Timeless

Adventuring through twisted time.

"You shouldn't be up."

"I can't sleep."

Those three words should've told Echo and Alloy something was wrong. Aspen only ever stayed up this late when there was something wrong with the forest. When it was in danger even in the faintest of ways. There was no way of knowing what it could be. Sometimes it was a simple as a plant dying. Sometimes it was the coming of war. 

Aspen couldn't tell you. 

No one could know. 

With a huff  "Alright." Echo rose from his bed. He wasn't on the night shift tonight. Taking his sister to find out what could possibly be wrong. Maybe show her everything was okay. He wrapped his arm over her shoulder and shook her lightly with a smile. Trying to get her to unclench and relax but he was nervous too. Of all the nights for Aspen to sense something was wrong it had to be the night the king had left the forest. There was a lot of pressure on the Silversun family to protect Thistlemoon and its people. Echo and Aspen walked in silence for some time hoping that as she passed by she would pick on the problem but so far she didn't sense anything. 

"Oh don't look now but our all mighty leader is here. Should we bow or?" 

Alloy rolled her eyes at her brother."The only leader is Kyan. Mighty... Well, he's not let us down yet." She smirked but that faded quickly when she looked to Aspen. "Still nothing?" With a twisted mouth, Aspen shook her head no. "Then let's keep at it." They walked around the entire forest for hours and nothing eventually Echo and Alloy had to make a call on what to do both of them deciding that Aspen was just nervous and that if they calmed those down she'd drift to sleep. 

Their laughter filled the air of an empty meadow. Reminiscing about the time King Graystone bought the Prince to their home getting up to trouble in a matter of seconds when they were all mischievous in their ways. "You always took the blame for Kyan, why?" Both sisters looked to Echo who just chuckled as he kept his gaze on the stars. "I pretended I didn't know he was the prince but I did... So taking the trouble just felt like the right thing to do." He shrugged. And their laughter started back up again until Aspens began to slowly fade.

At first, they thought she had calmed down. That she was falling asleep but she blew herself to her feet and glowered into the dark of the forest. 

Something was actually wrong. 

There was no pause. Or a moment of silence. "Light the brazer!"

Alloy took no time taking charge and Echo followed suit. He used the air to launch himself into the sky and hurled a fireball across the night. He scanned Thistle below him as his fire illuminated it while it flew to its destination. Spotting the shine of Templar's armor as the light hit it. The brazer lit as he descended. A chain reaction firing off as the other brazers lit and thistle was alerted to the threat. 

Ready for war.

When he was with his sisters again they all glamored and lept into the trees. They followed the branches. Echo in the front. Alloy at the rear. Aspen safely between them. They were soon joined by Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Their whole family giving them their weapons and armor. As they waited high up above for Alloy's signal to go. 

She waited until she knew everyone was in position. The animals around telling her it was so. 

So her signal was given. 

Echo jumped to the ground. Aspen staying at his back. He used the nearby water to create fog and coat the area. The plan was to stay quiet. To use guerrilla warfare to take them out. But the Templars had another, plan and soon all that could be heard was screaming. 

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"Kill the king."

"Kill the king!"

"Kill the Raven King!"

That clattered around the tight sarcophagus they trapped her in. Bouncing from wall to wall. Echoing in her mind. Jabbing down her back. 

"Why?"

She clocks her head from side to side with a weird tick and everyone shivers, shudders and freezes at the sound of her sinister voice. There's only a hole big enough to see her eyes when she felt like looking out or someone dared look in. Her hellish gaze casts out at them and joins her wicked voice for the first time since she's been resurrected. The templars are resting tonight and along with that they have given her her freedom for the moment though she's trapped within this enchanted prison of a sepulture. She finds both things odd. Giving her her freedom and taking a moment to rest because during her unfortunate time with them they've done neither before. 

She studies them all. Committing their faces, idiosyncrasies and demeanors so she can find them and kill them slowly later. "He's the one that killed you." Her eyes snap to the man who'd spoken. The dark mage who'd bought her back to life and had been controlling her ever since. "Lies." Her words his and if they were lethal they'd have wrapped around him and strangled him painfully and slowly as possible. Her steady gaze stays on the mage, laying in wait for the next lie to slinker out of his mouth. Instead, he smirks knowing he'd been caught and her face twitches in annoyance. 

She turns away. "Kill the Raven king!" His mouth never moved but his voice could be heard. It ricochets back and forth past her head as she holds it trying to ignore him. "Oh, you can't ignore me. I'm in your head!" His awful laugh fills her brain as she manages to look back out at him. He just stands there with a cocky smirk at the corner of his lips. Calmly watching her as he wasn't doing anything. Her eyes scan the others around them confirming she's the only one that can hear him. She's the only one her driving insane and considering who she was it made sense why. She launched forward with a growl. Rattling her sarcophagus in an attempt on the mages life who simply chuckles. 

"KILL THE RAVEN KING!"

Hours have passed and the moon is now high in the night sky. Everything has rested and had some sort of peace. Everyone but Hathor, who heard nothing but the one command. Over and over on end as her freedom slowly began to slip and the control over her was completely taken. Her sarcophagus rattled and shook now for a whole new reason and as the door, at last, was flung open by a few Templars she shot out without haste landing on all fours. She rose as she breathed slow and hard looking all the men over but then was off into the dark of night that surrounds the forest. Her target wasn't here. 

 The Templars weren't far behind and eventually surpassed her as they took their positions. She was much quieter than them which worked to their advantage being that she was their secret weapon. She listened. She could hear the creatures of Thistle but when she looked saw nothing. The Fae being as elusive as they were even she knew very little of them and their abilities and if we're being honest she knew not why the Templars were here. Why they wanted to take Thistle so badly and most of all why they wanted the king dead. 

She stood and waited as the Templars and Fae began their war. Protecting the dark mage until she could sense the king. Her stillness telling the mage he wasn't here and soon all the templars knew. From within herself, she tried to fight and break free but they knew how to control her. Much like her father Ra had changed her from Sekhmet to Hathor that blood red potion was the bane of her existence. Suddenly, she sniffed the air and found herself zooming through the forest. Was it the King? Magic wasn't always precise, this dark mage had somehow managed to get the Kings scent off a human he'd been with. Using his magic to imprint it into Hathor mind and have it invade her senses until it was all she knew but it wasn't a very strong source. 

 It was muddled. Mixed with the woman he'd been with and the scents of others he had interacted with throughout the day. She had no way of telling which scent was truly his despite the identifying spell the mage had cast. So she followed this scent blindly but the deeper into the warzone she went the more she found she had to fight her way through. Now, this was interesting. Being a goddess of war among other things fighting came easy to her. Never finding the people the Templars had her fight in the past a challenge until they teamed up.

Of course, she'd never give them to chance to, but these fae were far different. They moved differently. Their art of war was different and hell each of them all seemed to be able to do something different within their abilities. She still managed to kill them but it wasn't easy. The scent moved. It split even which frustrated her and again caused her to fight herself for freedom even if it was just a little. Yet when she found herself tracking one of the split scents she knew she had lost the war within.

Someone needed to kill the mage to set her free. 

Kyan's fingers drummed in annoyance on the large oak table as he looked around the room in disgust. Seated around him were the men in power of the surrounding large cities of this area, bickering about their allegiances to the one true God and condemning all others who believed in the 'old ways'. Fools. They were all so incredibly confident in their blind faith that he so wanted to leap onto the table and set one of them ablaze just to rock their beliefs. Would they believe him to be a god then? Maybe one of those devilishly misunderstood fallen angels of theirs that plummeted to the underworld. God King Kyan. Oh, he liked that very much. He scoffed and let out an exasperated sigh that was loud enough to halt the meeting. Every pair of eyes landed on him expectantly. This would be the perfect time to carry out his little daydream... but no. He knew his purpose here today was just to see how these humans were carrying on in the world without fae in it. His parents still believed there was a chance at co-existence, but they hadn't ventured from the wood in countless years. They didn't see the ignorance that plagued the minds of humans. This would be the last time he went out in search of hope among them.

"Forgive me. I'm just troubled by the lost souls that haven't found their path." The words were stale on his lips. He reached for the full goblet of wine and drank it empty. Playing the part of one of these idiots was more than he could stand. He gave his parents their chance to prove him wrong about the humans, but he'd had enough of it. No more longing for them to become less despicable. Kyan wouldn't go out into the world again on their behalf. He imagined most of his time outside of Thistle would not be in favor of humans. He imagined there would be a lot of... pain.

A delicate hand went to his shoulder from behind him. One of the two fae he traveled with who acted as his servants leaned down to whisper in his ear and the words made him run cold. Kyan immediately stood and turned his back on the men who all looked again in shocked confusion as he left the enormous church. Once outside, the raven that was a loyal friend to his family along with generations of its own family before him, moved to rest on Kyan's arm as he presented it to perch. "My king," the bird began with a stress in its voice that could not be denied. "Thistle is under attack."

The cold that had run through Kyan was now beginning to change into a heat. "From who?"

"Templars, your majesty. They bring magic with them. A creature... They are tearing down the wood." 

The heat was now changing into a burning fire and he'd unleash the rage on every last audacious human that dared to enter his wood. Without another word, the company made their way back to a home they would not recognize.

______________

From outside of the barrier, one would never know the chaos that ensued just beyond entrance to Thistle, but as soon as you passed, the havoc was immediate. The screams of battle filled the night air. The amber colors of flames engulfed the trees as the smell of them burning reached even this far away. Animals were scurrying all around them as they attempted to flee from the fighting and destruction. How ironic that he had been away from the kingdom hoping to find peace with humans when their radical brethren were here attempting to destroy them. 

"We are with you, your majesty."

Kyan did not reply. His focus was glued to the flames that burned through the land. He knew the loyalty among the fae would not waver when it came to protecting their kind and their home. Instead, he leaped into the branches above and used the wind to guide him faster in the fray than his guards could keep up. The stone in his necklace thrummed and the Mapleshade seemed to latch onto his reappearance as he instantly felt its power strengthen his own. He would not let a single one of these Templars see a new dawn.

He landed in the middle of the fighting as a sword came down on one of his fae. With a gust of wind, Kyan sent the weapon from the Templar's hand and through the chestplate of another. He called to the earth and sent vines to wrap around the man's ankles, breaking the delicate bones beneath his armor, and making him tumble to the ground in pain. The vines continued to snake around the man's body as he screamed and writhed to be free. Kyan watched for only a moment before resuming onward while the metal of armor crunched beneath the squeezing vines until the screams finally stopped.

Easily dropping a few of the Templars that attempted to end his life, the king's eyes landed on a familiar sentry of his. "Echo!" It was obvious to him that he had been fighting for some time now as the fae was covered in blood and dirt. "Tell me what you know." It wasn't ideal to have this conversation among the fighting, but Kyan knew Echo would have at least some answers. "Are my family safe in the Mapleshade? The council members?"

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