pain and despair. Confusion was plain on his own features, what had broken trained soldiers so? he raised his hand to signify he was coming in peace.

He wasn't prepared enough for how bad it could actually be.
Posted Tue at 08:12 am · OP · Last edited Tue at 8:17
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