Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 13:12:19 GMT -5
This first part is not so much the story of Beowuuf as an introductory story that may or may not have lead to entering the West Watch - although obviously it did! Later in this thread is a character description and summary of Beowuuf's story, the full six part 'Story of...' I finally wrote, and also small story segments to augment West Watch posts (ie, when characters were talking just too darn much and I needed to get on with the plot in the main West Watch thread!) Also is an eight part short story (that follows on from these first story posts) that Aguila Saber wrote as part of an auction on the old TotS forum.
The edge of a wood on the outskirts of Sommerlund.
"Simm, enough of your games. This was fun for a few minutes but father will need us back soon."
"I told you Kalmyn, it IS here! You will see, you will see, you will seeeeeeee... A dog man!"
Kalmyn had to physically restrain his younger sister from bouncing onto his sore foot (aqain), and looked around worried. It was dim afternoon, and though they were not far from home, they were far enough. Their father often tried to impress on them the dangers that existed now. Even a trip to the bushes and trees of this small wood could result in dangers. Seemingly innocent travellers could be Helghast. A lone Doomwolf travelling for miles starved of food, following a scent could find a small and unwary child.
These stories may not have captured Kalmyn's imagination except his father always made sure to gestured with his right arm, the one he didn't have anymore. Although the arm had been lost in the war, it still made a powerful impression. The ghost hand pointing was as much play of imagination as Kalmyn needed, he didn't have to chase phantoms in the trees.
Simm, being younger, simply bounced around excited at the prospect of petting a Doomwolf and didn't realise that the 'no' would never turn into a 'yes' about keeping one as a pet if she ever found one.
Simm, also being the younger, couldn't be relied on not to use her imagination in other places.
"Father," she had said earnestly last week. "Father, look at me!"
Their father had stopped preparing the roast and turned around. Kalmyn stopped preparing the meagre vegetables and looked on interested.
"Today," she said proudly, "I saw a Darklord."
"Simmista Tolan," intoned their father, "we do not make those sort of jokes in this home"
"It was it was it was it was it was it was it was it..!"
She was cowed - for a moment. "But...it was pure black and had evil black eyes and it had black wings and the beak was evil and yellowy and black and..."
"Simm," Kalmyn had said gently, "that was a crow"
"Well of course it was a crow!" she said triumphantly as her proof was realised. "A Darklord would never look like a Darklord. Lone Woof might come back and kill it until it was dead!"
"Lone WOLF is gone Simm, you know the stories. And Lone WOLF killed all the Darklords many many many years ago." Kalmyn noticed his father shifting nervously for some reason.
"Yes," said Simm unpeturbed, "but Lone Woof didn't kill them all per-son-nally did he, they said...he..got distracted or needed a nap or something ...so some might have escaped!"
Simm would not be discouraged and threw a fit when their father told her to stop such nonesense. She wouldn't be consolled all evening until their father promised that as long as it behaved well and had its fangs removed and didn't go toilet in the house then yes, she could keep any doomwolves she found.
And so it was Kalmyn now stood at the edge of the trees nervous because of his yelling sister. He hoped his sister was lying about the red eyed slavering loping dog man. He hoped his sister was mistaking a tree or innocent traveller or cat for one. Except even an innocent traveller may not be an innocent traveller. And a dog man could easily be...
"Simm, are you sure it was not a wolf?"
"Nooooooooo, it walked on two legs, I told you, except with a weird walk like when you hurt your foot..."
"You dropped a pan on it"
"It was hot!"
"Yes it was." Kalmyn felt hairs stand up on the back of his neck, a strange sense of disquiet rose and made his stomach feel strange. "Simm, let's go. Now."
Simm shook her head defiantly.
"Please?" asked Kalmyn
Simm stopped bouncing, her face looking worried as she regarded her brother. Then her eyes looked passed her brother, and her face looked excited and shocked simultaneously.
Kalmyn heard the russle behind him, managing the dexterity of spinning around and pushing his sister behind him at the same time.
The creature was how Simm had described it with a dog-like red-eyed face. It walked upright like a man, but its arms were longer and clawed, and its legs were sinewy. It carried a bundle under one arm, and seemed to be cradling something else under the other. It stood breathing hard, looking with its strange eyes slowly down to the two children.
"I told you"
"Simm...it has red eyes and a jawful of teeth. Simm. Its real."
"Simm, stay behind me, yes?" Kalmyn tried to lick his lips but his mouth was too dry. He didn't like to think about his mouth, he could taste bile rising, feeling sick. The ghost arm of his father was pointing at Kalmyn - 'you let your sister down'.
Kalmyn tried to control his breathing and look at the thing infront of him. It did not seem threatening. The eyes, when he dared to meet then, seemed intelligent.
He raised his hand very slowly in greeting, trying to control the shaking. "Hello?" he said. Then he noticed the object cradled under the creature's other arm was dripping blood.
"GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHH!" it snarled.
"Run Simm!" Kalmyn yelled pushing his sister back and staggering forward. He did not know what he though he could do.
Simm, freed, did indeed run - directly towards the creature.
"Mister Dog!" she cried as she ran towards it, and Kalmyn's limbs and voice froze.
"...help..." said the creature in a normal if laboured voice as it fell to its knees.
"Kalmyn," said Simm with genuine concern, "Help him! Tug out the arrow! Tug out the arrow!" She turned and pointed to the arrow sticking out from the creature's ribcage it was gingerly handling.
"No!" said the creature with feeling. "It...hurts as you...may have..heard..."
"Do you...do you children...have...a father..."
"Yes," said Simm excited and worried, almost shrieking.
"Is he close by?"
"Does he...use...arrows like...ah...this one..."
"Good. Go...ah...get him...". So saying the creature collapsed into the ground on its face.
"Come on!" said Simm earnestly, grabbing Kalmyn. Kalmyn let his legs and sister carrying him away, looking back at the strange creature with utter confusion.
It was hard to focus the eyes. He couldn't think why it was, his eyes were usually sharp. Then he felt the dull ache in his chest and remembered the arrow.
He tried to raise himself up but his eyes finally got used to his torchlight surroundings and he spotted what was poking into him and pushing him back down. A one armed man holding a pitchfork was standing aggressively over him. The stern gaze would have been enough frankly to keep him down. That combined with the weakness from his wound.
"Thank you but..." he started to say, but was poked in warning. He snarled as he felt the arrow move in his chest, not removed, merely padded around with rags infused with...something scented.
"Who are you?" asked the one armed man.
"Have you heard of the Beowuuf?" he answered.
"No. Is that what you are?"
"Pity. Its who I am, yes" said Beowuuf. "Who are you?"
"Tyla Toran," said the man, "and behind me is my son Kalmyn." A boy Beowuuf vaguely remembered came forward. "And in his hands he is holding up a cerulean cloak and a Vakeros tunic."
Beowuuf was allowed to painfully raise himself enough to see the young boy nervously holding an oversided cloak in one hand and the colourful tunic in the other.
"You looked in my pack?"
"Yes, tucked under your arm firmly it was. I have to ask myself why...why would a Vakeros tunic, usually worn by a Vakeros knight, be in the pack of a creature who seems to be hairier than the Vakeros Knights I have ever met."
"You have met Vakeros Knights?" said Beowuuf incredulously, if weakly so resting back on the floor.
The stern face got sterner. "I was a farmer, but then the war came. I served my King faithfully until I could not, and served with his allies. True allies and good men such as our cousins in Durenor and the dwarves of Bor and the Vakeros Knights of Dessi."
Poke. "How did you meet one?"
Beowuuf's ragged breath hissed for a moment. He blinked fuzzy eyes, fighting light headed euphoria at the pain.
"Would you believe," he began in an almost sing-song voice, "the legend of the Beowuuf as a group of Elder Magi from the the time of Agarash the Damned? Those who, after Agarash's defeat, when the Cener sent their plague, sought to change their form to one immune?" He blinked and laughed. "Without any greater success at resisting the disease than their more sensible brothers?
"What's an Older Magee?" asked a small female voice in a darker corner.
"Would you believe," continued Beowuuf, ignoring the voice that must be in his head, and the rising register of his own voice, "would you believe that once the plague had decimanted their ranks too, they returned to their brothers. Reduced in magic with their form, some left to roam the edges, others stayed to teach their reduced but aggressive magics as battle magics as captains to those who would become the Vakeros knights?"
"No, me...either." said Beowuuf hissing with a weak laugh and baring his teeth in a strange grin. "Would you believe that...a set of Vakeros knights were captured by the Darklords and...tortured...and that some roam abroad in shame at their form, others...returned to service...but prefer to roam as lone hunters away from their...fellows?"
"Ah well." Beowuuf closed his eyes. "Would you...believe," he said very quietly, "that...I am...still losing...blood...and will probably die...unless...you help me?" His head rolled.
Tyra looked behind him at his children, then let his pitchfork fall and cautiously bent down to check on the strange creature.
Beowuuf's arm shot up and grabbed the farmer, his body shooting up.
"Did anything fall from my pack," he said in tight sharp words.
"No!" said Tyra, shocked into not reacting.
Beowuuf fell backwards heavily releasing the man.
"...good..." said Beowuuf in a gentle hiss. "I'd hate to lose...the soap. Blood...from...hunter arrow...hell to...shift...fur..."
"That's a Giak arrow," said Tyra, half to himself
The creature yipped in barking laughter that racked his body. "...good...hate...die...accident..."
Blood flowed freely from the wound despite Tyra trying to restrain the creature, and this time Beowuuf did fall unconscious.
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 13:12:52 GMT -5
There was pain. Beowuuf snarled and called out to imaginery companions from stories he had heard when younger. He tried to lash out with his hand and felt it restrained. A litany of unintelligable words soothed his brow, and he was dimly aware of a compassionate face. He apologised for a hundred things until his own murmering soothed him to sleep again.
Beowuuf jerked upright, coming to attention quickly as his mind was trained to do. He focused on the small round face of a young blond haired girl.
"Hello," she said, and Beowuuf blinked in reply. She was looking between his face and the face of a man sitting behind her, a face apparently concerned. Her familiar face had already triggered a memory of seeing it at the edge of the woods. That in turn reminded him of the last few moments of consciousness he had experienced. It also reminded him who one of the stern men across from him was, the one with the concerned face.
"Father!" cried the girl, "All I wanted to do was see the hole underneath!"
The girl pouted and backed away from the area she had obviously just poked at. Beowuuf doubted he could have slept through the acute pain coming from his ribs now, and guessed what had woken him up.
"So, Mister Dog, do you have a hole there now?" asked Simmista earnestly. "Can you keep things in it? Would it rattle around in your ribs?"
"Simmista..." chidded her father gently. His stern face broke as did his concern as he managed to pull her away and and he lead his inquisitive daughter out of the room.
It was now very dark save for the low burning candle. Beowuuf could only dimly see the side of his chest with the white area of neat cloth pressed down with some form of sap. The smell was key, the pungent stench of it telling him more than his eyes could.
"So, you are 'Beowuuf'," said the other stern faced figure remaining, the one he knew he did not recognise.
"From the original 'beo-weufi' in my people's language, meaning literally 'the looking ones', although 'seeker' is a better term. "
"So what is your real name?"
"I do not object to 'Looking One'," said Beowuuf, rolling his joints around and trying to lift his body up. "If you must know though," he said, raising himself up gentle and looking conspiratorially to the man, "I am really Lone Wolf. I was brought back by my ultmimate Lord, Kai, who has a sense of humour. Shhh, do not tell anyone."
"Should you not posssess a Kai Cloak and not a Vakeros cloak then?"
"Then people would know who I was," said Beowuuf, unknowingly immitating a tone Simmistra used many times. "And is there anyone in Sommerlund who does not intimately know the dress of warriors half a world away?"
"The dress and the language of the land of Dessi," said the healer. He smiled for the briefest of moments. "I was a lesser physician in the court of King Ulnar in my younger days."
"That may explain why I am not dead then. My eternal thanks," said Beowuuf with a serious expression, looking over and bowing slightly to the man. The healer was older, though his age was not easy to determine. He was dressed in brown, sandy robes and sat cross legged in silent comtemplation. However the robes were merely travel robes, the sitting position merely for comfort, and were it not for Beowuuf still being alive, he would not have reckoned the man as outstanding in any way.
Well, there was one thing - while the man's tone was light his look was usually stern. A physician who would never scare you but whom you would never cross.
Beowuuf looked around the dim interior and spotted what he was looking for in a clay dish in dark water. He then winced as he tried to get out of the makeshift bed he was lying on.
"I would not move," said the healer.
"Could you pass me the arrow then?" Beowuuf asked. The physician blanched. "I am not going to stab anyone with it," Beowuuf said with a pained expression, brought on by rising up too fast rather than a reaction to mistrust.
"He will not touch it," said a quiet voice, belonging to a boy less blond than his sister, "He says it is pure evil." The boy had been hiding behind the healer, and had a straighter face than his sister, without the fearlessness in expression. The face did possess a growing curiosity though, a curiosity strong enough to bring him forward.
Beowuuf searched hismemory. "You are...Kam-"
"Good, I am Beowuuf, and I hope you are not still afraid of me. I really would like to examine the thing that almost killed me, if I may?"
The boy looked over at the healer, but the healer simply shrugged a lack of concern. The boy then looked towards the door his father had left from, hesitating at seeing no sign of a return. Whether Kalmyn had needed reassurance or was worried about being stopped in somehting he wished to do, Beowuuf had no idea.
Kalmyn licked his lips and slowly reached out for the simple looking arrow. The dark interior made everything look dirty and crude and blackened, but the arrow did not lose any of those properties to a stray shaft of light. The boy looked lost in the strange item he held, as if he felt something from it. Making his strange devotions again first with glances to the healer then the door, Kalmyn strode cautiously towards the creature lying in a makeshift bed of straw. The red eyes were alreay hypnotised as the arrows came nearer, head twisting slowly this way and that watching the play of shadows and light on the tip, the shaft, and the dripping water.
Kalmyn hesitated again as he neared the reach of Beowuuf, then Beowuuf noticed Kalmyn's expression softened, as if Kalmyn were chosing to trust his instincts over his fears. The weapon was slowly proffered, and Beowuuf made sure he was equally as slow in reaching out to take it. He also made sure to bow his head in thanks, and to not open is mouth wide in his customary toothy grin.
"What...what is it? Is it a Giak arrow?" asked Kalmyn, suddenly as hypnotised as Beowuuf had been now that the creature span it slowly in a variety of angles.
"No. Not crude enough." Beowuuf cocked his head as he looked at the flight then at the tip. "And not damaged enough. I can sense..." He stopped and looked over at the healer. "This is the same arrow?"
"Yes, it the arrow I removed that threatened your life," said the healer.
"For which I am still grateful," said Beowuuf, interrupting his revelry long enough to break into a toothy grin.
"I think he means you still should not be moving," said Kalmyn, but he was distracted by the arrow still and came closer. "What can you sense?" he asked hesitantly.
Beowuuf looked grim. "Magic," he said darkly. "Which would explain why my shielding spell did not work. A good thing the enchantment was not to improve the aim." Beowuuf tried to get up again, and staggered back against the bed.
"I told you you should not move," said the healer.
"'Should not' is not the same as 'can not', and I would even disagree with you on the 'should not'. Please, can you hand me my possessions and help me up?"
"Your possessions? Certainly," the healer turned around where he was sitting, picking up the pack. He turned back. "So which ones did you steal?"
Beowuuf immediately stiffened. "I told you - well, I told...Tyra - the cloak is mine. I am a Vakeros knight."
"I believe you. And I cannot see you possess any other extraordinary items that you would have stolen..." For some reason the Healer's eyes flicked briefly over Beowuuf. "Yet in your delirium, you apologised for stealing something important...what was it I wonder?"
"I told you the arrow threatened your life."
"Well, I heal swiftly. And I am surprised an experienced physician would seriously listen to the words of delirium."
"Perhaps I am too long retired from service. Or perhaps I am experienced enough to tell true delirius mutterings from clear expression."
Beowuuf locked eyes with the healer for a moment but then gave up with the effort of sitting up. "I cannot imagine why with my appearance you believe I am a knight."
"Also in your delirium you tried to cast battle magics."
Beowuuf looked sharply. "I assume I did not succeed?" The healer shook his head. "My apologies," said Beowuuf, resting back for a moment but not closing his eyes. He breathed deeply and lifted himself up again.
"You see," said Bewouuf, "another good reason why I should leave. Now. Can I have my possessions?"
"I thought you did not want him to move," said the voice of Tyra as the man came back through the door. He seemed concerned again at the words he had heard.
"I do not," said the healer, a stern look as he stood, but nonetheless a slight smile as he looked back over to Beowuuf.
The healer left the room and Tyra settled near enough in the healer's place - wardens, Beowuuf realised.
Beowuuf flicked his eyes to where the healer had departed, and to the man he rememberd as being Tyra, the father, now sat. He stood looking for a moment, and the man returned his gaze impassively. The only break in his expression was a slight relief when Kalmyn stepped back towards where his father sat.
"How did you lose your arm?" Beowuuf asked Tyra bluntly. Kalmyn looked shocked and Tyra bristled.
"War," Tyra answered tersely.
"I guessed," said Beowuuf, "I wanted to point out you have given enough in this life." He tried to get up again and failed. Beowuuf rolled his head and looked out of the window to the darkening day.
"You have two children to be proud of, and I assume a wife..."
"The war," said Tyra tersely.
Beowuuf sighed deeply. "Then you have certainly given enough, and I do not wish to risk what you have by staying here even one night when someone is obviously looking for me."
"You have already," said Tyra simply, "you have been unconscious for a night and a day."
Beowuuf winced at the news.
Tyra contined. "Jat the physician felt you would have been left for dead." Then Tyra grew stern. "More important, you are under my roof. I would not leave you to die."
Beowuuf bowed his head low, and not because of the pain from movement. "That is a large risk to take on someone you do not know, who appearance is..."
"You were wounded by an evil arrow, and are now worried about our safety. So I ignore your appearance. You are not evil and I will make sure you are sheltered and safe."
"Life is never that simple" said Beowuuf.
"Life is not. Our choices are."
The two men lapsed into a silence as they eyed one another.
Kalmyn wanted to say something. Something about how he was nervous around Jat, and he could not work out why. Well, Jat had been the one to tend to his mother, so perhaps it was understandable.
Although perhaps he was not nervous about Jat himself, merely Jat's influence. If Jat had his way this creature would stay and the danger would pass. And suddenly Kalmyn did not want that. He wanted some danger, something to happen. He wished this frightening creature to leave, and Kalmyn wished he could go too.
However, there was a noise at the door. The healer had chosen this moment to come back in and it broke Kalmyn's resolve. Jat was carrying a small pouch in his hands which he was opening.
"Jat... " said Beowuuf, "I think you need to talk your friend here into some sense..."
Jat walked towards Beowuuf quickly. The healer's stern face was less stern as he dipped his fingers into the pouch, and when he brought them out he pressed them into the rag over Beowuuf's wound.
"And you," said the healer, "need to stop moving..."
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 13:13:36 GMT -5
Beowuuf jerks upright. The pain is less, but he can tell the edge is dulled in his mind alone and not in his body. It takes him a second to realise something has woken him up, a second to realise that means he fell unconscious, and further seconds for this to mean anything. A noise...
"I underestimated the dose, " says the healer, walking through the door.
"I have a fast body," says Beowuuf with a grinning smile, which turns to confusion as he tries to work out if what he said makes sense. "Good for healing but makes it difficult to get drunk," he adds to no-one in particular, and shakes his head to try and remove the woolly headedness.
"I had hoped you might stay asleep until the afternoon," says the healer. "How do you feel?"
"As if I had an arrow most skillfully and successfully and painfully and successfully removed from my chest yet it has left a very large and deep and cavernous...and...gaping...and ...chasmous?...hole that needs to heal and fill with blood again and..."
The healer pats Beowuuf on the arm as the creature murmers to himself. "Beowuuf, I believe you need more rest. You forget how you came to be here."
"Ah, no, I remember plainly that - it was the Knight's council. I was assigned there, you see, to take me away from the homeland. Not good at playing well with the others, perhaps, now."
"Beowuuf..." warns the healer, perhaps realising he is spekaing out of turn.
"No," says Beowuuf, waving his hands,"you should know the dangers out there, that the council and your allies and even King Kian himself fears. The Helghast and Nad-Adez Konkor and Drakaros..oh, except not even the Knight's coucil needs to know about those, or else they really would not let a Gorak Orgadak and Vakeros like myself serve a mission for them." He paused for breath. "These days even Naar's foot falls you know!" he giggles.
"Beowuuf, you are babbling...it is the medicine..."
"You know the difference between babbling and the truth though, do you not!" Beowuuf laughs a small high pitched laugh. "But you do not know the dangers, no one tells the little people about the dangers. Dark Kai warriors in your own lands. That should scare everyone, not just those in power. Why else would I be sent here to spy?"
There is a deep silence and Beowuuf rolls his head over to the robed man. The man is looking at him, an odd expression.
"What do you mean spy?" he asks carefully.
"I mean spy...roam the lands, look for evidence of the Kai in general acting in a manner not befitting the guardians of the west. Massing. Movement. I do not know..."
"That is impossible," says the healer, shaking his head finally. "The King, our Knights...even if our allies felt suspicious, the Kai are our greatest hope against the darkness."
Beowuuf laughs and laughs until he has to clutch his wound. The healer moves forward to restrain him and look at the wound, but Beowuuf grips him instead, pulls himself upwards to look intently into the old man's eyes. "You have been too long out of the courts and world if you believe that." Beowuuf falls back down and then laughs. "And you are the better for it not to believe! I do not believe! " He shakes his head, warding off conflicting emptions and memories. "I was only apporached by a lone officer after a meeting. For all I know it is a rogue faction, a single officer, but it could just as easily be handed directly down by King Kian himself!"
Beowuuf stares pitifully at the healer who is rising and looking around for his pouch.
"You do not understand, for all I know I was approached by a Helghast, looking to stir trouble." Beowuuf snarls. "And I did not care. A Darklord could have strode in, Naar himself could have appeared in a cloud of filth to tell me to go on this mission and not come back until I had found enough false evidence to create schisms in the lands. And I would still have come out! I just had to get away from the confines." A laugh again. "Who knew a wolf would hate confinement! If I had know I..." Beowuuf bites off the words confused, suddenly looking shocked.
Jat came forward with the pouch, sits down gently.
"Rest again Beowuuf," he says, "you should not be sharing these...troubling...things with me, I imagine. Next you will be telling me your origins, and you have tried so hard to keep them from us."
"But you need to know the dangers!" says again in a more reasonable tone, "You tell me to rest, put yourself in danger, yet you you do not evn know me..." Beowuuf shakes his head again, his eyes clear more. "No. Not that. You are right. " Beowuuf gives Jat a deep look, then the pouch. Then he smells the air deeply.
"What is that smell?" he asks, blinking his eyes and breathing normally as if to clear his head that way.
"It is the medicine..."
"No. The other smell..."
Now Jat gives Beowuuf the deep look. "What smell is that?" he asks carefully.
Beowuuf rolls his head back and laughs, the first natural laugh since he has woken. "Breakfast...I thought I could smell breakfast."
"Ah, that. Yes, I am afriad that was some time ago now. I am also afraid the children had your share before they left to go exploring. Tyra did leave you his before he left to work, but you will find it cold now, I would not recommend it. I would recommend rest." The healer reaches for his pouch again.
Beowuuf looks down at his dressed wound. "That would be for the best," he says with no traces of his earlier hysteria. He looks over to Jat. "Do you know what I consider quite clever?" asks Beowuuf. The healer pauses, nodding to continue.
"You see, what I find clever" says Beowuuf, pointing to the arrow wound, "is that despite breaking my shielding, despite using a magic arrow, whoever shot me managed to miss."
"You are certainly lucky," says Jat.
"Oh, no, do not mistake luck for skill. You see, if they had killed me, they wouldn't get to know what I know. And if they had captured me and tortured me, they cannot guarantee I would break. But if they wound me, leave me for dead, allow me to be rescued, why, surely a combination of my wounds, medicines, the surroundings would ensure my guard would be down, make sure I happily reveal enough of what I knew without even caring."
"I am not sure what you mean..."
Beowuuf pauses, a grim look. "Are they all dead?" he asks.
Jat pauses. Beowuuf does not break his look.
For a second longer Jat looks confused, then shocked, but in the end he cannot keep up the pretence. A long, slow, deep smile spreads across his face. He throws the pouch of oinment down on the floor, and rubs his fingers over his chin, considering something as he looks to Beowuuf. The skin on his jaw flakes along with the skin on his fingers, dissolving to dark dust.
"Well, of course Jat is dead, I killed him as soon as I took you down. I knew he would be called to help." The false Jat stops rubbing his chin, looks down at his crumbling fingers. "But that is not who you mean..."
The creature pauses for a moment, apparently relishing the rising panic in Beowuuf.
"You can be sure that Tyra is dead," says Jat, flatly. "After all how else could I start questioning you. You probably awoke to the sound of me snapping his neck."
"I smelled the burning flesh," says Beowuuf equally flatly.
The Helghast allows the teeth of his lower jaw to protrude to add to the nightmarishness of his appearance. "Oh, but then that would just make me sound cruel, and I need you to think of me as rational. For you see, the real question you are asking yourself now is, of course, which would serve me better. The children alive or the children dead?"
Beowuuf and the helghast lock eyes. The Helghast leans forwards, allowing the red glow of hate in the dog creature's eyes to reflect in the still human eyes of its own form.
"Would it not seems reasonable that I would let them live, knowing I could use them to make you talk?" muses Jat, "After all, who could still remain silent if I told them I would burn the children's throats until their heads dropped?"
The Helghast shrugs. "And of course I would make the other, and then you, watch."
The Helghast has been regarding his hand again as he talks, but then turns to look directly into Beowuuf's eyes. His voice drops to a whisper.
"But perhaps I know you better," says the Helghast. "Perhaps you know I have already killed them. Knowing that the weight of guilt would be enough to break you. Two more lives enough to finally push you over the edge and sway whatever guilt is driving you..." The Helghast leans forward, "because I can tell there is guilt driving you..."
"You do not know me," says Beowuuf. He shifts on the bed, bracing himself to get up, but his eyes display hopelessness as he judges distances. His expression goes blank a moment later.
"I know your abilities!" spits the Helghast mockingly in the meantime. "I know yours are not worth my concern. You are running short of choices...and the only power we have is choice. Your only choice is whether you die quickly or slowly, share your knowledge willingly or not. I think you might welcome a quick end."
There is only the sound of Beowuuf's breath and Jat's chuckle.
"Mr Woof!" cries a voice from outside. A different voince murmers something. "Mr Beowoof!" the first voice corrects.
The Helghast smiles a dark smile. "Ah, they spoil my surprise. They are alive, you have a few more choices yet. So, my friend, make your first. Not whether they live or die, I will not insult your intelligence or mine with that game. The question now is do they see the healer Jat, or do they see their father? A little cruel to play that trick, but then they may not ask questions if he were here, and besides..." the fanged mouth botches the gentle smile, "would it not be nice for them to see their father one last time, to say goodbye?"
Beowuuf is shaking with many emotions, none of which stop him darkly saying, "Tyra."
"Ah...the first choice of so many. Well done. I do hope you make more good choices...I would hate to see those children suffer unduly. A clean death is always best..." As he says this the Helghast's face is contorting, unused skin shrivelling and dissolving to nothing as other features undulates. One arm conorts and twists into the body of Tyra, who smiles darkly at his own comments. Expressions Beowuuf has never seen on the father's face before make him want to throw up.
"Shh now, here they come..."
Simmista runs through the main door, with a pained Kalmyn behind. They have missed the transformation, but perhaps are aware of the atmpsphere in the room.
"Father?" says Kalmyn uncertainly.
"I found a Giak!" says Simmista, bored by the innattention to her and interrupting.
"It was a snail," says Kalmyn, distracted.
"It was a baby Giak! They have to grow from somehting!"
Kalmyn is looking strangely at his father. 'Tyra' does not return the gaze, taking both children in then glancing blankly at Beowuuf.
"Mr Woof, you believe me?" askes Simmista, growing impatient as everyone still ignoring her. She makes towards Beowuuf, but Kalmyn holds her back suddenly.
"I do," says Beowuuf evenly. "Can you go get it for me?"
Simmista bounces around exited out of Kalmyn's grip. "Of course!" she says. Beowuuf tries to make eye contact with the boy, but he is already doing that. For some reason though, Kalmyn's looks are ones of suspicion and hate towards Beowuuf himself.
"Wait," says Tyra. Beowuuf's chest muscles tighten constricting his breathing.
"Come here a moment Simmista," says Tyra.
Simmista pouts but comes forward anyway, Kalmyn walking in step with his sister too, meeting Beowuuf's stares.
Tyra merely smiles and extends his hand.
"Simmista, you know your brother, and Mr Beowuuf...and I...would be heartbroken if anything ever happened to you," he says tenderly. She nods seriously. Tyra raises him hand, stroking the child's head for a moment, and Beowuuf cannot breath.
Tyra smiles and his hand flexes inperceptibly.
"Good, then be careful when you go back outside." Simmista nods seriously again, then bounces at her brother who moves painfully to the side and runs to the door.
"And hurry back," says Tyra. Simmista nods and runs out laughing.
"You should go keep an eye on her," says Beowuuf to Kalmyn carefully, ignoring the new look from Tyra and meeting Kalmyn's gaze steadily.
"I cannot," says Kalmyn glaring. "Simm decided I was Darklord Gnaag and tried to blast me with the 'Summersword'. Since it was only a branch it did not work, so she stamped on my foot again." Kalmyn quickly flicks a gaze to his father. "I would not be able to catch up with her."
Tyra breaths a regretful sigh. He turns to Beowuuf and shrugs his shoulders as he gives a resigned look. His hand crumbles and twists as he turns round to reach for the boy.
Kalmyn screams, but it is not in terror for himself, as he is not looking towards his father.
"Father, look out!" cried Kalmyn. The Helghast turns back to Beowuuf to see an arm shoot out grabbing his own. He does nothing to stop it, instead seeking to yank the poor creature from his bed.
However the sinewy arm that grips him tightly is strong and unmoving. Beowuuf yanks his own arm and twists the Helghast's. Tyra's eyes burn red and his protruding jaw is back. With a snarl he reaches with his other hand to tear into Beowuuf's throat and all Kalmyn can do is scream out in terror.
For a second the creature has forget that his other arm does not exist.
A new arm rips out from its side, hideous and deformed and burning, however, it is too late - in his other hand Beowuuf has the arrow that injured him. It buries itself deeply into the chest of the spawn and there is a hiss of pain.
"You cannot stop me..." it snarls, trying to claw at Beowuuf's throat. "You cannot stop us..." it says as its strength leaves it.
"Gaj kog zutag," hisses Beowuuf in return, his eyes almost glowing, "I wish you had a soul so Naar could reward you properly..." He kicks the dissolving creature off of himself and it writhes into a patch of nothing in moments, nothing left but a blackened floor with a burnt arrow in the centre.
Neither the comment nor movement has provide a release, and Beowuuf is still shaking as much as the startled child across from him. There is a moment of pause. The atmosphere has lightened but neither person in the room feels it.
"What...what was-" starts Kalmyn, but then a larger question interrupts his thoughts. "Where is my father?"
Beowuuf acts as though he does not hear for a moment. "He is with the real Jat," says Beowuuf, not looking at the blackened floor not the boy. "They...left...because of the Helghast."
"And...and you killed it with your words?"
Beowuuf looks confused then remembers the cursewords. "No, that was Giak."
"You speak Giak?" asks Kalmyn grateful for distraction.
"No," says Beowuuf darkly and confused. "Why did it let me keep the arrow?" he says to distract himself.
"That was me...I ...I told him you had asked for it to be thrown away, destroyed. I wanted to take it later...I ...I thought I had given you a weapon to use on my father." The boy finally collapses shaking and crying.
Beowuuf has no idea what to do or how to comfort the boy. "I need to get to Toran," he says to himself, looking down at the burnt arrow and assessing his own wound. "Now more than ever I need to get to Toran..."
He awkwardly gets up and tries to walk over to the boy, but the boy crawls away from him and the dark area of floor.
Beowuuf merely stands, unsteady on his feet and shaking for too many reasons. He breathes in and out, feeling helpless and trapped..
"I got the Giak!" says a voice by the door.
Beowuuf closes his eyes tightly for a second, relaxing his face.
He turns to face the door.
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 13:22:07 GMT -5
This section comes in chapter 14, between Beowuuf making the statement about the 'Footfall of Naar' to Andras and Childers, and then Beowuuf being on a boat. I liked the story jump, but wanted to give people the filler if they needed it
Magician's Guild of Toran, one week ago
Andras stood uncomprehending for a moment, staring at the glowing piece of rock in his hand, a stone that grew dimmer and dimmer as the Helghast obviously realised its efforts were in vain. The mage's carefree expression had long since vanished. He gave a long look as if seeing Beowuuf for the first time. Beowuuf simply returned it.
With a gentle touch Andras placed the stone into the middle of the air, and gingerly let his hand leave it. He looked at his hand for a moment as it it might fall off. The gem hovered in the air in the cradling arms of a whispered spell, and Andras nodded distracted to himself as all seemed well and made for the door.
"Do not leave, I shall return," he said as an afterthought before the door closed.
Beowuuf looked at the gem slowly rotating in the air as a gentle draft touched it. He coughed at the oppressive atmosphere. Bulanis had entered with Andras earlier, but their two escorts had melted away un-needed somewhere around the door. Four battle mages outside the door and three mages stationed around the room were perhaps considered enough. However Beowuuf did not feel comfortable with the Helghast still, and Bulanis apparently seemed uncomfortable with the Helghast, Beowuuf and the slowly pirouetting gem.
"I hope that shield does not need concentration," Beowuuf finally said dryly to the nearest blue-robed brother, who was unable to take his eye of the substance any more than the rest of them.
The look of shock in the brother's eyes made Beowuuf's blood run cold but luckily the brother's reaction was faster than the Helghast's. Its arm was still a handspan away from the lucky mage before the blue sparking shield came back full force. The Helghast had already expended all its energy pushing against the weakened barrier and it fell into a weary kneeling position as its cage returned completed once more.
Beowuuf breathed a sign of relief even as the shocked and chagrined faces of the three brothers met the stern white face of Bulanis in turn. The brothers were engaged in their locked glances so failed to see the Helghast raise its head for a moment. Beowuuf could imagine a long slow smile flicker on its twisted visage as it locked red eyes to his red eyes.
"This item here!" said the voice of Andras without warning as he burst back into the room. He was being followed by a rounded mage of advancing years wearing spectacles. He was short, so had to lift himself with all his strength on his toes to look deeply at the stone hovering. His hair was thick, brown, long and unkempt so he had to blow it away and flick his head to free his glasses of it. The man made noises as if he were chewing a particularly tough piece of steak.
"In the name of all Ishir's creation is it what is claimed?" asked Andras in exasperation to Childers, the mage Beowuuf had previously seen as they had blustered through his class.
"Well, I am sorry, but I see nothing evil about it," said Childers, in a surprising deep and measured voice.
"Of course not," said Beowuuf hotly to the surprise of the rest, "Kai has blessed a generation of Kai warriors as never before and you would not sense it in them, why would you spot the hand of Naar any easier?"
Childers very slowly turned towards the wolf creature, and looked him up and down in an even slower fashion. "I still do not understand why you think Naar..." the mage stopped and performed some complex hand gestures of warding on himself, "...would be allowed to break the truce of the great balance-"
"Balance is right," hissed Beowuuf, "and I am sure that the Lord Kai allowing Lone Wolf, who is as much Kai's creation as much as the Darklords are Naar's, to take Ishir's essence in the Moonstone onto this plane is not something that was lightly regarded! Infact I would say between that and the sheer weight of the prescence of Kai through his warrior monks, I am not surprised the ground has decided to raise up against it and allow Naar to walk where he pleases!"
"An interesting theory, I am sure," said Childers slowly, "but I-"
"You have not walked the Darklands recently have you?" asked Beowuuf, "I certainly have no wish to again! Before the ground was tainted and soaked with the evil of the creatures of darkness that had enslaved it, but it was a taint. Now, you walk the ground and, you feel it - the evil rises up to take you. The ground is no longer a scarred battleground capable of reclamation. It is his now. All this talk of the stone, of Naar's presence, it makes sense. You are fools if you cannot feel it" Beowuuf took deep breaths, apparently regretting his harsh words. "Forgive me, but it just feels...correct. It feels right. It ties to too much I have heard..."
Beowuuf felt a chill. The certainty he realised had nothing to do with any thought he had consciously, nothing even to do with his brain. It was something he had inherited, buried deep down in this body.
"Such flights of fancy are understandable," said Childers, "but surely in the cold light of knowledge and magic you can see-"
"Have you seen the edges of the 'reclaimed' Darklands recently?" asked Beowuuf innocently.
Andras coughed politely. "While this is fascinating, Childers, if you would not mind investigating this matter further while I take our guest here into a private audience."
Andras had already stood to his impressive height and turned to leave, forcing Beowuuf to give a grin and bow and rush out of the room himself.
Andras waved his hands to the four mages standing outwith the door. Beowuuf worried that, again, they were for him but no, Andras was merely dismissing the mages of the sword back to other duties. Perhaps feeling that the three brothers inside with two elder and respected practitioners may well be enough to handle the one Helghast. The brothers bowed and went one way as Beowuuf and the mage went the other.
"I had not been here in a while," said Andras lightly and with a slightly wistful air as they came to another door. "A pleasure forgotten as I chose other paths."
The mage opened the new door and Beowuuf's nose immediately quivered at the scents of dust and vellum and ink and slight perspiration. He knew without walking into the room that it was a master library, certainly not one for casual students. The sheer weight of tomes and the passage of time studying them crystallised in the air he breathed.
Andras found a seat on a table near to some particularly dark and foreboding shelves. Dusty books and ancient wood sat in quiet oppressive harmony, only the disturbed trails of dust on some tomes recently disturbed giving an accusing expression directed to the man sitting down now. Andras gestured for Beowuuf to do the same, himself sitting straight as if about to scold a student.
"Two things I wished to say this away from the others," said Andras in hushed tones. "Firstly, we keep the matter of the reclaimed lands state a guarded secret. For better or worse, no one knows the reclamation project has stopped." Beowuuf had suspected as he had been through that area on his travels in his time in the Darklands and again in his recent subverted mission.
"As you say," continued Andras, "the land has changed. We can argue that our various orders are dealing with the blood plague, with the war, with the Cener druids - but that is not the truth. The truth that may well demoralise many is that the Darklands is for some reason under stronger control of evil than before, perhaps, as you say, even Naar himself." He let the matter brood in Beowuuf's mind for a moment, then shrugged an end to that matter.
"The second thing I wished to say to you....well, before that you must know that all parties interested in you and your various missions have agreed that the stone is indeed worthy of study. Infact, you may well be ideally suited for a mission many of us had wished someone to undertake for a various reasons." He paused. "I was wondering how to break this to you, and what direction to guide you in, but your words triggered a memory...a story..."
Andras stood up to walk over to a bookcase ignoring Beowuuf's looks of unamused confusion. Andras took a wrapped item than was leaning close, then searched, as if probing a memory, until he saw a tomb that looked particularly undisturbed. It came to him only with an effort of pulling. Beowuuf even thought he heard a curse to librarians and their stacking muttered under Andras's breath.
"The first item actually came before you did," said Andras, placing the wrapped long item on the desk. "Waiting for you to appear. I would hope it may well remind you of your allegiance and duties." Andras flicked the dusty pages of the book for a moment, then found the page he looked for. He put the book across opened.
Beowuuf gave Andras a look, and picked up the wrapped item first. The wrapping came free and he saw the burnished blue edge of a sword. He gave Andras a longer steady look and pulled it to him, taking it out. He even stood up to swing it around a few swings to Andras's guarded amusement.
Beowuuf stared, if possible, even more at Andras as he felt it. The crafting. The balance. The weapon was not only one of the finest he had seen save, say, Thunor, but the balance was perfect for Beowuuf, Beowuuf looked towards the pommel and saw the forgemark. His eyebrows shot up.
"Who gave this to you?" Beowuuf asked.
"It came as cargo on a ship from Dessi."
Beowuuf looked down at the weapon, nodding and definitely seemed to stand up straighter. He lifted it up to sight down the blade and admire the finish one last time, and spotted something.
"What is it?" asked Andras.
Andras moved his head. Then smiled. "Kor Skarn? Lone Wolf?"
Beowuuf shook his head. "Kour" he said with a deep smile, standing tall and almost sliding the weapon into the accustomed sheathe for it, then realising both his cloak and trappings were still in his pack. He had to content himself with laying it respectfully against the table leg, picking up the book.
Andras smiled, even though he did not fully understand why the weapon the effect he had hoped for, and continued to his point. "I remember a legend that tickled me when younger, I must admit I had given it no further thought over the years." Beowuuf nodded, distracted between listening to the man and reading the words. Andras continued. "There was a legend that Vashna did not start as archlord, even at the start there was a contention for power. We know Zagarna had to quest for the doomstones to unite those under him, Haakon had to use his guile to steal the Doomstones the second Zagarna perished and also politically manouvered with allies. And Gnaag's rise to power came through his sheer ruthlessness and cunning, unsurpassed by others." Andras paused. "Why Vashna was allowed power just by being the strongest was always a point I did not see. Then I found that..." Beowuuf had already a frowning face reading the words Andras was indicating. "Vashna was the one who bred the spawn we know and fear today. Intelligence was his greatest weapon. Intelligent enough to quest to the edges of his land, to the remote place we now know as Point Vashna if the legend is true. To create an altar to forge his most powerful weapons, to sacrifice that which was most precious to him and petition directly his creator Naar."
Andras's tone had almost become the same as Childers. "It is said that the Moonstone of the Shianti, created in error, but allowing such a power for good to flow into Magnamund had created an opening - an opening for evil to have an equal sway. Vashna had realised this, and Naar was allowed to walk for a moment on the surface of the world at this petition to evil, to bless the weapons and his most faithful servant with powers he could not have instilled before. A power to rise even if dead, a power to breed the spawn his imagination could conjure such as the Helghast. Certainly the power to subjugate the other Darklords."
Andras shrugged. "As I said, it tickled me to imagine a Darklord with such humility, especially one that became as powerful." Andras again shrugged, then grew serious. "All parties agree - your superiors in Elzian, the Guildmaster and my brothers in the high council, the Knight's council you were assigned to - investigation of the stone is worthwhile. To find out if this material we are seeing is a threat, if knowledge of it and the properties it can take can give us an advantage against the tide of growing darkness." Andras pointed to the book. "If you instincts are right, then perhaps you have given yourself an easy place to start, somewhere that would corroborate your theory..."
Beowuuf gave a look. "Investigation in the Darklands?" he said.
Andras nodded. "It is where your mission, you investigation, has been requested to go." Andras held a brace of letters that Beowuuf declined to read. "Perhaps Point Vashna is a safer place to start - we can certainly commandeer a ship to run to that remote location, hopefully under the noses of the forces of darkness."
Beowuuf looked at the weapon again, at the book, and paused. Andras held his breath. Beowuuf shrugged. "When do I start?"
Andras smiled and nodded at Beowuuf's words. "Firstly let us make sure Childers has not blown the stone up, we may well need it for comparison now!" Andras shuddered, showing that he obviously did believe Beowuuf's supposition about the stone despite his light tone.
They walked back both lost in thoughts and both trying to hide it from the other. Both then thought the same thought as they heard commotion coming form the room with the stone.
Andras burst through the door with Beowuuf on his heels to see the Helghast in a circle of attention, the blue shield no longer visible and Childers cradled in a powerful arm, taloned hand around his neck in friendly warning.
"Stay back, master," it said in a sneer, "and keep your dog on a leash."
Bulanis looked around. "He broke through, I do not know how!" One of the brothers infront looked shamefaced, and Beowuuf guessed the Helghast had managed some mental foothold in the previous lapse of concentration. There was a brother lying prone against the far wall, hopefully just unconscious not dead.
"Childers, I am sorry," said Andras pointing towards the Helghast. Both looked in equal terror as Andras invoked the power and a bolt shot from his hand straight to Childers chest.
The Helghast has loosened his grip in shock anyway, and the polymorph spell that reduced Childers's size for a moment allowed him to fall fully from the creature before expanding back to normal flat on the floor.
Beowuuf stood tall, the weapon in his hand giving him back a confidence he had not had in too long. His left hand gripping the pommel hard as he started in hatred at the loathesome spawn before him. He pointed the tip at it, channelling the battle magics building down it for extra power and focus to the effect.
"Beowuuf, no!" yelled Andras, but the magic was already loosened. The Helghast hissed as the powerful word of holding gripped its muscles. It could not even annunciate its hatred.
"You wanted it held, I assume" said Beowuuf drying to Andras's obvious relief.
"Very good," he said. "Brother Torval, Brother Jet, thank you for your time, please make sure Brother Meeska is escorted to the infirmary and is well, Brother Torval, please do see me in my rooms later for some lessons in concentration during magic. " All the time Andras stood looking at the Helghast as he helped up the rotund mage Childers. "Bulanis, let's not waste any more time with foolish devices, please, a Pentagram of Power around this thing. Now"
He regained his composure and nodded to himself as he apparently checked off some internal list. With a slight hesitation he took the floating stone that still hovered in the air. "Right, and now that that is sorted," he nodded to Beowuuf, "let us see about your travel arrangements"
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 13:52:21 GMT -5
Decription of Beowuuf
Beowuuf was a 6ft tall wolf creature, powerfully built (see my avatar!) with red eyes which were unusual for the Wolf Clan beast creature his mind inhabited.
He usually tried to clothe himself, and as a Vakeros he wore the tunic and cerulean cloak of a normal knight. He would also have a backpack with at least soap, a strange affectation for cleanliness since becoming a wolf creature.
He possessed a bluesteel sword with an unknown forgemark and writing under the surface of the blade. The writing was hard to make out and seemed to say 'Kour Skarn' which would be 'Son Wolf' It was later revealed to have been a gift from his son Sahmas, and actually said 'Son of the wolf'.
He spoke with a normal voice, if deep. While his words may have had a Vakeros slant there was no accent to it. He was more likely to grin with an odd baring of teeth than actually laugh, but when he did his laughter sounded strangely barking. While sometimes serious, especially if the weight of responsibility or guilt was on him, he was more likely to be innapropriately humourous in demeanour, more so the darker things got.
As a Vakeros he attended both the college of Daernath while pursuing a military carreer, and then later the college of Kaernos when expanding his mind under Lord Gralmis. All but the basic power word magics since disappeared under his wolf body, although much of his mental abilities were intact. He had achieved the start of Elder Arts as a Vakeros, but although the knowledge was still in his mind it was something he would never again be able to reach for with his new body and blood.
He had shrapnel from his old sword embedded in his left forearm, just visible above the surface of his skin, so usually hidden by fur. With this he could also channel magic, although it was no compensation for the reduction of the wolf body to his magics.
As a wolf he could push himself much better physically in feats of strength or exhertion. As a wolf there was already a dicotomy of mind and body, with Beowuuf's own mind adding a third axis. The wolf mind had started to surface, usually acting quite honourably yet brutally. Only by accessing the wolf's mind could Beowuuf comprehend the various basic and advanced Giak dialects. The wolf body was very much a caged animal, and was more likely to cause distraction when Beowuuf was vulnerable and when wolf mind could not placate it.
The wolf itself, Sorba, was a wolf creature of the Ilion plains. He was a Wolven Assassin, who trod the balance of the three differnt paths powerful wolves can take between their own power of the body, their own instincts as a hunter, or the reviled path of the mind seen as a hated mystic. Unfortunately for Sorba, he began to experience vision that not even a normal Wolf Mystic would experience, more akin to the visions of a Ape Mystic or Sage. He followed them to Kaag, leaving his tribe, hoping to stop a great evil called Hazelae he had forseen arising.
It was here, while undercover, that he discovered he had read the visions as being later than they were - Hazelae had not arrived yet. He then tried to free the knight Tamas, knowing the Dessi were destined to aid against Hazelae, but then was overwhelmed by the mind of Tamas and lost control of his body except for rare moments of the Vakeros's mind being suppressed.
The two minds, at the end, were at a place of acceptance, where Sorba's mind allowed Tamas's to dwell for the greater good.
Currently not canonical with the West Watch, during the Knight and Dwarf Joint Tourney (reliant on Beowuuf joining the MKC and having unnacounted for time in the future) Beowuuf gave away the dagger possessed by Duman currently, which was from a younger soldier - he gave it away to heal ninjaflick, or if not canonical with the WW then a fellow knight.
He also fought Dark Sonar, or perhaps a NAK calling himself Dark Sonar, and was infected with Naarstuff for an unknown reason.
There are also the entries into both contests of Aguila Saber, the Avalar and Casiorn contests. Owing to the timeframe, these cannot be integrated into WW canon due to taking place in the future from the WW story where Beowuuf died.
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 13:57:22 GMT -5
The Story of Beowuuf - part 1: Assignments
He tried to be quiet. However, he was not used to the armour, and so found it hard to both keep balance and keep the straps and buckles from clinking together. The figure on the bed made a small noise and rolled over.
"You are leaving already?" asked a sleepy female voice.
Tamas could not find a good answer as to why and chose to simply smile. She hadn't turned to face him, so the smile was lost. The look over was not.
The combination of early morning light and diffusion through netting created a subtle glow that played on the olive skin of her back. Something to do with her being half Vakeros and half...oh, he had listened at the time, but it was so many weeks ago. No, months now. It was some Vassa nation her mother had belonged to anyway.
Tamas had been here as part of the group to help with diplomatic relations, and she was the diplomat's daughter. It was just that she was the Vakeros diplomat's daughter, and so not a useful contact. At least that way it avoided a political situation. A shame that the mission here was not working, that Tamas's skills may well be used for the other form of diplomacy now.
The woman chose that moment to turn around, catching the smile and flashing one of her own in return. He almost fell over as his lack of attention prevented him from finishing an important buckle.
"You did not ask if you could stay," she suddenly said, a reproachful tone not a question.
Tamas froze, startled, then gave his own rueful smile back. "You do not want me to," he retorted, knowing it was a certainty as he said it and saw her own look break.
She gave a lazy smile again, and nodded. Both perhaps took a moment to regret the nature of their characters. The woman simply turned back to try to get back to sleep. "You are the only man I know who could sail out of Vassgonia," she said in tired amusement.
Tamas however wasn't about to let everything lie. "What if I were to come back here one day?" he asked hesitantly.
"That," said the woman, turning back to face the questioning man with an appraising gaze, "would perhaps not be the worst thing in the world."
* * * *
It does not take much. Tamas mused, to set something as a pattern in your mind. Sailing back around to Dessi to avoid the currently contentious border with Vassgonia would not make him think of it as an omen of uncertain new beginnings and painful endings. However, then he received a message pinning him tothe port at Hikas and forcing him to wait another day.
He met the new ship arriving at dawn, and was greeted by a face he knew from childhood, a family friend. The pattern was now set in his mind.
"There was no body," said the man simply, although the tones implied 'there was no body that any would wish to display in funeral.' Tamas nodded and accepted the man's stories and condolences with half an ear. He heard of how the battle with the Ceners had been necessary, and heard of the lives that had been saved even though, regretably, this one had been lost. Tamas concentrated on the bundle he had been given, folded Cerulian cloak and Vakeros tunic, topped with an exquisitely crafted bluesteel sword.
This was not the way he had wished to inheret those items that had been so iconical to a growing Vakeros boy. 'Well, at least the timing was perfect,' Tamas said to himself as he prepared to report for his first duty.
* * * *
"So, you have a mother and sister currently living in Elzian?" asked the Knight-Commander sitting behind the desk. Tamas could never imagine himself looking that dignified yet dangerous in his own vestments.
"Yes sir," said Tamas standing tall infront of the man, feeling his tunic didn't quite fit, "they moved there from the borders a while ago now. My sister was discovered to have strong blood, she is starting an apprenticeship in the ways of magic."
"Your mother is quite respected in the ways of magic herself, is she not?"
"Yes sir, although she prefered the diplomatic side of her duites. Certainly mintaining our security on the Vassgonian border was her fond hope."
"Yes, I see that, a passion you share as opposed to your father's?"
Tamas felt outflanked suddenly, and did what any good Vakeros knight would do - mount a stoic defence. "Sir?"
"You father's crusade was always to ensure the Cener threat was never forgotten. I am surprised you have not sought an assignment in that direction, especially given the weight his name would carry in those companies. Current understandable circumstance would easily see you in a posiion to do alot of good there."
The young Vakeros knight stood impassively despite the internal discomfort of recieving a look from the Knight-commander. The commander certainly could not hide his battle-skill, it shone in his eyes. The look stayed unwavering, and a small stacato drum beat of fingers on desk was added. Tamas tried to hold his nerve.
"Would I be wrong," said the commander finally, "in thinking that you perhaps would have wished an assignment on the other side of the line you will be defending?"
"No sir, you are perfectly right to think whatever you wish" said Tamas.
Despite himself the older knight's mouth twitched in amusement at a statement that, from someone else, may have been seen as insolent.
"Very well, you will be placed under the command of Knight-Captain Ciras. Serve with honour in all you do, distinction in all that you achieve, and never forget your highest duty is to those you protect, those you serve with, and to your own self - in that order."
* * * *
Knight-Captain Ciras looked up and down the line, seeing too many young faces in the group. That was the trouble, this was seen as an easy provng ground. A necessary area to defend, to be sure, but not one that needed to be defended very often.
Unfortunately, that did not equate to never.
Ciras had not been given enough time to drill out the rough edges of thinking from some of these unproven knights before they were being called upon for duty. Was this an official push from Vassgonia, or more likely one of the border nations testing the Dessi nation? Or simply the political manouvering of an isolated lord? And would that really matter once the bodies had started to pile up?
No, it should not come to that. This was hopefully a shouting match and show of strength, young bloods lead by a young blood noble on the other side of the line showing their mettle to gain respect in their internal disputes. Why would they waste troops and create a weakness another lord would exploit?
"Steady," said Ciras, "do not provoke a reaction, do not break the line."
"Only duck when you see the whites of their eyes," said a voice down the line, which provoked a small reaction in the knights. Ciras already knew exactly who it was, the same figure occasionally tapping his sword against his leg.
"This is not a drill, hold down there" said Ciras in a hopefully gentle rebuke, to remind them that this could easily turn serious in a moment.
Unfortunately either the high spirited tensions or a stupid leader already provided this rebuke from the enemy. An arrow emerged from nowhere, and before a young knight could register it or raise his shielding against it, he was dying in the arms of the knight behind him, feathered shaft sticking out of his throat.
"Hold and shield, no response until they are level with the hills!" cried Ciras, meeting the shocked looks of his troops and bellowing it left and right to ensure they did not panic.
"Only duck when you see the whites of their eyes," said Tamas again quietly, ignoring the look Ciras shot him and holding his sword as steady as his gaze now. This time he was only addressing the shaking knight beside him, and perhaps his own internal shakes, and he was deadly serious.
* * * *
The defenders had finally came down from the wall to take the soliders on foot. Shields and shielding magics were no match for a prolonged arrow assault, and Ciras was angered that most of his troops had not mastered the offensive arts before being sent here. Did high command not remember the old adage of what made a good defence?
Ciras was a master of the college of Daernath, and demonstrated the magics and folly of opposing them to all attackers who came close with the cool detachment befitting a Vakeros warrior.
"Blast!" came a cry to his left. It was Tamas, surprised by a bowshot that knocked his weapon spinning. The reason for his anger was understandable, though expressing it and succumbing to it was not. A fellow Vakeros had either slipped or been knocked off balance, and was now at the mercy of the next bowshot being drawn by the rider plunding close. In irritation Ciras changed his stance and started running towards the fallen knight, preparing his magic while the distracted knight...
Tamas dove towards the ground, coming up with a bow and arrow that he had spotted close. The rider adjusted his shot and aimed back at Tamas. Ciras could see the young knight's face, dispassionate and lost in careful aim, ignoring the rider even as the man's hurridly notched arrow was sent towards Tamas instead of the prone knight. The arrow flew passed Tamas's shoulder, and after another few steps of the horse Tamas sent his own arrow perfectly into the rider's eye.
Tamas ran towards the prone knight, taking the moment to grip the other's shoulder in a silent reassurance then helping him up. The knight nodded gratefully and recovered his weapon and balance.
"To the left," yelled Ciras coming close, indicating where the knights should rejoin. The fallen knight looked back, nodded with renewed purpose and rushed forward. Tamas nodded too, drawing his bluevein dagger, apparently making sure he would not be caught short while rushing back the other direction for his sword.
Ciras had no time to watch Tamas retrieve his weapon nor rush forward to catch up with his fellow knight, yet he already knew that was what would happen.
* * * *
"An unfortunate event, but your troops have acquitted themselves admirably, as have you," said Lord Giligar listening to the report of Knight-Captain Ciras.
"Thank you, my Lord. I would like to mention both Knights Armus and Solma for their valour during battle," said the Knight-captain standing tall.
Giligar nodded. "So noted Captain, thank you." Unusually for the straight laced Vakeros, Ciras did not move at the customary end to the conversation. "Was there something else, Captain?"
"Indeed. I would like to suggest Knight Tamas for immediate transfer to Daernath College."
"Immediate," confirmed the captain.
"This would be the same knight I remember from your trainig report, the one you sited not twice but three times for various behaviours 'unbecoming a Vakeros warrior'. "
"Minor quirks in attitude, if you will recall."
"Recall that I do. May I remind you that you cannot transfer your problems away," said Lord Giligar with a smile, and then instantly regretted it when he saw the knight bristle. He forgot how straight this Knight-Captain really was. Which was why this request was unusual.
"Do you really think the transfer will help focus him, then, and outlet for his emotions?" Giligar asked warily.
"No sir, I already think he has perfect focus, and I think both his emotions and his natural leadership traits will be an asset to us we should take the opportunity to hone now in Daernath."
Lord Giliar had to sit back, amazed. After a pause, he sat forward again. "Are you aware that Tamas has aready expressed an interest in transfer, after the suitable learning and rotation period of course, to the Valos College?"
"No sir. All the more reason to transfer him now - for our own good and for his."
The Knight Captain was now done, and bowed. Lord Giligar waved his hand to dismiss the man, lost in thought. At length, Lord Giligar reached for the pad of parchment. Taking one, and pausing again, he then carefully wrote the transfer order.
* * * *
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 13:58:56 GMT -5
The Story of Beowuuf Part 2: Leading and following.
The senior Knight-Captain stood on the defenses, the line of mortar and rock a definitive statement to the army that wished to test the limits of its luck. A sheen spoke of magic imbued into the stones, but it was the blue-clad warriors patrolling on top who truely gave the indication of unwavering detemination and solidity.
The Captain looked left and right, seeing a mixture of knights all focused on the task. Some were concentrating hard on controliing their nerves, others were trying to goad themsleves internally. The nerves, even for experienced soldiers, was understandable. This was no decent fortification, this was the ruins of the first defenses of a keep, destroyed by the combined forces of a few Vassgonian Lords. The hand of the Zakhan himself might be detected unofficially in this new push, knowing the diplomatic leverage to be gained if the man could 'interced' in regaining this land for Dessi again, eventually, a land rich in blue steel and a tactical mouth to Dessi.
So much death and suffering for political power. The Captain shook the thoughts free and moved along the line. He flashed a smile here, exchanged a nod there, and occasionally administered a small touch either to reassure or to draw a Knight's focus on the area he should be scanning and defending against.
"Steady men," said the Captain looking around once more, hearing the cry from the Commander further away and echoing it down to his officers and men.
"Yes, only duck when you see the whites of their eyes," said a voice in the crowd.
Tamas smiled as he heard the voice of an old friend, one of a number he'd stood shoulder to shoulder with in charges and defences like this. He shared a smile with the knight, then gave a grin and a wink to the less experienced knight beside the man. Gave a further small nod to this one to indicate that it would be fine.
Tamas drew his sword, nodding to it too as an old battle ritual, seeing the pale light playing on its blade. "Places," he called, hearing his superiors call and then hearing his officers repeat his words on other broken parapets, "sight your marks, hold sharp for targets - for the Vakeros and the shining white of Elzian!"
* * * *
The enemy were swift and numerous and it seemed desperate. Walls crumbled to magical fires and defences fell before the dark wizards responsible could be identified and removed. Drained knights met ten times their number of mounted opponents on the feild, raising their weapons without hope of victory. The surprise of the Vakeros cavalry charge was held off as long as it could be, longer than the life of the main Commander who was slain by an arrow. Tamas risked sending out those heavily armoured knights, deploying them too soon against too numerous an enemy stil with mages and archers able to threaten them. Still with a good portion of swift flanking cavalry of their own too. However, there was no point letting the enemy overwhelm the Vakeros army one unit at a time.
"Where should we fall back?" asked a knight fighting close to the Captain. As far as Tamas knew he was now the highest ranking man still on the field, certainly he had lost alot of good officers below him, so had no doubts the lack of visible peers and ranking Vakeros was not due to the fog of war.
"We do not, we stand," said Tamas, scanning the confused mess and trying to work out how many men he had around him and which group they should try to help, if any.
"What? You think we should hold? That is suicide, a pointless..."
"No life is pointless! None wasted!" snapped back Tamas addressing the man but raising his voice loudly to be heard by those around rallying to a leader. "Every second we delay them here, every enemy felled here before they take us is a second gained by those on the next front, a comrade spared behind us. The soldier you kill here is the sniper that changes the next battle. The front we block here is the front that cannot sweep over our country and murder as it travels to the next line."
He turned to meet a few faces. "We hold until we cannot because each of us hold our family and our people inside - we will not abandon them to chance, we will not give our enemy that opening. Everyone of you has someone, somewhere they fight for. You push that deep inside you so the enemy cannot see it, cannot touch it, and you let it lift you up and drive you and...YOU...HOLD...HERE!"
A few of the men around him nodded, and the cry of 'hold' was taken up by some of the senior knights and passed along. Most importantly, he saw the fear quench into some form of ressolution in the eyes of those around him, and that was good. He needed the legendery stoic composure and disciplined might of the Vakeros knights right now.
"Salas, take as many squads as you can get to the right there," said Tamas, pointing off at a rampart still standing and untaken, commanding a good field of view on one flank.
"You," he said to a newly ranked knight he did not know the name of, "the tower on the left - as many as you can get in the top, and defend the base with as many others as can follow."
Tamas watched the two groups split off, wondering which of the two groups he had sent to die, which would weight on his conscience more to lose. Or perhaps they would be lucky - perhaps whatever enemy command was left would not be intelligent, and simply ride straight at Tamas and the scattered cavalry he was trying to give himself time to assemble.
He smiled to himself darkly. If that did happen, would the enemy be surprised that the man did not hold, but broke to meet them? Would the enemy realise he was not fighting to defend anything behind him, but to fight towards something that lay beyond them?
* * * *
Lord Giligar listened to the tale, not speaking a word.
"An interesting manoeuvre, to be sure," he said finally.
"A costly one, please tell me it was worth it," said Tamas drying. The comment may have seemed flippant if Tamas had not spent the preceeding time, as was his custom, of listing the dead and the commendations. This time even Tamas's mind had failed him, he had tripped over names eventually. Lord Giligar did not have the heart to ask if he knew the leading knight that had died in the last defence.
Lord Giligar did not answer the comment, merely shuffled some papers expecting Tamas to excuse himself. The knight, not unusually, was still standing. However today Giligar was busy, so it was unusual the knight did not take the hint to take his leave.
"Was there something else, Captain?" asked Giligar lightly, wondering how the man had found out about his promotion to Commader ahead of time, and also wondering how to answer any questions regarding it before it was formally approved.
"Yes sir. I wish to tend my resignation and request a transfer."
Lord Giligar was taken aback by the unexpected direction of the question itself, and so had to wait a moment to be taken aback by the content of the question.
"I beg your pardon?" he said eventually.
"My Lord, I respectful wish to conceed my rank and position, and request transfer to the College of Kaernos under the direct tuition of Lord Gralmis"
Lord Giligar sat back. He regarded the knight with an unfathomable gaze. There were many reasons for the shock, not only for the abandoning of his post, effectively, but for the unpresidented shift in college that was virtually unheard of an frowned upon. Being tutored by one of the most powerful members of the council was merely an additional strangeness t the whole affair.
"Why?" was the only quetsion he could ask, finally.
"I lied to my men." said Tamas simply. "A small lie, perhaps, but I told them I was defending our home as they were, when my thoughts were...elsewhere. I do not see how I can lead men to do something that is not my desire, certainly not with words I do not believe."
"A graver mistake is to lie to oneself, Knight-Captain," said Lord Giligar at length. "Whatever your reasons you acknolwedge or not, I have been getting great pressure in private from Lord Gralmis himself. I could hold off if it was merely his wishes alone. If you you are also demanding this transfer then I cannot in good conscience allow you to continue on the field."
Tamas stood for a moment shocked at the quick snap of dismissal. He then bowed with respect and quickly left the room. Lord Giligar looked back up, staring at the space for a while. Eventually, he pulled a sheet of paper to himself. He stared at that for a moment, and then with obvious reluctance and bewilderment wrote a transfer order.
* * * *
It was hard to remember the the forests in here. The time of quiet contemplation he had spend outside the college of Kaernos, sitting by himself or letting the gentle words of Lord Grlmis wash over him. A personal tutor in the high council was unheard of, and he was sure many of the younger knights going to and from the college gave him looks and whispered many comments.
It was hard to remember the teachings of Lord Gralmis in here. The soft speech of the powerful man telling tales of the ways the mind could overcome the body, could shield it or act for it. Of knowing ones mind and facing ones fears and darknesses and recognising your own worth and lightness. The words were easy to believe in the pleasant days there. Out in the forests, even with closed eyes light had filtered through his lids to give him hope. In here, however, in the darkness, the oppressive gloom was present even if one opened ones eyes. It was easy to only feel the evil saturating oneself, flowing from black ugly walls and floor and invading ones mind.
He was captured, deep in the bowels of Kaag, and there would be no escape...
The door opened a crack, and his friend and fellow Vakeros Knight Basama stood in the doorway waiting to end the test. Tamas blinked at the brightness, even though the gloom beyond was not that light. In his mind, Tamas had known it was a test, but the fear had felt so real, as he had conditioned himself to feel it. A easy trick for one learning in the College of Kaernos.
Tamas made to stand, chagrinned. Basama nodded his head, and then fell forwards with his life's blood flowing freely from his slit neck. Tamas stopped, and then remembered that, no, it was real. Another fellow knight, Darpo, stood tall while cleaning the blood from his blackened sword, and while Basama died infront of him Tamas felt the fear of his captivity in Kaag flood his mind again, and deliberately kept it there.
* * * *
"You have never asked why I chose you," asked Lord Gralmis once on a windy yet otherwise beautiful day. Tamas had not reacted much, simply adjusted his medatative pose and smiled slightly.
"I assumed you would tell me when you were ready - and now I assume you will never tell me, even if I ask."
"Perhaps," said the old man smiling, "but I would still presume you to ask."
Tamas had opened his eyes, looking at the strangely youthful man. He was very tall and thin, almost as if unwell, yet his face was rounded and flushed and in full health. He looked as if he were juist finished laughing hard, his eyes glinting with hidden mirth and his cheeks red. Despite Lord Gralmis's apparent good humour, or because because of it, Tamas knew the man was very guarded. However, it was an honour to be not only noted by a High Council member and an Elder Magi, but to be tutored by one. He never questioned the man's motives or means.
"Very well," said Tamas with a smile. "Why did you choose me."
Gralmis smiled back. "I will not tell you why I chose you," he said with gravitas in his soft spoken voice. Tamas laughed. "I will, however, tell you why I chose you," finsihed Gralmis.
Tamas blinked, then realised the subtle inflections had been lost in the man's voice. So, Tamas might never find out why he was suitable, but at least he was finally to learn what he was suitable for!
"You know of the 'Nad-Adez-Konkor'," asked Gralmis.
Tamas gave it consideration. "Dark...blood..." he shook his head.
"'Dark blood hunters', although they are known better as Kai Hunters - both for their hatred of the Kai, and the fact they are turned Kai."
"Turned Kai? Is that possible?"
"Apparently so. As you can imagine, this is a grave matter, serious for the free peoples of Magnamund. The Elder Magi have always been linked with the fate of the Kai, from the order's very inception under Sun Eagle. Such a potential threat to them is something that must be investigated, combatted..."
"We captured one of the Nadziranim," said Gramlis simply, and laughed a gentle laugh at Tamas's reaction. "The how, and the why, is not important, although the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star were instrumental. Unfortunately our combined powers were not enough to extract what we wished to find out. It was enough, however, to discover something else."
Gralmis had moved closer, his normally shining eyes burning in a way Tamas usually had not observed. "We heard only one word before its own actions and the efforts of our capture reduced it to nothing. 'Urga-kor-Naar'. That is roughly translated as 'the footstep of Naar'. It was something the Nadziran was in awe of, and gloating about even as it tried to hide its thoughts. It was something, a tangible something, that was aiding the Darklands efforts. Whether it was connected to the Kai Hunters is something we could not tell, but it was something important nonetheless - a weapon it felt like. A weapon directly from the dark God Naar itself!"
Tamas rocked backwards, all his previous releaxed composure from meditation forgotten. "What exactly do you need me for?" he said finally, finding his voice again.
"I need those with mental skills, demonstratable skills in powerful battle magics yet adaptable to learn, but most important - no useable ties."
Tamas gave Gralmis a deep look. A very deep look. Gralmis didn't smile, not for this, but he did break his usual habit and patted the man on the shoulder in an oddy avuncular way.
Tamas continued to gaze and Gralmis did not break it. Eventually Tamas shrugged. "So, are we to going to Helgedad to ask them about it then?"
Lord Gralmis laughed. "Only if we fail, Tamas" he said still smiling. He then turned, and said even fainter, but with dark eyes and fearful expression, "only if we fail..."
* * * *
"Do not make the mistake of our friend Basama," saisd Darpo, partially contemptuous but also partially pleading. "Join us. It is the only way out of here for you. You above all know why that fool Gralmis led us here. Tell us, join us, feel the true power of a Drakeros warrior the legends hid from us. Twelve lesser knights made the council and our nation quake - imagine what an army, led by us, would achieve!"
"Do not hurt me!" said Tamas almost crying, falling back to his knees. Darpo winced in genuine disgust at the pitiful figure of the man, and slammed the door shut. Fear assaulted Tamas's senses, and he knelt crying and rocking even when the door opened again, and a few Giak's walked in. They barely got to do anything, for the knight would not acknowledge their blows, curled up in a shaking fetal ball. The confused Vordak, who had sought to use the Giaks then employ a combination of mind probes and intimidation, was instead left wrong footed. It almost tried to comfort the strange knight, make offers rather than threats, then snarled at what it was doing. It launched a viscious mental attack at Tamas, but the sheer weight of fear was too great, it could not break through to the other information.
It smashed the knight to the ground with its fist, snarling again. It hesitated, unsure what to do, but realised that time was on its side, and so it left the pathetic shell of a warrior alone. None who visited the knight ever noticed that although he hadn't appeared to move, he had somehow avoided the path of the the blood from the dead knight Basama whose body was left at the door.
Deep inside Tamas's mind, the core of Tamas smiled, but grimly. Pushing his fears out as a shield, breaking where it did not matter right away, was a powerful defence but a costly one. Like starting a scrub fire to create a break so external fires could not cross, except it was no tiny fire he had to light. And the sparks and embers of fear were always drifting with the wind back towards him, it was a constant fight to extinuish those fears deep within himself in the core that was growing smaller and smaller as the artificially inflated fear grew, consuming more of his conscious mind.
He had to escape, he had to get out of here. Before he lost his mind, and soul, as the once noble Darpo had. A flare of fear almost consumed his core mind then, and he was thankful that the spawn were leaving him alone or else they could have broken throughthat day. He slowly got under control again. He would not become Drakeros, he wuld not let them know what he knew. He would seek to free those fellows not dead, and Gralmis too if he were still alive and holding firm.
However, how could Tamas escape, he was trapped deep in Kaag - there was no escape, his soul would be...
Tamas calmed himself and prayed to every god who he knew, and to the greatest Elder Magi that had lived, for a chance at freedom.
* * * *
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 13:59:44 GMT -5
The Story of Beowuuf Part 3: No Escape
The door cracked open. There was no body in the doorway anymore, but Tamas did not dare to think it was for reasons of hygene nor his comfort. He ensured his brain didn't think any further about it.
In the doorway stood a strange figure, a furry bodied figure. It took a torch with it, placing it in the wall. Tamas blinked looking at the thing that was darting its head about to make out his shape. Tamas had not seen much of the ruins of Kazan-Oud, but there were beast creatures still in them. He had not seen one such as this, a wolf standing like a person, but he knew it was of the same family.
"One of Zahda's creatures finds a new home," said Tamas bitterly and weakly.
"I hail from the Ilian planes, not 'Zahda'," said the wolf creature in passable Dessi and a neutral sounding tongue. Tamas looked at the wolf creature closer through his blinking, and that was when he saw his bluesteel sword was in the wolf's hand. The creature placed the sword up against the wall, then turned back to look dwown at Tamas on the floor. The contempt was evident, even on beastial features. However, the creature breathed deeply as if resigning himself to something. "I am not your concern, human..." and again the pause, again the winding back in its shoulders before it continued. "The fact your time is up should be."
Tamas rolled painfully, still blinking in the spluttering light but staggering weakly to his feet. He hadn't eaten for a while, his thirt only slaked to keep him alive not strong. "My time is up?" he said with a thick tongue and weak throat.
The wolf creature nodded. "Yes," it said, "whether you wish it or not, your time is marked as up. It has been ordered for you to join your brothers who have turned, even though such forced turning will no doubt lose you mind. You have apparently held them off in your weakness," the wolf curled his lip, shuddering as he looked at the warrior and considered the man's actions, "and they have lost patience." Again there was that little breath and pull of the shoulders at it steeled itself to lower its dignity enough to talk to Tamas again. "However, that is of no matter." The wolf creature's body jerked as a slight laugh escaped its curled mouth, it had looked Tamas up and down with the same hopeless contempt and some thought had flitted across its mind. It turned its back to reach for the sword again as it prepared to leave.
So that was it then, realised Tamas. And as simple as that he stumbled and lunged forwards at the wolf creature, or more importantly his sword. The wolf turned back and barked harshly, whether laughter or consternation Tamas couldn't tell - yet.
With dismissal for the weakened slow wreck of a man, the wolf backed off allowing the knight perhaps the dignity of gripping his weapon one last time. To grip it and try to use it one last time with an intention that came from his own free will. The wolf then gripped the sword swiftly itself, ready to resist the tug of the knight.
Tamas instead pushed the wolf's hand down as hard as he could onto the blade with one hand, gripping the blade tightly with his other. Bloody trickled and as the wolf stood looking in shock, Tamas uttered a single word.
* * * *
"We have legends of what our race...sorry, of what my race..."
"No slight taken"
A small smile in return. "Legends of what my race could achieve in its prime. Legends of those who, in the past, in the great times when we strived against Naar's champions directly and were cut low, achieved the greatest of powers."
Tamas pretended concentrate fully on taking the contents of the supper dishes to his plate without regarding the old man, even though every tale of magic and history facinated the knight. Lord Gralmis knew this, of course, but then Tamas never missed the opportunity to tease the stern yet oddly humourous man. For in a way, Tamas was still intimidated by him. He was Elder Magi, and despite his protestations Tamas knew the power this man could weild. Few, perhaps Giligar and Rimoah and Dormas, could outstrip Gralmis, but Gralmis's expert knowledge of the magics of mind was formidable. To sit at the table and do something as mundane as share food with a demi-god of the Vakeros people was... Tamas admitted to himself he was easily mocking himself with his actions aswell and perhaps comforting himself that Gralmis could have human reactions.
Tamas realised Gralmis had stopped, and Tamas looked up to see the Elder Magi's questioning look. "I am sorry, the bread is exquisite..please go on, you mentioned lengends."
"Legends I did," said Gralmis with a sincere looking nod of his head at being allowed to continue, his soft voice taking on a booming timbre. "There were the Beowuefi, those who altered their body to the likeness of aminals, hoping by a change in form and modes of thinking to avoid the plague of the Cener and to be closer to nature to find the means to defeat Naar's new agents. Or the Valos, those who left their bodies completely, became one with the wind and the land around them and stretch their souls into the very moutains we live in today, moving with speed as nothing could impede them, as nothing was not connected to their essence."
"A costly power if none can hear you," noted Tamas of the legend he knew.
"I think the legend that interests me most - please, do not finish all that spread, it is my favourite of the Vakeros delicacies - the most interesting legend was of the Estarni."
Tamas stopped eating, for the word was one he had not been able to research, although he knew it was close to the old man's heart. Lord Gralmis smiled, stopped, and slowly reached forward for a piece of bread. He looked in concern that one of the best spreads had gone, and slowly dunked into a bowl of another. He sat back in his seat lost in his thoughts.
"The Estarni?" asked Tamas finally, knowing he had been beaten.
"Oh, yes, of course" said Gralmis with a slow smile as he ate. "The Estarni. The ones who tried to stave off the effects of the body using merely the power of the mind. Sadly, not a power that was ever to be ours. Kai had gifted us with different abilities in the power of magic, that discipline of mind and body balancing perfectly was to be the gift the Sommlending would know instead." He shrugged without rancor, although of course such a power as the Kai could weild would certainly have saved the Elder Magi from the ravages of the Cener plague. "However, the Estarni could channel their magic purely through their mind, the pinacle of the old kingdom magic as it channels to the body, as opposed to the left hand path which comes from the strength of the body and channels that power to the mind. With the Estarni, what the body needed their mind could provide, in a way. A strength of will to carry on for longer than their bodies could have alone. A way to realise physical aspects of imagine that seem impossible. More than anything, this knowledge - an echo of it at least - enabled us to transfer our learning to the Vakeros. Splittig off the magic from the body, the blood, back to the mind so your people could learn our basic physical magics long before our two bloods mingled."
"What was the word?" asked Tamas suddenly. Gralmis seemed surprised and even concerned at the question. "It is something you have mentioned, almost," said Tamas, "something you have hinted at."
"I see I have almost taught you too well," said Gralmis, tryign to smile but there was an edge to it.
"No, you are just afraid now you've taught me this much, there is nothng further to stop us from undertaking - whatever you fear we need to do next."
"A word there was," said Gralmis, reluctantly but forcing hismelf to change the subject abruptly and sharply, his voice risen. Tamas felt a shiver as he knew he was right, that soon he and the squad of fellow Vakeros he had trained with so closely would be going on the mission that drove Gralmis. "That word was a simple one, yet elegant in its simple power..."
* * * *
The wolf felt something strange hit it - in no way it could describe. This strange human looked at him suddenly with a strange predatory stare, one the wolf was more used to giving. And like a wind that passed through its form, the wolf could still feel the effects of the strange word - a Vakeros word of power, it realised. The wolf backed off, trying to wrestle the sword free but the human was not trying to take the sword from it, and instead gripped it merely to hang on. By the time the wolf creature realised he didn't need to wrestle, he needed to shake this human free, the knight had opened his mouth, and found the strength to speak again.
* * * *
"Imagine a word that lets your mind and magic flowed where it would. Imagine a word that could inspire the bodies of the men around you and strengthen them, circumventing their heavy hearts and tired minds. Letting them feel your conviction in their bones, know your words were not mere words but a belief powerful enoguh that if they but share it then all obstacles could be defeated. Imagine a word that would let you talk to the land you walked on, let it live for a moment through you to tell you its greatest secrets and hopes and fears..."
"Would this word have the power to question the Darklands itself?"
Lord Gramlis laughed long and hard. "It would, Tamas... there is no question of that. The real question would be, do you have the power of mind to listen and not be swallowed yet?"
* * * *
Tamas could feel it, as the bridge began. Later he remembered it the other way round, that the moment of realisation happened too late. But in the dark of the night he felt he knew the truth, that the moment happened first, the moment when he knew it all, both sides.
* * * *
"This word sounds...powerful," said Tamas in shared concern. "Could a word like that not force your mind onto another's, make their body follow your actions?"
Lord Gralmis sat back, his concern now apparently revealed. His answering word was harsh. "No." He then drew back into himself, food and humour forgotten. He looked back upwards. "Not that a person could not do it, but luckily I know your heart and mind - you could not do it. That is the only reason I would, and will, share it with you, Tamas Rehme."
"But it is that powerful?" asked Tamas, afriad at both the man's tone and the trust shown, for some reason he could not fathom.
"It is that powerful - and yet so very simply. If you wish to know the word right now, over this meal, then you could learn it now. It might take the rest of the week to teach you learn its full inflections and power of course." Gralmis paused.
"What is the word?" asked Tamas quietly after a hesitation, seeing no one else around.
Lord Gramlis drew a deep long breath, and held a deep look. At length he leant forward, and a slight sparkle of his old humour returned with his own quiet words. "I do not know - that is something you need to tell me"
* * * *
The creature's name was Sorba, and it did not belong here. The wolf's mind was laid bare, although Tamas could not quite appreciate it. Wolf creatures or any of the Gorak Orgadaka were rare in the Darklands, and this one did not belong here, for it had not turned to the Darklands again. It had turned from its people, in some way. A flash of yellow robes played a part, yet it somehow did not associate itself with that apparal yet. It had come here for other reasons, but had now broken its cover at some opportunity Tamas had represented. The wolf was not an excecutioner of sorts, leading Tamas to his doom, it was trying to lead him to freedom. Perhaps for its own reasons, but those reasons did not feel hostile.
However, the power of fear was too great. The knight had lived on it, in the dark, for too long. It had slowly consumed him and he could barely think now. Few things were keeping him sane, and that was the unfortunate nature of the word and the danger. It was the word you held most dear, in your heart, that gave you life. Yet that word had the power to be used for so many terrible things. Tamas knew this. And he would say his mind was already passed the point to pull back, that he was already in the wolf's mind and body when he realised its nature. However, in the dark nights ahead he would always feel as if he were balanced for a moment, as if he had his foot in each place, could have fallen back...
He could not bare another second of this entrapment, he could not bare the thought of losing his soul to the blackest of magics.
And so his fear leapt across dragging his startled mind with it, smashing and crushing the strange mind in the strange body...
He blinked, whoever he was, and for a moment saw his Vakeros body, but not as he always imagined himself. The face was too different, not only a mirror image hideously different for being echoingly familiar, but he could feel the residual disgust of the wolf creature at the emaciated human standing before him. And he could also see the wolf's reaction from outside, still have an echo of eyes viewing a wolf's face with eyes widened in fear.
Two mouths uttered one simple word of power and the room exploded in a brief white light. Tamas felt pain in two seperate limbs as his father's sword, a blade he had weilded for so long, shattered in an instant. Tamas staggered back and the connection to the vacantly staring and bleeding body was gone. The thing before him, barely human, did not react at all to the small lacerations in its right arm, it merely fell backwards.
Tamas himself could barely comprehend the strangeness of this wolf body, he staggered as his mind tried to shut down. He was unable to control his limbs, unable to pull at the deeply imbedded shards prickling its...his...own flesh. He tried to ride the madness and bring his mental abilities to bear, but he found his mind was inside out. Before Tamas had been a small core of being inside a shell of fear, the awareness of the wolf mind pushing at that perimeter as he probed its mind. Yet now it was all in reverse, the small cries of the wolf's mind were deep, deep inside him. He tried to answer those cries, tried to pull himself back together, but now the fear was in his core, was him. The fear like a pressure crushing that wolf's mind into a infinitely small diamond, a niggling sparkle. And Tamas could not get his thoughts together, he felt them stretched, the pieces of his mind shattered and drifting on the surface of the fear, barely staying afloat.
He had to get out of here, he had to escape. Even though there would be no escape from the new prison he had forced himself inside. He had to run!
Even as his shattered mind could not focus, the wolf's body took over. Finally, free of the leash of a dominating mind, it knew itself. It was fast. It was strong. It was free.
He had to run. He was fast. He had to escape. He was strong.
Without another thoguth for the shell of flesh he left behind or the shattered blade that still glowed hotly on the floor, the wolf creature and Tamas turned and lopped off into the depths of Kaag.
* * * *
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 14:00:49 GMT -5
The Story of Beowuuf - Part 4: Home
His awareness managed to pull itself back together, force the fear into a tight ball only once to start with. Tamas stood for a moment, feeling the wind on his face tweaking and teasing his fur. He was outside, although a dark shadow blocked the light that would tell him this straight away. He looked up, and something approaching his old memories stirred. Tamas recognised something, though it was sluggish. He went back to looking down at his ichor stained arms, fur - he had fur? - matted down. A broken Giak sword, blade snapped in half, was gripped tightily in one hand, and he cast it aside with disgust. The memory prickled again, and in wonder he looked upwards as he realised what he was looking at.
The skull of the first champion of Naar, Nyxator, looked down at him. Here, in the most darkest of places, in the most darkest of moments in his life, an odd serenity took hold of him. It was really the broken body of that first champion, and any fury at at the final indiginaty of its display was tempered by the sheer wonder of coming face to face with the reality of the legend. Tamas would have tried to reach out and touch the doors, but he looked at the ichor stained claws hat did not belong to him, and felt unworthy. For despite the grim situation, despite the grim trophy being paradaed, Tamas felt a strange peace, a strange hope - a cycle of hope. Nyxator had been defeated, and yet Naar's champion, Agarash, had in turn been slain by the Elder Magi. And even as the Elder Magi had been brought low, they had not been extinguished. And their gifts of magic had been instilled in the Vakeros race, and both the Elder Magi's and Nyxator's knowledge had ensured the Kai had been born. Even when the Kai had been brought low, they had not been extinguished either, and it was Naar's champions who had fallen while the Kai greww once greater than before. Even now, with this new blight that attacked the purity of the Vakeros and Kai spirirt from within, it was surely destined to fail. The cycle of history was on the side of good, each pass slowly grinding down the evil that may always be around. However the evil could, perhaps, only exist in fleeting thought and small deep soon fought against and corrected.
Tamas looked up again, and he was certain that deep within the eye socket of the great dragon's skull, a glint of light reflected even though the land seemed in shadow. Tamas felt some connection, some-
The moment passed as a Giak troop came near. The wolf body jerked itself around and snarled. Tamas realised in strange drifting thought that he probably could have walked out of Kaag without comment, and that the slaughter had been and may still be unneccessary. He was free, he was out of Kaag and he could walk away, perhaps even now, even covered in ichor as he was. However his mind fractured again as his fears and the wolf's body found perfect concert. His conscious memories blacked out to the strange soothing thoughts, the feel of air pulling through his fur, then the warmth flowing around his arms.
He could not be caputred! This body was strong. He had to escape. This body was fast!
* * * *
Slowly the fear escaped, like jets of a gyser breaking the crust of the ground. Slowly the pressure in his mind descreased, and his mind could flow together for a moment. Some nights he came too, shivering with the adreneline and the coldness, huddled for warm against himself. Once he even realised a Drakkar pack was close, and it was still in his hands during a twilight recovery. He was able to start of fire with odd hands, still shivering at the odd memories and the sensation as if suffering withdrawl symptoms of a drug. As the fear escaped and drifted away, he was able more and more knit his mind together, have some drifting awareness that half remembered the wolf's actions as he travelled. Whatever memories and thoughts the wolf's mind had originally possessed were long crushed, and Tamas was only left with of that one moment to sift through when he had pushed to inhabit the wolf body. He also had his own fragmented memories from a previous life, and he wrapped himself around the fire like the old hunting dog he had left behind in Elzian to try and remember more such things about himself. He would just remember a fact when he would black out again, and the night went on like this, as if his own life were a dream he kept waking from. Facts that were fundamental would come as a shock of memory to him, such as the knowledge he had a sister, or of his sudden memories again of being a Vakeros knight.
A Giak broke out of the scrub suddenly as Tamas came too once. The wolf body tried to take hold, but he resisted the black soothing warmth of oblivion. Tamas almost lost his life as his limbs functioned so slowly, but a strong blow knocked the Giak unconscious. Tamas revelled in the fact that, for the first time, he seemed to have controlled the wolf body. Not only its limbs but its will! Tamas went back to huddle aorund the fire and collect himself.
Tamas awoke quickly - the Giak had come too and had sought to kill the wolf. Tamas was pleased that the wolf body had still not been allowed to slaughter the Giak, but threw up violently when he realised that it was then his own will that had snapped the Giak's neck. Tamas carried on coughing and choking and retching as a slow inexhorable tide of memory came to him. His mouth felt and tasted beyond disgusting, a hint at what he had sustained himself on and attacked without mercy out here. His matted fur seemed as if it would never be clean, so crusted he could perhaps be mistaken for a Giak instead of a furred creature. His mind as still cracked but it was healing now, not tearng apart again. He realised that at least some conscious thought had steered his direction. He remembered that he had biased himself by the door of Kaag that faced in mockery towards Sommerlund. He had travelled...south east? That was something hsi wolf body had done on instinct, perhaps driven by an isolated through of Tamas's mind.
Tamas shakily and slowly moved away from where he had fallen and looked aroudn i nthe new light. He could see the Durncrag mountains in the distance tall and close. However, that made him fall forward and weep, a hollow feeling in his chest. For he now knew he was infinitely far from his mentor, if the man still lived, and his companions, if they still existed as he remembered them. For there was one small memory that remained from the time of joining that belonged to the wolf mind. The fact that Tamas was the last unchanged Vakeros in Kaag. The rest, along with Lord Gramlis, had been taken to Helgedad itself to face Darklord Vashna and his most powerful Nadziranim.
Tamas? Was he even that knight anymore? He had seen his own body drop to the ground, aftre all. Like the Estarni Tamas had used his power and found it wanting, betrayed what he held dear for freedom at terible cost. Like the Beo-weufi, he had trapped himself in a useless prison that could not help him. Would he be doomed to be a seeker, forever trying to regain those things he had lost even before comign to the Darklands, that could never be regained? A beowuuf, a seeker of something that did not exist, that's what he was now.
* * * *
Tamas continued as the barely visible sun guided him, the blackouts coming less, his mind less confused between the breaks. The wolf body knew its sense of direction though, Tamas now found he had to guess. Tamas longed for the comforting darkness of mind he used to have, for his head ached constantly, his left arm was an agony each time he moved, and he swore he could feel the bluesteel jarrinf on his bones. Tamas could no longer rely on ignorance of what he ate, and he had to catch and devour it himself now. And he no longer had the comforting excuse of not being the one to kill a creature that threatened him, it had to be his will directing what was, he had to admit, his own limbs.
It was with relief when he saw the first fur-like aspect of the landscape in the distance - the recovered lands. A hope he had dared not have was that he would get to see them, this escape from the Darklands, even if it was the final thing he would see. Tamas ran towards them, pushing his body beyond what he thought possible. The distance seemed to be swallowed up achingly slowly, but he did not care. His eyes were teared with the effort, his nose and mouth filled with nothing but numbing cold as he moved swiftly. Finally there was a light of a rising new sun that was not pale and unwelcoming, that was perhaps hazy but there. He finally stopped, and let his eyes come to focus, and let his nose smell the sweet scent of freedom.
The grassland and greenery was blackened all about him. The scent in his nostrils was not the stench of the corrupt scrub of the Darklands, it was the stench of once good vegetation decaying and dying. Tamas fell to his knees and wept in frustration and horror, for this must be a dream. Where there should be those labouring to reclaim the Darklands, there was nothing but death and neglect. He must be in Kaag still, tortured by a dream. He was still trapped, although what they could do to him that was worse than this nightmare was debatable. He fell to the ground and realised here was where he would die, or awake back in his cell.
* * * *
Arms took him, gently. He could not remmeber much of the last week. There was pain in his knees and hands as his wolf body had pulled him across stinking slimey weed and dyng grass, depsite Tamas's attempts to stop it. He opened his eyes slowly, unused to pure light. He shut his wrinkling nose, unused to the different smells. With something approaching embarrassment he realised most came from him.
"Where am I?" he asked.
"A skyship," said a voice, using an accent he recognised yet couln't quite work out why.
"Where am I going?" he asked suddenly
"Well, that depends on whether your delirius talk is true or not, Beowuuf. Your speech is certainly in your favour"
"What do you mean?"
"You speak Dessi well, so you may be telling the truth."
"I do not understand - and I meant why did you call me Beowuuf?"
"It is your name, is it not?" there was a hint of suspicion. "Certainly the name you babbled to the solders."
"The ones who found you, part of the free companies. Lukcily they only say you close to, or you would have been killed dead as a spawn. I think they took pity on you, and your story was enough that a message was sent to the council."
"The council? The High Council?" Tamas could not remember why that name meant something.
"Yes. So be warned, Beowuuf, that if any of your delirious talk is false, you may very well wish you had remained in your own homeland rather than be brought to Dessi."
Tamas could barely focus on the captain, for that was who it must be, of this ship. For some reason he was tied up on the upperdeck to a rail. There were a few figures, mages rather than knights, surrounding him at a respectful distance. As Tamas recognised the familiar nature of his surrouding, of being aboard a Dessi skyship, he turned and looked backwards. The landscape fled away, the harsh Darklands already a small blot in the distance. Even the grey 'recovered' land was barely noticeable now. Green and vertile lands were now surrounding Tamas, mountains of healthy browns rushed passed. Tamas took it all in. It did not take much, Tamas mused, to implant the importance of something in one's mind. Even if he had not seen the pattern before, then this jounrey would have implanted the feeling in his mind permanently.
He was on board a ship, and a chapter was closing in his life.
He was going home, and life would never be the same again.
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 4, 2008 14:01:31 GMT -5
The Story of Beowuuf - Part 5: Away
Tamas stirred in his cell, hearing the noise, the voice calling his name. Or rather the name Beowuuf.
Tamas stirred reluctantly, rolling over and still surprised by the feel of his body and fur against the sheets, the bulkiness of his form. "Lord Giligar, I thought you said you believed me, why do you still call me Beowuuf..."
"It seemed appropriate since that was the name you have continued when you answer questions about yourself, so I have heard," said a voice. It was the voice that had woke him up, and it was certainly not that of Giligar's. It was female for a start. And oddly recogniseable. His sister? Mother? No. Not that he'd spoken to them recently, but still...
"Oh," said Tamas, seeing the figure and realising its identity.
There was a pause. "Now," said the woman, "I perhaps was never able to read your expressions well, and certainly not now, but you do not seem pleased to see me. I have always been fond of you, and had hoped you had felt the same of me."
"I did. But this is a dream, you are dead."
The woman smiled as she came closer, despite the obvious hesitation in her eyes that the few people he'd interracted with always had now.
"So are you," she said lightly, "apparently gone on some foolish suicide mission just before word could reach you. I did try to get word to you, I knew you would worry about us."
Not that the expression on the wolf's face, nor his oddly red eyes, could be read, but he seemed to sit up with reluctant eagerness. As if something or some question inside wished to get out but he was restraining it with hesitant fear at the answer.
"What happened?" asked Tamas.
"Oh," said the olive skimmed woman with a smile, "the embassy received warning, we all managed to escape in time to hide where we could until we could make our slow escape from the lands." A sad look. "Some brave souls stayed behind, the house knights and the head diplomat - and my father - to maintain the illusion and hold off the assault when it came. They, they did not..." she trailed away.
"I am sorry." said Beowuuf, and did not ask further, the hesitation and fear now very real for some reason not to do with her father.
"I am sorry too," she said with a brave smile moving on, "I heard about, Lord Gralmis was it not? From what I was told he was...important to you."
"Better dead than what could happen in Helgedad," said Tamas sadly yet bluntly, "before I had even recovered the council has scried with their most powerful magics. No sign of his mind there, and he had too powerful a mind to hide. There might be echoes of the Vakeros that...fell...but not him. He was powerful and knew the dangers. He could have blanked his mind out of existence the instant he knew there was no hope of rescue - I knew it, so at least I had no time to develop false hope before it was confirmed to me."
Tamas looked up, and realised he was talking about a man he had not known long while she had a more severe loss in her father. He started to get up to comfort her, then realised his form and instead locked, his shoulders slumping. A further thoguht was not even allowed to manefest in his mind.
The woman noticed the gesture though, and smiled slightly. Then looked concered. "Why are you still here?"
"Well, Lord Giligar-"
"Said you were free to leave, have been for a few weeks now, so do not lie to me." Tamas turned his head away and didn't look. The woman however, remembering that slight move of compassion before, still seemed to breathe a small sigh of relief.
"I do not flatter myself," she said, "that you would come out of your self-imposed quarantine for me. Certainly you have not for your family nor friends nor comrades who worry about you. She stepped forward, despite a slight hesitation on her part, despite the flinch of Tamas himself. "Tamas," she said gently, "there is someone here in the grounds who you have not seen in a while." She trembled slightly, but held out her hand. "You should see him - please, come outside."
Tamas's head snapped up and he gave her a look. There was a moment, but then with equal hesitation he took the offered hand, even though he did not need it to lift up his powerful form. With a smile at the odd set of hands joined, the woman turned and walked back to the door with the wolf in tow.
* * * *
"The Vassgonians have made their move, and consolodated their force with a contingency from the Darklands" said Lord Delorat, gesturing at three key points on the map and sweeping back towards the west with his hands as expansively as his flowing speech. Lord Giligar and others nodded their head at his assessment, the disagreements and debate merely being on the subjects of troop deployment and continencies.
Tamas fidgeted in his gold and scarlet tunic, pulling at the neck. It was strage to find it too tight, for it had been tailored especially for his form. Perhaps it was the feel of the fur, the clean coat underneath feeling the pressure of the material flattening it. Perhaps that was it...
"Perhaps a massing here," said Knight-Commander Ciras, pointing emphatically to a mountain pass with his one good arm, looking around the room with his one good eye for any disagreement.
"The other side would be better," said Tamas without thinking. He then winced as a few sets of eyes and one solitary one looked around at him.
"Why would we play so defensively?" asked Ciras, but despite the hesitation in his eye, and his usually straight demeanor all these years, there was a smile that had come to his lips. And despite the hesitation in his mind, Tamas could not help a small lop-sided wolf grin himself and answer.
"Well, it is only defensive if we do not have another force on the other pass moving around..."
"But does that not take into account the vulnerability of those three villages behind," said one of the Lords.
It continued like this. While Tamas had quit before he had achived formally the rank of Knight-Commander, Lord Giligar had insisted Tamas should take on the rank now he had found ways to regain some of his former powers of control of Vakeros battle-magic. Tamas did not understand why, nor why he had been invited to the coucil chambers that day. However, he was at least encouraged to find while he did not necesserily find he was always coming up with the best questions or strategies, at least his questions were pertinent, and at least his comments gave rise to debate. The battleplan was shaping up nicely, and he was almost enjoying the debate. Almost, obviously there was still a real battle after this initial plan was decided. And he still felt the odd looks occasionally. Still, he spotted a flaw and raised his voice, pointing to it-
"Oh for Goodness' sake!" said Lord Giligar and the rest of the room turned suddenly. Tamas stopped too, arm still in mid-point. "Can someone please put a sword in this man's hand," continued Giligar, "and get him to the field of battle!" There were some looks around the room. "We have been caught unawares and it is bad enough having this many good commanders withdrawn from the field or abroad at this moment, without holding any back who are more than capable."
There were some looks nods of agreement from many of the Lords and commanders, and some looks of hesitation. Tamas's was one of the latter, looking in shock at Giligar's suggestion. Tamas happened to look sideways, and see Ciras regarding him stoically and sternly again. Catching Tamas's eye, Ciras then nodded once and raised his good arm in a brief vakeros salute. Bewildered but touched, Tamas bowed his head in and saluted in return.
He was shocked again, as he was suited up later, to receive the Knight-Commander's own sword to use in the coming battle.
* * * *
"You are not Tamas Rehme," said the Knight-Captain blocking the wolf's way as he tried to walk towards the stairs for the main battlements. Part of a company of knights stood around their captain in the cramped wallspace. The Captain looked the wolf up and down with an unfriendly eye. "Tamas was...shorter," said the man, his face then breaking into a huge grin. There were a few hesitant cheers that were followed on as the older knights around seemed to recognise the name and the rumours.
"Thought we had lost you!" came one voice Tamas thought he recognised but couldn't place.
"The Darklands and their troops are highly overrated," said Tamas to the man, and the troops at large.
"Oh not that, we knew you would be back from there - we meant lost you to the College of Kaenos! Good to see you back Commander!"
Tamas grinned again, nodding to those younger knights uncertain about the strange figure they had heard tales of by now, and nodding too to the older knights. Those knights were perhaps smiling too eagerly, and eyes betrayed looing for a flash of recognition in the red wolf eyes, but Tamas smiled and nodded and commented and they seemed reassured, Despite Tamas's own strain at the undercurrent, he felt a sense of wellbeing too. The camaraderie was still there, and he had not felt more at home in a long time.
He took the steps back to the fresh air in twos, and took his place amoung a few Knight-Captains and senior troops in the main battlements of the wall. There were also a mix of greener troops standing close, knights who apparently seemed afraid of the coming combat. He could understand why.
Before too long, there was dust on the horizon, troops moving swiftly on horse or worse.
"It seems the enemy has forgotten which direction to retreat in," he said to the senior knights around him. The younger knights close heard him, and he continued, "it seems we need to teach them some sense of direction." Tamas grinned and even winked, and some of the younger knights drew themselves up or at least forget their fears to give him a look. All except one, a straight faced knight called Djall, but then Tamas had heard of his story so understood his grim determination he gave to the foes visible in the distance.
Tamas looked left and right, seeing a few familiar faces but feeling the loss of the few friends that may well still walk in Helgedad and Kaag. Beowuuf shuddered and looked beyond, recognising his place on the wall and remembering the part that, without knowing it, he had carved for himself. He knew Knight-Captain Doran was not too far down the line, the man trusted despite his rank to hold that area. Tamas had special reason to watch that man this day, for Tamas had to trust him with something even more important soon.
Despite his own heavy heart for many reasons, Tamas stood tall and proud, feeling the soothing wind blow through his fur. He drew Ciras's sword, looking at its perfectly maintained finish. He half-turned to address the young knights by his side even as the senior knights gave each other looks and set their own weapons.
"You feel that tightness in your chests right now," he said, "that's fear - your enemy's fear. He is pushing it before him, but he will want it back. So just you keep it there for now, and hold onto it, and focus on your spells and your weapon and your training and those behind us. You can give that fear back when you face your enemy, throw it back in their faces. For those we protect, for those we serve, for the blue of your brother on the line and the shining white of Elzian! Hold fast for the signal!"
* * * *
His arms were too responsive and his brain not enough, the magic came sluggishly if at all and he almost died countless times. Tamas could feel the wolf's body and the wolf's teachings in the Darklands all too keenly, and his bladeskill and battle magic all too often required a feat of finesse or strength from the wolf body to finsih off an attack or defence.
Tamas found his attacks did not flow so much as carried forward in a series of dislocated jumps in time and action. However his fears for his abilities in battle were unfounded, as he had now proved to himself several times. His blade always found a Drakkarim warrior or Vassgonian rider before his mind had fully realised. However, the wolf had to be reigned back before it could continue the attack in senseless abandon. And that almost cost him his life, except for the wolf's finesse and strength again...
Tamas smashed the butt of the bluesteel sword down on the head of the falling soldier trying with their last strength to entangle him. Tamas then saw a prone Vakeros in danger from some scarlet-clad scimitar weilder, and with all the mental effort he could muster Tamas channeled the magics down the unfamiliar blade while channeling and shaping the magics with his free left hand. Tamas could feel the shards there tingle and shift and scrape, but he focused on the pain instead of allowing it to distract him, and sent out the power word.
The scarlet figure toppled forwards, and Tamas was able to leap on it and behead the strange thing before it could get back up. It was not human, some strange diseased spawn, but Tamas simply shrugged and looked over to the knight he had saved. The Vakeros knight, a young lad now he was seen up close, looked shocked but then grinned his thanks. The wolf's body seemed impatient that its killing had finished for the moment and Tamas worried about a spasm in his arm ending this life. A foolish thought... he then had to resist the spasm for real as something tapped him from behind.
"My lord," said one of the Captains, "the enemy retreat!"
"Good," said Tamas, feeling sick that only his quick reflexes saved the poor man, and more importantly realising the sick feeling had been there the whole battle again, rising with each kill. "I have no idea why they fought as long as they did anyway, they lost the tactical advantage long ago," said Tamas with a shrug, looking aroung and realising that indeed the day was won. He patted the captain on the shoulder and grinned, but saw the strange look of horror on the man's face. It took a second for Tamas to realise the captain was looking over Tamas's shoulder, and he looked back towards the young knight. The young knight's face was a mass of blood trails, the red streams flowing freely from his terrified eyes, and nose, mouth, and ears. His fingernails seemed to be bleeding too, so as he tried to wipe his face it smeared red.
"Medic! Get a medic!" yelled Tamas turning to the captian, only to find the same happening to that Vakeros. Tamas could see the confusion and terror as it happened all over the battlefield to many. He watched powerless, for as quickly as it begun, those around him collapsed to the ground and seemed to melt into a thick viscious red sludge.
He was in Kaag, he had never left. This was a nightmare and he would never wake up for they would realise they could do nothing worse to him than they were doing now.
* * * *
"Only every one in nine to every one in twelve soldiers in the various companies still remain," confirmed Lord Giligar to the wolf creature standing infront of him. The wolf had obviously washed since the battle, the stench of the various inneffective potions the Elder Magi had concocted still gave a pungent smell. However the wolf carried himself with a distasteful and pained expression as if the blood were still splattered on him.
"It is called the Blood Plague, and we have reports of it all over now," informed Lord Giligar. "we fear it is the latest move of the Cener, more virulent and deadly than the Laughing Plague they sent before and certainly comparible with the plague that decimented the Elder Magi in abcient times."
The wolf nodded his head at the words of serious import, and growled. "My question still stands. Why have I not been transfered yet?"
"Transfered?" asked Lord Giligar with faked incomprehension.
"As my father before me, I asked to be transfered to the battle with the Cener. We all know with these attacks, certainly by the Cener, that a war must be coming. We must be ready."
"Agreed - here is your transfer," said Lord Giligar, producing a parchment that had been on his desk before Tamas had even come in. The wolf took it, and scanned it. He stopped after the first line and looked incredulously at the Elder Magi, as much as such an explression could be determined on the wolf. The name used on the transfer order to denote Tamas may well have been a factor in his look.
"What is this?" Tamas, apparently Beowuuf, asked.
"It is your transfer," said Giligar simply.
"This is to the 'Magnamund Knights' Council' in Toran," said Tamas with a neutral voice.
"Indeed. Well, the building is there I am to understand, though not innaugurated yet. You will actually meet a representative of the council in Durenor, probably one of the Knights of the White Mountain that are now our allies in these dark times. Only as a go-between, or respresentative in the daily running has already been chosen, althoguh fr obvious reasons cannot travel.."
"Your are sending me away? Now? On a foo-"
"You will do your duty!" said Lord Giligar suddenly, with such as harsh tone that Tamas queitened. "With the Blood Plague and so much death and loss we cannot afford to be vulnerable. We have secured alliances directly with the armies our our greatest allies in Sommerlund, and their allies in Durenor. That stands for nothing if we cannot talk nor co-ordinate with them, nor help them and in turn help ourselves and stop the Darklands and Cener and Vassgonians from taking advantage of outr weakened state and the growing darkness in Magnamund!"
Lord Giligar stood up, and for once came around the desk to stand beside the wolf creature breathing heavily but listening. "Those who were out of our borderes when this plague struck are few. You, with your form, are perhaps one of the very few we would trust to leave here. Certainly we must have someone to be able to talk directly to the most powerful of our allies without risking their death!"
Lord Giligar took another moment to form his next thought. "You are not, if you are truthful with yourself, 'Beowuuf', looking to fight are you?"
"Why did you sign me as-"
"You are not comfortable in your skin, you are lookign for something, and death in battle as your father died is not the answer. Not if it gets others killed too." Tamas looked as if he had been slapped.
"I hope you will come back, someday soon," said Lord Giligar, "when you realise that whatever you are searching for is not elsewhere, it is not even as far as the border of Dessi."
Lord Giligar tapped Tamas on the chest.
"Until that time," continued Giligar, "I am afraid that whatever is driving you, that certainly was not helped by this tragedy, will keep disracting you and pushing you. It is not something I can allow in a commander of mine, not even a simple Vakeros knight on the field of battle."
Tamas had nothing to say, much as he wished to say it. Lord Giligar had looked into his heart and Tamas was powerless to lie to the man. Tamas nodded and left without further word.
Lord Giligar, for his part, returned to his desk and looked on sadly. After a while he took the second transfer paper from his desk, and set it alight on a candle close.
* * * *
Tamas Rehme stood on the deck of the ship, looking back over the port of Hikas, and the land of Dessi beyond it. He looked over at the land of his birth, and felt an outsider. There were perhaps a few links still remaining there, some stronger than others, but for now he did not feel, looking as he did and feeling as he did, that he could be around them. Perhaps one day he would come back. No, one day he would come back.
For now, he looked around the deck of the ship then looked north, as if trying to see the land he was to be sailing towards. Durenor. Tamas looked back at Dessi one last time before going below deck. He felt a chapter in his life was coming to an end, and a new one was beginning - but wasn't that always the way?
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 5, 2008 3:16:26 GMT -5
This story section was written by Aguila Saber as a continuation of Beowuuf's travels to Toran with the children. There is a final 'Story of Beowuuf' section I then wrote to close the loop from that journey to the first post i nthe West Watch, chapter 14.
There is still an untold story of Beowuuf's experiences in Sommerlund that have been hinted at in various places along the way that might be expanded upon in the future.
A journey to Toran by Aguila Saber
~ On the Road ~
Beowuuf leads his two charges along, while travelling on the King’s road towards Toran.
“Mr Woof?” Simmista says.
Beowuuf turns and looks at Simmista.
“Where do you live?” Simmista asks.
“I live far away,” Beowuuf answers briefly.
“In a cave?” Simmista continues.
“No, not in a cave,” Beowuuf replies.
“In a hole in the ground,” Simmista persists.
“No, not that either,” Beowuuf answers patiently.
“Then where?” Simmista persists.
“I have a home. Much like yours,” Beowuuf answers cautiously. Luckily, Simmista finds an odd-shaped stone on the road, which she takes up and throws at the trunk of an oak tree. “Take that foul giant,” she shouts.
“It’s a tree trunk,” Kalmyn said.
“Is NOT,” Simmista protests.
“It doesn’t move, Simmista. It is a t …,” Kalmyn continues.
“See it moved!” Simmista shouts two seconds later when a deer takes refuge deeper into the surrounding woods. Beowuuf and Kalmyn sighs.
“Are the carpets yellow?” Simmista asks Beowuuf one minute later.
“No,” Beowuuf stoically answers.
“Green?” Simmista continues.
~ Hitchford ~
It is early evening when the three travellers approach the village of Hitchford. The going has been easy, the weather fair, and they have barely met any people on the road and the people they have met have had hurried business elsewhere.
For some time now the river Tor has run alongside the road, and to Kalmyn’s and Beowuuf’s relief the boats, ferries and small rapids of the Tor have taken up much of Simmista’s attention. The weather is fair, the birds are singing and trout are jumping in the rapids.
Still it has been a long day and Beowuuf is looking forward to a good meal and rest, and moreover he is looking for something to soothe the wound from the sharp stone which he trod on five miles away. Said wound is now causing Beowuuf to move with a slight limp when the three enters the village by the River Tor.
“What are all those lights?” Simmista asks pointing towards a dozen of torch lights near the centre of the village.
“Torches,” explains Beowuuf.
“Why are they there?” Simmista persists.
Beowuuf looks at them, and takes the opportunity to rest his sore foot. He can’t think of a reason why they are out.
“They are approaching us,” Kalmyn says.
“They look like meanies,” Simmista says.
“They are villagers,” Kalmyn responds.
Beowuuf looks up from his injured foot and notices that the group is indeed approaching, and by the look of their faces and the hushed sounds his sensitive ears pick up, he tends to agree with Simmista. Beowuuf looks left and right, and concludes that they are approaching from three ways and that it looks like they may have been expecting them.
“Stay away from Wuuf,” Simmista shouts. “He is my wuuf!”
Beowuuf’s ears fold back and then rise again. His red eyes dart between the approaching men. Voices muttering “wolf beasts”, “fiends” “spawn of the darklords”, and “terrors of the night” are clearly heard by all three of them.
“We seek a meal and lodging for the night,” Beowuuf calls out.
“Stay where you are, fiends,” the answer comes.
“We are not fiends,” Beowuuf protests. “I am escorting these two children to Toran.”
“What is a fiend, Mr Wuuf?” Simmista asks.
“Pah. We know your kind. We know how to deal with you. Look there!” the man points towards a small charred circle lit up by the light of a dozen torches. Some of the approaching men in the mob must have placed their torches by it while he has spoken because the circle of light was not there before.
“A pyre,” Kalmyn says clutching Beowuuf’s hand tightly.
“Surely you can see that the children are not fiends,” Beowuuf tries.
“They look like humans I can grant you that, only one way to find out,” the man says with a menacing voice. There is a murmur of approval among the men around him. The man says: “The truth is in the fire.”
Beowuuf ears pick up a new sound, perhaps if he could stall the crowd. “If we are fiends why would I walk into the village looking like a wolf-creature?” he asks.
Suddenly Kalmyn releases his hold of Beowuuf’s hand, as if he has just become aware that he has taken it to begin with. Nobody sees him study his feet in the torch-light with a woebegone expression on his face.
There are many shouts among the crowd, clearly opinions are divided. Most are in favour of burning the three to take no risks. The spokesman grimaces and eyes the three.
“Because you are stupid!” he finally splutters out.
“That’s a rotten LIE foot-face,” Simmista counters. Beowuuf notices that his face has an unusual shape and has indeed a striking similarity to a foot-sole.
The man is taken aback, but recomposes himself and starts speaking: “That’s quite enough from you, fiendish brat. Soon you will all …”
At that moment a dozen horses with mounted soldiers enter Hitchford, they ride directly up to Beowuuf and his two charges.
“What’s happening here?” the leading rider asks in a commanding voice.
“We are taking care of these fiends, Sergeant D’Ami,” the spokesman says.
The Sergeant looks down on the three. “Who are you and where are you going?”
“My name is Beowuuf, and I’m taking escorting these two children to Toran,” Beowuuf starts.
The sergeant looks thoughtful. One of his soldiers rides up to him. “It’s the Talon children. I recognize them.”
“Do you know a fair amount about them?” the sergeant asks.
“I do,” the soldier responds.
“Then ask them something which a fiend would not find out easily,” the sergeant says.
“Very well, sir,” the soldier says and addresses the two children.
“What is my name?” he asks.
“Roland,” Kalmyn answers. “You are the son of our next-neighbour.”
“What is the name of my horse,” he asks.
“Grace,” Simmista says. “Roland you will save Mr Woof from these meanies, won’t you?”
“Who is Mr Woof,” he asks.
“That would be me,” Beowuuf says. “We are merely looking for food and lodging for the night,” he says. “Perhaps we can discuss more privately?”
“I take it they are genuine,” the sergeant queries.
“Yes, sir,” Roland says. “There is no way fiends would know the answers.”
“Very well,” the sergeant says. “We will take you to the manor house of Lord Saumon for your own safety. Roland, you take the boy on your horse, I will take the girl. Bertrand, you take the wolf-man.”
There are mutterings among the gathered crowd, but when the sergeant makes the announcement they start to disperse.
~ Lord Saumon’s estate ~
The ride to the estates of Lord Saumon is uneventful. However, their reception is less than friendly and Beowuuf’s appearance causes some considerable concern. The Lord is expected back tomorrow, and the captain in the manor house decides to play safe and puts Beowuuf in the dungeons.
“I want to be with Mr Wuuf!” Simmista exclaims.
“Very well. We will put you in the dungeons as well!” answers the Captain. To his defence it should be said that Simmista has only tried his patience with thirty questions.
“Then I will go there too,” Kalmyn says.
“I give up!” the Captain says. “Put them all in the dungeons. Take them away!”
The soldiers lead them away. Simmista and Kalmyn are placed in one cell, while Beowuuf is placed in the cell opposite. The cells are spartan; measuring about 3x5 metres with a hard cot, onto which some hey has been strewn. There is a low table with a rickety chair and apart from that, very little. There is no light source, but it is not completely dark since light from the corridor outside filters in through the bars in the door. The floor, walls and ceiling are all grey and bare.
However, it is not the sparse accommodations which cause endless complaints from Simmista, it is the fact that she does not get to share the cell with Mr Woof.
Soldiers provide them with a warm meal, which is brought down to them, as well as mattresses and beddings which provide a more comfortable place to sleep. They are also given lanterns to light up their cells. Yet, all this does little to appease Simmista. Defiantly she proclaims a hunger strike and pesters the guard with questions and reminders. Kalmyn eats his food, and watches his sister question the guard.
Beowuuf on his part is tired. He eats the food served before him, and allows himself a smile as he treats his injured foot. It has been a long day, and there is little he can do to improve his situation. At least for a while, he can rest while Simmista has found another source of information. There will surely be new worries tomorrow, but hopefully Lord Saumon will turn out to be a reasonable person.
After two hours of constant reminders that Simmista is on a hunger strike, and that she has been promised to be in the same cell as Mr Woof, the guard has had enough and places them all in the same cell.
Simmista hugs Beowuuf as she enters and then explains that she went on a hunger strike to see Mr Woof. Two minutes later she is asleep. Beowuuf smiles. There is at least an end to Simmista’s energy and Kai and Ishir know that they all will need the rest.
~ A visiting Lord and his companions ~
Simmista and Kalmyn are still fast asleep when Beowuuf’s sensitive ears pick up approaching sounds from the corridor outside.
“You placed them in one cell?” asks an incredulous voice.
Silence follows. Apparently the guard has no good answer to this question.
“What can you tell me about them?” comes the voice again.
“They are the Talon children and a wolf-man. The wolf-man claims he is escorting them to Toran,” responds the guard.
“Curious. Why would the children be leaving their farm-stead and their disabled father? And in the company of a beast?”
“Perhaps best if we asked them?” says a female voice.
“In due time. Let’s have a look at them first,” the first voice says.
With near shut eyes Beowuuf observes how three different people look in through the bars in the door. The first to look through the bars is a middle-aged man wearing a helmet which covers most of his face. He mutters something and seems to be chewing on something, and he looks quite stern. He does not look happy and Beowuuf recognizes his voice as that of the first speaker. The second face is that of a young brown-haired woman, she looks curious and remains silent. The third of them is a young blond male. He looks interested and Beowuuf overhears him saying. “An interesting wolf-man, Lord Saumon.”
“Quite so. What do you make of him?” Lord Saumon asks.
“There is no trace of evil, but otherwise difficult to say milord,” the man answers.
“Hmpphh… What say you Dancing Wind?” Lord Saumon says.
“Evil are they not. The children looked adorable, don’t you think?”
Lord Saumon is quiet for a while. “So you both say it’s safe?”
Beowuuf hears no answer. Instead it is Lord Saumon that speaks again.
“Very well. Let’s bring them out so we can find out what the creature is.”
“The children are asleep, let them rest. Let’s have the guard brought them up when they wake up,” Dancing Wind says.
“Fair enough. Escort them upstairs when they wake up,” Lord Saumon says.
“Yes, Lord Saumon.”
“Meanwhile, we can discuss the identity of the wolf man,” the man says.
“As you wish, Keran,” Lord Saumon answers.
Finally Beowuuf hears receding footsteps and then a door opens and closes.
~ Morning questions ~
“Mr Woof,” whispers Simmista.
“Did you hear?” Beowuuf asks.
“Why are we going to Toran?”
Beowuuf gulps. He does not have a good answer he is willing to impart. “I have something to do there,” he answers eventually.
“But why am I going there?” Simmista asks.
“Your brother wanted to go there, and it’s time you had the chance to visit the city,” Beowuuf responds.
“Why does Kalmyn want to visit Toran?” Simmista asks after a while. “What is he to do there?”
“I think he mentioned that he wanted to see the guild hall of the brotherhood of the crystal star,” Beowuuf answers.
“I don’t want to look at a building!” Simmista says.
“If you ask nicely, perhaps they will show you some of their magic,” Beowuuf responds.
“Truly? Can they make fire-works?”
“Was the woman a Kai Lord?” Simmista asks a while later.
“I don’t know. Do you think she was?”
“She has a Kai name. I wanna be a Kai Lord like her,” Simmista beams.
Beowuuf remains quiet.
~ An Audience with a Lord ~
Half an hour later Kalmyn is awake as well, and the guard escorts the three to Lord Saumon’s chambers, where he receives them with the two strangers Beowuuf saw earlier.
“Please have a seat,” Lord Saumon says indicating three chairs around the table which judging by their sizes appear to have been placed there for them in advance.
Kalmyn and Beowuuf take their seats. Simmista walks up to Dancing Wind.
“Are you a Kai Lord?” she asks.
Dancing Wind settles on her haunches and looks at Simmista. “Why yes, I am. How did you know?”
“Because I’m going to be a Kai Lord too!” Simmista says beaming at Dancing Wind.
“That’s a tall order. Mind if I ask why?” Dancing Wind says.
Simmista talks in one long sentence, explaining everything her father told her about the Kai. All in the room are beginning to wonder when she will run out of breath, when she eventually stops her long account with: “… and that is why I wanna be a Kai Lord.”
“You see that young man over there?” Dancing Wind.
“Smack him from behind and then return here without him catching you.”
“Dancing Wind! What …” Keran says. Moments later Simmista has run up to him. He tries to turn to catch her but she ducks behind his arms. He overbalances and stumbles, two seconds later a small hand smashes his bottom. His body gives up any pretence in balance and he falls to the floor in a heap. A giggling Simmista returns to Dancing Wind. There is a chuckle from Lord Saumon, and Beowuuf permits himself a wolfish smile.
“I smacked him!” Simmista says.
Dancing Wind holds out two hands. “I want you to concentrate on my hands. One of them contains a coin. If you guess which one, you can have it.”
Simmista considers the two outstretched hands, then she promptly selects Dancing Wind’s left hand. She opens it to reveal the coin, which Simmista eagerly accepts, and shows to Beowuuf. Lord Saumon harkles his throat. “Perhaps it is time to talk about why I asked to see you. But first introductions.” He points to the young woman who wears the grey robes of a Kai Master. “This is Dancing Wind, a Kai Master.”
Dancing Wind makes a curtsey. “Pleasure to meet you,” she says.
“And this is Keran, a brother in the magician’s guild in Toran,” Lord Saumon continues.
Keran who has resumed his position on the chair smiles at them politely.
“And I am Lord Saumon, the master of this small estates and a knight of the sun-realm,” Lord Saumon continues.
“I am Beowuuf,” Beowuuf says. “And I am escorting the Tolan children, Simmista and Kalmyn to Toran.”
“But who are you? I’ve not seen a wolf-man like you before?” Lord Saumon asks.
Beowuuf looks at the three with his red eyes, and says: “Maybe now you see why."
Lord Saumon frowns, fortunately Keran steps in and says: “We found a cloak and tunic among your things. Are they yours?”
Beowuuf nods and says in a hushed voice: “Yes they are mine.”
“And the blue shards. Did you earn them at the academy?” Keran asks.
“I certainly earned them, yes,” Beowuuf responds.
“Are you perchance planning to visit the representative of the Cobalt Guild?” Keran asks.
Beowuuf blinks, and then merely nods.
“You may have a problem then. He died and I do not think the guild has someone to represent them. Unless you have contact I’d suggest a visit to the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star instead,” Keran says.
“I will keep that in mind,” Beowuuf says.
Keran leans closer to Lord Saumon and whispers something to him.
“I’m happy to make your acquaintance Beowuuf. I wasn’t aware that hmmm… people like you existed,” Dancing Wind says.
“I found Mr Woof!” Simmista says.
“Yes, of course you did, Simm,” Dancing Wind responds.
“Anyway,” Lord Saumon starts, “in light of your identity. You are of course free to go. I will see to it that you are served a hearty breakfast before you go.”
Lord Saumon stops seemingly not knowing what to say.
“I will make sure to give you an invitation to our Guild. Mayhaps you will find a use for it,” Keran says.
“Can you make fire-works?” Simmista asks.
“Why yes, we do the very best fire-works in Sommerlund,” Keran says.
“Given what happened in the village, I think Beowuuf will need something to assure him safe passage,” Dancing Wind says looking at Lord Saumon. “It’s the least we can do after having put him through so much trouble.”
“Ah, of course. You are right. I will have my clerk issue a writ with my personal seal immediately,” Lord Saumon says, and continues facing Beowuuf. “Simply present it to any Sommlending you meet and your safe passage will be ensured.
“Be sure to use it when you approach the gates of Toran,” Keran says. “Queues are common there and people waiting to get inside the city may be frightened to see you.”
“Sounds like good advice,” Beowuuf says.
Lord Saumon excuses himself saying that he needs to make the agreed preparations, rises and then leaves the room.
~ Wagon Trip ~
When the Lord closes the door Dancing Wind approaches Beowuuf.
“I hope you don’t mind if I take a look at your foot, Beowuuf,” Dancing Wind says.
“It’s all red and swollen,” Simmista says airily.
“My foot?” Beowuuf stutters obviously surprised.
“I noticed you limped when you entered, and I don’t think it will do to have you walk with an infected foot all the way to Toran,” Dancing Wind says. “Now put your foot on the stool.”
There is no saying no to this request. Beowuuf puts his foot on the stool, and let’s Dancing Wind treat it with her hands. They feel soft and warm to the touch, and Beowuuf can feel his foot healing while she works it with her hands. Simmista watches the proceedings with great interest. Kalmyn wanders over to Keran watching him write an invitation. Five minutes later Dancing Wind is done with her hand treatment. She proceeds to take out some fresh bandages which she soaks with a generous amount of Laumspur from a potion bottle. She then bandages Beowuuf’s foot.
Lord Saumon returns to the table and addresses Beowuuf, looking at his bandaged foot. “It struck me that Sergeant D’Ami whom you met yesterday in the village is travelling to Toran with his men to train archery. To make up for our err … actions here I have decided to offer you the use of a horse-drawn wagon, escorted by Sergeant D’Ami and his men. How does that sound?”
Beowuuf allows himself a smile and nods in acceptance to the offer.
“Mr Wuuf? Simmista says.
“Yes, Simm?” Beowuuf says.
“Can I ride on the horses?”
“Meanwhile, here is the writ I promised,” Lord Saumon says handing over a document.
“And here is the invitation,” Keran says.
Beowuuf calmly accepts the papers he is handed. His hands are now full of papers and his foot is bandaged.
“And here comes all your equipment,” Lord Saumon says when he a soldier enters carrying Beowuuf’s backpack.
Beowuuf goes through his things and stows down the new papers.
After the meal Beowuuf and his two charges leaves the house and finds themselves in the courtyard. Awaiting them there is an open wagon drawn by four horses. A driver is sitting with the reins in his arms waiting for them to enter the wagon.
“Good morning, sir” Sergeant D’Ami says saluting Beowuuf.
“Good morning,” Beowuuf replies.
“It’s a nice day for a journey. Is there anything you need before the journey?”
“I want to ride the horses!” Simmista shouts.
Beowuuf shakes his head.
“We are ready to move out on your orders, sir,” Sergeant D’Ami says.
Beowuuf helps a reluctant Simmista into the wagon, while Kalmyn climbs aboard himself, then Beowuuf gives Sergeant D’Ami the sign to move forwards, and then wagon with its escort rolls out from Lord Saumon’s Estate.
It’s a tranquil journey, tranquil that is except for Simmista’s questions. However, Beowuuf finds an answer.
“Sergeant D’Ami,” Beowuuf calls.
The Sergeant rides up to Beowuuf. “Yes, sir?”
“The children want to ride the horses. I would like us to repeat what we did yesterday, and let them ride with your soldiers for a while,” Beowuuf states.
The Sergeant looks surprised but salutes Beowuuf and says. “It will be done, sir.”
“Roland! Bertram! To me!” Sergeant D’Ami shouts and immediately two of his men come riding to him. “Make place for the children on your horses.”
Three minutes later, Beowuuf leans back relaxing in the comfortable leather chairs of the wagon.
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 5, 2008 3:24:07 GMT -5
Beowuuf listened to the story, not commenting nor correcting anything as Aguila Saber spoke.
"Is that how it happened?" asked one ofthe listeners looking at the wolf.
"Exactly," said Beowuuf with a nod to the Telchos. However, the listener was now too engaged.
"But what happened between the journey and your entrance to the Guldhalls! What about the Helghast?" asked the listener.
"That's not important," said Beowuuf, brushing off the question, "why spoil a nice story when nothing much happened."
However, Beowuuf felt the looks, and was forces to relent. "Ok, well..."
The Story of Beowuuf: Part 6 - Things go back to normal
Beowuuf awoke from a strange dream he couldn't recall, seeing Sergeant D’Ami standing close. Perhaps it was time to break camp. Perhaps he should have stayed in the wagon so he didn't need woken back up?
Then he saw the sergeant was not in the tent for him at all, he was riffling through Beowuuf's possessions. Beowuuf sighed. "Still not beleive me?" he asked the man, more disappointed than angry. Then Beowuuf realised that the man was passing items out of the pack to someone else - possessions such as his Vakeros cloak, and a someone else that was actually another Beowuuf.
Beowuuf had barely registered this fact before the other version ran away, and Beowuuf barely had time to react to that and wake up fully before 'Sergeant D’Ami' was upon the wolf creature.
Luckily Beowuuf had kept the magical arrow closeby, and as the dissovling hands tried to wrap themselves around his throat Beowuuf could kick out quickly and be able to come up with a weapon.
The Helghast snarled, dropping its disguise in its lust to kill. Red eyes stared at red eyes, twitching fingers tried to spot the gap in the wolf's swaying movement and darting weapon.
Beowuuf was already preparing himself for the mental assault the creature was sure to launch, unsure if he would be able to withstand the onslaught from such a powerful spawn. However, for some reason none came, and Beowuuf took advantage of the unexpected good fortune to simply jump at the creature.
The thing moved aside easily, watching with puzzled derision as Beowuuf slammed on the floor obviously short. Then it screamed as Beowuuf simply jammed the arrow deeply into its foot, and before the spawn could react Beowuuf was already back on his feet and stabbing the thing through the area its heart should be. The creature managed to grab Beowuuf's throat, and Beowuuf's stabs became more desperate as the thing's grip tightened. Finally though, the Helghast started collapsing and dissolving.
"What's going on!" said another Sergeant D’Ami rushing in, the real one hopefully. He saw the arrow, Beowuuf staggering to the floor with his hands around his throat coughing, and the black dirt.
"Did you see which way I went?" asked Beowuuf gasping to the confused man, then rolled his eyes and lopped out of the tent. However, quite soon Beowuuf recognised that it was perhaps a little too late and stopped. Then a large thought made his eyes jump up wide. 'The children!'
The sergeant had barely caught up to Beowuuf physically, and certainly not mentally yet, before Beowuuf left him standing in the middle of nowhere again. Beowuuf went towards the wagon the children had insisted on sleeping in - Beowuuf prefering to get a tent when he knew Simmista was finally flagged and drifting into the nameless void of sleep.
Beowuuf stood at the mouth of the wagon's covering, hand clasping and unclasping and slowing his breathing as he realised they were safe and sound. He found a seat, delicately got into it and watched them with an unfathomable gaze, his fingers playing with his chin and mouth as he let a future he had seen go from his mind. Eventually, perhaps sensing the movments before and coming slowly to wakefulness, Simmista opened her eyes.
"Hello Mr Woof" she said.
Kalmyn jerked awake too. "What's wrong?" he asked more concerned, perhaps sensing something.
"Nothing, go back to sleep," said Beowuuf, but of course Simmista could do no such thing, and that meant neither could the others for what seemed a good long while as she told them all about the dreams she'd had, then the dreams she wished she'd had...
Meanwhile, Sergeant D’Ami had managed to take stock of the situation, and found a pause in Simmista's stroytelling to inform Beowuuf.
"Your clothes are gone, together with most of the papers. You should still be alright travelling with us, and you still have your pass to the Brotherhood - but, you claimed an imposter?" The man sighed with the nod Beowuuf flicked. "Then I am afraid he could easily get all the way to the Brotherood door, and if Brother Keran has sent on word, he could gain access."
Beowuuf blinked, breathing heavily again. Just when he thought his life had, perhaps, become simpler. "Then I think we had best not delay," he confirmed, getting up.
Post by Beowuuf on Apr 12, 2008 3:52:08 GMT -5
Here is a silly little piece I wrote, possibly not canonical, to explain how Simey was mentioned as being the one to meet with Beowuuf. Why Lord Simey was thought to be a high member of the council will perhaps be explored later.
Edit: Confirmed as non-canon
The clerk of the consultate seemed to be awaiting Simey eagerly.
"A letter from the Knights' Council has arrived for you sir, telling you to not worry about the Vakeros Knight."
Simey had a long day, so could not tell if this was a general concern he was supposed to have had, or if there were specific knights out there for other knights to worry about. Perhaps the council was testing his sanity, a troubling thought.
The clerk, a mindreader who apparently did not approve of what he found, clarified with a very neutral "The knight you were supposed to meet with a month ago, sir"
"Oh, that knight...I passed it on to...to someone else." Simey had too much to deal with, he could not remember the name. "I have no idea why the council asked for me at all, let alone for such an errand. I am in Cloeasia for goodness' sake"
"And I know I do not have to worry about him, he went missing"
"Indeed sir, but they found him again."
"And they say not to worry about him, sir."
"That is very decent of the council."
"Yes sir, apparently the wolf was a male, not female, and so likely not within your interest sir."
"Well I am glad that it worked out for us bo...what did you say?"
"Apparnetly a male sir, not a female, so not who you were hunting. He is now in the Darklands sir, so nothing to worry about."
"Wait," said Simey, suddenly fearing this was a hallucination and the real clerk would be talking something resembling sense while Simey was foaming at the mouth about wolf creatures. "What are you talking about - what wolf?"
"The wolf sir. The one you were to meet."
"The knight you say, said Simey, now fearing the worst for his mind. He hoped he was saying the same words in the real world too.
"Yes sir, the knight."
"But..." he chanced his arm, "you said a wolf."
"Yes sir," said the clerk, apparently enjoying his game immensely - the game of 'You really do not read any of the letters I give to you nor listen to what I tell you, and now I will make you pay as much as courtesy and respect to your position allows.'
"Clerk, I have had a long day, a troubling day, a day that I will not bore you with. Please, can you make some form of sense."
"The knight sir, is a wolf. Or the wolf a knight. The council is not clear itself on the details sir, whether the wolf creature was made a Vakeros knight, or whether a Vakeros Knight was turned into a wolf creature"
"The wolf creature, however, was not a female"
"And so the council craved your pardon, and told you not to worry about the creature"
"Splendid," said Simey, walking away from the clerk without fulfilling the protocol of receiving any more messages, or indeed acknowledging the clerk's work and person again. Simey did feel he had managed to fulfill the demands of good manners, as the swear words he wished to utter were certainly not ones for polite company and desired to be behind closed doors.
Post by Beowuuf on May 8, 2008 14:50:09 GMT -5
A little aid for the confusing plotlines of Eshnar and Sorba. I have perhaps confused the issue further by assuming that at some point there must be a time jump in the current Beowuuf plotline to allow the WW timeline to sync better with the board timeline!
Sorba and Eshnar timeline
Early MS5101 - Sorba takes on the Call of the Mind as a Wolven Assassin, and has flashes of the future. Such signs of mysticism (that not even a Wolven Mystic infact could possess) make Sorba's position in the tribe suspect.
Early MS5101 - Zipp (the original) is killed by a Helghast
Mid MS5101 - Sorba continues to have visions, this time seeing an adult Hazelae in Eshnar, being fought by the yellow robes, led by Zipp. Having heard rumours of 'yellow robes' who followed the original Zipp, and knowing Zipp dead, Sobra decides to exile himself from the wolf tribe and try to aid, or even supplant, the position Zipp would have taken. Sorba belives the visions prove the future is not set.
Mid MS5101 Sorba has further visions of a child-like Hazelae in Kaag. Assuming these visions are from the past, Sorba travels Kaag, hoping to go undercover and discover Hazelae'a history
Late MS5101 Lord Gralmis and his Vakeros companions including Tamas Rehme are captured and taken to Kaag.
Late MS5101 Sorba's enquiries regarding Hazelae bear no fruit. Sorba then has further visions, revealing the truth. Young and adult versions of Hazelae occupied the same time, and so both are i nthe future. Hazelae has not been to Kaag. Kaag is a dead end. However, Sorba knows the Elder Magi will create a power shield around Eshnar and help the yellow robes. Sorba has heard rumours Vakeros and even an Elder Magi are captured in Kaag. He decides to try and aid rescue of one or more to buy favour with the Elder Magi, to secure this future favour of the power shield.
Late MS5101 Due to a misunderstanding, Tamas Rehme captures the body of Sorba, suppressing Sorba's mind, and escapes Kaag. He managed to make it back to Dessi
Early MS5102 Tamas gets a field commision, The blood plague hits. Tamas fully takes on the name Beowuuf and requests re-assignment. Beowuuf is re-assigned to the fledgling Magnamund Knights' Council, to help maintain communications due to the effects of the plague.
Early MS5102 With the fears over the Nad Adez Konkor, Beowuuf is not surprised to be intercepted by a Durenese Knight on behalf of the Council. His requested mission is to spy on the outskirts of Sommerlund, using his unique form as cover,
Late MS5102 The child Hazelae emerges, and comes to Kaag. She enlists the help of a NAK called Blood Wolf and raises an army of undead led by 'The General'. She stops at Maaken to ressurect Barraka. She then moves on to Eshnar.
Start MS5103Beowuuf is captured in Sommerlund. Sorba's mind begins to awaken. Beowuuf travels to the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star.
Start of MS5103 Having heard that a wolf creature knew of her coming years before, Hazelae had grown curious and left orders to capture the creature if found for her. A chance meeting with a mage called Kollosco (some might call it fate) sees a representative of Hazelae from Kaag offer Kollosco power in return for securing the wolf creature.
Early MS5103 The Yellow Robes make a move towards stopping Hazelae. A power shield is erected over Eshnar. Eternal Valor and Okak Dez Naj barely make it out. A warparty of undead Giaks, trapped outside the power field, are compelled to attack the Gourgaz at V'Ka.
Early MS5103 Beowuuf undertakes a mission to the Darklands and is betrayed by Kollosco, who has manoeuvered to be the one transporting the wolf. Beowuuf escapes and continues his mission, while Kollosco finds Eshnar blocked.
Early MS5103 The Yellow robes begin a mission into Eshnar with Simey, Wise Fox and Armadalus. Adult Hazelae is with them and breaks free of the group. Beowuuf feels the joining of the young and adult Hazelae, although is not aware of it consciously.
Early MS5103 Darklord Xog is ressurected by NAK eviltb. Xog decides to conquer the power of Eshnar, knowing of the existence of Barraka and hoping to use him to overthrow Hazelae?
Early MS5103 Currently unknown. Eviltb gains access to Eshnar to stop the collapsing of the power field. Events happen which remove Hazelae, and see Simey, Wise Fox and Armadalus left with little memory in Sommerlund close to Eshnar.
Early - Mid MS5103 Beowuuf's mind starts unravelling when confronted by his old body. Sorba's visions start replaying in Beowuuf's mind. They are now visions of the past.
Early - Mid MS5103 Simey and Armadalus come to and find each other. Wise Fox is murdered by a Helghast and the Helghast seeks out the two knights. Beowuuf, finished his mission in the Darklands, comes upon the group and stalks them to a hut where he reveals himself.
Eshnar is trapped in a time-slowing effect. eviltb and Rimoire finally destroy the heart of Eshnar, and the power field collapses heralding the attack of Xog
Post by Beowuuf on Oct 11, 2008 6:33:29 GMT -5
This little story segment is a non-Beowuuf segment directly after the main end of Chapter 16 and before the epilogue. I thought of it a while ago, wrote part of it longhand on a train, but only got back to transcribing it and finishing it now. Enjoy!
The wound had been ugly. To stop himself bleeding to death, the man had been forced to stop and potentially give away his position with fire. He had fumbled one handed and cursed and almost given up. Man, man - wasn't he more than a man? Yes, that was correct. He was a knight. No, he was more than that - a demi-god in waiting, that was correct.
The delirium allowed him to cauterise the wound in flame. In his already weakened state though he almost fell unconscious. As it was, the damage was already done. The delirium worsened, and blood lost did not flow back. Time, why was time fixed by the gods?
Too late to curse the gods, curse fate, curse his country and leaders, curse Nad-Adez-Konkor and wolf creatures. His enemies had now found him. The man - no, the knight - no, the demi-god in waiting - raised his exquisitely crafted blade towards the ghostly apparitions.
"Toraar! Adept Storm-hammer!" yelled the man, shifting his blade left and right defensively in warning while awaiting the knight he called upon to attend his wounds. The man then berated the absent attendee for their weakness, for not fighting. The man yelled until he was hoarse, then cried bitter tears. The man fell to his knees, but this and the tears shocked him back somewhat. He was a knight, a death knight, and this was not the behaviour of one. He stood tall and remembered his enemies. Leaping forward, unsteadily, he struck left and right at the enemy hding in scrub and bush. The knight then realised the enemy was not unknown, they were infact all Adept Toraar. No wonder the coward had not come when called! The knight hesitated for a moment, and then began attacking in fury. His attack paused again, this time when the thought struck him that not all his enemies could be Toraar. This clarity gifted him further insight, the realisation he was striking out with a stick.
The knight slowly backed away from the trick...and stopped. He looked again closely, focusing harder and wondered how he could be holding a stick with his hand-less arm. He stood up tall, taking ragged breaths. He was Karlnos Flamespear. He was once a knight-commander, and could be again. Yet he was also in a bad way. A very bad way. There was no weapon, there were no enemy. Toraar was dead.
Karlnos backed uncertainly away from the makeshift camp, knowing real enemies could exist, and be attracted to the smoke. Karlnos departed into the pre-dawn landscape, sure he was now controlling his mind. Yet it was not long before he stumbled upon himself.
* * * *
The knight pressed one hand against the wound, recognising the severity if it. The other hand held a wicked looking death knight blade he had recovered earlier.
Killed by Giaks? It would not happen!
The knight had been faithful to a fault those years to the dead gods, to the new god, to the homeland. Each time his faith had been stretched to breaking, and each time the new promises had faded and turned to nothing. When he had finally given up, tried to serve his homeland with his death, even that was snatched away. Some meta-faith he only held small facets of kept punishing him for his impure devotion. He had thought this time, in a buried temple, he had found it. Finally, a pure conclusive sign. The man had followed it gladly, and yet in turn it had stretched his faith to breaking and betrayed him.
Killed by Giaks? Never!
A day ago the man had led those creature, powerful under his final faith, his final god. They had followed him alive and even dead. The stone - the body of his god - had burned in his hand with terrible life. And then had he sinned? Should he have killed the wolf creature? Everything had gone wrong after that, had twisted and been torn apart. From dark champion to supplanted fool, from perfect plans achieved to defeat. The man was forced to flee the temple that was to have been the place seeing him crowned a demi-god. And why? For this? To be stabbed by a Giak? Killed by a spawn?
The signs had been pure. Dark Walker would not abandon his faith. Never. The others were unworthy, tools only. They were just a lesson for Dark Walker, a demonstration of the result of weakness of purpose. This was a test, and while Dark Walker knew he was in a bad way, he would stay strong. This was a test, a final test, and he would not fail. This was a test, and once he proved his worth one last time the power would finally be his.
In the dark, Dark Walker took his name to heart. Shadows shifted in his vision, some darkness somehow separate from other darkness, and he painfully made to meet them only to realise he was twisting his wound further, that the shadow was nothing but a shadow in his bleary vision betraying him. Dark Walker realised he was in a very bad way. He had been denied glory in life, and he had been denied glory through death. Was an ignoble, small death all he was to be granted for his faith?
Dark Walker kept taking painful steps, remembering his knightly training of long ago to block out the worst of it. He was granted, in reward, pre-dawn light to banaish the figments of shadow. And that was not to be all. Soon, something invaded his nostrils. Dark Walker smelt the air, drifting towards the stench filling his sense. It was not long before he discovered the source, and met his god.
* * * *
"You betrayed me," said Dark Walker, surprised at himself. The sight of the shifting face of his god stirred some deep anger. His god was dressed like him but with a face shifting to bleary eyes. His god was trying to evade him, dismissing Dark Walker as being unworthy of appearing. However, Dark Walker knew himself worthy, more than worthy, and strained his eyes to pin down his god to humaoid form. Dark Walkers muscles were shaking from the strain of his wound - and deeper, from the deep anger that made him want to physically hold his god down and demand answers.
"You betrayed me," said the figure again, stronger, challenging. Karlnos blinked in surprise. The figure before Karlno was Karlnos as he used to be, proud and strong. Karlnos of old still wore his death knight apparal with pride. Then Karlnos felt a chill - his old self even weilded Toraar's sword proudly.
"You were weak," said Karlnos with dismissal. "You believed in things that are false. You built your life on falsehoods. You failed to realise the plain, simple truth. There - is - nothing." Karlnos felt the power and yet utter dispair of uttering that truth to his old self.
Dark Walker took a step back at the madness of the statement. His god taunted him. Dark Walker took a step forward. "And yet here you stand, even now." Dark Walker feared the vision would explode to nothing in final mockery, that this truely was a delirious vision. However, his god instead solidified a step further. Burning eyes were visible, a mocking mouth and furrowed brow were visible aslo. The face was almost familiar. Had Dark Walker's god turned into his grandfather to mock him further?
Meanwhile, Karlnos tried to interpret the meaning of his old self. 'Yet here you stand?' Karlnos almost laughed as a meaning became clear. "You think I needed you?" asked Karlnos of his old self, of his old ways and beliefs.
The phrase was such an odd phrase, but twisted in the exploding synapses of Dark Walker's brain. His god had mocked him, tried to twist Dark Walker's brain. However in twisting Dark Walker's mind so far, and by defending himself so oddly, Dark Walker's god had revealed his own weakness. Dark Walker's god had revealed a truth Dark Walker had never realised before.
"Yes," said Dark Walker, finding such a revelation matter of fact, it's conclusion so obvious. "You have always needed me - and I have never needed you." His god tried to laugh in his face, but Dark Walker carried on, energised. "Without me, my belief throughout my life leading me to you, you would have stayed buried in that temple. I was the one who weilded the power of the Nad-Adez-Konkor. You could not even pick it up!"
"I was the one who picked up that stone," said Karlnos to his old self. The manifestation of Karlnos's old, stupid, pathetic, weak thinking was daring to mock him. Mock him?. However, the words stung Karlnos - old Karlnos still possessed his strong right hand. Old Karlnos still held the blade of Toraar firm too. Both things struck deep wounds that made Karlnos shake.
"You needed me to weild the stone," said Dark Walker. Dark Walker stood tall. Unusual thoughts span faster in his head. "Go back to your temple," mocked Dark Walker. "You are nothing without me, and you betrayed me."
Karlnos blinked and shifted unsteadily. Karlnos could both recognise and not recognise he was delirious. The figure before him was real to Karlnos, and yet some part of Karlnos recognised - as in a dream - the situation was not truely real. However, some aspect had a consensus to both mind sets. Karlnos was fighting with himself for something, something intangible. No, more importantly, Karlnos was fighting some aspect of himself as he still was. Some old feelings of loyalty, some baggage of guilt. Perhaps Karlnos was fighting the fear or true freedom yet true dispair that was admitting the absense of any true purpose to his life. Karlnos focused as much as he could on the man he had been, on the figure infront of him. The words condensed from his brain to his mouth before he realised the enormity of them, before he realised the power of them to end this.
"Drop the sword," said Karlnos.
Dark Walker blinked. Staggered back. He recognised he could be delirious, that this may or may not be his god before him. Dark Walker had found the courage to say blasphemous things - perhaps comforted by some thought that this was not real, or this was a test before reward. However, the tone of voice was strange. His god was demanding, with no allowance for disobedience, for Dark Walker to do something. Somethign strange and small, but it was a demand nevertheless. And it was a test to what Dark Walker had just said. If this were delirium, Dark Walker's mind was testing his new belief. If this was his god, then his god was demanding something and may well punish Dark Walker with ignoble death if he refused.
"No." Dark Walker was surprised the words were uttered by his own mouth.
"Drop - the - sword." There was finality there. A building tide to wash away the old and tear away the final bonds.
"No," said Dark Walker. A solid rock of new belief.
Karlnos broke first to move, but Dark Walker responded in kind with barely a hesitation. The two knights screamed incoherent rage, old training in martial ways abandoned for simply tearing into each other with a bare hand each. They fell to their knees at the efforts, and both looked into insane eyes and realised they looked at their own death if they lost. A bloody blade appeared between them, the focus for fear and anger and determination. Dark Walker did not even remember he held the blade, and perhaps he did not now in the struggle. Both men forgot their screams, and remembered their training, and both reached for the black sword. It was a symbol of their old life and old means of taking life. They reached for it and fought for it one last time.
One man, one knight, finally stuggled backwards with the sword. For one final time he honoured his old life and stabbed an enemy upon the black steel of the Darklands. The other man, the other knight, looked in surprise. Suddenly the dying man saw the other man in reality as pain took the delerium.
One knight stood shakily up again on unsteady legs and took another step backwards, victorious. Their enemy fell sideways, impaled, and real blood flowed on to the ground swiftly. The man, realising he was no demi-god, relaising he was no longer a knight, slowly let his breathing calm. The man could not bring himself to look at the face of his fallen enemy. Yet that did not temper the derision in his voice.
"Keep the blade - I do not need it, nor you, any longer."
The man knew he was in a bad way physically. However, spiritually, he was whole. No longer torn by his past, he knew he had the focused strength of will to survive long enough to heal his mind, heal his body.
And then...and then the world would know fear.