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She kept a record of how many days they have spent here in Evermore. Ever since they set foot in the house given to them to reside in, Astraea has been trying to note how many changes have occurred over the time, just so she could highlight the differences in everything. At some point, she grew frustrated when she realized they were nowhere close to finding a clue, much less an answer to why the door was closed on them. She was worried for those who were still in the Veil, and remembered falling into the dark when she was in the Void. It felt like an eternity until she finally woke up in the meadow, surrounded by dirt and grass. That was months ago and it has been a long while since they have created a life here.
The aurazin even got herself a job, but that didn't mean she stopped searching for ways to return to their rightful home. Astraea didn't have any shifts today as it was the weekend, usually she would go to the library and spend her regular Saturday reading up on something. But not today. The dark haired female got up from her bed after brushing her hair using the comb, taking the book where she wrote down her mindless theories with her before making her way to the kitchen. Sometimes, the house would be busy with the others but most of the time, they minded their own business. A few weeks ago, Astraea told Lucien what she believed was happening in the city. It was something she noticed because she goes over the city everyday to work and therefore, gave her more sights to pay attention to. Voidlings. Together, the two of them decided to go and check the meadow where the passageway to the Veil was at, today.
While she was halfway filling out a glass of water, the aurazin noticed a familiar silhouette standing by the counter; Lucien. "Are we still good to go for today? But are you sure it's fine with just the two of us? What if we come across something?" She was not scared, but rather more worried to see what they'd find. They already had theories and this would just be them seeking confirmation in order to move onto the next step. A part of her understood why Luke decided to keep this a secret from others though, until they know better about what they're facing, it's better to keep things under wraps. The last thing they wanted to do is provoke unnecessary panic within their ranks.
Lucien stared out of his office window as he always did in the mornings when most of the lodge was still asleep and he was awake, waiting for the sun to take over the moon's place. The darkness of the night was soon replaced by that of the star's light, bursting over the prairies' hills and rushing across the short grass that seemed to stretch endlessly over the landscape. Truly it did look much like the veil and it was a reminder to him that he had to keep going. He could never give up on trying to find a way for him and his kind to get back to their home and their rightful place. Though it had been some time since their arrival to Earth where many of them had started to become accustomed to this new life, Luke wasn't going to give up.
Grabbing his cup of tea, the sentry walked through the silent hallways until reaching the kitchen, seeing a familiar petite girl with her back to him. He leaned against the counter and watched her thoughtfully as she poured herself a drink. The task they were heading out on today had him worrying all of last night, making it nearly impossible to get any rest at all. Lucien lifted the infuser from the mug and set it into one of the sinks as her question filled the space and broke the quiet. Lucien turned to face her and nodded shortly. Despite his concern for what they might find today, he was also determined that this could be some answers they were looking for. The Aurazin had been so completely in the dark about why they'd been cast from their home and though what Astraea had told him was troubling, it was something from their world that they hadn't seen since the fall.
Voidlings roaming Evermore was something Lucien never expected. However, if the portals that had tossed his people to Earth were opening again, perhaps it was a way home too. For now they needed to deal with what was more important. If the creatures from the void were somehow walking Earth, it could be catastrophic to humans and possibly supernaturals alike. There was only one way to find out and Luke gave her a small, but reassuring smile. "We'll just observe from afar. Make sure it's safe before proceeding." Lucien had asked a few of the Aurazin to visit the forest area from time to time where he and a others had fallen in Evermore. They were lucky enough to have a few of them fall to this world so close to where they were living now that Luke had always wanted to keep surveillance of any other activity that might occur in that same wooded territory.
Taking a sip of his tea, he knew whatever they were going to find, it couldn't be good. Lucien trusted his people enough to know that if they saw or felt anything like a voidling in this world, they were probably right. He was thankful that Astraea had indeed kept this new information quiet from the others. He didn't want to bring them bad news without getting more information first. "I don't want to assume anything till we see or feel something ourselves, but for now," he pulled a set of keys from his pocket and lifted them to her. He'd never could get the hang of something that was so mundane to others. "You're driving."
Astraea has been thinking about this over and over again, but still she wasn't able to come to a conclusion with the best option available for them. What's the best way to approach this? Should they really be going off impulsively like this without any backup? Without anyone knowing where they were even headed to, in the first place? Was that wise? She had so many questions that remained unanswered. But still, Astraea would choose to believe Lucien any day, so there's that for loyalty points coming from her. Besides, what could go wrong, right? What's the worst that could happen? Either way, they had to get to the bottom of this and if they didn't go check to clarify this, then who would?
"Make sure it's safe before proceeding? Should I be asking you what is your definition of… observing?" She raised her eyebrows skeptically and shook her head, this wouldn't be the first time she has sounded her suspicions and doubts. It wouldn't be the last time either. She has been a shepherd for quite some time, lesser than she has been an empath but regardless, she knew how to detect the rough signs of it hence why she brought it up to Lucien that day. Working in the inner sector of the city gives her the added advantage to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity happening. Nothing was out of the ordinary, unless she counted the amount of people being extremely negative lately. Too much is too unnatural.
She placed her glass on the counter and caught the keys with her left hand, looking at it weirdly before dangling it in front of her, "Really? You know I don't have a driver's license, right? Is this legal? To drive without one?" Admittedly, the chances of people actually stopping them to check her for a license is not really high considering where they're going. But still, Astraea was still learning the rules of the place. "Arcadia is going to kill me if she finds out I'm doing this… just so we're clear… nobody knows about this, right?" The blonde would really lecture her over this, and driving without a license, that too.
Lucien silently stared at the keys in her hand and then up to her eyes before making a frustrated sigh. "Well, I can't very well get you in trouble with Arcadia, now can I?" He took the keys from Astraea again and gave a nervous chuckle. What he wouldn't give to just jump on a horse and go the slower way. At least he would feel like he had some control over his life then. Those metal machines were death traps in his opinion. His heart rate quickened as he stepped outside on the front porch of the home and stared at one of the gifted vehicles they were given by the Ailwards, pushing the electronic button on the ring to unlock its doors. Silently, the sentry steeled himself before straightening up. He had more nerves fighting in a war than he did staring at this technology. "Right. Off we go."
Pulling slowly away from the lodge and onto the dirt road felt like losing his lifeline. He'd checked his mirrors about fifty times while his knuckles were nearly white from gripping the wheel so hard. He needed a distraction to stop overthinking how at any moment he felt like the car would gain a mind of its own and run them over the cliff. "So, tell me more about what you're seeing in the city?" She had mentioned before the sudden change in people's moods and though Luke would've liked to attribute that with just the way people were at times, the mention of their auras was what made him think otherwise. The quick shifts in their hues as if one moment they were perfectly fine and even happy to the sudden drain of emotion, leading to anger and depression. That was cause for concern.
He cautiously fumbled with the map in his pocket while keeping his eyes on the road. Thankfully there was hardly anyone driving which was a relief, seeing as he was well under ten miles per hour under the speed limit. Handing the paper over to Astraea, he nodded towards the circled areas on the map. "These were some of the strange sightings people had around Evermore. From what I gather, if... they are voidlings, on the Earthen realm they can't be seen like in the void. They are only visible once they begin feeding on someone's soul." He couldn't imagine what differences might present themselves from being on two different realms for the voidlings, but it was concerning that they could feed on the living as they did on the dead.
Luke turned down another path that was in Therian territory before parking the car. Where they had to go, no car could access. He stepped out and stared at that car with some appreciation that they'd made it to their destination alive before letting his eyes wander the forest. They had a bit of a walk ahead of them, but Lucien remembered every step there as if he and some of his kind had fallen only yesterday. They didn't know what may lay ahead, but it was important they get to the bottom of it for a number of reasons. He looked over to Astraea and gave a nod. "Ready?"
She shook her head as if to affirm the situation by saying no, "Nope, if Arcadia finds out I do this or that, I can't be complicit anymore and let's be real, Luke, it's not easy to find people to partner up with and expect them to keep their lips sealed, lest you threaten them which we both know wouldn't really happen" Lucien has been a good navigator and leader for the aurazin but no matter how stern one could be, threats are not really applicable or tolerated in their household. It keeps everyone with a respectable front and that never ends badly. At the end of the day, every single individual living in that place is family. To be fair, it was funny seeing how gobsmacked Lucien looked when staring at the technology before him, it looked new to him, she imagined. "You've never been on earth ever since you became an aurazin, or have you?" As far as she's concerned, he has been a Shepherd the entire time when he joined them. But she didn't pay attention to everyone so who knows if he tried being an Empath once?
"Calm down, you're going to end up breaking the wheel before we're even halfway there" she pointed out and patted his arm a few times lightly, it was like seeing a younger sister trying to help the elder brother drive after he's been in a coma for decades. She pursed her lips slightly and let out a heaved sigh, "I'll drive on our way back. Just don't tell Arcadia." Astraea was generally a fast learner and since she was one of the first who went out to find information, going as far as to get herself a job in the city, driving is the least she could do. "The cafe I worked at is located in the lonely part of the city. It's not that quiet but it's not as bustling as the main streets. I mean admittedly, I nearly became one of the victims on my third night had I not been saved by my friend. Some of the people I've met didn't turn up for a few days and when they did, I noticed there was something off about their aura."
As an aurazin, to be able to sense if voidlings were there was already a natural ability, but it was a lot trickier since they're on earth now. The problem is how do they get rid of them without attracting attention and not harming the vessel they occupied. Because those are real people. When he gave her a map, she scanned the spots he marked carefully and scrunched her eyebrows, "Some of these places have high density… It's a busy place. People come and go every hour. How are we ever going to lure them into a trap? It won't be easy… they can easily lose us in the crowds." But at least the first location is in the woods, that would be easier. "Ready as I'll ever be…" she beckoned for him to lead the way and trailed closely from behind as she folded the map and placed it in her inner pocket.
Lucien began the walk ahead and tried to prepare himself for whatever it was they would encounter. Sure, he'd been a skilled combatant when it came to fighting voidlings in the actual void, but here on Earth was completely different. They had no idea what to expect now. He wondered if that meant their abilities as Aurazin would even be effective against them. None of them ever had reason to think they would need to know if it was possible until these strange sightings began. Still, Luke was going to do whatever it took to figure out what was going on and it couldn't be a coincidence that their fall wasn't linked to the voidlings appearing here as well.
The sentry listened intently to Astraea. She brought up all good points and questions he didn't have the answers to yet. "If we can avoid it, I don't plan on going into the city unprepared for what we may face. You know as well as I do how dangerous voidlings can be. Their insatiable appetite in the void on wandering souls that have passed is frightful, but living souls on Earth, I shudder to think what they will become or what will become of the humans they attempt to take as vessels. I fear there is only one way to find out in the end." Lucien didn't finish what that really entailed, but he had the feeling Astraea would understand his meaning. This was all brand new to them and the only way of knowing what they were up against would be to engage.
The woods were quiet as they should be. Their walk was uneventful and in a way he supposed that would be good on any other day, but not when they were in need of the chaos they were in search of. His blue eyes scanned the brightened forest, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. It was a beautiful place here in Evermore. The last time he was here with some of his kin, he did not take into appreciation just how serene it was after the jarring expulsion from the veil.
"Here," Luke quietly said, pointing to a spot that opened up from the tree line and into a meadow. "This is where a few of us landed." His hues surveyed the area carefully, but it was still quiet. "I suppose we wait now. Let's stay out of sight."
The time passed slowly as the pair remained behind the trees and it gave him too much time to think. He was always concerned that he wasn't doing enough for his people in order to get them back to their home, but this was the biggest lead he'd had since arriving to Earth. It had to produce some answers.
A sudden crackling sound caught his attention and it immediately pulled him from his thoughts. He straightened up a bit and looked to Astraea for a moment, nodding to her to be ready. Peeking from behind the tree, the air shifted and a rip opened up in the space where it was nothing but blackness on the other side. The void. He knew it instantly as it was more his second home than Earth was. Moments later two voidlings appeared in the same spot where he'd fallen what seemed so long ago before the portal closed and disappeared.
Lucien instinctively pulled upon his powers and the familiar glow of his species emitted over his entire being. He waited until the creatures moved passed them unnoticed before unleashing the built up energy he conjured inside him. The bright light surged forward and hit one of the voidlings directly in the back, knocking the monster to the ground. It's high-pitched cry rang through the quiet wood and it's liquid like skin burned away and fell to the ground where it was hit. "Well, that's certainly good news." The sentry looked again to Astraea with more confidence and another nod to call up her powers. It was good to feel a sense of purpose again, even in the fighting.
Honestly, nothing could’ve prepared her for what they may encounter. Astraea would be lying if she said she wasn’t even a little bit shaken by the fact that they would encounter voidlings inhabiting another’s body because, at the end of the day, they are just vessels. “I know those things can only manipulate and use a person’s body as a vessel only if they are being plagued by negativity in the first place but it is still unfortunate.” Because one way or another, the last thing she wanted to do was hurt them. It wasn’t easy to dispel those bad spirits, it takes heavy precision. “Besides… how are we supposed to even fight them when they’re inhabiting another’s body?” Was it even possible to do that without landing a hit on the physical?
“We’re not exactly… like those exorcists. It’s not exactly an easy procedure to be doing that either” all this time, a way to defeat the voidlings was to use their glow and of course, asserting the skills that they have learned. It’s much like how others protect their own respectively. “Also, we’ve been calling those dwellers voidlings for as long as I could remember, how come we never have a name for them? Wraiths sounded cool…” She might have watched a few shows during their stay there but it was to be expected, especially for Astraea who likes to discover new things. The meadow they landed the first time was a large space, but obviously, it didn’t fit the serene outlook, one look at the place and some may already realize how ominous the readings were. “I heard a few Ailward guards came here… Did they find anything?”
She crouched down next to Lucien and eyed the clearing, thankfully the bushes there were not as sharp as the ones she landed in. “I landed just across the field… apparently people planted roses there so you can imagine how the thorns greeted me” she muttered and rubbed her shin as if she was reminiscing about the pain. As time passed, the aurazin wondered if they were going to find anything at all, until something caught her attention and she wasn’t the only one to notice it either. Lucien did too. She felt uncomfortable seeing space ripped into the all too familiar dark end, “How come they get to do that here… I thought both sides were closed? Luke, what’s going on? How did they get to come here?” Confusion would be an understatement right now, and clearly, she was a bit taken aback by the new revelation.
He was the first to attack them and with one crumpling in pain on the ground, she nodded in return before willing the glow to take up her entire body and send a swift hit towards the other one who was in momentary shock. Before it could register what was going on, it was too late because both she and him had already made their way nearer. “I’m guessing an interrogation is needed” she mused and noticed the slightly charred body wiggling in pain if they could even call it one. “These are not the only ones… I’m sure they’re not the first to come using that. And they won’t be the last either… Do you want me to subdue them?” Being an aurazin meant they had the energy that only they were bestowed upon, to take on the voidlings. That meant they could infuse anything with their energy to bind them. Astraea, in particular, always carried some type of rope that was charmed, one she used to hunt them back in the void if they tried to escape.
"Interrogation." Lucien scoffed sarcastically with a smirk, staring down at the creatures they had just caught in the surprise attack. He knelt next to them as they writhed in pain, but they seemed no different than the mindless monsters he had been dealing with for centuries in the void. All they cared about was devouring the souls of the lost. All it ever meant to them was survival. How in the world were they able to travel through realms? They had no capacity for magic or anything else that went beyond feeding and killing anything in their path that would disrupt that. It made no sense.
He continued studying the voidlings as his fellow Aurazin bound them after he nodded with confirmation to do so. "These places in which they are appearing around Evermore are most certainly like the portal we just saw here. We'll need to get some of the others to watch over them constantly. The Ailwards must be informed as well. We'll need the help of the Guard since there are only so many of us." Luke noticed almost instantly that despite the injuries they had just caused the two voidlings, their bodies seemed to be decaying faster, giving confirmation of what they thought before that Earth was not a suitable place for them unless they fed on a person's soul or took control of their bodies. "Perhaps we Aurazin are able to see them when humans and most of the other supernaturals cannot."
Luke stood and sighed out, turning to look at the spot where the two creatures had appeared. "Someone else must be in control over this. Using the voidlings for something, but what? Who would have the power to do this?" His arms folded over his chest in thought as he looked back to Astraea. "Another Aurazin, which I hate to think, either in the veil of here. Someone on the Ailwards that knew about us.. I don't want to admit it, but Venetus seems like a likely suspect as welcoming and seemingly helpful as he's been like the rest of the Ailwards." The pacing began next. Lucien wanted a better explanation for who was behind this. One that didn't involve the very people who had been there for him and his kind since the beginning. "A diviner? At least an incredibly powerful one."
Even with more evidence before them, it only increased the amount of questions he had rather than answers. Then an idea occurred to him. An idea he wasn't exactly excited about as he glanced to the bound voidlings that continued to wither away. "We can't get much information from them like this, but what about when they take on a host? Maybe then we could get some answers. I wouldn't want to use anyone as bait that didn't agree to it though. Perhaps someone on the Guard..." His mind began to work faster then as the idea took root, thinking back to the Guards who might be suitable. What was that broody brute's name again?
Lucien made himself stop and look to Astraea then. He needed to reel himself in. "What are you thinking?"
She wouldn’t usually resort to that but obviously, the kind of people, if they could even describe them like that, are not the ones you can just ask nicely and hope they’ll answer. “To be fair, we are inherently good creatures… but towards humans maybe, or other living beings, these things, they’re not exactly under that category, no?” Voidlings are everything that is bad in this realm or the other, they’re evil spirits for a reason. “Do you think each place connects to something? It can’t be random, the voidlings and mindless but they’re not exactly stupid… they’re cunning. They wouldn’t pick these spots off a map randomly, there must be something more in the works here.” She realized this has become bigger than just them being locked out of their homes, what happened on the other side? Nobody knows, not her, and not Lucien either. “Someone is playing god right now and I want to know why… whoever they are, they’re planning something. First, locking us out? Then, opening multiple portals in one city? This is definitely not a normal occurrence, it’s not natural, Luke.”
There’s a reason why the voidlings are dangerous if left unchecked, they could come terrorizing this realm and only they could see their true forms, the others cannot so even the Ailward guards wouldn’t be able to identify which is which unless they have an aurazin to guide. “The fact that they opened multiple ones here in Evermore, of all places… it’s going to be ground zero for some reason. Perhaps because the ley lines are strong? Evermore is undoubtedly a magical city but it’s not the most special…” Astraea bit her inner cheek when he suggested there is a mole between them, “You can’t possibly think it’s one of us? How could that be? We have no reason to act on our own personal gains…” she mumbled, but she couldn’t rule that one out either, though to say she’s hurt would be an understatement. When he suspected Venetus, that’s when she bit her lip instinctively, “The Aspect of Realms? Are you sure?” They have every reason to be wary right now, and the thought of someone so close to them would plan this was making her stomach churn.
“A diviner could be true, but I doubt it’s the work of one person, or maybe there is one mastermind amidst all of this, however, no one could pull this off on their own without anything or anyone to help them. We’re talking about the Veil and the Void here, those alone are two different realms, including this one would be three. They must have an extreme amount of energy and power to be doing this and keeping it up for months.” The aurazin was also raking her head, trying to find who would be suitable enough to contain a voidling as a vessel. “We only need one of them, right? We can send the other one back to where it belongs… the void” she narrowed her eyes at the other one, still writhing in pain. “A Guard would be more helpful, they’d be more willing to help… I think. As helpful as a person willing to get possessed momentarily anyhow. Better if they’re strong too. I know a few of them in the Guard, I mean… I’ve talked and visited them a few times with peace offerings.” It was hard not to like Astraea, with her physical appearance playing the role of an innocent naivete, and good personality, there’s not much to suspect, especially when she’s an aurazin, someone who is advertised to be inherently good. “I can get them to come here… I don’t think we can really drag them without hurting them even more than we already did…”
With every question he spoke into existence, Astraea returned with more thoughtful notes. He was glad to have her by his side then. Being here on the Earthen realm had really spun him and finding a focal point to center on so he wouldn't collapse was hard at times. He needed to remind himself that his fellow Aurazin were just as willing to help find answers to their expulsion as he was, including whatever came with that. His eyes moved down to the voidlings then as the mystery of their situation only seemed to grow more complicated. Luke took all her questions and points and catalouged them in the files of his labyrinthine brain. Seeing the creatures bound gave him some sense of hope that they were a step closer at least. They needed the answers and though he wasn't keen on letting one of them inhabit a living soul, this was the best lead they had as of now. "Yes, let's call the manor and see if we can get a Guard here. There is one in particular I think might be suited for this."
Twenty minutes or so later, the sound of an approaching vehicle broke the mostly silence around them. The driver parked and exited the truck, coming towards them with a confused sort of look. Dominic. That was his name. Lucien shook the Guard's hand and thanked him for volunteering for what they hoped to accomplish, giving all the details that he could about what it might be like once the voidling latched onto someone else. Luke had remembered seeing the man around the Ailward manor and of course first noticed his stature, but that he seemed to always be far off; his mind occupied with something that was causing him great grief. Lucien discerned Dominic had tried hiding it mostly from everyone, but it wasn't exactly easy to mask your true emotions from an Aurazin. The voidling should find the Guard tempting as a host and it wasn't as if there were many options around it could take on then, especially when it was dying right in front of them from a lack of feeding. Luke just hoped the Guard's strength would not only be in the obvious physical, but mentally too.
Lucien nodded to Astraea to release the creature and it desperately latched onto Dominic. Like a parasite, the voidling melded into the man's body in a manner of a second, and he could instantly see the change in the Guard's mood. The voidling didn't even attempt at trying to escape with its new host as its energy was too low from their previous attack on it, but once it did suck the life force enough from Dominic, it tried its luck. Lucien quickly created a glowing forcefield of power that blocked its path from going any further. He looked to Astraea as well to be prepared in case it tried to attack them. Dominic's face seemed dark and murderous then and the voidling no doubt felt how powerful its new host was.
"How are you moving between realms?" Lucien asked, keeping the barrier up to ground Dominic to the spot. It was extremely difficult to do and he knew he wouldn't be able to do it continuously. The voidlings were definitely more powerful once they took on a host and this changed everything. As creatures in the void they were easy to dispose of, but here it was not the same. Dominic pushed against the block and completely ignored Lucien. "Tell me."
A stream of blood trickled from Dominic's nose then as he looked to Lucien in a rage. "No."
The Aurazin bent the glowing field around Dominic to make the creature even more helpless. "Tell me now!"
Agony showed on Dominic's face. Lucien wasn't sure how far he should really push this, but they had to try. "P-Portals." His greyish blue hues zeroed in at the strained response. He closed the field even further around the Guard. Dominic groaned in response. "Magic. Man." Lucien looked to Astraea as the next words were hissed out. Magic man. A diviner?
"Who? Give me his name. Dominic, if you can hear me, fight against it!" The Guard gave one last effort against the field of energy Luke held and with a animalistic growl, the glowing energy was broken. The blowback sent him backwards and tumbling across the ground as Dominic then set his sights on Astraea.