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Thread: Flight From Ironheart IC

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    Barbarian in the Playground
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Jan 2008
    MD, DC area

    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC


    When Klaus washed his hands of the elves' fate, Pyrene paused, gazing at them for a moment before shaking her head and helping the old man gather the things they would need. When Countess Amelia mentioned Duke Volesin, Pyrene felt a chill that could not be warded off by her new cloak, but she said nothing until they went outside. Then, while Klaus readied the sleigh, she asked Garthax to stand watch and turned to discuss their destination with the Countess. She launched into her thoughts with no preamble.

    "I think going directly to the King is too dangerous right now. The capital is too far away, and if you are correct we would have hunting parties from the Baron and elven scouts searching for us the entire distance. I do not think Duke Volesin would be as willing to protect you as you believe either." She hesitated. "Particularly if I am with you. Edward and Alphonse Volesin were working in Ironheart, and I am responsible for their deaths. More importantly, for you, I believe they were there of their own free will, though I gathered that they had not been allowed to return home since their arrival. The Duke's influence is worse than useless if he does not use it in your favor, and I fear he may well favor the Baron instead. Viscount Damont is a safer bet. He may have less influence, but we can be certain he will use it to aid you."

    Their destination decided, the small group of fugitives loaded into the sleigh and set off. They rode in silence for a while, wary lest they encounter more elves or the Baron's hunters, but they saw no one. Pyrene soon realized that either it had been later in the day than she realized when she woke, or else night came sooner to the mountains than it did in the plains cities to which she was accustomed, for after only a few hours of travel the light began to disappear. Klaus found a wide-mouthed cave deep enough to bring the sleigh inside and still give them plenty of shelter, declaring that they would stay there for the night. Though he would allow only a small, smokeless fire, the women were grateful for its warmth and sat as close as they could without scorching their new clothing. Once the watch schedule was established (Klaus had the first watch, Pyrene the second), Pyrene turned to the noblewoman beside her.

    "Countess, would you let me try a magic with you? She asked it with uncharacteristic timidity, not sure what the reaction would be. "Looking at the elves earlier, I thought of something the mage did, before I met you. I think, if you are willing to let me try, I might be able to see into your memory. Only, if it does work, I don't know how much of my mind you might be able to see at the same time. I don't... Most of my past is not very pleasant."

    Pyrene stopped, unable to say that she trusted the Countess, at least a little, or that she had never trusted anyone since leaving her home city. The noblewoman looked at her for a moment, then nodded and said simply, "What do you want me to do?"

    "Focus on one memory... back in the carriage you said that someone else might try to rescue you. Think about when you met him."

    Taking a deep breath, Pyrene gently touched the tips of the index, middle, and ring fingers of her right hand to the center of Countess Amelia's forehead. Summoning the magic within her, Pyrene focused on the other woman. At first nothing happened. Then, suddenly

    Pyrene was standing (or perhaps sitting - she didn't seem to have a body so it was impossible to be sure) in a vast, unlit room. All around her were small, roughly rectangular moving images, and Pyrene understood these to be memories. Without warning she began rushing past them, or perhaps it was they that flew past her, not stopping until one particular image hung suspended before her eyes. She realized that this was the memory she had asked the Countess to focus on, and that she could, if she chose, turn away and examine another memory. But no, Countess Amelia trusted her, and Pyrene refused to break that fragile bond. She turned her attention to the memory before her and

    Pyrene's world was made up of pain. Pain and panic. She was vaguely aware that she was babbling, that there were others somewhere beyond the curtain of blonde hair covering her face, but all her attention was on the pain and her frantic, fearful thoughts. Screaming pain in her dislocated shoulders and panicked knowledge that she had to get away, that she was helpless, that her torturers could come back and hurt her more, that they hadn't only because
    he wanted to do it himself, later, after she was-

    She was falling, the pain in her shoulders mercifully less, though she nearly screamed at the touch of the stranger who caught her. She could see nothing through the hair that had fallen into her face some time before, and her blindness increased her panic. Despite this newcomer's evident care for her shoulders, all she could think was that he could not possibly be rescuing her.

    "Now that's done... Who are you and why are you here?" The voice was deep, hoarse, but not unkind - or at least, not now. A slight accent marked him as coming from this very Barony, like many of her guards and tormentors, but had she heard this particular voice before? She could not remember.

    "Good lord, Korram, she's just had a panic attack, give her a moment. Whenever you're ready, miss," added a second voice, that of the man holding her, as he set her down on something that was warm, soft, furred, and, judging by the way it moved with her when she shifted, alive. This man's voice was higher, though just as hoarse, and he had a slightly thicker accent than his companion, one which Pyrene could not identify. If he was a torturer, he had never spoken in her presence before now.

    Now there was near silence, the loudest sound being her own rapid breathing. She smelled burnt flesh and vaguely remembered that there had been sounds of fighting after the guard had set her swinging. These would be escaped prisoners then; hard, cruel men who had cut her down only because she was female and they could...

    The images her mind presented were too horrible to dwell on, but the alternative was scarcely better, if they had freed her on
    his orders. For several moments she sat shivering, twiching and jerking every time she imagined one of the men had come closer, her mind fearfully repeating that whatever was going on, it could not be a rescue, that she was still helpless, at the mercy of strangers, that she needed to get out of here. At last the tension of not being able to see what was happening became unbearable, and with a violent motion that jarred her choulders, she managed to flip the sweat-matted hair out of the right side of her face.

    Pyrene's eyes widened as she saw the two men who watched her, seemingly wary but concerned, from a few feet away. One of the men was short, wiry, and unhealthy looking, with a prominent tattoo of a tiger on his branded arm. His shaved head, thin lips, and crooked nose might have given him a cruel look if not for his eyes, which were large, pale blue, and childishly peaceful. The other escaped prisoner was nearly as different as it was possible to be. Tall, lean, and muscular, she barely even noticed his disheveled black hair and grim red eyes, for her attention was drawn to his right forearm, which appeared to be... on fire.

    Her eyes narrowed and she chewed her lower lip nervously as she took in the dead elites and slight wounds on the prisoners.
    “I . . . I am not sure . . . that I can trust you. I mean, that awful man . . . he has sworn not to mar my body, but there are many tortures to inflict on the mind that leave not a single mark. I dare not hope that this is anything other than a sick game. I can’t afford to trust . . . danger lurks on every side . . . I have to get out of here. I have to!”

    Hearing the panicked note in her voice, Pyrene shook her head violently, biting down on her lip until she tasted blood. The coppery tang reminded her of the foul potion the guards had forced her to drink only minutes ago. Taking a deep breath, she shuddered a bit as her shoulders protested, then forced a smile onto her face as she looked back up at the men.

    “I am sorry. I think I’ve been poisoned. The guards . . . ever since they forced that vile brew down my throat I’ve been overcome with the greatest sense of unease. My heart is positively racing, even as it should be slowing in this moment of calm. My every sense screams at me not to trust you; my sudden inexplicable rescue at your hands suggesting that this is a trick, for who would know to look for me here? And I would not expect most prisoners, if that is what you would claim to be, to act so nobly in this instance. Even if you could overpower two guards such as these, there are many more and escape from this place is impossible. I have heard that only the worst scum throughout the kingdom is sent to this dark place, and so should I not expect two such prisoners to seek to inflict as much carnage as possible before being restrained once more? The fact that you are helping me rather than taking advantage suggests that you both are something more than prisoners.”

    She smiled again, this time in genuine amusement at herself, and at the slightly thunderstuck expressions of her companions. It seemed they had not expected her to doubt their intentions. “I am sorry, I seem to be rambling. Giving voice to my thoughts seems to be the only way I can keep my head clear of the fear. In any case, if you are guards in disguise, then you already know who I am and there is nothing to lose by playing along with your feigned ignorance. If you must know, I am the Countess Amelia Ashargrin. And I believe that my crime, if you could call it that, would be refusing to marry a certain son of the Baron of Gast’s. No doubt the Baron thought to ally our two provinces through marriage, and that I would be easily convinced after my father’s recent death. I refused to be manipulated into marrying that pathetic freak of a man, and thus angered him and his father both greatly. One night I was abducted from my manor, and several days later I found myself here. I was told that I could leave whenever I wanted, provided that I agreed to marry the Baron’s son. But I will not yield to abuse anymore than I yielded to the Baron’s less obtuse methods of coercion. So, now then, is this charade at an end or are you going to continue it by telling me your 'names'?”

    The big man nods. "I am sorry. I did not mean to pressure you. Let me see if I can answer some of your questions. My name is Korram Alstan, and this is my..." He paused. "This is Dima. We broke free at around the same time, and we are currently attempting to escape from Ironheart. We weren't specifically looking for you, rather we stumbled upon the connecting chamber and decided to investigate, as neither of us are bad people, despite our current surroundings. I was a revolutionary against the Baron. Dima was a thief. As for your belief about us being guards...we just killed two elite guards. And we both have abilities which can only be described as...unusual." He motioned with his fire arm, as if she could have missed it. "Do you require any further proof of our identities?"

    "Not just a thief," clarified the small man, Dima. "But a thief-in-law. I follow the Code." He slapped the tiger tattoo, like a salute. "No ordinary thief would have a tattoo like this. And anyway, you are also in this prison. We have no reason to trust you, either. You could be some kind of ... " He paused, searching for the right word. "Enchantress. Whether you're a dangerous criminal or not, all I know is that it's not right to torture people like they were torturing you."

    Pyrene smiled slightly at the attempts to reassure her, took another deep breath, and tried to organize her thoughts. “My panic is telling me that you killed two men
    dressed as elite guardsmen. And the Warden and his master the Baron most certainly employ individuals with . . . unique talents such as yourselves. I do not know if there is anything you can say or do that will put my mind at ease right now.”

    Pyrene let out a bark of laughter with no real humour in it, then grimaced as the movement translated to her already painful shoulders. “Nor, do I expect, is there anything that I can do to convince you that I am a Countess and not an . . . Enchantress. If we somehow accomplish the impossible and are able to return to my home, then I assure you that I could provide a great deal of evidence as to my heritage.”

    This was the wrong thing to say, as acknowledging the impossibility of the situation triggered another anxiety attack. Closing her eyes, she focused on taking deep breaths and forcing down the panicked, paranoid thoughts that wanted to burst out of her mouth, shuddering with the effort it took to do so. When she felt she had herself under control again, she opened her eyes with a sigh.

    "Now then, is it your intention to express your own distrust of me by keeping me prisoner? Otherwise I should very much like my hands to be untied and something to be done about my injured shoulders. Neither is helping me suppress the growing urge to run wildly about the room, screaming madly.”

    Korram left the room without a word, only to return seconds later, tying a sleeve of what appeared to be much abused leather over his flaming arm. I can't do much about your hands without hurting you," he explained, "but I can reset your will just be somewhat painful. Acceptable?"

    Pyrene swallowed hard and clenched her jaw, imagining the current pain magnified, but nodded. Korram approached carefully, in much the same way she had seen grooms approach a spooked horse. Gently but firmly, he took a grip on her right biceps and elbow. Without warning he lifted and twisted the arm, eliciting a shriek of agony, followed by a second scream an instant later as he moved to the left side and repeated the process. As soon as the job was done, Korram was backing away, even as Pyrene realized that the pain in her shoulders had subsided to a mild and easily tolerable ache.

    Smiling a little uncertainly at her unusual saviors, Pyrene felt a tide of relief and gratitude push back the drug-induced paranoia. "You have my gratitude, sir. I cannot imagine any guard showing such kindness or care. In spite of my feelings or the impossible coincidence of your sudden arrival, I shall trust you both with my life.”

    "That's enough," said Pyrene aloud, opening her eyes and stepping out of the Countess's mind as easily as if she had done it a hundred times before. Instantly the pain of the memory retreated, leaving not the faintest echo in Pyrene's own shoulders. A glance at the fire and quick question directed to Klaus confirmed that they had been sitting there motionless for just under ten minutes - approximately the length of time it had taken for the original memory to be created.

    "That was... interesting. I never would have thought Korram Alstan was the man you hoped to see. In any case, what did you experience while the spell was in effect? Did... did you see...?" Pyrene listened intently to whatever the Countess had to relate, making mental notes for the next attempt.

    "If you would like, I can try to show you the first good people I met in Ironheart as well," she offered, gently touching the Countess's arm.

    {{OOC: If the Countess agrees, Pyrene will attempt to show her the conversation with the Judge, particularly the part where they describe their crimes and how they became the Judge. She will also attempt to do this without moving her hand from the noblewoman's arm (to find out if she has to be touching the forehead, or if any contact will do).}}
    Last edited by Lonna; 2009-06-16 at 08:16 PM.
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