Bathalio huffed as he hauled himself up the ledge, he had asked the cursed dwarves to stay behind, he didn't want anymore harm to come to their people, it wasn't like there was much they could do against Aradesios anyway, struggling against their hunger and their weapons would be useless against the formless mass.
He just had to hope the orb had been burned into the kings hand. He hated this, why was that damned Goringae so difficult all the damned time?
Bathalio grunted as he pulled himself up onto the next ledge. "Where are you..? You bastard.." The dark haired Guardian was in a foul mood, at least his head didn't still hurt.
"Looking for me?" The voice was different, more gravelly and slightly lighter then Aradesios', though certainly no more pleasant. Bathalio tried to turn around but found his hands had sunken into the rock.
"Who's there?!" Bathalio demanded, he let out a surprised yell when a face like a cross between a cave lizard with their pointed beaks and a bat snake with its wide head suddenly formed from the rock under his face and pushed upwards.
"W-what?!" The earth Goringae? Bathalio realized as he stared at the grotesque face; It hadn't been around one thousand years.. Did that mean only the land was morphed and the curse had been there longer? "Vastile." The voice answered as it slid upwards, a long neck wrapped around Bathalio, its arms reached up out of the ledge face and sharp, dirty claws dug into his sides and stomach. Bathalio screamed in agony, the Goringae was not taking the same time to play with him that Aradesios had tried to take, this one was getting right down to the business of killing him.
The Chaos Guardian coughed and spat blood into the ground which absorbed it in a sickening boiling sort of way. Bathalio felt his vision starting to blur as he heard a familiarly grating voice.
"Hey! That is mine to kill!" Aradesios' dark voice spat out and it took all Bathalio's control to not look up at the voice. "Oh, excuse me oh captured one." Vastile sneered, sliding her claws out of Bathalio's torso. The human gasped painfully.
He felt the dark grubby hand of an unwashed dwarf grab his chin and tilt it up. He could feel the lump where the crystal had absorbed into his skin pressing against the bone in his jaw.
Bathalio closed his eyes, knowing what Aradesios was trying at; thankfully Goringae did not get along. Ever.
So he and Vastile had began to bicker, and in doing so, Vastile had released the earth holding Bathalio's hands, not paying so much attention to him. "Captured? Are you suggesting I'm enslaved?" Asked Aradesios in an offended manner. Bathalio looked down at the hand, skin and bones, it would be easy enough to snap, but he had nothing that he could use to get the crystal out with except maybe.. "I'm calling you obedient!" She returned, Goringae were for the most part, immune to each others abilities, she could stare Aradesios dead in the eyes and not even feel faint. Bathalio moved his hands slowly upwards, trying not to be noticed. "Obedient!? You wretched wench!" He growled out, tendrils of darkness flowing wider getting ready to strike. Bathalio grabbed the dwarf kings wrist and in an extremely painful movement, wrenched himself around and pushed the hand against one of Vastile's claws. Aradesios let out a horrid, angry cry at the same time Vastile let out a disgusted one; there was a wet popping noise and Bathalio caught the bloody orb as it shot from the dead dwarves hand.
"Ah!" He clasped it tightly with both hands. "Aradesios! I command you!" He hollered angrily. Aradesios growled but Bathalio gave him nothing to work with. "Shadow!" He cast, placing the orb and his hands against his own chest. A darkness spread through him, he lost the kind of vision he was use to, but gained something else. Now he was incorporeal, as was everything on him, including the crystal. "I hate you!" Aradesios screamed in the most grating voice.
There was nothing he could do though, Bathalio had learned to use his element whether it was to his will or against it and with his body incorporeal, Vastile could not catch him until the spell wore off; he could also not bleed to death.
Bathalio slid across the floor like a true shadow, going through dark places like doorways as he searched for the feeling of the other crystals.
Aradesios seemed annoyed at the very prospect that his essence had been captured again and that Vastile was probably going to kill the menace first. He hated giving Bathalio and kind of help, but he wanted to see Vastile eat her own words more. "Through there." He projected into Bathalio's head. Bathalio stumbled, he hadn't been expecting the voice in his head and it shocked him enough that he nearly fell through the floor. "Damnate!" He shouted, but followed the directions anyway, the orb clutched tightly in his hand began to throb and flash. At least Aradesios wasn't lying, but why the beast was helping him was far beyond Bathalio. "Left." He shouted, he could hear Vastile following through the earth, he didn't think they would run out of spell before they found the crystals, after all, Aradesios knew where it was and once Bathalio had the crystals, Vastile would have to kill him quickly or deal with Aradesios mocking her until he got bored. Bathalio followed the directions without argument, though he felt rather confused when he was lead to the treasury; not because he was surprised the crystals would be there, he wasn't in the least, but because he was surprised that Aradesios had actually lead him to them.
Three of them were sitting on a pillar since they were small and could have otherwise gotten lost, Bathalio didn't see the other three though and closed his eyes.
"Aradesios, where are the other three?" He asked as he ran in, he couldn't grab the crystals in his fist because he was incorporeal. But before he would dispel himself he had to find the golden crystal so he could capture Vastile as soon as she appeared.
He had a harder time moving around in the treasure room -- Bathalio was made of shadows for the moment, and the entire room was painfully well lit for a subterranean cavern big enough to hold a dragon and it's horde.
Aradesios, however, didn't seem keen on leading him any further. Bathalio slid along the walls and through the shadows of pillars and piles, it was fairly neat really, for a dwarves horde, centuries kept by deformed ghoul cursed dwarves.
Bathalio slowed down then held still, he clutched the black orb tightly and concentrated; its draw would pull him in the direction of the missing orb, all he had to do was follow.
In very little time, but longer then Bathalio would have liked to wait, the orb began pulsing and almost moving on its own in a specific direction.
Bathalio slid after the pulse and followed with his eyes closed, it wasn't as though he had to worry about running into anything.
After a short glide, Bathalio opened his eyes, not four feet in front of him lay the bright golden orb, pulsing and glowing with power and desire to contain its beast. Like a human soul trying to control an inner demon, or more likely, exactly like that.. After all, most of them had been human, most of them anyway.
The orb had rolled right into the middle of the well lit room and laid directly under the large chandelier that lit everything from above.
Bathalio frowned deeply- four feet, four feet that would take less then thirty seconds to cross, yet thirty seconds might not even be enough time if Vastile had kept up with his movements, and he had little doubt that she had.
Bathalio took a deep breath, positioned himself to jump and whispered as softly as he could. "Dispel." As soon as the shadowy appearance had dissipated from his feet, he launched himself at the orb.
His fingers brushed against the smooth round side and he screamed with anger as he was snatched away, the orb just ever out of reach.
Bathalio howled in anger, he couldn't see Aradesios, only the twisted kind of reptilian face of Vastile. He dared not strike the solid rock manifestation physically, certain he would shatter his hand if he tried; even he was not strong enough to punch through stone.
"Blind!" He shouted as he forced the black demons magic through his body to channel the death and mix it with chaos. It was a complicated process and because chaos was so unpredictable, what he asked for wasn't always what he got, even with the stability of another element.
Vastile just laughed, a horrible dry and cracking sort of sound. "Fool, I don't have to see you." She leaned her wicked face down close; a breath, that smelled like dirt and things rotting in earth, caused Bathalio to unwittingly grab over his nose and mouth. To his fear and confusion, he became uncontrollably hungry from the smell. "I can feel you." She hissed lowly. Bathalio felt a cold sort of knowing grip him as he was squeezed by her sharp claws like a rag doll, helpless to the power of the monster… Knowing that if he did not do something, he would die and it would be totally in vain.
Everything his friends had done, everything he had gone through, all trouble his beautiful mistresses had gone to, providing them with the knowledge and the know how and everything else they needed..
All that cold knowing, all the pain he was already experiencing and the new hunger he was feeling fed into a long growing sense of rage. Something that had been building inside him since the days his friends gave their lives to produce the monster he now sought..
Bathalio would not let their efforts destroy him, he would not lose. He gritted his teeth together and stared the creature down as strongly as he could.
"You're right.. It was a panicked move, but grabbing me? When I need my hands to touch to cast? Wasn't that foolish too?" He asked as he smirked, it was eating at him painfully but he called Aradesios' magic through him again. Vastile looked puzzled, what spell could he possibly cast that would effect her?
She seethed a bit as his hands fell down and rested against her, it felt like his fingers were digging through the rock of her arms.
"Argh! You wretched thing!" She cried out in a gravelly, horrid voice. Bathalio cackled wildly as his fingers sunk into the rocky flesh. He was rotting her away with his very touch, death came to all things, even rocks, crystals and earths died and were reborn, but everything had to rot first.
Disintegration that took the organic material and destroyed it to return nutrients or energy to the place where it came from to be cycled through again. Now, he was rotting her body; it was a vicious more tangible form of what Aradesios did to the souls of mortals who saw him, he killed their bodies instantly, but forced their souls to stay put and rot slowly, which was what drove them mad.
Eventually her rocky skin fell to the ground with a wicked shluping sound and Bathalio fell with it.
He grabbed the golden orb and with a widened kind of madness in his eyes, slammed the stone as close to the center of her chest as possible. Vastile let out painful, agonized wails and screams as her rocky flesh melted and decayed out of her control. She didn't have time to move or prepare as the orb came crashing into torso. There was sort of a guttural choking noise and then a cry so loud and harsh it sounded like a mountain falling. Her manifested body shattered like glass and the orb floated slowly into Bathalio's hand, one of two covered in blood.
The dark haired Guardian looked at the orb in his hand and then down at his stomach, he was bleeding profusely from eight wicked slices in his stomach.
Bathalio coughed and threw blood from his mouth, blood he noted to be black.
He took a closer look at his hand, it was thin and drawn, skin he could see had turned a paler gray sort of shade from his usual color.
A horrid notion struck Bathalio and he sought a silver platter or a pool of water, anything. He came across a silver goblet first and held it up.. His fears were true, the curse was starting to effect him, he was becoming a ghoul.
The hunger he had been feeling became more pronounced and Bathalio felt like vomiting from the very idea of the food he wanted.
Bathalio removed his shirt and ripped it into long strips, he tied them as tight as he could manage with his own weakening hands around his torso and wounds. It was a pitiful stopping measure and as soon as he was finished, he took the other three orbs from their station on the pillow and plopped all of them inside their velvet pouches.
He would find the last one when he had the time, now he needed to find the dwarves and ask them the source of the curse.
"I demand to know the source of this curse! Why is it effecting me now and why wasn't I warned?" Bathalio demanded, standing angry as his hunger and discomfort grew.
At least his side had mostly stopped bleeding, the dwarves had done their best to sew him up and bandage him, but clumsy ghoulish hands hand rendered the job sub par.
"We did not know it would effect you. No one has been down here in more then a millennium. We had no way of knowing the curse would effect an outsider." The elder answered, annoyed to be yelled at but understanding why.
"The curse was laid upon our ancestors, our ancient king, Bolgoar The Despised was a wretched and foolish man, an object came to him that he was not suppose to keep, however when it did not acknowledge him as a king, he did not pass it on, he kept it, and slaughtered the dwarf who the ring claimed to be a king. Because of that, we are cursed to take on the true image of the king that cursed us." The old dwarf explained.
Bathalio followed the story and went paler then he already was at hearing the fairly vague description of the ring. There was only one ring he knew of with that kind of power and will..
"Your king, he is the one who stole and hid the Ring of Seven Kings?" Bathalio balked in disbelief.
The ring had been missing for nearly as long as the wars had been going on, and he had had the misfortune and luck of finding it?
Bathalio did not want to be the first one to find it, in fact, he did not want to find it at all. Bathalio was not a king, but he was afraid of the rings power and that it might decide he was as it tended to pick people who thought they were not made of the right stuff.
The old man nodded. "Yes, once the ring is given to one of the next seven kings, it will release us and you from its curse." He replied, crossing thin, fragile arms over his chest. He had been born a ghoulish form, he had no idea what it was like to be a dwarf, but he did want to know. He wanted to know as his forefathers had passed the idea of what being a dwarf meant long through the lines. "Will you take the ring to the surface and find the next king?" The man asked Bathalio hopefully.
Bathalio frowned. This was not a task he wanted. This wasn't even a task he wanted to know about someone else having, but… Bathalio had never heard of the ring requiring a king, only a ring bearer to fine the king..
Eventually he spoke. "I will.. Take the ring to the surface.. But I have a great task on my shoulders already. I will give the ring to the first good soul I see and hope for the best." Bathalio compromised. Still, it wasn't a job he wanted.
He watched the old ghoul nod and a small box was brought out. Bathalio took the box as though it would poison him and stuffed it in the empty velvet pouches.
"One of the scouts will show you out. Be safe on your travels Guardian of Chaos." He bade before a lankier ghoulish creature walked up and bowed. Bathalio looked at him carefully before finally nodding and following the creature out. He kept an eye on his hand as it slowly became more malformed.
On his way out, he had forced a stop back by the treasure hold to collect the few missing orbs he had not gotten after collecting the second Goringae. The scout had been less than pleased about it, but had done as he was told. Even as deformed as he had become and as long as his ancestors had been that way, they all still knew of the power of the Goringae and the power of the Guardians.
The surface came as a relief and yet, also came with the terrible notion that there was no where to go.. He had been walking for days before stumbling into the dwarves lair, there had been no promise of a village, no promise of anything and the ring in his hand throbbed upon contact with the sun; none the less, his hand was still drawn.
It did not, however, worsen and he was struck with the idea that perhaps the curse was on pause, all he had to do was put it in the hands of someone new and he would be freed of the curse, freed of the horrible hunger that ate at him.
It was a full day and night of walking as fast as he could manage with the wounds that he had before he stumbled into town. Bathalio knew what he must have looked like and kept to the edges.
The dark haired man desperately hoped to find something, somewhere he could rest and he thought the goddesses had heard his request when he spotted an apparently empty farmhouse. Bathalio took for it like a drying horse to water. He flung open the doors and collapsed on the hay inside. He was utterly miserable, it was bright, midday, a time he would normally enjoy for the warmth and the sun but now could only hate as it burned his deformed skin.
Bathalio didn't have long to rest, his utterly lack of quiet had roused the poor farm boy who worked there had picked up his meager weapon, a pitchfork, and headed nervously into the barn.
What he saw first was not a ghoul but the withered, drawn and sickly form of something that looked human, it was only when the sun hit Bathalio and he recoiled that the boy realized he wasn't.
"Hold there!" The boys voice was not nearly as brave and he seemed to want it. "W-what are you doing?" He demanded, though his tone was far from demanding.
Bathalio rose his head, he spotted the boy and immediately shoved his hand in the pouch. The ring throbbed angrily and he turned blackened eyes on the poor boy he was about to bestow a most unfortunate task to. "Woah there." Bathalio started. "I need only to rest, in return for letting me stay a minute, I should give you a gift and a task all at once." Bathalio frowned, his voice sounded hard and cut, like his throat was dry.
He heard a distant chuckle in his mind and had fair thought to smash the crystals in his pocket and kill the Goringae the only way he knew how.
Unfortunately for Bathalio, destroying the crystals only released the monsters further.. But that bit of information had not made it into historical records.
"What would a thing like you give me?" Asked the boy warily, keeping the spears of the pitchfork pointed at Bathalio.
Bathalio chunked the little box in the farm hands direction and watched the boy catch it. It was almost frightened how as soon as the box landed in the boys hand, Bathalio's body snapped back to normal. It left him gasping and coughing. At least he wasn't injured, apparently his wounds had healed; save for a slight sunburn.
For the first time, Bathalio got a really good look at the boy: Shortish, strange hair that spiked up in three places like feathers on the top of his head, hair traveled down his shoulders and past from what could be seen; pale, but dirty, bright blue eyes and silvery hair. Bathalio noted he had some pretty interesting colorations for a human and wondered how north he'd ended up getting.
The boy caught the box and opened it, peering inside. "A… Ring?" He looked up at Bathalio who now just looked old rather then monstrous.
Bathalio nodded slowly. "A ring." He affirmed, glad to have his old body back and wiggling his toes to feel the fatness of them against his boot; a lovely contrast to the shriveled feeling that had engulfed him previously.
The boy looked at the ring almost warily. "What… Do I do with it?" He looked back to Bathalio.
The Chaos Guardian stretched and laid himself into the, far from soft, straw. "Don't put it on unless you want to see if you're a king. That much I can suggest, other then that, you are now given the great task of finding seven kings." He gave the farm boy an apologetic look. "It's a terrible burden I've given you, but I have to heavy a burden already to bear one such as that."
The boy looked surprised and confused all at the same time. "This ring will find kings…?"
Bathalio nodded. "Do you have any education?" He asked pretty plainly.
The farm boy shook his head. "Only what gets told to me." He answered.
Bathalio nodded and patted the straw beside him. "Come over here then. If you're going to be taking on this burden, you'd best know a little about it." It would have been to unfair to send the poor kid out into the world with absolutely no knowledge about what he was doing or how he was suppose to go about it.
The boy walked slowly over to Bathalio and sat uncomfortably in the shifting straw. He really didn't understand how the strange man could lay in it and look so comfortable. What kind of burden was he bearing anyway?
Bathalio laid back, he stared up at the ceiling and then closed his eyes; sighing quietly, he started the story. "Before the wars started- that is, the most recent wars- there were seven kings, one for each of our lands one for each of the seven religions. It was their job to keep peace and prosperity so the world would never fall into darkness." Bathalio stretched his arms above his head and then tucked folded hands under it.
"The kings were not chosen by blood or by vote, but by a ring; the ring is so ancient even the gods won't admit which one of them made it or even if it was a creation of an older god. But it does have a peculiar power: In the hands of a person truly fit to become king, the ring will expand to the size of a crown. In the case of immortals, it's always been a rule that during their kingship they would have to test themselves once every mortal age to insure they were still viable kings." Bathalio took a breath and looked over to make sure the farm boy was following. After a nod he continued.
"Just before the war started, the kings started dying, or rather started being murdered. The fewer kings were left the more the suspicion turned to the remaining kings until there were only three left and all three kings just vanished. Unfortunately, the ring vanished with them. It has been lost in the forgotten mines of a dwarven king for all this time bringing a curse to the people there and who have the misfortune of being near it. The ring was stolen by an immortal and for it his people were cursed." Bathalio looked at the farm boy again who nodded, trying to prompt the rest of the story.
"I came across the ring during my own quest and it cursed me as it cursed them." Bathalio saw the boy twitch visibly and rose a hand. "Not to worry, once it left my hands the curse was lifted and you won't undergo the curse so long as you are searching for its kings. You become it's bearer and in a way, the chooser of kings."
The boy nodded slowly and looked down at the box. "But… There are thousands of people in the world, how will I know which seven are the seven I'm looking for?" He looked back up at Bathalio.
The Guardian pointed to the box. "The ring will tell you when you're getting close and you can do things like drop the ring where the person you're spying might pick it up. Most older people will know the meaning of a ring that changes into a crown so you'll have little trouble explaining to people what's going on unless all the kings are farm hands like you." Bathalio stretched and turned on his side.
"Now, one last thing." Bathalio pillowed his head on his arm. "I am going to rest because I am very tired, however, when I wake, I will take you to the nearest temple and have an official mark made for you that you may travel freely through the lands and the ring may never be taken from you."
Bathalio looked over the boy. "Perhaps I'll get you some cleaner clothes to travel in as well."
The farm boy looked like he might be insulted at that, but realized he was quite dirty and decided to say nothing. He stood, tucked the box into the pocket of his breaches and walked out of the barn to leave Bathalio to rest.
In the morning, Bathalio felt much better. His wounds had mostly healed though the ground beneath him seemed dry and barren. The Chaos Guardian could only imagine that he'd unconsciously been using Aradesios' abilities to drain the life from the land and repair himself.
It did not take Bathalio long to realize he wasn't alone. A pair of solid golden eyes with no pupils and no whites stared at him from within the straw. If he hadn't realized what it was, he might have felt compelled to attack it.
"Sleep well… Human..?" The grating voice sounded like someone with rocks in their throat; to be fair though, Vastile probably had rocks in its throat.
"Yes. Actually." The creature had yet to do anything hostile and Bathalio was not really in the mood to fight, so he withheld any verbal suspicions about Vastile's curiosity as to his rest.
"Good.." Vastile slithered from the straw in which she had been resting. As far as Goringae went, she was not the most hideous. Her body was long and looked covered in rocks and dirt, but Bathalio knew that was how Vastile held physical form.
Vastile slithered out from her hiding place and wrapped slowly around Bathalio's legs. Her body was long and serpentine, her legs short, holding her close to the ground as she moved with an unnatural speed. Sharp, wicked claws dug and disappeared into the earth, in truth, Vastile was as much a part of the land as the rocks she formed herself from.
"You're concern is… Endearing.." Bathalio chose his words wisely, Aradesios would kill him if he got the chance and while he was under no illusions that Vastile was any different; however if he had a choice between being on faked friendly terms and outright aggressive terms, Vastile would probably be more bearable under faked friendly terms.. At least as long as he held the orb, she could do him no harm… The only true weakness of the Goringae and one Bathalio was blessedly thankful for.
"Oh, well.. We'll be spending a lot of time together.. I thought it would be good for us to be on… Pleasant terms." Vastile curled around Bathalio in a way that was terribly snake like.
"Yes well… I think I agree with you." Bathalio kept a wary eye on Vastile, keeping his eyes on her claws and teeth.
"Well… As long as we agree." She gave him an unsettlingly toothy grin and was gone. In a loud, rumbling crumble, the rocks and dirt collapsed around him and sunk back into the ground.
Not minutes later, the farm boy from the previous day walked into the barn. He had the box with the ring clutched tightly in one hand, a small bowl in the other.
"Oh good," He piped up, though the boy sounded a bit nervous, he seemed hospitable enough. "I'm glad you're awake. I brought you some of breakfast.. It's not a lot, but if you are who you say you are then it'll hold you until we can get to a temple." The strange looking human handed Bathalio a bowl half full of porridge and some small hunk of unidentifiable meat.
Bathalio was too hungry to feel picky and gladly ate what he was given.
After his meal, Bathalio followed the stable-hand to the temple that sat in the middle of their town. It was an enormous earth temple, built entirely of clay and stone it was a very impressive monument to the goddess to whom it was devoted. The yellow clay and gray and brown stones made lovely contrasts with each other. The great archway doors had been made large enough for even dragons and giants to enter with ease. It was an impressive sight, it had likely been carefully and meticulously constructed by dwarves and humans who tended to follow the Lady of Earth the closest for obvious farming and mining reasons.
Bathalio opened one of the doors himself, a feat that should have been impossible for a human; it was a perk of being a guardian, no temple door could ever stay closed to their hands. Especially the hands of chaos. "Come on, in the temple of Earth, all are children of the warrior mother." The Earth Goddess was generally considered one of the three most combative of the Seven Sacred Sisters.
The stable boy followed Bathalio closely, he looked pretty small compared to Bathalio. Bathalio stood with his shoulders back and his head high, he belonged in the temples and he loved them dearly. The stable boy walked with his shoulders drawn in and cowered in the Guardian's shadow.. Temples were elite places.. The priests were nice enough but the townspeople believed that temples were to good for lowly people..
The priests didn't support the idea, but neither could they fight it and expect to keep the temple a safe haven for those who needed it. Priests did not have the same kind of power as Guardians did.
The priest who approached Bathalio was a tall woman of fairly noble baring. She was statuesque in build, with short, cropped hair and leather shoulder armor that made her look a little bigger. Earth priests tended to school themselves in physical combat, whether they were physically strong or not had little to do with their training.
"Welcome, all are welcome in the house of our beloved Lady of Earth." She greeted the two. As soon as she'd had a good enough look at Bathalio she instantly bowed. "Ah, Sir, we are humbled by your presence."
Bathalio smiled and laid a hand on the priestess' shoulder. "I am grateful for the welcome, but I am no more important in my role then you in yours. Please, I am no one to be bowed to."
The woman stood, she was at least a full head taller then Bathalio… That made her, very, very tall…
"Please tell me Sir, what has brought you to the home of our Mother?" The tall woman was as welcoming and calm as any of her order.
Bathalio smiled. "I have brought a young man who has been given a very important task. I would order him suitable traveling clothes, permission to cross into any boarder where our Ladies are known to the people and if you can spare it, an escort of strong, motherly baring to guide him." Bathalio put his hand on the farmhand's shoulder and pushed him forward a bit.
The priestess cast a critical eye over him before nodding sharply. "I believe we have something suitable for him to wear, everything else is easy to obtain in short order." She turned for Bathalio to follow her where he could write up a pass. Only a Guardian's pass would be accepted anywhere that their Goddesses were welcomed. Wind priests could turn away someone with a pass from the Earth temple, though it was exceedingly rare, it was best keep a problem from arising in the first place.
Bathalio followed the priestess with a kind of authority that was naturally held by all the Guardians. It wasn't unusual for any Guardian to puff up a bit in a temple, not really out of any belief of betterment then the rest of the occupants but more so for their comfort and the power that they could naturally draw from the structures and those living inside. Guardians were just that, both of the temples, the religion and the people who practiced it; as such their belief in the Goddesses gave the Guardian's strength in a very divine fashion.
Bathalio thanked the priestess kindly when he was lead to the drawing room where he could write up the pass and he looked at the boy who had been trailing lightly behind him in a timid manner. "Go with her, she'll give you clothes and food. Do not be afraid of the temple, Earth is welcoming to all her children." Bathalio assured the boy before going towards the desk. He saw out of the corner of his eye the tall priestess laying a gentle hand on the boys head as she said something softly that seemed to make him perk up a bit. From there they both disappeared down the hall leaving Bathalio to his work.
Bathalio had just about finished the official pass he was writing when one of the lower level priests came to the door and bowed deeply. "Sir," he addressed Bathalio respectfully to gather his attention. "There's a young woman here to see you."
Bathalio felt a pang in his chest when his first thought was Sarah. The dark haired Guardian turned to face the priest and rose an eyebrow. "A young woman..?" Bathalio left the writing table to follow the young priest out into the sanctuary. There he found the 'young woman' the priest had mentioned admiring the turtle like dragon representation of the Earth Goddess. "Hara?" Bathalio's voice was lighter out of shock.
The young Eledant turned to face him with a relieved smile. "Ah, I'm glad you are alright, when Ormak returned to the farm and without you anywhere in sight, I was afraid something awful had happened. I had him take me back the way that you had gone, this was the closest town from where he stopped." Hara walked over to Bathalio and reached a slender hand up to touch his face. "You've been putting the strain on yourself again, haven't you?"
Bathalio's face remained a wall of shock. Hara had come so far from home just to check on him. "N-no." He defended automatically. It wasn't even a thought, he had defended himself that way many times to Sarah before.
"Liar." Hara smiled gently and took a step back. "So… This is the Earth Temple..? I don't know what I was expecting but I think this is as comforting as I wanted it to be. If a little closed off…"
Bathalio was having a very hard time collecting his wits back to him. Suddenly it struck him how dangerous it must have been for Hara to make the journey on his own. "How did you get here? Do your parents know you've left? Are you alright as well?" Bathalio stepped towards Hara and reached out his hand.
The young Eledant laughed softly. "You worry to much about others Bathalio. I'm not a child anymore, despite how I may look. I left my parents a letter and I brought Ormak with me for you." Hara locked his hands behind his back and looked up at the artwork that decorated the walls and ceilings. "However, I don't think you're taking proper care of yourself." Hara looked directly at Bathalio. "I think I should start traveling with you, obviously you can't take proper care of yourself so you need someone who can."
"What?" Bathalio stared at Hara as if he had just grown wings or horns or some such. "You can't possibly think that's a good idea. It's dangerous!" Bathalio didn't know what to do when Hara merely smiled.. He was as powerless against Hara as he had once been against Sarah…
"I'm not a housewife Bathalio, I can hold my own. Have you even eaten yet today?" Hara asked plainly.
"Of course! The… Stable boy fed me.." Bathalio realized that he had just proved the young looking Eledant right…
"Right. Well, when you're ready to continue on, let me know. I think I'll stay here until it's time to leave." Hara smiled at him one last time before going over and sitting on one of the soft pillows lined along the ground for petitioners to sit.
Bathalio sighed.. He was worried about Hara's safety, but he would have been lying to himself to think that he wouldn't appreciate the company and a good cook…