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Dead Soul

Amore

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a part of Dead Soul, by PaperCoversRockB*tch.

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PaperCoversRockB*tch holds sovereignty over Amore, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Amore is a part of Dead Soul.

5 Characters Here

Ceulan Anth [9] The Stubborn Paladin
Bran Folsin [7] The Dark Moon Knight
Tira Tanae [6] The Insatiable Scholar
Lucia Eskerva [3] The Cursed Witch

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Character Portrait: Bran Folsin
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It is often stated in legend, that one day darkness would return to the land of Amore. When innocent blood spills, a Line ends, and secrets of the forgotten are found, the land will fall under an old rule and never return to the light. Jastor finds itself in political turmoil, as the strongest factions in the land struggle and betray for control over Amore. At this moment, a small group of merchants, adventurers, and travelers begin their journey through Dead Root Forest. An ancient and long storied area, the forest is known to hold many secrets that the outside world can only speculate.

The Mage was not one who could be bargained or reasoned with. He had no use for gold, titles, or any false luxury that comes with fear. Surrounded by soldiers with blades ready, the Mage removed his dagger and slit his own throat, laughing as he did so. His blood poured onto the stoney surface below, The soldiers lowered their weapons, many breathing an audible sigh of relief. As they turned to leave, the sound of a heartbeat echoed through the ears of each of them. They turned to see a ghostly figure floating above the place the Mage had died, his body now gone. Draped in a long black cloak, bright red eyes could be seen shining brilliantly underneath the beings hood. Lifting its hand, a deep and ominous laughter bellowed from the creature as it rotated and moved the boney fingers that cracked with each little shift. The soldiers relayed from their terror, readying their weapons The creature looked up at them, grinding its teeth and stretching out its boney jaw as far as it could without popping it out of place. Raising its hand slowly, it unleashed a powerful flame spell that set fire to the soldiers in an instant.

At that moment, the sound of footsteps could be heard in the darkness. The Lich turned to see an armor-clad man appear into view. Raising its hand once again, the Lich performed the spell again. In an instant the man grabbed on of the soldiers bodies and used it as a shield between him and the flame. Charging the Lich with the soldiers body firmly between him and the fire, he tossed the corpse off to the side right before thrusting his sword into the monsters chest. Letting out a deafening scream, the Lich fell, only its black cloak remaining by the time it hit the ground. Without saying a word, the man walked back into the darkness, leaving those that had fallen, but taking the black cloak with him as proof for payment.


Bran awoke to the sound of chatter amongst the camp. A good thing really, since he prefers waking up before the end of that dream. He had fallen asleep while sitting on a crate, using his sword to prop up his body so as to not fall over. Including the two guides, there were only a few people at the camp, ten to be exact, making eight travelers in all. This was to be expected with the recent reports from the forest, and the fact the guides were charging an extortionate rate nowadays. However, it did beat heading back up to Rosewood, then around the forest to Giry, and then finally the voyage south. All in all, one would lose close to a week when compared to traversing the forest. Though, to avoid danger, most would make the time. It seems the only people willing to attempt the forest are Merchants, Adventurers, or the incredibly stupid, which the formers could also fall into the latter.
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"Ah, you finally awake, friend?" Bran turned to see a middle-aged man standing to his side, a large wagon trailing behind him. Bran recognized him as one of the guides leading the group through the forest, Gerard, if Bran remembered correctly. Bran stood up and tied his sword to the left side of his hip. "Are preparations complete? I would like to leave as soon as possible," Bran said to Gerard, his deep, gravelly voice slightly muffled underneath his helm. Gerard picked up the crate Bran had been sitting on and carried it to the back of the wagon, tossing it in with little care for the contents. "Just a short while longer. If you're that impatient, you could always try making the voyage yourself. Though, I wouldn't recommend it. Dead Root can be a maze if one doesn't know where they are going." Gerard smirked and continued packing his wagon, the horse letting out a small grunt every time another container or item was placed in it. Bran walked away from Gerard, choosing to longer engage the man in a discussion with little to no value. Bran did not fear the horrors of the forest, but he did know that he couldn't find his way through it without someone who already knew the way.

It was only a few minutes later that Gerard yelled for everyone to join him at the edge of the forest, a small dirt path visible behind him. To his right stood the other guide, a much younger man by the name of Hamlin. The two seemed to share a Master and Apprentice type of relationship, giving off an aura of them against everyone else. As long as they led them to the other side, Bran didn't care what these two did or how they conducted their business. Gerard looked to the right of the group, and slowly shifted his eyes to the left. "As was discussed with each of you when you entered camp, you have payed half your debt to us, with the other half being paid once we make it to the other side of the forest. Many possessions you lose while inside the forest will stay lost lest you risk yourself for it. We are here to guide you, not protect you. Now, with that we will be off. Hamlin?" Hamlin nodded and began walking into the forest, he turned his head to the group and said, "Stay behind me. Gerard will take up the rear." With that they were off. Until this point, Bran had paid little attention to those around him, having spent most of his time at camp sleeping on that crate. Even with the sleep he had just received, it still felt as though he hadn't closed his eyes in months. But, it was worth it as he was catching up to his goal, The March.

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Character Portrait: Lucia Eskerva
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It had been so long since she had left the manor, crossing many roads and many mountains to reach this spot, and a measly forest would not stand in her way. And yet her journey was still far from over, but for Lucia - she had all the patience in the world. Even the names were unfamiliar to her, just as she was unfamiliar to others. She had not spoken to a single living entity since the raid night eighteen years ago and she had no reason for such a formality, or in some cases, informality. In most situations, her blade was sufficient to start and end any conversation she had so desired, although she would only draw in circumstances where her progress was impeded. Intervention in an event on her part was an unfathomable thought to her and this was something she made quite clear traveling along the cruder and lower districts of cities where both peace and money were scarce.

The Voice had led her here. The shoddy forward encampment was situated at the border of the forest, a small expedition group preparing to depart. The where and why had all but escaped her. She did not care where she was going as long as she reached her destination and satisfied the lingering feeling in the back of her mind. Lucia walked casually with her eyes forward, hands at her sides as she approached the edge. The forest before her emitted a low, disquieting sensation that felt heavy in the air around her, but this was hardly a cause for concern. Time was no obstacle. She could take however long she decided, and as this was its choice, she had no reason to oppose it. It would lead her there without fail, though failure wouldn't be such a terrible thing either.
She walked around the group as what appeared to be the leader was making sure everyone was getting ready, planning on simply walking ahead of them while they were still preparing.

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Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth
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In the shade of a young oak tree just shy of the edge of the Dead Root Forest rested a heavily armored figure draped in white cloth, leaning against the rough bark of the small tree. Upon a glance at this imposing figure one would think to themselves, 'how does a man keep his clothing so immaculately clean while on the road?' and indeed this man's cloak and mantle were a picture of purity. The answer to this question comes from this particular man's disposition, no matter how stubborn the stain Paladin Initiate Ceulan Anth could overcome it with his own pig-headed, indomitable will. Though he rested Ceulan was not inactive, with his visor flipped up he scribbled away in a small journal he kept, accounting the details of his journey including the expenses and distances traveled for later review.

At the sound of yelling Ceulan's head snapped up and he closed his journal, tucked it away inside his cloak and placed the piece of graphite he was using to make his etchings in roll of cloth to avoid marking his cloak. He had noticed the group was assembling at the edge of the forest edge in preparation to depart. Ceulan pulled on his gauntlet, buckled his sword belt and lurched to his feet to join them. He grabbed his ready pack from a low hanging branch as he stepped away from the tree and joined the group. One of the guides, Gerard, was denying any responsibility for the loss of any goods in the forest to be clear on this rule before entering the forest, this was fine by Ceulan who had few possessions of worth to lose. With that they set off, with the guide Hamlin at the front of the procession and Gerard at the back, Ceulan fell in line behind one of the merchants' wagons impatient for this leg of his quest to be over with.

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Character Portrait: Tira Tanae
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She was getting close. She could smell it. Of course, there was also the strong damp scent of the forest, but otherwise Tira could practically feel the subtlest hint of magic in the air. She knew it had to be her goal. South, to the lost city of Nyr and all it's secrets.

And thus here she was amidst a ragged caravan of all manner of people. Tira paid them little attention as she flipped through one of the tomes she had borrowed from Dragonstone upon her departure, carefully rereading for any other hints on Nyr's location. None of her research over the years at the school had found a definite spot, only a handful of passing mentions. But that was enough for Tira to piece together a broad region where Nyr was likely hidden and that was enough for Tira to set out.

She glanced up as she heard one of the guides speak. She continued to give him nor the other travelers little though. Tira was quite sure in her ability to manage for herself, but the local guides would be useful until she learned the lay of the land for herself. She had already paid the guide his fee, he asked no questions of her, nor she of him. Simple and forthright, as Tira preferred. She briefly mused why more humans couldn't be like that, she tired quickly of the inane questions she often received during her travels.

Standing up, Tira carefully placed the tome bag in her bag and picked up her staff from the ground. She slid behind a few other travelers, glancing around as the caravan began it's procession. She couldn't help but smirk ever so slightly to herself. Just a short while longer, Tira assured herself, ever confident of her destination.

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Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth
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As they walked along a narrow trail through the dense trees Ceulan studied the other travelers, trying to judge the purpose behind their venture through a forsaken place such as this. The merchants were the easiest to explain, men who wished to transport their wares to Amore by the most direct route possible as opposed to circling round for miles to take a safer path, but not all the travelers had a mule-drawn wagon rattling over the gnarly roots that breached the surface of the trail at their side. It was these other travelers whom he studied, the presence of two women in the group struck him as peculiar. One of them was a tough looking woman with brown hair tumbling down between her shoulder blades, she wore light armor with a long, slender sword hanging at her side, so he assumed she must be a warrior of some kind, but the other woman seemed under-armed in comparison to the rest of the group, wearing only simple traveling clothes when even the merchants had a few pieces of dented armor between them, along with this she only carried a dagger and a wooden staff, but the attentiveness in her gaze suggested that she wouldn't be likely to be taken off guard. The other traveler who had caught Ceulan's gaze was the tallest in the party, an imposing figure dressed in heavy, battle-scared armor that bizarrely only protected the top half of his body while his lower half was completely devoid of visible protection, a strange way to armor oneself even if they were hoping to increase their mobility. Interested, he closed the distance and called out to the man, "Greetings stranger, I'm afraid we've not had the chance to speak while preparing to set off, I am Ceulan Anth, paladin initiate hailing from Astras. Pleased to meet you."

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Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth Character Portrait: Bran Folsin
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The sun was high in the sky, signaling that midday was upon them. They had only walked for a few hours by this point, though they were making good time. Even with guides, a straight shot through the forest was near impossible, as growth and age seemed to bury a trail every few years. It was up to ones like Gerard and Hamlin to constantly survey and navigate the forest to ensure viable routes were still open. A dangerous job, for sure, but as previously stated, the gold from each group would be enough to let them retire in a few years. South of the forest lied Grazi, the third largest port in Amore. While a hub for trade and commerce with southern sailors, it was still not large enough to compete with cities like Mordran and Fryr. However, with recent tensions, trade has been struggling in the north, and as such more and more Merchants are making their way south to Grazi. While this has certainly helped Gerard and Hamlin, there is an unnerving feeling in the air that the near constant treks through the forest have caught the attention of some of its more dangerous inhabitants.

Bran yawned heavily, his helmet muffling the sound from traveling much further than his immediate area. This wasn't the first time he had entered the forest, nor will it likely be the last. Many Laochra believe that all monsters within Amore originate from this area, and that the place helps nurture and strengthen them in exchange for protection from would be invaders. While most likely a only tale told around campfires, Bran can't deny the eerie effect the place seems to have on ones such as himself. The last time he entered Dark Root was with a small group of Giry soldiers, hunting a criminal that had escaped their dungeon. Just as that time, Bran feels his breaths heavy, and his body slow. It did not seem to affect the soldiers that time, nor does it seem to affect those he travels with now.

"Greetings stranger, I'm afraid we've not had the chance to speak while preparing to set off, I am Ceulan Anth, paladin initiate hailing from Astras. Pleased to meet you."

Bran turned is head to the man, surprised to see he stood at nearly eye level with him. Bran cleared his throat, the heavy breathing having dried it out. "Likewise. I am Bran,... an adventurer from Fryr." Bran decided to hide his identity. Despite being around for a few hundred years, many still viewed the Laochra as an experiment gone wrong. Since this Ceulan fellow was a member of the Covenant, those who are often tasked with hunting down the witches that created Bran and others, he felt it was best to not be so forth coming. Luckily, his helm and armor hid any noticeable feature that would identify him as a Laochra. "Paladin Initiate? You must be on a pilgrimage then?" Bran decided a bit of conversation could help the time pass by quicker. It wouldn't be until this time tomorrow before they found their way out of Dark Root.

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Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth Character Portrait: Bran Folsin
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"Paladin Initiate? You must be on a pilgrimage then?"

Ceulan nodded his head, "Indeed, I must travel south to the Temple Of Qurn, there I will complete my trial and become a full member of the covenant. Surely there must be a catch, as so far my quest has been fairly pleasant, only a few minor complications arising from my... Ah... Inexperience with the ways of the world..."
He shifted his eyes and felt a little flush creeping up his neck at the thought of the embarrassment he had brought upon himself earlier in his quest, his mostly secluded life had not prepared him for the outside world, not at all. Ceulan walked a few more steps along the overgrown trail in awkward reminiscence of his past ordeals before he cleared his throat and returned his attention to the man beside him, "Irregardless, that is all behind me now, and I am well on my way to understanding... people, but I wish to ask you if I may, what is the purpose behind your peculiar armor arrangement? I do not mean to offend, but in my experience a man in top-heavy armor is just a strong push away from an unpleasant time."

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Character Portrait: Tira Tanae Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth Character Portrait: Bran Folsin Character Portrait: Lucia Eskerva
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"I do not mean to offend, but in my experience a man in top-heavy armor is just a strong push away from an unpleasant time."

Bran looked down, gazing at his scuffed black trousers and leather boots while the green tail of his surcoat fluttered behind him. "I spend quite a lot of time on my feet, never been one for horses or wagons. Boots and greaves wouuld just end up slowing me down. Truthfully, my boots and greaves were... stole some time ago. This armor has been with me through everything. To replace it wouldn't feel natural. I suppose that doesn't make much sense, but my armor was stolen nearly a decade ago, so I've learned to adapt." Bran chuckled to himself, realizing that he had given up the chase for his lost items some time ago. "It doesn't weigh me down as much as one would think it would." Bran looked back up, staring off into the great forest with tired eyes. "So, Paladin Initiate? Hows the Covenant holding up nowadays? I heard there was some trouble in Jastor..." Bran continued idly chatting with Ceulan.

(The sun has fallen over Amore)

Despite the sun just disappearing over the horizon to most, the forest had been blocking most of the light for nearly an hour already. The Dark Moon was high in the sky, signaling there would be little light tonight, only the stars to keep travelers company. Hamlin had stopped the company at a small, open area within the wood, likely the same one the two use with nearly every guide. Camp was made, though there was little to it, just a fire in the direct center with what little wagons there were shaped into a circle around the camp. The Merchants all had rolls to sleep on, chatting amongst themselves about what awaited them in Grazi, and sharing food between each other. Gerard and Hamlin made the fire for the travelers to cook any provisions, but would not supply any of their own to others, leaving the rest to fend for themselves. Bran had expected as much, but decided to save what little rations he had. In a profession such as his, one must learn to survive and fight for days with anything to eat. While he would prefer not to starve, he weighed it against the long trek that awaited him once he left the forest. Hamlin clapped his hands together, getting the attention of the group. "Alright everyone, get what rest you can. We leave at the Suns first light tomorrow." Bran sat on a nearby rock, using his sword to prop him up as he tilted his down to rest. He could feel the eyes of the forests creatures watching them. Truth be told, they were completely surrounded. However, acknowledging this fact would probably only scare the weaker travelers and cause the monsters to strike. For now he decided to go over his plan in his head one more time until he dozed off. With any luck, he would be alive tomorrow to carry on.

Setting

6 Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Dredd, Demon of The Dead Root Character Portrait: Tira Tanae Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth Character Portrait: Bran Folsin Character Portrait: Lucia Eskerva
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#, as written by Shaodow
" finally! A break "
the exhausted traveling merchant exclaimed as he shrugged off the loaded backpack and led it drop to the ground. He was fairly young, around 17 with short, tousled brown hair and dark eye; a lean build and adequately toned arms, legs and abs made it much easier to tote heavy loads such long distances, but with the size of the back bag almost mirroring his 6 foot even frame, it was easy to see why even a built young man like him was exhausted. He was not original meant to tag along with them but his mother insisted it was far too dangerous for him to travel alone through the Dead Wood and he just so happen to come across a Caravan with experienced swordsmen who just so happened to be setting out on a path through the Dark Wood to Grazi. He'd recently acquired some goods and trinkets that would fetch him a rewarding bit of coin there.

The young merchant laughed uncontrollably at a joke an older, more experienced merchant blessed them with; It involved a friend of his's mother and mating horses. Quite the laugh. " stop- enough-no more! I yield! " he begged between gasping breaths, his gut ached from the excess laughter and his bladder was teetering on the edges of explosive release. It was time for some privacy.

He stood up among the seated merchants " excuse me gents, I've gotta go drain the old dragon before I am made to wet myself " he said as he sauntered off through the clearing and into the thick of the forest, clutching his abdomen all the way as if to hold his bladder with the strength of his arms until he found a place secluded enough for sweet relief. After walking for roughly seven minutes after reaching the trees he checked behind himself to see if he was far enough away to be invisible to the group. Urinating in the company of others was his greatest weakness as it would stop all urine flow cold as if it were a tap, dried up useless. Oddly enough he couldn't see through the trees at all, even though the sun had set, with the lantern he'd brought with him he expected to be at least able to see them off in the distance. It had only been seven minutes into the forest after all. With a shrug he came to stop in front of the nearest tree, pulled down his trousers and let the liquid gold flow; He'd deduced that the trees were simply much to thick with leaves to see threw even at this distance. After that he gave no other thought to the anomaly because to him the ghost stories told about the Dead Wood was just to keep younglings from wondering out alone, and nothing more.

No more than forty-five seconds in he heard a rustling noise behind him that he assumed was one of his fellow merchants come to play a prank of sorts, still it stopped his steady stream cold and he jumped around to face the menace, trousers at his ankles and genitals in full view shouting " I'm armed, don't come any closer or you'll feel my wrath! " but there was no one in sight. He lifted his lantern outward for a better look and sure enough he was alone in the forest, however he could of sworn he could see a face on the trunk of one of the trees. "hmm...odd " he muttered as he turned again to continue the liberation of his full bladder, but just as he could feel the flood gates preparing to burst open and agonizing pain accompanied by a warm fluid struck his stomach. His head fell down to discover the culprit and he found himself impaled through the abdomen with the rusted remains of a broken longsword. He hadn't even the strength to turn and face his assailant before the world went dark and he dropped to his knees.

The young merchant jolted to consciousnesses with a sharp intake of breath before he began waling. He was subdued by the group of merchants formerly chattering about just a few feet from his bed roll; they told him he was only experiencing nightmares probably because of the evils of the forest, but it was much too vivid and even though there was no wound to prove they were wrong, every cell in his body told him what he saw was no mere dream.

" Don't let anyone piss alone out there, it's not safe " he demanded of the surrounding merchants, but they were no longer paying him any attention, they were focused on something behind him and he could tell by their horrified expressions that it was too late. He turned to see one of the larger man carrying the lifeless body of a white bearded man.

" H-he's dead " one of the merchants stammered. But he already knew that. At that moment the young merchant became aware of two things: He'd been cursed with a vision of the jolly old merchants death, probably moments before it happened. And that whatever the horrible face he thought he hallucinated out there was responsible.

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Ceulan had been in the company of Bran, absentmindedly adding to his journal while chatting with him, when the merchants dragged the body into camp. One of the younger merchants was making a commotion seemingly unrelated to current events. Ceulan lept to his feet, sloppily clearing away his things as he strode over to the corpse.
"Put him down," Ceulan snapped at the man carrying him, cutting off any chance for protest with a hard stare, then continued in as commanding a tone as he could manage, "Where're the guides? Gerard? Hamlin? Someone take a damned headcount!"

The merchant who had found the body lay the wizened cadaver down near the fire. Studying the corpse Ceulan found the entry hole in the clothing of the old merchant was ragged, suggesting whatever he had been run through with had not been a stabbing weapon, his face showed only the vaguest look of befuddlement as if he hadn't even had time to react to his untimely demise. From this Ceulan figured that the man had been take off guard, a sneak attack with a blunt-tipped weapon thrust with incredible strength, and died instantly most likely from the shock. Ceulan scowled at what this meant and called out, "Everyone, on your guard! Did anyone see what happened?!"

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Character Portrait: Tira Tanae Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth
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Tira had continued to keep to herself as the caravan progressed. The idle chatter of the merchants was of no interest to her, so she focused on the weaving path the guides led them on through the forest. When she returned north with all the magical treasure she could carry, Tira had no intention of letting some human forest dweller spy upon her newfound secrets. Fortunately, the day's journey was uneventful.

As they made camp, Tira made her perch by one of the wagons, curling up with her tome once again. She glanced around the camp's surroundings, the murky darkness of the forest giving her the slightest bit of concern. But Tira shrugged it off, confident that the two burly men in armor would handle any hungry wolves.

And then the scream happened a short while after that thought. Tira looked up, quickly stuffing her tome back in her pack and grabbing her staff. She weaved through the small crowd that was forming around the corpse until she was behind the bulky paladin and peering around him at the corpse. "Well, oh dear." She murmured. "I do believe he's dead." Tira stated dryly as she peered out into the thicket of trees. Unfortunately whatever was out there was not a wolf. "I would suggest more fires and a watch for the night. Obviously there is something quite dangerous lurking in the night"

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Gerard yawned to himself, looking toward the night sky while Hamlin slowly dozed off on the ground not to far from him. The sounds of shouting behind them stirred Hamlin awake and brought Gerard back to the real world. The joined the gathering, looking at the body with unshaken eyes as if they were expecting such a thing to happen. The Paladin seemed to be taking charge, trying to form a cohesion amongst the group. Gerard sighed heavily, ignoring the bodies wounds. Gerard clapped his hands together to get everyone's attention. He said in a certain, stern voice, "Everyone calm down! What part of, 'stray from the group at your own peril' did any of you not understand? Going off into the forest at night by himself... this was to be expected. There is no reason to panic. So long as we stay at camp and don't venture off, you all should remain safe." Gerard turned away from the group, adding a few logs to the fire to brighten the blaze. Hamlin looked at the merchants with sorrowful eyes and said, "What you do with the body is up to you. It is not our responsibility, nor anyone else' for that matter. However, we leave at the same time tomorrow." Hamlin looked out into the woods, the feeling of half a dozen glares came over him. "And, for Atlus' sake, try to stay in groups from now on." Hamlin walked over to Gerard, signaling that they were done with the ordeal. It was hard to argue with them, as most there knew that Dead Root was not a place to venture into alone, let alone at night.

Bran walked over to the body after Gerard and Hamlin had spoken, choosing instead to spend that time peering deep into the forest. He took a knee next to the body, inspecting it thoroughly before jumping to any conclusions. The body had been stabbed, though it was not a wound most monsters would make. It was almost human in nature, with little to no tearing or signs of having been mauled. Bran ran his hand along the mans trousers, lifting his index finger up to his nose and sniffing the odor. After nodding to himself, Bran stood up and without turning from the body said, "You, boy. You said no one should leave the camp to piss. Why?" He turned to the young merchant, unintentionally menacing in his presence.

(Since Shaodow created the current predicament, I am leaving in his hands how the young merchant will respond to any questioning)

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Character Portrait: Tira Tanae Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth Character Portrait: Bran Folsin
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#, as written by Shaodow
The young merchant had been staring down at his own lap through all the commotion, he barely took notice of the paladin initiate's attempts to take the reigns and seize control of the situation. It was not until the Laorcha, Bran, addressed him "You, boy. You said no one should leave the camp to piss. Why?" menacing in his size made even more imposing by the plated armor and fur cape, he felt obligated to finally speak up about what he saw, as if there would be hell to pay if he didn't.

" I-I seen it all happen " he said through clenched teeth as he watched his hands tremor uncontrollably. The young merchant clenched his fist, took a deep breath to gather himself before looking up into the eyes of the warrior " No, that aint quite right...I didn't just see it happen, it was like " the words caught in his throat, as if speaking of it would bring the images back to his mind. " I was there, I was him! I can almost still feel the blade in my gut "

The young merchant stood up on shaky legs and peered out into dark forest just as Bran had done " I...HE saw..something out there, a face in threes. You know when you the knots in a tree look a lot like faces? Well that's what he thought he saw before he was..." He couldn't say the words. " Look, I don't know what but something is out there and it 'aint human and it aint an animal neither. You know better than anyone that wound doesn't come from an animal. No man alive could survive out there long enough to do this, and there aint too many monsters with a knight's weapon. " He clutched the goddess charm that hung from his neck all the while he spoke. As a was a merchant that dealt more weapons than anything else he could tell it was a broadsword just by the look of the broken blade as it pierced his abdomen.

With that in mind he he knelt down and retrieved one of the short swords, as well as a sheath from his inventory. He placed the sheath properly around his waste so that he could draw and sheath from the left side of his body as he was right handed, he at least knew that much. However any experienced swordsmen could tell just by the way he held the blade that he hadn't the knowledge to defend himself properly with it.

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Bran rolled his eyes, though it wasn't visible underneath his helm. The young man was the type of person he couldn't deal with. A seller of wars tools, but with no idea of the ramifications each tool carries. Bran walked over to the fire, peering into the flames as if entering a period of deep thought. He mumbled to himself, "Let the roots take me, for it is their curse I seek." The cursed trees of Dead Root, could the legends be real? Most not venture deep enough to find out, but there is always a possibility. But, that didn't explain the stab wound. Bran's eyes widened as he came to the realization of what likely took place. He could not be sure, as he had only run into a similar situation a few times before. Bran turned back to the group, not planning to take charge mind you, but instead simply insure the survival of a few, until they reached the south.

Taking Ceulan's advice to an extent, Bran looked around the camp, thinking back to earlier. When they left the first camp outside the forest, there was someone who went ahead of the rest. He could not remember what the person looked like, as it was just a faint glance as they entered the Dead Root. Bran turned to Ceulan and said calmly, "Ceulan, we must discuss what to do about this situation, mostly tomorrow's journey and guard time for tonight." He motioned for Ceulan to follow him over to the young woman who had been keeping to herself throughout most of the day. He spoke to her to where only they could hear the conversation, "If I'm not mistaken, you are a mage, yes?" The question was rhetorical, as it was obvious by her staff that it was true. Once Ceulan joined the group, Bran continued. "We are dealing with something beyond the skill of this group, at least those outside of this small collection. Between your spells and our might, I believe we can leave this camp tonight and be outside of the forest before sunrise. However, in doing so we would be leaving them in the hands of the Gods." Bran slightly motioned to the others, the group of merchants and the guides. "They would provide the perfect decoy to escape this place. Opinions?" Bran knew Ceulan would likely have reservations, but he was uncertain about the mage. If this was any other time, Bran would spend weeks if need be tracking this thing down and plunging his sword into it. However, time was the one thing he didn't have. The March still continued south, and with it something very important to him. The others were just slowing him down, but with Dead root having a negative effect on his physical strength, getting through the forest on his own would be a tricky venture.

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Character Portrait: Tira Tanae Character Portrait: Ceulan Anth Character Portrait: Bran Folsin
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Tira shook her head as she listened to the merchant babble with fear. The poor fools never saw the dangers of the road until it was far too late. I wonder if he's foolish enough to think that sword has as much chance of saving him as a god's trinket. She then looked to the armored stranger as he spoke, raising an eyebrow at his callous offer. "I am a mage, yes. And as much as I would prefer not to have these fools draw the attention of whatever manner of creatures dwells within the woods, perhaps you should consider why we are a part of this group in the first place."

She gestured to the guides. "I would not have parted with my coin if I thought myself capable of navigating the woods." Tira then looked to the paladin, waiting for his moral stance of saving every fool in sight. "Among other objections, I would presume."