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About Varied / Hobbyist Official Beta Tester JennaFemale/United States Groups :iconcatwalkchallenge: CatwalkChallenge
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Checklist of my other checklist of my first checklist...

Crazy Smiling Twilight Sparkle Vector by Thorinair
[x] finish Valor-Union-OCT judge sheet
[x] finish round 2 for Zenith-OCT
[x] finish drawings for round 2 of Zenith-OCT
[ ] finish map for Zenith-OCT
[ ] work on characters for Farewill
[ ] work on map for Farewill
[ ] finish audition for TheCure-OCT
[ ] finish Farewill judge sheet
[x] update CatwalkChallenge for Sept
[x] update AuLiCha for Sept
[x] get more familiar with Callers-of-Dragons site
[ ] post updates to OCTFollowers <--- yea, this one is ongoing...
[x] work on Callers-of-Dragons page
[ ] Halloween challenge
.................................................. You did WHAT to my Boutique?! by grievousfan

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News Update!

Journal Entry: Thu Oct 16, 2014, 9:27 AM
I know I've been kinda quiet the last week or so but fear not I've been dropping in when I can. I figured I'd update y'all as to why...

1. Work - we're holiday driven and this week has both administrative holidays and sweetest day so I'm going to see a pretty pay check next friday.
2. Family - I'm still dealing with windfall from estate sales after my grandmother passed away in april AND my oldest has yet again needed to be grounded from all things tech AND my step dad is back in chemo so I'm helping with all the end of the year yard work and winter prep at their place.
3. Health - I listened to my friends and went to the Dr. turns out the growth on my hand was not just a wart it was the beginings of a strain of basal cell carcinoma (I probaby spelled that wrong). Also, I have a 3d mammogram and lung CT in November to look at some prior issues that were found nearly 2 years ago now... oO damn, time flies. Add to that some abnormal test results that are sending me in for possible cervical/uterine cancer.... On the plus side I finally stopped smoking completely! No more vapor cigs for me either.

Add all that up and I've just been dropping in for the past two weeks to make sure things are running. I am not giving up on my OCTs nor my Groups. I have plans! And I have time off coming up so I shall be able to sit down and focus on those plans. The OCT Addicts Group is still in the works. I'm just getting everything ready for it. So please, feel free to note and message me. I will see them during my breaks and i will respond.

Oh... And I'll top this all off with the latest in Ebola news. Incompetant health care worker came through our local airport and was visiting where my haunted house is located (Cleveland, Akron and Summit County, Ohio)... so I'm like this now...
Breaking news of Ebola got me feeling like... W/ MaxJr

Bullet; Orange My Groups
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Bullet; Orange Contributing/CoFounder of
:iconcelestialhorizon-oct:

Bullet; Orange OCT Mod/Scout Groups
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Bullet; Orange OCTs Participating In/Judging
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CoD Rank Medals: Soldier by HJLyn




















  • Mood: Anxious
  • Listening to: the quiet of y house before work
  • Reading: this
  • Watching: my ferrets dangle drunkenly from their cot
  • Playing: my cell phone
  • Eating: nothing
  • Drinking: nothing

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HJLyn
Jenna
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Originally from Colorado, now in Ohio, I'm a mother of three that is simply on DA for the enjoyment of it. I'm not a professional artist. I'm an author in limbo. Art is merely a way to destress for me. Now I'm off to work on things that need to be finished.
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Beyond the forests lay the fields.

Beyond those the city gates.

It was in that between, where tall grasses and slight mounds stretched out to give the tower watch a clear line of sight that Inari was to meet her next opponent. In the time since she woke, there hadn't been another moment of rest. A lot had happened. Even more had been learned. Most of all a lot had changed. A week and a half seemed like forever and it still hadn't been long enough to forget the pain...

...Two days after she'd woken up...
Mistrust was a poison between two people but it couldn't be helped. Not after that day. Inari had gone back to sleep only to be woken by the rumbling purrs of her dear companion. Xerxes had been healed and now bore glowing rune brands about his neck and legs to prevent such terrible drains on his being. Not that they completely protected him but he wouldn't fall so close to death again. She was grateful to Szithlar for that much but it didn't rebuild what had been burned.

She'd spent that whole day learning of her family as she worked to loosen her sleep logged body. She'd seen the burns on Szithlar's arm. She'd found out that the part of her which helped create Xerxes came from her ancestor. So much she'd learned.

Then Szithlar presented her with how she would face her newest opponent. How he intended to help her. A set of shadow golems were set into her hands. In their resting state they were no more then tiny black lizards of shadow.

"Thought you said that I wouldn't be able to control them?"

"And you can't. But I can."

"You're confusing me again, elf."

"This is the point that I really regret losing your trust because... You're going to have to trust me." Smiling down at her irritated glare, he pressed her hands together enclosing the creations between her palms before setting his own over them. "This might feel a touch strange but try not to open your hands."

Her brow furrowed and she jumped as the once lazy looking things started to wriggle and writhe in her hand. Their bodies were firm but felt like silk until the sensation of something crawling into her skin started. Strange was an understatement. Trying to yank her hands away, she glared at him. It didn't hurt really but feeling them crawl under her flesh burrowing up along her inner arm was almost unbearable.

"What is this supposed to accomplish?" Shivering she was finally allowed to look down at her palms. Where she had expected slitted skin and blood to be there were only small runes encircled by three concentric rings.

"They have to be bonded with you before I can finish the spell that will let me control them." Softly tracing over one of the rings, he smiled as it shifted and moved causing her to wince from the feeling. "That was the easy part, Inari."

"I don't like how that sounds."

"Be that as it may..." taking hold of her wrist, he half led, half drug her towards a small cleared circle in back of her cabin.

Already runes and symbols were burnt into the ground from when Xerxes had been created. The dark arcane magics forever killing any regrowth of the forest there. Dark flames burned black from several candles floating in bowls made of shadow and filled with water. Being careful not to disturb or step on any of the design and warning her against it as well, Szithlar led her to the center.

"Since you seem more cooperative when I explain things to you, I will tell you what is going to happen."

"That's rather generous."

"Yes, well, I'd rather not have you panic then drag us both into some horrible accident. They usually don't end well in my line of work."

Grunting in agreement, she leveled her eyes on him and just waited.

"First, I'm going to bring out a bit of your ancestors' blood since it will help with the spell. Then I am going to exchange a bit of me for you." She looked ready to argue but he quickly quelled it with a touch of his clawed finger to her lips. "Ah ah, it will only hurt a bit and when we're all done I'm sure you'll find it will help a great deal with your particular ineptitude with controlling your abilities."

"Get on with it, I have practice to get to and Merle should be finished with my sword by now."

"I could have done that you know?"

"Oh, but you've done so much already."

His flat gaze turned into a sneer at her words and she found herself yanked roughly against him by that cold created arm. Firm fingers digging against the small of her back forced her to bite her lip against saying anything even as he loomed over her again. his touch had been so gentle on her cheek. His voice almost soothing as he began the chant that would furnish his casting. She couldn't look away even as her eyes grew heavy and her body lax. Warmth spread through her and a strange prick was felt against her lips.

Then it happened.
Pain...
Blinding...
Searing...
Pain...
She didn't remember screaming but he said she had. It lasted only a moment but it had been enough to knock her out for another day.


Lifting her gloved fingers to the bandages that covered her right eye, she frowned at the thought of what now lay beneath. All was fair though and her opponent had been playing in the fields already. She didn't know what he'd done exactly but Xerxes was restless at her side where they stood just within the shadow of the tree line. Dropping her touch back to the hilt of her repaired sword, she took  deep breath and watched as another one of her stepped out into the dismal light of a cloudy afternoon.

The armor shone in hopeful ribbons of sunlight trying to break through the wall of dark grey. Her face lay hidden in shadow and her hand was firm on her hilt. Even her voice with it's smokey tones was spot on as one of the golems she'd been gifted called out for her opponent to show himself.

Aeren Blanc was known in many circles for his contraptions and his strategy. Even Szithlar had complimented the man on his ingenuity and surprising inventions. Perhaps, she thought, that was another reason he'd been so set on helping her with this fight. He wanted to test the man that shared his own desires for pushing the boundaries.

A sudden flicker caught her attention to her left. Blue and gold phased in then vanished then appeared again. The motions not lost on her doppelganger, who began to shift and step with each new location he appeared. His voice coming in and out with each bounce of teleportation he used.

"I don't see your beast with you... He's been quite useful so far... Still... It's so predictable that you'd... Just stroll right out and.... Confront me..."

"Stop hopping around and face me, Blanc." Her mouth and the golem's both moved but her voice only came from the one Aeren was focused on.

"Head on?... I'm not that much of a fledgling... Captain Cannas."

"A little stupid to waste all of your energy porting about the field don't you think?"

"Not at all..."

The humor in his voice struck a chord as Inari noticed that the golem had backed up considerably as she'd tried to follow his motions. Motions which were only kept to two thirds of the field. He was herding her... well, her false image at least. It was a set up. Frowning at the knowledge, she wondered just how much of the field was booby trapped.

["I'm going to say most of it."] Her frown pulled tighter as Szithlar's voice echoed in her head. He had told her he would stay quiet while she fought but apparently that was too much to ask for.

{"And I suppose you're going to tell me what you would do right now?"}

["Not at all. You made me promise only to help if you took of that bandage. I'll keep my word."]

{"Just be sure you do that."} Pulling the golem back under control, she forced her to stand her ground. It was time to find the pattern to his teleporting. Begrudgingly she found that Szithlar's intrusive gift was quite handy. Being able to watch from the sidelines like a General's tactician gave her a whole new perspective.

["I'm glad you find it useful."]

{"Be silent... I'm trying to concentrate."}

["You know, two eyes are better then one."]

Growling at his well made point she just shook her head and refocused on the action going on before her.

A few more times, he bounced from one point to the next but always the same spots. Back and forth but never in the same pattern. It would be easy to throw someone off like that. He had this down pat but she didn't think he'd expected her to just stop trying to follow him. Slowly he eased his teleporting until he stood midway across the field between her and her doppelganger.

"So... You figured it out did you? Took you long enough."

"Don't patronize me, Blanc. It's never really a good idea."

"I've heard. So how about we do this a more direct way?" The golem tipped her head and readied her sword but the sudden tremor beneath her feet had her stumbling and dropping her weapon into the tall grass. Aeren just laughed and watched as the earth beneath her feet literally flew into a geyser around her. "You caught on a little too late, Captain!"

Inari watched wide eyed as the golem was enveloped by a swirling ball of water. It's characteristic's impressive as it appeared to struggle against the lack of air. Panic in it's eyes as the liquid surface started to crystallize and freeze. When it was finally a perfect sphere of ice, he stepped closer.

"That was too easy. These guardians are nothing but pushovers this year."

["I do think that was a little below the belt don't you?"]

{"He's about to find out otherwise."} From inside her glove the second golem eased from it's hiding place and plopped down into the depths of the foliage at her feet.

Unaware and still smiling, Aeren knocked against the solid sphere until a strange sight caught his interest. The sword that had been dropped was flung up against a small pile of dirt when the trap erupted, but where it should have been a strip of battle worn metal, it was smoking. No, it was turning into smoky shadows. His back went ramrod straight and he turned around just a moment too late.

The second golem was there and on him before he even got a chance to see her coming. Moving among the shadows of the grass, she'd only been formed the moment she was in attack range. Szithlar's control of the creation gave it substance and for all intensive purposes the fist that connected with Aeren's jaw was a blood and bone and metal fist.

Shocked silent, he clung to his bruising jaw where he stumbled to the ground after sliding off the icy sphere at his back. His eyes shifting from the looming woman to the hazy image of the one entrapped and back again with whiplash speed. "H-how! You're still inside! How did you?! You can't use that type of magic!"

"Are you so sure, Blanc? What do you really know about me?" Her voice was cold but coy almost as she slid her sword from it's scabbard and took a step closer. Not at all surprised when he flickered into another teleportation spell. "This again? Don't you know anything else?"

["Nice goading."]

{"You did say he always had a problem with pointing out other's flaws."}

["It makes me proud to know you were listening to me."]

From one point to the next to the next, he flickered here and there, still at random but not. This time though, Inari drew the golem out towards the center of the field. Leading it towards the three points he seemed to use the most. "I don't think you can keep doing this all day, Blanc, and I'm not even getting a work out!"

"That's easier to say... When there... Is more then one... Of you..."

"True but if your plan is to wear me down or get me to give up, then you've got another thing coming."

Just as she thought she'd narrowed down his next jump point, he went and threw a wrench into it and popped up in the section of field he hadn't even used yet. Gritting out curse the golem spun about only to meet a sudden inferno of fire barreling down on her. So focused on putting up a partial domed shield the golem didn't noticed the streaming water flowing towards her from either side until it swelled and slammed into her. Knocking her off her feet and dropping her guard.

Water steamed and fire forced through the shattered shield to engulf the silently screaming golem. He seemed to keep it going just a bit longer then needed until he was left panting, watching in complete disbelief as the flesh that should have been burned flaked away into ash, then softened to those smokey shadowy tendrils like the sword. Their presence fading into the grass.

"What the hell is going on!" His voice was agitated but he face was oddly calm, he was even smiling as he looked about the field leaving Inari with a few moments to figure out her next move.

["I think it's time to let me help you."]

{"Not just yet."}

[Inari, don't be reckless."]

{"Coming from you that's kind of hard to follow."}

She could hear him muttering to himself in her head but she pushed it aside as the sensation of the burned golem returning to it's place sent a shiver up her spine. She would never get used to that feeling. It was time to see just what Szithlar had done to help her.

Motioning for Xerxes to stay behind, she emerged from the woods. Unlike her golems, she didn't wear metal armor. A finely tooled suit of Elvin made leather armor curved and shaped to her figure. The supple material barely creaked as she started across the grassy expanse not even trying to hide herself or surprise him. The sword at her hip hung lightly in her grasp.

All he had to do was look to his right to see her. The dark browns and golds of her attire standing out amongst all of the green Not yet touched by the fight. Her white hair braided tight and secured was like a beacon against the shadowy back drop of forest.

"I give you credit, Cannas! I never expected this from you."

"Sounds like you've studied me a lot, Blanc."

"It's good to know your opponent."

"I couldn't agree more." Coming within a good thirty feet of him, Inari stopped, sizing him up and letting him get a good look at her.

"Ah ha... Now I see it. What ever those were they were missing your scars. And that bandage. That's not going to be a problem for you?"

He almost seemed prideful of noticing the differences between the golems and her self. He reminded her a lot of her father. Always pointing out the flaws. Always knowing just what should and would happen. And he just had to have green eyes.

["You're focusing on the wrong thing, Inari."]

{"Funny, I thought picturing my father would be just what the elf ordered."}

["Unlike Ferrin, this one is unpredictable."]

{"Like me?"}

["Merle needs to keep her mouth shut."]

"HEY!"

{Whoops, guess you should shut up now, Szith."} Snapping out of her little internal dialogue, Inari found a rather irritated Aeren glaring back at her. "Sorry, were you saying something?"

"You're pretty cocky coming to a fight injured then spacing out."

"I blame the man who raised me."

Aeren went silent at that as all the pieces started to fit together in his mind. It was no secret to anyone that Szithlar Ramoth was often seen with her. Nor was it secret that he had ties to her family. Szithlar was also one of the top practitioners of Shadow magic and arcane alchemy. There were even a few of the man's papers in Aeren's library about the utilization of merged magic.

How could he have over looked that?

"You caught on a little to late..." Mimicking his own statement, she couldn't help the crooked grin that spread across her lips revealing freshly lengthened canines. "So the question is, what are you going to do now?"

Aeren wasn't one to lose his cool but she'd played his own game and now the chess board was in shambles. It was time to reset. With another surge of fire he aimed to push her back or at least give himself time to put a bit more distance between them until he could lead her to another trap. After all, this one had to be his actual challenger. Unfortunately, Inari already knew that pot shot.

The moment the flames flickered to life towards her, she yanked up the bandage keeping her new eye hidden from view. From one to the other, a bright green eye to pitch black. Szithlar had exchanged their right eyes to implant himself in her so he could control the golems and her magic without actually being there. A handy little trick when a wall of flesh searing fire was rolling down on her. All Aeren would see before fire obscured his vision would be a flicker of her hand.

And she was behind him.

"Come on, aren't you supposed to be some amazing innovator?" Her voice teased the curve of his ear carrying both the feminine and masculine of the pair that were working as one.

Aeren balked. Teleporting across the field nearer the forest. She just kept surprising him. It was something he wasn't used to and as much as he'd probably look back and learn from this, he certainly wasn't enjoying it at the moment. Especially not when the rift of shadows rose up from the ground and then wavered her from his sight. Spinning around to head off another rear attack, he was startled into another teleportation when she popped up where he would have just been facing forwards.

"Try again!"

She was laughing at him. Inari couldn't tell if it was Szithlar's twisted sense of humor or some hidden part of her own that was enjoying this whole game more. From one corner of the field to the next, she played with him. Behind him. In front of him. To his left. to his right. Never in the predicted place. So thrown of kilter he nearly set off one of his own traps, almost catching them both in it as shards of ice sliced through the air.

"You're getting sloppy there, Aeren," Szithlar's voice was coming through much more then her own now. That haughty air and belittling gaze he was so known for didn't even look out of place on Inari's face.

A sneer contorting his trim goatee, Aeren, ported once more. His limbs shaking from all of the exertion. He knew he had one good shot in his reservoir. He just had to time it right. Reappearing at the forest line, he mustered the mana he had cached and just waited for her to step from the shadow rift. It opened and with a frustrated yell he let loose with all he had stored. His signature move hitting the surprised woman with the force of a tidal wave. Slamming her across the field a good hundred yards before bursting into an eruption of fire.

Everywhere grass curled and charred. Water steamed into a hot cloud rising towards the sky that had darkened and began to rumble. It was truly a sight to see from the wall where guards and civilians alike had gathered.

Standing there, panting from the sheer amount of cached mana he'd run through, he dropped to his knees unable to keep standing. Triumphant laughter vibrated under his voice, "Not so powerful now are you, Szithlar? You chose the wrong student! Those guardians are worthless! Nothing but a bunch of predictable, brainless..."

"I'd be careful what you say about her guild. Inari is a bit touchy about that subject."

"Huh!?!" Whipping about on his knees, Aeren toppled backwards aided by the slamming of Inari's booted foot to the side of his head. Everything went wobbly, then blurry.

"Ooo... Guess, I should have warned him sooner."

The double toned voice sounded like he was underwater but even that soon faded to silence as he blacked out in the now marshy grass.

Standing over him, Inari pulled the bandage back down over the black eye that gave Szithlar access to use her body for his skills. The disappointed sound she heard in her own head was soon joined by the real thing as he emerged from his shadow rift. Calling Xerxes to her, she struggled only a little with hefting the large man up onto the murpau's back, "As much as you helped today, I can't wait to get home and get back to normal."

"When did I ever say that would happen?"

Coming up short, Inari turned a narrowed eyed glare to the man smiling at her back, "Szithlar..."

"I'm sorry, Inari but this particular spell is not reversible. At least, not without us both losing an eye... or more."

"I'm stuck with you in my head!?"

"Technically, I'm stuck with you as well." Flipping up the thick patch he was wearing over his own eye, he just continued to smile at her. "Besides, it's nothing really new to me."

"...I don't want to know. No, I do... just not now!" Bounding up onto Xerxes back, her anger all but palpable, she kicked him into a run across towards the city gates. Her final words to Szithlar echoing around her even as she left his all to smug self behind, completely missing the almost identical curl of Xerxes' own lips.
Zenith OCT: R3 The Animal I've Become
:iconzenith-oct:

And here it is. Round three. I will admit I had some problems with this and yes, the outcome with Szithlar and Inari was planned from the begining. :mwahaha: So no matter who I got paired against they would have had to face this team eventually. It's just fit so nicely together until now.
Don't worry there is a good old fashion throw down tantrum coming Szithlar's way soon enough. Inari's is just in a bind because you can't trust someone that long, live with them and (Inari: "if you tell Szithlar this I'll slit your throat!") yes, have a mild crush on them and completely walk away from it. She's angry, hurt, confused and a myriad of other emotions she's not used to dealing with right now.
But that being said... Here's to hoping!

OH!
I also tried to make the flashbacks and Inari/Szithlar's "internal" conversations a bt easier to dechipr from the rest so...
The flashbacks and dreams are like this.
{"This is Inari talking in her head to Szithlar... in her head."}
["This is Szithlar doing the same in Inari's head - though it can go both ways later."]

Szithlar, Ferrin, Illara, Inari, Ivis (c) Me!
Aeren Blanc (c) Oyarsa
Merle (c) tangelotime


Zenith OCT: ProlougeThe bitter taste of salt and crushed mint tingled along Inari's tongue as she scrubbed at her teeth. It wasn't the most pleasant of flavours but it had an arm and a leg over the paste her father used to make her clean them with. Her deep scowl was a touch wavy in the poorly maintained water mirror as she thought about her family. For the past year the whole city had begun to lose its mind again. Posters, flags and placards with each of the guilds' emblems began to dot the streets. Supporters placed their bets and got into arguments over who would be selected to participate, which guild would win, if anyone would die... It was a topic that she'd begun to dread the moment she had joined the Brotherhood.
Ten years - She couldn't believe that it had already been that long.
Her father would already be hanging his guild's flag from the second floor window of his town home. As would the rest of her relatives. Her brother might hang a small placard for the Brotherhood but it would be somewhere
Zenith OCT: Round One
Guardian vs Guardian
Apparently going out with Szithlar the night before a major guild meeting really wasn't worth the hangover. For starters, she had to work. Placed on forward guard duty since their Commander, Aiden Dawnstrike, permitted a few noble higher ups to attend, she was standing front and center before the podium. Right next to the guild's golden child.
The looks from the few she'd made eye contact with told her she was scowling worse then usual. Screw it. She felt like kicking Xerxes out of her bed and crawling under the covers until the end of the tournament. That the all mighty Bastien Drake had to polish his armor with Holy Light was only making it worse. She was fairly certain he stood right in that line of sunlight just so he blinded her.
Bastard.
Coasting her gaze over the crowd again just for an excuse to move her head, she just barely caught herself before sighing. The guild clown was dozing off. No... Mor
Zenith OCT: R2 Intermission
A good long soak in mineral laced waters had gone a long way to fully relaxing, Inari after the brief tussle in the cemetery. With his hair cleaned of Xerxes drool and a fresh pair of clothes, Morgan was looking quite a bit better himself, save for the fresh bruises and split lip he had acquired. Despite the minors scrapes though, the young elf had seemed more then happy to take her up on the offer of drinks. That had been about four hours ago and three people less.
Crammed together at the bar where it had just been her and Morgan, Inari now found herself tucked between her younger brother, Ivis and Szithlar. Even Cecil had joined them when she caught sight of her brother across the tavern room. Now about a dozen rounds in and feeling as serene as she had in a long time, Inari could only smirk as she listened to her sibling's retelling of how he got the scar on his face.
"So she's always been this violent?"
" Morgan..." chastising him with a quic
Zenith OCT: R2 Secrets in ShadowsA week followed the final battle of round one giving participants time to recuperate and prepare for their next opponents. Inari simply went about business as usual with a few minor changes, her daily training regime being one of them. The posted list of remaining contenders left the high probability of being paired against a Mage. It irritated her. Despite her brother's repeated attempts to get her to believe Ferrin Cannas was supporting her, she just knew the knife would twist with the fact she was outnumbered by his own guild. He had even made it a point to bring her the scroll bearing her next opponent just so he could point it out. Although he was disappointed that it was not a Mage, she would be facing.
It had been enough to put her into a foul mood for days. Training strictly in her heavy armor, she forced herself beyond the usual exhaustion. Szithlar assisted her by providing Shadow opponents so she could get all of her anger out without harming an actual comrade. He'd p
Zenith OCT: R3 Intermission“I've already told her everything that she needs to know about you...”
Those words weighed thick in the air between Szithlar and the man that was once his student. Ferrin Cannas had always been far more strict then the rest of those in his family, leaving the dark eyed elf curious as to just when the stick had been shoved up his ass. He remembered him more as a carefree youth but then becoming second chair to the Academy's council probably had something to do with it. Reserving his frustrated sigh for a more appropriate time, Szithlar continued to trail behind Ferrin as he led him out towards the courtyard where the man's stern face suddenly blanched.
“Illara, what are you doing!?!”
There in the center of the garden sat three blonde haired children, all the spitting image of their father. It was the oldest that turned at hearing her name and who happily ran to his quickly approaching figure. “Look! Inari can do it! We've been practicing all...”
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“I've already told her everything that she needs to know about you...”

Those words weighed thick in the air between Szithlar and the man that was once his student. Ferrin Cannas had always been far more strict then the rest of those in his family, leaving the dark eyed elf curious as to just when the stick had been shoved up his ass. He remembered him more as a carefree youth but then becoming second chair to the Academy's council probably had something to do with it. Reserving his frustrated sigh for a more appropriate time, Szithlar continued to trail behind Ferrin as he led him out towards the courtyard where the man's stern face suddenly blanched.

“Illara, what are you doing!?!”

There in the center of the garden sat three blonde haired children, all the spitting image of their father. It was the oldest that turned at hearing her name and who happily ran to his quickly approaching figure. “Look! Inari can do it! We've been practicing all...”

“You know she's not allowed to practice!”

“But she's been doing it all day.”

Illara's voice trailed off as her father rushed right past her towards his youngest daughter. The slim girl had been happily making little light faeries dance around a puppy made of flames until her father barreled in. Fear replaced joy and once controlled magic wavered dangerously even as she tried to concentrate to show him her trick.

Ferrin wasn't hearing any of it. His harsh tone yelling at her, asking her if she was trying to hurt her siblings. As a matter of fact, he was shouting loud enough that it lured the maids from inside the small manor house; two of them hurrying to pull away the other children as Ferrin grabbed at his youngest daughter.

As it turned out that was the worst thing he could have done.

Scared, shocked and even a little angry, Inari cried out at being so forcefully seized. Her small voice yelling right back at him that she could do it. She could even do it better then Illara. Begging for a reason why he didn't trust her, Ferrin's very reason flared violently to life behind her. The little fairies were swallowed alive by flames tinged with a blackish blue. The more Ferrin yelled at her to stop the worse it got. Completely unaware of what she was doing, Inari was feeding the magic with her emotions. The sight was startling, even to Szithlar. So much so that he almost didn't react in time.

Shoving Ferrin away from his daughter, he threw up a domed shield of water and darkness as the hungry flames descended upon where father and daughter had just been arguing.

Steam created a massive cloud, tinting the skin of any close enough a bright pink. It was only a few precious seconds but it seemed like an eternity before the fire flickered out leaving only a low mound of swirling shadows behind.

Where the hissing of boiling water once filled the courtyard, the sudden tearful wails of both Illara and Ivis took over. Both of them thinking that their sister was gone. Ferrin on the other hand knew better. Pushing himself up from the ground he stepped towards the dark shield calling out to his mentor inside.

The dome shivered then, in a pulse of black oil-like tendrils, slithered away from the occupants inside. Inari lay unconscious in his grasp. Hiccups and tears still subsiding, her fingers tightly gripping the soft leathers of his tunic. Calm, cold eyes lifted to the man that stood over him.

“She tried to kill me...”

“I'm not surprised.”

“...What?”

Rising to his feet, Szithlar refused the help of a maid even as he allowed the other two children close enough to see that she was alright. “I've seen that skill before. Your great grandfather's abilities were ruled by his emotions.”

“Is this because of... of him?”

“Most likely.” Motioning for the maids to take the other two children back inside, Szithlar shifted Inari in his hold, cradling her against his shoulder. “She has Craz' strength and... his gift.”

“I will report it to the council tomorrow morning and have her...”

“No.”

The firm rebuttal drew Ferrin's pacing to a halt. “Why not? I am mandated to report any children with unusual or dangerous abilities.”

“Because, per our agreement, she's not your responsibility anymore.”

“Still I...”

“The second born daughter of the Cannas family. I've been waiting a long time to cash in on that promise, Ferrin and my, my... I'm rather glad I had the patience to do so.”
A soft nuzzle to her temple gently woke the young girl from her forced state. Brilliant green eyes still drowning in tears blinked open from behind white lashes, focusing immediately upon the dark elf before her.

“What hap...Happened?”

“You got a little carried away, Inari, that's all,” his voice was far more gentle then it had ever been as he watched fear reenter her eyes. But it wasn't a fear of him it was for her siblings who she immediately began to swivel about to find. “whoa, whoa, whoa... little one, careful, I cant hold you well with just one arm.”

“Where's Illara! Ivis!”

“They are fine. The maids took them inside.”

It took a few moments for his words to sink in but soon, Inari was drawing her eyes back to him. She was trembling in his embrace and something about it struck a chord in him. “I didn't mean to do it...”

“I know.”

“Szithlar?”

Hearing her father's voice, Inari stiffened and curled tightly against the man that held her. Small damp cheeks nuzzled tight against his neck as she began to cry again repeating over and over that she was sorry. “Ferrin?”

“Until she's under control, I don't want her anywhere near this house.”

“How fatherly of you.” The cold words seemed to briefly humble the man before him but it didn't last long before he squared his shoulders once more and briskly restated his words uncaring that it was loud enough for his own child to hear. “I get it, boy. I will keep her somewhere safe until she can better control her abilities.”

Leaving it at that, Szithlar, strode back towards the manor leaving his pupil to glare after him. A tiny voice rising to his ears drew a soft smile to his lips. “No, little one, you don't have to ever see him again.”


The halls of the manor faded to black as the gentle sensation of fingers combing through her began to bring Inari from the abyss of sleep. Following the dream it was a sensation that she had experienced often in those years after she left her family home. She'd been nine years old then and she wouldn't see any of them again for nearly four years. Time she spent in her small wood entrenched cabin with only Szithlar and a random few visitors. She'd been so close to home but so far away at the same time.

Sighing over the thought, she finally felt the weight of sleep disappear and opened her eyes. There was no surprise in those green depths as they focused upon the very man she had just been dreaming of. Szithlar sat on the edge of her bed, his own gaze distant as he seemed to touch her hair out of habit. But he was paying far more attention then he let on.

"You've been asleep for two days. That Barakiel boy stopped by with your next challenger and your payment. Oh, and I told him to pass along a message to Kiseki that you'd still want to keep your bargain going."

A soft hum rose in her throat, as she moved to brush his hand aside, instead the strong grip entangled with hers and pressed it to the pillow above her head. Pitch black eyes sharpened, honing in on her with the tilt of his body. Long braids teasing the surface of her skin. It was a look she'd not yet seen focused on her. Not in all the time he'd known her and she would be lying if it didn't concern her.

Opening her mouth to speak, he beat her to it, "you went against me, Inari. It's not often I can talk to anyone and ask why after they've betrayed me."

"Szith... I..." His eyebrow arched, he was crowding her space and it was startling just how strong his grip was, "Something wasn't right, I had to keep my promise to Merle... You were... There's just so much I don't know about your past."

With a tip of his head a small but cruel smile curved upon his lips, "even so... I raised you, when your family didn't even want you around. Your father was ready to hand you over to the academy to be studied and I kept you safe. Here, I thought that would account for something after all these years."

Her eyes widened as he brought up the very images she'd just played through in her dreams. "And it does! It does... just..."

"You can't trust what you don't know?"

"I trust you."

"No, you don't and truth be told I'm kind of tired of hiding it from you." Taking her moment of confused vulnerability for his advantage, Szithlar shifted in his lean so that his weight now rested on his elbow. His fingers sliding away from hers back to her sleep ruffled hair while those fathomless eyes seemed to look everywhere but her own. He could feel her tense and some small part of him shivered at that but she didn't move, and she didn't speak. He knew she was waiting for him to continue. "A long time ago, I knew your ancestor, Mylthar. He and I had an accord."

"Mylthar... he's the one Merle mentioned."

"Correct. He's the stain on your family's history. You see, he was a member of the circle. Not just any member but one of the more ruthless of his time. He would go to any length to bring in a contract, of course he had a few natural advantages."

"So he was an assassin, last time I checked that not a big enough deal to..."

"He wasn't just an assassin, Inari, he was a Kanis. Your family had a bit of an issue with purity at the time and the fact he was both not human and not a mage didn't settle right. Of course, add in a touch of arcane magic and he really was an unwelcome addition." And that's when he knew he'd both lost her and made her forget just how close they were. He felt her relax, her fingers rising to play with the cuff on her right ear a sign of her mind trying to process it all. "He came to me to help him. The reason I was given for his situation was that it would make him better at his job. But very little gets past me and I soon found out that he was planning on eloping with one of the esteemed Cannas clan."

"I don't get any of this. Why would they go through so much trouble to hide it all if it was something so petty?"

"Oh, the pride of man," chuckling to himself, he settled a soft kiss upon her temple. Her tension flaring anew, she went to pull away only to find the grip in her hair tightening."

"Szithlar, what the hell do you..."

"I think you'll want to listen to the rest of this, it really does concern you in the end." Tipping his head back to look down at her, he couldn't begrudge her glare but all he could do was smile in return. "Mylthar, came to me, asking to use arcane magic to gift him the ability to shape shift. I'm not taking about simple illusion or morphing his appearance. He wanted to fully be able to change at will. Now, I wasn't new to my particular course of study at the time nor was I afraid to dabble in more forbidden alchemy so I made him an offer. Five thousand gold pieces and... his second born female offspring."

"Excuse me?!" Disgust and shock tore across her features as she wriggled against the pull of her hair to get further across the bed from him; to little avail. He followed, locking his hold at her nape and forcing her to look at him. "What is going on!? What could you possibly be thinking?"

"I was thinking about the possibilities. The abilities of a child born from one of the most powerful mage lines and an arcane cursed Kanis. Even if they didn't show up right away I knew I couldn't pass it up, and... well, as you know, the arcane and forbidden arts come with a price that can't be paid in gold." In saying that he glanced down to where her three fingered hand lay shoved against his chest. A lifted brow punctuating his point, "So, I performed my little feat, I gave him what he wanted. In the end he even got the girl but before the rest of our contract could be fulfilled he and his beloved were killed. Assassinated."

Inari had known that some terrible things were done to keep that part of her family's history secret but she'd never have thought they would actually kill their own blood. How Szithlar was implying it though, that's exactly what happened. "So why not kill my great grandfather's father too?"

"Because he looked like the rest of you and showed a lot of promise for their lineage."

"So what does this have to do with me?"

"Well, you showed the same promise and potential for extraordinary danger as a child and you're the only second born female in your family's bloodline."

He never thought she could get any paler then she already was but sure enough the soft pink tinge drained from her cheeks above lips parted but silent. Her eyes wide, she moved without thinking. Her fist aiming for his face was stopped by the last thing she'd ever expected... A hand. Formed quick and just as solid as the one at her nape, it was a hand attached to an arm, pitch black and swirling with lacy shadows.

"That is your second offense, Inari. I will not stand for a third." Even as she began to pul back against the phantom limb's grip more of his shadows emerged to restrict her.

"But your contract was with Mylthar not my father."

"No, see I cover my bases and I always get paid. While your family was out covering up their perceived disgrace they approached me on several occasions. I told them, that all they had to do to keep me quiet was uphold the contract. It took five generations but finally I got what was my due."

"Th-that still doesn't tell me what I want to know."

"And what is that?"

"What are you going to do with me?"

 "Oh, there's a lot that I can answer that with," it was a bit of a shoving match but with a little help from the shadows entwining her, he was able to drop her back onto the bed. His looming figure arched down pressing their foreheads together. She was angry and a little scared. Truthfully, it excited the hell out him, but he had his priorities. "First, I'm going to help you with this little tournament, then we'll talk about what ever the future might bring."

"And if I don't want your help?"

"You don't really have a choice."

Narrowing her eyes, Inari finally cowed to his steady stare, turning her head from him and letting her body go lax. "Fine but this changes everything, Szithlar... everything."

"Would you even believe me if I said I regretted it a little bit?" When she didn't look at him or respond, he knew his answer. While he reveled in her reactions and the knowledge that she now knew the truth some small spark in him wouldn't be silent. He didn't regret it a little. Just not enough.

Drawing away from her he shivered as his shadows returned to the inside of his tunic's folds, "get some more sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. You finally get to prove your daddy wrong."

A tiny tickle of anticipation swirled in her gut but it couldn't beat out the torrent of other emotions warring in her just then. All she could do was tug the blankets back up over her body and turn her back to him....
Zenith OCT: R3 Intermission
:iconzenith-oct:

Alright, so I've gotten into doing these "intermissions", so this is the one between R2 & R3... I recommend reading it since it kind of ques you into things that are going on and happened since R2.

Szithlar, Ferrin, Illara, Inari, Ivis (c) Me!
Merle (c) tangelotime
Kaelo (c) KidOblivion
Kiseki (c) Last-Legend

Zenith OCT: ProlougeThe bitter taste of salt and crushed mint tingled along Inari's tongue as she scrubbed at her teeth. It wasn't the most pleasant of flavours but it had an arm and a leg over the paste her father used to make her clean them with. Her deep scowl was a touch wavy in the poorly maintained water mirror as she thought about her family. For the past year the whole city had begun to lose its mind again. Posters, flags and placards with each of the guilds' emblems began to dot the streets. Supporters placed their bets and got into arguments over who would be selected to participate, which guild would win, if anyone would die... It was a topic that she'd begun to dread the moment she had joined the Brotherhood.
Ten years - She couldn't believe that it had already been that long.
Her father would already be hanging his guild's flag from the second floor window of his town home. As would the rest of her relatives. Her brother might hang a small placard for the Brotherhood but it would be somewhere
Zenith OCT: Round One
Guardian vs Guardian
Apparently going out with Szithlar the night before a major guild meeting really wasn't worth the hangover. For starters, she had to work. Placed on forward guard duty since their Commander, Aiden Dawnstrike, permitted a few noble higher ups to attend, she was standing front and center before the podium. Right next to the guild's golden child.
The looks from the few she'd made eye contact with told her she was scowling worse then usual. Screw it. She felt like kicking Xerxes out of her bed and crawling under the covers until the end of the tournament. That the all mighty Bastien Drake had to polish his armor with Holy Light was only making it worse. She was fairly certain he stood right in that line of sunlight just so he blinded her.
Bastard.
Coasting her gaze over the crowd again just for an excuse to move her head, she just barely caught herself before sighing. The guild clown was dozing off. No... Mor
Zenith OCT: R2 Intermission
A good long soak in mineral laced waters had gone a long way to fully relaxing, Inari after the brief tussle in the cemetery. With his hair cleaned of Xerxes drool and a fresh pair of clothes, Morgan was looking quite a bit better himself, save for the fresh bruises and split lip he had acquired. Despite the minors scrapes though, the young elf had seemed more then happy to take her up on the offer of drinks. That had been about four hours ago and three people less.
Crammed together at the bar where it had just been her and Morgan, Inari now found herself tucked between her younger brother, Ivis and Szithlar. Even Cecil had joined them when she caught sight of her brother across the tavern room. Now about a dozen rounds in and feeling as serene as she had in a long time, Inari could only smirk as she listened to her sibling's retelling of how he got the scar on his face.
"So she's always been this violent?"
" Morgan..." chastising him with a quic
Zenith OCT: R2 Secrets in ShadowsA week followed the final battle of round one giving participants time to recuperate and prepare for their next opponents. Inari simply went about business as usual with a few minor changes, her daily training regime being one of them. The posted list of remaining contenders left the high probability of being paired against a Mage. It irritated her. Despite her brother's repeated attempts to get her to believe Ferrin Cannas was supporting her, she just knew the knife would twist with the fact she was outnumbered by his own guild. He had even made it a point to bring her the scroll bearing her next opponent just so he could point it out. Although he was disappointed that it was not a Mage, she would be facing.
It had been enough to put her into a foul mood for days. Training strictly in her heavy armor, she forced herself beyond the usual exhaustion. Szithlar assisted her by providing Shadow opponents so she could get all of her anger out without harming an actual comrade. He'd p
Zenith OCT: R3 The Animal I've BecomeBeyond the forests lay the fields.
Beyond those the city gates.
It was in that between, where tall grasses and slight mounds stretched out to give the tower watch a clear line of sight that Inari was to meet her next opponent. In the time since she woke, there hadn't been another moment of rest. A lot had happened. Even more had been learned. Most of all a lot had changed. A week and a half seemed like forever and it still hadn't been long enough to forget the pain...
...Two days after she'd woken up...

Mistrust was a poison between two people but it couldn't be helped. Not after that day. Inari had gone back to sleep only to be woken by the rumbling purrs of her dear companion. Xerxes had been healed and now bore glowing ruin brands about his neck and legs to prevent such terrible drains on his being. Not that they completely protected him but he wouldn't fall so close to death again. She was grateful to Szithlar for that much but it didn't rebuild what had
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:iconmuddly661:
muddly661 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2014  Student Interface Designer
Hey I just really wanted to tell you, your group catwalk challenge...its one of the most truely inspirational groups i have found till now...the constant ideas..that keep testing the imagination..I wanted to congratulate you on doing a rlly awesome job..keep at it...and never loose hope!:)
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HJLyn Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
^.^
Thank you very much! It is really nice to hear things like this from time to time.
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allydog509 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014
Thanks for the :iconfaveplz:
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:iconhjlyn:
HJLyn Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome!
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spier17 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the watch!
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