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Harl Dee Prime-Guard, how that brought him such pride when he was first called it. A monument he thought to all his hard work, keeping those in his charge safe and together through their many trails with death. Now as he listened to one Scout after the other reporting of tunnels under assault. With passages already breached and beginning sealed. Tunnels he was told would last Rotations, instead of crumbling within mere Rounds. Those who swore to him they would last were the first ones to abandon him and his men. At the mention of trouble, they showed their true forms. He saw it now, this title was a curse, a ticket to death. Away to get rid of one who may have gained too much of the Soulless loyalty.

‘Schemers and cowards, they’ve doomed us all, yet again.’ He could feel Anger, its heat growing in his chest. Wanting nothing more than to straggle those running, to force them to the front lines. Breathing out he pushed Anger down as he’s done countless times before. He calmed and center himself, those under his watch needed him now more than ever. He couldn’t afford to let Anger cloud him, for thoughts of revenge to blind him. He would lead his guards through this trail, shield as many as he could. As many as the Giver will give him the strength to save.

He called to Scouts that appeared rested enough to carry a message to his forward Guards. They didn’t hesitate or delay to answer his summon. “Your command Prime?” no bow or another showing of knowledge that he was above them followed. He held back a smile, already coming to like these so-called undertrained Scouts. Harl motioned them closer as he turned his attention to an Atlas of the tunnel network carved into a circular table. He pointed to the areas his men were posted, with orders to hold off any Nightmares that may appear. “I need a message sent to the front”, turning to face the Scouts. “Tell them they are to close all tunnels passed their positions. When complete they're to retreat back towards the Core.” He pulled out small crystalized coins with a symbol of his rank and authority stamped on the surface. Handing one to each Scout, allowing them to show their orders were authentic.

Looking to each “If you happened to come across Nightmares on your way to the front, you are to return here immediately, if your able close the passage as you retreat, do so.” Dismissing them he returned his attention to the Atlas, he wondered if he was wasting his time. If the blockade doors proved as weak as the walls themselves it would only bring them a few more Rounds. Or the Nightmares could tunnel around the doors altogether if it proved faster.

A slight cough gained his attention as more Scouts and Guards returned to give reports. Servants went to the table updating the map as they list off their details of the situation, all of it grim. Tunnel breaches were happening randomly and in mass. The walls even less protective than he had initially thought. From the corner of his eye, he saw some of the Scouts he had just sent returning breathless.

He didn’t need to hear their report to know the details, ordering what Guards he could spare Harl had them follow the Scouts, who were none too pleased about being sent out to meet Nightmares. Calling out loudly, “I want every blockade dropped into place, even if the tunnel appears safe. Get to the front lines tell your brothers, I want an immediate retreat to the Core.”

Palms wet, heart pounding, his blood boiling he had to close his eyes and calm himself. He wanted nothing more than to follow them, to make sure things would be carried out accordingly. But more Messengers kept coming in begging for orders, some sense of direction. As everything around them began to crumble away. ‘This place was always meant to be our grave, wasn’t it?’ he thought morbidly.

If he didn't have so many on his Guards towards the front, he would have already ordered a full evacuation of the Settlement. But he refused to leave so many to die, not while he still had time to save them.

To every scout that returned, he sent them away with the same message as before, retreat, and block the tunnels. All the while watching the Atlas, Servants in a frenzy carving into it, showing tunnel after tunnel lost to Nightmare. The attack from what he could see was organized, the Nightmares attacking from all side instead of a focused point.

When someone eventually made it to another Settlement spreading the news of this assault, it wouldn’t be long before this area was condemned. Never again will a Settlement be attempted here. Not that it had been much of an attempt, to begin with.

His knowledge of Wards was novice but he’d been around long enough to know now that the ones permeating these walls were, of lesser stock. He should have guessed when the more known Chanters fled at the mention of an assault.

‘Perhaps for the best’ he thought as the upcoming assault to abandon the Settlement would hinge greatly on their strength. A united frontal assault through the Nightmares in the direction towards another Settlement. Not ideal in the slightest but all they had. If the Wards had been better, to the standards he was told they were. He and his Guards would have mounted a defense. One that would have allowed the Chanters to tend to the walls, allowing them to recharge any Wards near to failing.

A quick glance around him showed that their own assault would soon begin. The Core rooms becoming crowded with the mass of citizens and supplies. He saw Vernac surrounded by his most trusted Acolytes reading themselves for the mad rush that will take place. Harl blood burned inside him looking upon the so-called Grand Chanter, who refused to use even a grain of his power to help the defenders. Instead, he ran as quickly as his legs could carry him to the Core. Harl had to look away before Rage got the better of him. Though Vernac was the very definition of a coward, he was still powerful, his Title sadly earned.

His Wrath well known to those who crossed him, even more so as Harl studied his new Servant Guards. The latest example of his reputation. The women will be put to good use, far better than what Vernac would have wasted them on. Though Harl felt pity for them, this wasn’t their domain, they hadn't trained most of their lives to fight. These Servants (which he was somewhat jealous of) spent their Rotations on maintenance, keeping clean the Warded areas. He doubted any of them had seen a Nightmare in person before.

Normally he would have had them at the front, tiring the enemy before his true guards came in for the kill. But these women, Zenjel, in particular, could perform Chants, their voices able to remove or hide the pain. A gift in the eyes of many, and one he was going to use to its fullest. ‘If only they had stronger Souls, able to launch life ending Chants.’ Harl was sure that most of his men would have had a chance to live then.

Even though the women, like all of their people had defense training, it was apparent they were long out of practice. Forcing some of his more kind-hearted men to spend their time retraining them. Not that it will do them much good, with the assault went the call for arms. Those first to arrive were given the best to choose from. Spears the favored weapon against Nightmares were all taken leaving mostly short swords, and clubs of iron.

‘They’ll do better than the Newborn’ he grimiest. Half didn’t seem to have any thought, just walking masses of meat. The others that gave signs that they lived, were so clueless, helpless that most will endure the same fate as the others. Only a few handfuls came out of the ritual with means to contribute to their society. Which would be collected now by the way things were heading. Even useful and quickly trained with the Hearts, he made sure the Newborn were only given short swords and maces. Their movements to clumsy, and too unrefined to be able to use a spear in tight quarters.

The rough grinding of stone came from one of the passages. Making his body tense, well used to that sound being the call for coming trails. Others, the weaker unused to facing their enemy even knew what it meant for a passage to be blockade this near to the core. Many of the Servants held each other, trying to find comfort in their likely end. ‘The Nightmares are eager this Cycle’ he thought as men followed his instructions falling into defensive positions.

Harl turned from the Atlas as things were already set in stone. The Settlement beyond any form of saving. Now they waited, once all the passages to the core where blocked he would commence their counterattack. He didn’t want the Nightmares to have any sense of which direction they were headed until the last moment.

It was going to be a mad dash from the Settlement for them to have a chance to reach safety. The last thing they needed was Nightmares packing in mass to slow their surge. Encircling them picking them off one by one, before a mass wave of fangs and claws descended upon them.

Listening to the sounds of stone moving into place from their tunnels. Harl knew it wasn’t going to be long before he and his men are going to face their Nightmare once more. ‘Giver please offer us some Mercy on this cycle of trails, please let those Worthy survive.’ His peace sent Harl ready himself going over his equipment, charging the spear that had seen him through all of deaths machinations. He waited, eyeing the final passage to close perform setting off.

_____________________________

Blinking his eyes, they opened to the warming lights of the sun streaming through Titanic-sized windows, as he laid within an equally large bed. Sighing in relief as he raised himself, content with looking at the wonders around him. Be it the women or the many lavish structures and furniture’s organized about. He felt at peace, and again as countless times before wished he could stay here for all eternity. No more tiresome lives of pain, or struggle, working to please others. All in the fools hope of getting some respect and power, perhaps the means to live comfortably.

Comfortably, his one goal, the only goal that seemed reasonable to achieve. What’s the point of conquering lands or spending one's days ruling over others if you’re going to die? Be reborn and find yourself at the bottom of the chain again. Mind you he never made it that far in any of the lives he had lived, normally stopped half way. But the process was still the same. He would waste most of his life either struggling to survive or to acquire more than he possibly could need. Then lose it again in a manner of seconds, then be born into another world with different rules to follow.

One of his wives hugged him from behind urging him to lean back and use her mass as a pillow. He almost lost himself in the moment, the situation common for the two of them in the past. But it broke as he focused on her, he knew she was his wife, but couldn’t remember her name. Worse was he didn’t remember her feature all that well either. Her face would change subtlety every now and then, his mind fighting a battle that was lost long ago.

Another sore spot to his situation, all he had ever done might be lost to him one day, doomed to repeat his mistakes for all eternity. That might not be all bad as many memories haunted him, or made life boring from repeated experiences. But the alternative was repeating bad decisions, leading to a life ending or torturous outcomes.

Looking around and snuggling deeper into his wife’s embrace he thought of a plan. ‘If I’m to exist then it might as well be enjoyable’. Not that hard of a concept, he doubted there were any beings out there that enjoyed unpleasant experience’s. His original course of killing himself until he arrived in a comfortable carefree life, at this point had failed miserably. In fact, as he looked back at memory lane, at the large picture of vagueness that remained. It was still clear enough that killing himself had done the exact opposite of what he wanted. His previous lives, though not perfect, were leagues better than the ones he was being born into now.

So killing himself was out, the easy way of doing things failed him. A scowl formed considering that thought, he wasn’t completely lazy he was willing to put in the work. But he enjoyed quick rewards for his effort, not the long drawn out schemes that may only offer results years in the future. That frustrated him and was possibly one of the reasons why he never ended up as a ruler over a vast swathe of land.

His new plan had to be simple, not only to see if it does make a difference in the quality of life he gets next time. But also so he won’t tire out and give up along the way. It had to be reasonably reachable with what he'd been given in his life. Right now he was a newborn child artificially matured, with a mind crammed with knowledge not his own. With limited information on how to fight an enemy, he knows nothing about. ‘No need to worry about suicide, when nature is already trying hard to kill me.’ He could only hope it didn’t count against him if he was forced to throw his life way.

With all that in mind, it wasn’t hard to see his goals for this life had to be basic, very basic, anything else would be wishful thinking. Comfortable, it all came back to that. That would be his goal in life, to live comfortably, enough food to eat, a roof over his head (which will be easy since they lived in tunnels), or maybe in an area covered in Runes, or Wards as they're called. A place to wash, that would be a priority as he hated the feel of defiled skin. A warm bed and a woman to share it with, that shouldn’t be hard to achieve. A nice basic bare-bones life, probably the most he could go for in this twisted world he now lived in.

All he had to do was survive the coming battle that he was sure to be thrown into. His fellow brothers in arms a bunch of freshly trained men with the minds of children. ‘Yes, nothing could go wrong with this setup’. Once he somehow survived, he’ll find a place to settle down at, if people like him are even allowed to. Then along the way, he’ll find some means to acquire the needed necessities of life and waste his years basking in comfort. Maybe have a child or two to keep things interesting, and help him with chores.

With all that figured out, he should wake, should start on his journey to comfort. Yet he remained laying on his wife pillow. He was comfortable at the moment after all and wasn’t all that sure how long he'd been asleep. He made it a habit to leave his dream only when the bells began to ring, and he had no choice in the matter but to return. Now was a rare moment to enjoy what life should be, completely carefree.

The dream a mirror of his desires and wants, acted in moments as his wives brought him plate after plate of his favored foods. Heavily spiced and fried accompanied by sweetened wine. He ate to his heart content, trying to sink into the moment to truly believe he was eating such wonders. But the food was the hardest of things to envision. Something missing, so subtle but important that the illusion would break no matter how hard he tried. He began caressing his wife pillow readying himself for more intimate pleasures when his surroundings began to shake.

The bells rang in quick succession, his dream crumbled, and the void of awareness swallowed him. Blinking wildly as he stared about he saw and focused on Aethin bent down pushing his shoulder.

Aethin trademark smile was plastered on his face as he woke the others.

He had a start when he noticed he was in the pyramid room, next to the mad women, who was already staring daggers at him. He shuffled further away from her, Aethin not noticing or caring about their odd exchange. Aethin still not saying a word placed plates of food at their sides. The woman lost all interest in him as she and the other child shoveled food into their mouths.

He too was hungry, starved in fact but took things slower as the sands of sleep still hung heavily on his eyes. Then the small but still annoying headache he had returned. Without even thinking he began to hum, sending the pain and other aches he hadn’t noticed, away. The other children reacted mildly to his spell, encouraging them to eat faster with their pains gone.

Aethin, on the other hand, was staring at the child intensely, if he had at that time looked up from his plate of food, he would have seen Aethin's wide smile. For now, Aethin left him, and the others in peace. Letting them eat to their heart's content. A rather surprising amount as they worked on their fourth and fifth plate of food. By then their pace was to a crawl taking more reserved bites.

He stopped first, even though he could eat more, he was little concerned where it was all going. He wasn't large after all. More importantly, the last thing he wanted was it all to come back up, if for some reason he had to run for his life. The other two weren’t hindered by such logic, probably being that they had no clue what it was or felt to throw up. They continued shoving one mouth full of food after the other taking pulps of water when they needed to.

He looked up at the ceiling, seeing that all the Wards were still white gave him a bit of peace. His new found knowledge gave him a clear indication of the flaws in the Wards. Namely when it came to stopping vibrations from traveling out into the stone. Walking around or making light conversation wouldn’t cause any problems for the Wards. But when it came to screaming, or loud noise in general these Wards before him weren't up to the task. This howled at him as an utter failure on the carver’s part. Either from a lack of knowledge (he doubted that) or them rushing the job to get under protection as fast as possible.

He couldn’t blame them completely if it was the latter. If these Wards were the only thing keeping them live, then the prospect of being out in a new tunnel chiseling into stone didn’t sound very ideal. Perhaps he should be thankful that the Wards were working at all, or hadn't yet failed when something began to pound on them. He felt uneasy though remembering that these tunnels he now resided in were of a superior craft. Making him shudder at the thought of what the other tunnels he had traveled looked like under his new gaze.

A soft clap broke his thinking as he and the other two (annoyed at being interrupted during their meal) stared at Aethin. Who in turn was walking towards them, stopping two arm’s length away. His hands behind his back, chest puffed up and his head tilted slightly upwards. He seemed to be trying to act official, someone of importance, which he might be.

With a pleased smile, Aethin looked at them “You all appear well, no problems?” Aethin eyed them waiting for an answer.

“Only a small headache, and tired,” he said when the other two showed no signs of speaking.

Aethin placed his full attention on him “Good, good” Aethin said, relaxing before taking on his serious domineer again. “That’s perfectly normal, nothing to concern yourself with, but if this pain continues after a few Rounds let me know." Aethin advised while beaming a charming smile at him and altogether ignoring the other two. “Now for your naming, you three should be honored it’s uncommon for --.” He paused lost in thought “your sort to be given such.” His arms spreading wide “But you, you three (he corrected) have earned this, your talents can’t and won't go to waste I’ll make sure of that.”

“This would normally be done surrounded by your elders of the group you would be joining.” He gave a helpless shrug “But that is out of our hands, for now. But the moment we can organize such, I will put up my best effect to see it done.” Aethin looked at each of them.

He could see from the corner of his eye that the other two children seemed lost in what he was talking about. But to him, it was common sense to have a name. It always irked him that he could never remember his past life name. Even with countless scenes of people calling him it, it wouldn’t register, his mind unable to grasp what was said.

Aethin was looking at the other two “don’t worry you’ll both understand the importance of this name as time passes.” As Aethin returned his attention back to him Aethin smiled again, it was clear Aethin knew he was different, smarter maybe, how they all were supposed to have turned out. He wondered again if these adult-sized children were really going to be of any use. Or be more of a hindrance once things became chaotic.

Aethin beaconed them has he made his way back to the Heart in the center of the room. They weren’t quick about it, a mixture of over-eating and reluctance at being under another spell from the Heart. All of which had led to pain in one shape or another.

When they were close to the Heart they reached out only for Aethin to raise a hand to stop them. “Only one at a time for this, I want to make sure you clearly know your name.” Aethin pointed to him “you first, it will only take amount.” Aethin said placing his hand on the Heart.

He followed suit, instantly more knowledge flowed into him. At first his name, starting with Dailin, it held no real importance only to mark him different from others. His second name Bae had more value to it if he was from a well-known family. The last part. Chanter, which would change when he was forced or offered another position to take. Dailin Bae Chanter a mouth full, and he hoped he wouldn’t have to say it in full to everyone he met. Especially if he was going to be required to remember others equally long names.

Dailin thought it was going to end there, but more information came crashing in when his name had settled. More complex phases and formations of chants, a better understanding of how it all worked. Not nearly as much as before, but still an amount that had him worried about a possible headache waiting for him. He opened his eyes as the last strands of knowledge arrived, his fatigue from before returned in a lesser form. He eyed Aethin who was smiling, seemed pleased about something. “Let me hear the name I bestowed you, just to be sure.”

He held back a yawn that was forming, and composed himself “Dailin Bae Chanter, at your service”. The last may not have been necessary, but he needed people who thought him of use. By the widening of Aethin smile, he seemed happy to hear the words.

So much so that he did a quick bit of clapping “Good, that’s wonderful to hear, and as you see under my care no problems occur”. Aethin noticing his tired posture, which he was failing to hide. “Why don’t you lie down for now Dailin? We still have some time left before we depart.

Moving his direction towards the other two Aethin spoke “Now then, the lady next” she hesitated to touch the Heart giving a quick glance at Dailin. Aethin still smiling rolled his eyes “No need to worry, there will be no pain, at most you’ll feel a little tired.” She made a face before making contact with the heart, it glowed again. Her eyes closing as did Aethin's.

Not even a minute past before their eyes opens once more, which Dailin found odd. Sure he didn’t know how long it took, but it felt longer than what he just witnessed. He looked at the other child for any indications that things were different than before. But that observation failed as the boy was staring absentmindedly into space, not a single thought paid to what was going on around him.

The lady rubbed her eyes, Aethin waiting for her to regain her bearings. When she finally did look around she gave her own glare to Aethin. ‘Not so smooth a cast as mine, perhaps that’s why it was quicker, a rush job’ Dailin thought. Aethin paid it no mind, smiling as if nothing had occurred, but finally voiced a question when she remained unmoving. “Miss, would you happen to tell me your name?” She scowled at him “Liesan Bae Chanter, as you know”.

Aethin chuckled “True but your brothers did not.” That got her attention to turn from Aethin to Dailin. Not even offering an off glance look at the other man in the room. Her glare intensified as she stared Dailin down. He sent back a glare of his own, hoping and praying the whole time that he didn’t end up alone in a confined space with her.

Aethin looked at the two, his smile turning into one of mocking. “So good to see family bonding so quickly”. Both sent their glares and scowls at him, he shrugged placing his attention on the remaining child yet to be named. Said man-child was still paying no attention to his surrounding, staring at the ceiling. Aethin looked up instinctively thinking Wards were under assault, seeing nothing amiss he returned his attention to the clues boy. Placing his hand on the Heart Aethin called out to him “Time for staring off can be saved for later, but now its time for your name, touch the heart child.”

The boy stared at him his brow scrunching into a knot, then loosing as he looked down at his hand, and last the Heart. Where he finally placed his hand and his eyes closed instantly the Heart glowing again. With them, distracted Liesan head snapped back around looking at Dailin. Her face conveyed a mark of betrayal or being wronged in some fashion.

Confusing Dailin as he was the one attacked unprovoked. ‘How dare she act wronged it was self-defense, she has no right to be mad at me’. Voicing his wrath an accusing finger pointed her way, “Don’t you give me that look, you attacked me remember”. Her eyes narrowed, she even bared her teeth at him. Dailin continued unperturbed, even though on the inside he wanted to be as far away from her as possible. “There’s more of what you got if you try that –" he didn’t get the chance for any more threat talking as she ran at him. Tackling him to the ground the two rolled about fighting to be on top of the other before he even had a chance to think. Even less time to act with a spell to stop her.

He wanted no part of her getting the upper hand, perhaps returning the favor of poking her in the eyes. So he did what he assumed any desperate man would. He bit her, more accurately he bit one of her big floppy ears when it got close enough. Then followed with a bit of teeth grinding and pulling his head back and forth. All the while using his arms to keep her head in place. His legs followed suit wrapping around her to decrease her mobility.

He was so focused on his task that Dailin wasn’t aware for some time of her tearful screams, or the blood, or the amount of noise she was making, and the Wards above them starting to change colors. He became even less aware of his surrounding when Liesan grabbed hold of one of his arms, pried it from her head and sank her teeth into his flesh.

His muffed howls of pain added to hers and soon the whole top of the pyramid had turned red, its color working its way down to their level. Aethin finishing the ritual become aware of his surroundings and was bombarded with all the noise leaving him stunned, wasting a few precious seconds to turn his head towards the source. Only to see Dailin and Liesan tangled together with each other biting, and blood jibbing from their mouths. Their muffled screams still reverberating around the stone. Then Aethin truly froze in place, his muscles locking as he looked up in horror.

The child just named stared at the ceiling memorized, his hands holding his ears down. “Such a pretty color”. That broke Aethin out of his trance as he wanted to backhand the clueless child. Hiding no Anger or Hate from his voice “That color is the sign of death, there nothing pretty about it!” Turning to the fighting duo “Now help me separate your siblings.”

As Aethin approached them he worked a Chant that would only affect the two. His phrases spilling out in quick succession, acting instantly. The bundle of struggling mass collapse in on its self, morphing into a still heap. Only showing signs of still being alive from the occasional sniffle or soft cry. Aethin and child dragged the two apart, Dailin scowling, and Liesan carrying a crazed look in her eyes one of which twitched randomly. Her full attention and hate focused on Dailin who she was probably going to kill or seriously harm if given the chance.

The room was quiet again with only their tired gasps for air disturbing the surrounding. Aethin watched the Wards near floor level begin to return to their calm white. Those at the top, however, were as red as the Wards could get and were now pulsating. What little color in his face drained away his complexion reaching the hue of the white Wards, his mind blanked unwilling to face the truth before him.

Dailin even under the effects of a spell that had him feel heavy, still felt a surge of strength course through him when he gazed at the ceiling. His instincts were screaming at him, to run, hide, or fight, anything that involved doing something about the horror that was approaching them. He was somewhat thankful for Aethin spell at this particular moment, otherwise, he would be running around overcome with panic.

He was still a little panicked and it wasn’t just from the ceiling either. Liesan was only sitting few arm’s lengths away from him, and the look she was giving off made his skin crawl. The moment she was able she would do something to get even with him. The large bite on his arm was apparently not enough to console his own (perfectly reasonable) attack.

The thought of their squabble reminded him of metallic taste in his mouth, his stomach churned with the image of foreign blood. With all its disease and uncleanliness. Turning and spitting out the contents was an effect of endurance he wasn’t expecting. Aethin spell proving more annoying and compelling with each passing moment. He gained a spark of hope. If Aethin had shared the knowledge for that chant it would greatly increase his odds of survival, he was sure of it. At the very least it would come in handy Keeping Liesan from hurting or killing him if left alone with her.

Perhaps not even being alone with her would be needed, as Dailin studied Aethin, a picture of flesh turned to stone. It didn’t even appear that the man was breathing, his perfection of remaining still a thing to be marveled if they were in less dire circumstances. Now it only brought Dailin great alarm to see someone so terrified of Wards signaling an attack. What would Aethin do if he came face first with the things out there? ‘He surely wouldn’t fall over dead would he?’

He prayed that their guide wouldn’t, and Dailin couldn’t help but think he would have been better off with the Guards. They at the very least showed a willingness to fight when things came down to it. Perfect for him to then hide while they kept the nasty things at bay and distracted. Not something he could pull off if his superiors turned out to be cowards. Taking stock of his chances Dailin could only shake his head in dismay. His group was only four strong, his mentor seemed afraid to face what was out there. Perhaps worst of all were his other two compatriots. A woman that had attacked him twice, and a man-child that appeared confused about their current problem. He was looking at the Wards, an improvement over not paying attention, but the look he showed was of wonder, not horror. Which Dailin found very odd. His brother in arms should have the same knowledge as he when it came to the warning signals of the symbols.

He should be just as or more terrified of what was going on than Aethin since he was still a child at heart. Even the crazed Liesan should act as such if she wasn’t carving holes into him with her eyes. Dailin didn’t have to look up to know that things had gone horribly wrong. His ears could pick up the Wards pulse, its last mass warning sent out to let all know that it was under heavy attack and it will fail eventually. Dailin decided that eventually to him should mean soon or perhaps now and that staying here was unwise at best.

Looking at Aethin still a stone statue “We need to leave.” Aethin made no indication that he heard him “Aethin, Aethin, AETHIN”. The last he yelled, which echoed around the room, some of the wards changed colors again. The new vibrations bring more attention to them. That got Aethin attention as he eyed Dailin down no smile to be seen, his face a mix of terror and rage “Quiet child, are you trying to bring death down upon us?” Dailin could only frown as it was clear that death was already upon them. “We need to leave, I know so you know we're under attack.”

The knowledge was very clear, vivid even about this situation, normally Dailin as a Chanter and those of his like would work to recharge failing Wards. Holding out so the Guards had time to amass and ready for a counter attack. But Dailin was still new, fresh and he doubted he had the Mana reserves to keep anything charged enough to make a difference. The same for his two other siblings, the only one here that could perform their role properly was Aethin. But he was only one man and alone couldn't keep a whole room, and tunnels charged.

At least Dailin didn’t think so, that part of his knowledge was vague on how much a person was capable of, from face value. The only way to know that someone was truly gifted in spells, was it became physically seeable. ‘Like that madman with the glowing veins’, Dailin didn’t like that thought. That wasn’t the kind of person you wanted to have power. Eager to lash out, to hurt anyone if given an excuse. ‘Another problem for another day, if I even to get it.’

Aethin still wasn’t moving, but he wasn’t looking at the ceiling, his eyes were closed shut, his brow knotted, and a hand placed on his chest. The man looked ready to kill over, his skin tone still deathly. As he was lost in his own world Dailin went about trying to wake his limbs, it seemed the spell was wearing off on its own, but he hoped to hurry it along. Flexing and un-flexing his muscles he tried to work some life back into them. One had to be an idiot like his two siblings not to know staying here was foolish. But where to go? Dailin could now read where the current tunnels led, but not the actual layout of the network. He didn’t know shortcuts or tunnels that could have him going in circles.

That played into Aethin hands who still was motionless, the others might as well not be here for all the good they were to him. As Dailin finally worked up the strength and courage to stand, Aethin seemed to have made up his mind, heading towards a different section of the wall away from the passage already open. Stone slide away, and unlike the pyramid room glowing in red, this tunnels was bathed in white. That was all Dailin needed to see as he stumbled his way towards Aethin, he didn’t care if the others were following. Aethin turned back noticed Dailin and Liesan troubles, rolled his eyes and cast a chant. Dailin nearly fell over as his limbs sprang to life, his fatigue gone. He wasted no time reaching Aethin after that, looking up at the ceiling as he went and wishing he hadn’t. They weren’t making enough noise for it to escape the Wards, yet the things out there were still trying to get in.

Dailin was tempted to depart without them, as Liesan and the other didn’t share their concern. Walking over as if nothing was wrong with the realm. The man-child stared at the ceiling with wonder the whole time. Dailin wanted to pull his hair out “Hurry, Hurry what’s wrong with you two? Don’t you know what that color means?” Neither answered him, the man-child didn’t even notice his word, as for Liesan she just glowered at him holding her damaged ear. Dailin promptly stepped behind Aethin, who had himself been watching the ceiling before glancing at Dailin, and then his arm.

Dailin remembering his own wound, red and inflamed the teeth marks going deep into his flesh. He wasn’t bleeding as much now. He hesitated to heal it, as he wasn’t sure of the amount of Mana his body had. The pain that he knew would increase and possibly become infected if left unattended, easily beat his reluctance away. Dailin chant couldn’t compare to Aethin, his coming out slow and methodical, his voice going out of tune before correcting himself. At its end Dailin watched as his wound closed shut, skin sinking back down into a normal shape, and its tone returning to its grayish hue.

He felt dizzy, his vision blurred, but it passed seconds later. It still had Dailin on edge, worried that he had used too much. ‘What I am going to do if I have to use an offense spell’ the prospect of collapsing to the floor after one bolt of lightning didn’t sit well with him. He wished that Aethin had imparted knowledge on how to use his spear better. Or better yet any knowledge at all of what they were about to face.

“Well done,” Aethin chuckling his humor returning a little. “Able to heal your and Liesan wound so soon, you will make a fine Acolyte”.

Looking up at her, Dailin could see Liesan rumbling her ear, she seemed confused but happier. The ear looked new, the rip he'd made during his thrashing about gone. She still sent dark looks his way, apparently not dimwitted enough as the other looked to forget he was the source of her injury. ‘Bet she’ll forget that she’s the one who attacked first, again.’ Readying his own wave of glares, he was stopped as Aethin patted his shoulders looking down the tunnel. “We’ve wasted enough time” Aethin stopped half away from looking at the ceiling again, before starting down the passage. “Follow along and keep quiet” Turning to flash them a thin smile “Then all will be well.”

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Freethorm

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Ashcheul @Ashcheul ago

I liked Harl Dee. Nice guy.

StorySeeker @StorySeeker ago

urging him to lean back and use her mass as a billow

Pillow

Yet he remained laying on his wife billow

Pillow

He began caressing his wife billow readying himself for more intimate pleasures when his surroundings began to shake.

Pillow

he would have seen Aethin widest smile

Aethin’s wide