It was not long before the 'lesser' races began to fight back, however. Those races whose capitals had not been utterly destroyed, the lamia, dark elves, humans and gnolls rallied armies against their oppressors. Cities were reclaimed and rebuilt over time, and the mortal races started anew. This beginning was not without loss, however. The dragons devised a horrid, complete method of genocide that common folk refer to as the Slaying Spells. Massive amounts of magic that require a copious sacrifice in blood to complete. Within two years, the magics eat away at a specific race. No matter how far, how well hidden or how strong...none could survive once afflicted with the curse. By the end of the rebellion, the dwarves had been annihilated down to the very last man. Still, life had to go on. The new mortal leaders called the Paragon formed a specialized militia known as the Legion of Ashes to recruit every able-bodied man, woman and child to fight the dragons.
I'll skip over the gory details and get to the present. It's been about twenty-four years since the Day of Ashes. For the moment, the battle between the races of the Paragon and the Children of Fire seem to be at a stalemate. The Paragon control the western half of Norr, as the dragons have the east. It seems as if the dragons could call upon the power of Slaying Spells only once every decade or so, or else we would all have been killed long ago. Dwarves, goblins have gone extinct...minotaur are the latest victims of the horrific magic, and will be gone before the year's end. Humans and gnolls were proven early on to have some innate immunity to mass spells, although mankind's was more complete than that of gnolls. This came to light when the dragons created a curse that affected the mental stability of the gnolls over the course of a decade...now the canine peoples are less than feral animals walking upon two legs. Although humans could not be affected by such magic, they were actively hunted down by draconian forces. This genocide has left humans beaten and fear-stricken, their population severely reduced. The dragons, a rarity even during their resurgence, have drastically improved in terms of numbers. Although not as powerful as the dragons first seen, these smaller beasts are still deadly in their own right.
For now, we fight. The war for godhood has been put on hold as a struggle for mere survival is waged. Whose side do you stand on? Will you bring an end to the dragons once and for all? Or do you see the wisdom of these greater beings and seek to aid them in their right to rule? Perhaps the scars of the last war run too deep and you cannot bring yourself to work with those of other bloodlines? The next chapter of the story has yet to be written...what part will you play?
Things to know about Norr
Norr is a single, mega-continent that could be likened to Pangea. Other lands include the Ruins of Imperian, a once great country that is now little more than a series of destroyed castles and settlements. Terra is the great mountain range that divides Norr into eastern and western parts, which is in a state of perpetual war between the forces of the Paragon and the Dragons. The Ashwood is a massive forest that has been partially burned down, creating an ash layer coating the forest floor. The Jurial Plains are the most heavily occupied region held by the Paragon, housing the major cities and the council that controls the Legion of Ashes. The last land is at the most southern portion of Norr: Umbridge. A warped jungle of darkness, man-eating plants and home to the Nightmarians. All throughout Norr, lying underneath is a layer called the Sublands. It is a maze of tunnels and caves that house the deep humans, dark elves and once upon a time, the dwarves.
The current leaders of the Paragon are: Shokunen Helvaras of the lamia, Diloxi Ebon of the darklings, Lince Hekari of the deep humans, Kocarah of the elves and Sunwing of the harpies. The nightmarians live in a state of isolation aside from a few individuals who set out on their own, and have no say in the Paragon. The halflings and orcs are purely mercenaristic and do not wish to place all of their coins in a single purse, so to speak. Lastly, humans are too widespread and decimated to have any true governmental power.
The current dragon lords, the oldest, most powerful dragons are as follows: Nihalistrix(female) the Black, Heliotheris(dead) the Blue, Gurthenemon the Red, Astara(female) the White and Baelenforethus the Gold. Each holds a certain portion of eastern Norr called a territory, and each has their own personal portion of their standing army of Children of Fire. Every dragon lord has a Thane, a general to which they imbue a large amount of draconic power directly. These individuals are unknown as of now due to constant shifts in power.
Races of Norr
Civee Bloodline Elf- The survivors
Once upon a time the elves were a race of peaceful and frail beings who lived alongside nature and preserved the forests of Norr. What exists of them today could scarcely be likened to the delicate creatures of old. Since the Day of Ashes many things have changed, and the elves were not without exception. A sort of survival instinct embedded deep within the core of the elves awakened, causing the race as a whole to evolve. They grew in height and muscle, forsaking the refined arts of the arcane for drastically increased martial ability. They now appear to be tall, primal cratures with toned muscle and long, tapered ears usually with brown skin although a few fare-skinned members of the race still exist. The elves now exist as large bands of powerful and deadly hunters seeking to slay any dragons they catch unawares and to reclaim their homeland. They live about 300 to 500 years.
Racial Abilities: Sense- Higher senses than average, allowing them to track by smell as well as sight, see clearly in dim light and hear minute sounds over longer distances.
Dreamless- By forsaking the dreaming sleep, elves can enter a meditative state in which they gain the same restorative qualities of an eight hour rest in only two, making them excellent sentries.
Favored Classes: Ranger, Berserker, Barbarian and Druid
Primah Bloodline Nightmarian- The hidden
The nightmarish forms of these insectoid creatures is the stuff of legends and, as a whole, the race has always been enigmatic. With the relatively recent advent of the dragon incursions upon the jungles they call home the Nightmarians have become even more of a rarity. They are still much the same, strange and diverse half-breeds of humanoid and gigantic insects. Females are built larger than males and most individuals have dark skin and hair. Despite their inhuman strength and senses the Nightmarians have been forced to hole themselves up within the massive hive city Ecclavaria, the largest colony of their kind, to defend themselves against the dragons. The weakest castes of Nightmarians, Ants, beetles and flies live only about 30 years as the higher castes of spiders, mantises and scorpions can live up to 200 years.
Racial Abilities: Tremor Sense- Instead of using their eyes to see they can utilize special sensory organs in their neck to 'see' the world in vibrations, from the smallest grain of sand shifting to the wind rubbing against a human being.
Arc Shell- Their carapace's and exoskeletons have an innate resistance to arcane magic, reducing the amount of damage they take from that category of spells by about half.
Favored Classes: Fighter, Guardian, Mage and Psionicist
Civee Bloodline Humans- The hunted
Once a proud and numerous race, mankind now teeters on the brink of extinction. Hunted to nearly the last man, humans were the primary targets of the dragons and suffered the worst of their fury by far. Only a handful of human settlements hidden away in the most obscure reaches of Norr have managed to survive. Even then, surviving is a generous word. The race still varies in appearance and mood greatly, although the general feeling is that of creeping despair and the realization that the end is near. The race is relatively short-lived, their lives spanning only around 75-90 years.
Favored Classes: Any
Primah Bloodline Harpy- The watchers
A feral species that combines the fury and predatory flare of avians with the cunning of humanoids. Locked in a near-constant war for control of territory with the dragons, harpies have begun to enslave the rare males of their race to be used as tools for breeding. Due to this new practice the harpy population would have exploded, were not their numbers being depleted nearly as fast as new members of the race are born. Harpies generally appear to be females with wings sprouting from their backs or the edges of their arms as well as cruelly taloned hands and feet. Plumage varies based on region, and skin colors are just as diverse as that of mankind. Those who forsake the pointless struggles for territory usually end up as mercenaries or bandits, each reknown for their skill with the bow while in flight. Harpies grow excessively fast, maturing at the age of six months and can live up to 200 years, the oldest known harpy only being a century old due to their previous infighting.
Racial Abilities: Raptor Instinct- Smell, hearing and mainly sight are drastically superior to that of humans. They can spot prey from miles away on a clear day.
Jet Stream- By compacting the fibers of their wings, they can dive at extremely high speeds to capture prey completely unaware with great force or escape superior-positioned foes.
Favored Classes: Archer, Scout, Warrior, and Witch-Doctor
Civee Bloodline Dark Elf- The conspirators
Unlike their pale-skinned cousins and like the lamia, darklings have thrived in the wake of the dragons. In their underground caverns and tunnels, the dark elves were relatively safe from the beasts and their agents. Having forged an alliance with the lamia, they retain a large foothold on economic power and are even more numerous than elves due to the shift in power. Darkling skin ranges from black to grey to dark blue, as their hair is generally white. Their eyes on the other hand are warm, bright colors such as red, orange and yellow. As a race they excel at stealth and the arcane arts, though as of recent years they have been taught of more primal powers by their allies. Dark elves usually only live about 600 years, but exceptional specimens have been reported to have survived a millenium.
Racial Abilities: Dark Sense- Allows for higher overall senses, the ability to see in utter darkness and to hear over relatively long distances--even through solid stone.
Grip- They can scale sheer surfaces and adhere to ceilings much like a spider, allowing for excellent climbing and multiple avenues of attack.
Favored Classes: Warlock, Assassin, Tracker and Mage
Civee Bloodline Deep Human- The waiting
Descendants of those humans banished to the depths of Norr long ago, the Deep Humans are recognized by their bone-white hair. This used to be true for their skin as well, but as of recent years some darker-skinned members have arisen. Still, all deep humans have the same pale hair. They still live in close conjunction with the dark elves and humans. As a result, the race has experienced mixed results with survival. Those remaining with the darklings remain pale-skinned and live relatively sheltered lives. Those who remained above ground to defend their human bretheren were crushed along with them. These 'surfacers', had developed darker tones to cope with the sunlight and live grim lives. The average deep human is slightly more compact than a human, and their lifespans range from 90 to 150 years.
Racial Abilities: Deep Sense- Allows for higher overall senses, the ability to see in utter darkness and increases their sense of smell.
Fear- Calling upon an ancient pact, the user induces a state of supernatural fear within the target causing them to cringe helplessly for a few seconds.
Favored Classes: Mage, Arcblade, Rogue and Warlock
Primah Bloodline Lamia- The leaders
Easily the most well-off race since the Day of Ashes, the snake-bodied lamia have come out virtually unscathed by the dragon's wrath. Their alliance with the dark elves and access to new, arcane magicks have served to keep the behemoths at bay and even allowed them to lay claim to new territory. The lamia appear to be attractive humanoids of varying skin-color with a serpentine tail beginning at the waist. Royals have bone-like protrusions on their skull, although all lamia share immense strength despite their appearance and a venomous temper. Normal lamia can live up to 300 years of age, while royals can live up to a millenium.
Racial Abilities: Sense- Higher senses than average, allowing them to track by smell and taste as well as sight, see in darker conditions and feel minute movements over longer distances.
Strike- Using retractable fangs lamia can lash out with a highly potent, poisonous bite up to three times a day. The type, paralytic, cell-destroying or hullicinagenic, varies from individual to individual.
Favored Classes: Archer, Warrior, Cleric and Sorcerer
Primah Bloodline Orc- The guardians
Since the very beginning of their existence the orcs have been warriors. Be it for pride, gold, or even just the hell of it, the green-skinned brutes have always taken up any and every cause to sink their blade into something. The dragons changed all that. As a race, they were forced to make new alliances or die. The majority of orcs now live in large convents in or just outside of lamian and deep human cities, serving as guards, soldiers, hunters and just about any other physical job they can find. Those are in no short supply given the constant destruction wrought in this dark age. Orcs are burly, green or brown skinned humanoids with hard features and depending on the purity of their lineage, tusk-like fangs protruding from their bottom jaws. They live about as long as humans do and share many of the same beliefs in chivalry.
Racial Abilities: Sense- Higher senses than average, allowing them to track by smell as well as sight, see in darker conditions and smell faint scents over longer distances.
The Cold Rage- By severing nearly every nervous connection in the body as well as several hormone glands and utilizing a second set of internal wiring, orcs can negate any sense of feeling or touch and rationalize every move in the heat of battle effectively making themselves the perfect warrior for a roughly a minute, reusable once every hour. The process is draining and leaves the user vulnerable for a while afterwards. .
Favored Classes: Shaman, Hunter, Warrior and Cleric
Civee Bloodline Halfling- The fearless
Jovial and carefree were the words that came to mind whenever halflings were involved. Such thinking is non-existant in this new age. The halflings have gone from a diminutive race of pranksters and stalwart friends to one of cold-hearted slayers and pragmatists. What was once "Live and let live, and shy from the immoral." has become "Let no slight go unavenged and if it works; Use it." They now serve most other races as assassins and mercenaries. They are still governed by a council of magi though, although the representatives have changed to match their race's new outlook. The race as a whole has suffered far less than expected during the rise of the dragons, given their knack for disappearing when things get particularly desperate. Their skin colors are usually normal shades and hair colors range across the full spectrum. Halflings are anatomically identical to humans, only on a smaller scale standing at a height of roughly three and a half feet and living 90 to 100 years.
Racial Abilities: Fearless- Halflings are extremely hard to intimidate and are immune to all unnatural fear-based magical effects.
Unfocus- By fighting in a group halflings can blur their bodies somewhat and make it harder for their foes to hit them.
Favored Classes: Assassin, Ranger, Scout and Mage
Civee Bloodline Dwarves and Iron Dwarves: The first races to be slain by the Slaying Spells of the dragons twenty-one years ago.
Primah Bloodline Goblins: The second race to be eradicated by the Slaying Spells eleven years ago.
Primah Bloodline Gnolls: Afflicted with a race-wide Feral Curse, making the gnolls little more than bipedal beasts.
Primah Bloodline Minotaur: The third race attacked by the dragon's Slaying Spells one year ago. The race has almost been wholly eliminated by the fel magic, and less than one-hundred minotaurs still live.
CHARACTER SHEET- First of all, no character should be above the average soldier in terms of equipment and fighting ability.
In addition to the site-provided guideline, please include the following:
- Code: Select all
[b]Age:[/b] (at least 18)
[b]Race:[/b] (Any race listed excluding the dwarves, goblins and gnolls)
[b]Class:[/b] (a general synopsis of your abilities, such as Spy, Warrior or Wizard)
[b]Physical Description:[/b] (Can be a description, picture or both)
This entire section is completely optional. You can make up your character's personality right now, or develope it as the roleplay progresses.
[b]Starting Armor:[/b] (The clothing or armor you begin with)
[b]Starting Weaponry:[/b] (The weapons you begin with)
[b]Fighting Style:[/b] (How does your character engage in combat? Hand-to-hand? General soldier training with martial weapons?)
[b]Weapon of Choice:[/b] (What weapon or lack there of is your character most proficient with?)
[b]Other:[/b] (This includes travelling provisions, poisons and the like)
Just some basic background information.
The Gift: Part One for those of you who care enough to look in on past events and characters.
Side Note: I am Ghaarme :o sooo, i'm not ripping this off of the roleplay that ended a few months back, it's actually the same dude continuing it. Go figure~
2) Please try to post a minimum of a paragraph. I can understand if you can't though, as some circumstances make this permitable, such as a dialouge-heavy scene.
3) No more than two characters per person.
4) If you aren't going to be at least moderately active, please say so. It's rude to leave people hanging.
5) Keep it PG-17 at the very most in-thread, sex can be assumed but not acted out.
6) As the creator and GM of this RP, I reserve the right to revoke, refuse, destroy and manipulate as I see fit. No questions asked.
7) Alot of other things are just common sense. C'mon, you know what they are.
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"Dead gods, contain yourselves, ya hormone-addled idiots!" Beelzes shouted after them as her own tray suffered the same fate, but Fae knew the lamia were probably long out of earshot by now and giggled, shaking her head. She slid from her seat, collecting her spilled fruits as best she could and with a melodramatic sigh, Beelzes did the same. The two of them threw everything out, and Fae brushed off her knees of residue from the ground.
"Practice?" she asked hopefully, and though she couldn't see it, the warlock grinned.
"Sure, little Shanir. Practice it is."
As it turned out, "practice" today meant finding a relatively unoccupied space of ground, not too close to any of the other practicing people (Kisikoni was a while to their right and she could hear Lily talking to Thanaros a bit further still).
"Okay, kiddo, we're going to work on your accuracy today." Faera grimaced. Accuracy had for obvious reasons never been her strong suit. "Now, I'm guessing those ears of yours do a pretty good job substituting for eyes, since you don't crash into something every ten feet. So, now you're going to use that to aim as well." Beelzes, who had for some reason stopped at the equipment tent on their way here, deposited something on the ground. It was a plain sack, heavily laden with small, round clay disks, a few of which she took out in preparation for what she thought to be a rather ingenious lesson plan.
"We're gonna start with these, because they'll hurt less if you miss," Fae could have sworn there was mischief in the deep human's tone, and she smiled nervously. "I'm gonna throw 'em at you, and you have to find them with your ears and destroy them with magic."
Before Faera could reply, the first of the clay disks was thrown in her direction, and she emitted a squeak and ducked, the projectile passing over her head to break apart on a tree some distance behind her. The color rose to the skin of Fae's face, and she was about ready to apologize, but Beelzes didn't give her a chance before throwing the next one. Truthfully, the warlock was amused, but laughing right now would probably make it worse.
The rain had abated somewhat, but it was still coming down, and so Fae decided to use it, taking a hit to the abdomen as she gathered a mass of rainwater together before separating it into spears and freezing them all in the air behind her. The third projectile flew forward, and Fae tried to hit it with an icicle, but missed by a good two feet, the shard embedding itself in the ground. "You just hit an ally," Beelzes informed her, throwing again. "Listen for it, little Shanir!"
Faera grit her teeth and tried to do as she was being asked, but there were so many noises in the area... wooden clacking where Kisikoni hit the training device, the sounds of people speaking, laughing, even just Legionnaries walking around was louder than the whistle of the clay disks through the air...wait. There it was. If she concentrated hard enough, she could just hear it. Brow furrowing in concentration, Fae shot again, this time missing by a mere six inches. "Closer... try again!"
Concentrate... there! Fae fired her icicle without hesitation, and was rewarded with the sound of breaking clay as the shard of frozen water hit its target. She felt a surge of elation, and thirty feet away, Beelzes grinned like a madwoman. "There it is! Now do it again!"
”You might as well...tell me what it is you see. There's a g-good chance that one, maybe both of us will die in tommorow's...battle...” Neira stared him down for a long moment, and considered indulging him, but… no. At this point, he’d practically be coerced, and for all her talk of not giving a damn about anyone or anything aside from herself, if there was one thing she valued, it was her freedom, and she had not the inclination to take it from anyone else either. With a sigh, then, she ceased the release of pheremones.
That alone would not be quite enough, though, and so she took a hint from the necklace and brushed his very mind, pushing back the effects of her presence with what was effectively the psionic equivalent of a cold shower. What I see is one of the blood who could easily be made the thrall of someone with much less love for independence than I. If it is this easy, then you are more connected to the hive-mind than you realize, and you risk becoming enslaved to it. He would be able to hear her in his head, but the contact was by nature something of an intimate one, and she broke it as soon as she was certain he was able to think straight.
“Be as angry at me as you wish, but know this: were I a Child, you would be dead. I can teach you how to do what I have done; to resist the call of the hive, to be stronger then your instincts.” It was not an easy thing, especially not for a species which thrived on such primal inclinations. In this, his civee blood would help, but not without proper instruction.
“Give it some thought.” Neira shrugged, as though she could care less. He honestly had very little choice; Nightmarian Children were rare, but not entirely unheard-of, and any such adversary would likely be able to do as she had done and know that he was susceptible to a mental assault of this or another kind.
She noted that Caine and the mute elf were eating together, and that he seemed to be talking a great deal more than usual. Odd, but not a bad sign. If he was willing to speak to someone about what bothered him, that was surely a good thing. Especially since she had no idea how to go about extracting such things from people. Conversations with Talae were always somewhat on the stilted side, probably because of her own reticence to give away too much information. Trust issues, perhaps.
She shrugged to herself and stowed away her dishes, righting the toppled table before heading out of the mess tent back into somewhat-rainy daylight. Frankly, she didn't have much of anything to do at the moment; her stock of poisons were currently in a stage where they had to be left alone for a while, she'd practiced this morning (and would later today as well, no doubt), and all her equipment was in good order. The weather didn't exactly make "walk around aimlessly" the best of options, but she decided it would work anyway. Actually, maybe taking a run in this weather would help increase her stamina? It was worth a try, and she made sure to stretch liberally before setting off around the perimeter of camp at a trot, glad of the fact that live leather was waterproof.
Alistair was distinctly uncomfortable around crying females, but his near-infinite patience and general ability to remain calm perhaps made him well-suited to handling it. Of course, the fact that she was undeniably right didn't really help matters. The harpy shook his head subtly, laying a taloned hand on the Captain's shoulder. "No, nobody deserves it. But... the situation is desperate enough that someone felt that a clear message was necessary. It is true that he was killed, and terribly, but if it stops even one person from meeting the same fate... at this point, the Legion cannot afford desertions. The numbers are thin enough as it is, and one deserter hurts not only himself, but the people he signed on to fight with." It certainly didn't justify what had been done, but Alistair liked to think that it at least a sign that the thought process might not be completely without redeeming features.
He half-smiled, placing both hands back beside him, when she brought up the not-so-delicate matter of his age. "Well, I suppose that depends on how old you are, Captain," he replied lightly, though he knew that the average life expectancy of halflings was not that far removed from humans'.
Her next question brought up something of an old wound, though, and he sobered quickly, clearing his throat somewhat uncomfortably at the words 'orcish love-bites'. He really didn't want to know. Still, the question itself was valid enough, and he gave it some consideration. "We were termed the Savage," he agreed, "but perhaps the designations enemies give each other in war are not the most appropriate, eh? Truthfully, primah races have always been thought of as relying a bit more on the instincts nature gave them, and if that should be seen as 'savage,' then the moniker is accurate enough. Ultimately, though, I see as little difference as you do. A pity it took a common enemy and the threat of mass extinction for others to realize as much, is it not?"
Truthfully, Alistair still had a few old wounds from the war, and seeing those who had fought his people in it was always a bit difficult, but he chose to set those old feelings aside for the sake of the present. Sometimes, he thought it might be nice to be a human; he would be entering the twilight of his life, and perhaps be able to forget that there were still enemies to be fought and killed, allies to be protected. A failing body might grant him a measure of peace. But alas, he was as young and strong as he had ever been, and would remain so for quite a while yet. Such was the way of it.
"Hi, I'm Gurgen. Uh, so tell me, and him," he pointed at Turha, "that flames are a good idea."
"Yes, nothing strikes fear into a dragon's heart like fire," retorted Turha.
"Shut up! Just let me paint them!"
"Why are we still arguing about this? We're NOT doing it. That's final."
Duran looked down at the twin that was gripping his arm, while he was busy yelling at his brother. Slowly, he tried to pry his arm from Gurgen's grasp, but he yanked harder and forced Duran closer to whatever monstrous golem they were working on.
"Listen, just think about this logically-" Gurgen started.
"Logically? That's funny coming from you," said Turha, cutting Gurgen off.
Duran sighed. "Listen, I don't want to get between you two and you're big...statue...thing." He wasn't sure what to call it. He hadn't really seem such a thing before, being raised in the forest.
"Statue thing?" the twins said in unison, obviously peeved that Duran had included the Darkguard in either the "statue" or "thing" category.
"Crap." Duran said dryly. Goma simply looked up at him, and proceeded on her way as if she was avoiding the situation completely. Duran thought quickly, and only one solution came to mind.
"Whoa! Look at that thing over there!" shouted Duran. The twins immediately turned to see what he was pointing at. At the same instant, Duran's shape transformed into a weasel, quickly shaking loose the grip that Gurgen had on what was once his arm. Duran scurried away quickly, leaving the twins behind to continue their argument over the paint-job that was (or wasn't) going to be painted onto the golem.
He scurred to catch up to Goma, and looked at her with as much disdain as a weasel's face could muster. "I can't believe you sometimes." he thought loudly, before turning back into his human form.
So, when he saw Talae running along the perimeter of the camp, he worried. However, they were all in peak physical condition, so he decided not to call her out like an overbearing mother. He ducked into the mess hall tent once again, regarding a knocked over table with some curiosity. He asked a soldier about it, and he muttered something about Lamia and tails. He did not recall seeing his lamia comrade that had fought with him in the Jurial Plains, or the newcomer Sarish. He assumed the worst and decided to leave it at that. He was given a slice of bread, which he quickly ate and left. There wasn't much to do around here, especially in the rain. He moved back toward the sparring grounds. In time, it had been his only source around the camp for entertainment. He sat in a shaded area to avoid the rain, and decided to watch men in the mud fight. Most of them utilized weapons, the rest fought hand-to-hand. Those men reminded him of his own arms, which continued to send angry messages to his brain because of what he did to them earlier. He caught sight of what looked like a weasel and what he recognized as the Fog-Mage's animal companion as he made his way over to the grounds. He had seen Talae running the perimeter in the rain. He had seen the human beserker look rather... calm.
None of this was relevant to what was at hand, nor was it any of his business, but with so little to do, the small thing slowly floated up to the surface of his head. He shook himself from his reverie, and saw Beelzes and Faera practicing magic, his sharp tunnel-raised eyes catching them as somebody exited by flipping open the tent flap. He sighed. Everybody seemed to have something to occupy him for the day besides himself. Usually in the tunnels he would be with his father, hammering away new corridors or exploring natural dungeons. He had finished his physical exercise in the wee hours of the morning, something he was accustomed to, and now he was left with nothing to do. "This sucks." He muttered to himself aloud, feeling useless and counter productive. He fidgeted restlessly on the bench he sat on before making a long walk down to the armor to off himself as manual labor. Something to keep himself occupied.
The uncertain drops of rain became heavy with the advancement of another night. Since the absence of the legion the small town of Laeral had gone dormant once more, their last known bit of excitement vanishing with a tattooed female orc and falling back into the somewhat usual of what it was. A cross roads. In the shadows of the forest that lead towards the unmarked grave sites of Legionaries and Children alike four shadows detached themselves. Heavy forms striding at a calm pace, almost casual if one ignored the heavy armor that encased their bodies. Forms black and angular, not the armor of a Legionnaire or anything known for that matter. What poor amounts of forgotten torch lights slipped around the bodies, almost giving them a demonic look with fluid skin.
Most of the houses of the town were dark, leading down in steady rows and muddy streets to the only location with some life in it, Boulon Brother's Inn. The rumbling beginnings of thunder warning of another harsh night of rain. Each of the four stood at the entrance of the south road. Heads turned to glance at their neighbors but no sound was spoken as each readied their own weapon in turn. The right most of them flicking a catch over his shoulder as his left hand held onto a handle, following as a heavy object impacted into the mud behind him before dragging around the behemoth of a mace and lifting it up. The figure to his left raising his right arm, head turning a moment to regard to two crossbows that were expertly crafted into the armor, his other hand carefully pulling back the wires and fixing them in place. Beside him rattled the sound of a chain, the long coil of it falling to his feet as the whip was unfurled.
The last of the group stood still, watching the town before giving the barest of glances to the others and shaking his head. The other three broke off, slipping into the shadows of houses as their work began. The last figure looked up to the sky, rain sliding across the draconian shape of his helm as lighting streaked across the sky, illuminating the decayed and bony look that was worked into his armor, hands drawing up a club like weapon before hands dropped and rose rapidly, unhooking the folded form of the greater scythe as it swung out and locked into place, the blade almost half as tall as he was. The deafening roar almost covered the sound of smashing wood as his squad burst into the first of the houses. As the roar ended the silent gap was filled with the screams of the first of those fallen. He remained, watching as the small town began to stir to life, movement of those now rising and the sounds of others struggling to find items in the dark.
The was no thunder as the next house was breached, a heavy crunch and a shrill scream following, the first sound which could only be made by a heavy axe, the second by someone too close to escape it. Death and terror began to form a glorious melody as the sounds of their weapons moved to its tune, a symphony of death. The Greater Scythe user took it all in with a steady breath before looking forwards, once-black eye slits now filled with a glorious bloody crimson as he too entered the dying town of Laeral.
Aurran moved through one of the alleyways between houses, right hand firmly clasped around the wrist of his girlfriend Talli as they fled. The constant tap of his short sword at his side with each step a constant reminder that he could fight... only if it fell to nothing else. The rain had soaked through to their skin, icy drops that felt as if they stole away his warmth. Another shriek came from somewhere in the town, splintering wood and silence were the only other sounds that mixed with it.
He had no idea who was attacking yet this didn't match any story he had heard of the Children. Wasn't anyone trying to fight? Drawing to a stop he pressed his girlfriend's shoulder to the wall as he looked around the edge. Rain, muddy streets and lifeless houses greeted him. At the end of his site was the in, the haven where others could gather and fight back the attackers. Looking the other way showed more empty houses, yet just looking at them had his hair standing on end on his neck. Listening in he could only hear their breathing, no movement, no screams. Waterlogged mud and wood choked his sense of smell and, after tightening his grip on Talli's hand, rounded the corner in an attempt to flee.
Two steps. All it took was two steps until a heavily armored figure burst from one of the walls before him. Drawing up his free arm to shield his eyes from flecks of wood and splinters he gazed ahead at the figure. Ashen black armor with, what looked like, fiery read cracks spreading across it, spider-webbed as if the armor was ready to rupture all at once. Its angles were draconic in shape and resting over one should was a long haft attached to a massive mace head. The figure watched him almost casually. His hand released Talli and dropped to his sword, his other moving to his sheath to hide the nervous shake in his hand.
"What are you doing?" She pleaded with him as his arm began to draw the crude blade. Lifting it up to face his opponent as he widened his stance.
"Just run, I will protect you."
He glanced back in her silence to see if she understood and felt his mind stop as his heart died. Talli stood looking, but not at him. Her eyes drawn down with his at the greater scythe blade forced through her ribcage, hooked towards the sky. Even as the massive blade jerked upwards, he knew she was dead. Aurran only had time to face the front as the heavy mace slammed through and crushed his skull and neck.
The town managed a meager fight the deeper and closer they pushed towards the Inn, but their fight was determined well before engagement as the heavens wept for their loss. In the end the fours stood in the shell of the city, all life spent save their own, eyes searching in frustration for their prey that had escaped them. Their extermination was flawless but no sign of the Shawoman could be found. Turning around the attackers left at the same casual pace they arrived with, leaving the elements to drown or wash away those few that weren't fortunate enough to die under the force of the four.
His thoughts coming clearer now, Wrath rubbed the his temples and tried to soothe his pulsing brain. Neira's mental intrusion left something behind that made the young halfbreed's teeth ache. With a wary look, he took the nightmarian's measure. "What are you? On your dossier, it said 'monk' as your fighting style...I have worked with a couple pugilists. They don't mind-fuck people." his anger quickly waned in the realization that sounds were eminating from all around the outside of the tent. Wrath loosed a muttered curse and moved up and past Neira to begin donning his equipment. The silence between them strectched on for some time. Just before Wrath pulled up the tent flap to leave, he cast a sidelong glance at Neira. "I...do not feel..." he stuggled to verbalize his feelings. "I don't hear any call...at least, not in the way you are thinking. What I feel is you. Still. I shall consider your offer. Dismissed."
"A shame indeed." Sid mulled that over shortly before smirking and patting Alistair's shoulder. "But maybe it's for the greater good. I mean, if we do survive the whole 'dragon' thing, the world will be a more unified place having faced such adversity together. Or something." the halfling hopped off of her seat and turned back to pat Alistair again. She smiled brightly, looking towards the gray skies and allowing raindrops to fall on her face. "I thank you, my feathered friend. I needed that! Expect some covering fire tommorow!" she might've said more but a magically amplified voice echoed across the field.
"Good morning. This is your general speaking. Those of you who do not have hauling, packing or preparatory duties are to refrain from any strenuous activities for the day. We need you well rested for tommorow's march. That is all."
The next day, Sunrise
Most of the army turned in early that night, and were rewarded for their efforts the next morning. Daybreak came quickly and the camp was already alive with the familiar drone of clanging metal and shouted orders. The tents were all but empty at this point, the majority of the soldiers lined up in a great mass of armored men and women. The army was slowly funneling into the portal building from which the fortieth legion had arrived barely two-weeks ago. It was here that Wrath took stock of his units. Five commanders stood before him, plus Sid.
"Sound off. Commander Wrynne, leader of the tenth legion." a petite lamia with a bow as large as she was tall strapped to her back saluted. "Commander Genki, of the seventh legion." an unusually large orc encase in black plate came to attention. "Commanders Hellione and Charis, of the twenty-fifth legion." two nightmarians, one beetle and the other moth raised their hands. As Hellione was male and heavily armored with natural plating, a hulk of a man, Charis was female, delicate and beautiful with her pearl-colored wings. "Horus, leader of the artemis legion." the last commander was a harpy whose skin was inked in a maze of crimson tattoos that danced with magical light. "Good. We are all here. Report to your sections of the army and await further orders. I will begin the march through the portal."
The commanders dispersed and made their way to their respective forces. Wrath turned to Sid and smiled. The halfling, her great crossbow strapped to her back, couldn't contain a smirk. "You first, oh general."
Wrath called for order and waved for the first rank--the Black Guard--to follow him through the portal. The platform on which he stood began to glow with eldritch radiance as the spell within activated. Wrath took a step forward and began the sojourn that would take them to the heart of the dragon's territory.
Terra, The Akaldai Pass
His first footfall came down with an oddly dry crunch. Wrath inhaled deeply, squeezing his eyes shut for a few moments to allow the nausea of translocation to pass. Upon opening them, he was met with a cloudless blue sky and a wide valley surrounded by cliff faces. Twenty miles down the green of a field could be seen at the end of the pass. Sid came through next, stumbling a few feet behind him and righting herself before--or so she thought--Wrath noticed. Over the next few minutes the rest of the Black Guard, their animated golems and the first battle carts arrived. The rest of the army slowly began trickling through the magical gate and the march got under way. Within hours they would be upon the cultists...
"Here, the dragons began anew their blight upon Norr. Here, begins their extinction."
Perhaps at some point, Fae would show up and she could probably talk with her sister for a while before turning in. That was, in fact, exactly what she wound up doing, and though she was a bit sore the next morning, she was up well before she had to be and it wasn't really anything that would impede her marching... or her lining up for yet another slightly-nauseating round of magical transport. Lovely.
It looked they were going through first, which made sense now that they were the Black Guard and everything. The weight of her sword on her back did not yet feel familiar, but it was something of a comfort at any rate. She was sure that not too long from now, she probably wouldn't be able to feel it there at all. Whether this was a comforting thought or a chilling one was something she had yet to consider.
Taking a deep breath, Talae filed through the portal-
-and landed lightly on the other side, scanning her surroundings. Mountainous, but in a valley area perhaps. The air smelled... fresh. Much more so than camp, but then that wasn't really surprising, considering that this area had probably not hosted so many people in close proximity for so long. The fact that she found it so pleasant bothered her. It was as though the world belonged this way, and she wasn't having that. This was dragon territory, and that meant that nothing about it was as it should be. Not until every last one of them was dead.
Alistair was beginning to suspect he was someone's pet bird, what with all the patting, but the mild-mannered harpy let it slide, more amused than anything, and nodded serenely. "Of course, Captain. I would very much appreciate it." With that, she was off, and he left too, rather wishing the sky were a little clearer, that he might go flying. While such pursuits were not impossible in the rain per se, they were far from comfortable or enjoyable, especially when compared to the unbridled joy that was flight on a sunny day.
Sometimes, he felt sorry for the races that would never know the sensation of flight, but of course everything had adapted in its own way, and he was equally unsuited to a life underground, which he was given to believe that others very much enjoyed, so there it was. Simple as that. The contemplative white-winged man made his way to eat, and then to, oddly enough perhaps, write. He was not keeping a journal or writing his memoirs, exactly, and he certainly did not think anyone would ever pore over his musings for any length of time, but on occasion his thoughts did tend to run away from him, and even more rarely, he thought that perhaps he had manged to stumble across something important, at least enough to to bear the considerable difficulty his talons found in trying to keep the right kind of purchase on a writing implement.
The next morning, he found himself standing beside the Nightmarian woman, Neira. From what little he had gathered of her, her tongue was rather acidic, but he had grown up surrounded by aggressive female harpies, so it was not as though he were unused to such things. Even so, she did not seem the sort for idle speaking, and he respected this by maintaining his own silence, though if given the opportunity, there were several things he might have asked. Why she was in the Legion in the first place, for one.
Lilliana was at his other side, and he offered her a smile. "Did you enjoy the tea?" He asked, referring not to the cup they and Kisikoni had shared this first evening in camp, but the extra packet he had sent her off with afterwards. It was also elven, but of a lighter taste overall, much more for light repast or morning consumption. It was his turn to step into the portal before he heard her response, though, and his first thought was that this area was much drier than the one they had just left, which was something that Alistair relished in. He stretched his wings unconsciously, though not enough to hit anyone by accident. That would be a highly-mortifying experience indeed.
"Good morning. This is your general speaking. Those of you who do not have hauling, packing or preparatory duties are to refrain from any strenuous activities for the day. We need you well rested for tomorrow's march. That is all."
"Well, you heard the man, Goma. No training tonight." He spoke in a disingenuous voice, as if he was looking for an excuse that had without warning presented itself. So, tomorrow would be the day, would it? It seemed too soon, as if this was just like the last march: a casual stroll into a deadly trap. Nevertheless, there would be no better way to die, fighting the dragons and their cultists. The alternative was a slow and painful death through any number of dragon-related causes. He marched slowly back to his tent, and in no time flat, he was asleep.
The next day was crystal clear. The rain had cleared up over night, and Duran took it as a sign that, hopefully, there was somebody or something watching out for them. In reality, he probably should have thought the other way around. A particularly nasty storm would probably ground the dragons, or at the very least hinder their direct intervention in a fight.
As he made his way into the portal room, he noticed it was more than just his unit. Other commanders were apparently under Wrath's command, something that Duran didn't know was going to happen. In retrospect, it made sense.
Duran took his place in his own unit, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Lamian cleric of his unit slither in with a black eye. Duran stared for a moment and began to open his mouth.
"So, what happe-"
He was instantly cut off by Sarish.
"I don't want to talk about it." said the cleric in a low tone. Immediately, Duran saw a tail brush up against Sarish's own tail, and tracked it back to Iriana, the only other Lamia in the same unit. It didn't take long for the dots to connect. He held back a snicker at the thought that Sarish was man-handled by Iriana.
It wasn't long before the portal began to glow, and opened. Duran felt a pit in his stomach even before they entered the portal. At Wrath's command, they advanced.
Upon reemerging from the portal, the pit in his stomach easily grew, and Duran stifled his urge to vomit on the legionnaire in front of him. As he recovered, he took a long look at the area they were in. It was normal for him to observe his environment as a druid, and he didn't like what he saw. Below, there was a valley surrounded by cliffs. This screamed ambush to him. He had been told on several occasions that the dragons and their cultists would not know of their attack, but he was also told that The Children couldn't use magic, and that appeared to be a lie judging by their previous encounter. Further down the way, the valley gave way to verdant grasslands. He began to have flashbacks once more to the last battle they had been in. What's more was that this terrain didn't provide any particular advantage to the druid. There were no trees, meaning no ambushes, or use of the materials he had hoped to take advantage of. The sky was crystal clear, which would make it all the more difficult to summon a potent bolt of lightning. It seemed to him as though he probably should have spent the previous evening shape-shifting like he had prepared himself to do. It would probably be the only thing that would be very effective for him today.
Duran took a deep breath to clear his head as the rest of their forces made their way through the portal.
What he said next though, turned the tables a bit and confused her. Just what did he mean by that? One's bodily reactions to the presence of other nightmarians was part of the entire hive-mind connection. She had done her damnedest to bring both under her own sway, and mostly succeeded. Perhaps it was not strong enough in him to register that way? But then why...? She shook her head. "It doesn't matter either way. Whatever it was, if it can be used to alter your consciousness, you need to be able to control it." With that, she was dismissed, and departed.
The next morning, she was once again standing in a line of fellow soldiers. To her right was the harpy-of-indeterminate-gender-until-he-spoke and to her left was the can't-see-a-damn-thing-but-apparently-slings-spells-without-collateral-damage dark elf girl. Dead gods, she had wound up with a load of bloody bizarre people.
The girl looked a bit spooked, but she supposed that was what happened when one was about to face their second battle as members of what Neira had internally termed the Suicide Squad. Not that they were all going to die, necessarily (she for one had an annoying habit of continuing to exist long past the point where someone should have killed her, and was under the impression that some of the others were the same), but that didn't mean the Legion wasn't trying its hardest to leave them in a damn ditch somewhere.
Between the battle last time and now their lovely little 'promotion,' she would not be at all surprised to find it was true. If she ever discovered for certain who was directly responsible for this (and she had her suspicions), she wasn't quite sure if she would kiss them or kill them first. On the one hand, she loved little more than an impossible fight, but she also greatly despised being used. No, definitely kill. Then maybe bring them flowers or something equally inane. That was what people did for dead people they still gave a shit about, right? She'd never cared about anyone, so she wouldn't know really.
It was too damn quiet out here, and mark her thoughts, somebody was gonna attack them. Maybe not right away, but it was going to happen. No doubt about it. Because really, what were the chances of being able to march on Dragon territory unassailed? Fuck all, that's what.
Lily broke the embrace she had held with Thanaros, tilting her head down to allow her hood to skew the view of her face. She didn't want the half-orc to see that she was crying. Thanaros raised a questioning eyebrow, and his following words were as gentle as the man could manage... "Leave you... Like they did?" He asked. "We.. I'm not going to leave you, Lily... We are.. comrades. Friends," Thanaros added, hoping to bring the cheer back to Lily's voice. He ever so liked her cheer, her good nature. It was a welcome relief from the dreary doom and nay saying some of the other legion held.
Lily lifted her head and looked at Thanaros, her face moist from the rain... Or tears. "Thank you, 'Ros... Thank you. You don't know what that means to me... It's been such a long time since I was... accepted? Yes, Accepted," She said, genuine appreciation in her voice. Thanaros merely looked the elf in the eyes and asked, "Girl... What happened to you?" He asked... Lily scanned the ground at her feet, avoiding the prying eyes of Thanaros... Or at least tried to. When the man placed a strong hand on her shoulder, she grasped it with her own slender fingers... She grasped them with a feeling of never wanting to let go. She didn't want to lose him, she didn't want to lose anyone in the Blackguard. Strangely enough, she felt more welcomed here than...
"The Bloodleaf clan..." She began shakily, grabbing Thanaros's hand even harder, "They... They just up and left me one morning! They always said they would, but I didn't believe them.. They said that I don't act how an elf is supposed to! I'm supposed to be focused and ready to kill anything in a moments notice! They told me I don't have the time to be friendly and happy. It was a sign of weakness!" She said, the floodgates opening. Tears, and they were tears this time, streamed from her face. "They were my only family I've ever known. And they left me to fend for myself..." She said... Obviously, this was not the full story, and only the beginning, but Thanaros refused to make the girl dig into her soul in order to tell him... He merely pulled the girl in for an orc sized hug, looking to comfort and console her. He felt like it was the right thing to do.
It was late, the eve before they were to move out into dragon territory. Caine took advantage of this oppertunity to catch a great nights sleep after a monster sized meal. If it was to be the last he was to eat, then it was going to be the best damn meal he ever ate. Same deal with the sleep. If this was the last time he was going to sleep, then he was going to sleep long and hard. The morning's announcement echoed throughout his head.
"Good morning. This is your general speaking. Those of you who do not have hauling, packing or preparatory duties are to refrain from any strenuous activities for the day. We need you well rested for tomorrow's march. That is all."
Caine was more than happy to oblige the general and was tip-toeing on the doorsteps of sleep before movement caught his attention at the flap of his tent. He turned his head and caught a glimpse of a familiar figure floating over the ground towards where he lay. "Mikana?" Caine asked, beginning to sit up. However, he was stopped mid-ways by a strong but gentle elven hand. The elf then hushed him with a finger against her lips with a simple, "Shh" A coy smile playing at her lips... A part of the announcement came to mind.
"refrain from any strenuous activities"
"... Sorry General," He muttered to himself with a grin.
Lily was situated besides Alistair, the harpy she had met in her first day in the Blackguard. She was more calm and had her normal cheerful quality about her this morning, going so far as to even giggle every now and then. She felt... Freer than normal. Damn strange considering she was an elf, the epitome of free.
"Did you enjoy the tea?"
"Hmm? Oh yes," She replied to Alistair besider her, "Yes, thank you. I had it this morning... If I die today, I'd want to die with the taste of tea in my mouth," She said with near insane enthusiam. Only an elf could talk about dying and still have a smile plastered to her face, especially if that elf was Lily. She turned her eyes forward in time to see Alistair hop into the portal. Then it was her turn... At least she thought it was. No doubt any one would argue with her if it wasn't. She was through and...
... Out the other side with only minor nausea. She scanned the sorrounding area. It looked to be a verdant green valley or pass with a blue sky over hanging. It was a pretty day and Lily couldn't help but be excited about that fact. Of course, there were no trees, which the elf had become accustomed to. Alas, one has to make do with what she had.
"Here, the dragons began anew their blight upon Norr. Here, begins their extinction."
"Damn right," Caine agreed with the Captain. He was a little further up in the line, however, Mikana was nearby. Turned out the elf was a Paladin, a word that conjures images of a white knight besting evil foes with a shining sword. Fairy tales of course, because Mikana with her elven skin and blackguard armor did not envision the typical notion of Paladin... However, it meant she was damn profiecent in what ever weapon she chose. He caught her glance and he nodded, which was replied with a silent but sweet smile and a wink. A gesture Caine couldn't help but smile back at.
As it was, it would no doubt only be hours before they would come upon their quarry... Something Caine waited for with suicidely anticipation... He still had three Children he had to pay back for slaying his comrades...
He sat on his cot, going over the manual he was given several times when he first enlisted. They stopped producing them now, as the materials were used to make more useful items. It was partly to stave off the boredom- and to stop himself from going to bed early. In the caves, sleeping this early was looked down upon- as there was always something to be done. He packed everything up well, and his weapons were in pristine condition.
He could hear sounds from the next tent through the rain. Kisikoni rather would rather not describe it, but it encouraged him to simply roll over onto his cot and sleep. He woke up several times throughout the day, fitfully raging against his internal clock, but was finally relieved when he woke up and it was dark out. He could tell by the frigid air that it was either very late night or very early morning. He was up, washing his face and rubbing what little sleep was left out of his eyes. He donned his uniform and equipped his weapons, slinging his pack over his shoulder. He was out of his tent before everyone else, taking it down and folding the props up.
And he sat in the darkness, waiting half an hour before the faintest shades of light peeked over the horizon and the camp began to bustle with activity. Once again, the deep humans seem to be the grumpiest or the most restless. He formed up with his peers in the front. On command, he stepped through the portal.
The air was crisp- unnaturally so. The dank cave air had not prepared the poor Deep Human when he first arrived to the surface. This was another thing. If he had surfaced first here, he probably would have returned back underground. So this was where the infamous day of ashes occured? His parents still wanted him to mourn that day. Many people had been incinerated in their armor. Such an inhumane way to die. He closed his eyes and clasped his hands together. "Great Lord Under. Bless the Fallen here." He prayed under his breath. They were in Dragon Territory now. Asking for the gods help would be foolhardy. He fell under the lull of march- he hated marching so. Talae walked next to him, Neira and Caine and Faera behind. Beelzes was in front.
Granted enhanced endurance by the new armor, the Black Guard was the first unit to arrive at the end of the Akaldai Pass. The stoney valley cut off abruptly, becoming clear, green grassland at an unnaturally defined line. At least it appeared that way to Wrath. He and his unit were barely a quarter mile from the edge of the pass concealed within the shadows of jagged rock, only one battle cart present along with their host of golems. Their target lay in sight: Scalescrossing. An odd name to be sure, but it was the first city in their line of conquest.
The moderately sized city had been erected some twelve years back right at the portion of land where the Akaldai met fields. With it's iron walls and great tower in the center, it effectively choked off any attempt to enter the Dragonlands by foot. Unless you wanted to pass through the city, pay the tax that supported the Children's armies and risk execution if you even winced at the word 'dragon'. From this distance Wrath could make out the shapes of snow-colored cloaks wafting in the breeze upon the battlements. Drawing on the mental clarity of his amulet, the general turned to his troops.
"The main army won't arrive for another ten minutes, give or take. As the vanguard it's our job to crash into their line, cause as much panic and damage as we can and allow the body of our assault to surge in through the opening we create." he nodded to Sid, who stepped in with the rest of the explanation. Wrath looked on with mild interest, both hands resting on the hilts of his untested blades and gaze flicking back to the target city periodically.
"Ok. If nobody informed you yet, the live-leather uniforms that you have been given are Assault issue." the halfling pointed to her breast where the grayed dragonskull emblem was located. "Tap it once and think the word 'boost' as clearly as possible. That will give you a nice running start. Twice, and thinking the word 'leap' adds a bit of spring to your step. Last, three taps and thinking 'surge' give you a massive increase to strength. Just know this; All three of these abilities are tied to the armor, and won't be accessable if it is too badly damaged. The powers only last a few moments, and don't refresh until your adrenaline levels drop back down to normal--yeah, sounds dumb, but if we use it too often the armor bursts into flames or something so we needed a limiter. Good? Good. Private Mialee, Senior and Junior, report!"
Both twins marched out of the line with an odd amount of coordination and saluted. At Wrath's signal they relaxed and Turha withdrew a fist-sized orb of semi-transparent steel from his tool-pouch. With a thought the mystical item pulsed dimly, prompting the legion of Darkguards to take a single step forward. "I've already synchronized a contruct to each soldier's armor, including that of your own and captain Grimsmirk. The remaining twenty are under our control." At the human's words twenty of the darkguard moved to stand behind a legionnaire that was designated as their controller. Turha made an about-face and scanned his fellow soldiers. "Simply will it, and the constructs will follow even complex commands. Just remember that their first priority is protecting you."
"Good." Wrath said quietly, then glanced at the twenty golems under the twin's control. They looked like the other darkguards at first glance, but further scrutiny wold reveal a slightly clunky look. As if they had been disassembled and pieced back together in the wrong places. The general regarded the brothers out of the corner of his eye as he turned towards Scalescrossing. "Your heads are mine if those modifications comprimise my darkguards."
Their only response was a simultaneous nod. Then, Wrath was off. A few bounding steps took him into the light and onto the grass. With a slap to the chest the general seemed to move in a blur, crossing the the last quarter mile to the wall with blinding speed and his cape billowing in the wind. Arrows from a pair of alert guardsmen atop the walls thunked into the ground, missing Wrath by several feet. The darkguard assigned to him kept up with his supernatural speed with long, loping strides. As the enchantment of alacrity ended the next began, sending the warrior launching twenty feet into the air to land upon the battlements. Both swords were drawn before the nearest guard could call out, and a severed head came toppling down on the outside of the gate. A hulking ebon hand clutched the precipice of the wall and swatted away another guard as it heaved itself up onto the wall. Both moved to engage their next foes.
All of this happened in less than fifteen seconds. Sid smirked and unslung the hand crossbow at her hip. She glanced back at the rest of the Black Guard, some of which wore astonished expressions and grinned all the wider. "Shall we?" the halfling was gone before any response could be given, ducking an arrow and flying up onto the wall to join Wrath. Her darkguard had trouble keeping up.
The remainder of the legionnaires and their guardian golems followed suit. Thanaros's eyes grew sharp as he found his center within the balance of mind, body and soul. As he rushed off he cast a glance at Liliana and managed a faint smile. Ferka trailed after him, greatsword drawn and face drawn in a mask of rage, an anitithesis of her brother's perfect calm. Iriana slapped Sarish's rear playfully with the flat of one of her new twin scimitars before slithering swiftly into the fray. Both harpies took to the air, calling back to Alistair to join them in their sky-attack as they went. Strangely, the cleric halfling Pel and Beelzes were sharing their gift of rambling incessantly to one another about nothing as they rushed along their magically propelled feet. As an afterthought the warlock waved to the Shanir sisters before donning her sunglasses and scouring a section of the wall with black fire that sent three screaming corpses tumbling to the earth.
Mikana was only just managing to free her weapon from it's straps when the others were gone. During the march, the diminutive elf had lugged around a wheelbarrow that held a warhammer as large as she was from haft to head. She undid the straps and made a gesture over her heart. Golden radiance flowed from Mikana's skin, and she lifted the brutal weapon over her shoulder as if it was a stick...and smiled at Caine. There was a reason she was always on top. Clinking in her medium armor, the elven paladin activated her sigil and raced onward towards the skirmish.
That left the twins. They simply watched the beginnings of the battle and made some finishing touches to their darkguards. All the while, they grinned maniacally. These constructs wouldn't be the darkguards for much longer...
In the distance, on the wall of Scalescrossing, the local soldiers finally managed to raise an alarm.
Human, big fancy sword. Go figure. Almost lazily, Neira directed her construct to block it with a massive arm, and slipped around the thing, jabbing two pointed, armor-encased digits at the soft flesh of his throat. It wasn't so hard working with one of these telepathic golems, not when you were used to flinging rational, calm-sounding thoughts around in the middle of a fight anyway.
The sweet metallic smell of blood was in her nose, and Neira inhaled deeply. They may not taste any good, but the smell of dying flesh-creatures was damned-near intoxicating at times. She reveled in it, and in the unholy sheen of the crimson rivulets winding slowly down the sleek black casing of her arms as gravity compelled the vitality of her victims to kiss the stone below. With a brutal twist, she broke the same man's arm and dropped him in just enough time to leap away from the incoming crossbow bolt. Right... probably best to forgo most of the exquisite fun and just kill them now that they were gathering their wits about them.
Leaving her construct behind with instructions to simply help the others in the way that made the most sense, Neria utilized her diaphanous wings and launched herself airborne, seeking the offending crossbowman with both eyes and mind. Ah, there he was, ruddy little bastard, presently turned and trying to fire down at someone on the other side of his short battlement tower, really just another story or so taller than the wall itself. Grinning, she dropped down behind him. "Didn't your mother ever teach you that it's rude to point that at people?" she asked of his bolt-thrower. "I always did hate ranged combat..."
The man swung around, and she realized with some surprise that he already had the thing loaded again, and he shot her point-blank. Neira moved, but not before the bolt thunked into the side of her lower abdomen, just above her waist. The armor plating that protected her sides just so happened to end there, but the combination of it, her leathers, and the extreme close range meant the bolt didn't have enough momentum to go very deep. Neira looked down at the protruding bolt with bored disdain and wrapped her fingers around it, tugging it from her skin with nary a wince before examining it as though she didn't quite know what it was. Looking up at the crossbowman, she shrugged. "You're going to have to do better than that." Lunging, she slammed her elbow into his solar plexus, then in a display of poetic irony that struck her, shoved the bolt into the juncture between his neck and chin.
"Ranged weapons," she muttered beneath her breath, shaking her head.
Faera was caught off-guard by the sheer effectiveness of the magic in her armor, and found it hard to keep the giddy delight from her face as she ran instep with her sister, grasping Tala's hand as they jumped, just to make sure she would land somewhere safe. As soon as her feet touched the battlements, though, she immediately dropped her smile and fell back on her training with Beelzes, using her ears and nose to get her bearings as quickly as possible. Legionnaires landed all around her, but she shifted about, picking out the panic of the guards and feeling a twinge of pity.
Then she remembered what the Children and the dragons had done to her home, to her parents, and at least this was enough for her to move. The weather was clear today, which meant that water wasn't going to be as useful a resource. She could still condense it from the air, but that would take a lot of effort. Instead, she picked out one of the places where enemy archers were posted, and, checking to make sure she couldn't hear any harpy wingbeats, raised her hands in the manner of one conducting an orchestra.
With a few small gestures and one great sweep, she sent a gust of wind right for them. The resounding yells as the archers struggled to keep their footing told her that she'd hit her targets, and she sustained the local whirlwind until the noise of scrabbling boots on stone ceased. Closer to her position, she heard someone moving in to attack her and had a moment of panic before remembering her construct and pleading with it to help her. She needn't have been quite so polite, but at any rate the golem's arm swung heavily at the mace-armed orc, and she was safe for a little while longer.
When they launched into the air, Talae wondered if that was anything like flying, for surely the moment of weightless vertigo before they began their descent must have been close. The air whistled past her ears in a way that temporarily deafened her, and it wasn't until she bent her knees to absorb the impact and straightened again that sounds started to filter in normally again. Immediately, she left Fae to do whatever she though was best (though she wouldn't stray too far) and reached for her sword, a throwing knife, brand-new off the caravan, in her other hand.
Her first opponent carried two axes, and Talae let fly the knife only for it to be batted away by the right-hand one. Shifting her grip so that she was grasping her blade firmly in both hands, she crossed her body with it to take the impact of the first strike, shoving backwards with what strength she had and maneuvering to get to the elf's side while he staggered. The crash course in melee combat was paying off a bit, it seemed, for the sword found his side and came away with blood bathing the blade. The man fell to the side, and Talae wasted no time in finishing it before he could start spouting those damn flames.
Her next foe seemed to be an ordinary guardsman, and though something inside herself balked at this thought she shoved it aside. A Child's ally was the same as a Child to her; they had to be. Her moment's hesitation earned her a slice to the arm, though, and she resisted the urge to wince at the sting of it. She swung thrice, and was parried each time, the human's metal shield ringing like some kind of horrendous gong, only less melodious. He swung again and nicked her leg, but this time Talae was ready, and took a step forward, striking one handed with her blade to force another block while her second knife found a home within an armor juncture.
Alistair, too, took to the skies with Achiru and Qinn, or as he had collectively termed them "the kids." He really did feel like an old man sometimes, but at least only in mind. A construct that could not follow him into the air was fairly useless for him, so he tagged his to keep an eye on both Lilliana and the younger Shanir, since he'd picked them for 'most likely to hesitate in killing someone that would not show them the same courtesy.'
His sharp eyes picked out ranged combatants a little above the rest, and so it was his bow he drew first, flying just out of arrow range before swooping in to fire off a shot or two before retreating again. In this manner, the numbers began to thin, little by little, and he observed another few being knocked off their position by what appeared to be an errant wind. One of the magi then; he made a mental note not to interrupt that.
Eventualy, though, the ranged combatants grew savvy to his plan, and Alistair could not help but sigh as they seemed to discover that it was smarter to wit for him to come to them. Of course, inwardly he was somewhat pleased by this, because it meant it was time to use his preferred combat method- his trident spear.
Not a trace of the polite, civil gentleman remained on his face as he dove at the two remaining people on his target vantage point. Such niceties were replaced instead with the cold efficiency of one who has seen far too much battle and plans to see far too much more. Straight of the bat, he impaled one of them, the talons of one foot raking down the man's stomach and effectively eviscerating him. This gave the woman- a white robed lamia- plenty of time to draw what appeared to be a scythe on a chain and fling it in Alistair's general direction. An upwards thrust of his own weapon caught one of the chain links on an outside prong, and he twisted, yanking the entire assemblage and its owner towards himself.
Being a lamia and having a tail, she managed to maintain balance, but lost her grip on the chain, and that was all Alistair needed.
As the rest of the legion tapped their armor, Duran did not hesitate to do the same. He rushed at a speed he didn't think was possible on two legs, as he readied his longspear for a fight that it would probably not last in. His own Darkguard seemed to be able to keep up with him, matching Duran's enchanted speed with long strides of his own. As he made his way to the top of the wall through the help of his enchanted armor, he was met with a rather startled Deep Human cultist who didn't have a weapon drawn yet. It seemed to be a poor decision for the poor man, but he wouldn't live long enough to have anything going through his head (besides a finely crafted spear, of course.) An upward thrust of the spear proved to be an exceptional point of attack as it made its way through the Deep Human's jaw and up into his brain. Duran yanked his weapon out, and shook it free of the pink, spongy gore that lightly decorated it. A second cultist, this one more prepared than the last, rushed Duran with heavy broadsword. Duran took the distance between him and his assailant as an advantage, and chucked his spear. It pierced the man's stomach, and he was taken aback by the injury. With the time gained by the man's shock, Duran rushed him, drawing his scimitar, and planting it in his neck. The guard fell to the ground, his eyes opened wide in horror and holding his stomach where the spear had hit him.
It seemed as though these guards were not well trained, although it was difficult to tell. Once the element of surprise had worn off, it would be time to see just exactly how formidable these foes truly were. A sudden thought occurred to him. Goma hadn't come up to the wall, no doubt due to the lack of magic that had given the rest of the legion the ability to jump so high. It was no matter. She would know best to stay away from the fighting, at least until they were reunited.
It seemd as though Goma always found her way back to Duran in one way or another.
Sarish felt a cold pat on his backside, supplied by Iriana's scimitar. He rubbed his freshly blackened eye, and could only think one thing.
"May the Dead Gods have mercy on those poor guards."
As he slithered to keep up with her, he drew his maul from his back, a tremendous spiked ball at the end of what was easily a four foot long shaft of wood. He very much enjoyed the sickening crack it made when connecting with a skull. His armor now activated, he quickly passed Iriana, and blew her a kiss.
"You'd better hurry, dear. I know I owe you some work after last night, but I can't do everything now, can I?" He clearly heard Iriana scoff and mutter something about how Sarish would never have to work a day in his life again if she got one more night in a tent with him again. He smiled, tapping his armor once more and somehow managing a leap that was particularly uncharacteristic of a man with the body of half a snake. As he landed on the wall, he realized that he was some decent distance away from the rest of the group. He had landed between two guards, both of them ready with swords in hand.
They rushed at the same time, one at his front and the other front behind. Sarish swung his mighty mace at the guard in front of him. It seemed he had just barely missed the kill shot, as he felt the man's nose crack. The spikes slashed across his face and caused considerable damage and sending him reeling backwards, but it seemed as though he was still alive by some miracle. Suddenly, the guard from behind made his way towards Sarish's tail. A swift flick sent the poor guard down the wrong side of the wall, and a loud thud ended the man's screaming. The first guard gritted his teeth and charged once again, but it seemed as though he had not learned from his previous mistake. Sarish's maul came around once more, connecting heavily with the man's already battered skull. A satisfying crunch rang out, as Sarish batted him off the wall as had done with his comrade, although this fall was not accompanied by any screaming. Sarish slowly backed up towards the rest of the squad that had landed, making his way towards the druid of the party, and simply took a stance in front of him, as an alarm sounded in the distance.
He didn't know people lived out here, other than the children and the dragons themselves. Well, it was time to end it. In war, there was no real rhyme or reason- the mission, the reason they fought would be lost amidst the fighting. They would be attacking, and all that would matter is surviving- must like that ambush. He took deep breaths, calming the butterflies in his stomach that rose every battle. He listened to his commanders, noting the new abilities of his Live Armor. How helpful.
Kisikoni watched as the Captain lead the charge- and by god he was fast. Something had change with the man, and it had turned him into a very strong fighter- if not as aloof as he used to be. He climbed onto his own Darkguard's hand, Which set off toward the front line at a blinding pace. The hulking arm shielded Kisikoni from oncoming arrowfire, which bounced off the golem's powerful structure. When they had closed the distance on the wall, Kisikoni signaled the Darkguard to throw. The arm propelled Kisikoni over the wall, landing admist a pair of surprised guards. He wasted no time, his withdrawn blade gutting the first one and forcing the second off the battlements. The crunch of his Darkguard stomping the life from the child could be heard. The gutted Child was beginning to recover, but Kisikoni had already come on top, driving both blades into the heart and neck, killing the Child. The alarm had finally been raised- the element of surprise wearing off very quickly. The wall was going to be overwhelmed soon- and Kisikoni would have preferred it if they had moved onto the streets before the alarm had raised.
The crash of his hulking Darkguard was music to his ears as it clambered over the wall to join him. Kisikoni was met with two more Children in the fighting, one which the Darkguard took and the other which had drawn it's battleaxe. Kisikoni deftly dodged the stroke, bashing the Child's hand. The child dropped the weapon, but it was an Orc- and the hulking being could fight well enough with it's hands. A roaring punch might have sent Kisikoni flying off the battlements if he hadn't rolled under the punch, sending both blades into the Child's stomach. Withdrawing, the Child smacked Kisikoni away, leaving a sizable bruise on his chest. Getting up, Kisikoni put the pain in the back of his mind and pressed his advantage. His Darkguard was absorbing hits from the deep Human child that engaged it, before managing to clasp the child in it's grasp and crush the life from him. He wondered where Talae was- as far as he knew she was still his partner. The orc swung heavily at Kisikoni, who jumped back. The child kept pressuring the deep human, but at one point Kisikoni charged again, side stepping a brutal punch an slicing the arm tendons. Watching the Child's arms go unnaturally limp, he slashed at the Child's chest multiple times, sending a spray of blood staining his body. Tackling the Orc, he dealt the final blow by jamming the heavy blade into it's skull with all the momentum he had. The Child flopped once and fell still.
"Who's next?!" Kisikoni roared.
With a vicious twist both Tiger Hooks tore free of the stomach of a heavy-set soldier. The weapons took a goodly amount of innerts with them, which were flung away with distaste as Wrath swung around to catch the haft of a halberd mid-swing and send the polearm spinning through the air. The wielder of the far-flung weapon, a surprisingly young deep human girl roared in defiance and charged the general bare-handed. Under normal circumstances Wrath would have conked the lass on the head and sought out a true fight but something within him made the halfbreed dance around the adolescent combatant and as she passed, dragged the end of a hooked blade across her unarmored neck.
A crimson fountain bubbled forth, spraying some of the men coming just arriving at the stairs with a warm red mist. Three of the six gaped in wide-eyed fascination at the calm legionnaire before them who had so ruthlessly ended the life of a soul barely out of childhood. The other three raised their spears and advanced two feet before being crushed under the hammering fists of his darkguard. As Wrath clashed with the next pair of opponents, one of them a Child of Fire, the general noted distantly how effortlessly battle had revealed it's secrets through a simple piece of jewelery. The wind sang through the gaps within the shaft of both hooks as the rended flesh.
The notion did not diminish even in the slightest when the first of the dragons screeched somewhere above.
A trio of the beasts, sinuous black streaks against the azure sky dove out of the clouds and engaged their prey. All three of the dragons measured forty feet from head to tail with a wingspan of roughly sixty paces across. Hatchlings, as the Legion referred to them as, were lesser dragons that began to appear a little over a decade ago. Despite their relatively smaller scale as opposed to the dragon lords and the lack of a breath weapon, the more deployable reptillians were still enough to decimate an entire legion of troops on their own. Three was overkill, in most situations.
The last of the beasts in the formation dropped from the land like some oversized gargoyle on the town wall. He grinned a mouth full of fangs at Kisikoni. Beelzes, who moved to stand by her comrade, bared her own teeth in response. "I think he is next in line, Coney." and then it lunged for the deep humans. Gigundelarex, the foremost of the three shrieked through the air and snapped at a pair of harpies who scattered under his attack. The hatchling spread his membranous wings and banked around for another pass, roaring in laughter that sounded like more akin to cracking stones than mirth. "Don't move so much, little birds! You'll leave a fowl taste in my mouth!" the dragon guffawed, flashing a maw full of pearly teeth the size of dirks.
Lelandreaz sighed at her brother's foolishness as she drove on past him towards the hillock where two humans and some tin cans thought they were well-concealed. Something flashed below and the female hatchling readied her claws to crash into the small gathering.
Chasing around the harpies, Gigundelarex laughed even harder as Quinn tried to raze his hyper-durable scales with spectral hounds and whips of verdant flame. Achiru buried arrow after arrow into his ebon hide with about as much effect as a flea biting a warg. The dragon only narrowly missed each swing of his claws or snap of his teeth.
"Dude...that thing is coming. Fast." Turha Mialee crossed his arms and furrowed his brow in concentration as the massive dark form made a steady approach from the air. Some seven paces behind him Gurgen was channeling the energies that his brother gathered into the shoddy golems left under their command. The artificer waved unconcernedly.
"Let them come. For they shall face the might of..." the joints of each of the contructs flashed briefly with red radiance and Gurgen leapt backwards, Turha grinning like a madman at the sight. All twenty of the golems seemed to tear their armor off, the plates folding behind the modified darkguards like wings. Their semi-armored bodies seemed more sleek without the original shells, almost draconian in design. The most heavily modified of the group crouched and launched himself into the air. The others followed instantly and met Lelandreaz in a storm of raking obsidian talons. As they flying darkguards passed, the dragon crumpled to the earth in a gorey heap of twisted flesh. As one, the twins screamed into the air:
"The Sin-Wings and Liliana MK-II!!" That golem leading the flock of darkguards sported a flaming paintjob of oranges and reds. They were sent to assist with the dragon heckling the harpies with a mental command. Gurgen and Turha collapsed in exhaustion. Turha kept up the connection to all of the golems fielded though, and noted sourly that the legion was outnumbered five to one already. Still...no casualties? That was bloody good.
Back on the wall Sid finished sliding a battle-needle from the ribs of a guardsman and finished setting up her wallarmbrust. With a raised eyebrow the halfling smirked and scoffed at the same time. The reinforcements, the dragons and they were still in one piece? At an advantage even? The captain braced her weapon on the edge of the wall and lay prone on the battlement, aiming her crossbow in the direction of the airborn lizard. It roared at the loss of it's fellow and swatted Qinn out of the air only to wheel towards the less immediate fight.
In seconds and with heavy wingbeats the beast was upon Alistair, claws posed to tear the skirmisher into ribbons. As Gigundelarex brought death to Alistair a heavy round slammed into his eyelid with a meaty thud. While not causing any true damage, the dragon was distracted enough to whip his head in the direction of the sniper--and expose his much softer underneck to Alistair.
Bending the light around himself, the Silenced allowed the sun to bathe him in it's rays once again. With robes the color of blood he regarded the battle raging around him with mild interest. The True Children had ordered him to watch for...exceptional individuals amongst the enemy ranks, and to engage with extreme predjudice. Ones within his range of skill, of course. That excluded the man with the cape and curved swords. The halfling was distracted, but something about her screamed beware. That left four more; The female warlock who reveled in the ruin, the lamian woman laying open defenders left and right, the unnaturally calm orc tearing down militia members alongside an elf and...yes.
With a deep breath the Silenced connected his mind to the Power Within and pulled himself through it. His body shifted through space and appeared on top of the tower with the hiss of displaced air, directly in front of Neira. He flipped back his hood to expose a face that may have belonged to a handsome dark elf once upon a time, but was so sewn up with stitches any such feature was negligible. His mouth, eyes and a single eye had been sewn shut. With one remaining orange eye the psionic Child regarded Neira. His gaze seemed cloudy, as if looking through a drug-induced haze.
With the power of his mind at work the dark elven Silenced would bring about a mental fog that slows the mind, dulls reactions and kills senses. With sudden ferocity that belied his calm face the Silenced lashed out with mental tendrils of raw pain.
"Cid?" the middle-aged man nearly dropped his pike. Beside him, a large lamian woman gaped as well. The defenders stared at Cidovan, the druid they had known some years back when he escorted their small troupe through the forest to the Pass. "Wha...what are you doing here?" although they were offput by the situation, the lamia raised her axe and stood ready. The man looked more betrayed than wary however. "Why are you attacking us?"
One of them landed just behind her, apparently prompted by Kisikoni's rather unexpected shout, and she shrugged, running another guardsman through to clear the area she was in before doubling back to help her partner and Beelzes. "Don't tell me you were going to start the party without me?" she asked flatly, though by now both of them would recognize such a pronouncement as a joke. Or at least as close to a joke as Talae got. She swung for the dragon's flank, but much to her surprise, her sword ricocheted off the ebon scales with arm-jarring force, and she gritted her teeth. She hadn't even made the damn thing bleed!
This was going to require some more subtle strategy. Maybe, if she could get the thing to open its mouth, she could toss in a flask of poison? Was that a good idea, or were dragons immune to such effects? She'd brewed some extremely potent toxins in preparation for this, and one in particular had enough venomous properties to take out an orc in less than a few drops, but... these things were pretty big, and she had no knowledge of dragonian immune systems. It wasn't like anyone had had the opportunity to study these kinds of things in detail after all.
Well, most armored creatures were softer on the underside, so that meant making it expose its belly somehow. Or getting it to open its maw, because the inside of the mouth and throat, poison-sensitive or not, was likely to be unarmored and thus susceptible to stabbing. Of course, dragons could understand and speak both, so simply telling this to the other two was highly pointless, though if Kisikoni had been with the Legion for ten years and Beelzes was even half as smart as Fae said she was, Talae figured she was the last one to figure this out and not the first.
Alistair had just finished spearing the chain-wielding Lamia when the Hatchlings appeared. He'd been at this business long enough to know that three was quite a few... but even so, there was little point in dwelling on that. He got distracted when a harpy guardsman dove at him from the sky, having used the dragons' approach as cover to do the same, and in the time it took Alistair to disarm and kill the girl, one of the Hatchlings had decided that he made a nice target.
In the air, perhaps he would have been able to dodge, but as he was still on the tower, his options were limited... at least until a crossbow bolt hit the thing in the eye. "Nice shot, Captain!" he called, knowing well who was responsible. Cover fire, indeed. The Hatchling exposed its neck, And Alistair thought fast, stabbing at the base of it with his trident, fully intending to catch the flesh and rip upwards with the wicked tines atop the metal pole. No mercy for dragons. Not after what he'd seen on the Day of Ashes.
Duran looked up as he liberated his spear from the stomach of the guard he had just finished, sheathing his bloody scimitar. His mind was foggy, but he felt like he should have recognized them. They were druids, or at least didn't appear to be, so it was a safe to say they were clients from his short time as a forest guide. He held up his spear defensively as their inquiry continued.
"Wha...what are you doing here? Why are you attacking us?"
"I've come to end the dragons. I have no qualms with slaying you. Stay out of my way." Duran spoke with no facial expression. What he was saying was true. He had no personal attachment to these villagers, especially if they represented the dragons, though he didn't necessarily want to slay people that he knew. They looked at him with some mixture of betrayal and hate as Sarish hissed at them, ready to crack at least two more skulls.
"This is your only warning. Stay. Away." He spoke decisively, ready to strike them down with his spear.
As soon as he spoke his last word, a loud screech rang out from above.
Both Duran and Sarish looked up at the dragons that had appeared while they were distracted. The beasts soared through the air at a speed that neither of the legionnaires could quite comprehend, before each one took their own fight to individual groups. One dragon crashed down on the wall of the city, its landing making a heavy reverberation up through Duran's body. Taking advantage of their distraction, the human that appeared to have known the druid charged. Duran's attention immediately snapped back to reality. He deflected the man's pike with his much shorter and quicker spear, planting its edge into the ground. Sarish quickly regained his composure as well, and in no short order, his maul came down on the wooden haft of the pike, snapping it in half. Duran drew in close, and with the blunt end of the spear, he tripped the man before planting the same end in the man's face, breaking his nose, concussing him, and rendering him unconscious all in the same blow. The female lamia growled in anger, as Duran held up the pointed end of his spear.
"Take him and get out of here. The legions will be coming soon, and they will not spare you so easily." Duran scowled as he spoke, unwilling to portray the kind survivalist that they had probably known better than the druid standing before them now.
Sarish raised an eyebrow to Duran. "Just telling them that is treason. You don't want to end up like that guy back at camp, do you?"
Duran gritted his teeth, and gave Sarish a nasty look. "Then go and report my treachery. I will not kill them for their silence."
"But-" started Sarish.
"Stop. Just go and help somebody who needs it, you vile creature." Duran cut off Sarish, and he dejectedly slithered towards the landing sight of the dragon that was now perched on the wall, attacking Kisikoni and Beelzes.
The female lamia held up her axe, but Duran walked towards her without any fear of being attacked.
"Go. Leave this place now, or you will be slaughtered by the coming forces. But I warn you. If you tell even a single soul of what I've said, I will come down upon your head, breathing a flame of destruction that would dwarf the breath of the mightiest dragon. The very sky will crash down upon your miserable form, and a storm of vengeance the likes of which you have never seen will end you and all you hold dear."
The Lamia stared wide-eyed for a moment, and seemed to back away like a wounded animal. She picked up the human and slithered off with tears in her eyes. Duran scowled, and quickly followed Sarish's path towards the dragon. If it was truly a dragon, they would need all the help they could get.
Presently, she was perched on one’s shoulder (she climbed no less well than any of the other members of her species, after all), still conducting the orchestra of winds, so to speak. The infernal shriek halted her in her movements, however, and for a moment Faera was frozen in place by a fear almost older than her memory. It was almost too bad that it wasn’t in fact, because the memories themselves were much worse then the fear alone.
Ashes, smoke, and dust. Nobody within the small village could give voice to why the dragon had attacked in all its shrieking, flame-spewing, terrible glory, only that it had. Black as night, they had not seen it coming until half the small settlement was razed, most of the occupants dead or presumed to be, their remains so far beyond charred as to be indistinguishable from the cremated houses they had once lived in.
But why? Why would such a being deign to attack such a tiny dark elven settlement? They were nowhere near the capital, nor the royal family, nor anywhere associated in any but the loosest fashion with the Legion. None of it made sense.
Faera could not see the death and destruction, but she could smell it, the bitter scent of charred earth filled her nose till it ran out of space and filled her mind too. The only sounds in the unwelcome silence were the occasional wail of a grieving mother or the sound of Talae’s boots on the ground, slogging through the ashes with a merciless determination that no child of sixteen should ever have to possess.
Her sister’s hand was a wrought-iron grip on her wrist, but Fae did not struggle against it, only followed helplessly as their steps carried them further and further from the destruction. “Tala, where are we going?” The young girl flinched. Her voice sounded weak, tremulous, even to her own ears.
“Away from here,” was the terse reply, as though that explained everything. Nothing more was offered, and Fae asked no more questions, perhaps sensing that she would not like the answers. Maybe she was simply too much a coward, or too willing to allow her sibling to bear the knowledge alone. Maybe she was simply a scared little girl placing her trust the one place it had always belonged.
Faera was rudely awoken from her half-willing musings when a stray arrow struck her in the shoulder, embedding itself deep in the flesh there. With a strangled cry, she lost her grip on the construct and fell, landing in a heap on her back. For a moment, the agony was dizzying, and she couldn’t move. She could hear her construct beating back several soldiers who sought to take advantage of this, but it only dimly registered as she tried to fight her way past the agony and into clarity again. A small healing spell numbed the pain, but it would take a lot more time and concentration than a battlefield could afford her in order to do much more than that, so she left the arrow where it was, knowing enough to say that removing it and allowing the bleeding to proceed unimpeded was a very bad idea.
With the arm not connected to her injured shoulder, Faera pushed herself to her feet, ignoring her body’s rather violent protests to the very suggestion. She wasn’t ready to roll over and take it, not yet.
Neira felt a slight tug in the back of her mind, but had little time to puzzle over it before a red-robed figure appeared in front of her. Psionics… interesting. She grinned when the figure threw his hood back, revealing a rather grotesque visage and the glassy gaze of one who perhaps spent more time within than without.
“Oo-oh, you must be one of those poor bastards I’ve heard about. What do they call you? The Silent?” She knew perfectly well what they were called, of course, but it scarcely concerned her. What was important was that this disfigured dark elf probably qualified as an opponent she could sink her teeth into… perhaps literally, if he was a good little abomination.
The Fog was nothing new, and it didn’t much matter for the moment, for that was not going to be where the fight was truly decided. No, this was going to be an entirely different kind of confrontation, one she had not indulged in for quite some time. “Let’s see what goes on inside that ugly little head of yours, mime.”
Neira was lanced with agony that began in her head and psychosomatically spread down her limbs, causing a visible shudder down her spine. The Nightmarian chuckled darkly. “Ah ah ah,” she admonished lightly. “I think this would be much more fun if we took a moment to enjoy it, don’t you?” This time it was her Power that lashed out, sinking mental hooks deep into the Silenced’s consciousness, and thus mutually connected, slowly their perception of the world around the peeled away until they were both almost completely absorbed in the mental link.
Their minds perceiving what their senses never could, both were thrown into something of a vertigo as they both fought for control of what would follow. Within the consciousness, only that which is acknowledged was real, and so it was as much a contest to force the other to accept constructs of their own minds than anything else. The Silenced went for a realm of creeping darkness, dank chills, and bottomless despair. Neira scoffed. Such are the nightmares of human children. Horror looks more like this.
In so saying, she let down one of the mental barriers in her own mind and flooded the other with sensations. A darkened forest, in the centre of which stands the great Hive-city, monument to the sheer enduring obedience of those who built it. Endless labor accomplishes what even ingenuity cannot, slavery what a free man would not lower himself to endure. The ants march back and forth in endless trudging lines, doomed to live out their short, pathetic lifespans doing naught else, at the insistence of a will greater than any individual could ever hope to be. It is all linked to Her, for Her, the Queen, but even She is bound to it too strongly for anyone to break her chains.
Everything is peaceful, everything is orderly, and nothing matters but the rote motions of hands and feet and wings. The Power Within is painfully suppressed by the great droning in the back of her head, every almost-independent thought crushed by that overbearing weight. She is an automaton, just another faceless pair of hands and feet and this close to the center of it all, how can she be otherwise? She cannot feel, scarcely think, and she knows not whether even the minor rebellions she entertains are fed to her by the overarching Mind. She exists, she is, all because the Hive says it must be.
This is my nightmare. You think that after enduring this that a little bit of pain will bend me to your will when at last I am free of it? Do not make me laugh, fool.
The Silenced switches tactics, and now it is a more subtle contest, an invasion of thoughts, memories, feelings, anything to dredge up old weaknesses. For those that are so sternly gripped by ironclad resolve now were not always so, and he seeks to find that which will undo her resistance. He comes too close, and Neira lashes back, burying herself in every one of the Silenced’s most treasured memories, stored away far enough that he need not remember them while doing the bidding of his Dragon masters.
She opens what must have been Pandora’s Box: his name was once Xeron, he has lived for a good two hundred years at least. His parents were nobility- Neira sorts mercilessly through the information, tossing aside with callus disregard most everything that does not seem to be useful, until at last she stumbles upon it. His wife and child, dead at the hands of Legionnaires in a siege much like this one. So it is a recent burn, then. All the better.
She bombards him with all of it, the images, the sounds, the smell of his family’s lifeblood flowing onto the street, trying to stoke a fire of reckless rage, to build in the Silenced enough anger to circumvent his caution, to allow her to break the stalemate of paralysis that stops their bodies from moving from Without.
Too late does she realize her mistake. The Silenced at last breaks his muteness in their shared headspace and laughs, a sickening sensation that just makes her grit her teeth unconsciously. How sweet of you, my dear. You assumed that of all the things you saw there, I would actually care about my wife and son. It is rather unfortunate for you that I do not. But it does tell me something important about you, now doesn’t it?
The Silenced homes in on the memory she was hiding, and Neira braces herself to see it play once more. There is only one decision she has ever made which she still struggles with occasionally, no matter how often she manages to convince herself that it was all worth it, that regret is meaningless. Still, she retains her bravado. oh, is it your turn to try breaking me now? Have fun.
Still, he is confident that he has found it, the way to weaken her will, and he says nothing in response, merely flinging the first of the images into her brainspace while Neira works on something else entirely.
The room is dark, a few flickering candles the only light provided. A body, too indistinct to be identified, lays sprawled on the floor some distance from a standing figure. The flame-haired Nightmarian girl is examining her own arm with a fascinated curiosity, turning it this way and that, watching as the drops of blood hit the stone floor beneath as though she has never seen something quite so enthralling in all her life.
At length, the arm lowers, and red eyes flick to the crumpled pile of carapace and flesh before her. Her head tilts to the side, regarding the corpse with the same interest for a few moments. Something inscrutable passes over the dusky features, and the girl’s shoulders begin to shake.
Clearly, the Silenced thinks he has stumbled upon something important here, and Neira permits him to think so, disguising her true objective as a desire to ‘see’ as little of the image as possible. It will not be long now.
For all the world, she might be sobbing, except if one looks at her face, one would see the first of many terrifying grins beginning a slow, near-hesitant spread across her face. The eerie silence is shattered by a peal of girlish laughter, just a giggle at first, but increasing in volume and taking on a manic edge. Suddenly, it stops, and the smile vanishes, replaced with a scowl. She laughs because something in her has broken at last, and frowns because she is finally free.
With one final disdainful glance at the corpse, the Neria of memory turns on her heel in a swish of black robes, and marches straight out the door.
It was clear to the Silenced that his opponent was not the only one to make a mistake. Frantically, he tried to figure out what she’d actually been doing when pretending to squirm under his mental onslaught, and found his question answered rather painfully when a chitinous hand wrapped around his throat and he was lifted off the ground. How had she-?
“Sometimes, it pays to spend some time Without,” she informed him smugly, grinning an echo of the disturbing image from her own head. “I already told you- I freed myself from my nightmare. You didn’t think it was a simple thing, did you?”
Without giving him a chance to answer, Neira crushed his windpipe, dropping him unceremoniously upon the ground. Shaking her head and shoving her damned memories back into oblivion where they belonged, she realized only a few moments of actual time had passed, and that each of the dragons had chosen a target already. Shame.
When the roar of the Hatchlings cut through the sky, he looked up. They had split, just as a bemused Beelzes enlightened Kisikoni about the situation. He clucked his tongue once, just as it landed on the edge of a building near the Deep Human's position. The golem regarded the dragon impassively, and turned back to an immediate threat- smashing a elf that tried to take the thoughtful Deep Human by surprise with a swing of it's fist. The dragon bared it's fangs, seemingly euphoric about killing it's first victim. The observing deep human wouldn't know. He wasn't too familiar with Dragon psychology.
Talae joined him, as well as Duran. He smiled once at Talae's little insert. "I only wish I had a witty response to that." He replied quickly, just as the dragon began to lunge. "Move. I have a plan." He urged. Beelzes did so- seeing as she was getting out of harms way at the same time. Kisikoni wasn't too sure about Talae or Duran, but he wasn't going to let this wall become rubble because of a dragon. A very big dragon. Much bigger up close. He calmed himself, as time seemed to slow down.
Long ago, the Deep Humans made an ancient pact with the gods of the Earth. With spilled blood, and the promise to never willingly live above ground ever again, they were given a significant power that differed them from their brother race. Lord of the Earth. I beg thou, grant me thy blessing. He thought, and the air seemed to stifle among Kisikoni.
It was a very risky plan. The deep human had no damned clue if this would work on a dragon- but he figured since it was just a Hatchling, it had a reasonable chance of affecting it. The best chance was while it was happening mid-lunge, it opened up a place to attack if it worked. Fear, was the key word here. The god-sent power gave Deep Humans to instill a state of supernatural fear into the enemy, which is what he was trying to force upon the lunging hatchling. He lunged toward the dragon, rolling just under it's gaping jaw and tried to sink both butterfly blades into the underside of the dragon.
Terra, the Dragon's Maw
"Liera. I know you are watching over me... Us. Please. Try your best to protect us and Guide my hands and swords. I do this not for me, but for us... Today, I make them pay for attacking a lowly farmer... I will become their nightmares.. I love you." Caine said, looking up into the cloudless heavens... All that better for Liera to watch. He listened absent mindly to Sid explain the armor's uses and the ramblings... Then Wrath was off... Far be it for Caine to be left behind, he ran after his Captain. His long legs and magic enhanced speed carried him like the wind across the field and to the wall.
Caine began to delve into his anger, allowing the fury and anger fill his strength and vigor. Yet he did not allow it to consume him. He controlled it, he used it... He was not a tool of his anger anymore... His anger was his tool. He was an altered beast and would determined to be more useful in battle... He would not lose this day. As he ran, the construct kept pace behind him... Caine remembered something someone said about how it would listen to him and protect him... Nifty. All that more to destroy everything with. As they neared the wall, Caine saw Wrath use his armor to hop to the Wall... Caine planned something more... Complicated. He sent his golem up forward, whizzing past him as his speed decreased. There the golem knelt with it's back arched and placed both of it's hands on the back of it's neck...
Caine expertly ran up the things back and as soon as he stepped on it's hands it catapulted him to the wall. As he flew through the air, he let out a deafening roar mix with delirious laughter. This caused one child halt and look up... Just as Caine's blades lopped the bastard's head off. Now, the red gore glistened on Caine's ivory white saber and pitch black katana. He had tasted blood, and it tasted damn good. "One," Caine began count as he strode across the wall. His eyes held a flame of fury and anger, while his lips twirled in delirious excitement... It seemed as if he was furious and he completely excited by that fact. That combined with Caine's swords held to the front and tilted downward dangerously. Then he twirled the blades in a circle as he calmly strode to his next target, a rather beefy and tall orc. It was perhaps A foot taller and wider than Caine... However, the intimidation factor from Caine caused the Orc to take a step backwards... Caine had the look of a demon.
Without hesitating, Caine threw himself forward onto the orc, brashly slashing from the side with his saber. The Orc had only barely parried with it's claymore before another strike came from above with the Katana. Then a kick to the gut doubled the Orc over who then became quite acquainted with Caine's knee. The Orc grabbed it's face with a hand and stumbled Backwards, but Caine was there too. He struck again with the saber, again parried, but then Caine struck forward with the saber's handguard as a crude brass knuckle implement. At the same time, Caine sweeped a foot under the Orc sending it to the ground. There, Caine mounted the Orc and began to pummel the beast in the face with the hand guard.
Blood began to mist onto Caine as the pummeling continued, the Orc's limbs gone rigid long ago. He stood, and then plunged the black blade into the beast's heart, killing it.
"Two," He stated with a bloodied smile and furious eyes. The Golem finally finding it's way up to him.
Lily followed behind the others, Bow and arrow nocked and ready. As she neared the wall, she willed her Golem up to assist in the front line while she stayed back and firing arrows off at random stragglers... None would kill, only inhibit... However there was a crossbowman who had an aim rested on Thanaros, who was also on the wall. Lily fired a arrow first at the weapon, slinging it off the wall, then another arrow in the holder's hand, and another in the leg... Finally, finishing the handler off, one in the torso. She gave a wave to Thanaros before scrambling towards the wall and begin to climb it... She too would hold on to her jumping ability.
Some distance down the structure the final dragon, Jakanther loosed a hiss that sounded disturbingly close to human laughter. With a motion akin to a dog shaking water out of it's fur, the great beast shook itself free of the pinprick attacks the fleshlings were so keen on laying upon him. Jakanther was particularly intent on the pale one, who stared at him so intently...the dragon immediately recoiled in horror. It was an unfathomable fear that took root somewhere in the darkest recesses of his mind, one that the hatchling knew to be irrational but was completely unprepared for.
Within three seconds the fear had lost it's grip on Jakanther and he gathered himself for a wicked roar. Having lost touch with reality in that brief period of time however, an attack on three fronts had materialized. Steaming blood hissed down his neck onto Kisikoni, a heavy blow from Mikana's enchanted hammer upon his large ankle tripped up the reptilian and the axe of one battle-crazed orc--Ferka--biting deep into his foreleg. Jakanther jerked away from the ground, beating his wings once and buffeting the troops with a gale of pressurize air. Before gaining any true altitude, thick coils clamped down on the junction between the hatchling's wing and shoulder. Turning his head at an awkward angle Jakanther stared with one plate-sized eye into the grinning face of a crimson-haired lamia wrapped around the weakest part of his left wing.
Iriana laughed and began stabbing at the joint mercilessly, careful to avoid her own scaly hide. Jakanther slammed down onto the wall from his rearing position and snapped at the lamia while swiping at Kisikoni and Talae. The dragon's hate-filled gaze was reserved almost fully for the deep human and dark elf, and he lashed out with a barrage of lightning-quick slashes. Each and any would kill them with no more than half-contact.
On the first of two flights of stairs, the only way to get up onto the wall besides the much slower ladders, Thanaros zipped from foe to foe. The half-orc a sizeable chunk of the enemy reinforcements from reaching their allies with broad sweeps of his pole axe and did not seem the least bit tired while defending a ten-foot long entrance. On the other flight of stairs a a small, slowly moving barricade had been set up. Bodies littered the stone staircase, each holding a quarrel in it. Periodically one of the enemy soldiers would peek up from behind their protection and Sid would rack up another kill from her hidden sniper position. Down below in the streets Children of Fire roared out orders for more mobilization and a small platoon of more well trained Children began climbing the wall. Each had a mouthful of dragonfire waiting to be released.
Ugh...that hurt bitch. Xeron's silibant voice invaded Neira's head once more, followed immediately by a mental crush. The attack was of a mastery the nightmarian herself could only have attained had she taken her psionics to heart, instead of as a suppliment to her physical ability. As a result she would feel a massive pressure in her skull that threatened to press her brain into a blood little ball if she did not resist well enough. The Silenced did not waste any time engaging their psychic battleground once more. Hehe...you're a fucked up little fly, aren't you?
A desert. Xeron, whole and without stitching and scars stood some three yards away from Neira in the mindscape. With obsidian skin, a shock of white hair and a flawless face the dark elf could have passed for the image of some deific being. He was donned in nothing but a red robe open in the front and smiling at Neira. In the mindscape, the nightmarian would feel twenty times heavier and five times slower. In the time it took to blink an eye the air around her was filled with a thousand red pricks of light. The psionic torture would induce pain that grew exponentially for each speck of energy she came in contact with. Xeron smiled. "Like moving through burning syrup, no?"
In the physical ream the red-clad Silenced was cloaked in invisibility once more and scaling the wall back up to Neira with his natural abilities. With Each step a scene within the battle of their minds played out, and the bitch's death grew that much closer. Without even the slightest indication of pain he finished snapping his head back into place.
Over the lip of the canyon the first forces of the main army emerged from the Akaldai. It would be only a few more minutes before they were ready to attack, but the Black Guard was on the verge of being overwhelmed. Wrath was nowhere in sight.
Liliana The Huntress
Lily was finally on the wall and had finally caught a glimpse of the Dragons... One in the air and another harassing the harpy... Or rather, Alistair and a flock of constructs were harassing it. One in particular, one sporting a flaming paint job caught her eye... That was the construct she had spoke to the twins about, the one with the dragon fire paint job. She cackled almost maniacally as she remembered it. However, it was not the target... the Dragon was. She began to nock an arrow and sent it flying... It missed due to the distance and the irregular flight pattern... She nocked another and missed again, this time coming dangeriously close to taking out a golem.
"Drat," She cursed rather... Mildly. She could not do anything when she was grounded as she was. Lily needed to be closer. She needed to be up in the air. She needed wings...
She needed a dragon.
Her eyes flitted to the golem sporting the flame job... Yes, of course! Liliana Mk. II! "That's brilliant! And a slight bit suicidal... Oh well, best get busy dying!" She mused as she ran close to the edge of the wall and began to frantically wave her hands and tried to get the contruct's attention. She didn't think it would notice but then it tilted it's wings and began to dip towards her. Lily was ecstatic. She couldn't believe it was actually listening to her... Hardly anyone listened to her. She wouldn't be a usless elf. No, she would make sure of that.
The construct flew slowly pass Lily, who used her elven grace and balance to hop off of the wall and land surely on the back of the golem... The elf was airborne now, riding a flaming dragon she felt she had helped design... The Bloodleaf Clan would not believe this, but they could go suck on some Ivy. Lily wasn't doing this for them, she was doing this for her new family, the Blackguard. The fortieth legion... The baddest clan this side of the dragon territory.
Lily and her construct fly back up into the fray with the Dragon. She caught a glimpse of Alistair who she ventured an intent nod. She was no longer the cheery and bubbly girl, but a precise and deadly elven Huntress... Her prey this evening? Dragon. Instead of crashing into the dragon like so many other constructs, Lily kept her distance and tried to stay on the side of the dragon where Sid had injured it's eye. It was better than nothing. From there, Lily pelted the beast with arrows, trying to aim between the scales and perhaps ventured an arrow towards it's eye once or twice. As she flew, Lily gripped the construct tightly with her legs and thighs... Good thing that those were Lily's greatest assets...
Then Lily pulled back her bowstring, Overdrawing it pass the normal draw point and let loose a wooden arrow towards one of it's eyes... Hoping the blow would connect and blind it. As the arrow left the bow string, Lily yelled in an harsh voice uncommon for the spritely girl... The huntress coming into her own. "WE. WILL. NOT. SURRENDER!"
Caine the Berserker
Caine too had seen the dragons, but since the one in the air was a no go for him, he concentrated on the one who was being assaulted by Kisikoni and Mikana. He quicked his stride, dodging in between hostile children... They would still be there when the dragon was taken care of. Although, he did venture to hamstring a foolish elf who was not paying close attention. Not fatal yet, but the blow would leave it helpless for anything else. He was within sight of the dragon. He heard and saw it recoil in fear, perhaps due to some magic the Kisikoni had... Of course, it didn't have much effect and it roared...
Caine moved and closed in on the dragon, but by then, the beast had already lashed out out those who were surrounding it... And a hate filled glance at Mikana. The beast was trying to kill her... That only struck a chord in Caine's psyche. Caine responded by a feral roar of his own. A challenge... A human challenging a dragon, perhaps the bravest or stupidest thing ever witnessed, but there it was.. He rushed the dragon from the side. All pretense of subtly or stealth was gone, but maybe Caine moved fast enough to not allow the Dragon to react... And since Caine had saved the leaping ability from his armor... He smashed the emblem on his chest and leaped into the air directly above the dragon's back. As he fell, he tried to angle himself between the beast's wings. Closing fast, Caine attempted to smash into the beast's back, planning to plunge both blades deep within the hatchling's back.
If the supernatural fear of a Deep Human wasn't going to work... Perhaps the real fear of a beserking human on the verge of bloodfilled insanity would... "You will make up for all four damn deaths, you scaly motherfucker!" Caine roared at the beast..
Moving delicately due to her injured shoulder, Fae concentrated hard on the activity above herself, trying to pinpoint the thing's location. That would be important. She heard it collide with another skybound object and start mauling, and knew that this was as much a chance as she was going to get. Please let this work, she pleaded, though to whom, she could not say. The gods were dead- there was little point imploring them for such a thing. Even so, she released the spell, aiming the strongest gust of wind she could muster for the creature, hoping to hit a wing more than anything else, perhaps knock it off-balance.
Best case scenario, the dragon would fall out of the sky and not hit anyone on the way down. Worst-case... well, she'd probably have missed. The thudding sound of a construct's fist against armor brought her back to the battle immediately in front of her, and Fae lobbed a fireball in the general direction, flinching when she heard the guard she'd hit fall back over the battlements shrieking. Okay... so no more fire then. She could hear her sister and several others fighting another hatchling about ten yards away, but there were so many people there that she couldn't risk the shot.
Something moved behind her, and Fae whipped around, gasping when the movement pulled at her shoulder-wound, and was hit with a wave of vertigo. Staggering to one side, she avoided the swing of an axe only by sheer luck, and Zek dove from his position atop the construct to scrabble at the eyes of the harpy who had dropped in to attack her from behind. Panicked at her proximity, Fae didn't think- she simply acted, and the result was a blast of raw kinetic energy. Unfiltered, not transformed into anything, it simply issued from her hand and knocked away the oncoming attacker. There was a consequent heave in the younger Shanir's stomach, and she was glad she had elected to eat only the lightest of meals that morning, else she may well have lost it.
Ugh...that hurt, bitch. Neira's eyes went wide as she felt her mind once more invaded by the cold ooze of a presence that was perhaps once an ordinary being, complete with emotions, a conscience, and all that good shit that she more often than not wished she didn't have. The sensation of pain locked her in place as each nerve ending fired off pain receptors in response to a stimulus that didn't really exist. The pressure was crushing, and she abandoned most of the outer parts of her consciousness almost immediately, retreating into the innermost part of her being, what that old sage had called her center. The edifices that supported everything else; surface thoughts, general disposition, the impressions she gave to others, all of these shattered beneath the weight of his onslaught, and she felt him digging through what it had exposed.
Hehe...you're a fucked up little fly, aren't you? Her inner self couldn't help but smirk at that, for it was so very true. Well except the 'fly' part; she rather detested being compared to them. Surely the answer to that is at your leisure to find, is it not? The nightmarian finally opened her mind's eye to whatever he was choosing to show her, confident for the moment at least that her essential self was out of his reach for the time being. She may not be a psionic specialist, but her grasp of the fundamentals was complete anyway. And one of those basics was to never let someone break you completely. Protect what mattered most, even if it meant sacrificing the rest.
His control of the situation was making it difficult to move, so she decided to endeavor towards no such thing for the moment. She blinked, and at once the space between them was filled with thousands of red points of light. Experimentally, she moved a hand, finding that the sensation was much akin to forcing her limbs through water. It made contact with several of those points, and she hissed as the pain wracked her 'body.'
"Like moving through burning syrup, no?" Despite the agony she was in, Neira assembled her features into something resembling cool indifference and arched a brow. I'm sure I would not know. But really? Physical torture? I thought I made it clear that there are better ways to handle this. Did you know, for example, how thin the line between pain and pleasure can get? The parts of the brain responsible for each are very, very similar. Even more so for someone like me, who is, as you put it, 'fucked up.' Mind over matter, Xeron.
So saying, she passed her hand through the air again, but this time, she only smiled. Hm, it... tickles. It didn't, of course; in fact it still hurt like hell. But he didn't need to know that. And she had been telling the truth on one account: the two sensations most perceived as opposite were indeed closely-linked, and it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
He seemed to believe her, or at least he did if the frown on his face was any indication. How about we play a different game now? she questioned with mock innocence, easily-discernible as such. She would admit, he was still at an advantage, but because he had not managed to completely crush her, he'd never get the chance again, that much she would make sure of. Now it was all simply a matter of switching the circumstances until she found something she could work with. He had the power, but Neira had the finesse, the subtlety, and she wasn't going to lose.
Most recent OOC posts in The Gift: Chapter Two
Abandoned by the Legion, befriended by dragons and most likely branded as deserters and betrayers to mortals everywhere on the off-chance that they had survived. The halfling barely noticed Wrath taking a seat next to her and wrapping a steadying arm around her shoulders. On Wrath's shoulder, Zeke chirped in distress. "...was I leaning...what the hell? What's on your shoulder?"
"What, it's just the lizard-"
"No, below that." Sid leapt up and proceeded to laugh her ass off.
"Wha-Oh my f*cking god! Cut, cut! It sh*t on me again!"
Only to come face to face with a group of Children. Lily ran into a room next to her with the Children on her tail. All of a sudden...
Yakety Sax. Liky runs into a room and out of another further down in the hall and the Children exit a room on the opposite side of the hall and enter the room beside them. Then the Children exits a room chased by Lily, who both enter a room further down the hall. Both the Children and Lily exit and enter a room at opposite ends of the hall. Then in the middle of the hall Lily and the children crash together, knocking both parties out cold
It is fun!
Beelzes pulled Fae up on the bar, and it wasn't long before she thought she might have gotten some grip on what was going on.
...Too bad then, that the movement made her head spin, and she miscalculated her position, falling backwards over the other side of the thing and passing out.
The next morning, she would wonder if the battle had really gotten that far into town, and what spell the Children had devised to make her head hurt so much even hours later.
Kisikoni saw Talae tap her Live Leather, using both the burst of speed and height of jump to her advantage to jump over the wall. Kisikoni decided that he would follow his partner's lead, especially since the ladders didn't look particularly safe. He called on the Live Armor, giving him the power that he needed to take a quick running start and powerful jump.
Kisikoni soon realized he miscalculated the jump.
A surprise ending, Lily evolving into a harder woman, and sadness everywhere.
Now I'm depressed.
I think this is officially the second thing I've ever been in that hasn't died.
Also, called the reds thing. But it was awesome anyway.
That's all she wrote. Excellent job gaiz :3 thanks for sticking with it!
You don't have to post anymore, but feel free to do an exit if you want~
...Imma bug ya'll when the next chapter begins.
"Hey babe, wanna see my pocket-sized dragon--WTF? WHY YOU SLAP ME, BRO?"
If Wrath doesn't want an adorable little mini-dragon, you can give it to Machina. -nods nods-
I'm just wondering whose side those reds are on, anyway...
A devilishly handsome drug, but a drug nonetheless.
I gots maybe one more post to do before I am completely done. Lily has to pick up Caine's silver saber. Her bow broke, so now she needs a replacement weapon until she can get a new one... Which is just me giving an excuse to carry a part of Caine into the next Chapter.
...Your dependence is amusing to me.
Yay for being almost done!
AND YAAAAY. We's almost done. Then we wait two weeks for Shiva to get his ass back here and then we begin the next chapter! Or not. I don't need yallz(oh god yes I do D:)
...I've become dependant.
Also, Good logic call with the Mikana thing. I'd nearly forgotten she was a Child...
I'll give points to Machina for most effective use of a swear word that is not the f-bomb.
Wait for me Kiku!