.The World We Come Back To.
.Passing of the Torch/Changing of the Guard. Part 1.
Characters; Onyx, Mythril, Morgalis, Shanura, mentions of others.
Warnings; Nothing really.
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He was gone before the last dawn of the 45th year.

Vanished into the cloak of darkness like a fading whisper; his presence once full and suffocating now nothing more than
empty space. Sevariuus had been smart this time, fleeing before the final fatality could be dealt. Some would consider him a
coward for his actions, for taking to running away instead of facing it again. They wouldn't remember him as the Guardian
who dared to challenge the Gate's curse twice. They wouldn't recall any of his actions or good deeds, just his last, cowardly,
action.

They wouldn't remember anything beyond his name and cowardice in a few years time. He'd be nothing more than another
name to add to an already crowded list.

Mythil thought it ironic that his name would be on that list twice; but only one would be marked 'coward'. He should've
stayed, remained in his station until that moment when the Event would happen. When he could live up to her expectations
by not backing down from the threat he'd already died from.

But fear, it seemed, was more powerful than she gave it credit for.

"He's not coming back this time," Onyx remarked blithely. "We've been discarded."

"I wouldn't say discarded," Mythril mused, "I don't think he was brave enough to stand before death again. And by leaving
us behind, he's saved us the trial of having to watch him die."

Onyx was silent for a long moment. When he spoke again it was a searching glance in her direction. "You think him dead?"

"No," she admitted. "I don't think Sevariuus is dead. I think he's running from that fate - fast and without regard. Had he
stayed, I've no doubt he would've died this day."

"Even knowing what the threat is - from his own personal experience with it - you think he lacked the ambition to survive a
second encounter?"

"Sevariuus has too much ambition, you know that. You saw him that day when he came back to us. His ambition is what
made him take on this station again." Mythril glanced off across the plane of the four Gates; gaze lingering upon the East
Gate longer than the others. "But his ambitions weren't strong enough to hold him to his desire of surviving a second round."

"And why do you think that is? He seemed so enthralled with the idea of exposing the Curse." Onyx followed Mythril's gaze,
grimacing at the sight of the now Guardian-less Gate. It used to amuse him to think of how many souls were trapped in the
prison-like realm beyond it's archways. But things were different now, and this Gate would no longer be their ally.

"I think..." Mythril closed her eyes, smirking slightly to herself. "I think love turned him into a coward."

"Love?" Onyx choked on air, scoffing at his mate. "You think Sevariuus threw away his chance at a rematch for.... Love?"
"I do."

Onyx watched her, studied her, looking for any signs of falsehood in her expression. She held steady, her expression
betraying nothing but the honesty of her belief in the matter. He groaned at the discovery.

"We've been in this Dimension too long." He lamented. "You're turning soft, and I'm starting to grow used to it."

Mythril chuckled lightly, brushing her paw against his. "Now that Sevariuus has fled, we're free to wander wherever it is we
wish."

He grinned at her, all fangs and glowing embers. But then the grin faded and his expression darkened. "It's like what I said
earlier. We've been discarded."

"Sometimes that's a good thing."

"Mm. Sometimes."

She moved closer to him. "What's bothering you, my black knight?"

"We're not Elites anymore. Once this day is over, we're just remnants of another failed Guardian."
"That hasn't bothered you before."

"No, and it doesn't bother me much this time. But I can't help but think now that we're... We're going to have to pass on our
Rank to some pair of rookies." Onyx growled at the thought. "And last time -- you remember? Those jackasses who took
over were useless."

"Are you...." Mythril pulled back slightly, eyes widening beneath her mask. "Actually worried about what the new Elites will
be like?"

He snorted. "I'm telling you. This Dimension is a damn disease."

She smiled gently, humoured him with a pat against a shoulder, and clucked her tongue. "Whoever they are, they'll be
better than those two were. They'll keep their Guardian alive long enough to face the Curse, just like we managed our first
time around. And then, one day, they'll be in our position - wondering if their replacements will be weaklings or guards
worthy of their ranks."

"This is pathetic." Onyx grumbled. "Hearing those words is actually comforting."

"Ah," Mythril closed her eyes thoughtfully. "I'm glad."

"But also troubled?"

"Yes. I'm beginning to agree with you. This Dimension, and these Inners, have done a number on us both."

"I told you."

~~~

The next day Sevariuus was officially presumed missing or dead. The Guardian's Council felt even more empty without the
presence of two of its Guardians; the spots formerly reserved for Sevariuus and Senbotsuusha were even more
pronounced than usual. Of the remaining Guardians, only Shanura seemed troubled by the absences.

Morgalis was detached as he ever was when announcing the status of the Gates, and the need for new Guardians to
replace them. He'd been through the process enough times by now to be used to the hesitance of filling the gap so quickly
-- but Gates were finicky things, and they couldn't be trusted to remain dormant without a Guardian to channel them. It
would be a hindrance to all involved to leave more than one Gate without a watcher.

"Perhaps we should change the process of Guardian selection this time?" Shanura put forth, leaning forward on her paws
just slightly.

Dull red eyes slid over to the purple-hued Raveeness. "Oh...? How so?"

"In the past we've looked for a warden for the East Gate without any preference towards experience. Wanting nothing more
than a fitting brute to fight down any uprising from the inhabitants of the East Gate. We need someone to take up the rank
who has experience with watching over such things." She said. "Someone who could answer the call of a Guardian, but be
strong enough to not run from it."

"I seem to recall," Morgalis drawled, "Sevariuus had experience to his name."

"He did," Shanura agreed. "But not in the sense that I mean to strive for. Sevariuus lacked any experience the first time he
took up the mantle of Guardian, and that resulted in his untimely death and ...Subsequent rebirth. We were willing to
reinstate him as a Guardian when his replacement died because we believed he was destined for it... But he still lacked that
proper experience."

"If I'm understanding correctly, you mean to say we should be looking at individuals who are used to.... Guarding?"

"Yes." Shanura replied. "Something like that."

"It could be worth looking into," Kantuur said with a slight nod. "But what sort of Kat would fit such a requirement?"

"I should also point out," Shanura continued. "That the experience we should look at shouldn't be the experience of just one
lifetime. But a collection of experience gained over several lifetimes of the same purpose."

Morgalis' eyes narrowed. He stared long and hard at Shanura, gauging her intentions. "You already have someone in mind."
"I do." She curled her tail around the curve of her body.

"Well then," Kantuur forced a grin. "Looks like we can pass along this torch soon."

Conveniently soon. Morgalis wondered how long Shanura had been planning to put forth a replacement for Sevariuus, and
if the previous East Guardian had any input in the matter. Either way, it wasn't an important event if he hadn't foreseen it.
Likely just another Guardian for the slaughter.

The walls, he thought, always did look better under a stain of red.