(spell it with a space between each letter, or change the letter that messes it up into a number or symbol that looks similar. even switch two of the letters in their order, and we can figure out what it means. The site is probably assuming you're using profanity, and editing it out.)
Some struggle through the desert because He said . . .[br][br]". . .If you would be my disciples, you must take up your cross daily and follow me"
Gwelx trudged through the waist high water. The current tugged at him to follow its lead, but the elderly man was determined to get across the little river.
As Gwelx put his staff into the water to pull himself along he hit something hard. Ah, rocks, don’t want to kick it.
He stepped over the rock under him and made his way to the shore. The trees were thick and bushes plentiful. This was the land that he had to cross in order to get to the Kingdom in which Durth ruled. He looked at the trees around him, it was quiet, too quiet.
He inched forward, the only sound was the crumbling of leaves under his feet. His staff making a clank sound with every step.
Gwelx kept his eyes open, something was wrong, he had traveled this road many times, but never had it been this lifeless. His breath seemed to be as loud as a hurricane and his heart pounded in his ears.
Suddenly a scream ran through the woods, Gwelx froze, he knew that sound. The of sound evil.
He dove into some brush and knelt down not moving. His held his breath praying that no one would find him. He heard some rustling behind him and he turned to see torch light in the dark woods. It was not night yet, but still, the trees around blocked most of sun light. The old man got up and walked cautiously through the dark woods towards the light.
Gwelx stopped several yards from the edge of the wood and looked out. A circular clearing lay in-front of him and several enemies stood looking at a great tree. Then the largest of the small band drew his sword and let the end of it heat up in the flames of a torch.
Gwelx watched, his heart pounding and eyes alert. His hands were on his sword and staff ready to use them at any moment. But that moment never came as he saw what they did next.
The large leader of the group pointed his sword at the tree. Then saying something in a loud and sorrowful voice drove his blade into the tree. It went all the way in until just the hilt could be seen.
Gwelx was astonished at the strength of the man. Suddenly the ground began to shake and the tree split in half and the sword turned into flames and melted away. While that was happening a scream like the first rang out of the tree and forced Gwelx to cover his ears.
A dark figure that was almost like a shadow walked out of the tree. Gwelx watched its ghostly form; its red eyes gazed at its rescuers. The dark figure only had on black pants, nothing else, and a black oily looking sword hung at his side. Its bare chest was pure black as was its head and hair.
The monster grinned, his teeth like were sharp and pointed. His ears peeked out from behind his hair revealing their angular form as well. The black hair fell around his face which appeared to be scarred from a great burn across the left side. And over all, his figure was like smoke or a shadow. As Gwelx observed the monster he realized what it was.
Gwelx mind ran with thoughts of the released horror, one of seven have been released, if the others are released… He knew what the monster was and he dreaded its name…one of Blood Phantoms had been released.
Post by Christian Soldier on Jun 14, 2007 11:00:18 GMT -5
The brilliant noon sky arched high overhead. The sun glinted off scarlet scales as a red dragon flew north. The determined cast to Gra'el's face was mirrored by his wings' hard cadence. Below him lay fields where farmers worked and children played: too far below to see the dragon in their midst.
Jaro Keep loomed upon the horizon. Entirely made of magic restsitant Black Stone, the Keep had tall towers touching the sky. Slits for windows dotted across the massive front with a drawbridge set in the center. The mote around Jaro Keep was deep enough to hold massive sea creatures that devoured any who ventured too close to the waters edge. As Gra'el drew nearer, he could make out the massive ballista and trebuchets installed on the roof.
Gra'el flew high over the Keep until he was directly over it. Tilting his wings, Gra'el dumped his forward speed and plunged straight down. For a split second Jaro Keep rushed up to meet him before he flared his wings and landed hard on the roof's center.
In times past, Gra'el would never have disturbed the Keep so, but he had heard rumors of this ruler. He was going to give King Ransom a wake up call. Instead of changing forms, Gra'el cocked his massive head back and roared.
In the distance, a farmer dropped his shovel as an ear splitting sound blasted through his fields.
Men of arms scrambled out through the towers carrying an assortment of swords and spears. The first man to really see Gra'el stopped cold, a tremble starting in his legs. Several men ran into him from behind before they too saw the Red Dragon. With a crash, a big man pushed his way to the front.
"Get around him, you dolts! What are you, farmers," aparently in charge, the man continued giving orders, "Ring him! Don't let him get away!"
I wonder how they would plan to keep me from flying, Gra'el wondered. He watched as a prickley ring of steel formed around him. The big man stepped to the front. At 6 feet seven, the man came up to Gra'el's chest. His massive shoulders and arms were covered in polished plate mail. A massive axe handle jutted out from behind his back and a sword hung at his side. Perched atop his shoulders sat his small head. The pinched look to his face was heightened by his long hair and beard. Gra'el smiled.
Finally, the big man spoke, "What do you want, dragon!"
Gra'el's stomach grumbled with temptation as he considered his response, "I need to see the King. NOW!" Every soldier took a step back except the big one.
"I am Captain Ronald and you will deal with me," another stomach growl accompanied the Captain's reply.
Gra'el lowered his head until he was looking Ronald in the eyes, inches from his face, "Is that an invitation to eat you?"
Captain Ronald swallowed hard before backing up a step, "...What I meant to say, m'Lord, was, what exactly your business was so that I could tell His Majesty when I get him." A noticable tremble started in the Captain's legs.
Gra'el smiled toothily, "Good! You'd taste bad anyway. Tell King Ransom that the Oracle Gra'el wishes to bring him up to date on certain matters requiring his attention." Gra'el's body flowed into the shape of a dark haired man, "And I'll acompany you to ensure that you pronounce my name right." His smiled disappeared as his stomach growled again, "And see about some food would you? I'm hungry."
You can't kill me, I'm already dead!
[br]This is the martyr's cry!
Gwelx looked back and forth. The monster and his rescuers had left. He breathed deeply and got back onto the path. He stopped, no that would be a bad idea. He headed back into the woods and went parallel with the path just keeping it in sight.
The trees got thicker and brush started closing in around him as he walked. But he would stop at nothing. He had to get to Durth’s Kingdom, Tozois, to warn them about the enemy.
Gwelx hurried through the dense trees and several minutes later he came to a place where the trees began to spread out. The forest lost its closeness and loneliness as the birds were singing and city noise could be heard.
The old man stepped out into the great mass of open trees. The trees were gigantic and round enough to live in. Standing in shock, Gwelx thought of the last time he had been here, the trees were much smaller and the city was almost none existent.
But now, Gwelx stood gazing at a huge city. The trees reached as high as the sky and great stone walls were built in the great woods revealing Tozois’ limits.
Gwelx walked forward, the city gate stood in front of him, its brown gate blended well into the trees while the gray stone stood out clearly. The trees behind the walls turned into to houses built onto the branches. Ladders and stairs reached up into the high parts of the trees revealing more houses.
Gwelx reached the wooded beauty and stopped, he looked up at the guards on the wall. They didn’t seem to know what to do. No matter, Gwelx jumped into the air and landed on the wall. The guards stood stunned.
Gwelx laughed, “Oh, did I startle you? I suppose many don’t think much of old men anymore.”
Regaining their composure one said, “Halt! In the name of Durth I command you to stay still!”
Gwelx smiled at the guard, he was short and had broad shoulders. His company made a circle around Gwelx with their spears and they all wore leather armor.
“And who are you to tell an Oracle what to do?” asked Gwelx
The guard drew his sword and sneering answered, “I am Captain Vilorn, one of the most talented knights in the kingdom.”
Gwelx raised his gray eyebrows, “Is that so? Well, that is good we shall need the likes of you in battle.”
Vilorn growled, “What is your business?”
“My business is with the Durth only, and if you wish to hear the news, well, you shall just have to wait.”
Vilorn said nothing for a moment as he thought, but then nodding his head at the guards and the spears went up as he said, “Yes, let us go immediately, but watch your tongue, Durth doesn’t like it when strangers intrude on our affairs.”
Gwelx grinned and followed the Captain; this is going to be fun.
Post by Christian Soldier on Jun 25, 2007 2:39:25 GMT -5
Gra'el endured the king's gaze. He knew well what effect his smirk was having. The king, Ransom, was a short, fat man dressed in royal purple. Gra'el had eaten cows that looked more fearsome than this. The guards surrounding Ransom were another matter.
The silence continued until Captain Ronald said, "Kneel before the king!" The flat of Ronald's blade clanged against Gra'el's leg from behind.
Without turning, "What? You thought that I'd come into a hostile keep without armor?"
Ronald's face turned red. Several expressions flickerd through his face before it setted on livid. He stepped forward and raised his foot tokick.
Gra'el reached behind him and grabbed Captain Ronald by the scruff of the neck. He pushed Ronald forward until he was on his knees, facing the king. Gra'el said, "See, at least someone is bowing to you, Ransom."
Gra'el lost his smirk. King Ransom stood from his throne and slowly applauded. Each clap echoed off the stone walls. "Bravo! Bravo, Oracle. You have defeated the captain of my guards. Why do you suppose that I keep such an incompetent around to guard me?"
Ronald fell to the floor. "Because he's funny?"
Ransom's wide face erupted into a broad smile. "Perhaps, or perhaps not. Have you considered that there is more than one way to skin a dragon?"
Gra'el eyes dilated at the sound of lightning from behind him. His body was propelled towards the king. His eyes rose from the ground to find a pair of shiny shoes in front of him. 'Not good!' Reaching beyond matter, Gra'el resumed his draconic form. His roar echoed off the walls.
His head swung around to see his new foe. A young woman wearing a gray robe stood there. The staff she was holding reached to her shoulder. Her face held an impish smile that died before it reached her eyes.
Gra'el reached again, this time pulling thunders and lightnings that no one had seen in this age. Instead, nothing. Furious, he reached again, deeper than ever before, beyond even his limits. Nothing.
Her next spell hit him completely unhindered. Gra'el collapsed under his own weight. His last sight was of her walking towards him with no expression at all.
You can't kill me, I'm already dead!
[br]This is the martyr's cry!
The old man stepped into the throne room, his staff and feet landing on the stone floor were the only thing to be heard. Vilorn stopped and let Gwelx pass and walk towards the King.
The throne room was large and simple. Great stone pillars lead ran parallel with the walls on each side where the knights stood in-between each pillar. Then at the end of the room was the King’s throne, it was small and humble, but bore a proud leader.
Gwelx made his way through down the long room until he stood before King Durth, “Welcome Gwelx, the oldest of the Oracles and wisest of wise men.”
Gwelx looked at Durth; the man’s eyes were stern and hard. His face had aged since Gwelx had last seen the man and now, his hair was beginning to show the signs of age.
Gwelx gave a slight bow and said, “Thank you.” That is all that he could manage since he knew that Durth really dislike him. They both got on each other’s bad side easily ever since their first meeting.
“My lord, I have come with great news, but I must not reveal it to you until we are alone,” said Gwelx looking at the knights all around the room.
Durth stood up and motioned for Gwelx to follow. The two walked out of the Throne Room into a side door that led to a hallway. Gwelx followed the king until they reached another door which Durth unlocked and walked into.
The room was nicely furnished with a bed, several chairs, and a night table. Durth sat down in the one of the chairs next to the far wall.
“Come, sit and tell me about your news. I know these are not the best quarters, but they will suit our need.”
Gwelx followed the instructions and said, “Ah, well to start, how is the Kingdom going?”
Durth looked at Gwelx suspiciously, “Why do you ask?”
Gwelx shrugged, “Because I might have to do with the news I am about to tell you.”
“Well, I doubt it,” mumbled Durth, “But the Kingdom is fine. Now Gwelx get to business, I know you are avoiding our talk.”
Gwelx nodded, “So I am, well, I don’t know where to start.”
Durth mumbled something inaudible and rolled his eyes.
“Well, I need to talk to you about the enemy because Gorgalro has returned.”
Durth laughed, “Really! You believe that! What a fool, I thought Oracles were supposed to be wise!”
Gwelx glared at the king, “I am telling you the truth. I have met with the two of the other Oracles and we have a plan.”
Durth smiled, “And what is your plan?”
Gwelx looked around the room to re-secure his thoughts of spies, “Can I trust you?”
“Why would you not?” grumbled Durth.
“It was a yes or no question, answer it.”
“Yes of course you can trust me,” said Durth sarcastically.
Gwelx looked at the man carefully, Durth’s eyes were firm, and his jaw set waiting for the Oracle to decide. Gwelx watched him, he didn’t trust him, that was his natural instinct, but perhaps he was wrong.
Gwelx sighed, “I can’t tell you, but I must ask, are you on my side?”
Durth smiled, “Am I on your side? Gwelx have you forgotten our tense relationship? I am never on your side Oracle and I never intend to.”
“Well then, I must ask one more question then must go. Where is your son?”
Durth frowned, “I do not know, he has left, and he is a rebel. It is time for you to leave Oracle; the days of old are past. Your wisdom has turned into foolishness and the nations have forgotten your deeds.” Durth stared Gwelx in the eyes, “A new race has been born that will take the place of the Oracles, a race more powerful.”
Gwelx stood up; Durth was not in his right mind. He knew the king was proud he had never spoken like this before, “I am leaving, and I hope not to return.”
The old man walked to the door and went back down the hallway. When he came to the Throne Room the knights were all dead. Their faces were white and their bodies were scattered everywhere.
“Hello Gwelx, I have missed you,” hissed a voice.
Gwelx looked all around him, he didn’t see anyone, no; he saw it, the eyes behind one of the pillars.
“Palic, what are doing here?”
The black figure from the woods stepped out from the shadows and answered, “The same reason as you.”
Gwelx drew his sword, “No, you are here to stop me.”
The Blood Phantom grinned, “Yes I am, but why I wanted to stop you is another reason.”
“You still haven’t forgotten have you, Palic?”
Palic sneered, “Of course not! Only a fool would forget the greatest assault upon his life!”
The Blood Phantom drew his sword and walked towards Gwelx, “Let’s fight old man, let’s fight until one is dead or taken prisoner.”
Gwelx walked forward and dropping his staff and gripping his sword in both hands. Gwelx spoke a few words and his sword became a flaming fury.
Suddenly he swung left and right at his enemy each time to be denied. The Phantom screamed and all the torches went black. Gwelx focused on the red eyes that floated around him; he held his flaming sword in front of him to give a little light.
Palic sword came crashing from the side and Gwelx barely blocked it in time. The two clashed again, the black and red swords battering in the dark room. Gwelx blocked and ducked as the black blade swept of his head. He stabbed at the nearly invisible figure just to realize that he had moved. Palic unleashed a fury of strikes at Gwelx forcing him to retreat.
Gwelx back off after a few swings to regain his breath, “You have fought well Palic but you can’t win.”
The Phantom grinned, “Oh but I can!” He uttered a sentence of pure evil and a noise of rattling armor filled the room.
Gwelx watched the bodies of the dead knights stand up and make a circle around him. This isn’t good.
One of the dead knights swung at him, but Gwelx easily thwarted the blow. But it was the knights behind him that made him worry. Gwelx swung his sword around behind him cutting off the feet of several enemies. As he looked back in front of him two red eyes suddenly pounced on him and teeth bore into his neck.
The old man swayed and fell to the ground, the dark world became one big blur and he faded from conciousness.
Post by Christian Soldier on Jun 28, 2007 3:05:32 GMT -5
(Well...if no one else wants Fron I'll take him.We also need to break the pace for a bit)
Fron stood atop a tall sand dune. Arrayed before him was the nomad's community. Conical tents set up in concentric rings away from the center. Each tent was decorated with wavy lines, patterns, and small murals. A small boy yelped and ran towards the interior. Restraining the horse, Fron sat on the front of the dune to wait.
Out of the tents streamed dozens and dozens of warriors, their women, children, and elders. The mob charged towards him only to stop when he didn't move. An older man shouldered his way to the front.
"I am Chief Warsu. State you business and leave." The Chief was five foot ten with dark hair and brown eyes. His head dress was a massive falcon's head.
Fron stood and bowed. "I, Fron, Oracle of the seven Marches, keeper of the Seal, and servant of the Master, hail Chief Warsu and his tribe."
The old man squinted for a moment before answering, "Yes, the old tales speak of you and your kind, but the war is over. What have you to do with me and mine."
Fron straightened. "The war was over till a few days ago. Now it is joined again."
Warsu nodded his head and his people departed. "Come with me then and we shall talk. My water is your water, my food is your food."
They started towards the village: "Thankyou, Chief." Fron thought, 'The hard part's done'.
"With him free, what do you want with us?" Chief Warsu asked.
They were inside the Chief's tent near the center. The sweltering heat had abated somewhat with the end of the day and the tent's design. The Chief's wife poured Fron another cup of tea. Fron said, "Thank you, Jeya. I know that your warriors are proud and brave, but few, Chief. I know that I cannot expect you to give them over to my cause."
The Chief's face scrunched up. "Then what do you want?"
"As you know, our last victory cost us the lives of two of our best Oracles. We need new ones in order to open the Sacred door and draw out the Gifts of the Master."
*sigh* "You ask me for the hardest thing of all, Fron."
"Warsu, no! Keep him her out of this," Freya shouted.
Warsu lowered his gaze and shook his head, "We must, wife. Wherever we might flee, we will eventually be found. Maybe not this generation, or even the next, but eventually. No, we must send her." His eyes sought Fron's. "You realize what your asking don't you? My daughter is one of the Oracles you seek. She knows where the other is." Jeya sat next to her husband and cried softy into his shoulder. "She is our only daughter."
Fron said, "I understand, Warsu. More than you can ever know."
"You will meet her tonight when we eat. Till then, rest and be easy, you are among friends."
You can't kill me, I'm already dead!
[br]This is the martyr's cry!
Ceril watched the sun as it slowly fell behind the horizon. A few stars were beginning to reveal themselves as they twinkled into the sky. Stars amazed him, they were things he wished he could understand. However, he couldn’t understand them which is why they fascinated him so much.
His head lay in the sand, his face was still childish, but his wisdom was great. That is why he was there lying in the sand instead of his royal bed. He tilted his head until he was looking to the northeast, where his home was. He let a tear trickle down his cheek, he missed home, he missed his mom…and dad.
He wiped his eyes and stood up, he was determined not to let his feelings get the best of him. Ceril looked down on the little village below him. It looked so far away from on top of the great sand dunes of the north. He started walking, then he stopped, no, he would not go down there. He had already sworn not to ask for help unless it was necessary.
He gazed into the distance, he needed food, well, I had better start walking, I won’t find anything for miles. He broke into a sprint, it would be a long hunt.
Teya eyed slantwise the man who would likely give her life direction for a long time to come. She had known this day would come almost the moment she had known who she was and what she could do. She had known what she would need to sacrifice, and what trials this day would bring, and she had even had forebodings that this day was coming soon, but she could still not seem to grasp the fact that her life's purpose would start today, with this strange man who was sitting at her father's side. From her place at the foot of the low table, she could examine him closely while his attention was on the conversation, and she was slightly vexed, but not surprised, that she couldn't seem to pin any characterizations on him. He didn't seem especially one thing nor another, but he was still striking, and not just because he was a new face. Like they say about me, when they don't think I'm around. She new there was a strangeness about her that had always distanced her from those she would try to get close to, and this man had something of the same feel. She didn't particularly like him, but she knew they were kindred spirits.
Later, as she was clearing the tent up from the meal, Warsu caught her by the arm and led her over to the bronze-woven curtain that sectioned off a small room in one corner of the large meal tent. The man was sitting cross-legged, poking the small fire with a burning stick. He should have been more careful. The thick carpets and hangings could catch fire too easily from a careless coal. Warsu settled himself uneasily, shifted, cleared his throat, and looked from one to the other. "I think you know why we are here," he said to Teya.
"This man Forn has come to take me to where I'll learn the purpose of my talents, and to make me ready for something very important that I think will happen very soon."
Forn glanced at her, then looked back to the fire, smiling to himself. Teya met his look and turned back to her father. Warsu relaxed a little, but still looked tense. "You're ready to leave so soon? You're mother and I have always know you're wise, and special, but you are still very young. You're sure?"
"I'm ready," Teya said, just as Forn looked up and said, "She must be ready." He glanced at both of them, then back to the little fire, and went on, "That important something which you sensed has already begun to happen. The time is right for the Five to come together again, and so the age must be right as well. The One who guides us has set this to happen since before time, and all things are starting to come together. You need not fear for readiness." Forn looked up and watched both of them, face tight. It would have to be their decision, finally.
Teya was silent for a long moment, then repeated, "I am ready." She stood up, and so did they, and stepped over to her father. "You need not fear for me. My life has always been in another's hands. Be glad that I'll find my purpose." She stretched to kiss his forehead, then turned to Forn. "I think we have a long walk in front of us, and that you still have a lot to tell me. I also think that when the Oracles start to gather, it's sometimes safer to travel at night than in daylight, where any eyes can see and any mouths report." Forn smiled to himself again, and nodded. "As soon as you wish, we should leave. But I still have some words for your father." If she was ready to travel then so was he.
Teya nodded and ducked under the hangings, and the men sat back down. She stepped outside into the night air and crossed the camp to her own tent. From a light chest she pulled a bag that she had long been preparing towards this day, and ruffled through it to make sure everything was there. Then she went back out to start making her goodbyes. Her life had just changed, but things had started to become real.
Gwelx’s head spun, he was weak, and cold. He shifted his body to be hindered by… a rattling sound. He opened his eyes, the world rolled around him. He steadied his head, and saw that he was in a prison cell. Gwelx gazed at his hands and feet, they were locked in chains, he was standing against the wall.
The old man focused and saw some one standing outside of the bars, Palic.
“What do you want, Palic?” asked Gwelx weakly.
The Blood Phantom grinned, “I want you, but I don’t want you dead. I want you in pain, I want you to feel the shame and pain that I felt so long ago.”
Gwelx tried to utter a spell, but his power was useless, he was weak and thin. His power could only destroy one person at the moment, himself.
Palic laughed, “I am glad you feel so well! Why don’t we just have a party?!” the Phantom sneered, “After all, I love my parties.”
Palic motioned for someone to unlock the door, the guard pulled out the key and let Palic into the cell, “Gwelx old friend, do you remember the thirty tortures that Gorgalro distributed for failure?”
The old man’s eyes went wide, Palic sneered, “Good, because I went through every single one in a week! And so will you!”
He turned on his heel and demanded, “Guard, bring him to the Throne Room! I am sure King Durth will be glad to watch his prisoner wriggle with pain.”
Post by Christian Soldier on Jul 3, 2007 2:28:29 GMT -5
Forn squinted in the fading sunlight. The enigma wrapped in flesh stood beside him: a young girl. Both were outfitted for the long journey back to the cave. Forn just hoped that Gwelx and Gra'el were already there. He sighed as they started out.
The newest Oracle. That as a statement that he never expected to say, or think. He thought that their use was at an end at last. Forn felt a smile grow on his face as he realized that his group needed new members. The master always acts right when we need it most, he thought.
Well into the morning they set up camp on the shady side of a dune. The two Oracles worked together to raise the small sand colored tent for shade. Forn sat with an audible thump and said, "Ah, my old bones are creak'n."
The girl, Teya, looked him in the eye and replied, "You are not so old."
Forn squinted at her. "Age is in the mind. Today, I feel old. Other days I feel young." Her large eyes bored into him. His smile grew. "They say an Oracle's eyes can see into the soul."
"No. But it is useful for others to believe so. You'd be surprised what you can bluff your way through with superstition."
Her eyebrow shot up. "Isn't that ... dishonest?"
"Nah, they wouldn't have believed me anyway. Besides, otherwise they would be dead."
Her gaze drifted toward the ground. "Oh."
Forn reached into his pack and pulled out some food. "Hungry?" Without saying anything she took the proffered jerky and ate. Silence reigned until the meal was done. Forn waited several minutes to see if she had anything to say on her own, then : "Where's the boy?"
Her head jerked up. "You know of him?"
"I'm an Oracle, too, remember? I know he's here somewhere, and I know that you know where he is. "
Her eyes widened and her expression went slack. "I ... cannot tell you."
"Oh yes you can. You had no right to give your word on such a matter, none at all. Now you'll either tell me, or I'll return you to your mother's skirts. One of you is no use to me."
(Sorry about the delay folks. Still working on my short story and it takes precedence till done)
You can't kill me, I'm already dead!
[br]This is the martyr's cry!
Gwelx tumbled to the ground as soon as the guards support was removed. The cell door was locked and the guard left the old man in a heap on the floor.
Gwelx tried to lift his head, he couldn’t, he was too weak. His head burned in pain and body bled endlessly. He had received two of the thirty punishments, he knew he wouldn’t last all thirty if he didn’t escape. But such a mission was nearly impossible.
Gwelx thought as he lay there on the floor, the cold stone draining his life. Nothing came to him. No ideas that could get him out of the prison alive…no, there was a way. But it would be risky, if he survived the process he would escape, if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have to go through so much pain.