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  #1  
Old 01-10-2009
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The Second Union

"Heh ... perhaps mere 'potential' was an underestimation of your ability, Alyrian. I had hoped to be freed of those mortal wizards with a vessel under my control. And here it seems I've become bound to you, instead. Tell me ... how can that be?"

Alyrian's eyes flipped open. The first thought that passed through his mind - how bitter, how merciless the cold was around him. His body lay upon a sheet of what seemed like endless snow, in all directions; in the distance, he could even make out what appeared to be two mountains of ice, slamming into each other with a terrible ferocity, sending an avalanche of frozen death onto any unlucky enough to be caught in its path. Where was he? How did he get here?

The voice inside his head spoke quietly, but not without a resounding air of superiority.

"Oh ... so being joined with one of my kind is not new to you, is it? This Phaedriel ... how clever, to use her own son as an anchor. But it seems you don't quite share my amusement with your mother as I do. A pity."

Vazbanicus. The name came rushing back, and along with it all that had transpired - his deluded state of magic addiction, his outburst at the enclave, his imprisonment and torture by the Thayan Master Alcazar Tel'Rune ... and his escape, thanks to Vazbanicus' intervention.

"You will find that I am much more forthcoming than she was, dear heart. How that pet name does rile you ... I promise, I won't refer to you as that again."

"How ... how do you know -- ?"

"Simple, Alyrian. We are joined together, our minds share this one body. Our past experiences, all our memories - they are like open tomes for each other to peruse, and yours is quite the read. Unfortunately for me, it seems you hold the reins to your physical form this time; it shames me to admit it, but your mother was - at least in this sense - a more formidable opponent than I."

Still trying to make sense of what happened, Alyrian stumbled to his feet and was immediately hit by a blast of unbearably frozen wind, taking the air right out of his lungs.

"Do try not to damage it too badly, my friend. After all, both our existences are tied to your form - and I'm certain you would not want to die here. Not here, not in the frozen wastes of the archduke, the Lord of No Mercy ... not in Cania, Eighth of the Nine, realm of Mephistopholes."
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  #2  
Old 09-03-2009
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Months later...

The words were out of his mouth before he even realized what he was saying, but he meant them with all his heart. They were spurred on by Tamryn's confession that she would soon be ascending, called home ... leaving forever.

He offered to her, his very essence, his sense of self - his soul. All in the hopes that perhaps she would not leave him for good. That maybe there was still a chance; even if it was just a glimmer of a fading light. He offered to sacrifice everything he had fought for - his power, his blood ... his magic. He offered them to Tamryn with a determined resolution he had not felt in ages.

Tamryn ... Tamara ... they were one and the same in his eyes. His greatest enemy, and greatest fear. His greatest joy. His greatest hope. All that had kept him going through the darkness, even as he fought against her, struggled against all that she stood for.

Days after he had mad her this offer, he was still so confused. Once again, he was so... hopelessly lost. Why was he offering this? Why, when just moments before, when she stood there judging him unworthy - why was he doing this?!

A second voice stirred in his mind, one that was not his own. Alyrian silenced it with ease, not caring to hear it. Alyrian had long since grown weary of the devil Vazbanicus, tired of his endless machiavellian attempts to wrest control of his body away from him. But Alyrian had learned much from his experience with Phaedriel. Never again would he allow another's mind to dominate his own. Never again, would his body be used for another's purposes. Tifton had given him that safety. And he had learned well.

The night sky was dazzling in the ascent to the Spine of the World. Selune and her tears streaked across a midnight canvas, joined by shining stars. Against this landscape, Alyrian pondered his offer, and what it would mean for him. To lose all his power - to lose his birthright, his magic - that which was his by blood ... the thought was almost overwhelming, if he were not so determined to see it through. To go through existence as nothing more than a meaningless speck, powerless to effect anything ...

For the first time in a long time, Alyrian felt cold fear jolt down his spine.

The second voice murmured once more, but fell silent underneath Alyrian's will. Perhaps Tamryn would reject his offer. Perhaps his offer was in vain - perhaps there was nothing he could do to keep her, and this pale effort would be no more than the desperate flailing of a captured fish. Perhaps he would be proved once and for all ... helpless to protect that which he cared about most.

A different fear grasped him tight now, one that enveloped his entire being and left him gasping for breath. Through this maelstrom of emotion, the second voice finally pushed through the Alyrian's defenses, echoing into the elf's mind. Its tone was seething - furious - and dangerous.

"Little pet. Foolish little pet. After all this time, did you really think I would sit idly by while you threw my power away?!"
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Old 09-05-2009
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"Your thoughts are an open book for me to read, mortal. To think I ever thought you could have had potential ... hah! You want to sacrifice my magic for the slightest sliver of a possbility to keep a woman who has abandoned you a dozen times over?!"

Try as he might, Alyrian could not quash the devil's presence this time. Frustration began to --

"I WILL NOT BE DENIED. Your arrogance, your self-deluded sense of righteousness ... you are PATHETIC! YOU ARE A WORM, UNWORTHY OF TRUE POWER - UNWORTHY OF MINE!"

"You will be silent, Vazbanicus! You have no place here, you are a parasite on my being! The pact we made has outgrown its usefulness - and now I would be rid of you!"

"Such pride ... you think you can banish me so easily?!"

"My will is stronger than yours, devil! You have no power over me, you never-- l!"

But the devil did not seem to register Alyrian's protests. "Perhaps your physical form is beyond my control - but you forget - I am the one who channels the hellfire through you. And I have complete control over it!"

No sooner had Vazbanicus finished speakin when white hot fire condensed into a circle around Alyrian's form. The grass beneath his feet was ash in seconds, and the air around him shimmered turbulently underneath the supernatural heat.

"Y-you! What do you think you're doing!?" Alyrian shut his eyes tight, desperately trying to draw focus and banish the magic, but his efforts were met with futility.

"Who will purge you of magic now, little mortal? Who will dare even approach you?! Vazbanicus erupted into sinister laughter, his contempt echoing into the elf's mind.

Alyrian could do nothing but stare helplessly as the flames consumed everything around him - a ravenous horror, that he could not quell, nor sate, nor escape.
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Old 09-06-2009
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For the fifth night in a row, Alyrian had awaken to find himself surrounded by a blistering haze - the grass around him had been reduced to ash, and the air was filled with a burning heat. His clothes and pack were unscathed, but the bedroll he had lain down on the earlier that evening had long since been destroyed. It was his last one - though he saw no reason to have them any longer.

Vazbanicus had not been able to make his presence known since their last squabble - all the better for Alyrian. The elf had much to contemplate, and he did not need the devil's manipulative tongue to cloud his thoughts. Alyrian thought back to the day before - how he had been forced to seek refuge in the Mossdale; how he had encountered Annie and Maia, who despite all that had transpired, had not attacked him on sight, but even possibly seemed willing to help.

Alyrian was not quite sure how to respond; he excused himself to find a locale where the risk of burning everything to dust was less pronounced, and settled on the outskirts of the Necropolis. The deadened and withered vegetation that preluded the dark fortress was surprisingly more resistant to his hellish flames; perhaps because they were constantly exposed to necromantic energies, or perhaps because they were already dead. The morbid surroundings gave Alyrian a flash of nostalgia to his old savior, Tifton - he wondered if even the fallen paladin would be able to help him now.

Alone, he once again attempted to quash the hellfire shield through sheer force of will, and though his attempts were met with particularly violent flames that seemed to want to attack him, that was all his efforts accomplished. His attempt to siphon out the magic that fueled the conflagration was similarly unsuccessful. Without a deeper understanding of the magic, and how Vazbanicus was able to control it, Alyrian could do nothing but watch the flames devour everything in reach.

Who could help him now? Who could even approach him without being consumed by the flame? Normal magic protections were ineffective against the intensity of the hellfire. No one could be safe.

How would he fulfill his offer to her?
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