Post by Simey on Feb 6, 2009 21:49:29 GMT -5
The hairy, wild-looking man seems to have materialised from nowhere behind Armadalus as the Sommlending crosses the threshold of the hut. He stretches out both his arms in front of him so that they pass either side of Armadalus at waist height. In one of his hands is a roughly fashioned but devilishly sharp knife. Armadalus seems not to have noticed the intruder, focused as he is on the wolf creature that turned out to have been standing outside the door, and he makes no move to stop the man as he twists the blade towards the Sommlending's stomach, grasps the handle with both hands then plunges it deep.
Simey awoke with a gasp, his ears ringing with crazed words: "Try to steal from me, would you? They've taken everything I had, but you'll not take any more!" Relief washed over him at the realisation that it had just been a dream, and his taut body relaxed somewhat, though his eyes remained pointlessly open, nervously searching the blackness inside his tent for the source of a glimmer of uncertainty. He remembered the dream's scene well from but - what? - a week or so before, but there had been no wild man appearing from nowhere, no fatal stabbing of his Sommlending companion.
Simey wanted to wonder why his mind should see fit to play such a vicious trick on him, twisting his recollections in so ghastly a manner; or even to ponder for what reason he might have been sent such a warped reconstruction of reality by some outer-worldly power, cynical though he was about happenings of that sort. But he instinctively knew that neither train of thought led to an answer, that he had seen the wild man somewhere or somehow, and that though he was well aware that his mind was not to be fully trusted, it was not on this occasion presenting him with complete fabrication.
Simey realised uncomfortably that the clothes he was wearing - provided by the stores at the camp so that he did not have to continue to make do with the dirty, damaged apparel that had been all he possessed since his waking in the wilds of Sommerlund - were damp with a chilly sweat, and he pushed aside the blankets covering him, turned over in an unpleasant, clammy motion onto his hands and knees and crawled out of the tent.
There was dim light in the sky above the trees outside. With a shudder, Simey recalled the false dawn illumination that Armadalus had seen just a few days previously as they had left the army camp, and the wolf's pronouncement that it was fire brightening the sky, rather than the sun. All at once then their journey to Holmgard had become an urgent one and their schedule punishing. More than once Simey's eyes had been drawn longingly by the distant sight of an inn along the road that they skirted, but the presence of the wolf precluded any possibility of comfortable beds, smooth ale and relaxed talk with local folk. Here in the Pass of Moytura there was just the biting chill of morning air, the smell of horses and the worse smell of himself.
And his horrid, damp clothes. Simey turned back to his tent to pull out some fresh - or at least less recently worn - garments to change into, and his eye caught the dim shape of Armadalus' tent. A sudden discomfiture tweaked at his stomach, and a wondering whether he should check on his companion to ensure that he was not lying in a pool of his own blood, a knife in his belly, nagged at his mind. He shook his head briskly at such a nonsensical notion, but the climactic image from his dream had intruded upon his thoughts again and he could not dislodge it by physical motion.
Simey ducked frustratedly down in front of his tent and reached inside for his pack, another item provided by the Sommlending army. The last few days' riding had been arduous, and sleep had been by no means plentiful, but at least their hardships had had a purpose, and that had brought some sort of peace of mind. Why, oh why, then, were dark imaginings once again being visited upon him now? And when they served no purpose other than to torment him, why did he have to endure them?
Simey paused in his rummage through his pack as he recalled the moment - so recent in time, yet so distant in experience - that he had awoken with no recollections of his immediate past and how guilelessly contented he had felt. He longed for a return to that state, of that sensation, but even as he did he realised - perhaps for the first time consciously - that whatever door it was that had closed behind him, bestowing that blissful unknowingness, would not have shut without reason; whatever had been concealed on the other side - was still concealed on the other side - must have been dire indeed for his mind to have been so desperate to escape it.
A further thought struck him: had the helghast which had attacked him opened the door and glimpsed the other side? And, if so, why had it wanted to?
The look of concerned puzzlement which had settled on Simey's face turned to a scowl as a wave of resentment at his suddenly searching for answers hit him. He tugged some clothes from his pack and tried to concentrate on unfolding and changing into them.
The vision of a girl walking away into a too-brightly-lit meadow of breeze-tossed grass only impinged slightly upon the very outer reaches of his mind and so distracted him from his task not at all.
Post by eviltb on Feb 23, 2009 2:33:18 GMT -5
Camp Seventeen, surrounding Eshnar, Sommerlund
The Darklord Xog stood amongst the burning ruins of what was the Sommerlund camp suurounding Eshnar. All around him his gourgaz where putting the final slaughter to those men who had survived his initial assault. Gourgaz had no need for prisoners.
Looking up, Xog could see the flag of the Royal House of Sommerlund burning. Such a thing he had never seen in his former life. He gave silent praise to Naar for being allowed to witness this moment.
The Darklords attack had been both ruthless and efficient. He had made no effort to conceal his armies’ arrival. Leading his gourgaz, Xog broke through the hastily prepared ranks of men with a blast from the Doomstone still clutched in his hand. He had delighted in heading straight for the commanding officers tent - arrows and spears bouncing off his protected body – grabbing the man around his head and crushing the bloody life out of him. With that single act, all moral was wiped from whatever the men had left. They tried in vain to escape either Hellfire or axe, but eventually all succumbed to death.
Xog then ordered his forces to span out around the other Eshnar camps. They too suffered the same fate, as each one fell as quickly as the last. Within few hours of the first attack, all camps lay burning, causing an unintentional broken ring of purple-ish fire to surround Eshnar.
Xog picked his way through the remains of the commanders’ tent. Apart from the meaningless mortals that were strewn about, he could smell something else in the air. Others had been here, not of Sommerlund but of somewhere else. Xog spat as he recognised the foul stench of Dessi. No corpses though could he find, which meant they had escaped. Looking down, he could see the scorched remains of a Helghast. No matter, thought Xog, the Helghast had done its job. Perhaps he would have preferred if his servant had survived, after all a Helghast was a useful thing to have around. Victory still would have come, mused Xog, except his opponents would have had a bit more to think about.
Xog turned his attention now to Eshnar itself. The ruined city lay before him like a brand new book waiting to be read. Xog set his gourgaz commanders to arrange their own camps and organise supply lines between Eshnar and V’Ka. The Darklord needed no bodyguard. The Doomstone alone provided him with all the protection he needed, especially since it also enhanced his own powers. Stepping through the ruined streets, Xog made his way towards the centre of Eshnar to where the ruined Shadowgate now stood. Around his feet the ground was bare. Little did the Darklord know that previously the ground lay full of giak corpses, now gone having been sucked into the Shadowgate when it imploded.
Xog stopped and sniffed the air. There was something not quite….right. The Darklord could feel something around him, something in the air, something….else. He raised his clenched fist, the one holding the Doomstone. The gem pulsed with life as purple flame lanced from its eye, Xog turning as he spread the area with fire.
As the fire licked across the ground, Xog strained his senses searching for something he knew was there.
“Come out from your hiding place, servant!” The Darklords voice echoed around the clearing. He had assumed that the Dark Hunter he had said to infiltrate Eshnar had perished when the power-shield collapsed. If this was his idea of a joke at the Darklords expense, he would pay for this transgression with his life!
Xog turned at the sound of the voice. It was small, like a child’s. Xog looked but could not find it source.
“Where are you?!” he demanded. “I will find you and break y-“
Xogs sentence was cut short. He looked down to his chest. A foot long piece of masonry now lodged in his chest, breaking through his breastplate. Wide-eyed and gaping, he turned to see standing in front of him, a tiny girl dressed in white with long black hair. But it wasn’t the girl that caused the panic to spread across the Darklords face. It was the being emanating from her that caused him to fear.
A dark, hideous mass stretched out of the girls head, connected by whips of smoke. This thing Xog knew all to well. He heard the stories, read the texts and headed the warnings of. The creature banished to the Daziarn, thought to be long dead. The Chaosmaster.
Xog could not move as the things hand extended towards him and lifted him into the air. The thing spoke, as he did the girl mimicked his every move. The voice that followed was a horrid mix of the childs voice and its own.
“Be still, child of Naar. Your time is almost complete on this plain. Long I have waited for a chance to transcend to this plain myself. Now, thanks in part to this child and to yourself, my time has come.”
The being reached towards Xogs hand, towards the Doomstone. With minimal effort, he loosed the Darklords grip and the ‘stone fell to the ground.
“This little gem has the power to make me whole. I thank you for bringing it to me. Alas, you will not be around to witness my true resurrection. But then, you will have your Master to answer for. This world is now mine. The gods have no place here. Their champions, Light and Dark, will fall. With the power of this gem, my power on this plain is ten-fold anything you could ever have mustered!”
Xog tried to protest, but the life was leaving him rapidly. The being squeezed its hand, and the last of the Darklords again left the land of the living.
Dropping the Darklords body, the being motioned and the girl crouched to pick up the discarded Doomstone. It flashed with purple fire and energy as the girl held it close. She wrenched in pain as the ‘stone took hold. The being attached to her wrenched and pulled, then suddenly flung itself forwards as it separated from its host. The girl went limp and slumped down, the Doomstone lying on her chest. A grotesque fully-formed hand reached forward and picked up the gem. Holding it in its palm, the Doomstone of V’Ka sunk into the fleshy thing.
The Chaosmaster was whole again.
Post by Beowuuf on Mar 12, 2009 14:47:47 GMT -5
The colourful banners and bunting, the loud happy crowds, the auspiciousness of the occasion and the sheer pressure of shiny breastplates, vibrant blue robes, or shining vibrant blue breastplates blue all created an exciting atmosphere appreciated by many.
Some, perhaps, saw the hooded looks of all the impressive soldiers, knights and mages on the edges of the crowds looking back and felt the weight of unease generated by the press of important people now congregating in Holmgard.
The capital of Sommerlund was filled to bursting with troops. It had never had so many heads of state in attendance at one time in centuries. There was so much to see, and young Pol was very young, yet even he sensed he had but this one chance to see it all.
He leapt forward out of the grip of his mother thanks to the push and currents of the various crowds, laughing and darting under legs. A wobbly shining boy ran towards him in kind, and Pol stopped in surprise. He then laughed again in glee realising the armour of the knight he stood beside was so polished he could see his own reflection well.
Pol's mother pushed through the crowd, and most realised quickly her need and allowed her passage. Her heart was in her throat as she saw her boy stop infront of a dark-eyed knight.
"A fine young man, perhaps he will be a knight one day," said the knight, reaching across to tousle the wispy fair hair of the lad. Pol laughed and turned to his mother all smiles and pride, recognising well enough the words imparted.
His mother scooped up the child, and gave a wan smile and nod to the knight, who returned it in kind. Pol's mother saw the two blue-clad Vakeros knights behind had tightened their grips on their weapons. Three brotherhood mages were dotted around yet had all focused on the minor spectacle, hands quivering.
It was a great day, one to be remembered fondly in the future. However, for many today - certainly everyone looking towards the crowd - this day could be one of potential tragedy in the midst of hope.
And yet, in the end, it was worth it.
Post by Beowuuf on Mar 13, 2009 12:50:01 GMT -5
"And your name, sir," asked the greeter, still able to flex muscles to smile even though he had been on his feet for hours constantly funneling a variety of guests of varying stations in the correct directions. Managing to do it without ruffling feathers with great speed made Tholen as proud and excited as he had ever been in all his long years at court and in the Order.
"Ramtop," said the Sommlending Knight, a fellow member of the Order Triumphant, shuffling with impatience despite having been seen to very quickly.
"Ramtop, Ramptop... I do not see you in the leading knights' list..." said Tholen, feeling a sudden panic.
"I know I am on the list, I wrote it!" proclaimed the knight.
"Ramtop, At-the-top," said Tholen in a relieved sing-song tone, jumping to the head of the list. "The system does not fail!" Tholen's bright grin faded as he was glared at by the knight. "You are through that way, we are having to route everyone away from the main hall now the ceremony has officially started, and we cannot use the direct hallway as one of the minor lords from Durenor seems to be having an altercation with one of the Sommlenidng royals."
"The ceremony has started?" said Ramtop in surprise.
"Indeed, it was felt by the knightly orders that before too many of the guests arrived and politics needed to be observed, the initial words of the leaders of the Orders could be spoken more intimately to the knights themselves. It is, after all, a great day few will forget! I wish I could hear them!" said the old man wistfully.
"Bah, I oversaw the knightly speeches, I care not for the delay," said Ramtop. Tholen was glad to allow the miserable knight swiftly on his way. And Tholen did indeed regret that the most important part of the meeting he would have to miss. By the time he could take his seat, all the best speeches would have been finished. Instead only the more 'important' speeches, given by the visiting dignitaries, the speeches taking advantage of the gathering to decide instead on important matters of world safety, would be made.
Tholen sighed, but the sullen knight's passing swiftly allowed the old man to regain his sense of the occasion, and his joy.
"Lord Malcoral? The Lord Malcoral? I have seen your name five times, each time bringing greater expectation to my heart! It is an honour to have you here on this greatest of days! If you will follow..."
Tholen's voice droned on, yet his excitement was infectious. It was, indeed, a great day.
Post by Beowuuf on Mar 19, 2009 16:41:52 GMT -5
Beowuuf shifted, finding his old Vakeros clothing - returned from safekeeping at the Guildhall of the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star - fitted too well. It was odd to feel them confining him again, especially since he knew he would never wear them in a different body again.
The wolf tested his limbs, still unable to tell how much permanent damage his exertion a few weeks ago had caused to his body. Would he ever wield a shield properly again in battle? Would he find his leg buckle or ankle sprain with a simple movement?
For now, the magics of the brotherhood mages in Holmgard seemed to have done wonders, but it was not Old Kingdom magic and Beowuuf had trouble fully trusting its powers. Beowuuf was more inclined to trust the Magi than the god Kai, and had to remind himself where the Elder Magi themselves held their allegiance.
Remembering the flowing waters he had been submerged in, lifted out as if reborn, Beowuuf found his spirits lifted. In spite of himself, he was inspired and filled with a joy at the proceedings echoing around these back halls. The Vakeros Knight checked his weapon, his cloak, and the Borodan Cross medal that had been symbolically given to him by Prince Torfan.
Beowuuf had tried to give it to the representatives of the Coucil, but they had insisted for now, at least for today but more likely for as long as he was in Holmgard, Beowuuf should take on the responsibilities that had been given to him.
Beowuuf checked his weapon again, shifted his cloak again, and fingered the scroll also received from Torfan with both a worried frown and a smile in equal measure. Beowuuf was not really part of the proceedings, but he did have a small role to play. An account to give of three separate encounters.
It was instead three other enounters he remembered at this time. Beowuuf remembered so long ago, a knight who had said he represented the Magnamund Knights' Council waylaying the wolf creature for a secret mission, a knight called Rahmona who it tuned out was dead, a death certificate revealing Helghast infiltration. The second encounter was with Master Andras, a high ranking Brotherhood mage who had given letters to Beowuuf from the Council that had decided the life-altering mission Beowuuf had just undertaken.
And finally, a recent encounter meeting with two fellow knights, of the other orders that the Magnamund Knights' Council comprised of. Two who only vaguely knew of the council. Two knights who had shared a revelation of the coming of Xog to Sommerlund.
A dark expression flicked over Beowuuf's face, but he dismissed it. That was for later this day, sadly this great day would be forced to come to a close with discussion instead of celebration, discussion of what the Freelands and Sommerlund must do with this threat of Xog.
However, for an hour or two, while the final dignitaries funneled in, the three knightly orders of Magnamund could revel in the day. The day when an entente of paper was made flesh. A day when the Freelands formally recognised the entente as a separate power block, just as the Lastlands Navy had been recognised before. A day when across half of Northern Magnamund every knight from three countries could finally feel a bond of brotherhood with those who wore the armour, who took the oaths.
Finally, on this day, was the inaugural meeting of the Magnamund Knights' Council.
Post by Beowuuf on Mar 31, 2009 16:26:39 GMT -5
THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE MAGNAMUND KNIGHTS' COUNCIL, COUNCIL HALLS, HOLMGARD *
"My thanks to the ambassador Bon-al Ironforge for his words!" said Kehl Loeman, nodding with genuine warmth to the dwarf who was sitting back down. "I receive your words of congratulations on behalf of all my brothers on this day. And I will take your report of the expedition to Kalte to heart, and confer with the council to see what further action the Knights' Council can undertake to help at this time."
Kehl Loeman, once Nighthunter though a hunter no longer behind a desk, did not begrudge Al the chance to deliver a report of the dwarf's mission infront of such distinguished guests on behalf of Bor. After all, Al had fought side by side with Kehl when the knight had been allowed to hunt, and had proven himself a true ally of Sommerlund. Still, it showed the tone the first meeting of the Magnamund Knights' Council would take. Matters of importance to the free peoples of Magnamund in their fight against the Darklands would intrude even today, as all heads of state and their representatives took the opportunity of such gathered people to convey information and push for actions.
In a way, it was welcome. It showed the serious nature of the Council, an easy acceptance of what it stood for. What would be revealed and decided today, even on its first day, would be acted upon by the Council without hesitation. The three knightly orders of Magnamund that had come together were already accepting the full mantle of responsibility their union demanded.
What wasn't welcome was the news that Hawkeye, one of the Kai Supreme Masters, had been lost during the mission ot Kalte. This was not something the Kai had, quite reasonably, advertised. Obviously as he had been literally lost, it was possible he had been found again by now. Still, Nighthunter allowed himself a glance over to the Kai's area of the hall to see the reaction to the report.
Nighthunter tapped his hand absentmindedly on the gift from Lord Methos, sadly the man not here in person to represent his position of authority as a head of the council for the Vakeros. The gift was an elegantly bound copy of the Lone Wolf chronicles as translated to the native language of Dessi. Kehl was saddened the fears of the Blood Plague still forced some Vakeros to absent themselves from the meeting. A contingent of Elder Magi and newer, untainted Vakeros were by no means a lesser delegation to send however.
Kelh let his hand move to the meeting minutes, a finger tracing to the next speaker. "And now, for more serious words from the ally of Sommerlund, may I direct the hall to my fellow council head, representing the steadfast ally of Durenor, Lord Simey."
The hall seemed confused, as did the Durenese lord knight across the hall from Kehl. A younger knight off to one side seemed to have reacted very badly and in shock to the announcement. Kelh was sure he recognised this other knight, but for the moment could not remember why.
"I am sorry, I have mispoken. I mean Lord Simony Bryont."
The hall settled back to normal, and Lord Bryont stood up, nodding with puzzlement but good nature to his fellow council head. Kehl sat back down and nodded across, but in his mind cursed the scribes who had put together his minutes. How had they made such a mistake? Kehl was remembering who the knight Simey was, and the terrible news that knight was scheduled to convey later. Like many in the hall, Kehl Loeman was already doubting the rumours. A Darklord, Xog no less, alive and well in Sommerlund? It would take a convincing speech to be sure to make many believe such a thing possible.
Post by wildhorse on Apr 3, 2009 10:59:25 GMT -5
The Emerald Defender sailed slowly into Holmgard harbour. Oriphus, now handling the wheel, remarked to Wild Horse. "There's Holmgard harbour, sire, now wonder where did our fish go?" He was referring to the Green Sceptre II.
Wild Horse smiled and replied. "We will find her for sure. Just a matter of time. Hmm, seems that the capital is busy today."
"Aye, sounds like that there's some carnival going on."
"Dock her there." Wild Horse pointed to a berth at one of Holmgard's many quays.
Within half an hour, with two swords sheathed in his scabbards, Wild Horse stepped off the Emerald Defender and onto the cobbled streets of the Holmgard docks.
Post by Simey on Apr 23, 2009 14:15:55 GMT -5
The Inaugural Meeting of the Magnamund Knights' Council, Council Halls, Holmgard
How to make seem undeniably real something that you only half believe yourself. How to be bold enough to present as cold, hard fact the recollections of a mind you know to be untrustworthy. How to address as kith and kin in the defence of freedom in Magnamund those from whom you now feel so far removed. How to drink the sour milk of prescribed duty with a portrayal of solemn, sincere appreciation. How to-
What did he say?
Simey's uncomfortable musings on his task to come was interrupted by what he could have sworn was the calling of his own name, albeit preceded by the incorrect - and increasingly unlikely ever to come to pass - title of 'Lord'. He jolted upright in his seat and with a tight, involuntarily wide-eyed frown glanced up at the speaker - the Sommlending knight Lord Kehl Loeman that he had momentarily seen in Hammerdal whilst briefly he was forcibly entangled in the organisation of the Knights' Council - to see if the man really was addressing him. Had his turn to speak hurtled so stealthily up behind him to press its icy fingers on his spine? There was surely not another knight here assembled whose name was the same familiar moniker, the apparent informality of which was a source of such irritation to some of his superiors. Lord Kehl seemed to be glancing about a little uncertainly himself, and a Durenese knight towards the front of those assembled - where sat the highest in rank and title - appeared to be hesitating in an expected move to rise.
"I am sorry, I have mispoken. I mean Lord Simony Bryont."
Simey glared at the Sommlending Lord from under knotted eyebrows as the head of the Durenese assembly rose to address the council; this was the second time in two days that his name had been used incorrectly and the annoyance and shock respectively of the instances was not welcome.
"Ah! Simearan Vojske - how intriguing to see you!"
"It's Simey, sir," corrected Simey as politely as he could manage in the face of his superior's mocking tone. "You wanted to see me."
"Yes, indeed!" Knight-Captain Gelas Fleck's eyes were wide with amused fascination, looking Simey up and down as though the young knight had entered wearing his night clothes or a court jester's garb. "Do come in, Vojske. And close the door behind you."
Simey stepped into the study and glanced almost furtively around as he pushed the door shut. It was obvious that nothing in the room had been there for very long, but the chests of drawers, the various shelves and the broad desk behind which Fleck sat were nevertheless piled high with papers in various states ranging from tightly-bound, officially-sealed scrolls to rough pieces of parchment, partly torn through being hastily shuffled from one clerk's table to another. An open door behind the captain revealed an adjoining room more furnished for comfort, with a large leather chair and a skillfully-crafted cabinet housing a selection of spirits, but this room too was covered in a deluge of paperwork. Clearly the Magnamund Knights' Council was a mighty machine, belching out bureaucracy the way the legendary Darkland ironclads once spewed sulphurous smoke into the air above the Kaltersee.
"I would offer you a seat, of course, but...." Fleck gestured towards a corner in feigned apology. Simey hadn't actually seen a chair on his side of the desk at all, but now observed an enormous stack of papers and loose leather bindings that reluctantly revealed a glimpse or two of functionally-wrought wooden legs. He looked back at the captain, keeping his face deliberately blank.
Fleck smiled coyly at his own contrived remissence, but then all at once his eyes were narrowed, right eyebrow raised dramatically, and his lips were tightly pursed, the index finger of his left hand resting on them and its tip on that of his nose. "It is good to see you again," he said as though debating the truth of the statement even as he spoke. Simey had been somewhat surprised that the captain had even seemed to know who he was, so the notion that the man had taken particular note of him before and had perhaps specifically been waiting for him to return from his mission was rather peculiar. He knew that he ought to thank the captain for the sentiment voiced, but he didn't feel at all grateful and so remained silent.
"You've been away a long time," Fleck continued after a moment, the fingers of his left hand gently curling together to form a loose fist. "And it would seem that aside from at the consulate in Kuchek - of all places - no one has seen or heard from you all the while." The fist now knocked lightly against his chin in a slow, regular rhythm. "You were assigned, as I understand it, to assist a Sommlending knight in his hunt for a strange creature that had caused disturbances near our borders, and you then appear here - months later - in the company of that same knight and on friendly terms with a strange creature, bringing dire news of events to the south. You can surely understand our interest. And concern."
"Yes, sir." Simey slumped mentally, and tried hard not to do so physically also. It had been inevitable that he would have to face a debriefing regarding his activities since he had joined Armadalus, and he had attempted to prepare reasonable explanations in his mind, but if he was to be faithful to the Oath of Truthfulness, there was no denying the uncomfortable and - more to the point - unsatisfactory fact that a lot of what he had been through he either could not remember or did not fully understand, not to mention the episode that he had imagined completely. He looked bleakly at the examinatory eyes of Knight-Captain Fleck that continued to look him all over, as though trying to pinpoint some certain flaw that would reveal the wrongness of him without the need for a lengthy interrogation.
"But," said Fleck, suddenly brightly, and jerking back in his chair, "I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for it all! There usually is, isn't there?" His tone was once again gently mocking, but not wholly unfriendly. He sat now in a relaxed, open posture, his forearms resting on the desk in front of him and his amused face tilted slightly, willing Simey to speak.
"Well, sir, as you say, I was assigned to assist a Sommlending knight who was hunting a beast creature in the Wildlands," said Simey, leaning lamely on the support of repeating his superior's words back to him.
"Ah, yes! This knight!" Fleck jumped immediately in as though no knight had previously been mentioned. "Thisss...." The captain glanced down at the desk and leafed rapidly through an assortment of papers, still hissing a long 's' to himself, before plucking an insignificant-seeming scrap from the mass and carefully enunciating the words apparently scribbled thereon, "Sir Cyan Geoffrey Armadalus."
Simey was taken aback. He had never heard Armadalus' forenames before, nor given much thought to what they might be, but he instantly acknowledged to himself that even had he tried to, he never would have guessed them correctly.
"Tell me about this knight: you must know him well by now."
At the thought of his erstwhile Sommlending companion, Simey turned and cast his eyes across the masses gathered in the great Meeting Hall, assuming that Armadalus must be there somewhere and yet feeling even as he looked that he would not see him.
It was a strange thing - but utterly undeniable - that being here in this environment of officialdom, communication and negotiation, which once would have felt so natural and comfortable to Simey, seemed so awkward, so remote. Life on the road with Armadalus had wearied him very quickly and he had never consciously warmed to it, but returning to the sort of surroundings in which he previously would have felt most empowered was shining a very telling beam of light on his perceptions of his last few months' experiences. What he had thought that he had always believed - that he would be glad when it was all over with and he could return to his more typical duties - was turning out to be a falsehood that he had forced upon himself. What he actually now believed seemed to be that at some point during his travels he had acquired a purpose, something that had to be fulfilled before his life as before could go on. The trouble being, of course, that he had no idea what that purpose was.
And his sense of being at odds with his present surroundings, alongside his utter uncertainty regarding not only what had happened to him in recent times, but what he really should be doing with himself, was in no way assisting him in working out how to make seem undeniably real something that he only half believed himself. How to be bold enough to present as cold, hard fact the recollections of a mind he knew to be untrustworthy. How to address as kith and kin in the defence of freedom in Magnamund those from whom he now felt so far removed. How to drink the sour milk of prescribed duty with a portrayal of solemn, sincere appreciation. How to....
What could he possibly say?
Post by Simey on Apr 26, 2009 10:09:29 GMT -5
And there it was: Holmgard.
They had periodically glimpsed the waters of the Holmgulf over the last few hours of their journey close to - but rarely on - the east-west highway leading from Sommerlund's capital towards the Wildlands, but only now did the gently undulating land begin its final, continual descent towards the city and therefore reveal its magnificence to them.
And magnificent was what it was. They were surely still more than five miles from it, but even at such a distance, Simey had reluctantly to admit to himself that this city was a quite enthralling sight, standing as it did as a bastioned crown adorning the head of the glittering waters of the gulf. It was immediately evident that this was a more chaotically structured metropolis than Hammerdal - it was doubtful that this was a place of numerous open parks and gardens as was Durenor's refined capital. But the far-too-much-crammed-into-its-walls nature of this place gave it a far-reaching vibrancy that unless belied upon closer inspection, surely cast Hammerdal's relative sedateness as rather staid and unexciting. This was decidedly a place where people actually made things happen, because if they didn't do so - and quickly - they would get swept aside by the next group of people with the next big idea. Disorganised, perhaps. Messy, certainly. But this was a city with a raging furnace of vitality at its heart, which might spew many people and their notions as waste products into the wind, but which could be harnessed by the most determined to forge tools of progress and glory.
That he, Armadalus and Beowuuf were journeying to Sommerlund's capital with dire news of impending doom caused Simey to feel a strange disappointment, for this was a city that deserved to be explored without the burden of urgent duties. But perhaps having a definite purpose upon arrival at Holmgard was the only thing that might stop such a wild stallion of a city from throwing you off to crawl aimlessly in the gutter. Certainly, this was a place that would take the news they brought and either act upon it with a resolution unmatchable by any other collective entity or tear it into such tiny shreds that even they themselves might doubt its relevance.
They and their story would have to be a solid, thick-built granite wall with deep, strong foundations in order to survive the ravages of this city and its processes well enough to bring about some affirmative, effective action.
But certainly it would fall predominantly to Armadalus to convince the officials of the doom which approached. Simey felt he ought not to worry, since his would surely be the most minor part played.
Post by Simey on May 21, 2009 15:01:46 GMT -5
A many-tentacled monster.
Their discovery upon arriving in Holmgard that the inaugural meeting of the Magnamund Knights' Council was to take place there in only a few days' time - a discovery which had somewhat dampened Simey's hesitant enthralment at such a wonderfully boisterous city - had been a boon to their mission: not only was this an official body that sought to bring together in coordinated action the forces of three of the greatest states of northwestern Magnamund, but it was made up of their very brothers in knighthood. That they should all three be able to liase with fellows of their own order and immediately bring to high attention the dire news they bore had made it appear that their purpose was blessed. Even so, Simey had had mixed feelings about so much of his native officialdom being unexpectedly present in the Sommlending capital, and had decided to keep a low profile until he had worked out which of his superiors in the Order of the White Mountain were in attendance; those who had been more sympathetic to his want to assist the Durenese mission in Slovia were the ones to whom he had intended make his presence known first.
Since their arrival, however, Simey had discovered a little about just the sort of reach the council had already developed, even before its first official gathering. There were ambassadors from non-knightly orders, and even some nations, present, and representative knights of countries other than Sommerlund, Durenor and Dessi were there in some number. On a more personal level, Simey had all too quickly found that the eyes of the Durenese delegation were everywhere in his being rapidly reeled in for debriefing. His news from Southern Sommerlund, such as it was, he had made known to only the highest-ranked knights that he had had access to, but he was aware that even their sceptical alarm had only been calmed by his assurances that the Sommlending knight that he had travelled with knew more about the matter than he did himself and would surely move to have the Sommlending body present it to the council.
Now Simey was standing in the enormous lobby of the Magnamund Knights' Council's Sommlending meeting hall, waiting to meet Armadalus for the first time since the two of them and Beowuuf had gone their separate ways upon encountering the council meeting preparations. At the inn at which was staying, he had received a message from the Sommlending saying that they needed to discuss things, and was apprehensively curious to know what the man meant.
The entrance hall, which narrowed - though not by that much - to become two huge curved corridors flanking the oval of the main hall, was frantic with activity. The Magnamund Knights' Council as an idea had existed for a good while, Simey knew, but still it was no surprise to him that the final preparations for its premier gathering were obviously so last minute - such was the way of these grand events. It seemed as though half the populace of Holmgard must have been employed in hurriedly carrying all sorts of furniture and materials into either the main hall or the various offices that lay in the outer part of the building on several levels. Those clambering up and down the surprisingly narrow stairwells that led to the galleries of the meeting hall were in constant danger of falling over each other and Simey witnessed one unfortunate lad tumbling down the last dozen or so steps to secure himself a very bloody broken nose upon contact with the polished-but-now-in-need-of-polishing-again wooden floor at the bottom.
Simey shouldn't have immediately recognised Armadalus when the man entered his vision and began to approach: the Sommlending's beard was no longer wild but carefully trimmed, his hair no more a mass of unkempt curls but short and neat; in fact, his whole appearance was such a clean and tidy contrast with the man Simey had been travelling with that at first glance he barely resembled him at all. But Simey knew him instantly, and the reason why sent a chill down his spine: this was the Armadalus he had seen in his horrifying hallucination about a yellow-robed beast creature annihilating a group of soldiers.
"What's the matter? You don't look very well," said Armadalus, himself displaying considerably less vigour than usual. He stepped up close in front of Simey and frowned at him.
"I'm fine," said Simey in a frustratingly shaky growl as he struggled to push vivid memories of something that never happened into the furthest corners of his mind. "You wanted to talk."
"Yes," said Armadalus, looking decidedly, and uncharacteristically, downcast. "But you're not going to like what I have to say."
"I rarely do," Simey jibed, more in an effort to calm himself than anything else. His still-discomfitted mind tried pointlessly-but-inevitably to predict what the Sommlending might be about to tell him; it rapidly came to one most likely conclusion given the situation and froze, desperate for Armadalus to speak and dispel the alarming notion.
"You will have to tell the council about what is happening to the south," said Armadalus, his typical visible confidence seemingly draining still further, "for I cannot."
Correct prediction though he had made, Simey's mouth still dropped open. He wasn't to be a mere observer of its circus act after all; he was to thrown into the ring with it.
The many-tentacled monster.
Post by Beowuuf on May 31, 2009 15:57:27 GMT -5
Behind the scenes of the first Magnamund Knights' Council meeting
In the past Beowuuf was wont to disregard the strange body he had found himself occupying, except to marvel at its quirks when they helped and grind his odd feeling teeth when his body hindered him. It never occurred to Beowuuf to think of his body's physical wellbeing as it had not felt like his body. It was just something he rode in, to be tamed or used until he could free himself one day.
For the gestalt he was now - Beowuuf - it was not a delusion he could indulge in anymore. The concept of consider his physical condition as he would have in the past was still strange, but that was exactly what he had to do. Sadly, he had not been allowed to keep up the discipline of Vakeros training over the passed months. And yet he had not really attended the needs of his wolf body either. The diet had no doubt been wrong, and his scavenging in Sommerlund's forests had given way to sea trips and walking with groups of humans. As a result, his musculature was not the same compared to when his uniform was first fitted, at the height of his Vakeros re-training. And neither were his muscles as lean as they once had been as a wolf creature.
Beowuuf moved his body hoping no one could seem him in the Council Hall's entranceway. He was trying to somehow undulate his skin so that a small bit of trapped fur around his armpit could be freed from constant tugging. The heat due to so many people cramped in to the halls did not help matters. The fact that Beowuuf had to report infront of this mythical Knights' Council made flesh was certainly something he could admit made him nervous.
"Are you alright?" asked a voice in concern. Beowuuf stiffened for a second at being caught, and was already turning in chagrin to say something self-deprecating when his brain computed the timbre of the voice. Adjusted for a few months of growth...
"Sahmas!" said Beowuuf in genuine shock. He recovered himself and stared at the boy, who was now almost a man, and blinked repeatedly. Beowuuf had not seen the boy since the wolf had been re-assigned to Sommerlund. It was so long ago, so much had happened, and Beowuuf had no idea what to say to this sandy haired stranger regarding him with an unreadable expression.
"Sir!" said Sahmas, drawing himself up smartly and saluting in the Vakeros tradition.
Beowuuf winced. It had been the same with his own father. Somehow the man who had taught Tamas swordplay and had been the one to coax the playful young Tamas from trees, somehow the loving father who had refined Tamas's abilities to pull a bow on youthful hunting trips had become a stranger once a Vakeros's duty to his people took the man's time. Time that should have allowed Tamas and his father to connect. Tamas and his father both retreated in to professionalism once his father again gained time with his family, the two having missed too much of the other's life to find ways to communicate.
Beowuuf - Tamas - had never thought about having children, but certainly if he would have planned out his life then he would have tried to keep a better connection with his own children. Still, Tamas the Vakeros had been given no opportunity to prove it. He'd only found out about his son Sahmas a few years in to the boy's life, and his mother was part of the diplomatic corp in Vassgonia - not a place a lowly Vakeros Knight could get to that much, despite Tamas's own political connections through his mother.
Tamas had believed he had lost the boy for good when the Vasgonians had attacked the diplomatic outpost during the turbulent times of recent years, and had therefore accepted a mission that cemented the missed chance to see the young boy's changing face over the years growing to adulthood.
Beouwuf had thanked the Magi and even Kai for Sahmas's survival, yet the boy's safe return to Dessi had come so late in life. Once again Beowuuf found himself trying to connect to a stranger. The boy had some of Tamas's mannerisms, almost always either Beowuuf or Sahmas would be able to attempt some connection, but then the small ember that sparked would be allow to fail when one or the other of them had just lacked the courage to react quick enough. Sahmas's formal greeting seemed to show how far they had drifted, history repeating itself finally with Beowuuf having swapped places.
Beowuuf drew himself up, feeling the elation at seeing his son turn to a warm melancholy, and prepared to return the greeting. And then he saw a nervous twinkle in Sahmas's eye. A twinkle nonetheless that Beowuuf he recognised in himself at times. Beowuuf allowed his brain to flick his eyes over the scene, something was off...
"Sahmas! You have graduated! You are Vakeros!" said Beowuuf, unable to stop himself from grinning as he realised the boy was wearing the proper tunic of the knighthood.
Sahmas returned a shy smile that broke in to a full grin too, and he nodded. "Not as fine as yours, but then-"
Sahmas's reply was lost as Beowuuf ignored protocol to embrace his son for many reasons. Beowuuf tried to be careful his wolfish muscles would not crush the poor boy, but ironically it was his own body that was hurt - his arm was not well, and spasmed, and his leg was still weak enough that he should not have darted forward.
"Are you alright?" asked Sahmas again, greater concern in his voice as Beowuuf half fell. Beowuuf had already caught himself and managed to shrug off his son's assistance. Sahmas took a small step away, and again that small ember had been quashed - fate stepping in when the two had actually been emotionally at the same place. Beowuuf reached forward to at least grip his son's shoulder in reassurance and pride, but the strength in Beowuuf's hand had been robbed by the spasms, and it turned to an offhand pat quickly done with. There was an awkward moment of silence. Sahmas's eyes moved around as the boy was obviously thinking of something to say, and then he noticed-
"You got the blade!" Sahmas said incredulously. "I had heard the shipment had not reached Sommlerlund." Sahmas smiled. "I wish you had received it sooner, but at least you got it. I forged it myself!" Sahmas said as an afterthought.
"Sometimes Kai smiles on the Magi, and their faithful servants. It reached me exactly when I needed it most, before I left Sommerlund. And I am not sure many bluesteel blades bear the legend 'son of the wolf' beneath the skin."
Sahmas smiled, and Beowuuf could see Sahmas was trying to phrase something in his head. "I ... I wanted to wanted to make sure if I could not be by your side personally, at least...well, at least..." Sahmas's voice faded as he struggled with the words. Beowuuf knew what he meant, and felt a lump in his throat. And just as clearly felt courage withdraw - he could not match his son's action and voice exactly what the blade had meant to him out there.
"It saved me, out there," was all Beowuuf could say. Coward, he thought internally.
"Well, you have a few skilled Vassgonians and house craftsmen to thank for it, they taught me all I know," said Sahmas depreciatingly, understandably missing the subtle phrasing and tone in the wolf's voice.
Again the pause. Beowuuf cursed, and as Sahmas had before, Beowuuf looked around for something to say. Then Beowuuf saw the college rank pin Sahmas wore.
"Valos!" said Beowuuf grinning again, forgetting his discomfort. "You completed the training there after all! You did not seem sure."
Sahmas seemed embarrased. "I, I did not want to disappoint you, I know you graduated from Daernath."
Beowuuf laughed. "Did your mother never tell you? I originally wished to apply for Valos! Daernath was the idea of my commander at the time - I think stupidity and rashness is sometimes mistaken for leadership out on the field."
Sahmas seemed to relax, and Beowuuf realised the boy - well, young man - had been tense. However, before Beowuuf could say anything further, the calls for Beowuuf to come to the passage leading to the Vakeros's seat at the council was called. Beowuuf cursed again.
"I will see you after," said Beowuuf, hoping it was true. Sahmas nodded, and looked around as if trying to remember what he was doing. Beowuuf moved to say something else, but a guide came from the passage looking for Beowuuf. Beowuuf could have happily strangled the man at that point.
"Meet me in the training rooms," said Sahmas hurriedly.
Beowuuf grinned and nodded. "You just want to see that I have used your sword," said the wolf. Sahmas grinned back and and shrugged in mock questioning. The young man started to move off. The guide strode forward urgently, looking back nervously towards where the council would be waiting. Beowuuf waved him away.
"Sahmas!" called Beowuuf.
"Yes?" said the young man turning around.
"I just wanted to say I am proud of you."
Sahmas smiled gratefully, looking at the tunic and pin again. "Thank you," he said simply.
Beowuuf almost left it at that, but this time managed to fight the cowardice inside - perhaps thanks to to nagging guide externally fussing. "No, I mean - proud of you. Anything else you manage to accomplish is a bonus."
Sahmas didn't appear to know what to say, and neither did Beowuuf. The fussing guide was becoming so irritating now that Beowuuf would either need to strike the man or capitulate, and for many reasons decided to do the second.
Sahmas remained standing as the wolf uncertainly waved farewell and was led away. The young man's expression was unreadable, and by the time one of his fellows found him he had managed to brush the tears away from his eye.
Post by Simey on Jun 28, 2009 12:11:15 GMT -5
The New Road Inn, Holmgard
Simey couldn't work out for a while what the vague recognition within him was, nor why it had been sparked upon his entering the establishment. Becoming ever more agitated in his musings regarding his following day's duty, he had left the Crow and Quarry, where were billeted many junior knights of his order - supposedly for their convenience, though more likely so that their superiors could keep an easier eye on them - and wandered Holmgard's darkened streets in search of distraction. Many of the diversions on offer were of the sort that it was rumoured some Durenese knights travelled to Ragadorn to clandestinely indulge in, but Simey's mind had already been too burdened with worry for him to be in any danger of weighing it down further with guilt; an amiable escape from the suffocating imminence of the Magnamund Knights' Council's inaugural meeting was all he had craved, and the warm lights of the New Road Inn had promised - or at least done a reasonable job of suggesting - just that.
Sitting at the bar sipping a tankard of Eledil Ale - the Storgh Belly Buster not having appealed - Simey gradually realised that it was the sensation of engaging with everyday reality in a foreign country that was causing his situation to feel pleasingly familiar. It wasn't quite the same as relaxing in Kadan or Suentina, of course, because here he could speak his native tongue and largely be easily understood; but comparisons with his occasional forays into the taverns of Slovia's capital in particular were very apt, since a boisterous charm similar to that which he had typically encountered in those establishments was present here.
"So ya'll not be from round 'ere by the sound of ya," chirped the girl who had previously served Simey his ale, obviously enjoying a brief slack moment in trade. Planting her elbows firmly on the bar and leaning towards him, she cocked her head to a considerable angle and smiled very broadly indeed.
"No," said Simey, finding her winsomeness a little too aggressive, and managing only a doubtful smile in return, "I'm from Durenor."
"Y'accent gave it aweh!" she exclaimed, giving a vigorous nod in his direction that Simey thought could all too easily have been a rather useful headbutt had he not instinctively retreated a few inches, straightening up a little on his stool. "First time in Holmgard too, Ah'll be bettin'!"
"Yes," Simey replied stiffly. "It's the first time I've been to Sommerlund at all, in fact."
"Ah thought as much!" laughed the girl, the braids of blonde hair swinging to either side of her head not quite distracting Simey's notice from the trace of knowing that suddenly coloured her guileless demeanour. "Ya've been seein' other places though, Ah'll be reck'nin'. An' ya's tryin' ta decide how we's matchin' up!"
Simey's eyes narrowed slightly in the face of the girl's surprising perceptiveness and he glanced about himself, wondering if he was the focus of more than just her attention. The landlord, whose limp, grey moustache was so long that Simey was surprised the man could eat or drink without assistance, was standing a little way down the bar and seemed to be the only person regarding the exchange, his otherwise entirely stern bearing belied by the amused glint in his eye.
"This place does remind me of other places I've been to," said Simey, his eyes sliding back to the girl's slyly beaming face, and his guardedness almost unconsciously retreating somewhat.
"Ah hope tha's a good thing!" she replied with a wink.
"Yes," smiled Simey. "Yes it is."
"But ya'd rather be there than here, would'n' ya?" said the girl, her voice quietening somewhat and her smile turning suddenly sympathetic.
Simey was about to discard politeness and confirm her presumption when he suddenly wondered if that would be the truthful thing to do.
"Or ya wish ya could rather be there than here," said the girl slowly, genuine interest showing in her expression for the first time.
Simey frowned, wanting to be wondering what she meant, but actually knowing exactly what she meant and instead wondering why it should be true. He was about to try and carefully make use of the girl's apparently uncommon insight by asking why she might think such a thing when she was called away to serve. As she pushed herself up from leaning on the bar she beamed at him once again, though the shrug of her eyebrows seemed to Simey to indicate slight regret at the interruption.
All at once Simey found his eyes searching intently through the crowd in the inn for a glimpse of someone important who might be there. Realising he had no idea who he was looking for he glared at the floor and wondered what had come over him. It wasn't just the feel of the inn that reminded him of places - or perhaps a specific place, albeit one that peculiarly he couldn't bring to mind - in Suentina, he decided: there was something more particular playing with his memories.
The front door opened and Simey glanced up, for half a second inexplicably expecting to see a sunlit meadow outside. As half a dozen locals entered the room from what was, of course, a dark street, he realised that the unfamiliar familiarity of the inn came from something beyond his real, recallable experience.
And he really did not want to be delving there.
Post by Beowuuf on Jun 28, 2009 17:40:11 GMT -5
Inaugural meeting of the Magnamund Knights' Council
Armadalus shifted in his seat uncomfortably. Civilisation was welcome and yet he missed the honesty of a simple solid chair, or the silence of a forest instead of the insidious bubbling conversations of all those seated around. Armadalus was in a suspicious space for his station. Many knights appeared to actively avoid seeing him. Others who maybe would have greeted him were met with his stony thousand yard stare at the podium and moved onwards. The previous group had been doing this since Armadalus had arrived back. The latter group had only recently recognised Armadalus, not seeing him behind the grim and bushy growths while he was in the wild. Still, the effect was the same - Armadalus felt very isolated, even if alot was by his own doing.
The conversation rose in pitch as an unusual figure was seen to move from the Dessi portion of the council seating. Armadalus noted that the three areas of the council leadership seating were very austere, with no real ornamentation beyond that of the crest of the country, the order, and some simple material. In counterpoint, the guest seating for dignitaries (and there were many this day) was plush and rich, reds and blues and creams visible on the seating. The banners of the three Knighthoods, and the more important flags of allies, hung low hear and there. tactfully, it seemed to hide the gaze of where some antagonistic regions from other regions.
What Armadalus really noticed, as the unusual furry figure took his place on the podium, was that the supposedly plain seating of the were of course on a higher tier than the others. The knighthood were ascending themselves, flaunting their supposed austerity. Or perhaps Armadalus's perceptions were being coloured by a recent meeting.
Armadalus flinched at the recollection of the comment as he watched the wolf creature - and apparent Vakeros - Beowuuf take the stand to speak on his recent experiences. Not, of course, his most recent experiences. For various reasons that subject seemed to be dropped by those who should know better. Armadalus glanced across to where Simey might be. Simey was, for now, the only chance for the truth to out - if indeed this insane land deserved that truth.
* * * *
Armadalus sat in the study, and used a lazy long look to take in as much information about the surroundings and the other occupant of the room as possible. The decoration had been done well, the room appeared as if it had always been here - a permanent fixture, instead of less than a month old. The owner's fastidious imposition of order meant the various drawers were neatly placed, and the heavy set desk was clear of all but a few sheets of parchment the room's owner obviously felt necessary. Those parchments were tied loosely but neatly, set to one side for now.
There were no other doors in this room except the one behind Armadalus. This well represented the fact that many matters began and ended in this office. If only more places in this building were like this office. Outside the door behind Armadalus was raw chaos as a hundred scribes and knights rushed about various tasks, darting between messy rooms filled with haggard men and overflowing paperwork. To be fair, Armadalus was glad to be out of the corridors and the unknown flow of knights and squires. The quiet of the room was welcome, as was the company of the friend across the desk.
"Drink?" asked Armadalus's friend, indicating a deceptively plain yet expensive looking cabinet housing the friend's three most favoured spirits. Armadalus's eyes quickly flicked to the water clock that provided both the structure of time and a gentle soothing sound to the office. Armadalus's eyebrow flicked at perhaps the earliness of the hour, but his smile and shrug indicated acceptance. It was an odd gesture from the friend, odder still given the friend's normal rituals. However, Armadalus was probably committing the most basic of mistakes that hunters always made - that the presence of the hunter himself would change the habits of those he observed.
"It is good to see you, certainly you look well now," said the highly ranked knight across the desk, the man placing brandy in a deep glass close to Aramadalus. The man was dressed smartly, but that was understandable given his station, nature, and the events currently coming to a head in this building. The figure seemed a little nervous, which was most unusual, but then it was but one day before the inaugural meeting of the Magnamund Knights' Council. Someone of high standing and a nature possessed to careful order would certainly be under stress at a time like this, surely. Even one as usually assured as this man. Still, Armadalus had to pause a second to understand his friend's meaning in his second comment. Looking well now? Armadalus realised he had shaved and trimmed his hair since he arrived. The patches of white that had been revealed, hidden from sun and dirt, made Armadalus feel he was infact suffering an illness and looking worse. The oddly oppressive weight of the council building highlighted that in some odd way. Armadalus shrugged it off.
"And you, James," said Armadalus instead, nodding with a warm smile.
James shifted uncomfortably, standing up and adjusting himself slightly. "Perhaps 'Lord James' would be more appropriate, Cyan," said James not quite able to meet Armadalus's eye to start with.
"Sir Cyan," said Armadalus, his smile freezing and then fading quickly. Alot of things suddenly made sense.
"Sir Cyan, unless you plan to chide me like my mother instead of my superior," said Armadalus, straightening his own clothing. He sat bolt upright, and subtly pushed away the drink before settling his arms ramrod straight on the chair arms.
"Dammit Cyan, you bloody well never make things easy, to do!" yelled the man, slamming his hand hard on the desk. The drinks on the table both shook. James's settled down again, but Armadalus's glass began to tip. Armadalus's hand shot out, but caught it too late, catching the stem but the glass itself pivoted and the contents spilled out.
Armadalus froze for a second, surprised by his friend's outburst. The man never raised his voice. However, Armadalus was equally frozen by the sting of having his friend summon him here in some form of official capacity - obviously nothing good. Torn between his pride and his concern for his friend, Armadalus found himself gently allowing the glass to complete to its fall, and withdrew his hand, staring coolly at James.
The brady spill continued to the edge of the desk. The liquid poured in drips onto the sadly light coloured rug around the furniture. James's face twitched. The arrhythmic dripping interrupted the soothing sounds of the clock for several seconds.
James looked to the hand that had thumped the table, still firmly planted there. He breathed in, drew himself up, and rapped a single staccato beat with his fingers before moving away from the desk and readjusting himself. He gave Armadalus a black look.
"Consider this an official ... notification, a notification that could have been delivered by missive, but one that is being delivered by a friend - albeit one under the direction of the Council."
"The Magnamund Knights' Council?" asked Armadalus stiffly and coolly. He had, after all, only recently heard of this organisation from what appeared a disreputable source. His mind was still trying to acclimatise to its existence.
"No, your direct superiors in the Order, here in Sommerlund."
"Continue," said Armadalus, not sure why he pushed. Perhaps to see if his friend would break again. Once more conflicting emotions, and the worse was winning.
James chose to ignore him and continued. "The Order wishes you to know that if you still plan to request time to speak to the full Knights' Council, and to the assembled nobles, we of course cannot stop you. However, the Order will make it known that we in no way support you or your report and will do everything possible to publically distance ourselves from both."
Armadalus was stunned to silence for a moment. However, only for a moment. The shock of the slap gave way to the pain of it and the indignation. "You will do what?" he said, standing up swiftly. The desk rocked and the delicately balanced brandy glass rocked and fell, smashing the stem and part of the rim.
"Cyan," said James with firm, hurried words, "you do not understand what you have left behind, you..."
"I apparently left behind cowards and fools, while I pursued justice and-"
"BEAST CREATURES!" roared James, his anger again swelling. He grabbed the scrolls one by one and practically threw them at Armadalus. The wrapping on one split, and Armadalus's quick darting eye spotted it was a debriefing report on his Eshnar experiences. The fact the scroll met the spilled brandy and started to twist, running the words, was not lost on James. His eye twitched again, and that more than anything seemed to at least turn his fury cold.
"My reports clearly show-" started Armadalus.
"Your reports clearly show your dereliction of duty for some personal crusade against a creature whom you never truly saw again, one whom at best you claim to have taken on piece of fur from. A crusade that played upon our alliance with Durenor, pulling a knight of promise and several soldiers in with it for nothing. Nothing!" James's last words were a hiss. Armadalus made to speak, but James had not finished. "Then you finally come to your senses, but your about turn simply sees you altering your whole convictions and happily allying yourself with some female beast creature who had the barefaced gall to have the Dessi Council place a power shield around a TOWN OF SOMMERLUND!" James was apparently angry again, shaking, and clutched the desk.
"Is this about me, or the hurt civic pride of our Order?" asked Armadalus quietly. "I had not thought you a nationalist. Or a racist. Surely we need all the allies we can get, no matter their appearance, so long as their words are shown true."
"Oh, and so that is the belief you acted upon when to almost murder the next beast creature in your ludicrous misadvenutes, that wolf creature Beowuuf. Although yes, you dropped your convictions soon enough once more on a whim to aid him."
"It was not that simple."
"No, it was not. That 'creature' you denounced on your first meeting was acting under the Council's and Sommerlund's orders, and brought a diplomatic message back to Sommlerund. That wolf creature seems to have uncovered every single ounce of Sommlending incompetence and ineptitude from Helghast infiltration to Dark Brotherhoods to almost execution under Sommlending military hands! That bastard wolf could single handedly sink the reputation of both the Council and Sommerlund, and you want the Order to support you standing with him shoulder to shoulder and tell the largest part of the tale in all its glory that ends with a Darklord walking our lands while we sit here? Do you know what strings and assurances we have had to put in place to not have that come out. Are you insane?"
"Truth must out, no matter how inconvenient!" said Armadalus with disgust, barely believing the words his friend was saying. He folding his arms.
"What truth? That a Helghast claimed a Darklord had risen as one last act of misdirection and revenge before it was killed? That one of Sommerlund's knights cannot see atmospheric shimmers in the morning air without deciding Sommerlund is burning and only he holds the key to its salvation? Do you know the effort it has taken to bring together our orders, to ratify our organisation in the eyes of every nation? And you want to make us a laughing stock in the eyes of everyone this day? Just to validate your wasted journeys and life?"
"The truth will out, we are not fools and we shall investigate. And we shall have people of more credibility than you to speak of the matter when it is known if there is anything to fear!"
Armadalus almost staggered back. He could not believe the words his once friend was saying. It seemed unreal, both the man's attitude and the insane attitude of the Order. "The Order - Sommerlund itself - has changed if this is truly the dictate being handed to me. You have certainly changed," said Armadalus.
"No, I have not, and neither have you," said James with a deep sigh. He actually collapsed in his chair, and with a sweeping grab took the brandy glass and drank it whole. He then looked at in in concern as he coughed as he set the glass far aside. Armadalus's expression twitched, and something small that nagged at Armadalus came back to mind. The various spirits had been quite low in their decanters. Surely a knight as organised as James would not have so many meetings between housekeeping?
James pulled himself upright in his chair again, "We have not changed at all. You are still doing what you will, and I am still having to clear up the messes no matter the personal cost." Armadalus shifted at the comment. James continued. "It would have been better for me if you had come back sooner, Cyan," said James sadly. "It would seem better for Sommerlund and yourself had you stayed lost."
"Better for Sommerlund? Again with the nationalism?" asked Armadalus, feeling as if he were on shifting sand. His tone was not accusing.
"The Kai turn, the Sommerlswerd that is lost is recovered and instantly sent back to Durenor as if we are begging for their continued allegiance. The Brotherhood take our knights for their own personal quests then give them to pirates that work for some dark brotherhood. Raunon is again threatened by external forces we have not noticed, that external nations apparently need to hold our hand when we move to investigate. And you come back claiming tales that - if true - would be traced to more dark kai moving on our borders and taking what was thought secured."
Armadalus's ears caught up with this last part. "Wait, what do you speak of?"
"Nothing that concerns you. Nothing that should concern me, but politcs forces it of me. Forces me to inaction except political manouvering."
"Is Sommerlund brought so low?" asked Armadalus in shock.
"No, we are not," said James, standing up and straightening himself again. "However, there are those who would use each point I have just made as a dagger to the hearts of true patriots to force their own agendas. We must all tread carefully, Cyan. And you - Cyan - why do you never makes these things easy?" James said this last sentence wearily. "Please, just go. Stay for the ceremony if you must, but please, it would be best for us all - yourself most of all - if you could find a way to lose yourself again."
Armadalus was stunned. James looked with regret at the scrolls, and gingerly pulled them back. "Please," James said in a far-off voice, "there is still much to do. Perhaps we can meet under better circumstances later, but I really must attend my duties."
Armadalus looked towards the door that James was gesturing to with his eyes. Uncertainly Armadalus walked towards the door, and uncertainly he opened it. Armadalus hovered, looking to his friend, but his friend was ignoring him now, walking to the side of the desk to carefully pick up each and every piece of the shattered brandy glass.
Armadalus left, closing the door. His head in a whirl.
* * * *
Armadalus sat still, lost in dark thoughts, ignoring the words of the wolf creature echoing around the hall as he gave his report on matters of mysterious rocks and dwarfs. Armadalus slowly reached into a deep breast pocket, and pulled out a small item of jewelry. It was a plain gold ring on a thin gold chain. He twirled the item around for a few moments on his fingers, and then with a deep breath stuffed it quickly back in to its pocket, raising his eyes to the wolf creature.
Post by eviltb on Jul 9, 2009 4:06:14 GMT -5
The Void between Dimensions
The NAK eviltb fell through the darkness of the abyss. The wind whipped at him all round as his body was thrown in all directions. He could not see the other that fell with him, the one called Remoire. Not that he could see much at all in the continuing darkness. All he could see was flashing of light in the darkness as he tumbled further and further.
He tried to straighten himself to steady his fall, but the winds pulled him too much. It took eviltb a huge amount of physical effort to curl himself up in a ball. Only then did the constant tumbling seem somewhat bearable. The Hunter vigorusly rubbed his chest to keep out the cold, but it was a futile effort as the wind tore through him like a sheet. He closed his eyes tight to protect against the wind and sliently prayed to Naar to see him through this torment.
Is this my punishment for failing My Lord so?, the NAK thought to himself. Had he failed though? He had followed Xogs orders and entered Eshnar. He had found, somewhat unexpectidly, the source of the evil of Eshnar. But then the ShadowGate and the voice of that girl.
eviltb thought of her and could see her face in his mind. Who had she been, now, was lost to him. As thoughts of her drifted from his mind, eviltb slowly opened his eyes and lifted his head. He could see a small spec of light, which was quickly getting bigger. He shielded his eyes from the brightness, which grew suddenly and enveloped him. His head span and his sight went blank, then he fell into unconciousness.
Post by wildhorse on Jul 12, 2009 11:09:40 GMT -5
The streets of Holmgard...
To Wild Horse, it seemed that there were a lot of men in armour today. At least judging by the large number of patrols inside the city. He couldn't recall seeing that many people in Holmgard but then again, Holmgard is a big city.
As he moved in the direction of the King's Citadel (where he figured that Lord Aldius could be now), he was trying to think and how he could gain access to the palace legitimately.
Of course, declaring himself as the Acting Vice-Admiral of the Kai Fleet could help. However, he has not been officially confirmed in that role and having in mind Black Cat's recent captivity in the hands of Lord Aldius, Wild Horse knew better than to become the next Kai Lord to try a prison break.
He had to look for the Interceptor since Lord Aldius will be trying to get some kind of cargo from there. But he remembered Black Cat's words, which is to search for Garrel in the Black Stallion Inn.
But he was not in the West Quarter of Holmgard and it was a walk away. Seeing a nearby inn, he stepped in, hoping to buy a drink and find out more about this carnival atmosphere in Holmgard.