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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:59 am 
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Ashley sees that Alice understands the situation, and she returns to being sympathetic.
"Don't worry too much about it. You didn't end the world or anything."
Once they return to the house, Ashley rounds up the girls.
"It occurred to me that some of you girls probably still have parents out there, or somewhere for you to go. Who might they be?"
Four of the girls' hands go up.
"Alright. We'll set out after lunch."
(Cue lunch)
They signal to the man serving today's watch atop the walls to open the gate, and he spits down at Ashley but it is raised and the group all set out, back into the rest of the world.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:30 pm 
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After lunch, they leave Garith to get some of the girls to their remaining relatives. Or at least that's the plan. After that encounter with the soldiers from yesterday, who knows if the other towns and villages are still unoccupied?
After walking into the general direction of their destination for a few minutes, it slowly seems to get darker. Alice stops. It's noon... Is it going to rain? She looks at the sky. She needs a few seconds to realize what she's seeing.
"Wh... what... what is this?"
The moon is slowly moving in front of the sun, blocking its light. The moon. At noon.
After it has moved right in front of it, it appears to just stop and stay there, plunging everything into a dim, unsettling twilight.
"What... is going on..."



Loring averts his gaze from the artificial solar eclipse. Hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, he won't have to bear this sight for more than a week. Hopefully... ...but is it really possible to keep these creatures under control? Creatures many magnitudes more powerful than a human could ever possibly become? What if...
"...no... It was the right decision. The only decision. There was no other choice."
Have faith...


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:01 am 
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Ashley notices the sun being obscured by the moon, and eventually has to avert her eyes because of the searing brightness.
"I've heard about something like this before, I think it's called an eclipse. They said it would never happen, though, at least not for hundreds of years - what in the world is going on?"
Ashley isn't sure what to do, but she tries to keep the girls under control and keep moving, despite the worry about what is going on in the sky.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:03 pm 
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Alice shudders.
"How... how long will it last...?"
Whatever exactly this is, she doesn't like it. It's neither completely dark, nor completely light - it just... feels wrong. An unsettling kind of wrong.
Regardless, considering they can't do anything about it, they keep going onwards. After a while, they arrive at Minahr, the town where some of the inhabitants of Alice's home village had relatives.
"They've been here, too... ...but how..."
The partially torn up corpses of Zangan's soldiers are scattered all over the ground, bathed in their own blood. Mixed among them are the corpses of a few civilians, who seem to have been slaughtered just as brutally. There's not a single live soul to be found on the streets. Once again, Alice's stomach turns upside down, and she has to avert her gaze.
"What happened here...?"


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:00 am 
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Ashley notices that Alice is still restless because of the eclipse. "I'm not sure... It's based on the movements of the sun and the moon, so it can't be too long... surely..."
They then manage to arrive at a village, and as it was with Garith, slain corpses belonging to Zangan's army are to be found around... but there's no evidence that this village did it at all. Everyone else has been brutally mangled as well. What on Earth is going on?
"I... I have no idea... it seems like something much stronger than a man or woman has done this... I'm really lost for words..."
She remembers that she has the girls in her company, so realising that there's no reason to stay here, she immediately tries to move the whole group away from the town.
"Well, where now from here? It might be futile going to any other villages, although Garith might have managed to hold out."

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 10:05 pm 
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"This... this is terrible... Who is capable of such a thing? Who could... slaughter so many people..."
This... is actually worse than what happened to her home. Her home was destroyed and the inhabitants killed... ...but the inhabitants of this village have been mangled, humiliated. Whoever did this wasn't satisfied with simply killing them.
However...
"W... wait... Maybe... Maybe someone survived. We can't be sure that they're all dead just because the village border... ...looks like this..."
Feeling a sudden burst of determination, she turns towards Ashley. She worries about the safety of the girls they left behind at the mansion, but if Garith managed to repel all attacks up to this point, there's no reason why they wouldn't be able to hold out even longer. ...hopefully. Still...
"I'm aware this might be dangerous, but... If there's even just a slim chance of their relatives having survived... I would like to act on it."


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:32 am 
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"Alright. But I don't want to let the girls with us see anything they shouldn't, and for obvious reasons, I can't just leave them here, or let you go alone."

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:06 pm 
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"Then... What should we do? We can't--"
"It's fine. If you can cope with this, so can we."
"We'll just wait here, and run back to Garith if something happens. But... Please be careful, okay? Especially you, Alice. You know you're not good with magic, so don't think--"
"I know. I'm not planning on picking a fight if someone... ...or something... ...is still there."
Apparently satisfied with this reply, the girls look filled with courage. But... will they really be fine?
"Alright... The more quickly we get this over with, the less likely it is that something happens. ...let's go, Ashley."
And so they cautiously enter the village, looking for survivors. Alice has trouble to remain calm between all the corpses, but somehow manages. The two of them peek into the houses from outside the windows, but the interior of the houses doesn't look any better than the outside. Corpses, blood and destruction everywhere...
But in that one... Something moves! Who is it? Who... what... w-what...
Alice turns away and stares into nothingness for a moment, pale and shocked. This can't be real, right? That... that thing... A vaguely humanoid shape with pitch-black skin, smeared with blood... Feeding on a human corpse like a savage animal... Tearing off entire limbs with its vicious claws... ...something like this couldn't possibly exist, right? She reluctantly forces herself to take another look. It's not just her imagination. It's really there.
Then it turns its head and returns her stare with its empty, expressionless eyes.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:09 am 
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Ashley clambers into the ruined household with the girls who'd come along in hand, but before she can even look at anything else, she finds a hunched monstrosity with ebony skin and empty, piercing white eyes. It turns from its feast, which is the remains of a deceased human, and stares Ashley right in the eyes. Its gaze is locked with hers, and she is too terrified to bring her vision away from the creature. Over the shock, her pounding heart tells her that there is danger right ahead. She falters for the slightest moment, shuddering, lightly but clearly saying...
"Run."
And then she is immediately swatted backwards by the thing, as it moves with inhuman speed and precision. She flies back, barely avoiding bowling over the girls as she tumbles and rolls in the creature's wake.
"Run! Get back to Gareth!"
I'm glad this thing is not averse to toying with its prey... She thinks, gruffly, as she desperately tries to get back on her feet and retain a stance which could help her defend herself. She'll have to rely on pure instincts if she wants to avoid becoming its next meal.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:07 pm 
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Suddenly, however, the abomination shifts its attention to Ashley instead. Again they only stare at each other for a few moments - but then the monstrosity suddenly lunges forward and knocks Ashley away several meters, as if she were nothing but a doll.
"Ashley!!"
Alice is told to run. She wants to run. But she can't just run away while Ashley is in danger! ...what would she do if after all of this, she were to lose Ashley as well? If she just were a competent mage...!
...she has to try. While the other girls do as they are told and begin to run away, Alice begins to focus, materializing magical energy in front of her. However, unlike any previous attempt, the black orb of energy grows larger and larger, after a few seconds becoming nearly as large as Alice herself. How...? ...no, that doesn't matter right now. It's exactly what she both wanted and needed right now.
Without hesitation, she flings the huge sphere of energy at the demon.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:22 am 
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As the otherworldly abomination bares down on Ashley, Alice decides not to heed her warning and attacks the monster with her own strange powers. At first, Ashley's inner voice curses, thinking that Alice has just put herself in more danger, but when the significantly-sized energy ball crashes into the thing and sends it stumbling back, clutching and scratching at its head, Ashley is grateful. At least she knows this thing can be hit.
"You're lucky that worked, Alice... don't trust your luck when you go against instructions.
...But thanks. You did save me."

As the monster sways, Ashley wants to see if it can't be damaged further, so she picks up some pace, jumps low, and uses her momentum while doing a reverse roundhouse kick to focus all of her energy into the heel of her boot, which she drives into the head of the demon.
Thud.
The creature barely flinches, barely turns its neck. The force is largely absorbed into it, and Ashley immediately feels both a sinking feeling and a very large pain in her leg. Kicks this forceful aren't supposed to just hit what they're aimed at, they're supposed to knock it hard.
". . ."
Then, a sound somewhat like a low-pitched guttural growling can be heard, and Ashley is immediately smacked to the side by the sinewy arm of the creature. In another second, it has leaped to where she landed and continues to batter her. Ashley is wounded, bruised and aching. There is nothing she can do to stop the creature now.
So... this is it. Is that it? I never got to... to clear my... family's name.
I'm really... going to die here...

The breeze goes deathly still, Ashley holds what she worries may be her final breath.
Rearing its arms above her, the demon is poised to deliver a final strike. It finishes arcing back, prepares to swing...

But then, a strange buzzing is heard.
Red bindings appear and keep the monster's limbs held back, unable to bring death down.
In the distance, the thundering of two horses galloping echoes across the plain.
A brilliant crimson halberd materialises in the skies and plunges itself into the restrained monster!
It smashes the thing backwards, sending it tumbling to the ground not unlike Ashley when she first was attacked by it.
As she staggers to her feet, the sounds of hooves draw nearer and nearer until a double horse-cart containing many people, including the girls who heeded her warning to run, rides into Ashley's view.
"Ashley! Quickly, get in! You, girl - Alice! You as well! You might not get another chance!"
"T-Tom... Thanks..." Ashley staggers over to the cart and Tom and the others help her clamber in, before they grab Alice as well. After this, the driver quickly urges the horses in the other direction, back to Garith.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:40 pm 
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And the sphere hits its intended target... ...though it doesn't seem to be any stronger than before despite the difference in size. Damn, then what is the meaning of this!?
"I don't care - after all of this, I'm not leaving you behind!"
But the demon doesn't really seem to care either. After receiving another blow from Ashley, it simply smacks her down and batters her like mad. It's going to kill her. Alice stares at the scene in shock, paralyzed by her sheer helplessness. Why can't she do anything? Why are all of her efforts always so futile? Where did this creature even come from? What the hell!

But suddenly, a strange buzzing sound interrupts Alice's thoughts. Red bindings appear an keep the monster in check, leaving it unable to finish what it started. Wait, where did those even come from? What's going on? In the distance, the thundering of two horses galloping echoes across the plain. Then, without further warning, a brilliant crimson halberd materialises in the skies and plunges itself into the restrained monster! It's the first attack that actually seems to work - the monster isn't killed, but sent flying not unlike Ashley before. Finally, a double horse-cart containing many people, including the girls who escaped before, arrives.
"Ashley! Quickly, get in! You, girl - Alice! You as well! You might not get another chance!"
Seeing that Ashley made her way to the cart, Alice doesn't give it a second thought and climbs onto the cart as well. Immediately afterwards, the driver urges the horses in the other direction, back to Garith, away from this damned place. And... the driver is Thomas!?
"Thanks... If it weren't for you, we'd probably have died there."
Still unnerved, she adds:
"Haha... That's not the first time I've escaped death's grasp lately... And it was my own foolish idea to stay here and investigate, too. ...I should probably stop trying to be courageous when I have no reason to be..."


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:58 am 
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The cart trundles along at a steady pace, its occupants all finally able to catch their breath, free from the tension. At last, a robed man who had been facing in the direction of the monster lets out a large sigh and lowers his hands.
"That should be far enough. I doubt it'll pursue us any further."
Ashley sits up and looks around, coughing heavily and aching.
"Everyone... thankyou... so much."
The robed fellow removes the crimson hood and a surprisingly young face can be seen.
"Heh, you're lucky you're so good at what makes you reputable, Kennsford. I'd hate to see such a... talented lady die."
"Glen, that's a bit harsh." Tom, who is also there, punches him in the arm playfully. Unlike as first percieved, he is only an attendee; there is another person at the reins. He turns around.
"I still don't believe they convinced me to ride out for you. Can't believe they turned me against my favourite saying... never trust an oracle." He doesn't state his name, but his rugged grey beard is rather identifiable.
"Oh, that's right. Ashley never told you, did she?" Tom says, turning to Alice and smiling his gapped smile.
"I'm a visionary, a clairvoyant, you might say. Rarely what it's made out to be, but it did save your life. I saw you leaving to help out the girls and the monsters descending, so I assembled whoever could come that was capable. It's a good thing Glen's got such talent."
"How many do I owe you now, Tom? You've covered my sorry rear that many... times now..."
"Chalk it up to my kind heart." Ashley laughed through her wheezes and coughs.
"Try not to talk if you can, Miss Kennsford," says another familiar voice. It's John, the healer Ashley and Alice visited earlier this morning.
"You could have some damage to your breathing. I'm sure you want to pursue other interests, but I will insist that you let me inspect your wounds."
Ashley lies back, the four girls and Alice nearby. She's unbearably glad that she managed to make it out alive... to have the knowing that it is the end turned on its back again within a minute or two is playing hell with her emotional state. She decides to heed John's words and gives in to the exhausted sleep as the walls of Gareth come back into view.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:39 pm 
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But there actually are new faces on the cart; a surprisingly young robed man who apparently goes by the name 'Glen', and a significantly more aged man with a rugged gray beard who, unlike she first thought, is actually responsible for controlling the cart - Thomas seems to be here for another reason. He's a clairvoyant? ...the people in Garith don't seem to be as ordinary as Alice first thought.
"I... see..."
A powerful mage... A clairvoyant... Even 'just' a healer! Ashley can at least defend herself... ...why is Alice herself the only one who can't seem to do anything? Day after day, she feels more and more useless. Always is she amongst the ones who need saving, who can't save anyone else and only get themselves into even more trouble by trying to be useful when they aren't. She can't take it. If she can't return to a peaceful life, at least she should be able to take care of herself!
"You... Glen... That just now was your doing, right? If you're a mage that powerful, would you mind teaching me? I know some bare basics, but it just doesn't seem to be enough... I don't want to always have to rely on others..."


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:24 pm 
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The gates open without so much as a signal - it seems like the more reputable of the cart's inhabitants managed to cause a decent amount of alarm in Garith. The group trundles on through, riding into the town square. John and Tom help Ashley disembark, and she leans on both of their shoulders as they start to head towards the clinic. Ashley catches wind of Alice speaking down on herself, and stops to interject.
"Hey... Alice... *cough!* Don't be too hard on yourself. That creature was more than a match for any one of us alone." After this, the trio continue to hobble off.
"Yeah, she's right. I caught a glimpse of that energy ball you mustered up, you're not as bad as you make it out to be." Glen hops off the cart and leads the girls down. They ask to follow Ashley and make sure she's okay.
"But teaching you, eh? It feels a bit strange to consider a disciple at my ripe, young age." This last part is said with a smirk. His mid-length, straight chocolate brown hair flutters a little in the wind, and he pats Alice on the shoulder reassuringly.
"I guess I could help out, teach you some stuff. Our fields might be a little different, though. I can give Kennsford a bit of help at the same time - if the stories I heard about how many girls she's got under her wing now are true, she could certainly use it."

"Let's see here... yes, you are quite badly injured. Looks like you've taken quite a beating on the surface. Lots of little cuts and bruises all over you. There is also that you're badly winded, but everything like that can just be recovered with a good rest. From what I can tell, you've got a dislocated knee too, but we can fix that up here. It's going to hurt, though."
Ashley grimaces, but raises the leg she knows is the one that's dislocated.
"Just... get it over with, if you please."
"Mister Halberry, (Thomas) would you mind holding her leg down? It will make it easier to get her leg back into the joint."
"Sure thing, Doc. Oh... girls, you might not want to watch this. It can be pretty unnerving, trust me." Thomas addresses the four girls by Ashley's side.
"I wonder how the other girls are doing... to think they'll have no idea about any of this."

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