The peace that formerly reigned in Terra Nova has eroded, now little more than a memory. War ravages the continent. Disputes divide kingdoms; ideals divide families. The quest for power consumes absolutely and indiscriminately. None are immune to its allure.
Who will rise and who will fall? Only time—and ambition—will tell.
New gifted family of Lorendale added to the Families of Importance, the Decarlos!
At the beginning of February 2022 the site will experience a 5 year time jump! The IC year will jump from 822 to 827! This gives us about 8 months to prepare our characters for that jump. We plan to host very intentional planning sessions to help everyone get their plots and characters ready for this! As of this moment, one thing you should all start considering is making sure the threads your characters are in are furthering your character's stories.
The cage was unnecessary, thanks to the ring on his finger. It stood alone in the center of an unfurnished tent, with only one entrance and exit. There were no windows but a single opened flap in the top, the only source of light to be found day-in and day-out. The sun had set now, leaving the room in total darkness. The small creature that accompanied the foreign woman was also collared, more out of precaution than anything else. Yoren did not yet know how the bond between the animal and human worked, but he’d take no chances after the jolt of electricity he’d received on the battlefield. His limbs still felt stiff from the shock.
Guards stood at the entrance of the tent, only trustworthy men, and Yoren would permit no one to enter but him. The captured girl was a pretty little thing, and more than one man had already cast his leering gaze on her as they'd pulled her back to camp. But Yoren would not hear it; they were at war. Information was more important than foolish desires.
It was only a few hours after the Dresmond had retreated into the Earth. Yoren had taken his time to recover, to wash the blood and muck from his body. It had not gone to plan, he thought, but it was not a total loss. They knew Dresmond’s tricks now. And with any luck, Yoren was about to learn a few more. The guards at the tent silently parted when Yoren approached. He’d enter the tent with a lit torch, illuminating the dark that Kezia and Raiden had previously been surrounded by. He stuck the torch in the ground and silently regarded his captive.
When Kezia was grabbed, she tried her best to tell Raiden to run. To tell him to protect himself and just hide with the caravan. But he couldn’t, he wouldn’t leave her. And as a collar was snapped into place around her neck, she lashed out. Trying to claw at, hit, kick, anything she could do to get the men off of her. Raiden bit at hands and went to attack with his element but the moment the collar was on, Kezia heard silence. It was so unsettling that she instantly stopped fighting, her brown eyes searching for her dyr. He was still there. Fighting. And yet, Raiden was feral, making angry chattering noise, scratching and bitting towards hands. But Kezia heard nothing. Even when she screamed for him in her mind, he didn’t respond. Even when her voice yelled out for him where the others could hear. Nothing. A swift backhand to her face got her to quiet down.
Suddenly, her world was a cold, silent place.
By the time the man who attacked her came to, she was already being dragged back to their camp. She struggled when she could, tried her best to fight back but the men were so strong against the little five foot woman. She caught the cruel looks, and by the time she quit fighting, which was only when she realized she was the only Dresmondi she could see, she walked with her head held high. Her eyes burning full of hatred when she met eyes with the men of Coheed until she was pushed into a lone tent. Finding herself thrown into a cage with Raiden and left without any thought. The light that came from the overhead flap was enough for her to focus back on Raiden after she was sure they were gone. He was pacing, and when she tried to reach out to him, he snipped at her fingers. Growling at her. Which only brought forth the tears from her eyes. “Please Raiden, it’s me.” But he ignored her and continued his pacing.
Kezia had never felt so alone in her life. As the tears fell from her eyes, she started clawing at the collar around her neck. Desperately trying to find a weak spot. Trying to find a way to remove it. Screaming out in frustration when she couldn’t get it off. She dove for Raiden at one point, trying her best to pin his small body down without hurting him and removing his collar. But he fought and clawed at her till her arms were covered with cuts from his nails and bite marks where he managed to catch her hands or wrists. She tried again and again, until her arms were bloody messes. Until her clothing was soaked with blood and sweat and her tears. Until eventually, hours later, she sat in the back of her cage, her knees pulled to her chest and arms wrapped tightly around her legs, face buried into her knees. Her arms scabbed over and body shaking lightly.
She felt a breeze enter the room, and Raiden chatted his teeth angrily. Even when he was not himself, he was still not happy at the visitor. Kezia lifted her head just enough to peer up at who had come to see her. The first person she had seen since she was captured. With her curly hair falling into her face, her eyes still managed to lock onto the man that did this to her, did this to Raiden. Her eyes burned with hatred as she stared at him, but she didn’t say anything. Nor did she stand up to approach the front of the cage to try and attack him through the bars. No matter how much she wanted to.
Yoren’s chin tilted slightly as he examined the woman. Her arms were covered in cuts - his men? No, upon closer look they seemed to be the bites and scratch of an animal. Her animal.
The revelation was more than worth the price of her capture. The collars seemed to madden the animals, turning them into rabid beasts instead of creatures of magic. It was the same effect as the anti-magic canisters had had, which had been perhaps the most effective weapon in their war. He reached up to scratch at his beard in thought, already filing the information away for future use. He stood there, silent, for a moment. Wheels of his mind turning.
Perhaps there was more Yoren could learn, he thought as he took a few steps closer to the cage, hands tightened in fists at his sides and back rod-straight, as any Chief’s should be. He was important, and his body language would show that.
“Your animal has turned on you,” he said, low voice piercing through the otherwise silent tent. Even men outside were quiet. Listening.
Kezia's gaze stayed on him. Her eyes roaming only briefly to search for weapons that he might have to use against her or Raiden, keeping note of what she noticed. Kezia was not a hardened warrior per se, not like these men of Coheed. But she was not some helpless woman either. She was a teacher, she was the one who taught others how to work with their dyr's and even taught them the basics of fighting. She was a part of Adoi, and with that, meant they all knew combat of some kind. She had even been one of those who fought against Coheed last time. And rid the Cave of Names of them as well.
His words were taunting to her. Her heart shattering all over at the thought that Raiden was not himself. Her eyes might have betrayed her by showing the pain she felt, for a moment, before she snapped herself out of it. He was her enemy. He was going to do what he felt he had to with her. What did he even want with her? How many other Dresmondi were sitting in cages like her in Raiden?
With her arms still around her legs, she lifted her face a bit more so that she could easily stare at him. "How are you feeling after taking a hit like you did?" Two could play that game, she thought. Surely having a small woman like herself knock out a man who lead troops of thousands had to mean something. Even if it was just a small sting in his own pride. Raiden growled lightly, as if for a brief moment he was agreeing with her, but she never heard his voice in her head. Never felt that comfort of his connection.
The taunt amused Yoren more than anything. The corner of his lip twitched up only barely, but she’d be able to see the amusement there. It didn’t hurt his pride that he’d been knocked back by magic. Perhaps if she’d bested him in an actual fight, he’d have some thinking to do. But the only hit that she’d been able to place on him had been through trickery. As usual for foreigners.
“I feel sore,” he answered honestly. He brought his hands together now, using the fingers of his left to twist the ring on his right. Even the small motion felt unnatural now; the lightning had messed with his body’s natural flow. His movements were jerkier than he’d like now, as if little shocks of electricity still plagued his muscles. He was recovering, though. He felt he would be back to normal by morning.
“I am Yoren Arronson. Chief of Zulu Carr. The largest tribe in Coheed,” he turned from her now to pace to one length of the cage as he spoke. He stopped at one end, turning to her. “Perhaps you would give me your name as well.”
To her dismal, he seemed more amused by her inquiry than upset. Her jaw tightened slightly as he mentioned feeling sore and played with a strange ring on his hand. She didn't know him well, but anyone could see the jerky movements that were made. She was sure it wouldn't last long. Raiden had not gotten to deliver a full attack on him before those metal collars were secured around their necks. She wanted to tell him that she hoped that he was never the same again. That the electricity ran through his body for the rest of his life. But she swallowed the statement as he walked in front of her cage.
Yoren. That was the name of the monster who trapped her inside this prison. A chief, she assumed it was like a leader of the men. He was nothing like Danior. And he was a bragger. She didn't care to know his tribes size. She just helped killed thousands of them.
He stopped at a point to look at her and ask her name. Her arms slowly releasing her legs as she decided then to stand up and look strong. Not like a child hiding in the back of a steel cage. She was barely over five feet tall, but she held her shoulders back and tilted her chin up, showing that she was not to be underestimated either. "Kezia." Raiden shrank into the corner farther from Yoren, but more devastating to her, it meant he also shrank away from her. She only saw it from the corner of her eye, but she at least noted that Raiden's amber eyes were locked onto Yoren and not her. "What do you want from us?" Dresmond kept to themselves. What did Coheed want from them besides to try and use their Cave of Names as a campsite? Because that's all they had managed to do before.
She stood. She was even smaller than Yoren remembered on the battlefield; a full foot shorter than he was himself. Perhaps it had been the lightning that made her seem bigger. Now he felt as if he could enclose her entire neck in his hand. If he wanted to.
She was making a show of bravery, but her creature still cowered, body tensed. It seemed as afraid of her as it did of him, Yoren noted with interest. He was mildly surprised when she gave him her name. Perhaps it was a lie. Or perhaps she was smart enough to realize it wouldn't matter even if it was. Kezia it was then. “Kezia,” he repeated, turning the name over in his mouth.
What did Coheed want from Dresmond? He could only assume that’s what she meant by saying “us” instead of “me.” Truthfully, Yoren didn’t know. He wasn’t in Bellamy’s brain; had it been his choice, they would’ve focused their full power of war on Lorendale, the true enemy of Coheed. But Yoren didn’t question leadership. He was a soldier in the ranks, given an order he must obey. What Coheed wanted from Dresmond wasn’t relevant. What Yoren wanted from Dresmond was to win. And to do that, he’d need Kezia’s help. Whether or not she was willing to give it.
“What we want from Dresmond is not of importance now,” he said, turning back to pace in the other direction. “You should be more concerned with what I want from you.”
She thought about lying about her name, or just not giving it at all. But at the same time, it was just a name. And she figured, if anything did happen to her and as confident as he seemed. At least if she died, he might brag about it to let the others know. To know that if she passed, then Raiden did as well. That the other didn't need to look for her or that they could just know overall that she wasn't suffering somewhere.
She didn't move forward, instead she watched him pace back in front of her cage. And his answer to her question was one that made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Us was a big thing with the Dresmondi. It was 'us' because the dyrs were as much as a part of them as any limb on their body. They were the other half of their souls. So it was always an us. Whether it meant her and Raiden, or their caravan, or the Dresmondi as a whole.
Her hands balled at her sides, her body tensing, getting ready to fight if he entered the cage. Whether he had a foot of height on her or not. She would not fight fair. She would do what was needed if he dared to come near her or Raiden. Or at least she'd try her best to. "Then what do you want from me, Yoren?" She asked with a stubborn tone. Her voice hoarse from her yelling earlier and overall not having anything to drink now since morning. Before Coheed moved on Dresmond.
Yoren turned to face her, dark eyes sweeping over the tension in her body. He hadn’t expected anything less. In fact, he would’ve been more worried if she hadn’t been resistant to his presence; he wanted a true Dresmondi to learn from, not some fainting flower. She was not disappointing him.
“Information,” he said finally, dark eyes meeting hers. Yoren did not consider himself unreasonable, and but for when he was on the battlefield, he was not cruel. He could make things difficult for Kezia, if he wanted to. But he could also make things relatively easy. She had not been taken by a man. She would be fed shortly out of Yoren’s own supplies. And all he wanted of her was a few Dresmondi secrets.
“Your creature,” he said, chin jerking in Raiden’s direction. “The collar has affected it, yes?”
Information. It sounded so innocent, and yet it made her skin crawl at the idea of him knowing anything about her people. About her and Raiden. Her jaw tightened as she stared at him. Not breaking eye contact as he locked his eyes on her. Her freckled face was not clean. She knew there had to be dirt and mud and blood on it. She could tell because her skin felt tight in certain areas, where clearly it was dried.
His chin moved towards Raiden, and she instinctively took a step towards him. Her creature? Her other half. She felt her lip twitch in clear disapproval of his words. Her eyes not leaving him. She felt her heart start to race. Instead of answering him, she remained silent. He already knew the answer to that, clearly the collars did something to them.
When she did not answer, Yoren’s brow raised. “I’ve offended you,” he said. Not a question, but a statement. He wasn’t quite sure what exactly he’d said wrong, but she moved protectively towards the creature. Ironic, seeming as it did seem to be able to tell her from him in its current state.
After a curious moment, he turned away from her, taking a few stiff steps and heading for the exit. He’d disappear behind the flap for a moment, but his voice, audible but indistinguishable, could be heard just beyond the tent’s doors. He promptly returned, returning to the same spot where he’d been only moments before.
“What do you call it?” He asked as if he’d never left.
A bitter laugh fell from her, it was quiet and yet seemed to fill the cage that she was in. Offended her? She was being held hostage. In a cage. No food or water. A collar around her throat and Raiden’s. Disconnected from the part of her that made her feel a crushing weight on her heart. And now, just now, he believed he had offended her? This was just the tip of the iceberg on the long list of reasons she was filled with anger and distrust.
She watched him disappear and her shoulder sagged. As if the weight was suddenly crushing when he wasn’t there to watch her hold it up. She had a moment where she thought he wouldn’t come back. That he realized she wouldn’t talk to him. As she heard his voice outside, she couldn’t make out the words. Maybe he was telling them to come kill her. But that would be too easy.
Of course he came back in. She straightened herself again, lifting that weight back on her shoulders. Her eyes glancing at Raiden who was in the corner. Unsure but thankfully had stopped growling and chattering his teeth with anger. “Him.” She corrected him, her eyes swinging back to Yoren. She had already screamed his name. She called for Raiden on the battlefield, when they were captured, and alone in the tent. Surely the guards outside already knew it as well. “Raiden.”
“Raiden,” Yoren repeated. It sounded familiar to him; she’d called it out on the battlefield, but he had hardly been focused on that then. His eyes turned to it, committing the name to memory. He supposed he named horses, too. It was not uncommon for men to become attached to animals.
The door to the tent opened, and a boy rushed in carrying a tray. He was a skinny thing, no older than 12, but he was dressed as a warrior, though it was clear his uniform had not seen battle. The boy stopped in the doorway, wide eyes fixed on Kezia in a sort of boyish wonderment.
Yoren looked back at the boy and silently motioned him to his side with the jerk of his head. The boy did as he was told, offering the tray up to Yoren. On it were a few slices of dried meat, a small hunk of bread, and an apple.
“Are you hungry?” He asked, turning back to Kezia.
Kezia wasn’t sure how she felt about Yoren saying his name. In a way, these were simple things. She’d tell anyone these things when meeting them for the first time. That she was Kezia and he was Raiden. That he was her dyr. Before, it was normal to ask another Dresmondi what their element was. When she went to Nevermere, no one asked that. They just had curious eyes for the two. Wondering names and why they were so glued together. Why the animals seemed so wise and not like wild animals. Not like how Raiden was right now.
Touching was a sacred thing between them as well. No one in Dresmondi just walked up to a dyr that wasn’t theirs and handled them. Sometimes, no one touched the dyr except their human. Sometimes, only close family was permitted. Or lovers. In Kezia and Raiden’s case, their best friends. An image of Jaskier and Clementine flashed across her mind and it was such a strong thought that she felt her eyes start to burn. So the thought of the way that the men of Coheed handled Raiden had her mind scrambling emotions.
The boy was a welcomed distraction. Her dark eyes moving instantly to him as he froze in the doorway. He was probably her size, dressed already like a warrior. And his eyes wide as they stared back at her. Her jaw clenched, thinking of the children she would welcome out of Conclaves. The tray was lifted to Yoren, yet it was questioned to her. She was hungry. She hadn’t really thought about eating much as she and the caravans readied themselves for the battle. And now, after fighting for hours and everything since the collar was snapped on her neck, her stomach twisted in hunger. But if they had magic that could stop her connect to Raiden. That could turn him animal. What would their food do to her? Even if it looked as simple as an apple.
Kezia’s arms crossed to hold her midsection as she glanced back up at Yoren. “I want these collars off.” her voice was not demanding, but it was sure and soft. It was probably not going to happen, but she figured she could try.
She didn’t answer. Yoren tilted his head ever-so-slightly. It hadn’t occurred to him that she might not trust their food; after all, she was more useful to him alive than compromised. But he supposed he might not either, in her position.
The corner of his lips quirked as she asked for freedom from her chains. It wasn’t quite a smile of amusement. Perhaps more pity. “No,” was all he said, his voice not harsh, but decided. He was no fool. To take the collars off would unleash the beast who’d nearly killed him on the battlefield. It would never happen.
“This is my son,” Yoren said, motioning to the boy, who still stood wide-eyed. The boy puffed a little under the acknowledgement, clearly proud to be standing next to his father. Yoren didn’t notice; he was reaching for the apple off the tray and finding a dagger at his waist. With a swift motion, he cut off a chunk of it and, looking directly at Kezia, held it out to the child. “Eat,” he said. The boy scrambled to put the tray down and take the piece of apple, stuffing it into his mouth and chewing.
Yoren glanced down at his child, waiting for him to swallow. When it was clear the food had no effect on the boy, he’d look back to Kezia, take a few steps forward, and hold the rest of the apple up between the bars.