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RE: Black Ice Friendship

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RE: Black Ice Friendship

Post by Phirania on 12/24/2015, 7:37 am

Hey everyone, I've been sitting on this story for a while and thought now would be a good time to release it -- a more detailed story of the previous work from Admin Luna and myself entitled Black Ice Friendship. This story encloses how the princess of Iciaura, Luna, met the ambassador from Anount, Xanthos. I'll be linking each chapter in the index below, but let me know what you all think, if you get the chance to give this a read!

INDEX
Chapter 1 - Cold and Always Yearning
Chapter 2 - Keep It From The World
Chapter 3 - Mirror, Tell Me Something
EPILOGUE - The Loneliest of All


Last edited by Phirania on 12/24/2015, 7:46 am; edited 1 time in total

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Cold and Always Yearning

Post by Phirania on 12/24/2015, 7:37 am

[Planet Iciaura, 10 Iciauran Solar Cycles Ago]
“I will make trophies of their spines…” Charisma muttered as she trudged the snowy expanse of land, barely able to even see where she was going in the darkness of night. Before the black hedgehog stood her destination, the Kotua shrine -- a place where ancient power lay barely kept in check… and where Charisma would have her vengeance.

She was angry, so angry that her own power might have scared her in the days that had come before. She was young -- only six years old -- but the hatred in her bones was old enough to start a war. And a war was just what she intended to do.

As she approached the shrine, the unlit torches that stood towering over the path began to light with each step Charisma took towards the shrine. It almost felt as though this very place knew what the young girl was about to do… and it agreed with her intentions. A feeling of discomfort washed over Charisma as she gripped her father’s staff of necromancy. But she refused to let her resolve be faltered as she quickly strode to the middle of the chamber, where a lone stone pedestal stood in the harsh wintery night. A sacrificial blade and glass vial were the only objects atop the pedestal, although further inspection told Charisma that ancient Iciauran runes were etched into the pedestal itself.

“A blood sacrifice… And here is where my promise becomes a reality,” Charisma said softly as she looked down at her now shaking hands, though whether it was from anticipation or fright was unclear. At the base of the pedestal was an ice-blue scepter with teal embellishments encrusted on its side that led to a snow-white orb on the scepter’s top. The orb flickered at Charisma’s presence, almost as though there was light hidden at the orb’s center. She knew that what she was about to do was the point of no return. She clenched her fists and gazed upon the sacrificial knife with her violet eyes, reaching out to fulfill her destiny and descend into her inevitable fate.

She held back a cry of pain as she felt the cold steel of the blade dig into the skin of her arm and draw forth blood. With a wince, she placed the knife back on the pedestal and lifted the vial to squeeze her blood into. As the blood filled the vial, a soft rumble began to emanate from the shrine itself, and Charisma looked on in surprise. She hadn’t expected this shrine to be so… hungry.

Lightning slithered through her veins as the scepter-orb’s glow began to magnify in intensity, brilliant streams of multi-colored light obscuring the young girl’s sight as she took a staggered step backwards. While she couldn’t see at the moment, she certainly felt the sudden stomp of something heavy -- something heavy enough to make the ground shake. Charisma scooted herself backwards, facing away from the light to try to reorient herself. Had her plan succeeded? Had it truly begun?

Her answer came in the form of a guttural howl not unlike a wolf, but also similar to the sound of bones clanging against each other in a dry wind. As the light began to fade, Charisma could finally gaze upon her deed and found herself pleased. Before her stood a large winged wolf at least five times her own size with paws that blazed with white-hot flames. It let out another howl before unleashing a maelstrom of energy into the skies as a symbol of its reawakening.

“Guardian Daitengu… I beseech you! Strike down Luna Matarex and let nothing stand in the path of your goal. Kill everyone in this whole damned kingdom, if you must!! Now, go!!” Charisma slowly stood, hands shaking from her machinations as the gigantic winged wolf charged towards the distant lights that peppered the Iciauran castle.

Gazing upon the blue scepter, she walked towards where it had fallen from the pedestal, cradling it in her arms. There was great power in this artifact… perhaps enough power to make use of for the future? But for now, she would disappear into the night and let the monster she had unleashed serve as a symbol of her hatred. For Charisma, revenge was all she cared for and the creature known as Daitengu would be her harbinger of destruction.

And destroy, the beast did.

Its unrelenting malice rained down upon the villages that it came across as it made a beeline for Castle Iciaura, the villages left in its wake now nothing more than burned husks. Its terrifying shrieks of rage tore through the night’s quiet and shattered glass as Daitengu burned more and more of the countryside, leaving nothing left in its departure.

“Your Highness, what should we do?” A question that rang from the voices of many as the king of Iciaura, Zacharias, rushed towards the castle keep’s entrance. Within mere moments, Daitengu would be upon them, and there was little time to prepare at such a late hour. As he ran past another patrol group of the Archer’s squadron, his mind was focused on naught but his children and wife. He needed to secure their safety first.

The sound of fire crackling against wood at the castle’s gateway told Zacharias that Daitengu had gotten here sooner than expected. The ominous howl of the wolf rattled the air, and Zacharias instinctively placed a hand on his wand. His staff of necromancy had gone missing from its usual spot, but he wasn’t certain where else it could be.

“Gwenivere! Gwenivere, my queen!!” Zacharias called out as he ran down another hallway, the sounds of battle and destruction drawing nearer with every passing moment. The sounds of crying began to become clearer as Zacharias ran to the bedroom, anxiety and fear mixing together as he thought the worst had happened. He kicked down the door with a swift kick from his armored boot, knocking the door off of its hinges as a result. Just as he’d thought, his wife was here, and was accompanied by one of his daughters, Princess Luna.

“Gwenivere, we cannot stay here. The former Guardian Daitengu has awoken and is coming this way!” Zacharias said quickly as he jogged over to the far end of the bedroom, where another door lay. Gwenivere frowned, her hand placed on her lower abdomen as she she tried to get up from the bed she and Luna were sitting on. The young princess screamed and covered her ears as an explosion of wood from down the hall reverberated through the castle.

“Yes, I had heard it’s terrible bellow as well… and I came with Luna here, but Zacharias, I… I cannot go with you. Please, take Luna from this place and go.” Gwenivere finally said as she stood, her eyes focused on the hallway briefly before she strode to her closet. In a swift motion, she opened the closet and brought forth the claymore that she stored within it, holding the blade at her side as she approached the door.

“But, Gwenivere! You’re expecting our third child -- a son! And we don’t know where Charisma is!! You can’t fight that creature!” Zacharias stammered as he finally unlocked the door’s secret passcode, glancing back at his wife as she stood before the door.

“We needn’t truly best it in battle and slay it. We can… No, you can prepare a sealing rite to detain Daitengu, until a more permanent situation can be brought forth. I... merely need to stall and give you the time you need to begin it. If we cannot stop Daitengu here, no matter where we go, it will follow and bring more devastation.” Gwenivere replied as she raised her blade, still facing the hallway. “A captain must go down with his ship… and a queen will go down fighting for her country until her last breath.”

At the far end of the hall, Gwenivere could see the outline of Daitengu begin to form from the shadows, a sign that there was no more time to argue the matter any further. She darted forth like a bullet, her blade ready to swing as she confronted Daitengu in combat. Shards of ice materialized around Gwenivere as she slashed away at the former Guardian, trying to wear down its defenses.

“...Luna, please come here,” Zacharias said, his throat dry as his heart began to pound. In order to perform this kind of ritual, a live host would be required and Zacharias knew that his body was too old to safely contain the beast. It would have to be Luna that underwent this trial. He gently placed a hand on his daughter’s face as his eyes began to water, knowing how heinous an act he was about to commit. “Luna… I always have, and I always will love you. I know the decisions I’ve made haven’t always made sense, but I always did it for the greater good and to protect you. That’s why… I’ll understand if you hate me for what I’m about to do.”

Luna stared at him in confusion, her own tears running down her face as the sound of Gwenivere’s cries of pain echoed into the bedroom. She gripped her father’s arm as he wiped away her tears, feeling as though something even worse than Daitengu’s attack was about to happen. The sound of grinding ice and clashing metal seemed to fade away as father and daughter held each other in a tight embrace.

“I love you, daddy.” Luna finally said in a soft voice as Zacharias let go of his daughter, knowing he may never be able to hold her like that again. He looked down somberly, retrieving his wand from his robes with a pained sigh. The hallway had quieted now, and Zacharias looked up to see the limp body of Gwenivere hanging from the maws of Daitengu as it lurked into the room, its flaming paws somehow not burning the floor it stood upon. Throwing away the queen’s body like a ragdoll, Daitengu locked its sights on Luna, its hooked tail swishing in the air as it prepared to pounce.

Luna screamed.

“NO!!!” Zacharias lifted his wand as Daitengu leaped into the air, an incantation of ancient power vibrating the room as Zacharias stood protectively in front of his daughter. Runes of light burst forth from the wand of the king and covered Daitengu in a sphere of light, but not before the beast’s mighty claws seared through the king’s chest, ripping gaping holes through him. As he fell to his knees, Zacharias found enough strength in him to turn his wand to Luna and, as he stared into her sparkling emerald eyes, seal Daitengu within her. The young girl shrieked as the runes of light that held Daitengu burned themselves onto her body in white flame, forcing her to drop to her knees in agony.

“Burns… IT BURNS!!!” Luna screamed as she clutched her chest in shock. Her breathing grew heavy and ragged as the runes began to fade from visibility, but the pain still gripped Luna tightly. The last thing Zacharias saw of his daughter was her sparkling emerald eyes growing dark with pain, torment, and everlasting malice. Whether it was his daughter or Daitengu he now saw standing before him was unclear. His eyes closed, knowing he had scarred his beacon of light forever. Luna cried and screamed in the bedroom with her dead parents and unborn brother until she tasted blood in her mouth, and her body collapsed to the ground, spent and shaking.

“King Zacharias!! Queen Gwenivere!! Princess!!” Numb from the pain, Luna looked up and saw the archers of the queen’s personal guard jog into the room, battered and inches from death themselves. Luna’s eyes hardened as she slowly forced herself to stand, gripping the bedpost to assist her. Perhaps it would have been better if they had died, as opposed to being the ones responsible for the death of the king and queen!! The archers, now examining the bodies of the royals, turned to Luna as they asked what had happened.

Luna roared in rage and pillars of ice erupted around her, killing several of the archers instantly by flash-freezing them. The young Princess clenched a fist in rage as she let loose telekinetic shockwaves of power that rippled through the room and burst the archers apart like a cluster of popping balloons.

“It’s been sealed inside her!”

“The demon!! It’s in the Princess!!”

“She’s not even a person anymore!!”

“Monster!!”

The Princess charged forward, rampaging through the remains of the castle in a blind and unrelenting fury. It was only the quick actions of a few remaining rune-binders that prevented Luna from destroying more of the kingdom by sealing the castle itself shut with runes. Everyone had been evacuated out of the building except for her, so she could hone her abilities and regain her sanity. She stayed there for many years.

Alone.

Until the day that he came.

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Keep It From The World

Post by Phirania on 12/24/2015, 7:40 am

[Present Day]
Falling at breakneck speeds into a planet’s orbit was fairly frightening. Falling at breakneck speeds into a planet’s orbit in a damaged space vessel whose whole crew had nearly been wiped out? Well, that’s just terrifying, to be frank.

Xanthos’ ship was being torn apart by Iciaura’s gravity.

And there was nothing he could do to stop it.

“Thrusters have burned out, engine is failing, and the controls are fried!!” Xanthos bit back a curse as he struggled with the steering rod of his spacecraft. Around him lay the fallen bodies of the crew he had been traveling with. He couldn't bother to mourn their passing at the moment -- if he didn't think of something fast, he'd be joining them in their unfortunate fate. He glanced up from the sparking controls to stare at the snow-white planet on the other side of his ship’s glass, thoughts spinning in a blind rush.

“...There is nothing I can do…” He concluded after a moment of silence, renouncing himself to his fate as he fell to his knees. The rumbling of the ship intensified upon entering Iciaura’s upper atmosphere, knocking Xanthos to the back of the cockpit like a ragdoll. Grunting upon impact, he drew ragged breaths as he closed his eyes. It had always been said that one’s life flashed before their eyes before death, yet his thoughts were only filled with how and why he’d gotten here to begin with.

It helped to take his mind off of the present, where Iciaura’s surface drew closer and closer. He closed his eyes.

Impact.

--

[Planet Anount -- 3 Weeks Prior]
“Today is the day I have been waiting for…” Xanthos muttered as he walked towards the stables with a thoughtful gaze. His gaze wasn’t fixed on anything particularly interesting -- only a cave ceiling greeted him. Even now, he could feel his heart race a bit faster from his anxiety of the next few hours. He knew that he should be proud of the endeavor he was to participate in, but… he couldn’t help but groan.

Several generations ago, his homeworld of Anount, and several other worlds, had been engaged in a brutal War of the Worlds against planet Tropic, of which Anount and the other worlds had only barely won. While a treaty had been passed as a form of solidarity between the planets, little contact between the allied planets had occurred since. Xanthos suspected some xenophobia was at play, or at least a lack of interest in interplanetary foreign affairs.

The world leaders of Anount had decided to reach out to the closest of these worlds -- Iciaura -- in hopes of establishing friendly relations. Anount could provide militaristic protection and war supplies in exchange for Iciaura’s own unique technology and raw building materials. By building bridges between the two, perhaps another war between planets could be avoided. Anount’s world leaders had nominated a group of high-ranking native Anootians to go to Iciaura -- of which Xanthos was a part of, as he was an heir to his nation’s throne and could serve as a diplomatic ambassador.

Unfortunately, the planet of Iciaura resided in another solar system entirely, and would take some time to arrive to. Anount’s own space-faring technology was lacking, but trial runs by the native Koko populus had successfully launched test vessels a little out of Anount’s own solar system that they referred to as the Kepler System. The Kokos were certain that with their newest spacecraft, travel to Iciaura wouldn’t take too terribly long -- perhaps a few weeks at most. Everyone else said that Xanthos should be honored to be part of this excursion… but they didn’t know about his other life.

By day, Xanthos presented himself as the generous heir to the Ailuro clan’s royal throne, a title passed down to him after his brother was branded a traitor and exiled not too long ago. His sister was more interested in leading the clan’s military, so he was delegated the most eligible. But Xanthos knew of the scum underbelly of his nation. He knew of the darkness that crept in the night. And when that nighttime fell, he donned his persona of Turbo, a vigilante that kept the native lands safe from those who would poison it. And if he were gone… undoubtedly, the crime rates would rise. On the other hand, things had been fairly quiet as of late… maybe everything would be alright?

“Might as well get this over with.” He muttered as he approached his personal Cragtop Strider, a golden domesticated reptilian with broad antlers an arms length wide. It glanced at Xanthos with its blue eyes as it lowered itself onto all four legs at his approach. Mounting the creature and urging it upward and onward, Xanthos carefully navigated through the steam-powered cavern system that the Ailuro Clan lived in, politely greeting any of the townsfolk that he passed by as he made his way out of the tunnel system and to the cavern entrance. Leaving now would mean that he’d have enough time to make it to the southern province of Vaantas in three days, if he was lucky.

“Xanth of the Os House!” Upon hearing his full name, the heir urged his Strider to a stop so he could formally address the individual who had called out to him. A smile spread across his face as he saw a Koko approach him on her own Cragtop Strider -- a beast bred primarily for long-term travel.

“Pennatus!” Xanthos felt a smile tug at his lips as his good, no, his best friend approached from a bit down the cobblestone road that led out of the mountainside.

“The meeting between the Koko and Ailuro is concluded, then?” Xanthos asked, referring to the weekly meetings that occurred between the Ailuro and the neighboring society of Kokos. Ensuring diplomatic relations were stable was of utmost importance.

“For the moment, yes. Speaking of which… You are heading to Iciaura soon, yes?” As Xanthos nodded in response to Pennatus’ question, she smiled and climbed onto the Cragtop Strider behind Xanthos. Wrapping her arms around Xanthos’ lower torso, she spoke again. “Good, I’m glad I caught you, then! I’m in charge of overseeing that everything goes according to plan for the mission to Iciaura.”

“CEO, Vate, diplomat, and engineer… Any other titles you want to claim for yourself?” Xanthos chuckled as he urged the Strider onwards once more. Pennatus was the CEO of the innovate company that drove most of Anount’s technological advances -- Skyline Technologies. They had been the ones to come up with the designs for the space-faring vessels Anount could call its own.

Hopefully, the mission itself would go well.

--

[Present Day]
The first thing Xanthos heard was the harsh wail of the winter winds scraping his ears. His eyes fluttered open, and all he could see was the burning wreckage of his ship all around him, and beyond that lay the snow-white expanses of land that went on for miles and miles. He tried to move his arms and pick himself up, but nothing wanted to respond -- his whole body was numb, though whether that numbness was from pain or the harsh cold was uncertain.

He tried to call out, but his voice was hoarse. Little more than a whisper came out.

There had to be something he could do, right? Every attempt to think was a struggle of fighting through the thick haze that obscured his thoughts. He blinked furiously, trying to shield his eyes from the harsh wintery winds, at least for now. His unique biology -- though not as unique among the Ailuro -- was proving difficult to actively utilize.

“Rgh!” With what little willpower he possessed, he reached out to the alien environment of Iciaura and willed it to answer his call, begging it to quell its fury, begging it to show him mercy. He wouldn’t know if this alien world would show him the kind of mercy his own homeworld would. After all, that would require some form of spirit to exist here -- benevolent ones, specifically.

After a few moments, he could feel the wind ebb away, its rage still present, but now ignoring Xanthos. The Ailuro allowed himself a moment to rest, hoping to gather enough strength to move soon. His mind began to wander back into what brought him to this place…

--

[Vaantas, Anount -- 2.5 weeks prior]
“So this is Vaantas, then?”

The trip Xanthos and Pennatus had set out on had been tiring and arduous, but the duo had finally reached their destination -- and, with some time to spare. Having been forced to cross an ocean to reach the continent where Vaantas was situated, the duo had left Xanthos’ Cragtop Strifer with a trusted friend in the meantime. Continuing on foot was much slower, for obvious reasons, but Vaantas wasn’t too terribly far from the port that they arrived in. And now… they had made it!

“Yep! So, I’ll catch up with you at the Skyline Center -- the Anootian Ambassadors are meeting up there right now, and we’ll get you prepped for the sendoff.” Xanthos nodded as Pennatus explained the plan for the day, recalling the basic space exploration training he had done in the weeks prior.

“Gotcha…” Xanthos paused for a moment as the two walked through the streets of Vaantas, taking a moment to admire the sites. In the distance, Xanthos could see a jet-black dome peeking behind several other buildings in the area -- Skyline’s Vaantas building. Waving to Pennatus, he made his way to that building, allowing himself a light jog in his walk as he did so.

Upon reaching the building, the guardsmen took a moment to confirm Xanthos’ identity before allowing the Ailuro to pass. Making his way to the uppermost floor, Xanthos took note of a duo of other individuals in the waiting room Xanthos himself had been required to wait in. Concluding that the others were most likely other Anootian Ambassadors, Xanthos took a seat. After a moment, a young woman opened the double doors on the far side of the room. She looked up from her clipboard at the trio that had assembled.

“Xanthos? Soreph? Vert? We’ll take you all to your quarters now for the diplomacy mission.”

--

[Present Day]
Hours had passed since the crash, yet Xanthos was unsure how he had managed to keep track of the time that had passed. Finally reaching the limit of his endurance after so long, his vision had begun to waver, before he finally lost consciousness. Before his vision turned black... he thought he could see a figure in the distance...

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Mirror, Tell Me Something

Post by Phirania on 12/24/2015, 7:42 am

With the stranger she’d found still unconscious on the bed she’d prepared, Luna sighed as she prepared to change the bloody bandages for a third time.

“This is the third time already…” She muttered to herself as she lightly dabbed one of the more prominent wounds with alcohol before placing gauze on top of it. Placing pressure on that spot of Xanthos’ torso, she wrapped long bandages around the covered wound before taking a step back. The door to the medic room creaked open, and Luna glanced over her shoulder to see a white wolf with crystalline clusters atop its back make its way inside and sit down before the princess.

“Looking over this individual's biological scans, I’m quite certain it is not native to Iciaura, nor any part of our solar system. Upon expanding the radius of my biology scans, I believe this individual hails from the Kepler system, most likely Anount. His brainwaves showed patterns somewhat similar to those of you and your late father, so I conclude that this creature may possess psychic powers, like yourself. But there were… irregularities I haven’t been able to compare with in the database...” The wolf’s mouth never opened, but its message rang clearly in Luna’s mind as it projected its thoughts towards her.

“I see…” Luna sighed again, returning her gaze to the unconscious stranger as she folded her arms. It hadn’t been easy to stabilize this person, whoever he was. At least… Luna assumed it was male. It wasn’t exactly easy to tell with alien biology.

She was brought out of her thoughts by a gasp of air by their unconscious guest, whose eyes fluttered open as he tried to get up. Luna quickly placed a hand on his chest, urging him to lie back down, but was too late to stop their new arrival from wincing in pain as he grabbed his bandaged chest.

“Please remain calm. Your body took too much damage for you to make sudden movements.” Luna finally said as she got him to stop struggling. “Do you remember your name? Or where you’re from?”

“I am… I am… “ His voice trailed away as he took in his surroundings, noting the exits and cold temperature as he did so. He looked back at Luna, before placing a hand on his wrist. Thankfully, his planetary translator was still working. At least the Koko of his world had made something right. But as for the present… he stared at Luna for a moment, sensing that she was hiding something. “...I am Xanthos Ailuro of Arcasia. But who are you? And where exactly am I?”

“My name is Luna Matarex the Hedgehog. But, please call me Luna.” She said with a slight smile as she watched Xanthos take in his surroundings. A sudden coughing fit overtook him, and Luna motioned to the crystalline wolf hurriedly. “Xanthos, I need you to stay calm for now while I get Koori to fetch more medical supplies, alright?”

“Do not bother, I can take care of my injuries…” He muttered softly as he slowly lay back down, his eyes closed in a meditative trance. The pause between the three creatures grew into an awkward silence as Luna wondered if she should leave Xanthos to his meditation. She slowly stood to go when he spoke again.

“You never answered my other question. I assume this place is Iciaura, but… where, exactly?” He spoke without opening an eye, his hands resting on his chest.

“It’s… my kingdom. Well, what’s left of it, anyway.” Luna answered as her hands drifted to her heterochromatic eyes.

“What do you mean?”

“When she was 6, a powerful beast attacked this place. It wiped out all but a few hundred of her people and most creatures native to this land lost their homes forever. On another note, I am an artificial intelligence that Luna has created over the years to act as a highly mobile digital database.” Koori, the wolf, spoke up, projecting its thoughts telepathically to Xanthos, who seemed largely unfazed as he continued his meditation. Luna was a bit surprised. Most people hated telepathic conversations, from what she remembered.

“What happened after that?” Xanthos prodded a bit further, and Luna scratched the back of her neck as she grew uncomfortable.

“The fiery wolf demon was sealed away, and forced into an unyielding slumber before it could cause any more damage.” Koori began to lick its paw.

“Out of curiosity… where is such a powerful beast being held?” Xanthos asked as he opened his eyes and sat up. He examined his wounds, feeling that his brief meditation had helped treat his injuries. Koori fell silent and Xanthos glanced over at the artificial lifeform as it lowered its head. Luna cleared her throat.

“That information is none of your business. When you are well enough to move, I forbid you from prying any further into information concerning Dai-... that event. And Koori, I will not allow you to give him any more information. He needn’t stick his nose where it doesn’t belong.” With that, Luna stormed out of the room, leaving the other two to glance at each other.

“How… how exactly can you stand living with her?” Xanthos asked the A.I. with a raised eyebrow.

“Honestly, it ain’t easy.” Koori replied before it also walked out of the room to leave Xanthos with his thoughts. It was apparent that this event was a sore subject for Luna, seeing as how much her emotions had spiked as the conversation had come to its conclusion. His empathic power had detected even the most minimal shifts in her emotional state, but there was something off about her… like other emotions not natural to Luna were also present, just under the surface. He furrowed his brows, a bit frustrated before he lay back down to return to his meditation.

His next few days in the ruined Iciaura castle were uneasy as a result of that first conversation. Whatever chance Xanthos had to explore the crumbling structure, he did so in earnest to gain either more information about what had happened here or ways to fix his ship to get back to Anount when possible. He honestly wasn’t sure if he should continue the diplomatic mission or not while he was stuck here, but trying to keep on Luna’s good side seemed like a good plan.

It was the dawn of the fifth day that Xanthos was stuck on Iciaura that he found himself training his mind and body in the castle’s courtyard. The gravity here was different enough to throw Xanthos off physically, so re-training himself to compensate was a way to get his mind off of his predicament. The Nature Spirits he was so accustomed to on Anount were no longer here to help him. Or rather, any that existed here on Iciaura had found it in their favor not to show themselves before him when he called for their aid. And here, in the courtyard, Xanthos could feel something else under the earth. It felt… comforting almost, though he couldn’t tell why. Any forms of transportation Castle Iciaura might have had no longer were usable. It might be possible that Xanthos could venture out to another Iciauran town to see if they had something he could use.

“So I need to find a spaceship… or at least, spare parts,” Xanthos said aloud as he paused during a stretch to think. He’d have to ask Luna or Koori if they knew of anything that could help. It was more likely that Koori would know how to help him than Luna.

“Don’t bother,” a soft voice murmurs, surprising Xanthos from his thoughts. He relaxed briefly to look over and see Luna standing there, somehow able to evade his ability to sense the presence of others. He narrowed his eyes slightly as she slowly treaded past her and brushed past his shoulder. Xanthos followed her through the corner of his eyes, noticing her stop for a moment to glance at him. The air held a paralyzing tension as time slowly ticked past. After several moments, Xanthos grunted and slowly walked away.

“What a lovely little resort this is,” Xanthos muttered to himself sarcastically as he made his way to a different part of the castle. Something about Luna unsettled him deeply, and being around her tied his stomach into knots. He wasn’t sure how, but she just wasn’t right.

He found himself in the dining hall, a large expansive room with only one spot on a long table with a plate on it. Xanthos stared for a moment, wondering just how life must have been like in this castle for Luna.

“You’re from Anount, aren’t you.” Xanthos turned around to see Koori approaching from behind him, its blank eyes bored holes into him. “The fifth planet in the Kepler System?”

“Y-yes, but how did you know that?” Xanthos slowly replied, not recalling getting into such detail with the artificial intelligence.

“Your transport broadcasted a distress signal to that System a little while ago. I suspect you can rest easy knowing that help from your planet may be arriving shortly?”

“Not for another few weeks, probably…” Xanthos replied as he took a seat. “They had sent me and a few others here to try to establish diplomatic relations with Iciaura, but we had no idea everything had been nearly wiped out…”

“...I recovered no other living bodies from your crash site. You have my condolences for any losses that you may have suffered due to your accident. I can do my best to accommodate you while you wait for a new vessel to arrive from Anount.” Koori said before it left abruptly. Xanthos watched the wolf leave, feeling as though Koori had spoken as though reading from a script. He rubbed his eyes a bit before getting up again to walk through more of the castle.

Elsewhere, Luna let out her deep breath, lowering her royal princess facade for a moment now that she was alone. As she walked down one of the deserted hallways of what was left of her home, she stopped in the swords room for a moment. She sat down in the middle of the room, and stared at the only sword that she truly cared about -- her mother’s sword. The claymore of Queen Gwenivere. She looked up at the torn roof of the room to stare at the sky and let loose a deep sigh.

“What am I supposed to do?” Luna muttered to herself.

Her heterochromatic eyes fell back on her mother’s claymore that hung on the wall. She stood up, took the blade, and headed out to the courtyard where Xanthos had just left.

The dead trees and shrubs made perfect targets for what she was about to do. With a few near perfect strokes, she managed to craft a full-sized replica of the felinoid. With one graceful movement from her blade, the head of the replica was neatly severed from the body. Luna wasn’t quite sure why, but she felt a little better after doing that. She couldn’t say that she had much against Xanthos, but she just didn’t trust him. The last thing she needed was for him to find out where Daitengu was sealed. Her hand clutched her chest and lowered her eyes as the memories of ten years ago came back to her.

“...Anger management? Or perhaps you do not like me very much.” Luna turned back to face the cat before regaining her steely gaze and turning back to the plant replica of Xanthos.

“Well… aren’t you just a joke master,” Luna retorted, slicing the limbs off of her plant target with quick slashes.

“...Although I may not be keen on you using plant replicas of me for target practice, it may have been more beneficial to cut the limbs off first to immobilize your target in true combat. Though I suppose that would depend on whether you intend to fight to kill or not.” Xanthos said after a moment, making chopping motions with his hands. The blade that she used was truly magnificent. It would be a shame if such a blade was used inadequately… A mere glance could tell Xanthos that this blade had been through many battles, and the echoes of its past still lingered on it.

“Don’t you go telling me how to fight.” Luna snapped back, swinging the sword in rage. The blade slashed cleanly through the base of the replica before getting stuck in the far wall. The princess gripped the bridge of her nose for a moment, feeling the rage and malice of Daitengu bubbling within her and threatening to take over completely. Taking deep breaths to steady himself, she moved to retrieve it but Xanthos had beat her to it.

“Such a beautiful blade…” He murmured as he examined the blade in his hands. Now that he held it in his hands, he could feel and see the echoes of the past that this blade had endured. All he could see in its memories were fire and smoke all around, feel blood and salty tears mixing together through sweaty palms, and hear a wolf’s howl rumble over the screams of a young girl. And here, in the courtyard, was where th-

“Give. It. Back. NOW!” Xanthos is pulled from the trance of the blade’s memories as Luna growled at him, knocking him away from her precious blade. She held it carefully, closely inspecting for any damages that Xanthos may have caused to the claymore. She glared at him as he took a cautious step back before running away from Luna’s shrieks of anger, quickly finding himself in the graveyard -- somewhere he hadn’t searched over yet.

The wind howled as he slowed his pace to a walk, feeling a cold aura in the air. There was something off here… and any Nature Spirits that lived here seemed more hostile than the other Iciauran Spirits he’d thought he’d encountered. And even so… something about this graveyard gave off an overwhelming sense of discomfort to Xanthos. It surely wasn’t Luna, as she was still in the courtyard. Gathering his wits, he traversed the land of the dead, his curiosity leading the way.

Back at the courtyard, Luna gave another cry of rage as she cradled the claymore and fell to her knees. This blade was a little over 500 years old, but its true meaning to Luna was in that it was her last reminder of her mother, Gwenivere. She squeezed her eyes shut as she felt tears and painful memories once again on the verge of overwhelming her mind. The haunting call of Daitengu’s malice began to pound on her thoughts and she felt her heart pump faster.

“Calm down, calm down…” Luna muttered to herself as she took deeper breaths to steady herself as she slowly stood. As she opened her eyes once more, a sudden shiver crawled down her spine. The runes that she had placed toward the graveyard from grave robbers of the royal family had gone off, a sign that there was an unwanted presence there. Luna’s hands briefly burst into white flame as she realized that the graveyard was exactly the direction Xanthos had ran off to., and Luna followed the trail. Snow fell gently and no wind blew as Luna found herself walking into the graveyard. She shivered as she recalled what else was here that she held dear -- the graves of her parents and unborn brother.

“I may as well pay them a visit…” Luna murmured as she formed a bouquet of ice roses with her ice powers into her free hand and she sheathed her mother’s claymore into her scabbard. As she walked among the graves, she could sense Xanthos’ psionic scent become clearer. She soon found him treading in the direction of where her deceased family lay. Apparently, he had heard her approach, as he turned to face her with a look of confusion as he saw the roses.

“...What are those for?” Xanthos questioned.

Luna ignored him, still annoyed by his earlier actions, and continued to walk in silence with Xanthos following behind at a bit of a distance. The only motion was the two of them walking, the snow falling, and the occasional movement of Xanthos brushing off snow that collected on his shoulders. Luna tried to dismiss his presence, but for some reason she just couldn’t. There was just something about his company…

It wasn’t long before they came to two large headstones, the largest pair in the graveyard. One for her mother, and one for her father. Xanthos watched curiously as Luna placed ten ice roses on each grave.

“One for each year they’ve been gone…” The princess whispered sadly.

“Ten years, then?” Xanthos softly spoke up.

“Indeed. They died when I was just 6. The only family I have left is a half-sister named Charisma, but… she hates my guts. I think she’s actually the one that set Daitengu free. In any case, it’s been pretty lonely here since the beast attacked the castle. The only survivors of that day are currently still living underground, fearing for their lives everyday. Besides me, there were only a few dozen other survivors but they have at least each other. I… I merely have Koori and she is just an A.I. that I created so I don’t go crazy by myself…”

Xanthos was quiet after Luna spoke, moreso to herself than to him. Perhaps he was shocked that she had willingly given up so much information about the event of ten years ago. She had been so adamant about keeping it quiet before for how personal the event was. Luna turned to see Xanthos standing over her shoulder, a solemn look on his face.

“That blade,” Xanthos began. “Was it-”

“The claymore was passed down from generation to generation on my father’s side. This tradition started about 500 years ago when this blade was forged… My father gave this blade to my mother as a gift of betrothal, but it usually goes to the firstborn. In the past, every firstborn was a boy, so they would therefore get the claymore. I… was the first girl to be a firstborn. My father… told me that it would go to my little brother once he was born and matured. Three days after he told me that, the beast attacked. My little brother was never born, so I had to claim the sword by default.” Luna explained with a soft voice.

“Your little brother was…”

“Yes. He was killed by the demon when my mother was pregnant with him. She’d fought off the beast so that I could live…” Luna stood up, forcing herself not to cry. Her fists encased themselves in ice as she punched a half-destroyed wall, crumbling it to dust. Not wanting to fight it anymore, Luna collapsed to the ground and cried, no longer able to calm herself down. She didn’t care if Xanthos watched or not.

Xanthos stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do. This coincided with the memory echoes that the claymore had shown him in the courtyard. Speaking of which… Xanthos rubbed the back of his head.

“Luna, can you… can you let me borrow your blade for a moment?” Xanthos asked shakily. She naturally whipped around and snarled at him, clutching the blade close to her body.

“Why do you need it now? To stab my parents’ graves?!” Luna retorted, tears streaking down her face. Xanthos closed his eyes for a moment before staring into her heterochromatic eyes.

“When I held your claymore before, I’d seen echoes of memories from your claymore. It’s something that my… biology lets me do -- back in the courtyard, I think there’s something there of interest. I just need the claymore again to be sure of what I saw.” Luna stared at Xanthos blankly as he spoke. She was questioning his intentions, but they seemed sincere enough.

“Fine,” she said after several moments. Her voice was cold. “But you try to pull anything, I’ll rip your spine from your body.”

Xanthos winced and trudged back to the courtyard as Luna glared daggers at his back. With a heavy snort, she followed. The journey to the courtyard was awkward and long, and Xanthos could only wonder if time could move any slower. It wasn’t long before they found themselves in the courtyard, where they had been several minutes before. Xanthos outstretched his hands for the claymore, and Luna hesitated with shaking hands. Xanthos lowered his own hand, realizing that his request was too sudden. Luna couldn’t let go of the blade, that was so dear to her heart. Xanthos gently grasped her hand that was on the hilt of the claymore and stared into her eyes.

“It’s just… I…” Luna tried to find the words to explain how she felt, but Xanthos simply shook his head with a faint smile. There was no need to put it into words if she couldn’t find them. The echoes of the past began to swell within Xanthos as he held the claymore’s hilt with closed eyes, once again immersing himself in the claymore’s past. Memories began to form in and crystallize before him, and he projected those memories to Luna, knowing she was curious of his potential discovery.

In the courtyard, Zacharias and Gwenivere stood together, clasping hands gently in the brisk winter air as they looked on at a glorious tree that stood there, it’s snow-covered branches covering most of the courtyard in shade. For a moment, Gwenivere’s eyes drifted to the piece of parchment that Zacharias held in his hands before she glanced up at him.

“Do you still have doubts, my love? You and I both know there is no heir more worthy to succeed you.” She spoke softly as she shifted her gaze to a small chest the two had placed at the tree’s base, next to a hole they dug.

“Yes, but… it was all meant to go to the first son. And we even now have a son on the way, so I find myself uncomfortable with breaking away from tradition…” Zacharias replied, releasing his queen’s hands to roll up the parchment into a tube. A ribbon from his robes was quickly tied around the parchment into a bow to secure it.

“But you’ve heard the doctors --the finest in all of Iciaura -- and they all say that he will be born sickly and ill. We cannot further burden him with the weight of the crown if he can hardly get out of his own bed. That is why… we have chosen to grow and change from our old traditions. Luna will be successor, for she has already proven herself more than worthy of the title of Queen. And with the current state of Iciaura and our relations with the colonies on Kokugen, not to mention lingering animosity with Hanwind…” Gwenivere pauses for a moment. “If she were less aggressive and more empathetic, I would have considered Charisma, but she’s so stubborn and devious -- I cannot leave this earth in good conscience if Charisma is in charge.”

“You are right about that… but I cannot stand the idea that Charisma has of us favoring Luna over her. And for us to be so blind that we didn’t see her suffering as such.” Zacharias responds swiftly as he steps forward to place the parchment into the chest and subsequently places the chest into the hole. “Those two are two halves of a whole, and we needn’t foster animosity between them!”

“It pains my heart as well to see sisters at odds…” Gwenivere murmurs softly as she places a hand on the hilt of her claymore’s scabbard. “In any case, we should return to the main hall, before anyone questions where we have absconded to.”

“Of course, my love.” Zacharias nods as he covers the chest up in the tree’s hole, leaving it for the future Queen to find…


“...I was to succeed, then...?” Luna murmurs as the vision of memories faded, stepping away from Xanthos as she tried to regain her bearings. As her eyes began to water, she looked over to where the memory of her parents stood in the courtyard. The tree that they buried the chest in had fallen over several years ago, but the stump had still remained.

“It did not seem like the matter of succession was in question,” Xanthos replied as he also found his eyes drifting to the stump. “...Should we dig it up?”

“I want to, but…” She walked towards the stump, placing a hand on it gently. “...After all these years without them… I’m not sure that I’m ready for this.”

“Luna… Your people need you,” Xanthos said as he knelt to the stumps bottom. “They can not live in fear of you, and your parents knew that only you could bring about the change necessary to help your kingdom. They knew you were ready for years.”

“I…” Luna was at a loss for words as Xanthos began to dig away at the stumps roots, her mind still trying to wrap her mind around this information. It had seemed quite obvious that she would ascend to Queenship because no other heirs were present in the castle, but Luna hadn’t known that her parents had planned for her to ascend even before the attack by Daitengu had occurred. She hadn’t even known about her unborn brother’s condition!

“Here we go!” Xanthos’ voice pulled Luna out of her musings and she looked over to see him heft the treasure chest out of the hole, exhaling a bit from the exertion of his muscles. He faintly smiled at her. “So… are you going to open it or…?”

Luna was quiet as she slowly knelt in front of the chest, hand placed gently on the lock that held it firmly together. For 10 years, she’d lived in isolation from others as she tried to get a grasp on the monstrous power that had been sealed inside her. To say she was nervous about this moment, where she would have to take on the hopes and dreams that her parents had left her, was an understatement. Firming her resolve, she snaps her fingers and the lock froze over in ice instantly, shattering into fragments when Luna then crushed it in her hands.

As she lifted the chest and opened the rolled-up parchment that her father had left for her, her heart began to pound faster. Reading over the message and seeing that familiar handwriting again after so long… Luna couldn’t help but smile.

After she finished reading the note, she placed the parchment into her pocket, facing Xanthos again with a smile. “Perhaps you’re right. I’ve stayed in this castle for far too long, and I have a duty to fulfill as Queen.”

“Then I wish you the best of luck, your Highness.” Xanthos said as he bowed in front of her. “I hope I can help you out while I’m still on Iciaura.”

It was a week and a half before Anount’s space fleet finally arrived on Iciaura to retrieve Xanthos, and it was clear that Anount and Iciaura would be able to retain their positive ties through the still young friendship between Xanthos and Luna. And so, we can bring this chapter of heroes to a close.

...Or can we?

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The Loneliest of All

Post by Phirania on 12/24/2015, 7:43 am

A figure wearing a purple hooded cloak watched from a snow-covered mountaintop as the Anootian space crafts ascended into the skies and left Iciaura’s atmosphere, the roars of the engines echoing for miles in the bare lands beneath them. A grunt of disapproval escaped the figures lips as they turned away, annoyance evident in their body language.

“What a mistake you’ve made, Luna…” the figure tossed back their hood to reveal jet-black quills dabbed in hot-pink accents. Charisma the Necromantress turned to her gaze above to Iciaura’s moon, Kokugen, her eyes hardening as she lifted held a hand up towards it. “You aren’t the only one with friends, I can assure you that!”

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Re: RE: Black Ice Friendship

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