.The World We Come Back To.
.The Fortune of Raids.
Characters; Yenahta, Imperiuum, Mayu
Warnings; None
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The Orkana Plateau. Once a haven for Slayers, Executioners, and wanderers of all sorts. Until the day a young Slayer
brought something back from beyond the red, and a madness overtook the lands. Though only one survivor would go on to
remember the violent aftermath of that mistake, many would later come to this area and piece together the events from the
carnage which was left behind. There were reasons why Shade Artifacts were never brought back for study.

And the blood-stained sands of the Orkana Plateau told of an overdue explanation offered to those oblivious to the
reasons. Of a single night which brought with it unavoidable death, and rendered a Plateau unsafe and quarantined. There
were no more Slayers stationed here in this now abandoned outpost, where the greenery kept in check by a now dead
Azama were left decayed and overgrown. Where the rotted bodies of the slain were still present, because it was unsafe to
remove them from the area.

There were no signs of life in the Orkana Plateau for months after the Event. No one could enter the area without becoming
infected by Shade Magics, so it was sealed off by the Purifiers and left alone. Until the day of the Breach; when something
used the abandoned Plateau was an entranceway and all hell broke loose.

He hadn't been there the day it happened. It was only later, in passing, that he learned of the exploited Plateau and the
bloodbath of the Purifiers who were sent on a suicide mission to close off that Plateau from further invasion. Now standing
on the outside of the Orkana's blood-barrier, he can see the evidence of the more recent fight burned into the haunted
landscape. There are debris everywhere; ranging from fallen trees, exploded areas, to a gaping section of a missing
Plateau wall.

He imagines that whatever attacked the Plateau came from that area, where the walls are ripped outwards, and a chunk of
the Plateau is nothing but empty space. Had anyone of the Orkana Plateau been present during the attack, they would've
died anyway.

There's black sand scattered across the ground nearest the Blood-barrier; evidence that Shade Warriors had made it into
the Orkana, and attempted to cross the barrier.

He glances over his shoulder, back down the long skeletal steps that lead to the Orkana, to the lands beyond. Had a Shade
Warrior gotten through, they would've been treated to the feast of a nearby Pride that chose to live outside the safety of the
Valleys. Nameless individuals, he can't even remember what Dimension they hail from - but it is not his own, and for that
reason, he feels nothing for the possiblity of their deaths. As far as he is concerned, any who dwell so close to enemy
territory are volunteering to be cannon fodder, anyway.

"This place reeks of death." The Raveeness, perched high on the damaged wallside, comments down to him. Her green
eyes are focused forward, peering through the veil of red that is the only standing Blood-Barrier of this Plateau. Her weapon
is already at the ready, clutched between her paws in an expert manner.

"The taint is gone," he replies to her, reaching out with his senses into this Plateau that so many avoid these days.
"Whatever it was that turned them insane, it's been taken."

She nods at his words. "So it seems."

They are both silent for a moment, their individual gazes searching the area for anything that is out of place in this
war-ravaged land. Though the sands are the Barrier tell of a great deal of dead Shade Warriors, it says nothing about the
possibility of others still lingering beyond it. Both are hesitant to take the first step into the Plateau, knowing that as they
pass the Barrier there will be a moment when they are open to attack.

So they watch for several long minutes; both having enough patience to do so without losing sight of their goal. They need
to enter this Plateau, and they cannot turn away after coming so far. If they do not follow through; then no one else will.

"Prepare for anything," he says as he takes a step forward, unusual wings folded back in such a way that the 'skulls' that sit
at their ends are facing forward. Like skeletal maws ready to feast. He does not glance up at her again, familiar enough with
his companion to know she is already prepared to leap through the Barrier and move to the attack the moment he passes
through. It is comforting knowledge.

The Blood-Barrier is like any other, thin, but seeming to take a long moment to pass through as Ancient Magic courses
through one's veins and seeks out the parasitic properties of one who is Blood-Marked. The feeling is one that is intrusive,
unwelcoming, but familiar. His vision swims in a sea of red for a breath, and then colour returns fully as he's upon the
otherside; black sand scattered beneath his paws and a haunted Plateau stretched out before him.

He has not been attacked, but she crosses through the Barrier ready to defend him anyway. When no enemies assemble
before them, they once more take a cautious look around them. She pulls her weapon, so much like a regular bow were it
not for it's ghostly nature, so that it's ready to fire at any given moment. He has no weapon summoned to his arsenal, just
the natural attributes of his kind.

They will be enough.

"It's clear," she affirms, though her stance does not relax.

"For now," he acknowledges. As one they move forward, him in the lead, and her a few steps behind. They do not wish to
linger for longer than they need, the glowing Seals around the Orkana already faded, and walls threatening to crumble
further. So they move towards their goal, to the Shrine that has been left in ruins and is no longer recognisable to any who
saw it before. He digs through the rubble, moving slabs of rock and other debris with his telekinetic touch, while she keeps a
wary eye on their surroundings.

It does not take long for the object to be found, for they knew where to look. Once it is retrived, he attaches it to his being,
and turns to his companion. Her face is etched into an expression of concentration, as she stares hard at one of the Seals
along the Plateau Wall. It's sparking, white Symbol flickering between black and red as if it were a blinking eye. He turns to
take in the sight, eyes narrowing.

"We're not alone." She needn't say it. He already knows.

The Seal shatters like breaking glass, shards of the Symbol scattering to the winds as a shadowy mass convulses forward
and out of the Plateau's walls. Granules of black sand shift, twist, and roar against the air as it speeds forward - across the
Plateau - Mask barely visible beyond the tattered remains of a Purifier's coat.

She lets the bow string loose.

***

She is perched beneath a tree, spiritual wings wavering in the light of twilight, and glowing eyes focused on the card she
holds. Across from her there is a Raveen, faceless as any she reads, waiting eagerly for his fortune. The card depicts an
interesting scene in her mind's eye, a possible future that at first glimpse is complete with a content conclusion to a life well
lived. It is the type of life that anyone would be lucky to find themselves on the road to living.

"Well? Will she say yes?" He is hopeful, yellow eyes wide and bright against a dark face.

Her lips curl around the edges, as she looks up at the Raveen and away from the glowing card. "She will tell you exactly
what you wish to hear," the vague answer is given with a tone of certainty. "And from there, the life you wished for will span
out before you."

"Oh- Oh! Thank-you," he gushes, leans forward as if to embrace her in thanks, "Thank-you! This means so much- now I
know it'll be worth it.... But.." He pulls back before making contact with her. "Should I ask her tonight? Tomorrow? Before or
after dawn?"

She smiles, though the expression is inwardly thin. "The sun set should work best, the minute before Yein dips below the
horizon, should be just perfect. Be sure to ask her tonight - for it you ask her any time different than tonight, before Yein is
completely gone, then this future you want will not happen."

His expression breaks, the desperation rises. "I-I ...I'll ask her tonight." He nods. "I'll do it." He steps away from her,
determined to run back to his love and be there before nightfall. "Thank-you."

He is gone when she looks back at the card, to where a beautiful future has now twisted itself into something different, and
she cannot help but smile as she replaces the card into the deck. "You're welcome." The gleam in her eyes is predatory,
and as she hears the approach of two new arrivals she is already shuffling the deck in preparation for another reading.
When she looks up, expression welcoming, it is almost comical how her smile falls.

"It's just you," she announces, frowning at the Astral and Primal who stand before her now. She sets the deck of cards
aside, peering at them both through hooded eyes. "Did you find it?"

"Yes," the male replies, detaching the item from his armour and sliding it across the space between them. "It was exactly
where you said it would be."

"As it always is," she is smug, caressing the object with a reverent touch.

"How many more are there?" The female Astral asks, her bow at ease around her neck and shoulders. She does not feel
threatened her, in the company of her Dimension-mates.

"Only fifteen more," she looks up at them once more. "But you will get the next three all in the same location. In a Plateau,
much different from the last, where you will also find greater danger."

They nod, already understanding how this task could cause their paths to cross with the darker sides of this world. They do
not need further warning.

"It is a place named for Thunder - do you remember it?"