Ysharra/Elanthian Rhapsody

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The lilting tones of her friends' conversation behind her drifted into a susurrus, and then into silence as Ysharra gained the Inn's private lounge, where she often brought her nights to a close. Within a few moments, she had the assistance of one of Silvergate's ever-present and remarkably circumspect servants in removing her blood-soaked scale armor. She whispered a few warnings to him as she jerked off her morion's coif and placed it alongside the gambeson for a thorough cleaning.

"Use gloves. Thick ones. Thank you, that's all."

Left alone again, the ranger reached for some of the honeyed bread left on the sideboard, and walked through the arch leading to the Inn's gardens, crumbling the loaf into the grass for Munin, as her thoughts ran back to tonight's storms. The weather was clearing, the purple clouds drifting apart to reveal The Guardian, an ironic emblem, all things considered.

For many weeks her thoughts had drifted to the two men most divided by the Kestrel conflicts, to Cyph and his pursuer, Carenos. Despite their enmity, she saw dimension in both of their drives, as in Cyph's lack of control over his elemental nature. And Carenos, well, her Ally had his revenge, and had in the bargain made both himself and the young Kestrel into avatars for the Lord of Sorrows. And tonight, after weeks of asking, she had been able to see one of them. Yet another chapter in her book of ashes, she added bitterly to the memory of excitement over finally being led to the Brass Tower with her company.

All the way there, she had thought of her questions, about what Carenos knew about the Kestrels, as he had hinted following being shot at his trial. Conversation with her companions hinged upon that, all of them going over what they already knew and theorizing what any of it could implicate or explain. Beyond all of that, though, ran her undercurrent of hope- that perhaps she might find some way to rid him of the Long Suffering, take him east to the elves, where he could heal and be safe from the Hall and the Landing authorities both.

All those musings, of curiosity and compassion, changed when she saw what was left of Carenos on the dungeon floor. She had gone to her knees to examine him, and the smell of his own waste and blood nearly flung her back, aided by the gibbering squeals of pain and mad laughter coming from the man's wasted frame.

The ranger slips further into her recollection, while reaching down into the soil of the garden with her spiritual magic, molding them both into the Wall of Thorns.

Carenos clasps his arms around his knees and rocks back and forth.

You say, "Finish what you were going to say to us, that night."

You say, "And if your Suffering needs to close, we at hand can do that for you."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Not his..not his..."

Carenos feverishly smears blood along a wall, before breaking out in a maniacial laughter.

Carenos hoarsely says†, "All along...all along..."

Carenos begins to smear blood on the wall, drawing two circles, over and over and over and over and over.

Carenos draws more in blood, circle, circle, circle, circle. After awhile, they begin to look like two eyes.

Carenos hoarsely says, "Her eyes her eyes her eyes...never saw..never saw...not his not his not his..."

You say, "Last you muttered away to us after being shot we assumed you meant that Cyph was not Reannah's son."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Burned them...he did...he did...he did...came to kill him...kill him...kill him..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Stretch his suffering..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Suffering...suffering..."

You say, "Yes. You both are."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Not him not him not him.."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Her her her her her...."

Speaking to Carenos, you say, "Your dealings with the Kestrels has a body count and a rather staggering sacrifice. Those have power. Make use of it, now."

Carenos begins to keep drawing circles on the wall, over and over and over.

Carenos hoarsely says, "She is not his...not his not his not his...."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Blood of shadow shadow shadow..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "The veil veil veil veil..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Echoed echoed echoed...in mind mind mind...."

Carenos hoarsely says, "The talon..."

Carenos yells, "THE TALON!"

Carenos hoarsely says, "The glow the glow the glow..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "I saw it saw it saw it..."

Carenos claws at his neck.

Outside, with the small crowd, someone throws a handful of blue powder at the guard watching the steps. He sneezes, and begins to yawn...

You ask, "Carenos, do you wish release, or is the Suffering still bringing you closer to Him?"

You say, "Speak now, or I will have no choice but to leave you here."

Carenos hoarsely says, "He has it...has it...has it...."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Not his not his not his..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "My girls...my girls..my girls..."

Kayse's group just arrived (Including herself, Shinann and Stormyrain.)

You quietly whisper to Carenos, "Too late, then."

Carenos begins to feverishly draw on the wall with blood, making circle after circle after circle.

Carenos begins to chew on the side of his mouth, where the gash and wound already exist.

You quietly whisper to Carenos, "If you're done, I want nothing more than to give you peace. I don't care about your story. My curiosity is not as vital as you rejoining your daughters."

Carenos hoarsely says, "End it..end it...end it..."

You quietly whisper to Carenos, "You are my Ally. I will slay you in front of all of them and damn the consequences, if you wish it."

Carenos hoarsely says, "My girls...my girls..."

You say, "You all should leave."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Blood of the shadow..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Not his...not his...not his..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Should have seen...seen...seen..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "The eyes eyes eyes eyes eyssyeeysyes...."

You say, "Let me help my compatriot."

You say, "The only way he has left."

Cruxophim suddenly fades into view.

Cruxophim affably greets, "Good evening, all."

Speaking to Cruxophim, Stormyrain asks, "How much longer do you plan on keeping this man?"

Speaking to Cruxophim, Stormyrain says, "Look at him, this is not right."

Speaking slowly to you, Cruxophim inquires, "Are you suggesting that we murder him?"

You say, "He wishes it."

You ask, "And I have no other solution for him. Do you? Do any of you?"

Cruxophim glances appraisingly at some blood stains that are smeared all over the walls of the tower and seem to be a obscure mix of drawings and words.

Speaking calmly to you, Cruxophim answers, "Not at present, but... nothing is forever."

You quietly whisper to Carenos, "Nod to me. Nod to me if you want to join your daughters. I would end your Suffering, and hope that He lets you go, as well."

Carenos nods.

Carenos nods.

Carenos nods.

Carenos clasps his arms around his knees and rocks back and forth.

You ask, "Cruxophim, Captains, do you release the prisoner from his sentence? Which he never got, anyway?"

Carenos begins to draw tiny little figures, red crooked lines all forged from his blood. He begin to draw lines connecting some and not others.

Carenos hoarsely says, "Not his not his not his..."

Speaking surreptitiously to Stormyrain, Cruxophim remarks, "It's possible he has more information. Are you quite sure you want to be hasty about this?"

Carenos draws four figures on the ground in blood. Two at the top, two at the bottom. One line connects the first, to two at the bottom. Another line connects the other top, to only one of the bottom figures.

Carenos hoarsely says, "End it...end it...end."

You think to your companion, "I just wanted to get him away from here. I'm afraid he doesn't have whatever these people want and they'll keep him like this out of some...misdirected charity."

(Out of character note: After the nods and throughout this questions, Ysharra tries to Spikethorn him, and then upon failing that, to fog away with him, sadly, both spells are prevented by the location. Cruxophim sends a guard to ask for Judge Renpaw's thoughts on the matter.)

A guard arrives, "Mayor, the Judge is asleep. I have no updated information on this.

Cruxophim wryly notes, "Well, thank you for trying. Good work."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Agony...agony...agony..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Endless...endless..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "End me..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Endless end me."

You slip a hand to the hidden suede wrist sheath in your sleeve, deftly retrieving your ora-tipped dagger.

Stormyrain says, "There is nothing I can do for his agony. Had it been the Shadow in his mind--I could have mayhaps helped."

Speaking to Stormyrain, you say, "I think we know there's only one thing for what is happening to him."

Cruxophim absently wonders, "Perhaps we could severe his nerve endings to prevent the pain from... well, that would likely result in lasting damage."

You say, "I'm a Mularosian and I've watched him long enough to not care what information he has or what he's done."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Wants it...wants it..."

You say, "It's time to let him go."

Speaking firmly to you, Cruxophim states, "No."

Speaking to you, Stormyrain says, "Jastev guide your path."

Shinann says, "I think he should be released."

Cruxophim curiously inquires, "Is this a mercy, or a convenience?"

Speaking to Cruxophim, Stormyrain says, "I have no desire to interrupt this prayer session. The man is clearly in need of the prayer of his brethern."

Speaking to Stormyrain, you say, "There is no blessing I can offer you in return that would be appropriate."

Carenos begins to draw circles in blood, then more circles, and circles and circles.

Speaking to Stormyrain, you say, "So I'll just say thank you."

Carenos hoarsely says, "My girls..my girls...the flames..."

Carenos sobs.

Stormyrain whispers, "May your dagger strike true and quickly."

Carenos laughs!

You quietly whisper to Cruxophim, "No?"

Speaking seriously to you, Cruxophim vows, "One week. One week to pursue the proper channels, and see if there is anything we can do for him. Does that sound amenable? Not ideal, I know, but killing him as a mercy is rather permanent."

Speaking to Cruxophim, you ask, "He's my Ally, and he asked me to come here. This is what I have to leave behind?"

Carenos hoarsely says, "Endless...end it...endless...end it..."

You ask, "Some stupid questions about Kestrels I can barely stand anyway?"

You think to yourself, "Ah, sweet Crux, I love you well, but you ought to know by now I don't do what I'm told."

Carenos hoarsely says, "End.end...end..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Endless end it..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Endless end it.."

Carenos clasps his arms around his knees and rocks back and forth.

Carenos hoarsely says, "My...my girls..."

Carenos looks up for a moment, as if with a measure of clarity, his eyes watching something, or someone, move unseen across the tower.

Speaking reluctantly to you, Cruxophim speculates, "It's possible we could perform something akin to a lobotomy of the nervous system, to eliminate the pain. However.... he would never feel anything again, and be possibly paralyzed."

Carenos hoarsely says, "No no....turn away..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Do not see me....do not see me..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Turn...now listen..turn turn..."

Carenos nods to something or someone unseen.

Carenos nods to something or someone unseen. He then pauses for a moment, and the clarity flees him, and he begins to chew on his own lips.

You say, "You can paralyze him, let him suffer here on the floor, for a week or more..."

You ask, "And we can't just...let him go as he wishes?"

Xorus indifferently says, "The last time I saw his girls they were akin to fire phantoms. If he wishes to join them, he should be burned to death."

(ahahahahaha, I love Xorus.)

Carenos screams!

Carenos screams!

Kayse whispers, "What do you wish?"

You quietly whisper to Kayse, "I wish to let him go. I don't care about the consequence, but I can't get him out of here without Cruxophim stopping me."

Kayse whispers, "I have no way to help him besides putting a dagger to his throat."

You think to yourself, "And I am much closer...metaphorically and physically than Kayse. He is my Ally."

Cruxophim eyes you with a stern expression, his dark sclera reduced to mere slits.

(At this point Everyone Else (TM) shows up.)

Cruxophim glances expectantly at you.

Carenos clasps his arms around his knees and rocks back and forth.

Kayse surreptitiously glances at you.

Carenos looks up for a moment, as if with a measure of clarity, his eyes watching something, or someone, move unseen across the tower.

(Cruxophim places a hand on Carenos, and begins chanting softly in a low gutteral tone.)

Carenos hoarsely says, "No...no do not look again..."

Cryheart asks, "What is going on?"

You say, "We're having a moment."

Cruxophim calmly announces, "This man is suffering beyond measure, beyond even comprehension."

Carenos begins to draw on the wall again, blood covering his palms. He draws in circles, over and over and over.

Carenos hoarsely says, "The eyes eyes eyes eyes eyes..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Not his his his his his...."

Carenos hoarsely says, "Blood of the shadow shadow shadow....eyes eyes eyes eyes..."

You quietly whisper to Carenos, "You have to take a breath, and look at me. Tell me with a clear voice this is what you want."

Carenos crawls towards Ysharra, his bloodied chains dragging loudly.

Carenos grabs at Ysharra's mesh skirt, "...endless end it...endless end it..."

(Ysharra lays her hand down on Carenos' brow, the broken fingers smearing yet more scarlet on his hopelessly scarred face.)

Carenos hoarsely says, "My girls...girls...girls..."

Carenos hoarsely says, "The flames...the flames..."

You say, "I have two daughters, too."

(Ysharra slips the long dagger across Carenos' throat, holding his shoulders firmly against the stroke, until the blood starts to well under them both.)

Shinann slowly empties her lungs.

Carenos coughs.

Cruxophim wearily declares, "He has suffered far too long."

You say, "Shh."

Carenos begins to shake violently in Ysharra's grasp, gurgling loudly as the blood pours over her dagger and coats his torso and the floor.

You quietly whisper to Carenos, "See them? They are beautiful."

Carenos twists, but tries hard to settle himself. His knees slip in the pooling blood, and he falls further back into Ysharra's grip, as if cradled like a child.

(Kayse's eyes scan over Ysharra and Carenos, her face impassive as she watches the blood spill onto the floor.)

(Ysharra pulls Carenos up into her curled arm, and nods slowly. "Beautiful.")

You quietly whisper to Carenos, "I'm so sorry."

Stormyrain quietly murmurs, "May they meet you on the other side."

Carenos reaches with one bloodied hand, gripping Ysharra's gambeson. He stares at her for a long moment, while the blood still flows freely from his neck.

(Cruxophim lays a hand on Carenos and chants softly in a low, gutteral tone, and the bleeding seems expedited.)

Carenos raspily says, "Endless..."

Ysharra smiles down at Carenos and drops her dagger back down, using her other hand to pull him into her embrace. "Let it go. They're waiting for you."

Carenos raspily says, "My....girls..."

Speaking quietly to Carenos, Hapenlok says, "They'll be there to meet you when you cross the Gate."

Speaking to Carenos, you say, "I don't know what lies beyond for you and your daughters. But Gosaena welcomes all who come to her. May you find the peace that eluded you here."

You quietly whisper to Carenos, "I wish I could have saved you."

Carenos falls deep into Ysharra, crumbling almost, the blood slowing from his wound. He himself reaches his arms out, as if cradling something, or someone unseen. His death comes, and his throat rattles in its wake, but his arms remained curled around the unseen.

Speaking to Carenos, you say, "...so sorry."

Cruxophim grimly requests, "Guards, physicians... if you could."

(Ysharra reaches down and flicks her fingertips over Carenos' eyes, closing them for good.)

You lean against some blood stains that are smeared all over the walls of the tower and seem to be a obscure mix of drawings and words.

You think to yourself, "Oh, Lord Sorrower, let him go. Let it be for you both, and I...I will repay You. Let him go."

Some militiaman, a few of them pale in the face, lean over and carefully and slowly lift up Carenos bloodied corpse and take him away.

(Ysharra pulls her hands up to her face, letting Carenos' body fall away.)

(What passes next is discussion about loresinging to Carenos' body, which is refused, and then some more debate about what he was trying to say. Ysharra leaves, and has an abortive attempt at suicide.)


The ranger's memories trail off, standing in the courtyard, gazing up at the pale light of Apparea in the Guardian's brow.

"Some bargains are worth making." she muses quietly to her raven. "Carenos made his. Now I have my own."

She glances down at the ground once more, and thinks about her friends, enjoying their tea, likely glad they drug her out of her seeming despair. "Well, you see," she answers silently, "What happened is that I couldn't cast anymore. And, my loves, you don't need to see this."

"Don't look to the cold stars, Ysharra..." she croons to herself, pulling the last few layers of protection away, allowing the writhing wall of brambles to slowly dig into her skin, contracting as it moves. Long, barbed stems constrict across her limbs and throat. "Reach down into the warm, dark soil, and there find your worth."

With that, the clouds dissipate, leaving the thorns to their work.