Prelude - The Heptagram - Ashera.   Posted by The Incarna.Group: archive Z
Nellens Ashera
 player, 26 posts
Tue 30 May 2017
at 21:40
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera glanced up as the Imp arrived, interruptingher as she settled in to nap after her meal.  She scowled at the creature with plain contempt as it spoke in her mother's voice  at the least, that spell didn't give her eyes to to see Ashera with. The dark-haired dragon let out a heavy sigh, before rubbing her hand over her face. ".... Yeah, okay, a reply....   I'm fine, not that you're going to take my word for it. I... guess I'll see you in a few days. Don't... really have much more to say than that. I'll be here." Ashera groaned, sat back, and waved her hand to send the imp messenger on its way.

One short but frustrated nap later, Ashera stirred awake and threw off the blankets, getting up and brushing herself off. Her knees still felt a little weak, and she wobbled at first, before finding her balance. Giving the robe she'd been dressed in a tug at the sash around her waist, she adjusted it slightly,  before shuffling over to the door to her room. She pulled it open and took a look beyond, seeking out one of the medical staff. She felt bad, sure, but at this point, it was jsut a matter of rest and recovery, and she really didn't like lying around an infirmary...
The Incarna
 GM, 403 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Sun 4 Jun 2017
at 22:15
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera

Arranging a return to her own room wasn’t difficult. The physicians had cleared her for bed rest as she had come out of the worst of her injuries from the accident. Her roommate as well had been kind enough to bring some of the study work that she’d missed during her coma, as well as a couple of books from the Dominie himself to help catch up her studies. The next couple days were a matter of rest and recovery, by the doctors’ orders.

It was the third day, when her mother was expected to arrive, that a message did arrive. A simple carrier imp, no usual spoken voice relay, with a package and a letter informing Ashera that she would be arriving in the evening, before dinner services was expected. The package itself was on of her mother’s usual self examination kits, standard for when Ashera had “unusual” incidents” back during primary school and her mother wanted to get some standard tests before she arrived.

Typical.

What was a surprise was the knock at the door in the late afternoon.
Nellens Ashera
 player, 27 posts
Mon 5 Jun 2017
at 01:13
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera was a bit surprised by her roommate's thoughtfulness - it wasn't what she was used to, and it wasn't something she was really prone to expecting or dealing with. Had she just decided to be nice given Ashera's injuries? Probably. It was pity, and Ashe wasn't exactly glad to be pitied by anyone.  She was accepting but also not really the most graceful or gracious roommate in return, but then she did prefer to keep to herself most of the time.

The delivery had been expected, but a bit later than she'd imagined - Ashe took the kit wordlessly and looked it over, scowling a bit at the idea of being experimented on and tested. She wasn't some research project, regardless of her origins - she'd put together plenty just from rumor, and more still, thanks to her Anima itself... and the events that had unfolded at the summoning ritual suggested even more possibilities to her, too...

Ashe put off using the kit and providing her mother's requested samples for the afternoon, so the early knock on the door of her room alarmed her a bit. She got to her feet and made her way over, opening it to check who was outside. She was wearing a light yukata, her own now that she was back in her room and out of the domain of the medical professionals. She had been resting, reading, and studying, it seemed?

"Yes?"
The Incarna
 GM, 406 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Tue 13 Jun 2017
at 21:04
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Standing there was Sorrowful Leaf, clearly a bit beleaguered and sleep deprived judging from the dark circles under her eyes. Clearly, she hadn’t slept much since the accident in the summoning hall, but her injuries were at least healing better than most. “I’m sorry for coming by at the odd hour, but after I’ve been trying to figure out what happened...I think we need to talk.”
Nellens Ashera
 player, 28 posts
Wed 14 Jun 2017
at 03:58
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera looked briefly surprised by seeing Leaf outside her door. Few people would bother to visit someone like her, and she least of all expected Leaf. She did notice, though, Leaf's distressed look, as well. Ashe frowned briefly, as Leaf spoke. She wasn't the most compassionate or sociable of people, but she did notice.

The moment of consideration was almost too long, before she stepped aside. "Alright. Come on in."  Ashe stepped back over to her desk, picking up a jade-encrusted pot, and a flame lit to life in her palm, into which she rested the kettle. "Let me get you some tea, I guess... I don't entertain much." She clarified, taking a seat. She motioned her free hand over to her roommates' desk.

She focuse don the pot for a few moments, before glancing back up at her visitor... "... For what it's worth... I'm sorry about what happened to your elemental friend... I know you've had it around a long time...?"

She turned her eyes back to her work. This was awkward... especially with Ashe actually trying to be a bit gentle with her. After all, it wasn't like Leaf was one of the ones who whispered behind her back...

This message was last edited by the player at 04:04, Wed 14 June 2017.

The Incarna
 GM, 412 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Tue 4 Jul 2017
at 23:53
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
The professor gave a thankful nod for the girl’s sympathy, but there were other matters they needed to speak on now, very important matters. “We need to talk about you, Ashera,” came what was probably not the first thing the young Exalt expected hear. “The fact you reacted to the entire event like that means that there’s something you and your mother haven’t been talking about in regards to your father and how you were born. I found details on something similar to this from five centuries ago, and the person involved wasn’t exactly normal, even for an Exalt.”

A pause, but she could see it in Ashera’s eyes. “Young one, I need to know exactly what’s going on, especially before your mother arrives, if what I suspect you've both been hiding is correct. This is for your own safety, and if I’m right, there’s far more going on than just a summoning mishap.”
Nellens Ashera
 player, 29 posts
Wed 5 Jul 2017
at 13:01
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera frowned gently as the instructor focused in, quite literally, on her. "Me...?" She gave her head a little shake, and stepped over to her bed, taking a seat on the edge of it. She hesitated  for a moment, but then, she reasoned, she did at least owe Leaf some kind of explanation for what had happened... "Yeah... I guess you seem to have some idea, so... hopefully she won't be too mad about me talking about it. I only know so much - what I've been able to figure out. She doesn't care to explain the details, even to me. I've gotten used to not having all the answers." she explained, with a shake of her head.

"I'm... sure you've probably heard the rumors. Yeah. I don't have a father. A Neomah made me, on her orders. I don't know who else contributed to me coming about, but I do know that my mother definitely did. I... also know that she probably did something pretty bad, in doing it." She said softly. "... Because I'm certain that, among the resources that went into me, she used a Garda Bird. Not just a donation from one, but an entire Garda Bird. My anima's... different than most. Plus, I can feel it, sometimes. Inside." she explained softly. "I developed my abilities with flame and my ability to use sorcery from this... elemental presence." she said, gently bringing a hand up to her chest, before looking up at Leaf.

"I think, at least, it doesn't resent me for its situation... I'm not sure if it's still alive or if it's just... power that's a part of me, now. I'd prefer that you keep all this to yourself, though... for obvious reasons. That, and I'll never hear the end of it if she finds out I mentioned this to anyone else..."
The Incarna
 GM, 420 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Fri 11 Aug 2017
at 04:18
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Dear sweet Dragons. This was worse than she’d feared. A Neomah, and a Garda Bird. That explained far too much about what had happened. What in the infinite circles of Malfeas had her mother been thinking? Such a child, with just the influence of the demon on its own, was bad enough. To put an Elemental into that mix? And one that clearly did not give itself willingly, since most Garda Birds were drawn to each other to fuse into a single new being.

“Your mother is also one of the younger Nellens senators appointed to the Deliberative, if I recall.” Seemingly unrelated, but Sorrowful Leaf had long ago learned that things which appeared to be unrelated could in fact be intricately connected at the deepest level. For example, a woman who delved into sorcery and had a career as one of the rising stars of the Deliberative had little time for managing a marriage and fulfilling her Realm obligations to bear more Dragon-Blooded. The Neomah made sense to a point; create an all but guaranteed to Exalt child without most of the breeding hassle, and cut out a possible hindrance of a husband who may or may not comply with what she had in mind

But...why the Garda Bird? If anyone else found out, let alone the possibilities of the Elemental Courts finding out, it would be, at minimal damage, a scandal. And that woman was expected to be arriving within hours. What in the Hells was going on?

“I think we need to go through as much as we can before your mother arrives, Ashera. For your own safety, and that of this school, I need to know everything
Nellens Ashera
 player, 33 posts
Fri 11 Aug 2017
at 17:27
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera peered across the room with a frown. "Yeah, but what does that have to do with anything?" she prompted, clearly not thinking quite so sharply about the potential issues of her mother's activities. To her, this was normal, it had always been this way - and she didn't really see anything of particular concern, beyond that her mother was far too secretive and controlling of her research...

Which did include Ashera...

The dark-haired dragon sighed, and shook her head gently, raising a hand to her temple, before lowering it back to her lap and focusing on Leaf. "...I gave you the best summary I could of everything I really know, but if you've got some specific questions that might help you..." she sighed. "Well, I can't exactly turn you down now, but Mother will be pissed if she knows I've leaked anything. I'll tell you whatever I can, I owe you that much. If you can, though - what did you mean there was something like this before, centuries ago? I don't suppose there's anything you can tell me about that?"

Ashe got up, and fetched the tea she'd prepped, pouring a cup of reach of them. She stepped over and offered Leaf the cup, then went back to her seat on the edge of her bed. She briefly lowered her eyes to the floor, turning her focus inward on the vibrant anima she felt inside her. Once Leaf spoke, though, her eyes would come up to her.
The Incarna
 GM, 421 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Sat 12 Aug 2017
at 06:29
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
It was inevitable for the research she had done into this entire mess to come up. The thing was, Leaf wasn’t so sure that Ashera was going to like what she was going to hear about this kind of...event. To be fair, it had disturbed even her when she’d read about it. Which is why she was hesitant to tell Ashera what it was she’d found. Because if the circumstance were at all similar, let alone the reasons why her mother had done this, it was very worrisome.

“Five hundred years ago, something similar was done, also using a neomah,” was how Leaf began, pausing for a moment to take a sip of the tea she’d been given. It was quite obvious that she was disturbed by what she was relating. “A cult out in the south, in Gem, in fact, was trying something by summoning the neomah to fleshcraft them a perfect living being, with the blood of a Dragon-Blooded to insure Exaltation, and fused in with an Elemental to give the child...special properties.” Another sip, that perturbed silence before she continued. “Nothing was absolutely confirmed, even then, but the strongest supported theory was that they were attempting to create a mortal born vessel for a powerful demon to break into our world by making an Exalt with Elemental essence infused in it.”

It didn’t need be said what was the outcome of that created child, nor of what the purpose of said suspected demon would have been. Leaf’s expression and how much relating this information bothered her was enough to say the rest. The old reports and information she’d found clearly had far more details that she was willing to relate.
Nellens Ashera
 player, 34 posts
Fri 18 Aug 2017
at 19:20
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera's expression shifted momentarily at the explanation offered. Part of that didn't really seem to make any sense, to her. The use of a Neomah didn't strictly give any direct connection to demonic entities, and an Elemental shouldn't provide any sort of conduit for Infernal powers... She didn't look immediately panicked or upset, but seemed more thoughtful, trying to puzzle over the story Leaf recounted to her.

"...I've never heard about this. I don't really know if I buy it as actually being something that makes any sense, though. An elemental wouldn't really be exploitable by a demon, in that sense, right? It'd make more sense for something like that to be done with a demonic infusion, rather than an elemental one. At least, to me. Still..." She gave her head a shake. "...It is an eerie similarity to my situation... Are you suggesting that my mother is trying to.. use me as a conduit to summon a powerful demon?" While one might've thought it impossible, Ashe's features became a bit more pale than usual, as she mulled the thought over, her heart pounding with tension. "She's never given me any reason to think that, though. Even when I decided to leave her and come to the Heptagram for my studies. She didn't want me to - but I was able to convince the rest of my family to allow it. Maybe that's why she didn't want me to come... and get out from her oversight?"

Ashe sighed, and looked up at Leaf, a bit of worry clear n her face, but she seemed to be holding it back pretty well, trying to be rational about the situation. It was maybe the first time that Leaf had ever seen her so clearly worried or afraid of something, though.
The Incarna
 GM, 427 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Sat 26 Aug 2017
at 21:17
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Too much was not pieced together right, but certain things were fitting in disturbing places. The question was, at this point, why did Ashera’s mother recreate the process through which Yozi cultists and Infernalists had attempted to summon their masters? At best, it had been arrogance that what they had used to serve the Yozis, she decide would serve some…purpose of hers. At worst...

Leaf didn’t even want to imagine that possibility. She needed to assure the young woman before her that things would be right, but too much was in her thoughts on the matter. And the ominous message that the Garda Bird had delivered...something was going on to the East in Cornelia.

There was a sharp and abrupt knock at the door. Not at all the usual polite rapping that one expected of the staff and students of the Heptagram, but a demanding and angry hard tap. Who, in this school, would announce themselves in such an unrespecting manner? Sorrowful Leaf took the chance to save Ashera some trouble after the revelations given to her and walked over to the dormitory door. She expected perhaps some harried or panicked messenger was standing there.

Instead, the door swung to reveal a woman with shiny jet black hair, dark eyes, and an expression that said volumes of her attitude; “don’t defy me.” Leaf knew well who this was.

“Senator Nellens Cyan, what a pleasant surprise. We weren’t expecting you until later this evening ”

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:22, Sat 26 Aug 2017.

Nellens Ashera
 player, 36 posts
Sun 27 Aug 2017
at 21:04
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
The knock on her door made Ashera jump, and the dragonblood's eyes gave a little flutter as Leaf got up to get the door.  She was more surprised by the person on the other side - not that she wasn't expected, but, as Leaf intoned - she hadn't expected her so soon. Ashe stood, and took a deep breath. "... Mother. You're early." She said, her voice a bit numb save a hint of surprise. She tried to calm her nerves, nerves that Leaf had set on end just moments ago. She'd learned her mother may be using her to some truly nefarious end rather than as some simple experiment, and now she was supposed to keep her cool in front of her? Fate was cruel.

"I... trust your trip was uneventful?" She frowned slightly. Even before learning what she had, she wouldn't think for a moment that her mother would be worried about her. If anything, she was only concerned for the well-being of her experiment... or worse?

-----
Ashera rolls 3 total successes on an Appearance + Socialize roll to try and hide her nerves.
(Spent 4m personal, 1 wp on the Dragon Excellency as part of doing so)

The Incarna
 GM, 428 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Sun 27 Aug 2017
at 21:35
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
The Senator idly glanced at Sorrowful Leaf, then gave a sigh as she all but pushed her way past the professor and focused her attentions on Ashera. “I trust you gathered all the needed tests with the kit I sent ahead for you, I have little time for the nonsense they’ll give me here for any information I want.”

Blunt, straight to the point. No voicing concern for her well being, no attempt at familial affection...not even a simple greeting. This was not a mother, but a heartless woman who was concern only with her own agendas, whatever they might be.

Dark eyes shifted just before Nellens Cyan turned her head back toward Leaf, who was still standing done at the door, her own expression restrained indignation  “If you’re one of the infirmary staff, I’m sure she’s fine and doesn’t need your uninformed aid. I have things from here.”

And condescending toward anyone else. Even most Dynasts were nowhere this conceited. Leaf was pretty sure that such an attitude was not typical of the Deliberative. Especially the Lesser House. “Remember that we need to speak later about your projects, Ashera. Please don’t be too late.” Her own bark brown eyes narrowed as she made her exit and closed the dorm room door behind her.

It was silent following Leaf’s departure, and after taking a moment to turn the lock on the door, Cyan returned her attention to her daughter. Her eyes and the expression on her face said she was feeling very put out right now to have to be here. “Now that we have this time properly, tell me what the hell happened. Not the drivel about a summoning mishap and an explosion. I want the truth. What stupidity did they attempt on you?”

Yes, all business indeed.

[Private to Nellens Ashera: It's pretty obvious that Mother Dearest isn't too concerned with how nervous anyone is, nor is paying attention to such.]
Nellens Ashera
 player, 37 posts
Sun 27 Aug 2017
at 21:57
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera scowled a little as she watched Leaf hustled from the room with her mother's vicious  barbs at her back. It was nothing she'd not seen before, but, for once, Ashera felt some pity for the one on the receiving end of it. Leaf didn't deserve it in the slightest. "...Alright, Leaf. I'll check in with you later." she said before the door shut.

Once she was left with her mother, Ashe folded her arms and glanced aside. She hadn't even opened the kit - she didn't have any intention of cooperating before, and she had less now, after what Leaf had told her. Still... "They didn't do anything to me. I attended an observation session on summoning, and things went awry. That's it, nothing else to tell." Ashera answered, looking back to the dark-haired senator.

She avoided mentioning the kit her mother had sent for the moment. If her mother was keen, she'd note it tucked half-hidden beneath the bed, still sealed. Ashe took a sip of her tea, then put her cup down, and stepped over to clean up Leaf's cup. "... I felt like I was burning from the inside out, and I blacked out from the pain. Then, I woke up in the infirmary." She shook her head slightly. "That's all." She sighed quietly. The only one doing anything to her was her mother...
The Incarna
 GM, 429 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Mon 28 Aug 2017
at 07:35
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Cyan’s eyes flickered with purple-black light for an instant, and during that split second, the essence in the room shifted. She glared at her daughter, judgmental in her study as her lips all but sneered. Any sign of a lie, and she’d know it...but it wasn’t there. So all she could do was gather the truth from what Ashera had told her.

“I suppose the instructors here really have become that incompetent if they couldn’t handle a simple summoning like that,” Cyan said with a tone of disappointment in her voice. Her eyes caught sight of the unopened kit peeking out from under Ashera’s bed, and her brow furled. But she clearly wasn’t that surprised. “Since you’re physically intact, and you haven’t shown any lasting psychological trauma, I’m going to just further assess this as something to not consider high priority. However...”

That pause. Something had peaked her mind about what Ashera had said, and it had taken a moment to really click. “You said you felt as if you were burning from the inside...I’m curious, Ashera. What kind of summoning did they perform? A demon wouldn’t have caused this kind of misfire if they had lost control...”
Nellens Ashera
 player, 38 posts
Tue 29 Aug 2017
at 04:30
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera bit her lip gently at her mother's words. She seemed pretty confident that demon-summoning wouldn't have done anything to her. Or maybe it would've been far worse, if it had been demon-summoning? Ashe didn't know, and she didn't trust her mother enough to ask her, right in the moment.  Heart pounding under her questioning, Ashe turned back to her. "Something like that, at least. It was painful. I think I managed to ignite my anima to protect myself, but I'm not sure if that's what kept me alive, or not. Honestly, a lot of that is a complete blur from the pain... " She said softly. "It was intended to be an elemental summoning sit-in, but the whole process started going strange halfway through. I'm pretty sure they were going for an earth elemental, but fire seemed to just erupt on its own and take over the summoning..." She shook her head. She wanted to avoid talking about the message, if she could... "That's about all I can remember."
The Incarna
 GM, 430 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Wed 30 Aug 2017
at 22:18
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Those dark eyes narrowed again. Cyan could tell there was something not being said here, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. The very thought that her creation was hiding something from her was almost anathema; such a preposterous idea that Ashera would have that kind of defiance. Then again, considering how long the girl had been out from under her constant supervision ever since entering primary schools, and now the Heptagram...

“I’ll investigate the matter further on my own terms, then. I’ve not heard of an elemental summoning going awry like that.”

Another knock at the door. Cyan gave a growl while signaling for her daughter to leave it to her, then walked over and opened the door. Surprisingly, one of the school staff was standing there, looking rather exasperated. “I apologize, Senator Nellens, but we just received a message for you from the Imperial Palace, they’re requesting your expertise in an investigation.”

“What incompetence of the palace would require me to-“

“It is by command of the Empress herself, there was an attack at the naming ceremony of V’neef’s newest child.” The man was clearly bothered, and hesitated before continuing. “Infernalists were involved, Senator, the Empress requests your experience in the matter.”

That got Cyan to go silent in an instant. She looked back at Ashera, here eyes wide at the knowledge now of what had happened, and what was being asked of her. After a long moment, she returned her sight to the man and nodded. “I of course am at the service of our great Matron. I’ll leave at once, my personal matters can of course wait.”

Once the door was shut, Cyan resumed her silence. It was a long time before she finally looked back to Ashera, revealing her pale face and eyes wide with worry. “I’ll correspond with you later on this, Ashera. My services are…required by the Empress.”
Nellens Ashera
 player, 39 posts
Sat 2 Sep 2017
at 04:56
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera took a deep breath as someone else knocked on her door. That was three in one day. Even her roommate didn't get this many visitors in one day - generally, Ashera's reputation kept anyone anyone away from her room, for the most part. This was decidedly uncomfortable for her.

Still, it seemed that her Mother was going to be called away, she realized. She had a reprieve from her smothering demands. Ashe managed not to exhale her sigh of relief - not yet. Still, as she listened closer, she frowned at the troubling circumstances. V'neef's child's naming? What would infernalists want attacking a child's celebration? Maybe to send a message? Still... she couldn't shake the worrying feelings about her mother. If her mother was an expert on infernalism - had she instead become an infernalist? The possibility was in her mind, now. It was certainly true she had summoned demons in the past... but what her mothers' intent could be - Ashe was under no illusions about her mother's heartless nature. Still... she hoped that all this was wrong...

For her own sake...

Ashe glanced back to her mother as the senator addressed her. "Of course, Mother." Ashe said softly, giving a slight bow of familial acknowledgement. She considered saying more - but no, the less she said, the better. In truth, she wished she didn't have to speak to her at all...

This message was last edited by the player at 04:34, Wed 06 Sept 2017.

The Incarna
 GM, 436 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Wed 6 Sep 2017
at 04:29
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
At least the girl was presenting obedience. That wa, for now, satisfactory for Cyan as she gathered her belongings and took one last cursory look at the dorm room. "I will send word once I know what's going on. The timing of this attempt on the V'neef household and the incident with the Elemental are a little too coincidental for my tastes. I'll wish all information you can gather, in case it helps my investigations."

A final nod of farewell, and Nellens Cyan departed, leaving Ashera to herself once more. The room was for the most part, silent.

It was some time later, when Cyan had for sure left the Isle of Voices, that Sorrowful Leaf knocked on the door, then slowly opened it. She was clearly concerned about Ashera, being she hadn't waited to be let in. "If you're feeling alright, Ashera...I think you'll want to come with me. There's something you need to know, that we just found out about."
Nellens Ashera
 player, 41 posts
Wed 6 Sep 2017
at 06:08
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
With her mother gone, Ashe had confined herself to her room, hoping her mother wouldn't care to drop in before she left the Isle. She felt sure that Cyan would be gone by day's end. Ashera, with little else to occupy her mind, brooded on the anxieties the day had introduced her to. She'd always known she was different, but it seemed that her origins were dark and troubled - more dark and troubled than even her tormentors realized. She wasn't merely demon spawn - she had been made for some dark purpose, if what Leaf had learned was to be believed.  She didn't want any such purpose, though... so what did that mean? Was her simple existence a threat to the order of things?  For all her learning, this was beyond Ashera's wisdom. It was enough that she actually felt a bit of fear in her normally strong heart. The taunts and snickers of her peers, whispered in hushed tones about her demonic origins, the fear she seemed to strike in others, the cold shell of exclusion that nearly everyone directed her way... None of that ever bothered her in any way she'd admit. She'd become inured to that pain. Besides - she wasn't alone...

But this dark realization was different. It was different, because for all her pain at the jeers directed at her... maybe it was true. Maybe she was some kind of monster - or at the least, was someone's attempt to make one. Or Summon one. What could she do about it...? She didn't know anywhere near enough to understand what kind of situation she was in - only enough to know that she knew too little, and enough to fear what she didn't know... really fear, a fear that she never felt, save for about her awful mother...

Initially pacing with her thoughts, Ashera restlessly resolved herself to calm, and took several deep breaths, to try and center herself. She needed to clear her mind and think. She needed to focus, if she was going to accomplish anything.  She stepped to her fireplace, and knelt down onto her hands and knees, glancing into the fire, before she leaned in and pressed her hand to the dull embers inside. A flare of warmth erupted from her hand, and in moments, a strong fire burned hot in front of her. Ashe didn't pull back from the blast of heat or the intense glow, and instead, she slid closer, nearly crawling into the fire itself before she stopped. Ashera brought her hand to her chest, over her quickened heart, and drew a deep breath in, tasting hints of smoke from the flame, and then let out her breath softly, her whole body relaxing a little as she worked to meditate.

Even, calm breaths, Ashe told herself as she stared into the fire, enough that she felt the heat shimmer make her eyes water slightly. She was always so busy, now, ever since she'd started coming to the Heptagram. There were always papers to write, work to do, and, even when she was free, a roommate not to freak out...  Closing her eyes, Ashe lowered her chin and focused inward rather than outward, and her hands gently dipped into the fire before her, as her anima shimmered briefly around her in an echo of the fire's heat haze. She scooped a glowing handful of flame from the pit, and drew it close, feeling the heat of it against her breast as she held the fire against her. Her anima shielded her body and her clothing from harm, save a mild singe and a hint of soot, but the warmth of it ran through Ashera's entire body, and she visibly relaxed more in her meditative posture.

She wasn't alone - she was never alone. She had felt it even as a little girl, even before she exalted, a warm flame in her heart, a strangely kind glow that distinctly didn't feel like herself. For ages, she'd been confused by it. Once, she'd thought it meant she was exalted, but that delusion didn't last long... In her girlhood, it had been a feeling she attributed to an imaginary friend... And when her mother had at last been forced to confess her origins to her in the face of a distraught daughter plagued by rumors, Ashera had worried about what this fire inside her was...  It wasn't until she exalted, until she'd seen her Iconic Anima, that she'd begun to understand the nature of the fire in her soul.

Things had happened so fast after her exaltation. She'd spent so much time alone with herself, with her essence. So much time trying to sense more about the presence inside her... And in doing so, she'd become one with its flame, to a point. She wasn't even sure when it had happened, but her familiarity with fire had awakened her to the powers of Sorcery without even a true understanding of them -  it had taken her mother to realize it, watching her demonstrating her abilities, Cyan had seemed... interested, in that cold, clinical, monsterous way of hers. There'd been a lot of writing, a lot of questions, and a lot of... examinations after that...

A sickening twist in her stomach prompted a hesitation, and a chill ran down Ashera's spine at the thought of her mothers' cruel examinations. Taking her blood, examining her body, subjecting her to tests... Forcing her to burn her essence just to be studied in the process... Now, it was almost routine, but as a girl, she'd been sickened, scared, humiliated by it...

Breathe... Ashe told herself. She exhaled, and a tea slipped down her cheek, before evaporating from the heat. Somehow, this fire inside her had connected her to the flow of essence in the world, more deeply than Dragonblooded, more naturally than Sorcerers... She was the fire...

After a long and anxious search, though, Ashera found what she was looking for, inside herself. Wounded and flickering, she could feel the presence inside her, and a smile crossed her meditative face. Recognition. And concern. She drew the fire closer against her body with a soft breath. "...It's alright..." she whispered. "... You're okay..." She didn't know if this particular elemental could restore itself with flame against her body, but she was willing to try and let it - it had ever been her only real friend, even though no words had ever passed between them. Maybe, at least, the heat would soothe it, as it was soothing her?

Or, that was her intention, for it was then that the door opened, and Sorrowful Leaf walked in to a truly strange sight - Ashera sitting cross-legged, having nearly crawled into her fire pit. And Ashera, clutching flame against her breast as if it were a heavy and very warm blanket.  Ashera's eyes fluttered open, and very quickly, her cheeks burned at the awkwardness of the moment.  She gently shed the flame back into the fireplace, and brushed her hands over her clothing, cleaning soot from the fabric. The scent of flame was strong in the air of the room, a clean and calming scent...

"L-Leaf?" Ashera stuttered a bit in surprise, her eyes widening as she shifted onto her feet and quickly stood, her lip tense as she focused on the instructor with a nervous expression. Her eyes gave a little flutter of awkwardness, and she remained blushing at the situation she'd been found in, with no real explanation to give...  She felt her stomach twisting again, expecting to feel judgement for the state she'd been found in.

Then again, it could've been worse...

"I... wasn't... expecting company." she uttered as the only excuse she could really conjure, and she lowered her head gently. It took her a few moments to really digest Leaf's invitation, though. She stepped over to her, and spoke softly. "I... I'm okay..." It was a lie - she'd been mulling over all of her anxieties in the wake of new ones added to the list, and she was anything but okay. But Leaf was right, she needed to know more. And right now, that was more important than being okay. Ashera answered her again, with a little nod this time. "I'll.. I'll go with you. What is it, though? What did you find?" she asked, her tone concerned, heart starting to quicken a little as she found herself anticipating something even worse...

It would be just her luck, after all...

This message was lightly edited by the player at 21:56, Sun 10 Sept 2017.

The Incarna
 GM, 440 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Sun 10 Sep 2017
at 19:40
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera was clearly nervous. No doubt, her mother's visit, coupled with the information Leaf had given her before, had been very unsettling, especially after all she'd been through. But she deserved to hear what they'd just been told, the truth that they had finally surmised behind what had happened.

"This regards the Garda bird that caused everything. Specifically, with what they call the Cradle, the place where the original Great Garda shattered into the multitudes we know now." She led the way down the hall, taking Ashera on a course out of the dormitory and toward the center tower of the school. As all at the Heptagram knew, that was the home of the Dominie himself, and to his offices. That the Great Hall was the bottom chambers of the tower was of secondary importance.

"The nation of Cornelia rests in the place that the Garda call their birthplace, and they've been allowed a deal of independence from the Realm due to their distance and the fact that it's also the resting place of a very important hero from the fall of the Anathama." Leaf was silent as a group of students walked by, now waiting until they had entered the tower and were safely alone. "Dominie Bhagwei just received confirmation about an hour ago, Cornelia has been invaded by enemies of their nation and the Realm...and it seems that their ruler was killed in the assault. The dominie wishes to speak with you on something very important...and he's going to be consulting with the Empress once all the panic from this assassination attempt calms down."
Nellens Ashera
 player, 43 posts
Sun 10 Sep 2017
at 22:03
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera walked quickly with Leaf from her dorm, and across the grounds with a fluster of nervousness. Despite her worries, though, she pressed on with focus, lending her ear to Leaf's explanations with a growing curiosity. Leaf was managing to shed a pale light on the vision she'd seen, hints, at least, of what she'd seen...

"Cornelia. So it's a real place..." she mused softly, biting her lip. "If it's as important as that, especially to the Garda Birds, than I can understand how that might've been so dire as to possibly impacted the essence of a Garda Bird. I'm still confused about how and why the summoning gave this... vision a conduit to me, though..." Ashe said softly, giving her head a shake, and went quiet along with Leaf as a group passed by, and the two of them entered the central tower.

She paused, and stared at Leaf. "The... Dominie wants to see me? I can... understand that, given what you've just told me. But.. the Empress, too?" she shook her head, clearing that thought. Later. "... Alright. Let's not keep him waiting." she chimed, and quickly started up toward the Dominie's office, familiar enough that she didn't need Leaf to directly lead her along for this trip.
The Incarna
 GM, 441 posts
 Sol Invictus, Luna, Gaia
 and the Maidens.
Sun 10 Sep 2017
at 22:38
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
He was waiting there, speaking to a small messenger cherub when they entered. Bhagwei held his hand for the. To wait as he continued to dictate to the sorcery born messenger, then sent it on its way before turning his attentions to Leafind and Ashera.

"I'm assuming that Leaf has filled you in on the message we received and how it relates, in our investigations, to what happened." He didn't need an answer as he walked over to the two women from his desk. His face was one heavy with worry and clearly a lack of rest.  "I hope to speak with the Empress further once matters at the Palace have settled, but for now, we need to discuss you, Nellens Ashera. And what service you will undertake once your studies have completed."
Nellens Ashera
 player, 44 posts
Mon 11 Sep 2017
at 02:39
Prelude 01 - The Heptagram - Ashera
Ashera hesitated at the door, and was glad she did, when she caught the Dominie's gesture for her to wait. She took a deep breath, already a bit nervous at whatever was going on. She was involved in something she still didn't fully understand - but whatever it was seemed to have fallen to her due to her unique origins. Ashe rested a hand over her racing heart for a moment, and then, when she was invited in, she stepped into the room with Leaf.

"Dominie." She began, gently giving a deferential gesture to the headmaster  before turning her attention about the room. "Leave has told me a bit - Iknow that apparently, the place I saw was actually attacked, and recently. Honestly - I  don't really feel like it's coincidence, either.  I can't really explain that." She said softly.

Ashe focused on the Dominie as he mentioned her service. Of course. It was her one hesitation about the academy, but it had seemed worth it at the time to get out from under her mother's thumb. Now, though, even the Academy seemed unable to keep her away from Cyan...

"My service... of course. It's going to relate to this whole business with Corneria, isn't it? It makes sense, I was the one who had the visions..." She shook her head. "I'll.. do it, of course, but... maybe you should finish... what exactly is it you want me to do?"