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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"You got me," she said, "I'd be dead right now in a real fight, so we'll call it yours."
"Not like you made it easy for me," He said between pants. The fact of the matter was that he merely outlasted her. He was better able to handle swing a sword larger than a knife through an entire fight and if she perhaps had the same stamina he did, she may could have walked out of the spar the victor. Finally, with the end of the spar, the entire weight of the day came crashing on his shoulders. He hadn't felt it earlier because of the surges of adrenaline and such.
He straightened up, placed the sword back on his back, and began to accept Talae's extended hand... Though he missed the first time. The sudden shift in weight had slid his foot to his side. That and he was tired may had played some... Factor. The second time he hit the mark and shook the Dark Elf's hand firmly. "Just work on your stamina... Then you can really mess some children up," He said, a dark smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"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?"
"They'd have to try harder than that... But 'spose your right," Cain agreed, rubbing his neck and back. He was sore there as well due to the contortions and twisting he put himself through. "Imma go get... Cleaned up," He said, rubbing a muddy hand through muddy hair. Not like it made matters worse. He turned and strode carefully away from the clearing to avoid slipping on the torn up ground and threw a hand back in something one would call a good-bye. On his way, he passed the Deep Human who had watched... What was his name... Kisikoni? "Like the show?" He asked in sarcastic wit. He moved on passed the Deep Human and towards a tent. One he would call his own.
Inside the rudimentary shelter, there was a cot and a wash basin and not a whole lot else. He immediately went to the wash basin and set to getting the mud and grime from his hair, face, and hands. Suffciently cleaned, he removed the armor and placed it beside the cot with his weapons. Then he noticed that mud simply slides off of the leathers he wore. He merely ran a hand across the surface and it looked to be good as new. He then laid his weary head on the cot and proceeded to rest... Or at least he tried...
"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."
Anyone within hearing distance of the tent would hear a... Loud exclaimation of, "Motherfucker!"
Lily was about to respond enthusiastically to the being calling the roll... Though the sudden force shoved her through the portal before she could even finish her high pitched, "Eeek!" As a result, she arrived on the other side of the portal yelping the tale end of the squeak. A couple of the legionaries glanced at her, to whom she responded with a smile and a wave... Then she began to blush, embarrassed at her outburst.
"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!"
"Oooh! Blackguard! Doesn't that sound neat and strong!" Lily exclaimed to any who would listen. Then she bit her knuckle in thought. That meant she was in an elite group. That meant she should probably act like it... The thought was dashed almost as fast as it appeared and the bright smile wrapped around her face again. If she was an elite soldier in a prestigious Legion, then she could act however she very well pleased. Her eyes scanned the group of soldier's that had congregated in front of her... A group of battle-hard and red blooded warrior's it looked like... Especially the man with the face full of scars... "My, my... he doesn't look too happy..." Lily pointed out.
Caine was pissed. He had just closed his eyes to get some damn rest and he was summoned to the damned meeting around a damned bon-fire... Although, for good reason it seemed... They all were promoted to Blackguards... A fierce name to be sure. And the golems were a surprise. The fact they carried weapons in carts was the topping on the cake. Caine instantly assumed that was for them and anxiously awaited to check them out... Looks like he wasn't going to have to clean his weapons after all!
Caine kept quiet during the cheer, but he was with a pleased smirk. A gesture that spoke louder than any cheer could ever. Their payments were increased (Caine didn't care much... What good was payment when you fully expected to die each and every time you marched?) Ration were increased (He did enjoy this...) but the best part? He was a Blackguard. His pride welled and he glanced upward towards the heavens once more. "Proud?" He asked.
As the procession was dying down, he caught a glimpse of an elven girl staring him down. Strange, it seemed her throat had been scarred, normally a fatal wound... A sense of vague recognition pervaded his mind, but he could not for the life of him think who she was. A thought emerged in his head that he should investigate her. See who she was, why she was familiar. He simply disregarded this. This was a new girl, a replacement, a stranger. He didn't feel comfortable talking to one who had just entered. Instead, he made his way to the weapon's cart, eager to get new leathers, armor, and most importantly, weapons. He couldn't help himself from glancing at her as he walked though... Who was that?
At the weapons' cart, he took the standard leather and armor, though perused the selection of weapons... Weapons from all over Norr sat in the carts. Longswords, mallets, sabers, spears, bows and matching arrows, maces, anything and everything. His eyes hung on a ornately crafted White Saber with a tassel hanging from the hilt. Caine never was one much for looks, only effectiveness... But the saber was beautiful and deadly. He picked the saber up and removed it from it's sheath. The blade was just as stunning as the hilt... Caine merely said, "Mine," and looped the saber's sheath on his left, for right handed access.
Then he looked for the second in the pair of weapons. After scouring the cart for a couple of minutes, his spied something black. He picked up the weapon and it seemed to be a katana of some sort. He pulled it part way out of it's sheath and noticed that the blade was as black as the hilt... A fitting sword for one of the 'Blackguard'... "Also mine," The berserker claimed. He held this blade over his shoulder, with the set of new leathers and armor in his other. Now... Perhaps if the heavens bid it.. He could get some rest.
Lily was skipping through the camp, already wearing her leathers plus a bit of her old outfit. The black colored leather encased her legs and torso, while her one of her hand and both upper arms were free. Her wrists to her elbow were also encased in the leather with her right hand being gloved in the same material. "Helps with the bowstring," she told a wandering eye. She hoped that was, indeed, what the wandering eye was looking at... She was a beautiful and light creature, something the fortieth- Blackguard no doubt had not been accustomed to...
White fabrics roped around her hips in a white sash while a length of white cloth extended from the sash, over her groin and down to her knees. Also, the same white cloth hid her bare upper arms and a hood was laying flat at the base of her neck. As Lily skipped through the camp, the mud and soft ground appeared to not even affect the bubbly girl. No doubt due to her tenure as a hunter. She greeted each and every single person she came across with such enthusiasm the fortieth had seen as of yet. She did, however, keep her distance from the scarred man...
"Just a bad.." He hesitated for a second, not sure what word was best to describe it. "Just a dream, girl. Just a dream."
Suddenly, a loud voice resonated over the encampment.
"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."
Duran looked back at his own tent, and then noticed that the voice was closer than it sounded. He got up and headed towards the center of the tents, not realizing that the clearing was so close to his own tent.
"Saves us a walk, at least." he thought.
As he arrived on the spot, he noticed that not many were there. The orcs had arrived just before him, missing a member of the family. Duran gritted his teeth and tried not to think too much about it. Shortly after, the harpies showed up, and then the Lamia with a halfling. He couldn't seem to recall the halfling's name or even her face, but he expected that considering the social distance he put between him and the rest of the legion. After that, the coming members seemed to be all one big blur.
At the center of them all was a Deep Human. Pins and medals adorned his armor. As a druid, he wasn't sure exactly what this meant, but he could at least figure that it meant they were standing before a very high ranking member of The Legion. Before Duran could think any more, the man spoke.
"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 all suddenly dawned on Duran. They knew. They knew all along that the fortieth was probably being sent to their deaths. It was only by luck, skill, or some combination of them all that he and everybody else was alive. The rage began to well up inside him, and he fought the urge to scream at the top of his lungs that this man would have sooner seen the fortieth dead. He was actually glad he didn't have a weapon on him.
"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."
Duran didn't know what that meant, and he hardly cared. He fought back the anger, and slowly the boiling rage became a simmer.
Suddenly, portals appeared behind the man, and from them a great deal of metal monstrosities. Some of them were carrying carts adorned with sheets, only to pull them away at the behest of Nhil. Upon the carts, all kinds of different items, from armor, to weapons, potions, and other assorted gear that, presumably, he would be taking with him into the next slaughter that this insane Deep Human had planned.
Wrath spoke next.
"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."
Duran fought the urge to scream once more at the insanity of this plan. Suddenly an image of him running himself through with a spear crossed his mind. Probably a less gruesome fate than whatever the dragons might have in mind. Duran came back to reality just in time for another portal to open, this one spewing forth several new forms.
Sarish Tal'Asir! Lamian cleric...oooh! That's rare, what's the name of the angel you venerate? Who's-"
Sarish let out a low hiss at the idea that a book was about to speak aloud his patron's name before being forced through the portal. As he passed through, he noted a circle of legionnaires. His characteristic smile formed on his lips, and he brushed his hair back. Immediately after he appeared, he heard his name.
"A pleasure, I'm sure." he said out loud with considerable smug and oozing an almost sickening amount of charisma. He slithered past and took a spot in the crowd next to the elven woman he had entered the portal with. He looked at her up and down, and raised an eyebrow. It was probably a good idea to keep his thoughts to himself for now.
Before Sarish realized it, they were cheering for some reason that he had not been paying attention to, though he did catch something about a pay raise.
Now get some sleep, it's late.
"Come now, it's far too late for sleep." Sarish thought to himself.
Duran walked back to his tent and sat down with Goma upon dismissal. He knew why he was angry, but he began to question himself.
"This is what I wanted, right? This is what we wanted, Goma. To get rid of those dragons. By any means necessary. I'm done moping around. The destruction of the dragons. It is our new objective, Goma. It was always our objective. I'm done being sorry, sad, and angry. We're going to do this, because if we don't, it is the end of us all, and I won't stand around feeling sorry for myself, waiting for the end. We will face it, Goma, and to Hell with what happens next."
Goma's tail wagged as a striking look of determination appeared on Duran's face.
Talae was in her tent running a whetstone along her simple-but-serviceable blade when the magnified shout echoed across camp. She rolled her eyes- did they really have to be so ostentatious about it?- but the obvious answer was yes, they did. She almost didn't believe the name the voice was giving itself; General Darenthi was about as close to a living legend as anyone anymore, and honestly she had no idea why such a personage would waste his time with cast-off legion that she belonged to.
Nevertheless, she was not so stupid as to ignore a summons. Glad that she'd had time to brush off her dead-useful leather armor and get most of the mud out of her hair, she clambered wearily to her feet, lifting her tent flap and exiting with a curious frown.
She was hardly surprised to hear that they'd been had- people with that much rank tended to think of themselves as entitled to toy with life as they would- and in some senses, they were. If it were in the best interests of the cause to send one squad to their deaths to buy time or positioning for another, then few commanders would probably hesitate. The threat the dragons presented was just that great. That didn't mean she much liked it, of course, but her opinion was ultimately inconsequential in the long run.
Although... the news took a turn for the strange as his speech continued. Talae was, on the one hand, glad of the increase in wage. It would make for easier living when this was all over- if it truly ended and she survived that long of course. If not, well... more for Fae, she supposed. On the other side of it, being a Vanguard was not exactly the safest of jobs, even in the Legion of Ashes. She could deal with it, but it meant also that her sister was now in exponentially more danger. She made the choice, Talae. It's your job only to make sure that she survives it.
When the meeting was adjourned, Talae made her way to the equipment caravans, procuring extra uniforms for both herself and Fae, forgoing the selection of weapons for the moment. She had more than enough knives, and a new sword as well. Any more would just weigh her down at this point. She returned with far less enthusiasm the greeting sent her way by an elvish archer, apparently new, with an inward flinch. She reminded Talae of Faera, only... louder. More aggressively cheerful, perhaps.
By the time she got back to her tent, Fae was inside and asleep, so she moved her work outside the tent itself. At least this way she was still in the general atmosphere of things, even if she wasn't exactly social.
Alistair waited a good deal more patiently than the archer in front of him for his turn to file into the portal. Perhaps fitting; she seemed inexperienced at best, and he was quite the opposite. Blood and death would find them all in due time, there was little need to rush them, or eagerly anticipate their arrival.
The snowy-hued harpy dipped his head in acknowledgment of Miralight. "I think I might have, at that," he replied in a musical tenor. "I have since recovered quite well, thank you for your concern." He had neither the time nor the inclination to say more, however, as it was his turn to step through, and he did just that, emerging into the campsite of the former fortieth in time to hear the conclusion of the General's speech. He, of course, had been assigned to the Vanguard this unit would become, not the fortieth Legion, though he was mildly surprised to note that it was only just being made so.
Ten days... an awfully short amount of time, all things considered. But, if the General saw potential in this unit, then he would serve it to the best of his ability, as was the duty he had taken upon himself. The group itself seemed to be well-mixed; a blend of humans, elves, harpies, halflings, lamia, and unless he was very much mistaken, that was a Nightmarian- a rare sight indeed. Quite the assortment.
He was not terribly tired at the moment, all things considered, and he contemplated seeking out any members of this new team that did not look over-wearied and introducing himself. It seemed, though, that the majority of them were actively involved in their own business, and he had no wish to make a nuisance of himself, certainly. So it was without a word to anyone that Alistair retired for the evening, selecting an unoccupied tent. If not for the niceties of convention amongst species not his own, the man would have probably chosen a tree instead, but it would be no great sacrifice to do otherwise.
As they picked themselves up from the mud he was asked by Caine, with all sarcastic intent, his thoughts on the show. Kisikoni didn't really care, but he nodded rather enthusiastically. "It was very enlightening, comrade." He replied. He realized he had been clapping softly, and stopped as the dark elf passed him. What was surprising to the Deep Human, was that she thanked him, of all things. He decided to take it in stride. He was just as grateful for her presence, as if he had been attacked by multiple Children in the earlier battle he would have died long before the translocation was declared. "I only did what partners were supposed to do." He replied, waving off the thanks. Kisikoni was naturally humble, because something he feared was corruption. This was why if he were offered a promotion, he'd consider it but ultimately he might refuse.
"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."
The deep human had been walking back to his tent to begin sharpening his butterfly swords when the announcement had been made. He noted that he had to pass through the bonfire to get to his tent, so he might as well stop there. He sadly regarded his nicked swords and promised them treatment later. He gathered, like everyone else at the center. He looked at his captain. He looked very different. A brilliant cloak rippled like water from his back, and his posture- very casual before when he had seen him, was now strong and cold. Two exotic swords hung from his waist.
Suddenly, he was given a high honor in the army- a position in the Black Guard. Kisikoni stared at the center, hoping this was some sick joke. Hidden potential? He barely managed to fend off just one child. He almost laughed, but it would be rude. However, when the Golems pulling carts entered the scene, he was sure they were serious. "No. Way." He gaped, and his jaw only dropped further when the carts revealed the best of the best equipment. Something even the armory here couldn't match.
However, the third point struck home. They were to lead the fight against the Dragons. This was going to be too much. In ten days, they will walk the territory of the fire-spitters. Luckily the golems would march with them, and they would receive more reinforcements. What relieved him was the increase in rations. It paid to be able to eat well- as it affected morale on the battlefield. Smart move. And with that, they were dismissed. The Lamia certainly brought back memories of the Child that so nearly killed him, and he looked no different. His humble nature rejected the charismatic outlook he gave out, and he struggled to accept him as part of the group. The elven archer gave off a sense of innocence, which while Kisikoni didn't particularly condone, it would probably be dangerous for her. He decided to meet them later. For now, the carts awaited him.
He rummaged through the carts, and pulled out a beautiful-looking crossbow. To his surprise, his bolts fit the thing perfectly. It held nothing compared to his lost customized crossbow, but it was long, accurate, and similar to what he was used to firing. This would be a fine substitute for his missing weapon. He hung it over his back, and found himself a very decent dirk dagger- double-edged and easy to hide. It was more for utility uses, but it could be thrown in a pinch and was strong enough to be used in a fight. He sheathed it and tied it to his boot. He took a skin of water, which smelled pure and the skins seemed to be devoid of all scent and taste. That meant as it went on, the water held in the skin wouldn't taste like cow hide. Thank the Earth. He took a fresh whetstone, and the lightest and most durable live leather armor he could find. Armor only hindered the methodical deep human in a fight, who relied on close-quarter fast strikes. The leather was strong enough- arrows would not penetrate them, unlike chainmail. He saw two short swords, but nothing like his butterfly swords.
His original swords had served him very well over the years he had been fighting the war, so he saw no point in taking the short swords, which he was unfamiliar with. He did, however, find some odd scroll that gave instructions on a one-time spell that would drastically increase the durability of his weapons. It was not something that required magical talent, rather just an alchemic transmution with the paper containing the circle- and the supplies in a pouch tied next to it. All he had to do was activate it. Very useful.
At this point, the Deep Human was ready to rest. All this information needed time to sink in, and he just wasn't ready to soak it in yet in a conscious state. He grabbed a uniform that the golem offered to him (it was odd, but oddly flattering) and made for his tent. It was time to prepare before he went to bed.
The first thing he did, was open the scroll, take his swords, and lay them in the circle. He took the bag and dumped the contents (most of which was a strange powder and some hunks of metal) onto the circle. He read the instructions carefully, then placed both palms on the edge. He focused, not too sure what to expect, but suddenly the paper consumed itself in a fire that burned white. Kisikoni flinched away from the light and when it cleared, he saw his two butterfly swords. They looked like new, almost better than new. He took them, and found that they were sharpened too. He grinned like a madman, testing them out. Perfect.
After rearranging his supplies to fit whatever he snagged from the cart, he placed his bag next to his cot and lay on it. His mind was buzzing so quickly, he couldn't sleep. He remembered that there was also a few new additions he forgot to greet. The harpy looked much older than he was- though it was very difficult to discern male from female. He decided to pay a visit. After asking around, he located the tent. Curiosity coursed through his veins.
He knocked on the frame once. "May I enter?" He asked.
"Really now." She replied interestedly, almost eagerly. "That's just terrible." Mercy too drank the rest of the contents in her glass, but with several more to go she wasn't finished yet. Suddenly, the made the annoucement. Mercy decided wholeheartedly to blow off th damn thing. If they thought they could bring her over just because they wanted to blow wind on stage or something, they were wrong. A pause, and the voice of Nhil Derenthi said:
"That includes you Yan'vega."
"Damn it." She whined, nearly spitting out the drink in her mouth. "I don't want to go." Before she could gather her wits and make a nice comeback to the Dragonfly, she had left. "Toodles." She called after in a lopsided voice. The bartender looked at her worriedly. Before he could ask, the Nightmarian spider waved him off. "I'm fine dear, thanks." She stumbled out the tent, leaving several mugs of drink and many other empty glasses. She made her way, very slowly, toward the bonfire- hampered by her unconcerned demeanor. She could walk just fine if she concentrated, but didn't care enough to. She was definitely the last to arrive, just as they began to speak.
She looked over the crowd, and when she spied Wrath, carrying his hooked swords and brilliant cloak, she began to cry. She held her face in her hands and just sobbed. "Stupid, stupid, stupid!" She keened softly. The words went in through Mercy's left ear, and out the other. She was in no mood to be listening to the General's worthless blathering. "They're all doomed." She muttered through her tears. "It's happening again."
It was only when Mercy was "swear-to-drunk-I'm-not-god" that she acted like this. She could barely see anything now, her voluminous red eyes all erratically blinking. Suddenly she felt the tug of magic on her bodice and recognized the cold, gaunt spell that took her away an instant later. She hoped Derenthi had a damn good explanation for this.
So it was with deliberate patience that he currently moved about, setting his supplies, few as they were, in order, and waiting for his water to come to a boil. A small jaunt outwards once again had yielded him a few cups; he hadn't the heart to protest that he needed but one. His trident, he had propped up against the far wall of the tent, and his unstrung bow and arrows occupied a corner.
Just as he was checking on the status of his water (it was coming to a pleasant boil), he heard the sound of someone approaching, followed by a knock and a polite question. Turning his head to one side in the manner of a much less humanoid feathered creature examining something, he drifted to the flap and opened it. Ah, a fellow legionnaire. "Certainly," the man replied amiably. "I was just making tea, would you care for some?" Stepping aside to allow the person- Deep Human, if he were to put a race to him- to enter, Alistair lowered himself gracefully to the floor and added some to two of the cups, filling them with hot water, and setting one across from him, and one in front, to let them steep.
"Ah, where are my manners?" he asked aloud. "My name is Alistair, and though I have been with the Legion for some time, I am, as you have surely guessed, rather new to this division. Might I inquire after you as well, friend?" His tone was pleasant, his face lent a certain degree of kindness by naught but the lack of any malicious intent.
She quickly turned away from such morbid thoughts. They always brought her down, and she didn't like to be depressed. It never did sit quite well with her. Then she halted mid-skip... She had smelt something. It was faint and hidden under all of the other smells. Between the smells of blood, of wet dirt, of sweat. Even under the metallic steel smells and oily smells. Something familiar, something... Sweet. Her thoughts hung in the air for moments, trying to place her tongue on the smell... It was familiar, something she had always liked since she was a young elf girl... Well, younger elf girl. True, her species mostly thought of her as a child, if not a baby, in the decently long lived species of elf.
But back to the scent... "Aha!" She exclaimed after seconds of thought, "I know it! It's tea! Elf tea!" She pointed out... The sudden outburst was sure to startle any soldier who was close enough. Of course, Lily didn't pay attention to the strange looks, as she turned and began to follow her nose. They used to brew tea just like that in her elven hunting band. However, it was rare that she could ever swipe a cup due to her young age. The tea was often brewed by the older elves and served to the same elves, often leaving her out. However, here? There was a chance she could score a cup! She was, after all, a soldier. No one should care about her age.
She weaved between tents, doubled back once or twice, and she was pretty sure she passed the same tent a couple of times, but finally, she had found the home of the aromatic scent. She suddenly poked her head into the tent and asked, "Is that elven tea I smell? Oh my, it is!" She said, the tone of her voice borderline giddy, "Do you understand how much I adore the tea?!" She said, forgetting herself. Remembering that she had just barged in the tent without even knocking or anything, she blushed again, embarrassed. She had finally noticed that the two occupants, Alistair, the Harpy who hopped into the portal after her, and a Deep Human.
"My.. apologies..." She said, still blushing. "It's just that the tea... Reminds me of home... Well, not home, but my family and friends," She hadn't had much of home due to the nomadic nature of the Elven hunting parties, but the people she was with more than constituted a home. She then bowed her head and looked at the ground, both guilty and interrupting them and embarrassed by her rash action.
In so saying, he prepared a third cup, wondering if the Quartermaster's assistant from whom he had procured the dishware had some sort of ability to read the future. The thought did not sit well with him, and so he banished it, gesturing for the girl (for indeed, she was scarcely more than that) to take a seat as well. She spoke of family and friends, and Alistair recalled that it had been quite some time since he thought of his clan. Not a pitiable offense, since such thoughts brought him no joy at all, but he had had friends before.
Ah, the Murder... it had been a while since then, in truth, and to his knowledge the group was all but disbanded now, their leader dead. He'd taken up with the Legion in the years following. Much of Alistair's life had been spent devoted to blood and death; it was truly a shame that the world was still such that others had to also. He wondered somewhat sadly how long Liliana's good cheer would last before being crushed under the onslaught of violence that she was sure to experience. He counted himself lucky that he'd managed to keep his manners and general pleasantness intact, for the most part, though few were as lucky. Or perhaps just not inclined to it; the soldering life did tend to draw a certain type to it, after all.
Taking the cup of tea, Kisikoni sniffed at it slightly. His heightened senses meant that the tea smelled rather strong. He remembered the acrid-tasting tea from earlier and nearly declined the offer, if the beverage currently offered to him didn't smell so appealing. "Thank you again, sir." He said. "I am Kisikoni Ayalen, Deep Human from Chochmingwu. I have only been with this legion for about a decade. I welcome you to our division."
The deep human was unsure on how to proceed with such a well-mannered acquaintance. Everything he said seemed to feel rude and brash compared to the styled prose of Alastair. "All of this is so much to take in." He commented. "From being the fortieth legion to the Black Guard of the army." He took a sip of the tea, and found it quite excellent- despite the fact that he used the boiling-water method of tea-making. He was more used to the tea-bag method, which was much cleaner but good bags are hard to come by.
Suddenly, an excited elf burst through the front of the tent, startling Kisikoni and nearly having him drop his cup. If the cup had been any fuller, or if Kisikoni would have taken less of a sip, the liquid would have spilled over. Looking closely, he realized it was the elvish girl from earlier- the one who he thought was rather innocent-looking. He silently agreed with Alastair. He had originally enlisted with the Paragon to fight and end the war so everybody could just go home and live a normal life. Now Kisikoni fought for the survival of his species. He rather envied the girl's bubbly attitude- very few people possessed it now, it was rather refreshing.
"Yes, please," Kisikoni concurred as the Elf looked rather ashamed, "This is excellent tea." He said enticingly. He turned back to Alastair. "It really is." He said, very seriously. The bar's tea was on par with the acid deep humans used to clean gems. He shuddered slightly as he remembered an idiot friend accepting a dare to drink some. Pride was something nobody should have too much of. Comparing the bar's tea with that seemed about right.
She sat beside the group, sitting her bow beside her so it wouldn't be uncomfortable, and accepted the tea with both hands. "Again, sorry about earlier," She said, cheer slowly returning to her voice. She could not stand to be shy or melancholy for long. She looked into the tea and inhaled the aroma. Memories of the forests and her hunting band returned and she smiled... "Just like home..." She commented before taking a sip. The liquid slid down her throat slowly, enjoying each and every second of it. The taste was sweet, with just a tiny bite of bitterness and tang.
"Reminds me of the forests we traveled in..." She admitted before glancing at the Deep Human... "Oh! I'm sorry, I don't think I've introduced myself. My name is Liliana Bloodleaf. Lily, please," She added, followed by a sweet smile. So far, these two seemed to be kind and gracious enough... Something you wouldn't expect in something called the Blackguard. Really, one would expect a bunch of muscle-bound creatures with a bloody gleam in their eye and a wish to kill everything in sight... Sorta like that fellow with the scars...
"Oh! Yes, it is indeed excellent tea. Nothing like the 'water' you would usually find." She belatedly agreed with the Deep Human. She was trying to hide the fact that she never really had much tea before. Just what she could swipe or brew herself... Which always ended up tasting like mud. "I used to have tea like this in my old hunting clan," An innocent lie, "At least... Until we got.. Separated," She said, mulling over the right word choice for a moment. She still wasn't completely sure that was the right word... Words like 'left' and 'abandoned' came to mind instead.
She looked at her two companions... An odd bunch surely. A Deep Human, a Male Harpy, and an Elf. All brought together just to simply survive. It shouldn't be like this. They all should be in their homes. Her in her forests, the Deep Human in his caves, and the Harpy atop cliffs and peak. Every last thing was threatened and every day the outlook turned darker and darker... It took a strong person to smile in these times... She stared into her tea, herself steeping his her thoughts.
"All of this is so much to take in. From being the fortieth legion to the Black Guard of the army." That drew a smile from the harpy, for indeed he imagined it must be so. Sudden change was never easy and rarely welcomed, but Alistair had fought in enough battles masterminded by General Darenthi to know that the man was cunning in his savvy, and quite the strategist. A tad too ruthless, perhaps, but war was war, and it rarely made kind men of its leaders.
"I imagine that it is," he mused thoughtfully. "I think, though, that in the end, much of the work will be the same. The Legion of Ashes faces battles that many would think unwinnable daily. At least, when one marches to the enemy, one knows to expect this." He was under the impression that the last battle had caught them all quite off-guard, and he could certainly understand that. The Children of Flame were not enemies easily-bested, no matter one's level of skill or experience, and to face so many more than anticipated would be rather unsettling, even to himself.
Alistair waved off all compliments to his tea, though he did rather get the impression that Lily was less a connoisseur than she would perhaps have them believe. This, he accepted as rather harmless, and did not comment upon it. Her words regarding her clan were tinged with sadness, though, and he quite truthfully thought he must be a much older man than he had anticipated, if he were being met with the urge to offer sage advice so often in the course of a single conversation. He was scarcely out of the youth of his species, at least in terms of relative lifespans, but it had been an eventful sixty-some years, all things considered. He'd had a spear in his hand from the time he was six months old, using it in clan squabbles before the war then in service of the Murder and then for the Legion.
So he supposed it was advice that was his to give, and there was little purpose in keeping it to himself. But perhaps offering it in a more diluted fashion would be appropriate. "I myself lived with a clan for quite some time," he replied conversationally. "I have found that, somehow, it makes it an easier matter to come to think of new groups of people in similar ways." The past is hardly a fit place for the young to dwell, child.
As the night drifted off into restless sleep, the preparations came under way. The Spring rains continued unabated and the wildlife hid in their holes while the Legion girded itself for war. Over the next several days legion upon legion joined the Black Guard in the North-Ridge camp. Inbetween setting up ballistae, battle-carts and siege rams the soldiers began to mix. This socizlization created new, if strong bonds between the rapidly swelling ranks of the legionnaires. By the ninth day, fifty legions had amassed in the camp. Wrath looked on in approval. An army. No, he thought. His army.
Dressed in only linen pants, the general was propped up on top of a tall beam of wood with only one hand to keep his balance. The rising sun casted orange and red streaks through the maze of tents and awakening soldiers. Of those early-birds milling about, Sid trotted up and cast a wary eye up at Wrath. "What the hell are you doing?"
"It would appear that I am honing my body, Grimsmirk." he replied with a cool edge. "The better question is, why aren't you taking morning inventory." The halfling held up a half-crumpled scrap of parchment and scoffed.
"Done. An hour ago. When did you get so into 'honing' and start giving a damn if I do my duty?" in response, Wrath vaulted off of the pole with an acrobatic skill that Sid had not known that the man posessed, landing in front of her with a neutral expression on his face. She noted how that pendant hanging from his neck cast a slightly green light as opposed to white when reflecting the sun's rays.
"My apologies, captain," there was a poorly veiled tone of sarcasm, "But I merely figued that, as the commanding officer, it was my duty to make sure what needed to be done has been." the general walked past Sid without sparing her another glance. Behind him, she seethed with rage and confusion. It was as if he became an arrogant...well, militaristic ass over night! Did rank really do that to a man? Wrath's voice met her ears one more time before he left, jolting the halfling from her thoughts. "Sid. Make sure everyone is ready for tommorow. We've failed enough as a unit. Even once is too many. This time, we set the standard. Not lower it."
Sid turned to watch Wrath leave for his tent and stared after him. Slowly, she nodded and went about the camp for rounds.
"That one doesn't need those--"
"Shaddap, I say it goes on and that's fina--"
Sid placed a hand on each of the twin's shoulders and raised an eyebrow quizzically. Both humans began a bout of flailing limbs and words that blended together in their frantic attempt to talk over one another. Sid smiled and pointed at Turha, the younger of the Mialee siblings. The dusky-skinned man grinned in triumph and began his explanation. First, he slapped the metal hide of the Darkguard that they had practically torn apart.
"So we're refitting these things for multi-terrain combat, and I'm thinking we need to be as lightweight as possible without compromising structural integrity, but-" Gurgen, the elder Mialee chimed in before he could finish.
"I just want to paint some flames on 'em! Seriously, the entire paint job adds barely half a pound!" Gurgen whined.
"That's a half-pound more of energy that the constructs have to compensate for before..."
Sid didn't care to hear the rest. It was all jibberish the to halfling anyway. She marked their names off of the list and continued on down the path to where the rest of what had been the Fortieth was probably still asleep. The first tent she checked was arguably the oddest. Floating sigils of strange power and books floated in the air within the enclosure. Amidst them all, a hairless, white-skinned woman was muttering and glancing about frantically looking for something within the aerial text. Before Sid could call out to Beelzes the woman's skin came alive with a multitude of ebon tattoos and she cried out in exultation. "I have it! Little Shanir! I have it!"
"Faera, wake up!" Beelzes squeezed the dark elf girl's cheeks with the force of an elderly woman upon a child and squeeled in delight. "Look! I have it!" she held up a vial of blood--Faera's, though how she aquired it was a mystery, and uncorked the glass to place a few drops on her flawless skin. "Normal. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Look again!" the warlock willed one of her infernal markings to place itself on the skin under the blood. Instantly the crimson liquid sizzled and hissed, popping violently and radiating a faint golden light before evaporating completely. "Sensetivity to Avernus! It's remarkable--wait. You didn't see that did you? Um, your blood just got pissed off at touching my hell-brands."
The deep human placed both hands on either side of Faera's head and grinned savagely. "You're Plane-Touched! The ability to heal and cast arcane magicks with only the barest level of comprehension for either, your unnaturally light skin, the aura of good that wafts off you so much I can smell it!" her voice lowered to an almost reverent state. "You have an angel somewhere in your bloodline, and for some reason you inherited some of their traits. Why not your sister though, I cannot--" that was when the howling began.
Sid proceeded to watch the deep human go sprinting out into the foggy morning, crashing into Faera's tent and screaming something about plain-touching. Before she lost interest. The next tent on the list was also rather...strange. Caine lay sprawled out on his bed, dead to the world, while the new elven girl Mikana sat on the bedside just looking down at him. The scene reminded Sid of a mother watching over her sleeping child. It was when the elf reached down to touch Caine's scarred wrist did the halfling depart. Before she could make it to the next set of troops though, a blood-curdling scream rent the air.
Sid bounded through the camp towards the sound, and passing by other soldiers did not notice their non-chalance although someone was obviously in dire need of aid. The call rang out again, this time closer and more discernable. A man, she thought. The voice sounded somewhat familiar too...Sid skidded to a stop when she reached the clearing that the legion had gathered in nine-days prior. In place of the bonfire was a makeshift gibbet, on which Gilleas writhed in agony. The structure had been gifted with some malign enchantment that caused it's ropes to lash and tear at the man with horrid ease, separating flesh from bone without pause. The sight was horrific. Still, those soldiers who stopped by to watch only did so with passing interest.
The halfling ran up to the cloaked figure presiding over the torture and nearly bowled him over. "What's the meaning of this!?"
The executioner glanced down and quickly saluted. "Captain. This man is a deserter. As you know, the punishment is death."
Sid nearly screamed and turned towards the gibbet, intending to tear Gilleas down with her bare hands if she had to. Then she noticed...the cries of anguish had ceased. Gilleas Arkha hung by his arms from the gibbet, the entire lower half of his body piled on the ground in a gore-strewn heap. The executioner started forward to clean up the mess and Sid could only turn away in sheer terror. That was the first time she had witnessed the punishments the Legion of Ashes meated out. Could that have been her, at some point? Thanaros simply watched, his arms crossed. After a while the orc trudged off in the other direction towards the sparring grounds. The rain suddenly started up again, drenching the entire camp.
From inside his tent Wrath listened to the patter of rain against his tarp. He sat on the bed, still only in his pants absorbing the sounds of the world. It was still an hour before he was required for active duty so he decided to take off the necklace. Instantly, the world seemed to dull and he felt...heavier. His thoughts were no longer crystal clear, in such focus. "Almost like a drug." he muttered to the darkness of the tent.
Of course, she also needed much more practice with her new sword, and so she readily volunteered if anyone decided they needed someone to knock around for a while. She was sore when she awoke every morning, but used vigorous stretching and the loosening provided by the movement of a match to work out the pain, at least for a while. It was getting to the point where she didn't notice much anymore.
This morning, she was facing off against Alistair, who despite her best efforts always seemed to somehow be up earlier than she was. He was also quite clearly taking it easy on her, which might once have insulted her very deeply, but presently was welcomed. She'd get nothing out of this if he took her out first thing- just as she'd have been less-than-useful if Caine had decided to use berserk-mode in their match. He did make a point of taking fatal swings anyway, but his control was fine enough that he could give her small nicks instead of slashes, reminders of places she needed to guard or move.
"Watch your left," he informed her mildly, and she moved in just enough time to fill the area with the clang of steel-on-steel instead of the much quieter sound of yet another averted fatality. "Your reflexes are getting better," he observed, and she wondered just how he managed to appear so completely pleasant about everything. She could manage neutrality most of the time, but Alistair was downright nice, and it had thrown her off at first. Well, that and his appearance. She had to admit that if she hadn't heard Faera call him sir without any degree of uncertainty, there might have been an awkward moment in there somewhere.
Before she could launch her planned counterattack, though, the camp was filled with pained howls, and she turned, intending to rush to the scene of whatever was going on. Had there been some kind of attack by the Children? Why was nobody sounding the alarm? Talae was stopped only by a hand on her shoulder, and the white-feathered harpy shook his head. "You do not wish to see that, Miss Talae," Alistair informed her quietly, and she raised a speculative eyebrow.
"Oh, and why might that be?" As far as she could tell, there was no reason for them to be standing here while a Legionnaire was in obvious agony some small distance from them.
"The Legion does not take kindly to the crime of desertion," was the reply, but the taloned arm moved away, freeing her to act as she would. "Look if you must, but be forewarned." It was something Alistair had seen enough times to not be even the slightest bit inclined to glimpse it again. Instead, he took to wandering the camp, avoiding the central area not from fear, but the sort of grim resignation that needed no explanation, perhaps hoping to bump into someone who felt the same. Conversation was ever a welcome distraction from the more shadowed corners of one's mind.
Talae followed the sound of yelling until she reached the source, which had died out just a moment ago. Perhaps that word choice was a tad too accurate, and she had to stop herself from cringing at the sight. Captain Grimsmirk looked quite distressed, and eventually turned and left, along with the half-orc she recognized by this point as Thanaros.
The sight was disgusting, and that was from someone who had watched victims writhe in all kinds of agony before they died as slow-acting toxins took hold of the body's systems. That... was decidedly different than this, and even she did not stoop to what would have amounted to torture. Fitting, perhaps, that the sky chose that moment to break open and drench everything in sight. Talae shook her head in disgust and began the grim walk back to the dining area. She needed something to eat, and she needed to do it in the company of people who were very much alive, and when she came back, the water would have washed the earth clean of the traces of what happened to deserters.
Caine sat beside a babbling brooke under an apple tree. The man bore no scars, his eyes were softer, and he looked younger... However, the starkest aspect was that he was smiling... Smiling not out of blood spilled, not out of dark humor, and not out of a twisted sense of irony... But because of genuine joy. His eyes held a gleam, a cheerful gleam that had yet to be replaced by a murderous one. His lips was eternally in a cheerful smile and a soft hum emanated from his throat.
The armor and swords of the legion were conspicuously missing. Instead, a light brown tunic cut off at the sleeves and a pair of muddied farmer's breeches hung at his waist. A hoe laid beside him, gleaming in the sunlight. Then, a voice. A soft, feminine voice gently rolled through the sunlight. "Caine!? Caine! Where are you... Are you hiding from me?" It called. Caine shifted his body to meet the owner of this voice. A young woman of her twenties in a feathery white spring dress. Her hair was raven, her voice honeyed, and her eyes a deep brown. She was, for all intents and purposes, breathtaking...
"Hiding from you? Now love, why would I do something like that?" Caine asked, waving at the woman to call her over. The gleam in his eyes, it wasn't only just good cheer... It was love. The woman finally laid eyes on the man and sat her hands on her slender hips, trying her best to look mad... She was failing of course, smiles fracturing her determined angry face. Finally, she relented and hefted up the dress and began to stride towards Caine...
About halfway there, Caine saw the Hoe on the ground and threw a hand up to try and warn her, "Wait! Lie-" WHACK. She had stepped on the hoe and the thing flew up and bashed her on the forehead. Caine was up in moments and at her side immediately, holding her against him. He stammered and stuttered, "Liera... I-I'm sorry. I-I tried to warn-" Pop. Caine was interrupted by a slap to the face. "Why do you have to leave your junk laying about!" She yelled at the man, rubbing her head, nursing a new bruise and mouthing the word 'ow'. Caine, who was also rubbing his face took a step closer to the girl and began stroking her cheek.
"I'm sorry.. Can I do anything to make it up?" Caine asked, voice devoid of everything that made him the berserker and instead replaced by care, love, and tenderness. The woman smiled coyly and began to rub his wrist, a sensation that almost felt real. "I can think of something," She said playfully. Caine immediately picked up on the hint with a warm smile. In a flourish, Caine picked the young girl up in his arms, her dress fluttering as he spun her, "I think I can do that," He said, happiness tugging at his heart. And with that, he strode off towards the nearby cottage, with the girl in his arms, in a loving embrace.
"What the hell is that racket!?" He shouted as he shot from his cot. A scream- no a wail. A death wail echoed throughout the camp. What was causing that horrible noise? Was it the Children? No... They would have seen them coming from the ridge... Punishment more than likely... But who? Caine hung his head, eyes still sleepy from being jerked awake. His upper body was completely bare, save for the numerous amount of scars. His chest leather was in a heap beside the cot as was his new armor... He had been tinkering with it, as well as using some of the services of his fellow comrades. His knew swords were hung up beside the cot. His legs were still wrapped in the old leather from the first batch he received. He wore those instead of mussing up the new ones.
Then, he noticed the elf at his side. She had been touching his wrist... Like in his dream. He stared at her for a moment before, "Who in the hell-" He cut himself off. He was being rude and sending the wrong impression could not be tolerated in times like this. Who knows, in the next couple of days either of them might die.
"I'm sorry..." He forget Mikana's name for a moment, still embattled with sleep. "But why are you-" He cut himself off again. Her scarred throat. He had forgotten that she couldn't speak either... That would make communicating... Difficult to say the least. "... here," He decided to finish. He looked into the eyes of the elf for a moment and just stared. Who was she? They had exchanged many glances over the last couple of days, but Caine had yet to place a finger on who she was. Yet, he held an sense that she was important... He didn't know why, or how... He just did.
Caine then swung his feet off of the cot and just sat, rolling his shoulders and arching his back, stretching. He had made enough room on the cot just in case Mikana wished to sit. Caine didn't say much for a while and finally, just decided to make small talk... Or try, "Is it morning already?" He asked, wishing for only a couple of more minutes to dream...
Lily was making herself comfortable in the camp, being awake from her trance-like state the elves used instead of sleep. She had been awake since the first rays of sunlight drifted over the ridge. She had begun the earlier morning honing her archery skills, using the crudely set up range, found adjacent to the sparring area, that she herself had helped to set up with, along with a couple of the other archers from the Legion. It was more or less five wooden targets set up at least fifty yards away... Small stuff for the elves. She was consistently tagging bulls eyes at something between one or two seconds a pop. Of course, these targets weren't moving, weren't defending, and weren't trying to breath fire down her neck.
However, she prided herself on the speed she had established, having been using a bow since she was a small elven child (Elflet?). Tagging a child in the face was no use if it took a minute to do and his buddies were already upon you. Feeling well enough about her skills, she continued through the camp, seeing her new captain, Wrath something or another... The captain was beginning to... cop and attitude. It seemed that he was letting the rank get to his head. Lily found nothing wrong with taking a little pride in ones place, and merely waved it off.
The next on her sojourn were the human twins, Turha and Gurgen. Sid had already moved on when Lily had arrived. They were still scuffling about the paint job on the hulking Darkgard beast... Or would be hulking if the thing wasn't eviscerated. Lily listened contently with a mild sense of humor as the twins continued their back and forth... Finally, she spoke up innocent and cheerful tone as clear as ever, "I think it should have the flames. I bet they would look neat on the golem!" She exclaimed in what seemed to be an inexperienced tone... Though, she proved it wrong by her next admission, "Besides... If we are to fight the dragons, then what better defiance than fighting wearing your enemies' own weapon... For decoration. Taunting them by using their hellfire as a reminder, 'we are not frightened, we will not surrender..." She paused for a moment, "We will not relent." She said, speaking with such pride and defiance that belied her age.
Then a scream, a piercing wail. Using her elven speed and agility, she raced to where it emanated from. Within moments, she arrived to see the last screams of a dieing deserter... And the subsequent man being split in half... The sight disturbed her greatly. She had never seen such a... display of sadism and horrid torture. She had to avert her eyes from the mess. As she did, the skies opened up and cried. How could such people do this to their own? She shook her head in disgust and left. Quickly, she made her way away from the massacre.. She both wished to be alone, but not alone at the same time... He gave up and decided to the dining area, a place full of people no doubt...
There, she found a bench and sat. She began to rock back and forth slighty, mulling over the sight... Was this the horrors of the war?
She had no idea what was going on, and at this particular point in time, she could not particularly say she cared. Nobody was sounding an alarm, and all motion in her general vicinity was at normal pace; nobody was rushing into battle, which meant there was nobody for her to obliterate and all was normal in camp. Save the screaming, obviously. Which was really just giving her a headache.
Donning her armor, Neira yawned and stretched, contemplated throwing her black robes on over the leather, but then decided that it was going to rain soon and thus this would be unwise. She wondered if that little elf with the big sword wanted to fight again today. Hopefully not; Neira rather hated hitting to bruise. It wasn’t really any fun, though it had been something of an amusing challenge for a while. She had been surprised anyone had enough guts to ask her actually, but she doubted many would after how it had turned out.
“Hmm…” she thought aloud, stepping outside to the first drops of rain. She contemplated going to eat, but she wasn’t really in the mood. Well, there was one thing she could do- this early in the morning, he was probably unoccupied. She wondered if he’d be the awkward one or the arrogant one today. Psionically, she knew what was to blame for the newly-minted General’s odd mood swings, but she had thus far chosen not to share this knowledge with anyone else.
Shrugging to herself, she decided to let it surprise her and headed for the command tent. Since situations where she knocked tended to result in a swifter exit than she wanted to bother with, she didn’t, simply stepping inside instead, crossing her arms and leaning against one of the framing poles. Wrath’s back was to her, and she noted the blackish plate there with a raised eyebrow. So, it’s as I thought…
“You wished to see me, O General?” she asked sardonically. The title meant absolutely nothing to Neira, and frankly, she thought all of them were pointless. If someone was leader, fine. Let them be. But the trappings that came with it were wholly unnecessary.
Faera rarely dreamed of anything pleasant, but she was almost certain she was not woken from a nightmare when someone grabbed her face. Knowing with stark certainty that Talae would not do that, she sat bolt upright, narrowly missing contact of her head against Beelzes’s own. It took a few seconds to make sense of all the sensory information that was flying at her, so she focused on the warlock’s voice.
"Look! I have it!" Her friend and sort-of teacher sounded much more enthusiastic than usual, and so Fae assumed that ‘it’ must be rather important indeed, though what qualified, she could not guess at.
“Umm…” she was pretty sure Beelzes would soon realize the futility of such an imperative, but wondered if she shouldn’t point it out anyway.
"Normal. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Look again!" There was a sizzling sound, and Faera picked up the scent of blood, very close. She wondered for the briefest moment if Beelzes was trying out some new form of magic that involved making acid out of blood (because it really was about five seconds since she’d jolted awake and that made about as much sense as anything).
"Sensetivity to Avernus! It's remarkable--wait. You didn't see that did you? Um, your blood just got pissed off at touching my hell-brands." Well, that certainly was interesting, though she didn’t really get what it meant. Sensitivity to Avernus? Why would her blood possibly react any more violently than a normal person’s to relics of the underworld?
"You're Plane-Touched! The ability to heal and cast arcane magicks with only the barest level of comprehension for either, your unnaturally light skin, the aura of good that wafts off you so much I can smell it! You have an angel somewhere in your bloodline, and for some reason you inherited some of their traits. Why not your sister though, I cannot--"
Faera was about to explain that she and Talae were in fact half-sisters, because really that was the only part of any of it which she knew how to respond to at all, but Beelzes was cut off by a very loud, human shriek, and Faera shuddered. That was not a good sound. Even the ones on the battlefield were less bad than that. It smacked of drawn-out wounds or something. But why would such a sound be made here, of all places?
“What’s going on out there?” she asked, as mush to the air as to Beelzes. All thoughts and questions about the deep human’s recent revelation fled her for a moment, at least until the screaming ceased. To get any closer to the scene really wouldn’t help Fae figure anything out, so instead she simply listened- and it was uncanny how usual everything seemed in the wake of whatever had occurred. The dark elf swallowed audibly and shook her head. “Explain more at breakfast?” she asked, seeking for something to do that didn’t involve thinking about it, whatever it had been.
On the way, he heard screaming that seemed largely out of place in the camp. Upon investigation, Duran found Gilleas being torn apart; The penalty for his desertion was clear. It appeared as though The Legion had gone out of their way not only to find him, but to execute him in the camp where his former legion was staying. It was a grim message to everybody who was there. Duran winced at the sickening sound of his lower half being torn away, as his innards became quite the opposite. Duran tried to at least look Gilleas' remains over, if not to just be ready for what the coming battles would bring.
Duran thought it seemed like a waste, even if he was a coward. The dragons were intent on killing every other race, and here they were doing it for them. He could have at least been sold into slavery, or left out in the middle of nowhere to try and survive.
Suddenly a thought occurred. The dragons didn't just kill, they exterminated. They committed genocide with their magic. Dots were connected by lines, as the big picture came into view. He walked from the deserter, doing nothing but thinking.
"The first race killed by the Slaying Spell was the Dwarves...Or was it?"
Sarish was already awake. It was a habit of his to be up early; or at least earlier than the other person in the bed. As he slithered innocently towards the Mess Hall, he heard the screams of a man. He was very familiar with that sound, though he wouldn't be the first to admit such a thing. As he investigated the sounds, he only caught the last half of the execution, just in time to hear the executioner talking to Commander Grimsmirk.
"Captain. This man is a deserter. As you know, the punishment is death."
Sarish held back a smirk. It served him right. A man lived by his word, and if he could not keep his promises. or at least talk his way out of them, he deserved whatever fate he was dealt.
"What a waste of good blood," Sarish said quietly to himself as he made his way once more to the Mess Hall. The gore of the execution only served to make him hungrier. Suddenly, the rain began to fall, and Sarish gave a low hiss of disapproval, speeding up his pace.
Duran sat inside his tent after his meal, going through his things for something to write in. He successfully found a journal, and had to think for a moment about whether or not his ideas were worth the destruction of a tree. He decided that these were "Extenuating Circumstances," as he started to write his theories in Druidic, a language known only to druids. He was going to make sure that nobody but him would be able to read what he was writing, for better or for worse.
He moved over to the mess hall, or tent rather, and grabbed a plate. The server noted that he was rather early, and Kisikoni merely joked about it. "I'm nocturnal." He said, as the food was dumped onto his platter. They shared a short laugh and he went to take a seat. There were several other deep humans, all of them looking tired and grumpy. He sympathized with them- and quickly consumed his breakfast. There was a slight racket as he exited the tent, a man being locked into a gibbet. He walked over, curious but hesitant.
It was the man that vanished since the battle, Gilleas Arkha. He had made acquaintance with him in the Inn. One look at him and Kisikoni was sure the man was oblivious to his presence. He was marked as a deserter- and they had found him. The deep human was very well aware of what the consequences were during his decade of service. Unlike most who walked by interestedly and then left in some form of disgust, Kisikoni remained to watch. The last thing anyone wanted was to be regarded as scum- just another criminal in war. He remembered that these punishments used to call for full attention- nowadays it was hardly practical. It was his kin, his little brother in a sense, hung up on that Gibbet. To not honor his death was something Kisikoni would never do.
So, Kisikoni watched until Gillieas Arkha finally had passed away. His face had remained stone-like throughout the entire scene, his howls bouncing off his exterior. He cupped his left fist into his right hand. "O, lord of earth. May your holiness find in way to have mercy on his soul. Accept his blood, spilled in vain. May your child live peacefully." He prayed softly. He turned away and started forging a path toward the sparring area. The rain came down, as if the lord himself cried for it's son that wanted to survive- but found death in it's place.
The people of the sparring area had remained rather undaunted by the weather, continuing to wrestle in the mud and duel while soaked. Most have already left to take a bite to eat. He got up, moving over to a wooden dummy. It had three protruding blocks arranged in a downward pointing triangle of wood to act as outstretched arms, and a 45 degree bent block to act as a leg. Raising his arms, he began striking the wooden arms, practicing what he did best- hand-to-hand combat. The sharp clacking of wood drowned away all thoughts of the deceased deserter, as the deep human's movements became faster and more precise. He noted that this particular dummy has not been used much- as dust would be expelled from the surface during the first few hits.
He was on a hard surface, arms bound behind him, skin raw from trying to loosen or break them but with little success. His thick black hair is matted and damp against his head, skin clammy yet the only moisture seems to pool near his face. His body aches, arms and shoulders as well as back cut and treated from many quick swipes, as if he had been mauled by some feral creature. In the darkness burning crimson eyes stab out at him as silence begins to drown his mind.
Gormun opened his eyes slowly, mind bent between want of sleep and the fear of the memories. His skin felt like old paper as stress and pain filled it with wrinkles, skin haggard and aged well beyond his years in only a few days. He closed his eyes again, a wounded noise rising from his throat as the gnawing push of his empty stomach greeted his fitful attempt at sleep. His body seemed asleep and numb, the cold stone floor beneath him offering no comfort as an almost continuous drip of water fell from above on the center of his head. If he were at his best it would be of no concern, but trapped in place devoid of time or strength each drop was a hammer into his skull. His mouth twitched, inside tasting foul of the dirt and grime he had sucked in with what pathetic moisture he could get from the floor. His only source of water.
He had come to in this darkness and time seemed different here. It was sluggish and thick, a soup that pressed in the air and caught in his throat with each breath. He feared it could suffocate him if the hunger didn’t kill him first. He knew someone- no, that wasn’t right… Something was in here with him. A dark presence that leaned on his exhausted mind and pressed him with the reminder: this could always get worse.
Something shifted, no sound made, as a metallic foot pressed into his back along with five long, sharp blades that seemed to move as talons would on another creature. Each one carefully pressing across his back, yet nowhere that would threaten his life if he tried to shove into it to die and escape it all. Each talon pressing into his flesh than releasing, the sensation almost like needle legs of a spider climbing his flesh, forcing his skin open to draw blood.
”Speak.” A cold whisper forced itself from the darkness. The presence was behind him yet the voice enveloped him, cold sound clear in his head and more commanding than any shout he could have mustered. A terrible voice that spoke little but demanded much.
He set his jaw, clenching it tight as lips quivered, not willing to give in yet. Eyes forced shut and drawing lines on his face as he waited for metal claws to set into his body, furrowing and shredding his skin and forcing them to mend, and repeat.
The command was not to him yet it was confusing. His eyelids lifted as he gazed at the small margin of floor shown before him. Something forced into the back of his head, his resistance gone as forehead hit stone, fingers grabbing his hair as the metal claws wrapped just over the top of his head, each one scoring a cut on his brow. The pain came swiftly but it was dull to him now, he was losing connection with his body. The hand was gripped tight and strong, jerking his head back and forcing his gaze out as something was dumped across the floor.
A deathly white face, almost bleached of color with blue lips and bulging eyes, met his gaze, despair etched upon the other so cleanly it was as if it was set into marble. The lone arrow still protruding from the back of Corporal Yanis’ head as he was left before Gormun. The sight caused a cringe but the grip prevented him from looking away. The next thud made his body jump as something much darker obscured the halfling, skin tinged gray and black, face down in the floor as a deep and long cut had removed some of where his neck should have been.
His face was familiar.
Memories pushed in his head, ones he could not sift or ignore as they filed past him in a rush and a name came out, his voice stale from lack of use. “Brack…” At once the memories attached to the name overwhelmed him and Gormun realized his brother had been slain. A wound tore in his mind, greater than any pain he had felt, or the starvation he endured. His eyes closed but were devoid of tears he could not shed as his body clenched onto any water it held. His only brother was gone, dead from only one blow and not safe to warn the Shawoman. He heard a noise that sounded like a wounded animal and not his own voice yet he wasn’t sure if it was real.
Another shriek tore from his chest, a savage roar as his hope was snatched away from him, “Demon Spawn! Your vileness is only measured by foul acts you reap. May the Horde and Shawoman smite your actions.”
His eyes opened as his mind froze. In his weakness his mind ignored his oath and broke his honor. For to guard the Shawoman was to deny her existence to those that did not know. His head hit the stone floor as he realized the foot and the hand had left him, the distinct sound of metal talons clacking around on the stone before him. The figure knelt down, even in a place devoid of most light he could see the faint, dark crimson of the armor. The being was just before him, yet just inside his reach, taunting him to try and make a move. Even if he could his body wouldn’t listen.
”Where?” The whisper pushed at him, drilling into his mind with a command that could tame worgs if it wished. Yet no magic touched it, just promises of what may come if disobedience was the answer.
Gormun twisted his head and tried to look away, biting on the tip of his tongue and pushing out the pain. Teeth weak yet desperate to try and cut through the muscle before he shed any more. Something traced over his neck, softly kissing yet cold and chilling. Head lifting up to break away as the movement followed until the claws hooked in the bottom of his chin, pressing until they drew droplets of his blood. He shut his eyes. He couldn’t take it anymore. Pleading for forgiveness from the angels his eyes snapped shut and in a wavering voice he divulged the location of the town and where the Shawoman should be.
His mind had broken.
Duran began to chastise her, but before he could finish her name, she shook her entire body, spreading mud and water everywhere, including on Duran. He closed his eyes and wiped off his face, and gave her a stern look before it broke down into genuine laugh. He couldn’t stay mad at her. He shook his head and exited the tent, putting the hood of his cloak up to shield his face from the rain.
Before heading out to the training area, Duran checked for his weapons. He still had all the same gear he had when the fortieth set off on their first adventure. It wouldn’t be long before they headed out on their grand mission, so it would probably be a good idea to at least exchange what he had for something that could be a little more reliable. He headed for the armor. They were in for quite a few strange requests.
Sarish sat in the Mess Hall gorging himself on the rations that he was no doubt going to earn in the coming days. The patter of rain collided with the roof of the tent, and he let loose a low hiss. There were few things he despised more than rain. He wasn’t sure exactly why he had a great aversion to it, but he had made up his mind that he wasn’t leaving the tent until it let up.
Looking around, it seemed like there should have been more people eating. He looked around for the members of The Black Guard to which he had been assigned, but he didn’t immediately recognize any faces, or at the very least didn’t spot any. He took a bite of what appeared to be the leg of either an oversized chicken, or an undersized turkey. He thought about it for a moment. He didn’t remember being any livestock near the tent. He scratched his head, pondering the mystery behind the unidentified drumstick, before looking outside to see if it had stopped raining.
It had not.
Duran headed towards the armory with a heavily scribbled on piece of paper. He was starting to grow uneasy that he would so easily allow himself to start using paper at all, but there was no specific rule against it as far as being a druid was concerned.
As he entered the armory, he was given a once over by an orc.
“This is not going to be easy.” He thought loudly to himself.
“Hello. My name is Duran Cidovan. I’m a member of The Black Guard, and I’m trying to outfit myself with some arms and armor that I’m going to need for the coming days. Here’s a list of things I need. I’ll understand if there are a few things you might not have.”
Duran slipped the orc the piece of paper, on which his list of supplies was written in poor yet legible handwriting. He was unsure exactly what he could get out of the armory, and was prepared to hear a string of guttural curses from the orc.
- Set of Full Plate, preferably wooden
- A heavy wooden shield
- Up to 50 lbs. of wood (Darkwood preferred) if no armor is available
- Up to three shortspears
- A finely crafted scimitar
- A pouch of sling ammo
- A good enchanter
“I…uh…understand if you can’t help me with the armor and the enchanter, at least.”
"Are you some kind of idiot? You realize we are not in a forest, right? And that this amount of raw material can not be spared to one man, but also that you can't even find some of this crap in an armory." crumpling up the form, Gungnir disappeared within the dark recesses of the massive structure grumbling something derogetory regarding the intelligence of humans. A few minutes later the orc returned to Cid carrying several items which he shoved into the druid's arms. "One tower shield, wooden. One short-spear, darkwood and tempered steel. One scimitar, cold steel. One ammunition pouch, iron slugs, 22 rounds. That's all you get. If you had taken the time to grab the shit while it was still in it's cart, you wouldn't have been cut out of some of your requested material. As for armor...don't you Blackguards get custom live leather armor? Why the hell do you need anything else?"
The question was obviously rhetorical, and the orc made it even more evident that he wanted the druid gone.
As Sarish was thoroughly examining the roasted fowl leg, a lithe form slid up to take a seat across from him. Flicking the end of her verdant tail against Sarish's hip, Iriana rested her chin in a delicate palm and waved her own hunk of bird meat in a small circle. She looked at the other lamia with a slight smile. "Cockatrice." she carefully enunciated each part of the word before taking a bite out of the leg. "Ish good. Kind'a tasht like basilisk, without that gross cow-flavor." Iriana swallowed the food and stared at Sarish for a short while. "Sooo...i've been here for a while and you're the first of the Kindred besides myself I have laid eyes upon..." she leaned forward so her...gifts were resting heavily on the tabletop. "Would you like to...?" Iriana let the sentence trail off, crossing her middle and forefingers in the sembelance of two intertwining tails.
Wrath turned towards Neira, her voice suddenly ringing out almost made him jump. He immediately noticed the nightmarian's eyes rove over the ten or so ebon plates grafted into his back and torso. He cursed silently. Upon waking up this morning, he had cast a glamour to make it appear as if his skin was smooth and normal. He hadn't takent the nightmarian resistance to arcane effects into account. Still, it was not as if he was going to get any answers by hiding anymore. Wrath gave himself a moment to let his racing heart calm and cleared his throat.
"Valtegan." he motioned for her to take a seat on the chair at the desk across from him, but didn't hold his breath. In his short time working with the sellsword it was plain to see that her mind ran a deviant course from those of the average mortal. Even moreso, considering the hive-like community in which her species thrived by not being so individualistic. "I'm sure you have taken notice of my...condition. I wanted to know if these," he tapped a chitin band of hide on his collar bone, "Were just as I was told by so many doctors: A simple birth defect resulting from an extreme dosage arcana in my life during my mother's pregnancy...or my other, much more obvious guess. Do I have nightmarian blood in me?" despite Wrath's best efforts, his pulse quickened and his breath came in increasingly shorter intakes.
Beelzes stared into Faera's unseeing eyes as if she had not heard the cries of anguish. "Wha? Breakfast? Sounds good!" the deep human shifted to leave and then glanced down, noticing for the first time that she was naked save for a breech cloth tied around her waste. "Hrm. Allow me to get dressed first...I seem to have forgotten my clothes again. Meet you at the mess hall in ten minutes!"
"Oh...?" the silibant voice, belonging to a male elf, tapped the crystal orb with interest. "So they plan to attack the Dragon Reaches? What fun! It's almost sad to think that they won't last an hour against my forces..." Zakair sat crouched over the burnt ruin that used to be a desk within the scout tower, reading into the scrying magic he had set in place. Within the foggy depths of the gem was the smiling face of his daughter, Mikana, and a rather burly human that she was dragging through the rain towards the mess hall. "Most interesting...I wonder what she will think of herself when she becomes herself again?"
She seated herself at the end of a table, and it wasn't long before Beelzes parked herself on the other side, plate heaped with so many different things that Faera almost had difficulty picking them out. Did she smell both eggs and... jam? She chose not to ask. The Deep human warlock always seemed to attack everything with enthusiasm, and food was no different, if the hasty stab of silverware against the ceramic plates they were provided with was any indication.
"So, you're really only half-sisters?" her self-appointed teacher asked by way of conversation, and Faera nodded.
"Mm-hm," the dark elf replied. "Our mother is the same. Tala's father was killed at the very end of the war between the Primah and the Civee,and I'm not really sure who mine is." She supposed people were supposed to be bothered, talking about things like this, but she had never been. How could she miss someone she'd never known? The only parent she'd ever had was also her sister, and that was simply the way of it for her.
"Huh. Well, guess that explains it then. It's not a secret or anything, is it?"
Fae shook her head. "Not really, but then I doubt it's really the sort of thing that comes up in casual conversation, is it?"
Beelzes laughed. "Clearly, you haven't met all my friends, Little Shanir." Fae wasn't exactly certain how to take that, but assumed that maybe some of the warlock's old friends were just as adamant about studying magic as she was? Would that make genealogy a valid topic, perhaps? "Don't think about it too hard," her friend chastised with amusement, and Fae smiled.
Neira did not take the proffered seat, but did move further inside arms still crossed as the fledgling general explained himself. When he reached the words "birth defect" she chuckled darkly, but waited for him to finish before she bothered speaking.
She knew the answer to his question, of course. He was precisely half as Nightmarian as she was, and she knew that if she showed him how, he'd be able to feel it too- the call of the hive. Ah, how she hated it. What use was the hive to her? The bloody hive did nothing useful, it hadn't in a while, for that matter. The hive grew weak, pathetic, reprehensible, and she had done everything mentally possible (and for her, that was a lot) to blunt her connection to it. Now, she only heard it when she let her guard down, or when she was too weak to maintain the block she had placed around that particualrly annoying little corner of her mind.
But he knew none of this, and she wasn't about begin by explaining that. No no, there were much more entertaining ways to go about it. Neira inhaled deeply for a moment, the slow, half-feral smile blooming over her face. He was doing it unintentionally, of course, giving off those pheromones, but it was giving her rather amusing ideas. If he wanted tangible proof, there was a very easy way to go about getting it.
"Hmm..." she drawled languidly, bringing herself out of her standstill and assuming a deliberate, predatory stalk, circling the officer with her hands now clasped loosely behind her back. "Nightmarian blood, you say? An... intriguing possibility." Her circles got smaller and smaller as she pretended to ponder this, until with an almost-lazy movement, she tapped the plate on his collarbone, flicking her eyes to his face. "Allow me to put it this way... if it is true, I'm about to make you very uncomfortable, at least for a bit."
Having said this, Neira stepped to the side, still turning circles, but letting her chitinous hand trail languidly around his neck as she moved, consciously doing what he did not appear to have control over: releasing Nightmarian pheromones into the air. They had some effect on anyone, but nothing quite so potent as would be felt by someone with the proper genetics. "Well?" she purred wickedly. "If I were male and you of the blood, you'd probably want to kill me right now. As it is, the feeling should be distinctly more... pleasant, no?" He might still want to kill her later, depending, but she could almost guarantee that no such thought was in his head at the moment.
It had occurred to Neira more than once that she might be irredeemably vile, but she did so enjoy it.
The younger Shanir was absorbed in conversation with Beelzes, and though the subject matter was somewhat sensitive, Talae did not interrupt, as she didn't particularly care what people knew or assumed about her family, though she was a tad curious as to what had brought the discussion about in the first place. Iriana and Sarish were talking a ways down the table, but she pointedly ignored them. Anything Sarish was talking about was bound to be rather... personal. She at least was not inclined to speak of such things in public.
Alistair was not particularly desirous of a meal at present, and so he spent a bit of time simply wandering around, passing Qinn and Achiru on their way to, well, presumably to eat, but the two were practically attached at the hip these days, which amused him somewhat. Eventually, he stumbled upon the halfling Captain.
"Does something trouble you, Captain Grimsmirk?" he asked kindly, settling himself beside the diminutive officer. Alistair was rather emotionally intelligent, and he was fairly certain that something did. However, he had long ago learned the difference between the truth and one's willingness to discuss it. He was ever a willing ear, but that half the equation could not function without an equally-voluntary tongue.
If he had to guess, he supposed she was probably either feuding with someone or had been disturbed by the scene created this morning by the execution of the deserter. Captain she might be, but that was no guarantee she would have seen such a thing before, and indeed having perhaps been responsible for the man at one point might well have made it worse. Of course, it could be nothing; he was as fallible in his intuition as anyone without psionic skills, after all.
He scratched his neck as Mikana took Caine up on his subtle offer of a seat. The mere fact of the offer was something new for the normally stoic berskerker. It showed the creases and cracks in Caine's rock solid persona. Something about this woman set Caine off-balance, almost with a kind of kindred spirit. She seemed to have gone through a lot, as her scarred throat testified. Her voice was taken from her, no doubt a beautiful voice of elves. Caine felt a pang og guilt... Why was he comparing himself to her? She had lost her ability to speak and no telling what else, and here he was perfectly strong and healthy. He shook his head.
Mikana merely continued to gaze at the berserker, finally tilting her head in a questioning manner. Caine met her eyes, those familiar eyes, once more before breaking the contact and staring forward. "This war... This God forsaken war has taken a lot from us all hasn't it?" He asked. Mikana nodded in agreement, rubbing her throat for the evidence. "I wish it was all over... Hell, I wish it would have never happened. It just sucked us all in, tore lives apart, and turned everything we knew upside down," He said, a flare of anger in his voice. Mikana shifted away from the berserker's anger, a notion that glance from Caine saw. "I'm sorry... I get worked up over these issues." Clearly...
However, it was strange. Caine was talking to this womanly more openly than anyone else in the camp. More then Wrath, more than Sid, and even more than Talae. "It helps when you are fighting for your life in the thicket of things. To block out pain with rage, to remove fatigue with fury. Letting your own anger guide your hands. To forget everything except why you fight... Not so much for actually living your life," Caine said, staring at the dirt floor while Mikana nodded, understanding what Caine meant. "I wasn't always like this, you know. I wasn't always a barbarian," A meaningful echo... From somewhere in Caine's recent past,"... I was better man. A happier man. Without a care in the world. I didn't join this Legion out of some perverse sense of pride. Not to take the lives of others arbitrary. I joined it because I had a question... And this seemed like the only answer." He stated, finally meeting the elf's eyes again.
Mikana raised an eyebrow, as if asking what this question was. "The question? It was... 'What do I do now?'. I had lost everything, everything I had ever owned or loved, in a flash." he snapped. Mikana tilted her head in wonder. Caine averted his gaze again. He could only look her in the eyes for moments at a time before the vague remembrance and guilt began to eat away at him. Here he was, telling her all of his problems, while she couldn't even voice one of hers... It seemed selfish. But Caine kept talking. Something about her urged him to spill his guts. Perhaps it was the silence she held, the promise that she would never judge or speak down to him because of it...
A few silent moments passed, Caine digging into the ground with his eyes. Then, he finally he began to speak again. "I've began to have dreams again... Pleasant dreams, of a time before all of this blood, all of this hate, of this damned war. A time when I-I had a home and not 'Some Legionary camp'." Caine said, a minuet shake in his voice. No doubt without her voice, Mikana could hear this shake clear as day, and she placed a firm hand on his shoulder. "A happier time, in my small farmstead at the boarder between Jurial and Umbridge," And here it came... The deluge that the Berserker had pent up for years, tearing at him, eating at his soul. He never spoke of this to anyone ever before, but the Elf's silence and innocent nature urged him, begged him... He had to let it out.
It was a pleasant day, early morning, the birds were chattering happily in the trees beside a small cottage. The field next to the cottage was full of blossoming flowers, a good sign of the following yield. Corn stalks were popping up in rows, watermelon vines streaked across one corner, and numerous other crops had set their roots in the fertile land. Small fingers of weeds were just beginning to weave between the crop stalks. A small flower bed was situated near the cottage, the home of numerous colors of daisies, lilies, roses, and other flowers. It was an idyllic setting, far from the blood and war of the present.
Inside the small cottage, in a bed, there were two humans, happily lost in each others company. The raven haired beauty Liera, had her head laid upon Caine's unscarred barreled chest. Both had smiles that reached from ear to ear. It looked as if neither would move... But the days duties called. Caine stirred first and left the bed, putting on his breeches and tunic. Liera stayed in the bed and watched as Caine dressed, a hint of sadness in her eyes, "Do you have to?" She pleaded. "Of course. Otherwise the weeds will swallow the crops... Then we'd have nothing to eat... Unless you have a secret stash in those eyes of yours" He said playfully, finding the hoe in the closet. Liera smiled and laid head back down on the pillow. "Fine, go have fun with your plants... But if you leave that thing out in the open again, you won't have to worry about eating..." She threatened playfully.
North Ridge: Caine's Tent
"I-I was out in the far end of the field," Caine stuttered, "I didn't hear... Them coming until it was too late." Caine said, the shake in his voice fully fleshed out. He was also rocking back and forth slightly. He never spoke of this to anyone before, he hadn't even considered it. However with Mikana, it all came flooding out. "I turned and the Children were on the horizion. I don't know how many.. They were just... There. They... They beat me back to the cottage. When I got close enough. It... It was..." Caine's voice strained and twisted. It sounded dangerously close to breaking... Mikana wrapped her arm around Caine's shoulder. "On fire. The Children must of lit it... I heard... Dammit! I heard her screaming!" Caine said in a flurry of mournful anger.
"I snapped. Broke in half. A beast erupted inside me. I lost everything in that one moment. My home, my Liera... My self. I think I took a swing at the nearest one with the hoe. Planted the blade in the bastard's chest and shattered the haft. I picked up the weapon it dropped... and after that I blacked out in a bloody rage." He said, tears rolling down his face. "I think I killed a few of them... When I came to, I was on the ground bleeding from several places and covered in blood from several races." Caine said, clutching at his chin, as if he himself couldn't believe he was telling the elf this.
"A legion stood over me... No doubt wondering how I survived. They had been following that particular sect of Children... I think they saved my life..." Caine said, wincing... " Course, I took swing at one of them. Got settled down hard and it was explained to me what happened... Didn't listen of course. I was broke... Physically and emotionally. Then... One of them offered me a spot.. The only word I heard was 'Revenge'. Took it up in a heart beat." Caine said, shuddering and shaking from reliving the experience. He stared again into Mikana's eyes, his own filled with tears. "Remember when I told you I had a question? The answer was revenge... Was. I-I just don't know anymore. I suppose survival.. So this doesn't happen to anyone else? Hell I don't know... I just miss her so damn much..." He said, returning his gaze down to the ground, a tear falling into the dirt and disappearing.
They both were deadly silent for minutes. Mikana's arm over Caine's shoulders. The elf seemed to have been deeply touched by the man's story. Something that Caine appreciated completely. Then, the elf hopped off of the cot and took Caine's hand and began to drag the man. Caine quickly wiped his face, erasing all evidence that he had let tears fall before allowing the elf to drag him off.
Caine felt... Relieved. He felt a large burden fall from his chest. He felt... Happier. As Mikana dragged Caine (A strange sight, the smaller elf dragging the huge man across the camp) as she did, Caine wore a smile. A genuine smile, not sardonic, or ironic, but genuine...
Lily still sat in the mess tent as other slowly trickled in. She was slowly getting over the sight of Gilleas, and the fact that others were beginning to talk was helping her take her mind off of what she had seen. The two Dark Elf sisters, Talae and Faera were sitting together with a deep human. Sarish sat with another Lamia with rather... Noticeable assets. Seems everyone had someone else to talk to her... Everyone but her. She winced a bit at the thought... She didn't see many more elves in the Blackguard, and the only one she knew of was Mikana, the mute elf...
Of course, by the time this though bounded through her head, Mikana burst through the tent-flap with the scarred man, now identified as Caine, with a smile on his face. An extremely rare sight... She was positive she had never seen the man smile before. She stood up. This wasn't the place for her. These people in here all had another with them. Caine and Mikana, Talae, Faera, and Beelzes, Sarish and Iriana. She didn't have anyone like that in the tent... So she left. As she walked to the grounds, she finally noticed it was raining...
So she put up her hood so as to keep the rain out of her face. As she neared the training ground, she caught a familiar sight. The Orc Thanaros, who Lily had dubbed 'Ros for the man's nickname. She raised a hand in greeting and called, "Hey! 'Ros!" in a freindly tone. She neared him and noticed that he was practicing... Something. He seemed to be in a focused trance, with a practice dummy in front of him. She kept her distance and watched, curiously. She had heard rumors of Thanaros's battlemind but Lily had never witnessed it.
Then, all of the sudden, the Orc began to assault the dummy. He used speed that was unknown to even the elven Lily, striking the Dummy in many places, coming close to almost obliterating it... Then he switched it up, and began to attack another dummy. The Orc's face was focused and showed no hint of weakness nor distraction... At least, until Lily called.
"Hey! 'Ros! That's amazing!" She called... This seemed to have broke the orc's trance for a moment, as he turned to glance at the elf... At which point the dummy's wooden arm came around and popped him in the back of the head. Lily gasped and ran for the orc, and began to help him hold the back of his head. "Oh my, oh my! I' am so sorry! I-I didn't know! I'm sorry!" She said, clearly distressed. The orc just glanced at her and managed a small laugh...
“Are you some kind of idiot?”
Duran rolled his eyes, as the orc went off on a rant about how incredibly incompetent he was before stomping away and returning with at least some of the supplies he requested. He was surprised he had got that much. Though he was a little disappointed he hadn’t gotten the armor he wanted, he wasn’t shocked. It was a little odd however. One would expect an army whose sole purpose was to eradicate the dragons and their cultist followers to at least have an extra suit of armor lying around. Hopefully the faith put into The Black Guard would be less stingy than the armory allotment.
“One ammunition pouch, iron slugs, 22 rounds.”
Duran winced and reluctantly added, “Can you make those stone? I’m afraid I can’t do much with metal.”
As if somebody was reading Sarish’s mind, another lamia brushed up against him. She was assigned to the Black Guard just like he was, but he had yet to see another lamia in the camp at all. He set up his characteristic smile, taking a slow bite out of the leg he held. An almost awkward silence permeated the table, until Iriana spoke.
"Sooo...I've been here for a while and you're the first of the Kindred besides myself I have laid eyes upon..."
Sarish took another bite, but before he could swallow, Iriana leaned over and set herself on the table. He fought the urge to look down, and stayed on her face like a gentleman.
"Would you like to...?"
Sarish was actually caught off guard for once. Usually he was the one who had to work on his target, not the other way around. Before he realized it, he was choking on the cockatrice leg, and immediately began coughing to clear his throat
“Are you alright?” asked Iriana.
Tears welled up in Sarish’s eyes as he barely regained his breath.
“I…” he coughed. “I was choking. I think I still am. I might need your help with some “mouth-to-mouth.”
He paused and smiled.
“In my tent.”
They stared at each other intently before making great haste to get out of the Mess Hall, unintentionally knocking over the table with their tails as they slithered away.
Duran nearly cringed at the verbal assault he was getting from the orc. He had had just about enough.
“You’re lucky to get that much, you tree-loving pixie-stroking oaken-headed- ” the orc seemed absolutely irate over the simple request of stone instead of metal, before Goma suddenly made her way into the Armory and cut him off. She growled loudly and bore her fangs.
The orc immediately stopped his rant, and disappeared for a moment before returning with a pouch of stone slugs to replace the iron ones and letting out a small growl of his own.
“You’ve got all I can spare. Now get out of here, and take that “thing” with you.” He said, pointing at Goma.
Duran smirked and took a moment to situate his gear, heading back outside to head towards the training area to get a handle on his new weaponry. Goma followed closely behind him, prancing about in the rain.
“We’re going to try something new today, Goma. I need to get a handle on my shape-shifting.”
"He did not...nobody, deserves that." it felt so surreal. She hadn't taken the time to realize how much things hurt until now. Even the time that she had witnessed Wrath being lashed for defending her upon first joining the Legion, insubordination or some such, Sid did not even shed a tear as she sat by the idiot's bedside. "I understand that he is a deserter....I can even understand martial punishment. Hell, even execution," Sid turned her wide-eyed gaze to meet Alistair's, "But I was pretty much raised with a bolt in my hand, nothing but armsmen and grunts for parents. They all knew what a bitch that life could be, and military life was on a whole 'nother level...they made sure I knew that too. I saw friends and brothers killed for war crimes before...
"But that was something else entirely." torture was the first word that came to mind. What really got to the captain though, was not so much the sheer brutality of it, but how nonchalant those passing by seemed. Was this really acceptable? Sid screwed up her face and quickly thought of a change of subject. "You're older than me, at least that's what your dossier said. Born before the dragons came back. Mitchel, one of my old caretakers, described your faction...um...the Savage? Yeah...he described them as relentless and depraved...but i've known orcs, minotaurs and a shitload of harpies, even a couple of lamia. Bedded some too." she smirked. "Besides a couple scars from orcish love bites, I don't really see it. Were you guys different before?"
She was toying with him, that much Wrath was aware of. Being a man in his physical prime and having a body that just happened to react with nightmarians however, shut down most resistance he could have offered. No witty comments came to mind. The urge to deck the snarky bitch was superceded by a sudden need to...well, needless to say, both reactions involved physical contact in one form or another. As Neira circled him, Wrath was under the impression that he was prey backed into a corner. "Well?" her voice reached Wrath only distantly, barely audible over the thudding beat in his chest, "If I were male and you of the blood, you'd probably want to kill me right now. As it is, the feeling should be distinctly more... pleasant, no?"
Wrath swallowed hard and averted his gaze. Without realizing it he had latched onto his seat with such force that the wooden grain of the chair cracked and splintered slightly. In his haste to put space between Neira and himself within the suffocating confines of the tent Wrath practiacally flew from the chair to his bed. He turned around and slid backwards until his back was agains the canvas. From the bed he glared at Neira with an expression caught somewhere between confusion, anger and fear. "P-pleasant is not...the word I would necessarily use to describe it." a lie, though he could not tell how obviously it showed. His skin still burned around the plates which she touched.
Blood was roaring in his ears now and it was a struggle not to move. What was truly frightening was that Wrath felt the need to move closer. With the power of the pendant, it would have been a simple matter to put Neira in her place...but that was inside his desk; Which the dark-skinned nightmarian was placed in front of. Wrath tried to clear his head, but only succeeded in muddling his thoughts. Shit, it's never been this bad before- Damn I want to just bite- Is it stronger now?! I was never near her this long- Burning Dark man just fu- Shut up- I need that charm- I need to get out- But they'll see the plates- Dead gods those curves are so- Can't focus for a spell- Gah! All that in the span of a breath, of which came in shallow and ragged. Wrath stared at the nightmarian from his corner, managing a meek smile.
"You might as well...tell me what it is you see. There's a g-good chance that one, maybe both of us will die in tommorow's...battle..." the words trailed off mid-sentence. Wrath's pupils were widened with the airborn drug Neira was emitting to taunt him. Leave- No! Got to fu- Go away please...
"Are you alright!? I'm so very sorry!" Lily apologized profusely to Thanaros. The orc- no, half-orc it seemed. Lily finally had gotten a good look at the man and he looked to be more... Handsome than a normal orc. A furious fluttering erupted in Lily's stomach. Butterflies? Yes... Butterflies. In the middle of the rain before the storm... A great place to have them. The butterflies felt as if they could carry her off. Indeed, she wished they would, seeing as she had just embarrassed herself in front of the man. Oh, and plus she had inadvertently injured him! Great... Great, things were going swimmingly.
"I-I think I'll leave now... before you get hurt-" She was interrupted by Thanaros. The burly man was still rubbing the back of his head, but a playful smirk was tugging at his lips. "No, no. It's quite too late for that." He said, quite humorously... Or attempted humor, seeing as Lily blushed even furiously and began to shake in the beginnings of a sob. Thanaros realized what he had said and began to backpedal, "No, no! I didn't mean... I meant.. Not like that. I wasn't trying to be..." He said, flubbering. He had realized that the owner of the apologetic and crisp voice was an elf... A rather young elf, but showing the beauty and elegance her people can have. She had... Curves. Her skin was a dusky tint, almost like she was eternally in the shade of a great tree. She was like a wildflower hidden under the canopy of a great forest.
That only made things worse however... He had placed blame on the elf (even if it was her fault), and she seemed to have had her feeling hurt by it. An awkward moment all around!
Lily was the first to speak, "I'm sorry, 'Ros," She reiterated, looking a bit downtrodden. This time Thanaros managed a better word choice, "No, don't be sorry, it's not your fault," A lie, "I should have been paying attention. I should have saw you in my trance," Another lie. The man was too focused on striking the dummies and wouldn't have noticed the elf nothing short of riding a dragon... Though if he made the elf feel better, then the lie was worth it. "What are you doing over here anyway?" The man said, trying to eliminate any negative connotations from his voice.
Lily blushed, yet again... If the blood keeps running to her face like that, she may pass out very soon, "I had to... get away. From... Everything." Lily stammered. She didn't want to reveal her weakness. She didn't want to tell him that she shied away from the execution. She didn't want to tell him she couldn't stand to be in the tent, where everyone had another... Though, the battlemind saw right through her farce. Thanaros had seen her flee from the execution. However, he had no words to comfort her. As a member of the Blackguard, they were bound to see worse than that... If they were captured? They were going to experience worse...
Thanaros looked away from Lily for a moment and stared over the camp, where Gilleas was executed... Then he spoke, "Be strong, Liliana. You are going to need it in the coming days. We all are." He finished, finally meeting the eyes of Lily again.. Those baby blue orbs... Thanaros felt his face redden. Good thing Lily had averted her gaze to her feet.
"I know... It wasn't the blood. It wasn't the execution itself.. It was the fact that he was one of us. He was just thrown away like a busted arrow! Abandoned!" She said, finally meeting the man's eyes again. A knowing look, as if she knew the feeling of being abandoned... Perhaps she had seen herself in Gilleas's place. Tears were rolling down her face, but the rain hid it well. "He was one of us. Yes, he had problems. I bet he even had shortcomings and was different, but what right did that give them to just kill him like that!? Why did they have to abandon me... Him! Him." Lily caught herself, but it was too late. She had already said it...
Thanaros looked at her quizzically. Her? Abandoned... "We- I never would abandon you," Thanaros said. "I... Would hope so." She added, unsure. She seemed.. Weaker, more fragile. Then she threw all caution to the wind and hugged Thanaros. A gesture Thanaros was not expecting in the least... He hesitantly patted the girl's back, clearly unsure what to do in the situation. "Please... Don't leave me." She said in the embrace, "Don't leave me like they did..."
North Ridge: Mess Hall
Mikana had seated Caine at a table in the mess hall as she ran to get two trays, piling as much as she could in one. Clearly that was the Caine's. She came back and placed the tray in front of him and sat her's in front of herself. It was a quiet eat, neither speaking much (Matter-of-fact, Mikana didn't speak at all). Caine enjoyed this elf's company, even though he didn't know a lick about her, except for maybe a fleeting vague familiarity. However, he had shared his past with her, and that alone cemented his trust in the girl. She was the first he had actually told the story to. With that, a fondness for the elf grew in his heart.
The black treacly anger Caine held began to seep away, slowly. Still there were pangs of temper and frustration, but not as serious as before. He could actually be called... Amiable now. However, enough rage and fury burned within himself to last the coming battles. He still held a burning grudge for those who took Liera away from him. He would still fight like an unhinged beast. Yet, this would be complemented by Caine's new fondness for Mikana. He would remain in control for her sake. Not only would he be a raging demon of retribution of what he's lost, but a solid shield and unbreakable force for Mikana as well.
Tranquil Fury. Instead of his anger using him... He would use his anger.
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!