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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Caine looked up into the eyes of Talae, surprised to see her standing in front of him. He loosened up as the anger released it's grip on his mind. He was now leaning back, looking more relaxed than earlier. However, it wouldn't cover up his fit of rage moments ago. "Everytime," He said, coolly. "Everytime after battle, I'm somehow still alive, and others are dead. By all rights, I should be dead too." Caine said, shaking his head. "Must have a guardian angel watching over me," a cold smile cracked his scarred face. He looked up to the heaven's once more and mouthed the word Liera to himself
"It's still as useless as it was last time I told you so."
A rough, throaty laugh emanated from Caine. "Always useless," He agreed, "Nothing matters except what you do and how you act and how fast you do it," He tapped the saber at his side. "Feelings slow you down, guilt weakens your mind." He said, still rather coldly. "But..." He faltered for a moment. "Still never get used to the loss. Loss of friends, of comrades.. Of family. One moment they're here... then the next," he snapped, "They're gone." He said. He then looked into the eyes of the Dark Elf, solidly as ever, "Always keep your sister close... Always." He noted, a knowing tone clearly evident in his voice.
Tearing away from the somber mood he had set upon himself, rather savagely, he continued. "Four. We lost four today. Next time. I will personally take four out," He said, leaning back in cold anger. The glint in his eyes bespoke quiet confidence... He fully expected to take four Children to their graves next time.
"Boss says I have to learn to fight melee. I don't suppose you'd be willing to do an old comrade a favor and make sure I don't kill myself trying?"
A smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth. He pointed at where her knives would be, and spoke with a bemused tone, "Those flimsy things can only get you so far in a war... Sometime situations call for something a little more.. Rough," He said, tapping the saber again. However, this tap reminded him he had lost the longsword during the scuffle with the child.. He was going to have to get another replacement. He then rubbed his chin as he looked the Dark Elf over. Rather tall for an elf, but still small compared to Orcs or him. Wiry body that screamed assassin. "Right. Well, I wouldn't suggest an axe or hammer, to big and unwieldy for you. Need something that... complements your style. Hit and run." Caine said.
"I'd say light weapon, something quick and fast. Something you can move and dodge with. Wouldn't make sense to strap you down with a shield and block out your other... Specialties.." Assassinations and underhanded tactics. "But, you probably already know this. Go and get something you are comfortable with and come back and I'll see what I can do for you," He said. Although he looked like a meat-head, Caine was quite intelligent when he wasn't knee deep in blood and out of his mind in fury. Too bad was it was too often.
When at last she was able to stand, she solemnly followed the others into the camp, thoughts roiling around in her head at speeds she dared not contemplated. She could still smell death, and the scent of it pressed upon her nose, bringing with it memories of the sounds she had learned to distinguish today- the slick puncture of a blade through flesh, the difference between a hiss of pain and a death rattle, between agony and despair. Things she had never thought to differentiate now seemed monumentally important in their significance; she could not help but think this as the Captain's voice named off the four dead.
She shivered involuntarily. Any one of those four could have been her. All four of them deserved it no more than she did, maybe less. And now they weren't there anymore, the lives they had led cut short, the people they had known left behind even as their own feet touched down on the last path they would ever have to travel, the journey to the beyond-life. Though she'd always been told that such a journey was peaceful, she didn't think it much comfort to those left behind in the wake of it, and she would dare not voice the thoughts aloud.
She thought about volunteering her assistance for healing also, but she realized that she was very weary indeed, and didn't honestly know if she would have the strength left. When it was her turn, she approached, fully intending to go ahead and help anyway, but found herself able to only offer a wan smile at the Captain's words. He told her she could use the tent behind her, but she didn't feel much inclined to be alone at the moment. Instead, she sought out the area where heavier healing was taking place and approached cautiously.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" she asked the halfling in charge. She could tell Beezles was here, and Leila, still injured. The smell of her burns made it obvious, really. "I'm not a master, but I've had a fair bit of practice..." she grimaced slightly, well-aware that the reason for this was that Talae seemed to get fairly injured in open-field combat situations.
Neira glanced around camp, looking for something to do. Her bloodlust had since faded, which meant that she was now bored. She wasn't one to waste the time and energy it took to mourn, but she was not quite so callus as to completely disregard anyone else's need to do the same, so she dismissed the idea of planting herself beside the chatty half-orc and listening to whatever he thought he wanted to say.
Besides, something was bothering her. She was unsure how many of the others had noticed or even cared, but she had, and for once she gave a damn about the answers. Granted, this was mostly because her own life was involved, but the reasons didn't really matter, did they? The Captain had disappeared into his tent, presumably to do whatever it was that officers did when they'd just had to beat a hasty retreat out of a hellhole of a situation that they had not expected to be in.
Well, might as well go directly to the top for the most accurate information, she figured. Plus, she was curious as to whether or not he was actually capable of speaking more than five words to her at any given time. It was probably- obviously- her species that did it, and while she cared not for the reasons, she was not going to deny that it might be rather amusing to confirm the hypothesis at the same time.
She made her approach obvious enough with sound, but one could not exactly knock on a tent, and she didn't give a damn anyway. Pushing aside the entrance flap, she noted that he was sitting at a desk, writing. Ah, reports. How dull.
Crossing her armored arms, Neira spoke bluntly and without wasting time. "Who hates your guts?" she asked, tone bored. "Because last time I checked, sending a bunch of ragtag rookies and a few unstable hands into a fight that big was called suicide. Since I'm guessing you don't have any particular inclination to be dead, that means someone somewhere else does. Or you've just pissed 'em off so much they don't care."
"With an attitude like that, I'm surprised you aren't," she replied to his proclamation that he should be dead. "Who lives and who dies on the battlefield has nothing to do with who deserves it, you know that."
She was left once more with the impression that he had lost someone of paramount importance to himself. A wife, perhaps, or a sister. His reminder was largely unnecessary, but she nodded all the same. "I intend to," she replied truthfully, "but I also have to accept that i will not be able to stand at her side for every moment, and that this is a choice she made. I have no right to deny her her free will for her safety." It was not that she was unconcerned, and indeed, it was obvious enough that the circumstances troubled her, but Talae knew that there were limits to what any one person could do.
At Caine's behest, she found the supplies, rummaging through them for something that would be useful to her. She'd ideally like something with more than one use, since it would not be a great idea to be carrying around as many heavy weapons as she did knives. More than one use, not too heavy, nothing that she'd use with a shield... Talae's eyes fell on a hand-and-a-half sword. Pursing her lips thoughtfully, she hefted it in one hand. She'd seen these used before; the entire point was that the grip could easily be shifted from one to both hands. It would certainly keep her left hand free to throw things, but substitute for the absence of a shield with the capacity to block with two arms.
It was obviously a good deal heavier than anything else she was used to fighting with, but she could hold it without much difficulty and swing all right. If it turned out to be a bit much after a while, she'd simply have to build up strength. It seemed well-balanced at any rate, and she figured it was probably her best option. She remembered something else, and tried a few longswords before finding one that might work. If it didn't, oh well, but she might as well try.
Returning to the bench, she handed Caine the longsword. "Missing something?" she inquired flatly. "There's more over there, if that one is inadequate. I did fond this, though." She drew the hand-and-a-half with a minute shrug. He knew far more about such things than she did, but she thought she might not be so far off-base.
He lay on the stone basin for quite awhile before deciding to drag himself upright and stagger over to who he thought was Pel. As he was healed, his befuddled mind saw her as a savior angel- as the adrenaline had long since stopped flowing and every breath was painful due to the kick that broke several ribs. He was so dazed, he completely missed the meaning behind Pel's last statement, and ultimately forgot about it. Lost in the sense of relief, he thanked her multiple times before walking unsteadily away. So acute was his relief of being alive, he decided to drop the anger he felt at Duran for effectively blinding him and stumbled over to the kitchens. He couldn't sleep, so he decided to focus his scrambled brains by ordering a cup of bitter tea.
After being promptly kicked out by some frustrated cooks, he sat down at the bar tent just outside. He was so lost in his thoughts he went directly to the food rather than going to order it. "Damn it, a cup of your bitterest tea." He said, angry at himself for once. The last confrontation was one of the first battles where the Children were so skilled and numerous, he nearly died. In the past, he HAD fought for the Legions, but most of them were minor skirmishes and the Children didn't outnumber them. In the ambush situation, he had lost most of his sensibility after felling the Lamian Child. When the steaming mug arrived, he sat there playing with the tea bag for a few minutes before throwing a quarter of the liquid down his throat.
"Pain. Pain pain painpainpainpainpain!" He choked. He wisely chose to put the mug down gently instead of dropping it and burning his thighs. The acrid flavor really did bring his mind back into focus, which is why he smiled despite the tears flowing down his face. It was times like these where he felt particularly lonely. He had acquaintances back then, but more often than not he wasn't very important in their book. In a time where your friend could be fried in an instant, very few people had close bonds with another. The pain would just be too great. He finished his mug of tea, leaving money despite the fact that he might not even have had to pay for it and left. He would then walk a distance to the training area in the rain, sit on a bench sheltered by a flap of leather, and pay remembrance to the fallen. During the reading of their names, he was too unsteady to honor them properly, and now that he was focused he could do so.
He remembered that three were dead, one was MIA, possibly dead. The earliest deep humans have made a pact- to support the great lord of the earth and in return gain the ability to call upon his fear-inducing strength. He did not use that in battle, as there were so many and the attacks came so fast in the one-on-one that he wasn't quick enough to summon it.
"O, Great Lord. Your blood cleanses the earth and blesses us. May you watch over those who have fallen on your domain." He muttered, holding his left fist in his right hand. "We will remember." He repeated. He did not specify anybody, as even the children received his same blessing. To not honor the dead that fight so savagely for their beliefs is a crime against nature itself. As if in response, the air around the deep human became almost thick and unsettling for a brief moment. It was nothing substantial, or even perceptible- just a acknowledgement of his prayer from a being far beyond Kisikoni's own comprehension or just a simple anomaly in the air.
The Spider sighed. She lost all her weapons AGAIN.
The moment the translocation finished, the Spider had given the Halfling Cleric a big hug. "You're a darling." She quipped, just before the blond knight turned and offered her regards. "Yes, madame." She replied, tilting her head. Sniffing slightly, she turned and regarded the tattered legion. Her eyes swept them, regarding Neira with some interest. Very rare indeed to see a Nightmarian outside of Ecclavaria. Her gaze rested finally on the Captain of the Fortieth Legion. She smiled slightly, her razor fang retaining the fine white appearance as it contrasted against the rain around her. What a motley crew of misfits.
Wandering away from the group, she paused at the bar. No, not yet. She needed to get new weapons and supplies before she became drunk out of her mind.
She entered the armory tent, and the knight guarding the equipment eyed her. "Dear, I lost all my weapons when I got captured." She explained tiredly. "My entire team was wiped out to my knowledge, and I just want some new toys." She gave him a exasperated look. The knight remained expressionless, but nodded slightly. She skittered about the boxes that lay about. Wasn't nearly as nice as some of the deposits she had been in, but they carried some good flexible weapons.
She fished out a three-section staff. It was essentially three hardwood sticks smoothed out and strengthened. Each stick was about the length of your arm, and one was chained to the other two to provide a powerful defensive and offensive weapon. Usually, the two outer sticks acted as strikers while the middle stick acted as a guard. It could easily trap foes hands by folding on the enemy, and for this particular three-section staff, it was modified with a metal outlining and is studded to act as a war instrument. Satisfied with this, she holstered this and started looking through the boxes once more.
She found another sling, but they were essentially useless because Children were much more resilient to large flying rocks than most other races. A slingshot would be equally as useless. She sighed. She was only ever really proficient with her sling as a long-ranged weapon. She picked up a tomahawk and weighed it in her hand. No way was she going to be able to throw this accurately. She looked around some more.
"Oh. What's this delicious-looking beauty?" She asked rhetorically. She hoisted up a heavy black ball tied to a chain. The Ball and Chain was an early weapon thrown to break a shield line and damage anything in it's way very heavily. She hoisted it up. It would require some practice, but she could make it work. She found three, and hooked the weapons to her abdomen. She pawed through the items at hand once more.
She hoisted out another Mourning Star. These weapons had been very useful in causing significant blunt trauma to armored opponents, something her whip-chain wasn't able to do. Holstering this weapon as well, she found herself another nine-section whip chain to finish off her set of weaponry. The knight watched her exit, before muttering some witty remark about chains.
She arrived at the bar, and saw a Deep Human walking away in the rain toward the training fields. How odd.
She preferred to stand, as no seats would fit her mass and like any spider, stood all the time unless so drunk she sleeps on the ground. Which is what she intended on doing. "I was promised drinks, dear." She said to the barman. "Be a sweetie and fetch five mugs of your best to start." The man moved away, returning (as she asked) with five mugs of fresh liquor. She downed the first one like it was nothing. The second one followed soon after that, and she slowed down on the third one to savor the flavor. After all, one had to have at least some finesse, right?
After being caught in a crushing embrace with a nightmarian and expending every prayer she had asked her patron for that day, Pel was more than ready for some sleep. Padding along the loamy ground, the halfling was only a few feet away from her tent when a high voice caught her attention. Pel turned around slowly to lock a set of sleep-deprived eyes on Faera. "You realize that there's nothing left to do but wait, right?" Her heritage getting the better of her, Pel closed on the dark elf and allowed the barrier between her brain and mouth to thin.
"I thought you were a mage. What kind of mage has healing spells? You do realize that a body can only accept so much magic before it begins to reject it, much like an antivenom can be lethal with the wrong dosage, otherwise we'd all be in tip-top shape 24/7. Guessin' you haven't healed much more than superficial wounds before? Back on the mage thing, how can you heal? A better question: How can you study healing magic without your offensive magic suffering greatly? Why in the name of Avernus would you not specialize--"
"That's enough." an alabaster hand patted Pel's head, ceasing the endless flow of questions. Beelzes shooed the halfling off into her tent and spun on her heel to smile brightly at Faera. She still wore her tinted eye-glasses, as did many of those unaccustomed to sunlight, and rubbed her shaved head in mock exasperation. "Well! I figure you've had your fill of..." Beelzes scowled, leaning in close to Faera's face. Had the dark elf been gifted with sight, she would have seen the various tattoos writhing across the warlock's palid skin. Behing the shades, her eyes were alight with sudden understanding. "My word! Little Shanir! You're blind!"
What should have a been a quiet sigh of exasperation became a sharp intake of breath. Something in his chest produced a heated itching sensation and it was all Wrath could do to keep a straight face as he met Neira's eyes. The papers he had been writing on were pushed aside. Out of sight. The nightmarian's words were heard only distantly, and Wrath forced a rueful smile. "Lady...Noir? Forgive me if I did not...get your name correct. If nobody told you, we...the Fortieth, is a 'dump' legion. We are the very definition of expendable." Wrath took a steadying breath and wiped away the sweat beading at his forehead. "That is why we rarely do solo missions that require a good amount of skill or expertise. As to why this particular mission went so badly, despite having succeeded, I have sent an inquiry to high-command--"
"Should I not have come then?" A youthful deep human waltzed into the tent with a slight smile. It was pouring outside, and his leathers had not even a drop of water on them. He glanced at the mercenary and waved jovially. "Hello! You may want to step outside. I have something to discuss with captain Liu-Wen." wisps of white flames licked at the soles of the newcomers boots as he sat down on the bed facing Wrath. "So you say that there are magic-using Children of Fire now?"
As Neira would leave, a large lamia with ivory horns and a tall elf woman appeared through the doorway and moved to join the discussion.
"Damnit..." The corpses littering the forest floor were numerous at first, but grew more scarce as Yanis made his way through the trees. His stump of a hand proved to be less of a hindrance than an annoyance, pulsing with a sickening ache with every heartbeat. The halfling was halfway to the tower now and approaching his goal. "Damnit..."
He had seen it. Seen it with his own eyes. Earlier when it was still dark, Yanis was skulking through the underbrush trying to meet up with commander Yan'vega. The Children captured her, and the elf stood over her with his eyes locked on hers. Something strange...alien passed between them, and Mercy appeared to faint for a moment. The elven Child smirked and said, So that's where they were spying from...north. Set the next trap and we shall move. I want to be at the tower by..." Somewhere around that time was when Yaris had been detected and his hand severed. The last time he laid eyes on Zakair, the elf flashed a toothy smile and said: "She won't remember."
Looking back on it, his meaning was obvious. Mercy's mind had been tampered with via psionics. The knowledge of the entire scouting mission she had led was wiped from her mind, so in the unlikely event of a successful rescue, she would be of no import to the Legion. So the task fell to Yaris, the last carrier of the vital intelligence that would save thousands of lives. Perhaps more. If only he could get to the tower to send the signal...
Of course, this brought a rather different sort of questioning about, and Faera smiled brightly at the warlock's rather belated revelation. "I am indeed without sight," she replied, more entertained by the nature of the exclamation than offended. It wasn't as though blind mercenaries were just walking around all over the place, after all, and she had expected a certain degree of surprise or caution when it came to her.
"She's right about one thing, though..." Fae continued with a troubled frown. "I honestly don't know anything about magic apart from how to use it." She had never had a formal teacher, exactly, just picked up spells here or there from people who used them, and sometimes had Talae read aloud to her from books with further information. Specialization had never been a concern; when she found she couldn't preform a particular technique, she had simply thought it beyond her power and left it at that. She'd learned what she needed to learn, that both she and her sister would survive, and the underpinnings were completely unknown to her in this respect. She called herself a mage simply because she didn't know a better word.
Neira shook her head. She should have bloody well expected as much. "Well, shit, Captain," she said sarcastically. "There's a difference between expendable and useless, but I guess who ever runs this gods-awful parody of an army doesn't know that." Rolling her eyes, she complied when it was made obvious she should leave just as bereft of answers as she had entered. Whatever. It wasn't like she was fooled. He'd been damned angry earlier, and that meant he wasn't nearly as accepting of this situation as he pretended to be.
She hadn't missed the hitch in his breathing either, and contemplated the rather entertaining possibility that he was literally allergic to her on her way out, giving no acknowledgement to those who entered, though she did take note of them. Unless she was very much mistaken, the Captain had important friends. Expendable, indeed. Soft-skins made for terrible liars.
Now of course, she was presently unsure of what to do. She was feeling rather like killing something might be a good idea, but then killing things was always a pretty good idea as far as Neira was concerned. Maybe she should go for an alternative approach. making nice with the other soldiers was out. Even if she'd been inclined to, now was hardly the time, this hardly the place, and she hardly capable. Ah, parallelism.
So she opted for the middle ground- hitting the bar. It was already occupied, by a fellow Nightmarian, no less. Now there was an odd sight. The spider seemed to be knocking them back like it was going out of style, and for some reason, that seemed like a bloody good idea. "I'll have what she's having," Neira told the bartender. "Just... slower."
Then his attention turned to Talae's sword, a larger, hand-and-a-half sword. "That'll carve a Child real nice," he said without a hint of a joke. "I suppose it'd be a lot more flexible to use than a big-ass claymore or a tiny shortsword." He said, inspecting the sword. He was going to have to do a good job of guiding her on the nuances of the blade and what he learned in Legion training, otherwise, she might be the one to not make it out of the next conflict.
He then looked up at the sky again. It was still raining and didn't look to let up soon. "Right, let's go ahead and get the basics out of the way now... Never know when we may be thrown into the next ambush," He said in a raw tone. He strode out into the open, in a clearer space and spoke, racking his brains for the right words. Most of this was coming from common sense and combat training. He wasn't the most... refined person in battle and didn't often think strategies in battle. He just did what came naturally and tried to kill his opponent.
"I help you out on what to do when you are beset by conventional means, but.." he interjected for a moment, "About the Children's ability to conjure fire out of their hands and throat? Get the hell out of the way and don't let them grab you." He said, holding up the scarred and red arm. "If you have to get close to one and fight, then end it damn quick. Aim for the throat, and if you're lucky, their head will melt before your eyes... Always an amusing sight," He said with a chuckle. "Otherwise, never stop and keep moving. Use your assassin skill set and underhanded tactics and always try to keep an advantage." He then looked away from Talae for a moment and into the sea of tents. "I can't teach you what to do when under fire," Clearly, he had an arm to testify.
"But, I can give you a fair shot of martial skills," He said, tossing the longsword to his dominant hand. He was tired from his fury and his injuries, but he was well enough to do this. "I never been the one much for words. So, we'll try this the old fashioned way. Come after me with that sword. See if you can't best me," he said with a mischievous grin. Always a man of action, Caine.
Perhaps the little activity will also take his minds off the ones that were lost today.
“Nature teaches us one fundamental lesson. Adapt or die.”
As those words sounded, an endless plane stretched out before him. Darkness as far as the eye could see stretched out into infinity. Duran was all alone in this void. Suddenly, from the horizon, a great battle came into view. Primah and Civee fought with each other. A storm brewed overhead. Lightning flashed and thunder crashed. A violent wind blew in, and on it a sick heat that swept over the battlefield. Slowly but surely, the battle halted, as warrior after warrior began to fall, grasping at some invisible combatant that had slain them with neither sword nor spell. From the horizon, a great black dragon rose to fill the sky, spewing fire and cackling wickedly. It hovered above Duran, and spoke words that he could not understand. Immediately, the rest of the life on the battlefield died. The trees, the grass, any warriors that were lucky enough to survive the sick wind of death that had fallen upon the battlefield. Everything was dead.
Duran fell to his knees, and before him, a single flower grew in front of him. Again, the dragon cursed the battlefield, but this time, nothing happened. It roared furiously in an upheaval of fire, but the more it thrashed about in the sky, the more futile it became. More and more flowers began to bloom from the bodies and bloodshed growing almost violently in opposition to the evil beast looming above. In the darkness above, the sun came into view, starting as a small point of light, but growing brighter and stronger.
A blinding explosion ripped through the battlefield from the sun above, and a pillar of fire pierced the dragon's heart. One final roar sounded into nothingness as the it was incinerated completely. From the fire, a great winged humanoid appeared. Duran was awe-stricken and fell to his knees almost instinctively. As he looked up, he was nearly blinded by the corona of light it shed.
Duran woke up with a startle. He was breathing hard, and a cold sweat covered his brow. He looked around the tent, only to get an inquisitive look from Goma. He looked down at his hands; they were trembling. He stood up and exited the tent, with only one thought on his mind.
"That was just a dream, right?"
Besides, in the thick of battle he hadn't been able to see either warriors fight, and he was particularly interested to see how his partner Talae did while he was busy punching a Lamia unconscious. Beforehand, he pulled out a butterfly sword- he hadn't had the time to inspect the weapon until now. Checking the edge, he knew that it required sharpening despite the durable, heavy blade. He resheathed it, making note that he'd do it later. His whetstones were in his tent anyways. Then it hit him. He had left his goddamn crossbow out in the field. His goddamn customized crossbow that cost him a pretty penny and a ton of time to learn how to use is fucking gone.
He cursed under his breath, looking away to make sure that nobody took this the wrong way. He would have to get some kind of substitute. Taking the makeshift crossbow arrows that were made for his weapon, he angrily stuck them into the ground. [i]God fuckin' damn it.[/spoiler] He thought as he turned back to watch the fight.
She finished her third drink just as the bartender tossed some mugs of liquor down to the newcomer. Mercy debated on ignoring her, because most Nightmarians outside of Ecclavaria were exiled or insane. However as her vision began to get funky she disregarded the idea. Taking a large swig of the fourth mug she turned her entire waist toward the Dragonfly.
"Never thought I'd see one of us outside of Ecchie, dear." She said softly, Her eight voluminous red eyes blinking out of unison. She tapped the wooden bar, and three more mugs were placed on the table in front of her by a very disgruntled looking barman. "Got tired of Antsies trying to get under your shell?"
Even so, she wasn't about to say no if he thought it was a good idea to begin right now. "That much, I had figured," she replied flatly to his comment about the Children-issued flames. The burn mark looked rather nasty, but she figured a healer had looked at it already and thus it probably wasn't causing him pain any longer. She considered herself lucky that she'd managed to escape such damage... she might have to thank the Captain for that later, now that she got to thinking about it.
They reached an open space, and Talae shifted her grip on the length of cold steel beneath her hands. A sound caught her ears, and she noted with some trepidation that Kisikoni had appeared. Nothing quite like an audience to make humiliation painful, she thought wryly, but perhaps it was a good thing. She didn't exactly relish the idea of her partner thinking her incompetent, but it was probably good information to have, now wasn't it?
The bastard sword was a common enough choice of armament, and she tried to recall how she might have seen them being held. She may not be the most experienced fighter out there, nor the strongest, but she did have something of an eye for detail, an absolute necessity when concocting acid and poison alike. Of course, the trick was remembering who she'd seen handle weapons well, and the difference between what they did, and how rookies handled it. Taking a solid but not white-knuckled grip, then, she heeded Caine's advice and decided that standing around wasn't going to help anything.
She came at him quickly, pivoting at the last second to try striking for his side instead of head-on. The fact of the matter was that he was far stronger than she could ever hope to be, and so in order to stand a chance of hitting anything, she'd have to be faster, and trickier.
Even though, Caine swung the longsword around and blocked the bastard sword, holding the blade in a downward angle and using his opposite hand to steady the blade and add support. By this point, Caine too had realized they were being watched by the Deep Human, Kisikoni. Great, an audience always proved to be fun, Caine told himself in his sardonic mind. But he didn't have time to voice any concern or pleasure. Caine pushed on the blade, as if trying to push Talae and her sword back and overwhelm her, a mark of the Berserker. Overwhelm one's enemy in any way possible, act quickly and strongly, either by a hail of strikes or pure brute power.
This was perhaps not the smartest thing to do, because the Dark Elf could simply move out of the way, and all of the weight behind the push would send him flying forward. He wondered for a second if she understood that. Talae had heightened senses, agility, speed, everything Caine didn't. Caine relied on mostly brute force and fierce intimidation, as the numerous roars, growls, and snarls on the battle field indicated.
He then spoke behind the locked swords to Talae, "I've stopped your blade and in seconds will overwhelm and crush you," He said, putting a little more strength behind the push of his blade, "Now how are you gonna act?" He asked in an intimidating voice. Then he took a step forward, closer to Talae and increased the pressure on the blades even more.
The crimson-scaled lamia was issuing a low hiss. Shokunen Helvaras, newly coronated king of the lamian nation, had a torrid temper so common among his people. Most would have avoided him entirely if he hadn't had that face of an angel. "Stop beating around the bush pale mon..." Shokunen bit back the insult and raised his hands in supplication. "My apologies general, but we are pressed for time." The dark-skinned elf nodded in agreement.
"No offense taken." Nhil smiled. "As I was saying, you have encountered magic-wielding Children. Grimsmirk sent her report a few minutes ago...they wore red, she said?" Wrath nodded. "What sort of magic are we talking? Arcane? Divine? Infernal? Did any other features distinguish them from the other Children? Do you have any idea why they are there? When--"
"How do we kill them?" it was the first Kocarah had spoken since arriving, and her words cut the air like a knife. The elven princess was thumbing the pommel of the tomahawk resting on her belt. Nhil smiled and spread his arms as if that single sentece summed up the entirety of the meeting.
Wrath tried not to finch under the scrutiny of three of the most powerful individuals on Norr. He spent a few moments trying to recall what little he saw of the spell-duel in the skies. After a few minutes of strained silence, Wrath shook his head in frustration. "I'm not sure. I saw them hit with fire and lightning, scored with talons and pierced with arrows. By the time we were forced to retreat both of them were still there...just waiting. You would have to ask Qinn or Brightwing for more information."
Nhil, Shokunen and Kocarah looked to eachother with grave expressions. Both royals disappeared with a dull flash of light and a quiet crackling sound. Only the high general of the Legion of Ashes remained, standing up and moving closer to Wrath. Nhil searched his pockets and produced a small sunburst emblem. Wrath's eyes widened, then quickly narrowed in suspicion. "You are...promoting me? Why?"
"You're talents have finally been recognized." somehow, Nhil managed to look completely serious while saying this.
Beelzes tapped her chin in thought. "Hm." It took a long while of mental deliberation, but she eventually found the words that seemed most appropriate. "That can't be safe. You can't see, and you know next to nothing of the nature of the forces you wield like an extension of your will?" Beelzes shed the first layer of her leather tunic, only wearing a thin white shift and the armored pants. She pulled up a couple chairs and motioned for Faera to sit. "Oh. Right. No eyes. Sit! I have inquiries!" Setting her chin in her palms, Beelzes stared at Faera with wide, red orbs. "Your power is obviously arcane...no spirits or animistic passes accompanied your invocations. Since you can't see and therefore cannot study a spellbook, that rules out wizard or sage. Hm. Sorcerer? Do you feel the power of the arcane flowing through your veins? Oh! Maybe a savant! Just an abnormality of a person that creates magic instead of harnessing it! Wouldn't that be fun?!"
"Never thought I'd see one of us outside of Ecchie, dear. Got tired of Antsies trying to get under your shell?" Neira scoffed slightly. Now there was a thought to dent your carapace.
"Well, you know, only so much nihilism, despair, and short-sighted idiocy you can take before you want to kill something, and apparently that's not the greatest idea when the only things around are your own people. Really, I was surprised to hear it, because frankly I never used to think that Nightmarians did the whole cower-in-fear thing. Guess you learn something new every day." This particular version of the story was one of her favorites, partially because it was actually fairly close to the truth, though how close was not something she was even sure she knew anymore. The truth was rusty, or something.
Downing her beverage, she set the flagon down and moved to the next unhurriedly. "Neira Valtegan," she offered carelessly, fixing her overlarge eyes on the spider beside her. "And I'd be inclined to ask the same of you."
Faera sat, inclined to be agreeable as she was, and tried to sort through the yet more questions being flung at her. Half the terms she'd only heard a few times, so she figured her best bet was probably just to describe what she knew of her magic and let Beelzes do the categorization bit. "Um... well... when I cast, it's kind of like... moving magic out of the air, maybe? Like this."
The elf made gestures that at first seemed largely meaningless, moving invisible strands into place in front of her. Slowly, the process gained visibility, though obviously Faera would have no way of knowing this. Pale wisps of energy flickered into view as she grasped them, having for all appearances not been there before, and she directed them to form a very small sphere, the initial formation for one of the healing spells she knew. "I can sense where it is, and move it by moving may arms or legs."
To demonstrate, she flicked her index finger, sending the little orb flying across the room, then directing it back with a beckon. "Since I've never actually... you know... seen someone do magic, I'm not sure what it's supposed to look like." She shrugged, causing Zek to growl, having been comfortably asleep on her shoulder, and a small stream of smoke issued from his nostrils.
The brothers pressed on, their footsteps hurried though their eyes and movements seemed more cautious. Gormun followed a few lengths behind his brother, who spent most of his time sweeping the ground for signs of what lay ahead of them. Looking away from the back of his brother he took in the sights of the trees pressed around them, of various size, shape and kind. He closed his eyes form a moment and looked ahead, his mind filled with stories the Shawoman told him… told all of them of a time before the Dragons. Where the Civee were the enemies but there was still a freedom to move around. Their father was one such hunter that combed the forests for threats to the horde and food.
The horde… another thing that died quickly with the dragons. Thousands of Orcs used to be under the Shawoman’s care, after the death of her husband and the War Lord. Guided by her premonitions and fighting the Civee when necessary, it was a sensation he’d never know. Their horde fell to shambles at the fall of Gia, so many Orcs dead in the aid of helping others escape… And for what? To watch two of them to be wiped from the face of the earth and third vanish, for some of their closest friends be turned into mindless animals.
Movement brought his mind back to the task at hand; Brack had raised his war hammer. Caution, something ahead, keep silent. The signals were practiced constantly between the two, a silent code only they knew, it helped make them efficient. Hunkering down, shoulders dropping as a hand clutched the handle of his sword his eyes peered around as he drew closer.
“More bodies. ‘Nother fight.” Brack motioned ahead a bit and when Gormun squinted his eyes a bit he could see them.
“Lead on.” He fell into place a few steps behind his younger brother, bodies crouched as them moved towards and past the corpses, his brother using his war hammer in short low swishes to knock aside the brush and look for tracks. The sound of their walking in the brush and fallen leaves had dropped dramatically. Looking at the back and side of his brother’s face, he didn’t need a signal to know he found someone’s tracks. With his free hand he patted his brother’s back and they pressed on.
The sound dropped again. Yanis sucked in his breath and kept as quiet as he cold, still moving on but trying not to make any noise as he moved on. Something or someone was following him and it seemed to have half a mind to hide its approach to an extent. Did the Children send someone back to makes sure they were all dead? Had they picked up his trail? That didn’t seem right. Since when did a single Child need to sneak around after one injured target? The approach was closer and he moved around a tree quickly and quietly, pressing himself to it and closing his eyes, trying to have his stomach and mind ignore the throb where his hand was missing.
Waiting and listening to the occasional sound from his pursuers set his mind on edge. Breathing slowly his eyes looked to the side, waiting for them to catch up and hopefully move on. He could hear their footfalls clearly now, there was two of them. At that moment a pair of Orcs moved past him and stopped, both standing up from their crouched run.
Looking at them closely their dark green bodies were covered with marks and scars, their armor died deep brown and some sort of leather, the shorter of the two seemed to be carrying both a war hammer AND a battle axe. The other had a sword that could easily be as large as he was. He saw no mark or hint of them being Children, and he doubted one of the Children would even remove their white robes. Perhaps they had been hunting the forest and led as well? But why would they need to sneak around, and why would they stop after just passing him?
He had to get to the tower and the signal as fast as he could, but moving around the orcs and keeping himself hidden from them may take more time than necessary. Stepping out from the tree he approached them, ”Were you looking for me?”
Brack spun around at the sound of the voice, hands clenching his weapons before he paused and looked down. The halfling before him wore armor, and was missing a hand, the wound untreated but the bleeding stopped. He seemed tired, bothered by pain, yet determined. “What’re you doing out here?”
“You’re not with the Children I take it?”
“Ha, we with the Shawoman. Sent us out here to stop premonition. Who’re you?” He pointed his finger back at the smaller of the three in the area.
“Yanis, soldier of the Legion of Ashes. I won’t ask about this Sha…woman or these premonitions, but I will take your help.”
The brothers looked between each other. “What you need?”
“I need to make it to a tower to raise a signal to warn the Legion about the Children. Skipping the details I’m slightly more than half way, could you help me get there?”
The brothers looked at each other again, “Maybe premonition helps legion?”
“Great threat to Legion may threaten Shawoman.”
“Threaten Shawoman, threaten tribe.”
“Yes.” The spoke as one and faced the Halfling.
“We give you our aid.” Brack smiled as best his tusks would allow. “Lead us to this tower.”
Only a whisper called out but in the forest of silence it was heard as clear as day. The brothers and Yanis stopped and turned, the larger two of the three ready and guarded for an attack.
In the trees a small bit away stood a huntress. She was a deep human and her skin was as pale as the full moon, untouched from the sun in a long time. Silver hair streaked with white fell down over her shoulders as a few remained forwards. Her armor was tanned and mixed of earthy browns and blacks, almost as if it sat with the shadows. In her hands was a smooth and intricately carved longbow, the quiver hovering near right shoulder. Two blade handles rested over her left shoulder as a long blade rested at her right hip. Her bow was drawn; arrow aimed at the small group though her hands shook slightly. Sapphire eyes watching them, as the barest edge of crimson lurked there.
”What are you doing here?”
She leaped sideways, disengaging as suddenly as possible, which would hopefully have more of an effect on his balance than simply easing away. The slight scrape of steel on steel echoed in their clearing, but she scarcely took note of it, trying to focus only on what mattered. Her maneuver put her in a fairly good position, all things considered, and she took the perhaps too-obvious opening at his back, realizing only after she had committed to the swing that it would probably be apparent to him that she would do that. And predictability meant that there was probably some way around it.
Of course, it didn't help that she'd definitely just told him what she was going to do, but that particular piece of idiocy was forgiven by the fact that this was instructional in nature and she also didn't actually want to kill him or anything. Right, just keep telling yourself that, Talae. she resisted the urge to roll her eyes at herself only because it wasn't exactly an appropriate time to lose sight of her opponent.
Still, she couldn't well try to stop her momentum now; not only did she risk wrenching something in her arms, but it would make her position that mus more vulnerable. Instead, she shifted to the balls of her feet and adjusted her footing slightly- when the counter came, she'd be ready to deal with it in as many different was as possible. Options were always good.
The complete deadpan tone of this sentence threw Caine off... Would Talae actually tell him her attack like that? Was there a chance that she was messing with his head? Damn Dark Elves and their mind games. She could be just as easily be lying as telling the truth, and the tone gave no indication of which. Caine would have been frustrated at her if this wasn't a spar.
Either way, Caine continued to press the sword lock. All the way up until she did, in fact, disengage and hopped to the side. The quickness of the Dark Elf disappearing from the front and the sudden emptiness where his blade was forced him to lurch forward, throwing him off-balance... Something you'd expect from a Dark Elf. Caine stumbled forward one step and hit his left knee with a wet thump into the mud.
Without pausing to stand and think, instinct took over and he twisted and contorted his body, sliding his knee over the wet ground (accompanied by a slight damp sucking sound) enough so that he was able to pull the longsword behind him and intercept Talae's bastard sword. Sparks flew from the blades and pushed the human backwards. Good thing she did take the obvious route and attacked at his back. If she chose to continued around and attack his opposite side, he may have been in trouble. However, even if Caine managed to stop the Bastard sword from cleaving him in twain, the uncomfortable and straining position he was in took it's toll. At the last minute, he pushed with all of his strength on the locked swords to try and push the attack off. This did, however, send him further backwards...
Immediately after deflection, Caine fell over backwards, head over heels, due to a combination of the force of the Bastard sword and positioning. Figuring this would be a great time to gain distance, he flowed with his body backwards. On his back he continued the roll over his shoulder and his legs continued to fly over him. With his legs pass his head and body, Caine used his free hand to push off of the ground and hopped back into a standing position. Even back on his feet, he shambled backwards, confused, disoriented, and still off-balance. The mud wasn't forgiving either as he slid back more than he stepped
If Talae chose to pursue him, Caine would be at a disadvantage with the quick and nimble Elf. He held out his longsword at a diagonal angle to defend most of his torso and his left hand flew out to his side to try and balance himself. The hand was encased in a film of mud as was his entire back, hair and left knee. He looked a mess, but he didn't seem to mind.
"Are you going to tell your next move?" he asked with sarcastic wit.
He might have been pushed back, but her footing was nowhere near as solid as she would have liked either. Though she had balance in spades, even the considerable ability of her species to stay firmly where they wished to be- including hanging from things- did not really apply when there was nothing to grip onto. Her boots raked in the wet earth, leaving two obvious skid marks where she fought not to be pushed back and to the ground.
In the end, the leverage afforded by her relative positioning was enough to keep her on her feet, and it was Caine who moved, apparently with the intent of increasing distance and perhaps buying himself time enough to recover and start the exchange anew. Accustomed to using this tactic herself, she recognized it for what it was and knew that the best thing to do was press the advantage it gave her.
"Are you going to tell your next move?" His humor was as dry as her own at the moment, and the corner of her mouth twitched into a half-smile.
Without warning, she took off, mindful that running breakneck was likely to end badly. So it was not at full speed but quickly enough that she made her next approach, angling for his right side. "Mmm... I don't think so. It's hard for an assassin to be honest twice in the same day, you know." That in itself was a warning, albeit a subtle one, and at the last moment, Talae, who had looked highly dedicated to attacking the right, dove sideways and rolled, springing to her feet in enough time to level a double-handed blow to his left, which she knew to be his off-hand side.
She skidded slightly in the mud, and almost went down herself. As it was, the blow would not land exactly where she had aimed it (his ribcage), but rather slice at the side of his leg. Assuming, of course, that it managed to hit anything at all. "You know," she remarked, "I do think this would be rather more difficult if you swung at me every now and then." She knew that thus far he had been much more defensive than usual, and she understood the reason for it- frankly, she didn't stand much of a chance at besting him in such straightforward combat. She was without poison or terrain advantage, after all. But all the same... the Children weren't going to let up just because she was new at this. she might need more practice dodging and blocking than anything, really, at least if she planned to stay alive.
As the third contact took place Kisikoni began to worry for the healing Beserker. Instructional fighting was fine and all, but with the Assassin taking advantage of his weak spots with her blinding speed, there might be blood. Of course, he trusted the elf not to intentionally harm, but if Caine didn't react quickly enough even a dulled weapon could hurt him. And that'd just be trouble for the medics.
Spectating the fight began to put a little hop into Kisikoni's own hands. He wanted to get in on this, but this was an instructional fight. If anything, he could probably teach them a thing or two about hand-to-hand combat, but when it came to weaponry, he was only at about the same level as them. Give or take. He was beginning to get an idea of how the two fought in combat. As pertaining to their names, Talae often relied on her speed and agility to attack weak points. Caine liked to force opponents into submission. Kisikoni began to think about his own habits when fighting, and decided to try and correct them- as habits often lead into patterns, and patterns could easily be predicted by a dextrous enemy.
The Nightmarian Spider giggled at the remark. "Oh yes. Grim little bastards, no?" She replied. Neira, huh? She could get used to her. She was only half-serious with her remark about the ants, but her eight eyes did catch the subtle reaction. She remembered fondly the many denizens of the hive-city. She wondered if the Queen was still alive.
She decided to answer the Dragonfly's question. She saw no reason in enlightening her, especially after her fifth glass and her vision was already blurred as hell. "Me? Dear, I haven't seen Ecclavaria in over ninety years." She said, almost amused at how much time had passed since her expulsion. "I was exiled. Didn't want to fight in a war against other races. I was an idiot, because what am I doing now? Fighting." She laughed. "The one thing I haven't forgotten was this." She held her glass up to the sky, sloshing some liquor onto the bar table. In an instant, the liquid had gone down her throat. She paused. She almost forgotten her manners.
"My name is Murecialga Yan'vega. Mercy for short, dear." She hesitated slightly, her voluminous red eyes returning to the next glass. "Tell me, dear. How were things in the little Hive City before you left?"
The pair of words escaped his mouth as Talae engaged once again, flying towards towards him at a brash pace. He had regained composure and footing once again and was beginning to realize that the Dark Elf was learning to use her assassin wiles in combination with the bastard sword. Which of course, would throw Caine off. Deception, misdirection, he was going to have to expect all of these things from the assassin... Easier said than done. Instead of charging her as well, something he would do in a berserk fury, he held his ground. The reasoning behind that was the ground was quickly becoming slosh under their feet. He wasn't completely sure he could keep his footing.
Unbeknown to Talae, this was much of a learning experience for Caine as her. He hadn't had to worry about an assassin charge him before. A slippery opponent is a hard one to fight, even more so if they could spit fire at you in a moments notice. So he hunkered down and prepared for her. He refrained from entering his berserker rage as this was just a spar and he didn't want to lose control and unintentionally wound her... As a result, he was also a bit more... Methodical in his approach. Without rage clouding his mind, he could think. Although, his calling card was to still try and overwhelm his opponent, he was working a little bit smarter to accomplish this goal.
Then she dove, away from his right. Instantly, Caine knew she was after his left... If had was using the saber in tandem with the longsword, then this wouldn't have been much of a problem... But as it was, it was elevated to an annoyance. Caine pivoted on a foot, sliding his left through the smooth mud and awaited contact. However, the strike was not aimed at center mass like he expected, but somewhere around his foot. He further slid his foot back in the mud away from the sharp blade. She had slid in the slick mud and that finally allowed him an opening... Finally.
"You know," she remarked, "I do think this would be rather more difficult if you swung at me every now and then."
"Well dammit, stop being so damn slippery then." He said to Talae, a hint of annoyance in his voice. Caine had realized that Talae slid in the mud and almost went down herself, which provided an opening for him and an idea. Instead of simply striking from the right with his sword, a he took a step forward and used his free hand, the left, and tried to push her down into the mud. If successful, Caine would pivot again, face Talae fully, and hew downward with his blade at the grounded elf. If she had fallen from the shove, then Caine could try and overwhelm her from his better positioning. Of course, Talae was slippery after all. He had no doubt that the elf could try and weasel her way out of this one... It was his job to try and stop that.
"Damn weather," He offered
"Oh, of course. Sorry; allow me to make it easy for you." There was a trace of amusement on her face, even as her sword whistled harmlessly past his leg and became embedded in the loamy ground. Unfortunately, this did force her to stop, at least for as long as it took to pull the length of steel from the earth once more.
Ample time for Caine's hand to connect with her shoulder, then, and send her sprawling, the healthy squelch of mud under her back a sign that she would need to spend some time cleaning her armor this evening, if at all possible. "Damn weather, indeed." the weather certainly hadn't toppled her over, but what the hell? Not like there wasn't plenty of blood and Child-gore all over the leather anyway- mud was an improvement. Scowling, she shot the berserker a dirty look and lashed out with her feet, trying to catch him in the back of the knee-joints and throw him off-balance.
Not wanting to leave enough time for him to press his advantage, though, mean that she was rolling to her side and scrambling to her feet as quickly as possible. She debated fleeing a few steps backwards to regain her bearings, but that would serve her poorly in the end, and she ultimately decided on something else.
He seemed reluctant to move, understandably so, given the precarious footing they were both on, and the fact that it would probably be a great deal harder for him to get up than her, what with relative mass and everything. She was also aware that between the exertion earlier today and the unfamiliar weight of this particular weapon, she didn't have much longer to go before she slowed drastically and became less than adept at doing much of anything.
So she stayed in at close range, darting around to try and get at his back again, her swing less strong than last time, for fear it might end up immobilizing her again otherwise.
"Oh, of course. Sorry; allow me to make it easy for you."
"Oh no, can't have that, can we? Nothing's easy, don't you know that?" Caine said sardonically to himself. He turned over and began to heft himself up, he size and weight detrimental to the speed of his rising. He slid around trying to gain solid footing. From the wallowing in the mud, Caine was now filthy. He was going to have to give his armor and leather and good scrubbing before the Captain initiates a dress check or something...
On his feet, Talae was already upon him, darting around trying to get as his back... Probably. Caine grunted as he tried to follow Talae's movements with his eyes, avoiding spinning in place in fear of splattering on the ground again. She swung at his back again and he pivoted to his right, the dominant side to block. As he fear, his left foot threatened to slide out from under him, but he managed to keep it in check. However it stopped his pivot short and he was only a quarter of the way around to face Talae.
To compensate, Caine arched his back and turned his torso around to catch the bastard sword in another uncomfortable position. However, unlike last time, his footing was relatively solid. He pressed a hand on flat part on the upper end of the blade to stabilize it and grant more strength the weapon. Then, he pushed with brute strength on the blade, hoping to send Talae stumbling backwards.
He finally picked a foot up and planted it in front of his solidly, digging into the mud. Another solid stomp forward would place him in front of Talae. Finally, feeling a bit more confident, he slashed at Talae's left shoulder followed by another slash aimed at her right. If she could not block these strikes then Caine would land the flat of the blade on her shoulders, probably leaving a bruise, but otherwise unharmed. This would probably be the last offensive move Caine could preform, now feeling tired and his movements sluggish.
Either way, Caine felt sure Talae had learned and adapted to the bastard sword proficiently.
The blow to her left shoulder connected, and though it was only the flat of the blade, the force was great, and she knew it would have sliced her arm off if his sword had been angled correctly. This in mind, Talae held up a hand in the signal for yield, leaning heavily on her blade, breath coming in short pants rather than the steady draws of resting readiness. "You got me," she said, "I'd be dead right now in a real fight, so we'll call it yours." a cleaving of her arm would have been enough to leave her vulnerable to a more vital strike, one which he would have taken advantage of if she were a Child and not an acerbic sparring partner.
She extended her right hand, intending to shake on it. That was what people did in situations like this, right? It was hard to say exactly, since she hadn't really made practice matches against actual people a habit before. "Thank you," she told him, with an incline of her head. "Now I think it might be a good idea to clean ourselves up and get some rest. No good to chew each other up and make it easier for a bloody white-robe to finish it, eh?"
She wondered idly what her sister was doing, and decided it might be an excellent time to return to the tent they'd be sharing, clean her armor (and herself, at that), and deal with whatever Faera had to say about the events of the day. It was likely to be unpleasant; her sister's rather sympathetic demeanor likely made the whole thing a bit difficult to stomach, and trying to explain the necessity of running Children through, while easy in terms of logic, was not by any stretch of the imagination pleasant.
She left her new sword unsheathed for the moment- she'd have to clean it too before she put it back in the sheath and figured out how best to strap it to her person. She wasn't exactly short, but she just might lack the height required to make the hip the best place. Perhaps it would do better affixed to her back? Something to try, anyway.
Almost gleaming in the candle light, the twin weapons lay side by side inside their ebony wood casing. Each exotic sword was made of tempered steel fashioned into a thin blade that ended in sharpened u-shaped hooks. The hilts, wrapped in black leather, were guarded by crescent blades and on the very end of the weapons were small knife-like points. Oddly enough, down the center of each blade's body were miniscule holes no larger than the diameter of a bead. Wrath's eyes were as wide as saucers as he gaped at the infamous Tiger Hooks. His father's weapons. "Where...they were destroyed when he died...how?"
"Do you truly think we did not retrieve General Liu-Wen's equipment upon searching for his remains?" Nhil's smile was genuine enough, but something felt forced about the gesture. He held up the case where the swords lay and offered them to Wrath. "Granted, all we managed to recover were some tattered orange cloth and scraps of twisted metal, but," Nhil nodded at the Tiger Hooks, "What little was left we combined with enchanted steel to recreate Fong's weaponry. For you."
"For me? I don't understand. You of all people know how little I know of swordcraft...you almost kicked me out of basic training..." the words faded into silence as three iron golems stepped out of white fiery portals into the increasingly crowded tent. One held an embroidered suit of live leather armor that pulsed faintly with powerful enchantment before returning to it's normal luster, along with a crimson cloak. The second of the constructs cupped a velvet pillow between it's great hands. On top of the fabric was a small chain made of silver with a charm in the shape of a vortex.
"And you of all people know of my affinity for the spirit world." Nhil set the case holding the weapons on the bed and grabbed the pendant to dangle it's charm in front of Wrath's face. "I know you aren't the best swordsman...he knows too. Within this charms lies a small portion of your father's soul. Nothing valuable like the mind or personality," he said with a placating gesture to ward off any protest, "But something he won't need in the afterlife. His talent for dealing death. His skill." Wrath narrowed his eyes, sudden understanding dawning on him. "As long as you wear this, you will effectively become a mirror of the war hero you so splendidly fail to live up to as kin."
Wrath breathed slowly. He was trying to quell the rising emotion in his breast and failing miserably. Anger at being mocked. Skepticism at such an unbelievably generous offer. Confusion at what this portained. At length, only five words came to the younger Liu-Wen's lips: "What's in it for you?"
Nhil smiled at this. This time, the expression was definetly not warm. It wasn't a display of emotion at all really...just muscles stretching flesh across teeth. "Not me. The Legion. The Paragon. Our people, mortals, we need a hero. We need you." Nhil's face returned to a neutral state and he patted Wrath's shoulder. The golems set their burden down on the bed and disappeared in a flash of opaque flame. Nhil turned towards the tent entrance and headed outside into the rain. "Meet me in the center of camp in ten minutes, in your new garb."
Forest, Somewhere near the Terra Mountain Range
Well, that was easy enough. Yanis's vision swam as he jogged through the muggy woodland along with his newfound allies. He still did not trust the as far as he could throw them--considering how well a halfling lifted an orc, that was not at all. It would still be good to have more muscle along just in case he ran in to any straggling Children or wildlife. The one-handed halfling thought things were finally looking up when a striking woman appeared from the woodwork with an arrow poised to pierce something vital. She did not appear to be hostile so much as frightened though...maybe..."Miss. I am Yanis, corporal of special assault forces within the Legion of Ashes under commander Mercy Yan'vega's command. I and my...hired hands, are on an important mission to inform high-command of a dire new developement within the ranks of the Children of Fire."
As if that explained everything, Yanis advanced past the hunter and waved the two orcs on. "It would be greatly appreciated if you could guide us through the forest...my fellows and I lack the woodsmanship that you have displayed." that was probably untrue. He glanced back at Brack with a conspiratorial eye. He did not care for another addition to the mission, but it was better to keep her close at hand. There was no telling who was affiliated with the dragons these days and it was better to keep enemies close where you could watch them. "We move. Now."
As he walked through the encampment the rain ran off of Wrath and his new equipment as if he was shielded by some unseen force. His gait was straighter, more confident as his cape billowed out peridoically with a gust of wind. Both hooked swords were strapped onto the belt of his new armor, bare steel glinting in the firelight. An air of calculating superiority practically radiated from the commander. Wrath stepped next to general Derenthi in the center square of the Legion camp, in a large circular clearing. Magical everburn torches were lit all across the camp now, as the cloud-obscured night came on in full, plunging them into darkness. Nhil nodded in approval and muttered a cantrip that amiplified his voice to carry over the expansive camp.
"This is General Derenthi of the Legion of Ashes. Every unit not assigned to this outpost is required to report to the bonfire located in the middle of the tent masses immediately. Those who fail to do so will receive martial punishment to the fullest extent." after a short pause, he added, "That includes you Yan'vega."
In minutes the troops began filing in. Since Wrath's was the only legion in camp, only his meager unit arrived. Sid was the first, followed by the remaining orcish siblings. The harpies came next, oddly staying away from one another and both looking rather flushed. Achiru had several bites and scratches across his bare torso and neck. Pel trudged into the gathering with eyes downcast towards the ground, Iriana setting a delicate palm on her head. Then came Beelzes, dragging along her blind mage 'student' and setting Faera in front of her. It wasn't long before the last of them arrived. When all were in attendance, Nhil made to speak but was cut off by a question from Wrath directed at Sid and Pel Mekillot.
"Where are privates Ga'Taro, Korra and Arkha?" Sid bit her lip and Pel looked away. Sid was the first to speak.
"Hokunn died almost as soon as we set him down. Laila passed away a couple minutes ago. Gilleas...he's gone. Deserted I think." Wrath simply nodded and motioned for Nhil to continue.
"A shame." the deep human said. Dressed in gray and black clothing lined with gold, several pins of rank upon his tunic, it was obvious that the stranger was someone of a high station. Obviously Nhil, leader of the Legion of Ashes. He did not bother with formalities. "Contrary to popular belief, the fortieth legion is not for rejects or oddities. It is a test. Those of you standing here are made of something greater than the average soldier...we simply needed some assurance that we were not mistaken in that assumption. The battle you just faced? A measure of your abilities. Do you think it is every day a legion of twenty-two fends off an assault three times their size? An assault comprised of combatants that are equal to three men each? Who can breath magical flames and tear a man apart with their bare hands? The answer is no. Had you been a normal unit, I would not be having the honor of speaking to you today. It is my pleasure, to announce that you, newest members of the Legion of Ashes, have all been promoted. You are now apart of the Black Guard: The Vanguard unit of the Legion of Ashes."
Without warning arcane gates came in to being behind Nhil and Wrath, admitting dozens of hulking armored golems. Glistening black iron brutes made of enchanted metal that does not rust, corrode, tire or complain. Half of them dragged along large metallic carts covered with tarps. With a snap from Nhil, the golems closest to each cart tore off the coverings to reveal carts filled to the brim with supple new live leather of all types, weapons of all makes and types from across Norr and potions, poisons and travel supplies of the highest quality. Most the the fortieth legion gasped. Nhil smirked and stepped back to allow Wrath to take the lead.
"It is true. All of it. General Derenthi and several benefactors of the Legion met me in my tent have been filling me in on the situation for the past hour." Silhouetted by the ghostly light of the spectral fires, Wrath looked across the bredth of his legion. "Each and every one of you is something beyond the norm. That includes Grimsmirk and myself...that is why we are the new spearpoint of the Legion. In ten days the invasion upon the dragon-controlled territory will begin. We will cross the mountains dividing east and west Norr, and bring the fight to the dragons. These golems are apart of our unit now, Darkgards forty in all, and we will also be replenished for those troops we have lost."
As if that was the signal another smaller gate opened and the first of the newest legionnaires stepped through.
"C'mon, c'mon, Nhilly wants you guys there pronto! Through the gate, look for the pale guy in black! Kinda cute in a stand-offish way with those round, steely eyes and soft-"
Miralight, you're doing it. Again. The halfling waving on the procession blushed and held her tome out in front of her. Miralight pouted and almost through the animated book away, but shrugged in agreement. It was true after all.
"Alright! Role call before I send you guys through!" In the citadel, within the capital city of the Paragon, the freshly issued soldiers that were to reinforce the newly minted Black Guard with new blood. "Sarish Tal'Asir! Lamian cleric...oooh! That's rare, what's the name of the angel you venerate? Who's-" the animated book cleared his throat and Mira smiled and pushed Sarish into the portal with a magical nudge of force. "Liliana Bloodleaf, elfy marksman. Do elves ever run out of people who use bows? It just seems odd to me, wouldn't you run out of wood to use for arrows eventually? Oh! Sorry! Through the gate!" another push. "Hm, next is Alistair Razoredge...oh! I fought against you in the last war that one time! You tore my wooden flying horse out of the air if I recall correctly, how is your wing doing? Healed all right? Get on through!"
The next two legionaries jumped through without being announced. Miralight scowled and called after them, "Don't do that kinda stuff! You might get lashed and nobody likes lashings, it's rather painful! Anyways, Gurgen and Turha Mialee, twin psionics. Did you know humans could even have twins any more? Wierd right?" the question was directed at the last of the new legionnaires. She smiled and shook her head, to which Miralight smiled. Don't worry, I know you can't talk. Be sure to keep those guys alive!" then the last soldier was through the portal, which closed behind her.
Wrath nodded in approval when Nhil finished calling out the names and positions of each arrival through the gate. The final soldier caught him off guard for a brief moment, then regained his composure. If the girl was here, then she was in all likelihood much more than she seemed. The gates closed all around leaving the full force of the Black Guard in the rain. Nhil raised his arms and cried out in a trumphant roar, "Members of the Black Guard! Congratulations! Many would think of a vanguard as a foolish term to describe those who take the most risks meeting the enemy in battle first...but I have lead the Black Guard on several occassions. We are simply the first to taste victory!"
A deafening cheer, one that should not have been possible for so few people met this proclimation. Nhil, along with Mercy, was gone in the blink of an eye, disappearing. Wrath cleared his throat and called for silence. "Alright, alright. I know this is exciting...unexpected. But it seems as if fortune smiles on us. All of your martial payments have been increased five times over, and ration limits vastly increased. Over the next few days other legions will arrive in camp. We will be working in concert with them, so get familiar with your fellows. Be sure to make our new members feel welcome as well. Now get some sleep, it's late."
As the soldiers were dismissed Wrath approached Neira with a sealed scroll. The parcel was placed into her hand, and to his credit, Wrath looked her in the eye without showing any outward signs of discomfort. "You've been conscripted. Welcome to the Legion of Ashes." and went back to his tent for some rest. He was exhausted.
Of the new recruits, one of them had not moved since arriving in camp. She stared straight at Caine with wide eyes. Barely reaching five feet in height, with marble skin and azure hair, the young elven girl's expression was caught somewhere between curiosity and distant recognition. Without thinking she rubbed the scar across the front of her throat. Finally deciding she had never seen the hulk of a man before, Mikana made her way to her own tent to retire for the evenning.
The Deep Human slowly relaxed, dropping the arrow from the string and returning it to its place in the quiver. She turned and watched as the Halfling and Orcs ran on for a moment, considering the corporal’s offer as she slung the longbow over her shoulder. Shrugging her shoulder and feeling the location of her equipment she jogged after them, catching up and taking the lead, head bent slightly, as if to observe the ground before her, hiding her face from the others seeing the crimson growing stronger in her eyes.
In a moment she paused, “This place we are going… Is directly ahead?”
The Halfling seemed a bit perplexed… maybe upset? It seemed that in his mind he suspected something of her. A quick glance at either orc or earned her own glance, keeping her eyes hidden by some hair that had fallen over her face.
“Yes, it should be just ahead.”
“Maybe, I should cover our tracks, since I have no ideas of where we are going.” She turned and walked past them and stood to the side, watching them until the Halfling resigned to turn around and lead his two orc companions back on their way. Waiting for a while she glanced at the woods before following, taking up a pace just behind them as she followed them through the forest.
Yanis moved on through the forest a small scowl on his face. For a moment he was sure the Deep Human might have been the one that was with the Children. But when she stopped and asked for directions it was some-what clearer she may be the most honest one of the bunch. The two orcs though… What in the world was a Shawoman? Wasn’t the term a Shaman, despite the gender? And this premonition business, it didn’t hold water. Once he got to the tower he’d get some of the men there to restrain and interrogate them. It wasn’t far now, just beyond those trees.
He pushed slightly ahead of the orcs and broke into the clearing, slowing down a bit to gaze proudly at their scout tower, its reinforced form stretching into the sky, looking out across the land to report any business of the Children. The Ballistae on top ready to fire and looking out over three directions to remove any possible threat that approached. Clenching his one hand into a fist he silently cheered and pushed on for the tower, the sooner he gave out the warning the better. As he drew closer, something seemed wrong with what he saw. Pulling back into a walk he took a few steps then stopped. Peering out it looked as if the door to the tower was open. Were they shifting positions?
He took a few more steps and stopped dead. Inside he could make out dark forms across the floor, something clinging around their bodies. Not here… Was I too late? He took a step back and bumped into the tall form of one of the Orcs. He felt an anger boiling inside them as he turned, ”You! What did you and your cohorts do—“
The shout died in his throat.
Emerging from the trees behind them came white robes. Yet there wasn’t a handful or even a couple. What first seemed like ten quickly rose to much more. His skin began to drain of warmth and blood as he turned around, white cloaks appearing from within and around the tower and encircling them. There had to be at least a hundred!
Then he heard something that froze his heart in ice, eyes drawing to the top of the tower as his body shook with primal fear. A small dragon beat its great wings twice and dropped to the top of the tower, its form cracking apart a ballista as pieces fell from the tower. A lance of pure white streaked across the sky illuminating black scales. It rose up, and let lose a feral roar right as the thunder struck but the Halfling seemed to know, the dragon was louder.
Yanis felt his lips tremble and began to mumble a curse before he felt something strike him in the back of the head. Corporal Yanis of the special forces dropped dead, face frozen in pure despair, with the shaft of an arrow buried through the back of his skull.
Dracon dropped the long bow, hands moving mechanically as she reached over her shoulders, slender fingers wrapping around the hilts of her blades. The sapphire in her eyes almost completely drowning in the deep pools of fiery crimson that took over. Before her the only survivor from the ambush collapsed as the orcs turned to look where he fell and began to spin around in shock. A cold smile spread across her lips as her arms jerked forwards, wrists flicking as she threw the blades just as they cleared their sheaths, metal blades dancing end over end. The pair had turned towards her then, the one holding the great sword roaring in challenge as the shorter of the two began to raise his war hammer and battle axe over his head. Neither noticed the blades until they struck, one burrowing in the knee of the great sword wielder, the other driving almost clean through the dual wielder’s right elbow.
The impact startled the pair, leaving room as Dracon crossed the ground, eyes burning intently as the Children of Fire watched around them. Her left foot kicked up the long bow as she approached, left hand casually waiting as it snatched up its grip once more. She had closed the gap then, right hand dropping to grip the end of the bow as she approached Gormun, his sword in the mud, hands holding himself up as he tried to recover from the shock of being able to use his left leg from the knee down. All the warrior had time for was to look up into her frozen scowl as she swung the longbow across his head, the sturdy weapon shattering as it dropped him cold.
The roar of her second opponent tipped her off for the attack as she dropped low to the ground, left hand pressing into the damp, rain soaked earth as her right drew the short sword at her side. The presence of the heavy war hammer sailing over where she once had been. Standing up she turned, holding the weapon in reverse, crossed just below her neck as she faced off against Brack. The infuriated orc, ignoring the pain of his useless right arm as his left jerked the battle awe from its grasp. Throwing away caution and reason he charged, raising the weapon over his head as she stood before him.
Just as he stepped within striking distance she ducked, rolling her left shoulder forwards, her body following the motion as feet turned on the earth, dropping inside his reach as the battleaxe cleaved through open air. Her back to his, just under his hunched form her head jerked back, breaking his nose and stunning the large foe to prevent him from locking her in an embrace with his remaining arm. The orc stumbled away as she turned, blade racing across and up in a single spin.
She stood with her back to him again, arms resting at her sides as his head began to lean back, shoulders following until the body toppled over. Without much care for where it fell she dropped the blade to the ground. The drizzle grew stronger into true rain and she looked at her audience, eyes bathed in pure crimson as black forms pushed through the crowd. The figures walked on two legs though they looked as if they were dragon in nature, forms as black as the dragon atop the tower. They drew close to her as one carefully raised a helm before her. Its form was long, carefully crafted for a war that was long past, the surface a dull crimson, the color of blood. The mithril helm felt good in her hands once more as she donned the helm, crimson eyes gleaming out of draconian slits.
Dracon motioned for her soldiers to follow her, the other pair carrying the rest of her sacred armor.
As the four figures moved inside the tower, the Children of Fire began to gather outside, making room as a score of black dragons began to glide from the sky to land. Lightning pierced through the heavens again as the rain began to pick up, thunder booming like war drums into the night.
The young dark elf knew the names of the people in charge of the Paragon; there were precious few who did not. However, even had she functional eyes, she would not have recognized any of them on sight without anything to reference. That did not stop her, though, from placing a rather accurate guess that the man who spoke after the Captain was very important. You could virtually hear it in his voice, or at the very least in the hushed silence that allowed his every word to drop like a boulder into it. She had never known such a large group of people to be so quiet, and that alone convinced her of the gravity of what was being said.
Of course, that didn't mean any of it made any sense. They were tested... they'd been thrown into that huge group of Children on purpose? But what about all those people that had died? If a normal troop wouldn't get put in a situation like that, then they would not have been killed if assigned to a normal troop! And what was all this about potential and such? She had just discovered she knew much less about anything than even she had thought, and suddenly she was part of a group who were all being promoted?
She could scarcely believe it; might not have if the Captain himself had not confirmed it but scant moments later. Him, she did believe, if only because he'd gotten them all this far, which truthfully was much further than she had thought in the thick of that battle earlier today. This was all a bit much, and by the conclusion of it all, Faera was feeling emotionally as well as physically drained. She had wanted to talk to Talae about everything that had happened, knowing that her sister was much more accustomed to dealing with this sort of thing, but it would not be a mistake in her estimation to suppose that this was all equally new to the elder Shanir.
So when everyone was dismissed, Faera decided she'd leave off meeting the new fighters until the morning. Right now, she needed nothing more than some sleep, lest it all overwhelm her completely. She trudged with unusual heaviness to the tent she had been pointed to (after a fashion) earlier and clambered under the covers, intent on not letting her racing thoughts keep her awake all night. It wouldn't have worked, had Zek not helped. He was a good little familiar like that.
Now there was a question Neira hadn't considered in a while. "The spawn seem to get smaller each time you look at them," she replied with uncharacteristic thoughtfulness. Shaking her head, she downed what remained of her flagon. She was pretty sure she was done drinking four in; she had no desire to be impaired at the moment, truth be told. "Of course, it's hardly a surprise, seeing as how their parents grow ever more spineless at virtually the same rate."
She might have said more on the subject, but it was then that the General's voice (she most certainly recognized it from the tent earlier, and wasn't stupid enough to fail in recalling his face) sounded, and the footnote to his summons caused her to grin. "Someone thinks he knows you too well, I'd say." It was with those parting words that Neira slid her coin onto the table and left. Mercy could do as she liked, of course, and her fellow Nightmarian would not make protest.
The explanation was mildly interesting, actually, and when she found out just how thoroughly they'd all been had, she chuckled darkly to herself. So many little puppets, dancing on your strings, she thought wryly at (but not to, because psionically she was capable of that) the white-haired general. The new recruits were of passing interest, as was the Captain's wardrobe change, more specifically the swords involved. Now those matched a story she'd heard a few times before, and the name connected to that story matched the unlikely officer's own. My, my... things do run in circles around here, don't they?
When all was said and done, the man himself approached and informed her she'd been conscripted. "Oh damn, and here I thought I was going to leave just as it got interesting," she replied archly, accepting the scroll anyway. Granted, she was unfond of having her choices made for her, but she saw little point in arguing the principle of the thing when it coincided with her own wishes anyway. Curiously, the conscription notice was not the only thing in the parcel, and she read over the other, much shorter missive before crushing it in her fist, a small smirk playing across her mouth and a dangerous glint in her eye. Oh, this could be fun.
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!