Reign of Winter: The Snows of Summer

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Boss Frost, Dec 25, 2013.

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    The muffled screams of her captive did not dissuade her from her task. In fact, it only encouraged her more: each scream from the old woman was an epithet, a curse, a promise of pain. They echoed nicely in the winds of the icy realm, and when the final spell was uttered, the screams stopped.
    She smiled, at the sudden silence, looking upon her companions. In particular, she smiled upon the man in heavy robes - the one holding a bloody sacrificial dagger. He was tall, but thin. His hair hung off his head in thin and messy clumps, as did his beard. He reminded her a little of a willow tree in winter, a comparison he rather enjoyed. His eyes betrayed the power his frail body held, and has he gazed upon her, he gave her a yellowed smile. "Ah," he said in the foreign accent, "Then it is done. Good. I would return to my own world as quickly as possible."
    She feigned sorrow at his words, "Oh? But we were to be having such fun..."
    He snorts, "Perhaps you might. Me? I'd rather not be around when you decide I'm a threat and do me in like this old bat."
    "Ah. You are a lot wiser than you look." She gives him a cold look, dismissing him with a wave. In a flash of snow, he was gone.
    She, however, rose from the throne to step across her icy floor - the fresh blood of the sacrifice already starting to freeze. She speaks to the corpse: "Even the fresh life-blood that you have given us begins to freeze... how delightful." She caresses the cheek of the old woman's corpse: "Do not worry. You will not be the last... The time has come."
    She turns from the altar, throwing open the doors to the balcony with a blast of magical wind that threatened to shatter the icy doors. She looked out upon the dark snow... threw her head back, and began to laugh. "I will rule henceforth, and for all eternity! Let my realm grow infinitely - cover all of Golarion...
    "My reign... has begun!"

    The Snows of Summer

    Soon after, in the far-off country of Taldor...
    Knights, fair maidens, heroic adventures, and righteous quests—these are the legends of old Taldor. But the once-powerful empire has fallen from its former glory. Now rival nobles battle each other with bitter knights and proxy armies for personal power rather than honor. A smoldering truce with Qadira, the desert nation to the south, again threatens to ignite into war, and Taldor's daughter states - Cheliax and Andoran to the west - look down upon her with contempt. Yet there is still greatness in Taldor; a stone foundation under the flaking gold adornments. Sons and daughters of forgotten royal bloodlines hear change on the wind—but is it the whisper of greatness to come, or the death rattle of an empire long past its prime?

    The sun shines proudly upon a village surrounded by trees and forest. The village is Bellis, within the Verudran Forest. Situated at the fork of a river leading down from the elven kingdom of Kyonin and the dwarven Five Kings Mountains - as well as it's close proximity to the country of Andoran - made this village very prosperous indeed. Great wealth flows freely through the bustling town, which has made a name for itself for it's high-quality wooden items, created from trees harvested in the forest.

    On one side of the river, in the forest, stands Ayollo. The warm waters would be fine for a swim, perhaps, and he stands there - so close to his destination of Taldor. Though the riverside town of Bellis was not the town where his letter was to be delivered (the town of Heldren was, further down the coast), it was one more step on the already-long journey from the far northern reaches. The fishermen on the river appear to double-take at his appearance: they have never seen someone so hairy! However, in the typical politeness of the nation, the Taldan people offer a smile and a wave if he notices them staring, before returning quickly to whatever they were doing - most of them a little red with embarrassment at being caught staring. Their children, however, are not so quick to turn away - laughing and waving for as long as he stands to wave back.

    A raft and its owner rests nearby, a sign proclaiming 'Eddy's Ferry' propped up against the side of it. Resting against a nearby tree, the owner's hat rests over his face. A fishing pole is gripped loosely in one hand... his faint blue, webbed hand. He wore no shirt, revealing that the light blue tone of his skin appeared to cover the entirety of him. Gills flutter under his arms, on both sides of his ribcage, it seemed. He is very lightly muscled, with an icon worn upon a necklace: a green leaf with water dripping from it. He wore shorts, his webbed feet likewise bare. His face could not be seen under the hat, but beyond his humanoid body type: he probably isn't human. His toes flex in tune with the song he hums - enjoying the sun he's resting in, one arm propped behind his head. Also tapping in tune with the music: a powerful frilled tail, tipped in the fins of a fish.
    #1 Boss Frost, Dec 25, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2013
  2. It had been a long journey up to that point. Nothing that really bothered him too much. He wasn't made for a sedentary lifestyle. If nothing else, the Vanara really appreciated the warmer weather.
    His quarterstaff as a walking stick in one hand and a small apple on the other, Ayollo greeted the Taldan folk quite happily. Especially the kids, since he was taller than most of them.
    Ayollo was starting to finish his apple as he noticed the sign. Perfect! A chance to confirm his directions. He looked toward this presumed 'Eddy'. Sleeping? Then he noticed the finer details: The gills and webbed digits. And that tail! Ayollo's own tail curled in amusement.

    "S'cuse me?" Right, sleeping.. "S'cuse..!" He repeated with a slightly louder voice. "I'm assumin' you're Eddy? With.. a ferry?"
    #2 9aia, Dec 25, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2013
  3. "Eddy, yeah." The man responded, moving the arm from behind his head, to tip the hat up, revealing his face. Long, dark blue hair drifted down to the center of his back and over his chest, woven with strands of river-reeds and shells. His eyes lit up at the sight of the vanara - his ears rose. Frilled, like the ears of a sahuagin. Another frill rose, atop his head - rising slightly like a mohawk atop his head. The expressive 'fins' twitched and fluttered as he looked upon the monkey-man, finally offering a smile: "An' this is my ferry!" His tail tapped the raft nearby.

    He began to reel in his fishing line - there was nothing on it, but there might be business afoot. He hopped to his feet, before tossing the pole onto the boat, next to a wood-and-bronze trident. He rests a webbed hand on his hip, before thumbing across the river with the other hand, "Need a lift? It's two copper for a ride, but the ride's free if you've got a story to tell. This isn't usually the case, I'm just sort of... interested... in whatever you are. I've never heard of a hair-elemental, so I doubt you're a demihuman..." He grins, jesting with the monkey-man.
  4. He hummed softly in surprise, stepping back to let Eddy stand. Ayollo finally finished his apple, core and all, in a swift bite. After he was done eating and stifling a burp, he puffed up his chest and grinned his usual toothy grin. "I am a Vanara and my name is Ayollo! I need to head to Taldor. Part delivery an' part rescue party." Ayollo tilted his his head slightly multiple times in consideration. "Mostly delivery right now, I suppose."

    His chest deflated a little as he palmed the back of his neck, chuckling. "I ain't no particular hero, mind you." On that note, his shoulders slumped a little. "I don't suppose you've ever seen another of my kind before? Silver furred? Taller than me by, oh.. " His free rough hand rose a good 5 or 6 inches above his own height. "..this much?" Hey, it didn't hurt to ask!
  5. "As a matter of fact..." Eddy began, "...No." He shrugs, "Sorry, I haven't seen anyone of that description. If you're headed for Taldor, though... well, you're in it." He points at the shore below his feet. "You've been in it for a while to get to this point... though this is awfully close to the Andoran border. If you're looking for a particular town, I actually know a bit of the Taldan villages."

    "Can't say I've heard of the Vanara. We don't get a lot of... well, I suppose we do get a few strange folks in Taldor, mostly planes-tainted folks like myself, or gnolls coming up from Qadira to raid for slaves. I'm an undine." He adopts a relaxed stance, tapping one hand against his hip in beat with a song in his head. "I've got water-elemental in my ancestry. As a result... well." He gestures at himself. He seems very well-suited for the water. "Human parents, too. Was a real shock for them, but I don't think I've shamed them any."
  6. Ayollo's eyes widened as Eddy began. His face quickly fell after that. Darn..
    He watched the other as he spoke. Wait, really? Well, darn. He wished that Nadya gave him more specific directions. Eddy would continue to speak and Ayollo would still listen as he dug into his pockets for that letter. When he pulled it out and Eddy mentioned he was an Undine, Ayollo hummed once again. "Well, a first for both of us then, huh?" He grinned happily, his tail swaying and curling. "You've seen your first Vanara, and I've seen my first Undine." The world sure was interesting.

    He looked down at the letter. Perhaps there was a name or village name on it that he could work off of? It had been awhile since he looked at it, after all. He kept it snug in his pocket. Not that he wanted to pry into Miss Nadya's business. "Lesse here.."
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  7. The letter read:

    Astrid, My dear cousin:
    I know you hear my complaints about them in each letter, but I am absolutely certain that those blasted witches are up to something really big this time. They have been gathering old women from all over Irrisen. For what purpose, I am not sure... But it cannot be good. I have heard tales of children being stolen as well, to pilot the chicken-legged huts that patrol the borders of the country. I hope Heldren is a more peaceful place: I loathe the thought of letting the witches win, but I can't let my children suffer the same fate as by husband. We will be setting off around the same time this letter reaches you. Get the guest-room ready. Also, for the sake of the gods, hide your damned red dragon items. I know you are proud of your heritage, but it scares the children and likely any prospective suitors to high-heaven. Signed, Nadya Petska.

    Eddy smiles, not the type to read over shoulders: "Any luck?"
  8. Ayollo mouthed the words quietly. He stopped as the finished the line 'I hope Heldren is a more peaceful place'. The Vanara smacked his lips softly while he tucked the letter away in his pocket. He could still taste the sweet apple from earlier. Delicious!

    He looked to Eddy and smiled. "Heldren, it seems. That's gotta be around here, yeah?." The words about Witches.. old women and children being taken.. Ayollo didn't want to think about it. He hoped Nadya and her children were doing well.
  9. Eddy whistles, "Heldren? That's a week and a half travel on foot, with any luck. Brigands, goblins, monsters, mean-spirited aristocratic youths with too much time and too little sense... However, it's only three days travel via the waters. Right down this river, then follow the coast right there. It'd be six days on most rafts... But I have a few advantages in and on the water a pure-human can't hope to match without years of experience... Or magic," he admits with a nod.

    "Still might get attacked, but with less travel time, I don't think it'll be much of a big deal." He gestures at Ayolo, "Can you fight? I charge a little more if I have to do all the fighting to protect passengers. I'm capable, but it's nice to have help. I ask, because it looks like all you've got is your clothes and a stick. A very nice stick, mind."
  10. Ayollo snorted softly at that aristocratic youths remark. He nodded as Eddy continues to speak. That would make sense.

    When asked if he could fight, he chuckled. "This stick ain't just for show, y'know. I can fight just fine. I am a monk after all." He puffed his chest out with pride once more. "Trained for years back home across the seas to be quick on my feet an' just as quick with my attacks!" With a hearty laugh, he settled down though his tail kept swishing and curling about.
  11. "Monk?" He asks, brows furrowing for a moment in confusion. "Oh! You're one of the... martial artists, right?" He smiles, curiously glancing over the vanara, "Sort of a fun way to do it, isn't it? We've got all these weapons and armor, and you fight without them. I guess that's sort of a way to make sure you're never unarmed?" He shrugs, a little ignorant of the whole thing, and it shows. "Well, get on the raft, then." He moves over to it, ushering Ayollo on.

    Once on, Eddy pushes off the bank with the trident nearby. The raft bobs slightly in the water, but stays relatively safe-seeming, the current taking hold and pulling the raft and it's passengers downstream. Eddy stands near the back of the boat, directing their movements - not only with the trident, pressing off of rocks, but his tail in the water like a rudder. "Just try to get situated. Fishin' for passengers isn't as fun as just fishin'." He grins.

    "So... monk. I think about the only thing I know, other than the fact that you use your bodies to fight... and I think you lot actually challenge each other to fights when you meet people of different styles? Or the same style? To see how you've improved since the last time you've met?" He shrugs, "Actually sounds rather fun, but I'd prefer to choose where I fight than have it happen randomly... which I suppose is why I've never really left the Taldan waterways."
  12. "Martial Artists, yeah!" He confirmed for Eddy, nodding sharply.

    Ayollo climbed onto the raft, settling himself to be comfortable. It wasn't half bad, really! He likes to stay optimistic. He was grinning like a fool as he looked about. It had been awhile since he traveled over water. He considered using his tail to fish a little to help out Eddy.

    He listened to Eddy, and shrugged. "I suppose. I mean, I haven't seen any fellow students from where I trained at. Then again, I don't look for fights. I would prefer peace than anything else." He paused. "But, if it came right down to it, if they're a bad person.." Ayollo palmed the back of his neck. "..I would fight."
  13. "Ahhh. I was about to ask you if you wanted to try a spar. I'm curious how I'd fare against a martial artist... And, while peace is nice... Our world is a dark one. Doesn't look like it on the rivers of Taldor..." he gestures about: the buzzi g of dragonflies, the laughter of children, the whiz zing of fishing lines. "...But it's because of those willing to fight that we have these moments. The forces of Evil aren't about to stop just because the forces of Good choose peace. Gotta use some of peacetime to prepare for... Less peaceful time."

    Eddy grips the symbol he wears upon his necklace, nodding. "But! If you're not in the mood, I can bring us up to full speed... You'll need to sit down, of course." He chuckles, offering a wave to a nearby set of children who are trying to gete his attention. "Eddy! Do the thing!"

    He looks to Ayollo, "Mind if I indulge them? Won't take long."
  14. It was such a nice place too. Ayollo looked about with sadness. He wondered if the people around here were even aware of the sudden blizzard back when he had met Nadya. It just seemed too bizarre to not know about it. He hoped that wouldn't spread to around here.. or anywhere else, in fact.

    Ayollo's thoughts were jarred from the children. He laughed gently and nodded toward Eddy. He held onto his quarterstaff and leaned against it casually. "Go right ahead!"
  15. Eddy grinned, before turning and diving from the raft into the clear Taldan waters. He always loved to be under the water: it was a restorative feeling for him, like returning home after a long trip. For a few moments, he simply floated there, feeling the warmth of the sun on his blue flesh. He looked up at the raft he had just left, before a powerful motion of his arms and tail shot him off like a rocket - he was faster in the water than most beings were on land. Indeed, he could move at speeds that would rival that of a land-bound horse, and likely keep it up indefinitely. He chased fish for a few moments, before turning to look at the children who asked him there in the first place.

    He did not seem to come up for air, his figure moving through the water until he was directly under the kids. He moved himself, directing a hand up, standing on the river bottom... With a thrust of his hand, the current shifted: rising from him like a jet. Above the water, the children laughed as the underwater 'geyser' launched them into the air, a few feet above the water - before they crashed back down into the waves, surfacing with a laugh. Their parents, to the side, shook their head disapprovingly - several of them smiling. This was something Eddy just... did, from time to time.

    It didn't take long at all for him to return to the boat, water sliding off his skin: which actually appeared to be short, waterproof fur. He smiled himself, laughing at waving at the children. "I'll be gone for a while! Later, folks!" He turned to look back to Ayollo, "So, what'll it be? Relaxing river ride, or top speed?"
  16. Ayollo laughed and clapped joyously at the stunt. His laugh, at certain points, became very monkey-like. Like 'Ah-ahh!'

    Always in a good mood, but understanding the possible urgency of Nadya's letter, Ayollo waved his hand. "Somewhere in the middle, yeah? Heheh."
  17. Eddy nods, before closing his eyes. He breathes deeply, raising a hand to the symbol on his necklace and calling upon a force deep within himself... it takes him just a moment to feel the energies swirling about in his heart, and his senses extend around him, even to the raft and the river beneath it. He issues a mental command... and the raft begins to speed up. Water ripples around it, having been called upon to improve their speed. The river itself seems unaffected save around the raft. Eddy opens his eyes with a smile, "There we go. A little surge of water." He continues to navigate with trident and tail, "We're on the Sellen River now. We'll reach Star Bay just before nightfall, I believe. That's one hundred and twenty miles from here. On foot, quite a trip." He grins, "We'll make camp on the beach when we get there."

    Sure enough, the trip went smoothly. The two travelers passed by fishermen and barges on the way. Pastures of grazing animals and farmland could be seen on the rolling hills once they left the forest - the river got larger as they went, but no less safe. Eddy's control and knowledge of the water proved valuable in that regard: he even pointed out a few fish and plants on the riverbank, showing his knowledge off a bit. It seems, through conversation, that the ferryman didn't actually know much about anything else: beyond common knowledge, he didn't really know a lot about the world - or it's people. It's very likely that he's never been to school at any point, or even been educated beyond what life had to teach him.

    As the river got wider, the boats got larger. They passed by the massive warf-village of Cassomir, hearing the shouts and jibes of the sailors upon the docks and the boats, both male and female. A few rude comments were aimed their way, as well as a handful of lewd ones. Eddy remained undaunted by this, instead focusing his powers to navigate the boats as they went through - he apologized, wanting to forage for food rather than buy it from the village of Cassomir. "The Taldan people are proud and, for the most part, very polite. These sailors aren't Taldan - they're from all over Golarion. Please don't let them taint your view of us."

    The second port city they crossed had massive ships: the city of Ridonport. The sailors here were a little more polite to the passing raft, though a captains and crew seemed annoyed at it's presence: "Worried they'll hit us," Eddy explains. As opposed to Cassomir, the city of Ridonport was a lot cleaner-looking, with painted white buildings instead of the dark wood of the previous village. Eddy took the time to wave at a group of people wearing a compass-like symbol on their clothes, "Pathfinders. Adventurers. You can trust a Pathfinder, they're good people. Very picky about membership - they like to include people that help others. They have an adventure-for-hire deal... Hey, perhaps after you've delivered the letter, you can ask them about the silver-furred friend of yours? The Pathfinder Society is spread all over Golarion, I'm sure if they haven't seen him."

    Out of the river and into salted waters, the sea looms out before them with the sun setting. Now in the Jagged Saw, a nasty outcropping of rocks that followed the coast. "Larger boats wouldn't be able to come through here. It's suicide. Which, of course, makes it a perfect place for brigands, hermits, and certain aquatic menaces. We'll be fine as long as we're not on the boat at night." Eddy points to the massive cliffside looming off the coast, "The tide will bring us up that wall a bit. There's a hole a good distance up that can only be accessed when the tide's up, so we'll camp there and leave before the tide goes down again."

    They wait for the tide to rise, before Eddy ties the raft to an outcropping nearby. It actually takes a few moments of climbing, but they enter the relatively dry cave. A crab protests their entry with raised claws - quickly caught by Eddy, smiling at what will likely be his dinner. A few others attempt to scuttle away, before being scooped up by the aquamancer. He grins, ignoring the fearful pinches of the creatures - they soon have a fire going, lighting the cliffside cave and offering them some heat and dryness. The crabs are soon cooked, as Eddy helps himself: "Ahh. The sea's proven to provide us a fine meal for our efforts." He grins, snapping a leg off and consuming the soft flesh within with gusto. He looks to Ayollo, "So - delivering a letter and looking for your friend... you've got a tale to tell, don't you? Well, we don't have anything to do for a while... I'd love to hear a bit of it. What news do you bring from... wherever vanara come? What martial art do you pursue? What about your friend - is that why you've chosen to wander?"
  18. Oh, he knew it was a good idea to take a ferry. It was a nice ride and the warm breeze along the way relaxed him, reminding him of home. He listened to Eddy as they went. Many of the things Eddy spoke of might have been common knowledge around here, but being from across the sea from a largely different culture, things like that interested him quite a bit.

    While passing the first village, Ayollo waved off Eddy's plea to not misunderstand the Taldan folk. "I'm aware Vanara are not a common sight around here, it's no problem!" He wouldn't let things like that get his mood down. No way!

    After the second port, Ayollo also noticed the Pathfinder Society. He sat up a little straighter, humming in interest. Nadya mentioned them before. Eddy had a good point too. Well-traveled people like them would surely see his friend on their travels. "Hmm.. It'd never hurt to ask!"

    And of course the Jagged Saw. Ayollo was more on guard at this point. Scary.. but Ayollo held onto his quarterstaff a little tighter. He was glad they made camp though. Ayollo helped when he could. He knew a thing or two about surviving in the wilds. He had to do quite a bit of saving to get to this point, leaving himself with just a tiny handful of gold pieces to work with. With that, he could only stay in so many inns.

    Ayollo's staff was propped up against the rocky wall close to them while they ate. The crab meat was surprisingly juicy, though he wished there were more of it. He looked to Eddy. "I suppose I do. Heh, like I said, I ain't no hero. I come from across the sea from Tian Xia. There are quite a number more Vanara there than here. Ah.." Ayollo leaned back against the cool wall, picking up his staff and turning it in his rough hands. "I trained in an.. "academy" of sorts. It kinda ran in the family, y'know what I mean? We either trained with our bodies or with simple staffs." He grinned a little. "Graduated after years of training. Not number one, but in the top ten. I was pretty satisfied, even if my parents weren't. After I graduated.." His tone was a little more soft. "My friend, Dizmu.. heh, don't mind me gettin' sentimental, Eddy." He wouldn't cry, he wouldn't cry..

    "See, we.. were almost like brothers, him an' I. As close as you can get. We had each other's backs. Things could get pretty rough, mind. Senior members at the time flaunted their status quite a bit. We would fight back if it came down to it, even if we got black eyes. 'Least we got them together, and trying as well." Ayollo looked at the engravings on the front end of the quarterstaff again. They were exotic and almost tribal-like, but one could tell it was made with a lot of care.

    "After I graduated.." Ayollo continued, "Dizmu made this for me." He looked proud of it. "Man, you shoulda seen my face." His toothy grin soon fell. "And then.. I-I dunno. A few days after that, most people thought that he was actin' strange. Distant an'.. an' cold. Then.. he just left. No note, no nothin'. Not even a goodbye." He shook his head, biting his lower lip as he gripped the staff harder. He looked to Eddy, his expressioned softened somewhat.

    "So I left too. No sign of him in Tian Xia so I sailed West. It's been.. oh, 'bout nearly a year since I left. An', well, here I am."
  19. Eddy listened to the tale, looking rather concerned when he found that the vanara's friend started acting strange. His concerned look only grew when he saw the effect it seemed to have on Ayollo. "Sounds like some sort of magic." He gets a bad taste in his mouth, "Arcanists mess with everything. They say they're looking for knowledge, but all they do is harm the world and those around them. The story's the same in every tale that includes a wizard or sorcerer - they're irresponsible." His frilled ears and the frills around his shoulders and back begin to stand on edge.

    "Six years ago - I was eighteen at the time - I was swimming in the river when I heard a song. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, so I went towards it. The singer was a woman... she appeared gorgeous to my eyes. She was not afraid of my appearance - in fact, I only seemed to excite her. I felt the need to please her, so I would dive for riches in the river, and explore the depths of the ocean's shipwrecks, unearthing treasures for her. I showered her in wealth just to see her smile." He curls his legs under him, his tail thrashing angrily as he spoke: "For two years, we courted. My friends and family told me that I was acting differently, but I wouldn't listen. I alienated myself from them for her. She would take me into town and speak to those around me - and they would laugh. I thought nothing of it, I was just glad she was happy."

    Crab shells fly about the room with a 'crunch', a fierce typhoon forming in Eddy's eyes. "Then she left. It was a month later, during a broken heart, that a Pathfinder found me. He said he was tracking down an Aspis Consortium member with a penchant for charm magic. I had been under a spell the whole time - used and cast aside when she found out someone was on her tail." He shakes his head, easing the rage from his voice. A hand goes to the symbol around his neck, "Perhaps your friend is stronger willed than I. I do know that I never wish to be controlled in such a way again - and I never want to see nor hear from that seductress again."

    After a short, awkward silence, he turns and reaches for his things - a bedroll and a few blankets. He crawls to the back of the cave, setting them up so that he may sleep later. Outside, a splashing could be heard in the water not made by the tide. Eddy's ear-frill twitches.
  20. Listening to Eddy's own tale made Ayollo feel empathetic. He sighed heavily, thinking on that statement Eddy mentioned. Controlled by magic? It.. wouldn't be the last thing that could happen, Ayollo knew that. Dizmu was gullible, but his heart was in the right place. As far as Ayollo knew, there was nothing magically significant about Dizmu. He was physically stronger, yes. His size and strength could match a bulky human, but heck, he wouldn't hurt a fly if he didn't have to.

    Ayollo noticed Eddy grabbing for his things. Right, it was pretty late, wasn't it? The Vanara reached into his own bag for his bedroll, blanket, and his heavy cloak for some extra warmth. He didn't notice the odd splashing that Eddy might have noticed. His mind was elsewhere.
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