Keepers of the Mountain

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Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:44 am

    The Keeper Monastery has fallen...

    Now some of the last remaining Keepers are on a quest to rescue and preserve what they can salvage from the ruins.


    I'm really bad at these types of posts...



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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:06 am

    The soft silver light of the twin moons fell across the mountain. The sharp clear light of the larger sister fell first, bleaching the rocks to a vibrant white; over top the younger sister laid a soft starlit blanket of snow over the great mountain so that it shone like a diamond in the cold night. Thus did the two sisters put their beloved Bastion to bed. As they rose to start their night, they kissed his heavenly brow, and smoothed his errant wisps of cloudy locks.

    Ayal watched this tender display, feeling like an intruder in a private bedchamber, treading upon the whispered conversations of ghosts. His ears burned - whether from cold or embarrassment he couldn't say. He watched as if stricken, by the gentle tending of the moons to their young earth brother, unable to tear his gaze away from the familial scene. It brought on sensations of something buried deep, deep within; something so close and yet out of reach. Not forgotten, just pushed aside, like the old song you grew up with, but never bothered remembering the words too; and now you realize the song is no longer there to recall, but still you remembered how it made you feel, and you feel sorry for not remembering the words. If only one could remember those words, those words to take you back. Oh, if but for the remembrance of those words you could sing and wake up in your old home with all your old friends...

    But the words did not come to him. The song went unsung. He cannot reach back through those hazy days across which the song was lost. Not when there is no home to back to. The moons carry on and leave Bastion to his well deserved rest. They left the man and his liger reflecting on the darkened streaks that stained the pure snow of the mountainside, and the dead silence that rose up through rocks that used to sing of home, and family.

    Once, not long ago, there was not a single song Ayal could not recall. Not a scrap of parchment he could not call eagerly to mind. His mind was the sharpest of blades, tempered by survival and alloyed with his liger, Zlabia's magic. But standing there, looking out across a home destroyed, the book of his mind shattered, the wind seemed to have blown away the scraps, and try as he might to grasp at them they always fluttered just out of reach. Once so familiar, warm and benevolence, nothing looked familiar. Even the rocks he and Zlabia had climbed many years ago were all wrong – they were strangers to them, darkened, cracked, and streaked with ash. After weeks of travel to trudge up to your home and hearth and find it utterly vanished beneath a sea of white and black... He felt as if he'd fallen through a hole in the world – some vile trick played by an Ancient. Had it merely been a few weeks he'd been gone, or had it been something akin to a few decades? Was this scrap of banner really the same he and Zlabia had walked past on their last sally? Where had the time it had taken to do this come from? The Keeper Monastery was a culmination of centuries of knowledge, worship, and craftsmanship. Surely it would take more then the span of a butterfly's life to wipe it's existence away so completely.

    He told himself this, over and over. The Keeper tried to deny the truth of his eyes, for he knew eyes, especially his own, to be deceiving. The more he looked, the less he saw, and the more he felt the heavy stone of ugly truth settle in his stomach, more frigid then any of the wintery winds that threatened the sanctuary of his heavy cloak.

    The monastery was gone.

    Neither he, nor his companion could say what had happened – they had been in a hurry, and in their haste had neglected to keep an ear to the wind for news. They didn't know why it was gone. Ayal could hazard an educated guess, but he didn't like any of the explanations that came to mind. For once in his life, the Ancient of Knowledge's servant considered the merits of ignorance, especially when it came to what might have happened to his brothers and sisters. If knowledge was power, he did not look forward to opening that particular powder keg.

    The warm reassuring presence at the back of his mind from the connection he shared with Zlabia was all that kept his focus on track. Pushing doubts aside, Ayal wandered the ruins, using his staff to prod the soft snow before him, ever fearing what it might find. A glint of something on the snow revealed itself to be a piece of metal. Stooping painfully Ayal drew it out, brushing aside the accumulated snow, and nearly dropped it in shock at the melted and warped visage of some terrible – some door's decoration; once meant to be a liger probably, contorted by the flames. It's metal might have been valuable to someone if melted down, but to Ayal it was useless, and he cast it aside. They had to be here... Something must be here.

    Zlabia moved through the snow like a great dark shadow, in opposite direction to her Keeper. With a mighty paw she pushed aside new snow and dark ash, uncovering pieces of the lost – a torn cloth, a blackened necklace, fragments of wood that had once been the doorway she rubbed her head against, an overturned lantern. The liger disregarded them all, pushing aside her own anxiety to keep her and her keeper focused on finding some little scrap overlooked in the chaos. They couldn't all be gone surely... The scents were faded – nothing but the prickle of ice, and the sickening odor of ash stung her nose. Even the smell of death had been washed clean or otherwise stoppered by the snowfall. Everything was stark and wrong. This place should have been alive with life, Zlabia thought, all of nature coming to reclaim the land once used by humans, for Nature is the greatest opportunist, always happy to thrive on the misfortune of others. But no – no one had been here, or if they had, all their traces had been buried. Not even a crow's foot prints to mark the passage of time. The liger paused mid step, paw raised. A jolt of electricity seemed to ripple through the big cat's body, and she let forth a warning rumble. Though too far away to have heard, Ayal went sharp as soon as she did, acutely aware that they may not be as alone as they had surmised.


    ((So proud of this post - but my writing will only go downhill from here on out. XD))
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Hellooo!
My name is Silverhart and I am here to collect pets, draw fanart, and geek out over Eld related things. And all while simultaneously searching for the truth behind the very many excellent questions. I am a stamp enthusiast, a loyal minion to my Lord Sullivan, partaker of muffins, and a shipper of apologies.
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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby SkieNight » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:34 am

The forest along Mount Basion's side was silent, and still, lit by shimmering starlight and the silvery light of Eldemore's twin moons. They danced above the mountain's peak, their light cascading over the land, caressing the trees and rocks of the mountain and reflecting off of the fresh snow. Through this light, two figures moved as phantoms do, steadily and silently. The feline led the way up the mountain, bounding over rocks and trunks easily. Not five steps behind her was a man, her Keeper. He walked carefully over the rocks and dried brush, but made good pace. He had climbed this mountain before.

At some point the trees cleared, if only for a moment, and the man stopped to look up at the stars. He muttered a few of their names under his breath and smiled when he stopped and the silence moved in. It was the not the silence of his home in the Celtlands, the silence that lasted for only a moment and was always backed by a soft laugh or a distant conversation. This silence was true silence, it was not to be disturbed or broken. It was the kind that did not drown the mind but sharpened it. It was not the kind that felt too empty, nor the kind that felt to full of unsaid things, but the kind that settled around you, holding the world in place. James took a breath through his nose and released it through his mouth, watching the gray wisps dissipate into the darkness. His mind was clear and sharp, as it always was on the mountain, and his senses felt heightened. Around him, the cold swirled, nipping at his nose and nibbling on his ears. Or perhaps that was the otterling balancing on his shoulder.

Gweli gave his ear another tug, and James turned his head. His gaze we met with deep amber eyes. The liger blinked, flickered only the tip of her tail, then turned and started back up the mountain. But that was Ciess for you, calm yet impatient, a rolling of emotions under a steady, unmoving frame. He followed the ligress up the mountain. They could have used the path, but that would have ruined their game. Ciess loved to push her Keeper and her Keeper enjoyed the challenge, besides the forest path had always been so much nicer. Ciess reached the top of the rim before James did, but when she stopped he paused. In a sudden flash, her calm excitement shifted to confusion and fear. It rolled off of the liger like the silver light the rolled off of the moons. Frowning, James took the last few steps and stopped beside his partner.

Where the monastery should have been standing, was rubble. If James hadn't known what he was supposed to be looking at he wouldn't have been able to tell where one wall was supposed to start and another was supposed to end. The monastery was gone. His brothers and sister were gone. The Great Ancient of Knowledge was gone. Moving slowly, James started down the path, and then picked his way through the rubble. It felt like a dream. He expected to blink and then open his eyes to find himself staring at the ceiling of the little inn he had spent his last night in. He stepped over a stone and the cracked under his foot, dust and bits breaking off and scattering across other pieces. Beside him, Ciess clambered over the rocks and rubble, her confusion quickly turning to hot rage that didn't roll off of her so much as it exploded from inside of her. James could feel it and Gweli could too. The little otterling gave a squeak before diving into James's pack.

As Ciess made her rounds, looking for clues as to who or what caused this. James bent down, brushed aside some now and rocks, and picked up a piece of fabric. It was deep red and had once belonged to one of the curtains that lined the halls. Whatever had been twisting inside of him came out through that piece, and the hollowness in his chest expanded to encompass his whole being. Shutting his eyes, James held the fabric to his chest, praying to whatever Ancients were listening that someone had lived, anyone had lived. The Keeper would continue. They had to.

A deep grunt from Ciess pulled him from his prayers, and the Keeper looked up. Two other figures were moving towards them. Others may have had to squint to make out the shapes, but with Ciess's magic flowing through him, James could make out the Keeper and his bond easily. He recognized the man almost instantly. After all, James could recognize any members from his order. The other Keeper was not one James was well acquainted with, but it was comforting, if not heartbreaking, to see a familiar face among the wreckage. Perhaps he knew what had transpired while James was away. "Keeper Ayal," James said in greeting, his voice soft, a tone one would use in a library or museum, but it carried over the rubble nonetheless. "I... it's gone." Saying it only made it even more real than it already was, as though proving this was no some nightmare. "They're all gone."
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Hiding under sheets with the news on repeat
'Cause the screams and cries are hard to delete
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?
Laying in bed, trying to empty my head
All these acts of violence ripping this world to shreds
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?

Wish there were words to say to make a change
Oh, the words to sing to end this suffering

Let's start a revolution where we all stand as one
Cause we need to make a change for a new day
We need to be the generation that’ll awaken a solution
Cause we need to make a change
Make a change, make a change for a new day

~MisterWives

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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:57 am

    The white stripe of mane that ran down Zlabia's hackles slowly relaxed as the liger recognized the supple form and movement of one of her own kind. A rare hope bloomed in her chest, painful because it felt so fragile amid all the destruction around them. She didn't need to give the light chuff to alert her Keeper – she knew he was already aware of the newcomer's presence through the connection between them. Without waiting for him, the big feline began loping across the mountainside. Her long strides, coupled with snow made it seem as if she glided toward her target.

    Ayal turned, squinting against the brightness of the moonlit snow. As he watched a hazy figure appeared where once there had been the bridge to the monastery, and the bloom of hope in Zlabia's chest was echoed in his own. They weren't gone. He wanted to run, and yell, and wave his arms like a lunatic – I'm here! Don't forget us! We're here! The snow made that quite impossible though. Carefully setting his feet in his previous steps, Ayal slowly, and calmly made his way up the short slope to the waiting figure, waving his staff in salute.

    Zlabia reached them first. Bounding over the last few feet, her ice-lined whiskers pricked forward in happy greeting for their fellows. But her bounds were cut short with one single look of the other liger's body language. She landed heavily in the snow, half raised. Tense and rigid, the other liger cast about seemingly in confusion, their posture tense. This was not, as Zlabia had supposed, a party of their fellows come to meet them and tell them that they had all escaped. This liger and her Keeper knew no more then they did, and looked just as confused and lost. The flower in her chest withered in the wintery wind, and Ayal could feel her grief wash over him, powerful enough to make him stumble. He squinted again up at the figure, seeing that he was alone.

    Mounting the small ridge the elder Keeper paused to study the figure there, wary of getting close only to see him whisked away by the winds as well. He looked so small in the blank landscape, a spot of ink on a white sheet; if he reached out a hand, Ayal could wipe him away, leaving a smudge on the paper. Was he even certain this figure was truly there? Truly Ayal could see the very real cold breath, and the hands worrying at a piece of cloth, but the silence felt so vast it might not have been anything other then lost ghost; a memory caught in time. Perhaps Ayal himself was the ghost viewing all this from a distant place and time.

    Then the apparition spoke, jarring Ayal back to the land of the living, and the voice was familiar and soft - he hadn't been able to place the man's face with a name until he'd heard that voice. The way he said 'they're all gone' struck Ayal's heart like a heavy blow. The words, though he'd thought them, seemed to gain a new reality once spoken aloud. It was as if the younger man had picked up a rock and thrown it, and shattered a window, though he'd only spoken three words.

    Under normal circumstance the older Keeper might have smiled reassuringly, or offered a clap on the back if he they were particularly close – which they were not. Or he might take the matter into careful consideration and then offer the young Keeper some sagely words; something that would make the young man take pause, and think deeply on the philosophy of life and death, and would make him consider Ayal to be a wise and noble role model to aspire to, only to find out in ten years time that Ayal had lifted the phrase from a children's story book about an otterling.

    But Ayal hadn't the heart for any of that. Reluctant to agree to an absolute and terrible truth he could only muster up a simple phrase. “It would seem so, James.” The words sounded more callous and hoarse then he'd intended. He thought of something else to say, to fill up the hollow that stretched between them, but no words came to him.

    Zlabia padded up to her Keeper, offering a soft growl of greeting to James. He smelled sweetly of pine sap, and leather. She held her jaw out to her Keeper. Without thinking, as if compelled by her gesture he held a hand up under her chin and the liger tenderly placed something there. Drawing his hand away Ayal held it up in front of his face. He turned it this way and that, heart skipping a bit faster, then handed it to James.

    It was the binding of a book. True it was only a fragment, but it was clear that it had once been the cover of some tome, and that meant that, possibly, there were more to be found. And not just the bindings. Out there, buried beneath the snow was perhaps survivors – although they might be long dead poets and writers. Their duties as Keepers of Knowledge was clear.

    “Have Zlabia show you where she found this. I'll search over there.” He gestured toward the part of the mountainside that was the most blackened. The heart of the monastery – the library. Ayal dreaded to think of the younger man stumbling across some trace of whatever horrors happened there, but someone had to look for those precious books, not to mention signs of what had happened here. He was older – he had less nights to fill with nightmares, he reasoned.

    He hesitated, wanting to get on with the search, but lingering to hear the other Keeper's voice; reflexibly clenching and clenching his fist around his staff. What a silly old man he was, holding onto this stick like it was all that was keeping upright. Funny - Ayal had never thought of himself as 'old' before. He waited for a question, half hoping for one he could answer, dreading for another he couldn't. Ayal wasn't exactly sure how to offer comfort in this situation, here on this lonely mountain with the wind howling pitifully around them. He didn't know James all that well, didn't know how the Keeper would react to being put to work combing the ruins of his home in a search that might prove fruitless. His mind scrambled for something meaningful to say, something to remind James of their duty, to express gratitude for his appearance, ask if he had heard any news of this, but everything he thought up only sounded insincere. So he simply shrugged his large shoulders, drawing his cloak closer like a mourning dove huddling against a stiff breeze.
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Hellooo!
My name is Silverhart and I am here to collect pets, draw fanart, and geek out over Eld related things. And all while simultaneously searching for the truth behind the very many excellent questions. I am a stamp enthusiast, a loyal minion to my Lord Sullivan, partaker of muffins, and a shipper of apologies.
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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby SkieNight » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:39 am

It was unclear what James was hoping for when the liger bounded towards them. There had been that small part that believed they were survivors surveying the damages. It was the voice of his father who always spoke for hope and leaned towards the good, a quality James strived for in a world that was slowly crumbling to despair day by day. But that voice was crushed as was James’s belief in any survivors when the liger stopped in its tracks and slumped visibly upon seeing James and Ciess up close. And whatever lightness in Jame’s chest shattered like one his mother’s glass cups. The kind that’s always dropped at family dinners because someone is laughing or yelling and doesn’t notice where their hand is until it's too late.

The brake, or course, was quiet in the snow. Silent like the air around him. Ciess searched her fellow liger’s face, and then the older man for anything that she could consider as answers. She found herself searching the eyes of a broken man, just as lost and just as confused as she and James were. Zlabia and her keeper may have been at the sight longer, but they knew just as much as Ciess and James did. That is to say, very little. Ciess looked over the wreckage again. The rubble, burnt and broken, looked to be both very young and very old. Bathed in the light of the twin moons, it was like something she and James would explore while on their travels. And yet it looked fresh as well, though perhaps that was because the last picture in her or her keepers mind was that of a powerful temple at the top of the mountain, looking down on the land, imposing, impenetrable, a symbol of eternal knowledge and wisdom.

Ciess turned to her keeper, unsure of what to do, where to look, and James, in turn, looked to the older man. He had been her long, both at the ruins and in Eldemore. Surely he had read more books than James had, seen more sights, heard more stories. Surely he knew what to do. But when his words came, it only shattered the glass more, one last stomp on something already fragmented, and James gripped the cloth until his knuckles turned white and he couldn’t tell if his hand was shaking from the cold night air or from the deep emotions that ran through him.

For a moment everything was still, and that silence that James loved so much and craved so deeply was suddenly too wide. Too cold. Even with another before him James felt alone. The silence was overpowering. His normally calm mind turned fast and faster, looking for anything explanation any way to process what had happened, what was happing. How they might be the last two keepers in Eldemore. His thoughts were cut short by Ayal extending a hand, a small piece of something lying across his palm. Carefully, James picked it up and studied the shape, using silvery light to inspect and gather information. It was soft, yet rough to the touch. Light, though it once belonged the something heavy. It was binding of a book, something old. And it made the gap in James’s chest only feel larger.

With a pain expression and brows knit together, James passed back the binding and slipped his own piece of fabric into his bag, listening as the older man gave instructions. Looking from his area of instruction to the damage Ayal wished to investigate himself, James almost opened his mouth, almost argued. But what was there to say? Should his fear of what might be lying beneath the beams and rocks be something to make the decisions of others? Besides, there was bound to be horrors everywhere. It was only a matter of time before the true extent of the disaster be reveled. “I shall let you know if I find anything of interest,” James said softly. Nodding, he looked to the other ligress. “Please, lead the way.” He watched her go and was about the follow but paused thinking that Ayal would speak again. The man only shrugged, and James started off after Zlabia with a final nod because that was all he could manage.

Once at the area of interest, James placed his pack on a larger rock, out of the way, and scanned the area. Upon first glance, it was just snow and rubble. No movement aside from Ciess, who had gone on ahead. The ligress moved about the rocks, peering into cracks and pushing aside small pieces. In the darkness, with only the light of the moons, it looked more like white swirls and patterns were scanning the ruins as opposed to a feline large enough to carry a man.

With a breath of hot air, James let his gaze drift from Ciess to the rubble before him. He began to move the pieces one by one, pushing them to the side. The snow should have been cold against his fingers, and it probably was, but James was so numb he didn’t even take the cold into consideration. He continues to brush snow aside, pulling out bits of parchment and leather, blackened with old ash from a seemingly ancient fire. As he piled bits of books and maps to the side, James tried to find a pattern. Everything was burned and ripped and crumbled. They way the rubble lay it almost looked like a disaster from both the outside and the inside, but it was impossible to tell what.

With the help of Ciess, who was by her keeper’s side in a thought, James pushed aside one of the large boulders in order to create more space to move about in and look in. He turned to the empty hole and stopped. Ciess was staring at it too, dull purple beads, most cracked and chipped, and covered in frost and ash and dust shimmered almost indigo in the moonlight. James only knew the beads were purple because he could picture them against an old friend’s neck and could see her smiling over them. “Start a pile over there,” James instructed Ciess, his own voice breaking under the pressure of his chest and his head. The liger scooped up the beads with a low grunt and started towards an open space where there was little debris.

James watched her go then looked over the rubble. With another breath he let his hands slide down his face, then bent down, and turned over another rock.
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Hiding under sheets with the news on repeat
'Cause the screams and cries are hard to delete
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?
Laying in bed, trying to empty my head
All these acts of violence ripping this world to shreds
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?

Wish there were words to say to make a change
Oh, the words to sing to end this suffering

Let's start a revolution where we all stand as one
Cause we need to make a change for a new day
We need to be the generation that’ll awaken a solution
Cause we need to make a change
Make a change, make a change for a new day

~MisterWives

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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:51 pm

    Zlabia snorted softly at the younger man, her hot breath ruffling his hair. Then without a sound she turned and began pushing her way through the snow once more, carving a path of progress through the destruction. At least it was easy to tell where one had already looked. Large paw prints traced across the mountain face, back and forth, like the path of some errant river. The Sabore ligeress slipped between the large rocks that sat scattered, neither wait for James nor looking to see if he followed. Gathering her poser, she leapt like an elkrin straight up onto a tall rock, dislodging clumps pf snow. Here only did she pause long enough to glance over her shoulder to see James' progress. She chuffed at him to indicate this was the area she'd uncovered the binding.

    Thus began their search. Zlabia kept one ear turned towards Ayal as she picked through the rocks with Ciess and James. They overturned the ruined stone and wooden beams, and quickly gathered around the exposed ground like children looking for bugs. Her yellow eyes followed the two of them closely, watching the pile they had began with the purple beads begin to build up. Lifting a large paw, she delicately prodded through the pile, watched the charred remains crumble to dust at the slightest touch. Here a poet's heartfelt sonnet lost for ever, there perhaps a treatise on the proper care of orchids, or a herbmaster's compendium. Neither had meant more or less to the fires that had raged through here. All had turned to ash. She let out a heavy breath, steam and ash stirred up and away in a dance of life and death, revealing a few precious words under the disintegrating cover. That made the liger's whiskers perk up a bit.

    A distant crash made her ears perk up, and she twisted around as if stung by a Sandwyrm. Ayal sent her a soothing note across their bond.

    Standing back, Ayal surveyed the source of the crash. He'd been trying to remove what looked like a heavy gilded tome from a precarious mound of twisted blackness, when the whole thing shifted and come crashing down. Luckily he'd managed to dodge it, little thanks to his gammy leg, which was now twinging from the unexpected twisting. Ancient's blast it all, that was all he needed. Hefting his staff he probed the debris, hunting for the book, his leg forgotten temporarily in the growing desperation that fueled him. At last he drew it out, and opened it in triumph. But his tremulous happiness was short lived as he saw the pages were so charred as to be beyond hope of saving. It's cover fell off in his hands; it's pages crumbled to dust at his slightest touch – still he could not leave it on the mountain face alone among the dead. It seemed to whimper and beg for a hand to caress it's burned body, even as the hand that did so peeled away a bit more of it, each gentle stroke a killing blow. He cradled the book to his breast, and wondered if had been an old friend of his that he had once spent many long nights pouring over, or was perhaps a book he hadn't known, and now never would.

    He walked along the ruins of the library, startled at the sight of an upright chair, or a robe – completely intact and flapping merrily in the breeze, as if someone were living just over the next ridge and planned to come back. Wave after wave of eeriness slithered up his spine, and if the Ancient of Shadows herself was using his vertebrae as her personal washboard.

    He dug through the snow and ash with great diligence and care. When he found some remnant of a Keeper of their liger, mostly chips of what he assumed were bones and fangs - he carefully moved it to one side, and covered it over with a patch of snow. His fellow brothers and sisters would not thank him for forgetting his first duty to Cerdiwen. And so it was that while uncovering a particularly gruesome looking liger skull, large enough that it could have easily swallowed a sea serval whole and still had room for dessert, Ayal realized it was not a charred remain at all. It was the old fossil that had sat in a corner of the library that the acolytes had so enjoyed putting ridiculous hats on. It looked as if the eye socket had broken, as had the jaw. Ayal could almost smile as he recalled an episode from his youth when some of the youngest of their order would hide their least favorite foods inside the fossil's mouth, and so avoid being scolded for not eating their vegetables.

    It was far too large and heavy to lug back down the mountain, and in any case it had more right to be here then any of them. He (or she; as no one ever could decipher if it was male or female) would make a good guardian of this place. Sighing, Ayal gave the old skull a fond pat before he turned away – and accidentally kicked the skull's jaw as he did so. There was a crack as a stone tooth broke off, causing Ayal to wince. Muttering darkly, he stooped to see if he might be able to prop it back up in place, when something in the gap caught his eye.

    Suddenly he felt a bit dizzy. Heart pounding, he reached inside and felt inside the stone skull's maw, and his fingertips brushed against something. Something that definitely wasn't turnips. “Think I found something!” he shouted, knowing that even if James couldn't hear, Zlabia could. He stood excitedly and brushed off his hands, pondering how to move the heavy skull.
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Hellooo!
My name is Silverhart and I am here to collect pets, draw fanart, and geek out over Eld related things. And all while simultaneously searching for the truth behind the very many excellent questions. I am a stamp enthusiast, a loyal minion to my Lord Sullivan, partaker of muffins, and a shipper of apologies.
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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby SkieNight » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:28 am

On one side of the small trio – made up of James, Ciess, and Zlabia – the pile of salvageables, or almost salvageables, grew. On the other side, the debris began to pile up, turning the pristine silvery snow black and gray with left over ash and bits of dust. Salvaging was hard. It wasn’t so much the labor, after all, James was a traveler. In the past, he’d done many odd jobs for a roof over his head or a warm meal. If anything the labor was nice. The movement kept his hands warmer than his coat could and gave him something to do. It made him feel more useful than just standing around, staring or crying over the destruction.

What made the work hard was when something was found. James pushed back a fractured piece of wood, most likely a part of the beams that held up the high ceilings of the monastery, and stopped. He knelt, brushed aside some of the dirty snow and stared at the melted pieces of something. He was tempted to say a necklace or a handful of necklaces, but the objects were so burned, so molded together that identifying them was impossible. They were metal of some kind, that was all James could tell, and yet they still caused his heart to twist. The clump of scrap, rough against his fingers, used to be a precious object treasured by its owners. But now it couldn’t even be identified. It was meaningless. Still, James set it aside with the other salvageables. Perhaps Ayal would be able to identify the object.

What James was not ready for was the physical leftovers of his fellow keepers and ligers. He should have expected it at some point. In fact, part of him knew that it was only a matter of time before one of them, either himself or Ayal, stumbled upon a skeleton. As much as James wished that they all got away and escaped from whatever disaster, whatever monster caused this, the logical part of him knew that at least one person had to have died. Not everyone could have run. Whoever attacked the monastery probably trapped at least a handful of keepers inside its wall. James couldn’t explain it but he knew that this destruction was not caused naturally but by something or someone, though James couldn’t begin to guess who or what.

Still, when he pushed aside another beam and his gaze fluttered down to land on a hand, a skeleton really, clenched around another object lost to whatever flames had swept through everything stilled. The moonlight and starlight hung freely in the air. The light breeze that fluttered around the mountain paused. And the night felt cold, or colder than it had been. Colder than James had noticed at least. For a moment he just stared. What was he to do? A burial was needed, James realized, but at the same time, he attention was called elsewhere. Should he leave the skeleton here? Later. He could have to come back later, once he spoke to Ayal.

The realization further broke his heart in a way James hadn’t known was possible. For a moment, the Keeper bowed his head again and sent off the souls of those lost with a quick prayer, that wasn’t adequate at all but would have to do. For now, it was all he could do. He prayed the Ancients understood.

So focused on his thoughts and prayer, James didn’t hear Ayal’s call from across the rubble. Ciess, of course, did. The ligress had paused in her work to pad to her Keeper, resting her head against his thigh. Though he made no effort to acknowledge her presence she was sure he knew she was there. If he didn’t feel her touch physically, he certainly felt it across their bond. When Ayal called, Ciess lifted her head and a second later James’ eyes fluttered open and glanced to his bondmate. The liger gave a small flick of the end of her flowing tail, which seemed more like a whip in the air, then turned and started back through the snow, James following her steps.

When they arrived among the rubble of the library James paused for a moment. He was brought back to the time when its doors were first opened to him, right after he had finished his training and passed his exams. The memory itself took his breath away. The vastness of room and the collection. The quiet and comfort that place had brought him. The wisdom of all the tomes and books. And now it was gone. The building, the room, the atmosphere, the books. For a second, James almost hated whoever had done this.

He turned his attention to Ayal. “What did you find?” He asked, only knowing why the older keeper called him over though Ciess and what the Tribal ligress had heard. James looked past his fellow keeper and to the skull, a bit chipped in places, but tall and imposing nonetheless. The ghost of a smile passed over James’ lips. It hovered there for a second then was blown away by the wind.

Taking a small step forward, James crouched and peered into the mouth, past Ayal’s hand. His breath still. He reached his own hand in the skull without much thought and pulled out a great book, one most would not think would be stuffed inside the mouth of an ancient liger. The History and Lore of Eldemore, one of James’ favorite titles, and one that was no longer printed. James had never thought he’d see the book again. It was a bit scorched, half the front and back covers were ashy and grimy to the touch. But James held it and let his thumb ruffle the pages without fear that they were fall apart in his hand. He lifted his gaze from the title to Ayal. “What else is in there?”
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Hiding under sheets with the news on repeat
'Cause the screams and cries are hard to delete
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?
Laying in bed, trying to empty my head
All these acts of violence ripping this world to shreds
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?

Wish there were words to say to make a change
Oh, the words to sing to end this suffering

Let's start a revolution where we all stand as one
Cause we need to make a change for a new day
We need to be the generation that’ll awaken a solution
Cause we need to make a change
Make a change, make a change for a new day

~MisterWives

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SkieNight
 
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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:18 pm

    Zlabia took off at a steady trot to meet her Keeper, being sure that James and Ciess knew to follow. When they reached Ayal, she saw the looming, dark form of a giant liger skull, frozen into stone by one of Time's tricks. She sniffed at it curiously, wiping off the thin layer of snow and ash that had accumulated on it. It was imposing to think of a liger growing quite that large. Zlabia liked to think the beast's head had become so inflated that it had fallen over and died – a reminder to keep one's ego always in check, least your giant skull end up as a giant hat rack. She rumbled deep in her throat at the familiar sight, which marked this dark patch of ground as the library, once a favorite haunt of her and her Keeper. Bowing her head she rubbed her cheek and shoulders against the old skull, carefully of course. The liger spread her scent on the landmark thoroughly. Leaving a message to any passing creature: We were here. Ah, the ligeress hoped whoever did this to her beloved brothers and sisters found this skull and smelled her scent and feared for their life. For fear is what they should be feeling – fear that they had not succeeded, and that the Keepers remained strong and defiant and wise. Let them tremble to think of what they might do.

    When she was finished, Zlabia padded over to headbutt her Keeper in the chest, and rub a bit of scent off on him too. Just so no one got ant bright ideas about taking him away from her. Ayal returned the affection with a scratch behind her ears, before returning his gaze to the young Keeper. He caught sight of a wistful smile on James' face before it fluttered away like a startled Chillawing. Ayal stepped back with Zlabia, allowing the younger Keeper to probe inside the long dead beast's mouth. His heart beat against his chest, a dozen fluttering wings against his rib cage, when James pulled out a beautiful book. At least, it was beautiful to Ayal, despite it's heavy charring, as all the pages appeared intact. Watching the young Keeper leaf through the yellowed pages was a sight he though he'd never get to see again. A heavy knot that he'd unknowingly been carrying in his chest seemed to undo itself a little.

    “I think old Skull-face here is harboring secrets from us.” He wrapped a hand around the one intact zygomatic arch that would've supported the cheek muscles, feeling how fragile the thin fossilized bone was there, and tried to look inside to see if there were any more. Strange how something so seemingly solid could turn so fragile. Still it had survived the fire and destruction somehow, and more then that. It had served as a treasure horde, a protector against the flames for that book. There wasn't a doubt in Ayal's mind that had been just someone's intention, and he wondered at the magic of it's survival. Perhaps it was magic that had been at play.

    He frowned at the eye socket caked over with solid rock in response to James' query. There was no way to get the books out through that method, if in fact there was more there. “Can you reach anything else?” The thought that the liger skull might contain a stash of books was perhaps too much to hope for. However, it didn't stop Ayal from feeling as he did whenever he found himself in old, dusty places that might harbor buried treasures, as if he were once again ten years old and stumbling across some abandoned cave. He'd always fantasized about finding caves with hidden bandit or pirate treasure. It wasn't until he was older that he learned that no one put anything worth hiding inside of caves. That was the first place everyone looked. Fossilized liger skulls however...

    Ayal paced around the skull looking for another way in. Aside from a few tiny gaps (big enough to stuff turnips into no doubt), and the broken tooth it might as well have been a stone tomb. He rubbed his chin, as he paced considering. Even if the jaw were in two separate pieces it seemed unlikely that the two of them could lift it on raw strength alone. There had to be another way, a faster way, it was just a matter of puzzling it out. “Have you any idea, brother? Sisters?” he addressed James and the ligers.
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Hellooo!
My name is Silverhart and I am here to collect pets, draw fanart, and geek out over Eld related things. And all while simultaneously searching for the truth behind the very many excellent questions. I am a stamp enthusiast, a loyal minion to my Lord Sullivan, partaker of muffins, and a shipper of apologies.
Eldemore Fanfiction ~ Current Project ~ Deviantart
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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby SkieNight » Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:42 pm

With only as much force as he dared, James let his hand run over the cover of the giant book. His palm came back spotted with ash, but the cover remained dark and stained by past flames. The younger keeper suddenly found himself wishing that he had any knowledge in bookbinding. That, however, had not been one of his father’s many skills and was therefore not something James had ever had formal training in. Especially, when it came restorative binding for seemingly ancient titles. After a few more tries, James’ hand was blackened, but the book was not any clearer than it had been when he found it.

He looked up from the book to the skull embedded almost seamlessly into the stone. The skull itself looked untouched by fire. Ashy, perhaps, but clean and sharp as it always was. The question James wanted to inquire about was how the skull had remained so pristine amongst so much destruction. Had no one noticed it? Had the Ancient of Luck smiled down on the skull for one reason or another? Or was some kind of magic fixed into the bone or stone itself. The only thing that seemed to explain the book, and whatever else was inside the stone, would be magic, but in all of James’ reading, he couldn’t think of what possible power would protect bone from any kind of flames. And if it was magic, why had the skull been treated with it but not the rest of the monastery? Why did the rest of the temple burn?

What was almost as puzzling as the rest of this was that the skull had been used to protect objects. A book for one, that had been easy to pull out of the skull, but the other objects were far back and didn’t appear as flat as the book James had just grabbed. They were also so far back in the skull, James wasn’t sure he or Ayal would be able to reach them unless the mouth was opened by a fair amount.

While James clutched book Ciess gave it a careful sniff, as though the ligress didn’t fully trust that is had been left by some of her own brothers and sisters. Though is smelled heavily of flames and leather, there was something else, something richer and warmer that made the liger grumble in her chest because it was home and she couldn’t quite put that into words. As James continued to stare, she turned her attention to the skull. She sniffed it as well just before Zlabia left her scent, then rubbed her cheek against the lower jaw of the skull as her own reminder.

Ciess flicked an ear towards Ayal when he spoke, her eyes still trained on the large skull. Had the liger ever been alive during her time, she figured it would have been intimidating. Even now, there was something imposing about the skull. Ciess puffed her chest at the thought, raised her head, then spotted the hole that must have once been the nose and the nasal passage. Drawing near to the skull once more, Ciess sat back on her rear legs and stood up, using the skull to draw herself up. She peered into the hole left by the nasal passage then, very carefully, stuck one large paw through the hole. She couldn’t get very far before the angle became uncomfortable, but the idea was there. She still couldn’t reach anything in the back, her legs weren’t nearly long enough.

Removing her paw Ciess plopped back down with a huff. James patted the side of her neck, running his hands through the ridge of fur down her neck. Had the skull been free of stone he would have suggested going through the opened back of the skull. At a time like this, James wished he knew of a humming bumble or a glasswork dragon he could call on. “Seems as though this is a challenging riddle to crack,” James sighed.

Gweli must have crawled out of his bag at some point while he was looking at the book, because the pink and white otterling gave a small chirp and jumped from his shoulder to his book, to Ciess’s back. The liger didn’t so much as blink as the otterling raced across her neck and stopped on her head. In fact, Ciess took a few steps to close the gap and allow the small creature to jump to the skull. Gweli scampered up the large cheek, using the mandibles and holes to hoist herself up to the open nasal cavity, and then with another squeak slipped through the hole of the nose and vanished inside the skull.

James almost laughed, though that felt rude at a place with unburied dead and as much ruin as there was. But a small, fond smile fluttered on his lips, no doubt full of bitterness and sadness as well, and possibly coldness. Even with his thick coat and strong shoes, the chill of the night began to settle into his bones. It was matched only be the cold sadness that had already settled in his chest. A warm meal and a roof over his head would ease off the nip and bite in his limbs, but it would be a long while before the ice in his chest melted. James sighed.

“Gweli, have you found anything?” He asked when the otterling hadn’t shown her face for a while. A squeak echoed from inside the skull, and a second later a head popped up out of the nasal cavity. With a small huff, the otterling clamored up awkwardly, as though being pulled down by something much heavier than herself. When she made it to a perch on the bone, she held up with her paws and her two-tipped tail, a rusty looking box, covered in ash and cobweb, by the looks of it.

James blinked then looked to Ayal. “Would you like to the do the honors, brother?”
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Hiding under sheets with the news on repeat
'Cause the screams and cries are hard to delete
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?
Laying in bed, trying to empty my head
All these acts of violence ripping this world to shreds
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?

Wish there were words to say to make a change
Oh, the words to sing to end this suffering

Let's start a revolution where we all stand as one
Cause we need to make a change for a new day
We need to be the generation that’ll awaken a solution
Cause we need to make a change
Make a change, make a change for a new day

~MisterWives

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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SkieNight
 
Posts: 5493
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:38 am

Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:54 pm

    The wind clawed at Ayal's cloak for his attention, but the older Keeper paid no mind. His eyes were fixed on the younger man and his companions. The quick eyes watched the otterling pop up from seemingly nowhere and leap and twist about, jumping from book to liger, and into the skull. Ayal tried to force a smile, as it seemed an appropriate reaction to the gambols of one the little sea dogs, but his lips dried by the cold and the wind, cracked painfully when he tried, so he let them go slack again. It was growing more and more bitter. The longer they stayed the more the warmth and happiness that had once infused the atmosphere seemed to be sucked away. His liger pushed her large shaggy head under his arm and Ayal let it rest there.

    Seeing the little creature disappear into the skull made his heart give a flutter of excitement, as if they were on the verge of uncovering a great and secret treasure. “What luck that you made such a little friend,” Ayal commented almost absentmindedly, anything to break the tense silence as they waited for the otterling to resurface. Of all the creatures of Eldemore, Ayal had only found himself attached to one – Zlabia, though he knew countless of the monks, both young and old had had penchants for smuggling all sorts of odd creatures into the monastery. Now Zlabia stared intently at where the otterling had disappeared, eyes bright and shining. Anyone who wasn't familiar with the big cats would probably think she was contemplating making the creature her next snack. Instead her heart hungered, as did Ayal's for whatever secrets might lie withing the ancient liger's skull.

    The liger huffed when Gweli popped out of the top like a jackalope from it's warren, resisting the sudden instinct to give it a good swat with her paw for fun. Instead she placed her two great paws up on the fossil and thrust her muzzle towards the box. Her curiosity earned her a nose full of soot and webs and she sneezed loudly overturning the box into the snow. Ayal jumped at the sound, his grip tightening on his staff. It had been so sudden and sharp after all the silence, shattering it as easily as a stone thrown through glass, and leaving just as much destruction in it's wake.

    As Zlabia shook her head to clear it, her Keeper stooped to retrieve the overturned box. It was not overly large, but it was surprisingly heavy. Ayal leaned his staff against the liger skull before hefting it up. He turned it this way and that, examining it's metal exterior. Strange inscriptions and odd lines spanned it's surface, most of them in the early stages of rust. As he continued to turn it over, he muttered to himself. “Odd little thing. Looks like a puzzle box of some kind.” He tried to move one of the pieces, but it was stuck fast. There was no use forcing it and risking the destruction of the writings, not with box now safe in their hands. It wasn't what he'd been hoping for and he had to admit to a pang of disappointment at it's unwillingness to give up it's secrets. “Well, they never said anything worthwhile was easy, did they lad?” Then, nodding at the otterling, “A great find. Thank you.” He tried to sound happy for the otterling's discovery, to cheer them all up, but he was afraid his voice betrayed his despondency. “Was there anything else in there?” he asked, hoping the otterling might have unearthed more books. If he was being honest with himself he had been holding out hope that the skull would give up an entire stash of unharmed book and scrolls. Now that he had that hope dashed, his interest in the little box was only of mild curiosity. Ayal yielded the puzzle box to the young man's examination. It did not require his immediate attention. Later, after they had the books stashed safely away, he would take a closer look at it and perhaps find something. Already he was feeling the cold start to settle in his bones from standing still so long. He stamped his feet, somewhat impatiently to help dispel the chill and began looking about for the next place to search.
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Hellooo!
My name is Silverhart and I am here to collect pets, draw fanart, and geek out over Eld related things. And all while simultaneously searching for the truth behind the very many excellent questions. I am a stamp enthusiast, a loyal minion to my Lord Sullivan, partaker of muffins, and a shipper of apologies.
Eldemore Fanfiction ~ Current Project ~ Deviantart
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Silverhart
 
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