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Episode 4: Dareth Shiral

6th of Eluviesta

Jeremie had found the infirmary, and he cautiously pushed the door open. The elf inside spun around and gasped when he saw him, and it was clear that he did not know that he was coming. This elf was dressed in red, with archaic designs that, according to the passive memories he now possessed due to Vigilance, appeared to signify healing. 'A nurse or doctor', Jeremie thought as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. The room had many other doors, all of which were closed.

The elf eyed Jeremie. His hair still had blood in it, and there were still small spaces on his face that he'd missed. His armor was dented in some places and covered in dust and dried blood, especially around his arm where armor was missing and roots grew out. The glass in front of his eyes was bent and cracked. While Jeremie didn't quite perceive himself as a scary person, obviously this elf did. "Is Aelita Durgenbora of the Aloten still here?" The Wise Man asked. The elf nodded, motioning over his shoulder at the door behind him with his thumb. Jeremie thanked him and walked past him, opening the door to Aelita's room. The elf grabbed the chair closest to him and collapsed into it.

Behind the door was a long hallway with long, spotless windows. Most were empty, though he finally spotted Aelita in one of them, sleeping soundly. He wanted to barge in, wake her up and thank her, but she'd had a long day and night, so he entered quietly. Jeremie pulled a chair closer to the gurney and looked closely.

Perhaps because of Vigilance, he saw tiny things about her that he hadn't before, or had forgotten. There were still tiny scars on her face from after he'd cast her out, the ones that made her look like she'd fought an animal, and a scar on her ear as if an earring had been brutally ripped out. But most notably was the red glow of her vallaslin.

His mouth twisted when he realized that watching her sleep was creepy, and he looked for something else to do. Luckily Odd entered, and when he saw Jeremie, he dropped the stack of books he carried. "Jeremie!" He said, and he ran forward. Suddenly he stopped. "Gods, what happened to your face?" The Scout looked around and picked up a hand mirror. He examined his own reflection before handing it to Jeremie.

The Wise Man grimaced. He was pale, and he looked like he hadn't slept in weeks. He was perturbed by the blood left, and he removed his spectacles to look at the shattered glass. He hadn't even noticed--which, he realized, was sort of ironic--and he concluded that he likely no longer needed them. Still, Jeremie was fond of them after so many years, and not wearing them felt strange, so he found an empty basket and pushed the glass out. "It's good to see you, Odd." Jeremie said. He sighed in a sympathetic way, and he added, "I understand that the past few hours have been traumatic."

"How much did Edna tell you?" He asked. Jeremie briefed him, and Odd nodded. "That sounds about right... I do feel bad about killing those slavers in such a horrible way, though. But they were horrible people and the world is better off with you in it instead."

Jeremie laughed. "Are we going to kiss now?"

Now Odd laughed. "Ugh!" He cringed as he stuck out his tongue. "I think your cousin might get jealous. Seriously though, glad to have you back, commander." He bent over and started picking up the books he dropped.

Jeremie helped, looking at all of them as he went. He recognized a few, though he wondered why Arlathan was in possession of human books for children. He commented on the ones he knew. "'The Eagle and the Arrow'! That used to be one of my favorites. 'The Lion in Love'? Mother read that to me." He commented. "What else have you brought?"

Odd reluctantly handed him the books. Among them were other fables such as 'the Thief and the House Dog', 'the Laborer and the Nightingale' and 'the Old Hound'. "Why the sudden interest in fables, Odd?"

First Odd looked to Aelita, who continued to sleep soundly. Then he picked the books and placed them on the bedside table. "Let's talk outside." The Scout said. The two boys walked out of the room.

"What is this about, Odd?"

"When... When Aelita decided that she was going to resurrect you, Edna agreed to help, but her motives why... I don't know, I just don't trust her. Anyway, Tamiya, Edna's new apprentice, gave Aelita a book with the most effective ritual for your circumstances inside." Odd looked tired, but he assumed everyone did. He also saw anticipation, regret and shame on his face. "But when Aelita looked at it, she gave it to me."

Jeremie narrowed his eyes. "Why?"

He threw his hands up, holding them there for a moment until he brought them down to his side. "She needed me to read it for her because it was written in the Common. She doesn't know how to read."

At first, Jeremie didn't believe him. Then, he studied the Scout's face. He still had scars left by silver, and yellow splotches were present in his orange eyes. He could see the small, almost unnoticeable point his ears came to, but most obviously, he saw truth in Odd's words. "There's truth in your face," he murmured, and louder he added, "Why didn't she tell me?"

"She seemed ashamed to admit it," Odd reasoned, "I think she hoped that it would never come up."

"Yes, that sounds like her." He agreed. Changing the subject, he explained that he had instructed Laura to bring the rest of the Heroes to Arlathan, since the magical energy that radiated within it would help disguise them from Xana's eyes.

This left Odd in an awkward situation. "Yumi has been kidnapped by Dhaune. She's probably in Maera by now."

Jeremie cursed loudly, and he tried to contact Yumi telepathically. Similarly to William after Dhaune kidnapped him in Falcon's Bridge, he could not establish a connection. "Perhaps Maera blocks out telepathy…?" He wondered, and then channeled Vigilance. The spirit lent him his enhanced field of vision, which extended the power and range of his telepathy. He could sense Odd's fear for his friends, and the faint whispers and growls of the wolf. He could sense the peaceful sleep of his lover, and even the fear of the elf that he'd nearly scared to death.

The Wise Man raised his hands, focusing on his memories of Yumi to try to find her. Eventually he located her, several hundred kilometers beneath the surface. When he established telepathic contact, he gained her heightened sense. Combined with Vigilance, Jeremie mentally constructed a map of Maera. "Yumi, there is an Eluvian in the Kenval estate. Find it and come to Arlathan."

"Jeremie? You're in Arlathan?" Yumi asked. "It doesn't matter; thank you. I'm going to try to break Xana's hold on William first, but I'll meet you there." Jeremie passed on his mental map to Yumi, and though he feared for her life, he wished her luck.

Jeremie and Odd entered the room again, just in time to see Aelita's vallaslin crack.

---

Thankful for the map, though questioning how he'd gotten it, Yumi snuck through the alleyways and back roads of Maera. The roads were lit through mushrooms, and there were pulsating electric roots like those leading to the Factory. Yumi could hear water dripping from stalactites, and she could feel the rough brick become smooth granite as they moved closer to the estate.

"Do you know how to get into the estate without being noticed?" Yumi asked her brother. His eyes looked strange, as if they were fighting the vampirism. She wished that he wouldn't, since that would only make it more painful.

"There's a gate out back, but it's always locked." Hiroki said. "It's not too far away, if you think you can break the lock."

"Where would William be?"

Hiroki shook his head. "No. He's never in the same place twice. I've only ever seen him once down here, and that was after Dhaune kidnapped him."

Yumi cursed, and she examined the map. "I would assume that he might be at the barracks, or near the chamber where I woke up. But it's too dangerous to go back that way." She whispered. "If only we could lure him to us, that would make things easier, but we can't risk drawing attention to ourselves. We're powerful, but no match for a mob." She twisted her face in thought, and then sighed. "I guess we have no choice but to head towards the estate and hope for the best."

She took her brother's hands and continued through the back roads. Eventually he stopped and motioned for the gate closest to them. "This is the garden gate, but it's locked, as always." Hiroki said, and Yumi tested the gate. It was a strong lock but not strong enough. She grabbed the gate and pulled on it, veins popping out on her neck before ripping it off of its hinges.

Hiroki, despite fearful of their vampirism, let out a small cheer as his sister tossed the gate aside like paper. "Jeremie mentioned an eluvian. I don't know why the drow would have one since those roots are more practical, but Xana must have some kind of plan for it." She peered around the corner, checking to make sure that the garden was empty before running for the door.

The inside of the estate was decorated beautifully, with high ceilings and tapestries depicting the Destruction Mother and famous Kenval Matrons. Hiroki led his sister through the labyrinthine halls, and Yumi listened for the slight, almost silent chiming that came from the eluvian. Instead, she heard a familiar voice. She silenced her brother and opened a door.

There, surrounded by hundreds of scrolls on shelves far over Yumi's head, stood William, his back turned to her. Yumi entered on her toes, pushing Hiroki between the wall and a shelf. However, he struggled, not wanting to miss the action once again, and several of the scrolls fell.

William turned, and he locked eyes with the Colonist. Neither moved for a long time, and then William summoned his sword. Yumi searched inside her armor for her fans, snapping them open with a single flick of her wrists. The fallen Vanguard charged, ruthless as ever, and Yumi stepped out of his way, kicking his back.

He stumbled, but didn't fall and while Yumi wondered why he hadn't bothered to find ways to keep his balance he became smoke. Yumi raised her guard, never staying still and rotating to increase her chances of spotting him. She heard him materialize behind her, and she spun on her heel, grabbing his arm before he could bring his sword down upon her.

She shoved his arm away and backed up a step, her eyes glowing more fiercely as she summoned her telekinesis to rip William's sword from his hands. The glow dimmed as she nearly broke his arm, and the dark elf cried out in pain. He tried to turn to smoke again, but Yumi lunged forward and threw him to the ground. William knocked her feet out from under her, and she fell. As he scrambled to his feet Yumi scrambled towards his legs, managing to grab on and pull one leg out from under him just as he regained his footing. Again the dark elf fell, and she climbed over him and grabbed his hair.

She roughly pulled his head up, and she bit his neck. William's eyes closed slowly, and she could sense that he would wake shortly. She hadn't turned him into a vampire—she'd wanted to, but didn't want to risk killing him through the turning, since she could sense that he likely would not have survived. Instead she had made him her servant. He was connected to Yumi, and to a smaller extent Hiroki, and if she ever demanded it, he was subject to her will.

She could sense that he was hers, but she didn't stand up until he opened his eyes and whispered, "Yumi?"

"William!" She called out, helping him to his feet before trapping him in a hug.

"What happened?" He wondered aloud, and he was even more confused when he saw her orange eyes. "What's wrong with your eyes?"

Yumi sighed. "Do you not remember anything?"

"I remember… being attacked by Dhaune. There was… fire and…" He struggled to find the words. "I remember being tortured, and then… I remember nothing else. I'm sorry." He narrowed his eyes. "Don't think that I didn't notice you didn't answer my question."

"I'll explain when we're safe. For now, we have to find the Eluvian and escape to Arlathan." Yumi said, calling Hiroki from the shadows.

"Hiroki?" William questioned, turning to see the Nihonjin boy. The Vanguard looked back to Yumi. "Are we in Maera?" Yumi nodded, but she didn't say anything else.

Hiroki led them through the halls, with William at rear guard to try to convince the slaves and servants that all three belonged. They would have to avoid the more prominent members of House Kenval, but they encountered none.

Yumi stopped and pointed at the door. "I think I hear the Eluvian through here." She said. William opened the door, and they saw Dhaune within, standing alone.

"Oh, no. It would seem as though the prisoners are escaping." Dhaune sighed. She turned around and activated the Eluvian as the three fugitives ran inside. "Where do you intend to go?"

"It doesn't matter; you won't be alive to tell your Matron." Yumi threatened.

Dhaune shook her head. "No, I suppose I won't be. But you don't know how to use the Eluvians, whereas I do." When there was no sound, she added, "Listen, it's two against one, and I've… lost faith in the war. If you don't kill me before you escape, Xana will kill me after you escape. So I want to help you escape, and then I want you to kill me."

William seemed confused. "You want to die?"

She narrowed her eyes. "Yes. Is that so hard to understand?" She folded her arms across her chest. "There are lots of things that you don't remember, William. I'm done fighting." Hiroki impulsively told Dhaune their destination, much to Yumi's chagrin. The general used her magic on the eluvian, and the image changed. "Hiroki, William, emma lath… dareth shiral."

William walked past her nervously, and was the first to enter the eluvian. He seemed fine, and motioned for the other two to follow him. Hiroki ran through, and Yumi walked up to Dhaune. "Good-bye, Dhaune." She said, taking the general's face in her hands. She kissed her, and then killed her with a single snap. Dhaune's body crumpled to the floor, and the Colonist murmured the Elven eulogy as best she could before following the boys.

---

Ulrich met Laura in the dungeon, and he was disturbed by the worried expression on her face. "Are you ready to enter Arlathan?" He asked, and she turned.

"As ready as I'll ever be," She said, looking over her shoulder to him. "How about you?"

"I don't have much choice." Ulrich said.

Laura nodded, and the two faced the Eluivan. Laura took a deep breath and summoned her magic, which activated the mirror. The mirror's image changed, and Laura smiled. "I did it! I actually did it!" Ulrich looked at her, and she flipped her hair over her shoulder. "I mean, of course I did it; did you expect anything less?" She kept her back straight and walked through the Eluvian.

Ulrich followed her, but when they looked around, they realized that they were not in Arlathan. Ulrich had never been to the elvhen capital, but this area was full of mirrors, and around them were tall cliffs and foreign plants. "Where are we?" He asked, looking up at the floating mirrors above them.

"I don't know," Laura said, "but it looks like this is the place where all of the Eluvians meet." She seemed disturbed, but she smiled at Ulrich. "So, we aren't too far from our destination. We just have to find out where the Eluvian leading to Arlathan is."

Ulrich frowned intensely, and Laura looked away. They walked silently, with Laura looking at each Eluvian to try to identify Arlathan's. "Do you know what you're looking for?" Ulrich asked.

She scoffed. "Of course I do!" She rejected the next mirror and next, and then started walking towards the next largest mirror. "That one feels right."

He sighed and followed her, his eyes facing the floating mirrors. One started to shake, and it fell. How it had done so, he had no idea, but he traced its path and screamed. Laura turned in time to watch the mirror crush him.

"Ulrich!" She shouted, running over to the Mercenary. She pushed the shattered pieces of the Eluvian off of him. "Ulrich, are you alright?" She asked as she pulled him out. Blood was coming out of his eyes and mouth, and there were many cuts. There were shards of glass stuck in his skin, but when she tried to touch them, they sank into his skin. The blood vanished, and the cuts healed. "Ulrich?"

His eyes snapped open, his eyes blood red before returning to normal. "Laura!" He shouted. He pushed her away before he looked at the fallen mirror. "I'm fine."

Laura was skeptical, but she couldn't see or sense anything wrong with him. "We should get out of here, before anything else here tries to kill us." She helped him to his feet, and motioned for him to follow her through the eluvian.

---

Jeremie sensed it when his friends all entered Arlathan. Aelita had not yet awoken, but her sleep was growing restless, and he sensed that she would soon wake up. "Odd, will you go find the others and bring them here?" The Scout nodded, and he left the room. Jeremie kept himself occupied until Aelita shot up. Her breath was shallow, and she held her heart. She locked eyes with Jeremie, and she smiled. She jumped out of the gurney and kissed him, holding him as tight as she could.

"Ma vhenan! You're alive!" She cried out. She started sobbing happily, afraid that if she let him go, he would disappear, or die again. Jeremie stroked her hair, whispering into it.

"Thank you, Aelita." He said, and he forced the two apart so they could kiss again. The door opened, and the other Heroes entered, including William. While both Jeremie and Aelita seemed happy to see to see him, William narrowed his eyes. "Well, now that we're all back together, we should discuss our next plan of attack."

"Capital Lyoko is back under our control. With this good news, I can call upon our allies and request reinforcements. In the meantime, my soldiers will continue to liberate nearby towns." Laura said.

"Good. That will really help us." Jeremie encouraged. "So long as we can maintain control of the area, it should be safer for people."

They spoke for a long time, discussing the area where the Eluvians connected and Dhaune's death. They also discussed what happened during the battle, and they explained gently to William what had happened since he was kidnapped. As they spoke, the elf Jeremie had frightened earlier entered. "Aelita Durgenbora? The Hahrenen have called for mien'harel."

There was silence as a look of terror spread across the Outcast's face. "What does that mean?" Ulrich asked.

"Mien'harel means 'call for judgment'." She translated.

"So, this is what? A trial?" Yumi asked. "On what charge?"

Aelita shrugged as she nervously walked out of the room. "I don't know. I won't know until I get there." Outside, Edna and Tamiya stood, waiting for them. When she saw how Edna stood, Aelita removed the flute form of Samahlin from her neck and handed it to her Hahren. Then, the leader of the Aloten led the Heroes towards the center of Arlathan.

The center of Arlathan was located under the dahl'amythal, which was an ancient tree, and likely the last of its kind in Medieuropa. It stood several hundred meters tall, with its pale yellow blossoms swaying gently in the breeze. Despite it still being very late at night, there were still hundreds of elves in the square, waiting anxiously as the teens walked towards the center. Lots of them, especially younger children, were frightened by the humans. William couldn't help but wonder if the city ever slept. Many regal-looking elves waited in the center, and Edna took her place among them. Tamiya motioned for the other Heroes to stand back as Aelita stood alone.

It was unnerving for so many eyes to be focused on her alone. She rubbed at her glowing vallaslin, wondering what it meant. She looked up as the elves in front of her parted way for the King of Elvhenan, Hanal'ghilan Solas, and the Shaman of Arlathan. Aelita took a deep breath in. "I do not know what this is about." She said.

The king waved his hand, but remained silent. One of the Hahren pointed at her friends and shouted, "Look! She's brought more humans into the city!"

Aelita looked at the Heroes. "This is about my friends?" She asked, "I only brought Jeremie and Odd here because—"

"Halam!" King Solas shouted, his voice deep and intimidating. His vallaslin meant 'pride'. He turned to Edna. "This is your former apprentice, Edna?" He asked.

"Yes, my king." She said. "Aelita is a changeling, born to Anthea and Waldo Sarethari, raised by Eleanor and Lowel Tyron."

"So she is not truly one of us anyway!" The first Hahren to speak shouted. Laura rolled her eyes, remembering the idiots of Halamshiral.

King Solas made a nonspecific noise. "Aelita Durgenbora, you stand before the Hahrenen accused of bringing humans into Arlathan—which I don't have to remind you is treason." Aelita visibly shuddered, but she tried to remain calm. Solas looked at Edna. "What say you?"

"I agreed to help Aelita resurrect Jeremie Belpois in exchange for the staff that she carried, a powerful elvhen artifact called Samahlin. She brought Odd Della-Robbia to help her." Edna explained.

"But there are more than just two humans in front of us, Hahren."

Edna seemed flustered. "They are her friends, but they were not part of the vir sulevanan we agreed to." Jeremie tried to step forward to admit he'd called the others to Arlathan, but Tamiya stopped him. Aelita opened her mouth to explain the situation but her voice was overshadowed by the voices of the Hahrenen arguing. Edna was the lone voice advocating in Aelita's favor; the others were arguing for punishment.

The king stood. "Shaman, her vallaslin looks very strange. Why is that?" He asked the elderly woman who had, up until now, been silent.

The Shaman walked towards Aelita, and she examined the changeling very carefully. She held out her hand, which had long dirty fingernails on it, and Aelita cautiously held out her arm. The Shaman rubbed it carefully, examining the glow. "It is vallasdin—the rejection of the blood writing." Aelita had never heard of such a thing, but obviously it must have happened before now. The Shaman explained that vallasdin occurred when a virtue that had earned the elf their vallaslin was rejected—in Aelita's case, she had refused to endure, and instead resurrected her lover. The old elven woman took two steps back, hit the ground with her staff, pointed the tip in Aelita's face and traced along the vallasdin until it had vanished. Aelita's skin was no longer marked with pink, but instead with cuts and bruises that had never before manifested. It was obviously strange and traumatic for poor Aelita—she started rubbing her arm in disbelief, as if she was having a bad dream. She looked back to the Shaman. "You must earn it again, now." She said gruffly.

"So there is nothing in your favor? No noble house, no vallaslin, nothing?" Solas shouted. "Just the word of your former Hahren, who according to everything we know, you got killed in the first place?!"

"It wasn't like that!" Edna shouted out of turn.

Aelita ran forward a few feet. "Am I not able to speak for myself?" She questioned. "Elvhenan means everything to me! I would never—"

Solas waved his hand once more. "Halam sahlin!" He shouted, silencing everyone in the area. He looked to both his sides at the Hahrenen, then to the crowd, and finally at Aelita. "The Hahrenen have called for mien'harel, and I pass it now! Aelita Durgenbora, da'len Aloten, him harellan!" Aelita jumped, and she pulled her arms close to her chest. "Tel garas uth in Arlathan! Mala u'suledin nadas."

"Hanal'ghilan Solas, ir abelas!" Aelita shouted at the top of her lungs.

"Tel'abelas! Dirthara ma, len'alas lath'din." He spat. Aelita struggled to hold back tears. "Leave before the sun rises." The crowd was silent, and Edna shot a sympathetic glance at Aelita. There were tears in her eyes. Aelita finally started sobbing uncontrollably, falling to her knees. Jeremie and Ulrich helped her to her feet, and they left with the eyes of Arlathan focused upon them.

---

7th of Eluviesta

Aelita watched as her friends walked one by one through the Eluvian, prepped to take them to Castle Lyoko. "Aren't you coming?" Yumi asked. She replied that she would shortly, but she wanted one last look at Arlathan before she left. The first, and the last, look at Arlathan was tainted by misery. This was the city that she had waited her whole life to gain entrance to, the place she thought she would finally find a permanent home, and within hours they called her a traitor.

Just as Aelita turned to enter the Eluvian, Tamiya rushed in, out of breath. "Aelita!" She called out. The Southerner elf handed Aelita the flute Samahlin carefully.

"Did Edna send you to give this to me?" Aelita asked.

"Yes." Tamiya nodded. "She said you need it more than her. And, for what it's worth… I'm sorry about what happened at the trial. That was… unfortunate and you deserve better."

Aelita looked at the mirror and then to the young elven girl. She murmured, "Did I really?"

"Yes, you did, really." Tamiya said, holding the Outcast's hand. "Dareth shiral, Aelita."

"Dareth shiral." Aelita said before turning and entering the Eluvian. The magic dispelled without a sound.
Seasons of War Episode 4-Dareth Shiral
*spongebob voice* it took me three days to make that potato salad. THREE DAYS
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Episode 3: Awakening
6th of Eluviesta

When his eyes finally opened, he wasn't in control of his body. His motions were not his own, but they were more precise, more controlled. Everything in his wider range of vision seemed faintly blue, but soon his eyes fell on a mass of energy that faded from bright red to snowy white. He pinned this energy to the wall.

He could hear his voice in his words, but it was muted, passive to the dominant, powerful voice that had taken over everything about him. "Elf. Female. Roughly thirty years of age. Vallaslin meaning 'inevitability.' Scent of magic." Slowly, his vision grew more narrow, and the lights started to fade. "This one recognizes your features." When Jeremie was finally in control, he said without any corruption obvious in his voice, "Edna?"

Edna visibly relaxed when Jeremie released her. She slid down the wall, pulling her knees up as she processed the events. "By the blood of the Creation Father! You scared me half to death!" She cried out. "What in the world did you do?"

Jeremie seemed as confused as the elven Hahren. "I don't know. I'm not even sure where we are." He looked at the dark room. The trees formed warm, sturdy walls, and the branches left a hole in the roof where the sun could shine. The leaves, and much of the walls, had been charred, and there were desiccated corpses in cages. The altar in the center of the room was covered in dry blood. "Where is Capital Lyoko? What happened during the battle?"

Edna didn't seem surprised. "You took quite a hard blow, didn't you? Your skull will be soft for some time." She said, picking up a bucket of water. She dunked a rag into the water. "Here, wash away that blood."

Jeremie took the rag and rubbed his face. His arm felt strange, but so did everything else. It was like his body was stiff after a long sleep. "Was I knocked out?" He asked.

"No, you died." Edna said bluntly.

He froze, dropping the rag. He had died? He didn't remember that. Jeremie tried to look at the elf, instead locking onto his new arm. It was made of roots and branches, a faint light flashing from inside. He tore at it until he found the crystal. His blood had formed veins and was using the crystal as a sort of catalyst. It was a brilliant idea, but still... "I... died? I'm dead?"

Edna shook her head. "No. Aelita resurrected you." She explained. "It required blood sacrifices and a spirit to cleanse the corruption of your soul, but you live." She began to pace. "I suppose that angry glowing thing you were doing was the spirit. Do you know what kind of spirit it is?"

Still in shock, Jeremie tried to calm himself. He could feel the blood in his body, flowing like a river. In that rushing life, he heard, or perhaps felt, a single virtue. "Vigilance." He murmured.

"Fitting." She said flatly. "How do you feel about this?"

"I don't know. I'm alive. Is that not enough?" He shrugged. It would take time to get used to his new condition, but life was definitely better than death, and his new arm gave him a way to study the elves' magic, and perhaps tinker to give it his own spin. Besides, he thought optimistically, a spirit may prove to be a valuable ally.

Edna wasn't impressed. "You would think that you would be angry. Or at least in pain." She folded her arms and leaned against the wall casually. "I studied your corpse before the resurrection. You were killed when rubble crushed your skull." He visibly flinched. Perhaps that was not the best way to segway into a new topic. "How fares your memory?"

"Fine, as far as I can tell. I remember the siege on Capital Lyoko, and I remember… pushing Aelita out of the way as the building fell. Before that… we were talking about my mother." He rubbed his head. His skull was still a little soft from the force of the impact. He was probably lucky that it hadn't flattened his head. "It's strange… I feel like… when I was in the stillness of death I heard my mother calling out my name… I remember being dragged and hidden. I remember her voice, telling me that it wasn't my time…" He laughed half-heartedly, and when he looked up at the elven woman, she could've sworn there were tears in his eyes. "That must sound pretty stupid."

"It doesn't sound stupid at all," She admitted quietly before shaking her head and continuing. "Anyway, you should go find your friends. Odd went to the library. He said that he had to check out some children's books for some reason? He didn't delve far into it. Aelita was taken to the infirmary after the ritual. I stayed to watch over you, so I have no idea if she's still there." She handed him a map, pointed out their current location and sent him rather hastily on his way.

---

Hiroki woke feeling as cold as ice, though his veins felt like they had just been burned. He sat up, and looked into his sister's eyes. She smiled at him, and she hugged him. "Yumi?" He asked, licking his teeth, feeling something foreign in his mouth. "What did you do to me?"
She smiled wider, revealing her vampiric fangs. "You're like me now," she said, "We're more powerful now than ever."

"You're crazy! You actually want to be a vampire?" He exclaimed.

"I didn't at first, because I felt so alone and wrong but…" She looked to her hands. Her nails had grown sharper, and her fangs were longer. They slightly poked out from her lips now, unless she focused on keeping them hidden. She could also sense that her telepathy was stronger, and that she could sense Hiroki in her blood. Becoming a forbearer must have made her a stronger vampire. She suppressed the urge to create a brood. "With this power at my disposal…" She looked back at her brother and exclaimed, "I think I can break Xana's hold on William!"

Hiroki was quiet for a long time. "You really are crazy, aren't you?"
She crinkled her nose at him and stood, helping him to his feet before turning her attention to the door.

Hiroki too turned towards the door then looked doubtfully back to his sister, "Uh... how strong are you... we?"

In answer she placed her fingers at the sides of her temple and closed her eyes. With a single thought, the door flew off its hinges, crushing the guard on the other side. She opened her eyes and offered her hand to her brother, with a small but dangerous smile. He took it nervously, and they ran out of the dungeon.

---

Ulrich opened his eyes slowly. He was blinded by a bright light, so he squinted and mumbled something incoherent. He sluggishly forced himself to sit up, which required a lot more self-motivation than it should have. When he finally managed to open his eyes fully, he saw Captain LeDuc staring at him from the end of his bed. She smiled at him, and pulled her hair over her shoulder so she could stroke it nervously. "Hey," she said, "you're finally awake."

He looked around, his eyes adjusting to the light. "Where am I? Is this your ship? How did I get here?" He asked as he noticed the bandages covering his shoulders. The Mercenary remembered being stabbed, and falling asleep.

"Heïdi brought you back here." Emily said, "I ordered my crew to aid in the attack." She stood and turned away from him. "The day was won, but unfortunately you were the only one that they found. One of my men set up a blackpowder bomb in a poorer part of town, and I fear that some of your friends may have been caught under it."

Ulrich started breathing heavily, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing. "My… my friends are…"

"We don't know that they're dead yet!" Emily exclaimed as she spun around. "Christophe came back this morning and said that Laura is still alive, and that she'd talked to Odd." She looked away again as she added, "But Laura also said that Yumi had been captured by someone named Dhaune? I guess she's one of Xana's lackeys."

He gasped. "Dhaune has Yumi! Fuck!" He stood up, only to be pushed down by the pirate queen. "What are you doing? I have to go find the others! Yumi is in danger!"

"And how exactly do you plan to get her back?" Emily challenged. "Do you intend to gain entry to Maera? Because good shitting luck with that!" She folded her arms. "Besides, we know at least two of your party members are M.I.A. Odd told Laura who told Christophe that he hadn't seen them, and he went out looking. He hasn't reported back, as far as I know."

"Shit. Shit!" Ulrich cursed. He paced for a while and then stopped. "Where is the Eluvian? Do you have it?"

"No; I think that the Empress ordered that it be taken to the palace." Emily said. "After all, your little group was the rightful owner of it."

Ulrich sighed. "Time to visit Laura then."

The pirate queen caught him. "Wait. You've only just recovered. You shouldn't be taking on strenuous activities."

"Are you a fucking doctor now?" He demanded, waving her off. "I've taken worse than this. I'll be fine." The Mercenary stormed out of the room, Emily on his heels.

"Neptune's ass. Slow down!" She ordered. He didn't bother. "I want you to join my crew!"

He stopped and turned to show that his expression was as stony as the castle of Capital Lyoko. "Seriously!? What about my friends? You don't have to be a fortune teller to see that shit is going to explode. I'm not sure what yet, but it will."

"Not now, of course! But yes, seriously." She answered. "I've seen you fight. You're talented. We could always use another swashbuckler and you'll need an escape route if this goes bad or something more than domestication if you win." She folded her arms, adding. "And you're not a half bad sailor to boot. I foresee minimum keelhauling." She meant it as a joke but he wasn't in the mood.

He didn't smile, the frown never leaving his face however after a moment his expression turned thoughtful as he considered what would happen after they won. Adventure, fighting and money appealed far more than retirement after all. But could he leave the others after this? "My question stands, what about the others?"

"Some could join us! I adore Aelita and her magic is impressively dangerous. Jeremie would follow her anywhere and I'm sure we could find a use for him. And I can think of worse fates than having a werewolf and a vampire protecting my crew!" Ulrich seemed surprised. "I'm not an idiot. My father used to be a magistrate, back when I actually thought family bonds meant something."

"Would you think me rude if I asked what you meant?"

Emily frowned, but she didn't refuse him. "You must know about Aelita's past." He nodded. "Getting grabbed by slavers is only one way to end up at a slave port. Sometimes, when your family is really poor, they sell mouths that they can't afford to feed. That's what happened to me." Ulrich seemed disturbed, but she kept going. "That's not the only way, though. I met one guy who'd sold himself, some criminals sold by some king or something in the Uncharted South, and rival slavers who had been conquered. But, yeah, my parents sold me into slavery."

"That's… horrible!"

"Yeah, but now I'm a pirate queen, so everything worked out for the best." She shrugged it off, but Ulrich could still tell that she was uncomfortable with discussing her past. Humor and compensation appeared to be how she handled that, whereas Aelita had handled it with lies and silence. "So, what do you say? About joining my crew?"

Now he was silent as he considered this. There was something just barely present in her eyes. Did she like him more than just as a potential crew member? "This seems like a big commitment. I'll have to consider it." He rubbed his neck. "For now, I have to get to Laura. I need to contact my friends. I need to know that they're safe. Or, mostly safe." She nodded, and helped him gather his things for the journey. It took two and a half hours to reach Capital Lyoko from the small makeshift port where Emily had docked, but since there were no civilians left to roam the streets, it was easy to reach the castle and gain entry.

---

Surprisingly, Laura seemed more than pleased that Ulrich was safe. She even hugged him, which was unwelcome, and came off as awkward. "I'm so glad to see you. Do you have news of the others?" Laura asked. Ulrich explained what he knew, and while she obviously worried about their friends, she expressed a faint hope that Yumi would find a way to escape with the information that they needed to enter Maera. "Anyway, we should probably try to find Odd. I know that he's still alive, and he was going to find Jeremie and Aelita."

She motioned for him to follow her and led him down towards the dungeon, explaining that she was keeping the Eluvian there in case anyone tried to go through it, like Anthea had done after the incident in the Beyond. As they walked, he noticed that the palm of her hand seemed a bit more red than usual, but she had also been under more stress. The Fair Empress explained that she believed that she could use the mirror as a conduit and reverse Jeremie's one-sided telepathy so that she could temporarily initiate the connection, at least long enough to learn his location.

"Are you sure that you know how to do this?" Ulrich asked. "Where would you even learn a skill like that?"

"No worries; I know exactly what I'm doing! I've watched Aelita use this mirror many times!" Laura said. She didn't even sound confident in her words. But still, she summoned a white light in her hands and approached the Eluvian. The glass rippled for a moment, and then it began to glow. Through the light, Ulrich could make out a forest-like city. He could tell that he was seeing through another person's eyes, and that person was not used to their surroundings.

A voice echoed through the dungeon. "Aelita!"

"No, Laura," The Fair said, her voice full of sadness, and Ulrich remembered why. "Ulrich is with me. Where are you right now? I can see you aren't hurt, at least not badly."

"You won't believe this." Jeremie said. "I'm in Arlathan."

Ulrich laughed. "No way. Where are you really?"

"I'm not joking. I'm honestly in Arlathan. Look at all of the elves." Jeremie shifted his head so that way Laura and Ulrich could see the busy marketplace that seemed to part for him. Truly, everyone they saw was an elf, and they seemed honestly disturbed by Jeremie's presence. "Wait for night to fall and then try using the Eluvian as a portal. Be careful, though. Security here is awfully tight."

The duo agreed, and the connection was severed. Laura folded her hand daintily. "Well, at least we know where our friends are. That's a start." She said quietly. She looked at Ulrich, and then smiled. "If only I could create a connection with a normal mirror. It would be a lot easier than trying to sneak past guards or civilians."

"You managed to contact Jeremie. Maybe you could." Ulrich said. She narrowed her eyes, but looked back to the Eluvian. "I'll meet you back here after dinner. In the meantime, I'll be… around."

The Mercenary left and Laura looked back at her hand. The whispers came into her mind, and she focused upon the mirror.
Episode 2: Corruption

5th of Eluviesta

Yumi struggled against her silver chains. She had never thought that silver of all things would keep her bound. Silver, she hissed in her mind, was to keep weaker beings bound. She caught herself thinking those words and shuddered, pushing them out of her mind. Still she struggled, and yet the more she twisted and turned the tighter her bindings became.

Although the battle before her capture, exposure to silver and her struggles hadn't left her too tired, her bindings were too tight to allow her to attack and free herself when a drow underling carefully entered her cell. He struggled with his two burdens as he made his way through the large iron door, a bag and a large, flat piece of white hot iron in his hands. She sneered defiantly, the effect losing some of its intimidation factor because her eyes followed the glowing piece of metal as the drow set down his bag and hefted the iron towards her.

It took everything she had not to scream out in agony when the drow pressed the metal to her face. Flesh sizzled and boiled, the blinding pain receding slightly only when the drow pulled away the iron. Too quickly for her to recover he pressed the metal to another area of the colonist's face watching her body twitch and shudder as she tried to contain her agony. Again he removed the iron, only to reapply it somewhere else. The fifth application of the searing pain was too much for her control and she screamed.

The drow pulled back at the sound, emitted at a higher pitch than a normal human due to her vampiric nature. It was enough of a break from the torture to allow her to focus her mind and she realized that she wasn't as defenseless as it seemed. Elves had sensitive ears, she suddenly recalled, and drow more so than surface elves. She screamed again, intentionally this time, making such a high pitched noise that the drow dropped his iron and ran for the door, retreating as quickly as he was able.

Yumi, stunned, looked to the bag. She manipulated her position so she could investigate the contents of the bag. A few silver coins, a book called 'the Underforge' which the Colonist did not even want to begin contemplating the plot of, and a few painted stones were among the contents. It wasn't as if she had been expecting to find a key, but still Yumi was disappointed by this bag of mundane objects.

The door opened again, and she prepared her scream for the underling. Instead, Dhaune entered. She seemed almost tired, and she was obviously pained to see her former lover in such a state. "Before you say anything, I want you to know that this wasn't my idea. Kidnapping William was, but not you or Ulrich."

"Ulrich? Is he here? Where are you keeping him?!" Yumi demanded.

"I misspoke. Ulrich is not here. I was tasked with finding you. William was to find Ulrich. He did not succeed," Dhaune said. "Emma lath, the things we did to William to make him submit... Those are things no one should have to endure. Join us of your own volition, please. I don't want to see you hurt anymore."

Yumi hissed. "I am far past believing such petty lies and you know it. You have done nothing but hurt me."

"And you have done nothing but hurt yourself!" Dhaune shouted. "Yes, I know that I did you wrong. But I love you, and I always have! Deep down, you love me still. Don't you?" The general got on her knees and held Yumi's face in her hands, careful not to touch the wounds. How had she endured such agony without shedding a single tear? Her hands chilled, and while at first Yumi seemed calm, her eyes suddenly filled with fire, and the skin on her face cracked when her expression became feral. Dhaune shot back, and she nearly knocked over the foot servant that had escorted her. The Colonist looked up in time to lay eyes on Hiroki Ishiyama, her long lost little brother. "By the Destruction Mother. Yumi, you're... You're a vampire!" She cursed herself for not seeing it sooner.

Hiroki's eyes widened and Dhaune looked up at him. Cruelly, she smirked. "You always said she would come for you, da'len. Here she is. Go to her." She stood and pushed the young Nihonjin boy into the cell. He dropped the books and scrolls he carried and turned in a vain attempt to secure his escape as Dhaune slammed the iron door. Slowly, Hiroki turned to look at his sister, whose face had relaxed. There was a long silence.

Yumi finally opened with a joke. "Don't tell Mom and Dad."

Hiroki wasn't really in the mood. "What, that you had an elven lover or that you're a vampire?"

She winced. "Both." Hiroki hid a smile, but it faded. Yumi motioned for him to come closer, but he seemed reluctant to trust a vampire. "I'm so sorry, little brother. I should have come sooner. No one on the surface knows how to enter Maera."

He folded his arms. "Understandably. Only a few elves in Maera know how the gates operate. It has something to do with blood magic. As if you needed another excuse to hate them."

Yumi bit her tongue. Now was not really the time to discuss political correctness. "I'm just so glad to see that you're... well, alright isn't exactly how I'd put it." She felt something clawing inside of her. It felt like... hunger.

Hiroki let his arms fall. "You have no idea what it was like to be down here for all this time!" He cried out. He admitted that Dhaune likely kept him out of the worst of it, but he was still subject to her. She teased, ridiculed and beat him. "I was all alone," he finished.

Yumi shifted. "That's all in the past now. I'm here, and you won't be alone ever again!" She said confidently. "I'm going to get us out of here, if it's the last thing that I do."

Hiroki suddenly started to cry. "What makes you so sure?!" He demanded. He rushed to his sister, wrapping his arms around her. "I waited... and waited for you... but... while I waited… she... grew stronger and... stronger!" He sobbed. "I... am so... afraid that they're... going... to... kill us!"

He was so close. Closer than he'd ever been. She pulled him even closer. "Do not worry little brother." She cooed. "They cannot kill what is already dead."

Hiroki was confused. "...What?" He asked. Before he could pull away, Yumi attacked his neck, sinking her vampiric teeth deep into his veins. His line of sight became blurry and his breathing grew shallow. He slowly lost consciousness, and Yumi gently placed him on the floor. Empowered by his blood, and impatient for his turning to be completed, Yumi pulled the silver chains out of the walls. She ran icy fingers across the place the iron had struck. There was no wound.



Laura looked out over the skyline from her new quarters. She had survived the battle, but so far, she only knew of one other Hero who had shared her good fortune. What of the others?

She looked quickly over her shoulder, as if she had caught someone staring at her. She saw only the servant. "You may go." She dismissed quickly.

"But, Your Highness, I am not finished with your bedtime preparations!" The servant argued.

"I can finish them myself! Leave!" She ordered. The servant curtsied and scurried out of the room. Laura shakily removed her battle robes and replaced them with light, airy sleepwear. She then let the braids out of her hair, her hands shaking as they ran through her fair locks. Laura grabbed the dagger from the bottom drawer of the vanity.

She remembered her interrupted experiment on the ship and considered it again now. She even rationalized it. A new stronger Lyoko demanded a new stronger leader, no? Twisting the blade in her hands, she considered the deed.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the Lyokian doors that led out to the balcony. She slammed the dagger down and turned in shock. Christophe M'Bala waved at her. Hiding a smile, she opened the doors for him. "Am I to assume that the guards wouldn't let you in?"

He laughed. "I'm sure that they would have, but I figured that this was too important to risk being turned away." He closed the doors for the Empress. "Captain LeDuc has Ulrich. He is recovering and should be fine by morning.

Laura let out a sigh of relief. "That's wonderful news!" She said. "But why does Captain LeDuc have him?"

Christophe shrugged. "She's taken a liking to him. Had Heïdi bring him back to the ship." He frowned when he saw the look of expectation on her face. "I'm afraid I don't have news other than that, however. The others are not with us."

She blinked. "Of course. I had hoped... Never you mind. Thank you for informing me." Nervously, she stood on her toes and kissed his cheek. "If you want, I could ask the servants to prepare you a room? I-I don't know how long your walk back to the ship is." She was kicking herself in her mind. She sounded as awkward as she felt. How could she rule a country if she couldn't talk to a boy that she liked?

He blushed and held his cheek. "I... appreciate the offer, Your Majesty, but I promised Emily that I would return as soon as I was able." He could see her heart sink. He smiled and added, "...you know what? I've changed my mind. I think I will stay."

Laura smiled, but she was obviously flustered. "Didn't you just say that she wanted you to report back soon?"

"I'll apologize to her in the morning." He shrugged. Laura giggled and called a servant to prepare a room. This servant, a young elf of roughly thirteen, flushed at the sight of Christophe, and her face turned red as she looked back to the Empress. "I'll take it that they aren't used to seeing Southerners around here." He said flatly.

She laughed. "I think it's more of the fact that you're in my bedchamber." She said. With sarcasm dripping from her voice she added, "An unmarried woman of status with a dashing rogue in her bedchamber? My, what will the nobility say?"

They laughed together, and they spoke for a long time. Too soon, however, did the servant return and take Christophe away. Laura was alone once more, and as she it had for many days, her solitude led to dark thoughts. Grabbing the dagger to twist in her palm was second nature at this point, as if it had been part of her life forever and not a few days. The blood filled her palm, and for the first time, she was not interrupted. The blood in her hand was warm, and it created songs in her mind. This warmth... this raw untapped power…

It frightened her, and she banished the thoughts from her mind. She watched her reflection, her nervous hazel eyes twitching and filling with fearful tears, her lips quivering as she bit them to calm herself, the shakiness of her arms... Laura threw her battle robes over the mirror and blew out the candles. She then buried herself under her blankets and whimpered until she was too tired to remain awake.



Aelita held onto Jeremie as Edna began preparing the ritual chamber. The Outcast had cursed herself repeatedly for forgetting his other arm, and though her Hahren had decreed it would be a detail that could not be addressed at the moment she could not banish her worry over it. Aelita turned when she felt a tap at her shoulder.

An elven girl from the Uncharted South stood behind her, and Aelita noted she was roughly Milly's age. Her black hair was in dreadlocks, and they were pulled back. "Hahren Edna asked me to give this to you." This girl, whom Edna had called Tamiya, handed her a thick, scary-looking book. The older elf's heart sank when the book did not sing, meaning it was written in the common. Aelita shot a glance at Edna before Tamiya added, "I marked the ritual for you. Be careful, lethallan. No path is darker than when your eyes are shut," She warned.

Aelita blinked before opening to the marked page. Her eyes filled with tears, though she wiped them away as she shot one last glance at Jeremie before leaving the ritual chamber. Odd sat outside, his fingers locked and pressed against his lips. He saw her and stood. "What's wrong?" He asked, "Other than the obvious."

She started to shake, as if the strength in her legs had failed her and she was about to collapse. She hung her head and suppressed tears. She took great interest in her toes, and she shoved the open book at him. "C...can you read this for me?"

"What, too chicken to read it yourself?" Odd teased, but she didn't laugh. Instead she started crying, not as if she was mourning like she had when Jeremie had died or when she was betrayed, but as if she was ashamed. As if her pride had been broken.

In that moment, it all made sense. No one had even seen Aelita read unless it was in the elven language, which spoke to her. Everything she knew she had either experienced or had been taught orally. And they'd all seen Lowel Tyron. He was old fashioned--he likely still abided by the old laws that kept changelings down. Aelita was asking him to read for her because she did not know how to do it herself, and it had taken a lot to do it.

Gently, Odd took the book from her, apologizing for his rude comment. He looked at the ritual outlined there and made a face. This ritual required the heart of a deer, the lungs of a bear and many other macabre ingredients. But that was not the part that bothered him.

This necromantic ritual required sacrifices. Virgin sacrifices. He remembered joking with Aelita about the concept of a virgin sacrifice, and yet, here it was in... dark red and... what was that color, anyway? Pale beige? Stained ivory? It didn't matter. "Aelita, it says we need virgins to sacrifice."

She sighed, wiping away her tears. "Then virgins we will find."

"We can't sacrifice innocent people! Jeremie wouldn't want that!" Odd protested.

"Who said anything about innocents?" Aelita countered. "There are plenty of slaver camps in this area. Some of them specialize in... well, in slaves like they wanted me to be. In those camps, they wouldn't dare damage their 'property' physically. A broken spirit, a girl scared mute? No one minds. Too many scars from lashings, or... or other things..." She rubbed her arms. "That damages the value."

"I don't follow."

"I'm sure we can find virgin slavers in those kinds of camps. Those slavers are more in it for money and mind games than sex." She looked away. Odd wasn't convinced, but he figured she knew more about it than he did, and felt it would be inappropriate to challenge her.

He looked back to the book. "I'll look for the virgins, okay? You find a deer heart, a pair of bear lungs, the wings of a vampire bat, an orc's tusk, the finger of a goblin and... what in Tartarus does this say? ...And the lock made of hair of...? Oh. And a lock of Jeremie's hair."

Strangely, she seemed fine. "I can find most of those in the wight market. You just hurry, okay?" She dug through the bag on her shoulder and handed him a piece of parchment set in stone, a figure of the Creation Father drawn on it. "This will allow you to enter the city once you have them." She murmured that it would've been nice to know that an entry pass to get in, as she would've salvaged the one from Edna's aravel.

As Aelita scurried towards the markets, Odd tried his best to navigate to the front gates. When he reached them, the guards looked rather annoyed that a halfling had wandered into their city, but they saw the pass, and they were obligated to let him in and out.

The forests around Arlathan were dense. Odd used the wolf to listen to the world around him. He heard many of the birds and other animals, but he couldn't hear any human voices. He twisted his face in contemplation as he looked to his feet. "I suppose it couldn't hurt…" The Scout muttered as he unlaced his boots and pulled them off. He wasn't sure that the Creator's Sight was present in a halfling, but he'd try anything once.

He was pleasantly surprised when it worked, though this sight seemed muddled and altogether unclear. He was able to make out a camp of people, and some of the figures were clearer than others. He assumed that these people were elves, and that they were barefoot. This, he decided, was as good a lead as any, so he threw his boots into the backpack and ran towards the figures.

He was paying far too much attention to where the figures were as opposed to what was in front of him, so he crashed into a tree. As he recoiled and regained his bearings, he came to the conclusion that, while he had some form of the Creator's Sight, the trees would not get out of his way as they would for the wilders.

He continued his journey, occasionally stopping to make sure he wasn't getting off-track. Eventually Odd found himself near to the camp, and he ducked behind some bushes and waited. There were eight humans--seven men and one woman--in leather and iron, all carrying weapons. Some even carried spears adept for throwing. They certainly looked like slavers, but Odd had no other reason to suspect them of slavery until an elven woman walked up to one. Odd could see that they were arguing, but then the armored man she'd spoken to slapped her and revealed a whip.

Odd, talented as he was, knew a frontal assault would be suicide. He looked around to spot a high place relatively well hidden, but he jumped when a hand touched his shoulder. He spun around to see Aelita crouching behind him. "You scared me half to death!" He hissed, "What are you doing here? You're supposed to be gathering ingredients!"

"I bought them all! Edna is preparing them now." She whispered. "I figured I might help you. I've got a sled so we can drag the slavers back to the city." Sure enough, there was a sled behind her, and she reassured him that she could get it back to Arlathan.

"No point in arguing." He muttered.

"Is this a slaver camp?" Aelita asked as she, too, hid in the bush.

Nodding, he said, "Looks that way." He waved her in closer. "You create a distraction while I go hide in that tree. I'll signal you when I'm ready."

She nodded, and she didn't wait to hear what the signal was. Odd shrugged and snuck over to a nearby tree.

Aelita marched into the camp, realizing a half second too late that she didn't have a plan. She was spotted by the slavers, and while she was terrified and reliving past agony, she knew that she could not turn away. The slaver leader, a woman with a shaved head and a scar over her eye, seemed maliciously excited to see the Outcast. "Well, well, boys. A volunteer!" She cracked her knuckles. "Clap 'er in irons and see what the brothel will pay for 'er."

Her knees quaking in fear, Aelita took a deep breath and summoned Samahlin--thankfully, Edna had agreed not to take it before Jeremie regained consciousness. She unconsciously took a timid step back, and her stance was weak. Her mouth was dry, but she mustered what was left of her courage and said, "I have to warn you, I am stronger than I look."

The head slaver laughed, but she stopped when she heard a wolf howl. "I thought you said you'd fought off all of the animals." She said to one of them, who defended himself from the small stone she threw at him. Suddenly, the head slaver was pounced upon by a feral-looking Odd. He hit her until she fell unconscious while Aelita fought off the others. Mostly she tried to cause non-lethal injuries on the slavers to incapacitate them, though the Outcast noted that a stone she threw at one of them that crushed his face and likely killed him instantly.

Overall, the fight was unexciting and anti-climactic. These slavers had plenty of bark, but their bite was limited. Odd shook the wolf spirit out as best he could before patting Aelita's shoulder. "Good idea, acting helpless. They didn't even see me coming." He complimented, and she grinned in an unspecific way. "I'll check the slavers. You go help the slaves."

She nodded, shrinking Samahlin and approaching the slaves, who had cowered near the supply crates. She offered her hand to them, and one of the oldest girls, about fourteen, took her hand. The Outcast helped her to her feet, and the other girls followed her lead. "Who sent you? Why did you come here?" The girl asked.

Aelita opened her mouth to explain, but she thought better of it. "That's not important. Are you hurt?"

The slave girl looked at the others. "No more than usual."

Odd approached. "How many of these do you want to take back with us?" He asked.

"I don't know exactly. Two or three, just to be safe." Aelita said before a glimmer of gold in her peripheral vision caught her attention. She quieted one of the whimpering girls before she cautiously walked towards this strange bit of gold. It came from inside of a crate, one of the boards having cracked. She pulled it open and revealed a box of glass vials holding a glowing liquid almost like liquid gold, but when she touched it; it was cold, as if it was sucking the heat from her body. On one of the boards was a word painted in bright red letters. "Odd, what does this say?" She called out reluctantly.

Tearing himself away from the ropes he was tying, the Scout walked over to where her voice had come from. He, too, was confused by this strange liquid, but he read the board. "It says 'amber'."

"It doesn't look like any kind of amber I've ever seen." She said. She picked up the crate and carried it to the sled. "I'll have Edna look at it when we get back."

Odd, almost afraid of this liquid, was in no position to disagree. "So, do you have everything you need?" She nodded, and he looked to the slavers that were unnecessary. "What do you want to do with them?"

"Why are you asking me?"

"You're the ex-slave here."

She shot him a lopsided grin. "Technically, so are you."

"My experience pales in comparison to yours."

Aelita examined the four slavers that Odd had tied up. She spotted a mace one of them had dropped and picked it up. She carried it to the slave girl who had trusted the duo first. The young girl backed away from it, her brown eyes filled with apprehension. "What are you doing?" She asked, her voice shaking.

"I am asking you to do as I did when I was in your shoes." She pushed the mace closer to her. "You see this weapon. Take it."

"B-but I don't know how to fight!"

"You don't have to. This is a matter of revenge, not war."

The girl was still frightened, but it didn't seem to be directed at Aelita. She reached out and grabbed the mace timidly, and she struggled under its weight when the Outcast removed her hands. Aelita summoned a spectral deer and attached it to the sled.

The newly freed slaves watched the duo as they rode away. One of the slavers ordered them to release him. The girl looked at him, and in that moment, she mustered all of her strength to bring the mace onto his skull, shattering it and splattering her with his blood. There was a silence afterward, and the other slaves screamed viciously as they grabbed weapons and sent their tormentors down to their deaths.




The closer it came to the event of Jeremie's resurrection, the less sure Odd became of Aelita's actions. He knew why she was doing it, and he knew that nothing would dissuade her. Yet as he looked at the slavers he could not help but pity them. Evil as they were, they were still locked in cages and afraid for their lives. Part of him thought they deserved no less, while the other part of him thought it would be better to kill them. He didn't know if these were his own feelings or the wolf's influence. If it was the wolf, he had no way of knowing which part was which.

Aelita meticulously stirred the vile-smelling slop in her cauldron as Edna watched. Tamiya had finished prepping Jeremie's corpse and was using her magic to allow the starlight in. Edna murmured that a new moon as opposed to a full moon would increase their chances of successful resurrection, but Odd couldn't help but think that it was silly superstition. "Da'len, are you sure you know how the ritual will proceed?"

"I'm positive," The Outcast said, adding under her breath, "You've only explained it to me five times."

Edna continued preparations, conjuring runes and muttering incantations. Suddenly there was an explosion of black smoke from the cauldron, knocking Aelita back and frightening the others. "I thought you said we had more time!" Tamiya shouted.

"Not the time!" Edna shouted back. "Don't be afraid, Aelita!" She urged as she forced Odd and Tamiya out, slamming the door.

Aelita was then alone as the concoction transformed into smoke, swirling towards the starlight. She rapidly cut herself, the scent of her blood drawing the smoke back. The smoke followed her as she danced, luring it into runes. The runes activated, trapping the unholy mist in its clutches.

Using the combined energies of the mists and the spirit Hunger, Aelita sundered the Veil. It created a deafening noise and knocked her off of her feet again, and the vortex of ethereal energy pushed against her. She forced herself up and dragged her body back to the altar where the ritual began before trapping her feet in earth to secure her footing. She looked at the slaver leader and grabbed hold of her blood.

The slaver screamed as Aelita's magic clawed at her. The Outcast pulled the blood closer, forcing the slaver against the iron bars. When she could come no closer, the blood ripped out of her skin. She gave out a deafening scream, almost louder than the sundered Veil. With her blood in her control, Aelita offered it to the tear, and despite the screams and thunderous sound of the torn Veil, she commanded, "Bring me his soul!"

The tear absorbed the blood and mist, and in return, a bright light was given off. But as it grew closer to the corpse of the Wise Man, it grew to be tainted, impurity soaking into him. Panicking, Aelita grabbed the blood of one of the other slavers and ripped it from him, offering it, too, to the tear. Instead of asking for a soul, she asked for a spirit to remove the taint.

The thunderous sounds clapped once more, and then it stopped. The tear was still present, but the darkness reaching for Jeremie slowed almost to a stop, and a crystal clear blue light swirled around it. The darkness and the swirling light reached Jeremie at the same time, and then there was nothing. It had ended as suddenly as it began. The tear closed itself by absorbing the final slaver's soul, leaving behind a desiccated corpse. Aelita released the earthen trap on her feet, and she ran to Jeremie's side.

At first she saw nothing, no change in him that showed whether or not he was alive. Devastated, she started to cry, and she felt her arm and her face burn. She looked to the vallaslin on her arm. Starting at her wrist, it had begun to glow an ominous-looking red. She was afraid of what it meant, but her terror was soon redirected as Jeremie's eyes snapped open. He started to cough, and the wound where his arm was gone begun to bleed profusely.

Quickly, Aelita placed her hand on his forehead and lulled him to sleep. As he slept, she tried to hold back his blood, but she'd used so much of her magic that it became increasingly difficult even to stay awake. Her nose started to bleed. Looking towards the great mahogany doors, she shouted, "Help! Help!"

The doors opened, and Edna rushed in, followed soon by Tamiya. Edna looked from her former apprentice to the now-living corpse, and she pulled Aelita away. "Tamiya, take her to the infirmary!"

"Ma nuvenin, hahren," Tamiya said as she led Aelita away. She fought against her, shouting for Edna to let her stay, but she was weak, and Tamiya was stronger than she looked. Edna summoned a crystal, and then a small amount of electricity. The electricity carved runes into the crystal, and the leader of the Aloten clan held it near the wound. The blood bonded to the crystal, and with a wave of her hand, roots began to grow and take form as an arm. She waited until the fingers had formed to use healing magic to finish the bond.

Having no choice but to wait, Edna closed the doors and meditated as she waited for the Wise Man to wake.

deviantID

LynaKiovote
Jerlita Forever!
United States
Current Residence: Lyoko
Favourite genre of music: Soundtrack
Favourite photographer: Ansel Adams
Favourite style of art: Manga/Code Lyoko Art/ American
Operating System: Dell
MP3 player of choice: iPod Shuffle
Shell of choice: ...?
Wallpaper of choice: Something pretty...<3
Skin of choice: ...?
Favourite cartoon character: Aelita Stones and Jeremy Belpois
Personal Quote: "How is this MY fault?!"
Interests
I'd be very grateful to those of you with Tumblr accounts to follow the following blog:

officialpha.tumblr.com

its a side project of mine. Also, please ask this blog questions and things. This is how people are supposed to get to know the characters via this blog.
  • Mood: Optimism

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:iconkiraimirai:
KiraiMirai Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the favourite on Commission by Love-In-Belle 1#
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Don't forget to give this Facebook page a like!: I'm Just Your Problem.

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YoungGirlBlues Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you for the fav! <3
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LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
No problem!
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a1993 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
what is seasons of war?
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:iconlynakiovote:
LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
It's my fan fiction. It's an AU of Code Lyoko. The summary I use for the FanFiction.net version is:

A wise man, a fair princess, a colonist, a mercenary, a vanguard, a scout and an outcast join together to fight the forces of darkness and evil. But one hundred years of slumber have given it more power than ever thought possible.

I hope this helps without spoilers. If you want more information, I'm always willing to talk about it.
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Scribblekin Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks for the fav!
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LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014
No problem!
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Yumiishiyama123 Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014

Thanks for the +fav!

:) (Smile) 

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:iconlynakiovote:
LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014
No problem!
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pixel-the-freak Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the fav!

Remember to always breathe!
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