The Lost Launceleyn (Open)
Headmaster

Age: 23 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Halo
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#1

The trees of the Greatwood called to Loren, and for once, he answered. Too long he’d been cooped up in the Hollowed Grounds. Granted, he hadn’t exactly been trapped before, and it was his own fault he hadn’t left that desolate land.

But he was here, now, and he supposed that was what mattered. And like everything else once he actually committed to it, Loren was going to throw his whole self into this exploration. Although he’d heard rumors that anyone who wasn’t prepared or welcome in the woods was subsequently turned away, he wasn’t too worried. Worst case he’d turn around and march back in there. And he’d keep doing that until something changed.

Unfortunately, he hadn’t really had time to pack supplies for this excursion. He didn’t have much to his name these days, and he’d been unwilling to go back to those he’d once known to ask for help. It was actually a problem, since Loren knew he was avoiding the inevitable. However, he wasn’t quite ready to face the old.

Instead, he was going to throw himself into the new and hope that on the way forward he’d find his way back.

Crossing over the waters he quickly found himself surrounded by trees in a riot of color, leaves of gold, red, amber, and an occasional green all around. He found himself in awe of the sheer beauty of it all; besides the trees, bushes, and flowers, there was the sound of animals calling and birds cawing, and the scent of life all around him. Even though Deepfrost was coming, Leafchange still reigned supreme, and Loren reveled in it.

He wasn’t asking for or expecting much from this trip. Instead, he was simply trying to force himself out into the world, and the Wildwood, as it was called, contained mysteries enough for him. So he picked his way through the forest, stopping every now and again to gape at a particularly arresting sight.

It had rained recently, and the ground still smelled of dampness. The sky overhead was gray and overcast still. His boots were poor quality, and as they sank into the wet dirt with each step, were soon were soaked through. Loren found he didn’t mind: it was uncomfortable, sure, but also a tangible sign of how far he’d come, how he was forcing himself out of his comfort zone.

There were puddles everywhere, and though his feet were already wet, he did try his best to avoid them. However, he was stopped in his tracks when something flickered in the watery depths, something that drew his eye and then held it.

He wasn’t sure what he was seeing, at first. It was hard to make out, but with each passing moment it became more clear. Then his heart nearly stopped in his chest as his father’s face appeared.

Although he commanded his limbs to move, stumble backwards, Loren found himself transfixed as Cyton’s piercing gaze met his own. The librarian’s mouth was dry and remembered and fresh terror coursed through his veins. “You thought you could escape your failures, but you can’t. Not forever, and not completely. You’ll always be useless, boy.” His father’s voice dripped with contempt, and though Loren opened his mouth, no words came out.

Then another face appeared in the depths of the puddle: Zariah. She looked exactly as Loren remembered, but he couldn’t ever remember seeing such a hurt and lost look on her face. “I just wanted what was best for you, and the family. Why did you abandon me, and Edy, and Beatrix?” Then Zariah’s face morphed into the stormy one Loren was familiar with, and she snarled. “You could’ve had anything you wanted. Power, fame, service to a higher cause. And you walked away from it all. For what?”

Then Edy herself was there, mocking and bitter, just as Loren remembered. “Thought hanging a lantern would absolve you, huh? You’re fucking weak, Loren, and we all knew it. Even if you’d be there, I still probably would’ve died. Fuck you, you asshole.” Her taunting laughter faded away and Loren was left with the image of his own face.

Or at least, that’s what he’d thought, until it began to speak and his twin’s voice emerged. “Didn’t even try to find me, huh? Some twin you are. You know, I bet no one would care if you disappeared again either. In fact, go back to your hole and hide.” Then the water was blank, even though the librarian still stood over it and stared.

It was as if a spell had been released on him: Loren collapsed to the ground, sobbing. He’d been through any number of illusion spells during his life, most designed to torture him. But this had been something else, something more, something real.

Or maybe he just hadn’t been prepared to confront his family and how Loren had failed each and every one of them. Not yet, maybe not ever.

LOREN
Brought back by satisfaction more times than the cat
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
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#2
The blight wracked the Wildwood, but not the Hollowed Grounds. Jigano was increasingly certain of this as his search within the barrierlands had revealed no sign of blackened leaves on foliage or infected creatures to indicate the change - the death - that overcame those who had fallen prey to it elsewhere. He had promised Arduinna to check the books for it, but even with Melinoe's help they had found nothing... and Safrin had indicated that they would find nothing, this disease new and frightening to all of them.

Not least the infected goddess. As if they'd needed further proof that this was no natural thing that afflicted the world they had been released into.

Jigano walked slowly, leaning on his walking stick to help still the trembling of his hands as he traveled through the Wildwood, his mind carefully focused on subjects other than where he wanted to go. The place was tricky, but he was increasingly confident in traversing it, and he did so now with grave determination to find more samples to study.

Instead he heard the sound of sobbing, and he followed it on feet that moved more swiftly than the walking stick might indicate to find a man, tall and wingless, collapsed to the ground. "Sir?" he asked uncertainly, padding closer but hesitating to reach out just yet to a stranger - or a trap, the more cynical part of his mind pointed out. "Are you hurt? What happened?"
Headmaster

Age: 23 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Halo
Level: 9 - Strg: 22 - Dext: 24 - Endr: 23 - Luck: 29
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#3
Loren was so broken down at that point that he completely missed the other man’s approach. Once the taller man began to speak, however, the librarian sprang to his feet, whirling around at this unknown and frankly unexpected intrusion. First he’d been confronted with the taunting images of his departed family; now he had to contend with a stranger.

Thankfully the other man didn’t seem unfriendly or hostile. Unfortunately, it had been so long since Loren had more than passing interactions with people that he wasn’t quite sure what to do in this situation. Actually, seeing as he’d never been in a situation quite like this before, he wasn’t sure he’d know what to do even if he wasn’t rusty.

First things first, he dashed the tears from his eyes. Maybe he was being rude by simply staring, but at least it gave him the opportunity to examine the other man. As Loren had first observed, the stranger was tall, having a bit of height on Loren, who wasn’t exactly short. The other man’s hair was almost a silvery gray, and long, and his frame was lean and hard. Unlike Loren’s gaunt figure, however, it was clear the stranger was in good shape.

Again, it was good that the other man wasn’t hankering for a fight. Then again, though his mind and his body were both weak, Loren’s magic was strong as ever.

Finally, the former librarian realized he needed to reply. “I’m fine, thank you. Please, don’t let me keep you.” He didn’t particularly want to be around people—although whether a stranger or someone he knew would be worse, he couldn’t say—and the effort of holding himself together in the other man’s presence was nearly impossible. Loren knew he’d fall apart again sooner rather than later. Still, he was doing his best to hold himself together for as long as he could.
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#4
The stranger moved so fast that Jigano revised his estimate that the other man was injured, even as he stepped back and brought the walking stick up between them defensively until he was certain that the unfamiliar human wasn't going to attack. He might have been gaunt from skipping meals, but he was far from helpless, even in his illness. He relaxed slowly, sizing up the other man even as he had his own measure taken. Younger than he had guessed at first glance, slender to the point of concern, but nearly as tall as he was, the man was no one that the loreseeker recognized, though he had walked the Settlement often and knew many outlanders and naturals both. A new arrival, perhaps? Or simply one of the many who lived on the outskirts who had never found their way to the Atheneum or Rathskeller where the bard had once spent much of his time?

Then again, he had been exceedingly scarce from both since Zariah had taken over, and even with her gone he had been... distracted.

"At the risk of stating the obvious," Jigano spoke with a hint of amusement underlying the concern in his voice, "you didn't sound fine a moment ago. I don't mean to intrude, but these woods are far from safe, even with the Fae's tolerance. I'd hate to leave you only to find out later that you'd been snagged by a Wicker Woman or pounced by a cat sith." He leaned on his staff, blue eyes glinting with curiosity as he continued to look the man over, trying to guess if he was outlander or natural. The clothing said Natural, but the wandering about the Fae woods was usually an Outlander hobby. "I'm not the guide Ianto is, but I might be able to help you get where you're going, if you had a destination in mind." Always the problem, in these Woods, those pesky destinations. "The name is Jigano. I..." he caught himself as the old title refused to roll off his tongue, no longer his to claim. "I'm looking for areas that have been struck by the blight, if you've passed any," he finished a bit roughly, looking up for a moment as a flash of white and blue flitted through the branches high above.
Headmaster

Age: 23 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Halo
Level: 9 - Strg: 22 - Dext: 24 - Endr: 23 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
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#5
Loren narrowed his eyes at Jigano. All the Launceleyn had wanted was to be left alone to explore, and now there was this stranger here. And the sorrow still roiled within the former librarian, waiting to be released in one form or another. It was all Loren could do to hold it back, and it threatened to spill over and turn into anger. It wouldn’t be fair—Jigano hadn’t done anything wrong, and in fact was being kind—but Loren simply wasn’t prepared to be around people quite yet.

So he gritted his teeth to prevent himself from snapping at the other man. It took a few deep breaths before the former librarian felt he could respond in anything resembling a civil tone. “I saw something that surprised me, but it passed. I appreciate you concern, but I’m aware of the dangers and can protect myself.” The second part was definitely true, but the first was a complete lie; Loren hadn’t ever heard of these wicker women or the cat sith.

But they couldn’t be any more dangerous than the jungle from the world Loren had come from before. And he’d survived that. More than survived: he’d saved his companions from monsters and gotten them home safely.

The name Ianto was a shock. Loren felt his eyes widening as he wondered whether it was the same Ianto he’d known. Still, seeing as the Launceleyn wanted the other man to leave, the mage didn’t ask. Besides, if Loren had wanted to know more about the people he once knew, he’d go find them himself. Beyond that, he could feel his eyes drifting back to the now normal looking puddle, and tears sprang to his eyes. He was about to lose control again and he wanted the stranger gone by the time that happened. “I just came out here to clear my head, and yes, again, I know how foolhardy that sounds, but believe me I’m not in any danger.” And even if he was, he’d honestly welcome the distraction.

His voice was sounding slightly choked, and he cleared his throat, not wanting Jigano to get suspicious. At the mention of the blight, Loren tilted his head, confused. He hadn’t heard anything about a blight—not surprising, given his isolation—and he hadn’t seen anything that looked like one either. “No. Sorry.” That was all he trusted himself to say.
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,822
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#6
From sobbing to narrowed eyes and gritted teeth in a few short exchanges, and Jigano felt the veiled hostility from the stranger like heat against his clammy skin. A single pale brow arched at hearing that something had 'surprised' the other man; surprised him so much that he had fallen to the ground, crying his eyes out? It certainly seemed like it had been more than a mere surprise, but even if the other man was lying, it wasn't as though it mattered between strangers, and the bard let it go with a slow nod of his head, accepting the words at face value, even if he didn't believe them. If he knew the dangers and still left himself so open and vulnerable to attack, that was his own choice.

Ianto's name had been a casual reference, many familiar with the fox's Wonder Wagon. The stranger's reaction was curious enough to make Jigano wonder if he knew the Attuned, but before he could ask something in the other man's face made him stop. Perhaps it was just as well that he did as a clear dismissal followed, and annoyance prickled and burned along blight-seared nerves. Rude, the man was, who waved off kindness and didn't bother to introduce himself. Perhaps a night in a Wicker Woman's embrace would improve his behavior...

Or perhaps he'd poison the poor tree before dawn.

But the tears were still lingering in his voice, even if he'd momentarily cleared them from his eyes, and Jigano sighed as he fought against the urge to spit venom and stalk off. How much was him and how much was the corruption in his blood he wasn't sure, but neither was excuse to return the discourtesy of a man who seemed to have a great deal on his mind and heart. "I know it's not my place," he began hesitantly, shifting his grip on his staff as the shaking in his hands grew more pronounced, whether from the effects of reining in his temper or just poor timing he wasn't sure. "And if you wish to grieve alone I'm sorry for intruding. But sometimes it can be easier to tell a stranger of your troubles. Less judgment from someone who doesn't know you, or so they say. If my company is more harm than help, however, I'll give you whatever space you need." He knew something of wanting to be alone to deal with his ghosts, after all, and running away from troubles he didn't know how to face.
Headmaster

Age: 23 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Halo
Level: 9 - Strg: 22 - Dext: 24 - Endr: 23 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
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#7
Loren’s emotions warred within him, a storm that threatened to break loose any instant. Once upon a time, the Launceleyn had kept it bottled up tightly, knowing that tears were a sign of weakness and anger a sign of recklessness. Neither was welcome in the compound, and both were swiftly and decisively punished.

So he’d hollowed himself out—removed what emotion he could, and sublimated the rest—until he could fit in. He’d never had the magic to avoid pain and torture, but in every other way he’d turned himself into vessel to be the perfect Launceleyn. He’d lost himself in that, in the persona he’d forced himself and been forced into. But he could only sustain that for so long, and when the charade had broken and his family had been exposed, he’d come out a different person. A stronger, more confident person.

Or so he’d thought: it too had been a lie, albeit a better, more palatable one. Painstakingly, though, friends (and lovers too) had stripped away the outer surface, exposing his core. And what he’d found there had terrified and elated him. But then in the new world, he couldn’t deal with reinventing himself and with the rest of it, so he’d lost himself. He was distressingly good at it by now, so it’d been easy basically shutting himself off. It had taken a long time to realize that he was falling back into old, familiar habits just because it was easier. But it certainly wasn’t better, not for him or for anyone else.

Unfortunately for Jigano, the Launceleyn’s nerves were still too raw—and he needed to do something with the sadness brimming inside him—to deal with the concern. He wanted to work through his problems on his own; if he’d wanted healing, either physical or spiritual, he’d have sought it out. The librarian’s problems were his own.

So he simply stared at the other man, tears beginning to stream down his cheeks, and fury in his voice. “You’re right, it’s not your place. And you’re right, sometimes talking to people helps.” He felt his hands curl into fists. “But not always. Sometimes it just makes the problem worse. Some things can’t be helped, and some people can’t be fixed.” Loren certainly seemed to be the latter. “So please go.” Before the librarian dragged anyone else down with him.
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#8
The tears that began to fall anew did not surprise him, but the anger did, raw and bitter, lashing out with words to harm as surely as any weapon could have. Jigano did not flinch from them at first, but at the mention of people who couldn't be fixed he winced as if struck, pain and black temper flaring in his eyes and the cold shift of his features. "No," he said softly. "No we can't be fixed. It's no one else's place to do so, and sometimes we're too weak to pick up the pieces, or our hands shake too much to put them back together. But sometimes you have to break before you can find the shape you were meant for, even if it takes time to find it. Even if you can only handle one piece at a time, and even then only barely." He drew in an unexpectedly shaky breath of his own, the stranger's words biting a nerve that was raw and bare from his own mistakes, both ancient and recent.

"I'll go that way," he nodded to the east, the direction easier to find now that many of the leaves had fallen, even with the sky as overcast as it was, and threatening a fresh spate of rain to add to the puddles already dotting the ground. "Just beyond earshot. I'll stay there awhile. If you change your mind... if you want to talk, I'll be waiting." And if he didn't? The bard would hardly be harmed by resting his weary bones awhile. He gave the stranger a formal bow, a little stiff but still courteous, and began to stride away.

Up in the trees the flicker of white and blue came again, leaves rustling as golden eyes peered down at the men below, hidden within a blaze of gold and orange foliage as their owner watched their parting curiously and then settled in to wait.
Headmaster

Age: 23 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Halo
Level: 9 - Strg: 22 - Dext: 24 - Endr: 23 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
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#9
Great. Just great. Jigano fancied himself some sort of truth teller or soothsayer or wise person or whatever. Loren didn’t care. He didn’t need the silver-haired stranger—who at least looked the part of a wise man—to give the former librarian life advice. With each word that fell from the other man’s mouth, Loren felt his anger build. The Launceleyns were famed for their rages; while Loren was calmer than most, seemed he had it in him as well. It felt better than being sad at least.

However, anger had always tended to make Loren run cold, not hot. So when he turned his trembling voice and tear streaked face fully on Jigano, the former librarian’s eyes were hard. His voice, when he spoke, was practically icy. “Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you? Who the fuck asked you for your take on the situation?" No one, and the fact that the other man thought the two of them were at all similar based off of nothing was baffling and infuriating. "I don’t need life advice or comfort from a stranger, and I certainly don’t need it from someone who tries to dress like a sage from a fucking cheap ass play and just ends up looking like an idiot. I especially didn’t need to hear a dumb cliche like ‘you need to be broken before you can find the right shape.’” What an idiotic thing to say. Honestly, who spoke like that? Maybe Loren had, once upon a time, but his eyes had been opened. And he was beyond being nice and polite just for the sake of it.

It felt good to have an outlet for everything inside. Since he couldn’t take it out on his family anymore—they were dead or gone—he relished having a new target. Maybe a little too much: he felt a bit ashamed at how he was acting. It was a good thing, the stranger was doing, a kindness the Launceleyn probably didn’t deserve. But Loren was still shaken from his vision from earlier and in no place to control himself or his tongue. Besides, he’d asked the other man to leave (politely at that) and instead Jigano had stuck around to try and analyze Loren. Unfortunately for the white-haired man, Loren was tired of people trying to tell him who he was. Because the truth of the matter was, he wasn’t anything anymore, just a sad man who’d lost everything through his own folly.

Rolling his eyes at the other man’s comment about staying nearby, Loren turned away. “Do what you want. But I wouldn’t wait if I were you.” Not bothering to bow back—Loren wasn’t in the mood to be courteous, obviously, and he thought they were past that—the Launceleyn simply sank to his knees again, staring into the still blank puddle.

Tears began to fall again, joining the water below, causing ripples to spread across its surface. Once more, Loren was lost to his grief.
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,822
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#10
The outburst was unexpected, but not as much as the petty insults, baseless cruelty, and crass swearing that accompanied it. Jigano blinked as venom spewed from the stranger's lips, unprepared for the viciousness of the assault, especially when he had just left himself vulnerable to the attack by trying to find a point of similarity between them. The ragged man lashed out with any weapon that he could reach for, flaying the already-weakened loreseeker to the quick and tearing into wounds still fresh from other knives.

Something dark and wicked surged in his blood, snarling for satisfaction, for vengeance, for words to rip into this mad dog's throat, sinking to his level, reaching for the source of those tears and dragging a river from the beggar's eyes. And more than words, the urge to strike out with his staff, to wipe the savage malice from his face spiked hard and the lorekeeper's fingers tightened on the wood in his grip.

That urge to physical violence kept Jigano in check, the shock of it stemming the rising tide of black anger that had begun to turn the edges of his vision red. He bit his tongue until he tasted blood as he turned to walk away, and the stranger's words suddenly mattered not at all against the need to focus hard on his own self-control, his fingernails and teeth itching to elongate but for the discipline used to keep them blunt and human.

His breathing came in a pained hiss as he walked, and when he stopped it was less to remain close enough for the stranger to find him and more to drop to sit on a fallen log, seeking in meditation what the confrontation had cost him in control.

An hour he sat on the damp wood, eyes closed and attention focused fiercely inwards to battle the darkness that rode him. After a while the little gryphlet flew down from the trees to settle in his lap and add her efforts to his own until his breathing calmed. The walking staff was a necessity when he rose again, weakened by the battle, and he made his slow way deeper into the trees, letting his mind wander.

The other man would have a rude awakening when he tried to return from whence he came; the Wildwood was not kind to those who did not know how to traverse it, leading them in circles so that the harder they tried to reach a place, the further from it they would go. Perhaps the Fae would take pity on him eventually, for Jigano's sympathy had dried up for the time being, and he was content to let the stranger reap the consequences of his cruelty.
Headmaster

Age: 23 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Halo
Level: 9 - Strg: 22 - Dext: 24 - Endr: 23 - Luck: 29
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#11
Loren was too far gone to worry about Jigano’s feelings. Maybe one day the Launceleyn would feel bad about his actions here today. But not today, when the spectres of his family had come out of nowhere to torment him one last time, for seemingly no reason. He’d thought he’d escaped the ghosts of his past. But it seemed he’d never be free of the horrors they’d inflicted on him.

An indeterminate amount of time had passed before his eyes ran dry. Loren simply lay there for a while, curled in a ball, far too spent to continue on or go anywhere else. Strange as it might sound, though, he felt better, even after all that. In his half-lucid state, he had tried not to feel or think at all, and succeeded for the most part.

But none of his pain had gone away. It had just been eagerly waiting for his return, and it had chosen the absolute worst time to pounch.

Eventually he stirred, and wiped his tired and red eyes. The peace of the forest had been shattered, first by the puddle and then by the strange man. Finally, Loren himself had ruined the quiet beauty of this place; he couldn’t see the color or wonder in it anymore. Standing, he glanced around one last time, trying to recapture his earlier awe.

But it was gone, for now, maybe forever. So with a sigh, he turned to make the long walk back to the Hollowed Grounds. Even without the barrier, it seemed Loren was trapped there.
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.


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