Pegulis, Chapter 5

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  1. Chapter 5

    Whales in the Sky

    Fzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Braaaaaaaaooooooom. Ghrnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

    A member of the Aldus Watch glanced nervously at the walls of the Conjuration tower. "This thing's been whining for days. What does it want?"

    "Its mother. Help me here." They grabbed the legs and arms of a dead Avian and hoisted the corpse onto a stretcher. A week had passed since the storm left Aldus, but it still lingered. The Watch had their hands full combing through the towers for carcasses, trapped Avians, and pockets of refugees and hostages. It was hard to say whether going through the dead towers was worse, or the alive ones.

    The pair grunted, hefting the stretcher between them and moving for the stairs. Around them the floor and walls groaned. Motes of light on the wall traced geometric patterns from floor to ceiling. Floor blocks rearranged themselves, some floating in the air and recombining into new shapes before falling back into the floor.

    Day after day, reports from the relief effort came back to Marin's hands, detailing the strange occurrences happening inside the towers that had not been touched by the Ghoul Sage. Despite Marin's instructions, none of the Aldus mages were able to ascend the stone column to the higher levels of the tower. The Avians provided some descriptions, but they were all too weak to carry a surveyor higher. The stone column resisted activation by the best divinations, and the ceiling resisted the best energy beams and storms that they threw against it. It seemed that with the storm's coming and going, a secret beyond their grasp was briefly dangled in front of them.

    However, that was precisely the sort of challenge the Aldus scholars liked. But they would have to move a little faster.

    Tssssssssssssssssssss. Zooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmm. Byyyyyuaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrnnnn.

    They moved a little faster.

    The Mother that the tower had been crying to for a week straight finally responded. A star winked, high up in the heavens, and fell down as a beam of light.


    The Conjuration tower, and all inside, vanished in a cylinder of divine fire.​

    Barvelle ..., grey The Inner Council convened once again, the Archon in the center. Voices, sentences, and thoughts lingered in the smooth, cone shaped room, ephemeral objects snatched with lightning quick ears, thoughts, logic, and reflexes.

    "The storm."
    "Aviary -- " "-- Alate."
    "The Alate spins extremely rapidly and is held perfectly still by three-hundred-and-twenty-three spell circles."
    "Geomantic disturbance." "Clumsy hand."
    "Where was the Alate tak--- " "Hold thought."

    "The towers awaken."
    "Mordakar moves again."
    "He speaks with the towers. Commands them back to sleep."
    "Aldus must not investigate the towers. They should be dismantled if possible."

    Shocked silence. Arktus broke the meditation to speak his mind, indicating the direst of circumstances.


    Once again, the three Inner Sages burst out of the council room.

    "I can't believe you did that."
    "I had to."
    "You know something we don't."
    "How is that possible?"

    Michel and Helena stared Arktus down. The three Inner Sages had worked together since Pegulis was founded, selected from each major city by the Archon. They were privy to her deepest secrets, the ones that the Archon held close to her chest. They all knew that Mordakar was the source of thermic gems for Pegulis. Despite that, Arktus' last move shocked the other two.

    The three slowed their pace. The feelings of betrayal emanating from Michel and Helena were too much. Arktus stopped and turned to face them. They gathered automatically in a circle, facing the center, a habit born from a thousand council meetings. "Did you notice Aldus Wall's response to the storm? Even our best circles and resonators are not able to tap into raw energy that effectively." Horror dawned on the the faces of the two.

    So that was what it was. As one they turned to face Ilsa, who had just rounded the corner.

    "You must return to Aldus."
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  2. The Maiden's Fury, gold
    Darin gripped the railing as the ship rocked hard over the waves. It was crazy of them to even consider such a task as retracing Eimund's steps to find a cure. If it were not for Gom and Raige's persistence, he would have sacrificed himself to help heal the wounded and dying. It was the way he had been taught and the selfless attitude he had been instilled with.

    As the waves splashed against the Maiden's Fury, his eyes stared hard into the distance as he recalled the discussion between he and Raige two days after striking down Suvius. Both men wondered exhausted out of the great hall as the light dimmed from within. Gom and the others hurried over, the children having all fainted. They left the children in Jorriksdotter's capable hands. It was then that Raige insisted that the pair find a cure.

    "Sir Darin, if you do not, you will die!" Raige argued.

    Darin eyed his squire and smiled faintly, "If I do, hundreds others will die," always others before himself. It was the Paladin way.

    Raige growled and turned away from Darin a moment before turning back, "Tavark now has plenty healers since Barvelle sent aid. They can spare you."

    Raige was ever passionate. One quality that Darin didn't want him to ever lose, just control, "Raige, no one can do what I can."

    "But you can only do it once a day," Raige returned, "Don't be a fool." There it was. Darin smiled slightly and a large meaty hand slapped against his shoulder.

    "He's right, Darin. You've done enough, look," Gom arrived and directed Darin's attention to the men that now had their homes back, "They're home. Some live because of you during the battle, others after," he waved his arm and seven men moved to his side, "We would like to go with you, we owe you. You fought when no one required you to for a home that is not your own. Let us repay you."

    That gesture, along with Raige's concern had convinced the stubborn, self sacrificing paladin to retrace Eimund's steps. So here they were, in the middle of the ocean, on a vessel fit for war, off to face whatever power had warped the mind of Eimund and turned him from war hero to traitor. Gom's seven had turned into enough men and women to run the vessel. Finding out what tainted Eimund turned out to not just be a mission to save Darin, but one to prevent such a thing from happening again. It was a concern for all of Tavark.
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  3. "Little snow rabbits."

    Kyra stood outside a general purpose cavern, a sun cross dangling from its chain on her halberd. The blade glowed with soft yellow light against the green and blue thermic gems set in the tunnel walls. As she swayed the pole arm to and fro, the rippling of the yellow light against the dimpled cave tunnels was similar to the way the soft sunlight reflected off the surface of water. The small crowd around her swayed slightly in tune with her motions, just a school of fish captured by a passing beam of light.

    "Our great nation is beset by its first great trial! Norkabus, the ancient terror from the mountains deep, threatens our nation with loss of thermic gems."

    In the wake of the Ghoul Sage's appearance at the General Assembly, rumours spread like wildfire. Despite every governor knowing the value of being discreet, all it took was one slip of the tongue at a dinner of pickled fish and root vegetables for the hearsay to spread, a drop of ink in the ocean of the ill-informed and eager.

    "He is not a demon though." Her priest's habit did not leave much to the imagination as her chest and arms flexed in tune with her spear-swaying.

    "Not a demon ... but an emissary of Sunne." Murmurs in the crowd. She gathered their doubts and shock, and smoothed them over with the swaying of her glowing staff.

    "And what does he tell us?"

    "To avoid the Divine Weapons. Relics from when the Demons warred over Sunne. We must live virtuously as Crux, and bear the sin of ---"

    "What is this nonsense?"

    Kyra's gyrations faded, and the sun cross ceased to emit light. The ray of sunlight passed, leaving behind only cool heads, eyes flashing with the memory of that soft light.

    "Ethel, young one .. I am passing on the word of Nirabor - "

    "Ghoul Sage. And we know who he is." Pegulian curiosity flashed in the eyes of the small group around the priest. "Just an old magician with his own plans. That is all."

    "A seemingly omnipotent wizard."

    "What does it matter?"

    "Omnipotence .. is prophecy ..

    .. is godhood."
    Kyra gazed into the cross dangling on her halberd.
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  4. Blythe-Flashbacks Faint traces of light scattered across the garden terraces. The festival lanterns blew maniacally in the wind of the approaching storm, and many of the dinner guests clutched tightly to their elaborate cloaks and gowns. A solitary girl, dressed simply in azure silks, strode purposefully towards the center of the courtyard. Her gloved hand reached for one of the drinks placed neatly upon a decorated table and collided with another patron’s.

    “Shite, I’m terribly sorry for that!”

    As one hand fumbled to stand the glass upright, the other planted its fingers delicately upon soft, taupe stained lips. Embarrassment and fear intermingled inside the girl’s wide eyes.

    “… please excuse me.”

    Blythe pivoted away gracefully and rushed for one of the terrace ledges. Her heightened emotional state caused the spines along her shoulders and neck to bristle underneath the rosette adornments of her dress. The cool of the marble penetrated through her gloves and gave the flustered girl a sense of calm. Mountains in the distance were alight with the hot white streaks of intermittent lightning. This storm was fierce and would surely reach Aldus within hours of threatening Barvelle’s citizens. Furrowed brows made the young Anthro’s face look much more withered as she reflected upon the fate of her beloved nation.

    Thoughts of her Tavarkian comrades flooded Blythe’s already troubled mind. She had left the city on special delivery only a little over a week before Eimund’s invasion. News of the betrayal did not reach Blythe or her caravan on the windy back roads. It wasn’t until they reached the outskirts of Barvelle that the gossip began.

    ”They say he’s taken the ole’ lot of ‘em captive with some sort of blood magic.”

    ”My son is sure to join the resistance forces, damned fool. Should’ve gone to the Watch with his father.”

    ”Aldus is in no better sorts. How do the Archon and the council plan to handle this?”

    ”They ain’t worried a’tall about us peasant folk and our problems. Not with the Norvern Lights Festival. They’ll cover the dung wif their pleasantries until the rot can’t be ignored.”

    A sigh escaped the girl’s quivering lips as her worries boiled at the surface of her mind. She gripped tighter to the railing of the terrace, her knuckles’ outline protruding underneath the cover of her silk gloves. No matter how enchanting the fabric, Blythe longed to shed this false attire for the comfort of her leathers and furs. The merchants of Barvelle were not simple-minded or generous like the Tavarkian merchants Blythe had been trading with for years. The gown had cost her the finest fur from her caravan, the one intended as a gift for the Archon. Her ticket into the dinner party now tangled furiously in the strong storm winds.

    The quaking of the floor beneath her jolted Blythe from her stupor. Many of the guests began to shriek and scramble helplessly for the descending staircases. She quickly surveyed the terrace on either side of her. Deserted, minus one petite fox-like Anthro girl who seemed mesmerized by the blinding flashes of light growing ever closer from the mountains.


    Blythe’s voice was drowned out by the tormenting thunder. She made her way towards the girl, her long ebony hair teasing at the corners of her mouth and eyes.

    ”We need to get out of here, NOW.”

    The other girl’s ears twitched in recognition at the urgency in Blythe’s voice, but her face remained fixated forward. Another quake caused Blythe to lose her balance and stumble. She gently took hold of the Anthro’s wrist and ushered her away from the unsteady ledge. As the two Anthro girls dashed into an open garden courtyard, they were greeted by horrifying ghouls shrouded in an imperceptible fog. With little hesitation, Blythe tore one of the rosettes fastened to her shoulder free and lit the frayed edges on one of the lanterns nearby. She forcefully tossed the fireball in the nearest phantom’s direction. The figure’s outline was dissected momentarily by the flames, but regained its former glory almost instantaneously.

    Extinguishing flames lapped at the blue petals of Blythe’s rosette. It began to crumple and fold into itself, mimicking the death of its living flora sisters. The girl beside her began to mumble softly and her pupils dilated from fear and the loss of light.

    ”Brother. My brother. Where is my brother?”

    Blythe met the panicked girl’s eyes, and her lips parted silently in attempted speech. No words came to her in the moment. She felt helpless, trapped, and inherently alone. Her Anthro spines stood erect in the realization, and she reached once more for the young girl’s hand. Her comforting gesture was stopped short by a booming voice.

    ”RUN! Head toward the manor!”

    The fox Anthro seemed to scowl in the direction of the unknown voice, but nodded curtly to Blythe before darting in the direction of the manor’s fortified doors. Blythe picked up the train of her dress in one hand and followed suit with the stranger.

    Once inside the shelter, Blythe carried herself across the room to a solitary table. She slid her back down one of the legs and folded her calves beneath her politely. Unfamiliar voices lingered with the onslaught of the mystical storm outside. The Anthro girl wrinkled her eyelids trying to focus, but failed to calm her rising nerves.



    ”Vrien… injuries… others.”



    The bright light behind Blythe’s closed eyes pulsated with each sound, but then gradually faded until all senses had turned to black.


    Blythe weaved her way through the crowds in Barvelle’s wearied streets. The Ghoul Sage’s storm had done its share of damage to the city. News of Eimund’s defeat shed little brightness upon the nation of Pegulis or the girl’s heart. She needed to find work in the city. It was her only way of securing a journey home, although gold couldn’t persuade even the kindest of caravans now. She had overstayed her welcome in the Archon’s manor, although the Blue President had insisted upon it after the storm had passed through the city. Blythe spoke very little in those following days. She kept her head down, but assisted wherever she could to earn her keep.

    The remains of her dinner dress were folded neatly inside a backpack made of deer hide that bounced upon Blythe’s back as she walked. Worst case scenario, she would sell the fine silks for tanning equipment. People hardly noticed the girl as she pushed her way deeper into the group. It was an invisibility that Blythe happily welcomed. The city atmosphere did not sit well with Blythe, but she would make the most of her surroundings until passage to Tavark was safe. She rested upon a sturdy oaken pillar, inhaling the scents of smoke, sweat, and fresh dirt. Blythe’s whispered promise carried on the faint breeze trickling through the dim caves.

    “When it’s safe, I’ll return.”
    #4 jagajac, Jul 17, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2014
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  5. The Maiden's Fury, gold
    Day 4

    Suvius and I have discussed in length the possibility of gods still hidden beyond the mists that hover over the ocean surface. I do not believe that it was a wise decision for the general to allow such an...imbalanced man to accompany us on this expedition. General Eimund assured me that such a man was exactly what we needed. One could never be too careful and to have a crazed deity obsessed ex-squire of the order was a good idea to the general. Who am I to question him? He has not led us stray nor will he ever. He's the hero of Tavark.

    Darin closed the worn leather bound journal and slid it in its resting place. He had found the book the first night on the sea when he had placed his armor down beside his bed. A board jarred loose and after pulling it free, he found the book hiding inside. When he had opened it and seen the name of Helrich Svan, he knew it to be important. Helrich was close to Eimund, and no where to be seen among the dead.

    Darin sighed before he rested his face in his hands. He was beginning to feel the effects of the poison. Every once in a while he would get dizzy, feel sick at his stomach or get a splitting headache. All symptoms that were easy to explain away if Raige were not around. The wolf had a sixth sense for the well being of his master.

    Darin picked the board back up and pulled the book back out. It was far too interesting to figure out exactly what had gone on on this ship when it was under Eimund's control. He flipped open the book and skipped a few pages until he found a tie bit about Suvius again.

    Day 9

    Suvius is madder than anyone I've ever met. He goes on and on about god and how he is calling for us. His madness seems to be convincing though as some of the crew has begun to buy into his rantings. I, however, have not. I've brought such nonsense to Eimund and he has assured me hat he would meet with Suvius and convince him to control his madness or he would be joining the fishes in the great beyond. The thought of throwing that madman over board does nothing but bring joy to my heart.

    A deep clearing of the throat startled Darin and he slammed the journal shut in surprise, "Sorry, I did not mean to startle you, sir Darin."

    Darin smiled up at Gom from his seat and stood with a smile, "Don't worry about it, Gom. What can I do for you?"

    "I thought I should bring to your attention that not all the men are as eager as we might be to be on this journey," Gom replied, weariness heavy in his eyes.

    Darin nodded, "I figured it would be so. We've been on the ocean for two days. I'm sure many of me are still fearful for loved ones in Tavark and of what we might be facing. We just need to hold it together until we find whatever warped Eimund's mind and destroy it."

    "And heal you too, right?" Gom reiterated his main objective. His eyes reflected the concern he still had for the paladin.

    "Yes, yes," he replied before his eyes flicked to the book in his hand.

    Gom smiled satisfied that he had won and then locked arms with Darin, "Alright, Sir Darin, I'll leave you be."

    Darin nodded and when Gom left, Darin once again looked down at his book, "What happened? Why didn't you stop Suvius, Captain?"
    #5 4everDifferent, Jul 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2014
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  6. [​IMG]

    On the dim, foggy horizon, the bow of the Maiden's Fury pointed out a coastline. For days Darin, Raige, and the rest of the crew had traveled straight into the Lost Ocean. Their journey was punctuated by a distinct lack of anything except for a persistent light fog. The days wore upon them. To break the monotony, they tried to fish, to save their rations of seal-whale fat and greasy biscuits. The things that came up on the end of their hooks were as dull and monotonous as the ocean around them. They did not even have birds as visitors despite their fishing activities, only the endless creaking of their mast as the ship swayed to and fro. It was maddening.

    Their relief upon sighting coast was palatable, but the slow, awful journey there took the rest of the day, the keel crunching into the dirt just as the sickly sun set. Desperate for land, the crew clambered onto the planks, their boots hitting the rocky outcroppings on the island. It was fortunate that their boat was on the smaller side, for the shallow waters would have forced them to approach the island on dinghy.

    The land didn't feel quite right. In fact, the soil was more like accumulated sea dirt and salt deposits. Curious, one of the expedition members used his knife to scratch the land. Deeper and deeper he dug the blade into the grey-black stone. Suddenly, a small piece of the island flaked off of his blade, like a fish scale. The crew watched as the little scale fluttered in the sea wind into the water.

    They chipped away more of the covering, revealing smooth white stone. Not stone .. it was more like ivory. The crew shivered.

    Something was strange about the island.
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  7. Ambassador Nuria - The Gathering, #CDE472

    ‘Released from the cage of iron bars my people soared to the sky once again, saved by the love of a little girl and her knightly friend. I set my eyes upon them one last time as I left as soft words escaped my lips “Thank you,” but it was not the end. As if in fear of us a flaming volley of arrows lit up the sky, tearing down at the Avians that followed me to this place to seek refuge from the storm. The men and women that trusted me and whose trust I would have to restore...they shall be avenged, but when it is the right time to strike.’
    At the bottom of a mountain a gathering ensued as the survivors of the Aviary gathered around their leader, looking to her for answers as she looked down upon them both hurt and angry. Hurt for the death of her brothers and sisters; healers, warriors and merchants alike that now lay dead to the hands of the storm or the arrows that the Pegulians had fired. Angry toward the Pegulians that so hastily slayed her kind with little attempt to negotiate.

    “I have lead you here in the hope to survive wrath of this storm with the hope that our Pegulian neighbors would take pity on us. As refugees from our home that has been burnt down but we were seen no such kindness and instead cast behind Iron bars where we could no longer soar the skies we adore,” Nuria began with a bitter tone as her eyes scanned across her audience.

    “Your brothers and sisters will be avenged my friends. But now is not the time to strike.” The avian pointed toward the large hole ripped in the side of the Aldus wall “Look, their city is in peril and without their warmth, their food and their water we will die, We need them.She let thought sink in for a moment “And they NEED us!”

    The shivering Avians looked up at her nodding helplessly and shivering. Before long her people would be defeated by the cold, she had to hurry. “As your leader I shall go to them and form a temporary allegiance. Our services against the spire in return for warmth, shelter and nourishment, what say you?” she called out to them over the sounds of the storm.

    Hesitant at first the group of Avians looked at each other all cold and longing for the promise of warmth in unison, they showed their leader an ancient sign of respect and authority; gracefully folding their wings down, and clasping their hands together as their heads bowed in respect.

    “Do not follow me until you are signaled you are safe! I shall speak with the Pegulians, two of you will escort me, Thank you!” Standing down from her elevated position Nuria’s large wings began to beat against the ground as she lifted off, signalling toward two of her number to join her in gliding over the icy ground toward the city of Aldus.

    "I will find you, Knightly friend of The Free Child"
    #7 Ai, Jul 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2014
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  8. The Broken Island

    The Children encircled around him, and the sky howled with the torment of ghostly spirits. A glint of a blade, and the foul words of a mad man echoed, Then the pitiful plea of a coward rang out. A wolf howled but only one would hear it.
    Raige was only settled away from his thoughts when the ship shook against the weight of the crashing waves. The voyage had been rough the whole way through, but as they neared a mist filled water the ship stilled to a silent and smooth creep towards whatever island they had come across. Darin had been particular about staying away from most of them, and looking over old documents to find his way to this island, but in doing so he opted to listen to the daunting remarks of the sailors that had come here with them. He doubted Darin was oblivious but feigning ignorance was not doing well for him either.

    Only a day or so ago Raige had come in to the paladin's quarters and hoped to chat with his friend. Gom was already there and talking to Darin about his condition. The paladin still seemed ignorantly resilient to his condition and opted to think for the others, and the over all goal of this expedition. Raige might have been wise to enter and call Darin out on his selfless Martyrdom, but thought better of it and instead returned to the deck.

    It wasn't unreasonable of the men to be so anxious by a trip like this. hell, Raige was actually surprised Jarriksdotter had actually allowed such an expedition to begin with. However it could not be denied, that Darin had faced Darkness far too many times, and if anyone could be the sword that prevented anything like Eimund's betrayal from happening again, it surely would be the Paladin. The tricky part had been getting others to agree to go along. Raige expected part of it was due to them feeling indebted to the paladin for what he'd done. That feeling to endearment had all but faded now.

    Every night had been the same since the battle, all accept the day following. The storm blew in, and luckily it was far less extreme than it had been for other parts of Pegulis. It wasn't likely the hunters city would have stood tall if the storm had hit with its full fury. The fortification and reconstruction of the village had just gotten underway when they'd received the blessings for this voyage. That was likely the reason that the men had turned their devotion away from this journey.

    "Oi Wolf what ye doin get ready fer the landin"

    Raige nodded to the one addressing him and took hold of one of the ropes. it was careful work being a sailor; he'd learned. Getting the ship close enough to the land without hitting the shore would be a task but the size of the boat made it much less difficult than it could of been. Raige helped where he could, but he was no fisherman. In fact it was almost alien for him to be so far away from his beloved forest. When the planks hit shore, and the crew finally departed from the ship Raige waited for Darin to exit his cabin and stood at attention.

    The truth was he was still a horrid Squire, back mouthing all of the time, and they had, had very little time to actually talk or train either. Darin stayed keyed up in his cabin most of the trip, and whenever Raige did interrupt his solace; he found Darin nose deep in an old tattered book. Multiple times he'd thought to ask about it but looking at the Paladin he almost seemed possessed by the thing, as if it held the answers to everything he sought.

    Darin emerged soon enough with his armor donned, nothing beat out the shine of the paladin armor of Orden. Raige nodded to his friend. "About time you took your nose from your literature and joined the party." Darin only smirked at his squire before placing a hand atop his head and roughing the wolf's mane a bit. "Dammit, I am not a kid, you wouldn't do that to a soldier." Raige spat then backed up, though in some ways the little gesture was comforting.

    "Anyways the men seem much more content now that we have hit land, I think another day on the ship and we may of been facing mutiny." Raige laughed at the comment but in reality it wasn't too far from the truth.
    Darin started first and the two of them finally hit the shore to find the men scraping away at the ground. Darin looked on them curiously but Raige was far less composed about it. "What are you guys doing?" One of them looked up but with an odd expression on their face.
    "Oi this is mighty strange."

    Raige looked closer as the man deposited a fairly large flake and then beneath it a tanned white surface as smooth as bone.


    The word slipped almost instinctively and Raige knelt by the dig spot to run his finger along the smooth surface. Ivory was something Hunters were fairly knowledgeable about, because it was common in the tusks of mammoth and some teeth were made of it. However for it to be here, like this? That was truly strange. Raige conveyed his knowledge to Darin Singularly but some of the people that were here were also hunters, and fishermen so he did not expect they were oblivious to the fact. Their scared whispers confirmed that for him.

    "Ivory, and it is fairly large in quantity, that isn't all though." Darin looked at him, brow raised. "A scale came off first, something is very wrong about this place Darin, I think we found what we are looking for."

    It was only partially true but this almost definitely was the island they were searching. Another man picked at another spot and when he found the same thing as before he called to the two of them. He held up a scale much like the other one and beneath is was ivory. Raige looked with a grim expression to his friend. "Darin We need to make a camp and settle for food. It will do the crew good to have some fire cooked meat, might calm their nerves. Tavark lives from the hunt." Darin was not of Tavark, but he knew the wolf was right,and appeasing the men right now had to be first task with the way their nerves had just been jarred.

    Raige stood up and called their attention.
    "Its been a good while since we've been able to dine as Tavarkians. I say we show this jungle what the finest hunters in all the lands can do." Some of their attentions stirred and for some they smirked at the young wolf. "I will lead a hunting party and we will have us a good game and eat like we should of eaten the past week in one sitting." The men didn't cheer but it was obvious who was coming along when they got up and joined Raige. Words didn't need to be said, but everything was understood. Gom and many of the others would stay behind with Darin to set up camp.

    Raige refused to be useless here. He refused to die on his back. Not like before.
    #8 Wolfsin, Jul 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2014
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  9. Ilsa Lisbon — Barvelle, Indigo
    "You must return to Aldus." The sages' unison statement echoed.

    Ilsa paused. Thoughts rapidly flashed through her mind.

    She hadn't finished preparing Barvelle in the event of an attack. Many of the militia volunteers were still rough around the edges and lacked discipline. They needed more training. After the events of the Northern Lights dinner, Eirene's safety was uncertain. Ilsa also still needed to help Vrein fortify Barv--


    Ilsa had stayed by his side for days, visiting him while he recovered whenever she had the opportunity. The smith never seemed to enjoy being seen so vulnerable, but nonetheless reluctantly appreciated her company.


    Vrein's eyes cracked open as he awoke from slumber. He was once again laid on a medical bed in Kyra's church in Barvelle, but this time no naked women accompanied him (although there might have been more than a few volunteers). Ilsa stood in the doorway, arms folded over her chest as she watched him.

    The recovering blacksmith groaned and shook his head. "You here again? Piss off. Don't mock me."

    His comment elicited a soft chuckle from Ilsa, who approached and took a seat next to his cot, smiling at him. "You know you'll miss me if one day, I don't show up."

    Vrein rolled his eyes playfully. "Like a nail in my foot," he grumbled before refocusing on the Captain. "How are you? And what do you want?"

    Ilsa's own hazel eyes mirrored his amusement. "I'm better, now that I'm here so you can belittle me." The pair shared a brief laugh. "I just came to see how you were doing. Is that so much to ask?"

    The blacksmith perked an eyebrow at her sarcastically. "From you? It's like I'm in a dream." The humor settled quietly between them as they exchanged several moments of silence, before Vrein took his now crystallized hand and gently placed it over hers. "Thanks."

    Ilsa smiled without a word of response, leaning in to steal a kiss.


    "Captain. If you are to leave, you must make a decision quickly." Arktus' voice shook her from the memory.

    "He is right. The collapse of the towers along the Aldus wall can only spell danger for the city." Helena's voice followed naturally from where Arktus' ended.

    "You have a daughter there, do you not?" Michel inquired. "None would fault you for worrying for her safety."

    "Michel is being overly conservative. You must go to ensure order in the city."

    Arktus nodded. "The arcane storm seemed to linger an especially long time over Aldus. I worry what damage it might have caused."

    Ilsa nodded without a word as she processed the information, trying to weigh the fate of Barvelle against the fate of Aldus and at the same time struggling with the combined decision of leaving Vrein or seeing Karissa. They waited patiently during the minutes that passed while she contemplated her response. Finally, Ilsa closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I will return to Aldus. I will take some of the militia along, and anyone who needs to head there as well. On horseback the ride should be reasonable. I expect to be back here within a fortnight."
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  10. Aldus - The Wall - Two Days Ago, gold
    Amidst the debris in the streets, a single robed figure weaves through the mess, regarding both survivors and rubble with an equal amount of indifference. Arms folded beneath baggy sleeves, he found himself inexplicably drawn to a pattern splattered upon the wall. Many had passed it by without much thought, and to the untrained eye it might appear to be as coherent as a child's scribblings.

    However, these were not untrained eyes that laid upon them now. Surprised, yes; perhaps even in disbelief. But they understood the significance of such a discovery, and they weren't about to let it go to waste.

    Fishing a quill and inkwell out of his robe, the hooded discover unraveled one of the blank scrolls attached to his belt, setting it gently on the ground and taking a knee. Dabbing his quill in ink, he set about copying the intricate inscription before him, patiently copying down every precious detail with the utmost care; as was his duty.

    If he were correct in his assumptions... this could change the shape of things to come.
    In the Interim, gold
    There was no doubt that the arcane storm had left the city of Aldus in a wretched state, moreso than just on the exterior. Many had watched their homes, their businesses, their lives (quite literally) fall to pieces. Stragglers of both Pegulian and Viridosi decent haunted the streets like listless ghosts, some wishing they really were dead. The watch had suffered numerous casualties, and as a combined result of both despair and weakened governance, crime had taken an upward spike, as it had since even before the storm hit.

    While the hastily assigned pact had settled tensions to some degree, the flame of discontent merely wavered, not truly extinguished. Most residents of Aldus still saw the refugees as, at most, unwelcome guests in their home, while said guests saw the natives as cruel arbiters who imprisoned and killed on their own whims. Suffice to say, no one was particularly happy with the arrangement.

    The Viridosi that hadn't already taken to the skies by now had been assigned their own section of the city, dubbed the 'old quarter' by locals. It had been in shambles even before the city went to hell, so it wasn't much worse for wear now, and while a tad resentful that their lodgings weren't exactly the best, at least they had rooves over their heads, and somewhere warm to sleep. It was something, at least.

    Meanwhile, Aldus slowly started to recover, rebuilding in the wake of the destruction that had been wrought. It seemed they were gradually returning to some semblance of normalcy, the visions, plagues, abnormalities that lingered from the storm gradually diminishing. For the most part.

    The spires made their eerie calls to the heavens. It was believed that in time, this too, would would fade.
    Lorekeeper's Assembly - One day Ago, gold
    "You must understand that this mission is of vital importance."

    The grand hall of the Lorekeepers stood oddly untouched by the ravages of the storm; when the crisis arrived, the sages had holed up in their assembly, using their magic to protect the knowledge within, deeming it more important than the lives of those outside. Only when the chaos had passed over did they deign emerge, an act which did little garner much favor with the people.

    The crowd stood gathered on the lower floor of the grand hall, their world bathed in the soft glow of morning shining from the skylight above. Most donned flowing white robes decorated with arcane patterns, low hanging hoods obscuring their faces. The few that were not in uniform grouped towards the center, apparently being addressed the leader of these mages. The tall, skeletal man produced a scroll from his sleeve, offering it to one of his associates.

    "Brother Merdan must reach the capital at all costs." He turned to the smaller, comparatively shorter figure in similar garb. "Once there, you must seek out Michel. His old bones have not graced us with his presence in some time, but as one of our own, he is one of the few we can trust in the secret city."

    The other nodded, carefully placing the document within the fold of his robe. He joined the others at the center, sticking out rather obviously among the motley crew assembled there. Aside from the mage, there were four: one wild looking woman in a set of thick furs; one bulky draken with black iridescent scales; a scruffy, dark haired man clad in the armor of the Watch.

    The last bore a smug grin, looking rather out of place among this serious band of individuals. While the others listened to their orders closely, he seemed to be more preoccupied with eyeing the huntress, winking at her when she glanced his way. Only a scowl was returned.

    The leader looked to her. "Varika of Tavark, you will be their guide in the wilderness." She nodded.

    He turned to the sage that had joined them. "Merdan is the only among you who knows how to enter the hidden capital. Being a colleague of mine notwithstanding, this makes his survival paramount above all else."

    His eyes fell on the others. "And that is why the three of you are accompanying him. You must protect his life, and the information he carries at all costs. You've been paid well enough to ensure that."

    The draken hissed, muttering under his breath. "Not nearly enough."

    "The five of you shall depart by noon. Take this time to get your affairs in order before you go. Gods be with you." Folding his arms together, he bowed, taking his leave. As he glided along one of the many knowledge-laden corridors, the sages surrounding them offered a similar gesture, the crowd dispersing.
    Dane Myros - Aldus - Present Day, gold
    The last few days had been nonstop work for the Aldus watchman. Assisting with the relief efforts, dealing with unhappy locals and avians alike, listening to grievances, investigating robberies, assaults... quite a bit of responsibility had been placed on Dane's shoulders. Being promoted to lieutenant, he perhaps should've expected as much. Regardless to say, he had more on his plate than he could handle.

    Perhaps this was true in the literal sense as well, as Grandma Lisbon placed a platter of delicious meats and dried vegetables on the table before him. Just staring at it made his mouth water... It'd been too long since he'd actually been able to sit down to a good meal.

    "Thank ya kindly!" With a distinct lack of etiquette he tore into the food, abstaining from using the provided utensils. Seated across the table from him, Karissa scoffed shaking her head.

    "Dane, what did I teach you about manners?" Setting her spoon aside, she gave him a disapproving look.

    The country boy paused mid-chew, straightening himself. "Ah shah, ahm sah-" he swallowed. "Er.. I mean, yer right, sorry." Tentatively he reached for his fork and knife, cutting off bits and consuming them like a civilized human being. The Lisbon girl smiled.

    That look of satisfaction she bore quickly turned to fear. The ground beneath them quaked, knocking their plates from the table, upturning chairs and other furniture, ratlting them to the very core. As soon as it had come, it had ceased.

    "W-What was that?" Karissa asked, getting unsteadily to her feet and looking to Dane as if he had the answer.

    The watchman stood himself, looking more frustrated than surprised. "I ain't got a clue... you two stay here. I reckon imma have to check it out." He sighed, patting Karissa on the head as he walked past. "Can't get a break, can I? S'always summin'. Y'all two take care. Lock that door b'hind me."

    With that, he was off. Another day, another crises to deal with.
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  11. A New General
    Tavark [​IMG]

    Eightyseven. That was the number of men slain during Tavark's recapture. Sons. Brothers. Fathers. Fathers...

    As Reignleif Jarriksdotter, Third Captain of the Army of Tavark looked over the scrolls, reading names of slain men, locations of burned buildings, lists of orphans, dire supply projections predicting famine... as she did this, she struggled to stay stern in the face of her duty. This was her strength, passed down to her through years of time spent next to her father, taking in his love for the rough country they called home, and internalizing his stone-like virtue; indeed, Reignlief was as solid as stone.

    Yet, as impressive as she was, even she was not immune to grief, or worry, or regret. Had she done everything she could? Should she had insisted to accompany her father? If she had gone, should she have implored him not to fight Eimund alone? It was not her place, and she respected her father too much to question him, then or now. But she still felt... sick. Perhaps that was the right word for it. A sickening feel that had followed her for days after the fight. Her stomach was in a constant twist, and she was unusually uneasy, her normally calm body fidgeting and fumbling in ways none had ever seen. Indeed, her current emotional state, and her body's physical reaction to it surprised even her.

    Proceeding through the pile of documents strewn across her desk, Reignlief saw a small envelope slip under her front door. She stood and walked to pick it front he floor; it was addressed to her personally, and marked with First Captain Lyorn's signature. She opened the note, unfolding the fine parchment from the small pouch and lying it down flat.

    My Dear Reignlief,

    I am pained by the loss of our beloved General Horriksson, your father, and my mentor over these past eleven winters. He was of the finest men I've had the pleasure of coming to know, and I considered him nigh a father of my own, and as such, you near a sister. I am therefore pained to see you in the throngs of grief, and extend my deepest condolences to you, and offer my every support to my dear friend and comrade.

    Now, though it may seem a tad bleak, I feel this subject must be broached; the Army needs it's General. An election will be held in by the military council, us included, as soon can convene. Please bring yourself to the great hall as soon as you read this message.

    She was not surprised, though the letter did set her off a bit; how could he pretend to be so caring, loving even, and then be so blunt? She knew he sought the position for himself; It was no secret he had, since his arrival from Barvelle, intended to relieve her aging father of his duty, and take his place. That was the entire reason he was sent to what many officials in the capitol regarded as a backwards backwater in need of serious reform. For what seems like forever, the two Pegulian cultures had been at odds; the Tavarkan wilds breeding a strong and prideful people, not easily controlled, to the chagrin of the Archons and their advisers.

    The only thing that foiled that plan was the General himself's incredibly stubborn resolve; he simply would not relinquish his mantle until the day he died. But now that day had come, and not three days later did the snake decide to seize the opportunity. If he wanted the seat, if he wanted to walking as her father did, as the General of Tavark, he would need to contend with her for the right.

    Long had she herself dreampt of following her father as the General, dream as it always seemed; though she had indeed worked her way through the ranks with admirable compitence and zeal, if it were not for her father's insistence, she would have never been allowed to set foot into a training camp. And, as her father would not give his place away without his life, she knew this day would come when she would need to fight for what she dreamed of.

    And so, she went, slinging her cloak around her and taking a last sip of heated mead for comfort.

    It was a short way to the hall, but she was still besieged by evidence of the battle everywhere she turned. Best not to look, she thought, turning her head downward enough that all she could spy was the ground in front of her feet. Finally she reached the giant wooden doors of the structure, and entered.

    She was greeted by many welcomed and cheerful faces, all seemingly glad to see one another, seizing what little joy they could in the aftermath of a disaster that was still hot on their minds. Every officer of the Army was present, all nine remaining Lieutenants, and the two remaining Captains; herself and Lyorn. There were also the sages of Tavark, as well as a handful of the cities more influential merchant men. A few of these men had with them their wives, who were of near equal import and esteem, and exhibited even more pomp than their gaudy husbands.

    "Captain Jerriksdotter!"

    The voice was familiar.

    "Please, come in! Please, seat yourself, avail the food and drink while we wait for the rest; just a one or two stragglers, should be here shortly. My deepest regrets for your father, he was such a man as we shall never see. May you follow in his place."

    The man was one of Tavarks old sages, a close friend of the late generals, and someone she had know since she was quite young.

    "Farris, thank you, It's much appreciated, though it seems I'll need fight for the title; Lyorn thinks he can put on this show, somehow force his merchant friends into the roster to pad tally in his favor. Bastard..."

    "All will be well, child. You are of stout make, the daughter of a champion and, let us not forget, YOU slew Eimund Rath; you are the true hero of Tavark, no matter what Lyorn has styled himself to be in this tragedy's wake. I am with you, my dear girl,"
    He said with a smile, "as are any of us with sense."

    "Thank you." She said, returning his smile; she was not sure if there were enough people with sense left for his words to matter, but she they gave her solace nonetheless.
    #11 GonzoB., Jul 20, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
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  12. The Lost Island, gold's what everyone felt to an extent when they finally made land fall. Some had begun to doubt the existence of some island that Eimund had returned from and rumor had been that all that time on the sea had driven the general mad. It was the simplest of explanations, but Darin knew otherwise. He had been reading Helrich's account of the journey and with each passing entry, Suvius' madness and Eimund's fall became clearer and clearer.

    Darin had donned his armor and a satchel that held only the journal he now read more than the teachings of Orden in his free time. It was more important to him that he identify what exactly happen, besides he had memorized those teachings so long ago. When he finally exited the ship, Raige was waiting for him, and just as always, as quick to snap even at his gesture.

    Darin sighed as many of the men began to dig small holes, each of them surprised by the existence of Ivory beneath the surface. The sight brought a small smirk as Darin recalled Helrich's landing entry:

    We finally found that damned island Suvius has been going on and on about. I don't know what happened during their conversation, but ever since then, Suvius has had the general's ear far more than I. The thoughts of what poisonous words he has fed Eimund to convince Eimund of his maddening ideals, but Eimund has strongly urged me to watch my words when I speak of Suvius to him. This ex-squire has driven a wedge even through friendship. But I ramble on...

    The island is...something else. We tried to drive pegs into the ground for tents and found ivory underneath the salty sands. The men are curious, but more than that, they are unnerved by such a find. Suvius began to rant about uncovering the power of god and that none should dig or peg. He moved along the shore as if he were treading on holy ground, and the worse of it was that Eimund mirrored his reverence. Even as I write this, I grow weary of even the general's motives and state of mind. For my own sake, I will keep these thoughts in my mind and on these pages. Tomorrow, Eimund, Suvius, and six of us are to go deeper into the island, for what, I do not know. For now, I shall sleep with one eye fixed on that madman.

    Darin pulled from his perfect recollection of Helrich's words, blaming such perfect memory on how many times he had read the same excerpt. His hand rested protectively over the journal while he watched as Raige headed off with a hunting party. Darin smiled, knowing that if Raige had any say in it, he'd bring back the largest creature he could find to prove his worth.

    Thwack! Thwack!

    Darin turned in horror to see Gom hammering a peg into the sand, "Stop! Stop!" He hurried over to Gom, throwing his free hand around in the air. His other hand gripping harder against the satchel, "Don't! You might release the power of-!" Gom and the others all looked at Darin with furrowed brows. Darin recognized their look and cleared his throat, "Suvius found something on this island, we must treat everything as if it was what he found," The men breathed and Gom signaled for everyone to put their tents away, "We sleep on the bedrolls under the stars tonight, men."
    #12 4everDifferent, Jul 20, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2014
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  13. [​IMG]

    The citizens of Aldus were, by now, somewhat used to strange sights, or at the very least strange happenings. The scouts on the Wall with the sharpest eyesight caught the fall of the Aviary, a mass of rock that shed debris and a smoke trail as it slowly drifted to the ground, only to be caught by a forest of titanic hands that sprouted from the ground. For once, the citizens spoke of a 'miracle', 'divine intervention', that Ilium still walked Sunne and spoke through her prophet, Kairos. Like all good Aldus inhabitants, they all simply accepted it into their world view and continued with their lives; that was the creed of any Pegulis scholar: to mass knowledge until the patterns became apparent.

    What of the storm? The spotters on the Wall also watched the clouds over the Aviary. The smoke and sparks that trailed out of the doomed rock seemed to infest the sky above it, forming purple-black-blue anvil clouds that blew eastward at an alarming rate. To anyone who saw the mass of arcane energy coming, and remembered how the towers would absorb bolts of lightning from the towers ... the outcome was no less than expected.

    Now, they had finally run out of reason to be stoic. Pegulis scholars were used to the arcane and unknowable: they eventually reached it in their studies, an axiom of Sunne, or they were subjected to strange happenings all the time in one of the six towers of study. For one to disappear cleanly, vaporized in a cylinder of white like how a gardener extracts a weed from his garden, was a little too much outside their realm of comfort.

    Shouts, desperate shouts range out from the entrance to the last two towers, the ones that cried into the sky for their mother. The guards shouted so hard, spit flew from their lips. One broke formation and was rewarded with his appropriate death. A ring of golems blocked both entrances, and behind both stood ...

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  14. Lorekeeper's Assembly - One Day Ago, burlywood
    Artorius had arrived a bit before the other three hirelings, excited by the prospect of getting out of Aldus and seeing more of the world, of this nation at least. He'd missed opportunities before, but this one wasn't going to pass him by. Now he stood before members of the Lorekeeper's Assembly, making his case as to why he might be hired to go along on this trip to Barvelle.

    While ordinarily a story like the one he told might have been rather difficult to believe, the sages had all but been taken in by it. The extent of how little these people got out was made obvious by their quickness to place trust in Artorius. Most within Aldus would have been skeptical at the very least, but the Lorekeepers weren't exactly familiar with the councilman's son.

    A small number of those hooded figures spoke amongst themselves in hushed tones, hiding their eagerness to have him along as they considered his appeal. Once they glanced back to the young man who waited for their decision, idly tossing a small metallic ball without taking his eyes off of the group. When the sages all turned their full attention back to Artorius, he slipped the ball into a pouch he wore at his hip and crossed his arms behind his back.

    "Very well, you will accompany Brother Merdan to the secret city. The others will arrive soon, then will I further detail the job."

    "I appreciate the opportunity to aid our fine nation, good sirs."

    "Of course. We are grateful to have your assistance in ensuring the completion of this task", the tall, thin sage spoke, a smile visible on his half hidden face, "Having a noble hero such as yourself along will certainly make this easier going, should there be trouble on the way to Barvelle."

    Beyond Aldus' Wall - Later That Day, burlywood
    "So, is what the sage said true?", the dark haired warrior asked, glancing over toward the young man riding at his right.

    To his left, the huntress scoffed, "Don' tell me ye fell fer that rubbish."

    "I'll admit he doesn't look like much of a warrior, but it could have happened", the knight argued, "How about it then? Did you really single handedly destroy the monster on the wall?"

    Artorius shook his head, modestly correcting him. "Not single-handedly, no. I had some help."

    "But you struck the final blow?"

    "Aye, this scrawny lit'ol shite felled a golem three times 'is size. Prob'ly run off at firs' sight o'tha thin', cryin' fer 'is ma."

    "That's right, ser Heren. Narrowly avoiding a swipe of its scythe-turned arm, I thrust my sword deep between the golem's steely plates, into its magically powered core", Art told them with a straight face anyhow, as if he believed his own story, "I might have met my end there if not for my companion's heroics. Good man that he is, Dane shoved me out of the way just as the construct exploded, even took a shard in his shoulder in the process. The watch is lucky to have that man."

    If little else Artorius said was true, he personally believed that last line was at least.

    The fur-garbed Tavarkian rolled her eyes, clearly still not buying into his story. Her passenger, the sage who'd first mentioned Artorius' wildly exaggerated exploits to the group, still seemed to believe the tale. The guardsman did too. Maybe they believed only because they wanted to, because that meant that mortal men were capable of defeating such monstrosities even without need for arcane magicks. The threat the ghoul sage seemed to pose was truly terrifying, but with this it seemed parhaps less so.

    The draken didn't seem to care either way, it didn't matter to him. All that did matter was getting this done with and getting paid. Their idle chatter however, grated at his nerves. "Pipe down and focus on the path ahead", the irate lizard hissed, cueing a silence from the rest of the party.

    The Cale Estate - Shortly Before Departure, burlywood
    "You decide to leave at a time like this?"

    "And why not? I'm not exactly needed here and most of the women seem to be wary of me by now."

    "Lest you've already forgotten, your home is in ruin and there are still pressing issues to be dealt with."

    "Such as?"

    "The towers, for one. Some are still active."

    "Oh, I've no intent to set foot in one of those cursed towers ever again."

    "The refugees from Viridos are still here, no one seems to be taking that well."

    "What, you expect me to play diplomat and work something out between our people and theirs? Drive the birds out, maybe?"

    "Crime is out of control."

    "Last I checked, I'm not part of the watch. Anything else?"

    The older Cale sighed and lowered his head, his voice now slightly strained, "Do you realize how dangerous it is outside, son?"

    From the table they sat across from eachother at, Artorius' cheek rested on his fist, elbow on the fine wooden surface. The rogue glanced up at his father, his lips pulling into a frown upon noticing the worry written all over the man's face.

    "I survived the encounters in the towers, I think I can manage a short trek to Barvelle."

    "Just.. Stay safe, alright son? You're the only family I have left.."

    Artorius placed a hand over one of his father's, squeezing it firmly.

    Beyond Aldus' Wall - In the Present, burlywood
    Even now as the city had fallen well behind and out of the party's range of view, they could hear the Conjuration Tower's cries. For some they'd become little more than a neusance by now, others still saw them as an omen. Whatever people thought of the eerie noise the spire continued to make, no one could ignore it.

    "It's doin' it again. What do ye think-"

    Varika was cut off by a louder cry similar to the tower's, her brows furrowing at the interruption, but just as suddenly raising with the sound of an explosion just as distant as the tower's cries. Everyone turned to watch wide-eyed as off in the distance, a pillar of fire fell down from the sky.


    The force of the blast that disintegrated the tower sent a far reaching shockwave that ended in a cold gust that bit at their faces.

    "What in th' name'a Ilium was that?!"

    "That was back toward Aldus! Was the storm not bad enough?!", the man of the watch exclaimed, obviously a bit more rattled than his other companions, "The city is obviously still in danger, we should go back!"

    "No!", the draken roared as though the notion were completely unacceptable, turning away from the direction of the blast, "We keep going."
    #14 LVL1337N00B, Jul 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014
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  15. Eydis - Barvelle, #3B3178

    The crossbow kicked against her shoulder. The heavy string sending a large bolt across the range and embedding itself into the target at the far end.

    Quickly lowering the crossbow and grabbing a small handle pulling it backwards along the side another smaller string moved back. Reaching for a smaller quiver at her hip Eydis places a bolt with experienced hands and takes aim once again.

    It was as much training as it was mentally relaxing. Or it would be if it wasn’t for the last week’s events. Lowering the crossbow she looked at the poorly aimed bolt lodge itself into the wood next to the circle. So much for relaxing.

    With a sigh the girl collected her stuff and left the training range. She needed something else to happen, to distract her. Perhaps annoy that stupid blacksmith?

    Her steps slowed for a moment. No that idiot needed rest it could wait. Yet a few moments later she found herself looking at the entrance to the church. Chewing her lip hesitating, the decision was made by people exiting from it. Startling her and making her feel like a moron the anthro moved away with hurried steps.

    There was one issue with this city. The tunnels could be like a giant confusing maze even for a ranger.
    So when Eydis saw Ilsa talking to people, the girl was hiding in shadows before she knew what she was doing. ‘Eavesdropping on council members and a guard captain. Great work girl’

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  16. Unknown Jungle There was no path to follow. The forest was lush and filled of strange exotic plants. The hunting party followed but they had grown far less enthused about the hunt, it was as though this place was slowly draining their will. Raige could feel his own fear tugging but the task of finding food remained steadfast in the young wolf's mind.

    "Hold strong everyone, this is just another forest." He knew how false his words were but the men had to believe him. The forest of Tavark were composed of fir, and pine. Beautiful trees with strong dingy green needles and leaves. The trees that surrounded them now might as well of been alien for the hunters. They all had to rough through this.

    With every step the sound of strange animals, and the exotic bird life of the island only made the trip that more daunting. Raige tried to stay positive, but even he was starting to get a chill from the jungle. One of the hunters perked up. "Do you even have an idea where you are leading us right now?" His voice was accusatory and Raige had to act fast. "I am only searching for tracks of some sort, unless we want to start trying to take birds out of the sky I feel it is probably our best bet." The man grumbled and continued on; this time pushing past the wolf.

    "What good are ya wolf?"

    Raige resented the comment but did not let it show as he continued to lead onward. The sound of running water could be heard off in the distance. "We are near a common ground for creatures be weary" The man stopped in his tracks at the words, but then grunted and continued even faster. Raige was really starting to dislike this guy.

    "Comeon, if we don't find something soon we are all gonna starve, stop listening to this young whelp" The men seemed to respond eagerly to this and hurried past the young hunter. Raige tried to warn them. "Hold on if you move ahead you might rush into danger, or you could scare our game away." They ignored him and continued after Jodirn the old man with the attitude.

    A new scent, a not to distant scuttle in the bushes, and Raige knew they were in danger. Before he could warn them however a pain filled scream echoed over the forest and he was forced to rush forward. His bow was raised and ready and he pushed bpast the final bushes to see three large cats with bone like spines emerging from their skin like flesh. They had bead like eyes and saber teeth. Four of the other hunters including Jodirn were cornered across from him by the biggest of the three.

    "Dammit wolf do something!"

    "If ye don't we're gonna die!"

    Both of their voices were simultaneous, filled of fear. Raige slipped back into the trees as quietly as he could and readied his shot. The felines could smell him, that much was easy to tell with the way they lifted their direction. The question was whether or not they were greedy enough to leave their cornered prey for his scent, though wolf in this case probably had a much more appealing scent for the creatures. Raige gulped and waited. One of the cats moved closer and closer to him, and the low growl began to tear at his will. Another cry of pain pushed him into motion, and he let the first arrow fly placing itself in the side of the largest creature and pinning him down. The one closest to him pounced.

    The cat landed almost over-top of him but Raige was only barely able to duck away from the creature. He discarded his bow for his fathers sword and attacked the cat from the side. The jungle rang with the clamor of metal vs the almost iron like talons of these beasts. They were feral and lethal with every attack.

    Just then a mighty paw struck him across the abdomen of his armor and he moved back with the blow. The large cat was relentless in its assault and continued to try and bite and scratch him to pieces. Raige hardly was fast enough or skilled enough to fight a creature of pure instinct up close, this was not how he preferred to do his hunting. The monster had reach over him, and that was bad in this situation.

    Another large paw came over head, and Raige moved to intercept it but was too slow. His eyes closed as if he expected the blow to be the last thing he'd see, and it easily could have been. By sheer luck the cats paw missed its mark and instead hit him in the shoulder. The blow was enough to knock him down, and the large cat was not about to stop at just that. Raige prepared and deflected the first few blows, before the cat recoiled to charge him again. He rolled to his feet and flung his blade up just in time to catch its teeth. The sword was giving way against the pressure.


    The voice belonged to Jodirn, and raige was surprisingly thankful to hear the man in that moment.

    "I am over here!" Raige shouted half expecting an arrow to come his way any moment and take this creature out. Raige glanced to the side and there stood Jodirn, but his bow was not raised. His eyes were glazed, almost frighteningly so. "What are you doing help me!" He shouted but the man only smirked in response before turning away from the scene and walking out of sight.

    Another strike came in and Raige did the only thing he could do pinned like this by the creature. He swung the sword with all of his might and cut the jaw leaving the sword lodged in its maw as it roared in pain. Raige scrambled to his feet and surveyed the ground. His bow was not far, he had to find it now; because fighting this creature weaponless meant death. The creature spat a few more times trying to get used to its new wound and then it closed its mighty maw as the sword in its mouth snapped in two. Raiges eyes widened and he searched even faster. Come on where the hell is it.. I have to find it. His mind was all hustle and bustle, the clock was ticking down and when the cat bounded on him again he would not be able to do anything. That familiar terrifying purr buzzed just ahead of him and Raige could see the eyes of the creature as it closed in.

    "Come on Where the fuck is it!?" Fear set in, and he scrambled blindly in the jungle; until. His hands grasped a familiar Tavarkian wood and he raised the weapon as the cat shot forward. Its feral intent was clear. The ring at Raige's finger buzzed and glowed an eerie blue light. An arrow flew forward, thought sloppily aimed and at its edge a blue aura darted around it. It was a horrible shot but the arrow took its mark anyways. From the neck of the creature blood spit out in a clean crimson waterfall. its head tilted and it fell to the ground as it huffed its last few breaths.

    Raige sat for a moment and gathered himself. The cat was ruined as far as food went but he'd survived yet another encounter. He was thankful. Then his eyes shot around him as if looking for someone. It was clear. Jodirn had left him to die, even after he'd saved the bastards life. But even now as angry and scared as he was that blank stare of the hunter was the only thing he could think about.

    Back at camp:

    "Sir Darin!"

    A hefty looking man trotted from the abyss of the jungle. Over his shoulder was a very large Feline carcass, and behind him two other smaller men carried another carcass, but Darin would recognize very quickly who'm was missing. "Sir Darin. We return with the hunt, but we come bearing solemn news." His voice was as hearty and genuine as it could be. "Raige was fell by one of these beasts, we could not return his corpse to you."

    The camp fell silent.
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  17. Base Camp, gold
    The bedrolls had finally been rolled out, all under what shade they could find amongst the cliffs and away from the forest edge. They were still unsure as to what inhabited this island so safety had to be protocol. Darin settled on h roll and, after a coughing fit, pulled out his- Helrich's journal. He flipped to the page he had earmarked and sighed before he began reading.

    We've been out here for far too long. At Suvius' request, Eimund and I, along with five others headed into he dense jungle only a day's past. If my mind were not so preoccupied by worry for Eimund and he condition of the crew, I would have wished to take longer out here to study the wildlife. This island is a land of exotic creatures, none of which I have seen before in my many travels. But I digress.

    We found something today in our travels through the jungle. It was a structure of sorts. If I had to guess, I would call it a temple probably constructed long ago. It's exact dating is hard to confirm due to the lack of dated artifacts. We've set up camp not far, but not close to the structure due to Suvius' rantings about desecrating such a holy site. It's total rubbish if you ask me, but Eimund will know soon enough. When we get to wherever Suvius is leading us and we find nothing, I'll finally be able to bury my blade in that madman.

    A sudden burst through the jungle edge had Darin slamming the book shut and hurrying to his feet. His hand rested against his sword and his eyes flicked mom warily to his shield that lay on the salty shore. It wasn't a threat and immediately, he relaxed.

    The silence of the camp was unnerving when the word of Raige's death was spoken out. Darin lowered his head and his heart broke for the passing of yet another person he was responsible for.

    You fail time and time again...

    Darin blinked away the words that invaded his mind. His head shook slightly, though it wasn't to wish away the sadness like most would have guessed. Darin swept up his shield and looked at Gom, "Gom, you and four others come with me. We're going to get Raige's body. A squire of the order deserves a proper going away."

    Gom nodded and quickly selected his four men and joined Darin at the jungle edge. Darin sighed, recalling Helrich's words about the exotic animals, and from the look of the kill, some not so friendly, "Eyes and ears open. Find Raige, get back to camp."
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  18. Old stories ...

    "What is magic?"

    "It is all around us, the essence of life!"

    "Can you live without magic?"


    "So how is it the essence of life?"


    "Again: what is magic?"

    "I don't know!"

    The tutor ruffled the boy's hair. "That's a good place to start from. That is where all inquiry (iiiiinqwerky?) begins, from nothing. Curiosity and skepticis -"

    "Arktus, come into the snow!" The boy beamed at his tutor with questioning.

    "Don't stay out for too long. You are not wearing your proper clothes."



    ... wait for me, Eirene!"

    Barvelle, teal "Arktus?"



    Ethelwen's voice snapped Arktus from a fuzzy memory. He folded his hands into his sleeves and smiled at his pupil. "Yes? What is it?"

    The anima pursed his lips, gnawed his tongue, finally spoke up. "You were in the middle of telling me about curiosity and skepticism ..."

    The Calm Sage's eyes snapped into focus. "Right! Right! So I was!" He continued walking down the tunnel, lit with the soft green-blue light of thermic gems, towards the General Assembly. As the anima continued in his job, their schedules slowly came into alignment, and they would spend an hour or so each day discussing things related to his tutelage. Arktus had forced the rescheduling of many activities, but to him this activity was the one he looked forward to most each day. He most enjoyed the flickering of the anima's ears every time he understood a concept, whether of his own volition or from Arktus' prodding.

    "Ignorance is nothing to be ashamed of, but willful ignorance is. An empty cup is merely a cut waiting to be filled ... filled with the tools of curiosity and skepticism ..."

    They continued to walk the halls.
    #18 unanun, Jul 27, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
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  19. Tavark The battle for Tavark felt like centuries ago, and yet it also felt as if it had happened just yesterday. Amara watched the sun rise and bring to light just how much the city had lost in the name of Tavark; watched families reunite and watched others crumple under the dreadful realization they would not see a loved one ever again. And she watched still as the Paladin, Darin, and his squire, Raige, chose to sail off to find answers. If the circumstances were different she would have insisted on going, or at least gave them an earful over how idiotic their little quest sounded even if it seemed to be the only way they could restore Suvius' victims to full health. She feared the worse but said nothing. Merely watched them depart from a far before stalking off to busy herself with one thing or another. She exchanged few words with Ture since he had saved her from Eimund, but nonetheless felt deeply indebted to him. Indebted and ashamed she was caught in such a pathetic predicament. There was so much she could have done!

    The huntress' feet dragged their way toward the great hall where a big meeting was being held. An invitation of sorts was extended to her out of courtesy and she considered not attending at all but at the same time, felt she owed something after simply giving up like she did. She hesitated at the doors. In a way it all felt surreal and just a tad bit moronic. She might have butted heads with General Horrikson and didn't agree with him on a lot of things, but the man still commanded respect even in death and this election going on might as well be a slap to his face. His daughter would now have to fight for his place and it was wrong. So very wrong.

    She forced on a smile and stepped through the doors. Some of the other attendees looked up and gave her a nod of acknowledgement, which she returned with a solemn nod of her own. She dodged conversation and settled herself in an unoccupied seat where she took off her bow - one given to her by a family close with her parents - and tweaked it needlessly. Since the battle for Tavark she hadn't bothered with hunting even if it would do both herself and the town some good. Instead, she offered her help to those in need of assistance within the town and kept to herself. On her shoulders, Tang was nestled against her neck, long tail loosely curled around
    it. His ears laid flat as opposed to being perked up at and alert, and his cane was hugged to his furry chest. The pair seemed to exist in their own little bubble.
    #19 Noctis the Devious, Jul 28, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
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  20. The Corrupt Madness Jodirn grunted at the Paladins words but he did his best not to show disdain. "Err Sir Darin, I certainly understand your feelings here. Raige was one of our own so we would have him back as well, but remember that you are the one leading us here." His words came across sharp. Night was settling in and the moon had replaced the beating sun. A cold chill was starting to flow throughout the camp. "Would you really send us all back into that jungle right now? We should at least wait until morning. If the creatures we fought are what have Raige now, its not likely there is a body to find Sir Darin. We would be walking blind for no reason but to appease the sense of goodwill, and the men are tired, and hungry."

    As the conversation went on Darin could not deny the merit of this hunters words. he didn't like the idea of letting Raige sit over night out their in the wild, but what choice did he have here. "I can go alone." He started to say, but this time Gom cut him off. "Sir Darin, You are the leader for this whole mission, if you were lost what would we do but settle back into the ship and sail off? I think we need to wait until morning as suggested." Gom looked on to Jodirn accusingly but said nothing more and the matter settled with a reluctant agreement from Darin to rest and wait until morning.

    Jodirn convinced the Paladin that he and his friends would take watch through the night, and the rest settled upon bed rolls and fell asleep gazing at the starry sky above. Darin seemed to fall out very quickly, and Gom and the rest were not far behind either. Jodirn turned to the other two that stood watch with him and as if their was an unspoken agreement the two nodded as they took point. Jodirn shot off into the jungle again.


    The final bit of sunlight filled in through the tree line and Raige knew that he needed to get somewhere safe. Night time in an unknown jungle was nothing he felt like dealing with, especially when he was down a sword. Raige cursed silently to himself as he held the broken weapon and admired it for what it meant. Apparently that wasn't enough to make it any stronger than average steel but It had at least saved his life today.

    Time seemed almost endless and the constant sound of foreign creatures in the darkness almost drove him mad just listening to it. He already hated the heated climate of the jungle and now he was forced to deal with sounds from creatures whom were obviously strange. He was on a branch, high up in one of the twisted trees, trying to fall asleep. Trying to get back to camp in the darkness didn't seem like a good idea. it took some time to settle into a spot but eventually exhaustion set in and Raige faded.

    Darkness, an Abyss of darkness and the silent echo of decadent whispers. Children, Men, women, all of them were hushed as if they were terrified something might hear them. Raige tried his best to piece together what they were saying but it was like trying to decipher 13 languages at once. He tried to get closer but to what he didn't know. All around there was nothing to be found. The whispers got louder he could start to piece together words.

    weakness, Useless, Coward, Death, Faith, Power, Hate, Love, Fear, courage. Raige could understand them. Then..


    Another set of words flitted into his mind.

    "God will save us."

    Raiges vision paired and he stood face to face with a monstrous creature formed of shadows. A single eyes with visible beating veins, It has a wicked smile of jagged teeth as long as small swords. Then The Darkness faded Raige was awakened with a start as something from below drew his attention. He caught himself before breathing too loudly.

    Below was Jodirn with his bow raised, an arrow was knocked and he seemed to be surveying the area for something. At first Raige thought of jumping down and greeting the hunter, but he remembered the cold lifeless gaze. That with what he'd just awakened from, he sat still, watched, and listened. Jodirn was talking with himself.

    "Stop!, No we have to find him and finish this, he didn't do anythi.. God demands it!"

    Raige continued to listen and slowed his breathing. He did not want to be found at all.

    "Darin will come in the morning, and if he. The wolf is dead, a rotted corpse for sparrows and carrion. How? What if? NO Dead, dead dead dead dead, he is dead!. If he appears though... If he appears God will judge him. God... Yess GOD."

    Jodirn vanished from view soon after and Raige relaxed a bit, but he was still tense from what he'd just witnessed. It was starting to make sense, and part of him wished it didn't. Jodirn was talking just like Suvius now, perhaps even a little more drastic than Suvius had been, but one thing was certain. Something wasn't right here, and Raige needed to get back to camp with Darin.


    Night faded. Raige did not rest easily that night, but he knew he had to move as soon as daybreak. The sun shined through the treeline and the young wolf anima climbed down from his tree. From there it was a simple matter of following his nose back to the camp. When he arrived the crew was dressing and preparing for a journey. Darin was on the far end of the beach looking out into the sea as if it were a phantom spirit. He looked sickly. Raige called for his friend. "Oi! Darin we need to speak!" Jodirn looked up at the voice and then recoiled back into his project nervously. Gom was the first to greet him as he clasped hands with the war beaten wolf.

    "Raige. You are alive! it does the heart good to know it. We were told youd met your end to one of the creatures." Raige snarked a bit and glared at Jodirn for a second before Darin was upon them and placed his hand on Raige shoulder, just as he always did. Raige was happy that much hadn't changed, but that didn't change what he had to tell his paladin friend. "Darin. Something is very wrong with this place and I have something you have to hear. First though." He pointed to Jodirn. "Hold that man so that he cannot run!" The camp fell silent. The calm before the storm.
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