Supementary reads Munim One who gives Charity to Others; Blessed; Wealthy BGM: This story begins decades ago between an up and coming business man named Sodium O'Reilly and a Harvester Devil named Rue. ‘Twas was a simple dealing at the start, really. A young man simply trying to get in the trade, took a few wrong turns, now he’s down on his luck. Said turns may or may not have been caused by Rue’, but hey, Rue can’t supervise every single contact he has within the several dozen cities and hovels he has rapped around his claw. A bit of bribery, a signed deal was done, ba’da’bing, ba’da’doo’, a contract was made. Another soul for Rue, some strings were pulled, and a rich paycheck was sitting on Sod’s lap to get the young man back on his feet. All’s well that ends well, Rue thought. That was, until, Rue later discovered that Sodium knew about Rue’s vast networks shortly after their little deal was finalized. Sod’ proved then and there that he was different compared to all the other tycoons, noblemen, head guards, fools, and royalty Rue had dealings in centuries past. At first Rue thought Sod’ was some sort of privet investigator looking to dismantle the corruption in the various villas that Rue started – or even worse, take him to Hell’s Court to get some sort of boon from a higher devil. But in Sod’, Rue found a kindred soul – one whom revels in the thrill of striking deals. What was only a transaction turned into a happy business relationship, for in the words of Sod’; “Through your bounty you offered, I’ll provide it back thrice fold – for how else is a farmer going to till the soil without proper supplies?” Thus, with this alliance started Rue’s grandest reaping to date. With Sodium’s natural business prowess, his many companies stretched all along the various silk roads across the material plane with zero direct help from the devil’s hand at all. Sod’ focused on everyday goods, with his namesake coming from trading salts, along with herbs and spices. With these ‘foundational’ products being the core of his wealth, Sodium’s business connections ranged from the humble farmhand to the upper class. Rue road Sod’s reputation like a bandwagon and was able to get in contact with many down-and-out individuals, regardless of race, language, or class. All Rue did to assist Sod’ during this rapid growth era was protect him from would be dangers upon Sodium’s life from diseases to assassins, and anything else in between. Rue figured this was the reason why Sodium sought him out in the first place, to have a protection with no strings attached. But when Rue confronted Sod’, the middle aged human rejected of such a scheme. “Wealth has claimed my mind ever since I could comprehend what the concept what a copper piece could buy. No matter the number of affairs I have, the children I bare, the murders I’ve done, the blood I’ve drank, nothing mattered more then a single platinum coin. I was always doomed to Hell, Rue, that’s what my family always told me: ‘Quit chasing that dough, or you’ll lose that soul’. They always told me that in the eyes of the ‘good’ gods, I am worth nothing so long as I followed only riches. I bet you knew that too, Rue. Why else would you bought me for so little? But it was through our measly contract, Rue, that you showed me that there’s something far more valuable then money.” Sodium rested his hand across his chest and upon his empty heart. “You saw value in my soul, a sinner’s, when everyone just made me feel terrible for who I am. By taking the only thing worth of me, you opened my eyes to who I was destined to become. By gutting me, you nourished me. I’ve provided these opportunities for you not so that I can get your protection, but so that I can be near you and study from the best while I’m still blessed with the freedom as a human. I do not care if you are not number one, for you bought me. And for that? You can only ever BE my number ‘one’.” Sodium smiled as he swiveled his office chair and looked out at the mid afternoon sun through the dusty window. Sod’ knew before long, that twilight will arrive.. as too the sun would set on both the day and his remaining mortal days to come. He clasped his hands and rested upon his full belly, at peace with the life choices he made. He then scoffed. “My only regret in our original contract is that I’ll be starting off as your lowly Imp, Roody.” The disguised devil sat dumbfounded in his own mounds of paperwork on his half of Sod’s studies. Rue’s fat cigar began to burn a hole in his contracts hearing the human’s sob story. Rue’s yellow suit and silvery skin flashed black and red respectively as the devil howled in sudden laughter. Burning tears rolled down Rue’s cherry red cheeks as he smashed his fist down upon the rickety desk, his web of lies flying high then scattering across the floor. The Devil caught his fleeting breath and whipe the water from his inverted eyes. “You humans are like sad pups, I swear. You imprint on the first thing that gives you ANY sort of affection-”. Rue said, but he was then interrupted by Sodium’s interjection. “Even a great mastiff was not in mother nature’s design. For it took man's hand to forge the dire wolf to become but a lapdog.” Rue looked up now annoyed at Sod’, but all Sod’ could do was shrug at Rue’s insulted expression. “We desire things that resemble us, Rue. That is the fault of all men, in my eyes that is.” Sod’ Said. Rue then weighed those words in his head as he finished his fag in one straight drag. The devil blew rings of smoke as he pondered the various possibilities that could come to him if he took Sod’s words to heart. A wholesome thought, as ironic as that sounds, seemed to hook within Rue’s mind at that time. A smile then, that reflected that internal peace, came across the devil’s face. He then twisted the cigar in his ashtray before speaking again. “I always liked the cut of your jib’. Perhaps then, maybe, we can fix that ‘imp internship’ clause in your original contract, Ol’ Soddy Boy.” The eased expression drained from Sodium’s face as he slowly sat up in his chair. His clasped hands now balled into a fist as he cautiously gave Rue his entire attention. The dashing devil sauntered up to the human’s desk, playing up the tried and true thematics up to 12. “I’m going to go on a long business trip to ensure that everything I’m about to offer you can fall through without a hitch. Every 3 years on this date, at this hour, however? I will return. And at every meeting? You must deliver the first born from your children, or 18 souls unrelated to your blood line. If you take the grandchildren for all 9 of your children, all those souls you gathered will be under your name, and you will achieve equal rank as I in the pits of Hell. I will also make sure that your offspring are ‘fruitful’ to ensure your prize can’t slip out of your fingers. And do not worry about any sort of compound interest, all I require is the just amount gathered before you die. Simple, no?” Despite the performance, the offer was mild at most. This realization reflected in Sod’s follow up question. “So bluntly; 12 of my living eldest future grand kids, 216 strangers, or a mix of both payment types. A tall order, for sure, but so passive compared to your previous contracts I’ve seen you conduct. What’s the stipulation with this one? What boon do you gain?” “I was waiting for you to ask that, my favorite Salty Tang’.” Rue said as he pulled out another cigar which the Devil allowed Sod’ to light it with his own lighter, just as they did for each other many times before. “All I demand then that would be a ‘boon’ to me, bluntly? Is for you to never stab my back intentionally when you get down there, otherwise you’d turn right back into my measly imp. I don’t care how high you rise, even past me, but never cross me. Easy, no?” Rue asked. Now Sod’ was the one to be perplexed as the Devil was the one that looked keener then a can of peaches. Sod’ stared as the impish fiend finished yet another long drag of their expensive cigars. “I thought devils valued souls above all else.” Sodium asked. The devil flicked this cigar bud to the floor and crushed it with a twist of his slick boot. “Monetarily? You are correct, Salt. but let me explain this to you within the one language you seem to comprehend; You can’t make profit without some substantial risk-” “Cut the crap, Roo’.” Sod’ said as the godfather lounged back in his chair. “There hast to be something more to this, Roody. Spit it out.” “...Sod’… What I said is what I said, Salt. And to make you believe me? I’ll tell you a secret I never told anyone else; this ‘old dog’ still remembers that the one thing stronger than ‘value’…. is an oath between…. Between, friends.” Rue said as he fixed his suit and offered his hand to shake. “I wasn’t always a devil, you know? So what do you say, Salty Sod’, ready to be my partner for eternity?” Sod’ stood from his chair and studied Rue’s hand, then laughed. “Roody Roo’…Weren’t we already friends?” And thus with this union cemented, it started the travesties that befallen the large and grand O’Reilly family. Child after child, the eldest grandchildren of Grandfather Sod’ were taken by one means or another. From the wealthiest merchants and noble houses, no money could be spent could protect their children. Even the lone desert dwelling King and Queen of a small kingdom within this immediate line could not protect their own eldest from this terrific fate. Rue’s claws were in far too deep within the networks, with only one goal in mind. Sod’ took every single opportunity to target his grandchildren, all to make it easier for Rue to get the paperwork and the devil transmutation ritual easier to perform when Sodium’s time was to come. All was going as planned, until it was going to be Conner’s turn. Conner being kidnapped by a mighty Black dragon and being experimented on was a twisted blessing in disguise. Conner’s soul was now corrupted with dragon’s blood which made it...’tricky’ to be used within Rue’s plans and transactions. Despite Rue’s insistence that it’d be fine, Sod’ willing broke contract to keep Rue’s neck safe from any complications. They bide their time, and not only waited for Conner’s next in line to be born, but awaited for her to blossom to her natural talents before they went to kidnap her to Hell. Rue’s argument to the contract brokers was that Conner was so corrupted with dragon blood, that the boy was no longer worthy to be counted to be within the O’Reilly line. The reason to let Kann to mature was so that she’d fill in the power void in what Conner would have provided. While that past the screening to be verified for the records, weather or not that will hold up in court if ever challenged is to be determined... BGM: Ten years after Kann enrolled into the Canes academy, Kann graduated from the collage of Elequence, and became a bard of said class. It was on her graduation day that she was announced she was sponsored by a business associate of her beloved grandfather. The next day, she was gone, vanished completely from the material plane. Conner, being a knight of Neriona, made no short effort to inform her holiness that she went missing. Neriona thought that the brother simply missed the fact that Kann was being taken care of. Conner however confirmed that she was gone due to the draconic mark placed upon her vanishing. An investigation was done, spearheaded by Conner and his own personally selected, but that search party never returned. This has been a loose thread has hung in Neriona’s mind for the past decade. All the individuals Conner selected out to aid him on his quest were sold out or entangled in Rue’s many contacts. Their false investigation lead them to the Shadowfell where Conner’s once friends beat him, disrobed him, and left him with an inch of his life. Betrayed, and abandoned in the center of the darkened wilderness, the many shadows haunted both from the land and within Conner’s mind. But dispite Rue’s ploy intending to torment Conner’s paranoid mind to travesty, Conner found the very things he needed to track him and his grandfather one day, and more. For starters, the lack of clothing and open air after nearly three decades clamped up in robes or armor allowed his dragon scarring to begin to finally begin heal. So short in a few weeks of living off the land he’d see his hands began to look more human. What magic that did pernimate in the air helped him transform back into a more presentable self. However, chance encounters with kind souls that still somehow thrived in the Shadowell ran in fear of Conner’s face. He still prefers to keep his face concealed with sacks and a cooking pot if needed. He still does not know his own reflection. The more pressing thing that Conner discovered along his travels were whispers from the Material plane. What aided in the disturbing aura of this domain was that all events that transpire within the world Conner once knew, ghostly shade like fragmentation would play out. Before the relisation of this fact, Conner was haunted by the illusion of his mother and father crying to Saint Scotty. But it was the vision of seeing Saint Neriona stress herself over his and Kann’s disappearance, before the dull duties of a ruler took higher priority, that showed him that these ghostly plays were echoes from his reality. He would follow these visions, and would find others who even collect them and store them so that they could re-watch them at their leisure. These strangers were known in other planes of existence as the Shadow Giants. These dark people resided in a landmass called “The Hole”. It is an obsidian-lined chasm that thrive off of any source of light. The magic that climates in this ditch is so pitch black that not even the RavenQueen can cast direct control. Small in stature in little light, they grow to become giant sized and larger the brighter the space they dwell in. Shadow Giants can seamlessly travel across realms, but can not grant that same gift so freely to others. They shift shapes just as a cast shadow morphs and changes. They typically pride themselves as merchants with exotic goods and their preferred currencies are Electrum, and chunks of obsidian. On one eternal night a Shadow Giant named Jason recently returned home from a fruitful endever in the Fire Planes. He dropped off his glowing spoiles of eternal magma rocks by his mother-in-laws, and went to go out to forage with his cousins to make a grand meal. That is were he saw Conner in the middle of a field, the human’s focus unwavering at a echo from the material plane. “That’s odd.” the shadow thought aloud. “A Human(?), sitting on a broken stump? Near nude in this cold howling wind. A sack firmly on his head, And yet, the human was clearly watching a wild ShadeOpera? Maybe he ran out of quarts to store it.” From Jason’s safe distance he cautiously leered at the dancing echos. He was mentally preparing himself to behold something tantalizing. But instead of an acrobatic performance that would fit this sack wearing human’s strange attire, Jason witnessed a conversation that depicted an elderly human man, and their very young and dashing adviser of sorts. The shadow man was too far away to make out the words. Jason tilted his head while scratched his partial opaque body with his cutting tools. The Shade folk knew he wouldn’t get any solutions by only observing. He gathered his botany tools and floated his way over to Conner slowly. He welcomed the human with a wave. “Hello, stranger! Nice...night, for today, yeah?” Said Jason in common, assuming the human spoke such. “. . .” Conner’s fists were clenched and trembling. His veins bulging through his scarred skin. The long fingers of the Shadowman meekly clammed up seeing this muscle bound warrior. Much like a rabbit stays stills to listen, this humble merchant remained still as this human predator remained fixated on the ShadowOpera looped before the two men. Against Jason’s better judgment, he let his hearing be distracted by what the show was saying. “Oh, and send this care-package Triticum on your way back if you may, Roody. It’ll help smother the lost of his and his sows’ calves. Heh...” Said the shade of a wheelchair bound old man. The image then handed a parcel to the tall slender figure. Both men’s pearly white teeth shined against their blacken vivage. Conner smashed his fists into his legs leaving bristers from the hit. Jason coward behind his sickle while Conner curled over and clenched his matted head. Sweat dripped from every facet from Conner’s body. His matted dirty nails dug deeper into into the tattered rag. Jason was well traveled, so seeing the distress in another humanoid was easy enough to detect. The Shade Jason was about brave enough to speak again, before Conner made sudden eye contact with them through the ransack. Though the curse across Conner’s body was being cured by the natural magic of this land, his voice and his cursed face still stood strong. He could not say what he yearned for from Jason, so he had to show it. With his bare hands Conner ripped off a part of the stump. And upon his own leg he stabbed out the lettering with his bloody stake. “Kill me.” Conner went back to clutching his hand and rocked, awaiting the darkness to come so that he could join his own sister. Yet when the pain remained, the crazed man looked up at this cowering shadow which shivering behind their own tools. Conner has not come across any blades of note. So that sickle was like finding gold to him, well, would be normally. After seeing confirmation that his grandfather not only took Kann but likely killed her already? He needed it to make this pain stop and to see his sister. Enraged that this coward wasn’t giving what Conner wanted, the man ripped off his sack exposing his draconian cursed face. The twisting blessings of this land cured the disfigurement but not the fear inducing curse. The golden hearted Jason shrieked as he dropped his foraging supplies and dove behind a nearby standing tree. Conner got what he wanted, the blade, but the yell of an innocent pierced deeper then any cut could. In his rage, the knight hurt an innocent. Though his moral compass spun on its axis at times, he was always careful not to come off as just some monster. And yet here he was… Strength swiftly left his knees and they collapsed to the misty swept grass. Conner buried his head into his sack and rocked. His sister was gone, and even if he went back, his family would likely be next by their all controlling grandfather. No one would believe him, or worse, would trust him too much just as his last group did. And the last good soul that could help him, he scared away. There was no one left. In one last attempt to end his own life, he would use his own voice. He sucked in his lungs and began to bellow out a bawl out a mournful roar. The Black Dragon’s experiments on Conner borrowed parts of his own larynx in an attempt to make an acid sack for some classic draconic breath attacks. Yet the boy was rescued before that transformation on his vocal cords was completed. Now half made, whenever Conner spoke, acid would burn him tick, by tick. Conner felt that he wasn’t worthy for the guillotine, for those are for civil men. A death by a thousand slices was more fitting end for a raving roaring hog such as himself. Jason briskly came to the conclusion that he wasn’t scared any more. He slowly slid out from behind the tree, but his mind was aimless. “That’s quite odd.” Jason thought aloud. “The second I don’t make eye contact with em’, I don’t feel them heebie jeebies anymore – oh good gracious you sounds like you’re in a mighty pain!” The dark vesper was swift to kneel down and attempted to comfort Conner. But Jason’s soothing words were dashed as acid from Conner’s spit began to spatter all across this shade. Jason skittered back, and attempted to still sooth from a distance. But nothing worked, Conner wouldn’t stop screaming. Jason stood dumbfounded for a spell just watching this stranger just wallow, and was amazed at how odd Conner was to him. In all his travels he’s never seen such a fit human look so broken. Yet that marvelment twisted back to concern as Jason saw that the acid that dribbled from Conner’s lip was burning his flesh. Jason needed to act now before permanent damage was done. Taking the blunt end of his longest greens cutter, Jason landed a solid uppercut under on Conner’s jaw. The Merchant still had their harvesting roots deep in him, and Jason never landed a cleaner slice like that before. Conner was down for the count, and took his first unconscious sleep in likely three decades. “You poor sweet sunflower, What got you all messed up?…” Jason said as he planted his tool into the ground to lean on. The Shade ogled the man to look over the damages, thankfully not much was done. Pleased with this, Jason’s attention then return to the ShadeOpera that Conner was watching before. The echo of this performance was just about to putter out, but it was looping one last time for its encore. “Maybe this is what got you down and out?” Jason asked to himself. The Shadow Giant then reached into his ransack and pulled out a spare bit of white quartz. He held the rock up to the material plane’s echo, and its message got sucked into the mineral. The white quartz turned solid black, but in it was the tragic opera that drove Conner mad, just as the sea is trapped within a conch. “Maybe when he’s up, he can tell me more about this.” Jason said aloud, before he pocketed the rock then went about in problem solving how to lug this man back home… BGM: Conner made a full recovery and awoken in the dark depths of The Hole. Any normal human would be blind in Jason’s home, but the draconic abilities from the Black Dragon’s experiments allowed Conner to get by well enough. Jason gave him the load down of where Conner was and who ran the shots here. Jason knew a bit more then the common folk given that he was an outer planer merchant, but even then he knew nothing more then the average joe. All Jason truly knew is that so long as Conner stayed here nothing can reach him. Conner still couldn’t fully trust Jason yet, for he still needed time to mentally recover his recent betrails. That said, both of them being bumpkins growing up helped sooth some what would be rocky patches. Thanks to the Shade’s well travels, the two bonded over the bullshit of life and Jason teaching Conner proper sign-language. It helped much that Jason never prodded about Conner’s past, only took care of him. Conner hates nothing more then nosey people. Civilization within The Hole was that of a normal human’s town when one got past the pure darkness. With the absence of light, the Shadow Giants’ doors were smaller then what Conner was used to, but overall this was a place where Conner genuinely could retire. But even if his aching heart was ready to call it quits, his mind kept wandering: “Why” That damn question kept rattling in his head as he walked down the obsidian carved streets. “I have the culprit, but what was Sod’s motive, and his method of taking Kann from us? From the world?...From me?” That endless restless walk and lines of questioning finally yielded results today when Conner noticed a faint glow from some Shadow Children by the side of the street. In their hands they held that softly illuminated crystal that showed what the locals dubbed a ShadeOpera. “Why does he have to die papa?” Said the illusion in the crystal, as the echo showed a young blue skinned girl and their father in middle of a torture room where a man is chained up screaming for his life. “Yeah! Scream! Hahaha!” Said the shade little boy. “I don’t think we should be watching this” Said the shade little sister. “Where did you get this anyway?” “It’s from mom’s news! We gotta watch the news to know what kingdoms are up to, otherwise we wont become good merchants like mom! These are T R A D E S E C R E T S!! You gotta know whats going on, otherwise we cant grow up as smart as mom!” Said the boy. Conner watched stoically from across the barren street as the children watched current news of the material plane through those magic rocks. That was information, about anything and anywhere, archived within this twisted world. It was always in front of him, and Conner’s dumb head was now smart enough to get it. Jason was at the kitchen island within his humble home, eating his bowl of lightbulb-os dashed with some herbs. Before Jason’s first bite, his front door was kicked down. The Shade was now staring at Conner. The barely dressed human clenched the stolen ShadeOperaQuartz in his hand, with two Shadow children crying and punching his uncovered legs trying to get their toy back from the bad man. Jason’s maw was agape as the pot wearing Conner looked blankly at him. It was then Conner remembered he needed both hands to do sign language since he was still learning. Conner balanced the quartz on top of his pot helmet so that the children couldn’t steal it back. “I need more of these, now”. Signed Conner. Jason spiked his spoon on the table in retaliation, causing all to cower to the working man’s might. “CAN’T THIS WAIT TILL AFTER MY CEREAL?!” BGM: Conner spent the next 10 years exploring the Shadowfell in search for as many echoes from the Material plane he could find. Conner’s frequent visits back to Jason’s home made him adept of using his dreconic powers to navigate with no sight, so he would be seen traveling with only pot on his head. The only other items he had on him was a ransack full of quartz, note taking supplies, a rag to make himself decent, woven sandles and an obsidian lance gifted both by Jason. The corrupted lands healed his twisted soul, and every step and every new discovery brought him closer to the truth. Soon enough he found out the depth of his grandfather’s conspiracy, the identity of Rue, and what both of them were working to do. While the found knowledge that his sister was safe soothed him, now the challenging part was finding a way to get there. Jason offered his connections and services many times before. But both out of pride and concerned for Jason’s well being Conner rejected. Conner knew he needed to forge stronger allies then just a merchant’s hand. Jason however at least convinced him that Conner will come to him when the man was ready to put his actions to save his sister into motion. One saving grace of this devil’s deal was the passing of time. The dragon’s blood that pumped in Conner’s vain kept him young, and if Conner was able to break the contract, his sister would return back to when she was taken. A part of him was wishful, hoping that maybe he could save all 11 other of his cousins too, but his main goal was his sister first and foremost. While searching for his grandfather and how to strike, Conner came across many echoes of various adventurers who could helped him. He followed many adventures through their reflections. He watched strangers mellow dramas, he watched their victories, and he watched their deaths… Many… Many deaths. The more Conner watched these flickers the more he began to see why the Shadow Giants called these echoes “ShadeOperas”. Yet in the many adventuring parties he watched over to maybe see them as future allies, there was a set group that were catching his eye in recent date. There was a halfing woman. And the memory that stuck with Conner the most was him witnessing the girl showcasing her cabins that could teleport one place to another. Conner was humbled by how resourceful she was. There was a Tabaxi woman he spotted from time to time. While some of the echoes he saw painted this wild woman in a negitive light. He was motivated seeing the huntress finally able to dig her brear claws into her once huntres and tore them limb by limb slowly. Connor would be honored if she could do that to his grandfather and his devil. Then, lastly, there was Iridium. Oh, Iridium he knew her well already. She was quite the topic to watch over the centenary back in Jason’s home. Many of the merchants made bets on when Iridium would take over her country, not if. Profits soared for the Shadow Giants on the back of Iridium’s well documented and horrific life. Conner always found it barbaric how money could blind others to their suffering. A decade of memories. A decade of watching loss. A decade of limitless tragedy displayed through the fog as shadowy paint on a bleak quartz. This is the life that Connor knew. This is the mind of Iridium too. As Conner traveled the upper levels of the Shadowfell, he detected another opera about to begin. He was quick on the draw to cast his mark upon the show, and looked and watched. He reconized the voice that spoke loud and well in this. It was a A shade of Iridium. She stands in front of a mass of faceless beings, humanoid in nature, as her face steels. Shadowy smoke, shade swords, and foggy pitchforks all point themselves towards the Queen of Sorox, yet her expression remains apathetic. “Ripper." "Murderer" "Destroyer" All words whispered through the translucent fog. Iridium kneels, showing weakness in front of the mob, but Connor could see her expression had yet to change. Behind her stood a group of people Connor had seen before. Xanyas, Lucy, and the new addition in Elio. All three of them stood near Iridium in solidarity, by her side as if they had always been there. The mob screamed, raised their weapons…but not a hint of fear appeared on the young woman's face. "I ask not for forgiveness. I ask not for mercy. I ask only that you listen to why I am this way." She speaks to the crowd in her powerful, yet soft voice. The crowd of shadows stops, and the first question is asked. "Why did you kill you're retainer!" One screamed, and a pang of anger sneaks it's way into Iridiums face. "I did no such thing." She says simply. "Liar!!!" The crowd screams, the smoke shifting from the sheer noise crafted. And the weapons get closer. "Why did you kill all those people Ripper?" Another from the crowd snarls. Iridium takes a deep breath. "Those people were the scum of our society. Check the records and you will find the only ones who died by my hand were rapists, thieves, slavers, and all manner of horrid individuals and groups who wanted nothing more than to disrupt what we have." The people immediately seemed taken back by her powerful statements. Yet, another question floated from the clouds of people. "Why the disguise!? Why not just reveal yourself?!" "Think of the stories of the boogyman our parents tell their children. Meant to encourage children to do the right thing, to be useful to society, to treat people with kindness and respect. Much like the boogyman, the guise of The Ripper encouraged people to stray away from the path of destruction. I stopped many of those who may have turned to such horrific tendencies." She spoke, her face full of determination. The crowd began to waver. "Why not abdicate the throne?!" One person shouted. "For those who were here when my mother was in rule would know why. I took the throne at a very young age, brought this country prosperity, health, and more. Before my rule, many people lived day to day, not knowing when their next meal would be. Now we have prosperous farms, wondrous merchant trade, and our country has never been safer from invaders. I took this throne to make this country a better place for all, and I have done just that. I have much more to offer this world, but I will only do that if the people of Sorox have faith in not only me, but faith in what is just." She then stands up, a powerful expression on her face. "There are those that stand against us, those that wish us death, those that stand in the world against our ideals. These people cannot be allowed to continue." The wind then picks up in the clouds of fog around Connor, and the shadows of the people fade. What Connor noticed immediately is warmth in the wind, something he had not felt in the Shadowfell. The fog seemed ever so slightly brighter, the dark sky just a little more welcoming, and Iridium standing at the top of her castle. This shadow of her seemed more tangible, as if something in the fog was watching, broadcasting. Her finger glided absentmindedly along a railing high above an endless drop Connor couldn't see the bottom of. "Why must they always die?" She spoke softly, her white hair glistening in what appeared to be soft moonlight. Her other hand, clutching a piece of clothing of her recently dead retainer's clothing, opens up and lets the piece float into the wind. "At least I still have Xanyas and Lucy…for now." She then turns around, and Connor sees tears welling up in her eyes before the tangible shade fades into nothingness. Despite her perceived apathy over the past two weeks, it seems not all of her emotions have faded. Conner stood in that warming fog, white quartz in hand. He was unable to capture that performance to be preserved but yet every moment was singed deep within his mind. He clenched the crystal until it began to crack. “My heart… It screams. It’s screaming at me to find you. Not just because you might have the power and friends to help me. But I can’t let a head of a group of any size – a kingdom to a family - have a leader grow heartless in time. You bring change, Iridium. I want to help you open your damn eyes. For the sake of your people, Iridium I will find you. I swear it on Neriona’s name!”