A large, rectangular gateway opens up near you, and you feel yourself irresistibly drawn inside.
Spartan rock garden (51045) - Spinesreach (25)
A simple bench is here, long enough for three people. A hand-sized tick quivers on the ground. A chaos hound restlessly paces in a circle. A puffy black bloodleech scutters about in the dirt here. A mutated humanoid rat sniffs about, reeking of filth. A white worm squirms on the ground. The shimmering form of a soulmaster floats in the air. A puddle of green slime bubbles on the floor. Moirean Seirath is here, hidden. She is riding on a donkey. She wields a buckler in her left hand
and a chipped bone dagger in her right. Moirean Seirath is here.You see exits leading north and southeast.
He is a dexterous Yeleni and is clearly a creature born of the Maelstrom. The blue-hued skin of his face is almost translucent and beneath the flesh, veins of water seem to course throughout his body. His broad face is characterized by sharp cheekbones and a square chin, while a pair of eyes the color of fresh pearls stare outwards from beneath a finely sculpted brow. His hair is comprised of thick tentacles, an off-white color, that are bound loosely at the nape of his neck. The skin of his body is covered in midnight-blue scales that change to an electric blue under direct light, though silvery lines denote what are clearly a massive network of scars across his entire body. The bones of his large wings are covered in the same midnight blue scales that decorate the rest of his form, but when fully unfolded and stretched to their full span, the same translucent skin as that between his fingers can be seen. His body is well-muscled and toned where seen, and his movements are lithe and fluid despite his ten foot frame.
(hanging from the shoulders) : a cloak of obscurity
(worn loosely around his waist) : a slender, low-slung black weaponbelt
(worn over his hands) : a pair of gauntlets
(worn proudly around his neck) : a Slyphian necklace
(worn upon the wedding ring finger) : an entwined feathers and starstone wedding band
(embedded in the flesh of his chest) : a coral-covered pendant
(worn loosely over his armour) : a cascading Slyphian robe with a silver dolphin motif
(worn on his right index finger) : a phoenix signet ring
(worn wrapped around his right bicep) : a black armband bearing the crest of the Sentaari
(worn snuggly over his knuckles) : spiked knuckles
(tied loosely about his waist) : a lustrous black and gold belt
She is a powerful Imp and is a slender, tall woman. Her skin is shadowed and drawn with a wasted, uneven silhouette of warped, wavering shadows. Dark auburn hair tumbles around her shoulders, shot through with tendrils of undulating, wavering shadows, to frame cheekbones pierced with cracked, splintering lines of black. Crimson horns networked in spiderwebbed veins of darkness sprout from her forehead, a lithe shadow-shrouded tail twists behind her and a pair of wings extends out from her shoulder blades, cloaked in a murky miasma. Her little remaining skin, mostly around the throat and face, appears to be chipped and shattered away in fractalized chunks, like jigsaw pieces removed from a puzzle, while the rest is merely twists of darkness and impressions of limbs. Only her bright, luminous amber eyes peer forth, stubbornly smouldering amidst the hold the shadows have on her body, although a hair-fine thread of darkness snakes through one eye, creeping across the glowing iris to stain the entire thing a dark, inky black. She walks with the blessing of Niuri.
(spiderwebbed with shadows) : a pair of Impish horns
(clinging to the darkness at her throat) : an entwined charm of a serpent and centipede
(oozing inky shadows onto her neck) : a black-inked tattoo of a pair of crossed fists
(obscured by murk) : a clinging spider earring
(hanging from a chain around her neck) : a starstone engagement ring wreathed in roses
(hanging from a chain around her neck) : a ring engraved with the Seirath crest
You have emoted: Benedicto stares firmly at Moirean. "What do you want from me, Moirean?" He asks with a note of exasperation. "Why have you summoned me here?"
Moirean is a mass of shadows, coiled on the bench as she stares out across the rock garden. A brightly inked card lies beside her, still glowing, though its light is quickly fading now that you are here. She doesn't look at you. Her form wavers. She cracks, defiantly tries to mend. Fails - a new line creeps across the side of her neck, splintering towards her ear.
Quietly, Moirean Seirath says, "Did you tell them?"
You have emoted: Benedicto eyes the card momentarily before redirecting his attention to Moirean. "I did." He replies simply.
"And?" Moirean asks. Her legs coil beneath her, drawing up closer to her body as her arms shift - for a moment, you can almost discern a fleeting glimpse of a familiar pose, her sitting with her knees pulled to her chest, and then it's gone, just murk and shadows with her face above the darkness.
You have emoted: His frown deepening, Benedicto walks around the empty space, his hand trailing over the occasional, solitary chunk of rock. "I don't know that I have to discuss my plans with you." He replies quietly.
Moirean's eyes shift, watching you as you pace through the garden and among the lonely stones. A sigh escapes her lips and her head tilts downwards, concealing her face with a fall of shadow-streaked hair. A ripple passes through her wispy form, a wavering motion that could just be the wind. Softly, she asks, "Will your hate help this situation? What do you gain by it?"
You have emoted: Benedicto slams the palm of his hand down hard upon the surface of the nearest rock. "Dammit, no!" He declares angrily, his pearl-white gaze blazing with sudden fury as he directs his stare upon Moirean. "But I will not be talked to like I am one of your...your...underlings! I don't report to you." His temper cools as he pauses and takes a breath. A moment passes. "Any information I give will be given because -I- decide to give it."
"I didn't command you to salute," Moirean points out in a muffled voice, her head still bowed, her tone still quiet. "You are finding excuses." She twists her head resting her cheek on a clot of shadow as she finally stares back up at you. "Why?" she asks softly. Her brow is furrowed, her cracked lips frowning. "Every time I see you, you hate me more. It...Bene, it's consuming you, as sure as the shadows are eating me. Why?"
You have emoted: "Because every time I see you, I am reminded of everything I have lost!" Benedicto's voice almost cracks on the last word, the anger writ across his features twists into bitter despair.
Moirean gives a slow blink, eyes lingering closed. A fine network of inky veins spiderweb across her lids, pulsing in an erratic, feeble flutter. "Our son," she sighs. "You blame me."
You have emoted: Whatever emotion keeping Benedicto rigid and upright disappears suddenly and he sags visibly, his large, webbed hand upon the rock his only support. "You seem to not care." He says brokenly. "I have nothing. I've lost everything. But you..." Some of the anger returns and he directs a chilling look at Moirean. "You are as content as can be. All your positions. All your underlings. All that *power".." His voice twists the word into something degrading. "...as if you'd loosed the chains holding you back and struck forward without a glance behind you."
Moirean's voice is quiet, barely able to be heard as she replies. "Power..." she whispers. "...Comes to those who shape the world as if they own it. I am not one to cower in the ashes of defeat. I rebuild and try and-" She exhales slowly, a slow sigh in the breath. "-and I am dying, without even a chance to look at my daughter's face. Power is not everything."
Eyes closing again, Moirean Seirath says, "You are worth all of the underlings in Enorian. You are worth all of the monks in the Abby. You are worth the Maelstrom Himself, and I lost you. You are a fool." Moirean grimaces and clutches at a coral-covered pendant.
You have emoted: "I am the fool?! Benedicto exclaims with a bitter laugh. "I?!" He gives a strangled chuckle that contains no mirth whatsoever. "As for your daughter, you spent more time with our son than with your daughter. What makes you think you'll care anymore about her as you do about our son?!"
Moirean quietly replies, "Yes, you, for daring to imagine that I have no hurt. You are a fool and an idiot if think I don't spend every day aching for what I've lost." A tired hint of bite enters her voice as her eyes close again. "Why do you think I *HAD* to get power and build here, in the Carnifex and the Spires? Why do you think I wanted a child so badly? Do you even think?" Her eyes open again, a hint of a smoulder in the stained amber stare. "You are a fool, wallowing in your own pain. You just hate."
You have emoted: Benedicto's mouth twists bitterly. "I might be wallowing in my pain, as you put it. However, at least I didn't betray -everything- I stood for to try and bury the memories of what I'd lost."
Quietly, eyes still closed, Moirean Seirath says, "They betrayed me. I kept fighting for them, even after they threw me from city and guild, after they hunted me-" She lets out another soft sigh. "Perhaps I'm weak. I grew lonely. It hurt, being hunted by those I died to serve. You weren't here, you wouldn't know what it was like. Maybe I'm weak."
Benedicto remains silent and watches Moirean. "Perhaps we both are." He answers quietly. He turns and lowers himself to the ground, his back against the rock he previously supported himself on. "I have posted the situation to Enorian. I have my scouts out gathering further information on the Shadow Realm and the disease itself. Anything they can dig up." He sighs as if each word is difficult for him. "Furthermore, I've called Enorians banners to readiness. The outlying villages will be on full alert, and all the citizens have been told to remain vigilant."
At your words, Moirean begins to nod, clearly glad for a change in topic. "Good-" she begins, but then her form begins to darken. Shadows thicken and coalesce, deepening to an inky, almost solid black as her limbs seem to regain nearly tangible form. Liquid and smoke and substance, swallowing her shoulders, creeping up her neck to swarm over her face - and her head lifts, then, to peer at you with narrowed, blood-red eyes, glowing with some twisted crimson light. Her mouth is too wide, the dark features distorted and twisted, her voice a hiss. "Ohhh I have sssssuch paaaaiiin," the thing whines sibilantly. There's a mocking note in the tone. "Ssssooo weeaaak. Nobody loves me and I've ruined eeeeeverything." The red eyes roll and it laughs, clearly savoring the sound. "What a stupid little Imp I am."
Benedicto's resigned expression firms suddenly and he rises in one single, fluid movement. "Begone Shadow!" He intones with power in his voice. "I, Benedicto, White Tiger of the Daru and Spark Bearer of the Holy Crescent, command you."
The shadow that should be Moirean but is not, is something darker and wrong, uncoils from the bench and slides towards you in a sinuous dart, closing the space in an eyeblink as it laughs. "You're so right to hate me," it whispers, twisting around you to bring its shadowy mouth close to your ear. Teeth click in an odd, hollow echo. It shifts to the other side of the rock, dark lips nearly brushing against your other ear - you can feel a chilly, weakening breath against your skin - and murmurs. "I'm evil and broken. I killed our son. I'd kill you if I could. I'm ssssoo evil. I lied to you, hate me, hate hate hate me, Bene..."
A flash of amber cuts through the burning red eyes and the shadow's face wavers for a moment, expression twisting in pain and fear - and then the malicious grin is back as a black tongue flicks out to lick its lips.
You have emoted: His face twisting at the seductive words, Benedicto attempts to lean away, his eyes refusing to meet Moirean's. "You have no power over me, Shadow." He states with difficulty as he tries to extricate himself from within Moirean's grasp.
The shadow's hands lightly reach out towards you, skimming across your skin in a chilly, shivering trace. "Oh, but you could have power over her- me ME over Moirean over meeee, power over ME," it offers coyly. "I've been so evil, destroyed so much." The shadowy features pull into a pout. "Been such a bad stupid Imp, when all sh- I want is you, darling, yes, yes her- MY love for you, it's always been there. You just need to ssssave me, resssscue me from my evil and weaknesssss." The red eyes glow up at you as the shadow hisses. "Just push her, hate her, give in, it's for her own good..."
You have emoted: Benedicto can't help but stare at Moirean, his expression writhing and twisting with a plethora of emotions as he listens. Need, desire, hate, anger. They are all there and gone in an instant. Some shred of resolve remains however...
You have emoted: "I, BENEDICTO, BEARER OF RAHN AND AURESAE'S DIVINE SPARK!" Benedicto screams into Moirean's face. "I COMMAND YOU! BEGONE!" The chords on his neck stand out with the force of his invocation.
The shadow draws back a span, curling away in a cloud of darkness. Inky limbs cross over its chest and its chin lifts, scowling up at you with those blood-red eyes. It's sulking, and for a moment it's pure Moirean in its posture, achingly familiar as it pouts at you. "Meanie," it hisses. "So meeeean. SSssssSSsshhh!" And then its hands shift, arcing downwards to fold beneath its chest. "You'll wake the BABY."
A knot of shadows begins to coalesce in the shadowy arms, cradled against the shadowy breast, shadowy infant limbs and curls of shadowy baby hair.
In a low hiss, Moirean Seirath says to you, "Maybe you should gooooo. Abandon him agaiiiin." The shadow's head tilts down to look at the vague form resolving in its arms. "Ssssuch a gooood father."
You have emoted: Benedicto's jaw drops and a look of horror crosses his face. "No." He whispers at first but his voice rises in volume until he exclaims "NO!" He retreats hastily from Moirean, the power of his command shattered as he stares at her in mortification.
In a fluid shift, the shadow drifts after you, holding its arms out. The baby-shape peels away from the dark limbs, strings of shadows dripping and streaming downwards in viscous threads between the creature's hands and the infant shadow-simulacrum to puddle in the sand. "Don't you want to sssseeee him?" it hisses, holding the inky thing towards you, as the pool of shadows underfoot slowly wriggles away, dispersing like burrowing worms into nothingness, twisting upwards to feed back into the shadowy body. There's another flash of amber in the red-eyed stare, a lightning-quick shift of features as Moirean gasps and sobs at you, and then the darkness is in control again.
You have emoted: Benedicto backs away further but is brought up by the rock at his back. His head begins to shake from side to side as if to deny the shadow form approaching him. An expression of sickness crosses his face and his eyes dart away from the shadowy bundle in Moirean's hands. "NOOOOOOOO!!!!" He bellows, forcing his hand violently outwards towards Moirean.
You have emoted: A beam of intensely bright light hits Moirean, the sudden blaze of brightness dispelling all shadows around you. Benedicto thrusts the clear globe of light held in his hand towards Moirean, his scream of defiance prompting another blast of pure light. "BEGOOONE!"
The shadow recoils from the light, hissing loudly as the baby-shape melts away. Its hands are eclipsed by the illumination, vanishing in the glow, and the hiss shifts to a shriek, like the sound of water sizzling on heated metal. "Cheater! Hate hate hate cheater weak hate-" the thing cries, and then Moirean's face swims upwards from the murk, surfacing with a gasping sob. She collapses to the ground in a coil of translucent shade, as inky tears stream down her face.
You have emoted: Benedicto sags and lands heavily upon his knees. The illuminating light vanishing in an instant as he falls forward and barely catches himself on all fours. The translucent globe clenched within his hand flickers as if filled with candlelight, the flame rapidly dimming as its source of fuel is depleted. A low groan escapes him inbetween ragged breaths, "Begone. Begone...Begone." He croaks again and again.
Moirean buries her face in her hints of hands, still sobbing. Her head shakes and words reach you, wrenched from her in a pained gasp. "I can't, I can't, Bene, it's me, but I can't escape it-"
You have emoted: Benedicto issues another weary groan, the rise and fall of his chest slowing as he regains his equilibrium. "We will fight it." He says with difficulty as he pushes himself upright, his weight upon his knees. His brow drips with sweat and his features are drawn as he unscrews his eyes in an attempt to look at Moirean. He blinks blearily and runs his sleeve quickly across his face to wipe away the tears caused by the intense light. "All of us. Spirean, Enorianite, we will all fight it." He sighs tiredly, his lids fluttering rapidly as he tries to regain his sight. "We have to."
"I'm sorry," Moirean whispers, face still downcast. "I'm so sorry, Bene, that wasn't me, please-" She inhales sharply, trying to still her sobbing, but her shoulders continue to shake, sending another slow crack splintering across her skin. The line mends, but it's slow and sluggish, leaving a faint fissure of new darkness to mar her body.
Shakily, Moirean Seirath says, "Please don't hate me more, I can't help it, it's not me-."
You have emoted: "It is you." Benedicto replies quietly as he struggles to get to his feet. He clings grimly to the rock behind him and attempts to pull himself unsteadily to his feet. Regaining them after a several moments of difficulty he looks at Moirean with an unreadable expression. "Maybe not consciously. But deep down. Hidden in the shadow of your soul." His eyes move evasively away from Moirean. "The most dangerous weapon to use against someone is often the truth." He murmurs. "How do you damage a man that has lost everything?" He says to himself, his voice nearly inaudible. His pearl-white gaze swings back to Moirean and the force of his stare is staggering. "You give him back something broken."
Moirean's head lifts and she stares at you with black-rimmed eyes, tears tracing dark paths down her face. "I'm sorry," she whispers hoarsely. "Severn said He should be merciful and end me, He was right, I'm...I'm something horrid now." She swallows heavily, eyes staring at you, searchingly. There's desperation in her gaze. "...it's getting worse. I should...should be..."
You have emoted: Benedicto appears unsympathetic, the set of his mouth and the frozen cast of his features corroborate this impression, however, a slight glimmer in his eyes reveals a hint of pity. "Severn." He echoes the name distastefully. "Shadow cannot fight Shadow. Only light can dispel darkness."
There is a long span of silence. Moirean's breathing is faint and ragged, and somewhere in the distance a bird calls out in a soft, lonely cry over the tundra. Finally, she uncertainly whispers, "Should...you should..." Her eyes close and she tries again. "Me...could you? I am...I can't..." She
shakes her head, unable to verbalize her thoughts.
You have emoted: Benedicto moves slowly and unsteadily towards Moirean. He looks down at her sternly, exhaustion plain on his face. With a grimace he lowers himself onto his haunches in front of her. "Take this." He says and with a look of visible strain creates a globe glowing with bright light.
Calling upon the power of light, you mold a brilliant orb into existence between your hands. As you carefully place it on the ground, darkness is banished, and light like midday illuminates the area.
You have emoted: "Keep it close for as long as it lasts and it should help keep the Shadow at bay." Benedicto says through gritted teeth as he struggles to regain his feet. "More than that I can't do. It's taken nearly all my Spark just to temporarily banish it."
Moirean's eyes squint, as if pained by the bright illumination. Her form grows faint, but seems - on some level - to be resistant to the simple flame. Her shadowy hands reach for the orb, slowly gathering the globe of light towards her. Everything about her wavers, leaving only her throat, face and part of her shoulders intact, appearing to almost hover in the air.
Hoarsely, Moirean Seirath says, "Thank you."
You have emoted: Benedicto grunts a reply and steps away from Moirean. "I will continue my efforts. But I don't do this for you. I do this for everyone." Before walking shakily across the field towards the South-East.