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[Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by Sentinel on Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:46 pm

~Aidec~

My heart jumped, and I let out a laugh. "Y-You will? You will!" I stood up onto my feet and embraced Yuffie, not wanting to let this moment go. My eyes started to brim.

"I love you so much."
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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by Hime on Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:50 pm

- Yuffie -

I embraced him back, shutting my eyes and reveling in his warmth. It was so nice to feel him again, after so long. His love even shattered the darkness of that orb, and through him, I had hope.

Through him, I had hope...

"I love you, too, Aidec. I never stopped."

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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by Sentinel on Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:05 pm

~Aidec~

"And I never will."

I'll never let you go, Yuffie.




/ / / .. T H R E E ..  Y E A R S ..  L A T E R .. \ \ \


Aidec Farenart was about to turn 20.

It was the eve of Cleonat 29th, 704 AW, and he stood on the cliffs of Dahkanor, watching the salty waves crash against the rocks. Miklos' grave rested right near his mother Terena in a cemetery to the right of Aidec - a stark reminder of a family struggle that would coincide with the Second Great Clan Wars of N'al Ren.

Aidec still held onto the blood-red cloak, given to him by Runite's Row when he was just 16. In fact, he wore it at this moment, mainly to help protect against the incoming bitterness of winter.

But it was also sentimental, for it had also been three years since he retired from Runite's Row - at least, from the field. And he wasn't the only one to make such a choice. People moved on, either from the pain, or from the realization that the Row would never be as they thought it should. One of the things that gave him a sense of family was somehow just as easily lost after the fight with Arker. But at least he had Yuffie, and Resh and Laylet, and Gentry and Elias, and Silvien and Aven, and everyone else that had managed to survive the war.

He missed his cousin Xanther Blundeau - the one who taught him the importance of love. He missed his mother, Marin - the one who protected him until the very end. He missed Eridia Aldamar and Fulmine Vino - two very innocent people that gave their lives to help put an end to tyranny. He missed Elia Haywitt - the one who showed him that weakness can be just as powerful as strength. He missed Grace and Vance Kejhan - the ones who proved that trust can come from anyone, anywhere, at anytime. He missed Ebony Marachelle and Elyse Persephone - the ones he regrets not saving while he still had the chance. And he missed so many countless others that had come and gone before the Row.

But it was all he could do - miss. Aidec had to move on as well, and he did. He retired from field work, moving to an administration job within the Row. He enjoyed the beauty the rest of the world had to offer, but of course none of it compared to Yuffie, the one he loved the most, right beside him. Just that experience alone - the ability to live life the way it was meant to be lived - made up for all the regret and pain he had felt years ago.

And now, he felt ready to move on.

Aidec Farenart glanced down at the ring on his left hand - a golden ring wrapped around the plastic-silicon structure of the prosthetic hand he "earned" after his first major encounter with Arker. The wedding was absolutely wonderful - but of course it was. It was another sign that his life was changing yet again. But this time, it was something good for the both of them.

As he stared, he heard a low huff from behind him. Startled, he whipped around, coming face to face with four white caribou. Somehow, somewhere, he knew who they were - Charles, Chandra, Chase, and Chloe, pets once belonging to the Aldamar clan. Now that their owner, Eridia, was gone, they had nowhere else to go, roaming the openness of the countryside.

Yet they found their way back to me, the young man realized.

"As the past always seems to," he muttered, petting the muzzle of Chandra. The caribou all stamped the ground in response, lowering their heads a final time before turning back to N'al Ren, never to be seen again.

Aidec Farenart turned around once more to face the sea; now, to do what he came here for. He pulled out a small leather pouch, wrapped tightly shut. Inside this pouch was a silver coin, with a note reading only five words: "Destruction is a beautiful thing."

The young man knew for a fact that it was indeed Folly Zilean that dropped the pouch near him and Elia after the latter's violent rampage through Ald Ruhn so long ago, when he first joined the Row. But as to why he would drop it near them of all people... Folly was always a strange man. A strange, intelligent man who helped plunge N'al Ren into civil war. But now, Aidec knew better than to dwell on the past.

Aidec recalled the five words inside the pouch. "No, Folly," he declared with finality. "Destruction is never beautiful." With that, the Row member hurled the pouch into the vast beyond, watching it sail into the darkness. He never heard it plop into the water, nor did he need to hear. Aidec only had faith that the last relic of a painful memory would be washed into the ocean, left to rot on the shore of another, more cursed land. It was the least the gods could do for him and everyone he cared about.

After several moments of rumination, Aidec turned on his heel and left the sea, trekking back to Ald Ruhn and his wife, his future.



The snow began to fall, peacefully dancing the past away.

FIN
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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by Hime on Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:37 pm

Resh Archambault's POV
4 YEARS LATER. . .


Everyone had gone off their separate ways. I guess that’s how we all were when the war ended – wandering. Without devastation, without evil, without impending doom, there was no use for the clan anymore… Especially in the eyes of the ministry. As silent as the land of N’al Ren was after Arker’s downfall, the legacy of Runite’s Row melted away into the past. And just like that, the force that shaped who I was… Was gone.

The years that followed the war’s conclusion were refreshing. Ald Ruhn was rebuilt into a more dazzling and enhanced city; though much had changed, the nostalgia remained. Numerous old friends got married; and hell, even I made the decision to get hitched. As wary as I was about marriage, Laylet quelled all my doubts, as she always did. It used to be difficult to admit that a woman won my heart – after all, I had myself convinced that I was unreachable by love. But… Laylet had such an easy time changing that deep-rooted insecurity of mine. The day she came to share my last name was one of the happiest of my life.

Though there was no more Row, the Ald Ruhn Knights reassembled once the city gained its footing once again. Jansus passed over his captain title to me in order to raise Alura; after all, being a single father wasn’t something you could train for. I felt for the guy, but adopted the position proudly, happy to serve wherever I could.

Some nights, I’d sit out on a cliff edge that overlooked the outskirts of the city. When it was clear, I would gaze up at the stars, smiling at one in particular – the one that glittered the brightest – for through that star, I felt Ebony’s warmth. I knew that all she wanted was my happiness, and I had it. Whenever that thought dawned on me, my smile would falter a bit… If only I could have done the same for her. But deep down, I knew that in the end, she was happier when she wasn’t suffering. She was happy to look upon us, knowing that the spirit of the bear Jun could no longer harm us.

And in the end, her peace gave me peace.

The breeze combed through my hair and billowed the bottom of the Row cape that I sometimes sported every now and then. Though I knew that it was best for the legacy of the great clan to be nothing more than a legacy, something within me missed it.

But my friends were still around.

I was still around.

There wasn’t much more I needed to ask for.

I shut my eyes and took in the soothing night air, knowing that whatever the future held, I would be ready for it.

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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by Kane on Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:21 pm

Azula Genya Royale
4 year's later

"Lady Carulo, you are simply too much," I said with a small tilt of my head as I ducked into a small, finely lacquered transport. My hand rose daintily to wave back to the gaggle of servants and Lord and Lady Carulo as they began to wish the next guest goodbye. A small hum sounded under my feet as the transport lifted from the ground and began its slow journey back through Ald Ruhn and then back to the manor. I rested my head back onto the black leather as my eyes traced the outline of the stars in the sky, glinting through the glass ceiling.

After everything had settled, everyone seemed to have found jobs in areas that excited them, gave them purpose. I had turned back to the groomings of my youth. It was all I knew. Every part of me still yearned for the days of the row. The training, the battles, and the friendships. The Row had been my ticket out of the aristocracy, a way to form real, meaningful bonds built on things other than shared land ownership and trade deals. I missed them all more than I would have cared to admit.

Yet, I was back to the same circuit of balls, luncheons, and summering. People thought my time in the Row made me an interesting dinner guest or an excellent hunting partner. They thought it was a mere footnote in my life, not that it was the actual story of my life. Of course, they were wrong. I still tried to see them all as much as I could. I held as many suppers and events and trips as I could. I offered house after house to host in. I only wanted to be together, but life had made it more difficult than I would have liked.

Even now, I still struggled to realize that these people had become my closest allies and the only individuals who understood what I went through. It all seemed so permanent at the time like we would do it forever, be together forever. Still, I did not have it in me to let them go quickly. It wasn't my nature. I would fight for them just like I fought for everyone else. And I knew they would fight for me.

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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by Shaybaysasuke on Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:31 pm

---Four Years Later---

~Jacobe~

I wiped my forehead with my arm to get rid of the sweat, careful not to get any paint on my face as I did so. Looking around the living room I was pleased with the progress I was making. For a while Dederick and I went off on our own again, happy to be together after the fights we went through. We lived in a small room near Ald Ruhn but it was enough.

A few years after everything settled down, Dederick and Farron were getting very close. They had been dating for so long after they reunited so it came as no surprise that Dederick finally proposed to her. (Of course I had to help push him along. After all this time he still couldn't talk about how he felt.) They didn't have any immediate plans, both of them being too easygoing to rush into actually having the ceremony, but they were happy together and that's all that really mattered.

The two got a house together and I even ended up buying one of my own with the money I saved up as a medic. Weeks after moving in I was finally getting the place to start looking right. The cream walls and green accents in the room reminded me of our childhood home. I smiled at the memories it brought, and even though some bad things happened there, it was home and now I could incorporate it into a house of my own.

I dipped the paint brush back into the can and started to cover the ugly yellow the walls had been painted with when a knock sounded at the front door. I went to drop my supplies to answer it but the door creaked open anyway, a red head of hair popping through it.

"Helloooo," Dederick called as he waved the spare key I gave him, a golden engagement ring glittering on his finger. He took a second to look around at the place before going up to me with a huge grin, grabbing onto my shoulders, "Dude! This place looks amazing!"

"What are you going on about?" I asked him with a roll of my eyes and a chuckle as he started moving about the rooms, "I'm nowhere near finished with this place. It's going to take ages to get it right."

"Don't care, still looks awesome," he called out from the kitchen and I jumped over the couch to catch him stealing my food already.

"Don't make me take your key privileges away," I warned him playfully, moving to grab the chips before he ran to the table. My eyes widened and I waved at him to stop before all the papers littering it's surface fell to the floor, "Wait! Careful, I can't have these getting messed up."

"Oh jeez," he mumbled, quickly stepping back from the table as he saw what was printed on the first page, "This is it, then?"

"Yep, this is all the stuff I need to register," I said with a fond smile, bunching up the papers again and tapping them against the table to straighten them out, "They said it's going to take years...but I'm willing to wait."

"Don't worry bro," Dederick assured me, throwing an arm around my shoulder while still munching on some chips, "You're going to be a great dad to whoever you adopt. I just know it."

I smiled at him and started to drag him out of the kitchen, partly to get him away from the food, but I really wanted to let him see the rest of the house.

"Wait until you see the nursery," I said excitedly, pulling him down the hallway, "And the other kids' rooms, I made them all neutral colors just in case. I have no idea what they're going to be like."

"Three kids?" he asked, seeing that there were that many bedrooms at the end of the hall, "Damn. Ah well, whoever these kids are will have an awesome dad and a fantastic uncle and wonderful aunt to take care of them, don't you worry."

"Yeah, yeah," I said with another roll of my eyes, "Now come on! I have a lot to show you. Plus you need to tell me how you and Farron are doing. And you promised to help me paint!"

"Ah man, I thought you forgot about that," he whined and I laughed. He couldn't help but laugh as well and the house was filled with our laughter, something that I hoped would never stop.

Above the fireplace sat the red cloak of the Row and my trusted sword. Memories of a past that was harsh and unforgiving, but gave way to this happy ending. It was a part of me, a part of Dederick, a part of every Row member. It was something that I would never forget.

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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by WritingBookworm on Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:20 pm

- Natasha -

Morning comes.

It comes in the form of a pebble tossed at the window.

I startle awake, reflexively grabbing for one of my sai. As gently as I can, I lay Yupik on the ground, careful not to wake him. Then I bound on over to the window.

Had it been a few days earlier, I would certainly have seen the man standing by the edge of the forest as a threat. But . . . things have changed. Changed enough that I am not afraid nor angry when I see Mordecai Reaves standing at that window.

Making eye contact with me through the windows, he gestures to the forest behind him. A polite invitation.

I purse my lips, and, perhaps against my better judgement, put my sai back in its sheathe as I go out to meet him.


~ ~ ~


"You were right," I say as I approach Mordecai.

He quirks a brow. "That's not something I was expecting you to say."

"You were right," I say. "About the Row. You might not be good, but they're not, either. I understand why you became bitter towards it."

A cold, sudden wind whips at the pine trees. At my hair. At Mordecai's. His black strands lash out against his immobile body and unreadable face.

"Well?" I demand, feeling a surge of anger. "Go ahead. Tell me you were right!"

"Natasha."

"Just say it! You were right, and I was wrong, so just say it!"

"Natasha," Mordecai says, voice uncharacteristically tender. "I'm sorry."

It's that tenderness that gives me pause. Makes me stop and think in the middle of my blind anger.

And it's then that I realize how tired I am of being angry. Of feeling paranoid. Of having regrets.

I'm tired of all of it.

My blood feels like it's all been siphoned out and replaced with exhaustion. My knees give out, just like they did that day in Rundial, and I plop onto the forest floor.

"I just . . . " I close my eyes. Antivoleus's attack. Yupik's capture. Being forced to flee the Duke's manor. Losing control to Pansa. Destroying thousands of lives. My kidnapping. Hurting Aster. Promising to protect Ebony, only to watch her die at the Row's hands. And then, after the bittersweet victory, finding out that Yupik was raped.

"I want it all to stop," I say quietly. "I just . . . want to live a normal life, you know?"

"I hate to say it, but that's a fool's wish." Mordecai sits down next to me. He doesn't risk trying to hug me, or lay some hand on my shoulder, so I let him keep being next to me. "You're a Jun host. So is your significant other. You were part of one of the most acclaimed -- and now controversial -- fighting groups in history. Your life will never be normal. The sooner you realize it, and use that to your advantage instead of using that as a way to feel sorry for yourself, the better."

I rub my eyes, trying to get some of the fuzziness out from my head. "You're not good at being comforting."

Mordecai smiles wryly. "It's one of my many faults."

"But maybe you're also right." Lacking strength, I lean in his direction, falling into him and letting my head rest on his shoulder. "Maybe."

Mordecai's arm slides around my back in a half-hug, pulling me closer. For a resurrected person, he feels so alive with warmth. Just that warmth makes me feel like I'm in the middle of an embrace. This is the kind of warmth that's particular to him.

I've missed it so much.

"So much has happened," I murmur, thinking back to the day I'd spent with him under the cherry blossoms. "It's been one winter after another. Will Spring ever come?"

"Maybe," Mordecai says. "Or maybe not. I think I was wrong. For some people, Spring may all come at once, yes. For others, spring is harder to see. There's so much winter everywhere, and it's just so cold, that you think it may never come at all. And sometimes it doesn't.

"But on occasion, in the harsh winters, you can find a few flowers. You can hear birds, twittering in the distance. You can feel life. You don't have to wait for spring to come. Even in winter, spring can still be found." He squeezes my shoulder affectionately. "You just have to know where to look."

Somehow, I smile. "Then maybe I can enjoy this pocket of spring, while it's still here."

And so I do. With Mordecai by my side, I watch the sun rise. A butterfly crosses our sight before it perches onto a slender branch, its spotted wings beating once or twice after it lands. A bird trills in the distance before breaking free of the tree's canopy and flying into the sky.

So much spring, all around me. And I've been too blind to see it.

"Here."

I look down to see what Mordecai's offering me. A pale pink cherry blossom petal, attached to a silver chain.

"I found this in a river," he says. Then he confesses, "I . . . might have put a tracking spell on it. I don't want it anymore."

I should be angry at him for that, but it's as I said before. I'm too tired to be angry. I just take in the necklace, wondering if I should really take it back. I got rid of it for a reason. I didn't want the past to control me anymore. I wanted to show that I've moved on. That I changed.

But no, that wasn't it, was it? That's what I told myself, and it was part of it, but that wasn't completely it.

I was angry. I wanted to prove something to myself, that I was too strong for the past. I wanted to erase the past. Erase everything associated with it.

I can't do that. I can't erase the past. I can't change anything that has happened.

What happened has happened. All I can do is accept that, remember it, acknowledge how its changed me, and then proceed through my life.

I look up from the necklace. To a pair of brown eyes, looking at me expectantly.

Those eyes haunted me, in my living and my waking. The absence of them haunted me, too. But now, they bring me comfort and certainty.

What the Row did . . . that was recent. I'll need time. Hopefully, I'll be able to walk and talk with them without feeling any wound. Someday. But that day hasn't come yet.

Mordecai, on the other hand . . .

Maybe it's too soon. Maybe I'm stupid to do this.

But I only have room for so much pain. I want to let some of it go.

One hand encloses around the necklace, accepting his gift, accepting the past. The other rests on Mordecai's shoulder, ensuring that we have eye contact as I tell him three words I'd never imagined myself saying.

"I forgive you."

And they are the three most freeing words I have ever spoken.


-- 1 YEAR LATER --

The memory of two siblings sitting in a forest, just beyond Duke Harliem's manor, is what I choose to cling to as I walk through the graveyard, all alone. I'd insisted to be alone today.

My black flats are already getting a little dirty as I trod through the wet grass, soaked after a night of heavy rainfall. I pass by a grave marking a family, another a stillborn child.

Ahead of them, I see the one I mean to go to. The lettering on the marble headstone is crisp and clear, obviously new. It sits under the shade of a tree.

As it should.

I'd requested that Mordecai's headstone be placed under the shade of a cherry blossom tree.

I don't bother to raise my black skirt as I kneel on the grass. It can get as stained and as wet as I'd like. I place a bouquet of flowers in front of the headstone.

It's not quite a resting place for him. That would imply there was a body left behind. Mordecai was a Sanctumized being. When he sacrificed himself for me, all that was left of him was dust.

After we rescued Elias, it wasn't the last we saw of Angelina Fausse. She'd promised Mordecai that she'd retaliate for his treachery by using me against him. She'd made good on that promise.

So much happened. Many of them are things I don't want to remember.

The one thing that brought me comfort, in the middle of it all, was that despite having lived most of his life as a villain, Mordecai died as something close to a hero.

It's just me and Mordecai's stone in the graveyard.

To lose him, just as I was beginning to reconcile with him . . .

"It feels like winter will never end," I whisper.

I still hurt in places that I never thought I'd hurt in. Day by day, I feel like I'm on the edge of breaking.

But I've already been broken once before. As painful as it was for Mordecai to dissolve into dust in my arms, it hasn't completely broken me. Because despite it all, I remember what he said to me on that day we were together.

One hand on his tombstone, I look up, marveling in the canopy of cherry blossoms that hang over me.

"It feels like winter will never end," I say again. "But I can still see the spring."

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[Infinity's Row: Interlude l Anaphora: Pariah l Infinity's Row: Uncontrollable l Anaphora: Vengeance]
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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by Michael DeathFlame on Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:28 pm

Sierra: It didn’t take too long to pack all of my shit. It’s not like me and Yupik carried too much back when we were on our own. Sure, we got some new clothes when we moved in with the Duke, but I don’t want to bring too much of that with us. At first I wanted to burn the stuff, but I just ended up leaving it in the room. I felt funny burning clothes when so many people don’t have any. Besides, I only wanted to burn it because I wanted to get rid of the memories that went with all that.

And I don’t think that’ll ever happen. I already tried forgetting it last night, and I broke a promise I made ten years ago trying to do it. I drank until I felt like my brain’d melt and then I drank a little bit more. I figured that I’ve been walking around with half a brain my entire life, so what’d it matter if I took out another half? Turns out remembering doesn’t work like that, because the only thing I forgot this morning was how to walk straight. So I just ran for an hour or two until I got the sick out of me, and here I am now, watching the sunrise from my spot at the edge of the woods, reeking of sweat instead of reeking of alcohol.

I press my forehead against the trunk of a tree and let my eyes creak close. When I first woke up in the middle of the night I felt so sick that everything didn’t even feel like real life. Now, though, now everything’s back to normal. No, not normal. This isn’t normal. The Row being a league of assholes shouldn’t be normal. Yupik and me going out on our own again shouldn’t be normal.

And what happened to Ebony sure as shit shouldn’t be normal. A day ago I was getting her honey and wondering if we could be something when everything ended. That was yesterday. And now she’s fucking gone.

I find out that trees aren’t nearly as punchable as walls. Instead of smacking straight through it, my fist comes away red and bleeding. I press it up to my stomach, cursing under my breath as pain throbs up my arm. “I get it,” I growl to the air, Ciel, and whoever the fuck else is listening, “you don’t care if it’s messed up. I get it.” I shake my hand out, watching the bits of blood flick onto the grass beneath me. “You’ll just keep fucking us over.” No one says anything back, but I know I’m right anyway.

I look back at the mansion. The world won’t stop screwing with us, even when we leave. The Row isn’t the only problem. So long as Yupik’s got that thing up in his head, nothing’ll change. Everything’ll keep blowing up until one of us dies. That’s the only way this ever ends.

...Well, no, there’s another way this ends. Just thinking about it gets me mad enough to almost punch the tree again, just to punish myself for thinking it. But it’s true no matter how much I hate it.

Leaving Yupik might be the best thing I can do for myself.

It’s not like I’d be leaving him to die. Natasha’s leaving too, and she’d probably protect him better than I ever could. The two of them like each other enough to be happy, and they’ll be safe on top of it. I wouldn’t be letting him or Dad down if I left now.  I could go out on my own, do what I want to do for the first time in my life. That’s what I always wanted, to go out and be my own person. No one to worry about but me.

...No. No, that’s not what I want. Because look what happened to me after I lost a friend. What’d happen if I lost a brother? Him, Natasha, Gentry, Miranda, and even Elias and Aster a bit, they’re the only people in the world I give a damn about. There’s not too many of them. I can’t lose another one of them, especially not Yupik.

I groan under my breath when I push myself up, stumbling a second before I get my balance back. Right now, I need to figure out what we’re gonna do today, where we’re gonna go, how I’m going to keep everyone alive. Maybe someday I’ll figure out what I’ll want to do with the rest of my life. Maybe I never will. The way my stomach sinks makes me think that.

And you know what? If that happens, bring it on. The Row, Amanda, the spirits, Ciel, and whoever else wants to come at me, I can take it. They can all break me as much they like, but it won’t matter. Even if I’m broken, I can still hit back. Even if I feel dead, I’ll always have that fight in me. And that won’t ever change. Never.

I square my shoulders and wipe my eyes and keep my head up, ready for whatever N’al Ren’s got in store for me.

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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by WritingBookworm on Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:14 pm

- Gentry -

I really have to slow my pace to be with Elias. Normally, we'd both be happy to stride through the streets, but Elias can't stride with a broken ankle. As a result, I'm practically shuffling alongside him, my arm looped through his as he limps along.

"I apologize," Elias says. "I wish I could have done more in the final fight."

"Dude, you were literally held hostage and tortured for two weeks," I say. "If anyone gives you flack, then I swear I will flay them alive and show their corpse to their weeping mother."

That leaves Elias gawking at me. "You know, everyone always states that you are nice."

"But?" I prompt.

"But you are also one of the most savage human beings I have ever met."

"You're a goofball, and I'm not nice." I slide a hand under one of my pigtails, bringing it over my shoulder. "How upside down the world has become."

"Or perhaps it's finally been set right."

We come to a spot where a fountain had once stood before being blasted into oblivion. Elias and I decide to stop there -- before we wander too far from the rest of the Row -- and stand in the middle of a circle.

By chance, the N'al Ren Administrative Building is nearby. A grand, domed building surrounded by ornate pillars, this former paragon and symbol of authority looks like something just took a huge bite out from the roof. But somehow, there's a quality about it that manages to make it look dignified, despite all of the scars it bears.

Just like Elias Carstairs.

Elias rests both hands on the head of his walking cane, straight-backed. He stares ahead into the Administrative Building.

And me? I turn around, catching what's behind Elias, and across from the Administrative Building. Homes everywhere are desecrated, vacant shells of what they used to be. Each home symbolizes a family whose lives were lost, or left in tatters. Any survivors had to flee. They're somewhere out there, still scared, still in need of help.

I move slightly, so that I am back-to-back with Elias.

I've caught some of the Row members, upon our victory, looking towards sun. Into the promise of a new dawn, a new future. But Elias gazes into the governmental building, and I stare into the countless homes filling the horizon.

We know what the other is thinking. To ourselves, and to each other, we make our vows.

"Once, I abhorred the idea of joining Runite's Row," Elias says behind me. "Now, I will stand by the organization until it breathes its last."

"Once, I wanted to join the Row to prove myself," I say. "Now, I stay to protect those who can't protect themselves."

"Prose is dead, and the Zenh'aliems left no one to lead N'al Ren in their wake. Someone needs to step up before anyone with ill intent can, let N'al Renians know they are safe, and begin reconstruction efforts."

"Not everyone knows peace right now. Someone needs to travel across the continent and assure people that everything's all right, let them know that every last person matters, and save anyone else that needs to be saved."

"I will reap order from chaos."

"I will create peace from war."

"I will be N'al Ren's pillar."

"I will be N'al Ren's sword and shield."

"I will be a leader."

"I will be a defender."

And there we have it. Our futures.

I sigh. "We'll have to go our separate ways again, won't we? The job never ends."

"But we also have the chance to make a new beginning," Elias says. "So let's enjoy this modicum of peace while we can. I daresay we deserve it."

He laces his fingers through mine, and I squeeze his palm. Back-to-back, hand in hand, we make our new beginning.

_________________
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[Infinity's Row: Interlude l Anaphora: Pariah l Infinity's Row: Uncontrollable l Anaphora: Vengeance]
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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

Post by WritingBookworm on Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:40 am

- 2 MONTHS LATER -


- Elias -

"Hello, Nora," I say.

On one knee, in front of her tombstone, I bequeath Legacy to her. I do this every time I come to visit her, like I can, for one moment, return the sword that is rightfully hers. It helps her come alive, if only for a little while.

I stand back up to my feet, without the help of any cane. After two months, my ankle has almost completely healed. It's so liberating to actually have my full range of motion back.

"It's been a while since I've visited. I fear it's been too long." No matter how much time passes, whether it's been a day or several months, it will always feel like too long since I've visited. Like I'll never be able to do enough for Nora.

That's a way of thinking I have to break out of.

With my new job, I quite literally don't have the time for that way of thinking.

"So much has happened since I last came," I go on. "The last time I was here, it was Hanellat 701, on the anniversary of your passing. I kept my promise to you. After I left the cemetary, I was to confront Damien Fausse. I confessed to Gentry that I liked her, and then she actually kissed me, for reasons still unknown to mankind." I've been dating her for nine months, but there's a part of me that still can't quite believe it. "We faced betrayal. We've had to fight in a war. We've experienced death and separation and torture. We've been pushed to the breaking point.

"But somehow, we did it.

"We remained unbroken.

"It's such a miracle, Nora."

I go quiet for a long moment. I flex my fingers into a steeple, steadying myself. My voice is more professional as I continue. "The war may be over, but the real fight has just begun. Reconstruction efforts have commenced, and charities and fundraisers have been started by Yate Enterprises, to support anyone affected by the war. A once scattered people are only just now beginning to return home, and I've been fighting for N'al Ren, reestablishing foreign relations, writing articles in defense of Runite's Row. I'm embellishing the organization -- perhaps more than I should, given that the Row seems poised to disband eventually -- but I want to give people a symbol to look to for hope. And I've been attending physical therapy in the meantime, getting my ankle back to what it was, and I often call Gentry, call her until she's sick of me interrupting her work." I rub the side of my head with two fingers, both of which are aching and cramping after endless days of writing and signing entire reaves of documents. "Honestly, I will be shocked if I don't get gray hairs as a result of all of the stress. But . . . well, I knew what I was signing up for when I became President of N'al Ren."

The way I say it, the title almost seems like a footnote.

I don't know how long I wish to have that title, given all of the stress it's already piled on my shoulders. I don't even know if N'al Ren should continue with presidencies such as these -- take what happened with Prose, after all. But N'al Ren's government needs to stabilize itself and survive this torrent of uncertainty before we can think of making any radical changes.

I give myself a moment to close my eyes. When I do, I'm not monologuing to a grave. Instead, I see my sister standing there, statuesque and proud. Her blue eyes shine, her face gently reminding me to go on.

"Hey, Nora," I say. "Do you remember that one time, when I was twelve? I thought I'd finally bested you in a sparring session, but you caught me off-guard and won. I was angry at our stepfather for ruling the match in your favor." My fond smile grows into something more mischievous. "I also gave him the highway salute that day. I look back at that moment with fondness. But I digress.

"As I was ranting at him, stepfather told me something I would never forget. He told me there was reason, and then there was passion. One would guide me. One, if unchecked, would destroy me. I had to be careful which one I aligned to. Stepfather's a smart man. There was some truth to what he was saying. Passion can, indeed, be bad if you allow it to control you. But this was also one of the stupidest things he has ever said.

"He was attempting to imply that passion itself was bad. That it would be better for me to live my life without it. And I was blind enough to apply his teachings to my daily behavior.

"Now I see the truth. Yes, reason often dictates the best course of action. But without passion, you have nothing to live for. They're two sides of the same coin; you need both reason and passion to thrive. And so I promise this to you: while I'll still use reason as my constant, I will help protect N'al Ren with all of the passion it deserves."

I glance over my shoulder. Two suited people -- one male, one female -- stand all the way down at the curb, where pavement bisects sections in the cemetery. Sunglasses shadow their eyes. My bodyguards. I have those now that I am President. I don't want them, but they bring legitimacy to me. I don't have much political experience, so I need any scrap of legitimacy I can get. The sight of them also remind me that I ought to leave soon, so that I can get back to my duties.

But not before I say something else. "Oh, and another thing. Gentry's doing quite well. She's off righting some wrongs and saving even more people. I love her. I will never stop loving her.

"Mother caught the way I speak of her, actually," I continue, sliding my hand into a pocket and rummaging around for the thing I keep inside. "I was visiting Mother yesterday, since she's finally returned to Ald Ruhn, and she mentioned that I always have good things to say about Gentry. So . . . she said I'll end up needing this."

I fish out the thing I was looking for -- a small, black box, the size of my palm. I flip it open, and there, lying inside on a cushion, is an ornate, silver ring, inlaid with the softest of pearls.

I turn it around to show it to Nora. "The time isn't yet right. We're both terribly busy, and I would like to wait until she's older. But until then, I'll hang on to this. After all . . . "

I stroke the pearl on the ring with one finger, fantasizing about the day this will belong on Gentry's hand.

"It never hurt a man to dream."


- Gentry -

"No, I'm good," I say into the phone, tilting my head up. I receive a pristine view of a cloudless blue sky. "But thanks for asking."

"Well, if you ever do need anything, call us," Mom says on the opposite end of the line.

"We'll be happy to give you anything you need," Dad adds.

"Same to you," I say earnestly. I glance down, checking the steep path that leads down from my place at the top of the mountain. I place my steps strategically, careful not to slip and tumble to my death. That'd be a sad way for all of this to end. "If there is anything I can do for you, I'll be there in a heartbeat. Or two heartbeats. Or however long it takes to get to wherever you guys are at. But I'll be there as fast as I can, I promise."

Dad chuckles. "We love you, sweetheart. Keep up the good work."

"Love you too. I'll see you in a week."

I turn my phone off, shelving it back into my pocket. I'd meant that. As much as there is to do out here in N'al Ren, I really should visit my parents. So I'm going to meet them in Swynborough next week.

I put both of my hands behind my head as I trek down to where the hoverboard lays. Honestly, life is pretty great right now. I'm part of one of the wealthiest families on the planet, I'm the daughter of two loving parents, and, hey, I'm now also the President's girlfriend (which means that now we've gone from Prose to Elias, I've officially gone from "screw the President" to "screw the President.") I have amazing fighting prowess, and I get to use it every day to help people.

And yet . . .

My steps slow to a stop. From the mountaintop, it's easy to see the sea of green treetops, and the occasional skyscraper poking out from pockets of civilization. From above, a flock of birds fly in a perfect V formation, their cawing striking my ears.

I'd once read that, flying together, birds soaring in a formation can go twice as fast as a bird flying by itself.

Is Runite's Row still akin to this formation?

I'm sure they are, for some people. For others, like the Vrides and Natasha, that might not be true at all. I wish for the days that the Row was completely together, back when there wasn't so much to repair and when Elias had time for me, before Elias started suffering nightmares of his imprisonment.

Before there was so much death.

But as sad as it is, they remind me why I still fight.

For those who could have been saved.

Xanther Blundeau, who gave his life protecting Luka. I still feel like kicking myself, for not getting there in time. But the past is the past. The best thing to do is to remember that Xanther was a valiant warrior, and a great person.

For those who couldn't have been saved.

Elyse Persephone. The more investigation that's carried out, the more evidence there is that her death was a murder-suicide, and the less Elias believes that she could have been saved. Maybe she could have, if we'd reached out to her earlier. But once she started down her path of hate, it was too late. And that's one of the saddest things I've ever seen.

And for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The death of Fulmine Vino is a wound that will never completely heal. Ebony's death may hurt even worse. There's no question from anyone in the Row that they were among the bravest.

Even Mordecai sacrificed himself, in the end.

But there's no more time to be sorrowful.

For those who don't have to make such a sacrifice.

I start treading down the slippery slope once more. Slowly, at first, until I pick up the pace. And then I'm starting to run, running without a care --

For those who can still be saved.

Until I see the hoverboard and leap off of the slope, and down, down to the hoverboard waiting at the very bottom.

My feet land on the board with a jarring impact, and then I'm soaring off into the world with a grin starting to grow across my face.

There are tragedies that haven't been able to be prevented, but there are tragedies that can still be stopped. There are bad guys that will be defeated, people that will be rescued.

I've saved the world once.

Time to save it again.


The End

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[Infinity's Row: Interlude l Anaphora: Pariah l Infinity's Row: Uncontrollable l Anaphora: Vengeance]
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Re: [Roleplaying Thread] Infinity's Row: Unbroken

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