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/qst/ - Quests

There he was, Thaelasan Yazareen, high-battlemage of the Imperial Army, one of the greatest in service of King Thaniel. He currently found himself laying on his back on the ground after a large, magically induced explosion, which he admittedly caused. How could he have known that Stellar Dust was so different from Cosmic Powder? Really, he had to admit, he had no idea there was a difference.
Now, he had been attempting an experiment he'd been planning for four years now after all, or more. He was a bit miffed it had failed so utterly but again he couldn't really be blamed for such small things, could he? Well, maybe he could. However, his problems didn't end there.
The voices in his head - which he was absolutely certain did not belong to him - were arguing quite strongly about something he could only equate to the power of their own egos. With this magical equivalent of a hangover fresh in his mind, he really wished they would be silent.
However, one thing was good about today - the girl laying across from him, breathing silently, had been successfully torn into the world due to his wonderful - if faulty - experimentation. A Fairy Queen, in the flesh, beautiful and pristine, and his beloved. Maybe things weren't so bad.
As he laid there, trying to decide how best to solve his current predicament, he noted several things:
A. There was a hole in his roof that really didn't help add to atmosphere.. well... technically. It did let more air in.
B. The girl across from him didn't seem really healthy at the moment, as her breathing was ragged, and she was barely clothed. He noted that he, himself, was missing a good amount of his robes due to the force of the explosion. But, as the expert he was, he had worn his flame retardant clothing underneath, and it was spotless save a few flecks of dust and debris.
C. The voices in his head were still not silent, and seemed to be getting even louder as he laid there.
D. The true predicament - the giant, gaping portal to the Lands of that Which Should Not Be. It was colorful but he was pretty sure it was not good to let sit in one's living room. The guests would ask questions.

>What shall he do?
.....should probably close the door to not!hell before anything else. Get up and close it.
>D. The true predicament - the giant, gaping portal to the Lands of that Which Should Not Be. It was colorful but he was pretty sure it was not good to let sit in one's living room. The guests would ask questions.
This seems like a slightly more pressing problem. Try and close it, I guess?
Thaelasan stood shakily to his feet, wiping his pants free of whatever dirt he could easily remove. However, that small stain there on his leg was from wine from many years ago. No amount of washing had made that come free. How sad.

He stared at the portal and had the familiar tug of powerful desire, to seek the strength the portal offered, to grasp within it the glory it could give to him... and he sighed. It was always a lie. A very well constructed lie, but a lie nonetheless. What was power, if it was given to serve?

He waved his hands slightly weakly, and lightning crackled from within the gate. A spark of power shot off into the wall and ignited it but he had to ignore that for now. It was like closing a giant, glass door, delicately, and carefully. Slowly, the walls of the portal began to move like clothing and fabric, stitching themselves together until the opening was no more. A small fizzle of arcane energy was all that remained, and the smell of squids.

He never understood why.

As he stood there, he pointed a finger at the flame climbing up the wall, and it died with a smoky gasp. Thankfully, no smell of underwater creatures accompanied THAT little number. He cracked his shoulders and rubbed his arms, getting a bit more comfortable. His headache was slightly less a nail into his skull now, and more of a small man hitting it lightly with a hammer. It was better.

He heard a small gasp from nearby. The Fairy Queen was stirring from where she lay. Yet another voice echoed in his mind.
"Mortal, your work was quite pristine. Truly, you have the potential for GREAT feats of honor and glory!"
"No, he has far more potential for works of disaster and chaos. Don't listen to him."
Thaelasan didn't really want to listen to either of them, to be frank. For now, he was focused on the Fairy Queen.

>Assist the Fairy Queen from the ground and help her to her feet.
>Let her sleep. Perhaps she'll be better with rest. He could lay a cloak on her after all.
>Find out more about the voices in your head first. They seem to really like you!
>Assist the Fairy Queen from the ground and help her to her feet.
>Assist the Fairy Queen from the ground and help her to her feet.
Well, it simply wouldn't do to leave his loved one on the ground, would it? Her breathing was slightly labored, and her glorious, tailor-made clothing was in tatters. Paying not much attention to this, he leaned down to her level and placed his hands under her frail form, his calloused fingers, even with the gloves upon them, feeling how delicate she was... and something was dreadfully wrong.

Normally, upon grasping one of the fae, a person's very emotions would be changed, manipulated, and possibly even controlled depending on the strength of the being. But a Fairy Queen, at the height of her power, would at least give the recipient the feelings of childish joy, desire to be free, and a slight longing for outside air. He felt none of these. In fact, he felt a slight shared feeling of loss.

But he didn't let that bother him... not for now. As he lifted her, her eyes flickered open, and she gazed at him, concerned.

"The experiment..." he began. But he had no idea how to continue the phrase as the almond, green eyes of one so mighty gazed into his own. But something still seemed wrong. He had worked so long, so tirelessly, to bring her into this realm of existence. So why did it feel like he had failed? However, while he held her, he realized...
The voices... they were quiet.

"Thael?" she muttered, almost in disbelief. "Is this your world?... Am I truly.... Did you truly..."
Tears filled her eyes, and she wrapped her arms around him. He was silent for a long while as he pondered all of this. This should be his happiest moment. His Queen, a powerful being in her own right, was in his arms, real, tangible, and ALIVE. But still, something seemed so wrong. So terribly wrong.
It hit him, all at once, and he pulled her back slightly.

"...Flora, dear... Where are your wings?" he said, concerned.
She seemed to try and call to them, but to no avail. But it did not seem to phase her.
"It will be fine. You seem troubled. Is everything all right?" she asked, placing a hand on his face. "You do not seem.. happy with me. Did I make you upset?"

"No. Not at all!" he quickly amended, trying to put aside his worry. "Never. Not in the slightest. Er... Actually.... For now, let us worry about your current apparel. We simply must get you better clothing, my dear. If I am to introduce you to the guild as testament to my success, and as proof of your existence, then you must appear regal!"
"Will that make you happy?" she asked, cocking her head slightly.

"Very! Verily! As if I am not already! Yes, quite! That is our next venture! Come! I have already prepared numerous choices within my bedchamber upstairs! Of course, I had no other wardrobes. Oh, and mind the hole in the ceiling. It's quite drafty, isn't it? Doesn't look at all appealing. I can probably fix that with a simple spell.. and..."
As his voice trailed off, he noticed she wasn't looking at him, but at the air behind him.

"...Are you sure, you're ok, Thael?" she asked, almost knowingly.
------ 1/2
The ideas spun in his head, and he began to realize that perhaps he WASN'T alright.. but was it really good to worry her? And would she believe him? Did he believe himself? The voices? The portals? His success? None of this seemed real....

>Absolutely fine, dear. Nothing to tell you. There are no voices.
>Well... I'm hearing things....
>Tell her it's something else. Definitely not voices in your head.
>Tell her it's something else. Definitely not voices in your head.
"Ah... yes I suppose something is wrong." Thaelasan began. "The hole in the ceiling troubles me, as well as er... I need to hurry and get to the guild meeting, of course, my Queen."

There was no need to trouble her about something as trifle as otherworldly voices. They were completely normal following otherworldly treks. There were always the Old Lost Ones, of course, who loved to toy with the existent beings of the human/inhuman planes. And the other types of Fae, who mischievously gathered at certain times to try and tempt the unknowing into traps and other tricks. After all, one of his first journeys had almost resulted in his corruption at the hands of Van'Sogoth, the One Beyond the Gate, if it hadn't been for the very woman laying in his arms - who was also pondering his response.

Yet again, she seemed to be staring not AT him, but behind him. There was a long, long, long... almost eternal pause before she finally spoke again.
"...Yes, that must be it. I sensed discomfort and anxiety. I can feel it, you know. I can't help it. I'm sorry." she whispered, rubbing her head in his chest happily. "I worry about you, Thael. You are always pushing yourself and trying to go beyond what others do."

He had lied to her, only slightly, but it still hurt gravely. Deep within, his stomach twisted a bit at the thought. Of course she would believe him. Why wouldn't she? She didn't understand the purpose of a lie. The Fae didn't lie to each other. They couldn't really do it either. They spoke with their emotions, their very souls...

"Ah.. well if that's settled, for now then..." he said, reluctant to part from her, "Er.. shall we see you dressed a bit more suitably, and then..."

He heard a small growl. First from himself, and then from her stomach. She looked down, then looked at him, confused.

"I feel a strange yearning." she stated flatly. He nodded, understanding. The Fae did not have to eat. They existed within a plane beyond the notion of food and breathing, of sleep and hunger. An endless garden, of happiness, of sunlight, of kingdoms and magic.

>Time doesn't matter to a planeswalker. Help her find some good clothing and cook her a great meal. You have time to share it before you go.
>Give her standard clothing and cook a quick snack. Even with time at your disposal, this isn't time for a fancy dinner.
>Try to fix up her current clothing and cook her a dish she might recognize. Your magic can work wonders, after all.. And wouldn't the guild like to see her full glory?

(May be last post of the night. I'll be on later today.)
>>Try to fix up her current clothing and cook her a dish she might recognize. Your magic can work wonders, after all.. And wouldn't the guild like to see her full glory?
He didn't postpone it much longer. No matter how much he wished to sit with her and chat, he had promised the guild today would be the day. No more setbacks. The King himself demanded progress with his new research. Of course, the research had been for purely selfish reasons (as in, claiming one's desired partner from the clutches of another realm of existence) but since his goals and those of the empire had aligned for a lucky moment, he had taken the opportunity without question.

However... as he stared at her, he felt he shouldn't try to force her into new attire. Not for now. No, it would be far more interesting for the guild to see a Fae dressed as she normally would be. The stories, of course, were mostly true - their outfits were quite sheen, and normally made of both plants and animal parts in equal amounts - but not without the permission of their previous owner. Because of their connection with nature, they could ask of the animals to give them some of their furs or horns - the sheddings and the molts. And the plants would drop them flowers and leaves. Of course, thankfully, the final result was far more covering than some people believed.

He stood to his feet and helped her stand in front of him again, placing his hands on her shoulders lightly and holding her in place for a moment.

"My dear, do not fret. Just hold still for me while I do a bit of magic." he asked, pulling his hands back. Sparks ignited from his fingers and several different spells ran through his mind. Mending. Healing. Repairing. And of course they had to be changed slightly to repair fabric instead of flesh.

Vines touched with vines. The scales of a dragon coursed back over her breast and abdomen, linking with her belt of flowers and ivy. The sheer webbing of a spider on her legs began to move back upward until the stockings they formed were complete. Her little pixie-like shoes, with the famous curved tips, were back to their original, curvy nature within moments.

He finished with a bit of a sigh and nodded with satisfaction at his work. She looked down at her arms and then turned to look at her back, intrigued and slightly amazed. But she had seen his spells before. He would have to work harder to impress her.

"May I move again?" she asked, uncertain.
"Oh yes, why of course. I was... a bit stunned, I suppose." Thaelasan coughed, putting a hand to his mouth. "Yes, you look wonderful."

"As good as a pagan goddess could, I suppose" one of the voices in his mind reignited. He cursed it a moment.
"Pagan goddess? Don't lump her with my kind, you light-winged simpleton."

He tried his best to ignore them and instead tried to focus on the next task - food. He required it. She needed it. But as far as he knew, fairy kind didn't eat any sorts of meat (after all, they didn't even really need to eat in the first place, and if they tried to kill anything, they felt its pain),

----- 1/2 ----
which meant that attempting to hunt was out of the question. Honestly, he felt quite bad for the Fae. Meat was one of his favorite dishes, in any form. He loved beef, absolutely adored pork, and could always eat mutton or venison if it came to it. In fact, a lump of meat sat in his cold storage as he spoke, kept nice and frozen by gnomish engineering and a bit of arcane tech. The thought of it made his stomach do a happy dance, complete with musical notes and a bit of a flourish.

But, he would serve that only to himself for now. For her, he felt it would be best to stick to fruits and vegetables. Yes, of course. She had a soft spot for ... apples? Apples and some sort of melon... He couldn't recall. Blast it, he hated that it had been so long since they had last been able to eat together. But that had been in HER realm, and memories made there were always hazy. It wasn't a myth that the Otherworld of the Fae was mind-altering.

If it hadn't been for the necklace she had given him, made by her own magic with a bit of her own fairy dust, he never would have been able to remember her as well as he had, her scent (which was always of clove, the sweetest flowers, and honey), her voice (which was always the honey and the chirping of birds), or her eyes (which were currently analyzing him patiently with the curiosity of a child).

So, for now, apples. It was around lunch time, he wagered, and so apples could suffice. He had plenty of them. He had ensured (for her sake) that his living establishments in the empire would be near an apple orchard and a nice river, one of the closest environs to how the Fae realm appeared to man. No civilians walked much by here, save the occasional field worker or drunken louse seeking free food, only to be battered away by Old Miss Sheeny. No, here, he was isolated, and much happier for it. After all, it meant anyTHING that ESCAPED his portals could be confined, and anyONE he brought back could be hidden from view until he was well and damn ready to show them to the world. Yes, that last bit angered him greatly. People always trying to peer in on one's business.

Thankfully, not a problem here. With another flourish of his hands, the fruit began to appear, and began to peel itself as he headed over to the basin to wash his hands and face. She followed him, confused, and she leaned over the water, gazing into her reflection. He turned to her as he worked, remembering for a moment that her people didn't normally need to bathe or clean themselves unless they wished to play in the water. He demonstrated what the basin was for by grabbing a cloth and lightly cleaning her face of any of the remaining dirt from before. She patiently allowed him to do so, silent as he worked, but it was interesting to her.
It was then that he spotted the gnomish clock on the wall, and realized it was only eleven in the morning. He stopped a moment, and then breathed a sigh of relief. His experiment had somehow-
only lasted an hour, and that meant he still had five before the guild meeting would commence. He was more than free to do as he willed.
And then the thought occurred to him - that meant he could help her get adjusted to her new environment! He could show her to the places he'd only been able to TELL her about, and the world was their oyster! His portals could take them anywhere, within an instant. And it wouldn't hurt to give her a good understanding of how things worked as a baseline. Then she could make comparisons to her own land.

>Take her to the mountains of Kambur. They're tall and mighty, and allow you to see the world from their cold peaks.
>Take her to the shadow valleys of Gren. They're nice and quiet, but the curse may cause some problems, so you shouldn't tarry.
>Take her to the meadows of the Elven Empire. Sure, you got exiled from there, but a moment or two couldn't hurt, and it was close to her homeland's appearance.
>Take her to the orchard outside. There was no reason to be jumping the world at this moment. You did, after all, move close to the orchard for her sake.
>>Take her to the orchard outside. There was no reason to be jumping the world at this moment. You did, after all, move close to the orchard for her sake.
Indeed! The orchard was the wise first choice for her. He had to admit, that was the whole reason he had moved out here - to be closer to nature, and closer to her standard way of living. So, of course, it was a wonderful idea to show her to the orchard of Mister and Missus Sheeny. He had become good friends with them after all and they loved new (sober) visitors. Yes, after he finished cleaning her up, he took her hand gently while the food was still being prepared.

"Shall we not wait to eat?" she pondered, following him.
"Hrm? Ah, not to worry. The food will be here when we return. For now, your appetizers."

Two bowls swerved to meet them, filled with chopped apple chunks, then dusted lightly with cinnamon and cane sugar. A sweet, candied dessert, to be certain, but a normal meal for a Fae. They, after all, loved all forms of candy, sweets, and treats. They were like children, and it was said some of them had even been born of lost children, forever given to the otherworlds...
He shook his head. Flora was certainly no child. Though her temperament was shy and innocent, her form and her wisdom certainly were not. He watched with a bit of joy, however, as she ate the food before her with (unsurprisingly) much gusto.

The two of them departed from the door, leaving the hole in the ceiling for now. He'd fix it when he returned, probably. He didn't have the materials on hand. But, honestly, it didn't quite matter to him on his list of importances for now.

Ah yes, the orchard. A cider-smelling experience for all ages. Red fruit dangled from wooden boughs, some having dropped to the earth themselves, others clinging to their homes in a futile attempt to stay with the tree which bore them. In the end, they would all descend or be picked to be served, their seeds kept to be planted, and the cycle continued.

Thaelasan, of course, had assisted with such things a few times. But the majority of his time had been taken up by his research. As such, he had normally been left to his own devices - so long as his magic didn't tamper with the orchard. That had been a big concern for Old Man Sheeny, who had angrily refused Thaelasan's housing at first when he had seen portals and considered them "just big space holes filled with dangerous anti-fruit creatures."
Thankfully, that had not been the case.

But Flora, meanwhile, was not mulling over memories or experiences. She was taken away by the smells of the orchard, by its innate beauty, by the feelings it endowed. She ran from tree to tree, gazing at the fruit that hung from each one. She reached up a hand and jumped to fly only to remember her wings would not come to her.

Thaelasan, however, stepped over to the tree and raised his hand slightly, grasping the apple in question and handing it down to her.
"Well, so long as your wings continue to disobey you, I'll be them for you." he promised, grasping her about the waist and lifting her slightly so she could reach for more of them.
The two laughed, frolicked, and enjoyed the experience together, Thaelasan hoping the entire time - knowing fully - it was not a dream. But it seemed like one. Finally, after so long, the woman who had saved him from the Old One, who had taught him the meaning of understanding others, who had given him new life after a century of bitterness and anger had changed his half-elven existence into one of pain - she was finally in his arms. And he didn't want to let her go. Not even for a moment.

Hours passed fleetingly, and the sun was far over its zenith. He calculated it had to be around two o' clock, another two hours before the weekly guild's gathering, the one he had promised to attend. Certainly, he wasn't one for formal affairs. He despised their ranting, their complaining about their failed theories and disastrous reports. Though, admittedly, he enjoyed the stories where someone exploded or got sent to another plane of existence for a bit of time. Since he was, after all, the leading expert on spacial magic and portal anomalies, he was always the one they asked.

For now, as he sat with her in the orchard, under one of the trees, his arm cradled around her, he could only ponder what other place they could go to, before the designated meeting time..
Yet something... ominous stirred in his mind. He ignored it - which, in retrospect... was probably a poor choice.

>Take her to the mountains of Kambur. You still have time to enjoy the snow for a bit.
>Take her to the Shadow Valleys of Gren. Two hours is more than enough time to enjoy the stench of death and regale her with stories of its fall.
>Take her to the meadows of the Elven Empire. You can still sneak in, if you go now.
>Stay in the Orchard. She seems to be enjoying herself, and you are as well.
>Take her to the meadows of the Elven Empire. You can still sneak in, if you go now.
"My dear Flora, I have something even more impressive to show you. But we must remain quiet. Can you understand that?" Thaelasan asked, leaning close to her.

"...Remain quiet? But why? Will we trouble someone if we do not?" she asked, perplexed.

"...It will trouble me, in the end, I suppose." Thaelasan admitted.
"Then I shall remain quiet, for you, though please tell me why." she implored.
"I'm not entirely welcome within the elven kingdoms, you see." he said.
"I thought you were half-elven. Are you not like them?"
"I am... and yet not. It is a difficult thing to explain. I would rather not waste precious time on it, at this moment. For now, can you accept that?"
"...I suppose. But I shall hold you to telling me later." she nodded.

In agreement, he stood to his full height and wiggled his fingers. He quite liked doing that. It wasn't a necessary motion. It just added flourish. What sort of mage didn't wiggle his fingers? It was almost mage policy, mage EDICT! Mage LAW!

He wiggled them even more fiercely at that thought. Flora watched him with a bit of interest. He noted her chuckling and he coughed.
"Ahem. Yes. It's very important to-"
"You do not need to do that for any spell I know of." she smiled.
"Well, uh! This is not a spell you know of, of course! It's quite a powerful portal spell! Almighty, at that! It's a spell to cover a distance of over eight thousand miles! It is the disordering of space-"
"Did you wiggle your fingers when you did the experiment to find me?"

There was a long moment of silence as he stood there, the portal beginning to open in the air, materializing like a woven cloth being torn by a ruthless savage - yet with the finesse of that same savage being a tailor. It was an oxymoronic creation.

".....Y.... yes." he finished, quiet.
"I wonder if that helped it succeed!" she said quickly, realizing this was actually a sore point with him.
"O-Of course it did! Wiggling one's fingers makes ANYTHING more likely to succeed! It helps the magical flow! Why, if you don't do it, you're not truly casting anything! You're only half-way doing it! Yes! Of course!" he sputtered, waving his hands wildly as the portal finished in front of him. "Now . Ahem. After you."
He bowed as she lifted the hem of her dress and stepped over the portal's boundaries. She held out her hand to him and he took it softly and carefully, moving over the threshold as the portal closed behind him.

Well, he was no liar. Before them was a vast expanse of grass and flowers, softly blowing in a breeze. Tended each day by elven hands, lovingly planted and whispered to by elves hand-picked to do so, the flowers were some of the rarest varieties, not seen normally in any other location but this. Their sweet pollen filled the air, alongside scents that could only be equated with jasmine, lilac, and honey. Bliss filled Thaelasan... a familiar bliss of home. It tugged at the half of him which was born here, the half of him he'd sometimes wished wasn't with him.
He couldn't be easily rid of the blood that flowed within him. Never could he remove it from his body. And it had helped him learn much magic and swordplay, to be sure. It had been one of his proudest features... and one of his most downtrodden ones. Humans despised his elven features, and elves feared his human bones. Not even the slight tips of his ears could calm them from walking slightly farther away from him. He remembered some of the maids in the castle jumping as he just tried to say their names.

Humans are deceitful. Elves are arrogant. Both sides had their reasons to hate each other. Yet Flora knew none of this - because Thaelasan did not tell her. He did not tell her of his birth - of his heritage. He did not tell her of the civil wars between his people and the human tribes. He did not tell her of his exile at the hands of his own mother, who cried as she sent him away.

Certainly, he did not tell her of the true worth of the very tree standing before them both, the actual reason he brought her here.

"What... is that great thing?" Flora asked in a whisper, walking closer to the humongous tree that spanned the skyline before them. Towering branches reached seemingly to the stars. Below it, they were dwarved, tinier than specks, and even the roots of the tree were as long as roads in the kingdoms Thaelasan had seen. After all, the tree was meant to be large.

It was Yggdrasil, the World Tree, the creation of the gods of the races before they left the world. It was their gift to them, born of a single, celestial seed. It was said it lead to the heavens where they sat, watching their creations. And it had fallen into the hands of different species as it had grown. Humans had watched over it. Gnomes had researched it. Dwarves had tried to mine below it during the dark times of the Thunderous War. And Elves now held it in their gardens, the final defenders, and caretakers.

He, certainly, was not allowed here. Whenever he heard a noise, he quickly had put up a portal and escaped. None but him knew how his magic worked. He was the finest in spatial and dimensional magical creations. No ward could stop him from tearing his way into any reality he desired. He was untouchable. But that didn't mean people couldn't hate him, fear him, or exile him from places, threatening to hunt him down if he ever returned.

A memory of his mother and him, standing under the tree, was fresh in his mind. And his father - a human, one of the only ones who had ever gazed upon the tree in millenia - who had managed to win his way into her heart and almost single-handedly ruined the prejudice elves and humans had held against each other....

"Thaelasan!" she whispered a bit more loudly. He blinked, torn from his thoughts, as he looked down at the fairy as she poked his shoulder and patted his face.

"Er, yes? What might be the problem?" he asked silently.
"What is it?" she asked again, pointing at the tree. And so he told her, but only the basic information.
"You brought me to something so beautiful?" Flora asked, wandering around the garden, sniffing the different flowers and rolling around in the grass.

He watched her for a long while, smiling and nodding. And he wanted to join her - but it was not his place. No matter how much he COULD... he did not wish to do so. It left a bitter taste in his mouth.

"Yes.. it's quite beautiful, but something more beautiful has now been added to this garden." Thaelasan said, stepping towards her. He looked down at her as she laid in the flowers, her eyes closed, humming softly.

"Ah, was that meant for me?" she asked.
"Of course." he replied, hands in the pockets of his robes. "Who else? What else could do something like that? Only you. Your presence anywhere."
"You flatter me too highly." she responded, rolling over slightly. "I did nothing to deserve any of this. You have always put too much worth into me."
"Never say such words again." Thaelasan commanded slightly, kneeling down to her level. He placed a finger upon the tip of her nose, poking her slightly. "I did, after all, do a lot to try and do as you asked. I brought you here. Now I can bring you anywhere. I promised you, didn't I?"
"You did. And I believed you."
"So remember that. You were worth every moment of work."

As the two of them laid in the sunlight, the branches of Yggdrasil shading them, Thaelasan noted the sun's placement. Soon the gardeners would come to tend to the plants, and they wouldn't like to see their work toyed with. He held out his hand for her, and she reluctantly took it.
"Can we come back again?"
"Any time you wish."
"Whenever you ask, wherever you ask, I can take you anywhere. My magic, only for you." he promised, and the portal began to open again.

As the two of them reentered the orchard, Thaelasan found himself and Flora standing back where they had been only hours before. Now, sadly, he had things to handle. He could travel through space - not time.

>Head immediately to the guild meeting. No detours.
>Take Flora on a small side journey of the human city. Introduce her to some of your friends, but quickly.
>Take Flora on a small side journey of the human city. Introduce her to some of your friends, but quickly.
He looped his arm underneath hers. Yes, this would be no quick trip to the Guild Hall of the Mage Order - the Enlightened Thaumaturgists - in the Arcane District. No, this would be a lovely date with his Fairy Queen, in the flesh, in all of her regal finery. People would stare, certainly. She would get the respect she deserved.

The two of them began walking together, past his home, past the shacks and shanties of some of the other researchers and general civilians of the city. After all, they lived in one of the outskirt villages, not within the city proper. At least HE did, and soon, Flora would as well. It was quiet, peaceful, and solitary.

But, walking wouldn't get them where they needed to be quick enough. With a flourish of his hand (and a wiggle of his fingers), he crafted another gateway, and the two of them found themselves within the city proper, just short of the gates, with several passerby looking at them both as though a miracle had occurred. One of the guards, however, simply shrugged. Thaelasan was well known to him. The Guard Captain, however, marched over to them with determination.
"Afternoon, constable." Thaelasan nodded.
"Afternoon. Who's this?" Browning asked, looking Flora up and down appraisingly. "Some sort of deviant? A dancer? Entertainer, on that note?"
Thaelasan shook his head, a bit insulted. Flora took this moment to curtsy politely.

"Greetings, ...sir. My name is Flora, Fairy Queen of the Seventh Empire." she stated, The Captain merely raised an eyebrow.

"Fairy Queen? Bollocks, Thaelasan. Have you gone off and befriended some sort of madwoman? Is she going to help you with your 'research' or somethin'?"

"No, Captain Browning, I assure you, she is being completely honest." Thaelasan gestured to her, frowning. "I've done it."

"Done what? Lost your mind to some dark corner of the universe no man should ever enter? Are you meaning to tell me that this woman-"
"Flora." Thaelasan amended, hopeful.
"Flora. That Flora is somehow of Fae royalty, and that you have brought her here, into our world, which should not happen? A thing that even seven of the most trained human mages couldn't accomplish after months of trial?"
"To be fair, I had years to do so. And I wasn't also trying to focus on a useless war effort-"
"A completely LEGITIMATE war effort." Browning interrupted.
"A possibly legitimate war effort at the same time." Thaelasan finished. "I didn't have their handicaps. I had nothing but time."

Browning removed his helmet a moment, allowing his sweaty but well cut hair to touch the air. He scratched his head for a long moment, holding his helmet by his side.
"So that's where you've been off to, then?" he finally said, looking Flora over again. "Let's say I believe you. It took you long enough."
"I wasn't aware I had taken a long time at all. The experiment was never said to be a long one." Thaelasan blinked, slightly confused.

---- 1/3 ----
"Wait a minute, how long did you think it was going to take?" Browning asked, but before he could finish, there was a noise of disorder in the alley nearby and he immediately donned his helmet, rushing into the alley to accost a ruffian and a burglar who had just robbed some poor woman.

Thaelasan and Flora watched him run off with a bit of interest.

"Who was that, Thael?" Flora asked as they began walking again.
"Ah. Guard Captain Browning. Don't trouble yourself too much with him. He takes his job quite seriously." Thaelasan described. "I've had to help him a few times by using my magic. He worries about me a bit too much... though when I first met him he was concerned my magic would be used for vandalism or robbery."
"But you would never do something like that."
"He couldn't be sure of that. I don't blame him. Unlike your people, Flora, humans and other beings of this plane don't feel anything when they commit immoral actions unless their conscience speaks to them. Keep that in mind. Don't go running off with anyone who claims to have your best interests in mind."
"Like you?" Flora giggled.
"I'm an exception." Thaelasan replied. "But others, yes."

As they walked, Flora gazed at the wonders about her, now free to look at anything that came within view. Thaelasan could feel her urges to run off from him, explore and search everything. But she was strong-willed enough to postpone that for now. They both knew after this was over, the world was theirs to explore.
Yes... everything could have been perfect. But they didn't know that at the time.

Thaelasan heard Flora gasp, and knew immediately what had caught her attention.
"What's that then, Thael?!" she asked, pointing.
"A sky Zeppelin." Thaelasan replied. "Unlike the Fae or even elves, Humans have difficulty flying or moving quickly, so they constructed vehicles meant for travel. Automobiles. Zeppelins. Even great ships. You'll see them all here when we reach the inner city. We'll use one, if you wish."
"Can we?!" she asked, excited.
"Of course!" Thaelasan promised. "In fact..."
"Hey! Mageboy!"
Thaelasan and Flora turned slightly to look at the man and woman behind them, curious. The man was waving at Thaelasan with a leg of lamb, while the woman was wiping her hands on her apron.
"Ah! Grum. Sheila. How have the two of you been?"
"Just marvelous, really. Shipments are selling like crazy right now because of the war effort. Dried meat is just the thing for a hungry soldier. Doesn't do to send them out there with just some biscuits and water."
"I'd imagine so." Thaelasan replied, turning to face them. "How's your son?"
"He finally mustered up the nerve to ship out with the rest of them. To be completely honest with you, Mage, I really don't know if I appreciate it." Grum rubbed the back of his head. "But, our family's always supported the king's decisions. Wouldn't do to tell them no, would it?"

"I've done it so far and haven't had many repercussions." Thaelasan grinned. Grum laughed.
Sheila chuckled.
"Well you're a special case, now aren't you?" Grum smirked. "Don't share the same sort of tie to Thaniel we do."
"And I don't really know if I wish to start. No, his wars are his own. I get him results and let it be from there." Thaelasan said.
"And who's the lovely lady with you?" Sheila asked, looking at Flora.
"Ah, a Fairy Queen, if you can believe it."
"So it worked, then?" Grum asked.
"Almost perfectly. Have a hole in the ceiling of my home now and a crater in the floor but it can be repaired. What's important is her presence."
"I'm happy for you, mate. If it wasn't portals you were talking about, it was her. Happy endings do make me happy, after all." Grum nodded. "Well, for now, can't chat much longer. I have orders to fill."
"We can speak later today." Thaelasan promised.
"I would like that." Flora added. Sheila shook her head.
"No no, Grum. You have the meeting with the guard tonight. We can see them tomorrow, though."
"Oh, that's right. Then tomorrow it is." Grum gave a nod. "Is that fine with you?"
Thaelasan and Flora agreed, and the groups departed. As the couple walked towards the dock, Flora gave him a questioning look.
"So how will we get there?" she asked. He looked over at the harbor, pondering.

>Take the airship. It makes good time to the center of the city and is always a pleasant journey.
>Hire a taxi service. Many of the automobiles scurrying the busy streets are perfect for the task.
>Take one of the passenger ships. A small ferry goes to the inner canals of the city, perfect for couples.
>Take the airship. It makes good time to the center of the city and is always a pleasant journey.
>Take the airship. It makes good time to the center of the city and is always a pleasant journey.

This has been a nice detour, but we really need to get moving just to get it over with.
The airship!

After all, hadn't that been the first thing to catch her eye? It had been a while since he, himself, had been upon one. When a being could simply teleport from one end of the world to the other, they never found a use for modern machines. But today was special. He felt this meeting was important.

And maybe he could find someone there to ask about the voices he had heard earlier. He'd heard flickers of them from time to time but as long as Flora was near him, they seemed to subside. Maybe it was her inherent power. Maybe it was the will she gave him. Regardless, he wouldn't question it further. He had more important matters to deal with.

They approached the docks. It was simple enough to secure a pass. Surprisingly, the cost to board an airship (as long as it was within the city limits) was only ten Kingsmarks. The docking captain gave them a wave as they boarded. They had no luggage to check either so it made it even more convenient.

As they stood upon the deck of the grand zeppelin, Flora moved to look out over the edge. Below them, the airship tower spanned a few more feet and then dropped off into the air. Below that were the homes of the immigrants and vagrants, where those without city passes or those with crimes under their belt lived in squalor below the beauty of the ships. But Flora didn't know that. To her, they just looked like normal homes, and she smiled as she saw how tiny the life below looked. It reminded her of when she had her wings.

"We'll be taking off soon. Do you wish to stay up here, or sit within?" Thaelasan asked, striding up to join her.
"Out here." she quickly stated, too busy looking all over the city at all the different wonders she could spot just from this height.
"As you wish, my queen." he said, nodding to her slightly. "Just don't lean over too far."
"You could catch me." she smiled, watching a car drive through the lower city.
"Well, yes, of course, but it's still dangerous."

There was a shudder and the sound of steam and the sound of gears churning as the airship began to rise from its docking tethers. A few men on both the ship and the docks untied the last of the ropes and threw them onto the decks of the ship where they were rolled up and put away.

The wind began to pick up as the ship's engines roared to life. And, as Thaelasan had warned, the ship rocked quite roughly as it disengaged itself from its final docking lock (the fuel line, located below the tower which locked itself to the lower parts of the ship while it did its work) but soon found its travel far smoother than before as they began to lift into the air.

Higher. Higher. And then finally they settled. He could already see their destination now, further into the city proper. The Magi complex, several buildings constructed to serve as research labs and dormitories, even hospices for the practice of medical magic - as well as the healing of the less practiced.
Thaumaturgy, as Thaelasan knew well, was a wondrous, dangerous, amazing, frightening thing.

The trip was enjoyable for both of them. He was pleased as she pointed at several of the buildings, asking him what each one was for. And he told her, either to great lengths, or as far as he could get before she would interrupt him to ask about another. He didn't mind. She seemed pleased and that was all that mattered.

He told her of the garrison, of the castles of dukes, of the castles of duchesses, of the broad river that ran through half of the kingdom and promoted its trade, of the dwarven buildings that housed the short species - where they would sleep to mine the next morning in the depths outside the city limits. He told her of the great, mysterious tower in the corner of the city where adventurers would risk life and limb to climb it, since it was where some of the strongest beasts the kingdom had seen were sealed. He told her of the history of the city, about its founding and recent conquering-.
"Conquered?" Flora stopped him, concerned. "Do you mean like won?"
"Why yes, exactly that." Thaelasan replied, halted in his train of thought. "It was-"

He paused a moment and realized that in order to tell her about its conquering, he would have to tell her about the civil war, and the elven-human relations, and all of the things he had hidden from her for so long. He had been able to stay out of it. He hoped she could as well.

>Tell her of the war. Be honest with her. You did promise you'd tell her later.
>Change the subject. There's no reason to explain it yet. It's a sour topic.
>Tell her of the war. Be honest with her. You did promise you'd tell her later.
Thaelasan took a deep breath to calm himself for a moment and collect his thoughts.
"Flora, I haven't been entirely honest with you."
"...You have not?" Flora asked, and her face made him feel like a terrible insect.

"...No, but not because I wished to lie to you but because I didn't want you to think poorly of the new world I brought you to." he stated, sighing. "King Thaniel.. he conquered this kingdom of Leywind and immediately began declaring his hostile intentions towards the elven races in Shalathel. And... erm... furthermore, he only funded my research so that I would create weaponized portals for his use... So the experiment..."
"You are not going to do it, right?"
He paused.
"Weaponize portals?"
"You are not going to do it, right?" she repeated.
"Of course not." he stated flatly. "My portals were never meant for warfare or large-army transportation for that matter. They were meant purely for me to explore the otherworlds and quickly find information without much hassle. I only researched them..."
He slowed a moment. But there was no sense in him stopping now. He may as well come clean.
"I only began researching them so I could return home, to Shalathel. But that was futile."
"But you were there! You took me there, right?" Flora questioned.
"Being there and being allowed there... are two different things. I was exiled from Shalathel fifty years ago, before Leywind was conquered, before any of this. I witnessed the fall of the city, far from its actual destruction. The army that came to take it caught it by surprise - for no one expected anyone to try and siege Leywind. It was a trading port. But now its a war power, filled with anti-elven ideals. I still don't understand why so many humans were willing to side with such a terrible position. Hatred breeds violence, and violence breeds death."
The word death weighed heavily on the poor Fae. She uncomfortably shifted her weight. The word was not said among her people. It didn't exist. They were immortal, magical, and peaceful. Their kingdoms never fought. Their lives were idyllic. It was an endless dream, to never wake from.

But here... death was certainly real. As the airship approached the docking tower, she looked up at him with certainty.
"You are not allowed to help anyone like that." she protested.
"I wasn't planning to. But if it's an order, I suppose now I must obey even moreso." he bowed, smiling. "As you wish, my Queen."

The locking clasps and ropes began their work, the airship flying into place with a last bump that rocked the entire deck. Thaelasan grabbed a hold of Flora to steady her as she held onto the rail. She let out a small yelp. Thaelasan grunted. They'd been so preoccupied with the story they had forgotten about the bumps.

As they disembarked, Flora leaned close to him.
"...I thank you for the honesty." she said, pleased. "It was not a good story but it was the truth."
"Don't worry. The war will end with time and everything will right itself."
"How long?" she asked.
"Does it matter to us, who are immortal?" Thaelasan gestured at them both. "Time is meaningless. Research is infinite. We can go anywhere. We can do anything-"
"But people are dying."
He slowed his steps as people crowded past them, both towards the ship and away from it. He gazed at her for a long while, her face full of concern and anxiety.
"..Yes... People are dying. They will die of age. They will die of sickness. Or they will die of war. They die here, in this world, Flora."
"So we are simply allowed to live and do nothing? Is this your existence?" she asked, halting him a moment. "You brought me here, to a world of pain and fighting, and you did nothing to change it?.. You do nothing?"

"I have used my portals to save lives before, yes... And I have used healing magic to mend wounds and assist the young and old-"
"But have you done anything to prevent them from being hurt again?" Flora continued.
"....No... I don't feel it's my place to meddle in the affairs of mortals any longer." Thaelasan admitted.
"It is. You have a great power, Thael. You have an amazing power. You can change so many things. I want to see you change all of this." Flora took his hand, holding it close. "This city is beautiful but I can feel every emotion around me. These people are worried. They are frightened. I want it to stop. I want you to help them."
"You're putting quite a lot of faith in me." Thaelasan said. "I'm not sure if-"
"I am." she said with certainty.

>Agree with her. First, the meeting. And then, you'll try to slowly, gradually, change the world, no matter how long it takes. She's right. You have nothing but time.
>Disagree. Her ideals are far too lofty. She needs to realize that's not how the world works. Time just makes wounds cut deeper.
>Change the subject. You need more time to think before you accept or deny anything.
>Change the subject. You need more time to think before you accept or deny anything.
Thaelasan frowned moment, and then tousled Flora's hair lightly.
"...If I may, I cannot give you a firm decision just yet. I'm sorry. Let's focus on the guild meeting for now, alright?" he asked, hopeful. "When it's over, we'll talk about our plans afterward. I'll listen to anything you have to say."

She seemed slightly upset but she sighed.
"The Thaelasan I knew would have leaped at the idea of doing anything he could to help people..." she muttered.
"But the Thaelasan you knew also tries to plan ahead before he makes any bold decisions... at least, after what happened with Van...."
He didn't complete that sentence. It was bad to say the names of the Old Lost Ones. It was said to call them to one's existence.
But he didn't need to say more. She seemed to understand and nodded slightly.
"You promise?" she asked, not looking at him.
"Of course. I will always keep my promises to you." he swore. "So for now, let's find our way into the hall."
The two of them headed through the rest of the narrow streets, down from the Zeppelin tower, past the myriad vendor booths and stalls hawking wares, and across the busy roads where one vehicle honked at them angrily as they were forced to quickly cross to avoid being trampled to by the crowd. But the day was dying down, and as they stood before the doors of the Mage Complex, Thaelasan held up his hand.
"Step no further unless you hold my hand." he warned. "There are barriers in place to prevent magical creatures from being inherently summoned without someone's close watch. They could cause you harm." he warned.
She obeyed, and the two of them entered through the Veil around the buildings, and found themselves within the first ring of the Dreamscape.

"Wh....What?" Flora asked, concerned. She gazed around them, the city having disappeared. Far below them, the city sat in its usual splendor, but that was far. Far. Far. Below.

"Ah, did you really think Thaumaturgists worked within the realm of reality so easily?" he asked playfully. "Of course not. Cities are too loud. And our information must be quickly shared. Almost all complexes are a facade, all of them linking to one shared location - the Dreamscape."
And what a scaping dream it was. Around them, rainbows of color shined about the Veil. Mages of all species and size walked together or read and studied their literature. Several buildings of varying design surrounded the landscape. At the peak of each one was strange, runic writing.
"There's ours. The Leywind house." Thaelasan commented, heading in the direction.
"So this is why you could not just teleport here?" Flora asked.
"Hrm? No, I could have done it any time. I just wanted to spend more time with you." Thaelasan smiled, still holding her hand gingerly.
"...Thank you.." she whispered, pulling closer to him.
Well, now it was time to decide their final route to the Leywind hall. And still, he didn't feel like everything was right. Ominous notions stirred in his brain again....

>Go to the Leywind hall through the Arcanology labs. The magic there will surely delight her and make the trip a bit more exciting.
>Teleport to the hall with a grand display. Make your presence known. You were fashionably late and you damn well knew it.
>Wander through the Arboretum. The plants would surely impress Flora. She seemed to love flowers and nature as a whole.
>Avoid the noise and travel through the Academics quarter on the left. The walk would be a bit longer but he might be able to find books about the voices within his head...(Perception.)
>Avoid the noise and travel through the Academics quarter on the left. The walk would be a bit longer but he might be able to find books about the voices within his head...
Rolled 64 (1d100)

(( I'll be leaving the vote for now. Reminder that the fourth option will require a roll check if it gets majority. ))
Rolled 35 (1d100)

Thaelasan felt right at home in the academics quarter, Flora tagging behind without much understanding of what was even happening. Frankly, not many could comprehend exactly what was occurring within the Academics quarter at any time. Not even the Librarians could really explain it.

Supposedly, around seven centuries ago, some famous mage had decided that the best way to keep things interesting was to enchant the books to seek someone to read them, or when they were needed. The problem was, this made the books *sentient* as a result, meaning they chose when they wanted to be found or not. As a result, this meant that they sometimes even had to be roped back *into* the library by trained professionals known as the Bookcatchers. The effect of all of this culminated into a massive group of around seven mages with **Bookcatchers** inscribed on their hats in the boldest font possible running around, up and down stairs that could only be described as Escherian. The Library had no bounds after all. Physics couldn't be applied here.

Meanwhile, regular students were either grabbing books left and right in an attempt to finish their studies for their own masters who had chosen to take them in in apprenticeships. One bumbled past the pair as he tripped and fell while trying to catch a book on "Magical Equilibrium." The irony of the situation made Thaelasan chuckle.

As he looked around, he began pondering exactly what a book on "Voices in one's head" would look like. Would it have one of those strange, screaming locks? Would it be eldritch or simple, bound in leather or cloth - or something worse? He really didn't know. But the book would know, and it would find him.

Sadly, Thaelasan did not find the book just yet, though he did manage to find a bit of information regarding one from one of the Bookcatchers, who explained that they were currently chasing the upper shelves of "Mental Spell Disabilities" and it had been roughly a day since the hunt had began. He wished them luck, and Flora followed him for a moment before asking,

"Why are you looking for a book like that?"

Thaelasan paused, searching for a reply.

"For a friend, of course. Nothing major, I assure you. It will probably pass in a couple of days." he added, mainly to assuage his own fears. He had noticed that each time she drifted away from him - if only slightly - he would begin hearing the arguing again.

"Oh. Mister Grum? Or the constable? Or someone else?" Flora asked, prying.

"No one you have met yet." Thaelasan lied, adding another to the small pile. He just needed to hurry and be rid of this problem once and for all. Then he could tell her the truth when she didn't have to worry about it any further.

She seemed content with that response and continued to follow him through the shelves as they walked down the ceiling and into one of the walls. By this point, Thaelasan actually just had to follow the signs and hope they hadn't been changed again by mischievous students.
It appeared they had lucked out.

The Leywind guild hall stood before them now, in all of its splendor. Great, marble pillars supported a floating frame, held together by arcane tendrils of energy. Two mages stood at the door, protecting the assemblies within from interruptions - at least, that was the norm.

Thaelasan noted there were no guards. Wasn't he two minutes late for the meeting? If it were in full swing, he would have seen a fireball fly out of the window by now. As he approached, he discovered something even more worrying - the doors were shut tight, and as he pulled on them he found them locked by magical seals.

"Not to worry. I know the code." he assured Flora, rotating his fingers so that the runes on the door began to make a strange sort of shape.
The runes glowed a moment and then sent them both flying backward, knocking them into the grass. He heard chuckles from some of the passerby. Insulted, he helped Flora back to her feet and dusted her off lightly where he felt it was appropriate to touch.

"Are you hurt?" he asked, concerned.

"Not at all. Is that supposed to happen, Thael?" Flora inquired.

"....No. Something is dreadfully wrong. My code should have lasted another two months. We only change it annually..." he began, walking back towards the door. Anxiety was building within him now. He had to keep calm for her sake. Everything had been weird since the experiment. Things had just seemed too simple. He stared at the lock a moment. Of course, there were ways to bypass such things, but it always came with consequences. If there was a meeting inside, had he been locked out due to how serious it was? Or did they even remember he was coming? Maybe he had been wrong to tarry so long! He paced the area in front of the door with quick, hurried strides. He thought and thought for the longest time as Flora watched him.

>Ask someone nearby for more information. Surely someone has to know what happened to the meeting. (Perception roll)
>Attempt to dehex the lock and force your way in. They'd understand if they knew how important your discoveries were! (Intelligence roll)
>Attempt to teleport into the room. No one truly knew how to make portals like you did, so surely they hadn't learned how to defend against them!... But something told you this was a bad idea...
>Ask Flora for advice. Surely she's thought of something you haven't. She seems to be looking at something in the corner....
>Ask Flora for advice. Surely she's thought of something you haven't. She seems to be looking at something in the corner....
(( Gonna try to post while I'm off tomorrow. Sorry for the delay. ))
Flora was staring at something rather intently. As Thaelasan knelt down to her level, he discovered there was a small hole in the wall of the Guild Hall. Concerned, he began to whisper to her, but she shushed him, her eye staring through the hole as she analyzed what was within.

"....There's a portal."

The words shook Thaelasan greatly. A portal? He didn't open it in there. No one else he knew could open portals. Not even the Grand Magus understood how his portals worked. Sure, they could do basic teleportation, but keeping the space OPEN?

In order to explain it, he had always simply used the analogy of walking to a location rather than bringing the location to one's self. When one teleported, they moved themselves to the point. With portals, they linked the point to ANOTHER point, making others able to use it, even if they had no magical affinity.

It was a remarkable concept. In that instance, the two locations were bound together, allowing things to come or go. But it had been purely theoretical until Thaelasan had tirelessly spent half a century perfecting the art.

So for there to be a portal in the guild hall was impossible. Should have been impossible. Flora looked up at him, concerned.

"Did you open it?"

"No. I haven't been here since before the experiment." Thaelasan promised. "I have no idea why it's there."

If he had teleported in there, he probably would have been engulfed by the portal and been sent to the gods-knew-where. He was thankful he hadn't done such a terrible thing.

"Ah.... Thaelasan... You're alive?"

There was a voice behind Thaelasan, one which he recognized. It sent a chill through his body. He didn't have much time to react before magical shackles were wrapped around his wrists, binding him. Similar ones were put around Flora's arms, pinning her to the ground.
Thaelasan was forcefully turned around to face a familiar man, a tall, thin human male with all of the attractiveness of a noble and all the arrogance as well. It was obvious to see he had to be the son of a royal family.

"Thaniel..." Thaelasan said, concerned.

"King Thaniel. Yes." Thaniel replied, his guards behind him moving forward to grasp Thaelasan's shoulders. The mage who had bound Thaelasan's arms was standing at Thaniel's side.

"Well, if you wanted to speak with me, your highness, you know you don't have to wrap me up." Thaelasan said pleasantly. "And I would appreciate if you didn't cause my beloved any displeasure."

"Oh. My apologies. I'm afraid I can't abide by that. After all, traitors don't deserve pleasantries." Thaniel stepped towards him, face filled with annoyance. "And I know you you require your arms free to perform your spells. This way, you can't escape your judgement."

"What judgement? I'm still not entirely certain what you're talking about, your Highness. I assure you, I've been entirely faithful." Thaelasan stated firmly.

"I can't believe you can lie so openly to me. I offered you a new home." Thaniel began,
"I offered you everything you said you needed for your research. I gave you freedom. I gave you a new LIFE." Thaniel continued, backhanding Thaelasan into the door behind him. "I gave you more than many of my greatest followers, and I asked you for one, simple thing."

He knelt to where Thaelasan lay. His head was ringing from the blow, his face feeling a surge of pain that washed across it. He heard Flora screaming in the background as she was hoisted to her feet. He could see her out of the corner of his eye.

"LEAVE HER ALONE. Put her DOWN this INSTANT. I did NOTHING!" Thaelasan said firmly, screaming hysterically. "PUT HER DOWN!"

The men didn't move. Thaniel's face became grim as he pulled a dagger from his belt. "I wanted your power to weaponize portals. That's all I wanted. Didn't you want the same? The elves who had exiled you, punished for their crimes? You were their prince. All I wanted was the tree. It's our birthright, after all. It should be shared among all the empires, not just the Elven hands that tend to it. It's not wrong, is it?"

"It's a slaughter." Thaelasan said, "But I was working on the research. My notes-"

"Are full of lies." Thaniel said, waving the dagger in front of his face. "You kept giving me only half of what you truly had accomplished. It wasn't until you vanished that one of my more trusted advisers told me the truth, after we searched your home."

He motioned to the mage behind him, who reached into his sleeve. The mage produced a bundle of papers. Thaelasan's eyes widened. His handwriting was clear on the outside of them. A bundle of his notes, where he had left them in his room. They'd been magically locked. He couldn't refute that they were his.

"...How did you.." Thaelasan muttered weakly.

"Do you still wish to persist your innocence?" Thaniel asked, pointing the dagger at the bundle. "You know what we'll read in there if we read them all. I scrutinized them for a long time and it was already clear you were only giving me drips of water, when you had discovered the entire, *DAMN* *OCEAN.*"

He shoved the dagger into Thaelasan's shoulder. Thaelasan winced in pain, able to endure as the blood leaked from his shoulder into the rest of his torn robes.

"How... did you get them?" Thaelasan asked, gritting his teeth.

"You were gone for a year, you poor sod." Thaniel shook his head. "Did you really think I wouldn't grow curious? It took a few months, but we searched your home and found the chest and unlocked it. That, and some other important documents. Really, Thaelasan, I'm disappointed in you."

But Thaelasan wasn't considering his words. *A year?* But it had been only an hour. Why had no one else mentioned anything?

"*Wait a minute, how long did you think it was going to take?*"

Thaelasan remembered Browning's words and a new realization dawned on him. The portal in the Leywind Hall. The reactions of the people. To them... he was just some strange mage. They hadn't thought much of it...
Flora was frightened out of her mind. She felt his pain as the blood seeped from the wound. She winced herself as Thaniel pulled the dagger from the hole it had made and held the bloody weapon aloft.

"So, we made the portals ourselves. My most trained mages are working on it as we speak. We've already managed to cross two thousand miles. Only a matter of time before we're able to increase that number. But it's taking so irritatingly long that I've considered something. You know, I thought you were dead. I thought the experiment had killed you. But you being alive offers me a very big choice."

He stood to his feet and began pacing, flipping the dagger with ease. Thaelasan remembered he had been a common rogue before he'd managed to sway the people to his side. The dexterity was apparent in how he stepped casually, his legs striding with an evasive nature to them.

"I could just kill you here and now." he said flatly, cocking his head slightly. "I really could. You and this girl mean nothing to me with the information I retrieved. You're a traitor. No one would miss you much, I don't think. It's not hard to throw a man under a bridge and call it a day. It's messy, really, but not difficult."

He paused in front of Flora and looked her over. Then, to Thaelasan's dismay, he grabbed her chin and forced her to look into his eyes, turning her head back and forth.

"So you're the reason he really did it, huh? What are you, exactly? Those horns. That tail. You're no elf... So why did he consider you so important?"

"She's... a Fairy Queen."

"Come again?" Thaniel said, turning to look where Thaelasan lay.

"A Fairy Queen. The Fairy Queen of Dragons." Thaelasan went on, the words sounding foolish in his mouth now. "I succeeded. I crossed the planes of existence and I brought her here. Don't you get it? There are other worlds to explore. There are things beyond war and death! I wasn't doing it to spite you, Thaniel. I was doing it to try and show you other options!"

Thaniel frowned, releasing Flora's jaw and then stepping over to him, kneeling by his side.

"What's this? You're telling me you hid this information from me to help me somehow? Well that's wonderful. And you know what? I'll believe you. And that's why I'm offering you the second option." Thaniel said, smiling.

"You want me to help you further the portal development." Thaelasan said, hissing.

"Of course. You do that, and I'll absolve you of this whole, messy affair. I'll even let you keep the woman." Thaniel said, waving his hand. The two men released her onto the ground. She fell with a painful thud. Thaelasan grimaced.

"I'll give you a few moments to think. I mean, of course I'd have to have you under constant surveillance. And I'd demand very quick results. Surely you understand. I'm a very busy man, Thaelasan. I have an empire to run and a war to wage. Your treason caused me a fair bit of inconvenience."
Thaelasan gritted his teeth and began to think. Flora looked at him from across the way. He knew if he accepted this deal she'd never forgive him. Her eyes pleaded to him for help.

She was an innocent outsider, a civilian. She didn't deserve this. She didn't know what pain or loss were. She didn't know why this was happening. He had brought her to this world, hoping it would accept her, and in a single day, he was already on the ground and hoping he could protect her again.

But... all was not lost.

>Break the shackles and use your magical powers to defeat Thaniel and his men. These shackles are nothing to you. You can sense that they could be easily broken. (Easy Intelligence Roll. Demonic.)
>Accept his deal. Flora wouldn't forgive you at first, but maybe down the line you could find a way to betray him again.
>Accept his deal. Flora's opinion doesn't matter. The Elves deserve to be punished for exiling you. (Demonic.)
>Refuse his deal. You'll take his punishment if he gives it to you.
>Trust in Flora. She can help you escape. Give her some sort of sign, and she'll give you a hand. (Angelic.)
>Persuade Thaniel that his cause is wrong and that slaughter is not the answer. (Hard Speech roll. Angelic.)
>Persuade Thaniel to release you because your notes don't prove anything. It just means you were preparing them to be safe! You were worried you would end up killing his troops if you did it too soon! (Speech Roll.)

(( For the record, Angelic and Demonic will become more important as the quest goes on. Just keep them in mind as you vote. ))
>Trust in Flora. She can help you escape. Give her some sort of sign, and she'll give you a hand. (Angelic.)
time for her to do something useful
Thaelasan looked at Flora from across the ground where he laid and stared her in the eyes as she stared back.

For a moment, he worried she didn't understand. But she nodded slightly. One of the guards rose his weapon, concerned. Before he could speak, the action had begun, and he and the rest of the men were knocked backward.

The mage began to try and craft a spell but Thaelasan had already stood up, pushing past Thaniel who'd been blinded by the flash of light. Thaelasan charged into the mage, ramming him hard with his unharmed shoulder and knocking him to the ground. When his hood came off, Thaelasan recognized him immediately, and furrowed his brow.

But he didn't have time to consider that. As the guards stood back to their feet, a being stood in front of them.

Flesh had melded to wood and arcane energy. Nature flowed through the being as great vines twisted over gnarled roots. Wings spread from a back formed of stone and roots. Arching horns like those of a deer were protruding from a head that no longer resembled that of the Fae Queen.

Before them stood a mighty dragon, hallowed by nature and the magic of the earth. With titanic force, it sent out a wave of force that knocked the guards back to the ground.

"A dragon!? Here?" Thaniel shouted in confusion, grabbing his swords from their sheaths. "Thaelasan! You traitorous bastard! You brought back a weapon of this magnitude?!"

Thaelasan ran towards Flora as she spread her wings again. The mage was struggling to his feet. Words were already on his lips, some form of spell. Flora knelt so that Thaelasan could mount her. He quickly obliged, ignoring the shackles for now.

"Charge straight forward!" he commanded, grabbing hold of the vines on her neck to steady himself.

Her voice echoed through his mind in response.

"But that's..."

"Trust in me, Flora. Hurry!" he said again, concerned. They had no time for anything else. The shackles on his arms prevented him from moving them enough for most rudimentary spells, especially his portals. But if one already existed...

She obeyed without further hesitation, lowering her head as she charged forward at ramming speed. Thaniel dodged out of the way with a quick leap as she barreled past him and slammed with all of her might into the guild hall door.

The mighty stone and seal resisted as though it were made of glass. The marble and magic shattered into fragments as the two of them ran towards the portal in the center of the room. There was no telling where it lead, nor who had opened it. But they had no choice now.

By doing this, Thaelasan knew he had declared himself an enemy of the state for good. His home by the orchard would be gone. His life with Flora would be disrupted. But he felt he had made the right choice. After all, he had brought her here because he loved her, and he trusted her above all else.

So now, he hoped she would trust him. He reached into his bag as they ran forward, time becoming short.
His fingers fumbled due to the shackles. He managed to scrounge three papers from his bag, the symbols on them archaic in nature. He didn't have time to read them or figure out what they were. All he knew was that he had made them to effect portals.

One in his hand was a verdant green, with a bark brown symbol drawn on it that looked like a strange letter E with seven marks around it. Something in his anxious memory told him it led to somewhere near the elven lands. They wouldn't be too friendly, but anything would be better than here.

Another one in his bags was blue, with a light green symbol in the center. He remembered an island. He couldn't remember where it was or what empire it belonged to. He just remembered it had been beautiful.

The last one was a fiery red, with a black symbol branded into the center. This one, he remembered, had been particularly dangerous.. but hadn't there been something important about it?

He only had time to read one of them. Once it was used, the scroll would be gone. They would enter the portal, and it would close. Everything would be clear.. now it was just a matter of destination...

>Enter the portal as-is. There were strange stars beyond it, with dark energy coalescing through its very core. It had a strong scent of squids.
>Use the green one. The elves might not be too friendly at first but surely they would forgive him if he helped them.
>Use the blue one. He couldn't remember where it led but he knew it had to be an island. He remembered a temple there.
>Use the red one. Something about it seems dangerous but he knew he wouldn't have written it without good reason...
>Use the blue one. He couldn't remember where it led but he knew it had to be an island. He remembered a temple there.
OP.. the thread isn't bumping for some reason
It's fine. This one has been archived. New one is up here. >>2829503 ))

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