Forum Index > Official Games and Contests > 2018 Fall Festival - Storytelling Day 13
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Posted: 11/25/2018 at 5:55 PM
~ Savior ~
The strangers warning echoed like the chime of a bell in Zima's frantic thoughts. What more could she possibly sacrifice? Her voice left her as she fell into a rhythmic trot next to her new friend, Yae. So much had happened during this chaotic journey. Soft paws crunched against dead bracken as Zima thought of the main purpose of this mission, saving her sister. A sharp pain stabbed at her chest, "Yae..." she muttered, pausing to meet the Lunemara's dark blueberry gaze. "What...what if she's not..."
Yae stared affectionately at her friend, "Don't worry about something as silly as that!" Bouncing onto Zima, Yae snuggled close to the young Vulnyx's fur. "We'll find her, I just know it! Besides, we have an amazing warrior to guide us." Zima smiled, and despite how simple of a reassurance that was, she was already feeling 10 times better.
"Ya, you're right!" the little miss purred as they continued onward, unaware of a pair of watchful blue eyes.
"Halt!" Exclaimed the deep voice of the mystical Ryori before them. "We have arrived." Zima and Yae flinched against a chilled blast of the wind that ruffled their soft fur. They were nowhere near the volcano!
"What is the meaning of this!?" Zima questioned, her paws trampling the leaves below as she frantically looked for her sister. "Where is Zuri!!!" This was wrong, something was wrong! Her sister wasn't here. She searched the Ryori's eyes for an sign, some sort of explanation but he just stared at her with a gaze full of knowledge.
"Zima," he spoke calmly, his angled face turning to meet the moon. "You're sister isn't here, nor is she anywhere."
The Vulnyx was confused; where could her sister possibly be?
Padding closer, the stranger place a cold paw on the young girl's shoulder, "Zuri's been dead for months, but you cannot bring yourself to face the truth."
Zima shock her head, tears rolling down her fluffy cheeks, "You're wrong!" She hissed, her claws tearing at the lush grass. "S-she's fine! I-I swear, she's not..."
"The cost you must face is your own denial, child." He called before a fierce wind engulfed the two girls. "I have been tasked to rid you of your suffering, and for that, you must forget." Zima clung onto her terrified friend as her consciousness slowly slipped away from her grasp. "Fear not, you shall keep your memories of Yae, but I cannot allow you to mourn any longer."
"Zuri!" Zima cried out, "I couldn't save you, I'm sorry!!!" A familiar smell hit her senses as a warm sensation covered her entire body.
Let me go, my precious sister. Even if you must be rid of me I will always love you. Stay strong, Zima.
A soft voice could be heard before everything faded to black.
( Alrighty, I know this is a little long but I couldn't find a way to shorten it.Either way, I hope anybody that takes the time to read this enjoys it! It's a bit of a sad ending. )
Edited By Spicybb on 11/25/2018 at 5:57 PM.
Warden of Umbra
Posted: 11/25/2018 at 6:10 PM
The mention of a price made Zima tense. That sounded like- well, magic, and not the friendly kind.
The Ryori didn't seem to notice. "Blood has power, of course. Many things have power, but blood is- easy in a way that many of those are not." It seemed to grin in the dark. "Of course- easy is not the same thing as safe."
He grinned. "This, on the other hand, will be completely safe. But it will not be easy." Saying that, it offered its paw. "Bite it. Make sure you swallow."
Zima hesitated, but did as the Ryori demanded.
"Follow me, and find your sister" The Ryori said, and seemed to sink into a patch of shadow. Zima did, diving into the same shadow herself.
Flowing through the shadows to reach Zuri was instinctual. Dealing with what she saw was not. Her sister was strapped to a slab, while the various sylesti of the Blood Cascade Coven performed some form of ritual chant. When Zima arrived, they charged for both, bloodlust gleaming in their eyes.
Somehow, between the Ryori and Zima, fighting them off was easy. Fighting them off without seriously harming them- that wasn't. Within minutes, every member of the coven was lying on the ground, many with broken or completely ruined limbs.
Zima freed Zuri. That still left the problem of finding their way back, but they were both safe.
Posted: 11/25/2018 at 7:47 PM
"Cost?" Zima asked her fur shivering. She wanted to run, but where could she go? It seemed only the warrior knew where they were going.
"Alright," She sputtered out, "Lead the Way," Yae looked ready to protest when Zima covered her face with her paw.
The ryori led ahead turning and swerving through the forest. He jumped over a looming log with ease more than double Zima's height. Zima, who was already falling behind jumped. Her claws slipped. She fell backwards nearly crushing Yae on her back. Yae protested but Zima wasn't listening. She shook the leaves out of her fur and sniffed. The ryori scent was mixed with some other scent. It smelled so familiar almost like...
"Vorkids!" Yae screamed as they surrounded them. Zima looked around for a escape but there was none: they were trapped. Zima smelled the air, checking how many beasts were approaching. A ryori's scent filled the roof of her mouth when a familiar scent filled the air.
A voice then spoke from above them. "The Lune cannot continue. It is not safe for her to stay here," Zima swerved her head to find who had spoken. "She must go," Unsure what to do, Yae drew nearer to Zima.
It was Warrior who had betrayed them. Yae had been there for her and her sister. "No!" She said refusing to listen to a liar. "This is wrong. Please, Let us go,"
Silence filled the air at her response. After a moment he spoke "Very well. Do as you please. But I will guide you no more,"She hesitated; how would they find their way without him? She thought back to all of the memories she had with Yae protecting her again and again. Finally, she spoke: "I can't. She's my friend. All I want is to find my sister, but I can't leave her: She is my like a sister to me," Yae wiggled out and proudly sat next to her in agreement.
Warrior jumped down and the illusions rested. "The greatest sacrifice one can have is loyalty to a true friend. You two are ready. Come," To Zima's surprise, a path curved up to a hill. She ran up while the Ryori carried up Yae.
Just reaching the peak she gazed out into the valley. Sprawling mountains and soothing lakes rained out of clouds. "She is there," the Ryori spoke pointing to a range of mountains nearby. Zima winding down each step racing to reach the bottom. However, she couldn't remember which way it had been. She glanced back and forth desperately to find it again. The ryori laughed and jumped a steep dive off the pile catching Yae before she fell. "We're ready,"
The hike up the mountains had nearly begun when Yae spoke, "I hear something," Zima listened closer, past the howling wind. Could it be Zuri? The sound came again. Zuri! Zima racing forward to the source. Her sister's head was stuck in between two rocks. Zima pulled but was unable to get her out. Warrior yanked but nothing was working. Even all three of them couldn't pull Zuri out.
Suddenly, a gust of wind flickered behind Zima. She turned around only to spot a group of fully grown Lunemara. Hunter stood at the front. So, we meet again, young one. Let us help you. They all lined up and heaved. Zuri shot out. "Thanks so much! To all of you," Pointing to the new arrivals. "I had gotten lost in the forest and ended up here. I would've been still stuck in there if it wasn't for you guys," She gave a friendly nudge to Zima.
Hunter smiled and Warrior chuckled, "Let's begin our journey home," Zima nodded. She beckoned her sister and started telling her journey.
Edit: I know my Zuri looks a lot like Spicybb, but it wasn't on purpose
Edited By Fastnatalie1 on 11/26/2018 at 5:01 PM.
Posted: 11/25/2018 at 8:18 PM
The warrior knew the lay of the land as if it were his own home, and the small group traveled quickly and quietly for many hours. After having so much excitement on her short journey, Zima was glad for the respite. As the Volcano loomed closer, the dark of night rapidly approached. The moon was full and bright, lighting their path.
After many exchanged worried glances, Yae couldn't help but ask "Are we going much further?"
The warrior looked up at the night sky, then turned to face them. "We can rest for a few minutes, but we need to keep moving. Before it is too late."
"What do you mean, too late?" Zima asked worriedly. "Please tell me more about my sister!"
"Very well" the Ryori said with an impatient huff. "What do you know about the Blood Cascade Coven?" he asked Zima.
"We were told they are an ancient group that practices unspeakable things" Zima whispered, with a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"That is correct. Tonight happens to be a special night for the Coven. They plan to sacrifice a young Vulnyx tonight when the moon reaches its highest point. We much reach the other side of this volcano if we have a chance at saving your sister."
"So why didn't you save her yourself? What do you need our help for? I love my sister dearly, and will fight my hardest to save her! But I am not experienced in such things. How can I possibly help?" Zima looked away in embarrassment, wishing she was more strong and skilled than she was.
"I told you there was a price to pay, and when the time comes, you will know what to do. Now quickly, we must resume our travels." The warrior stood up and began walking towards a cave opening. "The quickest way to the Beyond Lands is through here."
Zima scooped Yae up and trotted off after the Ryori. It was dark inside the caves and there were many tunnels that branched off in many different directions, yet the Ryori never hesitated. Zima was quickly lost, and had no choice but to trust the Warrior to bring them out. Feeling stressed about the impending confrontation and her sister's well being, Zima pushed on, not allowing herself to feel tired.
After what seemed like hours, the group emerged from the caves into a dense forest. The Ryori stopped a few feet inside the tree line and beckoned them closer. "The Coven's meeting place is just ahead. We must be very quiet!" he exclaimed, with a stern look in his eyes. "We will sneak ahead and take a look before we do anything. I will take you with me only if you promise to stay quiet and stay behind me."
Zima gulped nervously, and nodded her head. Yae shivered and crouched lower into Zima's fur. "Very well, let's go" the Ryori said and began heading deeper into the forest. After a short distance, Zima's ears perked and she whispered to Yae "Do you hear that?". The Ryori quickly turned around and shushed them. "They are just ahead, quiet now!" he hurriedly whispered.
After only mere moments, a faint glow appeared through the trees ahead. As they inched closer, a large clearing appeared. There was a bonfire in the center and many shrowded figured gathered around menacingly. Zima scoured the area but didn't see her sister. She looked at the Ryori in despair. At the edges of the fire, she could see small structures and what looked like a building that could be a temple. After several nervous minutes, a door opened to the large temple-like building. Out stepped 2 tall hooded figures, a masked powerful looking creature, and a small striped furball being lead on a chain. Zuri! Remembering the Warrior's warning, Zima watched as her sister was lead into the circle of shadowy figures.
At the sight of her sister in peril, Zima couldn't help herself and ran out from the safety of the trees, accidentally flinging Yae from her shoulders. She ran straight into the circle and yelled furiously "Let my sister go!"
"And who are you, young one?" the masked figure demanded. All the hooded figures took a step towards Zima.
"My name is Zima, and I am here to save my sister! Let her go, you have no right!" she exclaimed.
"Zima, no! Get out of here while you still can!" Zuri yelled. "I don't want to see you hurt too!" she whimpered and started crying.
"I will never leave you again. You are my sister and I love you!" Zima turned to the masked figure and said in her bravest voice "Take me instead. I volunteer to take her place."
The creature did not move for a moment, as if considering her offer. "I will agree to your proposal, but only if your life is given freely and by your choice alone."
Zima ran to her sister and looked into her frightened eyes. "I am sure" Zima said.
"Very well, release the spotted one. You are both free to go" the creature said. Zuri's chains were release with a loud clank.
"Wait, what?" Zuri said incredulously, and looked at her sister. They huddled close, fearing this was a trick.
"The ritual is now complete, we must go. Ask your warrior friend should you require an explanation, we have much work to do". The shadowy forms all turned in unison and followed the creature into the dense forest whence they came.
The sisters watched them go, still disbelieving they had earned their freedom. "Let's get out of here before they change their minds" Zima exclaimed, and took off running to where the Ryori and Yae were last seen.
Catching up the them, Zima asked the Ryori "What just happened here? Are we really free to go?"
The Ryori began "I apologize that I was not able to tell you the entire story until now. Had I warned you what to expect, things would have turned out much differently."
"I don't understand" Zima said and shook her head. "Who are you?" asked Zuri.
The mysterious Ryori sat himself down and beckoned them to do the same. "I am called Savior, to those that have journeyed with me. Like you, I have a brother that is dear to me. Many years ago, he was also taken for this ritual, and like you Zima, I set off to rescue him. It was a long, lonely journey filled with many adventures, and I learned a great many things about myself. Like you, I offered to take my brother's place once I found him, and like you, I was freed afterwards. The elder explained to me the nature of the ritual. While I did not appreciate it at the time, I grew to understand it's purpose over the years. I have helped others in your situation since then, and will continue to do so."
Zima, Zuri, and Yae looked at each other with puzzled looks. "What is the point of the ritual? You haven't said!" Yae asked.
"Didn't I? Well, it is hard to explain. To simplify, the outcome of the ritual is to prove that there is still love in the world. By offering to take your sister's place, you proved you would give your life for hers. That is the ultimate act of love. I could not tell you this before, because I could not alter your decision." The Ryori looked impatient and began to stand.
"Who are they really? Why would they do this?" Zuri asked.
"That is a story for another time, and it is a long journey back. Follow me as you please" he said as he turned to leave. Processing what they were just told, the sisters and lunemara had more questions than before. "Well, we might as well go with Savior and see if we can get more answers" Zima said reluctantly. The others nodded and all 3 trotted off after Savior.
Wow, 1336 words! Not bad for someone who doesn't write xD
Edited By Bunne on 11/25/2018 at 11:05 PM.
Posted: 11/25/2018 at 10:06 PM
The journey took a few hours and every step made Zima's tail bristle a little more. The Ryori lead them to a huge temple made of the darkest stones either of the youngsters had ever seen. Yae let out a gasp as the Ryori stopped to give them his plan.
"We're going to sneak in the main entrance. While the ceremony for Zuri's sacrifice is in effect, the Coven will be too distracted to notice us. Make ready, we leave in five minutes."
"I'm not sure this is the best plan," whispered Yae in Zimas ear. "I know we've come all this way, but..."
"I know," answered Zima, just as quietly. "But what choice do we have?"
The Ryori said nothing, just letting the wind swirl around him as the two talked and then he stood, giving them a nod to the huge wooden door.
Zima followed, crouching low under the presence of the massive stone statues outside the temple doors. The interior was lit with thousands of black candles, sending their glow around the macabre decorations. The second they were through the doors, Zima heard the sound of slamming as dozens of faces appeared from around the balconies around the entrance hall. They were locked in.
"Good work on finding a more perfect sacrifice," said a Vorkid sorcerer, its face nearly glowing with pleasure. "I do so like it when a plan comes together."
The Ryori shifted uneasily, but answered with a smile. "Of course. I'm not the best hunter around for nothing. Zima's courage and love will make a fitting addition to the coven."
"You!" Zima bristled, turning on the Ryori with anger. "You said we were going to save Zuri!"
"What do you think I meant when I said you would have to give up something in return? Now put your friend down and enter the trial. You do get a chance at survival and both of you needn't suffer. As long as you willingly walk through the door, Zuri will be safe."
"I'm not leaving Zima alone!" Yae said, clinging tightly to the Vulnix's fur. "We started this journey together and we will end it together."
"Leave her," said the Vorkid Sorcerer. "Two willing sacrifices are more than we ever hope for. The ceremony continues as planned."
"What do we have to do?" Asked Zima, staring up at the Vorkids above her. She now knew what the Ryori had done with the others--he had let them go.
The Vorkid gestured one of its legs to the door. "Youll see soon enough."
Beyond the black candles and ominous door, Zima and Yae found a large pool set with small stones surrounding a chalice on a pedestal. A glimmer from the faintly shimmering water caused her to look down, only to step back in horror. The pool held dozens of statues of young sylestis, each frozen in their own shock.
Above the pool hung thousands of chains, a few holding their own sylestis, those that thought flying was an easier option. It was clear crossing the rocks was the only way forward.
"Bring me the chalice and you can go free." The Vorkid sorcerer had followed them from above. A cage with a very scared Zuri sat next to her. "I will let your sister go when you are successful."
The Ryori called down from the wall. "Be careful. Not all the stones are solid and if you touch the water, you will be turned to stone. Only the most brave and courageous can find the path."
"Whats in the chalice?" Asked Yae, wondering about the whole ordeal.
"Never mind about that." The Vorkid hissed, clacking its legs on the stone walls with impatience. "Give me that chalice and you can all go free. Fail, and you join the others in the pool."
"I bet you the stones are sensitive to weight," said Yae, looking at the placement of the statues below them with a shudder. "That's why they wanted young sylestis. That chalice must be important, but I don't really want to give it to them."
"Lets just see if we can get there first?" Offered Zima, gently pressing a paw onto the first stone. It held her easily, but the next started to sink with pressure. "Maybe Ill let you go first?"
Yae nodded and climbed down. Slowly the pair made their way forward, the tiny Lumemara testing each stone before Zima moved. From above them, the Vorkids were increasingly noisy as the pair moved ever closer to the chalice.
Finally, Yae brushed a tiny foot onto the last stone. Zima triumphantly looked into the wide brim, only to see a small egg inside, covered in vines. She looked to the Vorkids with more questions than anything else.
"Bring us the chalice!" The Vorkid sorcerer demanded of the pair. "We don't care about the egg. Drop it in the pool for all we care."
With a frown at the mention of the heartless choice, Zima slowly started to make her way back across the stones, looking to Yae for help. Carefully, the pair of them made it to the edge of the pool with both the chalice and the egg, only to be greeted by the Ryori.
A glance to Yae told Zima she was thinking the same thing. The pair threw the chalice into the pool, keeping the egg safe with them.
"No!" Hissed the Vorkids as a great light erupted from the water. "You little brats!"
Rushing away from the light, the Vorkids fled the temple, leaving nothing but Zima, Zuri, Yae, a Ryori, and an egg that was quickly hatching. Another burst of light revealed a very tiny Nephini who blinked kindly up at the pair of friends who had risked their lives.
"You are wise to throw away the chalice of power," said the Nephini. "Those who wished to misuse it had imprisoned me, the guardian of this temple. Once I regain my full power, I will restore those brave souls who were forced to take this trial unwillingly. The members of the Blood Cascade Coven will not be stopped so easily, but this is a major blow to their plans since every creature they watched sacrifice themselves added to their own power."
"And what about him?" Yae shook an antenna at the Ryori. "He told us to come here."
"And so you did, and so you succeeded." The Ryori sent a gentle gust of wind to lift Zuri's cage down to the ground. He bit the lock off and smiled as the two sisters reunited. "I figured if Zima was smart enough to make it here, shed be smart enough to be successful. Had you not thrown the chalice, I would have."
Zima looked over from Zuri's side, tears welling in her eyes at the success she had. "I don't care about any of that. Can we go home now?"
"Of course." The little Nephini flapped slowly up out of the eggshell. "There's a portal to Umbra Forest in the back. Until next time, tiny heroes, may all your journeys end as well."
The End for Now
(Edited to remove the picture and add punctuation that mysteriously disappeared like Zuri did.)
Edited By Stupic on 11/25/2018 at 10:16 PM.
Posted: 11/26/2018 at 2:38 AM
A... Cost? Zima asked quietly. The Ryori nodded in reply. Whats the cost? Zima asked.
You may not like this, but one close enough with her must be sacrificed. The Ryori replied.
Sacrificed? Who? Me? Zima said, shuddering.
Yes, you are the only one close enough. The Ryori said. Zima though for a moment. If she died, her sister would be alive. That would be better for the world, but her sister might be driven with grief. Ill... Ill do it! For my sister. Zima burst out confidently.
Follow me. The Ryori simply replied.
Are you sure about this, Zima? Yae wispered quietly to her friend. Zima nodded and replied
For my sister.
We are here. The Ryori suddenly said. Yae and Zima gazed around and saw Zuri, apparently in a deep sleep, one she would never wake up from unless Zima sacrificed herself. Here, The Ryori said, indicating to a circular platform with intricate designs on it. We will do the ritual.
Zima lowered herself onto the platform, shaking a little but remembering her sister. The Ryori started chanted unknown words. Zima closed her eyes and for a second, she could here a voice. Goodbye Zima. You were a good friend to me. It was Yaes voice, the last words she thought she would ever hear. Gradually, her senses stopped and Zima fell into pitch darkness.
Sis, wake up! Zima heard a familiar voice say.
Zuri? Zuri! Zima exclaimed. Zima looked down at herself. She was a small kit and so was Zuri. Look! Its a butterfly! Zuri joyfully said! Together, as sisters, they chased the butterfly. Zima and Zuri bounded across their homeland plain, still sisters, hearts wound together as one.
Zima blinked. Bright sunshine flooded into her eyes. What happened? Didnt I die? Zima asked in utter bewilderment.
It was a test of courage. The Ryori replied.
Sister? Someone said.
Zuri! Youre alive! Zima exclaimed.
Of course I am, lets go home! Zuri said. Suddenly something fuzzy flew onto Zimas back. Yae? Zima asked.
You remember me! Could I got home with you? Yae said and Zima nodded. They thanked the Ryori and headed back home into an uncertain future. Before they left, Zima heard the Ryori say something. Fate has woven your two hearts together as one.
Edited By Cottony5 on 11/26/2018 at 11:35 PM.
Posted: 11/26/2018 at 3:49 AM
Zima's fur stood on end as she continued to walk alongside the Ryori. Cost? she wondered. A cold stone of dread formed in her stomach as her mind immediately wandered to dark places, thinking about what the cost could be. She'd already known that it would be dangerous from the beginning, but hearing that something bad was definitely going to happen to her wasn't exactly comforting.
Yae refused to let the Ryori be so vague, though, and demanded to know what the cost would be.
"I cannot tell either of you what it is just yet, but you will find out soon enough," he said, refusing to elaborate. Yae glared at him for a few seconds before fixing her eyes on the river ahead.
"Great, now what?" Yae asked, looking back at the Ryori.
"Now you need to swim," he replied, peering at them with emotionless, glowing eyes.
"You can ride on my head," Zima told her. She looked at the river. It was wide, but flowing slowly enough. She could see the bottom. Deep, Zima thought, but not as bad as it could be. She could feel Yae crawling up onto the top of her head as she slipped into the water. She paddled as hard as she could, and was exhausted by the time she got to the other side.
Zima looked up and saw the Ryori, who had simply floated across. He got up and started walking in the direction of the Beyond Lands. She scrambled to her paws and started after him, Yae clinging on her back once again. They walked in silence for a while, and reached the edge of the Beyond Lands.
A chill ran down Zimas spine. This is where Zuri is... and where the Blood Cascade Coven is. She glanced at the Ryori. There was an unsettling calmness to his expression. Stop it, he's your only chance at saving Zuri, Zima told herself. She looked back at the Beyond Lands. There was movement in the distance, and she swore she could see Sylesties.
The Ryori continued into the barren landscape. Zima followed him, looking warily at the dead, dry vegetation sparsely scattered around them. Yae slitted her eyes at the sight of the distant Sylesties.
"Don't make a sound," the Ryori ordered quietly. "I'm making an illusion that stops anyone else from seeing us."
As they neared what Zima assumed was the Blood Cascade Coven, she was shocked by what she saw. There were countless Sylesties, and they were of many different species. She looked at the Ryori again, who she realized had been floating instead of walking for a while now. Zima felt the urge to ask him many questions regarding the Blood Cascade Coven, but held her tongue.
Zima and Yae scanned the crowd of Sylesties for Zuri, when the Ryori stopped and pointed silently. They looked in the direction of his claw, and saw Zuri being escorted somewhere by 2 adult Vulnyxes. Zima, Yae, and the Ryori moved swiftly after them, making sure to avoid any other Sylesties as much as possible.
Zuri and her escorts led them to a place that had no other Sylesties around them except for a Ryori that looked larger than the one that had led Zima and Yuri there. This Ryori looked fierce; if he was part of the Blood Cascade Coven, he definitely looked the part.
"I see you found the kitten," he started. "Now, its time to sacrifice her."
After the large Ryori said that, he snapped his head towards the trio. As he did, a burst of wind knocked him and the 2 adult Vulnyx to the ground. Zima didn't have time to process what was happening before both groups started fighting.
Zima did her best to get out of the way of any attacks while the Ryori that had helped them find Zuri clawed at the Coven members. Yae held onto Zima for dear life. Wind slammed into the Coven members again and again, and had started cutting into them.
Zuri used the distraction to try and run to her sister, but the Coven Ryori noticed her, and broke away from the fight to chase after her.
"NO!" Zima shouted, and barreled towards him. He made a motion to bat her away, but as he did, thorny branches sprung up around Zima, protecting her. I can do that? she looked at the thorns with a small amount of pride. She instinctively knew how to do it again. Zima narrowed her eyes at the Coven Ryori, who looked at her in shock for a moment before lunging towards Zuri. Zima called upon the thorns again, trying to encase both of them, but they only emerged around Zuri. The Coven Ryori crashed into both of them, thorns ripping at his hide, and knocking Zima unconscious from the force of the hit.
It was midday. Zima got up, confused, and looked around her. She was back in Umbra Forest. What happened? she wondered as she scanned her surroundings.
"You're awake!" Yae and Zuri exclaimed, running up to her. Yae was on Zuri's back.
"What happened? What was the cost?" Zima asked, confused.
"Cost? For what? Unless you mean the Blood Cascade Coven Ryori knocking you out cost you health or something," Zuri replied.
"For finding you... Where's the Ryori with the leaves swirling around him?"
"He left after we got back to Umbra Forest," Yae answered. "Your name has been cleared, just so you know."
"Oh," Zima sighed and laid down. Out of curiosity, she tried to summon thorns again, but found that she couldn't. "Well, at least everything's back to normal."
(This sucks ;-;)
Edited By Bluestar415 on 11/26/2018 at 3:24 PM.
Posted: 11/26/2018 at 6:57 PM
"What cost is that?" said Yae.
Zima's heart was beating too fast and too loud in her ears. She almost didn't hear the Warrior's answer.
"Nothing perilous. Only a piece of your essence. That which makes you yourself. Your essence and your sister's is the same at its core. The Blood Coven have been performing their dark rituals for years. Each carefully measured. By introducing your essence into the ritual at just the right moment, your sister's spirit will gain strength from it and overwhelm her bindings. I will fight to protect you both as you take her and run."
"I want to help too!" Yae said.
The Warrior was silent for a while.
"I made my plan for Zima alone and do not need any other assistance."
"But Zima and I are friends! Use part of my essence too. If one connection will make Zuri stronger then two is even better!"
"Zuri does not know you." The Warrior said. "Her spirit would be confused."
"No." Said Zima. "She's right. She and I have a stronger bond than anyone else. She trusted me and helped me when no one else would! If her essence is joined with mine then Zuri will know it is the gift of a true friend. The truest friend we ever met since she is willing to do so much for us both!"
The Warrior nodded.
"I trust you to know yourself. If this is the way you both would have it then I will honor that resolve."
Yae and Zima both said "Yes."
"Then be quiet now. We are nearing the Coven and my concentration is needed."
The sneaked through the woods as quietly as the best hunters. The Warrior's feet made no sound and Zima was light and quick with Yae nestled safely in the fur of her back. They reached the place and Zima was horrified to see her sister chained in the center of a clearing. Around her was a huge pentacle that was glowing a sickly yellow red color.
At each point of the diagram was a different creature. A Griffi with wings the color of fresh blood. A Puffadore with a grinning skull mask.
Zima gasped aloud as she recognized the third creature. It was a dark furred Vulnyx from her own home town! He'd been nice to them as kittens. And now here he was as part of this horrible group!
There was also a corrupted Aeridini whose eyes glowed ice blue and a pure white Bulbori whose eyes were so dark Zima couldn't tell their color.
They were all chanting together in sinister unison. The words rose and fell into silence only to swell loud again. Zima stood tense with fear. She wanted to run forward and do something. She wanted to run away and never look back. But she could do neither.
The Warrior turned to her and she could see in his eyes that it was time. He raised one paw and a glowing ball of light appeared.
"Touch it and will your essence to help Zuri." he said very quietly.
Zima put out a trembling paw and thought as hard as she could, 'Help Zuri and make her strong. Let this horrible thing stop now!'
The ball glowed brighter and she thought weakly that it looked like it was the same color as her eyes. Then she passed out from the unfamiliar strain.
She didn't see as Yae reached up and willed her own strength into the orb of energy.
She didn't see as the Warrior placed one paw gently on her shoulder and then strode head held high right into the middle of the circle.
For a moment the chanting held at its height. Then the Warrior hurled the ball of light straight at Zuri. She raised her head from where she lay prone and yowled with burning fury. For one short moment she glowed with the combined essence Yae and Zima had given.
But it was enough. More than enough.
Zuri tore free of the chains that held her down and ran at the Vulnyx. Tears of rage burned down her face as she hurled herself at the creature responsible for all this. He'd been hidden by the forest when his evil friends had taken her but she had seen him plenty since her capture.
"How could you?! I trusted you! Traitor!"
But by then all the sound had wakened Zima. "Zuri! Come with me! We have to run!"
Her voice wasn't enough to snap Zuri from her fury. But the Warrior jumped between her and her target.
"No, Zuri. Go to your sister. I will deal with them."
Zuri squirmed and clawed. She had been tricked and humiliated and imprisoned. She wasn't going to just run! She had to show them they'd chosen the wrong kitten to mess with!
She heard Zima's desperate plea for her. And this time she understood. The Warrior let her go and she ran to her sister with her revenge forgotten.
"So you return to us."
Zuri was startled by the voice. She turned. The Ryori who had saved her stood now in the same spot where she herself had been a moment before. None of her captors had moved from their points around the circle.
It was the Griffi who spoke. And the Warrior answered.
"I left for a good reason. You've gone too far this time."
"Thisss time?" The Aeridini said. "You've gone farther than this yourself."
"That was the past." But the Ryori looked sad as he said it. Weary and tired and terribly terribly sad.
"We should help him." Zuri said.
"No. He said to run." Zima looked at the woods behind them. She knew they should leave.
"We can't leave him." said Yae. "He wouldn't leave us."
Meanwhile the Puffadore let out a harsh shrill laugh. "The past. Of course that makes it all better. If it's in the past then we can just forget about anyone you hurt. Any sacrifices made for you."
"This power isn't worth the cost." said the Warrior. "I once thought it would be. I was wrong. You must see that. Come to your senses! This is no way to live. Grasping at powers best left alone. Hiding and stealing and kidnapping. It's wrong. We should be better than this!"
The illusionary leaves that always surrounded him flew faster in his agitation.
"You're only saying this because you're weak." the Vulnyx said. "You couldn't bring yourself to do what you had to. If you hadn't failed last year then none of this would have been necessary."
"I didn't fail." the Warrior said. "I made a choice!"
"And now you made another choice. A poor one, to sacrifice yourself for one pathetic kitten. You made yourself part of this ritual when you stepped into the diagram. Now we will become powerful and it will be you who pays the price."
"I won't let him die for me!" Zuri said.
She turned and glared at the five cultists. Even in all the chaos of her rescue and braking free, none of them had moved from their places.
"I think if we can make one of them move it would break the pentagram." she said. "Then we can all escape."
Yae swallowed nervously. "I think I can do something. Be ready to catch me?"
Zima nodded. Yae scurried from her back and up a tree trunk.
"Wait, what's your plan?!"
Yae didn't answer.
The Warrior didn't seem at all troubled by the threat. "Experience is harder to steal than innocence. You'll not find me an easy target."
The Puffadore laughed shrilly again. It was a sound carved from pure madness. "But you offered yourself freely you fool!"
The Bulbori nodded agreement as she smirked at the Warrior. "Regardless of intention or reason, you stepped straight into this of your own will. The powers we seek make no differentiation between one motive or another. Action is all that matters."
"And your acsssstions clearly show your willingnesss to die." the Aeridini said.
"Be quiet all of you." said the Griffi. "The blood moon rises. We have delayed as long as we can. Continue the ritual."
The five looked up in unison, opened their mouths to begin their dark chant again. . .
Yae dropped out of the trees, directly into the Bulbori's face.
The Bulbori was startled into an involuntary hop backward, sending Yae flying into the air. . .
The Warrior burst out of the broken pentagram in a fury of leaves and a flurry of flickering illusionary images.
"NO!" the Griffi charged the Warrior bellowing with rage. The clearing devolved into complete chaos as dozens of illusionary copies of the Warrior flickered in and out of existence fighting the cultists.
Zima charged into the fray and snatched Yae out of the air. She tossed her friend onto her back but only then realized she was surrounded. She shrank down and backed away. Something slashed across her back and Yae shrieked.
Zuri didn't know what to do.
She coudn't see a way out. She didn't see any way to help.
One of the Warriors leaned down and gave Zima a shove.
"Come with me."
She snapped out of her panicked freeze and ran after him. He led her through the flickers and clashing forms. She flinched as they scampered right under the Griffi's legs but followed and emerged unscathed to freedom.
Zuri leapt on her sister at once but they had no time for a tearful reunion.
"Go." said the Warrior. "I can only keep them distracted for so long."
"Will you be okay?" Zuri said.
"I can get away. This is my homeland after all. I know it better than they ever will." But he sounded sad and Zima wasn't sure they should believe him.
"You're not going to give yourself up again. Are you?" Yae sad.
"No. With luck I'll never have to face such a choice again. When you get home be sure to warn everyone to keep their children close and safe. If they can't steal anyone for their rituals their power will evaporate with time. This form of strength wanes without regular reinforcement."
"Then why do you look so sad?"
He took a moment to look down at them, then returned his attention to the fight. His illusions were losing their cohesion now and beginning to fray at the edges. Before long it would lose its effectiveness altogether.
"They were my friends once. It hurts to know the truth and be unable to convince them of it. But with time they too will discover how shallow this constant chase for power is. It nearly destroyed me once upon a time. I fear what it will do to them."
"Come with us! You don't need to stay in the wilds alone any more. You can come home with us."
"No. I thank you but I would never be happy in a town. I belong in the wild. And you must go now."
The strain was now showing in his voice. More and more of his illusions faded away. The battle was turning against them. Any moment one of the cultists would see where the real Warrior stood and they'd converge upon them.
"We'll come visit you." said Zuri. "I promise."
"Only if you can find me."
With that he sprang back into the fight himself to help keep his faltering illusions from fading completely.
Zuri had the terrible feeling that they might never see him again.
She had to force herself to turn away.
Side by side the sisters ran, matched stride for stride. If not for the terror of the circumstances it could have been thrilling but they found no pleasure in it..
They ran until they could run no more and then they walked wearily on until even that was too much.
Utterly exhausted they fell asleep in a tangled heap beside the path.
Zima woke with her sister's warm body pressed against her side, the steady heartbeat beneath her fur a tangible reassurance of their survival. She could hardly believe everything that had happened. It felt like some terrible dream.
But they were still far from home.
Zuri stirred then and Yae popped her head up and grinned at them. They trekked back at a more reasonable pace, talking and laughing with relief and the joy of their reunion. Though it would take time to fully recover their terrible trials were beginning to fade into memory.
And a new friend rode along with them. Yae's presence felt so natural they could forget they'd only met so recently.
Their duo had seamlessly transitioned into a trio and all three of them knew beyond a doubt that this friendship would far outlast any memory of the dark events that caused it.
From a perch atop a boulder an injured Ryori watched them go. He had saved them and they had saved him. Once upon a time that would have been enough.
Fifty years ago, he would have been down there walking and talking and laughing with them. But some sacrifices can't be forgotten. And some scars leave marks too deep to be ignored.
Happiness was something he no longer felt he deserved.
But, he thought as he watched them cross the boundary back to their lands, just maybe, satisfaction could suffice.
They weren't looking back so none of them saw as he raised one paw in farewell but that wasn't the point. His smile was genuine and untainted.
He turned and vanished into the shadows of his wild homeland.
With this outcome he could be content.
Edited By Vin on 11/26/2018 at 7:08 PM.
Posted: 11/26/2018 at 7:28 PM
The warrior had them roll in the thick sulphur smelling dust, for camouflage and to disguise their scent. Then they followed him out onto the wastelands surrounding the volcano. The air was rank with the smell of volcanic sulphur. It grew hotter as they traversed further into the wastelands. They crouched behind boulders, sparce scrub bushes, and in shallow dips in the land whenever blood cascade patrols were near. Slowly they drew closer to the firey mountain.
They reached the base just as the sun set. The active volcano cast an odd light on the surrounding landscape. Zima looked up towards the summit. She could barely discern several dark shapes guarding what could be a cage with a strange light
comming from it. Yae squinted upwards, "What do you suppose that light is?"
The warrior turned towards her. That is the nocturno, a spell that freezes the victim in an unnatural sleep. If you tried to rescue your sister without breaking the spell she would slowly fade and die."
Zima stared hard at him. "Then how do we break the spell?"
The warrior nodded towards a small dark hole nearby. "You must follow that tunnel into the caves beneath the mountain. The mountains heart is a spectacular gem. Touch it while thinking of all you hope to accomplish. If it finds you worthy it will grant you the power to save your sister. However the power comes at a price. I and this other one will create a distraction while you head underground, but you must hurry, time is short. They will try to sacrifice your sister at midnight." The warrior nodded to Yae and started off.
After a moment's hesitation Yae nodded to Zima, "Good luck, I will see you later." Then she scurried after the warrior. Zima took a deep breath and headed into the tunnel. The caverns beneath the mountain were Erie out by the occasional lava flow. Zima followed an inexplicable feeling down the numerous twisting turning tunnels. Finally she came to a chamber with a massive glowing gem. Her fur prickled at the power crackling in the air. Zima took a deep breath to calm her nerves and pressed a paw to the surface of the gem. It felt stange as if she had stepped out of her body. A whispery voice sounded in her mind.
"Hmmm a desperate courage born of love to save a family member. Rare here, but has happened once before. Two brothers. Durango and Orion. Orion on an epic quest for one so young. He selflessly paid the price to rescue his twin. What of you young one?" Zima thought about the ryori who had guided them here. Was he Durango, did his brother due to rescue him. Would she have to die for Zuri.
Zima took a deep breath and heard herself growl. "I will pay any price to save zuri. Even if I have to give my life because", Zima felt a warm dear slide down her face, "because that's what sisters do." A warm feeling rushed through Zima, accompanied again by the voice, "so selfless, a worthy sister indeed."
Suddenly Zima felt a rush of power. With no more than a thought she found herself floating above the mountain. She could see all the surrounding lands as clearly as day. All the creatures were laid out to her view. For a moment she almost lost herself in its magnitude, then she thought a Zuri, Yae, The hunter, and even the warrior. All those who she cared about and who had helped her. She turned her gaze back to the task at hand. The spell was simple to break. The coven guards having fled from the powerful being that leapt from the volcano. Useing the power she lifted them from the peak down to safety. She sent the power back to the crystal at the mountains heart. As she did the mountain rumbled, the whispery voice from before was now a roar. "No more! No more heartbreak, no more sacrifices, no more evil and pain upon my mountain", and with that the volcano began to erupt. Zima and her sister went tumbling. The last thing Zima heard before everything went dark, was Zuri calling her. "Zima!"
The next thing Zima knew she was waking up on a bad of soft moss in absolute darkness. She heard Zima next to her. "Your finally awake! I'm so glad. Don't you ever worry me like that again." Zima sad up. "Zuri, is it really you?" She heard her sister laugh, "Of course it is. Don't you belive your eyes. It broad daylight to boot." Zima blinked in shock slowly comming to the realization that she was blind. "So that's what the crystal meant by a price." Yae crawled next to her worried, "Are you okay?" Zima turned towards her voice, " I think I will be...eventually". The warriors voice sounded close by. " All things get better with time. Its not too bad once you get used to it. I can teach you how to get around." Zima faced him in shock. "So your not Durango...your Orion?" She could hear the smile in his voice, "Apparently the mountain heart keeps no secrets. Durango left some time ago seeking a cure for my blindness. I tried to tell him I was fine, but well that's siblings for you. If you like, once we clear your name, you can join me in looking for him." Zima nodded thoughtfully. After all she had been through home did not seem the same anymore, and blind or not the thought of exploring those other lands was appealing. She spoke slowly, "I think I would like that."
Posted: 11/27/2018 at 11:50 AM
Methinks this is when Faiona regrets dropping the word limit :P
Nice stories, storytelling is really fun. Hopefully it'll be done again!
Edited By Falconetti on 11/27/2018 at 11:57 AM.
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