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  #76  
Unread 9th of June, 2010, 12:10
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Sawrina walked calmly after the Captain, but inside she was fit to burst with anger and hatred. What other emotions she had felt upon being outed fled at the Prince's tone, at the way he said 'what you are.'

What I am? What I am!? I am Princess of Sheld! I am a touched by the fey! I know things about the world he never will! I am a woman, and he is but a man! Who is he to judge me?!

Sawrina's attention only turned to Iraj when he mentioned 'Enheduana' - her would-be-mentor? She heard the scorn in his voice. When she answered, her voice was cold. She had been forced to meekly accept that attitude from the Prince. She would not take such attitude from a man beneath her station.

“Well, Captain, if I knew where to find her, I would not be here in the first place. As to my talents - as the Prince pointed out I am but a novice mage - I could no more turn your enemies to pillars of fire than you could breathe underwater. My talents, as you call them, lie in enchantments - in enhancing existing properties of an item. I could make a weapon aim a bit truer, a shield act slightly quicker, your walls a mite thicker. And while I have a fair bit of stamina when it comes to magic, I could hardly enchant your entire army. I would be exhausted after enchanting 20 soldiers' gear. I will not be able to turn the tide of the battle.

“I am, however, particularly adept at learning new spells. Though I doubt your Prince would allow it, if you have any records of spells, I would likely be able to employ them in your aid.”

She then recalled the feelings she had felt when first entering the castle, and her tone became pensive.

“Although, I might not need any such records... This castle seems to have been the site for a very powerful rite at some point in the past. If I was given time, I might be able to channel it...”

Sawrina lapses into silence as she contemplates the strange aura pervading the castle. She was sure that with enough time, she could solve its mysteries... And make use of it...
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Unread 9th of June, 2010, 20:25
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Iraj snorted. "So, given enough time, you think you might be able to come up with something useful. I'll be sure to let the Prince know so he can see if he can delay the armada long enough for you to find something to help us."

He stopped suddenly and turned to her. "Understand something, lady of Sheld, you were put into my trust and told to accept my command. What I am trying to determine is how you can help aid in the defense of this fortress. If you don't know anything that can directly help us I'll put you to work with the healers."

He started walking again. "Records of spells? None that I know of, and I do not have time to go looking for them. I am to find Enheduana first, then my second priority will be to the defense of this fortress." He raised a hand, trying to forestall the protest he was sure was on its way. "Do we understand each other?"
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Unread 9th of June, 2010, 20:38
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In icy tones, "As clear as crystal, Captain."
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  #79  
Unread 10th of June, 2010, 12:48
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All that need concern her at the moment? The situation was getting dangerous and out of control. Layhiri pursed her lips and checked the hallways for eavesdroppers. "With all due respect sir. No. I thrive on information, and there's precious little of it right now. Both you and your father have involved my friend, against her will near as I can tell, and now you tell me not to concern myself? I need to know why Lord Kurigalzu needs Enheduana so badly, and what that Shelder woman has to do with it. And may I remind you, Prince, that due to your father's policies against spies, the closest thing you have to a spymaster is the freelancer standing before you." Her tirade complete, Layhiri crossed her arms and stared up into Karathas' eyes.
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Unread 10th of June, 2010, 13:59
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Karathas smirked. "Sounds like you need to have a conversation with your friend, spymaster. You apparently don't know her as well as you should."

Karathas found Layhiri's outburst amusing, if ill-timed. It wouldn't do to have a woman he needed to rely upon playing protective mother to Enheduana. He needed to have a clear conversation with the latter before he could successfully answer Layhiri's question in the first place. He was taking a lot on faith, and only the elusive lady would be able to clear everything up.

"As for involving her against her will," the prince continued, "as you've assured me, she is a noble lady of this province, and therefore a subject of the Heavenly Kingdom, bound as all Celestines are to serve the crown and its governors in times of need. If Lord Kurigalzu believes she can help, then she must according to her abilities."

His face did soften then, as the next words came from his heart. "I promise I will not let any harm come to her. After this is all over, I will compensate her for what she can do for us. I just need to see her. Please bring her to me."
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Unread 12th of June, 2010, 09:39
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"Please bring her to me."

Layhiri closed her eyes and inhaled sharply. She needed to keep her wits about her and her emotions under control. The prince was right though, she needed to talk to her friend, Layhiri doubted that Enheduana knew the exact nature of what was happening, but at least a few clues might be helpful.

"She's safe and hidden. Given these volatile times, I think it's best she stay that way. When and IF she is needed I can fetch her, I assure you she's close by. If you'd like, you can ask me any questions and I'll relay both them and the answers back and forth. I'm a particularly good messenger in that respect."
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  #82  
Unread 16th of June, 2010, 00:25
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Karathas was momentarily lost for words, then his face creased in visible anger when he took in what Layhiri had just said.

"You mean to say that you know where she is, yet you refuse to show her to me?"

The prince's tone was incredulous, heated, and devoid of the care that it had held when he spoke of Enheduana. "Who do you think you are? That you should determine when and IF a prince's command is to be obeyed? It is enough that I should bother explaining anything at all to you. Freelancer, indeed!"

Karathas stepped closer, raising his index finger in front of Layhiri to emphasize that he was making a point. "Do not mistake my acceptance of your profession to mean you can act in open defiance of the crown. I turn a blind eye to your sort because I recognize your use in getting things that I want done. You would be wise to continue making yourself an asset, and take all care and precaution not to become an obstacle in my way.

"When I tell you I will take care of Enheduana, I do so to assuage your fears that your friend will come to some harm - not because I am trying to persuade you to do your job. You will do your job, or I will find someone else to do it just as well - and then you won't be able to help your friend at all."

Karathas brushed by Layhiri.

"Enheduana must be brought to me now. Since you know where she is, I will expect her in the courtroom within the next quarter hourglass. I trust both of you to do your duty. Don't make me send men to go look for you. And don't try to leave the keep with her either. The penalty for that would be a traitor's punishment."
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  #83  
Unread 20th of June, 2010, 18:31
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Layhiri silently crossed her arms and eyed Karathas as he went on his tirade. She was allowed her tantrums if he was allowed his; the thought made her chuckle slightly. Though her tantrums couldn't result in an execution. Probably best she reassure him of her loyalties.

"Karathas, how deep do you think this goes? How safe do you think court will be? How many spies and assassins, how many turncoats and traitors do you have? My last count was sixty-eight spies, and that was nearly half a year ago. You're lucky most of them are benign and working for other parts of the Divine Kingdom.

Your father's extremist decree of a spyless court have polarized the information trade at Waystone keep. Information traders like me have no masters, we have to expose ourselves to the public eye, every so slightly, to ply our trade. Recently that's meant executions. As far as I know, I'm the only information trader in Waystone Keep, and I'm only here for Enheduana."

She repositioned her hands on her hips. "Spies, however, have only one master to answer to, they can go for years before needing to expose themselves to danger. Waystone keep is playground for them right now. Spies, assassins and anyone else who's loyalties are questionable."

Layhiri stared into Karathas' eyes, willing him to understand the gravity of the situation. "Court is not safe. This is not an enemy you can fight through brute force. The Shelder woman, Sawrina, and Raziel have already proven how effective your soldiers are against the threat of treachery. I'm not sure why, but my friend seems to be at the center of this conflict, and until we know precisely who is loyal to Waystone and who is ready with a dagger for her, bringing her into the open will only invite disaster. If you weren't needed for a public face I'd actually suggest you go into hiding as well. Call me a traitor if you will, but I am doing everything I can to secure this fortress until your father returns," she bit her lip and stared into the ceiling. Sighing she looked back at Karathas, "But if you're going to insist I play matchmaker for you then I can lead you to Enheduana."
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  #84  
Unread 20th of June, 2010, 23:11
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Matchmaker? The word confused Karathas. What was Layhiri on about, he wondered. He himself did not fully understand the feelings he had for the woman he had only briefly danced with today. The woman who, apparently, might be a heretic sorceress. He wondered if Enheduana had enchanted him at some point. She was obviously close to Layhiri - a freelance spy. Wouldn't it be convenient for a spy to have a friend sorceress ensorcelling kings, princes, and any other convenient men of power? A sorceress and spy wrapping lords around their fingers.

The thought made the prince's hair rise on its end. Was it just a paranoid thought, fleeting and insubstantial, or had there been some merit to it? Just what was the archaic power of the Demiurge capable of wreaking amongst mere mortals such as he?

He realized then that he was, in fact, scared of Enheduana. Scared to death, and yet irrefutably drawn to her like a moth to the flame. Somehow, he felt, his destiny was entwined with hers. Some cosmic force was drawing him closer to her, and he was as helpless as hooked fish on its primordial line and rod.

"Very well, if it will put your mind at ease," Karathas said. "Lead me to her."

Layhiri probably did mean well, but her position as a spy was coloring her judgment. The time for hiding was nearing an end. War was coming to Waystone, and everyone would soon be called on to make a stand. Karathas was bound to it, and soon he felt, Enheduana would be as well. Layhiri may not be able to comprehend it, but she would not be able to shield her friend forever.
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Unread 22nd of June, 2010, 15:18
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"My mind at ease? I thought I was putting your mind at ease. Regardless, follow me." Something about this whole situation wasn't sitting right with Layhiri. She'd do anything for Enheduana, that was true, but since returning to Waystone Keep she'd notice her friend was different. Troubled and disturbed, far beyond the usual troubles. Even she hadn't been able to get proper answers from the noble woman.

Waystone Keep seemed imposing now. The stone was colder and harder, like the fortress itself was preparing for the bloodshed ahead. Layhiri led the young prince through a winding path. Corridors twisted and turned, and Layhiri moved left or right seemingly at random. Could normal people make it through this path? Or did you need to have her memory to navigate it? It brought to question how Enheduana found their hiding spot, and how she managed to keep making her way back. The thought made her shiver.

"Odd isn't it? Waystone keep has so many secrets. I can still remember when Enheduana found this place, the room we're heading to. We're still not sure what it's for, personally, I think it's purpose was from before Waystone was part of the Divine Kingdom." They arrived at a plain looking wooden door, at the very end of an empty hallway. Layhiri looked at the prince, did he notice anything unusual? Enheduana and her had spent nearly a week here in their childhood, and no one had found them. Later, Layhiri understood why, she'd mapped out the route in her memory and compared it to her other wanderings of the keep, and to some architecture plans, the room shouldn't exist. Technically, they were supposedly onto of court, though this was clearly not the case. Any of her attempts to reach this room by alternate pathways failed. And as usual Layhiri wanted to scream at the wrongness of it, but she held her tongue.

"Here we are. This is the safest place I know of in Waystone Keep." She pushed open the door and entered the small room. It clearly used to bare, but Enheduana had brought in plenty of candles and torches. Enheduana herself was seated in the center, reading a small book. Layhiri closed the door behind the prince, "Duana? I'm here, I've brought a friend."
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  #86  
Unread 10th of July, 2010, 13:58
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Karathas smiled inwardly at the use of the word "friend." Did a man in his position really have friends? Could he afford them? He had family, he had acquaintances, servants and women on the side, but the Prince truly wondered if he had a real friend in all the world and swiftly came to a negative conclusion. Tragic, in a comical way, that a leader of men should be so alone.

Shaking away the random thoughts, Karathas inclined his head to Enheduana. She was afterall a lady, and only at this point an alleged heretic.

"My lady," Karathas began, "I have been looking for you. Thanks to your friend here, it hasn't been an easy task." He smiled, perhaps a bit too ruefully.

"I've come for several reasons. The first is to warn you that I am not the only person seeking you out at this moment. Someone in this keep, a soldier of ours named Raziel, wants to kill you. Before I go on to say anything else, I'd like to know if you'd be willing to hazard a guess as to why an otherwise loyal and disciplined servant of Waystone would suddenly want you and anyone serving under you dead?"

Karathas wanted to hear how Enheduana would react. What did she know. What would she give away with her eyes? Could this woman truly be a wretched servant of the Namer?
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  #87  
Unread 27th of July, 2010, 08:19
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Enhenduana looked genuinely shocked.

"I…I have no idea m'lord. You say a man named Raziel wishes me… dead?" Enhenduana folds her hands into her lap and lets her gaze fall.

"To be honest, my prince, I have been having odd nightmares. I've always had trouble sleeping, and my memory prior to coming to Waystone is practically an empty room. Could this… Raziel fellow wanting me dead have something to do with that?"

Enhenduana looked troubled, weary. Still a young beauty, to be sure, but the lines on her face and the darkness behind her eyes betrayed a much older soul. Something had been eating at her, perhaps more than figuratively. As far as Karathas and Layhiri could tell, she was being completely honest in her shock and fear.

"I'm so sorry to have hidden myself, Prince Karathas! I confided in Layhiri, my childhood friend, and she was only trying to help me. Please don't think me to be your enemy -- I love Waystone and its people as I would my own family, had I any to speak of. In fact, you are my family.

"These dreams are awful. I fear I bring danger to the whole of the Realm by staying here. I… I had plans to flee the province as soon as Lord Kurigalzu had mustered his troops and cleared the countryside. My handmaidens bribed some of the soldiers, and I wouldn't be surprised if Raziel was among them. They were to take me to the docks in a few days' time. I meant only to save you from the horrors that haunt my dreams. Horrors I can't even begin to define."

Enhenduana raised her head to meet Karathas' eyes with her own.

"I still wish to flee, my lord, but if there is anything I can do before I escape, I would be honored to help. Please don't tell your father--he'd have my head, I think."
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Unread 27th of July, 2010, 12:54
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Enheduana's words surprised Karathas. Here he'd thought she would simply play dumb, but she had come out saying so much. He had to rethink what he'd meant to say.

"My father? Have your head? I doubt it." Karathas said reassuringly, and not knowing exactly why, he knelt on one knee so that he was level with her eyes.

"He was the one who told me I needed to find you. He thinks you're a very important woman, someone who could mean the difference between Waystone falling or standing in the days to come."

Karathas lay his hand upon hers. "This Raziel, he hunts you and a Shelder woman named Sawrina, who is here, tonight, come across the Green Sea on the Hakken fleet with the sole purpose of finding a teacher. Someone she says can reveal things to her about the Namer."

Karathas followed Enheduana's reaction closely. "Raziel - a madman and a murderer - named you and Sawrina as heretics, but Sawrina of her own volition has admitted her desire to learn of this forbidden art. Had she not admitted such I might have dismissed the report of Raziel's rhetoric as nothing more than a lunatic's ravings, but now, I have to wonder if there is not something to his words. He named Sawrina correctly as a heretic, and he named you..."

He let the words trail off, not wanting to speak them. He felt a pang in his heart, and realized he wanted this girl to have an ironclad excuse. Something that would absolve her of all suspicion.
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  #89  
Unread 7th of August, 2010, 11:35
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Enhenduana gave the prince a pained look.

"Milord, I'm afraid I cannot stay. I know in my heart that if I remain here, Waystone will be razed to the ground and I will die. Raziel is probably the first of many horrors that will come to the surface in search of me. I don't know how or why, but I have visions of this thing. My thoughts influence causation around me. I need to flee, I need to find out what I am, or if I'm going simply going mad. My mind has power, and insanity would affect more than my own self," she said, letting her gaze fall to her folded hands.

"In the meantime, Waystone needs to be safe. The Realm needs to be safe. It won't be so long as I am here, and we're completely in the dark as to what I am or what is coming for us," she continued, looking Layhiri and Karathas in the eyes.

"I have to go, and soon. With or without your help, Prince, I have to flee. First a Hakken assault, then Raziel, and now I hear that the monks of the coastal lighthouses are not responding to any attempts to contact them. I feel the world crumbling around me. Please, Prince, help me escape this place. You have my word that I will return when I can. When it's safe. When I know."

Enhenduana stood up and clasped Karathas' hands in her own. Pleading emerald eyes stared up at you.

"Please."

***

Iraj and Sarwina--what are you doing and where?
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Unread 7th of August, 2010, 23:54
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Iraj had given orders to those who he know found to be his subordinates. He gave orders to prepare for the siege, and made sure that every third man was armed with a bow or crossbow and that they understood that Raziel was to be shot on sight.

He then led Sawrina deeper into the unused portion of the keep, a part that lay undisturbed. His eyes were fixed on the ground, looking for where dust may have been disturbed. In his left hand, he held a torch outstretched as these areas were unlit and dim. His right hand bore his naked blade.
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Unread 8th of August, 2010, 07:18
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Sawrina followed the captain through the corridors, losing track of her position as they turned right, then left, then straight and left again, and on and on... She wouldn't know how to make her way in this maze even if she thought she could escape. Just one more problem to add to the ever growing heap.

The heroines of the stories she'd read as a child never seemed to have it this hard. The princess would one day choose to disguise herself as a commoner and go on a great journey, and reveal herself at just the right moment to save the day. Nobody suspected her, nobody questioned her motives, nobody put her under the charge of some man!

Of course, she'd never believed in those stories. Not really. But a part of her, the part that had told her to set on this journey in the first place, the part that made her reveal herself as royalty to the prince, and wouldn't ever shut up; that part of her mind drew its inspiration from the legendary heroines of her storybooks.

What would those heroines do now? Most would overpower their foreign guard in a great display of heroism and power. She was ashamed to admit it, but if this guard was anything like that 'Raziel', he would be too strong and trained for her to best. Others would outsmart the guard, and get his weapon away from him, lure him away, or get him to do their bidding. Much as she was sure that she was the mental superior of any man, and certainly of a common foreign soldier, this man seemed too driven and loyal to do anything but follow the orders of his liege to the the letter. *sigh*

The classic tactic would be to charm him. She was certainly attractive enough, and so was the guard, in his rugged way. But she knew that men of other lands took the lead in romantic relationships. How barbaric! Normal wooing would not work here.

Sawrina recalled the foreign adventure stories she'd read in secret as a child. She gained a perverse sense of joy in reading about the warrior princes and the passive damsels they'd rescue. A very small part of Sawrina, one she'd never admit to, dreamed to that damsel in distress. And an equally small part of her (though one she didn't completely shut out) wanted to be the evil seductress, who forced the hero to do her bidding. Maybe she could become that seductress now? Charm this guard the foreigners' way and escape with his help?

No. She'd listened to the fairy tales in her mind for too long, and she was sick of them getting her into trouble. She would follow this guard, due her duties as a healer, and then attempt to secure her freedom from the prince through supplication and bargaining. She had little hope of escaping in this way, but it would be better than making matters worse. It was time for her to live in the real world and face the consequences of her childish actions.

"Captain, what are you looking for? Is it something I could help with?" Her voice was laden with respect now, and no longer the cold tone she'd directed at him earlier.

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Unread 8th of August, 2010, 07:25
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Iraj sighed then almost wished he hadn't. He hadn't chosen to be saddled with this woman, and he was rather sure that she would just as soon have someone of better birth than his own to be her chaperon.

"Unless you think you can do something to find Raziel, then the best you can do is keep your ears and eyes open. If I were trying to hide in this keep and avoid the guards this is the place I would choose to come to. I am hoping to find some trace of Raziel's passage." Iraj's voice didn't rise above a whisper. "I'd also prefer for him not to know that are looking for him."
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Unread 8th of August, 2010, 07:44
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Raziel's name sent a chill up Sawrina's spine. His attack had frightened her to the very core, more than any image the Namer had ever shown her (which weren't many, to her dismay). If she could do anything help destroy that vicious killer, she would.

Sawrina's responded with a nod, but then remembered that he couldn't see that from in front of her. She whispered back, "Understood," and joined Iraj in his search. She recalled the foul aura of Raziel's sword, his sickly appearance, his terrifying voices. There was magic at work around him, so perhaps she would be better placed to aid in the search with her arcane sense rather than her mundane ones. She expanded her mind, searching for traces of magic around her, as far as she could reach.
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Unread 8th of August, 2010, 09:20
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The Prince listened to her words thoughtfully, weighing what she said over in his mind.

"You are not insane, Lady Enheduana," he answered when she first raised that point. "Only a sane person worries about the infirmity of their own mind."

He stopped as she continued, explaining her urge to get away from Waystone and the Realm itself, acting as though she were the reason for all the troubles here.

"My lady," he said gently when she had finished, resting his hand calmingly on her shoulder, "Even if you were the cause of all that is going wrong here - an unlikely assumption to make I would add - the time to run is already past. The Hakken are already upon us. They have crossed the many leagues of the Green Sea and shall arrive here within a matter of days. No flight from here will stop their advance, and their numbers are vast. If you truly care for Waystone and the Realm, then I must tell you that running will not save either.

"I believe our only chance to stop them lies with whatever unknown talents that you possess, and I must plead with you just as strongly to stay, if only to help turn away these enemies that haunt us. And if we win the day together, I swear on the emblem of my household, and upon the sigils of the Sun and Moon, I shall do everything in my power to help you with your condition - whether it be an armed escort to safeguard you, access to the loremasters of the realm, my personal assistance, whatever you would require and more than you could ever have were you to flee into the unknown..."

Karathas, knelt on one knee before the beautiful woman, imploring her. Somewhere, dimly in the back of his mind, a more logical and calculating part of him was shouting to be heard, but Karathas was now acting out of an unknown desire to help and care for Enheduana, above all else, save perhaps Waystone. It was his duty to look after the Keep, but it was his desire to look after this woman - heretic or no - and he knew now that he must convince her to stay, at least until the present danger to Waystone was over. After that, he knew he would do as he had promised he would - even if his father and all the priests of the realm clamored for her heretical blood.

"These visions you say you are having - I doubt they make promises for your safety. I doubt that whatever haunts you shall cease to do so when you leave here. You are not the only person whose world is crumbling, Enheduana. An army bent on Waystone's destruction stands before us and I feel - no, I know that without your aid, this place, my home, your home, our Realm, will fall. To what then would you return? A pile of rock and ash where once stood the pride of the Sun itself.

"You have power within you, Enheduana. A power that can be used for good. A power that my father knows and I believe can stop the Hakken, at least long enough for word to be sent and help to arrive. Then when it is safe, I promise not to rest until the spirits that trouble you are vanquished.

"Please, Duana. We need you. I need you."
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