The Witch and the Slayer

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by The Mood is Write, Dec 8, 2014.

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  1. [​IMG]
    This roleplay is between The Mood is Write and Matthias Cendrillion.

    A Wizard Slayer is found by a farmer and her son who live in a strange forest, and the woman takes him in to tend to him. However, he's nowhere near where he last remembers he was when he closed his eyes. Is there more to the woman than her simple home lets on?​
  2. The heavily-armored warrior grunted in pain as the giant's club struck him in the center of his chest, tearing the breath from his lungs. The aftermath was a testament to his tenacity; instead of being launched through the air or flung to the ground, the tremendous swing only managed to push him back a few feet. Small trenches formed in the dirt where he had slid, slightly bloodied by the bright red liquid that had been seeping from between the plates that composed his armor. The giant, a humongous creature with jet-black skin covered in glowing blue sigils, laughed heartily. The human was weak. How could such an insignificant creature hope to prevail against him? The bounty on the human's head was large, and as the monster saw it, well worth the gashes that had been left by his curiously-forged greatsword.

    Russ adjusted his stance, his features never giving away even the slightest hint of trepidation. His sword was held high, leaving him in an awkward position if he tried to block. Surely, the giant thought, he was out of his mind. But, if the human was so eager to meet his death, the monster was all too happy to oblige him. The club came up in a powerful underhanded swipe, aimed to catch the human in the jaw. He could almost feel his pay weighing down his coinpurse as the weapon curved upwards in a perfect arc.

    But the human was ready.

    With a leap, Russ leapt up and onto the incoming bludgeon. The runed giant's face twisted into an expression of rage as he moved- how dare his target avoid a certain deathblow? The creature got its answer when its expression became two expressions. The zweihander in the man's hands was brought upwards as he ascended, propelling him mere feet over his enemy's head. With a single cleave, the massive creature's skull had been bisected. It stood for a moment, not quite sure what to do before falling headlong onto the ground.

    The human spat at the corpse. This was not how one-man assignments were supposed to go.

    A barrage of arcane energy flew forth from beyond the clearing, striking the Wizard Slayer multiple times. One of the bolts impacted his weapon, taking a semi-circular chunk out of the blade. Like water, the greatsword simply flowed back together as if nothing had happened. The majority of the blasts that struck him simply vaporized into nothingness, their structure obliterated by the antimagical energies coursing through his veins. Those that did not break upon his unnatural defenses were simply ignored. What's a few blasts of fire when you've been trading blows with a giant?

    His assailant was a slight-framed man, clad in red robes with golden trim. His head was entirely bald, save for his eyebrows. His voice resounded in impossible ways as he commanded the powers of magic to strike down his target, but worry was growing on his face and in his tone. The Slayer snarled, and barreled right into the would-be assassin. The man fell to the ground as over three hundred pounds of flesh and armor collided with him, and his incantations died on his lips. Before he could recover, Russ picked the stunned figure up by his collar and placed his blade to his neck.

    "Start talking." the armored man commanded, his tone almost completely flat. His dark green eyes practically radiated malice as they bore into the barely-conscious man's face.

    The mage managed a weak laugh, and uttered a few quick words. His remaining energy fled his body in a rush of concussive power, obliterating his form even as the Slayer held him. Though Russ's resistance was able to shield him from the worst of the blast's effects, the raw power of the spell threw him back against a tree. He heard and felt something snap in his chest; a few ribs had just been broken, at the very least. Had he not been wearing his travel pack, that impact might have broken his spine. The world grew fuzzy, and the clearing in the forest began to fade from his sight. He gripped his greatsword in his right hand and coughed, trying to force his body to get to its feet- to no avail.

    The world went black.
  3. Russ woke in a small wooden house with preserved food hung heavily from the rafters. He was laid beside a wall, near nude, on a thin, padded mattress on the floor with a straw pillow and a quilt to offer him warmth and comfort. Neither were plush, but they kept his head off the floor and his body heat close. His head ached from the lasting effects of exhaustion, and his eyes were sensitive to light, and his ears to sound. His chest ached, and felt stiff. His bare torso was bound with light green, stiff bandages wound about it to keep pressure on those wounds which had before leaked blood. His dry mouth was filled with the taste of dirt, leaves, and vinegar, and though breathing was tough, it was not quite as painful as freshly broken ribs usually caused.

    The house was dark, lit only by a dying fire in the fireplace across the room-- in the direction of his feet. Beside him, another set of bedding like his own was occupied by a woman's figure, partially obstructed another set of bedding (minus pillow) that was wrapped tightly around a smaller figure.

    From what he could see of her face, the woman looked well-matured, with wild hair that was all curls and waves, and a round face with a few small lines of age visible in the shadows. Above her quilt, a lightweight white nightgown hugged her neck, though left her arms and shoulders entirely uncovered.

    On the far side of the room, opposite him, a shelf held what looked to be most of the small family's worldly belongings-- toys, clothes, tools, and other things lined the shelf neatly. His belongings, including his sword and pack, were neatly laid out on one of the shelves.

    On the side of the shelf opposite the fireplace, in the light of the moon from the two full-height windows, another room branched off, with neither wall nor door to separate the two spaces. The window was made with small, thick squares of glass, held together with lead and metal.

    The woman slept peacefully, despite eerie sounds from the other side of the wall-- sounds like starving men, of wood and leather on flesh and of clattering of old-fashioned weapons and armor, all in a slow, almost lazy manner, as though the ones making such noises were nearly dead and fighting desperately with their final breaths waiting on their lips.

    The woman made a noise, a soft huff as she shifted closer to the man until a soft forearm rested against his upper arm, warm from a night under blankets. This close, it was not hard to make out the darkened circles under her eyes, or the light scent of a woman's body, soap, and mint. Her hair, all wild, seemed to seek whatever way it could to escape the woman's head, despite being attached.
  4. The warrior blinked, unsure if he was alive, dead, or dreaming. He'd taken a great many journeys through the Forest of Mir before, and was absolutely certain that it wasn't even remotely safe enough to build non-fortified structures within ten miles of the accursed place. Giant spiders, trolls, orc tribes and hostile elves positively littered the place. With as much stealth as could be mustered, he slowly rose from the mattress, doing his best to avoid waking the woman or- judging by the size of the bedding- the child. His bare feet padded across the floor, his efforts hindered by the dull pain in his side. He carefully reached out and curled his fingers around his prized greatsword, happy to feel its familiar grip in his calloused palm. For lack of a sheath, he simply laid the silvery blade over his shoulder.

    He directed his gaze to the woman who had been beside him. She had a certain charm to her, he thought. Not young enough to be naive, but old enough to know how to get by. The evidence was plain to him. Despite her spartanly-furnished home, she not only took care of a child, but was also capable of stopping him from bleeding to death. He moved to kneel at her side, taking the quilt that had been given to him and draping it over her slumbering form. His body had long ago become inured to temperatures that weren't well below freezing. Besides, the cool air was a welcome change from the stuffiness he suffered within his armor.

    Before the Slayer could place his weapon on the floor and return his head to the pillow, the sounds from beyond the walls of the home reached him once more. He tensed, his head slowly turning to look at the nearest window. He almost didn't want to know what was out there. Fighting with broken ribs was a painful, difficult experience. And yet, it was imperative that he found out; not only was his own safety on the line, but that of the other two occupants of this home. He slowly edged over to the window, taking a cautious glance out to see if he could spot the source of the noises. His fingers tightened around the hilt of his greatsword as he half-expected something to explode through the glass and begin stinging, clawing, and biting at him as soon as he spotted it.
  5. Outside, a skeleton in armor dragged its sword along the ground, toward a man who was not only rotting, but disgustingly bloated. The skeleton raised its blade and clumsily sliced at the man, whose arm slid off not from the sharpness of the blade, but instead from the fact it had been touched at all. The zombie, and it could only be that, limped out of the way, jaw slack and eyes staring as the skeleton continued by. Creak, creak. The sound of weight shifting on the floor behind him gave away the approach of the quiet woman. "Don't look out. You'll put us all at risk." She reached forward to try to cover his eyes. She sounded right behind him. "Don't look at anything taller than you are, or we'll all die."

    Her voice was tired and quiet in the night, scarecly above a whisper.
  6. The Slayer fights off the reflexive urge to shove the woman away. It was a truly rare occurence for somebody to touch him out of combat, let alone touch his face. The fact that she'd likely saved him from an untimely death was more than most could claim that they had done for him, however, and so he allows her hand to cover his eyes without protest. With a nod, he turns from the window. Questions flooded his mind even as she spoke. Why would height matter if he happened to look at something? What were all these creatures doing here? Why did the woman choose to live in such a hazardous location? It would have to wait, he thought. Discussing anything at length right now seemed like a decision that would negatively impact their life expectancies in a sudden and dramatic fashion.

    He gently removes her hand with the hand that was unoccupied by the sword. "Interesting neighbors you've got." he rasps, his words somewhat broken up by his impeded breathing. A small smile forms on his face in amusement at his own joke. "But if you'd prefer that I don't exterminate them, then I'll oblige you."

    He began to trudge towards the mattress, his movements significantly more slowed and sloppy now that the adrenaline that had been flowing into his system had been cut off. With a barely-audible clang of metal, Russ placed the weapon on the floor beside the mattress with all the love and tenderness that Ellith might show to her own child, placing himself on the mattress face-up with a similar amount of care.

    "I'm in your debt. When it's safe to speak at length, we're going to have a lot to talk about." he mutters, trying to keep his voice at a level that won't disturb the things outside.
  7. She smiled slightly at his joke, though her expression remained troubled. As she watched him lay down, she sighed and nodded. "I'll explain everything in the morning." Tiredly, she walked back toward the bed, her feet quiet this time-- perhaps the creaking from earlier having been from her trying not to startle him? She laid down slowly with another sigh and pulled her quilt up over herself, only to notice there were two.

    The woman looked to him, then spread one over him, at least as far as she could reach without sitting back up. Her arm was clumsy as she swiftly went back to sleep.

    Morning came almost too soon for the woman. She woke as a square of sunlight appeared on the rafters, the first break in the darkness of the home, and put away her bedding before she dressed, not caring enough to go out of sight of her guest to do so, then hurried to the kitchen and fed the stove, stoking it and letting it ward off the morning chill of the home as she grabbed two mismatched buckets and hurried out the door on bare feet, her red dress softly swishing about her muscular calves as she darted quietly from the house.

    She had chores to do.

    She paused after leaping over her son, then nudged the boy a few times with her foot before she hurried out.

    The boy grunted and curled up tighter into his cocoon of quilt.
  8. Russ did not sleep for the remainder of the night. Simply knowing that creatures with hostile intent were so close by was enough to guarantee that. He layed on the mattress until the sun came up, concocting plan after plan in his head to charge outside and elminate the monstrosities. Skeletons and zombies, he knew he could handle. But the way she spoke about things taller than him... what did she mean? He began going through the list of creatures he knew of that relied on their foes seeing them. The list was short, and none of them seemed to fit the bill.

    When the woman rose, Russ was still awake. He sat on the edge of the mattress, clad in a black tunic and leather boots that he had retrieved from his travel pack. He raised a brow as she rushed to leave the house, noting that she carried no weapons. None he could see, in any case. He regarded the child for a short moment, reminiscing about his days as a trainee with the other young Slayers. Their instructors were not nearly as benign as the boy's mother had been. Remembering that there had been the groans of the dead and the damned had echoed outside these walls but a few short hours ago, he tossed his blade into a sheath, secrued it to his back, and made his way towards the door. Surely, that many abominations couldn't have simply departed. Could they?

    He strode outside with a somewhat heavy gait, looking for both the woman and any potential enemies.
  9. The boy watched him, his face like his mother's, and then retreated further into his cocoon.

    When Russ got outside, there were no monsters in sight. Instead, the morning light illuminated a clearing with tall grass parted by a forking hard dirt path. The woman walked along one, heading with her buckets toward a fenced area that was attached to a low barn. She walked without fear, and the sounds from the night before were completely absent. She opened the gate and walked through, seeming to be unaware that she was followed.

    At the edge of the clearing, various fruit trees grew, a border between the oaks and pines and the woman's home. Each was laden with fruit, some of which didn't seem to belong to the local area.

    If his gaze followed the fork to the left, he could see a covered well, and the edge of a field. The area seemed peaceful, and unmarked by the previous night's activities.
  10. Russ stood still for a moment, taking in the scene. None of it made an iota of sense. Places that the undead inhabited for any amount of time tended to take on dead, withered characteristics as the foul energies that emanated from the horrid creatures contaminated the area. There was no trampled grass, no fruits rotting away even as they grew, and no stench of decaying flesh. There were no corpses, and no signs of battle. What sort of wizardry is going on here? he thought.

    The swordsman chose to follow after her, his mind ablaze with countless questions that needed answers. Just where in the nine hells was he? Where did the monsters scurry off to? Who was this woman, and what was she doing in such an odd locale? How long had he been unconscious? How had she managed to drag him and all his gear so far from where he fell? He trudged along, doing his best not to aggravate his wounds. His footfalls were loud and heavy as he moved, making no attempt to conceal his presence.

    "Hello?" he called out as he stepped past the fence.
  11. She looked back, surprised, at the bottom of the ramp that led into the barn. "Oh." She blinked a moment, then smiled. "Good morning. I didn't wake you, did I?" Her dress was simple and mostly unadorned. Her apron was cleaner than an apron should ever be save shortly after laundering. Her hair, so wild during the night, was bound into a bun at the back of her head. So modest the night before, her day clothes had a neck hole too large, and the unlaced slit at the front left much for an eye to take in. Her skirt ended just below the knees, and she wore wooden shoes on her feet that she hadn't had inside the house.

    "How are you feeling?" She grunted as she pushed the door open. "Your ribs-- how is breathing?" Her muscles flexed as she pushed each heavy door into place.

    The sounds and smells of farm animals waking and ready for a new day greeted the two as Ellith stepped into the barn. "Walk and talk, I have a busy morning before breakfast." She smiled back at him before she looked around the barn, trying to decide which of the animal-related chores to do first.
  12. The warrior shakes his head. "No, I've been awake for quite some time now." he answered, stepping up the ramp. The scent of livestock washed over him; he suppressed the urge to wrinkle his nose as he advanced. Farming, while necessary and respectable, simply wasn't in his blood. Russ took a scant few seconds to absorb her appearance and go over his mental checklist of traits that indicated trouble. She didn't have backwards hands, so she wasn't a Rakshasa. She'd been walking in the sun, putting most vampires out of the equation. Her hand wasn't deathly cold when she covered his eyes the night before, leaving the vast majority of undead out of the question. A lack of slitted eyes eliminated beastfolk. He allowed his muscles to relax, now fairly sure that she didn't intend to bring him to a grisly demise.

    "I feel like the most powerful dwarven ale ever made was poured down my throat, and the hangover just decided to rear its ugly head." he replied, walking to match the woman's pace as she moved. "So not too bad, for a few broken ribs. Breathing's a bit tough, but I'll live." he continued, waiting a few seconds before adding a tentative "...probably."

    Only now recalling that he hadn't seen his wounds being dressed, Russ hastily lifted his shirt and gave the bindings a more thorough examination. Now that the light of day showed on them, it would be easy to see that the exposed portions of his chest were covered with scars of every type imaginable. Burns, gashes, stab wounds and abrasions detailed a long career of war, from the battlefield to the back alley. For his part, Russ found the bandages satisfactory, and allowed the shirt to fall into its usual position.

    "You tended to my injuries better than most medics I've met would be able to. You've done this sort of thing before, I take it?" he asks. "And I don't suppose you'd like any help with your tasks, would you? I can't just stand here while you do all this work."
  13. (Down the ramp, not up.)

    The woman laughed at his answer. "You will if I say have a say in it." She pushed the doors shut behind him, remembering how she lost a day of chores to an escaped hen. She tilted her head as he lifted his shirt, then smiled at his praise. "I've had a lot of practice, actually. It seems like only a few weeks after one guest leaves us, another comes, usually hurt."

    To his question about helping, she answered simply. "Actually, it would be nice having some help." She thought a moment, then offered him the bucket she brought in that had straw filling it about a third of the way. "I have some chickens. All you should need to do is go into their pen and gather the eggs. Do so slowly, and they won't notice you or object to you. Also, if you see any large clumps of feathers, please grab those, too. I might be able to make make something useful if I have enough."

    She pointed to a door with wires in criss-cross over its gaps. "I'll be milking the cows."
  14. Russ nodded, accepting the bucket and moving towards the chicken pen. "Gotcha. Eggs and feathers." he said in confirmation. The Slayer entered the pen, being sure to move slowly. He didn't find it difficult, considering the fact that he still had a chest full of broken ribs that could do some serious damage if he engaged in too many sudden movements. Not wanting to bleed to death tends to be a powerful motivating factor. It must've been an odd sight; a hulking brute of a man with a titanic blade worn on his back was collecting eggs as a mundane-appearing woman milked the cows.

    "...I just realized, I never caught your name. You saved my life, and I don't even know what to call you." the warrior said, collecting a number of feathers and tossing them into the bucket before scooping up any eggs; hopefully, they could shield them from any trauma sustained whilst the container is being moved about.. "I am Russ, of no surname. Wizard Slayer and mercenary, at your service. Who do I have the honor of speaking to, ma'am?"
  15. The woman stiffened slightly at his introduction, and tried to cover her reaction by shoving some hair behind her ear that was already there. Slowly, she continued milking one of the cows in the stalls across from the chicken room. "I'm Ellith. Farmer and mother." She forced a giggle, hopeful he wouldn't pick up on her unease, let alone the reason for it. "My son-- the bundle of blankets in the house-- is Beliam." She squeezed downward on the udder with first one hand, then grasped another with her other hand and pulled down, tightening as she went. "As for saving your life, all I did was what anyone should do." She continued milking, doing her best to shrug off the 'Wizard Slayer' part.

    It made her stomach cold, just thinking about those two words, but she forced herself to remain chipper. "You had questions last night, I think?" She called over, barely raising her voice. The animals, aware they were being tended to, had quieted enough for calm conversation.

    Thank goodness for that much. She felt certain that if she distracted him with other subjects, he wouldn't notice her fear. At least also, her hands weren't shaking. She hoped her face wasn't pale.
  16. Of course, Russ had no reason to suspect he'd caused Ellith any trepidation. And why should he? In his land, people with that descriptor were widely recognized as a human subspecies instead of people with a specific occupation. Even if he'd been looking right at the woman, he'd have failed to recognize all but he most obvious signs of fear. Strength on the battlefield rarely translates to interpersonal skills; in fact, many would say that seeing the varied reactions of the dying to be a mitigating factor, slowly muting the fighter's ability to deal with those who didn't work in such bloody areas of occupation.

    "A whole lot of questions, actually." he answered, suddenly withdrawing his hand. He'd reached for the eggs too quickly, causing one of the chickens to give him a solid peck on the knuckle. The minuscule wound began to bleed insignifigant amounts of blood, and he cursed under his breath.

    "The creatures I saw outside. Where did they go? Where do they come from?" he queried, slowly reaching for the eggs once more. His efforts are rewarded with another peck to the knuckle, and he resists the urge to simply swat the chicken aside. Once again, farming is not in his veins.

    "And what did you mean when you told me not to look at anything taller than me? Is there some sort of height-based hierarchy that the people of this land observe?" This time, he's successful. It's not because the chicken allowed him to grab the egg, but because he simply chose to ignore its incessant pecking and scratching. A number of diminutive cuts and gouges mark his arm, most of them not delivered with enough force to pierce his calloused skin.
  17. The woman listened to his questions quietly, and then thought for a couple minutes before she finally decided on an answer. "They always go away during the day. I'm not sure why or how, because I've never watched, but they're always gone when morning comes, and unless the Black Men are here, or a Hisser explodes, there's never a trace that they were here, except occasionally a dead, eaten animal." When she blinked, the unwanted image of a man who'd left her home at night jumped to her mind. He was little but bones, and it had taken every ounce of her self-control not to vomit as she moved it into the forest, away from the house, so her son wouldn't have to see.

    She shook her head and blinked, trying to banish the image. There were more questions that needed answered. "I don't know where they come from, either. They just walk out of the forest." She paused as she noticed she'd stopped milking, and began again, fingers pushing the milk through the udders.

    "No, no hierarchy or anything like that. There are... certain monsters, called Black Men. They're very tall, and they know when someone's watching, and they hate it. They make an awful sound, and then they appear closer and closer and they rip apart whoever's watching them. The only thing they fear is water, and even then, some will kill themselves to kill a person." She kept her eyes open, refusing to let herself see the images of what the Black Men had done to another unfortunate guest.

    "Any other questions?" She could feel and hear the uneasiness in her own voice. She hoped he wouldn't ask more about the monsters.
  18. The warrior pondered for a short moment before giving her his final question. It's not really the last of what he believed he needed to know, but Russ had found that requesting answer after answer from a person tends to cause them to tire of their interrogators presence.

    "Just one more... where in the nine hells am I?" he says, the genuine wonderment quite evident in his query. "I've taken scores- perhaps hundreds- of journeys through the Mir Forest. In all my time, I've never encountered, heard rumor of, or even conceived of a place like this. It defies my every expectation. What is this place, and why have you chosen to make your home here?"

    He placed the filled buckets outside the chicken's enclosure as he finished speaking. A few barely-noticeable flecks of blood marred the otherwise white shell of some of the eggs from the inconsequential wounds the hens had caused to his already-scarred flesh. "Unless there's some special property that makes it easier or more rewarding to farm here, the danger you seem to put yourself in by living here makes little sense. Would it not be more sensible to pick a tract of land in a less lethal location?"
  19. The woman smiled. A common enough question, and the answer came to her lips easily. "It wasn't always like this. When I was a girl, my parents moved me out here to protect me from backlash. I was pregnant with my son at the time, out of wedlock. A farm away from people seemed ideal, and it was only after we settled in that the monsters began to appear. By then, I'd become attached, and did notice the monsters only appeared at night. We learned quickly about them-- how to deal with them, how to kill the ones who were persistant, and how to avoid looking at night." She stood and picked up her pail, done with the morning milking, and set the pail on a shelf beside the door before she hooked a lead to the cow's nose ring.

    "Are you done with the hens?" She looked toward him, then frowned at the bright red. "Are you alright? I'll help take care of your hands once the cow's out. The sheep and pigs can wait." She walked toward the open door and unclipped the cow, who wandered up the ramp and onto the grass. Ellith turned and walked back, standing before Russ. "Give me your hands, let's see how bad they are."
  20. The warrior looked down at his hands, only now taking the time to survey what harm the assorted pecks and clawings might have done. He was bleeding, yes, but these weren't exactly critical injuries. "It's not that bad, and infection probably won't set in. If it does, it probably won't have much effect. I've been struck by blades laced with things worse than what you'd find in a typical barn." Russ offers, holding his arms up regardless. Irregular criss-cross scars run up and down his flesh, each varying in depth and width. What isn't scarred is burned; what isn't burned is calloused. The marks of a dedicated (if not overly reckless) swordsman.

    "...fuckin' assassins, attacking my camp three nights in a row."

    But something else is there. It's not seen, but felt. One might not be able to help but to feel a certain wrongness about him when in such close proximity. A raising of the hairs on the back of your neck, a certain dampening aura that seems to cling to his form. It's a barely-perceived heaviness on your shoulders, a subtle pressure behind your eyes. Perhaps there was a reason the chickens were so quick to act aggressively towards him.
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