Rough Draft: “The Last Leaf Falls”

The Last Leaf Falls (Pagan’s Blood Universe)

Pagan’s Blood Universe

APPENDIX I: Character Sheet

1. Countess Toni de Medici-Fecchiera, Countess of Isil and Supreme Praetor of the Marduk Order Magistrate:

Calendar Age: born in 1387 of the Second Age she underwent Marduk Initiation at age 22, her real age is closer to 800, but still appears to be 22

You!! YOU BROUGHT HER HERE, YOU FOUL TRAITOR!! I thought you loved me, for a second, I even felt a bit guilty for putting on that act, given how you saved up all of your money for me, but now I can read you like a book…You bring the White Order to MY CITY to arrest me, and you play with my heart like it’s a toy, shattering it to bloody ribbons…It’s times like this that make me want to fuck everyone in Gaia until they bleed to drown my sorrows…YOU ARE BENEATH ALL MERCY OR PITY!! YOU WILL DIE AND EAT SHIT WITH THE ROACHES!! I COMMAND HERE!! I’LL SLAUGHTER THIS WHOLE CITY OF 35 MILLION MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN, AND LAUGH WHILE THEY DIE!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAHAHAAAAAAAA!!!!”

Countess Fecchiera, upon realizing that her “lover,” whom she planned to kill anyway, double-crossed her in her secret sacrificial altar to the blood-god Marduk. She draws her sword and proceeds to vacuum all the air out of the room with a screaming suction spell into her sword, and then creates a massive shock-wave, sending everyone suffocating and flying backwards into the walls, except Sage Celeste and her White Order Mages, who block the spell.

She is 7 feet, 5 inches tall, but looks a good bit taller than she actually is because of her outfit. Her face is chalk-white because of 4 layers of makeup, as well as thick black eyeshadow that forms the Eye of Ra symbol around her eyes, one is green, the other is blue; she has her pupils dilated specifically to look like mako shark eyes, like blue and green iridescent lumps of coal. The blank, empty expression on her face never changes, no matter what her mood is when she was in combat form, the Marduk Energy coursing through her veins. Her hair is brown, but styled like a Qing Dynasty empress, with diamond, platinum and gold-encrusted hairpieces that kept her hair in 6 pigtails, three on each side of her head, each covered in diamond, platinum and gold-encrusted armor that also kept the braid from becoming frizzy; the adornments made her hair look like insect legs, especially when she walked, causing the 6 pigtails to move like insect legs. She also had a crown made out of solid crystal, in shape of a three-headed crane with six wings on her head, adding 2 feet to her height, and behind that, a huge, peacock-fan headdress that changed color based on her mood, it was the only way to tell her emotions, as she had become so powerful with the ancient magic of Marduk that she was able to disable her physical reactions to emotion if she so desired. The peacock feather eyes changed expression and color in place of her real ones; she had a huge feather ruff around her neck made of Count Raggi’s Bird of Paradise plumes as a scarf, with pennants and silky cloth scarves that resembled the Standard Winged and Twelve-Wired Birds of Paradise plumage at the same time, and a train-like veil and cape made of Chinese silk dyed with human blood. Her dress was woven from spider silk infused with silkworm fibers, and woven on a microscopic level so that every hem of the dress was in the shape of an organism, every known organism on Earth. Covering the dress were hundreds of iridescent precious stones, each one reflecting light in such a way that viewed from a certain angle, it made her look almost invisible, just a shimmering outline of her figure was barely seen. The dress itself was red and black, with huge, yellow eyespots in the black parts of the dress and black eyespots in the red parts of the dress that seemed to blink when sunlight hit it at certain angles or shine with an ethereal, calming glow when the moonlight hit it at night. The whole dress shined an eerie, fluorescent purple in ultraviolet light, and had large roaring dragon designs embroidered on it, each with a microscopic picture of an organism consisting of each individual hem. The dress was enormous and supported by the bones of her Marduk ritual sacrifice victims, much like whalebones were used to make a corset. The part of the dress that covered her torso and chest was the most heavily decorated, with huge dragonfly wings made of woven yarn and glittered with sea salt dust and sand coming out of her back, these were folded under her cape and veil and could be spread at will, even though Toni can’t fly. Her necklace was more like an Egyptian queen’s brooch, made of solid gold with a huge sapphire in the center, just visible under the bird-of-paradise feather scarves. Her gloves, lacy white dress gloves that were veiled by delicate, red silken sleeves from her dress, each had a 56-karat gemstone covering each one of her fingernails; sharpened into a dagger-like claw, these gemstone gauntlet gloves were used to carve enemies like a tiger slashing its prey, and the rest of the glove surface were covered in razor-sharp, solid diamond blades that could slice through almost any surface. She also wore a tiara of autumn leaves on her head, on the crown of the three-headed crane helmet, whose three heads are arranged in such a way that they defy the Euclidean geometric form, therefore making her dress impossible to create without immense, physics-bending telekinetic attacks. Her shoes were huge black-velvet Gothic Lolita platform shoes, with razor-sharp dagger-high heels, but these were not visible under her huge dress. She had various ritual dresses, and each one was an equally-elaborate Elegant Gothic Aristocracy dress, so elaborate that Toni needed to use her physics-bending powers to make them appear just right. She shows no empathy at all to her opponents, and takes pleasure in making her victims suffer as much as possible before they die…painfully.

The Italian Peninsula was considered to be cradle of Western civilization, and therefore, has a very large population of Marduk practitioners, often called “vampires” by the uninitiated, they are far more sophisticated and cultured than most typical people, and are far from mindless monsters. To call a Marduk Sage a “vampire” is taken as the same thing as calling a black man a “nigger.” One of the most attractive and colorful members of the global Marduk Order, a secret cult of sorcerers that worship the ancient blood-god Marduk and directly oppose the White Order of Geldern Abbey, and gain their magic and immortality through consuming, bathing in and channeling energies found in human blood to harness the power of the universe itself, is an Isil socialite named Toni Medici-Fecchiera. To the untrained eye, she looks like a typical, modern, high-class beauty on the vertical streets of Minas Isil; she has long, silky black hair, stunning green eyes, pale blue eyes and a long, skin-tight black dress with a diamond necklace and two curious-looking earrings that resemble solar helixes, she often has elegantly-styled black eye makeup and a gentle, soft, warm, sweet gaze, and beautiful, crimson-red lipstick. Her voice is sweet and relaxing to hear, however, she is best known for her unusually large breasts, which she claims are real, but most people doubt it. She has a 6’3” figure that could not look more perfect. Outwardly, she seemed to have everything to offer, money, beauty, intelligence and creativity, as well as independence and determination and was an inspiration to everyone who met her. This, however, was just what the Marduk sages referred to as the “public shape,” to conceal their true identity. Nobody, save other Marduk sages, will know that “Toni” is really Countess Toni de Medici-Fecchiera, the Arch-Sage of Isil and the 5th Line of the Phantasmagoria-Haidnur Hird, one of the most revered and feared Marduk Sage hirds, or clans, in the world. Her ritual gown is so elaborate and complicated that it seems to defy the laws of Euclidean geometry, only possible because of Toni’s immense, physics-bending telekinesis that is constantly radiating electromagnetic pulse signals from her brain, whose activity reaches close to 320,000 units; she cannot be around anything electronic without it frying completely. Her psychic attacks are so powerful that they can level a city with a minimum of effort. Toni is perhaps the most terrifying thing on the face of the Earth, and a good reason why you should never go into a tavern on the wrong side of a town you’ve never been to, especially if a stunning young Italian woman approaches you and tries to flirt. People say if you want to find her, look for the nearest tavern or lying topless on a white-sand beach in the Mediterranean, with the crowd of young men bringing her everything she wants like a bunch of brainwashed toadies, which is exactly what she’s doing, simply being around her for an extended period of time is corrupting to the brain. Rather than going over the top, she takes a carefree, laid-back, lap-of-luxury approach to everything she does, but at the same time, coldly, calmly, coolly and emotionlessly, methodically and diabolically plots her enemies’ demise. She had a particular penchant for taking women’s unborn babies, she’ll often disguise herself as a lost young woman whose vehicle breaks down, and comes into the house of a pregnant woman to “use the phone,” or some other form of communication, to call authorities. Needless to say, she does not need to use the phone, and she keeps calmly engineering situations where she can stay at the house for longer…until she gets the mother and her unborn baby. She wants that baby, she really, really does. She does not let her Marduk sorcery powers, irrational thought or desire get in the way of what needs to be done to get the baby. She wants it, she feels it belongs to her, so she takes it, and she truly believes that the baby is hers, like a sick motherly instinct taken to the extreme, for her own childhood was so wracked with horror and torment before she became an immortal sorceress with horrific body and mental distortion powers, known as Phantasmagoria, that she only wants to give the baby a loving, motherly caring home…unfortunately, her own duties to Marduk, the Blood Monarch, and the need to kill and consume infant blood prevents her from ever being a safe mother, so therefore her insanity perpetuates as a result of her own power and desire. But still, she never lets this tortured psyche get in the way of her goals in government or in finding her victims…until she gets her victim right where she wants it, that is.

Countess Medici, is in one word, insane. Toni is not content with rival Baronian Wewelsburg Hird Grand Master Eisner von Richtofen’s vision of an Assyrian-Baronian Gaia and has repeatedly stated that she wanted a complete, pan-Gaia empire on the scale of the Supreme Pontifex, but Richtofen could not see beyond the Germanic/Magyar lands of Baronia-Felix and Isil. Medici, despite her elegance and beauty; she was 6 feet, 3 inches tall, wore stunning outfits and had long, silky black hair, pale, alabaster skin and haunting green eyes, was one of the most feared individuals in Gaia. Most other Assyrian sages who knew her personally were in conclusion that she was gizquya, or very “gifted,” to say the least, she knew things that no living person could possibly know, such as exactly how many head cabbages were stolen from Great Gardens in Geldern Abbey in the Second Age, and doctors who measured her brainwave scans found that her REM sleep activity was near 190,000 units, while her active function was close to 320,000 units. Leonardo Da Vinci’s activity was only at 765 units, and a level of 400 units was considered “genius.” Even in the modern era, doctors were still clueless as to how Toni wasn’t killed by her own brain function levels or even managed to communicate and think in ways that typical human beings could even remotely comprehend. Unfortunately for those who had to deal with her, she appeared to have a severe form of psychosis that caused her to fit every level of insanity imaginable, artistic insanity, because her 3-story, 25,000-square foot penthouse apartment in Minas Isil, was decorated with her own original bizarre, abstract, surrealist, often volkisch art that looked like what would result from Salvador Dali or Freda Kahlo taking a hit of acid and trying to mix a Picasso painting and one of their works together while high. They had a common theme, either depicting a form of macabre liberation, ancient European paganism that overlapped with Nazi symbolism in many cases a bittersweet message about the brevity and fleetingness of life or some sort of tormented scene, such as the picture of two murdered lovers lying on the streets of a city with a crowd of faceless people walking past, each with their shadows standing above their bloodied corpses, with the woman’s shadow in a contorted yet seemingly liberated, but disturbingly unnatural pose, and the young man’s shadow cruelly rejecting the tormented shadow’s pleas for acceptance; the blood on their bodies was arranged into words written in Latin: “Where is my love? Where is my hope? Where is my reason to live?!” Another painting showed a little girl clenching her face in her hands while riding a lonely swing set in the middle of an abandoned city, with a shadowy stranger standing behind her, another showed a young man walking along railroad tracks in autumn, surrounded by the reds, browns, oranges and yellows of the countless autumn leaves falling around him, he walks alone, not knowing where he is headed, symbolizing that the only certainties in life are death, loneliness and uncertainty, therefore, life is completely meaningless, you’re going to die anyway, so what does it matter? Like the autumn leaves that blanket the tracks, people are shining bright one day, and decrepit and old the next…Life is a beautiful lie, death is an ugly truth. One other painting shows a screaming young woman with scars on her bare legs reading a book, but the words on the book fall off the pages like a shower of black ashes, and these ashes transform into lice and ticks, which crawl up her legs in their thousands. Also, pictures of a woman carving an image of birds flying out of a cage onto her arms with a knife, as well as some pictures that had no meaning at all, such as headless chicken being chased by a tailless rat, as well as some original extremist abstract paintings, plus several volkisch paintings by the artists Hipper and Fitche, late Second Age Baronian and Isil painters who focused on art that reflected ancient, pre-Seven Kingdom Gaia culture as an expression of nationalism and pride, as well as a collection of weapons, specifically ones that were used to torture and kill children throughout history, old dictatorial flags, statues of sinister, robed figures and a gigantic Assyrian rug and Solar Helix coat of arms on the wall, plus the lighting in the house that made the place appear as if it were in perpetual dusk, would only appeal to someone who is completely insane. She was also intellectually insane, given that her IQ and brain function levels are so high, that a lot of her psychotic actions may seem abrupt and without any rhyme or reason, much like someone with schizophrenia, but some doctors who studied her case suggested that due to brainwave scans and flash-cloning samples, the very height of her IQ scores make her appear to the layman as insane, simply because the rest of the world is too simple, judgmental and narrow-minded to understand just how fast and how advanced her brain is. She is only “crazy” because of society’s judgmental stupidity and the filthy, pop-culture Fascist dregs such as the rich girls living in places like Riverden and Minas Isil trying to set an unrealistic standard for “prosperity” and “beauty.” She uses her intellect and her own fortune to directly oppose that culture through the power of science and intellectual pursuits, as well as incorporating her obsession with macabre, distorted art into her scientific pursuits as well; she’d pay people in Europe to kidnap young, rich women travelling abroad and kill them, and bring their corpses back to her penthouse apartment for experimentation. As a Marduk Sage, Toni had a religious fascination with blood, not just for the DNA and sampling properties of it, but also in a much more metaphysical sense and as the source of her power. One of her greatest projects includes being able to cheat death by using “God Machines”; this is possible, but illegal under most circumstances, Toni creates backups of her mind on machine disks, so that even if she can no longer maintain the body she’ s lived in for 800 years, she will simply be “reborn” in an alchemy-created body, with her mind and personality as a digitized set of data, but also uses bizarre ways of justifying her acts on an intellectual level, such as using mathematical puzzles to fool police forces, and using math to lead detectives to conclusions that will inevitably get them killed, just because Toni thinks that it’s a joke. The third domain of insanity, humorous insanity, is represented here. Many of Toni’s attacks on people in Europe are so twisted and sinister because she sees it as a joke, a gigantic game where she and the police are opponents trying to outplay each other, not enemies, and this type of crime is nothing but a game, a trick, and a joke in “good fun;” the drive behind this mentality is the horrific torment Toni suffered as a little girl in the 1380s, with her abusive oligarch father in Italy selling her into prostitution as a teenager to cover a bad deal as collateral with another noble family, not to mention beating her and locking her in a dark, dank closet full of weapons at age 6 for 3 days. She later escaped from slavery and brutally slaughtered her abusive masters, as well as her horrendous father and mother, who lived in a dungeon for the mentally ill. Since her escape, she has committed crimes ranging from killing people and turning their bodies into marionettes, using them as a puppet show, torturing and cannibalizing little girls and young women, turning their blood into wine and using her huge master bathroom on the third floor of her apartment as a makeshift torture chamber, holding fake T.V. show competitions just to kill the contestants one by one, the “prize,” for the winner is that they are allowed to go free, only to have Toni kill them anyway because she was “just kidding, as usual.” The fourth domain of insanity, verbal insanity, is also very much apparent here, every single word that comes out of her mouth seems to have some kind of dual meaning to it, in one particular speech to the citizens of Mythar Square in Minas Isil in August of 2013 A.D:

“So simple, yet so complicated, so everlasting, yet so fragile, so easily broken, but so easily built, and so easy to speak, yet so easy to misrepresent…anyone who has lived on this planet, young or old, whether they know it or not, is aware, however subconsciously, of the four properties of which I speak. The first of which, life, in the Earthly definition, consists of amino acids, deoxyribonucleic acid and counts the cell as its basic unit of organization. Therefore, in the purest, biological sense, life is a simple affair, as soon as an organism is born, it is alone, it is small, it is feeble, unless it can adapt, it will die out. Darwin’s theorem of evolution, the first word “theorem” intentionally changed to state that Darwinian logic is proven, it is only because the individuals who are told by the Gestalt that their outdated traditional Christian dogmas are the only, absolute truth. Life is simple, yes, but it is not that simple. What if I were to tell you people that everything you know is wrong? Everything, right down to the very Platonic and Aristotelian logic that the Gestalt has been drilling into your heads from the first breath you take when you slither from your mother’s gaping cervix, is distorted by the Gestalt Field, the displaced, churned, distorted, chaotic and tormented storm of ideologies created by the development of society over the millennia of human existence, displaced by the same methodology as Einstein’s theory of relativity or a ship at sea, is a cyclical, self-destructive byproduct of societal advancement. Every society in history, from the Altea, to the Feleen, to the Kalmar Union and the current Seven Kingdoms, creates its own Gestalt Field, directly proportionate to the weight the society occupies on the global stage. As the society grows, so does the Gestalt Field around it, until the society begins to corrode from prolonged exposure to the ideology that created it, much analogous to the way a ship will rust and rot away in water, even though ships are built for open sea. This eventual corrosion is what the layman would call death and me likewise. Death is nothing supernatural. There is no holy paradise for the good, and dark, hellish underworld for the evil. ‘Good’ and ‘evil’ are points of view, there is no set definition. The same goes with ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ That is the Gestalt. The Gestalt is society and all the contagion that develops around it, the distortions of truth and space, time and lies, science and metaphysics. There is no God, there is no Devil, there is only Man, and Man, if you haven’t realized already, is capable of far more evil and judgment than any God or Devil, and it happens on a regular basis. Society rots from a plague that will never truly be cured; society seeks salvation when it will never be saved from itself. It is this never-ending Universal Cycle of Existence, a cycle of birth, suffering, death, and the temporary happiness and liberation that result, and repeating the process ad infinitum until the human extinction eventually, inevitably comes, that defines the human race. Humanity is destroyed by the very forces that create it; hence the symbol of my Order, a dragon consuming its own tail, circling the sun. That is life, simple, yet complicated. That other force, love, so everlasting, yet so temporary, has often been described as like magic, but, like any true magic, it is just as often simply an illusion of desire, and the root of that is suffering, the desire to find some kernel of happiness in this horrid, decrepit world before the calm of leaden, everlasting sleep. Love may feel as if it lasts forever, but in reality, when the brain is distorted by the Gestalt Field, time and lies become synonymous. Love feels longer and more meaningful that it actually is when reality sets in; it hurts more than anything else, so love is not an exception to suffering, and it is the epitome of human suffering and misery. There is no love; there is only malice and hate. Human beings cannot love; they cannot feel compassion or care for anyone, because of the Gestalt. The reason love cannot stand is that the foundation of which it stands consists of pillars of sand: trust. Trust is so easy to build, yet is also so easy to destroy. One day you can be best friends with someone, and the next day, you can find out that your best friend was a murderer, and you were on his or her next hit list…a fickle species, humanity is, that is why a dog or cat is more trustworthy than a person. Human beings lie, they cheat, they steal and they have no redeeming qualities. Even the kindest person could commit a triple homicide if they were convinced enough of the benefits of doing so. The truth is kindness is not a human trait. It is the superego, the Freudian depiction of societal conditioning versus the id and the ego that is created by the Gestalt Field. Kindness is a perspective, an ideal that the Gestalt uses to keep its constituent parts together, like a machine, and like any machine, the Gestalt only functions if all of its parts are working the way they should. Thus, the final property, truth, is the most difficult to find. The powers that be, namely the mass media, are so powerful that no government on Earth has any power over them; even the unfortunately deceased Attorney General stated that these companies are breaking laws, but are so powerful and so rich that to prosecute them would be economic suicide. The truth is that there is no ‘truth’ anymore. ‘Truth’ consists of whatever the multinational ultra-rich mega-conglomerates proclaim to be true, and in the words of a certain Isil nationalist and political scientist, have turned Gaia into an inverted totalitarian state, a form of illiberal government where the 0.01% control everyone else, even the elected officials are puppets. The Bourgeoisie and Kings are both the right and left arm of the Gestalt, and the corporations, mass-media; popular culture, celebrities, Riverden, social-injustice engine is the head, brain, eyes, ears, nose and mouth of this horrid entity. The legs, the ones that prop the system up and unknowingly support this murder machine, are people like you. The 99.9%, the doctors, farmers, workers, clerks, chefs, anything that is not one of the 0.01% of society is immobilized, with no way of escaping the Gestalt corpse. You don’t have to be. I am the virus, the pox that infects the Gestalt’s body and amplifies within its cells, its police and bureaucracy, the minds of its concentration camps and indoctrination centers that pass as schools, and eventually place the Gestalt at a day of reckoning. Either it wakes up and sees the magnitude of its crimes, or it faces the wrath of those it oppresses for so long. Stand by me and reject your own government and you will achieve a power greater than any University degree or Gestalt-imposed merit badge could ever grant you, one that would assure you a place in my new Empire, the Paganblut-Hexe Imperium. There is no God. There is no Devil. There is only Man, and I am His bane. Good day to you all, Carpe Diem.”

This one speech, vague and twisted, shows the extent of verbal insanity, which is an offshoot of the larger issue of intellectual insanity. The fifth domain of insanity, sadistic insanity, is the most pronounced in Toni. She takes great, almost orgasmic pleasure in other people’s pain, reveling in semi-masturbatory bliss of other’s screams and spilled blood and gore. Most of the torture methods she uses on her victims are indicative of extreme sadism, such as:

Straightforward forced sex, nice and easy, I would recommend drugging the victim with date-rape drugs first. (Not very creative…)

2. Lock victim in a cage and place spikes around his or her genitalia. They have to let you violate them to remove them, lest they impale themselves on the iron blades in the pubic area. (Original idea by author)

3. Slice their lips off with a blunt knife and sew them to the genitalia, as to make it look like “art,” this is only doable to someone who dresses in very revealing outfits, they let their sexuality do the talking, so why not make them look the part? (Original idea by author)

4. S&M fetish rape with actual medieval torture instruments, this is one of the Aryan Terrorism Klan’s favorite terror tactics, as well as a bizarre method of sick satisfaction used by the Grand Master. (Fuck Nigger Blood…) (Original Idea by Author)

5. Human meat shredder barrel, roll the naked victim down a slope in a barrel full of razor sharp spikes after violating them 812 times, 8-12=HM=Heil Marduk (Original Idea by Author)

6. Human puppet master, the victim is injected with a God-Machine microchip that turn them into a puppet, forcing them to rip themselves apart with a meat cleaver or chainsaw, after a ceremonial series of rapes in a cult ritual, surrounded by candles and swastika posters in a basement. (Original Idea by Author)

7. Suffocating a woman or man by gagging them to death with a gigantic plastic dildo is sometimes preferable to bloodshed rape-torture. (Original Idea by Author)

8. Hot candle-wax cocoon, where the victim is naked, still alive and baked in a cocoon of hot candle wax alive like a toaster pastry. (Original Idea by Author)

9. Rotary Rape, the victim is placed on a spinning wheel, and willing volunteers take turns raping the victim until she bleeds to death. (Original Idea by Author)

10. BTK rape, Bind, Torture, Rape, Kill. (Frowned upon because of lack of creativity. Will not earn many prestige points and rank may not increase as quickly as one would like.)

11. Shark-skin genitalia cover: This device looks like a condom and functions as one, but has an entire interior lining made of shark denticles, which hold the skin in place like 10,000 tiny fishhooks. The victim must perform self-castration to remove the device. (Original idea by author)

12. Extreme psychological distress and ironic, bizarre humiliation: such as having a group of gay prisoners engage in forced sex with another heterosexual Christian homophobe prisoner, only to kill all of them at the end of the act and pickle their body parts, and preserve their blood as wine by adding an oxidizer chemical that allows it to ferment. (Original idea by author)

13. Using a homemade sickle-claw finger-glove that fits over her index finger, the Grand Master punctures the jugular vein of her victims to sample their blood and body fluids. (Creepy, but has been done a few times before in history)

14. Using a machine that simulates labor pains in childbirth, the leaders use this to torture men with nearly 15 times the pain of actual labor, however. (Original idea by author)

15. Cooking a pregnant woman by burning her at the stake with a late-term baby, only to bake the woman like a fresh-caught pig and then cutting her womb open, and removing the perfectly-cooked fetus to be eaten by Countess Toni during her ancient Marduk sorcery spells; Toni abducted a North African immigrant mother, 9 months pregnant, and impaled her on a spit, slowly roasting her over a fire like a rotisserie cooker while she slowly died, her womb acted as a natural oven for the baby, cooked to a golden-brown perfection.

16. Nymphomania, but in a very sadistic, pain-inducing way. For example, she’ll take a heavy sledgehammer to a victim’s penis and masturbate the mangled, crushed genitalia until it ejaculates blood and semen in her face, which she enjoys like a warm, summer rain. She also engages in self-pleasuring behaviors that include shoving a crucifix from a Southern, Bible-Belt American church into her clitoris like a vibrator and breaking it in half with her own hands, just to show how much she despises traditional, conservative, American Christianity as well as to satiate her own “sexual interpretation” of Marduk and blood sorcery, she gloats about how she “fucked Jesus so hard it broke his cock in half” after this episode.

  1. Extreme hatred of “backward religion,” namely Christianity. She targets American and European Christians with a horrific ferocity, burning churches, defacing Christian symbolism and Nativity scenes on Christmas, and saving her worst torments for people like American “televangelists,” pro-lifers, creationists, whom she calls “Holocaust-deniers,” because denying something like evolution is akin to denying the Holocaust; the evidence saying that it does exist is so overwhelming that the Christians who deny it are “invalid lunatics without excuse;” and anyone who calls themselves “born-again.”
  2. Necrophilia: Toni sees something extremely attractive about the dead, and as a result, tries to engage in intercourse with the dead, even having orgies with 3 or 4 of the victims she murdered at a time, after they’ve been killed. She performs autopsies on her victims as well, just to eat their organs for pleasure.

These 18 extreme sadistic behaviors, often combined with near-masochist tendencies, she sometimes likes to feel pain as well, are indicative of all serial killers, but the most extreme killers are usually sadistic to match. This individual, however, is beyond any and every line imaginable. She takes a nuclear-powered bulldozer to sanity and the social contract and the very mention of her name is enough to give people the chills.

The sixth domain of insanity, insanity in dress, is very much a factor here as well. Toni is often seen in the most bizarre and symbolically-weird formal dresses imaginable, one is pink and red with hearts on it and a silky, lace, pink veil and scarf over it, as well as a gigantic, pink, fuzzy hat, one outfit is a long black dress with black high-heeled boots, black lacy dress gloves with a black and white fur coat over the whole thing and a white, fur Caucasian Cossack hat with a metal spike on top of it, like that of a German pickelhaube helmet, another is a seductive, black, strapless ballroom dress with red carnations around her waist, another being a burgundy and red 16th-century Eastern European gown and headdress, and another outfit that looks somewhat like a Ming Chinese Empress’ outfit, with a ton of eye makeup and lipstick for each outfit as well, and quite often, that makeup is made from congealed human blood or body fluids. Even her practical outfits are odd and gaudy in some way, they just don’t quite fit in with anyone else.

Finally, the seventh domain of insanity, religious insanity, is very much present as well. Her “religion,” if you can call it that, is a twisted form of Indo-Aryan paganism that tries to pass itself off as religion, which is symbolized by the dragon consuming its own tail, and the Marduk wheel, society is so flawed that each one eventually destroys itself, and only a higher force which she calls “Gestalt,” can keep it in order, however, this force is what also destroys society by the very fact that it exists…in her mantra, it is said that there is no God, there is no Devil, there is only Mankind…and she is His bane…as the storm grows in Gaia, Toni has used her position as the Supreme Praetor, the absolute authority on law enforcement in the Marduk Order, to protect Marduk sages everywhere, but she approaches this protection with the philosophy that she keeps everyone safe, as long as nobody questions or challenges her for any reason. Her biggest rival is Wotankult Hird Emperor Gustavus Adolphus von Nordheim, who is the Emperor of the Vatrian Wotankult Hird and is a polar opposite from Toni on how the Marduk Codex is interpreted, Toni focuses more on the sexual, pleasure-seeking aspect of the religion, given her personality and tendency to just enjoy every second of the A-list lifestyle that she’s lived in for 800 years, whereas Nordheim focuses more on the conservative, militaristic, racial interpretation of the Codex; Toni is extreme left, Nordheim is extreme right, to place it in political context. Much like the rivalry between Hitler and Stalin leading up to WWII, Toni stands as the de facto leader of the Leftist factions, and Nordheim stands as the unquestioned voice and authoritarian presence on the right-wing, or Volkisch factions. The majority of Marduk Sages reject the racial interpretations, but a strong portion of them see Nordheim and his ally, as well as Toni’s other rival Eisner von Richtofen of the Wewelsburg Hird’s message of a Marduk-dominated human race, and that Marduk Sages are naturally superior to non-initiated “invalid” humans, in Nordheim’s racial lexicon, as inspiring. Most of the traditional Marduk Sages, most notably the Monese Bathory-Kozak Hird and the Hime Draculesti-Branu Hird, led by Andreii Bathory-Groznyy and Alin Draculesti-Cesucescu, respectively, see Nordheim and Richtofen as rogues and their ideology as certain to bring a four-way war between Leftists, Volkisch, and normal, un-initiated human militaries, and the White Order, which would, even in the case of victory by Toni’s Leftist Coalition, spell the undoubted end of the success and grand culture that the Marduk Order had built in secret for thousands of years. There hadn’t been a need for Marduk Sages to get involved in any war or interaction with the non-Marduk world for more than 400 years, not since the 50 Years’ War, which ended in 1648 of the Second Age and dawned the Third Age, did any Marduk Sages fight in any typical human war. Even during the darkest hours of the war and conflict, Marduk actions were minimal, however, the White Order was the guardian of the human world, standing at the Supreme Pontifex’s right hand as peacekeepers. The previous, full-scale mobilization of Marduk Sages for war was during the Lalarian Crusades, when legendary Marduk Sage Vidiun Lusankara led his army to its final sacrifice at the Battle of Manziraat, in 1076 of the First Age. Vidiun’s entire Hird was killed in the battle, when Vidiun was forced to detonate a “nightmare bomb” underneath the main fortress to bring the aggressive Isil Confederation to its knees. The bomb was triggered by implanting a telekinetic charge into a sleeping person’s brain, in this case the Isil Emperor, the detonation causes colossal destruction that quite often kills the Sage who planted it, because of the effort needed to maintain the charge, the caster usually dies of sheer exhaustion. It is seen as the equivalent of a kamikaze attack and is the most powerful attack that any Sage can perform, but it is usually their final act. Toni, however, is so powerful that she is only mildly fatigued by the attack. With her leading the Leftists, most Marduk Sages believe that Leftist victory is certain in the event of war, but everyone hopes that war is avoided.

  1. Celeste Marunae, Sorceress of the White Order of Geldern Abbey, Lover and Protector of Baron Rikard Haast

Go back to the abyss, and fall into the nothingness that awaits you and all those who follow the Dark Order of Marduk! We outnumber you 5 to one! I am the White Monarch, and even though my Order bears no standard, it can still act with honor, unlike you. The free people of Isil will know what their young, vivacious Countess has been doing for all these years, a duplicitous roach of a monster! You are undeserving of the title of human!!”

Celeste Marunae, holding her staff in combat-ready position along with her 4 top Sages, after Countess Toni attacks the rest of the Isil soldiers with the vacuum spell.

Close your eyes and listen, swing with the beat and gently chuckle, move your hands as if conducting in joy, laugh and cry at the same time, fall from your seat and into perpetual bliss, let the sweet sounds of music fill your soul…”

Celeste Marunae, writing about her musical compositions.

In the ancient, majestic halls of Geldern Abbey, where the snow falls on the high roofs and artful spires, the noble White Order of Geldernshire, the Protectors of Gaia and Disciples of the Supreme Pontifex made their home. In these halls, legendary sorcerers of white magic, the most powerful force in Gaia, practiced their craft, living in the White Tower of Holmgard, site of the White Mage Council. This coven of 7 Sages was the most respected governing body in Gaia, and none was more powerful than the young Sage Celeste Marunae, the fabled White Monarch prophesied by the White Mage Council to restore the Standard of the White Order and a woman of great power and poise, but one who had seen much hardship and pain. Celeste was born in Minas Isil shortly after the Grand Master of the White Order, Sage Anders Binood, had a vision that the Sage who would replace him as the Grand Master would be born to a family somewhere in Isil, one of the mightiest of the Seven Kingdoms of Mankind. The city of Minas Isil was truly vast, built inside of a 33,000-foot tall mountain and surrounded by a 100-foot wall, patrolled by archers and pikemen and home to 35 million people, living in elegant apartment complexes carved in stylized stone buildings, with the Counts, Countesses and the King of Isil living at the summit and throughout the luxury apartments in the city. Celeste’s early childhood was typical, until the age of 5, when she witnessed her parents get killed in front of her by a Minas Isil soldier working for one of the Countesses of Isil, a woman named Toni Medici-Fecchiera. Shortly after, a White Sage, named Elde Sihde, found the terrified 5-year old crying over her parent’s executed corpses, and quickly sensed the power emanating from her body and soul, and, in the middle of the night, took her from her parents’ home in Minas Isil, leaving the bodies of her parents behind, with Celeste crying hysterically. For three days Sage Sihde and the young Celeste rode across the plains of Isil, the forests of Baronia-Felix and finally into the mountains of Mona, safely into the White Tower of Holmgard late one night, to meet the rest of the White Mage Council. There, Sage Sihde told the rest of the Sages the sobering tale…

This girl’s parents were killed by a Minas Isil soldier, under the employ of Countess Medici- Fecchiera. I could tell from the look of their home, that they committed no crime, and I believe that the girl here would have been killed too if she remained in her home for much longer. I know, and we all know, feel and breathe the power that emanates from this girl’s spirit…Countess Medici is only in her late 20s, and lusts for power above all else…she probably feared this girl would grow to challenge her power, which makes the little girl a fugitive from the law, and the entire White Order guilty of harboring a fugitive…but so powerful is the life-force that flows through this girl’s veins, that she may be the White Monarch. I shall bring her to the Grand Master at once, but be on your guard, all of you, for as long as she is here. I would not be surprised if we get an unwelcome visit from the Armies of Isil.” “Nonsense…Countess Medici-Fecchiera wouldn’t dare go that far. Geldernshire and Geldern Abbey is neutral ground! If they wanted to take her back to Isil, they would have to convince the King of Mona to override Geldern Abbey’s neutrality, and you very well know that he would never extradite a fugitive to a nation that Mona has a long-standing rivalry with!” Another sage replied, refusing to believe how serious Sage Sihde thought the situation was. “Are you so sure, Sage Vladimir? You yourself come from Isil, and you know how mighty their Army is, even in its diminished, waning state. Medici could mass a million-man army if she wanted to, more than enough to force its way past Mona’s armed forces and completely level Geldernshire to cinders! She wants us to think that she’s weak, do not fall into her trap, for that will put us, and this girl in danger!” “My name is Celeste. Celeste Marunae. Please, why am I here? When can I go home?” Celeste asked an innocent enough question to the Sages of Geldern, but they told her the hard truth. “Celeste, you have no more home to go to…this tower, these grounds, these mountains, these temples, this is your home now…and no one will ever harm you here. You will return home when the time is right, but, for now, you will become one of us. I am taking you to Grand Master Binood, and he will grant you passage into our Order. You’re going to be a Sage, Celeste. And one that could one day save Gaia from the coming darkness…”

“Time:”

At this point in my life, I’ve committed so many wrongs, I don’t know if I can set things right…Is it too late to love? Is it too late to feel? Is it too late to allow the aching wounds of the past to heal? There is not much time, days just come and go, some days it seems like there is no tomorrow…People just walk on by, heads hanging as they go, the gray skies of May never seem to clear…I see so much pain, I see so much hope, in the summer I see birds singing, in the winter I see joyful people, sliding down the snow-capped slope. For me the pain is real, it will never end, there are just some things that time cannot heal. My mother no longer speaks, my father no longer ails, I am all that I have to keep my company. Yet I have done so much…yet I have grown so strong, if only you could see me now, so lucky, so strong, so proud. I never said thank you for what you did for me…God willing, we will meet again one day, for now I feel loved here on Earth. Until we meet again, I remember you, always. For now, however, let me stay in this bliss, let me feel that one special kiss…I don’t know you, but I feel you, all the more for what I’ve been through. Your smile moves me, and you can always fool me, from a frown to a smile…Events that never amount to more than they’re worth will happen, but come what may…Take this doomed ship back home with me, because we have the world, raise your voice and sing a joyful song, you always have a choice, and you’ve made it now… down and into our worlds we go, your hand is in mine, I love you and I can’t go back now, Moods come that I just can’t describe, they come and erase my sorrows for now, paint me black and let me be at peace…You have suffered enough, I have seen enough pain, it’s time to end this war with ourselves, please, just take my hand, I am with you, as you are me…Take this doomed ship, back home with me, because we have the world, raise your voice and sing a joyful song, you always have a choice, and you’ve made it now…Our time is short so sing your part and know that you have me, I’ll sing this aria until I die or the end of time, whatever comes first, for you are all that I need, and all that I ever wanted. Until the last leaf falls, I will be by your side, remember that…I promise.”

Words elude me, my thoughts confuse me, I have suffered enough, and warred with myself, it’s time that I won. Fall in love, and be at peace, knowing that everything is alright. Lay your arms around me, for I am there. If you fall, I will catch you. If you cry, I will catch your tears. There’s something about you now, that I just can’t quite figure out, no question of science or reason can explain it. None of the greatest speeches can explain how I feel right now. It is something that no money can buy, no power can control, the deepest of human emotions, they are free. You have suffered too much for your young heart to bear, you have no tears left to cry, so smile…look into my eyes, sweetie, I will be here as long as you need me. To Paradise, we pledge our hearts, let us be free from pain, for both our hearts I hope, there’s a reason, you an I.”

Rikard Haast and Celeste Marunae lyrics to each other one night after Celeste’s piano performance of her song “Time,” as they embraced each other, crying, holding on to each other for dear life, for they are all that they have.

1. Christmas Cheer

Oh, sweet woman, light of my life, fire of my soul, you look absolutely stunning tonight…”

The party was grand, as always, at the Owahina House, a huge mansion nestled deep in the snow-capped mountains of Geldernshire, in the northern part of Mona, the vast Kingdom of the North, just as it was every Christmas. The lights were strung, the wreaths were hung, and the interior of the vast log home, with its carved stone siding and bay windows, with a massive, roofed, walk-around porch and promenade deck, was decorated for Christmas, with a huge Douglas Fir in the center of the living room, next to the the fireplace, where a roaring fire was burning, casting a warm, festive glow over the whole room. Sitting on the leather couches, dressed in Christmas festive wear, were the guests of the Haast family, who owned the Owahina House, were celebrating the annual family Christmas party. Pacing back and forth at the foot of the stairs leading to the second floor landing was Samantha St. Cloud, a young woman whom the 25-year old heir to the Haast family empire, Rikard Haast, invited every year. She was tall and fair, with long brown hair and blue eyes, with a very pale face and wearing a red holiday dress for the party, the same dress she wore every year to the Haast event. She seemed stressed, as she almost always did around the holidays, but most of the time she was rather laid back. “Samantha! Did you check the guest’s coats yet? There are more coming in soon.” “Sorry Elise, did not mean to keep the guests waiting…” Samantha said, annoyed that Elise Haast, Rikard’s 22 year old sister, was always so pushy. The party only happened once a year, and Elise was determined to make it go off without a hitch ever year. Their parents were usually away on business at this time of year, for they had made their money in international markets as the head of a trade firm, one that dealt with the trade of a substance called Origana, which cured any illness. As a result, Rikard and Elise had never had their entire family home for Christmas even once in their lives. These guests, the same people every year, were all that they had around the holidays. Rikard usually invited the young, pretty, rich girls that he met in his travels, two girls, Mayumi Toujou and Kokkoro Ai, were from the wealthy Kingdom of the Hibiscus Knights, the most powerful mortal warriors in the world during the Third Age, and they stood next to two of the young men that Elise had invited, Rudolph Waldheim and Albert Scheer, both from the mighty, gleaming, vertical city of Minas Borina, the capital of the Realm of Baronia-Felix, one of the Seven Kingdoms of Gaia during the Third Age. They had become good friends with the two Hibiscus women through the Haast family gathering on Christmas, and they always looked forward to seeing each other. Rudolph and Ai held each other’s hands as the fire roared behind them, looking out the bay window on the cold Geldernshire night, it was December 23, and the stars in Big Sky Country were out in their blazing majesty, as was the full moon, illuminating the snowscape with an otherworldly aura. The mountains behind the house were silhouetted against the sky. Mayumi and Kokkoro were busy sipping Christmas cheer and bantering about the living room, as Rikard helped all the guests decorate the Christmas tree, that stood nearly 15 feet tall in the living room. “Albert, can you please get me the stepstool to string this garland? I’m not tall enough to reach the next strand.” Mayumi asked, politely, her long black hair covering her left eye in a very seductive way. “Sure, it’s over by the front door.” As Albert walked over to the front door, he was startled by it opening, and even more startled as to who was standing in the door. She stood more than 6 feet tall, with long, silky brown hair and pigtails, a lacy, festive blue headband with white frills on it, and a gaudy red and green ballroom dress with shimmering garland, ornaments and black and white frill patterns all over it, her hands were covered in lacy gloves, and her eyes were a soothing blue. She had red and green striped stockings with black platform shoes; she looked like a walking Christmas tree. “Hello, is this the Haast residence?” the young woman asked, timidly. “Yes it is, come inside, you look amazing in that outfit…” Albert said, unsure of what to think of this woman. She was new, and had never been invited before, so the others would likely want to meet her. Just then, Albert realized what this woman was, but he didn’t want to say anything…he never thought he’d actually meet one, ever. “You are?” Albert asked. “Celeste. Celeste Marunae.” Rikard turned around with his stoic face and looked at Celeste and Albert. “Thank you very much, Albert, for showing Celeste the way into the house. I’m pretty sure she could have found her way in by herself…” Rikard said, sarcastically. Albert gave Mayumi the stepstool so that she could continue decorating the tree. “So, Celeste, you definitely have the most unique outfit I’ve ever seen at one of my parties. You look like a Christmas tree, quite literally.” “Thank you, Rikard, but this isn’t even my usual formal outfit.” Celeste smiled sweetly. Celeste looked at the piano in the corner, and asked Rikard if she could play a song. “Sure, I don’t see why not…” Celeste walked over the the piano and sat down at the bench, placed her delicate hands on the keys, and began playing a song that nobody recognized…it was truly beautiful, one that put all its listeners into a deep trance. For three minutes, Celeste played the haunting piano melody, with its lovely, sad mix of high notes and low notes, its quiet parts and loud parts, its fast tempo and slower tempo, as the rest of the party guests just stood and listened. As Celeste played the last notes of the piece, everyone gave her a round of applause, Albert and Rudolph toasted to the song. “Celeste…where did you learn to play like that?” “I learned from various individuals, but most of that was, by sad necessity, self-taught. That piece is called ‘Tragic Love of the Heavens.’” “What’s so unfortunate about teaching yourself to play that music? It was incredible.” “Rikard, at this point in my life, I’ve seen things that I’ll never forget, I’ve witnessed mistakes that I lived to regret, I’ve been taken advantage of, and I’ve taken advantage of others. For every tear, for every scar, for every pain, for every sorrow in this life, I will be forever grateful for my music, for as the pages turn, and the last leaf falls, we have each other, one and all…so yes, I have been through some rough times in my young life already, but we have to put the past behind us. It hurts, but we cannot dwell on things we cannot change. Christmastime is a good time to reflect on the past year and to celebrate the times ahead, good or bad. Whether high birth or low, whether stranger or kin, whether friendly or foe, let our revels now begin. Charles Dickens wrote that last piece.” Rikard looked at Celeste’s sweetly smiling face, and smiled back. A simple gesture of affection, but a big one for Rikard nonetheless. Rikard was a notoriously dour person, he never saw much good in people for some reason, and didn’t affiliate himself with most people because of it. Rikard simply smiling was the equivalent of tears of joy in any other person. His smile was short lived, however, as he sat up and took a glass of brandy from the drink table and sipped it, with the same, stoic, yet extremely handsome look on his face. His suit and coattails made him look like a man of great power and prestige, and his soft brown hair and brown eyes complemented his tall, lanky figure and concealed a very, very quiet, yet very powerful mind. Not much could be said about him, other than the fact that he was a very accomplished essayist and writer, and that his words, most of the time, were seen on his blogs and in the scholarly libraries for various universities. What he did write, however, was very, very poignant, his observations about the rarefied 1% of Monese households, the super-rich plutocrats. His membership to this elite class and his writings about the inner workings of the Monese plutocracy entertained thousands of perusing readers, on his compendium about “a simple man trying to navigate a world gone insane…” “So, tell me a bit about yourself, Celeste, I’ve only met you once before, in Minas Borina at that cafe, in Baronia-Felix, if I do recall?” “Yes, near the bridge over the Misty River. I ordered the spaghetti, while you got the fried calamari, am I correct?” “Yes, I think so, I don’t bother to remember those things…” “Why not?” “I see no purpose in it.” “Well…do you remember me well?” Celeste asked, softly, trying to understand why Rikard was being so difficult to reach. “Yes, I do. You talked about your music there, but, I must admit, it was quite impressive to hear you play in person.” Rikard smiled again, much to the surprise of everyone. “Well, a lot of what I do to compose I like to keep private, but I do have ways of finding the rhythm, that eventually flowers into beautiful sounds.” “So, you appear to have difficulties opening up to people as well…that makes two of us. I will tell you this much, that I have seen most of the Kingdoms of Man, Mona, Vatria, Baronia-Felix, Hime, Wallachia, Rui, and Isil, and even the Kingdom of the Draco Mages, on trips with my family growing up; my parents would go on business and they’d leave me and Elise at the 5-star hotels. We traveled around the great cities, places like the Hibiscus City of Lights in Hime, Minas Isil in Isil, Minas Borina in Baronia-Felix, and many other towns outside of the major cities, with attendants that ensured our safety. I grew up in a multicultural environment, but one thing that always remained constant was people’s stupidity. Ignorance and lack of even basic knowledge is the order of the day in the Third Age, people are too fixated on appearances, celebrities’ lives and societal standards to maintain any form of independence. There was once a time where it was a good thing if you had free thought, you could make your own decisions and become successful by the foot of your own bootstrap. Self-sufficiency was taught in schools and in the home. In Ages past, there was one constant among men, and that was their honor and glory. The great cities of Man, carved out of mountains and reaching 30,000 feet into the air, housing millions of people inside of their walls and bulwarks, were built by heroes such as King Hiro of Luminor in Hime, King Anders the Elder in Isil, and Kaiser Adolph the Wise of Baronia-Felix, and defended by their vast armies, numbering in millions of men. Then, at the dawn of the Third Age, the Supreme Pontifex, a Draco Mage that ruled over all 7 Kingdoms of Man from the Kingdom of the Draco Mages, vanished unexpectedly. The cities fell into decay, and their economies grew sluggish and inefficient. Trade came to a stop, and the old Kings were all but forgotten, their tombs, grander than the houses of the living, were left to fall into disrepair. All that remains of the Kingdoms of Gaia now are corrupt, dishonest, unjust shells of their former glory. Now, men have become helpless drones of a corporate mass-engine machine run amok, big corporations, my family’s included, exploit cheap labor in the Kingdoms and developing principalities by forcing them into nothing short of wage-slavery, and using a purely Keynesian, Machiavellian approach to making money. This rise of the Monese plutocracy and decline of individuality to a highly-incorporated, bourgeoisie oligarchy in place of true, just leadership has sent humanity into a slow, painful political and cultural decline, the economies of Mankind continue to grow and globalize under the bourgeoisie, but Mona as a kingdom, I believe, will cease to exist in 100 years at most, given the growing power of the plutocracy and the Imperial Council that supports it and the waning power of individual rights in the face of mass globalization and international business. I, as a member of this bourgeoisie class, am seeing this type of “human farming” first-hand, with my family constantly ignoring the demands from the low-wage workers that it employs in the factories it funds in Vatria and Hime, and I, being knowledgeable of historical trends, can see that this type of working-class oppression is just asking for an eventual revolution, and it will be my family and my economic class that feels the iron of the spear. So, it is in the bourgeoisie’s best interest to care about their employees, but they don’t, and that is the grave they dig. Someday, something’s going to break, and we’ll all suffer the consequences of the death of free thought. I fear for my family’s safety, and I fear for my workers’ safety at the hands of my company. I and dually responsible for the problem, but am prevented from finding any solution without upsetting the Almighty Gold Piece. This can only end in violence. We will soon have another leader like Elreen the Witch King, whether we want it or not.” Celeste stared awkwardly at Rikard, after hearing his incredibly bleak lecture. “You do not have to accept anything unless you want to.” Celeste said. “Just amazing…I knew you were something from the moment I met you, and it appears that I was not wrong in my assumptions.” “Hello, Theresa Ponte. You haven’t lost any of your luster, or your timing.” Rikard said, closing his eyes in an exasperated sort of way. “What’s the matter, Rikard, didn’t you miss me? We haven’t seen each other all year and this is how you treat me?” The 6’2”-tall, elegant, willowy redhead with a dancer’s muscles and figure walked in, dressed in her best holiday party outfit. “Sorry…my apologies. I just thought you weren’t coming this year…” Albert and Rudolph looked at Theresa with annoyed, displeased eyes, matching Rikard exactly. “I see your brought that sword again…” Rikard said, pointing out that Theresa trained with a saber and was a master at sword combat, rivaling the best of any soldier. “I usually carry it for protection, you don’t know how many creeps there are in this world…” “Oh…hello there, who is this, Rikard? This…Sorceress of Geldern Abbey…” Immediately, Celeste rose to her feet and positioned her hands in front of her face. A distorted swish filled the air, giving everyone chills. “Who spoke to you of the Order, Swordmistress?! You cannot eavesdrop on us, we will know, and we will cast you into a nothingness that you cannot escape from!” “Oh, I’m so scared…Do you think I’m afraid of some silly woman’s and her ancient Geldern Order’s magic tricks? You don’t even have your staff, bitch!” Celeste closed her eyes and chanted a brief incantation, and then the wind howled outside, the bay window shattered, and Celeste’s staff, topped by a glowing white orb, came smashing through the windows, shattering glass all over the floor and making everyone jump backwards in panic, flying right into her hands. Celeste grabbed the glowing staff and pointed it at a startled Theresa, pure power radiating from Celeste’s body, mind and staff. “Draw your weapon, Swordmistress…” “Why should I? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Sorcerers are encouraged not to show any anger towards those unless in self-defense? I have not attacked you, and you just caused considerable damage to your host’s house…so, as powerful as you are, you appear to lack discipline. I pick my battles, and I’ve got better things to do than pick a fight with sorceress who’s Order has long been bereft of lordship…” Celeste held her staff down, realizing that Theresa was right. “I will stand down for now, but do not mock the Order again, for you may be a master of sword combat, but do not cross me or my allies…I am more than just a White Sage…I am the White Monarch.” Everyone in the room looked at her in astonishment, Ai even dropped the Christmas ball that she was trying to hang when she heard Celeste’s declaration. She held her staff high in the air, creating an eerie, otherworldly, yet utterly soothing aura around the room. The aura picked up the shattered windows, piece by piece, and reassembled them, fixing the window quietly and quickly. Celeste then walked over to Ai and rebuilt the Christmas ball in the same manner, placing it on the tree delicately. Celeste then took her staff and lit candles hanging on the Christmas tree with a wave of her staff, and just like that, the decorations were finished. “It’s very beautiful…” Celeste said, turning around and facing the group of astonished party guests…all except Theresa, who looked unimpressed. “So…you are the White Monarch…if that is true, than you have much to learn before you’re ready to save anything…Enough of this sorcery, where’s the cheer!?” Theresa laughed. “Rikard, pour me some liquor!” “You could at least say ‘please…’” Rikard said, without smiling again. Celeste walked over to the loveseat on the far end of the room, and just sat there, preferring to stay on the edge of things. There was nobody showing much interest in talking to her, now that everyone knew that she was the White Monarch. It was strange, one might think that people would like to ask a sorceress questions about her training and her life, but, in the Third Age, the Mages, formerly much-revered and vaunted during the time of the Supreme Pontifex, were now seen with suspicion. Ever since the rise of the Companies and the decline of the Kings, people had become far more fixated on making money and obtaining material goods, rather than seeking truth and upholding justice. The White Order was seen by many as an anachronism, a relic of a time long passed, like Theresa said, a “house long bereft of lordship.” However, Ai seemed rather intrigued by the opportunity to meet a White Mage, and walked over to Celeste, sitting down next to her. “Hello Celeste, my name is Ai. It means “Love” in Hime. Are you enjoying yourself?” “As much as I’ll ever be…it must be special to have a name that reflects the deepest passions of the human soul. It would be like having the name “Melody” or “Grace.” Music and love are things that can speak to us in ways no language can. Close your eyes and listen, let your mind be at ease, wave your hands as if conducting the winds, and let the sweet aria of life fill you with passion. I have been to Hime twice, their cities are beautiful and lit with hanging paper lanterns, sometimes it seems as if the stars have fallen to the earth.” “You must have gone during Summer’s End. We light the lanterns to guide wandering spirits, lost and lonely, home to safety.” “Well, this wandering spirit has a home. My home is wherever the winds take me… The White Tower of Holmgard and Geldern Abbey have been the only real homes I have ever known, at least since I was a very little girl. But that is a tale best left untold.” “That must be very difficult…not having anyone to go home to on the holidays…” Ai said, sadly. “I have the other Sages, we are a family, a fellowship that cannot be broken, bound by the iron bulwarks of time and necessity. We shine our light across Gaia, and give light to those who live in eternal night, hope to the hopeless, and faith to the forsaken. It is my duty, until I breathe my last…perhaps the Hime Summer’s End Festival drew me there as an omen, so that one day I will have a home.” “The Kami have a sweet way of showing reassurance.” Ai said, on the verge of tears from Celeste’s beautiful story. She truly spoke like someone wise beyond anyone else, at the age of 22. “Oh, grow some spine, Ai…Don’t tell me you’re one of those girls that cries at every sob story she hears…” “Stop it…I’m very sensitive…” “I’ve given up tears. They get you nowhere except mired in inefficacy and frivolous overthought. A Sage shall not know anger, nor hatred, nor love, and certainly not pity on those who cannot maintain self-sufficiency.” “But you just said that love is the mission of a Sage…” “Love takes many meanings, we are encouraged to love in a compassionate sense, but we, as an Order, must be celibate. Marriage distracts us from our goals.” “But no one says you have to get married…” “That is true. I suppose romance is not completely forbidden, but Grand Master Binood frowns upon it. I’d like to see what he has to say about Rikard over there. He’d order him to leave me alone at once. The Sages are very distrusting of the bourgeoisie. We think that money is the root of all that kills, and that true strength must come from within.”

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