Scenes From the Life of a Young Empath

Stories from the lives of House Ilnaren and those whose lives intertwine with it.

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Doran Ilnaren
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Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:36 pm
Location: Stardreamer Manor

Soul Searching

Post by Doran Ilnaren » Sat Oct 26, 2019 6:23 pm

October 23, 2019

Riding across the fields of Stardreamer Manor, Doran found his thoughts occupied with weighty matters. Life and death, love and hate. He barely registered the thudding of Running Cloud's hooves against grass and earth, or the bright autumn colors that blazed all along the wood's edge.

On the surface, his life seemed fairly idyllic. He had a promising career on the stage ahead of him, he was healthy with plenty of friends and family around him, and even the lurking threats that always seemed to be on life's edges seemed to have taken a step back into the shadows. it was definitely not a life fraught with troubles.

Yet there was something missing.

Coming back to his surroundings, Doran gently reined Running Cloud to a halt and looked around him, The manor house was out of sight beyond the hill crest, and the gates to the estate were some distance ahead. To his right, he spied the treehouse he'd constructed--with help, admittedly--years before. It was his place of refuge, and more recently had become home to one he held dear.

He had never dared to truly admit to himself the depth of feeling he held for her, but why? Scared of rejection? Scared to make her a target of his father's enemies? He considered both suggestions, and as he pondered, he could picture Cratos rolling his eyes, heard his friend's voice. You're just being silly!

That was true. He was being silly, and dumb. In his mind's eye, Doran envisioned his place of peace, afloat upon a vast ocean, gentle waves lapping at the sides of his boat. He looked down at his hands on the oars... and then another pair of hands lightly rested on his. Looking up, he found himself gazing into eyes like pools of cool green, and a smile that soothed and enticed him.

She wasn't truly there, and yet the thought of her presence left him feeling whole and contented. A broad smile spread across his face.

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Doran Ilnaren
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Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:36 pm
Location: Stardreamer Manor

Love Notes

Post by Doran Ilnaren » Sat Oct 26, 2019 6:48 pm

October 24, 2019

Sylva was just making her way through the marketplace - yes at this late hour. It helped avoid certain places and kept her mind on things like 'oh look. pretty thing in the window there'. She did a whole lot of window shopping but not really much shopping-shopping.

Over by the fountain stage, Doran leaned against a post, and the music of his flute drifted through the night air. There were a few folk who stopped to listen, pausing for a moment on their way home, or to the nearest tavern, depending on how they preferred to end their day. He would occasionally spy a listener who seemed particularly enrapt, and play to them awhile, until they smiled, or blushed, and moved on.

Music. It did pull her from the depths of her pondering and from the shiny in a window. She was well aware that Doran was not the only one who played the flute but it still drew her. As she drifted closer she indeed saw it was the young man who was playing. Clasping her hands behind her back she drifted closer but not enough to be in the small crowd of people that gathered. She was listening but she seemed to be watching him more intensely than she was listening.

He felt her presence long before he saw her. She shone within his perception like a blazing bonfire, unable to be ignored. Still, Doran played to his auddience, but as he played, he incorporated some of the tunes crafted while helping Sylva with her dancing. The tempo was akin to a body's rhythm. The drawing of a breath, the beat of a heart, the subtle play of muscles as they moved.

It didn't take her long at all to realize that he was mingling some of the tunes in - like he was saying hello to her with music and a smile began to bloom. Slowly her hands unclasped and her gaze softened. Whatever she was thinking about may have lingered but it was now somewhere in the depths of other things. If anything, Sylva was patient. She'd watch as people left, obviously talking about the melodies they had heard.

Soon enough the fountain courtyard was empty, save for Doran onstage and Sylva at the edge. Now he turned his gaze towards her as he played, and the tune became something new. It was not one that she had ever heard before; indeed, not one he had ever played. This was a melody born from Doran's soul, full of the feelings he had for her, his heart laid bare in music.

She squinted at a couple as they left, apparently the last to leave. The music wooed her attention back to Doran and she blinked. That was a new song as far as she knew. Tipping her head to the side she listened and eventually drew closer to him. For a moment, just a moment, she met his gaze but after that she lowered her eyes.

Finally the trilling of the flute rose to a flourishing crescendo, peaked, and faded. Doran lowered the instrument and jumped down from the stage, walking over to stand before Sylva. He drew her gently into his arms, and leaned forward to touch his forehead to hers.

Music didn't feel as difficult as words, maybe that was why she liked it so much. Not that she could play a tune to save her life. Staring at her feet, she focused on not the one who played it but the melody that was created. As the music faded she became more aware that he was on the move and she looked up just in time to be embraced. Instinct had her wrapping her arms around him. Small things like the forehead tap made her smile. He didn't think her weird for her differences. It was..nice. "That was beautiful," she murmured to him about the song.

"I was inspired by you, that's why." He pulled his head back to look at her, but didn't let go of the embrace. "I'm sorry if I've been a dumb-dumb lately. Not sure how to say what I feel, hesitating, too worried about how people might look at us." He held her gaze and smiled. "I should have simply spoken from the heart, the same way I play for you. I love you, Sylva, and I am yours for as long as you will have me."

Geh! Ebon spilled the beans! Or Rhi. Or Gory. She almost groaned out loud as her arms dropped. "Worried about how people might look at us?" Her brows began to drift down but stopped and instead shot up. Like disappearing under her bangs, up. "Wh-what? D-Doran. You..You don't need to say that. I am sorry for what I told your da. Don't feel like you have to say anything like that to me!" She was practically stumbling over her own words.

"What you told...? Pa didn't say anything to me about you." He raised an eyebrow, looking very much like his father's son in that moment, and grinned. "I'm saying it because it's how I feel. You make me happy when you look at me, your smile brightens my heart and your voice soothes my soul."

Her face went red when it seemed Ebon didn't say anything and only seemed to go moreso red the more he spoke. Poor Sylva looked like a red balloon about ready to pop. Her mouth opened and slowly closed. She was lost on words. "Why...did you seem hesitant to call me girlfriend when I met Yuino?"

It was his turn to redden at that question. "I wasn't sure if you would be comfortable, being introduced like that." He shrugged. "It's silly, I know, I've called you that before. It's just, at that moment... I didn't want to treat you like a trophy."

That is where it confused her. She tipped her head as she peered at his face. "Have I given you reason to think I thought you were treating me like that?"

"" He actually hung his head a bit. "Like I said, I was a dummy."

She practically melted and released a loud breath. "I thought I had done something wrong and made you not like me no more." She was soooo happy to know otherwise and her arms went around to hug him tight. For like two seconds then he was released and she shuffled back. "Um..." was mumbled and she dug into her bag to pull out the puzzle box he should be familiar with by now. She offered it out to him.

With a quizzical look, he took the puzzle box and held it. "I never did figure out how to open this."

Her lips pursed briefly before she nodded. "I..know. I took out what was inside. That was actually suppose to be your birthday gift. But... I... chickened out. But then I, um..." She reached back into her bag and pulled out a small folded piece of paper and offered it to him. "I was... Um... going to put this one in there before giving it back to you."

He took the note, looking a little shamefaced. Then he read it.

And he read it again.

When I first made this box I had put a note inside for you to find. It said "like you lots". As weeks and days went by that feeling became a known and grew more. It scared me because I don't know how to be normal and say things right. I do know I am thankful for you and you have done so much for me I can't put it all on this tiny paper. When you didn't figure out the puzzle I took the puzzle and put this paper in instead. Maybe you will figure it out. Maybe you won't. Maybe I will be brave enough to tell you one day that I don't think I like you lots. I think I am in love with you. So if I act weird, I am sorry. Tell me to stop. K? K! Congrats on figuring out my weird birthday gift to you!


Doran's jaw dropped. "I- I- I-" Beat. "I am the luckiest man in the multiverse."

She looked confused when he looked like that. Puzzles were hard so it isn't like she was upset that he didn't figure it out. That confusion bled nervousness and she subconsciously took a step or two back. "Huh?"

"You love me." It was a simple statement, but Doran's voice seemed to swell with heartfelt emotion as the meaning of those words filled him.

Hearing him say it like that made her red in the face again. She nodded softly and she tugged on the end of her shirt. "I do love you, Doran. I just wasn't sure if it was okay for me to say or feel that." Her brows slowly began to knit. Things were complicated in ways she didn't like. "Do you think people...find that weird? I mean"

"No, but even if they did, it wouldn't matter to me. You know how you feel about me, and I know how I feel about you. That's what is important."

She gave him a slightly confused look but decided not to say anything. Instead, she giggled and nodded a few times. "Okay." She exhaled again in a rush, like she had been holding her breath. "Thank you, Doran."

"Thank you, Sylva. And you're welcome."

The realization of his words earlier had hit her and she felt a bit giddy but at the same time it was counted by the nervousness in the pit of her stomach with everything. Saying those words but then warmly received. Her stomach was all topsy turvy! Rubbing her cheek, she tried to get rid of the warmth she felt there. "How long have you been out here?"

"A while," he admitted, and shivered at Sylva's touch, though whether from that or the evening chill, he honestly couldn't say. "Do you want to go somewhere warm?"

"Yes, please!" she quickly agreed with a sheepish smile. "We should start wearing our coats, huh?"

"Well, it gives us an excuse to cuddle when we get home."

Well that didn't help the color in her cheeks none. Slowly she reached a hand out, fingers offered to him. "Does that mean you are staying tonight or just for a little while to warm up?"

He took her hand. They were a bit of a matched set, at least in terms of cheek color. "I'd like to stay."

"Okay. I'll make sure to wear socks." She did have a bad habit of tucking her cold feet under him. Opps? She grinned sheepishly and when he took her hand she leaned into him for a sort of hug before she took a step for home.

((written with Sylva))
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Doran Ilnaren
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Location: Stardreamer Manor

Revelations at the Perch

Post by Doran Ilnaren » Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:04 am

November 10, 2019
The Golden Perch Inn

The door of the Perch opened and first Doran, then Velen entered. Seeing them together could at first be a little jarring, as the only difference between them was that of a few years in age. "Hullo, everyone!" The younger of the pair waved to those already within.

Mallory, sitting by the hearth, greeted them and Velen waved to the witch. "Hello, Mal!" Then, spying Michelle sitting next to her, he gave the Overbaker a sympathetic smile, recalling that the last time he'd seen her was as she was pulled into the Gate. His eyes suddenly slammed shut as the vision he'd seen that night rose in his memory. ...running through the sunken city, heart pounding, as something slithered behind....

Doran was silent, glancing at his brother before turning his gaze back towards the hearth, watching the two women talking softly. He shivered and moved to the bar. "Hello, Ama. I need something warm... do you have any hot cocoa?" The Perch's hostess quickly prepared a mug of cocoa for him, running out of hot water in the process, for which Doran had the grace to look apologetic. "Thank you, Ama." He took the mug of cocoa and drank deeply, letting the warmth flow down through his body. Then he moved to an empty table and claimed it for the brothers. Sapphire-blue eyes occasionally glanced around the room, or back towards the bar, but inevitably gravitated back towards the hearth, and the pair sitting close by the warming fire. He was taking a drink from his cocoa when suddenly a flash of utter despair filled his awareness, only for an instant. The mug slipped in his hand, spilling a little before he got a firmer grip.

Over at the bar, Velen had been discussing the benefits of adding Calvados brandy to mulled cider, and decided to try it for himself. While he was waiting, he spotted his brother's near mishap and came over. "You okay?" He looked at Doran with concern as he sat down at their table.

"I am, but..." Doran turned to his brother-- his older self--and his voice dropped to almost a whisper. "Can't you *feel* it? Feel her?"

Velen poured a shot of Calvados into his mug--leaving some nobles out as an extra tip for Ama's table service--and took a sip, looking from Doran to the hearth. "You mean Michelle? She's been through an ordeal. I was there when she fell through the Gate... and I saw only a glimpse of what she must have lived through." One hand reached out to rest reassuringly on his brother's arm. "But she's free of it now."

"That's just it. She isn't free. She's trapped in her memories of that place."

Age and experience made him less susceptible to outside emotions than Doran, but he was no less an empath because of it. Opening his mind, he looked towards the hearth... and then shut his eyes, visibly recoiling. "Lady Above!"

Doran took another drink from his hot cocoa; it was starting to cool, but he paid no heed. "You see?"

"So alone... so much pain, so much despair." Velen shook his head rapidly as if to clear it. "I remember my vision that night, of the world beyond that Gate... creatures slithering, oozing behind me, an acidic taint to the very air... and then, lost..." Velen gave a violent shudder. "But she's not alone anymore." He gestured towards Mallory sitting there, and Rachael was with them now as well.

"She isn't, no... but not in the way you mean. Look closer, Velen. Look *deeper*." Once more Doran's voice lowered almost to a whisper. "Something came back with her."

That revelation from Doran had stunned Velen, and he sat back in his chair, drinking his brandied cider. "Are you certain?" When Doran nodded, he let out a low whistle.

"What can we do?" Doran asked. Zack passed by the table, giving upnods to them both, and Doran returned the gesture, albeit somewhat distractedly. He was waiting for an answer from Velen. Waiting for advice.

Velen also returned Zack's nod, before looking back to his brother. "Talk to Father. He was working with Michelle at Dragon's Gate, he might have some ideas. I'll see if I can speak with Mal this week, at the school or here at the Perch. If you're right," and Velen's tone indicated that he believed Doran, "then she might have some leads on how to help... and she is Michelle's friend."

"Okay." He glanced back towards Michelle, whose mood was being lightened by Rachael's grandkittens, and the young empath smiled a bit in echo of the Overbaker's own smile. "The kittens seem to be helping, at least."

That made Velen chuckle. "Well, of course. That's what kittens are for!"

"Hmmm. My cocoa is cold." He looked across at Velen's mug. "I imagine your cider isn't much warmer."

"Not much." Velen drained his mug, then stood and picked it up before reaching for Doran's. "Refill?"

((Adapted from life play. Special thanks to Michelle Montoya for letting Doran and Velen pick up on her emotional state and more! Thanks also to Mallory, Rachael Blackthorne, Amaranthe, and Zack Alcar for giving my guys stuff to play off of!))
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Doran Ilnaren
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Location: Stardreamer Manor

Eldritch Dreams

Post by Doran Ilnaren » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:06 pm

"....a chaotic sensation that is a voice but not a voice, a fanciful transmutation of sound and despair." - H.P. Lovecraft

The sky was black and filled with a droning, mindless chant that ate at Doran's sanity, nibbling away and driving him inexorably to madness. He trod barefoot upon slime-covered cobblestones amid bizarre geometry and antediluvian architecture. Ahead of him, the cyclopean ruins opened up and he stepped out onto an outcropping that overlooked the sunken city of R'lyeh. Ahead of him rose the great temple, from whence came that maddening chant, robed cultists crying out in praise of their dread lord. He could not see, but Doran knew that the Great Old One's body lay deep in the slimy vaults, dead but not dead, not living, the body slept. But the mind, the consciousness of the thing?

The mind of Cthulhu--he winced to even think its name as it sprang to his awareness--dreamt, hungry and alien beyond human comprehension, yearning for the time when it would be free. When it would rise.

Above the droning of cultists and the snarling roars of the Cthulhu-spawn below, Doran heard other voices. faint but growing. It was not sound but sensation, a shared, chaotic cry of misery and horror. These were the victims of the cult, the sacrifices that had been slain and dragged to such a hellish fate, to feed the Old One. So few remained, and those that were left, they were all but gone. The abysmal depths of despair had laid claim, and they could do little more than scream until they, too, were consumed.

It was those cries that had drawn Doran, in his dreaming, to this place of eldritch horror. To R'lyeh. As he stood there, the youth looked up and felt the presence of Cthulhu. It was aware of him! It was aware of them all... and it was coming! He turned away from the temple, running back into the cyclopean maze. His feet stumbled on the slick, seaweed-strewn rocks, and he had to scramble to regain his footing, to keep running, never looking back for fear of what chased him. He could feel the hot gusts of wind--or was that breath?--upon the back of his neck; the stench of the place had him near to retching, and a mad gibbering filled his ears.

Something wet and oozing caught hold of his ankle, and Doran fell, landing hard on the stones. As the cacophony grew louder, closer, he closed his eyes and kicked, again and again. "No... no! NOOOO...!"

* * * * * * *

"NO!" Doran's eyes burst open and he all but exploded into action, leaping from where he had lain and tumbling to the floor. ""

"Doran?" Sylva's soft voice, full with anxious concern, echoed in his ear, and he turned to look at her. She knelt beside him, and their foreheads touched gently, soothing away the fading nightmare. Beyond her, he could see his parents, and she looked almost sheepish. "They brought me here, to see if I could wake you. I- I was afraid."

Coming up to kneel beside Sylva, Phen signed her relief that Doran was back with them. I could not reach you, son. You had us so worried. Then she reached in to pull both youths into an embrace, and he could feel tears running down her cheeks.

"I'll go check on the girls and the other children. There will be hot chocolate ready in the kitchen, when you come down. I think we could all use a cup of something warm." With a reassuring smile, Ebon turned to leave the room.

Before he could go, Doran called out to stop him. "Father? I was in the sunken city, the place where Michelle was taken. Where Uncle Eregor was sent. He's coming, Father. He's coming soon."
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Doran Ilnaren
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Shattered Echoes

Post by Doran Ilnaren » Sun Jan 26, 2020 7:59 pm

18 January, 2020

Having crafted a little firepit below the treehouse, Doran sat on a log close by it, one arm around Sylva while the other held a marshmallow on a stick close to the flames, taking care not to let it burn overmuch. Between the nearby fire and the blanket wrapped around them, the pair were warm enough and quite comfortable.

So why, then, did Doran feel a sudden chill deep within his bones?

Apparently it was noticeable, as Sylva turned to look at him with concern. "Doran? What's wrong?"

He couldn't answer her, couldn't find words to speak at all as the stick dropped from his fingers and he rose, taking a few, swaying steps away from the firepit and the treehouse, out into the open field. He looked up into the sky...

...and collapsed.

"Doran!" Sylva's voice touched the edges of his awareness, but he couldn't see her, not even when she rolled him over and looked down into his wide, staring eyes. Images flashed through his sight, images of people fighting, punching and kicking fiercely. It was like watching a Fists match, but moreso, like watching every Fists match since the sport began, all distilled into a single chaotic melee. Faces shifted and merged, he saw people he recognized and others he had never known, and beyond it all were five shapes. Red and yellow, blue and green and black. All of them surging with power until, as he watched, they shattered, exploding into a cloud of flying shards that seemed to cut through the fighters like fish through the sea.

And then Doran's mind was filled with a roiling mass of color. He could hear voices beyond it all, some he knew and others he did not. "Sylva?" Someone gripped his hand, and through the madness he gripped back, taking comfort. There were other voices now, familiar ones. "Cratos? Maggie?" He would be okay, his friends were there.

So what had happened? He could still hear the echoes of that shattering explosion. What new chaos had sprung upon Rhy'din?
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Doran Ilnaren
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Post by Doran Ilnaren » Mon May 25, 2020 2:41 pm

25 May, 2020

As the morning sun rose over the surrounding fields, Doran sat out on the swinging couch in front of the treehouse, contemplating choices. Choices made, and choices faced. He had chosen to stand in defense of his Baron the previous evening. Though he withstood the counter from Michelle and he gave his best effort against Hope, he was not able to prevent her from pressing her challenge against Rhi to claim Old Market. Still, she had offered to let him remain as Squire, and indeed Doran had considered it... but something else had struck him that evening.

Why had Matt Simon, who had once been Rhi's own Baron and was named in her court of honor for the challenge, stood and announced he was willing to step in as Michelle had? Doran could well understand Michelle's counter; she and Hope were long-time teammates and friends... but Matt? He surely had his reasons, but whatever they were, he had hurt Rhi, saddened and disappointed her. Though no longer her squire, Rhi was still his aunt and his friend, and he did not like to see his family distressed in any way.

"Doran?" Sylva's soft voice was still raspy, strained from damages she'd suffered, and as she opened the door to step outside she switched to the sign language he and his mother had taught her. You were exhausted when you came in last night, and then were not there when I woke. Are you all right?

"I'm fine, Sylva." As she sat beside him, he turned and gently touched his forehead to hers, then kissed her lightly, a pair of gestures that shared the same meaning. "I've just been doing some thinking." His eyes turned towards the southwest, and the forests rising over Battlefield Park, and he gave a little nod as if finalizing a thought. "Would you like to join me in town for lunch? I have to drop something off at the Arena, and then maybe get some burgers and milkshakes at that place Eden likes." When she nodded, he grinned and they rose. Pulling her into an embrace, he held her close for a moment and then pulled back, gesturing for her to lead the way down the steps and on towards the city.
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