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Past is Prologue: Zia
(2013-08-24 - 2013-08-28)
No description.
Oathkeeper "It would be. But to not give anyone that chance is to doom all of them." Lucas' words followed her as she stepped through the portal and walks into a tunnel of darkness. The portal remains open for as long as it takes her to cross it - though it isn't much of a walk. When she finally comes out on the other side, she'll find that she stands within a land of strangely lit darkness. It's not 'darkness' in the way of an absence of light. But there is a lot of black around. As she steps out of that portal, the thing closes behind her. She finds herself standing at a coast of jagged black rocks with a slight gleam to them.

It might look familiar. This is very similar in a ways, to the coast she'd once seen before. In the far distance, behind clouds of black, there's a pale white light that gleams over the waters to her right. But she's not standing on a low beach this time. She may be at a coast - but this is no beach. She stands on a high rocky edge. And right before her stands a castle amidst the darkness. Much of the stone worn, but she'll recognize it for what it is.

It is what she'd considered her home for a long time.
Zia Those last words resonate in her ears as the gargoyle steps through from one place to another, from one world to another. In another time, she might have stopped to consider if their situation is truly as dire as it seems, but the moment her feet step foot on familiar ground, Zia's train of thought de-rails, leaving her looking up along the cliff towards the ruins, the chill of ocean blowing up over the rocks.


Once upon a time, this was a place of childhood memories and moments long before the world caught up to her. Now, it reminds her all too much of that sliver of Manhattan she'd seen the day they went within to pull it from the darkness. It raises goosebumps on her arms as she steps forward, looking around uncertainly. Why would the Seeker send her here of all places?

There are too many dark memories here, but it seems like there is nowhere to go but forward. So, Zia walks the path up along the cliffs towards the ruins, pulling her wings close around herself for warmth. "Ah never wanted te see this place again." She murmurs, her breath hanging in the cold air.
Oathkeeper Yet he had. And there was no going back now. All she can do is move forwards for now - or use that Star Shard in her hand; and she didn't really know how to use it yet. But then, nobody really did. There's yellow eyes that watch her from the far perimeter, without blinking. And she gets to see this sight within the wall-like darkness away from the coast until she finally enters the ruins themselves.

Within, things are just like they had been when she'd 'left'. There isn't much in the way of furniture or anything. It's all rather 'empty'. Still, there are /some/ things around. An old footlocker and a table with an old chair stand out.
Zia Do you ever have that feeling that you're being watched? Ears tucked down, Zia hesitates near the entrance to the ruins, catching a glimpse of yellow eyes watching in the distance. Though she's learned that not all yellow-eyed monsters are Heartless, the feeling in the pit of her stomach makes her guess that they are. Whatever is keeping them at bay, for now, won't last forever. Like with Manhattan, there are forces at play that do not want these shards of worlds to be found.

Shifting her eyes away, the gargoyle flicks her tail once, trying to be brave where she might have once turned back. So much has changed since the last time she stood here, and the greatest parts of it had been in the past year.

It's quiet, though - a little too quiet. The thought lingers in her mind even if it isn't brought to her lips. Something isn't right here. It had been many years since she last stepped foot here, and yet it seemed that so little had changed.

It's the table that catches her attention first, leaving Zia to crouch to right the chair behind it, running her fingers along the wooden surface. It reminded her of her mother, who sat there so many days, looking out the window, waiting for her mate to return. He never would.

Zia takes a deep breath, then sighs heavily, looking around, her hand still lingering on the chair.
Oathkeeper The fall of a world had many little effects. Pieces of worlds would fall into this one, the world of darkness, like one giant garbage bin. And this was just one chunk of it all. The only reason those heartless have not approached yet, is because these are not used to living beings roaming these lands. It is inevitable that they will follow her however. Like a timer that is ticking, but won't reach 0 until the right RP levers have been pulled.

As her fingers run across the wooden surface, she finds a little indentation. Something from her past. Not something made by her mother or her dad or even her brother. Just a little scratching - barely really anything. The figure of a little doggy face with a circle around it. Nothing really all that important all in all. And it's hardly that artistic either. When had she scratched that? Had she at all? Maybe when she'd been younger and bored? No such markings are found on the table. There, it's just simple wear.
Zia It would have been all too easy not to notice the little carving, but the idle motion of her fingers draws over it, bringing her eyes back to inspect it, fingertips tracing the outline.

It was a cold winter. The adults of the clan had gone out to hunt, leaving the two hatchlings in the care of their grandmother. The older gargoyle matron was already nearing the end of her years, although none of them could know that this was meant to be her last winter. With their 'babysitter' having fallen asleep near the fire, it left Zia and her brother to their own devices, which included sticking their nose into their father's things.

Zia was little then, and she'd been playing with their gargoyle beast when she noticed her brother near the chair. He'd managed to find one of their father's arrowheads and was using it as a tool, scratching little bits of the wood away.

"Wha are ye doin?" She whispered, keeping her voice low. The gargoyle beast followed her, looming over the two hatchlings, tongue lolling.

"Wha's it look like?" The boy replies, then jabs the arrowhead in again. "It looks like yer makin a mess of mum's chair." Zia replies, the small gargoyle settling in next to her twin, not actually making any attempt to stop him. "Well, it's s'posed te be Da out huntin." He explains, although the crude lines don't resemble that at all. "It looks more like the beast, te me." She reaches for the arrowhead, and for a moment, her brother looks as if he might protest, but then he hands it over as she starts adding details to it.

Later that night, when the rest of the clan had returned, her mother had noticed the damage. She was about to scold the two children when her father chuckled to himself, looking at the carving, "Oh, Ah wouldnae blame them, love. It's clearly the work of a gargoyle beast markin his territory. See? Looks jus like 'im." Their father always had a way of trying to keep the hatchlings out of trouble.

She never did find out what happened to her aunt, her brother, or their beast. The three of them had left when she was still young, hoping to find some other gargoyles elsewhere in the Highlands. Had they ever found other clans, or...

In this of all places, she can't bring herself to think of the other option. Instead, her hand slides off of the chair, her feet talking her towards the footlocker, her tail ticking with nervous energy. This all feels as if she were on borrowed time, with no clock to tell her just how soon her time would run out.
Oathkeeper In memories of the old come moments of memory. Faint outlines of how this place used to be. As she touches that footlocker, she recalls how they'd sometimes have to shoo the Gargoyle Beast off of it when it would lay on there. It even has a claw-mark where it would scratch the thing while napping. Memories of where her mother would sit, and where so long ago, her father had stood while raising her up in the air like a proud man. There are many happy memories here...

But like ghosts, those images of the past disappear. Faces looking at her while they are all seated in their former spots, smiling at her; then disappearing one after another... in the very same order they disappeared from her life. In many ways, her life has been filled with family and friends just... leaving her. It's no wonder she dreads what would happen if Skoll would find his Golden Wolf. What would happen if the Shard Seekers broke up, or when too much time would pass...

People would leave her life.

After that moment of recalling the past, of those ghostly images in her mind, she might wonder. Just what was it they kept in the footlocker anyhow? If she opens it she'll surely remember. There, within it, lie two old swords made out of wood. One of them looks older than the other - but they're both still pretty sturdy looking. And there's even one of her aunt's old walking sticks with a dull spherical amber at the tip of it.
Zia An odd feeling washes over her as she touches the old footlocker. It's that cold that creeps up your spine when you hear something, only to turn around and find nothing there. Her pulse races in her ears. One by one, she sees them. So many faces that are gone or lost in the years between then and now. Maybe that is why she had reclused herself for so long. She'd been afraid of losing anyone else.

The end of the world had been a new beginning. It had given her the chance to break out of that shell, meet people, develop new friendships, and learn to love against all odds. With a shakey breath, Zia opens her eyes again, the room as empty as it had always been. "Ah wish tha Ah didnae have te say goodbye so soon, but... sometimes ye can only remember those who leave." She murmurs to herself, shaking her head. There's no one here but her and her own thoughts, and yet, somehow she felt like she needed to speak, if only to give some life to this place.

"Ah'm still afraid of losin them, but... Ah cannae live this life alone. It wouldnae be a life worth livin." Pressing her lips together, Zia turns back towards the box and opens it, looking within to find what were clearly the practice swords her father and brother used to train with. Her fingers reach for her father's old practice weapon, drawing it into her lap. It felt odd in her hands, but it was a part of her past as much as this place was.
Oathkeeper With the weapon her father used to wield comes a certain weight. It was heavier than her brother's, and certainly seemed to tell of his father's youthly strength even when she knew him. Her brother and her father would fight in front of the castle in the dark of the eve, lit by the moon. The sound of wood slapping wood and their wings open wide as they jumped around and laughed and played.

In a ways, Percival has now taken the spot of her brother now - even though he's not really that alike. But there is something she still has with her that seemed to come from his father...

A faint blue glow glimmers from the crystal around her neck, like water sputtering into the air and falling down a few inches before disappearing. The crystal remains right where it is of course. In such a dark place, the light of the crystal might be a warm reminder that even here, light continues to remain.
Zia Even though the weapon is only a wooden sword, it somehow feels good to have something in her hands. Being a mage often meant leaving yourself vulnerable, and right now, Zia felt vulnerable. The world around her felt dark and silent, and the presence of the Heartless near by is enough to make her uneasy.

There is a pang in her chest at the memory of watching her brother and father train. For so long, she'd wanted to be out there with them, rather than inside learning books and writing. She'd been too young to understand that learning was as important as training. Her parents had made a mistake, though, in trusting that they would be around to keep her safe. If she'd been a bit more prepared, maybe the world wouldn't have been such a frightening place on her own.

Leaning back, Zia gets to her feet, her hand still holding on to the wooden sword. Her father had taken such good care of their ancestral weapon, that he had never even showed her or her brother where he kept it hidden. Now, the secret board beneath the floor lies empty, and the blade now rests in Percival's hands. Just turning to head towards the stairs, Zia notices the crystal at her throat start to glow, and one hand reaches up to pull it from beneath her scarf.

"Well, at least Ah know some part of this world still lives. Maybe someday the rest of it will come back, too." Her hand closes around the light, but it might already be too late. With the Heartless keeping watch, it would be impossible for them not to notice the blue glow that had come from within the ruins.
Oathkeeper Indeed, the heartless had come to notice the light. There's not so much a sound outside, as that there is the 'approach' of them. Even within this land of darkness, for some reason Zia can feel them coming before those yellow eyes round the corners. Climbing on the side of the wall, climbing over the floor, climbing over what is left of a ceiling. They flood in from the front. This large room isn't a good place to defend herself... but there is somewhere else to go!

Behind her is the entrance to her aunt's tower. She could flee into there to get away from the heartless, at least for a little while. If she heads up into what was once her aunt's room - she'll find it almost as empty as when it'd been left. All that lies on the side is a small mantle and an ornate helmet that would have just gotten in the way on her travels. A golden looking wolf helmet. Had Zia perhaps worn it while playing once in a while? Where had it come from?

Either way, the heartless are still coming. And the wooden sword might not be the best weapon to try and hold them off. But it's worth a shot.
Zia The moment seems like it is drawn out of some horror film. Zia stands in the near-darkness, her face lit by the light of her crystal. Everything feels cold. Her breath hangs in the air as her ear shifts first, then her eyes. She takes a step, turning to face the doorway, which rattles a bit as the Heartless push against it. The hinges creek, and then the door gives way, clattering to the ground at her feet as the gargoyle steps back, back to the stairway, sword towards the oncoming Heartless.

She could try to face them here, but it would be a bad idea. Without her wings, she'd be at a bad disadvantage, and most of her weather magic would cause havoc with the crumbling ruins. So, Zia turns and races up the stairs instead, coming up into what was once her Aunt's personal quarters. Like much of the castle ruins, this place, too, has fallen into disrepair. The roof has given way in places, leaving access to the empty sky above.

Her wings flare out from her shoulders, her claws moving, clearly readying herself to launch up onto the remains of the tower-roof, but the sight of the helmet stops her just as one talon digs into stone.

The last time she'd seen it had been ages ago, when she was still young. For as long as she could remember, her mother's elder sister had been reclusive. The helmet, or so the stories told, had come from her mate, who had been killed by humans many years before. Zia was too young, then, to realize the importance of it. It had been a game between her and her brother, only to have them both shouted at and banned from the upper levels of the castle.

Why would it have been left behind? Perhaps her Aunt had wanted to close the door on that part of her life and start new, but it felt strange to see it abandoned up here, lost in the darkness. Without really thinking, Zia grabs it, slinging the helmet up onto her head, then begins to climb.

By the time she reaches the remains of the roof, the Heartless are already climbing the walls, making their way towards her. Without any understanding of the artifact that the Seeker had given her, Zia, instead, steels herself to face them, her heartbeat thumping in her ears. "Ye may have claimed this place, but ye cannae claim me." It's brave words, but she has to believe them. Her story cannot end here.
Oathkeeper Perhaps the Aunt had known something Zia had not. Perhaps words from her dreams which had come to float up into the real world from her lips. Or perhaps there was a far more complex story behind that very helmet now ending up in her hands, than Zia could even hope to grasp at. She has very little time to think about it all as the heartless indeed flood the steps up towards the castle - and move up along the walls. These are not just regular heartless. There are far larger heartless climbing up. What she's seen are emblems in the normal world - and a few Shadows.

These are far larger and more menacing Shadows. Something she isn't prepared for. Something nobody is prepared for yet! But that doesn't mean that her steeled heart will refuse to let her stand her own against them. One of them jumps up into the air and attempts to descend upon her. But her wooden sword-strike clobbers it back and stops it from reaching her. The bright like of her crystal grows stronger!

More of them try to overwhelm her, but the Gargoyle does better than she might have expected. Some of those tips from Faruja are perhaps coming in handy. But it almost feels like she has a hand guiding her strikes. And with each strike, there's a flash of blue. A flicker. A flicker not just brightening the area to show her the heartless, but also a light that reflects off of the sword she wields.

Is the spirit of her father helping her deliver these strikes? Then suddenly, a group of Shadows all jump at the same time, descending upon her. Time seems to slow. The flicker of her crystal seems to go out from the outside - their blackened bodies invading upon her space... further and further...

When suddenly there's an eruption of brilliant yellow lightning that slams into the ground around her and blasts the shadows away. And where was once her father's wooden sword, now lies a bronzed weapon in her hand. It feels weighted perfectly. It fits in her hand like a glove. It feels like it just... /belongs/ there.

What she holds in her hand... she knows its name. And around her, the four Shadows which had tried to jump her each have a red heart floating up into the air in response to its true name. Its true beaming. The three obvious prongs that come out from the side/tip of the blade. The obvious golden handle. She knows it indeed.
Zia The helmet had always seemed out of place, and perhaps the story that her parents had used to dissuade curious hatchlings had been just that: a story. Right now, she has no time to ponder the truth. The fit of the helmet covers most of her face and ears, leaving only her mouth and chin visible. If nothing else, it might help against the enemies who seem all too insistent as they close the distance.

It becomes all too clear that these are not normal Heartless. She'd encountered plenty of Shadows since the fall of her world, but these seemed far more dangerous than the usual sort that she had faced. Standing on the crumbling stone roof, a wooden sword in her hands, it seems like this might just be a last stand. Even if she were to run, this entire world has been lost to the darkness, and she would find no safe place anywhere within it.

The light of the crystal at her throat illuminates the area, letting her see them coming. Her heart pounds in her chest, fangs bared, talons gripping the weapon in front of her. "Alright then... come on." She murmurs. If this is meant to be the end, then at least she'll go down fighting.

Often, combat had tended to overwhelm her, but this time, Zia somehow manages to keep moving, watching for the leaps and lunges of the Heartless as they attack. The practice that she'd been given by Faruja, Percival, and even Skoll does seem to have come in handy now that it's put into real practice. She might not be quite at their level yet, but it's improvement. The sword swings out, a rush of wind magic knocking the Heartless back, and then she turns to face another.

Except that this time, the attack is far, far too many. Zia has only a few seconds to react, seeing them coming. She crouches, raising the sword, trying to fend them off. There's no time to cast a spell... or is there? Something power seems to come from the pit of her stomach, radiating out through her fingers. A thousand memories flood in quick, one-second intervals, like her life passing before her eyes up until this moment. "No." She growls, eyes flaring to white... and then the energy explodes.

In the aftermath, Zia slowly rises, trying to catch her breath. It takes a moment for her to realize just what happened. The weapon in her hand no longer feels like her father's wooden practice weapon. Her fingers tighten on the handle as her eyes look to the Keyblade. Well, the Seeker had said that she held the power to wield one, so it only comes as a mild surprise.

She moves, turning in place, keeping an eye on the Heartless. Weapon or no, there had to be a way out of here. There is no way one person can stand against this many enemies.
Oathkeeper When her Keyblade finally is out, her crystal stops looking quite so bright. Instead, from the corner of her gaze, she catches sight of another glimmer. This one in the carrier that she stored the little Star shaped item into. Of course, the Heartless are still coming. There's a little bit of roof she can clamber further on in an attempt to glide from here. But she'd just be gliding over the army of heartless - it wouldn't be very safe.

Perhaps the glowy star holds an answer? Sparkling with a bright beaming white with shreds of prism-like rainbow effects at their midst, it seems to call for her to grab hold of it and lift it to the air. The moment she does so, there's a mighty pull on her body, and space suddenly expands around her as she is taken into the Realm Between, kept within the safe halo of the star as it rockets forth with her holding it - to who knows where. Not knowing better, she probably will want to clutch hard on that Keyblade too.

Don't want to lose it!
Zia With a small flurry of activity, a small group of the Heartless are cleared from the path before her, allowing Zia to scale up to the last lingering remains of what might have been a far taller structure. The white gargoyle balances on a bit of stone, her wings naturally extending to catch the wind.

There is no where to go.

Zia's chest heaves slightly as she tries to catch her breath, looking down on the yellow-eyed shadows still trying to climb their way up to her small ledge. They'd find a way soon enough, and she'd end up overwhelmed. There /had/ to be an answer, right?

That's when her blue eyes catch sight of the glow from one of her bags, and Zia plucks out the strange, star-shaped object. She doesn't have time to question it. There is already a Heartless scrambling close to her feet. No time, no time! Her hand shoves into the air.

It feels like something tugging from the pit of her stomach, and all of a sudden she's shifted off-balance, only to find herself somewhere... else. Maybe, if Zia had actually taken Arthur up on those Gummi-ship lessons, she might have recognized the Lanes Between, but instead, she just clings to the star and the keyblade, eyes wide... out of the frying pan, into the...?

This scene contained 16 poses. The players who were present were: Oathkeeper, Zia