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(Created page with "{{ArcNav|Arc=Dissonance Theory}} '''Summary:''' Krice bears ill tidings. Lionel elects to act. Quintessa will not find an easy return path to the Druid's Eternal Tree. ==The...")
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Revision as of 00:42, 1 July 2020

Part of the Dissonance Theory Arc


Summary: Krice bears ill tidings. Lionel elects to act. Quintessa will not find an easy return path to the Druid's Eternal Tree.

The Pass through Xalious

Lionel || For summer, it had been oddly cool. This evening, Lionel thought, might have even been cold. A light rain drizzled down from stark grey clouds cast low; sunset came and went without notice. The mountain pass was dangerous this time of year. Tropical storms were commonplace off the coast, and though Xalious was safely inland the scattered remnants of those storms could at times wreak havoc upon the trees and trail. Fallen oaks littered the path and wet, slippery gravel gave way to an almost swampy mud. Lionel had doffed his leather tunic and donned his black cloak in exchange. He had elected to rent a stalwart mare and allowed the wyvern from The Eyrie to ride straight home -- with weather like this, flight all the way back to Vigilanti Semper seemed too great a risk for the young beast. He wondered whether he'd spot Krice, and that thought gave way to another. He wished he could still zip across the field like lightning. Thunder roared in the distance, snapping Lionel back into reality.


Krice liked lightning. His gaze was drawn upward as it broke the distant sky, scanning the clouds as the subsequent thunder rumbled through them. It didn't take him long to sense Lionel several metres ahead, a familiar signature in a sea of acquaintances - Kelay's inhabitants - who all began retreating to their homes and businesses for the coming storm. This left the two warriors with a clear line of sight to each other. Lifting his chin as a kilometre lessened to metres, the silver-haired enigma called to his ally with a simple, " Hey." His features were typically neutral with one specific change: the crimson-gold of his eyes harboured firm apprehension.


Lionel should have expected to have been spotted first. He chuckled to himself as he aided in closing the gap between the two men. Something about Krice fast approaching him while braids of lightning periodically flashed across the sky just felt apt somehow to Lionel. It was a striking blend between tumult and temerity. "Hey back," the Catalian said with a simple smile. The smile cracked and faded somewhat once he noticed his friend's distinctive brand of facial concern. "Are you worried about the gig with the Requiem? Have no fear, Syrri will be here." He hoped his words might prompt Krice to laughter, but he knew Krice well enough by now to understand that there were few things which stirred the man anew when he was preoccupied by darker thoughts.


Krice shook his head just once as he neared Lionel, adding words to his response. " Not worried," he clarified, halting once he was just outside the other male's reach. His eyes drifted briefly to the long face of the mare at his ally's side and something in his eyes softened, an appreciation for the animal, before that hardness returned in accordance with the shadows of his thoughts. "Quintessa tried to attack the Druid Eternal Tree. She killed the Elves who were guarding it."


Lionel would have liked to have lingered on that salient moment in which the men shared a simple love for the noble creatures of the world. It would have been so much easier than this. His expressive blue eyes turned downcast and he stared at the sinking gravel beneath his feet with such intensity that he almost started to believe it was his gaze that was boring a hole through the earth. Taking a step to avoid an embarrassing collapse, and soothing his mare in the meanwhile, Lionel sighed. "Two thoughts," he said after a moment which had been punctuated appropriately by the cracking thunder and lightning peals. "One, I'm glad she didn't come with us today. Two, what the hell?"


Krice stood steady in the soft muck that flanked his boots, his gaze never wavering from Lionel's face even as the other male looked down. He kept a peripheral interest in the horse but otherwise, the topic of their conversation took precedence for very obvious reasons; an ally was trying to destroy things. Krice had never trusted Quintessa and had warned Lionel so many months earlier. " When I stopped her, she attacked me, and pledged to return. The tree is under heavier guard now but I don't doubt for one second that she won't try stronger magicks to achieve her goal."


Lionel was caught off-guard, but to what he knew was minimal credit, he was at least catching up quickly. He sucked in a deep breath of the cool wet air and focused himself. "I'll admit, I'd never spoken directly with the elves who guarded the Eternal Tree. There are two sides to every story, and I'd like to believe things aren't quite as they seem. But Quintessa is self-righteous to the point of crusade; if she felt like she had a proper enough reason for the murders that she committed to convince you to stand down, I reckon she'd have said so. No, this is something else." The rain fell a little bit harder now. "I won't let another elf fall to her whims. If she says she'll return, she will return." Without warning, Lionel hopped into his horse's saddle. "And I'll be waiting."


Krice's left eye narrowed in slight disbelief that Lionel appeared to be offering Quintessa the benefit of the doubt. His expression became guarded and he silenced himself thereafter, perhaps a little reassured by the other male's concluding words. He spared another glance at the horse's face as Lionel mounted the saddle. " This is what I witnessed and directly experienced," he clarified, leaving Lionel to doubt him or otherwise. " I spend most of my time watching the tree, but I can't for the next couple days, so..." If his ally wanted to, he could take up the absence left in the warrior's wake. The more people to guard the tree, the better. And maybe Quintessa would be dissuaded with her leader--though Krice doubted that she saw Lionel that way, anymore--in the way.


Lionel seemed to have set an icier tone than intended. "To be clear," he added from above, "I believe you. I wish I could believe that she did this for some unseen reason at least a smidge more benevolent than the pursuit of personal power, but in light of the severity of the crime I'm pretty much all out of fraks." It was that lack of 'fraks' which would almost certainly lead to a confrontation between the Imperator and guild lieutenant. "I'll send word to the Requiem that I'll be a bit late getting back. But before I go, is there anything you can tell me about the fallen elves? Did they ever act remotely suspiciously prior to their demise?"


Krice shook his head and was quick to clarify, " I don't know why she was doing it, but she seemed to think that she -had- to." Thereafter, the warrior answered his friend's questions about the fallen Elf guardsmen. " I wasn't there for the whole encounter, just in time to see them fall - but what they did is regardless. Once they were felled, Quintessa summoned mummies?" His face scrunched in bewilderment. " And she tried to spill some black goop onto the tree roots. She was wearing a disguise at first, but as we fought, it fell apart - so naturally, given that she'd knowingly attacked an ally"--the warrior himself--"I expected her to explain what the hell she was doing. She wants to do... -something- to the tree to help the 'insectoid between worlds', in exchange for -it- helping -her- defeate Gevurah in the Red Skull Arena." He lifted his shoulders in an incredulous shrug. It was a wild story.


Lionel also found it wild, but wild stories had started to lose their effect on him years ago. "Trivial rivalries not worth the blood on the arena's walls in the first place, compelling the girl toward unnecessary killings in search of something inherently selfish." He wasn't entirely certain that his musings nailed the situation to a tee, but it was enough to go on, and none of it was savory. Quintessa had potential for good, but that good was falling by the wayside now. She had proven invaluable in defending Vigilanti Semper, but one good deed could not replace a bad one. There was always yin in the yang. "Alright," Lionel said at last. "I'll take care of this." He set his mare to a trot before turning around and facing Krice one last time, appreciably. "Thank you."


Krice watched Lionel with characteristic attentiveness, listened to his one-sentence recap of the story told, and ultimately nodded in agreement. He acknowledged his ally's gratitude with a simple, " Take care with her." She had been thoroughly defeated the first time, and if her pledge was to return, she wouldn't return with the same limitations as before. As Lionel turned his horse, the warrior also pivoted to continue back into Kelay.