Torshael and Tayne's Story: The First Mission
Written in Collaboration with Myrror
The location the friendly little gryphon creature bonded to another of Haiiro's siblings, Felix, had given Torshael for teleporting to the EverRealm turned out to be the center of a meadow in the middle of a forest. It was a small meadow, decorated with spring flowers and a clear sky above them, and the trees were barely the length of an infernal away in every direction. Though pleasant, it was also completely deserted except for butterflies and whatever small rodents had made nests in or under the thick grass.
"Where are we?" Haiiro asked, stepping away from where he'd been pressed to his bond's leg for the teleport.
"The EverRealms, apparently," Torshael answered, looking around. "Though not in sight of a building or a helpful person...."
"Well, we could have a look around," Tayne suggested, giving himself a vigorous shake before putting his nose to the grass and sniffing curiously, just in case this was a recently-trafficked meadow. Torshael did the same, though his senses, in the form he'd been born in, were not quite as acute. There weren't any new scents-- no one had walked through today-- but the meadow wasn't in the middle of nowhere, either: he picked up a dragonish scent, and a humanish scent... nothing that hinted of infernal, however, not even old infernal.
"Do you hear something?" Haiiro asked suddenly, looking up.
"No-- do you?" Torshael blinked, and followed his gaze to scan the horizon, above the trees.
"It sounds like-- wing beats! Lift me up!" Torshael obliged, bemused, and Haiiro scrambled up onto the top of his head, balancing precariously with his little wings fully spread. "I see," he said, squinting, "something silver! It's coming this way, I think!"
A moment later, Torshael and Tayne could see it, as well: growing closer every moment. They didn't have long to wait before a silver dragon, about the same size as Torshael, with a long, blue mane down her back, came to land beside them. She had rather peculiar eyes, blue within black rather than black within blue. "Welcome to Lanse'shri," she said cheerfully. "What brings you to my home?"
"Good day, lady," Torshael answered, spreading his wings and nearly dipping into a respectful bow-- nearly, because Haiiro gave a little whinny of surprise and slid down into his mane at the movement. Tayne smothered a chuckle as Torshael squared his shoulders to give his bond a sturdier perch. "We were directed here on a search for natives of our realm."
"Natives... natives..." the dragoness said thoughtfully, pausing to look Torshael over, "Ah, yes, you're a supernal. We do have one living here. I can take you to meet her if you like."
"We would appreciate that, thank you," Torshael said graciously. "We should like to-- speak with-- any infernals you might have in residence, as well."
"Infernals, oh, yes, there's two," the dragoness said, "If you promise not to harm them, I can take you to see them as well. This is neutral ground."
"Our mission is to investigate, lady, not destroy," Torshael assured her politely. "If they do not attack us, we will not cause them harm."
"Then I shall take you." The dragoness waved a clawed forepaw, and the scene changed as surely as if they'd teleported-- actually, they most likely had. Torshael was particularly impressed, as she had transported all four of them without even seeming to try. Their surroundings were now rather less pleasant, but not entirely unattractive: they seemed to be in a rocky area, up against the side of a canyon or steep-sloped mountain, riddled with caves. One of them was where their guide led them, saying, "Things aren't as they seem. The two infernals live here. Ahraisa, Haois," she called inside, "you have company. There's a supernal here to talk to you."
"Make them go away!" a female's voice echoed from deep within the cave.
"We're just here to ask you a few questions, if you have a few moments to spare," Torshael called inside, sitting back enough to scoop Haiiro from his mane and set him gently down.
"I'm not answering to any bullying sup--" The voice broke off, interrupted by another voice inside, too low to understand. Torshael had the impression that there was a debate going on within, and waited with as much patience as he could muster. He wasn't in the habit of waiting on infernals, and it was a somewhat odd experience.
A male voice finally addressed them: "Human form. And we will do likewise."
Their guide shrugged, and shrank down into a brown-haired human with the same odd eyes, and asked, "Well? You willing?"
"Certainly," Torshael answered, and did the same. He just hoped their human forms weren't particularly strongly-built ones, compared to his willowy one. Haiiro sidled up against his legs a moment, then pranced back and settled beside Tayne, who sat down, looking as if he hoped they would overlook him entirely. Everyone seemed to, for their guide made no comment, and the pair of infernals didn't demand he shift-- to Torshael's secret relief. His brother was much more formidable as a lion, and no matter what the infernals' human forms looked like, Tayne would still be more powerful.
There was a breath of silence, while they all waited, and then two pairs of footsteps echoed against the stone of the cave floor as the infernals, shrunk down as well, made their way out. As they stepped into the light, Torshael was mildly surprised: not only were they both similar in build to himself-- the man only slightly heavier, and the woman positively delicate-- but both were far shorter, as well. The man was of average height, with a shock of blue-tinged black hair and the brightly red eyes that marked him as infernal. The woman, tiny as well as delicate, was actually very attractive: she seemed more like a young human woman, with her dainty form and lavender-streaked white hair, but for her tell-tale red eyes. She looked terrified, and kept in her companion's shadow. Torshael never thought striking fear into the heart of an infernal could make him feel guilty.
"I'm Hois," the man said gruffly, "and this is my sister, Ahraosa. Ask your questions."
Torshael cleared his throat, feeling far more awkward actually sharing words with an infernal-- and feeling guilty about frightening them!-- than he had sharing words with supernals older and wiser than he, but this was his real mission, more important than the latter, so he started talking, anyway. "My name is Torshael Peregrin," he began, trying to sound both non-threatening and confident at the same time. "I have been sent by the High One to investigate the dispersal of infernals into realms beyond our home realm."
"You're talking about the Rip?" Hois asked, "Ahraosa found it, but neither of us knows where it came from. As far as we know, we were the first to leave."
"To escape," Ahraosa hissed, trying to seem threatening but failing miserably, "Bullying supernals. Bullying reds and blacks. Ever since that damned Pure...."
"Ahraosa... supernals are the opposite of damned," Hois said.
"You know what I mean!" she retorted.
::How am I supposed to answer that?:: Torshael asked Tayne, momentarily stunned by the thought that supernals-- evil and malicious, out to kill, pillage, and destroy-- might think of supernals as bullies. All he'd ever experienced had taught him rather the opposite!
::Ask to hear the story?:: Tayne offered, seemingly unfazed, like usual. Haiiro's mental agreement was wordless. Well, it seemed as good an idea as any; at least he could find out what was "bullying" about supernals.
"Why don't you tell me what happened, ma'am?" Torshael suggested gently, trying to pretend she was human rather than infernal. It wasn't particularly difficult.
"I'm different, always was different, hatched... different," Ahraosa said, "They made fun of me, bullied me, teased me. Hois was the only one that ever cared anything for me. We never were very good at doing... you know, work. Couldn't kill, wasn't very good at pillaging, and whenever I destroyed something, it was something that needed destroying anyway. Each failure brought more ridicule...." She paused, looking at the ground, but Torshael couldn't muster a word to say. He'd never imagined an infernal wouldn't be happy doing their "work". She continued bitterly into the silence, "And the supernals... always chasing us off. Adding more ridicule. 'You let a supernal chase you off!' they'd jeer, 'You worthless failure!' It was horrible. Hois got it, too, because he stood up for me in front of the blacks and reds.
"Then... a Pure found us... a monster!" Ahraosa cried, startling Torshael with the intensity of it. "Larger than even a pure black infernal, he just covered the entire sky. He didn't kill me, kill us... nooooo, he let us live. Blasted us with that purity wave, and left us... left us to the mercy of our kind. He could have killed us... he should have! Nooo, he had to ruin us more than we were! Supernals still attacked because we were infernals, infernals attacked because we weren't even a smattering of evil anymore! He should have killed us!" Tears were running down Ahraosa's face, as her voice trailed off, "He should have killed us...."
::Your Purity could do something like that?:: Tayne's incredulous sending interrupted Torshael's horrified stupor.
::Not that I know of,:: Torshael answered vaguely. He'd never had an effect like that before, not with an infernal. ::No one ever said anything like that about it, just... that it destroyed evil things. I wonder who....::
It was Haiiro who made the first actual move, stepping carefully and daintily up to Ahraosa as she wept and nuzzling her thigh reassuringly. "It's okay, don't cry... you're safe here, now, right?"
Ahraosa sniffled piteously, looking down at him. "I... guess. Dark hid us when the others started coming through. She said some were curious, some thought it was a cool place to create more havoc-- I think she sent them to way out worlds-- and some didn't say, but the Fallen might-- might have sent them. But not after us," she added with apparent relief. Haiiro curled around her legs comfortingly, contorting his body in a catlike way no true equine could have managed. "Even that other supernal.... She's... okay... for a supernal. We don't bother her, she doesn't bother us." She emitted another little sniffle, and if Torshael thought he could have approached her without causing more tears and terror, he would have.
"I am sorry for everything you went through," he said, as kindly as he could.
Hois moved closer to his sister protectively, or maybe just reassuringly. "We thank you for your concern," he said, while Ahraosa sniffled again and smiled a bit at the foal-hatchling, who butted his muzzle into her hand in a friendly manner. "I don't know much else we can tell you. Dark would be the one to ask about the others...."
"Dark isn't here right now," the shifted dragoness said, "She's on business at Star City." She shot a glance at Haiiro, then gave him a more speculative look before asking, "Did you just come from there?"
"Actually... yes," Torshael blinked. "Would she know where the rest were sent, then?"
"She would have a good idea, yes," the shifted dragoness said, "She should be coming back soon."
"If it's all right, could we go now?" Hois asked.
"Yes... yes," Torshael said again, more firmly. "Thank you for speaking with me, you've been very helpful, and-- I apologize for-- upsetting Ahraosa." He'd never apologized to an infernal before-- but then, he'd never made an infernal cry, either....
"Thank you," Hois rumbled, stepping back. "We need to hunt."
Without another word, he swelled and grew into his true infernal shape, mottled with blue and violet, his spines and blades all black etched with white and blue. For an infernal, he was surprisingly small: hardly larger than Torshael, himself, and with a smaller wingspan. Torshael stepped back as, with a leap and a down-beat of wings, he took off, circling above and waiting for his sister.
With one last pat on Haiiro's head, Ahraosa let him canter back to his bond before she, too, shifted. Torshael stared, mouth hanging open in what was probably a most undignified fashion, but for the moment he wasn't thinking about that. She took off, and he continued to stare, craning his neck to look up at them as they circled and then glided away. ::Tayne, are you seeing...?::
::Yes. Yes, I am.::
Ahraosa was white. Very nearly pure white; the only color to her at all, besides her glowing red eyes, was a faint blush of lavender to her wings, spikes, and claws. She was tiny, even smaller than Torshael-- even smaller, in fact, than Tayne, which as far as either of them could remember had never happened. It struck him as even more strange and out of balance than making her cry, than apologizing to her. "A white infernal," he muttered, incredulous.
The shifted dragoness looked at the two with a slight smirk, "If I remember correctly, there was a couple other whites, but those were a lot larger... and they had red on them, too. Not the most common of colors, I presume?"
"Ah, no. Not common at all," Torshael agreed, shaking his gaze back on the ground to focus on the lady. "We've never actually seen one who was white, until now, my brother and I."
"She seemed nice, though," Haiiro piped up, shifting restlessly on his hooves. Torshael half-expected to hear "for an infernal" attached to the end of that, like what Ahraosa had said about the holier resident being okay "for a supernal", but it didn't come.
"When she wasn't crying, anyway," Tayne commented bemusedly, for the second time in the past two days seeming less than serene.
"Yes, she is nice," the shifted dragoness said, "Though she did throw the same fit with our resident supernal when she first arrived."
"I can almost understand why," Torshael murmured.
She chuckled, then, and changed the subject: "I... I never did say my name, did I?"
Relieved to be on more familiar ground-- even if it was an error in etiquette-- Torshael winced amiably. "We somehow managed to skip that part, yes.... I'm Torshael, as I expect you heard, and this is my brother Tayne, and my bond, Haiiro'Hiwatari. And you are, lady?"
"My name is Jenna LeBeau, but I go by the name of Myrror," she said, "Most everyone calls me that, or a variation thereof."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Myrror," Torshael answered with a bow. "Thank you for leading us here; this was incredibly helpful."
"Glad I can help," Myrror said, "Now, is there anything else? Perhaps to see Teres?"
"Your resident supernal? Yes, please," Torshael nodded, and Myrror teleported them away.