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Call of the Darkness

By Nullification

Replies: 541 / 1 years ago

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[center [pic https://i.ibb.co/LvSyktQ/B606-F133-0-D15-4-F82-A532-DE061-DE50-D7-C.jpg]]

[center [font consolas In the Lands to the North, something has stirred. A darkness unlike any other in it's thickness.]]

[center [font consolas And it spreads, leaking and devouring.]]

[center [font consolas Dark magic, a cult has arisen with a heathen at it's forefront and this will not stand. Together in the South, a Council decide to task two 'magicks' with the task of undoing this dark Cult that threatens the world as they know it.]]

[center [font consolas Magicks, more commonly known as warlocks or witches, are trained at a young age. Most of the time they have their own given strength, whether it be an element such as fire or water, other times they can shape-shift, heal or something of the likes. It differs from person to person. Much of the time, apprentices stick with their Masters and they live in a sort of mutual respect of each other. Magicks age slower, and it is not uncommon for them to be hermits. Although, they are somewhat of local celebrities in their towns. The more powerful Magicks can have intense magic within them. The battle of light and dark has begun, and it will only end with the death of one of them.]]

[center [font consolas The Cult calls itself the Divine, believing themselves to do the world mercy by 'cleansing' the lands. At their head is a creature born from darkness, taking on whatever form it pleases at the time. This darkness ebbs into everything. The puppet master pulls the strings of those under its influence, making it a substantial foe. Divine members bear a deep mark embedded in their skin like inky tendrils. Creatures and humans alike, but these markings make for a new puppet and now and then the Lord in the North speaks through his vessels. Do not touch the dark puppets, or suffer his mark and become his newest toy.]]

[center [font consolas Cut off the head of the snake. Rip up the source root and stem, or are they on the wrong side? Faint whispers and voices enrapture the Magicks, all the whole dripping poison in their minds. Whispers of how they are being lied to, of how the other is plotting a betrayal. ]]

[center [font consolas Crafted by the old Councils, from the Elders who had once predicted such a darkness would come, a metal made from light to be used to take down the Lord in the North. If they make it that far, surrounded by sickening shadows that foam at the mouth. The Lord in the North won’t risk his throne so easily. ]]

[center [font consolas End the bad guy and return to their tower heroes of the world, simple. ]]

[center [pic https://i.ibb.co/JtnDh0R/A6-C32253-74-B9-4993-A86-E-044-E5-EECAAEF.jpg]]

[b [font consolas Message me for any interest.]]

Standard ES Rules apply, of course.
I don’t expect a post everyday but please don’t leave me waiting a month without any update!
This is really open to ideas and concepts to bounce around and I love creativity!
Juniper followed the group, the further they got towards the outskirts of the jungle, the more she felt the magic dissipate from the atmosphere. She caught a glimpse of the harbour, musing over getting some horses. It would make their journey that bit easier. She was distracted by Taog, who looked as if he was seeing something faraway. Maybe it wasn't faraway at all, he had seen something and Tian pulled him back to the here and now. She watched the exchange and tilted her head, pondering what he had seen. At least they weren't going back on the ocean and she let Barut and Timbre take over talks for horses as she followed towards the harbour. She slowed some so she could speak with Taog.

"What did you see?" She asked him quietly, still unsure of whether it was rude to ask or not. He looked a little on edge though and he had mentioned a nightmare. Juniper had learned one thing with Taog, they were never just nightmares or just dreams. She had once dismissed them as such, but over time she had learned that they were things he had to see. Juniper watched Barut and Timbre bargaining for a good deal on some horses. Juniper didn't pay them much mind, she knew Barut and Timbre would come to some sort of agreement and it didn't look like this place got much traffic or patronage. Her eyes shifted back to Taog, questioningly. Was it bad omens? Juniper felt like something had changed, something had shifted somewhere but she didn't know what exactly. It was probably just Taog seeing something making her feel uneasy.

"Here, he didn't have many horses to spare." Timbre handed Juniper a horse. He was smaller than her last steed, but broader and looked more like a packhorse or carriage horse. She stroked its nose, settling the beast to a calmer state as it shifted from hoof to hoof. She fixed her cloak and mounted the horse, fairly easily and it seemed she had gotten better at that, although climbing would still be a real hinderance until she practiced more but given she was out of a jungle she didn't imagine she would need her climbing skills anytime soon. She gathered her reins and got comfortable, at least for a while given it was set to be a long trek.
Juniper / Resident Fey / Nullification / 1h ago
The earth elemental begged their safe return, placed her hand on the tree and all but faded into the bark, moss and leaves. Within the blink of an eye, the tree was just an ordinary plant once more. In a mirror echo of Juniper, Taog reached for his neck. Nothing but Mirriam's relieved smile seemed to suggest they had actually received the elemental's blessing.
Timbre seemed to have it by the right end, calling the tree magic.
Like the water elemental, the earth elemental was no more forthcoming about what a blessing was supposed to do, or how they were supposed to call on it in a time of need. Taog figured it was a mark that let the elementals know where they were, what was going on and then, when the time was right, they would lend their aid.

Taog shook his head and shrugged.
Air and fire remained.
Barut then told them their next destination; the fields of Renmar. Somehow, Taog felt uneasy at hearing the name, though it held no significance to his past. Perhaps the future then? Taog felt he might dream, if they let him, but they had to travel far.
A battle field then.
Their discussion was cut short by Barut. Taog put his hands behind his head and followed the sorcerer at a leisurely pace. As Fey, they definitely had the advantage over the other races when it came to travelling through the jungle. Taog felt at ease, travelling was light and simple. Food was bountiful.
They didn't have to do chores either, he noted. Other than the usual food-gathering and making fire for the ones that wanted cooked food and hot drinks.

They hadn't ventured into the jungle far before happening on the Fey village and soon the beach was in view again. Together, they set about gathering their equipment, left behind when the Fey ambushed them the other day. Taog helped pack some things.
"We'll follow the water," Barut explained to Timbre, who was already dreading returning to the jungle.
"There's a harbour, we can get horses and make better time," he ventured.

Taog stared out across the ocean.
A fierce, cold wind came from it, chasing off the warm magic he'd basked in while in the jungle. Taog shuddered at the cold.
For a moment, he felt as if in a dream. Taog turned and saw a dark figure, ambling across what looked like the Vale. The dream wouldn't sharpen. He tried to move closer, see who the figure was, but Tian caught his shoulder. Taog stumbled back into the real world.
"A waking dream?" she asked gently.
Taog nodded, a little distracted still, as if the dream was only a breath away from returning.
"More like a nightmare," he said finally.
Juniper watched, mystified by the Elemental before them. The Elemental seemed saddened at Taog’s words, stricken a little and she watched the dance of emotions splayed over her face and Juniper knew answers didn’t need to be spoken.
“What a curious union, fire and earth.” The Elemental carried on lazily, but with no less playfulness in her tone. She giggled and more flowers seemed to sprout from her hair,
“Very well. A blessing from the Elementals is no small thing.” She continued, moving around the tree and surveying it as birds hopped down to perch near her.
“Take mine, both of you. You will come to know what I means when the time is right.” She cooed and watched the two Half-Fey, eyes bright with mystery and wisdom. She knew so much, Juniper could feel that somehow she knew more than she could speak.

“Go safely, and when this is over, should you be able to, return to this place.” Earth tapped the tree with a smile. She finally placed her hand on the tree and seemed to meld with it, fading into the bark and moss, becoming one and the tree shimmered, a few new branches growing and then it was silent. Juniper removed her hand from the tree and stared in the quiet for a while. She reached up to the back of her neck, felt nothing but Mirriam was smiling in relief.
“Water and Earth.” Mirriam remarked, eyeing the back of Taog’s neck, expectantly and finding the etched in symbol there. It was a pity the two fey couldn’t see it themselves. It would look beautiful if they completed it. This was no small thing that they were accomplishing.
“Magic trees.” Timbre scoffed and chuckled a little, rubbing the back of his head and Juniper turned to look at them, the embarrassment earlier utterly forgotten about.

“What does she mean ‘we’ll know what it means’?” Juniper asked and was reluctant to leave the tree. The Earth Elemental has claimed it, blessed it? She wasn’t quite so sure. Mirriam only shrugged, just as mystified and looked to the others.
“Air and Fire remain, they will seek us out.” She murmured and Barut nodded,
“We should make our way to the meeting point, the fields of Remnar.” He muttered,
“Our forces will be gathering there for the battles ahead.” It had been quiet, no disturbances from the Council and Barut was on edge about that. Mothra and the Dwarven council member had come in quick succession and Barut knew others would come or the Great One would send something to try and take the group away, like swatting a fly.

Juniper tilted her head,
“Drit said the Fields of Remnar was where the races used to battle before the Great One took control?” She mumbled.
“Aye, fitting it should all end there.” Timber ground out and Juniper wondered if that meant they would see Eritreya and the others there too, the Elves and the Dwarves and anyone else who saw fit to join their cause. Apprehension bloomed once more and Juniper could only nod in silent agreement.
“Firstly, let’s get out of this jungle. The Fey won’t like us hanging around.” Barut remarked tersely and gestured for them to carry on.
Juniper / Resident Fey / Nullification / 10h ago
When finally the jungle subsided to open way to the small clearing they'd found to plant their tree, Taog saw that it was in full bloom. Not only that, plants and other life had started to surround it, filling the gap left in the jungle, almost absorbing the once open patch back into dense green surroundings. Juniper's skin glowed with her inherent magic as she investigated the tree. Taog cocked his head, felt the elemental's presence before he could even see her.
More plant than Fey, the elemental had playfully peeked around the tree's trunk to find Juniper there. Taog wanted to say something, warn Juniper, but the Earth Fey opened her eyes while they all stood agape. Tian hushed Timbre, and even Ren was silent.

In a gentle voice, like the rustling of leaves, the elemental spoke.
Taog wasn't sure whether to return the grin she sent them. He wasn't sure about this elemental in general. It wasn't an unpleasant presence in any way, much like Juniper, he figured. Taog could feel the elemental's presence, unlike some other magical creatures, so their power had to be formidable for him to sense her.
Why would they think they were curious creatures?
They were just half-breeds. Rejects to the full races and he was an outcast to those of even the Vale. Why would the elementals see fit to bless them, of all beings? Wouldn't Fey like Mirriam or Seers like Tian be more suitable to receive their blessing?

When the elemental approached Juniper, Taog took a few steps forward, apprehensive and feeling a protective streak loom up from the pit of his gut. The elemental's gaze stalled him in his tracks however and Taog realized there was no threat. They were being watched, observed, more so than threatened.
Taog relaxed his stance a little at that realization, but didn't dare tear away his eyes.

"When the rot comes here, will you be safe?" Taog asked.
His question seemed to sadden the elemental. Her fingers lowered from Juniper's chin as her eyes danced across the jungle.
Taog already knew; the elemental would abandon the jungle, flee the rot and return only when it was safe, perhaps to help recover it. That was, if the Fey didn't act timely enough. He shook his head. His question no longer needed a spoken reply.
Juniper followed and Tian was acting like a sprite. She thought she knew where they were going, it seemed familiar and Juniper glanced to Taog at his words.
“Our tree?” What would they want to do with their tree? It felt a little strange, honestly. She had thought that was something private, something between the two of them, she knew it was just a tree but she still felt a touch invaded. She furrowed her brow and looked to the others. Juniper fixed her hair and fixed her clothes, a touch nervous and she followed as they came upon the tree which was surprise to her. It was now in full bloom and she looked to Taog. They hadn’t done this.

Juniper eyed the tree as she stepped forwards, hesitantly and investigating the tree. She knew there was magic here but she could sense something else as she reached forward and touched her fingertips to the bark of the tree very gently. She closed her eyes and much like before, her markings lit up but this time it was like a breeze kicked up and seemed to blow her hair and she breathed it in, this wasn’t a threat. Juniper opened her eyes to see a woman standing at the base of the tree. She had leaves in her hair, her dress made of flowers and petals. She looked absolutely beautiful. She wasn’t fey though, she was more advanced than that. Juniper almost took a step back, hand still resting on the tree. The woman had autumn coloured eyes, she was breathtaking and Juniper looked to the others, not sure what to do and slightly afraid.

“I was wondering when you would come back.” The Elemental said and smiled softly, each step she took breathed life into the ground beneath her, flowers and such sprouting up. The Earth incarnate looked to the others, grinning delicately in the light.
“Water wasn’t wrong, you are curious creatures. Half breeds, of Earth and fire.” She whispered, birds and critters completely at ease around her and Juniper could see barky markings on her bare arms. She was one with nature completely, with earth. She was the tree.

Juniper smiled a little, she still looked so beautiful and young and vibrant. The Elemental turned to June, lifting her chin a little and smiling at the half Fey.
“What things you and he could accomplish, Hm?” She whispered quietly and turned her gaze to Taog. Juniper swallowed a little and didn’t know what to say,
“Will you help us?” She asked quietly.
Juniper / Resident Fey / Nullification / 23h ago
A lover's quarrel? Taog shook his head, awkwardly placing his hands behind his head, stance casual, though he felt anything but. He couldn't get the image how just how beautiful Juniper was out of his head and it was confusing, the way his body reacted without him meaning to. Taog tried and failed to keep the blush from his face when Juniper stammered it was nothing like a spat between lovers. He looked away.

Mirriam's reply was just as vague as Tian's might have been, saying the Earth elementals might be somewhere. Was there merit to Elroch's story? Mirriam said the elementals might find them, so maybe it was true that the air played with them all, whispering of what had become of them.
When they had all finished their meal, Barut and Timbre took the lead. Timbre's lead was lacking elegance. The Dwarf tore through the jungle like a bore trying to track through a dense shrub. Taog sighed out and followed at a slower pace, confident they would be easy to catch up to.

Tian crossed their path from the side, startling Barut.
She chuckled, "nervous, Barut?"
Barut took in a deep breath and gave a head-shake that conveyed that he wasn't, and was at the same time.
"This way," Tian said playfully.
"No," Timbre said, "the beach is this way."
Barut clapped Timbre's shoulder, "I don't think we have a choice," he said.
Defeated at having missed the opportunity to get out of the jungle as quick as possible, Timbre sighed out and groaned. Taog laughed at the Dwarf's plight, but was curious what Tian was after.
He pushed some branches out of the way and followed the narrow path Tian had chosen. Animals skittered out of their way as they passed, birds fluttered off. It was obvious they weren't used to trespassers.
And then Taog started to slowly recognize certain landmarks. A particularly gnarly tree; the way the mushrooms hugged the side of the bark.
"We're going to the tree," Taog told Juniper.
Barut caught his words, but remained confused.
"The seed June received from the Seers, we planted it near here," Taog explained.
Tian still lead the way and Taog started to recognize more and more about the path they'd taken the other day. Why would they lead them back there?
Taog felt the tree had been something that belonged to him and Juniper together, not someone else.
Juniper was resigned to just relax by the water for a while, time ran away with her and she heard some movement and glanced up to see Taog looking totally flustered and Juniper went a rather unflattering shade of bright red.
“Taog! Sorry I didn’t-“ She stammered was she pulled her cloak more around herself, trying to stammer our apologies as Taog turned around and Juniper swallowed slightly.
“Th-thanks, I’ll be right over I just-“ She couldn’t seem to formulate words but was rather making words and trying to save herself some embarrassment. She watched Taog and somehow every stupid little imperfection with herself felt totally exposed. She watched Taog go off and breathed out when he disappeared. She waited for a moment and then went about getting dressed.

She eyed the breakfast and picked it up, heading back towards the others, actively avoiding making eye contact with Taog, clearing her throat and sitting down nearby.
“Where do we find the Uh- Earth elemental?” She asked, pushing conversation and Timbre eyed her over. He looked to her and then Taog,
“Lovers quarrel?” He asked and Juniper just shot him a look and she wasn’t about to divulge the issue. It wasn’t a quarrel it was just humiliating.
“N-no, nothing like that. It’s alright I was just-“ The explanation died on her lips and she busied herself with breakfast. Mirriam looked utterly confused and just shook her head.
“Somewhere.” She replies to Juniper’s question and gave a shrug.
“Then Fire and Air, but I feel like they’ll find us. Blessings from Elemental’s, that news travels fast and no doubt they’ll want to meet you.” She said to them both and Juniper reached up to her neck, she couldn’t feel anything.

Juniper looked to Taog for a moment, hair drying slowly but it was proving difficult in the humid atmosphere. Juniper tied it back, using a summoned vine to keep it in place with a red flower for decoration and she looked to Mirriam,
“What happened?” She asked quietly and Juniper just shook her head and Mirriam thought for a while. Juniper had bathed, Taog had- Oh! Mirriam hid a small, amused smile at the situation. She doubted either of them had been with the opposite gender before and she couldn’t help it. She didn’t let on that she understood to save them anymore embarrassment.

Juniper finished and got to her feet. How were they supposed to find the Elemental’s then? Or did they not have to? She hummed a little to herself and tried not to linger on being so hot and bothered after the impromptu discovery by the water and a million doubts went through her mind. Had he been just embarrassed? Did he find her displeasing in so little? She grabbed her bag and fixed some her clothing as Barut and Timbre started to lead the way.
Juniper / Resident Fey / Nullification / 1d ago
Soon enough Taog and Mirriam had gathered breakfast in the form of fruits, seeds and some roots that they'd cook later. With only one more day to get out of the jungle unimpeded, they couldn't loiter for too long. Taog helped carry the food back to camp, where Timbre used his knife to cut chunks and slices from some of the fruit as he ate. He watched the Dwarf's uncanny elegance with the small blade, which earned him a grin.
"Practice makes perfect, lad," Timbre said.
"Did you see Tian?" Barut asked Mirriam.
She shook her head.
"I thought she was with you," the Earth Fey replied.

Taog crouched down to take his portion and bit into the succulent fruit. The juices ran down his chin. Speaking of Tian, Juniper was gone too. When his eyes met Barut, he nodded in a particular direction.
Taog nodded and took Juniper's portion before sauntering through the jungle in search of June. He didn't have to wander long. Taog heard the young Fey before he saw her. "June, I brought you-" Taog's breath stocked.

Juniper's hair was wet, slicked to one side where she'd wrung it out. Her wings were spread, glistening in the sunlight as they dried. As his eyes took in the full picture, Taog realized Juniper was only shielded by her cloak. He turned aburptly.

"I uhm-" he stammered. Taog tried to form another sentence, and then another, but the image of Juniper, frail, strong and beautiful, robbed him of all inspiration. The heat he'd carried on the boat had tapered down long since, but Taog still had a blush colouring his cheeks.
"I brought breakfast," Taog said, throat dry.
He couldn't turn around. Taog tried to find more words and failed.

"I'll leave it here," the fire Fey put down the fruit and hesitated for a short moment, caught himself from looking back and then stalked back to the group.
Mirriam looked at him questioningly, but Taog merely shook his head and decided he didn't want to know where Tian had gone off to either. And he certainly didn't want to talk about where he'd found Juniper of all things.

"What's gotten into him?" Timbre asked Mirriam. She shook her head and frowned, "damned if I know," Mirriam mumbled and continued preparations.
"We should leave soon," Barut said, eating his share of their bounty while he packed some things away. "They won't have infinite patience," he bemoaned.
Juniper gave Taog a half-amused look at his comment about combusting and shook her head at him. He wasn't wrong though, they didn't know and watched him for a while. Would they become like that eventually? That would be life changing and she supposed the Elemental's were a grand age, timeless in a sense. It would take a long time for anyone to become so powerful that they merge with their very magic. Juniper hummed a little as she got to her feet, inching off to find somewhere quiet to bathe properly. She didn't go too far so she wouldn't worry anyone but found a secluded part of still water shrouded by shrubbery and overhanging, leafy branches. The water was warm against her skin and she was careful to hang her clothing over a rock and safely away from the water.

Juniper enjoyed the sensation of water, especially here. It was natural and earthy, infused with lilies and all sorts of watery flowers. She ducked beneath the clear water and let her hair rinse, surfacing and keeping her feet able to touch the bottom. She didn't know these waters like the river back at the Vale and had no idea what would lurk in the depths. She was sure there was nothing dangerous, this was a Fey jungle after all. Then again... Juniper wiped water from her face and treaded water for some time, going as far out as she dared before retreating to the safety of the little bay she had found. She hummed to herself, allowing the water to rid of her troubles for some small amount of time. There was birdsong littering the air, the occasional animal call and she figured she was safe enough. Her own magic seemed to dance in this place, freer than it had ever been and even back in the Vale she hadn't felt such strength.

Juniper washed, let the waters purify her and she stepped back onto the bank, wringing out her hair and fanning her wings in some sunlight to try and dry them off, wrapping just the cloak around her for now because she was in no rush to go back to the others right then. She was almost sure she had enough time to clear her mind of problems and she watched the water, dragonflies of every colour waltzing across the surface, not quite touching the hazardous and unpredictable liquid.
Juniper / Resident Fey / Nullification / 2d ago
Elementals were once Fey? Did that mean Elroch would join the elemental they had encountered? Drit would become the very air around them? Would they ever become elemental? Taog stared down at his hands, at the misshapen blotches marring his skin which betrayed the duality of his existence. Was that why Fey opposed mixed race interactions?
Taog watched as Timbre got up and stretched, soon followed by Barut. Both males unfolded from the hideout, looking tired and a bit crumpled. As Fey, they didn't struggle resting in these environments. Taog much preferred it over sea-travel, that much was definite.

Mirriam wondered off before Juniper could ask any more questions, so she posed them to him. Taog pondered the question.
"Maybe they live inside the river of lava, like the water elementals take to the oceans," he said. "Maybe I'll combust," Taog joked and grinned. He stood from the water and decided to follow Mirriam for a bit, just to see which fruits she picked and what roots she chose to dig up. Taog figured he could help at the very least, because he hadn't done much yesterday. Barut and Timbre didn't look like they would be much help this morning.
Tian had already wondered off.
Taog wondered where she'd gone, but didn't worry. The female Seer had a way of going where she needed to be.

They didn't speak. Though Mirriam seemed to have resigned moving on without Captain Gray for the time being, Taog felt the Earth Fey was still preoccupied. Her thoughts were still elsewhere, that wasn't here. Perhaps she'd come to realize that they too were adult Fey, capable of making their own choices. It wasn't as if the Fey had heard Mirriam's plight any louder than theirs.
"Did you know Feriel?"
Mirriam hummed, "I did, I had no idea she was... your mother."
Taog pushed some leaves out of the way, letting the silence of their walk carry off the awkward tension to the conversation.
"Did they send you to be Chosen?" Taog asked.
A nod.
Taog felt it'd been overlooked for some reason by the Fey that had captured them. Did they consider Mirriam already dead, now that she'd decided to reject her fate? Outcast, like he had been. They weren't too different, Mirriam and him.
"Those are good, could you climb up and fetch them for me?" Mirriam asked, pointing out some fruit. Taog gave a nod and set to work. Chores were easier than talking most of the time.
There were bright flowers, speckled insects and such a warmth that Juniper felt as if the dream were paradise.
‘Wake up, June.’ There was a call, a familiar voice and Juniper turned in her dream only to open her eyes blearily to the waking world around her. It was still green but no rain. They didn’t have to get up and Juniper tried to nestle back into Taog but his nudge got her to sit up and she rubbed at her eyes.
“I was having a nice dream.” Juniper said but struggled to recall what exactly it was about. It had just been nice, she knew that much. She watched Taog hop down seamlessly and giggled a little at the sound of Timbre’s snoring. How had Mirriam or the others gotten any sleep?

Juniper had to shimmy half way down and then she could hope down, wings spreading to break her fall and she sunned them for a brief moment in the atmosphere. Juniper splashed some water on her face, trying to wake up and stole a drink to go along with it. The water here was warm, not cold like out at sea and she glanced to Mirriam as she started to work on some breakfast. She seemed to know the fruits and berries and seemed perfectly at home in this forest. It had been her home, hadn’t it?
“For pity’s sake, Timbre.” Mirriam scowled as she gave the dwarf an elbow and he started awake. Juniper watched from her quiet spot and smiled a little at the antics. Nothing would undo the past, but their future was still very much able to be changed. She turned soft and gentle eyes to Taog as he sat some way off and contemplated dropping some water over him, humming to herself. The thought was amusing but she decided against it. A morning like this should be enjoyed, she was sure there would be playful moments in the future they could grab ahold of.

“It beats being at sea.” Juniper remarked without thinking but Mirriam seemed too wrapped up in breakfast to care. Elementals Huh?
“What makes Earth Elementals so different from Earth Fey?” Juniper poses the question quietly and Mirriam gave a small laugh,
“They were Fey once, all Elementals. So they say. They became one with their Element. Fire, water, Earth and air.” Mirriam explained as she filled two bowls with a rather sweet broth concocted from the land around them. It would rejuvenate the Fey, she supposed and Juniper raised an eyebrow.

“They are wise creatures, long living and intelligent.” Mirriam continued as she started to wander off to feed Barut and the others. Juniper looked to Taog, curiously.
“How do you become one with fire?” They had seen how water had become one, able to shape shift within the very ocean and change forms, so Juniper thought. Air and fire seemed tricky though.
Juniper / Resident Fey / Nullification / 2d ago
A breathy laugh was the reward for his tale and Taog smiled at Juniper, nestled so close he could feel each curve of her body. Taog curled his arms around the smaller Fey and held her. Earth, huh? Taog readily believed Drit would say so and couldn't say whether Elroch or Drit's stories were more true or false than the other.
"Maybe it was," Taog said softly.
He stared listlessly at the rain, which now fell in the dark. Only the bioluminescent sheen told him of certain outlines and shapes. Where they sat, they were mostly dry because of June's magic. Juniper shifted in his arms to settle in a more comfortable position and before long, Taog was listening to the gentle breathing of June's dreams.

He sat there for a while, like that, until his hold tired and he too succumbed to sleep. In the jungle, Taog's rest was more akin to that at the Vale.
Occasionally he would wake up to a snapping branch, the sound of rustling or an animal's cry. Just as easily, he would sink back to sleep, until the light of dawn tickled his eyes to open and remain that way. Despite the minor disturbances, Taog felt he'd rested enough. He nuzzled the crown of Juniper's head.
"Wake up, June," Taog whispered softly. He wanted to be up before the others, bathe and perhaps find some breakfast.
It was a shame they'd only been given two nights to clear the jungle. Taog could've easily spent moons in the dense foliage without remorse. He stretched and nudged Juniper to sit on her own.
Mirriam too was waking up. It seemed the sun coaxed all Fey into waking, where it left the others exhausted and asleep still. Taog thought he could hear Timbre's snoring from where they were perched up in the tree.

When he was assured Juniper wouldn't fall from the branch without his support, Taog let himself fall down on the ground and stretched out properly. He squatted near the lake and washed his face, as if he could forget about what had happened yesterday by entrusting the past to the water. Taog drank, then sat there watching for some time.
They would meet elementals. Same as the water elementals.
His hand brushed by his neck unconsciously, fingers rubbing the unseen mark.
Did that mean he'd encounter a fire elemental too? What would that be like?
Juniper lazed back against Taog, listening to him speak and grateful for the story he wove out with such a relaxing effect. He told a story of the start of life, Elroch had thought it was water but of course the flames birthed true life and Juniper closed her eyes, listening intently to his tale. She didn’t much care if it was made up, who knew the truth of how life came to be? She had seen Taog weave his fire and his flames, he could use them for birthing life and also for snatching it away. He could take the flame from a person which was horrifying but she believed he could give that flame to give life. She had a tepid smile dancing on her features, protected from the rain that now came in heavy lashes but somehow didn’t feel cold.

Juniper gave a breathy laugh at his ending comment, a marvellous finish and she tipped her head back so she could see him from a different angle. She smiled softly, he didn’t know quite how wonderful he was now did he? She nestled down, comfortable and content and definite feeling of safety despite the looming danger.
“Drit always told me it was earth.” She murmured quietly. Taog’s story made much more sense because trees couldn’t grow without flames and heat. The thick, atmosphere was making her drowsy, Taog’s story helped her forget the worries of the day and everything that had happened. It gave her more reason to fight, to want to end all of this because if they didn’t they would succumb to a similar fate. She gently pulled Taog’s arms more around her, not quite wanting to let him go for a while in this safe little leafy sanctuary. Why should they leave? They could hide out like errant children, the Fey wouldn’t ever know. Maybe they’d tolerate them if they did.

Juniper shifted and was rather fond of the pillow she had acquired and her eyes drifted shut, content to simply rest after everything that had gone on. Her dreams were of the Vale, when she was but a child and so unscarred by everything. Privileged, she had been so privileged and unaware of what was in store. None of it mattered now, in hindsight. She gave Taog’s hand a gentle squeeze as she drifted off into sleep.
Juniper / Resident Fey / Nullification / 3d ago
Taog's eyes travelled from the canopy back to Juniper, who was resting in his arms quite comfortable. Her hand found his leg, and finally their fingers entwined. He felt connected here, in the jungle. More than ever before, Taog felt that all life was connected. No one thing could come to pass without effecting another and so it would be with the rot. Of course the Fey were confident in their ignorance. The jungle showed no sign of diminishing.
Taog hoped Marigold's soul was guarded from being lost to the Great One somehow, that Juniper's father had managed to do that at the very least, by offering up his life. Or was it Juniper's he'd been protecting all along?

One of Old El's stories?
Taog thought for a second.
He snorted at the memory of one of Elroch's tales.
"Elroch used to chastise me. Said that water was the first element to come to life," Taog started. "He didn't even realize the lie I caught him telling."
Taog looked at Juniper with a soft smile.

"Once upon a time, when this world was young and uninhabited, there were only the elements," he started. "Though desolate and tumultuous, the elements warred each other, not for their lives, but for balance."
Taog's fingers brushed by Juniper's gently, rubbing the soft skin there.
"And with time, all settled eventually. Earth down below, heavy and slow, balancing out with the water above in then icy crystals and sometimes nourishing liquid. And then air, wispy and restless, permeating it all, going as it pleased. They worked together to encapsulate the most dangerous and volatile of elements, which had spurned so many of the quarrels; fire."

He paused for dramatic effect, stroking Juniper's hair back.
"Plants grew. Trees fed on the water and became vast and tall. The wind played with their leaves, played with the water and created waves. The wind played with all the elements, with all but one. And then one day, from the skies up above, a star fell. Its flames lit up the sky in colours unseen before that time. The star landed in a fiery ball onto the Earth and scorched trees, plants, boiled the water. It disturbed the balance. The elements waited for the balance to be restored, but the star had brought a spark. Time passed and soon, there would be creatures, small at first, but they spread and grew. They diversified and became the horses, the deer, the birds and the insects. They became the humans, Fey and Dwarves."

Taog laughed. "And then Elroch would say; don't forget, Taog. We all come from the same spark, a fire that they couldn't tame."
He grinned, "and I'd point out that life came from fire first."
Stubborn was the right word, one all too commonly used to describe Fey it seemed. Juniper watched Taog speak after the silence, frowning softly but remaining quiet. He couldn’t have done anything, she knew that. It had been wrong of her to plead but she wanted to try anything. She watched Taog shift and obliged his movements, resting back against him, resting a hand on his leg, content to listen to the rain and steady, reassuring beating of his heart. He promised not to let her fall to such a fate and Juniper somehow knew it wouldn’t be a promise to be kept. Her father had tried to protect her mother, the two fallen in different ways. Pride of The Vale indeed, what a laughing stock she would be by now. Had Elroch or Drit known about her parents fate?

Juniper’s free hand found Taog’s holding it tightly in her own for some sort of grounding, thumb running over the back of his fingers, his skin warmer than hers. She shifted until she was comfortable and watched the raindrops paint patterns on the canopy protecting them.
“I won’t let it happen to you either.” She said quietly, but there was a tone of complete seriousness to her voice. Rather her than Taog.
“You couldn’t have done anything... She’s gone, I think. Maybe my father saved some small part of her...” It was true, that wasn’t her mother much the same as Ren but he was tainted, her mother didn’t feel tainted, just empty. Such a fate was torture, to be neither living nor dead. Taog was warm against her, his regular temperatures exceeding hers but she had come to find it comforting. Her fingers played with his as her eyes closed. She wasn’t asleep, she couldn’t even if she sought it out so desperately.

It had been such a strange day, full of emotions Juniper didn’t want to feel or ones she had ever imagined. It made sense why her parents stopped visiting and Juniper thought for a moment.
“Do you think you could tell me one of Old El’s stories?” Juniper asked shyly, she just wanted to think about something else other than the cold, distant look in her mother’s once nurturing eyes. Juniper knew she would likely succumb to exhaustion whilst Taog told his stories. She felt drained despite being in this place of wonderment and illusion. Juniper turned slightly, careful because she trusted the tree but still didn’t want to cause discomfort to Taog.
Juniper / Resident Fey / Nullification / 3d ago