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The night after killing the Ijiraq Aria felt lost. She hadn't killed it on her own, she had no idea how to explain it to Father Stone, and had not reported it to him. She prayed he did not find out. But she knew one day it would happen. How does one create enough fire to turn the mist to ash? Or how to freeze it solid enough to sever it's head? Those were the two questions she had and there were no answers in any of the books in Moscow.

There was one book still left listed in the Monster A-Z reference book - The Journal of Elenora Martello. But it was not in Moscow, there could be only one other place she could easily find it, Atharim Headquarters in Vatacin City. Home!

It was hard to believe she thought of that dreadful room as home, but it was something she longed for. It was far better than the bliss of tonight's journey through neighbor hell. Aria drowned herself in the depths of her bathtub wishing for the dark damp cement walls she had called home. But that was a far off dream. She was here in Moscow, and for some reason she didn't really want to go back to the way it was before. Freedom had grown on her.

But she needed that book. It was the last resort if there was any more Ijiraq hiding in Moscow, and with the number of power weilding folks that seemed to permeate this god forsaken city, the Ijiraq had plenty of food. She wasn't about to reveal that fact yet, but finding a way to kill it was top of her list. It was a unique challenge, and one she intended to be victor over.

So the next morning Aria packed a small bag, her guns and swords in another and hopped a train to Vatican City. Aria thought it might be time to learn to drive or to risk being confined on an airplane without anywhere to go. The latter did not merit more than a cursory thought. Flying was not an option.


It was a long trip and Aria hesitated doing into the building she use to call home. But the library awaited. The moment she stepped in the feelings of home set in. The solitude and the closeness to god was felt all around. It was like that in the city too, but not as much with more people so close together. Priest and Nuns wandered the halls, giving Aria only a glance before hurrying on their way. If they recognized her, none showed it, and if they did they hurried to be far from her.

She walked the halls for what seemed like hours, just remembering the years that had gone on in these walls. It was good and sad all at the same time. Aria had passed the library several times before she opened the great door that lead into the stacks of books far beneath the city streets. It smelled just like she remembered, and it felt glorious to be in the comforts of home. She hadn't expected it to feel quite so warm and welcoming.

Others of the Atharim were wandering the aisles, some carrying books, others studying the shelves. Aria went straight to a table and put bags down in a chair. Then went for the card catalog. It was an archaic system, but it was what they had. No one really had the time to do the mundane task of re-cataloging it all, so it remained the same.

The card catalog was no help, the book was not listed. Aria sighed.

A man stood behind her, he was guarding his emotions and Aria turned to find Father Dimitri standing there with a wide grin on his face.

Aria glared at him. "You lie to me and expect me to be happy to see you?"

The smile faded and he shook his head, "You read things you should not."

Aria laughed, "Father Stone said I do not need a handler and handed me your little note and box. Thanks for that by the way." The sarcasm in Aria's voice was nearly a jab in the eye. She despised that box with a passion.

Father Dimitri frowned but was soon back to his regular self, calm, cool and collected, like every Priest should be. "What are you doing here?"

She thanked the Lord he wanted to get this over with as much as she did. "I'm looking for the Journal of Elenora Martello."

He raised an eyebrow but shown no other recognition of the book. "How did you hear about that book?"

"It's in a reference book I found in Moscow, that lists books by creature." It was a fact.

He nodded and smiled. "I suppose it's time you gained your rightful place."

Aria was confused as he continued on, "Follow me, I will take you there."

Father Dimitri turned and waded down the aisles of books to a vault that very few had access too. "This is the family tome's. Most of our hunters are chosen from their family's, hunters who have been hunters for generations. Your mother was one such hunter, and so are you. But until now, you were too fragile to be given access to these. I still doubt your resilience in things, but you have earned your right to the tomes."

He walked into the vault indicating she should stay out. He disappeared into the depths but returned with a stack of books. "Some have been lost over the generations to hunters who have never returned. Your mother's journal is in here, as is the book you seek. Good hunting my little song."

Aria grimaced but took the things from him. Everything about this man grated at her now. He lied to her. She was not his little song. "Can I use my old room?"

Father Dimitri nodded, "No one has taken up it's space you are free to use it while you stay."

Aria nodded, "I'll only be using it for a short time." Aria had no intention of staying more than she had to.


Aria opened the door to the place that she had once called home, nothing had changed. The light was dim and flickered every so often. It smelled damp and danker than usual but only for lack of use. It brought back memories, and not all so good.

Aria set the journals on the table in her old room and picked up the journal. She flipped the cover and a piece of paper fell out. She picked it up and started to read the hand written note.

"Dear Aria,"

That made her pause and look to the bottom of the letter.

"With Love, Always with you. Autunna Luna, your mother."

She was shocked by the revelation. She read the letter from the beginning.

"Dear Aria,

This is a journal that has been in our family since it has been written. It is the journal from the end of the Age of Escape, the sixth age, the age that came before in the great wheel that shapes the pattern of time. It is our legacy and our future to keep these volumes for future generations. The Atharim, has come from great roots and we just keep this knowledge in the hopes that our grandchildren's grandchildren will be safe from those that would call themselves Gods.

This journal and the other journals in this collection are our families legacy. You, my child who follows in my footsteps must keep with the tradition, catalog your adventures, pass them all down to your child who follows. I fear that I will not be able to raise you, the Atharim hunts me. I fear that Dimitri will soon find us and I will not be able to impart these words to you.

You are born of legacy. I wish I could be there for you my child. It is with sad regret that I write this. I was coerced by the man I was to hunt and kill. Instead I fell in love with the foul creature. But not by choice, it was his power I know now that made me love him. But it is with deep regret that you are a child of a Sentient. I do hope that the genes are not passed down to you, so that you may continue with the legacy. I fear for you my child. Take care and be safe. Learn well and take up the helm for our family, or I will be the last in a very long line of hunters.

With Love, Always with you. Autunna Luna, your mother."

Aria sat down on the edge of her bed in though. Sentient... The word rang so many bells in her head. So many things gone wrong with her life. Fury rose in her mind. Father Dimitri had to have known, at least suspected what the possibilities were. She wasn't sure if she should run and hide or confront him with this revelation. But the fury didn't allow for the former, Aria got up and took the letter with her and stormed out of her room to Father Dimitri's office.
Beneath the streets of the Vatican many secrets of the church were hidden away. At present, the flesh and blood that embodied many of those secrets were speaking quietly together in the coolness of one small office. The first man was seated behind a desk that he called his own. He had a distant dignity about him, his mind filled with knowledge most of his brethren in the gilded hallways above the surface would find inane. He was serving as host to the second man, who was, strangely enough, not himself a priest, yet the one who was very obviously deferred almost more than he would to the Holy Father, the head of the Catholic Church itself.

That second individual was of course, Armande Nicodemus, Regus of the Vatican Historical Society, and its secret enclave, the Atharim. Armande sat in the uncomfortable, stiff arms of a wooden chair. The layers of black cassock fell from legs crossed one over the other. His hands were laid on his lap, and the dignity by which Father Dmitry considered their present focus of attentions was but as a whimpering child in comparison to the marble-like hardness of the Regus' expression.

Armande touched the play emblem on a Wallet pushed to center of the desk between them. Immediately, a video was unscrambled and projected for both men to see. He watched, for the second time this day, a video of an abomination proclaim himself their enemy. Dmitry paled at the revelation. He did not take the news as well as the Pope.

"If this is true," Dmitry said quietly as the video dimmed and finally paused, the face of Nikolai Brandon was contorted with quiet rage. "then it means the end. Everything the Atharim has sought to prevent will be but for naught."

The Regus cut him off, correcting him with a sharp tone, "It is an ending, Father Dmitry, not the end. So long as I draw breath in my body, I will not allow it to be the end."

Noise in the hall drew both their attention. Armande glanced casually over one shoulder and into the corridor beyond. The door had not been fully closed. The wisp of a girl passed into his view, and he turned back to Father Dmitry. "Tell her to come in," he ordered. Father Dmitry seemed surprised, but bowed his head to obey.

"Aria, come in," he said.
Aria hadn't expected Dimitri to be in a meeting so soon after dismissing her. She must have interrupted his return to his office or it had been longer than she assumed. Inside the formidable office of her childhood sat the one very people who should not ever know what the letter contained. EVER!

Fury turned to panic and the panic to fear as Dimitri called her into his office. Aria hesitated. She could come back later, she should come back later. As if nothing had changed in the past few months, Aria felt like the sixteen year old girl who had first started her initiation.

Aria grasped both her hands together and crumpled the letter into them, hoping to hide it from all who were present. She took a deep breath and walked into the room. She did not close the door behind her, to do so would to not allow for a quick exit if things were to turn badly.

Aria dropped a curtsy however clunky it was when not in a dress to the men before her. "Yes Father."
The words were tinged with the past fury. She was still angry at him. And as she thought about it more, the more the fury rose inside her.

Father Dimitri sat calmly behind his desk. "Where are your gloves child?"

Of all the things he would ask her he had to ask that first. Aria took a deep breath and nearly choked on her first words. She calmed herself and spoke clearly as it had been in grained in her. "A cooling Bannik melted my sword as I took it's head. The heat melted the sword, and the gloves were the only thing that save my hands from worse. I cannot find a decent glover in Moscow to replace them."
Aria held up the palms of her hand to show what remained of the scars, the faint decoration from her sword forever burned into her skin. The crumbled letter held between her thumb and forefinger.

Father Dimitri nodded and Aria let go of the breath she had not realized she was holding. He got up from his seat and took the paper from her hands. "What is this child? The reason for with you interrupt our meeting?"

Aria's heart sank as he pulled the letter from her hand. She didn't try to grab the letter back, it was undignified behavior. She wanted to move away, to get away before he read the letter. Aria could see the recognition on his face as he read the letter. He stared back at her with what Aria knew was fear and concern and sympathy, no pity. Aria could feel the pity as clean as day. Aria watched as Father Dimitri returned to his seat. He set the crumbled letter on the table and stared at Aria, daring her to ask the question she had come for.

It could be just as devastating for him as it was for her. The silence grew thick and Aria's heart raced. Fear permeated the air, Fear this strong was traceable by any Furia, but in that instant she knew she was not Furia, but sentient, the smell of fear did not penetrate her nose. It was fear she felt.

Edited by Aria, Apr 4 2014, 12:35 PM.
A strong, calloused hand floated above the desk and pulled the letter toward him. The paper had the scent of age about it, but of recent aging rather than the aroma of antiquity. Pale blue eyes streamed across the words, but beyond the blase consumption of their contents, Armande was otherwise unmoved by the revelation.

He returned the letter to Dmitri's possession. It was his, if it belonged to anyone, to disseminate as he wished. Armande turned in his seat and regarded the young warrior herself.

She was changed since their brief encounter upon her arrival in Moscow. She was still shy and diminutive before her betters, but at least she held herself with more confidence.

"For your sake, Sentient, I hope you do not make the same grievous lapse in judgement that your mother did, and betray the legacy she so hypocritically described." An Atharim, bestowed with extraordinary senses, sent to track a monster, only to fail; worse yet, bear that monster a child. "By Atharim law, you should have been drowned the moment you left the womb. Pray this office made the right decision in letting you live. There will be no hesitation should I have reason to regret it."

Decree uttered, the Regus gave her race no additional thought. Instead, he led her by gaze toward that of the video still paused upon the blood-soaked face of Nikolai Brandon as though he'd intended for her to interrupt them at this very moment.

He watched her expression for hints of recognition, but addressed Dmitri instead, and effectively spoke over her. "Miss Piccolo is the one that translated the ouroboros page of the Voynich Manuscript. 'The end of days are marked with fear and confusion, panic and destruction,' as she said." The tone in his voice shifted from thoughtful to commanding. "Play her the video from the beginning."

As Dmitri reset the recording, Armande beckoned Aria to come and stand at his side to see and hear more closely images of what her senses knew to herald. "What was the word you kept using to describe Apollyon? Slain, yes? Watch this and tell me if you see the slain ouroboros as Voynich proclaimed." There was a hint of patience in the order. She was the infant he was attempting to cull into a warrior, a true warrior, one cold enough to slay Apollyon, and sensitive enough to know the Destructor's presence when she was in it. Assuming she was sharp enough to recognize him.
Aria had not expected the reaction she had gotten from the Regus. Anger never rose, but she could feel the contempt for her kind when he called her one. She knew he meant what he said, if he only knew the things she had not done. Everything could be conspired to be a betrayal of the Atharim.

But Aria would not kill a man just because he wielded powers he knew nothing about. But as her attention was directed to what she had interrupted she saw Ascendancy in clear form on the screens in front of them.

The Regus spoke to Father Dimitri and the video started back at the beginning. The question from the Regus was nearly lost in the video's sound and the horror that was displayed on the screen. Ascendancy was Apollyon? Aria nodded to the question, afraid her words would betray her.

Aria did not believe the tattoo was actually the one into which the manuscript mentioned. But the icon was the same as the page she had viewed. It was definitely the same one. But it was time itself that the prophecy indicated as slain, but she didn't want to say anything.

The video was a reminder as to why the Atharim existed in the first place. To protect the world from the monsters. But not all of these so called reborn gods were evil. She knew that, she had seen that. Her thoughts rolled between what she was taught and what she knew.

But one question remained, "Why does the Ascendancy still live, if you believe he is Apollyon? "
It was their job to take out the monsters, and he proclaimed himself to be one. And then the realization hit Aria. "He's Atharim! was...
Aria corrected herself.

The Ascendancy knew their tactics, he knew how to counter. He knew!

Aria wasn't sure why the Regus was showing her this. There was little she could do against any of those with the power of the gods, much less one as powerful as the Ascendancy. "Why are you showing me this?
For obvious reasons, Regus ignored the Sentient's first question. The outburst that followed earned her a threatening glare. The monster admitted to indoctrination into their organization, which given his age, must have taken place in these very hallowed halls, a sickening thought. Unfortunately, the Enclave Chronicles were insufficient to determine the exact order of events surrounding the initiation, but the investigation was for Armande to decipher, not discuss with his subordinates.

"I am showing you this because I want there to be no doubt in your mind that they," he pointed at the image, "are nearly unstoppable! They cannot be allowed to draw a single collective breath. If its difficult to stop a single god, imagine the incomprehensible for a moment, and think what it would be like to approach a line of them!" His voice teetered on determination poised at the edge of anger, but it was a frustration venting upon no singular target. This was his fight, and Aria was a warrior. Why else was she still alive but to serve as Father Dmitri had the foresight to imagine.

There was more. "I am showing this to you so you saw the face of the enemy when he admitted he was 'the greatest monster alive!'" Did her feeble mind grasp the enormity of their situation? She was the one that sensed the panic in Voynich's glosslalia. Did she sense it now? Apollyon, marked by the thing he would slay, the ouroboros, which was time itself?

"I am showing you this so you remember your cause the moment you lay eyes upon him, the moment before you strike him down, and fear shivers down your spine."

He straightened his back, hands folded, face of marble, and anticipated her thoughts. "That's right. I am sending you after him." Father Dmitri deigned to interrupt, but the Regus silenced the priest with a single look. "This is what she is trained to do, Father."

Dmitri's jaw tightened, but Armande demanded dignity. "She might fail," Dmitri said. Armande would guess Dmitri had less faith in Aria than he admitted. Failure meant death, or worse, captivity.

"She might, but she might succeed." Armande replied. In either case, Armande won.

He looked to her, "Well, child? You can refuse, if you wish. Of course you know what that means, but I would have the honor if Father Dmitri did not wish for blood on his hands." A priest should not have to slaughter his own surrogate child.

Armande himself would give her the honor of a coward's redeeming death in that event. Theirs was an ancient rite to exchange death from the hands of the brotherhood rather than face long-suffering torture from an enemy. No few men and women in their histories had undergone the rite. Aria could be one of them.

They awaited her decree.
The words hung in the air. Aria could feel fear emanating from Father Dimtiri, or was it her? The decision was easy. But the words failed her. To deny her training would be to deny everything she'd worked for. And Ascendancy was a threat if prophecy was to be believed. He was a proclaimed monster. There were no doubts in Aria's mind that Ascendancy should go down. But every single one of them? There had to be a better way. Did her savior, Dane, Jensen or Giovanni deserve to die just for being. Aria didn't believe so, she didn't believe God thought so either.

Aria was firm in her mind, she knew she was right, and that her superior was short sighted. There was little time for panic. Little time to do much more than quickly digest the decision before her. She knew she had to accept, it was her life, it could mean the life of those she cared about. However few and far between those souls were. It was the the pure existence of humanity that hung in the balance. Ascendancy was trouble.

Aria knew her knees were trembling. She tried to hide the fear she knew was written on her face. Declining meant death, accepting had very few other options. But there was a hope, and that was all Aria needed. "I will accept."

Thoughts started to form in her mind. Strategy was never her strong suit, but there was no time like the present to start to master the talent. Maybe she could find the right resource. "I can use any resources at my disposal?"
So many thoughts so many things could go wrong.

Aria wondered if this was the first attempt at Ascendancy, she doubted she was, and she doubted she would be the last. It would be a good end to a miserable life. Go out with a bang. She smiled, for the first time there was true purpose to her life.
Edited by Aria, Apr 8 2014, 06:15 PM.
Aria accepted, and Armande nodded. "You may," he said in response to her query.

Hands folded, one leg crossed over the other, he was an image of serenity as though the choirs of the church were lifting their voices in prayerful unison at that very moment and Armande was their conductor.

"Many Atharim have tried. You will be allowed to study the summaries of their failures. Weapons and assistance are yours as well. I am not setting you on a path to failure, child. If you fail, it is your own fault."

One such piece of information included the recordings Armande shared with the Pope and Father Dmitri. A few moments dedicated to the technology granted the transfer of files to Aria's accounts where she could study at her leisure.

"This was Rashik," Armande began, "who in surveying the intruder Jaxen Marveet found himself with the unique opportunity to ambush the Ascendancy under minimal guard." Armande watched blandly while the Atharim's secondary camera was enveloped in blinding blue light. The man himself sprinted from the fires, his screams wailing into the embedded microphone. Rashik's camera was the one into which Apollyon delivered his airborne message.

"You see what happened to him." Armande studied Aria, probing for fear from the girl. If she flickered now, she would burn beneath the Ascendancy's defenses when the time came.

Armande stood. Hands folded behind his back, he approached the small woman that may be Apollyon's downfall, however much he doubted her. He stood before the Sentient, and allowed all of his disgust and faithlessness to surface to the front of his mind. He wanted to overwhelm the girl with emotion. If she were to quake before a Pillar of Time, best she break now. Standing in the presence of Apollyon at the moment she intended to strike him down would overwhelm her with his presence. The Destroyer was the epitome of prophecy and hate. To a Sentient, he would be the thing she feared most, and Armande was not going to send her on this mission before testing her resolve.

He stared into her eyes. Others saw a vibrant, green field, but Armande knew them to be the dull color of the dead grasses scorched by a summer sun. To him, her plump mouth spewed filth. He focused upon all his loathing until it filled him with enough hate to crush her.
Aria watched as Ascendancy killed the man who had been spying on some mark or another. The name rang a bell and she filed it away for later use. If the Atharim were watching him, he could prove useful in the end. Surely someone with the balls to break into their headquarters could be useful elsewhere.

The images did not frighten Aria. Death was going to happen to us all. Aria had seen the reason she sought, the reason why the Atharim fought to kill all of the men and women who could wield the power of the gods. But not all were like this man. This man didn't even give him a fighting chance. There was no morality in him, there was nothing. It did not change the facts, nor did it change the way she felt about her past actions. She let those men survive because they were not like him. She was sure of herself.

Even the hatred and loathing the Regus spewed from his body did not make her fear the inevitable. She would die. Likely at the hands of The Ascendancy, but she knew it for fact. It was a fact of life. But that didn't mean she wouldn't try.

Aria smiled as the Regus stared her in the face shunning her, and hating her existence. It was not a happy smile. There was nothing but hatred in it. Aria didn't think, she reacted, she reached for his throat and grabbed at it. Father Dimtri intercepted the move. How he had gotten there so quickly was beyond Aria, but the world opened up and she could feel the Regus' hatred and loathing poor into the man she once called father. See fed it to him as if she were merely a pathway to his own soul. It was but a moment before Aria released him, pushing him back from her.

The feeling of power was a rush. Aria's smiled grew darker. "I wouldn't do that again if I were you."

Father Dimitri glared at Aria with anger and fear. She could feel the the disapproval wafting from him. Aria wanted to shrink back into herself, but the power from whatever she had done still radiated in her and she stood her ground. The child she had been was gone. He had let her lose on the world. She knew who she was, what she was. The possibilities were extraordinary.

Aria watched as Father Dimitri paled as if he knew what she was thinking. He turned to the Regus with pleading eyes. "Please reconsider this my Regus. He got down on his knees and begged. "You mistake fatherly love for fear. I do not fear for her life." He looked up at the Regus. "I fear for those she touches. Those she will encounter in life. Her mother was a great Atharim hunter, one of the best." His voice beamed with pride. "The creature that defeat her was a monster, he was cable of great horrors. Horrors I sent her to destroy." He looked back at Aria, fear in his eyes. "Instead he created this."

He stood up and backed away from Aria. "From a young age, I knew. I knew I had done wrong in letting her survive. But what was done was done, she was shaping to be a good warrior. " He turned to Regus. "She killed a boy with a kiss. Just one. She doesn't remember, and this is the first I've spoken of the event. This monster pushed the entity of the world on the boy without ever having known what she was doing. It overwhelmed him. He nearly exploded from the pain of it all, his heart could not handle it. When I found them lying in a crumpled pile on her bedroom floor I knew." Father Dimtiri turned to the Regus, pleading in his voice. "I knew I was wrong. I could not kill one of our own. I've sent her out on the most dangerous of missions. She comes back with the monster's head. I trained her too well. But she was untrained in the one thing that would save her life, her actual powers. I sent her to Moscow, to you, in the hopes it would end. That my mistake would be undone."

Aria watched the entire triad in complete nothing. Her own emotions skittered along the bubble with the rest of the worlds. She had killed someone.

*edited to remove too much modding on my part*

Edited by Aria, Apr 15 2014, 08:35 AM.
Aria buckled beneath the strain of emotion. Armande was a blur of black as he stepped away, and in his place was thrust Father Dmitri.

He stood by without interfering while the Sentient expelled the bolus of emotions upon the helpless priest. Dmitri fell to his knees afterward, and begged Armande for mercy. Aria, the child whom he raised, watched then, having fallen into a daze.

"Nothing can undo your mistake, Father." Armande uttered, and shoved the priests' groping hands away.

Dmitri spoke as if he thought his Regus was unaware of the abomination in his Atharim. Sentients were rare, and easily mistaken for Furia, but the day he met this creature, Armande was keenly aware she was not of the fury race.

He followed until he was close enough to touch Father Dmitri on the cheek. The ring of the Vatican seal glittered in the dim light as he reached for him. He was unconcerned with Aria, meanwhile, although Armande was not fool enough to ignore her completely. She was a trained Atharim, and even if he could take her hand from her wrist, he was not so unwise as to underestimate her.

He stroked Dmitri's cheek "You would have me correct your mistake? Slaughter her right now, in cold blood?"

He pinched the priest's chin and twisted his neck until he was facing the girl he raised as his own. "What do you think of that, child?" He asked of her. Armande stood alongside Dmitri as he did, and laid his arm around the back of the man's neck, gripping the other shoulder. He was a cold flesh of distance in this moment. Within Armande there was only contemplation, and at the moment, Dmitri wavered on the precipice of execution - dealt by the hand of one who could rip his throat out with his hand.

He kept Dmitri chained beside him, forcing him to look upon Aria to whom he now commanded. "Go child, before I change my mind."

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