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Atlas Anniversary Art & Writing Contest

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Obediah tears out a piece of paper from his sketchbook and proclaims: “This here fine piece of art is up for biddin!”

 

Just a sketch I did in the style of what my character would draw. The drawing is of the abandoned chateau plot in huckery highlands 3, hope you all like it!

jbr67my.jpg

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A Day On The Eastbight

Complimentary Music:  

 

Upon the Baltas, Old Mr. Crider sat, pipe in hand, his jaw missing a few teeth and his eyes bearing crows feet. He was, suffice to say, weary. His hands were worn--arthritis took them many years ago. A local youth did most of his work, and his old apprentice inherited his shop. His money was well saved, and his riverside cottage was sufficient for his needs. As long as his hands could pack his pipe, put bait on his hook, and pull himself into bed every night, God permitted him existence.

 

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The man looked upon the river. The weather was fair, as it was always fair, spare a period of supernatural, endless winter here or there, and the sky was dotted with clouds. He could swear, as he lifted his eyes to them, that one in particular resembled a crow. Before he could formulate this omen’s meaning, a knock on the stone walls of his cottage requested his presence. He took his pipe from his mouth, resting it in his hand. “How can I help ye?” the heartlander said, a constrained smile on his face.

 

“Mister Crider, could I sit with you?”

“Sure!” Crider said, his gaze shifting back to the river.

“Thanks,” the boy’s gaze shifted. “Mister Crider, I gots-ta ask you something.”

“What do you want to know?”

“You ever seen a man die?”

“What happened?” Crider questioned, his voice grim.

“Mr. Rutledge…” the boy would quiver. The man would sigh.

“When I was a younger man, there stood about five men yonder there by the pier.” he’d gesture to the dock, near the old guard tower. “Three stood there as if they didn’t really belong, one had his sword drawn, and one had a rock tied to his foot. Really, they were all where they needed to be.” He looked to the boy. “Sometimes, things just happen because they have to.” He frowned.

“What happened?”

“The man with the sword told one of the three to kick the rock off into the river.”

“Did he?”

“Yep. Ol’Sabo died before their eyes, drownin’ and beggin’ and pleadin.”

“What about the others?”

“Wasn’t too long till those three pulled their own swords and killed the leader. Same for the leader after that, and the leader after that. Ain’t no more dangerous a job than leading the masses in this place.”

“Why, Mister Crider? Why do they kill?”

“Because, boy, the people in this land are like the weather. They never change. Men with ambition will come, they’ll rise, and they’ll fall to their own flock.”

“I don’t want to die, Mr. Crider.”

“You won’t, long as you keep bringing the groceries on time and helping out Crider Junior. No trouble ever came to a blacksmith who kept his nose in his business. Now, don’t tell a word of what you saw to anyone, you hear? Keep yourself out of it and go do your business.”

 

The weather was calm that day, and the river ran smoothly. The funeral was the following day.

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Blue ink, bronze, and blood - A Battle on the Pridelands

 

In the deep south, autumnal flurries blew in from the Yatl as early as Sun’s Smile. Of course, being the year 1675, there was no encroaching, insidious cold— simply mundane snow drifts blanketing the alpine scape in white. The cold sting of Stormsinger ice was twenty years off yet, for this was an Atlas not yet completely torn by war.

 

Far north, where the Pridelands rolled for miles, walked a wood elf. No snow would touch those golden grasslands for months, and even in the dead of the Deep Cold, a light dusting was all that could be expected. The wood elf was alone, her only companions cricket song and a dry, afternoon heat. It was the kind of heat that had clothes sticking to skin, so she had removed her green sash in favour of wearing only a petal pink gown that fluttered about her ankles and snagged on the coarse grass. Aside from brittle bushes and the occasional baobab tree, to the untrained eye, the Pridelands would seem devoid of life.

 

Illynora knew otherwise.

 

A brown snake slithered over an outcropping of rock, serpentine body glistening in the light of a sun that sank further and further towards the western horizon. Illynora was an herbalist, not a snake-whisperer, so she gave the creature a wide berth as she padded towards a flower that was black as night. She had healed snake bites many a time and shuddered to think of the dozens she had yet to find an antidote for. The dark flowers  (Black Sun’s Spinster) grew in abundance where the Pridelands and the Bolemounds met, peeking out through cracks in the hard-packed earth. Illynora tore them out by the roots and stored them in an apothecary’s satchel hanging at her hip.

 

The sun was a hot brand against her back. While many herbs could be found in the dry, rolling plains, there was a desert waiting just beyond the mesa. Illynora could feel the heat sapping energy from her limbs, but still, she progressed; red dust rising in a cloud beneath her trudging, eastward footsteps. Caras Eldar lay far behind, the clinic where she was head healer quiet for the first time in many weeks. An opportunity to relax and be away from the city’s bustle was appreciated, even if the oppressive heat plugged its way down Illynora’s throat and dust settled in her lungs.

 

Night was fast approaching. Cresting a clay hill, she watched as the setting sun cast errant shards of light through what was the most beautiful and horrific thing she had ever seen.

 

Glass, were the leaves of that lone tree. Crystalline, magnificent… deadly. The city had been abuzz for days with rumours of the September Prince’s soul trees and their translucent, glass-like foliage. Illynora knew almost immediately what it was, gaze transfixed on it as twilight settled over the Pridelands. It had to be destroyed. By her reckoning, Khel’Seth was the closest settlement— she would travel there, hopefully making it before the moon had fully risen, and send a letter back to Caras Eldar.

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A party arrived at daybreak. They appeared over a hill one by one: Kairn, Mae’lyrra, Belestram, Kaz, Feanor, and three others that Illynora did not immediately recognise. Next to them, the soul tree seemed less a thing of eldritch beauty, and more a target in need of annihilation. Kairn had just begun to douse the tree’s roots with alcohol when an inhuman shriek split the air. All froze. And to the mounting horror of the elves… a black speck on the horizon began to take shape.

 

The gryphon would have been majestic, were it not for the razor-sharp talons and viciously curved beak. Twenty years later, Illynora could still see flickers of the battle in her mind’s eye. Ithelanen and Sylvaeri fought side by side (although, Mae’lyrra would not receive the ilmyumier for another half decade). Where Belestram and Feanor moved with refined elegance, the Ithelanens were possessed of a wild, untameable grace as they slashed and stabbed at the feathered beast. It was a dance of death for them, ferocious and feral— but as Illynora crouched at the soul tree’s base, she found herself mesmerised. Blue ink, bronze, and blood was the outcome of that battle.

 

Sitting before a roaring fire, the Illynora of 1698 leafed through a journal whose pages were yellowing. Illynora Aureon was embossed inside the cover, though the mali’ame now wore the crimson garb of House Sylvaeri. Once the gryphon was defeated, a tree lord had emerged from the soul tree as a secondary line of defence for the September Prince. Her slender fingers, bearing the teal Mark of the Mother, traced slowly over faded words that she had penned over twenty years before.

 

Belestram cut the Tree Lord down with his flaming runic blade— he looked like some fabled god of war, beautiful and wreathed in fire. He moved with such grace, even as the tree went up in flames behind him. And of all the people present… he seemed to be the only one who also seemed saddened at the death of something that was once living.

 

If the present day Illynora had existed in 1675, she would not have cowered beneath those crystalline leaves. She would not have had time to notice how blood decorated Kairn’s striking features like macabre warpaint. How Mae’s attention always seemed to find its way to Feanor.

 

With the tree lord dead and September’s soul tree burning, Kaz turned his eyes up to where a pillar of smoke stained the morning sky. Firelight limned the planes of his face, eternally youthful and yet battle hardened. He lead the way back to Caras Eldar, shoulder to shoulder with the mali whose hand he would remove in the very near future, on the floor of a bloodsoaked throneroom where they had both served for years.

 

Behind them, the Pridelands were black with smoke. An omen of what was to come.

Edited by Toffee

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placeholder for the yatl wasteland 

 

 

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 Yatl Wasteland

So, I know you said that the location only has to be the basic inspiration, though I found this gorgeous structure someone built, if anyone knows who built it I’d like to give them partial credit for my inspiration. I painted it fully in watercolor, as well as added some white pen detailing for the stars in the northern, or should I say  southern lights... hehe... ( since the Yatl Wasteland is in the south )...    (( I know I’m a lil goofy.. )) Anyways, I’m going to post the screenshot since you all know what I was referencing, and then the painting underneath. I really felt like this was a portal once in it’s lifetime. I know it’s just a structure, but it really resonated with me and my character since she used to be a frost witch, something about it just seems so abandoned, cold. The word ‘Wasteland’ I feel like really defines the picture very well. 

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/288908733835116546/532724965271928844/download.png

 

 

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/499197587883294722/532870992196796427/IMG_20190110_023543.jpg

Edited by Devdog
Finished my art :D

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I’ll give it a shot, why not

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Pridelands: The Wolf and the Tulip

 

 

A cool breeze brushes against the tall blades of grass. The smell of vegetation fills the nostrils of a stout Qalasheen man. He breathes in deep, the breeze entering his lungs. As he exhales and attempts to take in another breath of the relieving breeze, he is caught off guard and is met with the dry, humid air of the Pridelands. This time, it smells of dirt and cow manure. His moment of relief quickly fades and the blank expression that occupied his face turns into a slight grimace. As he exhales again and the vile breath escapes him, he picks a white rose from a nearby bush and smells it, taking in the brisk scent in an attempt to clear his lungs. He admires the perfectness of the flower. The scent, the look, every aspect about it. He turns to the sight of the towering walls that surrounds his home. And coming out from those walls, another Qalasheen man appears, one that looms above him by a large margin. He is dressed in bronze Qalasheen armor, a shamshir at his side, a bow and a full quiver of arrows on his back. Unlike the fully armored man, the stout man only wears simple cloth clothes with a mere dagger on his side.

“Are you ready, Umayya?” the towering man says, “I hope you remember where you saw it.” The stout man, Umayya, looks to him with a blank stare, his dark brown eyes showing no emotion to the towering man. “Na’am, Ahmed, I remember as clear as day,” Umayya would reply, his expression unchanging. “Then let us be off. You will lead the way,” Ahmed would say, gesturing his pointer finger towards the hills of colored terracotta in the distance. Umayya places the white tulip he held inside of his pocket, the head of it sticking out just enough to where he would not crush it.

The further the duo trek from the walls of their home, the more anxious Umayya appears. He grips the leather handle of his dagger, his eyes widening and his brows creasing. Ahmed looks to him and chuckles. “I have never seen you like this, habibi. You have always shown no emotion. Yet here, as we walk, it looks as if you are going to soil yourself.” Ahmed gives another chuckle before fixing his gaze on Umayya, who is now beginning to shake with fear. “It is nothing like I have ever seen, Ahmed,” he frantically speaks. “I do not know what the beast was. A-a wolf is my best guess. But — but what it did to the man…” he begins trailing off, his eyes beaming towards the ground. Ahmed’s gleeful expression turns into a look of worry, then back into a smile. “Rafiqi, you know me. I have slain more beasts than anyone in the Pridelands. I have even gotten the nickname Wolf from my fellow soldiers because of how many I have killed. Nothing, no man, no strange monster, no wolf will stop the Wolf.” At the sound of Ahmed’s inspiring words, Umayya appears more calm than before. He looks down and takes the tulip from his pocket. Putting the head of the tulip to his nose, he takes a deep breath, enjoying every second of the scent. Now, Umayya’s expression is blank. “Alright, habibi,” he says with his monotone voice, “let us send this beast to the Seven Skies.”

The two approach a dark terracotta cave. “This is it,” Umayya steadily explains, “The corpse should not be too far ahead now.” Ahmed carefully steps in front of Umayya and draws his shamshir, holding it in front of him, his eyes darting to cave’s aspects. The walls, made of a dark orange terracotta, are dry and cold to the touch. The only audible sounds within the cave are the footstep of the two men as they delve deeper. With each step, the air gets colder, and the footsteps seem to become louder. Ahmed, shamshir at the ready,, walks with one foot in front of the other, barely able to see the path ahead.

Suddenly, a wet smack echoes throughout the cave. Ahmed looks down and, with his limited vision, is able to make out a pool of red liquid. Behind the pool is a mangled mess of — what he can tell is — a corpse. Moving around to where the light from the entrance of the cave can illuminate the scene, he bends down and examines the body. His fingers trace the wounds that led to the sorry man’s death. While at first the body appears to be one of Qalasheen origin, a closer examination of the ears from Ahmed reveals it to be a young wood elf. “An elf?” he ponders out loud, “Looks as if this beast does not discriminate against descendants of any kind…” Ahmed would trail off before looking at the wounds again. They are small but deep gashes, all across the chest, neck and legs. “These wounds … they appear too small and precise to be one of any wolf that I know of.” He pauses to think. “If I did not know any better, I would say this young elf was murdered by someone, not something.” Ahmed glances behind him to see Umayya smelling his tulip once again. He scoffs and looks back to the body, continuing his thoughts. “It is a wild guess, but perhaps someone has wishes to start a dispute between Farfolk and—“

Ahmed is cut short by by a sharp pain at his throat. He grips it and feels a liquid running down his hand. His sight dims, and he begins coughing up more of the same liquid. As he falls down into the crimson pool that has covered the floor, he looks back to see Umayya’s blank stare. “Sleep well, Wolf, and enjoy the Seven Skies,” he says. Ahmed’s eyesight fades, and he takes his last attempt at a breath. He can tell the air in the cave is cool. A relief from the dry, humid air of the Pridelands. He cannot breathe it in.

 

Three days later, when a search party enters the cave, all they find is a pool of black, dried blood and a shriveled white tulip.

 

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Art Entry: Huckery Highlands

 

 

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This was done on paper with Sharpie and Copic markers 🙂

The story behind this drawing is as follows...

Rainey Erischi was born blind, all her life she was able to feel what she was named after, but never able to see it... Until she became a seer. After she could see, with her blindfold, of course, she began to explore, using her newfound sight to discover exactly what her life meant... Then it happened, it rained... she looked at this rain with wide eyes, shocked. This is what she was named after? This beautiful display of falling water...? Her mother must have loved her more than she had originally thought...
 

She spent the next hour after this trying to catch water in her mouth like a child, with her fiance in this “New” world... at least it was new to her, in a sense.

(The writing on this is not a separate entry)
I hope you like the art! ❤️

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- The Yatl Wastelands -

Art Entry
I found myself inspired by a build in the Yatl wastelands. This is roughly based on it. 

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Medium: Digitally painted

 

 

- The Bolemounds -

– Writing Entry --

(Unrelated to image)

 

There was a quiet solitude to the Bolemounds, a peace undisturbed by the indelicacy of mortals. No one ventured here to the sunset knolls of crumbling stone, scorched beneath the radiant sun. From beyond came a breeze as soft and tender as a lover’s breath upon skin, it swept over my sunburnt land, carrying the cool secrets of the ocean with it.

Today was not a day for doing, nor going. No, today was a perfect day, the sort of day one lazed beneath an acacia and spun dreams. Like threads upon a loom, I drew thoughts together into a picture, of a dance I’d practiced too many times. It was a dance of swords and power, of wisdom and wills. Battle.

No matter how the mortals tried, they fell one after another, offering their blood to the rusty sand of the Bolemounds.

My Bolemounds.

I knew before she arrived that someone had intruded upon my sacred place.  It wasn’t the sound of footfalls that alerted me to her presence, but a sense. A thundering heartbeat was all I needed to hear to know the familiar mortal was there.

Closer shuffled a gnarled woman. She was weathered, of dark skin, and with eyes like charcoal. Upon her forehead and at the corner of her eyes, deep wrinkles nestled into her skin. They marked the ever-moving sands of time, the years that ticked away when no one paused to look.

In that steady passing of time, from the moment these strange creatures first set foot upon my lands, many an arrogant knight had challenged me to prove themselves. They were a torrent that constantly carved away at me, as the river carved away at the stone. This woman, she was no knight, no great warrior or champion, no bloodthirsty fool sent to die.

I knew her. I’d watched her grow from a babe, raised amongst the ashen acacias and rough stone.  She had freckles gifted to her by the sun and a smile as soft as the sand beneath us. She was a scholar, who smelt of parchment and leather, whose hands swept dust from the pages of tomes, whose eyes found meaning among the language of old.

In every way she reminded me of the sweeping breeze that danced over the peaks, swept through the valleys, stirring fallen leaves and ruffling the soft feathers of Bokolo. Her musical voice, her lilting accent, they greeted me like the cool touch of wind greets the sea.

“Hello friend.”

Beside me she came to rest, her joints creaking at the effort. I knew by mortal standards that she was ancient, on the gradual slide toward death, her frail body cursed to wither and decay. In all the world, this woman, this mortal, was my only friend, and soon she would fade to nothing, as all fleeting creatures did.

For some time, we simply sat, enjoyed the stillness of the world, and the precious beauty around us, but as they often did, the mortal shattered the silence with a breath of a whisper.

“I came here to die.”

It caught me, for the first time in centuries, by surprise. My years were long, and my knowledge was great, but in all the time I’d presided over the Bolemounds, never had a mortal asked for death.

I found myself uncertain, lost on what I should do.

I could have deliberated for centuries, and no use would come of it, but I needn’t have bothered. The mortal, impatient as they were, took my silence as a ‘no’.

She, a bright creature, came prepared with an alternate plan. From a worn leather pouch, slung around her waist, she drew a knife. It was small, improper for anything but sharpening sticks of charcoal, but the look in her eyes spoke of a passion I feared.

It was the ones with passion that always came the closest, fought the hardest, lasted the longest. They had the drive to kill me, a reason from the heart that pushed them beyond usual mortal boundaries.

This woman, withered and frail, had all the passion in the world as she thrusted that small knife toward my chest. Through my shock I managed to bat her hand away. My nature told me to answer the fight, to end the intruder who threatened my home, but for the first time, I fought that nature and stepped away. I didn’t wish to kill her, not this woman, not now.

Instead I left her. Hoped beyond hope she would concede.

She did no such thing.

The soft sand underfoot hissed as steps followed me into the rich afternoon sun. Again, she drove that small knife toward me. This time I caught her by her wrists. She was weak, slight, as brittle as the smallest twigs of the acacia. Even so, she stirred the deepest part of my heart, the nature that whispered to defend my home. To kill.

“Leave,” I murmured, the woman’s language unfamiliar on my ancient tongue.

She refused.

With one simple act, she ripped my self-control from me, relinquished my decisions to a deeper, ancient thing that I didn’t understand.

Before I realised it, I’d turned the knife on her. I pressed it into the soft flesh of her belly. She made a noise, an indescribable noise, something like pain and triumph.

Those dark eyes, they met mine and for the first time in my existence, I felt guilt, honest and raw. My friend, my only friend, dying by my hand. I wanted to take it back, all of it, but there was no replacing the blood that poured gradually into the rusty sand. There was no saving her when we were so far from anywhere, and her elderly body was so frail.

All I could do for her now was to hold her and wait for her breaths to waver.

The whisper came as the sun waned, at the time when pastels spattered the sky and stars began to peek through.

“Hello friend.”

As though I wasn’t cradling her body, as though I hadn’t killed her, she lowered herself into the stained sand beside me. I knew as soon as my eyes found her, that she wasn’t quite there. Neither alive nor dead, her edges were uncertain and her form wavered, flickering as though she was made of candlelight. I watched her, or what was left of her. She was little more than the part that should have scattered on the easterly wind, the part meant for some other world.

Despite the thousands of words brewing in my heart, I could only think to utter one question as the veil of twilight fell over the Bolemounds, bringing a close to what should have been the perfect day.

“Why?”

“You have been lonely for long enough.”

 

 

 

Edited by IsolatedIncident

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~~~~~ The Loftywoods ~~~~~

’read the text at the end for a little explanation 😛

"Adrian! The next time we go on a raid and you take that stupid crow of yours with you, I will rip all its feathers off!" Carden lashed out.

Through the Loftywoods, on a small leading only further into the forest, three men in armor walked in silence. Well, not anymore really. Before one of them lashed out against his companion, the only thing that was heard was the sounds of their armor clinging and a crow on the shoulder of one of them. The small creature was begging for attention, nuzzling itself into Adrian's neck. "As if I would let you near him Carden" He snapped back at him, stroking the crow's head.

 

Carden was the assigned leader of their small group. A broad, muscular man with black hair that had no particular style and a thick beard. He was the one who had the last say about everything, including Adrian's pet. Then there's Adrian, a guy with long blond hair, blue eyes, and a pet crow. He found it once on the road with a wounded wing. Adrian fed it and patched it up, it never really left ever since.

And then there's Rylan, the one who was shivering because of a tingling feeling going through his spine. The new guy, the one who has to run all the errands and to put it simply, he was sick of it. Stupid chores that take all day, calling them a trial before you could call yourself a real member of that clan. Everyone called it a trial, yet for Rylan, it seemed like torture. That's why he was more than relieved and happy to hear he was going on a raid. It was like everything became much brighter that day. That those endless chores would finally stop and it was an amazing feeling. This raid they were going on was his first ever real job outside of his bandit clan's fortress. He was tired of sharpening the swords or cleaning the sets of armor, now it was his time to prove his worth. The leader said that it was nothing more than stealing candy from a baby, well it could be compared to it.

A meadery located in the Loftywoods and as far as the intel goes, with no security. The leader told Rylan that the guy who ordered this raid was a rival of this meadery saying that his sales dropped because of the success of this guy. The next thing you know, you have a decent amount of gold and a job to do. "Just shut up about my crow and tell us where to go!" Adrian yelled. The crow on his shoulder visibly flinched at its owner's loud voice. Rylan rolled his eyes at his companions. Until now, they haven't done anything else but argue about even the smallest nuisance. "Fine, if that is what it takes to get you quiet! It won't be too much to handle. At midnight, we'll raid this meadery, sabotage some stuff and take whatever we want. We'll wait at a camp near our destination where another guy will join us, Brutus." While Carden got deeper into the details, Rylan took a moment to look around him. The Loftywoods was a thick forest. There was quite a lot of shrubbery which meant hiding spots.

 

A strong, cold breeze picked up. Rylan felt himself shiver at the cold touch of the wind. "So, you say it's gonna be easy, but why are we gonna hide in a camp then? Why not just storm in and ransack the place? There are no guards according to the intel." Adrian said. It did sound a little weird. They would only camp out when there were possible dangers at day. "The target is safe to raid, yes. These woods aren't though." Carden took a break from his sentence. He started counting a row of trees at the side of the road. After counting a certain amount, he turned right, leading the group into the woods and away from the path. "Rumors are going around that a group of criminals or murderers are hiding out here in the woods." Rylan's eyes shot towards Carden at the word 'murderers'. "A group of them? That just sounds ridiculous. Who the hell started that stupid lie." Adrian scoffed at his companions warning. "Does it look like I know? The townsfolk around here say that those criminals are hired by the owner of the meadery. They all look different, with scars and crazed eyes. They always attacked big groups of people, mostly mercenaries. The funny thing is that the stories of the survivors always say that they were able to take down one of their attackers, yet no bodies of there so-called attackers were found." While Carden was talking about the strange attacks, Adrian turned around towards Rylan and mimicked their commander's chitchat.

To his companions, this all seemed like nonsense or a joke. Rylan, on the other hand, got a sickening feeling at the thought that a group of vicious criminals was walking around. They were no better themselves, a pack of thieves. He was out for his first time, which was already making him nervous enough. Now there was dangerous competition in the area. The idea of their presence made him anxious, scared for a crazed man to jump out of the woods. "I heard those stupid stories as well. Let me tell ya, it's just a bunch of horror stories to keep people away." Adian mocked his commander's tales. Carden looked behind him and gave the blond-haired bandit a death glare. "Fairy tale or not, we're taking precautions." The words leaving his mouth had a small hint of anger. Adrian didn't make a sarcastic response and kept quiet, probably the best move he could make right now.

 

The anxious feeling of being watched followed Rylan all the way to their camp. When they arrived there were two small tents set up, A fire was lit in between the small shelters. This was obviously their camp, but where was that other guy they had to meet? Carden immediately checked the tents. Rylan got a nervous feeling. Something was off and the first thing that got to mind were those killers. It was already dark and the moon was already shining, lighting up the world just a small bit. Rylan could swear he saw the shadows from a few trees dance in the light.

The crow cawed, Rylan flinched at the sound and turned around. He already had his hand ready to unsheathe his blade. "Really? you got to be kidding me, you're really afraid of those rumors!" Adrian let out a booming laugh. Rylan hung his head, ashamed of the painful truth that he was indeed scared. "Shut it, Adrian! There's nothing to be afraid of. Brutus is probably in the area." Carden stuck his head out of the tent he was searching. "Don't worry about those stories. Rylan, could you please check the area and look for Brutus. He has a beard, a scar by his left eye and has his hair in a braid reaching all the way to his neck." Carden gave Rylan a small shoulder pat as encouragement. Rylan didn't want to be out there alone. He would rather have one of them with him. At this rate, he would even be happy if Adrian went with him. Rylan turned his gaze to the dark trees, gathered his courage and went out to look for Brutus. It was not like he had a choice, Carden was the one in charge. He looked back at his two companions. Carden was giving Adrian a lecture, he didn't sound very mad with the blond haired guy. Rylan noticed the bird on Adrian's shoulder. Just merely minutes ago it was still craving for attention and jumping around on Adrian's shoulder. Now it was just sitting there quietly, it was like the crow was making himself smaller, hiding underneath its wings, staring towards Rylan's direction.

 

Rylan wandered through the dark. He wished that he was still at the camp. It felt like trees were watching him, that the wind was listening to him. The suffocating feeling of fear crept up his legs. A tingling sensation spread from his spine towards the rest of his body. That anxious feeling of being watched was getting to him. He stopped in his tracks, the wind picked up again. The only reason he didn't turn back right there and then was because he refused to be a coward. He could already see Adrian mocking him. "Brutus? Are you out here?" He yelled into the dark. Rylan scratched himself behind his head. He looked behind him and found the light of the fire far away. Did he wander that far off? That weird tingling feeling went through his body again. His vision went fuzzy for a second. He called everything off immediately, he was heading back. Something was off and he could feel it. He rubbed his eyes for a second. He looked back to where the fire was, but the small light of the fire in the distance was gone. He stared into the night, frozen in place. Mindlessly, he took a few steps into the direction where the fire just was. "Something wrong, Kid?" a deep voice came from behind Rylan. "Brutus!" Rylan turned around, a smile already plastered on his face. That smile didn't stay long though.

 

A tall, male, Dark elf stood behind him. The silver hair of the elf was messy, A stubble on his cheeks and yellow eyes looking down on Rylan. The tall elf's face was lit up by the moonlight. Rylan could count many scars scattered around the elf's face, it was like his face was some kind of canvas. The elf took a step forward. Rylan's body took a step backward on instinct. He felt his throat tighten. Rylan looked behind him again, hoping that the light of the fire was lit up again. There was nothing to see, no safety to run to. "Do you think that if you run back to them that they will help you?" The elf his voice had a small echo. Rylan couldn't even figure out where this guy had come from. "Do you think that I would have followed you if you ran? Do I look that stupid." The elf pulled a sinister smile and tilted his head. The light of the moon now only lit up half his face, but you could still see his yellow eyes in the dark part. Rylan noticed that the hands of the elf rested by his belt. It took a moment to figure out it was near the hilt of a sword. "Tell me, kid, how long did you take getting here? You traveled a big distance, just to prove yourself." Rylan's mouth fell open. How did he know? "This raid is your ticket out of the hellhole you're in right now. All the chores, being called a greenhorn and now you're finally here." Rylan was shocked at how the elf knew about this. The situation escalated for him, to the point he was able to push himself to unsheathe his sword. In the darkness, where you could literally smell his fear mixed with the smell of the forest. He tried to keep his defensive pose with the blade up, but you could see the tip of his sword shaking. He had made his fear visible. The elf let out a roaring laugh. "I can see your fear, kid. What are you going to do? Cry out for help? As if your companions would believe you! They already know your scared of the spooky stories of murderers in these forests!" The elf pretended to be some kind of scary monster. "What's that other guy's name, the one with the blond hair and that crow, Adrian, right? What is it you're gonna do when you find him? Tell him you saw me, tell him that you saw a big scary elf with a sword, tell him that you saw one of the so-called killers!" The mockery in the elf's voice grew. Rylan looked into the yellow eyes of the elf. You could see the joy he was having making fun of Rylan. "You hate Adrian. I can sense it, feel it in my bones that you have a hatred for that man!" It was true, Adrian was the worst of them all. He was the one that made life harder, he was the one that made fun of him when Rylan made a small mistake. The tip of his sword became a bit steadier. "That commander of yours, Carden. Do you think he would believe you? The reason that you're out here is that you had one mission!" The elf held up a finger. "You only have one mission, and that is to find Brutus. The best part is that you have already failed!"

 

The elf used his finger to pretend to slit his throat. "You already failed at finding at him, I made sure of that. You have already disappointed the one man you look up to, the one man who gave you a chance. What are you going to do about that?" The man took a few steps forward. That was it, that's all Rylan could say in his mind. He couldn't think straight, he couldn't think about the consequences. He was done with Adrian, He was gonna prove that bastard wrong, he was gonna please Carden, he was gonna make himself a real member of their clan. In a rage of the elf's words, he rushed forward with his sword. He barely had any idea what was going on around him. Rage could make a person just as a blind as love could. He could the elf unsheathing his sword as well, but he was too late. Rylan's blade dug itself deep inside the elf's chest. Rylan ripped his sword back, the blood gushed out of the wound and flung all over Rylan's armor. He watched as the elf fell forward, face flat to the ground. At first, he was in shock of his kill, but he realized how proud Carden would be. Adrian had to see this, it would make him shut up for sure! Excited, he turned the body on his back. Rylan dropped his sword.

 

A man with braided hair and a beard looked back up at him with dead eyes, Brutus. 'It's not possible' that were the only words that shot through Rylan's head. There was an elf right here! there was an elf here, just seconds ago! He screamed the words in his head. He ran around the body, hands in his hair, panicking and repeating the word 'no'. This couldn't be happening, where was the elf! There was no answer for him, he couldn't think of any. Rylan walked circles around the body. You could hear his feet splash in the pool of blood. In his panic, he didn't notice a figure walking towards him. A tall, female, dark elf wearing purple robes stood just a couple of feet away from the body. Rylan slowly came to a stop, looking towards the elf. You could see the drops of sweat drip down his chin and his eyes yelled panic. "stay away!" He yelled at her. He frantically looked for his sword in the pool of blood. "where is the other elf!" he screamed at her. "The only elf here is me." she casually responded. Rylan found his blade and held it up, it was covered in blood on one side. Rylan was disgusted at the smell of it. "The only elf that's here is me, the man you killed was the only one here beside me." she had a small sinister grin on her face. "You're lying! I killed a Dark elf! Where is he! He knew everything about me!" Her smile grew wider and even more sinister. "The elf you saw, was nothing more than an illusion I created. I made you perceive the appearance of this man different as well as his words. He yelled at you that his name was Brutus. When you pulled your sword he asked you not to be irrational. When you raced at him with your blade it was already too late." Rylan could almost gag. "I'm the meadery owner's sister that so happens to be a Mental Mage." She put her finger to her lips. Rylan froze and stared at her. "He might be the black sheep from the family, but I still love him."

 

Slowly in his mind, Rylan could piece the rumors together, like a puzzle. Why everyone says they were able to defeat some of the mercenaries. Why none of those bodies were found except the bodies of the victims. She tricked all of them, she tricked all of them into killing each other like a pack of feral dogs.

Within a blink of an eye, her figure had disappeared. A tingling feeling went over his spine again. Rylan realized how his ability to perceive had been messed the entire time.

He heard the voices of Adrian and Carden, running towards him. He stood there, covered in blood, next to the body of companion he had murdered and with a story they would never believe.

 

~ So what basically happened was that I read about Mental mages in the arcane magic section. I figured out that those mages could change the way one perceived the outside world to a certain point and that they could read one’s mind. However, this can’t be forced. To indicate when the mage was inside Rylan’s mind, I made him get tingling feelings in his spine. This you’re able to know when she was changing his world and how she knew all of it. and now that I’m done writing, imma go sleep.”

 

 

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~The Frozenpines~

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Deep within the lands of the Frozenpines would gleam a special find tucked away against the rocky caves, a sparkling flower would be found by curious and lucky passerby.  Originally a normal flower the roots have absorbed large quantities of minerals from the earth and glossed its petals and stem with hardening crystal to help catch the light of the sun and guard it against the blistering weather. Each flower is unique in its formation and coloring as they take from the minerals around it, often times being difficult to spot against the bright snow.

Edited by ItsMyWorld66

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