AD 2121Bryseis Family Enclave - The Blessed Orrery
The Scion had been in deep contemplation for nearly a week. From studying the pathings of constellations to calculating the orbit of Hyrule's moons, she had little to no contact with her family for nearly a week at this point. It was the time of year where prophecies were in abundance, and they were of absolute necessity to obtain. Whether for her shadow organization, for her people, or for other kingdoms, her business as an oracle required her to have an open mind to voices from beyond. Stars echoed their passions. Moons sang their ballads. And this year, they were plentiful with information. She was paying absolutely no attention to anything going on around her in the outside world.
She had opened the gates of her mind within this Orrery. It was her sanctum of meditation and textless study. And she thought she held the only path of entry. Clad in her robes of celestial gossamer, she had her harp and the Starborn Edge as her companions. These robes were flowing and quite lucent, shifting with the reflections that galaxies before her offered.
In conversing with the cosmos, Kae played unarranged harp notes that appeared to be a cacophony. But ethereal notes were reciprocated.
While this was Kae's favorite week of every year, today would be one she would regret forever. Danger had found its way in.
Elizabeth Bryseis, aged 14
It was at dawn that Elizabeth Bryseis swore a pact with the Oni of Light, Sourbeneton. The very devil that had placed a curse on her family had finally fulfilled his promise to Kae when she smote him in the Light Temple nearly fifteen years ago. He was so close to entering the Sacred Realm and filling it with delicious corruption. Now, Hyrule would have to do. And while it would take two milennia or more in the making, Elizabeth Bryseis was his profanely anointed champion.
She was clad in her leathers crafted by her uncle, Jaden. Armed with a Darksteel katana and straight shortsword offhand, there were many attempts to breach her mother's sanctum. The Orrery was one place she and her siblings were never allowed to go. And today was the one where Jaden, her twin brother Tristan, and her younger sister, Nora, were out on assignment. Elizabeth had been left to guard the Enclave on her own. No one suspected anything. No ill fates. No portents. Kae was so absorbed in her calibrations that she would never see coming what her eldest daughter had planned.
Such malicious intent. Such risk! Her new Lord commanded her to take the Blade of the Fifth Scion so that it could be reforged into an instrument of ruin. Elizabeth knew very well what kinds of safeguards her mother had woven into it. She had nearly two decades to preserve its integrity. Even so, this was a test of her new faith. The Oni would fill her with his might at the appointed time.
Using countermagic on the wards which sealed the Orrery was exhausting work. No more than six layers of complex lunar seals protected it. And there was always the risk of alerting her mother to the attempted break in. After nearly two hours, the final one had been extinguished. Her eyes were glowing with the pale green hue of her newfound abilities, seeing hidden truth in the wards. And one hidden truth was that the woman who birthed her had caught on to her ruse. She was fighting against her daughter at every turn to keep the warding up. Another revelation was that her other family members had been alerted. She could see essences diffuse into the cosmos and outside the hidden Enclave. They were on their way back. And if Elizabeth could not succeed quick enough, she would face the wrath of five of the most elite Sheikah instead of one of the finest who ever lived.
When the final ward was countered, Kae was standing on the other side with defenses at the ready. A flurry of star shards fired a nearly indefensible salvo of destructive cosmic power. It broke her heart to have true sight of this tragedy. But Elizabeth had managed to deftly dodge all of the beams, save one, and emerge from the clouds of coruscating dust with a seeping wound in her lower left side.
The Strange Fruits
"Of all the people in Hyrule I expected to attempt to break my wards, the last one I wanted it to be was my daughter. Why, Elizabeth? Why did you sell your soul to Sourbeneton?"
Beth knew better than to try to answer. This would give her mother exactly what she needed to prepare another attack. The gift of time. Swiftly throwing her offhand end over end, it embedded itself in Kae's left thigh before she could react. The Scion began to weave many defensive spells without reacting to the pain, and started to bombard Elizabeth with another salvo of magic. Never did she dream of having to defend herself against traitors in the family. Even with the Oni of Light vowing to her that her family would be in his grasp before he was defeated and his powers sealed back into Rauru's soul. Something must have failed.
Or Elizabeth found a way to hide her treachery from everyone. She was able to rise again with minimal injuries, and didn't show any signs of slowing down. Closing the gap between her mother, she took a slash to the right leg, and its burning should have paralyzed her. This must have been what her Lord meant by power coming over her. And this power allowed her to keep in melee range, overwhelming the Scion with a flurry of blows. Though none were connecting, blades were meeting so quickly that sparks were flying everywhere.
"Elizabeth Jade! You are not yet beyond redemption. Stop now, and we can sort this disaster out!"
In her murderous focus, the young firebrand was unable to speak. She tried to force air from her lungs, but it wasn't forming sound. Instead, her Lord had assumed direct control right as her katana locked with Kae's Edge.
"Dear Scion, you surely have not forgotten my promise! Your eldest is mine, just as I said. Had you died fifteen years ago, you would not experience shame of this magnitude! The Light Medallion was not worth it."
Throwing her possessed progeny backward with a nova of lunar energy, Kae's focus was torn in too many directions. Holding out until Jaden and her other children could arrive was looking to be less of an option. Elizabeth was her most talented. The questions of why, the breaking of her heart, and trying to figure out a way not to kill Beth were only three among about twenty thoughts. Overwhelmed and limited by terrain as well as means of action, the Scion called upon her Seraphic rites and infused her being with pure celestial essence. Melee would be the only way to not truly kill her, as most of her magic at this point would slay. Taking her alive meant a family exorcism was possible.
Conjuring another blade in her offhand, she charged her daughter with wings flared. Her anima was flush with four patterns. And she was projecting all sorts of mental distortion to try to throw her enemy off.
The last mistake her mother should have made was playing to Elizabeth's strengths. Kae was a sorceress. Not an expert in swordplay. Divine inspirations only went so far when they were a sole source of reliance. Beth used a balance of both to accomplish what even Jaden could not at her age. So much for infinite Wisdom. But every swing just increased her frustration. Even with the Oni of Light guiding her every blow, Nayru was showing her why her mother was Chosen.
It went on this way for about five minutes. No one was getting tired yet, but Elizabeth started to notice an opportunity. Where she had connected in the thigh earlier, her mother was starting to favor the right side. The wrist holding her Starborn Edge was exposed just enough to place one well-aimed thrust. But she had to think a few steps ahead. After feinting toward it and going toward the other side, Kae started to alternate how she defended. And the blocks were sending residual backlashes of cosmic power back into Elizabeth. It was like striking a source of electricity over and over again. But the pain was worth it when Beth impaled Kae's right forearm all the way through, causing her to drop her sword in agony. She fell to the ground, clutching her arm while weaving a spell of unknown destruction.
With how her mother fell, the darksteel katana fell with her, driving into her ribs. But the sword was on the ground. She could feel the urge of matricide burning strong. And what better way to slay her than with her own sword? Her master needed it, and there was no way she would be forgiven now. Forsaking her heritage, Elizabeth reached down to pick up the glistening violet blade.
"It'll never work. You are no longer my daughter, Elizabeth! How dare you throw your heritage away like this?"
One thing Elizabeth forgot was the first thing her mother told her at age four. There was starkly valid reasoning as to why no one could wield the Starborn Edge except for her. It was bound to her very soul. Touching it meant death, or something that would cause longing for it. And even the confidence of knowing her Lord was with her wasn't enough to defend her against the sorcery held within an artifact forged by Nayru herself. She could feel her entire being burn with vengeance as she was torn from the current plane of existence. Her body dematerialized and was hurtling toward the Orrery's Oculus.
Kae had literally erased Elizabeth from Hyrule, but at a heavy cost. Since Elizabeth contained the Scion's heritage, not all of the fifteen years of warding affected her. And some of it backfired, with the soul-binding enchantment taking on Elizabeth's vitae and grafting into her essence. It had become lost in time and space, just like her former daughter. At this point, she cursed everything she held dear as she lie bleeding out on the cold marble tile. Before losing consciousness, she could hear footsteps and her son shouting.
"Mother! I sense you leaving us! By Farore, you shall not."
Jaden Bryseis - AD 2126
It had been nearly five years since the day Elizabeth shamed the Bryseis family. Five years since the Scion had lost her signature weapon, the Starborn Edge. It had been lost in time and space, along with the traitorous thief. During that time, Kae had been doing a lot of research with her youngest daughter's help so as to find a way to retrieve her weapon. Elizabeth's living or dying was not investigated.
This is where Jaden came in. Even though he had responsibilities as the Chieftain of the Sheikah people as well as duties to Kae's secret society, the family all agreed that he would have the best chance of traveling back to where they believed Elizabeth was. Of course, a certain planetary alignment had to be set up in order for their ritual to work...
Even so, Jaden had his own reasons for diving into the past. This time period was full of pain for him, and he was the only one who believed that Elizabeth could be saved. Kae flatly told him that she only cared about the sword. And that getting back would require the same planetary alignment. They had no idea if he would return a moment later or even at all. Thus, his legendary blade, Starcaller, was used as an anchor in the ritual. His soul was bound fast to it for nearly two decades now.
Before stepping into the Orrery, Jaden was thankful that his whole family was gullible enough to believe chasing Elizabeth was the primary reason he was taking such a large risk. No, this one was all for himself. Because he hadn't done anything for himself except drink heavily since becoming Chieftain. Going rogue was going to feel so good...
Annie, Lost Woods, Dawn Day 6 Annie stood in awe, sword help up to the light filtering down through the trees, examining and admiring the gorgeous piece of weaponry she had found. She inspected the double-edged blade’s curious markings. The blade was pure white, with a huge cross guard like an angelic pair of wings. The hilt was the only part that wasn’t white; it was instead jet black. Just holding the sword, she felt powerful magic surging, but had no idea of its strength or of how to use it. She swung it a few times, and despite the sword’s size it felt light and easy to control. She felt an upwelling of pride at her discovery. However, something was still gnawing at Annie; where did this sword come from? What was it doing here? Deciding to explore the temple in which she found it, she stuck the sword into the ground.
The instant the blade dug into the soil, a series of massive shock waves went out across the ground, appearing as purple streaks of electricity traveling out from the sword, and the earth began to tremble. The entire area shook. Trees fell, chasms opened up, and the earth heaved; forest creatures collapsed into gelatinous piles before her eyes. And then, suddenly, everything went quiet again. The entire quake was just a few seconds. Through all of this, Ann was untouched; she hadn’t so much as moved. “What in the Goddesses name was THAT!?” she exclaimed. She was frightened half to death by the tremor, but that wasn’t what truly scared her. She knew that the lost woods were not known for earthquakes. She looked at the sword with trepidation, fearing that she may have unleashed some sort of dark magic. Her fears were only heightened when she saw that a golden symbol, etched into a circle, had suddenly appeared on the blade near the hilt. Running into the temple, she examined the hieroglyphs surrounding the sword’s pedestal. The symbol etched in gold on the sword’s blade was shown on one of the walls of the temple, and on each of the other walls was a different symbol, also etched in gold in a circle. These symbols were surrounded by other pictures; various images that Ann couldn’t make sense of. Annie grabbed a pen out of her pocket and began to scribble some of the symbols down on the back of her map. “These symbols…. It seems like they have some sort of magical properties…. But I can’t understand any of this! And how do I know what kind of magic this is? I need to know more before I….”
The distant sound of crunching leaves warned Annie of someone approaching outside the temple, and she peered out the entrance to see who could be coming. She spotted what appeared to be an armed thief approaching the sword she had stuck in the ground. “No… no…. no…. this can’t happen!” She watched with dread as the thief approached the sword, knowing that, whatever the source of the sword’s power, she had just given it away to someone who would only cause chaos and destruction. All she had was her plain old sword, but that wouldn’t do any good against a sword with that sort of magical power. Bravely or stupidly, she jumped out anyway and charged at the thief as he approached, determined to prevent him from taking the sword or die trying. “HEY! Don’t you touch that! It’s mine!” The thief looked up, saw a young girl charging at him, and smirked. “Such a nice sword! It deserves someone who will put it to ‘good’ use!” Before she could stop him, he reached out to grab the magical sword.
The thief flew into the air, landing in the leaves on the forest floor 50 feet away. As soon as he had touched the sword, an explosion of sparks had flown through the hilt and sent him flying back. The thief lay stunned, twitching, still alive but completely incapacitated. Ann walked nervously over to the sword. “What is this thing?” Ann asked herself. She reached out, nervously, expecting the sword might react the way it had to the thief. She gingerly placed the very tip of her index finder on the sword and braced herself, but the sword did not react. She grabbed it and pulled it out. “Seriously, this is weird. What in the Goddesses name is this sword, and what on earth is it doing here? Has it chosen me, or what? Is this some sort of dark magic?”
Part of her wanted to just drop the sword and run, but something deep inside told her not to, and her curiosity was getting the better of her. “Maybe… maybe I can find out more about this thing. What if…. I went to the library in Kakariko? Or better yet, I could show the symbols to someone in Castle Town! Someone there just has to know more. Now I just need to take care of that thief, and maybe do something about carrying this thing,” she said, gesturing with the sword. “I’ll just adjust my sheath strap a little… there we go,” she said, sliding the sword into a loop she made in the strap. It was awkward, but it was better than carrying it in hand all the way to Castle Town. She walked over to the thief, who had crawled over to a tree and leaned up against it, in too much pain to go anywhere. “Now as for you, sir. I have this new sword, and it would be awfully selfish of me to have two. My old sword is a lot nicer than yours, so here, you can have it!” She let the words hang for a second, and then as the thief looked up she thrust her old sword through the middle of his chest and into the tree, pinning him there. The thief’s eyes bugged out, and he looked incredulously at the sword protruding from his chest. Annie didn’t even give him a second look. She walked away, heading for a shortcut into Hyrule Field to get to Castle Town. Annie had no tolerance for thugs or thieves.
Lost Woods/Dawn 6
Ever since that morning full of bloody rain, Jaden found renewed purpose in his new friend, Ella. She reminded him of someone from days he remembered much too fondly. And he couldn't just leave her to her fate of blindly stumbling about a war zone. But he was relieved that the Forest Elemental that made him so unwelcome during the Interloper Conflict did not take up residence in the woods yet.
He had a sudden memory of escaping with only a long scalpel from the main Twili Garrison nearly a milennia in the future. The pain of dislocated and rapidly reset wrist bones, swelling in his hands, the baying of fell hounds. It was all coming back to him for a moment.
Jaden shook out of it and lifted his gaze when he heard Ella ask a simple question.
"Hey, Jaden. You got real quiet all of a sudden. Did you find it?"
Almost forgetting for a moment that Ella was blind, he lifted a finger to his lips as he watched a lithe, dirty blonde haired young woman do all the work for him. She had found a sword of great value and latent power, but it wasn't Evil's Bane. It was as though she had been here before...
And she had respectable skill with it! He admired how she handled her business in the wild. What he didn't admire was how she left a perfectly good temple unexplored. Now was time to break his cover. He whispered softly to Ella.
"Little lady, we aren't alone out here. Going to find out more. You'll be safe."
Emerging from the tree line, The Grey Wanderer shouted a greeting to the plain-clothed adventurer.
"Couldn't help but respect your skill with that shiny blade. I don't have mine out, and it's not coming out unless you draw yours. But I did notice you are leaving the very place I was looking for unexplored. Giving up dibs?"
Patting his rather large zweihander on the crossguard and taking a large quaff from his bottle of Captain Reynolds' Calatian Private Reserve, he grinned at her.
Ella Huntley/Day 6/Lost Woods
Ella glared at what she hoped was Jaden's back as she listened to him walk away. "Yeah... be safe my ass. Who leaves a blind girl in the middle of the forest? Honestly!"
She stomped off after him as she heard him talking to someone else. "Couldn't help but respect your skill with that shiny blade. I don't have mine out, and it's not coming out unless you draw yours. But I did notice you are leaving the very place I was looking for unexplored. Giving up dibs?"
"Great," she muttered, rolling her eyes with a sigh. "He's picking fights again." She turned her head over her shoulder to speak behind herself. "Hey, Mr. Tuff. Quick run-down: What am I looking at?"
Their third traveling companion, a man Jaden had introduced as 'Tuffy' (but Ella had heard Jaden call 'Lord Tuffington'), responded to Ella's question without noticing her little joke. "It would appear that Master Bryseis is squaring off against a young woman with what appears to be a magical white sword. She seems tense; I do hope Jaden doesn't cause another incident."
Ella sighed, and rose her voice, walking a bit further toward Jaden. "Hey! General Jackass! Stop picking fights!" She stopped next to the familiar stench of Jaden's liquor-breath, and addressed her next words forward. "Sorry about Mr. Hack-and-Slash here, he thinks with his sword." That actually elicited a reaction from Jaden, and Ella couldn't contain a grin when she heard him snerk.
"Hey now, which sword are you implying I think with?"
She swatted sideways at him. "Shut it, old man." She turned her voice back forward . "Look, we've been trying to find a certain temple in the woods here, and Swords-for-Brains thinks this is the right place. You can join us if you want. Shouldn't get too dangerous if we all team up, don't you think?"
Annie- Lost Woods- Dawn 6
Annie tensed up before she even saw what she knew was another person approaching in the forest. She hoped that this time she could slip quietly by, but she knew that her efforts to leave were futile when a man shouted out to her. "Couldn't help but respect your skill with that shiny blade. I don't have mine out, and it's not coming out unless you draw yours. But I did notice you are leaving the very place I was looking for unexplored. Giving up dibs?" Her hand instinctively went up to her blade as she turned to see him, but she did not draw it. She stood there, unsure of what to do, and tensed up for a fight. She was concerned at who this person might be, but he had said he would not draw his blade, and he doesn’t look too malicious…. But she didn’t like how it seemed he was just as geared up to fight as she was at the moment.
Then, Annie noticed another person approaching. It seemed that a blind girl had been traveling with this man. Annie instantly felt a little better; if this man were particularly volatile, he would be the first of the sort that she knew of to travel with a blind girl. "Hey! General Jackass! Stop picking fights!", the blind girl yelled at the older man. Turning to speak to Annie, she said, "Sorry about Mr. Hack-and-Slash here, he thinks with his sword." Annie held in a laugh, instead grinning at the joke. "Hey now, which sword are you implying I think with?" the older man told her and the blind girl told him, "Shut it, old man."Annie secretly hoped she just meant his literal sword.
The blind girl addressed Annie again. "Look, we've been trying to find a certain temple in the woods here, and Swords-for-Brains thinks this is the right place. You can join us if you want. Shouldn't get too dangerous if we all team up, don't you think?"
“I’m all for exploring temples, but swords-for-brains may want to look inside first, before he goes picking fights. There’s only one room in that temple, and this sword was the only thing in it. Unless there’s a secret passageway, or you can walk through walls, I’m not sure what there is to ‘explore’. But there were some interesting markings on the walls, and I can show you the ones I have written down. And if you’d like me to come along, then I guess I couldn’t hurt to go look around again…. Sure, I’ll join you. My name’s Annie.”
Ella Huntley/Day 6/Lost Woods
Ella quirked her eyebrow. "One room?"
Jaden made a thoughtful noise. "Well, secret passages and hidden doorways certainly sounds like her way of doing things, now doesn't it? Makes me wish I had brought the Eye, though..."
"Yeah," Ella said with a nod, "I was thinking the same thing."
She heard Jaden start to walk off while saying, "Makes me wish I had brought the Eye, though..."
"The what now?" asked Annie, getting closer.
Ella tagged along slightly behind Jaden's distinctive footfalls. "My people have a magic that can reveal hidden things, such as secret passages. But I left it... back home."
"Yeah, he says stuff like that a lot, I've noticed," Ella pointed out, grinning, "If I had half the things he talks about, I'd probably be ruling the world or something."
Their soles began to clack against stone and they ascended a short set of stairs. The air became cooler and damper. The sounds of the forest were muted. Ella strode forward, feeling her way with the improvisational walking stick Jaden had made. "Alright, so what should I be looking for?"
Jaden/Lost Woods/Day 6
"You'll have to forgive my companions for not introducing themselves. Ella here has quite the personality, and my other friend, Lord Tuffington, happens to be dragging behind a bit. He'll catch up. Just needs to shed a few pounds. By the way, I'm Jaden Bryseis."
Adventuring with two women who were easy on the eyes? Now that was a good way to start the day. Taking another swig from his bottle as the group ventured in, he could hear Tuffy's paws pattering along as he caught up.
"Master Bryseis, there is indeed more to this place than surface value. Dear Ella, stay close to him. Keep your ears honed for any sudden noise."
Jaden looked around at the patterns and things made sense, even without the Eye. These were all different variations of a design that was inked into his arm with starmetal pigments nearly twenty years ago. One of four, in fact...
"Tuffy, tell me I'm not seeing things."
Pulling up his left sleeve and picking up his large feline companion, he walked closer to the wall's carvings. One symbol in particular was illuminated, pulsing with his heartbeat as the ink glistened on his upper arm. This pulsing also matched his deep violet pupil-lacking gaze.
"Annie, it'd be a pleasure to view your symbols. We may be on to something."
Legends of the Hidden Temple
Annie- Temple in the Lost Woods- Mid-Morning Day 6 "Master Bryseis, there is indeed more to this place than surface value. Dear Ella, stay close to him. Keep your ears honed for any sudden noise." Annie jumped at the new voice, quickly turning and looking for the source of it. She was shocked to see it was in fact the cat, Lord Tuffington. This was the first time she had heard him speak; talking cats were not something she was used to. However, her companions didn’t seem the least bit phased, so she tried to brush off her scare and act a though it hadn’t happened. She hoped the Jaden and Ella hadn’t noticed.
As she followed along behind them, Annie wondered to herself about her companions. Who were they exactly? All she knew was their names. Why did they want to explore this temple? Jaden in particular was surrounded by an air of mystery. It seemed as though he was on some sort of mission; like he had an agenda, but she had no clue what it was, or what it had to do with this temple. It made her a little uneasy, but she took comfort in the fact that he seemed friendly enough, if maybe a little unstable, but Ella seemed to balance him out. Besides, if he managed to get a cat to follow him, he couldn’t be too bad.
Annie gazed around the room where she had found the sword. The symbols on the walls made just as little sense now as they had earlier that morning, and she found it difficult to focus on them. Instead, she focused on her companions, watching Ella as she listened intently, and then observing Jaden as he looked around at the symbols. She could see right away, that he knew something, from the way he was reacting. He was staring intently at one of the symbols in particular, and she realized that one of the symbols tattooed on Jaden’s arm was glowing, as well as his eyes.
"Annie, it'd be a pleasure to view your symbols. We may be on to something."
Annie pulled out her map. The back of the map was covered in crude scribbles of several of the more prominent symbols, including the one that was glowing on his arm. She passed it to Jaden for him to examine.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a glow coming from behind her and realized that the symbol on her sword had begun to glow as well. She pulled it out and stared at it. “Hey, check this out! What does it mean, and what do you make of all this?” It seemed as though the symbol on her sword, his arm, and the wall all matched, and all three were glowing with a mysterious light. Everyone in the room turned to Jaden, hoping for an explanation as he studied the scribbles on Annie’s map and the symbol glowing on her sword.
Jaden/Lost Woods Temple/Day 6 “Hey, check this out! What does it mean, and what do you make of all this?”
Coincidence for once was no longer such. For the first time in nearly five years, he was surprised. To see Annie's notes, the symbol on her mysterious blade, and his tattoo pattern of the Defiant all start to thrum in tone with one another, he was nearly brought to his knees. Mixed feelings entered his mind, and Tuffy knew what that meant. He climbed up Jaden's arms and rested himself across the back of his shoulders and neck; all twenty three pounds of fine feline.
After finishing what was left of the Captain Reynolds' Calatian Reserve, he let out an uncouth loud belch and found the corresponding symbol on the wall.
"Well, quite a bit actually. My people call this here symbol the Defiant. It's a constellation that only comes out in late winter, and it represents the primordial physical force within us all. You might know of it better as Quake. We all see it differently. Either way, this place was built by those devoted to mysticism steeped in potence. Din's Ditch only knows what's inside."
Whispering a chant in an indecipherable language to those around him, light violet energies began to coalesce in his palm before cascading up to his fingers. They danced around his hand a bit more before coming to a focused point.
Jaden then drew the Defiant's Sigil on the wall with pure Lunar energies, repeating his chant in the process. When the tracing was complete, stairs started to sink deeper and deeper into the ground in a circular manner around the pedestal where a sword used to be placed.
"Funny sense of humor the Three have...Farore, thank you for showing me something new today."
Motioning to Annie and calling softly to Ella, he began to descend the spiral stairs.
Annie-Lost Woods Temple-Day 6
Annie was filled with wonder and confusion at everything that had just transpired. It seemed her sword held some kind of lunar magic! Not only that, but it was a magic that Jaden seemed to have learned for himself. Could it mean that she could control it too, through her sword? Or even without it? She also wondered if there might be even more magic in the sword. After all, Jaden’s arm was covered in what she assumed to be symbols of lunar magic. Illumois only revealed this symbol after she had caused that earthquake. What if she had to use other means to find other powers? Her head was bursting with questions, and she couldn’t hold them in. Like a curious young child, she flooded him with question after question.
“Jaden, can you tell me more about this magic? I mean, how do you have it? Where did your people come across it and how did they learn it? And is there a way to control it? Or direct it? I mean, I’m sure you noticed the downed trees all around as we entered the temple; I didn’t exactly have any control over that. I just accidentally caused it and everything became chaos. And what other kinds of lunar magic are there? Do you think this sword might have more of the symbols on your arm? I mean, this one symbol only showed after I accidentally caused an earthquake with it. And how do you control using this stuff? I caused the earthquake by sticking the blade into the ground, but is that the only way it works? And if there are other abilities, do you know how I might unlock them?”
As Annie posed question after question, the group descended the stairs into the newly opened section of the temple. As they reached the bottom of the long set of stairs, they entered a huge circular room, and Annie became quiet as she entered. She gazed around, looking for nothing in particular but instead on her toes for any surprises. She heard a muffled metallic sound behind her and turned to see a great armored foe standing behind her, towering over her, his sword swinging straight for her neck. With no time to draw her sword, Annie simply ducked on reflex as the sword grazed the top of her head. She wasn’t entirely unscathed. Her ponytail had hung in the air as she ducked and it was cut clean off by the Darknut’s mighty swing. It fell to the floor beside her, but Annie hardly noticed. She jumped back before the darknut could attack again, whipped out Illumois, and got ready for a fight.
Ella Huntley/Day 6/Lost Woods Temple
"Darknut!" Jaden shouted from down the stairs. "Ella, stay up there!"
Ella clenched her teeth. "Goddesses damn that overprotective asshole," she snarled and drew her knives.
"I can take care of myself, you cocky cock!" she yelled, jumping from the stairs at the loud armored beast. She collided with its back and clung to the cold metal. "Blind or not, you are not my father! You do not have to keep babying me!"
To accent her shouts, she jammed her knives into the sides of the darknut's helmet. Metal rang against metal with the impacts, and the darknut growled in angry annoyance, thrashing about to attempt dislodge the young woman on its back. Ella growled back at the monster, stubbornly refusing to let go. Finally, the blades found her intended target and slide with force through the crease between the beast's pauldrons and its helmet. The darknut's growl gurgled into a wet wheeze as deep black blood spurted from beneath the thing's full plate. It stumbled back and fell, ramming Ella into the stone wall and pining her before sliding down to slump its dead weight against her.
Jaden/Lost Woods Temple/Day 6
Leading the way into the depths, Jaden had Annie following closely while Tuffy and Ella were in the rear. He had a feeling action was going to be coming. Overly quiet ambiences lended to extremely unwanted surprises. Armor clanking from an alcove behind the stairs was exactly the surprise he didn't need.
Xenoblade Chronicles - Time to Fight!
"Ella! Darknut! Stay up there!"
Drawing his zweihander just as Annie had nearly lost her head, Jaden saw his blind companion leap from the stairs and land seamlessly on the Darknut's back.
"I can take care of myself, you cocky cock! Blind or not, you are not my father! You do not have to keep babying me!"
A similar fiesty was given in the far future by one he loved most dearly. And her method of attack was extremely coincidental. As Jaden was about to bear down with his blade, Ella had performed a technique many Sheikah had a hard time mastering. The Arterial Aspiration Assault, or Triple-A. It was perfected by Jaden's wife and its execution was a true sign of expertise. Familiar trauma filled his mind for a good moment as he watched the Darknut crash to the floor. He had to push those feelings aside, because Ella's dismount was non-existent.
Re-mounting his zweihander, Jaden instructed Annie to stay alert while he hefted the now deceased Darknut off of Ella. She was covered in its blood, and he was smirking. Taking its one-handed blade and scabbard, he latched it onto his cloak and helped Ella up.
"Yes, Ella. Yes you can. You just got a field promotion from General Jackass. If something tries to kill you, you kill it right back. How are you feeling?"
Ella Huntley/Day 6/ Temple
Ella groaned with a rough cough when the weight was lifted off her and she could once again breath. "How do I feel? Winded. And sticky," she said as Jaden helped her to her feet. "Did that stupid thing bleed on me? Gross."
She tried to wipe away the ichor and succeeded only in smearing it over herself. "So... we're in a temple, right?"
Annie- Day 6- Lost Woods Temple Annie stood there in a shocked daze. Even if she hadn’t said anything, her attitude toward Ella had been similar to Jaden. She assumed she was mostly helpless and needed protection, and she had been quietly checking behind her frequently to make sure she was ok. To see Ella take down the same darknut that had moments before nearly killed her left her speechless. Annie made a mental note not to underestimate any blind person ever again.
“Are you ok?” she asked as Jaden pulled the dead darknut off of Ella. She glanced around the room, checking for any more surprises, per Jaden’s instructions. There were no more apparent threats; the room was empty. She turned back to her companions, and saw how much blood Ella was covered in.
“Well, always good for a battle to be a bloodbath, right? Long as it isn’t any of ours!” She cracked a goofy grin at her terrible joke. “Anyway, it seems we’ve hit another dead end. I don’t see anywhere else to go in this room, but I’m sure you can find some hidden passage, Jaden? And I don’t suppose you could answer some of my questions while you’re at it.” She began examining the walls looking for more clues to the path ahead.
“And I'm bringing up pressing questions…. Jaden, what exactly are we here for, anyway?”
Jaden/Lost Woods Temple/Day 6
"It's not always that easy, Annie. But while I'm looking, I can give you some answers. For one, Ella and I are on the trail of none other than Black Betty herself. We're trying to locate her Crimson Sanctuary. However, This isn't looking like it. For one, she'd have taken that sword the moment she found it."
Annie was quite the inquisitive one. But she had a lot of firsts happen to her recently. He was just as prying when he discovered his first magical gifts. As he and Tuffy were examining the room, he lit a few torches to make it easier for Annie to see. But as he was lighting the last one, they started to go out.
"I possess my arcane gifts because of two things. For one, I was born on the night of a lunar eclipse and leap year. This unusual astrological arrangement lent both myself as well as my younger sister birthed six years later a place in anomalous fate. It also meant our aptitude for lunar artes was much higher than normal. Oh, that's how this one works...torches...I'll get back to how you and the arcane pair up in a moment..."
After tracing a pattern in the air with his fingers, he drew his zweihander and decided to get resourceful with reach. Deep violet energy traveled to the tip of his blade and began to simulate flame. Instead of running around like crazy, he proceeded to quickly pivot until they were all lit in rapid succession. At this point, the room illuminated in a violet-white incandescence, revealing three doors. One to their right and one in front was open, but the one to the left was sealed with a portcullis and lock. There was also a weak-looking section of wall in the southwest corner that he thought could be blasted through.
Given the age of the place, he thought it best to leave that part of the wall alone for now.
"Well, we've got options. Straight ahead or to the right. Most likely something we do in one or both rooms will open what's on the left. I would pick that lock but the stones in front of that door look like pressure plates. And with all of the coffins around here, that's a bad idea."
Annie- Lost Woods Temple- Day 6
“Let’s go right,” Annie said, making up her mind quickly. “So, this Black Betty you’re talking about… you mean that crazy murderess? Is she still around? I thought someone would have killed that crazy bitch by now. I haven’t been around people much since last year, but I have heard a few things about her. Nothing recently, though, so I assumed she’d been caught or something. I guess not. I don’t know why you’re hunting her, but if you plan on taking her down I’ll gladly tag along. Honestly, what is she still doing around? I would have though someone like her would be deep in the castle dungeons by now.”
As the four entered, they heard a metallic scraping from both sides of the room. “Blade traps!” Annie yelled out. Ann and Jaden grabbed Ella and lunged forward, just barely dodging the deadly traps. Tuffy simply hopped forward, gracefully avoiding the blades. “Whoever built this place really didn’t want anybody getting in.” Annie said.
As she pulled herself and her friends off the floor, Annie saw a key in the near corner of the room, under a blade trap. “I think I found us the key to getting into that locked room. Literally.” She walked over to a large block in the room and pushed with all her might, but it wouldn’t budge. “Jaden, give me a hand! There’s a key under that blade trap and if we can block it off we can grab it.” Jaden and Annie heaved at the block, but it refused to move so much as an inch. Annie kicked the block in frustration.
“Well, so much for that plan. I guess we should just keep moving.” There was a door at the far end of the room, directly opposite the first door, and the group continued on through it. “So, Jaden, you were saying something about 'me and the arcane'?
Jaden/Lost Woods Temple/Day 6
To hear such things about his niece was becoming a lot less disturbing. She had blackened her name worse than charcoal on a new moon's midnight. And he was probably the only non-cultist who didn't want her dead. Still, he let it roll off her back. If Annie had said something ill of his wife, well, that would have ended poorly.
"You'd be surprised how I feel about Black Betty. Ella wants her head on a pike. I need to bring her to my client alive, and I have one question for her. She's worth more alive anyway. So if we do find her, please don't kill her. I need my lifetime supply of alcohol."
He let Annie proceed forward with Tuffy, but as soon as he heard foot hit pressure plate, Jaden listened closely. Standard grade blade traps. Grabbing Ella and lunging forward, he positioned his back against the stone floor to soften the landing for her. Tuffy ran over to Jaden and meowed with a gritty tomcat accent.
Jaden chuckled a bit, but he did at least want to make sure Ella was aware of where everyone was as he helped her up.
"I guess I should be thankful. Where the hell are we now?"
"Went right, Annie triggered a trap, but we're ok now."
He helped Annie move the block with little effort. Even though it was daytime, his lunar potence flowed strong as he watched her take the key to the next room.
Describing the next room, Jaden commented on a few things.
"Little lady, this room is wide with coffins along the wall. There are Keese on the ceiling as well. It's dim in here, and there may be more pressure plates. Annie, tread lightly. I'll get to you and the arcane in a sweet moment. But I will tell you this. That sword wouldn't be as stable if you didn't have some innate potential with magic. Spend more time with this old man and he'll tutor you."
Annie/Lost Woods Temple/ Day 6
Annie was thrilled at what Jaden had said. Innate magical potential? She had never even considered it, and the idea excited her. She wondered if fate had somehow brought her to find this sword and meet Jaden. Normally she wasn’t one to keep company, but she actually found herself enjoying being around Jaden, Ella and Tuffy. She thought to herself that she hoped that she could stay around for more than just learning magic.
“Too bad I don’t have my bow. Could take down those keese no problem.” Annie didn’t like having them up there, ready to descend and attack when they were preoccupied. The coffins didn’t bode well either. “Something about this room is making me very uneasy….” She began to walk towards the coffins, when suddenly an unearthly scream froze each of them in their tracks.
From each of the coffins along the wall, redeads rose, their heads turning slowly, creepy, glaring eyes training on the three adventurers. And then, from above, descending upon them, a dozen keese, screeching, flapping around them. And before they could respond to the redeads and the keese, an armored stalfos appeared behind them, wielding a familiar sword.
Annie turned to face it, and cursed under her breath when she saw that it carried her former sword. “Goddesses damn these stupid cursed woods! When I ran that theif through I was hoping he would stay down! I guess I’ll have to finish the job now.”
She yelled out to Jaden, “Can you handle yourselves with the redeads and the keese for a bit? I have some unfinished business to take care of.” She didn’t wait for them to respond; she knew Jaden could take care of himself, and she dared not underestimate Ella. She ran straight for the former hylian thief, Illumois drawn, and her newly found blade clashed with her old one. She could hear the stalfos bones creak as he drew back to try to strike her, but she nimbly dodged to the side and swung for his neck, hoping to end this fight quickly
The stalfos dodged her blow, ducking and then stabbing at her, but Annie deflected it to the side and kicked him back against the wall. He stumbled, and before he could recover Annie had brought the great blade down on his head, leaving cracks in the skull. She swung again, even harder and the skull cracked even more. She hoped she could end it if she destroyed the skull; as she went to smash it open with a final powerful blow, she heard a blood-curdling scream from behind her as cold, clammy, wrinkly redead arms wrapped around her, immobilizing her as the stalfos rose back on its feet. Annie knew now she was in serious trouble.
Ella Huntley/Day 6/Lost Woods Temple
The scream of a ReDead was indeed horrifying, but Ella couldn't decide if it was worse to know what they looked like or hear the noise without seeing them. After standing frozen in terrified paralysis for a few seconds, she decided it was worse to not see but rather imagine what kind of horror had sprung on them in this temple's depths. But that wasn't going to stop her.
She heard the dry clammy smack of mummified flesh hitting stone as the ReDeads shambled their way closer to her. To her right, Jaden's armor made its characteristic shuff-clank as he grunted in exertion, swinging his sword into something that gave way with a wet squelch. The light sound of Annie's movement was to the left and behind her, contesting with something that snapped like bone as she hit it. Ella readied her ichor-stained knives, anticipating something coming near enough for her to pinpoint and strike.
Another squeal of ReDead hunger pierced the room. Annie's scuffle silenced, and her breathing came in short, laborious, fearful gasps. A low moan nearly drowned out her struggle for air, and Ella knew what must be happening.
"Oh no you don't. Not my new friend."
She charged toward the struggle, cocking her shoulder ready for a tackle, and rammed her full weight into the pair. She had no idea if she'd just shoulder checked the monstrosity or the woman, but the three of them all collapsed in a frenzied pile of flailing limbs and gnashing teeth. Annie cried out, either in rage or pain, and there was a sound of tearing flesh repeated fourfold. Ella tightened her fingers around her knives, angry justice welling tears in her eyes, ready to avenge her fallen comrade. But Annie's panting continued, while the ReDeads unsettling moans had ceased.
"Thanks." Annie said curtly. "Now, to finish what I started."
She found her feet, and squared off once more with the bone-thing. Ella found her feet, as well, in time to feel the clammy grip of death come on her from behind.
"You've got to be kidding me!"
She jammed her knives back over her shoulders and felt slight resistance as they sunk into something soft. The ReDead's grip loosening and something slumped against her back.
"How many of these things are there?!"
Annie/ Lost Woods Temple/ Day 7
Annie thought she was a gonner. Even if she could escape the redead, she would be unable to stop the stalfos who was currently recomposing himself from a few hard hits to his skull. She struggled, panicked and frightened, hoping to somehow escape in time to stop the stalfos from cleaving her own skull.
“Oh no you don’t. Not my new friend.” A few moments later, she felt Ella collide with the redead behind her, and the whole group fell to the floor. Freed from the redead, Annie grabbed its arm with one hand and brought it down over her sword, slicing it clean off. She hucked it at the stalfos, hitting him in the face and catching him off-guard. It bought her a few precious moments, just enough time to thrust her sword into the redead and then, in a fit of rage, she reached inside and ripped out some of his guts and hucked those at the stalfos too.
Annie turned to Ella as she got up and saw her tears. “Thanks, friend. Now to finish what I started.” She held up her sword just in time to block the stalfos, who had finally managed to make his way over to the Annie again. He still had some guts hanging out of his eye sockets. Annie, now irritated, parried several of the stalfos’ blows and then with one swift thrust she stuck her sword into his eye socket, smashing through the back of the skull, and the whole body collapsed in a heap as she pulled the skull clean off. She pulled the skull off her sword and threw it against the wall.
Turning to her friends, she saw a horrifying sight. The group was vastly outnumbered. Tuffy clung to Jaden’s shoulder as he cleaved through redeads with his mighty zweihander, and Ella killed them as they came, stabbing them behind her. She couldn’t see that she was surrounded, about to be grabbed by several at once. Annie ran for her and sliced off the head of the redead behind her before it could latch on, just as she stabbed the one in front of her. “Two on your left!” she called out, trying to help direct Ella. Annie sliced and stabbed, gutting redeads as fast as she could, and calling out directions for Ella, but there seemed to be no end to the ugly monsters. Looking over at Jaden, even he seemed to be getting overwhelmed by the seemingly endless redeads still climbing out of the coffins.
Annie called out to her friends. “If either of you have any bright ideas, right now would be a good time to share them. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel like going down to these dead piles of shit.” In the back of her head, she considered her earlier incident with her sword. She could try to exterminate the whole lot in one go like that, but she was worried it might harm her friends, or worse yet, bring down the whole temple. She decided to hold on to it as a last resort and continued to desperately fight through the redeads as their horrifying screams echoed through the room.
And then she saw Jaden get grabbed. Two of them had latched on behind him and more were coming, and neither Ella nor Annie were close enough to intervene in time. He yelled out to them for help. Annie didn’t care anymore about the temple collapsing, and all of them would die if Jaden went down anyway. She had to try to save him.
“Everybody brace yourselves!” She lifted the sword up and drove the point down into the floor of the temple.
Jaden/Lost Woods Temple/Day 6
To be shocked at Annie waking the dead was a huge understatement. These had to be necromantic servants. And with death energies so strong in the lost woods, these minions would prove harder to stop.
Even with things unfolding quickly, Jaden did his best to bark orders. But his group was not set up for that kind of style yet.
Annie handled her Stalfos foe with great skill. He watched as he was cleaving multiple foes with his zweihander. Keese and Redead could not withstand the force of his blade. Tuffy spotted for his blind side, calling out locations from his shoulder.
Ella and her initiative saved the day again. But somehow the redead horde knew Jaden was the biggest threat and swarmed him before Tuffy or he could react. He was downed and choked violently...
But when he saw Annie activate an enchantment on her sword, he tapped into his Lunar Aspect of the Mesmer and unleashed a magenta shaded aura around him. It made their weapons glow bright, and he used its power to amplify the damage from her Quake. It knocked the redeads free from him, and he let out a rising slash, killing the three that tried to devour him.
Rushing to his allies, Jaden changed the color of his aura to a deep blue instead.
"Thank you for saving me. We need to take them all out to proceed! Stay close."
Ella Huntley/Day 6/Lost Woods Temple
“Everybody brace yourselves!” shouted Annie.
"For wha-Aaah!" Ella's responding question melted into a simple yell as the world began to shake and rumble around here. The Temple was collapsing around them, and they were going to be crushed anyway; not under the tide of undead but under a rain of stone. But the shaking became less violent, almost focused. Then, it stopped altogether.
"Thank you for saving me." Jaden said from close-by. "We need to take them all out to proceed! Stay close."
Ella sighed. "Really, as I asked before: How many of these things are there? Take them all out?"
"'Fraid so, little lady. You ready?"
Ella shrugged. "Sure. Why not." She flipped one of her knives into a reverse grip. "Just point me in the right direction."
Jaden snickered. "Start swinging any which way ain't toward me or Annie and you're sure to hit something." "Great. So I guess that answers my question..."
Annie- Lost Woods Temple- Day 6
Annie was pleasantly surprised that the quake hadn’t buried them all. Instead, it had taken out a bunch of the redeads, rescued Jaden with his own help, and even block off some of the coffins with rubble from the quake. It also seemed as though the redeads were no longer coming infinitely.
“Hey Jaden, I could use a lesson right about now. Do you think there’s something else I can do with this sword? It feels as though… somehow…. there’s a lot more to it than that quake-lunar-stuff. I feel like there’s something else it can do. But I don’t know how.”
Jaden turned to her and nodded, and then activated some sort of magic that she didn’t know. “Concentrate on the sword; do you feel that magical energy in it? Does it somehow feel hot? If you can feel that, focus in on it,” he told her as he cleaved redeads with his mighty sword. “Try to focus that energy into the blade, and then swing it forward. I’m using something that should hopefully help you get this.” Annie did as he said, trying to focus energy into the sword, and when she swung it forward at a redead, it burst into flames. “Now try to push that energy out when you do that again!” Jaden told her. This time, when she swung, the flames shot out, engulfing several of the grotesque figures. “Good! I’ll let you play with that a bit and figure things out.”
Annie could feel an immense power surging through her and the sword as she launched flames around. At first, it was simply straight beams of fire, but soon she began to be able to control the fire, curving it and spreading it and even making it burst. She began to make balls of fire and send them off, bending them around and making them explode inside redead heads. Soon she was shooting fire and explosions around the room, sending redeads flying into each other until they were all ablaze, and even holding a string fire to her sword and swinging it around like a firey whip. “This is INCREDIBLE!” she yelled. Jaden called out to her. “Now, swing it in a circle and try to focus on all the redeads in front of you when you swing!”
Annie did as Jaden said again. Her sword spun around her and then cleaved the air in front, and a spectacular light consumed the room as fire and explosions rocked it. “Holy shit!” Annie cried out as the entire room was consumed in fire. Annie screamed and her eyes glowed white, as did the sword’s blade, as everything disappeared in the sea of fire in front of her. Somehow Jaden, Ella and herself were untouched, but when everything stopped, there was nothing left in the room but ashes where there used to be redeads, and two new symbols had appeared on her blade. “Jaden…. WHAT the FUCK did you… or I… or we…. What was THAT!?” She was half enthralled, half terrified, shaking, and she suddenly felt completely drained and fell to her knees. “Did you do that? Or did I? Or was it just this sword? I couldn’t have done that… I don’t have that kind of power…. What is this? I don’t know if I can handle this thing.” She crouched down on her hands and knees, exhausted, exhillerated and terrified.
Jaden/Lost Woods Temple/Day 6
His assessments were correct. At least about the power of the sword. He could feel it draining Annie's internal essences rapidly. But with his Mesmeric Aura enhancing not only her understanding but also the potency of her attacks. Illumos was capable of unleashing medallion-based charms, and Annie had stumbled upon a find. But the sword had chosen her. Jaden could use it, but it wouldn't do what it just did to those Redeads. Only the true heir to that blade would have that.
Ella was holding her own quite well. She could feel the paralytic gaze of the undead and stay out of its way. Using that feeling, she had become a living blender with her speed. Listening to Jaden and Annie converse, stray blades didn't find homes in her friends' bodies. Instead, they found Redead and Keese targets with decent precision.
He opened a window to true acknowledgement of that blade's mastery. She had just enough essence to stop the onslaught. And for someone who had never used magic before, she responded well to coaching as well as burning through her pool of celestial energy.
“Jaden…. WHAT the FUCK did you… or I… or we…. What was THAT!? Did you do that? Or did I? Or was it just this sword? I couldn’t have done that… I don’t have that kind of power…. What is this? I don’t know if I can handle this thing.”
Running over to Annie while ashes still floated freshly in the air, Jaden let out a loud laugh. It was encouraging, and not meant to poke fun at her.
"Teamwork. You fueled it, I gave you the understanding and magnified the power. So that's probably why you're off your feet. Sorry about that. Burning through your inner essence will do that. That blade chose you, Annie. It chose well."
Kneeling down, Jaden put his hand on her back and began to mutter in an unfamiliar tongue after encouraging her.
"I'll restore you."
A pale green aura enveloped Jaden as he continued his incantation. Essence was leaving him and siphoning into Annie. He shuddered violently before the prayer's conclusion.
"I gave you some of my inner force. Just in case you have to do that again."
Coughing violently, he rose to his feet and saw a treasure chest drop from the ceiling. Running over to it, he attempted to open it while motioning Annie to bring Ella over. A portcullis also raised rapidly as Jaden approached the chest.
Annie- Lost Woods Temple- Day 6
Annie rose to her feet, feeling suddenly filled with strength. Jaden had restored her completely, and she hadn’t felt this good in ages. Jaden’s words had helped; she felt truly good about her abilities. Maybe she really could do something more with herself than just wander around hyrule. She wondered if she could somehow train herself to do what she had just done; she wanted someday to be able to do that without breaking a sweat. Is magic like physical stamina- can you train for endurance? Annie had no clue but her ambitions rose as she considered the possibilities. What other secrets might this sword hold? Despite her confidence and good mood, she still held some reservations; she still did not know the origins of the blade. Despite the new flood of questions, and her boundless curiousity, she held back from asking anything. She was afraid she might drive her new friends nuts if she kept asking them so much, and besides, she figured she could find out plenty just by watching and paying attention.
As these thoughts rushed by, it almost seemed as though time had slowed down, and then, she realized, it had. In fact; it had almost stopped. Jaden was frozen knelt before the treasure chest, Ella in midstride towards him, and literally everything was silent. Annie found herself completely unable to move.
“Take…. Me….. Take me to… the spring…..” She heard an eerie whisper, echoing through the room, but there was no identifiable source. Annie was thoroughly creeped out, and tried to move; tried to find the source of the sound, but the whisper simply surrounded her, and she felt at the same time an unbearable heat and a bone-chilling freeze consume her. “Take me to the spring…. When the two lights meet….”
And then, everything returned to normal. Annie could suddenly move again, and, unprepared, she fell flat on her face. Scrambling up, she asked in a panic, “Did you guys hear that!?” Jaden and Ella turned to her with confused looks. “Did that stalfos hit you over the head or something?” Ella said to her.
Her confidence and ambition turned to fear and confusion. What on earth was that? Was she going crazy? She didn’t want to ask even more questions…. She didn’t want her friends to think her crazy, so she kept quiet. “Guess I was just hearing things,” she said with fake relief. “Nothing to worry about”. She headed over to Jaden cautiously, the eerie, sourceless whisper still echoing in her head.
Annie and Ella peered curiously into the chest as Jaden pried it open, revealing two golden bracelets at the bottom of the velvet cloth-padded chest. “I bet those’ll fetch a lot of money in castle town!” Annie exclaimed. “What are you gonna do with them?”
Jaden laughed at Annie’s naivity. “For someone who’s travelled around a bit, you sure don’t know much. These are more than just golden bracelets. They appear to be enchanted. Have you ever heard of a power bracelet?” Annie shook her head. “They’re enchanted bracelets that grant their wearer enormous strength. Observe!” Jaden slipped on the braclets and, with just one hand, drew his massive zweihander, swinging it around with more ease than he had before with two.” Annie had just one question. “Is there anything in this temple that ISN’T enchanted?”
Ella Huntely/Day 6/Lost Woods Temple
Ella snorted at the sound of metal whistling through the air. "Hey, Swords-for-Brains. If you're done showing off, we still have some temple left to explore here." She began to head back to the staircase which had brought them to this accursed room. "Although I'm not sure why... I'd say it's pretty obvious Bryce isn't here."
Jaden's heavy footfalls came behind her. "That's starting to seem pretty clear, yes, but that doesn't mean this place doesn't hold any use for us, little lady. You'd be surprised what treasures these old ruins might hold. Got us these power bracelets, didn't it?"
Ella pursed her lips to the side. "Well... I suppose you've got me there."
Jaden voice came slightly echoed; his next words were directed backward. "And to answer your question, Annie: You'd be as equally surprised how often those hidden treasures are magic in nature. Or wouldn't be, if you're the type to be hunting down treasures in an old temple."
The trio returned to the main hall of the temple, and Ella held up a hand to the others. "Wait. Shh! Give me a moment, I want to check something."
"Shh!" Ella repeated in frustration. The room fell to silence, aside the occasional drip of moisture from the ceiling. But to Ella's hearing, there was a sound below even that. "Yeah, I thought I noticed something last time we came through here. Chanting. From this way."
She pointed to the source of the noise. Annie gave voice to what Ella should be seeing. "That's the barred-off door. You really hear chanting back there? What are they saying?"
Ella shrugged. "I don't know. It's too faint to make out words, but it doesn't sound like Hylian."
Jaden strode toward the door, his knuckles popped. "Well, let's see what these beauties can do to this iron gate, then. If it's chanting, maybe we did find something connected to Elizabeth."
Jaden grunted in exertion, and the squeal of bending metal creaked through the room until it ended in a sharp crack as the gate gave way.
Jaden/Lost Woods Temple/Day 6
The excitement of finding a treasure he'd always dreamed of did fill him a bit too much. Showing off the kind of power that he'd have to strain himself for normally had its own pleasure. But to have an item that would do it for him and preserve his inner essence was priceless. Not to mention what would happen if he had to combine the two for a feat of strength or his signature Unbalancing Strike. It had the power to move before; now it would probably shatter with the force of an explosion.
Ella's admonition snapped Jaden out of playing with his new-found toys. He was beginning to like the band of adventurers that had found him. They reminded him of aspects of himself that he'd lost long ago. With Annie, he had his curiosity of the arcane and all its wonder. With Ella, he had an inner flame unlike any he'd seen since his niece. Tuffy, of course, was his eyes and ears when he was too drunk to care.
When a streak of being jaded beyond belief hit him in the future, he turned to his cat for help.
Listening to Ella's advice again, Jaden saw a chance to really break down the door. Gripping the portcullis with all he had, he grunted and growled as stone and metal began to give way. Chanting began to slow and footsteps were filing toward the opening he was about to create. Who was he kidding? This group was not subtle. He could not approach it strategically. Getting the drop was not an option. Instead, he turned to the idea of a lightning-fast strike. Even if he didn't know what was back there, if it was hit hard and fast enough, it wouldn't have a chance.
Xenoblade Chronicles - You Will Know Our Names
Coming unhinged with authority, Jaden threw the portcullis into the room. He heard cursing and rage as it hit something. When the dust settled from the initial assault, Jaden barked orders and filed into the room with Tuffy draped across his left shoulder.
"Ladies, cover me. Surprise, motherfuckers!"
A nearly eight foot tall wizzrobe was standing in the room's center, surrounded by Gibdos and armorless Darknuts. Some of these were taken out and lying dismembered under the bent metal gate.
"Fools! You will join us for eternity among the dead. Such fine materials. Can't wait to make you minions."
Jaden charged head on at the main assailant while giving orders for Ella and Annie to take out the trash. Tuffy jumped off of Jaden's back and warned of Keese and Gels coming in. He took a spot behind the women, calling out dangers that attempted to flank them.
Ella was clutch in her sensory precision. Using the strategy recommended prior, she stabbed and slashed at anything that was smelly or slow moving. She didn't miss a thing. Annie used her agility to weave and counter as much as possible. Even Tuffy was getting in on the action. A Keese dove at him, but he used his size to pounce on it. Catching its neck between his front paws, he sunk his teeth in and shook his head violently to break its neck.
This was exactly what Jaden needed. But he did not anticipate that the Wizzrobe would do his best to stay out of melee range. When he closed the gap, his opponent blinked to the other side of the room.
"What's wrong? Hold still. I want to show you the finish on my blade."
Dodging the bolts of shadow magic, Jaden was starting to get frustrated. Tuffy called out to encourage him.
"Master Jaden, you have killed his kind before. Anticipate!"
Ella was splitting off from Annie quite considerably. It was another gauntlet of undead; the Wizzrobe's strength was his numbers. Illumois was drawing plenty of attention in its own right. But Annie was feeling the anger rise, and she unleashed another flaming spin attack to neutralize nearly a dozen Gibdos. Ella pulled both her knives out of a Darknut's neck as Tuffy grabbed onto a Gel and kicked it with his back feet until it exploded. Free of her gauntlet, Ella began to pare down her enemies. Tuffy was acting as her eyes while Annie ran over to assist Jaden and corral the floating wizard.
Jaden took many shadow bolts to the chest, flaunting his resistance to evil magicks. He heckled him arrogantly.
"What's your name, coward? You will know ours before long!"
"Vykos Osteon. I shall enjoy embalming you, impatient alcoholic."
Jaden's mace and war axe began to glow a bright green as he spread his Subversion Aura to his allies. Any magical attacks against them would be dampened at this point. He gave the order for Annie to keep flanking. Once Ella had finally dealt with her last Gibdo, Tuffy was yelled at for being annoying and she charged toward the sound of Jaden and Annie's work. The two ladies were dodging shadow bolts with good fortune and tenacity. While they kept Vykos busy, Jaden was able to sneak behind him and wrestle him into a tight body lock. The Wizzrobe's frame shared in the same bright green as he began to curse. Jaden closed his eyes and began to whisper in an ancient tongue.
Ella almost tripped when she began to see outlines in her vision. Annie was right next to her, but she couldn't see anyone else. She could hear Tuffy behind her as her vision began to clarify. She could see again, albeit drunkenly! Jaden must have done something with his crazy moon magic. And he didn't look anything like she pictured him. He was supposed to look a lot more haggard. Instead, he had glowing violet pupils, a well-trimmed beard, and white hair. And he was holding the Wizzrobe in place, seething in a rage.
"Enjoy it while you can, little lady. You and Annie there want to be big damn heroes? Go for the heart!"
Ella and Annie nodded at each other and rushed at Vykos. Illumois and two precisely-sharpened long knives found their resting place in the center of an undead monstrosity's heart. Pale green light erupted from the chest cavity as he crumbled to dust. Jaden took his sight back from Ella shortly after the battle, and especially before she turned around. No point in revealing Tuffy's identity to her before she was ready. This was enough of a taste for now...
The Wizzrobe formerly known as Vykos did drop a staff and a robe. Tuffy pointed out the magical properties of the staff, and its former owners initials were carved into the lower shaft. Jaden picked up the robe and stashed it in his things. He then handed the staff to Ella, who was still in shock that Jaden had the ability to confer those kinds of things.
The four scoured the room from top to bottom to see what else was available to take with them. Jaden found a journal belonging to the original stonemasons who had built this temple. It was a prison for a rogue necromancer, and when it was time for him to be sent back to the underworld, a hero would draw Illumois. But finding a way in would be its own challenge, requiring one who could bend the very fabrics of reality. And the true discoverer of secrets would be one who would be underestimated. Of course, rupees were in decent supply, as well as three glass bottles which were divided up. Ella kept asking Jaden how he did what he did. And Jaden kept telling her it was a prayer to Farore.
After taking all they could carry, Tuffy was amused. Why would ancient monks and stonemasons imprison a necromancer for centuries if they had the power to destroy him outright?
Making their way out of the temple, Jaden could feel the cool afternoon breeze and its comfort. They were all successful, and had loot to show for it. He even slipped the Darknut sword over Ella's back, just in case she needed something that hit harder than the knives she normally used.
Tuffy then asked a very important question.
"So, what do we do now?"
~Lost Woods, Afternoon of the Sixth~
Being holed up in the Crimson Sanctuary wasn’t an unpleasant experience, given her reasons for being there, but she had not glimpsed Beth for several days now. Despite having been directly told by her friend not to pursue until the time was right, she felt that the recent events of the battle of disharmony may have seen Beth endure some hardships. She had no proof, no word of injury, but the feeling was there nonetheless. Her horse Ravi trotted through the dense forests of the Lost Woods slowly, as Severa scanned for possible signs of Beth. Sites of murder were her first glimpse, Beth hadn’t become renowned by being a master of murderous sleuth, she was somewhat more heavy handed. Severa liked to take a more dextrous approach, not necessarily scrubbing her sites clean, but certainly covering her tracks to a reasonable degree. After all, the last thing she wanted was to compete with her idol for the title of Bloody.
“Whoa, hold on.” She stopped Ravi, and dismounted. Something was wrong, the sun had gotten brighter, and it wasn’t just a trick of the trees filtering the light. She turned to look behind her, but wasn’t fast enough, feeling a solid object collide hard with the back of her head.
“I knew I’d find you eventually.” The voice was cold, familiar, and above all else, spiteful.
“Mother.” Severa said, wiping blood from her mouth as she stood up to face her assailant. “You say that like I was hiding from you. I’ve never hidden anything from you, mommy dear.” Severa’s smile was deliciously subversive. Taunting her mother was a game, a game she rarely lost, and almost always seemed to end with her mother in a fury of some kind. Today was no different.
“So just pretending you died in Snowpeak, that wasn’t hiding?” Vera stepped forward, but her daughter raised up her sword, a large and imposing Flammenschwert. Normally a two handed blade, her gauntlets, emblazoned with the sun and the moon, allowed her to wield it one handedly, in either hand.
“I won’t hesitate to cut you down right here.” Severa warned.
“You would murder your own mother?” Vera’s voice quivered slightly. The question was foolish, she knew the answer, they both did.
“What mother?” Severa lunged forward, her left hand swinging the sword down, while her right released a flash of solar energy. It had no meaningful impact on Vera, a solar mage herself, but the combined actions forced her to hesitate. She moved the wrong direction, and the sword managed to slice off a sliver of skin from her arm. Vera screamed in pain and stared into her daughter’s eyes, the agony only fueling Severa further. She threw her mother to the ground, and placed the tip of her sword against Vera’s left eye.
“Severa, please...” Vera whimpered. The blade pushed in against the skin on the outer edge of the eye, drawing just a little blood. She didn’t stop. Vera screamed as the blade wedged itself in, and in less than a second, the eye was gone. She was in shock. Severa had really done it.
“You live today.” Severa sheathed her sword, and lifted her mother up with her left hand. Her right hand was aflame with sunlight, quickly cauterizing the wound and stopping the flow of blood. She placed the removed eye into her pocket and spit onto her mother’s face. “Go back to father, and tell him what happened here. If I see you again, I’ll take your whole head.”
~Lost Woods, Afternoon of the Sixth~
The encounter with her mother had been a surprise, and as brief as she could ever have hoped. She thumbed the eyeball in her pocket, pulling out and staring deeply into it. The solar rune carving had worked. Vera did not know it, but her daughter had inscribed a rune of solar sight onto her mother, allowing her to see through her mother’s remaining eye during the hours of the day.
“Let’s see what you see.” She saw a the tiny image of her mother’s field of vision, as the startled woman stumbled through the forest. It was unclear if she knew where she was going, though Severa surmised that Vera had at least managed to aim herself northward. “Hm.” She pocketed the eye and let out a shriek, before slamming her hands over her mouth.
“It’s okay, I know you had to do it.” The words sent a screaming shiver down her spine. The voice was one she hadn’t heard in some time, not since before joining the cult.
“This is a trick, my father did this didn’t he!” Severa called to the voice, though she didn’t know where to aim her shouting. No answer, the formless presence was already gone. The damage was done, she was already lost into her own memories.
~Six Months Earlier, Tavern in Calatia~
“Come on Eli.” Severa dragged her friend Elijah, who had been thrilled to spend the past few weeks cavorting around the countryside with Severa, but was less thrilled when she had begun to take him to seedier and seedier locales. She turned back and frowned at him, but maintained the rare warmth that only he and few others had ever seen.
“Severa, I really don’t think this is the right place for us...” He was younger than her by two years, but seemed even more innocent than that. He was the first person Severa had met upon arriving in this land, and she had taken a liking to him rather quickly. Whether it was his naivete, or the fact that he never once asked her why she was traveling alone, he seemed to hit all the right notes.
“Don’t be such a downer!” She dragged him into the tavern, and immediately spied her prize, a nondescript doorway in the back. “Right there!” She whispered into his ear. Elijah didn’t dare protest at this point, not with others around that might hear. Severa knew that about him, and delighted in exploiting it.
~Lost Woods, Afternoon of the Sixth Day~
Though for a moment she felt like shedding tears, the memories thankfully subsided before drawing her in too deeply. She checked her surroundings, took a deep breath, and marched onward. She was determined to find Beth, and no amount of troubled reminiscing could slow her down.
~Lost Woods, Night of the Sixth~
Severa marched through the forest, blade in hand, eyes keen for a sight of any that might give the sword a taste of death. And in-between the glances of desired murder, she sought the image of her idol, her leader, her model of how to live and how to die, Elizabeth Bryce.
Elizabeth had been there when her journey down the path of the crimson began, back before either of them ever felt the call of the cult. Goron City, where as a minstrel Beth had guided Severa, bringing her to the inevitable conclusion.
It had to all be left behind.
“Severa...” She heard her name whispered on the forest breeze, and swiveled on her feet. Nothing. No one. But the voice was unmistakable. It was Eli. Was he a ghost, a memory? It made no difference, her trip into the thoughts of her own past was already started.
~Secret Tavern in Calatia, Six Months Prior to RP~
“Why? why?!” Elijah screamed, holding his hands to his face. Severa crouched over him. After hanging around in the tavern for several hours, they had gained entrance to its backroom, gained entrance to the club that no one had talked to them about, no one had informed them of.
Severa had gone there on a hunch, a hope that it was the correct place. And she had been right. Blood dripped from her gauntlets, and on the floor the smashed remains of Elijah’s eyes. It was all a blur. It seemed like they had just been laughing and exploring together only moments before.
Nothing made sense, but everything made sense. What had compelled her to do this? It was a stupid question that she knew the answer to, asking just made the truth more painful and more difficult to swallow.
Elijah’s screaming had dulled to a moan as Severa kept her left gauntlet on his shoulder, steadily feeding energy into him to dull the pain. It was a large dose, a magical infusion of lunar magic, enough to keep him disoriented, unable to fully process what was happening to him. He had been blinded by Severa, his eyes ripped out, crushed.
“...It’s you.” Severa looked up from Elijah, her eyes stopping at the sight of Elizabeth, standing mere feet from here. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I have shown my strength, I have shown what I can do.” She gestured to Elijah. “He suffers so that I may rise up for both of us. He cannot rise up with me, so I have given him this gracious sacrifice to that his life may be spared.
“Ahhh!” Elijah stood up and raced out of the room, Severa made no motion to show it, but she was in total shock. Her healing wasn’t working correctly to subdue him. None made any attempts to stop him, whether out of pity or disinterest she couldn’t tell. Either way, she did not feel immediately compelled to follow. For the briefest of moments she wondered how he had even managed to leave without sight, but it seemed an unimportant detail.
She kept her attention on Beth.
“Have you any words for me, have I shown my value to the order?” She asked, lowering herself to one knee. “If the answer is anything but yes, I shall fall upon my sword now, for no other outcome could warrant life after what I have done here today.”
~Several Hours Later~
Beth’s answer had left Severa satisfied. For now, she had been instructed to take care of the Eli problem. He needed to be inducted into the cult. Despite Severa’s claims that Eli could not join, any who willing walked into a cult meeting, displayed their intent to join.
“Eli.” Severa called. She had followed the trail of blood out of the tavern, around the corner. She made it barely twenty paces before seeing his body upon the ground. “Eli...” She heard snickering in the corner.
“Didn’t even have nothing valuable.” There were two figures, the first one’s voice was gruff and snide. “But he kept whining, asking for help.”
“He’s just like that other brat the other day, calling for his daddy. Must have been a full grown man begging like a fool, pathetic.”
Severa felt total calm, total serenity. Eli was dead, murdered for no reason. Her action, the pain she gave to him was so that she could elevate herself to a cause greater than either of them. This act, this act was pointless, a robbery, ending in death because of ignorance and greed.
“Who the hell are you? Some fool dressed up for the local parades?” The two men rose up from the corner and walked towards Severa. She didn’t feel they deserved a response in words. Her sword was drawn and the first man was beheaded in a moment. The second man hollered in shock, and went to draw his blade, but it was too late, another swipe of her sword and Severa dislodged his hands from his arms.
“Wha....what have you done?!” He screamed. Severa reached out with her solar gauntlet, and gripped his tongue, yanking as hard as she could. It dislodged with a spray of blood, and his screams became gurgled and unintelligible. Before he could make a motion for surrender, she cut off his head, and turned on her heels, to find herself face to face with Beth again.
“My lady Beth, the one who arrived with me has been murdered, as have his assailants. I give myself to you and your order, for now and always.”
~Lost Woods, Night of the Sixth~
“I would have brought you aside me, to taste the blood of the world, as it bleeds from every dying man and woman around us.” Severa removed her lunar gauntlet and cut her palm ever so gently, squeezing three drops of blood onto the ground. She closed her eyes, chanted quietly and unintelligibly, and then gripped her exposed hand with her solar gauntlet, healing the wound.
“But instead, you tasted only your own blood.” She replaced the lunar gauntlet, and looked up to faces before her. Newcomers. She brushed her hair aside, clearly displaying the mark of the crimson eclipse upon her neck. It was always her first act upon encountering strangers, especially those that had the mark of battle ridden warriors. Three of them stood before her. Two women, and a man with a rather large cat. Something tugged at her mind, something familiar, but unplaceable.
“Identify yourselves.” Severa demanded, brandishing her weapon. “If you have any sense, you know who and what I represent. My day has been poor, and my mission drags on.” She smiled, a smile that was very much evocative of her father, Sirius. “You might say I’m in a bad mood.”
Ella Huntley/Day 6/Lost Woods
Ella smiled at Jaden as he helped her don a scabbard. "Here, little lady. In case those nice knives of yours end up being too small for something."
"Thanks, I guess."
Tuffy interrupted the tender moment with a blunt question. "So, what do we do now?"
Annie answered for herself first. "Well... if you all don't mind, I'd like to stick with you for a while and learn more magic."
Ella grinned at her. "That's a great idea! I'd hate to be stuck alone with this guy," she jerked her thumb at Jaden, "for too much."
The four of them laughed, and Jaden started to lead the group. "Well, we didn't find..." His words stopped, and Ella could sense tension coming from him and Annie. There was the scent of fresh blood in the forest. Not the stale rank of undeath that clung to them after their romp in the Temple. Someone else was here.
"Identify yourself." Metal softly sighed against leather; a sword was drawn. "If you have any sense, you know who and what I represent. My day has been poor, and my mission drags on. You might say I’m in a bad mood.”
Ella, not seeing the mark this woman had flashed at the others, stomped forward, her hand reaching over her shoulder to rest on the hilt of her new sword. "You're in a bad mood? Your day drags on? Listen, lady, I don't know who in the sacred realms you think you are, but we just fought our way through about a dozen dozen undead monsters and killed a damn necromancer. I'd say our day has been pretty shitty."
She took a moment to breath, and slightly relaxed her grip on her sword hilt. "So, the point is: If you're in such a bad mood, what makes you think picking a fight when you're outnumbered is a good idea?"
Finally, she relaxed enough to lower her arm from over her shoulder, abandoning the aggressive stance. Jaden, by then, had stepped up beside her, content for the moment to let Ella play ambassador. She could still feel tension coming from him. Something had set him on edge with this newcomer.
"Tell you what... why don't we start over? I'm Ella Huntley. The big oaf is Jaden Bryseis. Back there is Annie... uh... never did get her last name. And our final companion is... Tuffy. We're... uh... looking for-..."
Jaden shushed at her. "Hold up, little lady. Best not to go openly advertising that until we know who we're dealing with."
Annie-Evening 6- Lost Woods
As soon as Annie understood what the mysterious girl’s origin was, her hand whipped to her sword, ready to draw it out, and hopefully use it to separate the girl’s head from her neck. Annie had an opinion of cultists similar to her opinion of thugs and thieves. But as she drew and tried to lunge, everything froze again- her friends, the leaves on the trees, the mysterious stranger, grass blowing in the wind- everything stopped completely.
“What is this?” she yelled out, irritated at this second interruption.
The mysterious voice from before was back, but this time was it much clearer. “No need to be so hasty! Why so eager to start a fight?” It sounded like a boy, about Annie’s age, but there was no identifiable source.
“Show yourself! And how do you keep doing this!”
“Well, technically you can too, you know, but I won’t spoil that little secret. I’m having far too much fun watching you struggle along like this, no clue what you’re doing! Somebody doesn’t know anything about magic, does she? You should just be glad you met this Jaden guy.”
“You know, I’m growing weary of you very quickly. And what do you mean, I can too!?”
“Oh, you mean stopping time? It’s nothing really. Too simple to be worth teaching. I’m sure you can figure it out.”
“Who the hell are you!?”
“I’m your conscience!”
Annie whipped around, realizing she was no longer frozen while those around her were. “Show yourself!”
The mysterious voice laughed. “NOPE! But maybe soon. We’ll see about you finding that spring. Oh, and in case you’re a total moron, I was referring to twilight. Moonlight, sunlight? The two lights? Something tells me that would have been difficult for you.”
“Whoever you are, you’re an asshole” Annie muttered under her breath.
“Why thank you! Now listen. I’m going to help you. Try not getting into a fight and getting yourself killed. You’ve done enough fighting, give peace a chance!” The voice laughed heartily. “But really, try being a little more delicate. Who knows? Maybe this girl can help you find that spring!”
Annie was getting frustrated. “Look, can I just see who you are? I’m getting pissed, and this magical sword is itching to make small pieces out of you!”
“Hmm…. I guess that’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to contemplating suicide!”
“Look, I just want to know who you are.”
“My, aren’t you the stupid one? Look, just take my advice, avoid picking a fight, and maybe you’ll live long enough to have another delightful conversation with me!
“Yeah, I want that like I want a brain tumor.”
“Are you sure you haven’t already got one of those?”
“Just shut up!”
“I’m going to start things up again, and you try not to die, ok? Buh-bye now, sweetie!”
Everything became normal again, but it was as though nothing had even happened. Her sword wasn’t drawn and she was standing as she had been before. She pondered asking if anyone had heard what had just transpired, but she assumed that it was the same as before- they hadn’t even noticed a change. She made a mental note to ask Jaden about it later.
Annie held herself back from fighting, instead hiding her intense dislike behind a thin wall of tolerance, allowing Ella to speak.
"Tell you what... why don't we start over? I'm Ella Huntley. The big oaf is Jaden Bryseis. Back there is Annie... uh... never did get her last name. And our final companion is... Tuffy. We're... uh... looking for-..."
Jaden shushed at her. "Hold up, little lady. Best not to go openly advertising that until we know who we're dealing with."
Annie quickly avoided the topic by going back to Ella’s introductions. “My name is Annie Zephyris. Just in case any of you were wondering. We’re just a couple of travelers.”
Jaden/Lost Woods/Night 6
Thinking on what Tuffy had said, Jaden just kept walking forward. These were the Lost Woods, after all. And with night coming, there were other perils yet to face unless the group found a way out. But there had been death nearby. Fresh blood. The products of war. Had it found them at last?
A deadly beauty with red hair appeared from the treeline, and Jaden could sense the tinge of a predator. This wasn't Elizabeth, but with how she displayed her affiliation, there was a lot of influence from his niece in this one. Unique stylish clothing, well-functioning armor, and potent magical abilities paired with equipment. If Beth had trained her at all, he knew it wouldn't be smart to engage her, because he trained Beth in the beginning.
“Identify yourselves. If you have any sense, you know who and what I represent. My day has been poor, and my mission drags on. You might say I’m in a bad mood.”
Ella piped up before Jaden could step forward. At this point, her spitfire demeanor trumped any tactic he would have planned. Sure, they were three and she was just one. But just one infused with unholy might would prove to be a lot more of a problem than whoever Vykos Osteon was.
"You're in a bad mood?Your day drags on? Listen, lady, I don't know who in the sacred realms you think you are, but we just fought our way through about a dozen dozen undead monsters and killed a damn necromancer. I'd say our day has been pretty shitty."
Tuffy mewed softly and covered his face with his front paws while Jaden held him.
"Tell you what... why don't we start over? I'm Ella Huntley. The big oaf is Jaden Bryseis. Back there is Annie... uh... never did get her last name. And our final companion is... Tuffy. We're... uh... looking for-..."
Jaden had interrupted her at that point while Annie continued introductions. "Hold up, little lady. Best not to go openly advertising that until we know who we're dealing with."
“My name is Annie Zephyris. Just in case any of you were wondering. We’re just a couple of travelers.”
Stepping forward and letting Tuffy climb up on his shoulder again, Jaden was able to compose himself after the cluster of attempted diplomacy. It wasn't that it was bad, it was just that he had wished he'd spoken first. No one attacked anyone yet.
"Hail. My lady companions are correct. I am the Grey Wanderer, Jaden Bryseis. Ella and Annie travel with me, as does Lord Tuffington here. I've been to the Lusty Leever in Calatia. In the back room. I seek the High Priestess, as the Dark Father met me there in the fight club. Clues led us here, but we only found a necromancer who we dispatched. Our mood...mildly foul. I need more alcohol. Who might you be?"
Jaden still felt cautious. He wasn't sure how Annie would react about his disclosure regarding Elizabeth's cult, but he was a good spy and a better spymaster. Deep cover was hard enough when he used his real name. But he hoped that Beth wouldn't have told her cult about him. He was about to find out. Flashing a lopsided grin, he lightly pet his cat under the chin.
~Sometime in the past sixth months, an undisclosed location~
Beth dropped her glass to the table with a thud, and peered through the darkness into Severa’s eyes.
“Brycaren.” Severa said to her idol. “That is the name I choose. In honor of you and the story you have told me. Bryseis may have been your name then, but Bryce is who I see now, and that is who I follow.
~Present - The Sixth Night, Lost Woods~
Bryseis. Seeking the High Priestess.
It would have been unimportant to simply hear of another follow of the Dark Follower, another man that had set foot into a dingy tavern at the edge of the world. But this was something special before her, this Jaden evoked familial thoughts.
“Severa Brycaren.” She bowed briefly before the group. “It would appear we are seeking the same individual.” She held her tongue on the naming issue. She did not know if this Jaden was related, if it was a coincidence, or if it was all some kind of clever lie. “I am the self appointed shadow of Bloody Beth. I follow in her stead, and retrace her steps when those steps lead into the unknown. She has been missing from my sight for four days now. Longer than normal.” She was frowning, despite the courtesy bow.
Severa put her weapon away, and let her gauntlets glow gently in the evening light, displaying her other powers passively.
“Seeking my lady does not make us friends until I know you speak some semblance of truth. In this land, traveling with strangers is asking for death, but it seems inevitable already that we will follow the same path for a time at least. I promise not to strike you down, but I will not defend you from harm. I trust you can do the same until we find our mutual objective?” Severa gently removed her mother’s eye from her pocket, saying nothing further, but making it clear what she was capable of as she held up the stolen body part.
Ella Huntley/Evening 6/Lost Woods
Ella pulled Jaden's shoulder, to bring his ear closer to her lips, and turned away from Severa for a private consultation.
"I saw we kill her now," she whispered, "while she's alone without backup and there's not witnesses."
Jaden sighed a reproachful breath. "Now, little lady, I don't like that plan one bit. We ne-"
Ella interrupted him. "What's not to like, Sword-for-Brains? You pick a fight with sweet li'l Annie, but you don't want to take out this she-bitch? We can find Bitchy Beth on our own! We don't need her. C'mon, she'd made good practice for the real thing, if she's telling the truth and actually is Beth's 'Shadow'."
Jaden turned his head against Ella's arm, glancing over his shoulder at an impatient Severa. Then his lowered voice answered Ella. "Killing our best lead gets us nothing. Last I checked, nothing plus nothing... gets us nothing. Infiltrating the cult and dismantling it from within will redeem more people. And it'll get a better paycheck."
Ella's left hand briefly stroked the hilt of one of her knives. "I ain't too concerned about redemption, big man."
"In another time, maybe I'd have to agree. But I would not underestimate their deity. This is out best lead. If you want to defeat Beth, drawing her out isn't the best option."
Ella pulled her arm off Jaden's shoulder, sulkenly muttering, "I thought you were my best lead."
Jaden's voice turned halfway away from Ella. "I still am. Because when we do find her, I have advantage no one else ever will. Years of skills, which I will teach you. And this Severa is one asset I can exploit. Trust me, little lady."
Ella grunted a 'Fine' at Jaden. She turned back to face Severa, a smile on her lips and a death-glare in her eyes. "Alright. Admiral Asscheeks says we travel with you for now. So let's get traveling; it's getting cooler, so I imagine it's getting dark."
~Lost Woods, Night 6~
“The world is full of fools, but don’t take me for one.” Severa was curt with Ella. Her sidebar with Jaden had been too silent to hear, but too obtuse not to notice. Nobody turned away and whispered like that if it wasn’t too hide the fact that the subject of the conversation was mere feet away. She observed the girl’s blindness, and lamented that she could not see Severa’s dark smile.
“I’m a very restrained woman, when I have to be. My father Sirius loved his showmanship. I must admit, I admired it to a certain degree, but it has its time and place.” She cocked her head to the side, considering Ella’s words. “It would seem blindness is a trait in your mind as well as your eyes. You cannot see beyond your own words. You may very well die by your own doing as you curse your enemies with this attitude.” Severa didn’t wait for a response, rushing past the trio into the forest. Without looking back, she called out one last time.
“We all know that this alliance of ours will end in bloodshed. But necessity rules all, doesn’t it?”
Annie- Lost Woods- Evening 6
“Well, looks like there’s no rest for the weary,” Annie said, as she began to walk in the direction Severa had gone. “You couldn’t pay me enough to sleep with her around! Let alone all the stalfos that will be popping up within the hour. In any case, it looks like she’s headed south. LEts stay nice and far behind her. If we get too close I might be tempted to gut her again.”
Annie jumped as the voice addressed her again. “Oh good, headed in the right direction I see! Now all you have to do is time it right. Now let’s not forget, dawn and dusk are both viable options for when to go. It’s a nice area, really, full of… well… trees and water. But there’s an inn! With free continental breakfast! ….Ok, so maybe there’s no inn or continental breakfast. But there's a dragon nearby, and maybe you can be her continental breakfast. I hear she has a taste for stupid.”
Jaden and Ella gave Annie a funny look, as she attempted to regain her composure. She had seemingly jumped out of nowhere, and then her face had turned bright red, as she grew more and more irate at the taunting voice. “Jaden, Ella…. did you hear something?”
Jaden and Ella looked at her again strangely, and Annie’s face now turned red with embarrassment. She assumed she must be going crazy. “Hey, Jaden, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about… hearing voices…. Would you? Maybe I’ve just been in these woods too long, or maybe I’m just too tired…. Either way, just ignore that question…” She bowed her head and shuffled ahead a little bit, expecting mockery directed at her. “I’ll just be quiet now.”
Jaden/Lost Woods/Night 6
In deep cover that Jaden was barely keeping, the discord among his traveling party was in danger of all out erupting. He had but one question for his niece. Maybe two.
"In the end, so be it. But know this. I seek not Elizabeth for the bounty. I can't say the same for my companions here. But I do not seek to harm anyone unless they seek to harm me first. Nonetheless, keep an eye out for undead. Oh, no pun intended, Shadow of Bryce."
Annie and Ella both sighed loudly at Jaden's response to their new partner of convenience. Tuffy quietly rested along his shoulders. He was quiet for a reason. It would be bad enough for Beth to know that he and Jaden were in the past with her. And her shadow would share that information readily if she got there first.
He needed the element of surprise. Without it Beth would plan, and he did not know the full extent of her resources or network of assets.
Laying hands on Ella and Annie, Jaden began a similar chant to what he had done in the necromancer's prison. Pale green wisps of light came off of his frame and into the eyes of his two companions.
Jaden gave of his own life force again and concluded his chant. This would allow them to get through the night marching onward. As he wiped a few stray tears of blood from his illuminated eyes, he pulled another flask from his satchel and looked at it for a moment.
It was the sole equipment piece that bore the Weeping Eye of his people. It was full of Sheikah Smokewater. His most potent reserves. Drinking deeply with no concern for sobriety, he let out a sigh of relief. The shakes that were coming on started to leave him quickly.
Annie/ Midnight 6/ Somewhere in the forest
Minutes edged by, feeling like hours, as the tired trio made their way through the forest. Annie wasn’t sure if she would be able to keep it up, even with Jaden’s magic to keep her awake. She ached from all the fighting that day; the group had hardly had a rest of any sort all day. Aside from this, the combined magical effects of Jaden and of the Lost Woods was having some strange effects on the weary travellers.
The travellers continued on through the night, weary and quiet, until Annie broke the silence.
“So…. Do any of you guys sing?”
“Uhh… What?” Ella looked at Annie a little incredulously.
“I mean, we’ve got a good long way to go, and I thought some music might pass the time. I’m sure Jaden’s drunk enough to agree to it. Ella, you sound like a soprano, and Jaden’s a sure baritone.”
“Did you have something in mind?” Ella asked.
“Just a song I know from my childhood in castle town…. Maybe you all know it? It’s a song that’s sure to make the walk go by quicker. At least, it makes me feel better. I can start….”
Annie began to sing, a slow tempo, softly, in a beautiful alto; “Open the temple, seize the day, don’t be afraid and don’t delay.”
She gestured at her friends, singing, “Nothing can break us, no one can make us give our lives away; arise and seize the day!”
Annie’s singing picked up and she began to step lively as though marching to the beat of the song. She turned to face her friends and continued to sing. Ella and Jaden nodded with the beat, recognizing the tune. From the woods, suddenly, instruments sounded, playing along with the tune; mieschevouis skull kids had heard Annie and joined in. The forest became a cacophony of ocarinas, trumpets, and percussion of all sorts as the skull kids hopped along through the trees, delighting in the music.
“Now is the time to seize the day!” Annie sang, and Ella and Jaden echoed in harmony; Jaden in a slightly slurred, gritty baritone and Ella in a smooth soprano.
“Send out the call and join the fray!” Annie drew Illumois and held it high, and Jaden and Ella joined her, Jaden holding aloft his sword and Ella, her cane. “Send out the call and join the fray!” they sang, beginning to get absorbed into the energy of the song. For a couple of seasoned warriors and travelers, they were surprisingly good singers; they could at least carry a tune.
Annie sang out, “Wrongs will be righted, if we’re united!” and Ella and Jaden joined in; “Let us sieze the day!” They all shook their weapons, faking a duel and clashing blades and jumping around, practically skipping and dancing through the woods like little kids. Between the magic and the alcohol, they were all intoxicated. It was as though Jaden’s magic was sharing the liquor, too. The whole group was laughing and dancing around, as Annie played music in between verses on a little diatonic harmonica she kept in her pocket.
“Friends of the friendless seize the day!” Annie sang, and Jaden and Ella echoed. “Raise up the torch and light the way!”
“Proud and defiant, we’ll slay the giant! Let us seize the day!” The group sang together in a great forte, their joyful song filling the woods. Jaden was slurring, leaning on Annie and laughing.
They belted out the bridge to the song, singing at the top of their lungs, arms around each other, swaying as they stumbled like drunken idiots through the woods. “Neighbor to neighbor, father to son, one for all and all for one!”
Jaden and Ella continued to echo Annie in harmony; “Open the gates and seize the day! Don’t be afraid and don’t delay! Nothing can break us, no one can make, us give our lives away!”
Again they belted the chorus, “Neighbor to neighbor, father to son, all for one and all for one!”
They all laughed as the song ended, and the music had put a new spring in their steps as they made their way through the woods. Not only that, but it seemed they had made some helpful new friends; the skull kids were still hopping along playing music in the trees, hoping for the travelers to play another song they would know. It was a good thing to have the skull kids playing music, rather than tricks.
Annie turned to Jaden, and asked him, “So, how about another one?”
~Lost Woods, Midnight of the Sixth~
Her comments of bloodshed had been hasty, and born from the poor mood enveloping her. Her mother’s sudden appearance had left a bad taste in her mouth, despite the somewhat positive ending to the encounter. While she held distrust for her newfound travel partners, they seemed to be fairly agreeable individuals, though the blind girl seemed to be the least agreeable of the bunch.
Traipsing through the woods, Annie had seen fit to suggest entertainment to pass the time. Calling upon a song from her past, she insisted upon Jaden and Ella to join in with her. Severa received no such invitation, though inwardly she knew that any calls to join in would have been courtesy only, and ultimately she would have rejected them.
At first, she found the singing somewhat grating, not in quality, but merely the act itself. It seemed wholly distasteful, hardly up to the standards set to her by Beth. And yet, as playful skull kids emerged from the forest, thrilled to hear music, she found herself humming along quietly. She made sure to stay a good distance ahead of the group, not yet willing to give the impression of friendliness.
As the song waned, Severa began to feel weary. She had been without sleep for more than a day now. Her gauntlets, while capable of fueling her with the energy of the sun and the moon, were no replacement for real sleep. She glanced back, and saw that her allies too, despite their energetic singing, were becoming sluggish. She heard Annie’s request, and simultaneously saw the skull kids suddenly bolt nervously into the brush.
“So, how about another one?” She asked Jaden. Severa, despite being exhausted, turning and rushed back.
“No! Wait!” She startled the girl, who frowned at her, but didn’t initially reply. She was smart enough to listen, and quickly heard the same sounds that Severa did.
“Forest Stalfos. Awakened by the music.” Severa said. Barely five seconds passed, and a stalfos warrior rushed in, swinging his massive sword down towards Annie. In that moment, Severa knew she had to help protect these people. If they sought Beth, they needed to live long enough to meet her. They would make excellent recruits, or excellent sacrifices, but it would be Beth’s decision to make.
Severa swung her blood up, and it burst with silvery moonlight from her gauntlet, slicing clean through the Stalfos wrist. Annie had enough energy to move out of the way of the falling sword, which landed upon the ground where she had stood.
“When this is over!” Severa shouted, jumping up on top of a stalfos, and ripping its head clean off, hurling it into another. “I think it’s time for some sleep!” She backflipped off the stalfos, grabbing a hanging tree branch, and pulling out her seed satchel. Another three stalfos had rushed in, forcing her trio of allies into triangle formation, standing back to back to back as they fended off the skeletal foes.
“Deal!” She heard a reply, but in the chaos was not sure who had said it, perhaps all three had, or perhaps she was imagining things.
“Split now!” Amazingly, the group responded to her order, and all three ran off in separate directions, as Severa pulled three ember seeds from the satchel and thrust them into the ground. The remaining Stalfos were caught inside a ring of fire, disorienting them for a few moments. She dropped from the tree into the center, eating a pegasus seed quickly before doing so. Her body pulsed with speed and energy from the seed, and she went to work slicing and dicing through each Stalfos in turn, until they were a pile of charred bones upon the ground.
The fires diminished, and she listened for more enemies, as Annie, Jaden, and Ella walked back over to her, looking as exhausted as ever.
“There may be more, so we will need to stay awake in shifts, and sleep lightly if we can.” She extended a hand to the first that would shake it. “I humbly offer my skills to you all, to such times that we meet with Bryce.”
Jaden/Lost Woods/Night 6
The Smokewater had a magic all its own. That's why the shakes stopped and the woods started to contort along the edges of his vision more than Reynolds' Rum ever could. The slow burning tingle felt like there was vapor in his throat, and Jaden had the most lopsided grin on his face he could muster.
When Annie broke out into song, Jaden took the license to belt it out along with her and Ella. Severa walked ahead, scouting for dangers. He knew he was beyond wasted when the skull kids started to march along with them, but rustling and familiar noises from their earlier adventure shook him out of choral bliss.
Severa was quite skilled with her blade. She and Beth had to have been training together for a time, because her techniques resembled some of the lightning warfare systems he had taught his niece. Hit hard, hit fast, let the carnage overwhelm the enemy before there is time to react. Jaden called upon the Defiant and offered his aura of increased physical potency. A bright red glyph hovered and shone from his forehead. And then, it was time for the drunken master to take his Zweihander to the horde of forest stalfos.
"They just don't appreciate good music when they hear it!"
Ella and Annie did Jaden proud again as they fended off the masses. Severa, however, truly saved the day with her blazing display. Jaden was puzzled by the contents of her satchel; he would have to ask her of that later. After all, he had a Goriya-skin bag full of a mysterious white powder that saved his life more times than he'd care to admit. Except for that one time he decided to snort it. That was a terrible week.
"Lady Severa, I would agree. Quite impressive abilities you've got too. The Priestess has quite a friend in you. I'll take first watch. Who's got second?"
Looking visibly exhausted and quite inebriated, Jaden hiccuped and kept his lopsided grin flashing strong.
Ella Huntley/Night 6/Lost Woods
Ella frowned at Jaden. "Yeah. You're drunk. I'll take first watch."
Jaden made an odd noise, then countered. "Watch? But you're bl-"
"Don't you dare say it!" she snapped, pointing threateningly in his direction. "I can hear anything trying to sneak up on us. I think I've proved myself today. And you'll just fall asleep, you damn lush."
She turned her back toward him, not bothering to listen to his reaction. Using her new-found walking stick, she located a tree and propped her back against it. The rest of the group prepped the temporary camp; Ella sat and listened halfheartedly to their work, focused more on the sounds of nature around them. She had to know what normal was for the Woods, if she was going to know when things were abnormal through the night.
Annie came over to check on her, once everything was set up. "Hey. I'll take second watch. You okay?"
Ella sighed. "Yeah... I'm fine. Just stressed I guess, after everything? Look, don't worry about me. I can take care of myself."
Annie didn't sound convinced. "You sure? I mean... if we're friends...?"
"I'm fine! Go!" Ella waved Annie away. "I'll wake you up when it's you're turn."
Severa's voice raised from the camp. "How will you know how much time has passed? Can't exactly check the moon's progress across the sky."
"Shut up!" both Annie and Ella shouted at her. That almost made Ella break into a grin, but she controlled it and maintained her grumpy expression.
Annie started walking back. "If things get bad, wake us." Ella nodded at her.
Some Time Later
The Lost Woods weren't meant for normal Hylians. There was a reason so many rumors, legends and myths abounded regarding the place. The noises Ella heard were not natural to her ears. However, they were consistent, which brought some modicum of comfort to her.
Time stretched on. It had been a very busy day, a very draining day. Ella felt her eyelids growing heavy. So, she hopped to her feet to take a walk around the camp and get her blood flowing. The pole she had served w4ell so far as a walking stick, and she was starting to get the hang of using it. Sure made it easier to find roots before tripping over them. Until something odd happened.
Somehow, the pole changed lengths, and grew perhaps a foot or two; Ella couldn't tell. What she did know is that the sudden change threw her off balance and she tumbled to the ground.
"Ah! Dammit!" The frustration of her life overcame her once again, and she gave in to the feelings she had been hiding away deep inside herself. She screamed, punching the ground repeatedly. Tears that had been held at bay broke free. She raged at the world that had brought her to this, at the Goddesses who had let it all happen, who had forsaken her.
Her fist slammed into something that was neither root nor fist. It was some sort of... she picked it up, suddenly distracted from her ire. A notebook or a journal, or something. She grabbed her pole and stood.
But she had lost the direction of the camp in her fall. "Shit..."
"Annie! A-Annie!" She really hoped she hadn't wandered out of earshot of the camp.
Annie- Somewhere in the woods- Predawn 7
Annie stood in an unfamiliar place; a warm spring bathed in sunlight, fog rising up over the water as the sun just broke over the trees. She was in a forest, but not the lost woods. The foliage was different- unfamiliar to her- and the climate felt different as well. She looked around, confised, and then began to explore the area, hoping to figure out what was going on, and as she walked, she called out for her friends. “Jaden? Ella? Are you guys here? What did I miss?”
“I’m afraid you aren’t going to find any of them here, sweetie.” The voice had returned again.
Annie jumped and spun, reaching to whip out her sword but grabbing only air. She turned her head and realized the sword wasn’t there. “This isn’t funny!”
“Really? I have to disagree. I think these games are HI-LARIOUS. You’re so easy to get riled up!” Through the mist, Annie saw a boy approaching, looking about her age. He was fairly tall and had long, sloppy hair, with a sort of boyish face. He had a cocksure air about him. “Hey, look what I found!” He laughed as he swung Illumois around.
Annie grew impatient. “Look, I’m sick of this. Who are you? Why do you keep bothering me?”
“I’ll answer that in due time, but suffice to say you won’t be getting rid of me anytime soon. I’m glad, because tormenting you is so entertaining. It’s been ages since I’ve had any sort of fun!”
“Well then…. Now what? You gonna give me my damn sword back? And where the hell are we?”
“Dunno. That’s up to you. It’s YOUR dream, not mine. I’m just manipulating it. Which reminds me- if you find a place like this, you might wanna stop! Important stuff right here. But for now, you may want to wake up before things “go dark” for your friend- ahahaha!”
Annie jumped up, nearly falling out of the tree she had nestled herself into to sleep, as she had always done. She lept down, rolled to her feet and then stopped, listening; she heard the faint cries of Ella calling her name. “Hold on Ella, I’m coming!” She couldn’t see, but instinctively pulled her sword in case of danger, and remember her discovery during the earlier battle: Illumois glowed in the dark. Using the sword to light the way, she ran towards her friend.
Annie reached Ella and saw her holding her hand to a tree, not wandering from where she had been. “Ella, are you ok? What happened? ….. What’s with the book?”
Ella Huntley/Night6/Lost Woods
Ella calmed down once Annie found her. "I was just walking a bit, to get my blood flowing, and this stupid pole suddenly snagged on a root or something and I fell down, and I got all turned around and didn't know which way the camp was, so I kinda freaked out a little." She took a moment to breath. "And I found this book on the ground when I tripped."
She handed the book to Annie. "Doesn't really do much good, me hanging on to it... Maybe you can read it during your shift. I think it's your turn anyway; I've earned some sleep."
Jaden/Alcohol-Enhanced Dreamscape/Night 6-Midnight 7
After lending his strength twice and giving of himself more than he had in many years to the others accompanying him, Jaden's body finally gave out. Ella was stubborn in her insistence of keeping watch by ear instead of vision. He didn't agree with it, but his body wasn't going to allow him to keep going much longer.
If things came unheard, he would be ready enough to fend it off, or so he resolved. But sleep came a lot faster to him in the Lost Woods than it had in previous nights in this time period. But no matter what time he rested in, Jaden's dreams never brought him comfort. There were too many tragedies that had plagued his family with the end of the Interloper War, his sister's taboo romance with a celestial that she had met in the Sacred Realm, Elizabeth nearly killing his sister, and one with scars deeper than anything could imagine.
It all overshadowed his accomplishments as the Chieftain of the Sheikah. Also a role he assumed out of necessity instead of when the previous holder of this title died of old age or retired. He was as ready as he could be, and he did a good job of it. But this job made him feel much older than a man in his early fourth decade, even with the instability in his family. And furthermore by being a foster father to three half-Sheikah, half-celestial children who were prodigies in too many ways because their daddy dearest could only sneak out of the Sacred Realm during Equinox and Solstice evenings to visit them and their mother.
Hidden Kakariko Cathedral - Shortly after Interloper War's End
After so much death, many thought happiness was not possible. There was still much reconstruction to be done; Castle Town still had its issues given the overwhelming demonic, undead, twilit convert, and rebel factions that had desecrated it. The Sheikah especially were conflicted as to how the Monarchy could be restored to power. As it stood now, they were the law from the shadows, and their primary goals continued to be preservation of the Children of Hylia, cleansing the Seat of Power, and eradication of all who opposed the Divine Right of true rule.
But for today, celebration could happen. The Chieftain's Heir was marrying Elly Shea, another proud Sheikah with deep generational ties. Jaden Bryseis may have been one of the heroes of this war, but Elly had her own glory in protecting their Scion from certain death countless times. When King Daphnes couldn't sit on the throne, the people needed a hero with a face. And they had Kae Bryseis among the other revered Light Warriors. If it weren't for Elly buying her time to escape to the Sacred Realm through a Moon Gate in occupied Ordon, Kae would have died from Din's curse. And Elly was able to keep her own demons in check with much concentration. Jaden didn't even know the whole story of what happened there. She would never speak of it...
Lynn was nowhere to be found. Kae had done her best to stifle her affections since meeting Aris Mastigos in the Light Temple, and while she felt terrible being unable to do much about her friend, she was happy that she found someone who she could love without being hurt. Long distance was the only price to be paid. And she was comfortable with this.
The bridal party consisted of Maid of Honor Kae, who had muted her appearance as to not overshadow Elly's luxurious dress. Rashida Bryseis, Kae's mother, was her other bridesmaid. Had Lynn been able to be found and safe from her demons, Elly would have asked her to be involved. Jaden had chosen the Zora's Crimson General, Polaris Eridanus, to be his Best Man. It was an odd gesture and many of his people were shocked that he would choose an outsider to support him in this manner. As another honorable gesture (and to avoid being controversial in full), he asked his father, Razah, to be his Best Man as well.
Standing up at the altar with his battle brother and his father, the current Chieftain was waiting as the officiant for the ladies to proceed down the aisle. Many Sheikah were in attendance, but very few outsiders were there. And King Daphnes was there in disguise as another of the Shadow Folk.
As music played beautifully from handcrafted Sheikah harps, lutes, and flutes, Jaden's mother proceeded down the aisle looking more stunning than she had in years. Ever since assuming Nora's previous job, Rashida had a glow about her as a result of finally gaining an understanding magic. She couldn't have done it without Jaden's aid. She smirked at him and his father before taking her place. Kae indeed had concealed her otherworldly appearance by wearing a dress that had a full left arm sleeve. She couldn't dim the glow in her eyes, but she kept her neckline at a very respectable level. Giving her own grin to Jaden, she knew something that he was about to find out: just how beautiful his bride was.
With her father at her side, Elly Shea proceeded down the center aisle with a look in her eyes that no one had ever seen. Smiles were rare from her, but her eyes were misty and full of pure joy. Her dress accentuated her petite features well in the most dazzling white able to be found in Hyrule. Maybe she had access to the closet of the Royals before the war had gone too badly? Only she would know for sure. But when she took her place next to her future husband, she could barely keep it together. His warm grin gave her a comfort that made the difference.
There were vows of the most solemn with personalized bands. A hand-binding. Shared drink from a gilded chalice. Special music by Kae. Elly even sang to her future husband. These were moments that both would remember forever.
No one objected to their union. Nor would anyone dare, given all who were in attendance.
The Chieftain concluded this blessed ceremony with what many had heard before from him when joining two in bonds of eternal love.
"In the sight of Nayru, Farore, and Din, these bonds pledged today will never be shattered. I now pronounce you man and wife. Lord Jaden, you may kiss your bride."
Jaden did not hesitate. He took Elly in his arms and cradled the back of her head, and she threw herself toward him with haste. They kissed deeply, but this moment of bliss was not destined to last. He couldn't react fast enough. Her body tensed up as though she had been stabbed, and Jaden could feel his mouth begin to fill with her blood...
Lost Woods/Early 7
The all too familiar nightmare had driven Jaden to the brink of anguish once again. When he drank the right amount of liquor, this dream didn't show up. When he was the most reckless, he was too tired to dream. Dreams never comforted him. Especially this one. And he never wanted to see it again. It had woken him. He didn't care where he was or who was around him. Drenched in sweat and tears, he cried out with all he had left, situation be damned.
"Elly! Why couldn't I protect you? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
'Jaden/Lost Woods/Midnight 7'
Xenoblade Chronicles - On the Fallen Arm
Tuffy was sleeping fairly soundly when he awoke to a familiar outcry from a lifelong friend. Jaden had never been good in the head since they met. Of course, he watched over the family from afar in the cosmos, but not in corporeal form until after Elly Shea's soul had crossed into the underworld.
How he didn't wake Severa with that shout was beyond logic. Maybe she was feigning sleep. But she wasn't moving. Tuffy started poking Jaden hard. He knew. This conversation happened many ways over the years, but in essence it was the same. This warrior had no beauty to fight for. He had a domain to defend, evil to vanquish, but he was missing something. And being a man of vows, he never did love another. His passion became rearing Kae's kids, one of which used everything he taught her to go rogue and nearly kill his sister.
At least the other two turned out alright. One was a paragon of restorative lunar flame. The other was an alchemical prodigy with a knack for marksmanship and mechanics. But Elizabeth was Jaden's favorite niece. And she made bad decisions without even coming to him first.
"Master Bryseis. Jaden. Hey! You are not taking another drink until we talk!"
Jaden slammed his fists into the ground and hung his head. Tears were cascading to the ground as he heaved hard.
"It's all worth it, right? Lord Tuffington, it stings just as bad as it did twenty years ago. I can still feel the chill in her blood, the limpness in my arms...I should have died with her..."
"Rubbish. You spew rubbish! Had you died, everything you accomplished would never have happened. Elizabeth is your chance at redemption. And you know we need to find her if we have any hope of this being worth it. What are you going to do when you're standing before her, huh? I know exactly what she'll say. She will think your sister sent you to do her dirty work. We both know that's not true."
"You're right, friend. She won't trust me. I'm a spymaster of spymasters. But we both agree. Hands will be covered with blood before the end. But it won't be my family's. I have to join the Eclipse. I just hope the Triune will understand why. I'm one less nightmare away from success, right?"
Tuffy curled up under Jaden's face and pawed at his fists, which were still slammed into the ground.
"Success also means you get revenge on the bastard who did this to her and to you. And to your family. Remember, this is a grudge that started with Tirion Bryce himself. One that has plagued our family for all our generations. Tell Elizabeth the truth. Somewhere, even amidst her blackened heart, she will understand. She even wrote a song about Elly when she was twelve to help you cope. So that's a start."
Jaden reached for his bag and pulled out another bottle of Calatian Reserve.
"It sure is, Tuffy. I may not have loved another woman, but the bottle will have to do for now."
Tuffy sighed as Jaden took a very long swig, waddling over to his legs, plopping himself down and curling up again.
Lost Woods, The Seventh Day Severa Brycaren
Agreeing to an alliance hardly brought Severa the peace she needed to sleep, not while Beth was still out there, dealing with who knows what darkness after the great battle. Risen from her slumber by the wails of Jaden, she saw no way to return to sleep, and indeed, the sun had risen.
She felt uncomfortable, like she had spent the night staring into mirrors in her dreams, and behind every mirror was her father, laughing. One image stayed burned into her mind, silver light drifting across the mirrors, silver light spelling her a message.
‘You can be replaced, repeated.’
She shook with rage, but knew that not even her father had the power to infiltrate dreams. It was her own mind telling her these things, scaring her with the fear that she too was nothing more than a clone. She removed a glove, and sliced into her palm gently, watching the blood drip. Real enough for bleeding, real enough for pain, real enough for her.
Done with thinking about dreams, she looked up at the voices nearby. Jaden was talking. Talking to his cat. Weirder things had happened. Such as the cat talking back. She walked over to him tentatively, more curious than empathetic.
“What kind of man does this.” She said, not quite venomous, but hardly comforting. “Curls up, drunk, with his cat.” She sighed. “I’m supposed to be allied with men and women that I can trust to watch my back at night, but you can’t even watch your own back. Unless this cat transforms too, I’m not so sure I should be helping you find Elizabeth if this is your status quo.”
Jaden/Lost Woods/Early 7
It appeared as though the conversation Jaden and Tuffy did roust Severa, who was none too amused or happy to see any of this.
"Believe it or not Severa, we are in good shape as far as keeping each other safe. Sorry we woke you. My vice here won't be an issue. Promise. And Lord Tuffington here, well, he can show you."
Tuffy walked a little closer to Severa and began to shimmer a good bit before taking on a nebulous white form.
"Glad you asked about me. I am more than your average talking feline advisor. I am a minor celestial aspect. And I have known your hero since birth. I have missed her so..."
Tuffy's form coalesced into a translucent black lion with constellations making up his internal framework. His eyes shone with lustrous gold and his mane was prominent.
"But I do prefer being a simple cat. This form is here in case your back needs watching..."
Shifting back into his normal obese form, he nodded solemnly before noticing something else.
"Ella and Annie are gone. Not good!"