A/N: Standard disclaimer applies. Character names were taken from real players of pRFO.
Night came to cast a pale darkness on the Novus planet with the easy grace and unhurried pace of one who was strolling in the woods to kill time. Consequentially, the daylight withdrew itself from the plains, an aurora appearing with its ever-flowing luminescence to light up the dim sky. Along with it, the pale outline of two distant satellites came into view to offset the large, bright, cratered façade of the moon Hayress, which was peeking behind a high plateau.
Hayress' borrowed luminosity washed the high, imposing towers and winding stone pathways in the heart of the Holy Alliance of Cora's territory---its headquarters, a city named Luce. The distributed shimmer created a breathtaking and serene effect that made one's heart feel content and at peace. Adding to a sense of tranquility, shadows of the tall, standing towers cast itself all over the city. It would have otherwise caused eeriness were it not for the swiftly running purple or white lights that lined the streets.
Rivers passed furiously miles underneath the beams and arched passageways, giving off the faint calming scent of fresh water and the dim roar of flowing water. Moreover, this served as the metropolis' cooling system during days when the daylight decided to get nasty and hot.
Everywhere, the colony's emblem stamped itself---to the highest towers down to the low shiny floors, on the doors of each dwelling to the elaborate citadel in the middle of the city that served as the Elders' and Council's dwelling and office, and on the Alliance's many airships to its variedly-classed denizens.
Corites, as these denizens were called, were, as of the moment, scattered sparsely in the pathways, dwellings and lounges of the sprawling metropolis. Almost deserted the city was for most of the inhabitants were equipped with their battle armors and weapons, fighting for the momentary control of the Crag mines. Despite that, the city was still bustling with stifled activity. Raucous laughter could be heard every now and then. Clinks and clanks could be heard from the artisans at work in their shops. Stockades of potions, armors, ammunition, and weapons were frequented. The portals lighted up constantly as it announced the arrival or transport of Corites to and from the Crag. Adding to that, the wounded were steadily brought in and were sent to infirmaries to be doctored back to health and full-functioning.
This city housed Cora's denizens in its walls. For centuries to count, these elfish people stayed in the city to rest and regain their strength during or in the aftermath of each battle. They talk and hangout with their comrade-in-arms, prepare for the never-ending battle in Crag, fall in love with strangers or years-old friends, have families, or even just live the days by. It was their most precious and private dominion, their secluded city, their home. These beautiful and proud people lived their lives inside like one with few problems for they believed strongly that DECEM would bring them salvation in the end. They did not fear for their precious and ancient lives for in their ornate domain; they faithfully believed they will be protected from all harm and evil. Most were joyous and felt a sense of tranquility despite the war outside. Nothing could disturb their peace. It could not be helped; when you were at home you felt peace… for there, you belonged.
Such was not the case for everyone. As was universally know, there would always be exceptions in any situation. That was reality… that was nature. Exceptions indeed their case was for not in the darkest recesses of the normal mind of an ordinary Corite would their deeds and beliefs dwell.
Up in the shadowy paths of the city, a figure stood silhouetted against the moon. The bangs of his jet-black hair ruffled loosely against the high breeze. His robes billowed freely, revealing the heavy armor of a ranked and experienced Templar. Intense, lack-luster, hazel-green eyes gazed in silence to the streets down below, his sight directed towards the fresh and heavy influx of weary, battle-worn Corites who were coming out of the rear portal, apparently from the now-finished Chip Wars in Crag.
One of the new arrivals raised his voice and shouted a declaration that broke through the low bustling noise of the city. "We have taken Crag!"
It took a while for the news to travel through the metropolis but soon reached most ears. Moments later, hoots of joy echoed through the halls in response to the news. The noise escalated to a higher intensity as self-congratulations, praises for the warriors who have staked their lives for the victory, and triumphant laughter swept through the entire populace.
"Thank you Almighty DECEM!" another voice gratefully shouted with a note of passion and relief; a statement which many seconded.
The Templar clamped his jaw as soon as the statement registered on him. "DECEM…," he uttered venomously.
With one last glance of contempt at the celebrating crowd, he turned swiftly from the scene and headed high up, no longer able to withstand the praises for DECEM he was hearing. His footsteps fell purposefully, his eyes blazing in suppressed anger as he walked the windy pathways of heights.
Silence was everywhere in the higher part of the city. It was a place most Corites did not know; more so, rarely ever go to. Only a few of the ancients were well aware of the streets and dwellings that existed up above the metropolis. Suffice it to say, it was a deserted and unknown place in Luce.
"Northenio…," a feminine voice called softly from somewhere behind him. He stopped in his tracks but did not turn to face the speaker.
"We have won the battle it seems," Northenio muttered dully. Apparently, he recognized who she was. A look of disgust crossed his face. "…It's all thanks to DECEM," he added acidly.
"Foolish," the blue-eyed blond replied with enough frostiness to make a man's blood run cold. Her untied hair, which fell below her bottom in one shiny cascade and complemented her tight-fitting garments that showed more than they covered, swayed along with her hips as she walked towards him, her gait with cat-like grace. "They are still blinded…"
He laughed bleakly. "Blinded they forever will be, it seems, Viene…"
A moment of silence passed between them with only their shallow breathing as sounds that could be heard for miles around and below. They stood unmoving, pondering on their own thoughts. Hayress' luminescence bathed them eerily, giving their profiles a jagged sense of ferocity.
Finally, Viene sighed, her eyes, like his, dull and jaded. "Best let them be… We should not care for them. We are not a part of them. They have ostracized us, us who had been enlightened. Doom will befall on them for their foolishness," she muttered with spite.
"Ostracized…," he repeated, anger burning the words as it came out.
"Yes. In their eyes, we will be damned for eternity when in reality, it is they who are damned," she added tonelessly, her blue eyes turning frosty.
With savageness, Northenio tore his robe and his upper armor along with his shirt off to expose the broad expanse of his muscled and battle-scarred back. Imprinted at the base of his neck was a symbol, scorched, it seemed, by a metal rod…
Or by magic…
Viene gasped at the sight of the raw and red skin. "What have they done to you?!" she asked fiercely, appalled and enraged at the inhumane deed.
"Kahn said it was to mark the damned," he replied icily and proceeded to quote Cora's Mistress with hatred in every uttered word, "For we, who have renounced our faith and belief of the God of Darkness, DECEM; we, who are, as she calls it, blasphemous... we will, for eternity, be UNFORGIVEN in the eyes of the Elders and all of Cora."
Lightning flashed brightly across the sky as if in agreement to the condemning utterances of the Elder Quiane Kahn. The low clouds that were but cruising silently and inconspicuously across the evening sky had convened to shelter the moons from the Corites' eyes and bring about a uncommon darkness in Luce. Soon, rain precipitated from the clouds and came pelting heavily with enough force to cut through the skin and brought a strong gust of howling wind along with it. The rain created a din that drowned out all noises, even the sound of one's own heartbeat.
In silence, the two of them stood unmoving as though they did not notice the heavy water dropping on their heads and the wetness it brought, nor the chill that was driven by the wind into the core of their bones deep beneath their pale skins.
Viene was still gazing at the symbol, wondrous and at the same time feeling a twinge of repulsion. As the water came to wet it, it flared a flaming red, like that of glowing hot lava. No doubt. It was indeed scorched by magic, a character to mark the damned. And maybe, also to mark the---
"Accursed…," Viene whispered softly.
Accursed. To call upon a curse on them. Viene gritted her teeth in a feeble attempt to suppress the anger that flared from the depths of her bleak soul. It enraged her to think that the Elders would have the audacity to brand them infidels more so to curse them with---as it may be the only logical thing---eternal damnation or anything with the likes of it when, all this time, it was they, the Elders, who had done such a great wrong on them.
"Why did you let them do this to you?" she inquired with barely controlled ire and a tinge of bewilderment.
Acting like though he had not heard, Northenio snatched his shirt, robe and armor from the wet floor. He put on his shirt, not bothering to button his shirt up. Lugging his heavy armor with one hand, he started to walk ahead into the sheet of rain, his footsteps, almost inaudible due to the din the rain was making, fading away quickly.
Staring at the spot where Northenio had stood, Viene did not move for a moment. She felt confused, bewildered, and angry. Along with these, anxiety crept inconspicuously into her heart. The symbol. Northenio's unresponsiveness. It did not sit well with her. A hint of doom seemed to surround these elements.
Sighing, she walked towards the direction were Northenio had gone. Her sight sought for any indication that Northenio was just up ahead; his ebony hair that would now be lank and wet due to the rain, his robe that would be billowing courageously but not fully against the wind, or his glistening metal and leather armor. Not even the shadow of them could be seen. There was only the endless sheet of rain and the familiar darkness.
She had lost track of Northenio but it was of no consequence to her. Northenio… To doubt Northenio. Perhaps it would be best not to think of such thoughts. What good would it bring to harbor any suspicion to the only person she could rely on. Trusting Northenio would be the right thing to do. It was the wise thing to do. It was the loyal thing to do. With that she tried to clear her thoughts and blankly trudged along, allowing memory and the steeply ascending stone pathways to guide her feet to her destination.
Soon, several distant specks of dimly pale yellowish light blurred heavily by the rain came into view. Camino, their guild castle, must be near. Despite herself, Viene felt a sense of peace come over her and the despair she was feeling was finally and completely washed away by the unrelenting outpour of the rain.