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This is reserved for one-shots or stories from a Tale of Two Kingdoms, it is an original Roleplay by my dear friend BlinkyIris. So please do not post anything here unless you have been given permission to, thanks~
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Contest


Astra and Ellis finally talk
parazesis

Astra let out a breathless grunt of pain as her body connected with the tree Ellis had thrown her at. Her head snapped back, skull cracking against the rough bark and leaving the female mage more than a little bit dizzy. This wasn't how things were supposed to go.

I don't want to fight you Ellis.” Astra yelled as she pulled herself back to her feet. “This is a pointless conflict.” And it was, at least in Astra's mind; she had finished explaining her reasons for making a covert appearance at the Porgonin ball, what else needed to be said of that? All pretenses had been dropped from the half-elf's side so why was Ellis attacking her? This aggression would be understandable had there still been lies hanging between the cousins, but the air was clear. Right?

No. This is justified.” The shorter woman yelled back, her fighting stance still in place. Astra was simply grateful that her cousin hadn't drawn a blade against the mage. “You lied to me. After all those years, you couldn't tell truth to me.” The warrior elf advanced towards her mage opponent, obviously bent on prolonging her advantage. A punch was thrown, and barely avoided. Astra had only dodged by a hair's breath and she wouldn't be able to hold up in close quarters against the much stronger Ellis.

It wasn't appropriate at the time.” Astra explained, putting up a barrier of ice between herself and Ellis. Of course the elf was able to shatter the cold wall with ease, but it gave the elven half-blood time to retreat. “It would have put people in danger. More danger than we were already in.” Ellis advanced again, moving in to grab the taller woman by the shoulders as she had before. Once again Astra flew through the air, though this time she had enough of her wits left to call the air into a cushion that could soften her landing. The mage fell on her back, hitting the ground with a thud. The impact still hurt, but the pain wasn't as severe and disabling as before. She pulled herself to her knees as the other woman attacked once more. Astra crossed her arms and willed a steal shield to materialize on top of them. The flying kick crashed against the thin defense, throwing Astra backwards once more as her arms buckled under the pressure of the blow. The mage made it to her knees once more and continued her explanation. “My mission was of peaceful intent but telling you about it would have placed you in danger of being seen as a threat. And it would have put my companions and I at risk should someone have overheard us. I was going to tell you afterward, when it was safe.

I could have avoided that. I don't need you trying to protect me.” Ellis had temporarily halted her attacks, simply fuming with a glare piercing strait through Astra's good intentions. “I spent fifteen years without you, fifteen years thinking you didn't care. And then the first thing you do when we meet is tell me a half-truth.” The short elf was growling out her words. It was obvious that her pride was wounded. “Why couldn't you trust me enough to tell me why you were there.

I only told you part of the story because I care, about you and about my friends from Calyop. You may not need me to protect you, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try.” Astra had gotten to her feet now and stood her ground, returning all the biting emotional yells that were being thrown at her. “You spent fifteen years thinking I didn't care and I spent fifteen year thinking you were dead. Why can't you understand that I don't want to have you die again?

Astra shook with anger, frustration, and sorrow. This was supposed to be a happy moment, a joyous recovery from separation. But no, it had turned into a battle of pain and mistrust as the two silver-haired cousins came to terms with the pain of their joined pasts. It was a bitter process, accepting all that had been lost when they were ripped apart by fate. It was possible that the relationship between Ellis and Astra would never reform, that they would both spend the rest of their lives lamenting those fifteen years of ignorance. Fate is a cruel mistress.




Draedon's First Date
milkmoo
Draedon knocked on the door to Princess Adyrn's room. Except, this time it was different. He wasn't wearing his suit of armor, didn't have his sword, not even his normal clothes. Draedon sported a plain, white button up shirt, tucked into a pair of black slacks, and some dress shoes. In fact, he had even combed his hair in a nice manner. He was dressed rather nicely for seemingly no apparent reason. There was nothing going on in the castle, not even in the Calyopian realm. So one could imagine the surprise on Miss Adyrn's face when she saw one of her greatest friends dressed in quite an obscene trend. In fact, it was one of the only times Draedon had ever dressed up in his life; seeing as how he was just a measly guard.

Laughter. Princess Adyrn nearly slumped over from laughing too hard at her friend. She must have not been able to contain it. Oh no, I put this on wrong. This was not the way humans intended to wear it, right? Or am I forgetting a piece of something? Draedon checked his person to see if there was something off, until he was pulled into the woman's room quickly by the Princess.

"Quick, before Natalia sees you. Okay Draedon, why are you dressed up like that?" The Princess moved over and sat on her bed, waiting for the man to speak up. The war had died down, things were smoothed over; for the most part. King Embry and soon to be Queen Talin were spending quite a lot of time together. Luckily for Draedon, whenever Talin would come over, Natalia would come along so she could, and he quoted, 'Keep track of her sister.' This seemed apparent to everyone except Draedon that she was using it as a method of seeing him; secretly of course. To Draedon, she was just doing a sisterly duty; and would commend the woman on doing so. In fact, it had to be King Embry and Queen Talin to tell him that she was developing feelings for the Lycan.

It started with casual conversations. The two hinted at interest during everyone. Except, Draedon didn't have real experience with women. Every time she said a flirtatious remark, he would normally retort with "Thanks," and then hate himself later when he actually got it.

"Well, I have a date with Miss Natalia. We've agreed to meet at lake Bishop for a moonlight picnic."

"How'd you get her to agree on a date?"

"It wasn't easy. While Embry and Miss Talin were talking, I pulled Natalia away. ''Excuse me,'' I said with stable confidence. ''I like your hair,'' to which she replied ''thank-you.'' At that point, I reached for a rose to hand her. Except, roses have thorns and I pricked myself. Trying not to lose momentum I manned up and handed her the rose anyway. It was bloody, to say the least, and she kind of looked at it with some disgust. She took it, but I think it was just to be nice.

''So, will I date you?'' That was my next move. It was stupid, completely stupid. I tried to correct the situation to a ''No, will you date I? I mean-'' Then, like she was sent by the Gods, she said in a completely calm, sophisticated manner: ''Yes Draedon, I will go on a date with you.''

Needless to say, she was flustered. I'm quite the ladies man when I want to be. I just wanted to know if I looked well enough for my date. I wanted a woman's opinion, but now it seems like I need a man's."


Adyrn, now in the safety of her own bed, burst into fits of laughter. She laughed so hard she had to wipe flowing tears from her eyes. Draedon was just glad that he didn't mention that he was more flustered than Natalia was. All of the commotion in the room caused King Embry to walk in, only to laugh at seeing Draedon dressed up this way. It wasn't a good sign. When people laughed at your outfit, it meant that you did something wrong.

"My friend, what's going on?" The King spoke. Arrogant punk. Just trying to be a jerk at this point, Draedon just knew it.

"Draedon's got a date with Nataliaaaa-." Adyrn drug out the 'A' as if it were necessary. She rolled over to lay on her stomach with the pillow tucked under her chest. These two were driving him nuts. All he wanted was to know if he looked nice.

"Oh, will the two of you be quiet?! My date is in less than half an hour. Since they are staying here at our castle, we've agreed to meet in the garden and walk to lake which gives me fifteen minutes to prepare myself. Now, I've dabbed on some cologne, dressed nicely, and even combed my hair. Princess and King, do I look alright?"

Draedon huffed a bit as he tried to calm down. His friends could clearly see that the man was worrying over nothing really. Of course, that was just Draedon being Draedon. King Embry gave a sigh, still not letting go of that smile.

"Yes, you look just fine."

"Yeah, just, here," Adyrn got out of her bed and moved over to Draedon, messing up his hair a bit. "She probably likes you because you're a bit more rugged than she's used to. Heck, I'd even put money that she likes it a bit rough." Draedon's cheeks became a bit red as she spoke. She was joking around, obviously, but it was nice to gauge his reaction. This was Draedon's first date and he did not want to mess it up. "And maybe unbutton this top button and let it ruffle a bit! There! Now you look moderately sexy. Maybe I'll take you out on a date too." This statement brought back the laughter from both siblings.

Draedon contemplated quitting his job. They were being dumb. Meanies. With a quick exhale, Draedon turned and reached for the doorknob.

CHUNK.

Being so nervous about his date, when he opened it he ripped it free from his hinges. This only brought upon more laughter from the duo. Draedon hung his head in shame. If there was ever a time he would cry, it would have to be this time. His head still stayed low as he left (Still hearing them laugh mind you) and simply let the door lean in the spot it used to hang. He would have a servant fix it on his way out. The behavior that Adyrn and Embry were giving out wasn't nearly normal. They never laughed at his friend, simply because they had no reason to. This was the first time Draedon was going on a date, the first time he dressed nicely, and the first time he got so nervous he couldn't control his own strength; he was even taking it WAY too seriously. He would have to learn to control himself or he could accidentally fracture Miss Natalia's cheek bone if he leaned in for a kiss. A kiss on the cheek was definitely a sign of affection, right? It was right above a kiss on the hand. Draedon became flustered once more at the thought of kissing Miss Natalia on the cheek. No, that would have to wait for next date. Maybe he could just try to hold her hand...


Dew's Lesson of War
Cassandra Sandsmark
About eleven years ago on a bright sunny day, the young eith year old prince Embry left the safety of his castle and went towards the woods, carrying with him a toy wooden sword. As he practiced his sword fighting techniques in the air he accidentely hit a baby bird who had fallen out of it's nest. The baby bird hit the ground, bleeding, as it died. Nearby a fairy by the name of Dew Light
watched the whole thing in horror.

So, she transformed into a young girl who was about the same age as the prince and walked over and picked up the dead bird, sadly, then looked at Embry.
"Look what you did. This poor bird was only trying to learn how to fly.
It's only a baby and you killed it."
The young prince tilted his head at
the girl and then spoke " I'm sorry I didn't mean to. I was only trying
to play war but the bird wasn't the enemy it just got in the way."
This
made Dew angry as she yelled at him " When you play war you hurt more then just your enemy you hurt!!! Your allies, your friends,your family,and innocent bystanders... all get hurt just because you decide to play war!!!" The prince Embry had become irratated with her, he wasn't use to being told what to do... especially by some girl who he had just met.

" What do you know? You're just some dumb girl. I'll play war as long as I like. Who cares how many baby birds I kill?!" Dew gave him a cold stare " Get out". The boy rolled his eyes " Please I'm the prince. You can't tell me what to do." Dew then screamed "GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!" and a large gust of wind came out of what seemed like no where and carried the prince to edge of the forest near his kingdom. The prince Embry, perplexed and scared by what happened ran back home to the
palace.

Dew transformed back into a fairy flying high up into the trees and
looked over at the two human kingdoms of which her forest lay right inbetween..
" Humans are a dangerous group."
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This one took to beating at my brain after I entered the other one to the contest. Enjoy.


Midnight's Magic


Astra was on the roof of her tower making star charts when she was surprised by an unanticipated visitor. It was the sound of footsteps that drew her eyes away from the stars and towards the head of the stairs. “Oh, hello, Rone. What can I do for you?

The man stood there for a moment or two, just looking at Astra with a strange, unreadable expression on his face. In the silence the female mage placed her charting instruments aside and started to walk towards her male counterpart. She didn't get farther than a single step.

Stop. Just, stay right where you are.” Rone told her in a tone that was gentle yet firm. Confused, she complied. When her movement ceased it was he who closed the gap, long strides bringing him to stand no more than a mere foot from her. Another moment of silence passed as the two simply stared at one another, Astra trying to figure out what was going on and Rone seemingly trying to decide upon the best course of action. Suddenly the shadow sage placed a hand on the back of the half-elf's neck and guided her head as he lowered his face to her own to place a soft kiss on her lips.

Astra was floored to say the least, frozen with shock and disbelief. What was this? Did someone put him up to this? That didn't seem like something Rone would do, kissing Astra on someone else's whim. Maybe he was being forced to do so. But how would anyone manage to force this capable man to do anything of this nature? What outside reason could goad the male mage into presenting this gesture of affection to his female counterpart? She couldn't think of a single one. But this couldn't be real. Could it? The silver-haired woman was at a loss for actions and so she stood still and unresponsive until he pulled away. She stared up at him in wonder, but he wouldn't look at her now. Astra thought she saw a slight frown on his face. A troubled expression? Was he disappointed?

Is this some sort of dream?” She asked quietly, unsure of what reality she was in.

It might be.” He responded in a less than lively tone of voice as he let the hand on her neck fall back to his side. “Some sort of nightmare perhaps.

The female mage could only frown at that. “A nightmare?” How could this be a nightmare? It wasn't as if anything was wrong. Wait, was he saying that it was a nightmare for him? If that was so then did that mean the kiss had been genuine? If it had been real then this was not an opportunity to be passed over, as non-action would have her do. What chance did she have if not this one? Failure to respond could drive him away and she would never regain hope if she lost it now. Clearly now was the time to take a risk, not leave well enough alone.

Astra reached up and took his face in her hands, slowly pulling his face back down to her level and kissed him softly, gently, letting go of the emotions she had bottled up for so long. Come what may, just for this moment she was going to unlock the chains she had placed on her heart and let herself go without fear and without regret.

Her risk was rewarded when he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him, pressing back in a return of emotion. This felt right.

-------------------------------
Astra sat bolt upright in bed, shocked into wakefulness by the frightening realism of her dream. Yes, it had only been a dream. Only a dream. A glorious dream turned nightmare by the cold touch of reality. She panted to catch her breath, rubbing her hands over her face in an attempt to relax her features. It wasn't working. She was still shaken to her core.

The silver-haired mage decided that she needed to get some fresh air, but she couldn't go to the roof of her tower as she normally would. Oh no, that would only work her up more. But the gardens might work. Yes, she would go to the gardens and take in the night as it was in reality. With haste, Astra threw on a light dressing robe over her night cloths before leaving her bedchamber and navigating the maze of hallways s would lead her to her goal.

The cool stone of the palace floors felt good against Astra's bare feet as she walked to the gardens, her mind half-numb from her restless sleep. She wasn't paying attention to her whereabouts, save for her location, and thus was taken by surprise when she knocked into someone, falling backwards from the impact. Oddly enough she didn't hit the ground, rather a pair of strong hands gripped her shoulders preventing her otherwise inevitable crash.

What are you doing up and about at this hour?” A deep voice inquired of the hazed woman. Astra's violet gaze was drawn from the hands on her shoulders to the face of their owner; none other than the figure from her dream.

Rone?” She questioned uncertainly, confused by his sudden appearance. But soon enough she came back to herself and pulled away as a furious blush overtook her features. She bowed her head to hide the red tinge, even though the dark already helped with that.

I, ah, I couldn't sleep.Oh yes, very eloquent. She chided herself. “I'm taking the time to pick some herbs.” Now that was a strait out lie; she had no intention of picking herbs, she didn't have the mental capacity to do so at the moment. But it was an excuse... of some sort. “I'd best get to it.” The half-elf sidestepped the man and walked away from him as quickly as she could away from him, leaving him to simply stare at her retreating form in utter confusion. How was she ever going to look him in the eye again?
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The Birthright



It was mid-morning in castle Porgonin and it was as lively as ever. However there was certain rumors that were going around the palace, rumors that the current crown prince would no longer be first in line for the throne. These rumors had been going around for quite sometime now, but they were never spoken in front of the royal family.

In the courtyard of the castle were three children, two of them closer together, Asce, age fifteen, and Adryn, age thirteen. They were both playing chess, something the two did quite often, since as they got older there were certain childish things that they were no longer allowed to play. Farther away from the two of them was Embry, age nine, was playing off by himself, although his mother was nearby. The young child stared longingly at his two older siblings before glancing at his mother. ”Why don’t brother and sister wish to play with me?” He asked his mother sadly, before she wrapped him in a small hug.

It was no secret that Queen Erica favored her youngest child to no end, she barely hid it even from her two older children and her husband. ”Oh darling, they are only jealous that one day you’ll be great.” She told him, but this didn’t make the young boy feel any better, but he nodded to her. If his siblings wouldn’t play with him he could try and find someone else to play with. ”Mother… Do you think Draedon would like to play with me?” He asked her before, he heard her click her tongue, he knew what that meant.

”Not now darling, Draedon is in training, perhaps tomorrow I’ll see if he can spend some time with you.”
She told him before she heard the trumpets sounding; she knew that the king only requested trumpets when he wanted the family to be called together. The Queen’s hazel eyes looked over to her two other children and watched as they stood up to head to the throne room. She herself took a hold of Embry’s hand as she led the way.

-<3-<3-<3-

As they entered the throne room, King Anton was already seated at his throne; his face seemed to be pained, as if he was going over a decision in his mind over and over again. Erica took her seat next to him, her hand still holding onto Embry’s, he stood next to his mother’s throne. A sigh was heard from the King before he shifted his gaze to Embry. ”Son… Please go stand next to your sister.” The young boy nodded and did as he was told, leaving his mother’s side and went to stand next to his sister, facing his mother and father.

The King looked between all three of his children, this was a hard decision to make, but it needed to be done for the good of the people. He knew that if he didn’t do this the kingdom would suffer later on. ”This is not a decision that was easy to make… I’ve thought long and hard about this, but it is for the good of the kingdom.” Anton looked to his wife, who seemed to be intrigued by what he was saying. ”Asce… forgive me…” He said this in a whisper before he stood up. ”Prince Asce, as of this moment I revoke your right to the throne, for you conduct is not becoming of a future king, you are dark-hearted, this is not well suited for a future king.” He then looked to Embry the young child was wide eyed. ”And Prince Embry, I hereby make you my heir to the throne, you are now the Crown Prince of Porgonin.” Everything was silent for a moment, but that would not last.

”You can do that! I’m your first-born! Not Embry!” Asce yelled, when he spoke Embry’s name it was as if venom came out at the same time. Embry meanwhile just stared at his father confused, and when he heard his brother yell the young prince let out something of a whimper. ”I am the rightful heir to the throne, not Embry! How do you even know that he is truly yours, he only looks like mother, not anything like you!” Anton could see it, his son was losing his sanity at this moment, his eyes had become wide and his yelling didn’t seem like it would be stopped.

But the king would not have Asce making accusations of his mother. ”Enough Asce, you shall not speak that way of the Queen, you are dismissed, now!” He roared, this made the room eerily silent as Asce quickly left the room. Adryn left the room silently as well, leaving only Embry staring silently at his parents. Queen Erica looked to her husband as she stood, ”I would watch Asce, darling…” She was now worried for her oldest son’s sanity, his eyes, they were far from sane. ”Come now Embry, we’ll have to speak to your tutors about changing your lessons…” With that, she left the throne room with Embry in tow. With the king left alone, he sighed, he hated what he had done; he knew that it would haunt him.

-<3-<3-<3-

It was late in the evening, the time when the queen herself would tuck in Embry for bed, she used to do the same for her other children before Embry was born, but after his birth she had stopped. ”I told you my darling, that you would be great, one day you will be king.” Erica said to Embry as she softly touched his head. She knew that it had been a tiring day for him, ”Good night, mother loves you Embry.” She kissed the top of his head as she stood up, ”And I love you, mother.” The young boy said as he watched her leave the room, he turned over and fell asleep quickly.

Meanwhile, Asce was in his own room, he eyed his surroundings suspicious that someone would be there and stop his plans. ”I’ll be king, just you watch… I only have to get rid of one minor problem…” He said this to himself as a grin appeared on his face. A dagger was in his hand. He just needed to wait for the most opportune moment.

As the moon rose higher in the sky, Asce took this as his perfect moment. There was an evil look in his eyes as he left his room and made his way to his younger brother’s. He opened the door slowly, and closed it quietly as he entered. ”No hard feelings little brother….” Asce made his way silently to the bed that Embry was sleeping in. It was his chance, he could kill him so quickly he wouldn’t have a chance to scream. He climbed over the boy, removing the covers, dagger in his right hand raised, and just as he was about to plunge the dagger into the boy’s chest, hazel eyes opened to meet his green ones. And for a second he hesitated, and it gave Embry enough time to try and hold off Asce’s right hand. ”Mother! Father! Adryn! Someone please!!!” Embry’s screams were loud as tears streamed down his face.

Asce quickly put his left hand over Embry’s mouth as he attempted to stab the boy again, but just as he was about to do so the doors to the room opened with a large sound, Asce turned his head to look, his green eyes wide. He was quickly tackled down by two of the guards; they held his arms down to the ground. He could hear the light steps of Adryn as she entered into their brother’s room, and he could see as she went to Embry as the younger boy cried hysterically. The guards lifted Asce up, holding his arms behind his back just as the King and Queen entered the room. Their mother of course went to console her youngest, and Asce looked over to his father, he could see the disappointment and sadness in his face, and yet the prince didn’t seem to care.

”Take him away…” Was what Anton said as the guards did as told and took Asce away, the king then looked over to the bed as Adryn and Queen Erica were consoling the still crying Embry, the young boy rested his head in Adryn’s shoulder as he stained her nightgown with tears. As he went to the bed, the Queen spoke, ”I want Embry to sleep with us, Anton…” She softly rubbed her son’s back.

Adryn sat on the bed, letting her younger brother cry on her shoulder, "It's alright, Embry, you're safe now.." She said while she stared off in the direction that they had taken Asce, she was old enough to know what would happen, he would be exiled, never allowed to set foot in Porgonin again, this greatly saddened her, but she knew that it was for his safety as well as Embry’s and the kingdoms, however… That didn’t make it easier….
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Mystral and Astra: Everybody's Fool


Perfect by nature, Icons of self-indulgence,
Just what we all need, more lies about a world that -

never was and never will be
Have you no shame? Don't you see me?
You know you've got everybody fooled


Mystral and Astra were once again waiting for the council meeting to start. The councilmen had become less and less punctual as of late which was irking, but at least it gave the two half-elves time to talk. The two were friends of sorts though they had been growing apart over the past few weeks and rarely saw each other save for before council meetings, and at those times they would often be frustrated over the disrespects of these high and mighty men who indulged themselves far too much and were of the opinion that their status as humans and nobles made them perfect, quite vexing for the two mages. If it was not frustration then the half-elves would likely be discussing magic as it was a safe topic. Yes the two half-blood mages were growing apart, their amiable relationship diminishing for reasons unknown.

Yes, they had both been busy but that could not entirely account for the widening gap between them. Perhaps it was because of that nasty gossip that been floating around. Some rumors had reached Astra's ears, doubts of Mystral's loyalty to the crown. The violet-eyed mage had not wanted to believe the rumors, but when she questioned Mystral about the validity of the claims only non-committal answers were thrown out in response. That's when the crack in their friendship formed. It was sad really, as Astra had always valued the companionship between Mystral and herself, and she had been under the impression that the feeling was mutual. In truth, it would have been astounding if the two did not enjoy such a comfortable repartee; there were too many similarities to ignore. They were of the same heritage, both were dedicated to their work, both were skilled magic users who's talents were evenly matched, and greater than that, both had risen to positions of respect through skill and hard work. The two had earned their place against the similar odds they had faced. How could they not appreciate that?

So why the distance now? Fear? Mistrust? Secrets? Or simply different choices in company? While Astra had been spending more time with Rone and Cher, Mystral had been slipping off and no one knew where to. No one knew that behind Mystral's skillful mask was treachery and a desire for vengeance. Some part of Mystral wanted to tell Astra, to convince the other half-elf to join her cause. But Astra would never understand, she was a soft-hearted soul who was reluctant to see anything but the most blatant of evils. So Mystral kept the truth behind her lies to herself. Mystral had everybody fooled.

--------


Look here she comes now, bow down and stare in wonder
Oh how we love you, no flaws when you're pretending


Mystral watched with hidden disgust as Astra talked companionably with Princess Natalia. How could Astra stand it? The princess was annoying and far too self-assured for her own good. And yet Astra willingly catered to Natalia's whims. Had she no pride? Sid she enjoy being subservient to the human likes of the stubborn blond princess? Natalia was the kind of person that Mystral hated, but even she had to pretend to like the royal family. And Mystral's act never faltered.

--------


But now I know she never was and never will be,
you don't know how you've betrayed me
and somehow you've got everybody fooled


So it's true.” Astra said in a tense voice. “You are involved in the conspiracy behind this war.” How was it that Astra had never seen through Mystral's deceit before now? But regardless of the reason for that, it was now clear that Mystral's loyalty would never be in line with Astra's. The violet-eyed mage had been betrayed by who she thought was one of her closest friends. But no one would know, because Mystral had everybody fooled.

--------



Without the mask, Where will you hide?
Can't find yourself, lost in your lie

I know the truth now, I know who you are
and I don't love you anymore

It never was and never will be, you don't know how you've betrayed me
and somehow you've got everybody fooled.


It's over Mystral.” Astra called to her one-time friend. “You can't hide behind your lies anymore.” How had it come to this? Why did the two mages have to be turned against one another?

I can't hide behind my lies? You underestimate me, Astra. The question is can you hide behind yours?” There might have been a tint of sadistic amusement to Mystral's voice, but it was subtle. “You are so consumed with your delusions that you don't even know who you are anymore. At least I knew where my reality stopped and my lies began.

Astra growled, her seldom seen temper flaring. “I know exactly who I am, and at least I'm not ashamed of it like you are.

Mystral scoffed at that. “And why would I be ashamed?

You've been living with hatred for half of yourself for your whole life. You hate humans but humanity is a part of you whether you like it or not.” Astra was pulling out her tricks of analysis, but neither of them could tell if it worked.

And you are too comfortable with being of mixed blood. You've been looked down upon by humans because of it, and yet you practically flaunt the fact that you're a half-breed.” Mystral was also growling now. This was why their friendship had broken, they couldn't deny their greatest difference, loyalties. They had both been betrayed by a friend, Astra by deceit and Mystral by prejudice. It was a rift that could never be bridged.

So this is it then. We are enemies.” Astra stated the fact as if it was a death sentence and in a way it was. Neither of them would stop until they saw the other stopped.

Perhaps they would continue to act as they used to, to prevent suspicion which would be detrimental to their objectives. But it would all be a lie, they would be playing everyone else for fools.

--------


It never was and never will be
you're not real and you can't save me


You should have known better, Mystral. Yours was a hopeless endeavor.” For now Astra held the high ground. The conspiracy had been revealed and the conspirators faced a grim fate. Still, Astra wished she could do something to prevent the suffering of her former friend. But it had all been a lie, right from the beginning, and no amount of trying could bring the illusion back and form it into truth.

Shut up, Astra. Don't you try to save me with your lectures of goodness. I have no regrets save for ever respecting a fool like you.

No, Mystral. It is you who is the fool.

and somehow now you're everybody's fool.
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First Love


It was late in autumn, the carriage passing through the roads belonged to none other than the King and Queen of Calyop, Nathan and Tabitha, within the carriage was also their young daughter, Princess Natalia. The princess was nearing five years of age, and yet her parents could see the strong personality in their daughter. They watched as their teal eyed daughter stared out the carriage. While most of their girls her age were rather dainty and enjoyed being doted on, Natalia liked none of the sort, she enjoyed following the servants around the castle asking them if she could assist them in their work, of course she wasn’t allowed to help them; and this usually led to her just following the servants around and observing them.

Now, the king and queen were on their way to Porgonin, there were multiple reasons, one was to see the King and Queen of Porgonin, Anton and Erica, and their newest child, Embry, he was just over a year old, and he appeared to be the pride and joy of the queen from what had been heard around the kingdoms. The second reason they were going was to officially sign the agreement to betrothed Natalia and Porgonin’s crown prince, Asce.

It was not long before they reached the capital city of Porgonin, as they neared the castle, the queen, placed her hand on her enlarged belly. She was currently with child, although the sages in the castle stated it was more than one, she was still not certain. She was just glad that Natalia would have someone to play with once the child got older.

After reaching the gates of the castle they were instantly arranged an audience with Anton and Erica. They were quickly escorted to a room with multiple chairs, seated in a few of them were the king and queen along with their two older children, Asce, who was seven years of age, and Adryn who was 5 years of age.

“We are delighted that you could make it.” Queen Erica said softly, the young child in her arms. Now, Princess Natalia hadn’t even looked at the babe and instead had her attention on Princess Adryn, she waved happily to the girl before she sat down next to her mother. She had a vague idea of why they were all here, however she did not care for it very much. She never understood why all the little girls wanted to get married to a prince, she wanted to stay with her parents forever.

“And we are glad to be here,” Was the response that came from King Nathan, then there was pleasantries amongst them before they sent out the three children and told them to play, they would need to now make it the arrangement official. They had decided that when Natalia had come of age, by her sixteenth birthday, that she and Asce would be married. And on went the agreements of the arranged marriage.

-<3-<3-<3-

Natalia stared at Asce, she didn’t see what was so interesting about marrying a prince. She scrunched her nose as she continued to stare at him before simply stating. “I don’t want to marry you.” And with that she turned around and went to play with Adryn, leaving the older boy staring at her back. “Good, I don’t want to marry you either.” He also went to Adryn, but placed himself on the side that Natalia was not on.

And things went like this every year when they would meet with each other. That is until the fifth year, when Natalia was ten years old, and Asce, thirteen, their meeting unlike the ones before had been cordial, they even smiled at each other. And laughed, this surprised even Princess Adryn when she noticed that the two were getting along rather well, much better than anyone expected. Being the intelligent Eleven year old that Adryn was she knew what she had to do. She pulled Natalia aside for a moment.

“Do you fancy my brother…?” This comment had left a noticeable blush on the young girl, “No… I would never, he’s… a boy.” Was what Natalia had said to her, before a pout made its way to her face and she crossed her arms over her chest. She was never going to like him; he was mean and a boy. Seeing this Adryn just laughed at her friend, even though they were quite young she could tell that the younger girl was at least just a little smitten with Asce.

A few hours later, Adryn went to her brother, she was curious to know how he felt about the younger girl, “Brother, may I ask you a question?” She started calmly as her brother nodded slowly, obviously suspicious of his younger sister. “Do you fancy Princess Natalia?” She questioned him, her green eyes staring into his. She wasn’t expecting him to laugh though, and he did just that. “I’m to be king someday, and Natalia is to be my queen, of course I fancy her.” The young boy was already thinking about the throne, and how he would rule one day.

These words had puzzled Adryn, she supposed that it was good that Asce beginning to like Natalia, especially if one day they were going to be married. But the way he said it, had left a knot in her stomach. However she did not pursue the subject again, she only watched as the two interacted with each other.

-<3-<3-<3-


Two years later, it was once again time for their yearly meeting. And Natalia actually seemed to be quite excited for it. Her parents hadn’t seen her that excited to visit Porgonin in so long, but they knew the reason why, their daughter was smitten. They arrived in Porgonin and had quickly gone to the castle, their three children in tow, and it wasn’t long before they were within the palace and the children had scattered to play with the resident Princess and Princes’.

Natalia had quickly gone to find Asce and Adryn, but she was really looking forward to find Asce, she didn’t really know why, but her heart raced when she thought of him, and she truly wanted to see him. Upon finding her two friends, they had begun talking, but Adryn could quickly see that the two’s attention were only on each other, the girl laughed to herself. Seeing the way that they looked at each other. Adryn stood off to the side as she watched the two of them; she could see Natalia blush at something that Asce had said to her. This was obviously quite unlike her, it must have meant that the blonde princess was quite smitten with Asce.

Adryn could hear the two talking rather quietly; already forgetting that Adryn was still nearby, “Asce… I… I know that when we were younger I would make faces at you and insult you… But…” Natalia was cut off by Asce, “Please, we were kids, you don’t need to apologize for that, after all, you’re going to be my queen in the future anyways, so it doesn’t matter.” It was obvious that hearing these words from Asce had slightly stunned the girl, though she knew that they were betrothed they had never spoke of it before. “Asc-“ The Calyopian princess was interrupted when she felt Asce’s lips on hers, her face instantly turned red. “That is just a sample of the future.” He told her once they parted, he laughed slightly at her reddened cheeks. He still had to remember that Natalia was still only twelve years of age, and he was fifteen.

“A sample…” Natalia repeated quietly to herself. She actually repeated this several times when it was finally time to leave and on the ride back to Calyop, the young princess was certainly in love. However, it would come to pass that a few days later there was news of their broken engagement; because the prince had been exiled for an attempt at murder. This had left the young princess heartbroken, after that she had vowed that she wouldn’t fall in love again, especially not to someone of noble or royal standing. She couldn’t take the sadness that came with a broken heart.
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There are some events best left forgotten...


A full moon was out and shone light through a window from the Calyopian castle, and the light from the moon was unusually bright that night. The crisis that currently threatened the kingdom at hand was nearly finished. The current time was approximately 11-12 years prior to the Porgonin-Calyopian Crisis, the prince Nero was young, perhaps 5 or 6 years of age. However, the entirety of this particular conflict couldn't end; not yet. The plan was not yet finished, there were a few last pieces that had to happen for it all to fold in perfect place.

A light knock from the sound of wood on stone echoed throughout a section of the castle, the only other sound being a horrendous cough. A fairly young mage donned in black robes of mourning with a nobles cane in his left hand opened the door that the coughs came from to find an aged man in his last years of life, sweating a storm and obviously ill. "So... what did the healers say? He asked with an expressionless face. "The poison's been in too long, they can't come up with a cure to react quickly enough to all of it." The elder said between fits of coughs. The mage sat down at the elder's bedside, looking down on him. When the coughing finally gave way, the old man smiled.

"You remember back before, right? We used to say how everything around us was made of clay..." He trailed. "Indeed, old friend. But it appears that the time of clay has passed, we have molded too much and everything became brick." The mage responded in kind, flashing a genuine smile back. "You seem so calm and unconcerned about this though. We've been friends since I was a kid. You never seemed to age, here I lay, seventy years later on my death bed, wrinkled and rusted, broken and beaten. But yet... you look the exact same as the day we met. What are you, Taravo? What have you hidden from me?" The man asked. The mage, a fellow named Taravo, leaned the cane against the bed and folded his hands in front of his face. "Perhaps now is a time for confessions, my king."

"Though your kingdom's name is Calyop, the Calyop family has had no control in their kingdom for the past ten human generations because of a political coup. When this crisis came, everyone that took control from you had been wiped out. I only assumed it was best to put you back on your pedestal where you belonged." He stated. The sick king looked confused.

"What's that supposed to mean? My son isn't fit as is; he hasn't the experience to deal with the pressure..." The sick man started, but was shushed. "I started poisoning you the day the war started between us and the renegade barbarians, Morand. Brunswilt mixed with Vinek. There was just enough in each of your drinks to not be wiped out, but to build up over time." The mages confession obviously shocked Morand. The more haunting fact was that he knew how much to give to create this effect over so many years... It means he's done this before. "What? Why!? We've been allies since the beginning. You--" Again, he was shushed.

"Listen, please, for you've not much time left, old friend. Calyop is safe, your family is back on the throne, and the threat has been wiped out. Following your ideals, I will take your criminals and unwanted away from Calyop so it can flourish as a mage's sanctum, and I will return with them eventually, only not as criminals and unwanted, but as proud soldiers. Your son is plenty capable, put some trust in him. He doesn't have to worry about such pressure, for his reign will be a peaceful one. When he dies, your grandson will succeed, and prove to perhaps be better than either of you. You put an end to a conflict; your son will maintain that peace. However, if there's any truth to the age old myth that history has a cycle it follows, then your grandson Nero will have to both end a conflict and rise up to keep the peace that comes afterwards. The fruit of 3 kings will bring forth some interesting results I believe."

The mage paused. Morand was appalled and was processing what he just heard. "There is no greater power among you mortals than the power of story and legend. You will be loved even in death, and praised forever as the savior of Calyop, and the man who re-asserted that the rod of power is back to who it should belong to. However, you were too skilled a soldier to ever die on a battlefield, and if I didn't interfere, your deeds would be forgotten before you passed. I did not want to do this; I really didn't. What's done is done, and I must confess I regret nothing in my actions done."

"So it was all a lie from the start, huh? You faked the friendship, you faked the alliance, and you fooled everyone you've met since coming to Calyop. You… YOU MONSTER! You had everything in this conflict planned FROM THE BEGINNING? YOU ALLOWED ALL THESE PEOPLE TO DIE WHEN YOU COULD HAVE ENDED IT!" The shouting resulted in a heavy fit of coughs. The mage maintained a calm demeanor, a blank face which seemed to insult his friend before twitching for a second. "I was only false in my priorities, Morand. I did not start this conflict, and I did not wish this. However, there were things that had to be done. And yes, I suppose you could say I let those men die since I didn't stop it when it could have been easily stopped. However, History does not account for me, and History has a path it sets forth. But you are wrong, Morand. I'm no devil, no monster. It is not polite to insult your comrades and friends in such ways."

"You waited until tonight to tell me this so that way if I tried killed you, no one would believe me... Brilliant, my tactician, so brilliantly your style. So tell me then, Taravo. You've treated this all like a game, like nothing serious. You've casted away my people’s lives when you could have saved them just as easily. I need some damn answers... Why? Why did you go to such lengths? And what are you, anyway?"

Taravo looked away with a guilty expression. He calculated that the man would die within the hour. Recomposing himself, he looked back at Morand. "I can assure you that even in the prime of your life, you wouldn't have the strength to best me, so rest easy with that Morand. However, there is no point in testing the strength of a ruler alone if the people cannot follow him when things are dire. Had I of intervened at the start, your family would still be scraping a living as poor mages who could barely afford their own food. Had I of intervened at the start, no one would realize you were meant to rule and not some fakers. Had I of intervened, you may well have died perhaps forty years ago for stealing a pig." He shot back venomously, closing his eyes and fighting back the ever prevalent emotions. Guilt and suffering weren't foreign to him, so why did they bother him so much right now? The bond he made with this particular mortal, probably. Taravo never attached himself too closely to the plans pieces, but this man was something special. Perhaps that's why he felt the guilt. So this is what betrayal feels like...

"I hear that humans enjoy being grandparents, like it's an honor. I must confess that I never had that opportunity, but even when I was a human, I was too paranoid about everyone and everything when I realized that I could easily die. My one regret was not giving you that right, not giving you that honor. Nero will grow up with very little memory of you, just the man who even in his old age trained a kid to swing a sword, and told some awe inspiring stories. You won't live to see him age and watch over him as extra council. We both know how venomous the advisors are. But rest easy, I'll be watching over your efforts and your kin." The king began to shake uncontrollably; the healers would be there soon. The last person the king would see would be the mage that never aged.

"For the last few years, you've complained to me for my lack of feeling. How I always stared at everything like there was nothing there. I do it because I must, for if I was allowed to feel like you or the others, I would not be able to finish what you, or I, have begun. I am neither angel nor demon, I do not believe in such higher powers. I am the final option, and confess that what I've done tonight will be done again, though I cannot begin to predict when or where. As for what I am? My kind goes by many names, though the one we prefer is Lich. While myths state we are done on purpose, not all of us asked for this." With that, Taravo removed the illusion. Skin was fading from his body into a blue mist, revealing bone and cartilage beneath. As King Morand stared at him, the mage gave a deathly touch to put him out of what misery he had left.

"... Forgive me, old friend. If there was another way to have ended this, I would have chosen that path. Vel'bol zhah tlu, ori'gato ol tlu xunor.**"

He left the room minutes before healers rushed in, just as scheduled, with the illusion of being human coming back. A light knock from the sound of wood on stone echoed from the hall and disappeared as it went further away from Morand's chambers. No one saw Taravo neither leave the room nor enter the room; there was no reason to believe he killed the king, especially when he was such a powerful ally during their crisis.

The next day, King Morand's death was announced. A large vigil was held for him, and later that same day Taravo left Calyop to head to the eastern mountains, along with over 5,000 men and women who were all criminals or the ‘unwanted’ of Calyop, sellswords and mercenaries that were seen as inferior, for whatever reason.

"The weak must be removed for the strong’s survival..." He mumbled aloud atop his horse. It was a creed basic to nature and life as a whole, and quite fitting. Let's see what happens when the weak become strong and rejoin the ones that abandoned them.

But something had been haunting the man who creates paranoia', fears, and death to keep him safe. Some sliver of his own creation had wormed its way into the master's head.

I've had this plan set for 80 years... what if it goes wrong?

** What is to be, let it be done.
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Reaching for the Top!
Chapter one!


This is the story of love, betrayal, hatred, envy, lust, wrath, suffering, sorrow, and power. But this is not the story you may think you know. Our setting is not that of medieval Europe. Not a war between the two kingdoms of Porgonin and Calyop. But instead this is set in modern times. Our story starts off in a humble hamlet located in the United States.

Without further about I present Reaching for the top.

A young woman stood in an empty room, with no windows. Instead the walls were covered with mirrors. She stretched against the dance bar. Her long brown hair tied up in a high messy bun. She then stood up correctly as she finished stretching. She picked up the bar she had just been using and brought it back towards the mirrored wall. She crouched down and pressed the play button on a stereo that rested on the floor. The music was loud. It was soft. That of a piano, playing at a soft tune.

Talin got onto her toes and lifted her leg. She then started to dance along to the soft ballet music. Her eyes were shut as she did so. Feeling her body move with the gentle melody. She had loved to dance ever since she was a child. How ever… Ballet was not where he heart lied. It was truly not.

As the track on the CD finished another song started. It was different. Not as gentle or slow. Infact as the beat started it was almost that of techno. Talin started step to the song. She felt this song was something she could dance to truly. It was not classical. Not at all. But it was something she felt she could dance freely too. As she moved her motions were different from that of ballet. This was routine she had done for fun when she needed to clear her thoughts. Of course her mother and father had never approved of her dancing to anything else aside from ballet.

The song was Wonderland by Natalia Kills.

As the song ended she plopped herself to the floor. Panting slightly from her hard day’s practice. As she stood up and walked towards to the door it opened. A young woman with long light blond hair stood at the door . “Hey Talin, I was wondering if you would want to go to a concert tonight.” The girl spoke with a grin. "Natalia… I have to practice… Mom keeps telling me I need to work on my jumps…. As well as my landings.” She said with a sigh.

Natalia looked at her sister and gave a smirk. “Are you sure? I got these tickets from a friend of mine. Infact we can eve go back stage if we want.” She said smirking a bit. “… Natalia… no.” Talin said shaking her head. Hell she’d love to go but practice came first. Unlike her sister Natalia who was old enough to not be in the care of their parents Talin was still a minor. And very much stuck under their thumbs.

Natalia held up the tickets to show Talin who they were for. "... But don’t you miss Embry?” Natalia said smirking a bit.

Talin’s gaze shot up at her sister. She practically snatched the tickets out of her hand. “Wait you mean?!” She said in shock.

“Ya Adryn, gave them to me. I ran into her at the Crown Café, and she says they were in town for a concert for a few nights. Tonight’s the first concert. And she gave me tickets.” Natalia laughed innocently.

Talin looked up at her sister and without a word pulled her into a tight hug. “Thank you Natalia!” She said loudly as she let go of her sister.

Talin had not seen her old friend since they pre-teens. He and his family had relocated to California… Embry had always been saying how he had dreams of being a rock star. So perhaps they did finally come true. Talin had heard about his exploits as a star in magazines, the news, celebrity gossip blogs. It was strange. The Embry she knew as a kid was different from the play boy who was depicted by the media. But then again people grow up and change…

The brunette looked to Natalia and smiled. “I guess I can blow off training for one day.” She said with a nod. “You better.” Natalia laughed.

The blond had moved out of her home with the family and went to pursue a career in being a teacher. It was not something their parents were keen on but nothing they could do. They had tried to mold Natalia into being a gymnast or dancer like they were trying with Talin but the moment Natalia turned eighteen she left. Of course working and going to school. She kept in contact with her family of course. Mostly her little brother and sister Nero and Talin.

Talin looked to Natalia and smiled. “I wonder how he’s really changed.” She finally said.

Later that night the two sister arrived at the concert hall. It was not a stadium. But it was fairly big. But the place was packed. Talin and Natalia found their seats. Located towards the front but on the side. “Well these are better seats then the nose bleed.” Natalia joked.

The lights started to dim. Talin felt her heart beating quite a bit as she sat in the crowd. Even though she was sure he would probably not see her in the crowd due to there being so many people she still could not help but feel… weird.

The brunette shook her head as a guitar cord started to be played. Followed by the sound of drums a base guitar and key board. Embry was playing the guitar and was singing. On Keyboard was his older sister Adryn. Bass a slightly familiar face. Talin had seen him in the tabloids. His named was Draedon…. And on drums was a younger female. Her name was Holo. Talin only knew she was related to Draedon some how. Though how wasn’t very clear. For some reason she was wearing a set of cosplay ears and a tail… They looks liked that of a fox. Damn ever group needed a weirdo…

The songs eventually stopped. As the concert was finally over about two hours later Natalia grabbed her sister’s hand and dragged her back stage. “We know Embry and Adryn.” She said smirking.

The bouncer looked down at her. “Name?” He said in a gruff voice. “Natalia and Talin Calyop.” Natalia responded.

The bouncer arched a brow. Before he was about to send the two away a blue haired female peeked her head out of the door way. “They’re with me.” She said smiling. “Old friends.” She added. The Bouncer nodded and stepped out of the way.

As the two younger females stepped into the door way Adryn pulled them both into a hug. “Oh my god I missed you both!” She said practically squeezing the life out of the two.

“Adyrn… AIR!” Natalia managed to say. As she was released them from her grip. “Embry doesn’t know you both are here.” She said with a giggle and smirk. “Wanted to surprise him.” She added. Talin blinked a bit. “It’s his birthday and he still insisted on performing tonight.” She said shaking her head.

Natalia only shook her head. “Oh! Natalia I want to introduce you to some one! “ Adryn said taking Natalia away from Talin’s side. Leaving the brunette alone.

She had no necklace or tag to confirm she was aloud to be back there.
“Adryn! Where are you taking me?!” Natalia groaned as she was dragged towards a blond haired male. He looked rather… rugged. And a redish brown haired female who had been wearing the fox ears and tail. “Natalia this is Draedon and Holo.” Adryn smirked as she looked over at the two. “Oh you’re Natalia?” The male said grinning a bit. “Yeah. “ She said blinking a bit. “You’re cuter then Adryn made you out to be.” He said with a laugh. Natalia stared at him. A slight blush creeping up onto her cheeks. Holo just shook her head and laughed. “Please forgive my cousin… He’s just too friendly.” Holo said shaking her head a bit. She was then whacked on the back of the head by Draedon. “Brat.” He said in response as the shorter female was rubbing her head from the slight pain.

Mean while the brunette haired dancer stood there waiting for the two females to return. “Hey you! You shouldn’t be back here!” A voice called to her. She looked over her shoulder to see a familiar set of brown eyes. “Embry?” She said in shock. “Yeah… you know who I am, but who are you? You don’t have a back stage pass or any form of ID saying you can be back here….” He said putting his finger to his chin and looked over the strange female quickly.

“I’m…” Talin was about to say only to be cut off by Embry. “You know… you’re kinda cute.” He said grinning a bit. “If you agree to join me for some drinks I will let you hang out back here.” He said closing the distance between them. He put his fingers to her chin making her look up at him. “You know you’ve got beautiful eyes.” He said flirting yet again. He then started to close the gap between his face and her’s. So close she could feel his breath against her lips. She blushed brightly.

“Embry! What the hell are you doing?!” Adryn shouted as she and Natalia had returned with Draedon and Holo. Talin then pushed him away causing him to fall onto his butt. “Ow! What was that for?!” He growled as he looked up at her. “I was just trying to get some action. And making a groupy’s dreams come true.” He smirked a bit as he stood up and looked at the female. “… Embry! That’s not a groupie! That’s Talin!” The blue haired female shouted to her little brother. He looked over to Adryn then Talin. His mouth was not gapping open. “T-Tally?” He repeated calling her by her nick name.

The brunette heaved a sigh. Her face still bright. “Y-yes you idiot!” She said shaking her head. She was slightly annoyed.

“You mean… little Tally?” He repeated as he brought his hand up to his waist as a sign for the last height he had seen her at. “Yes THAT Talin.” Adryn said shaking her head.

Embry looked over at Talin still. His eyes wide. “Oh my god I am so sorry!” He said practically freaking out.

The brunette looked down and shook her head. She was slightly upset. She thought he actually meant what he had said… but he was just hitting on her… trying to get laid with what he thought was a groupie.

Talin walked over to Natalia and stood next to her. “I ran into Natalia at the Crown Café and I gave her tickets for her and Talin… Since it is your birthday… I thought seeing old friends would be nice for you.” Adryn said with a sigh of frustration.

“Natalia I’m outta here.” Talin said to her sister. “It was nice seeing you again Adryn.” She said grinning. She looked back at Embry and without another word walked out the door.
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Reaching for the Top!

Chapter two!

The brunette made her way out of the theater. Running passed the bouncer and straight outside. She continued out of the alley way and down the side walk. It was pretty late at night. And it was pouring rain. Her long brown hair was soaked. Her clothes clung to her body. She had been drenched in a matter of minutes. She had been wearing a white halter shirt top. But it did not show off her midriff. Infact it was a basic shirt length. As well as a basic pair of blue jean pants with embroidered pockets and down the sides.

She walked even further away. As she was walking she felt a tugging on her arm and was swiftly pulled into an alley way. Thrown to the ground three shadows stood over her.
“Hey pretty lady.” A dark haired male said with a smirk on his face. He was dressed rather nicely… But… He was older. And the smell of liquor was in the air. Not just on him but the two other men as well.

One of the other males stepped forward up Talin stood up. She took a step back and started shaking a bit.

“Don’t be afraid.” He said with a smirk. This male had blond hair and deep blue eyes. He was just as old as the other male. But looked a bit easier on the eyes but she was still scared.

“Don’t worry we’re just wanna show you a good time.” He said with a slight slur in his speech.

The other man remained rather silent. He stunk the worst. Three drunks… Great!
“Hey princess~ Wanna join us for a drink?” The black haired male said with a smirk and grabbed her arm once again.

“No!” She snapped pulling it away. She was then quickly slapped across the face.

“Pretty little girls need to watch their mouths and respect their elders!” He growled As he picked Talin up but by her long brown hair. One of the men pulled out a switch blade and held it to her throat. “Maybe we need to carve respect into you.” He smirked. “How about that pretty face of your’s.” The other said as he placed his foot roughly on her back to keep her from getting up.

Talin shut her green eyes as tears started to flow down her cheeks. “Pl-please stop!” She said as she shook in fear. “Stop!” She repeated as she tried to fight back the tears. She then felt the cold steel of the blade against her cheek. Followed by a slightly warm liquid oozing down from it. Her cheek was starting to sting. It felt horrible.

Suddenly without warning there was loud bang followed by a kerbonk. Then he hair was released and the weight on her back that was keeping her grounded was gone. The man had fallen to the floor unconscious.

“Hey leave her alone.” A voice said rather coldly. It belonged to someone she had actually ran away from. She looked up to see Embry. He looked to see the blood on her cheek. His eyes narrowed to the man with the knife, who was now standing up and swaying a bit. He charged at Embry with the knife pointed at him.

Embry leaned back to dodge the drunk with the knife in hand. Only to then raise his foot and kick in sending him to go back and hit a bunch of trash cans. The other man just stood up in fear when his buddies were taken out only to be stopped by Embry. Another thonk was heard and followed by the sound of snapping wood. Then a .‘Damn it!’ curtisy of Embry.

Talin looked up still shaking a bit. The dirty blond haired male held out his hand to the brunette. “Hey you okay?” He asked her in a concerned tone. She took his hand and stood up. The blood still trickling from her cheek. “You’re bleeding?!” He said pointing to her cheek. “I’m fine.” She said whipping it onto her bare arm.

Embry’s dark chocolate orbs landed on the broken guitar in his grasp.“Damn it… I just got this one too.” He groaned in an annoyed tone. Talin looked to see it in his grasp. So he used his own guitar as a weapon? Talk about resourceful.

“I’m sorry.” She said shaking her head.

“Hey you gotta cell?” He asked her holding out his hand.

“Yeah.” She said pulling it out. She stared at it. Curious to why he was asking.

“Good. Give me it.” He said closing his fist and opening it repeatedly as he spoke. Talin groaned and handed it to him.

He took it and dialed 911. “We need the police at the corner of 25th street and Skye avenue." He said into the phone. “There was an attempt at assault here." He added. “Victims? A girl who was being assaulted. Yes she is alive. She is right next to me.“ He added. The operator had asked him if there were victims.

In a matter of moments two cop cars were on the scene and an ambulance.

“I’m fine!” Talin groaned as a black haired male tried to sit her down. On the back of the ambulance.

“I’m just checking to see if you right.” He said to the resistant female. “Hold still!” He said. His calm crimson eyes showing he was getting aggravated.

Embry walked over with his hands in his jean pockets. “Let the paramedic do his job.” He said to the female. She hated doctors. They creeped her out. Nothing personal it was just her fear.

Talin huffed a bit and gave up. “Fine!” She said letting the male shine a flash light into her eyes to check for any concusion.

“You’re all good miss.” He said turning off the light. He pulled out some things to clean the cut on her cheek then. “This will sting a bit.” He said as he dabbed a cotton ball drenched with some liquid onto her cheek. She winced a bit but then felt him attack a bandage.

“There we go.” He said with a grin. “Good job.” He added. Treating her like a she was a kid. Reaching into his pack he handed her a lollipop. “Cherry for the little girl.” He smirked.

“The hell! You’re like my age!” She snapped as she swiped the lollipop from his hand, unwrapped it then popped it into her mouth.

“I’m NOT a kid.” He smirked a bit. “I’m twenty two.” He shook his head.

Embry looked at Talin as she was sucking on the lollipop. A blush creeped onto his face.

“Why are you blushing Embry?” She asked blinking a bit.

“He’s right you are a kid!” He said to her to throw her off. Embry had a problem. He slept with girls for fun. And seeing a girl he knew from child hood….. who was now this… beautiful young woman… Got him riled up…. And the lollipop didn’t help the situation for him at all!

“Thanks…. Dude. For taking care of her… despite her resistance at first.” He said to the dark haired paramedic.

“Don’t thank me. It’s all part of the job.” He grinned. “And you can call me Cher. Cher Blackthorn.” He said giving them his name. “Say are you….” He then finally realized who Embry way.

“The lead singer of Frozen Tear?... Yep.” Embry said cutting the male off. As if he wasn’t afraid to flaunt his fame. Of course he wasn’t!

Talin groaned in annoyance. She stood up and stretched a bit. “Well I’m off. “She said as if nothing happened. She was shaken up but didn’t show it…. As she started to head away she was stopped by a car and motorcycle. A certain blond female hopped off the back of the motocycle and pulled off the helmet. Some how it didn’t mess up her lockes.

“Talin! What happened?!” She said clinging to her sister. “You scared me!” She said shaking her sister violently.

Talin’s head bobbed back and forth as she was shaken by her sister.

The other figure got out of the motorcycle. It was a large tall muscular built male. His face covered by a dark visor on his dark colored helmet. He pulled it off and revealed his face. It was Draedon.

“Embry, You are a mother F*ckin’ idiot!” He said smacking the young male rather hard. Adryn and Holo stepped out of the car. “The hell!” Holo snapped. Adryn remained silent.

Only then as it went silent the blue haired female broke it. “Embry… where is your guitar…” She said noticing his guitar that was usually strapped to his back was not on it. Embry looked over his shoulder to the pile of trash on the ground. “…. You broke it?!” She said trying not to freak out. “That was a gift… from… Halo records! It was expensive!” She said rubbing her temples in frustration.

Before anything else could be said by the older sister Draedon stepped forward again and whacked Embry on the back of the head swiftly. He was ‘Gibsed’.

“OW! The hell was that for?!” Embry grumbled as he rubbed the back of his head.

“You reckless punk…” The blond bass played mumbled to Embry.
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The Book about Asylum


The apprentice library of the Lasterian Academy, open only to the academy's apprentice mages, the mage elders, and guests who had special permission. Astra wandered the shelves of the wondrous place for the first time, taking everything in, the smell of books both new and old, the low sounds of students studying and discussing, and most of all the presence of so much information in a single place. The sheer vastness of the place amazed the violet-eyed girl, the novice library was like a closet compared to this.

As the half-elf passed a couple of the other students she found herself at the receiving end of their glares. She couldn’t really blame them; most of the other students at the academy viewed her as an upstart foreigner, a mixed-blood with no true place amongst the prestigious elven community. How many times had she heard the whispers? ‘Darien’s brat’, ‘Unworthy half-breed’, ‘She doesn’t belong here.’ Every insult stung, it wasn’t as if she had asked to be born as a half-elf, but she refused to be ashamed of her mixed heritage. Sure Astra was only half elven, but her mother was strong, smart, and resourceful, even if she was human. The half-elf frowned at the other students when they glared, but a small smile claimed her face after she turned away. She knew that she had something they didn’t, early access to her raw talent. At only 14 years of age, Astra had been promoted from novice to apprentice at least four years earlier than most of her pure-blooded elf counterparts. And so here she found herself, the youngest person in the apprentice library.

Astra felt giddy as she perused the titles; there was so much to learn. Somewhere in her wanderings, she found herself in the section housing books of magic lore only to find a human there. The boy had black hair and piercing dark eyes which studied one of the old tomes with interest, he looked to be only a couple years older than Astra herself, and he wore clothing which contrasted starkly with the academy’s uniforms. He must be a visiting student from one of the human schools. Astra thought to herself as she studied him from the other end of the shelf. And then her eyes fell to the book in his hands, it was marked with no title she could see, but the page that she could see was covered in a detailed illustration of a tower surrounded by desert sands. The illustration was captioned with the word “Asylum.”

Astra’s interest was piqued, both by the boy and the illustration. She was about to approach him to ask after the contents of the book when he closed the tome and walked off with it towards the entrance of the library. Undeterred, Astra followed, hoping to catch him so she could make her inquiries, but before she could he had stopped to discuss the book with one of the mage elders. Astra halted in her steps before pivoting on the balls of her feet to stand before one of the shelves, her back to the pair. She acted as if she were looking over the books before selecting one at random which she then pretended to read while she listened in on the conversation between the human boy and the mage elder.

They spoke of a fabled tower called Asylum, which supposedly housed a vast wealth of knowledge. Spirits of the wise dead inhabited the space which was filled with books, and tomes, and scrolls, and maps, and engravings, and any other tangible scrap of anything which could hold record of information. The place sounded like heaven to Astra. Unfortunately, legend said that no one knew where Asylum was located, not even those who had ventured within. The added mystery of the tower being lost only made the thought of it more appealing. The search for tower would make for a wondrous adventure, and the reward at the end would be sweet beyond measure.

And then there was this Summoner figure, the man who had built Asylum. What was he like? From what she heard The Summoner's spirit still resided in the tower. Surely the spirit who created a sanctuary for such a wealth of knowledge would be one of the wisest to ever exist. What she wouldn't give to talk to The Summoner, if only briefly. Such a conversation would be worth more than hundreds of hours of study amongst mute books. The instruction the spirit might give could very possibly outshine that of her current teachers. With such a mentor who knows how sharp she might hone her magical skills to be.

As the boy and the elder talked, the girl's mind conjured up images of what the interior of Asylum might look like. She found an imagined version of her older self studying the old and valuable texts, gleaning thoughts and ideas which had never occurred to her before. She looked over ancient scrolls and lost artifacts. She conversed with wise and knowledgeable persons who had long been dead or faded into myth. If she ever went to Asylum she would learn things she had never known existed to be learned. What spirits would she talk with? What mysteries would she uncover? What answers would she find? She wasn't sure that even the wildest of her dreams would ever be able to guess at that. One day I will find Asylum for myself. Astra thought with a smile before a male voice whispered in her ear, shocking her out of the recesses of her imagination.

You were eavesdropping.” The voice said. Astra whipped around only to see the dark-eyed boy smirking down at her. For a moment she couldn’t speak but when she did her voice was tinted with defiance.

Yes, I was eavesdropping. Though I cannot comprehend how my eavesdropping affects you. It’s not as if you and the elder were discussing anything sensitive.” Astra said decisively as she closed the book in her hands and placed it back on the shelf.

It’s the principle of the thing.” He shrugged. “It was my conversation, and it didn’t involve you. Why were you listening?

You were talking about one of the books I want to read.” So that was a slight spin on the truth. It was true that she wanted to read the book, but only since she had seen it open in his hands, but he didn't need to know that. To avoid dwelling on her mild deception Astra changed the subject. “What are you doing here anyway? You’re not a student here and humans aren’t often allowed in the apprentice library.

Before she knew it he had reached out and brushed some of her hair back to reveal one of her pointed ears, shorter than those of a full-blooded elf but longer than the rounded ears of humans. “And you’re a half-elf. I don’t see how we're so different. Why should race matter as to who is permitted here?” He smirked again as he gently tucked the loose hair behind her ear before slowly removing his hand.

A furious blush spread across her cheeks and her hand flew to cover her exposed ear. “At least I’m a student here. I’m here to study.” She said hastily, barely managing to keep a stutter from her speech. She was so used to the other students giving her grief about being a half-blood that she was flustered by the fact that this boy didn't think race mattered. That and she had probably insulted him by even bringing up the subject of race in the first place. She had made it sound like she thought humans to be lesser, which just wasn't true. The academy even had one or two human students, and of course they were allowed to use the libraries. Unfortunately she had no clue how to fix her misspeak while her tongue was running on its own. “You didn’t answer my question.

Well it really isn’t any of your business why I’m here so I don’t think an answer is merited.” He responded.

Fine, don’t tell me why you’ve waltzed in here, used the school’s books, and harassed me.” This boy was infuriating and she didn’t know why, normally she could simply brush off the annoying comments and actions made by people she didn’t know or didn’t care about. It was probably because she cared about the book, she simply itched to take a good look at it herself. She turned on her heel, long silver hair whipping out behind her, and made as if to walk back into the stacks. “Just be sure to return the book when you’re done with it.” She would simply come back for the book later and read it for herself. It wasn't as if he could take the book with him back to wherever it was he came from.

-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-

Astra returned the next day to look for the book but found it missing. She tried again the next day, and the day after, and the day after that but with no success. The book was gone from the library and it looked as though it wouldn’t be coming back. “Disrespectful outsider, stealing library books from someone else’s school.
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A Book From the Library


Calyop was now the farthest thing from the young mage's mind as he wandered the Lasterian Academy's library. It may be true that Calyop has some of the greatest mages residing and serving within it's city but this library was more vast and extensive than the young mage had ever seen before. What had been a trip for training was now a wonderful surprise and Rone couldn't wait to look within the leather bound books that now surrounded him. Running his hands over spines he felt the leather some aged and worn with use almost begging him to draw them from the shelves. A few had names he could not pronounce and others appeared to difficult to attempt at his level.

As he made his way deeper into the library Rone moved his hands over the books until one seemed to call for him. Stopping he turned to see where his hand had found hold of a book. It didn't appear to be used very often but age had taken its toll on the cover and a few pages seemed tattered at the edges turning the book over in his hands he couldn't find a title. The mystery of the unnamed book was alluring enough to bring him to open it. Upon opening the old book his eyes fell on images and words that left him standing fully absorbed. Within the confines of the book were the details of an ancient tower that stored great amounts of knowledge and arcane literature from great mages, one in particular called the Summoner. Pausing he read it again. That name jogged his memory back to the stories his father had told him of a tower called Asylum that held great magic he wanted to use for all of Calyop its neighboring kingdoms.

After several more pages he shut it and moved towards the more used sections of the library in search of an elder. While in his youth, his father had managed some great feat that allowed him entrance to the academy and it's library and to this day he was a welcomed guest who was allowed an occasional admittance to the well kept library. As Rone made his way to where he expected an elder to be a girl caught his eye an elven girl most likely another mage. When he finally found an elder and had approached him the girl suddenly turned to the books next to her and had made a rather hasty selection. He only guessed she was following him he wasn't as good as his mother was at reading people and his surroundings but he could fill in the gaps.

The elderly mage was an elf to be expected from the academy and Rone paused long enough to be acknowledged by the mage "Sir, I have a few questions I was hoping you could answer or at the very least give me your insight on?" he didn't know who the elf was but since humans weren't often within the library he wasn't surprised that he knew his name.

The elder nodded to him "You must be the young Beligant and it appears you have found your way to our library much like your father many times before you. What is it that I can help you with?"

Rone gestured to the book "The Asylum, why is it that so many people have never found it or can't even remember where it is? There are accounts of what few people have found their way there but up to a point the details grow vague and than stop altogether."

The elderly mage smiled "The tower itself may have wards, charms, and other various incantations upon it that simply force an individual to forget it's location but I have never personally gotten to involved with it. Your father however spent alot of time in here looking for clues and scouring through our selections trying to gather what information he could. Luckily he has out grown it and stopped wasting his time with that myth." Rone frowned a little at the statement but excepted the mages words.They spoke for a while more about rumors of the tower and some of the legends brought back by those who supposedly visited it, but Rone wouldn't waste the elder's time.

Excusing himself he moved to leave the library but stopped and walked back towards the girl who he had guesses was listening on his discussion with the elder and now appeared to be lost in day dreams. Leaning forward he whispered “You were eavesdropping.” and that was what started the conversation between them. He couldn't place it right away but something was different about her. She looked elven but her features were not as sharp as the other elves he had met within the academy. As she began to lecture him about who could use the library Rone took a gamble and reached out with his hand.

Moving aside some of her hair to reveal ears that were not typical of an elf and it only left one answer “And you’re a half-elf. I don’t see how we're so different. Why should race matter as to who is permitted here?” He smirked again as he gently tucked the loose hair behind her ear before slowly removing his hand.

She seemed bothered by his action and swiftly covered her ear, he may have offended her, judging by the way she reacted “You didn’t answer my question.”

He didn't want to cause anymore issues “Well it really isn’t any of your business why I’m here so I don’t think an answer is merited.” Probably not the best response he could give at the moment. She must have been really bothered when she left him standing there, only requesting he left the book behind when he left. However he had other plans and that night both Thenith and Rone left the Lasterian Academy to get an early start on the long journey home, and with him the book was safely tucked into his sleeping blankets. He would ask his father later about the book and the Asylum most likely the day before their return by then it would be to late to turn around and return the book. The only reason he had taken it was to hopefully help his father and that he also be happy about Rone's interest in the old subject.

The return was uneventful and finally with the castle in sight Rone brought the book out from its hiding space "Father I have something for you. Do you remember all those stories you use to tell me as a child? About the tower of the Summoner and all the magical texts it contained?"

Thenith turned around and examined his son looking to him and the book in his hands raising an eyebrow to his son's question "Why do you bring that up?" he couldn't remember Rone taking a book with him so only one thing stuck out in his mind, he smiled, inside he was a little disappointed. "You stole that book from the Lasterian Academy? They have treated me very well and when I take you there you go and break what trust they had in me?"

Rone looked away from his father "I only took the book thinking to help you. With what could be in the Asylum my training could be more productive? You did want to find it at one point didn't you?" he looked back to his father who was now reaching out for the book in hi hands.

Thenith had taken hold of the book and Rone willing gave the book over to his father "I will hold onto this for now maybe we can look further into it later. I would like to return to the castle before nightfall, your mother should still be waiting for us."

Rone nodded and followed his father to the castle that had only begun to come into view. Once within the city limits the two were approached by guards who had been awaiting them. From what little Rone had grasped from the exchange his mother had taken ill, which was rare for her, and she had gone. His father was shaken by the news and taken off at a sprint leaving Rone behind struggling to keep up.

Within the castle walls there were more guards rushing his father to their family quarters where mother should have been waiting. The room had several healers, now gathering what supplies they had about the room, many of them elven but more half-elf than pure blood. His father was kneeling at the bedside hunched over his mother. Approaching his parents Rone could see the sporadic movements of his father's shoulders and his whispers of denial. He could feel the pain building up in his chest, from the snowballing information he had subconsciously chosen to ignore, and the sting of the tears threatening to spill forth. All the denial in the world could not fix what was wrong now, his mother was dead.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Both father and son grieved for months which gave way to years both trying to push on with their lives. Rone's training had changed as much as his father's attitude toward everything. The man who always smiled had stopped smiling and the change was reflected on Rone's training. Emotional subjugation was implemented on a more regular basis and Rone's need for his father only fueled the flames. Scared of being alone he did not disobey his father when it came to training or matters involving his duties to the royal family.

The book he had brought back from the trip to the Lasterian Academy's library had vanished shortly after a man, who looked like a butler for the castle, had spoken with his father. His training had kept him busy and didn't give him much attention to spare but he was sure the strange man's name was Tim. There was reference to another man who had gone north but the he had to concentrate on his training and tuned them out.

Upon the completion of his training his father gave him a grimoire that contained a magical weapon. His father had explained it was once his mother's and that it should be a kept close in her memory. That magical book soon became a memory of his father too as chaos broke out from an assassination of the Porgonin king. His father had slipped out shortly after the death of their own king rumors were raised but were immediately stopped when Rone stepped up as a guardian. He would up hold the family name and maintain some form of dignity in place of his father.
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In the Calyopian Academies several centuries ago, a young man in his early twenties stood alone in one of the practice quarters to improve his power over illusions. It was in the middle of a fairly complex incantation when a knock came from the door on the other side of the chamber. Taravo cancelled what he was doing and went to see what was going on outside. A young princess, looking much like the modern Natalia, stood on the other side with a thick and heavy book in tow. "Princess Anladien, I didn't know you were here..." He stuttered, looking away uncertainly and scratching his head. "I found this while searching the library for something to read, and figured you would be interested in it. You always talked about searching for ruins and the like." The lady said, handing him the book.

Taravo looked at it, making note of some of its own oddities. There was a lot inside of it obviously, just by how large it was. The book was sealed shut with a bronze lock and was heavily embroidered, which showed some semblance of importance. Emblazoned in place of a title was a single sentence: "Asylum, The Mage's Heaven".

Slowly opening and turning the beginning pages to gloss through, the more he read through it the more his originally bland or blank expression became joyous, almost to the point of jumping up and down. If what this tome said was true of such a place, then whatever he so desired could possibly be his. Unfortunately, he knew his place too well, or assumed himself too small.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Despite all that Taravo had done in his time of agelessness, a task that shows he had beaten Time herself, the mage admits he felt like something was forgotten in life. He read through much of his writings from when he lived like normal men and found himself unable to do anything but despise this... Weakling. Perhaps if that weakling he was would've been less pathetic, he could've altered history. This decision has made the Lich appear far more grim and menacing generally, carrying an air of unease on the wind behind him. But never again would it be said that he was weak or cowardly.

Tim had been been doing something of his own apparently while the Master was away, and Taravo could tell that there was an unusual air about the helper. "Oh, Master. I was given this by a man some years back and waited for your return from across the sea to show it to you. He appeared to be a friend of yours." He said in a monotone. The mage took the book and looked it over, feeling a familiarity until he came upon a depiction of a tower with Asylum written to the side. The title was gone, but that one word brought it all back. "I knew I forgot something. Thank you for this, Tim, it will serve us very well."

Tim simply wandered off back into the castle after handing his master the book that Thenith had given him. The servant almost wondered where a brute like that would find such a wizened book, but such thoughts were not his place to think on, and so he tossed it aside. Perhaps it came from one of the academies though...
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Astra Becomes “The Silver”


Astra was studying in the apprentice library when she was approached by one of the elders.

Apprentice Grey, you are summoned to the Council of Elders tomorrow at dusk. Dress in your formal robes: this is a matter of great importance.” And with no more than that the elder was gone, leaving the startled young mage apprentice in wake.

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

The next day, several hours before dusk, Astra sat in the antechamber of the Elder Recess, as the council room of Lasterian Academy was called. As instructed, the half-elf was dressed in her formal school robes within which she fidgeted due to the foreign feel of the lush fabric against her skin. Formal robes were only used for important occasions, such as appearing before the Council, and were made of much richer fabric than the uniforms the students wore on an everyday basis, the combination of the association between garment and situation made Astra nervous. Students were rarely called before the Council of Elders unless the student was to be reprimanded for severe breaches of code. Had she done something wrong? Was she to be dismissed from the academy? If so, then why? From all she knew and had been told she was the model student, devoted, open to instruction, involved, and helpful to anyone who would accept her aid. She was at the top of her class at the prestigious magic academy. So why would the Council summon her? Was it something with her father? Darian the Reflective was a respected mage in the community, and highly involved with the academy. However, Astra rarely saw him as she lived in the school dormitories with the other apprentices except for on breaks during which she would often go to her mother’s home. Had the council called her to report ill news? Had something happened to her father? Fear gripped the girl at the very thought.

In her anxiety Astra fiddled with the necklace she always wore, a silver pendant in the shape of the waxing moon, set with amethysts and clear crystals, suspended upon a simple silver chain. The pendant had been a gift from her father when she had first began her study of astrology, following in his footsteps, while the chain was a gift from her mother, Anna Grey. The necklace was a precious object, both sentimentally and monetarily; Anna particularly had paid dear for the treasured gift. Somehow the feel of the cool metal in her hands helped to calm Astra. Even if the Council had called her in for some dire unknown offense, Astra’s parents would not forsake her.

After what felt like an eternity the young apprentice was called into the chamber where she stood alone before the Council of Elders. She was greeted with serious looks from every present Mage Elder: it took every ounce of self-discipline Astra had to keep from squirming under their scrutiny. Then the High Elder, Arch-Mage Saeldur, spoke, his wizened voice ringing strong all through the chamber.

Apprentice Mage Astra Grey, you have been called before us today to hear the outcome of a great and difficult decision which has been made concerning you.” He paused to let his words sink in.

This is it. Astra thought with a sinking feeling in her chest. They are going to expel me, and I don’t even know why.

You have proved to be a student of great talent and merit. During the five years you have spent as an apprentice here at Lasterian Academy you have shown exceptional progress in harnessing and honing your magical abilities, even surpassing many students who are both older and longer studied than you. The level of skill to which you have advanced is extraordinary for one of your age and background.” Of course her mixed blood had to be brought up but when nestled amongst so much high praise Astra could not find any shred of mockery or insult within the reference. “In light of all this the Council has made the decision to officiate you.” A slight but genuine smile touched Saeldur's aged features. “You are to be named as a Mage.

For a split second Astra could feel her heart stop, so great was her surprise. She was to be named as a Mage. But she was only 19, most students were not granted graduation until age 25. Did they truly believe her so skilled as to grant her this honor so soon?

I am honored, Masters.” The young woman could manage no more words. What else could be said in response to that?

One week from now you will be called to your final trial here at the Lasterian. Assuming you pass, your Naming Ceremony shall be held one month hence.” One of the secondary elders said. “If you wish to surrender your family name and take on a Wielder Name then you must present your desired title for consideration before two weeks have passed. Consider this decision carefully.

Yes, Master. I shall put much thought to this matter.” Astra said simply.

High Elder Saeldur spoke again. “You have proved us all wrong. You came to us as a young novice, no more than a child, your magic hidden and uncontrolled. It is apparent now that we were presented with a diamond in the rough. Heaven’s blessing is clearly upon you, young Astra. You may go now. Put your spirits to rest and your mind to joyous considerations.

Thank you, Masters.” Astra bowed then left the chamber with a much lighter heart than she had entered with.

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

That night Astra could not sleep as she was still consumed by pleasant wonder. There was so much to think on, but the one thing that pressed to the forefront of her thoughts was the matter of taking on a Wielder Name.

The if was not in question, she had always wanted to take on a Wielder Name as her father had, she wanted to show the world her worth and a Wielder Name was an indelible mark of skill and achievement. But she knew not what title to take. This was a title which was not subject to even the consideration of change and so must be chosen with the utmost care. Those mages who are granted such lofty titles as “the Wise” or “the Great” wait long spans of time after their officiation to take on a Wielder Name, decades, sometimes a century or more. But Astra was not after such bounding recognition, she only wanted to prove herself wholly worthy of the position of Mage, and she could take that step in the here and now. She wasn’t about to turn that down. But her conundrum remained. What should she take as her title?

As the young woman lost herself in thought her hand strayed once again to her necklace. With the feel of the precious metal and sparkling stones between her fingers Astra’s thoughts turned to her parents. She owed them so much, her magic, her understanding of the world, her very life and everything in it. She would do well to honor them.

Astra removed the jewelry from her neck and held it in her hand, examining it. The silver moon sent shimmering light to glint off its small counterfeit, almost making the pendant glow like the celestial body it was made to imitate. Darian had once compared his daughter to the moon, saying she shone with a great brightness which the world may sometimes try to hide, but like a waxing moon she would always appear again. Perhaps her father gave her too much credit, but Astra treasured the analogy.

Her mind then turned to her mother. Even though Anna’s surname was Grey, Astra couldn’t help but consider her mother as a person of brilliance and the young woman was proud to have borne the human surname during her upbringing. The mother had taught her daughter how to find good during hardship; Astra was not always able to do so, but because of her mother the half-elf was capable of staying strong and holding her head high even under the prejudices placed upon her and her family. Yes, Anna Grey was far more valuable than her name made her out to be.

All her musings brought Astra to a conclusion. She would take on the title of Silver. Silver was precious and bright even though it was grey. Silver was the color of the moon to which the young woman had been compared. Darian meant precious and his title was “the Reflective”, silver was both of those. Even Astra’s own hair was silver. Yes, Silver was the title for Astra, it was who she was and where she came from.

Her decision was made. She would be Astra the Silver, now and forevermore. She would wear the name with pride and dignity and no one would ever be able to take it away from her.

Astra clasped the necklace around her neck once more and smiled. Soon enough sleep claimed her and she drifted off to the land of dreams, perfectly happy for what seemed like the first time in her life.

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

One month had passed and Astra stood once more in the Elder Recess before the Council of Elders. But this time she was not alone. This time her parents, both of them, stood in the room with her. Behind her stood many of the other apprentices, all of them dressed in their formal uniforms. Astra was also dressed in formal robes, but these were not the robes of a student, these were made special for her and her alone. Full skirts and sleeves of white satin were overlaid with layers of sheer violet silks, the violet bodice which hugged her torso lased up the front with silver ribbon, the open front of the overdress revealed the dusky grey underdress made of a light and airy fabric which seemed to float around her, and all of it was embroidered with silver stars. The moon pendant on the silver chain hung about her neck, and her silver hair was woven with violets. This attire was not uncomfortable in the slightest; no these robes and ornaments were perfectly suited to her.

The ceremony was simple. A few speeches were made about the responsibilities of a mage and the requirements of obtaining the position. Astra was asked to perform a few ceremonial spells, creating an orb of light, calling upon wind, water, earth, and fire, restoring health to a dove which was found wounded in the forest, and other such small displays of skill. Prayers to the heavens were made. Then at last Astra was called upon to approach the seat of the High Elder.

Apprentice Mage Astra Grey, you have proved yourself worthy of the position of Mage. And now, under the power and authority of the Council of Elders I relinquish you of the title of Apprentice and name you as a fully acknowledged Mage. From this day forth you shall be known as Astra the Silver. May Heaven’s blessing be upon you. Please turn to face those assembled here.” Astra did so and Arch-Mage Saeldur continued his speech. “I call upon all those here to be witnesses this day. Before you stands Astra the Silver, a mage proudly acknowledged by Lasterian Academy, and an example of the power of magic.

Applause rang through the hall and Astra couldn’t help but grin. She was now a mage in her own right. Her parents, the two people in the world who always had and would always love and support her, shone with pride for their daughter. She would do her best honor them in all she did, and her new name would aid her in that. She was Astra the Silver, and she would shine like the stars.

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