Post by zipp on Jan 10, 2010 19:34:47 GMT -5
It was warm. She couldn't remember when she'd gotten here or how long she'd been floating in the darkness, but she was glad that it was warm. That other place had been so cold. There had been monsters there. They walked around in their cities and rode the countryside mounted on horses. They warred with each other and killed with sharp iron. Once she had been stuck in that place like a child becomes stuck in a nightmare. But then mother had woken her up. Now she didn't have to be afraid anymore. She didn't have to remember anymore. She could forget and hide in the darkness.
Except she didn't want to forget everything. There was someone in that other world that was important to her. She couldn't remember what he looked like anymore, but she remembered his name. "Dharn," she whispered in the darkness and felt something stir within her, something even warmer than the dark. She whispered the name again and grew warmer still.
But suddenly the sound of screaming filled her ears. It was her mother. Her mother was in pain. Hazelae became scared and in her fright she thought once again of the man who had taken her in, this Dharn who brought her so much warmth. But her mother only screamed the louder. Her mother was dying. Hazelae didn't want her to die, but she didn't know what to do. She kept thinking Dharn's name over and over and the feeling within her grew hotter and more urgent. And the warmer she became, the more her mother screamed.
Hazelae never understood how she had killed her mother. She never understood how the love Dharn had taught her was like a poison in the soul of the ancient dark creature that she was meant to be a part of. Hazelae had never had a chance to understand anything. She was afraid and she kept thinking Dharn's name until the end, when she felt one final burst of warmth and then nothing.
As mother and daughter died together, the undead of Eshnar fell to dust and the sphere around the city shimmered one final time before disappearing.
Post by eviltb on Jan 15, 2010 9:11:47 GMT -5
The NAK eviltb fell through the Shadow Gate as its frame collapsed around him. He tumbled through blackness, the wind battering his body, the cold cutting through him like a saw through wood. He fell into nothingness, yet knew he was still alive. He blinked to clear his vision, but couldn’t see. Where his eyes open? Or closed? The blackness was so complete he could not tell. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound emerged. He continued to fall into the blackness, his tumbling body making his head spin and his gut wrench. It was not long that he succumbed to the more infinite blackness of unconsciousness.
It had been several decades since the Chaos-master had conquered the realm of Nahgoth. Sandai, Meledor and Vhozada all now were under the control of Chaos. Ironically, the Meledorians took refuge in the only place they could, the burial ground of Tolakos. Even then, they had been forced to hide underground, the surface being too littered with the minions of Chaos to make safe any kind of permanent home. Still, runs to the surface where needed, at times. A spring, hidden and as yet untainted by Chaos, still gave fresh water. It was to this task the Ironheart warrior known as R’Avashta had been assigned. It was a run he had done many times before and one he was grateful for, at times. Living amongst the ancient dead was not an honour he particularly enjoyed! However, this was the first water run he had soloed. There numbers now where too few to risk more than one person for the water run. R’Avashta took a deep breath and ushered a silent prayer as he removed the coverings from a hidden entrance and step out onto the landscape.
The city laid spread before him, desolate and ruined. Although no being of Chaos could set foot on its ruins – something the Elders had said about the place being sacred to the Meledors – there were still those who could fly above and snatch the unsuspecting off their feet. R’Avashta had been witness to one such attack, when water patrols went out in threes. His companions had been grabbed not even half-way into the journey to the spring. R’Avashta had hid himself spring enough not to be taken. Although the loss of other brothers is mourned, nothing is more important than keeping the spring secret. If that is discovered, then all is lost.
And so the decision of the Elders was passed that now only one Ironheart shall be entrusted to retrieve water from the spring. Since it was R’Avashtas rotation, he was glad to take the duty if only to get outside once again.
R’Avashta checked the bolt-thrower attached to his wrist was loaded, his bolt-satchel full and his sword loose. Across his back was strapped the large metal container for which he could fill the water. He checked it was tight enough one last time. Stepping through the ruins, he kept a low profile as possible - which in his mind was difficult enough when your race extends to 6’ plus – and made his way to the spring.
The journey in itself was short. Whereas with three it took 30 minutes of moving, waiting, watching, covering his brothers then moving again, on his own the same distance was covered in half the time. As per normal, the warrior held his ground for another 5 minutes, checking every piece of landscape, straining every sense to see, to listen, to taste the presence of Chaos. The wait time had lapsed, but R’Avashta gave it another minute. He was on his own and wanted to make sure. When he was as convinced as he could make himself he moved. Brushing aside some dust off a tomb, he found the keypad placed by the Elders. This was a security lock, magic in design that he didn’t understand. All he knew was the code changed after each new entry and the code would only be imprinted on the psyche of a Meledorian. He stared at the lock for what seemed like an age before the number appeared. Quickly he tapped it into the keypad. The door to the tomb opened and R’Avashta entered. No sooner had he passed through the door slid shut, so quickly did it close the he could feel it against nape of his neck.
R’Avashta made his way down to the spring, some 50 metres belowground. There the pool of water sat, reflecting the light of the torches that were strewn up around the cavern. The cavern itself was an old family tomb, easily 200 metres square. The spring had been discovered almost by accident. When the Meledorians first found refuge in the tombs ruins, they made the decision to clear out the larger tombs to make room for living space. The Elders decided not to disturb the actual sarcophagi where their ancestors lay, so the Meledors hade to make do with living next to their dead. When this particular mausoleum was first searched, it was discovered a large portion of the floor had caved in and a pool of fresh water remained. The Elders proclaimed this was a sign from the ancestors, some realists merely stated that a natural spring had simply forced its way through. Either way, it was a life-line for those in hiding. The Elders stated the spring out-of-bounds to all except those on collection duty. The risk of contamination, so they thought, would be lessened that way.
R’Avashta removed the container from his back and placed it on the ground, where it made a hollow thunk. The room was as lifeless as it had always been and the warrior chuckled at his own ironic thought. Attached to the wall near the pool was a small container of dust. R’Avashta took a pinch and sprinkled it into the pool. As the grains touched the water, they sparkled blue then dissipated. The water was still as pure as ever. R’Avashta smiled as he saw his reflection in the pool, the one thing that seemed to remain the same amongst all the Chaos. He reached across to the container and started to fill it. The container had got about half-full, when R’Avashta felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He looked around, but could not see anything out of the ordinary. This location was secret enough that Chaos could not find it. R’Avashta rubbed the back of his neck and went to continue his duty. As he touched the container, a spark leapt up from it. R’Avashta jumped back and shook his hand. He wasn’t hurt; it was more the surprise that caused him to react. Kneeling down he held his hand over the container. The hairs on the back on his hand moved and has he turned his hand around they stretched towards the metal box. There was a faint whistle in the air and R’Avashta could feel the wind pick up around him. Indeed as he looked at the pool he could see the air moving across it. The metal container wobbled but held as it was anchored with the water inside. R’Avashta turned to face the now increasing wind. It wasn’t coming from the passage down; it was… coming from the wall? R’Avashta gripped the trigger of this wrist-bow and stepped forwards. He could feel the wind no, forceful as he put his hand up against the wall. The whistling got louder and louder, then suddenly the wall exploded in light! R’Avashta was thrown backwards with the force. Has he got up he could see in front of him a circle of whirling blackness, surround another circle of pure white light. Blue sparks flashed around the inner circle and the wind howled in his ears. It was so intense that R’Avashta couldn’t block out the sound of the wind and the piercing light with simply his hands, so he clapped his hands over his ears and shut his eyes. Leaning up against a sarcophagus, he edged around so that he was facing away from the light. He opened his eyes and could see now at least, yet the wind continued to buffet his ears.
R’Avashta sat with his hand over his ears and his had tucked into his lap. But as suddenly as it had started the wind then stopped and the light disappeared. Soon all R’Avashta could hear was his own frantic breathing. Slowly, he removed his hands from his ears and sat up again. The water-pool was still once again. The container had fallen over and was spilling it contents back into its source. Quickly, R’Avashta got up and went over to the pool. He clumsily reached for the powder bowl attached to the wall and in doing so knocked more powder into the pool than was necessary. To his relief a bright blue flash still came as the powder dissolved in the water. R’Avashta sighed and dusted his hand off. The water was still fresh at least.
R’Avashta turned then to see the wall that the circles had appeared from. Nothing remained of the phenomenon at all, there was no wind, no sparks, no whistling in his ears. Stepping around the tomb, R’Avashta froze as he saw a body lying on the floor. He quickly dove to cover and readied his wrist-bow. Leaning out, he pointed the weapon forward as he attempted to study the other person. This was it, he thought, Chaos has at last found our refuge. His thoughts wandered back to the brothers back in the main living area, how he now was the only defence between this thing and his brothers continued life. He had to defend the waterhole, no matter what!
Leaping up from his cover, R’Avashta fired his wrist-bow. The crystal bolt flew through the air and shattered harmlessly as it missed its intended target. R’Avashta cursed as he went back to cover. He hadn’t bothered to aim and had now lost a bolt. Fetching his pack, he retrieved another and reloaded. He strained and listened but could hear no movement. Peeking out from his cover, he could see the body still lying there. R’Avashta was confused but cautious; it could very well be a Chaos trick. Slowly, he crept out from his cover and approached the body. It was humanoid, at least, crumpled up in a heap covered in a dark cloak. R’Avashta reached forward slowly and rolled the body onto its back. What he saw surprised him. While he was expecting the twisted form of a Chaos minion, he saw the pale face of a man. It was still breathing, so hence alive but its skin was cold to the touch. Had this person come through those circles?
thought R’Avashta to himself. He relaxed his guard and rubbed the back of his neck again. What should he do here? He had to get back soon with the water, or a search would be sent for him. He couldn’t return without water, but he couldn’t leave this body here. If it was an agent of Chaos, then the pools location would be revealed and all would be lost. R’Avashta put the safety on his wrist-bow and stood up. He looked back at the water container then back to the body. He couldn’t leave it just lying here, if the foreigner awoke while he was delivering water, then the whole supply could be spoiled! That would be worse then not returning for one delivery.
R’Avashta bent down and took the arm of the other mans body. Without warning, the prone mans arm shot out and grabbed the other, pulling him down so he was level with the others face.
“Where am I?!”
The other demanded through his teeth. R’Avashta froze for a split-second and then reacted. He pushed the other roughly so he let go. The other man got to his feet with surprising agility and reached into his belt. R’Avashta at the same time was struggling to undo the safety from this wrist-bow, anticipating the other going for a weapon. The other man patted himself down frantically, but when no weapon was found he cursed to himself. R’Avashta chuckled.
“It seems like you are out of luck intruder! For you trespass the penalty is death. What say you!”
R’Avashta heard no reply. The other had disappeared behind one of the sarcophagi and made no response to the challenge. The Meledor warrior made his way around the tomb, wrist-bow out in front. He heard a noise and turned, to be greeted only by a closed fist speeding towards his face. The first hit him square on the noise. R’Avashta yelped and staggered back, his senses reeling. He felt of foot crush down on his knee and he screamed as it snapped and he toppled over. Trying to look through his hazed vision, he could feel the blood begin to trickle from his nose. He raised his wrist to fire, but another boot stamped down and he failed to fire. There was a weight as the man shifted and sat on the Meledorians back. His wrist was then held tight and he struggled to maintain control. A sharp blow to the back of his head sent him spinning again and he ceded control of his arm. A voice then whispered in his ear.
“I say…. You had best keep your eye on your enemy... and mind who it is you threaten….”
It was the last words R’Avashta Ironheart ever heard. As the click came from his wrist, the dull thud of a crystal bolt impacting on his skull followed within a second. Sleeping with the ancestors,
he thought as the life quickly left him. No greater honour….
Post by crysis on Jan 16, 2010 16:31:45 GMT -5
On her third night in the Wildlands, it rained. Sera huddled miserable and cold under a lonely growth of trees, listening to the sound of the rain hitting the hard ground around her, and wondered how much longer she could go without food.
When Sera had fled from the Pick and Shovel, she wasn't thinking very far ahead. She hadn't made any plans for escaping Eshnar. All of her thoughts stopped at the sphere where Jared had died. She thought she was going to die there, too, but it hadn't happened. As she'd reached out to touch the sphere, it had turned bright blue and then vanished completely. There was nothing grand to mark the change; no explosion or crackling of magical energy. Just one moment it was there and the next it wasn't and she was still alive.
She wasn't sure how she felt about that.
She had been prepared to die. Looking back now, she realized she had actually been planning on dying. Her run to the sphere hadn't been so much a flight from death as it had been an attempt to choose where and how she would die. She had wanted to die in the same spot that Jared did; Jared who had tried to help them all and gotten banishment as a reward. But that had been taken away from her and now she was alive and hungry instead. At least she would have water tonight, she thought grimly, watching the mud puddles build up around her.
She sniffled in the cold and rubbed at her nose furiously. Her hands were so cramped and numb from the cold that she couldn't feel them when she rubbed them agaisnt her face, giving her the strange impression that someone else was scratching her nose for her. Her nose had been running all day. Her throat hurt and she couldn't stop shivering. Back at Eshnar, before everything had gone wrong, her mother would have made her a bowl of hot soup or given her medicine from the herbmaster, something to help her sleep when she was wrapped up in the warm blankets of her bed.
To take her mind from her discomfort, Sera drew the dagger she'd taken from Smelly Jordain, who had taken it from Jared, who had taken it from the man, who had taken the girls one at a time. Sera wondered who would take it from her. She'd wiped it clean of all of Jordain's blood, though when she looked at it she could still remember exactly what it had looked like dripping down the blade. The thought reminded her of the last meal she'd had with her family. Even her father had been there. His business in the north had gone well and they butchered a cow that night. The haunches of meat had been dripping with blood and some had run down her father's knife in just the same way, as he lifted a savory piece of the meat to his bearded mouth, smiling at Sera and telling her he'd brought her presents from the capital. Remembering it now made Sera's hand clench harder around the dagger.
Suddenly Sera was on her knees, chopping at the tree behind her furiously, tearing off a large chunk of bark. Desperately she popped the piece of bark in her mouth and chewed and sucked on it, willing it to turn into a piece of the steak she'd eaten that night. She closed her eyes and kept them squeezed shut so hard that it hurt, praying that when she opened them she wouldn't be cold anymore and instead she'd be at home with her family and they would be alive and laughing.
But the bark just cut her mouth and tasted sharp and bitter and when she opened her eyes, she couldn't see through her tears. They fell from her eyes freely, leaving salty tracks on her cheeks. The dry ground beneath the trees swallowed them greedily where they fell.
Post by Simey on Jan 16, 2010 18:08:44 GMT -5
Council Halls, Holmgard
"Stop looking at me like that."
"Like I'm mad. For all I know I may be mad, but I don't need you emphasising it."
Simey was fairly sure, in fact, that Armadalus wasn't actually looking at him as they made their way discomfitedly through the crowded foyer of the Knights' Council meeting hall - there seemed, indeed, to be an unspoken agreement between them not to look at each other - but he could feel urgent concern emanating from the man like an oppressive heat from a furnace.
"I don't think you're mad," said Armadalus, the tightness in his voice suggesting that whilst this probably was merely a placatory statement, Simey's sanity - or lack thereof - was not his sole solicitude.
The Sommlending's anxiousness was perfectly understandable if he had just endured as uncomfortable a debriefing as Simey had. Still unsure of exactly what had happened to him whilst he had been at the podium of the great hall addressing the Knights' Council, Simey was aware enough that the spectacle must have come across as very strange indeed to those watching.
"You are lucky you have a friend in both orders, because now no one knows what to do with any of you," Knight-Captain Gelas Fleck had said with an air of frustrated fury. "Had you not, we would know very well what to do with you."
Simey was still somewhat surprised that Armadalus and Beowuuf had made the surely rather rash gesture of supporting him in his moment of madness - he was not at all sure that he would have done the same for either of them had their situations been reversed - but he hoped that their oddly unified stance, which seemed so astonishingly to have made some sort of positive impact in the meeting, had caused enough uncertainty in their superiors also to have warded off grave punishment.
"If you think I'm sane, you're probably in a minority," Simey muttered. "Of one." He was constantly aware that many pairs of eyes were stalking the two of them as they pushed their way towards the entrance way. "I'm surprised you don't mind being seen with me."
"I told you," growled Armadalus, his voice still distracted, "we need to talk."
Post by crysis on Jan 17, 2010 19:36:36 GMT -5
Sera woke up with the light of the dawn, as she always did. Out on the mostly flat Wildlands, the dawn broke over the land like a sea of fire. It was beautiful, especially this morning as it glittered off the puddles the rain had left, but it was also impossible to sleep through. Sera's muscles ached and her mouth felt like someone had shoved cotton into both of her cheeks. She barely had the energy to stand up and felt hot and itchy when she finally did get to her feet.
Sera felt clumsy and lightheaded as she moved around the tree to do her business. Her fingers were stiff and numb and she had trouble fastening her breeches afterwards. When a flock of birds took off suddenly from the trees above her, she fell down startled and bruised her knee. That was nearly too much for her and for a moment she felt like crying again. But then something in her woke up and she had another thought. If there were birds in the trees, then maybe there would be nests. Nests with eggs.
The thought of having eggs for her breakfast pushed all thoughts of tears to the back of her mind. She struggled to her feet and looked above her. The three trees she'd slept under had wide canopies and thick branches. Two of the trees were too high for her to get into, but at the third she managed to clamber up and get onto a wide branch that she could shimmy along. From there she continued to climb until she was lost in a small forest of leaves and branches. There were spiders, too, but she'd never been particularly afraid of them so she brushed them off and continued on her way.
Sera wasn't quite sure where to expect a bird's nest to be, but she thought it would be high, near the top of the trees. She climbed with a determined focus. There would be food at the top of the tree, she told herself; there would have to be. In the end, she didn't have to go that far, though. She had just pulled herself up on a thick branch when she found herself face to face with a nest of thick white eggs. Letting out a sob of relief she reached for the eggs...
... and felt a sharp pain as something bit down on her hand. In the next instant, she was falling, the branches that had supported her now rushing to meet her in a whirl of green leaves and brown bark.
Post by Simey on Jan 31, 2010 10:08:54 GMT -5
Armadalus was wasting no time once they were seated in an office that he seemed to have access to in a building that he seemed to have access to; Simey had been too preoccupied with his crumbling sanity to take much notice of where they'd been going.
"What do you mean?" said Simey, trying feebly to push the moment of explanation away.
A flash of forced patience crossed Armadalus' face, but was swept quickly aside by a stony, unimpressed glare. "You know what I mean," he said bluntly.
Simey looked at the man that with only slowly eroded reluctance he had come to accept as a companion of some - as yet not entirely determined - value. He had gradually worked out during the time they had travelled together that Armadalus frequently made himself deal more patiently with him than he instinctively wished to. Given that, though their initially disdainful relationship had improved greatly over time, even now Simey didn't exactly think of them as being friends - and was fairly sure that the assessment was mutual - he wasn't sure why the Sommlending had been extending him the courtesy of patience and understanding. Nevertheless, the brusque, intolerant Armadalus sitting before him came as something of an uncomfortable surprise.
"I...." started Simey, the wish to explain everything and let someone else figure it out clashing with his profound fear of what people would think of him if the truth about his mind's imaginings was known, and immediately making him hesitate. "It's like I...." He was horribly aware of his face wearing a tortured expression, and his eyes having slumped away from Armadalus to criss-cross the floor noting little details: the grain of the floorboards; nicks and scratches on the legs of the furniture; anything to distract from what he should be saying, from the fact that his heart was thumping heavily in his chest at the mere notion of saying it.
The use of his first name startled Simey's focus away from his maelstromic thoughts; Armadalus had never addressed him using anything but his surname before. The fact that the Sommlending's tone had softened was notable also. Simey looked up.
"Just tell me." Armadalus' features had relaxed into a kindly expression that didn't quite sit comfortably on his face. Here could almost have been a grandfather reassuring his punishment-wary grandson that it was alright to admit to whatever it was he'd done wrong, except that this grandfather was unused to the task and couldn't quite fathom what it was that could be so hard to say.
"It's like....I remembered," said Simey, his own incomprehension clearly written on his face.
"It's like you remembered?" said Armadalus, eyebrows raising slightly. "It sounded as though you did remember - very clearly."
Simey's teeth clamped together, and he tried through still bewildered eyes to shoot the Sommlending an irritated glare. Why did the man have to be so dratted straightforward about matters that were so terrifyingly strange?
"The things I remembered," Simey said tightly, "cannot be real."
"The things you described in front of the council," Armadalus checked.
Simey went cold; he did not need that emphasised. After a few moments he nodded, his jaw too rigid to speak.
"I don't think you would have spoken about those things if they weren't real," said Armadalus calmly. "Indeed, it would have been against your oath to do so."
An even icier shiver went through Simey; he was all too conscious of that also.
"We are both well aware that there has been a gap in our memories, a gap concerning Eshnar," Armadalus stated matter-of-factly. "Given that we at the very least know that something terrible happened there, what you said makes considerable sense."
"Corpses. Rotting, disfigured corpses running around after us." Disbelieving scorn helped Simey find his voice. "That makes sense?"
"There are stranger things in this world," Armadalus said evenly, looking directly at Simey, his eyes bright with certainty.
"Not in my experience," Simey rebuffed, clinging to a lack of worldliness that seemed to be trying to escape his grasp of its own accord.
"Beowuuf," said Armadalus starkly. "A humanoid wolf creature. More than that: apparently a Vakeros knight. Would you deny his existence?"
A stab of bitter humour pierced Simey's thoughts. "I will if you will."
Armadalus did not smile. "Can you tell me that your recollection of Eshnar seems in any way not to be a normal, real memory?"
Simey shuddered. His recently returned memories of Eshnar struck him as completely real. But the fact was that he had on several occasions experienced other things that seemed to be completely real, only for them to turn out to be imaginings of his wayward mind. He shook his head, but said nothing.
Armadalus tilted his head slightly in brisk gratitude at Simey's apparent concession. "What concerns me is not what you remembered, but why...." The Sommlending hesitated for a moment, his careful reasoning clearly interrupted by some thought or other. "....why you remembered about Eshnar when you did."
Simey was about to articulate a claim of complete ignorance, when he realised that such a statement might not be quite accurate. "I saw you," he said, "for the first time in the hall. And then it all sort of hit me at once. I'm not really sure what happened after that." Whatever it was that had happened after that - however, he'd acted, whatever he'd done - Simey was sure it had brought shame on both himself and his order.
"You remembered," said Armadalus more slowly, less certainly, "when you saw me?"
Simey sighed, to a degree giving up resisting admission. "Yes," he said. "At least it seemed like that."
Armadalus was actually starting to look a little discomfited, and it was apparently his turn to glance around the floor, thoughts presumably rushing through his mind. "In a way," he said at considerable length, "it struck me at the same time."
Simey was startled. "You remembered as well?" Why on Magnamund had the Sommlending not seen fit to mention this before?
"No," said Armadalus, and stopped, gazing long at Simey before continuing. "I didn't remember. I don't remember. But I know what happened."
Simey frowned; he might not be the only knight losing his mind, for that made no sense at all.
"In the meeting," continued Armadalus, clearly having noted Simey's incomprehension, "I got the impression that you'd seen me - though it was difficult to tell, since you were a fair distance away - and right then I suddenly realised I knew what had happened in Eshnar, or some of it anyway, at least as much as you went on to describe. That was such a surprise that I didn't notice for a moment what had happened to you."
For Armadalus to admit surprise and to be speaking so openly about something which he clearly didn't fully understand was unusual, and at another time might have given Simey reason to pause. Incredulity was, however, rapidly taking the place of his anxiety, and he pressed further. "But you don't actually remember?"
There was the beginnings of a riled glare in Armadalus' eyes, but he quickly dropped his gaze to the floor and was motionless for a moment, obviously gathering his thoughts.
"The best way I can describe it," said the Sommlending soberly, raising his eyes to Simey once more, "is as though someone has explained to me in great detail some of the events that I was involved in in Eshnar, someone that I know has spoken truthfully. I cannot picture those events. I do not recall experiencing them. But I know what happened. I'm sure that it did happen. And I know, therefore, that what you said was true."
The flames of derision within him that Simey had been instinctively ready to fan were dampened by Armadalus' sincerity.
"I don't take much comfort from you not thinking that I'm mad," Simey said after a moment, a bleak smile weakly lifting one corner of his mouth. Perhaps somewhere in Armadalus' serious expression a tiny change occured acknowledging the humour, but Simey couldn't be sure.
"Something happened to us - probably to Master Wise Fox also, though we may never know for sure - something that either destroyed or subdued our memories of Eshnar." Armadalus spoke evenly as though what he was saying was obvious and made perfect sense.
Simey snorted slightly, still sceptical. "If you can accept that so easily, why are you worried about our memories - or knowledge - of events coming back?"
"Given the various forces that were at work in and around the city, my instinctively gaining knowledge of the past regarding Eshnar wouldn't overly concern me in itself," said Armadalus, his explanatory manner taking on an edge of reluctance.
"Then what does?" asked Simey.
Armadalus hesitated, failing to keep a faint shadow of anxiety from falling across his face.
"It's happened before."
Post by Beowuuf on Jan 31, 2010 17:30:03 GMT -5
Holmgard, training rooms in the Halls of the Magnamund Knights' Council
"Beowuuf was not certain where the next attack would come from. He moves carefully as his foe raised the blade against him. The confrontation had been unexpected, within a place he had thought safe..."
"Why are you narrating about yourself in the third person?" asked a bemused Sahmas to his father. The wolf creature and once Vakeros paused in mid-description, looking abashed.
"I was simply trying to give the story some weight," replied Beowuuf.
"You mean make the lie seem more plausible?" asked Sahmas with a raised eyebrow.
"Is it implausible that I could be accosted by four Vassgonians on sentry duty?"
"It could be, when they are giak-Vassgonian spawn, you loose a small amount of credibility."
Beowuuf had to concede the point, and grinned. "It is possible, I over-heard a report of something strange occurring," he said.
"I think you are simply stalling so that you don't have to actually test yourself against what I've learned," said the young Vakeros, taking a a step back and testing the blade he had forged for the wolf. There was an odd nervousness and eagerness in the knight. It obviously mattered to him to stand his ground against the wolf, but the enormity of beating someone both of greater experience and stranger body construction was perhaps dawning on him.
Funnily, Beowuuf had equal nervousness and tension as he smiled, winked, and took a decent enough set of short swords from the rack. After all, the expectation was Beowuuf was better, and yet he had to defend himself again a fresh Vakeros with all their energy and technique fresh.
Worse yet, Beowuuf had no idea if his son was any good. How hard could he go on the boy? Damned if he lost, disappointing his son. Yet damned if he won aswell, a worse sin to crush dreams.
Sahmas saw the two short swords, raised an eyebrow, and then picked up a shield from another rack. The two circled around on the treated floor, both holding back for their various reasons
'Oh well, why not...' thought Beowuuf to himself with resignation.
Sahmas staggered back and the wolf suddenly leapt then twisted in an unusual way, blunted short swords both being thrust in different directions. The Vakeros rected on instinct, taking one on he shield, and the other on the bluesteel sword. Sahmas tried to spin the point of his blade to move the deflected short sword's out of the way, and then followed up with a jab.
Beowuuf managed to move out of the way cleanly, and swept his leg to Sahmas's while the Vakeros was distracted. Sahmas again reacted on instinct, and started to lose himself in a battle dance - a speciality of the college of Valos.
Beowuuf spotted it and quickly and awkwardly sprang to the side-
"Argh!" yelled the wolf, collapsing and dropping his weapons.
Sahmas stopped his dance, but held his weapons up for a moment, an uncertain half-smile on his lips as he suspected a ruse. When the wolf continued to ignore his son and instead gripped a leg to himself with a whimper, the young knight's demeanour changed. He dropped his weapons and rushed to the wolf's side.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..." started Sahmas.
"Not...your fault," said Beowuuf in a pained series of gasps, "stepped...on leg wrongly..."
Sahmas looked to get a healer, but Beowuuf waved that away, and used his mental and wolfish disciplines to adjust to the pain, enough to have his son help him up. Beowuuf tested his leg, and found he hadn't done any serious damage.
"I'm sorry!" said Sahmas again.
"For being good, don't be," said Beowuuf, with a pained grin. "You got me to act on instinct, my fault my instincts do not want to admit I am still not in full health."
"No, I mean..I think...I mean, I...I knew..."
"Yes, you probably acted on instinct yourself to go for my weaker side. Never apologise in using your advantages to the full, no matter the situation. The other alternative was that you would hesitate no matter the circumstances. I know which I would rather know of you. Ow." Beowuuf realised his leg wasn't sogood it could take his full weight, and he continued his semi-hop to the wall.
There was a small period of silence as Beowuuf tried to recover his breath and composure, and Sahmas stood hovering nervously and guiltily nearby. Eventually Beowuuf asked the boy to get the bluesteel sword, just to the wolf could buckle a little more and let forth a silent yelp at how much his leg hurt.
Sahmas had a grin on his face when he came bakc with the blade.
"What?" said Beowuuf, with mock suspicion, suspecting his covering of his injury had been spotted and awaiting the ribbing.
"Nothing," said Sahmas, but there was an expectant pause in his delivery, as if he was waiting to say something else. "Just...you were quite aggressive in your attack."
"What?" said Beowuuf, adjusting his thoughts. "Oh, well, you know. There was no point in going soft on you. You are a trained and skilled knight, after all."
Sahmas broke into a wider grin. "So have you put in the word for me? Or will you put it in then?" asked Sahmas with some odd relief.
"To be including with the scouting army!" said Sahmas.
"What? Why would I? It will be dangerous!" said Beowuuf with shock.
"So? Am I not a 'skilled and trained knight'?" asked Sahmas, his face falling and an unaccustomed flash of anger on his face.
Beowuuf winced as he shuffled himself from the wall. "Of course, but... I mean I am not a ranking member of that army. I have no say in it. Besides, I am not going directly with them myself. A few of the border rangers are disguising themselves as simple peasants and going ahead. I am not as inconspicuous, but I am strange enough to be above suspicion of compliance." Beowuuf said the last with a shrug and smile, but his son's expression was still black.
"I see. So you are allowed to risk your life even more than the rest of the army, despite your shortcomings," said the Vakeros, pointing to Beowuuf's leg, "while apparently I am not even fit to join."
"Sahmas, I am not stopping you!" said Beowuuf.
"You might as well be! You know that the younger knights are being held back to act as a defense for Dessi!"
Beowuuf knew this very well. He knew it because he had said exactly the same thing to Gralmis, putting Sahmas's name forward for his suitability in that roll. Safely away from the madness and danger in Sommerlund.
"Look, there is nothing wrong with-"
"Throwing your life away for the greater good against the Darklords and Naar? Apparently not. And apparently I am needed my my people. I should go."
Beouwuf winced, not because of the leg, but from the tone of voice at the 'my people'. The young knight said some pleasantries regarding the curtailed session, but moved away swiftly.
Beowuuf cursed himself, and cursed the situation. Was it wrong for him to be looking out for his son's welfare? Was it just the parent's lot to be wrong, no matter what? Beowuuf watched Sahmas go, and realised that there was really no difference between the two of them. Beowuuf's extra years were not something he had assimilated into himself, they were just a coat that sometimes he didn't notice, sometimes he hide behind, and most of the time simply weighed him down.
In some ways it was hard for Beowuuf to remember how Sahmas would be feeling, and in other ways it was all too easy because Beowuuf still felt like that. No, except not quite. Despite Sahmas's words, hopefully he knew how his father regarded him. Whereas Beowuuf had already lost his own father at Sahmas's age. And was still seeking approval - or currently forgiveness - from his own father figure now.
Why else would Beowuuf have agreed to something as stupid as scouting, once again, within Sommerlund? Did the guilt over dragging Dessi into this mess, and the more personal guilt of abandoning Gralmis, not act as powerful motivators.
Yes, Beowuuf could very easily sympathise with his son, and his son's desire to do good. After all, Tamas had done no less during his starting career. Could he really deny Sahmas that and built a resentment in the boy?
The wolf briefly considered having another word with Gralmis, but the resulting wave of nausia at the thought answered the question. No, Beowuuf would rather deal with his son's resentment instead of his son's death. To be honest with himself, he had no conviction to sacrifice even his own life for Sommerlund's problems right now, let alone a sacrifice greater. Beowuuf was enough of a coward as to not have that conversation, and perversely enough of a coward to stay behind and not run as far ahead of the amry as possible into danger.
Beowuuf looked down at the sword in his hand, and sheathed it into his belt without a further look.
Post by eviltb on Feb 3, 2010 8:12:23 GMT -5
The NAK eviltb released his grip from the warriors’ wrist-bow. Blood was flowing freely now from the wound and his brief foe lay still. Eviltb closed his eyes and concentrated. Using his Dark Discipline of Debilitation, the Hunter drew the life force from the other, letting its energy course through him, revitalising him. He opened his eyes from his trance and rose to his feet. Scanning around the quickly, eviltb tried to look for a way out of this tomb. The room however, was completely sealed. No crack or opening appeared visible, nor could he feel any breeze or scent of air. He ran his hand over the wall he had appeared from. No trace of the Shadow Gate was left, nor was there any indication that it had appeared before. He returned to the body and turned it over, rummaging through its belongings. Along with the wrist-bow, he found ammo and the warriors’ sword. All unfortunately, gave no clue as to how to escape or how indeed the warrior entered! Eviltb kicked the corpse in frustration. He unhooked the warriors sheath and took it, along with the wrist-bow and ammo. Another curse, he had been dragged through the Shadow Gate unarmed. He drew the blade and held it aloft. The blade was well made and felt light in his hand. The Hunter placed the sharp end of the blade across his hand, with the smallest of feather touches. When he moved the sword away, already there was a deep cut flowing freely. Eviltb grinned; the sword would serve him well.
Strapping the bow to his wrist and shouldering the bolts, eviltb went over to the pool. It was odd to the NAK that such a natural life-giving thing should appear in a place of death. It made no matter, as he knelt by the pool and drank deeply. The water was fresh, fresher than expected. The Hunter continued to drink as the water flowed through his fingers. He was tired travelling through the gate and - despite the recent energy drain - it was good to have something meaningful inside of him. He finished drinking and sat back against the tomb and closed his eyes. As the water coursed through his system, it sparked the faintest of memories. Something previously thought lost. A room, in a house on a field of green, the sun rising high in the morning sky….
A noise then, suddenly, broke the Hunter from his thoughts. The memory disappeared as quickly as it had came, lost once again. Eviltb hid as best as he could, drawing in the darkness around him, using his Obscurement to its fullest. A door slide open in the far wall and three warriors, clad in similar armour to the one killed previously, stepped into the room. The each held a torch in their hand and walked forward with swords drawn. One saw the body and instantly went to it.
“R’Avashta! Brothers, he has been slain!”
The warrior cradled the corpses head in his arms, closed his eyes tight and mourned his companion. The others lowered their eyes in what seemed like a silent prayer. As they lifted their heads, their gaze moved to the pool. One walked over and picked up the spilled dust bowl. Nervously, he took a pinch a sprinkled it into the pool. A few seconds seemed like hours as all three watched for the colour change. The dust sparkled blue, but from his hiding point eviltb could see it was a darker shade than before.
“That’s not right! It’s the wrong colour!” Again, the one cradling R’Avashta spoke, the fear obvious in his voice. He looked around and could see the smallest trickle of blood that had seeped from R’Avashtas wounds had made it was to the pool. “What do we do now?!”
“Quiet, Zaeed!” Another of the warriors spoke. He removed his helm and turned to the others. “Yes, the water does seem to be spoiled. By the blood of our own as well, it would seem.” He replaced his helm and fastened it. “R’Avashtas death is unfortunate, but you seem to be forgetting this is a sealed room and R’Avashta has obviously been murdered. The killer is still here, somewhere”.
Eviltbs heart leaped into his mouth. The door had closed as soon as the men had stepped in, so his way out was barred again. Adjusting the wrist-bow, he would have to kill again to escape. Raising his arm he took aim and fired. The snap of the bow alerted the warriors and they spun around just in time to see a crystal bolt thud into Zaeeds neck. Zaeeds eyes went wide with shock as he fell down next to R’Avashta, still holding the others head in his hands. The NAK then sprung from his hiding place, sword raised as he dashed at the remaining warriors. The two men were quick and aware, and parried their attackers’ blows. Eviltb thrust and parried like a man possessed. The sword felt natural in his hand and it seemed it would serve him well. The men however, were well rested and well trained and between the two of them managed to hold of the advancing Hunter. One took a quick side-step which eviltb was not expecting, this made the Hunter lose his footing for a split-second. In that time the warrior who moved raised his hand and brought the pommel of his sword down directly on the back of eviltbs head. Once again, the Hunters world went dark.
The NAK eviltb opened his eyes once again. He tried to rise but could not. His hands and arms were tied and he was slumped in corner. He struggled and tried to free himself, yet the sudden cold press of steel against his cheek soon made him change his mind. He raised his head and saw, again another sword held again by another warrior. He could hear voices off somewhere else, raised voices arguing over something. Eviltb sat up as best he could and looked around. There were 4 warriors in the room with him, one holding the blade to his face and three others all with loaded bows being pointed at him, not more than two meters away. Escape, it would seem, was improbable. At least for the moment, he thought to himself.
The door opened and another warrior appeared – do all these peoples look and dress exactly the same?! – who motioned to the others. Eviltb was picked up unceremoniously and dragged into another room. He legs were freed and he was dumped into a chair. His hands were then freed yet the sharp point of a blade against the back of his neck again discouraged any escape attempt.
“You seem very sure for a man who dares not face me!” eviltb snarled at this captor. The only response he received was a harder push on his neck. Eviltb looked around as best he could. He was underground again, possibly in another tomb. He could see the intricate decal on the walls and the sarcophagi dotted around. In front of him was a make-shift desk of bamboo, behind which another chair. A curtain had been draped behind it. This curtain now moved and another figure stepped out. Eviltb was surprised to see this was – for once – not wearing armour, but simple robes. What stood out most was that this man was a lot older than the others. The wrinkles on his face showed not only his age but also the stress of many furrowed brows. The old man sat behind the desk and motioned once to the guard. The blade was released from his neck and the guard stepped out of the room. Eviltb could feel the blood run down his neck from the wound, but he reigned in on rubbing it clean. Once the guard had left, the old man raised his head and spoke.
“Welcome Aonian. I am the Meledor Ironheart, know as Lorkon. It has been many years since I last met one of your kind. When he was last here, together we defeated the Chaos-master as he was then.” The mention of the Chaos-master name made the NAK look up. Lorkon nodded in recognition. “Now, you return to us when our foe may have departed but his legacy remains.”
Eviltb shifted in his chair. “Who was this other person?” Lorkon responded, “Like you he came from Aon, he was on a quest for the God of the Sun.” Eviltb sat up his chair and spat. “I am not one of those! My Lord and his power are far greater than anything produced from the Sun realm!”
Lorkon held for a moment before answering. “Indeed as you say, yet here you are trapped in another Plane with no apparent means of escape.” The Meledor paused and poured two goblets of liquid, one of which he offered to eviltb. The NAK did not move, so the drink was simply placed in front of him.
“Your coming was foretold, long ago.” Lorkon took a sip from his cup. “It was foretold that the doom of the Meledorians would fall on not their own doing, but by those from outside. Once such meeting would bring our salvation, the other would lead to our destruction. For us though, there was no way of telling which would arrive first. Since the child of the Sun brought us our relief, it was surmised that the next would destroy us.”
Eviltb sat back and listened to the old man talk. A traveller he was now, and this other who had come before, a green-cloak, one of the accursed Kai who had held him captive that long time ago. Eviltb pondered to himself what this meant, as the old man continued with this tale. He was lost in his own thought, that he tuned into the old mans speech as it was closing.
“…and so we have learned to accept our fate. The last water supply has been spoiled. Soon we will not be able to sustain ourselves. Our time has come.” Eviltb noticed the slight sadness that hid behind the others eyes. Lorkan quickly dismissed the look, however. “Child of Darkness, the Chaos-master is a being that threatens all life. Good, Evil, everything is under peril from its attack. You have seen what has become of us. Soon we will be gone, but we are hoping that other worlds will not suffer the same fate. To this end, we must return you to Magnamund to face this terror.”
Eviltb scoffed, “And how do expect to accomplish these feat?” Lorkan smiled once more. “It would be wise for you to take a drink..”, and he disappeared again behind the curtain.
Eviltb raised the goblet, which contained a thick purple substance. He could detect no poisons or abnormalities within the glass, yet there was an air of something surrounding it. He lifted the drink to his lips and took a sip. The liquid tasted of nothing, as it slid down his throat. Lifting the glass he finished it in one. As he did, Lorkan stepped back into the room carrying some objects with him.
“Ah good, you have drunk. This will aid us a lot more.” He sat once again with a sigh, and placed the objects on the table. Amongst them were weapons and what looked like a small amulet. Eviltb reached for them, looking at Lorkan as he did. The old man simply nodded his approval. Eviltb picked up the sword and drew it. It was the same he had obtained from the warrior he killed, except this was now dark and looked almost like glass. He swung it this way and that gauging its strength and balance. “This is a good sword”, he remarked and sheathed it to his side. Also included was a new wrist-bow and a full pouch of crystal bolts. Eviltb strapped this to his shield hand. The last item was a small amulet. “And what is this trinket” the Hunter asked. Lorkan replied, “This amulet will protect you from the elements as you travel through to your world. In turn, with the liquid you have consumed, will help our Elders guide you back to where you left your home world. We can do this only once, then we are consigned to our fate” Eviltb fastened the amulet around his neck. “Very well, I am ready.”
Lorkan stood and motioned for the other to follow. He drew back the curtain and stepped into a large circle room. Around the edge at least a dozen other Meledorians sat holding a round ball in their laps. They were each whispering in hushed tones to the ball. Lorkan pointed to eviltb and directed him to the middle of the circle. As soon as he stepped the voices of the Elders rose as one by one they stood and held their talisman aloft. Blue sparks flew from each ball, as a point of light shot from and landed near the Hunters feet. As each point began to join, the wind rose and started to howl around the room. The floor grew brighter, and then the unmistakable swirl of a Shadow Gate appeared. Eviltb looked one last time at Lorkan, raised his wrist and fired his bow. As soon as his finger hit the trigger, the floor gave out underneath him and he fell into the now open Gate.
Post by Simey on Mar 20, 2010 22:49:36 GMT -5
Who is he?
Simey pushed his way through the streets, trying desperately to get back to the inn.
What does he want?
The crowds swirling through the streets, impeding his progress, were an echo of his maelstromic thoughts.
How did he know?
He couldn't focus to properly recall where the inn was, and so was probably taking a ridiculous route back to it.
Who does he work for?
Finally his surroundings started to look familiar, but the closer he felt to his destination, the more unbearable the pressure to escape and be alone became.
Who else knows?
The Crow and Quarry lurched into sight and he flung himself towards it, his desperate gaze fixed upon its entrance way.
What are they going to do to me?
"We were in Cloeasia; your men were still with us," said Armadalus with an air of apprehension. "It was when we were camped by some trees and I was telling you how I'd encountered the beast creature that we'd been hunting."
Simey tensed. He recalled the situation all too well, though he had not heard most of Armadalus' story, because a hallucination had taken his mind for several minutes.
"I told you everything that had happened," Armadalus went on: "how the creature had attacked and slaughtered my men one by one and how in attacking it myself I'd been so easily tossed away and knocked unconscious."
Simey's heart quickened. The Sommlending was not speaking in any detail, but what he had just described fitted very well with what Simey had imagined when Armadalus had been telling his story originally.
"My story was to conclude," continued Armadalus ponderously, starting to speak as though every phrase was something of an effort to utter, "with my telling of how I awoke to find the head of the Kai that accompanied us, ripped from his body, lying in front of me."
Simey was breathing in nervous, uncertain breaths, and he was glad that the strain of Armadalus' account had taken the Sommlending's eyes to the floor, so that he was not observing the acute apprehension that was clearly etched on Simey's face. The Kai having been decapitated was not something he'd seen, but a Kai having been present at all tallied excrutiatingly with his vision of the time.
"But suddenly I knew more than that," said Armadalus, clearly trying to control the incomprehension in his voice. "I knew that the Kai had hit the creature with an arrow, which had been insufficient to bring it down. He had pursued it for only a short while longer before he'd been snatched up into the tree branches and...."
Armadalus looked up, his expression perplexed but searching, his big shoulders rising and falling with fitful, uneasy breaths. Simey met his gaze for a long, taut moment, then looked away, his mind too confused by the panic of apparently having his own hallucination related back to him to even start to make sense of what was happening.
"He cried out, and was silenced as the beast killed him," said Armadalus, his tone changing slightly as though in gradual revelation at something. "I didn't remember what happened to the Kai after I fell; I suddenly just knew it."
Even whilst looking away from the man, Simey was horribly aware that Armadalus was regarding him ever more intently; it felt as though the Sommlending was hunting through his mind, coming ever closer to the truth.
"And I was too shocked by that at the time to notice properly," Armadalus continued, the pace of his speech quickening, "but something happened to you. You fell off the log you were sitting on."
Simey abruptly stood up. He half intended to explain away his need to depart, but no words would come from his lips, so what should have been the supportive accompaniment of his left hand gesturing towards the door was left as an abstract solo overture to his suddenly hurrying past Armadalus to escape.
"Vojske," said the Sommlending in an attempt at a soothing tone, reaching up to take hold of Simey's forearm. Simey shook him off and made straight for the door.
Sitting on the bed in his room at the Crow and Quarry, Simey tried hard to slow his thoughts down, to focus on one horrifying possibility at a time.
Had Armadalus - as he knew him, though who knew who he really was - been hunting him all along? Or not so much him as proof of his mind's unravelling? Had somebody somehow suspected what was happening and sent Armadalus after him to discover the truth? He had superiors in the Order of the White Mountain that were none too fond of his want to work in Slovia; had they perhaps found a perfect excuse to rescind his knighthood?
But that seemed so incredible, particularly as the charade had gone on for months. And Armadalus seemed so unlike someone who acted on the orders of others.
Was he then acting alone? What could his purpose be in exposing a junior knight as a madman? The Sommlending did seem to be driven by some unknown purpose, but what was that purpose such that he had come after someone so unimportant as Simey? If he really did hunt darkspawn, did he suspect Simey of being something more sinister than a man losing his mind?
There was a worse possibility.
Was there some truth to it all? Had the things he'd seen....?
Simey shook his head in distressed annoyance. That was insane. It was bad enough that he endured sporadic episodes of craziness without starting to entertain lunatic ideas while he has reasonably lucid.
He looked despairingly at the door to the room. For the rest of today he could probably get away with hiding in here: no one was expecting him for dinner, and his superiors had too much to worry about and organise to need him around immediately. But come tomorrow people would start to look for him. And he would have to eat and drink something eventually. He could run away, escape during the night. But he would have no idea what he was running from, nor whether running might have even worse eventual consequences.
Simey pushed himself backwards until his back was against the wall, and pulled his legs tightly up to his chest, wrapped his arms around his knees and buried his face in them. The bewilderment, the anger, the fear, the wretchedness: all filled his mind until he couldn't hold them in any longer, and they took physical form to escape.