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Ruyn Chronicles: The Winds of Fate

Ruyn Chronicles: The Winds of Fate

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After nearly three thousand years, a crumbling empire faces devastation when it uncovers an ancient secret that may very well alter the course of the world itself.

2,354 readers have visited Ruyn Chronicles: The Winds of Fate since Sylwyn created it.

Red Soldier, and Gamer_Templar are listed as curators, giving them final say over any conflict & the ability to clean up mistakes.

Introduction

Book One: Elegy

The barrier between the Azadar (overworld) and the Maidar (underworld) has weakened, and somewhere, deep in the heart of Ruyn, lies a mystery to Man and Elf alike, and a force much darker than that which spreads like a plague throughout the land. You have come, whether directed by Fate, or merely selected to aid in this quest, and the choices you make will affect the world for ages to come.

Toggle Rules

1. Your hand-selected GMs are in charge (and you are not) for very good reason.
They are: Gamer_Templar, Red Soldier and Sylwyn.

2. Communicate (We can't help you if you don't speak up!).

3. Be creative, and remember: quality over quantity. God-modding... don't go there.
You are writers and roleplayers, not holiday shoppers attempting to grab everything before anyone else can.

4. Post regularly (as in: don't suddenly drop off the map because you didn't read the fine print).

5. PLEASE check and use locations and character tags before posting. They are also there for a reason.

6. Pay attention. It costs nothing but an extra minute to proofread or check OOC.
We won't flay you alive over every detail, just lack of common sense.

7. If anyone becomes a hindrance to the story in any way (such as not posting for a length of time),
GMs reserve the right to progress the story however they see fit.

8. GMs have final say over story fundamentals and disputes.

Anyone wishing to take on one of the six remaining Avani as a character must PM me personally (Anael (Order) and Kudokuten (Love) are currently already in use, and the next available one, which will yet be upcoming in book 2, is Ar'iel (Chaos)).

Browse All » 5 Settings to roleplay in

Ruyn

Ruyn by Sylwyn

None

Old Forest Road

Old Forest Road by RolePlayGateway

The north road.

Eytherghymn

Eytherghymn by RolePlayGateway

It is a forest.

Imperial City

Imperial City by RolePlayGateway

Home to many citizens,

Blood Fang Caves

Blood Fang Caves by Sylwyn

The only good orc is dead one.

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 4 authors

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anael Character Portrait: Fade
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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#, as written by Sylwyn
Book One: Elegy


Prologue


"Mystery has its own mystery, there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs, and that is what is known as infinity."

City of Ther
Castle Throne Room
Year 3455, Ruyn Calendar


“Eight, the perfect number,” Naonna’s voice, clear as droplets of rainwater into a shallow pool, resounded in the Great Hall, “A symbol of infinite wisdom, boundless as the stars, for that is why we chose the Avani. But, did we truly think their power alone could harness the fate of an entire world?”

Laonna, staring out one of the arched windows overlooking the city in the clouds below, deliberated before slowly shifting her scarlet gaze to the woman seated on the throne.

“It has been almost ten thousand years since Anael quelled the Rebellion and cast out Kudokuten. The Sleepers, even Drakrelib and his own, dwell deep beneath the surface, and the Dreamwalkers are all but forgotten by the most devout of mortal scholars. One, let alone eight, cannot alter the course of fate.”

“As we speak, Kudokuten already moves, silent as the shadows, spreading her dark influence to all she touches. Surely, the others will not stand for-“

“The others won’t stand for anything,” Laonna interrupted. “You know our sister would never leave the Eytherghymn. Azavar has the countryside, Alavara, the sea.” Lifting sharp white brows, she cast a hand toward the window. “The world will end while they are content to turn the other cheek. Why wait? Do you think the rest will be as forgiving when they learn of the ensuing chaos? Granted, no one knew Ruyn’s energy would be so intricately interwoven with the threads that bind the realms together, but we did what we came to do. It is better to sever ties while we can still count our losses.”

“I would hardly debit mortal lives as a trivial loss,” Naonna uttered the last word with such force, her younger sibling drew back, lips forming astonishment in the shape of an ‘O’. “What of the humans, and your husband?”

“Nimae? Bah!” Laonna gestured heatedly with one hand. “He sits under the My'Bael mountains, getting fat off his charges. He cares not for the affairs of men, and humans are but a pestilence we've allowed to run amok far too long. I regret the day we dragged those slovenly, drooling knuckle-draggers from their homeworld.”

“You would not be so quick to judge, if you saw them as I-”

Both women looked up at the sound of the throne room’s massive steel door sliding into the marble floor.

“Your Grace,” Anael folded ebony wings, his dark hair falling in front of his face as he swept into a low bow at Naonna’s feet.

The two women exchanged knowing looks.

“Rise,” Naonna commanded, lifting a hand to bid him stand before her. “Has the barrier been breached?” she asked, her tone resonating like the strings of a harp.

“No, not yet, my lady,” he replied, “but it has weakened, and Kudokuten’s power grows steadily. She now seeks to gain access to the Vaults and kill the Sleepers before they can be awakened.”

“What of the Guardians?”

“They may only delay the inevitable.”

“Anael, the Dawn is on final approach,” Naonna interjected calmly. “The Ka’ua have been amassing their army and preparing to send an emissary to the surface to investigate the barrier thinning. You know that barrier has separated and protected our realms for eons. If Kudokuten is allowed to destroy it-”

“Forgive me, my lady,” he cut in, shielding his gaze, glancing up only once to see her give the slightest of nods. “Even if we reach the Sleepers before she does, without our forces at full strength, the battle will be lost before it is begun.”

The High Elven stood, considering his words in a moment of silence before answering, “Do not despair, for a hope yet remains.”

“Excellency, do you mean…?”

“You know of whom I speak. Now, go, and see you do not fail.”

“Your Grace,” Anael bowed once more and turned, the trailing edges of his wing feathers gliding along the floor as he exited the throne room.

“Do you not wonder,” Laonna said aloud, when they were alone again, “that there might be something else out there, watching, in all its perfection, amusing itself with our fruitless attempts at playing a role for which we were not meant?”

Naonna swung her gaze away from the window, bearing contemplatively upon her blue-skinned sister. “A vain thought, well-versed, but vain, nonetheless. You know as well as I, even gods are not perfect."

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Excerpt from: A Strange Journal, translated

7th Gysse Aril
3455, Ruyn Calendar


For moments, only moments, the world seemed to quiver beneath me, as though a lover's fingertips swept the treetops. A mild breeze stirred the stray hairs around my face, and sent dewy beads of sweat trickling down my cheeks. I blinked perspiration from my lashes and shaded my eyes. Snow-capped western peaks contoured a celadon-streaked lavender sky. High above the mountains, the goldenrod wings of a griffon glinted like precious metal in the amber sun, Sha. The creature circled the tallest mountain, blocking the hazy light of Fis, Sha's distant blue companion, and dove below the tree line, the tip of its tail licking the sky like a flame.

Hot air shimmered above the worn, dusty road, blurring my view of the trees. Inhaling the bittersweet aroma of aged pine, I detected a sickly sweet, sulfurous odor tinged with a faint, coppery scent I started to cringe, but the buzzing of tiny wings diverted my attention. I glanced across the road at a sapphire blowfly zipping between the trees. The insect landed on my forehead and crawled around my temple, tickling the tip of a pointed ear with its hairy legs. I waved my hand to shoo it, and a drop of liquid plopped onto the ground. I peered down at the steel dagger still clenched in my palm. Crimson vitae interlaced with poison, black as a bruise dripped from the blade onto the gritty dust.

Blood. Nightshade.

I scratched my ear, and the carrion-eater flew away in search of another meal. How long had I been here? Minutes? Hours? Loathing to acknowledge reality, I let my gaze inch forward.

My shadow slithered, like an incorporeal serpent, across the ground as I knelt, reluctant to inspect the lifeless body. The Dark Elf's periwinkle skin, deathly pale against her scarlet brocade, had not yet begun to deteriorate, but the faint smell of decay signaled an early onset in the summer heat. My heart skipped a beat. She had... wanted to die. I tried to convince myself I had ended her suffering, but my hands would not stop shaking. I held tighter to the dagger, pushed back her snow-white hair and stroked the fair cheek of her lineless face. I ran my fingers across her long lashes, shutting gray, unseeing eyes. My kindred, confidante. My sweet sister, what feeling yet ravages me?

I wiped the blade on my breeches and slipped it into its shagreen scabbard. I had to move on. The shadowy wilderness deterred even the guards after dark.

I sifted through the meager provisions in my satchel: a pouch of herbs, drawing salve, a bit of bread and a few possessions. I swallowed the last drops of water from my canteen and emptied my coin purse. Two silvers, some coppers, a handful of gold: not enough for a room at the cheapest city tavern. A bedroll outside the waterfront shantytown would have sufficed; however, I did not intend to return to the walls of the place I called home.
Forgive me. I pressed my lips to the dark elf’s forehead, steeling myself for the inevitable desecration, but shut my eyes and fished through her pockets to retrieve the precious coins. I had looted the bodies of my foes before, but this felt... wrong.

Shouldering my satchel, I set off on the winding dirt road. With no map, I could still track the eastbound sun. Nary a passerby strayed this far north, and I trekked alone for miles, ignorant of the dampness at my neck and the mosquitoes biting my arms for want of ichor. By the time Sha touched the eastern mountains, I was delirious. My body trembled with fever, and I barely remembered to wrap my cloak about me to repel the chill.

Twilight birthed Dho, a luminous silver globe, to the east, with Am and Kan, her counterparts as waxing crescents at either side. The first twinkling stars peeked out at dusk, and crickets began a symphony, furiously rubbing their tiny legs together in the warm air. Above their trilling, I heard the creaks and groans of elder pines as sleepy forest dryads materialized and stepped leisurely from their trunks. Their obscure, bell-like laughter often led inattentive travelers to their doom, but the colorful glowing orbs of flittering woodland sprites marked the end of the roadside, and I managed to steer clear of the woods well into nightfall.

I heard the feathery wing beats of the beady-eyed Namatai overhead as it sought and snapped up dormice in its toothy beak, the black-muzzled Liura howling to their pack mates, and I imagined the Liuras' ear-tendrils and bushy tails fluttering, muscles rippling as they gave chase to prey near the foothills. Aimless but for the sinuous road, I kept moving, until at last, I staggered and collapsed into a heap. Blackness tinged my vision. I blinked, trying to ward unconsciousness, but I must have drifted off, for the sound of a man's voice roused me.

My eyes fluttered open to the flickering red-orange glow of torchlight illuminating a massive, shapeless form. As my vision cleared, I could just make out the shape of a large hoof. I jerked back, startled, and followed my gaze upward along an equine hindquarter to a figure seated atop the mahogany beast. The man extended a muscular arm to offer his hand. In his other, he held a torch over the horse's head. I curled my fingers around his tattered leather gauntlet and allowed him to pull me to my feet.

“Do you need help?” he asked with a note of concern in his voice.

I pushed back my cowl and steadied myself with one hand on the saddle. In the light, I recognized his chain mail greaves and dark green tunic. An Imperial Ranger.

He furrowed his brows upon seeing my face. “Are you... all right?” he inquired, then added, mordantly, “You're a little far from home, aren’t you?”

I felt my face flush with embarrassment, suddenly feeling unclean and out of place. I clutched at the horse's stiff hair, fearing the man would find the taint of death upon my fingers..

But my words sounded unintelligible, even to me. “I'm not... I don’t… on my way to... just looking for... a night's lodging.”

He motioned to his saddle. “There is an inn not far up the road...”

“No,” I abruptly cut him off, and then remembered my manners, though his pity was unwarranted. “Thank you. I-I'm sure I can find the way.” I lowered my head, drawing my hood up around my face.

He sighed, taking up the reins, and clicked his tongue, to which the beast retorted with a disdainful snort and clopped forward.

As I turned, the ranger glanced over his shoulder, tugging back on the bridle. “I advise you to stay on the road,” he cautioned. “These woods are dangerous, even for your kind.”

I watched until the light of his torch vanished around a bend. Any respect I might have indulged him dissolved with his parting words. Your kind. The words etched into my mind.

When at last I climbed the slatted plywood stairs, I leaned against an uneven granite wall to rest and pressed my cheek to the weather-worn door. The fragrant scent of damp cedar found me reminiscent of ancient trees shrouded in silvery mist, but smelling rotted wood and mildew, I pulled away, scrunching my nose in revulsion. Depressing the wrought iron latch, I glimpsed a carved sign hanging above the archway: Accursed Inn.

The heavy door swung inward, creaking shut on iron hinges, and I immediately spotted the innkeeper slouched on a stool behind the counter, his nose buried in a book. I stood, satchel in hand, shifting my weight from one foot to the other until the old man scratched his graying hair and regarded me with heavy-lidded eyes.

“Whaddya want?” he demanded gruffly.

A dank fetor hung in the air, clinging to the dry-rotted wood, and the stale mell of spilled mead wafted up from the floor. I supposed the establishment might have once been a tavern. I removed my hood and crossed the short distance between us, noting a fine coating of dust on the tables and chairs in the far corner and cobwebs dangling from the ceiling, a massive silver labrys hung horizontally above the rear entrance to the kitchen, glimmering in arylide candlelight from a dilapidated brass chandelier suspended from the center of the room.

Maybe coming to such a desolate place had been in poor judgment, but my legs were achy, my heart dolorous. “Just a room for the night.”

The innkeeper swatted the counter with his open tome. “Ten gold, up front.”

He watched with leery eyes as I counted coins onto the counter, and then swiped my gold into a till and gestured toward the left wall. “I got a room downstairs next to my regular. He don't like bothersome folk.”

Glancing at the wall, I hesitated before reaching, and the innkeeper held onto the key a moment longer, fixing me with another distrustful stare.

“Thank you,” I answered, but he had already gone back to his book.

I eyed the left wall, not having noticed a door or stairwell upon entering, but when I turned to question the innkeeper, he seemed disinclined to look up, much less give me the time of day. Did my eyes deceive me, or did he mean to rob me of my coin? My gaze fell, and I spotted an iron handle embedded in the floor. A trapdoor. Too tired to consider the odd placement, I lifted the door and descended a hidden stairwell beneath the inn.

Torches burned low, casting the corridor in a yellow-orange gloom. Three of four shut doors lay to my left. The closest stood partially open, revealing a dark room beyond. To my right, a washroom and a padlocked door marked the end of the hall.

I felt my skin crawl as I crossed the threshold into the cold, vacant room. Feeling along the inside wall for a wooden helve, I grabbed the torch and lit its saturated cloth off one from the corridor and shut the door behind me. An audible click resonated throughout the thin plywood, and I glanced back at the door before surveying my accommodations. A folded rag supported the broken leg of an old nightstand in the corner, and a bed cobbled together with pieces of knotted, unfinished wood and lined with a green wool blanket and sackcloth pillow appeared serviceable.

I could not shake the feeling something unseen observed me. Mayhap guilt had stayed behind to guard the dead and creep upon me as I slept, but sleep had a way of stitching the threads of dreams to weary eyes. Resolving to ensure the security of what little I owned. I tucked my dagger behind my pillow and peeled back the wool blanket.

The torch continued to burn long past a candle mark, but I lay staring at the ceiling as though sleep had plucked the stitches from my eyes. I rummaged through my satchel for the token I had, that, once a gift, would now remind me of that which I had lost. The silver band slipped easily over my ring finger. Studying the onyx insignia, two moonstone serpents wound around a silver pillar, I recalled the last coherent words she had spoken to me almost a week ago.

“Should anything happen to me...”

“No,” I shook my head. “I won't let...”

She pressed the ring into my hand. ”This will grant you safe passage.”

I stared at her, speechless, hesitating to take the ring, but she closed my fingers.

“But, the prince,” I protested.

I searched her eyes for some sign she was bluffing, but she smiled and gently kissed my lips, running her fingers through my disheveled hair. “He only cares for what he can purchase, and all his riches cannot give him me.”


That night, I dreamed tortured souls whispered in my ears as I raced blind through darkness impenetrable save that I knew I must run in one direction lest I slip and fall into an abyss. Mist clung to my skin; my boots pounded the damp soil in time with my throbbing heart. I ran, my lungs bursting, until I realized with growing dread that nothing pursued me. I stopped, and my skin prickled as if claws scraped my neck. Whirling around, I saw the red gleam of feral eyes and fangs. I turned to flee, but the hunter lunged, knocking me to the forest floor. Claws sank into my spine. Spitting out a mouthful of dirt, I drew my dagger and rolled, ripping skin from my back as I tore the fiend off me. I cried out, and raised my weapon to strike out when I came face to face with my assailant. Blood imbrued her midnight lips and snowy locks.

Help me, please, she wailed. You promised. She reached for my throat, and I tried to stay her hand, but she yanked my wrist, and I screamed as the blade plunged into her neck...

A bitter wind awakened me, and as I had dreamed in darkness, so too did I awaken, my heart racing. At first, I thought to have imagined the draft, but the torch's low flame flickered unsteadily. Becoming aware of the warmth of wool and prickly fibers against my bare legs, I pushed away the blanket.

The room had indeed grown cold again, and I started to pull the blanket around me, intending to relight the torch, but something moved in my peripheral… A colorless, almost imperceptible shape, as if on the edge of my nightmare… I searched the darkness, scanning the corner of my room as my eyes adjusted.

There! Movement in the shadows! I snatched the dagger from hiding and leaped up with a start. I leaned over the edge of the bed and glimpsed a glint of light as the torch brightened of its own accord.

I raised my dagger to strike out, but something grabbed my wrist. My fingers loosed their grip, and the blade clattered to the floor. An ethereal blue mist materialized and dissipated into the air, revealing an apparition that was not a ghost at all, but the semblance of a man. The smile beneath the velvet cowl belonged to the face of an angel. Humans referred to them as divine messengers, but my people believe in the eight Avani, ascended beings once belonging once to an entire race of winged elves who dwelt in the mythical sky-city of Ther. Winged, he was not, yet, he enthralled me with his coal-black stare. His gloved hand cupped my chin, and he lifted my face to his.

I felt his warm breath on my cheek as he spoke, his voice fearfully infinite. “For a killer, you sleep rather sound.”

“W-who are you?” I stammered. “What are you doing here?”

He held my gaze for a moment sewn into the fabric of time passing so swift yet deliberate that it was as the world had seen ages past while I lingered fathoms deep in the dark and turbulent sea of his soul. Then, he laughed in a rich, deep vibrato such as could only be expected from a heavenly bearer of music.

“Who am I?” he asked aloud, like a dream fading into the recesses of my mind. “Who I am is irrelevant, but who you are is altogether another animal.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Child, I shed light on the secrets and mysteries of existence itself, bearing hope into the dismal pit of despair; but, there are things of which the mortal mind must come to accept without ever fully understanding.”

And, so began my journey into the light of wisdom, without understanding. Of tenets we are sworn to uphold, there are but three. One: Strive always to preserve the balance of the Empire. Two: Protect the sanctity of our Brotherhood. And, three: Never accept an outside contract in conflict with the first two tenets. We are not always called upon to take a life, we do what must be done, what we have always done for over two and a half thousand years since the empire first staggered like a newborn fawn to shaky footing. We are not murderers or mere assassins; we are children of the light. We are the Tyrnea Drenn.

The setting changes from Ruyn to Old Forest Road

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siv Drakryttare Character Portrait: Fade
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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#, as written by Sylwyn
Chapter One


Accursed Inn
6th Gysse Aril, 3485


Harding ‘The Ferret’, a ginger-haired, rat of a man, was one of the inn’s less savory patrons. He made a living by stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down, and subsequently took everything that was, and the nails, as well.

When he ‘accidentally’ brushed up against one of the new arrivals, the words, “Oops, sorry Ma’am,” escaped his mouth even as his hand lifted the stranger’s purse from her belt and tucked it away.

He’d not gone three steps before a hand clamped down on his shoulder and wheeled him around. Craning his neck, he sized up his would-be victim clad in leathers and fur, bared skin painted with tattoos and woad; long, fiery, unkempt hair cascading around her shoulders. The thief could see the hilt of a broadsword slung across the warrior’s back.

The barbarian grinned savagely. Ferret let out a frightened squeak before her fingers caught him hard under the chin, lifting him clean off his feet, and dumped him into a heap on the stained common room floor.

The woman turned over the unconscious pickpocket with the toe of his boot and retrieved her coin purse from inside the man’s cloak. Jingling it once to check its weight, she returned it to her belt and looked toward the barman, lifting an eyebrow.

The landlord, a large, burly man with a face like a bulldog’s, shrugged and produced a large tankard from behind the bar. “He was new here, Siv, he didn’t know.”

“Ya? Well he can consider that a valuable life lesson,” she answered roughly as the barkeeper filled the tankard from one of the mead barrels behind the counter and slid it across the scarred wooden surface.

A silver coin changed hands. “Still tipping well, I see,” the barman noted. “Business good?”

Siv nodded. “The damned Legion makes a good show of strength when it suits them, but they're not above using mercenaries to do their dirty work! Still, suits me just fine. Keep ‘em coming!” She raised the tankard to her lips and took a swig.

The drinks kept coming, and so did the patrons, filling early afternoon gaps into late midday. No sooner would the landlord set a ceramic mug of ale or mead, or a glass full of scotch and return to his seat beneath the double-headed axe above the bar to resume reading, than a toothy louse seated himself at the counter, gulped down a few drinks and slammed the empties onto the counter along with a handful of coins. There wasn’t a lot of gold these days, though the few yellow Cylas heads that cropped up were from the odd sorts, the kind one did not want to run into alone in the middle of the night.

Though the inn had its share of raiders and highwaymen who would try to clean out the bar or steal money and chase away paying customers, the establishment had been unusually busy today. Even a scrawny septuagenarian took up roost on a stool near the unconscious thief, tapping his foot on the fellow’s arm in steady rhythm as he blew into a harmonica.

Everything seemed to be going so well, no one noticed the door creaking open and shut on rusty, iron hinges. That is, until the dog-faced innkeeper looked up from pouring another round and suddenly dropped the stein he’d been holding. The glass made a clink against the counter top, bounced, and hit the tiles with a loud crack, shattering into pieces.

The barman stumbled backward, crunching broken pieces beneath his shoes, his mouth agape at the entrance. As if by magic, the barflies looked up and saw what he was gawping at.

They splintered off, parting into the woodworks, whilst murmurs of, “Look, it’s Fade!”, and, “The assassin, hide!” cropped up as they all looked from the dark figure at the door to the lone patron brave, or foolish, enough to stay at the bar.

With a gloved hand resting on a sheathed dagger, the figure scanned the room, iridescent eyes raking over the patrons from right to left, black cowl seeming to shift as to never reveal the obscured features. Each man cowered in the shadows, hoping they were safe from the assassin's deadly blade, but that vacant stare came to a full stop on the woman at the bar. Fingers closed around the hilt, yanked it out with the flick of a wrist and hurled it, blade-first.

Siv calmly drained her tankard and looked to the landlord for another, raising an eyebrow when she found the man cowering behind the bar. Shrugging, she helped herself to a fresh stein and resumed drinking. That was when a knife whizzed past her ear and stuck into the counter next to her

“Drakryvon!” Fade’s voice carried across the room. “I’ve been looking for you.”

The warrior set down the tanker with a thunk, pushed back her stool and got to her feet. Meeting the assassin’s gaze, she unstuck the dagger from the bar-top and bit it in half, letting the halves hit the floor.

The assassin’s multicolored hues did not so much as blink, and in three seconds, Fade, in a swish, swish of fabric, fluidly closed the gap between them, lean hips swaying right through the legs and bringing one knee-high boot down on top of the broken dagger. There were gasps from the crowd as the slimly muscled figure met the mercenary head-on, those eyes never breaking fom hers.

A small mouth behind that mask gave the face an almost feminine quality. “You’re a tough woman to track, even for someone of your stature.”

Siv glanced toward an window by the door, and briefly wondered if it had been open when she came in earlier. Scooping up the other half of the broken blade, she assassin lifted it to see poison, black as a bruise, dripping onto the floor.

“If I had a silver piece for every assassin trained in the deadly arts who thought a drop o’ poison would be enough ta put me down, I’d be a fat, wealthy woman living out her days in some mansion… huh?”

She stooped down to pick up her fallen braid of hair that had been shorn off by the dagger. In the Midwest plains she called home, warriors braided their hair after every victory, only ever cutting it when defeated in combat, as a constant reminder not to make the same mistake twice. Her many tiny plaits had never been cut, and to touch or damage a clansman’s braids was a grave insult.

“If I needed you dead,” Fade replied, “I would have put an arrow through your heart, and you would fall to the ground before you knew what hit you, but I’m not here to make enemies. So, sit down, finish your mead, and we can talk business.”

“Well, maybe ye should have thought about that before ye came strutting in here. Ye would need more than an arrow, boy,” she growled, baring sharp white canines. “Had ye been trying tae kill me, ye would have already been cleaved in half, an’ I would now be sitting, drinking a toast out of yer skull. Now, ye want ta talk? Try yer luck, and do it quickly. I don’t have all day.”

The assassin rested an elbow on the counter and one foot on the baseboard between the stools, leaving mere inches of space between them. Those eyes were full of raw power, devoid of any emotion.

“For a hired blade, let alone an Imperial underdog, you certainly leave a lot to luck,” the assassin responded, unblinking. “I assumed you would have grown tired of being used by the empire, instead reveling in the possibility of dying a hero in a blaze of glory to rejoin your brethren in the afterlife.”

“Ha!” Siv snorted, and shook her head. She set the tankard back on the counter and folded her arms, glaring at the assassin. “Doesn’t sound a bit like me,” she grumbled, looking the hooded figure up and down and glowering. “But, we don’t all kill for the right price, shade. We’re not mincing Harbingers of Death who would kill a child as soon as a tyrant.”

The barbarians were no swaggering knights, all pomp and codes of honor, but they shared a simple, savage view that the weak were not worth killing.

The assassin splayed a hand across the table, revealing a signet ring worn over a thin glove. The insignia, a Tyir Dark Elf symbol, was a serpent swallowing a rounded moonstone.

The figure by no means towered over the warrior, but a presence was still felt within those unwavering eyes. “Heed not the rumors that the Drenn are slaugh-ter-ers of the innocent, Drakyvon,” the assassin said, taking on a darker tone.

Siv could see pools of color swirling in those eyes.

“There are murderers all over Ruyn who wouldn’t think twice over killing or raping children, but we are not paid for that which with we have been tasked for more than two thousand years, long before Osiric Cylas and his ancestors took the throne from their predecessors, upsetting the fragile balance on which the empire once teetered.

Siv sneered. "Our clans have managed fine fer generations; the petty squabbles over the throne don’t concern us. ‘Keeping the balance’, as ye smug assassin types call it, that’s civilization for ye.”

"Pity, I had you pegged as a woman more honorable than the one before me. Yes, we know who you are, Drakryvon, as your reputation precedes you. The Midwest dragon clans have been all but extinguished, leaving the great Rider with sole survivorship of the responsibility of rallying the savages under one banner."

Folding her arms, Siv turned her head to one side and spat on the floorboards. "Either get to the point, or get out, and leave me in peace."

"I've wasted enough of your time, barbarian," Fade answered smoothly. "I only come as a messenger bearing tidings of an awakening in the far east which may be of some significance to you... The elves have long called him Ka..."

Siv's narrowed both eyes, brows furrowing into a line dividing the bridge of her nose.

"But, if I am not mistaken, the clans of the West refer to Drakrelib, god of the ancient dragonkin of myth..." The assassin took a sly bow and met her eyes once more before rising. "With that, I bid you good night."

Impossible, Siv thought, Drakrelib's temple is hidden in the hills to the far west. She gave no outward sign she cared or even comprehended the assassin's words, but her eyes followed Fade's exit like a hawk as she muttered, "T'was lovely chatting wit ye. Do let me know next time yer in the neighborhood; we can go fer scones."

The barman resurfaced, shakily, watching the door creak shut and the patrons emerge, counting their blessings or praying to whatever gods they thought had shown them mercy for hanging around a place like this. Pulling out a clean stein, the landlord filled it with ale and sat back down, lifting the drink to his mouth, and regarded the barbarian, unblinking.

“Sorry, Siv,” the barman said after setting down the now half-empty stein. “I’ve had my share of run-ins with rabble, but I ne’er saw so many bar-hoppers drop like flies in a summer drought. One day, I saw that man, woman, heck, I’m not even sure he’s human, but he sliced the head near clean off a man twice your size, if you can believe it. The raider swung a mace as thick as my skull, and the assassin... just wasn’t there no more, but there was a flash of steel, and the figure jumped back as the raider’s head flopped, still hanging, sinew and all. Those assassins don’t come into a place just to talk. Come to think, this is the first time in thirty years one left without spilling more than a drop of blood.”

Listening to the landlord, she had the disconcerting notion she might have just played right into the assassin’s words without even realizing it. Letting her anger rise, she grabbed a handful of the landlord’s grubby shirt, hauling him right onto the bar as if he weighed no more than a child.

“Are ye trying ta impress me, little man?” she snapped, dumping him back in his chair, and turned in stride, heading for the door.

Harding was just beginning to regain consciousness and push himself to his hands and knees as the warrior passed him. The barbarian paused, raised her foot, and brought the heel of his boot down on the thief’s fingers with a sickening crunch. He screamed and huddled into a ball on the floor clutching his shattered hand to his chest as the Drakryvon plowed straight through the tavern door and slammed it so hard as to leave it hanging half off its hinges as she strode out into the night.

Stunned , the barman just stared, his face turning beet red as the door banged against the rickety, splintered wooden frame, while some of the men in the tavern gave the bawling thief dirty looks.

One man hollered, "Someone shut 'im up!" to which another replied, "Gladly," and silenced him with a punch to the face.

The patrons threw glances all around the room, some speaking in whispered hushes and watching as the innkeeper stood up from his chair and swept some dirty mugs from the bar into a washbasin and hauled it off to the kitchen. When he returned with a damp, stained dish rag and bucket to begin wiping the counter, one of the younger men walked up, placing both hands on the bar and brazenly asked for a refill. Even the old man had picked up his harmonica, but no sooner did he put it to his lips than the barman stopped halfway through cleaning the table and looked up from under those heavy lids.

"You want more, is it?" he asked gruffly.

The young man shook his head. "No, no, if it's going to be a problem, forget it."

"What, you think this stuff comes out of some magic spring or something?"

"Not at all, I just-"

The innkeeper slammed his hand down on the wood, the loud thwap causing the man to flinch.

"You think the Watch gives a damn about what happens to small folk like us? How in Koar's name am I supposed to stay in business, when rabble like you," he jabbed his finger at the man, "keep coming through here and wrecking up the place like you were raised up by dung beetles?"

"Look," the young man threw up his hands disarmingly, "I didn't mean anything by it, I just wanted-"

The barman picked up the barbarian's stein, still partially-filled with mead, and chucked it across the counter at the far wall. The glass sailed overhead and shattered, amber liquid splashing across the floor. Nobody moved a muscle, their eyes following him as he stepped around to the other side of the counter and glared at the nearest patron, the young man who had asked for the refill.

"Get out." The words were plain and simple.

The man looked at him, stupidly.

"Are you dumb? I said: Get. Out."

The man backed toward the busted door and turned to leave, the tapping of his shoes ceasing when he reached the bottom of the steps outside.

The barkeeper eyed the rest of the patrons. "That goes for all of you, too. You heard me, GET OUT!" he bellowed, stomping to the door and thrusting it wide open. "And take the blasted thief with you!"

Slowly, but surely, the patrons began to slide out of chairs and off stools, heading for the exit. One was kind enough to drag the semi-conscious Harding to his feet; another tried to slink out with a full mug, but the barman snatched it right as he was about to take a sip. The ceramic rim clinked against yellowed teeth, and some of the mead sloshed onto the floor as the innkeeper slammed what remained of the door.

Over the next two hours, he washed dishes, scrubbed floors and wiped counters. When he decided he had the place looking presentable, he stopped to admire his handiwork. Surveying the dustless counter, he caught a glimpse of his battle axe. The handle, carved with elvish symbols and beset with three moonstones in a triple crescent, extended into a symmetrical silver blade. This door’s going to cost near everything I have. I’m not about to let those Imperial bastards take this place from me. He went behind the bar to count down the till.

After accounting for back taxes, expenses and supplies, he sighed, shaking his head. Copper, silver... There wasn't anywhere near enough gold. Pocketing the money, he stood up, staring at the labrys for several seconds before he found the courage to grab the step ladder from the kitchen. He reluctantly set the ladder open on the floor and climbed up to the top rung, grasping the labrys with both hands, and lifted it from its wall hooks. A tear welled up in one eye. When he reached the ground, he stopped to wipe it away with the back of his hand. This is it, my lady. You served me well, but, like any hot-blooded man, I proved unworthy... He kissed the blade gingerly and laid it on the counter.

In the storeroom downstairs, he picked out some boards and a satchel of tools, and strapped the labrys to his back. Minutes and nails later, with the Accursed Inn boarded up and the sign flipped around, he headed south down Old Forest Road, stopping at his house to find a torch and saddle his horse. The hour was late, and it was going to be a long, dark journey.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"It seems the warrior's burden is too great."

The phasing moons, hanging low in a violet sky, cast their spectral light over the hooded form of a woman standing in the road before him.

"My Lady," the innkeeper murmured upon glimpsing the auburn tendrils framing graceful features beneath her cowl. Crumpling to his knees, he pressed his fingers to the dirt and kissed the insteps of her small feet. "Forgive an old man. There is no name in all of Ruyn for the treachery on my hands."

"Is there?" she asked, extending a slender, upturned palm. "Look into me, and you will find a tongue icier than the North Winds still calls your name, Bruno of the Rising Dawn."

Clasping her fingers with his, he dared to gaze up into her penetrating green eyes. He saw love, lost, hopeless, fading away into darkness, cutting him deeper than the sharpest blade, for, in seeing the face he knew he would never forget, he found he could not bleed.

"No," he gasped.

"Yes, right under your nose, fool. How would your precious Anael feel if he knew the salvation of Men was at your fingertips and you let it die at the hands of a mere assassin?"

The innkeeper shook his head. "No, it can't be... Then you're..." From the corner of his eye, he caught the glint of cold steel reflecting in the moonlight, and shuddered.

The woman laughed, a smile playing on her soft lips. "Keen is the mind of a grave man when hindsight brings to light the poison fruits of his mistake."

"He bowed his head, resigned. "Please, end my torment."

The steel edge kissed his throat, and he shut his eyes.

"No," the woman answered simply, pulling her hand away. "You knights were all soft. No wonder Anael had the temple sealed. A true warrior never begs. I have no desire to put you out of your misery, old man."

Afraid to look up, he instinctively winced when she thrust the blade toward him. Palms braced against the ground, he waited for the shock of pain, but heard only the snap of leather before she lifted the weight of his sin from his shoulders.

"The stars may shine, but you... just as He cast me to this dark and desolate place, so too, shall you awaken, by morn, in darkness, and so shall you live, until your days upon this world are utterly spent."

"No, no... kill me please!" he shouted, his voice lost in a whirl of wind, and the woman was gone.

Bruno collapsed. At last, After all those years of searching, waiting, the Bearer was right at my doorstep. Now, She is dead, and I let the Arabimitore fall into Enemy hands. How could I have been so blind? Burying his face into his arms, he wrung his hands and began to sob.

In the early, predawn light, when he finally ceased convulsing, he heard a faint flutter and glanced up. Three inky black shapes circled above, their feathery wings beating a rhythm against the paling sky. One opened its toothy beak and let out an inhuman screech. Cowering, Bruno could only let out an anguished cry as the creature swooped down toward him to peck out his eyes.

The setting changes from Old Forest Road to Imperial City

Setting

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sylwyn Aleanraheal Character Portrait: Karem Altan Character Portrait: Sennex
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Castle Cylas
The Following Morning


Dated, This Day, 7th Gysse Aril, 3485
For the Intended Recipient Only:
It is with the greatest urgency I write this message. I hope it finds you closer to your goal. Zamil’s last hope lies with this ancient secret. Its knowledge will restore glory to our empire and peace among the races.
However, the dangers you’ve already faced, and have yet to face, pale in comparison to what legends claim protect the knowledge. Overcome the Guardians, and you will hold the truth that will serve as our light in these dark times. Although my faith in your ability to get there hasn’t wavered, history has taught us that even the greatest heroes do not work alone. Surely, even unsung heroes appreciate – and occasionally rely – on the aide of those whose abilities compliment their own.
Thus, I offer you this Dreamwalker, Sennex. I can find no better compliment to your particular set of skills. He has served me long and well, and has proven himself a worthy servant. He will do the same for you, should you choose to accept his service. I understand the solitary nature of methods, but urge you to consider Sennex as an aide. His wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as his infinite power can only help you with the impossible task of obtaining the ancient knowledge behind the Guardians. For, if the stories are correct, it truly is an impossible task. Perhaps I am fool for dabbling in legend and mysticism, but in these dark days, I can only hope that the seed of truth in every story exists.
In any case, Sennex is able to do the impossible. You need only to ask. I have no doubt that this is a skill an accomplished artist such as you would kill for. However, he may perform only three such tasks for any master – no more, no less. Use them well.
Signed graciously,
O.C.
Emperor of Zamil,
Lord of the Steppes,
High Commander of the Imperial Legion,
Etc., etc.


P.S. My offer stands on two conditions: First, that you burn this letter upon reading it. Second, that you speak to no one of this transaction, as I am acting against the firm counsel of those closest to me. It is my sincere hope that this gift will ensure the your success, upon which you will complete the sole condition of your payment – to share what you have learned with no one outside myself.

Osiric ceased writing, the tip of his quill dotting the end of his final sentence heavily with black ink, and looked up as a chill ran the length of his spine, making him shiver as though the icy north wind had blown through his study. He paused, holding the scarleted Imperial crest just above the bottom left corner of the page. A tapping noise near his window grabbed his attention, and his gaze fell on the large brown eagle perched on the sill, its silhouette bathed in amber predawn light, golden shellac, beaded orbs blinking thoughtfully. The great bird rapped once more on the ornate black and gold spyglass slung round its neck, as if wishing to convey the very urgency of the written letter.

"Come now," the emperor chided, and firmly stamped the parchment with his crest. "Give an old codger a moment to gather his thoughts."

He approached the avian, taking measured steps, the weight of his letter seeming to slow his gait. C.C. tells me I'm too young to be senile... Yet, these words either go with the last of my sanity, or the beginning of madness. The eagle remained perfectly still as he gingerly lifted the ornament over the bird's head and unscrewed the cap. I have long felt this icy wind stir, heard her voice, softly, softly, whispering to me in the dead of night. Koar take me, if my words be in vain, for then, shall all of Zamil fall to this fate.

Fixing the spyglass around the eagle's neck again, he rested a heavy, wrinkled hand atop its shoulders and looked into those golden hues. "Our hour together draws nigh, my friend, but your service is not yet done." The emperor rose and briefly stroked the eagle's feathers before pushing out the window and waving a hand toward the open air. "Go, go now, and do not fail."

The eagle blinked and stretched his massive wings in acknowledgement. With only the scratching of his talons to break the sacred silence of dawn, the bird took off, circled the manicured gardens, and flew east.

You've never failed before, thought Osiric as he looked out the open window. Gods willing you don't start now.
__________________________________________________________________
Imperial City
Merchant's Way


The sun was still rising when Sennex reached the eastern edge of the Imperial City. Even in the cold half-dimness of dawn, his sharp sight caught the respectable caravan preparing to depart.

Several people, some dressed in gowns or suits of silks, others wearing clothing better suited to traveling, arrived at the charabanc and began lifting skirts or adjusting coats to climb up and into the narrow entrance at the direction the Imperial Guard escort.

Sennex recognized some as regular visitors to the royal court, and two in particular as regular members. Among them was the recipient of the secret letter he carried, or at least one who could locate said recipient. His instructions had been simple, but vague regarding details of the identity of this person, but it had been his master's last wish, and thus had to be done. Would be done, whether he liked it or not.

In any case, Sennex had developed a sixth sense for how to follow vague instructions over the centuries, and infinite patience when it told him to wait and watch. He circled wide over the caravan until one individual caught his attention.

The elf lowered the lid of the trunk filled with her things inside the rear compartment of the carriage and straightened, taking in a deep breath of the cool, early morning air. The cloudless twilight sky already showed the pastel greens and purples of dawn approaching in the west. A speckle or two of stars and the faint outline of a crescent moon was still visible above the city in silhouette against the My'Bael mountains.

She turned toward the guard post outside the east gate to see if anyone had yet come out, but the only signs of movement were eight brown and black draft horses harnessed two to a wagon and four to a small charabanc, and two in the stable outside the guard post, their hooves stamping the dirt, sending upward little clouds of dust. Shutting the back door to her carriage, she started toward the stable when she felt a pair of eyes on her and glanced down into the anxious blue eyes of her furry white companion.

"Not yet, Bane," she told the animal. "Soon." She tucked her long, loose auburn plait into the hood of her blue-gray riding cloak, and strode toward the stable, trailed by the sound of padding paws.
The door to the outpost swung open, and two Imperial guards exited, the one furthest from her heading to the stable gate.

The second guard, carrying two harnesses over his shoulder, met her halfway between the carriage and the stable. "Sylwyn?" he queried, a friendly tone creeping into his otherwise official demeanor. "Are you all ready?"

Sylwyn nodded. "I've packed the carriage, and seen to stocking the wagon with enough provisions to cover the journey all the way to Merchant's Lodge. I'm sorry I hadn't the time last night to prepare anything."

"No worries, Syl. You've done more than enough. We received word from your page late last night. I understand there has been a change of plans?"

The man's accent, however light, affirmed that he was a mercenary from one of the old nomadic clans.

"Yes," the elf answered, dipping her head slightly in a formal gesture, but the tiniest of smiles found its way to her lips under a demure, bright gaze that never quite met nor completely left his. "I trust you've allotted for the extra time?"

"Hai. The caravan’ll be ready to head off in an hour. The others should be arriving shortly." The guard ended the exchange with a half smile as he tossed the white wolf a bite of fresh foul and continued on to the carriage.

Bane snapped the poultry up into eager jaws and chewed hastily mid-trot to the fence, where the first guard was tying leads to the two stabled draft horses. Sylwyn smiled, reaching down to pet the wolf's head as she passed him on her way to the stable, where the two remaining horses clopped the ground with their hooves and whinnied restlessly. The brown horse tossed his head, pulling on the lead to keep the guardsman from tightening the rope.

"They're uneasy this morning," the guard announced when she approached the fence, seeming no less ill at ease in their presence. “They haven’t been on the road in months.”

She boosted herself up, catching the heels of her boots on the second rail, and outstretched her fingers to caress the dirty blond mane of one horse as the steed tugged toward her. At first, the creature shied away, but gradually relaxed and leaned his great head into her hand.

"Tzcsa, tzcsa," she soothed, and leaned in, the loose locks of her hair brushing against his face, and nuzzled his cheek. Bringing up one leg over the top rail, she eased over the fence and dropped softly to the ground, careful to keep one hand on his broad neck. “That’s it, easy boy.” She held her hand out to the guard. “Here, give me the lead.”

The guard gave her the end of the rope, and she motioned for him to come as she led her brown horse, slow and steady, toward the open gate. Only an eagle's eye noted how the guard's shoulders tensed as he took up the lead for the black steed, and together, they guided the horses out of the stable and to the carriage. Bane trotted close behind, mouth half-open. At the carriage, the guard overtook the job of harnessing the last two horses while she repeated the same soft little Elvish nonsense word to them, stroking their stiff hair. Tzcsa, tzcsa. Even Bane, who had sat back on his haunches, looked up at her, expectantly, as if wondering whether he, too, should heed her gentle command. The guard, too, seemed to listen as he worked, a bit more slowly than an expert horseman might.

Odd, thought Sennex as he watched the exchange. I'd expect a Roamer to complete the task without so much hesitation. Even the horse can sense it.

Sylwyn helped make the last checks, tightening the carriage harnesses and adjusting them around the horses bodies and gave both one last pat before walking back to the gilded doors and having a peek inside. It appeared roomy, with folded draperies at each window. The emperor had a taste for grandeur and flair, making the subtle dark cherry wood and silver trim an unusual choice. Judging by the size, however, the carriage could not have been ordered by anyone else.

As she turned to let her furry friend into the carriage, she came face to face with a wall of red fabric. Staring upward, she followed the black Imperial symbol on the tunic to a pair of hazel eyes staring down at her.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, opening her mouth in astonishment.

“I come to see you off, and all you can say is ‘Oh,’?” James responded, sounding serious. “Well, if that’s how you feel about me…"

From the perch he had secured atop a nearby spruce, Sennex noted how the General's eye found the Roamer guardsman. As James turned to leave, the elf suddenly threw her arms around his neck. His lips widened into a smile as he slipped a hand around her waist, drawing her to him. Sennex had seen this enough times to know that it was as much primal protectiveness as it was affection.

“What are you doing up so early?” she asked, looking up.

“I thought I might catch you before I left.” James let her go and reached into his pocket, pulling out a silver brooch. “Here.” He fiddled with the clasp and pinned it to the collar of her cloak. “Now, you may take a piece of home with you wherever you go.”

Sylwyn peered down. Leaf-shaped with an emerald inlay, the adornment bore the intricate etchings done by crafters of the Eytherghymn. "Another brooch?" she murmured, brushing her fingers along the fine silver netting of the leaf. "It's.. beautiful."

"Yes, and when you tire of wearing it, you can add it to the rest sitting on your vanity gathering dust in your stateroom," he answered, with a tone that sounded like he was, or at least hoped he was, half-joking.

“Last call!” one of the guards shouted from the charabanc. “The caravan for Port Arn leaves in twenty minutes!”

“That’s you, my minstrel,” James told her, and held her gaze for a few seconds, leaning in as if to kiss her on the mouth, but broke eye contact at the sound of footsteps thudding behind him.
Sennex noticed the way the elf froze imperceptibly for an instant when he leaned in, only relaxing when he shifted his attention, and instead pressed his lips to her cheek.

Then, a boy of perhaps only sixteen years, who the Dreamwalker could only assume was the elf's page dashed, breathless, down the path, holding his floppy, wide-brimmed hat to keep it from blowing away. “Sorry I’m late, Miss,” he said. “Hey, boy,” He looked down at Bane, whose tongue lolled in anticipation, rubbed his head, splitting his attention between her and James. “I stopped at mum’s house this to drop off her medicine.”

James quirked a brow at him. “Roland, you ran all the way from the Purlieu?”

Roland nodded, swallowing as he caught his breath. “Aye, Sir.”

The General chuckled. “Keep it up, and you’ll be outrunning Ferdirand in no time." He gave the boy a hearty slap on the back and headed toward the front of end the carriage, catching the guardsman by the shoulder as he packed the last of his belongings in a worn leather traveling bag and turned towards the blacksmiths near the rear of the caravan.

"Karem." James made a loose fist and cupped it over his mouth, clearing his throat rather awkwardly when he got the Roamer's attention. With a heavy drawing of breath, he outwardly tried to assert himself by way of body language, rising to full height, arms crossed, and puffing out his chest.

But, Sennex easily spotted the manner in which the General uncomfortably avoided making direct eye contact with the guardsman when he spoke. There was no malice in his resentment yet, for he had barely recognized it. The Dreamwalker could not guess whether their rapprot would end in genuine friendship or hostility. That would depend on the woman. How cyclical mortal lives were.

"The Watch heard a rumor there might be an assassination attempt at the conference. I understand the emperor sent one of the Drenn to keep an eye on things, but you know Syl..." he said, guardedly, and pursed his lips for a second or two before continuing. "Just, uh, take care of her. And, try to keep her out of trouble, eh?"

Karem nodded in understanding. He said nothing at first, as if trying to decide how to take the General's unspoken machismo.

"So, I heard. Yeah, I know," he said, glad to accept this duty, for whatever reason it was offered. Then he met his general's eye. "I've got this; you won't be disappointed."

Sylwyn patted the left seat, motioning for Bane to get inside the carriage. Favoring his right leg with a scar running the length of his thigh, he hopped up and circled the cushion on the opposite side until he found a comfortable spot.

Roland offered his hand to help her onto the running board, and Sylwyn graciously accepted. “What did James mean by that?” he asked her as she stepped up into the carriage. “I always thought their short, stubby legs would… you know?”

Glancing back, Sylwyn smirked knowingly and shook her head, “Have you ever seen a Halfling run?”

Only Sennex saw the red-breasted raven swoop from the lightening sky and soar above the assembled wagons and guards of the caravan before taking to the air once more, observing all spread out below it as it flapped away over the tree tops. Wheeling through the sky, the bird swept low over the road, into the trees, cresting a rise and disappeared.

So it was that only two watched the proceedings of the embassy-bound caravan, for two very different reasons. Sennex knew that it had been just a raven, through and through, unlike himself. Whoever his master, the intentions were not likely noble.

The setting changes from Imperial City to Eytherghymn

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#, as written by Sylwyn
Eytherghymn
Forest's Edge


Down below the cliffs, in an encampment concealed by the tall, robust pine trees of the Eytherghmymn, a score of rough-looking men and women, clad in chainmail and leather were waking up. Some tended horses, cooked breakfast over an open fire, or sharpened weapons in preparation for the day. Several heads turned as the raven descended into camp towards the most extravagant-looking tent in the center. A tall and lean, athletic male stepped out, dressed to the hilt in a ruffled poet’s blouse and black leather pants, with a smug grin across his broad, graying features as though he expected to spend the day sweeping screaming maidens off the deck of a burning ship. The glint in his eyes said he would have likely been the one to set the ship aflame.

The raven landed on the rogue’s shoulder and immediately began chittering in his ear, in a secret language only he understood. Eddie Clarke listened closely, his grin widening. Raising a hand to stroke the bird and offer it a morsel of food, he turned his head and nodded to his bodyguard, Bjorn, who folded his massive arms, muscles tensing like iron bands. A towering, giant of a man, the barbarian had been fiercely loyal to Eddie ever since the rogue had sprung him from the Imperial Prison some three years ago.

"Tell them to break camp and make ready,” Eddie commanded. “That caravan bound for Arn will soon be on the move, and by noon today, we're all going to be one hell of a lot richer!"

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Character Portrait: Siv Drakryttare
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#, as written by Sylwyn
Chapter Two


Outside Blood Fang Caves
Crimson Blades Encampment


The Drakryvon always slept with one eye open, for the sole reason there wasn't really anyone who was not out to make a quick coin, herself included. One could say it was human nature, but, well, these were dark times. Her journey on horseback through Gorgon's Pass yesterday had dumped her onto the legendary Road of Mirrors, under the blistering summer heat. Weary and sunburned, she found her only reprieve in a tankard of honeyed mead, and the sweet, cool, starlit night. So, when the morning light crested the west mountains, causing her to squint, Siv realized only just before both eyes fell shut that she had not slept a wink. The intermittent crackle of dying embers of the fire in the mercenary encampment faded, until she slumped against the wooden marker behind her and slipped into unconsciousness.

In the flicker of torchlight burning dim inside the temple, she could see three outlines of the bandits who had chased her from her family's tent. She held her breath as the biggest man, standing between his comrades, searched for her, his eyes like a hawk's seeking prey in the gloom. Columns of dry stone cast long, crimped shadows along the floor, offering stretches of darkness through which she could-

"There!" she heard one of the bandits shout, his voice reverberating in the open space. "She's headed for the statue. Get her!"

She felt every bone in her body jar as she slammed into the crook of the stone statue's shoulder.
Drakrelib, hear my plea, she silently begged, her gaze falling on the dragon's giant bloodstone eye with swirls like scarlet flames set in a black jewel.

"Grandfather of the White Flame, Master of the Black Flame," she whispered quickly, clasping her hands, "I invoke thee; By the power of the ancients, and the blood of my ancestors, hear m-"

She let out a startled shriek as she was yanked by the hair and jerked back, being forced to stare up at her captor.

"Here she is!" he yelled, and dragged her struggling form over the hump of the statue's shoulder. The bandit leader turned her around and roughly pushed her up against the statue, digging studded leathers into her exposed flesh. He stroked her cheek almost tenderly, in a gesture of mock affection.

Glancing down, Siv saw the bloody gouge in his armor where she had stabbed him with her father's knife during her escape, and dared to meet his eyes in one final look of defiance.

"Well, looky here, boys, we got ourselves a real spitfire," he cooed as his men surrounded him. He drew his right arm across his chest, and Siv flinched before the blow connected, his backhand sending a hot stinging pain down her jaw. She braced for another swing when he raised his arm again, but he only grabbed her by the throat and sneered. "I'm gonna show you what I do to break little bitches like you..."

Fighting tears welling up at the corners of her eyes, she clutched at tufts of grass sprouting between cracks in the stonework floor and bit her lip, even as the taste of copper grazed her tongue. Her heart pounded angrily to the discordant tune of desecration, but she refused to cry out. It was all she could do to drown out the animal sounds of the bandit's grunts and the two pairs of eager eyes watching hungrily, like those of dogs awaiting the last scraps of their master's meal. Somehow, in the corner of her eye, she saw the dragon looking down, unseeing; and yet, there shone a glimmer of empathy in those sightless flames.

With her last ounce of resolve, she shut her eyes and uttered two words in a single prayer, "Take me."


A voice, strong with a sonorous timbre, suddenly filled her head. Not this day. Opening her eyes again to the great jewel, she saw the dragon's eye begin to glow...

"You awake?"

The gruff sound of Captain Kefir's voice mentally jolted Siv out of sleep, but she merely inhaled sharply, glancing up from under fiery strands at the leader of the Crimson Blades and nodding in acknowledgement. "Aye."

"One of my scouts returned from the north passage this morning," he said, crouching in front of her. The Blades Captain was a lean, lion of a man with sun-bronzed skin and a hungry gaze that always seemed to be searching for his next prize, be it coin or his next kill with the iron rapier at his hip.

She followed Kefir's gaze over her shoulder to the array of tents and bedrolls where men and horses stirred under the approaching dawn.

"He gave me a funny look when I told him what you asked for last night, but he did manage to bring back this. Here."

Siv looked down to his outstretched hand in which he had a torn piece of tanned hide. Taking it rather gingerly, she rubbed the stiff material between her fingers, held it to her nose and sniffed.

"Tenche hide," she announced at length, and turned the scrap over to reveal a smudge of violet on the skin, "Worn by the lower ranks. It's stained wi' goblin's blood."

"What about it?" he asked, puzzled. "Orcs kill those little bastards all the time."

"Only for fun, Captain, never in combat. Goblins are to orcs what mages are to yer Legionnaires, and they're rarely seen on the frontline of battle."

"Nevermind that. Right now, our only priority is pushing into the north tunnels to wipe these guys clean out of their cradles. Besides, I thought you were going to use that Drakryvon... mind thing, or something."

The Drakryvon turned briefly and spat before shooting him a dirty look. ""Utlän!" she swore, rolling her eyes. "Do ye want my help or not?"

"Yeah, sure. Excuse me," he answered quickly, and cleared his throat. "Go ahead."

Returning her attention to the item in question, she closed her eyes, allowing the distractions of her surroundings to fall away. The clans of the midwest were well-known for what was considered witchcraft by some, while scholars across the land tried their best to explain away the mysticism with science and logic. The Drakryvon, believed blessed with the innate gift of psychometry, saw everything in existence as interwoven threads in the tapestry of life. From but a single thread, their master sages could retell entire stories, capturing moments in vivid detail as though reliving their own past. Sadly, the wise woman of Siv's tribe had passed long before she was born, and such positions of duty bestowed upon someone by his or her people were not easily replaced. Still, when all the world was quiet, and she easily shed the worries and cares of the day, freely giving herself to that wanting stillness, she, herself, could almost reach out and grasp those binding threads.

Blood. Dark blue and violet intermingling in sprays of death. Shadows, slithering like black serpents along the cavern walls. An incorporeal white light slashing through creature and darkness alike. The glimmer of a lone, crystalline rotating eye inside a metallic husk moving toward her on segmented limbs.

Siv's eyes shot open to find Kefir staring down at her, expectantly.

"Something else killed those goblins, Captain," she started to answer the unspoken question no doubt on the tip of his tongue, but he merely cut her short with a curt nod.

"Thank you, that's all I wanted to know."

The Drakryvon warrior shook her head. "Your funeral, utlän," she muttered, but he'd already walked away.

The setting changes from Eytherghymn to Ruyn

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Character Portrait: Nestro Lifebringer
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Outside Bloodfang Caves
Crimson Blade’s Encampment, Just Outside The Non-Regular‘s Section



The axe impacted the middle of the large round cut of wood, making embedding it’s only barely into the grain yet further this time than the one just below it. The one who had been wielding the axe for the past few hours pulled it out and once wished he had a wedge. Still the figure in black simply drove the axe back down into the wood. Apparently unfazed by the near futility of the task. Eight or nine other cuts were sitting near the chopping stump, and were all nearly the same size as the stump itself. It certainly was being stubborn.

A little further off different pile of wood sat a little further off, the fruit of the cutter’s constant labor since the dim of the early morning. Yet even through that time his pace had never slowed, a true feat to those paying attention. Considering he had done the same for the entirety of the previous day and most of the afternoon two nights ago. Many would call it down right strange if they had also known the figure to have been traveling constantly for nearly thirty six hours before that, on foot. However, precious few really paid attention to the goings on of a ragged looking mercenary who refused to remove his helmet even when splitting wood. A good thing, considering it was quite unhealthy for undead to draw attention when the were trying to pretend to be human.

Nestro, the undead in question, was lucky no one had been wise enough to notice his complete lack of fatigue while also being worldly enough to figure out what he was. He was far more engrossed in his task to bother acting tired. He even knew it was not good for the soft tissue on his hands to be working this raggedly. His mentor would have hounded him greatly for such an action, after all that time he put into embalming. Still the undead continued to sink the axe into the wood, each time getting deeper. Since the first few swings two days ago he had become addicted to the nostalgia. When he was alive it had always been his job to procure firewood for the hearth of the farmhouse, ever since he had first made a bet with his father on what the boy “could” and “could not” do.

“Oy, were taking this early today.” A familiar voice called. Nestro turned to see several large and burly men standing near the pile of cut firewood. The one who had called out was quite shorter than the rest, and appeared to be in charge of the small group. Nestro simple shrugged and continued chopping. He didn't care where the wood went.

“See, I told you it would be the same guy.” One of large men said to the other as they started loading the cut firewood into a small cart. “I passed by twice yesterday and he was the only one working at it both times.” The other man merely grunted in response to the statement.

-----

“Hey Rev? Didn't Captain tell you to cut this himself?” A large man who was new to the small group asked while he pulled the cart on the way back to the main camp.

“Paid workers don’t ask questions Dekard.” The smaller man had taken a very liberal “supervisory” role, answered snidely. Then he pulled some leaves out of a pouch at his waist and stuck them in his lower lip. The large man grumbled at the answer and about to respond but was cut off.

“Stiff up, here he comes.” The small “leader” of the group hushed in a sharp tone as he eyed the Crimson Blades’ Captain round the corner of a tent, men around him acknowledging his presence as he passed.

“Rev.” Kefir called out when he got close. “It sure doesn't look like your near tired enough to have been splitting wood for the past three days…” The rough looking man said in a condescending tone with an eyebrow raised.

“No problem, no problem. Just getting the last of it here.” The small man soothed, pointing over his shoulder with his thumb at the full cart.

“That so?” Kefir questioned as he eyed the cart and the large men. They averted their eyes downward at his strong gaze.

“Yep, I’ll just get this into place by the fires in the main camp then.” The small man said, starting to walk past the Captain.

“Hold on a minute Rev.” Kefir said, stopping the man as he stood in front of him. “You sure you gave me back all that extra coin you had from when you picked up that unwanted wood?” The Captain put his hand on the smaller man’s shoulder.

“Of course, of course” Rev waived his free hand in front of his face. “Like I told ya before, that was all they had, they gouged the shit outta me. The bastards…” He laughed a bit.

“All right then.” Kefir removed his hand, sounding unconvinced. “Just get that firewood into place. We’re moving out soon and nobody want’s to be fetching firewood when we just got back from a fight. Unless you want to be the one doing it.” He warned the small man.

“ Gotcha Captain” Rev responded and hurried passed, the big men and the cart in toe. Though he spit a brown mess out after the Captain passed.

---

Kefir had a big scowl on his face as he drew close to the non-regular’s camp. He knew that Rev was a liar and a cheat. Still, he was the Blades’ liar and cheat who was quite good in strategy, not to mention that he was a damn good shot with a bow. Especially when it came to aiming for the opposing force’s leader. Though when he had showed up with that wagon full of damn near stumps instead of real firewood, Kefir had wanted to ring his scrawny little neck.

As he entered the non-regular’s camp, he wasn't greeted with near the same enthusiasm as when he walked through the Blades’ camp. In fact, he wasn't greeted at all. Kefir cursed under his breath, if only that Drakryvon had wanted to lead the non-regulars. She had gained him some tactical knowledge, but her stubbornness had cost him this annoyance. He just couldn't have damn near fifteen men running around unsupervised in battle.

When he reached the center of the camp, he cursed under his breath and called out loudly.

“Alright! Which one of you lot is the leader here?!” The men sitting around the camp looked in his direction, but remained there was naught but occasional rapt of an axe hitting wood coming from just outside the camp. Kefir sighed at the lack of response.

“I guess you‘re the Captain then?” A raven haired man asked, who was sitting on a large piece of wood near the entrance to a tent.

“Alright! You lot just better figure it out! Cuz I’m paying the leader of the group for the work of ten men!” Kefir ignored the question. “Have the leader and his second come by the main camp as soon as it’s figured out! We‘re moving out soon and if nobody comes by, none of you are getting paid.” As the Captain finished he turned to walk back to the main camp, then stopped. If she’s going to make it hard for me… “Well, except for the Drakryvon.” He said just loud enough to hear over the silence, then left.

As he made his way back to the main camp, a man in black chopping wood caught his eye and made him think. I guess if no-one comes by I could ask Victor to head the group… also get him to scare some sense into Rev…

----

“Well? Who should go?” One of the non-regulars broke the silence.

“Not me. I’m just here for the treasure.” Another piped up. A few other men began to gather at the center of the camp.

“What treasure?” The another asked.

“Don’t you know? Orc’s and goblins guard treasure. There‘s supposed to be a lot of them around here, so there‘s gotta be a lot of treasure.” The second explained.

“I’m here to join the Crimson Blades.” One that looked no older than seventeen mentioned.

“Then why don’t you go by their camp?” The first one asked.

“Well, I tried but-” The young man was cut off.

“ALL OF YOU JUST SHUT UP!” A deep voice called out. “He said only the two to come by their camp are getting paid! If there’s treasure the Blades’ are gonna take it for themselves you idiot!” A monster of a man made his way to the center of the recently formed crowd. “Let’s decide who’s gonna go by now! Before they move out and no-one gets paid!”

“Except for the Drakryvon.” One of the men nonchalantly parroted the man who had started the fiasco.

“You idiot!” The large man said. “Do you even know what a Drakryvon is?!” It’s that woman who’s been hanging around! Ain’t no way I’m going to be led around no damn woman! Tha hell is she the only one getting paid anyways?!” He yelled, getting in the man’s face.

“That woman would gut you alive.” A voice came from outside the group. It was the man who had identified the Captain earlier, still sitting on a round cut of wood. Though he was now sharpening a dagger.

“Did you just say what I think you did?” The big man pushed his way out of the small group and stomped over to the man sitting down.

The man put away his dagger, stood up and stared hard at the large man who had approached.

The large man swung his fist at the shorter man, “I’ll gut YOU alive you sonofa-!” He yelled, but was cut off as he took a knee to the crotch before the punch could connect. He groaned and crumpled on the ground.

Everyone else was silent as the roguish man calmly stepped over the other one crumpled on the ground. When he reached the center of the camp he looked around.

“I’m going to go by the main camp. Anyone opposed?” Everyone remained silent.

“Uh, I think the guy chopping wood would should go by.” The young kid from earlier broke the silence. The man at the center raised an eyebrow. A few in the crowd asked who he was talking about.

“I, uh, I mean. He’s been taking care of the camp right? Without him we would have been cold and wet for the past two nights. Also, he’s been doing it nonstop for two days now, but I haven’s seen him slow down at all and he works with all his gear on. So I figure he’s gotta be pretty strong.”

The roguish man eyed the kid, then thought for a moment. “All right, I’ll see him on my way there.” Then he left the camp.

----

Nestro brought the axe down as hard as he could, burying it’s head in the large, round, half split log of wood. He pulled a couple times, tried wiggling it out, the put his boot where the handle met the split and levered it out after quite a bit of work. He chuckled a bit when he finally got it out, Damn, that knot on the side. he thought to himself. He sat the axe down and stared at the stubborn log, trying to think of a way to get the job done without a wedge.

“This is a smart sword.” A voice surprised him from behind. He whirled around to look at the area where he had left his pack and sword. “Well made, light yet strong, simple and effective. I‘m sure it‘s owner is quite skilled.” He looked at the rough looking man with black hair who was holding Nestro’s unsheathed sword. The undead quickly panicked, hoping that the man hadn't looked inside the satchel that had been sitting by his sword.

“It’s… the one that killed my brother. I keep it as a trophy.” Nestro finally said in his coarse voice, referring to the wolf bones that were in his satchel.

“Ah, well, then I apologize. I didn't mean to offend.” The raven haired man asked, then held the sword out a little further and looked it over.

“What? Oh, the sword? No I was talking about the…. Never mind.” Nestro shook his helmet covered head.

“Very well then. I will not pry.” The roguish man sheathed the sword and held it out to Nestro. As Nestro reached for it the man eyed his hands and noting there wasn't a hint of shaking at all.

“Seems as though the kid was right.” The man said as he handed the sword off. Nestro had no clue at to what he meant. “You aren't tired one bit from all that work. Not to mention you can easily hit the same spot on a log multiple times with that helmet on…” The main trailed off more talking to himself than anything.

“I used to chop wood a lot when I was younger.” Nestro mentioned, but didn't explain why he wasn't tired or was wearing a helmet in the first place. Though the man didn't suspect what Nestro feared he might.

“And I never chopped wood as a child.” The man mumbled. “Alright then, get your things and follow me.” He spoke back up in a commanding tone. “I’ll fill you in on the way. We‘re going to the main camp to talk about the advance on the caverns.” When he finished he turned, and began walking off.

Nestro stood still for a moment, wondering if it was a trap. Then after thinking curiosity got the better of him, he quickly gathered his things and followed along. He desperately wanted to get a look at the caverns, if what the cartographer had told him was true, there was something ancient there.

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#, as written by Sylwyn
Tyrnea 'Ur Drenn Insignia

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The Tyrnea 'Ur Drenn (ter-nea-uhr-drenn), more commonly known throughout Zamil as the Tyrnea (ter-nay-uh) Drenn, for ease of pronunciation, are believed to have many hideouts across the empire, and a foot in nearly every corner of the world. The infamous assassins are masters of illusion and deceit, and no one, dead or alive, has ever discovered a Drenn's true identity. Their obscurity and knack for killing swiftly and mercilessly without revealing themselves has instilled a fear in citizens across the empire. It is said a Drenn assassin can be anyone, anywhere, at any time, and none would be the wiser, and this is not far from the truth, for the assassins are not born, but chosen for their cunning, craft and the ability to blend and adapt to any situation.

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Character Portrait: Victor Kalyem
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Outside Bloodfang Caves
Crimson Blade Encampment, outskirts


Victor was always cautious of jobs that seemed easy, and this job seemed quite easy. Not only that, but he was going to be working with a rather large group of mercenaries. He was always more suited to smaller engagements, ones that let him concentrate and use his halberd in its proper style. They also tended to involve escorting, which suited him both physically and morally: He didn't like elimination missions or other work involving direct attacks on people. This was a better job in that vein, though, as according to the missive the Blades would be staving off orc attacks at the Caves. It wasn't a "lost cause" that his inner Paladin loved to take more for a moral victory than for pay, but it was honorable work, staving off those half-breed...things.

Of course, that was assuming he ever got there. The road seemed intolerably long, and he was about ready to cook in his armor, despite that he was riding, not walking. He had seen smoke rising in orderly columns, the mark of a camp rather than an inferno, a while ago, and hoped the roads would lead to it, assuming it was the Blades encampment. What the hell else would it be?

At length, he finally arrived. The flags around and a few somewhat familiar faces confirmed things for him. He glanced around a bit before he found the Captain, a man he recognized from previous assignments. He slowed Sirius, then dismounted before the horse had quite stopped. He held the reins tightly as he continued forward and addressed the man in a voice more like a dull rumble than a mutter. "Morning, Kefir. Quite an operation you have here. Where am I needed?" Right to the point.

The setting changes from Ruyn to Eytherghymn

Setting

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siv Drakryttare Character Portrait: Nestro Lifebringer Character Portrait: Victor Kalyem
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#, as written by Sylwyn
Siv rose from her post and lingered behind to put a little distance between herself and Kefir before slinging her broadsword across her back and heading toward camp. The only woman among an established, unspoken hierarchy, she knew she had already made an impression as one of the Captain's new favorites, and the mercenaries' equal distrust for barbaric tribes showed in the way they stared at her, their voices dropping to whispers when she walked by. And Kefir thinks I should jump at the chance to lead this lot into battle. Bunch o' bairns, they won't last a week. She passed a row of tethered horses, the sweet smells of hay and manure intermingling in the air, to where a white mare stood patiently at the end of the block, tail swishing at a persistent fly.

"Good girl, Athdara," she murmured, stroking her stiff mane as she produced a dull green apple from her purse.

Athdara snorted softly and nosed her hand, exposing large brown teeth as she pulled back her lips to ensnare the treat. With her free hand, Siv pulled a bristle brush from her bag and calmly began brushing out the horse's hair. The resounding, intermittent whack of an ax striking wood reached her ears, and every now and then she glanced over her shoulder at a black cloaked figure with its back to her splitting logs into firewood.

In the dim light, the act itself would seem no more than an early morning chore but for the dozen piles of cuts scattered around the chopping block. She had not seen anyone else at the block the night before, save a couple men who gathered leftover bark and twigs to use for kindling. What kind of fighter spends his morning at the ax instead of readying for battle?

The loner appeared disinclined toward ceasing the tiresome task, however. Siv had returned her attention to Athdara when she heard the sound of tramping boots, and three burly men pushing a rickety cart between them passed her. One of them nodded in the woodcutter's direction as they approached, stopping at one of the piles a fair distance away from him.

"Oy, were taking this early," the shortest of the trio called out.

He momentarily looked up from his work, and Siv caught a glimpse of the steel slotted heaume concealing the man's face. The cutter merely acknowledged the other men with a broad shrug and drew back for another swing.

"See, I told you it would be the same guy," muttered one of the two taller men as he bent to grab an armful of wood. "He was here yesterday, too, an' he's still wearing that helmet. Ain't no one else been at that block since Rev dropped off that wood we got two days ago."

"Eh, Rev, didn't Kefir tell ya to cut this yourself?" asked the third man, sounding doubtful.

"You don't get paid to ask questions, Dekard," Rev retorted, Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a few long green leaves, stuck them between his teeth and set to chewing while the other two men loaded the fresh cuts onto the cart.

As they finished clearing their pile, Siv spotted the Blades Captain emerging from one of the larger brown flap tents on the opposite side of the encampment.

"Stiff up, here comes the captain," Rev mumbled, hastily biting off half his chew and stuffing the rest into his pocket.

Upon his arrival, Kefir met the shorter man with a raised brow. "There a problem here?"

"No, no problem, no problem. Just getting the last of this here firewood. " Rev gestured with his thumb toward the full cart.

"That so?" the captain asked, his fierce gaze passing between all three men and their load.

"Yep, we'll just get this over to the main camp." Rev started to walk away, and motioned for the others to follow.

"Hold up." Kefir stopped him, laying a heavy hand on his shoulder. "You sure you gave me back all the extra coin you had from that unwanted wood you picked up the other day?"

Rev waved him away and laughed nervously. "Oh yeah, of course. That was all they had, ya know. Bastard gouged the shit outta me."

Kefir looked unconvinced, but after a second or two, he relented. "All right, just get that where it belongs. We'll be moving out soon, and nobody wants to be out playing Fetch after a fight. Unless, you'd like to volunteer?"

"Gotcha, Captain," Rev answered, and hurried past, his comrades with their cart in tow. Once he was out of Kefir's line of sight, he hocked a sloppy brown mess onto the ground near the horses.

Siv met the Blades Captain's eyes from across the footpath as he strode away, exasperation tensing his tanned features. Not my problem, she thought, certain Kefir would see the words in her steely expression. She finished brushing her mare and treated her to the last apple from her purse. Only as she turned to leave did she notice the stranger at the chopping block had not once looked up from his task.

By the time she reached the center of camp, several men had already gathered near the barricade. Splintered boards cobbled with thick nails, iron posts and logs of varying lengths lined the walls erected outside the caves, and, Siv noticed, the sole entrance, a makeshift gate of rusted bars, lay much too close to their encampment. And, just what does the captain think to do, lose the orcs inside that maze?

The men, oblivious of their proximity, seemed restless and eager to fight. Already, a brawl had broken out between two of a dozen mercenaries, and most were either jeering them on, though a few tried to break up the fisticuffs, until one of the brawlers, a wiry man, dodged his larger opponent's blow and ended the exchange with a swift knee to the groin. The Drakryvon just shook her head and searched for Kefir among the uneven rows of dusty crimson uniforms dividing the Legion's lackeys from the hired mercenaries. Only the Blades looked at ease in muted conversations or sharpening their weapons, silent but for the sound of whetstone scraping steel.

Siv sighted the captain near the front, engaged discussion with a late arrival. Kefir seemed generally familiar with yet another darkly clad, hooded man, even appearing to go so far as to point out his mismatched attire, a set of scratched and dented black armor. The Blades' brightly colored uniforms were typically easy to pick out in small, tight skirmishes, and If he belonged to their guild, she could not readily tell, for she saw no color or designation aside from a red linen wrap at the top of a simple halberd strapped to his back. Regardless, the captain dismissed the man toward his own hirelings and cleared his throat, summoning attention from the entire camp.

"Alright, listen up!" Kefir barked, silencing those still yammering in the crowd as several stragglers took their seats on top of felled logs.

When the only noise Siv could hear was the occasional whinny of a horse from across camp, the captain spoke, pacing side to side wih his hands clasped behind his back.

"For those of you who don't know, we've been at a six-month standoff with the local force some of you ass-kissers like to call the 'Orc Army'. But, today, we're making our final push at the north passage, and with a little luck, the tunnels beyond will lead us straight to their stronghold where we rip those scumbags right out of their cradles.

"Once we reach the passage," he continued, "you'll divide into two strike teams. Victor," he gestured toward the hooded newcomer, "You and I will lead the Blades."

Kefir halted and stared directly across the group at her. Siv turned to spit on the ground, and matched his stare with equal contempt. Ye needed to know what I thought of your barefaced attempt at convincing me to lead these idiots into battle? There, ye have it, she wanted to say, but held her tongue.

Each man looked to one another, murmurs of confusion and indecision cropping up among them, but only Siv dared shun the captain's smolder, crossing her arms and looking away in defiance. Her gaze fell opposite on two narrow black slots regarding her at length before the figure canted his massive helm toward their group. Glancing sidelong, she noticed all eyes had settled on them, being the only two people standing at the rear. Her expression soured, and she tilted her head forward to glare upward at the Blades Captain.

Kefir's angry look turned smug as a man's who had just broken his champion war steed.

"Ych," she muttered, but the captain neither noticed nor cared.

"You, and you," he announced, motioning first toward the helmeted figure, and then Siv. "You're both in charge of the mercs. First group to bring me the orc leader's head will receive a bonus when this mission is over.

"Drakryvon," he said, pointing directly at her. "Come see me for your stipend after we break camp. The rest of you get paid when every last one of those brutes is dead."

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Chapter Two

Attack at Blood Fang Caves.

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The story begins...

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Mystery has its own mystery, and their are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs. That is what's known as infinity.

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Ruyn

Ruyn by Sylwyn

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Old Forest Road

Old Forest Road by RolePlayGateway

The north road.

Eytherghymn

Eytherghymn by RolePlayGateway

It is a forest.

Imperial City

Imperial City by RolePlayGateway

Home to many citizens,

Blood Fang Caves

Blood Fang Caves by Sylwyn

The only good orc is dead one.

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View All » Add Character » 15 Characters to follow in this universe

Character Portrait: Fade
Character Portrait: Anael
Character Portrait: Siv Drakryttare
Character Portrait: Karem Altan
Character Portrait: Sennex
Character Portrait: Sylwyn Aleanraheal
Character Portrait: Lee Onnuson

Newest

Character Portrait: Lee Onnuson
Lee Onnuson

"You know who's going to inherit the earth? Arms dealers. Because everyone else is too busy killing each other." - From Lord of War

Character Portrait: Sylwyn Aleanraheal
Sylwyn Aleanraheal

All that, to us, seems an exception, is really according to order.

Character Portrait: Sennex
Sennex

Honor before glory.

Character Portrait: Karem Altan
Karem Altan

"Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry."

Character Portrait: Siv Drakryttare
Siv Drakryttare

Either conquer, or die.

Character Portrait: Anael
Anael

All God's angels come to us disguised.

Character Portrait: Fade
Fade

It is not our darkness, but our light, which most frightens us.

Trending

Character Portrait: Siv Drakryttare
Siv Drakryttare

Either conquer, or die.

Character Portrait: Anael
Anael

All God's angels come to us disguised.

Character Portrait: Lee Onnuson
Lee Onnuson

"You know who's going to inherit the earth? Arms dealers. Because everyone else is too busy killing each other." - From Lord of War

Character Portrait: Karem Altan
Karem Altan

"Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry."

Character Portrait: Sylwyn Aleanraheal
Sylwyn Aleanraheal

All that, to us, seems an exception, is really according to order.

Character Portrait: Fade
Fade

It is not our darkness, but our light, which most frightens us.

Character Portrait: Sennex
Sennex

Honor before glory.

Most Followed

Character Portrait: Fade
Fade

It is not our darkness, but our light, which most frightens us.

Character Portrait: Anael
Anael

All God's angels come to us disguised.

Character Portrait: Sylwyn Aleanraheal
Sylwyn Aleanraheal

All that, to us, seems an exception, is really according to order.

Character Portrait: Karem Altan
Karem Altan

"Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry."

Character Portrait: Siv Drakryttare
Siv Drakryttare

Either conquer, or die.

Character Portrait: Lee Onnuson
Lee Onnuson

"You know who's going to inherit the earth? Arms dealers. Because everyone else is too busy killing each other." - From Lord of War

Character Portrait: Sennex
Sennex

Honor before glory.


View All » Places

Ruyn

Ruyn by Sylwyn

None

Old Forest Road

Old Forest Road by RolePlayGateway

The north road.

Eytherghymn

Eytherghymn by RolePlayGateway

It is a forest.

Imperial City

Imperial City by RolePlayGateway

Home to many citizens,

Blood Fang Caves

Blood Fang Caves by Sylwyn

The only good orc is dead one.

Eytherghymn

Ruyn Eytherghymn Owner: RolePlayGateway

It is a forest.

Imperial City

Ruyn Imperial City Owner: RolePlayGateway

Home to many citizens,

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