||2020-10-03 11:48:15 - Update
Episode #19: She Sustains Me
The Ministry of the Blade Campaign
NPCs mentioned in this Episode:
... and life might have continued like that for Sephiroth for some time. I do believe that his formative years in Rauxes were the most difficult for him...
Excuse me. Who am I you ask? I am she that would know Sephiroth almost as well as he knew himself, I would understand, only later, that I knew him too well. I am Dalia Tamplain, Combat Mage of Rauxes’ Great Imperial Army.
I came to know my beloved Sephiroth when he was a young man, perhaps too young for a woman like myself. He was absoloutely mesmerizing, and an equal to him I shall never findï¿½ but we’re getting ahead of ourselves...
I pen this account, because of the nature of the relationship that he and I share. It is unlike any I’ve ever had or will ever find again, so intricate and delicate our dance, so dangerous and exciting our lives. I wish to remember all that he has shared with me, for I am surely blessed to know the one man who searches endlessly to answer all his questions, but holds the key to all of mine. I should begin with how I met he who has possessed me; body, mind & soul. He is present in every breath I take, and every thought I have, so completely does he mystify and excite me.
When I met Sephiroth, he had seen only twenty summers. Young, beautiful in the way that completely grips and holds you, such were his features. Delicate, yet strong in shape, his eyes piercing and bright, as with a light of their own, their bluish green depths could hold me still, seemingly forever, so lost was I in them. He was taller than anyone I had ever known, rising a full foot over me, and similarly over the other mages. He was not skinny, as many who can boast his height are, but sinewy, if I may call him that. He walked with a gait that was both graceful and quiet, but powerful and purposeful. So quickly would he cross the courtyard below my window, that a second glance would prove too late.
The first time that I saw Sephiroth was at my presentation. As was tradition amongst the Combat Mages’ contingent, new initiates were ‘displayed’ before all on the fields outside Rauxes. This was to provide an opportunity for each mage to ‘size up’ their competition, for competition is fierce among our number, and to provide an example of who General Aranek and the Master of Mages deemed worthy additions to our ranks.
It was quite the first impression.
The day was hot. It had been two months since the snow had finally left the great plains, and what trade dared forage across the barren expanse would soon start arriving in our city. I had come to Rauxes under the insistence of my family, whose resources had been directed towards my schooling at the insistence of my father. It seemed that everyone close to the family recognized my ‘apparent skill’ and were all very supportive in furthering my pursuit of ‘the art’. I am daughter to a local aristocrat; my family reaches back further than I was taught to recollect, and the prestige that accompanies my name is well known across the Great Kingdom.
He spends much of his time in his schoolings, to the relief of fellow mages who are uncomfortable in his presenceï¿½
Years of solitude have ensured that he had no friends and less interest in making some.
Only ~20 women call themselves Combat Mages of the contingent of ~100
During training one morning, Dalia is introduced to their ranks on the fields outside Rauxes, and she sees Sephiroth, off to the side, not participating, but takes special note of him.
She is alluring, and beautiful, and attracts the attentions of many of the Combat Mages in attendance
***********Switch to her point of view****************
This man is intriguing, “What does he hide?”
His beauty is drawing, but no one calls him friend, and everyone grants him a wide berthï¿½ what is it about him?
She pursues him, despite the warnings of others, and hears all the terrible rumours that abound, but instead of warding her away, they draw her closer.
Then one evening, at a ball, she corners him on a balcony and introduces herself. She asks the questions that Sephiroth has many times asked himself, and makes a very lasting impression. His mysteriousness draws her closer still, and through continued pursuit, gains his interest, and they become intimateï¿½
Talk about the bliss he lives through now, the desire, but the inability to recognize it for what it is; never having known that attachment before makes Sephiroth feel vulnerable and out of control, and it is a feeling he does not like. So, to avoid this insecurity, he avoids herï¿½ to no avail.
She reached up to wipe a tear, half frozen, from her cheek, and then stopped walking in order to dislodge a bit of mud that had oozed its way into her shoe. And as she did so, she became intensely aware of the silence that surrounded here. No other footsteps sounded in the night, though the road on all sides of her had been heavily trod. No birds sang, no insects chattered, no children cried in the distance. Nothing. It was as if the whole world had died, suddenly, -- as if she were the only creature left on Erna, and this section of road the last spot where life might exist, in the whole of creation.
Then a sound behind her made her start suddenly. Almost silent, a mere hint of movements, but set against he night’s backdrop of utter soundlessness it had the power of a scream. She whirled about, staring back the way she had come.
At a man.
“Forgive me.” His voice was smooth, his carriage elegant. He bowed, soft brown hair catching the moonlight as he moved. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“You didn’t,” she lied. Another bit of mud was trickling coldly into her shoe, but she didn’t want t o take her eyes from him to dislodge it; she shifted her weight a bit, and almost fell as a result. Gods, was she that unsteady? She didn’t dare look as afraid as she felt. The Hunter was attracted to fear. “It just seemed so... quiet.”
“The night can be like that.” He walked toward her slowly, casually, his languid grace mesmeric in the moonlight. A tall man, lean, with delicate features, arresting eyes. Unadorned, save for a thin gold band that held back his hair from his face, the latter cut shoulder-length in a style several years out of date. His eyes were pale grey flecked with silver, and in the moonlight they flashed like diamonds. She sensed a cold amusement lurking just beneath the surface. “Forgive me,” he repeated, “but a young woman out alone? It seemed unusual. Are you all right?”
It occurred to her that she hadn’t heard him approach, that in the midst of all this sticky mud she should have had some warning ï¿½ but then his eyes caught hers, held hers, and suddenly she couldn’t remember why that bothered her.
“Yes,” she stammered. “That is ï¿½ I think so.” She felt breathless, as if she had been running instead of walking. She tried to step back, but her body shouldn’t obey. What kind of Working had he used to bind her?
But though he came close ï¿½ too close ï¿½ it was only to touch her chin with the tip of a well-manicured finger, turning her face up toward him. “So fragile,” he murmured. “So fine. And alone in the night. Not wise. Would you like an escort?”
She whispered it. “Please.”
He offered his arm. After a moment, she took it. An antiquated gesture, straight out of the Revival period. Her hand shook slightly as it came to rest on the wool of his sleeve. No warmth came from the arm beneath, or any other part of him; he was cold ï¿½ he radiated cold ï¿½ like the night itself. Just as she, despite her best intentions, radiated fear.
There is little that the two do not share. Sephiroth finds in Dalia that which he thought he would never find. The confident who he can tell his puzzlement to, the one he can complain to about the pain the sun causes him.
They are truly inseparable, and Dalia begins to experience the poor treatment Sephiroth has always known because of her association with him.
As time goes by, Dalia is presented with the offer to give up all that she has learned in Rauxes and discontinue the life she leads to assume her life before. Or, she may never again see her family and devote herself wholly to Ivid’s rule.
She weighs her love for Sephiroth primarily, coupled with the secondary lust for power, and decides to forsake her family forever.
She does not tell Sephiroth this, and keeps it secret inside of her, never telling General Aranek that she stayed for Sephiroth, and not her art.