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  1. Previously... The Architect's Ascension: Part IV Arama sprinted through the windy passages, narrow alleys, and cobbled streets of vast Illaryian. Then she jumped onto a roof and caught sight of Ristoro hurrying through the thoroughfare far ahead. She rushed on across the roofs, leaping the gaps, landing with only a soft thud, her cloak floating out behind her. Arama rushed on across the roofs, leaping the gaps, landing with only a soft thud, her cloak floating out behind her. Suddenly Ristoro heard something above him. He looked up and he saw a shadow watching him coolly from the roofs far above. Now he was even more afraid of the ragazza who had followed him so quickly and found him without erring far in the depths of the greatest city in the realm. He looked up and he saw a shadow watching him coolly from the roofs far above. He couldn’t outrun her, and he knew he didn’t stand a chance in a fight—he didn’t want to kill her anyway! What could he do? There was a bridge. At least Ristoro knew how to swim! He threw off his sword and sprung over the side, landing in the canal below with a splash. Arama knew the canals like the back of her hand. With one deep breath she plunged off the rooftop, tucking her dagger in her sleeve. The canal here was deep and narrow. Arama landed on the other side of the bridge, pitching far below the depths of the water. She spread out her arms to slow her fall. In another second Arama had Ristoro’s doublet in her hand. She lifted him up against the wall on the side of the canal, but she had to let him go to get a breath of air. Ristoro scrambled up onto the cobblestones, but now he was in a cortile with only one entrance, where Arama De Cioto now stood. Ristoro Moccenigo shook in an almost unreasonable fear. Now he was in a cortile with only one entrance, where Arama De Cioto now stood. “Cieli! Just get it over with!” he screamed, petrified. "Just get it over with!" Ristoro screamed. “Stolto, does it look like I have a blade in my hand?” Arama answered with affected dryness, showing her outstretched and empty palms to him. “Così,” Ristoro started nervously. “You aren’t here to seppellire a blade in me?” “No,” she said sweetly. “I just want you to talk. Why didn’t you answer the question Luca asked you?” “You want to kill my fratello and not me?” Ristoro asked, unable to swallow his saliva. For reply, Arama’s eyes glittered. “It’s no use, there’s no point! Ilazio already told the De Fioris that–” “I know,” Arama said, a perturbed glimmer passing across her face. She hadn’t really known that. So it really was too late. She grit her teeth. They just had to ride it out. It sounded like a very dangerous storm. It was time to be brash and reckless. “Vedo, you probably know what Ilazio wants to do,” Ristoro said in a very low voice. “He’ll kill you and il nostro caro Rego!” he warned. “Let him do it,” Arama replied brazenly. “If he kills me it wouldn't matter. But he can’t prove anything he says.” “You, like Signore di Carlo, underestimate mio brother. I’ve seen his plans and correspondences, De Cioto!” “It doesn’t matter what he knows,” Arama smiled thoughtfully, “it matters what he can show, what he can get people to believe. It's not the first time he’s spread false rumors. He would never live another day if he assassinated the Rego.” Arama looked defiantly at the waters of the canal behind her. “Then, I believe,” Ristoro answered, “he will kill you.” A sharp hiss echoed throughout il cortile. Both Ristoro and Arama were caught off guard. They both paused, without further discussion, each searching the dim backstreet courtyard for signs of any intruder. Arama let her knife slip down into her palm again. Then all of a sudden, a shadowy figure, contrasted by a drawn sword with golden hilt engravings, leapt from a window in the stone building behind them, landing beside Ristoro who immediately began to back away. A shadowy figure, contrasted by a drawn sword with golden hilt engravings, leapt from a window in the stone building behind them. The shadowy figure pushed back his hood. Ilazio Moccenigo had heard every last word. .-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. “Buona serata,” I greeted gruffly, my sword pointed at the two traitors. One had succeeded before in obstructing my plans, but questa notte, I would ensure that they both failed. I began moving towards them, then stopped as I saw a flash of metal. Arama drew a hidden dagger from within her clothes. “Certo, buona serata!” Arama had drawn a hidden dagger from within her clothes, but she didn’t stand a chance against my long, sharp blade. Then, when Ristoro tossed her his sword from the bridge where he had left it, although she caught it deftly in the air with her other hand, I could tell that she was more accustomed to fighting come una assassina rather than a proper duelist. Ristoro tossed her his sword from the bridge where he had left it. Her arms seemed to be shaking slightly, and her footwork was like a tigress ready to pounce upon her foe from behind, not from ahead. But she was light and agile, and playing right into her strengths, Arama ran for it, quickly scaling the walls of il cortile until she reached the roof above. In return, I gave chase. She was light and agile. I could hear Arama’s breath from above me as she silenziosamente prepared to leap across to the nearest roof. She would never make it. “Don’t!” I yelled from the roof below her feet which I was quickly pulling myself up onto. “What do you care if I do?” Arama murmured in reply, but before she got a chance to, I grabbed one of her moving feet, rolling onto the roof beside her. Arama was about to jump to the other side of the street. Arama threw herself down beside me and I spun out of the way just in time. I felt her knife sound against the terracotta altana as it dug deep into the spot where my chest had been a moment before. Her dagger was stuck there now. Arama swept her feet at me as I leapt up and took a better stance upon the roof, but she was too far away. She had to hold up her sword to me. I had the advantage now, but I was still waiting for something unexpected. So far, only I have delivered soprese. Arama stood on the defensive, frustration written on her visage. But I wouldn’t commit. “You want me dead,” I smiled at her eagerly, “not the other way around.” “I wanted to get out of here,” Arama whispered sulkily, pulling her mask below her mouth to breathe, “you wouldn’t let me get away. So if you don’t want me dead, climb down, or let me jump.” “Letting you make that jump? Not if I don’t want you dead. But maybe I do, so go ahead.” Arama made a gesture. “But I’m not putting away my sword. Do you think I am some stolto like my brother, to just let you kill me?” Arama laughed. “Tell me again why you’re mad at me?” she asked. “You killed my father,” I hissed, “and your Rego will pay, just like you, stupida girl. You think life is nothing? You take your own and others pretty carelessly.” “Don’t become careless with yours,” the girl replied, sweeping at me at last with the edge of her sword. Our blades met with my parry and swift counterstrike. Before Arama could recover, I struck out again, the force behind my blade driving her back along the steep roofline. We drove quietly back and forth at each other, our swords ringing through the otherwise silent night. With efficiency, I contrived to drive her back with each of our moves, using forces similar to those which balanced a crane in my father’s constructions to turn everything to my advantage. Arama’s strikes became more wild and her defense mere seconds from la morte. She was still smiling though. Infine! There was a gap, a risky manovra with ricche ricompense. I lunged, hoping my feet would not slip on a loose tile, my glittering sword striking true. Time seemed to slow. A shuddered breath escaped the lips of mia avversaria. I did not wait to see my vittoria. Quickly, I retracted my blade and swung, using shear impact to dislodge the sword from her clammy hands. Then I mercilessly shoved her off the narrow roofline while she looked down at the ever growing blood stains on her fancy clothes. My sword had gone through the chainmail that she wore beneath her dress. Only one image clouded my thoughts, the image of her shocked, and forse scared, expression followed with ragged breaths and dripping blood, an image branded into me. Ristoro backed away from the crumpled, limp form that ended on the cobblestones below. “Ilazio?” he said, his voice filled with discomfort and uncertainty. He shuddered again as I dropped to the cobbled streets below, this time with my gold-inlaid sword sheathed. Mio fratello looked confused, his eyes going back and forth between my demented visage and the bleeding corpse that was Arama di Athena De Cioto. Finally making up his mind, he darted for l’ingresso del cortile. I simply turned and watched as he scurried away. My attention then shifted back to the velvet liquid running freely through the cracks in the cobbles. More blood would flow, abbastanza presto. I unsheathed my sword slowly, letting its ring echo, while I walked over to the shuddering figure, covered in her own blood. No, not quite a corpse yet. The fall had only been about a story, and she knew how to land, although she must have been very bruised. My sword had only pierced her side, not her heart. Not yet. “I'm not afraid of you,” Arama whispered, looking up at me kindly, her breath increasing in pace and raggedness as I descended upon her like a ravenous Mitgardian wolf. I stood over her, the tip of my blade less than a millimeter above her beating heart. The girl still struggled like wounded prey, trying to back away. Maybe she did have another dagger, but she couldn’t use it now. She was dizzy and sick. Arama could barely lift her head, she was so weak. My sword followed, forcing her to concede. Arama let herself drop onto the stones, looking around, to make sure that I was the only one with her. She saw through a black haze, my sword hanging above her. Her last knife dropped from her hand. “Tell Luca I love him,” she said, whispering, wincing and hiding her face behind her arm. I craved that! I was overjoyed to hear it, my entire case proven by its denier! In my mind her guilt was sealed now. But… still. My heart rate increased, breaths ragged as the maledetta below me. Soon, every rag of the vendetta I wanted would be mine! I roughly grasped Arama and bent my sword down to her throat, prepared to strike home. Suddenly her unusually neat hair, wandering in wisps below her half drawn hood, was the same hue as Aurelia’s. I shook my head, scowling fiercely—this was not the time for doubts. Did my padre look this way before di incontrare la morte? I must, I must kill her! As I looked down at her, the image flashed again, then images of mio papà coursed through me. “Go ahead, I guess it was always coming to this,” Arama shrugged, tears falling down upon her stomach and mixing with sangue. I lifted my sword arm up once again, this time to kill! I made a bloodthirsty roar—but then I immediately dropped my blade to the blood-stained pavement. “Bene! I can’t,” I said at last through ragged breath. I staggered away from Arama. “This isn’t what I wanted.” “Che cosa?” she asked meekly. Her arm lowered from her face, and she looked at me with a tired, scared and confused question in her eyes. “I saw him, mio padre in my mind. Revenge won’t bring him back from la morte. It’s only a path of destruction… per tutti!” I said, facing away from the girl who had almost become a corpse. My breath was still coming rapidly, my heartbeats deafening every other sound. I was on the verge of spinning round, of doing it, and of taking my own destruction too if I had to! But I forced myself to speak, and mio voce came from a different person, a body, not a mind. “Arama, I just realized… what you did was horrible, but if I killed you now, just for vengeance, to satisfy myself… that would be horrible too!” I cried. I faced Arama De Cioto again and walked over to her, leaning in close to her teary face, where she had placed her palm and left a stain of blood. Then I whispered into her ear, pleading with her even though she was completely in my power, “Just take my forgiveness and go!” “I’ll love you for this,” Arama replied with a sudden merry feeling waving over her body. She pushed me away from her with her arm and closed her eyes, taking in a rasping breath. That confused me. She loved Luca di Carli! Would she betray him this easily? Is that what she meant? Maybe she just used the word carelessly… or maybe Luca was just like Prince Råiden to her. Would she betray him because I let her live even though it was my deepest desire to slit her very throat, simply because I couldn’t, I really couldn’t, kill her? She pushed herself off the stonework, one hand stopping her blood from flowing too freely, supporting herself on the wall with her other hand. I could tell her whole body was jarred by her fall. Maybe she had some broken bones. She still might die—was it crueler to leave her here than to run my sword through her side again? “No, wait, Arama,” something inside of me twisted, “I… I can’t let you go like this. Non c’è modo…” She looked at me with confusion in her eyes. “Why not?” she asked doubtfully. “You might die before you found help. That would just be more cruelty,” I said, looking boldly at her, as frankly as I could, although something rebelled in my stomach. “I never wanted to be cruel or evil! I can’t bear death, Arama. I don’t really want to return murder for murder.” I hung my head, my fists clenching and unclenching convulsively. Arama looked at me blankly. “Che bene,” she murmured. “I thought you wanted to kill me.” “I did.” .-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. Arama’s head throbbed profusely. She reached underneath the uncomfortable blankets placed on top of her and winced as she located the wound. So it had happened in verità, it wasn’t a dream. She hurt all over anyway, so it wasn’t like a surprise. Arama growled at the pain. He had told her, “You might die before you get help. That would just be but more cruelty,” before helping her to a farmacista. “You’re really thinking this through,” she had almost retorted. But she couldn’t understand what he was thinking. How could anyone change at such a moment? Maybe after you killed someone, then you might repent. But this was really weird. Although Ilazio had saved her life, and been very emotional about it too, now he seemed rather cold to her. She had made a few attempts at light conversazione to distract herself from her pain, pain that the brooding man sitting on the stool opposite her bed had caused and didn’t seem to care that she was suffering, and he had all but ignored her. How could he care for her all of the sudden? To help save her life, to give her food and water, and even do his best to make her comfortable. Arama tried to see through the man. She had met one or two pacifisti before, tame people, but she had never heard their stories. Was this how it happened? She didn't understand. These thoughts only made the throbbing worse. Arama’s head sagged back against the soft pillow, darkness enclosing her as her tired eyelids fluttered and then shut. Her breath came normally now. “Grazie,” she muttered in her sleep. “Molto grazie.” .-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.
  2. You don't have to save the world to be a hero. Finding the Path follows the journey of a man as he attempts to avenge his mother's death. But when it comes time to fulfill his goal, he is faced with a choice: to do what is right, or what is easy... I hope you enjoy the film! Comments and constructive criticism are more than welcome!
  3. After returning to the Citadel of the Moon with the body of Aran-Salath, Kha and Saladus have nothing left. Saladus dons the Black and becomes "The Black Wind", and tradition of the Aridesti Elves when a loved one meets a foul end. His sole purpose now is to find vengeance for his lost wife. After finding the hideout of The Hand at the Kaliphlin/Nocturnus border, Kha tries to keep up with Saladus as he sweeps over the river to find his sweet vengeance. "The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. "-V Now, on to find Victor.... Obviously, this was heavily inspired by DC's Twilight of the Gods. Hopefully, it has enough of its own to stand out in its own right.