It did seem that the man of many titles, the Sublime Bellamere, was becoming something of a budding archaeologist after all. His hunger for knowledge, his quest to aid those who walked the pathways of kismet and fortune had driven him to better himself, to piece together the puzzles and riddles of the past. Yes there was what was in the archives and that had proved valuable. It had given him the first clues to who and what Vanion Shadowcaster was, had revealed to him some of the legacies of towers. There plans, what they had built and done with their time as custodian as well as what they hadn't done. Many it seemed sat stagnant, letting this great power and influence rot like grapes upon the vine. Such a waste. There was a part of him that was infuriated by it. Here he was, bound by oaths to fate and his own conscience to aid others, help them seize their destiny and yet they squandered the vast powers and opportunities put before them.
Even his beloved Xune, who claimed to wish such, wasted away time drinking and socializing when important research and discoveries could be done. This time he did not use hired labors to help him dig, instead he used his magic to transform the squirrels into large bears and used their strength to clear aside the rubble of the broken watchtower hidden beneath the canopy of the trees. There was no melody, no harmony to this part of the wilds, far from the faerie groves of Beltane. The only sound the infrequent grunt and growls of those massive beasts. These woods had promised untold secrets and he would discover them.
Yet beyond the lore in the archives there were secrets long buried. Rhydin had existed before the establishment of the Towers. It had once been a place of thousands of competing powers. Vast in its intrigues and overflowing with potential and titanic magical power.
Crouching down by the ground as one of the large, moss slicked stones was overturned, he reached out with his hand and picked up an object. It was bent. Silver and steel crushed beneath the ruins of the ancient watchtower, but he knew he was close. A ten pointed star, the symbol of the wardens of loreil. The first keepers of Rhydin's laws and lore. Carefully he rubbed away some of the dirt with his thumb. There was much to be yet discovered, beyond even the knowledge of those that sat in their seats of power speaking of the old ways. Beyond even the vaults and libraries of the tower.
It took hours. Clearing the rubble, searching for something, but eventually he found a fragment of a text. It was not the tome, but it was evidence. A guidepost that he was on the right track. It has been said that Knowledge is not a simple goal that can be completed, but rather it is a grand quest. The nurturing of the mind is perhaps the noblest of quests and one of the most difficult. Knowledge in and of itself could never be an evil. Understanding brought enlightenment and who did not wish to be enlightened? Those who labeled knowledge forbidden, evil.. were close minded. Fearful of others expanding their perceptions, threatening their own power.
“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.” He said to himself as he now held the fragment within his hands, carefully wrapping it in velvet and weaving a protective enchantment upon it.
Weaving the magic he had now further mastered having watched Xune do it so often, he slipped the ten sided star of loreil and the wrapped fragment within one of his coats interior pockets. They should have been too small for the fragment, yet away it went.
He felt the hate of the whole of this realm upon his shoulders when all he had ever sought to do was bring happiness to those he encountered. Help them see their potential and rise to the challenge of being the magnificent creatures of their greatest destiny. Yet he was loathed, scorned, and why? Because of his successes? Because of the movements of his heart and who he loved? Or was it because they knew he saw through them. The old guard. Those who would stifle destiny and maintain the status quo.
He reached into his pant pocket and pulled free his cellular phone. Fingers moving quickly as he scrolled through the messages. None from Xune. None from Reggie. None from Morgan LeFay. He'd answered his correspondence with Mathian. That was complicated. He considered the one from Sylista and went over to a log and sat down.
Setting the phone down on the log, he turned to the bears and once more began to weave his magic in the air, causing the mighty beasts to revert back to the form of squirrels and chipmunks. One of the latter came near and hopped up on the log beside him. With a beneficent smile he tapped the little animals head.
Messages were sent. One to the one he previously called a serpent and then one to his friend Howard. He then picked up the phone and made a call. Placing the receiver to his ear.
No answer received he rolled his neck around with some small frustration. He could see from her social media exactly where she was and unless another gunslinger sought her life, she should be fine. She had a new champion now, didn't she? Surely he would be there to protect her.
He looked back to his texts. Considering for a moment longer. He felt those tendrils slip and loosen. Quickly he typed out some quick messages.
Amber eyes watched as the chipmunks and critters hung around him, The black wolf with blue markings was low to the ground and as silent as she could be curiosity of a cat as she watched. For his part Bellamere did not realize what watched him.
A cold wind swept through the trees in this long forgotten part of the wilds, the breeze rustling the leaves on the trees and whispering as it passed through tiny corridors created by the strewn rubble of an old guild watchtower, decades long crumbled. The man's coat protected him from the cold of that wind, though there was another coldness that seemed to grip him, twisting in his stomach.
Did they all believe him so unknowing? He was a diviner and while he could glimpse the future, often the present, the not too distant past was a near effortless action, especially with the recent acquisition. He was tempted to draw it out now, but he felt the tug of fate. The subtle pull on the cords of providence as he set his phone down on his lap. He leaned his elbows against his knees and simply sought to enjoy nature. If he was to be ignored, then let fate provide him with company as he knew it would. His sorrow would find solace in the silence, in the company of the wood.
She sniffed that cold wind tilting her head up to find a scent, she knew that scent somewhat but couldn't grasp it fully just a vague memory from a single meeting.
Legs moved causing birds to skitter and shrilling reprimands for being disturbed. Slowly the six foot werewolf would move out from the undergrowth and brambles that really didn't bother her much at all but were great places to hide. While they didn't bother her there would be little lines of blood here and there forming where the sharp points tore against her fur and close to the skin beneath.
Non threateningly she moved closer stopping a distance with a whimper so as to not freak out Bellamere, she didn't wish to be attacked for simple curiosity. She attempted to reach out to him unsure if he could hear her in this form but she tried
To say that he wasn't surprised would be a lie. If she had been a true predator and him her chosen prey, it is likely that she may have gotten the drop on him. That it not to say that he might not have had a few tricks up his sleeve, for he is a Magician after all, but his posture shifted from relaxed to an upright tension at hearing her words and catching the image of that great monstrosity of wolf and woman.
The chipmunk that had been beside him skittered away in a hurry, but for his part he did not run. He placed right hand to his chest, likely to calm the thudding of his heart as the instincts before a predator kicked in. His other hand went to one of the branches sticking out from the log he sat upon, pulling free some leaves to run along his fingertips.
Fate had brought him company it would seem. He knew that she could be sadistic and merciless in her games, and yet this creature did not attack. An ally perhaps in the war to come? His hazel eyes focused on her form, but soon made a deliberate effort to reach her eyes. To gaze into them and seek out her intentions.
"Why hello there, I hope that I am not intruding upon your territory. If I have, my apologies, though no meeting of mine is simple chance. It must be that providence has ordained this encounter. To what end do you seek it to result?" His voice was calm, soothing. No hint of threat in his words or demeanor. Sunlight filtered through the canopy in broken columns, an beam striking his hat and right leg
Hey she was a true predator! She preyed on different foods though, like burgers and tots! Lavender eyes watched him as he put his hand on his chest tilting her head, possibly listening to the thudding of that over excited heart. She stared right back curiosity and mischief danced in her eyes but not malicious.
~I have territory here but I don't mind visitors. I was just curious what you were doing. If I'm bothering you I can leave you to what you were doing as long as you don't hurt anyone here I don't mind you here.~
Her lips curled away from her sharp teeth and though not fitting right on such a maw it was an attempt at a smile
His eyes were ordinary in a way, especially when compared to the majority of the denizens of Rhydin. They were hazel, filled with a kindness and welcoming compassion that spoke of the greatest virtues of mortal men. His eyes searched her own, not judging, but only seeking to understand, to empathize. While his phone began to vibrate, for now he ignored it. He tried his best to not be rude, especially when he was in someone else's home.
He lifted out of his seated position, his frock coat spilling down his side as he continued to rub the leaves from the log between the fingers and thumb of his right hand. Perhaps a nervous tick in the presence of a creature that was certainly physically stronger than he. With his left hand he removed his hat, giving something almost reflecting a quarter bow, that hat waving before him, before he pressed it flat to his chest.
"It is no bother, as I said, this meeting was preordained by the kismet or serendipity, though I suspect the former. I did not think that anyone came this far out." He cast his head to the side where much of an old watchtower's rubble had been pushed aside and picked through. "I was merely exploring, no harm came to anyone."
"Allow me to introduce myself... I am ... " He paused a moment, the titles he had stumbling upon his lips. He'd lost so much, failed to gain others, yet there were some things that always remained the same. So he went with that. "..The Sublime Bellamere, Instrument of fate, traveler of the hidden paths, fortune speaker, interpreter of the recondite signs, and Conjurer extraordinaire." A dazzling smile was then brought forth upon his rather handsome thirty something face, the shadows from the tree's overhead seeming to veil him in no small amount of mystery and allure.
"To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?"
She examined his eyes happy to see the welcoming, kindness and open mindedness then again it was Rhydin too many kinds of beings to be judged really, though it did happen here and there. Watching as he gave the bow she also returned a bow to him as she did in the rings to others she dueled with.
~I don't know much about preordained, I mean by who?~
She asked curiously as she tilted her head at his introduction and smiled again
~I know you, you sold me the gator repellent a month or more ago~
She closed her eyes for a moment like she was thinking or starting to meditate then slowly the sound of bones creaking, cracking and muscles tearing and a few other unknown sounds came from her and slowly fur withdrew skin showed, and the form slowly shrunk from the 6' somewhere in the ballpark of 4'2, a small jewel on her body glowed and her clothes reappeared before intimate skin would show. A loud howl rang out from her and echoed around the woods as she settled back into her human form. Her eye had changed along with her form now amber in color.
"Exploring is fun, did you find anything interesting?"
"She has many names and many guises, Fortuna, Destiny, The Norns, kindly ones, Moirai, Zurvan, Providence..." He said with some elaboration when she asked for further clarification as to whom, rolling his hat in his hand with each word as if drawing out the presentation of it all. Seeing that the threat had perhaps passed, he sprinkled those crumbled leaves that he been in his right hand in front of him. He then set his top hat back atop his head, touching the brim to adjust it.
His eyes widened in some surprise at her words about knowing him, for he had never suspected at the time that she was anything more than a young girl. Still his smile did not falter and he could not help but laugh. "You were kind enough to bring me hot coffee when I was out in that miserable cold. Do you not see? No simple chance, our paths have already crossed and aligned..." His words however trailed off as he beheld her transformation back into the smaller, human form. Rather than be repulsed by the snapping of bones and twisting of flesh, he seemed fascinated. Studying her with great interest. He crossed the line of crumbled leaves he had created and came nearer to her, though did not fully close the distance.
"I have much to ask about your... gifts, however to answer your question, yes I did. This here.." He turned and gestured to the few moss slicked stones and broken foundation that had been swallowed by shrubs and the wood itself until his magic and the bears had cleared it. ".. once once a Warden of Loreil watchtower, belonging to a very specific warden. Do you know anything about what I speak?"
She blinked listening to all the names
"Oh I know the Norn's I've read about them and the Moirai ... um so you think they put us in the same place to meet again? I guess so"
She grinned nodding
"Yup hot coffee to chase away chills. Maybe I suppose it wasn't chance but I don't know much about it just that I was out and noticed that you were there and the chippies and squirrels were around you then... poof bears."
She grinned magic was not surprising to her she just simplified. As he came closer she didn't flinch but soon as the words gift left his lips she gave something between a whimper and growl. Her attention shifts though when he gestures to the moss slicked stones and foundation
"The building that the forest reclaims? Loreil? I know what a watchtower is usually to protect small little towns or villages right?"
She shook her head
"Sorry I don't know a lot in that area do you?"
She was curious and wanted to learn even if she didn't always get things
The calls of birds somewhere to the East hinted that the day was progressing more quickly than he had anticipated, the hours of sunlight quickly dwindling. He had much that needed to be accomplished and his work was never done. He considered his illusions and wondered if perhaps he could further enhance them to actually allow for them to accomplish tasks for him that needed to be done. Yet he would not so soon turn away from what providence had set in his path.
"I do not so much as think, as I know, I am their servant in a way, a guide to those who need a subtle nudge or an encouraging word to bring forth their truest self.." He crouched down a little, his hands on his knees so that he was not so tall for her in her now reduced form. "As for the watch tower, yes.. once long ago, at least two decades, this land had a group known as the wardens, led by a man named simply Blue. They were the first keepers of lore and I sought to discover more."
"Yes, I have been working rather extensively on my transmutation research, I am a scholar in addition to everything else I mentioned and my study within the Library of the Tower of Earth has been focused primarily on living things and their life force... " He reached down and picked up a twig, holding it out before her, he then closed both his hands around it and then turned them face up. When he uncoiled his fingers the stick was gone, replaced with a tiny toad. "I'm working on something much greater than this and you actually may be able to help me. You have shape shifting abilities yourself, do you not? Are they from a curse or are you naturally born with it?"
"I'll take your word for it"
She wasn't going to argue with someone who proclaimed to be their servant she had met Mallory and had readings done by her
"Jus... just don't tell me my future like Mallory I don't wanna know anymore"
Whether because she wanted to be surprised or because she seemed to always get bad news she didn't elaborate on.
"The wardens... led by a man named Blue? You should talk to Gloria she has a library that's where she had me study when I was her squire all kinds of dueling histories and things are there she might know more. OOH! You duel in magic..."
The tone was strange excited to talk about some things she knew but then when she got to the dueling in magic it tapered off and she seemed less enthused an actual shudder ran through her with the magic though very simple had her nervous.
She looked around licking her lips and taking a breath
"I was attacked and bitten when I was 6 ... it's a curse"
Again kind of flat she didn't hate what she was anymore nor did she think of it as a gift but now it was who she was a part of her anyway and she'd come far to accept that but still had some small tie ups she was only 12 after all she was still working through many things that life liked to throw at the young.
His eyes narrowed for a split moment at the mention of Mallory, but he quickly dismissed it with a sigh, still remaining low to the ground in a crouch. A smile that was somewhat mischievous spread across his face as he set the toad down on the ground.
"The blood witch Mallory I suspect perverts the readings she gives to suit her true purposes of control and further bindings. My readings do no such thing, I seek only to help others achieve what they wish for their destiny. To lift them up and help them shine like the stars they can be, seeking little in return." He held up a hand and smiled. "Worry not, I'll not force any future details on you."
"Gloria you say? Perhaps I shall, yet why I was out here was because I was seeking knowledge to help against a terrible evil that wishes to enter this realm, that is coming soon. I need more magic and allies to help my friends and my beloved. Do.. do you have friends who might be able to assist?"
When she mentioned his dueling in magic his expression dropped some, the shadows of the forest seeming to deepen. The shroud they cast as if to match his now somber disposition. "Yes. I do. I only recently challenge Eregor for the tower of water and though I bested him in the first round... I was unable to avail myself in the latter two." The way he spoke those words indicated that while he took fault, he believed that there were a great many other factors involved.
"I would like to ask a favor of you, please feel free to refuse, for I am asking for much. Would you be able to lend me a drop or two of your blood? It would aid me in this battle that is coming."
she blinked biting her lip hard trying to be as polite as she could
"Mallory is a friend and always is nice to me ... she also taught me not to give my blood away so I do refuse that"
She was still clever at her age and knew better blood was just as powerful as true names and neither were given out willy nilly.
"She saw what was coming it wasn't her fault what happened to me I just don't like to know because then I get all upset and try to figure out what I did wrong even if I didn't do anything wrong."
she nodded though after taking a breath
"Thank you... um I hate to even ask but terrible evil? What terrible evil? Wasn't once bad enough?! No more squidies, only one is nice and I don't want the ones that came for me."
she continued to listen
"It's hard to get towers... I use to be a neophyte but ..."
She cringed again taking a deep breath shoulders falling
"Don't give up though you can do it just keep swimming"
She giggled quoting Dory.
"Mallory tells everyone not to give things up, save to her.. how convenient, no? Still, she is the mentor of my love, so please do not take my words as unkind. I have merely divined that there is more to the blood witch than she lets on. To think her motives are pure, is a mistake." His words were not cruel or filled with envy, he spoke as if he were explaining a moral truth. So clear was he that he was not wrong.
He pulled out his phone now and looked over the vibrating device. "I apologize for that.." He tapped out a few quick messages, there was the hint of a frown on his face. A touch of sorrow in his eyes, but he simply swallowed and nodded his head, accepting the pain and wrapping it about him, forcing himself to endure. He felt one hook release however and he straightened up, some of his strength and confidence restoring to him. His eyes turned upward to the sun, as if seeking new possibilities in its setting rays.
He slipped the phone away, a hint of a smile on his face as he reached forward and ruffled her hair for giving him some of the cutest advice he had in a while.
"I never give up. You should not either. As for the evil... a Lich and an army of undead. Entering this world to take away those I love. I can use any help you or your own might provide." Hazel eyes found her own amber gaze, showing her the hint of fear he had for this terrible blight that was coming.
She frowned but let him speak then laughed a little
"No one's motives are pure in this place, I was a pickpocket before I got adopted"
She knew what he meant though for Mallory she'd known her for a year and a half Bellamere being only their second time meeting and talking she was not willing to give him anything so valuable so soon.
"Well... I count Gloria as a friend, Mist is my dad, he's a healer, um... My sissy Roni is a fae but... I don't think she will help, maybe... she's acting weird lately, Rachael is my Auntie and mentor, My pops Benny is super good at fighting, he taught me how to fight with my knife, if he and Rachael hadn't taught me, I wouldn't have been a baroness of Battlefield park ... Dillon is a friend of mine, um... Maggie, and Des and Pharlen ...Um I think of Conner as a friend of mine, and there is Sio... though she's like other people I think are my friends but I don't know if they think of me the same you know?"
She shuddered at the idea of Undead not as strong as the eldritch but she still didn't like the sound of it.
"If I can help I will but I won't put up my friends in the way of harm if they want to they'll tell you but... if anything happens to my sissy, my auntie or my dad or pops really anyone I care about, I'll bite you, then you can find out first hand how things change"
A very soft growl of protection over those she loved.
"I've fought against the Eldritch, I ... it's why I don't like magic anymore... Because my mentor was the one that tried to get me to fight against those I love and when I wouldn't allowed the squidies to take me away and try to sacrifice me. I try to use magic again but I don't know if I can again"
He stood more fully up and it looked as if he were trying to understand all that she said. He clearly recognized some of the names involved, but he only made a comment on one of them. He looked at his hand as he withdrew it from her tangled mop of hair and saw he came away with more than he bargained for. Even still, that had been his fault, and she seemed kind so he laughed and slipped his hands into his pocket.
"The lich is formidable in magics and attacked the Arena last week. I believe he will return soon. Any of your friends assistance would be appreciated. As for Dillon, I know of him. He watches and does not get involved."
"I don't want any of your friends to get injured, but I can make no promises, these are dangerous entities that we face. Horrible and merciless. I must take steps to ensure that much." He crouched down beside her once more, letting her see the seriousness in his eyes. "I am almost tempted to take your bite, if only to give me a bit more, but I realize that is foolish and that the curse is hard to control."
"I must be leaving, Amaris, do you wish to stay out here or would you like to follow me back into the city proper?"
"My pops has a cabin I'm gonna go eat shifting makes me really really hungry. I'll see you around Bellamere"
She gave him a smile trying to be comforting
She turned and headed off into the darkening woods snagging that backpack she always carried as she ran off
Carefully he wrapped the hairs in a cloth and stowed it away for later. It was unfortunate that she did not trust him with her blood, but some things could not be left to chance. Providence had provided this meeting for several reasons and now it seemed it was time to see what cruelties the fates set before him for the rest of the day.
With compass drawn forth, he channeled the power and connection to the fates that he had, forcing the fabric of reality to tear open and allow him to step away.
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