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Gulfim Gragba

The Noble Warrior - "Though nothing will ever be the same, our hearts keep widening."

0 · 425 views · located in Tegea

a character in “Age of Alliance: Serpent's Call”, as played by Yonbibuns

Description

Take a Chance on MeBelieve
La Vie En RoseWarm Shadow
Whole Wide WorldBlack Dirt



"Haven't you ever wondered?"


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INTRODUCTION



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"There are far worse things than death in this world."

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"You know what I was thinking? I want to live. I want to live."

[B A S I C S]
Nicknames: Gull, Gully.
Gender: Female
Age: Twenty-six
Race: Orc
Origin: Capital City of Kyoshel
Voice: Soft like a baby duck's ruff. Uses proper, prim language, and over-enunciates because of her internal, screaming nerves. Sometimes stutters and awkwardly masks it by clearing her throat or repeating herself louder, exasperatedly throwing her arms up as if to say she'd meant to do that. Gulfim has a sweet, pleasant voice for an Orc and tries to compensate by lowering her inflections, though it usually sounds forced. Her speech is gentle, temperate and ambiguous. It often leaves others with the impression that they aren't getting the full story, but has an unexpected depth and timbre which can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with her meek bearing. Clever quips, warm conversations, or obvious sarcastic bantering are dances she's never learned how to properly execute. Cuss words? Never.
Class: Noble Warrior
Offensive/Defensive: Offensive
Magical Affinity: Low




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PHYSICALITY



[A P P E A R A N C E]
Hair: Thick, ink-black
Eyes: Cornflower blue
Complexion: Light green, pastel moss.
Height: 6'2”
Build: Hip-swinging masculine mama; still somewhat feminine.
Weight: 197lbs
Body Markings: No tattoos to speak of. However, Gulfim has an impressive scar spanning from her right shoulder blade to her left hip. It looks like a blade might have sunk in there, but it's difficult to tell and it isn't likely you'll sneak a close look at it as she's ridiculously timid when it comes to stripping any of her clothes off.


[D E S C R I P T I O N]
Muscles, mostly. Gulfim's outward appearance is a direct contradiction to her fumbling doe-eyed personality. She's an awkward daisy in a field of beautiful warriors. She's regularly embarrassed by things, so it isn't uncommon to see a steady bloom of blush spreading across her freckled face and ever-reddening ears. She smiles too much and laughs when she's uncomfortable, even though she might've not understood the joke. Mainly because it's the polite thing to do, and she'd been taught to always be polite. Had she remained silent and averted her eyes, Gulfim might have struck someone as being superficially threatening. Naturally broad shouldered and impressively well-built for an Orc woman; she's composed of thunder thighs made for long distance runs away or towards baddies, solid biceps made for lifting things up and putting them back down and imposing trapezoids to keep satchels from slipping from her shoulders. Those coiled layers of muscle are arranged in such a way that makes it obvious that she's kept some sort of strict regiment in place to soothe her nattered nerves. She's a brick house and a steel post you're bound to run into. She's made up of wide hip-bones, calloused hands, and wrecked knuckles.

Two soft, dewy peepers negate everything you'd originally thought about her. Forget intimidation. Forget impressive physique, forget impressive warrior, because when you're looking at two pieces of pale, pale blue fixated on anything but your own eyes, it's easy to evaluate her insecurities. They're interesting enough on their own, and could cut a picture of frigidly cold. Perhaps, like tundra storms, or a glacial butcher, but no, they're like cotton-puffs on a hot summer day. Robin's eggs and coastal blues. The kind of eyes that remind you of drinking tea and having your hands patted by an elderly woman; almond-shaped, slightly monolidded and framed with thick eyelashes. Earnest eyebrows seem to be perpetually scrunched up, unless she feels like she's in safe company. Plump, cupid-bowed lips; usually pulled into a tight, thin line, if she isn't awkwardly laughing (and internally scolding herself). She has a small, slightly-upturned nose, and ears she finds embarrassingly lengthy. While she dutifully maintains her appearance to prevent future distress, Gulfim's hair is something she actually takes pride in. Inky-black tresses are usually pulled into a variety of top-knots, loose buns and decorated in fashions reserved for honourable warriors.

Extravagant clothes? Fancy silks? Gulfim wouldn't know fashion if it hit her in the face. It's an unusual pastime, and nothing more, in her opinion. Efficiency and comfort trumps any peacocking parading in silk and finery would accomplish. Besides, she wouldn't know what to do with herself. She prefers wearing her armour even when not expecting hostile actions, and only submits, begrudgingly, when someone asks whether or not she's freaking hot in all that steel, what're you doing? Her arsenal of comfortable travelling clothes include a sad, sad assortment of ill-fitting tunics and loose trousers. She moves in her full set of steels as if she's connected to the damn thing. It's an extension of herself, and her people: crafted by Orcs, and handed down the lines. Shaded in dark reds and lacquered black: it comes in many pieces, and in many ways, donning it is as much a ritual as it is to make it.



Moral Alignment LAWFUL | COMPASSIONATE

MENTALITY

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[P E R S O N A L I T Y]
Romantic and well-meaning as well as unusually meddlesome, Gulfim's dandelion-fluff nature is an open struggle with her kinsfolk. Most orcs have already scoffed at her wet-slipper temperament. She's heard it all and more. How she's just not quite right. How she doesn't quite fit the mold of gruff, stiff-lipped warrior. How she might embarrass her family and amount to little. But tender hearts have the habit of beating in the face of adversity, and hers, hummingbird-small as it is, tries to beat hardest of all. She's a wielder of innocence, a star-gazing dream-weaving woman who has one foot in her home, and one out the door. Her desire to accomplish great things, and experience what the world has to offer, is regularly muzzled with her compiled fears of the unknown.

Gulfim is submissive in the face of authority—yes ma’am, no sir, yes sir, I'll be right there, sir. Like a proper soldier should. She's attentive, intuitive, and has a good eye for minute, easily forgotten details, but she still flounders in societal situations. While she's inherently polite, and can swim the seas of etiquette and manners better than most people she's met, she's a freshly-born colt stumbling all over herself in normal conversation, desperately trying to find her place in the world; whether it be in groups or teams or squads. People are puzzling and she's not equipped with the right words to say. Her heart beats too loudly, and they can probably smell her fear. Who's they? Everyone who she's not yet comfortable with. She's meek and unconfident in most instances, because she feels as if she's surrounded by well-received warriors, huffing and chest thumping in the ranks, always seeming to know what they're doing more than she does. Mostly, Gulfim feels like one lost soul drowning in a sea of others.

The quietest people have the loudest minds. Hers is no different in this. While she may stand in resolute silence, fidgeting with her hands and trying very hard to pretend that she's not looking at you, Gulfim's mind is skittering from one thought to the next in rapid succession. When she has enough discipline to reign in her childish questions, they're spluttering out in one massive heap; it's in the scrunch of her eyebrows and the twitch of her lips, begging to be asked. Why? When? How? Where? Why does that work the way it does, and why does this exist anyhow? Her incessant questions does have it's own purpose, besides to satisfy her curiosity. Everything she's heard or been corrected on has been neatly organized in her own personal catalogue of information for later use. And anything you've ever told her before? Hurtful things, warm words and historical annotations. Which actions you used, how your tone sounded. It's all catalogued in her daydreamy head, and sometimes, dishearteningly remembered.

Although large and brawny, Gulfim is tender-hearted and easily cowed and pushed around by others, even if she'd rather have her voice heard. She can be tactless in her choice of words and inadvertently hurt someone's feelings. It stands as proof that she's not just capable of being frank, she's actually quite honest. Friends in need of sincere opinions have no need to turn any further, lest they're searching for sugar-sweet fibs and words made for pacifying upset feelings. In that case, Gulfim can only offer strong shoulders, a helping hand, and open ears. Otherwise, she might make things worse by telling you how it is. Are you family? A close friend? She's undoubtedly and unwaveringly devoted to them. No matter the cause, and no matter what deep, dark secrets she might have to carry. Self-perseverance sits on the back-burner of things she believes is important in her life; she'd gladly take a sword for someone she's friends with, and while she behaves like a skittish little thing... Gulfim finds it far easier to be brave when others are involved. She's sensitive not only in that she keenly observe the moods and attitudes of others, but also in that you have much difficulty coping with ill-will and negativity. She's a natural-born empathetic sponge.

[F E A R S]
Heightened self-consciousness, an ever-consuming physical shame, an apartness, an inability to join in, and self-loathing construct a rickety building of rigid, persistent anxieties, and Gulfim has many and more, predominantly about people and all of their thoughts about her and everything she does, and continues to do. She's terrified of being judged and letting everyone down; of being in the way and not doing her part in the grand scheme of things. She doesn't want to be a burden. She doesn't want to shame her family and friends. She aches in anticipation, quietly guessing at their thoughts. She's not pessimistic about others, but shudders at the thought of being seen as weak and useless, of not fulfilling her duties to the best of her abilities. This prevents her from having as much fun as she should, if any at all. She worries, gnaws and thinks; all the time.

And because of her sheltered background, Gulfim teeters on the edge of crippling dread and timid interest when it comes to other races—y'know, races who aren't pasty-green skinned and rather gregarious, and forthright in nature. Elves and humans are terrifying creatures, in her eyes. She's never truly been exposed to them. Seeing how her father took painstaking measures to prevent her from sullying his vision of her future, in his home and country, it's not difficult to understand why she's so hesitant to encounter them, let alone communicate. From behind her father's elbow, she's seen them in her village, and been curious enough to ask about them. “Big teeth, bad breath, and always angry. Those people hates Orcs, you know. Think we're beasts. It's better if you steer clear of them, Gul.” In retrospect, what he said sounded farfetched enough. New things and all that, Gul shies away from them when they approach. Her somber stares may seem impassive, but she's really just trying to see what you're doing over there.

[Q U I R K S]
  • Incredibly anxious and somewhat afraid of people; awkwardly laughs and smiles; wrings her hands.
  • She takes meticulous care of her armour and finds it offensive when people touches it without her permission.
  • Asks way too many questions because she's sheltered and wants to discover everything the world has to offer.
  • She's generally a wet-willy, soft-spoken pushover with a pension for offering more than she has to give.
  • She's secretly a romantic person, but not in any lewd, gross manner.
  • Surprisingly adept at styling and cutting people's hair because she's had a lot of practice on herself and family members.
  • The only code she struggles with involves courage: “It is true courage to live when it is right to live, and to die only when it is right to die.”
  • "Two for me. Keep up." Gul is surprisingly competitive in nature, and while normally solemn, if a challenge arises, she's fixated on winning and usually steps outside herself when doing so.

[E T H I C | V A L U E S]
Some may think her silly for upholding such adamant principles, but Gulfim stands firm in her beliefs. In order to properly pay homage to her people and honour the one's she's always respected, she promises to always do what she believes is right even when the answer is not readily obvious. She tasks herself with the duty of protecting those who cannot protect themselves. She strives towards the Way of the Warrior—frugality, loyalty, and honour to the death. Treat everyone with respect and practice mercy as well as brutal strength.

[A G E N D A]
Secret agenda? No, no. Nothing honestly. She wants to help people as best she can, perform her duties as well as she's able, and explore the world while maintaining her dignity.


[L I K E S]
    • Soft things— While Gul can be a stickler in serious situations, she's easily goaded by soft things. Things that may be overlooked in passing on their travels, like dandelion fluff or the velvety petals of a plant tickling at her palms. She's not a hoarder, but will pick things up in passing to get a better look and has been known to pocket particularly silky materials. Soft clothes? A silk handkerchief? Particularly smooth coins? It's strange, she knows this.
    • Flowers and the outdoors— Again with the mention of flowers, Gul does enjoy treks in the woods, and nature, respectively. Wind whipping through your hair and whistling past your ears. The soft pitter-patter of rain and how it smells before and afterwards. Sometimes, it feels as if there are too many things to experience all at once.
    • Musicians, bards, tall tales— While she may never admit to this, she's a secret admirer of stories and exaggerated fables. As well as bards and their beautiful voices. If there are any in the area, she will make sure she's posted nearby.
    • Sweat and more sweat— There's an old saying about blood, sweat and tears, and Gulfim abides by those words like an old lumberman hacking down trees. Or training with her blades and lifting heavy things. Unsurprisingly, she enjoys hard work and feeling tired at the end of the day. Should she remain idle, she feels like she's riddled with nerves (more so than usual).
    • Silent, quiet places— The only place her thoughts are truly quiet is when she's in an equally quiet place and while she does not forsake interruptions: silence is golden and she finds it strange how so few misunderstand it.
    • Alcohlor, liquor ahoy— She has a love-hate relationship with booze. It might come to a surprise to those that know her but when she drinks, her fears are lesser. She lets her hair down. On the other hand, she dislikes letting her guard down because she knows she should always be on alert and generally feels guilty when she's having too much fun.

[D I S L I K E S]
    • Undue aggression— Y'know those people who throw hissy fits and toss around chairs and tables for no apparent reason? She dislikes their company.
    • Dishonourable actions— Or dishonour in any sense, because she was raised to believe that those types of things were your foundation. Without that, how are you expected to grow as a person? How are you supposed to get stronger? She's fond of reminding others that there are other ways of going about things.
    • Ugly jokes— Bullying in any flavour can be meted with a fistful of posies. Or tutting words. Either way, Gulfim hates when people maliciously pick on others.
    • Feeling weak— She doesn't want to be seen as someone that's undependable. It's not that she dislikes weakness in others (on the contrary, she usually finds it endearing). She's just overly critical of her own performances, and has stiff-lipped pretences to conceal her flaws.
    • Milk— There was that one time, but she won't get into that ever again.





RATING SYSTEM
[Excellent] - ★★★★★★
[Strong] - ★★★★★☆
[Competent] - ★★★★☆☆
[Average] - ★★★☆☆☆
[Poor] - ★★☆☆☆☆
[Learning] - ★☆☆☆☆☆
[Scrub] - ☆☆☆☆☆☆

You have a limit of 20 stars.




PROWESS


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[N A T U R A L | T A L E N T] Minimum of two, maximum of three.
(See: [url list] for additional racial abilities.)
  • Bearish Strength: [Rating] ★★★★★☆ I'll make a man out of you... While Gul isn't exactly a beard-brushing man, she certainly has the strength of one. She'd never say it's natural, although being an Orc helps and all, but her strength comes from sweaty, continuous training. It doesn't matter where she is, she'll find something heavy to carry and readily offers people assistance.
  • Whale Lungs: [Rating] ★★★☆☆☆ Her endurance, also, is admirable. Also due to extensive training and scrambling up hills to chase her two brothers, while pulling stacks of logs or something of the sorts. The more you run, the further and longer you're able to run. Simple mathematics. Because she's never been exposed to different altitudes, she still struggles to breathe when they're anywhere higher than Kyoshel.
  • Elephant Memory: [Rating] ★★★★☆☆ Remember when I said she can remember a whole lot? Those bushes you just passed twice? She noticed. She may not had said anything but she's noticed and quietly curled her lip. That thing you said you were going to do a week ago? She remembers. Movements you taught her? Catalogued. Words, sentences, and what not? It's there. She's an information hog.

[C L A S S | S K I L L S] Minimum of two, maximum of three.
  • Sword Skills: [Rating] ★★★★☆☆ Again, Gul has been training since she was a wee tyke no bigger than your knee, and it's shown in the careful discipline she displays whenever a sword is dropped into her eager hands. Strange how graceful a big lumbering Orc can seem. She moves as if it were an extension of her body; liquid, fluid, soft as a whisper.
  • Pretzel, please: [Rating] ★★★☆☆☆ No Orc would be complete without knowing how to fight after your weapons been knocked out of your hands, and while she isn't the sort to grapple or wrestle, Gul's hands and fists are weapons all on their own. She specializes in another soft martial arts, mainly made for throwing and curling them into painful positions before they manage to wrap their hands in her hair.
  • Quick X-Sweep: [Rating] ★☆☆☆☆☆ She hasn't exactly mastered this, I mean, at all. In principle, her momentum would carry her but she isn't able to create any precise shapes, so she's put it on the back burner.

[W E A K N E S S E S]
  • What is Magic: Orcs and magic just don't flow. That is to say she's not quite sure what to make of magic and the people attached to them. How does it work? Where does it come from? How does she defend against such things? Fireballs and ice storms and poison palms? It's another world she's yet to vanquish with knowledge and for the time being she's not sure how to combat their many arts. Strike first and strike last.
  • You're too nice, lady: Gul stands by many virtues she perceives as honourable and right. Striking down children or seemingly weak women? No. And when someone begs for mercy and tries to parlay? Of course, she'd give them a chance to back down. While she's not an overly forgiving woman, especially once you've forsaken her good-will, Gul thinks everyone deserves a second chance (unless they're the gross, disgusting pustules of the planet). She struggles to attack those who are unarmed and defenceless. She'd rather throw them a blade, and strike them down fairly. Mindless slaughter is against everything she's learned as a child.
  • Elves, humans: What are those smaller people anyhow? Some have pointed ears, and others have flat ears. They're both considerably shorter than she is. Not exactly huggable. She doesn't treat them like insects, but does treat them like strange baby animals that she isn't sure if she should touch. Do they bite? Why're they telling her strange things?
  • Ooh, shiny: Gul is easily distracted by sounds, smells, and sights. If there's something different in the area or if she hasn't experienced something than her mind lies elsewhere, and it's difficult to pull her from such fancies.
  • Liquor Limit: Y'know those people with incredibly low tolerances? She's one of those.






ARMAMENT


[A R M O R]
Gulfim wears hand-crafted armour passed down through the generations of her family. It has a name, but she refuses to speak it to anyone. It's styled in Orc-fashion, reserved for noble warriors, with it's token flame-shaped brass headboard. The body armour is constructed with iron pieces specifically engineered to enhance the mobility rather than defence ability. The helmet is comprised of thirty-two separate iron plates, each with its own specific proportions. When joined, they result in the perfectly formed kabuto. This suit's body armour is constructed by hand, using multiple iron pieces, beautiful lacings and elaborately crafted chainmail. Aside from the obvious infrastructure, there's added pieces of brightly coloured cloths, intricate detailing and an off-white bow tied around its centre. Underneath, she wears traditional shirt and pants; mostly dark blues and blacks.

[C L O T H I N G]
Ill-fitting clothes—I mean, she hasn't mastered fashion in any sense of the word and isn't quite sure how to function niceties, or silks, or blooming shirts. Instead, if she must take off her armour, Gulfim prefers to wear the traditional clothes underneath and if those aren't an option (due to washing or needing to neatly fold and put it away for later use)... she'll wear comfortable trousers and suffer an old shirt that she swears she's thrown away. Said trousers seem to fit her properly, but the shirt? Oh no. It's a half-shirt of shame. And she's too proud to ask anyone for advice, help or extra clothes.

[I T E M S]
An old leather satchel with many useful things nestled in it's depths. Wrapped herbs and spices made for cooking and dressing particularly nasty wounds. One of her favourite books, and another leather-bound notebook she keeps on hand for notes and thoughts. It's not a diary. She also carries an unusual around of handkerchiefs. Really soft ones.

[T O K E N S]
Besides her lovingly tended armour? Well, fine. She does carry something rather important. A small marble the size of her thumbnail—upon closer inspection, it's actually a beach gemstone. Licked smooth and strikingly blue. A small, seemingly insignificant gift from her father on one of his many excursions, because it reminded him of her eyes.

Now, what can you give to her? She's fond of things that involve dragons or powerful creatures. Generally, any object that signifies power and represents honour and what-not. While she won't admit to being a romantic person, and certainly does not behave like one, Gul has a fascination with womanly things. Romantic books. Oils, perfumes.

[P R I M A R Y | W E A P O N]
Weapon Name: Dandelion
Weapon Type: Bushi O-Katana
Length: 44 3/8 inches
Weight: 3lbs
Origin: Like all things important in Gulfim's family—her armour, her moral codes, and her sword have all been painstakingly passed down through the ages, and this sword is no different. Though it might be the runt of the litter and the better swords given to her older brothers, she still considers this one the best. It's always polished and whetted by hand, she cares for it as if it were an old friend. And it's generously decorated with snarly, open-mawed dragons.

[O T H E R | W E A P O N S]
Weapon Type: Tanto
Length: 13 inches
Weight: 1lbs
Origin: It was presented to her when she graduated in Kyoshel's military for displaying physical prowess and the ability to keep her head in tough situations. It symbolizes good luck and power and natural forces, and it's also decorated with many slithering serpents. This particular blade remains hidden from view.



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BACKGROUND

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[M A R I T A L | S T A T U S]
Single | Terrified Uh, mostly unsure.

[F A M I L Y | T I E S]
{ -100 | 0 | +100 }

    | Sunder | [ 100 ]
Gulfim's father is one of the leading Commander's in the Kyoshel militia. He is much, much more than she could ever put to words. Both a kindred spirit and someone she always wanted to be when she grew up. Even when he was cranky and stern with his teachings, he was who she strove to become. A great warrior and a firm teacher, as well as her main support system.

    | Cilica | [ 90 ]
While not as outwardly impressive as her father or her brothers, she can be just as frightening with her outbursts. She sights somewhere between prim and proper housewife, dutifully tending to their houses needs and crackling like lightning when things do not go the way she'd planned. Gul admits to being frightened of her but they've always been on good terms. Should she need a shoulder to lean on... she is there for all her children.

    | Belfor | [ 50 ]
Belfor was the first son to the Gragba family. He was also the one who absorbed most of the expectations, as well as light. He excelled in everything he undertook, and enlisted before she had. And he was given a much longer leash than the others, partially because he was male and rightful heir to their family. Admitting that she has a tepid grudge against him would be petty. So, she does not.

    | Nunis | [ 90 ]
Thankfully, Gulfim hadn't been the only soft one in the Gragba house. Had he the ability to take up his lute and travel across the land with only his voice to accompany him, he would have. How strange it would have been for an Orc to take up such frivolities. Gul and he have an unspoken bond born of their love of soft things, music and childhood days spent running under their youthful dreams. Nowadays, she isn't sure where he's gone.


[O C C U P A T I O N]
Just another grunt-soldier rising in the ranks of Kyoshel's local militia. She doesn't exactly have as much pull as her family suggests, but she's a known face among them, and has been given responsibility of her own small squadron.


[S O C I A L | R A N K]
Higher than most—for very different reasons, hers being the family she came from.

[O P I N I O N S]
  • Humans: Strange. Very strange people. Much smaller than Orcs. She finds that they appear more fragile than they let on and is both stricken by the urge to hide behind familiar faces, and ask them about their culture. Why are their so many human brothels? What are brothels?
  • Elves: Oh, Elves. She has had a few opportunities to meet them. No face-to-face conversations, but she has seen them skulking around Kyoshel. Peacocking more like. They're also quite strange. She's tempted to pull on their particularly large ears. She's not sure why, but when they're around, she's on edge.
  • Orcs: They signify home and they're the only people she truly feels comfortable with so it's likely that she will pull towards them.
  • Pestilence: She shudders at the thought.
  • The Serpent's Gathering: While she had her initial doubts about them, it's a cause she'd be honoured to stand beside and so, Gul has no qualms about laying her life on the line.

[R E L A T I O N S]
{ -100 | 0 | +100 }

    | O r c B r o | “Bo? Bo. Why does—” [ 90 ]
Insert millions of questions here. Honestly, how he's able to weather them is a mystery. It's stretches far beyond godly patience. Unfortunately enough for him, Bo is the one she generally turns to when she's tormented by questions she has no answers to. Also, he's an Orc. And she's familiar and comfortable with other Orcs. She also has a deep, resolute admiration for him and everything he's done for their people. Because of her father's iron-grip, she regretfully hadn't had much interaction with him growing up. But she always knew his name. He's a fellow upholder of justice, and she's proud to fight by his side. Sometimes, for reasons unbeknownst, he reminds her of her parents.

    | A d r i e l | “Er... him, right.” [ 33 ]
He is strange. As strange as she finds all Elves, in their own rights. He reminds her of brightly coloured birds, strutting and peacocking whenever he has the chance. She finds him a little rude, too. And while she's still hesitant to strike up conversation besides discussing battle strategies, she's curious as to what his culture is like. She's seen him staring at those trees over there, and often wonders.

    | G r e t c h e n | “You know that saying? Some people are made of glass. She... she is not.” [ 5 ]
If there was a more terrifying human on this planet... she wouldn't have to look further than Gretchen and her string of curse words and fist-flying aggression. She's not sure how to handle her at all.

    | T a n e | "An honourable warrior. That much I can tell." [ 65 ]
Perhaps, mostly because he reminds her of her kinsmen. He looks like an Orc and he acts like an Orc... so, her hackles are considerably less raised around him. Besides, anyone who's capable of wielding such a heavy weapon is worthy of great respect. If she's seeking someone to partake in training or lift heavy objects, it is Tane she turns to. Squint her eyes hard enough and she can almost forget that he's human.

    | K i r | "Perhaps, quieter than I. I wish he'd know that it is never too late to do better, and become more than what you believe you are." [ 57 ]
Another human in their midsts, but slightly less so. She feels a certain pull in his direction. Whether it's pity or a strange need to protect, she's not quite sure. She does not know what bandits are, either, and sure he has many tales to tell her, if he'd only share them. From the looks of it, it isn't likely.

    | L a e t y a | "Laetya... I admired her as a girl." [ 70 ]
And she still does, though she's quieter about it. No longer does she drag onto the hem of her shirt or ogle at her from around trees. While she'd been bitter towards her older brother for being everything she was not, Gul had been able to see another female Orc standing toe-to-toe with him. She wanted to be like her. Belfor and Laetya had served on the wall together. She remembered being beside herself, green-eyed with envy. And when she heard about her banishment, she wasn't sure what to make of it. She's still unsure what to make of it, but she's relieved to see her again if not for familiarities sake. And hopes, as much as one can, that she's forgotten how embarrassing she was a young girl.

    | E z r a | "I'm quite fond of his stories... refrain from telling him so." [ 40 ]
So many humans. Strange enough that she's been thrown to the wolves and surrounded by so many things she does not understand. Especially so, Ezra is a formidable foe when it comes to relentlessly assailing her with his tales. And while she doesn't openly seek him out, she does listen. She mostly believes what he says. Probably more than she ought to. Why would someone lie about their conquests? Now, what are brothels, and how many whores did you have?

    | T h e B u l l | "His weapon, his armour. Both suggest strength. But, it's his hair. I wonder, how should I..." [ 35 ]
The Bull. Such a strange nickname. She's often caught staring at him, trying to figure him out. He, too, is human, but does not have fangs, is not a monster, and seems friendly enough. At this point, she's doubting some of what her family told her. She would like him to style her hair in a similar fashion as his own, but can't seem to phrase her request properly. So, staring continues.

    | A r a y e l | "You've had many lovers, haven't you? I... that was rude, wasn't it." [ 25 ]
It's in the way she swaggers her hips and bats her eyes at everyone. She's not sure what she accomplishes with that and she's somewhat curious of her exploits and keeps trying to compare Arayel and Adriel together... and finds them oddly similar, except Arayel is far more approachable.

    | A u r a| "She's... not how I imagined Elves at all. I'd like to count her as a friend. Someday, perhaps." [ 70 ]
While obviously weary of Elves and humans, she believes that she and Aurileith share many qualities. They both yearn for much more than they'd been given. Seeking adventure with like minded individuals would be mutually favourable, right? It helps that Aura embodies the kind of womanly beauty that Gul has imagined since childhood. She can't really help but gawk at her.

    | I l l e r e n| "Loud. He might be endearing if he didn't say cock so much." [ 37 ]
Much like Gretchen, Gulfim isn't sure what to make of Illeren and his feather-fluffing attitude. Even with all of the colourful curse-words, she does find his accent pleasing to the ears, and appreciates the way he fills in silence—allowing her to remain quiet.

    | V a s h a| "There is much I could learn from him." [ 72 ]
Not in any devious way, mind you. The meaning might be misconstrued, but she really only means that he reminds her of books. Full of useful information and ripe with knowledge. Being as curious as she is, she listens to what he says, and respects what he knows. She asks questions, and he answers them: bluntly. He sates her curiosities, and hers are endless.

    | V i s k e| "He is colourful. Nearly as bright as the sun. I do like his tricks. Bo doesn't think—though it wouldn't hurt..." [ 55 ]
Bright spectacles? Magic tricks? Smiles and laughter and gaudiness? She lacks in all these things, but she does love them. With wide-eyed astonishment. She might not admit to finding it more than a little amusing and only laugh when it crackles through her frowns, but Gully enjoys spending time around him. Oblivious as she is, she does not notice Bo's disapproval.

    | G u l f i m| “No one important. I assure you.” [ -10 ]

[B I O | H I S T O R Y]

I'll take the long way 'round, I'll find my own way down. As I should.


Gulfim Gragba was third-born to the Gragba family of noble warriors and chest-pumping Orc patricians residing in the capital city of good old Kyoshel. Not only is she third-born and thus, slightly less important than her two older siblings, Gul was unfortunate enough to be born with lady-parts, and that means she's been sheltered into the mamma-bear wings of her overbearing parents. Their family represented the backbone of the Great Houses. Not quite nobles and possibly closer to guard dogs obediently awaiting commands. Sunder Gragba was a proud Commander of Kyoshel's military and a renown Noble Warrior who carried The Path's teachings as grandly as the club settled across his shoulders. It's one relic that he's yet to part with. It's destined for the rightful heir to the Gragba family and all of their holdings. And her mother? A strict fist when it came to their upbringing and an even shrewder woman when it came to minding their families business, appointments, and decisions. Some whisper that her husband is merely a figurehead, and if you asked Gul, she'd quickly change the subject.

She was an unexpected surprise to both parents. A little, squalling baby girl with bright blue peepers, already snatching up pieces of her environment. It's not unusual for Orc parents to have baby girls. What to do with them afterwards proved difficult. She strayed far too often from the normal given Path and yearned after her older brothers. Belfor and Nunis became her playmates, and then only Nunis after Belfor become angrier and angrier with all of his duties. Too serious for her liking—Nunis was all songs and tall tales, regaling her with fanciful stories. Those were the things she clung to when she could not quite reach her parents expectations. The world was theirs to explore. They saw things much differently. Beauty was everywhere. And while Nunis eventually strayed from his Path for things much softer, Gulfim took his place and began showing interest in rougher arts, in the hopes of making parents, specifically her father, proud.

She grew up fairly well. Nothing particularly grievous happened, nothing that she would have noticed anyhow. She'd been somewhat robbed of experiences. Particularly because of her fathers interference. Hidden from neighbouring Elves and humans alike. If they were doing business with them or travelling through the city, she was shuttered away behind big backs and scowling faces. Later, they might've explained to her exactly what they thought of her. They became big monsters who disliked her existence, and so, she avoided them as if they themselves carried the Pestilence. She still asked questions but as she grew older they became fewer and fewer—what was the point, their answers remained the same, and she was kept busy with all of her lessons. Proper etiquette and manners, swordsmanship and meditation, discipline and the elimination of fear. She excelled where swords were involved and became stronger as she chased at Belfor's back.

Carried with some sort of determined momentum, and many sweaty days bent under the sun, Gulfim Gragba enlisted into Kyoshel's small city-based militia and graduated with honours. There had been whispered rumours, as their always are, that her father had some part in her positioning but she'd break heads if she heard such things. No one was fool enough to say it to her face. Like a child losing it's youthful chubbiness, Gul became more serious. Perhaps, as much as Belfor. Her attention still strayed, but she had learned to reign in her questions like rounding up rascally pups and kept her mouth mostly closed. In return compliance, her parents stopped worrying over her and her own gilded chains were loosened. She could roam the streets to her hearts desire.

And she did. Slowly. As if she'd never felt the grass beneath her feet. The world opened up to her and she shied away. It's light was too bright bright bright and there were things she clearly didn't understand. Far too many questions that had never been answered and no one to answer them. She stumbled through them, coltish and red-faced. Too much of that can destroy a person, y'know. When someone hands you the world, you cup your hands. She let it trickle through her fingers, terrified. Fear was something she'd been told to release, let go. She no longer feared dying, especially if the cause was just. But living. Living was a horror all on its own. An uphill struggle of conversations she had no clue how to start and no idea how to finish. What would she do when she met humans? Elves? The few experiences she had bred a lacklustre, somewhat brash personality that often cultured misunderstandings.

A few years later and Gulfim was granted leadership of her own personal squadron. Made up of a few other trusted companions. People she'd been lucky enough to call friends. How they swam her awkward seas, she still hasn't figured out. They kept her grounded when she was sure she was losing her foothold. They patrolled Kyoshel's streets and cleaned up rabble wherever they could. Everything was going well until she was approached by an unfamiliar face, holding folded parchment with an equally unfamiliar wax-seal.

The Serpent's Gathering


[F L A G S]
Anything mentioning her missing brother and his whereabouts. So, missing Orcs. Also, sparring and muscle-flexing or anything involving shows of strength.

So begins...

Gulfim Gragba's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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The world was much vaster than she had ever imagined. Within the confines of Kyoshel's great wall, it had appeared small and familiar and mostly shielded from whatever lied outside, impregnable to all violations. The further they travelled, the less she felt she understood. In fact, she wasn't sure if she had truly known anything at all. What existed outside of Kyoshel? Mean monsters, toothed and gnarled with ill-intentions. Hunched and glowering from all sides of the neighbouring kingdoms, and here she was, trudging towards their main encampment. A city solely belonging to humans. One that supposedly harboured the vilest of creatures, predisposed to spit in her face upon arrival because they believed her people to be the monsters. Something about misunderstanding the unknown and not being able to explain their culture properly. Strange, how it felt hypocritical.

Two days and nights were spent travelling on the busy main-roads. Gulfim relished nightfall. It was the only time she could wander away from her travelling companion, and escort, in order to investigate the strange foliage they had encountered without appearing foolish. There were soft, three-pronged leaves. Pinched between her fingers. There were flower flutes of varying colours; tall, velvety, and pretty. And sweet-smelling needles that she had swiftly bundled up and stuffed into her satchel. Beyond plants, there were insects she had never encountered before. Crooked stick-like things that made clicking noises whenever she turned her back. At times, the newness became dizzying. These events, small as they were, would not have occurred had it not been for a single, seemingly insignificant letter written to her. Sent by the Serpent's Gathering—whatever that truly meant. On those nights, she would return to camp, gripping the crumpled letter against her armour-clad chest, further dazzled than when they'd begun their journey.

There was so much to see, and too little time.





On the third day, Autumour loomed closer and closer. The closer they came to entering the human city, the harder her heart trumpeted. Gulfim tried to inscribe an expression of nonchalance, tried to will her lips into a timid, unimpressed frown, while her stomach swilled and tossed and turned over with butterflies. Or bile. Bile-butterflies. She wasn't sure which it was, honestly. She smoothed her sweaty hands over the front of her thigh guards and swallowed around the tangle building at her throat. From what she could see, the buildings appeared as if they were all pressed together. An assortment of hedge-mazes, twisted together. Spires, more like. Touching the sky and threatening to crush her with its presence, with its very shadow.

“Just have a little faith. I've been there before.”

The fiery-haired Orc slapped a hand across her back and shot her a comforting, gap-toothed grin. A stark contrast to her full-set of well-maintained steels, leathers and plates, bound together by god-knows-what force of patience... her companion opted for comfortable clothes. Simple, old leathers held on by iron clasps, neatly accentuated with an enormous axe strapped to his bare, tattooed back. Tattoos might have appeared strange on an Orc, had the person viewing them known of their finicky culture, but he looked as if he didn't care. He was everything she was not. Loud, brazen, brave. She was nothing but a repressed roar and someone too big to fit in such a place. Had it not been for his guidance, Gulfim doubted she would have made it far outside of their home. She had agreed to undertake this journey because... she wasn't so sure.

“I'm not worried, I'm not worried at all,” she cleared her throat and sniffled, not quite indignantly. Because he was right. She feared her heartbeat would give her away, clattering against her ribs as it was, and completely ruin her carefully composed veneer of bravery. Like a sick thing she'd built from rickety sticks on their journey, it felt like it was already slipping away. Tumbling into the wake of her boots, leaving deep imprints that marked her as too heavy for these roads.

He sneered and knuckled his crooked nose, eyes twinkling in amusement, “If you say so, boss.”

“I do,” she thumped a fist to her chest and dropped it back to her side. Where should she put them, anyhow? Did it matter where they lied? Why could she not quiet her thoughts? She finally settled it against the pommel of her blade, swinging at her hip. It was a small comfort as they stomped up the wooden slats leading up to the opened gate. She hunched her shoulders and then set them as straight as she could manage. Straight chin, straight back. Not a bloody fool. The gate itself was not like Kyoshel's grand wall, but it was great all the same. What lied inside, particularly. Guarding each side the gate were two men bedecked in gleaming armour, leaning against the adjacent walls—and she might have commented on their impressive plates, if it weren't for the fact that she felt the strangling warmth of unease biting down her spine. Humans.

“Alright. Straight through then, business in the markets,” Nelfin's sing-song voice rumbled to no-one in particular, as he squinted his eyes at the careless, lazy guards. He bumped into Gulfim's shoulder to keep her from freezing in the middle of the bridge. Gawking like a wide-eyed child, half-paralysed with the sickening squelch of terror rumbling in her belly. Instead, she clenched ground her teeth together and plowed forward, behind Nelfin. Her head slowly bowed down, bright eyes focusing on the cobblestones and all of their cracks. Her spine prickled when a loud, cackling snort sounded behind her bunched shoulders.

“Lumbering ugly beasts, those. Seen too many of them lately,” said far too loud, in a leering tone that buried into their backs.

“Is that even a woman?” the other one snickered, breaking into wet, noisy laughter. She heard him slapping a hand to his knee. Metal clanging together. Mocking them. Mocking her. Their voices faded into the background of bustling humans, screaming about cockles and clams and the softest linens you've ever touched. She felt as if she were shrinking into herself, disappearing entirely, even if she currently towered over nearly everyone in this place. "Ugly gits."

“Pay no mind, boss,” Nelfin finally broke their silence, rolling his eyes skyward, “Wha' do they know. Milksops. Weak blighters. Arses.” He grinned again, and she imagined being able to fit one of these buildings in that gap-tooth of his. And she remained silent. What more could be said? There were no venomous words, only a shy, wibbling mouth that could not quite form words to describe how she felt. He stood like a beacon of light to her ramshackle shambles-of-a-ship, drifting into open waters. Filled with treacherous beasts. He led them through what appeared to be a market place, wading through people as if it were the easiest thing in the world. Gulfim followed closely behind and twitched away from errant elbows and arms. Careful to smother her anxieties by nearly stepping on Nelfin's heels, and grumbling apologies under her breath.

And while Gulfim still prickled about their most recent indignity, the city's splendour stole her attention away. Trees that reminded her of sunrises, spiralled up and over the streets. And there, in the heart of the city, lied an enormous clock tower. A solitary finger reaching towards the clouds. Kyoshel had no need for such fancies, such frivolous things. She quietly wished that they did. Merchants cried of their wares and snapped their fingers, clucking and calling at them as they passed, and while she still felt momentarily terrified that they would gnarl hidden-teeth at her, Gulfim ogled their wares, mesmerized. They ducked beneath ornate archways and dipped down twisted alleys. Nelfin occasionally rattled on about something but she was lost, lost in everything there was here. Her head swam.

“And 'ere we are, boss, and this is where we part,” Nelfin tousled a meaty paw through his hair and sucked at his teeth, shaking his head, “Ah, ah. Don't say a word. May we meet again.” He clapped a hand on her shoulder and swiftly turned her around, pushing her in the general direction of an accumulation of people. A gaggle, a group, an assortment of individuals that would terrify and mystify her. She barely managed to chortle out the same response. An old Orc send-off. She would see him again, she was sure of it. But, her tongue felt tangled in her throat and she only managed a soft squeak as he disappeared down the alley they'd come from. And then, she was alone. Not quite alone. She took another whittling breath and stepped towards the assembled group. Good, smooth, be steady. She strained her ears for instruction, while her hands absently tightened straps, smoothed down non-existent crinkles in her armour.

She listened, quietly. As much as she wanted to cross her arms over her chest she couldn't seem to do it. Her gazed lingered on Bo, because familiarity made her feel grounded, but it drifted towards Adriel, the elf-man with strange hair and an outward, undampened flare, who did most of the talking. His words felt grand. Grand like the city she'd wandered into, and while he did not seem to think highly of them, she felt something flutter. Skin-deep, heart-deep. A calling? Perhaps, perhaps not. Her lips tugged into an uncomfortable frown. If she could have somehow assembled her expression into something similar to the small, blond woman lingering at her left elbow, she would have. Unfortunately, she could not. She wished she'd worn her helmet. It remained tucked into her satchel. Her hand squirmed into it and touched the bundle of needles she'd previously collected, seeking comfort.

When another male-elf, snowy-haired and foul-mouthed, called out Adriel on his interesting choice of hairstyles, Gulfim's arm jerked out of her satchel and showered their feet with honey-scented needles. She nearly backed into a heavily armoured man, barely brushing steel plates, before recoiling back to where she'd been standing before, crushing the needles she'd dropped underfoot. She stood, ram-rod straight, with an odd discolouration of ruby blooming across her freckled cheeks. Stupid, stupid. She willed transparency. Invisibility. Hope they focused on the words cock and hair.

Lumbering beast.

(Gulfim slightly disapproves in herself: -10 Approval)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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The early morning sun filtered into the room in which Ezra lay soundly asleep through a window which overlooked the merchant district and provided a grand view of the clocktower on sunny mornings. He stirred, the sunlight hitting his face causing him to turn away and cover his head with the blanket. And then it hit him.

"Shit." Ezra growled into the soft fabric as he buried his head in the pillow. "Today is the meeting."

"Are you talking to me?" The young(at least, he though she was young) elven girl perked her head up through the covers. Ezra had no idea how she was so energetic at this hour. The sun was just rising, not past eight at the latest, and they had spent a considerable amount of time entertaining one another the night before. Ezra sat up, still somewhat groggy.

"Ehh no. Sorry if I woke you, Elyria." A look of confused anger came across her face, but Ezra was too tired to comprehend why. Before he could realize his mistake, a second elven girl sat up, identical to her twin sister and with the same look of confused anger.

"I'm Elyria! She's Myurial!" Ezra had completely forgotten that he had bedded both of the elven mercenaries he had met in the tavern the night before, and now they were angry. Again to slow to formulate a response, the two elves slapped him across both cheeks in unison before rising, angrily collecting their clothes, and storming out. If the slapping had not completely awoken Ezra, the sight of the two petite elves' bare asses in the morning sun certainly did. He took the time to appreciate the view and, just as the twins were leaving the room, Myurial glanced back and gave Ezra a sly wink. Or was it Elyria?

The remainder of Ezra's morning was uneventful. He rose, performed his morning exercise routine, bathed, and ate his breakfast in solitude, occasionally humming a tune, but otherwise remaining silent. He had packed most of his things the night before, and so only had to take the time to fasten his armor and ensure His Blade was shiny and sharp. Donning his own armor without a squire was something he learned to do in his youth, and although he certainly could hire some boy to be his squire, he preferred to do it himself. When he had finished, he took to the mirror, admiring himself as much as checking for potential flaws in his armor. Finding none(in his armor or himself), he quickly snapped his fingers near his forehead to renew the charm on his hair, ensuring that it would remain perfectly styled unless subjected to serious physical stress, or worse, some sort of bad hair hex. The gall!

Finally finished, he departed, locking the door to his townhouse behind him. Locke and Lynn, his favored housekeepers from Rhiosia, would be arriving the following morning to look after the place for him, so he was able to put his mind at ease concerning the well-being of his favorite residence and march down into the seedier parts of town for this meeting. A week ago, he was in Byda, being told that traces of...Trace had popped up in a village claimed by the pestilence. He doubted anyone had signed up to the gather faster than he did when he heard that, and he wasted no time getting to Autumour to prepare.

Ezra spent his walk in reflection. This was his chance, not only to maybe find Trace and get answers, but also to get out of this rut he had been in since she left. Well, betrayed him. Small details. Was it foolish to willingly try something insane in order to fight the pestilence? Definitely. But since when were real heroics anything but foolish and insane? He found his way to the Ebony bridge and slipped in with the gathering crowd. Wide awake now, Ezra was sizing up everyone here. If this was going to be a competition, he was going to win, and if it wasn't, at least he got to look at some cute asses.

Speaking of cute asses, he spied a familiar one across the crowd, belonging to a lady orc he affectionately called Cutie. Laetya and Ezra had spent some time together a few years back, and as much as he wanted to hug her from behind(and possibly get punched in the process), the foppish elf was speaking to the crowd and he had no plans on getting kicked out for speaking out of turn. He continued to look around the crowd. There certainly were a couple of lookers here, including a little blonde that snuck in quietly as the elf spoke.

Distracted by the blonde, Ezra was slow to react to the commotion going on to his left. Another elf, clearly one a bit detached from mainstream elven culture, shouted out for all to hear that Adriel's hair definitely looked like a cock. From Ezra, this elicited a noticeable smirk, but a nearby orc lady stumbled about awkwardly, one of the other men standing by him nearly jumped to the moon, and everyone else just sort of stood around in an embarrassing silence, followed by a the white-haired elf's cough and what Ezra expected was the closest thing to an apology that the elf would ever say in his entire life.

It was still awkwardly silent, and Ezra hated it, and nobody was doing a thing about it, so he cracked up laughing. It was loud and obnoxious and anyone who hadn't noticed him yet certainly did now.

"Ha! Oh we are gonna have a blast saving the whole damn world if the first five minutes are anything to go by!" Ezra re-positioned himself by the white-haired elf and wrapped his arm around the man's shoulder in a friendly fashion. "Ezra Bravesteel. Here I thought this whole affair was going to be nothing but grim conversations and dour moods. Glad to see I'm not the only one with a sense of humor."

(Ezra greatly approves of Illeren's humor: +35 Approval)
(Ezra is slightly amused by Gulfim's awkwardness: +5 Approval)
(Ezra slightly disapproves of Adriel's general demeanor: -5 Approval)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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The Bull


Six came like an arrow. He didn’t remember falling asleep on his mat, but he remembered being woken up by his commanding officer who was yelling at him to prepare to go into the city to join the Gathering.

Seven was molasses. Slow, rigid movements of sleepy grooming. The bar of soap fell into the river a few times before he woke up enough to realize he needed to grip the damned thing in order for it to stop falling out of his hands.

Eight was an adrenaline rush. He was awake now. He memorized the map and paths to get to Autumour the night before. He was told if he went by foot, it would take an hour. Berlioz knew he could do it in half that time. He put one foot in front of the other, and like a geared-up locomotive from hell, he slowly began his famous charge.




Berlioz skidded to a halt when he came to the bridge, allowing his body to plop down on the ground from his poor attempt at breaking in order to settle his beating heart.

Fatigue played a part, but the real reason behind his cardiac tremors was the power trip he was trying to calm down from. When he got to the more crowded parts of Autumour, he believed he’d have to slow down in order to get through the horde of people crowded around the center of the market. But before he could open his mouth to shout an ‘Excuse me!’, people were tuned in to his oncoming presence like paranoid cats, and jumped out of his way. The path cleared for him as if he was some kind of monster to be avoided, filling Berlioz with ugly vanity. He felt guilty for loving that so much, loving how terrified people looked when his legs left behind a foreboding gust that could knock them back if they didn’t move far enough from his course. He never really ran like that outside of his recent training, and from how his ego swelled up, he made the decision to reserve his charge for battle to maintain his level-headedness.

"Right.”


Berlioz reassured himself as he got back on his feet, dusting off his spandex shorts and putting his legs in motion again. He joined the group of men and women standing in front of an elf preparing to deliver a speech, almost ready to listen until he felt a sudden weight on his left shoulder.

“Kirk!” The eagle named Kirikou chirped loudly into Berlioz’s ear, as if the human needed to be alerted to his presence, since his sharp talons digging into his shoulder wasn’t enough.

Berlioz took the sack that was hanging around Kiri’s body, eager to see what Karaba was going to surprise him with this time. As the elf continued speaking, Berlioz took special care in being as quiet as possible when he rummaged through the sack. His eyes first saw a rolled up napkin handling some type of silverware, but quickly moved it aside to inspect the container that it was rested above. He pulled it out to see the clear part that the wooden lid hid from his curious gaze and his heart almost skipped a beat. Banana bread.

As if he was afraid to taint the purity of such a dessert by going too fast, Berlioz slowly opened the lid of the container, releasing an imagined golden light that popped up from the perfect bread and a powerful aroma of mushed-up bananas. Intensified from being trapped in the container while being heated up by the sun’s rays, the smell of bananas offended, or entranced, the nostrils of people within a two-foot radius the moment he opened the container and spread evenly every second afterwards.

Too excited to even think twice about his actions, Berlioz was but a second away from slamming his face into the bread in order to bask in it’s essence and devour it at the same time. But Kirikou squawked loudly into his ear again, stopping Berlioz from living out his life’s dream. Behaving a little too intelligent for Berlioz’s liking, Kirikou grabbed the napkin from the sack with his beak and rammed it into Berlioz’s cheek.

Berlioz thought long and hard about all the reasons why he shouldn’t cook the eagle already. He knew his emotions were over the top because banana bread was involved, but Kirikou acted too much like his owner. And Berlioz didn’t love the bird nearly as much as his sister for him to let it slide. But he restrained himself from acting on his impulses, and snatched the napkin from Kiri’s beak, unraveling it to reveal a spoon.

“I guess this would be the smarter thing to do than slamming my face into it.” Berlioz muttered under his breath. He took a bite of the soft, fruit and crumb-filled bread, died and went to heaven, then was reborn again to continue listening to the elf in front of him.

By the looks he was giving the crowd, the elf wasn’t too happy to see them. But by the good grace of banana bread, Berlioz couldn’t muster up the desire to care. He didn’t speak in a lively enough manner to wake Berlioz up from his food-induced stupor, and only some words stuck out to him. Like test,Serpent’s Gathering, and dead men. And cock.

Wait, what?

"‘is ‘air looks like a fookin rooster.”

Berlioz turned his attention to the voice at the far end of the crowd and back again at the elf delivering the speech. His hair did look like a rooster's, but none-the-less cool. Realizing he wasn’t taking the whole ordeal seriously, Berlioz put away the container of bread and focused more on what was being said.

Another voice had joined in on the far end of the group, this time it was another male laughing loudly, stirring up the silence and once again getting Berlioz’s attention. He couldn’t really hear what was being said afterwards but it was nice that everyone seemed to be getting along so far. Not wanting to attract any attention from the other end of the crowd, Berlioz stood quietly, waiting for the next move to be made.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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“No, of course not. He won’t untie me so I can pull up my hood and keep the rain from drenching me.” A dramatic sigh followed. “And I’m not allowed to bathe, oh no! Too dangerous. I’ve even been unarmed, can you believe it?” The only sign that her guard knew she was there was the glance he gave her and the shake of his head. “And now he shakes his head because he thinks I’m crazy.” Arayel looked at the guard with all her sudden fury. “Well if you were trapped in a cold cell, forbidden to speak or see anyone you’d go A LITTLE INSANE AS WELL!”

“What’s she yelling for?” One said to the other and ate a piece of chicken. He looked at his friend and smirked, shaking his head. It was obvious that they weren’t new to this kind of business. They knew how to keep their prisoners in line. Well, most of them. They weren’t bothered the second one of them opened their mouth.

There was one guard constantly walking among the prisoners, checking on them. Three more sat by the fire and then there were two out as sentries. Six guards, yes, she had already done the math. It wasn’t worth killing them. Instead, Arayel had endured her journey so far.

“We. Don’t. Speak. Elvish!”

Maybe she was wearing them down? He did seem annoyed, but not overly so and he did nothing but shake his head yet again and sigh. There was but one Elvish guard among them, but he was one of the sentries. The rest were human. It had not occurred to her that she had been speaking her own tongue. Before they set out on their journey to Autumour, she had been confined to a damp and dark cell in Rielorn. Arayel and solitary confinement didn’t go well together. The only social interaction she had was when they fed her. Little more than a week of that was enough for Arayel to start talking to the shadows and it hadn’t warn off yet, even though she was under open skies now. The guards that kept them weren’t very talkative. Within the hour they were all fed and were allowed to rest. It took a while, but eventually she slipped into an uneasy sleep.

When she closed her eyes the previous night they had been quite close to the city, for she awoke under a roof with the sun peeking in through the shutters. Tangled in the covers she found herself but quickly discovered that she was not alone. Before turning around she looked around the room. Her belongings were there. As in, her sword and the wristblade, her armor and so on. It was slowly coming back to her now and she bared her teeth in a wide grin as she turned around. I knew he couldn’t resist! She thought, looking at the elf guard’s sleeping form. Out of all of them he had been the one her charms would most likely work on. Arayel still smirked as she stretched, feeling positively reinvigorated. This was just what she needed. Not bothering to cover herself, she stood from the bed and proceeded with getting dressed. Her latest victim stirred and opened his eyes as she was squeezing into her pants. First he looked confused, then he seemed to realize what had happened, then it was shock and horror, then more confusion and then a satisfied smile. She tilted her head and looked at him.

“Surprised I didn’t kill you?”

“Well… They did tell me you were dangerous.” He said (his name escaped her). Honestly, she didn’t care much. Arayel wanted one thing from him and boy did she have it.

She giggled an innocent giggle and shook her head, moved over to the bed and ran a finger over his lips and down his chest.

“No,” Arayel purred. “I behaved, didn’t I?”

The man shrugged. “Somewhat.” He said, seemingly as if he meant it.

“I was a good girl.” She insisted and sighed, standing up. There was still time for breakfast before she had to go to the Serpent’s Gathering. That was fine by her, frankly, she was bored with her plaything. Arayel put the rest of her clothes on, tied the red sash around her waist and brushed her hair. The finishing touch was a quick adjustment of her chest.

“You’ll never see me again, I suppose.” She stood for a moment and bit the inside of her cheek, thinking. Then she headed for the door.

It wasn’t sad. Her friend had asked for seconds, so to speak, but she had denied him. Too boring. Perhaps because they had been at it all night. Either way, she was glad to be rid of him. When they had first taken her from Rielorn, the guards had been told that she was not to be listened to, she was to remain unarmed until she came to Autumour and they couldn’t fall for her advances. They didn’t listen, she had just received her weapons now and as to that last thing… Well…
The establishment in which she found herself was not too bad. Well, compared to some of the places she had been. It wasn’t in the good end of town, but it wasn’t flowing with rats and dead bodies. That was always nice. There were two guards waiting for her. One of them handed a few coins to the other when they saw her coming down.

“…told you she fucked him.”

Ignoring that, she decided to eat her breakfast and get out of there, away from guards. During her journey to Autumour she had come to accept that this she had to do to be able to go home and continue her life. While this wasn’t her favorite thing, it was necessary. Besides, she was off to a good start already.

Before she could finish her meal, she was seized by the elbows by her two escorts and pushed out the door. They were being paid to deliver her all the way to the Serpent’s Gathering. Thankfully, not in chains. The way there was not so bad. A lot of people but it was a big city.

“How’s the view back there?” Arayel called over her shoulder and smirked. She heard a chuckle.
“I have to look good, fellas, come on.” In fact, she meant that. If the rest of the Gathering knew that she had come from a jail cell… Well, it would be easier if she looked attractive and pretty. Still, they didn’t answer her. They continued in silence for a while, but eventually came to the Ebony Bridge. That had to be the Ebony Bridge.
“Boys, it’s right down there. Can I please go the rest of the way on my own?” Arayel said as she turned around, hands on her hips. The two exchanged looks and then nodded, though obviously reluctant.
“Good. Now, how’s the hair?” She continued. “Yeah? Skin clean? No dirt?” They shook their heads. “Tits?” One of them nodded though the other slapped him. She cast a glance down over herself and was satisfied after one final adjustment of her chest. There was a brief pause before she turned on her heel, gripped the strap of her rucksack and headed for the gathering.

A COCK! ‘is ‘air looks like a cock!

Arayel had managed to rather discretely merge with those who had already gathered there. Unlike the elf shouting about cock, she had no desire to make an entrance . Her eyes were drawn from her kinsman who had introduced himself as Adriel to another one, white haired and loud. Thought she found it amusing, she wasn’t so sure Adriel did. In fact, she wasn’t sure he found anything remotely funny. Apparently, the commotion startled an orc so much she nearly collided with the biggest man she had ever seen (whom she stood behind and to the right). The snow-haired elf fired off something the could possibly resemble an excuse, the orc lady tried to be invisible and a human started laughing. The butterflies in her stomach were in an uproar, her heart was beating fast and she was giddy to study these people and get to know them. So awkward, so funny, boisterous. So many to talk to.

“This should be interesting.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel

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#, as written by Ezarael
Laetya

It had been hours since her bathwater had been drawn. The water itself was tepid and discolored and the reflection looking back at her from tub was what one would expect from a tarnished gilded cup. She didn’t care, this was the first proper goddamn bath she had drawn in months and Laetya Kyuutae was going to enjoy every second possible. Scrub a little here, rinse a little there, and . . . The orc gulped in a mouthful of air with her powerful lungs and, clasping both eyelids shut, proceeded to dunk her head, face first, into the water one more time. Several seconds passed before her powerful frame whipped back up, foamy bathwater spraying all over her room. She relaxed once more, falling back against the frame of the tub with a slapping splat and kicking her feet a few times due to the sheer ecstasy derived from this simple activity.

A rather generous smirk spread across her lips as the decanter of Bydan Firewater sitting to her left caught her attention, she had almost forgotten she had been drinking from it by now, not a good sign. She reached over with her right hand, calloused from years of swinging around her Qundo, and tipped the glass bottle up to her lips after snatching it from the table. Heat on her lips, sweet smokiness on her tongue, cool fire running down her throat, the mere thought of Firewater sent a shiver down her spine, she couldn’t wait for that sweet liquid to start flowing. But wait she did. And wait. Until finally the horrid reality of the situation dawned upon her. She was out of liquor.

Of course, there wasn’t much to do now but be content with what she had so far, dry off, and lay down. The Gathering would be waiting at the Ebony Bridge the next day and she wanted to be there on time, and right now the orcish outcast wouldn’t be regretting her life in the morning . . . well not too much anyhow. Besides, she didn’t want to risk the chance of having to smash some fool’s jaw downstairs for running his mouth about orcs, nor did she care to take her chances explaining why she broke some fellow’s arm for grabbing her ass. No no, none of that would do tonight. Well, she would have had an uneventful night had she followed this line of reasoning, quite expectedly though the lady orc wanted to enjoy her night just a bit more.



A sluggish headache had greeted Laetya as the first rays of sunlight crept through the window at dawn. While she had always tended towards waking early, even the slightest bit of over drinking would keep the orc from a full night’s rest, she just happened to be lucky enough this time not to take up earlier and find herself in the same predicament. She half lurched, half rolled over to the jug of water on the dresser next to her bed, one she had grabbed last night for just this occasion, and set about practically inhaling the entirety of its contents in one fell swoop. Before long the listless orc finally found the willpower to throw herself out of bed. ”Ok it’s time to get ready, Laetya.” Sometimes you just need that extra little nudge in the morning.

Everything from there went fairly typical. A morning stretch and exercise routine followed by breakfast, afterwards leading into a fervent drawing session from her windowsill. Despite missing the chance to sketch the dawn light scenery her vantage of the city caught the tail edge of the morning sun’s golden ascension through the skies. People flitted about back and forth throughout the street, carrying on all manner of business. Quaint puffs of smokes trickled forth from baker’s chimneys, the splish-splashing of buckets being tossed down a nearby well and hauled about by children rang throughout the street, and a town crier stood about shouting out the day’s news. All in all she felt that her current work was a wonderful depiction of Autumnor . . . of course she decided to leave out any depiction of the Silver Knights who relentlessly clanked about through the city.

Before too long though, Laetya closed her sketch book, putting it safely at the bottom of her rucksack, and prepared herself to head out to the Ebony Bridge, not far from where she currently stood. Her Qundo soundly pinged and panged against the paved roads as she strode towards the Gathering. It was probably some combination of her weapon and general demeanor that kept most of the hecklers found in this city at bay, and frankly speaking she didn’t want to waste time nor energy before the meeting. Then she saw it, the Ebony Bridge and the Gathering, or at least what she assumed was the Gathering.

Not one of the first, but not one of the last Laetya found herself closer to the front of the assembling crowd than the rear. A wide grin spread across her face when she noticed the familiar face standing before the crowd one Higoht Ezengbo, a distant relative she hadn’t seen since her banishment from Kyoshel some nine years prior. ”Well, this should be fun,” she mumbled quietly to herself, only slightly joking as she hoped he wouldn’t try and lecture her about what she was wearing. She knew he would. The briefest of waves, a mere flick of her thumb and first two fingers, was made to signal she noticed him from the crowd as his eyes passed over her general direction.

The peacock introduced himself and, in a typical elven fashion, proceeded to imply his superiority with every word that escaped his mouth. So much for the fun part. Then things started proceeding somewhat more quickly, the elf talking about a test and Higoht wanting introductions, and THEN the most curious part of her day so far. Some fellow to her right began calling the elf, Adriel, a rooster. Hmm . . . well he has a point. Despite this outburst, which very much coincided with her first impression of Adriel in some fashion, the Reaper attempted to keep from smirking at the, what turned out to be another elf’s, insistence to keep to what he said.

That’s when she lost it. She was trying to keep a straight face as soldiers should, but the circumstances were too great. There was a clattering of armored bodies swiping across one another and a shout out from an all too familiar voice, which rather surprised her considering the fool hadn’t attempted to grab her ass thus far. When she turned around there it was little Gulfim Gragba, a close friend that was almost like a little sister, embarrassed beyond all belief and blushing to boot, no different that she was all those years ago as a child. Not much farther away was one Ezra Bravesteel, an old travelling companion and the last human she would never tell anyone she might have slept with, clasping who could only be the man who equated Adriel with a rooster. She chuckled to herself quietly, admiring what seemed to be a very fascinating and rapidly deteriorating situation.

Laetya then scooted herself on over towards the traumatized Gulfim, tossing her left arm over the younger girl's shoulders when she got close to her. "Still know how to make an entrance don't ya, Gully?" She then tossed a big wink over to Easy after finally making eye contact with him."No offense Mr. Bossman, but I think it's best if we make our way out to the Quarry before anyone else decides to contribute to this conversation."

(Laetya approves of Higoht: +4 approval)

(Laetya disapproves of Adriel for being a stuck-up peacock: -5 approval)

(Laetya approves of Ezra for being himself: +2 approval)

(Laetya approves of Gulfim for still being adorable: +6 approval)

(Laetya approves of Illeren for calling out Adriel’s hair: +1 approval)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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#, as written by Jäger
Image


“Is he dead?”
“I don’t know man, but he’s so weeirrd. He’s been sitting there since this morning.”
“And he still hasn’t moved at all?”
“Nope. He hasn’t blinked either.”

Two human boys stood a fair distance from a black-haired elf under an oak tree. Ants were roaming about in their pants as they shifted from foot to foot, half-hiding behind a wagon.

“Do you think we should go get someone?”
“Well, shouldn’t we make sure he’s actually in trouble first?”

They turned to face each other, neither one wanting to go anywhere near him.

“But what if he’s one of those no good elves like ma talks about? He might be dangerous.”
“Yeah, but he’s sitting in our backyard. Ma’s gonna have to deal with him anyway.”

Vasha tried to block out the sound of the vermin that hadn’t left him alone since this morning. It was critical that he focus; a street rat stole from him the day before and he was determined to get his satchel back. Following the directions of a few Silver Knights, the Market District was supposedly the thief’s most likely home. And his current spot was the only vantage point. Still no sight of the brat. Damn fucking kids were making too much noise.

“You go.”
“No, you go.”
“I don’t feel like it.”
“Well I don’t feel like it either.”

Vasha narrowed his eyes, scanning the alleys. He was getting impatient. Enduring children, especially these squabbling mice, was progressively eating into his brain’s fortitude. Suddenly, a familiar mop of hair bobbed into view. That little fuck. He’s already making off with more coin purses. Vasha had to admire his talent, but now was no time for learning – the Serpent’s Gathering started in half an hour. Time to move.

His joints complained as he stood, bones cracking against one another from the sudden movement. A yelp came from his stalkers that, to Vasha’s extreme vexation, alerted the pickpocket.

“You little shits!” He yelled to all three and after a brief snarl at the two boys (causing one of them to fall over), he barreled out into the street. People were everywhere; blocking his path, obscuring his vision. Vasha barely saw the brat’s brown ruffled hair dart into the same alley it had come out of. Weaving through the crowd deftly, Vasha reached the other side ridiculously fast – the thief stood no chance. Worried that the brat might have a foxhole, he quickly rounded the corner into the alley.

“It’s no use. I know where that empties out.” The thief stopped dead in his tracks, still miles away from his backdoor exit. Vasha was not but 10 feet from his back. Still considering escape, his little legs twitched with adrenaline. “Quiet those impulses boy, you know I could grab you before you took 2 steps.” The thief took one last wild look at freedom, breathed in sharply, and then sat down in a puff. Vasha approached him slowly, crouching down in front of his fa… wait, her face? Huh.

“Give me back my satchel.”
“There’s no point, you’ll just rat me out to the soldiers anyway.” Definitely a girl. Always so cynical.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be such a rat in the first place, hmm?” She sat dejected, lower lip plumped out in defiance. “Look, girl. I can’t get my satchel back without you. How bout we make a deal, my satchel for your freedom.” Her eyes sparkled a little, looking up at him.
“You’d set me free?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“But-“
“I don’t care about the stealing. Only that you stole from me.She studied him long and hard but then abruptly stood up and ran behind a dumpster. She came back with his satchel, offered like an olive branch. “Grow up fast, brat.”

“I will, sir!” And she was gone, off to prey on the oblivious. Vasha made a derisive click with his tongue and checked the clock tower. Ten minutes left. Just barely enough time. Making his way towards Ebony Bridge, Vasha remembered how difficult it was to get directions – it seemed like no one here had seen an elf before, avoiding him like that. No matter, a guard gave him directions in the end. Unwrapping his satchel, Vasha held his mother’s letters gingerly, rubbing them between his fingers. The silver he had brought with him was gone, but he didn’t much care. Vasha checked to make sure all letters were accounted for and wrapped them back up, placing the satchel deep within his knapsack; he wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.

Ebony Bridge was within eyesight now, a collection of all shapes and sizes listening to some elf give a speech. Vasha caught the back-end of it as he approached.

“--I’m afraid if I let my colleague speak, he will coddle you all until you’re unfit for any kind of military service. We don’t need to know the names of dead men.” What an inspiration you are. Deciding instantly that the self-proclaimed elf-leader was not worth his attention, Vasha observed what other walks of life he would be working with. There was a large orc behind the pompous elf, smiling about nothing in particular, several female orcs, a handful of elves, and an assortment of various humans. The most impressive of the bunch was a steel man whose bald head glinted from the sun behind them. Vasha heard something about a human quarry and what sounded to be a test. Good, I was getting bored.

“A COCK! 'is ‘air looks like a cock!” Came a voice from deeper within the overhang. Vasha spotted a white haired imbecile boiling with childish energy. Oh god, he’s an elf? What village bred such filth? Though their haughty leader was the picture of a proud rooster. Some pretty boy aligned himself with the white-haired gnat, his guffaw almost as annoying as the latter’s outburst. One of the she-orcs dropped something. Vasha caught a sniff of it - why would she have spruce needles? The other she-orc suggested leaving and then a body hit the ground, an animalistic-looking blonde smiling over the crumpled body of rags.

What in the world is going on?




Vasha greatly disapproves of Illeren's general attitude: -20
Vasha slightly approves of Illeren's truths: +5
Vasha slightly approves of Gulfim's taste in herbs: +3
Vasha slightly disapproves of Adriel's ego: -5
Vasha disapproves of Ezra's gusto: -12

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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Tane Solberg


Now that their apparent leader's speech had come to a close, a brief moment of silence fell over the company. So brief. In fact it lasted only about five seconds before a strange elf shouted for all to hear. "A COCK! ‘is ‘air looks like a cock!"
Tane frowned in thought, his massive brow furrowing nearly audibly. A cock... does he mean a rooster? Oh yes. I see it now! In fact as far as Tane was concerned, the elf was quite right, though he would refrain from saying so quite as loudly. It seems that this proclamation was to loud for one of their companions, and this was somewhat shocking to him, an orcish woman taller than even himself seemed startled by the sudden outburst, nearly stumbling into him as she dropped a handful of spruce needles about the ground, stepping on quite a few. The gentle yet sharp scent of honey wafted up to his nose, and he was all to happy to take a great whiff.

He starred up through the open window of the abbey, the spring breeze bringing with it the scent of Father Abraham's garden. Of allspice, fresh herbs an-

Tane shook his head, bringing his mind back to the present. This was not the best time for reminiscing his days as a scribe in the abbey. The orc woman was staring at the ground and blushing a deep shade of red, which looked rather odd on her green skin. Tane couldn't help but smile, and before he even knew what he was doing he was on one knee, gathering up the spruce needles. Behind him he heard a voice, a woman's voice and nearly a whisper at that. “This should be interesting.” At that, Tane couldn't help but let out a chuckle, which could be likened to the rumbling of some deep sea earthquake, and straightened, turning his head to look at the woman behind him. His grin split his face in two. "I certainly hope so! So much more fun that way isn't it?" He turned back to the orc woman from before, only to find a second orc woman, who was also taller than him, if but by an inch, with her arm thrown about the first.

"Still know how to make an entrance don't ya, Gully? No offense Mr. Bossman, but I think it's best if we make our way out to the Quarry before anyone else decides to contribute to this conversation."

The two seemed to be acquainted! How small the world was indeed, though Tane was quite glad. The woman did look in dear need of a friend or two. Tane looked at the bunch of needles in his hand and walked over to the two orc women. "Excuse me, but I believe you dropped these." he said, holding the spruce needles out towards the first woman, a smile warming his face. After the needles were reclaimed, his smile deepened as he nodded to the both of them in turn. "I am Tane Solberg of Airedale, but please, feel free to call me Tane!." His smile turned into a grin, but it quickly faded... he felt like he was forgetting something... Oh yes! The woman from before. He quickly took a small step away from the two orcs and towards the elvish woman from before. Now that he was taking a good look at her, she was quite beautiful as far as earthly matters were concerned. In fact all three women had been. "That goes for yourself as well my good woman! Please forgive me for not introducing myself earlier. As I'm sure you heard, I am Tane. It's a pleasure to meet you all." He made a small bow, a fist over his heart and shield at his side, to express his apology.

It was then that he heard the sudden thud of someone falling, brow furrowed he straightened up and turned towards the sound, though in the throng of people, he couldn't see what had happened, or who had fallen. His normally happy face quickly shifted to one of deep concern, the corners of his lips curled downward. "Oh my, I wonder what happened there... Well, no one's screaming so I suppose it's nothing to serious eh?" His smile quickly returned, though there was a hint of concern in those dark brown eyes of his. "I do hope we begin soon, as you suggested. I feel the longer we stay here, the more likely some of these brave souls are to lose heart in this venture."


Tane greatly approves of Layeta and Gully's friendship:+15 each
Tane found Adriel's hair to be quite humorous: +5
Tane is grateful that Illeren pointed out Adriel's hair: +5
Tane is happy to see Arayel has joined the group!: +3

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

0.00 INK

#, as written by Gray
Image


The crowd was grew ever larger, containing not only big ones and little ones, but annoying ones and socially inept ones, as it might seem. One elf in particular seemed a bit off. His white hair and thin features would have been more at home in a drug house than in Adriel's crowd of warriors. He was twitchy for an elf; Adriel didn’t know if it was nerves, or if he'd followed Adriel straight out of an adjoining brigand den, but Adriel didn’t like him. Oh yes, he did notice the fact that he was being trailed. At first he assumed it was a sickly cat or a stinky human beggar with his unevenly paced steps. There was also a large man, clad in more armor than hair, who was oddly all too happy to be there. There was a frightened orc girl, and a man wearing a full turban. Another human stood nearby, seeming all too proud to be there. Adriel would learn that his name was Ezra. Ezra bothered him. Adriel hoped Ezra would be crushed in the trial. A dark-skinned human was eating. Weren't humans the worst?

Finally, there arrived a couple of elves. Real ones, with long hair and slender waists. That improved Adriel's dour mood somewhat, though not by much. Another orc... friendly and upbeat, it seemed. He rather wondered if they knew what they were doing here. Behind them all, amidst all of these faces, was Gretchen--or as Adriel affectionately called her, anything other than her name because he wouldn’t lower himself to that. He had hoped to see the last of her disgusting face when he'd sent her off earlier that day. Yet as fate would have it, she scampered right on back like rats to a cheese. Just his luck. She must have gotten hungry or something, and returned to feast on his scowling. Of course, if she didn't show up on her own, the serass would have just sent him after her to see if she was dead.

But he digressed; Adriel wouldn’t have time to be distracted by the woman flipping him off, because the twitchy elf suddenly woke from his drug-fueled stupor.

“Cock.”

Ah, his hair looked like a cock, did it? That was a new one, considering the style was an ancient and well regarded one among elves, something Adriel doubted the white haired man knew much of. He could have called it ancient and garnered more respect from the infiltrator, but oh no, cock was preferable. "Do your parents still insist you're an elf? Or do they refuse to acknowledge your father as the milkman? Because no elf would dare spout such foulness to me, round ear."

Here he had tried to make a good impression, and maybe even inspire some stragglers. Well, that was out of the window; all Adriel had to do was be himself. It was around that time that Gretchen managed to make the turban wearer pass out with the sheer potency of her face. Adriel... dryly supposed he could relate to the poor man's reaction. "Can someone help up the master adventurer down there? You there, harlot, as you caused this, I'm sure you're equally capable of waking him. Do it... nicely. The rest of you, unless you feel inclined to aid her, be ready to move. The sooner we're on our way, the sooner we get to show up the Silver Knights."

"--A moment, please," said the orc rather abruptly, going as far as to clasp Adriel behind the wrist. They exchanged a curt look, and Adriel hoped that his relayed the fact that while you may have grown, you're still very much the same child, aren't you? At some point the serass had begun scowling, likely when the man had planted his head into the city road. Still, he kept his brows set, and eyes open and alert as he addressed the Gathering: "This will be the single and only instance in which I will not accompany you all. I know he's... a bit of a grouch, but I do trust the judgement of my Second, and I trust him to make choices best suited to our cause. I can only hope that one day we can both earn that trust from you." He slowed his breathing, bowing his head and pressing a calm beam onto his face. "For now though, I simply wish you luck. Spirits be with you, and thank you all for coming today."

"Thanks Serass," said Adriel, his voice barely above a whisper, "but I told you, no coddling." There was something of a wry smile upon his lips, and the elf hoped that Higoht wouldn't feel too offended. Though deep down inside, he realized that the big green soldier was pretty fragile. "Alright, the rest of you, let's go mining." Quickly turning his back to the company he was leading, Adriel marched towards the smell of clean air.




Gretchen lost 2 approval from Higoht.
Kir gained pity from Higoht.
Gulfim gained 2 approval from Higoht.
Laetya gained 2 approval from Higoht.
Everyone else gained 1 approval from Higoht, simply for attending.





The walk out of Autumour was surprisingly short. The ebony bridge was built near the outskirts of city, and Adriel couldn’t be happier. The fresh atmosphere enveloped him, if the recruits were watching closely they’d likely notice his simple relief to be out of the city. There was some talent among this bunch, even the elf had to acknowledge this. While he might be crotchety and closed-minded, there were men and women among them who seemed battle hardened already. This mission might go well. He picked up his pace as the group moved through open plains. There would have been no sign that anything was amiss until nearly a quarter mile outside the city, when a distinct shaking feeling could be felt even through the toughest of hide boots.

Adriel paused briefly at the first shudder, turning to address them. "I should inform you, any cavalier worth their merit would know what this is... but I imagine I have a more succinct explanation prepared. It's a species of drake that moves through earth; a Nidhogg. Normally they're... smaller, and confined to the elven territories. If you've ever wondered why elves feel as though we're the guardians of the world, you'll be seeing the answer soon enough."

He turned away, resuming his pace. “The beast I ask you to slay makes its lair in the quarry down the road. It is incredibly old, and we shall pray for all our sakes that it is male; regardless, keep an eye out for eggs. I ask that you smash any that you should find; they are most prone to eating flesh when they are young.

"Once we arrive, there will be no turning back. If any of you would prefer to embrace cowardice and another day, by all means, return to the city. To those who feel true loyalty to the cause, again: we’ll be securing a human quarry against a Nidhogg. From the feeling under our feet, I can tell you this is a particularly nasty one.”
The elf didn’t enjoy admitting follies of his own kind, but it was a grave offense from many decades prior. Typically all drakes are no larger than pig or large stray dog when they hatch. During Adriel’s training as a cavalier, he'd been given the opportunity to fight these bog drakes before. Typically, the creatures never leave the forest, and even if they did, they would stay buried for nearly a hundred years. With earthquakes as intense as these, however, it was safe to say this creature might be have survived and flourished even longer than Adriel.


The sight of trees became scarce. Only minutes later, the ground simply disappeared before them, like a magician's trick. The group stood before an incredibly large quarry, a flat slab of ground several leagues below their feet, with natural stone walls on all sides. There was only one long slope which lead into it, and a series of caves along the horizon marked old miner’s holes.

Typically, this would be an impressive sight. The trees had been cleared for lumber supports in the mines, and the stone was carved with such efficiency that one might assume a fictitious race of pint-sized men had dug them. Loose stone on the ramp’s surface would shutter with each quake, and the sounds of warping wooden beams in the mines were disconcerting at best. Adriel began to lead them down a wooden ramp the workers had left behind.


As the quakes reached the peak of their intensity, as it became increasingly difficult to maintain balance, they would know it was coming. On the far wall of the quarry visible cracks began to appear, growing with each quake. Even Adriel, scrunching at the nostrils, had no idea how big this creature had become. Finally, the wall collapsed, giving way to the emerging beast.

While the party was safe up were they were, a sickening odor would soon be accompanying the monstrosity. No doubt about it, the creature was a bog drake, a crouched Nidhogg barely smaller than most human forts. It growled gutturally, saliva spewing from it's chasm of a mouth. Boils shivering under its neck as its massive appendages bent and broke the flat ground under its feet. This would prove an opportune time to get a look at the rows of teeth sharp enough to turn stone into food. It peered up at them, defensively perched near the quarry wall. Each toe was as large as a man, and the feet themselves had more than enough surface area to squash any human dumb enough to stand before it. Then it screamed, reverberating, warning any would-be predators that it was not going without a fight, as its glaring orange eyes watched for any sign of movement.

This was a monster which should have never made it this far, and if Adriel had his way, it wouldn’t be moving much further.



“I will not be helping to slay the beast," Adriel said finally, crossing his arms as pebbles fell all around them. "You’ll do everything on your own, I’ll probably just sit on a rock somewhere and judge your performance.”

Thankfully, near the edge of the cliff a godsent appeared, a stump from a once mighty tree was now kind enough to volunteer as a perch for the elf. Adriel casually meandered towards the now-seat, and made a motion with his hands which couldn’t be a more clear sign language for well, have at it then.



The {Monster Compendium} has been updated.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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It seemed that Illeren’s outburst had done more than just draw attention to himself as several things happened that were too coincidental to not have been a direct result of his proclamation. Someone jumped, another person stumbled, people stared…

And not a single fuck was given by the elf that day.

Most people seemed content to simply let the matter slide into awkward obscurity, but one such human man seemed more than capable of breaking that little bit of social taboo with a boisterous laugh and an arm around Illeren’s shoulders. Illeren raised an eyebrow at the man for a moment, before he introduced himself as Ezra and more or less approved of Illeren’s shouting. Not something he was entirely used to, considering people were either telling him to shut up, move along, or asking where their money was. Illeren gave a single sharp intake.

“Aye mate!” Placing an arm around Ezra’s shoulders in return like they were in a chorus line. “Let there be laughs and excitement, of every variety!” Illeren stated, stealing a glance at the many lovely ladies that had somehow made it into the group without his knowledge. Suddenly he was wishing that his first impression had been a bit more manly, but the situation was done. “Name’s Illeren by the by!” Illeren stated loudly enough for everyone to hear him before removing his arm and continuing to look at the people around him. The orcish woman stated something about getting a move on, and Illeren slammed his palm into his chest plate.

“I agree with the lovely lass of the greenish type! We should go break things that don’t agree with the things that we like!” Illeren stated, his voice much more level than before, but still with a very high tinge of excitement piercing what would otherwise be an almost respectable tone. Save for the content of the phrase...and the slapping of his chest plate...and Illeren being Illeren. He was willing to just get going, when of course Adriel opened his mouth to respond to him.

"Do your parents still insist you're an elf? Or do they refuse to acknowledge your father as the milkman? Because no elf would dare spout such foulness to me, round ear."

Illeren stared at him for a moment, ignoring Ezra’s comment to the insult and portrayed an almost blank expression on his face before giving a slight laugh. “Good to see that the elven stereotype is well deserved ya arrogant piece of cow spittle!” Illeren fired back, a grin on his face as if he was expecting a fight. Frankly, he didn’t care who this person was, what their position in elven society was, or if he could kill him or not with a blink. If you fire shots, you better be prepared for return fire. “‘sides...round ear? MY EARS BE POINTEH LIKE SWORDS!” Illeren damn near yelled as he grabbed them and gave a good yank almost as if he was making sure. It was only after this little exchange that he noticed that Ezra wasn’t at his side anymore, having moved to assist the fallen clothed man that Illeren had completely failed to notice until that moment. Illeren gave a shrug, the situation not requiring input from him in any manner of the word. Instead, he now shook his arms and rolled his shoulders with the impatience of a hopped up druggie. He was ready to go, he had to go. Something had to go and he wanted it to be them to the test.

He was ready for a fight, and nothing was going to convince him otherwise.




Illeren wasn’t ready for a fight.

As he stared down into the mine that might as well have been an abyss from his point of view, he could feel his legs lock up and his eyes go wide. That was really far down...it was a long drop…”That’s a fookin large hole…” Illeren accidentally said out loud before shutting himself up quickly. A bead of sweat actually appeared on Illeren’s forehead as he stared down, all his thoughts turned to what would happen if he should fall. How painfully sudden it would be, or painfully slow. Either way was not something he wanted to happen, and he might have stood there for several more minutes if not for the convenient timing of the Nidhogg.

Now, Illeren was familiar with the creature. His Cavalier training had made it mandatory to be in the know about the creatures should they find one with standing orders to kill on sight for all Elven soldiers. This was not the creature he had been told about. First of all, it was massive...second of all it was FUCKING massive. Granted the shock of seeing a creature that could have been a physical representation of Adriel’s ego was enough to force him from the edge of the mine and return him back to the moment. Adriel had spent the trip telling them about the creature, but Illeren had to admit that his mind had wandered, and so had his eyes although he would never tell the others about that particular tidbit less he wanted to be slapped several times over.

If it hadn’t been for Ezra’s laughter which sounded more desperate than anything to Illeren, he might have thought he was alone in wondering how they were going to kill something so massive without some sort of siege weapon or mass magic. Speaking of, he had just noticed that Ezra’s sword was now on fire. Suddenly Illeren was seriously considering learning magic because fire and swords was just...well come on...it’s fire and swords! Turning his mind back to the present matter at hand, Adriel made it painfully aware that he wasn’t going to be assisting in any way whatsoever, and left the group to take up a perch along the edge of the cliff. Illeren stared at him as he simply sat at the edge of a deadly drop before realizing he was staring, and that the man was an elf and used to heights.

Ironic, Illeren was aware.

"Alright gang, time to make Papa Elf proud! Any ideas?" Ezra stated as the Nidhogg continued to remind them of its presence. Illeren gave a scoff, pulling his sword from the sheath on his hip.

“My plan is to fook that buggar up so badly it will look better in comparison to it’s present self ya betcha!” Illeren stated giving his sword a once over, running a hand along the inscription on the blade. “But ‘ey! If ya bastards wanna waste time thinkin up a statergy, then all the power to ya! I’mma be down there slicin’ at the squishy bits!” Illeren then turned and ran for the ramp with all the reckless abandon of a suicidal lunatic only to come to a skidding stop at the ramp as he caught a glimpse at the height once more. He paused for a couple of seconds longer than necessary before stealing a glance back at everyone else.

“What the fook ya pricks starin at! I got this!” Illeren yelled back before scrunching himself up against the wall and slowly walking down the ramp as if the ground was going to give way at any moment.

‘ad to be a fookin mine...couldn’t ‘ave been a prairie or city block! Nay, lets pick something that good ol’ Illeren will have trouble with. Illeren stared a glance up at Adriel, who he did not doubt was having a good old laugh at his state right now, his chest pressed up against the wall as he side stepped down the ramp.

Well played ya righteous sap licker!




(Illeren slightly approves of Ezra's approval + 5)
(Illeren slightly approves of Adriel's fiestiness! +5)
(Illeren slightly disapproves of Adriel's fiestiness! -5)
(Illeren slightly approves of Laetya's suggestion to get a move on! +2)
(Illeren greatly approves of Ezra's fire sword thing! +10)
(Illeren greatly DESPISES heights! - 99)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Laetya

Shortly after proposing to the peacock that they should get a move on, a giant, lumbering tin can came walking over to present a handful of some green twigs to Gully. The man introduced himself as Tane and . . he’s from Airedale of all places. He seemed gentle, too gentle in her opinion, and like one hell of a good meat shield, but he had to be from Airedale. Just thinking the name left a bad taste in her mouth. ”I’m Laetya Kyuutae. I would say where I’m from but it shouldn’t be necessary.” That was when a noticeable thud seemed to catch almost everyone’s attention, and the orc loosened her grasp on Gully’s shoulder to see what was going on.

A spindly woman with straw-like hair, who would probably make a good scarecrow if you perched her up in a field, was bent over the crumpled body of some man with his face covered in rags. The peacock didn’t waste time insulting the woman, indicating the two were acquainted at least in some fashion, and nearly in tandem with Easy’s rush to the crumpled mass of rags Higoht announced he would not be in attendance to this ritual. Oh well, there should be plenty of time to catch up with him and Gully later. Fortunately they didn’t stand around much longer, Laetya was starting to get a little anxious to start this trial.



After their departure for the Quarry Laetya found herself in quiet contemplation of what was to come. While she stayed close to Gully during their trot out from Autumnor, the older orc found herself somewhat lost for words. Sure she wanted to talk and catch up with the girl, but it had been nearly a decade since she left Kyoshel and she was unsure about how to go about reconnecting with her younger counterpart. Luckily she didn’t need to ponder this for too long as the peacock began discussing their mission after the ground started rumbling faintly. She waited until after his explanation to turn to Gully with a big smirk on her face. ”Well, let’s see how good you’ve gotten with that ancient piece of steel there.”

Everything had progressed very quickly once their disparate gang arrived at the quarry. The peacock ran off to watch the proceedings, thanks for helping fix your race’s mistake there buddy, the elf with the disposition of a five year old stormed off right for the beast like some lunatic, two of the women folk rushed head first and jumped on the damned thing, and here she was popping a boil at least as big as she was. She had taken Mr. Creepy-Elf-Guy’s advice and moved to attack the creature’s rear appendages knowing that she wasn’t the quickest on her feet. She had taken the opportunity of her positioning after the straw-haired woman who managed to overcome the bandage man earlier with the sheer . . . pleasure of her company.

Her Qundo had landed in the boil with a sound akin to a flat rock smashing a stocking full of spoiled meat, she really wished she didn’t know that, and the after-effect was much the same, again something she would rather not know. A viscous, warm fluid had spouted forth from the wound and covered the orc like wet wool blanket. Unfortunately the Reaper has always had a tendency to shout, scream, and grunt while fighting and this was no exception. Quite possibly the second most disgusting thing she’s ever tasted.

”Tane, think you can lend me a hand with this?”

She shouted as loudly as she could towards the mountain of iron wielding that big mace around. He was slow so this might not be the best situation for him, but the two of them would definitely be able to distract and impede the Nidhogg with their weaponry. Laetya had quick-stepped back from the beast in anticipation of whatever the hell it might do in retaliation. She forcefully spat to try and get as much of the filth out of her mouth as possible, and the difficulty of doing so served to further piss her off. It was going to take a lot of liquor to wash away this vile flavor.

Hot, sweaty, and sticky. This orc had been all of the above more times than she could count at this point, and some of those she would gladly forget if she had a chance. Speaking of which, where the hell was Easy? After this damned battle she needed to slap the piss out of him for even thinking about grabbing her ass. Well, she didn’t know if he actually did, but she knew the damned Blackguard all too well by now. ”Easy, if you’re dead I swear I’m gonna kick your ass from here to Byda and back!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy

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With protruding arrows and bursting boils, and at least two pipsqueaks burrowing into the Niddhog's back, the monster was understandably getting deeply frustrated. It began to stomp all its limbs, its body rumpling and crumpling in skin undulations. As it turned and rumbled to try nip and crush its irritants, what was a charging speck got larger and larger, accompanied by a dull screaming noise. When it felt the churning pop of its eye, the Nidhogg let out a great groan to embellish its blinding pain, which only seemed to spur further stabbing. It shook itself like a wet dog, sending clumps of its secretions in all directions in its desperate attempt to dislodge its passengers.

It swung its head to the side and bent its torso at a worrying angle as it turned tail and began to lumber back to its lair. It had had enough of these fools! The Nidhogg might even be able to make a meal of any that it squashed along the way. That was when the searing sensation struck, a burning that it had never experienced before. The Nidhogg roared again in a raw, bestial way that shook the entire quarry, causing pebbles and small boulders to tumble and break. It swung its heavy tail wildly like a slow pendulum as its burning limb collapsed from under it when it tried to perform its undulating trample again, effectively crushing its arm further from its own weight and rendering it useless.

Its other limbs were being taken advantage of now, too, causing it to claw at the ground as it continued to defiantly shake its head and snap its jaws.

Then, for a moment, the injured and infuriated Nidhogg froze entirely, every muscle in its body stiffening as its remaining pupil dilated. There, standing on two legs with its underdeveloped tail and tucked in claws, was one of its young. The newborn cocked its head, observing its surroundings with this new sensation called sight, its sharp teeth gnashing thoughtfully. It smelled something coppery. Whatever it was, it smelled delicious.





Image


A splat of something fell to the elf's feet. No doubt caused by the Nidhogg being torn apart. Adriel had to admit, he hadn't been paying attention at all, but that was over now that the elf had a thick slimy substance on his shoe. Finally, with an unimpressed glance, he looked towards the beasts and the thing they were killing. "Well, that's certainly one way to slay a Nidhogg." In all his years, he had never seen such a gruesome sight before. The new recruits were doing well, though, despite their gracelessness in battle. One had even gouged an eye out. They were the most likely cause for the goo that was now on Adriel's shoes. The group looked like it had divided itself without a proper leader guiding their charge, which was understandable due to their lack of training, though he could swear he'd heard someone barking suggestions once or twice. There were a few stationed in the front, some even on top of the beast, and finally a few stalwart stragglers, including one he'd heard the serass recognize as "Gulfim," chose to bring up the rear. He had a hard time making out the rest of them. One such individual, either an orc male or a very large bandit had attempted to use his mighty strength to lob off the uncontrollable tail, which would prove disastrous for the poor soul.

"Better luck next time." Adriel said beneath his breath. The beast was clearly in pain, its screams felt throughout the quarry, and its tail smashed into unlucky soldiers until it finally made contact with something harder: the wall of the damn quarry itself. The wall shook, and sundered, leaving a new gash in the mountain and giving him unsteady footing. But if that was all it had done, Adriel would have been a happy overseer.

He heard them, like the sounds of chirping toads. Voices, new voices. They were not as overarching as the Nidhogg's bellowing, instead a few octaves higher, but nonetheless he knew them to be the same creature. From one of the caves, a creature no larger than a mother sow appeared. Standing on its hind legs, eager to feed, was a baby Nidhogg. Soon enough another head appeared, and then another, with the trio tromping out into the open and screeching eagerly. "By the Gods. Recruits!" the elf shouted across the quarry, "Kill every last one of them. Let none flee."

Adriel could no longer ignore this threat. Sure, the outpouring of potentially hundreds of baby bog drakes would have a high chance of completely destroying the nearest human civilization, swarming and killing all of the round ears, but it'd also kill all of his elves in the quarry too... as well as the orcs, Adriel presumed. Standing from his perch when the final quake came to a halt, the infiltrator supposed it was time to lend a hand. He was watching carefully as the three drakes escaped a crack in the wall, and was determined to destroy the rest of them before they could hatch and do the same.

Magic was one of the simplest weaknesses of Nidhoggs, as the men seemed to be discovering. A bog drake's skin repelled blades, but magic could sink its fangs into the beast better than any blade. Adriel's breath staggered, then lengthened as he took in a large breath. Soon he could feel it, his magic coursing through his veins, trying to escape. It leaked out of his body and enhanced his speed, strength, and reflexes. Lightning was the glue that held his technique together. The elf launched himself from the cliff, hopping from ramp to ramp on the scaffolding while letting the lightning escape his body and cover his form like a cloak. He moved right by the giant beast, too quick for its one eye to see, and sprinted into the heart of the earth; where a volley of sparks would illuminate the cave mouth.

Finally, he played an active role in keeping his recruits alive. Well, if the few Nidhogg he had allowed to escape the caves didn't overwhelm the group.



The {Monster Compendium} has been updated.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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Tane Solberg

After the three women he'd met in the initial gathering introduced themselves, it was finally time for them to head off to this quarry. He couldn't help but feel a little... excited. He'd been looking forward to this for quite a while now, and now that it was finally time to prove himself he could barely contain himself.




Definitely not what he was expecting. Not even a little. A Nidhogg? Really? The very first thing they were going to be thrown up against was a Nidhogg? And a massive one at that. Ugly too, almost as bad as it smelled. The horrid stench of over ripe fruit and decomposing corpses reminded him somewhat of his hometown, not really the way you want to remember the place you grew up. Not long after the explanation of what they would be doing did many of their brave company launch into action!
The man with the pretty hair, Erza I think it was, asked for any suggestions. The loud elf from before gave a rather decent one, kill it dead as it were. He then promptly threw himself into the quarry after the beast, but hesitated. Mayhaps scared of the sheer height they were at? At that point, a dark haired elf actually gave them a fairly decent rundown of "killing Nidhogg 101". It seemed like a good plan, but many seemed to ignore him in favor of actually jumping onto the beast itself! He wasn't sure how great of an idea that was, but it seemed to be working fairly well so far.

That gave him an idea... What happens when you drop a boulder off a cliff? Whatever it hits goes splat! Very much splat. Mind you sometimes the boulder breaks, but the beasty down there looked pretty squishy. It would probably absorb most of the impact. Probably. In all likelyhood this was not a good idea, but that hadn't ever stopped him before. He'd have to wait for the right moment though, and hope that his companions could survive that long.

He then heard the orc woman from before, Laetya, call out for his assistance. He frowned and looked down at the creature, and knew if he did it now he'd likely break something. "Be down in a minute friend! Please be patient!" They probably didn't have much longer. The Nidhogg had already begun retaliating against them. It irked him that he wasn't down there helping, but he doubted even he could block a swing of those massive arms.

That's when he saw his chance. Just after the pretty boy slashed up the creature's leg in a show of steel and flame, it seemed to go very still. Now or never! Tane broke into a dead run, something that was quite difficult in a full suit of armor, and leapt off the cliff, shield pointed down into the quarry. For a brief second, he saw recognition in the beasts one good eye, then fear, a very logical response given the situation.

What situation? 320 pounds of steel flying at your head from a cliff top. Then he made impact, this shield slamming into the leathery hide of the beasts head, a sick *crack* from the creature's bone as its head slammed into the ground with the force of the impact, snapping its jaw shut.

He slowly pushed himself up, his body immediately exclaimed its protest but he ignored it for now. He probably fractured something of his own in the fall, but that would heal. He looked up to see the very angry blonde woman and Arayel on the back and neck of the slimy beast. He gave them a smile and a wave before he broke out into laughter. This whole situation was absurd! He literally just fell on the head of a drake, and here he was laughing like it was no big deal! "S-Sorry to drop in like t-this. Hope I wasn't interrupting anything!" Then he felt the creature lurch under his feet. His feet slipped out from under him and he slid down the side of the beasts slimy head and to the ground next to Laetya, who like most of them was covered in slime.

The beast was obviously not happy with him, as the second he was off the thing's head it turned its massive maw at him and lunged, sharp teeth barred in full. He positioned himself between the beast and Laetya and widened his stance. "Do try to stay behind me friend!" he yelled to Layeta, still laughing, as the beasts face slammed into his shield, glancing off towards the left, leaving its neck exposed and a large gash in his shield. He doubted it would buff out.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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Illeren’s demeanor had changed ever so slightly once he was in the heat of battle, doing his best to eliminate the creature in front of him. It wasn’t a complete 180 in terms of his personality, but looking at him it was clear to tell. His smile was of excited determination rather than mischief, his motions were fluid and filled with a singular purpose, and his blade soared through the air with every flick of his wrist almost like he did so himself, his body contorting as he made to dodge the subtle but dangerous movements of the giant Nidhogg. The only thing that remained was probably his speech.

“Ya feel that you right tit gobblin wanka!” Illeren slashed and pierced with every ounce of his being, knowing that even though it didn’t seem like it, the cumulative effects of all their attacks was slowing the giant ugly beast down. He continued to do so right up to the point where the Nidhogg decided to throw a temper tantrum and stamp its feet up and down. Illeren forced his sword deep into the leg from where he was standing, on top of the foot, and held on for dear life while the Nidhogg did it’s best impression of riverdance. When it finally decided that enough was enough and it was time to move, Illeren retrieved his sword and jumped off the foot, landing in a single roll. The entire body was moving like some kind of weird body of water, with skin flapping about like the waves gross massive balls of pus and blood shooting every direction. Illeren charged forward, intent on keeping up with the Nidhogg, ducking and weaving through the ballistic bath intentions.

Illeren was still beneath the creature at this point, and he was seriously starting to reconsider his position as keeping his balance amidst the clawing and scraping of the beast was almost as hard as getting a blow in himself. Dirt and dust was kicked up, coating his armor and himself as he coughed and forced his eyes open through tears caused by the obstructions. At the very least, it wasn’t what everyone else was currently coated in, even as his white hair was now a dirty grey. When the beast finally did stop, Illeren took that moment to clear his eyes so he could properly see. He heard the pompous ass yell something about killing every last one, but to be honest listening to that elf was really damn low on his list of ‘fucks given’.

“RAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Enough of this dirt shite in my sockets!” Illeren stated, finally getting fed up with the dirt in his eyes and instead making for the nearest leg and jumping up on top of it once more as was the norm for him. His eyes would clear eventually, but for the moment he simply wanted this thing dead for shoving dirt into the golden gems that were his eyes. He stabbed, slashed, cut and weaved through the boils on the beast’s leg, giving off insults that were getting more and more incoherent as time went on. Starting with ‘Ya fookin bastard!’ to ‘’ant dis lookin fookbar!’. When he finally did regain his entire vision back, he looked over to see a baby Nidhogg grappling Aurileith to the ground. Before he could make a move to help her, the sheepish orc came by and cleaved the bloody thing’s head off. Illeren gave a smug nod as he absentmindedly stabbed at the mother’s foot some more.

It wasn’t long after that the baby nidhoggs were dead, and the mother collapsed on the ground, much to the surprise of Illeren as he made a mad dash to get out from underneath her once he realized. She had crashed to the ground and Illeren threw himself to the dirt in order to avoid being squished. He got up, wiping the dirt and grime off of him as best he could before looking back at the creature. There was a brief moment of silence from him before he gave a hearty laugh and pointing his sword at the carcass. “Right! We fooked ‘er up somethin fierce we did! I mean, just look at ‘er, all crumpled up like a wet sack of potatoes!” He twirled the sword a couple of times before smoothly returning it to its sheath. He turned to look at the others, noticing that they were all more or less covered in guts, pus, and blood. He laughed even harder, if that was even possible.

“Look at all ya silly gits! You just...I...you’re…” He couldn’t even get out a proper sentence, at least for Illeren, without bursting into laughter. Sure, he was covered in dirt and grime a plenty, but not organic matter. Adriel started talking to them, and the moment his grating voice started making it’s way to his ears, Illeren’s laughter died down. At the very least, the elf seemed pleased with their progress and achievement, so it toned down Illeren’s annoyance of the man somewhat. He ordered a trophy to be cut before he started talking about what they were to do next. Barkmere, Illeren had been there before and personally didn’t like the place. It was a nice town of course, probably one of the better ones out there, but it was too bloody close to Elven territory for him. He hated going back that direction for any reason whatsoever, and gave a huff as he realized that he didn’t really have a choice in the matter if he wanted to continue with the job. He had realized that he might be forced to go back to the dreaded land of the tree humpers, but he had hoped it wouldn’t have been so soon.

Although there was the bone of contention regarding the induction. An immunity to the plague? Yes please, but what did he mean if they survive? Was the cure almost as deadly as the disease itself? Well that seemed right stupid to Illeren. Adriel tried to amend his statement, but it was already too late. There was a threat of death from the thing supposed to protect them from threat of death...Ironic. He then made to go help the blonde woman with her sword while Illeren turned to the others of the group. “So, we go drink a brew that may kill us, or save us from a different death…” Illeren put a hand up to his chin. “Sounds dangerous...I like it!”




The trip to Barkmere was more or less uneventful, with Illeren being bored for the majority of the way there. He sharpened his blade as he went, practiced twirls with it, and generally used it to relieve his boredom. At one point he had started singing folk songs, but after a few very pointed glances he got the message and stopped...for the time being. They couldn’t stop the Bard Illeren! It took a number of hours before they reached Barkmere in the dark of night and the building’s glow providing the only source of light for miles around. They approached the walls, with Adriel getting them inside and directions to where the group was supposed to meet. The walk there was short and, once more, uneventful as they moved inside and were greeted with the leader of the expedition. Bo smiled and waved them inside, another rather unpleasant looking elf taking them and moving them to some bathing area. Illeren gave a very audible sigh of relief. “That’s great! The rest of ya smell like a bad case of chicken pot stool!”

It was to his utter dismay that the bathing areas seemed to be separated by gender, leaving Illeren pouting slightly as he and the other guys were lead to the baths. Once his initial disappointment wore off though, he didn’t waste any time whatsoever. Going into the changing room, he quickly tore off his armor with both a practiced ease and reckless abandon as piece after piece seemingly flew from his body. Aside from his sword that is, which he ever so carefully detached from the side of his chest piece and gently set it down as if it was some revered object. He kept going until he was completely stark naked in the change room, portraying the scars and tattoos that literally marked nearly every inch of skin. Without bothering to don a towel or any sort of covering garment, he walked out into the main area of the bath.

He walked along the wooden boardwalk over top of the bath, giving a good inward breath and stretching before tossing himself over the board and literally belly flopping into the water. He surfaced near the edge of the bath with a wide smile planted on his face as he simply sat in the warm comfort of the bath, enjoying what would probably be a very scarce occurrence of being clean. He let himself slip down into the water until it was up to his eyes, peering into every corner with more than a hint of mischief about them as he moved around the pool.




Illeren exited the baths with only a loose pair of cloth pants adorning his body, leaving his upper body and all its tattoos exposed for the world to see. His armor was in a bag, toting along his back while he held his sword in the other as he followed the instructions of the orc, who had found him investigating several closets...cause he was ‘Lost’. Bastard had caught him in the act of trying to nick anything that was worth anything in there, luckily Illeren had been able to play it off. Or at the very least, if the orc gave any indication he knew what Illeren was doing, he never said anything. Little beads of water still clung to Illeren, and his hair was still fairly matted from the water as he attempted to simply wipe the water off of him. While doing so, he nearly full on stumbled into Bo.

“Oi, my bad.” Illeren stated, looking up at the man.

“No harm done..." The orc replied, amused if anything. "You're Illeren, right?”

“Aye mate, tis my name. Hig-oit right?”

“Hiː goʊ, but just call me Bo.” Illeren gave a smirk.

“Much easier on tha tongue! Less pretentious too, sounded like a ‘igh born dicker for a moment there.” Illeren pointed to the room. “We settin’ up in there?”

“Haha, yes. Go ahead and get comfortable, we’re still waiting on the others.” Illeren gave a nod, slapping the man on the shoulder as he went inside. It appeared he was the first one here, and so he set about taking up a spot at that table, setting his armor off to the side and placing his sword on the table in front of him. He took a look around, to see if there was anything else that he should be aware of and finding nothing. He sat himself down, flipped the sword into his grasp and leaned back, placing his feet on the wooden surface as he unsheathed his sword and went about glancing at it. He reached over into his pack and brought out his sharpening stone once more, letting the rhythmic motions keep him more or less entertained until everyone else came in.

That being said, when everyone else did come in, Illeren didn’t bother stopping. He simply slowed until the sound of the stone on sword was practically imperceptible. He glanced up at Bo as he started to talk, everyone paying attention to their leader. He didn’t bother moving from his current state, which some might have seen as incredibly disrespectful, but he was paying attention at the very least.

Bo introduced himself, and set about starting the story with a tale about a snake. Apparently its poison was what allowed one to be immune to the plague ravaging the lands, but you had to survive it first. Illeren let his head drop slightly as he thought about it as trading one poison for another. At least this one would prove to be survivable, mostly. When he mentioned the side effects, making special note of what Adriel did during his stint with the drug Illeren gave a scoff. “‘e’s an assasin ain’t ‘e? ‘e most likely kills people when ‘e’s sleepin!” Illeren stated without so much as a single care given as to what the others might be thinking about when he said that. He simply continued his slow upkeep of his weapon as Bo continued. There was talk of respect, loyalty and everything else that came with being under the employ of someone else. Funny enough though, he made a note to mention morality, which struck Illeren as odd.

He wasn’t the most ethical man around, but he knew where to draw a line. It just struck him as weird that the boss of this so called group would be open to their interpretation what was right and wrong when really it should simply be left up to him. He then went on to list all of their objectives while they were with the group, which Illeren found to be common sense. If they were going to be immune, it would only make sense for them to be in the thick of it. If they survived the induction anyways. Illeren perked up when he started listing out rewards with a noticeable bodily movement. Pardoning? Pass. Fame? Pass. Respect? Pass. Physical Recompense? Now that’s what I like! Anything I can think of? Oh, I won’t ask for much me thinks. Maybe a castle, my own brothel, and enough gold to drown several leagues of leprechauns.

Finally Bo seemed to wrap up, indicating that his assistants would help with the induction ceremony. Maybe the speech would have scared off anyone else, but in Illeren’s mind, immunity to the plague was enough to warrant a try. At the very least he would be able to travel without fear of turning into a brain dead ghoul, not that several people hadn’t already thought he was one. “Well enuff wastin time then! Let’s drink a brew and avoid ghoulification shall we? Ladies first!” Illeren said, pointing to Ezra with his sword and a wicked smile.




Illeren ever so slightly approves of Adriel not being a stuck up dick. +1
Illeren slightly approves of Gulfim's "lady like strength" +3
Illeren slightly approves that Higoht's name isn't a high born dicker +1
Illeren disapproves of not being able to nick anything.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin Character Portrait: Kiske Kirill

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After helping Aura back to her feet and turning back to see Vasha jettisoning out of the Nidhogg's gaping maw, covered in sludge and mouth-grime, and for a few breaths, Arayel... Gully's sword dipped lower and lower until she opted to extract the only clean piece of cloth on her person to wipe her blade off and slip it back into it's scabbard. The Nidhogg had slumped onto it's oozing face—dead, clearly dead. And Adriel was already moving into the cave to deal with the rest of it's crabbing fledgelings, sizzling them to little more than twitching limbs and ash. She watched as everyone gathered their wits and shook themselves off. They were a smelly, putrid mess of dripping Nidhogg-matter and blood. A simple twitch of the nose was the only indication that it bothered her. Instead, her bright eyes glanced across them. She, too, counted their losses, quietly bowing her head and whispering soft-lipped prayers. A send-off to their spirits.

As far as she was concerned, they were the lucky ones. She did not fault Adriel or Bo for the deaths in the quarry. Future battles would always wage fatal stakes. They would live to see another day, and those who'd died did so bravely. Whether it was simply a test of will and strength or something much more complicated, honourable deaths occurred on battlefields. If she were so lucky to die with her blade in her hands, she would have no qualms and no regrets. Knuckling some of the grime from the bridge of her nose, Gully straightened her shoulders and finally slicked her fingers across her neck. What she'd presumed to be the Nidhogg's blood revealed itself to be a yawning flesh-wound. No more than an inch deep. Probably needed stitches. Another scar to add to her arsenal. Another thing making her less woman, more beast, she supposed.

Watching Adriel wrench the blade free from the Nidhogg's pustule-ridden back and toss it over to Gretchen—who was slicked and nearly covered from head to toe with much, much more blood and ichor than she'd imagined possible, caused her to pause in her steps. She'd seen her during the battle. Not quite frothing at the mouth, but wild in posture, wild in action. Eyes like wildfire and rage and teeth-gnashing fury. A torrent of energy contained in such a small body. Beastly, in nature. And very human. She watched her for a few more moments, tilting her head owlishly. A curiosity. Gully cleared her throat and quickened her pace until she staggered herself beside Laetya and Ezra.




As much as the others might have found the trek to Barkmere uneventful and dull, Gully enjoyed the brief spurts of silence. Even the accompanying chatter between her new, blooded companions did not bother her as much as she'd thought it would, and if it wasn't for the awful smell wafting behind them, it might've cut a wholesome scene. Her stomach still fluttered and flipped whenever someone directed any questions her way, but for the most part, she tempered a thin-lipped expression onto her face and bobbed or shook her head in response. For the most part, they trekked in silence while she mutely counted their footsteps to keep herself busy. She swore that fighting the Nidhogg had been the easiest part of this journey—but now, faced with idle conversation and knocking elbows with strangers, Gully floundered on dry-land.

Instead of relying on her staggered repertoire of non-wit and sly remarks, she admired the scenery leading up to Barkmere's nondescript town and noticed Bo and someone else she did not recognize waiting on the rise. A ghost of a smile twitched at her lips, and slowly died as they made their approach. There would be no time to assault Bo with the flurry of questions dancing on her tongue—not now, anyhow. He was already giving them further instructions, and she had to agree that scrubbing themselves clean of the smelly grime caked on their skin and armour was far more important than skipping off to their next order of action. Tending to their wounds, as well. The yawning wound at her throat had already congealed and now, thumped dully. It was the idea of bathing with the others in an open chamber that plagued her thoughts. Any amount of internal preparation would not suffice. She inclined her head and headed into the inn with the others.




Battling against scaly slime-bags with multiple limbs, all slavering to feed on their sorry corpses? A simple enough affair that involved pure, unadulterated strength. Huffing down the ranks and remaining at stiff-spined attention while scarred Orcs screamed in her face? Terrifying but still manageable. And juggling the responsibility of keeping her home-bound companions alive and well while leading them in and out of Kyoshel's many scuffles? A thrill in comparison. Bathing with people she hardly knew? An awful reality that lent her little bravery. Her legs were anchors, and she, an old ship destined to remain adrift in dangerous waters. It was simple really. All she needed to do was reach for the door handle, let herself in, and continue her business as everyone else did. Yet every time she raised her hand to undo the latch, Gulfim's heart hammered until she pressed it back to her side, lips smothering down in a frown.

She did finally make it in, however. Weighing her options, she decided that it would be far more embarrassing to explain what she was doing standing in front of the door—not doing anything besides staring at it. She'd painstakingly removed her armour and set them aside, folded meticulously atop one another. Soft sighs, irritated grumbles, and light conversation drifted from the large tubs. And here she was, already sweating from the warmth radiating through the chamber and steeling herself to round the corner and sputter out her introductions. Instead, Gulfim slipped from her dirty underclothes while grounding her teeth together and controlling her muscles and movements to make herself as quiet as possible. Perhaps then, no one would hear her enter and she could mould herself into the wooden slats, clean as a whistle. Perhaps, she wouldn't humiliate herself by saying I am Gulfim Gragba and y-you're naked no no no don't look I'm not ready. She inhaled far too sharply, and counted one, two, three.

Fortunately, Gulfim survived her first shared-bath experience with little more than a bloom of embarrassment stippling across her ears. She wasn't sure if she'd grown closer to the women from seeing them completely naked or frightened herself even more than she'd been initially. Either way, she was clean. Mission complete. She also had time to scrub her armour clean and apply a fresh coat of mink oils to the leather segments. While the others donned soft, comfortable clothes, she'd opted to slip back into her armour. It contained her apprehension, squeezed it in a confined space so that she could manage it far better than if she were to go without. Some of the others wore far stranger clothes than she was used to. Ezra in particular, she'd noticed, had chosen an odd tunic that dipped low across the chest—and while she did not observe her father's telltale sign of human-fangs and beastly qualities, there was hair. She quickly averted her eyes and levelled her them back at Bo, focusing on his words, and resolutely attempting to ignore the itchy feeling of wanting to look at the other people surrounding her.

Ladies first, Illeren had said. And then pointed out Ezra with his blade (which was unusual enough). From what she could tell, Ezra was not a woman. The issue was moot. Gulfim was ready to receive the serpent's bite, after all. She did not joke as Illeren did, though she did admire Ezra's willingness to volunteer himself first.

It took her a few moments before her bright eyes widened and a giggle rippled out from her lips, soft as bells, clearly before she had the chance to smother it down with the knuckles of her hand.

Ah. It was a joke.




Gulfim slightly approves of Illeren's humor +5
Gulfim secretly approves of Ezra's chest hair +2
Gulfim approves of Bo's clarity +5

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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#, as written by iCakez
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"Arayel.” She stated when he subtly asked her for her name. Her tone of voice carried the message that stated 'don’t you forget it’. The fight had died and it seemed like everyone was covered in nidhogg bits. She had been in quite a few, but this was by far the messiest fight ever. Vasha’s trip out of the beast hadn’t gone unnoticed. It must have looked quite amusing from a distance. Surely, their grumpy supervisor must be satisfied with them. They had just killed a big mutated snail. Arayel sighed and shifted her weight to the other foot, appreciating Vasha’s eyes for a few seconds before looking around at everyone again. She didn’t have to wait long.

Adriel, the embodiment of bitterness and a tribute to pissed off, barked something akin to orders. Or was it just to get attention? A slightly surprised expression flashed across her face as the man actually praised them. [color=]He even said ‘extremely'![/color] Shaking her head, she began walking towards Adriel. [color=]“Silrai houn dolomé.”[/color] Arayel mumbled under her breath, inaudibly (she hoped) stating what she thought about the elf at the moment. Pompous prick. She never got all the way over to him before he stabbed a finger at her and told her to retrieve a souvenir from the beast. She tilted her head to the right, then nodded and walked over to the nidhogg. Arayel knelt down and started cutting with precision.
Would they let her keep it? Actually being allowed to keep something from this heap of goo, was wonderful. She wouldn’t let them take it away from her. Once she cut out the bone, she stood and returned just in time for the blonde wildling causing trouble. Well, trouble might be a big word to use but the expression on her face when Adriel threw her sword to her was wonderful. Sadly, he didn’t pay attention to it. Upon studying the standing members of their group she discovered that they hadn’t lost a single person. They were all alive. In their group, at least. Unexpected but good. Arayel hadn’t allowed any of them to die in her mind yet. Not before she got to talk to them all. Alas, that time would not be now. Now, they would go to Barkmere.




During the walk to the town she tried wiping the rest of the nidhogg bits off. Just so it was easier to clean when they actually arrived. They smelled horribly. All of them. Perhaps the reason they weren’t attacked by a gang of highwaymen was because of that. Few of them talked during their journey and Arayel herself was consumed by her own thoughts. That made the trip feel like it didn’t take a very long time. When they finally came to the town of Barkmere, two heavily armoured elves stood in front of the gates. She had never been here before but it looked like a cozy little border town. Adriel lead them to an inn. There, Higoht waited. The orc from before. The one that seemed friendly enough, giving them all a good impression. Then Adriel had opened his mouth. The two of them were quite different. How did they get along? The big orc greeted them and ushered them inside. Either he had encountered nidhogg’s before, or he’d been warned about the stench for he immediately directed them towards the baths. Another elf came and lead them there. Gender separated. Though she was by no means shy, that was a relief.

First, she cleaned her armour. She was quick to get it off and find a bucket, a brush and a piece of cloth. Practiced movements made sure she got everything, everywhere. Granted, she wasn’t very large so there wasn’t a lot of armour to clean, but it really didn’t take her long to get it spotless. Arayel finished the process with soap and oils and then placed it on a bench in the room adjacent to the baths. Standing in her undergarments, she took out her casual clothes which was folded neatly and took them with her. There were already people in the baths, relaxing in the warm water. Arayel put down her clothes on a dry bench, far from the water and went to the edge. Shedding her undergarments with a smirk on her lips, she dipped her toe in the water and bit her lip. A few seconds later, she was sitting in the warm water and enjoying every single second of it.




She realised just how long it had been since she’d worn this attire. It felt much softer on her skin, it was easier to move around in and it was beautiful. Black silk with silver patterns and that trademark red sash she keeps tied around her waist. Although she had initially been against it, her hair had been allowed to hang loose, framing her face in soft curls. With elegant strides she entered the room they were to meet in. Higoht sat in a chair that was a little too small for him and began talking to them. First he spoke about the styx snake - a vile creature she’d had the fortune of never encountering - which was apparently going to be their ticket to immunity.
"Adriel told me that he killed a man when he went through his.

“Vaanmalin.” She whispered and smiled, leaning back in her seat. Surprise. Not that she thought he had no restraint or self control in general, but of course he had killed someone during this. With all his hate and bitterness it kind of seemed like karma. Only, it wouldn’t really be since she suspected that Adriel didn’t give a shit.

The rest of the speech was good. He informed them of what they wanted to know and then filled in with the usual. Though she would prefer that Higoht did not ask them about which moral path to take, should they come to an impasse, she was overall satisfied with him. Besides the general information, they would also be pardoned for their crimes. The fame she didn’t really care much about, not the respect either. The wealth, sure. But it was the fact that she could be absolved of her crimes that counted with her. Arayel had to leave a good impression on Higoht at least (she wasn’t sure it was possible with Adriel), so he could recommend that they Watchers spare her. Though he was friendly to behold and listen to, it did feel that there was an underlying tone of warning in his words.

She had been sitting quietly, looking around at new found allies, muttering the occasional word in Elvish and relaxing as much as an assassin and a former high ranking criminal can. When their orc leader wrapped up, she exhaled deeply. It hadn’t scared her off. It had the opposite effect, in fact. Before anyone could say anything, though, the little white haired shit stood and suggested they drink and get on with it. The joke he played on Ezra made her smirk though, but she shook her head. A second later, Ezra jumped up in a flurry of words and chest hair, boldly volunteering as the first to receive the antidote. Then he proceeded to upend a flask with something she assumed was alcohol in it and making a face afterwards. To her right sat Gulfim, the orc. Apparently she had not understood the joke Illeren had made until now. She giggled softly but tried to hide it. Although Arayel is an assassin and kills for a living, enjoying death and illegality, sleeps with both men and women, she does have a heart and that soft sound coming from the orc next to her went straight to it. She extended her hand and placed it on the woman’s shoulder, fixing her vivid eyes on hers and letting out a soft laugh herself. With a final squeeze, she stood and sighed. “Enough!” She stated loudly. “Let’s get it overwith.” She had no time to wait around for that excruciating pain! If that was what it took to become a member of the Serpent’s Gathering and thereby gaining her freedom, there was really only one way to go.

She was escorted down. Deeper below the earth. It was dim and the air was thick with the scent from the candles that provided the light they saw by. At first it looked more like she was to be sacrificed. The stone slab in the middle of the room looked uncomfortable, but she had a feeling that none of this was going to be comfortable. One reassuring thing was that the medicine man looked like he knew what he was doing. Arayel did as she was asked, displaying no fear at all but moving steadily and elegantly over to the stone slab and laying down. Her heart was beating faster and the adrenaline coursed through her veins. She took a deep breaths and closed her eyes, rolling up her sleeve. When the snake was brought forth, she had to looked at it. It was not the horrid monster people described it as. In fact, it was remarkably beautiful. It had shimmering, golden scales and eyes so dark. Fascinated, she looked at the snake and watched it curl back and-

“FUCK YOU! YOU SON OF A WHORE!” She screamed. The bite it self was not particularly painful. Not more than any other snakebite, she supposed. It was the venom. The venom that made your skin feel like it was on fire, blistering and falling off. A pain like this she had never experienced before. Nothing so intense, and nothing so mind-numbingly painful. At first it stung, then it got worse. It felt like her veins were on fire, like the blood had reached the boiling point. Then it spread, quickly. The wound itself was the epicenter of pain. A wound that pulsated with each heartbeat that then sent a wave of pain out through her body. It had now reached her chest and continuously spread. Arayel’s body twisted and turned in pain, her fingers tight and also twisted strangely. The snake was not there anymore. Someone had taken it away and (hopefully) put it back in it’s basket. What was only seconds felt like hours. The pain had spread to her extremities and every single fiber of her being experienced this fresh hell. When it felt like it reached it’s peak, someone managed to pry her jaws apart and pour a mushy substance into her mouth. They forced her mouth shut and made her swallow it, resulting in her body relaxing somewhat. After a few moments she wasn’t writhing, twisting and turning in pain anymore. There were beads of sweat on her skin as she lay there, shaking. She was still in violent pain but whatever it was they made her eat had dampened it. Her breaths grew quicker and she couldn’t quite keep her eyes open. The figures that stood over her spoke words to her, but she couldn’t make out what it was. Arayel tried to speak, but slowly slipped into unconsciousness.

“Wake up.” It sounded muffled, but she heard it. Slowly, her vivid eyes fixed on those above her. It still hurt. It felt as if her bones ached. Her muscles needed rest. She longed for soft pillows. She had survived. They helped her up and let her sit for a while, drinking water. How long she had been unconscious for, she didn’t know but it couldn’t be very long. It didn’t feel like it, anyway. When she was ready, she stood on her feet though they were unsteady. Her legs were wobbly and there was no way she was walking out of that room with all the grace she usually had. Thanking them didn’t feel right so instead Arayel turned her head and said: “Don’t kill any of the others.”.

The door creaked as it swung open and out stepped Arayel, heading up the stairs to get a drink and some sleep.


Arayel approves of Gully’s naivety. +5


Arayel approves of Bo’s leadership. +5


Arayel disapproves of that motherfuckin’ snake bite fuckthatshit.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

0.00 INK

Tane Solberg


After a final lurch from the grotesque mass of flailing flesh, its head came to a rest on the ground. Light faded from its bulbous eyes as blood drained from the massive wounds covering its back and legs. It smelled like swamp gas and death. He lowered his shield and took a look around the field. How many had they lost? Who had survived? Five had died in the battle, maybe more that he couldn't see. He whispered a soft prayer for the fallen as he put his flail to its mounting on his side. He turned to Laetya, who was literally covered in the gunk, and nearly gagged. Instead, he let out a hearty laugh and slapped her on the shoulder. "Well now that wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be! Mind you it smells worse than I thought." He spent a moment digging through his pouch and passed her a clean piece of cloth. He would not want it back.

Adriel, their fierce and fearless leader, also kind of a racist prick, finally acknowledged their worth. It sounded forced. He told them they were heading to Barkmere, though he'd never been there before he recalled it being a rather quaint border town. Maybe they'd let them take a bath. The angry blonde one needed it badly. At first glance it was... well it was hard to tell she was even human! Covered from head to toe in gunk, she looked like some kind of furious slime monster. He couldn't help but chuckle.





The march to Barkmere was long, quiet, and rather... Smelly. As they walked down the road, he swore he could see plants on the road side wilting with their approach. He'd long ago shoved some bits of cloth up his nose to protect him from the stench. After about ten minutes, they ceased working. But ahhhhh... those ten blessed minutes of relief from the stench of that horrid beast. He began to envy the young woman Gulfim and her bushel of fresh needles. Mayhaps they were granting her some measure of reprieve.

Finally they neared the gates of Barkmere where a familiar and friendly face waited for them. Sir Higoht the kind orc quickly ushered them into the Inn, where a medicine man and a full bath were waiting for them. Thank the creator. While most of the men had already hurried out of the dressing room and into the bath, he still was busy with the removal and cleaning of his armor. He hadn't gotten to horribly slimed, so it didn't take long to clean it all. His main concern was the shield. There were now three large gashes in the paint just under the cross. And a tooth. Must've come loose when he came in like a wrecking ball on the things head. He yanked the horrid fang loose and inspected it before pushing it into his bag.

At long last he stepped into the bathing room, a towel around his waist for modesty's sake and his shield on one arm, where his nude companions all lounged about in the warm waters. Ezra was boasting about this scar or that one, the bandaged man hiding in a corner where he could be alone with a bucket of water, and the loud blonde elf circling in the water like some kind of shark. He laughed at that too before stepping into the water and sitting down, the warm water barely reaching his pectorals. The warm water felt odd on old scars, particularly the one on his left side where he'd taken a spear. The scar twinged but eventually the muscles around it relaxed. He sighed happily and began lapping the warm water over the rest of his body, and that's when he noticed something odd. His head was covered in short stubble. Was his hair growing back? With conflicting thoughts as to his hair style, or lack of, he exited the baths and donned his casual wear. It was rather cold outside the bath, so he donned his coat as well.

He stepped into the meeting room second to none other than Higoht himself and found one of the few available seats. He barely fit. Higoht finally called this little meeing to order and told them of their next trial. Be bitten by the Styx snake and live. "Ironic. The key to the immunity was, all along, something else equally capable of killing us?" He gave a hearty chuckle which probably got him some odd looks. "Some did say the Creator has a sense of humor. I'm begging to think they were right." They would definitely have to find some other method for curing the disease. From the sounds of things, the antidote was nearly as hard to obtain as the snake, and it was unlikely that everyone would survive... Yes, an alternate method needed to be found. Silently, he prayed that they would succeed before the disease spread to his sister and Father in Airedale.

The loud elf was first to speak up, with a flourish of his sword he volunteered Ezra for the first bite. Ezra, seemingly unfazed, accepted the challenge with a drink from his flask. Or perhaps not his, he didn't seem to know what was actually inside of it. He seemed a bit to drunk to go first, or perhaps not drunk enough as he kept dipping back his head and drinking from the flask, so Arayel was actually the first to go. He offered a prayer for her and a smile as she was led down the stairs. Slowly he began to get anxious, and found himself sitting down by the door to the stairs. Then he heard it. "FUCK YOU! YOU SON OF A WHORE!" For a moment he thought she was yelling at him, his mother had been in fact, a whore, but she was likely just screaming at the pain in general. Styx snakes were no laughing matter. He heard the thrashing and screams, and suddenly everything went silent.

His heart sank, and those next few minutes were some of the longest in his life, but they finally ended when she came up through the door, looking... errr... haggard is the polite word. His whole body heaved with a sigh of relief, he couldn't stand the thought of losing a comrade outside of the battle, against a foe he could not defend against. "You gave us a scare there! It went dead quiet down there for five whole minutes... I feared for the worst." Arayel seemed in dire need of a drink and a bed, and after getting her arm over his shoulder, he managed to lead her to the bar. She seemed to content to stay there, so he busied himself with the rest of his comrades.

After that, Tane's role was more or less decided. Bo led them down the stairs to what could be death, and he led them to a stiff drink and a room. Some fared better than others, the man with the strange armor seemed more angry than anything, the loud elf simply swore the whole time, the bandaged man seemed awful and barely even spoke as he was led to a room, Ezra seemed more or less fine but he'd probably had enough to drink for the night, and the dark elf from before was seemed... Alive. More so than before. "You seem to have taken it better than most friend." he said simply as he passed the man a stiff drink. "Rooms are upstairs. There's an empty one on the left end of the hall."

He watched the man walk off and took a heavy breath. He was the last. Higoht came up to him and led him down the stairs he'd seen everyone else go down thus far. The room wasn't nearly as bad as he had imagined it to be, in fact it was quite nice. If you ignored the stone slab covered in restraints. Taking a second look, most of the restraints were broken, ripped apart by the thrashing of those they'd held down. He did as instructed and lay upon the slab, though there seemed little actual point seeing as the few remaining restraints didn't actually fit around his limbs. After those who felt uncomfortable leaving this giant unrestrained left the room, they brought out the snake. It was actually quite beautiful, scales that shimmered like gold in the dim light. Those glimmering scales lashed out in a flash and latched down on his arm with a sharp pinch.

For a moment, he wondered if that was really it, just this mild sting and burning sensation near the bite? That can't be right. People were down here screaming bloody murder. That's when he felt it. His chest tightened until he felt his ribs must surely break, his throat sealed up as if filled with wax, the rest of his body unrestrained was free to contort and twist at its newly found, sick will. He'd never experienced such full body overwhelming pain! As the air suddenly burst forth from his lungs he found himself laughing, harder and louder than ever before, filling the room with the echoing boom of his pained voice. Then quite suddenly everything went dark. The pain was gone, but so was everything else... he was floating in endless sea of black, devoid of feeling and light. But there he saw a massive serpent, coiled around the world, its black scales shimmering in this black sea, thick green smoke billowing from its gaping mouth, fangs bared at him, ready to strike and take from him what life he still clung to. Just as he felt the snake ready to lunge, to make a meal of him and end it all, he was unceremoniously lifted from the black sea, a world of color swirling around him as he broke the black water's surface.

He found himself back in the room, sitting upright on the stone slab and panting like a dog, his whole body covered in sweat. There was very little left of said slab, and a large section of it was clenched it his hands, broken and jagged. He let it fall to the floor as he fell back, trying to get some breath back in his body. The snake charmer and the medicine man let out a massive sigh of relief, down at the other end of the room. After a minute or so he sat back up and pushed himself to his feet. "Sorry about the rock. Thank you for your service." his voice was hoarse and it hurt to speak. As he shakily made his way up the stairs, he seriously considered taking up drinking. No way would it end well, but maybe it'd make his head hurt less. With these thoughts in his mind, he found himself curling up on the stairs and passing out.

Tane approves of the Illeren and Ezra dynamic, and secretly wonder's if they're gay... +5 for ship.
Tane also approves of Ezra's chest hair. Nice manscaping sir! +3
Tane is glad that Arayel survived the ordeal. Can't go having you all die on me can I? +5
Tane is oh so glad that Higoht had planned a bath. +4
Tane thinks the slime monster Gretchen should be a movie. +3

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy

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#, as written by Baby
Karaba Ibori wrote:
My dearest Belli,

I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the banana bread. I’m never the one who bakes it, so stop asking for the recipe.

On another note, it’s good that you are still alive and capable of defending yourself. I’m even a little jealous that you fought a great beast such as the Nidhogg. Was it really as big as you say? Did you carve some pieces for me? I’m sure you didn’t, because Kirikou only came back with money.

What is your soldiers wage anyway? Is it measly? Do you sleep on the ground? Closely with your unit? I hope not. I’d like some personal space.

Anyways, sorry for the short letter. I’ve been...busy. And busier still making some last minute plans which are noneofyourbusiness. So don’t ask Bell. Seriously. I won’t have the time to write to you, so you’ll be without my letters for a few days.

Goodbye, Belli.

Karaba.


Berlioz reread Karaba’s last letter to him as he prepared for their march in the morning. He was angry with her, but still worried sick. They had an agreement to write to each other as often as possible. How busy could she have been to not write back for so long? And what could it be that she wouldn’t tell him?

“Damn it, Karaba!” He cursed out loud, too deeply engrossed in his thoughts to repress his emotions from breaking his placid facade. He evened out his brows after taking a few breaths and stuffed the letter in his shorts’ pocket. When he put on his armor, he took a moment to practice a few thrusts with his lance, building momentum and anger with controlled, refined movements.

Up...down...center! ‘Karaba...’
Up. Down. Center! ‘We had an agreement.’
Up, down, center! “KARABA!” With one final thrust in his round of practice maneuvers, he turned on his heel and bashed his shield into his imaginary foe, causing a loud thud when the metal and wooden floor collided. His breathing was hitched again and he cleared his brow from the line of sweat racing down to his chin. Wherever they went that day, he knew he’d be in the front lines.




Merrilville was a disaster. He could smell the decay and abandon before he even reached the village’s limits. He had never witnessed the effects of the disease before and now a part of him wished he never did. It was an eerie quiet around the streets. There were bloody prints and broken doors, almost as if the village was ravaged by a maleficent group. He didn’t really know his neighbors well in Peri, but he knew he’d be devestated to see his own village like this. Broken and disgusting…

Berlioz stopped mid-march to examine a hut that looked a lot like his own. The straw walls were ripped into gaping holes, allowing him to see into a room. From the looks of it, it was a….a…- By the gods, this was somebody’s bedroom! Someone used to sleep in the same room that was covered in blood. The floor mat and blanket had traces of blue between the black liquid hardening between the cloth and straw. There was a small ragdoll ripped through the center with one of it’s black, button eyes missing. It was fashioned in a green dress, but any hair that it could have had was indistinguishable by the torn and twisted neck. Berlioz could only assume the room belonged to a little girl.

He had to stop this pestilence. Before, it was impersonal. Something he believed that would handle itself. Or at the very least, be handled by capable hands. Was he then bearing the weight of such responsibility? How could he stop this? How could he prevent the disease from reaching Peri?

“Ugh…” Berlioz groaned under his breath as he caught up to the group, discovering pieces of human bodies in a messy, gory pile by an alleyway. In the still silence, he was called to alert by struggled, choppy breathing. Bo positioned himself, ready for something that Berlioz wasn’t. Following suit, he stiffened up and brought his lance out in front of him.

A shriek through the alleys and wolves, or at least, humans that looked and moved like wolves, charged towards Bo. He fended them off with admirable strength and expertise, and commanded the rest to destroy the diseased and find survivors. Berlioz wasn’t sure how he would measure twenty minutes, especially since he easily lost his sense of time in battle, but he wanted to prove that he could be useful in this campaign. Sickened with it all or not, it was time to move.

He saw a pack of the infected running down an alleyway towards the group and took the opportunity to fight in his best environment; a straight line. With only a tense of his thigh muscles as a warning, Berlioz went from standing still to a deadly rampage in a matter of moments. He left behind a huge trail of dust as he set his lance mid-thigh and started to impale and trample the monstrosities in the small alleyway, using his purposeful movements to set his full weight onto whatever survived his steel.

Berlioz likes the way Bo sets an example. +4 approval.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin Character Portrait: Kiske Kirill

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“Eh?! WHAT NOW?! WHAT THAT?!” Illeren woke with a start, sitting upright from his bed, his sheets tossed every which direction and half the pillows sitting across the room from him. His eyes were half open as a mighty yawn escaped his mouth as he simply sat there for a moment. He slowly made his way off the bed, practically dragging his feet behind him as he made his way to...where the hell was he going? He stopped, peering around the room once more. He needed to wake up before he could do anything, but apparently his body was already doing that for him as a massive headache and familiar sensation in his stomach forced him into fight or flight mode. He shoved a hand to his mouth as he quickly peer around the room and spotted a bucket. He dropped to his knees, shoving his head into it and letting what felt like his entire stomach empty into it. He heaved more than a couple of times, finally peering up and wiping what was left of his supper or lack thereof off his face. “Nevah again...I swear...I’mma give up drinkin..” Illeren peered to his left where a dresser sat, and on the edge was a flask of some sort. He reached up for it, uncapping it and giving it a slight sniff. Whatever it was, it was strong...and strong was good. He placed his back against the wall and took a nice long drink from it, releasing it with a sigh of content followed by a rather loud belch. “Tomorrow...I swear...I’mma give up drinkin.” He stated to no one in particular.

He took another couple of long swigs, feeling his headache starting to subside now that the alcohol had been reintroduced to his system. There wasn’t enough left to get him right and properly drunk, but just enough to stave off hangover symptoms. Once he finished the small flask, he tossed it on the floor and let his head hit the wall behind him lightly, staring up at the ceiling for a few moments. “Right…” He said lazily as he got up from his sitting position. He looked around for a bucket of water, customary for a morning wash up in these places as a slow look of realization hit him. He looked down at the bucket, noticing that it was nearly full...he hadn’t thrown up that much. He grimaced, reaching a hand up to his hair and feeling the cow licks that had it flowing every which way.

“Welp...time tah dunk mah head!” Illeren stated as he made his way to the door and quickly exited, looking down the hall and noticing a single caretaker looking at him. They looked at each other for a moment before Illeren thought it was getting awkward. “Dah fook yah lookin at?!” Illeren stated, thinking that the human was some kind of racist. The man simply pointed and Illeren looked down before giving a nod. “Right...well obviously that’s a reason to stare. I’mma get some pants!”




Illeren smacked the side of his head, trying to get the last of the water out of his ear as his slightly matted down hair proved an indication of what he had just done. Ran into the bath, literally dunked his head in, and ran off laughing like an idiot.

Good times.

Finally his ear popped and the last of the water drained out. Finally. Illeren thought to himself as he double and triple checked the straps on his armor as he walked through the halls. Illeren couldn’t claim to be responsible about...well anything, but when it came to his armor and weapons, you would be hard pressed to find a fault in them. His armor was tightly put together to the point where it made virtually no sound as he walked. A by-product of his time as a cavalier he supposed, and his weapon was already sharpened and ready for the day. He passed by a couple of people on the way, his hand reaching quickly and grabbing a carrot from their basket as he passed with the couple being none the wiser. Once they were out of sight, he chomped down on the vegetable, munching loudly as he walked in on the gathering of heroes.

Bo explained what they were doing today while Illeren enjoyed his breakfast like some kind of ADD rabbit, his eyes constantly darting every which way looking for something to supplement the carrot with. When he got around to introducing their new addition though, even Illeren paused as he looked at the man, finishing off the carrot and swallowing just enough to make sure his words were somewhat understandable. “Well what tha fook is that thing? I mean, look at this guy!” Illeren swallowed a bit of his carrot between words. “Are we ‘irin’ court jesters now?!” Illeren pointed at him with a small piece of bread. “Cause this fooker looks like ‘e face fooked a wet tapestry!” Illeren paused, looking at his hand.

“Oh ‘ey!” He exclaimed as he munched on the pastry like a happy child.




The trip to Merrilville was relatively boring as everyone still seemed to be in their own little world. Illeren managed to fill the time with more of his own little folk songs which, despite their vulgarity, actually sounded better than his natural speech as he actually spent the time to form his words.

“So what do yah do with a wonderful whore? Yah take her upstairs and lock the door! Yah bounce, yah plough, yah get turned around! Yah hump, yah squeeze, yah enjoy the sound! Until it comes, the time of payment, and ya’ll are left sayiiiiiiiiin...Yah don’t have the coins, after bustin yah loins, so ya’ll just ain’t payiiiiiiiiiin!” Illeren pretended to play some drums, making the sounds to go along with them. “So they scream, and they shout, which would be swell...if yah weren’t askin…” Illeren stopped for a moment. “Damn, what’s that smell?!”

Illeren looked around at the carnage that was surrounding him, having not even bothered to notice it through his little illusion of happy revelry. The air and people around him were silent as the signs of death and destruction hung over everything. Illeren grimaced, mainly due to the stench and sight rather than the thought of what happened. Illeren didn’t bother commenting this time, leaving his humor somewhat detached from the situation as the signs of what happened here became more prevalent when the corpses started showing up. Illeren crouched near one, lifting up a flap of skin and recognizing teeth marks, too big to be a wolf or something along those lines. “Fookin’ ghouls.” Illeren stated, grabbing his sword from its sheath and spinning it a couple of times.

They made their way farther into the village, Illeren twirling his sword every so often but not necessarily walking in a ready stance. He was more than fast enough to deal with anything that came at them, he was more or less trying to see what exactly they looked like. No sooner did he think this when three ghouls appeared in front of them, screaming and making a beeline for the group. Bo stepped forward, fending off all three with a mighty push of his weapon. He barked out orders for them all to spread out, search for survivors and eliminate the plague ridden. He pushed one of the creatures down the well, hearing it scream all the way down. Illeren looked off in a couple of directions, hearing screams come from nearly all directions.

Immediately people were starting to do whatever it was that they did. Laetya took off in a direction and Illeren contemplated following...for more than a couple reasons as he tilted his head before shaking it and reminding himself of the current situation. Gulfim seemed to chase after her for a second, and he was about to watch her leave too, but then she stopped and seemed to hesitate, much to Illeren's dismay. Why's she stoppin? Maybe If I smack her on the tush she'll run off like a bronco! Illeren gave it some more thought before deciding that would be something to save that idea for the future, if only because the situation could rapidly deteriorate into him getting a face full of sword.

He watched as Berloiz charged in magnificent fashion towards another group of the plague ridden, and Illeren bust a gut laughing as he walked over to Ezra and nudged him with his elbow. “Oi...oi oi oi…” He pointed at Berloiz with his sword. “We totally ‘ave to call ‘im Thunda Thighs now…” Illeren laughed harder as an arrow flew past him and into the waiting head of a ghoul. Illeren looked back towards the archer with a penchant for overindulging in face gear and gave a sigh. “FINE! Alright! I get it! I’mma go kill things now!”

Illeren strode forward, looking for anything to engage and decided to pick a path at random, jogging at a steady pace down a street until a group of four plague carriers came running on all fours towards him. Illeren gave a smile, grasping his sword in two hands, slowly wrapping his fingers around the hilt. “Ya’ll my first challengers! Oh! And this time, there’s no silly thing like ‘eights to get in tha way!” They simply snarled and screamed in response, Illeren’s smile was practically beaming, readying his swing as the lead beast lunged at him.

“Ooooooh...What do yah do with a wonderful whore...”


Illeren slightly approves of Bo's strength +1
Illeren slightly approves of Laetya walking away +1
Illeren slightly disapproves of Gull's hesitation -1
Illeren slightly approves of coming up with a future plan regarding Gull's hesitation +2
Illeren approves of THUNDER THIGHS! +5
Illeren slightly approves of Kir getting his ass in gear +1

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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"Surprisingly not the worst hangover I've ever had..."
Higoht had gathered the group in the lobby and explained their next mission. Travel to Merrilville, investigate plague, test out new immunity. Got it. Bo then introduced them to...something. Honestly Ezra was too fuzzy from the night before to register if Kiske was a joke or not. Either way, Bo implied taking care of the clown wasn't Ezra's responsibility so he mostly just stopped caring.

Thankfully the cool morning air and the lack of anyone speaking too loudly allowed Ezra to focus and recuperate his senses. He munched on some jerky as they walked, and drank almost all of his water. Of course, no hangover cure ritual would be complete without Brehg's Miracle Mix, a bitter, pale power that smelled something like oats and cooling steel, and tasted worse. Still, nothing Ezra knew of cured hangovers better. It's manufacturer, Brehg, claimed it had something to do with "natural minerals". Whether or not that was the case, it always worked so Ezra always brought a container of the stuff whenever he went on a journey.

Merrilville was depressing to look at. The Pestilence had hit it hard, and the party could smell the death and rot and decay a mile away. Higoht ushered them towards the town center. Ezra drew his blade and began whispering the igniting words beneath his breath, causing pale orange flames to flicker across his blade. Bo cautioned them just as the infested shrieked and rushed towards the group. Ezra felt a ruffling at his back and spun around to see the other orc woman that wasn't Cutie stumbling back and mumbling an apology.

"You're fine. Eyes up, there's more of them."

Ezra turned back to the sight of Bo tossing one of the infected into a well before ordering them to search for survivors and return in twenty minutes. Simple enough. Illeren then pointed to Bull, quite literally bulldozing his way through a mass putrid flesh and claws.

"Heh, Thunder Thighs. Imagine the songs the bards would sing." Ezra then glanced around, ready to step into the action, when he caught sight of Gretchen dashing off alone. He sighed, and debated going off on his own, before eventually deciding to follow her.

Big mistake. Ezra found himself distinctly apart from the others now, and just as he rounded a corner he presumed Gretchen had turned, he gazed upon a rotting, infected horse galloping towards him. Shit. Ezra ducked to the side, held his sword out, braced himself, and hoped for the best. He closed his eyes at the impact, but opened them to the ear-splitting, guttural screeching that emanated from the horse. He had cleaved it's front and back left legs, and now the beast lay in pain on the ground, two it's legs cut off and two shattered from the fall. Ezra heard a more human screech and turned to look at a mass off infested turning towards him, likely drawn by the sounds of the dying horse. They had been banging and smashing into a door that Ezra could only assume someone was hiding behind. His first thought was "survivor", but he had lost sight of Gretchen so it might as well have been her as well. Either way, roughly half of them broke away from the door and started sprinting towards him.

Ezra stood, already speaking the words and allowing the magic to flare up inside him. He ran his blade across the ground, drawing a smoldering line between him and the charging monsters before stepping back and readying himself. A more intelligent opponent would have easily recognized the trap that the Blackguard had set, but these were simple beasts now, nothing more. The leader of the pack ran head first into the smoldering line, and as he did, white hot flames spiraled up out of it, engulfing the rotting husk in a pillar of intense fire. When the flames retreated into the earth, the monster was nothing but blackened bone and crumbling, ash-like flesh. The others actually hesitated for a split second, but that was all Ezra needed. His blade flashed out like a bolt of lightning and into the nearest monster's neck. It's eyes popped out as fire rushed up and down it's spine, frying it from the inside.

Two more were on Ezra in an instant, no longer stunned by the heat. The first brought it's claws down in a wide arc, which gave Ezra enough time to get his blade in between them and himself. The rotted flesh was sliced through like butter, disarming the beast. Ezra lashed out with a kick to what had been the woman's knee, sending it crumpling to the ground. He spun around, lodging his blade into the torso of the second. It howled a confused and agonized howl as Ezra placed his off hand onto it's forehead and a searing brand of heat burned into it's skull. It toppled, it's brain melted as Ezra kicked in the skull of the other, still struggling to rise.

Still two more stood between Ezra and the pack at the door. They lunged, and Ezra raised his blade, impaling the first through the face, but losing his blade as the corpse fell to the ground. The second infected tackled him, just as he raised his arms to shield his face from the teeth. Talons dug into his forearms, biting mostly his armor, but he felt the pressure. He kneed the creature in the side, forcing it off of him. As it rolled, a claw caught Ezra in the jaw, tearing his skin from his chin up his jawline to his right ear. Ezra smashed one fist into the creature's face as he clutched the wound with his other hand. The beast raged against Ezra's weight as he pinned it down, continuously slamming his fist into it's head. At last, it's skull caved and he felt the last vestiges of life leave it's body. He gritted his teeth as he hastily cauterized the wound, leaving a gnarly scar.

"Shit, this is gonna take a week to get rid of! Bastard!" Ezra spit on the corpse before recovering his blade and setting his sights on the pack tearing into the door. "Hey uglies, fresh meat right here, come get some!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Gulfim Gragba Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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#, as written by iCakez
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Though she could hardly remember a night’s sleep equal to the one she had just had, she was quickly reminded of what happened the night before. She had to recuperate from the amount of energy her muscles had used when they cramped up during the Initiation. Yet, her legs swung over the side of the bed and she sat up, dark hair a mess, shoulders sore and eyes tired. Arayel cracked her neck, sighed heavily and stood up. The covers fell away and the cool air hit her naked form, goosebumps rising on her skin.
It was still early and that meant she had the time for her morning routine. She got dressed, cleaned and sharpened her weapons, brushed her hair (opting to tie it up in a ponytail after much contemplation) and finished it all off by tying the red sash around her waist and equipping her weapons.
When she was satisfied with herself she ventured out the door, down the stairs and went straight for breakfast.

The room still smelled of tobacco, ale, wine and people. It probably always did. There were a few people there, but it was quiet. Elegantly, she strode through the room and politely asked for something to eat. The barkeep hurried himself and quickly found something for her. She was served bread and cheese, an apple and some water. It wouldn’t keep the hunger away for very long, but it’d give her some energy if nothing else. “Thank you.” Arayel said sweetly and paid the man who let his eyes linger on her for a little longer than he should. Not that she minded at all.
The water was nice and cold, the bread wasn’t too hard and she only had to cut away a little bit of the cheese. The apple was the best part. Red, sweet, not soft and mealy but just right. Arayel ate with pleasure, studying the people who were also sitting in the room. As the minutes ticked by, more woke up and piled in. Some looked chipper and ready for the day while others looked worse for wear. Some were shaking and immediately ordered an ale or a glass of wine to start. Rinárwin marbos.* She thought to herself. What a terrible thing it must be to wake up and find yourself craving alcohol. Some people simply can’t function without it. What a sad and miserable life to lead.

The shuffling of feat on wooden floors and the glimpse of someone familiar tore her from her thoughts. She stood slowly and exited the room, heading for the lobby to receive instructions along with her comrades. They had a new destination and apparently a new addition to their group. So many colours. Another brain to pick at. And this one might be very interesting. Perhaps even too much?




Merrilville. Disease. Stagnation and disrepair. Those were the initial impressions. Vivid eyes darted around the scene in search of movement or potential dangers. The group made sure to stay away from narrow alleys and such. While she took in the sight of it all and wondered if everyone who had lived here, was in fact dead or if anyone had gotten away. With Arayel it wasn’t the top priority with her, if there was killing about to be done. The corpses that lay around the place were in various states of decay, but all of them foul smelling. Or was it just the air here? Heavy and thick. She drew her blade slowly and moved to the right. She had heard the ragged breathing and though they weren’t fast, the diseased appeared suddenly. Higoht their fearless leader moved faster than Arayel would have thought he could and blocked the path, pushing them back before giving them orders. Apparently the noise had stirred the plagued and more came creeping forth from the dark. It was only now that she realised she was smirking again. 20 minutes.

Some of the bodies were missing parts. Some of them had large chunks missing. They were bites. The plagued ate each other. The thought mad her stomach turn for a moment before she regained her composure. Some didn’t even look human anymore. Laetya, the orc had already rushed into battle. For a moment it looked like Gulfim was going to follow her, but she only took a step. Doubt was plain on her face. Arayel put her blade in the other hand and shook her right hand, to loosen it up before repeating the same thing with her left. She watched Berlioz charge with his lance - which was a fine sight - and cracked her neck. Arayel hardly noticed Kir. That wasn’t strange in itself since he was pretty unremarkable, but she usually noticed the small things. As she steadily grew restless, she caught a smirk on Vasha’s face, that matched her own. He was really quite interesting.

Alas there was no more time to stand idly by. She was itching for a fight. For a moment she had considered rushing after Gretchen, but it seemed that situation was under control. Or, it probably never was with that girl, but somewhat perhaps. Still smirking, she slid into the shadows of an alley and decided to move left and circle back to their original position. There were sounds of battle ringing from the village but it was quiet enough for her to hear her own breathing. Her blade was perfectly balanced in her hand and her steps made no sound as she walked. Turning a corner, she spotted three of the infected with their backs to her, hunched over a corpse that was too large to be human. She inched closer, hearing the sounds of the creatures feasting and the smell of it. When she was close enough, Arayel let her sword float through the air and heard the wind sing off the blade just before she brought it down. It went straight through the back of the neck and came out through the neck, crushing the larynx entirely. The rush she felt in the same moment was indescribable. Exciting. The two remaining creatures quickly became aware of her presence and charged at her. Arayel danced to the right and brought the blade down across it’s back. It fell and stayed down to recover. The other creature waited. It clawed at the air and Arayel smiled, enjoying it. She took three steps back and feigned retreat which brought the plagued ex-human to attack. It came at her with arms stretched out, claws razor sharp and searching for soft skin to tear. With a flick of her wrist she took the left arm off and fluently brought the blade low, but didn’t move. She pushed it through the soft rotted skin under the chin of the creature and watched it come out of the top of the head. Arayel hadn’t moved so she stood there with a ragdoll leaning against her. She sighed and watched the last wounded one trying to stand.

She let her kill fall and withdrew her blade from it’s flesh, walking towards the last with slow steps, dragging it out. Most of what made it human seemed to have left it, but it one thing was certain. It knew it was about to die. Arayel kicked it onto its back and placed a boot on its chest. It howled and screeched, grabbing at her leg. Watching it for a moment, she had half expected some measure of pity in her heart. No. Instead she pushed her glade through its neck and watched the body go limp.

Turning around and flicking the blade to get some of the blood off, she looked around and made sure there was no immediate danger. "He did say something about survivors…” She would start with the nearest building. In situations like these were she was alone, she was glad she fought with shortswords.

*Rinárwin marbos = Horrible disease