< Write Your Name Across My Heart | Sol Invictus Logs | The Nightshade Revealed >

Zahara{} wakes from a hazy dream of fire and pain with a sudden start, sitting straight up in bed, and looking around herself with wild eyes. It takes but a few seconds to realize that the darkness is not complete, nor lit by Orem. Another moment to recall that the bindings around her limbs and body are bandages. A third to remember the despair she had never succumbed to while captive, not until the moment she was 'saved.'

pigeon "Ah."

Thirteen is slumped in a chair near her bed, wearily flipping through a book, spear on the ground, providing another unexpected shock for Zee as she awakes.

Zahara{} looks to the sound, and sighs softly, then slides back down. "I'm sorry to startle you." she murmurs. "What are you doing here?"

Thirteen "Waiting for you to awake."

Thirteen waves a hand vaguely in the air, and the bandages shift and pull themselves away from Zahara, leaving her clean and healed, except for the gross physical damage deliberately inflicted by her torturers.

Thirteen "Please, remain still. I must repair your more drastic injuries."

Zahara{} "Ah." she turns to look at him again. "So, what will you do now? Berate me about my shirked responsibilities?" she looks down at herself, the scars that mar her once-smooth skin, and is glad for the lack of a mirror. Suddenly, she comes to a decision. "Leave them."

Thirteen dips his head. "I do not berate, nor condemn you. You have rested for a day, and a day is all we can spare. If you cannot rise, then I will go on without you."

Thirteen "Leave them?"

Zahara{} pushes herself up again, and turns so her legs hang over the edge of the bed. She remembers that Thirteen has no eyes, and lets the sheets fall away as she walks a bit stiffly across the room to find some clothes. As she walks, her muscles begin to loosen a bit. The pain is gone. "Leave them. I have decided to take your advice, and be strong." She slips a clean dress over her head and looks back at him as she picks up her brush

Zahara{} runs it through the snarls of her hair, before asking, "Will you come with me? I will need some Orichalcum, and my workshop. And, I will need Serenal's help."

Thirteen idly rolls up the bandages and eats them. "If that is what you desire, Zahara. I merely wish to restore your capabilities in full measure."

Thirteen "Assuredly."

Thirteen stands, then bends painfully to pick up his spear, and leans on it,

Thirteen .

Zahara{} "Are you injured?"

Thirteen "No. Just tired."

Thirteen "Shall we?"

Zahara{} leads the way, first, to the storeroom, sending a message to ask Serenal to meet her in her workshop. "You should not put my health above yours." she comments as they walk.

Thirteen waves his hand irritably. "I am all right. It is just that there is so much to do."

Zahara{} steps into the storeroom. "There always is. I haven't had a moment's peace for months."

Zahara{} inhales sharply at the emptiness of her storeroom. "I see." another breath, measured this time. "Where did all my Orichalcum go?"

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "That is unfortunate."

Zahara{} rakes her eyes across the room, cataloguing what is missing. "Well then. A trip to the Wyld is in order, somewhat sooner than I had expected." She turns sharply on her heel and heads to the workroom.

Thirteen follows, musing. "It seems unlikely that the Lily's soldiers would bother to seize our materials, and more so that they would succeed."

Thirteen "Most likely the orichalcum was taken by somebody with access to it -- someone allowed in the manse."

Zahara{} "Unless you have suddenly discovered a way to track the untraceable," she pauses as a pang crosses her heart, "it will have to wait."

Thirteen "Indeed."

Zahara{} "We will simply have to assume that nothing is sacred, nor safe where we left it. And deal with it when it happens."

Thirteen "A prospect not unfamiliar to us."

Zahara{} reaches the workshop, and begins to gather an array of sharp items of various widths and depths. "Serenal, thank you for coming." she looks up.

Tepet Ejava Serenal, clad as always in the brilliant red and gold uniform of the Radiant Sabres, nods at Zahara, speaking unusually calmly. "It is my honor to assist you, Zahara." Perhaps the responsibility of the role was actually beginning to temper her fiery tongue?

Zahara{} smiles a little. "I understand you have assisted with tattooing before." she walks towards the gate, almost running into a wall before she reasserts her connection with the manse and it flows away before her. "I would ask you to accompany me to the Wyld. We seem to be out of Orichalcum."

Tepet Ejava nods. "Do you require any additional forces?"

Tepet Ejava Her voice is confident, but strained -- the mantle of responsibility still sits newly heavy upon her shoulders.

Zahara{} "Perhaps a fang of your troops." she emphasises the 'your' slightly, the blessing and curse of leadership is one she knows well.

Tepet Ejava Serenal nods again. "We will meet you by the gate in ten minutes." She turns and walks away.

Zahara{} "You may want to add an iron brace to your spear for the duration, Thirteen. In case of faeries." she makes preparations for their trip, such that in precisely ten minutes they will arrive at the gate.

Thirteen nods and coughs one up, holding it in his hand but not yet attaching it.

Zahara{} leads the way through the gate with no further ado, and, after casting small protections upon her compatriots but not herself, steps into the chaos beyond.

Tepet Ejava The wyld bubbles and roils throughout the very fabric of the world as Zahara steps out into it; even the gate that she stepped through seems barely able to retain form here. The earth drips upwards into the sky where it rains down again as fire from the inverse air-world that hangs above, while leaves dance and sing songs while eyes and small cakes drip out of them and scatter on the winds.

Thirteen idly eats cakes as he keeps an ear cocked for trouble.

Zahara{} leads the way a short distance from the minor stability of the ring itself, keeping the others close, until she finds a suitable spot on the Deep Wyld. "Please, set up a perimeter around me, and do not allow anything to interrupt my work. And trust that I know what I am doing." she smiles slightly, directing the comment at Thirteen.

Thirteen grimaces slightly.

Zahara{} waits until everyone is in position before she concentrates. Each aspect of her body, she knows intimately. Starting with each toe, and moving up slowly, she solidifies what each aspect of herself is in her mind, allowing this knowledge to radiate from her. She counts each scar as well, adding them to the litany of self. Only one thing is missing.

Tepet Ejava In Zahara's chosen spot, a group of pretty, crystalline flowers in sixteen distinct colors bloom, each of which drips droplets of blood from their petals... and as each droplet lands, it blossoms into a creature like a baby with no head, and six eyes and mouths distributed across its chest and arms, each of which immediately marches off into the distance...

Zahara{} deliberately does not recall the shattered ruin that is her face, nor the one that was before. She allows - encourages - it to begin to lose its form, features becoming slowly blurred and indistinct.

Tepet Ejava Serenal smiles as Zahara's features grow indistinct, blurred... it is something that is near to her own experience....

Zahara{} stays perfectly stil until the key moment when she can feel part of herself becoming...other... before bringing her Essence to bear upon herself. She does not reimagine her face as it was, no. Rather, a perfected version of self. More radiant. More commanding. Yet still, scarred, but in an arresting manner.

Zahara{} opens her eyes to see Serenal, and smiles back. Then begins to cast her Essence into the chaos itself. The golden light touches the oddities surrounding her, dissolving them into purity before beginning to draw form back upon them. The Wyld trembles around her.

Thirteen shifts from foot to foot, listening, but unable to really discern what's happening, and not all that happy about it.

Zahara{} spins the metal slowly out of pure chaos into a bowl at her feet. It pours between her fingers in a molten stream, leaving behind a haze of heat. Her full concentration remains on the process before her. Chaos to the most pure form of gold. Formlessness to liquid. To heat. To resonate with her soul.

Zahara{} finally comes to the end of her Shaping. Above her, the golden feathers of the swan that rises up seem not quite right, not as strong nor unsullied as they once wer. As it fades to a simple bonfire of gold, she retrieves the knives she had brought. "Serenal, if you would assist me." she offers the Lunar a tool that looks rather like a ladle with a small spout on one side, a slightly larger one on the other.

Zahara{} selects a medium blade, steps out of her dress and moves it aside. Then without hesitation, she brings the edge down on her skin. The pain hits her, but she is prepared for it. The flashbacks consume her, and she is not. She lifts the blade, quickly, her breath coming in short gasps. Only a small blossom of red adorns her shoulder, but it does not flow unchecked.

Thirteen hisses.

Zahara{} steels herself, and flicks the drop of blood off the knife. Then she returns it to the line of the scar, whispering, "Your sacrifice will not be in vain. I will come for you." The knife parts her flesh once more and she focuses on her hand. She guides the knife. She is in control. This pain is her pain. Given freely, not taken. She is in control now, and will be evermore.

Relovia As Zahara cuts open the holes in her flesh, Serenal is ready. She reverentially dips the tool she has been given into the molten metal below, then reaches up and begins to pour it, with the gentlest touch, into Zahara's wounds. She smiles as she does so -- somehow, in returning the act once done to her, some of the bitterness over her own mark burns away with the heat of the molten sun-gold.

Zahara{} takes back every wound on her skin, cutting the memories away, the hiss of the Orichalcum sealing them out. The pain sharpens her will, rather than dulling her senses as it had in Halta. She completes the ritual on her body, then, runs her fingers along those on her face, although her nose is back where it belongs. She closes her eyes again, and begins.

Zahara{} waits until the scars are filled completely before she begins again, this time with a razor-thin blade. She traces the paths of her essence, body and blood, intertwining them with the scars, drawing power from them in the fullness of the design. The thin line of red is intricate. The patterns are complex, and yet freeing. Some dig deeper than others, some barely break the surface. Each in its own place. Each deliberate and perfe

Zahara{} Each deliberate and perfect. The gold weaves itself even through her hair.

Relovia The gleam of Zahara's perfected designs seems to drive off the chaos that howls around the group simply by existing; it is as if Zahara's very existence has been rendered more real.

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "Are you all right, Zahara?"

Zahara{} pauses, after the last drop of orichalcum is poured. Then, she smiles to Serenal, raises her fist and brings it down, hard. Around her, in an ever-expanding ring, the Chaos shrieks as it is suddenly contained by order. "I control my own destiny." Above her the swan appears once more, and spreads its wings, falters, then rises again from a field of flame.

Zahara{} "I feel much better, thank you."

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