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 Soulbond: The Beginning

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SunlitStars
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:48 pm

I smiled slightly as Pascale stalked off into the woods, his ears still burning from the embarrassment of being subjected to a "tickle attack". I mean he is royalty...
No, I'm not thinking about that, I've got too much to deal with, I told myself.
My lips pulled upward at the corners as one of the horses nuzzled my shoulder. I always felt better with my horses... I grinned and stroked the horses smooth, firm, neck. Absentmindedly, I thought of the time in the caves. Yes, the painting had creeped me out a bit. I have always hated portraits of dead people, they watched you and asked you why they were dead. I shuddered, and goose bumps rose on my arms.
I almost can't believe that Pascal is royalty, though. He seems so... normal. How stupid I've been... My anger wasn't really turned on Pascale, I knew that now. I was really just angry at myself for being so normal, so ordinary...
But the horses. You are a Horse Witch, one of the most highly regarded in your village! said the voice in my head.
My self-pity blocked the voice out. Pascale could just waltz into any palace or kingdom, and they would let him in, as soon as he had mentioned his surname. Who was I? Just some 17 year old girl from the Northern Plains without a last name.
These thoughts had barely lasted half a minute, and I could still see Pascal's retreating figure, and his extensive burns that would surely scar...
He wouldn't have been here if it weren't for me, I realized. All those days and hours ago, (it seemed like a lifetime) the old warehouse was shaking threatening to collapse, and I pulled him away. I had dubbed Idiot Boy after he had foolishly ran back into the building, hadn't I? I wasn't sure any more. Everything seemed like a dream. There was one thing I was sure of, though. There was the boy I had rescued from the fire, and there was the wide-eyed prince staring at the painting of his dead father. It was up to me to decide if they were the same person. It was up to me to decide if I would hate someone because of where they were born, because of the fancy title they had no control over. I let my anger fall from my shoulders, and decided.
Pascal was Pascal, and no castle nor any amount of money would change the fact that he had run from the fire with me, had wept for Panda with me, and had become my companion.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:06 pm

Oh, that was good... Shuffling my talons, I raked up a cloud of dust. Quickly snorting two thing jets of air, I shaped the falling dirt into a wispy spectre. I giggled, then lay down. The soft newly turned earth settled into the ridges in my scales, providing a welcome layer of insulation. The bright sun had long since dimmed, and the edges of the mountains were just lit by it's fading glow. As the fire all around dimmed, our personal camp seemed that much warmer. However, it was getting colder by the minute, and Pascal wasn't back yet.
<You almost here?> I asked, not really thinking about it. Nerves rippled along my spine, and I jumped into the air as Pascal stepped on a leaf right by my head. Hovering, I let my frustration dissipate. Hmph, finally.
A smile split his face, momentarily erasing the strain of fatigue. "Hey, I'm glad you're in a good mood." He sat down, dumping a pile of mushrooms onto the floor near Kanna. "We're having a visitor soon."
Kanna's eyes widened as she snapped out of her daze. "What's this for?" she demanded, eyebrows frowning intensely. Aithne's hand flicked forward, snatching up the pile in a defensive gesture.
"These are dinner," she snapped, the hard edge formed of excitement rather than annoyance. Pascal rooted through the nearest saddlebag.
<Do you know if there's water?> he asked.
<How should I know?>
<Alright,> he sighed, acknowledging the massive pack's victory over him. "I'll just sit here and shrivel up into a prune."
Interesting... I smirked at the image of a wrinkly Pascal.
Aithne glanced up from carefully scrutinizing the mushrooms. "I've got some water over there, under my jacket."
Kanna's brow was puckered in confusion. "What is a prune?"
"Dried plum," Pascal answered automatically. Her face quickly adopted it's habitual look of oh-right-its-some-snobbish-rich-noble-type-food-that-I-would-never-know-about-in-a-million-years.
<Do prune's induce hallucinations?> I asked.
<No, they do not,> D'Eon answered, and I jumped, sending up another dust cloud.
Coughing, I managed to get out, <Great. Maybe I'll substitute them for aloe.>
His amusement, warm and...fuzzy?..., washed over me, alleviating my dirt induced cough. <That would be agreeable. However, I doubt we will be coming across prunes in the middle of this forest.>
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:20 pm

Footsteps crunched across the forest litter. Too many footsteps. I quickly got to my feet, eyes straining to see into the shadowy forest. First, D'Eon. His paws scarcely made a sound, but it was there. Pascal came next, and I couldn't read the expression on his face. There was a third. He was an old man with a flowing white beard and a pale blue robe tied with an earthy brown rope and tassel.
"Greetings. My name is Ganesh."
Aithne was standing near the fire, it's flickering tongues casting shadows on her sharp-boned face.
"Who are you?" she whispered, her eyes staring at him in wonder. "I feel as if I've met you in a dream, or in a dream of a dream."
The man, Ganesh, regarded her with a deep, intense gaze. “Yes, you have the air of the royal family in you. Not as much as this one here, but enough that I might have known your dreams." His gaze flickered over to me. “And here is one I might have known anywhere. Your tanned skin, suspicious eyes, and the way your horses move around you, as if you are all at once the lead mare, the cougar, and the center of the world. Greetings, Horse Witch of the Northern Tribe.”
“How have you come to know me, you man who speaks of dreams as if they are the butterflies of the world?” I hooded my eyes as I said this, unnerved that he had described the bond between me and my horses so accurately.
I, well, I am Ganesh. I have known many things, including two people that you might know, Pascal. They are Venser and Valdor, and there were never such good friends as us three.”
Pascal's surprised face had a more than a hint of caution in it. “You knew my father and uncle?” he murmured.
“Yes. I knew them and their Soulbonds very well, even though I did not have one myself.” he sighed suddenly, “Yes, I knew them very well, as well as the third friend can know the two others that share an exciting and dangerous secret. But come, I can tell you more in my home, and my old bones are telling me it is cold out.” Ganesh turned away and started walking toward the woods.
Pascal, Aithne, and I shared a swift but meaningful glance. It said, Can we trust him? Can we trust anyone, knowing who we are? Yes. We trust him for the same reason the starving wild dog trusts the man that leaves scraps by his back door, even though it might be a trap. For we are starving, starving from the lack of history and the lack of stories. And we have nowhere else to go to.

We walked into the woods.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:17 pm

Why we followed that man, I don't know. Something made me trust him, although, the fact he knew my past made me edgy.
<He smells nice,> Venser commented, sitting on my shoulder, bobbing with each stiff step I took.
<Uh...what does that mean?> Crushed leaves underfoot emanated a muksy scent. Thankfully, the chilly air was too thin to retain all of the thick fragrance. Otherwise, the density of the forest would have been overwhelming, with swooping branches of murky brown snaking their way between small patches of open space.
<It means exactly what it sounds like. He has a nice smell.>
<Okay...> Suddenly, I was struck by a feeling of absolute silence. Focusing on Aithne and Kanna, I realized they had halted at the edge of a clearing.
"Uh, why'd we stop?" I asked, surveying the blank meadow. The only outstanding features were a couple large mushrooms. Ganesh strode unconcernedly to the center of the grass.
He crooked a finger at us. "Come." This guy really wasn't big on words. His silence had lent a sense of foreboding to the trek to his "house." It really looked more like a mound of grass.
Warily, all three of us stepped forward, slowly, feeling each step before trusting the ground with our foot. Abruptly, I halted as Ganesh held up a hand.
"Welcome to my home," he stated. Throwing back his cloak, he seemed to gain height, a rush of power coursing through is elderly frame. Gleaming silver, his eyes flashed as he split the air with out stretched arms. Out of nowhere, an archway appeared, the exact width of one human. Ganesh stepped through the hovering arch, into a cozy room one could see from our side.
"What the...?" Kanna breathed. "Did that just happen?" For some reason, the horses weren't spooked, and I took that as a good omen. Holding doubt and fear in check, I took a deep breath and followed Ganesh into the unknown realm.
Peering around Venser on my shoulder, I looked at Aithne and Kanna. "Come on!" The very air tingled with sticky magic.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:57 pm

Passing through that portal was the eeriest thing I had ever done. The webs of energy forming the split in the physical realm felt strangely familiar, but more alien, more powerful than the spirit powers I had previously encountered. Flashes of silver power teased the edges of my vision, only visible to the indirect gaze. Snapping out of my trance, I took in the surroundings. Instead of a forest glade, we were now all, including the horses, in a small antechamber paved in cobblestones. The walls appeared to be wood, but they gleamed silver, so I doubted they were real. Most likely an illusion.
<Where are we?> Pascal's voice whispered, eyes locking onto mine. Shadows of blue wonder tainted the fearful yellow and awed brown in those luminescent orbs.
<Why should I know? Ask Ganesh.> Whoa, did I just give him free advice.
<It seems you did,> D'Eon's purr slipped in. Gah! Now other...entities...can read my thoughts too!
<I cannot do that. You simply have very penetrating thoughts. They are undisciplined, so they fly all over.> His warm amusement stoked my irritation.
<Hmph.>
"Nice to meet you, Venser," Ganesh said, making me jerk up sharply.
Nodding, I queried Pascal, <How much of the conversation did I miss?>
<Nothing important. He just formally introduced himself to everyone else, including all of the horses.>
Good. I didn't look like a daydreaming buffoon.
A snort issued from Pascal. <Well, we couldn't have that now, could we?> Unable to restrain myself, I snorted a puff of flame into his ear. The ensuing yelp was far from soothing, but extremely satisfying.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:27 am

Weird. I had never before experienced magic like this. The walls and furniture shimmered subtly, refracting light with a faint sheen that was barely visible. The old man began to talk.
“Please, sit.” He said, gesturing to a couch while he himself sat in an armchair opposite us. “Now... You wanted to know the story of the father and the uncle, correct?” He smiled a faint half-smile. “Then I will tell you a story.

“Once, long ago, but not nearly as long ago as you might think, I lived with my father, a Duke. My father had business to attend to with the King, so we were spending a few days at the castle. That was when I first saw them. Venser was sneaking into the kitchen, a grin plastered on his face, holding an empty pillowcase. Valdor followed cautiously and closely behind, looking about him guiltily. Quite soon, a ruckus was raised in the kitchen followed with a resounding smack, and Venser came shooting out, chortling. Valdor was right on his heels, rubbing his head with a frown on his face. Valdor and I were six at the time, Venser being seven. We left the next day, my father and I, and I wouldn't see those two for a long time.
“When next I saw them, I was fourteen. There was a horse fair going on. The boys' father had instructed the Stable Master to teach the head-strong young lads about choosing a horse. Of course, you know that a horse fair is more of a social event than a place for selling horses, although they do that too. So it wasn't really surprising that the Stable Master went off to a tavern with a couple of his friends, leaving Valdor and Venser alone. Of course, I found all this out later, for I was with my father selling some of our stock. I left my father haggling with someone of a particularly fine broodmare and walked around the back of a tent. And was nearly trampled. In the barest splinter of a second, when this horse's large shoulder erupted from seemingly nowhere, I looked up. Venser was astride the wild horse, Valdor desperately clutching a rope tied to it's halter. Venser looked down, and a wild cat's grin flashed across his face. Then the moment passed. I was knocked backward, the rope snapped, and Venser tumbled off the horse to slam into me. All in all, I had a bruised head and a bloody nose. The horse soon galloped off, and shouts and running footsteps came to our ears. Venser cursed under his breath as he and his brother got shakily to his feet. He looked down the row of tents and grabbed my wrist and pulled me to my feet. 'Hey, guy, we need a hiding place.' he told me in a laxy matter-of-fact manner. 'Wha-what?' I must admit I was knocked a little silly. 'Geez, Hiding! Place! It's not exactly alchemy.' 'Oh. Right.' I hurried around the tent, and held up my hand when we reached the tent flap. If we did this right, my father would neither see nor hear us coming or leaving. I bent my knees and ghosted through the tent entrance. My father's back was to me, and the buyer briefly looked up, but I suppose he was too busy trying to get a decent deal on the horse. Anyway, I crossed the tent and left out the side entrance, hurried across a small side-alley, and opened the back door to a tavern I was familiar with. 'Hurry up, go up the stairs to your right, there will be a loft.' I watched the two brothers scramble up the stairs. 'So. Who're you two?' 'I am Venser!' the older one proclaimed. 'Oh, and this is Valdor.' 'Hi.' the younger, more serious and quieter of the two said. 'Can I ask who you are?' 'Oh. I am Ganesh.'
“We sat cross-legged in the attic/loft for a while, just looking at each other. 'Well, I actually have to go.' Venser said suddenly. He and Valdor slipped out the back door as quiet as mice, and soon disappeared.
“I kept seeing them everywhere, and soon we became friends. It was the kind of friendship where you actually cannot say where it begins. My father moved into a cottage near the castle for some reason, and I had more and more lessons with the boys. Quite soon, we were inseparable.
“But then we grew up and... things happened. We all moved away from each other and pursued our own lives. And then they died...” Ganesh trailed off, the light of a remembered youth that had lit up his face now dimmed, remembering a tragedy long lost. “All the Soulbonded were called to this meeting, you see. And there they were killed. All of them.”
I could almost hear everyone in the room thinking in the silence that followed.
“Who killed them all?” Pascal looked at Ganesh with questioning eyes.
“Let me tell you something, young Pascal. And you too, Aithne and Kanna. You are up against a power of which you can only dream about. There are a cloaked few that have no name for themselves. Those that have met them and survived call them the Apakr̥ṣṭa Bēśī, or the Wretched Ones.”
The three of us glanced at one another.
“I have not heard about them...” Aithne stated, her eyebrows furrowed.
“There are not many that have.” Ganesh said heavily. “I shall tell you how they came to be.
“Once, there was a young Soulbonder. He was handsome, brawny, and powerful. Then there was his friend. His best friend was a Soulbonder too, but not as powerful. Soon the Soulbonder's friend became jealous of his good fortune. He set out to ruin him. It was in the basement of an ancient library, where he was browsing amongst the oldest scrolls in the land. Then, he found it. A decrepit tome blackened with age, telling the secrets of the mystery that is the Soulbond. After reading it, he burned it so that others would not know the secrets he knew.
“The next day, he asked his powerful friend if he would take a walk with him. They soon came to a river. Taking his friend by surprise, the evil Soulbonder clubbed his friend behind his head. His friend fell, unconscious. Working quickly, he sprinkled water on his friend's Soulcreature, a black panther, to weaken it. He then steeled himself to do the most terrible thing a person can ever do. He drowned his own Soulcreature. His body reacted horribly, his soul reeling in the shock of loosing half of itself. It was then, when his soul was the most vulnerable, he bound the other Soulcreature to himself. Coughing up blood, he pushed his best friend into the river. He watched until the body of his friend drift out of sight. Now, you might survive the death of your Soulcreature (many who have usually go mad and commit suicide), but no one can live thorough having their half of their soul torn forcibly from them. As was such of the Soulbonder's friend. He was dead before he hit the water.” Ganesh slowly shook his grey head sadly. “No one knows what happened after that. But, somehow, I think the unnamed Soulbonder gathered others to his cause, the greedy and the weak seeking him, the promise of revenge and power, forming the Apakr̥ṣṭa Bēśī.”
“But wouldn't the newly bound Soulcreatures resist the binding to their Soulbond's murderer?” Pascal questioned.
“Now here is what I think is the saddest part of this tale. The Soulcreatures have no recollections of their previous life. They do not know who they are, or who the murdered person on the ground in front of them is.”
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:03 am

A thin shiver of dread crawled up my spine, splitting into thousands of pinpricks dancing down my wings. Instinctively, I huddled against Pascal, soaking in his warmth while lying on his chest. His arm curled across my back protectively and I hummed.
<Mrrrrrrrrrrrrp.>
<You alright?> Pascal's voice floated in, breaking the eerie calm which settled across the room, the others deep in their own thoughts.
<Yes. It just seems so...horrible.> I felt his silent agreement, his emotions rising and falling slowly like his body under me.
<That's so awful. To have you die, it would be like my soul being split.>
I felt Pascal rise from his seat on the wicker chair. Feet thudding on the dirt floor, he paced, absently stroking me with one hand. Peering around with my neck, I gazed at Ganesh. So, he knew the other Venser...
"Why are you here?" Kanna's voice snapped all of us back to reality.
"Pardon?" Ganesh replied.
She shrugged. "I mean, since you were so close in the court and all, why are you living in a mysterious house that doesn't really exist in the middle of some backwards forest?"
A closed look came over Ganesh's already reserved expression, his eyes hardening slightly. "I-It is a painful story..."
Aithne sat forwards. "I'm sorry, we don't mean to pry..." Her expression belied her inner curiousity.
"Perhaps some other time. What's important right now is not the past, but your future. If I'm not mistaken, you need provisions, to get to town." Ganesh began rummaging through a trunk.
"Here, I've been saving these for you." He pulled out five mysterious bundles.
<What the-?>
Pascal shrugged. <This is unexpected.>
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:14 pm

Ganesh pulled out the packages, each wrapped in a cloak.
"Excuse me, I must form a spell of reopening." He murmured to us. "Ki yē hala āmāra bhaẏēsa, śithila karā ki khani niẏē an'yēra mana icchā bandha cābuka, atītēra gōpana ānalaka." He muttered. The cloaks slowly unwound themselves around each of the bundles. The first to unwrap was a deep purple-blue cloak, with the underside the pale yellow and rose of a sunrise over the sea.
"It is for you." Ganesh told me. His aged, knotted, and veined hands caressed the smooth cloth, until it cascaded like water over his hands. Inside were two stones. One was onyx, black as a night in a cave without stars. The other was as white and pure as snow before a unicorn They were opposites, these two stones, and yet somehow similar. I knew exactly where they belonged. They belonged to the great twin swords of legend, Yin and Yang. The two swords that were currently wrapped in torn and singed scraps of silk in my leather bag.
"What are they, Kanna?" Aithne asked me.
"Umm, they're... from my village. Just some stones my mother used to keep." A lie. I was lying to them, my companions, as was my nature. Ganesh looked at me somewhat surprised and confused, but he quickly gave each of the others their packages. I heard exclamations of wonder and excitement, and a stony silence from Pascal's chair. I didn't care enough to wonder what the others had gotten.
"Now, listen!" Ganesh was speaking again. It was a wonder his voice didn't give out from all the talking. "Young ones, do not ignore the wrappings your gifts came in. These cloaks are magical. Who would like to demonstrate?" D'Eon must have given some kind of signal, because he stood up and threw his cloak over himself, covering his body. The cloak began to writhe and shiver over him, and the binx seemed to grow beneath it. Suddenly, he stood up.
D'Eon was a human. He had ruffled, straight light brown hair, and rigidly carved facial features.
"I'm... a human." His slightly surprised voice was analytical in sound, and flowed with an alien grace.
"Yes. It tends to do that." Ganesh said wryly. "And as for our human friends, they turn into whatever soulcreature they are soulbonded to. But, as our dear friend D'Eon pointed out, You do not need look like your soulbond."
At this, Pascal and Venser locked eyes and began what I could only assume was a telepathic conversation. My eyes wandered over to Aithne and D'Eon, who were muttering to each other under their breath; it seemed that they couldn't communicate through mind-speech.
"Wait..." I said suddenly, drawing all eyes to me. "What happens when I put on my cloak?" Ganesh looked almost a little frightened, and surprised, like a child caught in a wrongdoing.
"Do you not have a soulcreature?" When I shook my head, he looked worried, and started muttering, "but the prophesy, the prophesy..."
"Um, what was that?" I asked, for I could not quite hear him.
"Well, keep it, anyway. It might work out." He looked at me worriedly.
"Um, excuse me, I don't quite-"
"On to other things!" he practically shouted. "We must plan out your venture into the city!" He shuffled out of the room, beckoning us to follow him, all the while muttering "worrisome" under his breath.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:25 am

The edge of my consciousness registered Kanna's words, and Ganesh's vague mutterings. However, the whole of my mind was rebounding off the inside of the oak box on my lap. The wicker seat under me creaked as I bent forward, ashen forehead resting on the open lid of the simply crafted box. To the lingering eye, only the extreme precision of it's workmanship - the clean angles, finely forged clasps, delicate toolwork - set it apart from the commoners' stock of chests. Even without the gold inlaid griffin crest of Konninger I could have easily estimated it's value to be over thirty gold marks, from the simple aura it possessed. The thought began to formulate, Why does he have this? It was obviously the signet box of my father, Venser Konninger.
<Remember, he was friends with him,> Venser put in, temporarily shoving aside some of my confusion.
<True.> I looked further in, my closed look clearing into a simple deadpan expression as I took in the contents. There were three items, each triggering a separate, equally painful and unwelcome memory...
...Pudgy hands clenched in a fist, I pounded my fist on the floor, the slick wood panelling deflecting my temper driven attack with practiced ease. Tears pricked the corners of my eyes, helping to clear the crustiness of sleep from the wide, glowing orbs. Peering through the forming mist, I finally fell unmoving on the longsuffering floor, small hands clutching the carpet. It's always the same, I sniffed, nose running on the ornate purple and gold woven tapestry my distressed hands had pulled from the wall, uncovering the secret-doorway-that-was-supposed-to-be-secret-but-never-had-been. Why does she always have to go? my five year old mind screamed through silent tears, shimmering into the room and dissipating into the finest droplets. Every morning, exactly when the sun blazed through the third uppermost window pane, my mother appeared, her smile shining brighter than the midmorning glare. For a few glorious minutes, maybe even a full hour, I was happy, not alone in the desolate world. Then, when we had played for some time, but always too short, she would grow sad, and suggest playing hide and seek. I sighed, curling into a ball on the torn tapestry. Usually, I did not mind the "secret door." It was simply a fact, that she always would go out that way, for some inexplicable reason. In the fifteen minute silence before the tutor fetched me for "lessons" I always stared at that wall, the mysterious portal covered by an elaborate woven masterpiece, wishing with all my heart she would somehow reappear, to stay for just a moment longer.
But she never did. Today, the grief had been too much. Thus, the tapestry lay on the floor, and I lay on it. Amongst sobs, my distracted mind registered the soft tap of someone on the other side of the door.
No, go away! I'm not ready!I wanted to yell. Wait! I crept to my feet, unbelievingly staring at the slow opening of the door. Not the ornate chamber door. The hidden door!
Elation nearly bursting my chest at the seams, I stumbled in my too big robes, the ridiculous get up of the "young court" hindering my progress towards the ever widening portal.
"Mamma!" Only as a burning agony planted in my shoulder, did I register the unfamiliar face, foreign in day old stubble and a slight sunburn. The world drowned in black, and I fell unfeeling to the floor...
...deep pain...It resurfaced, multiple times, but I always went back under a mere second later...
..."Assassins...how did they get in? How did they know of the secret door?" Eyes closed, the sound of familiar voices penetrated my cocoon of numbness....
..."At least there is no harm done." A surgeon's voice. "Thank the stars his robes are so loose. Otherwise, there's no way the knife would have missed." A pause....
..."Heh, there's a scar..so what? You'll forget about it. Hey, I'm glad you're alive, son..."...

<That is the only time I ever remember him actually talking with me,> I sighed, fingers deftly running over the assassin's knife, for some unknown reason preserved in this box. Such a painful story...physically and mentally. Why remind me of it, all these years later?
<That dagger is evil,> Venser sniffed, recoiling from it's plain dull blade.
I responded dourly, <No, really?> but I didn't really have my heart in it.
<Yes...I feel a strong repulsion. However, it seems to share a part of your soul.>
<What?!>
<It feels like your mind. How odd,> he mused. Shrugging, I thrust the blade back into the box, narrowly missing my fingers as I slammed the lid shut. <Hey, that is probably important.>
Yes, I know it is...but...I don't want to have to face it right now...and the other thins in there... I flexed my fingers blinking rapidly. Blankly, my eyes scanned the room, taking in Ganesh's busy figure, Kanna's perplexity, and Aithne's complete bewilderment. Sighing, I stood, the knife I the box shifting, rustling some piece of parchment which accompanied it.
<Come on, read it!> Venser urged, hopping up and down, flapping his wings comically. <It probably explains why you have that soul-knife thingy.>
<It's not a soul-knife!> I snapped, sudden realization flooding in. <It's a blood avenger...>
Venser calmed down, settling on a lampstand, and cocking his head in the slanted light. <Oh? Do these have soul bits in them?>
<Y-yes,> I shuddered. The fables were extremely unpleasant. <Essentially, it is a knife cursed by one man , and then gifted to an assassin. It gains extra power, or something....I don't know. But, if the assassin fails, only wounding the intended victim, the knife absorbs the blood it spilt, from then on developing a bond with that soul. It's some sort of balance system. You know, since it did harm, now it has to try and do good...> I trailed off. These things were really confusing, and I never thought I'd have to deal with it in anything other than legend.
<Well then,> Venser concluded smugly. <Since it is attached to your soul, it is a soul-knife.>
"Agh!" I accidentally vented out loud, startling Aithne out of her stupor.
Ganesh hadn't heard, but Kanna also stared up at me.
"Now what?"
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:11 am

Yeah. Pascal's weird. Suddenly crying out in frustration and refusing to talk about it even though your eyes are tormented with a thousand secrets tends to get you labeled like that. But it's not like I cared. <Yes, you do care. You're just too scared to admit it.> Shut up! I thought at the corner of my mind that wasn't completely my own. Anyway, no I did NOT care, and it was going to stay that way. I only had one purpose now, and that was to do something against the person that had caused me pain. Yes, it was petty of me, but I just don't care, now do I? I am a truly vengeful person at heart, despite my sweet and innocent exterior. Yes, I was sworn to commit revenge on the person who did me wrong, but it was turning out to be a much harder task than I had once imagined. A secret cult full of murderers and deadly magic was not something I could go up against single-handedly right now. But... Pascale and Aithne are my traveling companions, right? They might be able to help me, even if they are not as motivated by revenge as I am.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:11 pm

Since Pascal obviously wasn't in a great mood, I didn't bother restraining a most undignified yawn as I sat on Pascal's head.  Despite my best efforts, I couldn't help the genuine chuckle that rumbled through my belly.  No, no one is allowed to hear my true laugh.  The horrors!  I shifted my leg to hook behind Pascal's ear for a better grip, earning myself an annoyed glance.  
<Really, you need to get your hair to grow more, it's ticklish,>  I paused, trying to think of a more plausible motivation.  Who can tell what drives the human adolescent mind?
<Who can fathom the depths of sarcasm?> Pascal growled, closing his wooden box abruptly, causing one edge of the parchment inside to catch in the lock.  
<It also provides a much better purchase for my->
<If you don't like it, don't sit there,> he muttered darkly, scowling at the world at large.  With a snort I stretched my wings, letting my tail flick lazily in front of his face.  I'm the only one who's allowed to be grumpy right now.
A voice intruded, < I cannot even begin to explain the fallacies behind that remark>. Sitting stoically at Aithne's side, D'Eon's eyes tracked Ganesh's increasingly frantic gestures on the opposite side of the room.
This intrusion of privacy business is really getting annoying.  With Pascal, it's okay, cause I can eavesdrop on his every whim, but other people...or creatures...
<How->
<Your emotions are not very discreet.>  Hmph
<That's not what I was going to ask, and you are being intrusive.>  From the corner of my eye, I saw his fur ruffle. I was distracted from further comment by Ganesh's pacing.  Guiltily, I ducked my head under a wing, realizing that I had tuned out his rant for the past ten minutes.  It's not like he can be saying anything all that interesting, more interesting than a SoulKnife thingy, or prying secrets from unwilling Bondmates.
<I am merely attempting an insightful comment on the strength of your and Pascal's combined irritation,> D'Eon commented.  Miffed, I stuck my nose in the air, feigning nonchalance.  How dare he mock me as if I'm some annoying relative.  A sharp PHIZ....THWAP! interrupted my thoughts, sending my tense body rocketing to the  ceiling in anticipation.  
Well, that's where the ceiling would have been, anyways.  The entire room was dissolving into a vortex of color.  Okay, I know I haven't eaten aloe for a couple of days now...  Almost immediately, the ghostly form of Ganesh appeared, shoving everything into a weird net of blackness.  Blinking furiously, I tried to glimpse anything in the large immensity.  However, the only conscious feeling which remained was a slight sense, almost smell, of my usual companions.  
<What is going on?!> I yelled.  Judging by the silence, no one could hear.  Panic began to set in as I groped around in vain for Pascal's usual presence.  
"I imagine you are all very confused right now," Ganesh began, his voice emanating from some place I felt to be in front of me.  Understatement of the century. "However, none of you were paying attention," as sigh, "as is only to be expected, but there wasn't enough time to explain.  We are now in a temporary spacial rift.  It is a pocket in the Soulbarrier, created by my Soul.  When our time expires, about three minutes, we will all be deposited in an unknown location, with all of the belonging I shoved into this pocket with us.  The sorcerers had begun unravelling the illusion on my house, and they would have captured all of us in minutes.  I was unaware of their approach, as worked up as I was with your arrival.  For that, I am sorry."  He paused, although uncertain is not the word to describe it.  "I don't think any of you can speak in here, as it is my Soul, so save your questions for later.  However, do not expect much.  When we emerge, we begin training immediately."
Somehow, when we landed with six thumps on an unforgiving mixture of obsidian, gravel, and ash, I wasn't surprised to hear three simultaneous cries of, "What training?"
Still rather dazed, I only just made out his response.  "To defeat the whole evil regime, overthrow the Dummkopf, and restore the Soulbonders, of course."  
Of course.  What else would I have expected?
Naturally, I asked, <What's for lunch?>
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:49 pm

 Great,  now we're starting a political revolution...    Oh well.  Quite suddenly,  we were dumped unceremoniously on some gravely ground.  Hmmmmmm...  I stood up,  brushing some gravel and soot off my clothes.  Upon examining a fragment of rock,  I found it to be obsidian.  I turned and raised my head,  smelling the air.  Definitely a volcano.

“Erm,  Ganesh?  Why are we on the side of a volcano?”  I asked,  interrupting his explanation.

“Volcano?”  Aithne asked,  somewhat alarmed.

“Yeah.”  I knelt down and ran my hands through the gravel.  “There's a ton of broken up volcanic rock,  as well as a large amount of obsidian,  which forms from cooling lava.  I think it's been dormant for a while,  though.  The ground isn't nearly hot enough.”

“Like I said,  we have no control over where it deposits us.”  Ganesh stated calmly.

I raised an eyebrow with some difficultly.  “Really?  So it could have spat us out at the bottom of an ice ravine?  In the center of an active volcano?  A labyrinth of underground caves?”

Ganesh shifted uncomfortably.  “Well,  I suppose,  yes it could...  But the point is,  we're here now!  Safe and sound!”

Just great... I muttered to myself I'm stuck on the side of a volcano,  Horse Gods know where,  with two heirs to a throne,  two invisible animals,  and a deranged wizard.  Why do I have to make things so difficult for myself?

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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:03 pm

Heaving my cape over my shoulder, I lugged the makeshift sack over to a flat outcropping.  The smooth ledge stuck out from the gravelly slope, stark black on muted grey.  Sitting cross legged on the ground, I unfolded the garment, swiftly dividing the contents into piles.  Signet box, blood avenger, weird cape, one leather packet of...Struggling with the knotted cord, I finally resorted to using my teeth to free what turned out to be a package of jerky.
<Very nice,> Venser stated, landing amidst the pile of items yet to be sorted.  His claws scratched against the unyielding ground as he rooted through the heap of items.  <Where'd all of this come from?>
I gestured vaguely to the left.  <Over there.>  Self-consciously, I sat upright under the combined stare of two unpredictable girls and one dignified bynx.  Hurriedly, I leapt to my feet, careful to not squash anything important.
A yelp came from the ground, followed by a flurry of dragon wing in my face.  "Agh, what-"
<I guess my tail is not 'anything important' now, is it.> Somehow, he managed to drawl menacingly, battering me with his wings every couple syllables.  Wincing, I felt my face burn under the increased scrutiny of the others.  They now all looked slightly bemused.  I suppose that's an improvement over incredulous.
<It's not.>
"Be quiet, you!" Frustration sped the words out of my mouth before I could send them off as an acerbic thought.  
"I didn't say anything," Aithne mused.  Kanna remained silent in a version of Venser's most dignified smirk.
"I-" I had to swallow my words, as Ganesh suddenly made an appearance.  In his arms were four large sacks, each an odd color.  
Silently accepting hers from the old man, Aithne frowned.  Fingering the large, bulky knot, she asked, "Wait, aren't these our capes?"
"Yes," the man sighed, stroking his grey beard in consternation.  He began pacing, kicking up small clouds of ash.  "There must not have been as many supplies as I thought, but I gave each of you an equal share of what remains."  
Suddenly, I began to feel slightly guilty, helping Venser open his own bundle.  Why am I doing this for him? I wondered idly.  
<I just knew there were paternal instincts in you,> Venser cajoled.  I didn't even bother glaring at him.
"Uhh, sorry, I think I have most of the food over here," I began, hardly daring to look at the others.  "I-I'm not trying to take it or anything, but..." I rambled off.  "It's just, uhh...instinct, you know, to dig stuff out of the rubble over there."  There was silence.  Might as well get through this.  
I grinned.  "Want some?" I taunted, holding up two large satchels of food rations and water. Despite the bravado, I was very relieved when Kanna simply stalked over and snatched one of them up.  
"Watch yourself, boy-o."  She stalked a couple of feet away before sitting to open her cape. Aithne silently took a seat between us, with D'Eon opposite her.  Just as we all got settled, Ganesh walked over, his face covered by an armload of weather stained wood planks.  He dropped them on the ground with a clatter, almost drowning out his words.  
"Well, this seems like a nice place for a home."  He began pacing around the perimeter of the ledge.  "Nice, sturdy flat ground.  Good foundation.  Yes, quite nice.  A little small, but quite nice."  He nodded sagely for a few moments, before his gaze whipped around to land on me.  I gulped, getting to my feet.
I silently followed him over to the remains of his house's excursion with us through the Soulpocket.  
"Come on, we haven't got all day," Ganesh barked, handing me a large wooden plank.  "We must make a decent shelter for the ladies to sleep tonight."
What?
<Yeah, hurry up,> Venser chuckled, switching to an eerie falsetto.  <Oh, dear Pascal,> he teased in the same voice, <Hurry, or I fear I shall faint from heat and swoon...or drink all the water before you are done,> he added in a normal tone.  Of course, for him, ninety percent humidity of sarcasm is normal.
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:21 am

 Erg.  Stupid Idiot-Boy,  hoarding all our food...  He's supposed to be nobility.  I suppose you can take the street-rat out of the streets,  but you can't take the streets out of the street-rat.      

I plopped down onto the ground next to Aithne,  digging through all the stuff.

“Hey,  Kanna?  Can I ask you something?”  She asked somewhat tenatively.

“As long as I'm not obliged to answer.”

She laughed slightly,  “You're not.  I was at a Plains Horse Tribe,  once,  and I heard of something called a Bond Horse.  Do you have one?”

Hmmm...  I debated that question for a bit.

“Technically no,  I don't.  A Horse Witch's true power is that she can form a Bond with any horse.  For a while,  while I was working at the stable back in the village, I thought that if I could have a Bond Horse,  Star would be mine.  I can't,  though.”

“Oh,  okay.”  She was looking at me quizzically.

“Anything else,  your highness?”  I quipped with a mock bow from the waist.

She seemed a little flustered, and muttered “No,  no!  And don't call me that.”

“Uhmkay.”

We sat there in silence for a bit,  watching Pascal argue with Ganesh about how their shelter should be built,  with obviously irritating remarks coming from Venser.

“Hmm,  Aithne?”

“Yeah?”

“What's D'Eon like?”

“He's very...  stoic,  almost.  Wise,  but also somewhat humorous.  I like him a lot.  What about your horses?  Can you talk to them?”

“No,  not really.  I can tell their emotions,  and I can tell them what to do,  but they're not very intelligent.  They're just horses,  after all.”
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:31 pm

Massaging swollen fingers, I leaned back against a rough, wooden wall.  Eyes flickering, my head experienced a rhythmic pounding, bringing back memories of our crazy gallop across the plains.  Aithne's ranting wasn't helping.
"What do you mean there's no water?!" she raged, all 64 inches of her vibrating with suppressed energy.  Kanna sat against the opposite wall, cleaning her matching swords.  Shivers followed the goose bumps trailing up my arms.  Hugging Venser to my chest, I tried to focus on our predicament.
<And what might that be?> queried my small blue dragon.  A muffled purr of contentment belied what would otherwise have indicated sarcasm.  
Stifling a yawn, I replied, <As Aithne is currently expousing, there is no natural source of water nearby.>
<That we know of,> he put in, lifting his neck to rub his snout into my shoulder.  
<Yes.  Anyways, we're stuck in some volcanic region who knows how many miles from the Capitol, maybe not even in the same country, with four skins of water for as many people.  Plus you and D'Eon,> I hastily amended.  Venser merely whuffled contentedly.  What's gotten into him? He must be really tired. Not wanting to shatter Venser's good humor, I searched desperately for my interrupted train of thought.  <Besides that, it's cold, my scabs itch, my shirt is too thin, but I can't take it off or get another one, my hands hurt, but there's nothing to soak them in because of the lack of water...> I trailed off, struggling to stay awake.  A thin breeze zipped through our hut's cloth doorway, dancing around the cackling flames of a meager fire, before delivering chills up my spine.  
<Anything else?> Venser asked drowsily.  Wearily, I sat up straighter, blinking rapidly to stay awake.  
<I'm sure there is.  Don't worry about it now.  Just get some sleep,> I advised.  Curling up my knees, I let my arms rest while keeping him secure in the little hollow made between my chest and legs.  
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:30 pm

Silently stroking a slumbering Venser, I decided to take an inventory to keep awake.  No, that's kind of boring, and pointless, I yawned, eyes watering involuntarily as I squinted.  
Breaking into Aithne and Ganesh’s increasingly heated, yet mostly one-sided conversation, I asked, “So, I know we don’t have any water, but do you happen to know where we are?”  Once again, I was disconcerted by four pairs of eyes drilling into mine with utter incredulity.  At least Venser isn’t awake. As the silence stretched on, eerily unbroken by even the wind, my grouchiness bubbled up.  “What?”
D’Eon ducked his head, a movement which looked suspiciously planned to hide any signs of laughter.  This was confirmed in my irritated mind as Kanna laughed outright, even though Aithne and Ganesh wore similar expressions of outrage.
“Inconceivable…” Ganesh muttered, beginning to pace in the shadowed confines of our wooden hut.  “It is simply in—”
“You selfish, stuck-up, self-centered, insolent thief!” Aithne broke in, emerald eyes hardened to glinting jade.  Completely taken aback, I fell back against the wall, my head pounding out a wooden thump.  How dare you!
“Excuse me?!” I spluttered, setting Venser down on my cape before getting stiffly to my feet.  Bewildered, I focused in on a rigid Aithne, in between a mildly surprised Ganesh and an amusedly perplexed Kanna.  Her cocked brow implied, Hey, now it’s my job to yell at Pascal, but she remained silent.  “Now, look, I’m sorry if I said something wrong, but—”
“Said something wrong?” Aithne remained deadly calm, but I could see her hands drifting unconsciously, with purpose.  Oh, great dithering dingoes, she’s got hidden knives, and she’s gonna use them, and I don’t know why, I rambled.  “I think ignoring the last thirty minutes of conversation is more than saying something wrong.  Seriously, how oblivious can one boy be?”
“Look, I’m sorry, I…” I tried to think of an excuse, but all of them fell flat in my mind.  What was I supposed to say?  Sorry, but I was too busy cuddling Venser and moping about my sore fingers, and oh, my back was aching, so I was trying to not fall asleep.
“Exactly.”  Aithne confirmed my silence as acceptance of guilt.  Turning around, she walked through the cloth doorway.  “Figure it out while I’m on watch.”
Completely dumbfounded, I was relieved when Kanna spoke up in a pleasant tone.  Is she trying to placate me?  Why’s Aithne so grouchy? “As Aithne pointed out, she and Ganesh have already concluded that they do not have any idea where we are.”  She stared into the fire, hands running through the dirt at our feet.  “So far, we just know we’re somewhere volcanic, surrounded by nothing by wasteland.  There’s too much fog to see the horizon, so we can’t locate any mountains or obstructions.  Essentially,” she concluded, “we’re lost.”
“Oh, please, excuse the interruption, but I know exactly where you are.”  No, how can this be?!  All three of us jerked up to look at the cloaked figure in the doorway.  “Now now children, let’s not get all panicky,” Vakrom sneered, dragging a gagged Aithne into view.  D’Eon growled, but Aithne warned him off with a glance.  Vakrom seemed unaware, focusing on Kanna and I.  
Oh, right, he can’t see the Soulcreatures until they’re introduced…  Unconsciously, I reached towards my boots, searching for a non-existent dagger.
“But, to answer your question, Soulbond,” Vakrom spat, hauling Aithne closer to him.  “You are in my trap, and you’re all about to die.”
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:14 pm

“Oh yeah?”  I asked sneeringly.  “I know you,  you're the guy that broke my table!  That was a really nice table,  you know.”  

Him.  At the sight of the hooded figure,  I knew who he was.  The man that had killed my boss.  The man that had killed all those people,  the baker with his friendly smile,  his wife was going to have another little baby in a few months.  The old widow that always had a spare apple for the horses.  The beggar with the mangled legs whom I had given a couple of coins.  Their faces swam before my eyes,  all their stories and backgrounds,  all the futures that could have been,  snuffed out as if they had never existed.

He was going to pay.

My sneering smile slipped off my face.  “You killed them,  you know.  All of them.  Why?”

He opened his mouth to reply,  supreme confidence and utter disdain twisting his features.

“Why?”  He laughed.  “Their lives meant nothing,  a sacrifice to the greater good,  it was the only thing they were fit for.”

If I just kept him talking enough,  I could get to the swords in my pack...

He smirked again,  the expression not reaching his cold distant eyes.  “Thinking about your blades,  Horse Witch?”

My bag lifted into the air,  and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  I quickly looked at the hooded man,  but my eyes were caught by Aithne.  Her eyes were wide and her pupils were dilated with terror.  They looked at something only they could see,  and seemed terrified by it.

“Of course,  apprentice,  you would remember Xan.”  He grinned widely.  “I would like you all to met your death.”  He gestured at the bag,  and suddenly I was frozen in terror.


Tall rustling grasses closed over tiny Kanna's head.  She was sitting down on the ground,  a small rag doll held in her hands,  her small round face beaming with pleasure at the toy.  The grass rustled,  but she took no notice.  Suddenly,  blinding pain in her leg,  and she dropped the doll and screamed.  Her mother heard,  and rushed little Kanna to the center of the village.  Her life was saved by her mothers quick timing,  but no one remembered to get the doll lost in the grass.  And no one noticed the black viper twisting away.

 Snake.  Snake!  SNAKE!!  My limbs froze in panic and my head buzzed with thoughts racing past.  The giant snake Xan stared me down and hypnotized me with his gigantic yellow eyes.

“Kanna!  What's wrong?”  Pascal seemed alarmed too,  but nothing reaching the absolute frenzy of terror that was mine.

“S-s-s-snake!”  I managed to choke out.  The horses were showing my fear,  their eyes rolling and their mouths foaming.

“Oh,  does the little horse girl not like snakeys?” The hooded man asked in a mocking singsong voice.

The giant serpent leaned forward,  dropping my bags from his coils.  In a lightning strike he suddenly grasped Star in his mouth and squeezed.

I could hear the bones crunching and the long drawn out scream of my best friend,  the only horse left from the Northern Plains Tribe.  I could sense her spirit leaving her body,  and in the shock that followed the connection being cut off,  what once was a golden thread of sensual input that came from her eyes and ears only,  my panic broke.

I was rage.  My vision was shaded red,  I had no room for anything else,  no grief or fear.  I ran to the bag,  plunged my bag in it,  grabbing my swords.  I plunged them into the snake Xan.

Too late to realize that I had grabbed the wrong pair.

Too late to correct the fact that I had not grabbed Yin and Yang,  one of the last relics of the ancient age,  one of the few weapons that could harm a Soulcreature or a Soulbond.

I was too late.  
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:05 pm

<Venser!> I yelled, struggling to keep my gaze from darting to the dragon sleeping at my feet.  <Wake up!>  Apparently, he is a fairly deep sleeper.  Please don’t kill me, I sighed, widening my stance and bringing up my hands.  In the same motion, I kicked Venser, eliciting an indignant roar.  
<Now what is your reason for this –>
<Shh!> Struggling to not look at him, I kept my eyes on Xan, who stood laughing over a terrified Kanna.  A slight whistling in the air sent me diving to the ground.  I was rewarded a second later by the sharp crack of steel on wood.  
<Roll left!> Venser commanded, jumping into the air. With an effort, I flipped myself over, seconds before Vakrom’s sword hit the ground. I’ve got to stand up, I thought wildly, dodging another haphazard sword blow.  A weapon would also be nice…
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PostSubject: Re: Soulbond: The Beginning   Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:01 pm

With two big strokes, I flew up to the ceiling, hovering just below the thatch.  <Left, no right!> I barked, watching intently as Pascal dove from under Vakrom yet again.  If I dive in, he’ll be distracted, and Pascal can get up.
<No!  He can’t know you’re here,> Pascal argued.  Somehow, he’d managed to put the fire between himself and Vakrom.  His back was now to Kanna, who was fighting an invisible foe.  A Soulcreature?
<Yeah, we’re introduced, but you were asleep.> Even his thoughts came in ragged gasps, matching his breath.  A flood of images ran through my brain, detailing the past five minutes.  Suddenly, a giant black snake appeared, his coils snaking through a bound Aithne, scared yet determined Kanna, and Ganesh.  
What’s Ganesh up to? I wondered at the same time that Pascal let out a yelp.  Turning swiftly, I was disturbed to see him clutching his right shoulder, thin lines of blood flowing over his fingers and Vakrom’s glinting blade.  
<Agh, he’s fast!> Pascal cursed, stumbling back to trip over his cape bundle.  
<Hurry, grab the soul-knife!> I commanded, focusing on Ganesh.  <I’ll give you seven seconds.>
<So precise,> Pascal grumbled, getting to shaky feet.  <And what is providing the distraction?>
<D’Eon,> I answered smugly, just as the enraged cat flung Vakrom against the wall.  A loud crack resounded, and the roof began falling down in showers of dry straw and sod.  <And I do believe the hut is falling over. Be quick!> I instructed, flying out the door.  Better to fight outside anyways.[/i]
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