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The Sublime Overlord of the Realm
Whisper was stung by Echo's words and winced. She had had her reasons to not tell and she had stuck to them, grateful that Tomick had as well and had the wherewithal to try to calm Mender before the man kicked the horse he rode into a gallop into unknown situations. But had anyone paid attention to Tomick's face, they would have seen that he hadn't been surprised and known that she had told him as well. It had been a burden that she could not have bore alone.

As they made their way through what was left of the city, Whisper wrinkled her nose. The smell of damp and char clung to her nostrils whether she would have willed it or not. Not all buildings had been burned to the ground, but a great slice down the middle of it had. Men and women and children walked by in a daze, their eyes furtive and fearful when they realized that there were others in armor nearby. Burnt bones lay in the streets, evidence of the human toll of this fight. Very few seemed capable of fixing things on their own as if their will or their minds had been broken in the attack. The only things that seemed to have any portion of spirit left were the rogues and bullies that roved about like packs of mangy wolves, looting, killing, and raping those that chanced to go out alone. Whisper could hear them more than she could see and find them or she would have rode in to stop it. It was despicable.

Even so, she did not allow herself to think of the Complex even though her eyes told her of the thin trickling of smoke into the atmosphere from the hill upon which it all sat. Mender rode morosely beside Tomick, saying not a word. He had instantly lost the joy that had carried him onwards over the last few days. And every time she managed to glance at him and he met her eyes, he glared his contempt at her. Shad's eyes roved carelessly as he assessed the devastation, keeping his arms firmly around Echo as if trying to lend her strength even though he knew he could not. But even he knew that this was not the homecoming that the woman had looked forward to.

The horses plodded up the hill upon the road and made their way towards what remained of the Complex. Whisper halted immediately to survey the damage. The Order couldn't have possibly done any of this. We would have never burned our own home like this! It's... it's practically all gone! Her heart leapt to her throat in grief even as Mender and Echo continued forward. Whisper choked on her tears, blinking them away with a violent shake of her head. She knew Tomick had waited and had his eyes on her even as he probably felt the heaviness settle upon him with not knowing if his parents were alive or not as well. He would have probably wrapped her in his arms had they been on the ground instead of on horseback.

All of a sudden Gruff took off like a shot, Echo yelling 'Daddy!' as she went. Whisper urged Wraith to move at a more sedate pace, but an overwhelming sense of relief flooded through her. Father is alive.

Shad held on to Echo for dear life. The pace that she had suddenly set was too great for him to keep to the saddle. And then they stopped, almost bringing the poor horse into a rear as it braced itself. Shad's forehead had almost cracked into the back of Echo's even so, but he managed to avoid it as she slid off. The half elf made a quick grab for the reins and ended up sliding off to hold onto the suddenly skittish horse. The man that Echo flung herself at was a large man, barrel chested and muscular, as tall as Shad with broader shoulders and powerful arms. His long hair was dark interspersed with silver denoting his age even as his cold blue eyes were an indication that this was the woman's father. Even without armor, the man seemed to emanate threat in a bestial sense.

Then Whisper rode up and dropped her reins in Shad's hand too as if he were a stable boy. He was going to argue for a moment, but when he saw Whisper's face affixed to her father's as if he were a beacon, he knew that no amount of arguing would get her to take back her horse. So he sighed and kept them as she moved towards the man with the deep rumbling voice.

Whisper moved towards him and wrapped her arms around his neck even as her sister had arms around his waist, waiting for him to wrap her with his free arm. It was then that she finally broke. A shuddering gasp broke from her as silent tears began to trickle down her face. We... we failed, Father. There is much to tell you, but... but I don't think I can tell you here. Bitterness at her failure, at her defeat, swarmed her, weariness pulled at her body, emotions riddled her mind, and there was little she could do to stem it all, the very core of her being feeling brittle and empty now that her home had been torched to the ground.

MENDER! MENDER! MENDER! Mender's three little sisters shouted at him as soon as they saw him. Gina and Dina held Medla's hands, their mother standing nearby, a hand over her mouth as her eyes filled with tears to see her middle son come home. Mender...

MOM! The large man kicked the horse into action and practically fell off of it in his haste to wrap his arms around his mother who sobbed and little sisters who squealed and cried.

Mender, son, I'm... I'm so glad you're home. She choked on the words. We... we need to discuss some things... The tone of his mother's voice let him know that something bad had happened, but he let her lead him away, leaving Tomick's horse where it stood, unattended.

Shad, not knowing what to do, simply stood right where he had planted himself with a set of reins in each hands and pretended to look around instead of accidentally eavesdrop on Echo, Whisper, and their rather large and scary father, wishing that he could simply whistle or something without appearing so conspicuous.

Lunira was nearby, glad that her master's family had returned. Based upon everything, she was uncertain if they had been successful in whatever they had been sent to do though Whisper looked awfully upset. And I should... apologize for being so cruel to her before she left. She probably won't believe me even if I do, but it would be a start.

Rendo was felling trees to build structures around the shrine. They would build their Complex anew over there by their sacred place. The medical wing would be repaired where it was and the practice rings would be near it. Even the nobles had become convinced that a greater separation between the Complex and the Court was absolutely necessary, not that it had taken any convincing at all as most of the nobles were still fearful of anyone in armor save their own hired guards. Falda helped directing what little man power they had to make things flow in the right direction. Forward. Always and ever forward.

Valeer was in the medical wing as was Nyjohn. Valeer was receiving care while Nyjohn was helping to take out ruined furniture and set the good where it could be of the most use. Exelder was taking armor and weapons from the dead for repurposing as it would be some time before they were able to make new ones. Lucia was helping to take care of the dead. Much in their world had changed and it would take some time to find themselves in it again.
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Respite · Phenvast City

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