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Higoht Ezengbo

The First - Champion. "Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust. Or grow barnacles."

0 · 654 views · located in Tegea

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

Description

Zhu Lin Shen Chu

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"Call me Bo."



































INTRODUCTION







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"I am Higoht, eldest born of house Ezengbo and decorated military hero according to my mother and some others. Circumstantial champion of Kyoshel."

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"Hahahaha! I was strongly persuaded by an uncommon union of elves and orcs to lend my services to some oddly named new movement against the Pestilence. What of you? Will you seek to join the cause?"


[B A S I C S]
Nicknames: Bo, Boyscout, Bodacious---. Only other orcs call him Higoht.
Gender: Male.
Age: Twenty-nine.
Race: Orc.
Origin: Kariyan of the orc homeland, Kyoshel.
Voice: Bo commands a dominating tenor. He does not scare so much as he is deeply discomforting to cross. Makes you fidget and flutter in the heart a little. He enunciates and chooses his words a little too carefully sometimes, but otherwise is not unpleasant to listen to. He is never rude, unless he is awkwardly-confidently trying to jostle you.
Less confident sample.
Class: Champion.
Offensive/Defensive: Defensive.
Magical Affinity: Low; some understanding, no true practicality.




































PHYSICALITY



[A P P E A R A N C E]
ImageHair: Black, long, and a bit greasy! He's often needed outside, and has little time for grooming aside from tying a ponytail or knotted braid.
Eyes: His irises are a deep brown, and may as well be black.
Complexion: His skin is a rich olive green, flushed in all the right places. At his age, Bo is at the pinnacle of health.
Height: 6'3". Shorter than most orcs, but a decent height compared to other races. Yes, he hits his head on doorways.
Build: Firm, a masculine inverse triangle with broad shoulders.
Weight: 230 lbs.
Body Markings: Orcs generally hold their bodies sacred, so he does not have intentional piercings or discolorations. Honestly, those disturb him a little. He has a large scar on his left arm towards the shoulder, two small scratches on his cheekbone and forehead.


[D E S C R I P T I O N]
Bo smiles too easily--about literally nothing. It is not so much a giddy or playful look, but a calm expression that speaks volumes of understanding. This has given him some laugh lines and slight creases at the eyes, but he does not look too much older than the mid-thirties. His face is square, with thick eyebrows, and at times will appear stern when he has nothing to say. His lower canines are slightly larger than a human's, and can bulge through his jowls if he grits his teeth. Compared to other older orc males, he is not as stocky, but carries himself with the same rigidity one would expect of his kind. He stands straight and tall, rarely bowing his head and always eye level with the horizon.
Oh, and that green skin is pretty noticeable, isn't it? Bo has never considered it to be too unusual, though it does give him some trouble with finding complimenting clothes sometimes. A lot of times. He's found the hard way that red is not his color.


















































Moral Alignment Lawful Compassionate.

MENTALITY

[P E R S O N A L I T Y]
Bo is confident in himself, and it shows through his posture and attitude. This does make him come across as rather awkward to others when his confidence seems misplaced, and generally people will feel uncomfortable being around him--even if they respect him deeply. In the middle of a feast? Why, Bo can eat in bigger bites than you, and he is not ashamed! Someone tells a joke? He laughs aloud even if he does not find it funny. Shameless! He is not a braggart in words, but all his actions seem very loud for some reason. He is, however, nothing if not deeply respectful, and calm in times of turmoil.
The green giant is humble, merciful, and always sympathetic. He devotes most of his time to listening, and is careful to remember important information. Like many other orcs, he is personally dedicated to performing all facets of his life with care and utmost integrity. However, one would falter in describing him as kind, as he does not barter in favors, and can be bullheaded when he feels an action or statement is lacking in reason--you will not touch him if there was a risk of catching the pestilence, you will not set up camp before you reach the next check point. His belief in others that they would agree that they were being unreasonable, however, is unshakable, and also quite unreasonable in its own right.
He has a high reverence for his countrymen, and a reasonable level of respect for other races until proven otherwise. Innocent until proven guilty and all that.

[F E A R S]
Bo does not like the dark much! He never lets it show, but those who listen carefully would find he is a little hastier to find a light source or an escape route. Persuading him to enter a murky cave or traipse through fog is a challenge worthy of champions just like him. He will get clever and cute, though, and will suggest alternate paths to take that are not so taxing on his nerves.
His decision making in the dark tends to be very evidently compromised.

[Q U I R K S]
  • He laughs. A lot. Just short of boisterously. He has a booming laugh if you actually manage to amuse him. Bo frankly does not find many things funny, but truly enjoys humoring others. As a culture, orcs wordlessly emphasized a stoic, immovable demeanor, so if he's not laughing, he has a bit of a resting bitch face.
  • The only times he uses his full name in proper formatting is when he is writing it down, which he enjoys. He hasn't quite decided how he most likes his name to look yet. Does he want large arching lines, or tight and rigid penmanship? So many choices.
  • Liquor is not an aspect of orc society. Due to his strict upbringing, Bo takes great care not to overdose, but he does appreciate when his allies introduce him to these crazy new flavors. He does, however, rather dislike wine.
  • He loves to play board games. And card games. And drinking games. Don't let him goad you into playing games with him. The stakes are always stupid, and if you lose he will require you to embarrass yourself or sit uncomfortably for an hour.
  • It embarrasses him at an unreasonable level to speak of his skills or feats, and he will always clear his throat and attempt to modestly change the subject.
  • Removing his clothes in company also rather goes against his values and upbringing, though oddly, he seems to be more prude about his torso than his lower body.

[E T H I C | V A L U E S]
He does not attack unarmed targets, and prefers not to kill opponents when they are down or unconscious. He has many times patiently waited for enemies to return to their feet and probably asked if they were ready for their final moments. Of course, in the case of battling diseased hordes, he cannot always be afforded such a moral luxury. Otherwise, he follows The Path as faithfully as he can, though being more a trained warrior and than a trained everyday orc, his grasp of it is not the best at times.

[A G E N D A]
He rather hopes to pass forward the luck that saved him from the initial spurs of the pestilence. Having watched kinsmen and enemies succumb to the damned thing, he feels it worth dedicating his life to purging the pestilence from Tegea. No one should suffer its evil--except perhaps the bastards who spread it.


















[L I K E S]
    • Moonlight. He has an affinity for the moon in general, and enjoys basking in the rays. This means he prefers to bathe at night, and sleep in a clearing under the stars.
    • Girls are cute. Orc girls, human girls, elf girls. He likes to flirt on the rare occasion, but hardly pursues anything beyond a smile--mainly due to his recent marital status. Women are good too, he's sure, but he's had little experience with women his age.
    • Men are great! He loves being out with the boys and learning more about the people he works with. He always finds many ways to have a good time.
    • Meditation. When not rushed to be elsewhere, he will spend some time when he wakes and before he sleeps to continue finding a oneness with the world.

[D I S L I K E S]
    • Mosquitoes are the one creature wherein he quite frequently questions its right to survive as a species.
    • The ocean is big. And dark when you get deeper. Ennnhhhh.
    • Elven food. No more, never again.
    • Being questioned extensively, which makes him uncomfortable. When he gets uncomfortable, he gets annoyed.
































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]
  • Charisma: [Average] - ★★★☆☆☆ His ability to persuade is not the highest, but damn if he doesn't often know what's best. He's rather like the mother of the group, but will spare you the "I told you so"s. While he has much to learn as a leader, his generally positive outlook also allows him to easily find companions and develop friendships.
  • Tactical Withdrawal [Competent] - ★★★★☆☆ While far from the most cunning man you've ever met, Bo has always had an escape plan ready both for himself and for the enemy (should he feel they are sufficiently frightened or defeated). While this is not representative of orcish military might, Bo would never regret allotting spared lives into battle. Until recently, Bo's men had a significantly higher survival rate than most.
  • Raw Might [Strong] - ★★★★★☆ Being a bigger guy, and from a culture that values strength above all else, Bo has a naturally strong right hook. His physical prowess is not earth shattering, or anything that would be a crisis to the imagination, but he is able to subdue outbreaks and brawls very swiftly. Through training under his master Luenne, he has learned to utilize his body better than the average fighter.

[C L A S S | S K I L L S]
  • Immovable: [Competent] - ★★★★☆☆ Due to his physique and armor, it is difficult to make him bend in all senses. He is, however, far from a Juggernaut in defense. His transition to the class of Champion has given him more knowledge of how to hold his ground, but his journey to be an unyielding mountain is further ahead still.
  • Magic resistance: [Learning] - ★☆☆☆☆☆ If he can grab a mage by the head, he can extinguish any fires they create. He has learned a little of the orc art, having been brought up in a world so skeptical of the mystic, but his youth and lack of firsthand experience with magic limits his strength in this regard. A skilled Cleanser would be able to stop projectiles and cause a spell to implode within a sorcerer from great distances. Bo can maybe try something similar if he gets his hands on the enemy spellbinder first, but he's more liable to accidentally pop their skull in the attempt. At the very least, his thick skin allows elemental attacks to affect him more slowly than most.
  • Red Streak [Scrub] - ☆☆☆☆☆☆ Giving it your all is a common orc motto. His personal embodiment of the phrase is through hefting his metric ton weapon over his head, and letting it soar like a deadly comet. However, he's never actually done this before, and hasn't had time to really practice his aim since the epidemic broke out.

[SPELLS | POWERS]
  • Aura of the Emperor: [Average] - ★★★☆☆☆ The longer you fight the orc, the heavier the burden. Bo's latent talent takes the form of an overwhelming drain on the senses, and a reflection of his direct and confrontational nature. By contrast, being surrounded by enemies revives his energy over time. Its strength has increased exponentially as attunes himself to the champion class. This skill is passive, and he has little control over it. It has caused perfectly amicable conversations with him to be an exhausting task through ill intent of his own.

[W E A K N E S S E S]
  • Mercy over reason: Forgiveness is a virtue. Bo is loathe to call himself naive, as he's quite aware that his sparing nature can one day return to rip out his throat. It is a risk he's willing to take in order to live up to his ideals--needless to say, this trait has been known to frustrate those close to him.
  • Shallow second skin Evidenced by a few dents in the chest and pauldrons, one can surmise that orcs aren't known for their brilliant armor. As such, Bo can take a few hits, but in a serious battle will typically will keep opponents at bay with his long reach.
  • Magically disinclined Magic is rather confounding to him, really. Like many orcs, he's not certain he likes it much at all. He has little resistance to it, and zero ability to perform mindbending feats.
  • Slow reaction: Considering he'd spent most his time as a leader by staying toward the back and allowing his men to prove themselves, he is not always quick to the uptake when he is required to respond. Not to say that he does not pay attention to his surroundings, but his experience in countering a real surprise attack has been modest.



"'Higoht the Fearless Leader'! No? 'Higoht the Great and Mighty'?
Then no, I can't think of anything else dorky my hometown would think of calling me."






































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ARMAMENT


[A R M O R]
Bo wears a medium-heavy warlord set, with a deep gray base and protruding bits. There is a large gemstone inlaid in the center of his lower torso.

[C L O T H I N G]
Matching his armor, Bo wears darker, neutral colors, as he's found that humans find his appearance strange if he were to wear much else. He's recently purchased a silk jacket he quite fancies from an elven trader, and his trousers are custom made to be both trim and malleable.

[I T E M S]
A warhorn to signal retreat, a loaf of elven hardtack, a skin of water, a sharpening stone, oil, a small axe for chopping wood, and pieces of charcoal for drawing diagrams on the ground. He also wears an anklet of twine.

[T O K E N S]
A toy soldier; bonus affection if its an orc soldier.

[P R I M A R Y | W E A P O N]
Weapon Name: Talatae.
Weapon Type: To Bo it is a spear, to others it might as well be a tree with a pointy bit at the end.
Length: 8 feet tall.
Weight: Very heavy.
Origin: Talatae was passed down from generation to generation, like most Orcish weapons. That being said it shows signs of its previous owners, and its age. There are legends that the older a weapon is, the stronger it is. While Bo doesn't necessarily buy into this, he does know that there's a certain quality about these old weapons which makes them hard to beat nowadays.

[O T H E R | W E A P O N S]
Weapon Type: Short sword.
Length: Three feet.
Weight: Heavy.
Origin: This weapon is standard for most soldiers. It is sturdy, reliable, and he always keeps it handy at his hip. While not especially good quality, it'll do the job of a secondary weapon most easily.







































































































































































































































































BACKGROUND



[M A R I T A L | S T A T U S]
Engaged, once.


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

    | H a r m o n g e | [ 100 ]
Oh yes, he is a mummy's boy through and through. As his father passed shortly before his birth, mother Ezengbo always doted over him and ensured he had everything he needed to live a fruitful life. She was the one who sought out tutors in every field, and even arranged (in her opinion) the best female to be his for the taking. While Bo did not always deem her actions to be wholly necessary, it stands true that her choices have benefited him intrinsically, and few other mothers would have provided their children with such an immense number of opportunities. She is disappointed that her efforts may be a bit of a waste due to his current venture, but she still loves him deeply, and does not regret raising him to become who he is today.

    | G o s o l | [ 80 ]
The eldest of his younger cousins, currently replacement head of the household in Bo's absence. The boy is considerably younger than him, but considering how desperately he has followed in Bo's footsteps, and how hungrily he hung from Bo's every word, he was confident that Gosol would be a competent leader. If not, his mother could politely guide him to the right path.

    | K a l i | [ 45 ]
Ah, she doesn't really count, does she...? Kali is his ex-fiance. She was tall, with beautiful shoulders and hair like a waterfall. Their arrangement was, well, arranged, and he really never got to see much of her during his time promised to her. He still feels a little bad calling off their imminent marriage in order to go risk his life saving the world, but in the long run she would be better off with a man who could stay to protect her (and be protected by her, too, of course). Regardless, Bo never really knew her that well, but has maintained some chastity as a courtesy.



[O C C U P A T I O N]
Why, a very similar thing to what he's doing now! Bo has spent most of his tactical career as a leader; he was born into a position of authority beginning with personal guards, and to everyone's surprise, he was always rather decent at it. However, he was not so renowned until they discovered a rather quaint immunity he happened to have, and Bo still has mixed feelings about gaining his fame in this way.


[S O C I A L | R A N K]
For orcs and elves, quite high. Most humans will still see him as a silly barbarian orc, if a fancy armored one that wasn't too terrible on the eyes if you looked at him from the right angle. They might offer him minor luxuries that most orcs would never see (such as a larger room or nicer weapon--surely one in such nice armor had money to burn), but it will be very unusual for a human to treat him as an honored guest.

[O P I N I O N S]
  • Humans: While most orcs rather dislike humans on premise alone, Bo tries exceptionally hard to keep an open mind. They are capable of dastardly things, but Bo believes they are also able to perform acts of great love! ... Not that he's ever seen it firsthand... His journey to Autumour will be his first time seeing human civilians, and he's a little excited for the chance.
  • Elves: The enemy of my enemy is my friend, yes? The only elf he's ever really spoken to on a personal level is Adriel, and while the leaders seem a little pompous, he's certain they have their reasons. The actual people though, are awfully nosy. He's something of a minor celebrity to them, and they have pestered him for some disturbing factoids--what was a sick orc village like? How many did you kill? How many were your own men? Many of these elves have never seen an orc before and are quite young, but needless to say, they did not leave the best impression on him, and he's not too keen to return to an elven city anytime soon. And he hated their food. Uck!
  • Orcs: The best race! Bo deeply appreciates and loves his society, and credits every positive aspect he's got to their capable hands. He never questions the Oligarchy, and while their decisions can make him uncomfortable at times, he always follows orders to the letter. Orcs are his most steadfast comrades in arms, and having spent the majority of his life among them, he can find little to fault of their culture. Although he will admit he's not as superstitious as some of the older ones, any women he works with rather have trouble with him, because... he gets a bit overprotective. In orc culture, women are meant to be pure and save themselves for marriage, and he's not able to make exceptions even with female soldiers. He's thrown punches over it whether they like the attention or not.
  • The Pestilence: Probably the only thing that offends him.
  • The Diseased: Heartbreaking.
  • Silver Knights: Actually, he can empathize with them pretty well. Bo has nothing against them, although he understands their difference in founders can cause some disagreements. He's prepared for that, though he may not be thrilled by the idea.
  • The Serpent's Gathering: He's just thankful they were able to round up as many brave souls as they did.
  • The Mission: Some might call it suicidal, but to him the only way to describe his task is that it "must be done."



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

    | O r c B r o | [ 76 ]
"I think I like me."
Bo feels there are always decisions that could have been made with better judgement, and mistakes that could have been avoided. However, he's not one to beat himself up over the past, or really have too many regrets at all. He has too much left to do, and too many favors he owes to the world, to dwell too deeply in his thoughts.

    | A d r i e l | [ 61 ]
"You mean my arm candy."
This guy, Bo likes in a weird way. Not really a friend way. Does Adriel even have friends? In the many years that they've been loosely acquainted through their mutual teacher, Bo has only ever seen him alone. He is fully aware, however, that they are both incredibly loyal to their people, and that with this assassin he would not have the factor of betrayal to consider. Adriel was just so old and, in Bo's honest opinion, acts rather immature for his age. And he's really rather mean sometimes. He keeps calling Bo "serass" or something like that, Bo doesn't understand if it's a curse word or what. :'(
It's something of a toxic relationship that they have; any communication that stemmed from feelings, any expression of insecurity or doubt, was deeply taboo for Adriel. Maybe that was for the best.


    | G r e t c h e n| [ 3 ]
"I'd rather not know her opinion, actually."
Uh.... manners? Rather unacceptable. General vibe? He dislikes it strongly. But she's capable enough, and keeps up with them. Catches onto things quick. He's not sure what to make of such a despicable person being a woman. Currently, he rather fears Adriel's going to find a way to drop her off a cliff--you know, in secret, sneaky-like. Bo is not sure if there would be any real consequence to this, however.


    | T a n e| [ 56 ]
"Good to have a soldier, and perhaps a friend."
Due to his size, Bo almost forgets that he's human. But Tane seems like a good person, which... to be very, very honest, has allowed Bo to heave a giant sigh of relief. He really didn't want to get a bunch of bandits representative of the elven and orcish alliance. Really, Tane has already gained a lot of respect from this orc, and Bo expects great things to come.


    | K i r| [ 51 ]
"What the hell happened to this poor creature?"
Bo feels awful just looking at him; such a man would never have come to exist in orc society, and he is appalled that the human race has done... whatever it's done, he can't even imagine what, to make Kir so anxious about everything. Had he been born an orc, he would never know fear.
Needless to say, if anyone treated Kir with exceptional cruelty, Bo would be extremely put out.
//Adriel brought to Bo's attention how very strange it was that Kir was even with them, but Bo has determined that the man is here to stay.//



    | L a e t y a| [ 60 ]
He grumbles quietly.
Of all the orcs to show up... Bo doesn't know if he wants to headbutt her affectionately or angrily. While he suspects he would more readily forgive her than the remainder of the Oligarchy she so colorfully insulted, right now he's not too sure what to make of his estranged relative.
First of all, she needs to cover up her goddamned shoulders. What is she thinking, flaunting them like that? People will talk, Laetya.
//"I just wish we could have a real heart to heart without something stupid coming up. Oh, well... She's strong, and I'll just have to believe in that."//



    | E z r a| [ 53 ]
".....?"
Bo is rather pleasantly confused that someone with such an enormous ego managed to come into existence. Good for him, Bo thinks? He seems capable enough, and the orc is more than happy to humor him as Ezra goes on about his exploits. Humoring others remains one of Bo's favorite hobbies, after all.


    | B e r l i o z| [ 56 ]
"Hm? Hm, him. Good man, I think."
He seems so nice and modest, Bo thinks he rather likes humans after all. :) Although he, too, is rather reminiscent of an orc... other than the wayward expressions and casual demeanor, but hey, Bo won't hold that against him.
//"He, er... he seems a bit confused for some reason, I can't quite put my finger on it. I'll have to have a chat with him, I suppose."//



    | G u l f i m| [ 64 ]
"Ah. Hello again."
Finally, a noble warrior--
Ah... Ah, Gull, was it? Yes, he remembers her, the cute young thing that tries so hard. Though she's gotten older now, hasn't she? Good work. Yes. Her inquisitive nature is almost a source of comfort for Bo; he just wishes the rest of his party were as comfortable with him. But, well, no rush, he's sure they'll get there eventually.
//"I should find time to catch up with her, shouldn't I?"//



    | A r a y e l| [ 61 ]
"Well... she says she's here altruistically...."
He supposes he doesn't have a reason to doubt it until he has a reason to doubt it. Right? For now, she doesn't seem like a bad addition to the team, but he's sure Adriel will come to him harping thoughts and advice soon enough. Assassins are his Second's forte, after all.
//"Color me surprised; she makes for some pleasant company. I just wish she didn't have to swing her hips like a pendulum when she walks. Adriel would tease me mercilessly for even noticing..."//



    | A u r i l e i t h| [ 60 ]
"Oh. It's nice to see her again... er, so soon!"
Well, it seems something nice has come out of that silly gala, at least. Was that old man her father? Bo had such a hard time guessing this sort of thing when it came to elves. Regardless, he already has a good impression of Aura, and he doesn't foresee it fading. She was oddly funny, for someone so serious. He wonders if he pulls off the same quirk as endearingly as she does?


    | I l l e r e n| [ 37 ]
"A bit off the beaten path, but he's not a bad person."
He had to admit that the elf's early outburst would have made him crack a smile if not for his remarkable amount of composure. He's certainly different from the other elves--sounds different, fast-talking, self-depreciating--which Bo certainly has nothing against considering his poor impression of the average elven citizen. He's not confident his Second will take to his qualities as kindly, but Bo feels it adds a good dynamic to the group. Inappropriateness aside, it could help them lighten up a bit. Break the ice. As long as he doesn't outright harass poor Gulfim, they cool in Bo's book.
Also, it seems he's already developing friendships, which warms the cockles of this dad-orc's heart.
//"He doesn't know that I am a 'igh born dicker... I'm waiting for the right moment to tell him my secret."//



    | V a s h a | [ 51 ]
"I think I recall the name. The elves had nothing but good things to say during their recommendation of him as my Second."
And he certainly seems quite the prodigy, with an unruffled demeanor that Bo deeply admires. He foresees them getting along very well on a professional level. If Vasha proves intelligent and trustworthy, Bo may wish to consult with him on affairs of tactics and morale. You know, military leader stuff. Not to say that Vasha's opinion would be overriding Adriel's, of course! What does Adriel think of this guy, anyway?
//"I heard you beat up my snake wrangler after your strange journey down the nidhogg's throat! Eventful fellow, aren't you? Anyway, I'll have to thank you for not killing him."//






Image


[B I O | H I S T O R Y]
Though he was an only child, he was always surrounded by younger friends and relatives. They flocked to him like goats to an orc holding a grassy sock, and he always relished the attention. He was the two-year-old "Man" of the crew, the mastermind behind the misfits. He goaded the other children to get stuck on trees and race and play mock cavalry battles. More than anything, he loved to explore. His posse would be significantly reduced when he wandered out too far (what with parents saying "no"), but they would bring home small treasures for their collection: colorful rocks, broken arrowheads, funny looking sticks, an especially long blade of grass. You name it.

Bo was stone hopping several feet from his house when he felt a puncture on his left shin. His mind unfocused almost immediately, and in place of reason was the sensation of a thousand spiders, with daggers for legs. He threw up multiple times as he felt his organs writhe and churn. His mother was quick to find him in his pathetic state and quick to kill the styx snake that had bitten him, gathering her kinsmen to scout the area for a nest. Bo was very, very lucky. His birth into the Ezengbo house as an only son, and the only heir, meant that his mother had stockpiled medicines of all sorts, and she was able to save his life with a crushed mixture of a rare flower that seared his tongue.

This experience, combined with him tying poison ivy around his leg (don't ask--he was not the brightest child), encouraged his fretting mother to hasten his academic and martial lessons. He was an unprecedented three and a half years old when he was sent away to study under a master.

Luenne was the name of the one who would command his daily schedule. She was large, no-nonsense, but astoundingly kind. She had even taken in a very rude adult elf for some time, to help him get his head back on straight during his midlife crisis. For the most part, they meditated. Sometimes the master had them do chores. He never complained, as he knew never to disrespect someone older than he was. This also included the elf, who surprised him every rare instance that he spoke. Bo had never seen an elf before, and was startled to find that they were sentient!

Training continued. He seldom questioned his master, but came to have more of a need to understand her cryptic words as he grew older. It took time, but when she answered, he would understand. When she requested, he would affirm. At ten, he mastered complete obedience. The following season, he learned to silence his mind, and retain self-restraint regardless of circumstance. He spent nine more years under his teacher's care, and was sent to various other tutors before finally returning home to make claim of his title of Head of the Ezengbo house, and to receive the warmest hug from his mother to welcome him back.

She'd busied herself desperately in the time he'd been gone. Mother had arranged a marriage, and secured him a position as a lieutenant. After all, orcs required military service of their people when they reached the age of twenty, and there was no better time to make a name for yourself than right after the embargo was lifted.

He complained a little that she was so eager to shoo him out of the house as soon as he'd come back, but he had little authority to question her.

To his amusement and delight, almost all his assigned foot soldiers were the children he had played with so long ago. As such, they had no reservations about whining over tasks and speaking their mind; Bo was more than happy to listen. But while this allowed him to gain the secondhand experience of being a foot soldier, it would take a lot more work to build a leader. He gained trust in his community by clearing out human bandits that tried to occupy the newly opened orcish roads, and settling disputes within the nearby villages. He tried to stay his hand as often as possible, preferring to use diplomacy with an unspoken risk of battle, but when it came to blows, he'd yet to meet a force that could challenge his small orc platoon. Of that, he was proud.

They spoke sometimes of running away and exploring a human kingdom. Wouldn't that be funny? Bo would chime in that he'd heard humans built houses as tall as mountains to hide their short little bodies. His close friends laughed, and the others chided him. He didn't mind.

He gathered his men, one day, to settle yet another complaint. An orc had lost her mind, screaming in the night and hurting herself, and it had gotten so bad that villagers were calling for her arrest.

They found their destination filled not with kinsmen, but with creatures of rotting flesh. Some were resigned to their fate, while others were vicious. Some were already dead, their constitution too weak for the disease, or they were murdered by the ones aggressively frothing. The latter were swiftly put down almost from reflex. There were far too many for all the healers and doctors in all of Kyoshel to tend to. It was the day that Bo... no, that lieutenant Higoht made the decision that still stalks him in the night: He ordered his allies to kill the remaining terrified villagers, and prayed they would not think harshly of him when his eyes were damp and unsteady.

The execution was disgustingly easy, and did not take long. As they patrolled among the bodies to investigate the area, hoping to find answers and healthy survivors, some of his men began to cough. It was a horrid retching noise, as if they would eject their lungs from their mouths. With deep dread, Bo blew into his warhorn to gather his men, and ordered them to withdraw. He lead them to an isolated cave several yards from civilization as their symptoms grew worse and spread to the rest. His men began to complain and plead, wishing to go home, wishing to see their loved ones. The majority of them began to resent him and his close soldiers, and it hurt him to deny them something as simple as a warm bed.

The disease only worsened despite his best efforts, and he watched as his friends were forced to cut down the sick once again. When his most loyal companions succumbed to the most violent phase of the affliction, he was forced to take the lives of those remaining by his own hand.

Bloodied and scarred, abstaining from food and water, he sat on the cave floor and waited alone for the disease to claim him next.




It never did. With utmost caution, he dragged himself back to civilization, and allowed no one to touch him--especially not his mother. He placed himself completely in the hands of the Oligarchy, deferring his life to their judgement. If they told him to atone with death, he would not have been afraid. As he was head of a household and known as a friend to many, the Oligarchy were happy to have him alive, but understood his wariness in light of recent events. Ultimately, they chose him to investigate a second village. It was an experiment; he would lead brave orcs, orcs who were well aware of their fate should they set foot in the disease-ridden place, and they would volunteer their lives in exchange for truth. Bo hated the notion of bringing more men to their deaths, but an order was an order. Again, he survived, and lead them successfully before they, too, were victim to the pestilence--but this time the Oligarchy had encouraged him to return them to a controlled environment, to quarantine and study.

He was hailed as a hero, a harbinger of a cure, but it fell on deaf ears. He began to turn away those that sought to see him, even his old master.



Less than a month later, there were talks of an alliance with the elves, who were also abruptly struck with the pestilence, and a formation of a strike force to combat the disease at its source. After extensive research and a close scrutiny of his medical history, the Oligarchy came upon a theory of how Bo was the only one they'd found to be immune.

They invited him to the alliance meeting in the elven capital, where even a small sect of humans had taken interest. As for the strike force, they invited him to lead it. Bo, having never left Kyoshel before, and uncertain if he would ever return, called off his engagement and said goodbye to his mother.



Getting to the elven capital was a secret in and of itself. It requires no less than three days journey through thick forest, and for Bo (as well as the other House representatives and their combined escorts), it took some weeks to journey from Kyoshel. There were no roads in the forest, and no signs that any tamed beast has ever strode through its depths. It was covered in old overgrowth with intense sounds, different from the fresh mountain forests that Bo grew up near. Strangely enough, he suffered no bug bites in the woods--a variety of colorful birds had taken their place, and save for their dung, it is a welcome reprise.

Three days into the woods, they began to find ancient colossal carvings laying abandoned here and there. Some stuck out of the trees, reminiscent of an old culture, while others still shone proudly. Bo wondered if they were gods or old rulers, but supposed only an elf would know. He tried asking their elven guide, but she was either shy or intensely secretive.

Eventually, he heard the sound of rushing water. Without a guide speaking an incantation before the waterfall, they would never know that a stone would rise from behind it. It was old stone with worn edges, shaped like a triangle, and was large enough to split the fall and reveal a massive gate adorned in ancient Elvish, and... what looked to him like the figure of an ugly winged lion. When the gates parted, it sounded like thunder. Gears hidden behind the doors indicated that there was more to the structure than wood and metal, possibly equipped with technology to rival orcish smiths. It was a discomforting thought.

A dark tunnel awaited them, and their guide lead the way with a torch. Inside were drawings on the walls he could not make out. Upon exiting, they were again in the familiar forest setting, but eventually it broke free. What he saw, he knew, was indescribable to one who had ever known hunger. It was a utopia hidden beneath a darkened sky, filled with fresh rivers and the smell of flowers. Even the smallest of houses of the capital did their best to seem grander than its neighbor, and from watching the people move about during their day, it seemed many of the commoners live in stacked homes, where an entire house is placed on top of another to create a building that could house multiple families. These, bragged the guide, were merely the outskirts of the city.

Bo was certain they dolled themselves up everyday, knowing full well they would be a traveler's first impression.


The inner reaches of Elven capital were excessively garish, framed with trees large enough to fill entire Orcish cities. This was where the orcs and elves were to meet. The foliage was thick enough to blot out the sun entirely, and lamps fashioned from gold, adorned with that ugly lion creature, acted as the main source of light. Lightning bugs and glowing plants he'd never seen before, served his eyes at ground level. The central building was not a castle for a singular entity, Bo came to understand, as there was no single ruler--it was more of a golden palace that awaited his people. He was forced to scold a few escorts for trying to pilfer a nugget from the walls.

The inside of the Grand Palace of Se’San Sphinx, they were welcomed up a large grand staircase and into the central chambers, where elves sat in a circle drinking tea (probably on cue with the doors opening). That was when saw Adriel, the surly elf that toddled after his master for a time, standing guard among his pointy-eared kinsmen. The orcs clapped hands with the elves, and the discussion began.

Bo hardly listened when he was not addressed directly. While he choose to make convincing eye contact and maintain his stern orcish persona, he pretended he was elsewhere. He imagined himself hopping rocks like when he was a child, but inevitably his might kept wandering to carnage. Adriel, who had watched him like a hawk, was not impressed. He approached the orc some time afterwards, pausing only briefly at the Bo's side before continuing his stride: "From one soldier to another," he had hissed, "you're better than this."

"All right." Said Bo.

During the meeting, the orcs announced their deduction of Bo's immunity, claiming that it stemmed from the snakebite he'd suffered so long ago. They can begun to call Bo "The First," they explained, because they believed the effect could be reproduced. They encouraged him, then, to select a "Second" that he could trust to experiment this theory on; an elf, to represent and solidify the combined effort.

They rather unnecessarily threw a small gala in his honor shortly after; and he would learn that the elves enjoyed using any excuse to have a social event where they could talk about themselves and snack on spinach cookies or whatever it was they tried to feed him. He felt popular, although uncomfortably so. Many approached him to introduce themselves and share niceties--some nobles, the occasional esteemed cavalier, fencing merchant lords, et cetera, and he couldn't help but feel impossibly awkward knowing their efforts were in vain, but at the same time being too polite to completely negate the company. After all, at the next meeting, Bo chose Adriel.



[F L A G S]
Any mention of a drake, or object representing one, will trigger his desire to hunt one. He's never exactly hunted big game before, and he doesn't even know where he can find one of these beasts, so he'll need a lot of help.

So begins...

Higoht Ezengbo's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan

0.00 INK

#, as written by Gray
Image


Turmoil rolled across these lands like an upset stomach. Monarchs shivered in their gallant thrones, cowing from the problems they faced and silently praying the Pestilence would not seep through their gilded walls. When they weren't panicking and banging at the castle doors, their people were obtrusively oblivious. The Pestilence itself was as vicious as ever, killing and devouring like a mad dog. But that would not be an issue today. Today was special, for today would be a momentous occasion: wherein the Serpent's Gathering would be formed, forever solidifying the alliance between elves and orckind; wherein they would have the first great leap towards combating the plague.

Yet to Adriel Nisaan, it was a shit day. To Adriel Nisaan, the crowded city streets of Autumour left much to be desired. Too many humans, too many mercenaries clad in armor, reeking of desperation. The Serpent's Gathering had come to this nature-forsaken place as a meeting point, and as an aside, his companion suggested they try again to seek an official human alliance to the cause. They were not only denied official entry, but they were derisively escorted out of the westward Autumour castle's premises by Silver Knights who laughed them off. "The gall," cooed one Silver Knights to the other before muttering some racist slur. It prickled Adriel's nerves like the jolts of lightning that ran through his veins. The whole day had gone poorly, and Adriel hated it. It felt like he was the only elf in Tegea, surrounded by a sea of disgusting and dirty people. The townsfolk here had it “better” than most other humans, their streets were “cleaner” than most than most other humans. But all around him, the elf’s eyes saw nothing but dirty, impoverished, and pathetic beings.

It might not have seemed nearly as bad to him if the large man standing to his left, an orc who Adriel had known for far too long, didn’t seem so chipper about the ordeal. Higoht Ezengbo was his name, and to Higoht, it was a very nice day. Most might have expected something more poetic from the so-called champion, but Higoht was feeling perfectly peachy almost from the weather alone. And Autumour was beautiful; he found colors not only in the falling leaves, but in the sheer variety of people they passed, and in those gaping faces awed by his height. Yes, he loved these random citizens. When they first arrived, he had tried to stop and talk to children brave enough to approach him until Adriel dragged him to his senses.

"You were too damn friendly back there," the infiltrator groaned in his general direction. It seemed only to rustle further ire when Higoht only chortled in response. "In front of the castle, I meant. And you were too damn friendly, taking a gander at the half-baked mercenaries who’d come by to show what they were capable of. If it weren't for me, half this disgusting city would be a member of the Serpents Gathering!"

"I suppose that bothers you." Conceded Higoht, before briskly continuing when he saw Adriel's dark expression. "Thank you for your efforts, Adriel. Very good. You must be tired, here, let's have a seat." There was a plethora of crates laying about, abandoned under the meeting point, under the the ebony bridge. It was where lovers met, from what the orc had heard. One of the small wooden constructions creaked under his weight, but Higoht paid it no mind. He knew from how little it bent that it would hold his weight.

“I have a feeling that you and I, Serass, are going to be the only two people good enough to join,” Adriel resumed, paying Higoht no heed. A hearty stretch and a yawn accompanied a quick twitch of his neck. He hated it so much here that he was bored. At least that in itself was interesting; Adriel couldn’t remember how many years it had been since he was last bored.

"But Adriel," Higoht chided rather seriously. "I can't join my own party. That's not how it works at all."

The elf glared at him a little, but deigned it best not to respond to such foolishness. “...Look. You can go stay here, but I am going to go look through the local brigand dens. There’s probably a few redeemable elves in there that would join our cause.”

"So impatient." Higoht said under his breath, not remotely in a quiet way, "That's why I'm still master's favorite." He blinked up at his Second innocently as he lifted an armored leg to rest atop his crate. "Just remember we have agents doing this job for you."

"And not one has been assigned to Autmour." Adriel replied curtly. Then, taking a deep breath, Adriel stalked off. He couldn’t believe he was resorting to this; brigand dens were never located in the “good” parts of town. They were always more desperate than humans areas normally were, full of thieves and assassins. As an infiltrator, Adriel had used more than a few brigands in the Market District to launch hits in the very city. But he had always hated talking to them, and used them only when necessary. If he was seriously considering going there for fun, then this whole recruition plan might not be going as well as either of them had hoped.

Thus far, they only had one new member, and that in itself was getting on his nerves. She was forced into their midst like a single, dirty sock by the Bydan Queen, and she was so thin that Adriel was certain she wouldn’t last the winter, let alone a jog through the Pestilence. She wasn’t here now, thank the Gods--with that mouth of hers, they had argued for hours, despite the orc trying his best to maintain peace. Adriel had sent her to search for recruits earlier this morning, and initial complaints aside, the quiet that came with her absence had been a blessing. The elf moved through the city quickly; his life dedicated to the purpose of quick walking and silent stepping had made few notice his movements. In a blur of speed and wind, Adriel found himself in the Market District.

Even though he hadn’t noticed any street signs, the elf knew he was in the right place. The air here clung to his clothing, and everything seemed to carry a layer of dirt on it. The smells were ghastly. Rotting food, rodent-chasing cats, and the occasional slumped body were common sights on the crumbling streets of the Market District.

Where there was darkness, there was a speck of light. He entered the first dingy and discreet looking building he found, and inside was a hall of festivities. Dancing barmaids, loud music, and enough beer to swim in could be found in plenty at the tavern, and it wasn’t even noon. Normally this was Adriel’s kind of place, but as it turned out, while alcohol might build liquid courage, those he approached must not have drank much. Most elves he'd found turned down the offer without difficulty. Others realized he was serious, and then immediately went back to drinking. He should have realized sooner that the people living in Autumour, of all places, would never face the Pestilence. It was too far away, their walls were thick, and there were too many damn Silver Knights--a few on their day off had tried to pick a fight with him. Even the hardiest of men here seemed reluctant to even speak of the horrors that occurred in the outer territories, and had no interest in leaving their fair home. Of course, none of this caused him to reevaluate his opinion on the human population as a whole. So many people, all choosing not to fight a disease that affected mostly their kind. Scum, all of them. Eventually, Adriel left the district, picking at his clothes that now smelled like beer and filth. He rejoined his ally on the stoop of boxes, refusing to acknowledge Higoht's desire to say something about it. “I certainly hope the woman’s found something. Otherwise it’s going to be just you and I. How do you feel about being heroes, serass?”


The orc raised a hand calmly, again quelling the urge to say something about Adriel's new choice in perfume: "Adriel, we wait here until sundown. Have faith in your agents... and in mine." As if on cue, the orc made eye contact with a passing warrior who had slowed his pace and looked around. "Good afternoon," Higoht began amicably as more people seemed to gather under the ebony bridge.

They were starting to file in now, like mice to cheese. There were short ones and big ones, humans and nonhumans alike. It seemed as though the agents had indeed done their jobs providing a wealth of newcomers. Good for them; Adriel had to admit he was impressed. Realizing that he had a role to play and a reputation to uphold, Adriel arose from his dingy box, his hands flicking a current through his hair to ensure it was out of his face. Higoht stood up next to him, rather dwarfing him, but Adriel paid him no heed. They had agreed previously that Higoht would be keeping his mouth shut for the time being. Adriel gazed out at the forming group, his features increasingly still. His posture was rigid, beaten into him by the Infiltrators, displaying poise, grace, and left little to the imagination.

“Greetings, everyone." Said the elf, at a solid enough volume for all to hear. "Hurry up, file in. You’re all a varied bunch if I’ve ever seen one. This is the Ser... This is Higoht Ezengbo, hero of Kyoshel, the First with immunity to the Pestilence, as well as your leader. You can talk to him when you come back. I’m sure he will be happy to greet those of you who live through the ordeal.” Toward the back, he noticed a familiar blonde return and mingle within the crowd. She had no one with her, the wench couldn’t even find a single being to join the cause. From how she nonchalantly hung her head and pulled off chunks of her nails, he suspected she didn't even try. Apparently she was about as useless as most of her kind, which was exactly as much faith as he had invested in her. “My name is Adriel Nisaan. I’m an infiltrator for Rielorn," he paused, and said rather scathingly, "some of you might not know what that is... But I was also once a cavalier in the elven military. I will be administering the first and only test to gain entry into the Serpent's Gathering.” His gaze fell upon the equipment most carried. It was an old infiltrator trick, to look at the gear of a soldier who stood before you, and then towards their faces. Some of it was passable, others great, and some of the equipment was downright garbage. Some didn't even wear armor!

"Now you know who we are," Higoht said, ever the opportunist, "Why don't we introduce ourselves? I recognize a few faces here--"

“--I’m afraid if I let my colleague speak, he will coddle you all until you’re unfit for any kind of military service. 'We don’t need to know the names of dead men.'” Honestly, the elf had rarely led before; most of what he was said then was verbatim from the opening ceremonies of the infiltrators. From behind his shoulder, Higoht pursed his lips in a way that said He won't actually stop you from introducing yourself, you should do it anyway if you feel like it.

Finally, Adriel studied their faces. It was hard not to let out a visible sneer at the sheer number of humans in their midst. So, he let it out freely: Adriel’s nose curled so much the man in the moon would be jealous. “Every group has a training day on their first day. I’m glad to see most of you at least came prepared. We’ll be going to Rogland Quarry, a human quarry not far from here. The outgoing Silver Knights take far too long to get ready, and we’re the only group that can make it in time to do what must be done, save for a guild. Needless to say, I’ve got something special planned for you all.”

In the elf’s mind, more than a few of these people would be dead. This test was no small feat, and he still was uncertain how it was allowed to escape the elven territories. Now there had been reports of small earthquakes near the quarry. “Once I am sure there’s no stragglers, we’ll depart.” He silently, and rather pridefully congratulated himself at the end of his speech for not being too racist--otherwise the Serass would have scolded him in front of everybody. While there weren’t too many elves in the party, Adriel was glad to see a few faces belonging to kinsmen. He also noticed a few orcs in the group too. It seemed to be a solid team composition if nothing else.





The {Atlas} has been updated.
Adriel gained 2 approval from Higoht.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Tane Solberg

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Tane Solberg


The sun sat in its morning perch, gazing down at the dirt road and the man who traveled along it this day. A tall man, and wide, known to many as Tane, and a few as Solberg. He'd been walking for days on end, in a full suit of armor, but today would end that. By noon today, he should arrive in Autumour, where a group known only as Serpent's Gathering would be meeting. Tane, only to glad, had been invited to join said group and happily accepted. He fully intended on doing as much good as there was to be done, and with the Pestilence ravaging the country, there was quite a bit to be done. His only real regret was his weight. The sad truth of the matter was that a 330 pound man could not sit on the back of a horse without breaking it. So he walked, as he had for many days now.

The heavy clattering of those armored footsteps made his presence known to all on the road. Such was the delight of a trio of bandits sitting within the dence brush on the roadside, with knives in hand and greed in their blackened hearts. The leader of said trio, one Arnaldo Haroon, sat just around the bend, waiting for his chance. They spoke in whispers of their next victim and speculated.
"With all 'dat armor, 'ayhaps it be a Silver Knight?" asked their hitman, Martin Ingolf, as he played with a heavy wooden cudgel in his hands. Not the most clever man, or the prettiest. His nose was broken in more places than you can count on both hands.
"Not likely. Silver Knights rarely ever traveled alone and even at that it's usually on horseback." said the second, more reasonable member of their troope Govad Jackie. At a glance you could hardly even tell he was a bandit. Worse, he looked like a lawyer.
"Just a passing mercenary 'eh?"
"Probably. Autumour is crawling with sellswords."
"No one 'ill miss just one then?"
"I doubt they would."
"'Ehn I don't see no 'arm in it. Let's get 'em!"

"Quiet you idiots!" scolded Arnaldo, finally speaking. "He's going to hear us! If you screw this up for us again I'll cut off your-" he cut off mid sentence as he saw the other staring at something behind him, eyes wide in fear, mouths agape.
"Excuse me, but I couldn't help but overhear your conversation." came the deep melodic voice of the steel clad giant standing behind the bandit, in one hand this giant held a shield taller than most men, the other carried a flail as heavy as a newborn calf. "I do believe you intended to rob me, correct?"
The bandits reaction was fast, much to fast for Tane to keep up with, not that he needed to. In a flash the bandit swung around with knife in hand, only for the cheap knife to shatter on Tane's uplifted shield. Arnaldo's face went pale as the broken knife hilt fell out of his shaking hand and rolled onto the ground.
"I'll take that as a "Yes"." as Tane stepped into the circle of men, the other two dropped their weapons and backed away, their faces as pale as their leader's. "Now here's how this is going to work..."





"And that's how it happened officer."
"Bullshit. That can't be true." barked the city guard, taking the heavy rope from Tane's hand, a mix of disbelief and confusion distorting his face. Attatched to said rope were the wrists of three bandits, one with a re-broken nose, the other a black eye, and the last missing half his teeth. Despite this, the three bandits had both hands clasped together and were praying, vigorously and avoid eye contact with everyone, including eachother.
Tane merely shrugged, a motion akin to the relocation of two mountains. He was fortunate to have found a guard just outside the city to take the bandits off his hands, he would run late if he had to take the bandits all the way to the city's jail himself.

"There's no way you fended..." The guard gave Tane another good look, taking into account the nearly 6 feet of armor, the massive shield, and the gargantuan flail on his hip, gulped as Tane's grin only widened, and resumed speaking.
"T-There's no way AFTER fending off three bandits you managed to convince not one, but all THREE to a life of piety."
Tane simply pointed with a finger the size of a bratwurst towards the three praying bandits, whose chanting immediately became much more fervent, nearly frenzied, in their very open display of newfound piety.
"In fairness, they weren't very good bandits, likely the worst I've ever met, but I've already ensured they regret their sins, so please ensure they pay for them, won't you my good man?"
"W-Well yeah I guess..." came the guards nervous reply. This... giant walking piece of steel, he refused to think of the thing in front of him as human, was really starting to freak him out.
"Excellent! I shall be on my way then! A good day to you good sir." said Tane, the grin on his lips splitting his face as he started making his way into the city, humming a happy tune which could barely be heard over the cacophony that was his every step.

Their place of meeting was under the Ebony bridge, and Tane was among one of the first to arrive. There hadn't really been an exact meeting time, so there had been a mild amount of fear that he would be late. Soon after him, many others began filing into their meeting place, of all races and walks of life. The majority of them were rather average human men, so Tane sort of... stood out? Like a tree in a field of short grass. He was eager to begin, this Serpent's Gathering as it was called, was this world's best hope of beating back the Pestilence. Though, the elf who was giving this rather... "un-encouraging" speech spoke first of a training day, something special planned. Well, Tane had expected some form of test so this wasn't all too surprising. Either way, if this was the first step to saving the world, so be it. Tane was prepared for whatever came at him. So long as it did so from the front anyway.



(Everyone has gained 100 approval from Tane. Remember, Tane loves you all!)

(Im only kind of joking.)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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The day...well it was like any other, but Illeren took any opportunity he could to appreciate the fact that he was alive. He strode through the streets of Automour with a smile on his face that was somewhere between arrogant and genuine happiness. He just had those expression where it just didn’t seem to be any one feeling or emotion. His elven armor clacked ever so slightly with every step he took as he slid past the rather populated area of the housing district with a subtle air of experience, his red cape flowing with the ebb of the crowd. His gold eyes slid over everyone that happened to pass him with a highly detailed inspection of their person. Were they carrying anything of value? No? Moving on then! Despite his status as an elf, he was more comfortable navigating the cramped streets of Automour than he was talking to trees...or some other shit that a human would accuse him of doing. A couple even now were looking at him and sneering, and he flashed them his toothiest grin he could muster. He was used to the reactions long before this point in time, they no longer bothered him in the slightest.

He paused a moment, running one of his hands through his white hair as he spun around looking for a direction. Where the hell was he going? What was he currently trying to accomplish? Where had this apple come from? Illeren held up an apple, looked it over and shrugged as he took a large bite out of it. He chewed thoughtfully as he attempted to retrace his steps. First, he had caught a couple of bandits for a merchant paying a tidy sum...granted they would need help eating for the rest of their lives since Illeren had been forced to cut off their hands. Then he wandered for awhile, ended up in a tavern, ended up thrown outside a tavern, ended up inside a different tavern. There he had heard rumors abo-

That was it! He remembered why he came to this city in the first place! A gathering of people and warriors from all makes of life preparing to fight the pestilence and what ever came with it. How could he forget that? Maybe it was due to the local guard wanting to hang him for thievery in that small town of Lurendale. Maybe it was that fucking pack of wolves which had come out of nowhere on his way here. Maybe it was because his brain worked to fast to keep up...with his...thoughts? Ok, that didn’t make sense but regardless, he knew where he was going now...sorta. He wasn’t too familiar with Automour, only having come here a few times during his life. He took another of bites from the apple, and tossed the remainder into a beggar’s lap as he walked away. He glanced back at the man, who scrambled for the piece of fruit and happily shoved it into his mouth. As he watched the man eat it, he could only regret his current action.

Now he really wanted that apple back…




Illeren stumbled around the city for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a handful of minutes. The dirty and grungy air of the housing district had been replaced by the dirty and grungy air of the market district, slightly less crowded and yet filled with more pestilence and disease...mostly spreading from the merchant’s mouths. Yet despite that, he still appeared to be essentially lost. Where were they meeting again? It was...under a bridge? Started with an E right? Eternity bridge? Eclipse bridge? Erotic bridge? Oh please let it be the last one. Illeren grabbed a random passer by as his thoughts raced. “Oi, mate...could ya tell me where Erotic bridge is?” The man looked at him as if he had sprouted a third eye.

“Erotic br-Get the fuck off me tree humper!” The man shoved Illeren back, walking away briskly while Illeren flipped him off with both hands.

“Pot callin’ the Kettle black ya fookin pig soiler!” Illeren yelled back as he looked around some more, seeing that a couple eyes had been drawn to him, but he didn’t pay them much mind. As he looked through the crowd, he spotted something that didn’t seem to quite fit the mold of the market...which is to say the man or elf looked fairly well groomed and armored. As he looked closer, he spotted the ears of his own kind and watched as he entered a shady looking establishment. Illeren wandered closer, looking into a window as casually as he could...which is to say he pressed his face up to the glass much like a kid at a candy store. The elf seemed to be talking to different people within the building, mercenaries by the looks of it. Could this be part of the group he had been trying to find? He was too well equipped to be a simple sellsword...like Illeren could say much, as he looked down at his relatively ornate elven armor and high quality sword. Still, he didn’t feel like engaging with another elf if he didn’t have to, and chose to simply follow the elf from a distance.

He waited around, kicking rocks, kicking people, kicking buildings until it seemed like the elf was heading out of the market district. tailing powers activate! Illeren thought to himself as he put both hands behind his head, leaned back and whistled as he started following after the man. If he noticed, he didn’t seem to care as he lead him on a merry journey through the rest of Automour to a bridge. Could it be the bridge? Illeren paused long enough to look around the place until he found a sign. ‘Ebony Bridge’.

“It was fookin Ebony! Not Erotic! Did you see that? What a fookin blund’r for me to make, equatin’ such a fine lookin piece of mortar and pestle to a 'ookers cock trap!” Illeren nearly yelled, looking over at yet another random person simply passing him by. The man looked at with the same expression as the first, and continued walking. ’uh...second time today someone’s givin me that look...maybe they’re just amazed at ‘ow good I look! With that thought in his head giving him some very false confidence, he brushed himself down and licked his tongue to pull his hair back slightly. Without further delay, he made his way down the stairs to the bridge.




It wasn’t long before others for the group seemed to start flowing in. Illeren hadn’t been paying too much attention to them, instead his focus was on his fingers...or more specifically the dirt under one of his fingernails that he couldn’t seem to get out and had unofficially declared war on as he picked and clawed at it with maybe a bit too much fervor. It wasn’t until the elf that he had tailed here spoke that he gave a bit of jump, pulled out of his little battle with self maintenance. He shook his head slightly, giving himself a couple light slaps on the cheek to prep himself to pay attention. He need this information, it was a job...a job that was supposed to pay remarkably well. Also help people...which was good and all, but gold would help people too...People named Illeren.

Ileren’s eyes drifted to the orc first, seeing as he was taking the backseat to an elf. Not something he would have associated with the much more warrior like people, but there it was. He seemed a respectable sort, even if his hair seemed to be matted down slightly. His armor and weapon were above the standard grade of any mercenary or sell sword that Illeren had come across, aside from the very rare exception. That lead him to believe that he wasn’t one...in fact Illeren’s information on this gathering was limited at best. He had heard about it from a friend of a friend of a barmaid of a wench of a guard of a warlord of a mercenary. Maybe he had been wrong about this...maybe this wasn’t what he initially thought about it. As he looked around, seeing the very mixed group of people though, his fears dissipated. There would no way in hell be this many people if there wasn’t something large on the line. Regardless, returning his thoughts back to the orc, he seemed relatively laid back and relaxed. Good, if he HAD to take orders from someone, he was hoping it was someone who didn’t have a stick up their ass.

The elf on the other hand, must have had two sticks and rammed them both up his rectum. Everything about him screamed ‘Homeland’ to Illeren, which made him instantly dislike the elf. Granted, he typically didn’t like his own kind anyways, but this guy was a walking stereotype.

“Greetings, everyone. "Hurry up, file in. You’re all a varied bunch if I’ve ever seen one. This is the Ser... This is Higoht Ezengbo, hero of Kyoshel, the First with immunity to the Pestilence, as well as your leader. You can talk to him when you come back. I’m sure he will be happy to greet those of you who live through the ordeal.”

You even talk like a pompous arse. You...pompous arse. Illeren thought as he crossed his arms.

“My name is Adriel Nisaan. I’m an infiltrator for Rielorn. Some of you might not know what that is... But I was also once a cavalier in the elven military. I will be administering the first and only test to gain entry into the Serpent's Gathering.”

Oooooooh, a cavalier and a infiltrator. Were you a magician too? Can you pull a bunny from a 'at, or one of those sticks out of your arse...cant Illeren thought once more as he rolled his eyes and did his best to pay attention. The orc tried to talk, but was rudely interrupted by Adriel.

“--I’m afraid if I let my colleague speak, he will coddle you all until you’re unfit for any kind of military service. 'We don’t need to know the names of dead men.'”

Your 'air is stupid...why is it stupid? I 'ave something for this...'old on. Illeren continued internally mocking the elf as he took a pear and chomped a bite out of it.

“Every group has a training day on their first day. I’m glad to see most of you at least came prepared. We’ll be going to Rogland Quarry, a human quarry not far from here. The outgoing Silver Knights take far too long to get ready, and we’re the only group that can make it in time to do what must be done, save for a guild. Needless to say, I’ve got something special planned for you all.”

WHERE THE FOOK DID I GET THIS PEAR?!

“Once I am sure there’s no stragglers, we’ll depart.”

I 'ave something for this...I 'ave something fo-That’s it!

“A COCK! 'is ‘air looks like a cock!” Illeren yelled, happy to finally put two and two together as he looked around and saw many eyes on him, looking at him as if he had grown a third eye. Ok...it was definitely not the handsome factor that he had been hoping for.

“I mean...a cock...er...spaniel? Cockeral? Cockles?” Illeren coughed slightly, then seemed to puff out his chest. “Nay, I’m fooking owning this. ‘is ‘air looks like a fookin rooster.” Illeren looked around, defying everyone’s eyes much like a kid who believes he’s right even when he’s wrong. There was a bit of an awkward silence afterwards, and Illeren gave another cough.

“On a more serious note, lookin forward tah workin with all ya!”

(Illeren gained 5 approval from random fruits)

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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Image


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

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#, as written by Ezarael
Laetya

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Laetya approves of Higoht: +4 approval)

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel

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She would never forget the day she left Rielorn. It was ingrained forever in her mind, she knew--not because it had only just happened--but because in a lifetime full of following, she had finally made a choice. In all probability, it wasn’t the smartest choice. In fact, her journey of self discovery would most likely end in certain death, but at least it was a choice she’d made. It was not her mother’s choice, or her grandfather’s, or even her superior officer’s; it was hers, and she claimed it proudly.

That being said, leaving her home was more difficult that Aurileith would have imagined. In all her years, she’d never been far out of elven territory, and never on her own, and saying goodbye to the things she loved had given Aura a moment of pause. Saying goodbye to her grandfather was not difficult. In fact, the curt nods they exchanged could barely be described as a goodbye at all, but saying goodbye to her mother was. She’d explained the situation, and Sage had told her she was brave while Mordyth snorted in the background. They’d hugged, and she held on just a bit too tightly as her mother whispered a fond farewell. Be safe, Moon.

Saying goodbye to Qiqsa was, perhaps, hardest of all. She flew with the bird to the outskirts of Autumour, knowing as they went that it would probably be the last time. Qiqsa, who had been her companion for many years, could not possibly take this journey with her. When they landed, Aura dismounted, grabbed her gear, and stroked the bird lovingly on the head.

“I’m sorry, Qiqsa, but I cannot take you with me.”

Qiqsa, as if she understood, bowed her head to make contact with Aura’s, and the two stood there for a long time. For the first time in as long as she could remember, the elf felt the stirrings of uncertainty deep within her. But she couldn’t go back now. And she didn’t want to. She was proud of her choice, and though she wasn’t exactly sure why, she wanted to do this. And so, with one hand still on Qiqsa as if to draw some strength from their bond, Aura turned toward the city she would shortly be entering. She scratched the bird one last time, told her to fly home, and stood watching until Qiqsa was nothing more than a tiny dot on the far off horizon.






As lonely as it was to be on her own in a strange city, Aura relished the feeling of sheer freedom that came with no longer being tethered. She moved through crowds with ease and stopped to look when she saw something that interested her. She was accountable to no one but herself for the first time, and she took in that feeling of freedom as hungrily as she took in her new surroundings.

Autumour certainly was a sight to see with its tall buildings and even taller trees, leaves the color of rubies and topaz; and nearly as vibrant. When the sun hit them with just the right light, it looked as if the trees had been set ablaze, and Aura stopped to marvel at their beauty, not caring as people cursed and grumbled at her as she stood, still as a statue that had been inconveniently placed in the middle of the street. Eventually, she slowed down traffic enough that the increase in bodies around her became overwhelming, and she moved on, choosing to duck down a less populated back street to regain her composure. The heels of her boots clacked uncomfortably loud against cobblestones sending a few stray cats scattering from the cracks in between the buildings. There was a twinkle in Aura’s eyes as she bent to scratch a particularly shabby gray feline behind the ears.

“It’s alright,” she soothed, “you don’t have to be afraid of me.” The cat began to purr and arched its back, rubbing its face against her hand, claiming her as its own. “I’m sorry little one, but I have nothing to give you.” The gray tabby meowed in protest, stretched its thin body and scampered off, possibly in search of someone who might have something to give him. Aura sincerely hoped there were kind people in this town who had a spare saucer of milk for her new friend.

Getting directions from a nearby merchant, she headed off in the direction of the Ebony Bridge, where her grandfather said the meeting of the Serpent’s Gathering was going to take place. And sure enough, when she reached the bridge, a small group was gathered. Aura slipped fluidly into the back of the group just a kinsmen she recognized began talking. He was with the orc she met at the gala, Higoht, so she knew she was in the right place. When the elf finished his speech, there was a commotion which made her raise an eyebrow. Several things happened at once, and Aura was glad that she was on the edge of the group, instead of in the middle of it. She took a couple steps back just to distance herself a little more.

"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," said an orc she didn't know.

Aura agreed.

(Laetya gains +5 approval from Aura)

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What in the world is going on?




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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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Tane Solberg


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by Gray
Image


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

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

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

“Cock.”

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

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

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

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




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





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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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



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

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



The {Monster Compendium} has been updated.

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

Image




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: [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: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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The remainder of the battle passed quickly, and Ezra did little of note. A few quick slashes dispatched a straggling baby nidhogg, and the next thing he knew, they were leaving. Adriel seemed...pleased? Ezra couldn't quite place it. Then again, he noticed as they neared Barkmere, most of what was going on was fuzzy. It wasn't until Illeren was standing in front of him, stark naked as he relaxed in a warm bath did he realize that he didn't remember getting there. It was the shock of the sight, mostly, that brought him back to reality. Perhaps he had used too much magic fighting the nidhogg, or perhaps he had a minor concussion. Either way, that was out of his mind as he tried to shake the memory of what he just saw. Why couldn't it have been the blonde?

Afterwards, they all gathered around the table. Ezra had found himself a comfortable evening attire, including a shirt which exposed far too much of his chest, and his chest hair, to meet anyone's(except, perhaps, Illeren) standard of modesty. Regardless, it looked good, and he looked good, and people would look, and he would be happy, so he wore it. Besides, he'd be stuck in armor for the foreseeable future anyway.

Ezra arrived with some of the others, not early but not late, and took a seat across from Illeren, who had his feet kicked up on the table and was sharpening his sword. Ezra suddenly felt like he should have brought his sword to compare. Still, he brought his own toys to occupy him, and he sighed in a relaxing fashion as he removed a small hand mirror and his special comb from somewhere in the folds of his clothing, and began to style his hair and beard while the others filed in.

The orc, their leader, who introduced himself as Higoht, explained the method by which the group of them were expected to gain immunity to the pestilence. Get bit by a snake, take the antidote. How bad could it be? Ezra had been bitten by plenty of things, and in his experience snakes weren't that bad. Orc women, on the other hand...

As the orc came to a close, Illeren stood and pointed his blade across the table at Ezra jokingly and erupted,
“Well enuff wastin time then! Let’s drink a brew and avoid ghoulification shall we? Ladies first!”

Ezra jumped up in response, as if it was a challenge.

"Ha! I'll go first. Bring on the snake." He quickly retrieved his flask and downed whatever was in it. Honestly, he couldn't remember, but he choked and giggled as the sludgy liquid drained down his throat. "Phuh...fuck. Can't feel any worse than whatever that was."

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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




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

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




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

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

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

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

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

Ah. It was a joke.




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

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCakez
Image


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

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




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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Arayel approves of Gully’s naivety. +5


Arayel approves of Bo’s leadership. +5


Arayel disapproves of that motherfuckin’ snake bite fuckthatshit.

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

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: Illeren Myakleyth

0.00 INK

#, as written by Baby
The Bull


The steaming shower of blood and ripped pieces of sclera wasn’t in Berlioz’s calculations. Of course, most of it dripped down on his armor, burning him up from the outside with the intense heat of the Nidhogg’s liquids. And if the cold feel of sweat dripping down his face didn’t slightly deter the incessant ramming of the monster’s eyeball, the gunk that managed to slip it’s way into Berlioz’s mask certainly did. Bits and pieces of the shattered eyeball snuck it’s way into the small opening of Berlioz’s helmet. They grouped together like magnets, thickening with the slightly cooler temperature of the confines of Berlioz’s helmet. What was a repugnant smell from the outside of his armor, was soon a suffocating toxin.

Berlioz hopped away from the Nidhogg and threw off his helmet, coughing and gasping in air that wasn’t that much better from the miniature slice of hell he just suffered. While recuperating from the disorienting attack on his senses, Berlioz could feel the Nidhogg moving away by the tremors on the ground, but it didn't dawn on him that he couldn’t hear the shaking of the earth. He opened his eyes to see everyone fighting both the giant Nidhogg and the small subadults that came from seemingly nowhere and a sharp pain took him by surprise.

“Damn it!” Berlioz cursed out loud but only heard a muffled voice as he reached to wipe off the steaming ooze that sneakily gathered around his ears and temporarily deafened him. The sides of his face burned and stung like a thousand bees, having Berlioz realize all too late that he had really sensitive ears. He was too afraid to even touch them and check for the damage done, paralyzed by the fear of stimulating more pain.

While he was trying to get back on his feet, a little baby Nidhogg was stumbling towards him, apparently not yet used to using it’s own legs yet. Though it was moving like a cub of a beast that wasn’t so monstrous, it certainly kept the visual aesthetic of it’s mother; vile. It’s hungry, orange eyes glowed in the fading light of the cave while it snapped and spit it’s saliva at Berlioz. When it’s hot spittle hit the side of Berlioz’s scorched ear, he went berserk.

He grabbed his previously abandoned spear and charged at the hellspawn, vengefully ramming the pointed end into it’s neck and continuing the charge onto other baby Nidhoggs that were behind it, impaling them into a shishkabob.




The walk to wherever the hell they were going was a steady trial of Berlioz’s patience. He couldn’t hear anything except muffled voices and a loud, consistent ringing in his drums. People were talking, talking, talking. Ringing voices saying mumbled nothings. One of them was particularly loud, and the sound emanating from the elf seemed like tiny blades digging into his brains. Berlioz gave him the manic eye to shut him up, almost on the verge of charging at him if he didn’t stop right then and there.

But thankfully it did get quiet, either from fatigue or the others simply running out of things to talk about. And the walk to the outskirts of the city was much less nightmarish for Berlioz. Soon the group passed elven guards and then they had met up with the orc from before, whom Berlioz believed was the leader of the organization. Words were being said in his direction, but again, Berlioz couldn’t decipher it. He had to find a mage to relieve him.




Wish I had my hearing back then…” Berlioz thought quietly to himself as he was one of the last to be escorted to a strange part of the inn. He was so confused as to what was going on, it embarrassed him. He resigned himself to do almost whatever the large orc leading him asked before he would buckle down and question what the hell was going on.

Even being lead down suspicious stairs. “I'm okay with this.”

Even seeing a table with multiple restraining straps attached to it. “Not gonna ask.”

Even after hearing a faint hissing to his right.

“...."

"This is fine.”


But what about being instructed to lie on said slab, in order to be strapped in for whatever wild ride they had in store?

Berlioz took a deep breath and weighed his options once more. On one hand, they’d judge him and ask why he wasn’t listening from before. And furthermore ask why he waited so long. On the other hand….

“They wouldn’t kill me.” Berlioz nodded to himself as he lied on the flat stone, which was surprisingly a little wet and warm. “Ugh. Used deathbeds.” Berlioz mused to himself to take his mind off of his growing anxiety. A figure approaching his right took his mind off of small jokes when he noticed that the person was carrying a large snake.

“Why?” Berlioz managed to sneak out one question before the snake bit his arm, causing for him to release a small gasp in surprise. For a second, Berlioz sighed in relief, thinking that was all there was to this strange process. Now they’d just release him from the straps and-

“HNNNNGH!!” Berlioz held in a high-pitched holler in terrible, sudden agony. He felt his muscles swelling and stretching, it was like he was being filled with hot air and his thin hide would burst and expel all of his intestines. And for some reason, his ears were hurting the most. As if the venom of the snake knew his previous injury (and newly found Achilles's Heel) and focused on it. Berlioz would swear on his life that the venom was sentient and malicious, and he was determined to not be bested by snake spit. [That’s what it is...right?]

He let out a battle cry in protest of his bursting blood vessels and someone used that opportunity to stuff something into his mouth. It was cool and almost liquidy to the touch of his tongue, and he swallowed it willingly. Unaware that his pain was lessening by the second, The Bull was already set on charging. He pulled and fought against the restraints wildly, bucking his hips and spasming his biceps to rip free.

“FIGHT ME!!” Berlioz roared in a frothy rage, tearing off one of the restraints around his neck, freeing his head to jerk up. When he realized what happened, the pain was gone. And his anger followed shortly after he filled the room's quietness with quick, aggressive breaths.

Tired from losing his temper one too many times that day, Berlioz could hardly muster up an apology for ripping up a restraint before being led to his room for the night.


[Berlioz hates Illeren's singing. -3 Approval]
Clarity: Berlioz healing didn't fully return until after Higoht's speech.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

0.00 INK

Image





Illeren stepped down the flight of stairs with an almost child like energy to his stride. Maybe the whole reality of what he was about to do hadn’t sunk in yet, maybe he simply didn’t care, or maybe the long term benefit of surviving this treatment was more than worth the risk. To be honest, that was the farthest ahead Illeren had thought about anything in a long time. If he came out the other side from this little bite with an immunity to a plague ravaging the land, he’d be all the better for it. Whatever pain they thought this bite was going to inflict, Illeren was going to make it his bitch.

He hoped.

He entered the small room, noticing the other two men there besides himself and Bo. He looked over at the slab, and the immediate comparison to a mortician’s office came to mind. The medicine man hummed his tune and the other seemed to be holding the very snake that was supposed to inject Illeren with its poison. “If ya ‘ad asked if I ‘ad planned on being bitten by a snake today…” Illeren glanced back at Bo. “I would’a told ya I ‘adn’t seen your motha in months!” Illeren laughed at his own joke even as it seemed to fall on deaf ears to the surrounding orcs and elf. Illeren simply coughed once he was done. “Ya’ll killjoys is what ya are.” Illeren pouted as the elf motioned towards the slab. Illeren shrugged and made his way over, sliding onto the rock and flinching slightly as the bare skin of his back touched the cold stone. “So what? Ya say some words of wisdom in some unknown language? Chant a bit? Sacrifice a goat?”

“No.” Was all the elf said as he pulled the snake out of basket. Illeren stared at it for a second before giving a laugh.

“Is that it? That bleedin’ thing couldn’t intimidate me if it was forty feet ‘igh and covered in spikes! it’s like an adorable earthworm!” The man simply looked back to Bo, and then back to Illeren who looked at the elf with sympathetic eyes. “Remember doc...it’s my first time...please be gentle…” Illeren said in as mocking a tone as he could muster before another barely contained laugh erupted from him. The elf gave an irritable sigh before letting the snake do its work and clamp down on Illeren’s arm, who suddenly became a lot less humorous.

“Bloody fookin titty fookers!” Illeren exclaimed as pain shot up and down his arm, and then extended to the rest of his body. It was fast acting, that much was certain as Illeren began to sweat and he twisted his body as if the simple act of moving would allay the pain some. The burning...it felt like his veins were on fire and spreading it to his internal organs. Everything hurt and it took all of Illeren’s concentration not to scream out in pain like a little girl.

Until it simply stopped.

Illeren paused for a second, waiting for the pain to kick in again only to find that it wasn’t. He gave a smug expression before sitting up from the slab. “That wasn’t so bad, no worse than a night out on the town whor-” Illeren looked up to find he was completely alone in a very dark room. He raised an eyebrow as he looked all around, expecting to see Bo or the other two members of his party. “‘ello?” Illeren stated, looking around some more before standing and walking a couple of feet. “Anybody there? Is this a test?” Illeren asked, walking closer to the center of the room. Suddenly there was a minor tremble in the earth as a section parted and a small slab rose. On it was his weapon of choice, his beautiful sword. Illeren stared at it for a second, glancing around for a moment. “O...K…?” He stated as he grabbed his weapon, testing its weight for a moment before the slab retracted into the floor once more.

“I’m pretty sure this is a test, so tell ya what...say I passed and I won’t tell anyone you touched my sword...They may take that the wrong way, you never know!” Illeren quickly looked around the room. “I’m serious, I’ll tell ‘em! Who knows what else ya do to us while we’re under the influence of poison snake juice!” There was a couple of thuds behind Illeren, who slowly turned around. What he saw made him narrow his eyes and ready his weapon. “Oh, so it’s going to be one of those tests then is it? Well, I’ll tell ya how it’s going to go...I’ll butcher ya, skewer ya, and when I’m done, I’ll pry the meat from ya bones and enjoy it over a fire!”

“Buk-awk!”

A giant chicken, maybe six feet tall stood in front of Illeren with its head cocked to the side. It poked its head forward slightly, mocking Illeren.

“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” Illeren yelled as he charged forward.

‘BUK-AWK!” The chicken stated in response, running forward to meet his charge. Illeren flipped sideways, his sword becoming a windmill of death only for the chicken to sidestep him and kick him with all the force of a horse. He flew to the ground, skidding to a stop as he quickly got to his feet, holding his sword in front of him once more. “Buk buk buk” The chicken stated as Illeren’s eyes filled with insane fury.

“Ya ain’t got nothin tha’ fookin janky shite lickle spit!” Illeren yelled as his words failed to convey his rage. He ran forward once more, but this time was successful as he sidestepped the chicken’s attack and sliced several times before coming to a stop behind it. It took a moment, but the chicken slowly started bleeding from several precise cuts as it quickly collapsed into a pile of blood and meat. Illeren gave a sigh of relief, feeling the tension leave his body. “The world shall never know your terrors...and I will never be heralded as a hero...damn, wish there was someone here to see this!”

“Buk-awk” Illeren whirled around, and found himself face to face with a small army of the white feathered egg producers. Illeren readied his sword, his eyes practically slits at this point as he glared down the army of devil animals. There was a moment of tense silence, both sides waiting for the other to make the first move. Finally Illeren simply shook his head and raised his sword.

“Ya’ll gonna die!” Not the most exquisite battle cry, but at the very least it was accurate as Illeren rushed forward into the churning mass of beaks and feathers. Every slash found purchase, every cut brought blood, and every stab ended another hated life of the flightless bastards. Illeren continued on like this for...well he didn’t know how long. All he knew is that their numbers weren’t diminishing. Every time he cut one down, another two took its place. He paused, the chickens forming a circle around him as his breathing came in gasps. Every time one made to step forward, he would slash to keep them at bay. “Ya ain’t takin me! I’m Illeren! I’m a free elf! I’ll kill ya!” Illeren stated as the ground trembled once more. The chickens parted to show one that was even bigger than them. Easily 8 feet tall and approaching Illeren. He simply stared up at it as it stared down at him. This one was different though.

This one had the face of Adriel.

“I knew you looked like a cock!” Illeren stated before the rooster bolted forward.

“Buk-Awk!” It’s voice deep and resonating in the room as its foot found purchase in Illeren’s stomach, driving the wind out Illeren before its wing came down hard on his back. He hit the ground hard, and before he could recover, Adriel’s foot came and slammed itself into Illeren’s face, rolling him around on the ground several feet before coming to a stop. Illeren was bleeding from the nose now, standing slowly but still clutching his sword as droplets of crimson fell from his face.

“Kickin a man while ‘e’s down? That’s my fookin job!” Adriel ran forward, jumping up and landing a dive kick on Illeren who took it much like anyone would, with a gasp of pain and maybe even the slight tear. Illeren skidded on his back for a bit, laying on the ground once he stopped trying to regain his breath as he slapped the floor and stood up once more. “I ain’t bein’ beaten by no man sized and shaped chicken thing!” Illeren stated, flipping his sword into a reverse grip and holding it much like a dagger in front of him.

“BUKAWK!” Adriel screamed, the sound making the entire room shake as it charged forward. The feathers on its wing turned into metal blades as it reared back for the blow. It struck forward at the same time that Illeren slid his blade upward. The result was sparks flying and the wing going off target as Illeren spun around. His free fist slammed into Adriel’s face, knocking him off balance while another spin of both his body and blade brought him around for a second blow.

Illeren landed in a roll behind Adriel, breathing heavy as he glanced back at the giant rooster. It stood there for a moment, before its head slowly slid off its body and collapsed to the ground. The rest of the body soon followed. Illeren stood and roared at his triumph, pumping his chest out like he had just accomplished some big feat.

“I think he’s starting to come out of it.”

“My name is Illeren! You can’t stop me! None of you fookers can! Look at me! I am invincible!” Illeren yelled walking in front of the other chickens boasting.

“Illeren, snap out of it.”

“Who else wants some? Maybe you, the one with the beak!? Nah, the pretty one!”

“Is the antidote having an effect?”

“Or how about ya! Ya lookin at me funny li-” Illeren paused long enough to glance back at the body of Adriel, which was no longer slumped on the ground. Instead, his headless mass was now facing him as Illeren’s eyes went wide.

“If he hits me one time…”

It said nothing, for there was nothing to be said. This was a creature straight from the pits of nightmares as sweat beaded on his brow. This couldn’t be happening again, could it? No, it was impossible. Adriel’s head rolled on the ground until it was facing Illeren, his eyes peircing through him like a knife through butter.

“Buk-awk”

The headless rooster charged forward faster than Illeren could keep track and reared its bladed wing back. Illeren screamed in defiance as he swung with his eyes closed.

Illeren woke with a short lived scream, his fist finding purchase on the Orc medicine man’s face with enough force to have the man slump backwards for a second. Illeren looked around, sweat pooling on his skin as he took in his surroundings. Where were the chickens? Where was the headless demon? Why were Bo and the other two here? Why were the Elf and medicine man bleeding? “The fook happened? The fook were you? The fook was I?” Illeren asked all at once as he realized he was once again in the small room for the antidote. The two men administering the venom and anti-venom looked a little worse for wear. Blood trickled from several small cuts and bruises were starting to form. Illeren then noticed that he was on the floor several paces away from rock slab, and that some pain in his chest and face was still evident from what he was now realizing had been a hallucination.

“You had an...episode.” Bo stated as the two others glared at Illeren with enough malice to make even Illeren laugh nervously. “Hallucinations.” Bo continued. “They can happen with the application of the venom. Yours was quite...entertaining.” Illeren stood up from his sitting position, looking over the room once more, still in a state of some confusion.

“So...am I good to go?” Bo looked over at the other two, who simply nodded. In return, Bo gave a nod of his own. “Good, cause I need a bloody drink after that little fook bout, damn near twisted my tittles!” Illeren stumbled out the door, using the wall to keep himself upright as he silently swore to himself the entire trip up.




Illeren greatly disapproves of everything he thought he saw while thinking about the thoughts he saw -99

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin

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#, as written by Jäger
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She spoke, short and sweet. Arayel, hmm. Have I heard that name somewhere before? He met her gaze, contemplating.
I would’ve remembered those eyes.
As she remained in his sights, peering at him with this odd tilt to her lips, Vasha wondered if she was asking herself the same. And then, the moment was over, the hold unlocked. He found himself at a loss from it, fiercely annoyed that he couldn’t place the memory. The curiosity persisted for a while longer before he audibly sighed. Shoulders relaxed. Fur un-bristled. There was absolutely no point in mindlessly chasing the thought. He would remember.

Trying to turn back towards the Nidhogg, he realized there was something wrong with his neck. It wouldn’t move. He assumed it was a postponed effect from the fall. Still, he could feel nothing, with no way to tell how critical the damage was. Complete physical numbness - probably from abusing the power. A creeping tremor slithered up his spine, his heart palpitating. ‘What good is victory if your life is the wager?’ Her voice echoed in his mind, emotional and so out of his depth. ‘One of these days, you’re going to get a bad hand Vash. Please, please, stop being so reckless. People rely on you.’ Taking a dagger out from his pack, he angled his body such that the left side was out of view. Slowly, the blade pierced his flesh, sinking down steadily. Like the drip of hot wax. He buried it to it’s handle, all 5 inches. Years of practice guided him to the nerve endings, the acute muscle clusters, avoiding the thicker bone and ligaments. Just barely, he felt pain. Just barely, he felt pleasure. But it was enough - Ninelyn was gone.

Adriel called out, emerging from a cave sparkling with static energy. Fascinating. So this is the fabled lightning of the Ghoul. The sparks earlier must have been from him as well. Vasha listened to his words more intently this time, modifying his cursory opinion from before. The elf may be an uninspiring leader but he was gradually earning Vasha’s respect, even if only as an object of study.

In one quick stroke, Vasha pulled out the dagger. Everyone around him was caked in Nidhogg shit though he was probably the most decorated of them all. Beneath him was a sea of unnamed musculature and skin tissue. Pieces of bone stuck out like gravestones. All of it smelled like ass. Terrible, repulsive Nidhogg ass. The mountainous Nidhogg corpse towered above them, its shadow covering a great deal of the quarry. Flies had started to swarm.

Some patches of dirt managed to escape the shit storm, like beige acne spots amidst scar tissue. He found one such patch, squatting and grabbing fistfuls. First he cleaned the blood off his dagger, returning it to his pack. Then he bathed himself, rubbing the tiny granules against his body. It felt vaguely like sandpaper. All the while, he listened to Adriel and watched the others. There were fewer now. Corpses floated in the shit sea like bloated whales. From the back, Pile of Rags approached them, shoulders hunched and spine curled. A standing fetal position. Strange that he would want to appear so small.

Vasha caught what looked to be an expression of delight flit across Arayel’s face as she tore off a momento. Intriguing. Illeren was spouting childish nonsense, immune to the usual awkwardness that would accompany such behavior. Adriel continued speaking, seemingly unfazed. The words, “dont care what you did to survive”, caught Vasha’s attention. He’s sensible? How surprising. “Filthy human lands.” Nope, nevermind. The rest was about another sort of test, leaving for Barkmere, and information about the cure. Vasha knew Barkmere. A novel opportunity, one that could've been the perfect experiment for race hybridization if it weren't for its bleeding heart residents. Vasha had had a number of arguments with his superiors back in the day on the exact issue. The general consensus: you can’t just superimpose evolution on a sentient species. Narrow-minded liberals.

Congealing the stringy gore within the dirt, Vasha was able to remove most of the thicker Nidhogg residue from his armor. It still clung to his hair like a prepubescent brat and his face was more or less stained brown, but at least he could now move without guts between his legs. The others were getting ready to leave, collecting their belongings and following Adriel up the ramp. Vasha stayed behind, however.

He had work to do.



If Vasha hadn’t known how to get to Barkmere, it would’ve been a simple task of following the pungent trail the others left behind. Fortunately, he did and was able to take a side route that was less… aromatic. The trek was largely uneventful aside from how deserted the roads were. Vasha remembered when they were bustling, alight with all sorts of merchants and travelers. Granted, bandits and thieves were just as plentiful but the decrepit roads made him itch with something he couldn’t quite name. The pestilence had a farther reach than he had thought - and that ignorance worried him. What other things do I not know? He made a mental note to speak with Higoht.

A leather sac hanging from his belt was dripping, the bottom soaked through. Inside were all sorts of Nidhogg anatomy, from the stomach, to the heart, to its brain. After the others had disappeared over the cliff edge, Vasha began dissecting the mother and her young, careful of the stomach acids he had encountered earlier. Of course, with the sheer mass of the mother, he could only get so far in a reasonable amount of time, prioritizing its brain and appendage growth. Looking for anything that might tell the story of its existence, what makes it tick and what makes it go silent. Once he was done with the mother, he stashed the smallest offspring within a sac (for future academic learning of course). At that point, he was about an hour behind the others.

He had made good time since, estimating that he was about 20 minutes out. When he came upon Barkmere’s acclaimed walls, the others had already gone inside. That wasn’t an issue however as Nidhogg remains covered him much the same as his party. Vasha was officially welcomed to Barkmere with a gruff nod and a hand covering the nose.

Knowing full well that he couldn’t just waltz into a well-respected inn with a bag full of Nidhogg guts, Vasha found a lonely, abandoned barrel and deposited his loot. There was little worry of theft thus his primary concern was disguising the scent. Finding various herbs and powders from other barrels, he concocted a cocktail of musky scents that did indeed mask the smell. The problem was it overpowered it rather than lessened it. In spite of what most would consider a failure, Vasha was satisfied. Now there was no way anyone would go near his barrel.

Still, his neck was paralyzed and he hadn’t been able to avoid the stomach acids entirely. When he arrived, he had seen the back end of some his party members entering an inn. Following in their footsteps, he asked the innkeeper where his comrades were, explaining that he had arrived just now. Baths? Heated baths? That sounds marvelous.



Outside the baths, Vasha spotted an orc offering healing beside the entrance. The orc was good - within moments he could move his neck freely again, the burns from the acid all but forgotten. Expressing his gratitude, he crossed the threshold, heavy, humid fumes blanketing him upon entering. Taking a moment to enjoy the luxury, Vasha suspected that it would be long indeed before he’d be granted it again.



Refreshed and rejuvenated, albeit angry as all hell that his hair was soaking wet, Vasha joined the others in the meeting room. Most in attendance felt fairly stiff, on the defensive, awaiting whatever new test they were about to undertake. Taking a seat near the middle of the table, Vasha settled in to watch the show. Illeren had propped his feet up on the table like a little child, practically jumping with selfish energy. God, how Vasha wished he could just stick the twerp in a deep hole and wait until his maturity became a little more bearable. Several in their attendance were wearing peculiar clothes. Like the bawdy, open shirt on pretty boy over there or Arayel’s overly elegant choice in dress. It did compliment her attributes though.

He had decided to wear a simple black tunic, collared and well-fitting. In addition, he kept some leather belts on him, never too keen on being defenseless, even when there was no danger in conspicuous view. One never knows what trouble might be around the corner.

Higoht, no Bo now, began speaking once the last few found chairs. Gradually, his voice gained more confidence. Vasha was grateful for the clarity, finding it extraordinary that coincidence had seen fit to give Bo the cure to this disease as a boy. It all seemed so unlikely, that the very cure would be a poison that was renowned for taking lives. Terribly fitting in its own way. The next part both excited and terrified Vasha. Lose all control? What does he mean? Rather abruptly, Vasha felt sick to his stomach, worrying about the implications from such an out of body experience.

Moral path? Well that’s a simple decision - choose that which has the most positive outcomes. Vasha found it bizarre that Bo would even have to ask the question. As he thought about it he realized the orc had no where near the experience he possessed. Perhaps he hadn’t learned the lesson yet. Talk of potential missions, rewards, and a final disclaimer followed, all of which Vasha thought irrelevant: what he would be asked to do mattered not, he had little care for material rewards, and although unnerved, he was anxious to get it over with. Apparently, a number among them had the same idea. Vasha sighed and leaned back in his chair. It was going to be a long night.



Once the eager ones had been served, faces hollow and exhausted as they trudged up the stone steps, Vasha volunteered. He felt as if his demons were coming up to greet him as the light got fainter and fainter. And yet… what is that smell? Scented candles? They smelled of duskwood and home, a small token of comfort that held his apprehension at bay. An impervious stone slab greeted him when he reached the bottom, offering cold condolences as he laid his back against it. The air was musty. Cold and unforgiving. A crooked elf appeared from the umbra, a straw basket in his hands. The lid opened. Light reflected off its golden scales as it traced the contours down the keeper’s arm - a styx snake. With a deliberate squeeze against its throat, the thing’s fangs expanded out, bright white against matte black.

At first Vasha felt nothing. Not the bite and not the initial circulation into his bloodstream. On the return trip back to his heart, something started to happen. It was like getting pinched harder and harder. A compression of meat and sinew. And then it hit his heart. Agony like he’d never felt before; burning like he was submerged in lava, suffocation like he was perpetually drowning. A pounding bass drum of rolling spasms overtook him, crashing against his head like the great waves of a typhoon. Rebellion. That’s what his body sang, trying to launch itself off the slab, trying to get away from the pain. But he was being held down, by what or who he had no idea - he was far too gone. In order to cope, his regenerative store kicked in, attempting to fight the poison. No matter how much he regenerated, the toxin found ways to osculate faster through his veins. Almost like it was learning. As a last resort his subconscious tried to send the torment outwards, yearning for a scapegoat.

It found one.

Immediately, some of the bonds relaxed, giving Vasha the opportunity to act. Like a wild animal he tried to rip away from his chains. Sickening cracks came from the points of high strain. A large hand slammed into his chest, forcing him back on the slab. Vasha growled, deep and guttural, face distorted into a grisly expression. Suddenly, something crashed into his lower jaw, cracking the bone there as his mouth opened. A cottony substance was forcefully jammed into his mouth. Then another sudden pound to his adam’s apple and he reflexively swallowed the substance.

A long while passed before control started to return to him. Awareness came in glimpses. Someone had been wounded and was receiving healing from the orc that had helped him before. Then the orc moved to help him; mending his broken jaw, broken limbs, and bruised neck. When he felt like he was himself again, he gingerly sat up, observing the damage he had caused. The medicine man told him that he had somehow transferred his pain to the elf over there and had ignored his own welfare, breaking his own bones in the process.

“Ah.” was all Vasha could manage, throat sore and croaking. Trying again, he spoke, “Tell the elf I’m sorry when he wakes.” he coughed painfully, swallowing dryly before continuing, “And that if he should have any favor I can reasonably perform, I will do it.” The orc nodded, returning back to his companion. Vasha got up in stages, testing his weight on each leg before attempting to walk. Part of him felt horrible, like he’d come back from the dead. Which in a way he had. But another part felt differently, more intensely. He felt alive.




Vasha approves of Adriel's combat prowess: +6
Vasha approves of Arayel's tastes, both on the battlefield and in clothing: +5
Vasha slightly approves of Higoht's luck with fate: +3
Vasha slightly disapproves of Illeren's childishness: -3

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: Adriel Nisaan

0.00 INK

Image






Bo was awake long before the roosters rose to crow, bolting upright from his bed like a balissta that was too chipper for its own good. He had nightmares of the sort that fled when his eyelids parted; he liked to think that they were scared of him. In the ochre light of dawn, he dressed himself in a linen undershirt and comfortable trousers. It was unwise to march around towns in a full set of armor, after all; at least while he was outside Kyoshel. Bo liked to think he was adjusting very well, for never having left his hometown before this grand venture.

Before setting out for the morning, he paused beside the door that led to Adriel's chambers, rapping his knuckles on the door. Twice he knocked, and thereafter chose to let himself in with a curt, loud greeting in case his second or some nightly companion needed the announcement to cover themselves in the inn's sheets. Yet the sheets were in order, tidy and tucked, as if Adriel had never even entered it, let alone slept there.

This discouraged Bo somewhat, as he'd set aside this room for the infiltrator specifically; it had a long gilded face mirror that would have fit all of his tall hair.

Curious though the incident was, it did not deter him from facing the day. That is, until he was actually outside. Bo wasn't certain how it was that so many civilians came to recognize him, but what began as children and youths gingerly asking after his identity soon became a swarm of equally inquisitive adults; humans and elves alike, though mostly elves--blocking his path like short partitions that reached his neck.

Some were kind enough to simply bid him and his men good luck, but most had questions that ranged from simple to nosy to inane. "What's a Pestilence? Will the disease reach our fair town? What are you doing exactly, master orc?" Apparently they had been pestering a bearded orc the day prior--his medicler Juyo, Bo imagined--who happily informed them that while he was indeed part of the organization, the true leader of it was on his way. And here he was, in all his greenness.

Bo did not want to hurt anyone, which kept him from simply shoving people aside--that may have been acceptable in Kyoshel at times, but he frequently reminded himself that he was dealing with races more tender than his own. So, he never found reprieve from the masses, though the local soldiers sheepishly tried to intervene, with some casting open-mouthed gazes at him as they did. Bo had forgotten how popular he was back in Rielorn, and even if he had remembered, he did not imagine the social status would extend as far as the outskirts of the elven territories. What may have been a compliment to most with time to spare felt to him like a smack in the face, because he knew equally (if not moreso) famous elves like Adriel were able to maneuver through the bodies with with idle pleasantries and well wishes, whereas his situation was more akin to being a mutt with an onset of fleas. Fleas that asked millions of questions each. It wasn't fair.


"Adriel," he said, rather forcefully to his second, frowning deeply when he saw him sometime later. He inclined his head for the elf to enter the privacy of his room. Though it might bother most, Adriel was relatively undeterred by the thought of being alone in the leader's bedroom, even with the leader in it; and so he complied without a word. Immediately after closing the door behind himself, Bo clapped his hands over his eyes, groaning inwardly as he collapsed against it. "Where were you? This is the second time I've gotten overrun by your people, and oh no, it was no better than the first time. I can't imagine how I'll be ready to go back to Rielorn."

The elf chuckled with a wry smile when he found out what was the matter, folding his arms. "Well, if that's the worst of your problems, I'd love to be you. I thought orcs were known for their hardy and thick skins."

"Yes," Bo replied as he dragged his hands down his cheekbones, "but in Kyoshel, crowds are what happen when something goes wrong. Children may as well be sewn to their mother's skirts until they're sent to lessons, and you just... you don't talk to strangers."

Not having seen much of the orclands himself, as his time training under Luenne was spent mainly outside the walls, Adriel simply shrugged. "By the way," he segued coolly, "Merrilville's fucked. I imagine that will be our destination today."

Bo looked at his friend incredulously. "Is that where you went? Did you sleep there?"

"Oh, as tempting as human women are... No, I slept in Ashmir's house." Then he added with hushed giddiness: "Cozier, less rats."

"Very well," Bo muttered, rubbing his hand on his thick neck as he moved to his bed; unfurling a chainmail from his bag and fastening pieces of armor to his elbows. Seeing this, Adriel took it as his cue to leave.

"No, stay--please. I wish to discuss particulars with you."

"What particulars, exactly?"

"Well," he huffed thoughtfully, "I'd found out about Merrilville from a merchant, but he also mentioned that they haven't heard from a nearby fort called Barling. We'd deduced that Merrilville was more likely to be victim to the Pestilence, and as you've... gracefully confirmed, but it may be worth keeping the fort in mind as well."

"Can do," he said, opening the door to leave.

"And what were your thoughts on our new recruit?" But the only response Bo would receive to that, apparently, was the sound of a closing door.


The newly immune heroes gathered in the lobby when they were set and ready to go, and their leader took the opportunity to not only explain their next destination, but to introduce to them their unusual ally, Kiske Kirill. Rather bluntly, Bo informed them that the man was a high-profile killer who's recruition occurred later than expected, and he was to be tested before he received his own douse of serpent venom. As such, the man would be travelling with them at his most vulnerable. The orc made it clear that, of course, they were not responsible for looking after the pale figure, but he did imply that they were responsible for striking him down should he succumb to the disease.

He did not mention that the disease was most volatile and contagious when it first struck a village, which meant that the risk may have been lower than usual, but only because he found such a thought irrelevant. Regardless, Kiske seemed to be bouncing off the walls with joy by the thought of accompanying them at all.




The village did not take long to reach. Even from a distance, its atmosphere was foul and reeked of a passed catastrophe. While the buildings were mostly intact, doors hung from their hinges and lay ajar, and crows dotted the roofs and awnings--some chewed contemplatively. Carts were overturned, windows were smashed, and on occasion, there were red handprints on the walls.

Merrilville's human villagers were few and far between, but they were still there. Simply, the corpses that were laying in the open were seldom whole.

Bo carefully coaxed his unit toward the city center, keeping a wide berth from walls and alleyways. Such destruction of a humble dwelling no longer impacted him as much as it should have. Before long, he heard haggard breathing. "Eyes open," he said, hoping they knew well enough to already have their weapons drawn. Shambling with an eerie feral dexterity, the plague-ridden approached, having sniffed them out. With a human's shriek from a human's body, a woman with wolf-like fangs and men with long talons trampled towards them. Bo moved quickly, intercepting at least three and bodily launching them back.

More screams resounded from the crevices between the buildings, scattered throughout the town. "Spread out, all of you," Bo commanded as he barred off his next foe with the body of his weapon, "and put the ravaged ones out of their misery. Be swift, we may find survivors yet."

Snapping and snarling, his opponent struggled to best his orcish strength. He shoved the creature at the well, where it lost its balance and tumbled back into the depths. Its shriek echoed down, fading until it was replaced with desperate splashing. "You have twenty minutes. Meet me in here, the town square, after that time."


The {Atlas} has been updated.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Kiske Kirill

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Laetya

The realization that she had been caught off guard didn’t occur until Laetya had been planted flat on her back, a respectable flurry of dust settling on the ground from where she had skid. This Nidhogg was a hell of a lot faster than she expected. Just had to go tryin’ to make conversation in the middle of a life or death battle with a monster . . . at least I’ll know better next time. It almost seemed like the massive beast was aiming for her again when a brilliant flash of steel came crashing down on its head, followed by a deafening crack. Before she knew it there was a heaping mass of steel standing in front of her, Tane, advising her to stay behind him. ”Yea, thanks for the advice as you so kindly have the creature’s attention focused right on us.” Near life-threatening experiences made her a little snippy at times.

Most of what happened afterwards was rather blurry as the orc found it somewhat difficult to focus until the beast was dead and gone. People rushing left and right, some dying horribly and others not so much, and finally their fearless escort joined the fray, squawking about killing or whatnot before she finally found another reason to dislike the stuck up bastard. Another filthy magic user, they were just all over the place weren’t they? As if being a foul-tempered elf with his head stuck up his ass wasn’t bad enough, he had to be a magic user. Things could be worse though, at least he didn’t seem like a hypocrite. It wasn’t long before they were on their way to meet Higoht at Barkmere, one of the first towns she visited after leaving Kyoshel. While some of the group seemed to get side-tracked, or maybe they died earlier who knows, Laetya began lagging near the back of the trotting champions of the Gathering. The bruises on her left side were being a literal pain in the ass as the trek continued.

Their arrival at the city was less than triumphant, being greeted primarily by the sound of gagging citizens throwing up their hands to cover their mouths and noses. Higoht greeted them briefly, and quickly ushered them towards the baths of an inn he had reserved for their sakes, she would definitely need to find a way to thank the big lug for his act of generosity. That or ask him for some coin seeing as he was doing so well nowadays, anything besides Elven liquor and grub would probably be more expensive in a damned border town trying to mark up the price of their goods. Bastards. Her first mission though, was to quickly make her way to the bath and soak for as long as possible before the evening’s proceedings, expediting the scenario by waving off the orcish medicler Higoht posted near the baths. She wouldn’t mind having his hands on her for a bit, hell she would probably return the favor, but her wounds didn’t seem that bad, all things considered.



By the time she had made it to the meeting room, Laetya was positively seething at how the night’s events had turned out thus far, having made a fool of herself in front of both Gulfim and Higoht. She had decided to stay dressed in, her thankfully clean, under-armor, hoping to feel secure in some fashion given the turbulent evening. The room itself made her extremely uncomfortable, dark and crowded as their group attempted to placate themselves while seated at a round table covered in a tablecloth that was much too nice to be here. To top it off the chairs themselves weren’t made for orcs, which was to be expected, but this forced the already perturbed Reaper to stand behind her chair instead of being seated, leaning over the furniture with her arms crossed over the top of its back, her back and shoulders shaking slightly as her foot tapped up and down furiously. At least the white-haired elf was singing a merry little ditty that helped calm her fury a bit, and her current position most definitely gave her a marvelous vantage point of the curious elven female’s revealing bodice.

It wasn’t until everyone arrived that her cousin decided to show up and tell them exactly what the hell else could go wrong with the rest of the night. Tired? Check. Concise? Thank the gods. Congratulations? Better be booze. Proud? Fuck you. Adriel? You wish. Uhhh Bo? That’s when he finally caught her attention in full, bringing up the Styx snake. Of course she knew what the hell those were, dangerous worm-looking bastards you stayed the hell away from with a ten-foot Qundo if possible. Hmm, immunity to the Pestilence or NOT be bitten by a damn snake . . . yeah, really tough choice. I’ll take my chances with turning into a vicious cannibal. Of course it was all a little dull after that. Childhood bite? Old news. Hellraising experience? No shit. Adriel killed a man? Must’ve insulted the hair. Official member, loyalty, respect blah-blah-blah. Then, there it was again, that damnable hook taking her mind off the more important things in the evening, like where the good booze could be found. Just the thought that Ezra might be able to make a moral decision for the group left Laetya mortified. Maybe she was right when she said Higoht’s brain had been fried by the Styx venom all those years ago.

That’s when the waiting game began. She had wanted to go first and get the damned thing over with, well maybe not so much because fuck getting bit by a snake, but still though everyone kept jumping at the damned opportunity to get on with their night. The white-haired elf goaded the gaudy Ezra, with that sickening chest-hair showing shirt of his, while the chesty elf decided to just go ahead and get it over with. Then followed Bandages, the lunatic who charged the beast earlier and won’t stop eyeing her Qundo, the bossy elf, the white-haired elf, Ezra, and finally Tane. Enough was enough, it was getting late and watching everyone come up looking like they had just seen death incarnate was not helping her prep for this little ritual at all. Before anyone else could climb up and volunteer to go Laetya charged forth and stomped down towards the basement lying below. Snarling at the trio of men waiting for her, ”Hurry up and strap me down so we I can get this the hell over with.” With that she laid back and clamped her eyes shutting, hoping that not seeing the snake would make things easier.

She couldn’t have been further off the mark. The bite itself didn’t seem all that bad to be honest, she had probably felt more painful pin-pricks, but when she opened her left eye to try and make sure they weren’t tricking her something very wrong was happening. A creeping haze was working its way from the edges of her vision, blurring and blacking it out. A frigid chill descended upon her prostrate form and the air dampened, thickening heavily until her breathing became laborious. The tightening around her heart sent a pang of panic through her system, the thought of being jammed into a cramped box flashing through her mind’s eye for a split second. ”Ok, I’m good to go, you can hurry up and let me go now,” she growled in frustration, with just a hint of desperation in her voice, if there was anything she feared most in the world it was being chained and caged.

The orc bucked against the restraints as hard as she could, hoping to break the bonds as silence pervaded the still air around her. No one was there. Why were they doing this? The sickening chill in her chest began to burn like a ferocious winter, the biting cold creeping through every fiber in her body. Laetya struggled against her bonds even more fiercely, ignoring their bite into her exposed flesh, the heat of her blood searing against the icy chill permeating her body. Then, as suddenly as the horrifying experience began, it stopped. Like a tidal wave crashing over her, all the unpleasantness of the situation merely disappeared, leaving a frantic look in the orc’s emerald eyes as she finally caught sight of the three in the room. The silence remained between them as they waited to undo her restraints, wanting to make sure that she had truly finished the initiation. After Laetya sat up and began rubbing the areas where the restraints had cut into her flesh Juyo made a move to heal her wounds, and a powerful crack echoed around the dark chamber as she ferociously slapped his hands away. ”I swear if any one of you tries to touch me again tonight I will cut your hands off so that when I break them you can’t heal them afterwards.”

Then she marched out, simmering furiously as she stomped through the room where the few remained who hadn’t taken the initiation.



By the time the first rays of dawn peeked over the horizon Laetya was already drenched with sweat and panting furiously. Her night did not go as planned. She started off by finding the last flask of liquor in her pack half-full, and after quaffing it quickly she began to argue vehemently with a rat who had made residence in her room. Ok, maybe she was arguing with herself more than the rat, but everything was directed towards her. The affair didn’t carry on for very long, only a couple hours, but it was enough to get her blood boiling more than slightly. So naturally she attempted to calm down by drawing in her sketch book, but to no avail as her hands were shaking so intensely from the rat affair that everything kept coming out fuzzy and jittered. Finally she resorted to something she hadn’t done in a very long time, practicing martial arts.

Her family wasn’t renowned for their martial styles outside on using the Qundo, but they knew the basics of hand-to-hand combat, as any warrior should. And there she was, outside the back of the inn, tossing her hands and feet willy-nilly as she attempted to recall half-forgotten moves and improvising when she couldn’t remember. It was much more exhilarating than she recalled, and the mental processes involved served to greatly distract her from the previous day’s events, calming her in a much needed fashion. Laetya was fairly sure the noise she was making might be attracting undue attention in the wee hours of the morning, but it seemed either no one cared, or they didn’t want to bother an angry orc who looked ready to snap more than a few necks.

It wasn’t until well after the sun had risen that she decided to meet with the rest of her companions in the inn’s lobby, she had neglected to bathe after training all night, instead merely tromping upstairs to bring her belongings down. Higoht had said there would be more fighting today, so she might as well be ready for it, and a bath might not do more than relax her too much. While she could feel the first tendrils of exhaustion creeping through her body it would take more than one sleepless night to keep her from performing at her best. That’s when her cousin introduced the group to their newest companion, a very strange and unfortunate sight indeed. The fellow had more makeup on than most whores, and his clothing made even the gaudiest of them look plain by comparison, what’s worst is the fact he was yet another human. While she wasn’t exactly thrilled to be working with a high-profile killer, there wasn’t too much to do about that fact and most of them in the Gathering might be labeled killers depending on who was talking. Still though, this Kiske guy was a really creepy looking fucker.

Whatever the case though, there was another mission it seemed. Shortly thereafter they were marching their way to some small town nearby called Merrilville, a miraculously quick jog from Barkmere in all honesty. As soon as she caught sight of the town creeping over the horizon Laetya could tell something bad had happened there. While the half-chewed bodies could be blamed on scavengers, there weren’t nearly enough to justify any type of bandit, or even slaver, attack on the village, and the relatively massive walls said such an alternative was also highly unlikely. Once they were coaxed inside gate and towards the town center she kept near the edge of the pack but stayed a healthy distance from the treacherous alleyways that peppered the village. She wasn’t sure, but the shadows weren’t moving like they should have been.

As Higoht cautioned them, as group of inhuman beasts emerged from the lurking shadows. Laetya had never seen the plague-ridden with her own eyes, but she had heard more than enough stories to verify what was before them. They weren’t the ugliest things she had ever seen, but this first contact still left her stomach in a slight knot, maybe just a half-hitch. She let her pack, hanging from her left shoulder, drop down to the ground with a soft thud and assumed an aggressive posture. With a sideways twist of her head she looked back at the rest of the group, turning towards the nearest alley, ”Never been the best with time, but I’ll be seeing you all when I get back.” Without another word she took off to face whatever dangers lay in wait.

Laetya disapproves of Adriel’s magic. -10 approval

Laetya approves of Gulfim for being the same, but not. +4 approval

Laetya approves of Higoht for being the same, but not. +4 approval

Laetya approves of Illeren’s singing. +3 approval

Laetya questions Ezra’s clothing. +/- 0 approval

Laetya doesn’t question Arayel’s clothing. +6 approval

Laetya disapproves that Higoht might let Ezra make moral decision for the group. -7 approval

Laetya approves of everyone who made it through the initiation. +15 approval

Laetya disapproves of everyone and anyone after the initiation. -3 approval