Shadows of The Forgotten

Shadows of The Forgotten Open

Things seem to have calmed in the land of Valcrest. The war, the assassins' inner disputes, the peoples' demands for a solution... But is the land actually calm, or is this just a calm moment before a even bigger storm? (FULL)

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Owner: Blackbird26
Game Masters: Mr_Doomed, Blackbird26
Tags: assassins, magic, medieval, original, war (Add Tags »)

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Setting: Newhaven2011-11-24 01:34:33, as written by Trickster
After a through bath, she spent the next few hours working on the pile of reports that lay on her desk. Thomas had sent a note that she could put in her report later, Sham had given him what he needed for now. Taking comfort in not having to deal with anyone else, Mageria simply worked through an endless supply of lists, filling in blanks and marking checks as a way to avoid thinking. Finally though, she had to get up and get changed again, this time for the funeral of one of her closest friends, a beloved brother-in-arms that she would never be able to replace.

“Captain?” A soft voice drew Mageria’s attention from where she was pulling on her gloves. She was dressed in her seldom used full formal gear, that of a Black Knight.
“Yes?” Mageria’s voice was soft and even; too even. The Guard standing in the door shifted nervously.
“We’ve retrieved Sir Pondus’ sword. It’s in the armory.”
Mageria nodded and finished pulling on the hooded coat that went with the winter version of her formal gear. “Thank you.”

Slowly she walked down the hall, entering the private armory of the Black Knights and Guard. Along the walls hung a massive variety of weapons, those that were needed and those that were left behind. And toward the back was the massive sword that once belonged to Grim. Mageria sighed gently as she ran a finger along the scabbard. One more ghost to add to the ranks.

Walking past where the sword hung, she reached the very back, which held the reason that the Blacks kept their own armory separate. It held a small alter to Moon, their patron Goddess and protector. Mageria bowed her head, remembering the legend told to new recruits as they were accepted into the ranks.

There are no official records of the creation of the Order of the White Knights, and there aren’t any official records that even indicate the existence of the Order of the Black Knights, although it common knowledge that it does exist. However, much like almost everything in Valcrest, there is a myth about it. Some actually believe it to be true, while others simply find it entertaining to pretend that it is. Either way, nowadays it is the only known story of how the Knights came to be.

After Mother and Father punished the Twins by taking away their immortality, Sun and Moon became preoccupied for the humans who lived in Newhaven. They didn’t think they were prepared enough to maintain the city without them. For that reason they decided that they would leave their children behind to keep the city in peace.
As their eldest children reached adulthood, Sun’s first son was proclaimed the first Kings of Newhaven, and Moon’s first daughter the Queen. For years, even after the Twins had left Valcrest for good, Newhaven prospered.

However, as the Twins left the land, the war escalated more and more. Once it became clear that city needed to be protected further, the King and Queen decided they needed to form a proper army, more importantly; they needed people to command said army. The problem was that the King and the Queen had different views on how the situation should be handled. After a lot of discussion they finally decided on how they would proceed: They each hand-picked five human warriors and, over the course of five years, had them trained to the very best of their abilities.

Once trained, the five warriors chosen by the King received light silver armor, and shields that held the golden symbol of the Sun. They were sworn to an oath: To protect and maintain order amongst the people of Newhaven, to serve the Royal family and uphold the law above all else.

The five warriors chosen by the Queen were given Black armor and shields, as well as dark helms to conceal their faces; the darkness of their figures only broken by the dark silver crescent on their shields. They were also sworn to an oath: Surrender their body and souls to Newhaven; and protect the city from any harm, at any cost.

From that moment on the White Knights became the front of the ever-growing army of Newhaven, and the Black Knights their silent shadows.

It was an ideal that she had believed in for a very long time. She still did.

Leaving the room she came to a sudden halt. In the hall before her was almost her entire command, all of them dressed in their own formal uniforms. It was clear that they meant to join her, even if she hadn’t asked it of them. Bowing her head, she walked through their ranks, feeling them close behind her as they followed. As their boots hit the stone in unison, they fell into a marching cadence automatically. Together they walked through the back corridors of the Castle, through the slowly emptying streets of the City and out to where the ranks of the dead awaited them.

Mageria walked out on the field, her Guard and Knights grouped behind her. It was the beginning of true dark, the time for farewells and passing on. The night’s wind blew chill through their ranks, but the Black ranks were still beyond the rippling of their cloaks. Before her upon a burial pyre, lay the rows of the dead; the Salamanders that Grim had worked so hard to build for years.

And Grim himself.

One of the Guard walked forward, offering her a lit torch. Mageria took it, gazing for one last time upon the face of her friend. He had tried so hard to rise above the chains that his Enlightenment fastened upon him, but in the end, it ended up the same way it always did. Death’s touch was inevitable, but sometimes it was merciful. From the peaceful smile on his face, it seemed that in death he had found some of what he sought in life.

Stepping forward, she bent and held the torch to the oil soaked kindling stacked around the bier, watching as it caught with a crackle and leapt to fulfill it’s purpose. Mageria stepped back and rejoined the ranks of watching Guards, almost all of whom had been mercenaries or private guards at some point. Even though they didn’t know those who lay before them, they mourned their brothers all the same.

But their duty wasn’t done. Mageria tilted her head to the sky and took a deep breath, calling upon her memory of a dirge that she had sung far too many times already. Bell like, her voice rose above the crackle of the flame to rise toward the moon.

Soon the morning sun will rise,
And dawn will bathe the sky.
There's time for just this parting song,
Before we say goodbye.

Behind her the ranks stirred at last, their voices blending in a soft thunder to rise into the night as well.

So sing together one and all,
And raise a glass of wine,
Here's hoping we will meet again,
Along the road of time.

Mageria waited for the soft notes to fall away before she drew breath again.

We've shared our stories, yours and mine,
We've shared our hopes and fears.
With memories of distant youth,
We've all rolled back the years.

And once again the ranks of shadow-cloaked soldiers behind her raised their voices.

So sing together one and all,
And raise a glass of wine,
Here's hoping we will meet again,
Along the road of time.

Finally she felt the burn of tears in her eyes as the flames roared up, the cloaks of those standing around the fire billowing backwards, the glare of the firelight showing solemn sorrow on more than one face.

The ever-turning, fateful wheel,
Must cause our ways to part.
And bringing untold mysteries,
Another day will start.

The pain in her was a living thing, tearing at her guts until she thought she might rip herself open just to let it out. Mageria wrapped her arms around her chest, trying desperately not to break down before she was finished. She could do that later, but right now she had to finish her last duty to a man that she had trusted with more than her life.

So sing together one and all,
And raise a glass of wine,
Here's hoping we will meet again,
Along the road of time.

From above, pristine snowflakes started falling, dancing delicately down to alight on the ranks of mourners. Cold. She was so damn cold that she could feel it seeping all the way through her. She let it, it seemed to ease the pain inside until she could function. Strange though. The pyre was roaring in front of her, she should have been able to feel it. But she felt nothing.

Behind her the ranks drew closer, hands reaching out to one another; men who knew that someday it would be them lying there acknowledging that for today at least, it wasn’t. Several hands reached out to her, and Mageria let herself be drawn into the crowd, joining them for the final farewell to those who had sought to better the world around them; but standing alone all the same.

For from endings come beginnings,
From the old shall come the new,
With hopes for tomorrow,
We'll see our parting through.

Together they watched as the flames died, leaving naught but ash behind. The snow continued to fall, blanketing everything in a falsely comforting sense of serenity. Even though there was nothing left for her, Mageria couldn’t bring herself to leave; it felt that if she just waited long enough, the moment would shatter and she would wake up and find it had all been a bad dream. Just a moment more . . . If she just waited one more moment. . . . . From behind her a harsh wind blew up, whipping the mingled ash and snow up and away into the sky, leaving only the memories carried by the living to mark their passing. Mageria drew a breath and bowed to the inevitable. This moment wasn’t going to go away, no matter how hard she prayed. Grim was gone and there was nothing that she could do to bring him back. At least the cold that had seeped into her very core would make it easier to do her job; so long as she didn’t feel, she couldn’t hurt.

As one, they turned and walked back to the City; the living had their duties, even if the dead had found their rest.


Mageria made her way slowly up to her room. She wanted nothing more than to be left alone, lick her wounds in peace. The cold frozen feeling in her chest hurt, but in a distant way. She paced down the hall to her doorway, feeling as if lead weights were attached to her shoulders. Wearily, she leaned for a moment against the door, not even daring to hope that the night might bring some measure of relief. Grim was dead and gone and one more of her friends awaited her in Death's hall. There were so many of them there . . .

Forcing herself to move again, she pushed open her door, shrugging the coat off of her shoulders and tossing it towards the nearest chair in front of the fireplace. She stared blankly at the mantle before her eyes slowly focused on the Traveler's Blessing lamp still burning. A spasm twisted in her chest before she buried it under the cold again. There were two wicks burning, one for each of the people that she was waiting for.

Well, now one of them was at rest. Gently, Mageria reached out and pinched the wick labeled with the rune, “Strength through Courage”. Grim had finally come home.

Turning away, Mageria absently rubbed at the back of her neck as she looked around the room, her eyes catching on some of the weapons mounted here and there on the walls. While some of them were not what she would ordinarily use, they served as touch stones for the memories of the people who once bore them. There was one sword, hanging over her mantle that was far larger and more ridiculous than anything she would have ever used. But again, it was something that she held on to in memory and until she found someone worthy to carry it once again.

But tonight wasn’t a night where she wanted to relive old memories. Turning away, she opened the chest under the window, pulling out a bottle of wine. Maybe if she drank enough, she could sleep tonight. She got as far as cracking the seal and opening it before she had to stop. The last time she had drunk to forget . . . she roughly pushed the cork back into the bottle and slammed it down on the table. Fighting the increasing pain in her chest, she went to the window and pressed her forehead to the freezing glass, letting the memories wash over her.

A line of men and a few women stood in the dust of the training yard. In front of them paced one of the White Knights, speaking in a loud, grating voice.
“You all are the sorriest bunch of idiots that I have ever been forced into whipping into shape. You think that you know what it’s like to fight? You have no idea. You all are going to pair off and do your best to beat each other into the ground. You will not stop at first blood. You will not stop when you’re tired. You will stop, when I tell you to stop; and not one damn second earlier!”

Mageria sighed and waited to see who her partner was. To her dismay, it was one of the guys trying for White Knights, an overbred stick up his ass noble. Still, she took her weapon and lined up across from him, waiting for the signal to start. When it came, they both went after each other, while around them the other pairs quickly beat one another bloody. But for once, she and her opponent were fairly evenly matched. There were no rules to this fight, so he kept trying to knock her over with a sonic blast; while she was using every dirty trick she knew. Circling each other, neither of them could get an advantage over the other. Mageria could tell when Krander was about to let loose with an especially loud blast, because he always took a deeper breath than he needed to for fighting. When she saw that, she usually managed to duck to the side and dodge the worst of it.
“What’s the matter, girl? Can’t you do anything but swing a sword? Maybe if you concentrate you’ll develop an ability that will make you worth something.” Krander had a glint in his eye that suggested that he enjoyed trying to put her in her place. Mageria simply bared a smile, grabbed a handful of dust and threw it in his face the next time he took a deep breath. He choked and was forced to fight sword to sword while he frantically swallowed and spat, trying to clear the dust.

Finally it looked like he managed to clear his throat, taking an especially deep breath. Clearly he was looking for a bit of revenge. With her ears already ringing, Mageria took a chance and spun in a dizzying blur of blades, breaking through Krander’s guard and slamming her sword into his upper arm. Not seeing the point of actually cutting it off, she twisted her sword at the last moment and simply broke it. His jaw dropped in shock and his sword fell to the ground, choking and gasping with the pain, while he cradled his arm with the other one.

Mageria couldn’t help a tiny smile, this guy had been giving her shit about crawling out of the mud ever since she got to the Castle, it felt good to put him down in it. She dropped her guard just a bit and moved closer to where the noble stood clutching at his busted wing like he’d never had to deal with a broken bone before.
“Sorry about that, but you might want to learn to concentrate through the pain,” she offered helpfully, speaking softly to keep it between them.
Krander looked up at her and a flash of anger crossed his refined features. He took a quick gulp of breath and let loose a blast that impacted the center of her chest, flinging her backwards. There was a loud painful pressure to her ears, a popping sensation, then nothing. Absolute silence. She actually flew backwards about ten feet, before crashing into the ground in what she presumed was a clatter of armor. Dizzily, she pulled off her helm, rubbing one ear with her hand. There was blood on it, and a second swipe showed that the other ear was the same. The bastard had shattered her eardrums.

Krander smirked at her and flashed the hand sign for Surrender.

She glared right back and replied with a decidedly non-military signal of her own.

-years later-

“I’m sorry Captain. But there’s no sign of him. Just his sword, stuck in the ground.” The Guardsman in front of her shrugged apologetically before setting an entirely too familiar weapon on the table in front of her. Mageria reached out and grasped it, rotating it from side to side to check for damage. Too ornamental for her taste, too long to be properly balanced, too flashy to serve; but that was Krander all the way. She swallowed and held her emotions tightly in check. “Are you sure?”
The Guard nodded. “Aye, Captain.” He hesitated. “That area, ma’am. There was heavy fighting, damage from some thrown boulders, a couple of houses that burned down. Add that to the Blackpond forces getting in . . . Honestly, I don’t think that there’s anything for us to find.” He shuffled his feet uncomfortably for a moment. “We did find some . . . remains in some of the rubble, but we can’t be sure . . .”
Mageria nodded and dismissed him with her thanks, trying to focus on the sea of reports before her. Things had been so chaotic that she wasn’t even sure when Krander had vanished; it had been days before he was missed. Then she had assumed, hoped really, that he was simply in a ward somewhere, and hadn’t reported in for some reason that would only make sense to his twisted noble mind.
But all injured had been accounted for. Her spies in the Blackpond Castle had ascertained who all was being held there . . . the White Knight Captain was not one of them. He was simply gone.
Missing, presumed dead. That was the column that she added his name to on her reports; wielding the quill with a heavy hand. Then she took a deep breath and got up. There was more that she had to do, as a friend more than the Captain.

She did manage, however, to hold her tongue until she got to Krander’s rooms. There was an air about them that made it seem as if he could walk back in at any moment. Which she had to accept wasn’t going to happen.
“Stupid, arrogant, over-dressed, smug, son of a bitch” she snarled at the empty chair where he liked to sit during the evenings they spent talking. “How many times; how many times did I tell you, did I prove to you that having an Enlightenment didn’t mean that you were the greatest swordsman around?” With anger making her every movement over forceful, she started sorting through Krander’s desk, searching for his journal. Given how maudlin both Krander and Phelix were, she had no doubt that it contained things that no one else should see. The key she found in a secret compartment in the very back of the desk that she had helped him make.
“But did you ever listen to me? Noooooo, why should you? I’m only a commoner who crawled out of the dirt; of course you know better than me.” Oddly enough, she didn’t find it at all strange that she was yelling at Krander’s ghost. A quick search through the cloths chest revealed a bracelet that she knew had appeared after one of Phelix’s visits; that went into her pocket for safekeeping.
“Honestly, how the hell do you think I stayed alive all these years? It’s because I, unlike some people, had a realistic idea of what I could and could not do.” The rest of the room didn’t hold much that she thought she needed to take away for safe keeping; she only noticed a sketch hanging on the wall because of a trick of the light. The face was in shadow, but she recognized the body, even though she was pretty sure that Phelix had never looked like that. The rose colored glasses of love, she supposed.
“Damn it, Krander, what the hell am I supposed to tell Phelix about this?” Briefly she closed her eyes and shook her head; feeling a heavy weight settle on her shoulders. She hated having to notify the family of the dead.

At the door, she turned and scanned the room one last time to make sure that she hadn’t forgotten anything. His armor could go into storage, she certainly couldn’t keep it in the corner of her room. Everything else was simply the normal things that anybody would have, nothing that she needed to hide. With a shuddering sigh, she looked down at the journal in her hands, wondering just what it held. Something trickled down her cheek, she wiped it away without noticing. With a final sniff, she looked back at the empty chair, almost able to imagine her friend sitting there and saluting her with a glass of wine. Then she shook her head and turned to leave, one last time. “Goodbye, Krander.”

Mageria the weights on her shoulders getting heavier. As soon as she could, she had taken the enormous risk of sneaking into Blackpond and leaving a note in Phelix’s home that she needed to talk with him. But he had never responded. With everything that had happened, she was forced to assume that he was dead as well, because nothing less would have kept him away, not for three years. The night that she had been forced to admit that they were both dead, not long after Grim had left, that was the last time she had gotten blistering drunk while trying to wash away the memories with a bottle of whiskey. But all that had achieved was leaving her with an enormous headache. Not something that she cared to repeat.

So instead she sat at the table in the center of the room and started pulling off her armor bit by bit, setting the pieces in front of her as she loosened them. She got about halfway through before she simply stopped, lacking the will to continue. It was another moment that time seemed to stretch oddly, leaving her with no idea how long she had sat there before someone knocked on her door. She wanted to ignore it, but her sense of duty was too strong. With a sigh, Mageria pushed up from the table and slowly made her way to the door, struggling to keep a pleasant expression on her face.