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The Gift: Chapter Three

The Gift: Chapter Three

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With gods long dead, dragons razing the earth, and mortals turning on one another at every opportunity, you must help shape the destiny of this dying world.

5,108 readers have visited The Gift: Chapter Three since Smith created it.

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Introduction

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I grow weary. Weary of war. Death. Violence. This world was once one of absolutes, a realm of black and white; the twin bloodlines, the Primah, and the Civee, so very different yet the same in ways most choose not to acknowledge. I saw the beginning of the War...when the last of the Gods descended from the heavens to bear a message. With his final breath, the god bestowed upon us the knowledge of a gift...The Gift. A single mote of force that would allow any who acquired it to wield the power of a deity. In their absence, the gods required a successor of sorts to preside over the mortal realm. Of course...there was a catch. There always is...

The Civee and the Primah were to battle until only one bloodline remained. Only then would The Gift make itself known, and only then could it be claimed. For years we clashed. Battle after battle, death on a scale unknown to Norr for millenia. Just when it seemed the Primah claimed the upper hand, a third bloodline played their hand. An ancient and forgotten race thought long dead by the inhabitants of Norr arose from hiding to lay waste to both Primah and Civee alike, destruction without discrimination. The dragons, their number replenished and power undiminished by the ages, quickly claimed supremacy among the now three bloodlines and began its campaign towards eradicating the Primah and Civee, and claiming The Gift for their own.

Fielding armies of fanatical traitors, the dragons had us in numbers and strength. With the dragons wielding magic that could destroy an entire race given enough time, Slaying Spells they were deemed, the mortals stood little chance against this new threat. Suffice to say, we did not simply take it lying down. An alliance of necessity, the two lesser bloodlines banded together in order to combat the seemingly unstoppable dragons. Eventually we drove them back, to the point where the alliance and the dragons were on equal footing. Indeed, we, the mortals, gained ground and had the advantage before history would repeat itself.

The deep human, Nhil Derenthi, a key component in the alliance of the mortal races, led a coup against other members of the alliance. More specifically, the Primah members. Over the course of decades, general Derenthi depleted the manpower of the Primah. Given their natural strength and tenacity, it was not hard to justify placing them on the front lines en masse. When they were sufficiently diminished, Nhil amassed the Civee forces under his control and suddenly, violently crushed the Primah that had grown to trust their Civee allies. One would think them weakened by this event, but Nhil, along with his second, a halfling wizard by the name of Miralight, enacted a massive ritual that would raise the Primah slain by its coup as undead minions. Nhil and his army are stronger than ever.

Now, we come to this. Norr is an abomination, a ruinously clouded pool that gives no clear reflection. So many factions vie for power that I fear The Gift has been forgotten in the chaos of war. Nhil and his undying army. The dragons, emboldened by the death of the alliance. The remnants of the Primah, struggling to survive. One does give me hope, however. A small band of like-minded individuals, members of the Primah and Civee, as well as a few dragons, have allied themselves with one purpose in mind: stop the War. I do not know how long they will last, making enemies of every other faction...I do not know who you stand with, nor what values you hold, but please know that I am sorry. Please. End this. Fortune favors the foolish. I would know.

-Final Memoir of Shokunen Helvaras, King of the Lamian Kingdoms before the reckoning of the Fourth Slaying Spell




Hiya! Welcome to the third installment of The Gift, a fantasy roleplay set in the fictional world of Norr. I've tried to make this introduction as "noob-friendly" as possible, but it might still be a bit daunting considering it summarizes not only the original plot but two more roleplays worth of content. Feel free to ask questions and such. There's alot of background information, although much of it is ancillary and not things that the average man or woman would know. Whelp, here we go!



Notable Facts About Norr


Norr is a single, mega-continent that could be likened to Pangea. Lands within Norr include the Ruins of Imperian, a once great country that is now little more than a series of destroyed castles and settlements. Terra is the massive mountain range that divides Norr into eastern and western parts, which is in a state of perpetual battle between factions vying for control of the mineral-rich areas. To the east lies the Ashwood, a massive forest that has been partially burned down, forming a layer of ash that coats the forest floor. To the southwest the Jurial Plains are the most heavily occupied region held by the Civil, housing the majority of Nhil's forces. The last land is at the most southern portion of Norr: Umbridge. A warped jungle of darkness, man-eating plants, and home to the Nightmarians. All throughout Norr, lying underneath is a layer called the Sublands. It is a maze of tunnels and caves that house the deep humans, dark elves and once upon a time, the dwarves.

There are currently four major factions within Norr, two of which are playable: The Paragon, or the Children of Fire. Take your pic!

The Civil-
Leader(s): Nhil Derenthi, Miralight Duff
Territory: The Imperian, The Ashwood
Accepted Races: Humans, Deep Humans, Dark Elves, Elves, Halflings (any Civee bloodline race)
Defining Traits and Dogma: The Civil are slowly becoming the most numerous faction, in part due to Nhil's cunning year-spanning plan to preserve the Civee bloodline, and the fact that he can raise roughly a quarter of those slain in each battle as undead revenants. Having been resurrected in a manner that bound his spirit to that of a dragon and a lich, Nhil's power borders on deific at times and threatens to tear apart his sanity. This shows in his orders that are brutal in the most horrible ways towards members of other factions, especially members of the Primah bloodline.

The Savage-
Leader(s): Illeysa Andracor
Territory: The Jurial Plains
Accepted Races: Orc, Harpy, Nightmarian, Lamia, Gnoll (any Primah bloodline race)
Defining Traits and Dogma: The Savage have been beaten, broken, and betrayed, but they are willful if nothing else. An orc oracle by the name of Illeysa forsaw the coming betrayal brooked by the Civee and prepared her people for the worst. When her prediction came to pass, Illeysa was there to piece the Primah back together. The Savage mostly keep to themselves in the plains, but are steadily regaining strength. While only existing as a mere shadow of its formal self, the Savage is still a force to be reckoned with.

The Children of Fire-
Leader(s): Nihalistrix(female) the Black, Astara(female) the White, and Baelenforethus the Gold (all elder dragons)
Territory: Varies between dragon-lord territories
Accepted Races: All
Defining Traits and Dogma: The Children of Fire are a cult more than anything, led by three ancient dragons of great power. Throughout the ages, these dragons have implanted magical suggestion into many inhabitants of Norr, causing their descendants to throw their lots in with the dragons with a near-crazed fervor. The cultists of the dragons are zealots, one and all, unwavering in their belief that their dragon overlords will lead the mortal races toa new era of prosperity. Through rituals known only by the dragons and their most trusted progeny, the Children of Fire are granted supernatural strength and the ability to summon dragonfire. This, combined with the engines of destruction that are dragons, has kept the Children of Fire at the top of the hill since their founding nearly three decades ago.

The Paragon-
Leader(s): Gurthenemon the Red (former dragon lord), Wrath Liu-Wen
Territory: A small area in Umbridge and part of the Jurial Plains
Accepted Races: All
Defining Traits and Dogma: Easily the smallest of the major factions, the Paragon is a faint echo of what was once the most successful alliance between Primah and Civee the world had ever known. After being left to die by General Derenthi in a major engagement, the army commanded by Wrath Liu-Wen, surviving a suicide run due to the unexpected aid of red dragons, defected from the Legion of Ashes to form their own truly neutral faction. It is unique in that the group is comprised of roughly ten-thousand members of both bloodlines, as well as one-hundred red dragons. Gurthenemon, the leader of the reds, has not yet revealed how exactly he intends to deal with his allies, but Wrath feels that the answer will come soon enough, and it will not be pleasant. The Paragon actively opposes Nhil, the Children of Fire, and takes part in numerous major engagements as saboteurs in order to cripple both sides, forcing retreats.

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Civee Bloodline
Humans

Up until a few years ago, 'endangered' was a word considered synonymous with 'human'. By the graces of Nhil and the rebirth of the Civil, humanity has been gathered and allowed to grow once more. They are more hopeful as a whole now, since the threat of extinction at the hands of the dragons is not such an imminent threat. Humans are diverse in terms of skin color, hair, eyes and personality. The race is relatively short-lived, their lives spanning only around 75-90 years.

Favored Classes: Any

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Civee Bloodline
Elf

Once upon a time the elves were a race of peaceful and frail beings who lived alongside nature and preserved the forests of Norr. What exists of them today could scarcely be likened to the delicate creatures of old. Despite the immediate danger of the dragons overwhelming their lands having passed, the elves are still hard and uncaring as a people. Not lacking in height and muscle, the elves have largely forsaken the refined arts of the arcane for drastically increased martial ability. They now appear to be tall, primal cratures with toned muscle and long, tapered ears usually with brown skin although a few fare-skinned members of the race still exist. They live about 300 to 500 years.

Racial Abilities:
Sense- Higher senses than average, allowing them to track by smell as well as sight, see clearly in dim light and hear minute sounds over longer distances.

Dreamless- By forsaking the dreaming sleep, elves can enter a meditative state in which they gain the same restorative qualities of an eight hour rest in only two, making them excellent sentries.

Favored Classes: Ranger, Berserker, Barbarian and Druid


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Civee Bloodline
Dark Elves

Unlike their pale-skinned cousins and like the lamia, the so-called "darklings" have thrived in the wake of the dragons. In their underground caverns and tunnels, the dark elves were relatively safe from the beasts and their agents. Having forged an alliance with the lamia, they retain a large foothold on economic power and are even more numerous than elves due to the shift in power. Dark Elven skin ranges from black to grey to dark blue, and their hair is generally white. Their eyes on the other hand are warm, bright colors such as red, orange and yellow. As a race, they excel at stealth and the arcane arts. Dark elves usually only live about 600 years, but exceptional specimens have been reported to have survived a millenium.

Racial Abilities:
Dark Sense: Like Deep Humans, a life adapted to the underground has improved Dark Elven night-vision and overall sensory capacity. Rather than an augmented sense of smell, however, Dark Elves have been blessed with extraordinary hearing- the most skilled of them can hear through foot-thick stone walls.

Grip: Like spiders and similar cave-dwelling creatures, Dark Elves can scale sheer rock, hang upside down without much handhold, and perform similar feats of defiance to gravity.

Favored Classes: Warlock, Assassin, Tracker and Mage


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Civee Bloodline
Halfling

Known in more lighthearted times as the cheerful pranksters of Norr, the Halflings as a whole have adapted with characteristic flexibility and hardiness to a world overrun with dragons. These days, they most often make their livings as tradesmen, mercenaries, or assassins. The race as a whole has suffered far less than expected during the rise of the dragons, given their knack for disappearing when things get particularly desperate. Their skin colors are usually normal shades and hair colors range across the full spectrum. Halflings are anatomically identical to humans, only on a smaller scale. The average Halfling stands at a height of roughly three and a half feet and lives 90 to 100 years.

Racial Abilities:
Fearless: Despite their diminutive size (or perhaps because of it), Halflings are a stalwart people, and are immune to all unnatural fear-based effects.

Unfocus: When fighting in a group, Halflings have an instinctive feel for how to move with the rest, blurring the entire mob and making them harder to hit. It works best with other Halflings, but generally, they can blend with groups of soldiers and increase evasiveness with conscious focus.

Favored Classes: Assassin, Ranger, Scout and Mage


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Civee Bloodline
Deep Humans

Subterranean cousins of the surface humans, deep humans are typically shorter, paler, and more nimble, due to a life spent dwelling in caves. Due to their relatively secluded homeland, the race as a whole has survived rather well in the wake of the dragons and is hailed as saviors by the other races of the Civee bloodline due to the acts of Nhil Derenthi in reuniting them once more. Like the similarly-underground dark elves, their hair is most often notably bone-white, and they are comfortable maneuvering in the darkness. The average lifespan of a Deep Human is around 90-150 years.

Racial Abilities:
Deep Sense: Overall, Deep Humans have a better set of senses than their surfacer brethren, most notably including night-vision and smell.

Fear: During battle, a Deep Human can induce a state of supernatural fear in most any enemy. The effect lasts only for a few seconds, but it is nearly totally paralyzing.

Favored Classes: Mage, Spellblade, Rogue and Warlock


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Primah Bloodline
Orc

Typically yellowish-green in color and between six and a half and eight feet tall, the muscular build of an orc is rarely mistaken for anything else. Since the coming of the dragons, orcs have been forced to either cloister in large religious groups, often led by shamanic figures, or make their way in small groups, hiring out for physical jobs such as guards and raiders. Their average lifespans match that of a human, though you will find few orcs with a desire to die peacefully in their sleep.

Racial Abilities:
Sense: The orcish sense of smell is particularly acute, meaning that they don't need light to navigate.

Cold Rage: By severing nearly every normal nervous connection in the body as well as several hormone glands and utilizing a second set of internal wiring, orcs can negate any sense of feeling or touch and rationalize every move in the heat of battle effectively making themselves the perfect warrior for a roughly a minute, reusable once every hour. The process is draining and leaves the user vulnerable for a while afterwards.

Favored Classes: Shaman, Hunter, Warrior and Cleric


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Primah Bloodline
Harpy

A feral species that combines the fury and predatory flare of avians with the cunning of humanoids. Locked in a near-constant war for control of territory with the dragons, harpies have begun to enslave the rare males of their race to be used as tools for breeding. Due to this new practice the harpy population would have exploded, were not their numbers being depleted nearly as fast as new members of the race are born. Harpies generally appear to be females with wings sprouting from their backs or the edges of their arms as well as cruelly taloned hands and feet. Plumage varies based on region, and skin colors are just as diverse as that of mankind. Those who forsake the pointless struggles for territory usually end up as mercenaries or bandits, each reknown for their skill with the bow while in flight. Harpies grow excessively fast, maturing at the age of six months and can live up to 200 years, the oldest known harpy only being a century old due to their previous infighting.

Racial Abilities:
Raptor Instinct- Smell, hearing and mainly sight are drastically superior to that of humans. They can spot prey from miles away on a clear day.

Jet Stream- By compacting the fibers of their wings, they can dive at extremely high speeds to capture prey completely unaware with great force or escape superior-positioned foes.

Favored Classes: Archer, Scout, Warrior, and Witch-Doctor


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Primah Bloodline
Nightmarian

Of all the remaining races, the insectoid Nightmarians are least-often seen outside the blackened forest that is their ancestral home. Called Umbridge, the dark wood houses Ecclavaria, the great hive-city. Nightmarian society is rigidly caste-based, and almost every citizen is bound with powerful psionics to serve the Queen. At the bottom of the social hierarchy are the laboring castes, sturdy but short lived, such as ants and beetles. At the top are the noble mantises, butterflies, dragonflies, and spiders. The higher castes are very long-lived, and multiple times stronger than the average human. Nightmarians are varied in skills, though all are universally resistant to arcane magic.

Racial Abilities:
Arc Shell: Nightmarians are encased in a powerful exoskeleton that also makes them inherently resistant to arcane magics.

Tremor Sense: Through sensory organs on the neck or antennae, Nightmarians can sense movement in their immediate proximity. This is a highly-tuned ability, able to read an entire three-hundred and sixty degree radius when sufficient focus is given to it.

Favored Classes: Fighter, Guardian, Mage and Psionicist

Non-Playable Races


Primah Bloodline
Lamia

Reason: A seductive and charismatic people, lamia resemble lovely humans or elves from the waist up, with massive ophidian tails from the waist down with scales of beautiful prismatic colors. Due to the recent advent of the Fourth Slaying Spell, the lamia have sequestered themselves within their lands, frantically searching for some sort of way to stop the arcane genocide before it is too late. The first to perish among the race were the members of the royal family. Among them, their king, Shokunen Helvaras still hangs on to life by a thread through means of a magically-induced stasis. Despite the slaying spell having done minimal damage as of yet, without a cure, the casualties will begin to increase at an exponential rate.

Primah Bloodline
Minotaur

Reason: Statuesque humanoids resembling bulls and oxen, the minotaur were once the go-to footsoldiers of the Primah alongside orcs. Five years ago, the Third Slaying Spell finished ravaging the minotaur population. Only two minotaur remain, one protected by powerful druidic wards, the other the novel prize of Nihalistrix the Black.

Primah Bloodline
Goblin

Reason: Shifty and sly, the goblins were the merchants and spies of the Primah long ago. When the dragons activated the Second Slaying Spell, these poor little creatures were the unfortunate targets. Diminutive, with green or gray skin and upturned noses, the goblins were the sworn enemies of the halflings.

Primah Bloodline
Gnoll

Reason: The gnolls are a race of canine humanoids, usually sporting thick fur, and a lupine muzzle. Unlike most other 'destroyed' races, the magical assault upon the gnolls was much more insidious than mere genocide. In the lapse between the casting of slaying spells, the green dragon Italamaendar was overrun and slain by a massive army of gnolls. Noting the threat early on, the other dragon lords gathered their combined arcane power to cast an alternative spell: one that would reduce the gnolls to gibbering, cannibalistic fiends. To this day, gnolls are little more than flesh-hungry brigands preying on any sentient creature they can find with little to no organization.

Civee Bloodline
Dwarves and Iron Dwarves

Reason: Once the stout, honor-bound defenders of the Civee, the dwarves and their cousins of the ore were the very first races targeted by the dragons and their slaying spells. Not knowing the extent of their power, the dragons overexerted themselves and ensured the destruction of not only one race, but the sub-race as well. This left the dragons too weak to do much of anything for a period of months afterwards, and such a powerful slaying would never be attempted again.

Code: Select all
[b]NOTE:[/b] All of you will be starting at a fairly normal level of combat or magical power. Normal. So no massive firestorms at the drop of a pin or being a bad-ass blur of steel in the first battle.

In Description...
[b]Full Name:[/b]

[b]Age:[/b] (at least 18)

[b]Gender:[/b] (...duh)

[b]Race:[/b] (Keep in mind which races are extinct/non-playable!!)

[b]Class:[/b] (a general synopsis of your abilities, such as Spy, Warrior or Wizard)

[b]Physical Description:[/b] (Can be a description, picture or both)

In Personality...
Most of this section is optional. You can make up your character's personality right now, or develop it as the roleplay progresses.

Not optional:
[b]Faction:[/b] (You may choose between two starting factions: The Paragon, or the Children of Fire. If you start as a member of the Paragon, you are most likely a soldier and have access to slightly higher grade equipment than normal, but you could also be a raw recruit. A a member of the Children of Fire, you MUST begin as an initiate; you could have been anything, a soldier, a farmer, even a kid in your past life, but soon you will be a member of the children of the dragons. As such, you will have a somewhat fanatical devotion towards the dragons)

Moral Alignment: (Your faction is independent of your alignment. A Child of Fire could be good, because they believe what they are fighting for is right and show mercy when appropriate. A soldier of the Paragon could be a cruel thug that pillages and rapes while crushing the oppressive factions. These Alignments are Good, Neutral, Evil, Chaotic Good/Neutral/Evil, Lawful Good/Neutral/Evil)

In Equipment...
[b]Starting Armor:[/b] (The clothing or armor you begin with)

[b]Starting Weaponry:[/b] (The weapons you begin with)

[b]Fighting Style:[/b] (How does your character engage in combat? Hand-to-hand? General soldier training with martial weapons? Slinging spells like a spaz?)

[b]Weapon of Choice:[/b] (What weapon or lack there of is your character most proficient with? This can be a type of weapon, or a specific category of spell, such as frost or nature)

[b]Other:[/b] (This includes travelling provisions, poisons and the like)

In History...
Just some basic background information. Most of you were probably born during all of these wars, so a bunch of tragedy is to be expected.


Feel free to check out the previous chapters for more information or if it just strikes yer fancy~
Chapter One: roleplay/the-gift/
Chapter Two: roleplay/the-gift-chapter-two/

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The Paragon

Kelem Prison, Mess Hall


The prison looked to be in a riot.

As Wrath and his guard descended the stairs, a man tossed from somewhere high above crashed into the ground before them, loosed a wordless scream and scrambled to his feet before anyone could even begin to fathom how he had not been injured by such a fall. Lucky for him, as Xeron was about to blast his head off in a rather violent manner. Staring after the clearly insane man, Sid grinned in a way only a halfling could in such a situation and nudged Wrath in the thigh.

"Looks fun." she said, undoing the straps on both of the hand crossbows at her waist. The remaining five members of their unit brandished pikes and shortswords. The other prisoners in the charnel house that the mess hall had become were beginning to notice the soldiers amassing at the entrances and were already turning their aggression towards these new targets. Most were bare-chested and wielded only chair-legs broken off at the base and shanks made of whatever material they could salvage, but a few of them were waving around maces and clubs newly acquired from the previous jailers; none of them were free of bloodstains, most likely those of the jailers and other staff.

Wrath spit and drew his twin-hooks with a flourish, rousing the air around him. Several blackgard--golems, from the previous war--were wading into the crowd of lunatics with their ponderous gait, pummeling those who did not have the sense to avoid their swinging fists. Many others were advancing on the fleshier targets, however, and Wrath's unit charged in to battle. The commander looked to Xeron and nodded. The operation had begun in earnest, although Wrath was sure that things had already started heating up on other fronts.

Xeron, the scarred dark elf, smirked and raised two fingers to his temple. A mental connection was formed with every member of the Paragon within roughly two miles, allowing his inner voice to be heard as if he were standing right beside them.

The operation is under way. Weapons free. Finding surviving staff and Paragon soldiers is priority one; containment is a secondary objective. Only engage if no other option presents itself. there was a slight break in the message before Xeron resumed, Commander Liu-Wen wants to remind you that many of these men and women are ex-military. Trained killers. Be careful. Also, hello, my little fairy. this last part was drenched in sickeningly sweet expression that only one particular nightmarian would understand.

When the connection was severed, Xeron gave a slight nod and steeled himself for battle. Wrath scowled at the absurdity of it all. I had some promising soldiers guarding a prison complex to the south, Gurthenemon had said with a smile full of fangs, It appears as if someone has broken into the complex and set a great deal of the convicts free. I would like you to rescue my men, and yours, should you so desire.

Wrath spit again as he bounded forward to meet the crazed rush of an emaciated orc. Dead gods all, he hated that reptile.


Kelem Prison, Upper Halls

Alright you lot, fall in!" she roared with enthusiasm, waving her troop forward. Clad in midnight robes and sporting dark chainmail beneath, Beelzes looked the part of a powerful warlock. Inky tattoos rippled along the pale flesh of the deep human, just out of sight below her hair. She point to a sleek nightmarian sporting a wicked set of claws. "You there! Bug! I'd like you at the front! You seem eager!"

Seemingly oblivious to the small horde of prisoners stampeding down the wide corridor towards her and her group, Beelzes went on to indicate a pair of odd-looking orcs and shoved a thumb back towards the advancing prisoners. "You two as well. You greenskins are always good for taking punishment! Well, don't just stand there! I mean, we can just stand here and gawk..."

With a flick of her wrist and a word of infernal power, a spectral blade of the deepest black appeared before the enemy. Without so much as glancing behind her, Beelzes commanded the magical weapon to swing in an arc that decapitated four of the psychopaths, giving the other seven pause. A faint smile graced the deep human's lips as she donned a pair of tinted eyeglasses. "But sometimes, you need a sharp blade to get a head. Get it? Ahead. A head?"

Cackling and snorting at her own pun, the warlock dashed behind her squad to put bodies between herself and the enemy. "Attack!"


Kelem Prison, Courtyard

Musanthiss descended a bit lower and spread his wings wider to slow his great bulk. The red dragon was observing the battle with some interest, pleased to see that the human had organized his men with such efficiency. The Paragon soldiers were slowly beating back the escapees and had already rescued most of the hostages. That is to say, those that were sure to survive, which was not many.

In the center of the courtyard was the largest knot of combat. Thanaros, the half-orc, led an orderly formation against the unrelenting tide of prisoners. Musanthiss grinned as he watched the black-clad legionnaires scythe the insane mortals like a blade through wheat. Despite there being roughly two-thousand prisoners in the complex, Wrath and his men were doing exceptionally well with their one-thousand soldiers. Musanthiss feared his intervention was not needed after all.

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Kel'Arrak Sawtooth, Blood of the Fallen Kings burst into the prison at a full on sprint, moving as fast as a deer running downhill, and swung a fist into a rioting orc, as he entered the brawl, sending the unlucky fellow into a wall where he crashed with the sickening crunch of bone. Kel grinned, a low rumbling growl of a laugh emanating from his throat at the sound. The noise swiftly turned into a real growl however, as the sound of a guards tortured shriek reached Kel's ears. Planting his feet, Kel sucked in a massive lung full of air, and leaned forward as he bellowed an unfeasibly loud roar, a noise like that of a massive enraged dire bear, a noise that sends fear trickling down the backs of even strong men. It was the noise of a predator so terrible, so fearsome, that it caused an ancestral level of terror to quake through all those in earshot.

Immediately, in the following silence, before any could regain their wits, four orcs darted past Kel, his personal retainer, and best four soldiers. They swiftly dispatched those around the guard, rendering them unconscious without killing them, though they were not much gentler than Kel themselves. Kel told three of them to take a whiff of the guards uniform, and track down as many others as they could with the scent, and sent the last to carry the wounded guard back to safety, before heading back in with whatever recruits he could find to carry back the findings of the others.

His men set with tasks, the official Paragon mission, to save the guards, priority number one, Kel was free to focus on the more interesting tasks himself. Namely, finding the dangerous prisoners and dispatching them. There would be no leniency from Kel in this mission. Maybe they were supposed to avoid engagement if possible, but Kel could feel the call of the hunt coming over him. Baring his teeth, he loosed another roar, and set off into the prison.

Circling far above, one of Kel'Arrak's familiars, the hunting falcon Talonblade, spotted a face familiar to he and Kel, a Nightmarian mercenary, with broad shoulders, and a massive hulking frame from which his pincered hands hung on the end of long arms, all covered in the dark chitonous armor natural to his kind. Talonblade changed his trajectory, tracking the Nightmarian, and calling for Kel with a loud cry. Kel swiftly made his way to Talonblade, following the noise and watching the sky. Soon he had zeroed in on Talonblade, and saw why he had called. The prey was free of the building complex now, running over a long open stretch of land for the cover of trees. Kel leapt of the roof, landing lightly, and chasing after his quarry.

They had faced the mercenary before on their travels. He'd been a guard at the time, for a rich human who'd enslaved a great number of orcs, many of which had been members of Kel's tribe. Kel had faced him down as they were freeing the prisoners, and giving him a scar he'd never forget. Funny how life worked, Kel thought, aware of the irony of the situation. He could smell the bastard now, he was closing in. He could have loosed an arrow after him, but the chitonous armor might prevent the bolt from doing enough damage to stop him, and besides Kel wanted to end this close and personal. The Nightmarian scum had been a part of the subjugation of his people, and later after he had freed them, he had heard horrible tales of what the monster had done to them. The blood of Kel'Arrak Sawtooth's tribe was on that scum's hands, and he would pay for it.

Sliding his knives out of their sheaths at the small of his back, and putting on a last burst of speed that left Kel moving at a blur that the eye could barely follow, he closed in on his prey. The Nightmarian noticed him at the last instant, and tried to turn to fight. But it was too late, Kel's arms encircled the hulking brute, pinning his lethal claw ended arms to his side, and driving his blades through his natural armor, and deep into his chest. The Nightmarian mercenary stumbled, and fell, Kel's arms still encircling him, as he kneeled with the falling enemy, in an embrace of death.

"This is what comes to those who harm my people." Kel growled in the beasts face in a rough and feral tone. "For I am their guardian, and their avenger. Fall now, filthy soul, and let the earth reclaim your empty husk."

Rising, Kel grinned with satisfaction as the last shivers of life left his foe's body. Whistling in appreciation at Talonblade, Kel turned and headed back into the riot, to see how his men where getting on, and what he could do to help. He could taste blood in his mouth now though, he could feel it on his hands. The hunt was on, and pity the prey that captures this hunter's eye.

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The Children of Fire
Outside the Tower of Nihalistrix the Black


The morning was still, moreso than most would expect. Then again, this close to the abominable Tower, even the woodland creatures knew to fear the wrath of the unholy mistress within. The only sound that punctuated the silence was the occasional staccato scuff of Feng’s curious wooden footwear on the roughened stone of the pathway. He’d been traveling for scarcely thirty minutes, but registered dimly somewhere that it would take twice as long to get back, given that he’d have new recruits in tow. The knowledge made him… irritated? No, bored. Same scenery twice. Monotonous.

Blinking lazily, he slowed from the reckless breakneck pace of his sprint into the ordinary shuffling of a casual stroll, just in enough time to crest a hill and peer downwards, only half-seeing what was there. Not as many. Supposed to be hundred. Wait- the others were somewhere else, someone had said something like that. Unimportant.

Approaching the group, he simply stood before them until such time as everyone had ceased their chatter and taken to looking at him, either in perplexity, patience, or exasperation. There was something… he was supposed to do something here. Frowning slightly, he slipped his arms into his sleeves in front of him and rocked back and forth on his heels for a good few minutes before it came to him.

“Follow me.”

With this minimal pronouncement, Feng turned abruptly and picked up a brisk jog. Someone had been specific about this. Triple march pace. For him, this was not at all difficult, but he was vaguely aware that such conditions were generally considered unfavorable. The road itself was slick with yesterday’s rain, and tough footing, but Feng moved with deceptive ease across it, no warning in his demeanor of what the unwary would discover soon enough on their own. For those who knew anything of the way the Children were organized in hierarchy, the iron-grey trim about his sleeves would have been enough to stay any protest at his mannerisms. In the ranks of Nihalistrix the Black, the closer an officer’s stripes to the ebony of her own hide, the more authority they wielded.


The Tower


The triple-time march concluded approximately an hour later, though their destination was visible from the very start. A stark white spire, thirty stories tall and miles wide, jutted from the ground to challenge the skyline with a haughty arrogance matched only, perhaps, by the Dragon Lord who called it headquarters.

Nihalistrix sat atop a throne-mound of bleached white bones, watching the proceedings of those beneath her like so many ants scurrying to and fro. Ah, her darling Children. Spotting precisely the one she’d been looking for, a good score of assorted recruits behind him, she rumbled low in her throat, a pleased humming sound that signaled one of her shadows, her precious Thanes, to detach from her side and stride forward. The woman, elven in descent and lovely, with thick sheets of hair in the dragon’s favorite color, approached the group without excessive haste. The strange one bowed at the waist, and stepped backwards to allow Ethne to speak.

“Greetings,” she offered in smooth tones, casting a rather unimpressed eye over those assembled. “And welcome to the Tower. From the moment you entered this place, you pledged your life and your service to the Great Mistress of us all, Nihalistrix. It is now for us, her lieutenants, to see if you are worthy of making such a promise. In the next room, you will be stripped of everything you own and given the robes of an initiate. Don them, and select what weapons you will from those provided. After that, you will follow Captain Tao, who will explain your initiation rites.” A smile, slow and predatory, crossed her face, but lingered for only the most fleeting of moments. “Please the Lady, and you will be allowed to join the One True Army, and become the arm of her will. See to it that you do.”


While the recruits were ushered into the vestry and outfitted with their new robes and weapons, Ethne returned to Nihialistrix’s side, carrying the dossier she’d received from Feng. “You wished to know of these, my Lady?” There was a slight shift, and the unfathomable obsidian disc that was the dragon’s left eye moved to fix upon the Thane, who couldn’t help the shiver that coursed down her spine. One never did get used to that. Bowing her head, the tall woman began to recite.

“Pylarea. Nightmarian moth, psionicist. Safir Garethson. Human knight.” It was something of an effort, but Ethne managed to keep the disdain out of her voice upon the word “human.” Her own opinions on the matter were well-known, but she knew better than to infuse them into her reports. “Corinne Shorebas, halfling artificer. Jivven Noda’Razzr. Dark elven shadowdancer.” Hmph. She hadn’t seen anyone with the actual skill in over a century, but this too was extraneous. “Vortigern Weylin. Elven berserker. Zulii Ma’kaurubaen Sleekfeathers. Harpy… witch-doctor.” Ethne’s lips twisted in a knowing little smirk; spellcasters were in for a different experience than the ordinary Child of Fire, and it was not at all pleasant.

The list continued, and even as the last syllable passed Ethne’s tongue, she observed from the corner of her eye that Feng was entering the vestry. The time moved apace, then.


Feng glanced over the assembled, now uniformly garbed in pristine, unmarked white robes. Blinking slowly, he tilted his head to one side. This time, though, his words were relatively immediate. “I am Captain Feng Tao. If you survive, you will be initiates of the Aesr. Units are named for… hatchlings. Leave all of your old things here. If you have need of it, it will be replaced. Initiates are not permitted the prejudices, stigmas, and remnants of what they were before.” Certain he’d said all he needed to, he once again turned, this time leading them out a separate door, which opened into a narrow stone staircase. This, he followed downwards for quite a distance before turning and opening a set of double-doors, fitted seamlessly into the bright stone of the walls.

The doors emptied the initiates into a large, elliptical stone bowl, the floor of which was covered with soil, fresh from outdoors if the scent was anything to go by. Through three identical sets of doors, more initiates entered, all also clad in unmarked white and carrying durable, plain weaponry. Looking up, it became obvious that Nihalistrix and her Thanes had moved from their previous location, as all were now near the lip of the arena. There was a glint of malicious amusement in the ebon creature, though the initiates below would be hard-pressed to hold her gaze long enough to tell. Ethne appeared once again at her side, even the tall elf dwarfed by the Dragon Lord’s foot beside her.

“Initiates: there are those among you who will form a unit beneath the honorable Aesr. Two hundred of you stand before me. Fifty of you will leave this arena alive. Attempting to escape is… inadvisable.” There was a low, rasping rumble from behind her that seemed to fill the entire room, and the sharp would perhaps be able to guess that it was draconian laughter. “Captain Tao will remain in the arena with you, but attacking him is also inadvisable, unless you wish for your own death.” Her tone suggested that it was not impossible that they soon would. “If at any time he approaches you, do as he says. Now. Begin.”

At the final word, the barred gates on either end of the arena cranked open, and at first there was naught but a chilling silence in their wake. Then, the shuffling and howls began, and it was not long before the gnolls were pouring into the space. Once a civilized, lupine race of Norr, these had clearly been driven from their minds, reverting to something more animal than humanoid. They did not hesitate, ripping at once into the nearest initiates with extreme prejudice, and in short order, the fresh earth was drenched in blood.



The Paragon
Kelem Prison


Hmph. That damned red says jump, and the whelp asks how high. Neira shook her head slightly, causing her lieutenant to shoot her an aside glance, but the man, an old soldier by orcish standards, was smart enough not to ask. In silence, she waved a hand in a lazy gesture, and her unit formed up behind her. Much like Neira herself, her battalion served multiple combat purposes as needed, but today they were there to soak up damage and draw away the riots and the worst of the criminals so that the others could more precisely extract the people they looked for.

Presently, they awaited the signal to move, and it was not long in coming. She felt the tickle at the edge of her consciousness, and opened her mind to the link. Not something she particularly enjoyed, but a necessity. Xeron’s mental instructions were passed to everyone, and so there was no need to repeat them, though she did chuckle to herself at the footnote. How unprofessional of you, she replied, though only to him.

Turning, she nodded to Karthak, and as one, her group moved, fanning out and making as much of a distraction of themselves as possible, though not quite so much that the gambit would be obvious. The smell of steel was on the air already, and she inhaled of it deeply and grinned.

Some things never changed.

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#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

This day looked to be shaping up terribly. Pylarea was still rather disoriented as the odd-mannered human came meandering along before the group. They were a heterogeneous lot to say the least, there not being much similarity between any two of them besides species maybe, but the one thing that tied them together right now was a willingness to join the Children of Fire, well that and sleepiness. The Nightmarian had considered it somewhat rude for them to be roused up at such a dismally early time in the morning as they had been, but she had to keep remembering this was not Ecclavaria and as such strangers to Nightmarian society were unaccustomed to certain...niceties as she herself was. Not that the past few weeks had not been a major eye-opener for the sheltered woman, after all life outside Umbridge was nothing like she would have imagined, but at the same time she was terrified and appalled she also felt elated and fascinated at what this world had to offer. Why did it have to be so early though?

Oh dear! The poor thing had dozed off on accident, or near enough to be startled when a burly fellow roughly brushed passed her, nearly knocking the poor moth off of her feet had she not taken a quick step in the process! The next thing she knew everyone was trotting off rather quickly, but why? Those rude fellows earlier had not been very clear earlier as to why they should get up, just hurry up, don’t ask questions, and be quick about it! Did no one teach proper mannerisms outside of civilized Nigthmarian society? Too late now though, and she was already starting to fall behind. Why were they running so fast? Were they late? Apparently she was not the only curious fellow amongst the pack oh she never heard anyone complain aloud, but she could hear their thoughts, most of them were as tired as she was, and just as confused. Hopefully they would quit running soon because she was not sure how long she could keep up at this pace. Was that man from earlier a machine or just insane?
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The jog, what was she talking about, the dead-paced sprint seemed to last an eternity, despite her fortitude as a Nightmarian of an Upper Class Pylarea was uncertain whether she could manage this pace much longer, but it’s not like she did much running about in Ecclavaria, so there’s that factor to consider… What did keep her going were two things in particular the enormous white spire, and everyone else’s thoughts. She knew when they reached the tower itself that their initiation ritual would begin, sometime at least, and she could finally consider herself a Child of Fire, Breaker of Bonds, and Saviour to the Races! A wet, filthy, and exhausted Child of Fire that is… She was, simply put, in an awful state of being for the moment, and…My skirt! It was dreadful! Her precious skirt, the new one she had finished knitting just two days ago, was splattered with mud and torn down the side! She could never mend this with the little bit of hair she had left, it had taken quite a bit just to finish the skirt and two days did not allow for much to grow back.

Oh no, not again! Why was she always drifting off to la-la land whenever someone decided to speak and tell them to go somewhere? Maybe it was the years of merely acquiescing to whatever may be asked no matter what it could be that had engrained this kind of attitude in her psyche, or even…Before that though could go any farther a heavy hand shoved her towards smaller room where everyone was…taking off their clothes! What was going on here?!?! Oh wait…there were initiates robes and weapons waiting for them. That was when she decided to tune in on the thought wave again. Yes, de-robe, leave everything you owned there, re-robe, and pick up a weapon of some kind. Weapons, wait what kind of initiation was this? It was definitely time for her to pay attention, especially since she was not all the well-trained, well actually not trained at all, with any kind of weapon…whatsoever. Hey there was that funny-acting human again!

“I am Captain Feng Tao. If you survive, you will be initiates of the Aesr. Units are named for… hatchlings. Leave all of your old things here. If you have need of it, it will be replaced. Initiates are not permitted the prejudices, stigmas, and remnants of what they were before.”

After making his spiel the man, no Captain Tao, proceeded to lead their small group out of the room for some ways. For a human he was not all that ugly, and despite the rumours she had heard concerning the race she was not completely disgusted by his appearance. Had he not said that they were not allowed the prejudices and stigmas from their past? See things were already looking better for her life outside of Ecclavaria! That was until she noticed her group had come to a stop in the midst of an arena with three other robe-clad initiates carrying…Oh dear me, why did I have to do this today of all days?…weapons, of which she had forgotten to grab one of her own. This day looked to be shaping up terribly. There was that woman from earlier with Nihalistrix, she had been near enough oblivious to the duo, a rather difficult feat for anyone to do with a dragon lord in their midst, much less someone who had never really seen a dragon before.

“Initiates: there are those among you who will form a unit beneath the honourable Aesr. Two hundred of you stand before me. Fifty of you will leave this arena alive. Attempting to escape is… inadvisable. Captain Tao will remain in the arena with you, but attacking him is also inadvisable, unless you wish for your own death. If at any time he approaches you, do as he says. Now. Begin.”

(Kuro)At the final word, the barred gates on either end of the arena cranked open, and at first there was naught but a chilling silence in their wake. Then, the shuffling and howls began, and it was not long before the gnolls were pouring into the space. Once a civilized, lupine race of Norr, these had clearly been driven from their minds, reverting to something more animal than humanoid. They did not hesitate, ripping at once into the nearest initiates with extreme prejudice, and in short order, the fresh earth was drenched in blood. (Kuro)

Luckily Pylarea had somehow shuffled more into the centre of the group, away from the immediate danger of being slaughtered by gnoll, at least until the group split up, and she was in a much more conspicuous and much less benign locale. What was she supposed to do? She had never needed to fight before, and this seemed like a little too much to just join some silly little army! She couldn’t just sit down and cry though, even though she wanted to do so badly, there had to be…wait Pylarea’s wings began to flutter with a rapidity she had never mustered before, hopefully this would work, she had never tried it on vicious animals though. As the dust from her wings began to disseminate throughout the area surrounding the group around herself she began to chirp loudly while the amethyst cores of her antennae. The particles in the air began to form, more or less, a ring around the individuals with whom she had entered the arena and the colour began to alter to that of the walls surrounding them. Hopefully the beasts outside of her perimeter would be a little too preoccupied and stupid to notice this little parlour trick, hopefully giving the other initiates some time to handle their assailants inside first.

This did nothing to alleviate her weapon-less situation though, and the grim-reality surrounding her had a very detrimental affect upon her. Fellow initiates were still dying, and very quickly she had noticed, but despite the negative connotations involved with such an experience it did denote one thing, there were free weapons lying about. A relatively close short-spear had peaked her interest, but the Nightmarian had forgotten to realize that dead creatures and loose weapons nearby might mean unfriendly, and living, creatures just as close. As the moth-humanoid bent over swiftly to grab the weapon she heard a fierce flurry of paws claw towards her. When she looked up a gnoll, with bloody gristle in its teeth, was rushing towards her, and as it came within five-paces it leapt.

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Jivven Noda'Razzr


"Who ever heard of putting an assassin in white clothes? It's madness!" Jivven said looking down at his new pristine white get-up. The brightness almost made the Dark Elf vomit. Jivven shrugged, resigning to his fate. This is what he wanted, to be a true Child of Fire. He had no one else to blame but himself. Oh, look. The robes were loose too. Jivven began to move his hands back and forth rapidly, causing the robes to billow around him in very... visible display. Dammit, he was a shadowdancer, not a-a... Lightdancer or some other crazy nonsense. Jivven sighed again. At least they were kind enough to allow him a choice of his own weapons.

And a choice he had. There were a number of weapons to choose from. Axes, morning stars, longswords, claymores, maces, it was a variable smorgasbord. Well, it would have been if he had been a straight up warrior instead of a child of the dark. Jivven guffawed at this selection and instead made his way down to where the smaller implements were being held. Daggers, dirks, short-swords, now this was his comfort zone. He pined over the weapons, testing the weight and balance of each. The assassin picked a slender short-sword, a viciously curved dagger, and a set of throwing stars. They weren't his knives, but hey, they'd do in a pinch. He fiddled around in his robes, packing the various implements on his person until at a glance, one couldn't even tell he was armed. Probably a useless sentiment, but old habits die hard. He also snagged a couple of vials of venom and likewise packed them away.

Satisfactorily armed, Jivven made way to where he was indicated, and again, came face to face with the strange deep human Feng. His Captain it seemed. Jivven wasn't too much of a fan of authority, but he knew better at causing a scene. It was a standard necessity in such an organization, he knew this. Still it irked him. He had always been given a certain amount of freedom in his own actions, but if he needed to prove himself in order to rise in the ranks and better himself, then so be it. It was a sacrifice he would make.

He was still deep in his thoughts when they were led to the elliptical bowl of an arena. The first thing that stuck out was the lack of shadows. Well, for him it was. He doubted many others noticed shadows or the lack thereof. But him, it was second nature to scan and find the area with the least amount of light and gravitate towards it. The bowl shape of the arena did not allow for such irregular light patterns. "Shit," Jivven muttered under his breath. First his clothes, then his weapons, now the shadows? What next? His heritage as a Dark Elf? Then Jivven remembered something Captain Feng had said.

"Initiates are not permitted the prejudices, stigmas, and remnants of what they were before."

Oh.

Jivven's head sagged. Right. Well, at least he still had his personality.

“Initiates: there are those among you who will form a unit beneath the honorable Aesr. Two hundred of you stand before me. Fifty of you will leave this arena alive. Attempting to escape is… inadvisable. Captain Tao will remain in the arena with you, but attacking him is also inadvisable, unless you wish for your own death. If at any time he approaches you, do as he says. Now. Begin.”

"Oooh, miss serious ass," Jivven muttered before he could catch himself. He quickly looked around to make sure Feng was out of earshot and then nervously took a step back behind the front line of Initiates. The screech of the opening gates pulled his eyes towards them, and the resulting wave of gnolls startled him. He wasn't the only one, as the Initiates around him likewise flinched or twitched as they readied their weapons. From behind the front line, Jivven watched as the gnolls rapidly descended upon them, their ravenous maws opened to rip into flesh.

Well, Jivven for one was more than happy to comply. He placed a hand on the back of the Initiate in front of him, uttered, "Sorry buddy," before shoving the poor soul into the pack of gnolls while at the same time pushing himself further into the group of Initiates. This stunt drew attention away from him and whittled down the two-hundred strong initiates. In no way was he ordered to fight the gnolls head on, nor to preserve the life of the other hopeful initiates, only survive as one of the fifty. And thus battle began for Jivven, his short sword flashing in his left hand and dagger end-over-end in his right. The battle for survival. And Just like that, the Shadowdancer in white blended seamlessly into the sea of robes.




Liliana Bloodleaf


"You heard the orders, aim for the legs if they try to charge us. If they still try to attack, put one in their arms... If they persist. Their skulls. Fire at will," An elven voice ordered three others. At the end of the sentence, three arrows blew past the elf and embedded themselves into the shins of various prisoners, toppling them. They dragged their way into the cells on either side in order to escape the biting arrows of the small team. The elf nodded approval, her smirk hidden by her raised hood.

Liliana Bloodleaf and three others had made their way into the side of the prison, opting to sweep the narrow corridors instead of participating in the battle proper. After clearing out the side hallways and corridors, she and her squad would make their way to areas with the heaviest fighting and lend support. Her small team, consisting of a human female , male dark elf tracker, and another elf were all equipped and familiar with ranged weapons, yet also carried close-range weapons should the battle close in around them.

The small hallways were perfect for such a small ranged team. The hallways offered little to no protection from a hail of arrows, and the cells off to the side, while could potentially house an inmate poised for an ambush, could be quelled rather quickly by the disciplined quickness of the team. "Right. Let's move forward. Check your corners and the cells, if it holds something other than one of ours, put an arrow in it. Careful of friendly fire, and watch each others backs. I want all of us alive by the end of this," She said, drawing back an arrow herself. They began to move forward as a unit.

This was Lily. Hardened, disciplined, and deadly efficient. A far-cry from what she was years ago. Her eyes no longer glinted with cheer, her voice was even and no longer held a tone of joy and happiness. She was ruthless and bloody, finally living up to her clan's name. Bloodleaf, the hunters of the forest. Well, the battlefield was her forest, and everyone who sought to harm the Paragon her prey, which may as well been everybody.

A twang of a bow string echoed to her right as the dark elf tracker quelled a large orc hoping to get the jump on them. Another twang followed shortly after, this time with a heavy thunk as the arrow punched through the skull. To her left, the human spoke up, "We've got a live one in here," she said. Lily let the arrow in her bow sag and peaked in the cell. The cell door was closed and lock, it's occupant, a lone orc, sitting far in the back of the cell with his knees drawn close to his chest. Lily tugged on the door, but it refused to budge. The orc looked up, shook his head no, and began to rock back and forth. "Leave him," Lily said coldly, "He's safer in there than out here. They'll send someone to retrieve him once we're done mopping up," Lily said, drawing her bowstring again and began to march forward again.

As the team approached a corner, a wave of inmates charged around it and stomped towards them. Without hesitation, a volley of four arrows launched and found their homes among the mass. A reload and another volley was launched. The initial volley was all that it took to demoralize the charge as inmates fell and grabbed their knees and shins, screaming in pain. The second volley only sealed their fate as the inmates that still stood turned tail and ran.

"Cowards..." Lily muttered, "Pursue them so they won't make trouble for the rest of us," She ordered, and the unit picked up speed.

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#, as written by Otowar
"Voices in my head. I didn't sign up for that." Torga thought.

The phrase, "weapon free," rang in his mind. He gritted his teeth and moved his hand away from either of his weapons. As easy as it would be to cut down a hallway full of unarmed hostiles, he would not risk doing anything to upset the order of things. First and foremost, he needed to make sure his people had a place to stay- at least for the time being.

At Beelze's command, Torga took off down the hall in a rapid sprint. He grunted, letting his mind wander. "I can't use weapons, and she gets to decapitate people?" Torga grinned at where his wandering mind had led him. As he closed with the prisoners, he kicked one of the severed heads into the mob. One of them ducked with a squeel, letting it fly over his own head and into the face of another prisoner. Torga met the prisoner who ducked with a wicked punch, his massive bulk providing him the power to produce an audible crack from the poor man's skull. A swift left hook connected with another prisoner, though this one, an orc, seemed to fare better against the strike.

Torga began to withdraw from the crowd of prisoners that began to build from the hallway, barely dodging a retributive strike from the orc he had just hit. He was feeling a bit stifled as convicts piled up, and let loose a mighty stomp. Loose pieces of broken stone infrastructure began to fly through the air, one striking the burly orc prisoner in the head and taking him down for the count. Another few smaller pieces of stone struck nearby prisoners, though none of them seemed to cause any serious injury.

"I could use a little help here!" Torga grunted back towards his allies. He wasn't sure if his terramancy was breaking the rules of engagement, but the hallway wasn't particularly bright, and Beelzes didn't seem like the type to tattle if he broke the rules a bit. She did, after all, behead four of them not but a moment ago. The prisoners began to make swings at Torga; His leather and fur armor absorbed a lot of the damage, but the concussive nature of the strikes left more protection to be desired. He scoffed at the pitiful attacks, and growled into the crowd of prisoners.

"IS THAT ALL YOU'VE GOT?!"

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#, as written by Anansi
As Kel'Arrak rejoined the fray he noticed an Orc Shaman bellowing in defiance at a crowd of escapees. Grinning broadly, he dashed to the older Orc's side, palming the head of a human prisoner and slamming it into the wall before he could reach the shaman. Roaring to be heard over the noise of the riot, he called to the other Orc.

"Greetings brother. I am King Chief Kel'Arrak Sawtooth, son of the Razortusk, Kel'Radas, Blood of the Fallen Kings. It is an honor to fight beside you Shaman."

As the horde of prisoners pushed in from all sides, Kel drew his twin swords, and began dispensing what he considered justice to all those in his reach. If they attacked him, they lost the limb they attacked with. If they tried to run, or did nothing, he knocked them unconscious with the flat out of his blade. Whirling about like a leaf on the wind, Kel seemed to float through the battle field gracefully, enemies falling in his wake. He ended up back to back with the shaman, holding both blades out in front of him, baring his teeth, daring the prisoners to attack him.

"What tribe do you hail from brother?" Kel asked the shaman. "I have spent many years re-uniting the fragments of my once great tribe, but we are still not whole. There is place for you in my tribe if you desire it, whether or not you be of our blood, you are orc, and we must protect each other in these dangerous times. We are not as many as we once were."

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Praeceps had been vibrating with readiness since the moment he first laid eyes on the derelict prison. His sudden agitation had been shrugged off as pre-battle jitters by the other members of the team he had been assigned to, when in actuality, his forced hyperactivity allowed him to gather more information from their environment than the simple eyes and ears that his allies relied on. From the moment they entered, Praeceps could taste the fear, rage, blood and desperation that permeated the air. The muffled noise of the rioting prisoners echoed down the empty hallways, but the vibrating hairs on his head detected each clash of sword on sword and scream of pain like it was right next to him.

Then, the order to join the fighting was given. The two orcs next to him charged forward, practically radiating purpose and leaving an almost tangible trail of eagerness behind them. He drew his four swords in perfect unison as he analysed the situation in front of him, the two orcs had drawn the focus of most of the prisoners and were keeping them occupied in one place, that left him to pick off any that decided to come his way or he could flank them to cut off the ones that would inevitably try and retreat. Decision made, he sheathed his swords, backed up until he was only just in front of his comrades and settled into a tense crouch, his twitching wings and antenna the only moving parts on his otherwise motionless body.

Then, at some unknown signal, he launched himself forwards, wings beating furiously to help keep his balance, and just as his dead sprint brought him to the edge of the fighting, he launched himself upwards to the left, planted all six limbs firmly on the wall and kept on running. Then, calculating his trajectory in the instant between his second and third step, he gathered his strength and pushed off from the wall, wings still buzzing like a very large thing that also makes a buzzing noise and his momentum carrying him over the melee that filled the hallway onto the opposite wall. He launched himself again and again, until he cleared the group of prisoners, at which point he launched himself upwards off of the wall, drew his swords, took three steps on the ceiling, twisted in the air and allowed gravity to reassert itself, his wings beating and swords dragging against the wall to slow his fall, before landing in a crouch facing the way he had just come.

The corners of his mouth twitched as he straightened, that had been far too easy. He watched and waited while more prisoners fell, either bleeding or unconscious, to the ground and more moved forward to take their place. As he moved forward to take them from the rear, buzzing his wings for effect, he wondered why his hirers were paying him so much for such simple work.

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Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


ImageSitting at the end of a table that showed clear signs of wood rot, a Deep Human hummed absentmindedly as his men prepared several runes around the wall of the prison. Long since has this structure been protected from magics, but like anything time and nature reclaims what is rightfully theirs. The table he sat on was small, four legged and slightly damp. It was certainly here for a while, perhaps as just trash or maybe for another purpose. However, it served as a good seat even if it sagged slightly when sat on. The men backed away from the wall after a few minutes of cursing and fiddling. They were lucky enough to have a gifted elvish trapper, who used runes to send his prey into submission in their squad. After some fiddling, he had created a powerful explosive that was generously layered onto the outer wall of the prison even as Commander Wrath entered conventionally, almost calmly. It was strange how much he, and how much the rest of the Blackguard has changed since then.

Faint sounds could be heard from the prison now, a sign that the operation may be under way. Blinking twice, Kisikoni Ayalen hopped off the table and kicked it away, having no more use for the rotting piece of furniture. The mental command, loud and clear snapped in their minds, and even as everybody reflexively moved away from the wall, the elf lazily lobbed a globule of fire at the chalked walls. With an explosion that sent stones flying inward, the prison wall was broken. Rising from his braced position, Kisikoni drew his swords- the short and sturdy Butterfly swords and raced toward the destroyed wall. The stone had acted as shrapnel, easily shredding the closest prisoner. It appears that they have interrupted a riot, in which case they needed to act quickly in order to secure their comrades. Quickly, he slit the twitching man's throat to ensure the kill before rounding himself on another man, stunned by the force of the explosion. His blades swiftly eviscerated the prisoner, and even as he pushed him off his squad mates began to pour in at this point. A gout of dragonfire easily fried the third and last prisoner in the room, who fell to the ground screaming and flailing before the elf put him out of his misery with a quick thrust of his spear.

From this point, there was one door which lead deeper into the dank prison. Taking the lead, he let his sharp eyes adjust to the lighting and pushed the door open. The sounds of battle multiplied, and even as he made his way over with his squad, he took one look and knew that even if he had been held up his comrades would have held out. Even with deadly weapons and trained bodies, muscle was no defense against steel. Tapping the light, black armor he wore himself, he took off down another branch, even as he heard the desperate howls of prisoners in pain. Rounding the corner, he saw a mass of stumbling men of all races, clutching at arrows embedded at various locations on the legs. Such discipline and speed could only be the work of Lily, the Bloodleaf Hunter. Out of everybody, she had changed the most. It seemed like a century ago that he, Alistair, and Lily had been enjoying some tea in the harpy's tent talking about their own lives. Since then, she had distanced herself from the others.

Are you enjoying your trip down memory lane, mortal? an insidious voice sniffed, even as Kisikoni flinched slightly. Even with his squad behind him launching precarious masses of fire, they were getting too close for comfort and safety. He nodded inwardly, as if conceding to the thing's input and closed his eyes.

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As if struck by an invisible force the mob barreling down the hallways froze suddenly, their pitiful faces warped with an inhuman terror. His own squad shrank back slightly. Without hesitating, Kisikoni stepped foward toward the mob and began cutting them down, his men following suit after shaking off the momentary fear. The prisoners, trapped between the hammer and anvil had no choice but to fight back, though their reactions and speed were dulled and almost reluctant as the paralyzing fear continued to grip them.

As the last man fell, clutching the large stab wound in his upper torso Kisikoni glanced at the cells to his left and right. Seeing nobody of particular interest, he signaled slightly to Lily's unit which had just been caught up to the site of the quick melee. He motioned silently to his own group wearily, and they set off back down the hall, scanning for people of interest. He found a cell occupied by two ragged individuals- both Children of Fire. An orc in his group seemed to recognize one of them, so Kisikoni decided they were alright. They looked up, tiredly noting Kisikoni as he marked the bars with a yellow paste to signal an extraction later. Capping the small bottle of paste, he came across a knot of prisoners- well armed this time hoarding dangerous blunt weapons. He didn't want to keep using his Fear, as it drained him significantly and had the chance of allowing whatever that was residing in him to take control. The last time that happened, he swung his sword so hard against a shield the wrist bones broke. There was no response from the being at the thought of that, offended or amused.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


ImageOnly the slightest pitter-patter of the Nightmarian's legs signified her presence, even as she lazily strode down the stairs from an upper level. She managed to get on the roof easily, throwing a rope down and allowing the others to climb up. They were all lightly armored, meant to be a light skirmish force. They were more than enough for this situation. Sniffing the air, Mercy knew that there was blood split and blood to be spilled, smiling sweetly at the prospect while her squad quietly awaited her commands. They have long sinced stopped questioning the Nightmarian's actions and mannerisms, and have developed a level of jaded unresponsiveness to her lewd actions that rivaled her old partners back when Haven still stood. It was impressive, and incredibly boring sometimes. This is why she loved having new additions to her little group. However, that was another subject for another time as they fanned out across the roof searching for a way down.

"Captain? I found a breach where the roof collapsed." came a voice. Mercy turned slightly, and walked over to inspect it. She called the others over before patting the halfling on the head.

"Good work dear," she cooed even as the halfling rolled her eyes "Alright, clear out some of this rubble, we need a large enough path to storm through." The squad acknowledged this, quickly getting to work. After shifting most of the rubble away, leaving only a couple of sizable boulders, A spellsword slashed at it with an ethereal blade that easily cut the worn down stone. The path was clear now, leading into one of the top floors. From there, her squad would work it's way down systematically. Since most of the inmates will gather toward the ground floor in an attempt to escape, the Nightmarian Spider didn't expect to see much more than a couple of rioters at a time. Her luminous red eyes blinked once, about to tell her squad to move out anyways until the command stopped her. Closing her mouth, her words cut off as the mental sign sparked across her conscious. She just waved lazily, and her squad poured through the hole, searching the cells quickly and moving on.

Mercy was lucky enough to find a prisoner tied up to the wall. She easily broke the rusted lock with her flail, knocking the door inward. The prisoner looked up slightly, then did a comical double-take as Mercy tugged at the edges of her chain mail and smiled seductively. Shaking uncontrollably, the prisoner did nothing but stare as Mercy came closer and closer. Cupping his bony face in her hand, she spoke softly "Hello, dear. I'm here to give you your punishment for today."

The prisoner paled significantly, before starting to mutter repeatedly about hallucinations and insanity. Giggling uncontrollably, Mercy realized he probably should have wrung his name from him before causing him to go into a confused daze. She looked him over before catching the unmistakable tattoo that marked him as one of the Red's Children. Tracing a finger down his arm, the inmate flinched. She unlocked his shackles, and even as the man gathered in a large mess on the floor, she quickly raised his head and blew softly into his ear. At this point, the prisoner could take no more and decided to calm down in the world of dreams. Throwing his body onto her abdomen, she secured him with some rope and began humming as she met up with the rest of her squad. The men regarded the man she brought with him quickly before confirming there were no other captives and inmates in the area that were still alive. They had run into little trouble, the worst on this floor was that one of the skirmishers had to cut down an inmate that had nothing but the clothes on his back and his fists.

"Keep moving dears, I want to be with a bottle before the sun sets." She said, her voluminous red eyes sweeping across the men as they smiled quickly.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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It was hot, it was uncomfortable, and dead gods damn if the man who lead them wasn't a craven airhead. Rarely was Safir Garethson so irritable, but this triple-time march was getting to him. He could travel easily on a march- his father had to condition him to do so in order to even think about joining a military force- but this near sprint was wearing his down quickly, especially when donning over fifty pounds of armor alone. Grumbling under his breath out of irritation, he noted the many faces that dotted the 200-strong recruit pool. The moth caught his eye, simply because Nightmarians were few and far outside of the dark jungles of Umbridge- stories of which frankly scaring the hell out of him. He hoped not to be deployed anywhere near there if he could help it. His armor made more noise than most, but frankly he was quite proud of it. It drew stares from others, but they would simply had to deal with it. He suspected some of the stares were in amazement that Garethson didn't just drop dead suddenly from heat stroke. Grinning slightly, he kept up with the march easily. The armor was fitting, easily encompassing and preserving his motions unlike what people usually thought of armor. Many thought armor to be bulky, slow, and limited in motion. They were very wrong. Armor can be of all shapes and sizes, and are not necessarily slow. Motion is preserved, allowing the wearer to attack without having to worry about much- which is what armor was invented for.

A white spire interrupted his thoughts about ignorant people, entering his field of vision as an impressive monument to the hold the Dragons held over most of Norr. To think, he would be serving such power to defend his lands was simply awe-inducing, and almost made the trip worth it if it weren't for this damnable triple-paced march that wore many of the recruits out before even being initiated. Even an hour later, with Safir sweating and panting like the rest of the damned being driven by a seemingly lazy captain, Safir was still admiring the architecture. Though it does take a backseat while he regained his breath. In the distance above, a dark shape perched over them- looking down. Safir had his suspicions about who it was, but then again with so many black dragons flying about there was no sure conclusion.

One of the apparent champions of Nihalistrix stepped forward, giving her little introduction to the place. The spire had such a boring name, Safir almost chuckled, but restrained himself at the last moment. Even while she directed the mob into the chambers to outfit themselves, Safir was getting worried. There was that issue, but he assumed he would be able to keep his armor as it was of little cost to the Dragons. Everybody wasn't as self-conscious as they should, easily changing out while Safir pulled off the armor with clanks and bangs that didn't really draw much attention at this point as many of the initiates knew who and what he was doing. Putting on the robes made him feel vulnerable, but strangely very quick. Hopping on one foot to the other for a couple of seconds, Safir tested his movements to make sure he didn't overstep himself in this clothing. He then removed his equipment and moved to the rack of weapons. He picked up a sword and shield before moving back. Placing his armor away, he followed the group out. The knight was very put off by the fact he had to leave his armor, but this was their call at this point. Even if he tried to back out that wouldn't be looked on very favorably.

The sudden turn of events shocked the knight, even as that bitch elf began talking about this bloody initiation like it was a pleasurable show. Only fifty could leave? What a waste of good men and women. Why not send them home? His teeth gritted slightly, even as the stone doors lifted and their method of exit was cut off. Snarling and howling could be heard, and Safir's heart sank until it was about level with his toes. He had heard stories about the Gnolls- formerly a fearsome and respected race turned into rabid beasts. It was very lucky that the mountainous terrain proved to be too difficult for bands of Gnolls to move about easily, thus reducing the chances of the village coming to have to defend themselves from the beasts. This was different, very different.

Luckily, Safir was near the back as he had to waste time removing his armor. He saw a dark elf push one of the recruits toward the beasts, and his face wrinkled slightly. Practical, yes. The right thing to do? Questionable. Safir's father pounded a good code of honor into him, but constantly reminded the young son that if push comes to shove, there should be no hesitation in breaking the code. This may be one of them. Breaking away slightly from the group, he let the Gnoll mass begin surrounding the group before he shouted at an Elvish man wielding a hand axe. In this desperate situation, there was a momentary agreement for a truce. Locking eyes, they nodded and grimly clashed with the raging mass of claw and tooth.

If Safir had his armor, the situation would have been far less condemning. These robes would easily be torn and shredded by the stronger Gnolls. He would have to rely on his shield, and even then use it sparingly. A swing of that brutish and muscular arm could break his arm if connected properly. Deflecting a swinging fist, he sunk his sword into one Gnoll's hairy stomach before kicking it away and slashing at another to his left. The elf covered him, raging angrily against the other Gnolls with his axes and easily mutilating one Gnoll into a bloody mass before continuing to the next. Safir's methodical approach was augmented by caution due to his lack of protection. His shield did little to distract the feral Gnolls, but it proved invaluable when deflecting a sharp blow that was impossible to dodge or parry or to push away a Gnoll while it was embedded in his sword. Things were going as well as he could hope so far, but as the group of 200 began shrinking at an alarming rate, Safir had his fears that soon he would have to take on more than two at once.

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Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers


Waking up at the crack of dawn for any reason other than to satisfy the needs of the body always leaves Zulii in a black mood. Then again, she's never really a chipper harpy in the first place. Her ears picked up footsteps long before the man actually crested the hill, which put her in the front of the group as she went to investigate the disturbance. The man who appeared only spoke two words.

"Follow me." Normally the commands of other beings didn't carry much weight with her, but the man spoke with unnatural authority, so she obeyed. They marched at a hard pace, but Zulii didn't want to get ahead of them, so she stayed ground side and dogged the heels of the man, all the way to the white tower. It looked very commanding and oppressive to the feral mind of the harpy, cowing her into meekness. That, and she could feel an aura of evil and blackness that far exceeded her own emanating from within. The kind of evil that can only be served, not questioned or disobeyed.

When they entered the Spire proper, the group was informed of something or another, probably something important. Zulii didn't care, nor did she stir when they instructed everyone to change clothes. Moving quickly, the harpy threw on her white robe and tore the back and sleeves off, allowing space for her wings to move about freely. She barely had enough time to grab a mace before a gate on the other side of the room they were in was thrown open, disgorging a host of vicious Gnoll.

Cackling madly, the madwoman took wing, swooping down on the creatures and raining blows left and right. The actual damage she was doing to the creatures wasn't much, but more than one of the creatures met their demise swiping at the airborne harpy. One of the Gnoll, apparently the most clever of the bunch, jumped on the back of one of his fellows and caught Zulii by her leg, dragging the protesting harpy to the dirt. Immediately, she thrust the mace head into the creatures gaping maw and ground her sharp thumb talons into its eyes. She concentrated for a second, then scrambled away from the thrashing monster, which was clawing madly at its wounded face. After a couple of seconds, its head exploded, sending bits of greenish muck onto its fellows, who began howling in pain.

Zulii giggled to herself at the havoc she caused and took wing once more, occasionally dive bombing other wolves and leaving nasty gouges in their pelts and faces with her razor talons.

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The Children of Fire


The Tower


Well, this was shaping up to be a great morning. Stupendous even, given the current state of things. Yulni growled a harsh invective and shoved the corpse of a gnoll off of her chest. The halfling sat up wit a gasp, her chest heaving, and was rewarded with a rapidly shifting view of the sky, ground and a swarm of combatants. A rough landing brought the scenic imagery to an abrupt end. Yulni realized, after an indeterminate amount of time, that she was lying on the ground. Red hot pain lanced down the left side of Yulni's body from her temple, and if she had been a little less dazed, the halfling would have been able to tell that the massive ache in her chest was actually a few aches--broken ribs, no doubt--that were pulsing in time to her heart to form one sensitive mass of nerves.

Ow... Yulni pushed herself up off of the earth. She slowly turned towards her attacker, unaware of the large flap of skin hanging from her head. The gnoll held a maul made of the femur of some sort of pack animal over its shoulders and licked its chops as it approached. Yulni noted the the dried goblets of flesh under the fingernails of the gnoll, the blood matting most of it's mottled brown fur, and paid especially close attention to the splinters of bone wedged between yellow teeth. Yulni scowled. The gnoll seemed nonplussed by her her scrutiny.

Yulni was glad. She did so hate to offend. A moment of dizzying speed and suddenly the halfling was straddling the prone gnoll. Without a moments hesitation she drove a sharp splinter of rock into the canine-man's head. Over. And over. By the time the body ceased twitching, Yulni's robe was red from the waist down. She glanced around at the battle. It was organized into struggling pockets of resistance now. She grinned dreamily. Her head was hurting less now, and there was more work to be done.


Aesr alighted on the platform with a controlled pulse of he muscular wings. She bowed in acquiescence to her mother, keeping a respectful distance for a long moment before joining her in watching over the event. Her sharp eyes immediately began picking out figures of note and, more often than not, a particularly hilarious death. An interesting battle to be sure was taking part on the left side of the arena. A pair of deep humans, fifty feet separating their positions, were juggling a herd of gnolls. The first would induce fear in the group, send them cowering back towards the other deep human and slay one while its back as turned. Aesr watched the process repeat for four times.

On the fifth, a gnoll that had not been a part of the thinning group sunk its fangs into the wrist of one of the herders. She screamed, turning to bash the creature with her mace. It proved to be the end of the deep human. The horde was coming her way and, without her input, they shook off the supernatural effect and tore into her with relish. Aesr flashed a toothy grin as the other deep human quickly turned and hightailed it back towards another group of initiates.

"Mother...this batch is marvelous!" young and impulsive, the dragon Aesr rarely spoke in appropriate decorum with her mother. She noted a halfling gutting a gnoll with no more than an edged piece of stone! "How many may I have?"

A spoiled child more than anything, Aesr's eyes glittered with avarice. Nobody mad ea move to correct her inappropriate manner, however. It was common knowledge that Aesr was the first 'true' dragon born of Nihalistrix since the establishment of her domain. Unlike other hatchlings, Aesr bore the gift of the gods: a Breath. She could spew a jet of acid that could reduce a castle to slag in moments. It was not hard to imagine why she was the Black Lady's favored child. The dragon pointed a clawed digit at a harpy that was harassing the masses of gnolls. "Isn't that the bird you told me about?"


"Human! Down!" the warning was unnecessary, as the hurled tomahawk whistled past Safir's head with centimeters to spare. Dresinil nudged the hilt of a discarded scimitar up with the toe of his boot, catching it with his off-hand as he clutched a handful of a gnoll's fur. Without any wasted movement, energy or flourish that elves so loved to display, Dresinil dragged the off-balance gnoll onto the blade. He allowed the weapon to stay planted in the chest of the creature as he hustled to keep up with his burly human partner.

Dresinil ripped the hand-axe out of the skull of the gnoll he had thrown it into moments prior and immediately backed up until his shoulders bumped Safir's back lightly. Fighting back in the hills against hordes of goblin-kin made one keen in the arts of team-fighting. Dresinil parried attacks and redirected blows that were not only aimed at him, but his partner as well. He knew as well as Safir did that keeping one another alive increased their chances of surviving drastically. That, and the fact that he liked people that knew their martial stances, held the human in high regards in the elf's eyes. However long that may last, anyway.


A heavy spear tore into the shoulder of the gnoll that chose to prey upon the petite nightmarian. A piercing yelp was cut short as the blade of a long knife poked through from the back of the beast's skull all the way past the teeth. Oraun allowed the weapon to stay that way, instead retrieving his polearm from the torso of the gnoll. He grabbed Pylarea's shoulder and hefted the little creature up.

"Be more careful." the dark elf appeared as if he would say more, but something nearby seemed to catch his attention. WIthout another word, Oraun was off.


A heavy boot slammed into Jivven's chest with a hollow thump. The robed figure moved with twice the speed that the shadow dancer did, if only a fraction of the grace. Oraun sneered in contempt at his fellow dark elf, taking satisfaction in the dusty footprint left on the front of Jivven's robes. Standing roughly a head taller than the shadow dancer, it was clear that Oraun had been some sort of warrior before coming here. His alacrity spoke otherwise.

"You slimy little n'ezz" he said, glaring at Jivven with a baleful yellow gaze. It was an old word, a curse that, when transcribed, roughly translated into 'fucker'. Oraun leveled his spear at Jivven and bared his teeth. "You would sacrifice other instead of banding together? Did your dam teach you nothing of honor?"

Without any more preamble, Oraun was upon Jivven. He cleared the space between them in a heartbeat with spear aimed to pierce the chest of the smaller dark elf. Of the combat raging around them, Oraun was oblivious.


The Paragon


Kelem Prison


"Wow," Beelzes loosed a low whistle, assessing the damage her unit had caused. She shot a meaningful glance at the earth-slinging orc and grinned. "Was that a joke? Weapons free?"

The deep human cackled wildly and waved her hand in an intricate gesture that left ripples in the air. A form large enough to block off the hall stepped out of thin air, the faint smell of brimstone heralding its arrival. A hulking brute of bleeding iron, a Ulo'keen, a 'heart devil', finished the transition from Avernus to the material world. It set about firing lances from its open chest cavity to impale those escapees closest to it, and began shambling down the passage. Beelzes paid it no heed and waved at her suddenly freed-up squad.

"Sorry to cut your sport short-" she snickered, and a harpy in her party grimaced at her unprofessional attitude, "but we have more pressing concerns. A moment later a group of ten white-robed cultists rounded the corner behind them and shouted out a warning. As one they charged, the Children of fire brandishing spears and blades that could cut a full grown orc in two should they not avoid the empowered swings.


We have trouble.Watch for cultists, extreme caution is advised when engaging. Kill on sight.

Xeron was projecting his voice again, but this time it sounded strained. The scarred dark elf deflected a gout of fire with a shield of mental energy and glanced around the mess hall. Things had turned sour rather quickly. Wrath's legion had an extraordinary ability to draw out the worst in situations. Children of Fire were coming out of the damn woodwork all around Kelem, and although no casualties had been reported as of yet, the element of surprise had kept the Children from sustaining any notable losses either.

Wrath had been struck in the chest by a bolt of force from one of the prisoners, a spellcaster apparently, and was on the ground. Sid was kneeling over him and peppering anyone who got to close with poisoned bolts as the remainder of the unit fanned out to try and keep their leader safe. In addition, the prisoners were still thick and acted as a buffer between the two forces, seeking to guard their liberators--the Children--with fanatical devotion. It felt like these zealots were never going to go down.

The first cultist died as Wrath rose to his feet and whipped a scythe of air into the deep human's face. The commander felt rather than heard the skull caved in by the arcane fluctuation of air, and the corpse spun away without another sound. He was on the second robed figure before the first had the bloodied ground, his hooked swords wrapping around the elf's skinny neck, eliciting a wet sound not unlike tearing paper as the flesh parted before sharpened steel. Once the man's head was hanging by a sliver of sinew, Wrath let the body fall in turn.

A third and fourth nearby cultist back pedaled in an attempt to escape the wrathful Pragon commander. The first was beaten to the ground by a lash of psychic energy from Xeron. The second stumbled, her shins pierced by metal-tipped bolts courtesy of Sid. Her head tumbled free of her shoulders soon after when Wrath was upon them, dancing past the escapees as if they did not exist.

Xeron smirked and gathered his wits for another attack. He had to hand it to the human...when Wrath came back, he came back with a vengeance.

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The Children of Fire
The Tower of Nihalistrix the Black


Ethne watched the carnage taking place below with an entirely affected disinterest. She had never understood the reason so many of the recruits had to die in this process, and it only seemed to grow worse with time. Nevertheless, she was not the Mistress, and if Nihalistrix chose not to share the internal workings of her mind, well, her Fourth Thane and preferred mouthpiece would not commit sacrilege by asking for them.

It was a gruesome scene, the gnolls savage and predatorily cunning, their maws open and dripping with saliva, and in many cases, blood. The sickening crack of bones breaking and agonized howls of the dying punctuated the undertone that only a few could hear, the distinct purr of the Mistress’s enjoyment. Ethne swallowed, but otherwise remained as still as stone, reminding herself that the Dragon Lord she served was wise beyond her ken, and brooked no questions, or argument.

Instead, she took to picking out happenings of interest where she could see them, knowing that when the time came, the Mistress would seek her input. Glancing down at the dossier still held loosely in her hands, she attempted to attach faces to names and information. That one, the dark elf darting around, he was the one that claimed to be the shadowdancer. Ethne decided that whether or not he actually fit the grandiose moniker he gave himself, he was likely a competent-enough assassin. Of course, he was presently being attacked by another of his kind, so perhaps he would not survive long enough for it to matter.

Nightmarians were few and far between, but this moth appeared to have little combat training. The elf was unsure whether or not she should be surprised by this, having little experience to base her judgment upon. A cloud of reddish powder issued from the woman’s wings, notably slowing the gnolls in the immediate area, and confusing them enough that most of them picked new targets. Wait a moment… Ethne squinted, then blinked in obvious surprise. The woman was weaponless? Had she been disarmed already or was she simply a barehanded fighter? Either way, the fact that she was still alive in such a state warranted consideration.

Shaking her head and pursing her lips, the elf moved on. A few harpies flew above the carnage, diving in and out of the fray, but only one of them was cackling with wild abandon. Sleekfeathers, she supposed, as there was a small note at the foot of the dossier that indicated possible mental instability. This was not a categorical disqualifier within the ranks of the Children, especially not Nihalistrix’s own brood. She watched a gnoll fall, skull crushed, and made another small tic in the loosely-bound sheaf of papers, unaware of the fact that one of the creatures, apparently possessed of rare intelligence, had launched herself off the back of an orc and was on-track to drag the harpy earthward.

A halfling gutted a gnoll mercilessly, while an elf of at least seven feet in height mauled two others with the graceless fury of a berserker, axe in one hand, shortsword in the other. That one must be Weylin.

As loath as she was to admit it, that human knight was acquitting himself rather well, alongside the fighter Dresinil. Gritting her teeth, she narrowly avoided grinding them together, and made another two marks in the dossier, glancing back up to note that the swath they had cleared in the gnolls was forcing the more wary creatures back, circling the two men with obvious caution. Suddenly, a group of five lunged for the pair of warriors simultaneously, apparently aware that their best advantage would come from their numbers.

So engrossed was she in watching to see what would happen that she scarcely felt the Silenced connect to her mind. When the man informed her of the Mistress’s question, Ethne tore her gaze down to the dossier. Weylin, Dresinil, Cassius, Yulni, Oraun, Noda’Razzr, Pylarea, Salakor, Sleekfeathers, Thorne, and… Garethson. A similar question was doubtless being relayed to the other Thanes present, but even Ethne wasn’t exactly sure what happened next. This was, after all, the first time Nihalistrix had used this particular method of examination.


Feng leaned casually against one of the sides of the stone structure, ostensibly paying attention to the goings-on and watching for people trying to escape. Something else was happening next, he just couldn’t remember what. Glancing upwards, he caught sight of those twelve people with black-hemmed robes standing next to the dragon, and two red-robes. Who were they again? Shaking his head, he decided it didn’t matter.

The doors, please, Captain. The voice inside his head sounded tinny, far away, as though heard from a great distance. The voices that weren’t his always sounded like that, though, so he didn’t really notice.

The deep human blinked slowly, though he did spot the doors in question; a massive set at the end of the arena opposite from the ones the initiates had entered through.What about them? He felt mental hesitation, and then the voice came again, this time sounding strained.

The Mistress says you are to open them. Oh. That sounded vaguely familiar, now didn’t it? With a shrug, Feng darted over to the arched portcullis in question, deftly weaving through gnolls and initiates without any trouble. No surprise. They were all so busy with each other; who’d take note of little old him? Laying his palms evenly on the smooth stone, he pushed, and the enchanted gateway gave with little protest.


Nihalistrix watched the fray below with one large eye, unblinking, her head turned to the side so as to widen the angle of her perception. It pleased her that they all fought so very hard for their lives, for soon their lives would be hers, that effort turned to much more useful purposes indeed. The red-robed Silenced next to her continued to funnel information into her vast draconian mind, and she took note of each Thane’s recommendations, adding them to her own until there was a list of about a hundred and ten.

The arrival of her favored hatchling distracted her for a moment, though she did not move. Instead, she chuckled, a sound like stones grating together, and spoke for the first time she’d bothered that day. “You shall have fifty, to add to those already yours. The strange one will accompany you to lead them, and you may have your choice of two Thanes as well.” It was a rather large commitment, actually, but unlike her kindred Lords, Nihalistrix had the personnel to make it wise rather than a foolish risk. When Aesr mentioned the crazed harpy in the air, she continued. “Yes. 'Twould be a shame to Silence such a… musical sound, no?” Generally speaking, the youngest of the remaining Lords had a hatred of spellcasters that ran deep, but this one was particularly amusing to her, and for this reason, she was willing to spare Zulii the fate that awaited the other magic-slinging initiates.

By this point, the gnolls were thinning out in number, as the initiates recovered from their surprise. The latter had the superior numbers, of course- she did not desire them all to die yet. Feeding the list to the casters that flanked her, she chortled low in her throat when the two used spellcraft to lift the chosen and whisk them through the doors Feng had opened. Some of those facial expressions were amusing indeed. Once the hundred and ten she’d accounted for were all through, she waited for the doors to slide closed, then slowly began to rouse herself.

The movement of a creature as large as Nihalistrix was always an event, and her Thanes were smart enough to get out of the way with all due haste. One of the Silenced, a halfling male rather new to the position, was not, and an errant sweep of her tail sent him careening into the arena. It didn’t much matter to her. Looking down at the remains, gnolls and initiates alike, her reptilian lips pulled back from her teeth, a gruesome caricature of a smile. Her jaws parted, and she snaked her massive head down over the lip of the bowl. The expansion of her chest and ribcage indicated that she was taking a deep breath, and the unholy conflagration was pouring out of her mouth before any of those below had a chance to do any more than realize what was headed their way.


If the screams of immolated men, women, and gnolls were sweet music to the imbalanced dragon, Ethne tried her best to ignore them as she stood before the remainder of the candidates. She hadn’t been expecting this, but then it was not often that her Mistress deigned to share the majority of her intentions. Those still alive now stood in a long, bare stone hallway, broken up by round columns running from floor-to-ceiling at regular intervals. There was a raised dias on the end, which at some point Nihalistrix would occupy alongside herself and the other eleven Thanes. For now, though, she at least stood firmly on the ground before the initiates.

“Open-field combat is one thing,” she began, enunciating carefully so as to avoid letting any sign of unease show through. “But our enemies are many, their tactics varied, and you will not always have the luxury of direct confrontation. Nor will it always be clear to you what the enemy’s true objective might be. Here, you will be divided into groups, and your opponents will be each other.”

It was bound to be confusing, as everyone was dressed the same. In fact, they were not expected to retain their sides at all, merely to survive by whatever means they came up with. Ethne wasn’t sure why, but supposed that the Mistress must know. As it turned out, her recommendations were all kept together, added to another, similarly-sized group that she presumed must represent a different Thane’s opinion on the best of the lot.

“Memorize the faces of your comrades. They may be the only things that keep you alive.” She cocked her head to one side for a second, then nodded in acknowledgement of some silent order. “Also, as is only fitting, if any one of you kills the captain, you have his place in the ranks.” This at least was standard; it was how Tao had ended up a captain in the first place. He didn’t look surprised, but then she didn’t really expect him to. He was not to attack until aggression was made against him, for it was always possible that none would have the cocktail of ambition and foolishness needed to take on a fully-fledged Child in single combat.

Stepping back onto the dias, Ethne and the other Thanes waited in silence. There would be no signal to begin; it was up to them to decide how much time they spent in strategy, and how to balance that against the advantage of attacking first.

The Paragon
Kelem Prison



Neira casually dropped the blue-faced man as she caught the first flash of white from the corner of her eye. A smile, genuinely pleased, bloomed across her tattooed face, and she turned to her subordinates. Though all were covered in blood and a few were nursing injuries, not one had yet fallen to kiss the earth below, and this was something she took great pride in. These men and women drilled with her, and each of them was pushed to their very limits in training, something that was clearly paying off now.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she paused for the guffaws that would follow from her troop, not one of whom could call themselves a lady or a gentleman without lying through their teeth, and then continued. “The evening’s entertainment is here.” Whilst her mannerisms and attitude had unnerved several of them at first, they had since found that it was something of a confidence boost. Never once had she let them rest, and never would she expect them to fail. Quite the opposite, actually, and there was an unusual sort of morale in it.

“Do avoid the gouts of flame. I’d hate to have to replace you.” So saying, Neira herself shot forward, lancing the first Child in sight with her mind, causing him to turn on his heel and bury his axe into his closest comrade, who screamed and fell, blood gushing from her chest. Realization dawned on him shortly after, but not before Neira had plunged her hand into his back, sharpened exoskeleton doing the work of tempered steel. That may as well have been the signal, for the rest of her unit surged forward behind her, and the fight was on.

Superhuman strength knocked the next man, a monolith in armor, back into the two ranged units behind him, and the arrow intended for Karthak never flew. Lenaluin and Miramel, the twin elven skirmishers, moved as one to engage another knot of Children, backed up the nightmarian mantis Vin’athar and the poleax- wielding dark elf Daethor.

Shaking the excess gore from her hand, Neira met the eyes of a tower of an orc and winked. “Shall we dance?”



A Classified Location, Unremarkable Supply Wagon


It was a fortunate thing that Talae had always been very good at waiting, for that seemed to be what her job mostly consisted of these days. Rolling her shoulders, she felt the familiar weight of her new hand-and-a-half shift on her back. It was a well-made weapon, much more so than her last one, and had its name etched into the crossguard. Special-ordered with her new commission, actually, though ironically she’d have less opportunity to use it now.

Abel. Seemed fitting enough, didn’t it? A small tribute to a long-fallen comrade, and the memory of learning how such a blade felt in her hands.

But it didn’t do to dwell overmuch on the dead, so instead she shifted her focus to her squad, ten members of which were currently riding with her in this supply wagon. Of these, all were asleep, and she managed a half-quirk of her lips when she noted that Asera was snoring lightly. So many of them were so young still, though really that yet applied to herself as well, especially considering her race’s longevity. A pity she hadn’t felt like a youth since before the Day of Falling Ashes.

Allowing her thoughts to wander for a bit, she wondered how her partner was doing. They’d both been placed in charge of their own units by now, so it would be a rare occasion indeed before she and Kisikoni were again watching each other’s backs on the same field, but that sort of trust didn’t just leave a person. Nor did the concern, given the battered condition the deep human seemed often to find himself in, and the… stranger things, the ones she couldn’t explain. Then there were the latest recruits, who’d be seeing their first major battle right about now, and Alistair the harpy attempting to gather the clans against the dragons, to say nothing of those comrades who were to lead the prison infiltration. Sometimes, things happened so quickly that you didn’t need years to feel that much older, merely months.

But the cart was trundling to a stop, and there was work to be done. Carefully, Talae roused the others, pushing all her anxieties and reminiscences to the back of her mind, where they would remain until she could again open that Pandora’s Box with something like safety.

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Jivven Noda'Razzr


Well, it seemed as if the dark elf wasn't as slick as he thought he was, plainly evidenced by the dusty boot print on his once empty white robes. A shame really. He was just getting used to being just "one of the crowd". He didn't mean for everyone to see that little stunt he pulled. Yet the man still had his pride, and he refused to brush the dust off of his robes until the offender was dead. Who was likewise a dark elf himself. A particularly quick one at that, though in Jivven's eyes, sloppy. But even a butterfly seemed sloppy to the Shadowdancer, at least when compared to himself.

"Slimy? Honor? Who... look, survival-" His speech was cut short by the quick dark elf darting towards him, looking to spear him right through the heart. Trained instinct took over. Jivven leaned into a spin to the side and guided the spear away from his person with his up-turned dagger, and he continued to spin around the length of the spear and flung out the short-sword to catch his kinsman in the neck.

Jivven wasn't surprised when his opponent ducked under his sword. He was a dark elf after all, and such simple counters would never work against them. At least, against any who were true dark elves. The brawl around them were a blur to Jivven, like a commotion in the distance. There was only him and his foe. Any thing that tried to get in their way would be put down, brutally. Survival over honor, a tenet Jivven fully believed in. Misplaced honor could get you killed. An assassin had no use for such a thing. Besides, he didn't have time to worry about anything else, as the haft of the spear slammed into his chest and the butt rose up quite rapidly to greet his chin.

He was pushed back and he felt his legs go limp under him. To his side, a gnoll had decided the two spatting dark elves would prove easier prey than the large knot of initiates. A fact that would immediately prove false as a dagger tore through his ear and a short sword injected under his chin, through it's open maw, and out the top of it's skull. A gruesome rip and a tear later, and Jivven fancily spun around the dead gnoll, ripping the blades free and ending up facing the dark elf once again. Jivven then furrowed his brow, wiped the bit of blood from his chin (further ruining the white robes), and approached. He wanted a fight? He'd get one. An unlucky gnoll who sought to impede the shadowdancer's gait received a nasty gutting for his trouble. As the beast hunched over trying to keep his internal organs from spilling to the ground, Jivven rolled over the top of it, the back of the shadowdancer meeting the back of the gnoll for only a moment, and landing on the other side, mid-stride. The gnoll didn't even slow him down.

"Only a fool blinds himself with honor," Jivven said, eyes level with his opponent and a smirk plastered to his face.

Before he could make good on the man's need for death, he was picked up from the ground... Rather abruptly. Even as graceful as he was, he could never make being picked up and pushed by some unknown force look good. Still though, he strained against the air to push him forward towards the dark elf, still wanting to fight. As he hit dirt passed the opened doors, he once again continued on his path to the dark elf. Yet, finally one thing did cause Jivven to pause. The scream of those burning alive still in the bowl. He looked at the closed door with a raised eyebrow and thanked whatever ancestor was looking over him that he wasn't one of them.

That pause, led to another revelation. They were to be split into groups, and be it by some foul sort of luck or curse, he had managed to be grouped with the honor-blinded foul. "Shit," Jivven mumbled once again. They were playing with him, he knew they were. They just had to be. However, he severely doubted that Nihalistrix had personally did this to him. He even doubted that the giant lizard even knew who he was. No, he didn't doubt it. He knew.

Jivven sighed and looked a the people who he would soon be fighting with, with a particular long glare on the dark elf. "So I guess we're in this together now," He said, speaking to the group at large, yet still glaring at the dark elf. "You have nothing to fear from me as long as I have nothing to fear from you... All," He said, finally tearing his gaze away and looking at the rest of his team. "Right then!" He said, reverting to his normal cheerful voice, "Before we charge out, I suggest we mark ourselves first," He took a glance down at the dusty boot print on his robes... Looks like he was beat to it, "To be able to tell each other apart. I'd really hate to kill some of you," Another glance at the dark elf, "by accident."

"Or we could skip all of that and charge them," Jivven said, pointing at the adjacent team, two throwing stars stuck between his fingers, itching to be let free. He seemed to have noticed late, and quickly hid the hand away. "Heh... Sorry."




Liliana Bloodleaf


It seemed like the group of prisoners they were pursuing wouldn't be making trouble for the rest of them after all, seeing as they ran head first into Kisikoni and his men. Even the hunter and her squad was not immune to the deep human's fear. Lily hesitated for a moment when she wittnessed Kisikoni's ability, every fiber in her body screaming for her to turn and run. She even felt the other three members of her squad freeze in terror. Oh, how she hated that ability. It clashed with the normally quite and reserved Kisikoni, who she doubted would hurt a fly. Alas, in the war, that seemed all there was. Hurting, killing, death. It was the only thing that could make the elf freeze in fear.

After Kisikoni had dealt the with the prisoners, Lily came back to her senses with a forceful shake of her head. Her team likewise shook their fear and looked to their leader. Lily replied to Kisikoni's signal with a nod of her head. "Fall in with Koni's team. Zyn, you and Landion take the sides. Adel, behind me," she ordered the dark elf, elf, and human respectively. Just like that, the unit blended with the deep human's seamlessly with Lily near the front with Kisikoni. "Someone has to make sure you don't hurt yourself," She said with a dry jib. The man always tended to be beat up at the end of an engagement. As one, they moved down the halls to a cell containing two Children of Fire. As Koni marked the cell with yellow past, Lily held her short-bow taut ready to put down an errant prisoner.

Then a voice rang out in her head. We have trouble. Watch for cultists, extreme caution is advised when engaging. Kill on sight. She hated when he did that. Sure, she may groan and complain about it, but even she had to admit it was efficient. She looked back, and spoke to her team, "You heard it, Kill on sight. Don't waste arrows. One shot, one kill. Clean. None of this ankle-biting shit," she said. As she turned back down the hall, she was greeted by a group of armed prisoners. Her eyes narrowed as she brought her bow up to her cheek.

"How... Unlucky," She muttered. And on that, a volley of three arrows launched themselves from behind Lily and Koni, with the elf adding hers into the mix with a lethal twang of the bowstring. As she retrieved another arrow from her quiver, she glanced at Koni with a bloody smirk, "For them of course."

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#, as written by Otowar
"Was that a joke? Weapons free?"

"What's the matter? You don't like jokes?" Torga lowly grumbled with a slight grin.

As the large demonic construct shambled down the hall, slaying what was left of the prisoners, Torga cracked his knuckles and turned around to face Beelzes.

"Killing an unarmed, unarmored, and unskilled combatant is not the most honorable of feats."

Suddenly from behind the group, a wall of white robes fluttered about. Torga knew the uniforms all too well. They were Children of Fire. They had cost his tribe a good handful of warriors, though at least they were strong and psychotic enough to attack them head on; It was at least one step closer to a fair fight than the Civee armies had given them. They were worthy opponents, and at one time he had even considered joining them, but after fighting them in armed combat for so long, he understood the nature of the cultists and their dragon overlords. They were insane, or at least indoctrinated, to believe that dragons who cared nothing of their existence were worth dying for. It was this same belief that would prove troublesome. They were willing to die for their masters, and in this respect proved as fearless a fighter as any. Their most dangerous aspect of all, however, was their breath of fire. In was dangerous enough in close range, but in this hallway, with the number of cultists that there were, close combat was almost certainly a death trap. A more effective strategy would probably be to trim their numbers at a distance; If they charged, their only hope would be to catch them between their inhale and their exhale, and pray that they weren't above the concept of preventing friendly fire, as it were.

As he finished his fleeting analysis of the Children down they hall, they began their advance, Torga finally drew his weapons, a wickedly serrated axe, and a thin, curved sword, unlike the make of known craftsmen. Indeed, its design was heavily modified and exclusive to Torga's own tribe. He failed to avert his gaze from the charging Children in order to address Kel.

"A good leader should know the time for talk and the time for action."

With a deep breath, Torga took a mighty stomp that reverberated through the hallway. Loose pieces of stone and brick gained life of their own, and flew down the hallway towards the charging zealots. Their speed was otherworldly as it was, but in unison with the magic that sent them flying, it seemed that their shape had been altered as well; Sharp points were the business end of Torga's projectiles, and they made a low hum as they spun through the air down the hall. One landed a killing blow, nailing a cultist in the temple and splattering his brains upon his comrades, though they hardly seemed phased by this. His terramancy was only going to get him so far here. Without a steady supply stone or earth, and without knowing whether or not he would cause a cave-in inside the hallway, he was not going to take his chances unless the situation became dire. However the thought that Beelzes had just annihilated an entire hallway of prisoners had crossed his mind, and it seemed to him that this fight was not just about eliminating enemies, but about the abilities of those that had been gathered here.

One thing was for sure: Things were certainly about to get very messy, very quickly.

With a deep breath and angry grunting, Torga readied both of his weapons.

"Weapons free is not an expression I am familiar with. My tribe says something else. Take no prisoners!" With a mighty gait, Torga took off down the hallway towards his enemies. With a great leap, Torga propelled his sword through the ribs of a human Child before he even had an idea of what hit him. A quick swing of his axe landed its jagged teeth in the same Child's throat. A vigorous arterial spray of blood splattered Torga's face, but he was seeing red long before it hit him in the eyes. A mass inhale began, and Torga's instincts took over. The body of the human Child, still impaled on his sword, acted as cover, as several blasts of intense flame hit the now dead Cultist's back and licked at Torga's face, partially baking the gore to his face. He growled and stood fast against the gout of fire, as the smell of burned clothing and cooking meat became evident in the air. He had hoped at the very least that Beelzes would take pity on him for getting in over his head, or at least that his fellow squad-mates would follow his lead.

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Character Portrait: Pylarea

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#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

As the slavering gnoll advanced the Nightmarian moth could think of nothing but, “This is it…” She sat there, petrified, as non-respondent limbs clutched desperately to the short spear in her miniscule hands. The beast was going to slay her, and there was nothing she could do about it, she was useless, what good was she if she was to fall in the first half-hour of battle? While all of these thoughts flickered through Pylarea’s mind, faster than she could even comprehend them, she closed her eyes. Not just closed, but she squinted them as if a vice clasped their lids, and she awaited her impending doom. The end had come, and this never would have happened in the safety of Ecclavaria, the great hive city, home…

Death rattles and shrieks to equal that of a banshee filled the arena, the sounds echoing off the walls to create a veritable cacophony of doom and despair. It became so difficult to distinguish which sounds belonged to whom. Whether it was the vicious, bestial gnolls glorying in their massacre, other poor initiates who were eviscerated and soon to become chow, or the more fortunate who had yet to fall victim to this cruel charade of a test. The tiny insectoid did not even notice the yelp of her assailant, slain by some quasi-righteous Drow warrior, a giant compared to her diminutive frame, who bodily lifted Pylarea to place on her feet.

"Be more careful."

Just as quickly as he had appeared the massive being rushed off to combat some other foe, but with whom or what Pylarea was uncertain for his powerful words had left her speechless. Such a perilous situation in which she had placed herself was summarized in three little words. The actions of her fellow initiates seemed to make complete sense now, such as the human who had been dressed in that tin can earlier standing back-to-back with an elf warrior, the duo making short work of individuals and small groups of the savage gnolls, and even managing to keep a pack of five at bay. There were harpies soaring above the melee below, plucking unfortunate targets here and there while spell-casters lobbed damage from a distance. Everyone seemed to understand what they needed to do to survive, and those who didn’t…well didn’t.

This epiphany triggered some random memories from the recesses of the Nightmarian’s mind, leading to ideas and assumptions over what she could do. For years she had practised moving objects with her powers, sometimes even throwing them with a vengeance when having a tantrum, halting servants in their steps and holding them captive to her mind, and even doing simple things like snapping her bread without even lifting a finger. If she was capable of accomplishing such feats with unconscious ease, then how much harder could it be to apply such principles to a fight? All of this took only an instant for Pylarea to digest, and it was time to get busy.

Okay, here we go!

She was Pylarea, a moth born to the illustrious Kal’Tizzmet Brood, and she was definitely not going to die like this. It seemed a nearby gnoll, who had just finished hacking off a fellow initiates head with a rudimentary knife made of bone, had somehow taken noticed and understood the change in her demeanour, and begged to differ from her new opinion. The sight nearly made her gag, but the fury with which is instilled in her being conquered and repressed the detrimental feeling. Using this anger as a launching point, she concentrated the rage as a blacksmith would a blazing inferno to craft remarkable weapons, but this weapon was not made of steel.

The amethyst cores of the moth’s antennae began to glow furiously, and the startled screams of the gnoll resounded gleefully in Pylarea’s ears, the creature’s left limb had snapped in three locations, forcing the beast to drop the head. As much as she enjoyed the sound of the beast it would attract too much attention, and her gaze focused upon the beast’s weapon, without any abilities to overcome the powerful psionics directed towards it the gnoll’s eyes dizzyingly rolled in fright as the weapon slashed towards its throat, opening a river of blood from ear to ear. Its body went limp with a rapidity that was near sickening, and crumpled to the ground like a ragdoll dropped like a child seeing a brand new toy.

This smile planted across the Nightmarian’s face was a terrifying sight to behold, it conveyed a feeling of both amusement and disappointment that such things would be so easy, but then again she was of a noble Brood. Her senses tingled as another of the beasts tried to assail the miniscule target from behind, and had it not been completely ravenous it might have known of a Nightmarian’s innate tremor sense and could have succeeded in the simple trick. It was not though, and much to its dismay the creature found itself frozen in mid-air, a prime target for a lucky harpy to scoop up and toss back to the ground.

Despite the glee which Pylarea derived from this gruesome sport it was short-lived as a powerful force whisked her away through a large doorway into a cavernous hallway to set her down amidst another group of initiates. Oddly enough there were several such groups being formed and joined throughout the corridor until roughly over one-hundred of the initiates remained. They all seemed somewhat dazed by the event, and unfortunately the adrenaline coursing through the moth’s veins began to wane. The previous wave of sickness washed over the poor woman, and she found it impossible to prevent the bile to rise and exit her body. Luckily the discharge did not land on her or any of the initiates nearby, yet several did seem disgusted by the act and cautiously moved away from her.

“Open-field combat is one thing, but our enemies are many, their tactics varied, and you will not always have the luxury of direct confrontation. Nor will it always be clear to you what the enemy’s true objective might be. Here, you will be divided into groups, and your opponents will be each other.”

The announcement had mixed effects upon the remaining initiates, startling some while others seemed nonplussed. Pylarea nearly felt like crying from frustration, why was any of this necessary? How many more of them must die to prove their worth? It seemed these questions were of little import to the Children, and all she could do was acquiesce to their requests. The prices one pays for freedom.

“Memorize the faces of your comrades. They may be the only things that keep you alive. Also, as is only fitting, if any one of you kills the captain, you have his place in the ranks.”
Captain Tao seemed nonplussed at the announcement, but that did not seem altogether implausible considering his composure earlier in the morning, during their bout with the gnolls, and now. She heeded the female’s words, the same woman who had done much of the speaking since they arrived at the spire. One of the Drow, the filth who had sacrificed one of the other initiates originally, began spouting off about trust and marking themselves. He did make a point on the marks, but the trust she was not quite sure about, unfortunately they did not have much choice in the matter for the moment. The still somewhat sickly moth stood up from her half-seated, half-prostrated position and spoke up loud enough for the rest to hear her words.

“Uhm…I think I can help with markings…just wait a second.”

The previous efforts with her psionic abilities had drained the moth of much needed energy, something that their stroll this morning had not helped, but she could still manage to use them for a little while longer, if she conserved her energy that was. The shy Nightmarian let her robe slide down over the sides of her shoulders, letting in down so her wings could emerge completely and flap freely, but still being careful to conceal certain areas of her form. Her wings began to flutter slowly while her antennae yet again began to glow brightly. The air around the particles was gently caressed into moving the now orange-colored dust towards her new comrades, attaching itself to all of their robes and dying the white cloth.

It was of a hue very dissimilar to the dust of the arena or glow of the light in the hallway, so mistaking it for anything else would only be possible for the color-blind, or those who simply did not care. The effort needed to manufacture this marking had taxed Pylarea more heavily than she had assumed it would, and her form began swaying slightly from dizziness. If it had not been for the tin can human standing nearby to whom she was able to place out a hand to steady herself she would have collapsed, after a moment the wave of exhaustion passed and the moth was able to regain her composure. Her quick, gentle hands quickly replaced the robe back around her weary form.

“I’m sorry about that sir… Hopefully that will help with what is to come…”

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#, as written by Basta
Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers


The scent of battle! The metallic tang of blood! Zulii reveled in the carnage and chaos, taking on all challengers with her fellow harpies. They cawed and screeched, circling the frenzy below like great carrion birds, which they mostly were. Zulii caught a flying deep human limb and took a big bite out of it, making little noises of delight as she chewed the tender meat with her viciously sharp teeth.

All too soon, the fun was over, however, as a mystical force pulled the harpy towards a door, as inescapable as the rise of the sun. Try and struggle as she might, the force pulled her and pulled her. Finally, Zulii was thrown on her hindquarters and skidded across the room, as others began to arrive. The outraged birdwoman pulled herself to her feet, dropping to a low combat stance, but since no one was attacking her at the moment, she simply stayed at the ready.

After everyone had arrived, they'd been split into groups. A tall woman approached them and began to talk.

“Open-field combat is one thing, but our enemies are many, their tactics varied, and you will not always have the luxury of direct confrontation. Nor will it always be clear to you what the enemy’s true objective might be. Here, you will be divided into groups, and your opponents will be each other. Memorize the faces of your comrades. They may be the only things that keep you alive. Also, as is only fitting, if any one of you kills the captain, you have his place in the ranks.”

Zulii spit on the ground after the woman finished talking, a symbol of her disdain. "Comrades fail. Alliances break. The only trust is having in your own talons!" she cawed, her voice sharp, but musical. The harpy flexed her fingers and clicked her toes on the hard ground, eager to get the fighting started. Something shifted in the air around her, and she looked about, trying to find the source of the disturbance. One of the members of her group, a moth no less, was flapping her pitifully delicate wings and sending out waves of energy. The members of her group were covered in an orange toned substance, which stained their white (or red) robes and stunk of her smell.

Zulii screeched angrily, shaking out her wings and dispersing a sickly-green looking dust, which mixed with the orange on her clothes and changed the whole color to a terrible shade of vomit yellow. Some of the dust got on the people around her, but it didn't do anything other than change their clothing color as well.

The low humming of chatting initiates started to grate on the harpy's nerves. No-one was making the first move, a fact that made her very uncomfortable. Finally, Zulii cried out as loud as she could and leapt onto the nearest member of the opposing group, a tall, muscular orc. The man grunted in surprise and stumbled a bit, but tried to counter-attack as well. Slamming her fingers into his collarbone, Zulii pulled with all her considerable might, ripping it out along with a good bit of meat. The shocked orc fell back into his fellows and died, blood pouring out of the gaping hole. The others looked at her in shock, but in response, she took a big bite of the hanging meat and chewed it with a ghoulish smile, allowing the blood to run past her lips and drip to the floor.

Like a crack of thunder, the room exploded into movement. Zulii charged forward, slinging venom from her talons and clawing for all she was worth. A deep human managed to kick her right in the face, causing the harpy to stumble back and swipe blindly. Her eyes watered, blinding her and causing her to exhale a smokescreen of miasma as she escaped, rubbing the smarting wound. The deep human charged through the smoke after her, but stopped as he drew close and collapsed to his knees. He clutched at his chest in pain, his face screwed up in surprise and anguish. Zulii approached him slowly, placing both hands on each of his cheeks in a gentle caress. He looked up into her beautiful face with peace, as she kissed him softly. His peaceful expression didn't last long, however, as the harpy sucked his very life essence out of his body. With a loud pop, she disengaged from the dessicated corpse and wiped her now-crimson lips with the back of her hand, grinning wide and baring her fangs.

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Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image The band of prisoners that appeared before Kisikoni and his squad's front were not too much of a threat, especially when considering that Lily's forces fell right behind him, even merging with his. An order of hers? He wasn't sure, but he wasn't going to waste this strengthened force. Even as he decided this, the Bloodleaf Hunter made her way to the front of the pack next to him, making a snide comment about his health. He responded with a small smile, a sort of grim humor that one acquires when exposed to so much violence. "I do not hurt myself," he insisted before conceding to her point "Well, not intentionally."

It was true, the past few battles have seen to it that Kisikoni was to be trapped in the medical tent inbetween fights. Whether it be the voice in his head or just plain bad luck, the Deep Human had come to be familiar with the smell of sterilized bandages and poultices, and the magically warmed cots to ensure that the injured got their rest. For the most part, his comrades in the blackguard did not seem to mind it too much- but Kisikoni was tired of it. It separated him from the important things, like talking to Talae in quiet company or giving input when Wrath made his plans. Speaking of Talae, he had not been able to talk to her much recently. The recent promotion in the Blackguard, if that was even possible, had lead to Kisikoni and Talae alike becoming captains of their own squad, which left them with their hands full and their feet tied. He felt immensely guilty about this even though it wasn't his fault, as he promised the dark elf that he would explain the sudden and horrifying transformation he had undergone during the Siege of Herrick. He resolved to talk to her as soon as he could, though the work and war never seemed to leave them alone.

Shaking himself from his reverie, he realized that his body had automatically begun engaging the enemy. It was strange, how he could absentmindedly think of such mundane events while fighting a group of naked savages. It was a testament to just how skilled he had become with the decade of war he had participated in, but at the same time it was also a testament to how careless he was becoming. Focusing his attention once more, he did not skip a beat as he parried the wild swing of a mace over his head before slicing the sinews that caused the arm holding it to go slack. The mace bounced off one of his squadmate's shield, falling to the ground to be abandoned. He had missed Lily's little quip while he was rudely thinking of other things, but the cold smile on her face told him she was already busying herself with her tremendous kill count. Kisikoni had his work cut out for him. The sharp, dark warning from Xeron, the defecting Child, however did not escape his attention. In fact, it raised his pulse and made him very nervous. Wherever the Children were, there was certainly a lot of blood to be shed. He didn't want to start letting that shade that inhabited his body out so many times, but it always seemed to be inevitable.

I am stung, mortal. I do nothing but help. The voice said, not seeming in the least bit hurt. Kisikoni ignored him, focusing on the enemies while the Bloodleaf Hunter cut them down at a distance. The knot of prisoners were easily taken care of, and as the last man fell Kisikoni quickly moved forward. He would be the first to meet the Children- the squadmates he had were new recruits for dead god's sake and not ready to face them head on until they knew what exactly they were facing. The Children of the Red Dragon were vastly different, it seemed to other Children- Black Dragon Children seem to be so fanatically devoted to the dragons that all reasoning escaped him. At least with Tolfadir, a Red Child that was in his squad, he could converse with objectively and without much bias. Also, Kisikoni had one of the few things that could resist the dragonfire slightly- the Shade.

Before his squad could even look up to check the cells for prisoners, Kisikoni had bounded off to scout ahead. Turning the corner once more, he was met with a group of Children. They did not waste time, immediately laying down dragonfire that Kisikoni barely managed to evade by throwing himself to the ground. The fire roared, eating itself away against the wall behind Kisikoni. Thank the dead gods his squad had not been behind him, they would have been roasted to the very core. He was sure that they had seen that now, and he was sure that they would be very cautious. Rolling to his feet the moment the fire ended, he managed to take the Child in front by surprise, Kisikoni mutiliating his chest with four deep gashes before he could even blink. The child fell back, paralyzed if not dead, before the other Children converged on him. It was now too dangerous to be flinging fire around safely for them, which is why Kisikoni felt somewhat safe in meeting them head on. It prevented them for slamming the squad that would soon reinforce him with fire and thus easily wipe them out.

Parrying two blades at once, Kisikoni was stretched to his very limits as he barely managed to keep the multitude of weapons at bay with only peerless martial skill backing him. In no place was he able to get a stab or cut off, and his armor was steadily racking up a number of small kinks and tiny dents. The Children would be less affected by his "weak" version of Fear, and therefore using it would just be a wasteful drain on his remaining strength. A foot lashed out, forcing Kisikoni backward, but before they could burn him alive his squad stormed around the corner, engaging the Children. Kisikoni then realized that while holding the group back, he had received a small cut on his head that sent a sheet of blood down his face.

Looks like the elf was right.

"I don't need your humor" Kisikoni replied irritably.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image The Nightmarian Spider descended the complex quickly, sweeping across the very sparsely populated upper floors with ease and marking many cells. Those who had been with the Paragon or Children were too smart to join the riot, where they had just as much chance of being killed than rescued. Some were just too weak, starved and worked so hard that they simply waited for a savior or death. Sadly, Mercy could not carry all of them on her back so she simply took the secured prisoner she had tied earlier and placed him on a rotting wood chair that she tied him to. Strangely enough, the table that should have accompanied the chair was missing. Perhaps the prisoners took it apart to use as a weapon. She pushed the conundrum out of her mind, readily moving down to the next floor as her squad gathered before him. Now the sounds of battle were very loud, and the floor seemed more populated.

"In groups this time, dearies, now we're starting to scratch the surface." She ordered smoothly, taking out her whip chain and snapped it experimentally. It wasn't impressive as a the cracking of a bullwhip, but bullwhips aren't able to break bones. She moved out, two of her skirmishers at her side. The prisoners were higher in population here, but they were largely unarmored and unarmed and thus quickly killed. Mercy's whip chain had the range to keep them at bay, while her skirmishers waited for the best opportunity for a quick kill. One darted out right past a swing of her chain, planting his shorter sword right into the enemy Orc's chest and lunging backward before he could be caught by the wild swing of another prisoner. As they were quickly routed and joined back together at the stairwell, Mercy noticed a surplus of yellow paste in comparison to the amounts they used on higher floors. Target inmates must have died or joined the riot. Their loss.

Suddenly, a quick voice snapped in his head, the Psionist Xeron that seemed almost as shameless as Mercy. Pity he only had eyes for someone else, that someone being her acquaintance Neira. Well, not so much acquaintance as it was just Neira walking in on the Nightmarian Spider drinking herself blind. The memory made Mercy smile wistfully- she was surprised enough she could remember that, considering how hammered she was. Forcing herself back into reality, she faced her awaiting squad with her voluminous red eyes. They, no doubt, had heard the news. They were only awaiting their orders now.

"Well hons, we seem to have party crashers." She began, drawing reckless grins out of some of them. "Let's keep moving, but now I guess maybe we should take it a bit slow. If we run too fast our little babies will get their white robes dirty, and Nickhalustracks or whatever wouldn't like that." She formed her squad up into a tight little group. Despite the jest, everybody knew that the appearance of Cultists were a grim thing indeed. As lightly armed and armored as they were, facing a bunch of fire-happy Children head on would be a very hard battle fought. Simply put, to survive they must stick together, stick to the shadows, and stick the Children to the webbing that Mercy was already beginning to ready deep inside her body. Moving downstairs once more, a quick transition that seemed almost regular to them now, they wasted no time in trying to identify the presence of Children. It would be hard to tell, but there were some tell-tale signs.

"Captain, lower stones have been swept clean." the Halfling noted, touching the cobblestone walls that so befit the appearance of the prison. The upper stones were still dusty and old-looking, while the bottom rows seem to have been dusted and the moss more vibrantly green. The Children are definitely on this floor, their flapping robes easily cleaning the walls as they passed. A smart observation from the Halfling, earning him another hug and kiss from the questionably sane Nightmarian.

"You're a lifesaver, honey." She said sweetly, before her voluminous red eyes hardened considerably. "Stay close, stay cautious. Try and ambush. Kill on sight, as they ordered." Her squad nodded in unison, affirming her orders and began to move down the halls- never too far from each other. They covered ground quickly, but without being spread out as much they were forced to spend more time searching the dank corridors. Almost as if it were scripted, a knot of Children came to face them. Without hesitation, they loosed a burst of dragonfire, which caused the entire group to jump back and duck around the corner as the intense heat blasted against the wall. More gouts of fire roared down the corridor, making it impossible to advance without being burned alive. Not even Mercy, who had the powerful Nightmarian Arc Shell could resist the fire, as it hurt her severely despite not burning the outer exoskeleton. Mercy motioned quickly to her squad, and they immediately began withdrawing, darting off in different direction. The only way the lightly armored skirmishers could fight the Children without being obliterated. Skipping back in a way only a spider could, she layered some webbing onto the ground and made her own getaway. Even as she did so, the Children rampaged around the corner, only to find that those leading had their boots glued to the powerful Nightmarian webbing. Swears and curses could be heard, and the blast of dragonfire only caused the viscous and sticky webbing to begin boiling and sear the entrapped legs. Howls could be heard, even as two of the skirmishers peppered the distracted children with arrows. Darting back into the corridors and out of sight, those who had not been trapped decided to backtrack down the corridor. They were more cautious this time.

It was just a goddamn prison mission. Why would the Children appear here? Mercy wasn't sure, even as she waited patiently behind the stone arch that shielded her from view. The shadows cast by the dimly illuminated corridors helped hide her even more. The group of cautious Children passed by her- not even super senses could detect a Nightmarian built on the premise of ambush. Silent, deadly, and efficient, Mercy stretched downward and plucked the child, quickly silencing him and wrapping his head and limbs with webbing. The Children looked back at one point, noticing their missing comrade and looked around- but while the shadows still existed, Mercy was completely invisible. As they rounded the corner, Mercy took a bite out of her victim's neck, puffing slightly at the spicy taste in their blood. Cultists had that taste, their blood seemingly spiked by the Dragon's infernal magic. The reason why she drank and ate such "spicy" meat was because it gave her a temporary resistance to Dragonfire. Not enough to prevent her body from being damaged by heat, but enough that she could resist one or two quick blasts of Dragonfire that should hit her within the hour. Not the most practical ability to be using on a battlefield.

Slapping the entangled Child to the ceiling, she proceeded further down the corridor, her voluminous red eyes searching for her next target.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


With a roar, Safir quickly dispatched a Gnoll that was busy tearing into one of his fallen comrades with two strokes before throwing his shield up to defend himself from another one. The Gnoll threw itself against his shield, nearly buckling Safir's arm as he resisted the force that almost knocked him off his feet. With a deft stab, his sword slithered around the shield and gutted the Gnoll, causing it to gargle hideously before being thrown to the ground. Safir quickly ensured the kill by sinking his blade into it's neck, and turned to find a new quarry. Suddenly, the bellow of his Elven comrade told him to duck. And by instinct and reaction, he did so immediately, dropping down low on one knee and feeling the cutting edge of a blade sail over him and plant itself into a Gnoll that was approaching. Grinning slightly, he rose to his feet and bashed another beast with his shield, sending it staggering before he twisted and kicked another Gnoll, sending it falling toward another Child who promptly skewered it with his short spear.

It was soon after that he felt somebody back up into him. Turning slightly, he noted it was Dresinil who was backing him up. At this point, he knew that the increasing rate of Gnolls-per-initiate would overwhelm him if he were fighting by himself, which is why he was grateful to the Elf. Shifting, he blocked a couple of hits with his shield, using his sword as a stabbing weapon as the Gnolls flailed uselessly against the wall of steel. He then changed his stance, throwing himself into a shoulder tackle that sent another Gnoll sprawling as Safir forced himself into it's center of gravity. Swinging the flat of the blade, it connected with another's head, which set it up for a swinging slice that opened his chest with a spray of blood. Roaring, he used the momentum to bring it down on another Gnoll, the blade cutting right through it's meaty arm and stopping as it failed to finish cutting it off as the bone it shattered absorbed most of the force. Withdrawing the blade using his shield to force the lupine beast back, suddenly he and Dresinil were thrown into a dank hallway before both knew what the hell happened.

Getting up, he used the cuff of his white gloves to clean the blade as best he could. Rust was a warrior's most dangerous foe, especially when the warrior had no methods of magically preserving the weapon. Clothing could take a back seat. Even as he eyed the elvish beserker, who returned his confused expression with one of his own, they looked around before the Thane and Captain commanded their attention. So now, they were to kill each other. Luckily, Dresinil, as well as many of the other skilled Children seemed to be in his unit. Safir sighed in relief- he would hate to have to face that harpy, which as of now was still reveling in the blood of the previous battle and quite unhappy to be removed from it. He doubted that she would ever agree to be confined to a cot when injured if there was a battle going on. That was almost too much spirit for Safir to handle.

Suddenly, the Nightmarian moth seemed to suggest something and spread a strange spore that marked them orange. Safir looked down at it curiously, grinning slightly as he was clearly able to recognize his company from the rest. "Good work-" he began to praise before she nearly collapsed. Stepping forward, she reached out and used the human knight as a stable surface to regain her footing, apologizing heavily for it. "Pay it no mind, we still have a task to perform." Safir said roughly, wondering why all the killing was so necessary. He had heard rumors of the initiation being bitter and hard, but this was out of control. Suddenly, the Harpy seemed to snap and attack the nearest non-comrade, which caused the room to erupt into chaos. The second test had begun, and he had already rushed back over to Dresinil, drawing his weapons as the Knight and the Beserker joined the Harpy in distastefully slaughtering the other Children.

His shield proved to be his greatest asset, allowing him to pressure the enemy while making light strikes on unguarded areas. Parrying a spear thrust away from Dresinil, he retaliated by forcing a group of Children back with his mass of steel and using his stances to remain rooted as they pushed back ineffectively. He caught brief glimpses of others in his group- not as hard due to the bright orange that stained their robes. Very useful, he would have to thank the Moth if he wasn't forced to kill her later too. He saw Jivven, the dark elf dancing among the shadows. Zulii was a distance away, easily marked by her orange and red robes due to her incessant mutilation of the enemy. He saw the Captain, absentmindedly moving around and easily defying any attempts made on his life. Safir had heard that he was able to take Tao's place if he were to be able to successfully kill him, but the idea of this was laughable. Logic dictated that the man had to be a captain for a reason, and Safir's only experience with fighting live enemies no-holds-barred was recently in the arena. Despite his natural talent and strong body, he was certain he would be no match for him. The fact that he seemed very young was suspicious as well. No, despite the man acting like the triple-marching cur that he was, he was certainly dangerous.

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Blood painted the walls and pooled on the floor as the final prisoner was impaled on all four of Praeceps' swords, simultaneously. With a sickening thud, the lifeless body slumped to the floor amongst its fallen comrades. Taking a moment to remove the excess blood from his blades on a handy piece of cloth, Praeceps tore his mind from the focus of combat and put all of his effort into locating the unit he had been assigned to. He had become separated during the fighting, mostly his own doing, when a sudden influx of inmates from a side hallway caught his attention and he adjusted his strategy so that he could kill them all. Now, he found himself at the intersection of four hallways, he knew which way he had come but lacked enough information to determine wether or not one of the other hallways might yield a faster route.

At a loss for any better options, he decided he would backtrack until he could locate them. A squad as diverse as theirs was made up of many tastes and smells, he could probably track them down just following the metallic taste of the mad warlocks' dark magic, but there was no trace of it here. He remained alert as he picked his way back through the body-strewn corridors, with every single sense in overdrive trying to find his allies and enemies alike. Finally he made it back to where he had left his group and picked up their trail almost immediately, he headed off in the direction it went at a dead sprint, constantly tasting and feeling the air for anything hostile in the area but it seemed that most of the fighting was being done elsewhere.

Suddenly, Praeceps stopped running, the force of his dead stop causing his claws to scratch deep grooves in the floor. There was something new here, a foreign quality to the air. He moved down a corridor on his left and rounded a corner and the strange, faint scent became on overwhelmingly familiar one. It tasted like brimstone and fanaticism, felt like superheated rock cooking the air around it and it could mean only one thing. Children of Fire.

Suddenly the amount his employers were paying him made much more sense.

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#, as written by Smith
The Children of Fire


The Tower


Hul'ji took it between his long slim fingers, one of which, Yulni noted, was naught but a bleeding stub, and squeezed. Spots flared in the halfling's vision almost immediately as the deep human sought to crush Yulni's windpipe. A mouthful of teeth gnashed at her as the crazed Hul'ji straddled her. Yulni could not decide if she liked the charnel stench of the chamber less, or that of the stale beets this spindly lad had eaten this morning. With each clack of his jaws, the deep human sent flecks of blood and spittle raining down on to Yulni's face. Grunting with the effort, the halfling shoved the last two inches of steel into the underside of Hul'ji's ribs. Moments later the deep human was on the ground breathing his last as Yulni was dusting herself off. One cursory glance was all it took to realize that the room was in utter disarray.


"Filthy witch!" the first lash of the heavy spiked chain crashed ineffectually against a stone buttress, doing little besides rending a small section of rock. A vicious yank brought the steel coils back against the human man's arm. Said limb was already gashed and torn in several places, all wounds from the very weapon he wielded. Aleyss bared his teeth at the harpy and allowed his chain to go slack before revving it up for another strike. Mere seconds passed before the sharpened links were whistling through the air loud enough to cause even his nearby allies to back off. From what they had witnessed, the brawny southerner was not above striking down his comrades in order to slay a target. With a bestial roar, Aleyss lashed out with the speed of a striking snake, the weighted end of the chain striking with power enough that it would reduce Zulii's chest to powder and gore.


Dresinil spat out a glob of blood and what looked like a broken tooth. Snarling, the elvish warrior began furiously hacking at the offending nightmarian. Taken back by the strength of the smaller creature, the nightmarian was forced on to the defensive and rapidly lost ground to Dresinil. With a kick to a less armored part of the stomach, the elf caught his opponent with a backhand slash to the neck joint. Only two more nightmarians, the warrior thought with a sense of profound relief as the body crumpled to the floor. Dresinil weaved back to the side of his partner, the human whose name he had yet to learn, and helped to finish off yet another attacker.

"Human." he said, drawing his axe high to parry a shortsword. "I think we should go for the Child." before Safir could offer any resistance, Dresinil swept under his guard and stomped a halfling that had been sneaking up to hamstring him into the ground. As he regained his balance from the brutal footwork, Dresinil indicated Zulii and the chain-wielding human from another team, as well as the pair of dark elves picking at the enemy. "We recover our harpy, and enlist the darklings. If soldiers can kill a Child, then us chosen stand as good a chance as any."

He allowed the implications of such a feat to hang there. If they succeeded, they were essentially safe. If not...well, in this melee, anything could happen.


Given the current situation was reaching such dire straits, Oraun could not blame the other dark elf--no matter how loathsome--for his reaction. Sword resting at his feet, Oraun was currently pounding select targets with heavy arrows from a great bow. He had pilfered the weapon and quiver from the corpse of an ally. After this was all over, Oraun resolved to feel bad about robbing the dead. As of now, he sent an arrow whizzing through the air toclip the wing of a harpy that was diving at Pylarea. "Get to ground! You make an easy target, butterfly!"

His attention suddenly drawn elsewhere, Oraun fired the seventh of his nine remaining arrows. The large projectile screamed past Jivven's groin and tore through the leg of an orc, bringing him to his knees in a perfect position for a coup de grace from the shadow dancer. Oraun cursed. That arrow was meant to pierce the little wretch's spine.


The Paragon


Kelem Prison


Minutes. Mere minutes.

Delinthe swore softly and raised her bow. It was hardly threatening to the legionnaires that surrounded her, as the elf wielded the weapon with one hand. The other dangled limply at her side. The best Delinthe could manage was using the noble implement as an improvised club. She nad barely twenty remaining Children of Fire stood in a ragged circle in the center of the courtyard. The commanding Child gritted her teeth in frustration and hatred. How? How had a batch of mere mortals bested them in the course of a few minutes?! It was a massive bloodstain on the fabric of her military career. A single, catastrophic failure that would most likely result in her death. At least she would go down fighting, Delinthe thought.

Out of those legionnaires surrounding the last pocket of resistance, Wrath dared stand the closest. The commander stood with swords drawn, but seemed relaxed. Sid was content to hang back with the rest of the troops and keep her crossbows trained on the cultists. Most of the other squads were already topside, having flushed out the remaining resistance and chased them out of the complex. Sid took note of Kiskoni, Liliana, and Mercy among their number. Thanaros and Beelzes were standing tall with their own men as well. It was shocking, really. Sid would be surprised if they had suffered any fatalities in this engagement. Wrath's next words almost made the halfling jump in surprised.

"Take them. Alive, if you can." without another word, the commander turned on his heel and sheathed his weapons in the same movement. The last he heard before moving off to assess the damage was the defiant screams of the enemy leader as the Children were pummeled into submission by the overwhelming press of black-clad soldiers.

Sid called out for a temporary at-ease after the prisoners were dealt with. The legionnaires were free to explore the prison, as well as speak with the recently re-incarcerated prisoners. Those that still lived, anyways. Gurthenemon's own cultists, garbed in burnished leather with red cassocks were helping with the wounded and carrying out supplies.

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Thalion stood in the midst of the soldiers with his arms folded. The sentence given to the Children pleased him, he believed that killing them was far too mild a punishment. Despite his growing hatred for all factions that opposed his own, Thalion felt some bit of sorrow for the elf that lead the squad of cultists. They were the same race after all. "Sucks for her." he said to himself, reaching into his pocket to retrieve a small book and pencil. Which he then etched several words into the first page before finally closing it with a light thump.

That was easy, Thalion thought. The prisoners were sent back to their cells, and the small band of Children had already been subdued. Although he was happy about today's victory, part of him wished that it hadn't gone by so fast. He was a rookie. The boy completed his training in the recent months, and he was hungry for battle. The thought of cracking a skull or crushing a windpipe under his foot excited him. He was now a much more sadistic person thanks to the events of his past.

The elven soldier made his way toward the prison entrance, the hard undersides of his shoes tapping against the stone tiles of Kelem's courtyard. Koryfi, his loyal pet, was waiting for him just outside the door of the complex. Thalion raised his hand, giving it a few gentle scratched behind its large ears. Most of the creature's body was covered in a smooth grey fur, and its head, spine, tail was decorated with a crimson plate. This strange animal had been with Thalion for some time now, and it was the closest thing he had to a friend so far. The pale skinned boy stood in silence, ready to receive the next set of orders from his commander.

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#, as written by Basta
Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers


Zeroing in on her latest target, Zulii found that brawny southern humans were almost as crazy as her in battle, a fact that pissed her off royally.

"Thinks you are crazy, human? No knows the word meanings!!" cackled the harpy. The human bellowed his cry at her, sending out his weapon to attack. Zulii grinned ghoulishly and spread her arms wide, allowing the chain to punch all the way through her body. She took a step back, absorbing the hit from the weapon, and then braced herself.

"What thinks now?! Can you stand?" Zulii taunted the man hoarsely, as her lungs were punctured and bleeding. Steeling herself, the harpy drew in the entropic energy of the room around her and fed herself on the death and blood. Hand over hand, she dragged the man closer to her with the most evil expression she could conjure. Finally, she pulled the man's fist to the hole in her chest and stared up at him, gazing into his very essence. The dumbstruck man returned her stare blankly for a few seconds before his eyes exploded out of his head, causing him to cry out in pain. Zulii immediately pulled the remaining length of chain out of her body and fell upon the screaming man, biting holes into him and drinking his lifeblood.

One of the man's allies finally worked up the nerve to charge at the feasting harpy, only to be set upon himself. Zulii leapt at him, her mouth clamping down on his throat and scissoring his neck open, doing her damndest to drink him dry. The other combatants backed off a couple steps, unwilling to risk themselves at her fury. Finally, the madwoman sated her thirst and sat back on her haunches, hawking up a big chunk of gristle and spitting it on the corpse. She probed the hole in her torso with her fingers, trying to determine whether or not she would die from it. The wound seemed to have sealed itself up and now was a meat tunnel through her body. Not wanting to take any chances, however, she scooped up a handful of blood from the man she sat on and infused it with her tainted magic, pouring it into the hole. The magic blood coated the surface on the inside, hardening and sealing the injury while the excess flowed out the exit wound.

"Damn human chain hurting attacks! I will kill in this room everyone, damn!" Zulii muttered to herself as she stood up and looked for a new target.

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The Children of Fire
The Tower of Nihalistrix the Black


Being seven feet and two inches from the ground was usually enough to make a person pretty intimidating. Being replete with corded musculature and bright, silver-white scars criss-crossing what nut-brown skin was visible only helped. In the end, though, it was probably the red haze of battle-rage that ensured that Vortigern Weylin had to seek his opponents more often than they sought him. The elvish man paused to get his bearings, heedless of the blood matting in blond hair or soaking his new robes through. A quick assessment of what was going on about him, and he was at the side of the pretty-winged nightmarian girl, sturdy shortsword hacking through the neck of the deep human who’d been attempting to get a sneak-shot in. The blade lodged against bone with a dull scrape, and the berserker simply left it there.

“Might wanna use yourself some o’ that steel, lass,” he mentioned with a wink, nudging his toe under the handle of a nearby mace. “Even if you have some o’ the fancy mind-magic, can’ get too distracted, yeah?” With a swift motion, he kicked upwards and flipped the weapon into the air, taking hold with the first four fingers of his other hand, the final digit being missing for some inexplicable reason. Blunt force wasn’t his favorite, but he knew how to use it effectively. The haft of his axe between his teeth muffled whatever he said next, as he took a two-handed grip on the mace to beat back some fool who thought he was distracted just because he was talking. Really now. Anyone who could work himself into a major temper and still have the wherewithal to stay alive wasn’t going to lose focus while running his mouth.



The carnage was everywhere, and it was glorious. So thought Nihalistrix as she flew over it, the passing of her immense shadow distracting a few long enough that they took deathblows for their trouble. Alighting on the dais, she observed for a while, blinking languidly, for all appearances rather nonplussed about the whole thing.

Inwardly, she was pushing back her insane delight and calling upon a much more dangerous trait: a feral cunning that ensured her success over the other Lords in acquisition and matters of warfare. Balenforethus may have the stronger hatchlings, and Astara might be losing less of her people on the open field, but Nihalistrix was winning, gaining ground on all those pathetic meat-creatures, and for that, she was duly proud of herself. These victories were not dumb luck, and they were not only a matter of numbers. The youngest Dragon Lord was not without a vicious, animalistic cleverness, and these tests were designed not only to discover which among the competitors was best with their armament, oh no. Here, she would discover just who was willing to follow any order she gave, regardless of their own personal thoughts on the matter. She knew for a fact that her followers were not all fanatical and insane; this fact was indeed of great use to her. Ethne had not become a Thane because she shared all of her mistress’ thoughts. Rather, obedience was key, especially when faced with daunting obstacles like magic, psions, and overwhelming numbers.

One group had drawn a single other off to the side of the main fray, but the solid tactics were countermanded by the fact that they were clearly inferior armsmen. One group, dusted orange, and mostly lumped into a semicohesive unit, seemed to have the best mix of personnel, but were hampered by a lack of cooperation and the fact that she was not the only one who had noticed this. Two other factions moved in at once upon the rusty-cloaked fighters, their differentiated coloration suddenly making them very easily distinguished targets indeed. It was going to be a desperate fight for them, and unless they managed to pull themselves together, they were going to lose it.

She glanced around the rest of the room, noting the pile of corpses next to Feng’s location with clear amusement. None of the corpses were burned, but all had clear weapon-damage, usually thin slash wounds. A few were obviously missing limbs or heads, though this did not appear to faze the man standing in their midst in the slightest, and indeed his robes had not a spot on them. Queer little thing, he was, but then Nihalistrix had never minded that.



The Paragon
Kelem Prison


Neira straightened, wiping the gore from her face with a dark sleeve. Blinking twice in quick succession, she refocused on the members of her platoon, nodding in satisfaction when she noted that none of them were dead. As part of the vanguard of this mission, however, they had taken considerable damage, and more than one would need a healer quite quickly if they wished to keep the breath in their lungs.

“Lenaluin, Vin’athar… get Daethor to the healing units, and be quick about it. Miramel, Karthak, take the others and go help with restraining the prisoners.” All heads nodded simultaneously, but she did not require the banality of salutes or sharp responses. She was accustomed to being obeyed, and validation was unnecessary in the extreme.

As for herself, the task was rather simple: being stronger than most beasts of burden meant that on occasion, she would put herself to use finding other injured parties and ferrying them to where they needed to go. Of course, there was simply no way she was going to admit to doing such a thing, as all in all, charity was rather beneath her, but she could see the necessity of it. So most often she sent the offending parties to sleep beforehand, unless doing so would kill them, in which case she secured her anonymity with very creative threats.

It seemed, though, that very few were so injured as to be unable to move themselves, and so she instead found herself standing beside Beelzes and one of the new-bloods, an orc. Thanaros had mentioned his name was Torga or something, but it wasn’t her practice to care much until she had reason to. He’d survived today, but he might be dead tomorrow, so what was the point? It wouldn’t stop her from talking to him, though. “So,” she addressed to the both of them, “I’m guessing there’s something old Redscales didn’t tell us about this.”

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Jivven Noda'Razzr


"Geez!" Jivven barked, "Watch where you're shooting that damn thing! You almost nipped my junk!" He yelled behind him, shame at foreign concept to the dark elf. Oh well, he had to admit that the stunt did set the orc in front of him in prime position for a killing blow, and Jivven wasn't the one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Even if that horse wanted to skewer his balls with an arrow. There are just some things men shouldn't wish even upon his own enemies. Jivven stuck his short sword into the orc's throat, quickly reversed his grip in fluid motion, and ripped the blade free spraying blood off into the fray at his right and even on the cuff of his robes' sleeve.

Jivven didn't have time to savor his victory as the slaying did not escape the notice of an elf, who was not readying a spell to incinerate the shadowdancer. "Dammit!" Jivven cursed before impaling both blades into the trunk of the orc corpse. He wasn't one of the strongest dark elves and he wasn't going to rush ahead with his meat shield any time soon, but he had just enough power in his arms to lift the corpse and put it between him and the fire ball. A clever idea, to be sure, but still. The fireball engulfed the orc and the scent of burning flesh suddenly pervaded the immediate area. The force threw both orc and dark elf to the ground where they finally lay motionless, Jivven's head tilted lifelessly to the side under the weight of the dead orc.

However, killing the dark elf wouldn't ever be that easy, and as soon as the elf smirked in appreciation of his handy work a pair of throwing star found themselves embedded in the elf's chest. A quick glance at the pair of bodies revealed Jivven angrily giving the elf the middle finger. The damage throwing stars did were merely superficial by themselves, and allowed the elf to approach the dark elf and hover over the fallen Jivven, who was still screaming defiance with his middle finger. The poison, however, proved more effective than the throwing stars, and pain wracked the body of the elf, toppling him over on top of the mound of flesh of the orc and Jivven.

A grunt escaped the trapped shadowdancer and a second or two passed before Jivven muttered, "Hell... Why did you have to die right there of all places!" and began to try and worm his way out from under the pile of bodies. He tried to be quick about it, as he was vulnerable, and that was never good in a free-for-all like this. He was on his feet, his artificially orange robes caked with dried blood, scorch marks, and what he assumed to be fried orc. He really hoped that there wasn't a uniform inspection after this.

He turned to finally face Oraun, he had something for him too. Instead of the finger however, another throwing star shot towards the offending dark elf. Seems as if Jivven had gotten fed up with the self-righteous ass. At the last second though, the star shot pass Oraun, not before cutting a couple of white hairs from the dark elf's head, and embedded itself into the face of an approaching hostile. The enemy grabbed his face and hit the ground in pain before the poison ran it's course.

Now, finally Jivven flipped Oraun the bird as well.




Liliana Bloodleaf


"Take them. Alive, if you can."

Lily only grunted. Those around her knew what that grunt meant. Displeasure. She would much rather just plant an arrow in their foreheads and be over with it. Yet, she was not going to violate Wrath's orders, even if the thought of "accidentally" losing grip on her bow string and taking out a Child was much more favorable. She had found herself and her unit mixed within Kisikoni's and his. " Fan out and advance," she told her unit. They nodded and embedded themselves in the encroaching mass of Blackguard. Lily, and likewise the other individuals of her unit, kept her bow trained on the Children as they were subdued. The gesture was empty, as she couldn't just off one (no matter how much she wanted to) and the Children hardly felt fear. She was just trying to look useful at the moment as the others of the blackguard subdued the remaining Children.

After the job was done, Lily replaced the arrow back into her quiver and gave a short, low whistle. In mere moments the three others of her unit had found their ways to her, each nodding as they arrived. The last to show, the human archer Adel spoke first, "You rang?" The other two, Zyn and Landion grinned at their partner and at a job well done. They were all in one piece, except for the odd scratch or bruise. Lily herself allowed herself a small smirk. "Good job, yet again," She said with an unimpressed tone.

It was that tone however that made it worthwhile. It was as if she expected things to go so well, and that they would succeed as flawlessly as they did. That unimpressed tone meant that they did what they had to, and they all came home alive. "Right then, like Sid said, we're at ease for now so your time is your own," She said, chewing on her lip. She looked back over at the prison, "But if you go back into the prison, go as a group. There may or may not be stragglers, I don't want to chance it.

"And I thought we were thorough too," Zyn joked. Landion grunted at his counterparts joke. And with that and a nod, the three left for their own devices. Lily however, went over to Kisikoni first and shot him a smirk, "So this is how many battles now without a egregious injury?" She said, patting him on the shoulder, "Keep up the good record, yeah? I've got... Someone I need to find," She said, nodding and taking her leave of him. She then found her way to Sid. She always did like the halfling. Such a upbeat person, always deflecting everything with humor and snark. "Lieutenant," Lily said removing her hood, "I was wondering... You wouldn't happen to know where... Turha is, would you?" finishing her question by pushing her hair behind her shoulders.

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#, as written by Otowar
"Bah. Lots of help you lot were." Torga called back. In the ensuing fracas, it seemed that he had overestimated his group's ability to aid the green-skin shaman. He had to cause a tremor and collapse the hallway to get rid of the Children. None of the cultists had survived the cave-in, and Torga was lucky that he had a say where the rocks had fallen. He grumbled as he made his way to the courtyard with Beelzes and the others, the baked on blood starting to flake off of his face.

He was definitely starting to regret siding with The Paragon after all.

Upon arriving in the courtyard, the first voice he heard was Wrath's. "Take them. Alive, if you can."

"He better not be talking about those damn cultists," Torga thought out loud. He was still recollecting the events that had occurred not but a few minutes prior. He had hoped to be owed at least a bit of mutual respect from his squad-mates, however it seemed that things were only going to get more complicated from this point on. Perhaps their respect was something he had to earn; He definitely expected that much from The Paragon. He continued his disgruntled grumbling as he made it closer to the concentrated mass of soldiers. He wasn't about to be caught off guard without some fodder in the way. He half expected a dragon to fall from the sky. These cultists weren't particularly known for their subtlety.

Torga thought about what there had to be done around the prison. He had already done his part. There was no need, he thought, to put himself in harm's way anymore. He looked down at his now sheathed weapons, still glistening with slowly drying blood. His sword had taken quite a bit of damage from the intensity of the heat, a reminder of the danger that even the lowest cultists presented to a seasoned warrior such as Torga. It might be necessary to reequip himself with better arms at the next opportunity; The Paragon owed his that much, at least.

Torga grunted in frustration one more time as he made his way to the middle of the bulk of soldiers, awaiting further orders.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Paragon
Kelem Prison


Neira’s eyes narrowed; she was not used to being ignored, and did not much like the feeling. She was contemplating seeing how easy it would be for Torga to ignore her if she punched a hole through that thick orcish skull of his, or if she (with much less amusement, but also perhaps fewer negative repercussions) pulled rank and had him assigned to latrine duty. That might actually be better.

“Now, now,” Beelzes intoned from beside her, having seen her head tilt and her eyes narrow just so and knowing well enough what it meant. “Who knows? One of the Children might have hit him over the head. Or he might just be an idiot. He did go charging right at a mob of Children without waiting for backup.” The warlock shrugged, clearly unfazed by any of the above, having done considerably more reckless things on dozens of occasions herself.

“Hmm.” The answer was noncommittal, but judging from the fact that she hadn’t moved, Torga’s skull, and his olfactory organs, were both safe enough for the moment. “Where’s Mercy? I could use a drink.”

“Capital idea,” the pale woman replied, smacking the nightmarian on the shoulder before wandering off to do who-knows-what. Either way, Neira figured she’d be seeing more of Beelzes later. Always had a way of popping up just when you’d almost forgotten about her, that one.

In the meantime, she cast about for something to do. The prisoners, such as they were, currently found themselves in enchanted irons, heat-resistant among other things, and led off to who-knew-where. The redheaded woman didn’t really bother to keep track of such trivialities. Interrogation was more Xeron’s thing; she generally disliked it because it was dreadfully dull. Something moved in the corner of her eye, and she turned, watching the general detach himself from his troop to follow a nondescript brunette woman in simple armor. Neira had seen the woman once or twice before, but not in any of their battles. She tended to show up in the aftermath. Like a parasite.

Shaking her head, she decided to go check on her people in the medical tent. Better than standing around doing nothing, as all these people seemed to be. It was their fault for not embracing their personal autonomy and common sense, really. They had stand-down orders and free rein in the area, for the moment, if they chose to spend that leave milling about like sheep, she wasn’t going to tell them otherwise.



At the old address, Sid looked up sharply. Only a few people got to call her lieutenant still, and she relaxed only minutely when she recognized one of them. It wasn’t as though she disliked Lily or anything; the simple fact of the matter was that she didn’t trust many people at all anymore. When the girl mentioned Turha, though, the Captain cracked a grin.

“Sure. He’s that way.” The halfling jerked a thumb over her shoulder, indicating the last direction she’d seen the artificer traveling. “Might wanna tell him it’s you, though.” Turha had been substantially more withdrawn since the death of his twin- Lily was one of the few people he still spoke freely with, and even that was only sometimes.

Sid had turned back to ask Wrath a question about something when she noted that he’d disappeared. Surprised she’d missed it, she looked around, only to meet the eyes of the nightmarian Neira, who inclined her head to the left. Following the movement, Sid spotted him disappearing beyond the sightline of most of those present. Oi. Not this again.



The Children of Fire
The Tower of Nihalistrix the Black


The first group to fall did so beneath the press of Ethne’s chosen, raising a great clamor from some of the members of that group and drawing the ire of others who’d hoped to see that first victory theirs. It seemed that the efforts redoubled after that, and everyone grit teeth and clenched jaws, the stone floor beneath them by now slick with the blood of their foes, uncannily similar to the condition of the road they’d been forced to march that very morning.

A hand-axe whizzed by, slicing right through the middle finger Jivven had so defiantly raised in Oraun’s direction, leaving a gout of scarlet blood wending down his upraised arm in its wake. Of course, he should probably consider himself lucky, since it then buried itself in the orc standing behind him, dropping the green-skinned unfortunate to the ground beneath. The harpy responsible, russet of feathers and possessed of a disheveled tangle of blond hair matted with blood, screeched her defiance at the young dark elf, following up the attack with an attempted shield bash, drawing the heavier axe at her belt in case the little worm dodged. Shasarra had never been fond of slick little fish who wouldn't trade blows properly.

A few of the people in the opposing squad immediately nearest Zulii were smart enough to realize that she probably shouldn’t go unchecked. Exactly two had any kind of command over magic, and it was these who moved to face her down next. The first, a snow-haired drow woman of heavyset stature, barked a word and sent a gust of wind headed right for the harpy. The elemental magic clipped the madwoman’s wing and threw her off-balance. The second, an orcish shaman, bellowed as transformation magic took hold of his limbs, thickening them into the unnaturally-powerful ones of a steel-gray warg. Taking the opportunity presented by her imbalance, he gathered his new muscles beneath him and lunged, fierce and bestial as she, slavering, ichor-dripping fangs aiming right for the throat.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Basta
Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers


Zulii, still pissed off about having a meat tunnel carved into her torso, cursed her poor luck even more as a magicked whirlwind collided with her side and sent her tumbling. The deranged harpy began sneezing uncontrollably, covering her face with her clawed hands as she tried to regain combat effectiveness. Zulii looked up in time to see a half orc, half warg monstrosity throw itself at her. Zulii rolled onto her back and met the creature's onslaught with sharpened feet talons. The orc impaled his chest onto her toes, looking down at her in surprise before clubbing her over the head with his massive paws.

"Just stay like that, Malrog! You've got her right where I want her!" shouted the plump drow, prepping a fireball. Grinning maliciously, she tossed it onto the orc's back, catching his greasy, combustible skin on fire like an oil-soaked torch. Shrieking in pain, the heavy creature dragged itself off Zulii's feet and whirled upon his former ally. She glanced at him disinterestedly, dissolving his skull with an acid projectile. Leaping to her feet, Zulii squared off against the drow, still sniffling a bit.

"Filthy Drow bitch! Your magic is foul, makes me have lung sneezing!" spat the snarling harpy. Chuckling lightly to herself, the Drow dropped a harmless cloud of inky blackness on Zulii's head, causing her to reel backward, sickened to her stomach. Zulii held out her arms in front of her, whispering feverishly to them while trying not to sneeze and mess up her incantation. Soon, boils and pustules began to form on the surface of the skin, which soon ruptured and revealed an army of wasps and other sting-y type insects. Waving her limbs about wildly, Zulii splashed some of the viscous fluid on the Drow sorceress, who frowned in mild disgust. The bugs zeroed in on her immediately and began stinging and biting, causing the woman to scream in agony. She dropped a fireball she'd been preparing at her feet, engulfing herself in hellfire and consuming her body.

This was enough for the remaining troops, who withdrew from Zulii and refused to engage her without sufficient outside motivation.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image The deep human's hand immediately clapped to his forehead, stemming the flow of blood that poured like a sheet down his face. He let his squad handle the Children for the moment, as he quickly shifted his grip and sheathed one sword to let the wound clot until the battle was officially over and he could find a healer. Unfortunately, he could not stem the flow entirely. Luckily, he did not need to engage with the children- his squad had easily managed to hold them back, by luck or otherwise. Even as the last child fell, grabbing at several fatal stabbing wounds on his torso, Kisikoni sheathed his last sword, smiling at them in congratulations. "Well, now that some of you have fought your first Child, what do you think?" he asked amicably. The responses varied from caution to confidence.

"I wasn't expecting it to be this easy."

"I don't see why you put so much emphasis on caution if this is what we're going to be fighting."

"I'll tell you once I'm forced to fight them by myself."

Kisikoni allowed himself a short laugh as they reassembled into formation, preparing to sweep the prison for any more inmates or Children. Even as he did so, another knot of soldiers came and confirmed that the last of them were being subdued in the courtyard. He motioned to his own squad, rushing to the courtyard where he arrived just in time to see the last of the Children encircled and at the mercy of the Paragon- something that hardly ever happens. Brimming with pride at how well his squad did and how well the Paragon did overall, he quickly observed them being quickly beaten into submission. Shrugging once, Kisikoni figured he wouldn't have been able to do much anyways. What was more important was that he needed to find a healer before Lily came and-

"So this is how many battles now without a egregious injury?" came the taunting voice. Forcing a smile, Kisikoni was about to respond to the quip but she had bounded off before he could do so. It wasn't as if he didn't know where she was going, but altogether it worried him a little bit. She and Turha alike have become so dependent on each other Kisikoni was loathe to think what would happen if one of them were to perish in battle. Then again, both were skilled veterans hailing from the Legion of Ashes. Kisikoni quickly reassured himself that as long as they didn't do anything stupid, they would be fine. Despite this, he decided to ask Lily to share a cup of tea the next chance he could get.

Even as he left his men to their own devices, he turned to face a burly Orc wearing a red cossack. The robes contrasted with his deep swampy green skin, but it didn't seem to perturb him. Before Kisikoni could sigh with relief and offer his head the orc wordlessly touched the wound on his forehead and started chanting. The skin prickled and itched severely as Kisikoni did his best to remain still. Suddenly, the Orc withdrew his hand, and Kisikoni instantly started touching the healed area as if he couldn't believe it. Grinning slightly, he looked around. People were milling about. Many were standing without orders, simply waiting for more. Shrugging, he walked back into the prison, searching for something to do. Assisting with various things such as helping prisoners of war, checking the bodies, and organizing the crowds, Kisikoni occupied himself with small amounts of busywork until he received his next orders, or until he could find Talae. The voice was quiet enough, though Kisikoni could tell that it watched with cold interest. It always did.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Smacking her lips smoothly, Mercy raised herself from the struggling mass entangled in her webbing. The Child didn't seem frightened, but all the same he continued his frenzied bucking against the extremely resistant webbing. Mercy watched him struggle for a bit, teasingly using one of her legs to poke at his head until she got bored. Leaning back over him, she breathed slowly down his neck, trying to elicit some sort of reaction aside from zealous intent to kill. Receiving none, she huffed slightly in frustration before sinking her fangs into his body, sucking greedily at his blood and consuming his meat until his wild struggles fell still. Using the back of her hand to wipe her mouth, she smiled and turned her voluminous red eyes to meet that of her squad members, who waited patiently for her to finish.

"Yes?" She asked without skipping a beat.

Shrugging, one of them answered "Well, the Commander says it's all clear. The last of them have been captured in the courtyard, and something else about taking them alive." He jerked his head at the fresh corpse. "Looks like you're in for a mouthful."

"Oh please. You know how I get." Mercy replied, rolling her eyes playfully. Another member of her squad chuckled inadvertently, before they all continued back down the stairs to where the bulk of the army was. Standing on a balcony overlooking the mess hall (which is now ruined by wild battle), she lazily saluted her men and allowed them to be at-ease until their next calling. They quickly moved down toward the wandering red-robed Children for healing, while Mercy crossed her arms. Deciding on what to do was troublesome for her, as she really would want to get a drink- but there was probably no liquor present. If there was, it'd be very poor tasting beer- the kind only a prison can have. Not even the bibulous Nightmarian could lower her standards that far just to get drunk. Tapping her chin, she decided to pay a visit to her Commander.

Yes, she would do that. Even as the sly smile spread across her face, she disappeared from the balcony, moving outside and along the walls her voluminous red eyes had no trouble quickly ascertaining the identities of faraway individuals, including Wrath Liu-Wen, who had walked away again to check the perimeter. Or so she assumed.

It didn't take long for her to travel the quick distance climbing over the wall and landing with a resounding "thump" in front of the young General of the Paragon. Hands on her hips, she looked him over quickly before smiling brightly at him. "Well now, dear, aren't you quite the responsible young man, doing this all by yourself." She commented, tilting her head to the side as if trying to get a better view of the Commander. She towered over him, her height augmented by her large abdomen and legs that propped her well above his line of sight. She had to lower herself toward the human, ignoring his aloof aura he exuded by tilting her body toward him- much like a dog would.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Blocking an overhand swing with his shield, Safir felt the shock rattle all the way down to his toes as he turned the mace to the side, and rammed the man with his sword, sending him flying with the force as the steel clawed his innards. Twisting to the left, he deflected another attack with his shield, following up with a vicious overhand chop that nearly cut the elf in half lengthwise. Withdrawing his sword, Safir stuck to the same basic strategy- block incoming attack, put pressure on the opponent and stick a sword in their gut while they are on the defensive or off balance. Lashing out with his foot, he caught a deep human off guard, causing him to clutch his stomach and leave himself open for a chop that broke the skull and sent gray matter splattering onto the ground. Caution worked it's way into every fiber of the human's movements, easily catching movements at his height and stature. However, the halflings were the biggest problem, as they had a knack for sneaking up on things and slitting throats before the victim could notice them. Stories of the famous assassins like Sibius Marvell were dwarfed by the legendary halflings whose natural stealth skills made them hitmen of the highest caliber.

Dresinil had called him. Well, "human' was a general term but considering the circumstances, Safir felt that it was safe the elf was talking to him. Listening to his request, Safir nearly choked in surprise. Backing up against his elfish comrade, he saw the axe defeat a halfling that had escaped his field of vision. Making a quick mental note to be more aware of the quick little bastards, he shook his head slightly. It was only a couple of seconds before he could respond, but it was still quietly vehement.

"The blood is getting to your head, friend." Safir replied carefully, blocking a hit and using the edge of his shield to break the attacking elf's arm. Shoving the man back, a teammate quickly killed him, though who it was exactly was unknown. "Have you not noticed the pile of bodies around him?" He tried to explain as best he could, but in the massive din of battle and often short breathing time between foes, it was very difficult. "He's a Child, but yet he's a captain of a bunch of us." He quickly traded blows with a Nightmarian, slightly put off that it had it's own natural armor. "That's suspicious. Especially since he acts like a complete air-head. No normal person with those traits would be put in such a position."

Of course, none of the Children were normal themselves- most having a fanatical devotion to the Children. Safir was not as mindlessly loving of the dragons, but he did respect them. There really wasn't much influence of the dragons in his upbringing. However, Safir was fairly certain that the Dragons did know who to put in control of their armies and who they shouldn't. Haphazardly appointing useless generals was a surefire way to lose a way, and as he knew it, the Dragons were smarter than the average garden snake he encountered back in his home. "I suggest we wait it out." Safir could afford no more words, as the Nightmarian rounded back on him, attempting to kill him but failing to bypass the shield that Safir's fighting style relied on.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


"Dammit!" Jivven barked as he cradled his injured hand. His dagger was lost the instant the axe severed the finger, most likely never to be seen again. It wasn't worrying to be honest, it wasn't like it was personally his. Besides, there were worse things happening than the misplacement of a simple blade. Such as the loss of the appendage and the offending harpy. The blood ran freely from the stump of a finger and further stained his scorched orange robes. After a moment of indecipherable cursing the the Dark Elf's native tongue. Then Jivven's head shot up and glared into the eyes of the Harpy. "You. You will die, with my boot on your neck," Jivven threatened. It wasn't the words which were frightening, it was the delivery. His tone was empty, dry, foreboding. Dark. All sarcasm or anger was squeezed and only left a cold nothingness. Probably something all Assassins probably did once in a while.

As his tone suggestion, all emotion drained from Jivven. Emotions got in the way of the killing blow. Become angry, and you lose control. Become sad, and you weaken yourself. Become happy, and you lose sight of the kill. Jivven didn't like this state, a state of complete emptiness, of utter and complete control. Yet, as an assassin, he knew the worth of the ability to empty one's mind and to be able to flow like the shadows. It was the difference between life and death. And he would avenge his finger.

The Harpy came in low and quick, looking to bash him with her shield. "Fool," Jivven mono-toned. The harpy had the advantage of height and distance, and she chose to engage him close-quarters? At his diminutive height too? There was no other way to describe the harpy, other than fool. Still hunched over his bloody hand, Jivven waited for the exact moment to evade and counter. Things seemed to slow down for the elf. A mix of pain and adrenaline could do that to a person. One... Two... Three... Now.

He quickly tossed all of his weight on on foot and agilely pivoted counter clockwise. He came once he had made a half circle he could see that the harpy would miss her attack and harmlessly fly passed him. She had no time to direct her moment and smash into him with his little maneuver, and he would be safe. Yet, he didn't just want to be safe. He wanted to punish her. As had his back turned towards the harpy, the leg he didn't pivot on began to stretch out and rise until it was was head height, with Jivven's trunk parallel to the ground. And that's when he struck.

He felt the satisfying thunk as his heel made contact with the back of the harpy's head, and a mirthless grin spread across his face. The harpy fell from the contact and Jivven finished his circle staring at the ground harpy. "Stand up. We aren't done with this dance," He commanded, wrapping his hand with a torn piece of his cloak. He couldn't care less about the state of his wardrobe now.




Liliana Bloodleaf


"Ah," Lily said, looking over the short halfling at the way she had indicating. Though Sid's warning had brought the elf's eyes back down the to halfling, a flash of sadness in them. Only flash however, and just like that they hardened back into their dull blue selves, "Yeah, of course. Thanks," She said, nodding and pushing past Sid. As she walked, she wondered how Turha was doing today... Some days were better than others, some worse. It was true for her as well. Some days she felt like they were fighting a losing battle, the odds stacked against them, and stacking everyday. As if everything was hopeless and they were all just going to die anyway.

However, she always remembered why she was fighting. To end it all. To put an end to a war that had already cost too much, and would probably cost more yet. She was tired of seeing friends die, of watching new soldiers come and go. She just wanted it all to be over, despite the allure of the Gift. ANd she would fight to see it come to fruition, whether she lived or died. It, she didn't matter anyone. She was just another cog in the machine of war. She was tired.

She was brought out of her thoughts upon re-entering the prison. Lily was positive Sid had pointed her this way... This was just another corridor lined with cells. She began to slowly make her way down the hall, checking the cells at her left and right until the very end when she found what she was looking for.

Turha. The tall lanky human with the dark skin. One of two twins, the other of whom was slain in the battle for Herrick, as well a many other comrades. Lily missed Gurgen, as well as both of the brother's bright smiles and electric personalities. Every time she saw Turha, she couldn't help but think of Gurgen. She was sure it was the same for him as well. Now, it was all she could do to even coax a grin from the man. So much loss...

"We did good today," She said softly, the gentlest her voice had been all day. "I didn't lose many, if any, and that's always a good thing," She continued, entering the cell and leaning against the wall across for Turha. "Still think we should had slaughtered the rest of the children though..." She added darkly. She let the silence fill the air for a moment before asking her question, "How are you holding up today?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Pylarea

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

The carnage around the near terror-stricken Nightmarian had been raging for quite a long time, hours it seemed, but maybe it had only been minutes, anyways it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to keep track of the time as fatigue gripped her only half-trained body and mind. Her groups’ markings had mixed effects in this bloody melee, at times it seemed the worst decision she could have made since it brought undue attention upon them, but it also allowed for them to tighten their company and form something akin to a bubble of resistance. Luckily she managed to find herself placed in the very middle of this section, yet even so they were not so tight-knit as to have formed an effective pocket, they still needed room to swing weaponry or move, and with those two factors there was still plenty of space for opponents to mill about.

The world around them was bursting with emotions, both latent and overt, as her natural psionicism began honing in on the environment surrounding her, a whooshing of air from behind rapidly grew louder as a harpy began dive-bombing towards Pylarea. A friendly arrow sent her assailant asunder as it threw the creature off-balance, and a somewhat familiar voice called out in warning. "Get to ground! You make an easy target, butterfly!" Once again the large…was he a dark elf? The two were hard for her distinguish because of her unfamiliarity with the two species, but whatever he was this was the second time he had saved her during a near-death experience.

A behemoth of an elf of their nearby had just become very un-busy as opponents envisioning his slaughter of their comrades backed off very quickly, even she wanted to scramble away from the man, but a strange feeling of joviality and warmth stemmed from his mind as he offered some free advice. “Might wanna use yourself some o’ that steel, lass,” he mentioned with a wink, nudging his toe under the handle of a nearby mace. “Even if you have some o’ the fancy mind-magic, can’ get too distracted, yeah?” Ironically enough though he flipped the same mace into the air to begin using it to bludgeon some rather unintelligent initiates who had thought to get the best of him, was that supposed to be some kind of joke?

Her comrade had a point though. She could really only focus on one opponent at a time, and with the danger of her thoughts becoming as haywire as before when she had forgotten to even grab a weapon from the selection something serious needed to be done, and fast. There was a vast selection of weaponry from which to choose, and it was growing by the minute thanks to the rapidity with which some fellow initiates decided to die, but what should she choose? The axes seemed much too bulky and awkward to be of much use, she did not have any knowledge of how to use bows, and maces just seemed so…filthy! Swords it was then…wait a minute… what was that?

Pylarea began scrambling towards a fallen human-like female with a strange object clasped around her forearm, she might have overlooked the instrument seeing as she had fallen face-down and nearly concealed the entirety of the weapon, but the glint of long a long strand of metal protruding near her thigh made the moth curious. Turning the woman over, not as difficult as she had thought since she was just a little smaller than the Nightmarian herself, the item’s entirety was revealed to her. It was a vambrace of some sort, but with a peculiar set of attachments stemming from the up-side wrist area, which were three long, flexible, metallic whips approximately six foot in length. If a woman of smaller stature than herself had been able to utilize the weapon then so should she, then again the woman was dead now…

After quickly stripping the girl of her possession and readjusting the item to fit her forearm the moth finally stood up prepared for battle! Why was nobody trying to kill her though? Honestly since the harpy had been near-enough to harpooned out of the air by her twice-now savior not many had made an attempt upon her oh so fragile life. Maybe it was because of the fact that every time she was in danger so heroic figure swooped in to save her? More like it was because she seemed to be in close proximity to the biggest and meanest looking of fighters who looked as if they enjoyed nothing better than massacring countless foolish individuals who thought they could make a name for themselves by defeating such daunting foes. Obviously they were fools because the mass of bodies piling up around them could point to no other conclusion to the Nightmarian.

It seemed there was nothing she could do now but wait for someone to want and kill her for whatever reason they may have, whether that be out of curiosity, blood-lust, or simple boredom it did not really make that much of a difference when you thought about it. All you could do when someone tried to stick you with a pointy stick, or beat you senseless with a blunt one, was doing the same back to them! In retrospect she much preferred this new kind of life to that of her old one…she never could have done the same the countless times the breeders had perpetrated such acts on her in the past.

An idea crept into the front most part of Pylarea’s mind as someone finally decided to try her skills. It was a Halfling female who seemed to have taken a disliking to the very large men surrounding the Nightmarian for some reason and wanted to do away with what seemed the easier target. Of course her opponent only thought she was sneaking up on the moth, so it seemed she had few prior dealings with the Nightmarian race or she would know it best to just attack them head on. As the little woman crept within just three feet of her intended victim Pylarea’s antennae began glowing brilliantly, and luckily this particular task did not require much effort to use effectively.

Two of the vicious metallic, whips darted from around the right side of her body to wrap themselves around and up her would-be assailant’s legs and knees, the blades biting deep into the soft flesh of her calves. A wicked smile spread across the Nightmarian’s face as the third whipped itself across her throat, opening up a gaping hole that allowed her precious life force to gush out quickly. Another quick thought sent the now limp body flying lifelessly into a fellow Nightmarian who was busy assaulting the Tin Can Man she had used as support earlier. The least she could do to apologize was by helping him with the task at hand. The wickedness of her smile faded into mere congenialty and beaming pride when the man was able to safely chance a glance in her direction.

Today was definitely a much better one than it had seemed previously…

Setting

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No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
The Paragon

Kelem Prison, Mess Hall


Turha recognized that he was pressing too hard by the sudden flux of crimson energy flowing from the metal chassis. His grim mouth parted in a smile that did not quite reach his eyes. With some regret, Turha eased up the pressure he was applying to the eyes of the war-captive, moving his thumbs away from the eye-holes of the metal mask. The sanguine aura immediately abated, signifying the lessening of pain. Thin veins of blue and green shot through the generally red mist. To Turha's eyes, the eyes of a linker, the act of examining and picking out the nature of these lights was as simple as looking upon a field. Green was life. Blooms of vibrant flowers were emotions, off-color shades of the predominant green signifying variables. Brown and pale colors the ruinous forces. Up until recent months, Turha had used this ability to give life to the mechanical husks his brother created. As of late, however, things had-

"We did good today," the sound of her voice caused Turha's muscles to lock in surprise. His vision slipped back into the sight of the mortal realm, auras and skeins of color fading from view to reveal a bound, emaciated figure slumped in the chair before the linker. His position would have kept Lily from seeing Turha torturing the poor man. Noticing blood smeared on the thumb of his left hand, Turha quickly wiped it away on his black smock. "I didn't lose many, if any, and that's always a good thing, still think we should had slaughtered the rest of the children though..." the long silence that followed was the perfect excuse for Turha to lean over the crate he had been using as a makeshift desk and retrieve the stained parchment he had been glancing at. "How are you holding up today?"

"Fine, thank you." the dark man's response was quiet and curt, if not overly polite. He appreciated the elf's attempts at sympathizing with him, but frankly, her callous attitude towards bloodshed was starting to grate on his nerves. Not that it showed. Folding the paper and slipping it into his pocket, Turha smiled wanly at his friend. "I got a lot of research done today," he said, referring to the work he had been doing with Gurgen's notes and artifice techniques. Those notes that were in his pocket were mostly his brother's....mostly. Learning how to create the soul and the body of the machine was proving an arduous task, and it showed in the perpetual maze of scrapes--old and new--that littered Turha's arms as well as the stubble darkening his chin. He who had been the smaller of the two brother had put on some weight in the form of muscle, despite his lax eating habits. Now more than ever, Turha appeared to be Gurgen's mirror image.

"I just finished collecting a 'red' from this one." he said, pointing over his shoulder at the restrained Child of Fire. In his other hand, Turha held up a small glass bead that glowed with a fierce crimson radiance. He made sure Lily did not know the exact nature of these orbs--coming in hues of blue, red, green, yellow and the occasional shade of violet--and had convinced her that they were modifiers. That was the easy part. Three months back, Turha had found out that crushing these crystals near a construct or golem, releasing the emotional charge within, would cause the simulacrum to increase the parameters of it's abilities. Red caused a surge in ferocity, granting increased speed and strength. Blue calmed the golems down somewhat, but granted increased insight and the ability to make more tactical choices in battle. Yellow allowed for increased magical resistance, and the ability to cast a single basic spell, as green caused minor wounds in the metal(or stone) of the golem's bodies to mend at a steady rate.

With a shrug, Turha pocketed the gem. "Once I extract enough of the essence, you can have it. I also have a couple blues and a yellow." the linker dragged the chair and its occupant out into the hall, and returned to the room to sit down on the crate. He patted the spot next to him, urging Lily to sit. "So...yes. Things are fine. I just figured out what violets can do..."

With a snap of his fingers, a golem that had not been there moments before materialized in the corner of the cell with a popping noise. Turha's personal model, armed with heavy blades where its hands should have been and reinforced armor. "Invisibility. I'd wager the time could range anywhere from three to thirty minutes." after a moment of self-satisfaction, he placed his hand over her own and added: "And how are you?"


Wrath glanced away for a moment, pinching the bridge of his nose and holding the pose until Mercy landed completely. Feigning annoyance, he scowled at the statuesque arachnid woman. Her mockery did not anger him as much as it should have. Not anymore. Waving away the words, Wrath made ready to stare her down. The general did not last more than four seconds before grinning. "I'll admit, it is not easy. But," he added, stepping past her with a light punch to the shoulder, "Things would go a whole lot smoother if mommy dearest took more interest in the affairs of the soldiers, instead of plundered spirits."

After a few more steps forward, Wrath tossed a serious look over his shoulder back at the Mercy. "It's growing again, by the way." he did not explain further, for the answer was obvious--to her and Neira, at least. A split in the shoulder of his leather armor revealed a shiny black carapace underneath instead of skin. Most people would mistake this for exotic under armor, but a few people knew the true nature of the material.


Sitting atop a flat rock, a pretty young woman stared at Wrath expectantly. With bronzed skin and hair the color of polished gold, a figure any woman would die for and eyes as vibrant as a sunset, Wrath could not help but find her appealing. He may have acted on those impulses had he no known the true nature of the creature before him. Her voice--a rough staccato that seemed at odds with her appearance--startled him.

"Ya know, it really irks me." Iridanias said with a grin. Wrath took note of the razor-sharp teeth therein, as he allowed the silence to stretch, expecting an explanation. The woman growled and whipped her head in exasperation. "The way you look at me! Every time we meet, I see hunger in your eyes. Seconds later, it is reluctance, sometimes disgust..." Iridanias gazed at Wrath and bit her lip as she allowed her robe to slide down to reveal more of her leg than was proper. "You mortals rut with different breeds all the time. Would it be so bad to have a tumble in the sheets with a dragon?"

Wrath scoffed and tried not to flush at the suggestion. He was a general, damnit, and this thing before him was no more a woman than Sid was beardless dwarf.

"What do you have to report, lord?" Wrath said.

"Just a few minor battles." iridanias shrugged, abandoning all pretense of seduction. The disguised dragon stretched her limbs and arose from the stone. "Four victories. We have captured two cities, one belonging to Nihalistrix and one belonging to the Gold. Tarsus and his men have beaten back an advance by the Children in the south, and your orc commander has claimed a Civil garrison in the Plains as of this morning...and a failed assault on one of the Civil strongholds in the Imperian."

This caught Wrath's attention. "What is Gurthenemon doing in the Imperian?" it was common knowledge that the Imperian, once a bastion of the Civil empire decades ago, was now a land of desolation and ghost. What the Red Lord could possibly want with the skeleton of that nation, Wrath could not even begin to imagine.

"Wouldn't you like to know, halfbreed."


Minutes later, Wrath returned to the courtyard and relayed his next orders to Sid. She in turn activated a rune of thunder that would magnify her voice, carrying it over to the ears of every man for a mile.

"Pack up and be ready to leave. We march for Talos City in six hours!" the city would provide a brief respite for the soldiers and allow them to resupply.


The Children of Fire

The Tower


From her perch, Aesr purred in satisfaction. The large black dragon stretched languidly across the stone and scanned the melee with interest. Reptilian eyes pinpointed each knot of combat and picked out individuals of interest. First and foremost, she wanted the harpy. It was as if that little witch was trying to catch her attention. Aesr paused, and raised a claw to scratch her chin in consideration. "Oh...she is vying for my favor. How quaint!"


Dresinil was no longer listening. The elf was grunting in frustration as he hacked away at a man without weapons. A human, a rarity like Safir, was not only holding his own against Dresinil, but beating him. Beating was the literal term for the situation as well, as the human exploited each and every opening to bash Dresinil in the face, chest and ribs. It was hurting much more than it should, and the elf concluded that the leather wrapped around the knuckles of his opponent were reinforced with metal studs beneath. Thinking he had finally caught the human off-guard, Dresinil darted in to him with a two-pronged slash with both axes.

The human was fast. So fast. Dresinil's weapons whistled through air. Coming up in a savage uppercut, the human laid Dresinil out flat. The elf could feel a loose tooth and blood in his mouth. The last thing he thought before blacking out was that elves were physically superior to humans. In speed. In strength. In size. In endurance. If he, an elf could not beat that human...what chance did another human have?

Which was bad, considering the pugilist, Gatan, was heading straight for Safir, aiding his nightmarian teammate. While the pale northerner would try his best to incapacitate Safir, killing him was not out of the question.


A thrown dagger buried itself down to the hilt within the soft, exposed flesh of Pylarea's inner thigh. If nightmarians had an artery there, the moth woman would have been in trouble. In this instance, it gave Yulni enough of a distraction to close the gap between them. The halfling was up in Pylarea's face in a heartbeat, her boot, to be precise, kicking the diminutive nightmarian on to the ground. Deftly twisting, Yulni made it a priority to keep just within lashing range of the whip-like weapon but mobile enough not to be constricted.

She had seen what Pylarea had done with those things, and Yulni was going to take this wench down before any more casualties amounted from it.


Elves. How Shasarra hated them so. Dodgy little bastards that did nothing but feed off of the scraps harpies let fall from the sky. Feasting on the refuse and shit of a race greater than their own. Pathetic. Shasarra spat out a glob of blood and something less pleasant and pushed herself off of the gore-strewn ground. She tossed a wicked glare Jivven's way. Lips parted in a gruesome smile that revealed jagged black teeth flecked with spots of red. "No. We are not even close to done, knife-ear!"

Shasarra came in hard and fast. Although it did not seem possible, this particular harpy was even faster landlocked than she was airborne. Unstrapped and whizzing through the air, the shield lead her charge in a deadly throw that would strike Jivven dead center. The harpy flowed around the thrown shield and whipped around to strike at Jivven with her stone-headed axe. Another feint. As soon as the axe even came close, and Shasarra was overcommitted to the attack, the harpy snapped both wings taught.

The attack would come as a surprise to most other creatures, given their ineptitude at accounting for the 'extra' appendages of others. Although it pained her, the force with which Shasarra fluttered her wings with would send a full grown orc sailing. The sheer size of the appendages would make the attack even harder to dodge. The harpy planned to finish this little worm off with a few savage hacks while he was stunned.

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Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


Shields... How Jivven hated the blasted metal bulwarks. Normally this wouldn't have been an issue for the assassin, seeing as most of the shield-bearers he dispatched in the past never even knew he was there and probably didn't realize it until they were sucking air through a new slit in their throats. But here, in a one-on-one engagement with a shield maiden, the odds were stacked against the Dark Elf. Despite talking a big talk and exuding bloody confidence, the shadowdancing git was at a disadvantage. Hell, most of his foes during the free-for-all didn't even see the blade that took their lives, except for maybe the orc and elf.

Jivven hated it. Hated how he was taken out of his shadows, hated how he was placed in a stand-up fight, and hated how he was treated as another stock warrior. Dammit, he was a shadowdancer, a proud member of a storied and feared occupation. It didn't matter if he was an official member or not, he carried the name with pride, and would kill anyone and anything that spoke otherwise. Hell, if he wasn't so bloody sure that the Dragons would win this bloody war, he wouldn't even have tried to become an official member.

Now, where was he? Oh yes, the shield-bearing harpy. She was moving on the ground, rather quickly for a harpy. He expected another blind shield rush, but was surprised when the harpy's arm reared back to throw the shield at him. He had to give the pigeon credit, she had courage. Or stupidity. Stupid courage maybe? Probably. As the improvised discus darted straight towards him looking to snap him in half, Jivven did what any respectable assassin would do. Simply step out of the way. Well, pivot on his left foot. The wind from the shield billowed what little robes he had left and impacted on something behind him. If he had to guess, he'd figure it drilled some poor unsuspecting cur. He couldn't tell, because he wasn't going to take eyes off of the harpy. It was like a Dark Elf tenet or something. "Thou shalt not take eyes from thinne opponent, else receive punishment in thy belly with a dagger." ... Or something.

Then she pressed her advantage, bringing down her axe. A clumsy weapon for barbarians as Jivven thought it, and a strange one to find in the hands of a pigeon. Jivven had his bandaged hand up, ready to guide the axe down and away from Jivven. He had planned to lean out of the way from the intial strike and guide the axe away from his person and finish the fight by sliding his short sword over the axe and into the throat of the harpy. Planned. Plans never survive contact with the enemy. The axe didn't reach him so that he couldn't guide the axe, and couldn't jam the sword into her throat. Instead, his hand slapped at air as a sick snap came from the harpy's wings. That must've hurt like hell. Jivven hoped she'd kill herself.

No such luck, as the attack came in a different form. Wings. Rather the force from the wings. Thanks to Jivven's small stature and almost-nothing weight, the force picked Jivven off of his feet and sent him flying through the air. He came to a rough, yet fleshy stop. He felt himself in the arms of another and immediately had his short-sword pointed at the throat of... an Orc? The orange dust on his cloak stayed his hand, and he remembered what Oraun had said about banding together... Fine. Instead of running it through his neck, he spoke, "My hero," in a dead pan tone. "Thanks," He added, albeit much quieter. However, even though his neck wasn't broken, there was still the issue of the harpy, probably on her way to cut him down right now. Quickly, he grabbed the orc's neck and brought his ear down to him and whispered something.

Suddenly, Jivven felt himself rise further off of the ground and begin to hurtle through the air. At least he listened to him to throw him instead of just snapping his neck. However, Jivven couldn't help but shake the feeling that this is much more satisfying for him... Oh well, Jivven bet this would catch that bloody pigeon off-guard. Jivven pulled back his sword and planned on carving the turkey up on contact.




Liliana Bloodleaf


Finally, her friend's silence was broken with an admission of his well-being. He was fine. On the outside anyway. They were all perfectly fine on the outside. The same could not be said for what lay underneath the surface. Lily still couldn't quite read Turha since... Well, since Herrick. She'd gotten better at it. She knew what topics not to press. Yet she didn't know what went on in his mind most of the time. Then he smiled at her. It was a weak one, but a smile nonetheless. Likewise, she reciprocated the gesture with a small smile of her own. Smiling was a lot harder than it should be nowadays. Bah, sometimes all of the angst got on her nerves, yet she would never express it. She understood she too was hard to get along with now.

"Research huh?" Lily asked. Her curiosity was peaked now. Her eyes drifted to what he worked on and listened to him speak. She knew he was working on something or another that increased the efficiency of the golems. To be honest, most of these things Turha worked on went well above the head of Lily. She was raised in the forest in a hunter's clan. They didn't have readily availability of golems or technology of the like. The best they got were intricate bows and the odd spellcaster every now and then. Even now, spending years away from her clan, she didn't fully understand the concepts. All she knew was that golems were hell on the battlefield and her own personal golem had a flaming paint job and could fly. But what else could a simple forest girl want?

"Red huh?" she said glancing at the Child Turha indicated and back to the red jewel. Again, she didn't fully understand these... Things, only the general idea of what they did. Even then it was more common sense than intricate knowledge. Color coded for her convenience it seemed. "Oh? I get the red one? That'll make riding Marky fun," She said with an entertained smile. Marky, a pet name for her golem, the Liliana Mk. II. A gift from both Turha and Gurgen. Her smile lasted the whole time Turha took to drag the Child into the hall.

Lily then stepped away from the wall and took the seat next to Turha, "Violet? What do they-" with a snap and a pop, a golem that was not there before appeared in corner of the cell. Lily twitched and squeaked in surprise. "Well, I bet... That'll be a nasty surprise for someone," She added, trying to compose herself. Lily let Turha have his moment as she watched the golem, waiting for it to blink back out of existence.

"And how are you?"

Funny how such a simple question could be so difficult to answer truthfully. "Well enough I suppose. Well, great considering that almost everyone wants the Paragon dead," She said with a tone of humor. "Adel, Zyn, and Landion are coming into their own. Great archers, all of them. I'm proud of them, but don't tell them that," She said, pointing a finger at Turha, "They might get cocky, and I'd never hear the end of it." She sat there in silence for a minute staring at the plain wall in front of her. Even when not talking, she felt comfortable around Turha. Despite his distanced nature and her bluntness, she wished they could spend more time together. A memory came back to her, a night in the bar with both Turha and Gurgen. She remembered waking up and tripping over the brothers outside her own tent, the morning after they had escorted her to it. How she missed those days. A smile curled around her lips when she remembered their answers when she asked what they were doing. "Getting acquainted with the ground." one had said. "She's a rather cold madam," the other.

Then she began to laugh. Not chuckle, nor giggle, but laugh. It had been a while since she last laughed. "The violet one makes them invisible?" She asked once she had control of herself. "Imagine if I gave Marky one of those and flew into battle on him!" She began to laugh again. The thought was too funny to not laugh at. Over the sound of her laughter, Sid's loud voice could be heard. "Pack up and be ready to leave. We march for Talos City in six hours!" Yet it seemed so far away for Lily.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Children of Fire
The Tower of Nihalistrix the Black



Shasarra had launched herself into the air as soon as she’d become aware that her attacks had not done quite the damage she would have preferred. Fine. If he wished to behave like a fish in a stream, slick and dodgy, she would hunt him like one. Two powerful, if painful, wing-strokes lifted her into the air, and the proud hawk-woman scooped another shield from a dead man, still maintaining her clawed grip on her one-handed battleaxe. Her golden-eyed predator’s gaze locked on to Jivven, in enough time to widen in shock before the little bastard (no smaller than her, but who was keeping track?) was launched right at her.

Frantically, Shasarra tried to gain altitude, the better to avoid those weapons aimed right for her, and though her maneuverability in open space was easily superior to this wingless hack, she found herself with two choices: let something hit her, or…

Clawed hands latched onto Jivven’s forearms, and she braced herself as well as she could for the extra weight she was about to assume. They were both lucky he was so light; she wasn’t the strongest herself, and if he’d weighed any more, they’d both be plummeting for the ground right about now. “Stop struggling, you little shit!” she hissed at him, “unless you want us both to die!” As if to emphasize her point, she moved still further upwards, hoping to get her encumbered self out of arrow-range. She did not particularly care if he got hit, but her wings were sore enough already without wooden projectiles sticking out of them. She considered simply dropping him from sufficient height, but chances were he’d catch on and drag her down with him, a not-particularly-nice option. For now, then, it seemed the best chance they had of staying alive was finding somewhere safe to land.

Sweat beaded across the harpy’s fair brow as her wings worked overtime to keep them both from their deaths, but it seemed someone had a much more powerful bow than she was accustomed to, for she saw the arrow headed for them just a bit too late. For the briefest moment, she contemplated swinging her burden in front of the oncoming projectile to take the hit, but that was dishonorable and beneath her, more fitting of scavengers than any true sky-hunter.

A pained hiss was the only reaction she gave when the arrowhead punctured her unarmored side, but it knocked her off-balance, and suddenly they were tilting very swiftly sideways, headed for a solid-looking stone wall. The still air whistled past her ears with all the sharpness of dwarven steel, but she would not lose her presence of mind over something so minor as impending death. Looking down at her accursed passenger, she spoke through gritted teeth. “As soon as we get close enough to the ground, I’m dropping you. If you’re smart, you’ll let me.”

True to her word, she released her hold on Jivven about fifteen feet from the floor, but her momentum was too much to correct, and the stone wall rushed to meet her much faster than she had expected. There was a crunch, and Shasarra felt one or two of her ribs give way beneath the press of stone. She slid the rest of the way down, barely maintaining her hold on consciousness through the black haze that fogged her vision.

“Cease.” The voice, though not overly impressive in volume, carried all the weight of a life-or-death order, and without being able to see from whence it had issued, Shasarra knew the dragon had spoken. So, it seemed, did everyone else, for all motion halted instantly. Between ragged, short breaths, the harpy heard the elf-Thane issuing further commands, and at once, the room was flooded with other Children, these ones immediately setting about the business of removing corpses. Several red-robed Silenced began attending to the injured, and the harpy sighed her relief, though the exertion required brought on a lung-wracking cough. One of the mages was at her side immediately, and the pain slowly abated.

It would seem that all those still standing had passed. The treble hum of Ethne’s voice failed to break the haze over Shasarra, but doubtless most of the rest would have heard her tell them that they were now free to use the novitiates’ quarters, bathe, eat, and select new weapons and armor, the latter of which would be worn over or under the white robes as necessity dictated.

“Welcome, Children, to the fold. Fight well.”

Vortigern shook his head, clearing the red haze of controlled fury from his vision and looking about. Everywhere, battle had ceased, for even the most violent among them did not dare disobey the orders of Nihalistrix herself; that much had been clearly impressed upon them by the fates of the unchosen in the hellish stone bowl-pit. Shrugging, he holstered his weapons and offered a hand to the human woman he’d been a hairsbreadth from decapitating. She took it shakily, and he lifted her to her feet without much discernible effort.

When they were told they were free to clean up and eat, he wasn’t really sure which way to go, but the Captain oh-so-helpfully pulled open a door at the right side, looking over the bloodied mess of recruits that remained. Like the rest, the towering elf filed into line to receive minor medical treatment from those freakish red-robes with their mouths sewn shut, and then passed through the doorway into what looked to be a barracks-like stone hallway. Several opened doors held simple lodgings, all with fresh linens piled on the ends of beds. Differences in species had been accounted for, as a few rooms contained places for harpies to roost and so forth. Shrugging, he walked into the first one and looked around. Nothing too special, but perhaps a bit nicer than he’d been expecting. Such things hardly mattered to him, though, so he figured he’d set about finding something to clean his weapons with and then the baths, in that order.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Thalion Simonides

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image Tugging at the packaging, he allowed the salted fish to be hauled away by men with stronger arms than himself. Kisikoni knew that the fish would spoil soon, but it they still had enough time to consume it before moving on to the more well-preserved rations that the Paragon had. It would bolster their resources temporarily, and salted fish wasn't the worst thing to eat- especially if it was a change from vension or hard bread. Checking the back of the storage room, his sharp eyes swept the dark shelves and found nothing more that could be salvaged. The spirits, as requested by Mercy had all been taken earlier- though by the looks of it Kisikoni estimated about a quarter had gone bad from poor preservation. Nobody liked the taste of bad champagne. Grinning slightly, Kisikoni entertained himself with the thought of becoming a chef when this was all over- due to the many years on the road and away from a home he became quite knowledgeable on what spices made a food taste good (because eating the same broiled meats would have driven him nuts) and how to preserve them well.

Reality was not quite as generous, however. The end was still a long way to go, and though the war may end some day, for better or worse, he still had his own inner demons to worry about. Closing the door, he took a paintbrush and slopped a big, red "X" on the rotted, wooden door to indicate that it had been cleared out. Moving out into the courtyard, he saw that there were still a multitude of supplies left to move around. At this rate, they could be finished before-

"Pack up and be ready to leave. We march for Talos City in six hours!"

Yep. Enough time before they moved out. Talos city was their destination, but Kisikoni was quite sure he had heard it somewhere outside of the books. Where, he could not remember. However, he did read an amusing epic recommended by Alistair about a human named Talos that became a god through his great deeds across a fictional continents. He also did remember the elves being very petty about it. Sadly, the author, Beth Es'da had yet to finish the epic as detailed to him by the androgynous harpie. He would have to seek it out when he had the time.

He looked over, tilting his head slightly to get a crick in his neck and noticed the white-haired elf that stood idly with some sort of mount. Was it a mount? He wasn't too sure, but the thing didn't look too friendly. He remembered him from recruiting, as very few people in general had shock-white hair. Beelzes did, but it was because of all the magical stress during the Siege of Herrick.

"Hey, Private Thalion! Get over here and help me with these bags, boy!" He said, mustering up the most mature and booming voice he could. He pointed at the pile of supplies and the wagons in succession.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Mercy returned a smile in kind. As often as she gave smiles, this one in particular was warm. It felt almost foreign on her face, as one so accustomed to lewd notions and drunken grins. Speaking of drinks, once again Wrath decided to comment on her habit of consuming half the spirits in stock within a single night again. She rolled her eyes, running a hand through her hair. "The soldiers don't taste half as good." She replied, waving away that notion. Both she and Wrath knew that she lead her own soldiers well enough, though they lacked the steely discipline that Lilly recently began to command from her troops. They were comfortable (mostly) with her, and she was very comfortable with them, and that was how it should be.

Even as she followed the General as he began his slow walk, he turned back and noted that it was growing again. Mercy shrugged slightly. It wasn't like Nightmarian-Human crossbreeding was normal, but it wasn't rare. Chitinous plates were an unfortunate by-product of the event, but she wasn't exactly too stressed about it. Like any mother would have, she did worry at first- but even after extensive research that she did while traveling to meet up with Wrath's legion, she found not a shred about it, or any implications it had. So, she decided to worry about it when the time came, as there was no point in babying him because of it. He wouldn't like it very much either. He did seem to be rather concerned about it, and it looked so cute.

It was very hard to resist cuddling him like a stuffed animal.

She followed him, eventually coming upon the disguised Red: Iridanias. Mercy was impressed with her morphing ability, which would have been more than useful for herself in many occasions. However, unlike Wrath she didn't seem to care much about her amazing figure. Mainly because Mercy simply thought she looked better, and that she wasn't homosexual. She was still slightly annoyed by her comments, despite how true they were.

"Apologies, but do I detect yearning? I have heard unsettling comedies- er, tales about dragons in heat." She commented snidely. Whether Iridanias would respond to that or not, she still settled back and listened to the report intently. As Wrath queried the Big Red's intentions with the Imperian, her voluminous red eyes sharpened considerably at the Red's remark. For a brief moment, she wondered what dragon's blood tasted like. It was an interesting thought, though she suspected it would be many times hotter than that of Children's blood. She never did handle spicy food well. She calmed herself down. Trying to avoid staring daggers into the dragon's eyes.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Safir did not have time to react as his elfish comrade was easily beaten by a martial-artist who used nothing but a set of knuckles and his limbs. Dresinil fell, unconscious just as Safir was busy tangling with the Nightmarian, which was, in all cases, bad. However, he had a nightmarian of his own backing him up- the Moth from earlier that had so helpfully doused him and his team with orange spores. He was almost hopeful, if it weren't for the fact that she was busy as well, fighting a halfling that was smart enough to use the weaknesses of Pylarea's weapon of choice. Grunting, he managed to throw the Nightmarian that battered uselessly against his shield off for a precious moment.

"An eye for an eye!" Safir bellowed, feinting an attack on the Pugilist and twisting around the moth-girl, attempting to distract Yulni by throwing a fearsome haymaker that threatened to pummel the lone halfling if she did not dodge. However, in that moment Gatan realized his folly, redoubling his efforts along with the Nightmarian- who raised his sword-dagger combination. Safir snarled, glaring at the both of them as he readied his dented shield. A shame, the one his mother enchanted would never have bent so easily.

Gatan rushed in first, attempting to dance around his shield. However, unlike Dresinil, Safir was more level-headed and defensive compared to the elf's raging offense. Though the fist-fighter was quick, his eyes were quicker and he quickly pivoted, swinging the sword around to where his shield would have been. However, Gatan easily rolled under it- allowed the Nightmarian to jump on his exposed back. Safir had not forgotten about the ant-like warrior, as he twisted again to bring the shield up and bash his armored arms. The dagger flew from his hand, but the Nightmarian had more than his sword to fight with. Hissing, the bug grabbed the shield reflexively, rooting Safir to the spot. Roaring, the knight tried to hoist the shield away from the Nightmarian, but failed to push away before Gatan could recover and dash back, landing two crushing blows to Safir's side and face. The shock caused Safir to cough, clearing his mouth of what liquid there was. He recovered quickly, because unlike Dresinil, his body was trained to ignore blunt trauma- Knight armor had the ability to block cuts and scrapes, it could not protect somebody from blunt force, which was why Safir had been conditioned to deal with it as best he could. Retaliating with a sword swing, The pugilist easily dodged it, but Safir used the Nightmarian as a pillar of balance and launched a leg sweep that caught the Pugilist off-guard, full in the face.

Grinning slightly, Safir watched him roll across the ground completely stunned before bashing at the Nightmarian's fingers that gripped the shield. The trick to dealing with the martial artists was to catch them off guard. Whether it be kicking dust into their eyes, going for a drop-kick, or biting his hands as he tries to grapple you. He managed to force the Nightmarian to let go of his shield, before proceeding to take quick jabs at him from behind the cover of his shield. The nightmarian was forced on the defensive, but even as Safir thought things were going well, He felt a hostile presence and realized that his leg sweep was a lot less paralyzing than he hoped. Forming a chokehold on him, Gatan proceeded to throw the Knight off balance, while landing as many blows as he could on his exposed back. They hurt, pretty badly. Roaring, he raised his shield arm to throw the Pugilist off him but a cutting voice told them to cease.

Just like that, the test was over. Children garbed in red cossacks began to pour into the battlefield, tending to the injured. Safir looked at the Nightmarian, who shrugged and sheathed his weapons. He then turned to the pugilist, who promptly hopped off his back and began shaking himself off. "Nice sweep." the fist-fighter admitted grudgingly. Safir grinned at him.

"Not so bad yourself, martial artist." He replied in kind, before searching for the unconscious Dresinil. He found him being tended to by the children, though still unconscious. He shrugged. At least that meant he was still alive. He took a look around, hoping Pylarea had survived her fight in with the Halfling- it would have been a damned shame if his brief distraction didn't help in the slightest.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
The Paragon

Kelem Prison


Iridanias spared Mercy a quick glance, not deigning to look the petty insect in full as doing so would most likely invoke the dragons ire. Just the comment itself, as foolish and innocuous as it was, got a rise out of the disguised dragon. The impression of scales rippled across Iridanias's flawless skin for a brief moment and a smell like charred flesh assailed Wrath's senses. Upon seeing the human's disconcerted expression, Iridanias quickly calmed herself. The dragoness smoothed her dress and flashed a winning smile at Mercy. A smile punctuated by wicked incisors.

"You'd be surprised, bug. I've heard that you insects make excellent aphrodisiacs."

Scowling, Wrath turned on his heel and stomped off. As he did so, the young general shot Mercy a disappointed look that a father would make at a petulant child for saying something inappropriate in public. She had done so well up until that point.


Three days later
Talos City, Town Square


As of high noon, on the third day of the month of Dinn, Summer had officially begun. The city of Talos, with its high towers and multitude of establishments was shimmering with heat. The red clay of the roads was baking, and no citizen was outside that day. Bad news for the Paragon, as that meant no building was left unoccupied. Wrath and his troops were left to rot in the sun, and the mayor still forced the commander to pay the local tariff for occupying the square in a non-profit mode. Wrath spat, and was not surprised to see it fade away on the heated walkway.

A few minutes ago Sid had ordered what few mages the legion still possessed to conjured as many forms of relief from the sun as they possibly could. Sheltering a few hundred soldiers was no small order, however, so the second in command had the tarps set up as makeshift tents wherever possible. The army was spied upon from windows by townsfolk observing the curious spectacle. Small rainclouds, blots of shadow and magically grown trees provided shade and cooling for spots within the Paragons ranks.

Wrath himself was seated on a barrel under one of the mundane tarps. The heat was no less oppressive, despite the shade. Sid sat a few paces away, adjusting and oiling the components of her dual crossbows. An equidistant but opposite meter away was Iridanias, reclining in the sun just outside of the tarp in human form. As of now, his officers would be heading in to town to resupply and grab regeants.


From the dim room of an inn across the square, two men traded secrets in hushed tones. Once in a while, the smaller of the two would indicate someone specific in the crowd of milling soldiers. After a heated discussion, an agreement was made. One man remained with a bulging sack of coin and a list of names for his effort. The other ten occupants in the room arose from their seats on the couch and floor to review what had been said. Picking off a few soldiers that wandered to far from the heard was child's play.


The Civil

The Imperian


Ponderous things, Nhil thought, surveying the grounds before him. Titanic creatures strode forward on feet as wide as horse-drawn carts, cracking dry earth and leaving rumbling in their wake. Each was as large as a small tower, sporting four massive legs in addition to human-like arms. Dull white reflected the murky daylight, as most of the undead creatures had shed skin and flesh weeks ago. Ogres, they were called. Or they were called, Nhil mused. The giant offshoot of the Savage bloodline had met a swift and bloody end once Nhil caught wind of their existence. Now, the ogres served the lord of the Civil in death as lumbering engines of war.

The soldiers marching beneath and around the ogres were not even phased by the presence of the monstrosities. Indeed, most soldiers of the Civil were oblivious to the tainted nature of the undead, so widespread was their deployment. Ever since Nhil had reformed the Civil, necromancy was removed from the list of restricted magical arts. Now, an arcanist trained specifically to handle the undead was not the only one allowed to. Almost as soon as the original edict had been amended, aspiring necromancers arrived at Nhil's doorstep in the hundreds. By now, the general would not be surprised if the undead warriors outnumbered the living.

Shrugging as if the matter was trivial, the bone-white deep human proceeded along the scorched plain in silence. Miralight was somewhere nearby, no doubt maintaining the ogres and checking how stable the energy was that animated them. With a wave of his hand, Nhil summoned a group of twenty soldiers to his side. These men and women, heavily armored all, moved with a stiff and robotic gait. As they came to a halt, it would become apparent that none of them were living. A ghastly glow emanated from the eyes of the undead soldiers, creating the unsettling impression that fire burned within the creatures.

"Scout ahead. I want the next two villages marked and reported." without any sort of acknowledgement, the zombified soldiers began jogging towards and past the front of the procession, seeking the next settlements. Those blasted Children of Fire had depleted over half of his undead host, and agood portion of the living one as well. Nhil felt it was time to restock.

Hours later, when blackened earth gave way to green grass, he knew the time to do just that was near.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Pylarea

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
The few moments of glee Pylarea had derived from her quick victory over the Halfling woman proved short-lived indeed as a vicious jab of reality was soon flying in her direction, literally. A dagger had been flung from the capable hands of yet another Halfling woman who was even then barreling her way towards the wounded Moth. There seemed to be no end to these vicious little creatures, maybe it was because of their diminutive stature no one really considered them a threat, whatever the case their assumptions were wrong. These fiends were despicable, daring, and dangerous.

Pylarea was given barely enough time to even utter a shout of pain as the impish woman plowed into the near incapacitated Nightmarian, kicking her forcefully to the ground in the process and using the momentum to continually beat her with open fists. Luckily the weapon she had been carrying previously was planted firmly in the moth’s thigh, or she would be in immediate danger, not that having a child-like devil pounding on your head was good by any stretch of the imagination, but with her natural defenses the blows did not hurt as much.

Unfortunately the beast caught wind of this fact and started desperately fumbling for any vantage her body might give her; all the soft spots were up for grabs. Pylarea tried desperately to utilize the weapon clasped upon her wrist, but the fiend was too close and she too disoriented by the furious barrage. All she could try and do right now was fending off the little cretin off and try to dislodge her from the seat upon her own chest. A shifting of the weight on her torso gave rise to instinctual motions as the moth took the split-second chance to toss the imp off of her chest and take the upper-hand position. Of what could have distracted the woman for that moment Pylarea was uncertain, but she was definitely sure that she had the advantage now.

She was both larger than the Halfling and much more powerful, to her surprise. It had always been taught to them that Nightmarians were superior beings, but she could never have assumed it would be so blatantly obvious. Pylarea wrestled vehemently with the woman until she managed to trap both of the Halfling’s wrists beneath one of her hands, no easy chore yet expedited thanks to the other species’ smaller build, and was trying desperately to use her other to pummel the fiend. It proved much harder to land a blow than the moth had anticipated as the imp kept wriggling like a maggot whilst thrashing her feet about, kicking the Nightmarian’s backside with her tiny feet.

“Cease.”

The momentous shockwave emanating from the order was not voluminous in origin, but tonal. The mere sound of the word itself carried all the weight necessary to force the combat to an end, right there and right now, and Pylarea’s struggle was no exception to this phenomenon. Immediately she had loosened her grip upon the struggling Halfling, who herself had ceased her resistance and seemed similarly awestruck, but the paralytic effects quickly wore off as the woman forced herself out from under the moth.

“Get off me you fat cow!” She quickly withdrew the dagger from Pylarea’s thigh as she sped off about her own business.

It seemed the Halfling had not taken any wounds during the last two conflicts, or if she did they did not phase her in the slightest, but the Nightmarian was now bleeding profusely upon the stone floor beneath her. That is she was until a Child adorned in red robes stopped before her to administer healing magic to the wound. After mere moments the bursting flow had ceased and the gaping hole had sealed itself. She wanted to thank whoever it was that had just healed her, but when looking up to meet their eyes she was horrified at the sight placed before her. The man’s lips had been sealed shut.

Some words were spoken and initiates began filing up and leaving the battleground to file through a doorway off to their right which had just recently been opened. There was word of food, bathing, and rest for the lot of them should they so desire any or all of the amenities listed, and the mere thought of all filled Pylarea with intense feelings of relief and joy. What to do first though, for certainly each comfort had its own advantages. Warm, soothing waters for a bath would more than likely relax every muscle in her body and force the moth’s status into that of sleep, but no matter how much she desired the pursuit she needed sustenance first.

Looking down at her robe made the Nightmarian think twice about such circumstances though, she was covered in grime from the day’s toils, and there was no way she would be seen anywhere in her current state, much less consider eating like this. The rooms quickly filled up, but Pylarea found one to her liking, nothing special like the harpies’ roosts and whatever the other races might need, just a simple bed with clean linens. She scooped up the clean clothes, placing her weapon upon a shelf to indicate the room was taken, and proceeded to scout out the baths. Luckily it did not take long to find them as many of the other initiates were intent upon the same goal as she, and soon she was able to dip part of her body in the relaxing, warm waters.

It was a shame she had wings to worry about, otherwise she would merely plop right into the soothing bathes and be done with the business, but she could not chance getting them wet. Instead she had found a nice seat where she was submerged up to her waist, but her wings were still safe from any harm. With a generous smile planted across her face the moth began washing the grime from her body slowly, basking in the radiance of such a peaceful moment after her dreadful day. At least it had not turned out as bad as she had thought.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lyn Elanassë

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Shaodow
Lyn Elanasse
The Paragon

Lyn had finally arrived at the city of Talos, his ashen skin was glistening with sweat all over his body and he walked with his right hand cupped on his forehead to shield the sunlight he was still getting used to from his eyes. The heat seemed to barrage him from every angle, the towers, the homes, even the clay roads gave off heat which slightly burned his bare feet. Through the glare of the sun he could make out some makeshift tents further down the road and assumed it was were he needed to go, seeing as there were no citizens occupying the streets of the city who ever took refuge from the sun beneath the tents must have been Paragon soldiers. He grimaced at the thought of joining this military group baking in the sun and suddenly missed his cool subterranean home, but he had come to far o turn back now and he was ready to give his feet a rest.

He found himself lost in thought as he approached he nearly bumped into a soldier leaving the apparently in effective shelter of the tarps to seek out relief from the sun's harsh rays, fortunately he snapped out of it in time to side step the man, in heat like this tempers reached unusual heights and the last thing he needed was an altercation before he officially began his life as a soldier in The Paragon.

Lyn's eyes shifted between the the faces of a man sitting on a barrel and a woman tending to her ordinance no further than a few paces away, he was unsure of weather they were expecting him to report in or whom he should be reporting to, he merely cleared his throat to gain their attention before he introduced himself without being prompted to do so " I am Lyn Elanasse, I wish to add my strength to the ranks of The Paragon " He announced, cutting right to the chase. Still he was not even sure if he was speaking to anyone who held a significant amount of influence or just another pair of soldiers so his next question was more than necessary " may I ask, who is the commanding officer here? " his voice was somewhat deep, he wore a permanent scowl on the seemingly sculpted features of his face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Otowar
The days passed quickly on the long travel to Talos City. Torga had stuck with a few of his own kind. Since the ordeal at the prison, he wanted as little extended contact with the other members of The Paragon as possible. It had him wondering what kind of person the world was making him into. He had never necessarily been prejudiced based on race, but as of late, it seemed like other Orcs were the only ones he could trust. There was an air of honor about them; No matter what tribe they came from, there was a sense of racial camaraderie, or at least the shaky notion that non-warring tribes wouldn't simply sink their steel into a fellow Orc. The same could not be said for the other races.

Humans especially.

They were all the same, it seemed like. Lust and greed were commonplace in Human society. Though the ends were different, the means were never far off from each other. Humans simply take what they want. They disregard the sanctity of life and nature, and for their greed, thousands were already dead. The only race that seemed more sadistic and sinful than Humans were Dragons. Indeed, if Torga blindfolded himself to appearance, a typical Dragon would not be dissimilar in motive to a typical Human.

As they closed in on the city, the first thing Torga noticed was the heat. It was intense enough to distract his cautiousness towards the other members of The Paragon. Torga considered it a sign from the elements. Normally a climate like this brought out to the surface the best or the worst in people, and with all the mages producing shade, and other troops erecting tents, it was obvious that Torga would have to unload his uneasiness for the time being.

Torga held out in the heat as long as he could before having to resort to magic of his own, though shade was not his primary concern. Over the years, he had picked up a small degree of utilitarian spells. Though he took part in erecting overhangs of earth and stone to provide shade, he had a more dynamic solution in mind. One particularly useful spell allowed the caster to make the recipients more in tune with nature, and more comfortable with intense heat and withering cold. In the mean time, he cast it only on himself; If many others knew the nature of the spell, he would probably have a line of soldiers and citizens alike lining up to receive its boon. "On the other hand," Torga thought, "it could prove to be a lucrative business venture." Torga snarled as the thought poked its ugly head. That was human talk. Trying to make a profit off of the ill fortune of others. He could offer relief, but if he did, it would not be for a price. It was neither his nor his people's way to think solely of themselves.

For the time being, it would be his own little secret. It wasn't as though he hadn't handled his fair share of discomfort on the part of others.

As beads of sweat began to dissipate from Torga's forehead, he began to remove his heavy furs; Although he had some relief, it wasn't as though his pelts were going to make matters better. He inspected his weapons. They had taken more damage in the prison than he could remember inflicting on them in all of his travels across Norr. The intense heat of the fire breath he had been subjected too had taken its toll on his sword, at least. The tip that had made its way through the body of the Child he had impaled was actually chipped and to a small degree, showed signs of melting. Torga began to think about how lucky he had been to have avoided the brunt of the blast. He wasn't sure what the melting point of his sword was, but he was almost certain that his own was lower. His axe was not quite as considerably damage, but when dealing with any serrated weapon, proper care of the blade was very important to keeping deadly sharpness.

Torga navigated the Town Square, openly acknowledging his need for a weapon. He was never very good in somewhat closed areas with a large number of people. Reverberations and tremors of footsteps resounded in his head as the made their way through the hewn, red bricks of the street. Rumors bounded about a dragon throughout the ranks, though whether it was supposed to be a secret- and whether Torga was supposed to care- were completely free to speculate about. Torga investigated the makeshift Armory's selection of weapons, hoping to replace his own rather unique blade with something at least slightly similar. He was having some difficulty coming to a conclusion on weapons. Perhaps it was time for him to switch things up a bit.

Setting

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Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


Bloody pigeon... Jivven couldn't drive his sword into the bird because she had managed to catch his forearms. “Stop struggling, you little shit! unless you want us both to die!” "Hell, I thought we were fighting!" Jivven remarked punctuated by a mid-air lurch. Perhaps the harpy was right, he had best stop the struggling for the time being. He'd just have to hang on until an opportunity presented itself where he could attack without the risk of dying himself. Instead he opted to hold on to the Harpy's arms for dear life. It's not like she could keep up with both their weights after all, and she'd have to land sooner or later.

A wet impact and another lurch signified that the harpy had been struck by an arrow. Jivven winced and spoke, "Ouch, I bet that hurt like hell," He said with sympathy. Considering if she was to die, he was too, he was a little bit more... Receptive to her injuries. Still arrows whizzed past them, enough for Jivven to turn around and bark, "Dammit, stop that! I'm up here too," Then jerked his head out of the way and dodged an arrow looking to plant itself in his skull. "Who's ever that was, I'll kill you personally!" He barked.

“As soon as we get close enough to the ground, I’m dropping you. If you’re smart, you’ll let me.” The harpy said, bringing Jivven's crimson eyes toward her. Pride told him not to listen and ride her down like a bat out of hell, victorious. But the much larger survival instinct screamed listen to her and live for the next fight. The drow, having lived most of his years because of this survival instinct, decided to listen to it. Upon the release, Jivven once again felt the sensation of flying through the air. He was falling backwards straight for the ground. If he kept at his current trajectory (straight down) he would snap his spine. He had to shift his momentum, extremely difficult in a free-fall.

Lucky, the dark elf was agile, lithe, and most of all, small. If he was large, he wouldn't be able to do this. Of course, if he was large, he wouldn't be in the air to begin with, but whatever. He wasn't big. He twisted in the air and at the last minute, rolled when he hit ground coming to a stop with the edge of a sword at his throat. He could see the eyes if his assailant, a human, glint with the joy of his luck. Before he could finish the job though, a commanding voice ordered, "Cease." And just like that, the blasted free-for-all was over.

"About damn time," Jivven muttered head titled back with the sword at his throat. The human looked to the dragon, and the glared back to the dark elf, "Lucky bastard," he spat. "Quite," Jivven remarked, eyes glancing down at his own sword. The human followed his gaze and came to find a short sword angled under his rib cage, ready to rip through his internal organs. "Wha- Oh.. You," The human said pointing at Jivven with his other hand. He seemed more amused by it than angry. Jivven chuckled and as one removed both blades from each other.


“Welcome, Children, to the fold. Fight well.”


Jivven looked at the shoddy short sword in his hand and scoffed in disgust. He threw it over his shoulder and reached inside his torn cloak to empty the supply of throwing stars. Not like he could use them now, with his finger being as it was... Not attached. "Hey! Red! Com'ere, I've got a problem," he said, beckoning to a nearby silenced. Jivven pulled off the bloodied cloth and showed her the missing appendage. "Can you do something about this? Maybe... Reattach it?" He asked. In reply, she handed out her hand for the missing appendage. "Oh... Well.. About that.." he said, turning and examining the battlefield. He hadn't a clue where he lost it. He turned to the silenced and smiled before sighing heavily, "I've lost it, haven't I?" He asked. To which the silenced nodded, "Well... Fuck. Can you at least close it up? It hurts like a son-of-a-bitch." The silenced sighed and took his hand. A glowing light and a tingly feeling later, a nub replaced the shorn bloody stump. It was still tender and raw, but at least it stopped bleeding. He turned over his hand, examining it. "That's going to take a while to get used to... Wonder if I can still find the finger and keep it as a souvenir. Like a necklace," he said, looking around again. He didn't see the silenced sigh and move on to the next. When Jivven turned back she was gone, "Hey wait! What about these... Burns.. and.. what?" He said. Sometime in there, she had also removed the burns and scratches from him. Huh.

He shrugged, and looked over to where the harpy had landed. He saw her being attended by another silenced, to which nodded. Good, he'd hate for the pigeon die after all of that. He had to admit, she was capable, and for what it was worth, earned a bit of respect from Jivven. Though really, what was the worth of respect from an assassin? He continued to look, taking stock of what had happened and the battlefield around him. He shrugged and began making his way to what he thought was the armory. He felt naked without a weapon of some kind, plus he was going to have find something to do with the nub. He was postive he could turn it into a advantage. As he walked, he chewed on his lower lip.

"Right then," Jivven said, thinking, "Make a list of things to do. First, find my black cloak and weapons. Second, bathe. Third, eat. Forth, dance a jig on top of Oraun's grave. Damn man has to be dead." Jivven said, chuckling. Then, he remembered something important. Something he could not do without...

"Hey! When can I start shooting fire?!"




Liliana Bloodleaf


Flight. There was nothing quite like it that many creatures could experience. Dragons and Harpies both lived in the sky along with certain species of nightmarian, yes, but did they truly experience the joy of it? Being born and raised in the clouds, could they truly appreciate the freedom that was gifted to them? Such as the joy and amazement one who had spent her entire life on the ground would experience? Despite being paired with the flying golem for close to five years now, the exhilaration she experienced while in the air never faded. In the air, she forgot all of her problems and the war seemed so far away. Almost as far away as the ground was to her. The wind whistled past her golden locks, dancing in the air behind her.

The saddle was made especially for her, by her. The saddle itself was thin leather with a number of thick handles near her hands and thick stirrups for her feet. A quick release belt for evasive flying was also present, but it wasn't in use as she wasn't evading anything. There was also a specially made quiver with a contraption at the mouth that allowed for a number of arrows that wouldn't spill out during a flip or dive. All of this was extremely light to allow for maneuverability and speed. The Golem itself was draconian in design with metal wings and a faded flaming paint job. How it could even keep itself aloft let alone her with it was lost on the forest elf. She was positive Turha had explained it to her one time or another, but it just didn't sink in. Just a simple forest girl.

The heat didn't effect her in the slightest, thanks to the cooler temperatures in the atmosphere and the speed at which she was cruising. Indeed, that's what she was doing cruising. Officially she was "Patrolling the air and looking out for hostiles". Just an excuse to be flying. Any harpy could do her job, and they wouldn't need a specific mount for it either. It wasn't often Lily got to fly without having to look forward to a battle at the end. It's not like a flying golem with an elf pelting them with arrows was inconspicuous or anything.

Lily banked to the right and slowly descended closer to the town, going to do a fly over. The wind was still whipping at the speed, but atleast she didn't have to worry about the heat like some land-bound people. She allowed herself a grin at the thought. She often wondered what the dragons thought of her and her golem. She wondered if they saw her golem as a mockery. Probably, she could catch annoyances in the eyes of the dragons as she flew past on the couple of occasions she was blessed to have a run in with them. It's not like she cared or anything. Hell the Mark II, in Lily's eyes, was a defiant tribute. The Dragons... They irked her, yet they were a necessary evil. They were the only reason the Paragon still lived after all. However, she didn't trust them at all, and wouldn't stoop to calling them "lord". The only ones who had earned a title with Lily was Lieutenant Sid, and Captain Wrath (Even if his actual title was General).

Another dip and a bank and she was flying across the city once more. Oh, how she loved flight.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Children of Fire
The Tower of Nihalistrix the Black



The recruits were given the rest of the day and the night that followed to rest and recuperate as they chose. It was early the next morning when they were awakened, and dawn was only just painting her rosy hues across the sky.

Shasarra, who had been enjoying a nice roost, grumbled several unpleasant things when the sergeants came to rally the troops, and she found herself forming up into a semi-orderly queue with the majority of the other surviving hopefuls. They were shuffled out into the same hall that they’d fought in but the day before, only now it was pristine and without the slightest trace of the carnage that had taken place the day before. Captain Tao was leaning against one of the room’s many pillars, arms folded in his sleeves, and appeared to be asleep standing up, not that she was fooled.

The harpy found herself situated between a purple-skinned nightmarian woman and the dark elf from yesterday. She was ultimately a pragmatic soul, and so did her best to ignore the fact that they’d been trying to kill each other the day before, sparing him a nod before her attention was drawn forward.

A Thane was at the front of the room, though it was not the same elvish woman who’d done the speaking yesterday. This one was male, and human of all things from the look of it. There were flecks of gray dusting his already-light hair, and for this she suspected that he was somewhat into his middle years. Humans grew so slowly and died so quickly that it was hard to tell, though. There was something about him that made her feel distinctly uncomfortable, and she shifted her tawny wings with traces of unease. The man was flanked by seven of those red-robed magekin, all of varying shapes and sizes, but none looked anywhere but at the Thane himself, and his attention was focused solely on Aesr, who had taken up a spot on the dais where her mother had resided the day before.



Vortigern thought she looked kind of silly like that, as the platform had clearly been made for a creature of a different size, but of course he wasn’t going to say such a thing out loud. Fearless berserker or not, there was only so far he was willing to go. Fortunately, his caution did not extend to the sadistic witch-doctor beside him, and he shot her a friendly grin, a bit wild due to the fact that one of his eyeteeth was chipped, not really mindful of the vehemence of whatever response she should choose to give. When he wasn’t busy hacking into things with horrendous ease, he was quite the mellow sort, after all.

“What d’ya reckon? Summat in me bones tells me this’ll be magic, but I kinnae say I know much about it.” He was asking her, of course, as she seemed to be the only magical sort without her mouth sewn shut. His brain put two and two together, and he grimaced slightly. Hopefully that was a volunteer thing; it seemed rather gratuitous otherwise.



Maratharn, the present Thane, cleared his throat, and allowed silence to descend upon the room before he turned to the Captain. Seeing that the man’s eyes were closed and posture relaxed, he scowled and coughed again, less discreetly. When that didn’t work, either, he huffed impatiently, and gestured to one of the Silenced, who nodded and lit a small flame, sending it flying toward the errant officer without a word of warning.

The captain’s eyes snapped open, and for a second, there was an expression of startlingly-clear anger on his face, before it clouded over into his usual haze and he mildly sidestepped, gesturing to the troops to follow him and approach the dais as though nothing had just happened. The flame guttered out on the stone of the pillar, leaving the gray stone blackened. The group moved forward until they stood before Aesr, who appeared to be inspecting them with an air of appraisal before nodding to herelf. Upon closer examination, it would now be evident to all those present that she stood before a raised stone pillar about the height of a man, upon which rested an enormous earthen bowl.

The Silenced fanned out until they, Aesr, Feng, and Maratharn formed a rough circle around the recruits. Aesr was in front, the captain to the left right angle and the Thane to the right. As one, all removed some form of pointed object from their clothing or immediate surroundings, save the dragonling. Not one broke the moratorium on sound, not even when they collectively raised the blades to their wrists and made a ritual incision, allowing the universally-red liquid to drip with the barest of whispers to the stone below.

The seven were not idle, however, and each was working the same spell: the initiation. The liquid pooling on the floor resolved itself into a perfect circle by a collective effort of their wills, and flared with some unholy internal light before bursting into flame, impossible as it seemed. The licking tongues of fire seemed to signal something, for at last Aesr herself moved, raising her foreleg to her own great jaws and biting down. It would seem that dragons bled black, as the ichor that dripped into the bowl was devoid of any color whatsoever. Reacting with whatever ingredients had been placed in the receptacle beforehand, it took on an eerie green hue and a faint radiance, throwing her scaly visage into sharp relief.

“Drink of it, and understand our strength.” She said simply, and then silence fell once more.

One by one, they did as she ordered, and the effects were immediate. There was an internal shift in the very constitution of their being, as though some new connection existed, an internal pull in the direction if Aesr, and through her, Nihalistrix. So, too, was there some inward understanding of camaraderie, as though each were not quite his or her own anymore. Indeed, the connection wound through them all, channeled through Feng and Maratharn and Aesr all the way to the Lord herself. Nothing more than a tickle in the back of the mind, but recognizable as foreign all the same. With it came what felt much like a surge of adrenaline, and the unwary would soon find that the same muscular efforts produced much more force now than they had before. An errant sweep of Shasarra’s wing knocked a nearby orc to the ground, and his feet actually left the ground as he pushed himself back upward, the look of surprise on both faces almost comical.

Gradually, a hum of voices overtook the room, and all but Feng and the recruits left it as silently as they had come. For his part, the captain watched his troops, something akin to pity crossing his face, though he doubted that any of them were paying enough attention to notice. Right now, they would be discovering that their physical strength had almost doubled, and it would be a difficult adjustment to make. He’d wait for it to sink in before he did his job and gave them the resources they needed to deal with it. Luckily, none of them would yet be able to breathe fire, else he really would have some work on his hands.



The Paragon
Talos City Square


Talae Shanir approached the Paragon encampment, insofar as it could be called such a thing, feeling strangely out-of-place under the oppressive sun. Her detachment was not one of those known for their affinity for those places in which they could be seen, being more inclined to the dark and dank corners of the world. Still, even for them, travelling by night was not always an option.

It scarcely seemed like she’d bathed that morning anymore, what with the heat seeping into her skin. She glared up at the offending celestial body as though that would convince it to let up, but in the end simply snorted derisively. If she did that for too long, she’d end up as blind as-

“Fak’ir.” The word was intoned softly, but with an unmistakable air of command. The man in question, a curiously dark-skinned halfling with white-blond hair, straightened immediately despite the oppressive heat.

“Yes, Captain Shanir?” The lieutenant inquired sharply.

“Make our report to the general. The rest of you, be at ease. Rest for now, and try to stay out of the sun if at all possible. I’ll resupply and then go retrieve our orders.” There were precious few opportunities for her platoon to rest, experienced as they were at going those places an entire army could not. A palpable collective sigh of relief ran through the soldiers, and she smiled slightly to herself. They worked impossibly hard sometimes; it was no stretch to say that they deserved a break.

It seemed as though she were not the only ranking officer inclined to make a trip into town at this point; she spotted quite a few people she knew making much the same route. Glancing up at the sky she was unsurprised to see a large golem, far enough aloft to be mistaken for a bird by anyone without sufficient experience. That would be Lily, doubtless.

The dark elf’s eyes dropped earthwards and leveled out in front of her, mapping the most likely course to her destination. She’d prefer to make this quick, so as to arrive back in enough time to… a retreating figure caught her attention, and Talae immediately moved without really bothering to consider it, drawing up next to perhaps the most familiar face of them all. “Supply run, Koni?” she asked flatly, casually. Of course, that was far from the question she really wanted to ask, but that answer was something he had to decide to give. It ate at her, that she had no idea what happened to him when he fought, moreso now that she was no longer around to watch his back should the repercussions prove too much to handle at some point.



Neira sifted through the goods on the weapons cart with distaste, taking inventory as she went. As a rule, she disliked weapons made of wood and steel, and personally never used them. The same could not be said of all the members of her division, however, and she acknowledged that it was better to give them exactly what they needed to be as efficient as possible at killing things. To this end, she had developed a rather discerning eye, and was entrusted with the funds required to restock the Paragon from local smiths. They were short on maces, it seemed, and bows, mostly. Swords were always around, though they might need a few more of the two-handed kind… it was also useful that she was capable of carrying all these things at once.

Someone else was rummaging around, and she spared a sideways glance, only to see the orc that had completely ignored her three days before. She sneered without bothering to hide it, but decided it didn’t really matter and dropped the expression. “What are you looking for?” she asked, though her tone admittedly contained a bite that a neutral question would not have. “If it’s something too special, we probably don’t have it, but I am making a trip into town shortly, so if you have a request, I will hear it.” No other promises, of course. The nightmarian woman promptly went back to what she was doing, as she really didn’t care whether he answered or not, chitin-encased hands picking swords up by the blade without noticeable reaction, sorting them into more distinct piles by type. Few people bothered, but it made playing at quartermaster a bit easier.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Basta
Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers


Zulii had just brought down a fresh kill and was chewing on its tender, tender insides when a single command was issued.

"Cease"

The harpy looked around in slight puzzlement when everyone stopped trying to kill each other immediately. A host of red-robed people slunk into the room to clean away the grime and gore of battle, dragging away the corpses and ushering out the initiates into their respective quarters. Zulii snapped her wings open and hissed at one of them that tried to take her meal. The man waited patiently until the ravenous harpy had sated her hunger and burped contentedly. She allowed the man to pull what was left of the corpse away with the others and passed through the archway into the next room

"What this is? These roosts are fancy! So fancy!" Smiling wide, Zulii leapt off the ground and pulled at the air with her wings to gain altitude. She landed in a nest that was constructed out of cast off rags and cloth strips, making a warm and cozy little roost for her to nap in. Like any animal, after gorging herself on fresh meat, her next instinct was to sleep, and sleep she did.

The next morning she rose early, even earlier than the sergeants that came in loud and yelling. Zulii followed one of them like a little puppy, since she sensed something big was up. After the group assembled, they were herded into the hall of combat they'd shed so much blood in yesterday. Her heart quickened its pace a bit as the memories flooded her system with adrenaline, but she refrained from doing anything stupid. Her memory was so short term that Zulii had already forgotten which of the people she was entering the room with had tried to kill her the day before.

The smaller dragon that Zulii had barely noticed yesterday sat at the front of the room, watching them with a calculated disinterest. Zulii instantly became enchanted with the massive creature, standing up straighter and stepping a little livelier, hoping that the creature would notice her and like her. The captains and their men surrounded the group, which put her on edge. They all drew edged things from various pouches on their persons and brandished them. Zulii flexed her hands and bent her knees, ready for combat, but stopped and looked around in confusion as they all cut themselves, including the great dragon. Their blood pooled onto the floor, but was quickly moved into the big bowl in front of them by magical means.

“Drink of it, and understand our strength,” rumbled Zulii's new fascination. She subtly pushed her way towards the front of the line and took a big mouthful of the sweet, black liquid, savoring it in her mouth before swallowing it.

"Life-blood of strong creatures! The taste is so sweet, I have no believings!," raved the harpy in her mind. However, her mood changed as she tried to take a step back, away from the dias. Her leg tossed her flat on her backside, and when she tried to recover, she threw herself into the air on accident. Zulii tumbled and tried to hide behind several recruits, her face a few shades lighter than crimson. The last thing she wanted was for the dragon to think her an imbecile. Speaking of the dragon, Zulii felt that she was somehow connected to the mystical creature. She could feel a slight pull, just in the back of her mind, binding her to the huge being's will. As it was, the harpy ran through some stretches to see what was wrong with her body, and if she could still function correctly. She smiled to herself after a short while, finally understanding that her strength had increased exponentially.

"What great a gift this is. I could kill ten men one hand using!" she chirped delightedly to herself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Otowar
“What are you looking for?” An unfamiliar Nightmarian growled. She was obviously not a fan of his. Then again, he could probably say about her.

“If it’s something too special, we probably don’t have it, but I am making a trip into town shortly, so if you have a request, I will hear it.”

"I'm just not sure what I need anymore," Torga grunted in frustration. "There doesn't seem to be any forged weapons that can stand up to that damnable breath of theirs." He unsheathed his blade, in an attempt to prove his point. The tip of the blade was starting to bend, no doubt due to the heat it was subjected to in part with the stress of his own strength on the blade. A few jagged notched were beginning to form, caused by impacts of parrying other weapons. "It was a fine weapon once, but I believe it deserves a more honorable fate than destruction at the hands of these cultists. I don't believe there are any blacksmiths at hand that could repair the blade, and I'm not ready to part with it yet."

Torga sheathed his sword, and checked his axe for similar disrepair. It was fairing much better, but what are the odds that he would be able to say that in a week? In two?

He examined the piles of weaponry. The stock was somewhat meager for what was supposed to support an army. He was beginning to wonder if the team he had picked would be able to follow through. They were surrounded by enemies. At the very least, The Children. There was little doubt that The Civil were not very friendly with defectors like Wrath, either. The Primal seemed like his only potential allies in this conflict, but he had yet to even make contact with them, and even if he did, there was no guarantee that they'd be any friendlier than The Children or The Civil. The Paragon were definitely the underdogs, but it wasn't really Torga's place to judge; He was an underdog in his own respect.

"I've used two weapons for as long as I can remember, but I'm starting to think that a shield might be helpful. I am hopeful that we'll not be fighting anything with wings soon, but I don't think a blade is the best weapon for dealing with scaly beasts. Perhaps a couple of maces or hammers. I can go without a shield for now. Besides, being behind a shield that isn't fireproof isn't going to do a lot of protecting."

Torga grunted in frustration again. His indecisiveness was pecking away at his sanity.

"Don't dragons have a soft underbelly? Maybe a blade would be the best. Then again, I can always jam a stone through its heart." Torga rubbed his head, and growled audibly.

"I've made so many crucial decision in the past, you'd think this one wouldn't be so difficult."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image Whether or not the white-haired Child deigned to assist Kisikoni or not, the bags were still packed and ready to go in a timely fashion. He did not get to talk to Talae, and their exchanges were disappointingly brief as they tended to their duties. Marches were the worst part of being part of an army. The battles held the shadow of death over each soldier's face, but at the same time the march foreshadowed the upcoming trials, and how tiresome it was to move such long distances by foot or horse. Even though he was a captain and thus be allowed a horse in any regular situation, the Paragon was not so well equipped and Kisikoni could never understand the damn beasts anyways. Riding had always given him the worst sores and the shortest of tempers. A good leader should never lose their cool, after all. The days passed by as the monotonous blur of travel overrided his senses.

Even as they arrived to Talos City and set up an encampment, Kisikoni's work never really ceased. He was always working on something to keep his mind from wandering into more cynical and darker areas. It seemed to be happening more and more often, not because of the presence in his mind, but because of the situation as of late. Everything just seemed to be so grim. Nhil Derenthi, one of the few original Generals from the Civie-Primah wars had turned on the Paragon and the Primah, had turned his back on the Paragon. Whatever was going on through his kinsman's mind, he did not know. However, when examining the situation it seemed inevitable that the Paragon would have to conflict with the Civil Armies and the Children- both sides having powerful numbers and magical augments. The Primah were of a concern too, but after Derenthi's betrayal there was no way they could wage an aggressive war until they had more numbers.

Even as he finished unloading a wagon of supplies near the mess hall, in case the soldiers did not want to waste their coin dining in the city, he realized that they were low on salts and preservatives. Scowling slightly, he knew that if he didn't do something this would be nagging on his mind the entire day. He walked to the stables, borrowing a pack horse. Throwing some saddlebags onto the horse, he lead the beast from the stables. It was slightly uncooperative, but it's training and years of experience told it that resisting was just a bad idea all around. At least the human wasn't riding him.

As Kisikoni walked the horse toward a town, he noticed somebody moving to catch up with him. To his surprised pleasure, it was Talae. "Yeah. Can't have our meats spoiling at this point." He responded to her query. Perhaps in the past, he would have attempted a poor joke, but with all this tension weighing him down he just didn't have the heart to make one up. The question itself wasn't what he really wanted to discuss, either. What he wanted, and decided to talk to Talae about was very hard to put into words coherently. Worst of all, he didn't want to really burden her with his problems now that they had so much responsibility as captains. However, if he didn't tell somebody, Kisikoni felt he would probably go mad.

All the better for me. It taunted, a malicious glee entering it's tone as it reveled in the Deep Human's dilemma.

"I guess it's time to make good on my promise." He said plainly, in an urgent and low voice. "Listen, Talae- something happened back at Herrick. Maybe even before that, I don't know. Something is inside me, and I'm not sure what." He tried to explain it as best he could, even as the walked down the path toward the city and down the cobblestone roads inside it. "I'm trying to control it, but it seems to laugh at my attempts. Like I'm a child. Each time I use it's power I feel myself ripping up, physically and literally. It's so strong it accidentally breaks my bones and tears my muscles." He looked away, pretending to search for the markets. They were fairly close at this point. "I'm sorry for dumping all this on you. I've been meaning to tell you when we were... not so occupied, but our wyrds have a different say in the matter." He apologized, leading the horse toward the salt stall. As occupied as he was, he would have been completely unaware of the hitmen moving throughout the crowd if it weren't for the voice.

I'd hate to interrupt your touching moment, but I'd expect to see a blade or otherwise very soon. Though the words were formed in a joke, the tone was very serious.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Mercy didn't take too kindly to the Red's disdain, but her obvious lack of self-control was reward enough. She couldn't stand the dragons, prideful and condescending that exceeded even her own levels. However, even as Iridanias left, Wrath shot her a look that almost made her flinch back in guilt before she reminded herself that she was the boys mother, for the love of the Queen. She stared back as coolly as she could, but he was already gone. That disappointed look Wrath had given was so similar to that of his father it brought back a flood of memories. She signed, parting once more. Maybe he'll be in a better mood when they reached Talos City. Moving back toward the prison, she quickly scaled over the wall and landed in the courtyard with a soft thump. Humming a quick tune, she began stretching out each limb in preparation. Spiders were not accustomed to traveling long distances, due to their ambushing nature. However, Mercy had grown to adapt to it since she left the dark recesses of Umbridge and had to hunt instead of wait for food to come. Traveling had been no different.

The march was long and hard, as she expected. No matter how many times she would do this, she still hated it. By the time they had stopped and camped at Talos City, Mercy had sweat enough to attract every firebug from Ecclavaria with her scent. Her legs were tired, and her luminous red eyes were half closed with fatigue. She knew she needed a bloody drink, or she'd pitch over and die. However, first thing was first. She quickly moved to a nearby water source, as cities and towns depended on them for power, food, and cleanliness. She quickly tossed away her things onto the shore, and hopped in, cooling herself. The summer heat was nothing compared to the sticky humidity of the dark forests that was her home. The cool dip was to relieve her limbs briefly and to wash away the sweat. it was the worst for her abdomen, as her ark shell didn't allow anything in or out aside from the end where her webbing was generated. It felt like a furnace back there. Getting out, she cupped her arm over her bare chest and winked slyly at the men who tried to sneak a peek. Half of the blushed furiously, much to her delight. Tossing back on her clothes and bags, she skittered quickly toward her tent. She flipped open the flap, setting down on the stack of hay in the middle. Sighing, she grabbed one of the multitude of bottles she had retrieved and stashed in the stack. With an experienced finger, she flipped the cork off the bottle and began consuming the contents in large gulps.

It wasn't long until she experienced the faint buzz, and a pleasant heat building up in her face. That was just what she needed. She'd resisted the bottle until they actually stopped traveling, as it wouldn't do to get blindingly drunk while marching. It nearly killed her, she had intense cravings at various intervals, and she couldn't help but feel that her son did this to torment her. Flopping foward, she lazily turned her waist, rotating a full 180 degres so she could lie lazily on her back, downing the rest of the bottle. That really did hit the spot. Blearily, she reached for another bottle, her hands patting the area around her for the familiar smooth surface. However, lingering fatigue from the journey claimed her before she could enjoy getting drunk. Her hands fell still, and her breathing became slow and heavy. It was midday.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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Safir could not find the Nightmarian moth, so he shrugged and decided to outfit himself with some armor. Finally. He reached the table, and thankfully found his mother's shield, which had not been taken. Retrieving it, he quickly belted that on his back. Never again would it leave him voluntarily. He did not find his father's set of armor, but he did find something very similar to that. It was newer, which was a plus but it didn't have the reliable feeling that his father's armor did. Snorting, he realized he was standing there comparing armor though he was no blacksmith. He took the set, hefting it and checking it for breaks and weak seams. Finding none, he smiled and decided to fit himself to it, strapping the belts and whatnot under his robes. It went quite nicely, easily molding to the curves and heavy fabric. His old armor would not have been able to do that, admittedly and the Children seemed to value the idea of an army acting as one. The uniform probably was meant to enforce that ideology. Either way, he grabbed the matching helmet and strapped it on, as well as grabbing a good broadsword. The sword was light enough, but was dense and forged well. Sheathing it, he carried that with him to a bed of his own, stuffing the stuff in the chest at the foot of the bed.

He immediately proceeded to clean himself off, taking a brief but hot shower. Stepping out, he quickly dressed himself. It was odd- the people around him were standing in nothing but their undergarments. The very same people that were trying to kill him not an hour earlier. The sense of security was almost palpable, and even if Safir had the intent on murdering somebody, he probably could not muster up strength to do so under this calm atmosphere. It was almost as if everybody trusted each other to a degree. Perhaps it was because they fought each other, and acknowledged each others ferocity. Leaving the locker rooms, he proceeded back to his own bed, where he stretched out his sore limbs and threw himself under the covers to get some rest.

The wake-up call wasn't as bad as he had thought it would be. The entire days worth of sleep helped him rest off the fatigue very well, though he was still tight and sore in many places. The bruises that he had decided not to heal due to its trivial nature were purpled and slightly sensitive, but Safir had gotten used to those types of injuries by now. Tossing on some good clothes, he put on his robes over them. He decided his armor was probably not necessary yet.

He did not see Dresinil, who was probably still recovering or dead. He didn't know what was the fate of his battle brother, but he was fairly certain the elf wasn't dead unless Gatan had punched him so hard he had a heart attack. A gout of dragonfire interrupted the Knight's thoughts, which had been directed at the androgynous captain. The movement was so fast and graceful Safir would have thought the man had simply stepped out of the way in pure coincidence. Forced to grudgingly acknowledge the man's skill once more, Safir's breathing slowed conspicuously as he noticed the change in atmosphere. Whatever ritual was announced, it was beginning. Altogether simple, it was nevertheless impressive. Even as the Dragonsblood filled up the space, waiting to be consu

wait.

what.

He had to drink that? The local apothecary at his village didn't brew anything that looked this vile. Even as he hesitated, many were already cupping the unholy liquid. The crazed witch-doctor was one of the first. He sighed. He was in this deep, there was no excuse to duck out now. He plunged both hands into the liquid, sucking in a mouthful and swallowing. By the dead gods, there was no way he could describe this taste. However, the surge in his innards was the worst. Looking around, he knew that he was taking this change the worst, by far. His body never really was fit for all that magic business. Even as he caught his breath, displays of almost laughable accidents happened. An elf tried stretching, and his jaw dropped as both arms popped out of it's sockets. A nightmarian accidentally sliced her own stomach open when attempting to scratch it absentmindedly.

Well, this was new. Safir saw this, and tried to be careful- but his body now felt foreign. Light. Stepping forward was so disconcerting, that he stumbled, falling forward. On instinct, he threw his arms out to break his fall, and as a result there was a resounding "boom" as his arms cracked the stone floors slightly with the impact, leaving very faint craters. And sprained wrists with broken fingers. He now realized the reason why mages didn't just give the soldiers superhuman strength and speed the hard way. Getting up, he angrily refrained himself from swearing as adrenaline turned into pain. He was already regretting this, now he'd need to train himself to get used to this change.

First, he needed to find a healer.

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#, as written by Smith
The Paragon

Talos City Square


It was no secret that the world as everyone knew it was divided in to five parts: The Children, the Paragon, the Civil, the Savage, and those who wanted nothing to do with any of this. The city of Talos, its inhabitants and its residents were of the latter variety. The modest plains trading post was not interested in the war. Most people had stopped believing in The Gift years ago, and even fewer cared who won. Given the mercurial nature of the gods that once were, those that did still cling to belief in The Gift feared that it was some sort of trick. A little incentive to make the mortal races squabble, dig up bad blood, and foster rifts in civilization that would take generations to heal.

Still, the four largest, most well established factions made a point of fighting for the supposed gift of godhood. The number of inhabitants that called Norr home quickly figured, why simply stay out of it when there is profit to be made? Talos was a rising star in this mercenary mentality. The city, made up of mostly elves, orcs, harpies and halflings, hired out to, sold to, and took in any force that passed through--provided they all paid in coppers, silver and gold. Thus, it was not so far fetched to come to the conclusion that the citizens of Talos sold any information they could wring out of travelers to any that were willing to pay.

Still, as the lanky dark elf presented himself in a fashion approximating military decorum, Wrath could not suppress an irritated surge of anger. Sid's snicker of bemusement did not help. Perhaps sensing this, Iridanias opened a single eye to peek at the potential confrontation.

Wrath halted him with an upraised hand. He fixed the dark elf with an appraising eye. Sid tried to look even busier in her ministrations to the oversized crossbow. She'd heard of Elanessë. A killer for hire with some modicum of skill, but just as generic as any other dark elf fighter. If Wrath found out that Lyn fancied himself an assassin, she was sure the general would shit a brick. One of his pet peeves were people that killed for a living and had the gall to call themselves assassins. Especially dark elves. Of course, the last two dark elf assassins to join up with Wrath's group were drastically different. One, Talae Shanir, had grown out of knife-fighting to become one of the premiere fencers within the Paragon. The other, Krealthanos Veladrin, had died an inconspicuous death in the very first fight alongside Wrath's legion. Which would Lyn prove to be?

"I am general Liu-Wen." Wrath said, wiping his brow with the back of his hand. The rising heat kept any sort of joviality from showing in his voice. "You're in. Recruits are placed in the probationary squad, so you'll tag along with Sid." he indicated the halfling fiddling with her weapon, who waved in response. "You make one false move and it's a bolt in the back. Can't have traitors, you know. Welcome to the Paragon."

Wrath had nothing else to say to the darkling at the moment and dismissed Lyn with a wave. It was at that moment when a leather-clad halfling finished his approach and came to a salute. "Shanir's boy. She's finished already?"

Fak'ir proceeded to gloss over the major details of Talae's mission, focusing on the key points and not much else. Wrath was not pleased.


Xeron grinned. The scarred dark elf was hovering several hundred feet over the square of Talos, rendered invisible by the graces of psionic manifestation. The heat did not bother him as much as it should have, due to the level of nerve damage he had sustained during his own initiation into the ranks of the Silenced some years ago, but it was just fervid enough to warrant stripping down. As it was, there was a naked, invisible darkling floating high above the other soldiers. Of course, only one person knew of this nudist tendency of his.

Neira. Such an exquisite creature, he thought. Xeron focused some power in his eyes to sharpen his vision, spying on the statuesque nightmarian as she so expertly handled those long rods...of steel. Yes. Steel. Xeron refused to believe he had been thinking she was handling rods of any other sort. She was talking to an orc that looked like he belonged back in the plains hunting wild things and dancing in the moonlight. Xeron sneered.

A sudden shift in the emotional charge surrounding the pair drew the attention of the dark elf. There was the conflict and pride of the orc, that was obvious enough. Neira's annoyance and crude, probing sense of friendship that she so often stumbled over--an endearing attribute, Xeron thought--was apparent as well. But there was something...there! Xeron focused on a single soldier nearby. He was familiar enough. An orc, green skin, brutish features, dressed in legion-pattern half-plate. That was the point, Xeron thought. To look like every other orc.

Neira, my love, Xeron said, projecting his voice directly in to her mind, There's a young greenskin moving in on your nine. I believe he is making a show of examining the supplies. Xeron allowed some of his emotion to bleed in to the connection, giving the faint impression of a snide smile. He is not one of ours.

At that point the orc was within striking distance of Neira. Without drawing any attention, he adjusted the hand crossbow at his hip and fired up at the the nightmarian's exposed eye.


Turha growled in annoyance. It would be so easy--too easy--to have Bane, his personal golem, separate this fools head from her shoulders. A portly, pinch-faced woman sat behind the counter on a stool two sizes to small for her monumental rump. Turha felt like he could hear it squeaking in protest.

So far, they had been arguing for over twenty minutes within the cramped confines of her shop. Turha had been forced to leave hi golem back at camp for fear of breaking something in town, leaving him alone with the merchant and he two admittedly intimidating bodyguards. Turha sneered.

"Fourty silver, and not a coin more."

The trader set down the earthenware jug she'd been sipping from and steepled her thick fingers, mocking Turha as if contemplating the offer. She glanced at the two pieces of plated metal he wished to buy and shrugged. "I suppose I can part with one of them for that price, but two? You must be kidding me, human."

Never once had Turha wanted to punch an elf in the face this badly, much less a woman. How could this gelatinous mass be in the same species as Lily? With a grunt of exasperation, Turha slid twenty more silver out of his pouch on to the counter. "Sixty for both, or I walk."

"I see. Well then, I suppose that I have no choice but to" the elf moved with speed belying her size. Turha managed to get away from the counter with only a small cut across his collarbone. The elf cursed loudly and readied to throw her knife. Turha had his mace unslung and in a high guard. As the weapon clanged off of his own, he realized belatedly that the guards were approaching.

Twisting, the linker managed to avoid having his ribs cracked open by a maul. Turha got cracked in the jaw by a gauntlet-clad fist for his trouble and stumbled back in to the counter. He slapped a small rune on his belt just before a cinch encircled his neck. Using his off-hand, Turha prevented to rope from garroting him to maximum efficacy. At least for the moment. Eventually, the two larger elves would get past his flailing mace, or the trader would pull tight enough to choke him out despite his interference.

Above the city, the Mark II cut a sharp turn and hurtled down into the streets, gunning for the shop that Turha resided in, carrying Lily in tow. It emitted a high-pitched screech.


Without even the slightest provocation, a peasant man and his two 'associates' turned in their cart and unleashed a trio of crossbow quarrels at Talae and Kisikoni. The deep human was the primary target, but the elf could prove to be a liability if she reported in. As a result, one of the bolts was aimed at her.

Quietly, without so much as a whisper, another pair of assailants converged on the sleeping Mercy, knives drawn and kept under tawny summer-robes.


The Children of Fire


Dresinil and the other half of the Children were the second and last group to arrive at the ceremony. Each and every single one of the newer arrivals were shocked by the displays of strength and astonishment around them. Before entering, a middle-aged man had informed them that they were to drink of the chalice and nothing else. Apparently this group had not made as much of an impression as the first.

As Dresinil and the others approached the viscous liquid that stained everybody's hands, he noticed the human pugilist from earlier. Gatan was gingerly flexing his muscles in a controlled manner. This one obviously knew that doing more would prove problematic, and was easily the most graceful of the initiates. Not wishing to be beaten a second time, Dresinil took a deep swig and steeled himself. The effects were immediate and harsh.

The elf felt as if he were breathing the exact same breaths as everyone else for a brief moment, and it was stifling. Soon enough, the atmosphere returned to normal and the surge began. Dresinil felt like he could break a mortar wall with his bare hands! Pivoting on his foot, the elf made to search for his ally--and nearly stumbled over the human. In his avoidance, the elf's hand shot out to steady himself on a stone pillar. The resounding crack left splintered stone and two of Dresinil's fingers bent at awkward angles.

Grimacing, he held up his mangled hand for Safir to see. "I blame you."

Yulni had been among the second group, having opted to sleep in instead of attend the ceremony. SHe made no complaint when drinking the dragon blood. The odd halfling did not so much as even grunt when the full force of the Children's connection hit her. Oddly enough, she approached Pylarea and bowed, muttering and apology before staring at the moth, wide-eyed and awaiting a similar response. It was only proper, considering the moth had flayed her comrade alive.

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Jivven Noda'Razzr


"It's so damn early... Why in the hell did we have to be called in the morning?" Jivven whined to Shasarra next to him. Being the easy going, happy-go-lucky soul that he was Jivven had all but put their earlier scuffle out of his mind. However, he was still irritated at her for her taking of his finger. But now they were on the same team, so no more of that team killing business. Hell, he was already having a tough enough time standing up straight this early in the morning. The dark elf was certainly no morning person, instead he was a creature of the night. At one point he even managed to lose himself and lean on to the harpy for a moment before regaining consciousness and straightening up.

Aside from Jivven's swaying nature, he looked to be quite healthy and cleaned up from yesterday's slaughter. He had a new set of white robes, which sleeves flowed pass his hands and concealed them and the missing digit. The robes themselves hovered about an inch above the ground, sheathing the entirety of the dark elf in loose folds of white. However, at his neckline there was a hint towards his second layer of clothes. A black cloak waited underneath the white robes to conceal Jivven in darkness, as an assassin is wont to do. At any sudden provocation, the white robes could be discarded and he would fight in his own element. However, the cloak wasn't completely blank, as it had the insignia of the Children embroidered in dark crimson. It was even a mystery as to where he kept his weapons in his clothing.

Finally Jivven managed to pry an eyelid as the resident Thane cleared his throat. He lazily followed the fireball thrown by the at toward the Captain and wasn't a bit surprised when the deep human dodged it effortlessly. Indeed, for one to have such an aloof manner and still survive making it to the rank of captain, the man had to have some skills under his lazy exterior. Jivven fell in step with the rest of his team as the captain led them to the Dragon, Aesr. Jivven was still too tired to care about a flying lizard and his tired eyelids began to slowly droop once again. However, both eyelids shot open as they were surrounded.

Jivven's keen survival instincts sensed danger in the air, probably due to the sharp objects those that surrounded them withdrew. Underneath the folds of his robes and cloak, Jivven's hands twitched as if grabbing a hidden object. The movement was subtle and quiet, and if one wasn't paying very close attention to the dark elf alone, would miss it. "I don't like this..." Jivven whispered to Shasarra.

Luckily, the blades were not meant for them, but the wielders themselves. Jivven watched in quiet speculation as the blood dripped from their arms and flowed into a pool on the floor before catching fire. Jivven didn't quite understand any of this, but kept quiet and watchful. Finally, Aesr herself bleed into the bowl. It was all very morbid truth be told, and it made Jivven uncormfortable. What were the planning to do with this ritual? Were they going to have to...

Yep.

They were going to have to drink the blood. "Fantastic," Jivven murmured as he sighed. Bunch of weirdos, that's what the Children were. But, who was he to complain though? It was him who wanted official membership with the Children instead of the odd jobs here and there. And the snazzy way they breathed fire didn't hurt either. One by one, they drank of the blood. The first thing that struck Jivven was the new found connection he had... With everybody. Shasarra, the Captain, and even... Oraun? Dammit, Jivven thought he was dead. At the end of the connection, through Aesr, was Nihalistrix herself. After the feeling of connection died down came another feeling. Jivven couldn't quite put his finger on it, and before he had time to meditate on it, a sweep of Shasarra's wings, knocked down an orc and threatened to give him the same treatment if he didn't duck.

He ducked, and he he rose, his new strength propelled him up and caused him to leave the ground and raise a couple of feet into the air. Upon contact with the ground, the stones under his feet creaked in defiance. Jivven's eyes were wide at the sudden display of strength and looked down at his body. It was like it wasn't even his anymore. Over fifty years of training and honing his body to be in perfect control... Gone "Dammit!" Jivven barked, "I've spent all my life perfecting what I had, and trained to have complete control of every single muscle in my body. That's bloody dashed against the wall now!" He gripped "Shit... I'll be over there. I have to regain some semblance of control back, or I'll be like one of these warriors." Jivven said, taking calculated and slow steps away from the crowd.

Once on his own, the dark elf closed his eyes and began to try and get his strength back under his control. To Jivven, this was his way of meditation and training. To everyone else, it seemed like a dance. Jivven had his eyes closed and was going through a complicated series of graceful and fluid movements. His cloaked billowed and floated with his movements and the whole spectacle was actually quite beautiful. The reason why he was called a shadowdancer became clear as day. However, there were imperfections in his dance. He may have over committed to a spin, dipped far too low to be able to rise with any grace, and his arms may have flailed more than danced. Despite this, if any came within distance of his dance, he would incorporate them with it and dance around them. Jivven was nothing if not a showman.




Liliana Bloodleaf


"Eep!" Lily yelped as the Mark II banked sharper than she anticipated. For a minute, her legs and arms flailed wildly on top of the construct trying to find some hold on the thing. She wasn't expecting the sudden turn and as such she didn't have a hold of any of the straps nor had her feet in the stirrups. She was just cruising freely on top of it, enjoying the cool air rushing past her. The friendly air turned hostile as it was the only thing between her and a squishy thump on the ground. At the last moment she managed to grab on to a strap and reel herself back on. Not without consequence however as most of the arrows in her personal quiver flew out and fell towards the ground. She didn't affix the contraption to her own quiver as she didn't think she would need it, and as a result, she only had a couple left... She sincerely hoped no one was under them when they fell...

"You couldn't have warned me first?" Lily asked the golem. It's response? A high pitched screech. "Oh... So now you do it," She murmured. Despite her sarcasm, she knew what it meant. Turha was in trouble. That was the only reason the Mark II would take control and bank so sharply, and screech so loudly. "Fine," She said, not to the golem itself, but in general. Someone threatened her friends? They were already notches on her saber. She patted the side of the construct and took hold of her bow.

She looked up and saw that they were descending towards a shop. "Think Turha got a bad deal?" She said, leaning forward on the Mark II. "Aim for the window," She told the construct and nocked the the first of her last couple of arrows. Sure she still had the Mark II's quiver, but what good would a bow do inside a cramped building? No, she had a different idea in mind.

She then stood and drew her bow back, letting the arrow go straight through the window, breaking the glass. Quick as the wind, she nocked the other one and stood on the golem, letting that arrow fly towards a shape she knew wasn't Turha's. She then jumped from the golem's back and through the shattered window, swinging wildly with her bow. If it connect with someone, chances were the short bow would shatter. It wasn't made with the same strength as her Ashwood bow she lost in Herrick.

Either way, she quickly stood, silver saber in hand and looked upon the scene. Body guards and a elven shopkeeper trying to choke out Turha. Lily spit to the side and snarled, "You should've took the deal, vile-sister. Now we'll pay in blood," she said brandishing the saber, "Who's first?" She asked coldly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Pylarea

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

The stirrings of the fellow Children did little in the way of bothering Pylarea in fact she was used to others roaming about and starting their days whilst sleeping, and today was no different for her. There was some form of ceremony taking place to mark their initiation, but she was just too tired to get up to watch everything start off, she was sure that someone would be kind enough to detail the events taking place, it may seem a little rude, but it had been so long since she had a proper night of sleep. After a while though there was no way to escape the fact she needed to get up, and thundering knock at her door allowed for no more beauty sleep.

The Nightmarian turned on her side and slipped two delicate feet upon the floor, rising as luxuriously as possible under the circumstances whilst an iron-clad voice boomed out from the other side of her door. “‘Ey dere li’l misses del’cate! Rise ‘n shine or you be in fur sum trouble! We ain’t got no time fur slackers in da Children!” With that being said the man, or whatever creature he may be, stepped off with heavy steps, their plodding sound being almost as loud as his fist beating against her door not too long ago. An enormous yawn crept up upon the moth as her arms stretched out reluctantly and her back arched with the motion, and at the end of this ritual her balled fists rolled forward to stretch the muscles along her forearms.

It took quite a bit of time for the fragile woman to prepare herself for the day, fluttering her wings to stretch them out properly, washing her arc shell with the water basin at the foot of the bed, combing her hair to get the tangles out, and fussing with her robes until they were as wrinkle free as she could manage to make them. By the time she finished she heard only a few footsteps leading away from the rooms, and no doors had been opened or closed for a couple of minutes. She hoped she wasn’t late for the ceremony, and she didn’t want to make a horrible impression on her first day as an official Child.

The moth managed to catch up with the last of the group, the second group she would later discover, and came up behind the little Halfling female who had nearly killed here the day before, for such small creatures they were such fierce fighters. Who would have thought of such a thing? She noticed several of the other Children flopping about, tossing each other around, and breaking limbs with relative ease. The ones who seemed to be doing this the most were those who had freshly drunken from the pool of…blood?!?! What on earth was going on? She was a moth…they fed on nectar and the like… they weren’t carnivorous beings! It looked like a requirement though…and there wasn’t much she could do about it now.

She hesitantly brought the black liquid to her moth and let it drizzle lightly over her lips and down her throat, the heat of the concoction warming the very core of her body as it worked its way down to her belly. A strange sense of…connectivity flowed over her as she felt attuned with the group around her, their feelings and even the whispers of thought. Was everyone receiving the same reaction? Not everyone seemed affected by this as she was right now, and indeed most looked as if they didn’t even notice the connection, but her better-honed psionic abilities amplified the effect. The Nightmarian moved as carefully as she could right now, not wanting to unwittingly hurt herself or anyone near her for that matter. Luckily she was accustomed to moving about delicately, consciously holding back so as to appear as prim, proper, and delicate as possible. At least the caste system had been good for something.

While she was practicing her art of self-control and exploring the new limits of her psionic abilities, in so far as honing in on individuals and even trying to transmit a few signals to see if they would garner any attention, the Halfling from before approached her…and bowed for some strange reason. A mumbled apology, near inaudible, escaped through tight lips as she then gazed up expectantly at Pylarea, and she could feel the woman wanted her to do the same, or something near enough as to justify her presence. Instead of trying to speak aloud this seemed an opportune moment to try out her abilities. She concentrated hard, pursing her lips and furrowing her brow slightly, as she thought…

Please, there is no need to worry. We all did what we must yesterday. Let us be sisters of the Children now. My name is Pylarea.

After sending that message to the woman Pylarea returned the woman’s bow with an equal measure of depth and period of time before returning up with a bright smile planted across her face. This time she spoke aloud, “So what’s your name?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Children of Fire
The Tower of Nihalistrix the Black



For a few more minutes, Tao let the recruits get some sense of what was going on with their bodies. A few cracked bones in their overzealousness and lack of familiarity, and he recalled with a distant kind of fondness that much the same thing had happened upon his initiation. As if on cue, a single silenced appeared at his shoulder. He knew who she was without having to look, and spoke with his eyes still fixed ahead.

“Carmen, please see to the injured ones.” The youthful woman, one of the few true Clerics (and few true humans) in the ranks of the children, nodded and stepped forward, scanning the group and first picking out a man wearing armor who appeared to have broken one of his hands. Tao, not being the sort of person who could remember names most of the time, immediately labeled him Big-Shiny-Target, Shiny for short.

The effectively-mute Carmen approached Safir and gestured for him to relinquish his injured limb to her. As soon as he did so, she prayed. Now, the reason there were so few clerics left in the world was fairly obvious: the gods that they prayed to were long-dead. Nevertheless, whether it was because she had some command of holy magic on her own or for some other inscrutable reason, she was still able to do exactly what her father and grandfather had done before her. Safir’s more delicate bones rearranged themselves with only slight discomfort, set into place, and were good as new within seconds. She smiled at the knight (having been taught that such people were usually of a good kind), and moved on to the next. There would be many more before her day was over.

As soon as everyone was patched up, Tao spoke. “Not very nice, at first. That’s what the rest of today is for, though.” Glancing at Jivven, he nodded slightly. “Short-Snarky has anticipated how to handle it. If any of you know martial forms or katas, now is the time to use them. If you don’t, I’ll teach you some. Call Carmen if you accidentally wound yourselves.”

Speech quite thankfully over with, he proceeded to teach those that did not know a series of basic, smooth movements, designed to flow from one right to the other. Understandably, the pace was to be slow, since it was all an exercise in control. They really just had to get used to their own muscles again, and gain a consciousness of where they were in relation to other things. It wasn’t physically taxing, so he did not stop them from speaking to one another. Occasionally, someone got a bit too ambitious, and Carmen would again flit through the crowd, healing an injury and returning to her place a short distance behind him and to his left.


The Paragon
Talos City, Supply Caravan


Hm. The orc complained of steel-melting fire. This much, she could understand; it melted arc-shell as well. Much as she liked to pride herself on the fact that her natural armor was as much weapon as defense, she was no better off than any other in this regard. Pausing for a moment in her motions, she glanced sideways at him. “Generally, nothing does. The easiest way to deal with a fire-breathing Child is to slit the throat before they can exhale. It backs up and immolates them.” She shrugged. “Otherwise, stay out of the way.”

She scanned the steel he was holding, and thought about it for a moment. There were precious few smiths willing to do work for the Paragon, and even fewer still who would do so on the move. “Take it to Mialee. If he can’t do anything about it, he might know someone else who can.” Turha was mostly an artificer of golems, but that required a wide knowledge of how to work materials, and there might be some kind of enchantment that could fix the thing.

His lingering inability to make a decision was vexing her, though, and she gave a small exasperated sigh. “If it is effectiveness you seek, versatility is important.” If he couldn’t figure out that she was suggesting he not carry two weapons of the same kind, that was his loss, and she wasn’t going to do anything about it.

A familiar voice broke into her mind before she could say anything else, and her red eyes flickered to the opposite side, her face cracking into a not-entirely-healthy smile when she caught the characteristic twang of a crossbow being fired. The arrow stopped in midair inches from her left eye, and she sent it flying back at the offending orc, still trying to look nonchalant so as to (presumably) escape notice as soon as she died. He’d have to try a little harder than that. Though Neira desired to lodge his own projectile into his throat, she embedded it within his shoulder instead, causing his grip on the crossbow to slacken.

“You. You can do earth magic, yes? How about stopping this one from going anywhere, hm?” Technically, she could have bound his limbs herself, but that would require constant upkeep, whereas a spell would be a simple matter of cast-and-leave. Though killing the fool was an attractive option, the chances were slim-to-none that there was only one traitorous moron in their midst. They were like cockroaches that way, but the talking ones could be painfully interrogated.

Check on the general. Technically, she couldn’t really order Xeron around, but this was about as close to a polite request as Neira ever got, and he was unlikely to refuse to do something that actually made sense when it mattered.



Talos City, Markets


The tone of Kisikoni’s words immediately set Talae on edge. She had never known him to inflect anything for dramatic effect alone, which meant that whatever it was was of grave important. She listened quietly, without response until he’d concluded. Even then, it took her a moment to process everything, and she hadn’t realized she’d stopped walking until he was continuing ahead of her.

The revelation hadn’t been turning over in her mind for more than ten seconds before her sensitive ears picked up a sound that did not belong here, and she immediately dropped to the ground. “Kisikoni!” she shouted, but any further words would be useless as a warning. The bolt intended for her embedded itself in the wooden side of a nearby building, and she was back on her feet in seconds, drawing the sword from her back, eyes tracing the trajectory of the quarrel, only to see nothing.

Puzzled, she looked around, and determined that the moving cart had to be the target. Gritting her teeth, the dark elf woman bounded after it, launching herself into the bed of the cart and immediately shoving one of its occupants off with her foot, leaving two. One was too shocked to react quickly enough, and the business end of Abel was shoved into his throat for his trouble. The other was quicker on the uptake, though, and drew a one-handed sword. The close quarters meant that the advantage was his, for the smaller, more maneuverable weapon would work within the confines much better than her hand-and-a-half.

She’d never stepped down from a challenge, though, and she wasn’t about to start now.



Paragon Encampment, Soldiers’ Tents


Fak’ir, having been raised in an arid desert climate, was not particularly bothered by the heat that seemed to have everyone else moving sluggishly. So instead of attempting to sleep it off after his little check-in with the general and Captain Sid, he figured taking a walk couldn’t hurt.

Squinting and looking upwards, he gauged it to have just hit the middle of the day, not that the time was of any particular consequence. It was just one of many habits he’d picked up and retained over the years. Glancing back down, he passed a couple of villagers in what appeared to be the summer clothing of this region. Suspicion being another of those things he’d never bothered to lose, he wondered what they were doing so close to this section of the camp, anyway. This wasn’t where the Paragon conducted business- this was where the soldiers slept.

With a deft flick of his wrist, the halfling pulled and twisted the shadows immediately around himself, slipping into the shade of a tent and disappearing from view. For now, he would simply follow, and watch. If they moved on, he’d perhaps berate himself for being too cautious, but if they didn’t… they’d have a surprise on their hands, now wouldn’t they?

Jumping from shadow to shadow, quietly enough to be concealed from all but the most acute eye, he waited. They seemed to be moving further into the camp, but his immediate inclination to kill them was tempered by his Captain’s voice in his head, reminding him that taking life was often necessary but never ideal. When she’d decided such a thing, he had no idea, but he respected her enough to heed her advice.

When the two figures drew knives and sprang upon a single tent, though, he felt quite justified in blinding both of them with his command with darkness. They were making enough noise on their own to alert whomever was inside that tent, so he decided for the moment that remaining hidden was to the best advantage of both himself and whomever he was inadvertently assisting here.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Otowar
"Generally, nothing does." Neira touted about The Children's flames. It was as he had feared. A shield of iron would not provide much protection; He would he to rely on magic to do that. His specialty, however, was Terramancy, a boon at any rate as far as defense was concerned.

"The easiest way to deal with a fire-breathing Child is to slit the throat before they can exhale. It backs up and immolates them."
It sounded like she was familiar with them, and there was no reason she shouldn't be. He wasn't necessarily keeping tabs on these soldiers, but Neira was a hardened veteran, by the way word spread around camp. He knew she was skilled in unarmed combat, which made him mentally question her ability to slit a Cultist's throat. Perhaps a punch was just as good?

"Take it to Mialee. If he can’t do anything about it, he might know someone else who can."
Turha? The human artificer, no doubt. He was reserved, and always walked about with any number of golems in tow. Artificers made Torga uneasy on principle. They were a complete world apart from each other, and Torga didn't much like the prospect of bending the elements to the will of a mortal to create such unnatural creations. The shaman had always viewed his own magic as more of a commune, of sorts. For a moment, he questioned why he even allowed himself to use metal weapons, but he put the thought out of his mind; It seemed he wasn't quite as innocent as he thought himself to be. It was only natural, however, that all warriors should be versed in metal weaponry.

“If it is effectiveness you seek, versatility is important.”


"That's precisely why I'm here. I need to know that I can count on my weapons. After the encounter at the prison, I wasn't so sure I'd be able to count on some of the recruits around here. Even that warlock let me run head first into a hallway of them without intervention. Don't get me wrong, I can handle myself, but-"

Torga's sentence was cut short by an unfamiliar orc drawing a crossbow on Neira. He was lucky that Neira's reflexes were so incredibly sharp. She caught the arrow, it seemed, and had thrown it back at the would-be assassin with more force than with which it had been fire. The crossbow bolt punched through the Orc's armor and disabled the arm he had fired with. The shaman stomped his foot on the brick-hewn street, as a reverberation shook the bricks loose, and sent one flying through the air, colliding with the crossbow that had just fired it's arrow. It clattered to the ground, as Torga prepared to cast another spell.

"How about stopping this one from going anywhere, hm?"


"You read my mind!" Torga shouted enthusiastically. Another foot stomp, and a massive earthen fist erupted from beneath the loose bricks, wrapping its earthen fingers around the Orc's body, covering him from his knees all the way to his mouth. The fist clenched the Orc and hoisted him off the ground.

Torga cracked a smile as he walked up to the helpless assassin. He let out an unsettling laugh, as the hand brought the Orc down to Torga's eye level. The fist began to clench tighter and tighter. The metal armor began to audibly strain beneath the pressure.

"I've been looking for a way to relieve some stress." Torga punched the helpless orc in the face. It felt good.

"You deserve this."
Torga thought. Rage began to surge from his stomach. It was like a roiling cauldron, overflowing and filling him with a hate he had never felt before.

Torga began to punch the defenseless Cultist in the face again. Over and over. One after another. Bones began to crack; Whether it was his fists, the Orc's face, or some combination of the two, Torga didn't seem to care. He just kept striking the poor Orc with fists. Blood began to seep out of his now broken nose as his eyes became swollen under Torga's barrage.

"DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID TO MY PEOPLE?! YOU ALL DESERVE TO DIE! EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU PIECES OF SCUM! ARRGH!"

Torga's rage began to subside as he felt the pin-pricks of eyes watching him beat a defenseless man, who in all honesty probably deserved what he had gotten and then some. Torga looked down at his hands. They were covered with blood. He couldn't tell if it was his or the assassin's. It probably didn't matter. The blood on his hand was as symbolic as it was literal. This Orc deserved his fate, but should Torga be the one to administer such fate? A killing in cold blood would not solve anything. He knew that. It would only make him as bad as the ones who had wronged him. One thing was certain, however.

It felt good.

Just beating the Orc to a bloody pulp gave him a rush of satisfaction that he had never felt before. It was justice. Every blow was vengeance for all the tribesman he had lost. He couldn't even be sure that this assassin was even associated with The Civil or The Children, but he still wanted to snap his neck.

Torga grabbed the bloodied Orc's head and stared deeply into his black, swollen eyes, and began to shout. "You are alive because The Paragon wills it so. I would have killed you. Slowly. Painfully. I would crush every bone in your body. I would burn the flesh from those broken bones. I would take the air from your lungs and replace it with your blood. You will thank The Paragon for allowing you to live even an instant longer than you would have in my care, and you will pray to whatever Dead Gods or Dragons you believe in that they do not release you to my "care", because I will make you regret the day that you ever turned your back on your own people."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image The distracted deep human barely registered the voice in his head, which had long since lost it's malevolent edge on Kisikoni. However, he knew a serious voice when he heard it, and pulled himself out of his simmering thoughts back to reality. Not a moment too soon, Kisikoni heard Talae's cry of warning as well, and he instinctively crouched low, just in time to feel a single bolt whip past the left side of his face. The other slammed into his upper right torso, sending him reeling. Unluckily for the deep human, his light mail was not able to stop the penetrating power of the bolt, slicing cleanly through the links. The first bolt barely missed the pack horse by an inch, causing it to panic and charge down the streets. Kisikoni gathered his wits quickly, standing up despite the wound and wildly looked for his partner- which had bounded off for a cart. He noted the lone bolt embedded into the side of the building, and decided three assailants was not a very good match up, even if the lone fighter in question was one of the best fencers he knew. The horse could wait, it was trained to return to the tents and had nothing of real value anyways. He broke into a run, avoiding unnecessary movement on his right side to avoid having the arrowhead slice his flesh too much. However, even as the cart and Talae carved a path through the crowds, One of the riders was tossed off by the silent dark elf. Kisikoni proved to be too slow to catch up, but even as the man rolled to his feet, the deep human was ready for him.

Though not primarily left handed, Kiskoni could fight well enough with the rest of his limbs as he drew one of his butterfly swords. His right arm dangled uselessly, to avoid unnecessary trauma. The man, a deep skinned elf began the duel with a high horizontal chop with his short sword, something Kisikoni easily ducked. Spinning around, the elf used the momentum to bring his sword around into a quick low cut, which Kisikoni twisted to block. The deep human retaliated with a heel kick to the elf's side, sending him stumbling back. Following up, Kisikoni charged in parrying a quick stab and falling into a slide that knocked the elf off his feet. The elf rolled over, attempting to get up but Kisikoni had already turned to land back on his feet, bringing a knee to slam the side of the elf's head and finishing him off with a downward thrust of his thick blade into the man's back.

Shoving him off, Kisikoni scanned his surroundings, ensuring that there were no other mercenaries that meant him harm. Convinced that there were none at the moment, Kisikoni began making his way toward an alleyway. This would be a bad idea in general, but he couldn't make it all the way back to camp without the pain and the bleeding getting to him. He needed to perform some proper first-aid first. Doing it in a public area was just asking for trouble, be it from the city guard or meticulous shopkeepers or assassins. Leaning against the wall, he slid down until he was sitting, letting a hiss escape his mouth as he grasped at the bolt. The head was designed like a harpoon- quick to enter, a pain to get out. Pulling it out would rip out more flesh than he would like.

Let me do it. It's faster. it said irritably. Kisikoni immediately threw up a mental wall, trying to block it from doing anything, but even as he tried to, he felt his mind go numb. A deep stink of what could only be described as fear for anybody close enough began to exude from the deep human, as his breathing became more labored and the bolt began twitching and turning unnaturally. Eventually, as the aura of fear became more palpable, the bolt slid smoothly out of his body, accompanied by the forming of a scale-like scab. Kisikoni heard the bolt clatter to the cobblestone ground, and immediately stared into a puddle formed from dead-gods-know-what. A monster stared back at the deep human, or rather, faced him. The eyes were completely missing, leaving naught but a black void- and his skin was as dry and cracked as a lake during a drought. Blinking once, Kisikoni steadied his breathing, and felt his face return back to normal. The scaly scab that the arrow left was gone, leaving only bare skin where the bolt had pierced through his mail and clothes.

"Never do that again."

Why not? I saved you the trouble of-

"Never do that again! You have no right to consider what or what doesn't trouble me, you monster!" Kisikoni shouted angrily, his calm composure completely shattered.

Harsh words for a hypocrite. Our fates are intertwined, mortal. You cannot tell me to do anything. You have less control than you would like to believe.

"Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!!"

Kisikoni stood up hastily, feeling the presence take extreme pleasure from his distress. He cast his eyes around quickly, and noted with some cheap relief that nobody had taken much notice of him. Avoiding the topic that clouded his thoughts, he decided to look for Talae and the pack horse. Flexing his right arm, he confirmed with some lingering disgust that it was working as well as it was before the ambush. He found his horse fairly close to where the ambush occurred, where it was calmed down by two fruit shopkeepers interested in stopping the horse's rampage before it destroyed their inventory. After apologizing quickly, he paid them to look after the horse until he returned. With his mind as clear as he could get, he delved back into the streets, following the commotion in an attempt to trace Talae and the Wagon's trail.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image "You know, all this work can't be good for you." She said, staring at a slim figure sitting at a desk. Pieces of blueprint paper were scattered about the room, some neatly piled in one side, others thrown carelessly about. The figure shook his head slowly, his head of jet-black hair shading his face from further recognition.

"I've seen harder days before Haven." He replied curtly, the quick motions of his quill never ceasing.

"Suit yourself, but why?" Mercy asked, tilting her head and leaning over the paper to get a better view. He did not look up, but rather continued writing as if she wasn't currently in the room. In truth, he was well aware of the fact, more so than the average person would be.

"Because I still can serve." He paused. "I'm getting soft." He commented, raising a hand to indicate her leave. "I have work to do."


The commotion just outside her tent roused the drowsy Nightmarian from her stupor. She returned to reality reluctantly, blinking heavily at the entrance flaps, which showed two figures moving erratically. She almost laughed if she weren't in such a daze. In this sorry state, she recognized some urgency. Why would two belly dancers perform outside her tent? Unless they weren't belly dancers. They burst through the tent flaps, clawing at their face with daggers out and flailing wildly. Well now.

She huffed slightly, raising her arms slightly and allowing both to trip and fall over. The would-be assassins tried to regain their balance, but failed to do so as they met a face full of a mixture of hay and arc shell. She twisted around, grabbing one and casually twisted his neck as he recovered. He fell to a clump, dead instantly. Mercy didn't have the patience for this bullshit, frankly- very few people dared to interrupt her drinking binges, and even fewer avoided seeing her fangs as punishment. The other had already stumbled to his feet, blindly stabbing with his dagger, but Mercy twisted, using her amazing flexibility around her waist to avoid the blade completely, grabbing the man and twisting his arm. The man spun around once, landing on his back with Mercy's arms securing him from the shoulders down.

The man struggled slightly, before he felt something pierce his neck. Instantly, fear began to seep in. This was definitely NOT what he signed up. He began to struggle with a feral instinct that was almost pitiable, because even if he could break the Nightmarian's iron grip he would not be able to make it outside of the tent before her Paralytic poison deaded his limbs and left him unable to move. Even as his flailing weakened, she rose, reaching back to grab some of the webbing she was secreting from her abdomen. She gently began wrapping him up, lazily observing her assailant's face as he realized he was being enveloped in the sticky secretion. "They're going to have fun with you, dear." She murmured softly into his ear, giggling mockingly. His expression was priceless, as was her many other victims. She finished securing his body with a mass of webbing, before tossing the man out of the tent, along with the body. She didn't particularly care she had just survived an assassination attempt, or that the assassins were unusually clumsy. However, now that she was awake she did have something she cared about.

She popped open another bottle. Immediately downing a quarter of it, she lamented drowsily how they couldn't have just killed her. It was such a pleasant dream.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Dresinil's entrance and graceless fall did not entertain Safir's poor humor as the pain in his hand began to grow more and more pronounced. He did, however deign to grin, as it was partially his fault for blocking the way in the first place. He noticed a couple of dark elves leaving, though not so subtle now that they've more or less lost control of their bodies. Safir took solace in the fact that assassins, who valued their precise movements much more than he did as a knight were suffering the hardest. "You only say that because you know I won't bite your head off." Safir replied, grunting as he stood up carefully. He was going to invite his elven comrade to find a healer with him, but apparently the Captain had already arranged such a thing.

A woman, a silenced with red robes approached him in all his inglorious appearance and quickly mended his bones. Safir's face twisted slightly, discomforted by his bones moving and mending at unnatural speeds. Well, it beat having to splint it and nursing it for weeks. The woman seemed to smile at him kindly, which brought a warm feeling to the knight's heart. Well, at least it seemed like she enjoyed what she did, despite the circumstances. He watched her heal Dresinil, slightly interested in how she manages such strange magics. His mother, an enchantress never spoke of her trade, and Safir himself didn't have a lick of magic within his veins. He wondered what it was like, to have such power no matter how slight it was.

He wasn't brooding for long, because before he knew it, Dresinil also sprang up fairly quickly, careful with his movements as well to avoid another injury. Tao's explanation and suggestions were feasible enough, and Safir decided to entertain himself for the day by getting reacquainted with his body- however strange that sounded. Dresinil offered to go with him, as training was less of a chore when done with others. They walked carefully, adjusting and fine-tuning their movements. As they searched for a good spot, they caught a glimpse of Jivven.

"Good dancer, but I've seen better ballerinas back home. None so pretty, though." Dresinil commented, and Safir could not help but chortle.

"Yet here you are, barely able to walk." He replied, attempting a light punch on his shoulder. Dresinil stumbled from the force, his face reddening slightly. "Oh, I did not mean t-"

"Gotcha." The elf laughed, righting himself carefully. They were already far enough away that they couldn't hear the dark elf's pattering feet. They decided to walk back to the general area of the healer, Carmen. The way people like himself and Dresinil trained was very different from that of Jivven's, involving more injuries. However, that served only to strengthen the body. Martial Artists like Gatan often beat themselves with special wooden rods to temper their nerves, becoming nearly impervious to medium amounts of blunt trauma. The two began with stretches and basic exercises, to get a feel for the new strength. More than once, Safir overexerted, pulling a muscle and ligament- or even throwing so much force that limbs popped out of their sockets. Carmen had to make more than one trip down, but whether she was disgruntled or not was hidden by her calm facade. He could not say the same for Dresinil, who was beginning to think of this blessing as something of a bittersweet curse.

Even after an hour of this, they were still apprehensive about trusting themselves with swinging around a weapon. They watched as a light swordsman whipped out his sword so hard, he hyper-extended his arm and had to be treated by the healer. Weighing his sword and shield with his hand, he was surprised to conclude that his sword felt like it weighed no more than a reed, and his shield was nothing more than a plank of wood on his arm. Dresinil expressed the same surprise, but at the same time seemed very happy about it. "This seems to have put you in a good mood." Commented Safir.

"Yes. I fear for the durability of my axe now that I can wield it with such strength." He said, a gruff excitement in his voice.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
The Paragon

Talos City


Draq screamed in pain and slumped to the floor, clutching at the arrow that had spontaneously blossomed in his shoulder. The brawny elf gritted his teeth and managed to glare at Turha through tear-blurred eyes. He quickly noticed that the eyes of his mother and brother were on the window, not the human. As soon as Draq turned to look at what his family was seeing, he was rewarded with a hail of glass tearing in to his face. The elf was writhing on the ground, clutching his face and digging at the glass in his skin.

The other guard, Draq's brother, recovered from the initial surprise of the sudden arrow through their shop window only to be smashed across the jaw with a hardened wood bow. An audible crack, from the snapping bow or his jaw, Jaren could not tell, issued forth before the burly elf blacked out.

Then only Turha, Lily and the devious shopkeeper remained. The former two stared at Lily in astonishment. Another onerous crack sounded off as Turha snapped his head backwards. The portly elven woman recoiled with a gurgling cry, her nose a bloody mash of flesh on her face. The moment the garrote ceased to pose an immediate threat, Turha sucked in a deep breath, pivoted on the ball of his foot and smashed the merchant's shoulder with his mace. Ignoring the ensuring cries and the incessant whimpering of the skewered guard, Turha rubbed his neck and regarded Lily.

"Thanks," he said in a half-cough, "I was afraid that you'd have landed back at camp by now." Turha rubbed the bruise where he'd been struck and the darkening ring of flesh on his neck and glanced sidelong at the elves. "This was unprovoked. We should bring them back the the captain, so he can deliver them to the town magistrate for punishment and recompense on our part."


Talos City, Town Square


The orc slumped, spitting out a tusk and trying to stare back at his torturer with some semblance of defiance. Stripped, bound, and forced to his knees before a legion of black-garbed soldiers, it seemed more comical than pitiful. Xeron lifted the orc's chin with the tenderness of a parent caring for their child and looked in to his eyes. The assassin that had targeted Neira was a bloody mess. Xeron could hardly tell where one laceration ended and another began. He cast a sharp glance toward the orc, Torga, and clucked his tongue. After a brief examination of the captive's thoughts, as well as those of the others, he was convinced that they were nothing more than brigands. He made this obvious to Torga, who wasted energy and resources wailing on a man who probably had no direct affiliation with the Children.

Highly skilled brigands, but hired blades none the less. Xeron arose, allowing the orc to sink down to the dusty earth with a dull thud. Two more captives, an elf and a dark elf, were already face-down in the dirt. Their noses streamed blood and their eyes were glazed with the desensitizing agony of mental probing. The art of mind-reading without permission was infinitesimally easier when the target was incapacitated or unaware. Being paralyzed under the effects of some predatory venom did nothing to halt the processes of the mind. If anything, it panicked the elves and made making sense of their thoughts that much harder. As a result, Xeron was forced to rip the information from their minds. Not a pretty sight.

Turha stood nearby with his golems at the ready, Lily in tow, keeping his mace in a loose grip. He was more than ready to pulp the head of any one of the two conscious elves he'd produced. One, Xeron amended, noting that the crying one with the arrow in his arm had finally passed out. That left the fat one. Xeron sauntered over with languid grace akin to that of a hunting cat and knelt before the pudgy elven woman.

"Well hello th-" a glob bloody mucus splattered on the black skin of Xeron's cheek. The psion's eye twitched, but his smile never faltered. "Well then. Who sent you?" as the words registered in the mind of the woman, Xeron sent in light mental probes to see what he could glean. After a few moments, Xeron nodded and asked another question. This continued for ten more minutes, by which time the elf and bleeding from the eyes. Her mental fortitude was commendable. Xeron scrunched his face in concentration, and the woman grunted in pain. As if realizing something obvious, the dark elf's eyes widened and the elf collapsed on to the ground. Xeron suddenly spun to face Wrath.

"Only the leader was close enough to see the face of the employer." Xeron said, and before Wrath could respond, Xeron cut him off with a clipped tone. "None of these men are the captain of this troupe."

Wrath's stomach tightened. Either there was a killer even more skilled than these wreaking havoc on his troops, or the mercenary was already dead, taking his secret to the grave.

Even as these thoughts raced through his mind, the silhouettes of men and women approaching the square and the Paragon encampment from every side became clear. The town was taking up arms against the soldiers for their seemingly random acts of violence against the innocent folks of Talos. There was going to be a lot of explaining to do.


Talos City, Streets


Salim's dagger flashed in the harsh sunlight as he stared down the dark elven woman. The mercenary leader reversed the grip on his blade and lashed out with a vicious cut to the femoral artery. A feint, though a very convincing one, that bought Salim enough time to utilize the narrow space between the two combatants. The ruddy skinned man stomped on the cart bed, prompting the beast of burden drawing it to suddenly speed up. Overbalanced by both the feint and the lurch, Salim easily caught the wrist of Talae's sword arm while slicing at the other.

This was Salim's fight to lose now. Rushing through the city on an out of control cart, bound to his opponent. These were the initiation duels of the street gangs of his youth. Duels that he'd never once lost. With uncanny speed and power given the mere inches between them, Salim brought his knee up in to Talae's nethers with a brutality uncalled for even in a life or death struggle. This was followed immediately with a headbutt that rapped against Talae's skill and snapped her head back with jarring force.

"Nothing personal," he said, bringing his blade up in to position to finish off the dazed darkling, "But I really need that paycheck."

Time seemed to slow down as Salim was launched in to the air. He saw the wagon, splintered as it parted against a large, black construct in the middle of damned road. His shortsword, tumbling end over end through the air. The dark elf, lucky bitch that she was, of course managed to land in the arms of a deep human. All this went through the man's mind just before he slammed into a clay-brick wall at full force, losing consciousness instantly.


"Wakey, wakey, snails and snakey!" Beelzes jostled the obviously battered Talae that she held so effortlessly in her arms. The petite woman glanced at the crowd gathering around the scene of the crash and grinned. "Never seen an auto-accident! Back off! Damn. C'mon Shanir, things are getting awkward..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Paragon
Talos City, Supply Caravan


Neira watched without the slightest hint of pity as the terramancer encased his foe in an earthen fist, following up with blows from his own, much fleshier ones. If he was in danger of killing the fool, she supposed she would intervene, as dead men told very few tales, at least to anyone but that Darenthi bastard.

A series of wet cracks and pops were all Torga received for his trouble as it seemed the brigand was not speaking. With a whispered sigh, she approached and placed an hand on the orc’s shoulder. “This is accomplishing nothing.” She squeezed a bit, and her facial expression, mostly neutral but quite serious, made clear the double-intention of the gesture. She was at present standing with her hand over a vital pressure point, which she could manipulate at her leisure, and he would stop his assault on the prisoner. “I recommend you save your vengeance for those against whom you need the edge, not the hapless souls already at your mercy.”

With a shrug, she released him as soon as he backed off and oversaw the transport of the fool, now thoroughly subdued, to where Xeron was working his psionics on a few more prisoners. Interesting; not an isolated incident, then. That made sense, as while quite confident in her skill, Neira was not terribly important in the grand scheme of this army, and targeting her alone would have been beyond stupid.

Xeron’s verdict surprised her somewhat, but she did not question it. If that was what he’d seen in their minds, then that’s all that was there. She knew well enough that he was skilled in his trade, and no such folk as these would be hiding anything from him. The fact that they had yet to capture the captain was somewhat disheartening, or it would have been if she considered herself to have a heart at all.

“Chances are, he’s around somewhere, though… I think there might be bigger problems to deal with.” She eyed the group of approaching civilians speculatively, then turned to the general. “Might want to use your words here, Captain. Unless you’d rather I talk to them?”

Dead gods knew that wouldn’t go over well.

Talos City Markets


Talae, thrown from the moving cart, landed rather less jarringly than she’d been expecting. Her vision swam for a bit, though she was acutely aware that the only injuries she’d actually suffered were blunt traumas, and she wasn’t bleeding anywhere. Still, she lingered on the cusp of consciousness, scarcely able to make out the swirling shapes of the black tattoos that moved as if alive across the fair skin of Beelzes’s face.

As soon as her breath was once again properly situated in her lungs, Talae squirmed out of the warlock’s grasp, feet alighting on the ground without difficulty. When she attempted to support her weight, however, she lurched forward, only able to compensate with years of training in balance and fluidity. She wasn’t doing herself much credit right now, but that was a matter to be ashamed of later, not now.

She cast her glance to the side, noting her unconscious opponent. “Thanks. That one… back to General Wrath,” she garbled, then shook her head slightly. “Koni. Where is he? I think he was shot. I need to tell him…” she’d forgotten what, exactly, but she’d remember soon enough. Right now, her priorities were to reassure herself that he was alive, then drag the prisoner back to camp. Then, maybe, she’d actually go get those supplies she needed.

Paragon Encampment, Soldiers’ Tents


Chaos had erupted inside the tent, and Fak’ir could only surmise that the blinded assassins were being roundly dealt with. He wasn’t exactly sure whose dwelling this was, but as soon as one of the former combatants was ejected from the premises covered in spider silk, he had a pretty good guess. Of all the targets… the fool should count himself lucky to be alive.

Not that this would necessarily remain the case for long. Relinquishing his cover of darkness, the sun-darkened halfling approached the confined man, who had taken up shouting while trying to free himself from his bonds. Unamused, the desert-dweller dealt him a measured blow to the temple with a knife-hilt, rolling his viridian eyes when silence at last reigned once again.

Were he a different kind of man, Fak’ir might have complained about doing janitorial duties for someone else, but as it was he was a soldier till his last breath, and so he saluted the tent (or rather the half-sane nightmarian inside it) and set about moving the gift-wrapped assailant to the center of camp without protest, figuring that Captain Yan’vega was unlikely to bother doing so herself. For someone of his diminutive stature, he was no pushover, and transport was more a matter of finding the leverage than the strength. Eventually, though, muttering a string of colorful oaths in a lilting language quite different from the common tongue, he was able to roll the unconscious man into a line of similarly-indisposed individuals awaiting mental examination by the weird dark elf man who had apparently defected from the Children.

He caught the nightmarian’s words and scowled. “Probably won’t make a difference,” he pointed out pragmatically. “You ever known the populace to listen to reason once they have it in their heads to lynch a body?” He spoke from bitter experience, but masked it with general gruffness.

The Children of Fire
The Imperian, a Ghost Town That Shouldn’t Be



Three days after their powers were bestowed upon them, the Aesr were deployed for the first time, transported to a location just outside what was once a thriving trade center in the Imperian, and an early conquest of Nihalistrix. Aesr herself, presently shaped much like a dark elven woman, had been at the forefront of this conquering army, and had expected the sight of the town to bring her much satisfaction.

As it was, she was screaming like a banshee and like to tear someone’s eyes out. They’d arrived at the periphery of the town before she’d known that anything was wrong, but when her suspicions had been confirmed, she’d been positively incensed.

There was nobody here. The entire town, still intact and standing, bore not one trace of mortal life, and it was as if they’d all spontaneously vanished. Doors to buildings hung open, swinging eerily on their hinges in the westbound breeze, and though her eyes darted back and forth over the landscape, Aesr could not pick out the reason for the desertion.

“What is the meaning of this?” she shrieked to nobody in particular. This was not how her first solo command was supposed to go. They were supposed to march in, crush the small Paragon resistance that resided here, reestablish their hold on this place, and leave again, blooded and ready for greater things. Glaring about at all of her soldiers, she grew increasingly frustrated when none was able to provide her with a satisfactory answer. Not even that idiot- wait. Where was her Captain? “Tao!” She grit her teeth when there was no immediate response, and rounded on Carmen. “Where is he?”

The Silenced’s ridiculously-blue eyes went wide, and she shook her head emphatically, holding both hands up and in front of her in an attempt to placate the angry dragon. Aesr realized that a trail of smoke was coiling from her nostrils and took a deep breath. Turning back around, she bumped right into the object of her search, who’d apparently heard her summons and appeared. Aesr’s hands curled into fists; she was surrounded by imbeciles. Her angry tirade was forestalled when the deep human pointed at something. Following the trajectory of his arm, she noted scorch marks on the ground not too far from where they were.

“The rest of the city is likewise marked,” he informed her, and he sounded so inappropriately chipper about that that she considered tearing one of his arms off. No, no, he’s more useful to me whole. They all are. It was a few moments before she realized exactly how humiliating this particular revelation was.

Her mouth worked for a few seconds with no resultant sound before it caught up with her brain. “Of course,” she said, covering her shame with arrogance. “Magical interference. Fine; we march further, then. We’ll find who was responsible for this, and punish them.” Her words were firm, but the Captain raised a speculative eyebrow. This was directly contradictory to her mother’s orders; they were supposed to avoid no man’s land. But, untested as her soldiers might be, Aesr was approaching desperation to prove herself, and beyond the tactical repercussions, she cared not how many she had to lose to do it.

Tao himself shrugged and motioned to the rest of the troops, setting out at the front of the group. Ordinary march pace, problematic only to those who weren’t used to it. Carmen fell back to mingle with the others, allowing her presence to soothe in the way it sometimes tended to. Besides, she was not much of a combatant: though holy magic did have destructive capabilities, she was not accustomed to using them, given the rarity of proper healers. She wound up beside the knight from the other day and the pretty purple moth-woman.

Shasarra marched a distance behind, being one of the only people comfortable walking within ten feet of Zulii, though she hadn’t tried making conversation since the second day of training, and that hadn’t gone too well. Instead, she spoke to Jivven. “Something tells me this wasn’t the original plan,” she drawled with a hint of sarcasm. That much was obvious from the fit Aesr had been throwing, but she wasn’t exactly sure what they were supposed to do now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image The runaway wagon carved a path of confusion in it's wake, and while there was the poor soul that was run over there was no lasting damage until it promptly crashed. Kisikoni was barely able to keep up, and was slightly relieved when the wagon's rampage came to an end. At the same time, a bud of worry erupted in Kisikoni's chest, wondering the fate of Talae until he noticed a crowd gathering around a separate area. He pushed himself near the front, looking over the shoulders of spectators and saw Talae in the arms of Beelzes. She didn't look terribly injured, and Beelzes was cheerful as usual. Satisfied that Talae was in good hands, he attempted a quick signal at the deep human before disappearing back into the crowd. Truth be told, after everything that had recently transpired he wasn't too eager to be alone with Talae. It would be incredibly awkward, and she definitely needed time to take in everything she had told her. He also had a horse and preservatives to retrieve, and it would be best if they were separated. Other enemy assassins or bounty hunters would be forced to split up, thus weakening their forces. With Beelzes, Kisikoni was certain that Talae could take on any threat.

Eventually, he would have to talk it out with others- his specter problem wasn't slight enough to be brushed off, especially with it laughing in his head at the notion that it could be tamed. Talae was the only one he trusted so implicitly with the full weight of the knowledge, though he was aware that the Paragon had an inkling of his state. After all, Pel had been assigned to him as a personal medic. He cringed slightly at the thought of the halfling, halting the guilt before it could take root in his heart.

The elf he had killed would be of no use to the Paragon, but the unconscious dark elf may yet yield some answers. The third man, who had been impaled by Talae's blade was unlikely to have survived, and even if he did, would probably have been gone by now. He jogged past the stalls they had been attacked, without giving the body that was still sprawled on the cobblestone a glance. He would have to either bring the body to Xeron or Wrath to determine whether he would be of use, or bring a report back. The man was dead, and from what he could tell did not look anything special- especially so due to his average level of skill in fighting. He retrieved the pack horse, thanking the shopkeepers once more. Though they looked disgruntled, their day brightened considerably when Kisikoni tipped them a couple of coins for the trouble. Leading the horse back around, he brought it over to a merchant who was selling spices. After a quick exchange, Kisikoni dutifully loaded several bags of salts onto the horse, which seemed to take on a slightly disappointed appearance. He took the last one and threw it onto his shoulder, using a free hand to grab the horse's reins and begin leading him back out of the city.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image What in blazes was all the racket about? Mercy groaned, blearily rubbing her voluminous red eyes. The entire camp was in an uproar for one reason or another, and Mercy resolved to find it and squash it so she could go back to sleep. A half-empty bottle was clenched tight in her left arm as she got up unsteadily and burst through the flaps, eyes fiery. Seizing a nearby soldier, she inquired about current happenings. The soldier, unused to the generally lewd nightmarian's antics gave a nervous response. She supposed the idea of assassins would explain the rude intrusion earlier. Speaking of which, the web-wrapped men she tossed out earlier had not remained in front of her tent, so she assumed they were taken away to be questioned. A pile of turned over dirt, no doubt a trail left by somebody attempting to move the web-stricken individuals lead her to where all the action was happening.

Stumbling over, she took a swig of the increasingly light bottle and clasped a hand onto who she believed to be Xeron. "You're tellin' me, that our security is so bad letta'couple of guys enter my tent ta'tryna kill me?" She slurred, trying her best to sound indignant but failing horribly. Half her eyes were unfocused and dormant, which wasn't helping her attempt either. Releasing her grip on Xeron's shoulder, she swayed slightly while turning to regard the bunch of captured men. She burst out laughing when she saw one that was beaten to a pulp. "Who, who did that? He or she deserves a promotion!" she cried, slapping one of her knees in mirth. Sighing, she drained the rest of the bottle and used the end to poke one of the prisoners gracelessly. "I dunno' fellas, none of these guys look like they know anything." She slurred, incredibly late on the uptake. She quickly lost interest in the faceless goons, taking a more prominent interest in finding the leader so she could sleep in safety. Whoever saved her probably wouldn't be there to catch her when she fell if it happened again. "Hoo, well I'll go an' check the storage and check the storage to see if he's stealing anything." She said, turning and raising an unsteady hand.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Three days was just enough time for Safir to regain comfortable control of his body. No longer did he accidentally crush his bones in a fall or pop a joint out of it's socket with a swing. He could not say the same about Dresinil, but he seemed well enough off to join them on the mission that was announced to their leader- the unpredictable and unnerving Aesr. Once again, magic was utilized, and they were transported to a huge city. Safir's first emotions were that of frustration. Why the hell did they go through that triple-pace march for hours if they could have simply teleported to the tower? His second thoughts was that of how quiet everything seemed. Looking around, he finally noticed that indeed, everything was empty.

What were they doing here? The only logical assumption that Safir could make was that they were doing some grunt work and hauling supplies. However, the city looked long abandoned to the point where most of the food would have spoiled. Safir glanced at Dresinil, and to the rest of his comrades, but Aesr seemed absolutely outraged by the turn of events as well. Once again, the heavy-lidded knuckle head that was their captain had to placate the disguised dragon, who took the form of a catching elf.

For all their strength, by god did they have an equal amount of pride. Their disguises were uncannily beautiful. Shrugging slightly, he gave a reassuring nod to Carmen- their healer. Though clad his his armor and shield, such desolate silence made him feel vulnerable. Carmen's presence made him a lot more confident than he would be without her. They were off again, marching toward nowhere. He wasn't sure what was to come or make of this event, but Aesr certainly seemed agitated about something and Safir figured it might have something to do with this area. Safir noted that he was beside the moth woman as well as Carmen, and decided to converse with her to pass the time. "Three days enough for you? I think I broke more figures those past few days than the entire Civil armies throughout the war." He said, flexing his digits confidently.

Setting

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Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Otowar
Burning glares were Torga could feel. Both of townsfolk and comrades. He wasn't sure what hurt more, his knuckles or his pride. He grumbled, examining weapons as he had intended to do before the mercenary showed up. He could feel nervous vibrations of footsteps reverberating through the earth. Torga ran his hands over the weapons, ready to take grip of one and defend himself. He was ready to receive a far more brutish reprimand than the couple he had already received. He wasn't sure what the policy was on excessive force, but it wasn't as though the assassin didn't have it coming, even if he wasn't the enemy Torga thought he was. The fact that the mercenary meant harm in Torga's mind superseded the fact that he was only paid to do his job. Had anybody even asked why they were targeted? Or by who?

Whispers got louder, as citizens began to spread more vicious rumors; If not about the Paragon, then most undoubtedly about him. Blood dripped from his knuckles, as the pain began to set in from what he had done. He grunted, and rubbed his hands together. A gentle green light began to glow in his palms. Torga began to rub the light on his rather superficial wounds like a salve. As the light began to sink in to the skin, the cuts began to knit together. Suddenly, an arrow landed at his feet. A woman on a building above was armed with a bow. it was clear that if she intended to kill Torga, she more than likely could have done it already. She wasn't dressed in the same garb as the mercenary assassins that had been out and about a few minutes previously. She was quite a distance away, but he could tell the look in her eye. It was a look that Torga had sported one than a few times in his past. She was a protector of her people.

He began to have mixed emotions. Rage bubbled again, mixing with a strange sense of compassion, guilt, shame, and pride. He walked slowly away from the makeshift armory, and made his back to town square with the rest of The Paragon's troops. Perhaps they wouldn't judge so harshly his show of force, though he knew whatever he got, no matter the tone, would not be anything he deserved.

"Torga, what's wrong?"


Torga recognized the voice well. It was Gurtz, perhaps the strongest warrior that his tribe had to offer. He always seemed to have with him a tower shield, massive even compared to his eight foot frame of pure muscle. He wore incredibly heavy armor; He was almost so well defended by the armor that the tower shield was redundant. The fact that he could wear so much heavy gear, march all day in the heat, and swing his massive mace with one hand for more than an hour without slowing was a paragonal testament to Orcish endurance and strength. Torga knew that if anything ever happened to him, Gurtz would be next in line to lead the tribe.

"You needn't concern yourself with it. It's a personal matter. You'd do well to get in the shade, Gurtz." Torga walked by him, and tapped him on the shoulder, affording his the spell that Torga had casted on himself, affording him some protection from the heat until at least sundown.

Gurtz was always vigilant and ever wary. It was one of the reasons he could almost never be seen without his armor, his weapon, his shield, or some combination of the three. He had learned as quickly as the other Tribesmen that there was no time to prepare for battle when fighting an enemy that was so dishonorable.

Torga found an empty tent, and went inside. He laid down, and held back a scream of mental agony and anguish. Conflict raged in his gut and in his head, but he had to maintain appearances. His people needed a strong leader, and The Paragon needed a strong arm.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


"Yep. The first plan no doubt had us thrown headfirst into battle," Jivven answered Shasarra. His eyelids lazily closed half of his eye, and he was marching in rhythm to everyone else. He was aware of everything and everyone around him thanks to that swill he had drank three days past. It was a lot easier marching in step with the army when you all shared a connection, even if it was just a nag at the base of his skull. That feeling never went away, nor did the feeling of strength.

While he had been luckier than most in that he didn't break (many) bones, thanks in no small part the conditioning his vocation demanded, the sudden spike in ability and strength managed to throw him off balance. He had just recently managed to gain an acceptable amount of control back. In fact, the past three days, it would look like Jivven did nothing but dance, and at times even managed to garner a crowd. To the untrained eye, the dance would look elegant, agile, and light, but to Jivven it was ugly, off-balance, and random. It was more flopping of limbs than something a shadowdancer could call a "dance". Though now it was less flopping and more grace, but still. Jivven wasn't proud of it.

As such, they had transported out of the tower and to near this empty town. The fact that they transported out of the tower, but not to it irked him. He knew the reasoning probably dealt with testing the fortitude of the recruits or some inane reason. The triple timed march was still a sore memory. As such, he found himself marching a distance from the front line with Shasarra, considering the assassin's job description, it wasn't difficult to see the purpose of his location.

"And considering that I don't have a blade in my skull, I'd say something is amiss," Jivven finished, finally opening both eyes to their fullest, exposing his crimson eyes. "At least we're not up front, Lady Aesr seems... Frustrated. I'd rather not get eaten today," He said, having heard her earlier tirade. He did not want to be anywhere near an angry dragon, being one of her soldiers or not. That's just not good sense. Jivven's eyes surveyed their surroundings, like an animal checking it's perimeter to make sure it was safe. "It's quiet," Jivven noted to himself. While he liked the quiet personally, such silence usually meant no good in a place like a town.

From where he could see, the town was scarred with a number of scorch marks, which more than once he got to step over as they marched forward. "Wasn't the plan to take this city?" Jivven mused, "It seems to me that we have taken it, no? Mission accomplished? We won and the bad guys lost, let's go home?" Jivven chattered with a smirk. Nothing was ever that easy. He had a feeling that Aesr wouldn't give up until she had found something for them to kill. And to be honest, despite his keen survival instinct, Jivven wouldn't mind the opportunity. Jivven unloosened the top button on his robes, just in case.




Liliana Bloodleaf


"Yeah... Camp... Well. Now I'll have to find another one," Lily grimaced, staring at the broken bow in her hand, the broken end hanging by the bowstring, she shrugged and tossed the shattered weapon. Not like she had any use for it now aside from a flail. Even then, she'd hurt herself rather than anyone else. Leaning on the saber, Lily finally comprehended what Turha had said. "Ah, right. Toss them on back on the Mark II. He might not can fly with them, but he can walk. I'd rather not carry anyone," she said rubbing the sweat off of her brow. Now that she had stopped flying in the cool air, she felt the wrath of the intense heat, "Especially not her," She said, pointing at the shopkeeper.

Back at the town square, Lily faced the two elves they had brought with a hand on her hip and the tip of her saber digging in the ground. The three members of her own personal unit, Zyn, Landion, and Adel had an arrow nocked, yet not drawn and looked for any hostile movement from any of the prisoners. "Yet another broken bow, ma'am?" Adel had teased upon their return. Lily had frowned and murmured something about her Ashwood bow. The only thing that managed to break that bow was a Hatchling dragon. She missed that bow.

The "interrogation" process was... Gruesome to say the least. Having one's mind defiled and having secrets ripped away was probably not the most comfortable experience and more than once Lily had to avert her gaze, yet her eyes always returned. They had to know what they knew. Someone was trying to kill them... They needed to kill them first. A tenet she first learned in the forest among her Bloodleaf brothers and sisters. She never really took the lesson to heart until then. She rolled her neck, and just like that Xeron was done with his interrogation. "Mercenaries?" Of course mercenaries. Horrible ones, but mercenaries all the same.

And with that, there was a dull thump as an arrow lodged itself at the feet of an Orc. Torga, a relatively new recruit from what she remembered. She had heard the whispers of his violent response to one of the mercenaries. An overly violent and bloody response from what she heard and could tell from the Orc's body language. Almost like a certain berserker she had known. She'd have to find the time to talk to the orc at some point. "Easy Zyn. It was only a warning shot," She said, catching the dark elf's immediate response to swing his own bow around and aim at the archer.

Then she caught the sight of the citizens approaching them at all sides. Her unit had a tight grip on her bowstrings, ready for any evidence of hostility. "Easy," She repeated, "Don't do anything rash and listen to Wrath," She ordered

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Basta
Free! Finally free! Zulii swooped and dived around the group for a good twenty minutes as they left the tower, exhilarated that she could finally stretch her aching wings without breaking anything else. She'd frustrated more than one healer after she tried to smash a stone pillar with her bare hands, then spending the remainder of that day breaking anything she could get her hands on, and more often than not, failing. The second and third days saw Zulii simply exercising like Tao had shown the group, so she could be in full control of her own limbs.

Finally, the witchdoctor landed and marched alongside the group, though more to the rear of the contingent than most. She could sense the others' distrust or suspicion of her, and for the first time in her short life, she wanted to be a part of the group. Something bigger than her urged for conformity, and she wasn't going to disobey. After all, her feral mind could barely handle speech, let alone thinking on the nature of a metaphysical connection to the group around her. No, she decided, her time was better spent smashing things and killing on command.

Speaking of command, the biggest presence making itself known to Zulii was that of their leader, one Aesr, and it was unnerving to the harpy to feel the hugeness of that mind. As the army approached their destination, the dragon's mind lashed out in anger and confusion, raising Zulii's hackles. She quickly dashed around the group in front of her, but kept her distance from the raging Aesr. It didn't look like she needed anyone killed, but that could change in a moment's notice. Something about the state of the city was causing her leader to be distressed, but for the life of her Zulii couldn't figure it out.

They set out again, past the city and onwards, with Aesr angrily leading the march and Tao at her side. Shrugging slightly to herself, Zulii fell back until she was even with the only other harpy that had tried to talk to her. Sharsa...Shisaara...Shasarra...Something like that. Zulii never really had to pay attention to names before. If anyone introduced themselves to her, and she didn't kill them, they soon found out that she wasn't the kind of person to talk to anyways.

"Urr..uhm...Shsra? Shasarra? I have forgetting. Know you what wrongness has happen? I am confusing why we no have attacked meat yet." As far as conversations went, it wasn't much, but it was more than many have heard from Zulii before, and if she was to turn over a new leaf, she might as well start in comfortable ground. She noticed a dark elf next to her, and gave him a hesitant nod, unsure of how the whole greeting thing worked still.

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Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
The Children of Fire


Although it was not uncommon for a harpy to cling to the old ways of natural selection, survival of the fittest, and the degradation of males, it struck Shasarra as profoundly odd that Zulii had not practiced her Common. Since the rise of the dragons harpies had been forced to interact with the lesser, land-bound races in a more civilized manner. One that involved more than see, kill, and eat. Judging by her broken speech, twitchy air and reference to other entities as meat, Shasarra felt safe in her assumption that she was dealing with a crone. Not in the sense that she was old in years, but that Zulii would revert to the old ways the moment it becomes a viable option, carving out a bloody niche for herself in the reestablished hierarchy. Shasarra felt a sudden sense of kinship swell within her breast.

"We were late to the battle," she said in a series of low squawks and chirps, speaking to Zulii in Avasi for the witch-doctor's benefit as much as her own. "I think I heard the mistress saw something about betrayers. Reds." Shasarra gestured at the soot and blackened structures in town before shrugging her winged arms. "If I were to guess, other Children did this. The followers of the red dragon that betrayed his brothers and sisters. Gurthenemon." this last part came out in Common, for there was no clear translation to Avasi for such a name.


The Paragon

Talos City


Things progressed more smoothly than Wrath had initially expected. Despite the tension and barely unchecked hostility fronted by the townsmen, there was little more than posturing to be found. For the most part things were dead silent until the mayor arrived to straighten things out. Wrath explained the coordinated attacks and was relieved to see Beelzes reporting in, bringing Talae and Kisikoni as well as the final piece of the puzzle. With his claims supported heavily and several eye-witness reports adding some substantial weight, the Paragon legion got off rather lightly.

Of course, there was the matter of property damages, which Sid handled admirably given her miserly nature. Several times over the course of the negotiations the words 'greedy' and 'cheats' arose.

As for the matter of justice, several of the Paragon's would-be assassins had to be handed over to the local authorities. Turha's friends, the portly elven woman and her sons, were convicted of murder after two dead shopkeepers were found in the sundries store they had ambushed the linker in. Another two were apprehended after their confession to killing the owners of a merchant wagon. That left Wrath with four of the mercenaries: the two that had attacked Mercy, the orc Torga had beaten, and the leader. The latter of the group was staring blankly at Wrath, as if the entire situation was for all the world boring him. Wrath allowed the southerner to bake in the sun for a few minutes before addressing him again.

"So, Salim Adhulma. Spotless record, not a single botched job, yet you somehow manage to stumble on us. You somehow find the goodness in your heart to spill everything you know about your employer, and prompt us to meet him at the arranged payment drop in your place, so long as we promise your safe release? Is that is, Salim?"

"You're quite right, Rathehallaga Liu-Wen." Salim smirked at Wrath's sudden discomfort in being addressed by his full name. "Strange name for a human, by the way. More akin to night..." he paused, noting the handheld crossbow that a halfling was aiming at his chest. Shrugging in defeat, Salim looked at Wrath again and nodded curtly. "Yes, general. I have failed, although I am still finding it hard to belief that a darkling defeated me, and have nothing to show for it. At the very least I could perform a kindness by telling you where the drop point is so you can have at the one who wants you dead."

Wrath leaned back, sitting on a small table. He looked to Sid who shrugged in an "I don't know.", then Iridanias who smiled and nodded. "It seems as good a plan as any. Even if they were planning to betray the man and kill him on the spot, their numbers would not come anywhere near ours. If anything, we could pry the information from their minds."

That was a detail that disturbed Wrath somewhat. According to Xeron, after a thourough mind-scrub without so much as a shred of resistance, Salim was telling the truth. After a short while of contemplation, Wrath looked to his many captains and soldiers, then nodded. The general tightened his bracers and reurned his gaze to Salim. "Alright mercenary, it is decided. We will meet this employer of yours. But you do not have to tell us where the drop is," at this, Salim raised a brow with obvious suspicion, weighing his options. Before he could formulate a reply, Wrath was speaking again. "No. You won't tell us where it is. You will guide us."


The Imperian

That was three weeks ago.

Now, as Salim braced himself against the rough-hewn stone walls, he wished he'd weighed his options more carefully. The dusky mercenary was ten feet above ground, using his legs to push his back against the wall behind him, keeping him aloft between the two surfaces. He gnawed fiercely at the rope binding his hands. The snapping sounds beneath him were distracting, but the thought of what would happen if he did not move soon spurred him on. Below Salim, four emaciated, vaguely humanoid creatures were reaching up at the mercenary with clawed hands and clacking jaws. To an onlooker, given enough distance, the scene would appear to be some sort of debasement or worship. To Salim, it was a verse straight out of the horror stories his friends told in his youth.

Milky, white eyes that oozed yellowish fluid. Dray gray skin drawn taught over bony features. Curled blackened nails at the ends of reaching hands. The worst of it, however, was their mouths. Thick, ropy strands of viscera hung from most of the ghouls mouths and painted their chests with gore. It was fresh, the aftermath of the feast that had been his three remaining mercenary underlings. Salim cursed in some common pidgin and shook his head, smiling. The rope was not yielding, and now that he thought about it, he hadn't even bothered to learn the names of those men. Salim glanced down at the crowd below him. It was dark, but the moonlight filtering in through the cracks in the structure provided just enough illumination for him if he strained. More ghouls and zombies were arriving. He counted fifteen or sixteen now.

"Dead Gods, I didn't think my karma was this bad," he stared up at the stone ceiling as if some diety would look back at him. Being eaten alive was not high on the list of his preferred ways to die, and Salim realized that his legs were shaking with the exertion of keeping him above the slavering horde below. He was wishing he hadn't been able to shake his jailer, Shanir, as adroitly as he had. A distraction would be nice right about now.


"Yan'vega!" moving with speed impossible for someone as heavily armored as he, Thanaros shifted past a shambling corpse and gored another that had leaped off of the roof of a nearby building. The half-orc tossed the body aside and leveled his polearm at the next abomination to wander too close. Several more members of the reconnaissance team filed in and fanned out alongside Mercy and Thanaros, bringing their own weapons to bear against the undead. Thanaros spoke to the nightmarian without looking. "Have you seen Ayalen or Shanir? Maybe Grimsmirk?"

Thanaros was more worried about the outcome of this skirmish than nearly any fight he'd ever participated in. The operation was supposed to have been simple. After weeks of travel and the utilization of a couple teleportation rings, the Paragon had found themselves fairly deep in the Imperian Deadlands. Salim lead the force to a castle, an old one rendered by dwarven craftsmen, and told them that this was where payment was promised. Salim was given a marker that would have teleported him directly to the castle to receive payment, but that only allowed for one passenger. Use the mercenaries as bait to draw out the employer and his protection, then overwhelm them with superior numbers and surprise. Mercy, Talae, Kiskoni and Sid were chosen as the leaders for the thirty soldiers in the mission.

Laying in wait, dispersed along the castle interior in small strike-groups, the team was ready to take the shadowy employer in one fell swoop. Things went to hell once the four mercenaries entered the office within the castle interior. Undead exploded from the structures with a silent alacrity that made it seem as if their very bodies had been grafted in to the castle upon its creation. Roughly half of the strike-force died in the initial attack.

Kisikoni was dragged under the floorboards by a pair of skeletal hands and Thanaros was sure he'd seen Sid go in after him. When Salim bolted from the meeting spot, the screams of his cohorts marking their fate, Talae pursued the mercenary.

As of now, the only other captain he knew for sure was alive was Mercy, and they all needed to get out of the courtyard and in to the castle. The main gate was closed and choked with ghouls besides, and the interior halls would be easier to defend. Also, Kisikoni and Sid were inside. They were the two with the distress scrolls. If anything were to go wrong, they would activate the simple magic, causing a bright flare to light up the night sky and signal Wrath and the rest of the Paragon to advance on the castle to their rescue.

If they had any chance of surviving this night, they would need to reach Kiskoni or Sid. Or, Thanaros thought grimly, recover the scrolls from their bodies.


Sid loaded another cartridge in to her repeater and proceeded to lay down another hail of suppressing fire. Perched on the top of a refuse pile was not her ideal sniping position, but beggars could not be choosers. At least they had light. Three everbright lanterns burned dimly in the room above, their pale luminescence flowing in to the cellar that Sid was in through a large hole in the floor above. There was yet another hole in the floor above that, the room from which Kiskioni had been dragged down. Next to her, Kisikoni was finally beginning to stir.

"Get your ass up, Ayalen!" the halfling stood and kicked the half-lucid Kisikoni in the ribs. She instantly regretted it as a sharp jolt of pain raced up her limbs to burn hotly at a jagged wound on her shoulder. Almost immediately after making it to where Kiskoni had fallen, Sid had been taken by surprise by the thing that grabbed Ayalen in the first place. Despite the bolts to the chest, it managed to take a bite out of her shoulder. She could barely hold her crossbow properly, and she was already feeling light-headed. More and more of the undead began to shamble there way out of the darkness beyond the lantern glow in the cellar, filtering in from the many basement-routes below the castle. They needed to move. Now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Paragon
The Imperian, A Castle


Neira moved silently alongside Xeron, both rendered invisible by his psionics. There was a magic-dampening field around this place, and the sounds of battle from downstairs indicated that some of their number were discovering this quite quickly. Psionics were only magic in the loosest sense, and besides that, the dark elf beside her was a bit better at it than your average fool.

Not that she would ever tell him so, of course. Indeed, even as they continued their search, they were volleying back and forth telepathically, with she as usual content to shred at his invincible ego in a futile, though valiant effort to humble him.

Since she wasn’t exactly sure what they were supposed to be looking for, and would much rather be fighting downstairs with the others, her remarks had a bit more bite than they usually did. He didn’t much seem to mind.



Talae cursed under her breath, a string of the vilest oaths she knew in her native tongue. When Sid and Koni had gone below, her instinct had been to follow them into that unknown (and probably highly dangerous) situation, but her orders were clear.

As it was, her indecision had enabled the escape of her prisoner (Salim, she was told, though she hadn’t really wanted to know), and now she had been forced to follow the bastard. His path had taken him through several winding corridors, and a few wrong turns had forced her to take the time to slay some undead along the way. She had far too much experience with exactly that, and though her breaths came with a bit less regularity than normal and her hand-and-a-half dripped with ichor and gore, she was unmaimed.

Her last turn had put her at a dead-end, though she noted that the window at the terminus of the hallway was open, which prompted another vicious string of expletives. Of all the damn stupid things to-

Gritting her teeth, she padded along the hallway, sheathing her blade across her back. Leaping onto the windowsill, she looked out and saw her suspicions confirmed. Salim, apparently trying to chew through his bindings, was precariously-balanced on a ledge of stonework about four inches wide, above several slavering ghouls. “Ast’va, you fool!” she yelled, shaking her head. Without hesitation, Talae was out the window, but her race was much more accustomed to this sort of situation than humans were, and her natural grip was such that she was in no danger of falling… herself.

“Stay there if you still want to be alive at the end of this,” she grumbled, picking her way over to his location with deliberateness. She could probably move a bit faster, but she really didn’t want to spook him into doing something else fatally-stupid, like jumping, for instance.


The Children of Fire
The Imperian, On the March



Pylarea, who’d been lost in thought, noted that she was being spoken to and turned to the tin-man who’d issued the words. The proclamation of new strength evoked a nod in the moth-woman. It had been a trying few days, and she still was no soldier in the conventional sense- she’d never had to be, until she left Ecclavaria- she was feeling more assured in her capabilities, at least a little.

The blonde woman, Carmen, was covering a smile with her hand, apparently genuinely pleased that they were all now able to move without breaking things. The moth was about to respond in words, but was cut off by a particularly enraged shriek from Aesr, which caused her to flinch a bit. “We might need that soon, I think,” she replied, blinking slowly. Pylarea liked to consider herself pretty intelligent, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that their leader wanted to smash something to bits. Which meant they’d all probably be following her into confrontation quite shortly.

Indeed, the entire group was soon on the march again, and the hours they spent covering ground (or, in her case, the air slightly above the ground) passed in relatively-pleasant conversation. Though Aesr would occasionally shoot a glare at anyone who dared to speak too loudly, Captain Tao apparently wasn’t bothered in the least by any of his soldiers socializing.



Once she’d concluded her jaunt into her native language, Shasarra smiled (somewhat nervously) at Zulii. The other woman actually reminded her of her older sister, who was also among the most traditional and fiercest of the harpies. Of course, Hatskar was dead now, slain in a battle against the Civil. It was the entire reason Shasarra had joined the draconian army in the first place.

Turning to Jivven, who she realized she’d forgotten to answer earlier, she shrugged diffidently. “Oh, yes, battle won. No losses, either. How glorious for all of us.” She scratched the shell of one slightly-pointed ear with a claw, a habit she had when she was considering something, then allowed one blond eyebrow to ascend her head. “But surely, the real glory is only there when your hands are bathed in the blood of your foes and the smell of it clings to your skin, no?” Her smile stretched over keenly-pointed canines. She may not dive into battle and feast on the fallen, but she was still of true harpy stock, after all.



The general chatter ended several miles from their destination, when Tao gestured for silence. Given that it was backed up by Aesr’s now-patented death glare, most complied immediately. Those that didn’t were quickly elbowed into submission by their compatriots, not desirous of a petulant dragon’s wrath upon them.

The second town they entered at first seemed like a replica of the first, empty save for the whistling air and dust. Ahead of them, though, the captain’s eyes narrowed, and he signaled something to Aesr, who nodded curtly, at which point he peeled off from the group and ran ahead while the dragon signaled a halt. Carmen, who had worked with both before, knew exactly what this meant, and placed her finger to her lips as an added plea for as much quiet as possible. When she lowered her hands, she clasped them together and closed her eyes, not even opening them again when the soft luminescence of holy magic started to seep from her skin.

Ten very tense and utterly quiet moments followed, during which a few dared not even breathe, and then Tao appeared once more, locking eyes with Aesr. The dragon’s voice over the mental connection that they all shared soon followed. “We’ve run into the Civil.” The last two words were almost spat, dripping with derision. “They’re sacrificing citizens to make more undead for Darenthi’s army. It is our task to stop them. Remember: undead can only be killed by beheading, fire, and holy magic. There will also be a necromancer in the area, and be careful of it.” Despite the note of warning in the words, she didn’t sound particularly concerned.

Carmen was a different story, though, and the cleric swallowed, at last releasing her hold on the spell that had begun to build. All of the members of the Aesr would then feel a boost in resilience, though the true potency of the spell would only be evident were they injured. There would still be pain, but a pain greatly reduced, so that they might fight more evenly with fell creatures that knew no agony at all.

As the procession started forward, she stopped Safir and Pylarea with a hand to each shoulder. Patting her hip with a hand, she stood as if holding a sword, then gestured to herself, indicating that she needed to examine their weapons for a moment. Pylarea handed hers over first, and Carmen smiled, praying over the thing for a few seconds, until it too, glowed with a radiant aura. If Safir would relinquish his, she did the same again, and both temporarily had divine magic with which to smite their undead foes. Such spells were difficult and draining, and probably not worth it in so small a quantity, but Carmen had been enjoying their company all morning, and wanted very much for them to survive.

Nodding, she gave them up to the battle, and then went about finding herself a strategic point from which to observe the battle and intervene as she was needed. If need-be, she could participate, but it was more strategically valuable to save her energy for healing the injured.



At the head of his company, Tao led the Aesr towards the center of the city. The dragon for whom they had been named had disappeared, but he had a vague sense of where she was, a privilege afforded to those of his rank.

Upon entering the town square, they were met with a grim sight: plainclothes villagers, tied into long chains of people, were being ritually executed by soldiers wearing the regalia of Nihil Darenthi’s Civil army. In most cases, it wasn’t long before the dozens of corpses rose again, taking up weapons as the undead. The necromancer himself was not immediately visible, but that meant nothing. He or she was present, and that was obvious.

At the moment, the element of surprise was on their side, but it wouldn’t be long until they were noticed. Tao gestured to those soldiers nearest himself and gestured for the others to divide in half and flank, cresting the rise that led to the square proper and laying into the first soldier he saw, the unnatural strength of the Children of fire ensuring that the elegant horizontal slice of his slightly-curved sword was enough to part the woman’s head from her shoulders smoothly as water.

After that, the alarm went up, and he surrendered himself to the battle.

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#, as written by Basta
Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers

As soon as Shasarra lapsed into Avasi, Zulii knew she jumped into something far over her head. Her command of her native language was even poorer than her abilities in Common, something that brought shame to the harpy. Zulii was only just now realizing how base and animalistic she'd become. Luckily she understood her companion, and began to worry. The brief glimpses she'd had of her leader's mind caused her to be on edge as they continued the march. She didn't want to be on the receiving end of Aesr's wrath.

The voice of their draconian leader beamed into Zulii's mind, causing her to shiver at the brush of such vast intelligence. “We've run into the Civil. They're sacrificing citizens to make more undead for Darenthi’s army. It is our task to stop them. Remember: undead can only be killed by beheading, fire, and holy magic. There will also be a necromancer in the area, and be careful of it,” she warned. Zulii made a face to herself, but nodded and prepared to engage in combat. She'd have to nab a sword or other cutting implement once she entered the fray, as she hated the feel of undead flesh. While she wasn't allergic to it like drow magic, Necromancy always made her a bit nauseous and she avoided it whenever possible.

The air-headed captain split the army into two groups, Zulii going with the latter half while he took the former. A great outcry soon struck up, which obviously meant that the Children were noticed and the fight had begun. Not wasting any time, the mad harpy took wing and flew over a couple buildings in her way, surveying the scene below her. A great, hulking warrior dropped his axe onto the cobblestones beneath him as his head was freed from his shoulder blades. Smiling to herself, Zulii swooped down and nabbed the enormous weapon, cleaving a nearby undead in two with the upswing as she rose. It would have been more comical if it wasn't so scary, seeing the comparatively small warrior heft a weapon almost double her size and dive-bomb her enemies. She spit on the blade of the axe, coating it with a special magic that would break down the flesh of the undead enemies, so even if she missed a decapitation, their flesh would soon become useless.

As the battle wore on, Zulii changed her fighting style to better support her allies. She began gusting the undead that got too aggressive with her great wings, causing them to lose balance and subsequently be cut down. If she found a Child stranded and fighting on all sides, she'd swoop down and clutch them by the shoulders, returning them to the relative safety of the main force. However she was beginning to tire, and settled down on the rooftop of a nearby building to catch her breath. Zulii almost slapped herself when she realized that she still hadn't tapped into her magical potential very much and began to weave spells to confuse the enemy troops below. She subverted several undead from the control of the necromancer, causing them to go berserk and attack their allies nearby.

"Damn shitting rot-meat. Not good for the eating. No pain they has feelings. They are bad soldiers..." muttered the crazed witchdoctor to herself as she continued to sow chaos in the battle.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


"Oh yeah, just switch tongues, leave me out of the conversation," Jivven said with hints of a smirk. He didn't really care, harpies were going to be harpies, and it'd be nice not to let the feral one drop into a blood rage and kill him too. Might as well try and build a repertoire with his allies right? He's a lot likely to survive engagements if his allies like him enough to help out. Or maybe that was their recent connection talking. It's not as though Jivven was introverted or unlikable, and could be quite friendly if his life wasn't on the line. Just because he was an Assassin didn't mean he had to be hateful and conniving all the time after all.

Jivven did manage to catch the last part of the conversation. A name really. Gurthenemon. "The reds? Would certainly explain the scorch marks," Jivven mused, hand rising and scratching his chin. This must have reminded Shasarra that Jivven was still there, as she answered him immediately after. "Ah, we've got a true warrior then. Blood, guts, and glory. I'll tell you the best sense of satisfaction. Slitting a target's throat without him or his friends knowing. Then leaving the premises none the wiser," A job, no doubt. Probably one done under Children before he was an official enlistee. Now those days were gone it seemed. Being thrown head first into the battle. Maybe the Harpy had a point, surely it'd be easy to fight if he was warrior. To bad he wasn't. The war had two sides, The living and the dead. He preferred to be on the living side. Being an assassin suited that desire.

That was the last Jivven spoke aloud to Shasarra. They were ordered to comply by Tao, and Jivven had to pop the bald head of a man next to him to get him to hush. The man looked at Jivven irritated, but the dark elf only held a finger to his lips, indicating to be quiet. Or shut the hell up, you're going to get us all killed... If that could be translated into a signal. The mental connection with the dragon rang loud and clear, making Jivven freeze. It was a new experience all together, to be spoke to in one's mind. He doubted he was going to get used to that. Undead? Well damn, he wasn't going to be decapitating foes anytime soon with his meager weaponry... Unless. He had forgotten about his increase in strength, so it was a possibility. Still though, he hoped that a poisoned blade into the brain stem would be enough. A lot more precise, a lot less messy.

He was one of the soldiers who broke off from the main force and flanked, naturally. When the attack was on fully, Jivven let the army surge past him. As the army surpassed him, nothing stood where Jivven once was, except for a discarded white cloak. Somewhere on the battlefield, there was a dark elf in a black hooded cloak. The first so succumb to the Shadowdancer was already engaged with another child, and finished off with a knife jerked through the entirety of it's neck. And just like that, the assassin was gone, blending into the battle and finding his next prey. And the next.

And the next.





Liliana Bloodleaf


"Damn, damn, damn, damn-"

"Less cursing, Adel, and more shooting. You act like this is the first time shit like this has happened to us."

"Maybe not for you ma'am, but I haven't been attacked by fucking zombies recently!"

"Noted, now keep firing!"

Each sentence were punctuated by a swish as an arrow was flung towards a ghoul, impaling itself in the dead flesh. "Remember, aim for the head!" Lily called to Adel at her back. "Reeally?!" was her sarcastic answer. Lily sighed before loosing another arrow. Why did She have to get stuck with Adel? Either Zyn or Landion would have taken this whole thing a lot better. A lot more shooting and trying to get out of this mess alive rather than complaining. A twang and resulting thud of a dead (deader?) ghoul falling down the stairs was her answer. Because Adel was the better archer.

How did she always manage to find herself in these situations. She and Adel were a strike team who managed to find themselves on the second floor in a creepy castle that was now crawling with ghouls... Magnificent. Both archers were covering an individual set of of stairs that led up to the second floor looking over the parlor. Obviously, they went up stairs for support while Sid and Koni were on the ground floor parlor. That went to hell as Koni found himself falling through the floor and Sid following close behind, while Talae darted after Mercenary.Ugh, Koni... The nerve of that man, always finding a way to make Lily worry. She'd have to make him pay for that when they got out.

While Lily and Adel were part of the team sent to the castle, Zyn and Landion were with the main body of the Paragon with Wrath, so they probably weren't going to rescue them anytime soon. The last battle was relatively simple. It made sense that karma bit them in the ass and made the next mission difficult. "What's the plan, Cap'n?" Adel asked. Lily ran the options through her head and shrugged, the movement felt on the back of Adel. "First? Find the others, if they're alive. Second? Survive," Lily stated grimly. "Perfect..." Adel answered. "Hey, you're a damn Sunwing. Act like it," She bit back. She could feel the woman sigh. "Ma'am."

Despite having choke points and their expertise in archery, they couldn't hold back the dead forever. They would run out of arrows sooner rather than later at this rate. "You still got that short sword? We may need to switch to close quarters eventually," Lily asked. "Of course. Only a fool would only carry a bow," She replied. Lily smirked and patted the saber at her side. "I'll get you taught yet," Lily murmured. She then looked over the railing and to the floor below. The ground was relatively clean of the ghouls, as most of them were trying to ascend the stairs to get the archers. Only a handful were downstairs feeding on fallen comrades who had accompanied Sid and Koni. "Can you make the drop?" Lily asked. As an elf, Lily had no worries about hurting herself in the fall, what with her race's hard bones and strong muscles. The human on the other hand... "If I tuck and roll..." She said, loosing another arrow.

"Good, this is how it's going to work. I'm going to hop the railing, land, shoot as many ghouls by the entrance as possible," To give breathing room for Thanaros and Mercy, but there weren't much time to explain that bit, "When you land, we'll break for the stairs down. We need to find Sid and Koni," It was risky, but they needed to find Koni and Sid alive. Trying to regroup with Mercy and Thanaros, if they were alive (Lily believed they were) would eat up precious moments Koni and Sid may not have. Knowing that Deep Human, he's already injured. Besides, they were the closest to aid them, and she would not see another friend fall today. Besides, she bet that Talae would appreciate it. She just hoped the dark elf roughed up the merc a little.

Lily let one last arrow fly catching the closest, who was spitting distance now, ghoul in the eye before hopping the railing in one fluid movement. Within what felt like seconds, Lily sent three arrows down range towards the entrance before the felt the air from Adel landing nearby. Adel rose with her short sword in hand, skewering one of those feeding ghouls before they could take a bit out of Lily. "Ma'am," was the only thing she said before both archer took off towards the stairs leading down. Neither were going to risk dropping down the hole in the floor and landing in a pack of ghouls. Hell, if Koni and Sid were smart, they'd try to be making their way up. They may as well meet in the guts of the castle.

As they ran, Lily had her saber in hand, decapitating any ghoul who was within range.

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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image
It appeared that the mercenaries also struck the Paragon's encampment as well, and if they had gotten their way the army would have been short of some very talented soldiers. Though Yan'vega's demeanor implied otherwise, she was extremely proficient in a fight and did command some sort of strange respect from those following her. Neira presented herself well, and losing her as one of the few Nightmarian psykers would have been awful- not to mention it might turn Xeron against them. Kisikoni was no fool, the scarred Nightmarian was really only here because her little dragonfly was on the side of the Paragon. It seemed that Turha and Lily had run into trouble down at the city too, though the details were not given to him on what exactly happened. It wasn't long after they began moving again. He hadn't been able to meet up with Talae, sadly, but he hoped that she had been able to think things over.

Salim was more helpful than the average mercenary, after a mind squeeze they were able to discern from him a location. It was to his surprise that he had been selected as one of the leaders of the 30-man ambush party. While it was flattering, it also made him unnecessarily nervous. He did not complain however, though the location they arrived at was less-than-welcoming at best. Even as he laid in wait close to Sid, he could not help but pick up on some disturbing noises. Brushing it off as noises the being inside was making, he continued to remain in a crouched position with one hand hovering over the hilt of his butterfly swords. Suddenly, the old wood gave way as arms punched and clawed through, obtaining a grip on his legs. Kisikoni could not help but start yelling in surprise before the entire floor around him gave way and he disappeared into the darkness below.


The sounds of crashing, gnashing, and moaning could be heard, even as Kisikoni turned over in his half-conscious state. Suddenly, a kick to his side sent pain lancing up to his head, followed by a harsh shout over the din. His eyes fluttered, and he instinctively got to his feet. Never had he felt more grateful to his race, as his enhanced night-vision allowed him to see just what was going on. Undead revenants, based on stories tossed around by comrades. Adrenaline instantly began pumping, this was a most dire situation indeed- whatever the zombies have used to ascend and punch their way through the wood to grab him had long since collapsed, and they had fallen a couple of stories. This was not good in the slightest. He looked up at his savior, only to find Sid with a grievous wound on her shoulder. He nodded slightly to show that he was awake and drew both swords from their sheathes. From what he had heard about these undead monsters, the only way to eliminate them were fatal blows to the head. That was going to be troublesome, especially when Sid was also injured. His ability to induce fear would be useless against these emotionless ghouls.

Even as the thoughts raced through his head, more zombies began pouring through the entryways. I need help.

"Scared? Don't worry you spineless rabbit, I'll take over." came the taunting reply.

You better not leave the halfling for dead.

"I make no promises." it retorted, though it would be good to save the meatshield for later if the body was going to wear out. "Now hurry up."

Image


Stumbling forward slightly, Kisikoni cupped his face into his arms and began to tremble. The ghouls drew dangerously close, much to Sid's ire and incredulity. Without another moment to spare, he regained his footing and began to exude an aura of palpable foreboding horror. All along the right side of the Deep Human's face was littered with black holes, and unnatural bone growths protruded from gaps in his armor and head. It never got any easier adjusting to the body, but it would have to make do. With inhuman speed, Kisikoni brought his shortswords around at impossibly fast velocities. Brain matter, skull pieces, and decayed cartilage whipped across the empty space. Even as dead flesh flew, Kisikoni did not notice the wide grin spreading across the left side of his face while the right side writhed and crawled with black pits.

The blades were nothing but streaks of red and gray, accurately hitting the head almost every strike. As the horde in the basement began to grow slightly less crowded, Kisikoni bounded back to the pile of refuse, grabbed the Halfling roughly by the collar and threw her on his back. Without so much as a word, Kisikoni began to mindlessly plow back through the horde. It took him a good couple of minutes to hack his way to the stairs, which he began ascending five at a time. Kisikoni's head jerked slightly noting the sounds of battle nearby- perhaps a floor above or in a room around. It would be best to leave Sid with them, as it was getting tiresome babysitting her while the ghouls literally were coming out of the walls. Even as he sliced clean through two ghoul skulls in one deft maneuver, Kisikoni noticed that the muscles were screaming- his heart was pumping dangerously fast in order to power the demonically quick movements the deep human made, and the backlash was making it's slow trudge to catch up with him. However, they were not out of the castle yet.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Well, this was a bloody failure. So much for a successful ambush- they couldn't even get their foot in the door with this sticky mercenary business. The Nightmarian could remember that she was often subject to clients such as these- ones who would try to kill the mercenary off instead of paying them. She always came out on top, and some of those clients often became a tasty dinner afterward. That was why she was one of the best. Even as the spiked iron ball smashed into yet another skull, she could not help but cringe slightly. Eating flesh was fine and all, but necromatic zombies was out of the question. The spells that forced the bodies to move often caused her stomach to rebel against her. Thanaros moved beside her among the group of surviving Paragon soldiers, an armored behemoth that returned knots of the dead back to the ground with impressive swings. She took note of the Orc's question, and considered it briefly. While bringing the flail around to send a ghoul sprawling.

"I can't say I saw Ayalen, but I know Grimsmirk had gone after him," She began, giving a bitter laugh. Funny that the second-in-command was the one that made the blasted decision to go off after him despite the fact that if Ayalen was missing, she was the only other person with the means to call the rest of the Paragon. "Our hostage escaped, I would think that Shanir went off after him." She finished. It was only her assumption since she didn't see the solemn dark elf flitting about the ghouls. They quickly made their way toward the castle itself, slightly put off that they were forced to retreat so far before they could regroup. If Grimsmirk and Ayalen were dead, it was nigh-impossible to search the castle for them under these circumstances. They would be all dead before the sun came up. Her voluminous red eyes blinked erratically, directing some of the men to create a more effective pathway for Thanaros and herself to break into the main hall of the castle before they could fold back in and seal the main doors shut behind them. Being heavily armored, she and Thanaros had a better chance of weathering what was inside better than the lightly armored strike force that she had been given command of. Useless.

"Let me ask you something, Hellstriker" She nipped back, "Where in the blazes are the Sunwings? We could really use some archery support." She reared, using her powerful legs to push the door open and begin lashing out at the ghouls. Her webbing would not be very useful here- gluing a sentient being to the ground at one thing, but the zombies have lost all limiters their brains had installed. A zombie was so strong it would tear away the webbing with effort, and would keep attacking even if it had to rip flesh away from it's body to escape. Except if she got the head.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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Pylarea wasn't as talkative as Safir hoped, but even so the Aesr had begun moving on. He had received the ire of the dragon as he tried to make more small talk, and thus humbly shut his trap. The hatchling of the Black Dragon herself was extremely jumpy, and it was as it should- as fierce as she was, Aesr was still untested in war. He could not understand her fervent reason to prove herself- perhaps it was just a dragon thing. He was just there to be the cannon fodder, and by the dead gods was he determined to do it well. The rumors behind the Civil armies had begun to get increasingly nasty, and as they arrived at the center of town, he realized just how much of those rumors were true.

Sacrificing good men, women, and even children to be disgusting ghoul soldiers. That was what was reported by the hatchling that commanded him. How horrible. The fact that his mind was interlinked with the capricious Aesr wasn't as much of a problem as the situation at hand. He was glad he had not joined up with this General Derenthi. Though his mind was unquestionably great after he managed to rout a majority of the Savage, his methods drew great ire from the Knight, who valued the lives of others. This was a case where the end does not justify the means. "Civil my ass." He rumbled, seething with a boiling anger. Safir caught Dresinil's eye, an equal level of disgust emanating from the elvish beserker. Even as Tao moved them in place to begin the assault, Safir knew this wasn't the war yet. He was lucky enough to be facing these emotionless monsters. The lives that had once inhabited the body were long gone, and Safir knew the renevant's attacks would be sloppy and slow, however strong they were. It would be like training, only now he knew his life was on the line if he messed up. Not even armor could protect him from zombies that would rabidly strip away at him until he was nothing but bone.

Carmen suddenly tapped him, motioning for his sword. He almost refused, but the look in her eyes was sincere, and he allowed the sword to leave his hands for a moment as she enchanted them. Taking it back with awe, he fervidly thanked her, handling the blade with renewed confidence. For the lives that were stolen by the Necromancer General, he would avenge them, and fight for the glory of the dragons.

They were noticed, and even as the undead began shambling toward the Aesr, Safir let out his own battlecry and charged. His shield was one of the first things to meet the undead horde, and even as he brought the sword down he grinned in vicious delight as the blade seared it's way through the ghoul's head and torso as easy as a warm knife through butter. His strength truly was an asset- lopping off heads was much harder than the stories made it seem, but with this, the situation was improving. Not to mention his sword felt as light as a reed. He easily wrenched the blade out of the still corpse, moving on to the next while holding the rest of the zombies off with his armor and shield. He lost sight of Dresinil, but at this point Safir knew he didn't explicitly need his friend's support, he just needed his comrades. They would provide enough support for him to kill efficiently enough. He caught sight of the harpies diving amongst the enemies, but did not see Pylarea. Perhaps she had taken the fight to the ground instead. He smote another zombie with his sword, his heart racing in anxious joy that things seemed to be going so well for himself. The training did pay off. He hoped Dresinil was doing just as well. His armor acquired a collection of dings and dents, and some heavy bruises did begin to color Safir's body, but thanks to Carmen's enchantments, they did not bother him as much and repaid his enemies in kind with killing blow. None of his strokes were wasted, thanks to Aesr's warning.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

The newfound strength in Pylarea’s wings greatly added towards her comfort for their long march, and indeed she had never been able to hover for this long of a period before the ritual, much less direct herself and maintain balance. It seemed she had a bit more stability than the harpies as well, their flapping wings looked to cause a bit of movement even when still, but this might have to do with the fact that she was utilizing her psionic abilities in tandem with her more powerful wings. She had been marching, well hovering, next to the Tin…no that wasn’t his name it was Safir, and the nice cleric whom she had heard called Carmen, since they had left under the command of Aesr, but little conversation had been made on her part.

Ever since she partook in the ritual of initiation Pylarea had been long lost in her thoughts, and they were not all focused upon trying to control her new body. It took a great deal more concentration now to not hear what others were thinking around here, their hopes, fears, and desires, or whatever you could call them. The first few days it felt like a tempest was stirring betwixt her ears, and it had been only yesterday that the headache began to subside. It seemed Safir had wanted for her to converse with him more openly, but she would just have to let his hopes down for the moment. Too bad there was more fighting to be done. This time they were told they would be facing the undead legions of The Civil.

The moth continued on in her half-dazed state, terrified about the impending conflict which was awaiting them. They would have to fight the dead, and not just men either, there would be women and children more than likely. How could anyone do such a thing? Just throw away someone’s life like it didn’t mean anything. If she thought like that though, were The Children any better? Isn’t that how they started, by being thrown into some awful trial-combat phase and whoever wasn’t chosen was either incinerated or thrown into more combat? This was just too much to think about right now though. She had to focus on the upcoming battle. Her hands were already shaking enough as is without compounding her doubts.

The Nightmarian still managed to strengthen her resolve, even if there was still some trepidation left in her heart. She had left Ecclavaria for a reason, she had wanted to join the Children and fight against her oppressors. These were her comrades now and there was no turning back, she had to stick with her choice. That was when she caught sight of the villagers being slaughtered by The Civil, and no sooner did they fall lifeless than their corpses clawed their way back into rank-and-file after just moments of death. A chill crept down her spine as the gravity of the situation hit her. There was a chance they could die, and then they would end up just like that. No wills, wants, or needs. She couldn’t let that happen, not to herself or anyone she had come to know in these past few days.

With her newly enhanced weapon at the ready, Pylarea decided it best to keep herself on the ground for this fight. The harpies would naturally take to the sky, but they had much greater mobility than she did. If anyone were to loose an arrow or spell she would probably be incapable of dodging the attack. There was always the chance she could use her powers to deflect whatever comes her way, but it seemed the best choice to do what she was familiar with since this was her first battle since the ritual. She noticed Safir tearing through the undead ranks like they were paper, and he seemed to have fewer restraints about fighting the poor souls than Pylarea at the moment.

Several of the unsavory creatures had noticed, or maybe not who was she to know, her hesitation in this matter, and seemed to decide the best thing for them to do was find something to tear into, and unfortunately she was their intended target. The amethyst foci of her antennae began glowing brilliantly as the chain-whips of her sural began writhing with supposed anticipation. With a flash they leapt out to bite deep into the undead flesh of their targets, eviscerating them in all fashions, their still warm blood flew in a dozen different directions as the whips snapped and popped to and fro, some of it splashed on Pylarea’s face. Her soft, pink tongue flickered out to lick at a droplet in the corner of her mouth and a smile spread across her lips. The heat of the battle had come up the Nightmarian.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Otowar
There was something about darkness that Torga didn't like. The darkness had always concealed an evil. For as long as he could remembered, the veil of night hid many things, a great deal of which had always put Torga on edge. Vigilance was the game that he and his tribe played since the massacre so many years ago, and even since then they had not been able to keep his tribe at a steady number of people for more than a few weeks. The Paragon was the only thing that had kept them alive, though his tribe, three hundred strong and comprised of almost half that in warriors, was now dwindling. Torga had afforded the warriors he had left to The Paragon, in hopes that the encounter would not end in the same was as their meeting with The Civil or The Children.

At the very least, they allowed his some semblance of freedom.

Lately, however, he was beginning to regret his decision. The incident in the city, between damaging the street, and cracking an assassin's skull like an eggshell, had gotten him a reprimand. The command structure now had a tight reign on Torga, and he was to remain near a ranking officer while he was on duty to avoid another "outburst." This had undoubtedly cost him in the long run. He wasn't even considered to go down into the castle that they had arrived at. Unbeknownst to him at the moment, he had probably avoided a fate that was intended for him long ago.

The night was still young, however.

Torga was becoming restless. It seemed that no matter what he did, or where he went, no matter what he did, he couldn't escape. Everybody had an eye on him, and nobody seemed to trust him. Life on the run had made him a callous survivalist. Sometimes the end justified the means, and he was becoming impatient with people who couldn't see that. Having principles was one thing, but he was beginning to doubt The Paragon. They were too nice for this world. They try to force their own brand of order on the chaos, unaware of what would soon come back to bite them in their naive asses. They were young and pompous. They had learned much in their short time on Norr, but they would soon come to learn what Torga had learned many years ago.

The wind began to shift, blowing towards the stone castle. It was beautifully crafted. It was a shame that he had never gotten to meet the Dwarves before they had been slain. They had had a respect for earth and stone that rivaled his own. The more he looked at the castle, however, the more it's demeanor betrayed it's grandness. A darkness resonated in the stone and permeated the air. It wafted against the wind, with an unintelligible yet unmistakable stench. Torga postured himself defensively. Though he was familiar with the darkness of night, this was another brand of darkness that he knew just as well. He began to growl like a cornered dog, bearing his teeth almost instinctively.

Torga knelt and put his hand to the ground, tuning into the vibrations of the earth. This was a ritual passed to him by his father, known by the Shaman of his tribe as The Earthsong. It was a spell of scrying and prescience using the Earth as its medium. With the spell, he could sense the vibrations of his element, and learn of the past and present of the earth on which the spell was cast.

The first thing he heard was screaming. The darkness that hung around the castle screeched loudly. It was as though the stone was in horrid pain, begging for a death that it would never be able to submit to. It was chilling. For the first time in a long time, a primal sense of fear gripped him. Whatever had happened in this castle had scarred the stone in almost every way but physically. As he listened in further, he could sense movement within the castle. He couldn't distinguish one set of feet walking from the other, but he could sense in their steps mixed emotions.

Fear and anger were definitely there, but what he felt most was hunger. A great deal of feet shuffled about inside, each charged with a sense of insatiable hunger and murderous intent. Something in that castle was searching for something to kill and devour. The scream of the castle's stones began to overwhelm his sense, and he gripped his head in agony, taking his hands away from the earth and silencing the Earthsong. He scrambled back to his feet.

"Something unspeakable has gone on in there," Torga said grimly, "and I imagine that it has yet to finish running its course."

Torga gripped Wrath's comparatively small shoulder unnervingly, hoping to get his attention.

"Get your people out of there."

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#, as written by Smith
The Paragon

The Imperian, Temp Camp


Wrath's eyes narrowed as he focused on the brutish hand clutching his shoulder. Something within him, another entity entirely, wanted to break Torga's wrist with a single deft movement. Maybe force the orc to a knee and raise his arm to break the entire limb. It was never a soldier's place to be so familiar with a superior officer, and there would be no brooking such action without making a proper example out of-

Wrath shook his head and banished such super-militant thoughts. With a visible effort, the general calmed himself and gently removed Torga from his person. Lounging on a dead tree nearby, Iridanias peeked at the exchange under half-lidded eyes.

"Be calm, private..." he allowed the sentence to trail off. Wrath realized it was Sid that knew the names of all of the new recruits. When was the last time he'd actually spoken to another soldier? "They will be fine. They are my Legion, and whatever is in that castle is nothing compared to the atrocities we have witnessed.

After a pair of guards escorted Torga from Wrath's presence, Beelzes appeared next to the concerned orc. The warlock peered at Torga over the rim of her spectacles and flashed a wicked smile. "You aren't crazy, you know." Beelzes shrugged and dragged Torga off behind a small cluster of tents. "So let's show our general that you are not some hot-headed greenskin, yeah?"

With a wave of her hand, a pentagram on the ground blossomed to life in a flash of fel green. Torga would find himself alone in the courtyard of the castle moments later. Surrounded by a half-dozen milling zombies.


The Castle


"Damn..." Xeron muttered, shaking his head in amazement. He'd spent years working for the Children of Fire and the White Lady Astara, a dragon that prides herself on inventive forms of torture and utilizing treachery to devastating effect. This, on the other hand, was absolutely vile. The dark elf was kneeling beside what was once a female, probably elf or maybe even orc. She was unrecognizable. Strips of skin flayed from her flesh were meticulously stuck to the walls behind the body, splaying out like some hideous splatter of paint. Muscle and tendon had been painstakingly shifted on the bone to make it appear as if the woman was meditating, although Xeron could tell by the dead slack that nearly every muscle in her body was severed. What truly amazed the dark elf, however, were the veins. Deep reds and blues crisscrossed the body in some sort of intricate lattice-formation that bespoke decades of practice at the artform that was torture. Possibly centuries.

She was still alive. One word kept repeating in her mind, like the incessant whine of a child, but oh so much darker.

Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease...

"Neira, watch the door a moment." Xeron pressed his fingertips to the exposed bone of the corpse-woman's forehead, eliciting a high-pitched keening from the immobile flesh. He closed his eyes. Flashes of red, steel, blind panic. A spark of courage that gave the woman--Kalin--enough resolve to hold the hallway alongside her companion in one final attempt to bar passage to...who? Xeron delved deeper in to the memory. He searched for something that would identify their assailant, something that would identify her cause. A name, a face, any-

"Please, captain." his voice was level and cool as ice. Just like always, she thought. Not even a hint of emotion at what he was about to do. Kalin raised her pike and leveled it at Nhil's chest. The deep human did not so much as flinch. "You do not want to prolong this. I am still rusty with necromancy, since adapting shamanism to the dark arts is...well, difficult. Come now, you will help more in death than you ever have in life-"

Kalin chose that moment to strike. The elf dove in with a quick thrust, center mass, that would have skewered any man, armor or not. She cried out in exultant triumph as the impact of metal on bone and flesh registered in her senses. That same exultation froze to dread when she looked right in to Nhil's eyes, eyes devoid of any life to shed. Nhil sighed and gently stroked Kalin's face, looking for all the world as if he was a parent gazing at a child who'd failed their studies. "You have made a poor decision, my dear."


The excrutiating pain that followed was more than enough to force Xeron out of Kalin's mind. The elf rattled out one final breath before expiring. Xeron clenched his jaw and swiftly stood, grabbing Neira by the arm and pulling her out of the room. Another sound was already emanating from the corpse, a volatile, hungry moan. A flick of his wrist sent a concussive bubble of force to fill the room. The moaning died abruptly with a sickening crunch. Forcing himself to utilize that much power within the dampening zone was exhausting, but if Xeron felt anything, it did not show. "We need to leave...Derenthi and his forces have passed through here, and he knew we were coming."

How, he could not say.


The rope was not even fraying. Salim was sure he would break his teeth before his bindings gave way. Instead, the mercenary took a deep breath and assessed the situation through calmer eyes. The crowd below him had thinned somewhat, most being drawn off by the sounds of a struggle somewhere further off. Only four remained now, but one was a ghoul. Ghouls, unlike zombies, retained a small measure of intelligence and physical memory, allowing them to wield rudimentary weapons with some mean level of skill. This one, clad in half-torn plate, swung a greatsword at Salim every few moments with a lazy pendulum-like motion. In time, Salim began to follow it, blocking out the moaning and clutching hands of the other three undead below. Back. Forth. One. Two. Right....left!

Salim slid down the wall a few inches and stuck out his wrists, praying to any and every power that he could keep at least one hand. By some serendipity, the blade passed cleanly between Salim's arms and left a sliced rope in its wake. It was then that he caught sight of the comely dark elf he'd bashed in the nethers some time ago. Salim gave her a mock salute and smiled crookedly at her, the smile of a man with very little reason to live. "A fool I may be, but a lucky fool I am."

Salim followed the arc of the sword after its next pass and shot down to the ground after it like an arrow. Two quick jabs and the ghoul was slammed against the wall. Salim caught the sword before it began to fall and swung back with an overhead slash. While it did not rend the zombies in twain like he would have hoped, it left the undead scored with wounds and stumbling back several paces. Which was good, considering how little breathing room Salim had. The mercenary fell in to a dance that lasted no more than a few seconds. Over and under, blade arcing in deliberate strikes that did damage as well as forced movement. Where Caine was colossal and strong, Salim was indomitable and graceful. By the end of the steel ballet, all four undead lay on the ground in tatters. Salim slumped, allowing the large weapon to go lax in his hands. He breathed heavily.

"So," he said, dark eyes staring up at Talae with a glint of grim humor, "Are you ready to leave? Or should we 'hang out' a bit longer?"


Ow. Ow. Ow.

"Dwarf's hairy ass, Koni..." Sid grumbled groggily, "Quit bouncin' so...fuggin' much...bleeding." that was not quite accurate. The bite in her shoulder was no longer bleeding, despite the wound delving down to the bone. It did, however, look several days infected already. Reddened flesh and pus were abundant, veins near the site of the wound were blackening with blood poisoning. Sid was already delirious with fever and had dropped her crossbow several corridors back. She was oblivious to the epic fight Kisikoni was raging and felt content to slowly drift off in to oblivion on his back. Each second brought the halfling's breathing down, her heart pumping with a little less vigor each passing moment.


"I know what you mean, Yan'vega." Thanaros roared in fury as he drew his arms across, bringing his weapon around in a powerful slash that drove back the growing throng of undead. Presumably the largest group, Mercy, Thanaros and their troops were attracting the most attention. Undead from all around the castle made their way towards the party. A party that was slowly dwindling in strength. Atala had gone down almost as soon as Thanaros linked up with Mercy. Their last medic, Gullas, disappeared under a small sea of gripping hands and gnawing jaws. When the group finally made it to the main entrance to the interior, only Thanaros, Mercy, and the other nightmarian of the group were left. Thanaros and the nightmarian, Jack, hustled to get the gates down and shut.

The pair were huffing in exhaustion by the time the iron-wrought gate was down. Thanaros stared at the tide of rotting flesh only an arms-length away and quickly roused himself. Jack did the same, the ant-nightmarian rubbing several nicks in his arc-shell where ghouls and zombies had tried to bite him.

"You'd think they'd try a shell-cracker..." Jack was cut off by Thanaros' quizzical look. The nightmarian raised his palms helplessly. "You know, like how you eat shellfish? They should...captain Beelzes told me to say..." Jack grew silent and shook his head. Thanaros creased his brow and confusion before joining Mercy and beginning to head down the hallway. The sounds of fighting began to intensify almost immediately.


The Civil

The Imperian


Take the revenant job, he'd said. It pays well and you don't have to do any fighting, he'd said. For the first time in her life, Quwall was cursing her father's name. The man was pleasant enough, with a nose for cushy jobs, but never in her life did Quwall expect her father's advice to land her in the middle of a battle with the dragon cultists. Wiping out one of their supply villages was one thing, but engaging them in battle was another entirely. 'Use the fruits of your enemies to nourish your army.' A basic tenant of the Civil, one that she'd heard the general Nhil say in person. That was a lesson she took to heart.

When the young Quwall discovered her talent for rising necromancy, she was elated to learn that she could make her most fervent wartime belief quite literal. By slaying local populations, Quwall and her fellow risers could create undead fighting forces to bolster the armies of the Civil. The near-mindless warriors could even to labor, by pulling carts and holding supplies and spoils of war.

Now, as these beasts tore in to her creations, Quwall felt a surge of terror and rage. "Filthy cultists!"

Lightning as black as the Burning Dark arced from the blonde woman's fingertips. Dresinil cried out in pain. Although he had managed to avoid the necrotic shock, the void light from the lightning seared his retinas and left burning afterimages of the world murkily drifting across his vision. Emboldened by her partial success, Quwall launched another round of dark sparks that stabbed into the elf dead on. Dresinil did not cry out this time, but merely sank to his knees. His flesh began to wither and gray at a rapid pace, the life being drained from him with alarming speed. That was what she could do, Quwall thought, elation welling up in her like a broken dam. Had she known that necromancy was such a potent weapon directly as it was indirect, she would have been posted for a more active duty months ago!

Before Quwall could orient on another target, however, a new form stepped on to the scene, somehow seeming to fade in from somewhere beyond sight. The newcomer placed a delicate hand on Dresinil's forehead. Color returned to the elf's flesh and his muscles grew taught with the sudden burst of blood and energy accompanying the holy magic. Dresinil's eyes snapped open, and the elvish warrior sprang back up with both weapons in hand and charged Quwall with a battle cry on his lips. Carmen remained where she was, using her crimson robe to wipe away a bit of Dresinil's blood on her hand. Elves could be so very messy.

Quwall, in her panic, completely forgot every spell in her mind and simply threw up her arms as if that would stop the bite of an axe. She screamed. "Knossus!"


There was someone with the same idea as Jivven. It was not Ouran, for that dark elf was cutting in to the growing undead horde with great sweeping strikes. This particular darkling was gaunt to the extreme, and stared with eyes to wide for his skull. The bony creature licked its lips with a swollen black tongue, cutting itself on needle-sharp teeth. It watched Jivven with interest. Dimly, Dark was aware that it had been something like Jivven once. Cunning. Handsome. Lively. Swift.

No...no, it thought with a grimace. It was wrong. No...

The creature melted in to the shadows of the building and reappeared two paces to Jivven's left. An emaciated revenant with claws as long as daggers and just as sharp, the beast lunged at Jivven with terrifying speed. It was still swift. Dark remembered now.


A sudden shriek pierced the dark skies, followed by a rush of slapping sounds. Shasarra plummeted from the sky in a bloody heap, smashing in to the roof of a small hovel not too far below. Above her, where she had been flying moments previous, a humming pack of animals winger around in a swarm. Birds, bees, hawks, bats, flies--many flies, roved above the battlefield in a semi-coherent mass. The result of creatures feeding off of death-tainted undead, the swarm had been shadowing the Civil troops for some weeks now. As Shasarra's multitude of stings and small gouges would attest to, the creatures were far more deadly in death than in life.

The undead swarm's consciousness flickered in the general direction of Zulii, marking the rustle of feathers as a sign of threat. It dove for her and summarily engulfed the witch doctor in a black mass of stinges, scratches and bites not unlike a swarm of carnivorous jungle fish.

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#, as written by Otowar
A sickening green flash of light was all the Torga saw as Beelzes made herself known.

"BLASTED WITCH-" was as far as he got before he appeared in the courtyard. Torga gritted his teeth before managing a toothy grin. He yelled up to the sky, hoping that Beelzes would hear what he had to say from a distance.

"You'll pay for that, you alabaster bitch!" In reality, he wasn't sure whether he should kiss her for giving him a chance to join the fight, or whack her over the head for possibly sealing his fate. He began to back peddle from the small group of undead. Any of them that hadn't noticed him had definitely been alerted by his shout. It was no matter to Torga, he thought. Putting a skilled warrior against some slovenly undead was hardly a matter of honorable combat.

Without hesitation, one of the ghouls that was farther away from him began it's charge. Torga took a defensive stance and used the first step in a now signature move; Terramancy. A shockwave resounded through the courtyard, alerting the earth and stone of his presence. The ground beneath the ghoul responded with a vicious pillar of stone, catching it off guard and launching it up into the air. Another stomp of his foot, and several human sized spikes erupted from the ground, catching the zombie like a melon on a bed of nails. It gurgled loudly, in what were likely the closest it would ever get to another death cry. With that, the other five attacked at once. Torga reached to his side and grabbed the handle of one of his newest weapons: A pair of granite war mallets. The heads were rounded out in a way that was beyond conventional tooling, a sign that Torga had taken steps to ensure these weapons would meet his needs. He threw one at a charging zombie, and it spun through the air at a speed that was far too fast to reflect the strength of Torga's arm alone. It slammed into it's skull, caving it in and rendering the zombie's head an even more unrecognizable mass of pulpy flesh.

The others didn't seem to care that Torga was making short work of their numbers, and continued their attack, drawing close to striking distance of Torga. Two charged from the front, while the other two chose a flanking position. A sudden claw lashed out, making a small laceration on his face. The orc growled and grabbed the arm, tossing the beast over his shoulder and into one of the two zombies behind him. With a sickening pop, Torga twisted the arm that he still held, and ripped it free of it's socket, meeting the other frontal attacker in the face with the claw of it's mangled brother and sending it reeling to the ground for the moment. Torga turned just in time to meet the bloody, open maw of the final zombie that was still on it's feet. He jammed the recently liberated appendage into it's throat, before another stomp that sent a pillar of earth up into it's chest, firing it across the courtyard like a rag doll. The three zombies on the ground began to regain their footing, though the one he had dismembered was having a difficult time with only one arm and a sloppy sense of dexterity. Torga reached down to grab his other mallet, and made a heavy connection with one of the ghoul's heads. a wet crack gave way to spasm, followed by sudden silence as a spike erupted from the ground, impaling the corpse and driving it up into the air, out of arm's reach.

The final zombie, the armless one, was finally getting back up when the mallet Torga had thrown fell from the sky onto it's arched back, slamming it back down into the dirt once more. Torga picked up his hammer as their flailing form began to lose it's vigor.

With a grunt, Torga replaced his mallets and began to look for a way into the castle. It was definitely a set up, and Torga was familiar with this form of necromantic depravity. There was little doubt in his mind that The Civil had something to do with this. He had learned recently, however, not to judge a book by it's cover, even if the plot to all the books was the same. Torga began to walk cautiously when a bony hand latched onto his leg, followed by a set of gory teeth sinking into his leg.

"ARRGH!" Torga screamed in mixed pain and rage, before slammed his unharmed leg into the zombie's head as many times as he could until it simply stopped moving. Bits of skull and chunks of rotted brain matter stained one of his boots, with blood streamed down his other leg. The orc gritted his teeth, and unlatched a pouch on his belt. Torga applied a salve to his fresh would, which would hopefully hinder the infection that came with ghoul bites. He had lost at least one of his tribesmen to an infection that had taken hold more quickly than any natural infection would. He growled angrily as the salve stung his open wound. With any luck, he could stave off any immediate effects until he could make it back outside the castle. Torga then pressed a hand against his wound, as a soft green light sunk in, closing it with little more than a scar. He could do nothing about the blood loss at the moment, though he seemed hardly affected by the amount that he had lost.

"Blasted things need to stay down when I hit them," Torga grumbled, with a negligible limp in his step.

Torga began to think about what these things could mean for the other members of The Paragon that had come in before him. Surely six shamblers wasn't enough by Civil standards to kill seasoned warriors. There were undoubtedly more of them throughout the castle. No matter where they were, however, the Courtyard he was in made him a sitting duck, be it for more undead or for assassins that may be lying in wait for more Paragon intruders. Torga scratch his head and placed the salve back into its pouch, replacing it with a dried, mangy weed. He chewed on the plant, identified as Sieveweed, an herb that would boost the immune system; another precaution against what seemed like an inevitable sickness. Its bitterness almost made him gag.

Torga put his hands to the ground as he had before he was teleported to the castle, hoping to gain some insight on where exactly any survivors of the Paragon might have been. The screaming he had heard before was deafening now; All he could make out was a building horde in a singular direction. If anybody was still alive, they would likely be there.



A few moments of exploration later, Torga managed to make his way to Mercy, Thanaros and Jack. Torga listened in from around a corner, hearing Jack barely over the moaning of the horde outside the gate that had just been closed.

"You'd think they'd try a shell-cracker..."

Torga raised an eyebrow at the Nightmarian, almost in unison with Thanaros as he turned the corner to meet them.

"You know, like how you eat shellfish? They should...captain Beelzes told me to say..."

"Take it from me," Torga interjected, "That pale bitch doesn't have your best interest in mind."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


Jivven had been causing merry havoc among the ranks of the undead Civil. Cannon fodder as far as he could tell. No real fight, no grit, no instinct. Just husks to be thrown into the heat of battle as an after thought. Great shock troops, terrible soldiers in general. They don't have the spark a living soldier would have. The instinct to fight for survival because, hey, they were already dead. What's the worst that could happen to them now? Die again? Pah. Though, the assassin had to admit, they were a lot more resilient than your average flesh and blood soldier. An extra effort was required to insure that his blade separated the spinal cord from the skull at the base of the neck, or precisely dig into the grey matter at the base of the brain. A facet only a true assassin could appreciate.

A lot of good the title assassin did in their foray though. Numerous times already, he had found himself engaged with a risen soldier. Their movements were sluggish though and Jivven's quick. Dodge that mace like air, flow around the sword like water, heel kick to the side of the knee bringing the damn zombie to his height, and decapitate with the shortsword while jabbing the dagger into another's throat, ripping and tearing. He always managed to get the advantage, no doubt thanks to the swill's increase to his strength and his training as a shadowdancer on the battlefield. Without that boost, he would have been dead by now, but the survivalist in the back of his skull managed to hide this fact from him. As it was, the dark elf was riding the ecstasy that was the battle. He never let his joy overpower his instincts though and managed to whittle it down to a mere grin every now and then.

Another attack. Sword thrust towards his heart. Use dagger to guide the sword away from trunk, press advantage and get inside the attackers reach. Jab dagger inside sword arm, removing immediate threat of retaliation and slide foot between attacker's legs. Hook leg with opponents, and push. When opponent's back meets ground, jam short sword into throat and twist. Threat neutralized. And without a sound, Jivven bounded into a nearby knot of allies and enemies, effectively vanishing. The adrenaline in battle made everything seem so slow. It was a rush, to say the least. The assassin in him reveled in the kill, in the moment, yet the survivalist was always there, pulling him back and making him seem rational. He could not lose control, else he would lose everything.

Jivven found himself near a couple of houses and hovels, escaping from another kill and getting a quick breather before he would dive back into the fray. Yet his plans was delayed as he heard a familiar harpy, and looked to see Shasarra plummet into a nearby house. "H-hey! Are you alright?" He called. He felt his heart jump a little, to see someone like the warrior harpy thrown out of the sky like that by, "What the hell is that?" Jivven asked himself as he looked up. A mass of.. Pests really. Surprisingly, Jivven found himself wishing for the harpy's safety. Strangely enough, he found himself rather fond of the harpy, despite them trying to kill each other only days ago. Perhaps it was good fight she had put up. Perhaps it was the fact that she was able to maim him. It wasn't often he was touched, much less be altered. Though his thoughts of the harpy was quickly dropped as he felt a... Presence.

Instincts had always saved him, and today was no different. Without waiting for whatever it was to make itself known and end the fight before it even began, the assassin's automatic response was to move, to dodge, and to get the hell out of the way. Jivven leaned and spun, followed by a series of quick leaps out of the way, and pulled his blades up in defense with trained hands. And what it was he dodged? To be honest, he hadn't the faintest idea. It was... Gross, disgusting. A warped being with razor sharp talons, and sickenling slender. Almost like a cruel caricature of what a dark elf should be. "What..." Was all that Jivven could sputter. That was when he noticed the four tears into the black cloak on his shoulder, and the inkling of blood from the grazed skin. "Fuck," Jivven added. He wasn't as smooth as he thought. If he survived, he needed to get that checked out. It'd be a shame for him to die of infection. And infected it would be, judging nasty appearance of the creature.

Jivven stood his ground, but kept loose. He would not strike blatantly. He wouldn't lose control to this.. Mockery.




Liliana Bloodleaf


"Hey I got an idea! Let's find Kisikoni and Sid in the motherfucking heart of zombie-fucking-castle!"

"If you keep complaining, I swear, I'll let them eat you."

"Too late! They've already got a head start! Fucking. Zombies!"

Adel's last sentence was punctuated by wet squelch of a blade cutting into flesh, the neck to be specific. Lily followed up with one of her own, digging deep into the spinal column of her own ghoul. Both archers had a film of sweat, grease, and blood. Small lacerations and flesh wounds crisscrossed both bodies, yet none were near deep enough to slow either warrior down, thanks to their quick reflexes (a perk of being an archer by trade). If they kept accumulating though... Things were not looking bright for the Sunwings. Down the hallways, a trail of gore and bodies (some still moving slightly, they didn't have the time to be thorough) traced a path where they had came from. A bread trail. A very bloody, and gory one, but one none the less. If they weren't beset on all sides, Lily would see this as humorous. As it stood, she couldn't find it funny. No time to laugh.

At least if they managed to find Koni and Sid, they'd be able to find their way back. Beezles was sure to enjoy this anecdote, if they survived. Finally, an opening in the onslaught of ghouls. "Let's go! Let's find Koni, and let's get the hell out!" She said. With no smarmy comeback, Adel nodded and dashed after Lily. Corridors and halls passed in a flash until she took a sharp turn into another and came face to face with what she was searching. The same object caused both Lily and Adel to freeze in fear however. Lily had just enough willpower to avert her gaze from Koni's frightening visage, yet she could still feel it's presence. She hated that feeling, though she couldn't deny it's usefulness in battle. Adel, was not faring as good, her mouth shut, eyes wide, and her heart racing in fear.

"Found you," Lily said, finally able to push the words out of her mouth. "How's Sid-" She asked, trying her best to look at Koni. Her eyes didn't drift to him however, but to Sid on his back. She looked in rough shape, and the sight brought her out of her fear. It still nagged her in the base of her skull, but the well being of their lieutenant came first. They needed to save Sid. She would not see her die now. Not after all they had been through. Lily backhanded Adel in the chest roughly to snap her out of her fear and barked, "Give me your arrows and get collect Sid. Me and Koni will clear your path." She ordered. Adel looked her hesitantly for a moment. Lily's eyes widened, nostrils flared, and she pointed, "Now. We need to help." She ordered. Adel gave a subdued nod and went to do as Lily asked, handing her what was left of her arrows.

Lily approached Koni from the side (careful not to look into his eyes), nodding her head. She replaced her bloody saber and nocked an arrow, "Shall we?" She asked, pulling her bowstring taut. She wasn't about to mention the irony that it was Sid who was hurt this time and not him. It wasn't the time for that.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Paragon
The Imperian, A Castle

She gazed at the tortured half-corpse without much visible expression, but that fact that she had fallen silent mid-sentence conveyed just as much as Xeron’s breathily-exhaled oath, and Neira closed her jaws with a faint click, nodding curtly and about-facing to stand in the doorframe, a tall if not massive shadow in the ebony leathers and cloth of the Paragon.

The conversation happening between the two minds behind her registered as a faint murmur in the back of her own mind, but because she was not consciously making psionic contact, the images and residual glimpses of memory made next to no sense to her. The mantra, though, she understood that, and subconsciously, she ground her teeth together, wishing right along with the poor soul he would just hurry up and end that miserable existence already. She could not call it a life, not really, for it was more mercy to die than experience it.

Her companion’s comment was curt, and even as she followed him back down the twisting hallways and staircases, her eyes narrowed to slits. “How, exactly, do you propose we do that?” There were scores of undead in this place, and she was not so stupid as to believe the Paragon’s force of a mere thirty had managed to chew through them yet.

Quite the opposite, likely: unless they were very lucky or very smart, it would soon be they who were spat out like so much rotten meat.



Talae, dead gods help her, actually growled at the man, a small frustrated noise at the back of her throat. He’d nearly cost himself his life, which would mean costing her her commission, and possibly her own life as well. It figured that she was both stuck guarding the hopelessly-lucky idiot and also that he was important.

Her jaw clenched as she jumped down from her spot on the wall and landed soundlessly beside him. “If you’re done making stupid jokes, we’re going back inside.” Her tone was flat, without much in the way of inflection, but it was a bluff and both of them likely knew it. She wasn’t precisely tall, but he was a good head higher than she was, which meant the fact that intimidating stares required eye contact rather counterproductive. In close quarters, he had her cold, as he’d demonstrated once already, but she was not one of the Paragon’s finest fencers for nothing, and the extra room here might make such a contest a bit more even.

Now, however, was neither the time nor the place to be having it, which meant she had to attempt something she hated almost as much as being beaten: negotiations.

“Look, I don’t know why the general insists that you live, and I’m going to be honest and say that I personally wouldn’t care if you dropped dead right now. But- you’ve seen what your employers like to do to the people they hire. Seems the logical thing to do might be to find new employment, and we just so happen to be hiring. Now, shall we move before more ghouls find us or do I have to knock you unconscious first?”



The Children of Fire
The Imperian, Town Center


Dark saw the blood it had drawn from the little-fast-thing, and something that might once have been a smile spread across its face. Unfortunately, this only made it look all the more twisted and terrifying, its teeth, slightly pointed in the canines like all its underground ancestors, caked in some reddish-brown muck that flaked slightly, dry due to the lack of saliva and other such living-creature functions.

As the little-fast-thing drew back, Dark grinned more widely, grey-fleshed lips drawing back so far they split and tore. Dark didn’t mind, for Dark felt no pain any longer. No pain, no fear… all of it was gone beneath the fuzzy haze of pleasant fight-lust-hunger. It cracked its knuckles, the bones shifting unnaturally, and Dark blurred, moving quickly enough that most would not track the movement easily. His patterns were erratic, but quick-fast-thing seemed to anticipate, and Dark knew that they were much the same, and both knew not to show their backs to each other.

A wet, gurgling hiss bubbled up from its throat, and Dark continued to circle, much more closely this time. The Swarm was keeping away air-flying-pain-bringers, and the Brethren occupied the painful-light-weapons and the shining-quiet-woman. Right now, the contest between Dark and the little-fast-thing was a draw, and Dark searched its surprisingly-cunning mind for a solution.

The answer had just presented itself when Dark staggered forward, confused. Looking down, it noticed that a hand-axe had embedded itself in one leg, severing the tendons and crippling even Dark. With a bestial howl, Dark rounded on this new threat, a grounded-flying-thing with numerous small-bleeding-wounds, and forgot the cardinal rule of combat.

Never show the enemy your back.



White lights exploded behind Shasarra’s vision as she impacted the roof, tumbling sideways and eventually falling from that, too, hitting the ground with a sickening crunch. Carmen’s spell numbed the pain, but she knew without looking that her wing was bent at an awkward angle, and it still hurt so badly that she lost her breath for a good five seconds, unable to gather the strength to force air into her lungs.

She was riddled with small abrasions, many of them oozing blood, but that was scarcely of concern to her. Her left wing was broken, probably shattered, and she was confined to the ground, where she was both slower and weaker, graceless as any creature who did not know the sky. It at once shamed her and inflamed her proud rage, and as soon as she could move again, she pushed aside all thoughts of agony and lifted herself from the ground, talons scrabbling for purchase on the cobblestones of the square.

The first undead who sought to take advantage of her condition received a crushed skull for his trouble, courtesy of her enhanced strength and roundshield. He crumpled to the ground, the spike on the shield having gone right through his eye.

What she saw next evoked an automatic reaction: Jivven was being circled by another undead soldier, and the muscles in that one’s legs were tensed and coiled to spring. Without thought, Shasarra hurled her axe, spinning it end over end until it embedded itself firmly in the back of the creature’s knee, staggering it for a moment. Unceasing, she picked up a nearby fallen pike and readied it as the thing turned, but she knew well enough that this particular foe was good as dead already, and smirked over its shoulder at the dark elf she’d been trying to kill less than a week ago.



Their holy weapons making quick work of the undead before them, it wasn’t long before Safir and Pylarea would find that they were able to cut a swath into the center of the fray, at about the same time as Carmen reversed the putrefaction process placed upon Oraun. The stammering necromancer Quwall was saved from the retribution of the enraged elf by the timely intervention of her partner, Knossus. The unusually-massive deep human man lowered the spell when Oraun’s steel rebounded off of it, sending the elf sprawling.

“Get a hold of yourself!” he barked at Quwall, and she straightened up immediately, shamed by her superior officer. He glanced over at the red-robed woman, little more than a wisp compared to his own bulk, but then magic was the great equalizer in that sense. The human girl could well have more power in her little finger than most possessed in every fibre of sinew and musculature.

That in mind, he called up the last resort, choosing to play all of his cards at once. A fell light set his eyes aglow with crimson malevolence, and he chanted low, in a tone ominous as much for the corrupted words it spoke as for the intended mood.

At first, the earth simply shook, trembling from within, its echoing murmurs cascading outward. The tremors drew the attention of Vortigern and Tao, and both approached, the latter tilting his head sideways, though looking only at Carmen. The cleric, Knossus noticed, was still smiling serenely, and nodded gently, which the red-haired man with the robes trimmed in charcoal seemed to accept with equanimity.

Well, things would soon be different. Slowly, sundering the cobblestones and wrenching a great hole in the ground, a skeletal body rose from the ground, the empty sockets where its eyes should be emitting that same unholy red light. The beast, once a dragon of size equal to a greater hatchling, opened its fleshless maw, its roar silent and almost parodic. With bones harder than steel and an animation not of its own making, it would not fall easily.

“Privates Pylarea and Weylin,” Tao began, and the tall, savage-looking elf nodded in reply, “the female necromancer. The other is mine. Carmen, Privates Garethson and Oraun, this beast.” It was not his desire to leave three soldiers to take care of such a creature by themselves, but he was probably the only one with sufficient training to kill a necromancer on his own, and he had not missed the glow of Carmen’s magic emanating from the weapons belonging to Safir and the nightmarian moth. The cleric, he trusted unconditionally, and that was not something he could say for most people.

They would have to be enough for now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image There was no time left to waste. It was aware of the dying halfling over his arms, and before long the wench would be completely consumed by the necrotic magics. It would earn him an earful from an unreasonable deep human over something he could not control. Even as it planned a method of escape, his blades continued to sing, lopping off heads and crushing skulls without so much as a pause for breath. It considered the state of the body it inhabited, which was already pushed to a dangerous limit. Well, a maimed host would be better than a dead host, even better if he is injured to the point where he is to be detained somewhere safe. Somewhere inside his mind, Kisikoni recoiled at the thought violently.

Rounding a corner, he quickly knocked a ghoul to the side, impaling it before turning to face Lily and her Sunwing, whom had just came around themselves. A pause occurred, while both adjusted and assessed the situation once more. The elf did a good job in adapting to the air of fear that it exuded, and even as they relieved it of the halfling. The elf made a quick comment, drawing a bow. It was impressed with her bravery, giving off a rough, rumbling sound that exited out of the holes on his face. A knuckle tapped against the lumps on his belt.

What are these, mortal?

"Magical Flares. We need to get those outside and call for help.

Without another second wasted, the deep human dove back into the oncoming horde. The growths on his face and armor became more and more pronounced, as he hacked and slashed with little restraint. What a weak body. The war was progressing too fast to allow enrootment the time it needed to completely attach to the host. And thus, he was stuck with this. The blades were visibly battered now, dark blood staining and drying on the deep human's hands and crossguards. Climbing up the stairs, he occasionally threw a backwards glance to make sure the elves were in a good position. Grabbing one of the small flare, it pulled the string that would ignite the fuse and threw it down a corridor. It exploded, but didn't provide the reaction that was satisfactory to the deep human. Hissing, he watched a couple of ghouls examine it briefly before returning their attention to the possessed deep human.

It wasn't long before they had progressed to the main level. Unfamiliar with the layout, it took a while for the deep human to navigate, minding the dire levels of stress the body was taking. Screeching in frustration, it took the second of the three flares Kisikoni brought with him and ignited it, throwing it through a window. Perhaps it would give the mortal's incompetent army time to realize something was wrong. The man's body was waning from it's angry pace. He must have killed more than a hundred of the damn things, but they showed no signs of letting up. Calculating furiously, it finally made it back into the main reception hall. This was the best place for the survivors to meet up, but even as it took the last few steps, it knew it could not hold this form any longer. Withdrawing voluntarily, Kisikoni stumbled from his dead sprint, and while the growth disappeared from the deep human, the full experience of the body's stress came crashing down on him. His vision flickered, and he dropped his swords. His battered muscles twitched, his arms reflexively clutching at his chest before they gave up and allowed him to hit the ground. Though his body remained whole, his muscles threatened to rip themselves apart as complete pain and utter exhaustion plagued Kisikoni's unconscious form.

Weak.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Mercy sighed, watching the two men catch up. Was this all that remained? Hellstriker was a given- he was one of the original members of Wrath's squad and Blackguard. However, with only Jack at their side, they were doomed if they were to continue for the rest of the night taking this many losses. It was at this point, Jack attempted to lighten the grim joke as they caught their breath, looking around. Her voluminous red eyes regarded the ant for a second, before breaking out into a foolish grin. "That's the spirit." She cooed tiredly, patting the nightmarian on the head. A new noise registered in the spider's ears, as she looked up and saw an orc. She recognized him, scrutinizing the man as he came up behind Jack.

"Well. I take it by what you said that Beelzes sent you here?" She asked rhetorically. She already knew the answer- the deranged deep human hadn't quite been the same after Talae's sister Faera had vanished. "Either way, you're stuck with us, honey. What you see now, is all that's left so far. Might be others, but until we can find them they're just as good as dead." She said, wiping her forehead.

"Here's the situation, private. Our two men that had signal flares went and disappeared during this chaos, and we've got to find them, or we'll die trying to hold out until Wrath decides he should check the place out." With that, she heard a dull explosion somewhere below. Was that a flare? Well, blast if that was the case somebody must be alive down there. The ghouls may have tripped it, but the odds of that were so unlikely it must have been a conscious operator. However, before she could decide whether or not to pursue that noise, she heard another explosion. A second flare, this time somewhere around them instead of under.

"Looks like we have some fighters!" She said, giggling. Elbowing Thanaros, she motioned to Torga and Jack to follow her as she used her Nightmarian vision to pick her way through the darkness. Without the moonlight outside fully lighting the way, it would prove difficult for those without night vision to navigate the ruined area. Eventually, the group could hear the sounds of bowstrings twinging. Turning the corner into the reception hall, they saw a prone body that looked so bad she almost mistook it for a ghoul. Examining it, she muttered, "Looks like Ayalen, but I don't see Grimsmirk anywhere. Bowfighting is going on, but I can't see the Sunwings." With that, she moved in to clear away the ghouls surrounding the unmoving deep human.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


The fight was going extremely well. With the cleric's magic backing his sword and his armor protecting him from the ravenous claws, Safir didn't even realize he had burned his way through group after group of the undead ahead of his allies until he found himself fighting deep near the heart of all the activity. Tao and Vortigern were fighting alongside them, and Safir had the rare opportunity to behold both his commanding officers engaged in the heat of battle. A style far more graceful and precise than his powerful rough n'tough style of fighting. Safir could only hope he could be so ruthlessly efficient without the help of Carmen, who he was genuinely grateful for. With his sturdy armor and powerful enchanted shield and a powerful enhanced sword, he allowed the bloodrage to consume him. This was the ideal conditions. If he could, he would fight every battle like this. Even as he roared, smashing a rotting skull in with nothing but the hilt of his sword. Even as he blocked a swipe that wouldn't have hurt him much, and gutted the offending renevant and stepped on it's head.

However, things would change. They weren't the Civil, one of the major factions if they were this easy to take on. The ground shook as some unholy magic tore apart the stones under their feet. A skeletal beast rose from the earth, burning red eyes giving it a perverted semblance of life. However, it's impressive size and undeniable strength to displace so much earth left an impression on the knight, whose bloodlust cleared enough for him to hear Vortigern's commands.

As much as he hated to put the healer in the fight, he knew it was directly necessary. There was something about a the Children that had a sense of family and protectiveness. It was naught but a day after they had been fighting each other to the death that they were protecting each other from it. Gripping his sword tighter, he yelled in affirmation as he sized up his opponent. The Dragon was not smart or sentient by any means, but made up for that with a lack of obvious way to kill it and power. The area had cleared up well, though. In it's flashy entrance, the dragon had knocked the surrounding ghouls away, and now it was Safir, Carmen, and Oraun.

"Any ideas, human?"

"Let me test it out. I have the most armor."

And with that, Safir directly engaged the beast. Lunging at it, Safir ducked a powerful horizontal swipe, attempting to cut at the bone with his holy sword as it passed over him. It seemed to have done some sort of damage- though the bone could not be cut the magic did seem to leave a scorch on the bone that seemed to stimulate the skeletal wyrm. Once again, he had Carmen to thank. "Tough deadwalker." He grunted, dodging another swipe. Evading the beast's attacks was definitely the best method in taking it out. Though he was clad in armor, many mistook it as a fact that his speed would go down. While that was true in a sense, he still retained his flexibility, as armor without any leads to broken bones and sitting targets. He was also stronger now, the armor felt more like cow leather clothing. However, as more cuts appeared on the Dragon's claws, it began to smarten up slightly. Instead of strokes, it opted for a more dangerous smash. Safir barely dodged the skull-crushing bones that caused the ground to rumble, stumbling backward. Stones bounced off his visor. He wasn't getting anywhere wildly swinging at the wyrm's arms, he had to go for something else. Perhaps, the eyes. A small target, but it was the only place worth noting that the dragon might take some considerable damage.

"You have a plan."

"I do. Distract it while I try to get it's eyes."

The elf snarled, rushing the beast, and attempted to rain heavy blows onto it with his axe. Ducking low, he raced toward the dragon once more, his blade streaking for the monster's right eye.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Pylarea

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

It seemed so peculiar to be able to be lost in the nothingness that was battle. There was so much to it, yet at the same time so little. Pylarea had been brought up to be the picture of primness and propriety, always staying calm, cool, and collected so she could do what was asked of her. Now though, things were different, she didn’t have to be the picture-perfect, dutiful child right now. She could let go of her restraints and lets the waves of battle sweep over her, enveloping her body and mind in the heat and emotion of everything around her. She could sense her comrades feeling, and this amplified her own experience one-hundred fold. This was dangerous though, she knew there was something to be done, that she needed to remember, but what that could be was a mystery.

Before long she had flown through the thick of the undead ranks, aided for the most part by her weapon imbued with the holy magic of Carmen. The rotting flesh parted as steel bit into limbs and body as water would an experienced swimmer. Not that Pylarea had much experience with swimming in her life, it was not allowed by the Head of her Brood, just another activity she would need to make sure and experience now that she was free to do as she wished. All thanks to the Children of Fire. Had it not been for the dragons she would never have experienced the things she had, or what would be in store for her down the line.

A distant voice sounded off in the distance, the sound seemed distorted by an incalculable distance, but the emotion behind it was clearer than day. The words grasped her mind and yanked her back from the void in which she reveled, the tone they conveyed meant this was no time drift idly by as the tides of battle. There was serious work to be done, and she needed to focus every inch of her being on it lest she be defeated by a powerful enemy. “Privates Pylarea and Weylin,” Tao began, and the tall, savage-looking elf nodded in reply, “the female necromancer…” That was all she needed to hear before dashing closer to her comrade in arms. It was one of the men who had saved her when they first battled the Gnolls not all that long ago.

“So, do you be any better with that fancy mind magic lassie? We’re gonna need it to take down that there woman. Any ideas?”

“We will not be able to attack her head on. If only we could distract her somehow so one of us could get close…”

“Good luck wit’ that ‘un girly. The way she be flinging that magic about we’ll be lucky to hit twenty paces! We might as well try throwin’ dirt at ‘er for all the good it’d do us.”

“Wait…that might just work. Give me a minute.”


With her last, somewhat quizzical, statement the Nightmarian’s amethyst foci began glowing brilliantly, the power focusing into her wings to give her flight. Weylin stood bemused at her actions, what on earth could the moth girl be thinking? Didn’t she know he was just horsing around with that idea? What she had planned soon started coming together though as she began levitating into the air, now a good ten to fifteen feet above the ground and a dark violet mist began heading straight for the necromancer. It would take most, if not all of her concentration to pull of this stunt, and if someone were to target her she might not have time to maneuver.

As the cloud began to envelope the area surrounding the necromancer, limiting a clear line of sight to only a few feet, Pylarea linked with Weylin’s thoughts, but doing so forced her to disconnect with every other member of their group. She began sending out a ping to their target’s area. It was a trick she had been taught when she was but a child, something all Moths and similar Nightmarians knew utilize when in areas with a limited field of vision. The sound would bounce off of all the objects in the area, forming a rough mental map of what was in front of them. Usually it was only meant for one person to use, she didn’t know if Weylin would even really understand what was going on.

Do you understand what I am showing you? I cannot hold this for very long. Please hurry!

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Safir Garethson

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Basta
Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers

Just as she was getting into the comfortable swing of battle again, Zulii felt a disturbance in the air. She searched for the perpetrator, but forgot the cardinal rule of aerial combat...Look up. Quicker than she could react, Zulii was swarmed by a host of winged creatures. Screeching out her defiance, the harpy launched off the roof as hard as her feet could manage and carrying her straight through the heart of the swarm. She didn't get out unscathed, but she certainly had a better time of it than Shasarra. Or, so she thought. Zulii's herculean leap sent her rocketing straight at the undead dragon that had mysteriously appeared. Zulii had all of two seconds to wonder where in the thirteen hells this beast had come from, and then she smashed into the damned thing.

The wind knocked out of her, stunned, and covered in probably venomous insect stings, the witch doctor had seen better days. That didn't stop her from sort of worming her way backwards, in the opposite direction of the gigantic undead monster that probably would love to eat her. First things first, she had to take care of the bites and scratches before they became even more infected. The swarm buzzed about angrily above her, but seemed to have lost track of its target in the chaos. Another saving grace was that her impact seemed to have jarred and distracted the beast, allowing her allies to attack it with relative immunity.

"Pissing hurt stings! Heal now so I can be fighting again," grumbled the harpy to her own body. Something in the magic that reanimated the creatures prevented her from completely flushing out the poison in her system, but she was able to stave it off enough that she could join in the fight. Collecting a mace and hammer lying nearby, Zulii charged in like a berserker, slamming the instruments into the beast's leg. Each blow released a small puff of powder and some bone flakes, but she could tell that at most she was merely irritating the dragon. It seemed no closer to re-death then when she had first met up with it.

Feeling out with her mind, Zulii tentatively touched the human warrior's consciousness, receiving a flood of information about him. HumanSafirGarethsonhurtholymagicfriend came the torrent into her mind. She gritted her teeth and pushed back, sending a message before forcing the flow to stop. She simply asked "Where?", but ladened it with emotions and partial feelings, indicating that she wanted to know where he needed her most.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
The Paragon

The Imperian, Temp Camp


Whistles and calls echoed down the line as soon as the flare became visible. Only moments ago, the light had erupted from a structure within the complex. Iridanias and Wrath observed the flight of the phosphorescent red streak swerve drunkenly through the night sky before fizzling out with a dissatisfying hiss. Within moments, the front line broke out in to a rush of last minute preparations and orders. Before long, seventy outriders as well as a contingent of golems were rushing towards the castle. The remainder of the army was preparing for a larger-scale conflict and a slower march.

Iridanias appeared at the side of the general, placing a firm hand on his arm. Wrath finished fastening his bracers and regarded the dragon out of the corner of his eye. She scowled. "Act like a general, not a captain. You have thousands to command, not a handful of easily maneuverable troops." Wrath jerked his arm from her grasp and narrowed his eyes at Iridanias.

"What are you saying?" it was the dragon's turn to glare.

"Don't be an idiot, Liu-Wen." the bronzed woman took a step back, but maintained a threatening posture. "You have sent ahead mounted units, well-armed and numerous enough to seize a castle of that size, so extracting a small group will not be a problem. Wait. Here. Moving the rest of your forces now would be othing but a waste of energy and resources, and if this is some sort of ploy to back you up against the stone, you'll be walking right in to it." Iridanias' gaze softened and she wrapped Wrath's hands in her own, "Think of your people."

Too many things were rattling around the human's skull at the moment. Sid's safety. The rest of the Blackguard. What was going on in that blasted castle, why Nhil was out here in the first place. This was not the lot he was meant for. Strategy and intrigue were not the forte of the young fighter. He was impulsive and impatient, eager to tear at a tangible enemy instead of chasing after half-formed assumptions and clues. But he was the son of a most pensive leader of men, and that part of him bled through at this critical moment. Wrath relented, allowed his muscles to go lax and nodded to the dragon. She returned the gesture with a smile and began relaying orders to prepare for combat, but cease preparations for movement. The army would await the return of their emissaries.


The Civil

The Imperian, ????


"This it?"

I would imagine so, the elegant voice replied to her query with his usual tone of exasperation.

"Good," she said, ignoring the vexation of her partner. The halfling clanked with the metal and wood of dozens of charms, trinkets and what her mate would refer to as junk strewn about her clothing. She hoisted a rather large slab of rock with relative ease, almost falling back in surprise at the seemingly weightless mineral. The stone, almost the size of her torso, should have weighed at least as much as a human child. "Hmm..."

The male voice sighed. The owner of the voice, a sentient tome floating off to the left of the halfling, penned down several more lines of text and moved slightly closer to her. Rub it, general Duff.

"Oh! Capital idea, maybe an earth djinn will appear and tell us why Nhilly brought us to this gods-forsaken crater when the investigation obviously said that we should be looking for fields of clouded light. I mean, does this look like..." Miralight scraped away a layer of dirt and the rant died in her throat. The 'rock', when cleaned even the slightest bit, revealed a bright white crystal-like mineral beneath the filth. It glowed with a dull radiance that slowly brightened as the halfling cleared away more dirt. All around the impacted earth, other foragers of the Civil were gasping an crying out in shock as they unearthed similar finds. Beams of light from the exposed crystals began to cross the night sky in dim arcs. At the lip of the depression, Nhil oversaw the excavation with a retinue of retainers both living and undead. Miralight waved to the deep human excitedly and pointed at the luminescent artifacts.

Nhil smiled at his little love and began walking towards her, taking a long step in to the crater to join his soldiers in the squalor of grunt work. His retainers squawked in surprise and followed hastily behind, judging their reticence would cost them much more than a few dirty boots. Nhil spoke without addressing any of them in particular, his words cutting the air with the precision of cold steel.

"How many terramancers are battle-ready?" he asked. A small, mousy woman in mottled gray robes wrung her hands nervously and squeaked out a reply.

"Roughly a dozen, my king, but we can force the others-" Nhil cut her off witha wave of his hand.

"Save them." Nhil patted the shoulder of a young man that was extricating himself from a mud hole. The boy immediately forgot what he was doing and stared at his leader in marvel. Most men never got to see their leader up close, but to be praised by him was an honor among honors. Nhil continued on, leaving the boy dumbstruck and glanced at the rat-faced woman. "Rouse forty skeletons and the ogres. We will have the stones ready for transport by afternoon."

His words did not need repeating, and the majority of his living advisers scrambled to obey. The undead plodded silently along, their dull eyes taking in the scenes before them with passive interest. Nhil finally reached Miralight and crouched down beside the halfling, placing a light kiss upon her cheek. Miralight acknowledged him with a lopsided grin and a slight blush, but mostly focused on the snow-shaded crystal. Nhil smiled as well. "Having fun?"

"Of course! I've never seen anything like it, it radiates a completely different magical signature than anything we've ever encountered even before the dragons! I could have sworn it was divinely enchanted, given the nature of our quest, but it shows signs of not only arcane but primal magical fulcrum. It's almost as if it is constantly shifting the nexus of its power in order to keep from being analyzed too intently. Amazing, really, but-"

Nhil put a finger to her lips and pursed his own, staring in to the halfling's eyes. She loved it when he did that. Any other person trying to staunch her flow of words would have earned a transmogrified shirt that tried to strangle them, but Nhil was...special. Miralight knew he already knew what she was thinking, and let it slide. Instead, the halfling embraced Nhil. The scene of warmth posed a juxtaposition, a stark contrast to the trudging militant atmosphere. Thousands of living and undead soldiers milled about in the night, working and getting ready to bed down for the evening. Weapons bristled and magic flared as the multitudes of undead and necromancers worked through the darkness.

At length, Nhil arose, and Miralight followed him back to the black-velvet tent set up near the center of the encampment. Within, the interior was several times much larger than should have been possible. Arcane odds and ends jutted from bookshelves and masses of spellbooks and the like littered the floor. As Miralight began shedding her dirty clothing, Nhil moved to the corner of the room. A cage stood, tall and imposing, made of dark iron that somehow radiated gloom. Nhil was forced to step back as the occupant lashed out with a clawing swipe.

Nhil simply stared on in mute amusement was the midnight-skinned prisoner scrabbled for something, anything to hurt. He wondered silently if he would ever tire of watching her struggle. He decided it was unlikely. The figure within the cage eventually slumped against the bars, her meager energy spent. "That was close, milady. Maybe tomorrow will yield better results. Eh, general Ebon?"

The dark elf hissed some half-formed invective and struggled weakly to sit up. Diloxi Ebon was a wisp of her former glory. The darkling had been beaten and mutilated, ugly scars marring her neck, arms and torso. An ear was missing and one of her eyes shown with the milky white of blindness. Diloxi, who had once prided herself on her beauty, now looked down in an attempt to keep her damaged visage from the light.

"No, no, my general. Come now, you have work to do. Work for the Civil!" Nhil smiled warmly, but Diloxi felt as if every iota of heat had been rapidly drained from the room. The broken dark elf tried to curl up in upon herself. Nhil clicked his tongue and shook his head. "Now...where is the next path to The Gift?"

On the bed, Miralight sighed contentedly and curled up in the covers, awaiting her mate's return.


The Paragon

The Imperian, The Castle


"Here it is." Xeron knelt down and began prodding an innocuous skull on the ground. It was innocuous in the confines of the office because the room was already a charnel house, filled with waste, flesh, and broken bones. The darkling offered no explanation as to what he was doing to Neira. It became apparent almost immediately. The magic-dampening field around the castle began to rapidly degrade, eventually dying out entirely. Magic users would feel the sudden link to their powr like the surge of a broken dam. What came next took considerably more effort.


The energy was intoxicating. The force that animated the dead was anathema to the living, an entropy incarnate that craved life with undying urgency. Although what Kisikoni was channeling could not be considered mortal in the strictest sense, it was definitely alive, and that was what counted. Those undead cut down by the legionnaires, even those decapitated, continued to claw their way towards the morphed deep human. They moved with increasing speed and frantic need, trying to be the first to devour the unholy essence. From the walls, ceilings and floors the undead surged with renewed numbers.

Most of the tide simply surged on past Lily, Mercy, Torga and the rest in their mad rush to envelope Kisikoni. It was only when the energy ebbed in one swift release that the horde paused. Every undead in the castle simply stopped to glare at Kisikoni with their baleful regard, as if silently blaming him for their diminished feast. The nearest ghouls were close enough that they could have licked Koni. In another moment, the tide resumed and fell upon the defenders with sudden hunger.

They summarily fell apart as dust and bones in the following moments. In the room above, Xeron panted, watching the necromantic focus keeping the undead animated crumble in death.

The world grew silent in the absence of the fighting. That was, until the cracking and groaning of yielding masonry began. Jack flailed in surprise and looked to Torga. "Can you keep the roof off of us until we get outside?"

The question was moot. The sound of cries and horses just outside of the gateways was all the others needed to begin their mad rush towards the outside. The cavalry had finally arrived, and nobody wanted to linger any longer than they had to.

Salim, pulling Talae along with all due haste, was the first to reach the riders and mount up. Talae was given her own steed and Salim was forced to ride behind her. The southerner shrugged. "Not all bad, I suppose. So. Impressed with my bladework?"

The castle roared in protest and began to buckle inward as the collapse began in earnest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Feng Tao

Earnings

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The Paragon
The Imperian, A Collapsing Castle


The dampener that had been keeping magic from properly functioning here… it was located in that? Neira had to give credit where it was due; the ingenuity of their foes was something to be considered worthy. A skull in a mausoleum like this was hiding in plain sight. It was perhaps simply too bad that it wasn’t hidden well enough.

Xeron was intently focused, and she did not need to be asked to spare her questions for the moment. Briefly, she even considered assisting, of lending her own mind to the effort in an indirect way, but refrained for two reasons: first, she knew he was capable of accomplishing this on his own, fatigued though it might make him, and second, the action itself would have implied a level of trust she gave to nobody. Communing with one’s mind to the extent that mental energy could be shared was a relinquishing of a great deal of secrets and privacy, and it reminded her far too much of her birthplace.

So instead, she wordlessly moved to the dark elf when his task was done, observing his signs of exhaustion even as her own vitality returned. Still without speaking, she grasped one of his arms and slung it over her shoulder, stilling the pieces of rubble that had begun to fall from the ceiling. Suspended there, as if in some viscous liquid that deprived them of all motion, they made for what seemed a frozen moment in time.

Then, she pulled the both of them through space and out of the castle, and everything where they had been resumed.



Talae followed a half-step behind Salim as the two ducked and wove to reach the tethered horses. From the way the ground was shaking, it wouldn’t be too much longer yet before the entire structure came down around the others, and that worried her. She still had friends in there, people whose lives were of more importance to her than she would ever willingly admit.

It was easier, she thought as she watched her charge swing astride a beast of burden, if you didn’t care at all, but alas no matter how she tried, reaching that perfect equilibrium where nothing mattered was impossible for her. To this day, she blamed her sister’s influence for that.

She hesitated, half-tempted to duck back into the castle and get the others out or die trying. A foolish notion that the pragmatist in her detested, and yet…

The appearance of the nightmarian Captain Neira was a temporary distraction. The woman appeared uninjured and not in the least fatigued, though the same could not be said for Xeron beside her. Talae approached the two, indicating with a gesture that the psionic man could be led to a mount if he wasn’t up to that floating thing he tended to favor at the moment. Neira shrugged, stepping away from him and letting him do as he pleased.

An idea occurred to Talae right then. If she was still in the kind of shape to be teleporting places, then…

The nightmarian rolled her red eyes. “Fine, Shanir. I don’t have to read your mind to know what you want. It’s all over your face. Where are they?”

“Underground. If you-” she was cut off by a small huff, and a chitin-encased hand touched her temple.

“Show me.” Talae thought of the route that would be necessary, closing her eyes and visualizing the path that Kisikoni, Sid, and the others with them had taken to the underground part of the castle, before she’d been forced to leave them behind and chase after the former mercenary.

When Neira stepped away, she was frowning, but nodded anyway. “Make sure the idiot doesn’t do something stupid while I’m gone.” It wasn’t necessary to ask who ‘the idiot’ was, because as far as Talae knew, Neira only regularly associated with Xeron, the General, Mercy, and Thanaros, and only one of those people was in her immediate proximity at the moment.

Once the woman was gone, Talae at last deigned to answer the swordsman’s question. “I acknowledge your skill, but foolishness impresses no one.” Hopping up onto another of the horses, she tried to quell the small feeling of guilt that she was not in that castle, fighting to get her comrades out of it.



Neira zipped through the collapsing passages of the castle structure, less concerned than most people would be at the impending demise of the structure. If something would have hit her, she simply threw it aside with a bit of telekinesis, or else moved around it using her presently psychically-enhanced limbs.

Coming at last to the spot Talae had seen their comrades get drawn underneath the structure (or was it outside? Perhaps there was more to this architecture than there seemed to be), she followed the path down, landing with a solid but muffled thud upon the floor.

The place was nothing less than a disaster. Bodies lay all over the place, though the greatest portion of them were nothing but dust now, thanks to Xeron’s work. Still, no longer was there anything down here. Muttering a few choice obscenities, most of them directed at Shanir’s poor sense of direction, needless concern, or both, Neira took off running down the passage, rounding a corner and coming upon a set of stairs, which eventually led her back to the main level. As she cleared them, a large chunk of stone fell from the buttresses high above, effectively closing off the passage.

Thankfully, she was close enough at this point to pick up some stray thoughts from Lily, captain of the Sunwings, and knew she was probably on the right track. Locking on to that location Neira willed herself to it, appearing just behind the elf-woman’s lieutenant, apparently running back the way they had come with Sid, the second-in-command of the entire damn army, unconscious and slung over her back.

“No good that way,” the nightmarian informed the woman- Adel, was it?- curtly, then gestured ahead of her. The two took off again, running across what appeared to have been the site of quite the confrontation.

“Damn, looks like I missed all the fun.” Kisikoni was also unconscious, and very heavily wounded from the look of him, while several others were still standing and in various states of good and bad repair, including Lily herself and Yan’vega, who Neira would willingly admit she preferred alive to dead.

Swiftly assessing the situation, she tossed the deep human captain over one shoulder and addressed the rest. “I can get him, archer girl, and Sid out of here. No more than that, though. The place is coming down, and your best bet is to take advantage of that. From here, Torga over there can break a hole in the wall, and Thanaros should be able to float you down. From there, well… run like hell, kids, unless you fancy being squished.”

“You, you’re with me,” she told Adel, and wasting no time hearing any protests the girl might have had, grabbed her by the upper arm and dragged the lot of them back to the retreating line with little more than a thought.

Of course, “little more than a thought” didn’t mean it required a small amount of effort, and by the time she was able to pass Koni and Sid off to be treated by a medic, she was crankier than usual and in some serious need of sleep.



The Children of Fire
The Imperian, Town Center



Knossus stared down the strangely blank-looking little man from a distance of about ten feet. Empowered by the strength of his casting, he knew it wouldn’t be all that much of a challenge to snap the fool’s bones with his bare hands… and that sounded like exactly what he wanted to do at the moment.

“So, cave-brother, what say we settle this after the ways of our kin? No magic,” he held up his hands as if to indicate that he would use none, “no weapons,” the crimson radiance of his pupils scanned the equally-red length of the liuyedao in Tao’s right hand, “merely the strength of our limbs and our minds, hm?” Of course, given that the redhead appeared to be a bit simple meant that such a confrontation would hardly be fair, but then anyone who wandered onto a battlefield like this one had to accept that as a matter of course. In fact, every advantage was one for Knossus. He was larger, the residual effects of his enchantment made him just as strong as a Child of Fire, and he had years of experience in matter of war.

Tao merely blinked at him slowly, then flicked the blood off his sword as best he could and sheathed it, pressing his palms together in front of him and bowing at the waist. Knossus mirrored the gesture, then stepped back with his right foot, bouncing a little to keep himself in constant motion. His opponent took the opposite stance, alerting Knossus to the fact that he was left-side dominant, but seemed disinclined to move much at all.

Flowing forward, the larger man lashed out with his right foot, attempting to hook it over and around Tao’s corresponding calf and drag him downward. Rather than simply stepping back and out of the way as he would have expected, however, the shorter of the two stepped into the maneuver, stopping the now-abbreviated motion cold with both of his hands and twisting. The uncomfortable wrench caused by the more-than-human strength of the Children forced Knossus to twist and fall, lest his leg be broken while he simply stood there. Tearing his foot from his opponent’s grip, he rolled to the side and then back onto his feet, which the strange man in red armor seemed perfectly willing to let him do.

This time, when he lunged, sudden and powerful as a summer thunderstorm, he aimed high, thrusting for Tao’s neck. The latter blocked, crossing his arms slightly above his head to block the downward momentum, and stepped forward quickly, jabbing his foot for Knossus’s shin. Eyes widening, the larger man jumped backwards, sacrificing stability so as to remain uninjured. He was punished for it when Tao shifted his weight from one foot to the other, slamming the opposite knee into his abdomen.

The blow itself was not overly injurious because of the angle at which Knossus had been standing, but it effectively shattered his stability, and this time, he fell forward even as Tao stepped back, hitting the ground and feeling the unfortunate crunch of his nose breaking on the stone tiles.



That there woman? Vortigern shook his head to himself. It seemed like every time he was around the ladies, his grammar went out the window. Of course, he always had the brogue, but that was just his upbringing.

But never mind that. There were things to be killed, and he was just the man for the job. It seemed that the comely little purple lass had an idea, and he was perfectly content to follow, as long as the end result still involved bathing himself in the blood of his foes. Almost literally.

She was kicking up some kind of dark purple mist-dust, and while he didn’t really understand how she was accomplishing that, the fact was that it was still happening, and the sensations that entered his mind unbidden after that made about as much sense as anything. He grinned when her mental voice accompanied them, and thought back to her.

I may not be the mos’ cultured man on the continent, lass, but I’m not stupid. I know a good plan when I see one… or when the other guy don’.”

So saying, he sank into that peculiar state of mind that characterized his own berserker tendencies- not overly loud, but certainly what most people would class as overly aggressive. This whole mental communication thing worked surprisingly well- he was able to latch onto the small pings that were being sent his way and follow them with all the determination of a bloodhound. When his shortsword and tomahawk bit deep into Quwall’s flesh, then, her shriek didn’t faze him in the slightest.

The fact that she proceeded to summon hellfire and light the purple cloud with it was marginally more troubling.

The move was irrationally stupid, and luckily he saw it coming, else he’d have been a pile of smoldering ashes. As it was, he was able to duck and avoid the first gout, and even as the acrid stench of burning powder filled his nose, Weylin did not tarry in his task, dispensing with most of the flashy stuff and slitting her throat.

Er… Pylarea, lass, I’m gonna need a way outta this, or chances are good I’ll burn ta death, if ya take my meanin’.



A short distance away, though not close enough to be affected by the flames themselves, Easkr, the semi-sentient summoned skeleton of a dragon, had decided he didn’t like the shiny one. His steel hurt. It had been quite some time since Easkr had known pain; even in his lifetime he was among the mightiest in his clutch, but that had been eons ago now.

From the corner of his eye, he caught another making for his face. With a soundless snarl, Easkr swiped at it, the mighty heave of his claws sending Oraun back to the ground. His tail lashed behind him in frustration, and he tried to do the same to the tin man, concentrating his attacks there. One, two, three… Safir was battered from side-to-side, though his armor was making it difficult for the dragon to tell if he was getting injured or not. At least it had stopped the annoying needlepricks of his weapon.

He was raising a fist to crush the foolish human when he was dully aware of something crashing into his left side. Turning slightly, he got an eyeful of half-crazed harpy. Had he a mouth, Easkr would have grimaced. As it was, he made to kick her away with a hind leg-

PainpainPAIN! All of a sudden, the world didn’t make quite as much sense anymore. The three he’d been dealing with- angry-dark-man and shiny-painful-man and annoying-bird-woman were encased in golden spheres If he looked closely enough, their wounds appeared to be disappearing. More concerning was the fact that his right wing-bones were missing, sawed right off by virtue of an equally-aureate blade, apparently insubstantial except by virtue of magic.

Well, that decided it. The red-robed woman had to die first. Dismissing all of the others, Easkr recklessly charged Carmen, whose eyes went wide as she dove to the side, out of the immediate path of the pale-boned beast. He wasn’t about to give up that easily, though, and she was forced to relinquish the healing shields she had around the others in order to successfully stave off the next attack, causing the taloned claws to rebound off the holy aegis she’d put up. The sword also had to go, but at least she was easily the biggest distraction possible, hopefully giving Safir, Zulii, and the others enough time to get at its weak point, whatever that might be.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

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Jivven Noda'Razzr
Image


Jivven circled in tune with the creature he may have once call kin. He would not be caught off guard by this thing. How would it look if he was surprised by an affront to his ancestors? Sure, the dark elf may have put survival ahead of honor and reason most of the time, but that... Thing was a different story. It'd be like spitting on his mother's feet if he allowed this thing to kill him. Heh, looked like the dark elf did have some sort of honor after all. A twisted kind, but hey, there it was. As it stood, everything else around him faded out, and the sounds of battle became just a dull hum in his head. There were only two, him, and the creature.

The assassin glared at the creature over his hands wielding his dagger and short sword, pulled up close to his chest in an preparation for anything the mockery should do. The thing was fast... Faster than he was. That seemed to be a theme recently, him being able to be outpaced by anything with legs (or talons, in the case of Shasarra). Still though, he clung to the belief he was more agile and graceful than them all. If the thing was to advance, he felt confidence in his abilities to dodge around the thing and counter attack. If he couldn't outrun his enemies, then he sure as hell wasn't going to be there when they struck.

As they circled each other, both approaching ever so slowly, a thought struck Jivven. They were doing much of the same thing. Looking for an opening, a weakness to strike at. The very idea made Jivven want to curse and attack the monstrosity. The fact that they were even slightly similar sickened Jivven. Yet he kept himself in check. Rushing now would give the thing the advantage. However much he hated it, he circled along with the creature, waiting for an opening.

When the thing seemed to make out to attack him, Jivven braced himself and awaited the attack and readied the inevitable counter-attack. Instead of commiting though, he turned and let out a howl. For whatever reason he did it for, it provided Jivven the advantage he needed. He had managed to forget the cardinal rule in a fight. He turned away from his opponent. You can bet Jivven would take this chance. Without waiting for anymore response from the creature, Jivven darted. His stride was long, graceful, and light, and in mere moments was soundlessly at the back of the creature. With little fanfare or warning, the assassin's short sword shot forward in an attempt to skewer the creature through spine, cutting it in half like butter. In the same motion, the dagger whipped up to the creature's neck and waited to sink it's teeth into the vulnerable flesh of the neck. The forward moment of the short sword through the spine would force the creatures neck into the dagger.

However, Jivven refused to believe this would be the end of the affront. With the aclarity he used to appear, Jivven wondered if the same could be used to disappear. Like the survivalist he was, he wouldn't believe the creature was dead until it lay bled out at his feet. Over the creatures shoulder, Jivven caught sight of Shasarra smirking. Later, he would put two and two together and realized why the creature had turned around, and would have to thank the harpy. He wasn't above using these underhanded tactics after all. As it stood, as he plunged the short sword forward, he gave a curt nod at the Harpy.




Liliana Bloodleaf
Image


For once during the entire castle excursion, Adel was quiet. Though, Lily was quite unnerved as well. When Koni charged ahead slaughtering everything that managed to get in his way, some of the pressure his fear had brought on alleviated. In fact, being in such close proximity with Koni in this state had set Lily's hands to shaking. She tried her best to hide it away from Adel, though the girl herself was trying to get over her own fear of Koni. She took it a lot harder than Lily did. An aside glance proved the girl's eyes still wide in fear and her breathing ragged. The motion of Lily's head though brought their eyes together. Lily put on a shaky smile- the first one she managed that night- and said, "At least he's on our side, yeah?" No verbal response, just a sharp dip of the head.

"Follow," Lily managed to eek out before following (well behind) Koni's swath of destruction. Her bowstring was kept taut in case something sought to intercept them, but Koni was so thorough, they didn't meet much resistance. She only had to plant an arrow into the odd skull of a Ghoul Koni didn't completely eviscerate. Thankfully, this didn't require the trained steady hands of the Huntress, as she still was affected by Koni's fear.

Before long, they made it to the group of Mercy, 'Ros, Jack, and Torga- When did he get here? Whenever he did, Lily was happy to get another hand in the fight. "Get behind them. Protect Sid at all costs," She said, slowing down and turning sending an arrow downrange into some poor ghoul's eyesocket. Before she had time to pull another arrow, She was face to face with another ghoul. There was... Hesitation though. It didn't seem focused on her, but at something behind her. Lily took this time to grab an arrow, and instead of nocking it, looked to jam it in the ghoul's skull barehanded. There was no impact however, as the arrow passed through a grimy dust where the ghoul stood. "The hell?" She asked. Instead of relishing the moment of quiet, the roof groaned in defiance. That's when Jack said something about the roof.

"You've got to be kidding me... Dead gods blast it all!" She said, irritated. She looked back. Neira had arrived and at some point had abducted the Sunwing's second, with Sid in tow, and was already grabbing Koni as well. Lily looked at Adel before they departed, "You get a free trip out. Keep Sid and Koni safe, and tell the others I'll be there soon." Before Adel had time to open her big mouth, she was zipped out of the hall. She looked to the others, "Now that we don't have to drag anyone- Let's get the hell out, yeah? Torga. Behind you," She said, giving a soft glance to the orc. That man reminded her of Caine, jumping headfirst into a situation like this. She liked him.

Back at the camp, Sid was lifted off of Adel's back and was taken to the medics along with Kisikoni. She looked at her savior, a miss Captain Neira. She nodded her appreciation and said, "Thanks for that. I owe you one," and began walking in the direction of the medics. Lily did say look after Sid and Koni, and she wasn't about to disregard her captain's wishes. "And if you see either Lyn or Landion, tell them to meet me where the medics are stationed. And to bring an extra quiver," She said taking her leave.

Setting

Characters Present

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Earnings

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#, as written by Otowar
"Can you keep the roof off of us until we get outside?"

The Nightmarian's word echoed in his head. as the ghouls disintegrated to dust. A sudden dizziness gripped Torga, followed by what sounded like rushing water. His vision was becoming blurry. He saw what the undead had done to Sid, but there was no way, Torga thought, that he would be feeling the same effects that had literally crippled her and brought her dangerously close to death. Torga shook his head and looked down at his hands. His breathing became heavy, and his eyes widened, as a vision of the past flashed before his eyes.




Dead. She was in my arms. Blood was everywhere. Women and children screaming in the night. Warriors fighting bravely to defend their home from these cowardly humans. The funeral pyre burned bright still. It drew all of our attention. We never even saw them coming.

"GET UP TORGA! WE NEED YOU! SHE'S GONE! GET UP!" It was Kurtka screaming at me. I was holding his beloved in my arms, but there was nothing I could do for her. Even he saw that. Why couldn't I just drop her?

The next thing I knew, there was a blade through his chest. I was a grown man, and there were tears in my eyes. I never thought such atrocity could be visited upon such peaceful people, but this is what we were warned about. All I could do was scream. Grief overcame me. Anger was building. Fear was staring me in the eyes. But in that moment, I was so decisive. A human dressed in all black, charging me with the blade he had just used to kill Kurtka. A roar of defiant rage passed me lips, when all I wanted to scream for my father to help me.

In some way, I think he did.


I crushed the human between two slabs of rock. What become of his was nothing more than red paste and bits of bone. There was very little I remember coherently. The other Elders held the lines. Rek'ga Flamestrider, Watikwa Raincaller, and Surtwak Windspeaker were destroying the enemy of their own accord, but I trembled like a child.





"Can you keep the roof off of us until we get outside?"

"URAGH!" A cry of fierce defiance erupted from Torga. He hopped to his feet, and began to weave his magics. Tumbling stones were tossed aside, and walls in his path crumbled to dust as he lead his companions out of the compound. Torga held the castle up for as long as he could until the others made it outside. He drew his weapon, expecting to fight his way through.

After all, this was a trap.

The castle they were in was not unlike the pyre from his memory. All eyes were focused on it. The tribe was drawn in, and out of the darkness, the enemy struck. It was Torga's first lesson in warfare and survival.

He scrambled outside, and lost his footing between the debilitating effects of the infection he could only stave off for so long. He hit the ground with a loud thud, but clawed his way towards the mounted units. He gripped an unnamed soldier and looked his square in the eyes.

"Get the halfling to a medic."

He immediately hit the ground again, as his fever began to overwhelm his senses.

"I probably need a medic too."

Setting

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Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image Kisikoni sat atop a gnarled mess of roots, staring with blurred vision at the singular blooming plant in front of him. An ugly thing, it was, and it took up so much space. The sickly green stem drooped, weighed down by its leaves and budding head that was colored a dull, brown shade.

"A lot has changed."

"The intervals between your visits have been long."

"What is happening?"

"You, of all people should understand." It sneered, the voice wafting in from behind. Kisikoni didn't have to turn to address it; rather, he didn't want to turn while conversing with it. Instead, he decided to concentrate on the flower. There were many questions, concerns, and borders Kisikoni had, and it knew that. However, nothing was ever fun by completely spilling the beans. "You have heard the phrase, 'With great power, comes great price?'" There was a wordless affirmation from the still deep human. "My power is but a candle to an inferno at it's current state, but with time, I will be able to push you even further."

"There is a catch, I presume."

"I think you already know the answer to that."





Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Not long after the deep human was found collapsed did the missing Sunwings follow close by. Her lip curled when she took note of the unconscious halfling on Adel's back, giving her a slight sense of urgency. Cannon fodder she did not mind losing, but Grimsmirk was experienced, smart, and brave- qualities that seem scarce in a world where soldiers are augmented by pain-numbing magicks. Not to mention poor Wrath would be beside himself with grief if she came back decidedly dead. Being the calm general he presents himself to be, he would not show it. It was quite adorable.

"I was wondering where you both skipped off to." She said, but even as the Sunwings ignored that comment, a large group of zombies surged forward out of the halls, attempting to converge on the deep human, but even as she brought the spiked ball around, they crumbled and returned to the earth, the necrotic stench dissipating toward the sky. Confusion shot across her voluminous red eyes for only a moment before the reassuring cries of horses and allies met her ears. Grinning at her fellow Nightmarian, she crossed her arms and muttered absentmindedly in relief. However, it wasn't long before Neira showed up. "I didn't expect to see you here!" She said excitedly, wishing to strike up a conversation with her until the castle groaned in protest. That wasn't very impressive for a building meant to last against sieges. "Huh. Maybe next time." remarked Mercy tiredly, throwing her arm up in a mock salute to Hellstriker (who was too heavy to carry), Torga and Jack (who she didn't particularly care about) before darting out of there. There were no further problems when making her way back to the camp except that she was refused a drink immediately upon return.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Fatigue and Pain, two factors that determined Safir's ability to continue the fight were taken out of the equation by the Children and their strange magics. Thanks to that, the knight was able to continue fighting, even when the blade aimed for the eye missed and the dragon retaliated with a swipe that sent him flying across the cobblestone road. Picking himself up almost immediately, he blinked stars out of his eyes as Zulii landed beside him. Her short, quick query asking him for instruction made Safir question his state of mind. Did the independent harpy witchdoctor really just land and ask him for orders?

However, now was no the time to revel in this new discovery, there was a skeletal behemoth to kill, and an aerial unit would prove invaluable. Giving the harpy a square look in the eye, he brusquely instructed her to try and get a blade or something in the eye. At this point, it was really the only thing that they could attack that might prove a profitable venture. There was a small window where Safir wondered what his next plan of attack would be if the eye turned out to not be a weak point. The next thing he would attempt to do would be to try and separate the head from the body by attacking the large vertebrate, but it would be a long and arduous task to saw the magical bonds made between the pieces of the skeletal dragon, a prospect that was not very appealing to the knight.

The next moment, his surroundings was laced with gold. It felt reassuring and warm. It felt like holy magic. Dimly, Safir was aware of the bruises that littered his body healing. He knew his movements would be much smoother because of this, and it seemed as though the dragon now was focusing it's attention on Carmen, their savior once more. Safir simply could not allow this. While she was definitely capable of defending herself, especially against the undead, she was the healer. If she was injured by some chance, their ability to deal with such a monstrosity and the Civil Army afterward diminishes significantly. "She has given us an opportunity!" He roared at Ouraun and his newest ally Zulii, and immediately pressed the advantage. Raising his sword once more, he allowed his healed limbs to carry him across the distance and attempt once more to punch the blade right through the eye.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

The way Weylin had responded to her thoughts almost made Pylarea feel bad for even speaking, well thinking, them out loud to him, she might as well have told him, “Follow this you dummy!” It was a little too late to apologize though, there was a good chance it would only distract him if she started to speak to him. That and she might just lose her concentration and botch this fancy little plan she cooked up out of the middle of nowhere.

Wow… Her plan actually worked. It happened much faster than Pylarea had expected as well, not much sooner did she began relaying the sonic pings to Weylin than she felt them dissipate. It seemed that was not the end of their encounter though, as soon as the Nightmarian released her concentration on the cloud and pings she saw a burst of hellfire leap forth from the defeated necromancer. Luckily her compatriot managed to dodge the first gout with seeming ease, but that was not the end of their trouble.

Er… Pylarea, lass, I’m gonna need a way outta this, or chances are good I’ll burn ta death, if ya take my meanin’.

Uhm…yeah, this was not so good. How many options are there when it comes to saving a comrade from a wave of savage hellfire, really, how many? For a regular magic user there would probably be plenty of options, but she was just a Psionic, she used her mind to manipulate the environment around her. In all actuality Pylarea was not even a professional yet, she had just received a decent boost in her abilities after being initiated into the Children.

Get ready!

Without hesitating another moment the Moth dropped the hold she had on her wings to give her the lift forcing her to fall towards the ground, but it gave the Nightmarian just the extra bit of force she needed to accomplish her next feat. With a quick mental shove Weylin went flying both up and away from the spewing inferno towards the direction opposite Pylarea herself. There should have been just enough force to lift him over the cloud and safely outside of the flames area of destruction. He probably would not land very softly though, but hopefully she had given him enough warning to merit a safe landing.

She, on the other hand, was not in such a good position. It had taken more focus to speak quickly and send him up and over than was necessary for her to make a perfect landing. Although she did not fall flat on her face, which would have been just dreadful, her rear end did receive quite the shock as she plumped down flat on her behind. A grimace spread across Pylarea’s face as the pain shot all the way up her back to the nape of her neck, but thanks to her nifty Arc Shell nothing was broken of seriously damaged, well except maybe for her pride just a little bit.

Their battle was not over yet though. It seemed that Safir was still locked in combat with the reanimated corpse of a dragon, and Captain Tao seemed locked in a, somewhat perplexingly, lackadaisical duel with the other necromancer for The Civil. Who should she help? Captain Tao actually seemed to be holding his own quite well. Her mind was made up rather quickly though. Once the dragon decided to target Carmen her decision was made. There was no way she could let the creature kill her new friend.

The foci in Pylarea’s antennae began to glow brightly once again as the Nightmarian severed her connection with the others, if something was to happen she was not expecting she could not risk them suffering from any backlash. The Moth quickly linked with the dragon’s mind. She could feel the creature’s pain, frustration, and even confusion at what was happening right now, but that was the least of her concerns. She focused with all of her might to send the beast a psionic shriek, probably the equivalent of having a bolt of lightning strike the ground right next to a regular being. Hopefully it would stall the beast for a moment, just a moment was all they would need.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
The Paragon

The Imperian, Temp Camp


"A pilgrimage?" Wrath thundered, slamming his fist on the table. Xeron, never one to show weakness, merely nodded. Wrath clenched his jaw and tried to calm the blood pounding in his ears. When someone comes back to a camp raving about a mythical quest, under normal circumstances, you would put a bolt in his head and dismiss him as insane. When a highly trained, highly disciplined psionicist comes back to camp with the same story to tell, that was another story entirely.

Iridanias reclined against a mound of tarp fabrics some few feet away and listened more intently than her disposition would suggest. Sometimes, the dragon marveled at how blind mortals could be. The dark elf had a vague idea of what was going on, but Wrath was completely off point. Or maybe, she mused, the boy was trying to deny it. It was perfectly reasonable on some level. Time was short, however, and their resources were limited. Iridanias cut their argument short with a sudden hiss.

"The Gift." she said, staring straight in to Xeron's green gaze. The dark elf nodded. What he had kept from Neira, the deeper information he'd been able to plunder from the depths of the living corpse, had revealed a fair deal about Nhil's plans. The dark general was following a map. Using the guidance of some sort of prophet to divine the whereabouts of the Gift. Iridanias and her master, Gurthenemon, had been aware of this for quite some time. For the past few years Nhil had been organizing and deploying splinter sects of his forces to remote areas of Norr, presumably in an attempt to garner information on the location of the Gift. Somehow, the mad general found an individual with the ability to follow the vague trail left by the gods. What Gurthenmon needed, was a clear trail to follow. With so many Civil armies moving with the same deliberate speed in the same direction, it was virtually impossible to tell which was the true path.

This settled it. Assuming Xeron was not lying, they now had confirmation that Nhil was in this group.

Wrath rubbed his face and hissed through his teeth. Truth told, he'd had enough of this. He was supposed to have inherit a fortune in military assets from his father. That never came about. After that, he'd been given command of a legion. That same legion dissolved in a matter of months and was bumped up to a special-operations unit in a grand army out to put down the dragons. Now that, was something. Wrath would have been content to live out his days as a captain with polishes blades. But no. He'd been promoted to general shortly after that. That was when things began to get too hectic for Wrath. He was barely into his twenties and already lead a life with more weight than most of the worlds men. But it got even better, when his lord lead a coup that effectively wiped out the majority of the battle-ready Primah races in a matter of weeks, and left Wrath's disobedient ass to die at the hands of the white and red dragons.

Of course, when it turned out the reds were branching out, defecting from their own faction, of course it fell upon Wrath to lead what was left of the Paragon out of the darkness. Now, after all of that muck, the young general found himself in another tight spot: follow Nhil in to the cursed Imperian, or await reinforcements from Gurthenemon, risking the chance that Nhil may find the Gift first. Then it occurred to him.

"Xeron. The Gift, one of the rules for acquiring the power was to wipe out the remaining bloodlines. All three still exist..." Xeron stared at Wrath unflinchingly, as Iridanias shifted uncomfortably. Wrath grimaced. "What am I missing."

Xeron glanced at Iridanias. The dragoness scowled and looked to Wrath. It seemed as if speaking was now an effort for her. "A short while before the Siege of Herrick, one of our high thanes, Sorin fell ill. Demented. He began rambling, growing wan and thin, forgetting things. One day, when my second went in for a routine assessment, the thane was found dead," Iridanias's voice took on a cool edge, "But still moving. In his senility, Sorin proved oblivious to the onset of undeath. We are unsure of when he'd been tainted, but it was powerful magic. Sorin was moving scrolls and supplies out of Gurthenemon's territory right in to Nhil's pockets for months before that point. Nhil had made the thane a perfect agent. In his final act before being destroyed, Sorin doomed us all. He managed to transcribe the ritual for..."

Wrath's eyes widened. He was no detective, but the pieces fell in to place. "Slaying spells."

Iridanias nodded. "In short, they require massive amounts of energy. The dragon lords are forced to give up their life-force to activate a slaying spell. According to what few moles we have, Nhil is preparing the spells at different points on Norr." even Xeron gasped slightly at the mention of multiple spells, "Before her last contact, one of our spies managed to translate some of the runes on a summoning circle down in the Sublands. Some of the runes were...altered. We believe that Nhil has managed to change to aspects of the spell. He's altered the power source. To what, we do not know, but we know what the resultant has been changed to...instead of killing a race, it will place upon them the curse of undeath. For all intents and purposes, they are technically dead, and therefore meet the requirements of eradication that the Gift specifies."

Her words hung in the air for a long time, none of the three daring to speak. The meeting was dismissed without another word, and Wrath began calling out for an immediate mobilization.


Medical Tent
Morning


"Bitch, if you shovel one more spoonful of that shit in to my mouth I will bite off you-" Sid's words were muffled by a dollop of gruel entering her mouth. The halfling grunted, swallowed the foul substance, and shot Beelzes a venomous glare. The deep human smiled warmly and set down the bowl.

"Such a mouth on you, captain. At least you're better than Jack." from a few beds down, the nightmarian scowled. His leg had been injured in the mad rush out of the castle. Jack did not take well to being bedridden, and bit through the first three spoons Beelzes gave him. Sid on the other hand, was still quite numb in the extremities and could not feed herself or walk, forcing one of the nurses to help. Beelzes readily volunteered though, giving Sid a halfway decent conversation partner. "You should get ready for a rough ride, Captain. The medical tents are being loaded on to wagons as we speak. You're going to be jostled a bit..."

Sid growled and spat a chunk of gristle.


The Imperian


By mid-morning, the army was on the move. The Paragon was divided in to three long caravans of horses, carts, and no small amount of grumbling soldiers travelling on foot. Beelzes, in her infinite generosity, had devoted her entire repertoire of spells for the day in summoning infernal beasts of burden. Five massive six-legged, shelled creatures from one of the lower planes rumbled alongside the army, bearing a load of occupants or supplies each. Roughly twenty smaller, equine demons the size of carts were fitted with rails and served as small troop transports.

Following her example, more than two-thirds of the army's magic-users assisted with movement by summoning spectral mounts, smoothing out the terrain, and even creating small moving disks of force that soldiers took turns relaxing on as they marched. Even Turha lent his golems to the effort, having the automata haul burdens of their own. He refrained from complaining about their depleted power cores in front of Lily. He was simply thankful that it was not as hot as the desert. In fact, the day proved a chilly one. The Imperian sky was coated with a smog-like layer of low-lying clouds that gave the heavens a greenish cast.

Wrath marched near the front of the procession, speaking with Xeron and Iridanias in coarse whispers. Intermittently, the general would break off from the two to try to distract himself from the dismal atmosphere. This was one of those times.

Wrath moved ahead slightly and pulled up alongside Talae's horse. He glanced at the dark elf, trying to spark up a conversation. Oddly enough, the first word that came to mind was 'sorry'. Images of their first couple encounters crossed his mind. He'd been...well, an ass. At last, his mouth moved and sound pushed past his lips in an awkward mumble.

"I suppose you proved me wrong. Assassins have their uses..."

From the other side of Talae, tied by his hands to the saddle, Salim guffawed. "Of course they are, young general! 'Wear the Night' is a phrase that every race utters in some way or another! Why do you think even orcs have the Black-Bloods? Or nightmarians train their arachnid castes for infiltration?" the mercenary grinned and winked at Wrath, drawing a scowl from the half-breed. Wrath felt that Salim was trying too hard to be friendly. Salim felt Wrath should look elsewhere for female companionship.

So it was, the two men glared at one-another, completely misreading the other's intentions.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Paragon
The Imperian


Bastard was hiding something from her, and she had no doubts about that. The only problem was, she wasn’t exactly invited to the party wherein he’d be likely to deliver that piece of information, whatever it was, and so she was presently trying to find something else to do.

It was easier if she convinced herself that she didn’t care, but that took considerably more effort these days than it used to. Nevertheless, Xeron and Wrath and that snotty dragon wench could keep their secrets if they wished to; Neira was going to give them some berth until she became convinced that she wasn’t going to be tempted to assault on sight. Impulse control had never been her strong suit, mostly because in her early years, that sort of thing had been done for her, and after that, maintaining functioning relationships with comrades hadn’t really been necessary.

Scanning the back of a particular cart, she ran her chitinous hands over several of the glass bottles in quick succession, producing a series of audible clinks. Tilting her head to one side, she spent a single moment later in contemplation and then grabbed two, tucking them away in a small sack of her personal items. The march began in a matter of minutes, and she intended to find a certain spider before then.

As it was, she managed to catch up to Mercy no more than a half-hour in. Holding one of the bottles out by the neck, she offered it to her fellow nightmarian with a sly grin. “Ecclavarain vintage, almost a good century ago. It’d burn a human’s hair off, but I thought you might like it.” Neira shrugged nonchalantly, as if to indicate that it didn’t matter much if she didn’t.



Talae’s eyes were unfocused, most uncharacteristically off somewhere in the middle distance. She was fairly certain that Salim had been attempting to make conversation, but she frankly didn’t care. This, she had been told, was the face she wore most often when her sister was on her mind, but presently Fae was about as far from the dark elf’s thoughts as she ever got these days.

The object of her worry was someone else entirely, but then it would be foolish not to concern oneself when one’s closest comrade was possessed by something that frequently injured him. Subconsciously, she grit her teeth together. She’d have to tell him she didn’t like it. Of course, it wasn’t her choice to make, and she respected that a good deal more than most people would. But if he valued her opinion like she valued his, he’d want to know.

Attuned ears picked up on the General’s approach, and she was mildly surprised to find that he indeed seemed to be seeking her out. Though she had no more against him than she did the average person, he had never seemed keen on her line of work, which wasn’t exactly uncommon. Perhaps it was for this reason that it took her a moment to respond to his words.

“The irritating one is mildly correct; all tools have a use. All the same, I can see why you might not wish to utilize my particular sort. Do not concern yourself with it.” A pause, and something that sounded suspiciously like her sister’s voice reprimanded her in the back of her mind. “But thank you, even so.”

She sent a curious look in Salim’s direction, rather nonplussed by his interjection, but ignored him, sinking back into her thoughts and entirely unaware of the exchange between the general and the mercenary.



The Children of Fire
The Imperian



This was getting ridiculous. Knossus, before he’d apprenticed himself to a Civil necromancer, had been one of the best brawlers in his village, but this entire exchange was proving to be the most frustrating thing he’d ever endured. Not because of the condition of his body: while he was bleeding unceasingly from a broken nose and nursing several swelling bruises elsewhere, he had endured far worse before. No, the reason he was so increasingly enraged was because of the mental war that his opponent was waging on him and clearly winning. The smaller man before him had yet to lose an exchange, had no visible injuries and what was more refused to attack except exactly as far as was necessary to fend him off.

It was more than he could handle, used to winning as he was. It was time to break the rules, then. Quickly forming a plan, Knossus lunged forward, feinting a kick with one foot before abruptly shifting his weight and using the other. Tao, as expected, knocked it to the side with the judicious placement of a forearm, moving back and the shifting in to strike at Knossus’s chest with an elbow, which positioned his hand in such a way as to aim at the man’s already-injured face.

Rather than trying to avoid or block the fist, Knossus took a moment to summon the necrotic magics to his hands, ready to use their proximity to rot away the little fool’s body from the inside out. Just as he was reaching for Tao’s abdomen, though, he was brought up short by a fierce sensation of tearing flesh. Looking down, he saw the other man’s sword, somehow unsheathed in the time it took him to summon the spell, had found a new home in his belly.

Glancing back up, he saw the redheaded Child regarding him with something akin to infantile curiosity. “You, too… always too slow…”

Knossus didn’t have the vitality left to respond, instead collapsing to the ground in a crumpled heap.



At around the same time, Dark fell at Jivven’s hand, half-living body no longer able to respond to his commands. He was saved from the questionable dignity of being raised as an undead by Shasarra’s axe, which cleaved his head wholly from his body. The injured harpy glanced up at Jivven, gesturing to the enemies still about them.

“I’m not going to be much help with these wings, friend. But you might make a difference yet.” They were probably the nicest words she’d yet used on him, and she had to admit to herself that even if he was a groundwalking little slip-fish, he was rather good at it.



Easkr lumbered forward with surprising speed towards the cleric, ready to rip into her with his skeletal jaws, but was frustrated by the shield she had erected against him. He knew, though, that it could not stand forever, and while the dragon thundered away against it with single-minded determination, he felt something prick the back of his consciousness.

It sounded like a gastly wail, though a minor annoyance more than anything, and he might have dismissed it, had he in his distraction not missed the approach of two elven men, both armed with dual weapons apiece.

Oraun smashed bodily into the dragon’s ribcage, hacking away ferociously, though without much efficacy, at the massive curved bones that had once protected Easkr’s heart. Even as the dragon turned from the cleric, now pinned under one massive forepaw and struggling to breathe, he felt a weight bear down on his neck, forcing his jaw and face closer to the ground. Vortigern’s momentum was such that he’d recovered well enough from his toss at the grace of Pylarea, caught on to what the others were doing, and directed himself as well as he could to fall atop the dragon, landing in a crouch at about the middle of the series of vertebrae that made up its neck.

He was not so heavy that the pin would last forever, though, and fortunately, Safir made it just in time, the sword still imbued with holy light puncturing Easkr’s glowing eye-socket with what sounded suspiciously like a crack as it cleaved the bone beneath. The knight’s blow, not the fastest or the most graceful, did what speed and grace would not have been able: from the bottom of the eye socket and down through the cheekbones, Easkr’s skull was cracked and shattered, part of it crumbling away to the ground.

Without his necromancer to lend him the necessary force, it was enough to do the undead dragon in, and he went rigid, unable to move, even as the unlife left his stark-white body and dissipated under the force of the purification. The skeleton gave a great shudder, then crumbled into nothing more than the pile of bones it had once been under the ground.

Carmen, more than a little enfeebled from her exertions, struggled to free herself from underneath the still-heavy claws of the dragon, at last managing to wriggle free with a fair amount of creative contortion. Standing on shaking legs, she gave her rescuers a weak smile and set about examining the Children immediately closest to her. Most were all right and would not require immediate attention, but a few did need a bit of patching up. The magic of her earlier enchantments faded as she drew the light back into herself in order to heal where needed. Pain would slowly return to her comrades, and enchanted weapons would lose their extra properties, but if they took but a moment to look about them, they would know that such things were no longer necessary.

A few stragglers remained, but were quickly being finished off. The undead had fallen, and the Children of Fire were victorious, for the moment.

Tao stood, directing those of his troops that were still sufficiently able to draw the bodies, friends and foe alike, into a great pile for a funeral pyre. For those in the service of the dragons, burning was the only fit way to be sent off, and it had the added bonus of preventing the reanimation of corpses, something that they were all more wary of now that their greatest foe was capable of raising armies of the once-living for his own purposes.

Aesr reappeared at some point in this process and informed everyone that they would be setting camp in this village for the night, and that they were permitted to take any salvageable supplies they could find from the surviving buildings. She then ordered Tao to set up a watch and vanished again, presumably to sulk.

This wasn’t supposed to have happened.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


Jivven stood over the twisted creature, arms crossed, as Shasarra kindly removed his skull from his body. He watched the head roll with mild amusement and intended to gloat over the dead thing. Though gloating would waste too much time, Jivven opted for something just as humiliating. "Hey buddy... Don't lose your head," He said grinning. Sure, it was a horrible joke, but no less than the horrible creature deserved. It had hurt what little honor and pride Jivven had even being vaguely similar to the creature. Luckily, the battlefield was saved from more horrid jokes as Shasarra gestured. Seemed like there were still some others that needed to die. Fair enough, he could easily comply.

"You gave me enough hell on the ground for me to know you're not completely helpless, Shar," He said, flashing her the hand with the missing appendage. "Besides, If all else fails, you could always throw me at them," He said, chuckling. He then shifted the blade in his left hand to his right, and reached in his cloak, withdrawing a set of three throwing knives and threw them into the knot of enemies. The blades were coating in a deadly toxin, made from milking the spiders of his homeland, so that even if the knife itself wasn't a killing blow, the venom would seal the fate.

He then grabbed his displaced blade, and went on, rather strangely, on the defensive. While he still merely danced around the attacks the undead fools attempted on him, he never ventured far from Shasarra. In fact, it could have been said he danced around her, though it wasn't obvious but to those who were specifically watching the pair. Even so, Jivven managed to show off his interpersonal workplace skills as he opened up many of the assailants' defenses for the injured harpy to take a strike at, allowing her to earn her honor if she so wished. One could guess that the Assassin worked just as good in pairs as he did solo.

Before long, they had found themselves being attacked less and less often, until they were victorious. Once victory was assured, his blades vanished from his hand and into the folds of his black cloak. He had found his Children's white robes before he committed to drag bodies to the funeral pyre. Though he wasn't doing as much work as the others (He was an assassin, not a gravedigger!) they managed to gather most of them. Jivven even spared a moment to gawk at the once alive (undead? Un-alive?) undead dragon skeleton. He was equal parts hurt and glad that he didn't participate in that scuffle. However, he would make a note to shake the hands of those who slayed the undead beast (Except perhaps Oraun).

Then, word got to him that they were to camp there, and they were able to loot what remained of the houses. Instead of looting like a graverobber, Jivven opted to try and find a house that he could occupy. He didn't like the idea of resting on the blood soaked ground within wafting distance of the funeral pyre.




Liliana Bloodleaf


It was nothing for the light elf to vault out of the nearest window and drop to the soft earth below. A dagger flashed in her hand and dug deep into the aging mortar of the wall behind, slowing her descent enough so as to not break both legs. She hit the ground with a thud and was off in a blink, trying to escape the collapsing castle. As she ran, Lily gave a high pitch whistle and awaited for her command to be heard. Once far enough away from the castle to be out of the immediate danger of getting her pretty little head dashed by a stray rock, she allowed herself to look around for comrades. While most had made it out relatively unscathed, Torga gripped a poor soldier and said something to him, before collapsing. She approached the orc and scanned the skies, finally the Mark II making it's way towards her.

"You look exhausted," Lily said, trying to hide her own fatigue. As she spoke, the Mark II touched down next to her. Lily then pointed to the soldier who Torga had been speaking to. "Here, help me get him on the back," She said, grabbing one of the truck like arms of the orc and with their combined strength managed to situate Torga on the back of the Mark II without jostling him too much. She nodded her appreciating at the bewildered soldier and jumped on the Mark II herself. Weighed down like that, it would be able to take flight... But it was still a hell of a lot better than walking.

Lily rushed back to the camp, and the medical tent in particular, disregarding the other soldiers. She had to get Torga to the medical tent as well. Once she arrived, Zyn and Landion stood above a sitting Adel (who was already bandaged), who stood at the approach of her captain. "What happened to him?" she asked. Lily sighed and shook her head, "Not now, Adel. Later. Just help me get him inside," She said. The Sunwings then helped Lily drag Torga off of the Mark II, into the tent, and to an unoccupied bed. Having done what she needed to, Lily took a heavy seat in an empty chair, finally allowing the fatigue to overwhelm her.

"Need anything ma'am?" Landion asked. Lily responded by taking off her quiver and shortbow, handing it to the dark elf, "Just need to rest, put that someplace safe, yeah. You do too Adel. Go find a bed and relax, I'll stay here for a bit and see how everyone's doing. Zyn and Landy can flip a coin for the next mission, how's that sound?" She asked. "Great, Lily. I guess I'm out," Adel said, taking her quick leave, followed by the rest of the Sunwings. The elf didn't even feel the tendrils of the elven dreamless trance take hold until she woke up.

And she was awakened by the sound of a familiar halfling cursing at a familar warlock. She couldn't help but smile through her closed eyes. "Easy Bee," She said, "We worked hard to save her. Would hate for you to choke her now." Truth be told, she was just happy that Sid had managed to survive. She wondered about Koni and Torga though, but what Beezles said next made her open her eyes. Looks like checking on them would have to wait. "We're moving out? Argh, couldWrath let us rest for a little bit?" She said, rising from the chair that had been her bed. Looking down, she found all of her wounds had been bound and bandaged, and there was one she could just see on her cheek. Huh, how deep of a trance was she in?

Either way, she made for the exit of the tent, but before leaving- "I've got errands to run before we head out. Look after the Lieutenant for me, Beezles. Oh, and Sid? Good to see that you're alive," She said bluntly and left.




Mid-morning

The "errand" Lily had to do was to collect Turha and obtain a horse drawn cart by persuading the quarter master. However, instead of having horses draw the cart, she instead substituted the Mark II. With a little help from Turha, they had managed to convert the cart to allow the larger golem to carry it with ease. Like hell she was going to walk anymore. She was going to get her rest one way or another. She then allowed Turha to take his leave and do what he could to ease the burden of the Legion with his golems while Lily gathered the Sunwings and assigned orders.

Once on the road, Turha and Lily leaned against the side of the interior of the cart as the Mark II pulled it in front of the golems Turha had bid to carry equipment. Zyn, who had won the coin toss over Landion, sat in the drivers seat, but turned around to the interior of the cart to better speak to the riders better. The Mark II could guide itself among the procession either way. Adel had volunteered Landion and herself to scout ahead and report back to Wrath and the mages smoothing out the road. Aside from the trio, a number of other soldiers had also hitched a ride with the archers and artificer.

"Hey, Lil, have I mentioned how awesome Marky is lately?" Zyn said, to the unanimous agreement of the other soldiers in the cart. "When can I get one?" he asked in jest. Joking or not, this drew an angry glare from Turha. Lily placed a hand on the artificer's knee and smiled, saving Zyn from the tongue lashing.

"Just enjoy the ride Zyn, else I'll have you pull the cart with Marky."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image As it turned out, the deep human had nearly suffered total heart failure, brought on by overexertion. While he should have died, some unknown force kept his heart beating unnaturally, until an electric charge was applied and restarted the heart. None of the medics were quite sure where this power stemmed from, but nowadays nothing was sure about Kisikoni. His entire body, though not visibly injured was damaged on the inside. muscles were swollen and inflamed, stretched to the very limits. Some broken bones from limbs that moved faster than the body could catch up, and a dislocation of the left arm. Deciding not to waste pain medicine, Kisikoni had been put to sleep to allow the wounds to heal naturally.

And so, the deep human remained in his slumber for the duration of the trip.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Spending most of the night frustrated, the Nightmarian Spider finally decided to get a check up after getting a couple hours of rest. God knows when they'll move out again, but in the Paragon, "we're moving out" was a phrase used almost as often as "yes sir". Mercy had not suffered any particularly bad wounds, just bruises and scrapes. Thankfully, many of the ghouls attacked her armored abdomen, and before they could tear chunks from the tough chitinous plates, she successfully fended them off with her powerful legs and flail. She refused bandaging, asking only for sterilization. Her body regenerated fast enough that the fabric would simply be a waste.

She entered her tent once again, sleeping for another period of time before the call was made. They were moving out once more. Mercy was not a morning person, but she rose all the same and forced herself awake. The life of a mercenary still had it's traces on the spider, who blinked her voluminous red eyes in protest against the rising sun. Commotion and chaos began to flood the encampment as things were packed, the wounded were prepped, and the army mobilized under the watchful gaze of Wrath- now devoid of his second-in-command. She debated going to him and keeping the poor boy company, but she spied the red glint of that Red. She decided to avoid her altogether, they just didn't seem to mix very well. She sighed. She could use some company, Spiders were hardly ever accustomed to long migrations. Actually, scratch that. She knew a spider back home whose kids traveled by parachutes made of webbing. Light little brats they were.

It wasn't long after they started marching that a familiar companion drew close to her. Neira, the pugilist that had been spending her days joined at the hip with Xeron finally tired of his odd mannerisms. Well, it wasn't exactly true, but it was where the Spider spied the dragonfly nowadays. It was a good sight to finally be together. However, what really suckered Mercy was the bottle of vintage Neira drew from her bodice, causing her voluminous red eyes to flare with desire.

"Oh Neira! You shouldn't have!" She exclaimed, enveloping the dragonfly in a fierce hug. Right after, she grabbed the bottle, smacking her lips. "Nightmarian Vintage! Haven't had this in years! The dumb loafers at the local bars say it's too dangerous!" She rambled happily. Her morning had gotten exponentially better, perhaps this war was worth fighting after all. With an experienced finger, she popped open the sealed bottle, taking a swig and sighing in contentment. "Well now, I certainly owe you a favor, dear." She said, grinning at the dragonfly.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


The blade sunk right into the bone without effort. Enthralled by his success, Safir bellowed, using his waist and arms to drive the sword in even further. Even with his very rudimentary grasp of magical theory, Safir knew from the impact and the reaction from the undead dragon that he had achieved an edge. However, instead of an advantage, he realized that as the bones collapsed and the dragon ceased to move. Hardly daring to believe his eyes, they eventually took in the crumpled corpse. Safir Garethson! Slayer of undead beasts!

He backed away from the corpse in a wary manner all the same, but after catching Carmen's tired grin, he figured that it was done for good. After all, she was the magic specialist. During the entire conflict, Safir had been ignoring the enemy ranks to engage the dragon. They didn't worry him, as his armor protect him well from most blows the zombies could muster up- and the skeletal wyrm was definitely more of a threat if left unchecked. When he turned to see that they were mopping up the last of them, he was surprised. Looks like the Necromancer had been defeated, which meant he didn't do it all by himself. Technically. Safir wanted to believe he had a fundamental role in stopping the beast. Soon, orders wafted around their heads, allowing them to take refuge for the night. Lifting the helmet off his head, he figured it was all clear now. "Phew. What a fight, wasn't expecting that for my first battle." Safir said to the air. He quickly began work on the mass graves, throwing bodies in before tagging out with another soldier that had acquired a place to sleep.

Wandering among the wreckage, he eventually found a fairly-close house off the main road where he fought Easkr. Fitting for a building once part of the Imperian, it was fairly tall and almost proportionate to how close it was to the main road- where buildings tended to be bigger. Entering, he found that though it was abandoned, it was fairly clean. All Safir really needed was a bed he could claim at this point, which he found upstairs. Throwing a set of his Children's Robes onto the covers to park his spot, he went downstairs. Poking around, he discovered a jar of honey, a half-empty case of spirits, and some smoked meats. Though half the meats were spoiled, the honey and spirits should still be alright. Smoke was now rising in a thick column outside, a signal that the pyre was now well underway.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

Pylarea found herself shocked at the utter lack of compassion or respect for the dead on the part of a goodly portion of her new comrades. When told they were permitted to salvage for any supplies they dove on the corpses of the undead and truly dead as harpies would a fresh slab of meat, some even fought over their prizes as harpies would as well. It would be best to keep that analogy to herself though, she did happen to be in league with several of the creatures, and not a one seemed like they would take kindly to such sentiments.

Instead of “salvaging” any equipment or goods the Nightmarian, instead, held a short ceremony to honor those who had died, in the tradition of the Nightmarians of course and without the use of a pyre. After her few minutes of reverence Pylarea decided it would be best to find somewhere to make camp, well it was not necessarily a camp since she would not need to pitch a tent or anything due to the large number of buildings capable of residence but that was decides the point. A cursory glance around gave glimpse to the sight of Safir, the human who seemed to enjoy living in his armor. There actually was not much she could question on that part in all truth since her Arcshell was more or less a suit of armor such as his, but she was forever trapped whilst he could remove his extra layer.

It did not take long for the moth to discover Safir’s whereabouts, despite losing sight of the large man as difficult as that sounded, mainly because she was able to use her echo-location-like ability to keep tabs on where he went. When she finally did catch up with the man he had found shelter within a particularly large building near the main road and had salvaged several supplies from the storeroom downstairs. Luckily her body was able to sustain itself without food for a bit longer time than he would, and on top of that she did not require the sustenance of meat.

“Hello Safir. How are you feeling after the fight from earlier? I hope the dragon did not prove too harmful to you.

He did seem worn out, but as far as she could tell he was not much worse for the wear. The humans were a strange lot though, she still could not tell much about them besides the fact they had a soft outer-layer and tended to…what was that word…bruise yes that was it.

“Oh, I am so sorry. I did not mean to bother. Would it be okay for me to join you here?”

She could not see why he would not acquiesce to her request. It seemed like he was a nice enough person, but then again maybe all humans just pretended to act nice so they could take advantage of you later on. The Civil definitely seemed to practice portraying such false-images with a frequency and efficiency that was quite startling. Nightmarians had always been much more translucent in regards to such things, they were usually very straightforward and clear in their actions, well depending upon their breed. Some like the spiders seemed to prefer trickery and the like to accomplish their goals.

“So what is your opinion on The Civil? I could not believe what they did to this town today, and that they are doing it to countless others just like this one. I wish there was more I could do to help.”

She was completely honest in those regards. Pylarea had never truly known hatred before this battle, but now the bitter emotion began festering in the back of her mind. She wanted to end the brutal onslaught of The Civil no matter if the cost was her own life.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Otowar
"Ugh..."

Torga's head was pounding, but he was still alive. That was the important thing, at least. He remembered the castle falling down all around him, but much more after that. He had drifted in and out of consciousness after his collapse, and in that time he remembered the elf, Lily. Her face and form probably the only static thing on the way to the medical tent. He was almost certain that he was flying at some point, as well. At the very least, there was a cool breeze running through his hair. Being dragged into the tent was an activity he was a bit more conscious for; He'd definitely been dropped at least once. At his size, probably twice.

"He's lucky. This patchwork is a bit shoddy, but he should be up in an hour or two."

"Shoddy?" Torga grunted. "The only shoddy work around here is gonna be your face if you insult my work again."

Torga immediately drifted out of consciousness again.

"He might be up sooner than expected."



"The stars are much like each of us, Torga. Pinpoints of light in the void. Individually, they cannot amount to much; There is too much darkness. But no matter how much darkness there is, it only serves to dim the stars. It cannot extinguish their light. But the beauty lie not in their singular ability to stand out, but what they form in tandem with the others. Great constellations, Torga. The heroes of our people. The great hunters and warriors. They are all represented."

"Father, you're ill. You're rambling. Just silence. You need your rest."

"No, son. You have so much to learn. You haven't been taught. I-"


"I've learned your lessons father. I'm ready for this, but that doesn't mean I want to lose you yet."

"Bloody Grakt-biters, Torga. You don't understand! I-Urgh!"

"Father? FATHER?!"


Torga awoke from his sleep in a boisterous motion, looking about the tent. He remembered Sid entering before him, but it seemed that she was gone; He was hopeful that she was still alive, at least.
He looked down at the scar his own healing had left. It had disappeared just as the Halfling had. He was rather looking forward to the battle scar, but simply being alive was a good enough consolation prize for him.
Getting up from his cot, he felt dizzy still. He held his head as the rush had passed, and walked out into the light of day. He was still on duty, technically, and there was little doubt that his commanders would yet send him into another suicide mission that they had probably known were traps.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
The Children of Fire


Gatan Rakarth cast a glance over his shoulder as he walked, the tattooed snakes on his cheeks splitting pale flesh with jagged streaks of green. The red haired youth stared directly at Aesr from across the pyre. Aesr looked back at him with a sudden jolt, realizing that her comment had not gone unheard. Taking a moment longer than should have been necessary, the dragon sneered and dismissed Gatan with a roll of the wrist.

Gatan, never given to mirth, actually cracked a smile. Too strong to be human? he thought idly, continuing down past the rows of houses. He was surprised. Despite the prejudice in the words, that a compliment as far as Gatan could discern. Unbeknownst to a majority of the other Children aspirants, Gatan had torn apart several of the undead with his bare hands. Early on in the skirmish, the pugilist hung back in the shadows of the buildings content to observe. With monk-like focus Gatan had scanned the alleys and nooks across the landscape. After a time, he saw it.

If not for peripheral vision, his inferior human eyes would have missed it entirely. For all intents and purposes, they were invisible in the poor lighting. Yet the slightest movement betrayed their position to Gatan.

His limbs moved in predatory unison as he vaulted through the narrow alcoves towards his targets. The first of the undead attempting to flank the other Children met an inglorious end as Gatan descended from a nearby chimney. Both boots struck the zombie as he fell, pulping its skull and shoulder before slamming in to the cobbles below with enough force to send cracks webbing through the masonry. Before the first echo of the momentous landing finished ringing out Gatan was upon the next blasphemous creature. Nine of them, most better armed than the other undead, were cut down in as much time as it took the entirety of the other Children to disassemble the remaining Civil force.

Aesr had seen this, apparently, and was a little impressed. Gatan supposed he could understand. Most people just weren't as great as he. Soon after his musings, the robed figure found where he wanted to be, and entered the house. The tattooed man had the courtesy to announce himself with audible footfalls as he descended to the larder to join Safir and Pylarea.

“Sorry,” he said with a nod, “But I thought I smelled-” Gatan's eyes seemed to rove over the meats behind Pylarea, both spoiled and hale. His nose twitched as his senses registered the scent of honey. It'd been ages since he had partaken in any sort of sugar. Yet there was another, even more tantalizing smell in the larder. Gatan appeared to be struggling to pinpoint what food was catching his interest.

Quickly regaining his polite airs, Gatan cleared his throat and glanced at Pylarea, then Safir. He opened his mouth to speak and gestured with a hand at the small feast. Before any sound left his mouth however, Safir's bulky form was smashed in to a wooden shelf. Smashed, as in literally crushed against the furniture, wood splintering with the force of the blow. The flesh around Safir's neck would already be forming an ugly purple blotch, the man's throat bending with a sickening crunch. Gatan leapt back in shock and glanced at Pylarea. “By the Hive Mother, Did you just hit him with telekinesis?”

That was it. The implication of the curse would not sink in before Pylarea was assailed by an unseen force. While not as precise as the attack on Safir which was meant to incapacitate, the sheer brute strength of the attack would feel like a hammer-blow to the forehead. Gatan watched in amazement as Pylarea was struck a second, third, and fourth time in rhythmic succession. At that point it would be a wonder if the moth was even conscious.

Gatan's heart was racing now. The pugilist straightened and stared at Pylarea, studying her. Glancing up at the stairs leading up to the house proper, Gatan shed his cloak to reveal a muscular torso painted in a myriad of serpent tattoos. He listened to Safir's labored breathing and returned his gaze to Pylarea. A feral grin split his serene features. Wider than a human's should be. Two fang-like protrusions of bone-white slid out from the sides of his inner mouth, forming a pair of clacking mandibles in addition to the monstrous grin.

Seeming to part the flesh of his ribs seamlessly, a pair of slender, armored arms emerged, leaving Gatan looking thinner than he had with them pressed to his body. One seemed to blur for a moment and another explosive blow rang out against Pylarea's skull. A punch.

With his larger arms, Gatan pinned the petite nightmarian to the wall and bent low, his mandibles tapping together in chittering bouts. The ant nightmarian marveled at his own power. That blood really is something, don't you think? I was fast before, but,” both arms lashed out with blinding speed to leave four welts across Pylarea's stomach and thighs in less time than it took for his elongated heart to beat. “This is absurd. It'd take a harpy or,” he tittered, “A dragon even to track the movements of my secundi.”

Gatan lowered his head in a striking motion, brushing Pylarea's hair almost tenderly. As he withdrew, the sounds of crunching became deafening in the confines of the larder. The pain would register with Pylarea in a red wave of agony. A bleeding stump was all that remained of the moth's left antenna. Gatan was in heaven, swallowing with a heady expression of lust. When his eyes cleared, he looked back at Pylarea with renewed hunger. A moment later, he was gone.

If anyone wanted to find Gatan, he'd been out gathering firewood from the houses. Of course the disguised nightmarian – mandibles and secundus arms retracted – returned with a batch of kindling for the pyre, to corroborate with the story. It was too soon to feast. The moth was too useful to Aesr. After a few more engagements though when Gatan proved himself the greater weapon, he would devour the little morsel without any fear of reprisal. Soon.


The Paragon

The Crater


By the time the army stopped to rest, the sun had set once more. A blue night stretched across the blasted lands as the moon drifted in and out of the cover of clouds. Wrath took in his settling troops with a sense of burgeoning dread; was he actually proud of them? The Paragon made excellent time across the Imperian with the assistance of their various magicks. A few red dragons had even flown in more carts and reinforcements at Gurthenemon's behest, bolstering their ground forces further by staying themselves. Gurthenemon must have been suspecting as much trouble as Wrath and Xeron.

Their new camp was being set up along the ridge of a wide depression in the earth, presumably a dried lake bed. Sentries of both the mortal and draconian variety were patrolling the perimeter and skies for any signs of enemy movement in the darkness. It was common knowledge that the undead had a marked advantage in night fighting. There was also a good amount of evidence pointing towards the Civil having used this area for encampment within the past week at least.

For the moment, things were going well. Wrath allowed himself a luxury he had not thought of in quite a while. The general removed his leathers, doffed the cloak, and even removed his twin hook-blades. When Wrath returned to the cool night air, he was dressed in little more than simple wool clothing with a long-dagger strapped to his boot.

He began wandering the camp, checking in on his soldiers, making introductions to those he had not found the time to meet in earlier days. After checking in with most of his officers, Wrath allowed his mind to wander and slid down in the the depression for some solitude. After a few minutes, the hawkish general found a stone jutting up from the ground that made for a sizable perch. Minutes passed, and Wrath found himself lost in the dim night, thinking of nothing more than the faint breeze or the moonlight playing against the clouds. A sudden twinkle on the ground caught his eye.

He bent over to retrieve the object from the dirt. Wrath frowned, studying the rock with a critical eye. After a few wipes against his breeches, Wrath found himself staring at a crystal-like stone that could have been brilliant had it not looked like solid cloud-stuff. Swirls of mist and smoke seemed to dance within the veins of the mineral, giving it an almost mesmerizing quality. Wrath's attention was immediately consumed by the crystal, leaving him alone and silent in the crater.


Medical Tent

“I swear to the dead gods, I'm going to shit a brick if I don't get something besides bread and gruel, woman!” Sid fidgeted and cursed under the scratchy wool blanket as a portly deep human spooned her mouthfuls of the bland broth. From the foot of the bed, Beelzes smiled as if Sid were a petulant child that did not know what was best for itself. The expression made Sid feel outrageously angry, embarrassed, and loved at the same time. The end result was a scarlet halfling grumbling and grudgingly accepting her food.

Some three beds down, Qinn was rumbling with low squawks and growls. Her stomach was the size of a sack of grain now and her brood were due any day now. Achiru stood nearby to fetch her any and everything she may need. The male harpy had grown exponentially during the pregnancy of his mate, some hormonal side-effect of males and the mating season, Sid supposed. Achiru was also much more vigilant than before, and even went so far as to increase the size of his weapon to match his new mass.

Thanaros leaned back in a chair next to the bed of a young orc woman. They were taking in light tones, and Sid was surprised to see the half-orc smiling. A genuine one, something she had only witnessed in his dealings with Neira.

Sid frowned as a tattooed deep human nurse – a male, surprisingly – passed by Beelzes with a lingering pat on the shoulder. A female deep human mirrored the gesture almost immediately after. The halfling's mood soured once more and she sunk in to her blanket. “Where the hell is my man?” she gestured vaguely at Beelzes, “Burning Dark, I'd settle for the warlock's tastes at this point...”


Artificer Tent

He had apprentices, sure, but in the Paragon, Turha was the one remaining arcanist that could blend magic and metal. At night, the swarthy human rarely permitted others in his tent. The massive tarp held not only his supplies, but half of the darkgard golems that were held in reserve. For the moment, Turha sat cross-legged on his spartan bed. A small orb pulsed in his calloused hands, radiating an aura of haunting woe. Turha observed the skeins of magic and compared them to a violet, green, and blue orb.

This one, this blood-hued stone transcended pain. Pain was red. This was sanguine. More powerful. Agony. The whisper of tent flaps sliding open caused Turha to jump in surprise. The artificer hastily stashed his magical stones in a satchel and called out to the poorly lit tent in a slightly edged voice. “Who is it?”

The shortsword resting at the foot of his bed was forgotten. Near so many automata, Turha was in command of a small army of semi-sentient weapons.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


Jivven cursed and kicked the door, finishing it off for good in a shower of splinters. This was the third damn house along the main road that was ruined far beyond being used as a decent enough shelter. The entire second floor was missing, as in it was now part of the ground floor, the roof was nonexistent, and the walls had so many hole he could swear that if a strong wind came through, he would hear it whistle. He gave up and threw his hands up in the air and left the entrance, cursing all the while under his breath. There had to be a decent house in this place, they all couldn't be destroyed, could they?

He sighed, cursing about it wasn't going to magically rebuild it. He'd just have to keep trying, as before, they all couldn't be destroyed. On his journey to find the one house that wasn't more firewood than house, he pondered on things. He wondered if Shasarra was okay. She'd probably be with the medics, getting her wings looked at. Heh, would have thought he'd actually come to like the harpy. Sure, she was a bit stuffy but she more than proved her worth. He'd just have to conveniently forget that he was one finger short because of her. Besides, it never hurt to have a friend in the skies.

The forth house wasn't completely destroyed, but had already been claimed by some of the other Children. It was too crowded for the dark elf's tastes and decided to look elsewhere. But it did prove that there were still intact houses around. He gave the men and women in the house a wave and went on. His next thought was about the creature he had fought today. The darkling fellow. Could Jivven actually end up like that creature if he died? The thought sent shivers down his spine. If he died, he'd have to make sure that he goes out with a bang. Don't want to end up like that poor sod.

As he approached the next house, his trained dark elven ears heard a strange sound. It sounded like someones ragged breathing. The dagger flew from somewhere in his robes and to his hand in mere moments. Breathing like that reminded him of the zombies they just fought. Perhaps there were stragglers they didn't catch. The houses would make a perfect hide out for the foul creatures.

Jivven silently pressed against the outside of the house and slowly made his way to the door, a throwing knife appearing in his left hand. He had the element of surprise, the bastards would never see him coming. He didn't even need to take off his robes for this. He counted steadily down from three, and on one suddenly appeared in front of the door. However, instead of zombies, he was greeted by comrades. Injured comrades. The blades in his hands disappeared as he ran to the nearest injured man, the human Safir. He was admist a pile of splintered wood and his breathing was the ragged sound he had mistaken for a ghoul.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," Jivven cursed in rapid succession, "What happened?" He asked, oblivious to the fact that the human may not be able to answer him. Jivven's eyes were wide and he felt worried for his comrade. "Uh- I'll go get help! Yeah I'll- Dammit! What happened to you?!" He asked, skirting across the room to Pylarea. He quickly tried to assess the damage, but he was no medic. As far as he could tell he could tell, she was bruised and missing part of her antennae. But they both were still alive. "I'll go get help! Don't move or- Fuck!" He said, running out of the house and yelling for a medic.

He happened upon Carmen during his mad sprint, and remembered she was some sort of cleric, mage or something like that. A medic in essence. He went to grab her hand to drag her to Pylarea and Safir while speaking in fragmented sentences, "Come on! Safir, Pylarea! Hurt! House! Over there! Fuck!"




Liliana Bloodleaf


"Guess." Lily replied poking her head through the tent flaps with a coy smile. The elf's voice easily identified her despite the dim light in the tent. Lily could see just fine in the low light though, thanks to her elven eyes. Something about evolving to hunt in the dim light of the forests? "Try to be a little bit more polite though, else I'll have to stop visiting," She said jokingly. Lily always seemed to be more comfortable around Turha than anyone else in the Paragon, and though not the bright paragon of innocence she once was, he was the only one who saw the closest thing to it.

"You're not busy, are you?" She asked. Despite his answer, she stepped into the tent, allowing the flap to slide back behind her. She looked... Different. She wasn't wearing her patched live leathers, or even the rough travel-stained clothing she wore into battle. Surprisingly, she actually was wearing a simple but elegant white dress that flowed all the way down to her bare feet. The dress fit her just right in all the right spots and was spotless. Dead gods only knew where she found something like that. Her head was no longer obscured by her hood , and actually looked combed for once. As combed as her golden wavy locks could be anyway. Her bow and quiver were left in her own tent. She actually looked like a woman now, instead of some rag-tag soldier.

The airy girl blushed as she caught Turha's eyes, then she smiled. "The Sunwings actually bought this for me at the last town," She said, spinning allowing Turha to get a full view of the dress. That explained the mystery as to where the dress came from. She must have had it stowed away in a pack somewhere during the traveling. "I tried to yell at them for it, but I just couldn't. They said I deserved something nice for once," She said. Despite how much she tried to play it off, it was obvious to everyone she cared about those three. "May I?" She asked, pointing at the bed. Turha nodded, letting Lily take a seat beside him.

"How are they?" Turha asked about the Sunwings. Lily sighed and looked shrugged. "Fine. They're out on patrol now. Adel said something about actually getting one of the reds to give her a ride. Zyn and Landion each took a ground patrol. I'm proud of them. Even despite Adel's huge mouth," She said, adding to the hyperbole with hand motions, "Between her and Zyn, it's like trying to herd cats," she added, laughing. Her laughter was infectious and had Turha chuckling as well. As the laughter died down Lily still smiled. "Still though. We're family, and I love them like family," She said sighing.

"You know... I never really felt like I had a family before," She said, her smile finally leaving her face. She leaned against Turha for support as she spoke "Back before the Paragon, before the Blackguard. Back with my clan, the Bloodleaf, I never felt like I truly belonged. I was cheerful- optimistic- while everyone else was serious. Survival, that was what mattered back then. Not happiness. Happiness and optimism blinded you to what the world was really like," She said, laying her head on Turha's lap. "Still though, I clung to it. Perhaps I didn't really want to know what the world was like. How we had to fight every day just to stay alive. I heard stories about how the clan fended off the Children, and the Primah before that. But they we're just stories back then."

She sighed, but continued talking. This had been a burden on her shoulders for a long time now, and this talk was a long time coming. "I don't know if my clan was the ones who left me, or I was the one who left. When I got separated from them in the Ashwoods, I don't know if they looked for me or if I just ran and never looked back. I just don't know any more," She said, taking one of Turha's hands and holding it against her chest. "I don't hold a grudge against them anymore. They had to do what they thought they needed to do to survive, as did I. I don't know if it was the right choice or not, but I do know if I didn't leave I wouldn't have found the Paragon," She said, looking up at Turha with a smile. Her eyes blue eyes once again were bright- even in the dim light of the tent. "I wouldn't have met Wrath, or Kisikoni, or Sid, or Faera, Caine, Talae, Alistair, and everybody else in the Paragon. You all mean so much to me and are more of a family to me than anyone in the Bloodleaf ever was, and I would gladly follow you all anywhere."

Then she reached up and cupped Turha's face with a soft hand, "Especially you, Turha Mialee. You mean the most to me," She said, pulling him in for a long kiss.

With that, what little light in the tent was extinguished.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Paragon
The Imperian


A soft grunt escaped the dragonfly as she was engulfed in spiderly affection, if you could call it that. She considered a (comparatively) good-natured crack about addictions, but in the end declined.

“Hm… don’t say things like that. I’ve been known to actually take people up on debts,” Neira replied dryly, working the cork from her own bottle with a single pointed digit. She didn’t drink nearly as quickly as Mercy, though, mostly sipping on the brew sporadically throughout the day. Not that it mattered; the stuff was so potent that she spent the majority of the afternoon pleasantly buzzed. Made marching considerably more tolerable. Once, she would have been able to waste away her days in this manner if she so wished, for people of her stature were not required to assist in manual labor. It was amusing, in a bitter sort of way: she’d always wanted to be a soldier, but that had never been allowed. Now she was, and she was almost nostalgic for the old days when slaughtering things wasn’t a daily reality.

Wait… what? She looked down at the bottle in her hand and shook her head, causing the world to tilt slightly. That was a passing fancy of incredibly stupid proportions. She wasn’t good at anything else, so why bother to long for days when she had to pretend to have a head for diplomacy and the graceful arts of conversation?

“Do you ever miss it? The Hive?” she asked suddenly, though her words were enunciated clearly still. After that slip, though, she clamped her mouth shut and said nothing for the rest of the trip, though she would admit to being interested in the answer.



The Crater


“Hm. Pretty,” Her voice was a drawl, laced with something approaching disdain. “But does it have a use?” Neira hopped down over the ledge and into the crater Wrath currently occupied, able to avoid falling off-balance by sheer dent of practice and muscle memory. The body remembers what even the mind forgets, an old man had once told her.

She glanced again at the stone, but whatever fascination it held for him wasn’t hers. She blinked slowly, and a silence stretched over the space, until she broke it again, handing the general the remnants of the liquor, still a good quarter-full. “If you’ve ever had a mind to learn about the other half of your culture, I’m in a foul enough mood to talk about it. You can start with this. Keep it to a couple swallows, though, because I don’t know how inoculated you’d be against it.” The fact that she could still use the word ‘inoculated’ was perhaps overridden by the fact that she was offering to talk about Nightmarians.

Truthfully, she didn’t know if he was even interested, but what the hell? It wasn’t like she had anything better to do at the moment. Maybe she’d just talk at him for a while, and see how long he’d listen before he up and left.

She’d always been called insufferable, after all; might as well make an effort to live up to expectations every once in a while.


Medical Tent


Fak’ir and Talae entered the tent together, though they were there for quite different reasons. The halfling with the desert complexion was running supplies for the healers, being without an active assignment at the moment. His captain was there on a more personal matter, but of course he wasn’t about to ask her about it. Captain Shanir was known for two things: her swordplay and her reticence. As far as he could tell, she spoke easily with about three people, and of those, one was dead and one was off marshaling a force of harpies to aid the Paragon. The third was presently unconscious in this tent, as he’d told her when she asked.

The shadowmage passed the cot where that earth-rending orc had been earlier in the day, only to find it empty. Shame; he’d been interested in bringing up elemental theory with a fellow practitioner. Maybe he’d catch him later.

He saluted Sid when he walked by, which should have been awkward with his hands full of blankets and apothecary’s supplies, but wasn’t because of his balance and training. Being taught to move fluidly through and with dark spaces had the occasional fringe benefit. “Captain,” he offered, and nodded to Beelzes not too far away. Unlike his superior officer, the Lieutenant was rather social for a wetboy. He didn’t see the correlation between killing for a living and ignoring the living.

The supplies were dropped carefully onto a table slightly further back, and he fastidiously checked the labels on everything before he let them be. It wouldn’t do to mistake wort for nightshade, or vice-versa. Especially vice-versa.

He caught a brief glimpse of the captain at her old partner’s bedside, but if he registered anything more than this barest of details, he would never mention it.



Due to what was quickly being recognized as a ‘special condition,’ Kisikoni was somewhat removed from the rest of the patients. No need to provoke suspicion among the other soldiers if he accidentally sprouted extra limbs during a particularly bad dream or something. To Talae’s knowledge, this had never occurred, but she supposed it was worth being paranoid about.

She’d hoped to find him awake, but it seemed that he’d been out for most of the afternoon. The attendant nurse was sparing with the details, and she didn’t seek after them. There was a stool by his bedside, though, and she took it, perching on the edge like she might at any moment have to flee or fight.

“I’m leaving,” she said aloud, then halted, a bit surprised at herself. Nevertheless, she saw no harm in it, so she kept speaking. “I’d wait until later to tell you as much, but that time is a luxury I don’t have. Solo mission this time though, so… well, I should be back shortly at any rate.” And you’d better not be in this state when I get back.

“About the other thing… I understand why you didn’t say anything. I’m… glad you did, though, eventually. I’d match a secret with a secret, but the point would be moot right now, so… later.” If you die, I won’t forgive either of us.

Sighing softly, Talae rose slowly, slipping her fingers across Koni’s palm and squeezing briefly, touching the knuckles of his hand to her forehead. It was an old gesture of familiarity, one used often among the people of her village to bestow luck. “Fortune be with you, partner. We shall need it.”



The Children of Fire
The Imperian, On the March



Carmen gently touched the tawny feathers and flesh that comprised Shasarra’s wings, barely grazing the surface. Even so, the harpy hissed and cursed low in her native tongue, causing the healer to send her an apologetic look. For some time now, Camen had been in the peculiar Zen-like haze that characterized one of her healing trances. Her teacher had called them a special gift from the gods themselves, but of course the gods had been dead by the time Carmen was born.

Godsent or not, it allowed her to stave off the weaknesses and frailties of her own body long enough to complete her tasks. The soft, aureate glow of her holy magic seeped into the harpy’s bones, rearranging the shattered fragments like a series of puzzle pieces, and slowly, so slowly, knitting them together. The flesh followed, but Carmen knew not how to reattach feathers, so a few of those would have to regrow on their own. It shouldn’t interfere with flight, though, so she wasn’t too worried about it.

Shasarra flexed the limbs with surprising ease, and shot a glance at the blond woman. To all appearance, the healer did not belong in an army: she carried no weapons, had little musculature, and though her stature was relatively tall, it was not sturdy. Her hands were without callus, her hair and clothing free of battle-debris, which frankly perturbed the harpy, so used to being neck-deep in the gore of her foes. Nevertheless, she grudgingly acknowledged her respect for the cleric with a nod, taking off to stretch her sore muscles.

Carmen was just thinking about how nice it would be to sit down with a cup of tea, and perhaps play a signing-game with the Captain, when she was approached by a panicked-looking dark elf she recognized as Jivven. Unlike her superior officer, she was very good with names, even if she never got to say them. As soon as the words ‘Safir’ and ‘Pylarea’ were out of his mouth, she was running as close after him as she could, scarcely needing to be pulled along.

They came upon a standing structure of about two stories in height, and she was ushered in the front door without any further ado. The scene that met her eyes confused her, but she did not bother to hesitate. By now, she was completely exhausted from the exertions of the day, but she would not give that more than a passing consideration. Pylarea seemed to be bleeding from the head, but she was still conscious. Safir looked to have been tossed like a rag doll, and his neck was displaying a very worrisome injury, so it was to him that she went first.

His breath was shallow, and a closer examination of the wound revealed a pattern that she had never seen left by a physical weapon, blunt or sharp. This caused her brows to furrow, but right now the important thing was not what had happened, but how to fix it. Breathing deeply, Carmen closed her eyes and laid the pads of her fingers over his windpipe. Normally, contact was not essential, but because the wound was as much internal as external, it would be easier this way. Her own magic circulated around her lungs and heart, an unusual center for something that was usually found in either the head or the belly. Drawing it out in threads, she willed it to repair the damage, but it was slow going. A solid five minutes later, Safir’s throat was once again fully functional.

Attempting to stand, Carmen staggered, catching herself on Jivven’s shoulder, and tried to smile reassuringly at a rather traumatized-looking Pylarea. Motioning for the Nightmarian to lower her head, Carmen placed an index and middle finger on each temple. This was more delicate work, because she was working with anatomy around the brain, though it was far enough away from the vital functions that she felt comfortable healing it in this state.

The wound was jagged, and Carmen had to resist the urge to shiver. It looked like it had been torn off, not merely sliced. Stopping the bleeding was simple enough, but she didn’t know if the psychological implications would be as easy to cope with. That wasn’t really her area of expertise.

Cutting off the flow of magic, Carmen lowered her hands with that same mysterious smile and managed to conduct herself to an unused corner of the room, where she promptly curled up on the floor, hugging her knees to her chest and falling asleep.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea


Safir, Pylarea’s chosen company for the moment, was still choosing not to speak with the moth, and it seemed he did not even acknowledge her presence for all the Nightmarian could tell. Have I upset him in some fashion? Maybe I should not have bothered him after all. What could I do to cheer him up? Maybe nothing… The woman always fretted over such things, being raised as a noble, even if a minor one at that, forced a person to carefully examine every action and reaction to judge what it reflected upon the other’s inner-most thoughts and feelings concerning the environment around them. This was indoctrinated all the much more so in the female Nightmarians. By the looks of things it would just be best to wait for the human to open up in his own time, he was probably as exhausted as she was from the previous battle.

The time passed slowly as the two sat in their quiet little building, Safir feasting on his salvaged meal and Pylarea merely watching him and observing the building around her. Their solitude was interrupted though by the sounds of footsteps approaching. It is probably no more than just another Child coming to seek shelter for the night. I wonder if they will be more willing to converse than Safir. The man, or at least he looked like a man, approached them somewhat tentatively, but not strangely enough like he knew exactly what and who to suspect to find in the larder, and greeted them apologetically. Strange, I do not remember seeing him around before. Where was he while we fought the Civil?

He started to speak of smelling something, but quickly drifted off in mid-sentence when his eyes began to wander around Pylarea’s direction, it was probably the food located behind her. After regaining his composure he glanced at the moth again, which did not really register, it was not the first nor would it be the last time someone had taken notice of her looks, but what soon followed far from what Pylarea would have suspected. Some unknown force struck Safir and hurled the man across the room like a child would a rag-doll when throwing a tantrum. “By the Hive Mother, Did you just hit him with telekinesis?”

What… Before Pylarea could even finish her thought a force, what probably was the same one which had hit Safir, made contact with her skull. Her Arc Shell had proven much more capable of negating the blow than the human’s body, but it could not manage against the next three blows which slammed into her within a quick succession of the first. A darkness began descending over the girl’s eyes, enveloping her consciousness and awareness. The only thing that kept her from passing out completely was the fear which gripped her very soul. It was bone-chilling, something she had not felt since she was a child in Ecclavaria, this was a feeling the Nightmarian was very familiar with, and somehow she knew what was happening.

Hive…Mother? As the thought crossed her mind another blow cracked her skull yet again, forcing her to lose whatever ideas began connecting and the little grip she had left on staying awake. Even the fear could not keep her aware now as darkness enveloped her. The next four blows across her stomach and thighs barely even registered with her psyche, they seemed like illusions sent from some horrid nightmare would from long ago. This would soon change though. A blinding pain like none other seared through the Nightmarian, starting from her left antenna and coursing through her entire body like waves of fire. This brought her back to a semi-conscious state of being.

It seemed like an eternity passed before anyone else came. She could not keep track of the time from when the assailant left and whoever it was who found them started screaming. Who was that man? No, he cannot be a man….Hive Mother? How….why? It would take time before the woman could connect all the dots, right now all she could understand the pain, washing over her in waves of agony. Was it days before the others came? No, it could not have possibly been that long. Hours then? That still seems too unlikely. How could such a small span of time seem like an unending cycle? She lost count of the number of times her body throbbed with agony or shivered with an uncontrollable fear.

When it did start to dissipate though the moth could feel a warm presence near her, and whoever it could be was a kind and generous soul, but she could feel how tired they were. Pylarea did not know if she could maintain to same level of strength this person…no this woman was managing. It must be… It had to be the cleric Carmen. The presence seemed too familiar, caring, and exhausted to be anyone but Carmen. The Nightmarian finally regained some level of awareness of the situation around her, the screaming one form earlier must have been Jivven, and it was so strange to think of him doing something like that. Safir seemed to be alive at least, which was a miracle in and of itself, but Carmen was huddled up and sleeping on the floor like a newborn would.

The wounded moth crawled over slowly and lay next to the sleeping cleric, thankful that there were still kind people left in the world. It was always and miracle to find someone so kind in this time of hatred and evil. What could a weakling like herself do at a time like this? Things were no different than when she lived in Ecclavaria, a prisoner to her own brood. Tears began flowing as a powerfully as a river swollen with flood waters, but she refused to make a sound. Something had to change. She refused to be helpless anymore.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


--




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image "Nonsense, Nonsense!" Mercy bubbled, lightly punching the conservative dragonfly. "Call me up on that favor any time!" She shared the pleasure of the Vintage with Neira silently afterward. The stuff was far more potent than she recalled, but her extremely high tolerance to alcohol she built up over the years allowed her to down three-quarters of the bottle before the buzz started to set in. Once it did, it didn't take long for her to reach the boiling point. The rigid pace she set for herself never faltered, Mercy was quite used to drinking herself into a stupor while on the move. The concentration it took, however, killed some of the pleasantness of the vintage. However, she wasn't too far gone to ignore the company Neira provided her. Though she remained quiet for most of the journey, it was by no means awkward as Mercy constantly supplied a stream of inane rambling.

When Neira finally interjected with a question, Mercy had opened her mouth to reply, but surprisingly, had no answer. Scratching her head lazily, Mercy's face tilted toward the sky as she pondered about how to answer. Humming in unfocused thought, she took a swig of the near-empty bottle. "I'd say I think about it, but I don't miss it." She began, "This life and my past life are separate." Blushing slightly at the coherent poetry, she continued. "All my friends back there are probably dead now; A century is far too long to be gone when you live in the moment." Sighing, she took another long draught of liquid. "Even under these circumstances, I'm quite sure I can never return anyways."

The sun had set once more, but vision still came poorly to the drunken Nightmarian. Her voluminous red eyes winked erratically, and she let out a loud exclamation of relief when they finally stopped for the night. With the empty bottle swinging haphazardly from her hands, she stumbled over to the crater where she slumped over the edge, looking down at Neira and Wrath. "Hmm. Hmm." She hummed contentedly, observing their exchange with more interest in Neira's attempt at small talk than anything else. She had no real plans to conceal herself, She was far too inebriated to even try to do so. Just as well, She was far too exhausted to bother moving toward her tent, which she had very clumsily set up. In the end, one of her men had to help her, and though he said it was no trouble, the Nightmarian thought she sensed an irritable air from him.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Still reveling over the triumph earlier, He did not notice Pylarea come in. It was only when she offered to take the bed nearest that he raised his head, and gestured for her to do so. There was no need to be selfish, even such a small bed was enough for the big Knight. Setting down the food, he gestured for Pylarea to help herself while he quietly thought about what would happen next. However, Pylarea seemed a bit more talkactive than she was before all this. He wanted to answer, but her questions, unlike his own, were complex. The civil, as he knew it were not evil in the past. However, this begs the question "What truly is evil?" That was something Safir didn't know. Perhaps he spent too long formulating an answer, as Pylarea lost interest when Gatan entered. The human pugilist seemed like he wanted to crash or otherwise. However, before he could react, the man had gone for the food he had scrounged up.

Suddenly, a foreign impact sent Safir flying into the shelf nearest to him, and he was suddenly in a world of pain. The last thing he could hear before everything collapsed into a blur of pain and ragged breathing was Gatan. Did Pylarea do that? Why would she? Even as Safir's eyes squeezed shut and his face wrinkled to express his distress, he could not help but feel so betrayed. The rest of whatever happened next was lost to the Knight, as he struggled to merely continue breathing and trying not to die from suffocation.

As time passed, eventually he heard a voice break through the buzz of pain, an unfamiliar voice. Not too long afterward, he felt relief from an unknown comrade, and when he finally could breathe comfortably once more he opened his eyes. The dark elf, Jivven was present, as was Carmen. Massaging his throat, he felt that all was in order. As expected of the healer to perform her role so well. However, looking around he saw Pylarea. Before his rage could swell up, he noticed something off. She was on the ground, and one of her mandibles were missing. The way Carmen and Jivven fretted about her immediately stopped Safir from punching her in the face. He directed his ire toward Gatan instead, who had disappeared. He was about to say something about it, but his logical nature spoke to him. Why would Gatan attack so suddenly? It was more than likely he had created an alibi. He noted that Carmen had finished her duties, and decided to sleep in the corner.

"We all are equal, my ass." He grunted, picking her up and tossing her lightly onto the bed he claimed. Soon after he strode toward Jivven. "Thanks for calling for help." He said, raising his fist and lightly tapping him in the shoulder. As grateful as the Knight was, his visage was alive with anger and thoughts of revenge. However, going up to Gatan and slicing his head off would prove to be a bad idea. He would have to wait. His eyes finally turned toward the pitiful-looking Pylarea.

Safir could not possibly know what was going on in her head, but by the dead gods did she seem broken. He knelt down in front of her, trying to catch her gaze- but it proved to be an impossible venture. "It was my fault. I let my guard down around that bastard." He said after a minute. "Later, I request that you tell me what happened.. I could not see after the bout of telepathy. This won't happen again." He rose. Safir was far too angry and restless to sleep now. "I'm going out for a bit." A walk would do him better than lying awake and allowing his hateful thoughts to get the better of him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Basta
Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers

Things started happening faster than Zulii's fevered mind could process them. She started getting delirious from the poison, but through sheer willpower she continued hammering away at the dragon. So intense was her focus that even minutes after it collapsed, appearently dead, she kept up her assault. Finally, a nearby zombie bumped into her, breaking her trance and snapping her back into reality. With a fierce battle cry, Zulii waylayed the pitiful creature and began smashing a path back to her friends. The hammer and mace moved in twin threshing motions, fueled by their own momentum and not impeded in the slightest by the rotting, delicate flesh of the undead. Returning to friendly lines, Zulii let her weapons fall from her hands and sought shelter. The rest of the children could handle what remaining undead still milled about, no problem. In the meantime, she needed to sweat this poison out of her system.

The witch doctor shredded several wicker baskets to form a makeshift roost, miraculously discovering a jug of hotblood wine. Ready to begin the ritual, Zulii dipped her finger in a pool of blood nearby and used the crimson liquid to scribe several runes on her body. She then drained the jug in one long chug session, wiping her mouth and burping with satisfaction. Zulii quickly sat in the roost and began meditating, chanting the most difficult part of the incantation first so that the wine didn't cause her to mess up. She'd need the liquid later on as the magic pushed the poison out of her system, to replace the fluids lost. Without warning, the harpy slumped over and went completely limp, as if dead. If it werent for her snoring, one could easliy mistake her as such.

A few hours later, the harpy jerked awake suddenly, wondering where in the hell she was. Wincing at the firelight nearby, Zulii put one hand on her temple, grimacing at the terrible hangover she'd developed.

"Not greatest idea using hotblood wine for ritual. Next time, I find water," she complained to no one in particular. Staggering to her feet, she attempted to traverse the courtyard without spearing herself on any of the discarded implements of war still laying around. The nearest campfire ended up becoming her destination as she forgot where she had orginally intended to go. A few of the Children around the fire recognized her and laughed good-naturedly as they realized her plight. Equally magnanimous, Zulii flashed them a sign of disrespect. In her homeland, it would be cause for a fight to the death, but here it was the expected response and therefore recieved with more laughter.

Zulii settled in to eavsdrop on the stories her comrades were telling.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea & Gatan


Being an ant, an industrial Nightmarian, had its advantages. When you were programmed to think of nothing beyond the task at hand, anxiety rarely had a chance to set in. Gatan was more concerned with getting supplies for the march ahead rounded up than worrying if Pylarea or the human would nark on him. When his primitive mind did drift back to that possibility, Gatan scoffed. The moth was a weakling. Too used to taking commands and being domineered by those more powerful than she. The human male was another story. Gatan was unsure of how that one would proceed, but they had no proof Gatan had done anything wrong, so he was untroubled by this variable.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pylarea did not know if she was sleeping, harassed by nightmares of the past, or simply laying there awake trying to feign sleep, assailed by memories of long ago. Well, whatever the case be she knew that this could not continue on for much longer and after Carmen’s healing the dots began to connect to one another. I very well cannot be sleeping if I am able to think such as this. The moth brought herself to a semi-sitting position, leaning the weight of her body on her hands but keeping her waist and legs on the ground. The cleric was still sleeping peacefully, exhausted from the exertions of her tumultuous day.

It seemed everyone was enjoying the peaceful embrace of slumber except the Nightmarian and Safir, the human had come to her earlier and attempted to make some conversation, but she was in no way to open up at the moment. She was too preoccupied to even consider letting her guard down for even the briefest amount of time. He blamed himself for this attack, but how could he have known what was to happen? Safir soon stormed off in to the night’s dark embrace for some reason. Hopefully he did not try anything brash.

The assailant was merely biding his time when he could devour her without having to worry about anyone’s knowing, and she could feel his presence flittering about through their camp. He had to be some form of Nightmarian, there just was no doubt to that fact, and from his dietary preferences he came from The Wild. Their kind had been practicing cannibalism for far too long, and now it was practically a necessity.

The harsh realities of The Wild rarely pervaded into the commons of Ecclavaria, but the higher-castes were made aware of this fact in case they ever needed to travel outside of the Hive City’s safety. She had never witnessed any of these atrocities until fleeing the city for the Children none too long ago when the group she had been travelling with was attacked by foul creatures similar to the one earlier. Had it not been for the brave Mantis and Scorpion in their party they would have been overcome by the attackers, but still, all their power could not prevent their death.

I cannot sit idly by and wait. There must be something I can do, but what would that be? I am just a weakling moth….
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gatan forced himself to shed his instinctual tendency to collect and organize in order to take stock of what all he'd managed to accrue. As an ant-type, he rarely slept more than two to four hours at a time, leaving a great deal of time to be devoted to productive things. In the time that the other Children began bedding down, Gatan had gathered several crates of dried meats, salt, a bit of sugar, some syrups, oil, and a miscellany of other foodstuffs. It dimly occurred to the Nightmarian in disguise that getting together items like tinder and tools might prove useful, but he did not particularly care for fleshling-made crafts.

With his own antennae long amputated, Gatan's extrasensory was dull at best. His sense of smell was greatly diminished as a result, and any sense besides sight required near point-blank proximity to be effective. His ears were little more than vestigial nubs, the Nightmarian relying almost solely on his tremor-sense to gather information on the world around him. It'd been a few hours since the meal he'd made of Pylarea, but judging by her footfalls, Gatan assumed she was feeling better. Slowly, the ant turned away from his stockpile to look at the approaching moth. His face slowly spread in a demure smile.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It had not been very difficult to discover the creature’s location. Even though she was missing most of her left antenna her telepathic skill were far from crippled, and judging by the being’s lack of his own antenna he was using only his tremor-sense to detect her. She approached him cautiously, conveying a sense of both uncertainty and trepidation, there was no lying in her steps either, the moth was terrified and unsure of how this would play out. One wrong misstep and she would be devoured alive.

Gatan looked at Pylarea voraciously, the gleam in his eyes similar to a predator surveying its prey. His gaze forced the moth to reach up and grasp at her chest and clench the fabric of her tunic with an iron-grip. The ant started to wake towards her hungrily, but before he could make two paces the woman shuffled back quickly. “Please, I don’t want to die. I will do anything you want, just...please let me live.” His hearing may not have been the best, but he could hear well enough to distinguish the sincerity in Pylarea’s voice.

This wasn’t exactly how he wanted everything to play out, and by no means did he care one bit about leaving her in one piece, it had been so long since he had feasted on a fellow Nightmarian’s flesh and even then he had never tasted anything so succulent as the moth’s, but he was no fool either. The girl was a fine slab of meat, and there was no use wasting a good play thing before he had all the fun he could want out of it. Fine then, if she thinks it’ll save her skin, I’ll just have to taste that flesh after I’ve had my fill.

“Oh really, d’ you think you got somethin’ I want? I have a ravenous appetite, and you might not be willing or capable enough to give me my fill.”

“No, I will, believe me I will!” She sounded eager and hopeful, like a rabbit who thought the only hole left open was its salvation. Creatures could be so foolish when they thought there was hope.

“Well fine then. Let’s see how you do then. Come here.” Gatan was not one to mince his words or waste any time. Instead of listening to his commands the girl actually began backing up even more. She was right next to the tree line, outside of the camp’s fires’ reach. “What’re you doing? I said come here!” This was making Gatan most unpleased. Maybe he should just take a bit while taking advantage or her body.

Pylarea would not stop until completely outside of the light of the campfires, this meant Gatan could no longer see her, but he could tell where she was using is tremor sense. She did not walk but maybe five feet into the forest itself. “You should come out here away from the spying eyes of the camp. Please, I will make it worth your while.”

The ant was thoroughly enraged that he would have to go through such hardships just to sate a hunger or two with the girl. What does he care what any of the others see or think about him? Bah, what the hell. I might as well play along with her little games. Gatan began to walk towards his newfound plaything, hiding in the dark like a shy little maid. Honestly, women could be so self-conscious and fretted about the most trifling of matters. Who cared if they copulated in the middle of his stockpile? He would take her in front of the dragon’s tent if the beast didn’t care!

Something strange began happening as he stepped into the darkness of the woods though. It was as if a vice had clamped down onto, but very slowly, he didn’t notice it at first, no his movements just started slowing down minutely, yet it wasn’t long before it felt like a swamp was engulfing his body. What’s happening? The blood should make me stronger than this! Soon enough it was taking the pugilist all of his might just to shake his appendages, but no matter how hard he tried his mouth would not move nor the muscles in his throat allow for any sound to escape.

“Did you like seeing me in pain earlier?” His arms began to extend slowly, not from any lack of ability on Pylarea’s part, but because the beast in front of her was very powerful, indeed she would never be able to compete with him if he was to have understood the true danger she posed. It took nearly all of her might to bend the outstretched arms backwards at the elbows; she could hear every fiber of his body rip and tear slowly as he fought with every ounce of his being.

“Was I delicious? Tasty enough for seconds or even a four-course meal?” While she was stating these hypothetical questions Pylarea focused her attention upon his hidden secundi, they were easier to bend backwards now that she need not worry about his arms, but the process was still slow going as he was able to focus more attention on them as well. It was futile though. He may be powerful, but he was unprepared for this assault.

“Was it as fun for you as it is for me?” Venom dripped from the moth’s words as she locked in on the creature’s legs. Maybe she should not leave him in too bad of a spot so that Carmen’s job would not be too difficult in the morning. The poor girl was tired enough as is without her adding on the workload. Instead of forcing his knees back as the rest of his limbs she was content with merely snapping his ankles. Actually, she was unsure as to if she even could have broken the creature’s knees, it had taken nearly all of her current effort just to do the same to his arms, and his legs would obviously prove much stronger than they were.

“If you ever attack me again, or anyone of the fellow Children, I will crush you.” There was nothing but sincerity in the Nightmarian’s voice. She would not budge on this demand, and if need be she might have to risk her life by killing him. That would be a most undesired outcome from Aesr’s point-of-view. Whatever the case, all Pylarea wanted to do now was sleep in peace. She continued back into the light of the camp grounds and went back to the little two-story house where she found Carmen sleeping peacefully. The moth lay down next to her in the bed Safir had placed her and drifted off easily into the realm of slumber.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
The Paragon

The Crater


Irritating was one of the more pleasant words that came to mind when describing the psion's mood. Dark elves were not the tallest, nor the most sturdily built of the mortal races. Stereotypical magic-users were even less physically inclined, usually relying so heavily on their spellcraft that they forget what it is like to be without it. Under the atramentous sky of night, the darkling Xeron subjected himself to such an unpleasant station.

The camp was better than earlier in the evening, Xeron mused, when the sky had been clearer. Now that clouds were beginning to amass above, most of the night-owls were relocating to the communal tents and erecting tarps over less protected areas of camp. Xeron was thankful to not have to shove his way past more stinking soldiers. He was already sore and tired from the ordeal. One bright spot from all of this was the surprise that came with his arrival. Every member of the Paragon was required to know their active commanding officers by name and appearance at the very least. The fact that Xeron spent most of his time shrouded in invisibility meant that a majority of the newer soldiers had only caught a glimpse of Xeron or, more likely, knew of him by reputation alone. To see the scarred darkling robed in red trudging around with the rest of the footmen was dissimilar to say the least, and disconcerting to those that knew of his peculiar habits.

Having to ask where the general was and interact with the peons was a chore in Xeron's opinion, despite the necessity. Eventually the dark elf caught wind of Wrath wandering in to the depression at the edge of camp.


Wrath's hand fell to the hilt of a sword that was no longer at his waist. After taking a moment to tell himself that the voice was one that he knew to be friendly, or at least as friendly as a nightmarian could be, Wrath flexed his sword arm and gave Neira a once-over. A sudden rush of blood left a prickling warmth crawling across the human's skin. Wrath fought back a scowl. It was nothing compared to what Neira evoked in him when they first met, but it was still uncomfortable to want something your mind did not desire as well. The sharp tinge of liquor helped with the last part.

"I'm actually not sure. It looks valuable," he said, staring in t the faucets of the crystal a bit longer before pocketing it. He stared at Neira blankly, waiting for whatever other smart-ass remarks that she may have had. None were forthcoming, and Wrath was pleasantly surprised to receive a bottle of oddly accented wine.

"How...generous. Offering a man something that could kill him." Wrath took a swig and immediately grimaced, his voice coming out in a hoarse rasp. "How romantic." already feeling the sharp pinpricks that heralded the death of sobriety, Wrath went for broke and downed the remainder of the ecclavarian liquor. It reminded him of that mushroom beer that dark elves served to 'uncouth' races in their establishments, but a hundred-times more potent than that watered down swill. After a moment or two to let the buzz set in, Wrath moved over to make room on the rock. "Alright, Neira. Tell me a story."

Wrath drew one leg up to his chest and crossed his arms over the knee, resting his head on his forearms as he stared at the nightmarian. His pupils were already dilating and his breathing was slowed down somewhat.


Xeron sneered as he came upon the lip of the crater. It was the closest he would come to jealousy before reminding himself that Neira could not possibly have any interest in such a boorish fellow as Wrath. The whisper of robes gliding against flesh accompanied a pair of sharp gestures as Xeron rendered his form transparent. Had he been visible, his pain would have been obvious by the way he rubbed his temples. Xeron immediately shook off the discomfort and descended the incline. Without so much as a misplaced pebble to mark his passing, Xeron slipped the stone from Wrath's pocket and fled the scene.


The Children of Fire


It felt like days that he rested on the ground in that recumbent pose, supine and vulnerable. Gatan knew from past experience that pain was not that kind, and time slowed to a crawl when caught in pain's loving embrace. It could not have been more than a few minutes since the moth left him lying there. To his credit, Gatan did not cry out as the muscular fibers in his arms began knitting back together. Worker-caste nightmarians were required to be durable, as 'sick-leave' did not exist in their society. To stop working during work-hours meant immediate and severe 'reassignment'.

The first thing he could move again with only a minor degree of agony was a secundi, followed by the other. Without missing a beat the ant nightmarian hid the damaged limbs against his torso, making it appear as if he had bruised ribs. Next came the ankles. Pylarea's break was uneven, and one was much more damaged than the other. With a growl of annoyance more than anger, Gatan rose to his one good foot and limped back to camp. He stumbled several times, and righted himself each time without complaint. By the time Gatan made it back to the fires, he was more or less waking straight. The pugilist sat down cross-legged in front of the flame and stared in to the burning depths with blank eyes.

A cold fire welled up within the disguised nightmarian. It went beyond simple concepts like hunger and revenge. Gatan felt...threatened. Unsure. He realized that for the first time since leaving Umbridge, there may be foes that he can not best with might alone. The edge of his lips quirked up in a ghost of a smile. Gatan was never one for not trying.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Feng Tao

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Paragon
The Imperian, Crater


“Life sucks if you don’t take a risk every once in a while,” Neira pointed out, though what was originally intended to be a somewhat-lighthearted jab wound up sounding rather more grave then she’d intended.

Well, that was more than enough of that. She chuckled when Wrath asked for a ‘story,’ sinking down crosslegged on the rock beside him. It was a mirthless sound, and she shook her head slightly even as she let her arms rest loosely, draped over her knees in a vague approximation of mediation posture. “Well, I’m no loose-tongued minstrel, but I shall endeavor, o general.” Her eyes narrowed suddenly, locking on a spot just to one side of him. She could have sworn… but no, that must be the alcohol.

Sighing slightly- before she stopped herself anyway- Neira relaxed a bit, looking somewhere into the middle distance. “Understanding nightmarians would be impossible if you didn’t understand how the Hive works. There are people who live outside of it, of course, savages who feed on the flesh of their fellows.” She sounded almost a tad wistful about that, though her mouth dropped into a frown. “I can’t imagine why- it tastes awful. At any rate, the rest live in Ecclavaria, the great hive-city.

From the moment you’re born to it, you understand- your life is meaningless. You exist only to serve the Queen in the way that your subspecies has always done so. That much is mostly common knowledge, I suppose. Perhaps being a laborer is as awful as it sounds, but it’s nowhere near as dangerous as being a queenspawn. The males don’t have to worry too much- most of them are handed off to other high-caste families. The females, though… well, one of them will be queen someday. The chances of being picked are greater when your sisters are fewer, so you can imagine what happens.

It’s called the Game, and they play it like their lives depend on it, which I suppose they do. The thing is, direct murder isn’t allowed, so you have to get creative about it if you want to win. It’s rather amusing, watching all of them plot and scheme to take each other down, but they never do realize that this as much as anything else is hardwired into their systems. The Queen is a psion of immense power, and it’s all her. I expect what the dragons do to their initiates is an attempt to replicate that control,” the last part was mused thoughtfully, as though she hadn’t bothered to consider it before, and she leaned back on her hands.

“She instills in them the drive to eliminate the competition, but also the inability to assault each other directly. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s actually necessary or if she just does it all for her own amusement. Either way, I suppose it’s fun to watch. You know there’s only ever been one actual murder in the Hive-city? Apparently, one of the spawn found some way around the compulsion.” She shrugged. “Aren’t you glad you were born elsewhere?” Inwardly, she was wondering if perhaps it would be wise to stay well away from the Ecclavarian vintage in the future, but well… she was hardly one to curb most of her vices.



The Children of Fire
The Imperian, Camp



About what does a mute cleric dream? Looking at Carmen, all that would be readily discernible was that whatever the content of her somnolent thoughts, it was most unpleasant. At some point, she reached out unconsciously and found Pylarea’s arm, grasping the nightmarian moth gently by the wrist and elbow, as if to keep herself anchored to the realm of the waking somehow.



Shasarra was still seated by the campfire when Zulii made her hungover appearance, and she chuckled along with the rest at her fellow harpy’s rude gesture. She’d had more than a few adventures at the wrong end of a bottle of hotblood wine herself, though admittedly she could only remember about half of them.

As things settled back down, though, she resumed her story, a rather amusing yarn about a harpy prince who dressed as a woman to escape from his mother’s flock. When she got to the part about his sister recognizing him, and summoning the rest of the flock, there were several loud guffaws that brought her to a stop before she continued. “Nobody really knows what happened after that,” she finished mysteriously. “Some say he flew fast enough to evade them all and ran off to join the Paragon. Others think he flew too close to the sun in his efforts to escape and died of heatstroke. Still more are certain he was recaptured or eaten by Balenforethus himself.” The woman shrugged as if to say it didn’t really matter, then turned over the mantle of storyteller to whomever wanted it.



Tao was running his usual halfhearted patrol around the fringes of the camp, checking that the perimeter guards were all still awake. One poor sod had woken to see the captain hovering over him, blade drawn, and nearly fallen over himself with prostrate apologies. Tao had smiled, then, in a way that was not at all comforting, and resheathed the liuyedao at his hip. The man was still whispering prayers to his ancestors for both thanks and future protection, but he certainly wouldn’t be sleeping again until he was well and truly off-duty.

Folding his hands inside his sleeves, Tao did not bother to disguise the slight scuffing sound his wooden footwear made on the ground. He was dutifully stopped by every sentry, which satisfied him, though he made a note to see if they’d notice him were he silent. They’d know if a group approached, but a single assailant? That wasn’t as easy to tell. He knew that at the very least, the Paragon had a dedicated battalion of nothing but assassins, and very skilled ones at that. The Civil and Savage seemed less concerned with that sort of thing, but it didn’t mean they were incapable of it either.

He’d been sent here to do a job, and both because of and in spite of his mission, he was going to prepare these troops as well as he could.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jivven Noda'Razzr


"Well, I couldn't quite let you choke to death, now could I? What if I need a meat shield later on down the line?" Jivven asked Safir in jest. A bit too late as then he realized the livid stare the knight held. Jivven hoped Safir wouldn't take offense and pop his head like a bloody bubble. Truth be told, after the joining under Nihalistrix and becoming one of many of her Children, Jivven found himself rather attached to the members of Aesr's squad. What with them fighting and surviving their first battle against the Civil undead and seemed to further that bond. Of course, he'd rather die than let them know that explicitly and he didn't feel quite like dying anytime soon.

Then the knight spoke to the moth Pylarea and stated he was going for a walk. In a low voice, Jivven warned, "Don't do anything reckless." True Jivven had no idea what had transpired nor how the pair ended up in such a condition. It did serve as a reminder though, to never let his guard down, even near friends. Though he felt a connection with the unit, it didn't mean he had to trust them fully. "Anyway, if you're going out, I suppose I'll stay in here and keep an eye on our Cleric and Moth," he said as if he was doing Safir a favor. As Safir stormed out of the house Jivven strode to the darkest corner of the house and sat, shedding his white robes for the black cloak underneath. He was almost invisible in the low light if not for his white hair screaming, 'here I am'.

Before long, the Moth left the house as well. Jivven opted to not say anything to her, as she had the look of a woman on a mission. Besides, he wasn't her babysitter, she could do whatever she wanted. He just wacthed as she strode out of the house, and like that it, it was quite once more except for the rhythmic breathing of Carmen. So peaceful, so serene, so... Pure. It was almost precious. Still, it was at this point Jivven began to slip into sleep himself. Later, Jivven's light slumber was broken by a sound of an approaching entity. His hand tightened around a throwing knife as his assassin conditioning dictated, but was proved unnecessary. It was only the returning Pylarea. That was good, she seemed to not gotten herself killed. Jivven couldn't help but grin when Pylarae chose to sleep in the bed with Carmen. Feeling a tad bit awkward, he grabbed his white robes and walked over to the window.

"Sweet dreams," he muttered as he took a step out of the window and grabbed onto the lip of the roof- easily pulling himself up to the roof. He made his way to the middle of the roof and sat crossed-legged, watching over the interior of the camp from his perch. His natural balance and control ensured he wouldn't fall off anytime soon. So he closed his eyes and listened to the inner workings of the camp until he drifted off to sleep himself.




Liliana Bloodleaf

"I believe in the compelling power of love. I do not understand it. I believe it to be the most fragrant blossom of all this thorny existence."
~Theodore Dreiser

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image Kisikoni wasn't too sure when he became aware of it, but when he did, he was aware of a very heavy cloud in his head. It numbed all coherent thoughts, and deadened his limbs. The fogginess persisted, attempting to relax him back to nothingness, but Kisikoni had the desire to know where he was. Incidentally, he finally found out how to open his eyes with that thought. Lifting his heavy eyelids slowly, his sight slowly adjusted to the new environment. He lethargically became aware of the fact that he was in the medical tent. After some extremely sluggish deductive reasoning, he came to the conclusion that he was drugged. He must have been in a lot of pain. Nobody was around, he was secluded. Confused as why he would wake up in the middle of a drug session, he was even more perplexed at why he felt like he couldn't fall asleep again. With half-lidded eyes, he let his head lie back after having it move around to ascertain his location. Perhaps this was a good time to reflect.

It felt like an eternity since he became a part of the ostracized legion and cooperated with the Reds. It felt like multiple eternities since his quiet life in the tunnels. The darkness, the dampness, and the lack of space seemed almost hostile to him now, after spending so much time above ground. If Kisikoni had figured out how to work the muscles in his jaw, he would have sighed. His thoughts eventually drifted to more mundane things, such as life, death, friends, and foes. He had almost forgotten the snide voice in his head, but eventually it wormed it's way through the fog in his mind. It began talking in a mocking tone, but in his half-conscious state, he couldn't comprehend anything it was saying. Instead, he began chuckling foolishly at the buzzing in his ear, and the voice fell silent. The laughing continued well after the voice stopped talking to him, but eventually his thoughts allowed him to focus on his situation, and what he actually was. At the moment, he was half-inclined not to care. There was so much death and sadness that he almost wanted it to overtake him, and leave him completely and blissfully ignorant to everything. On the other hand, he met so many unforgettable characters. It was a mental back-and-forth that happened almost every time Kisikoni was alone now, and what tipped the balance in the favor of staying in control was one thing. His one anchor.

His expressionless gaze sparked slightly, but he continued to lie in his bed, unable to move.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Before long, Mercy was utterly bored of the exchange. She was quite amused when she saw Wrath readily accept the liquor, seemingly for the first time, but when Neira started rattling off about things she already knew, Mercy realized that nothing that would keep her interest would come up. The rock that both Wrath and Neira were examining was interesting, to be honest, but in what way would a simple meteorite help or hurt them? It was a bloody clump of minerals. She was, to some degree, aware of another presence. One that wasn't of the drunken three hanging out in a bloody crater. She turned and took note of a robed person, who almost immediately thereafter wiped himself from view.

"That doesn't work on me, hon." She sang in soft tone, turning her gaze back toward Wrath. Struggling to focus in her drunken stupor, she could have sworn she saw Wrath's pocket shift slightly and a soft glow emanating from the pocket suddenly vanish. Blinking erratically, she decided to question the General later, if she could even remember. Either way, it was very surprising that whoever-it-was hadn't noticed her rather promiscuous form. Maybe it was her ark shell. She always did take care to dull the pieces so it blended perfectly with the darkness.

There wasn't much to do here anymore, so she decided to turn her voluminous red eyes away and stumble back toward camp. Passing along the rows of mostly dark canvases, she heard some rather revealing noises every now and then. Mercy allowed herself a silly grin, regretting the fact that she had no clue which tent was which and therefore could not tease them later on. Staggering along, she finally reached what was believed to be her tent. Peeping inside, she saw her pack of belongings, and sighed in relief. Settling herself right down, she tried to drink from her bottle before she realized it was empty. Pouting, she chose to go to sleep instead.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


The night air was refreshing as Safir stomped his way around the outskirts of the camp, taking unconscious care not to disturb anybody in their sleep. To be honest, the thought of revenge at this stage wasn't considered in total seriousness. His sword, unbuckled and prepped to be maintained was left back on his bed, and the straps on his armor were loosened to allow some comfort and easier breathing. He was fuming quite badly over the events despite the cool air and calming atmosphere, so much so that he wondered if he could beat the Nightmarian in a fistfight now and teach him a lesson. However, in a straight beat-down, Gatan surely had the advantage.

After making a lap around the city, an impressive feat with an entire suit of armor and a fatigued body, he made back for the building. If he wasn't so tired, he would have noticed Jivven, dozing lightly on the roof of the building. An amusing sight indeed, though unnoticed by everyone nearest to him. Entering the building, he noted the irregularly large form on his bed. Carmen wasn't that fat. Apparently, Pylarea had decided to snuggle up