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Happy Homecoming, ... or not.
Gazetteer
post May 18 2012, 11:56 AM
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The clouds drifted around uneasily overhead, obscuring the sky and casting the mountainous terrain in a troubled gloom that matched Amity's mood almost perfectly. In some ways, things were better than they had been. In others, they were much worse.

The low level panic that had been in the background of her thoughts constantly for months was completely gone. Not forgotten, or momentarily subsided, but gone. And for the first time since that house-thing, she felt like she could genuinely think straight. At the same time, though, things were less than perfect.

She wasn't crying anymore, but she was still deeply upset. And she was also confused. The panic was gone, but not because she'd simply gotten over it, or gained new inner confidence or anything similarly healthy. She had made a deal with a ghost found in the basement of an inn, and she no longer had the capacity to fear. Except for when she did.

Amity stared at the sheer drop to their right, frowning. She slowed to a stop, letting Symphony increase her lead on her, and walked to the edge. Growing up in Araducia, Amity was not particularly afraid of heights. However, being this close to such a sheer, bone-shattering drop should have made her feel something. But it didn't. Almost frustrated, Amity edged a little bit forward until her toes were actually sticking out over the chasm below. Still, nothing. There was the intellectual knowledge that this was dangerous, and that a fall would kill her, but no screaming instinct to get back to the edge, despite the fact that a particularly strong gust of wind might be all it took to send her topping to her messy death.

Here she was, perfectly calm on the edge of a cliff. And all she was worried about was the reception she was going to get back home.
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Hystrix
post May 18 2012, 10:01 PM
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Symphony glanced over the cliffside that led to certain death, a bitter chill in the wind that brushed her lavender hair. Quail's Peak was as pleasant as ever. When she remembered where Lady Harmony current resided, she wondered if the family really did enjoy their terrifying mountain abodes. Only her cousin could have pulled her back within shouting distance of a Duval fief, much more this one.

Morbid as the thought was, she thought the wake of her uncle's death as the worst time to come back. How many of her relatives were here by now? How many of them either wanted her dead or at least buried from the family tree? Still, she never got the feeling that Amity wanted to go back either. Not without reason, of course. Hard to tell what the girl thought about these days, but that much seemed true.

Amity's... changed a bit since that encounter in the inn. So far, it looked like an improvement over before, yet, well, everything that led up that incident just made it feel wrong. A deal with the darkness, so to speak. Symphony hasn't really tried to push the subject - anyway she broke it would have antagonized the younger girl - but it did make her worry. A lot. She's supposed to know what she was doing? What should she do now?

"We won't make good time if we stop for everything." Symphony spun to Amity for a moment, as she waited for her catch up. The girl teetered so close to that edge. What was she doing? "I know this is hard, but we must keep pushing to town."
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Gazetteer
post May 20 2012, 11:19 PM
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"I know," Amity said, frowning. "He'll still be dead whether or not we make good time, won't he?" she said, taking a few steps back from the edge. "It's not like he's going to get impatient or anything." The funeral would probably be over by the time she got there either way. There would be a place in the family crypt for her to visit, an already-sealed tomb, concealing a body that had already began to rot. The man she was feeling guilty for neglecting was already gone. What exactly did she hope to accomplish by going back now?

"We should reach Cold Side before tomorrow, though, I think," she said. Quail Peak -- both the town and the castle it was named for -- had been constructed on the far side of a steep gorge, only accessible on foot by a single, easily defended bridge. But there was a smaller village on the other side of the gorge, largely built up by refugees fleeing other parts of Araducia during the demon wars. It was a poorer, harder, shabbier place than Quail Peak, but they would need to pass through it to get to their destination. She frowned. "... thank you for coming with me," she said. "He wasn't your father. I know you probably don't want to go back here. I wouldn't want to have to make this trip on my own."
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Hystrix
post May 21 2012, 12:15 AM
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"Come on now, this wasn't even for debate." Symphony said, while she continued to march foward. "This is your father. Whatever happened, you must pay your respects to him. You know you don't need to worry for me." She didn't think much of Uncle Emory, except for the fact that he and father never quite saw each other eye to eye. If her family even deigned to attend to the funeral, they must have come and gone by now. At least, that's what she hoped.

"Besides, I'm sure even dear old auntie can at least let me past the gates for once." She gave a wistful smile, though her cousin didn't see it. "They must miss you a lot."
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Gazetteer
post May 22 2012, 04:02 PM
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"Mother hasn't ever refused to let you in, has she?" Amity asked, suddenly suspicious as she fell back in with Symphony. Her mother wasn't necessarily a cruel woman, but she was rather obsessed with propriety. Before she'd left, she wouldn't have been able to believe that it was even a possibility. Now, though, even with her mind clear, the world just seemed like a much darker and more troubled place than it had before. Even people like her mother, who she had formerly thought fairly highly of, seemed... different now.

"I suppose Equity is Lord now," she said. He'd already been taking on most of the responsibilities as Emory had gotten too sick to do them himself, but the thought of her brother as head of the family already was more than a little odd. "He'll be good at it, I think. Divinity isn't going to make a very gracious lady of the peak, though." She said this with a bit of a grimace. She didn't expect her cousin/sister in law was going to make this visit particularly enjoyable.
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Hystrix
post May 22 2012, 09:46 PM
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"Oh, yes." Amity did mention that unholy marriage at some point, didn't she? "I suppose it should be her that I should be worried about." Well, the thought of visiting her blonde, beautifully self-centered cousin did amuse her a little bit. "Don't worry, I won't let her hurt you. I'm sure she'll be far more distracted to the fact that I'm still breathing."
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post May 23 2012, 11:02 PM
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"... if Divinity tried to hurt me, I would hurt her back," Amity said, finding herself smiling a little at the idea. Not so much at the pain, or at Divinity personally in discomfort. The rush of power from using dark magic was a reward in of itself, regardless what the result was. "I think I'm probably better at it than her by now." She gripped the black book with the worn cover she always carried a little bit tighter.

"I doubt it will come to that, though," Amity clarified. "Divinity mainly just says very cruel things. Unless you make her mad enough. Which, I guess you know how to do."
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Hystrix
post May 24 2012, 06:11 AM
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"I could hold back. A bit." Symphony shrugged. She didn't care about dealing with Divinity, but she didn't want Amity hurt in the process. They needed to tread a bit carefully with family, especially when it came to this whole dark magic business. Speaking of which, they should... probably get that settled with. "They'll be asking questions. Have you thought about what to tell them?"
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post May 26 2012, 10:52 AM
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"Hello, mother, brother. Yes, all of the men father sent to protect me are dead. By the way, I'm a necromancer now. But don't worry, I'm still a virgin." The sarcasm had a distinctly bitter edge to it, but it was still possibly the first joke Amity had told since her misadventure had started. The way her mother would actually react to be told this would probably not actually be very funny if Amity had to see it first hand, of course.

She let her slight smile recede as she considered the question seriously. "I don't want to lie to them. I guess we could, though. Make up some story about how bandits killed father's guards and you saved me. Then everything would go back to 'normal', and I could just pretend that nothing else happened." She shook her head. "I don't want to do that. I'm not the same thing I was before I left, if you understand that."
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Hystrix
post May 26 2012, 12:08 PM
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"I wouldn't want that either." Symphony didn't want to make light of Veral and the others' sacrifices just to glorify herself. This was a lot of get through, even Amity's jest didn't do much for her. She wished there was any other way to deal with it, other than head on.

"Well... if things go south, you don't need to stay at all." She offered tentatively. It wasn't even sure that Amity wanted to stay, but it was worth mentioning. "We've been doing well with each other, haven't we?"
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Gazetteer
post May 28 2012, 11:42 AM
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"We are," Amity said. "There are going to be a lot of people there who won't want me around, anyway. I do't know how long I'll stay." If things were bad enough, she wouldn't even want to stay the night. She would need to wait and see what kind of strained welcome her mother and brother provided once they knew what she was. She wasn't sure if following Symphony around forever was a practical longterm plan either, though -- her cousin probably missed being alone sometimes.

Amity glanced up, and squinted at a few indistinct shapes moving through the sky. Too big to be birds, she thought. Wyverns, probably, coming from the castle. "Do those look like they're getting closer to you?" Amity asked.
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Hystrix
post May 29 2012, 06:39 AM
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"Could be. Probably a patrol." Symphony doubted it was for them, unless they made such a presence in the past few months. But what if they tried to call for their attention? Maybe they'd give a free ride to the daughter of the late Emory Duval." That is, if they didn't start out aggressive to them.

"If they spotted us, well..." She beckoned her cousin. "Stay close to me, Ami." Somehow, Symphony sensed trouble, but didn't go for her lance. They can surely talk their way out of this.
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post May 30 2012, 08:18 PM
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As it would happen, the wyverns were getting closer. There were three of them; all were big, red, and obviously bred for battle. As the riders drew closer, it became just as obvious that they were armed. The wyverns' approach was marked by a violent buffeting of wind as the three creatures' wings beat in time. Amity stared at them with interest; once again, the fear completely failed to register. Nonetheless, she dutifully moved closer to Symphony.

Somewhat ominously, the wyverns landed so that they cut off escape from both directions. One landed in the road ahead, one in the road behind. The third continued circling around, ready to jump in if things went south. The cousins were surrounded; cliff side to one side, wyverns to two others, and mountain abyss to the third. Amity frowned. She had seen patrols treat suspicious looking groups like this before, from a distance. But were they really so suspicious? Two women, one not even apparently armed?

The rider atop the wyvern ahead of them popped open a few straps on their saddle, and dropped neatly down onto the road. They were armoured in blue, with a face-concealing helmet and nasty looking spear still held in hand. "Cousin," she said, voice distinctly feminine. It was impossible to certain which one of them he was looking at. "What brings you back to family territory after such a long time?"
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Hystrix
post May 31 2012, 10:14 PM
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"Doing what the rest of you failed to do." Symphony answered dryly, stepping back so that Amity can be seen a bit. "You may remember her. I'm taking Amity to see her father."

She turned to the armored woman with a sly smile. "But it was all nice of you to come down here just to greet us. Really, I'm touched."
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post Jun 3 2012, 12:01 PM
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The anonymous cousin's reaction to Amity's presence was masked by the helmet's visor. She stared for a moment, before responding: "Failed. That's a bit of a strong word compared to what I'd use. I'm not sure that all of us were really trying all that hard. I mean, I looked, but maybe I wasn't so broken up when I didn't find anything. Not that I would tell Lord Equity that. I mean, he was pretty distraught. Or my sister; telling her would be the same as telling him." She flipped up the visor of her helmet, revealing a familiar face.

"Sanctity," Amity said, looking at her warily. Her fist cousin, and her brother's sister in law. Amity had always thought of her as little more than a younger, less attractive, less married, more physically accomplished version of Divinity. But now, looking back, there had been more than a slight bitter edge to it all. It was present now, too, in the way she spoke and looked at the two of them.

"Our dear lord uncle is dead and buried for weeks now. If you're here to see him, I'm afraid you're a bit late," Sanctity said.

Amity let her expression harden. "Then I'm going to see my mother. Is there a reason you're stopping us in the road like that?"

Sanctity feigned a hurt expression. "Maybe I just wanted to see my cousins? I mean, it's not every day that the heir to Quail Peak returns from the dead, is it?"

The words took a moment to really sink in. Equity had no children; if anything happened to him, she would be next in line. The thought was more than a little terrifying. She shook her head. "... I'd be passed over. For your mother, probably. Or for Aunt Ebony."

"Maybe," Sanctity said, smiling slightly. "And if mother did became Lady of the Peak, who would be after her?"

"Divinity," Amity answered, getting a slight sinking feeling in her chest. "... and then you."

Sanctity nodded. "And me. Funny, that. Not so far away when you think about it, am I?"
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