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 Soulbond: The Beginning

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Pascale d'Artagne
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:00 pm

Shrieking metal on metal shattered the veil of my sleep. The clashing steel reminisced of an ambush, so I jumped up, groping in vain for a non-existent weapon before settling into a weary stance. My surpriese gave way to mild anger as I saw Kanna and Aithne laughing at me.
"Hah!..." Kanna gasped, doubling over with laughter.
Aithne continued her thought, "Your expression...Priceless..." She smirked, reminding me of Venser, who I had thrown undecorously off my chest. Blood rushed to my face, as I tried vainly to suppress my dmbarrassment. Distracting myself, I looked down at Venser.
<You alright?>
<Yes,> he snorted. <It was worth it,> he chuckled, not trying to hide it. Now even more embarrassed, I turned back to Aithne and Kanna, show, mercifully, had mastered their mirth. My boots sitting by the fire caught my attention, so I straightened up and walked over to put them on. I hope they're dry. Sitting on the cave floor, I pulled on the beaten leather lumps.
"You guys really shouldn't spar inside," I muttered, examining a small hole near my toe. "You surprised me."
Aithne snorted, a soft hiss signalling she sheathed her blades. "You've got that part right." Her eyes squinted and she chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully. "You seem pretty panicked. Can you not fight, or do you just need some weapons?"
Do I look like a wimp?
<Yes.>
<Shut up.>
<No.>
Rising to my feet, I hurriedly replied, "Of course I can fight." Aithne nodded assent, but Kanna looked mischievous, an evil glint in her eye.
"Oh yeah? Prove it," she challenged, settling into the horse stance, adopting the Golden Fire style, dominant sword held ready for a quick jab below the other, horizontal, sword. Gah! I can't fight her barehanded!
"Whoa, hang on a sec," I began, backing up with my hands out in surrender.
"Guess you can't do it." Kanna smiled infuriatingly, he voice sickeningly sweet, letting down her stance into a lazy pose.
Aithne seemed worried, but she relaxed after a shared glance with Kanna. I assume they aren't going to kill me. Seeing I wasn't moving, Kanna's smile grew. "Oh, sorry, you can borrow Aithne's blades, to make it more fair," she taunted with exponentially increasing sarcasm.
I looked for help, but Aithne averted her gaze, as if saying, this is your business.
From his seat on the ground, Venser wasn't much help either. <Have fun.>
Unmoving, Aithne asked nonchalantly, "You want them?" She shifted, ready to grip the well-worn hilts. I calmed down a little. Take a deep breath, and just think. You've done stuff like this before.
"No, I-I can't use them." Despite this confession, Kanna seemed undeterred in her desire to cut me into millions of pieces. Some small part of me took comfort in Aithne's renewed look of concern. Putting her face out of my mind, I stepped toward Kanna and bowed, ten paces away. "Since you are fighting with Golden Fire, I will use Silver Rain." She brought her blades up again, smiling bemusedly as if to say, well, why'd you tell me all that? Just get to the fighting. I hesitated before choosing a dragon stance. Silver Rain was the obvious counter to Golden Fire, but it took some thinking to decide which stance to begin with. Shrugging, I relaxed my legs, lifting all my weight to my toes. My hands came up to imitate Kanna's swords. Dragon is about agility and manipulating the opponent. It was generally initiated by starting the same way as your opponent, except for the feet. Of course, both fighters generally had the same weapon type.
Since there was no way I could attack Kanna, I relaxed my tensed hands. Staring intp Kanna's eyes, I mentally took inventory of the cave. Morning light spilled through the entrance, illuminating the cave, providing easy vision. However, there wasn't enough to produce any glare. Shifting my weight to rest more on my left foot, the sandy floor shifted subtly, the rock beneath poking through the worn leather boots. I was uncertain of how to manipulate this shifty ground, and it translated to a wavering in my gaze.
Kanna leapt across the ground between us, a sudden lightning bolt of steel. Her primary blade thrust upward, coming into the space her other blade left when slicing outwards and in again with one shoulder rotation. Jumping back, I dodged the first sword, the dull grey blade slicing through my vision. I was less prepared for the second sword, only just barely deflecting it with a quick kick to the hilt. Kanna's momentum carried her through the motion, and she pivoted around our point of connexion. Bringing my foot down, I rebalanced, now having a better idea of Kanna's style. There's no way I'll beat her barehanded. Only the really great masters could do that. Hmm...Could I disarm her?

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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:54 pm

There was no way Pascal could beat me. I was not being vain or anything, just stating a fact. Pascal didn't know who he was up against.
My eyes narrowed as he dodged every move, all the while judging and analyzing my style. He already had a good idea, showing he had been trained by a master. And the Silver Rain Technique too... Who was this kid? Well, no matter who he was, he was about to get a true idea of how far apart our levels in fighting were.
As suddenly as a flame catches flares before a wind, I leapt and twirled around him, faster and faster, swords flashing above his head, slicing under his feet. Just as Tatsu swung down towards his neck, he made a mistake. He dodged from Tatsu, completely forgetting that Kawa's role was not just to protect, that she could turn into a raging torrent of rage when I told her to.
I hit him with the flat of my blade with enough force to knock him down. In an instant, my knee rested on his chest, and my swords were a breath away from slicing out his throat.
"Okay, so you defeated me. Can you get off now? That's starting to hurt. A lot."
"Oh. Yeah." I looked down and realized that I was kneeling onone of the bigger burns on his chest. Wait, what? Why was Pascal shirtless? Cheshire. I called to one of the horses. I tossed a shirt to Pascale as I got up.
"Get a shirt on, boy-o"
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:54 am

I sat on the ground, feeling around the shirt for some holes. Aha, here's one arm, and here's the head... Getting to my feet I groaned. Moisture trickled down my back, and when I felt it with a hand, it came away red. Some of my scabs had cracked while we were "sparring."
"Blast," I muttered, wiping it on my pants. Looking up at Kanna, I was relieved to see her placing her swords off to the side. "Hey Kanna, do you mind if I get blood stains on this?"
She waved a hand airily. "Yeah, do whatever. Just remember to thank me when I save you from some attacking bandits." Pulling the coarse cloth over my head, my angry retort was muffled.
"Say what?" Kanna called.
I pulled the shirt on with an angry jerk. At least it kind of fits. "I'm not defenseless." It came out coldly. "You try fighting a swordsmaster bare handed sometime."
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:38 pm

Aithne nodded in agreement. "It's not fun." She scuffed a toe on the ground, sending up wisps of ashy dust. "I know, from experience." Her voice betrayed a deeper hurt, buried beneath those words. Looking up from straightening my shirt, I glanced over at Kanna and was alarmed to see her swords in her hands again.
"Oh, so now you're siding with him?!" her voice cracked like a whip. She spun around and glared at Kanna. "Do you know what he's done?!"
She raised an eyebrow. "Uhh, what?"
"Yeah," I put in. "Why're you always acting like I've done something wrong? It's not like I burned the village." The next instant, I thought I was going to die. A blur came flying towards me, and the cave echoed as Kanna dug Kawa and Tatsu into the wall on either sides of my head.
<This must be a clay and limestone mixture,> Venser contemplated, inspecting the surprisingly malleable composition of the wall with an outstretched claw.
My surprise widened eyes narrowed in annoyance. <You're not helping.>
"I know what you did," Kanna spat in my face. "I let it go, but now I've had enough." My face looked the picture of guilt. Why bother hiding it? Aithne must have told her....No, she looked just as shocked as me. Anyways, somehow, Kanna knew my secret.
"Hah, I see your guilt. You burned down the village. Admit it!" she demanded, her hands tightening on her sword hilts. Wait...what?!
"No!" I shouted. "I didn't."
Her eyes laughed at my predicament. I obviously looked guilty. "Then why are you so nervous?"
"I-I..."
"Tell me!" she yelled, jerking down of her swords. "I'm tired of this. You two are always keeping secrets from me."
<For all of three days,> Venser snorted. For once, I agreed with him. I opened my mouth to respond, but a grinding noise behind me made both Kanna and I back away from the wall.
"What..." Aithne began, before being drowned out by a grinding noise as a large stone door slammed open where I had been standing.
"A secret passage?" I slapped a hand to my mouth. That sounded really stupid. Why'd I say that?
Kanna sheathed her swords. She must have told the horses something, because they all began to followe her to the opening. "I'll get my answers from you later. Right now, we need to get out of here."
"How'd'you know this goes--"
She cut me off impatiently. "I can smell it. Now come on."
"Right," I muttered, hurrying to get into the opening before her. I didn't want to be stuck behind the horses. Aithne put out the fire and held up her rosin pot with confusion.
"Did you make tea in this?" Oops, I'd completely forgotten about it. There were a rather lot of emotional breakdowns last night. At least none of them were mine, I sighed with relief. That would really ruin my image.
Venser snorted, illuminating the dusky cavern with a puff of flame. He landed on my shoulder. <What image?>
<Hey, don't be critical.>
<Hmph. I'll do whatever I want.>
<No! You shouldn't.> That came more venomously than I thought it would. I always did what I wanted, but somehow it didn't feel right.
<You do have morals.> Smug dragon.
<Yeah. Don't go trumpeting that around. It wouldn't help my image either.>
<You never know,> he responed, half sarcastically, and half mysteriously.
Kanna stomped a foot. "Oi, let's go." With that inspirational speech, we all headed off into a dark unknown tunnel. The line-up: Aithne, me, Kanna, horses. Oh yeah, and Venser.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:28 pm

For a pitch black cavern, that place had very fresh air. Although I couldn't see any more than Pascal, I could form an image of my surroundings, using smell. Riding on Pascal, everything seemed bumpy.
<Could you walk a little smoother?> I stopped vibrating as much as he evened his steps and rolled his feet. It was abruptly shattered by his stubbing a toe on a rock. <Hey!>
<Hey yourself,> he retorted. <I can't really see.> Under the sarcasm, a flicker of fear surfaced.
<Are you afraid of the dark?> I asked incredulously. After years of roaming the city streets with the local night life, how can one be scared of the dark?
<No!> he yelled, completely confirming my suspicion. He sighed, shoulders sagging. <I'm a terrible liar, too.> Stumbling along behind Aithne, he seemed particularly clumsy. <Yeah, I don't like it,> he finally conceded. <Blast theses pebbles!> he muttered darkly, kicking a bunch to the side.
Aithne turned and glared. "Shhh!" I guess everyone is edgy. Hmmm...How can I comfort Pascal? I'm not good with words. Suddenly, I noticed Aithne had stopped, and was feeling the wall in front of her. <Stop!> I told Pascal, keeping him from smacking into her. However, Kanna was not so fortunate. She collided with Pascal, sending both of us to the ground. She remained upright.
"Oh, I'm sorry." I hope so, I wanted to say, but of course she can't hear me. Oh well, no harm done. Pascal stood, dusting himself off.
<That's silly. We can't even see in here.>
He glared, then looked in Aithne's direction. "Why'd we stop?"
Her ever calm voice came from the darkness, "Well, the tunnel ended."
Great, now what?
"I don't know!" Kanna exploded. She can hear me?!
"Alright," Pascal said, backing down with a touch of insolence. I guess he had said the same thing as I did, but out loud. Phew! My thoughts are still safe.
<I can still hear you,> Pascal pointed out rudely.
<Why are you being so aggravating?> I asked. <I know you don't mean it.> He didn't answer for a while, during which time, Kanna alternately inspected the horses and swore, and Aithne stood in quiet contemplation.
<I guess I don't know,> he finally answered, slowly.
Aithne moved closer to tap Pascal's shoulder, touching part of my tail as well. "Hey, look up there." Suddenly we were blinded by a brilliant light.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:10 pm

Quickly closing my eyes, I counted to ten before opening them under the new dazzling light. Somewhere from above, a chanting wafted down, unrecognizable, no doubt because it was in some foreign tongue. It's not Gallan, or Tingal. Some ancient form of Arma maybe? Peering upwards, Kanna pointed.
"Hah, there's our way out." Tilting my chin, I glimpsed sunlight through a large opening in the cavern above. It was way above our heads, perhaps 100 yards. How do we get out of that?
"The only one who could get there is Venser," I pointed out. Kanna threw me a look of disdain. "What?" I asked. She was always mad at me.
Aithne seemed hypnotized. "Guys, be quiet. Look!" Suddenly, dozens of colors appeared on the walls above us, the farthest up just visible. Gnomes?!
The gnomes ceased chanting, and one, wearing a green hat trimmed with gold, stepped forward, until he stood ten feet before us, on a ledge in the wall at our (okay, Kanna's) eye level. He looked us over with a steady gaze, then lifted up two small hands, the skin glowing in the radiant light.
"Welcome, travellers. This is the Gnome Sanctum, one of the last Gnome refuges, and one of the still fewer remaining Bondprotectorates. Greetings to you."
Kanna seemed shocked, and Aithne stood in a kind of trance. What, are these gnomes magical or something?
I cleared my throat. "Uh, hello."
The gnome looked at me in surprise. "Are you not going to introduce us to your Soulbond?"
"Erm, okay." I held Venser in my hands. "This is Venser." As the gnomes began to see him, they gasped, danced, or hugged in delight. Okay.... Tears glistened in the green hatted gnomes eye's.
"It is an honor to meet you," he said to Venser, doffing his hat for a quick moment.
<Tell him thanks,> Venser urged me. I did so, and the gnome began smiling profusely.
"Well, now that business is taken care of, I will explain some things to you. We, gnomes, are one of the creatures that form the Bondprotectorate. Our mission is to help Soulbonders in time of need. Right now, you need to get out of this ravine, am I right?" He spoke so quickly that all we could do was nod.
He clapped his hands. "Good. Now, we can take you and your horses up on a pully shaft. However, it is sacred to gnomes, and only those of the Protectorate may enter." He glanced sternly at us before breaking into a smile again. "Ready to take the challenge?"
Kanna found her voice. "What challenge?"
He smiled widely. "The Gnome Proctectorate challenge for initiation of course." He jumped to the ground and opened another secret passage in the wall. "Follow me. This will not take too long."
We hurried after him. For a gnome, he sure was fast. Aithne brought up the rear.
"Do the horses have to take the challenge too?" she called up. The gnomed paused at a heavy door, opening it.
"Yes, of course. They will have less difficulty than you."
So saying, he bounded into the new chamber, which was just like the last one, but with an ornate pedestal in the middle. He sat on it and beckoned Kanna forward. "Come, I will test you first, then the horses. Stand here," he pointed to a triangle on the floor. "All of your tests will be unique." He clapped his hands. "Let us begin."
Kanna stood still, one foot on the triangle, the other shoulder's distance apart. "Alright, what is it then?"
The gnome pulled out a small box and pulled out a small piece of paper. He read from it, "Your challenge is for the tall. Since you are three feet above gnome height, you must leave three feet behind."
Kanna seemed confused. I was too. "Uhh, like rope, or something?"
The gnome shook his head. "Nope," he responded perkily. "It must be from your own person. I'll let you think on it." He pulled out another paper and looked at the horses. "You, my friends, have two more hooves than a gnome. You must learn to walk like a gnome." All of us, including Kanna, watched in astonishment as all of the horses stood up on their hind legs and walked a couple of yards. The gnome clapped with glee.
"Great! You have all passed, and are now honorary gnomes." He walked over to the ornate pedestal and opened it to take out several gnome hats of various colors. He promptly ran over to the horses and put one on each one's head. "There, now all done."
He looked back at Kanna. "You done yet?"
She frowned. "Does three feet of clothing count?"
"No. It must be three feet of you." She continued to look perplexed. The gnome sighed. "Alright, Aithne next." She came forward to stand on another triangle in the floor. "So, what do I do?"
Reading the card, he smiled. "I love this one. Okay, you have been trained in many skills, but there is one essential gnome skill you lack. Recite one original poem please."
Aithne looked bemused. "How about you move on to Pascal while I think on this one."
What'll I have to do?
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:14 pm

"Actually," the gnome began, "Venser must pass first." He raised an eyebrow at me. "Ready?"
I nodded.
"Okay, you, friend of sky, must now make amends with the gnome sanctuary of earth. Create a sculpture of clay with only your claws, and this earth." What?!
I nodded, and flew down to a moist patch of ground. Quickly I began scratching up mud. What should I make?
<How about a castle?> the ever unhelpful Pascal suggested.
<Too cliche.>
<How about--> he was cut off by the gnome.
"Come here," he said, pulling out another card. "I have your task for you. You may not begin it until Venser is done, but judging by your companions, you will need time to think."
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sun Sep 02, 2012 1:32 am

I sighed heavily in disdain. A poem?!! Of course it had to be something Vakrom actually never taught me about...I have no idea where to start... I wracked my brain for ideas. It wasn't that I lacked creativity or writing skills. I just was never a huge fan of poetry, and so never went to the trouble to learn about it. I took a deep breath and calmly reviewed everything I knew about poetry:
1. It is consisted of stanzas.
2. It's usually sappy and full of confusing thoughts and feelings from overly emotional and sappy people who are going through something traumatic.
3. It doesn't have to make sense, and can have many meanings and interpretations.
4. I had never written one before.

Suddenly, a voice whispered in my mind. Not my voice, for it was clearly male, but for some reason, I was not alarmed. <Do not be daunted by the task before you...certainly, it is a challenge. But it is nothing you cannot handle. Just think...what is something in your past that you have deep emotional ties to? Start with that.> The voice was somewhat deep, like that of a young man. It seemed noble and strong, yet kind, and it had a lyrical...purr to it. I shook my head, wondering what was going on. A voice in my head...weird. Bringing my thoughts back to focus, I realized that the voice was right. The thing of my past - my family - would certainly qualify as poem material. I saw a large stone beside a small pool. Walking over to it to sit down, I noticed that the closer I got to the small pond, the softer the ground grew. Soon, indents of my boots were left in the soft earth. I sat on the rock and called out to a nearby gnome, asking for a piece of paper and a writing utensil. The small, hatted gnome nodded cheerfully and disappeared down some tunnel. A few moments later, he returned, holding a piece of parchment and a quill with some ink. Taking it from his tiny hands, I thanked him and turned my attention to the paper and my past. The first stanza took form in my mind, and I carefully wrote it on the parchment in a neat, scrolling cursive.


A secret, nestled deep in a sea of green
Deadly and dangerous, yet soft and innocent
Hiding from the prying eyes of the world
For the good of its past and future.

<Good, very good. Now for the next stanza...think of what came next> I nodded, despite the fact that no one else could hear the voice. Pausing to collect my thoughts and memories, I added the next two stanzas to the parchment.

A snake, in a poisonous rage
Struck out at the secret
Strangling from it all
But a single sigh of breath

The sigh of the secret fled
Into the sea of green, it fled
A mystery saved the sigh
Raising it into a strong shout

My head was starting to hurt, so I set the quill down and stretched. I observed the gnome pull out another challenge, then with as grave of a face as a cheerful gnome can pull, saw him murmur something, then motion Pascal to come closer. Pascal did so, and the gnome whispered something into his ear. I raised an eyebrow in curiosity as my cousin's face turned pale and he backed away a few steps. "But...I..." He said. His voice trailed off, and he looked to the ground. Worried, I stood and briskly strode over to him. "Pascal, what's wrong?" Looking down to me, he sighed and said quietly, "My challenge...it's to 'tell an important hidden truth to someone who does not know it.' I don't really know if I should trust these gnomes yet, so the only one here is Kanna, and can you imagine what she would do if she found out about me? As far as I can tell about her, she most likely hates my family!" I looked over at Kanna, thinking. Sure, she did seem the type to dislike nobles and royals, but...<But, you can trust her all the same. She will not betray you or Pascal.> The voice was speaking to me again, and I decided to listen. Turning back to Pascal, I said, "Well...something tells me that we can trust her. I advise you tell her...I think that these gnomes can protect you and Venser from whoever is trying to kill you. Kanna's anger is worth that. However, you need to chose for yourself. It is your own challenge, after all." I gave him a small smile of encouragement and retreated back to my rock. I sat down and noticed that Kanna's eyes were drawn to my footprints in the soft ground, as were Venser's. I watched with curiosity. <Although I understand your intrigue with the actions of your companions, it might be wise of you to complete your challenge.> The voice had a noticeable hint of humor in it, and I chuckled. It took me a few minutes to think of the right wording for the last stanza, but eventually it came to me.

The shout learned to sing
And with its song it found
Another sigh from the same lungs
And with the sign, the shout shared the secret from which it came

I called over the gnome and gave him back the quill and ink. Then, I reviewed my poem. It was certainly not any sort of masterpiece, but I was proud of my first poem. I stood and approached the gnome who had issued the challenged. "I'm ready." I stated. He smiled widely and indicated that I could start. I cleared my voice and began, reading it as smoothly as I could. When I was finished, the gnome nodded and commented that it was a very interesting piece of writing. I laughed and said, "Well, it was my first time writing a poem, so it's no work of art...but I did my best." <And it is a respectable poem, whether this gnome agrees or not. Most likely, he simply doesn't understand it.> I showed no indication on my face that I was hearing voices, and knelt as the gnome placed an emerald green gnome hat onto my head. I stood, smiling. The gnome grinned. "I must say, it is quite becoming of you!" he exclaimed jubilantly. So, I guess I'm an Honorary Gnome now. <So it seems you are.>
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sun Sep 02, 2012 6:32 pm

Aha! Mud! I scampered across the ground to the soft patch. Scratching stone would take forever, but mud....I chuckled evilly. Prepare to meet your doom! I cried, leaping into the nearest section. Only after I was completely submerged did I realize I was now coated with liquid.
<Aghh!> I screamed, leaping out of the mud. I was now completely stuck in the physical realm. Why didn't I remember that mud is watery?! Without even realizing it I smacked my forehead with a claw-like hand. Stupid!
<Did you just smack your head?> Pascal inquired over-politely. I growled, flapping my wings in an attempt to dry off faster.
<No,> I snapped. <I didn't. You're just hallucinating.>
I felt his injured conscienceness retreat. <Oh, okay.>
When he was gone from my head, I felt pretty bad, like this dark pit was swallowing all of my insides. I shouldn't be this mean. I'm supposed to be the representation of himself, and I do see the similarities. But, I think even Pascal isn't that sarcastic. Ashamed at myself, I stared at the mud before me. He doesn't know how bad the water is. I don't blame him. I sighed, feeling lonely. I suppose I just got carried away with the whole sarcasm thing. I should stop. I paused, idly creating swirls in the mud. Well, not altogether. What's the fun in that? Staring at the mud, I felt a smirk climb onto my face. Yeah, I could continue to hackle Pascal. No doubt about that. The tree had told me... !
Electrified, I jumped up and began sculpting the mud. Pascal had to tell his origins, so I would display mine as well. Also, combusting sycamore trees are pretty easy to sculpt. Using my forelimbs, I pulled at the mud, pushing it into a column. However, just when it reached the correct height, it shrank down again, too moist to hold any form.
After several attempts, I let out a jet of flame in anger, completely solidifying a lump of mud. Nudging the block with a claw, ascertaining it's hardness, I struck upon a idea. Carefully, I coated the surrounding mud with a fine layer of flame. Picking it up, the substance reminded me of clay. Using the stonelike block as a base, I quickly erected a malleable column atop it. Smoothing the sides with my tail, I then topped the two foot tower with some clay branches. Now for the flames... Scanning the cave, I bounded over to a patch of lichen. Gingerly scraping it off the cave, I carried it in my mouth and draped it on the branches of the tree. One quick puff ignited the mossy substance, and there it was...a burning tree.
Stepping back, I yelped as a blue hat was shoved onto my head, over my eyes.
Out of reflex, I yelled, <What was that for?> Of course, only Pascal could hear me, as I gathered from his glare.
The gnome stepped back as I pushed the hat off my eyes and turned to look at him. I cocked my head, as if to say, Well?
He beamed. "Congratulations! You are now an honorary gnome! Your sculpture was truly inspiring. It truly does homage to the Trees." He scurried back over to his fancy pedestal and sat down comfortably. "Come on, Kanna and Pascal."
<What was your challenge again?> I asked Pascal. How could I have forgotten?
<I have to tell someone my secret.> Translation: Kanna's gonna be mad.
I almost smirked Good Luck, but something stopped me. I'm supposed to be a good example. But that's no fun. True
<Good luck,> I smirked. Old habits die hard.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:58 pm

I blinked back tears, my heart aching. Writing the poem drudged back up all of the pent-up emotions I had regarding my past and family. After a few minutes, I was able to get my face back under control, but my heart was still a conflicted, painful mess. I had grown into the person that I was, and I was not ashamed of who I had become. However, deep inside of me, there was a chunk of myself that was still a little girl, devastated at the loss of my family. Also, there was a burning inferno that had been lit the day my village was killed, thirsting for revenge on the man and his snake. That had been all I had to deal with inside of myself, but in the past week, more confusion was added to it. First, the village burning and the awful conclusion that it was my teacher, Vakrom, that had burned it. Then, there was the whole deal with Pascal being my cousin. Lastly, and what caused the most turmoil in me, was what Pascal had told me of what Vakrom said to him in the burning warehouse. Vakrom wanted to kill the last of the Soulbonds. Judging by the fact that Soulbonding ran in my bloodline, could it be that Vakrom was associated with the man who had killed my family? The thought that this might be true tore me apart. Part of me was angry, another sad, and yet another refused to believe it. I am so full of contradictions...I don't know what to think anymore.
<I believe I can help you with that, Aithne.> As soon as I heard the voice in my head, an irresistible tugging took hold over my mind. Unable to do anything to resist it, I walked, as if in a trance, to the mouth of a dark tunnel. I ventured into it, several gnomes following me with concern and curiosity etched on their faces. After a short while in the tunnel, I emerged in an open cavern with one of the strangest things I had ever seen before me. A small forest, made up of at least fifty trees, lay before me. The tallest one, located in the center of the forest, seemed to beckon me, steadfastly drawing me towards it. I walked up to it, and gingerly placed a hand on the trunk. Suddenly, the entire tree emitted a glowing white light, and combusted into bright hot flames, all shades of red, orange, green, and blue. A magnificent figure leaped down from the center of the flaming tree. It was a feline, muscular and strong. The tips of his ears stood at around three feet high. His coat was silvery white with dark gray stripes. Black tufts of fur sprouted from the tips of his ears, and his eyes were light gray and shining with intelligence. <Hello, Aithne. I am D'Eon, your Soulbond. I am a bynx, or bobcat-lynx hybrid. It is a pleasure to finally be united with you, and I greatly look forward to being your companion.> His voice reverberated in my mind, stronger than before. A smile slowly spread across my face, and as I touched D'Eon's soft fur, something clicked inside me, and I knew that he truly was my Soulbond. I remembered back to what Pascal said about how he communicated with Venser, and I aimed my thoughts toward D'Eon. <Yes, I look forward to it as well.> I felt a surge of glee from him, confirming that my message had gotten across. <Let us go and rejoin Pascal, Venser, and Kanna. They will be wondering by now where you've been.> He purred to me. I smiled, and we walked together back to where our friends waited.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:08 am

I stood, shifting my weight from foot to foot as Kanna stared quizzically into the space over my head. She still hadn't solved her challenge, not that I blamed her. It was tough. Leave three feet of yourself behind... Personally, I would have said the obvious answer was to cut off three feet of hair or something, but hers only went just past her shoulders. You could have three strands, each a foot long...No that didn't really work. As Venser sat quietly by his version of a combusting tree, I looked around for Aithne. My inspection was greeted by a foreboding tunnel.
"Where'd Aithne go?" My words snapped Kanna out of her trance. She glared down at me with disgust.
"How would I know?" Her tone was haughty. "I am trying to complete my challenge so we can get out of here!"
I dropped my gaze to the floor, taking in the minute details of our shoes. Well, hers were shoes. Mine resembled Venser's clay tree: brown lumps.
<Take that back. My tree is a work of art!> Venser snapped playfully. Looking at my shoes, I also realized that I would need to take my rings and other items from them before they fell apart. I've got pockets, and enough string to put the rings around my neck.
I heard footsteps, and looked up to see Aithne walking towards us, absentmindedly patting the air at waist level beside her.
"Where'd you go?" Kanna asked.
At the same time I said, "Why're you patting the air?"
The gnome also put in, "Have a good trip?"
Aithne laughed. "Whoa, hold on. One at a time?"
I took a breath. "Why are you stroking the air?"
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:46 am

Three feet of myself. How can I lose myself, and still remain myself? Maybe I need to think more literal... But I only have two feet... Arg! This is so annoying! Three feet... Three feet.... I sat down on the ground in a huff.
Why is the entire world conspiring against me? What have I done to warrant this? Life... I thought, Life sucks. I buried my face in my hands and closed my eyes. Quite suddenly, all the anger left me. It didn't go away, it was still there, just quieter. More tired. Tired. That word described my entire existence. I was so caught up in my thoughts, I barely noticed Aithne wander back into the cave.
"Where ya been?" I asked, too tired to really appreciate the answer.
Of course, several others voiced their questions at the same time, and I was ignored. Life sucks.
"Oh, yeah, you guys can't see him." She looked down bemusedly at the air next to her. "This is D'Eon, my soulbond."
The little gnomes squealed with delight at the sight of the large cat that appeared next to Aithne.
"Have you been hiding one from us too, O tall one?" asked a nearby gnome, his cheeks red and his voice high-pitched with excitement.
"Shove off, you." I waved my hand at him, my fingers passing barely an inch from his face.
"Well then!" He said, looking affronted, "I guess you wouldn't have a refined enough soul, anyway. I doubt a Soulcreature would want to bond with you!" There was a hush around the cave.
"Darwinigan!" whisper-yelled an alarmed and angry gnome with a particularly yellow hat, "You do not speak to the guests of Soulbonds in that manner!"
"So what if I do!" muttered the gnome under his breath so the other wouldn't hear him. As he trotted back to his fellows, I noticed something that I hadn't before. It wasn't that Darwinigan the Gnome turned and stuck his tongue out at me, or that he was rapped soundly on the head as he returned to his ranks. It was that there was a patch of mud about six feet in diameter that Venser was sitting in. Mud. It was good for plastering on deep wounds that bled too much, and it was good for tracking game. Because of the footprints. [i]Footprints[i/]
I leapt to my feet, and tugged off my boots and socks. Hesitating slightly, I walked into the patch of mud, leaving three deep, clear footprints.
"There. Three feet of myself." I told he surrounding gnomes smugly. A gnome dropped gown from the ceiling and slammed a pointy, purple hat on my head.
"All that is left is you, Pascal." said the impossibly yellow-hatted gnome.
Pascal took a deep breath and walked over to me.
"Kanna, I have something to tell you..."
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:44 am

Hmm...these companions of Aithne's are...amusing. I strode leisurely over to Aithne, who had gone to stand with her cousin as he told his tale to the young horse-witch. Sitting and wrapping my tail around myself to rest on my large paws, I observed with keen eyes the expressions on the three human faces before me. The horse witch - I could tell she was one of the few left in the world because of the scent of magic in her veins - first had a confused expression, then turned to disgust as she took in what Pascal was saying. "I always knew there was something unpleasant about you. It's no surprise, coming from some snobby noble." She turned to look at me, then Aithne. "Since you said Soulbonding is only in certain bloodlines, I take it Aithne's part of a stuck-up noble line as well." I lightly growled at this, despite the fact that I could sense the gladness in Aithne that Kanna had not connected the familial dots between herself and Pascal yet. I am the loyal type, like a knight, and I don't take kindly to anyone insulting my life-long companion. Aithne must have sensed my irritation, for she sent some calming emotions flowing into my mind, all the while keeping her face as passive as possible. <Thank you, Aithne. I appreciate your concern. Though I cannot be exactly pleased with such a brittle traveling companion as you have found in Kanna.> I told her. She reached out to scratch between my ears, and I let a deep purr escape despite myself. <Don't worry, D'Eon. She'll come around.> I narrowed my eyes and flicked an ear. For the sake of my demeanor, I certainly hoped she would become more reasonable with my Soulbond and her cousin.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:25 pm

"So, yeah," I concluded lamely. I had told only the minimal details, leaving out all the parts that related to Aithne. Still, it was draining, dredging up all those memories.
"Do you have any proof?" Kanna asked sharply, startling me out of a daze. "How do I know you're all not playing a trick on me?" She glared sharply at a gnome.
Hesitantly, I reached out to Venser for help, but he was occupied conversing with D'Eon. Might as well, I thought, taking the rings out of my boot. I splayed them in my hand while hiding the ruby in a pocket. No sense in giving unnecessary information. Her eyes widened as the metal caught the light, flawless jewels refracting the beams in a constant kaleidoscopic vortex.
To my surprise, her face became skeptical again. "I don't know what those are. They could be from any old person, much less d'Artagne and Konninger. Or they're stolen."
I rolled my eyes. Gah! "Look, how can I make you believe me?" I swept my arm in a circle to encompass all the gnomes. "It's not like they happen to have some family portraits just lying around for your inspection."
Aithne came closer. "Why would that help?"
"There's family resemblance."
"Oh," she murmured. Right, she's related too. Curiosity stole in. I looked at her face, completely forgetting about Kanna and the gnomes. Is that what my mother looked like?
I shook my head, feeling foolish. No, it was our fathers who were brothers. Unless she happens to be Konninger too.
I jumped as a bronze gnome hat was shoved onto my head by a gnome.
"Oh, I guess I did complete the challenge, even though she doesn't believe me."
An especially peppy gnome stepped forward. "Well, we don't have Venser d'Artagne's portrait just lying around. However, there is a very nice one hanging in a dignified way down this corridor." He began walking away. "Follow me please."
Kanna got up and strolled after him, taking obnoxiously long steps. "This should be interesting." Venser came over to me, streaking mud across the floor.
<I would like to see this,> he commented, jumping up to my shoulder.
<Okay. How do you like D'Eon?>
<He has many interesting things to say. Apparently he came from a combusting tree as well, although, he shares your, erm, dissatisfaction with my clay representation.>
<Wait, you can talk to him?> Could I talk to him in my mind too?
<Yes, I can. I don't know if you can. Currently, I cannot talk to Aithne, but that may change over time.>
All of us were in the corridor now, but D'Eon was stopped at the entrance. The fur on his head and back stood up and he growled. Aithne seemed slightly worried.
"I'm sorry," an apologetic gnome explained. "You are not an honorary gnome, so you cannot go through."
Another gnome appeared carrying a box of challenges. Aithne shrugged and stared at D'Eon for a while. I guess they were having a conversation. Does it look that weird when I do that?
After a minute, she turned. "Come on, let's go see this picture. D'Eon will catch up later."
"Okay." I gulped. I had no idea what the picture would prove. For all I knew, I looked nothing like Venser. Stifling a groan, I picked up the pace, jogging to catch up to Kanna and the gnome. Aithne silently kept pace behind. The brim of my hat slipped into my eyes, and I grabbed it with an sweating fist. This hat better be worth all of this. We just need to get out of here.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:35 pm

D'Eon was interesting. Excitement had drowned out my trepidationa at meeting another live Soulcreature, and D'Eon didn't dissapoint. A bit serious though. It wasn't that he was completely deadpan, but I got the sense he would dissaprove of my antics. In my mind, Pascal's conscious glowed strong in our close proximity, and D'Eon's dimmed as we drew further away.
I hope we get out of this cave soon. It induces claustrophobia.
<I'm glad I'm not,> Pascal put in, quite unnecessarily.
<Thank you for telling me that.> The sarcasm dripped off my voice and congealed on the floor.
<That's a nasty image. Can't you just say it's like jello?> Pascal stroked my wing absently. He must be nervous about seeing this painting.
<And jello's not nasty? That stuff comes from horse hooves! Have you forgotten what your father looked like?> Why else would he be so anxious?
<Is it really?> His voice drifted up, lost as his next thoughts crowded forward. <Well, I noly saw my parents once or twice after the age of six. The images are a bit jumbled.>
I snorted. <Well, hopefully there's some resemblance. Otherwise, Kanna's going to kill you.>
<Literally,> he muttered darkly, ceasing his caressing of my wing.
<Hey, keep that up,> I urged, craning my neck to nudge his negliglent knuckles. <I must say, if there is any resemblance, you may not be able to tell, in the state you're in.>
A large, wiry hand reached up and took me off his shoulder. Next moment, I found myself cradled in his arms. Acting on impulse, I nuzzled against his chest and began purring. Warm happiness also drifted from his mind, and I reveled in it.
Closing my eyes, I basked in the feeling. Kanna's voice broke in, sharp and discordant in my fuzzy world. I leapt up, startling myself and Pascal. Did anyone see that? Ugh, I was just like a kitten...
"Sacred Horse Gods," Kanna swore, staring up at a painting.
Pascal leaned closer, anxiety returning to stain the previous happiness.
"What, what is it?"
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:23 pm


As the portrait came into my vision, I gasped just as loud as Kanna had.
"What the--" I sputtered, trying to come to grips with the reality before me. Kanna's eyes blazed fiery rage in a halo of confusion. Abruptly seizing my collar she dragged me closer to the picture.
Shaking me, she demanded, "What is this, some sort of joke?!"
"N-no!" I managed to get out. Aithne also saw the picture, and she gasped, coming forward slowly.
"What does it mean?" a whisper floated across the dead air.
Kanna glared, splitting venomous eyes between the two of us. "Why is there a picture of you two, looking fancy?"
"It's not....it's not us...," I mumbled.
"Oh yeah?" However, I saw the conviction fading from her stormy grey eyes.
Aithne loosened Kanna's grip on my shirt, her eyes flitting from my father's portrait to my own face. I only had eyes for my mother. At the age of eighteen, she was at the height of ... well, good looks, I guess. The flawless skin of youth and an easy life glowed with contained spirits. Her head was canted, tucked against Venser's, emphasizing the height difference. It also lent alluring shadows to her discreetly coy smile, the corners of her thin mouth slightly upturned. Warm light highlighted her cheek bones, matching the sparkle in her green eyes. Her face, the one I had forgotten so long ago, flooded my mind.
How does that look like Aithne? The moment I thought it, I disbelieved myself. Looking at Aithne, I jumped as our eyes met.
"You do look like them," we both breathed simultaneously. She smiled. "Thanks, I'll take it as a compliment." Her eyes sparkled green and gold mischievously, her smile a rougher, more down-to-earth rendition of the one in the portrait. All the rest was the same. Hair, expression... I jumped at Aithne's touch.
"You've got a twin too," she pointed out, guiding my gaze to my father. Looking at it, I was shocked. Although much older than I am, he looked to be almost exactly the same. If I sat for a court portrait now, that's what it would look like.
Dark hair matched dark brows, pushed back in a hurried fashion. Plain piercing eyes, guarded by a narrow brow, glanced warily and slyly out on the world. His embrace of my mother brought out the angular jaw line, as well as displaying large, crafty hands.
"Whoa," I breathed. I guess Kanna can't doubt it now. I am a Konninger. The d'Artagne part, well, it's imlied. Then, I jumped with realization.
"Aithne!" It came out abruptly. She turned, eyes wide.
"What?"
"Why do you look like my mother? I mean, she's a d'Artagne, and our fathers were Konninger, right?"
Kanna, whom I'd forgotten all about, stepped in, brows arched. "What, you two are related?!"
Aithne seemed to shrink. "Err...Yeah..." My mind was whirling. How can Kanna look like somone she's not a blood relative to?
"Excuse me," a gnome said, bowing low in a bright yellow hat. "I believe I can explain. Venser Konninger married Clayre d'Artagne, producing, if I may call it so, you, Pascal. Valdor was not Venser's brother, but Clayre's. He was a d'Artagne, the eldest child." He bowed again, before scurrying off.
I looked at Aithne, ignoring Kanna's stare. "Okay..." She also seemed a bit overwhelmed.
<D'Eon is almost done with his challenge,> Venser informed me. I scuffed my foot on the floor, looking at the portrait, trying to memorize it's features.
<Good. Then we can get out of here.> Why do I even want to remember this picture? They didn't do anything for me.
<They did more than you think,> Venser snorted, sending up a flame.
<What, what did they do? I barely ever saw them!>
<Exactly.> Oh, yeah. They were Soulbonders, trying to protect me, one of the last ones. Which brought us back to the original question. Why did people want to kill the Soulbonders?
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:18 am

I flicked an ear in irritation. I could feel Aithne's puzzlement and distress, but these infuriating gnomes would not let me pass unless I completed their challenge. Normally, this would not be a problem. However, the...particular challenge that was chosen for me was more than slightly damaging to my pride and dignity. The gnome before me smiled widely and repeated the challenge. "You of much decorum, must now jest! Tell me three puns, and your challenge will be complete." I felt a grown begin deep in my throat, but I withheld it. No sense in defying this, as gnomes will be most difficult if defied. I paced, then sat again, curling my tail over my paws once more. Puns... A first one formulated in my head, and I sighed. Glancing up at the gnome, I directed my thoughts to him. <Must I?> To my great surprise, the gnome actually answered me in my mind. <Yes, you must!> He said. Hm...how interesting that the gnomes are able to communicate with me by mind. In saying this, another pun wormed its way into my mind. Thinking to the gnome, I stated the two. <First, why did the bird go to the doctor?...To receive "tweetment".> I cringed. This was bad. <Second...why did the pig go to the pharmacy?...He was in need of some "oinkment".> The gnome grinned. "Good, good! One more!" He stated. A smirk grew on my face as I replied with a piece of wit that, though I did not believe would count as a pun, I thought to be rather humerus. <I'm glad you found them..."punny".> Within seconds, a white gnome hat was shoved onto my head. Without waiting for any congratulations, I bounded through the corridor in which Aithne had retreated with her companions. When I saw the picture, my eyes narrowed. <Aithne...this painting could prove to be very dangerous for you, Pascal, the last of the Soulbonds, if somehow apprehended from the gnomes. As much as I don't doubt their ability to safeguard it...I still cannot help but be skeptical of keeping such a thing hanging on a wall. At least until the threat against you is abolished.> Her face turned grave as she understood my meaning, and she nodded. Good. Better to be cautious in such a situation as this than underestimate the possibilities of the future. Turning to a more genial topic, I noted to Aithne. <Well well well...there's a pair of spitting images if I have ever laid my eyes on one.> She smiled, and replied, <Pascal, certainly. Though I can't say I've got the same beauty as the woman there.> I purred and nudged her hand with my head. <Though it is true your aunt was a great woman, you surpass her in more ways than one. Though it is true that I may be...slightly biased in your favor.> Chuckling, she scratched between my ears, and despite the pressing situation, we both radiated with happiness.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:07 pm

It's weird, seeing portraits of dead people. I just expect their souls to jump out at me any minute. Of course, they don't, but still. Lounging on Pascal's shoulder, I hummed softly in happiness, as he walked down a corridor. We were finally on our way out of here. Ten more minutes, and no more gnomes. Thank goodness.
<They weren't all that bad,> Pascal chastised.
<You're just glad you got to see some old painting,> I snorted, twitching my tail to tickle his side. His hand immediately grabbed it in an unbreakable hold.
<Stop it,> he growled. Smirking, I relaxed my tail, but he kept it in a tight grip. Fine, be that way. We were on our way out, and that was all that mattered. Almost back to open air! Thank goodness Kanna was so tall. It was easy to follow her through the labrythian tunnels. She had to squint to keep track of the gnome guiding us.
<Why don't they have torches?> I wondered to the world at large.
To my surprise, D'Eon replied, <I believe they feel fire is sacred, and not to be squandered on mundane purposes. Also, their eyes function differently than yours, and have the ability to see in relative darkness.>
<Can you see? I can only smell.> I was really curious.
<Yes. Why is Pascal holding your tail?>
<He's ticklish. I was tickling him.>
<Ahh.> An idea struck me.
<You want to try it?>
<No, thank you. Perhaps another time,> he politely refused.
<Okay.>
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:30 am

I tilted my head to the side, looking past Kanna to the end of the tunnel, from which bright light emanated. The rays of sunlight pierced the darkness of the tunnel, and we all had to squint at the sudden change of lighting.
<Speaking of light and dark.> D'Eon mused in my mind. <Someday, when we have been together longer and are closer to being one, we will be able to, in a sense, share our sight. I posses excellent night vision, which I gather you would find convenient at times.> This instantly piqued my curiosity. <We can do things like that? Or rather, we will be able to?>
<Indeed we will.> I sensed a hint of amusement in his voice, and a small smile played across my lips. It had not yet been a full hour, yet it felt as if D'Eon and I had been friends and companions for much longer. He must have picked up on this thought, because he purred in agreement. Suddenly, I heard a chuckle behind me. Without turning my head from the direction we were walking, I said, "What's so amusing, Pascal?" I could almost feel his smirk coming from behind me. "You and D'Eon are getting along really well." <Well, what else do you expect?> D'Eon answered him in my mind. I was about to repeat his words to Pascal when I heard a whisper of a different voice in my mind. It was thickly layered with sarcasm, and though it was as if I were hearing it from behind a thick layer of fog, I could just make out the words. <D'Eon's being cheeky...typical of a cat.> Beside me, D'Eon growled slightly and flicked back his ears in irritation. Startled, I asked him, <Did you hear that too?>
<Yes. "That" would be Venser. What surprises me is that you could hear him...I was unaware that Soulbonders could communicate with other Soulbonders outside of their specific Soulbond...but alas. There are many things about our bonds that the combusting tree failed to inform us of. By us, I mean us Soulcreatures.>
<Hm..strange. We can sort that out some other time though. We need to figure out where to go next.> For we had exited the mouth of the tunnel, and spread out before us was a picturesque valley nestled between two ginormous mountains, capped with snow. Nestled in the center of the valley was a large city, a prominent castle-like building rising above all the other architecture, visible even from our far-away viewpoint. The gnome turned around to face us, and announced happily, "Welcome to the Valley of the Dragonkings! Beyond the great mountains you see here lie wilderness, and beyond that, the great capitol city where the royal family resides! That city you see in the valley is named similarly to that in which it lies, Dragonkings City! If you are in need of supplies or information, that is your place to be! This is where I leave you, Soulbonders. I wish you luck! Be safe, and if you are ever in need of help, the gnomes are with you, especially now that you are all Honorary Gnomes!" And with that, he scuttled back into the cave, his feet pitter-pattering on the stone ground, and was gone. I inhaled, exhaled and gazed at the city. "Well...you heard the gnome. That's where we need to go."
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:28 pm

The beautific view scorched my eyes, and I winced, fighting the urge to look down and ignore it all. I left this all behind. Now, I have to go back...
Venser nuzzled my ear before leaping skyward. <Hey, it wasn't wasted time. Now, you have me. We can do anything!>
<Someone's glad to be outside.> I couldn't help but smile as Venser's exhiliration surged through me. Kanna cleared her throat. I looked over, and she was astride a horse. I really should learn their names.
<Yes,> came the smug commentary.
Aithne mounted her horse, but looked down at D'Eon with consternation. <Would you like to ride?> I heard her voice very faintly, a whisper on the wind.
D'Eon's tones came over stronger, but the words were more distorted. <No, thank you. Right now, I am almost fully spirit. I can easily match the pace of these creatures, without fatigue.> Aithne nodded.
<Did you hear that?> I asked Venser, who was still doing a vulture act, flying in circles overhead.
<Not really. I wasn't paying attention. I believe you heard the exchange because Aithne's thoughts were unfocused, and sent to the world at large. Also, you were concentrating with the intent of hearing them.>
<I wasn't really trying to eaves drop.> For some reason, I felt convicted.
<I didn't say you were,> Venser replied, atttempting to sound miffed.
"Oi! Mount up!" Kanna demanded. Oh, right. Going up to the nearest beast, I took a breath. Make it better than last time. Inserting one foot in the stirrup, I launched myself up, landing a tad heavier than desirable.
<Not bad,> Venser commented.
I snorted. <Hmph. Bet that's not what Kanna thinks.>
<True.>
Seeing I was mounted, Kanna told the horses to move, I guess with her Horse witch powers, because they all started moving.
"Wait," I stalled. Aithne looke at me with curiosity while Kanna just seemed annoyed. Taking a breath, I began, "We need a plan. Do you have any idea where we're going?"
"To the city," Kanna promptly replied. "Obviously."
"Yes, but that is pretty far away," Aithne ruminated. "We need some place closer. A lot closer."
Kanna rolled her eyes. "Well, if you two know of a place, just let me know. It's not like we have a map."
"True." I scanned the horizon. My gaze was met by rows and rows of towering trees. Do these ones combust?....No, focus.
<There is smoke that way,> Venser pointed out, directing my gaze to the right. Sure enough, slight grey wisps ghosted out of a thicket of trees. The setting sun emphasized the smoky trails.
"There's smoke over there," I told the others. "It's almost night, so we'll camp here tonight, and we can get to the village tomorrow. It'll probably take the whole day."
Kanna dismounted, grumbling, "Yeah, and we'll have to have a great story when we enter the village."
"What do you mean?" Sliding off the saddle, I began gathering loose twigs for a fire. Does Aithne still have my tea leaves in her rosin pot? That'd be good right now.
Aithne sighed. "Good point. We'll discuss it after we've eaten."
<Aloe?> Venser asked hopefully. He must have directed it at Aithne because she glared up at his approaching figure.
<We'll see.>
"Do we even have food?" I asked.
"There's some in the saddle bags," Kanna called over, her voice muffled behind a huge horse she was grooming. "Only enough for tonight though. You'll need to find some tomorrow morning."
You'll need to find some? What does that mean?
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:11 am

I sat and surveyed our current surroundings. Sure enough, I could smell and see the smoke in the distance. I narrowed my eyes in suspicion. Strange that there should be someone making camp so far from the city, unless they were traveling like ourselves. I decided it would be wise to scout out the area.
<Aithne?>
<Hm? What's up D'Eon?>
<I'm going to scout the area and see if it's safe.>
<Good idea. If you find something, it would be a good opportunity to practice communicating to each other long distance and through sharing...mind..pictures of sorts.>
<Indeed it would be.> With that, I stood, stretched, and dashed off into forest, weaving through the dense foliage. Trees whirred past me, and my paws flew over the land. As I drew nearer to the source of the flame, I slowed and crouched into a stalking position. As I passed by the last row of trees, a clearing was revealed. A small cabin was nestled across the clearing from where I stood, smoke lazily floating up from a chimney. I tensed as the door opened, and an old man, sporting a long white beard, strode out of the cabin, directly towards me, and into the woods from which I had just come. I relaxed as he showed no reaction to me. At least, initially. Hm...it will take a while to remember that others cannot see me until introduced. At the very moment I completed this thought, the man paused, turned, and met my gaze. My ears shot back and I growled. Reaching out to Aithne with my mind, I warned her. <There is an old man here. For some reason, he can sense my presence. I do not know if he is friend or foe, but do not underestimate him if he comes in contact with you.> I felt acknowledgement coming from her, and I followed the man back in the direction of our camp. While he didn't turn to look at me any more, I still sensed that he was aware of my presence.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:02 am

Pascal had lit a fire, and I was reaping the benefits. Ahhh.... Sitting in a fire is the only way to do it.
<Humph,> Pascal scoffed. I ignored him, spreading my wings to fan the flames to greater heights. Aithne was rubbing aloe into Pascal's back, and I was hoping to reap the benefits.
<I don't know if she'll give you the leaves.> Spoil sport. At least his burns were healing. The skin still looked atrocious, but most of them were healed. Only the most severe ones on his back still caused pain.
"Venser, could you please get out of the fire?" Aithne asked politely.
<Of course,> I replied genially. Now will she give me some? Sadly, she just shoved a little pot of water into the spot I recently vacated. Pascal inhaled deeply.
"Oh, tea...so good," he sighed.
Kanna snorted derisively. "You haven't even tasted it yet."
"Yeah, well, I've had it before." Wow. What a lame response.
<Shut up.>
<That's better,> I teased. Aithne's voice intruded on my thoughts.
<Hey, are you ready?> My spirits soared.
<Aloe?>
<Er, no. Something better.> What? Confusion flooded my senses. What is better than aloe?
<Remember, Pascal is tickl-->
<Yes! I'm ready!> I practically shouted. Hurriedly, I blocked all of my thoughts from Pascal. Can't let him know.
<Now?> I asked eagerly, hopping from one foot to the other.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:00 pm

Vakrom sat silently in the middle of a cave, fingering the ashes of a recent campfire. So, they were here. Aithne had a good memory, to remember this place. He lay on his back, preparing to wait out the night. The real mystery was where they went next. Seemingly, they had all walked right into one of the cave walls.
<Yessss. The gnomessssss have helped them essssscape.>
He grunted in assent, crossing his arms behind his head. <Yes, but we can't expect the same favor.> What to do? Well, he would have to continue following them. If they reached the city... or even met --
<We mussssst find them.>
<Yes. We will, don't worry.>
<It is you who should worry.>
He shifted uncomfortably. <Yes. We can move on in the morning. There is a way out in the back of this cave. The smugglers built a ladder system.>
That girl was sure causing problems. At least there was still the other one...
<You knew Aithne would never become one of usssss.>
He grunted noncomitally. <Good night.>

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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:38 pm

Pascal was still laying on his stomach from having the aloe spread onto his wounds. His eyes were closed, tiredly. I gently shifted my head to Venser. Three...two....one....now! I mouthed to him. As soon as the silent words left my mouth, we both "tackled" Pascal. I jumped to his side and held down his arms and legs, while Venser jumped onto his back, tickling his sides and armpits as fast as he could without hurting him. His scream of protest was cut off by uncontrolled laughter, and though he struggled, Venser and I were too much for him. I grinned and laughed as tears started rolling down his cheeks from the tickling-induced laughter. When he started to struggle breathing, I smiled sympathetically and said, "Venser, I think he's been properly tickled." Venser obliged and jumped onto the back of Pascal's head, ceasing his tickling, and I let go of my friend's limbs. He gasped for air and glared jokingly at us. "I cannot believe you t-!" His statement was interrupted by a hiccup.I laughed again, and said, "Well, you knew you had it coming from the moment Venser and I found out you were ticklish!" He sighed, accepting that as a fact. Another hiccup. Pascal dragged himself into a sitting position, and sat glaring into the firing. His pouting was made humerus by yet another hiccup. Though Kanna had been silent this whole time, a "pfffffft" sound could be heard from her direction. Looking over to her, I grinned as I noticed her trying to hold in her laughter. Finally, after the next hiccup, she bust up, laughing hysterically. I chuckled. It was pretty funny. Pascal blushed in emarassment and stalked towards the woods. Then, I got a dim message from D'Eon. Calling out to Pascal, I exclaimed, "If you're going for a walk, try to meet up with D'Eon! He's coming back this way, and there's...company on the way as well!" He paused and turned back, his face serious. Nodding, he continued into the forest. I took it upon myself to tell D'Eon of him, to ensure that they would meet up. <D'Eon, Pascal is coming to meet you.> "Be careful!" I called out. I wanted to go with him, but I felt it would be wrong to leave Kanna alone by the fire.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:55 pm

The nerve of those two, tickling me like that. Oh well. I shrugged philosophically. I guess it's a miracle they waited this long. The smooth grassy floor was a relief after the rocky tunnels. Several mushrooms grew along the path, so I bent to pick them. If Aithne said they were poisonous, I wouldn't eat them, but I may as well take them. Just in case. My conscious was suddenly overwhelmed by the impression of a large entity stalking towards me. I whirled around, relieved to see only D'Eon.
<How'd you make yourself seem so big?> I asked. Hope he can hear me.
<It is just a suggestion. You could have countered it, with practice.> His deep purr was rather soothing. Especially in comparison to Venser, D'Eon seemed extremely rational. He continued padding back towards camp, twitching his ears.
<Come, there is a man coming to the camp. We should get back.>
<Oh, okay,> I said, dropping the mushrooms. D'Eon paused.
<Bring the plants. Aithne believes them to be edible.>
Rolling my eyes at the world, I scooped the fungi back up and ran after D'Eon.
<So, do Soulcreatures need to eat?> I asked, trying to make conversation.
<In theory, no. However, we can eat, and some take pleasure in it. Depending on our level of physicality at the specific time, food can increase our energy levels. However, sleep is the most beneficial.>
<Oh. Then why does Venser eat aloe?>
He snorted. <I believe the little hooligan enjoys the hallucinations, as well as confusing you and Aithne.>
Figures, I scoffed, vowing to not give Venser any food, even if he begged for it.
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