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First, this is the whole thing in 1 very long topic since it's already completed.
Second, there were some changes to the story in Parts 3, 4 (Finale), and the Epilogue (which was completely redone). This was done because originally there was another story that was planned but never happened and at this point is completely out of date. Further, it now better fits some of the tales in the OPSC thread.
Third, I do have something else planned as well thanks in part to the awesomeness of @Twizted_Jedi and @Darth-Simous so this could be viewed as a very long prelude to that.
Fourth, though not related to the original posting, as mentioned this will be a long posting to get everything out. If anyone wishes to comment, for better or worse (I've gotten both), please just wait til the end. And I hope it is enjoyed.
Skye O'Connell gritted her teeth angrily at the absence of her creation. While the raven had been gone from her side for extended periods of time before, Skye had expressly ordered her to remain within their compound. Karasu's growing and open defiance troubled her.
"He's still alive, master!" Karasu had stated the last time Skye had seen her.
"What makes you so certain this time?" Skye had groaned. They had had the same conversation for several days now and each time Skye found it harder to get Karasu to drop it.
"I... I can feel it. He needs me ma-"
"Feel?" Skye harshly interrupted, "Feel! Know your place, Karasu. You do not think and you do not feel! You are MY creation, and such things are beyond how you were constucted. Further, the only thing anyone 'needs' is for you to follow my orders and I command you to stop this foolish prater once and for all and not to leave compound unless I say so. Do I make myself clear?"
Karasu took a long slow breath before slowly falling to one knee. "Yes master," she struggled to say. Tired of the scene, Skye had dismissed Karasu with a wave of her hand.
Things had been profitable for Skye she had brought the raven to life. Many of her enemies and rivals had been dispatched while new alliances had been forged. Further, Karasu had returned with many rare and exotic treasures from across various lands, giving Skye more influence and power than many had realized.
However, over the past few weeks, Skye had noticed subtle changes coming across Karasu. She had dismissed them at first, thinking it merely a phase of hers due to coming in contact with so many different people. As the time passed though, Skye realized something was amiss as she felt her own control over her begin to wane. Now, Karasu had left on her own despite being forbidden. Skye needed answers, and after a search of the raven's room, she had found them within a journal Karasu had kept.
Day 16 – In my travels, I have been summoned many times across various lands. Today though, I felt a calling quite unlike any I had experienced. I almost felt compelled to answer though I do not know why. I was greeted by a human, a bit taller and stronger than most I had met. Yet upon seeing me, he twisted and stumbled over both his words and feet as not only could he express a coherent thought, but he also tripped and fell face first into a patch of mud. The fates must be japing me right now.
Day 17 – He finally was able to complete a sentence, at least when talking to me, and introduced himself as Ryan Black. He seems friendly enough, speaking with mirth and sarcasm as I was told. Most of the time it just confuses me, forcing him to add "That was a joke." to all his statements. He has a weird sense of humor.
Day 19 – I feel I must re-evaluate my intial impression of Ryan. We were making camp for the night when we abushed by a group of armed rogues. Before I could even reach for my longbow, Ryan had already downed two of them with his blades and a third with his staff. Truly I was left speechless as I had never encountered a human who could move so graceful yet deadly in battle, efficient in both melee and magic. In fact, his skill seems to exceed my own. Perhaps he would be willing to show me some of his techniques.
Day 25 – Ryan was delighted that I had asked him for training. For the last several days, he worked closely with me to improve my handling of my longbow and daggers and I have noticed a difference. My aim feels sharper and my blades cut deeper. Still, I notice that even during our training sessions, he still becomes flustered, losing his train of thought as if he wants to tell me something important, yet never is able to. I wonder what it is.
Day 27 – Once again Ryan had left me speechless with his battle tactics today. We had been following a river when we came upon a nest of Sulfur Saurians. Without hesitation, he charged straight into the middle nest. I thought this incredibly foolish until he had yelled back "Watch this!" Suddenly his body was engulfed in flame as he ran around setting the creatures alight. When he returned, he looked like the fire had caused him more harm than any of the saurians had. I asked if he was alright to which he said, "Yeah sure, never better, why? Did you want in on some of the fun?" I wondered if he was being sarcastic again and asked if burning himself alive was truly fun. "Don't knock it til you try it." was all he said in response. I still don't know if he was being sarcastic, but there definitely is a brilliance or madness to his way.
Day 30 – We were on a narrow pass today, high up in the mountains, when we were beset by a cyclops and some bandits. There was not much room to maneuver, especially with the cyclops swinging its club wildly all over the place. With no real way to take a shot at it, I decided to climb it instead to take its eye out that way. It didn't require much effort, but the foul beast fell backward off the pass, taking me with it and crashing into the valley below. I had the wind knocked out of me, but was otherwise alright. I made my way back up the path as quickly as I could and though the enemy had been defeated, Ryan was on his knees near the edge of the cliff, crying. I walked over to see what he might have been looking at and warn him about how far the fall was so he wouldn't hurt himself. Before I could though, he cried out my name, pulled me close to him and kissed me. While not the usual greeting I receive, I didn't mind, although afterward he couldn't stop apologizing. I said if that's how he wished to greet me from now on, it would be alright but he kept insisting that he was sorry and just happy I was alright.
Day 34 – We were at the inn in Gran Soren when Ryan said he had a gift for me. I asked if this meant we were parting ways as that is when most would give me gifts, but he said no. Instead, he sat me down and sang to me a song he had written.
Fifteen years, the open road was my home.
Restless heart, with no real place to go.
Haunted dreams, the visions in my mind,
Still the dance, always one step behind.
I don't know what brought me here,
Almost as if you were calling me near.
Beauty from the start,
The raven's heart.
In your eyes, I see the road before me.
Honorbound, I pledge my life to thee.
A thousand years, a thousand more.
I'll protect you forevermore.
Fly with me, let our spirits soar.
Sailing on to the Scottish shore.
I just want to be apart
Of the raven's heart.
Before I could say anything, he took my hand, removed the bracer, and placed a ring on my finger. Ryan then looked into my eyes and said, "I know what they say, that you don't feel like we do, that you lack that spark. In all my years though, never have I felt closer to anyone than I do with you. You may not understand or ever feel the same way and it doesn't matter. My heart, my soul, is my gift to you, bonded in this ring. I do not ask for anything in return. Accept it if you will and know that no matter the time or space, you will always have a piece of my heart."
He left me alone to my thoughts. He was right; I didn't understand although I found myself wanting to.
Day 35 – Since we weren't leaving Gran Soren anytime soon, I took my leave to explore the capital some. Despite having been here before, everything felt new and exciting. I'm not quite sure how to describe it. Things I had taken for granted before, I now had found a new appreciation. It confused me, scared me even, yet, it excited me too. I looked at the ring, wondering if his gift had something to do with it all. It was a like a veil being lifted from eyes and I was seeing the world for the first time.
There was something warm and reassuring in his smile when he saw me return. It was like he was... happy... to see me and knowing that made me smile in kind.
Day 38 – There was a disturbance beneath the Pawn Guild so we had gone to investigate. Everything seemed normal as we entered the entrance to the Everfall, but neither of us could shake the feeling that something was amiss. Still, we encountered nothing as we made our way down the steps to the base. A deathly calm filled the air as we looked for anything unusual. Without warning, Ryan cried out "Karasu!" as he knocked me to the side. The floor beneath us began to fall while the ceiling came crashing down as well. We ran, trying to dodge the falling rock from above and below but our escape routes were quickly being cut off. The last thing I remember was Ryan leaping for one of the ledges above us, while a piece of debris came crashing down on top of me.
Day 49 – I had found myself back at the compound with my master, Skye. I had begged for her assistance to help me find Ryan. She had told me he must be dead, but everytime I would look at the ring, I just knew he was still alive out there. Today though, she had enough, ordering me to stay within the compound. I can't though. I just can't walk away. Fortunately, some of the treasure I had recovered is still in the room and is just what I need to help me get out of here. Even if I must do this alone, I will find you... my love.
Skye O'Connell's fury boiled over as she finished reading the passage, incinerating the journal before her. She would not brook this slight in the least. Much as she hated to do so, Skye knew she would need to take a more active role to ensure that mistake did not happen again.
The Gorechimera gnawed contently on a bone, part of the remains of some would be adventurer who dared to enter his domain. He had quickly fallen like all the other fools who thought they could slay the beast only to become his next meal. The quick and the wise gave the creature a wide berth for down here, the Gorechimera was lord and master.
Suddenly, the lion lifted his head. Despite the quiet, he could sense something was amiss. Another intruder had come. The lord of the domain was angry that yet another fool dare challenge him, yet pleased for it meant he would eat well tonight. Cautiously, the three heads gazed out into the darkness. Despite neither hearing nor seeing anything, the beast remained confident. None ever had withstood his might.
Out of nowhere, a rock came flying across the room, bouncing off the Gorechimera's side. More annoyed than hurt, the lion roared, the snake hissed, and goat began the incantations of a spell. He spun around toward the direction the rock had come. He wanted to see what manner of creature would insult him so. He wanted to see the fear in his prey as it realized its doom.
All the Gorechimera saw in that last moment was the point of an arrow pierce his eye and tear through his brain. The lord of the domain was dead before his body hit the floor.
Karasu let out a gasp, exhausted from the effort the shot placed on her. She had spent the past several days exploring the Everfall's many floors and chambers. With each new area, she found herself needing to take more desperate actions to overcome the creatures within. Though she could tell Ryan Black was still alive, she knew she didn't have much time left to find him.
After she had caught her breath, Karasu searched the chamber for clues. It quickly became evident to her though that he had not been here. She let out a small sigh of relief that at least Ryan hadn't fallen victim to the Gorechimera when suddenly she heard what almost sounded like laughter.
"A new sacrifice!" croaked a barely coherent voice.
"Taste sweet death!" growled another.
They had been sorcerers in a past life, long slain and bound by the Gorechimera. With the death of the great beast, the two ancient undead spirits awoke, hungering for the life force before them.
Karasu dropped into a ball, rolling away from the pair and arose, firing a volley of arrows in a wide arc. To her dismay, those that would have struck bounced harmlessly away.
"Death and destruction!"
"Fight at my side!"
The bony remains of the Gorechimera's many victims reassembled, forming a skeletal army around the raven. Karasu didn't have time to notice as the air around her became charged. She dove once again, narrowly avoiding the bolts of lightning that struck the ground around her.
"None can survive annihilation!"
"Fools must be punished!"
She knew she had precious little time to escape. Karasu could feel a wind slowly begin to swirl around her while the skeletons drew close. In one swift motion, she drew a small bag into each hand and hurled them at the wight and skeletons which were blocking the exit route. The bags of "Throwblast" lived up to their name as the skeletons in front of her were blasted apart while the wight was knocked to the ground, howling as its body burned. Karasu ran as fast as she could and leapt off the side just before the maelstrom took shape and ripped apart the room. She crashed hard on the stone platform below her, the wind knocked from her.
Suddenly, the ring flared to life as if it knew Ryan was near. Even though some of her bones were broken in the fall, the warmth of the ring lifted Karasu's spirits. Determined, she ignored the pain and let the ring guide her like in a game of "hot and cold". The minutes felt like hours as she maneuvered through the corridors, backtracking as she came into one dead end after another. Finally, a set of stairs led her to the platforms above where she saw Ryan being torn apart by a large group of succubi.
"NO!" she cried out as she launched arrow after arrow, faster than she had ever done before, at the pack. So focused were they on their prize, the sudden intrusion surprised them completely. The arrows rained death upon them, each bolt felling another one. The battle ended before it had truly begun as all the succubi lay dead before any even thought to flee.
With her enemies slain, Karasu ran toward Ryan. However, the adrenaline rush that she had felt began to wane. She fell to the ground as the pain and exhaustion from her battles took over. She tried to steel herself when she felt the ring began to cool.
"Don't you dare give up on me," she gritted through her teeth, "Not now."
She crawled her way to him as fast as she could move. A wide range of new and confusing feelings came over her as she saw the bloody and beaten form of her love. Still, she pushed them all aside for now and reached for a special potion. She poured a little down his throat, hoping it would revive him. After a few moments, he began to cough.
"Ugh... harspud... like drinking a raw egg..." Ryan mumbled.
"Shh, drink it all. You'll be glad you did," Karasu said as a smile crossed her face.
Ryan Black opened his eyes and closed them again, not believing what he saw. "Must have been... hit pretty hard... on the head..."
"You were and that's why you need to drink."
He reached up to touch her cheek. "Karasu... how... you're not... a dream..."
Karasu removed her bracers to reveal the ring on her finger. "We're bonded. No matter the time nor space, I have a piece of your heart which lead me to you."
Ryan shook his head as he finished the potion. "How is it you always leave me speechless?" he asked half to himself, still not believing that she came for him.
She pulled out another potion for him. "Here, have another."
"Why don't you have that one. You look like you've had a rough go of it as well."
"I'm fine. You need it more."
"Tell you what, split it. That way we'll both be better off." Before Karasu could object, he put his hand up. "I insist."
The two shared the potion and slowly were able to make it to their feet. Despite feeling better, both knew they would need quite a bit of rest to recover from their adventure.
"I have something to help us get out of here," Karasu began when she felt herself become fully embraced in his arms.
"Thought of everything didn't you."
She looked up at him and said, "I saw how you were prepared for any situation," Her voice began to trail off to a whisper before adding, "Wait." Karasu removed her mask so the two could look upon each other with nothing in the way.
"I never thought I'd see you again," he softly stated as he drew close to her.
"I knew we would," she answered, drawing closer as well, "There is so much I want to say, so much I don't understand, and yet..."
"Shh. There will be plenty of time to figure it all out. Together."
Time seemed frozen in that moment as they were all but separated by a whisper.
Skye O'Connell blasted the pair off the walkway and onto the floor beneath them. She stepped off the side and floated down to where they had landed. Her vengeance was nigh.
Ryan Black and Karasu hit the floor with a resounding "THUD". Still the raven was quickly up on her feet as she scrambled to where Ryan and landed.
"We need to go, now!" she said, her voice filled with urgency. Karasu grabbed Ryan with one hand and took out the Ferrystone with the other before throwing it into the air.
The two watched the Ferrystone climb to its apex... before it simply fell back down to the ground. As the stone disappeared, an image of a short man wearing a set of jester motley appeared.
"Tee hee hee hee hee!" the man began in a high pitch voice, "Someone has gifted you 'Feste's Ferrystone o' Fun!' Truly you are now the richest person in the world because you now have something more valuable than gold itself! What is it you may be asking? You have been given the gift of... LAUGHTER! HEE HEE HO HO HA HA! Oh my yes, what more could a man want right now than to have a good laugh at the expense of friends, unless you needed an actual Ferrystone right now. That wouldn't be funny at all... THAT WOULD BE HYSTERICAL! So come get your very own 'Feste's Ferrystone o' Fun' at the Black Cat and share the mirth and merriment! WHOO HOO hoo hoo ooo..." As the image slowly faded from view, they heard the man add, "Alright I plugged your silly shop, where's my cut?"
Ryan looked up at Karasu. "Very nice. So, where's that something to get us out of here?"
Skye O'Connell launched another volley of fiery projectiles at the pair, the blast scattering them once again. Seeing that Karasu was the first to rise again, Skye glided over and grabbed her by the scruff of her neck.
"Worthless!" Skye yelled, slamming Karasu into the stone wall, "Years of research and training spent on you for what? To have it all undone by some magical trinket given to you by a naïve fool who has a schoolboy crush on you?"
Skye spun Karasu around and held her by the neck once again, this time so she could look at her creation. "You don't have any feelings of your own! All you think you're feeling is nothing more than his own desire for you! You are more of a puppet now than you ever were under my control!"
The arrow streaked forth faster than the eye could follow. Yet without even turning toward it, Skye's free hand caught it just before it would have pierced her skull. "Oh look," she calmly said as her eyes slowly became fixated on Ryan, "The hunter yet lives after all and he's trying to save his true love. How noble. So is this where you try to appeal to me to spare what facsimile of life she... no... it possesses?"
Ryan laughed as he fought through the pain and sat up against the wall with Karasu's bow in hand. "Actually, I'm planning to threaten you."
Skye simply shook her head. "I think you'll need more firepower for that."
"Yeah well, you make do with what you got. Would you like a drink? I think we may still have some in the pack."
"Stalling me won't change anything."
"Nonono, threatening. No drink, you sure? I'm going to have one."
Skye sighed at Ryan's incredulous behavior. "It never ceases to amaze me how delusional people become when the hour of death is at hand."
"Oh well, looks like we're out of potions and I don't know, you don't seem to be delusional. Oh wait, you meant my death, right. You're pretty full of yourself I see. Well, go ahead and try. You won't succeed."
A wry grin crept across Skye's face. "Yes, that reminds me. I had almost forgotten. Nocturne!" A pulse of absolute darkness swept out across the room, destroying all the nearby Wakestones and Shards, including the two Ryan kept on his possession. "Shall I try to kill you now? I'm sure I am certain you won't evade the Reaper's kiss."
Meanwhile, the distraction proved helpful for Karasu. Mustering all her strength, she punched Skye as hard as she could solidly in the face. Startled, Skye let go of the raven. Karasu quickly retrieved the last Throwblast she had, tossed it toward Skye, pivoted, and kicked out, trapping the powder between her boot and Skye's chest. The explosion knocked sent both flying across the room.
"Karasu!" Ryan yelled out as he went to check on her.
"I'm alright," the raven coughed, "Thank you for stalling her. She does become overconfident when she believes she has already won."
"I'll definitely keep that in mind. Still, we need to be leaving and fast before she..."
Skye laughed mockingly, unharmed from the Throwblast. Wisps of fire began to lick at skin and clothes.
"So there is fight left in both of you," Skye sneered as she began to transform, "I expected as much from this fool, but you Karasu? The will to fight, the will to live? You poor deluded experiment gone wrong!"
Fire engulfed Skye, burning away the attire she donned and setting alight her hair and eyes.. Her skin darkened to a jet black, while her muscles enlarged and tightened. As the fires died down, an otherworldly armor now encased Skye from head to toe, except for the demonic visage which had crept across her face. With but a thought, she reached out to the nether-realm and retrieved a massive blade, even larger than Karasu herself.
"COME THEN!" Skye roared, "FIGHT FOR THE REMAINING FEW MOMENTS YOUR LIVES HAVE LEFT!"
Skye swung the huge blade around as effortlessly as someone might have with a blade half its size. Still, Ryan and Karasu had seen many battles together and knew each others movements flawlessly. It didn't take them long to find an opening within Skye's defenses. Dancing around Skye's mighty attacks, Ryan came up swinging high while Karasu struck low. Despite the powerful enchantments on both their sets of daggers, both Ryan and Karasu found their blades harmlessly deflecting off of Skye's armor.
Skye spun her blade in a wide arc. They were too close and too out of position to be able to avoid the blow. Although Ryan twisted enough out of the way to avoid a fatal decapitation, the vicious gash he received nearly knocked out cold. Karasu fared slight better, however. The armor set that Skye had given her shattered under the force of the swing, yet managed to absorb most of the force behind it so the blade did not penetrate.
"Let us end this nonsense, Karasu. It is pointless for you to continue. I shall grant you mercy this one time. Return to my side and with his death, so shall you be set free."
Karasu defiantly looked at her creator square in the eye. "I am already free! Even if what you had said is true, that my feelings are nothing more than his own, it has still allowed me to find a new purpose in my life. His example has made me more alive than you ever could and I would rather die by his side, than live under your foot."
"So be it," Skye coldly snapped. Before Karasu could react, Skye smashed the hilt of her blade into Karasu's face and tossed her body on top of Ryan's. Skye raised her sword high above her head, gathering all her might as she slowly drew closer to both of them.
"I'm sorry, Ryan," Karasu whispered, "I tried my hardest."
"Kara... su..." Ryan weakly answered, still clinging to life, "Is that..." He motioned toward something he thought had sparkled.
Karasu looked over and indeed noticed a familiar looking glowing stone just barely within reach.
"Thus all who dare oppose me once again fall before me," Skye taunted, "I grant thee... DELIVERANCE!"
Skye's blade came crashing down in a massive arc.
Karasu tossed the Ferrystone upward.
The power behind the blow left a small crater in the stone floor.
The magic of the Ferrystone carried Ryan and Karasu safely away.
"NO!" Skye howled, realizing what had happened, "YOU WILL NOT ESCAPE FROM ME EVEN IF I CHASE YOU TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH!" Furiously, she stormed out of the room and flew up out of the Everfall.
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