The Lion and the Shield

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Esthalia, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Prianne found the hot sun to be irritating, especially today. Her deep emerald eyes narrowed as the waving reflection of the heat rising off the earth blurred her vision. The small leather wrapped canteen at her side jostled as her long slender legs carried her to the stables. The prized war horses she raised for the Assassin order were birthing today, and she could only hope that was the only responsibility she would find in the next twenty four hours.

    Her ranch was located on the outskirts of Valeena, a city she rarely needed to travel to. The Order made sure she had what she needed, and in return-she did odd jobs for them by night. Her talents were vast, though no one who knew her by day had any idea. They had made it very clear to her that her double life was supposed to be an illusion-and that it was. Prianne employed only a couple assistance, but neither of them had found their way to the ranch, the reason unknown. She didn't mind-knowing she was better trained and more likely to trust herself over others.

    The mixture of hay and horse dung wafted under her nose, making tears rim her eyes slightly. Though she worked the stables for years, the initial smell always stung her eyes. She traced the soft pads of her fingers over the hardwood beams that held the structure of the stable in place. She cooed, approaching her favorite mare, a light tan and white horse that was heavy with foal.

    “There’s my girl” Prianne smiled, opening the narrow gate to enter the pen and embrace the horse. Her thick skin was warm to the touch, but despite the heat-cooler than Prianne’s body. She ran her fingers over the horses mane, intertwining her fingers in the silky strands.

    “You kept me out of trouble today; I am thankful to you Elsie” Prianne smiled, grabbing the flat bristled brush and using it to gently dust off the mare, listening to her happy whinnies.

    Prianne wasn't lying when she said she was thankful. The assassin order that she had been sworn to, gave her the responsibility to care for the horses-instead of going on a very important mission with the others. They were out searching for a rogue member of the Viper. Instead, she got to foal her pregnant mares, and take a smaller job to take care of a wealthy aristocrat with a foul mouth.

    Elsie seemed spooked for a moment, her hooves stomping the dirt and hay bed of her pen. Her tail lifted and Prianne could tell it was time. She patted the large mare on the behind, helping her into a comfortable laying position. Prianne left the pen to gather her birthing supplies, something she kept close at all times. She had a large bucket of water to fill at the troth. The other mares began getting restless, feeling the suspense in the air as they all sensed Elsie’s labor.

    Within a couple hours, there was a new stallion in the world, a stunning grey and white horse that Prianne named Veldur, a swift name for a war horse. The muscled foal was attempting to stand, like the many foals she had birthed before him. His mother licked at him sensitively, a passionate love in her actions as she cared for her child. Prianne helped the mother pass her afterbirth and left the pen to wash up, once again happy to bring such a beautiful being into the world.

    As she watched a newborn foal take his first clumsy steps, It was entertaining to think that this wobbly babe would one day soon become a stead of destruction, carrying a fierce warrior or assassin on a back supported with thick, gleaming silver armor. Just as she once was a meek, fragile child- this horse would see many battles and too much blood.

    Prianne made her way to the stallions, untying the foal’s father and saddling him. Marduk was a fitting name for a stead so powerful. He had seen more battles in his years than Prianne had raised horses. The “blood bringer” as they called him, was a gift from the order when she had successfully murdered her own father, who was wanted dead by a very powerful and wealthy ally. For her ability to keep herself distant and murder her only living relative, the order gave her Marduk- an even trade in her eyes.

    Prianne walked Marduk to the main house, where she instructed him to wait. It was something unique to her horses, the ability to listen to human command and actually fulfill them. The thick stead nodded his head in confirmation, just like he had been taught to.

    Once inside, Prianne readied herself, dressing in her typical ‘go out and kill someone’ attire. Her armor was a bit strange for an assassin, which gave people the impression her profession was more of the ‘personal pleasure’ type. Requests from men for sexual favors wasn't uncommon, especially in the city. Her armor was lightweight and tightly fitted to her battle trained body. Her dominant arm was free of any plating, while her defensive arm was covered in thick metal scales-like an attached personal shield, easy to deflect oncoming attacks. Her breasts were covered in the same type of armor, but it ended scantily at her rib cage, leaving her entire abdomen and navel exposed. Something only a seasoned fighter was comfortable doing. Seeing as her stomach and hips were clean of any scars, one would know she was successful at dodging any attack toward that exposed area. (Picture if needed: View attachment 17861 )

    It wasn't the most pride bringing fact of her lifestyle, but being a woman assassin, Prianne was trained to use her feminine features as a distraction, giving her the upper hand in battle with lecherous and fantasy prone men. She flipped her head over, tying her shiny black hair up into a tight bun fitted atop her head with a bit of leather. She took some charcoal, drawing thick black lines under her eyes to somehow conceal her true appearance. She added a venomous looking green lipstick to the disguise, knowing how distracting the slightest out of norm appearance was to most people.

    Once she was fully dressed, Prianne went outside, mounting Marduk and taking off in the direction of the city. Her orders were simple; hunt down the royalty before the coming of the next week.

  2. "There is nothing more vile then a viper. Beings who act as men, but belong not to the Devil nor God. From such unnatural abominations the roots of all evil are sown. For through their hands only destruction and pain can be birthed. Woe be unto any who dare cross blades with them, or is foolishly enough to beckon for aid. For where ever these mutants slither; only death will follow."
    -Prophet Nirvalhal, Book of Retribution 22:20-

    Ulfric, the possessed.

    Ulfric hated the taint of city life, from the aroma to the vice riddled streets. He found the entire affair tiresome. The idle bantering of the locals didn’t help much. Ranging from whimsical rumors to disgust regarding his appearance. Many folk still feared his kind, the blood in his veins were strong and his features clearly that of an Aederanian. To make matters worse the scars on his body and his demeanor were clear evidence of his more vile origins. That being a former member of the house of vipers. With nostrils widening the feral man took in the filth of this Victorian city. Its beautiful architecture and stone streets but an illusion.

    Like makeup on a pig it failed to properly guise this city’s true face. Rather than prowl the streets during the day and deal with the insults of the local populace. Ulfric would take root within an abandon and isolated alley. Leaning against the wall as his bicolored eyes wandered skyward. The minutes became hours, as the sun now crept behind the horizon. A curtain of darkness engulfed the land as both the moon and sea of stars provided illumination. The subtle chirping of the crickets reminded him of better days. In which he knew no sorrow, before his people were butchered by both the state and his house. The arches of his lips would contort, reflecting a smile which seemed genuine. Birthed from these pleasant memories of old.

    But as quickly as he slipped into this partial state of torpor, he would awaken. Once more having to face the swarthy, frigid reality that those days were gone. The people he once were fond of butchered like animals. The cries of the innocent sown into his flesh harrowing a gruesome tale. Void of an clemency, from women to children, sick and old none were spared the sword. Violent images of suffering and loss plastered itself on his mind. Grinding his teeth and clenching his fist tightly Ulfric would strive to keep such image at bay. Turning around as he sent his fist flying toward the stone wall. His knuckles connecting with great force before pushing such thoughts aside.

    With hands now sliding into his dark leather pockets, the viper would step out from the serenity the darkness wrought. Making his way down these empty streets until he reached the marketplace. The whores of this city were on the prowl, advertising their goods to any men foolish enough to waste their coin. Even now as Ulfric passed by them these women called out to him. Such women were the only ones to ever give him the time of day. For discrimination was always bad for business. And his coin was just as good as any other man’s.

    Their calls would only be greeted by silence, this reaction invoking frustration as they slung various insults his way. All of which attacking the size of a certain appendage as well as the weight of his wallet. One might wonder why such a wound festering with misery and vendetta would traverse down these roads. In truth he was here on business, looking up the whereabouts of a certain general who was involved in the massacre of his people.

    Seeing how the whores would be a waste of time the mutant would press onward, silently making his way toward the center of this settlement. There he would abruptly halt, permitting his gaze to avert toward a beautiful water fountain. It was that of a man and woman deep in love. A popular fabled of a prince and elven commoner who united this realm and sown the seeds which would sprout one day into this town. It was at this time that Ulfric felt the eyes and scent of a predator. Someone was stalking him…though who would elude him for this moment.

    Knowing if his instincts were right they wouldn’t reveal themselves until he ventured into a more isolated part of town. The mutant would make his way down a nearby alley. Eventually branching out to a narrow street in the slums. Keeping his resolve and bearing intact Ulfric would refrain from looking behind him or acting out of the norm. His animal like instincts inherited from his mutated flesh and soul would serve him well. Granting him a rather frightening level of perception without the use of his sight. If they should make a move he would know long before the distance would be closed.
  3. Marduk’s thunderous hooves-steps echoed off the cobblestone pathway leading into the outskirts of the city, turning heads of meek, country folk as they carried on with their day of trading and commerce. Like any other time she travelled to the city, she was echoed by suspicious eyes and gossiping mouths. The chittering, chirping whispers were always annoying to Prianne, but today seemed a bit different. Her orders were to find a man who seemed to escape the reaches of her companions, which was not an easy thing to accomplish. Marduk whinnied as a group of tattered people crossed the road directly in front of them, absolutely no regard for the danger the thick stead and his lustrous rider represented. </SPAN></SPAN>

    “Damned whore of death, you embody all that’s wrong in the world” A woman hissed through clenched teeth as Prianne directed Marduk through the smelly bodies, his long black tail swishing up and hitting the bitter naysayer in the dirt covered cheek. The stallion huffed with excitement as the grumbling woman retreated back to the large trading tables and stands; defeated by a horse. </SPAN></SPAN>

    She was a bringer of death, it was true, but being called a whore was a bit too much. Prianne had only had one lover in her life thus far, a fellow assassin named Jace who served as a teacher to her in her late teens. She had been infatuated with him since their first training session, his swiftness pinning her against the splintering wood of the abandoned shack within seconds from the start. Their love had been breathtaking and completely devastating. It sent a haunting shiver down her spine and even to this very day, she remembered the feel of his body against hers. </SPAN></SPAN>

    Prianne was lucky to learn her lessons early in life, just as the clan wanted. The most difficult lesson was that of how to regret, because ultimately it was her love for Jace that forced her to murder him. The deed had come to her in the same perishing flight that her current mission had come. A carrion bird dropping out of the sky in a twisting tornado of perfectly timed, poisonous death. </SPAN></SPAN>

    Jace had been attempting to find a way out for them, a new life, despite everything they had been told. It was his life for hers. She dispatched him from his earthly form with a quick and painless stab to the back of the neck, knowing exactly how to relieve him as honorably as possible. An attack he had taught her himself.</SPAN></SPAN>

    Prianne shook her head, fighting back the horrid memories and focusing on her task at hand. She was supposed to find the mutant with dual colored eyes and kill him; simple enough. Her eyes scanned the large buildings that blocked out the sun, giving Marduk some well-desired shade to cool his body in. Prianne continued on, finally reaching the center of the hustle and bustle. She dismounted Marduk, running a hand over his long muzzle. She cooed to him, clicking her tongue and smiling. She removed a couple sheathed daggers from his saddle bag and clicked them to her belt on a series of hand-made metal snaps. She attached a powder bag to another clasp next to her hip and padded it confidently. </SPAN></SPAN>

    “You know the routine my friend. Wait for my signal.” She smiled and gave Marduk a swift nod of her head. The midnight stallion turned in place with a shake of his muscled neck and began walking back toward the entrance. The occasional idiot attempted to grab his reins and steal him for their own, but Marduk was quick to teach them a lesson; with tail or hoof. </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

    “Time for a drink” Prianne mumbled to herself, not enthused with the idea of mingling with the toothless uneducated masses of the city. She rolled her shoulders back to relieve the stress that was preemptively building on her shoulders. It wasn’t long after that, Prianne found herself in the tavern, looking at the short balding dog-like bartender. His cheeks were puffy and red, like he had just been yelling at the top of his lungs. She sat down at the bar, the creaky barstool shifting under her weight. </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

    “I don’t suppose you want to talk?” She snapped at him as he eyed her suspiciously. His reddened arms worked at twisting a cloth within a glass, smirking as he filled it with a light ale and slammed it down on the counter. His chubby fingers pushed the glass toward her, the low lights of the tavern reflecting off his sweat coated scalp.</SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

    “I-uh, rather not get me’self in the middle of it” He laughed a low, hardy sound that Prianne could have sworn made her skin tickle. “I’m a barkeep by trade, nothing else I want that badnot a trouble maker" Prianne couldn’t help but envy him. Her whole life all she wanted was what she couldn’t have. </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>
    She downed the ale and nodded to him, letting him scoop up the glass and fill it again. "I've got time to kill until night; why waste it being sober?</SPAN></SPAN></SPAN> "​

    The bartender let out a booming laugh, his hardened beer belly bouncing with his quick inhales. He turned around, filling up their mugs for the umpteenth time, spilling a bit on the floor from his drunken lack of coordination. Prianne had been enjoying her time with the jowled man, listening to his wildly elaborated stories of bar brawls and promiscuous wenches.

    The Night had finally come and the 'normal' folk had gone indoors. She would rather walk with perverts and murderers than common folk, they simply freaked her out. She was lucky to find what looked like her target walking down a narrow side street. She stalked him silently, walking like a casual citizen would without any trouble. Just as she was just about to make a move when a slimy man with missing teeth grabbed her arm, spinning her around. Prianne sighed with aggravation as the man ogled her body, making a small vein in her head pulsate with viciousness. </SPAN></SPAN>

    “How much for a ride then?” spittle flung from the spaces in his mouth, bits of food and plaque stuck to what teeth he had left. Prianne remained silent, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. The man seemed to get irritated, gripping her arm tighter and stomping his brittle, over worked foot against the ground. </SPAN></SPAN>

    “What are ye’ stoopid!? I asked how much!” </SPAN></SPAN>

    Prianne looked down at the ground quickly before dropping to a crouched position and sweeping the man’s legs out from underneath him. She moved swiftly, kneeling over him with a dagger to his throat. It happened so fast that many passerby’s didn’t even realize the goings on. The man stammered and spat, scared for his life. He held his hands up, giving in. Prianne shrugged her shoulders, pressing her blade against his neck, watching as a small trickle of blood trailed down to the ground beneath them.</SPAN></SPAN>

    “Be lucky I don’t send you off right now” she got up and tucked her dagger away, leaving the man with soiled trousers and less dignity than he started out with, trying to find her target.</SPAN></SPAN>​

  4. The slums served as a constant reminder of the extent of corruption within these walls. The folly and greed of a king depriving his people of luxury. If there was one thing Ulfric had learned in all of his years, was that the politics of the court never worked in the favor of the common man. Those which were nonhuman were tossed like trash to be forgotten. Being stripped of both their pride and culture, forced to live under the oppressive hand that is man. These garbage littered streets could be the likening to the ever decaying condition that is the empire. Recent advances and war only furthering the deprived conditions of life within these walls.
    Those which willingly and foolishly surrendered freedom for the illusion of safety these walls wrought. Would ultimately find themselves lacking both. This aspect of the human condition often stricken this viper with sickness. Though to be more accurate this disease crossed breed between all manners of races. With hands still resting in pockets the mutant would make his way down these narrow roads. Whispers of his coming and going lingering within the town square and marketplace. Most spoke out of fear, presuming his presence to be a sign of coming ill events. As if his very presence was some sort of vile omen.
    Such idle bantering was half true. Ulfric came to this city seeking one thing, the death of a monster. But the monster he hunted was neither a demon nor some brainless creature preying on man. Rather a man himself, for humans stood the infinite potential for both evil and kindness. And at times could become the worst monster of them all. Even now as Ulfric traversed the slums he could sense the fear ridden eyes of the locals. Peering at him through the blinds of their windows; foolishly presuming the shadows of their homes kept them both safe and void of detection. While they clung to the shadows by their own volition, Ulfric himself was forcing bred by them. Lived and was taught by the darkness. In many regards he was the physical embodiment of the shadows.
    Ulfric’s nostrils would widen, his lungs filling with the aroma of a drunk. Turning around the man would see a dwarf stumbling down the streets, bottle in hand. A common sight in most regions and one this mutant was familiar with. As funny as this may sound, drunks were a good source of information. Assuming you can sniff through all the bullshit. For a drunken man has trouble holding back and is easier to sway. That or a drunken man can be susceptible to violence. “Hey you duel eyed prick…how are you doing?’ The dwarf called out to him, currently unaware of his being. No doubt the bottle clouded his vision. Stepping forward the viper would respond.
    “I think you should focus on finishing that bottle. Like a real child of the stone.” Light heartedly he replied. The dwarf busting out laughing. “Looney little human aren’t you? That or you’re a prick with a little dick! I bet you think you can out drink this dwarf eh?” His response typical for his kind, thus evoking no real negative reaction. “I wouldn’t dream of taking you on. It is clear you’ll beat me due to experience alone.” Ulfric retorted, portraying a somewhat human side. “Smart man. If you aren’t drunk and a human then whatchya doing here for?” His words somewhat ill posed. “That’s because I am not a human and seeking some information.” Ulfric replied.
    “Well piss on my back and tell me it’s raining! You look human to me! Unless I’m really that far gone…What sort of information are you looking for?” The dwarf clearly not as drunk as he first appeared. That or he was one hell of an actor. “I am a viper, or was a viper. I seek information regarding the whereabouts of Leviette.” His words causing the dwarf to become stricken with silence his eyes scouting and surveying Ulfric cautiously. “No shit? You don’t look like a snake or a monster. Fuck it, you’ve pulled my cock long enough. The least I can do is give you a reach around in return.” His words as poetic as ever.
    “You’re quite the poet dwarf…and comedian; the name is Ulfric.” The mutant introduced himself. “Pleasure to be sure Ulfric, Yordin the name. I know the man you seek.” This coming somewhat as a shock, still for the moment Ulfric would follow this lead. “Where can I find him?” The dwarf pausing once more, his fingers now stroking his beard as he thought to himself. “You must be a traveler. He lives in that big castle there. He’s the duke and ruler of these parts. Some reward for the great civil war they say. Are you going to kill him?”
    The dwarfs question causing Ulfric’s face to alter to that of concern. “Aye I see, no need to answer your face says it all. Good, that bigot bastard deserves this. Let me come with you…I’ve wanted to cut that retards head off since he took office. Plus with me by your side you’re guaranteed two things…alcohol and women. For the ladies can’t resist the dwarf….”
    Ulfric doubted very much he’d be of any help. Still the company and potential guide will prove a refreshing change. “I could use a stiff drink when this is over…” The dwarf laughing at his answer. “And I can name a few ladies who’d be needing a stiff rump around if you catch my drift.”