This story will be covering all 3 of my characters, starting with a short introduction, and going through the story of Ashe's quest to find out about her past, and her family.
PREVIOUSLY KNOWN ABOUT ASHELIA
Race: Harani Date of birth: October 13, 1993 Current age: 23
Ashelia lived her life as a farmer and a musician. At least, the last 1.5 years of her life, because she has no memories of who she was before that.
Her "sister" Enelya found her on the Mahadevi - Tigerspine Mountains border, unconscious, and took Ashe with her to her house. She took care of Ashe, for a long period of recovery. I'm saying "sister" now, because they have no idea whether they are even real sisters. Enelya grew up with foster parents, she has no clue who her real parents are and the foster parents took a vow not to tell. However she and Ashe look a lot alike, and feel a bond of family, so they started considering theirselves sisters.
Ashe always was pretty fragile, both physically and mentally, so after her full recovery they started to look into a peaceful business together. They slowly started building up the farm business they still run today, and while Ashe traveled around with a group of musicians to learn music for a while (which she learned suspiciously fast), the farm business started growing and expanding. Eventually they started building a villa with a roof terrace, to open as a bar for musicians, and whoever wishes to enjoy the music with a drink. Little Chord was born.
However, Ashe started wondering about her past. Not so much about her activities, but she would really want to know who her family was, and meet them if they are still alive. So she started digging into it for a couple of months.
There was one item, that could lead to finding out more about her past. When Enelya found her, she carried a tiara with her in her coin purse, that looked like a unique design that only a noble would have. However, Ashe is very afraid and doesn't show this item to anyone. She can't believe that she'd be a noble, because if she were, her family would have likely come looking for her already. No, she fears very much that she was a thief, who stole the tiara, and could still get into a lot of trouble if people found out she has it. Only 2 people know about the tiara: Enelya, and Xilona, who she told about it in trust.
From time to time, Ashe seems to have dreams, about leading a different life. In her dreams, she is a successful trader, living in a farmhouse in Arcum Iris, near the Sanctia Oasis, away from crowded residential areas. She dreams about herself transporting goods to Falcorth Plains, Solis Headlands, and Ynystere. She took this as a lead to follow, because maybe these dreams were memories of her old life. She went to Arcum Iris and found the exact location from her dreams, at Sanctia Oasis. However, there was a different farmhouse. She traced the trade runs she remembered from her dreams to Oxion Clan in Falcorth Plains, Halo Hollow in Solis Headlands, and to the residental area south of Caernord in Ynystere, at the road between the fortress and Requiem Cape. Once again, she was able to track the exact routes she traveled, all roads were the same. But once again, the buildings and the people she met were different from the ones in her dreams.
So what does this all mean? Maybe they are visions? Maybe it's still about her past but someone erased the trail? Or maybe someone deliberately erased her memory? Would that even be possible with dark magic? Probably, but she wouldn't know for sure because she knows nothing about magic other than summoning portals and vehicles. Besides, maybe this were just dreams after all...
These thoughts led eventually to her abandoning the quest to find out about her past. Besides not getting anywhere, since every vague trail she thought she found led to a dead end, she fears either being a criminal who stole the tiara, or someone important who was hunted down after a tragic event happening to her family. These fears made her conclude that it may be better if the past remains forgotten. She has a happy life now, with Xilona, and wants to focus on a happy present and future together rather than a past that could be tragic, dangerous, or worse.
And so, Ashe just lives her life every day, doing her farm business and deliveries with her sister, going out with Xilona, and running the music bar Little Chord.
Race: Harani Date of birth: February 1, 1996 Current age: 20
Enelya lived with her foster parents in Tigerspine Mountains. She is unaware who her real family was, and her foster parents took a vow of silence.
At age 16, she wanted to learn basic combat skills, and became an assassin's apprentice for a while. Although she never became a real assassin (nor did she intend to), she did pick up a few useful skills during her training, like hiding in the shadows. She walks around carrying a Nodachi that looks in mint condition, as if it was never used. The blade itself is imbued with lightning magic. (not exactly an assassin's choice of weapon...)
About a year later, she moved to a cottage in Mahadevi, north of the City of Towers, where she did some small farm and husbandry business that she learned from her foster parents. Until 2 years later, when she returned from visiting her foster parents, and found Ashelia unconscious at the Tigerspine Mountains - Mahadevi border. She took Ashe to her home and took care of her, wondering if a girl who looks so much like herself could be family.
Most after this is covered in Ashe's part.
After Little Chord and the farm business were built, she kept living on the land in a cottage across Ashe's villa, until recently moving to a farmhouse south of the City of Towers, to expand the farm business there.
Enelya always appears very anti-social to strangers, and stays away from social gatherings with the exception of Little Chord, to help out her sister realizing her dream. Despite being anti-social, she is very close to Ashelia, and will do whatever it takes to protect her. Since Ashe fell in love with Xilona, Enelya is slowly starting to accept her in the "family" too.
PREVIOUSLY KNOWN ABOUT LENIYA
Race: Nuian Date of birth: January 12, 1995 Current age: 21
Leniya is a girl who only recently started appearing in the area and in taverns and pubs. She has not revealed anything about her past yet, because she doesn't feel like it's anyone's business. She never knew her mother, and grew up with her father, who was a strong soldier in the Nuian army.
Leniya has always been a free spirit, who settles in areas for short periods, until she gets bored of things and people and moves on to another place. Right now she lives in an "apartment", renting the 2 top floors of a Storage Silo next to Xilona's house in Lilyut Hills, very close to Stone Springs. And even though she hasn't been living there for long yet, she's already looking into moving to a Bungalow on the water in the southern Solzreed Peninsula area.
She isn't overly social, however she won't turn away people if they try and talk to her. In taverns she usually finds herself a spot alone, with a whiskey, and starts observing people closely, having a laugh at their behavior, or even making fun of them. Due to her naturally soft voice, she can be hard to understand in crowded environments.
She has seen Ashelia in taverns, but the two don't know each other.
One day, not very long ago, Ashelia visited the Iron Coin Pub with Xilona and Necroma. She had been thinking about closing the chapter of her past for some time, since like previously said, she is happy now and wants to focus on the present and the future, rather than being stuck looking into a hidden past, that could end up being either misery, or danger to herself and everyone close to her.
But one item kept reminding her of the past. The tiara, that she kept carrying around in her coinpurse, hidden for everyone to see. As long as she had that, she would be reminded of her past, and possibly in danger if circumstances resulted in anyone seeing it.
So when the girls went outside for some fresh air, Ashe moves to the back of the pub, on top of the cliff, while Xilona helps Necroma, who had a few too many to drink, to a seat. Ashe stays away for a bit, but suddenly the sound of a small item hitting the water could be heard in a distance. Xilona knows exactly what happened, and rushes to Ashe, saying "Was that...?" Ashe nods, and says "It was. I've given this a lot of thought, and I'm closing this chapter right here, right now."
Xilona, who has still faith that the tiara could be the key to finding out Ashe's family, doesn't think for a second and slips out of her dress, and dives off the cliff. Unfortunately, the tiara couldn't be found. Disappointed in Xilona for trying to get it back, Ashe begs her to let it go, and look at their future together with a smile.
THE DAY AFTER
Xilona decides she can't just let it go. Even if Ashe doesn't want to know what her past life was, Xil knows how much she would love to find out who her family is, or was. So unknown to Ashe, Xilona returns to the place where Ashe tossed the tiara into the ocean, and starts looking for it, this time in proper diving gear. She eventually finds the tiara, and decides to keep it safe, not letting Ashe know until the time is right.
She also starts looking into figuring out what the markers could mean that are on the inside of the tiara. They seem a strange unknown language, and so far she has no clue how to find out. Could it be related to a race of people that's currently unknown on our continents? Or could it be magical symbols?
This revelation, as well as every followup after this, will be , since the chances of anyone else finding out about this IC are slim.
All images can be enlarged by clicking them.
Recently, Xilona found out that Enelya knows more about her sister Ashelia's past than she was willing to tell. Eventually, Xilona earned Enelya's trust enough to make her invite her to her farmhouse, and tell the full story of her own life, that also involves a big part of Ashe's past. This is the story that Enelya told that evening:
"I never knew my real parents. I grew up with my foster parents on a farm in Tigerspine Mountains, near the town of Tigerseye. My foster parents had sworn secrecy about where I came from, and who my real parents were. Being someone who understands the importance of keeping a vow, I have accepted that. It is still a possibility that Ashe's and my own real parents are the same, but that's a part of our history I haven't managed to figure out just yet.
I will refer to the foster parents as "parents" from here on to make it somewhat easier, and after all, that's what they've always been to me.
My parents were farmers. Financially it wasn't a good time, but my dad had a job on the side as a liquor smuggler, and he was quite good at it. That brought in enough gold for him to take good care of the family. I also had a brother, my foster parents' real son. His name was Alistair, he was 4 years older, and to me he was the only brother I ever had. Being the older brother, he took it very serious to protect the family.
8 years ago, when I was 12 and Alistair was 16, something terrible happened. While dad was away on his business, mom and I came home from an errand, finding a group of thugs on the farm. One of them was holding Alistair hostage, while the others took the place apart looking for gold. They knew about dad's business so they figured there'd be a good coin to fetch. Mom wasn't scared or intimidated easily, so their threats weren't getting them anywhere. But she was no fighter, and not physically strong, so eventually one of the thugs grabbed her, held a sword to her throat, and told Alistair to bring out the gold or she'd die. Alistair was still young, and lacked combat training. But despite that, his sense of duty to protect the family got the better of him. He grabbed a sword that was hidden on the farm, and stormed at one of the robbers.
These guys were just poor and desperate, and never intended more than bluffing and threatening. They were no killers. But Alistair was careless, and threw himself at one of them... on his dagger. He fell right in front of me, looking into my eyes without a word, and I remember the fear I saw in his eyes before he went down. The thugs appeared to be shocked as well about actually killing a young boy. They ran off, while mom collapsed with grief on the ground, and I sat on my knees crying with Alistair's body in my arms.
After Alistair died, I felt like it was my responsibility now to protect the family. I was still too young, and inexperienced, and dad was strong enough to take care of it for now. But I wanted to prepare, so one day I would be able to defend them if ever needed. So each day, after the farm work was done, I started doing some simple combat training, smacking the scarecrows on our lands with a wooden sword. Ofcourse I wasn't improving much without the aid of a proper teacher. But my parents didn't allow it. I was their little girl, and their only child left. They feared losing me the same way they lost Alistair.
But I feared losing them just as much. So I kept practicing on my own in secret, and when I was 16, I decided to go out in the world looking for the best assassin I could find, and beg him to take me as an apprentice. So why an assassin you may think? Simply because I always was more fast and agile than strong, and I liked the combat style. However assassins aren't easy to find, unless they want to be found. And if that's the case, they have usually found you first, and you walk right into a trap.
I started following a trail of stories about an assassin that nobody had ever seen before. It could have been ghost stories, but if not, this could be the man or woman I was looking for. The trail led me to Arcum Iris, to the town of Hatora. But I was a bit careless, asking everyone about this assassin. So it didn't take long before the assassin found out someone was tracking her. So she created a trail for me to follow to an abandoned area outside Hatora.
Normally at this point, someone would be dead in an instant, or if the assassin would lose the upper hand, he'd retreat and never be seen. But not this one. She was a woman, and apparently surprised about a young girl trying so hard to find her, and curious about her motives. So when I reached the end of the trail, a voice from the shadows spoke to me: "Why are you trying so hard to find me?"
I showed my respect and dropped on my knees, keeping my eyes to the ground so I wouldn't accidentally see the woman's face. And I told the whole story about what happened to my family 3.5 years earlier. She didn't accept me as an apprentice right away, she found me too young and innocent for such a dedication. But my story had moved her, and she agreed to reveal herself and take me in to see my potential, if I fully understood there'd be no way back after that. I agreed, and the woman stepped from the shadows, removing her cloak. She told me to rise and look into her eyes. So I did, and while looking into her eyes, I repeated my vow to her. That assassin...... was Ashelia.
Ashe took me home with her. She lived in a simple farmhouse, away from residential areas, close to Sanctia Oasis. Sounds familiar? It should, because it was the exact house she's been seeing in her dreams.
I got to know Ashe better. Despite being an assassin, Ashe seemed quite open to me, as long as it wouldn't break one important rule she kept repeating. That rule was to keep personal lives, families and friends strictly seperated from business. For obvious reasons ofcourse. For that reason, Ashe never told me about her roots or family, so I do not know where she comes from either. And I never told Ashe about my own family, besides the story of how my brother died. Soon we started training basic combat skill, and it didn't take long before she accepted me as her apprentice.
Ashe had 2 sides about her. One side was a merciless assassin who killed her targets so fast they couldn't even beg for their lives. Only the gods know what went on in her head when hunting people, and though she kept saying it was just business, I can't help thinking there must have been other motives that made her like that. And yet, I tend to believe she killed them fast because she would break emotionally if she gave them a chance to beg for their lives. The other side pretty much was the Ashe we see around today. On the farm, she was innocent and nice. As ruthless as she was killing targets for whoever paid her to do it, her love for animals and her passion for music felt too real to be just a cover.
After intensive training sessions, we always sat down, had a drink, and Ashe played songs for me. But during missions, even I was scared of her.
I stayed and trained intensively with her for 3 years. Apparently I was a quick learner, because she told me I'd be ready to become a full-fledged assassin soon. She had been taking me on real missions for some time already, though I must admit I never wanted a part in that. All I wanted was the skill to protect the ones I love, not kill people just because someone paid good coin for it. But I kept thinking about Alistair's death, and held myself strong to finish the training.
One day, a new client came to see us. He was a liquor smuggler, and a very corrupt one at that. I didn't like this guy one bit, but Ashe told me to settle down, because his coin would be as good as anyone's. So I did, but I had a bad feeling about doing business with him.
He told us he wanted some competition out of his way. As always, Ashe accepted the job, no questions asked. But I was shocked... because the competition he wanted killed... was my father. I mentioned before how he was a liquor smuggler to support the family. Apparently he was too good at it, and this guy wanted more gold in his own pockets. And he wouldn't stop at anything to get it.
Ashe didn't know the target was my father, and I was in a huge dilemma. Telling her would break the rule she valued so highly, but in this case, not telling would be worse. But I didn't know how to tell her, I needed time to get it all figured out.
Sadly there was no time. Ashe wanted to leave for the job immediately, because the client gave her directions where dad could be found in the next hour. So we left, together. I couldn't believe someone wanted my father dead, but I decided to wait it out for now. Maybe it wouldn't be him after all, but someone else running liquor on the same route. I couldn't betray Ashe after what she had done for me, without being sure it was the right choice.
As we approached the town of Anvilton, I knew. This was his business area, and when we found ourselves a good spot to see the inn, I recognized dad's farm wagon.
I told Ashe I wanted to take this target myself, as a test if I'm ready. But ofcourse I just wanted to delay her from rushing in and finishing the job. I was relieved to see Ashe waiting, so I had time to think. But what now? I was torn inside. I took this training to protect him! And I couldn't just attack Ashe, she was too strong and skilled. I wasn't getting anywhere.
I saw my dad appearing, unloading the last of the booze and getting back on the farm wagon. He left town on the north side, and took the shortcut through the Ironclaw Mine back home, closely followed by Ashe and me. On the abandoned road between the mountains just before Tigerseye, Ashe suddenly poked me and whispered "Now...!" I slowly looked at Ashe, and I saw her eyes starting to burn with fire, as always before storming her targets. I took a step back, and all I could say was "Not yet..."
Ashe looked at me for a second, then turned her back to me and prepared to rush at it herself. She turned her back to me... because she trusted me. And I took advantage of that trust."
Enelya stood up and showed her Nodachi, its blade sparkling with lightning magic. At the base of the blade, strange markings can be seen, similar to those on Ashe's tiara, but not identical.
"See this? This ain't exactly an assassin's weapon, wouldn't you think? It's a family heirloom. Not from my foster parents, but from my real ones. It is the only thing my foster parents were allowed to give me when I was 16, with the knowledge that it belonged to my real family. I never used this for assassinations ofcourse, but I carried it with me all the time because of its sentimental value.
When Ashe turned her back to me in trust, she was vulnerable. I couldn't think clearly anymore, but I knew I had to act, and fast. So without hesitation, I grabbed this big baby, and slammed her on the head with the flat of the blade. It's been the only time I ever used this. I don't know if it was my uncontrolled strength driven by emotion, or the lightning magic from the blade getting to her brains, but that hit was what caused her memory loss.
The moment I hit her, she was out cold, and I dumped her offroad on the Tigerspine Mountains - Mahadevi border, blinded by rage and grief.
The next day, when I came to my senses, I went back to pick her up. She was still unconscious. I rented a cottage from a cattle farmer north of the City of Towers, and took her there to take care of her. It was the start of a recovery that took about half a year. Her memories were gone, her fighting spirit too. And during the long recovery, she lost most of her strength as well. She never trained combat again, so it's true that right now, she can't really fight. I keep her away from it to prevent memories of this returning, and trained harder myself to be able to protect her, as well as my own family, who still live in Tigerspine Mountains.
No matter what, I have been trying to guard her from finding out her own past and let her live a good life, without killing people. If she ever finds out, there'd be a huge risk of her returning to her old life for whatever reasons she had to do that in the first place. And that risk involves us all. She could pick up where she left and finish her last target, my dad. She could come after me for betraying her. And she could come after you (( Xilona )) for knowing her true identity. So I helped her rebuild a life, as her soft side that she always had would. I taught her farming, which I know from my family, and we started a farm business together. I encouraged her to pick up music again, which she did and seems to make her happy. We took in animals again, which she loves. Also I took steps to prevent her from finding out this part of her past. I made sure every lead she could follow would have a dead end. Most business contacts she sees in her dreams just moved on, like people always do. And I had her house in Arcum Iris demolished and found good owners for the animals, that's why she couldn't find it. I only kept a few items that were close to her."
Enelya stands up and starts prying at one of the boards of the floor of her newly built farmhouse, until the board pops open. She takes out a long chest, and carefully unlocks and opens it. Inside are 2 katanas, with a magic glow on the blades, as well as the tiara that Xilona thinks she still has after diving it up from the ocean, after Ashe tossed it in.
"These katana blades were her personal weapons. And this tiara, you have seen it before I believe. I knew she'd get tired of being confronted with a hidden past some day, possibly considering to toss it away. So I had a replica crafted, and that's the one she tossed away. This is the real one. I kept it safe because she valued it highly, and it could very well be related to her family... Or maybe... to our family."
She turns the tiara so it shows the strange markings inside, that are similar but not identical to the ones on her nodachi. She puts the katanas and the tiara back in the chest, locks it carefully, and lowers the chest in the compartment in the floor again. As she pushes the board down that covers the hole, it can be clearly heard snapping into place, as if it can only be opened by some hidden mechanism.
"We should keep this from her at all costs. This is one part of her past that better remains forgotten, or we may end up with a mad woman on a killing spree. This is exactly the sort of past Ashe fears to find out. The part she does want to find out is her roots and her family, and I will keep looking into that. If they're out there, I will find them some day. Maybe that will give some clarification on how she became an assassin in the first place. And if they're good people, I will reunite them.
I know she may have moments that she still wonders. But curiosity killed the Firran, so unless you keep this from her as you promised, you and I are gonna have a problem."
(( I added colors for spoken text because to me, it seems easier to read than a plain text wall. If you all don't agree, let me know and I'll remove the colors. ))
THE TIARA (PART 2)
One day, Ashelia was with Xilona at her place in Lilyut Hills. Even though she had closed the chapter of her past and tossed the tiara into the ocean, she couldn't help still wondering if she did the right thing. (( Xil diving up the replica, and Enelya keeping the original safe, were still unknown to her )) As much as she feared finding out about a bad or a sad past, she remained curious about her roots and family. While standing outside, she asked herself out loud: "Did I make the right choice tossing away the tiara...?" Before Xilona could answer, Enelya suddenly appeared, holding up the original. "You mean this tiara?" Enelya walked up to Ashe, and smacked the tiara playfully on Ashe's head. "No need to fear this anymore, sis. It is a family heirloom, from your real family."
While Ashe started thinking about this development, she didn't notice Xil poking Enelya, whispering: "We should really tell her what we know about her past." Enelya ignored her at first, until Xil continued: "I'm gonna tell her, she deserves to know." Enelya stepped between Xil and Ashe, asking her sister: "I seem to have lost my teleport book, it's probably still inside. Could you have a look, sis?" Ashe moved inside the house, and Enelya turned her attention to Xilona, slightly agitated. "Now listen. I worked for nearly two years to make sure she wouldn't find out, and I won't give up now. Remember the promise I had you make before telling? I clearly said if you can't keep it, we should stop there. And you made the promise. If you take the value of a promise this lightly, I'm afraid I cannot trust you anymore." Xilona sighed, and said: "I don't like keeping this from her. I didn't say I wouldn't keep the promise, but I don't like it." Enelya continued, still agitated: "Ofcourse you don't like it. Neither do I. I used to be more social when I was young, but times have changed. I'll protect Ashe, no matter what, even if it means going up against you. You may be confident in your combat skills, but think for a moment what that'll do to Ashe. Remember how broken she was standing between you and Necroma? What do you think will happen when her sister and her lover turn against each other?" Xilona remained silent for a moment, then said: "No one said you can't still be social, you are kinda nice ya know." Enelya shook her head. "I stopped being nice a long time ago. And I stopped being social for a reason. You figured out pretty easily I was hiding something, because I let you get too close. If I let others too close, they might figure it out too. Can't let that happen for the sake of Ashe's protection, as well as ours, and everyone close to us." Xilona responded: "Maybe one day you can."
Ashelia suddenly appeared in the door opening. "Sis, I can't find it anywhere!" Enelya looked up and answered: "Hmm... Did you check by the fireplace?" Ashelia shook her head slowly before moving back inside. "I'll have another look." She moved back inside and the sound of messing through some stuff can be heard, while she looks for Enelya's teleport book that's obviously not there.
Enelya turned back to Xilona. "Maybe one day I can. But not today. And I'll be keeping my eyes on you two. I heard you were pushing Ashe into taking some combat training the other day. I wasn't happy hearing that." Xilona answered: "She should take some training, so she can at least defend herself." Enelya shook her head again. "That'll make her all the more dangerous if she ever finds out and picks up her old life. Don't forget, we still don't know what made her an assassin in the first place. Besides, don't you remember that she abandoned this quest for her past because she feared it? All she cares about is finding her family, and I will keep looking into that. Have a bit of faith in me too." Xilona answered: "I do have faith in you. The markings on her tiara and your sword, I want to study them and see if I can figure them out, is that okay?"
Ashelia appeared again, shaking her head. "I still can't find it, sis." Enelya took out her teleport book from her cloak in a clumsy way, answering: "Oh, silly me. Here it is. Sorry to make you look for it." She turned back to Xil and answered her earlier question: "You may study the markings whenever you're with us, but I'm not gonna leave the sword with you." She turned to Ashe and continued: "And I ask you to keep the tiara with you as well." Xilona nodded. "That's fine. Not studying it tonight anyway." Enelya nodded back. "It's just possibly very valuable. Maybe not in gold, but just sentimentally. Keep the replica if you wish though. I'll be going now." She moved away from Xil and Ashe, to open a portal and go through.
Xil turned to Ashe, asking: "You okay?" Ashe smiled at Xil, answering: "Yes sweety. I hope she finds something soon. I may have closed the chapter on my past, but if there's a chance of finding my family, that would be nice."
Still wearing the comfortable tiara, Ashe was unaware that the sun coming over the house reflected on it, towards a small window on the upper floor of the nearby storage silo. Behind that window, Leniya's attention was drawn by the reflected sunlight shining into her usually dark apartment. As she looked out the window towards the source of the light, she froze up, her eyes opening wide, and she whispered to herself: "That tiara...! Could it be...?"
A few days later, when Leniya descends from her apartment in the storage silo to pick up her mail, she is approached by Casius Van, the owner of the silo. He informs how she is doing, and if everything is okay in her apartment.
After a little chitchat, Leniya eventually asks softly: "Can I ask you something...? Just between you and me." Casius answers: "Certainly." Leniya looks at him and asks: "Do you know anything about that Harani girl who hangs around here often? Who she is, and more importantly, where she comes from?" Casius glances over to Xilona's smithy, and grunts: "I assume you mean Ashelia and not her sister Enelya. Personally no, I only know her by Xilona. Musician, hails from the Mahadevi." Leniya looks to the side in thoughts, whispering: "Ashelia... Enelya... I should probably have a word with them soon." Casius cants his head to the side, and murmurs: "Why is that, do you have business with them?" Leniya looks at Cas again and answers: "You could say that. A few days ago, they were carrying an item. Judging from their reactions, they have no clue what it was. It's related to their family." She looks down, and carefully adds with a very soft voice: "I... know that item very well." Casius' gaze narrows and a frown creases his face. Trying to cast his memory back to see if he could recall the item, he remarks: "What item?" Leniya looks up again and continues, observant of Cas' attempt to recall it: "A tiara. You won't remember it, it was the first and only time I ever saw Ashelia holding it out." Casius nods and asks: "Can I ask how you know it?" Leniya turns her eyes down again, before answering: "Because... it has to do with my own family as well." Casius frowns and crosses his arms over his chest as he muses: "That's interesting. What's a pair of Harani women doing with a Nuian crown?" Leniya looks at Cas again and continues: "Who says it's a Nuian crown? It's a Harani crown, from a noble family." Casius gestures to Leniya's obvious Nuian heritage, and speaks: "Observation." Leniya immediately answers: "I never said it's my crown..." Casius remarks: "No, you said it had to do with your family. Unless you're Ynys..." Leniya says: "I'm not Ynys. It's... a long story. And it's the kind of story that cannot be safely told to just anyone. I should have a talk with those girls soon." Casius asks: "So, what about your family? Are they still alive, or did they return to the Mother?" Leniya answers: "I never knew my mom. My dad is indeed with the Mother. He fell in battle I'm afraid. Now I'm not afraid of battle myself, but to go to war? Nah, never. All you find there is death." Casius explains: "The militia in Halcyona is conscripted when they're old enough to hold a spear. Most lads only do their term and get out. Pa did this too. My brother too, for that matter." Leniya rolls her eyes, and speaks: "My dad made it his career. When he was young, he went to fight in Haranya couple of times. Until he married. Didn't think he'd pick it up again, but he did. He and mom got... seperated... due to circumstances. Not going into that, sorry. I was all he had left. And still, when I was old enough to take care of myself, he picked up the sword again and went to the front in Auroria." Casius nods and laments: "Soldier's life isn't easy, not for anyone. I guess that's why Ygrit convinced me to muster out." Leniya looks Cas in the eyes, and with a bit of sadness in her voice, she speaks: "But my dad had me! I never knew my mom, so he was all I got too." Casius responds: "You miss him, don't you." Leniya answers: "Yeah, ofcourse. It was always him and me. And now it's just me. I do have sisters but they live quite far away. Maybe I'll meet them some day." Casius nods, and remarks: "If you know where they are, why don't you go see them? They're your kin." Leniya says: "Actually I am planning to. I only recently found a lead to where they may be living. But that's a worry for later. First I gotta move my stuff to my new bungalow that I just bought. And try to get a hold of that Harani woman." Casius shakes his head: "Can't help you there. I barely saw Xilona these past few days either." Leniya answers before returning to her home: "I'll just keep my eyes open. Have a good day."
After some days of waiting, and moving stuff to her new bungalow in Solzreed, Leniya still didn't manage to get a hold of Ashelia or Xilona. Until today, when she is suddenly startled by some noise, as Ashe and Xil return from the Feast of Shatigon's Abundance. She looks out the window as the two approach her neighbor Xil's house, but the mood doesn't seem good. There is a lot of grief and anger coming from Ashe, who apparently had a serious quarrel with Xil. Len descends from her apartment in the silo, and decides to wait it out a bit outside Xil's house, sure to intercept either of the two in case they leave again.
After some incident, involving Ashe taking one of Len's daggers, followed by Xilona stopping her and Len disarming her with a blunt arrow, things seem to calm down a bit as Ashe jumped a portal home, leaving Xil and Len behind. (( I will not go into details about this incident, since this is a story on its own, related to Ashe's love story. Short version: Ashelia is monogamous, Xilona is polygamous and wishes to also start a relationship with Alyahric, who is in love with her. ))
Len, who already made a failed attempt to tell Ashe they need to have a talk, is now approached by Xil. "How do you know her?" Len responds: "No offense, but it's Ashe I need to talk to. Thought you were closer to her, guess I was wrong. Happens." Xil answers: "Well I doubt she wants visitors right now, is it important?" Len responds: "Depends. She has no clue who her parents are, right? Guess it depends on whether she wants to know or not." Xil asks: "You know her family?" Len responds: "That's one way of putting it." Xil asks: "And of her past?" Len chuckles and speaks: "Well not much more than her birth. Suppose that's the past too." Xil speaks: "She can bitch at me later then..."
Xilona opens a portal to Ashe's house, and gestures Leniya to follow her. When they arrive, she tells Len to have a seat. She then knocks on Ashe's bedroom door before opening it and entering. The sound of soft crying can be heard from inside. As Len sits down on a couch in the living room, she mumbles: "Don't know if this really is the best time to be here."
Inside the bedroom, Xil says: "Ashelia, you need to come out here now, it's important." Ashe is on the bed, and bluntly responds: "Why are you here now...? I need some time alone." Xil answers: "Ashe, it is about... your family. I know you want to be alone but... I thought you would want to know." Ashe remains down, clearly not taking it very seriously. "You picked a hell of a time to bring that subject."
In the meantime, Len stands up in the living room and wanders outside, mumbling to herself referring to Xil: "Told ya, bad time right now."
Inside the bedroom, Xil continues: "Ashelia, this woman said she knows something of your birth." Ashe looks up and says, slightly agitated: "That crazy neighbor of yours who shot my hand? You shouldn't take her too seriously." Xil asks: "Why is that? What could it hurt to at least hear her words." Ashe sits up and shakes her head, responding: "My family is a sensitive subject. And honestly, I've been hurt enough for one day. And that girl, I've seen in taverns before. She drinks strong liquor and makes fun of people, how serious can she be?"
Ashe stands up and walks out the bedroom towards the door. Xil quickly asks: "You going somewhere?" As Ashe walks out the front door, bumping into Len who's leaning on the rail outside, she answers: "Nah not really. I think." As Ashe moves off on the land, Len grabs the hilt of her dagger, mumbling: "At least she didn't take it this time..."
Xil, who followed Ashe outside, leans against the wall near Len. Len informs with Xil how they are doing, and after some chatter about the current relationship issues between them, Xil finally asks: "So what about her family do you know? Is it good or bad news?" Len shrugs, and says: "I don't know. Depends what she knows and what she's expecting. Suppose I can tell ya a bit. You've seen that tiara of hers, after all." Xilona nods. "Yeah, so go on." Leniya asks: "Do you know the Urea family from Veroe, Hasla? It's a wealthy noble family." Xilona confirms: "Sort of, yeah. Wait, is Ashe from that family?" Leniya says: "More or less. Suppose you have never heard of Marian Urea?" Xilona shakes her head, and Len continues: "No surprise. She always was different. And some... incident... resulted in her being disowned by the family. Which is why there is no mention of her in any books." Xil asks: "Ashe's sister?" Len shakes her head and chuckles: "She was a bit older than that. She's Ashe's mother. That tiara Ashe carries, belonged to her." Xil asks: "And she was disowned...?" Len nods. "Yes. Because of a scandal. A forbidden love." Xil asks: "And Ashe was from that love?" Len nods once more. "Yes. Enelya too." Xil says: "So they are actually sisters." Len chuckles. "Yes, they are. Didn't they know?" Xil asks: "But why does Ashe have that tiara if her mother was disowned by her family?" Len speaks: "That tiara was Marian Urea's personal possession from her wealthy family. She passed it on to the eldest of her children. Enelya, the youngest, was left the sword of their faster, who was a soldier."
Xilona moves to the door and gestures Leniya to follow her inside. Because of Ashelia still being absent, Xil grabs some paper and a quill and starts scribing everything that is told. "So that forbidden love, her mom loved a soldier." Len responds: "Sort of... Not just a soldier." She sighs and continues: "I suppose I can tell you of all people. Let's say Ashe's not the first in her family who fell in love with an enemy." (( In case anyone doesn't know, Ashe (Harani) is together with Xilona (Nuian). )) Len goes on: "He was a Nuian soldier, his name was Leander. He was fighting a war in Hasla and saved Marian's life. That's how it all started."
Xil asks: "How do you know all of this?" Len answers: "Well... They had three children. Two looked mostly like their Harani mother and stayed with her when they were found out and seperated. The third looked more like the Nuian father and went with him when he fled back to Nuia." Xil responds: "You're Ashe's sister?" Len nods. "Clever girl. Sadly, because Marian was disowned by her wealthy family, she had nothing and couldn't take care of two children. She had no choice but to find them foster homes. Dad did well, he and I were always together. Until I was old enough, and he decided to pick up his old career again and went to the front in Auroria. When I was little, dad told me the stories about mom and my sisters many times, that's how I recognized the names. And the tiara ofcourse. It's not here somewhere, is it? There should be markers on it." Xil shakes her head. "The real one of the fake one?" Len smirks. "Surprise me. I can tell the difference right away. The real one's markers will glow if it were close to me." Xil says: "One is at my place, the other isn't here. So, are her parents still alive?" Len shakes her head slowly. "I'm afraid I don't know about mom, I have never known her. Dad fell in battle in Auroria, only a year ago." Xilona sighs and looks down, hearing the sad news. Then she asks: "You said the markers would glow near you? What's with that? I haven't found anything on them, it's like a dead language I'm guessing." Len chuckles, and continues: "They weren't meant to be readable. Guess they did a good job on those. They're magic markers that mean absolutely nothing on their own, however they contain a message that can be unlocked by the three of us together. When our parents married, each of them handcrafted a wedding ring for the other, with materials and techniques from their home continent. It meant a lot to them, how east and west could be together, in peace. But you understand, the harsh truth was that they couldn't be seen in public, wearing an enemy ring. Now, the priestess who married them was also a skilled mage. Marian gave her her dearest possession, the tiara. Dad gave her his personal sword. Before they spoke their wedding vows to each other, the priestess cast a spell to encrypt their words, and place them on the item of their partner. So the markers... are their wedding vows."
Len pulls out a gem that's hanging on her necklace under her clothes, and continues: "And this gem... is the key that unlocks those messages when all three items are brought together. When their marriage was found out by the Urea family, dad had to flee Haranya in a hurry, only able to take me and the gem with him. The sword and tiara remained with mom, who passed them to Ashe and Enelya."
Xilona slowly nods, as she keeps writing down everything. "We need to find Ashe, you two have a lot to talk about." Len answers: "I think Ashe needs some rest. You two didn't exactly seem on good terms earlier. And it's getting late, I could use some rest myself." Xilona gathers the papers and sets them on Ashe's bed. "I'll bring you here in the morning then, you two need to talk." Len nods. "Indeed. Just hope she feels better tomorrow." Xil shakes her head. "Just hope I don't have to slap her again." Len chuckles. "Hope I don't have to shoot her again." As Xil opens a portal back to their homes in Lilyut Hills, she says: "If there is anything you need, let me know, okay?" Len answers: "Nah I'm good. I just hope you two are gonna be alright. Though it's a tough situation if one is monogamous and the other is not."
Xilona nods, as they approach their homes. After wishing each other a good night, each retreats in her own home.
Marian Urea ---- Enelyaa Leander ---- Andersflairne
After 7 months, I'm picking up this story again and I am preparing for a two-part conclusion. Part 1: Family Part 2: Dark Past
A few changes have occurred in their lives: Little Chord moved from Mahadevi to Rokhala Mountains. Ashelia still lives in the house underneath the tavern. Her relationship with Xilona didn't work out in the end, and right now she is engaged with Necroma. Enelya still runs the farm business together with Ashe. Leniya moved out of her apartment in Lilyut Hills, and lives in Rokhala Mountains near Ashe now.
The tiara of her mother... with the magic markers on the inside. And the nodachi of her father... with similar markers on the grip. And the gem that is supposed to unlock the message of their wedding vows. Ashelia stares at the items in front of her on the table. The markers glow faintly when the gem is near, but nothing else happens. She's been pondering about it with her sisters for a while now, before concluding that the best course of action is probably to return to the Shrine to Nui on Ynys Isle, where the wedding took place. Their hope lies in the priests recognizing the markers, or possibly even remembering the wedding.
Last week, Ashe met with Mr Brandic Custos, who was fishing on the lake near Little Chord. She told him the story and he was kind enough to offer her a ride on his fishing boat, to get to the island. A mutual friend, Mulberry, also decided to come along for the trip. And at the last moment, Necroma returned home from one of her adventures and joined her fiancee as well. Enelya and Leniya couldn't make it, but seeing Ashe's impatience to hunt after more clues to find their lost mother, they handed her their family heirlooms and wished her the best of luck.
Staring at the items on the table, she hears the others meet up outside. With some effort, she swings the giant sword over her shoulder on her back, picks up the tiara and the gem, and moves towards the door.
Mulberry: "Good evening! Beautiful night for a journey." Brandic seems a touch distracted dusting off his armor, then answers: "Huh... oh, good evening!" Necroma nods and smiles at Ashe, as she comes out the door. "Kind of exciting, isn't it?" Mulberry: "I'm just happy to come along and offer any assistance I can!" Ashelia joins up with the group. "I am glad you're all coming along for this. Enelya and Leniya couldn't make it tonight, but they wish us good fortune." Brandic answers with a laugh: "Shame. Oh well, I think the four of us is plenty. Any more and the boat feels a bit crowded." Necroma looks thoughtful. "Hmm. Wouldn't have guessed they'd leave out this opportunity." Ashelia shows the group the family heirlooms. "Well, the trip was arranged on short notice, they had business to attend to. They did leave me these to take along, in case the priests on the island know how to unlock the magic message it contains." Mulberry: "Those are beautiful artifacts." Brandic: "Probably a good idea... I don't pretend to understand much about magic... but it usually works like that it seems." Mulberry: "I know magic, but this is a different kind of magic." Necroma: "Hmm. Well what are we still waiting for? Let's get going!" Mulberry agrees. "It's getting dark, we should be on our way." Brandic: "Night is the best time to move out. Less bandits and pirates I find."
Ashelia agrees, and opens a portal to a vacation home on Wellig Island, not too far from their destination.
As they walk on the beach towards a fishing boat, Ashe asks Brandic: "Is your boat ready, mr Custos?" Brandic confirms, smiling proudly. "But of course! She's not much, but she is fast!" Nec blinks slightly and mumbles: "A damn fish cutter..." Brandic flashes her a smirk and asks: "Is that going to be a problem?" Nec mumbles on: "No... not really. Just surprised."
After they climb on board, Ashe shows a map to Brandic. "This is the route to the island." Brandic takes the map and inspects it, pointing up. "So that's the place eh? Easy enough." While he climbs up the ladder to the top, Mulberry giggles and says: "I hope you're better at driving ships than I am! Need a hand with anything? Other than driving?" Brandic: "Well I could use someone on the lookout up here with me." Mulberry climbs up the ladder to man the radar. "Of course! So I'll just tell you if I notice any ships." Brandic answers, smiling: "Indeed. You spot 'm, I'll dodge 'm."
Meanwhile, Nec moves to the bow of the ship and sits down there, followed by Ashe sitting down close to her. Ashelia: "Glad you could make it, sweety." Nec nods and takes Ashe's hand, smiling. "Couldn't miss this opportunity, love."
From the bridge, Brandic shouts down: "You two ready down there?" Necroma signals a confirmation, and Ashe holds a thumb up. Brandic starts turning the boat, laughing: "Good enough for me!" Mulberry softly speaks to Brandic: "Aren't they adorable?" Brandic nods with a smile, while steering the boat away from Wellig Island.
Ashelia sighs softly, while still holding Nec's hand. "Let's hope that we can finally find something. So many dead ends before..." Necroma: "I'm sure we will. Let us have faith, it is Nui's island after all." Ashe nods. "They did get married there. I hope there's still priests around who know about them." Nec agrees, and leans in closer to Ashe to give her a hug. Ashe smiles at Nec, then turns her gaze towards the endless ocean, as they leave Feuille Sound. "You know... The sea is so beautiful. I wish it weren't so dangerous out there." Nec nods, then winks at Ashe. "Not as beautiful as you though." The two smile at each other, and lean in for a kiss.
Up top, Brandic nudges Mulberry with a smile, arcing his head at the couple below. Mulberry sighs. "I know. I miss having love. And I hope my dear friends find all they seek." Brandic looks down and away from Mulberry, shaking it off. "Yeah... same here."
After a quiet journey without significant incidents, the boat approaches Ynys Isle. Brandic carefully maneuvers the boat to the side of the pier and docks it, allowing the passengers to get ashore.
Mulberry summons his snowlion, and asks Brandic: "Would you like a ride? Or are we walking?" Brandic answers laughing, while getting on the back on Mulberry's ride: "I would prefer riding. This island is huge! Much bigger than I thought just sailing by it." Necroma summons her own steed, and confirms: "Yep, riding is the best option." Ashelia nods while getting on the back of Necroma's ride. "It is a long way up to Nui's shrine." Mulberry nods at Necroma that he is ready. "I will follow you." Necroma and Ashelia take off towards the forest path, closely followed by Mulberry and Brandic. "Alright, after me!"
After a ride through the forest up the hill, they arrive at the Shrine to Nui. Necroma looks at the shrine in marvel. "Every time I'm up here I am reminded of the beauty of this place." The group dismounts, and approaches a few priests who are praying at the large statue. One of them is clearly dressed different than the others. Ashelia notices this too. "She looks important. Let's ask her about it."
Ashelia walks up the stairs and approaches the priestess, carefully speaking: "Excuse me..." The high priestess comes out of her prayer and turns around to the strangers. "Hello there. How are you, my children?" Necroma and Ashelia bow to the priestess respectfully, and Ashe answers: "We are well, thank you. I came to ask you for information about something that occurred here 25 years ago." The priestess nods gracefully in response, before looking around at the party's members and then back to Ashe. "Oh? 25 years is a long time. What could you be possibly searching for?" Ashelia takes a deep breath, then goes on: "Information about a wedding, that happened at this very spot. A wedding between a Harani noblewoman and a Nuian soldier. Their names were Marian Urea and Leander Amistal." The high priestess ponders for a moment, then looks at Ashe more closely as she remembers their image. "Ah, yes. I do remember a couple by those names. Lovely pair they were. What do you want to know about them?" Ashe sighs softly, and with a smile of relief she answers: "They... were my parents." The priestess hardly looks shocked. "Figures. So you're retracing the paths walked by your family." Ashelia nods, then carefully removes her fathers sword from her back and her mother's tiara from her pouch, to show the priestess the markers on them, as well as the gem. "These were their personal belongings. It was said to me that they contain a magically encrypted message containing their wedding vows, that would unlock when all three are together. But I can't get it to work. Do these markers look familiar to you?" The priestess notices the items and remembers their significance in the ceremony. "Well, those certainly were your parents'. Fine craftsmanship, even now. Whatever you're looking for, it's held within those." Ashelia smiles brightly at the positive answers. "You recognize it! You knew them!" The priestess nods slowly. "Yes, yes I did. It was me who performed the ceremony that day, at this altar here. Those items you're holding contain the magic that bound the two souls. Their magic is strong, but it can only be released here." Ashelia steps closer to the altar in front of the priestess. "Ohhh! Can you tell me how?" The high priestess steps aside to allow Ashe at the altar. "If it's answers you seek then... place them down on the altar, and embed the jewel in the socket in its base." Necroma has been listening carefully, and begins to smile. Brandic, who is standing behind them, crooks his head slightly trying to take everything in. Ashelia steps forward, and carefully places the sword and the tiara on the altar, while the high priestess signals her companions to move to the side a little. When she slowly inserts the gem into its socket, it begins to glow along with the tiara and sword. The glow is faint, but the light is warm. Ashe slowly steps back towards her companions, mumbling: "I can't wait to see this..."
Suddenly, an ethereal being, almost ghostly, appears before the altar. She looks very much like the high priestess, but younger. Mulberry reacts surprised, but not very shocked. "Look, a spirit." Brandic looks confused. "Woah... what in the...?" Ashe stares at the appearance, and mumbles: "What's happening...?" Necroma glances at the altar and moves closer to Ashe. "Seems to be a projection of sorts..." The ethereal appearance of the priestess looks down the path, and suddenly smiles as if someone she's expecting is approaching. At the border of the area around the shrine, two more ethereal beings appear out of thin air, while slowly making an approach to the priestess. One is a young Harani woman, wearing a wedding gown and a very familiar tiara, and she is holding a wedding bouquet. The other is a young Nuian man, wearing a fancy military suit for special occasions, and a very familiar sword. They hold hands and smile brightly as they make their way up the stairs, around the priestess. They stop at the other side of the altar, while the priestess turns around to face them.
Ashelia had been staring at the couple the whole time with wide open eyes, and finally whispers: "Are they...?" Mulberry whispers: "It must be their wedding." Brandic whispers back while staring at the scene before him: "I've never seen anything like this." Necroma chuckles slightly and smiles. "Kind of romantic, recording the wedding like this." Completely overwhelmed, Ashe just keeps staring at the couple, in complete silence.
Suddenly, the ethereal priestess speaks: "Now then, my children. We are here to join the souls of Leander Amistal and Marian Urea together in holy matrimony." Marian smiles at Leander, who shifts slightly while adjusting the sword he's carrying like a satchel, before sharing Marian's smile and looking back to the priestess. The priestess continues with a warm smile: "Marian, please place your tiara on the altar. Leander, your sword as well." Leander nods and unslings the word from its perch to lay upon the altar in front of the priestess. Marian nods as well and takes the tiara from her head, and gently places it next to the sword. The priestess raises her hand and starts casting a magic spell. A small beam of light slowly travels from the altar, connecting itself to Marian as well as Leander. As it connects, it dims to where it can barely be seen. Leander regards the light unflinching, stealing a glance at Marian to see if she was unphased by the ritual. Marian seems comfortable, smiling warmly and happily at him. He returns Marian's smile, breaking into a slim grin as he looks at her, softly speaking: "I didn't know it was possible you were to be more beautiful, Marian." Marian sheds a tear, before glancing back to the priestess.
The priestess motions for them to take a small step closer to each other. "Now then. Leander, will you now present your vows?" Leander nods as the priestess addresses him. He clears his throat lightly and takes Marian's hand, while pulling the ring from a pocket. "With this band of silver and gold, I offer a heart unbound by earth and sea. That our stars be so different, our hearts be one and the same. Let this ring bind us together, on earth and Hereafter." As he began speaking, the beam of light between him and the altar brightened again from its dim. He gulps a little to clear the anxiety from his throat and steadily places the ring on Marian's finger. "That you, I take as my wife."
From a distance, Necroma smiles at the wedding vow and realises she'll have to come up with something soon as well, panicking slightly on the inside. Mulberry holds a hand up to his throat as he watches.
Marian keeps smiling at Leander and sheds another tear as he speaks his beautiful words. The priestess now turns to Marian. The beam of light between Leander and the altar holds, awaiting the connection from Marian. "Marian, will you now present your vows?" Marian softly clears her throat before looking Leander in the eyes, taking his hand, and pulling the ring from a small purse. "Today I give you everything that I am. I will forever be there to laugh with you, to lift you up when you are down, and to love you through our adventures in life together. My home will be wherever you are." She gently places the ring on Leander's finger, then looks up again smiling brightly. "I take you to be my best friend, my faithful husband, and my one true love. And may our bond be a symbol that west and east can be together, in peace." As she spoke her vows, the beam of light between her and the altar brightened as well, connecting both her and Leander to the altar. The priestess nods at both Leander and Marian, and speaks: "And you are now joined in eternity. May the stars shine as brightly as the love you share." As she speaks these words, the light that connects Leander and Marian to the altar pulses before dimming out of sight, igniting a soft glow on the tiara and the grip of the sword. Leander's smile broadens and he blushes a little. The priestess smiles warmly and continues: "You may kiss the bride." Leander exhales, relieved at the prompt and pulls Marian to him and kisses her deeply, while he quips against her lips: "Gladly."
The sun reflects off their skins as it rises above the mountains. Mulberry sighs. "So beautiful..." Brandic watches with a slight smile, without a word. Necroma blushes slightly and inches closer towards Ashelia who gazes at the wedding, and tears start rolling down her cheeks. She slowly moves forward to the bottom of the stairs for a closer look at her parents' happy faces, followed by Necroma staying by her side.
The priestess reaches down to the gem and removes it from the socket. The glow on the tiara and sword burns brightly for a moment, then completely fades away, leaving behind markings of ancient magic. "Now then, my children. Take back your tiara and sword, and keep them with you always. And keep each other closer, because without your love, the magic imbued is meaningless." Marian carefully picks up her tiara, and places it back on her head. Leander glances up from Marian and nods, accepting the gem that the priestess is handing him, then retrieves his sword from the altar. The priestess smiles and concludes: "Now then, go and live a full life together!" Leander shoulders the sword once more, then offers Marian his hand. "Let's go, my dear." Marian looks happily at him, and nods in agreement. The couple moves around the altar and the priest and slowly decends the stairs, before stopping at the bottom, right in front of Ashelia and Necroma who are still watching closely.
Leander smiles to Marian and leans over to kiss her again. But his gaze goes sober after. "Marian..." Marian looks at Leander, slightly worried at his gaze. "Is everything okay, my dear?" Leander stutters: "If... if anything happens... If I fall or disappear... If your family......" He lets the words fall silent before looking up at the priestess, then back to Marian. "Promise me you'll get yourself here, with the priests, and hide yourself until I come for you... Promise me this..."
Necroma perks up at the said, and Ashelia's eyes go wide open while she carefully listens.
Marian lets out a soft sigh of relief and nods. "Of course! Don't worry, I promise." Leander kisses her one more time and chuckles amiably. "Good. Let's get to the boat before the tide takes it." Marian nods in agreement smiling at him, before they move down the path holding each other closely. As they leave the barrier around the shrine, their ethereal appearances disappear, closely watched by Ashelia in tears. The ethereal image of the priestess also disappears, and the real high priestess steps forward again towards the altar.
A bit further away, Brandic's eyes were also widening when hearing the last conversation between the couple. He whispers to Mulberry: "You... don't think... No... It can't be..." Mulberry whispers back: "What do you mean?" Brandic is deep in thought, and mumbles: "It's nothing..." As the couple disappears, Mulberry looks with concern at Ashe, standing there in tears being consoled by Necroma. Necroma turns around and glances at the high priestess suspiciously. The priestess walks down the stairs to them. "I hope then, you found what you were looking for?" Ashelia is still gazing down the path, in the direction where her parents disappeared. She softly speaks: "Could it be possible... that mom is here?" The priestess looks closely at Ashe when she finally turns around to face her. "I believe your words, and you do look shockingly like her younger self, so I will indulge you. Yes, she is." Ashelia wipes the tears from her face and moves to the altar to take the tiara, the sword, and the gem back. "She's here...? She is really here??" Necroma looks happily at Ashe as she returns, giving her a warm smile and a kiss. "See? I told you to have faith." The priestess nods and points down the path. "If you go down the road and then left... you'll find what you are looking for." Brandic nods to himself in confirmation, and Mulberry wipes some tears off his face, as the two join up with the rest again. Ashelia embraces Necroma tightly. "You were right, sweety! Let's go find her!" Necroma nods with a smile. "Yes! After you, dear."
Led by Ashelia, the group moves down the path to the side road, leading into a small village surrounded by mist. There are a few small houses, and a few priests going around doing their business. The group looks around from the center, and Ashe softly calls out: "Marian...? Marian Urea?" A woman hesitantly comes out of one of the small houses near the road. "Who could be calling me?" The group turns towards the house, looking at a very familiar face. But before they can speak, the woman suddenly panicks and runs when she spots the group. "No! Not her! Please, no!" Ashe stands in shock looking after the fleeing woman, whispering: "Mom...?" Necroma moves after her, calling out: "Wait!" Brandic looks from the scene to Ashe and Mulberry. "What... the..." Necroma, who followed the woman as she fled into the vast forest behind the houses trying to hide herself in the trees, shouts: "Ms Urea?" Ashelia slowly follows after Necroma and finally catches up. "Where'd she go...?" The woman shrinks back, hoping not to be seen, and Necroma looks concerned at Ashe, who still seems to be in shock, and looks back at Nec in tears. "What... is going on?" Necroma steps closer and embraces Ashe in a hug. "I... I don't know love. Maybe she's overwhelmed with you suddenly appearing? Maybe try calling her again and explain why you're here, love?" While the woman waits in terror, as the terrain is too steep to go further, Ashe wipes away her tears and raises her voice slightly: "Marian? I am Ashelia, your daughter!" From somewhere closely ahead in the bushes, the woman speaks out loud in spite of herself: "This can't be." Necroma steps up closer to Ashe again, and says out loud: "Ms Urea, please, Ashelia has been looking for you a long time now, please show yourself." The woman's voice shakes with fear, as she says: "My... my daughter would never have tried to kill me. And Ashelia... she died a long time ago. It can't be." Ashelia shivers upon hearing these words, and whispers to herself: "Tried to kill...? I died...?" She turns around to Necroma, her face covered in tears. "I... need a moment... Alone..." Necroma looks worried at Ashe. "I... don't think this is a good idea but okay." While Ashe slowly wanders off to the village exit, and follows the path out, Necroma keeps talking to the woman: "Why would... why would you think she tried to kill you?" When Ashelia moved away, the woman who clearly is Marian, spotted the sword of Leander on her back. She covers her mouth in horror as she imagines the worst. "This woman with you... she came after me. And how... how did she get that sword? My love... please, no!" Necroma answers: "She got the sword from her sister, who got it from her foster parents. That woman is your eldest daughter." Marian shakes her head in confusion and begins to cry. "But that can't be. My daughter is dead many years." Necroma answers: "No... all of your daughters are still alive. And Ashelia has been looking for you. Please come." Marian remains hesitant and careful, not yet revealing herself. "I never wanted to abandon her. But why... if that is my child... why would she come to kill me?" Brandic's face was overcome with a mixture of anger and sadness when he approached Necroma's location earlier. Biting his tongue up to now, he is perplexed hearing Marian's last words. "What makes you so sure she's come to kill you?" Necroma says: "I don't know what you're talking about, Ashelia wouldn't even harm a fly." Slightly calming down, Marian continues: "I remember her clearly, I will never forget. I worked years to afford passage to this island. The day I was to leave Austera, she came for me. That woman. She wanted to kill me and she almost succeeded. I barely managed to make it to the ship and the crew hid me." Necroma sighs. "This... doesn't make any sense." Brandic shakes his head. "None of this does..." Marian continues: "I will never ever forget the fire in her eyes as she watched the boat leave the pier. She can't be my child. Why... why would she do that?" Without hesitation, Necroma sticks to having faith in Ashe. "She is your child and I am certain you have to mix her up with someone else." Brandic decides to back her up. "It is possible you know." Marian asks: "How could there be two people who look so much alike? And how do you know she is my daughter? I don't want her to be gone, I want to see her more than anything in the world. But..." Necroma interrupts her: "The high priestess seemed to be certain about it. We saw your wedding with your husband earlier when she brought together the items containing your wedding vows." Marian takes a hesitant step forward, out of her hiding place. "The high priestess? I trust the priestess. My husband... how I miss him. I don't... I just don't know... But that sword... She didn't kill him and take it?" Necroma sighs. "Why don't you try come and see for yourself? I promise there'll come no harm to you." Marian asks: "I... are you sure?" Necroma confirms: "Definitely. I'm not even sure she could wield that heavy sword at all. I promise on these holy grounds of the Goddess Nui." Brandic nods in agreement. "If such a thing as you fear does happen, I promise on my honor to protect you." Clearly still afraid, Marian slowly approaches Necroma and Brandic. "I will go then." Necroma smiles at her, then turns around to lead the way back to the village. "Come with me then."
As the group returns at the village and Necroma shouts out for Ashe, suddenly Mulberry appears out of the forest area on the other side of the village. Brandic: "And where have you been?" Mulberry: "Lost, as usual."
Meanwhile, Ashelia had wandered away out of the village, and back onto the main road, in deep thoughts. "This... is not what I had expected it to be. And to accuse me of trying to kill her? What the heck is going on?" She sits down near a small bridge, trying to process what just happened. "It all doesn't make sense. But she was terrified of me, so walking away giving her some room to breathe was probably for the best. I'll just have faith in Necroma. And Brandic. And Mulberry." Suddenly she's startled by a noise in the bushes nearby. Carefully she gazes into the dense vegetation, then sighs relieved, seeing it was Mulberry who slipped off a steep part of the hill, and has some trouble finding the way back. Ashe chuckles briefly. "Well... some faith in Necroma and Brandic, at least. But what could she mean? And why would she think I am dead? Or an assassin? Well I can't be both at the same time anyway, she must be confused. I wonder what could have possibly happened to her." She stands up again and keeps pondering, moving up and down the road, calming down a little. As she looks down the road to the beach, she suddenly hears Necroma's voice in the distance, calling for her. "Ashelia? ...Ashe?"
She turns around to run back, but instead bumps against a woman in a black hooded outfit, holding up a dagger against her throat and motioning her to be silent and move towards a black war tiger that stands in the shadow under a nearby tree. Sweating from fear Ashe complies, but when the bandit takes a rope and sheaths her daggers to tie Ashe up, she lets out a few loud screams before the bandit manages to stuff a cloth into her mouth.
Back in the village, the screams were clearly heard and recognized to be Ashelia's. Brandic looks in alarm and takes off without thinking, slipping off the hill and ending up on the main road ahead of the bandit, clearly unknowingly rushing off further towards the beach. Necroma's face goes blank with fear and she rushes past Mulberry, who gives Marian a hand to get on his mount before following Necroma.
The bandit has Ashe tied up over her tiger by now. She mounts up quickly and moves to the main road, before rushing off towards the beach. As soon as Necroma spotted Ashe and foresaw a possible escape attempt, she whistled for her own steed, and mounts up quickly to pursue the bandit, closely followed by Mulberry and his passenger Marian. Necroma retrieves her staff and tries to push her steed to the max, but the bandit's war tiger is quite fast and manages to keep a distance. As they chase the bandit, Necroma shouts: "Wait! Who are you? What are you doing? Let her go!" As the group approaches Brandic who stopped ahead and seems lost, Brandic does notice Ashe tied up in front of the bandit. "Oh no!" With no possible way to stop the bandit from rushing by, he quickly mounts up again and joins the group in their pursuit. From behind Mulberry, Marian notices the red banner with a black crest on the bandit's saddle.
The bandit manages to stay ahead as they rush onto the beach, and she pushes her tiger into a final boost to the end of the pier, where a galleon is waiting. The galleon crew undocks the ship and lets the wind in their red colored sails, that seem to have the same black crest on them. The ship starts moving, while the bandit makes a final jump from the end of the pier onto the back of the ship.
With the wind full in the sails, the ship gains speed quickly, and makes a sharp turn to the east, towards the continent Haranya.
Marian, who was dropped off by Mulberry at the edge of the beach in case there'd be a fight, comes out of the bewilderment and approaches the group on the pier. "Did you see it? The crest? It belongs to the Urea family. Why would they come here unless they knew?" Necroma falls off her steed and sits on the ground, looking lost. "I couldn't protect her..." Brandic's voice is filled with fear saying: "We... we can't just sit here... We have to go after them or something!" Mulberry kneels beside Necroma. "We'll find her."
Necroma nods at Mulberry and wipes off her tears, jumping up and turning around towards Marian, who says: "Did you see the crest? My family... They would take her to Hasla, to Veroe. You must hurry!" Rather harsh, Necroma asks: "What do you know of them!?" Marian continues: "Nothing of the bandit. Only that my family must have come for her. I don't know why, after so many years. Nor why they wouldn't kill me. I thought it was they who sent the assassin for me the first time. But my own daughter... I thought even they could not be that abominable." Necroma's face hardens, a deadly fire burning in her eyes. "I will find her, even if I have to fight my way through bodies to find her." Brandic shows a fiery blue tint in his eyes. "I'm right behind you!" Mulberry nods. "I will help in any way I can." Necroma looks at Marian who has tears running down her face and tilts her head. "You... should maybe come with us. It's no longer safe here." Marian wipes her tears and agrees. "No, it isn't. But where will you take me?" Necroma answers: "We'll bring you to your other daughters." Marian sobs: "You know my children? My babies..." Necroma nods. "I have to, after all I and Ashelia are engaged for a bit now." Marian smiles slightly. "Oh! Like her father, a Westerner." Necroma nods. "And an elf at that." Marian asks: "My daughters, are they well? I thought I might never see them again." Necroma nods again. "They're all good, but you'll see soon." She gestures the group to gather around her and opens a portal to Sanctuary, her tavern and hotel that's right next to Ashe's lands. While Brandic and Mulberry go through, followed by Marian, Necroma turns around looking up the trail to the Shrine to Nui, and mumbles: "That they'd do this kind of thing on Nui's island..." She then follows through the portal, and the portal closes behind her.
Necroma is the last to exit the portal, before it closes. Marian is looking around the spacious and warm building, and asks: "What is this place? A tavern?" Necroma confirms: "Welcome to my home. Well, tavern, but yeah. Your daughters aren't far from here, follow me. Although I'm not sure they're home yet." Marian doesn't follow, and says: "I'm ashamed to meet them like this." Necroma looks at Marian, who clearly looks like she's been living in poverty for a while, wearing only some old rags. "Hmm... I'm not sure if it'll fit but I could lend you some clothes if you want." Marian looks up at Necroma. "Would you?" Mulberry notices he's about the same size as Marian, before realizing he came in full armor. "I would lend her some but I don't think that would work too well." Necroma hands Marian a set of clothes, who goes behind a partition to change and says: "Oh, thank you to much!" Necroma answers: "No problem at all, now let's find your daughters."
Necroma leads the way as they follow the edge of the cliff next to the lake, towards the Little Chord building. While she shouts out to Enelya and Leniya, Marian looks around to the beautiful scenery. "This place is so lovely." Necroma nods. "They put a lot of effort into it all." Marian looks surprised. "This belongs to my daughters?" Necroma confirms: "Yes, all of it. Ashe's keeping a bar and tavern alive. She is also a very talented musician." Marian smiles slightly. "Thank the gods they haven't had to live in poverty." As they approach the outdoor bar, Necroma adds: "She worked very hard for all of this. Please, sit down everyone while I get us some drinks to cool off a bit." Brandic still has trouble shaking everything off and downs his drink quickly, shivering at how potent it was.
It doesn't take very long until Leniya shows up, and approaches the bar after seeing the group arrive from a distance. "Oh, it's you Nec. Can I get a whiskey?" Necroma slightly winces when noticing Leniya. "Hey Len... You might want to sit down." Leniya smirks. "I was planning as much... with a whiskey. Suppose I could as well save myself a trip and sit here... So, how'd it go?" Marian watches Leniya quietly, whispering: "Len..." Brandic shows sorrow to Leniya's question, who doesn't notice and sips from her whiskey, only half listening to Necroma's answer. "I suppose the good news first... Leniya... this is your mother. Ma'am, this is your second daughter." Marian stands up and approaches Leniya closely, looking at her carefully. "My... It's been so many years. Leander... you look like him..." At this point, she bursts into tears. "My baby... Last time I saw you you were so small!" Absent minded, Leniya turns her head to the right, looking Marian into her eyes. "You knew dad? Wait... what'd you say Nec?" Marian smiles. "Your father. Of course I knew him." Necroma looks at Leniya and adds: "She's your mother." Leniya stands up and observes Marian closer, slightly confused but recognizing familiarities with Ashelia and Enelya. "Mom?" Marian hugs her daughter tightly, in tears. "My little girl. I thought I would never see you again." Leniya, more than a head bigger than Marian because of her Nuian build, chuckles while looking down at her. She wipes a tear herself and embraces Marian. "Not so little anymore I'm afraid. What happened? I mean, where have you been all these years?" Marian sits down beside her child and answers: "My family... disowned me. I had to scrape by as best I could. And your father? Where is he now?" Leniya sits down again as well and looks down her whiskey glass. "Dad... died. About a year ago. He picked up his military career again years ago when I was old enough to take care of myself." Marian presses a hand to her heart. "I waited at Ynys Isle for 5 years. So that's why he never came. My love, may you rest in the arms of Nui." Leniya sips from her whiskey, then reaches out to give her mom a brief hug. "I'm sorry..." Meanwhile, Necroma sips from her rum and sits down herself with a sigh, carefully interrupting the reunion. "Len... do you know where your younger sister is? There's... something else." Leniya answers Necroma, before explaining to her mother: "Think she had some business meetings. She runs a farming business, together with Ashe. She'll be back eventually." Necroma fights her tears and empties her mug of rum. "Alright. Well... While we were on Ynys Isle... I'm sorry... Ashe was kidnapped and we couldn't stop them." Leniya looks up from her whiskey. "Wait, what...? Kidnapped?" Necroma nods. "I don't understand why... She never did anything to anyone..." Leniya shakes her head. "Hold on... Who took her? And where? Any ideas?" Necroma sighs. "We... have a lead, sort of. They bared the insignia of the Urea." Marian adds: "I recognized my family crest. I didn't think even they could be that despicable. But that means they probably took her to Veroe." Leniya shakes her head again. "Even so... what the heck do they want HER for? I mean... if they're still mad at you, I can understand. No offense mom. But how did they even know she was related?" Necroma looks down. "By Nui, if I knew..." Marian continues: "I know she doesn't have a twin. But that assassin who came after me 5 years ago... It was her, I swear it. Yet there was none of that malevolence in her." Leniya shakes her head once more. "Every time I think I'm catching up with the situation, something new comes up, I swear. Ashe, an assassin? She can't fight at all, she's peace in person." Necroma nods slowly. "That's what I told her too." Marian ponders for a moment. "I heard a report, long ago, that a family exactly like the one I left her with was killed in Hasla. And the little girl died too. Now I wonder, did my family do it?"
Brandic's been silent all this time, still looking off and out of it. He attempts to drink more, but realizing he drank it all he sighs. Mulberry, who's been crying in his apple juice the whole time, watches him carefully. "You all right?" Brandic nods slowly, his face remaining the same. He continues to listen to the conversation, holding his empty glass in his hand very tightly.
Marian speaks very softly to herself: "My baby, what did they do to you?" Leniya downs her whiskey and gestures at Necroma to give her the bottle. "I'm not even sure I wanna know anymore. How will we get her back though?" Necroma's eyes and face turn dark while she gets herself a refill of rum, and hands Leniya a new bottle of whiskey. "I will get her back. And if I have to go over dead bodies to get her back, this I swear." Marian looks at Necroma with sorrow. "Please take care, they are treacherous." Leniya opens the bottle and sips directly from it, offering it to her mom after. She takes a small bit of the liquor before declining, since she hasn't had spirits in years. Brandic finally breaks his silence, about to break the glass he's gripping so hard. "We do whatever we can to get her back..." Mulberry looks up and nods. "As I said, I'll help you in any way possible." Necroma grins at her future mother in law. "My family pretty much invented treachery. They're elf nobles and one of them is a necromancer as well." Marian looks slightly relieved. "Then you will know how to guard against it, this is good." Necroma nods at Leniya, then at Marian, before joking slightly: "I think my and your relatives would mingle splendidly." Leniya smirks. "Sure, let's set up a meeting. That'll ease our task." Marian shakes her head slowly, with a slight smile. "Oh dear." Leniya turns more serious now. "Nec... Will you be fine without me on this mission? As much as I'd like to join, it might be wise if one of us stays here in case they manage to find mom. Considering Enelya knows Haranya well while I only recently moved in here, she'll be of more value to your mission." Necroma nods. "I don't want to put any more of you in danger. Ashe'd tear off my head if something were to happen to you or your mother. I don't really want Enelya to get involved either, but I don't think I'll be able to stop her from going too. Also, I still have Mul and Brandic here as well, I think they'd be glad to help as well." Brandic shows a very uncharacteristically serious look on his face. "We're going to get her back! This I swear." Mulberry confirms: "We will." Leniya shakes her head slowly while standing up. "I don't know about Enelya, she's always so closed off." Necroma answers: "Yeah. Until it's about Ashe." Leniya picks up her whiskey bottle and moves to the nearby pavilion. "Let me get you something to eat, mom. I'm not much of a cook but you look like you could use a meal. And I'll prepare you a place to sleep inside." Marian smiles. "Thank you, dear. And later you must tell me about your life growing up." Leniya nods. "I will, it's a promise."
Necroma looks around, saying: "I sure hope Enelya will be here soon." Marian says: "Tell me about her." Necroma answers: "I... haven't really talked that much with her. I rarely see her, really. Both I and Enelya are rather... busy." Marian asks: "But she is well? I felt so terrible having to leave her behind. All of them." Necroma nods. "Yeah, she's well. Just a bit closed off." Marian looks down. "Poor little thing."
Necroma picks up one of her instruments to play some music while they're waiting. Eventually, Enelya rushes into the area and dismounts near the bar, approaching it from the side. She looks around at the people, then her gaze freezes as she sees Marian. While the others of the group greet her, Marian waits, hardly daring to breathe. Enelya finally turns her eyes to Nec, and whispers: "Hey... is that... who I think it is...?" Necroma nods slightly. "Hey there, Enelya... Yes. She is who you think her to be. She's your mother." Enelya waits for a brief moment, then hurries around the bar towards her. "Mom...? Is it really you?" Marian stands up and faces Enelya. "Enelya? My little girl! Let me look at you." Enelya looks back at Marian's face, and realizes it quickly. Without waiting she jumps forward to embrace her. "It IS you!" Marian hugs her child and begins to cry again. "I was so afraid something had happened to you." Enelya answers, also in tears: "We thought the same about you! We were so worried, especially Ashe. Wait... where is she?" She looks around while Marian answers, and takes a seat again: "It's been so many years. I prayed every day that you were safe but I couldn't check on you. Please dear, sit down here." Necroma offers Enelya a mug of spiced rum while looking down, tears once again running down her cheeks and a feeling like metal in her belly. "You might want to sit down and drink some." Brandic looks away trying to hide his pain, and Mulberry looks worried at Brandic. Enelya notices their odd behavior and turns to Necroma while sitting down. "Nec...? What happened out there? Is Ashe okay?" Necroma slowly answers: "I'm really sorry Enelya... I couldn't protect her... She's... she's been kidnapped by the Urea." Enelya holds her mug of rum, but keeps staring at Necroma, neglecting to drink from it. "The Urea? What on earth do they want with her?" Necroma answers: "Hell if I knew that I wouldn't be sitting around here." Marian says: "I don't know. But now I wonder if it may have had to do with the report I heard that meant I had to be afraid of any contact with you. I heard that a family in Hasla was killed, and their little girl too. The description exactly matched your sister and her foster parents." Necroma adds: "There's... also another strange thing. Your mother here was scared of Ashe first she saw her and thought she wanted to kill her." Marian continues: "She was the assassin who came for me 5 years ago. I would never forget that face." Necroma shakes her head, having faith that this can't be and Ashe would never harm anyone. Enelya however swallows and looks in total shock, her eyes wide open, wandering off in deep thoughts. "Assassin... you say?" Necroma notices Enelya's reaction and begins to wonder if she knows more than she's letting go. Marian continues: "I finally saved enough for passage to Ynys Isle. The day I was to leave, she appeared. I barely escaped with my life." Enelya completely ignores the fact that the assassin looked like Ashe, and asks: "Are you sure it was you she was after?" Marian answers: "She followed me, I had to stay in the crowds to get away. But even as the ship left, she watched it. Such fire in her eyes, it was as if she was not even human. And so young." Enelya keeps pondering, and asks: "Do you have any idea who wanted you dead, or why?" Marian answers: "At the time I assumed my family had sent her to clean up the loose ends. But I never really knew." Enelya nods slowly. "That... may very well be the case. Despite the relationship with a Nuian, you were already a loose end. I mean... I assume you're aware that you're not a true born Urea? They're typically known for their tan skin, pitch black hair, and dark brown eyes." Marian, who is certainly paler than the typical Urea, looks at Enelya with her blue eyes and nods. "I know I look different, and was always different in character. They never said much, but I did know. And frankly, if they could do this, then I am glad of it." Enelya looks down. "I agree. This will probably come as a shock... but that must have been Ashe indeed. I have seen that fire in her eyes before. And there's a reason for her memory loss. I am responsible for that." Necroma who's been listening closely, nearly chokes on her drink. She sits down slowly and looks at Enelya with a mix of confusion, realization, and something uncertain. Marian looks shocked as well. "What could they have done to her? My poor little girl... What happened? You say she has no memory?" Enelya answers: "Not from beyond two years ago. But I do. It's a long story. We didn't exactly find each other under the impression of being family." Marian tries to fight tears. "I am so very sorry. I never wanted to leave you both behind. Please forgive me." Enelya answers: "You are the last one I would blame for this. Do you remember the foster family where you brought me in Tigerspine? They are good folks, I had a good life with them. I'm sure you'll remember their little boy Alistair?" Marian nods. "I remember them very well. Alistair was adorable."
While Mulberry wipes tears off his face again before resting a hand on Brandic's arm, Brandic finally fractures his glass at this point. Listening to the story, he desperately tries to hide his emotions while having shallow heavy breaths. The group and Marian listen, and Enelya tells the full story about the incident that caused Alistair's death, her encounter with Ashelia, the point where Ashe's memory was lost after being hit with their father's sword, and her recovery and building of their current lives. (( See "Enelya's Story" ))
Enelya ends with mentioning once more how there were clearly two sides about Ashe. The side that Necroma knows, who wouldn't harm a fly, and the side that Marian saw 5 years ago, with that fearsome fire burning in her eyes as if she wasn't even human. "Luckily she's lived a peaceful life ever since. Her strength and fighting spirit are gone. I've worked hard pushing her into this peaceful life, keeping her away from weapons, erasing traces of her past, and training harder myself to be able to protect her and my foster family." Marian sighs. "I wish I could have saved her from whatever caused her to be that way." Enelya leans her head against Marian's shoulder. "I'm sure you did what felt right. It can't have been easy for you either, losing your husband and kids the way you did." Marian nods. "I thought I might never see any of you again. It was the last thing I wanted to do. Let me tell you what happened."
The group is already aware of the parts that were known to Ashelia, or told by Leniya before. The forbidden love after Leander saved Marian's life in the Hasla wars, the wedding on Ynys Isle, the promise they made to each other. (( See "Leniya's Story" ))
When their marriage was found out, the Urea family sent out Shadowhawk assassins to find and hunt down Leander, who had no choice but to flee back to Nuia, taking Leniya with him (because of her more Nuian appearance). Marian was disowned by the Urea family, her existence denied and erased from every family record. She was kicked out on the streets with Ashelia and Enelya under her care. Disowned and disgraced, she lived in poverty on the farmlands in Hasla and couldn't possibly take care of two children. Neither could she possibly find a way to reach Ynys Isle as she promised Leander.
After summarizing these already known facts, Marian continues what happened in her life after that: "For a while, I lived on the Hasla farmlands. But I had nothing, so taking care of two children was impossible. I had no choice but to find a foster home for at least one of them. I found a nice family of farmers who were willing to take Ashelia in. I still held on to Enelya, the youngest, and decided I had to travel west, away from the wars, hoping for an opportunity to keep my promise to Leander and getting to Ynys Isle again. I knew he would be able to help me.
The journey west was long and difficult, and I soon started realizing that I wasn't able to offer Enelya the home she deserved either. So I found her a foster home too, in Tigerspine Mountains. I managed to stay nearby until one day, word reached me about an incident in Hasla. A family of farmers was killed, along with their young daughter. The description was an exact match of Ashe's foster parents, and Ashe. You can imagine that I was totally heartbroken with the news. I feared my old family might have been involved, so I didn't dare to check up on Enelya anymore and decided I had to continue moving west, knowing at least Enelya would be in good hands.
After a long journey, I finally managed to reach the city of Austera in Solis Headlands. Exhausted from travel, grief, and lack of food, I collapsed. When I woke up, an elderly lady had taken me in, in the suburbs of Austera. There wasn't a whole lot of decent food and proper medicine to share, so recovery took me a long time. When I recovered enough, I started taking small jobs. It was dirty work and it was tough, but at least it would get me some food. Every copper I could spare was saved. The thought of keeping my promise and being reunited with Leander, and seeing Enelya and Leniya again, kept me working hard.
For over twelve years, I kept pushing myself to my limits. In the winter, five years ago, I finally had saved up enough to buy myself a passage to Ynys Isle on a cargo ship to Nuia. But on the evening of my departure, while the ship was finishing loading cargo, I came face to face with a violent young woman who couldn't possibly be much older than 18. The young woman approached me, a fearsome fire burned into her eyes, and two katana blades were pointing my way. The woman didn't speak, but it was clear that her intentions were no good. I fled into the crowd on the market square, and saw a shadow following me on the rooftops. This was an assassin, and I guessed she was possibly a Shadowhawk sent to finally finish the loose end of the family that could wreck their name.
I managed to make it to the docks, staying inside the most crowded areas to prevent the assassin from striking. A dock worker who recognized me as a passenger saw me running in fear, and hid me in one of the last cargo crates that were being loaded.
As the boat left the dock and the crew released me from the crate, I got one final glimpse on the face of the assassin, who glared at the leaving boat from the docks. I suppose you can guess by now which face it was that I saw that night.
Luckily I made it safely to Ynys Isle. I was granted asylum by the priests, and received proper treatment and food in return for some small tasks maintaining the shrine. Of course I was still poor, so I was unable to go out and start a search for Leander. So I stayed with the priests for the next five years hoping he would one day return. Until today. I understand now why he never came. My love, may you rest in the arms of Nui."
Enelya sheds a tear. "You've been through so much. And yet you kept going. I'm just happy that we found each other, after all this time. And we WILL get Ashe back, I give you my word on that." Marian says: "I hope so. I wish I could fight to help you." Enelya shakes her head. "Nah, you shouldn't. If it's you they're after, we should make sure you're in a safe location." Marian sighs. "I suppose you're right. But I can't bear to think of my little girl in that nest of vipers." Necroma gulps down the last bit of her rum. "Don't worry, that nest won't be a nest for long anymore if they won't give her back..." Marian smiles slightly. "You are very devoted." Necroma nods. "They took my most precious person. Of course I am." Enelya turns to Necroma. "Oh, I'm not gonna let you go alone, Nec. No offense... but you don't exactly seem like a front line fighter. Someone's gonna have to keep the blades at a distance." Necroma sighs, but then grins slightly. "I figured as much. And I intend to burn them to crisp before they get in close." Brandic slightly puts up two fingers of one hand, and while still looking out of sorts, he says: "I suppose that will be where I come in. Defense was my task in the navy." Mulberry adds: "I admit I'm not the world's greatest mage, but I have been known to blast a few creatures out of existence. We did volunteer for it." Marian says: "Just be sure you both return safely." Enelya nods. "We will. And then we'll all be together again." Marian smiles sadly. "I only wish your father could be with us too." Enelya looks down, trying to hold back a tear. "So do I... I wish I could have known him." Brandic looks down, but in the direction of Necroma. "So... when do we make our move?" Necroma says: "I want to do this as soon as possible but we shouldn't just storm in head over heels. We'll need some planning and more importantly, information. The more one knows their opponent, the easier it'll be to deal with them." Enelya nods. "Indeed. Not to mention it's been a long day, we should be well rested before going. Tomorrow I'll head out to Hasla and see what I can find, I know the area well." Necroma nods in agreement. "And I'll get in contact with info dealers tomorrow. With luck we'll get much needed information from them." Leniya who's been leaning against a fence from a distance, adds: "And I'll take care of mom's security." Enelya finishes her drink. "Sounds like a plan. For now, let's get some rest." Brandic nods in agreement, sliding his cracked glass forward. "I'm going to head out... I have a lot to reflect on before I'm ready." Mulberry stands up as well. "Then perhaps we should leave you to get better acquainted with your mother. And to plan. When you have a plan in mind, will you contact us?" Necroma nods at both of them, before noticing Brandic's glass and raising an eyebrow slightly. "Of course. Safe travels." Enelya nods as well. "I wish you both a good night and safe travels."
Enelya stands up, and together with Leniya guides their mother inside the house. Mulberry turns to Brandic as they both walk off. "And for you, my friend. I don't know what pains you but I wish I could offer some comfort." Brandic shakes his head, only saying: "It's been a long day..." Mulberry continues, before turning to Necroma one last time. "I'll just port us home. And we will see you when the day is there." Necroma nods. "See you both soon."