FateGuard: Darker Nights

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Asmodeus, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. "When are they coming back?"

    "When the Vigil is over."

    "I want to go to the Vigil!" Finn yawned as his grandmother tucked him into bed.

    "It's not for young ones, dear. I told you this."

    Beside them, Helga bundled up the other pillows and snuggled against them. "Father says all children go on their tenth winter." She sneered at her brother, "You'll have to wait four more years!"

    The grandmother's chuckle filled the bedroom, as soft as the firelight. "Everyone goes to the Vigil in time, my dears. We all must honour those who lived and died before us."

    "Why?" Finn wriggled under the blankets.

    "Because we wouldn't be here if not for them."

    "But why aren't you at the Vigil, Grandma?" Helga was ever the sharper-minded of the two children. She had asked the question earlier that night, and as before it brought a flicker of sadness, like the shadows, across the old woman's face.

    "Because, Helga... I think of the FateGuard every day. I cannot forget them."

    "Tell us more about them, Grandma!"

    "Well... I told you already about those six fateful nights, when the FateGuard were undone by scheming men both within and outside their ranks. Even heroes are not free from the greed and folly that surround them. When Father Gregory, a great man of the Church, was murdered by one of the FateGuard, the King ordered the Night Watch be disbanded. And in their place they put the Legionnaires."

    Finn pulled the blankets over his head. "I don't like the Legion Hares!"

    "Many of them were just like you, Finn - young boys who the Church had adopted. They were given armour made from the bones and hides of the Farborn Beasts. It made them strong, oh yes, but they had no will of their own."

    "Did they keep the city safe?" Helga asked, with her head on the pillow as she watched her grandmother open the old storybook.

    "Yes, dear. For a while. But some of the old FateGuard never trusted them. Some still believed that Gothenheim would be best protected by men and not monsters. Because, as I told you, dears, the FateGuard had many faults, many weaknesses and heartaches. But they were, each and every one of them, so very human."

    "But they weren't the FateGuard anymore..." Helga pulled the blankets around her as her eyelids drooped.

    The grandmother turned the page. "But even in those dark nights, Helga, they were still our greatest protectors."
     
  2. [​IMG]

    Episode Theme (open)


    Pale smoke crept from the chimney to the evening sky, while below the forge glowed crimson. He selected a rounding hammer and set the spade point upon the swaging block. What force he had used on the shoulder was now abated as finer strokes primed the spade point for the punch-bolt. He worked another minute, then touched a callused finger to the metal. It was too cool. He set it back in the fire and took up tongs to turn the axe head.

    He stopped. The smoke-red eyes of Corben Reimar, late Marshall of the FateGuard, peered beyond the embers and through the smoke, past the eaves of his courtyard to where the sun was sinking. It was the third night since the Watch had disbanded. The third night in fourteen years that he had not stood ready with a sword to guard the Wall from whatever may come.

    He had almost forgotten the beauty of a Gothenheim night. The sun was setting past the looming headland of White Rock, where the Wizards turned the tide a hundred years before. And southwards the gulls were flocking inside the walls and finding their particular spots on the masts and ropes of the old Pilgrim Ships that formed the dock ward. To his left, above the roofline, the three spires of authority remained sacrosanct: the great castle of King Ganthor, the dome of the Pilgrim Cathedral, and the surreal tower of the Eldritch Guild. And they themselves were overshadowed by the Darraskun Mountains where night fogs brewed like dragon's breath.

    In every street the easterly windows were boarded over and painted with warding charms. And on the walls that bounded Gothenheim the sunset caught in silhouette the armoured phantoms now defending the city. The Legionnaires moved in slow and solitary patrols, more like carrion birds awaiting the carcass.

    Corben blinked and pulled the axe head from the coals. Hammering, tapering and stretching the hot metal, he worked in rhythmic strokes as the bellows steamed. And in his mind he saw analogies - similitude that haunted him.

    What had the FateGuard been but weapons in a forge, tempered for better or worse? Some had stayed too long upon the coals and melted altogether. Others had endured too little to harden. And he, their Marshall, though he had hammered and shaped them to his utmost, had in this only snapped more blades than fashioned.

    Corben plunged the axe head into a water bucket and the hiss of steam was catharsis, expelling his regrets. With a wipe of his brow he removed his apron and stood in the open courtyard. He was waiting... waiting to see who would come. Messages had been sent that morning, by raven and courier, by strangers and allies, to every corner of the city. A summons for the FateGuard, for those who still remained, who had not retired or vanished or found other masters.

    The instructions were simple: to arrive at Corben's house by nightfall... and to tell no one of the purpose...

    For this very night there would be heresy. The FateGuard would reform... and they would their duty... with or without the blessing of the people.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. 4

    He couldn't breath, couldn't gasp. His mouth was constricted, covered by a wet soppy rag. He couldn't see - shapes, shadows, specters flew in and out of his vision, vaguely human-like, their mouths open and silently screaming. He panicked, felt his arm move. His hands, grasping the giant steel .. cleaver, pushed it into the skull of some vermin at the gate, separating it in two pieces. Beside him, two dark figures stood impassively at either side of the giant wooden doors, their hands resting on top of massive kite shields that they had driven into the earth. Their outlines were obfuscated, sharp, angular tendrils bouncing off their surface.

    1

    Three nights past he had left their ranks and was absorbed into the wall of clergymen that blocked their path. They crushed his body, preventing him from even turning his head to gaze back one last time. They herded him inside the church, into the chambers he was familiar with. The same attendants fitted the tough skin over his body. Did he see black ooze from it? He couldn't tell if it was real or not, but the tattoos across his body did not hiss in response. Darkness flooded his vision again. His breathing echoed in the vastness of his helm, and when he flexed his fingers their motion was limited by a hairy stiffness.

    3

    His stomping footsteps echoed even in the open night sky as he moved with two other Legionnaires behind him. The rest of them moved around the town, solitary giants who ensured the safety of all - as long as they obeyed the reasonably set curfew. They moved with power, purpose, but also without grace; their carapace was sewn with gut, without the seamless incantations, and they carried plain metal shields and swords, big, crude hunks of iron that were not forged by the best the town had to offer.

    2

    You are the clergymen who will purify this time once again, he had said. You will make this blackened town white again, and the children will run in the streets, and all will be joyful and elated - blessed be those under God. His old weapons, his cleaver made from dragon bone, his shield fashioned from the ribcage of an ogre, were stored in a sarcophagus deep in the church. In its place was a tall, spiked kite shield and a giant, sharpened piece of steel. Like all his comrades neatly lined to his left and right, he could heft their considerable bulk with little difficulty, for the unholy essence bound in his carapaced gifted him the strength to move like the monsters the skin once belonged to. The Bishop knew - but did not know all - that this was a calculated risk. As long as he was here, a half step in front of the ranks of Legionnaires behind him, the rest were under control.

    5

    The noise, the blathering in his ears slowly separated into recognizable sounds. His vision resolved ... but everything came crashing down again. He gasped, black water flooding his lungs. He slowly lost his mind -- all while standing stiffly in front of the gates. But in the middle of drowning, he found calm, and looked heavenward. The north star's light, shining through the ichor, the muted light at the center of all blinding darkness. And he finally burst from the ocean, gasping, the film receding from his eyes. The glow in his skull helm faded and he collapsed to one knee, heaving.

    He sneaked a glance upwards. The other two had not moved. Rising, before he could say, utter, think about what to do next, they as one wrenched their shields from the ground and moved inside. Had he commanded them? Maybe ...

    He ... Tahan, looked into the city. A solitary plume of smoke rose from the west quarter, lit by red from the forge's heart, a dragon's breath.

    Corben.
     
  4. With the street before him bathed in the sunset's dwindling light Derek Vermillion looked around the rapidly emptying streets as people began moving to the false safety they thought their homes provided. As he strode down the street he suppressed feelings of contempt that until several hours ago threatened to consume him. He had trained for years to be able to protect them and what did he have to show for it? On the mannequin in his room the Regalia of Ancient Kings showed no sign of mending itself as it had before in the past and he couldn't bring Alondite's power to bear. All he had worked for gone in an instant because the people of Gothenheim couldn't understand anything about what happened every night...them and that son of a bitch in the church.

    Derek had always disliked him but the past few days had opened his eyes to the simple truth that the church would destroy Gothenheim before it would save it. The bishop would never let the FateGuard return, convinced his approach being superior. He was trying to fight evil with evil and it was because of that he would have to go. Be it publicly outing him in some way or by running a sword through his heart Derek cared not. And Tahan...that very name brough Derek's blood to a furious boil. His mind was already made up that the next time they met on the field of battle the boy was to die. No more chances, no more talks, no more legionnaire nonsense. Tahan had been proof enough to him that they were nothing but mindless church drones and would do nothing but get in the way.

    But for the time being all of that would have to be put aside. Derek approached the gate to Corben's forge and and strode in. Under the late lieutenant's cloak was a sword. This wouldn't be the first time he had visited since Ganthor was forced to disband the FateGuard under public pressure, but tonight was different. Tonight he had been called there and he knew what was about to happen. It was the very thing he had been telling himself the past few days. Ever since the constables had brought him a new set of armor Derek knew what had occurred before would not be the end of the FateGuard. He continued to tell himself that they would rise again, and he was certain this is why Corben had called them. Except now they didn't have to worry about keeping the mages and the church pleased. In a way it would be better not having to answer to them so long as they kept themselves discreet. But at the same time he wanted nothing more than to regain the approval of Gothenheim. To make them see how wrong they were. But now was not the time for that. Derek quietly approached the forge Corben was working at as he lowered his hood.

    "It's about damn time we're having this meeting. It's only a matter of time before Wallstein's mindless drones either go berserk or get themselves killed," Derek looked around the courtyard, "Am I the first one here?"
     
  5. Lyon awoke in his quarters, gasping for air. Sweat dripped down his brow before he looked about the room, lit with the light of the sun that was being magnified through the windows. His hand moved to his forehead to wipe his brow, and he than gave a deep sigh. It had been a few days since the Fateguard had been disbanded, and even though Lyon was not part of it for as long as the others had been, he was still getting used to the feeling of not having to guard the city everyday. He sat there for a moment, speculating on what the clergy and the King had been thinking by disbanding the Fateguard.

    "What fools..." He said.

    Those soulless Legionnaires were not going to guard the city better than they had been. The others may feel defeated, but he knew that he had to keep up hope. One day the Fateguard will be accepted back into daily life, and the residents of the town will start to appreciate them once again. Lyon turned to the side of his bed before getting down and slipping on his leather boots. He had slept in his pants before, so he need not search for another pair. A brown cloak hung upon a hook that came through the wall of the room, and he grabbed it off, placing it upon his body. Even though the Fateguard had been disbanded, there were still those who harbored negativity towards the old members, so it would be best if he kept himself out of major attention. He pulled the hood of the cloak over his head and opened the door to his room before descending down the stairs.

    There his master sat, reading one of the books of his collection. Lyon waved at him goodbye, simply saying that he would go out for a walk and be back later. A slow nod came from his mentor before he headed out of the door. He took in a deep breath of the fresh air. He walked down the streets, looking about the town before he looked to the sky. At that same instant, he noticed a dark bird coming for him, with a note attached to it's leg. Why did this creature come for him? He stuck out his arm for the raven to land on, before taking the note. As the bird flew away, he read the piece of parchment.

    "..."

    His eyes quickly darted around, seeing if anyone in the streets was paying close attention to the bird that just landed on him, but luckily, no one was paying any attention. Lyon tore up the note into little shreds before throwing the pieces to the ground, and watched them float away with the wind. He quickly walked to Corben's house and saw smoke coming from the back, probably from the forge. He pushed the gate open and proceeded to the back before seeing Corben and Derek. He waved at the two before pulling back his hood.

    "I can not believing we are going through with this..."
     
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  6. His heart beat with the methodical thump of axeblade biting into wood. Cloaked and among the woodsmen, responsible to keep the people of Gothenheim warm, Malwin searched for his daughter among the gnarled trees and underbrush. Two nights of searching and still his daughter was no closer to him than she had been for the past several years. Purged of Tamoldes, he had scarcely time to hold his daughter close or mourn the passing of his wife before the Church dragged him to their dungeons.

    Before he was set free by the wizard.

    Saved...for some darker purpose.

    CRACK!

    The tree twisted and fell, crashing to the forest floor. But Malwin's axe kept swinging, burying into the stump. He saw Tamoldes, Tahan's possessed armor, the undead he had set on the Fateguard, the desperate eyes of his wife.

    THWACK

    THWACK

    THWACK


    As the setting sun spit red warnings into the horizon, the last of the woodsmen left the forest. Malwin had spoken to his comrades little, but then, many who went out beyond the walls were private creatures seeking solace among the light-lit tree trunks. His return to Corben's house through the cobblestone streets were spent in quiet reflection. Since his return from down there, from the years held as a victim of a monster's control, he had found so much time to think and consider the events.

    Corben had revealed his brother, Leonardo, had been hanged by the Church. It was no secret they still searched for him. The former leader of the Fateguard had been a shadow of himself in evenings of the last two days, his spirit out on the streets doing best what he knew how while his body remained imprisoned at home. They had spoken to each other, at various lengths, regarding the Fateguard that had been, what Malwin remembered, and what was coming.

    Perhaps it was because they had already lost too many, all their footsteps shadowed in the dried blood of former friends. Malwin still lived because Corben did not just believe in redemption, but had to. Without redemption there was no end to the darkness, both within the day and in the clutches of night.

    Arriving at the home, Malwin tarried briefly in the entrance, his eyes on the door but his ears everywhere around him. The Bishop was perhaps not convinced the Fateguard would quietly die like some old dog. It would not be the first time citizens would shadow the doors of Corben, waiting too long in the lengthening shadows to see if the former Marshall would step out to face the Evil beyond the Walls. Malwin could not afford to be seen, not when it would prompt the Church to take military action against harboring a criminal.

    He heard nothing, and stepped beyond the threshold into the courtyard beyond.

    Lyon's tone was familiar, and Derek's frame was introduction enough. Wisely, the former traitor chose to keep his hood over the familiar blonde locks of his family. In his arms he carried a pile of wood, spoils from his trip beyond the wall, which he deposited quietly beside the bellows.

    He shared a look with Corben, the only communication that was necessary between a questioning stare and a frown to explain he was, once again, unsuccessful in the search for his daughter beyond the forest.

    Offering only short nods to the other two, Malwin strode past the Courtyard and into the house, where he could finally remove his cloak and return to the library. He only visited long enough to fetch the quill, ink, and half written book drying on the desk before arriving at the dining hall where he expected Corben to lead the rest. Taking a seat he continued where he had left off, the pages filling with depictions of monsters and descriptions, things that Tamoldes had unwittingly shown him in his service...their weaknesses

    And more importantly, at least to him, the sins they represented.
     
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  7. Kaede hummed under her breathe as she moved about the main room of the herbal shop. She wasn't normally the one to clean up but she found it hard to keep still, so she told her cousin to go home to her family and she would remain behind. Her cousin Marielle nodded. Kaede was grateful she had not asked why she wanted to clean up. Perhaps she thought Kaede did not feel like she was doing enough in the shop. She had only begun to work here after...what happened.

    As she placed a vial onto a shelf, she looked out the window towards the wall. She struggled to keep a frown off her face. Getting upset wouldn't change anything. It wouldn't change that she had been in the FateGuard only a forenight before everything had happened. Before they were replaced with puppets in her mind. Kaede knew she shouldn't be so angered either. She had only just joined recently. Those who had protected Gotheheim for much longer than her. How their hearts must ache and their anger be large.

    How could this have happened? They were better than the Legionnaires. They protect Gotheheim better but she knew nothing she could say would change what had happened. Her blood boiled beneath her skin. At least she was not alone in her rage. Maybe justice could be down against this. She had to hope so.

    Kaede closed her eyes for a moment, remembering her joy at joining the FateGuard. Then she placed the final vial down and moved towards the door. She closed the shop and headed down the street. She moved quietly and without purpose and finally she arrived at the forge. She saw she was not the first to arrive here and nodded at the others.

    "How many more will come?"
     
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  8. When was it that her fear overtook Alyss? Was it in the time that they were fleeing? Was it merely bubbling under the surface while she had looked on as Leonardo's body swayed gently? When had everything fractured with perfect clarity?

    Mere moments turned into eternities for the next few days. She had quickly moved everything she had needed to, to Derek's home. She had created a new persona... and even though it felt like a lie- it was survival for a person like her.

    A thing like her.

    In her rush, Ulrich had shoved a well-worn tome into her hands, and his eyes shone sadness that she didn't yet understand. No- that realization would come much later. Far too late to go back. And in her hours after her moving, unpacking and endless repetitive movements that allowed for her mind to wander- she realized what the importance was of his gift.

    This was the book, this was what he had talked of...

    Her frosted fingers glided over the pages, careful not to tear or bend any unnecessarily, and in the silence she found the answers she had searched for- the reality laid out in the pages before her. The solution had never been clearer and without hesitation or second-thought, she procured the materials needed and went through the process. Warmth... Warmth- she felt it so easily now. She felt the heat of her own body. Sure, she could will the ice to cover her here and there- but now it was under control.

    Finally, she was human. Or was she? She was? No... No, yes, she was.

    Her mind was racing, but at that point, it was too late to take back what she had done, the process was permanent from it sounded like, and seems like she was stuck with whatever side effects that might pop up.

    Her hair, still shone pale white and in her quest to hide herself from the world, she dyed it dark black every day... and she painted her skin to make it warmer.

    Not like it would hide the look in her eyes. Nothing could hide the fear at first- nothing could take away the haunted look in her eyes, the horrifying reality that now the citizens of this fair place could actually let their own fear overcome them and drive them to...

    No.... They couldn't, they didn't have the strength, she had abilities that would stop them... but only if she used them... and would she? No.... No, she could. No-no, that was wrong, she wouldn't, would she? Surely she'd go down. Let the people feel safe again- and she surely was dangerous- but she wouldn't hurt them.

    But they had never scared her so much...

    She remembered the fear clawing at her dreams the first night after she came back to Derek's house- discordant screams, and darkness, pain, and a cold that froze her stiff, but the worst was the voice... that one little voice in the dream.... whispering....

    But at the very least, she managed to stifle the fear after that night. She tried her best to continue on like she always had, only now, she was someone else- a different name, different look... and still she did what what she could to study.

    In a box among her things rested the broken pieces of what had once been her most treasured possession. Owl's Wing was a tattered mess of what it once was. Its brilliance was forgotten- but still honored. She sought to create something herself- forge a weapon for herself that she could trust. Everything broke so easily though, it was as though her skills were almost self-destructive of the products, but she at least had trained herself to be able to hold her own with secondary weaponry like daggers. It had only been a few days, but in those hours, she had done what sh could do to procure the materials for a bow, and attempted again and again to make a good weapon.... it was hard work and she was getting close and closer, but never close enough....

    ********

    She had followed Derek, but had kept distance between them, still in her disguise, her alias. As she grew closer, she wiped the paint from her face with a cloth and stripped her regular clothes away- her regular lightweight armor and leathers shined, her hair hadn't been dyed for the day yet, not much had to be done for it save for rolling the hood around her head, tucking her hair inside- leaving only her nose and eyes visible. As she neared closer, she took a moment, took a breath and confronted the thoughts racing in her head- the endless script and conversation going on and on and on.

    Just accepting that she was a little apprehensive of all of this was easier said than done. But she couldn't just give up, she had to keep going- she was scared to just hide away from the world and just live without the scorn and the looks, but this was her family... these people had become close to her and to just let go of that went beyond betrayal, it would be her ignoring the pride and joy she had built in this group.

    She entered in, seeing Derek and breathed a sigh of relief to see the others as well. She nodded to Corben, lowering the bottom part of her hood under her chin so her mouth could be seen. A few others were here as well, and hopefully, even more would show up as well. This was as she had hoped so far.

    And then there was Malwin, she worried a bit on the thought of seeing him again

    Surely after all this, it was the end of anything they had... but... emotions don't listen to reason. She still had feelings for him, though- in her head she had the impression that continuing on with anything of this nature would only hurt him.... or her... or both. What a mess.

    His family...

    No, mustn't think of that. He wouldn't want pity... And you're a fool to even thinking you know how to feel it.

    Don't focus on that... just realize that everyone seems ok.

    Depends on the definition of "ok", though.

    "I'm glad to see you all alive and well." She spoke with a small smile.
     
    #8 Hydronine, Nov 10, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  9. Alwyn was running late.

    He seemed to always be late, whether it was to his appointed watch along the wall before the dark legionnaires took it from him or in his day job of rebuilding that which had been ruined in the night. When the FateGuard had been disbanded Alwyn had taken it particularly hard, nothing his brother tried would cheer him up. While the others slept or drank he stayed up until early morning, sullenly staring out the window of their upstairs room, lost in thought. Of course, this meant that in the past three nights he was still late for work but...

    For a split second Alwyn glanced past the west wall at the setting sun and inwardly groaned. The setting sun was already long ahead of him and the night's chill licking at his exposed face. His hands were tightly clenched to an oblong bundle he kept close to his chest as he navigated the dark streets and dodged past the few remaining citizens. Within the folds of the tightly wrapped cloth were a bow and a worn quiver, the only things that he had managed to keep after their chapter house had been closed by the church. Under his thick blue cloak he had a short steel sword, whether or not he could use it properly was another matter.

    Without a weapon he was all but useless. Even with a sword or dagger his inabilities nearly resulted in him being mustered out of the FateGuard during training. Fear the trainers had said, fear and a lack of confidence. Only his surprising marksmanship with a bow and crossbow and perhaps luck had saved him.

    With an extra burst of speed he ran around an empty street corner and then saw them, two legionaries with their shields at the ready, marching at a slow but steady pace forward. A wave of terror involuntarily shot up Alwyn’s spine. Spotting an alleyway to his right he changed course in order to slip into it and bypass the new protectors of Gothenheim. Instead his foot caught the paved stones of the street and his ankle twisted and buckled. With a muffled cry of surprise and pain he slammed against the street. Rapidly he pulled himself to his knees, and crawled to the side of the street, pressing his back against the wall of a house. With a frantic clawing motion he pulled his cloak across his body and face as if it would shield him against their gaze.

    For their part, the legionaries did nothing more than march past on their patrol, regarding him with no more attention than they would any other trash pile along the street. After a few minutes of silence he pulled back the folds of the cloak and peered out. He was alone again on the street, the brief spark of terror now replaced by a different feeling.

    Painfully he pulled himself back together and upright, collecting his bundle from where it had landed and proceeded onwards at a slower pace, tugging his hood low over his eyes with a free hand. Quietly as he could manage he slipped the latch on the gate to Corben's home and approached the warm glow of the forge where a few others had long since already gathered, taking a position at the far back of the group, the bundle held awkwardly against his chest.
     
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  10. As the light shined through the window most of the house had began to awake. First the dog crawled out of bed then Dirk followed. After a couple cracks of the back Dirk was ready for his morning routine. Since it was still early he had time to do a little work before Rachel awoke. Dirk unlocked the door and headed outside still in his night clothes. There was some would still burning some the work he did the night before so he added a couple of logs to the pit. Dirk pushed the ashes the around in the bottom then went back inside. It was dark enough inside that Rachel was able to sleep but light enough for Dirk to be able to find his clothes. He had a while before the night greeted him.

    After he put on his work clothes he pulled some slightly rotted cheese from the pantry along with some bread. After cutting a couple slices of cheese, he placed them on the bread and ate it. It was somewhat satisfying but would only fill him for a little while. His breakfast wasn't much, but he preferred to have more food for Rachel. It was around ten o'clock so he had an hour to work before he had to wake Rachel up.

    Dirk prepared the molten mixture of glass in a stone cylinder and placed it in the fire. He coaxed the fire again to be able to raise the temperature so the mixture could be tampered with. Once the molten glass hit the correct temperature he pulled the stone cylinder out and set it on an iron block in front of the fire. From a small rack by the fire with some steel tubes hanging by leather straps. He pulled off the third one on left and began he dipped it into the molten glass. Once he dipped it he pulled it out and began to shape the lamp. Once he finished the shape he blew into the tube and put his finger over the end he blew in. A bubble formed in the shaped molten glass and then Dirk dipped it back into the cylinder.

    Dirk continued the process of making the lamp he finally finished it and set it in a small chamber under his house so it would cool. It had been an hour and a half and he hadn't woken Rachel yet. He went inside and cleaned himself off then he awoke Rachel. As a child does she reluctantly woke up and rolled out of bed. Dirk dressed her and he set her down with some books and taught her a few things. The day continued with Rachel learning things and Dirk continuing with work. After many hours the day turned to night, and now Dirk had an important task to complete.

    The glassblower put Rachel to sleep and he prepared himself. He had gotten the note a couple days before so he had prepared. He put on his garments and sheathed his weapon. The lanterns were lit and Dirk could be noticed if he wasn't careful. Before leaving the house he locked the door and put the key in a leather pouch. Dirk stuck to the back streets as he went to Corben's home. Soon he reached Corben's house, the gate was open so that means the rest of his comrades were there. He approached the forge seeing many people surrounding Corben and he waited. It looks like he might have been the last one to make it.
     
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  11. “And then with everything I had left, I charged at her.” She whispered, holding the cloth up. Her dagger gleamed like amber under the lights of the bar. “One go, that’s all I had. If I pricked her anywhere else, I’d only make her angry. She’d rip my heart out faster than you can blink. I’d seen her do it. You only get one chance with a demon like that, you know.” The beautiful young woman on the other side of the bar nodded quickly, her face pressed against the heels of her palms. Mel leaned in. “And she approached, lunged, suddenly she was towering over me like a black wave.” She tossed the washcloth into the air. “And I- I took my shot!” She pitched the dagger and watched it spin through the air until it stuck into the wall at the other end of the bar. The washcloth hung from it perfectly, like a coat on a hook, stuck right where she had marked it with a tiny x.

    “Nice party trick, but can I get a refill on my fuckin’ drink now, for god's sake?” Came a gruff voice from her right.

    Mel pulled her gaze away from her delighted companion and turned to look at the burly man thrusting his mug in her face. She raised her eye brows at him and walked away to pull the dagger out of the panel where it was impressively well-lodged and return it to her belt.

    “Fine.” She responded dryly when she returned and grabbed the coins. Then she took the monstrously large glass which she carried to the cask a few feet behind her. As it filled she took a moment to survey the room. She noted they were a lively bunch that afternoon. Well, as lively as they could get. Sure, there were always the ones who had no humor in the face of darkness, the ones who drank with hoods up and never rightly looked at anyone. But there were plenty of others, singing, talking, flirting, even throwing the occasional punch. The room was more than just ghosts that evening and it was nice. She noticed that quite a few of the bar patrons were actually ex-FateGuard like her. Many of them were at the bar for the third night in a row, drinking away the ache of lost purpose. She understood that, she had done it too. But no amount of drinking or sparring or friendly company could match the thrill of being a hero, someone who mattered. She wondered how many of them had also received Corben’s invitation. She wondered if any had, so few people could be trusted now...

    Thinking of Corben, it occurred to Mel for the first time in hours to check how close it was to sunset. She squinted out the windows but the stained glass obscured the hour. She handed the man his beer and promised the young woman she would tell her more about slaying demons soon.

    It was one of her better stories Peasant girls were harder to impress than court girls when it came to FateGuard stories because they'd often caught real glimpses of the terrors that beat against the walls of Gothenheim. She thought about this as she waded through the crowd, dodging their calls both malicious and friendly. Some even invited her to sit and join them for drinks. So many of the drunks of Gothenheim had an impressive talent for feigning jolliness. She reached the opposite side of the room and wandered out the door and into the deep blue light of near sunset.

    “Shit.”

    She was about to be late. She glanced in the tavern and turned quickly to go when she was met with the wide barrel-like chest of the bar owner, Everett.

    “Oh good, you’re here." Mel greeted. "Remember how I said I had family business tonight, boss? Better head out bef-”

    “Are you sure you can’t stay?” The hefty old man asked, already looking exhausted. “These late hours, they get particularly… irritable.” Mel felt a tinge of guilt for leaving him with this shift, but she had no other choice. Everett was neither a particularly kind nor open man, but he always kept his debts and for that she respected him. He had given Mel the bar-keeping job in thanks to her for saving his wife and eldest son her third year in the Fateguard. If he knew where she was going he’d understand.

    “I’m a busy woman, Ev.” Melaleuca responded quickly, slapping his shoulder as she ran off. “I’ll be back in the morning!” And with that she disappeared into the dusk.

    She crossed the town as quick as she could, dipping in and out of the shadows so as to avoid the chary glances of enemies both alive and... other. She arrived at Corben’s with only minutes to spare before total darkness and quickly slipped in the door.

    “Sorry, Cap.” She said to Corben, sidling in between Alyss and young Alwyn. She leaned against the wall on her forearm and exhaled heavily, surveying the faces of her comrades. “Hope I haven't missed anything."
     
    #11 Ophelia, Nov 11, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
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  12. "Yes! YES! BURN! Hahaha, you all mocked me, disrespected me! But now you shall burn!" Maulnar yelled, laughing maniacally as he threw a bottle filled with a glowing red/orange liquid at someone's house. The glass shattered to bits, and the liquid exploded in a brilliant blaze, lighting the entire buildig on fire in less than a second. "Feel the burning rage within me! Feel.. Why is my hand so hot?"

    Suddenly, Maulnar awoke at his desk, screaming as he shot up and shook the hot candle-wax off his hand. The flame on the candle had made its way down to the bottom, where his hand happened to be, prior to him falling asleep in the middle of research.
    Opened books, filled and empty pots of ink, and scrolls were scattered across the wooden desk. Some things fell to the floor when Maulnar awoke, but he cared little about that, it happened far more often than he'd care to admit.

    "Oh.. Oh God what's the time?" He wondered aloud, then headed towards the window where he saw the sun sinking over the horizon, or rather, the Earth turning to cast its shadow on the city of Gothenheim. Night was falling, and the time of visit was creeping ever closer. It was time to leave.
    Maulnar grabbed a quick bite and the walking cane on his way to the front door, then slammed it shut behind him and locked it. While only a few of the inhabitants dared near this building, Maulnar wouldn't ever risk allowing anyone unsupervised entrance to his home. Rumor has it he's made contact with the devil, and anything one would find within his home would probably encourage this belief.

    Going out at night was nothing new to Maulnar, he did quite enjoy a good night stroll, the serenity, the dark, the beauty of a starlit sky. But tonight was different. Tonight, he had an actual goal for a change, and nobody was allowed to know what he was up to.
    Lucky for the old man, few people can be found at night, and even fewer would want to stay for a chat. He managed to follow the roads towards the Corben's home.

    It didn't take too long to get to his destination. He quickly hurried inside the blacksmith's home, then threw the hood off his head, and nodded amicably at everyone gathered inside the building. "Greetings, everyone."
     
  13. As the sun was lost behind Aborhen Hill, its glow found homage in the forge fire. Ember red repainted the courtyard and drew the gatherers closer, in a tighter circle around the bellows and anvil.

    Corben made no greetings, and seemed even to forgo reflection at the faces before him. Friendships long and men and women who had bled with him, mixed with the stranger sight of newbloods risking all in coming here. The ex-marshall's eyes were downcast as he stepped within their circle, and in his hand he held a pouch, heavy with the clink of metal.

    A silence settled. Bellows smoke swept around them like a cloak. The night was upon them, and as tradition held it was the hour of nightfall when the Watch would quieten and await the order of their captain. Now, more than ever, this was more than ceremony. The path ahead was hanging in the balance and hinged upon the Marshall's words.

    "Without Arias..." Corben's first words were puzzling, "...my daughter would be dead." He hefted the pouch while standing before the anvil. "So I have spent these three days crafting a gift for him."

    He upended the pouch and with a clatter sixteen pieces of polished metal spilled across the anvil. In the forge-light the FateGuard beheld the chess pieces, carved in silver. It had been painstaking work, unlike the weaponsmithing of Corben's usual routine. The pawns rolled upon their round heads and settled at the four corners of the anvil.

    And with this reveal Corben cut to the matter at the hand - the matter of their covert meeting. "Our last marshall, Eric, called Gothenheim a city of a thousand blind serpents. The threat beyond our walls was simple; while the threat within sprung from folly and desperation. He believed the politics that hindered the FateGuard was nothing more than accidental, the side-effect of fearful men, scrounging in the dark."

    His hand moved through the pile of chess pieces, till he took hold of one. "For a happy while, I believed him. But now... now I see more than folly. I see deliberate moves. And we are trapped between them."

    With a thud of metal on metal, Corben stood the white bishop upon the anvil...



    * * * * * *​



    Bishop Wallstein reached inside the cage and snagged the sand finch with one fluid movement. The bird made no struggle and on his palm he felt its heart beat faster. "Do you know, Child, the greatest fault of the Old World?"

    Beneath the ceiling of bird cages, a simple stone bench was all that occupied the room. On it the initiate lay and followed the Bishop with his eyes. Barely a teen, the boy twitched quietly as two monks worked his body with ink and needle. He was being tattooed, and as his agony unfolded the words of the Bishop were his only anesthetic.

    The holy man twisted the snared bird out of the cage before answering his own question. "Space. The Old World had many lands, stretches of desert, field and mountain. We were lords of all we could behold, and dared each hilltop and valley with our strongholds. We spread and thought it a thing of nature."

    The boy gave a gasp. His head lolled back on the bench. The monks were working a tattoo across his chest - an intricate spiral of cruciform thorns. He was becoming equal parts of pale and black. Ignoring his pain, the Bishop opened the door of another cage and, with a grimace, eased the finch inside. "I do not believe... that men were meant to have such space. We lose our minds in the expanse between places, so far away from one another with only holy books and swords to comfort us. It breeds entitlement... and the absurder concepts of luxury."

    The bird fluttered free, making one loop of the cage before slamming against the door the Bishop had closed. It lay dazed for a moment before hopping back to its perch.

    "Yet when you are crowded..." the Bishop continued, while running one hand across the bald pate of his head, "...when you live upon the heels of strangers, pressed against one another, you have no choice but to normalize... to find a common ground. It teaches manners and humility."

    He gripped the cage with both hands and spun it as the bird chirped a warning song. "When my Father wrote the White Ordinance, the act that expunged all mention of the demi-gods from our religion, he told me there was beauty enough in One Deity... complexity enough in a single idea. We just had to stop... and pay attention to the details."

    The initiate shuddered as the needle pressed above the bridge of his nose, between his eyes where a serif character was carved upon him. His body would be living text, corresponding to the binding points of the Legionnaire armour. With his eyes closed there was only the Bishop's voice and the squawk of his aviary.

    "The King... the Mages... even the FateGuard - they look beyond our walls and dream the human dream of expansion, of pioneering journeys to the unknown. They would march beyond the wall and kite the people with the what-ifs of great space. Yet know this, above all, Child - there is no mystery, no beauty, no power that we cannot find right here. We could stay within this city and build such towers around us, such stairways and houses for our souls. Here we can focus on the little things and piece by piece construct a perfect faith."

    He left the cages and the birds in panic, crossing from the window to the marble bench. One hand rested atop the boy's head to still his quivering. One of the monks was fetching the Legionnaire armour while the second completed the holy line between elbow and fingertips. In a dozen chambers of the Pilgrim Cathedral, this very procedure was being repeated. Boy and Bishop looked at one another.

    "As Legionnaire you will be the edges of our world, and hold the borders as we build a paradise."

    The first piece of armour was lain upon the boy's flesh.



    * * * * * *​



    "The Legionnaires may be our saviours or the instruments of damnation," Corben said while selecting another piece. "But either way the watchers should be watched."

    He set another piece beside the bishop. The tall and chunky form of the white rook.



    * * * * * *​



    High in the Eldritch Tower, the Arch-Mage Endleweiz rapped his ringed fingers on the mithril altar. "We have found no trace in the Catacombs."

    "So Tamoldes eludes us," spoke a second Wizard, whose eyes were rolled back in trance.

    "And why shouldn't he?" scoffed a third. "Our powers are nothing within the cardinal boundaries. The tunnels go little further than the walls. We gain nothing in this."

    Endleweiz stroked his grey, bedraggled beard, and his eyes gleamed childlike - an odd amusement unmatched by his grave tone. "Tamoldes is but a relic. Let him run. If we are to wield the power we had at White Rock, we must tread the higher kessurats. Aborhen to Darraskun, the Levian Vay and Karsark Valley. We must channel from beyond the cardinal lines."

    "The Catacombs will not get us there."

    Endleweiz looked sharply to his companion. "Then we hold to our first plan. The King will march beyond the wall. His impatience is inevitable. He is the fool card we have waited for, a leader wild enough to throw wide the gates."

    "Not if the Bishop and his Legionnaires console him."

    "Wallstein will fail as surely as the FateGuard. If not then they will destroy each other. There is nothing gained in shoring up the walls. Arcanium knew that."

    At the mention of the traitor's name, the two high wizards made warding gestures.

    "Our time is now, brothers," Endleweiz spoke, while placing both hands upon a sphere of polished onyx mounting the altar. "No more FateGuard to enchant. We are freed to higher things."



    * * * * * *​



    "The Eldritch Guild has but one agenda," Corben said as he lined the rook up with the bishop. "To increase their power by any means. Even the Bishop cares about the people. Not so with the Guild."

    He placed a white knight beside the other two pieces, and turned its head towards the east.



    * * * * * *​



    Four miles due east the Monolith remained, its corrupting shape the only landmark of the coastline moors. Perhaps built overnight, or within a dream, it defied all knowing. For not one man of Gothenheim could say when the unholy icon was constructed; nor could one man study it from the walls without going insane. Because of the Monolith the eastern windows of every house in Gothenheim were boarded shut, and those who walked the eastern walls, even the helmed and warded Legionnaires, were taught that one curious turn of the head would strip the very soul from your flesh.

    If such was true, the greater question then was what lurked inside the man who sat that night upon the Monolith's base. Arcanium was a nest of shadows, his only light the brown-red lining of phantom robes. A face might have dwelt there, but now was a spectral blend of features, his age indeterminate and veiled with hair that swirled like mist disturbed. A projection perhaps... or even the true form of this Eldritch Knight who had jumped the walls and damned his entire being.

    "Still he watches. Still, still, still." A shrill cackle sounded below. Arcanium peered down from his perch at the witches digging there. The three crones were on hands and knees and folding gore-soaked bones in the earth.

    "He fears the tindertwigs won't burn," another chanted, "...but leaping, leaping, come to set aflame his britches!"

    "Perhaps he mourns our sister. The Shadow Weaver was so fair and will not sing again!"

    "No! Troubled by the wolf, he is!" The third witch bundled entrails into rabbit holes, stuffing up the soil with filth. "The succour wolf who made us pretty, returning with his fill of words and howling all our secrets."

    Arcanium's robes blazed afresh, from dark to crimson, as he stilled the babbling of the weird sisters. "They will come." His voice was like embers stoked. "Mine is the only face they can drape upon the darkness. Life's greatest gift is to know your enemy's name. So Gothenheim will march... because all else is senseless."

    The eldest witch held up a blood-soaked spinal column, raising it to Arcanium like a threatening hex. "The prince, he scurries through your web, little spider."

    "Tamoldes is of another age," the Wizard answered. "We shall face him by and by, when forests have grown across the ruins of Gothenheim, and we are more than we can be."

    "More than we can be!" The witches took it up like a mantra and dug all the quicker into the bloody soil. Around them parts of carcass and stillborn - parts torn by werewolf jaws - were fed into the marsh of blood on which the Monolith stood. And as they worked the Wizard Arcanium returned his stare to the torchlit walls of Gothenheim.

    As a predator pausing, who knows his prey is not as injured as he first believed.



    * * * * * *​



    "Arcanium's spies are still among us," Corben warned while running a finger down the knight's metal mane. "Their name is The Wounded Hand, and we have seen assassins, mages and cultists among them. Our own brother, Kael, serves them still, and hides within these streets."

    He picked another piece, the largest of them all, and set it down beside the knight with a thud. The forge-light shone upon the slender, towering shape of the white king.



    * * * * * *​



    [​IMG]

    "WHERE IS MY QUEEN?"

    A guard captain gripped the king's shoulder and tried to slow his stride. His smile was anxious. "Come, my lord, back to the feast hall. Tell me how your father slew the Boar of Misenham."

    "BAH!" the king shrugged the man off and lumbered through a set of doors, his pitcher arching high as he chugged more wine. Servants flattened to the walls as he passed. The king was in his chainmail - a suit he had drunkenly donned in the midst of his revels - and each clink told the story of his staggering, boisterous gait. "FREYA! MY LOVE, I AM COMING!"

    The Lord Chamberlain intercepted him. "My lord, the Queen is not well. I su--" He was shoved aside. Knocking down furniture and scattering servants, King Ganthor carved a path to his lady's bedchamber while singing his ballad.

    "This is not good for the child, your highness!" pleaded another soldier.

    "NONSENSE! MY SEED IS BUT THREE MONTHS OLD IN HER BELLY!" He grabbed his own beer-gut and shook it with a laugh. "IF I CAN FUCK WITH THIS ON ME THEN SHE HAS NO EXCUSE!"

    He took another swig then hurled the pitcher over his shoulder, startling the soldiers who followed him, then crashed alone through the doors of the queen's chamber. Two ladies-in-waiting were already in his path and bowing in protest. "Please, Sire! She is very ill! She is sleeping! Don't--" They were knocked aside and sent running from the chamber will slaps and kicks to the rear. The king spun in laughter then hurried through the curtains that veiled Queen Freya's bead. "I'M HERE, MY LITTLE DOVE! I'M HERE--"

    Ganthor stopped mid-stride, his smile dropping, as if he had been instantly sobered. On the bed the queen was curled on her side and clutching pillows to hide herself. Yet even so the reason for her grief was clear. His face softening, Ganthor continued with quieter steps and pulled the chainmail from his shoulders. He dropped to his knees, put one hand on his queen's head, and used the other to gently turn her over. "Freya..."

    As the queen rolled onto her back the pillows slipped away and the great bulge of her belly could be seen. From sternum to groin the flesh was distended, rising higher than her breasts and toes. He put a hand on it and felt the warmth and kicking motion of relentless life. "My love..."

    The queen's face was streaked with tears. "I didn't know how to tell you..."

    Six days - that was all it had been. Since the party when the queen's pregnancy was announced, Ganthor had spent the week in revels. Sometimes he had slipped drunkenly into the bed beside his wife, or else passed out at the feasting table. He had even spent a night in the stables after an evening of jousting with his servants. All this time he had been blind to what his wife was suffering. He cursed himself that it taken this long to see clearly through the haze.

    The swell before him was a pregnancy of six or seven months... not one...

    "I feel him growing..."

    "Oh gods..." the king muttered as he cradled her. "...what have I done?" They each knew the significance of the question. A month ago the king had made bargain with a group who called themselves alchemists. A group known only by the symbol of a wounded hand wreathed in black. They had promised him a son - an end to the sterile seed that plagued the Isalt bloodline. Ganthor had known there was black magic here; he had known the peril that his soul was in. Yet his desire for an heir had eclipsed all else. He had consented... and been given what he wanted.

    But he had not wanted this.

    With hushing sounds he stroked Freya's head and held her while she wept. His eyes were fixed on the swelling belly where his son was growing. "It will be alright, Freya.... it will be alright."



    * * * * * *​



    Corben finished and stepped back to behold the four chess pieces lined up on the anvil. "Now that the king has sired an heir, he is ready to march beyond the wall and build a legacy. He will lead us all into the jaws of hell."

    The Marshall rolled his sleeve up and revealed the lattice scars where the Shadow Weaver had cut him. They followed the line of veins and muscle, and continued above his collar where they marred one side of his neck. Three nights ago the FateGuard had stepped outside the wall for but a moment and been mangled for their trespass. They each knew the certainty of death beyond Gothenheim.

    "These are the moves being made around us," Corben concluded while looking to the circle of watchmen. "...and mayhaps there are others, which we know not of."

    As he spoke this last part, the white queen was still clutched in his hand.



    * * * * * *​



    With a gasp, half-fearful, half-excited, Amadea turned from the hearth and covered her breasts. "Oh, Erilyn... you startled me."

    In the open doorway, her coat half removed, Erilyn stood in shock. In the three nights since her retirement from the FateGuard she had worked at the house of seamstresses and worked away her memories of the lost. Her pain at Leonardo's passing had fueled her labour, and with output high the master had let her go home early this night. She had been ready for sleep... not for this... not for the sight of Corben's wife naked in her home.

    "Amadea... what...?"

    The woman took a fur from the rocking chair and pulled it tight around her. There was sweat on her body, catching in the hearth-light, and her dark hair was tussled. One finger came to the woman's lips. "Ssssh! You'll wake him."

    Erilyn looked across to the doorway of her brother's bedroom. "You..."

    Amadea crossed the room quickly while clutching the fur to her body. "Evain is exhausted, my dear. Such stamina that boy has. I remember when Corben had that passion."

    Erilyn reeled back at the woman's approach, to the edge of the doorway. "How could you...?"

    "Come now, Erilyn. We are both women of Gothenheim, and we must be stronger than the men. You know this." Amadea glanced back to the bedroom where Evain slept. "Your brother has needs. As do I. And Corben... he has other needs. He carries burdens that we cannot imagine. I will always be second place to that."

    "But..."

    "Would you tell all to my husband, and add to his troubles? I thought you kinder than that, Erilyn."

    No matter how the devious point, the truth was sound. Rumours of this very thing had vexed the ear of the Marshall for years now, and to see them confirmed was only to inherit the burden of breaking Corben's spirit. With a sigh Erilyn lowered her head.

    "Close the door, would you?" Amadea glanced down at the furs barely covering her. "It's freezing."

    Erilyn stepped inside and pulled the door shut behind her, feeling as she did so that she had become a little older, a little more worn, a little further from the glory she had known in the FateGuard. And as she stood there she heard her brother stirring in the next room.

    "He's ready for another round," Amadea said while walking off towards the bedroom. "That boy is tenacious." The fur dropped away and, naked, Corben's wife moved to the threshold with just a single glance over her shoulder at Erilyn. "Must be all that royal blood."

    And with those words Erilyn knew the game she was trapped in. She slumped beside the fireplace, head in her hands, and put shivering palms across her ears to stop the sound.



    * * * * * *​



    [​IMG]

    "They say that Gothenheim has no further need for us," Corben concluded. "But I say otherwise. The pieces in play will only usher chaos. I fear for this city and for my king. I fear for us all."

    A night wind caught the embers and sent fresh smoke around them. In this cloak the city scape was lost and they saw only each other, only this fellowship, covert and outcast. The ex-marshall took a breath before speaking his next words... words that would place him, firmly, in the pages of heresy.

    "I am here tonight to declare treason. I am here to start a militia, however great, however small, and raise in shadows a new Night Watch. I set myself against the present cause of Church, Guild and Crown. In being their friend I will be their enemy, and hold that we know best... that we know right... and that we, alone, can show the way."

    He stepped around the circle and looked to each of them as he spoke. "And to my side I call the outcast, the renegade and the shunned. To my side I call those who were abandoned and still have strength to defy." He ended, and his gaze peered through the doorway to where Malwin and another, as yet unidentified man, sat and waited. "And to my side... I call those who have been touched... by the evil that threatens all."

    The darker nights of the FateGuard had begun.
     
  14. The man who walked into the light around the forge had his head hunched forward. He wore a hat pulled low over his features and had a coat that was clearly borrowed and to large for him, its collar pulled up to hide his face. He kept himself hunched and hidden, his eyes staying on the forge. The fire helped. Fire was a reminder of civilzation. Sometimes to calm the animal he would just sit atop a hill and look at the city, at the walls and towers and glittering lights from within the windows.

    He stopped as he got near the fire, and then after a moment of hesitation he removed his hat and held it in his hands, finally looking up at the others. His face seemed to be in a permanent state of worry and observation, as though there was something just beyond everyone else that he had to watch, or a small whisper in the background he was struggling to catch. His features were obscured by four days worth of stubble that hadn't been touched. But he was still familiar to the veterans.

    He was still Ferrick. For the moment.

    "It's... been a while, hasn't it?" He asked after a moment, giving the others a weak smile. His voice was faint, he spoke like someone trying to keep passers-by from hearing. Which, for the past four nights, had been his situation. "Longer than it seems."

    As if expecting the flood of questions, he said, "I... no, the wolf followed the monsters to the walls. Sometimes they hunted us, sometimes they were lax and we hunted them. When we saw Corben we..." He paused then as his face blanched, curling into an expression of disgust as he quickly covered his mouth with a hand and shivered. His breathing abruptly changed pace, growing much more heavy. After a moment, when he was sure the moment had passed, he lowered his hand and said, "I can still taste it. He knows that gets to me. But we helped and could slip inside."

    He bit his lip, then leaned forward more, looking at the others with a surprisingly clear gaze. "I'm still Fateguard. Despite what the wolf wants. Even outside the walls I was still Fateguard. I've... we've spent these last nights evading the enemy. And when they got too close... we struck back. And..."

    He took a deep breath as the recollection of the night hit him, fueled by the mind of the wolf, and for a moment he was there looking up at it from behind the wolf's eyes. "We've been to it. Where you don't look any more. I've seen it through the eyes of the wolf."
     
  15. Alyss looked with relief upon Corben's form and chanced a small smile as he spoke.

    Perhaps this all was some great show of how, even in the darkest odds, they'd survive.

    Isn't that just a fairy tale idea of an ending. Are we really such children to gain such hope from that?

    Alright, it was a goddamned reach, but she wanted to believe it. She wanted to believe that all their hard work would pay off.

    Do you think it's owed to you? Oh, the poor little thing, life is so hard- surely it will all end one day and everything will be fine, with a big "The End" scrawled overhead.

    Her head ached for a moment as she winced. Too loud. Everything was too loud. Surely, she was human enough to have her womanly moments and face head pains before, but... that was surely not what this was. In the midst of everything, she moved closer to Derek, holding on to some hope that perhaps that would ease something in her mind, she needed to focus.... focus- this was important, she needed to just let everything go silent within herself so she could just listen.

    She could imagine the sounds of scoffing, but nothing more. She listened intently, watching the pieces Corben picked up and set down while he riled them skillfully. Her eyes wandered over the room, looking from face to face, but in the end it settled back on Corben as he made his last move and beckoned them as only a skilled and weathered captain could.

    And with Ferrick, the small smile returned, hope grew once again.

    Are we really so desperate to work for the safety of the people who spurned us? Listen, would the people ever understand the troubles and evils we've been through- all for them? Why lay our lives down for the people who'd liken us to traitors? Why risk being like him?

    With that, the headache returned swiftly, as did the memory of that swaying rope. Her smile became a grimace and she shuddered. Her mind was a mess of images and sound- and her eyes shut tight for a moment, wishing it all to be banished from her head again.

    She struggled to listen to Ferrick's words and finally it all died down some, her head raised again slightly.

    So he might know something of the one place they could never look, the one place they'd never want to look. Hopefully this gave them an edge.

    Her eyes focused on Ferrick intently, wanting just one shred of proof that there was something that could be done about this place, one shred of hope that maybe, if they could could take care of that one thing, maybe everything else would be a little easier again...

    Alyss's lips pressed together in an uncertain, worried line.
     
  16. Derek stared at the pieces on the anvil. Each one of them representing enemies that in some form needed to be defeated. It wasn't just battle anymore. Subterfuge, secrecy, and creeping amongst the shadows. In a way they were now no different than the different factions that conspired to their own goals in Gothenheim. The one thing that set them apart from the others was that not only had the FateGuard had seen what the monstrosities of the wall had to offer when they breached it but they had now once gone beyond it, if not briefly, and saw firsthand the horrors that awaited them should the factions not be dealt with. And on that note Derek approached Corben and firmly grasped his shoulder, "We are not traitors if we prove ourselves to be correct, Corben. I don't think this is as different as some of us think it might be. We are not bound by waiting for the Crown, Church, and Guild to make decisions about what must be done. We now function independently and we may do what we need to do to save this city. Ganthor declares the FateGuard disbanded but I remain your second in command until Death's messenger takes us both...if you would have me."

    As he grasped Corben's shoulder his eyes looked to his arm. His cloak had opened enough to reveal to those in the courtyard the suit of black armor Derek wore. It was unlike the Regalia of Ancient Kings had been. This suit of armor consisted not of large adamantite plates, but of a more trimmed down mythril. On his back was a mantle as black as the armor itself, "The Armor of the Black Rider. I'm sure some of you might remember him. Courtesy of the constables of Gothenheim. It's stronger that steel, but nowhere near as protective as the Regalia was and the stronger creatures out there won't be hindered by it much. It's a good deal lighter than the Regalia though..." his explanation brief Derek released Corben and approached Ferrick, "Goddammit, Ferrick, it's good to see you again. You being here and alive is perhaps the best bit of news we've had in what seems like ages," Derek could help but smile a little. Little more than a week or so ago he stood in Ferrick's home trying to talk him out of his paranoia while the FateGuard debated what to do with him. He had been determined to help Ferrick, but the fact that he stood here before Derek now was perhaps a testament to that Ferrick needed not help, but time.

    Having finished welcoming his friend back into the fold he took his place standing next to Alyss again before folding his arms, "I suppose the issue now is that we're not going to be defeating our enemies with mundane weapons and armor, are we? So the big question is where are we going to find ourselves some magic?"
     
  17. Kaede kept silent as Corben spoke. She had been a member of the FateGuard a lot shorter than she had wished. She wanted to make something of herself when she joined and to have been casted out so quickly made her angry. It was possible that she was being quite selfish, if only internally. Kaede had wanted to be much more than she had been allowed. She had wanted to become closer to the people around her now.

    She wanted to belong.


    Kaede pushed most of those thoughts aside. The time for pity was over now. If Corben meant what he was saying, then she had another chance. This time she wouldn't let it escape from her grasp. But as she thought that she felt a heavy weight upon her. This new chance was not going to be an easy one. It would be more dangerous than the life she had chosen before. Still Kaede could feel that it was the right choice and right choices were rarely easy and simple. She did not speak though as others began to talk. She felt a slight disconnect from the others only because she was new and did not know them all too well. Still Kaede knew she would not turn away.

    Kaede moved a bit closer to the pieces on the anvil, going over in her mind those they would be opposing. Kaede felt herself smile a bit. Even if this was dangerous, she wouldn't be anywhere else right now. She was drawn back into the room though by Derek's words.

    "That does seem to be a problem. Surely there is some way to obtain something in order to help us."
     
  18. Severin hadn’t said a word since his arrival he merely stood off to the side of everyone else, he felt out of place amongst them; to be honest he was surprised. He’d received a letter from Corben merely a few hours ago. He hadn’t expected anything like this, the proud Fateguard becoming vigilantes? Had someone told him this weeks ago he would have thought the person out of their wit it was unheard of in Gothenheim. Still what would unfold from this was anyone’s guess, given the choice between the legionaries and this. He’d bet his life on them a hundred times over, this was going to be risky though. He didn’t doubt that they could continue to protect the city, but keeping their affairs unknown would be an even bigger challenge.

    “This is fine and all, but how do you suppose we do this without people growing suspicious. You lot weren’t exactly inconspicuous while you still had Gothenheim backing.” He felt a knot form in his stomach, it was hard for him to say it but it still needed to be addressed. “How will this look, the Fateguard was disbanded less than a week ago and now there’s a group of vigilantes running around. It wouldn’t take long for them to start pointing fingers you and your comrades. Even those who have gone their separate ways would fall under suspension.”
     
  19. Turmoil was bubbling up in their gathering- least it gave Alyss a break from the headaches, but still, this poised its own problems. Least the problem with the magic or other such aids was probably a much easier answer.

    "We all have our jobs to do... This is the only one I know- even if I have to hide myself to do it, I will. It's all I have." She paused for a moment. "Your questions, your doubt- it's understandable, but... At this point, I think most of us are in too deep to turn around. Our Captain will lead us in the right direction. Mistakes and blunders happen, and risks are high, but I believe in his words." She spoke in an even tone. "Our job isn't done yet. That's all I need to know."

    She stepped closer to Derek a bit. Her thoughts were racing again, there was a point to what they were saying, though... what else cold she do?

    Wait.

    "Hold on, one moment." She looked up at Severin directly, confusion glimmering in her eyes, rubbed at her temples, perplexed for a moment and then finally spoke. "You are here, you obviously were beckoned- you are considered part of our group, yet you talked about us like you are not one of us... Why is that? I mean no harm or pressure, but... honestly, I really am... confused as to your disassociation." She shook her head and the quieted down, moving towards Derek again.

    Honestly, she was just a little off-put. Yes, there were risks, hell- she was scared just of being outside these days, afraid that someone would recognize her, but she was here- she had a duty. She worked hard to get into this, and there was no way she was letting it fall to waste. This was the only kind of work she really knew how to go about. She had nothing else- surely not any family to get in the way anymore, given the state of affairs in that corner... And as to anything else... she tried not to think of. Malwin came to her thoughts now and again, but... his words- the truth had cut deeply. What was she supposed to do with that? How in the world was she supposed to navigate that mess of affairs?... His family... his relationships, all were marred by... but she... how in the world had this all transpired like this?....No, don't think of this right now. Save it for later... or never...
     
  20. Maulnar leaned on his cane as Corben began to explain the situation at the moment, placing chess pieces on an anvil as representatives for actual people. Not necessarily enemies, but certainly potential dangers to the city, and trouble for their unauthorized plans.
    But if something wasn't allowed, it became so much more tempting to do.

    And when the marshall ceased his speech, came forth the responses from worried, confused, or both, people gathered here. While the opinions on the idea presented were not all the same, the majority of the group was willing to follow the Ex-leader and aid him in his plan, joining his militia.
    A small smile tugged at Maulnar's lips. He liked the way this sounded. Though, spending years upon years in near solitude would drive just about anyone insane enough to find a liking to danger.

    Looking over at the people around him, Maulnar was surprised at how many he actually knew by name, even if they might not know his. Corben, the blacksmith. Kaede, the cousin of the owner of that herbal shop. Dirk, the glassblower. And Severin, the carpenter.
    All of them had shops Maulnar frequently visited, things the alchemist/surgeon required. One of the few reasons he had to, and actually did, leave his home. To them, however, he was probably just another customer.

    Then Alyss confronted Severin. She obviously didn't trust the person, despite her trying not to make it sound that way. Perhaps it was the stress, or the rumours about Severin. Apparently he was a thief. Maulnar didn't believe the rumours, but if he really was a thief, then he was certainly one of the best, as he hasn't been caught doing any actual acts of thievery.
    Maulnar chuckled a little. Oh, the fun was about to begin.
     
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