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Kir

Militia

0 · 424 views · located in Tegea

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

Description

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"I'll do what I’m told."





INTRODUCTION



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"I’m… not important."

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“They told me to."


[B A S I C S]
Nicknames: Rags, Wraps, Face
Gender: Male
Age: 28
Race: Human
Origin: The town of Sharzhad in the Kingdom of Byda, in a part of the desert far-removed from any real resources or trade routes.
Voice: Quiet, hesitant, and muffled slightly by the state of his face and what he’s wearing over it. It has a low sound and a deferential tone to it.
Class: Militia
Offensive/Defensive: Offensive
Magical Affinity: Low






PHYSICALITY



[A P P E A R A N C E]
Hair: Dirty, dark brown, and cut messily short.
Eyes: Brown
Complexion: A tanned tone riddled with the remnants of his abuse. Dark spots left behind by particularly bad bruises and little scars all over.
Height: 5’8
Build: He tends to be on the muscular side of things. Whether he’s healthily filled out and stocky or a deteriorating bit of flesh that used to be muscular though depends on how much he’s had to eat recently, and prison isn’t exactly known for feeding people well.
Weight: 160 lbs.
Body Markings: Bruises and scars, lots of them. He may have a birthmark somewhere, but it’d probably be hard to tell now.

[D E S C R I P T I O N]
Given a different attitude, Kir would be someone who could easily intimidate the vast majority of other people. He stands at a decent, if not especially tall, height and filled it out rather well with muscle. As a raider, even an abused one, he was fed rather well to keep him strong enough to keep going and participate, so he managed to avoid any problems developing such a body that other people might have had. He has skin that lacks any sign of comfort, either from the sun or from other people, but that would just make him look more experienced and rugged. Even his constantly covered face could be put to good use, potentially leaving nothing but glaring eyes for people to look at when encountering such a person.

Unfortunately for him, Kir does not have such an attitude, he has the complete opposite of it. He comes across as scared and anxious, with his eyes always darting about if not fixed on the ground and with his usual posture being one that takes up as little space as possible with his extremities kept tight and his body hunched over slightly. And then there’s his face, which he always keeps covered. Underneath whatever he’s currently using for such a thing, you mostly have an average looking man: head a little rounded and rather distinct brow lines notwithstanding. But then there’s the part that ruins it, and the reason why he keeps it hidden. The lower left part of his face is, to put it simply, a mess. There really isn’t a cheek there, but the skin from right above and below the cheek being tightly stitched together to replace a cheek that was once there. Part of his lips were caught in the stitching, so the opening to his mouth is roughly half as big as it should be, though at least you manage to avoid seeing what that half of the inside looks like this way.



Moral Alignment Chaotic Compassionate.

MENTALITY

[P E R S O N A L I T Y]
Kir does not have what anyone would consider a healthy mindset; the most positive spin you could actually put on it is to say he has a severe lack of confidence. In reality he not only has such a lack of confidence, but puts precisely zero value on his own life (possibly even less) and his own wants and needs. He’d probably be suicidal if killing himself didn’t take effort and he would have just let himself waste away if the people around him didn’t always interrupt it. Though it doesn’t take much to do so, he considers himself so inferior that pretty much anyone who attempts to express authority over him will have him defer to them if he isn’t already under the sway of someone else.

What actually gives him this highly negative view of himself is the inner conflicts he’s had with himself, and the part of him that’s always come out on top when it came down to it. Kir doesn’t want to hurt people, or always do what people say, or even keep living, but whenever a situation comes along where he could choose not to hurt someone (maybe even help them!), or disobey someone, or kill himself, another part of him always wins out: fear. He’s always been afraid of something (typically a someone), and his fears have always lead him to go against what he actually wanted. Whenever he doesn’t want to do something someone has told him to do, he’s always too afraid to go against them because of what they might do to follow through on his desires. This has led to him trying to rationalize away what he’s done rather than actually face it, oftentimes resulting in attempts at dehumanizing people he’s killed or saying that they would have died anyway and he helped them by making it quick.

[F E A R S]
People: Kir’s not had the greatest experience with other people so far in his life, and he doesn’t exactly have the hopeful optimism to expect people to suddenly be better than they were before.

Trees: In case you weren’t aware, trees are rare in the desert, and those that do grow have few branches and provide little cover. The trees in the other parts of the world, though, just seem like the perfect place for things to be hiding in, ready to drop down the moment he walked under them.

Blood: It freaks him out and reminds him about how he’s killing people. He has trouble looking at it, and he’s sometimes even driven to vomiting by the combination of the sight and smell of it.

Gretchen: She’s loud, mean, scary, and a bully. When they worked together in the same group, she would always try to get people’s blood on him. He honestly thought she would just outright kill him one day just because she could.

[Q U I R K S]
  • When he’s not consciously trying to be as quiet as possible to avoid attracting anyone’s attention ever, Kir can be found muttering to himself. It’s mostly unintelligible to someone else, but he’s still reassuring himself about things that might have happened quite some time ago.
  • He tries his very best to make sure that no one is able to actually see any part of his face beyond the area around his eyes. Doesn’t matter what he’s doing, if people are around and might be able to see him he’s going to have something covering it. Try to take it off and he’ll have a little freak out and try to use his hands to do it.
  • He eats his food by tearing off small pieces of whatever it is with his fingers, rather than taking bites. This both lets him keep his wrappings on and avoids the problems he has with chewing and opening his mouth too wide.
  • He would really like it if there was a strict no touching policy. He doesn’t want to and pretty much never will touch anyone of his own free will, and he tries to avoid coming into physical contact with others as well. If someone does touch him, he’ll flinch away and get really uncomfortable.

[E T H I C | V A L U E S]
He doesn’t want to hurt you, he really doesn’t, but he needs to, because if he doesn’t bad things will happen. He’ll try and make it quick though.

[A G E N D A]
Being an upstanding member of society with some sort of legitimate, peaceful work far away from others would be nice. That, of course, isn’t going to happen, so finding somewhere safe is what he’d like. Helping people would also be nice, but he doesn’t exactly have the best record for it, or the right attitude to even approach people.

[L I K E S]
    • Fresh meat. As a raider, he always got at least some of the meat from the butchered animals of the people they robbed. He liked horse the best, though so did everyone else, and he has a problem saying no to people who ask for it a certain way.
    • For someone who’s always afraid, the dark isn’t so bad as far as he’s concerned. It’s harder for people to see him, and easier for him to get away if they do. He’ll sometimes even take off his headdress to cool off once the sun goes down and he doesn’t think anyone will notice him.
    • He likes to watch birds flying around and making their noises. It’s nothing about the beauty of their feathers or the melodies of their songs, it’s just something he can look at and watch that’s up and won’t hurt him for looking at it.

[D I S L I K E S]
    • Blood is just universally awful. The sight of it, the smell, the copper taste, the feel of it, and, most importantly, where it comes from.
    • Bandits, because no matter how much time he’s spent with them or being one can make them come across any better. In fact, that time spent with them probably made him dislike them more.
    • Soldiers. They’re bandits but organized and with better stuff. They also tend to dislike bandits like him.
    • Dogs don’t like him, so he doesn’t like them. That they’re loud and vicious beasts naturally doesn’t help.





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

You have a limit of 20 stars.




PROWESS

[N A T U R A L | T A L E N T]
  • Good Eye: [Average] ★★★☆☆☆ The deserts a harsh place of monotony, and it can sometimes be hard to differentiate sand-colored people in sand-color clothing from the miles and miles of sand and the distortion caused by the heat. Thankfully, Kir’s got a good set of eyes to let him do just that.
  • Cowering: [Competent] ★★★★☆☆ Turns out cowards are good at cowering. He can bury himself in sand or cover himself in brush faster than anyone he’s ever met and he’s really good at avoiding being seen by people.
  • Punching Bag: [Average] ★★★☆☆☆ Kir’s not had the most comforting life working for bandits all this time. They tend to like picking on someone, and he was timid enough to be that someone. As such, he’s gotten really used to pain and abuse.

[C L A S S | S K I L L S]
  • Archer: [Strong] ★★★★★☆ Kir’s been practicing with a bow since he was young, and he’s stuck with it since to best keep away from all the other people and their blood. The better he got, the farther away the bloody and violent things were happening. And, when people got closer, he got good at quick shots performed while running away.
  • Ranging: [Poor] ★★☆☆☆☆ He’s traveled the desert enough times to know how to find his way and survive well enough in them. He can identify the plants, the animals, where good spots to camp are, and what to do during sandstorms. Outside the desert, though? Well, at least he’s good at lighting fires.
  • Fletching: [Average] ★★★☆☆☆ After you reached a certain age in Sharzhad, you made your own arrows or you wound up loosing junk from your bows. Kir actually liked doing it. It was busywork that took his mind off of other things and at the end of it he had something new.

[W E A K N E S S E S]
  • Milquetoast: Have we mentioned this about Kir yet? That he’s afraid of lots of things and that he’s a really submissive pushover? Because those traits of his don’t just suddenly go away when something’s getting closer and closer to killing him.
  • Hesitant: He can never just lock an arrow and let it go, he always has seems to need to psyche himself up to it. The only time he doesn’t need to is when he’s panicking, and that comes with its own problems of inaccuracy and ineffectualness.
  • Blood: My blood, your blood, his blood: doesn’t matter whose it is he is really damn uncomfortable around it, which tends to get in the way while you’re busy bloodying and being bloodied.
  • Dependent: Kir isn’t someone who can make decisions for himself: he goes where he’s told when he’s told without so much as a word. If left alone, he’d probably just wind up running into the wilderness to die somewhere, or just sitting in one place until he keeled over.






ARMAMENT


[A R M O R]
Does a cloth shirt count as armor if it’s a little thick? How about if it’s only covering part of his torso?

[C L O T H I N G]
He generally wears what people give him to wear, but he does like to wear blue and white, not that he’d ever get to wear something dyed. Typically, he’s given a rough set of loose, cloth trousers and maybe a tunic if it starts getting colder. Regardless of what else he’s wearing though, he will always try to have his face covered, usually with a large bit of cloth worked into some manner of headdress.

[I T E M S]
Other than his clothing and weapons, he doesn’t have or carry much. Tools and materials for fletching and a waterskin are pretty much the extent of it.

[T O K E N S]
Eagle feathers.

[P R I M A R Y | W E A P O N]
Weapon Name: None
Weapon Type: Recurve Bow
Length: 3.8’ when strung.
Weight: Light
Origin: A hand-me-down from his sister, who gave it to him when she found a better one. He’s not exactly sure where she got it, but it was probably taken from a victim of one of her raids.

Weapon Type: Knives
Length: 16 in. total with 9 in. blades.
Weight: Very light
Origin: He’s had these since he raided for Sharzhad, and he was given them after he lost the knife he had before.





BACKGROUND


[M A R I T A L | S T A T U S]
Nope

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

    | F i r u z | [ 10 ]
His father, who died somewhere in the desert during a raid and was buried in the sand. Kir was too young at the time to have really formed much of a connection or even an impression with him, though maybe he’ll trip over his bones one day.

    | H e t t i e | [ 75 ]
Dear old mom, probably the only person he’s ever met who hadn’t abused him at some point. She was killed when Sharzhad was attacked and Kir ran away. He’s sort of glorified her from that.

    | K u r a m | [ 30 ]
Kir’s much more talented older sister whose massive shadow he will never escape from even after her death. While she wasn’t exactly nice to him–routinely kicking or slapping him and being responsible for a number of his scars and bruises–she did make sure no one else was too abusive towards him. That gives her a positive image in his mind no matter what else she did.

[O C C U P A T I O N]
Bandit. He was part of a roaming group of them who would attack caravans and travelers on the desert roads. He’s never done anything else.

[S O C I A L | R A N K]
Impoverished criminal. All he has he carries around with him, and the authorities probably don’t have many kind things to say about or do to him.

[O P I N I O N S]
  • Humans: His own, and the people he’s spent most of his time dealing with. He doesn’t have a very good view of them.
  • Elves: He’s had little personal experience with them, but they were occasionally targets of bandits in the desert. They don’t seem that different than humans, just prettier.
  • Orcs: He’s never really met one. He’s heard they’re big and strong and like killing humans though, so he’s not exactly looking forward to meeting any. That said, he hasn’t actually experienced any of their wrongdoings, so he weirdly considers them a bit safer than the others.
  • The Serpents Gathering: They’re certainly better than the other groups of people he’s spent his life with, and fighting against a plague certainly sounds better than robbing people. Hopefully it’s members are better than the people he’s dealt with too.

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

    | O r c B r o | [ 40 ]
He makes Kir jumpy just due to how loud he is, but he hasn’t done anything so far to inspire any great deal of fear. He’s definitely better than the other group leaders he’s had over the years.

    | A d r i e l | [ -20 ]
He likes going on and on about humans, but so far it’s just been generalized words. And Kir can't exactly disagree with what he says. Though trees certainly aren't getting less scary knowing the assassin loves them so much.

    | G r e t c h e n | [ -90 ]
He’s seriously contemplating running away one night just to get away from her. If he’s killed because of it that would just mean he managed to get even farther away from her.

    | T a n e | [ 30 ]
Tane, as intimidating of a presence as he physically is, he seems kind enough; kinder than pretty much anyone else has been. Even so, there is a tinge of fear found in his opinions of bandits.

    | E z r a | [ 20 ]
He tells nice stories and leaves Kir alone.

    | L a e t y a | [ 0 ]
She hasn't hit him yet, though she doesn't seem like a very patient person.

    | B e r l i o z | [ 10 ]
He doesn't seem to have noticed Kir very much.

    | G u l f i m | [ 25 ]
She's quiet.

    | A r a y e l | [ -10 ]
She keeps looking at him. And approaching him. And asking him about things that he doesn't want to talk about. He'd really like it if she stopped but he doesn't exactly have the will to ask her to.

    | A u r i l e i t h | [ -5 ]
He can feel her looking at him, even if he never actually sees her doing it.

    | I l l e r e n | [ -20 ]
He's loud and is prone to sudden outbursts that freak him out. Seriously, he just shouts with absolutely no warning about cocks.


[B I O | H I S T O R Y]
No one ever cares about the remote human towns, not the capital, not the queen, not the Orcs or the Elves, not the other remote towns. Hell, some of the people in a particular town don’t even particularly care about where they live, choosing to simply rot rather than bother with the futility of it all. Byda, “where people are happy,” is only a happy place if you ignore most of it. The rest is people living somewhere in the desert that was, at some point, used for something but now exists as little more than a bunch of decrepit buildings and hungry people. Bandits and thieves aren’t born, they’re made, and nowhere else is as good at making them as Byda. That said, Kir wasn’t even born into one of these old towns that stopped having a use long ago, he was born into a town founded by bandits for the sake of banditry. Funnily enough, that meant that the people living there were better fed and better supplied than the typical desert shithole; they didn’t waste time trying to get legitimate work that didn’t actually exist.

Sharzhad wasn’t the most child-friendly place to be, at least, not if you wanted to raise healthy, decent children. Every child, once they were old enough to walk and hold something heavier than a stone, began to be taught how to better partake in the things that don’t belong to them. As one would expect, being raised to be a bandit isn’t rife with soft words and coddling parents: children with broken noses and covered in bruises outnumbered those without by a magnitude. Only those with real talent could avoid such things (they were also the one’s inflicting it on everyone else), and Kir had no such luck. His older sister, Kuram was the real star of the family, outshining pretty much everyone else close to her age, and she never let her little brother forget it. She was never outright cruel, but she did enough damage both physically and mentally; Kir grew up to be complete push over with no confidence. Sadly, such a thing doesn’t lead to happiness in Sharzhad, as he found out when one of the other boys took a mace and swung it right into his jaw. They managed to put the bones back in order afterwards, but such a large portion of skin had been torn off that he was left with a leathery flap instead of a cheek and half of his lips.

For the sake of honor and maintaining their respect, her sister broke their legs beyond any repair available so far out into the desert, turning them into burdens on the town and thus condemning them to be killed by their parents. Such a fate would have awaited Kir as well, but when confronted as such he simply went on almost incomprehensibly about how he didn’t need his lips or his teeth or his face. His eyes were still good and he could still string a bow so he could still work. And so, after the other boys had been dealt with and properly buried, he was put back to work training with his bow. Only now he made sure to always wear a headdress to cover what had become of his face. And, when he was about twelve, he was old enough to go out with his headdress and his bow to shoot arrows at people instead of targets.

On his first few outings, he basically served as a body to stand around and make the group look more intimidating and maybe fire some arrows in the general direction of the people being robbed as he closed his eyes. He’s not sure if any of his arrows managed to do anything productive, but the people screamed all the same. Eventually, he stopped needing to close his eyes and watched what was happening–he started worrying that people would notice if he didn’t. So as they approached their target, he’d start muttering to himself about how nothing was wrong, they weren’t people, it wasn’t going to hurt, everything would be fine. And they were fine. Sure the people died and Kir had actually been responsible for some of their deaths, but they died relatively quickly and he didn’t look too long at the bodies or see the blood, and that was enough.

Unfortunately, after several generations of being raided, someone with more power than some town of bandits out in the desert had had enough of losing men and money. And one day, as Kir’s raiding party was returning to Sharzhad, they noticed smoke and fire and screaming. Bydan soldiers went through the town killing everyone. As is natural, the raiding party hastened their return and rushed in to try and defend their homes and the people in them. But not Kir, Kir just stood off on the horizon, staring at tortoise banners flapping in the wind. His sister was somewhere down there, probably killing people as she was wont to do until someone managed to cut her down, but he just stood there. It wasn’t long before he managed to break himself away from his fixed state, and he immediately turned around and ran. He ran for a long time before finally collapsing, at which point he waited to die.

But, of course, he didn’t die, someone stumbled upon him by unpleasantly trotting atop his partially covered body. It wasn’t some returning soldiers, or survivors from his town, or some kind hearted people who would take him in and give him a good life; it was more bandits. He would have still wound up dead if they didn’t notice his (now empty) quiver and sheath and they asked him who he was and what he was doing, to which he explained, albeit in a stuttered manner. The captain of the group could always use more desperate bodies to surround himself with, especially ones who could shoot a bow well and be as subservient as Kir, so Kir managed to survive the destruction of his home and the deaths of his people, though he might have preferred to just stay buried if he knew what he’d be put through.

This new group didn’t have the fear of an honorable retaliation from his sister, so he became the dog to be kicked when you were bored and the serving boy to be ordered around when you wanted something. And he still took part in raids, shooting his arrows from far away and killing people as fast as he could so he wouldn’t have to think about it. But that didn’t always work now, because there was this other member of the group, a woman named Gretchen, who would bring the blood and the death right next to him. She would kill hostages in such a way as to splatter the blood on him, knowing how he’d react to it. He was glad when she was left behind, just as he was glad every time someone died during a raid or got left in the desert to die. Because this was his life, it turned out that Gretchen would probably be considered lucky by being left behind, as the group was defeated and those who weren’t killed taken prisoner not three weeks later.

Kir liked prison for the most part. He was thrown into a small cell to rot by himself, which certainly beat rotting out in the desert under a mound of sand. Sadly, he wouldn’t get his wish to spend a short life in a dark pit as he was hauled up and taken to a room where they talked to him a lot and he fidgeted incessantly because they could all see his face. They asked him a question and waited a few moments for an answer before asking again. Wanting it to be over and to be taken back to his hole, he furiously nodded and made some manner of noise that was taken as an affirmative.

He didn’t get to go back in his hole.

[F L A G S]
Tortoises, especially if they happen to be on someone’s banner.

So begins...

Kir's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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Kir
For Kir, it had been quite the march from wherever he was to wherever he was going. Days’ worth of walking on sand on stone and on grass all so these people could take him and a few others to some recruiters. While he wasn’t very much interested in the destination, there was still the fear of what this group of armed people would be doing and how they’d be treating him. The escorts did a decent job easing his fears by not treating him too horribly. They weren’t exactly nice and welcoming, but they didn’t hit him or yell or chained up. And, very importantly, they never made him take off his headdress for them, left him alone while he ate, and made sure none of the other recruits bothered him. Their orders were simple, their tone wasn’t too harsh, and their fists were never used; they might as well of been saints in his eyes, sad as that may be.

When they approached Autumour, you could have told Kir that he had entered the realm of some magnificent deity and he would have believed you and held no doubts about it. He was used to wooden and clay houses barely big enough to fit a family or temporary huts that needed to be set up and dismantled on a daily basis. Even after he was captured he had only seen a modest bit of stonework at the small town his escorts had found him at, and they had not traveled to or even near anything much larger this entire time. They took Kir from small stone buildings to massive walls and clock towers with no transition to make him any less maddeningly gobsmacked by the sight in the distance. And it only grew worse the closer they got; he could mutter to himself some rationalization for what he was looking at that tried to convince him that it just looked bigger than it was. He gave up long before they reached the gate and were let in.

Once they were let in, the awe subsided somewhat. Part of it was that the amazement fades a bit over time, but mostly it was because he came to realize that there were people everywhere packed into all these big buildings. More importantly, there were lots of people crammed into the streets that he now had to walk through. As much as the city was filled with all the human weirdos that three kingdoms had to offer, he was still convinced that someone like him covered in scars and bruises with barely a shirt on and with his face covered being escorted through town would draw a bit of attention. Not to mention some of his diverse group of future recruits weren’t as cooperative and needed to be dragged by chains, though why they were all still given weapons he didn’t understand. His own bow rested in its quiver at his hip, rhythmically tapping against him as he walked and his arrows did the same at his left shoulder. Regardless of his own personal armament, Kir wasn’t very good with gawkers, especially if they were within touching distance.

”Move aside!” One of his escorts, a big brute of a man with more hair on his upper lip than on his head waved his hand in an attempt to create a wide berth. Few people seemed in the mood to disagree with someone like him giving them orders, and a gap in the street was formed.

It wasn’t for Kir’s comfort or state of mind, it was to keep his chained traveling companions from being within reach of some random civilian who probably wouldn’t appreciate being turned into a hostage or a victim. Not that that didn’t stop Kir from greatly appreciating it, turning the big brutish man whose name he didn’t know into one of his favorite people.

All that said and accomplished, Kir would probably not get to experience anything remotely close to comfort for quite some time. Sure, people couldn’t reach out and touch him (as if they would outside of his fearful fantasies), but they could still look, and their gazes made every mark on his body itch. He kept his eyes down though, not even able to see anything at skull-height or any real distance to the side with his headdress on, so once again the fiction of other people was all that was needed for him to react. Ebony Bridge was apparently where they were going, but until then it was all left foot right foot from there, with the occasional stop so Mr. Brute could order more people out of the way. The amazing buildings and people and merchandise and clock tower that had stunned Kir from a distance now went completely unseen. The streets and other people’s boots looked decent enough though.

When they arrived there was, unfortunately, a bit of a crowd had already gathered and no amount of shouting from Mr. Brute was going to disperse them. In fact, he turned traitor and marched them right into the crowd and pretty much placed them amongst the others. Kir wound up next to an elf with white hair who was too busy playing with his fingers to notice what was going on around him. And then the two in front, another elf and a big green man that was apparently an orc, started speaking or, at least, the elf started speaking and the orc was told not to speak repeatedly. Kir kept his eyes down, examining lots of boots (and a few shoes), so he didn’t catch everything that was being said at the moment. He completely stopped trying after a point since he didn’t really understand what was being said: infiltrator, pestilence, and Silver Knights might as well of been foreign words to him. His ears did perk up when something comprehensible was said about training and a quarry, though what they’d be doing for training at the quarry he didn’t really know, which made him try to pay more attention. That was a mistake.

Without warning, the elf next to him just suddenly shouted. The sheer anxiety and fear Kir experienced in that moment meant that he would never know what was actually said, his heart pounding in his chest and his scattered thoughts were too loud. He practically jumped at the noise and instinctively raised his arms slightly to protect his body from a blow he had learned to expect. It didn’t come, but he did finally look straight at the white haired elf (admittedly with shaky eyes) to see him continue going on about whatever it was.

Kir was really starting to miss his prison cell.

(Kir slightly disapproves of Illeren shouting: -5 Approval)

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: 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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#, as written by Baby
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: Gretchen Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel

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It wasn't difficult to return to old habits. For Gretchen, being behind bars may as well have been a day trip with how effortlessly she tucked herself into the shadows of an alley, two blue spots glowering out of her sockets like a beast in tall grass. It was a shame she had no idea where to go from there. Her thoughts repeatedly stalked back to mugging someone at knifepoint, but it was too bright, and the people were too... indignant, she could tell. They would have screamed for a silver knight even if it cost them their genetalia, and that was a more ballsy crowd than she liked. She supposed she could, oh, do what she was told, but where was the fun in that? It wasn't as if she was promised any form of reward or positive reinforcement if she fucking found someone. Oh, no. "You're a human," the elf had informed her (thanks, she hadn't noticed until just then), "we're surrounded by other humans. You should go find recruits among your people. Speaking with your kind makes me feel as if I'm losing parts of myself."

"I can show you what that feels like," she had shot back rather eagerly before he had ushered her off. So what if she succeeded in her absurd little assignment? She'd probably just have to endure his smart retorts again. "Oho, good job Gretchen," he might even deign to say her name, "more of your filthy ilk." All the while his lifted chin would wordlessly imply, "go die."

The fucking elf reeked of an entire stable full of bullshit.

So instead, Gretchen fucked around for the majority of the day, sulking or wondering rather loudly why the queen of all Byda was such a massive goddamn cunt licker. She was rather hoping the guards would make something of that, ship her back to a nice, cozy prison cell where she could rot in peace, but it seemed they were too busy doing fuck all to pay attention to her raving. At this rate it was likely that they'd tuned her out so much, they presumed she was the town crier doing her morning routine. It was with great reluctance that she returned to the bridge, muttering at length and practically breathing pure profanity. There were people there, when she arrived. More people than necessary. Not that she knew precisely the answer to "how many warriors would it take to annihilate the Pestilence?" but she was already of the mind most of them looked as if they'd had their faces caught on fire and someone had tried to put it out with a fork. And of course they all towered over her like fucking monstrosities, but she would bet hard gold that she could take on at least half of them in a knife fight. Maybe not all at once though.

Adriel seemed to be giving her the stink eye on occasion during his big mighty speech, and she flipped him off whenever he did. When a loud, dark haired son of a bastard son leered her general direction as well (and what the hell was wrong with him?), she simply rotated meagerly at the shoulders while perfectly maintaining the hand gesture. She did listen, to a degree. She caught that they were all dead men, surprise, surprise, blablabla, brag brag brag. Oooh, look at me, I'm an infiltrator, snark-snark. Then there was something about a... change in location? Bastard had told her they were going to the woods! Change of plans, she imagined. She supposed it didn't matter too much, but it was an annoying detail nonetheless.

Then there was some shouting about cock; while she had no roaring guffaw to match that of the one whose name she learned was Ezra, a crooked smirk streaked across her features, much like a manic, breaking eggshell. Her new friends would not all be dull after all, it seemed. Yet, the pessimist in her insisted that there was always room for too much of a good thing.

And what of the women? Gretchen scanned the crowd, which seemed to consist of a fairly even divide of genders. There was a bit of everything, really. Every build, every hair color, take your goddamn pick, although there didn't seem to be too many human women. Well, except perhaps that one that jumped at the earlier noise, which a headdress wrapped around and around his.... Gretchen cocked her head for a moment before maneuvering her way through impeding bodies. Something about the person was intriguingly off; his yielding mannerisms that seemed to beg to be released from even existing. By the time Gretchen made her way to her quarry, it seemed an orc woman was talking. The words didn't reach her ears. She was quite preoccupied by leaning in--or rather, leaning up as the man had a few inches on her--and staring straight into the fault between headdress folds with her slitted, animalistic eyes. "You look familiar," she hissed between her deliberating teeth. "I know you."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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Kir
Once the threat of being hit out of nowhere had passed, and Kir had finished peering at the shouting elf who had deigned to stop talking, he returned to his resting position. His arms returned to his sides, his body returned to its hunched posture, and his eyes descended to the back to the ground to observe everyone’s boots, a pair of which joined the elf’s and began speaking. Humor he called it and maybe it was for someone who didn’t flinch at every sound as if it were about to hurt him. And, after he had finished, a woman amongst the crowd added in her own opinion on what to do, leaving. Leaving felt like a good idea. In fact, it was a great idea; there were too many people in the city and they made too much noise. Not to mention that, once outside the city, Kir would have a chance to look upon the great spires and towers and walls once again. But then the gates of the underworld had to fly open and send forth a great atrocity upon the world, or, at the very least, Kir’s world.

Two boots came into Kir’s view from the side, smaller than most and lighter than most. When he understood that they weren’t simply passing by and were actually approaching him, he turned his head up slightly to see more about this person, as well as bringing his arms in front of his lower stomach as his reflexes commanded. Though he was still tense and anxious about who was approaching him and what they might want, he didn’t expect it to be too bad, even through the filter of his unending fear. As the boots grew legs, and the legs grew hips, and more and more grew atop the last bit, though, fate took his expectations of an event that would simply be racked by great unease and dashed them against ground. The moment he saw her hips move and her legs walk the specific way they walked, he might as well have had all horrors of the pestilence dropped on him from the sky. And it only grew worse the further up he saw.

Messy, dirty, yellow hair shaped as if it belonged to someone who had suffered a bully’s knife or simple childlike ineptitude. Skin that has been touched by the sun more than it probably should have. A bony jaw with pronounced cheekbones, as someone who has lived the desert life might have. And blue eyes, those blue eyes, that stared into his. His eyes widened and shifted and stuttered and shook down to the very bones they didn’t have–they were of an animal that knew death and danger came but could not flee.

"You look familiar, I know you."

And she did know him. She probably knew Kir better than anyone else alive at this point. She knew where it would hurt, how it would hurt. How to crush his mind with a look, and how to break his body with more. She knew to get in close and spray the red of others and cover him with it. As a hellbound spirit that should be gone from this world, she probably knew him even more, more than even he did and ever would. Gretchen was the sort of woman, the sort of thing, that would live in his torturous prison in the hells of death. Apparently, she had grown tired of waiting for him and sprung free to hunt him down as he still drew breathe.

When they had last seen each other, he and the other bandits of that particular group were leaving her behind, assumedly buried under some amount of sand and dead to the world. The weapons she wielded and the armor she wore deemed to not be worth sticking around and looking, and Kir appreciated not having to try. She was finally dead then, and he was free from her.

But here she was, looking at him through the necessary and unwanted gap in his headdress, talking to him, recognizing him. Kir had no idea what to do at this point. Should he run? His legs couldn’t hear him over their own attempts at screaming in terror and trying to convince their nonexistent legs to run. Should he attack? His arms weren’t fairing much better than his legs and that was more terrifying than standing still and pretending she couldn't see him. Should he scream and condense himself into a little ball and hope it all goes away? That’s what a smart man would do, but he had problems with his mouth without paralyzing fear staring him in the eyes, not to mention such a thing would require his arms and legs to actually work. So his body, amongst all the anxiety and fear flowing through its veins, managed to come to a compromise: Kir collapsed. His knees buckled, his eyes rolled upwards as the lids came down, and his arms didn’t move to brace his fall. The breathe he had been holding since he understood who it was in front of him (he wasn’t really sure how long it had been) escaped his mangled lips in a sigh as his body crashed to the ground with a thud. Hopefully, Gretchen couldn’t follow him to where he was going.

(Kir greatly disapproves of Gretchen for still existing : -15 Approval)
(Kir greatly disapproves of the universe for allowing Gretchen to still exist : -25 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: 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

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#, as written by Gray
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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: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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The next bit passed by faster than Ezra had expected. A wink from Laetya, a friendly giant, and a silent newcomer. Ezra smiled like a kid in a candy shop the whole time. He was having more fun in these ten minutes than in the entire last year combined. Naturally, The Cockiest Elf On The Planet, Adriel, needed to ruin it.

"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."

Ezra turned back to Illeren, and chuckled.
"Ouch. Do you need some water for that burn? I...oh. All I have is alcohol. Drink?"

Then, the same man who had jumped out of himself earlier, fainted, and standing over him was a short, blonde woman. She would be the spitting image of Trace, emphasis on spitting, if Trace was one half street mutt, one half hatchet and had been left in the sun to dry for a few years. She stood over the collapsed man, and she smiled like a knife.

"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."

Ezra looked around and grumbled. It didn't seem like anyone was up for helping the poor sod up, and while he was keen on meeting blondie, her vicious snarl said something somewhere between, "I didn't mean to!" and "Come closer and you're next." He hesitated, before realizing that nothing fun ever happened if you didn't risk losing some skin, and made his way over to the couple and knelt down beside the man.

"So," He looked at the blonde, standing above him, and smirked. "Come here often?" He spoke as he gently shook the unconscious Kir, taking care not to disturb the head wrap. Ezra figured he must be wearing it for a reason, and did not want the man to hate him for removing it. He spoke again as Adriel called for the group to move, this time towards Kir. "C'mon wake up! You''ll miss all the fun!"




Ezra remained at the forefront of the group, just behind Adriel, for the duration of the trip. When he turned to address the group, Ezra listened silently. He was serious now, as there was a time for fun and a time for hunting and killing century old death beasts. Now was most definitely the latter.

They arrived at the quarry, and Ezra immediately began surveying the area. The quakes grew more and more intense as Adriel led them down a wooden ramp that was nowhere near as sturdy as Ezra would have preferred. The far side of the quarry wall began to crack and Ezra drew his sword. He'd never fought a Nidhogg before, but he had heard of them. This one felt bigger than the ones he had read about. A quick muttering under his breath and a swipe of his fingers later, and his blade ignited in a shimmering fire. Finally, the wall collapsed and the beast emerged. Ezra wanted to puke, but he could only manage a laugh that, given the circumstances, sounded insane. The smell was horrific, and it looked worse, and it was definitely bigger than anything the books had told him about bog drakes. To top it off, it screamed like a thousand dying horses, which was probably the worst sound he had ever heard. Again, a laugh, accompanied with a ear-to-ear grin, escaped Ezra's lips.

“I will not be helping to slay the beast. You’ll do everything on your own, I’ll probably just sit on a rock somewhere and judge your performance.” Adriel spoke and then pranced off to his perch. If anyone was upset about being forced to fight this monster without Adriel, it wasn't Ezra. He was practically giddy.

"Alright gang," Ezra spoke as he turned to face the rest of the group, Nidhogg roaring horribly behind him, "Time to make Papa Elf proud! Any ideas?"

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: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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#, as written by Jäger
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Still preoccupied with the pile of cloth in front of him, Vasha barely registered Adriel’s admonishment of Illeren and Illeren's childish rebuttal- he was theory-crafting why the nameless soul passed out. Did she kill him? Nope, no blood. She looks too brutish for something like poison and that sadistic glint in her eyes suggests that she would want to soak her hands red. That only leaves fainting from intimidation or some medical issue. Hmmm. Intimidation much more likely of the two outcomes.

Pretty boy approached the two, shaking the stranger awake. Curious, why the head bandages? Vasha felt the urge to remove them, like opening pandora’s box. The male orc interrupted his temptations, informing the group of his presence or lack thereof on the next mission. Ahh, so then this would be Higoht. Vasha listened, only really preserving what he thought was important; Adriel should know what he’s doing, kinda, and Higoht believed they would need luck wherever they were going.

Excitement simmered through Vasha’s veins.





The sun hadn’t fallen much deeper towards the horizon when the first shakes hit them. Cautious, Vasha looked to Adriel who began explaining the truth of their test, Nidhogg extermination. But as Vasha felt the tremors, he knew it had to either be a whole brood of them or something significantly larger than anything he had personally exterminated. As the tremors continued to increase in size and the latter was confirmed by Adriel, Vasha decided it had to be absolutely massive - there was no other explanation for the strength of the quakes. What elf failed in his mission to let this monstrosity form? Vasha grit his teeth in annoyance at the thought. He was glad that Adriel was doing something about it though, even if it was in the form of throwing them into a boiling pot.

They came upon a cavernous quarry, large enough even for the Nidhogg when it thought to rest and get fresh air. Descending a level down with the rest of the group, Vasha spotted the enormous holes the monster had been using for transit to catch prey, large intersecting cracks appearing on a far wall. His body tensed in anticipation. CRACK! The wall splintered open like balsa wood and the Nidhogg cascaded out in great folds of skin and appendage. Vasha’s nose crinkled from the sight, knowing the disgusting smell would follow.

“I will not be helping to slay the beast. You’ll do everything on your own, I’ll probably just sit on a rock somewhere and judge your performance.” Adriel left them to their own devices, Ezra stepping ahead of them in address, “Alright gang, time to make Papa Elf proud! Any ideas?"

The white-haired elf spouted nonsense and took off down the ramp. Vasha looked after him with a mix of pity and annoyance. Shaking his head back and forth, a slight simper on his face, he spoke up.

“Yes, actually.” Vasha walked from the middle of the pack to the front, looking out at the Nidhogg for a brief moment before speaking. “You all may have knowledge of this beast, but regardless, I suggest you listen to my words. It may save you some frustration and even your life.” Vasha's drawl was slow and sure, commanding obedience. He pointed at the oscillating boils that covered the monster, “Those boils are our best bet. I strongly encourage you all to pick people to work with, taking turns to burst a boil while the other attacks on the opposite side. Coordinate accurately and immediately, as even though popping the boil gives us a window to act, the distraction will wear off all too soon.”

“It can climb so if we can take out its front legs, we can incapacitate it. Before we succeed in amputation however, be warned: when it's not consuming rock, Nidhoggs have a habit of climbing and then falling to squish live prey with sheer weight. This one is the size of a small town, so get out of the way immediately when it grabs hold of a wall.”

“Lastly, its hide is resilient and can deflect slashing blows. Those of us with blades will have to practice piercing lunges only if we are to even scratch the thing.”

“If you want my suggestion on where to be, those of you with speed, go for the front legs, those of you that are slower but have more strength, go for its sides. I will lead the attack on its face. Is there anyone willing to join me?”




Vasha slightly approves of Adriel's resourcefulness: +3

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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When turbanhead fell like a rock experiencing a severe bout of gravity, Gretchen hastily checked her hands. Perhaps she got a bruise from clocking him in the cranium? Perhaps there was a dagger in her palm, and she had stabbed him unawares? Perhaps... an invisible dagger...? She flexed her right hand, finding nothing. Truly, the man had hit the ground after nothing had happened to him. She looked around, rather incredulously, searching for someone holding a poison blowpipe. Eyes that had noticed the incident only met hers in return, perhaps... accusitory...? The ensuing shrug, she felt, utilized every muscle in her upper torso; she didn't do jack shit this time.

"Blabla harlot, I'm sure you're equally capable of waking him bla!"

There he goes, bossing her like it's his damn job. "Nice try, chief," said Gretchen, scratching the the side of her nose with her middle finger. "No dice. Brat's more liable to actually drop dead the second time he sees me." She even humored Adriel by kneeling down and slapping Kir a couple times on the cheek. Lightly, as instructed; what was she if not endlessly obedient? Thankfully she remembered which cheek was the "correct" one, elsewise one of the leaders might decide she would be the test they had to kill. Yes, she remembered him. That is, she remembered his face. Or is it more accurate to say she remembered his physique? Whatever, she recognized that they had met before back when she had literally more light in her fucking life. Gently overcast Autumour was a miserable place compared to the beating sun of Byda. She rolled her shoulders and straightened, poised like a rebellious meerkat if there ever was one, gaze downcast. What was his name? Something to do with... keeling over? Appropriate for the skittish bastard. She remembered how he lingered behind their crew so often he had enough time to build a house back there. How he squirmed and screamed at the sight of blood. It was funny sometimes. She enjoyed reinforcing the fear, sometimes. One time, in a fit of annoyance, she showed him a freshly painted dagger, flicking her wrist menacingly. Damn near accidentally took his nose off when he flinched like a reed in the wind. Ever since then she may as well have been the Pestilence to him, and she's... been treating and viewing him about the same, hasn't she? At least she thinks that's how it went down. For the most part, it was just a Tuesday. Gretchen wondered if Killer--that's what it was, Killer!--had followed her to the Gathering. Unlikely as the thought was, she couldn't help but suspect it with his bizarre puppy mutt persona. If he wasn't intentionally stalking her... well, that thought in itself almost made her chortle. As in choke, snort and chuckle.

Then a human-shaped shadow fell before her--another one?! No, this one was conscious, kneeling and perfectly balanced. It was that dark-haired lech from before. Getting a better look at him, she noticed several things. His eyelids were flickering and interested. Interested in... was something on her face? His posture, somehow perfect, as if he knelt professionally for years. Facial hair. She can always appreciate facial hair; it was something she couldn't do, though some people might insist otherwise. And that grin, that would part and give way to words. What in the....?

"Come here often?" He said.

She knuckled her cheekbone, looking as vexed as she was haughtily astonished. Come here often? "Does that..." she began, looking almost innocent for the moment, "Does that fuckin' ever work for you? What if I said 'oh yes, sir, this is my favorite fuck spot, come here all the time'?" She huffed loudly to drive home her point, but a vague, depraved gaiety seemed to glimmer across her features.

"Careful he doesn't imprint on you when he wakes up, carpet jaw," she added cynically, "might fall in love with you and follow you to the toilet." And with a coquettish roll of her fingers, she strode off. At least Killer wasn't her problem anymore. If there was anything that could give Gretchen shallow enjoyment, it was pawning off jobs to other people once in a while.




The elves seemed too damn keen about this thing, for some reason. What Gretchen got out of the schpiel was that it was big, and it was stinky, and it did bad things maybe. Like any other wild animal that wandered around too much. However, the ground shaking like an old maid made her stare down at it hatefully. She even stopped to stomped her foot back at it once or twice. When they reached their destination, when the wall crumbled into bits and pieces to reveal the ugliest mug she could imagine, she had to admit she felt her throat drop into her chest. And that filled her with so very much hate. She lended an ear halfheartedly to the next pompous elf in their company, who deduced a method in the madness, suggesting sound thoughts such as working together and surrounding the beast from all sides. Good strategy, overall.

Too much fucking talking though.

"Hesitation's unbecoming, maggots." She slurred evilly to no one in particular, vastly unamused. She might even have been talking to the Nidhogg, which was slowly crawling in their direction to peer up and appraise them. Instinctively cracking her neck against her collar bone, she advanced toward the cliff face as she tore off her fur cape and kicked off her boots, bumping shoulders with the dark-haired elf and pushing past the light-haired one. Were they synchronizing their appearance or something? Whatever. "Don't let the piece of shit start climbing." Within the last several feet she bent at the spine, lifting her heels with each hastened step. Then, she drew her sword, gripping the ricasso with her left hand as she leapt straight into the gaping cavern.

The fall lasted only an instant, but she felt her ears ringing for an eternity, swallowed whole by the air itself. Her blade dug in deeply, greedily, with a high-pitched squelch and a splurt of amber liquid that mixed with its blood. She smashed into the soft, oily nape of the thing's neck, bust first, recoiling as much as she could only to find her feet unreliably soaked. With the sheer mass of the creature she knew she would land somewhere, but she hadn't accounted for too much beyond "introduce hurt to ugly git."

Then, of course, there was the much louder and immediate noise of either pain or irritation from the monster, and judging from the sheer volume, and how she was thrust up and slammed back down with the angry toss of its head, she knew she was indeed very near those vocal chords. Nearer to the chords than I am to its ass anyway. Gretchen felt her wrists screaming as she held on, and in vain tried again to better secure her footing. Roaring back as if to compete with the gargantuan, she released one hand from her sword, fishing her body for a dagger. If she had no footholds, she was damn well going to make some.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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Kir
There was peace in unconsciousness. There was no relaxing dreams of better times (there were no better times) or of some far flung fantasy of wine and honey and women and clouds to dote on him, just nothing. An absence of everything was about as good as Kir’s brief moments of fantasy took him these days, and he did not remember a time where this wasn’t the case. No pain, no abuse, no hurting others, no others at all; a maddening and eternal silence was his heaven. Sadly, it wasn’t as eternal and silent as he would have liked, as fate betrayed him by bringing him back to the world with a quake. Cast from heaven, Kir’s consciousness returned just as a face that was charm and smiles had finished saying something to him. The grogginess of the moment kept him from understanding what was said, and he certainly wasn’t going to ask him to repeat it--he was having a difficult enough time looking the man in the eyes, or anywhere even near the eyes.

So, knowing that he couldn’t stay flat on the ground and wait to be trodden upon, he propped himself up with his arms and returned to the posture he had before Gretchen made the universe just that much worse by presenting her continued existence before him. While he faced the handsome man who had helped him up, his head remained hunched over and his eyes still trailed downward, trying not to catch the eye of anything. He wanted to express some degree of thanks for doing so with a few shakes rather than a kick or a slap, but recent consciousness was not friendly to coherence normally and especially so for Kir, so all that emerged was a mumbling that he hoped carried a tone of gratitude. He hoped, because he wasn’t overly familiar with such a thing.

Regardless of what he did or how coherent his words were, the group apparently didn’t feel like waiting for the unconscious man to get up, as they’d already started moving to the quarry, to do something that involved quakes and tests. At least, that’s what he assumed, though that could have easily changed after he stopped being a member of the elf’s audience. Kir didn’t have much choice in the matter anyway, so he trudged along with the group, making sure to keep away from everyone else. And it was at this point that he realized several of them were paying far too much attention to him, which is to say, any attention at all. Feinting attracts the eyes. With that thought boiling his brain, Kir spent the rest of the march to what wound up being the quarry worrying about everyone looking at him. That is, until they came close enough to start feeling the earth shake beneath them.

When you live in the desert--the actual desert, not a city built on stone that’s near a desert--you’re not really used to the ground shaking. Pouring, shifting, sinking, blowing: that’s what the ground was supposed to do. As such, while this was an entirely new thing, it didn’t cause as much worry from Kir as one would expect. Sure, someone used to the flat, stable rock and dirt would probably have a great deal of worry once it started shaking, but to the desert-dweller this might as well just be another quirk of terra firma. Granted, that did not mean that he wasn’t worried (he’s always worried, after all) especially when the elf addressed the group during the march to tell them what was causing the quakes. He had no idea what a drake was, but it didn’t exactly sound good and the one they were going to fight was apparently bigger than it should be.

And he was right. If that was a drake it was far, far too big. Kir didn’t need to know what a drake or a Nidhogg was, or where it came from or what it did, he knew just from seeing it that it was too big. He would have been concerned about the smell, but such things tend not to bother you after you’ve spent so much time at the bottom rung of existence and have a cloth covering your face. And this is what they were going to kill it, without the help of the elf that brought them here or the orc that left them while they were still in the city. Naturally, this is where Kir wanted to run away from the giant, grotesque monster, but then people started running towards it. The man who had woken him moved forward, the shouting elf worked his way down into the quarry, another elf started advising everyone on what to do, his nightmare jumped off the side and hopefully to her death, followed by two more women.

Kir, feeling the pressure to actually do something, used his fear of the people around him to fight his fear of what was before him. He moved closer to the drop-off, enough to have a better shot at the boils he was told to aim for. With his right hand he pulled his shortbow from its quiver, and with his left he grabbed one of the many arrows from his back. Locking the two together, he peered out from underneath his rags and violently separated them. A boil on the beast’s back sprouted a wooden growth with mutilated feathers, then another, and another. He wasn’t sure how much good this was actually doing, but it was what he was told and what he would do.

(Kir slightly approves of Ezra helping him: +5 Approval)
(Kir greatly approves of Gretchen jumping to her presumed death: +15 Approval)
(Kir disapproves of Adriel leading them to a giant monster and not helping: -10 Approval)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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#, as written by Baby
The Bull


Berlioz went to pick up the bandaged man, but saw another human go for him first. A part of him felt guilty for not moving fast enough, but decided he would dwell on that thought later. The group was moving and he had to pick up his weapon and armor that was delivered to the city’s smithery, as well as a few other things he left behind at the training camp. He figured he'd just run there and find the group later. Easy.




What? It was easy. A gang of humans, orcs, and elves, all looking and dressing different from one another? Berlioz wasn’t that slow. He found them walking out of Automour and caught up to the front of the group, so he could find out what was going on. Adriel began speaking, and though Berlioz tried his hardest, he couldn’t keep up with what was being said.

"I should inform you, any cavalier worth their merit would know what this is... (What’s a Cavalier?) 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.(I-...I never wondered that. What is he talking about?")"

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(Why?); regardless, keep an eye out for eggs (Is the male protecting the eggs?). I ask that you smash any that you should find; they are most prone to eating flesh when they are young.(??? I’m so confused?)

"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.”

Berlioz began gnawing on his bottom lip as he looked around the group to check the faces of the other people. Nobody seemed as confused as he was about the information being given. He felt like he would always be lagging behind if this is how their tasks would be presented. And he also began to wonder if he was the right person for the job.

...Whatever that job was.

Shaken but not completely dissuaded, Berlioz continued to follow the elf and allowed himself to be descended somewhere with a horrible odor and cracking floors. They were soon accompanied by a large, boiled monster, who was birthed from the cracking earth like a spawn of hell. It was a deformity of atypical beasts at best, and the piercing scream it ripped out from it’s swollen, brown belly gave Berlioz shivers. He wanted to kill the monster to rid his eyes of such a nightmare, more so than it being his mission to do it.

"Time to make Papa Elf proud! Any ideas?"

No. He didn’t have time to fully comprehend the information from before, and the longer that monster lived, the more frustrated Berlioz was with it’s existence. He was about to follow the white-haired elf down the mine shaft to have at it, but a darker-haired elf began speaking to the group.

A part of Berlioz wanted to ignore whatever was being said and just get into the battle. This elf had no leadership over him.

But a larger part of Berlioz was tempted to stop and listen to a small piece of heaven. Berlioz didn’t know if the elf always spoke like that or if it was just for the occasion, but Dark Hair’s voice was so slow and crisp, it calmed Berlioz’s steady aggression and commanded his undivided attention.

“Those boils are our best bet. (Ok, I see the boils. I know what you are talking about.) I strongly encourage you all to pick people to work with, taking turns to burst a boil while the other attacks on the opposite side. Coordinate accurately and immediately, as even though popping the boil gives us a window to act, the distraction will wear off all too soon."(Will it counter attack or something?)

Berlioz nodded along to the information, following most of what was being said. He would have appreciated Dark Hair saying it all over again, but he wasn’t about to ask for a repeat. He got what he needed to know. Piercing attacks, boils are important, don’t get crushed, and Dark Hair needs a partner. And guess who the fuck was going to volunteer.

“I’ll go ahead of you, Dark Hair.” Berlioz made eye contact with the elf, subconsciously bit his bottom lip, and started making his way down the mine shaft to the final floor. He wouldn’t have minded jumping on the Nidhogg, like he saw two other women do, but standing there and listening to the elf gave Berlioz time to actually think about how he would attack. He just needed enough room to run.

When he got down to the bottom floor, he decreased the weight of his armor by ten pounds and began his hellish charge, picking up a frightening speed in front of the Nidhogg’s body. He was grateful that the others had already started attacking, since the beast was constantly flinching in pain and giving Berlioz the opening he needed. Releasing a loud battle cry, Berlioz closed the small gap between him and the Nidhogg with a strong jump from the ground, moving his lance backwards and then slamming it straight into the beast’s right eye. When it pierced the gelatinous orb, he shifted his weapon and shield into a throwing spear, holding on to a slimy piece of it's flesh while constantly ramming his weapon deeper and deeper into the Nidhogg’s eye.


Berlioz got his armor and stuff from the blacksmith! As well as stuff he needs for basic living! Updated items.
[Berlioz disapproves of Kir being so easily overwhelmed. -2 Approval]
[Berlioz loves that Illeren charged head first into battle. +1 Approval]
[Berlioz heard that slick shit Gretchen said from before. -1 Approval]
[Berlioz greatly appreciates Vasha clearing up the confusion. And his voice. And maybe his legs too... +4 Approval]

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gretchen 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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“It’s ok, just edge myself down to a spot where the ground is not so far down...not so far down...edging edging edging.” Illeren said to himself as he stopped to check his progress and immediately regretted his decision, noticing his breathing get a little heavier as he yelled out in anger and slammed his fist into the wall. He had fought monsters, bandits, guards, and angry fathers alike, but here he was afraid of something that couldn’t necessarily be fought. He looked back to see people already jumping off the Quarry onto the bloody thing and he wanted to yell in excitement and frustration at the same time. He wanted to help, he desperately wanted to do something but every time he turned around his legs seized up.

By this point a good portion of the group had already engaged the beast. The blonde haired woman, the elven seductress, and the burly man had already gone full blown mountain climber onto the beast, stabbing at it repeatedly in different spots as it screamed so loud Illeren was wondering if it would shake him loose from the wall, to fall to his death in a bloody mess of broken bones, ruptured organs, pools of blood…

“AHHHHHHHHH! STOP IT!” Illeren yelled, slapping himself. He needed to get a hold of himself, he needed to do something. Wait, he had an idea. It was a horrible idea that might end up incredibly badly, but it was something. He gave one last glance over at the creature and everyone stabbing at the boils. “Squishy bits...I was right! Stab at the squishy bits!” Illeren yelled before nearly slamming his face into the wall to avoid the sight of how high up he still was. How many steps was it to the edge? 2 good sized bounds? Hopefully he was right or this plan was going to go worse than that time he decided it would be funny to steal from the head of the Blood Ranger Mercenary Company.

Illeren took a couple quick breaths. He had to get into the fight quickly, if only because he was missing out on the best parts. He shut his eyes tight and shoved himself off the wall.

One step...two st-

He felt his foot give way from the edge as he miscalculated how large his strides were. He opened his eyes in surprise and didn’t even manage to get out a yell before he crashed onto the back of the beast at an angle, sliding quickly down the side as he managed to keep a hold of his sword through sheer training and instinct alone. He slashed wildly as he fought to gain a footing, stabbing his sword into the beast only for it to pierce a boil and spray bile and puss everywhere, missing Illeren only because his sword’s quality was working against him for once. The sharpness of his blade sliced through the ‘weak’ spot like a hot knife through butter and didn’t slow him down one ounce.

He felt his body start to move of its own accord now, his mind no longer focused on its fear of heights and instead realizing that there was now a tangible enemy to be killed, and moves he could make to counter that threat. His hand gripped the skin of the Nidhogg, managing to find purchase nearly on friction caused by its hard and leathery skin alone. He couldn’t stop his rapid descent, but he could control the landing as he contorted his body so that he managed to get his legs underneath him. At the last moment, he kicked off with the grace of an acrobat, performing a slow arcing back flip to the ground which, unfortunately, was still a sizable distance away. He landed hard into a backward roll, or to be more specific, several backward rolls as he did his best to minimize the imminent shock to his legs and failing. When he finally stopped with his impression of a small barrel, he slammed his free hand into the ground and came to a small skidding stop, grimacing as he did so. Not at the fact that his hand was slightly cut up from the coarse ground, but from the pins and needles now coursing their way through his lower body. He stood, but his legs were obviously shaky from the impact alone as he shook them like he was trying to get rid of that one obnoxious dribble of piss.

He slapped the flat end of his sword against both legs, attempting to get more feeling into them before staring up at the massive creature. “Now we’re on even footin’ yah garden vegetable lookin’ mother fooker!” Illeren yelled, as if he hadn’t just been scared by a tiny drop just a few minutes prior. He looked over and managed to spy Ezra and Laetya battling with the Nidhogg on the ground, and both covered in...well if Illeren said ‘diseased shite’, he wouldn’t be wrong. He ran up to the creature, passing by Laetya with a laugh. “Looks like you could use a bath luv!”

He ran for one of the legs not currently under attack, the front right leg to be specific, and started slicing, stopping only to also laugh at Ezra’s misfortune as well before continuing. He spun his blade with a practiced grace as he engaged the foot like it was an enemy all it’s own. He slashed and cut his way through the leathery skin, stopping only long enough to look up and see a couple of boils further up on the leg. He gave a wry smile as he grabbed the top of one of the Nidhogg’s toes, handstand-flipping his way on top of the foot and jumping up to deliver a blow to the target of opportunity. The juice from the infected region sprayed, but luckily Illeren was already falling below its trajectory. He landed, and prepared to jump up for another one when the foot moved, keeping him unbalanced and forcing him to jump off as it became too sporadic for him to maintain his footing. The creature seemed to be moving somewhere, and Illeren had to get out from underneath the Nidhogg to avoid being crushed.

He ended up at the front of the creature, stealing a look up to see the Knight and the blonde haired woman stabbing and slashing at the creature in their own ways. One looked like she was simply trying to get a hold of herself and the creature, and the other seemed like he aggressively wanted to become an optometrist. Illeren looked over to the ramp, contemplating trying to jump onto the thing a second time but immediately hating that idea after what happened the first time and knowing that his vertigo would immediately kick in. He looked back at the feet with an almost abysmal look this time. There were others, stabbing the creature in the face, and he was practically giving it a foot rub. He gave a grunt as he held his sword in both hands and charged for the foot once more seeing as the creature had stopped moving so much.

At least today wasn’t boring.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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Aura walked from the meeting point to the quarry on the outskirts of the group, keeping silent but watching, observing. The group she’d chosen to join was colorful to say the least, and she enjoyed taking in the nuances of facial expression and body language that each member of the party exhibited as they journeyed. Aura observed it all. The downcast head of the man who’d fainted suggesting apprehension; the roving eyes of the dark-haired human who’d helped him suggesting perviness; and the quick stride and effortless posture of their leader suggesting… confidence? Boredom? Aura wasn’t sure.

As they drew to a halt at the top of the quarry, Aura guessed by the rumbling of the ground and the stench in the air what it was they would be facing, but as the nidhogg emerged from the earth, the elf realized she had never encountered one so massive. Her hand went automatically to her back to retrieve her bow while the other nearly simultaneously readied it with a notched arrow. She pointed her bow at the ground and stood in a defensive position as strategy began being discussed. A soldier at her core, she did not dare make a move as one of her kind with a commanding voice assumed the mantle of temporary leader and suggested a plan of attack. Having faced bog drakes before, Aura already knew what she should be doing, but still, she waited until an agreement seemed to be made about the best game plan. Once people began jumping off the side of the quarry and onto the beasts, she decided it was probably safe to begin attacking.

The elf had been called upon before to slay nidhoggs, and she’d always felt a pang of regret in having to put them down, as she did with most any living creature. But, Aura felt no such regret now as they battled this monstrosity. It needed to be exterminated. She made her way slowly down the quarry ramp, flawlessly loosing arrows into the boils of the beast as she went, her posture rigid, on guard for any imminent threats. As it so happened, this proved useful, not for any attack from the nidhogg, but for the large piles of slimy mucus flying in all directions like a disgusting fireworks display as the team hacked into the giant creature. Aura sidestepped the mess as gracefully as she could, having no wish to suffer the same fate as the members below who were covered in the stuff.

Just as the beast seemed to be on its last legs a new threat appeared. She saw them before she was fully down the ramp, and she heard Adriel’s shout not long after. "By the Gods. Recruits! Kill every last one of them. Let none flee." Nidhogg babies, freshly spawned, made their way from a crack in the quarry walls to the open area where many of members of the group were engaging in combat with the mother. Aura felt her stomach drop, and she allowed herself a split second of fear before she put away her bow and raced down the rest of the ramp, hoping she could defuse the situation and prevent needless death. Perhaps the infants could be subdued rather than slaughtered.

As she reached the quarry floor, she looked up to see one of the infants charging at the elf who’d introduced himself a Illeren as they were leaving the Ebony Bridge. He was rather preoccupied with battling the mother and had not yet seemed to notice this new threat. Aura threw herself in front of the charging nidhogg.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop!” Aura cried, and for the moment, it listened. The baby stopped in its tracks, though reluctantly.

The trick in getting most beasts to submit, Aura had found, was controlling her own emotions. If she allowed herself to feel fear in this moment, the creature would sense it. So she focused on clearing her mind, and exuding calm authority. She bent her body just enough to show that she wasn’t a threat, and with her palms held out in front of her, she forced eye contact with the baby nidhogg. When it tried to move around her, she again stepped in its path. “Stop!” she exclaimed again, taking care to keep her tone free of desperation or frustration, leaving only dominance. The beast bucked its head back as a growl rumbled in its throat, but it backed up an inch. She advanced a step to match it immediately, knowing that if she showed the slightest sign of weakness now, she might be done for. “Back!” Aura stepped another foot forward, forcing the nidhogg back even further. It roared again and met her eyes without hesitation. The elf could see then that she’d lost what little control she’d had over it for a brief second.

She barely had time to brace for the impact before she felt claws ripping the skin of the forearm. The beast advanced on her, sending her to the ground and knocking the wind out of her. At this point, Aura could only hope that she’d distracted the creature long enough for another member of the party to get the drop on it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen 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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#, as written by Jäger
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"Hesitation's unbecoming, maggots."

Ah, that sun-bathed hair and tiny, sharp face from before. As she briefly made eye contact with Vasha, her eyes were wild with violence, a smoldering hatred boiling within. The rangy woman reminded him of a rabid dog, except without the threat of an incurable disease. A shame that - I’ve always wanted to test out its implications on a human being. Vasha felt a twisted kinship with her as she lobbed herself on to the beast, almost indulging in her berserk mania himself, arm twitching in anticipation from the thought. But he checked himself, shaking his head slowly in small movements to cleanse the urge.

Vasha hadn’t realized that he had been joined by someone else during his lapse – an elvish woman, dark and compelling. Her eyes were liquid mercury, hair the maw of night. A rolling softness of cheek and lip offset the unearthly quality of her eyes, lending her an altogether unsettling appearance. Despite that, Vasha found her incredibly beautiful, perhaps due to the very fact that she possessed such visual contradiction.

"We mustn't disappoint father." What is with all these people calling that elf Dad? Soon, she had launched off the side and more followed; the pretty boy from before who spewed lava from his hands, an orc woman with one hell of a weapon, and even the pile of rags from earlier managed to find himself an ideal vantage point, slinging a barrage of arrows into the beast. Vasha found a new appreciation for pretty boy, looking after the flames hungrily as they spiked and slithered across the Nidhogg’s form. The Nidhogg was noticeably distressed, using the momentum of gravity to violently barrel its body from side to side. Like a ship caught in a storm. To his approval, most had followed his advice, finding others to join arms with. Now all he had to do was find someone that would do the same for him.

A brown-skinned human approached him from near the front of the pack. He had impressive heft and a sort of nervous excitement that lit up his features when talking. “I’ll go ahead of you, Dark Hair.” When the man bit his lower-lip noticeably, Vasha’s eyes snapped to them, finding the mannerism odd to say the least. He almost felt the urge to tell him to bite harder and draw blood.

“Thank you for stepping up – I have no doubt we’ll make a fine team.” The man disappeared down the ramp, entering the battlefield. Vasha followed him, taking a moment to appraise the scene. More had joined the fray. A silver-haired elf took up point on one of the ramps against the quarry wall, gracefully avoiding a sudden explosion of mucus and grime that showered most of their party. The white-haired rat from before had managed to get to ground level without dying, attacking its front right leg. His partner had rammed a lance deep into the thing’s eye, gauging it out in waves of continued force. Looking back up at the members remaining, a hulking suit of armor was positioning himself for what Vasha assumed to be a plunge. Following the man’s trajectory, Vasha realized that he was going for its head.

A brief pause from the Nidhogg and the giant pitched himself off the side. A squealing noise distracted Vasha from the tank’s landing – looking out past the Nidhogg’s gargantuan form, smaller, faster shadows appeared from beneath its cavernous stomach. It was a mother. Oh, now this has gotten exciting. A voice echoed through the quarry, “By the Gods. Recruits! Kill every last one of them. Let none flee.” The elven archer had noticed the new development as well, running down the ramp as lighting suddenly sparked against the walls of the quarry. The tank rolled off the Nidhogg’s head, revealing a jaw that couldn’t quite close anymore.

Pivoting on his heel, Vasha broke into a sprint, jumping off the lowest ramp and landing near his partner. Still, the brown-skinned man continued his assault, backing off when the Nidhogg moved to attack him and reapplying pressure when it was distracted. “Well done!” Vasha exclaimed when he saw the pus and grime spilling forth from the Nidhogg’s eye like a broken faucet. The Nidhogg, in a bout of vexation, moved a massive clawed foot towards them, obviously with the intent to squish. Vasha predicted the arc of movement, jumping in the air before the foot had slammed into the ground. Finding purchase on the slimy skin of its tendons, Vasha used the Nidhogg’s next retreating movement as a springboard to land near its face.

“When I tell you, use all the force you have to drive that lance as deep as you can into that hole of an eye!” Vasha barked over the ever rising sound of the Nidhogg’s wails. He waited, observing the ebb and flow of the beast’s movements. The sickening squish of boils reverberated in his ears. Still yourself, Vasha. Patience. And then he felt the growing simmer of paralysis as the Nidhogg became overwhelmed, passing over its enormous flanks like a tsunami. “NOW!” Vasha yelled, waiting for the lance to appear from his peripherals before piercing the Nidhogg’s other eye in a flurry of strikes. The Nidhogg opened its broken jaw and angled its head upward, a torrent of air pouring from within as a great howl of agony. Vasha quickly took the opportunity, throwing himself into the beast’s mouth. His saber pierced the flesh of its tongue - a place to hold on before the Nidhogg reflexively swallowed him whole. It was much more slimy and hot than Vasha predicted. He could feel the tingling of pain from what he assumed were regurgitated stomach acids and other digestive enzymes. The damage would have to be severe he could actually feel the pain. He needed to act quickly.

Ripping his saber out and propelling it further down its throat, Vasha looked for the lymph nodes that he assumed would be at the very back. Occasionally light would pour in, casting vicious shadows across the bumpy texture of its tongue, almost looking like miniature mountains and valleys. Gods, was it massive - the tongue itself was nearly the size of a town square. It felt like an eternity before Vasha reached the back of its throat. His entire body was thoroughly soaked in the thing's blood and fluids. Groping around in the dark, he felt something much softer beneath his hands. Fleshy globules the size of adult sheep lined its vast palette. Hoping that this was what he was looking for, Vasha took hold of each one with his left hand and sliced through the back with his other, promptly stabbing his saber back into its flesh so that he wouldn't fall into the black hole of its throat. Upon each removal, the Nidhogg rumbled like an earthquake, nearly shaking Vasha free of his foothold.

How the fuck am I going to get out of here?




Vasha approves of The Bull's teamwork: +10
Vasha slightly approves of those that followed his advice: +2
Vasha approves of Ezra's fire making ability: +7

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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"This sword. Where it ends, and I begin."


There's was so much happening at once. Too many people with too many personalities, bundled and bunched into a group reminiscent of Orcish ranks. Certainly no chest pounding but she was sure that would come later—and if things couldn't get anymore surreal, an arm dropped around her shoulder and a familiar body drew her into a warm side-hug. Laetya. Her blue eyes softened. An inch of tension left her drawn shoulders, and a tremble-ridden sigh escaped her lips. Her mouth opened to say anything but then, the armoured man she'd bumbled into knelt forward and collected the needles she'd dropped and offered them back to her. No judging leer. No curled lip, insult curdling on his tongue. A simple gesture. Her mind whirred and stuttered, but she managed a soft-spoken, “And I, Gully Gragba.” Too stiff. But there it was. She accepted the bundle and sheepishly shoved it back into her satchel, underneath the helmet she'd been trying to extract.

While people like Ezra or Laetya or nearly everyone here wielded words as easily as she did her sword, Gully floundered and found herself having little to say. She did find Illeren and Ezra amusing, as well as she found Tane chivalrous and kind. Her words, however, stuck in her throat like those prickly needles. Conversation was devastatingly gut-wrenching. Instead, she remained swaddled in Laetya's embrace and glanced over shoulders when she heard someone thump against the ground. It appeared as if it were merely a shamble of rags and limp limbs, but people were already bending over to help him up, and Laetya was already leading them in the opposite direction. Her jelly legs disobeyed her willingness to incur aid. She moved like the river and flowed along with the group.




Moving away from Autumnor into more unfamiliar territory filled the silence she supposed she should haved filled with Laetya. Should she have asked what she'd been doing over the years? What had happened in Kyoshel on the wall? Why she'd disappeared and never returned? The details had not been told to her. Confidential as they had been. Questions were met with stern frowns, shaken heads, and cutting words that ended her queries. Her older brothers responses had always been grim. If even he wished not to speak of it... she wondered whether it would be appropriate to mention at all. Whether or not fortune smiled on her, she needn't fill in the gaps with her blubbering. Adriel's instructions began and she listened with rapt attention.

Ancient steel. She, too, smiled. This is where her little spark ignited. Words were words. Sounds to fill empty spaces. Emotions that did not quite fit in her palms. Giving and taking and giving again. Those were rivers she had not learned to cross yet—these oceans, however, were ones she sailed frequently. Like a sailor scrambling up ropes, relying on muscle memory, Gully's countenance shifted as her fingers tickled across the pommel of her blade. Fighting coloured her world when she could not. She could almost feel her heartbeat drum through her head. It was a song she leaned against for familiarity and comfort. And while she actively listened to Adriel's nonchalant admonitions, Gully's eyes followed the craggy quarry, dipping into darkness.

Even as the ground shuddered and trembled beneath their feet... it was the stench that bothered her most. Certainly unlike the softly-scented needles pushed to the bottom of her satchel. She would've liked to catch a whiff of it in that moment. Soon after, a shambling wreck of flesh shuddered from the recesses of the presumed nest and the Nidhogg bugled towards them. Vasha's useful knowledge would not go to waste. Avoid the walls when it clambered up them. Focus on it's neck-riddled boils. Consumption of rocks. Speedier individuals towards the front and slower, hardier ones towards the back. She fell somewhere in the middle. She shifted her weight and dropped the satchel to the ground. And she did not hesitate, throwing herself into a throttling sprint. Her left hand closed around the hilt of her blade and it sang free of it's scabbard.

Gully sprang into the air and relished the wind as it bit past her cheeks. Far more sprightly than her weight would impress. She tensed her legs and arms and landed across the Nidhogg's slimy back with her own, considerably-less disgusting one. Her momentum carried her all the way down it's thumping tail and she scored a flesh-wound with her sword, slicing down it's spine. She wove between her perhaps-someday companions and slipped her blade in Illeren's mentioned squishy-bits. Dipping underneath it's belly and diving away from it's stomping claws. It did, however, slap her away with it's hind leg, driving her into a loose-limbed tumble into the furthest wall. She crooked forward and wheezed. Fortune held. She'd managed to keep her sword in hand.

Stop!

She took another withered breath and pushed herself back to her feet. There was a wetness blooming down her neck. Blood. Her blood? Maybe, it's blood. She wasn't sure. Another shout sounded over the clamor of grunts, roars, and bloodcurdling screams. One of fury and rage—belonging to Gretchen, being tossed around like an angry leech. Vasha and the dark-man were dealing with the Nidhogg's razor-toothed maw. Everyone else was hidden beneath the Nidhogg's girth and stomping legs. She wanted to cry wait wait wait. That she would be there. That she was coming to help her. The words died, and where words died, actions persisted.

She hurtled forward into another calf-burning run and utilized her momentum to swing her sword in an upward arc beneath the screeching younglings rippling throat. Before it had the chance to dip it's head across Aura's face. Before it was too late. It's head tumbled beside Aura's face, and a neat spray of blood and whatever-else followed along with it. Grabbing the creature by the back of it's shoulder, Gully hefted it off of her with a grunt and exhaled sharply, trying to regain her lost breath. Everything was happening so fast. Too many people, too many different personalities. All bundled up. Fighting together. Her heart soared.

Gully wiped a grimy palm across the front of her leathers and offered it to Aura. A smile. Gore-spattered as she was, her eyes swilled with concern. Worry. Strange how battle changed how she felt so quickly. The nattering nerves striking doubt through her mind were mere afterthoughts, as long as this person... a stranger, was whole and fine. “We're not finished yet.”

Of course not.




Gulfim greatly approves of battle +50
Gulfim approves of Vasha's knowledge +10
Gulfim approves of everyone's fighting prowess +5

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: Kir Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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Kir
Strange noises came from below and a creature emerged from the place the great beast had broken through. Kir didn’t really have any intention of reacting to this, as he was busy doing as he was told and shooting ineffectually at boils, but then the elf with the hair began to shout about this new creature as he leapt down into the pit as well. Kir had new commands and had little issue in changing targets to the smaller creature. He was only able to target those that emerged into the light, but several found iron points spearing their way into their chests and legs with flimsy bits of wood sticking out before they were snapped by the writhing victims. One fell over itself once its leg was wounded, ushering forth a beastly cry before more wounds arrived to end its pain and its calls for help. Most did not get much more of an opportunity to do the same, especially if they were dealt with by some of the warriors amongst them.

Eventually the battle was done. The great beast lay still, the little beasts did the same, and the elf emerged from the darkness to address and gather those who survived, with Kir being addressed directly as the only one who had not gone down yet. And so he moved, quickly as everyone else had much less ground to cover to reach the elf and being the one holding everything up wasn’t something that sounded pleasant. He stumbled here and there on the passage down, not daring to take the more direct route some of the others had, and came to the grouping as the elf had finished discussing something that Kir did not have the hearing nor the attention span to catch. Thankfully, everyone’s attentions was focused either on the giant monster they had just killed, or the elf, leaving little left to notice the approaching archer. But then Gretchen had to appear into existence and perspective again and ruin everything, after which the group marched on to… somewhere.



The road was uneventful, especially for someone who did not take part in the revelry of the filth-covered warriors who had defeated such a great beast. Kir spent hours observing the road and the boots of the two elves and one human in front of him. That road sure had dirt on it, and those sure were some boots, likely with feet in them. The only thing that kept the journey from complete monotony was the recurring fear that that set of boots that was inching closer to him would suddenly attack, or that someone behind him might be staring—no, they were definitely staring. As word that they had arrived, Kir glanced up to see where, exactly, they were arriving to only to see stone walls and some large buildings behind them. A brief second was all he took to look upon them, not nearly as grand or terrifying as where he had already been today. Still more impressive than anything he had seen before today though.

They were lead through metal gates that clanged loudly behind them, and then marched through the city… town… it certainly wasn’t any village or like any of the towns Kir was accustomed to, nor was it close to the spires he had experienced earlier. It was a place, with big walls that put the architecture of his first twenty-eight years of life to shame, and that was enough information for him. Kir had never been to an inn, he didn’t even have the best understanding of what an inn actually was, his train of thought ending at the idea that it was a place people went to sleep, which they paid for. Luxurious and extravagant and lots of other big words that are hard to pronounce.

Then that orc from before, the one who had spoken and announced and disappeared before any fighting had occurred reappeared to speak some more. There was a congratulations, and a bit of a cheer from other people with things to cheer for, and then they were ushered in and Kir had his first experience with an inn: clean floors and brief images of clean walls. Then someone else, someone new, came to take them further into the building to be cleaned. While the desert dweller did like the feeling of being clean (from the brief moments of actually being so a few times in the past), he did not like the idea of cleaning himself in the presence of all these people. Sure, it was one thing to trot off to a corner to wipe his body down with a wet rag, but he would still need to expose himself to clean anything beyond his arms and torso.

The baths completely dumbfounded him, as did all the naked men rushing to them. It was all much worse than Kir had imagined and he was left rather well behind the people eager to clean the filth from their bodies. Kir, in the meanwhile, didn’t even look upon the baths themselves and took precisely none of his dirtied clothing off. He simply found a basin filled with precious, clean water and stood before it. He looked at it like a treasure he was stealing from, then looked to his sides to see if anyone was waiting nearby to punish him for what was certainly criminal of him to do, before tentatively laying his hands on the cool surface, the subtle waves lapping at his outstretched fingers. After a moment or two had passed and no one had approached or shouted at him, his hands took the plunge into the now-muddied water. He simply enjoyed the sensation of his submerged fingers wriggling slightly for almost a minute before he finally dragged his right hand up his left arm, pulling liquid with it. He would do the same for his right arm and then he practically splashed the remaining water onto his torso and spread it around with his hands.

When he was done, the once pristine basin and its immediate surroundings were left sullied as Kir walked away from it, waiting for himself to dry, and dreading the loss of what he was feeling right now. Thankfully, Kir was only covered in dust and dirt instead of the grime of beasts.



He eventually found his way to the room the people in charge had told him to go to. It was, like everything else, nice and clean, if a bit dark. The table in the center had many chairs, and none of them would be occupied by Kir even though his early arrival meant he could choose any which one he wanted. Sitting was nice, but those chairs were rather close together and that was a problem, so he stayed back towards one of the walls, not so much leaning on it as standing very close to it and at a slight angle. Others slowly filed in, taking this or that place for themselves until it was mostly filled with those who had been at the quarry earlier. Some seemed to make note of the man standing off to the side, but none called out to him or approached, thankfully. And then the orc, that orc, arrived to begin the thing they were doing.

Some made great gestures, others volunteered and traveled into the basement where some snake awaited them, and Kir just continued to stand there, the tension in his body building the longer he waited. Eventually he moved, which was apparently taken as a volunteering gesture as someone called out to him and the pressure to keep moving made it so. He went beneath the earth, and arrived in an even darker room with shapes he couldn’t make out too well at first. Guidance led him to the center and its stone slab, just as it tilted his body and lay him atop it. It was only the hand that reached for the cloth covering his face that elicited some manner of reaction: Kir recoiled violently, his knees bending and pulling towards his torso, his arms shooting up to cover himself, and his breathing becoming faster and heavier. It took a moment, but the reaction calmed, and his body returned to its, albeit tensed, relaxed position. The people were rather reassuring about it. And so what remained of his face in its entirety was revealed to them, with its stitched together cheek and its wild eyes.

In this atmosphere, with his face exposed and people looking at him, Kir barely made note of the snake that was to bring great suffering upon him until it had already struck out and dug its fangs into his skin. He flinched at the immediate pain of it, but it was nothing too horrifying, until it was.

His blood became salt and sand, ripping his body apart as the poison whipped it up fiercer than any wind ever could. His skin felt as if it was being peeled off and his bones shattered by some brute hammer. He would be dust at the end of this, taken and stirred by the poison’s current and scattered across the lands until there was nothing left. Or, at least, it certainly felt like his body was being torn into as many pieces as possible and being tossed across the land. Kir’s body quaked and quivered with the pain of it all, but there would be no need to force a stern mouth open and pull grinding teeth apart; his were open and bellowing a hellish cry.

A voice not used to activity and lungs not used to such a bellow announced Kir’s pain to the world. It was low, but hoarse and crackling from its lack of use, and it would do more than force others to listen. As Kir sent forth his screams, the skin on his face could not maintain itself from the force of his jaw extending as far as it could. The left half of his lips that had been sewn shut so long ago by rough stitching ripped open and the patchwork of his cheek did not fare any better. What were once lips half the size of the average person’s now doubled such an average. Blood obviously followed such a display, and coupled with the large opening his face now had, the antidote that would end his pain was sloppily delivered. Kir choked and gagged on the substance that obstructed his screams as it was forced down his throat, and the mush mixed with his blood and oozed out of his mouth and onto the platform he was being held down on. His squirming simply added to the second mess he'd be leaving behind today.

Either through the supposed antidote cutting off his supply of air or the pain finally stealing consciousness from him, sweet emptiness finally claimed him just as the snake's venom started to wane. Mercy always seemed to arrive far too late when it came to Kir.

(Kir greatly disapproves of everything and everyone because they only ever bring him pain and misery: -30 Approval)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Gretchen Character Portrait: Kir Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel

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He smelled like mucous, sulfur, scalded membranes and burnt infanticide; a potent and stimulating combination. Alluringly crispy, like she could dip her hands into his ribs and wrench out blackened flakes. Indeed, she snarled at him, snatching away her blade and muttering what little thanks she she could pridefully muster under her breath, but the back of her mind ran rampant with ways she might orchestrate her next interaction with Adriel. The way he sneered when he smiled, with the barest flash of pink above his canines. She knew already that she would be in a rut around the damn elf until she could fight him. Watching him tear down the leathery hillside that was once alive, Gretchen wondered if she might challenge him to an arm wrestle or hit him in the head with a rock from behind. She forgets which was more the acceptable thing to do in society. She knew, though, which of the two would amuse her more. Scaling down with less refinement, she merged into the walking pile of bodies in short order, making sure to grab her boots and cloak that she'd left on top of the cliff face before they fully moved on.

Like she'd failed to notice the large dark-skinned human vanish from their company on the way there, she failed to notice the disappearance of an elf on the way out. She was used to marching long distances, and spent most of it inspecting the new chips near the tip of her sword.

There were even more elves upon arrival. Great. She, for one, found it quaint that the guards up front did not react much to their odorous entrance, but she supposed all that armor had to have some use other than ensuring one would be a jumbled metallic mess should one trip while wearing it. The orc champion had been waiting for them, and she unkindly hoped he was stuck with his thumb up his ass for longer than he liked.

Another orc, a healer, gestured for her to come to him. Gretchen grudgingly obliged. She hadn't even noticed that she dislocated her shoulder, despite the limpness of the limb and how it felt like the open palm of a God reached under her skin and rubbed her nerves and tendons the wrong direction. It wasn't her dominant arm, and she supposed, when the medicine man inquired, she was just used to this sort of thing. Being launched into a wall by a catapault named Tane? Not exactly, but it sure hasn't been the first time. He was patient enough to tend to her as best as he could, so she kept her mouth shut, and they emerged friendlier than they might have otherwise. Then it was time to get clean. Normally Gretchen preferred to hoard her sweat and caked dirt, but even she knew where to draw a line in the sand, and that line struck straight through stinky bog drake organs. She entered the baths sometime after the others, had already made themselves comfortable, and Gretchen felt comfortable keeping to her goddamn self. After stripping off her mismatched armor and wiping off what she could, she toed her way to the shallow end of the bath. And she hesitated. She hated the feeling of water, how it tried to swallow her and lick at her. At first Gretchen only allowed the water to lap at the dry wounds on her feet and ankles, teetering at the warm edge with stagnant defiance. Then, designating a corner of the bath as her own, she allowed her waist and its dragging marks to be engulfed as well, and gradually deflated down to her neck. The bandit tried to distract herself by looking away and making notations of her female compatriots who also jutted of the water like reeds in a swamp.

And of course she stared; she had been around men for longer than she could remember.

The sultry, dark-haired elf Arayel seemed to be enjoying herself. She had a bust and waist ratio that almost made even someone as callous as Gretchen turn green and raise a brow, but the woman was soft-skinned. She may have gotten her hands dirty, but they were far from callused. The other elf Aurileith, meanwhile, had the slender body of a soldier, with sturdy arms despite her long fingers, and lined abs despite her long, carefree hair that pooled around her on the water's surface. The orcs took it even further than that. The one known as Laetya, especially, had the body of a farmer's very grown daughter who had never had a day's rest, and hadn't needed one. Her thighs, in particular, might have been worth buying the farm. The other one, Gulfim, the meek one that Gretchen was certain she would never understand, dipped and hid her breasts beneath the water, but it was translucent enough that Gretchen could make out the shape of a very nice butt.

Gretchen herself was more like a scratchpost than a human being, lined with indents and terrestrial rifts. Burns spilled across her limbs like ruddy spoiled milk. Even her earthly assets, her lovely sloping shoulders and distinctly female protrusions, were riddled with blemishes and puckered scars from violently withdrawn arrows. And she did not like her hair getting wet.

After thoroughly drying herself and dipping into her bag for her bedclothes--a sheet she adeptly tied into a sarong and a comfortable cotton shirt--she made her way to the meeting room, making eye contact with the orc Higoht and tipping her head away from him as she walked by. She was far from the last to arrive, but many of the seats had already been taken. She played eenie-meenie to decide on one, and then instead decided on a different one at random, slouching into her seat like the hooligan she was.

She smirked to herself, behind her hand (she couldn't stand the thought of the high adventurer buffoon thinking he'd won a smile), when the man named Ezra volunteered himself to be "first." Her initiation had taken place a week ago. Really, she wasn't certain she even needed to be in the room, or what they would do if she had gone straight to bed, but she rather felt like people watching a little more after leering at the ladies in the bath. The camraderie that already began to form at the seams was strange and alien, and to her, it was like pressing into a gilded cage with mythical creatures in it.

Why yes, she had been to the circus before, several years back. That was a different time, but her stance remained headstrong: her idle interest in no way meant that she wanted to be in the cage with them.

She had gotten the jist of what "Bo" described before, so she only half-listened to his schpiel. She hadn't known about the reward, though she supposed hers was her release from prison that she didn't fully appreciate. Gretchen wondered if she would be able to come up with alternative compensations even if she wanted to, as despite being a bandit, she never truly wanted for much. Perhaps the monetary reward would suffice.

"Good luck, Killer!" she had catcalled at her fellow cutthroat when it was his turn, shifting from her stubborn folded arms. Otherwise, she kept to herself until she got bored and left to go to bed.




Adriel lost -20 approval from Gretchen; she could have gotten it out herself.
Adriel gained +5 approval from Gretchen; she appreciated him wasting his time and his smell of death.
All women gained +2 approval from Gretchen; for having nice bodies.

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

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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: Kir

0.00 INK

Kir
Sometimes, when there are no dreams to occupy your mind as you sleep, it can seem as if nary a moment has passed since you shut your eyes long ago, only to find that the sun has risen. It was this sort of sleep, a blink that lasted hours, that often plagued the dreamless Kir for much of his life, whether he lay on the wood of his lost home or the sands of the desert or the dirt of what was once his cell. Today too his sleep had seemed so very short, and the distance between when he opened his eyes and the great suffering of when they closed was the same.

It hurt.

Kir awoke with a start in a softer bed than he had ever had with a clean cover and a pillow that supported his head, his sweat now soaking them all. His mind was groggy and awaiting a continuation of what seemed like a few seconds ago, he rose into a sitting position and supported himself with his right arm. Once he stopped expecting his blood once again try to rip its way out of him, a new pain emerged, radiating from the left side of his face. He winced when he noticed it, and he reached his free hand up to feel the spot that had not felt such pain in many years. He touched the maimed skin of what was once his cheek to feel the fresh stitching that someone had applied to his great wound. His fingers ran over each and every loop of whatever it was that now bound his face together, and then full consciousness finally came to him with a realization: he was touching his face, with his hand, with nothing obstructing such an interaction. His coverings had been completely removed and he knew not where they had gone to.

His eyes darted around the room, finally deciding to determine where it was they were as they scanned for dirtied cloth coiled in a pile somewhere. Thankfully no one was there to watch his display and see his face, but he did not know that before now, and he could have easily had the entire world staring at his face. Softness and sleep had lulled him out of wariness, and he could not have that, so he made a note to avoid them both. He had never left his face uncovered for so long after waking up on a dirt floor after barely an hour had passed, so that seemed like the safer option. As Kir settled on his ascetic plans for the future, his eyes found something that looked like they might be what he was searching for, but they were clearly different. Rags always adorned his face, dirtied and well-worn. But there, on a chair, lay a pile of cloth strips. They were brown in color, sure, but they were not stained in old blood and the dirt of travel, they were just that, brown. They were rough, but not tattered and barely held together by the tightness in which they were wrapped around their wearer’s head.

After making sure there really was no one else in the room, then making sure again, then making sure there weren’t any drakes or Nidhoggs or poisonous snakes, Kir shifted out from under his sheets and touched his now-bare feet down on the ground, flinching slightly at the cold feel of it. Flinging his weight forward, he became upright and began his steps toward the chair that sat his precious armor against the stares that await him outside this little room.

When he made the three steps between the bed and the chair, he reached tentatively for the pile of cloth. A growing worry seized him: that maybe said pile was really a coil, and said cloth was really scale. Inches away from the pain that snakes bring in this new world Kir has been marched into, he crept his fingers closer. A lack of wrappings was too much to bear, even if this was all just a cruel trick to bring more suffering upon him. His fingers touched the rough fibers, and he applied a slight pressure to this pile of a coiled snake.

There was no reaction, so Kir gently gripped the cloth between his index finger and thumb, and drew it up into the air to better see it and prepare to wrap it around his head. It didn’t lash it even when it dangled from his fingers, but he made sure to waggle it for a moment just to be sure. After this cautionary check, he went to work covering himself. Starting just above his right ear, layer upon layer of cloth began to hide his face as he worked his way up and then down, with a gap left for his eyes to peer nervously out from. He winced as the cloth made contact with his recent injury, and it stuck to the recently exposed flesh, but he kept going, making sure it was tight and tucked, with the extra cloth resting on his shoulders.

Once his face had been properly secured behind its cloth protection, Kir looked around the room once more, better taking in the details that weren’t related to headwraps, other people, or monsters. He sighted his bow and a quiver of what was left of his arrows from yesterday propped up against the wall near the door, and he quickly strapped them to his body, bow at the hip and arrows at his shoulder blade. Then he slowly pushed the door open, awaiting the moment when something or someone would appear to do something to him. Even with the door swung completely open, nothing arrived, so he went out and wandered until someone did arrive. Though he meekly flinched at their presence, he was ushered along to the lobby to a gathering of the people from yesterday. He found it difficult to pay attention to what the orc was saying, but he got bits and pieces and understood they were leaving to go somewhere. And so he left and went somewhere.



More roads felt the bottom of Kir’s boots, and they were thoroughly looked at by his eyes once more. It was a quieter journey this time around, without the happy cheer of having killed a monster and with the lack of knowledge on where they were going and what they’d be doing once they got there. It didn’t matter: Kir would go where he was told and do as he was told. Kir’s mind was occupied with his usual affairs of worry and paranoia, though pain had roosted as well with the sensations of his cheek flaring up with every few steps. He had barely noticed the smell until the group had been enveloped by it and everyone else had noticed, reacted, and pushed past it. His clothed face helped stem its onslaught, but it still crept up his nostrils. It wasn’t pleasant, but unpleasantness was something he had come to accept quietly.

Kir didn’t give as much attention to the town they were entering, his quick glance showed him it wasn’t the terrifying towers and walls of yesterday. As the group moved through the emptied town, he glanced to the sides, finding a lack of people to stare at him as they had done in the town they had just come from. The occasional body would show up on the side, but bodies stopped having an effect long ago on the bandit. There state, though, did make him glance twice so that nightmares could fill his head wondering what had caused it. Eventually, the living appeared, violently. Whether they were monsters or people mattered little, they brought more than peering eyes and abuse to threaten Kir with; claws and teeth and inhumanity charged forward.

Orders came from the orc rather than the elf this time. Spread out. Others seemed to take it as a command to run away from the group down this or that alley, but Kir simply distanced himself slightly from those around him and stayed well within range of them all. His wrappings limited his peripheral vision, and the creatures frightened him too much to allow such a tactical consideration to even enter his mind. He simply drew his bow from its quiver, grasp hastily for an arrow from his back, and steadied his hands well enough to lock the two together. Once again, loosing arrows at slobbering monsters shaped vaguely like people was much easier than it was to do the same against actual people during his life as a bandit, and so the arrows flew.

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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Image





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

0.00 INK

#, 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