Uprising is the 12th chapter of Epoch of Disharmony Season Two.
Elizabeth/Timeshifted Hyrule/Evening 2
With her party following closely both conscious and out cold, the fleetness of foot she prayed for was granted. While the world around her was of the days long gone she had hoped for, there was much wonder as to what was really happening outside the bubble she had generated. What kinds of chaos had ensued after she fled? Did the town completely degenerate? Had they rallied behind the troops?
There was no time to think about it as she kept moving toward the river. And Lon Lon Ranch had to have been compromised by now. As omniscient as Nerisse had been prior to this moment, she would have to hope her primary Gerudo contact was waiting back at the Sanctuary or in the brushlands of the desert.
It was truly amazing to see Castle Town with nothing there. The land before time itself. Occasional homes dotted the scape, but when the river came into full view, thankfully one of the old bridges was still there. Those with her spoke amongst themselves about their take on things. Beth remained solidly focused and didn't say much while concentrating. She kept the bubble up for a little more time before dropping it where she thought there was a safe spot out of sight of the Castle Town walls. Under guise of night, who knew what would be out here.
Dropping the bubble was a frightening experience. Was she truly far away? What would things look like? Where would they really be? All the wondering was put at ease when everything lurched forward and the prehistoric horizon merged into what truly was. Elizabeth put the Timeshift Stone in her satchel under cloak and kept pushing forward. With luck, they would arrive at the brushlands by midnight. Traveling there was eerily uneventful. Night patrols weren't out in Hyrule Field due to the Midtown Massacre. Efforts had to be devoted to restoring order within before chasing disorder without.
Elizabeth was right about Nerisse. She was waiting at the brushlands, sitting by a makeshift camp. After expressing relief at the fact that Elizabeth had survived, she then expressed concern about bringing a retinue into Gerudo lands. And only being able to vet the Hylian guard made her cautious. She had no intention of joining Beth's cult, but reported that there were at least a few hundred more Gerudo heading toward the Sanctuary, as well as some from Calatia. Information about her next assignment would be revealed at the Sanctuary.
Gerudo Desert Sands Baten Kaitos - Glittering Violet Moon
Having Nerisse accompany her also solidified to those around her that she did have an alliance with the Gerudo. They now knew too much and would either be compelled to commit, be enslaved, killed, or otherwise have to flee and hope to survive. Elizabeth did not want her allegiances disclosed publicly just yet. She figured criminals spread rumors in her cult about all sorts of things. But substantiation of rumors was hard to come by when every sin committed in her name wasn't entirely accurate.
At least desert sand was cool at night. And just as her tired feet were beginning to refuse to carry her any further, her steed finally had caught scent of her and galloped to her location. Tenebrous in his midnight black joined them, carrying her and the blind girl. To instill trust in one who appeared to have distaste for the Crimson Eclipse, a rare kindness proved to be somewhat useful. And she introduced herself as Talai, using her Gerudo alias. She even inserted accents into her speech when appropriate to further sell the deceit. What she couldn't see didn't hurt her. But having the scent of battle on her was hard to explain off.
Fatigue was starting to set in. Blue potion's mending or not, sleep had to come sooner or later. And with such a revelation to her followers about the Dark Father waiting to be unfurled, waiting didn't appear to be smart. But she had to sleep somewhat. An announcement to the Order followed by a nap of sorts would be perfect. An announcement about an announcement.
After Midnight 2-3
Seeing the glittering violet moon hover in night sky's center felt good, especially knowing they were well into the desert lands. But with nothing around them but sand and mountains on the horizon, the moonlight did belie a trail for Beth to follow. She had made this trek many times. And with the winds stilled for the night, folks were still talking. It made Beth feel somewhat relieved. And riding Tenebrous restored confidence in her. Soaking in desert oasis springs also was very tempting when she arrived at the Sanctuary.
With all this time to kill and being solid in the saddle, Elizabeth pulled her dark stained lute from her satchel and began to play freely. There was no song, but chords flowed together in a calming manner. It was a side of Bryce that few ever saw. Underneath her incredibly rough exterior was a musical savant. When she became known, she was a traveling minstrel with a strange sword at her side. Taverns, gatherings of nobles, royal dances, and other events were on her resume of performances. Her dulcet Soprano melodies accompanied by lute, dance, and sometimes flute earned her quite a fortune in four years of time. And then she went crazy one night...
Such a performance of freely arranged chords was unlike her. Normally she was bound to play songs of worship to her deity. But under the pale moonlight, her fingers danced with strings of her own will. And this made time pass more freely as she steered with her legs.
The Crimson Sanctuary/First Light 3
Lynel guards rose from the dunes and began to escort her. As did cultists who lingered on the outskirts that bordered on insane. But Elizabeth gave them a gesture to be silent and return home. The guards, however, could follow. They put others at unease. But they were unfamiliar beings in red and blue fur. Goriya and Gerudo also began to emerge. The gates had been reached.
"You are under protection. No harm will come to any of you as you are welcome visitors here. I will look into arrangements being made in the commons. We have laws in place that seekers and non-seekers alike are to live and let live. But any who seek to cause mischief are subject to corrective action by leadership. Koume! Kotake! To me. Make sure our guests are looked after well, and you will be rewarded handsomely. At mid day an announcement is to be made. Gather all who would be interested then."
Concern was expressed about the unconscious one and the blind one by the twin Evokers, mid-level cultists.
"If any harm comes to them, there will be hell to pay. They are VIPs. Per orders of Leadership, so be it."
Elizabeth was preparing to retire for a nap, but she did linger for any who needed her attention. Most of the faithful were already asleep. But before her assistants sought to create lodging arrangements for guests, someone had to have questions.
It sure felt good to be home again.
Henrietta Arand/Early Morning 3/Crimson Sanctuary
Henrietta had fallen on the final shift to carry their armored companion, and she shared the burden with Ella, to as much an extent as Ella's condition would allow. They carried the man and laid him to rest on a stone slab in an out of reach corner of the Sanctuary. Two Gerudo, who had deigned to join the cult and had proven themselves trustworthy, at least as trustworthy as could be attributed them given it was Elizabeth Bryce whose word vouched for them, were placed as guards on the room, under order to allow entrance only to Arand and those who accompanied her. With that taken care of, Arand found another private room to claim as her quarters, bringing Ella along with her.
"Best we stick together, for now, until we figure out what to do. And I don't want you getting hurt considering... you know..."
Ella just nodded. The sudden blindness seemed to have quelled her usual spirit, leaving her in a more contemplative mindset.
"I think..." Ella started, pausing for but a moment, perhaps to find out what it was she did think, "after all the walking, I'd like to take a nap. Could you... show me to the bed?"
"Of course, dear. Just this way." Arand led Ella to the bed and helped Ella crawl under the threadbare sheets. "I'll be here by your side if you need anything."
A somber smile played across Ella's lips. "Thanks, Ria."
Henrietta leaned over the young girl and left a light kiss on her forehead. "Nothin' doin', little'un. Remember - friends."
"Friends." And with that mumbled utterance, Ella almost immediately fell into sleep. She really was beat, wasn't she?
But there was still the matter of Ella's blindness, and how to sustain it believably. Arand closed her eyes, and Alauth began to work.
While Ella slept, Alauth meditated, contemplating the events that had occurred the day prior. It had been a very busy day. Disconcertingly so. To go from living just another of its constructs lives to suddenly being thrust into such revelations of what surely was its origins? Such things were a vast upheaval for one's worldview. But that's what it surely was, was it not?
Malauth. To think I had forgotten the name. But the power that thing had... the power that I had! Where did it all go? I feel but a shell of that thing, of my former self. Why can't I remember? What happened after Demise was sealed..?
These thoughts were interrupted by a firm, but polite, rapping on the door. Ella didn't respond at all, she was dead to world in her slumber. Arand, however, walked to the door.
"Yes? What? We're resting in here, you know!"
"My apologies, my Lady, but the meeting is about to begin, and Her Emminence requests your presence."
Arand sighed, and glanced back at Ella. She can sleep a while longer, the poor thing. No reason to wake her and bother her.
"Very well," she responded to the messenger. "But place a guard on this room. None are to disturb it until my return. No one. Do you understand?"
"Y-yes, m'lady..." the messenger said with a fearful gulp.
Arand closed the door on her gaze at Ella and proceeded in tow with the messenger, to wherever and whatever it was Bryce had planned.
Elizabeth/Crimson Sanctuary/Dawn 3
After a long night of travel until first light, Elizabeth finally administrated her way back to her living space. Visitors and guests were seen to by emissaries and messengers. And she was wiped out. Her wounds had closed, but she was quite sore.
Guards were posted outside her chambers, as always. Even when she wasn't home and the locks were firmly enchanted into place, it was simply out of respect for a leader who had inspired many races to unite under hatred for societal norms and regulations. And no one dared to question her.
Elizabeth stripped off her armor and hung it hastily on her cloak tree. No time to put it on the mannequin. Everything else was meticulously arranged just as she had left it. Her desk had sheet music set up as well as a few tomes of arcana. Her bed had the most resplendent of furs for sheets. And she had a private well to draw from the strategically important oasis.
Offerings and gifts from her followers adorned the walls of this space along with other plundered treasures. She lived like a queen. Many things she plundered were often passed down the chain to her most loyal. As rank rose in the Order, so did living conditions. Initiates lived in the commons, where barracks and bunks were set up in a hostel style. Proven were housed in a better kept area, but there were no private rooms for them either. Not all cultists stayed at the sanctuary on a permanent basis. Many had homes elsewhere. But pilgrimages came with perks for those who continued to prove themselves in line with the aims of the Order.
Today was a momentous one. After a bit of a nap she would declare a call to action. A great commission. It was no longer time to minister to just the faithful. To go and preach the Fallen One's arrival to all in creation was the new goal. She had been considering her words since last night.
But before her nap, the grime of yesterday's bloodbath had to come off. A basin of water with ill-gained soaps were prepared along with fresh towels. A hair cleansing concoction was also added to the tray, as was a straight razor. She would have to look her best for the faithful and for her Lord. Sure, the water was colder than anything, but it was incredibly fresh.
After about an hour of primping, preening, and scrubbing, Elizabeth was satisfied with her cleansing, dressed in a black silk slip, and threw herself onto her fur and linen sheeted bed. It didn't take long for her to pass out. But her dreams didn't comfort her, just as she feared.
Endless Horizon Plains
Any time she used Sanguinary Respiration she ended up here. Her victim would exact revenge and attempt to elicit pangs of remorse from Elizabeth. Sitting through a bitter life's story cut short by greed and hunger got old quickly. But this was the price she paid for rapid healing. Living and dealing with backlashes of this caliber was a far better fate than dying in Castle Town at the hands of infidels.
The blonde teenage girl finished her long walk and stood before Beth, who was still wearing her black slip, unarmed.
"I'm not sorry. Speak your peace and return from whence you came."
"But you are commanded to listen! My life was taken to fuel yours, and you are sustained by greed and greed alone! All I wanted was to escape from a life in the slums. I would've had an interview at the palace today for a job in the kitchen. My family was consigned to languish away in obscurity and I was their only hope. Now I live on in you. And I swear by Din I will haunt you until you throw me from your mind...you're a horrible person and you're exactly what people say you are. Why did you end up this way?"
Elizabeth was indeed unfazed.
"Well, dearie, it's simple. You were there, you couldn't resist me, and you fueled me. If you truly wished to escape the poverty you found yourself in, you would have been wise to make a pilgrimage and swear a pact to Sourbeneton. Haunt me if you want. I've faced my demons already. And they love me. I swore a pact and received blessings beyond measure. That's why I am here and you are entering the afterlife."
After a long argument, the girl faded into a fine red mist and carried away on the wind. And then, everything went black. Elizabeth didn't dream after that, and sleep was still troubled.
Bloody Beth's Bed
Waking up feeling colder than the water from her well, Beth realized it was time to get ready for her sermon. Koume and Kotake were waiting outside to assist her in armoring up and preparing her makeup. Another perk of being home was pampering. Folks looked to curry favor, and kissing up never hurt. Evokers were one step below being able to preach from the altar instead of the classrooms.
Beth greeted them warmly as they helped her from bed and rubbed out her knotted back and arms. She began to mentally prepare herself for the gathering. It was a nervous moment, but it was good to be surrounded by friends.
Elizabeth/Crimson Sanctuary/Day 3
OOC: This is going to be a long post. I apologize in advance, but please don't tl;dr.
It was good to be surrounded by friends indeed. After running her notes by Koume and Kotake, Elizabeth gathered her composure and suited up. She kept her throat moist and her stomach very lightly filled to stave off any nerves. Preaching to the faithful was unpredictable at best, but she was sure that appealing to their passions today was the best option, especially given the events of yesterday which reached home much quicker than in days past.
Much was to be revealed today. And much was to be changed with purpose.
As Elizabeth emerged from her quarters, cheers were echoing throughout the sanctuary. She wasn't home as often as she used to be and morale would waiver from time to time when her absences were extended. Recently, these absences were for quite good reason. Recruiting, sowing seeds of discord, and a few secrets she would be keeping to herself for a bit longer all kept her away.
Bloody Beth took her familiar path from the quarters atop to the altar below. Officiants and assistants followed her in tow, catering to her every whim. And even the ones she didn't need. Believers began to filter into the commons. Those who couldn't make it in time stayed along the walkways carved into stone above.
Though the sun bothered her pale skin, Elizabeth left her hair down and let the wind flow freely through it. Her makeup was done extremely well with highlights on the lips and elaborate patterns in her eyeliner. And she was perfumed with the finest Gerudo fragrance she could acquire. Desert flower nectar accented the oils she used on her neck to enhance her manipulative words. She was clad in full battle regalia, and it wasn't just playing the part. It was the unbridled Bloody Beth.
Taking her place among the faithful at the altar, music of worship and praise continued to ring out among all present. Elizabeth joined her Order and began to praise them after the final song had concluded. Chants of her name and various invitations to speak were soon hushed as her hands raised to the crowd.
"Brothers and Sisters of the Order, You honor me with your presence this day. If you would further continue that with your attention, I promise I will return it to you much more awake and alive than it used to be! My return this morning was one of victory and excitement. Those of you who hate King Dromund just as much as I do..."
Curses and epithets quickly began to vociferate before Elizabeth motioned to them again.
"Indeed, that is an apparent feeling! Is that not why most of us are here? Constable Merton Felick died at my hand yesterday! Many of us felt the sting of his law enforcement. Spent time in irons. In cells. Some of us even escaped from those cells. At worst, martyrdom. And some of our Order still work toward their freedom because of his actions. But no longer will he be causing us trouble! I highly doubt Dromund was prepared for this loss."
"So this brings me to why we are assembled here today in the presence of our Dark Father. We are not meditating on our recitations, revelations, or prophecies. Those will come to pass in their own time, and soon. I have seen things that cannot be denied, as I've said before. But there is a kingdom just waiting to be subjugated as they have done to all others for centuries."
A few unwise individuals began to start making clamor of her race. Others quickly subjugated those who dared to question her.
"Is it not evident that I forfeited my citizenship upon my affirmation of faith? And is that not the same for those of my race here? Let us not be distracted by this. I was never truly Hylian..."
Stepping away from the altar and sweeping her hair from behind her shoulders to her front, Elizabeth whispered unintelligible words of blasphemous origin, and then pale green light erupted from her shoulders that appeared to be shaped like wings. Energies wisped from them as they stayed risen above her shoulder and came to roughly twelve feet in diameter. Murmurs of confusion became shouts of adoration.
Epica - The Score - Angel of Death
"Only a quarter of me ever really was. I am not of this plane! And we are above the laws set before us. Remember what we have learned, both old and new Crimsonites! The only laws that apply to us outside the sanctuary are loyalty to one another and that we only submit to the authority of our master, Sourbeneton!"
Shouts turned into outright roars of praise. The people were smart enough not to repeat Elizabeth in the manner she spoke, but reminders had to be reinforced.
"Yes, I said his name. No, you probably still shouldn't. All hope must be extinguished for the Hylians. There is much animosity toward them, and many of us here have distaste for them for our own reasons. We are not forming a nation here. We are fellow believers of many creeds, worldviews, and races. Some of us would kill one another without a thought outside these walls. What I propose is a change to what we're all used to hearing. You've trusted me this long; so humor me."
She paced about the altar as the crowd was still quite emotional, but noise started to die down after about twenty seconds of silence.
"Raise your hands if you're sick of it!"
While not exactly sure what Bloody Beth meant by that, many did follow suit with her request. After she spoke next, the rest of the crowd complied with little resistance.
"Sick of only being able to truly express yourselves behind closed doors. Beyond the reaches of consensual belief in society. What we do is frowned upon in most cultures, but that is because they are restrained by their traditions! The arguments that hold superior merit are the ones held by survivors. Bounties mean nothing. Civil society should be bound by the principle that unless what we do harms others, that we should be left alone! And if we do happen to harm others by what we do, anyone who opposes us will also be harmed! And to the highest degree if possible, I might add."
"After all, it's the only way Dromund will understand. As well as any monarch who gets in my way. The Gerudo, however, have graciously given us this land in return for our non-aggression. They know not to get in our way as long as we stay out of theirs. Do not compromise this agreement. I cannot remind all of you enough. And of course, my apologies to any Gerudo here for my reiteration of policy."
How anyone heard her speak after this was beyond the realm of believing. But she was able to get her voice above the crowd for her conclusion.
"The throne our Dark Father should sit on when he returns is that of the one in Hyrule Castle. We must prepare the way for Him. Have you not heard the whispers in the dark? It is time to rise from our hiding places and strike down all who interfere!"
Elizabeth unbuckled her right gauntlet, exposing her supreme loyalty to her Master. She then proceeded to draw Apocrypha and raise it to the sky. Looking up at the blade with a sadistic grin, she then focused her gaze upon those assembled before her.
"In His Name!"
Standing there and soaking it all in, she joined in that chant, shaking her armed fist in time to its beats as her glowing brand inspired the crowd further.
Xiaber/Crimson Sanctuary/Day 3
The crowd was in an uproar was Beth walked to the podium. Xiaber stood on a walkway in the back, leaning against the wall. Every so often he would fidget with his broken arm which was now in a sling. A great yawn escapes his mouth. The ones who helped his arm insisted he rest, but he couldn't do that. It wouldn't be safe for him to lose control for a long time. On the journey here, he kept quiet to himself, conserving all the energy he could.
The silence of the crowd announced that their beloved preacher was ready. Xiaber couldn't help but stare at Beth. Her beauty was the only thing that could match the terror her look brought. And then she began to speak.
The sickening beauty of the scene kept a smile on the boy’s face as he focused on every word dancing out of Beth’s mouth. If he wasn't in the situation he was in, he might have even laughed a bit.
"Raise your hands if you're sick of it!"
This took Xiaber by surprise, although he saw that he wasn't the only one. Beth continued on about being sick of not being able to express themselves and how society treats them. Xiaber eventually raised his hand as did all of the others. He doubted anyone had the same reasons as he did, though.
Her last words made Xiaber stand up in extreme surprise. “A war upon Hyrule?” A chuckle escapes his lips. Of course, no one could hear him over the loud chanting of the crowd. “Will there be any safe haven?” Although a wide smile was on his face, his eyes were downcast in worry.
Elizabeth/Crimson Sanctuary Pulpit/Late Noon 3
The chants kept coming, and the crowd's energy got a lot higher. Some were beginning to get too excited, and security on the borders of the crowd started to gesture at Beth to change things up. Normally she didn't like being told what to do, but in this case, a riot could lead to a schism, and a schism would lead to the end of this desert paradise.
She motioned for her instrument as the wind kicked through her hair. As her wings began to fade away into glimmering specks on that same wind, one of the Service Assistants brought that trademark dark-stained lute made of finely aged Deku lumber.
Sheathing her weapon and raising her instrument instead, energy shifted among the gathered faithful.
"In His Name we will offer praises this day! There is still much to say, but let us worship for a moment."
An assortment of individuals from many races made their way to the front, right underneath the stage. Though not formally trained, a volunteer choir began to clear their throats. Their director, a Goriya named Merton, paid close attention to his leader.
Looking down at her short friend, she then began to freely strum her lute as the crowd quieted to listen. With no arrangement yet, Beth kept the unwritten agreement with Merton to keep chords predictable before beginning songs.
"Echo me on this one! We're only doing one, so make it count today!"
And so the faithful (or at least those who were able) joined her in song. Using a bit of magic to amplify her instrument and a bit of science to make use of the acoustics the sanctuary gave her naturally, a call and response chant started.
In His name we are free Free to do as we please In His name we are burdened Burdened to share this freedom with all In His name we are bold Bold to speak the truth And this truth holds no one back No one back from dark blessings!
These blessings are coming Coming sooner than we thought In His name we are rewarded Rewarded in full for our prayers Though our prayers are nothing Nothing without works to back them We made our Lord smile And His way we prepare!
Applause rang out. Those who couldn't speak the language used their own translation or let their voices ring in whatever manner was best. And after the music had ended, Elizabeth delivered the final part of her address to the Eclipse.
"I didn't tell you all the whole story yet about what happened last night. There were visions, seen through the tarnished eyegates of Fallen Light. Castle Town was hungry for my blood. They wanted to put my head on a pike and parade it around more so than usual after leaving countless dead. Taking refuge in the Fine Goods Emporium, one of my visions came true!"
Energies had hit an off-kilter rate within those gathered. She had paused for about half a minute while pacing.
"What did you see?"
"I saw my certain demise if I stayed in Castle Town for too long in the open. But no ways were presenting themselves other than the sewers. Another way literally fell from the sky, on top of me. And someone who at first wanted to try to fight me. He is here now, strangely enough. Our Fallen Light works in ways we cannot begin to fathom. A Hylian guard asked me to follow her as I heard many soldiers marching nearer. After being soaked in the products of battle and admittedly off my usual pace, it was better to follow than to have a last stand. After all, martyrdom is not what makes us who we are!"
Beth thought carefully as to what she would say next. Of course, VIPs and those under her personal protection sometimes meant prisoners or spoils of battle. She had to throw them off the scent while still telling a good tale.
"So I carried one of the messengers who fell on me and ran to the Fine Goods Emporium. While planning my next course of action, none other than the Dark Father himself appeared before me!
The crowd literally fell silent for a moment before roaring louder than ever before. They didn't ask for proof, but Beth showed them her latest acquisition.
"He told me I had done well. And He gave me this. A timeshift stone. Ancient magicks power this, and it allowed me and all who entered into Sanctuary this morning to safely escape Castle Town on high alert. These are incredibly hard to come by, and from what I know of them they had been crafted by a people who are our antithesis. But if not for this profane providence, there is a good chance we would not be speaking right now. Of course, he melded back into a disguise, and I have not seen Him since rising from my chambers to speak to all of you. But the time came much sooner than we all thought. This is why we are called to action and why we are to stop hiding what we do behind closed doors!"
Roaring at a ferocity to match the crowd, Elizabeth raised the Timeshift Stone to the sky and shouted to conclude her speech.
"Our Father walks among us! The way has been prepared! Now is the time!"
Lifting her face to the sky and uttering her own prayers, the faithful could barely be contained. She didn't move from her spot, and she was breathing heavily in excitement.
Alauth!Arand/Afternoon 3/Crimson Sanctuary Pulpit
A slow, quiet clap came from behind the pulpit. At first, none noticed the noise for the uproar in the room and the clap went unheard. But when Arand emerged from behind the curtains, the few in front noticed and a murmur of quiet began and was spread backward to the rest of the crowd. The congregation wanted to know what more Bloody Beth had for them after such a rousing sermon. Arand had a sarcastic smirk.
"Oh, bravo, bravo," she began, speaking directly to Beth. "Such a well done speech." She then turned to those gathered. "Tell me, do you always swallow her words wholesale? Do you follow without question, and take her every utterance for unassailable fact? Do you not rise up a cry, 'Give us the proof of your claims!'? Do you think this is what your Dark Father desires? A flock of sheep?"
She laughed, cruelly. "Or do you think he would not prefer a pack of wolves?"
Her hand gestured to Beth. "This is your alpha wolf? And how does she come to hold this position? Through some god-given right? Some blessing from a higher being? Is that not the exact manner by which King Hyrule claims his throne? You would mimic your enemy? Is there a difference between the Golden Goddesses giving him power to control your lives, or the Fallen One giving such power to Elizabeth Bryce?
"I say, no. There is not a difference. Elizabeth Bryce does not rule by divine power, she rules because you let her. And as long as you let her, she will rule. And why do you let her?"
By now, Arand had made her way to Elizabeth's side. "You let her rule because she is stronger than you." Arand gestured to Beth's sword, and the cult leader unsheathed it, raising it above her head in a gesture of strength and power. "And why is she stronger than you?"
Arand lowered her head, and closed her eyes. When she opened them and raised her head, it was no longer the face of Henrietta Arand upon which the listeners gazed, and it was no longer her eyes which gazed back at them. It was a face of sinister divinity. Behind her, a pair of decrepit wings blossomed in a ragged heap.
"She is stronger than you because I give her that strength." And the crowd erupted once more in an uproar. They were barely quieted by gestures from the being addressing them. "But know that strength is imparted to each one of you, for your faith. Any of you can be Elizabeth Bryce. And of your can be The Scourge of Hyrule. You need only act. But do not act because you are told. Do not act because it is expected of you. No, my children. Act because you want to act! Act because you must act!"
And in an instant, the form of Henrietta Arand was returned to the stage. She turned her back on to the crowd and walked by Elizabeth back to the curtains. As she passed, she murmured, "When you've finished with these zealots we must speak. Find me." With that, she departed.
Elizabeth/Crimson Sanctuary/Afternoon 3
The Dark Father was unpredictable at best. The fact that he came earlier than the prophecies foretold still had Elizabeth not feeling very good about the job she'd done so far preparing the way. But in the end, she was doing her job. Her prayers felt distant concluding her sermon, and her energies were tapping out. Perhaps because He was here instead of in his Realm, things would need to be recalibrated.
Listening to what He was saying, she was concerned that He was testing the faithful. Always fearing a schism, she wanted to retort, but knew better. Changing the message at the end relieved Beth after almost becoming infuriated that her position was brought low or even compared to the King of Hyrule.
'We are all Elizabeth Bryce.'
This alone would empower those who felt held back by anything. Often her faithful would ask "What would Beth do?" when facing difficulties. If it was an individual, the solution was to dominate, subjugate, intimidate, kill, and so forth. The liberties that Crimsonite beliefs empowered were endless.
As the Dark Father walked off, Beth nodded in agreement with Him and brought the crowd together for a few more songs.
"And so we are blessed beyond measure by His presence this day! I lied, we are going to celebrate further with more music. Merton! Strike it up!"
They all sang louder than ever before. Those who did play instruments for the Order let their praises ring out for miles. It was empowered to the point that the Gerudo Fortress could hear it. Another chapter was to begin in the story of this band of liberated sinners.
Letting the band and choir take it from where she left off, Elizabeth went looking for where her Lord could be. The guards and caretakers didn't dare lift a finger as to where He could or couldn't go. Eventually one of the custodial slaves, a young Zora male, pointed her in the direction of the library.
Nerisse could be seen in the distance as Elizabeth ran full sprint toward her most precious Archives. They weren't as extensive as those she grew up in, but she had amassed quite a decent collection in five years. Looking back at her companion, Beth motioned for her not to follow into the library when they both arrived.
She didn't even knock. The door quickly opened, Beth slipped through, and shut it, locking it behind her. Arand was pacing about looking at the artwork and tomes accumulated. This was a place devoted to the faith as well as sinners' secrets. Approaching her Lord, she knelt.
"My Lord, your faithful are emboldened beyond confidence. What may I do to evangelize your dark mysteries further?"
Alauth!Arand/The Crimson Library/Afternoon 3
Arand returned the book she had been skimming to its place on the shelves as Beth entered the library and knelt before her.
"My Lord, your faithful are emboldened beyond confidence. What may I do to evangelize your dark mysteries further?"
Arand shook her head at the fiery-maned woman. How easy she was to trick, how readily she was willing to believe that which she wanted to believe. It was almost laughably easy to play the part, piecing together what Alauth had learned of the Scourge through rumors and through the brief time they had been together in person. For as smart as she was, she was so very naive. Arand began to pace a circle around the kneeling woman.
"I have some handful of questions for you, Bryce, and I want you to tell me everything you may have ever learned about the subjects I ask. First, answer me this..." She stopped behind Beth and leaned down close, breathing a scarce whisper directly into Beth's ear.
"Do you know of the Ma?"
Elizabeth/Crimson Library/Afternoon 3
"What do you know of the Ma?"
Given that since the Dark Father was trapped in the Twisting Nether for a good while, catching up on history was not a bad idea. Still, it would have been her version of it, and she had to be truthful. Lying to her deity was not exactly a wise decision. Per doctrine, lying to unbelievers was perfectly legitimate. But not to fellow members of the Eclipse.
Elizabeth stayed kneeling and closed her eyes to search back through her memories of childhood.
"As you wish, my Lord. Centuries ago, led by an incredibly influential being called Demise, the Ma drove all who were capable of flight to the sky, where they remained for many years. Subjugating and dominating the surface dwellers and those unfortunate enough to remain here, the Ma were evil personified. They originally were imprisoned within Hyrule itself. I am of the belief that the Golden Goddesses created our plane as a prison for them as they could not be contained elsewhere. But when they were able to break out, everything changed..."
Beth went on to elaborate further on events that transpired with the Hero of Time, the Princess, and the epic battle fought in days long gone.
"My Lord, eventually they were beaten back by this overwhelming force and imprisoned once more. Not without heavy casualties. Still, those of Hylian blood did begin to find their way back to the surface. Skyloft still exists, but it is nowhere near the kingdom it used to be. If the seal were ever to be broken again, especially with how volatile things are on the surface right now, nobody could stop them. There is no Hero, there is no Princess, and no Divine Champions."
Opening her eyes, Elizabeth looked up and rose to her feet.
"What other histories intrigue you, my Lord?"
Alauth!Arand!Dark Father/Crimson Library/Afternoon 3
Alauth made an internal sigh. Aside from the details regarding Demise final... demise at the hands of this Hero and Princess, there didn't seem to be anything that Bryce could tell it regarding the past. It had been worth the asking, at least. There were only two seeds left to plant, but care would have to be taken in that regard.
"Now, my child, I want to hear it said in your own words - Who, what, am I?"
Alauth listened to the response, to use the information in better portraying this new persona, and to craft its plans for subverting the faith of this zealout heretic. When Bryce had finished speaking, Arand asked the final question, to start the wheels turning in Beth's head.
"And, finally, a philosophical question. The answer you give may be simple, but I want you to ruminate over the implications."
By now, Arand had paced Beth a few more times, and she came to a stop in front of her, to meet her gaze for this last moment.
"Do you believe in destiny, Elizabeth Bryce?"
Elizabeth/Crimson Library/Afternoon 3
Where her Lord was headed with all of this was befuddling to Beth. He knew quite well who He was. This had to be a test.
"Dark Father, you are the Oni of Light. I dare not speak your true name. In the beginning there were Six Elements of Origination. You are the Original Light. While most of the Elemental beings retained their purity, the eternal struggle between Shadow and Light has created instability within adherents to opposing Elemental paradigms. I, like you, were once inherently good. But after tasting sin and flourishing in its embrace, you found new life in Fallen Light. There is no Damnation for those who believe in you, my Lord. We are the forsaken, and in You we will turn both moon and sun to sanguine shades. We follow your example in falling from grace to embrace redemption in your own profane salvation."
Destiny was a core value Elizabeth adhered to strongly. After all, she stood before the being she sought after for years. The one who led her to the past.
"Destiny? My whole belief in you is based on that very attribute, my Lord. It is you who called me to obtain the Starborn Edge. By faith I took it in hand knowing it very well could kill me. Instead, one of its safeguards backfired. I was lost in time and space for almost 3 Hylian months, for I counted the days. I walked by faith, traveling to five different planes of existence to assemble the Apocryphal Seal's materials. You gave me insight to kill, steal, swindle, and destroy my way to all five warding essences. Afterward, you took the blade and applied the Seals to it. You named it. And then you presented me with the Great Calling of sacrificing ten thousand souls to you by slaying all who oppose you with the very diamond-sharp edges. In Your name, my Lord, I follow the destiny you have given unto me. And I have cultivated followers who long to share in the Destiny of Profane Salvation. Yes, my Lord. I believe. Very much so."
Elizabeth took extra care to be elaborate. If this was a test, she had to do her very best to keep the passing score. She worried that the others He brought with Him could be replacements for her. After all, she did only lead because He allowed it. Had she failed him?
Elizabeth/Crimson Library/Afternoon 3
Epica - Unholy Trinity
While in her contemplative state, Elizabeth received a vision of mayhem in Hyrule Field. Her mental state was in question, of course, but she had a feeling that attacking Lon Lon Ranch would cripple the Hylians quite effectively. Cows being led away by Bloody Raiders, ranch hands being subjugated, and horses being repurposed all flooded her mind's eye. She had to release the panic.
"Master, have you further need of my intellect here? I have received a spark of inspiration to further your will. We must gather a band of raiders and ride at once."
Elizabeth cleared her throat and tempered her boldness a moment.
"I presume too early. If there is need elsewhere I will answer your call first and foremost."
Her Lord paced around her for a few more minutes in silence. To fear Him was healthy in its own right. But why did He want this information if he already knew it? Being imprisoned in the Twisting Nether was its own form of pain, but it shouldn't have closed anyone out to the surrounding planar happenings. After all, there was the journey of the Five Essences. And the Forging of Apocrypha.
"My child, I would like to see how you carry out your vengeance first hand. We can speak more of these things later. Your boldness is forgiven this time. But do not presume we are finished until I declare it as such!"
Looking deep into Beth's eyes, a burning ranch being plundered told it all. He nodded at her and then shifted back into the familiar form of Henrietta Arand.
Elizabeth had murder in her eyes once more. It was time to unleash the first part of her open unrest among the land.
Emerging from the Library, Nerisse stood down the corridor nearby. Elizabeth motioned her to come closer and revealed the plan. If her next job was to come soon, she would do her best to fit it in on the way. This plan was important to her, even though it came in a vision of maddening fixation.
"Gather the finest of our raiders. I want a company small enough to go unnoticed riding openly at nightfall, but good enough to cause problems for Lon Lon Ranch. If the soldiers come, we do enough damage and then retreat into darkness. But if a major threat comes, leave me and Arand to deal with it. The rest of you should keep riding to Lon Lon. Can I count on you for this, Nerisse?"
Her eyes widened and she nodded.
"Elizabeth, I will ride with you, but I will not risk openly committing an act of war just yet. If you need a fall back point, I will make sure your escape is covered. After all, General Namira won't be able to help you if I am put at too much risk."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes reluctantly and motioned for Nerisse to proceed with the plan. She then returned to her quarters to gather the rest of her essentials. Adding the scimitars to her arsenal and bringing the glaive as a horse-mounted addition, she had provisions waiting for her thanks to cultists who had overheard what she was up to. And a band of about eight were waiting in their staging area. Hylians, Gerudo, Bokoblin, and a few Lynels.
She went over the plan again with all assembled. Any major threats were to be handled by Elizabeth and Arand alone and the rest were to keep riding toward the objective. The ride would be hard through the desert and the pace would be grueling. A fall back point was established in Southern Hyrule Field near some of the natural clefts in the terrain. Of course, Elizabeth had grottos she knew about from her four years of traveling the land. And Nerisse was aware of one of them just in case things went wrong.
"We ride out to Eclipse all hope! Kill! Steal! Destroy!"
Tenebrous led the way with a cloaked Elizabeth riding him. The others rode at a full gallop under the setting desert sun. It was sticky, hot, and incredibly unpleasant. And the creatures that would normally cause issues with the band of raiders had not quite stirred from their daytime slumber. Perfectly timed flashes of light from Nerisse kept border patrols away from the group as well.
There wasn't much conversation during the ride. Everyone was focused on staying together and keeping up the pace. Before they all knew it, night had fallen in full and they had made it to the brushlands on desert's border. Horses were watered, bowels were relieved, and a light meal was had as the group mounted back up and rode out toward the final objective. In the distance from what limited lunar light offered, the ranch was undisturbed.
Xiaber/Crimson Sanctuary /Dusk 3
If you are reading this, then I must not have made it all the way. It is most urgent that you get back to Hyrule Castle Town as soon as possible for many reasons, the most important being your safety. You were knocked out by that woman you were chasing and I had to go drag you out of trouble.
The boy stopped and looked at what he had written so far. He had never tried to physically communicate with himself before. He would always just send out thoughts and emotions, which was how Xiaber was able to chase after Beth to begin with. He sighed, trying to think of how to write his strange message
Don’t worry about me. If I got in trouble, you probably wouldn’t even be reading this. Just please, go back to Castle Town…
After writing what else Xiaber should do, the boy reread it all and, finding it adequate enough, folded up the paper and used candle wax to seal it. It was a good thing he didn’t break his right arm, or writing the letter would have been a lot harder. Sticking the letter into his pouch, he took out his right knuckles and put them on.
He tried to take a step towards the door, but almost fell over from fatigue. “It’s becoming more likely he’ll have to get there himself.” Another sigh escaped his lips.
While he walked through the corridors, the other pedestrians ignored him. It wasn’t until he got outside that he was stopped. “Wait!” Two guards blocked his path. “What are you out here for?”
“I need to train.” A finger is pointed at the bow on his back.
The other guard looked at the sling on his arm. “You’re using a bow with one hand?”
“I really need to train. I hear the creatures in the desert are rather interesting.” The hand with the knuckles on slowly becomes a fist. “You do realize it’s almost night,” the first guard said. “The day may be hot, but the night is freezing.”
“I like the cold. Besides, I initially came here by night. I think I can handle it.”
The two guards looked at each other. The second one shrugs his shoulders. “I’d be interested in how your training turns out. Tell me all about it when you return.” They got out of the way to let him through.
“Yeah, will do.” A wave goodbye was all he did before walking into the desert.
Xiaber/Gerudo Desert/Night 3
Sand, sand and more sand; that’s all that lay before him. Xiaber wasn’t paying attention to all the sand though, he was staring up at the stars. The stars represented the guiding light out of the desert, figuratively and literally. They and the moon gave him light to see in front of him, but more importantly, they were a compass for him.
When Beth led him and the others to the sanctuary, he had glanced up at the stars to check on the direction they were going. He desperately hoped that going the opposite way would lead him back out. There was no way he would be able to find his way back to the sanctuary again.
His feet were starting to feel like jelly. If only he could just stop for a second… but no, he can’t do that. If he rests, he’s done for.
His eyes start to close as he gives off a great yawn. If only he could just stop for a second… but no, he can’t do that. If he rests, he’s done for.
-several hours later-
“heh heh heh heh,” Xiaber chuckled as he continued his walking. He had no idea why he was laughing. Did it matter? What DID matter? Oh, that’s right, getting out matters. Matters to him? Not really. But really, it does matter to him.
“Just a few more steps and I’ll be out. Just a few more steps,” he repeatedly mumbled in between every chuckle. The miles of sand around him contradicted this. He kept staring at the stars, though. The stars never moved. Maybe he wasn’t moving either. Maybe the ground was moving as he just stood there. Maybe nothing was moving at all. It was all the same to him as he chuckled and mumbled, putting each foot in front of the other. Left, right, left, right…
Strange movement? Why would there be movement near him? He should be all alone. But the sand was being pushed to the side as a worm-like monster came out of the ground. How did he notice the moving sand if he was staring up at the sky? Oh, he wasn’t? That’s not good. “You- you made me lose track,” Xiaber pointed a finger at the monster, the wrong finger. He yelped as he put his broken arm back in the sling. “Hey, quit laughing at me!” That wasn’t the monster chuckling, though. Annoyed, Xiaber went up and punched the worm. It died pretty easily. He forgot there was a weapon on his hand. He grunted before saying, “serves you right.”
Before he could look back up at the sky, though, the sand started moving again, moving all around him. It looked like a whole colony of the worm creatures came out to play. There was even more laughter. The ones in front started to spin before charging at the boy. He ran at the one directly in front, punching it as he jumped over the dying body.
He took one of the rarely used throwing knives and threw it at the next unlucky worm. Monster after monster charged in and died. But with each dead body, the laughter grew louder. Finally, all the worms charged at him at the same time from every angle. He took out his bow and, acting like it was a bat, hit them all away from him. “Stop it, stop it!” He shouted as every creature was sent flying. There were none left, but the laughter continued.
Xiaber began to run, run away from it all. The laughter chased after him, though. The sand was so hard to run through. He could feel his feet sink in like an anchor, not wanting to be removed. The sand began to get higher up on his legs. His feet were so hard to lift. But the laughter was still chasing him. He can’t stop. If he rests, he’s done for.
But he had to rest. He fell to the ground and the laughter finally stopped. He had failed. But at least he had a nice wet ground to soothe his body. But the desert isn’t wet. He tried to think of why the ground would be wet, but he gave up. He was too tired.