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About Xarkly

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  • Birthday 05/02/1998

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    Conor #8203
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    Tíocfidh ár lá.

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    a loyal orenian patriot
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  1. long live king stannis

    1. Dardonas


      rightful heir to the throne and ruler of westeros

  2. “Good fuckin’ grief,” Old Edward Barbanov stewed when he heard the news during his evening bath. “If you’re going to appoint your own Pontiff, at least raise a new clergyman rather than the fucker you deposed. I swear, youngsters these days do everything half-arsed. You didn’t see this kind of carry on back in my day!” he ranted to his manservant, who frowned uncomfortably while scrubbing the old prince’s back.
  3. Xarkly


    “Don’t ever wear a crown, boys,” Edward Audemar Barbanov remarked to his sons when they convened for dinner. “If these louts are anything to go by, it’ll rot your damn brain.”
  4. does new sevenna still have the statue of renna

    1. Skyrunner


      @Xarkly pls this is important info

    2. Chimp


      what about all the horen statues

  5. Xarkly

    Atlas Epilogue

    the scene with horen is in vaeyls head, he's not actually alive. Its a theatrical portrayal of vaeyls thoughts and feelings
  6. Xarkly

    Atlas Epilogue

    ATLAS: EPILOGUE [Loop this track] From atop the enormous ravines shadowing the ruins of Deep Harbor, Vaeyl of Aegis watched the Descendant ships slide across the water. Cutting through the thin ice, their sails swelled with a frigid wind as they gained speed and lurched forward. And then, within mere moments, they sailed further down the fjord, and out of sight. Just like that, they were gone. The enemy the Vaeyl Order had grappled with for so long, the invaders of Atlas, were gone in the blink of an eye. Vaeyl did not cheer, however. He had thought it might be gentle relief, a subtle euphoria, that he would feel when he finally saw the Descendants depart Atlas for good, but now that he stood here, having just witnessed it … He did not feel anything. “Is this how you felt?” he asked, his breath seeping from his helmet in the form of pale mist. “Yes,” a voice behind him answered – a male’s voice, smooth and mild. “Victory is seldom sweet for kings and generals. The greater good is always fleeting.” A silence fell as Vaeyl simply watched the rippling water where the Descendant ships had been mere minutes ago. Eventually, the man behind Vaeyl asked, “Does this mean you understand why I had the Oathstone created now? Why I had you turned into the creatures you now are?” Rage surged through Vaeyl as he balled his gauntlets into fist. He wanted to turn at the other man scream, bellow that he did not understand and never will, that he could never forgive … The anger inside him deflated with a deep sigh. “I do understand,” he managed through gritted teeth. “We needed a way to beat the Undead. We were a sacrifice for the greater good.” His helmet creaked as he lowered his gaze to the snow at his feet. “Just like Serris.” “Quite so,” the other man murmured his agreement. “She knew her duty, though, and she played her part beautifully. I can’t imagine a better person to convince the Descendants that this civil war of yours was real, that the Red Vaeyl were truly an ultimate evil to rally against.” “Yes,” Vaeyl said wistfully, and glanced across the ravines towards the west – towards Caer Baddyn, where the Red Vaeyl had made their final stand. “I … only wish she was still alive to see what she had won.” “Decisions are always hardest for those who must live to see them through. Surely you know that by now, old friend?” Finally, Vaeyl turned to the other man. Horen looked exactly as Vaeyl remembered: tall and lean-faced, his hair was iron-grey and threaded with streaks of white, though his neat beard had more of its original brown colour to it. His satin cloak, black and purple, was pinned by a silver dragon brooch on the breast of his vest of chainmail. A gloved hand rested on the dragon-pommel of his sheathed sword as he watched Vaeyl with dark, inquisitive eyes. “I do,” he breathed softly. “Iblees curse me, I do.” Horen only smiled. A sad, knowing smile. He stepped forward, snow crunching beneath his boots, as he joined Vaeyl at the edge of the ravine. He inhaled slowly through his nose, before he sighed, and settled his eyes on Deep Harbour below. The water had stopped rippling. “So, my old friend,” he began. “Time for a new chapter?” Vaeyl nodded. Slowly, he reached up, and removed his helmet. It was refreshing, to let his dark, matted hair tangle in the chill wind. He turned the helmet over in his hands, and stared at the white eye painted across the visor. “Time for a new chapter.” The helmet dropped into the snow. With Vaeyl turned around, Horen was not there. Sucking in one last breath of frigid air, he began the long walk back to Lasthope. He had come alone to see the Descendant’s depart, but he knew the rest of the Order would be waiting beyond the Wall. He was so lost in thought that it felt like only minutes until he found himself at the gates back into Atlas proper. Stepping through to the other side with heavy, lumbering footsteps, he found them all waiting inside the ruins of Lasthope: what was left of the Order. Even that sent a stab of regret lancing through Vaeyl; a thousand years ago, not even one percent of the Order’s forces could fit inside Lasthope’s great hall. Now, a scarce few hundred remained, making the hall seem lonely. As Vaeyl entered through the collapsed doorway, they all turned to stare at him expectantly. He was the only one of them without a helmet, of course, but for a moment he simply looked at each of them. Then, he bent down, and picked up a fallen brick. He stacked it back on the wall from where it had fallen, before he looked back to the silent Knights. “Well, what are you waiting for?” he asked them. “This castle is not going to rebuild itself.” 100 YEARS LATER “ … shipments of grain from New Kahaer by next winter, and … Lord-General?” Vaeyl glanced up with a start. Across the table, a pale-faced woman, her silvery hair piled in ornate curls, was frowning at him. “Did you hear me, Lord-General?” ”I, ah, yes,” he lied, straightening up in his high-backed chair. “My apologies, Queen-Governor. I am sure King-Governor Faidas has no objection to increased grain shipments until we can send Stormsingers to fix the drought in New Endmoor?” He glanced down the table, past rows of King and Queen-Governors in silks and satin, to a dark-skinned man with a hooked nose in a cream coat. “ … Very well, Lord-General,” Faidas muttered reluctantly. “So long as it is only for one winter, however. New Kahaer does not have enough grain to feed all Atlas.” Murmurs rippled across the table at that, and Vaeyl nearly laughed: he knew full well that New Kahaer had enough grain to feed Atlas twice over, but King-Governor Faidas had never let go of his province’s resources unless Vaeyl himself gave the direct order. “We are all indebted to your generosity,” Vaeyl said with a respectful nod, before he looked to the silver-haired woman he had woken him from his day-dream. “The Queen-Governor Elsaea most especially, I am sure.” Elsaea took the hint, and mimicked the deep nod to Faidas. “New Endmoor thanks you sincerely, King-Governor.” Before Faidas could draw out the ordeal, Vaeyl tapped his knuckles on the table. “Let us adjourn for now, my lords and ladies. I think a few minutes of fresh air would do us all some good.” The men and women seated at the table rose without delay, and exchanged quiet formalities before the council room emptied. Vaeyl was left alone sitting at the head of the table, except for a man who stood at the back wall behind him, clad all in black plate with a White Eye painted on his breast and helmet. “You must prod me when I doze off like that, Taevynd,” he grumbled. His eyes drifted to the centre of the table, where an ornate map of Atlas was spread out, with calligraphed names to mark the great cities of Atlas. Most of them were the cities that the Descendants from Axios had left empty when they travelled to Arcas, only now they went by different names: to the north, the city that had once been called Carolustadt was now the flourishing trade-capital of New Sevenna; the lands abandoned by the Elves of Gladewynn had become New Endmoor; and the city that Vaeyl stood in at that very moment had once been called Markev, before it had been rechristened as New Yrodholm. “What am I to do, Lord-General?” Taevynd protested. “Lean over and poke you while a Queen-Governor is petitioning you? It would not be proper.” “No,” Vaeyl agreed as he pushed to his feet. “I suppose it would not. Come, though, let’s walk. I am sick to death of this room.” Whenever a Sitting of the Governor-Royarchs was called, Vaeyl always dreaded spending days listening to their reports and petitions. That was a small price to pay for peace though: under the ultimate authority of the Vaeyl Order, none of Atlas’ provinces ever dreamed of war now. The sheer thought was foreign to them. His mood softened a little as he pushed out of the council chambers with Taevynd, onto a balcony that overlooked the city below. New Yrodholm had tripled in size since the days it had been known as Markev. Tall townhouses spanned neat, paved streets, occassionally shadowed by a colourfully-slated tower of a noble’s manor. People thronged the streets, all in well-cut wool and some in silks, browsing between market stalls as the autumn sun bore down on them overhead. The sounds of traders crying their wares, horseshoes drumming against the street and a thousand voices talking washed over Vaeyl. To him, it was a dulcet sound. Even in the heart of the city, he could make out distant farms on the rising hilltops that ringed the city to the south. It was a vision of peace: after fighting for countless centuries, he could recognize peace immediately. In truth, he was envious of the citizens, who had never known war in their life. He was even jealous of the recruits training in the courtyard below, sparring in plain black platemail – it was only when they were properly Knighted would they be allowed to paint the White Eye on their breast. Squinting, he glanced up at the sun. ”Thank you, Serris,” he whispered under his breath. ”Hm? Did you say something, Lord-General?” Taevynd asked at his side, and Vaeyl shook his head. ”No, nothing. Would you still the Governor-Royarchs that we shall resume in five minutes, Taevynd?” “Of course, Lord-General.” Planting a fist over his heart, he turned and marched back into the council chambers to assemble the nobles. Vaeyl was left on the balcony, still clad in his Order plate despite the warmth of the morning. He sucked in a breath through his nose, and simply smiled. Overhead, from the highest spire of the palace in New Yrodholm, the black-white banner stirred as the wind picked up. The White Eye billowed triumphantly in the wind. The End.
  7. So since transitioning map removed locks on bookcases, here’s the full compilation of them: https://docs.google.com/document/d/181LC1dj0N4y9CP7AAqgRlYy7mCphbmicUauxhzlHKoM/edit?usp=sharing With that said, hope you enjoyed Serrimor and the new type of transition map it offered. Since we’ve left and there’s a lot of stuff that didn’t get done, we’re hoping to do a Return to Serrimor eventline in the future, so stay tune for that. Enjoy the lore.
  8. “Lord-General? They’ve breached the main keep.” From atop the black-slate dome, the highest point in all Caer Baddyn, Serris of Deep Harbour irritably tapped her gaunleted fingers against the stone balustrade. “Yes,” came the soft, absent-minded words from her mouth, “thank you Reyyin.” She did not know why she was not shouting, yelling at the top of her lungs as she always did when someone pointed out the obvious to her: Reyyin had been there when Serris watched the Descendant armies breached Caer Caedris through a side gate – their war cries had mingled with those of her own Red Vaeyl before chaos flooded the fortress. She had simply watched as the Descendants fought to the death for every room in the castle, leaving a trail of bodies – both their own and Vaeyl – in their wake. Clumps of ice throughout the fort had been tinted an eerie red by the blood that swam like rivers through the groves and pock-marks of Caer Baddyn’s eroded stone. “Lord-General?” came Reyyin’s voice from behind, a little more urgently now. Still, though, no anger rose in Serris, not even as the restless din of steel ringing and people dying muted all other sounds. “Thank you, Reyyin. Go and join our brothers and sisters on the frontline.” She had spoken so gently that at first she was not sure if Reyyin had heard her, but a moment later, the lieutenant placed a fist over his heart ceremoniously, and marched down from the dome, leaving Serris alone. Alone, surrounded by death and destruction. But then again, she had always been – from the very first day she had enlisted as a footsoldier of the Third Banner of the Dragon back on Aegis, to her first battle against the Daemon’s Undead Hordes, nigh two thousand years ago. Two thousand years, and she was still the epicentre of death and bloodshed. Beneath her helmet, she gently closed her eyes, and blocked out the shrill song of battle. “No,” she muttered, her breath forming pale mist. She had fought all her life, but not for the sake of death; it had always been for a purpose, a purpose greater than her. Once, for all Descendants, but now … Now, she knew she fought for home. The one thing the Vaeyl Order had always fought for was purpose: a reason to live so that they did not drown in the despair of tainted immortality and go mad. That purpose had become home – it had become Atlas, a land they fought for, bled for, died for, countless times over. And now, after so long, it would be theirs again. Not hers, of course. She knew she would never live to see Atlas under the Vaeyl again; she had known that long before she left Lasthope before the Siege in order to lure the Descendants behind the Wall, to wipe out the Red Vaeyl once and for all. She had known it all this time, yet know, with that death looming imminently, she did not know how to feel. Her body felt empty, deflated, and her thoughts swam uncontrollably in her mind. She had died before, of course – countless times – but never had her head being cut off; the only true way to kill a Vaeyl. She was not afraid; no, she had long since divorced fear. It was both hope and anxiety that gnawed at her now; anxious to know what would truly happen when she embraced the long sleep in reality, and hope for an end. A final end, to all the bloodshed, the fighting. Fighting for the Vaeyl was what had kept her own mind sane over the long years, but she was weary, now. So tired and weary. It took her a moment to realize the sounds of battle had died, only to be replaced by bootsteps. She looked across the dome, to where the first of the Descendant soldiers climbed up. Their once-smooth steel mail was scarred and rent, and their sashes and tabards in the colours of their nations were caked with grim and blood. Staggering to a halt as they found only her atop the fortress, they levelled swords and spears as the rest of their comrades hurried into the tower. Within seconds, Serris was facing a row of jagged weapons. The soldiers did not take their eyes off her as they waited for the order to attack. Despite herself, Serris laughed. To face true death, without knowing what awaited her … Why, it almost exciting. Almost. Perhaps, though, she would see her family again. Her boys, Oevn and Tyrrin, and her husband Heon. It had been a millenia, of course. As she reached for her sword, she vaguely tried to picture her long-dead family. No images came. With the sharp kiss of metal scraping leather, her sword left its sheath. There were more Descendants now: more weapons pointed at her. She did not need to look at the corpses below to know the Red Vaeyl had been annhilated. She was alone, now. The Red Vaeyl had served its purpose, and died at the proper moment. Atlas was saved - saved for the Vaeyl. Surrounded on all sides by Descendants, tears dripping down her cheeks, she drew her sword and laughed. The puzzled look on their faces only made her laugh harder. [[ https://imgur.com/a/Nn5kg0R screenies by Jenny ]]
  9. Xarkly

    A Time to Answer

    With the unrelenting high winds spreading from the south and the temperatures plummeting deeper each year, those who came to Endmoor heard the Pact from the Vaeyl Order: The White Vaeyl would foil the Red Vaeyl’s attempts to genocide the Descendant people – in return, the Descendant people would accept an ancient chart and leave Atlas in the hands of its rightful owners – the Vaeyl Order. The Pact had been spread far and wide, sowing doubt and uncertainty. Yet the time for consideration had passed; it was clear now that the summer of 1705 might be the last of its kind on Atlas. The Pact had been offered to the nations of Atlas, and now the Vaeyl Order awaited its answer. [[ All those who participated in the Vaeyl events in the past two weeks relating to the Sea Chart/Endmoor meetings should contact me – Conor#8203 – to respond to the Order’s ultimatum. If you’re part of a group who haven’t participated so far, also feel free to contact me as soon as you can; this will be the last chance to engage in the eventline properly before the opening of the wall finale. ]]
  10. https://discord.gg/jDQTuCJ So yeah quick reminder if you wanna get yourself involved with the close of the Vaeyl Eventline best way to do so is to hop into this Discord to schedule some events. This weekend should hopefully be the final part of the Endmoor Summit which sets the stage for the final two weeks – you can check that out here and if your nation/group hasn’t attempted to schedule something I definitely encourage you to do so – https://www.lordofthecraft.net/forums/topic/179189-a-summons-to-endmoor/ Other than that stay tuned
  11. https://discord.gg/MFgHWS One of the main problems with the Vaeyl eventline is that it can be hard to schedule stuff given the demand for events and also reaching out to more minor groups. In an effort to remedy both of these issues, one of the things I’m gonna try is to use an event Discord just to organize stuff a little better. So even if you’ve never participated in a Vaeyl event before - even if you’ve never even heard of the Vaeyl – then feel free to join the Discord or just message me to get involved. The Discord contains a complete recap of everything you might have missed to date, and others will be there to inform you too. This post details the next step of the eventline: And quick side note, contest results are out tomorrow.
  12. The Grand Harvest had come with the turn of the eighteenth century, but for years now, the barrier between spring and winter had been blurred. The Yatl Storm, of course, was to blame. The unnatural, endless blizzard that veiled the sky in snowclouds and sowed famine and death across southern Atlas. It had not crossed the threshold of the Cloud Temple, the divide between north and south Atlas, yet the scourge of the Red Vaeyl had expanded the blizzard before, and the fear that they might do so again was as chilling as the frigid cold it brought. Yet while the Red Vaeyl had been shattered with the Descendant Siege of Lasthope, the endless storm desecrating the south had not relented. All throughout the Sleetfells, farms stood abandoned, frost-glazed barns sheltering only the bones of livestock who had succumbed to the cold. Further south still, in the Frozenpines, entire settlements, once home to woodcutters, miners and hunters, were devoid of life where they were not completely buried beneath snow. Now only the Mali’Fenn endured the bitter, unnatural cold. Each passing winter left more farms abandoned, more fields barren, further north into the Highlands. The peasants, driven from their homes and livelihoods by the cold, thusly flocked to the land’s great cities, to Markev and Carolustadt, where another fear soon blossomed: with the southern fields rendered useless, how long could food supplies last? If the Red Vaeyl were destroyed, then why did the blizzard still persist? Where were the White Vaeyl, the supposed allies of Descendants? When was Xarkly going to finish his exams and actually do something with this stupid blizzard? Despite the September Prince’s defeat, Atlas became gripped with uncertainty, it’s populace teetering on the brink of fear, waiting, waiting and wondering for the next chapter of this grim tale. And then, in the cold spring of 1701, that chapter began. For the first time in years, White-Eye banners appeared on the roads of Atlas. Carried by figures clad all in black-and-white plate, the signature White Eye of the Vaeyl Order painted on their breast, the banners flocked towards settlements all across Atlas. Not merely castle towns occupied by lords, but farmsteads and hamlets alike. They travelled in groups of threes, and it was not long before their message spread across the land like fire. “Cyweir irrin fael hyr ys,” they always began in their odd, musical language. It was always the standard-bearer who spoke first. “Syyr ennyn yf arraiv cas Endmoor svaefyn.” As soon the first speaker finished, another chimed in instantly with the same accent, though this time in a more familiar tongue. “If you wish to survive and end the blizzard before famine takes you all, your leader will come to Endmoor, and trade words with the Lord-General.” It was that message that was repeated across Atlas, from the lands in the south already lost to the frost and darkness, to the still-fertile north. [[ All factions and all players are invited to travel to the ruins of Endmoor to interact with the Vaeyl Order. The ruins of Endmoor are found on a hill on the road between Cloud Temple and the old Dominion capital. The spot on the road is marked with tall black/white flags. Contact Xarkly to arrange an interaction. These messangers will also be roleplayed out over the weekend, so look out for them around your settlement. ]]
  13. Vaeyl of Aegis closed his eyes, and sucked in a slow breath before he stepped through the threshold of Lasthope’s ruined gate. The Descendant siege-engines had left the ancient fortress in ruin. The gate itself had been reduced to a gaping hole in the castle’s front, through which the frigid blizzard winds of the Yatl Wasteland blew into halls once lit by scented braziers and mounted with banners and tapestries. Now those halls were dark, absent of heat and light, with the rotted wooden floors glazed in snow and frost and the decorations long since shredded by the wind. He proceeded slowly, each step crunching under the piles of splintered timber and rubble until he found himself in the Great Hall. His heart sank. What were you expecting, fool? He scolded himself as he scanned the gutted hall: blood had rotted and soaked the floorboards crimson so that they creaked dangerously under Vaeyl’s weight; several pillars and beams had collapsed, creating mounds of rubble; and the entire back wall of the hall was buried beneath ice, dislodged from the Wall itself during the fighting. His scouts had told them there were scores of Descendant bodies, from half a dozen different nations and races that had stood against the Red Vaeyl, but he saw no sign of them now. It did not take long, however, for him to spot heaps of ash piled in one dark, frozen corner of the hall. At least they weren’t left to rot, he thought grimly. Slowly, he hunched down at the foot of the ash pile. His mouth opened to recite a prayer, but the words never came. Instead, he sighed through his nose, and drew a cross before standing again. A pile of ash makes a poor monument for all those who died here, he thought as he stared at the jagged ice that had swallowed up the throne at the back of the hall. Despite the glassy surface of the ice that showed him only his own reflection, Vaeyl knew exactly where the throne was beneath all that ice, just as well as he knew what banners and tapestries had hung from the collapsed pillars, just as well as he knew every little detail about the fortress. He had built it, after all, all those centuries ago. Back then it had been a far cry from the behemoth it had become: it had served Vaeyl and his Order only one purpose back then - to climb the Wall. It had been a monument of hatred, a symbol of their sole remaining will to climb the Wall and seek revenge. But after that it had become a monument of hope once they had begun to build their empire - it had been a bulwark of unquestionable safety for all Atlas’ people. More than that - and though Vaeyl himself would never have admitted it back then - it had kept the Order alive. After their had been lost their humanity so long ago, this castle had become the cradle from which the Vaeyl Order nurtured an excuse to keep living, to keep fighting. It had been their own last hope. Vaeyl smiled beneath his helmet at that thought, and it took him a moment to realize his eyes had blurred with budding tears. “Last hope,” he muttered, his breath a plume of pale mist. “Well, it’s certainly ironic.” His eyes surveyed the hall – the hall where he had once built an army purely for revenge, and the hall where he had once built an empire. A ruin, now. The Descendant siege had left it a gutted ruin, collapsed and damaged beyond repair. Vaeyl shut his eyes softly, and let the tears subside before he turned to leave. It was only as he approached the titanic hole in the gateway, through which the wind roared, that he spotted black platemail from beneath a pile of rubble. He crouched down, and began to pull away the collapsed bricks to uncover a red-slashed eye painted on the breast of a Vaeyl Orderman, clad from head to foot in black-white mail. Despite himself, he did not try to quash the pang of guilt that stabbed at his stomach. He raised his gauntlet, and paused in surprise to find that his fingers were shaking. Gently, he pressed his shaking hand against the eye sigil painted on the dead Orderman’s breast. “It’s nearly over now,” he breathed. He glanced over his shoulder one last time, at the ruins of Lasthope. “We’re nearly there now.” [[ Vaeyl Order eventline returns for its final phase starting this weekend. ]]
  14. Xarkly

    Quick Vaeyl PSA

    Hey so just a real quick update regarding the activity of Vaeyl eventlines: As some of you will have noticed, and I should have posted this earlier, the eventline has been mostly paused for the Christmas break. It’s the busiest time of year for me, since I work over Christmas and college has exams through most of January. So come February the Vaeyl eventline will resume in full force with the blizzard, the fall of Lasthope and what lies beyond that Wall yada yada. So just hold off ‘till February if you’ve been waiting for me to hop online to get some events done. Sorry for the delay, stay tuned
  15. “Well. I suppose it was a success, then.” Stood atop the enormity of the Ice Wall itself, Serris of Deep Harbour’s words rang hollow in her own ears. She was only dimly aware of the powerful shriek of the wind as it attempted to pull her to her death, though her sole attention was on a blurred cluster of lights, far below her. She had to squint through the flurried veil of falling snow even to make out the vague silhouette of Lasthope’s towers. She did not really need to see, though – she could imagine the scene perfectly well. Even over the howl of the wind she could hear the din of cheers as the Descendant armies celebrated their victory. Apparent victory, a voice in her head corrected, and she grit her teeth. She could not help. Every time thoughts of the Battle of Lasthope entered her mind, she could not help but remind herself that the Descendant’s only thought this was a grand, final victory for them. She would have liked to pretend that she did not know why she kept having to tell herself that, but that would have been a lie. She knew full well. She knew full well that she told herself that because otherwise she would not be able to live with herself. So many Vaeyl dead, sacrificed, in the name of a greater plan. Toryff, Hythar, Yvn ... all dead, now. Yvn especially pained her -- the two of them had been close friends ever since enlisting in the Order, many centuries ago. It was hard to believe that Serris had spoken to Yvn for the final time just minutes before the Descendants began their assault, knowing full well that they would never meet again. ”You can’t hesitate, Serris,” Yvn said. She was one of the only other women in the Order that Serris had not come to resent as soft, yet she spoke with a disarmingly silky voice. “You can’t have second thoughts now.” Serris was stood before a low-burning fireplace. The dying flames and embers danced as warped light on the surface of her burnished bronze mail. She had her longsword in hand, and was unconsciously twisting holes in the floorboards with its sharpened point. “I feel like a coward,” she whispered through a clenched jaw. “You’re not a coward,” Yvn said stiffly, if with a touch of exasperation. It was not the first time the two of them had this conversation since they first formulated their plan for the Siege. Serris knew it would not be the last time these thoughts plagued her mind, either, but it was made worse knowing that Yvn would not be there next time her guilt got the better of her. Yvn would not even be alive. “The plan be damned, Yvn, I am a coward,” she snapped with much vigour than she had intended. “I’m leaving you all behind her to die for a plan that might not even work.” For a brief moment, Serris thought Yvn would answer with sympathy, but instead came fire. “You’re a commander, not a coward.” She barked and marched over to Serris from the other side of the room, the old floorboars creaking under the weight of her heavy snow boots. “And commanders must make sacrifices beyond those of ordinary soldiers. You’re only a coward if you can’t follow through on that.” “That’s not the same at all!” Rage spurning her muscles, she drilled her sword an inch into the floor as she whirled around to face Yvn.”You’re lying down your lives for this plan, while my role is to run! Like a gutless coward, my only task in this plan is to stay alive! While the rest of you ...” ”You misunderstand.” Yvn’s voice had softened so quickly it took Serris by surprise. “It is easier to give up your life for the greater good, rather than have to watch all your brothers and sisters-in-arms die while you must continue forward, and fulfill the duty that the rest of us cannot.” The rage in Serris’ throat began to falter, and she felt a strange tugging at her eyes. It had been many years - decades - since she felt that tug, but she knew full well what it meant. “We can forget the plan. We can hold off the Invaders right here, right now. One quick order to Hythar, and his Stormsingers will strike their siege engines to smoking dust. Then all we have to --“ She cut off when Yvn lay a gauntleted hand on her shoulder. ”Serris,” the other woman said firmly. “You know it has to be this way. We could hold them off, yes, but what then? They’d try again, and again, and we’d be here for years.” ”We’d cripple their army,” she interjected. ”And then what? We march north, and put all their citizens to the sword? Farmers, craftsmen, children?” Yvn shook her head. “It has to be this way. Only by following the plan can we win Atlas back.” ”Win Atlas back for who?” Serris said coarsely. “It will cost so many of our lives to see it done.” Yvn tilted her head inquisitively. “And do you believe any Vaeyl would hesitate to lay down their lives for Atlas? This has been a thousand years in the making, Serris. Do you know what a meaningful death means to our people?” Serris tried to answer, but her throat had gone dry. Yvn squeezed her shoulder. “It was to be this way, Serris. You’re no coward – you’re a commander. Promise me you won’t forget that.” ”I’m no coward,” she whispered as she watched the Descendant armies celebrate at the ruins of Lasthope, breath rising from her helmet as the snowstorm bore down on them. “I’m a commander!” She roared into the wind, before she took off at a march down along the ice wall, the thick, glassy ice firmed by her cleated boots. She did not know how long she walked, but eventually she left the ruins of Lasthope, and the cheers of the enemy army, behind her. She marched, fists clenched, white-fur cloak billowing in the wind behind her. Finally, she spotted figures standing atop the wall in the distance. She continued, placing a fist above her heart. “Peace and Fire,” she bellowed over the gales. “Peace and Fire,” the other figure – a male Vaeyl – responded as she drew nearer. “Did everything go according to plan, Commander Serris?” She glanced over her shoulder, though Lasthope had longed since vanished in the fog of the blizzard. Slowly, she nodded. “Yes. Everything went as planned. It was … it was a bittersweet victory.” But a victory nonetheless. That’s what Yvn would say. The other Vaeyl nodded. “Good. Shall we make for Caer Caedris then? There’s still much to be done.” “Yes. Yes.” It took her a moment, but finally Serris took her gaze from the direction of Lasthope. She was surprised when a painful pang of guilt lanced through her, though only for a moment; she knew this was goodbye. The Red Vaeyl, her friends, her family, were no more, sacrificed for a greater good. I promise. I promise it won’t be in vain. She grit her teeth. “Lead the way.” The other Vaeyl nodded. In the pale light, she could just about make out the unblemished, White Eye painted on his armour.
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