Age of Alliance: Serpent's Call

Tegea

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a part of Age of Alliance: Serpent's Call, by Gray.

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Gray holds sovereignty over Tegea, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Wudgeous are listed as curators, giving them final say over any conflict & the ability to clean up mistakes.

Setting

Default Location for Age of Alliance: Serpent's Call

Tegea

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Minimap

Tegea is a part of Age of Alliance: Serpent's Call.

17 Characters Here

Adriel Nisaan [40] The Second, The Ghoul - Infiltrator.
Illeren Myakleyth [37] The Wild Stallion - "Stealing's only illegal all the time...so don't get caught."
Ezra Bravesteel [37] "I'm here to kick ass and save princesses. And I'm all out of princesses!"
Higoht Ezengbo [33] The First - Champion. "Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust. Or grow barnacles."
Gretchen [28] The Third, The Gretch - Militia.
Kir [25] Militia
Laetya Kyuutae [24] "Life is more than the laws that govern us." - The Reaper
Arayel Maervanyn [23] "Come closer. I don't bite!"
Vasha Rhuin [22] "Ugh.. I'm bored already."
Tane Solberg [21] "I weild Duty and Resolve much as I carry them in my heart." -The Juggernaut

Start Character Here »


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan

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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

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#, 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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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Delete this--double posted because of all those crazy RPGateway errors.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Adriel Nisaan Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Aurileith Sabriel Character Portrait: Ezra Bravesteel Character Portrait: Arayel Maervanyn Character Portrait: Berlioz Sarkozy Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth

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The world is built by killers, so you better get used to looking at them.


How did one prepare for a cryptic, inexplicable initiation? It went beyond whetting blades and stretching stiff muscles. This was a battle she was not accustomed to facing and so, Gulfim had chosen to fuss with her armour until it shone like gleaming scales and slick obsidian. She'd had more conversations than she expected she'd have in such a short period of time, and had much to contemplate, but for now it would have to wait. She had no idea how the others fared, but hoped that they were well. Hoped with glaring urgency that they were alive. Even though she'd said nought a word, Arayel's reassurance resonated in her thoughts. They would be there for her afterwards. The fluttering birds-breath of a heartbeat felt unusually calm as she stepped down the stairs, trailing behind two hulking healers. This was just another trial to face, and if she were to compare this with what she'd had to endure beneath her father's cumbersome expectations, and her older brother's limitless shadow, it felt much lighter.

She would not falter in this.

She would endure. She would overcome. She would live, live selflessly and prove herself capable.

Down and down they went until a wafting smell of duskwood and pine needles met her nose. Pine needles? Perhaps not. An unfamiliar scent of old candles, musty warbled stones, and subterreanian earth. A curious, unknown earthly chamber illuminated with candles and torches—perfect for it's purpose, she supposed. There was a handwoven basket nearby, flanked by two healers, who were already ushering her towards the slab. She trailed calloused fingertips across it's surface, fixated on it's coolness, and placed both her palms onto it. She willed within herself a calmness, a tranquillity she could grasp and centralize herself with. If what Bo said was accurate, then that calmness would disappear. Every once she'd amassed until now would pour away, leaving her vulnerable. That, in itself, terrified her. The inability to remain whole, and calm, and assured. She took another deep breath and centred herself as the healers shuffled around the slab, unfastening the leather straps. Underground basement, musty smells, humid air.

Gulfim finally hefted herself onto the slab and stretched her legs outwards, trying to ignore the bead of sweat gathering at her temples, on her drawn-in brows. She forced her lips into a thin, dispassionate line; though, she could feel the blossoming fear resonating in her core. Hammering a hapless, quivery tune, which rattled against her ribs. What demons did she harbour? What would it be like if her fears were drowned out and overpowered? What would it be like if she, like Gretchen had against the Nidhogg... She shook her head and laid back against the now-shivery slab of rock, allowing them to strap her ankles, and upper arms down. They murmured instructions to one another, as if to make last preparations and finally carried the basket to her side. One of the orcs, smaller than the one who held the basket, adjusted her straps once more, before inclining his head. Ready, then. The lump in her throat remained a knot she could hardly swallow around.

When he pulled the top of the basket off and carefully handled the Styx snake, Gulfim bright eyes fixed on its gleaming scales. Gleaming like her well-oiled leathers, with eyes that spun like polished gems, catching the candlelight as it slithered around the man's green hands. It's forked tongue darted in and out of its mouth. The orc-healer drew closer, holding it aloft. It was mesmerizing, in a sense. Somewhat unexpected. What had she expected? A terrible monster. She'd heard tall tales and whispered stories in Kyoshel about the snake itself, but hadn't expected it to be so pretty. She found herself leaning forward to get a better glimpse, and in a flash of coiled capacity, the Styx snake hissed backwards, and latched onto her neck before she had the chance to jerk her arm up to defend herself. Flanged fangs dug in until the healer pressed it's head back, dribbling maw and all, releasing her from it's clutch-hold.

Her eyes swam. Gulfim hardly recognized them plopping the Styx snake back into the basket, hardly recognized anything at all. Red, red, red.[/color] Her senses were suffocating—drowning in the belly of a monster, and with it came a wholehearted soul-wrenching anger that resonated as brightly, as blindly as the blistering pain spanning down her neck and spine and thrashing limbs. A depth worthy of filling chasms of calm, tranquil pools. Her muscles spasmed and twisted and screamed against the strained leather straps, and her eyes rolled back into her head. She gnashed her teeth at the [i]faceless ones standing around her, and jerked upwards, pulling against the restraints. Blistering, burning snakes wrapped around her wrists. They were pulling her under. Underneath what? She wasn't sure. She couldn't—

Hissing.

Hissing.

And there he was. Standing next to one of the faceless ones, closest to her. Lips pulled into a disapproving frown, eyebrows drawn together as if to say she'd failed again. She'd failed her family. She'd failed them all. With all of the pain she felt, as if her bones were brittle branches crackling underneath his feet, Belfor looked upon her failures and arbitrated shame and weakness. The sound that escaped her own throat was feral and angry and bubbling with the same fractious storm brewing in her gut. Her heart felt hollow; a stone slab, cold to the touch. Unbeating and unusually quiet against the lick of fire fingering down her spine, her bones, her eyelids. There was nothing to cling to. No light, no centre-point. She waded in darkness, and it ignited flames instead. She thought she heard voices, but she couldn't be sure. Muddled and muffled and incessantly persistent in their rabble—she wished they would cease, or she would... she would...

You are weak, little sister. And we can't afford weakness.

He tilted his head and raised his hands, motioning to the faceless ones. More words, fumbling out of his mouth like yawning wounds. Gulfim blinked furiously, desperate to see him clearer. Willing him into nonexistence. Wanting to wrap her hands around his throat and squeeze until the words simply stopped. She longed for silence. To stop feeling that relentless, drowning malice. It made her feel sick; dizzy and weak. It was as he said. Her body shuddered violently. He was right, wasn't he?

You want strength? You want to be stronger? You're just a little girl. This it too much for you to handle. Pathetic.

She was frothing madness. Acerbic flames, fanning outwards. A monster's belly, swimming in a monster's belly. Full of filth and aching limbs; screeching lungs that could not form words of their own. She gurgled around growls and snarls and a savagery she did not believe existed. Stop, stop, stop, stop. Her body was not her own. The leather straps, the cold Styx snakes, strained against her efforts and finally tore apart and snapped off the slab, hurling her forward while the faceless ones converged and grabbed onto her shoulders. Too late. Too late, now. Bright eyes fixated on Belfor's grinning face, on his condescending expression; unimpressed by her corded hand bound around his neck. Fingernails digging in like talons. Her head snapped backwards, jabbed from somewhere faraway. Her hand remained, tighter. Their voices were small things, soft murmurs in the background of his.

Pathetic.

Constricting fingers dug into the fleshy parts of his neck and fingernails continued digging trenches, burying deep enough to smother the smile from his mouth. Mush it into a strangled wail. There were hands wrapped around her shoulders, her biceps, her torso—all trying to force her back down. She could not swallow her rage. Impossible. Couldn't they see that? Couldn’t they understand? She could house it no longer. Errant fingers pulled back her lips, cracked open her grinding teeth and slime, monster slime, was shoved in. She tried to spit and bite and throw her head back but more hands clamped her mouth closed, held her chin and head position. All of the fight had left Belfor. In turn, her slick-wet hands released their grip on his neck and she was slammed back unceremoniously against the stone-slab. She was a mouse in the woods, she was a moth in a jar, she was choking on hatred, she was a child in a woman's body. Her limbs were cramping with the need to run far away, but the fight had left her as well, and the darkness ebbed like the sea. In and out, in and out.

Voices. More voices. She wished they'd simply... cease.

She tried to swim back to something. The whites of her eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed. Puffy eyelid clicking closed. Bruises. She felt bruised and beaten, and wondered idly if something had happened. There were softer voices, now. Whispering to each other; muted, clutching things that she wanted to reach towards. Promises whispered in the darkness that pervaded her vision. She allowed it to carry her wherever it wished. Heavy chest rose and fell. Battered knuckles clenched tight to her sides. She tried counting. She tried rolling words around her tongue, but only managed a small croaking noise. Suddenly, a strong hand dropped across her shoulder. Comfort, calm, still. There was a whisper—a familiar lullaby of words, just beside her head, but she could not make them out.

Her eyes slowly drooped closed, and a soft sigh escaped her lips. She slept.




There was no one yelling in her ears when consciousness claimed her. No unknown, mysterious voices muttering around the stone-slab she expected to awake to. Instead, Gulfim shifted against clean linens, though her body protested even those small movements. Had someone hit her? A brick wall, maybe. It certainly felt like it. Her last memory was being bitten by the Styx snake, and then nothing. Simply nothing. The more she scrounged her thoughts, the less she seemed to recall. There was a biting sensation of unease, swirling in the pit of her stomach. Besides that, there was little else. Perhaps, the others had similar experiences. She'd seen Arayel limping back up the stairs, towards their sleeping quarters. Hopefully she hadn't been the only one to faint. How embarrassing.

One of her eyes was swollen shut, and there were bandages wrapped around her arms, her knuckles. Gulfim took a deep breath and fixed her eyes on the ceiling. She wondered meekly if she should seek out the others and question how their initiations had gone. Wondered if she should simply seek them out to see that they'd all survived. She hoped that they were alive, as well. Hoped that their initiations hadn't taken too much of a toll on them. If she couldn't remember her own, and she was still alive and well, everything was fine. The Pestilence would not affect her as it did others, and she could commit herself to their objectives. A weak smile tipped the corners of her lips up. She hadn't perished in an earthly basement before being able to prove them all wrong. Her family, her brothers. Herself, perhaps, most of all. She was still alive.




After seeing to her armour once more, giving it last one last once-over before she began putting it back on. Snapping on buckles, pulling straps tight against her hips, and straightening out any non-parallel armour-pieces. It took some time. As soon as she was satisfied, and she'd quelled the nervousness already gathering in her legs, Gulfim regarded her blackened eye within the reflection of an old shard of glass. Mottled strangely against her mossy skin. She'd had bruises such as this before, but none she could not remember. Perhaps, no one notice. Everyone had looked particularly haggard after their initiations, from what she'd observed; she was no different. Of course, this journey would task them all. She made a small noise of approval, patted a hand down across the pommel of her blade and slipped out of her chambers.

Everyone had already gathered in the inn's lobby. Gulfim remained resolutely silent, though she took a quick count to see who'd survived, and was pleased with the number of familiar faces she spotted among them. Bright eyes crinkled at the edges, clearly relieved. Good—she shouldn't have doubted them in the first place. Some of them had already proven resilient while battling the Nidhogg... either that or far too stubborn to die. Dying in an old basement because of a snake bite? It was not a death she'd wish on anyone. She did not know whether they thought the same, but death in battle was always much preferred. A senseless demise without achieving your goals? A waste of life. Grim or no, it was the truth.

Any questions she might have had for them pertaining to what they'd gone through in the basement was neatly smothered by further instructions. Gulfim did not mind. Movement meant action, and action was something she understood well. She craned forward and listened intently, only slightly distracted by their newest travelling companion. Rocking on his heels as if he were trying to contain boundless energy. Juggling a simpering smile that appeared as if it were two steps away from transforming into a wily, delighted grin. A high profile killer? An assassin of high calibre. The title was impressive enough, and he did appear light on his feet. He would provide them with many skills, she was sure. His appearance was puzzling. She did not understand why he wore so much makeup and wished to ask him, though she doubted she'd have the opportunity because they were already being led out the door and Kiske walked beside Bo.

This particular journey was much different than the one they'd undergone to reach Barkmere. It felt different, mostly. While she wanted to pull up beside Bo and question his reasonings for taking them here, Gulfim hung beside Laetya and focused on her senses. Was this just another trial to face and overcome? She doubted it. Combating the Nidhogg had been Adriel's personal assessment of their abilities, and they'd passed. Surviving the Styx snake's venom and acquiring it's protection against the Pestilence had been their initiation into the Serpent's Gathering and now, they were performing it's duties. She adjusted her own lofty pack. There was a heaviness overhanging their footsteps, and soon after... a putrid, husky scent drifting from the buildings ahead of them. When they entered the square, Gulfim nearly walked into Ezra's back and wobbled backwards, sputtering an apology as she fanned out as per Bo's instructions.

It was only then that she noticed the bodies. Piles. Missing limbs and some bent in awful angles, gnawed and chewed and missing pieces of themselves. Some of those pieces hung from fiendish mouths. If they could be called that—jaws bent in equally terrible angles, boasting jagged fangs and slavering spit and blood down their pointed chins. Beady eyes swung towards them. Her hand did not waver. She did not hesitate. Her blade had already sung free from it's scabbard and she held it at the ready. Bo gave them further instructions, and Laetya was already sprinting down one of the alleyways. Gulfim nearly hurtled after her retreating form, but jerked to a halt. Twenty minutes? Shouldn't they stay together? Fight as one? This was not her squadron in Kyoshel. This was not... Gulfim regarded the others, eyeing the approaching forms.

Gulfim approves of Arayel's comfort +10
Gulfim approves of having Kiske onboard +5
Gulfim greatly approves of everyone surviving the Initiation +10
Gulfim disapproves of her own weakness -5
Gulfim disapproves of Laetya running off on her own -2

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

Goodbye, Belli.

Karaba.


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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Kir

0.00 INK

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

It hurt.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

Image





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

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

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




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

Good times.

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Tane Solberg Character Portrait: Laetya Kyuutae Character Portrait: Illeren Myakleyth Character Portrait: Vasha Rhuin Character Portrait: Kiske Kirill

0.00 INK

#, as written by Jäger
Image

Vasha was greeted by the bald suit of armor on the last few steps up the stairs. Friend? I’m not your friend. Ah, right. Small talk. The giant’s friendliness seemed awfully out of place for such a hulking creature - consequently irritating him. Luckily, the pain high still blanketed his euphoric brain and a giddy energy had begun to grow in his legs. Best to ignore the hulk’s idiosyncrasy for now. Plus, that drink looked helpful. “Thank you. I wish you luck.”

He entertained the notion of mingling for a moment but almost immediately dismissed it, realizing that his body needed rest. Socializing and barrel experimentation would have to come tomorrow.

The room he found himself in was surprisingly luxurious. Plush, gilded sheets and ornate furnishings. Vasha was happy to find that his window overlooked the cluster of barrels he had so tactfully hidden his own in. He finished off the rest of his drink and retired for the night.



Well before the others woke up, Vasha slid his eyelids back into their sockets. He stood, cracking the joints of his neck and the small of his back. A new day had begun, slightly more exciting than the last.

Good god. He was more excited. Not by much, but it was undoubtedly noticeable. How long had it been since he actually looked forward to a new sun? When he didn’t sleep excessively to the point of being nearly late to everything? When he wasn’t a walking husk? Granted, there was a very special barrel outside with his name etched in stench but he wasn’t one to split hairs. Something good was happening.

He packed his things and left the inn. One of the she-orcs was already outside, beads of sweat dotting her like ornaments on a Christmas tree. She struck the air in what looked to be some kind of flimsy training regimen, so focused that grunts of movement escaped her regularly. Vasha had never encountered such a mountain of a woman. Disorientation and attraction fought each other for a lasting conclusion. In the end, attraction scraped by, the victor.

So far, she hadn’t noticed his approach and he intended to keep it that way, skirting around to the backside of the inn. Awaiting him was his, for the most part untouched, barrel. Some claw marks indicated that an animal had found the smell desirable but a lack of thumbs prevented its entry. If he had more time, he would’ve sat in wait for the creature, curious to see what could find such an odor enticing.

Retrieving the sac, he scoured the city for a long forgotten place. A deserted barn sat in the sparser parts of town, ashen scorch marks licking the wood. Vasha took up residence within and began his incisions.



Some hours later and in desperate need of another bath, Vasha returned from his makeshift laboratory. He’d learned some interesting things; just as he suspected, there were similarities between Nidhogg young and other pack-like creatures. He had yet to learn why they disbanded their protective unit as they grew though he fancied it was for the same reason territorial predators fought to keep their lands free – food. He’d have to deduce if they were cannibalistic when he came across another pool of teenagers.

A quick wash, careful to avoid wetting his hair, and he was ready to go. The walking, talking flower arrangement they were supposed to be allies with made Vasha’s nose scrunch more than even the most foul parts of the Nihogg dissection. What in all of creation was it? A cross between a butterfly and vomit, a repulsive collage or rainbow shit spewed out of a unicorn’s ass. Vasha had heard of these ‘clowns’. He just never expected all his visual nerves to be assaulted upon sighting one. Surely, this one was on the extreme side?

Nevertheless, the affront to any sliver of fashion sense was so offending that Vasha had trouble defining how he actually felt towards it, him, whatever the fuck it was. Deciding that it was preferable to not stare directly into the sun, Vasha directed all of his attention to Bo, miffed that bits of the creature occasionally bled into his peripherals.



To make matters worse, Vasha became acquainted with Illeren’s yowling on the way to Merrilville. It wasn’t the tune that gave injury, rather the accent of insolence added to each high note, like a seagull dropping white bombs on your head or a squirrel nicking your ice cream cone.

Thankfully, the trip was short. Devastation greeted them in wafts of decay. Apparently a staple of their journey would be foul smelling vacation spots – not that Vasha minded overmuch. Better than no vacation at all.

Bo led them through the wreckage, alert and tense. Sounds of life could be heard here and there, guttural moans and footsteps. Vasha would soon find out that it wasn’t life at all that shuffled towards them. No, the creatures hunting them were suspended somewhere in the middle, an altogether fascinating concept to Vasha. As the first few appeared, some of their number engaging them head-on, Vasha felt his lips curl into a smile. Oh, he couldn’t wait to bring home some samples.



Vasha sightly approves of Tane's alcohol contribution: +3
Vasha approves of Laetya's muscular frame: +4
Vasha disapproves of Illeren's musical inclinations : -3

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Higoht Ezengbo Character Portrait: Gretchen

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The next bit seemed to move in slow motion. She watched as spittle seemed to fly from the Boss's gnashing maws, as his jaw surfaced above his shoulder when he turned and bade them to do his bidding. Spread out. Her grin unveiled her teeth from her lips, her cheeks dimpled, and her eyes creased with maddened glee. She was going to like this job, she realized, more than she'd initially suspected.

Gretchen drew her sword in a wide, dramatic swipe, biting down on her lip as she promised to "catch you maggots later." And without a second glance, she darted.






They were fucking everywhere. The bandit deflated herself against a wall of stone and paneling, her bright blue eyes glaring from around its corner. Sure, several of the ravaged skulked around here and there, but before her was a large gathering that tore into a corpse like hyenas besetting a zebra. Some of them still had pieces of leathered armor hanging from their shoulders and breasts, while others drooped their colorful rags. Some seemed to have pointier ears than others. A few of the larger ones had guard helmets on, and she imagined that was what they wore when they died.

They were her quarry, she decided, but they were assembled so close together that she was forced to hesitate. Her breathing hitched in anticipation. If she could lure them out one at a time... dig the lily-leaf under one's chin until its bones cracked and its head rolled. If she could find a pebble and fling it far enough, the majority would go after it and she could kill the ones that lagged behind. She nodded decisively to herself, her skin prickling with gleeful cleverness.

Yet it was not to be.

A noise ripped itself from the depths of hell: the whinnying of a devil. Gretchen ducked and rolled aside from instinct alone, narrowly avoiding massive hooves that stomped where she once was. She looked on in horror as a diseased, maddened stallion swung its head, saliva trailing out of its mouth like a streak of paint. Gretchen braced her arms over her head and threw herself forward, narrowly avoiding the deathly trample as the horse surged forward into a stampede. She stared after the horrid beast, but it did not look back to her, likely having lose its sight.

Warily, she realized the damage was done. She had dodged death by leaping out into the frying pan, so to speak; in the open where all the fuckers she'd wanted to ambush squared their eyes onto her. Unfortunately, they were not blind.

It's funny, in a way, she thought to herself. FUCKING comedic.

Gretchen ran, and the herd of hellspawn screamed and stormed after her. They fell over one another, beat each other out of the way, trying to get at the first whiff of fresh meat they'd smelled in hours. It was not long before she realized, unburdened by mortal possessions as they were, the disease goblins were faster than her.

She lunged through the first open door she saw, shutting it and bolting it behind her. It would not hold, she knew. Hastily, she searched the house for other inhabitants, other threats that wanted to rip into her as much as she wanted to rip into them.

She was alone in the abode, despite the slamming of bodies that bent the door, making it bow inwards. Gretchen bent her neck from side to side, cracking it with loud abandon, readying her sword in both hands. "Didn't your mother ever teach you to knock...?"

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

*Rinárwin marbos = Horrible disease