This is a culmination, of sorts, of events that happened quite some time ago, as detailed in this log (http://forums.aetolia.com/discussion/1215/intervention)
Tl;dr: Moi was pregnant, Benedicto killed the kid when driven mad by Corruption. Moi's the Carnifex Commander, so death is hardly something that is going to stop her.
Side-stories from either side have gone on between these logs (Benedicto being dealt with by Enorian, Moi setting the Keep's soul researchers to specific tasks, Iosyne pushing Moi to get stronger, etc), but these two logs are a bit of a highlight in the story arcs, where things come together.
Warning: These are not explicitly graphic, but there are some disturbing concepts presented.
Moi and Toz do a Bad Thing:
She is a typical Azudim and is tall and slender, with the toned muscles and lean figure of a fighter. Dark aburn hair tumbles down her back in curled waves, held back by a pair of crimson horns twisting up from her brow, while a whip-thin, spade-tipped tail flows behind her. Immense bronze-hued leathery wings, akin to those of a gargoyle, unfold from her back, a seamed scar running jaggedly across their span. High cheekbones frame pure black eyes, highlighting the angular, cold set of her features - while there is beauty to her form, it is an alien and disconcerting sort, her feminine traits tempered by the sorts of lines more at home in a demon from the Chaos plane than in a woman. One of her arms is a forged creation of steel and soulstone, the silvery metal crawling with inky black lines.
(jangling from the belt) : a brass keyring
(hanging from a chain around the neck) : a ring engraved with the Seirath crest
(worn in a gaudy display) : a miniature, mischievous wedding band
(set at a rakish cant) : a pair of Impish horns
(inked into the skin below the ear) : a black-inked tattoo of a pair of crossed fists
(soulstone grip around the right hand) : a shield of shackled souls
(sturdy and utilitarian) : a pair of boots
(tight for combat) : a fighter's black leather shirt
(worn at the hip) : a macabre Tarot deck
(slim-cut for battle) : black leather pants
(molded to the left arm) : a steel arm webbed in living soulstone
He is an athletic Azudim. Statuesque, he is of distinctly brawny build and rather tall. Slate grey, his skin has a distinctly leathery texture to it, rough and calloused. His hair is mostly raven black, worn short and slicked back, though a slightly off-center patch of silver-gray stripes through. His right ear ends in a sharp point, the tip of the left has been blunted by a bite, the tip missing. His eyes are small and beady, colored an icy blue. Standing in contrast to his large, blocky jaw, his thin lips conceal a row of dangerously sharp teeth. Digitigrade feet hold up his form, each ending in a three-taloned foot. From his back sprouts two leathery wings - each jointed to allow them to fold the patagium against his back when not in use, safely out of harm's way. Sinuously extending behind him is a thick tail, the tip broadening into a leaf-headed point.
(worn on a finger) : 5 arcane black rings
(worn on the back) : a military-grade gray leather pack
(aloofly hiding the eyes) : dark sun glasses
(worn with quiet pride) : a simple, stalwart wedding band
(worn on the belt) : a tactical gray leather drop leg pouch
(worn on a finger) : 2 thin black bands
(around the waist) : a gray, quarter-cuirass armoured bandolier
(slung over a shoulder) : a barbed bone darkbow
(worn on the legs) : black leather soldier's pants
(covering the torso) : a Carnifex recruit's black leather shirt
(covering the body) : a Carnifex's side-buttoning black wool longcoat
(around the neck) : a sulfurous amulet
(around the neck) : an invigorating hardy entwined grisly necklace of fa..
(worn on a finger) : a Celestine ring engraved with the Seirath crest of ..
(covering the body) : a shimmering suit of full plate armour
When Benedicto killed Moi, he also killed the child in her womb. Moi's soulstone flared up and snatched that soul, capturing it and preserving it within the soulstone. Perhaps due to the close relation (and similar composition) of the child to Moi, the soulstone acted rather special to the soul, keeping it held separate and special, as a unique element inside, as if somehow attuned, instead of simply another part of the mass of souls. Moi realized this shortly after she recovered from Bene's assault.
Rather quickly, she became determined to find a body for the rescued soul, something that soon became an obsession for her. Initially, Toz wanted to construct something, but Moi wanted a daughter of her own, one that was warm and alive and that she could hold. Toz had reservations, warning her against consequences, but she did not listen. Moi turned to the guild's soul researchers - Bakhtuh, Xenia, Satomi - who were working on a project and commanded them to incorporate this in and find a way for things to work.
Finally, Trager appeared in Moi's office, carrying his own brand new baby. Seeing a child, so close and needy for its mother became too much for Moi. She was able to stop herself from taking his baby, but at that point she knew she could not wait any longer, and so she began trips to Arbothia, reaching out to a specific girl there. After several visits, she decided it was nearly time...
You say, "Busy?"
Toz says, "Potentially. It can wait?"
You say, "Sure."
Toz asks you, "What did you need, then?"
You say, "If you're busy, go, it's just an...idle thing. A curiosity."
Toz tilts his head and listens intently.
You chew thoughtfully on your lip.
You beckon Toz to you.
Giving you a tug, you say to Toz, "I've found one I like..."
Toz follows you to the west.
Scenic path. (road) (Arbothia.)
The stars twinkle in the clear night sky.
You see exits leading east and southwest.
You have emoted: Moirean pauses at the outskirts of the town, pressing her hand against her soulstone. A twist of darkness swirls out to shroud her form, hazing her from direct sight. "You should conceal," she suggests. "She...is...still only learning me..."
You use Deathlore Shroud.
You utter a command of power as you lift your soulstone, sending forth an inky-blackness that swallows your form and hides it from sight.
You have gained the shroud defence.
Toz stares at you for a moment, glancing down at himself. "Monks are not stealthy," he hazards, then shakes his head. "A moment..."
----// He changed to Carnifex class \\----
Toz uses Deathlore Shroud.
Toz utters a guttural phrase as he lifts his soulstone. An inky-blackness pours forth to quickly envelop his form, hiding it from sight.
Toz nods his head emphatically.
You have emoted: Moirean hangs back at the gate as two townsmen pass, engaged in a laughing conversation about misdeeds down at the tavern. She waits, in the shadows, until the way is clear and then leads you on, quickly, down a side-street, keeping to the darkness bordering the road.
Toz isn't very good at sneaking. You keep to the shadows and hunkered down, and Toz makes an effort as well - though in full plate and bulky as he is, it is only his shroud that prevents him from being easily detected.
You have emoted: Moirean twists back, eyes narrowed and lifts a finger to her lips.
In a low hiss, you say, "Oaf!"
You have emoted: Moirean leads you along down the street, skirting a busy tavern to enter a smaller, tree-lined path. Cottages stand on either side of the road, faced with large gardens, filled with flowers and growing herbs. A cow grazes in front of one house, and a cat lazes in the sun midway down the road. Beyond that, it's quiet, and calm, with no other signs of activity....save for a movement at the very end of the lane.
End of Syvelian Lane. (Arbothia.)
The bright sun shines down, blanketing you with its life-giving warmth.
Busily involved in the serious business of being young, a child plays intently.
You see exits leading south (open pine door) and west.
Playing in the shade, at the very far end of the street, is a small girl, no more than two or three. Her hair tumbles over her shoulders in wispy blonde braids, while freckles are scattered across her cheeks. She hums and lisps away in a chatter to herself as she plays in the mud outside one of the houses, dragging a dirty doll through a lumpy series of mud pies.
Toz gives a very faint sigh and shakes his head, leaning closer towards you. "Commander, if you are set on this, then let us not do it like thieves. We are the Carnifex - you have had an aversion to doing 'evil' since we first came to the Keep." He straightens up though his voice remains low, shroud still concealing him from the figure at the end of the path. "In Strength, not in Stealth. If this is what is decided on, we do it now. And without sneaking."
You have emoted: Moirean holds her hand up, shaking her head as her brow furrows. "I want..." she frowns, stepping sideways closer to the girl. A look of longing twists her features, pained and hungry, and you feel a stab of maternal emptiness through the link. "...I want her to want me. Us..."
You have emoted: With that, Moirean steps closer, shadows peeling away as she kneels down close to the girl. She is very quiet, merely crouching a arm's distance away, and she watches - eventually, the girl lifts her head, and a hesitant smile of recognition crosses her features.
Toz's arms fold over his chest, though he lets you slip away from him. He remains in place, shrouded and simply watching the interaction between the two - though the link is almost icy, especially as he moves to more study the small child.
Toz tells you, "She will be dead. There will be no one to tell who or what she wants, because she will be gone. Obliterated. We will have harvested her body, and nothing more."
"Fairy!" the girl giggles, clearly pleased to see the Azudim. It's obvious the two have met before, perhaps more than once. She splashes her doll through the mud, and begins a sing-song explanation of absolutely nothing at all, words meandering on in a childish, wandering recitation.
You tell Toz, "I don't want her to scream..."
Toz tells you, "So knock her out. Put her to sleep. She will scream if she is awake - having your soul drained is never pleasant. Having it ripped out even less so."
You have emoted: Moirean's wings flare out at the girl's acknowledgement, framing her body in a rather impressive arc. She smiles, faintly, but there's a clear touch of annoyance in her expression, dragging at her features. She glances back towards where you stand, concealed still, and her eyes narrow and flare with a flash of amber as, heatlit, they glare back at you.
Toz returns your stare for a time. Deliberately, a hand opens up at his side - after an expectant moment, his soulstone appears within it, likewise cloaked with his shroud. He cants his head to you ever so slightly, taking (relatively) light steps towards both you and the child, his gaze still cold, emotionally vacant.
Toz tells you, "Ten seconds, and gone. I let you indulge, Commander. It is only fair to you. But this time, you cannot hide from what this is- I will make you look at it. She will be gone, and our child will be in her place. There is nothing she can do to stop us."
You have emoted: Moirean leans in close to the girl, voice dropping to a murmur as she lightly asks in gently exaggerated tones, "What do you have there, little one?" Her wings pull in close, as if shielding both her and the child from you, and she bows her head, features lost as her hair falls over her face like a curtain - her emotions, however, are far less easy to hide from you, and you sense her trying to block out your cold logic.
You tell Toz, "She'll be happy, she'll come with us, and be happy..."
The girl looks up, giggling, and displays her muddy ragdoll proudly for the Azudim to see.
Toz comes to a halt only a few paces away, watching you and the girl. His expression keeps to flat, staring down in quiet observation, his misshapen soulstone rolling around within the cradle of his fingers. Though he holds his voice, his thoughts continue - as does the insistent cold through the link. Perhaps cruelly, the girl's body appears before you in your mind's eye, eyes cold and lifeless for a moment before they crack back open - no longer the color they are, but shaded like his own instead.
Toz tells you, "She will be nothing except dead."
You have emoted: Moirean makes a polite cooing noise at the girl's display of the doll, but there's a clear tension in her body, now, in response to your cold, cruel logic. She forces a smile on her face, hand lifting to pat the girl's cheek, even as she tries to push back against the image through the link, tinging the cheeks rosy and curving the lips into a smile. It's a weak effort though - the girl is still dead, her own soul gone, even through Moirean's attempts to reshape the vision.
Toz gives another shake of his head, taking a small - perhaps threatening - step towards the child, his soulstone raising up to eye level, clutched almost delicately between his thumb and forefinger. From this angle, the tear-shape is made clearer, and he studies it. Another memory briefly rises - his own pain as a portion of his soul was severed to make your arm.
Toz tells you, "Commander. Ten seconds. Either she comes with us, now, or we leave her be."
You have emoted: Moirean twists her head to stare back at you, a frustrated sob wrenched out of her. Through the link, she's all hungry and longing and desperate - a cascading flashing series of images, all of her children, all gone, streaks by - and then a hot fiery determination, in response to your cold, cruel insistence. "I need her," she whispers, gaze reluctantly shifting back to the girl. Her hand cups the girl's cheek, and a smile, sad and apologetic, slowly comes to her lips.
Toz's response is simple, given your whisper. He lets go of a pulsing soulstone. Instead of falling, it instead turns towards the child - the makeshift point angled downward. Glowing a sickly red, it surges at the girl, zipping to rest between her eyes. Hypnotically, it starts to churn, both mesmerizing her and leeching away at her soul hungrily. The feeding does not last long, one of Toz's hands turning upwards to clench in a fist that shuts the stream off and seems to lock the girl's muscles up even as her eyes fall closed.
You have emoted: Moirean forces herself to watch as the girl's soul is siphoned out. She winces as you exert control over her and then quickly leans forward, catching the girl as the child's muscles go rigid, gently gathering her into her arms and resting her head on her shoulder. She stares up at you, then, the girl's blonde braids wisping into her own dark curls as the ragdoll streaks muddy stains across her shirt. There's a hint of accusation in her gaze - but, more, underlying, there's acceptance. Gratitude. She pulls the girl tighter and, voice very soft, murmurs, "...Mine..."
A weak, faint blue light flares out of the woman's soulstone in response to the words.
Toz finally breaks his silence to say, simply, "It will only disable her for a time. We should go, now." Even as he moves to follow you, slinging up into the saddle, his soulstone seems to be bleeding soul back towards the child in your arms.
Toz swiftly swings up onto an immense plough horse.
You have emoted: Moirean extends an arm towards you, her other refusing to release her grip on the child, and begins to clamber up behind you. "Go," she hoarsely agrees.
Toz wastes no time - as soon as you are settled behind him, he's gone.
Toz says, "Voltda."
You follow Toz to the ether. (lost)
Within the Death Caves. (The Death Caves.)
You follow Toz to the north.
The Commander's study. (Shadow Keep.)
A sigil in the shape of a small, rectangular monolith is on the ground. A stately ebonwood armchair is here, padded with leather. A soft, black velvet couch sits here in west of the room. A weathered wooden desk dominates the northern half of the room. Toz is here. He is riding on an immense plough horse. A murky darkness has settled in here.
You see exits leading south (closed pine door) and out (open pine door).
Toz closes the door to the south.
Toz locks the south door.
You have emoted: Moirean rushes past you as you see to locking the door, attention fully on the girl in her arms. By this point, the soul control is beginning to wear off, and the child is rousing - Moirean drops down onto the couch, rocking back and forth, eyes wide, as she holds the girl close, murmuring vacant phrases. Her expression is shocked.
Toz finishes with the door and again sends his stone towards the waking girl. It impatiently blows past where you is rocking, again coming to rest between the girl's eyes, draining her soul. Quietly, Toz says to you, "Be ready. The body dies swiftly once the soul is removed. Wait until it is all gone however - I want our child's to be intact." That warning given, he focuses back on the task at hand, expression not once ever twisting from anything but calm.
You have emoted: "Wait!" Moirean croaks, smoothing the girl's hair down frantically. Her eyes get even wider at your words - everything is happening, so fast, so sudden, and seeing the reality of her plans is clearly shaking her - and she begins to quietly babble reassurances to the girl, cupping her cheek with her other hand as the child's eyes begin to flutter open.
As she fully comes aware, her soul seeping back to her, the child begins to scream - the sound is agonized, terrified, pained - and frantically tries to struggle away from the Azudim's grip.
You have emoted: Moirean winces at the noise, her eyes closing as she flinches back, as if struck.
The difficulty of restraining his hungry soulstone is made clear by the grimace that overtakes Toz's face, but its feeding does slow to almost nonexistent. "Ten seconds," is all he manages to grit out between clenched teeth, a small bead of sweat on his forehead. At the scream, there's a little grunt and a surge of something that lashes out from his stone, smacking the child firmly between the eyes. Though her mouth remains open, no further sound emerges.
You have emoted: Moirean's grip tightens, trying to hold the girl still. Her eyes open as the sound ceases, but the faint blossoming look of relief is replaced by an expression of nausea as she sees the child's silent, soundless screams. "Oh gods," she whispers hoarsely. "Oh gods, what are we doing-" Her hand, pulled tight around the girl, begins to shake...but her other finds her soulstone, fingers wrapping tight around it. Another flare of blue light, stronger now, and with it a surge of steely strength, slicing across the weakness and compassion delaying her actions.
You have emoted: "Do it," Moirean commands, voice shifting into a cold, determined tone, gripping her soulstone tight. "Now."
Toz gives a simple nod - and perhaps a subtle sigh of relief. The effort etched on his face fades, his stone swiftly resuming the draining of the girl's soul. "We are taking care...of our own," he manages raggedly, chest rising and falling somewhat swifter than normal as he works to regain his composure. As his stone works, the girl's eyes again flutter shut - though this time from weakness as her soul is ripped away, rather than anything Toz does directly. "Ten percent," he estimates.
You have emoted: In Moirean's arms, the girl's struggles abruptly cease, body slumping down to rest heavily against the woman as her head lolls back. Moirean resumes her rocking, stroking the girl's back, as if, somehow, that might ease the wrenching, wracking pain of near-utter soul drain. Every few seconds, the child twitches, body spasming, as her mouth opens in unnaturally silent cries. The woman forces herself to watch everything, jaw clenched tight, as she carefully monitors the draining.
Toz gives a low, tired-sounding, "Now," by way of alerting you that it is done - his tone is sharp, carrying a cold, commanding undertone. His soulstone, sated, zips back towards his hand. As he palms it, a small gleam is visible just along the outer edge of the teardrop, a small silver sparkle amidst the dark crystal. He doesn't glance down as the stone re-molds with him, his attention focused only on you and the now-dead child.
You have emoted: As the last trace of the girl's life twists away, Moirean's fingers clench around her own soulstone. Eagerly, enthusiastically, an arc of light surges out, coursing from it to lance into the girl's chest. There's a sharp, ragged gasp, and the child's eyes snap open - muddy brown pales, color leeching away into a piercing, icy blue, as the girl slowly twitches, hands curling and legs kicking as the new soul fills her body. Finally, the flow ceases, light dimming, and Moirean exhales slowly, soulstone melting away back into the ether as she wearily shifts her grip on the girl.
Toz runs a hand briefly through his hair, a bit pale-faced and tired seeming as he makes his way to crouch beside the couch, glancing briefly first to you, then to the child. "Hello, little one," he offers down towards the latter, his voice taking on the same faintly affectionate cant as it did with Sevryla, a very faint, very brief smile offered towards the girl.
You have emoted: The girl is still and silent for a long span, before she begins to shift, movements fitful at first, before she wriggles more forcefully, trying to untangle herself from Moirean's tight embrace. There's doubt in the woman's eyes as she eases up her grip, one hand lifting to brush the girl's hair aside and gently cup her cheek. She says nothing, breath bated. The girl slowly blinks between first her, and then you, before she curiously asks, "...Mommy?"
Toz observes, speculatively glancing upwards, then behind himself, "Somehow, this was easier than the other way..." His arm goes to slide around your shoulders, tugging you in close against his side, briefly pecking you cheek before he confirms for the child, "This is your mother, yes."
You have emoted: Moirean's expression is tired, haggard and weary - but radiant, a fond smile on her lips as her eyes drink in the sight of the girl. "Mine," she murmurs, stroking the child's cheek. "My little miracle..." The girl seems remarkably calm in response to the changes, the sudden life, almost unsettling so, and merely regards the two of you with piercing, ice-blue eyes, before dutifully snuggling in closer.
Toz lifts his hand to lightly pat the side of the child's cheek, the touch only lingering for a moment. "A name?" he prompts you, "Or shall we just leave it at 'Miracle' for now?" He doesn't seem bothered either way, resting lightly against you as he looks down towards the girl, almost contemplatively.
You have emoted: "Miracle sounds like a horse," Moirean retorts in a sharp hiss to you over the girl's head.
The child glances up, blonde braids spilling down her back, and blinks slowly at the two of you. "My name is Lorana," she interjects, tone lisping and childish.
You have emoted: Moirean blinks down at the girl, clearly startled by the assertion. She says nothing, glancing over to you.
Toz gives you a small shrug, returning the brief glance. "That resolved itself as well," he tells you. "How do you feel, Lorana?" he prompts.
"Hungry," the girl obediently answers. She gives a slow blink. "Cold." Her stare turns to Moirean. "Mommy, I'm cold."
You have emoted: Moirean pulls the girl closer, dragging a blanket up from the back of the couch to wrap around the child. "Of course," she mumbles, smiling widely at the girl. It's an act - she's clearly shaken, and now, traces of worry are creeping in, second-questioning and doubts of what she's done.
You tell Toz, "Do....do you think she's...normal? Being in the stone, what does that do to a soul..."
Toz tells you, "Commander, we just kidnapped a child and ripped her soul out to make room for our child's. What about that sounds normal to you? I am not concerned with normal so much as I am with success, and we seem to have succeeded."
Toz retrieves some rations from his pack, placing them down carefully atop the blankets draped over the child. He seems far less bothered than you by the reply, "Not particularly pleasant tasting, but filling," he suggests, his head canting curiously down at her. "Is there anything else you require?"
The blanket seems to do the trick. The girl nestles into that, nuzzling in tight against her...mother...and retrieves a ration to nibble on. After only a few bites, her eyes begin to blink slower, and she's letting out crumb-filled yawns. Soon, mid-snacking, she's dozing off, settling against the woman in a soft, blanket-wrapped ball.
You have emoted: Moirean is silent, watching the girl. Her gestures are automatic, absently maternal, as she strokes the child's back, smoothes down her hair, gently rocks her into slumber. Her expression is hungry, and remains fixed on her "daughter" even as the girl sleeps. She says nothing for a long time, until, finally, she quietly whispers, "I deserve this. I deserve her."
You have emoted: More quietly, little more than a breathy sigh through the link comes Moirean's unspoken, buried guilt - she's acutely aware, if only for a moment, of what another mother has to endure for her to have this.
Toz shakes his head at you. "Life is not about deserving. You did not deserve to lose children as you did. She did not deserve to die. The strong take, the weak suffer. That is why we work to be strong - and why you need to be reminded from time to time." He gives you a faint smile and a peck on the cheek, tugging you in closer against him, keeping you there for a time.
You have emoted: Moirean leans against you, nodding faintly. "We are Carnifex," she agrees. She lowers her head, pressing her lips to the sleeping girl's forehead in a gentle kiss, and whispers, "In Strength...daughter."
Toz echoes faintly, "In Strength," - though it seems towards you more than the sleeping child. He starts to rise to his feet, stretching out for a moment. "That was tiring...but we have one of our daughters back. What now?"
---// Blah blah Carnifex business \\----
Toz agrees absently, "Aye.." His gaze drifts briefly towards the sleeping child, then towards the door, "...How long do we have until the Tainting?"
You have emoted: Moirean's eyebrows raise. "A day or so," she replies, clear question in her voice.
Toz nods to you. "I should likely go work on what I had to do before all of this," he confesses. "Though the temptation to remain here instead is strong. I'm tired." He frowns down at his hands, then attempts to shake off his thoughts, "Deathlore is always fatiguing for me."
You have emoted: Moirean shifts the girl to one hip, disentangling her other hand to reach up towards you, fingers lightly resting on your forearm. "Thank you," she says, voice stark and plain. Her hand curls around your wrist, fingers digging in as she gives you a faint smile.
Toz's head bobs in a light nod. His other hand reaches up to take your hand from his wrist, holding onto you hand instead. "It was worth it to see that smile, Commander. I know what this means to you." He smiles back, the gesture brief, and moves his bulk back over to rest down beside you.
You have emoted: Moirean laces her fingers with yours, holding your hand tight as she shifts closer, resting her head on your shoulder. "Stay with me," she pouts, selfish for a moment. She pauses, lets out a sigh, and then asks, "...well, what is your other business? Is it so important?"
Toz shakes his head at you, arm going to wrap around you. "Reflex work. Always reflex work to be done," he explains quietly to you. He tugs you lightly, bumping you against his chest as he settles down firmly into his place beside you.
You have emoted: The girl's grown rather heavy by this point. Moirean reluctantly sets her down beside her, her movements slow, as if unwilling to release her hold on the child. The girl is unaffected and merely dozes on, curling up against the couch cushions. Moirean watches for a span, and then sighs happily, scooting into your lap as she wraps her arms around your neck. "I love you," she says, nuzzling in to press her lips against your neck.
Toz lifts a hand to cradle the back of your head, tilting his head to one side as your lips press against his neck, exposing it further to you. "I love you as well," he murmurs fondly. "Together, there is nothing we cannot achieve..." He falls silent, his eyes shutting, and his body sags slightly to the left - he seems almost out already, perhaps dangerously close to asleep where he sits.
You have emoted: Moirean exhales softly as you slump against her, biting back a giggle. "Rest," she admonishes, hand lifting to brush against your cheek and through your hair. She pauses a moment, frowning as she spies the new streak of grey at your temple, before her fingers gently continue their caressing, body shifting to help support your weight.
Toz gives a little wordless grumble by way of reply, leaning back slowly as he wakes himself up a little. He ends up stretched out beneath you, arms winding around your waist and his eyes tightly shut. "Rest," he agrees, using you like a blanket as he too almost hunkers down for a nap.
You have emoted: Moirean merely smiles, hands outstretched to gently rest on the shoulders of her husband and her daughter. Her eyes close and she lets out a long, content sigh.
A few days go by. The following appears...
Scenic path. (road) (Arbothia.)
The bright sun shines down, blanketing you with its life-giving warmth. A missing child poster has been tacked up here.
You see exits leading east and southwest.
No longer than your typical scroll, this poster portrays a little girl in its very center that appears to be no older than two or three. Blond locks of hair fall in a tangled mess to her shoulders, and in her left hand is a muddied little doll that she clutches tightly as if for fear of losing it. Just above her head are the words, "MISSING CHILD - HAVE YOU SEEN ME?" written in a bold, attention-grabbing font. Below her picture is a small paragraph that requires closer inspection to decipher.
It is strangely weightless.
This poster is written in Aetolian.
You read what is written on a small poster labeled, "MISSING CHILD":
This girl's name is Lorana E'degraine, and she's been missing since approximately the 2nd of Midsummer, 426. Her parents have been desperately searching for her since she didn't come back home for dinner. She's known to wander Arbothia with her little doll, and our investigation as of now has not shown her to be in the town, nor any of the adjacent areas. Please contact the local authorities with any information you may possess. The parents are offering a 10,000 gold reward for her safe return.
Two years pass.
Moi shows Bene the result of said Bad Thing:
He is a stalwart Yeleni and is clearly a creature born of the Maelstrom. His face is smooth and hairless with water-like veins clearly visible beneath pale, thin blue skin. His broad features are characterized by sharp cheekbones and a square chin and piercing pearl-white eyes, the left of which is split by a neat scar which runs from his brow to the hollow of his cheek. Thick tentacles of an off-white color form his hair and are free to dangle and rest upon his broad shoulders, the coils curling and flexing lazily. His body itself is covered in midnight-blue scales that shift to an electric blue under direct light, silvery lines cut through the plating, tracing out a massive network of scars across his entire body. The bones of his large wings are covered in the same dark 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, his movements smooth and fluid.
(worn loosely around his waist) : a slender, low-slung black weaponbelt
(around the neck) : an amulet
(worn on the hands) : a pair of gauntlets
(worn on his wedding ring finger) : an entwined feathers and starstone wedding band
(covering the body) : a cascading Slyphian robe with a silver dolphin motif
(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
(covering the body) : engraved gold-burnished splint mail armour
(Tells|Benedicto): Benedicto tells you, "Let us continue our conversation. My brother told you not to tell me something. I would have you tell me what it is. I know I do not need to force you into this because I know you, Moirean. I know that you are bursting at the seams to tell me. So, start talking."
(Tells|Benedicto): You tell Benedicto, "You don't know me as well as you think you do, perhaps."
(Tells|Benedicto): Benedicto tells you, "Had you wanted to truly keep it a secret, you would never have mentioned anything to me."
(Tells|Benedicto): You tell Benedicto, "I think you deserve to know."
(Tells|Benedicto): You tell Benedicto, "Be warned, I will not hesitate to kill you if you...if you act as you did before."
(Tells|Benedicto): Benedicto tells you, "Thus far I have not had any relapses. I cannot make any promises however."
(Tells|Benedicto): You tell Benedicto, "You can explain what you mean by that, as well."
A garden of flowering trees. (Village of Saluria.)
The stars twinkle in the clear night sky. A path of soft white sand passes under the branches of the flowering cherry trees. The grass around the trees is a vibrant green color. The wildflowers around the tree trunks are bright and colorful, and fill the air with a sweet aroma. A blanket sits on a particularly large plot of grass; the intended spot of someone's picnic. The garden continues to the south around the monastery. A gardener tends to the flowers, dark fur beaded with sweat. A large mastiff is here, growling softly. Tiny and fragile, a gleaming clockwork dragonfly perches here. The fresh-looking droplets of crimson contrasting sharply with its radiantly white leaves, a blood-speckled rose lies here.
You see exits leading northeast, east, south, and west (closed pine door).
Your pose is now set as:
Moirean sits here beneath the shade of a magnolia tree.
(Tells|Benedicto): You tell Benedicto, "Come to me. I am in Saluria."
Benedicto enters from the northeast, riding a war turtle.
Bene thinks: There she is, just sitting as calm as you like.
Benedicto slides down from the shell of his war turtle, landing lithely on his feet to face you.
You have emoted: Moirean's stare shifts to you as you approach, gaze tracing the scars lashed across your body. She frowns, jaw tightening, and then stiffly nods towards the blanket beside her. "Sit," she suggests. She then shrugs. "If you like. Or not."
Bene thinks: I should not sit. For her sake as well as mine.
"I should not." Benedicto states raising a hand. "It would probably be best if a healthy distance was maintained between the two of us. For both our sakes." A tiny tremor passes through him, leaving a brief tic at the corner of his mouth which is quickly stilled.
Benedicto stands a healthy distance from Moirean, his stance rigid.
You have emoted: Moirean coolly processes that, and then shrugs again. The motion stirs her wings, and they flex for a moment, the seamed scar across one side catching a shaft of sunlight in an accusing, shiny gleam, before they settle back at her side. "As you wish," she answers, stare shifting away from you to look out across the gardens. There's a flash of movement beneath the trees, and a quiet noise that drifts towards you, like a soft call or a faint laugh - the sound has Moirean tense, and she gives you another glance, almost suspicious, before she raises her throat, calling out, "Lorana!"
You have emoted: At Moirean's call, a small figure peers out from behind one of the flowering trees, giggling again before racing towards the woman. She barrels into her lap, and the Azudim holds her tight, smoothing down a few wispy blonde curls as she shifts the girl towards one side, very subtly placing herself between you and the child. Only then does the girl notice you, and her posture stiffens, childish amusement and playfulness melting away as she studies you with pale blue eyes.
Benedicto stiffens, his entire body going rigid with shock. "But..." He manages to stammer, his expression drawn and tense. "...I had thought?" He stares at the child as if his pearl-white gaze were capable of gaining the answers through sheer examination. The tentacles that dangle about his face curl and uncurl in agitation, clutching at the empty air erratically. "Lorana?" He chokes the word.
You have emoted: "I will K-I-L-L you," Moirean warns in a very low hiss, clearly mistaking your reaction, obviously seeing your past actions overlaid on this moment. She pulls the girl tighter, hugging her more protectively, and the child calmly endures - if anything, she seems more comfortable with the closeness, her own arms sliding around Moirean's neck to tightly encircle it. For a few moments, a tense silence drags on, the threat hanging heavy in the air, as the child solemnly stares at you, peering out through her mother's auburn waves, and then she quietly lisps, "Don't kill him, Mommy. He's my second daddy."
Benedicto jerks as if he's been slapped, blinking dazedly. "Second?" He shakes his head, tentacles swinging this way and that as he attempts to clear his mind. "You owe me an explanation." He finally demands of you, his voice as hard as his expression as he looks at you. "I thought I had..." He trails off, clearly unwilling to speak the words in the face of the little girl's stare.
You have emoted: Moirean seems surprised by the girl's words as well, ignoring you utterly as her attention turns solely to her. She cups the child's cheek, brows furrowing. Some unspoken sort of communication passes between mother and daughter, and the girl whispers in answer, "I saw him through the glass, behind flames. It was cold, but there was fire outside the glass." Moirean hugs the girl close at that, drawing in a sharp breath, and her head snaps back to fix an accusing, icy glare on you. "You thought what, Bene?" she harshly hisses, steel in her voice as she maternally cradles the girl, still shielding her from you. "Say it."
You have emoted: Coldly demanding, Moirean repeats, "Say. It."
Bene sees: Do you like what you see? The child, perhaps yours, perhaps not. That very well may be your blood standing right before you - but who's to know?
Clenching his jaw shut, Benedicto shakes his head as if to deny you. Despite his flat refusal, his eyes find the girl once more and he swallows with difficulty, his expression stricken. As he heaves a sudden sigh, the resistance and tension flowout of him. "I thought I had killed her." He whispers brokenly, his voice riddled with remorse. "I thought that...in my madness. I had-" He turns away from you and the girl as he begins to weep silently, his shoulders rising and falling with each new sob.
Bene sees: "Second daddy," comes into your mind. "Second daddy."
Bene sees: She's growing stronger, you notice. Stronger by the day, by the -minute- without your influence.
You have emoted: "You did," Moirean flatly answers. If there's sympathy for your pain, she's hiding it completely, leaving you only with a cold, withering stare. She lets you sit there with that truth echoing in the air, shifting the child's weight against her as a breeze blows through the trees, stirring the fallen flowers to swirl past your feet. Finally, she looks back at the girl, and brushes back an errant blonde curl, escaped from the pigtails. A trace of softness is in her tone when she speaks, but there's also something else, almost a dismissive note, as she explains, "I do not wait for solutions to come to me. I do what needs to be done." A faint smile curves her lips at that, inexplicably, and she murmurs, almost as if to the child, "That is strength."
Benedicto gives a sniff, dragging the sleeve of his robe across his face roughly. When he turns to face you once more it is with red-rimmed eyes, a hint of jade within their depths. He draws a ragged breath, visibly trying to calm himself before he looks upon you with a stern expression. "Stay out of my mind. I carry enough regret without your influence." He says roughly. "You are not free of blame. Tell me, what has happened to your other children. Did you strength keep them? Protect them?"
You have emoted: Moirean's tone softens even more as she speaks, ostensibly addressing the child. "Do you remember when we went to the menagerie, Lorana?" The girl peeps past her mother, quietly peering at you - oddly, she doesn't seem afraid, and an almost adult-like calm is on her features - before she looks back to Moirean and nods. "Do you remember the lion, there? The big, strong, ferocious lion?" The girl gives a slight smile and nods again. "Do you remember what he did, all trapped in that cage, when those kids came by and threw rocks?" The girl nods again, eyes wide, as she solemnly answers, "He roared, mommy."
The battered corpse of a small girl seems to step forth from between the trees, her icy blue eyes wide and alert as her gaze falls upon Benedicto.
You have emoted: Moirean gives the child an approving smile, and echoes, "He roared."
"He roared," the battered corpse of a small girl resolutely echoes, her tiny hands balling into fists as her gaze remains plastered upon Benedicto, as if transfixed. "ROARED," she too now roars in a way that sends a violent tremble through the very ground you stand upon.
"body141963" the battered corpse of a small girl.
A quick glance at this small girl's form would lead one to believe that she's indeed quite dead as evidenced by the scorch marks that mar her form, and the gashes and blood that stain her freckled cheeks. Her blond hair falls to her shoulders in a tangled mess, dirt and detritus splayed within their midst as if she'd recently been tossed in a grave of some sort. Despite all this, her icy blue eyes glean with a sort of rigid intensity - accusingly, threateningly.
The battered corpse of a small girl looks weak and feeble.
You have emoted: The cry makes Moirean start and she presses the girl closer to her as she whips around, eyes narrowing as they fix on the battered image. "NOT amusing," she hisses at you.
Benedicto shifts his weight to compensate for the sudden lurching of the ground underfoot, his brow furrowing as he shoots you a sharp look, a faint hint of fear barely visible in his eyes. "Mm. No, not amusing." He confirms as he straightens, a wariness now entering his posture. "That is not my daughter. It is an abomination. A demon housed in a dead girls corpse." He declares, moving parallel to you and the battered corpse of a small girl.
"As for you Moirean. I have no doubt the lion roared. I bet he roared loud and long, terrifying everybody." Benedicto continues as he stops walking. "But, the lion was still caged. Helpless. It was nothing more than a show. The lion could do no more harm than you could prevent the loss of your first daughter. Our son."
"What's not amusing?" the battered corpse of a small girl queries with an air of innocence only one so young could manage. She takes a few steps forward to grasp Benedicto's hand with a steely grip quite contradictory to her size. Guiding Benedicto's hand upwards, she places his fingers over top of a deep hole present in the direct center of her forehead that seems to be the uncanny result of a bladed weapon. "Is what you did to me not amusing?" she regards, head tilting in such a way as to allow Benedicto's fingers to swirl in the wound.
The battered corpse of a small girl says to Benedicto, "I didn't laugh when you did this, daddy. I cried. I cried and cried and cried until I couldn't cry any more, until I was nothing but a soul in mommy's stone."
You have emoted: In Moirean's arms, the girl is warm, alive, cheeks flushing as she stares at the lurching body with a wide-eyed look of terror. Your words mean nothing, nothing, to the woman right now - she has focused back on the girl, hugging her closer as she tries to soothe the her panic. The wrenching sound of a child's crying cuts through the garden, faintly muffled as she buries her face in her mother's breast. Moirean's own features grow tight, tense, angry, a cold, steely anger you've not seen from her before - it's not mad, or wild, like her usual surge of emotions, but sharp and focused, her stare slowly lifting to piercingly regard you.
In a low, dangerous whisper, you say to Benedicto, "Open. Your. Eyes."
Benedicto attempts to jerk his hand back in disgust. "Free my hand, demon." He snarls. "My blade did not do that to you, but some others." He struggles in vain to free himself from the clutches of the girl. "Lies. The words of a creature of Shadow. I will not heed them!" He declares, a look of uncertainty creeping across his face. He is so involved in his struggle he does not notice you for the moment, though his pearl-white eyes flick over to you and back to the battered corpse of a small girl at her words. "It cannot be." He states in a tone filled with unsurety. "I will not believe it."
The battered corpse of a small girl seems genuinely stricken by Benedicto's words, her hand releasing his the instant the words escape his lips. Her lips quiver briefly, hurt practically written across her countenance in a font so bold it cannot be denied. Tiny shoulders quiver as she releases a sob that's choked for breath, and where tears would typically be forming at the corners of her eyes is instead blood. "What did I d-do to you?" she barely manages to issue forth. "Why was I not good enough for you?"
You have emoted: Moirean laughs, the bitter noise only underscoring her absolute lack of amusement. The body clearly has her unnerved, but she seems to be past any point of fear or sorrow, your words of denial pushing her into this ruthless, cold anger. "OPEN. YOUR. EYES," she again demands, body rocking back and forth as she caresses the girl's back, holding the child close as fearful sobs wrack her small frame.
The battered corpse of a small girl says to Benedicto, "M-mommy thought I was good enough. She gave me life. Yo- you took it away though."
Benedicto staggers backwards, suddenly unbalanced by the freedom of his hand. His pearl-white eyes drift past the battered corpse of a small girl to you and the child in you lap. He shakes his head, gently at first, though the movement becomes more erratic. "What are you?" He whispers hoarsely to the battered corpse of a small girl. "The Avatar of my guilt? My secret desire to punish myself? You cannot be..."
"I am Lorana," the battered corpse of a small girl answers rather simply as she lowers herself into a sitting position upon the ground, legs crossed upon each other as she shifts to turn her back to Benedicto. "The daughter that wasn't good enough for you," she sniffles out, a hand lifting to wipe at the crimson-colored tears that drift sluggishly down her cheeks. This gesture only manages to spread the fluid messily across her cheeks and upon her fist, smearing it gruesomely into her skin.
Eying the girl in your arms, the battered corpse of a small girl says, "Hey, come here please?"
You have emoted: Moirean continues to stare at you, accusingly, but her attention is dragged away as the girl's fear escalates at being directly addressed by the creature. Sobs turn into heavy gasps, labored pants drawn in and out in ragged breaths as she begins to hyper-ventilate. Moirean's anger is shoved aside, now, and you, the battered body, everything is forgotten as she becomes purely a mother, soothing her terrified daughter. Her wings flare open, sheltering the pair from both you and the corpse-child, and she murmurs low words of encouragement, coaching the girl through the panic attack with a practiced, forced calm that makes it clear this is not her first experience with such a reaction.
Her shoulders drooping at the outright dismissal, the battered corpse of a small girl says, "I won't hurt you, I promise. We don't break promises, that's really bad."
Benedicto swallows bile as he falls to his knees before the battered corpse of a small girl, his large webbed hand reaching out and then drawing back, fearful of the potential contact. "You were good enough." He chokes out. "It wasn't me, child. I wasn't myself. I did not have control of myself." By the end he is almost babbling, his eyes wide, cheeks wet with tears of guilt, shame and terror. "It was the Darkness. I have been touched by Corruption." He no longer see's you or the living child you shelters. Rather he is now lost in a spiral of his own torment, oblivious to his surroundings as his attention focuses solely upon the battered corpse of a small girl.
"People that follow Her would not do what you did," the battered corpse of a small girl irritably spits now over her shoulder to Benedicto, her eyebrows drawing inwards as if to insinuate her dissatisfaction with his attempt at distracting her from her focus upon the much more vibrant version of herself cradled within your arms. "I promise," she insists again with a fierce sort of seriousness attributed to the words. "Maybe if mommy comes along too? That's fine, she's nice."
"No, no..." Benedicto croaks, falling to all fours. His long, white tentacles fall forwards to dangle around his face, their movements stilled. "It was Corruption. It was not me." The words become a mantra, mumbled to himself over and over as he loses himself in denial.
A gleaming clockwork dragonfly shimmers into existence before you.
Composed of brass, iron and crystal, this tiny, four-winged insect is an incredibly intricate clockwork construction, articulated in such a manner that it is almost indistinguishable from a living creature. Tiny, faceted eyes of polished glass are set over mandibles of dark iron, and a tiny, bulbous boiler cell nestles in the center of the clockwork insect's thorax. A tiny, dark socket is set into the dragonfly's thorax, allowing it to be wound. It is called 'Zizz.'
You have emoted: "Here," Moirean murmurs to the girl, retrieving a small, clockwork toy from beside where the two sit. "Zizz is here. Focus on him." It takes effort, but the child manages to raise her head, tear-streaked eyes focusing on the softly-clanking "pet" - gathering it close to her chest, her panicked breathing slowly steadies as she manages to regain a measure of control over her panic attack. Moirean glances over at the corpse - and now she seems to see it, fully, sees her own daughter's features echoed in those broken lines, and she bites back a sudden sob, smothering the gut-twisting reaction to instead force a smile towards her daughter. Her eyebrows raise. The girl, calmer now, gives a very faint, tentative nod, and Moirean holds the girl close as she hesitantly edges closer - just a bit - to the creature, pausing often to gauge the child's response.
"You're really pretty," the battered corpse of a small girl attempts at a compliment to the little Lorana, though her rather disheveled and teary state seems to inject a more somber note into the attempt. "But I need to tell you something, okay? Something really, really important." Her own eyes now seem to flicker towards the whirring toy, which seems to rally her only slightly as she takes in a deep breath.
You have emoted: The girl is calmer now, though she's still sniffling, but it's more of a residual, forgotten sort of crying, as if a habitual response she's fallen into - beneath the tears, there's a curious blooming of maturity in her stare, a serious, calm intensity settling back into her stare as she looks at the battered copy of herself. Her gaze shifts, down to the toy, and she gives the gleaming brass body a reassuring, almost ritualistic stroke - once, twice, thrice - before glancing up at Moirean with a questioning look. The woman gives a slight, encouraging nod, and the child somberly faces the ruined version of herself again. Voice faint, tenuous, and fragile in the way that only a young girl's can be, she whispers, "Yes?"
"Daddy is one of the bad guys," the battered corpse of a small girl whispers, eyebrows lifting as she speaks. "He... he really hurt me- us," she continues on with another shaky inhalation before it's released. "Mommy's going to protect you, she's really good at that." She chances a glance over her shoulder at Benedicto before she returns her rapt focus upon Lorana. "But stay away from him, okay? He can't- he won't hurt us again."
Benedicto jerks his head up, staring with wild, jade tinged eyes at the children and you. "No." He gasps. "Nooooo!"
You have emoted: The girl takes the information in silence, shifting in Moirean's arms to pull the toy dragonfly closer to her chest. Again, that reassuring once, twice, thrice run of her fingers over the brass body - the gesture seems to help steady her, and finally she looks up towards Benedicto, blue eyes sharp as she silently takes in his cry.
You have emoted: Very soft, her stare directed downwards toward her daughter, Moirean gently, almost painfully kindly, asks, "Is it really no, though, Bene?"
"He will not hurt us again," the battered corpse of a small girl resolutely repeats as she clamors upwards from the ground, her body a mess of blood, dirt, and whatever other plant matter cling voraciously to her form from her spot upon the ground. "You will not hurt us," she echoes once more, though this time directly to Benedicto as she pivots to face him head-on. Her icy blue eyes are alight with a certain fervor, a zeal in them that betrays her younger form. "NEVER AGAIN," she shrilly cries before charging towards him - yet as she seems only inches away from impact, she explodes in a blazing myriad of color that lingers in the air before fading.
"rose60034" a blood-speckled white rose.
White petals curl around the bulb of this beautiful rose that'd be so pure in appearance were it not for the droplets of blood that seem to be splattered upon them. The crimson liquid contrasts sharply with the ivory hue of the thorned plant, yet even despite this its beauty cannot be denied.
Benedicto shakes his head, clenching his eyes shut, his teeth grinding together. "No, I am not." He grates out with difficulty, though who the words are intended for is unclear. He seems to wrestle with himself for a long moment before, finally, his head droops forward with a violent expulsion of pent up breath.
You have emoted: At the corpse's burst into shimmering colors, the girl seems on the verge of tears again. Moirean pulls her close, shifting the toy more firmly into the child's hands, as one arm cradles her daughter, mechanically rubbing her back in a soothing gesture, automatically and maternally reacting to stave off another panicked bout of crying. Over the child's head, she shoots you a stare, eyes narrowed as she hisses, "A good man - a father - would not do what you have done."
Benedicto draws in one ragged breath after another, pushing himself unsteadily back so that he rests upon his knees. "You are right. They would not have." He pants, sweat and tears mingled upon his face as he looks at you with red-rimmed, pearl-white eyes. "It was not me. I refuse to believe it was me. You know-have known-me for years. Would the Benedicto you knew have done as I-as..." He trails off, unable to find the words.
You have emoted: A shred of compassion breaks through Moirean's cold, angry stare, her expression softening just enough to betray her doubt. She does know you and, at least on some level, part of what you say is obviously ringing true. She blinks away, down to the girl again - staring at her daughter seems to strengthen her resolve, and she stiffly points out, "It still happened." Her jaw tightens, and then she looks back at you, eyebrows raising, and demands, "So how will you fix it?"
Benedicto raises his hands, palm upwards and then allows them to flop down against his thighs, the gesture clearly one of helplessness. "If I had any answers neither I nor you would be in this predicament. I am no closer to understanding than before I went to slumber. All I know..." He tugs at the straps of his pack and tugs it partially around. He places a hand inside and draws out a bunch of Chakra blossoms. "...is that She gave me these. Just before I started..." He shoves the flowers forcefully back into his pack. "Corruption has a hand in this. I drew Her ire and She wishes me to suffer for it."
You have emoted: Moirean gives the flowers a flat stare, as if regarding a serpent that might strike. Her arms tighten around the child. "Destroy them," she demands. "Burn them, bury them - I can exterminate them, if you need. Just...destroy them." She draws in a sharp breath and then presses her lips to the girl's forehead. The child's eyes lift to look first at her mother and then over to you. "You know what you need to do to make things right," Moirean accuses. "And I won't let you do that - I won't let you be a father to her, I won't let you even SEE her - if you are a danger."
"I have sought the aid of Lord Damariel." Benedicto nods, ignoring your plea to destroy the flowers. "I left Slyphe. He betrayed me. He gave the Order over to Rashar." He says the name in the same tone that one might refer to something they had found on the bottom of their shoe. "Lord Damariel was the only one who tried to help me. He set watchers on me, to ward my behavior." He staggers to his feet, drawing his robe about him as if to ward off a chill. "I will find the answer by pursuing the Truth."
You have emoted: Moirean hesitates at that response, frowning as she cautions, "Nola saw nothing wrong with you killing me." She pauses. In a whisper, eyes lowering to indicate the child, she adds, "...her." She hugs the girl tighter. "They are so caught up in evil and light and purity, Bene, they forget to simply be human. I...Be careful." She relaxes her grip on the girl, a bit, and the child gives a tentative smile. Moirean nods once to the girl, setting her down on the grass, and sits back on her heels.
Slowly, hesitantly, the girl steps closer to you, eyes wide - there's a surprising, almost adult calm in that stare, beneath the apprehension.
Benedicto chooses not to reply, he simply follows the movement of the girl to the grass and her tentative approach. "Be wary child, please. For all our sakes it would be best you do not come to close. I am a danger." He says the last words in a hollow voice. "Moirean-" He looks towards you with a plea in the depths of his pearl-white stare, "I-" He does not finish, he just stares at you for a long moment before walking brusquely over to the war turtle and leaping onto its shell. He cracks the reins and he and the turtle speed away northeastwards.
You have emoted: The girl's steps falter as the man - her father - backs away and leaves her there, standing alone. She watches him go, remaining stock-still, before she suddenly whirls about and barrels towards Moirean to bury herself in her mother's arms. Another bout of tears come, now, but they are not the panicked sobbing from before. Instead, they are simply sad, the vital cry of a child who's lost something, and the woman lets her bawl, rocking the girl in her arms as she murmurs quiet, soothing sounds, stroking her back as she, too, stares down the road upon which Benedicto vanished.