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Posts posted by NayruGoddessOfWisdom

  1. Both Torianna and Rueben's leather jackets sat in a small pile just a few steps behind them as Lorcan came skidding down the rope, leaping carefully off the crater wall. Torianna began to roll up her shirt sleeves, while her accomplice kept a firm grip on the rope to keep it anchored. It was hot as hell down at the bottom of the crater, not to mention dark; and the female thief was not enjoying it.

    "Was it this hot last time you were here?" she asked as she pulled her hair back, fixing it up with a thin piece of string. "I swear Jaydon said it wasn't that bad..."

    Rueben turned to her, his eyes wide in a warning sign as Lorcan freed himself from the rope. He quickly gave three sharp tugs to signal to Endel that the next person should start descending, before turning to give Torianna a knowing look.

    "Take it easy," she assured her friend. "Lorcan already knows."

    Rueben turned to give the boy a dark look, his eyebrows drawn together. "How come?"

    "He's got a crystal ball and some creepy skill for reading it. Isn't that right, monkey man?" Lorcan gave a solemn nod to affirm the news, and Torianna continued. "But it's not like you need to worry, he can't talk anyway."

    "Fine," Rueben sighed reluctantly, turning back to the rope. "But if this all blows up, I'm blaming it on him."

    It took Maia a while to make her way down the rock face, meanwhile Lorcan divested his additional layers, shooting Rueben dirty looks all the while. Torianna could practically taste the disdain between the boys, and was doing everything in her power to diffuse the situation. Frankly, she was relieved when Maia joined them, and even more so when Endel and Cheval found their way down too. Once everyone was safely on the ground and suitably dressed, they set off in search of the ruins that Rueben had promised them.

  2. One swift kick, and Goron went down with a heavy grunt. The hammer skidded a little to the left as the rest of the group came vaulting over the rocks to join Torianna and Lorcan. The Goron was struggling to heft his massive weight off the ground, and his round beady eyes were glancing between his assailants with a combination of confusion and outrage.

    Rueben had launched himself onto the back of the poor guard before he had a chance to get out so much as a word. Standing himself between the broad shoulder blades of this massive being, Rueben brought one foot down sharply on the Goron's head. With a deep, pitiful moan, he went out like a light.

    "You could have killed him!" Maia admonished, but the thief only shook his head in response.

    "Not a chance," he replied, jumping off the guard's back. "Gorons have skin and skulls as strong as steel. He'll be fine. Now come on, we've got to move quickly. He won't be out for long."

    It took Cheval two attempts to heave the weapon up off the ground, and he had to pause briefly before he could tip it's weight back over his shoulder. Meanwhile, Torianna crouched down beside the unconscious guard. His fat, thick lips were parted slightly, those beady blue eyes pressed closed. She could hear him breathing as she slipped the folded receipt into his bag. He was definitely alive. He was going to recover.

    Still, none of them felt good about what they'd done as they began to trail back up Death Mountain. Torianna walked a few paces behind Cheval, who was flanked on either side by Lorcan and Endel. As they progressed, Rueben stepped into pace with her.

    "He's a smart cookie, your buddy; Endel," he said quietly, giving Torianna one of his distinguished smiles. "Not quite as much of a do-gooder as I expected. Maybe your pals aren't such bad company after all. Though that other boy seems grumpy as hell, and Endel's girlfriend's a bit of a drip..."

    "Lorcan and Maia," she corrected him. She didn't say the other thought on her mind: that Rueben's presumptions were horrifically wrong. He knew nothing about her friends. What's worse is that a month ago, she might have agreed with him.

    Rueben pressed his mouth closed for a moment, his tired eyes squinting as though he were thinking. A few seconds of silence passed before he said: "Do you have as much fun working with them as you used to with me?"

    "Apples and oranges, Rueben," she sighed. "Apples and oranges."

    Knuckle likes this

  3. "Rueben, knock it off," Torianna ordered. Her friends exchanged bemused glances, somewhat surprised by her familiar tone. Rueben himself only raised an eyebrow, egging her to continue. She decided to shut her mouth. She didn't like this whole... lying business, and she was severely resenting Rueben for leaving her with no other option.

    "I'm just saying..." Maia mumbled. "The Gorons aren't malicious people. I mean sure they fight and stuff... but they're reasonable, and they've worked with Hylians before!"

    Rueben sighed, as though he found this whole ordeal arduous. "The only way the Gorons would willingly give us that weapon is if one of you faced them in the ring. And I don't know about you, but I don't fancy taking a beating - those guys are built like brick houses. Either someone fights them, or we steal the weapon. Your call."

    The silence that followed was enough of a response.

    With that, Cheval bent down and begun sketching a map of the Goron village into the dusty with a sharp stone. He, Endel, and Rueben crowded around, skilled thieves hatching a plan to take the weapon. Torianna knew she should really have been helping them, but as she moved to join them, Lorcan's hand curled around her arm.

    The silent knight fixed her with a seething glare that said all it needed to: he knew exactly who Rueben was and he was not happy about it.

  4. Torianna lay in the darkness, watching the puffs of hot steam rising up from the crater of the volcano. Sleeping in an open-camp here was nothing like in the dessert. The temperature didn't miraculously drop at night time, it remained boiling hot and sticky. Lorcan, who slept close beside her, wasn't helping the situation either. She could practically feel the heat radiating from him.

    What was even more disconcerting than that, was watching a shadow rising up over the rocks. The figure was undeniably human, relatively close, and they appeared to be converging straight on the small camp. Torianna reached out, inching herself away from the slumbering guard to grab her golden dagger from where she left it in her jacket pocket. She waited in silence as the figure drew closer.

    Only when it came near enough to be illuminated by the tiny flickering fire did Torianna let her grip on the weapon slack. "Rueben!" she hissed across the darkness, drawing herself up to her feet. "What the hell are you doing?"

    His face broke out into a broad grin, the dim lighting doing wonders to hide the small creases around his eyes. He scrabbled over towards her, but she took him by the wrist and pulled him away from the camp. She wouldn't have him waking the others. Once they were safely around the corner, she motioned for him to speak.

    "That fireball, the one that hit the Network base... it came from here!" he said excitedly.

    "I know that," she snapped. "Everyone with a working pair of eyes knows that! It still doesn't explain why the hell you're here!"

    "Are you ashamed of me? Not good enough for your do-gooder friends?" he teased gently. She shot him a dark look, and he quickly went on with his story. "I was curious, so I went to Kakariko to find out what was happening. The people there said there was this old legend, folklore really, about this dragon living in the mountain. Apparently he's really really old, we're talking legendary-hero-old. They reckon he's responsible for this. But here's the best bit... according to the legend, he's sitting on a massive pile of treasure."

    "Of course," she muttered. She should have known that Rueben just wanted money out of this. It was too much to hope that he actually wanted to protect the world. She wondered if he even knew what was really happening here.

    "Clearly, you guys are after the treasure too," he continued. "And there's five of you, and only one of me, so you've got a better chance than I do alone. But here's the thing... in order to defeat this guy, you have to get the ancient weapon that the legendary hero used. It's basically this massive hammer according to the locals..."

    Torianna was quickly tiring of Rueben's shenanigans. He was very close to waking her friends, and she doubted they would have much sympathy for his hedonistic lifestyle. "What's this got to do with us?" she snapped.

    "I'm suggesting that we team up," he finally said, crossing his arms. "You've got the manpower, and probably the experience. But me? I know exactly where to find this hammer. When I was with the network, we did a robbery of the Goron city just a little ways up from here. We didn't take the hammer, but I do know exactly where they keep it. If you're hoping to defeat this guy, you'll need it."

    Torianna paused, narrowing her eyes.

    "I swear," he muttered, "no messing around this time. I'll show you where the weapon is, so long as you cut me in on the profits."

  5. Lorcan's words hit Torianna harder than she dared to admit. For all the time that she'd spent away from home, from her father, her brother, she'd never heard that from them. To be missed was something sentimental, more than just a notice of absence. And she hadn't simply returned the knight's words for the sake of politeness. As she felt the reassurance of his hands on her arms, she realised quite how badly she had longed for him in her absence, even if she dared not admit it to herself at the time.

    But for Lorcan to talk, not to shout and rant; but to talk... she felt like a coal miner who'd just struck diamond.

    He pressed his lips gently together then, glancing up to Torianna with wide blue eyes. One last time, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her in to his chest. He hugged her with undeniable tightness, as if he were attempting to prove to himself that she was really there. She had to admit that she felt so much safer in his arms than she ever had in Rueben's.

    "Now come on..." she whispered, placing one hand on his chest and gently pushing him back. "I need to see Endel and Maia... if he'll actually hear me out..."

    Lorcan's smile seemed promising as he took her by the hand and began to lead her back up the street.

  6. They moved swiftly through the forest, reaching Castle Town just as morning began to really set in. As they traversed the steadily filling streets, Torianna swore she saw yet another fireball sailing from Death Mountain towards Faron Woods, but it was too bright a day to tell for sure.

    After a short while, they parked up outside the city ironmongers. There was quite a queue outside; weapons wielders waiting for their swords to be whetted, rich men with expensive jewellery, and an elderly lady with a collection of ugly brass bells. They would have been in for quite a wait had the ironmonger not taken an especial interest in their cuffs. The metal, red, solid and shining gently, had caught his attention. He offered to remove them for free if the thieves let him keep the scrap metal. They were hardly going to turn down that offer.

    Jaydon went first, and by the time Torianna emerged, rubbing her sore wrists, he was gone.

    Not that it bothered her much, she had more important people to worry about. People with whom she needed to make amends. She paused a while in the town centre, trying to figure out where her old friends would have gone. It was highly unlikely that they were still in the dessert... but where they would have headed next was beyond her. After much deliberation, she decided to take a leaf out of Endel's book, and place her fate in the hands of a mystic. Not that she was about to admit that she was wrong - they were still airheads - but she was left with little other option.

    The fortune teller resided in a plot just outside the city centre. She was tall, with great sweeping curls and chubby cheeks dusted with cheap face powder. Torianna didn't think too much of her - she spoke with needless theatricality and made a number of vague, sweeping statements that revealed very little. It wasn't until Torianna voiced her disbelief that the woman grew defensive, and spat out "the trio you seek are taking themselves directly into the flames of Eldin. Now..." she lost all sense of character then "either cough up what you owe me or get the hell out of my shop!"

    Torianna tossed her a few rupees, and took off. 'The flames of Eldin' was a thinly veiled disguise if ever she saw one. So she gathered her courage, nicked an apple from a fruit stall, and took off towards Death Mountain.

  7. Despite their annoyance at one another, Torianna and Rueben managed to hatch a plan together. Security in this new base was pitiful, but it did exist. All they needed was a distraction to gather enough time for them to escape. So they agreed to lie in wait for a few days, something was bound to come along eventually.

    That night, it did. And it was far better than Torianna could have anticipated.

    She was awoken in the small hours of the morning by a horrendous crash from above, followed by a hot sizzle. Rueben jolted upright beside her, and the two of them exchanged knowing glances. This was their opportunity - a better one wasn't going to come along any time soon. It was time for action.

    Commotion broke out on the top floor of the house. Loud thundering footsteps could be heard alongside raised voices - panicked voices. Rueben utilised this for cover, bashing his shoulder into the locked door. Once. Twice. On the third attempt, the wood splintered beneath the force and the locking mechanism broke away from the door. He stumbled a little, before nodding to Torianna.

    Together, they took off along the corridors, Rueben in the lead to show her the way. As they reached side door of the building (they decided not to use the main exit), smoke could be seen pouring down the stairwell. By the looks of things, their 'lucky distraction' was actually a fire. Torianna forced herself not to be fazed by it. This wasn't the time for delay.

    Torianna's boots were showered with tiny droplets from the dewy grass as they ran the length of the building, over towards the stables which, thankfully, were left unharmed by the flames. Rueben worked quickly on freeing and prepping one of the horses, before hoisting himself up onto the saddle. Torianna clambered up behind him, and Rueben raised his cuffed hands to let Torianna drop her arms around his waist to keep her balanced.

    He led the horse ever so carefully around the flaming building in a bid not to spook it, working with incredible skill despite his restriction. As they moved, Torianna took the opportunity to study the building. Flickering orange lights could be seen through the smokey windows. A small number of networkers were gathered outside the building, all of them shouting and screaming and trying to figure out who was missing. As they drew out towards the tree line, her eyes drifted up to the gaping hole in the roof of the building.

    "It just came out of nowhere, I swear!" one of the men shouted. "Like a damn fireball falling out of the sky!"

    Jaydon was nowhere to be seen.

    Briefly, for just a moment, Torianna saw Darius amongst the tiny crowd. He was hunched over, coughing violently, his bony hands curled around what appeared to be a walking stick. Never before had she seen him looking so... old. For a moment his haggard eyes caught hers, and Torianna felt a flash of righteous indignation, before the horse took off in a canter and she was whisked away into the forest.

  8. "Are you proud of yourself?" Torianna hissed across the space, straining furiously against her cuffs.

    "Oh, don't you dare!" Rueben growled from where he sat beside her. "This is your fault as much as it is mine."

    Torianna pressed her lips together, exhaling loudly through her nose before jabbing an elbow into his ribs. "Don't forget, genius. You're the one who double crossed me. If you hadn't done this; we wouldn't be stuck here." She chanced a glance over to the door, but it still remained firmly locked. Her shoulders were still heaving from both her struggles and her temper. "Admit it," she continued. "Your loyalties are completely warped."

    He groaned in exasperation. "Oh get off your high horse! You think I'm disloyal? Have you even thought about yourself? You ditched your family for a group of random strangers for no other reason than the fact that they looked interesting. Then you ditched them because... what? They didn't do what you wanted? They weren't prepared to drop everything when you snapped your fingers? Don't you think that's a little... selfish?" He paused, watching Torianna for a reaction. When she didn't offer one, he lowered his voice and continued. "Don't lecture me on loyalty, because you and I are exactly the same: neither of us are loyal to anyone but ourselves."

    The moment that he finished talking, Torianna felt an old and unwanted tugging sensation in the pit of her gut. Her allegiance had changed the moment that she broke into the scoundrels' base, but her loyalties hadn't. She'd been running around, thinking she owed some debt of loyalty to her father, to her family, to the network. She'd been operating under some illusion of freedom, but all the while she'd been wearing chains that kept her sentenced with loyalty to her bloodline.

    But screw that. Screw all of that. Because loyalty wasn't something you wore like a shackle, and carried with you as a burden. Loyalties changed, and shifted. Old loyalties washed away under the influence of new ones. They didn't come as a debt to be owed, but as a choice freely made to stand beside someone.

    For far too long now, Torianna had been shackled to the wrong people. She hadn't even realised, up until now, that she held the key.

    But before she could break free of any metaphorical chains, she had to get off the red cuffs from her wrists. And in order to do that, she was going to have to work together with Rueben for what (she hoped) would be the last time.

  9. "I don't-" she faltered, glancing at Rueben. He wouldn't meet her eye. "I don't understand," she muttered, looking back to her brother. "I thought you were... Lorcan-"

    "Your friend did an admirable job," Jaydon cut her off. "Without his assistance, I doubt I would have regained my sanity. That certainly wouldn't have boded well for the network, considering the predicament you landed Dad in."

    His tone was accusatory, and it was enough to anger Torianna. "He doesn't deserve that title."

    "Oh, you made your opinion quite clear when you kicked him off that cliff face," Jaydon said, slowly raising himself up from the desk. "He still hasn't quite recovered, so I've been left in charge. Which means now that you've wandered straight into my reach, I'm in charge of finding a suitable punishment."

    Suddenly panicked, Torianna turned back to the door, only to find Rueben stood in it's way with his arms crossed. This time, he met her eye. All at once, she realised what he'd done when he came in as a 'scout'.

    "You!" she spat. "You tricked me. You could have let me get away-"

    "You mean like you did to me?" he replied, raising an eyebrow. "I would have escaped those guards had it not been for you. Besides, you came with a handsome reward. How could I possibly say no?" He paused, smirking. "You said yourself that I owed Jaydon. I was just bending the rules of loyalty a little. I thought you hated rule abiding cowards?"

    The beast returned then. The same beast that had ripped itself from Torianna's chest the day that her father had taken Lorcan away against his will. Except this time, she didn't exercise its aggression on a patch of dirty ground; she leapt at Rueben. She wasn't even considering her actions as she jumped up at him, hooking her legs around his waist and clawing for his throat. His back knocked into the door frame as he desperately grappled at her hands, trying to pry them away from him. He forcefully shoved her back, but she hooked her fingers into his shirt and dragged him down with her. They hit the ground with a thud.

    Try as hard as he might, Rueben couldn't subdue Torianna's anger and her strength wasn't enough to overpower him. The two of them rolled on the floor, grunting with each hit they took. They were locked in a furious stalemate, until eventually Jaydon intervened.

    As if from thin air, two metal bands clamped themselves around Torianna's wrists. They were thick, smooth, bright red in colour and letting off a slight sheen in Jaydon's shadow. Torianna let out a high pitched growl, straining against the cuffs that held her hands together.

    But apparently, her displeasure at this turn of events was nothing compared to Rueben's. He let out an animalistic wail, raising his cuffed hands and slamming them down against the edge of the desk. The red metal didn't even dent. "What the hell is the meaning of this?!" he demanded.

    "Next time you consider betraying me, even for a second," Jaydon said, "remember the consequences."

    ((Oh my God, Knuckle. Your reply was astounding! :o ))

  10. "This is where the network are holed up now?" Torianna said in disbelief. The building laid out before her as she dismounted the horse was absolutely, completely unassuming. Tucked away along the far edge of Faron Woods, the network had retreated to a small cottage with a barn attachment. There were no guards, no complex security measures... Torianna was almost disappointed.

    "Our job is actually pretty easy," Rueben muttered as he clambered down next to her. "After the escapades of your little buddies, the network took quite a hit. Member numbers are dwindling, and Darius..." he cut himself short, choosing not to finish that sentence. "My point is, as long as we're deadly quiet - rely completely on stealth- we can make it to Jaydon undetected. I'll go in first as a scout, they trust me, after all. When the coast is clear, I'll bring you in. Got it?"

    Torianna nodded, and Rueben took off in a casual stroll. She watched him leave, indulging herself the nostalgic memory of working alongside him. If you overlooked the awful things they did, her and Rueben made a very well oiled machine. Lord knew she enjoyed his company.

    Just as Torianna's mind was beginning to wander to things she didn't want to consider, Rueben re-emerged curling one finger in invitation. She wasted no time in approaching the building and sneaking through the doorways. Together, they moved silently, without footstep nor word, up two flights of stairs to the attic. As they reached the top of the third staircase, they were met with only a simple wooden door.

    'This is where Jaydon is being held' Rueben mouthed, forming each syllable with careful emphasis. That was all the instruction Torianna needed.

    With no lock on the door, Torianna was fully expecting to be greeted with something grotesque. A monstrous beast in chains, something reminiscent of the disgusting creatures that they'd seen before: a snivelling demonic hybrid who, more than anything, needed protection. With Rueben's aid, they could get Jaydon to a safe location, find someone capable of healing him...

    But there were no chains. And the creature waiting for them wasn't a beast. Jaydon, looking a great deal paler, leaner, and stronger than before was sat behind a desk in what appeared to be a very well lit and lavishly furnished office. His hair, once as thick and dark as Torianna's was now ash white, swept back to expose the fat black spheres that served as eyes. Those awful black lightning bolts still marked his arms, and the smile on his sharp face was one of malicious intent.

    "Torianna," he said, his tone measured. "How nice of you to drop by."

  11. He was moody, but Torianna knew how to subdue Rueben. Two glasses of whisky sat on the small round table between them where they were tucked away in the corner of the tavern. Rueben wrapped his hands around his glass in an attempt to warm to the drink, Torianna chose to leave hers cold. The only noise came from the bartender, clinking glasses as he cleared away after last night's chaos.

    "Last time I saw you, you were on your way to prison," Torianna finally broke the silence.

    He sipped his drink. "I made bail."

    She nodded, pondering. He looked tired. He had always looked tired, but Rueben had struck her as somewhat indestructible since the first day they'd met. Even as an eight year old, he never went to bed on time. These days, she doubted he even had a regular bed; shooting whisky at this time in the morning and working through the night.

    "Are you still with the network?" she asked.

    He appeared to hesitate for a moment, his head bobbing gently left and right as he pondered. "Freelance," he replied. "How about you? Are you still working with... do-gooders?"

    "No," she muttered, something akin to guilt twisting in her stomach. It was quickly quelled by a gulp of whisky. "I had to prioritise."

    A spark of curiosity flashed in his hazel eyes, momentarily erasing the small creases beneath his lower lids. "Prioritise what?"

    "Jaydon," she replied honestly. He shifted uncomfortably on his wooden stool, and instantly Torianna realised that he knew something she didn't. It took her only a few seconds longer to piece together a solution: he was her way in. If she could win over Rueben, she'd have a man on the inside. She might just be able to save her brother.

    "I need to know what happened to him," she blurted. "And those... those rule abiding cowards wouldn't help! So concerned with following the rules..." she sighed, gathering herself. "I know Jaydon did a lot for you, and I know that you're in Darius' good books, so you've got to know more than me. Rueben, we need to help him."

    He sighed, averting his gaze down to his glass. "I don't know, Torianna..."

    "My brother got you your job," she reminded him. "You owe him at least this much."

    He pursed his lips, as if tasting something sour. Eventually, he gave her a slight nod.

    "Fine, for him," he paused, his crooked grin spreading. "And for old times' sake."

  12. When Torianna finally awoke from her nights slumber, the caravan around her was still. She blinked in confusion for a few moments, before remembering how she came to be here. Sunlight streamed in from the end of the carriage, where the canvas was pulled wide open and the two women were sat in the early morning sunshine, stitching the fabric into clothes. The young thief extracted herself from the caravan, thanked the women for their assistance, then gathered to leave. One seamstress offered to let Torianna stay for breakfast, but she refused. She didn't want to be idle right now. After much relentless kindness, Torianna accepted a bag of fruit from the women, and took off.

    They had parked up just outside the Southern gates of Castle Town, and as much as Torianna hated to be here again, it was the perfect place. She needed some kind of hint as to whether or not her Dad was still staying in the city or if he'd moved along by now. And the best place to gather that kind of information, was his favourite tavern. The bartender there knew Torianna, and she knew he was dirty enough to take bribes. It was even safer to go there now, knowing full well that the place would be rid of drunkards, criminals, and gamblers.

    That's how she found herself pushing open a black-painted door in a dingy alleyway in the East of Castle Town. But the place wasn't empty, as Torianna had assumed it would be. A half loaded tray of empty cups was left abandoned on one of the tables, as if the bar tender had been interrupted during his morning duties. And there, stood at the bar, was someone that Torianna thought she'd never see again.

    He turned to face her, his hazel eyes flickering over her with thinly veiled disdain. He retrieved one hand from the pocket of his brown leather jacket, clutching a fistful of rupees which he passed to the bar tender, before turning his full attention to the thief. Little had changed about him since their last brief encounter; he stood as tall and lean as always, leaning against the bar on one elbow. He still had his same reasonably pale complexion, prominent nose, slightly lopsided mouth which curled into a crooked smile.

    "I'm surprised that you had the nerve to show your face around here after all you've done, Tori," he said, dredging up annoyance in his old partner in crime. He hesitated. "Although, nerve was never something you were short of."

    Torianna cocked her head, relieved by his familiar tone. "You're one to talk, Rueben."

  13. Solitude seemed to worsen everything, as far as Torianna was concerned. The heat became more oppressive; the meagre supplies she'd taken from the group were heavier on her back; her anger multiplied in the pit of her stomach. Did Endel even try? Did he even care? And Maia... she'd said nothing, didn't try to talk Torianna out of it. She didn't even say goodbye.

    And Lorcan... Torianna didn't want to think about Lorcan.

    They were the first people she'd ever dared to call her friends, and now she regretted it. Burn them all anyway.

    She occupied herself for the first few miles of her journey by playing out scenarios in her head. She pictured Endel grovelling for forgiveness, Maia begging for her assistance, Lorcan with fat tears in those puppy dog eyes. But the images weren't quite as satisfying as she'd hoped they'd be, and a tiny part of her knew that she was just compensating for her sense of abandonment with anger.

    Screw it. It felt good.

    So she let herself run off angry endorphins for the best part of the afternoon as she traipsed across the desert, headed back the way they came. She marked off each landmark she passed on her mental check-list, but kept one eye on the falling sun. She knew she couldn't keep walking forever, and camping alone was a dangerous prospect.

    So when a caravan came trundling along the horizon, Torianna was infinitly relieved. She stuck out her thumb, watching as the vehicle swerved in it's path, cutting across the sand towards her. As it drew closer, Torianna took in the two strange boar like creatures tethered to the front and the two ageing ladies sat in the drivers perch. Their long greying hair was interwoven with pressed flowers and cotton threads, and they were both dressed in loose fitting print dresses.

    "You lookin' for a lift, little lady?" one asked. "You look all tuckered out."

    It wasn't until she was tucked away in the caravan; between boxes of fabric and crates of beads, buttons, and thread; that Torianna let herself cry.

  14. Endel's words opened up a black pit in the bottom of Torianna's stomach. Honestly she just wanted to smash her fist into this idiot's teeth, knock some sense into him! He was running around from pillar to post following this order and that, hoping that somehow he'd stumble across the correct solution. As for Torianna, she was sick of taking the back-seat while he bungled this mission. She'd spent far too long letting him delay saving her brother, and she was sick of it.

    His expression was one of absolute fury mingled with impatience. He watched Torianna, waiting for her to offer a response.

    "Fine," she muttered, burying her hands into her pockets; it was all she could do not to slap him. "If you want to follow another needless order, be my guest. I'm not wasting any more time with this drivel." She paused a moment, glancing around at the assembled group. Maia stood just behind Endel, her fingers laced together nervously. Cheval watched on impassively, while Lorcan looked visibly distressed by the confrontation. Torianna's stomach churned as she realised that he was hedging.

    "Lorcan?" she asked, squinting in the harsh sunlight. A look of panic passed over his expression and he began compulsively shifting weight from foot to foot with each second. His curls flopped down over his eyes, shading his expression as he painfully deliberated. Torianna's fingers twitched, itching to grab him by the arm and pull him away with her.

    But his response came clear. A simple, guilt-ridden shake of the head. The pit opened up and swallowed her diaphragm, her lungs, her heart.

    "I see," she muttered. Then, with all the disdain she could muster: "Good luck."

  15. "I can't believe he's using that information to bribe us," Torianna muttered darkly to Lorcan as they proceeded down the passage. "Doesn't he care about the scoundrels? Doesn't he have any sense of loyalty?" Lorcan quirked an eyebrow at that, shooting her a surprised glance. She scowled. "Shut up."

    He just shook his head softly, and Torianna bit back a sigh. She couldn't give a damn about aiding Cheval with his errands, she just wanted to know if her brother was safe. She had barely heard a thing from him since that day in the castle, had never seen him. Even when rescuing Lorcan, Jaydon was nowhere to be found. She couldn't help wondering how much of him was actually left. Not to even mention what kind of a state her father must be in...

    A soft glow distracted her from her thoughts as they neared the end of the chamber. The group spilled out into a wider circular room with a pool of water at its centre. As the glow faded, the assembled group found a young girl sat in the water, with sullen eyes and a snub, red-tipped nose. Her hair was long and silvery, tucked neatly behind her elongated ears and spilling down over her shoulders to cover her bare chest. Shimmering white blue wings extended out behind her back, as if they were petals unfolding from a bud. The smallest hint of a smile spread across her thin, faintly purple lips.

    "My loyal servant," she said, barely moving her lips. "I see you've brought company."

  16. ((Enjoy your trip!))


    The scorching heat from the desert gave way to a gentle chill as they descended the stairs to the underground cavern. Torianna walked a little ways ahead of the group, desperate to get away from that relentless burning up above. Their pathway darkened considerably the further down they went, and she found herself wondering how exactly Cheval was coping down here. Did he know about this place already? Or did he just get lucky?

    A flickering lantern appeared around a corner, stopping Torianna just short of smacking into a solid stone wall. And there, lingering in the small patch of light, was Cheval. He was rummaging through a sizeable rucksack, appearing to be searching for something. His clothes were far from good condition, and he was in desperate need of a good shave. He glanced up at Torianna, and something akin to displeasure crept across his face.

    "Oh, what did you do?" he spat, drawing himself up to his full height and yanking his sword from its sheath. Torianna blinked in astonishment as he trained the weapon on her, the tip of his blade glimmering in the dim light. "I knew we should never have let a networker into our base. What, did you separate the rest of the group? Send each of them off on a wild goose chase like you did to me? Come back to pick them off one by one? The day you set foot in our base I knew you were rooting to pull apart our organisation from the inside..."

    Endel intervened at that point, grabbing Cheval by the shoulders from the right. "Stop! She works with us now... all right?"

    Cheval lowered his sword, still wearing that same look on his face. It was clear to Torianna that this man had been through something unsettling on his journey, after all, months of solitude must have been hard on him. He moved with the uneasy disposition of a man on the edge as he turned to face the rest of the group. Torianna pushed herself away from the wall, shooting the scoundrel her worst glare. Lorcan moved to stand between the two of them, regarding Cheval with a thoughtful glance. Even Maia appeared somewhat unsettled.

    Silently, Cheval slipped his blade back into its sheath, his eyes never leaving the assembled group. "What the hell happened while I was gone?" he muttered darkly.

  17. They kept the fire burning, as per Endel's instructions, and sat together in the vast expanse of empty dessert. Torianna's legs were folded neatly over the lap of the silent guard, her head coming to rest on his left collarbone. She had expected it to be colder, but she was kept plenty warm enough by the fire and woollen blanket that Lorcan had pulled over his back and draped around Torianna's shoulders.

    His leant forward a little to feed another log to the fire, and she moved to accommodate him, before they returned to their previous place. His arm came to rest across her knees, and she paused, casting her eyes over the wounds that were just beginning to heal. Silently, she traced her fingers over the ridges and grooves set into his skin, flinching internally at the memory of Lorcan huddled away in that corner.

    "I'm sorry," she muttered, "my dad-"

    He wrapped the blanket a little tighter around her, pulling her into his chest as if to reassure her. For once, she didn't feel like making a joke of the intimate gesture, she didn't utter a sharp quip or push him away; she simply curled into the crook of his neck. And as she sat, she thought of the way that the dessert winds blew away layer after layer of sediment, and how the fire that they'd built consumed everything that it was fed, and how solid Lorcan felt holding her like this.

    The sharp gasp from the tent startled her. She straightened up, her gaze falling on the single tent as low rustling sounds could be heard from within. After a moment, Endel emerged from the doorway, looking rather ruffled and disoriented. He glanced over to Torianna and Lorcan as he pushed his unruly hair back, his eyes wide with a startled sense of urgency. If he was in any way surprised by how they were sat, he did a fantastic job of masking it.

    "I'll take over watch," he said, placing his hands on his hips.

  18. It started as a scrawled conversation about Lorcan's three sisters (who apparently had him whipped nicely into shape) and ended up as a situation that Torianna wasn't entirely familiar with. She almost wished she hasn't bothered bringing up his three sisters for the memories it sparked in him. Lorcan had begged and cajoled, clasping his hands together in a plea and batting his ridiculously long eyelashes at her until it became comical. Eventually, she gave in.

    And that's how she found herself sat in front of Lorcan with his fingers in her hair as he pulled it carefully back, working it neatly into a tidy little braid that snaked down between her shoulder blades. Apparently he used to do the same for his sisters, and Torianna felt bad for him; he was clearly missing home. Still, that didn't mean she was happy with him messing with her appearance.

    Though the silent guardsman was gentle as he threaded the strands of hair together, eventually tying it off with a thin black ribbon. Torianna patted at her head self-consciously, she wasn't accustomed to have having her hair styled. But she couldn't argue with the practicality of having it kept out of the way, and the satisfied smile on Lorcan's face was difficult to ignore.

    He jumped to his feet as he finished, pulling Torianna up after him and making to walk over to Endel and Maia. Torianna grabbed him by the arm, effectively forcing him to come to a stop. She received a confused glance in return, but sighed, nodding towards the couple who were chatting intimately.

    "Leave them be," she muttered.


    ((The back story of Lorcan's sisters and the braiding came from Laura, I just wanted a chance to incorporate it here!))

  19. Endel's optimistic attitude seemed to be somewhat strained as they began to back up their possessions beneath the shade of the cliff. Torianna could still hear the soft trundling of carriages in the distance, but tried not to pay too much heed to it. The dessert was going to be completely barren, not to mention dangerous. Maia performed one last check to ensure that they had all the supplies that they needed, and then they began walking again.

    "Keep your eyes peeled," Endel said, as they proceeded along the footpath. "Like I said, it's really flat here. It makes it easy for us to see Cheval or anyone attempting to attack us, but it also makes us incredibly easy to see. Just bear that in mind."

    Torianna nodded, gripping the handles of her rucksack in her clammy palms. She missed the horses, and quite how easy they made long journeys. She glanced over to Lorcan, and pondered for a moment hopping up on his back, but the glare that he shot her warned her away from the idea. How did he know?

    A good few hours passed as they traversed. For periods they chatted amicably, as if they intense heat or scorching sun couldn't bother them. At other times, they walked in tense, strained silence. Torianna didn't like those times. As much as she would have despised it a few months ago, she actually enjoyed these people's company.

    But still, nothing happened. The sun began to dip below the horizon, and eventually they had to call it for the night. Lorcan and Torianna set to work on constructing the large heavy duty tent, and Maia prepared the food. All the while Endel stood, his eyes on the horizon, where the Arbiters Grounds loomed over them all like a brooding guardian.

  20. Their welcome at the castle was certainly interesting. They were treated well for rescuing the princess. For dinner, they were served their meal in the dining hall - a delicious sea food dish - and then left to entertain themselves. Maia and Endel headed off together up to the chambers, discussing something intimately between themselves. Torianna watched them go, a slight smile on her face. She felt considerably more comfortable after their conversation earlier, like a weight off her shoulders. Still, Endel couldn't solve all of the world's problems, no matter how hard he tried.

    Torianna eventually managed to track down Lorcan in the castle library. He was sat at one of the sturdy wooden tables gazing intently into that crystal ball again. He barely glanced up as she approached, observing that glossy surface with an interested gleam in his eye. He still didn't notice even as she came to stand beside him. She sighed, rolling her eyes, before rapping her knuckles on the table.

    He started, glancing up at her with wide blue eyes before a smile cracked across his face. He motioned for her to take the seat opposite him and she quietly obliged, eyeing that crystal ball with interest. She wanted to see what everyone else could, she really did... but she couldn't see a thing except for a distorted image of the very same room on the other side of the glass sphere. A heavy sigh escaped her as she rested her chin in her palm.

    Lorcan frowned at her, hurriedly scribbling in his notebook that rested on the table between them. After a few moments, he held it up for her to see.

    "Still can't see anything?"

    She shook her head. "Nothing. Is there something wrong with me?"

    His curls bobbed about energetically as he shook his head, scrawling again. He took a while this time, but eventually presented the page. "Not at all. The Advisor said it might not work for everyone. If you're interested, Cheval managed to build a shelter. He's safe."

    "For now," Torianna replied. She stopped for a moment, before speaking again. "I don't really know much about him. Only knew him for a couple of days. What's he like?"

    Lorcan's eyebrows shot up, and he blew out his cheeks. The sight made Torianna smile a little. Clearly, the silent guard didn't have a great relationship with his boss.

  21. ((Ahh I'm so jealous! I have no money right now so I have to wait until my birthday! *sigh* But seriously, I hope you enjoy it! :D ))


    Torianna crossed her arms, giving Endel her worst frown; but it did nothing to sway the boy. She sighed. "I'm an incredibly problematic person, Endel. If you're going to get yourself all wound up every time that I have a problem then you're never going to have a moment of peace."

    "Oh would you stop it!" Endel finally snapped. "I get that you had to fight to get attention from you father and that you had to prove yourself to get any recognition from that patriarchal network but... goddess! Torianna, not everybody in the world is out to hurt you! I don't ask you these things because I want to exploit all your deepest darkest secrets, I ask you these things because I actually want to help - WE want to help. We're on your side Torianna... why won't you just trust us?!"

    Endel's words were enough to stop Torianna in her tracks. She blinked, suddenly feeling so very foolish. Endel's expression softened considerably as he watched her unfold her arms and step back the tiniest amount, playing with her fingertips. These people had never given her a reason not to trust them. More importantly, they'd given her plenty of reasons to consider them trustworthy.

    "I don't like old men," she mumbled. "I don't trust them."

    Endel hesitated. "...because of your dad?"

    She shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe I've just never met a reliable one. Only con-artists and perverts... There aren't exactly an abundance of trustworthy old men in the network. Besides... I don't like the fact that your 'Advisor' covers his face. No one takes the trouble to conceal their identity unless they have something to hide."

    "Right..." Endel nodded, clearly pondering. She finally summoned up the courage to meet his gaze, and he gave her the smallest of smiles. "Thanks for telling me."

  22. The others were gazing at the crystal ball in what appeared to be wonderment. It caught the dim light in a captivating way, but Torianna had to admit that she wasn't all that impressed by the offering.

    "That's it?" Torianna asked, raising an eyebrow. Endel whirled around to look at her, shocked that she would question the decision of The Advisor. She didn't let it distract her. "We travel all the way back here just to see you, and all you do is give us a ball of glass and tell us to give that a try?"

    The gentleman blinked, but didn't appear to swayed by Torianna's outburst. "It would be unwise for you to underestimate the utility of this tool, my dear girl. The hands of fate work in mysterious ways."

    So now Torianna knew where Endel got his faith reinstated. She turned her attention away from The Advisor, choosing instead to focus on her comrades. Maia was bent over, studying the crystal ball with a sparkle in her steely grey eyes. Even Lorcan watched it carefully, his lips parted slightly in awe. Torianna sighed, summoning all the politeness she could muster.

    "If that's all you have to offer us, sir, then we shan't waste any more of your time."

  23. Torianna wasn't exactly instilled with reassurance by what Endel had told the group of the advisor. An elderly figure who lurked to protect the graves of the deceased royal family? He sounded like a creep, and an obsessed and crazed one at that! Still, Endel swore by this man, and Torianna knew the boy had good judgement...

    He led them away from the main courtyard to a smaller side path just to the eastern side of Hyrule castle. He busied himself, probing about the floor, apparently searching for something, whilst the others exchanged weary glances. Within a few minutes, Endel revealed what appeared to be a square of metal, perhaps a trap door...

    "This is it," he said, grinning. Torianna studied his facial expression, the excitement as he glanced between his comrades. It was clear he was keen to share what he'd found. Moments later, he pulled the trapdoor away with ease, revealing an inky black drop beneath the ground. Torianna frowned, glancing over the edge.

    "That doesn't look particularly encouraging..." Maia said carefully.

    Endel knelt down by the edge of the hole. "I know..." he muttered. "But it's not far to drop - I swear! Then there's this stupendously long set of stairs... look, I'll show you!" Before anyone could protest, Endel gripped the edge of the hole and swung himself down into the blackness below. Maia gasped, but it dissipated into a nervous laugh as Endel landed safely on the ground.

    Torianna grinned. Pitch black secret tunnels? This was more up her street!

  24. Torianna stood with crossed arms, her back pressed against the outer wall of a small shop that sold preserves in glass jars. She watched a pair of young teenage boys scrapping in the shadow of an old play park as she pondered Endel's parting words.

    "I want all of you to watch your backs like you're afraid of your own shadow."

    It was a curious expression if Torianna ever heard one, and it hit a little too close to home for her liking. Fear of one's own shadow was something Torianna knew like the back of her hand. Sometimes, when it was particularly still at night she could still remember how it felt when her childish imagination invented shadow dwelling monsters, waiting to feast the moment she closed her eyes. Idiotic over-active childhood imagination. Now, she knew better. She supposed she should thank her father for that much, at least.

    With Endel's words in mind, Torianna glanced back over her shoulder. A couple of wealthy citizens were just making their way out of the shop, carrying a straw bag filled with jarred preserves. The temptation was too much as they passed her by. She slipped her fingers into one of the pockets and withdrew a glimmering coin. It was a petty steal, but she'd been craving that simple rush for a long time. It made her feel a little more human as she tossed the bright coin off her thumb.

    Many things had changed about Torianna since the day Lorcan had caught her red-handed in the weapons store. She'd learned a few lessons in morality from Endel, Maia had changed the way she viewed weakness, and Lorcan had brought out her sentimental side. But something in her gut, a most primal part of her, still loved thieving, even just for the rush of it.

    And that was something that she knew she could never change. It was hard wired into her psychosis.

  25. Lorcan, who was keen to exercise his injured arms, took the reigns with Endel while the girls made for the carriage. They set off at a quick pace, trundling contentedly along the paths back to Castle Town. This was the first time they'd returned to Castle Town since the collapse of the Scoundrel's base and the kidnapping of the princess. Maia seemed keen to see how her home was.

    "Aren't you even a little curious?" she asked Torianna.

    The thief shrugged. "I guess. There's just too much temptation there."

    Maia frowned. "How do you mean?"

    "I mean..." Torianna faltered. She wasn't exactly sure how to phrase it. "There's too many people I used to know, too many buildings that I've robbed, too many purses that I've pinched. Heck, I don't think there's a street in that city that I haven't sneaked through. It's just full of ghosts, y'know?"

    Maia seemed to understand, giving the thief a slow and careful nod. "I guess that makes sense..." she watched her for a few moments more, her grey eyes narrowed in suspicion.

    Torianna sighed. "You're pondering something. Come on, spit it out!"

    Maia hesitated a few moments more, before finally swallowing her nerves and resting her delicate elbows on her knees. "What's going on with you and Lorcan?"

    The question caught Torianna by surprise. She hadn't been expecting something so loaded. She pressed her hands together, letting them rest between her knees as she summoned the only words that seemed to make sense.

    "You know how I am..."

    Maia shook her head slowly in response. "Two weeks ago... yes. But I'm not so sure any more."