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Forum Bug

Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:18 am by Sentinel

Hi all,

We're aware of a peculiar forum glitch that's causing some subforums to be locked.

Due to the lateness at this time, it might be a while before the glitch can be remedied, because despite my best efforts and as far as I can tell, everything seems to be working fine admin-side. It may have …

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Discord News/Update Test

Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:35 am by Sentinel

Just a news, update test. Trying to get this thing to work.

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Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Other religious holidays!

Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:56 pm by Sentinel

*wipes sweat from brow* Whew, political correctness is a lot of hard work. But it has to be done.

ANYWAYS, we did it - we (almost) survived 2016 which, I think we can all agree, was pretty damn terrible in many ways.

Regardless, it was a good year on the forums - we've met some new faces, set out …

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[FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:20 am

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Chapter 4 - The Black Sheep

"So, let me get this straight..."

"Dad, we've been over this nine... was it nine? Yeah, nine times now-"

"You changed the past to bring us back to life?"

"Well, technically, to make sure you never died, but yeah-"

"But how does that work? Ugh, gods, just thinking about what happened makes my head hurt."

We were sitting in a ghastly white room. Fluorescent lighting gave the area a hospital-like pallor, and the only things decorating the room were three chairs (one for Miklos, dad, and I), a table, a canister of water, and several styrofoam cups. Both my dad and my half-brother were holding their heads in their hands, trying to stave off migraines - the ones I had inadvertently given them after last night.

"I thought I was doing something good. I was saving you and my brother-"

"Half-brother-"

"Does that matter?"

"...look, Aidec, the next time... something happens to me or anyone else for that matter, don't bend fate. You see my nosebleed?" He pointed to the dried stream of blood coming from both nostrils.

"That's my brain trying to process having two distinct memories in the exact place. You don't know how confusing it is to come to terms with remembering being dead and alive at the same time. That's just one of the reasons Caruvitha banned fate-bending. And if doing such a saintly thing can have negative repercussions, imagine what could happen if someone wanted to use it for evil."

"Dad-"

"Stop. I mean it, Aidec. Miklos and I can't go through this again-"

"I lost mom, do you really think I'm gonna lose you too?!"

The door to the holding cell slammed open, and a very red-faced guard poked his head through. "Quiet, both of you. Captain Velian will be seeing you in just a moment."

The guard shut the door, leaving my father staring at the cell exit. His face appeared to be processing what the guard said.

"...did he say... Velian?"

Miklos glanced over at Dad. "Wait, who's Velian? Do you know her?"

"Know her?" Dad scoffed. "Kids, Velian is my-"

He couldn't finish. A woman with long, blonde hair, sea-blue eyes, and glasses calmly walked into our cell. She gave a passing glance at me and Miklos before settling her gaze onto my Dad. Her pursed lips curled into a grin.

"Lyall, brother. When they told me you were here I could hardly believe it. It's been a while, I can tell." Velian glanced at Miklos and I again.

My father rubbed the back of his neck, glancing at the woman's business suit. "Aha, yeah. Um, kids, meet your aunt. Velian Farenart."




Somehow, Velian got an official pardon from the Prime Minister of Caruvitha for us. Whether she used my Row status or not, I never knew - nor did I want to press. Instead, she took us to Riverside Cafe, where her daughter worked, to "catch up" with my father.

"You guys have quite the story..." Velian muttered, munching on a croissant. "Travel restrictions to N'al Ren have been extremely tight here in the archipelago, and everywhere else I'm sure, because of the wars."

"Just a lot of bad history there," Lyall replied, staring at his coffee. "We seem like the madhouse of the world, huh?"

"Eh, you guys won't be alone. I've been hearing talks of violent worker rebellions in Lendohar. Not that I don't blame them, but..." Velian trailed off when a young girl in an apron, roughly my age, walked up and introduced herself.

"Hi. My name's Gretchen. I'm her daughter," she said, gesturing to my aunt. "And you are?"

"Gretchen, this is your uncle, Lyall. And these are his sons, Miklos and Aidec." Velian pointed at us respectively.

My cousin nodded. She looked hauntingly like me. "It's nice to meet you both. Aidec, I heard you're in the Row. That must be exciting."

Oh, so very much.

"It... it is,"I said. "Though these days, it's-"

"Darling, could you fetch us some more tea?" Velian handed her cup to her daughter, who wrinkled her nose but regained her composure.

"Will do, ma'am," she obliged, putting a sharp inflection on the last word, and my cousin walked off.

Velian turned back to us. "Sorry about that. Gretchen has had this crazy notion of fleeing to N'al Ren and becoming a Row member ever since she's heard about it. When she learned Aidec was in the clan, well, she had a fit. 'Why is he allowed to be in the Row, and not me?! Why can't I do something with my life?!'"

Lyall shook his head. "Being in the Row is not all it's cracked up to be," he replied plainly. "Way too dangerous. Too deadly."

Velian nodded, staring at our plates. "...I never got the chance to say, Lyall, but I'm sorry about Marin."

My father shook his head. "It's so complicated, sis. What's done is done. Only thing I can do now is hope to improve, and help the Row any way I can."

Aunt Velian stared at my father. "About that, Lyall... I've been trying to tell you for some time, but-"

"Again, Vel, thank you but no thank you. My duty is with N'al Ren. I wanna be able to help those kids back there any way I can. I can't just leave all that behind, no matter how much I miss you." Lyall pushed his plate away.

My aunt sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "Come to think of it, what are you doing here, besides committing felonies?"

I spoke up this time. "The Godmother. She's-"

Forks and spoons clattered around me. A couple glances were cast to our direction. In the corner of the diner, an old man suddenly spurt out in a coughing fit. Velian's eyes widened, and she raised a finger to her lips.

"Okay, okay. You trying to give everyone here a heart attack?" She glared at me for a few moments, before calming down. "Sorry. Old G's been looming over Caruvitha for some time, even when she's in N'al Ren. Been threatening to set off Mount Calonis and cast the world into eternal darkness or some shit. Naturally people are scared of her."

"Which is why we want to stop her," Miklos replied. "She told us to meet her at Mount Calonis, actually."

"Seriously? And you're going through with it? Did she say what she wanted to meet you guys there for?"

"She wanted Aidec's axe, Sentinel," my father muttered. "But it's-"

Velian stopped him. "We have it. We confiscated it from Aidec. I can get it back for you... but do you know what she wants it for?"

"From my estimates... not really, besides the fact that she claims to be 'helping us,'" Dad sighed. "But Aidec says he has a plan."

My aunt looked me up and down. "Oh, does he. Well, sadly for us, we have to respect a Row members plans, even if they do seem vague, dangerous, and stupid."

She turned back to my Dad, rising. "I'll have some of my people escort you to Bastion and return the axe to you. But guys, please, think about what you're doing." Velian dropped her patronizing tone. "You know how this woman works. Old G is incredibly horrible. She's the Zenh'aliem of Caruvitha."

"Vel, when will you stop worrying about me?" My dad smiled, getting up.

My aunt did not return his demeanor. "When you're safe."




Velian bid us farewell when we reached the island of Uneka, in front of the gates of Bastion - a Tal Katahnian research center. She gave my father a hug - he had to practically pull her off.

"I have my doubts for all three of you guys," she muttered. "But if you really do have the chance to kill that bitch... take it."

With that, Velian stepped into her hovercraft, taking off from the rocky, volcanic shore of the island.

We watched her take off, staring into the distant blue skies for quite a while. It was only when I felt a tap on my shoulder that I sprung back to reality, instantly whipping out Sentinel, who gave off a gleam of blue light.

The stranger - equipped with a heavily tinted military-grade helmet and fatigues - shot his hands into the air. "Woah, woah, woah, kiddo. Captain Velian asked us to accompany you three." The man spoke with a coarse voice, as if he'd been sleeping for the past year or so. Two other figures appeared behind him, wearing the exact same outfits.

"I'm Corporal Blight. Behind me are Private Lance and Private Glade," he introduced. "There's a lot of nasty creatures on the way to Mount Calonis, so we're here to assist any way we can." He hefted a large assault rifle on his back. Lance had a massive RPG launcher, while Glade wielded two broadswords.

I put Sentinel, who was still flashing blue, back on my shoulder, and shook Blight's hand. "Happy to have the assistance. But, aren't we supposed to have an assault hovercraft?"

"Yes, but when I say nasty creatures, I mean really nasty. Think Laraadru. Shamantis. Living Obsidian," Blight warned. Miklos shuddered at the mentions of the names.

I nodded in understanding as Blight, Glade, and Lance led us to the hovercraft. As they did, I hung back with my father.

"Hey dad?" I asked tentatively.

"Yes, Aidec?" He asked, glancing over at me.

"How come you never told me about Velian? Or Gretchen?"

My father sighed, glancing up at the dark mountain that loomed far in the distance. "Well... I guess because you never asked. And to be honest, until a point, Velian and I were never close. See, I was kind of the black sheep of the family. I was the trouble maker. I was the rule breaker. I brought up old habits that the Farenart family had left behind. Velian was nothing like me. She came to Caruvitha, established a good position in the government, and began a family. I... screwed around a lot."

Miklos scoffed, but my father continued. "I was the black sheep of the family. And unfortunately, that led us to where we are now.

But, that's in the past. We need to focus on the now. And right now, we have a witch to hunt," my father said grimly as we reached the hovercraft.




(*frantically tries to finish before IR2*)
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by WritingBookworm on Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:41 am

Interesting chapter. I liked Velian. Very Happy

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[Infinity's Row: Interlude l Anaphora: Pariah l Infinity's Row: Uncontrollable l Anaphora: Vengeance]
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Sat Dec 03, 2016 5:30 pm

Chapter 5 - To Mount Calonis

I hated Living Obsidian. I still do to this day.

Imagine the largest sea serpent you've ever heard of. Now think bigger than that. These things are as thick as skyscrapers, twice as large, and made of almost indestructible rock.

They also carry a great disdain for anything that moves. Which, unfortunately, included us.

We were passing over the island of Alatho - next stop, Calonis. Private Lance commandeered our hovercraft through the thickening skies as more flurries of ash drifted from the volcano before us. The cloudy sky was tinged with red and orange. It would have been a beautiful sunset, if it wasn't midday.

I paced back and forth in the cabin, anxious for the journey to be over. As I did, I kept glancing over at the Bastion forces. Something about them seemed off: the way Glade never spoke, how neither of them took their helmets off even when they were inside, the fact that Velian never informed us that we'd be getting assistance... but I chalked it down to nerves. Dad and Miklos didn't appear concerned, so why should I be? Besides, if we ever came across a dragon-lion beast, the three of us alone couldn't take it down.

"Hey, boss?" Lance's voice rang out across the cabin. A beeping red light was flashing on one of the monitors; from where I stood, it appeared to be a radar of some sort.

Within seconds, Blight appeared by Lance's chair, staring down at the screen. The rest of us were by his side moments later.

"Is it a missile?" Lance asked. "Should we turn on the defense systems?" He reached towards a blue switch, but Blight held his hand down.

"I don't see anything glowing in the distance," I commented, peering out into the windshield. Indeed, there didn't seem to be anything in the skies.

"That's because it's not in the air," Blight muttered.

Dad turned to Blight, frowning slightly. "Then what is it?"

"It's coming from the ground. Everyone needs-"

Millions of glass shards pelted my face as the ship suddenly lurched backwards. My face hit the steel floor as the front of the hovercraft curled inward, sirens blaring all the while. I rose slowly to my feet while the ship spiraled towards the ground. Private Lance was hunched over the controls, unconscious - Blight unceremoniously pushed him out of the seat.

"This ship is totaled," he shouted, jiggling the controls to no avail. "When we crash, we need to make a run for it. We're toast if we just sit around."

"Go ahead and carry Lance," Dad urged, bracing himself on the back of the seat. "Maybe we can slow it down with the rocket launcher."

Neither Glade nor Blight replied. Instead, our ship careened into the dusty hillsides of Alatho, gouging a rough trench in the landscape.




Stars danced across my vision. Miklos shoved me out of the ruins of the hovercraft, and together the four of us followed Blight and Lance towards the west coast of the island. Behind me, Glade's rocket launcher sounded off, muffled by my daze.

Rubble, smoke, and ash rained down on us. The earth shook as the monsters dove into the ground again, piercing the crust once more like dolphins breaching the surf.

The initial concussion didn't appear to do much to serve my memory. There were at least two Living Obsidian after us - Glade took down one, sending boulders flying everywhere as the beast exploded, but used up all of his ammo in the process. We had no choice but to keep running west.

By the time we reached the west side of Alatho, Lance was on his feet again. We sat down on the black sand as the remaining monster turned back from the sea, retreating into the distant earth.

"Seems it's given up on its hunt," I muttered, exhausted and bewildered.

Lance shook his head. "No... it's Calonis. No living thing would dare go near that island, and for good reason."

"Oh, right." Miklos wiped his brow. "It's cursed."

Near the shoreline, Blight and Glade seemed to be having a heated discussion. With the wind and sea, I couldn't make out anything, but after a few minutes, they appeared to come to an agreement.

I rose to meet them. "So, what's our next step?" I asked, ready to continue.

"Your next step," Blight replied, "Is to get to Mount Calonis. But as you can tell, we don't have any ship. Right, Glade?"

Glade nodded, arms folded across his chest, and Blight continued. "Luckily for you, Glade has a... special way of getting there. But it'll cost you."

My father raised an eyebrow at this. "You keep using "you"... does that mean you're not coming with us?"

"Oh, we are," Lance said dismissively. "Don't worry about us. It's you three that are on this mission."

Miklos turned to our dad. "Well, Lyall? What should we do?"

Dad glanced around at all of us. A new scar had begun to form above his left eye. "I don't think we have a choice. We gotta get to that mountain one way or the other. I trust your idea still works, Aidec?"

I blinked twice, trying to register his words. "Oh? Yeah, it should. It better." But I couldn't tell if my hesitation was due to the concussion, or uncertainty. Probably both.

Corporal Blight nodded. "Very well. Glade?"

The private quickly held his hands out, stretching the palms towards us. He clenched his hands into fists, as if grasping for something out in front of him. Glade pulled his fists apart, and at the same time, a dark rift formed in front of him, leading into some unknown dimension.

"Go on ahead. We'll follow." Blight gave me a thumbs-up, but his words sounded more like an order than a suggestion. Regardless, I headed through the portal, Miklos and my father in tow.

The trip lasted only one second, but it felt as if I was trapped in a glacier for a thousand years. The hairs on my body prickled, and by the time I was out the other side, I was shivering in the 100+ degree heat.

Miklos was next to come out of the portal, shaking as well. But the look in his eyes as he met my right side, gazing up at the volcano before us helped solidify my previous suspicions.

"Aidec, something is wrong. I recognized that place, the darkness in there. Glade's... I think he's-"

He couldn't finish. The sharp edge of a broadsword met my jugular vein, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Miklos slowly raise his hands into the air. The barrel of an assault rifle met the back of his head. To my left, my dad sighed, putting his hands into the air as another broadsword went to his neck.

"You know, Aidec, you should really start to learn to trust your instincts," Blight sneered, prodding the back of Miklos's head. "I thought you would have learned that lesson since we last met."

I shuddered. That voice... I recognized it now. But that's impossible. How could he... unless Sanctumism. But even then, the Godmother...

"As it stands, you all seem to be vain from the start. Bastion is a research facility, not a military base. Tal Katahn would never shell out forces for you. Now move," Blight barked. "Up the path, and don't get any ideas. The Godmother will see you now."




(omg, almost done. Two, maybe three chapters left?)
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:59 am

A long final chapter, which is why I'm splitting it up (posting part 2 tomorrow). If it seems rushed, I apologize. But that's only because I'm excited to get started on my projects for Harwell's and IR2. The stories I have planned for both RPGs are going to be quite different from what I've written for RPGs in the past, but nevertheless, they're going to be amazing. (I may even have a story murking around in my head for Sands of Time. I definitely have an idea for... lots of things.)

If you've kept up with my ramblings for this long, then I thank you. The Farenart arc is probably one of the most complicated and twisted things I've conceived, maybe ever, and I'm sure at times it was probably hard to follow. Even I'm a little shaky on what exactly Caruvithan magic does. But regardless, I enjoyed it, and I hope you did too. Here's to a fantastic 2017 Smile



Chapter 6 - An Uncertain End, Part One


The stinging sensation of bile rose up my throat as our former allies marched my father, step-brother, and I to the peak of Mount Calonis. I clasped my left hand around my communicator, only to realize it wasn’t there.

In retrospect, I guess I was kind of an idiot to not be suspicious enough. The fact that they never took off their helmets, how my aunt never mentioned anyone would be escorting us…

...Who am I kidding? Of course I was an idiot. Seemed my whole life was just filled to the brim of making stupid mistakes. I could forgive myself all I wanted. Forgiveness doesn’t erase the past. Nothing does. Not even Caruvithan witchcraft. And it sure as hell doesn’t erase this.

It was by this time that Blight, Lance, and Glade had removed their helmets. Blight was, in fact, a ghastly pale face with stringy brown hair and sunken blue eyes. Despite those decrepit features, his stature appeared as if he could take a thousand armies and still have energy for more. Of course I recognized him. It had been at least a year since I faced the leader of the fallen Brontium Guild.

Even after being dead all this time, it seemed the features of Kilezhan’s once handsome face had returned, all thanks to Sanctumism. His green eyes pierced the back of my father’s head - no doubt eager to deliver his vengeance upon him for his fling with Terena Gravis… I hated to admit it, but at the time, part of me wanted to sympathize with the bastard. To see the love of your life taken away by another person…

I gulped, pushing the bile back down. None of what he did would ever be forgivable. Killing his family, killing my mother... I had to remember that.

Finally, Glade. His mutism became quite clear to me, as it appeared he could never speak to begin with. Whoever the Raven Jun decided to take over, it was quite clear he couldn’t handle the power of Nocturne. All that remained was the literal shadow of a man, face smooth as steel.

But what haunted me most wasn’t that three of my worst enemies were suddenly brought back into existence (though that was a pants-shitter in and of itself). It was that they were all working for her now.

“Any plans, son?” My father cast his eyes in my direction. I simply shook my head.

The volcano rumbled before us.




We didn’t see her at first - in fact, we didn’t see much at all. The reports that Mount Calonis was becoming more active seemed to be grounded, as ash soon began to cover us from head to toe. Our captors didn’t seem to mind - instead, they pushed us forward towards the heart of the volcano.

Soon, the clouds began to disperse, revealing a massive caldera ringing the top of the mount. Waves of heat pulsed at us, and soon I was drenched in sweat. Miklos wiped the moisture from his brow. We gazed down at the faint orange glow deep within the earth.

“It’s terrifying, isn’t it?”

All six of us turned around at once. Before us, blocking the mountain path, was a woman of tall stature, donning a purple dress and hair stacked up high. Her pink stare froze us where we stood - even her minions. After all, they were under her control somehow.

“Oh, Aidec, I’m so glad you and yours were able to come after all this time,” the Godmother crooned, giving me a toothy smile. She eyed the oak handle poking out from behind my back. “And I see you’ve brought me exactly what I needed.”

As she walked over to me, my mind raced. Okay, clearly I’m not control of the current situation right now. Should I play dumb? ...No, being dumb is what got me into this in the first place. Be defiant? That’ll probably just get us killed…

The Godmother stopped in front of me, interrupting my thoughts. “Thank you, Farenart child. Now, hand Sentinel to me.” She held her hands out in front of me.

I stared at her, blinking. “...that’s it? No victorious monologue about how you bested us, and about your plans for world domination?”

She humphed, rolling her eyes at me. “You lot aren’t worth the trouble. And believe me, global domination is at the bottom of my list. The last thing I want to do is rule this world.”

Miklos raised his left hand - well, raised it higher, since we were already being held at gunpoint. “Um… well, what exactly do you plan on doing? And what does Aidec’s axe have to do with it?”

The Godmother refused to lower her arms, or her guard. “The axe is only one ingredient for what I need to do. Once I have Aidec’s weapon, it’s only a matter of time before I gain control of the others.”

“The others?” I asked, narrowing my eyes. “I don’t have any other weapons. None as important as Sentinel, anyways.”

“Self-centered as always, Aidec,” the Godmother chided. “Runite’s Row weaponry is exceptionally valuable, even if some of it is not magical. They bind to their owner. You and your father will be my first victims… but most certainly not my last.”

“Hey,” Dad growled. “You said you would let us go, you bitch.”

“And you said you would retrieve the Kryze sword,” the villainess shot back. “Don’t lecture me about broken promises, Lyall. At any rate, I don't exactly remember promising that. Maybe I'm getting old and forgetful? Oh, well.” She focused her attention back to me as her minions returned to her side, guns still pointed at our heads.

“Now, Aidec. The axe. Don’t make this more messy than it needs to be.”

I looked at the palms of her hands. They were immaculate, well groomed and without wrinkle. I could almost see the blood stains growing on her hands as I imagined handing over Sentinel to her.

“No. I don’t think I will,” I said, puffing out my chest and attempting to stare her down.

“Oh?” The Godmother glanced at Kilezhan before focusing back on us. “Are you sure about that?”

I exchanged glances with my father - who seemed completely at unease with the moment - and then nodded. “You’ll have to kill me before I hand this thing to a witch like you.”

A long silence followed. “...Aidec, you remembered what I said about not making a mess of things.”

Kilezhan readied his rifle, putting in a fresh magazine.

“And you remember what I said about having to kill me first,” I retorted, looking at the barrel of the assault rifle in my uncle’s hands.

“I did…”

My uncle gazed through the sights and raised his weapon.

“But I’m afraid you’re too valuable to me at the moment.”

A finger went to the trigger.

“Fortunately, your half-brother isn’t.”

Three gunshots rang out across the mountaintop, and I watched in disbelief and horror as Miklos slumped to the ground, blood pouring out of his face.




To be concluded.
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:18 am

Chapter 6 - An Uncertain End, Part Two


“Now, Aidec, I’ll ask again-”

“NO!” My face flushed with anger as I gripped Sentinel, swinging at Nocturne and the Godmother. The former evaporated into a black mist, while the latter faded out of existence.

At the same moment, my father thrust his fist into Kilezhan’s jaw, generating a loud crack and forcing him to drop his rifle. Dad picked it up as my uncle staggered back, howling in pain. The barrel lifted towards Lord Brontium, who raised his hands in protest, dropping his own weapon.

The Godmother reappeared in front of us, standing over Miklos’s limp body. She sneered at Kilezhan before snapping her fingers. After several moments, his screams began to abate. He removed his hands from his jaw, and Kyle’s trademark frown returned.

“Fucking morons,” she muttered. I couldn’t tell if she was talking about us or her henchmen. Likely both.

I clenched my axe in my hands, glancing between the Godmother and Miklos. “You’re definitely gonna die now,” I muttered, wiping tears from my eyes. “I want your head on a pike after what you did.”

“You’ve gone too far, Leanalva,” my father warned. His newfound weapon wavered between Lord Brontium and Kilezhan. Nocturne was still nowhere to be found.

“No,” she whispered. “I haven’t gone far enough.” The Godmother glared daggers at me. “Hand it over. Now. Or more will die. I'll see to it.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Why don’t you just take it from me…?” But even as I trailed off, it hit me.

It’s because you can’t, I realized, staring at the menacing scowl on her face. Of course. Sentinel was a Row weapon, bound to its owner. As long as I held onto it, she couldn’t magic it out of my hands. She was counting on me to give it up willingly.

Like hell.

I didn’t get a chance to tell her to fuck off, though. Before I could raise my hand to give her the bird, a low droning sound shook the earth around us, and for a moment, I thought the volcano was about to blow its top.

But it wasn’t. It was, however, about to become a landing platform for a hovercraft. One that, to both my horror and excitement, I recognized - it bore the Fa'alwind Regime's symbol.

We all stared, dumbfounded, as the machine landed, interrupting this once tense and uncertain moment. The cockpit doors opened and released its cargo…

...and out stepped Rafael, Silvien, and Xanther.




Silvien let out a short cry as her eyes settled on Miklos’s body; but she regained her composure as she joined me and my father, along with her brother and my cousin.

“We came as soon as we could,” Rafael explained poorly. “I’m sorry about…” He gestured towards the Godmother.

“Never mind that,” I scoffed. “Why the hell did you come in the first place?”

“Luka,” Xanther shrugged. “That kid just… knows things. It’s unnerving sometimes. I bet it’s got something to do with our family, but most of our records got destroyed in the Clan Wars.”

"Well, it doesn't matter now." Silvien's voice piped up. She walked to her brother's side. "All that matters is that we're here to help take this bitch down."

"Dalakanth spawn, need I remind you of what happened to your father?" The Godmother waved her left hand, and in it appeared an onyx staff that glowed a dark violet. "I have a nice pit that I'm not afraid to throw you lot over."

"At this point, we won't go down unless we take you with us," Rafael shot back, taking out his rifle. Kilezhan and Lord Brontium (who managed to re-equip himself with Nocturne's swords) moved next to the Godmother as the rest of us stared the other side down.

"Three against five," I whispered to my father.

"Think we can take them?" he inquired.

"...I have no idea."

And with that, we charged forth.

*  *  *

Mount Calonis seemed to tremble with each strike. My father and I faced off with Leanalva while Xanther, Silvien, and Rafael faced off against Kilezhan and Lord Brontium.

I had never seen the Godmother actually fight, so it threw me off guard when she began holding her own quite easily. Her onyx staff was definitely imbued with some dark magic - Sentinel bounced off of it quite easily. Dad's bullet's didn't help much, either - they never reached their target. The bullets would either curl around her or drop to the ground.

I directed a quick swing at her legs; she responded by jamming her staff into the ground, knocking my father and I back several feet with a sharp boom. Dad lifted me up as I struggled to regain my composure, and we charged once more.

Meanwhile, my three friends were having trouble of their own. Silvien's staff was flying all over the place, growing jagged with each blade strike. Out of bullets (quite uncharacteristic for him as well), Rafael resorted to bashing at Lord Brontium with the butt of his rifle. And the nearby dust cloud told me that Xanther and his dad decided to forgo their weapons and duke it out melee-style.

As I blocked and slashed at the Godmother, I had come to realize something - Nocturne still hadn't materialized again. Had he really teleported away? Or did something much worse happen to him?

I had no time to think about it, as Leanalva's tactics suddenly changed - instead of trying to subdue me, she resorted to making grabs at Sentinel.

When her wretched hands did latch on, I threw my weight against her to shove her away. But her grip was iron, and when she fell, so did I. We kicked, punched, and at times even bit at each other, all to wrestle control from the other. The two of us were so occupied with keeping control, neither of us realized how close we were to the rim of the caldera.

"Let go, Farenart!" Leanalva howled. "You can't hold on to your future forever!"

"You have no right to control anyone's lives," I hissed. "Past or future, living or dead."

As we rolled closer to the deadly drop, Sentinel flashed in all shades of blue.

"And you have no right to control the divinity of the Zodiac weapons," she shouted, throwing a punch at my face.

Blood gushed from my nose - it was a direct hit. I struggled to think through the ringing noise in my head. "Zodiac weapon? The hell are you talking about-"

"You idiot. That damn spirit Kih'vrad never told you he was a Zodiac disciple?"

"There was a lot of things he never told me, lady." With that I reciprocated her punch, delivering a nice blow to her eye. "Now, what the hell do you mean by Zodiac weapon?"

The Godmother stopped struggling to compose herself. "Forged by Magus himself, the patron spirit of Magnus. It has the ability to sense hazard, but it can do much more than that. More than you will ever think." She gazed down into the abyss right next to us. "Or ever know."

The Godmother threw her body weight over the edge, sending the two of us towards the lake of fire.

"Not so fast."

I gritted my teeth in pain, holding my entire body weight up as my hands gripped Sentinel's handle. The blade had dug itself into the cliff side, holding me and Leanalva above our demise.

"We're inseparable," I declared. "I'm not letting go of this axe, no matter what. You might as well drop yourself."

To my surprise, the Godmother began to giggle. "Aidec, you're such a stupid boy."

The witch let go, hovering in mid-air. "You forgot a little something," she reminded me, taking out her glowing rod of onyx. "I still have my staff."

She raised her weapon high into the air. "And you... you will soon have nothing."

I screamed in horror as a blinding white light engulfed me. The cliff side gave way, sending boulders down into the fiery abyss, and I tumbled along with them. Dirt and ash showered me as I fell backwards towards the lava, gripping Sentinel tight in my hands.

The last thing I saw before I plunged into the molten rock was the glowing blade of Sentinel, shimmering and shifting in the red light.

*  *  *

My nerves were ablaze. Literally.

I could feel, almost see my body disintegrating as the lava burned away. I opened my mouth to cry out in pain, prompting the liquid fire to pour into my esophagus and trachea. My insides began to melt.

No no no no no no no no no no, this can't be it, I'm not dying, I don't want to die, I can't die, my friends need me my father needs me, this can't be the end oh Ciel someone save me, save me please it hurts so damn much

"Aidec."

The two syllables echoed in my head, but I quickly recognized the voice. It had been so long since I'd heard it. I tried to respond, but all I could do was feel the burning and simmering of my face, my torso and arms and legs.

The lava glowed warmly, eventually growing to a hot, white light. I could no longer feel the fire - I couldn't feel anything at all. It took me a few moments to realize I was even standing on my feet now. My shoes melted away, along with the rest of my clothes, but I now donned a white shirt and slacks. The skin and muscle covering my bones had returned.

"What the..." I stared down at my reformed self, then to Sentinel. It shone a bright white, almost blending in with the surrounding.

"Aidec, behind you."

Slowly, I turned around to face the speaker. Before me, a helmeted man with elegant shoulder guards, chest plate, and high metal boots stared out at me.

Of course, I knew who it was - one of my favorite ghosts. "Kih'vrad."

The disciple of Magus nodded, a warm smile spreading across his face. "I'm glad to see you've held onto Sentinel all this time."

I didn't acknowledge his regard. I was still too stunned to quite understand what was happening. "Am... Kih'vrad, am I dead?"

He rubbed his chin. "You, Aidec... you are on the border of life and death. Pits of lava are not very forgiving, I'm afraid, and few people if any survive to tell the tale."

"In fact," he continued, "If you did not hold onto the axe, I believe you and I would be speaking in Purgatory at this moment. It can be a powerful anchor, and so much more."

I nodded. "Leanalva told me that Sentinel does more than warn me about danger."

"It does. As a relic of Magnus, it can do powerful things. But most importantly, it can act as a key to gateways, both within and without," Kih'vrad explained. "It can release our greatest qualities and flaws, or it can lock them away."

"But," I began, "Why does the Godmother want it so badly?"

Kih'vrad frowned. "I believe she wants to use it to open another door entirely. A door that could spell disaster for N'al Ren, and beyond."

I gulped, thinking about Arker's desire to conquer Purgatory. "Well, she's not alone."

"With Sentinel's power, Leanalva could step outside of your realm, outside of all realms. As long as she holds it, she can erase your history, your friend's lives... she could eventually rewrite time as we know it." Kih'vrad sat down cross-legged, staring up at me.

"So..." I thought aloud. "How do I stop her?"

Kih'vrad pointed at my axe. "I told you what she can do with it. Sentinel can open a door to outside of all realms. As long as she's holding it... she can do infinite harm."

I sighed. "Basically what you just told me. Which is why I can't let her get the axe."

The disciple face-palmed. "You're not getting it, are you? Do I have to repeat myself, you insolent boy?"

"Of course I'm not getting it!" I shouted. "Why do you supernatural-types always have to be so damn cryptic?"

"You children have no schools," the spirit scowled. "Someone's gotta teach you."

I rolled my eyes, staring at the glowing blade. "It can open the door to beyond our reality..." I muttered to myself. "So long as she's holding it, she can..."

"Yes," Kih'vrad urged. "You're getting it now."

"If she's holding the axe, she can do harm." I focused my attention to the spirit. "I have to open the door and send her away."

Kih'vrad clapped. "Now you're onto something!"

I shook my head. "I don't know how, sir. Everything Sentinel has done up until now has been passive."

"Yes, but Sentinel is bound to you. Its magic is within your mind now." The warrior tapped my forehead. "It's like an extra limb. All you must do is will it to open the door."

Great. Would have been nice to know that a long time ago, I thought to myself sullenly.

"The time was not right." Kih'vrad's mind reading powers startled me. "There are very few locations in the world where the door can be opened - Mount Calonis included - and this power can only be used once every several years."

"Now go," he declared. "Rise from the ashes, Aidec Icaris Farenart. Magnus and Ciel smile upon you."

The floor beneath me shook, and red cracks formed in the sky above me. My feet lifted up off of the ground, and soon I was rocketing upwards, back to our reality.

*  *  *

The lava bubbled and boiled as I shot out of the caldera, Sentinel's white glow guiding me towards the Godmother. She gaped in astonishment, as did the rest of my allies - both Kilezhan and Lord Brontium were AWOL, like Nocturne.

"You..." the witch gasped. "You little maggot. The powers of the Zodiac weapons shouldn't belong to children, especially such a mortal being like yourself."

"I'm getting tired of this, Leanalva." I glared in defiance, floating closer to her. "Real tired. I know all about your plan now. Rewriting time just to make it fit your needs... how did you fall so low? How could someone become so despicable and egotistical?"

The Godmother did not answer. She squinted at me, then Sentinel - and finally lunged towards the axe.

The world moved in slow motion as I pointed the axe not at the villain, but at the center of the caldera. My veins coursed with energy as my mind attempted to reach out towards the door, to unleash the Zodiac energy and open it.

Slowly at first, the lava began to rotate and act as a whirlpool. Plumes of ash rose up as a bright vortex of shining color violently cracked open. Sentinel shook and vibrated under the raw power, and I struggled to hold my grip, bucking and swaying in the sudden whirlwind.

"No!" Leanalva screamed, trying desperately to escape from the door. Her dress whipped around as she began to fall further and further into the portal. "AIDEC FARENART, I-"

And then silence. The smoke ceased, the lava slowed once more until it settled into a resting position, and Sentinel and I began to drift back down to the earth.




It's at this point in the story that you'd expect us all to pat each other on the backs, pick up Miklos, and fly off into the sunset back to N'al Ren as a peaceful group.

As you should have expected, that did not happen. The Row is very rarely granted such a luxury.

When I landed, I watched my father in shock as he fell to his knees. Watching his eyes roll into the back of his head is probably, next to my mother's death, one of the most horrifying things I've ever had to witness.

The four of us lifted him and Miklos back to the hovercraft. Rafael explained that as I was inside the lava pit, the Godmother turned her attention to the rest of us. The two Row members and Rafe were able to fend off most of Leanalva's attacks, but a dark bolt struck my father in the chest.

Silvien had theorized that it was some sort of binding spell, and that when the Godmother had died, so too would my father... well, okay, she didn't actually mention death. But it was implied.

But unlike Miklos, my father hadn't died. As we returned to the Row's hideout, the doctors had determined that Dad was in a state of comatose origins. Despite having no voluntary movement, he was still alive.

And now that I think about it, Leanalva Dovastintska must be as well.

I have no idea where that monstrous woman went. Kih'vrad was vague as all hell when he talked about "outside all realms." Perhaps she was stuck in nonexistence. Perhaps some other poor world has to deal with her now. All I knew then was that another threat was finally taken care of.

More awaited back home, however. The Second Great Clan War was far from over, my half-brother had died, and my father could not awake. It all seemed bleak, especially when I knew more death loomed on the horizon. When I returned, I had shut myself off from the outside world. I was a closed door to everyone, and wanted to remain that way for a long time.

But, as Sentinel demonstrated, doors are meant to be opened.



THE END




...COMING SOON...

Early 2017
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by WritingBookworm on Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:47 pm

Finally finished catching up. RIP Miklos :'(

That was great! Aside from Miklo's death, how dare you asdkfsd Can't wait for Hereafter!

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[Infinity's Row: Interlude l Anaphora: Pariah l Infinity's Row: Uncontrollable l Anaphora: Vengeance]
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

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