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  1. - Top - End - #121
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Umber looked up at the golem. Oh, I've got no problem with the walking dead. Hell, I AM the walking dead - though admittedly I'm better looking and a snappier dresser than most zombies. But unfortunately, the necromancer we're talking about doesn't always wait for his subjects to die of natural causes. In fact, he generally prefers unnatural causes. Then there's all the soul-theft. And the torture. And other, less pleasant activities. He's not a nice fellow. Still, I've got no problem with any of that - I'm primarily worried that whatever he's got planned could adversely affect myself and my young friend here. Ergo I'll probably have to do something about it.

  2. - Top - End - #122
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Pyrene

    "Walking I can do. Running?... I'll manage if I have to." Standing, Pyrene moved to the end of the bed, where there were fewer obstacles between herself and the door. The movement also, not entirely incidentally, put her between the door and Countess Amelia. She had known the Countess wouldn't care for her profession, but the disapproval still stung more than she had expected it would. Nevertheless, that didn't erase Pyrene's debt to her. "If these are soldiers, I'll see if I can manage an illusion to disguise you. If it works that should throw the Baron off the scent for a while." There was pause, in which Pyrene didn't meet the noblewoman's eyes. "I know you don't care for the way I've lived my life, but my sister has nothing to do with that. If I... get separated from you... please, remember Ariella."
    Last edited by Lonna; 2009-04-01 at 06:16 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #123
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Dattan

    While the others patch up the wounded mans foot, Dattan looks around for a way to escape.

    "We can't stand here and wait for any more of those dogs to catch up. You two help him and lets keep moving."

    ooc - Barring any seemingly alternative routes, we will continue to quick walk perpendicular, if an hour passes without incident we will turn to begin traveling away from the prison again.
    Annoying Gamer says - Hollywood is sooooooooo unoriginal. Hey, check out my dual wielding drow Drazzit!

    Annoying Gamer says - My level 1 character's background is pretty complex. After fighting in the three great wars, he was forced to return home and kill an elder dragon single handily.

  4. - Top - End - #124
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Meltemi's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Ruya

    Ruya helped the girl with the water, getting the cup for her and helping her hold it. To her surprise, the girl shrunk away as she moved to help, clearly frightened. She warned Ruya of the other vampire, showing the bite marks on her neck, and Ruya blinked, even more surprised. She shook her head sharply. “Don't worry. I'm not one of them, and I won't eat you.” She lifted her upper lip to show her teeth to the girl. “No fangs.” She began to work on the invisibility circle, tracing the marks lightly into the floor, but looked up at the girl every so often in concern in case she needed something else. “Only the vampire can see through this invisibility spell," she said, explaining as she worked, “and he thinks I'm hiding from him in the streets rather than up here, so once I finish this, we'll sneak past his cultists and get to someplace safe.”
    Ruya Perist, Flight from Ironheart
    Teira Feiwright, Lost and Clueless

    I am me, you are you.
    We’re totally different, separate persons.
    But even so, what if we have just one thing in common?

  5. - Top - End - #125
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Sohssal

    As the manahounds collapsed onto the floor into messy piles, Sohssal began siphoning up what magical energy was left. He wouldn't want such an interesting source of energy to go to waste, and it would give him the chance to see just what kind of magic created them. Then he looked up at the communications crystal in the ceiling. "Why, I just came here to have a chat..." he replied, grinning on the inside. He doubted this one could sense malevolent intent remotely, especially since he probably would've noticed any divination going on in the area.

    "Now, let's stop with the shenanigans and the crystals. I prefer talking in person," he added, draining the communications crystal dry to drive home his point.
    Order of the Pstick Avatar by Sneak

  6. - Top - End - #126
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Falconer's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Gazrul

    Gazrul signalled for his party to quiet themselves. He perked up his ears. If he was going to find his men in time, he couldn't afford to make a mistake. For a few seconds, he detected nothing but silence in the forest. Then a scream pierced the air. Gazrul looked about wildly, before bolting north, motioning for his men to follow.

    "Quickly, men! Follow me! Our comrades are under attack!" He shouted orders to his men even as they rushed through the mountain trail."Ready your slings, bows, crossbows, whatever you have that's ranged! Our enemies will be in the trees!"
    Last edited by Falconer; 2009-04-03 at 07:25 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #127
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    Tare raised an eyebrow at Limier's revelation, and listened quietly as the Assassin went on to explain a little more. Tare looked at the Self-trained killer levelly, not doing much to let the Assassin know what he thought of the situation. He didn't mind a sarcastic chuckle at Limier's mention of a son, however, and agreed with the man's plan to split up. When Limier turned down the hall, Tare stood in thought for a moment more before turning down the opposite way, to the Right, toward the staircase and following the... thing... from before.

    Along the way he muttered in hushed tones to himself, as was his custom when out on jobs or intruding on private property like he so often used to do before (how long ago that seemed now!). "Yeah. A son. Whatever," he barely even spoke as he slunk along one wall of the hall, watching for signs of movement ahead, behind, and from under any of the doors. "Yeah, Incubus, right," He floated along the floor, trying to get a feel for the rhythm of the estate. "'Taken with Teareal's betrothed,' is he," Tare shook his head. "Don't think I missed that, Limier," He stood stock still, on impulse reexamining his surroundings. "Don't think I don't realize. You intend to leave her behind." He sighed, for a moment pulled out of his surroundings as he contemplated that thought. His drop right back in a moment later was seamless, and again he crept along, climbing the staircase with as much finesse as he could muster.
    Deo Soli Sit Semper Gloria

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    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  8. - Top - End - #128
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Ardraket Oldn
    Entering the archive room Ardraket pauses for a second to take in what is going on. With practiced glances he takes in what is going on. Settling a look at the officer in the room Ardraket notices some tiny details. The epilates on the uniform look more worn than the rest of the uniform. In addition there was a little bit of blood on them that the rest of the uniform was lacking, in fact it looks like the office did not have any wounds that would explain the blood. He also looks vaguely uncomfortable, as if something is pressing on his mind.

    “Yes sergeant, what is it? We’re almost ready to bring the first selection of records down to be disposed of.”

    Listening to the office Ardraket notices his tone of voice seems vaguely nervous with is expression conveying that. Based on the recent violence it looks as if he just came upon a freshly promoted officer after whatever happened here. Based on his behavior he would imagine that he was below a sergeant before his sudden elevation. Useful.

    “Sir, I’m under orders to do some searching of the records. With recent events apparently an influential party wanted to check on the status of one of the guests here. While you have your responsibilities at the moment I understand if you unable to provide assistance however if you were I’m certain that my superiors would look kindly upon you, especially with your recent promotion.”

    A touch of mystery, semi-vague yet reasonable orders and a dab of reward. The perfect blend of ingredients to help convince someone to assist a stranger who is a little bit out of place. Assuming that the office would be willing to help out Ardraket will provide the details that he has, otherwise things may get a little interesting.
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    I'm good at making you fear the unknown. Pwenet is good at making you fear the known, which had been the unknown five minutes before he pushed you off screaming into the abyss.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kalirren View Post
    I'm feeling this real hard now.
    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

  9. - Top - End - #129
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Gourtox's Avatar

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    Telest

    He dismounts the horse and accepts the food and drink. "Thank you." Then almost ignoring Lucure studies the camp as he eats the berries. After finishin the food and drink he grabs the blanket before going into the tent. He wraps the blanket around him and falls asleep.
    Last edited by Gourtox; 2009-04-04 at 03:23 PM.
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  10. - Top - End - #130
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Ander Windrivver

    Background Music: Part 1, Part 2

    Ander stands at attention after delivering his report. As much as he would have liked to speak in his own defense, it would not have done him any good. His mind reels as he tries to comprehend the enormity of his failure. How could he have gotten so soft, so blind? Miriam was right. During his days in the Great Crusade, he would not have thought twice about killing Melcara or Peeping Tom.

    Anders thoughts are interrupted when Miriam conjures up the crimson sword. Ander accepts it wordlessly, surprised that he would be rewarded with another magnificent weapon after being lectured so harshly.

    I will leave to purge the Church on the morrow. If I can find Karth the Purifier and enlist his aid, I will. And mark my words, once I’m done with the Church I will find Ysora and Elandra and I will make the Baron pay for his arrogance. If I see Mel-…the Whore again, I will do my duty.

    Ander drops the sack containing Incom’s armor and turns to leave. His pace is heavy and plodding as he leaves the Palace and storm clouds brew in his head.

    Come on, Seymour. Let’s go.

    *****

    It is sunset by the time Ander reaches his destination. A low, sprawling farmhouse not far outside the city walls squats on the ground in front of him and a woman and boy stand in the doorway. While she waits in the door for Ander to arrive, the boy breaks away and runs toward him as soon as he enters the yard.

    DADDY!, he shouts, jumping into Ander’s arms.

    Gerald! Oh I’ve missed you, boy. Ander holds his son tightly to his chest as he plods the rest of the way to the house where he gently sets the boy down.

    Ander…

    Caitlyn… Tears well up in his eyes as he hugs her tightly, kisses her, and presses his face into her neck; trying to put every pent up emotion, every feeling of longing and love into that embrace. Oh gods, Caitlyn. I’ve missed you so much. I’ve been so lost without you...

    *****

    Night has fallen and Ander and Caitlyn sit at the kitchen table.

    …and so that’s what happened. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past fifteen years. Gods, I messed up so much Caitlyn. I messed everything up because I was proud and cocky and stupid. He leans over and holds her closely. I need you to tell me that everything’s going to be okay. Tell me that everything’s going to be fine.

    Everything’s going to be fine, Ander. You’ll go down and do your job and then you can come back and we can be a family again. We can be together, forever, and you’ll be done running errands for the gods. It’ll just be us.

    *****

    Freshly bathed and shaved for the first time in over fifteen years, Ander sets off down the road to the city the next morning with a bit more spring in his step. After talking with Caitlyn the night before, Ander had taken the time to polish his armor, trim his moustache, and cut his hair back into its usual flattop and he finally felt almost human again.

    The sun is high in the sky by the time Ander reaches the city. The deserted streets are just as eerie as they were the day before and there seems to be fewer angels on patrol. Were they reassigned, or had more gone missing in the night? Either way, now wasn’t the time to worry about it.

    For the second time in as many days, Ander climbs the steps to the Palace of Light. This time, instead of proceeding into the Audience Chamber, Ander turns down a side passage leading off of the entrance hall. He walks through the twisting passageways, armored boot steps echoing off of marble and granite, each turn taking him closer to the bowels of the Palace. After what seems like an hour, Ander finally arrives at his destination: a small side room with little more than a book of scripture and a permanent teleportation circle inscribed on the floor.

    Well, here goes nothing…again. Hopefully I can send myself close to a griffin aerie, Gods know how much easier that’d make travelling across the kingdom.

    Sending off a quick prayer, Ander holds the image of a griffin aerie in the front of his mind as he activates the circle…
    Last edited by Baerdog7; 2009-04-04 at 07:12 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  11. - Top - End - #131
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MrEdwardNigma's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteKnight777 View Post
    Umber
    Umber looked up at the golem. Oh, I've got no problem with the walking dead. Hell, I AM the walking dead - though admittedly I'm better looking and a snappier dresser than most zombies. But unfortunately, the necromancer we're talking about doesn't always wait for his subjects to die of natural causes. In fact, he generally prefers unnatural causes. Then there's all the soul-theft. And the torture. And other, less pleasant activities. He's not a nice fellow. Still, I've got no problem with any of that - I'm primarily worried that whatever he's got planned could adversely affect myself and my young friend here. Ergo I'll probably have to do something about it.
    Hans nodded.
    "Very well, I suppose visiting my master's grave can wait"
    Hans sighed. Somewhere the behemoth wondered if he could trust these people, if they weren't just spinning a web of lies to be able to use him as a tool, but then he reminded himself that most people wouldn't be that eager to go fight an evil necromancer. Besides, if they wanted to trick him the vampire would have acted more likeable. He reminded Hans of Victor somehow.
    Avatar by the illustrious Dr. Bath.


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  12. - Top - End - #132
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Cpt. Soup's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Abbie looked up at the elf and her brain began to register what was happening. This really wasn't good, escaping from iron heart only to be captured by a group of filthy elves?

    From what he said, Abbie assumed this was some sort of raiding party, or at least a mission relating to Ironheart from their proximity..

    Abbie couldn't dwell on their purpose at the moment, as the elf was pointing a taunt bow at her. She had to give the elf an answer.

    "..N-no."

    Abbie's voice trembled as she croaked out the word. Abbie began working to emphasis to the elf that she was old and pathetic, she was fairly good at it.

  13. - Top - End - #133
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

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    Mar

    The ground was cold where she tried to lie down, so she got up, shivering, and sat in front of the fire, and thought. Back home, life had been simple; she did what she was told, which usually didn't involve much thinking. When she did think about something too much, it usually led to something bad. She'd gotten good at not thinking too much. But this wasn't simple. Everything was different, and there wasn't always somebody around to tell her what to do or how to do things.

    Besides, she was hungry and it was hard to not think about that. Mar was glad Caroline would bring food, because she hadn't thought about what she would eat until now. Food was something Daddy gave her; there was also food in the kitchen, but eating anything there was evil. Or maybe Daddy had only told her it was, and it wasn't. Julian kept saying things like that, and despite what Daddy said she didn't think he was evil. They couldn't both be right, but how was she supposed to know which to believe? It was all confusing. Running away helped a little; she didn't have to think about all those things right now. She just had to think about where to sleep and get food, and maybe other things she didn't know about.

    Still, she thought, it was good that she'd run away. It was cold and she was hungry, but nothing was hurting her right now. That was good enough.

    After a while, she got up and climbed into the rafters again, to fetch that cloth she'd used as a blanket earlier. Her place didn't feel safe anymore, though; she couldn't feel the warm memory from earlier when she was afraid of falling through the wood. And away from the fire, it was cold. She climbed back down and moved some of the sticks down onto the fire, then curled up and tried to get the blanket-thing to cover her. Eventually, she got it to lie over her so that it covered the parts of her that weren't under her wings. Her head wasn't covered, but that was okay.

    Mar closed her eyes, and tried to stop thinking, so she could sleep.
    Last edited by The_Snark; 2009-04-23 at 04:15 AM.
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  14. - Top - End - #134
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    At your explanation, Kris shakes his head in exasperation. “Wonderful! As if the forest weren’t already crowded enough with things trying to kill us! I’ll have two lads stay behind, keep an eye on this place. Any more of those living fire things come through, they’ll let us know. All we can spare at the moment.”

    True to his word, upon returning to the others Kris orders two of the men to remain behind to keep an eye on the scorched field while the rest of you proceeded on to the Ghosts’ camp. The trip there takes another hour, in part because Kris leads the group around in circles, no doubt in an attempt to disorient you. You had spent enough time in these woods yourself to not be fooled by such tricks, although the fact that Kris still tried suggests that you weren’t trusted even now.

    Finally, you pass underneath a low-hanging branch to find yourself in a small clearing of sorts, although there are no tents set up on the ground. Instead, the large trees that dot the clearing have been commissioned to support large tree houses in their lowest branches. There are a little less than a dozen such houses, and you note that there are only about as many people moving about in plain sight, working busily on weapons or caught game.

    “You’re in luck.” Kris begins in a sarcastic, bitter tone. “We ran afoul of a GHAST patrol about a week ago. Most didn’t make it back, so now we’re rather understaffed. You’ll be able to have a house all to yourself for the night.”

    Kris’s tone briefly changes to a wistful tone as he looks around at the tree houses. “They used to all be packed with people, brave lads who wanted to change this land but didn’t know how to go about it. Now we can’t even find a bandit who is willing to join up with us.”

    As Kris leads you further into the camp, various members of your troupe begin to fall away, walking off to join one of the working groups or another. You note that several of those working are women, although they seem just as focused and skillful at sharpening various blades and arrowheads as any of the men. You even note a pair of preteen children working beside presumably their mother, dutifully smearing mud and leaves over a once highly-polished shield that bears the Baron’s colors.

    All of those whom you see during your walk through camp have that same focused, numb expression - common amongst those who are exhausted but force themselves to press onward. You saw it many times on the faces of Ironheart prisoners, often just before they cracked, and then broke completely under the strain of their torment.

    Finally you and Kris arrive at the tree that held the largest of the houses, a simple rope ladder leading up to a curtained doorway. Kris puts one foot on the bottom rung on the ladder, and then twists around to face you.

    “You wait here. I will go up and talk with Kat. If she wants to see you, I’ll call you up. I’ll be waiting off in one of the small side rooms just in case you get any ideas “Korram”. When she says the conversation is over, it’s over and you leave. I’m willing to give you two some privacy, but one shout from her and I will be right out. And then you won’t be leaving, you’ll be getting thrown out. Those are the rules. If you can’t handle that, then you can get the Hells out of here.”

    While he was speaking, Kris’s hands move towards the weapons holstered on his vest, his emerald eyes locked on yours.

    (For the sake of moving things forward, I’m just going to assume you agree rather than shove Kris’s head through a tree. And since you just saying “yeah sure, whatever” is a rather small contribution, I’m just going to go forward a bit more on that agreeing to Kris’s conditions assumption.)

    Kris relaxes slightly as you give your consent, although he makes it a point to jab a finger at you before turning to start climbing up the ladder. “I mean it. You stay here until I damn well tell you to come up.”

    Reaching the top of the ladder quickly, Kris agilely pulls his upper body through the curtain, and then swings his legs up, rolling forward into the tree house and out of sight as the curtain swings back into place. A few minutes pass, and you can hear just the faintest murmur of conversation above the creaking of the tree house as its inhabitants move about. Unfortunately, try as you might, you can only hear the dull murmur of muttered words, the sounds unintelligible. Finally, you hear Kris’s voice call loudly from within the tree house “Come on up!”

    Clambering up the rope ladder, you push the curtain aside and pull yourself up into the tree house. Within you find yourself in a small room with two low doorways leading further into the tree house, also blocked by curtains. The center of this small room is dominated by a small table that seems to have been cobbled together from a traveling salesman’s stands. Scattered across it are very detailed sketched maps of the surrounding forest. Several bar stools are clustered around the table, and perched on the one directly across the table from you is a young woman.

    Her long dark hair is worn loose, brushed back from her face but otherwise unarranged. The lower half of her face is covered in a veil, and the rest of her is wrapped in a dark red silk robe that likely would have been filled out much more nicely by a retired bruiser. Her emerald eyes examine you critically, and then one voluminous sleeve indicates you to take the stool across from her. Her voice is older, huskier than the one you remember, but it nonetheless bares enough resemblance to send an electric shock of recognition through you.

    “Come, sit down. I am Katrina Alstan, leader of the Ghosts of Callaway. Kris tells me that you claim to be my father, Korram? I’m afraid I was just a child then, with the hazy memories that accompany childhood. And it has been a long time since I last saw my father. With your permission, I’d like to ask you a few questions. Understand that if you answer incorrectly, you will be exposed as a fraud, and I’ve been taken advantage of enough in the past that I will not look kindly on your revealed deception. Are you still sure you want to stick by your claim that you are Korram Alstan, my father?”

    The Heavens

    Baerdog7

    Refreshed and revitalized by your overnight visit with your family, you walk towards the Palace with a sense of purpose you hadn’t felt in years. You had been merely reacting to the events within Ironheart, but now it was your turn to determine the rules and tempo of the engagement. Judging by the lack of angels you saw on your way in, it would need to be a fast tempo. You are almost to your destination when an angel swoops down in front of you, nodding a greeting with a self-conscious smile.

    “Almost missed you I see. Our Lady has requested that you be informed of the following developments. Several rapid reaction squadrons of angels have been assembled from those angels remaining who are strong enough to open portals to the mortal realm. They were able to investigate several disappearances, although there have been more in the night than they could handle. Two of the investigated disappearances were within the human land known as Gast – neither squadron dispatched there has yet returned.”

    The angel’s face flickers with worry, but she presses on. “The other squadrons who investigated several other disappearances elsewhere reported appearing inside the basement of a church. Of the angelic abductors there was no sign, save for ritual circles burned into the ground. It does not seem likely now that we will be able to catch those responsible, as they are mobile. However, our investigation does suggest that the Church of the Light is responsible for the disappearances. Our Lady has already dispatched several angels to investigate the Church and prepare to aid you however they can. You will likely not recognize them, for they will be in human form, but they will recognize you. . . . Good luck, Lord General.”

    The angel nods at you again, and then leaps back into the air, soaring back down the hall. She is perhaps only halfway to the intersection before a dark cloud consumes her, just as it did Melissan. You did not have much time indeed.

    Hurrying now to the ritual chamber, you close the remaining distance quickly. It takes only a few moments for you to complete the teleportation ritual, as here there is already a circle permanently inscribed, and the air is filled with holy energy. A bright light fills your vision, and you close your eyes only to open them a moment later as cold air hits your face.

    You are standing in the midst of a rough nest, thick branches woven together to cover the floor and walls of the cave you are standing at the mouth of. With a horse chirp, two dog-sized griffons strut out of the darkness, doubtlessly coming to investigate. Seeing that the newcomer to their nest was alive and not, in fact, food, they flutter up into the air and wildly retreat back into the darkness with a low hiss.

    A moment later, you hear the piercing shriek of an angry, adult griffon. It is not you that has angered the creature however, as a moment later you hear a human voice, shouting a familiar phrase – “FIRE!” Again the griffon shrieks, this time a more pained cry, and you hear a loud cheer come from outside the cave. Evidently you had gotten here either too late, or just in time.

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    Eventually, you drift off to sleep by the fire, and return to the dream you had before, almost exactly right where you left off.

    You just barely got the board in place before a head poked over the edge of the rafters. The head belonged to a teenage boy with sandy blond hair and blue eyes, and an easygoing smile that tended to appear in even the most inappropriate situations. You knew him as Jacob, and the two of you had been friends since childhood. Lately, it seemed as if you might become something more.

    “Thought I might find you here. Daddy being a pain in the ass again?” He said with a smile as he hoisted himself up onto the rafters beside you. But there was an unusual note of concern in his eyes as he continued.

    “I saw those soldiers at your house the other day. What did they want?”

    You had come up here to relax and get away from all that, but while the memories were unpleasant you dredged them up to share with Jacob. You told him how the soldiers had held some sort of crystal over your head, causing it to glow which seemed to excite them. Then they offered a hundred gold to your father for you. You father, despite being hung over at the time, managed to pull himself together enough to refuse, but you couldn’t help but notice the calculation in his eyes. He refused not as a matter of course, but rather in an attempt to barter and drive the price up. After that your father ordered you out of the room, and spoke in private with the soldiers.

    This story seemed to infuriate Jacob, as you were afraid it would.

    “Damn soldiers. And damn your father too! He sold you out Caroline, I know he did! Drunken bastard!” Jacob angrily slams his hand down on the rafters, but then his anger fades as a sudden idea occurs to him. You almost know what he’s going to say next before he says it.

    “Let’s run away Caroline, you and me. We can leave this backwater village behind us, and go out and see the world together! It’ll be a grand adventure!”

    Chaffing under the stern guidance of his parents, Jacob had wanted to run away for years now. Unlike him however, you had responsibilities here. For all his failings, your father was still your father, and you were afraid what would become of him without anyone to look after him. You also thought of the outside world as dangerous, and not the sunny place of opportunity and adventure that Jacob apparently did.

    And so as always, you turned down Jacob’s offer. Perhaps it was that you were tired and under a lot of stress, but something about Jacob’s offer angered you this time. Trying to put him on the defensive, you then asked him why he didn’t just leave if he hated it here so much. He talked about it often enough!

    Jacob seems surprised, and suddenly nervous. “I thought you knew. I haven’t left because, well, because of you! I couldn’t leave you behind. You’ve always been there for me Caroline, and I couldn’t just leave you! I couldn’t bear to come back and find out something had happened to you. I . . . I love you!”

    This came as something of a shock, particularly coming out of the carefree Jacob’s lips. But his tone and the look on his face confirmed that this was not one of his pranks, he was serious. And now it was you who was on the defensive.

    In the end though, one thing led to another, and a few minutes later the two of you were exchanging kisses and Jacob was beginning to unbutton your blouse. What could have been a most memorable night took a turn for the worse however, as a moment later part of the barn’s ceiling collapsed. Shards of wood went flying everywhere, and perching on the lip of the newly made hole was what looked like an angel.

    Only it was unlike any angel you had ever seen, for it was a teenage boy about your age, with slate-grey wings, blond hair, and cold icy blue eyes.

    “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” He asks as he leers down at the both of you. Jacob scrambles up onto his feet, having to stoop in the low confines of the rafters. He balls his hands into fists as he calls up “Who the devil are you?”

    The angel smiles as it gives a low bow and swoops down into the barn. “My name is Sir Cheran, and I’m here to claim the Baron’s property.” The boy angel’s lips curl up into a smile as he points at you. “Her.”

    “Yeah? I don’t think so.”

    “Try and stop me!” The angel says with a laugh as it swoops down onto the rafters right in front of the two of you. But Sir Cheran had miscalculated, and was not prepared when he suddenly had to stoop upon landing on the rafters. Although he managed to avoid the first punch Jacob threw, the second struck him directly in the chin, forcing his head up and back into one of the low-hanging beams. Dazed, Sir Cheran stumbled back off the rafters, narrowly taking flight again before striking the packed earthen floor below. At least, now until Jacob threw himself off of the rafters onto the angel, sending them both crashing to the ground hard.

    “Get out of here Caroline! Run!” Jacob shouted as he stumbled back onto his feet, delivering an awkward kick to Cheran’s side.

    Rearranging your clothing, you peer out of the small window by the rafters to see torches approaching the barn from all sides – there was nowhere to run too. Turning back to face the floor below, you see that both fighters had regained their footing. Jacob dodges a clumsy swipe by Cheran, and then darts in, delivering a hard jab and a left hook that draws blood and sending Cheran reeling.

    The sight of his own blood seems to only enrage Cheran however, who with a loud cry suddenly takes off into the air. He snatches Jacob as he flies past, and then zooms straight into one of the barn’s walls, slamming your friend into it. The entire barn shakes violently with the impact and several boards on that wall are knocked out of alignment. Sir Cheran delivers several vicious punches to Jacob’s stomach, and then a final one that crumbles him to the floor. Just then the front doors to the barn open, and several torch-bearing soldiers enter.

    “Sir Cheran! Do you require assistance!?”

    Wiping the blood away from the corner of his mouth, Sir Cheran grins as he grabs Jacob and lifts him off the floor.

    “No, I’m just fine. Girl’s upstairs.” With another grunt of effort, Sir Cheran turns and throws Jacob away from the wall to the middle of the floor. Jacob cries out at the impact, and seems to have all fight taken out of him as he weakly tries to sit up. A moment later, Sir Cheran flies up and then crashes down onto him, driving the breath out of Jacob with his knees before delivering a series of furious blows to Jacob’s face. In horror you realize that Cheran will not stop until Jacob is dead, so you cry out to him. In return for Jacob’s life you would go with him quietly, or whatever he wanted, so long as Jacob was spared. Sir Cheran seems to consider this for a moment, then pats Jacob’s bloody head.

    “Your lucky day pal. For once someone who crosses me doesn’t die.” He then gets off of Jacob, and waits by the ladder while you climb down. Once on the ground he roughly seizes you by the arm, leading you around past Jacob and into the waiting arms of the guards. The last you see of Jacob as you are dragged out of the barn, he has rolled over onto his side, weakly extending an arm towards you. “Caroline . . .”

    Then you are out of the barn, and the guards are roughly binding your hands and feet before throwing you over a horse like a sack of grain. You have no idea where they are taking you, but after a few days of travel it all becomes clear – Ironheart. The fortress where you and the other children used to imagine defending from attacking elves, now apparently turned into a prison.

    A man in priest robes is there waiting for you. He examines you hungrily, and the cruel look in his eyes makes you uneasy. But your opinions no longer matter, because you belong to the Baron, and he has given you to this priest. And in time, you experience all of the horrors you had seen in his eyes.

    ---------------------------------------

    The dream suddenly shifts, and now you are inside that awful room. Looking up, you see “yourself” mounted on the wall, a young woman with red hair pinned to the wall with angelic wings stretched out behind you. The voice taunts you with your failures again, and before anything else can happen, your eyes open as you dart awake.


    In front of you, the fire has died down to only a few tiny flames and embers, but with a few more sticks you are able to coax it back up into a proper fire again. Looking through the boards and the hole in the ceiling, you can see the blackness outside beginning to give way to a more bluish grey. Was it morning then? Would Caroline and William be coming again soon, and this time with food? Your rumbling stomach certainly hoped so.

    But should you remain here? What if someone else found you the same way they did? Daddy would be most unhappy if he found you like this. But it was also warm and comfortable by the fire, and you didn’t really want to leave, either. Maybe if you checked outside and didn’t see anyone, you would feel better though. Deciding what to do on your own was hard.

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Meltemi

    The girl seems to be calmed by your assurances and kindness, although she still sits huddled on the bed, jumping at every creak caused by the wind. As you work on the circle you explain your plan to her, but the girl shakes her head, wincing slightly at the neck movements required.

    The girl’s voice is now more husky than raspy, but it still occasionally breaks with the strong emotion she puts into the words.

    “Nowhere is safe! He’ll find us! He’ll find us, and he’ll come, and then –“

    The girl breaks off suddenly, covering her face in her hands as she shivers, sobbing. Thankfully, you are now finished with the circle, and are just about to activate it when you hear an odd sound outside. Through the roof over your head, you can faintly hear a cacophony of squeaks and shrill whistles, as well as the flutter of wings. Although the only thing you can think of that would be responsible for such a thing is a group of bats, the girl attributes a far more sinister meaning.

    Upon hearing the same sounds, she stops crying, looking up at the ceiling and freezing up almost as much as she had while lying on the bed. When she looks back down at you, her eyes are filled with sheer terror.

    “He’s coming!” She reports in a harsh whisper. “He always comes like this, he wants me to know that he’s coming so I’ll be ready. So I’ll have worked up “anticipation” before he opens the door. You don’t have much time! Run, hide! He’s coming! He’s coming for *me*!”

    What little color had returned to the girl’s face during your work was gone again as she lied back down on the bed.

    “He said he wasn’t going to keep me. That tonight was the last night before I joined my family. Maybe it’s meant to be this way. Maybe I can distract him while you get away. Thank you. Good-bye.”

    WhiteKnight777 & MrEdwardNigma

    Ross grunts at Umber’s comments, although he can’t help but interrupt Umber’s claims of fashion. “Matter of opinion there I’m afraid.” He says with a guffaw, but quickly turns serious again. “So I can’t trust you to help anyone but yourself, with the possibility of you changing sides to help your old bloodsucking buddy in the thick of it. Business as usual I suppose. As for you –“ Ross turns to face Hans, and even he has to crane his head back a little to look the golem in the eyes.

    “While I guess I don’t have a huge problem with the dead walking around besides how unseemly it would look, I do have a problem when those very same walking dead start interfering with the living.” Ross shoots a glance and Umber and snorts.

    “I don’t know what it is with the so-called living dead, but none of them can seem to keep their teeth to themselves – always trying to eat the living, whether it’s a zombie chomping down on someone’s arm or a vampire chomping down on someone’s neck. And *that*, I do have a big problem with.”

    Ross looks out over the large graveyard, and briefly appears deeply concerned. “And it seems I am going to have a big problem on my hands if Umber’s old friend is as unpleasant as he says.”

    Resuming his usual semi-jovial mood, Ross swings his warhammer up onto his shoulder and starts back towards the city. A moment later however he stops, cocking his head.

    “Listen. Do you hear that?”

    Very so faintly, the sound of chanting comes from further back in the graveyard, carried by the wind. Those capable of seeing fairly well in the dark, which is largely most of the assembled small group, can just barely see several groups of figures scattered about the graveyard in the distance, clearly conducting some sort of ritual.

    “Hmmm. Seems like we’ve found some people to interrogate.” Ross says with a grin, before looking at Hans and Umber. “So – go investigate, or do we run for the city and start finding a good secure place to hole up with the ungrateful populace?”

    Iethloc

    Siphoning off what energy the bodies of the dead manahounds gave off, you savor the taste and attempt to analyze its components. Some of the energy signatures you recognize as various transmutation magicks, but a number of them are so finely blended together that it is difficult to break down the components any further. With a bit of time you might be able to separate out the various tastes into ones that you recognize, but for now you are unsure exactly what combination of spells went into the manahounds’ construction. Nor did it seem you would have the time right now, as a moment later a man appears at the top of the steps.

    The man is dressed in fine clothing, but despite the lateness of the hour he wears a jacket obviously meant more for travel than entertaining guests. It seems likely that your target was planning on leaving soon. In one hand he holds a large wine glass, half-full of water, which he raises to you in a salute.

    “Now then, as you suggested let’s talk. I’d rather you didn’t break any more of my things. Perhaps we can discuss matters over a nice bottle of Donovale 338?” He offers as he gestures you forward up the stairs.

    “I hate Donovale 338.” The acolyte grunts, as Omega narrows her eyes. Her expression falters a moment later, however, and she raises a hand up to her left temple.

    I was unable to read his mind. All . . . all I got was a jumble of images. He must have some sort of mental shield up!

    Ironheart

    The Fortress Basement

    Cpt. Soup

    Your efforts apparently work, for the elf sneers in disgust as he shuffles back a step, but keeps the bow trained on you. “Are you humans so pathetic you must get your elderly to do your work now?” The elf snorts, motioning up with his drawn bow. “Stand, woman.”

    Although he doesn’t help you and continues covering you with the bow, at least you are not the recipient of several kicks the way your young guard escort is. Finally, he too manages to stagger up to his feet, as one of the other elves relieves him on his weapon. Stowing his bow, one of the other elves moves up behind the guard, wrenching his arms behind his back before binding them with what looks like a vine of some sort. A noose of the same material is then dropped around his neck and tightened, and finally he is gagged. The elves make no move to do anything of the sort to you however. Still, the elf keeps his bow trained on you, and motions for you to start walking with it.

    “You shall be interrogated back at our camp. Obey and you will live.”

    Seeing little choice in the matter, you follow the elf’s commands and start walking. It is hard to walk through the snowy forest at night, and on several occasions you stumble and fall over hidden tree roots. Eventually the elves tire of this, and one picks you up and slings you over his shoulders. Despite being slender, the elf has a good deal of wiry strength, and carries you without complaint the rest of the way to their camp.

    The elf camp is sizable, with a good number of tents scattered about a clearing within the forest. A number of stones glow faintly in fire pits about the camp, throwing off a great deal of heat. For once you are actually starting to get warm, and so the camp might have been pleasant to you if not for the fact that in all likelihood the elves were about to torture and kill you.

    Taking you into one of the tents near the edge of the camp, the elves rouse the pair of elves currently sleeping there, and then deposit you and the young guard inside. The elves then bind the guard’s legs together with more of the vine they had used to bind his arms, but again do not touch you.

    “There will be guards outside. Someone will be with you shortly to interrogate you. Remember – obey and you will live.” The elf then withdraws, leaving with the others save for the two roused elves, who move to stand guard outside the tent. They occasionally peer inside at the two of you in interest, but otherwise stand alert, scanning the dark forest around the camp.

    “Mrmgr mah” The guard grunts through his gag, and the only thing you can assume he meant was “Untie me”. Clearly, despite the elf’s warning your young “friend” wanted to take his chances.

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    After satisfying your hunger and thirst, you curl up within Lucure’s tent and fall asleep. Your dreams are uneasy ones, filled with nightmarish demons and past targets mingling together to threaten your life. One finally manages to catch up and grab hold of you, shaking you violently. It is only a few moments later that you realize it is in fact Lucure shaking you awake. Much too soon for you to be fully rested, but perhaps with your dark dreams that was impossible anyway.

    “Tur Villid will see you now.” Lucure says urgently, helping you to sit up, and then stand. “You must go to speak with him right away – the Tur is not in a patient mood I’m afraid.”

    Still maintaining his grip on your arm, Lucure ushers you through the camp and to the front of the large tent you had seen earlier. Several elves stand guard inside, their bows slung across their backs, but their hands on the hilts of their blades. Seated behind a collapsible desk is an older elf, his black hair starting to grey which usually doesn’t happen until the elf is old indeed. His eyes are still sharp however, and they bore into you as Lucure pushes you into the tent, nods, and walks away.

    “So, you must be the one who managed to escape from Ironheart.” The elf began, gesturing to a chair in front of the desk.

    “Please, sit down. I would also like to hear your story. Please, spare no detail – the slightest thing may grant us an opportunity to take the fortress after all these years.”

    Falconer

    Dimly hearing the sounds of battle, you urge your own men forward, hoping to get their in time. What you ears tell you is a pessimistic story however, as the sounds of battle grow dimmer and dimmer. At last the sight of your fallen men comes into sight from around a small corpse of trees. You see no sight of their attackers, despite scanning the trees.

    And yet, it is only in watching the trees that you avoid being ambushed yourself. The tops of the trees seem to suddenly spring to life at your approach, and half a dozen figures discretely raise bows to point down at your men. Several of your men also notice the waiting figures, and open fire a moment before a withering hail of arrows sails down towards them. One of the figures in the trees fails with a shriek as a crossbow bolt lodges itself into his torso, but the first volley of projectiles from your men otherwise misses.

    Seeing two arrows of the enemy’s return fire streaking towards you, you narrowly avoid death by falling from your horse, allowing the arrows to streak through the air where you had been a moment before. Landing heavily, you nonetheless roll back up to your feet, realizing that movements was your best defense at the moment. As you get back up, you see several more figures slip out from around the trees, making this a more even-numbered fight than you cared for.

    One such figure slips out nearly directly in front of you, and you finally get your first good look at our attackers. They are elves, creatures living to the south of the human kingdom that you had heard much about, but had never seen with your own eyes. Truth be told, they looked much like slender humans with somewhat more angular ears. Their weapons were no less deadly however, and the elf in front of you raises a longbow as it nimbly slides out from behind the tree. At such close range, it seemed unlikely that he would miss, and even if it did the half-full quiver of arrows slung across his back suggested he would have many more chances to kill you.

    Lonna

    For the second time today, the Countess’s face begins to turn crimson, although her downcast eyes suggest her embarrassment this time stems from shame.

    “I . . . I am sorry, Pyrene. I thought it wouldn’t matter where you came from, but hearing what you did . . . what you had to do . . . it still came as a bit of a shock. I’ve been taught that such behavior is . . . disgraceful. But, you did it for a good reason, and . . . and you didn’t enjoy it, did you?”

    The Countess raises her free hand to her mouth.

    “I’m sorry, that came out wrong. Please . . . forgive me. No matter what you did in the past, you still selflessly saved my life. I just . . . I just need a little time to get used to the idea of who you really are. But you have my word that I will do anything in my power to ensure Ariella is cared for. And you too! Unless . . . you want to go back to your old life?”

    Before you can answer, out in the next room you hear a loud crash as the door is kicked open, followed by a grunt as Klaus hits the floor. Through the cracked-open doorway you watch as several lithe figures – elves – burst into the room from the outside. The lead elf swiftly moves over to Klaus, kicking the crossbow out of his hands.

    As the elf notches an arrow to his bow and pulls the string back however, Rudolf joins the fray, leaping for the elf’s throat. The two join Klaus on the ground with a loud growl and a panicked cry, while the other three elves present in this band spread out through the room. One turns back to deal with Rudolf, who is still snarling and snapping at the downed elf, and Klaus who is desperately crawling towards his crossbow. The other two elves meanwhile, seem to have caught a glimpse of either you or the Countess through the half-open door, and are now both swiftly moving in your direction.

    Pwenet

    At your comments the officer’s brow furrows in confusion. “I didn’t hear anything about this! Why would they have us – “ The officer stops suddenly, and coughs loudly as he catches himself. “Yes, thank you sergeant. The records in some areas are still in somewhat of disarray, we believe several demons came through here. Additionally, most of the staff who managed the records also perished during the ah, incident.”

    The officer sweeps a hand around to the still-intact shelves, barring row upon row of leather-bound books.

    “Certainly, having an idea of where the prisoner was kept would help. They tended to keep track of cells, and not prisoners I believe. Still, perhaps we could find something in one of the indexes.”

    The newly minted officer and his men stop gathering up files to take with them to be burned, and instead assist you in perusing the shelves and checking indexes. Eventually, they find a small book in one dark corner of the library.

    “Ooo, special prisoners. The worst of the lot imprisoned here – no wonder someone wanted his condition checked upon! You should be able to find his entry somewhere in there.”

    The sound of the door opening again drew all of your attention away from the book however, and towards the man in priest’s robes who just opened the door. On sight you knew he was no priest however – he was Vash, a fellow member of the assassin’s guild! The other guards obviously did not know this, and so the officer greeted him with a mixture of caution and irritation.

    “What are you doing here, Brother . . .?”

    “Brother Vash, my good man. And I’ve been called here for a very important task.”

    The false priest reaches around to his shoulder pack, producing a large satchel which he holds up dramatically in front of him like a shield.

    “I have been called to purify this location! Demonic entities have crossed over into this world from here, and their taint must be exercised!”

    “I think you mean exorcised.” One of the guards mutters, causing Vash to snap his fingers at him.

    “Exactly, my good man! If this place is not cleansed, there’s no telling what might happen! We can’t wait!”

    A cunning look comes into Vash’s eyes as he adds, “The ritual I must do is quite dangerous to laymen, however. All of you had best wait outside, save perhaps for one of your number to protect me should the demons suddenly return.”

    Vash points at you. “He looks like he could handle himself in a fight. A little old and wrinkly, but in a place like this that just means he knows how to handle things like a demon infestation.”

    A minute later, and Vash has successfully herded the officer and the other men out the door, and then turns back to you with a gleam in his eye. Now out of sight of any non-initiates, his demeanor changes as Vash reverts into his usual cocky self.

    “So, I’m here to kill someone important. I’m assuming you are too. Guess we both got screwed, huh?”

    DJDeMiko

    After patching up the wounded man’s foot, two of your companions sling his arms over their shoulders and help support him. You travel as quickly as you are able through the edge of the forest, hoping to get as far away from the guards and their attackers as possible. You do not encounter any more threats for about an hour, and so you cut deeper into the forest, continuing to move away from Ironheart.

    You travel perhaps another hour before a troubling sound reaches your ears. Somewhere ahead, you can hear the sounds of battle. The thick forest and rolling hills make it hard to pinpoint where exactly the fight is taking place, whether directly ahead of you or off to one side. Moving closer would presumably make it easier to tell where the fight is taking place in relation to you, but of course carries an increase in risk that you could inadvertently become involved in the fight.

    Perhaps an even more worrying concern is that moving about could get you embroiled in a fight of your own. Ahead in the distance, you can just barely make out dark figures flitting between the trees, weaving their way from left to right across your field of vision as they also move further away. Presumably the sounds of battle have attracted them as well, and it would be a fair guess to say these are more of the mysterious ambushers who attacked the hunting party of guards.

    You could try to backtrack, but going back up the hillsides you had recently come down would be considerably more difficult. It would also mean that you spend a longer amount of time in this forest of death, giving your various pursuers more time to catch up and find you. But continuing to go forward now carried the risk that even if you didn’t blunder into the middle of the battle, you would run into those moving towards it to join in.

    The Hells

    Outside the Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    Gliding along the floor and feeling oddly at home despite the strange surroundings, you make your way over to the staircase. Through one of the open doorways you hear two devils talking with each other in their foul tongue as they walk down the hallway behind. You wait by the doorway until the sound of their footsteps has mostly faded, and then quickly slip across to the other side and continue.

    In the hallway above the stairs the screeching violin continues, although it suddenly stops when you are halfway up the stairs. In reaction you freeze, listening carefully for the sounds of alarm. A few moments later the violin starts up again, although this time it seems to be played by someone with a bit more skill – much fewer shrieks and squeals of the strings. Taking this to be a sign that as far as those upstairs know, it’s business as usual, you continue your climb.

    Reaching the top of the curving set of stairs, you peer up over the last few steps to see that for the moment the hallway is empty. The corridor is a little hazy, and your nose detects the cloying smell of some sort of heavy incense hanging in the air. Although not half as bad as some of the things your nose has endured since arriving here, the incense still has an astringent scent to it.

    Much like the hallway down below, the corridor on this level is carpeted and furnished. However, there are less of the hideous statues and more paintings and rough sculptures, as well as a number of hanging curtains. Like the paintings, the sculptures seem to have been made by a number of different hands, each widely ranging in skill.

    Of the half-drowned woman thing, there is no sign, although a series of damp spots on the floor form a trail that leads down roughly halfway down the hall before turning and going through a doorway. At the far end of the hallway the corridor turns sharply to the left, and the violin playing seems to be coming from there. In between you and the turn are a number of doorways, perhaps a dozen in all, on both sides of the hallway.

    The closest door on your left seems to lead out to a small balcony overlooking one of the hallways on the ground floor. Hearing the quiet sounds of movement from the nearest door on your right, you cautiously approach before risking a peep inside. What you see thrills, confuses, and alarms you.

    The room beyond the door contains a large four-poster bed, as well as a number of black wooden cabinets around the periphery of the room. Lying on the bed unconscious is Adamè, clad in the same bronze chains and revealing array of veils as the woman-thing you saw before. You don’t have a good angle to examine her closely from the doorway, but you do notice some more color has returned to her cheeks. She is not wearing one of the facemasks like the woman-thing wore however, and in fact appears to be wearing some sort of dark markup, her blackish lips and eyelids standing out in sharp contrast to the rest of her alabaster face.

    Busily swarming around the bed and tending to her are three more of the woman-things. Like the first, their faces are obscured by bronze masks, although you can differentiate them by the color of their hair: brown, black, and red. Red finishes smearing the black color onto Adamè’s lips, and then pauses to examine her work. She apparently doesn’t like what she sees, as a moment later in a fit of rage she slaps Adamè across the face. The blow fails to awaken the elf, but the sound does alert Brown to what is happening.

    Abandoning what appears to be a large array of jewelry set on top of one of the cabinets, Brown rushes over, grabbing Red’s hand as it starts to descend for a second blow. The two women-things wrestle for a moment, oddly silent, and then Red breaks out of Brown’s grip. Brown shakes a disapproving finger at Red, and then emphatically jabs at the open doorway. Red shakes her head, backing away a few steps while raising her manacled hands. This earns her only another finger jab towards the doorway from Brown. Again Red shakes her head, awkwardly dropping to her knees and extending clasped hands towards Brown in supplication. Brown stomps her foot and again jabs towards the doorway, and finally Red obeys. Head hanging, Red stumbles back up to her feet and walks off towards the doorway, and by extension, *you*.

    Fortunately there is a number of places to hide due to the curtains and mounted statues, although you aren’t sure whether you should hide from the approaching thing or not. Appearances could certainly be deceptive here, but a part of you still feels ridiculous at the thought of hiding from a slender, half-restrained woman. And assuming you could handle her without alerting the other two still inside or any other nearby denizens, perhaps you could finally get some answers.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  15. - Top - End - #135
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Pyrene

    However Pyrene had expected Countess Amelia to react, the noblewoman's shame-faced reaction caught her off guard. Perhaps fortunately, she was saved from having to answer by the commotion in the other room. In a matter of seconds, their heavily outnumbered rescuers were on the ground, and the women had obviously been detected. Distracted by the Countess and given no time to think, Pyrene didn't think. She simply reacted, reaching for the power that she now knew waited as she shouted a single word at the combatants.

    "*STOP*!"

    {{The following only applies if that actually worked.}}

    <Peace and prosperity be upon you.> Pyrene hastily spoke one of the few elven phrases she knew, hoping to catch the attackers' attention, then released the spell before she could lose control of it. Switching back to her native tongue, she continued.

    "Forgive our caution - we feared you were the Baron's men. We want no part of him, but two women and an old man make easy prey."

    {{And the best part is, that was all perfectly truthful. In case it matters, she'll have been working magic for only a few seconds total. They may not even realize that her shout contained any magic.}}
    Last edited by Lonna; 2009-04-23 at 08:44 PM.
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  16. - Top - End - #136
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Ander Windrivver

    A griffon nest, eh? Good job, Ander. He thinks as he allows his eyes to grow accustomed to the low light. His reverie is interrupted, however, by the shouts and cries coming from outside.

    Oh, no way. This griffon is mine.

    Feeling his anger rising inside of him, Ander draws Sin-Eater as he strides toward the entrance of the cave. A faint gold aura forms around him as he calls upon the commanding powers of his cloak.

    HALT! This nest is under my protection. The next person who raises a hand against any of these creatures will be punished.

    Standing at the entrance of the cave, he looks down on the people responsible for harming the griffon with sword drawn, cloak billowing in the wind.
    Last edited by Baerdog7; 2009-04-24 at 01:31 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  17. - Top - End - #137
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Umber

    Umber smirked slightly at Ross' comentary. He was reflecting on his memories of Kartul. Before Fianna's transformation, the Necromancer had been by far the coldest of them. He still was, in some ways. Fianna was devoid now of all passions, but Kartul's seemed to burn with a cold, unwavering flame. Hate, anger, pride, and an insatiable lust for power and knowledge, those were his qualities, if they could be called such. Umber had sacrificed a measure of power in order to retain a portion of his humanity - at least, enough that he could enjoy his unlife for its own sake. Kartul's sacrifice had been the opposite. He sacrificed everything on the altar of power, leaving only a husk. In more ways than one. His only pleasures, Umber reflected, had always been the suffering and pain of others. Not the most pleasant way to live, in Umber's humble opinion. But there you were, that was Kartul.

    At last, he spoke up in response to Ross. I don't feel like being cornered, not again. Let us see what we can find out from our friends up ahead. He grinned, loosing his sword in its scabbard. He turned to Bran. Best stay behind us, lad. No point in announcing your presence to Kartul if we don't have to, and I suspect we'll be able to handle this rabble.

    So saying, he began to move towards the circle of chanters, his feet silent as the grave as he slipped through the shadows.

  18. - Top - End - #138
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    At your explanation, Kris shakes his head in exasperation. “Wonderful! As if the forest weren’t already crowded enough with things trying to kill us! I’ll have two lads stay behind, keep an eye on this place. Any more of those living fire things come through, they’ll let us know. All we can spare at the moment.” True to his word, upon returning to the others Kris orders two of the men to remain behind to keep an eye on the scorched field.
    Korram grimly considers how understaffed the Ghosts must be if they can only spare two men on a matter of such importance. It bodes ill for their future. As Kris comes back, Korram looks over the two designated to remain behind and keep watch. His advice to them is terse and simple: "If they come back, run. Only fight them if you want to die horribly."

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    The trip to the Ghost camp takes another hour, in part because Kris leads the group around in circles, no doubt in an attempt to disorient you. You had spent enough time in these woods yourself to not be fooled by such tricks, although the fact that Kris still tried suggests that you weren’t trusted even now.
    Korram remains silent throughout the journey, lost in his own thoughts. These woods bring him back to his time as a revolutionary, before Ironheart. Korram's memories of that time are fragmented, worn away by age and the tortures of Ironheart, but more and more vivid images return to him as they move through the forest. He loses himself in the silence, only returning from his reverie when they arrive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    Finally, you pass underneath a low-hanging branch to find yourself in a small clearing of sorts, although there are no tents set up on the ground. Instead, the large trees that dot the clearing have been commissioned to support large tree houses in their lowest branches. There are a little less than a dozen such houses, and you note that there are only about as many people moving about in plain sight, working busily on weapons or caught game.

    “You’re in luck.” Kris begins in a sarcastic, bitter tone. “We ran afoul of a GHAST patrol about a week ago. Most didn’t make it back, so now we’re rather understaffed. You’ll be able to have a house all to yourself for the night.”
    Korram gives a moment of silence and a prayer to the Valkyrie for the souls of the departed. He remembers keenly the loss of friends and allies in battle, the feeling of helplessness, wondering if he could have done something differently and saved them. For the first time, Korram truly emphasizes with Kris. He simply follows, watching the various workers go about their tasks.
    They're brave; even after such a loss, they haven't stopped.
    Of course. Because we don't have experience with anyone who doesn't know when to quit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    Kris’s tone briefly changes to a wistful tone as he looks around at the tree houses. “They used to all be packed with people, brave lads who wanted to change this land but didn’t know how to go about it. Now we can’t even find a bandit who is willing to join up with us.”
    Korram nods grimly. "If you ever manage to rebuild, it would be a better idea to make multiple smaller, better disguised camps so that something like this can't happen. Makes it easier to pick your fights or set ambushes." He looks around, noting the grim expressions of those who remain, and shrugs. "Who knows, though. There's a good chance this is the end for the Ghosts. Then again-" He smiles without mirth. "-Callaway always had strong stock."

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    Finally you and Kris arrive at the tree that held the largest of the houses, a simple rope ladder leading up to a curtained doorway. Kris puts one foot on the bottom rung on the ladder, and then twists around to face you.

    “You wait here. I will go up and talk with Kat. If she wants to see you, I’ll call you up. I’ll be waiting off in one of the small side rooms just in case you get any ideas “Korram”. When she says the conversation is over, it’s over and you leave. I’m willing to give you two some privacy, but one shout from her and I will be right out. And then you won’t be leaving, you’ll be getting thrown out. Those are the rules. If you can’t handle that, then you can get the Hells out of here.”
    Korram listens quietly as Kris threateningly elaborates on the conditions of his stay. He notices that Kris is being very aggressive. What an angry pup. I suppose he's still upset over the whipping you gave him.
    Perhaps. Perhaps not.
    ?
    Korram ignores Calcifer's confusion, and peacefully allows Kris to finish. When the young man is done, Korram raises his hands in placation. "Very well, all of your terms are acceptable. I will wait, I will speak when bidden, and I will leave when asked."

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    While he was speaking, Kris’s hands move towards the weapons holstered on his vest, his emerald eyes locked on yours.
    "But know this: I comply by choice. If I chose to disobey, there is not a thing you could do to stop me."

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    Kris relaxes slightly as you give your consent, although he makes it a point to jab a finger at you before turning to start climbing up the ladder. “I mean it. You stay here until I damn well tell you to come up.”
    Korram folds his arms and leans against the tree. "I already agreed to your terms. Just be quick about it."

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    Reaching the top of the ladder quickly, Kris agilely pulls his upper body through the curtain, and then swings his legs up, rolling forward into the tree house and out of sight as the curtain swings back into place. A few minutes pass, and you can hear just the faintest murmur of conversation above the creaking of the tree house as its inhabitants move about. Unfortunately, try as you might, you can only hear the dull murmur of muttered words, the sounds unintelligible. Finally, you hear Kris’s voice call loudly from within the tree house “Come on up!”
    Korram watches Kris' nimble ascension with some envy, feeling the weight of his age heavily. It had been a long time since he had been capable of such feats, although Calcifer's assistance had helped to mitigate that. Good thing, too; without his help Korram would never have survived the battles he fought during his Escape from Ironheart. Korram sighs; his entire life had been a war. Ever since his wife had died he had fought endlessly. But what had he accomplished? He had never been more than a thorn in the Baron's side, he had abandoned his responsibilities as a father, he had been captured and tortured for years, and had just kept fighting and fighting and fighting. He didn't know how to do anything else, anymore. He simply burned and smashed any obstacles. Even his legacy was tainted by imitators and the Baron. Kris' voice slices through Korram's thoughts, snapping him back to the present.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    Clambering up the rope ladder, you push the curtain aside and pull yourself up into the tree house. Within you find yourself in a small room with two low doorways leading further into the tree house, also blocked by curtains. The center of this small room is dominated by a small table that seems to have been cobbled together from a traveling salesman’s stands. Scattered across it are very detailed sketched maps of the surrounding forest. Several bar stools are clustered around the table, and perched on the one directly across the table from you is a young woman.
    Korram pulls himself through the opening to the tree house warily, for fear of a trap or other trick. He takes a moment to admire the design of the houses; the curtains and the tree house design would make any assault difficult, and simply attempting to burn it down would be catastrophic in the forest. He is also impressed by the map: his knowledge of the forest indicates it to be correct, but to a much greater detail than anyone could possibly memorize. It would have taken months to plot it out, but the effort would be well worth it. Whatever his initial impression of the ghosts had been, Korram had to admit that this was a favorable indication of how they had been before their losses. He pulls up a bar stool, sitting down slowly and bringing his gaze to focus on the woman before him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    Her long dark hair is worn loose, brushed back from her face but otherwise unarranged. The lower half of her face is covered in a veil, and the rest of her is wrapped in a dark red silk robe that likely would have been filled out much more nicely by a retired bruiser. Her emerald eyes examine you critically, and then one voluminous sleeve indicates you to take the stool across from her. Her voice is older, huskier than the one you remember, but it nonetheless bares enough resemblance to send an electric shock of recognition through you.

    “Come, sit down. I am Katrina Alstan, leader of the Ghosts of Callaway. Kris tells me that you claim to be my father, Korram? I’m afraid I was just a child then, with the hazy memories that accompany childhood. And it has been a long time since I last saw my father. With your permission, I’d like to ask you a few questions. Understand that if you answer incorrectly, you will be exposed as a fraud, and I’ve been taken advantage of enough in the past that I will not look kindly on your revealed deception. Are you still sure you want to stick by your claim that you are Korram Alstan, my father?”
    At first Korram can't even believe that this strange woman is his daughter; but then, slowly, recognition comes to him. She had something of her mother in her. This was his daughter, and truly she had grown into a fine woman. But still, Korram's feelings are mixed. This was his daughter, but he had barely recognized her. He had been gone for the better part of her life, and if he is honest he was a poor father before that, lost in his crusade against the Baron.
    I wonder if the heroes of legends and tales had their own doubts and failures...or am I just unworthy of fame?
    Well, you did have a lot of help...
    Please. You will be free soon enough. Let me have some peace.
    Calcifer grumbles, but relents, retreating to a corner of Korram's mind.

    "Thank you. I would introduce myself...but that seems to be a bit of a pointless gesture, given the nature of this meeting. Of course, you may ask me what you will. I will answer to the best of my abilities. My memories are also a bit hazy; Ironheart was rather engaging."

    Korram didn't know what to expect in the meeting, but the feeling of awkwardness and regret coursing through him was not it.
    Last edited by Dorizzit; 2009-04-28 at 02:55 PM.
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  19. - Top - End - #139
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    ~Tare

    Tare recoiled back from the door as soon as he saw Red move toward it, looking around for hiding places and directions in which to disappear, both of which he immediately found several options for. However, another thought occurred to him at that moment, and though other, more logical minds would have instantly seen only the potential for things to go horribly, horribly wrong, Tare bypassed such rationality with but a thought.

    Already his hands began moving, flittering through a series of four distinct positions before coming to rest with the tips of his forefingers, little fingers, and thumbs touching, and the remaining digits laced together in the middle. Tare felt the well of energy within him stirring as his fingers moved, and when they stopped he spoke a single word, the meaning of which he had only a reasonable guess, and the energy reacted to his call.

    Tare had long realized, though, that it wasn't the hand positions or the spoken word that guided or commanded the magic that was about to come forth; these motions were merely a physical exercise to remind his will of the path it must take in determining the magical effect. He knew that he could enact the same effect by mere concentration, and had done so before, in fact, but this was no time for guesswork or chance. Tare knew that he had no time for the extra three seconds of concentration, and so relied on the shortcut that he had half-learned, half-invented; he was wise to do so, for but a mere heartbeat later, it had already taken near to its full effect.

    Tare did not watch, for his eyes were solidly fixed on the entrance of the room ahead of him, but he felt the odd coolness of this magic cover his entire body... and then fade him from sight. Tare felt the enchantment radiating from his chest and spreading like a lantern in every direction, but stopping just past the boundaries of his body to form a protective layer of magic, one that did not just make someone think they did not see him, but erased his presence from the visual spectrum altogether. It was an absurdly useful thing to one who based his profession on not being noticed, and one of the most commonly used tools up the street rogue's sleeves--just behind his silver tongue, and just above his invaluable lock pick; of the three, only one could never be taken away.

    When the masked female figure emerged in front of him, Tare stood intentionally directly in its path. Knowing that the dirty-red haired creature would not be able to see him, he allowed her to walk right into the invisible barrier that he posed, and took advantage of her surprise to allow her to fall over backwards in bewilderment. Before she could react, however, he spoke; a feral, animalistic growl took over his voice, an awkward tone of restrained frustration implying that even so much as speaking in audible words was an exercise in easily exhaustible patience. With a bit of mimicry and a whole lot of imagination, Tare hoped that he sounded like something that would live down here-- and with how diverse these things tended to be, he would not have been surprised to discover that he had mimiced something somewhere pretty decently. "I have been sent to determine your progress with the... new acquisition," He uttered coldly, watching the slave maiden picking herself up off the ground (or not). "Where... exactly... were you going...?" His voice purred with fake innoccuousness, secretly pretending that he was maliciously interested in that information, and its potential to cause suffering in the fell maid's life, and also that he was trying to hide that cruel intent so that the redhead would not suspect him of desiring her pain... and then on top of that, pretending that he was not hiding it very well.
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-04-25 at 05:52 PM.
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    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  20. - Top - End - #140
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    Sohssal

    Sohssal pondered over the varying tastes of the Manahound's magic for a few moments before the arrival of the man distracted him. He did not look amused to see him, but then again a shadowy being like himself couldn't show much of any emotion. Once Omega informed him of the mental shield, he knew what he had to do.

    "A shame. Vandalism is so...energizing," he said smugly. At the same time he kept a lookout for any magic that might have something to do with the mental shield. Provoking emotion like he was trying to do could often strain such barriers, or at least it has in Sohssal's experience. In any case, I'm not particularly capable of drinking," he commented, drifting over to the mage. Not only did such proximity to a demonic spirit unnerve most people, being so close allowed Sohssal a much clearer chance to detect any magic on this man's person.
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  21. - Top - End - #141
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    Ruya

    The girl’s sudden terror brought a surge of memory in Ruya. A flash of terror, a vampire standing over her, seeing through her illusion as though it didn’t exist, the paladin charging forward despite his wounds. She shook her head, dispelling the memory. Varlest was destroyed, and that ambush where they had first met had been years ago. She was a different person, now, from that inexperienced mercenary on her first battle. “He always enters in the same way? Which door?” The sound of the bats was beginning to fade, but Ruya knew it wasn’t because the vampire was leaving – he was simply returning to his human form. As the girl pointed, Ruya rushed forward, almost stumbling in her haste. Hastily, she scribed the first rune she had memorized before entering over the doorjamb and edge of the door itself and activated it. Its faint glow was reassuring, though she knew the door as a whole would not last long against anyone determined to enter.

    She ran back to the circle and leaned down as she added the final trace necessary, looking up at the girl. “I’ve fought vampires before.” She neglected to add the qualifiers: it had been one vampire, a new spawn rather than one with many lifetimes of experience, and she had always only been back-up to more capable mercenaries, but fear and skepticism still matched on the girl’s face. She reached out her hand, holding the girl’s in her own. “I can handle him.” As the girl slowly stepped away from the bed and into the circle, she looked up at her. “This magic will hide you from his human cultists, but not the undead. Get out of the house and find a town guard to help you. Don't worry about me; I can keep him busy in here.” The door shifted slightly, as the vampire found his way suddenly and unexpectedly barred. It creaked ominously as he began to apply more of his strength.

    Nespryatli vid.” The circle activated, flaring brilliantly around them. “Go, now.” She let go, turning away as she heard the other door slam open and the girl flee. The door before her burst open, and the vampire stepped into the room with a preternatural, inhuman grace. Ruya looked steadily at the same sort of creature she had faced three times before, and beaten only once. Her heart racing, her breathing slightly irregular, she kept her calm by dint of will and the pendant clasped in her left hand. The circle beneath her feet continued to glow with power, but the vampire’s gaze flicked immediately to the empty bed. “She’s gone, but I stayed to prepare this for you. You recognized me, didn’t you? Who are you?” She only needed to distract the vampire long enough for the girl to escape, and talk, especially backed up by something the vampire would recognize as powerful magic but not necessarily a specific spell, would accomplish that. Her own escape, though, would rely on her pendant's power, even if she didn't know how it would interact with the circle still active underneath her.
    Last edited by Meltemi; 2009-04-28 at 01:08 PM.
    Ruya Perist, Flight from Ironheart
    Teira Feiwright, Lost and Clueless

    I am me, you are you.
    We’re totally different, separate persons.
    But even so, what if we have just one thing in common?

  22. - Top - End - #142
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Mar

    Mar woke to the cold. Her wings covered her, but even without the snow, the ground was as cold the metal floors back home. Like some hungry monster, trying to suck all the heat out of her. The fire was gone, but bits of it were still glowing, and she used one of them to light one of the sticks on fire. She piled another two on, doing it like she remembered William had. It didn't work very well at first, and she was afraid she'd done it wrong, but then the fire started to spread, and she was warm again. The front of her, anyway. She wondered if she could make two fires, and sit between them.

    But fire hurt; she didn't think she wanted it all around her. Old hazy memories stirred at the thought, threatening to rise to the surface, and Mar stopped thinking about it and lay back on the ground, staring at the sky. She could keep running—it didn't matter if anyone followed her, if she just kept running—but... the snow would cut her feet. And she was hungrier than ever. Caroline and William wouldn't find her either, if she ran. She decided to think about something else again, and her thoughts drifted to the dream.

    What a strange dream. Terrible and tantalizing, just like the others. As frightening as the end always was, she couldn't help but wish she could go back to the beginning. She didn't know the words to describe it, but it was nice. But she couldn't have it. She tried to not think about that too, but the longing didn't go away. She didn't really want to forget about it; it hurt that she couldn't go back, but remembering was the next best thing.

    Lying there in the chilly, fire-warmed morning and looking up at the sky and looking at her dreams just like another person had once looked at the treasures in the chest, Mar felt almost peaceful. She liked the grey morning, even if it was a little cold.

    She was like that for a little while, enough for the sky to get bluer and lighter, before something came to her. The hole in the ceiling was the same one she'd seen in her dream.

    Disquieting. The peaceful grey morning was mostly gone now, and she sat up, hoping that she wouldn't need to wait much longer for William and Caroline.
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  23. - Top - End - #143
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    Hans von Ravenstein
    Hans' gaze followed the vampire as he snuck through the grayeyard. He envied the dead man. He was as much as abomination as Hans, but he managed to be liked. He managed to be graceful. He managed not to be noticed, which was all in all his most enviable quality.

    Hans turned to Ross rather sadly.
    "If I go with you, there's no point in sneaking. They'll hear me coming miles away"
    Scruff barked in agreement, and Hans cheered up slightly, reminded that his little buddy was still there with them.
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  24. - Top - End - #144
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    Telest

    He slowly slides into the chair as he fuly draws in the Tur's appearence. "Well I was in my cell sleeping when I heard shouting and screaming. Immediatly I knew I might be able to escape, but I didn't know what was giving me this opportunity. Then I saw what they were. Creatures of varying shades and colors. They were in different shapes and sizes, but one that looked almost wolf like crashed into my cell bending the bars.

    It got up and attacked a guard that was nearby. I took the chance and escaped through a small opening through the bars and ran. As I ran I saw more kinds of these creatures. I ran through the carnage of the battle between these creatures and the guards. Much of the rest is more blur than memory.

    I remember seeing bug faced procupine things and an imp like creature. I also remeber steeling a wyvern being attacked by winged creatures abuot the size of a man. I guess I probably saw around two dozen of the creatures, but I bet there was more. Most of those were flying in the sky too. I don't know who won the battle though, but I'm guesssing the guards did as it seems they sent some people after me."


    Periodically throughout the recount of what happened his eyes partially glaze over as he remembered his escape. "I don't know how much that would help you though." When his eyes aren't glazed over he observes the Tur's face trying to determine what knd of a man he is. Whether he is cunning, blunt, manipulative, greedy, or crazy.
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  25. - Top - End - #145
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    Gazrul

    Gazrul watched as the trees sprung to life, full of elf soldiers. But what in the name of the Ancestors were the elves doing here? He soon saw that questions would have to wait, as he barely dodged a hail of withering arrowfire.

    Getting himself up, he makes his way towards cover only to see a few more elves come out from behind them. One soldier comes right in front of him, bow in hand.

    Gazrul, seeing the elf, raises his shield to cover him and charges, aiming to batter him into submission.

    OoC: Okay, so a couple of possibilities here...

    [If he manages to KO the elf]

    His foe knocked out, Gazrul barks orders at this men.

    "Find cover! Quickly now! Boulders, fallen logs, anything! And men," he growls angrily, "Don't concern yourselves with prisoners."

    He scrambled to get out the communication crystal.

    "Wulric! We need you now! We're under attack! There are elves attacking from the trees!

    [If the elf gets out of the way or something]

    Gazrul quickly halts and spins back towards his enemy.

    "Stop running like a coward! Fight me face to face! Like a real soldier!"

    He draws his sword and circles the elf archer, shield raised defensively.
    Last edited by Falconer; 2009-04-29 at 06:01 PM.

  26. - Top - End - #146
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Ardraket Oldn
    As the office exclaims his satisfaction in finding the book, Ardraket smiles as the sounds of the door opening echo through the room. By fate he happened to be the one holding the book and it swiftly vanished within the confines of his uniform. Looking over at Vash mentally Ardraket shook his head at the grand theatrics. He happened to have been observing one of the classes in the arts that Vash was a student in and even at that young age he had a taste for the dramatic.
    After Vash has spun his tale of demons and purification and the guards took their leave Ardraket lets himself relax a little and slips from the role of a elderly guard. Listening to Vash describe him it was time for a little payback.
    “A little old and wrinkly, I’m no spring chicken like you but at least I didn’t have to rely on grand theatrics to make my way in here.”
    As Vash reverts to his cocky self Ardraket bows his head slightly at the final comment.
    “I would not say that for you are not at the local tavern. But alas we are wasting time. I have found this book of the high-ranking prisoners and was able to review it. Perhaps your target is within its pages.”
    Holding out the book Ardraket mentally narrows his eyes. It was unusual for two agents to be sent to the same place, though there were rumors that is how some assassins were ‘retired’ so to speak. While he made himself vulnerable by holding out the book he tightened a few muscles in his arm, letting a hidden blade slide into a hidden ready position, ready to strike at a moments notice.
    He did not get this old and wrinkly by being careless around friends.
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    I'm good at making you fear the unknown. Pwenet is good at making you fear the known, which had been the unknown five minutes before he pushed you off screaming into the abyss.
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    I'm feeling this real hard now.
    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

  27. - Top - End - #147
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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    Katrina’s voice holds an undercurrent of bile as she responds. “Yes, I’m sure it was. Did you stay there the entire eight years or did other places occupy your time?”

    Your daughter waits a beat, and then continues, the bile fading from her voice as she bombards you with questions.

    “What was my mother’s name? What was she like? What happened to her? How did you come to manipulate fire so well? Under whose care did you leave me when you would leave town? What was the last thing you said to me?”

    All of these questions you could answer, save for the last one. Then it comes back to you in a flash, that night when the Baron’s men had come to bring you in quietly, or else. You had knelt down in front of your crying, terrified daughter, and whispered some last words as goodbye to her, and as a promise that one day, somehow, you would return.

    (You can make up the answers to any of these questions, or even just say that you answer them correctly if you feel like being lazy. )

    The Heavens

    Baerdog7

    Coming to the mouth of the cave, you look down the sharp incline to where the rocky slope levels off., and see you are not quite too late. Time is running out however, for all the three griffons you see outside the cave are wounded badly. There seems to be a mated pair of them, and then a near full-grown juvenile who is in the worst shape.

    All of them are grounded now, with several jagged harpoons jutting out from their flesh. Thick chains run from the harpoons down to spikes driven into the ground, helping to ensure the beasts remain on the ground. This does not stop the griffons from attempting to take to the skies again, causing the harpoons to twist and tear open ever greater wounds.

    Clustered about the griffons are perhaps a score (twenty) of men, armed with clubs and maces. They clearly mean to render the griffons unconscious, but cower back every time the griffons rear up with an angry hiss at them. It is clear that they are new at this. Fortunately, all of them stop what they are doing and turn to face you in shock and awe upon hearing your challenge.

    A little farther back from the mob is a man on horseback, a knight of some sort judging from his armor and the clear leader of this band. Buried in the ground next to him is a large banner, depicting a golden fist wreathed in flames. Although he too is clearly impressed by your entrance, he is not so affected as to be rendered speechless.

    “Our apologies, good sir! We were unaware that these griffons were anyone’s property! Certainly, they do not seem to be tame. Regardless, I am afraid that these griffons have been called into service by Karth the Purifier! We shall compensate you if they are indeed your property, but we will be taking these beasts back with us!”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    Now awake, you tend the fire back up to a small warming blaze, and watch as the dark blue sky becomes grey, and finally brightens to a much lighter shade of blue. You are starting to wonder when Caroline and William would be coming when you hear the crunch of snow outside. Someone was coming.

    At first you thought it was Caroline and William coming as promised, but something warned you off going to the door to meet them. It occurred to you a moment later why – there was the sound of only one set of footprints, along with an odd tchick sound. If it had been William and Caroline, there also likely would have been the sound of laughter and running, the way they had approached the last time. Your new visitor was silent save for his footsteps and the other odd sound as he approached.

    Creeping over next to the door, you peer through a gap in two of the boards to look out at the surrounding forest. Sure enough, you can see a large man approaching the barn through the trees. In one hand he carries a stout wooden pole, which he stabs into the ground very few steps and uses that to pull himself forward. The pole makes the tchick sound as it stabs down into the snow.

    Although not elderly, he seems to be an older man, with thinning blond hair and watery blue eyes, and a protruding stomach. And yet the man seems oddly familiar to you, as if he were an old friend you had not seen in quite some time.

    Stopping in front of the barn but not entering it, the man silently stands there, examining the ruined structure. He shakes his head and turns around as if to walk away back the way he had come, but then stops again. With a sigh, he turns back to the barn and calls out.

    “Hello! Is there anyone in there!? I was told an angel named Mar had moved in! If so, I brought her breakfast!”

    The man stands there a moment more, and then rubs his face with his free hand, clearly embarrassed.

    “You’ve done a lot of stupid things in your life before Jacob, but this has to be the dumbest.” The man mutters to himself, no doubt contemplating between going inside the barn and simply walking away. Instead, he simply sighs and calls out again.

    “My daughter Caroline said I could find you here! She was most insistent that I come out here to meet you, and that I bring food!”

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Meltemi

    The girl shakes her head violently, but nonetheless for a moment hope flares in her eyes. “He’ll kill you!” She whispers as she nonetheless slides off the bed to stand within the circle. The once again pale-faced girl stares into your eyes, and then lowers them from your face. “There’s an interior stairwell. Through the door behind us, and then behind the second door on the right. I’ll wait for you outside!” She whispers as the magic of your runic circle fades slightly, an indication that the invisibility spell was now in effect on you both.

    As the door begins to rattle, the girl takes flight, a stumbling gait that nonetheless manages to get her out of the room as you begin to hear chanting from outside. A moment later, and the door explodes inward in a hail of jagged splinters. Rather that tear you to shreds however, the sharp shards of wood clatter to the floor only a few feet beyond the doorway, leaving it wide open for the vampire to step into the room. Again, the creature’s face is concealed by the cowl of its cultist robes, but you can tell that it’s grinning.

    “Ah, so it was you after all. And I most certainly recognize you.” The vampire extends a long pale finger towards your pendant. “And that – I remember the putrid stench of its purity at least. *Drop* it!”

    A sudden sharp spike of pain jabs into your mind, and without further thought your hand lifts the pendant up off of your neck and then deposits it onto the floor.

    “Much better.” The vampire says, and with another motion conjures a wave of force that strikes you solidly in the chest, likely much similar to the one he used to destroy the door. The impact sends you sailing backward through the air, yet you crash into the back wall with relatively little force, just enough for your back to deliver a complaint as you drop down to the floor on hands and knees.

    Now clearly delighted, the vampire gives a slight cackle as it advances further into the room, but stops at the edge of your circle, its cowled head cocking to one side and then the other as it examines your runic circle.

    “Most interesting. Is this how you do your magic? I’m a student of the arcane myself, so I’ve always had an interest in such things. Although I must admit, I’ve always been more interested in forms that can give me more power than a few mere doodles.”

    The vampire looks back up at you, beginning to studiously circle around the outside of the circle as he continues his leisurely approach.

    “So tell me, where are you friends? You always used to have a curtain of brave fools around you. Did you get them all killed or have you become such an experienced vampire hunter that you no longer need their protection? It really doesn’t matter, I’m just curious how many others remain for me to take revenge for my own death on.”

    Now the vampire reaches up and throws back his cowl, and the sanity of the universe recedes as you see that it is unquestionably Varlest. His appearance is slightly different than you remember, foremost among them being that the irises of his eyes are now blood-red. Vampires tended to retain the color of their eyes that they had prior to undeath, although subtle changes were often common. Evidently Varlest had undergone significant changes from the vampire you had once known for his physical appearance to be so affected, and his greatly increased potency with magic.

    Again the vampire cackles as he moves to directly in front of you, although he does stand back far enough that a lunged strike to the heart with a stake would be difficult to impossible.

    “Surprised to see me? Well don’t worry, we’ll have all the time in the world to catch up. Like the little morsel said, I *will* kill you, but not until you beg me for it at least once. And then I’ll probably just turn you, not kill you. I’ve always been interested in seeing one of my kind go mad as the Thirst consumes them.”

    (Currently Varlest is between you and the pendant, but not between you and the door. Of course, chances are good he’s fast enough to intercept you, so either option will be difficult. )

    WhiteKnight777 & MrEdwardNigma

    At Hans’s comment, Ross snorts. “I’m not usually one for subtly anyway, lad. Let them have time to wet their robes in anxiety upon seeing us coming for them. And anyway.”

    Ross sweeps his hand over the empty graveyard.

    “There’s not exactly a good way to sneak up on them anyway, this being little more than a field with knee-high stones everywhere. We’d have to crawl on our bellies practically to get the jump on them.”

    That said, with renewed purpose Ross walks towards the cluster of cultists. The rest of the group follows, and it does indeed not take long for everyone to be noticed. One of the figures can be seen pointing in their direction, and after another minute or so several figures detach themselves from the circle. The two groups meet at the base of the gently sloping hill that leads up to where the rest of the cultists are located.

    Although there is one cultist for every member of the group, it is clear that they are the ones intimidated upon coming within range for close examination. Umber notices that hemmed into each of the cultist’s robes are several phrases in his old native tongue, each praising Kartul, the Ungod of Blood.

    “Is . . . is that a golem?” One of the cultists whispers upon getting a good look at Hans. One of the other cultists shakes his head vehemently. “No, that is no golem. It’s a monster.”

    The lead cultist bows low in Umber’s direction. “Welcome, revered one. Our ceremony is almost complete, if you have come to check on our status. Of course, you are welcome to join us as well.”

    The cultist looks in confusion at Hans, Bran, and Ross. “Certainly, your bodyguards are welcome also, but I would advise them to be careful. Those not skilled in the arcane could inadvertently ruin the ritual by their very presence.”

    Ross seems about to say something, but then he slowly smiles. “I’ve done my share of “rituals” before, lad. I’m sure we’ll all be careful.”

    Ross gives an exaggerated low bow, and motions Umber to proceed up the hill with a sweep of his arm. “This way, your lordship.” How the cultists didn’t become wet with his dripping sarcasm, no one knows, but they nonetheless also shuffle aside to allow Umber and the others to proceed them back up the hill. Ahead, an eerie green glow begins to form around the apex of the hill, and the chanting voices begin to crescendo to the obvious climax of their ritual.

    Iethloc

    As you drift up the stairs towards him, Heath takes a wary step back.

    “Well, if none of you want to take advantage of my offer of hospitality then, why don’t we get to business so you can leave? I think you’ve broken enough of my things tonight.”

    “Things which have all tried to kill us.” The acolyte snorts, drawing an angry glare from your target.

    “You broke into my house! Am I not allowed to defend against intruders wontedly breaking in at night and making a mess of things?”

    Heath was clearly getting angry, and now that you were close you can sense that he did have some protective magicks up. Nothing that you would recognize as a mental shield, however, just protective wards against magic and spirits. You are sure that he would be able to detect if you drained any of them away. You are considering your options when Omega enters your thoughts again.

    I have succeeded in breaching his mental defenses. What do we wish to know?

    Well, obviously your buddy Seymour wants Heath’s connections to these necromancers. Maybe he also knows what they’re doing in the city? And while you’re in there, how about grabbing the combination to his safe, assuming mages even store things in safes.

    At the top of the stairs, Heath grimaces and takes another stumbling step backward away from you, while raising a hand to his temple. “I don’t know which of you is in my head, but get out! Get out, argh!”

    Heath grimaces again and doubles over as apparently a spike of pain passes through his mind.

    This man definitely has had dealings with the cultists. They used to meet at a small fountain near to the gate leading out to the graveyard. In exchange for his cooperation, they promised him power in the time to come. They have a meeting scheduled for tonight in a few hours.

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    As you speak, the Tur listens to your story intently. His eyes shine with a keen sense of cunning, tempered by the wisdom of years of experience. You feel confident that although Villid is rather old for an elf, especially to be out on campaign, he nonetheless is a capable leader. And judging by the way his own guards look at him, his men hold him with the utmost respect.

    When you are finally finished, the Tur holds up a hand. “Quite an interesting story you have to tell. These creatures sound like the humans’ demons, though I wonder how they got into the fortress and why they were attacking the humans. Before committing to an all-out attack, I should like to know the answers to those questions. Would you be willing to lead a scouting team back into the fortress? I am sure your experience with the fortress in its entirety is limited, but it is nonetheless more than any of my other men have.”

    Falconer

    Raising your shield and charging back up onto your feet, you feel a shudder pass through your arm as the elf’s arrow thuds harmlessly into your shield. An even more violent shudder passes through your arm as you plow into the elf, sending him sprawling to the ground. With your opponent momentarily dazed, you bark orders to your men, already fighting desperately to return fire against the elves and survive as others spring up from the underbrush to engage them in melee.

    Wulric looks surprised, but immediately his fierce grin returns and he nods. “We will be right there, sir!”

    Looking back at your opponent, you see that the elf still has some fight in him as he comes out of his stupor and rolls back up onto his feet. Tossing his bow aside, the elf draws two long thin blades from his belt, cautiously beginning to circle you. Then in a blur he leaps forward, feinting low with the first blade while stabbing the second high towards your face.

    Lonna

    As the two elves begin to approach your doorway, the remaining unhindered elf notches an arrow as he steps forward to loom over Klaus. The old man fumbles for the crossbow, his fingers just brushing the back of the stock. Upon seeing the elf line his shot up, Klaus stops and merely closes his eyes. He opens one eye again in confusion as you shout your command, and the elf about to shoot him momentarily stiffens.

    The one elf continues rolling around on the floor with Rudolf, and the other two elves continue towards the doorway. However, both of them stop as the second elf swings back into motion, barking a command you don’t understand. Both elves nonetheless ready their bows, keeping them aimed in your general vicinity. Behind you the Countess tries to discretely slide around to the door itself, doubtless in an attempt to slam it shut, but a sharp motion from one of the bow elves brings her to a halt.

    With a harsh whisper, Klaus gives a command to Rudolf as well, and the wolf ceases its attack, allowing the elf to crawl backwards and sit up with a gasped curse. His face is bleeding, and after reaching up to touch his wound the elf sneers in anger and readies his bow at Rudolf, who continues to back away towards Klaus with a menacing low growl. Another sharp command from the second elf causes the injured elf to lower his own bow as well, although he continues to glare at the wolf.

    The elves all listen intently to your greeting in their native tongue, and your explanation in your own native tongue. None of them save for the second elf seem to understand a word you say after the language switch, and even the second elf clearly has trouble following along. In elvish the second elf, who seems to be the one in charge, barks a question at you, his words smoothly flowing into each other beautifully. The intent behind those words seems to be anything but beautiful, and a moment later he tries again with a different set, and then finally with a third, each time growing slightly more aggravated. Finally he mutters something that is undoubtedly some kind of elvish curse, before speaking in a broken form of the human language.

    “Good you fear we. We take prisoner, not kill.” Although he stumbles slightly over the words, the next phrase comes through perfectly, no doubt the result of rote memorization. “Surrender or die!” He then barks another order in elvish, and the remaining three elves spring back into motion.

    The wounded elf clambers up to his feet, stowing his bow while drawing a length of viney rope from his belt. One of the two elves nearest to you stows his bow to do the same, while the other elf continues to cover you and the Countess. As the elf approaches the doorway, he begins to uncoil the rope, and pantomimes putting your hands behind your back.

    “Oh no, I’ve heard what elves do to their prisoners.” Klaus grunts from the floor, eyeing his own approaching elf cautiously while Rudolf moves to block the elf, his growl reaching a fever pitch. In reaction the second elf readies his bow to point at the dog, seemingly to talk at it directly in elvish. Rudolf ***** his ears and suddenly whimpers in response, although he holds his ground, clearly uncertain what to do. The lead elf speaks again, and draws his bowstring back further, the threat against Rudolf clear even with the words unrecognizable.

    Pwenet

    “Ah, that will be quite useful! Unfortunately they didn’t give me a name, would have made this so much easier.”

    Taking the offered book into his hands, Vash does not take advantage of your vulnerability, and indeed displays a slightly dangerous level of trust as he turns away and walks over to one of the nearby desks. Throwing the book down on to the desk, he begins to rapidly flip through its pages.

    “Do you have any identification on your own target? Maybe I’ll find him while I look for my own guy.” Vash says, pausing his search to thump on the chair next to him.

    “Come on old man, give those weary bones a rest! I don’t know what the higher-ups are thinking, sending us out to kill people locked away in Ironheart. Seemed like kind of a waste to me, although now I guess I’m not so sure. Think our targets were responsible for all of this?”

    You did get some identifying information on your target. He was a former paladin, sent here by his own church for heresy. He was said to have copper-red hair and piercing blue eyes, with a series of three parallel scars running down the left side of his face. At least the description was distinct even if they were unable to give you more than that, and it was likely even the terse prisoner records would make mention of his scars.

    The Hells

    Outside the Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    As planned, Red blindly walks into you, rebounding from the impact to fall heavily to the floor just outside the door. She looks back up at the blank spot of air (to her) where you were standing, and clenches her fists in clear anger. Just as quickly however, that anger is replaced by fear as you begin speaking. Remaining of the floor, Red starts to shiver violently, and she clasps her hands together and offers them to you in a clear sign of submission.

    In your life, you had done some things for the thieves guild you weren’t entirely proud of. You had participated a few times in the questioning of shopkeeps who claimed they could no longer afford to pay the guild for “protection”. And occasionally you had made false claims yourself, conning guards or marks into doing whatever was needed. You therefore had a fairly good sense of recognizing a con when you saw it. And although Red was frightened, she was clearly also playing it up for your benefit.

    Once you were finished speaking, Red began to rapidly move her fingers, flashing odd signs at you. It was clearly some sort of sign language, but what she was actually saying to you was unclear. Gesturing back into the room, Red points at Brown, and then finishes her apparent report with an angry series of signals. Even without understanding what, it was clear to you that Red was trying to blame Brown for what happened.

    As if sensing what was going on outside, Brown comes over to the doorway. She grunts in surprise upon seeing Red, and gets her attention by leaning down to angrily tap her on the shoulder. Brown then points down the hallway with another angry groan, and Red responds with an angry series of finger gestures before pointing back at you. Brown gives a short bow in your direction, but otherwise gives no other sign of submission. Brown’s finger flex some sort of question, and then she steps back into the room, apparently to allow you to enter.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  28. - Top - End - #148
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Inwardly, Umber sighed. 'Ungod of Blood'? By Mother Night, the skeletal old necrophile had finally lost it. Next he'd be menacing young maidens while cackling and screaming that 'soon he would be invincible.' And we all know where that sort of rubbish leads, don't we?

    Still, he put on a confident smile for the sake of the cultists, striding forward with the sort of self-assured grace that only a vampire lord could manage. He smiled, showing off his gleaming fangs to impress the cretinous little gits that Kartul was evidently surrounding himself with as he marched up the hill. He listened carefully, trying to discern the purpose of the chant while visually appraising the ritual sight for clues to the same. At the same time he spoke, his voice smooth, confident, but not overly pompous.

    Excellent. Where is Lord Kartul at the moment? I have been out of contact for some time due to unexpected interference, and I need to converse with him.

  29. - Top - End - #149
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Pyrene

    Pyrene listened hard when the elf spoke, trying to catch one of the few words and phrases her mother had been able to teach her. For his part, the elf seemed to realize that she could not understand him, because he switched to broken Human.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre
    “Good you fear we. We take prisoner, not kill.” Although he stumbles slightly over the words, the next phrase comes through perfectly, no doubt the result of rote memorization. “Surrender or die!” He then barks another order in elvish, and the remaining three elves spring back into motion.

    The wounded elf clambers up to his feet, stowing his bow while drawing a length of viney rope from his belt. One of the two elves nearest to you stows his bow to do the same, while the other elf continues to cover you and the Countess. As the elf approaches the doorway, he begins to uncoil the rope, and pantomimes putting your hands behind your back.

    “Oh no, I’ve heard what elves do to their prisoners.” Klaus grunts from the floor, eyeing his own approaching elf cautiously while Rudolf moves to block the elf, his growl reaching a fever pitch. In reaction the second elf readies his bow to point at the dog, seemingly to talk at it directly in elvish. Rudolf ***** his ears and suddenly whimpers in response, although he holds his ground, clearly uncertain what to do. The lead elf speaks again, and draws his bowstring back further, the threat against Rudolf clear even with the words unrecognizable.
    <Please, no,> she called out, extending her hand as if to stop him from across the room. "Don't hurt them." Looking between the two people who had saved her life, Pyrene spoke carefully, knowing it had to sound like she was persuading them to cooperate. "Klaus, Amelia, do as they say and trust me. Do not provoke them and be ready to move. I do not want you to be hurt, but I do not think I can stop the arrows." After a short pause to make sure they had time to understand what she meant, she looked at Rudolf and added, "If you understand the elves, now would be a good time to cover your ears and dodge arrows." ... *<Goodnight>*

    Even as she spoke the command word, Pyrene leapt sideways, knocking the Countess and herself out of the path of arrows loosed by sleep-laxened fingers. Climbing to her feet, she looked into the other room.

    "Klaus, are you and Rudolf unharmed? she whispered. I don't know how long this will last - I just used a compulsion to put them to sleep. Garthax, wherever you're hiding it's safe to come out now." {{Assuming they are all fine, she'll go straight into the questions.}} "Klaus, what exactly do elves do to prisoners? And what do you want to do now?
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  30. - Top - End - #150
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Gourtox's Avatar

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    Telest

    He sits listening digilently to the wise old Tur. "Although I don't have hardly any experience leading though and my weapons were confiscated when I was put into Ironheart, I will if you want me to. I'm guessing you will want me to leave immediately, but before I do may I get a bow and a sword?" He is surprised the Tur would trust him after only a short time, but he was an elf and other than him being in prison they had nothing to suspect of him. He wonders what they're reaction would be if they learned he was assasain. Would they arrest him or would they understand and still trust him?
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