goodbye, yellow brick road
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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#1

Two years ago to nearly the day, Amalia considered very seriously stepping off this bridge.

She remembers it vividly, even now: the day before the Festival of Lights, and she had finished making two lanterns alone in the Antheneum's hall. One was old, the wound still raw, three years having done little at all to soothe the loss of her grandmother.

One, though... one was new.

Amalia had thought the year after her grandmother died might be the hardest of her life, but the year after her mother died had gone and proven her wrong. Who was she to live alone, the rest of her family lost to Ludo without so much as a goodbye? Who was she to survive when neither of them could have that chance, to light a lantern and guide the souls when she herself had none?

Who was she to try to be happy, when she had failed them both?

She'd stood barefoot in this very spot, her toes curling over the edge of the bridge, her dark eyes red with too many tears. She'd stood and looked into the mist and wondered who would care, if anyone would notice that she was missing or light a lantern for her ghost. A lean is all it would have taken to send her careening down and down, oblivion found in the bottom of the crevasse, freedom from a world she had never found a place in. She'd stood, and wanted, ached to jump.

Instead she stepped away.

She'd though that year was the hardest she'd endure, but today she is not sure. Today she wears the weight not of loneliness but of love, each person she has come to care for sitting silent on her shoulders, reminding her what it would cost if she were to take that step. She thinks about the blight, and the queens, and Safrin, and Ronin, and Jigano, and Remi. She thinks about Delah, and the fae, and how much her grandmother would have loved it, the world outside the barrier. She thinks about Jyoti, and Kiada.

She thinks about Deimos, and the cruelty it is to let him love her, and knows that no matter how unjust it is, she cannot bear to see him walk away.

She thinks that she should have jumped that day, for now it is too late.

Amalia
i've been watching your kindness keep
a lonely company - look at the fire and think of me
Ronin Taliesin
the Dark Star
Monster Hunter

Age: 27 | Height: 5'10 | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 7 - Strg: 28 - Dext: 26 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 30
SUGAR - Mythical - Dragon (ice breath)
Played by: Honey Offline
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#2
RONIN
if there's one thing i'm good at, it's surviving
"If you jump, you know I will have to try and save you. And we both know I am in no position currently to be a hero." Ronin's voice drifted out of the mists as a low murmur, the hunter soon appearing in its wake. He wore a coat against the Leafchange chill, more prominent out here on the bridge than most places, his hands buried in his pockets, his blue eyes weary as they followed Amalia's gaze into the abyss.

He fell to a halt beside the baker, both wondering at her motives for being out here but, at the same time, feeling like he understood completely. "I'm sorry, if you wanted to be alone. Say the word and I can leave you to your thoughts." Because that was why he was out here, wasn't it? He only ever came to the Bone Bridge to think, it felt.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,962
MP:
#3

Amalia does not turn around at the sound of Ronin's voice, though her body ripples briefly with tension before relaxing once again. The threat of heroics is both unsurprising and unnecessary; she shivers silently, letting feathers briefly rise and fall upon her bare neck, a testament to the avian form that lurks inside her blood. "The days when I could jump are gone-" though whether because of the owl shift or for other reasons remains unclear. She cannot jump, because she cannot fall. And she cannot fall because Ronin would follow, and Remi, and Deimos, and others as well, unnecessary casualties to a broken heart who do not deserve her pain.

Amalia rolls her shoulders as Ronin draws to a stop beside her, neither rejection nor invitation. "I'm surprised you don't want to push me off, your majesty," she remarks, glancing wryly at the new crowned king, something dark and brittle in her voice, anger at herself, guilt and fear. Does he hate her now, like Wessex and Edy?

Doesn't she deserve it, if he does?

Stepping back from the looming edge, Amalia exhales a sigh. "Want to see why I come up here?" She slips her bag from her back as she speaks, waiting for him to reply before sharing her strange activity.

Amalia
i've been watching your kindness keep
a lonely company - look at the fire and think of me
Ronin Taliesin
the Dark Star
Monster Hunter

Age: 27 | Height: 5'10 | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 7 - Strg: 28 - Dext: 26 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 30
SUGAR - Mythical - Dragon (ice breath)
Played by: Honey Offline
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#4
RONIN
if there's one thing i'm good at, it's surviving
Ronin could feel the quip on his tongue, waiting - even if you cannot jump, everyone can always fall - but he refrained from letting his bitterness out into the world where he could no longer take it back. As Amalia neither rejected nor beckoned him forward, he remained where he was, eyes fixed on the mist that concealed the world around the Bone Bridge. He snorted.

"I had considered it," he drawled, dropping his gaze for a moment. "A three-pronged rulership is an accident waiting to happen. It will end in tears - it's just a matter of when. I'm sorry it couldn't be better."

Sighing as well, he turned away from the edge as she spoke again, raising an eyebrow at her. "Sure. As long as you really don't intend to jump. I am easily tired these days, and I don't fancy going down there after you."
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,962
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#5

Amalia barks a stifled laugh as Ronin drawls out his reply. "Yeah. Yeah, Mort knows that's gonna be a disaster. Not your fault, though." She does not say whose fault it is, though the unsaid name lingers behind her teeth. Rolling her shoulders in a shrug, the baker stares into the fog.

With a sigh she turns away from the edge, slipping her bag off of her back and opening it up to expose her bounty: twenty stale rolls of bread, five days old and hard as stone. Reaching in, she takes one between her fingers, looking at it as though it hides some secret, as though it will solve the myriad of problems they face. "You'd probably gain points if you let me fall. I've never been Edy's favorite person, and I'm pretty sure Wessex hates me now, too."

With a sudden, explosive, cat-like grace Amalia winds her long arm back before launching the roll into the abyss, a graceful arc that vanishes quickly into the mist. "Fuck you Zariah!" the girl hollers, fury lighting her alto voice. Tension and then a merciful release; by the time her arm falls back to her side her body has eased, if only a little, some of the agony gone from her shoulders.

Turning at last to look at Ronin, Amalia extends the bag of rolls. "Your turn."

Amalia
i've been watching your kindness keep
a lonely company - look at the fire and think of me
Ronin Taliesin
the Dark Star
Monster Hunter

Age: 27 | Height: 5'10 | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 7 - Strg: 28 - Dext: 26 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 30
SUGAR - Mythical - Dragon (ice breath)
Played by: Honey Offline
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Posts: 1,533
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#6
RONIN
if there's one thing i'm good at, it's surviving
"My job to pick it all up, though. Thank goodness I was a soldier. I'm used to cleaning up other people's messes." He tried on a wry smile for Amalia, though it faded to a look of pure befuddlement as she revealed what it was she'd brought out to the Bone Bridge. A bag of bread. Well, then. Drawn in by her contemplative expression, Ronin also found himself drawn in and trying to find meaning in the loaf, only to blink a couple of times when she continued to speak.

"I don't hate you, though. And clearly I'm the only one who counts." The boyish smirk on his face spoke of votes, of decisions made as a group and ruined by a few bad choices. Still, Ronin stepped back in shock at the sudden and immediate launch of the bread into the abyss, his smirk growing into a surprised and delighted grin to hear the expletive leave Amalia's lips.

"Fuck you Zariah, indeed," he agreed warmly, raising a brow at hearing it was his turn, apparently. "Oh," he said, leaning up to collect one of the loaves, weighing it in his hand like a stone.

Lighthearted as he had been at first, something truly black flickered across his face as he considered his words, and he threw the bread as hard as he was able over the side of the bridge. "Fuck you, Voice!" he yelled. "And fuck your fucking Spire!"
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,962
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#7

"Clearly." Amalia's voice, too, remembers voting, nominations and confirmations, people stepping up and names in a ballot. Names she read, a resistance she organized, another attempt she made, and for what?

For everything to fall apart, just as it always does.

She is glad that Ronin doesn't hate her, though it does not ease the feeling in her gut that she deserves it, that she has failed and fallen and dragged them all with her and so many things are her fault. The resistance, the kingship, the Spire, the blight. If she had not asked Safrin to intervene, would the goddess be okay? Would Ronin?

Dark eyes watch without remark as something black takes the king's face over, a real anger flashing across that usually languid expression. Fuck the fucking spire indeed- and that feeling of guilt writhes inside her again, curling and biting at her belly, angry and hot and sharp as ice. It should have been me. It should have been me.

Placing the bag onto the ground, Amalia pulls out her next roll, thinking of all the things she's angry about and knowing that at the center is one she cannot name, not aloud, not here. So she takes a cheap option, winding up tense before hurling her stale loaf into the mist, her alto voice venomous as she cries into the void, "Fuck you, Voice!" Amalia's lips are a feline snarl, and for a moment she pants, the hundreds of things she wants to blame on the voice sitting behind her teeth. Then Jyoti coos, and the girl calms, enough to run her hand through her hair.

Glancing at Ronin with a wry mirthless grin, the baker shrugs. "I thought it bore repeating."

Amalia
i've been watching your kindness keep
a lonely company - look at the fire and think of me
Ronin Taliesin
the Dark Star
Monster Hunter

Age: 27 | Height: 5'10 | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 7 - Strg: 28 - Dext: 26 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 30
SUGAR - Mythical - Dragon (ice breath)
Played by: Honey Offline
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Posts: 1,533
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#8
RONIN
if there's one thing i'm good at, it's surviving
To hear his own expletives echoing back at him, not just from the deep abyss beyond the bridge, but from Amalia as well... Ronin found himself grinning without intending to. "Oh it absolutely bore repeating," he agreed with a nod, reaching down for another stale loaf of bread. There was a fire in his belly now, ignited by the freedom to feel, to be angry and petty and fearful and sad about all the things they had to bottle up so hard.

The next loaf sailed off the side of the bridge, hurled with all of Ronin's strength. Fuck you, Longnight!" he yelled this time, his voice hot with emotion. The longest night, the one that had stolen the woman he had loved, and delivered the most precious thing he had ever held into his arm. Breathing deeply, he glanced back to Amalia.

"So you come here often, to do this?" he asked. "Does it help...?"
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,962
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#9

She likes this side of him: raw and rough, a little angry, willing to stand beside her and scream into the void. Amalia gives her own grin in response, a little bit feral, fire in her eyes. Long Night, indeed, deserves their hatred, though something clouds the girl's face as she recounts her own losses to that worst of times. "Not so often, but every now and then. When... when it's too difficult to keep it all in. Y'know?" She reaches down to grab another loaf, thinking about what else to curse.

The next one isn't angry: as Amalia swings the loaf of bread her voice suddenly cracks, loss in the alto timbre, pain and devastation for a wound she has not yet voiced. "Fuck you, Wessex!" Amalia cries, missing the older woman desperately, anger at the gap between causing her arm to shape. Inhaling sharply, the girl sighs, running her hand through her hair.

"It's her fault, you know," the girl remarks, tossing a roll between her hands, tightness in her jaw as she turns back to Ronin. "Not Wessex. The Voice. Us being in the barrier. You all coming here. The Blight. She convinces people she can make them bright, but she's taking away their freedom, and their ability to feel. She made the Spire Guardian, and then abandoned it, and it started-"

-And it started-

"-to rot."

She turns toward Ronin, her dark eyes wide, a belated realization crashing down on her. "Ronin. The demon - the Spire monster - I think it had the Blight."

Amalia
i've been watching your kindness keep
a lonely company - look at the fire and think of me
Ronin Taliesin
the Dark Star
Monster Hunter

Age: 27 | Height: 5'10 | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 7 - Strg: 28 - Dext: 26 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 30
SUGAR - Mythical - Dragon (ice breath)
Played by: Honey Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,533
MP:
#10
RONIN
if there's one thing i'm good at, it's surviving
"I know." Ronin nodded solemnly. Damn right did he know. And this seemed a lot healthier than his old coping mechanism (i.e. having one too many and picking fights with anyone who looked like they might be able to throw a punch). "When you feel like doing this again next, let me in on it, yeah?" He shot a wry smile in her direction. Hurling stale loaves of bread off the Bone Bridge was unashamedly cathartic.

Before he could reach for another loaf, Amalia had already thrown hers, Ronin pausing and glancing up as he heard her curse. His blue eyes softened a touch, losing some of their fire. "We never know what the future might bring," he said, though his tone seemed to suggest he was speaking reluctantly. "Bridges are burnt and rebuilt all the time."

But then Amalia continued to speak, Ronin nodding in a slow, emphatic agreement. It was all the Voice's fault, though he hadn't considered the Spire Demon and its odd condition; he had just assumed it was old and archaic, or possessed by some Voice controlled bit of whatever-Ascended-were-made-of.

The blight, though... He frowned, puzzled. "It's not impossible," he said slowly. "But wouldn't it have been infecting people before now...?" Then again, it had been largely isolated, killing anyone who got too close.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,962
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#11

"The demon killed anyone who went near the Spire." Now Amalia's mind is racing, possibilities both likely and strange run through her brain in a breakneck pace. "When Frey showed me... it looked alive, at the beginning. Intelligent. Almost - almost - human." Not in shape, but in intelligence, in the light of its eyes and the thought behind its face.

Pacing a little across the bridge, the baker continues to babble on, verbosity given birth by curiosity and the rush of maybe, maybe, understanding. "The only ones who survived it were you - well." A rueful, apologetic smile is thrown to the undead king. "I don't remember... could it have infected the others? Remi seems fine though, and I haven't seen Roana since last season." Had there been others? She cannot remember - it was a collection of outlanders, and she had more pressing crises to attend.

Pausing in her pacing, the baker draws out another stale roll, passing it anxiously between her hands. "What if the demon wasn't protecting the spire? What if it was protecting us - trying to keep the sickness contained?"

Amalia
i've been watching your kindness keep
a lonely company - look at the fire and think of me
Ronin Taliesin
the Dark Star
Monster Hunter

Age: 27 | Height: 5'10 | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 7 - Strg: 28 - Dext: 26 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 30
SUGAR - Mythical - Dragon (ice breath)
Played by: Honey Offline
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Posts: 1,533
MP:
#12
RONIN
if there's one thing i'm good at, it's surviving
Ronin stared out across the side of the Bone Bridge, his eyes pinned on the mists, a storm brewing behind his blank expression. The Spire Demon - he could believe, certainly, that it was infected with the blight. He'd been up close and personal with the ugly fuck - and that in itself caused his blood to run cold. Was that what he would become? Was he to turn into that creature, or something similar? A muscle in his jaw jumped at that, and he found his fists clenching unconsciously.

He shook his head. "I don't know if it spread from the Spire Demon," he said, unsure that those who were there to fight it had anything to do with it. "The blight appeared after the barrier fell, remember. And it started in the Greatwood... though I suppose it's not a far cry to assume that we took it there. Why didn't it infect people before now, though? Why the plants?"

All questions he couldn't answer; Ronin shook his head in frustration. And that the creature was protecting them? No. He didn't buy it, glancing over his shoulder at last to regard Amalia. "I don't believe its intentions were that pure, even to begin with. It was protecting the Spire, but that was probably because the Voice - the Core, rather - was inside it."
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,962
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#13

Chewing her lip, the girl continues to pace as he speaks, nodding in agreement of Ronin's assessment and thinking hard herself. "How did it get to the Greatwood in the first place? Does it have to do with the portal in the basement, maybe- the one Roana went through?" The bread continues to pass between her hands, a sign of her anxiety, her frantic, stirring mind. "Maybe plants have fewer defenses to it - Fae, too. And things in the Hollowed Grounds are more resistant, because we've lived with the Spire for so long."

She does not think there was benevolence to the demon either - not really - but Amalia tries to cling to hope, to build an idea of the world where things are not entirely dismal, where there is purpose behind every cruel act. It is too hard to think everything meaningless, especially the creation and discard of life...

If the demon could be called alive, at any point in its existence.

There's still a problem, a glaring one, and Amalia runs a hand through her hair, stopping in her steps. "None of this matters if we don't find a cure. And where is the Core, anyway? What happened to it, after it was free? I haven't heard of anyone seeing anything other than the Voice."

Amalia
i've been watching your kindness keep
a lonely company - look at the fire and think of me
Ronin Taliesin
the Dark Star
Monster Hunter

Age: 27 | Height: 5'10 | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 7 - Strg: 28 - Dext: 26 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 30
SUGAR - Mythical - Dragon (ice breath)
Played by: Honey Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,533
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#14
RONIN
if there's one thing i'm good at, it's surviving
Ronin's brow furrowed as he considered the portal Roana had been sent through - the portal now buried beneath Spire stone. "I'm not sure... I mean. It's certainly possible - perhaps the disturbance in the woods spat out the blight along with Roana?" But he didn't think his fellow former captain was sick; he hadn't heard as much, certainly.

It was infuriating, how the pieces of the puzzle seemed to be threading slowly together, but... but fuck, how did it all work? Was it the Spire? The portal? The Voice directly?

Chewing at the inside of his lip and continuing to watch as Amalia paced, Ronin hummed a dark note of agreement about the Hollowed Grounds. Yes, the flora and fauna did indeed seem to be resistent to whatever the blight was.

The idea that there even was a cure was starting to sound hilariously pathetic, and Ronin had to cage his laughter in the back of his throat. "I've never even seen it," he said of the Core, shrugging his shoulders. "I heard an Ascended touched it, and it was gone when all was said and done."


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