A Crown of Bones

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Atlas Child, Oct 4, 2015.

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  1. The Western Reach

    A line of soldiers clad in darkened leather waded through the murky water. Encircled by the Gorgon wilderness they kept their eyes fixed to the depths of the swamps, scanning for what might emerge. These once Gorgon lands were now only theirs in claim. This was the Western Reach, home to bestial primitives who resisted the taming touch of civilization. Fiercely so, for not all the armies in Gorgon could pull this land to heel. When Malfear's savage army had marched on the south they had come in a flood of fire and blood. The lands they conquered were not quick to be relinquished and they slowly continued their push into civilized land, even years after the death of their great idol. Yet as contested as these lands were there was a place even the horde dare not venture: King's Pass.

    A bridge of dry land surrounded by unforgiving swamps, it stretched from the border to nearly the Gorgon heartland. It had been the path Garren Blackwater had took when he sought to reclaim his throne from the usurper, and it was in the Western Reach where the fate of the Gorgon crown was decided. It was where the armies of these two claimants clashed and waged brutal war. At dawn the battle began and by dusk the usurper, Arminius Briar, had the head of the Blackwater king displayed on a pike. Those who had fought for the fallen king and survived were taken prisoner. Then over the following week those five thousand men taken captive were hung as traitors throughout the nearby swampland, their bodies stripped and left to rot. The land had grown twisted and evil since then, and even the barbarians who had no fear of death dare not approach, especially since now death had no master and served only itself. Yet now a small group of soldiers and mercenaries were preparing to brave that horrible land.

    They were loyal soldiers and mercenaries paid by house Whiteoak, one of the great Gorgon noble houses. Accompanying them were a mage and her guardian from the Ivory Tower. The mage and guardian both were daring to brave unhallowed land in pursuit of a pair of comrades, or possibly deserters, who had abandoned their post and where seen heading to King's Pass. The men employed by lord Whiteoak were offered as guide and assistance for what may come, but every sellsword and soldier there knew the true reasoning behind lord Whiteoaks overwhelming support of this mad excursion: Briar soldiers were seen to have been escorting the missing mage and guardian. Whatever reason house Briar had taken interest to affairs of the Ivory Tower, Whiteoak would know. Assisting the tower for the sake of common good was not something the Briars would take an interest in. Unless of course there were some reward in it.

    The soldier leading the group slowed his pace and raised his hand to point to a lonesome, decrpyt statue now barley in range of sight to the approaching party. "Lady Fortune," he named the statue. "Our last way marker. We'll set camp there for the night and be in King's pass by midday tomorrow." As the group drew closer they would see the moss covered sculpture molded after woman drabbed in cloth, smiling with her hands cupped before her. Surrounding her was a wide circle of dry land, and the signs of fire-pits long in disuse. The party, most of which exhausted from the strenuous travel, prepared to set camp. Yet there was a feeling no one would find respite in the face of this thick, sultry air.
    #1 Atlas Child, Oct 4, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2015
  2. A curious joke drifted through the mind of the mage. There is enough dirt in this swampy water to be of use to a Geose, she thought, and a smile lit her lips if only for a moment or two. Mage humor wasn't usually appreciated, except perhaps by a guardian, but Maia did not share. Traveling with a guardian, along with a troupe of mercenaries and soldiers, did not allow a woman much privacy, and she treasured her thoughts. The smile passing, she reflected on the circumstances that brought her to this point; that being, wearing pants. It had been long since she was required to wear pants, or really anything closely covering her legs besides her long, blue, mage robes. She had been obstinate to the idea at first, but was carefully reminded of leeches and other unsavory beings that lurked in the murky water. Maia was eventually coerced into her current attire, knee-high leather boots, a pair of thin cotton pants, and a shirt, her hair tied up in a certainly unfashionable manner in an effort to stay cool that didn't quite work in the current humidity. The mage did not like how she had been dressed, and thought she looked much like a man and not at all like the Ivory Tower mage she had worked for years becoming. It was, however, her duty to retrieve the careless mage and guardian duo that had left their posts.

    Maia did not want to become embroiled in this conflict; her goal was to collect the pair and leave with her own guardian, Nyirr. Even after traveling, the time they had spent together felt trivial in comparison to their entire lives spent doing anything but this. It was forbidden to anyone in the Ivory Tower to have any sort of political affiliation, and as a result, the mage kept her distance from the soldiers. She didn't want to know their names or their stories, she simply wanted to survive and bring back the wayward mage. Her gaze flickered over the unknown comrades. Growing attached to them would almost certainly forfeit her status in one way or another, and despite her desire to care about them, it was in her best interest to stay ignorant.

    The nagging in the back of her head was tugging her consciousness in the opposite direction; the nearest source of fresh water was directly behind them. Maia could only hope that this changed, because drinking swamp water was certain to be full of poisons and she was not competent in Puras enough to help. The closest thing to any of Restos that she possessed was an extended knowledge of flora, which allowed her to take on the role as a sort of healer, despite her magical prowess lying in Hydras. It was also her particular interest in both mental and physical fortitude that allowed her to keep pace with the soldiers. She continued to trudge along, but couldn't help but remark at the soldier's proclamation.

    "Whose fortune does she represent?" she had said casually, as she laid her backpack on the ground and leaned against the statue in question. "Ours', or some other entity's?"
  3. Western ReachIt was the start of fresh, new assignment for both himself and the Mage he had the task to protect. Sent to Gorgon, they hoped of finding a mage and their guardian who have been seen going towards the King’s Pass. For Nyirr, this was simply another task he was ask to complete in the name of the Ivory Tower, but the stakes that have been presented were much higher than what Nyirr could simply fathom. They were going into lands that were deemed dangerous and not travelled for a long, long time, simply because of the stories the trails held. Legends or nor, Nyirr could not refuse orders given from his superiors, as he was bound to the Magi for the rest of his life.

    The Guardian had stayed near whom he was tasked to protect, especially with the circumstances that were presented before him. This chase was not done alone, but with the company of guards and mercenaries of a Noble family. Trust simple couldn’t be put into them. In the end, sellswords were beings Nyirr had no faith in. They did whatever they did for the sake of coin, and the guards would do anything the Lord would. It could also be said the same for him and the mage, following the strict orders of the Tower and nothing else. Yet, it felt like, at least, the Ivory Tower was simply trying to do their job as protectors of magic… He could not say the same for the intentions of Sir Whiteoak.

    The plated man’ stomps into the dirt had stopped with the call for rest. This would seem it would be their stop until the next morning… And that they stopped right by the statue of a woman in drab clothes. This, Nyirr recognized only after the man had named her ‘Lady Fortune’. It has been long since he’s heard the name. The question posed from the mage didn’t exactly regard him to answer, so he walked over to stand in front of the statue in silence, simply recollecting the sayings of this woman.
  4. Justinia found herself in the company of a very large group of soldiers. Mercenaries, mages of the Tower, among other types. While she did not mind having such force to combat the predicaments this land normally established, she found having so large a group made assassinations....difficult. When the man in plated armor stopped and spoke to the group, Justinia lightly snickered as she paused to look around at the group more carefully. These outsiders all had to wear thick clothing and large pants and all other manner of protection from the natural defenses of the swamp. Justinia, however, knew her way around the swamp much better, and was more than well adapted to life in it. Her clothes were much less heavy and cumbersome, with her foot clothing not much more than what would be described as a foot wrap.

    So long as this group was smart enough to avoid pools of Hydra Larvae, creatures somewhat like oversized leeches which burrow into the skin, she was well aware that the mud itself was not likely to hurt her. Some soldiers gave her glances, likely wondering "What is wrong with that woman?" but to her the dynamic was quite the same. Though to Justinia, it was more comical than anything.

    As the man gave his speech about the statue of Lady Fortune, the mage accompanying them asked who's fortune she represented.
    She decided to chime in.
    "At the very least, let us hope it is ours."
  5. "Depends what ya give her," a soldier called from nearby. A short, stocky man at arms joined the trio. "Conventina's picky about things."

    The group would recognize the name. Conventina was the Gorgon goddess of adventure and destiny with the begging woman as her most common idol. Devout Gorgonites of times past had often built shrines to the goddess alongside old roads, where they could pray for her favor and safe travels. Alas she was a goddess of the old pantheon and her shrines had long since been replaced by the idols of the twins. Her shrines had been swallowed by the land and most of what remained was now only scattered rubble. The stout soldier who had joined the conversation held up a coin with a half-hearted grin and laid it in the hands of the lady. A few of the more superstitious still believed in the power of gods long past.

    Still, there was an undeniable feeling of reprieve near the presence of this decrepit statue. Their venture into the Western Reach was not only marked by difficult travels, but also by an increasing mental strain. This close to King's Pass thinking had been made more difficult with each successive day, although it had not yet affected the group in any larger capacity. Evil lands could drive inhabitants insane and already the travelers could feel its influence upon their ability to think clearly. However, Justinia appeared immune to these maddening effects. though there was nothing to tell what had protected her from it's influence. Perhaps her life alone in the swamp had built her some kind of tolerance. For the guardian, he was safeguarded against the evil magics for the price of his soul. For that same reason he was incapable of feeling the lifting presence which had now surrounded the group. Maia could feel this more so than the others. Her attunment to mystic forces would prickle at her senses and she could feel a power in this land she had seldom, if ever, felt before. Intuition assured her that tonight they would sleep safely.

    "I'd advise you the same," said the soldier who had given tribute to the statue. "New gods or old, no harm in praying for a bit of luck. We'll need it. Even you guardian," he gestured to Nyirr. He pulled water-skin from around his waist and continued, "Death and evil rule that land. It's even got the chaplain spooked."

    Behind him the other men of the party were already at work setting up camp. All faces were solemn with the knowledge of what tomorrow may hold in store. The captain who had been leading the group stood alongside his second at the far edge of the camp ground. The two appeared in a heated discussion. The aforementioned chaplain was at work starting a fire, alongside another soldier who had been acting cook for the journey. Many others however were working silently, eager to get the rest that they needed.
    #5 Atlas Child, Oct 12, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2015
  6. “Tch…” A bit disappointing, enough to click his tongue at, but the fact that he had even managed to follow the strangers’ tracks this far was surprising. Considerable effort and skill had been put to use to cover their tracks and it was likely a day, if not more, had already passed. With a glance at his surroundings Kylar decided to hurry back to rejoin the group. Normally he might have tried to bring back some game to bolster his next meal and win some points with the others, but this land felt wrong to him and he doubt there would be any easy prey to find in this unforgiving environment.

    He made his way swiftly back towards the campsite, wits about him until he stepped back into the light of the recently started fire. Packs had been set down, tents were in the midst of being pitched, and everyone seemed to have arrived safely. While he would have loved to take a seat and rest for a moment, he figured the captain would want his report first. He cleared his throat to get the two men’s attention and interrupt their discussion. The man didn’t look too pleased so he endeavored to make his report as brief as possible. “At least five. Tracks likely at least a day old”—gesturing in their direction of travel as he said that—“nothing else notable.”

    He left the two to consider the information he had just passed on and wandered over towards the fire, taking a seat as the cook began to prepare the next meal. The warmth was welcome and did well to drive out the chill that had grasped his body as he followed the old tracks by himself.
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