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Thread: By Rook, Wrath, and Ruin (Solo)

  1. #31
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    Leopold's Avatar

    Name
    Leopold Winchester
    Age
    4000+ (appears 30)
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Brown
    Eye Color
    Brown
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    5'10"/140lbs
    Job
    Merchant

    “It is time for the Old Gods to rise, to wake, to take back these lands from the bastard children of the al-Thayne!” an echo of her declaration shot out over the tundra, washing over the caravan and dancing out into the cold beyond. Her words would echo in the peaks of the Ahyark Mountains for centuries, whispers on the wind to tired minds.

    The flame column began to descend. It diminished until it rose only up to the creature’s head. It still burnt so bright that Leopold had trouble looking through the coruscating flicks of spirit. Orange, red, and gold swirled about in the conflagration. There was a scent of cinnamon and hot sand in the air that even Berevar’s blank and empty landscape could not quell.

    “Leopold,” Clarissa pleaded. Though she was still mortally wounded she turned her attention briefly to Raven. There was sadness in her voice that humbled the merchant. “I am sorry…I am sorry I was blinded by my own rage…” in the new found calm of the tundra, the necromantic energies that fuelled her half living state began to fade.

    Leopold could only mouth “I know…”

    Before they gave up entirely she clicked her arm so that it rose in front of her face. Concealing her ugliness was her own doing, but Rook spent the last of its power to do something more human than deity.

    “Fight for your freedom…I am sorry it took me all this time to realise we were never meant to be…”

    A blast of energy flew out of her body and danced across the ice. With a high pitched screech it smashed into Leopold’s wide girth. He was winded before his heavy, snow covered boots lifted up from the ground. He was screaming before he could acknowledge that gravity was failing him. He was mortified as he flew back through the dark sky in a flutter of cloak, falling top hat and cigars. He finally vomited. Gravy and dumplings returned to his pallet.

    Phoenix turned and screamed. As her voice ascended to the peaks and troughs of the clouds above, a peal of thunder broke the skies. The crackling lightning descended through the heavens with the force of a hurricane. It briefly illuminated the worn wood of the wagon train. The eyes of the on looking guards and the edges of the shattered hole in the veil shone for a few precious seconds.

    “No!”

    As Leopold vanished through the bright, heavenly gate the lightning struck the broken splinter. He fell into a heap at the foot of the first of the great ice columns that formed the ancient monument to the Tap.

    Time seemed to slow, for just a brief second.

    In that fractal moment a raven fluttered out of the Ice Henge and rose into the sky.

    The bolt of lightning struck the crack and sealed it shut. A thunderous clap rocked the very fabric of Althanas as the two worlds were torn apart and sealed from one another once more. The deep thud of the air as it rippled out in a shockwave tightened chests and winded lungs. A small circle of outwardly moving snow formed around the entrance to the Ice Henge, marking its location for just a few moments before the wind resumed and the snow began to fall properly on the Dunbar Tundra.

    “If I cannot have him,” Rook said, feathers pushing through her skin, “then you cannot have him either,” she smiled. A cackle pierced Phoenix’s mind, but it was burnt away by the sheer intensity the creature’s memories burnt with.

    Phoenix turned slowly back to the cowed Rook, the heat of her throne of flames keeping her aloft over the spiral of molten rock.

    “You have delivered to me the last piece of the puzzle…all the exiles as one, all the children in the arms of their parents…soon, it will Rise.”

    An arc of flame hotter than the sun shot through the air towards Rook. In the last moments of the bird’s life her eyes shone and the flames illuminated a single tear. For the first time in her long life, Clarissa Montague realised that she had been quite mistaken. Leopold was not hers to control any more. Love, she thought, was the ficklest thing of all. Love was an emotion that could destroy worlds with more certainty than the warring and capricious Thayne ever could.

    She relished another death.

    “By Rook, Wrath, and Ruin…” she mumbled, repeating a promise she had made a thousand years ago, on that very spot.
    Last edited by Leopold; 07-20-13 at 08:14 PM.

  2. #32
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    Leopold's Avatar

    Name
    Leopold Winchester
    Age
    4000+ (appears 30)
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Brown
    Eye Color
    Brown
    Build
    5'10"/140lbs
    Job
    Merchant

    Present Day
    Berevar, The Winchester Rose Caravan

    Lillith and Arden watched with abject horror as their sister burst into flames and took to murder as her release. Floating in a column of fire and too far away to hear, they could only fill in the blanks in silence. The dancing colours of the lights were hypnotic, one solitary source of heat in the immense bleakness of Berevar.

    “Where…” Arden turned to Wilfred, eyes still half-cocked on the distant conflict, “Did you get this, exactly?” he shook the rifle in his hands. It rattled.

    The man servant tried to smile, somewhat taken aback. “Master drops things, Wilfred…‘acquires’ them.” The butler shrugged. He wrinkled his nose to show his hesitation and his growing discomfort. “That fell from the carriage whilst he was engaged with Lady Montague; I recovered it to add to the collection.”

    Arden read between the lines and found a poetic justice.

    “I do not suppose, Wilfred my man, that in your acquisitions you have something a little…” he smacked his lips together and set the butt of the rifle into the trampled snow between his plated boots… “Bigger…do you?”

    It took Wilfred a few moments to run through the contents of the caravan’s cargo before his eyes expanded to the size of dinner plates. Lillith and Arden well versed in body language both stared at him expectantly. In the distance, there was an eruption of light cresting over the ridge of the ice tundra. A bolt of lightning broke the silence and a scent on the wind of burning flesh.

    Wilfred beamed a smile, “you just made Frieda a very happy woman!” he turned on a clumsy heel and ran along the eastern convex of the Winchester Rose Company caravan. Arden watched the weasel like man fade into obscurity behind one of the red canopies, before he looked back at his sister.

    “No matter what happens from now on Lillith do not hesitate.” He nodded towards the fire column, which by now had turned its attention to the wagon. “Whatever remains of Ruby will be quite safe…what lies on the surface, however,” he unsheathed Kerria and let it fall to his side, “must perish…” He turned his boot and brought his blade up high.

    He charged, and Lillith trailed after him with a whirl of her tanto and a lump in her throat.
    Last edited by Mordelain; 07-21-13 at 02:19 PM.

  3. #33
    Member
    EXP: 20,122, Level: 6
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    Leopold's Avatar

    Name
    Leopold Winchester
    Age
    4000+ (appears 30)
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Brown
    Eye Color
    Brown
    Build
    5'10"/140lbs
    Job
    Merchant

    Present Day
    Berevar, The Ahyark Pass

    A raven smothered in a veil of midnight flew across the Dunbar, its beating wings holding it aloft in desperation and hope. With the connection between its corporeal form and the spiritual hubris of its master’s power fading, it exerted itself as much as it could to reach its destination in time.

    The creatural instincts of the avian vessel drove it to succeed. The world was at stake.

    Clarissa Montague, tired, drained and desperate watched the horizon for signs of the Raven. Stood atop the very same precipice she had ordered the attack from the day before, her cloak flapped in the moonlight and her heart fluttered in the breeze. Soon, it would be nearly dawn, when the winds died and warmth crept up from the south into the tundra. Perhaps there would not be a dawn, if the Old Gods had their way.

    “Come on…come on…come on,” she repeated, a mantra to keep her sanity intact. In those last futile moments of conflict, the paradigm shift had unnerved even her emotionless self. Whilst the caravan had wound itself over the Dunbar, she had flown north ahead to the Ice Henge to prove her doubts incorrect. When she had arrived, and felt the Tap swirling about in the ice spires, she had her very identity sundered.

    All the long years she had spent warring with Raven, they were for nought. The locus of the very thing they had sacrificed everything for was nestled in the one place they had left to call home. Leopold might have wished to turn his back on the Old Gods once and for all, but he would have to take sides one last time before the freedom he so painfully longed for would finally be his.

    Whump.

    The soft beating of wings brought Clarissa’s gaze to the east, cupped around the cliff face which rose up behind her. Her heart whimpered, her soul burnt, her eyes watered in anticipation and the lashing tendrils of the icy wind. She clenched her fists tight about the hilt of her blade and the last of her vials of blood. If she died this time, it would be a true death; her soul could not remain tethered to the necromantic vessels gifted to her by her former master any more.

    A raven crested the cliff, desperately trying to remain aloft. Clarissa screeched with joy and pounded the air with her blade. It caught the moonlight, another flash of conflict in the wilderness of the north.

    “You remembered…” she whispered into the bird’s mind as it came in to land. In its final descent, she held out her arm and vented power into her limb so that a thick, leathery skin and a covering of thick black feathers burst through her glove. The raven’s claws came to land, and her arm wavered under its bulk. “Oh I am so sorry Rave.…I realised too late…so many years wasted, so much rage wielded against me…” she cocked her head in admiration at the swirling, blood red sigils and glyphs that swarmed beneath the plumes of the spiritual residue of her former lover.

    It was the Old God’s soul that resided within the man now called Leopold Winchester. It was the last vestige of the power he had, for so long, struggled to be rid of.

    “If you are here now…” she pursed her lips and looked out onto the distant tundra. Even from here, she could see the pillar of flame that swarmed the aspect of the Old God called Bard. It was a distant, minute glimmer on the horizon, a beacon calling her to the salvation of her kind once more. “Oh Leopold…I am sorry…” she said in mourning.

    “I never meant for you to die…” she caressed the nape of the Raven a few times with a delicate hand, before she drew it into her chest and commanded her heart to reach out to the spirit of her kin.

    In a flash of vermilion fire the two aspects of the Old God pantheon disintegrated and reformed in a maelstrom of desperation, watchfulness and reverence for the lost. The mass of ribbons stooped mid-air until it burst upwards, a blackbird conjured from the sacrifice of a Rook and a Raven. It arced down into the Ahyark Pass, beat its wings and let out a shrill cry that broke the winds and drowned out the watchful gaze of the Old Gods, who shook in fear from the sanctuary of the Ice Henge at the sight.

    With one last beat the creature once called Rook, and the dying soul of Raven careened north to aid of Ruby Winchester.
    Last edited by Mordelain; 07-21-13 at 02:20 PM.

  4. #34
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    Morus's Avatar

    Name
    Morus
    Age
    14
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    5'1", 105 lbs.

    Plot ~ 22/30

    Storytelling ~ 8/10 - There was a certain magic to this thread when it came to the many colliding points of view, character storylines, and twists, though I'll go into more detail later on most of these points. Having read Shadow Rituals before this, I had a better understanding of Ruby and Leopold's relationship. While you make reference to it through a few smartly woven lines in the narration, By Rook, Wrath, and Ruin clearly showed a far more dominating side a Leopold. Overall, I felt that you could have been a little more detailed into the married couple's past (to show more growth in their conversation inside the carriage, after the initial raid), but you did an absolutely splendid job fitting their story into the events happening during and after the Brigades attack. I was quite pleased how well you fit in all the different storylines, because it added so much more in the way of descriptions and motivations, as well as allowed you to explore other areas of interest in the thread when any particular fight or exchange would begin to wear on tedium.

    However, the multitude of points of view was also some what detrimental. In Part Two especially, the rapid shift in perspective caused more exciting (and climatic) plots to slow down (although I'll get into this more in pacing). And, whenever you split the reader's attention, you're going to end up with some stories more vague than others. Had you found a bit more balance to give to Arden and Lillith, you would have scored perfectly here.

    Setting ~ 7/10 - Berevar felt very much alive, especially when Leopold revealed himself as Raven and felt the pull of the Old Gods. But while you captured a bitter cold, and gave clear and dynamic descriptions in the battles (especially Rook's multiple craters), there were a few details that nagged at me.
    1.) Wagons are horrendous for snow when they have wheels. Not only is the constant wet and freeze a wear on the wood and joints near axels, but any good pile of snow is going to make poorly trodden trails nearly impossible to blow through.
    2.) Wagons with sled tracks would have been far more believable, and I can't imagine their availability too scarce in Salvar.
    Most of my complaints are wagon related, but it's little things like this that breath reality into a story. Though described as harrowing, I felt the Winchester Rose Trading Company found the journey far too easy with merely a bumpy road. Otherwise, I thought your setting was rather good.

    Pacing ~ 7/10 - As I said before, the switch between different character points of view hurt the thread's pacing. With Part Two, Leopold's admission and understanding with Ruby shares attention with Arden and Lillith's ride in the second-to-last (or last, depending on which post you read) carriage. While I found the sibling's game and banter enjoyable, it took away a little of marriage's spotlight. There was one particular moment where you switched to Arden killing the archer positioned to ambush, that felt a bit out of place considering the posts that came before and after it.

    While I was surprised at how much happened, how well, in how little time it all occurred during Part one, I was floored. Clarissa's opening was the perfect hook for a reader, and everything that proceeded it (until the dead were loaded on to the wagon) was heart-pounding and exciting to read. Even when the story went a year in the past, in a different place, it still gripped my attention. But Part Two slowed everything down, so much so that it was jarring to read the climax.

    However, for all my problems with the irresolute nature of this thread's pace, I can understand alternating chronologies making it more difficult to keep a constant speed. Kudos to you for doing it so well.

    Character ~ 25/30

    Communication ~ 8/10 - Your dialogue, especially among members of the company and trope, is some of the most entertaining I have read on Althanas. Perhaps it's because I so rarely read members with such a fleshed out cast of characters, although most other members don't have the energy to make their NPCs into living, breathing PCs. Even characters who aren't regulars of yours, like Wilfred and Lady Montague, shined whenever they had a scene with Leopold. However, sometimes I feel like the characters would do better with some things left unsaid. Occasionally, I found real swaths of dialogue that could have been condensed. However, these incidents were few and far between enough. I only ask that you think of a bit more brevity when writing out conversations. Dialogue is a powerful tool that, when used sparingly, invites an author to try slightly more creative approaches empathizing a character to the audience.

    Action ~ 8/10 - The entirety of it was so rich in the wealth of character action and interaction, it was hard to keep track of everything. This was not, of course, some contextual confusion, but an eagerness for other storylines, fights, or flashbacks to conclude. Each part of Leopold's attendance at the Van Degalion was a jewel of character insight. The second to last wagon had the heart warming game played between Arden and Lillith. Leopold/Raven's revelation to Ruby, Ruby's fight during the Brigade's ambush; all of these things were simply delightful, but lost some smidgen of impact because their scenes were so brief. Clarissa, though, shone through this by having a number of scenes (many of them "death" or post "death") that gave a greater look into her motivations. As I mentioned before, this thread reminded me of Who Mourns for Adonais?, and Lady Montague would be a far poorer character if her motivations weren't laid bare by the end of part one and expanded in part two.

    On a minor note, I very much enjoyed Wilfred's withdrawal in the carriage during Leopold's revelation. Not only did it help establish the oft tumultuous discussions between the Winchesters, it was damned amusing as well.

    Persona ~ 9/10 - My only complaint here is that we didn't get a deep enough look into the Brigade, and that's something I looked forward to as the thread pressed on. I realize that the thread already had enough storylines going on that adding anything else would have only been detrimental to the clarity of the entire thing, but men that would follow a trader/slaver/Old God would have been interesting to peer into to say the least. Clarissa got her moment to shine, and I mentioned how important that is for a compelling villain.

    Beside that insignificant point, I loved nearly every bit of screen time the characters had. I rarely find myself invested in so many characters at once.

    Prose ~ 26/30

    Mechanics ~ 8/10 - A small number of typos cropped up starting at the halfway point of the story, as well as the occasional awkward phrasing. It was rather jarring, considering the first half was pleasantly free of anything. Make sure to pay just as much attention to the middle and ending as you do at to the beginning when you proofread. It's understandable to wane in enthusiasm for editing work when your threads so close to submission, but it's alarming to readers when it all appears so suddenly.

    Clarity ~ 8/10 - There was a bit of confusion at times, and I think it was caused by the sheer volume of activity you had going on during the thread. They are minor issues, but they made the wild landscape of Berevar even harder to imagine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Post Nineteen
    Arden and Lillith rode together in the second to last, discussing matters of the heart and the I Ching – their spirit warder lexicon.
    However, the card game between the siblings, according to your post 25, is in the last wagon of the caravan. Keeping track of this kind of information can be difficult, especially when you're weaving an epic like this together. But solidified details are a foundation to a clear picture of what's going on and where everything is in relation to each other.

    Technique ~ 10/10 - Your use of prose has reached a happy point between functionality and flair. While it made passages feel denser than they had to be at times, you always managed to make it too damn interesting to notice. Leopold's narration was particularly good, especially in the Van Dangellion scenes, yet, what I really appreciated were gems like this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Post Six
    “Behind every good man there is”…Lady Montague tapped him on the shoulder and he stopped mid-sentence.
    Not only is it a clever bit of narration, it ended up filled with a wonderful bit of foreshadowing..

    Wildcard: 8/10 - I doubt believe I've ever been so surprised reading a thread before. Not from Leopold's big reveal, that was more than hinted at. I thought this epic would be bogged down in such thick detail that it would read like some complex tome. Instead, from the very start, you were off running. You managed to merge action and story, character development, and end it with a scene that puts Ragnarok to shame.

    Total ~ 81/100

    EXP - 3280
    GP - TBD (considering the spoils you requested in your submission)

  5. #35
    Non Timebo Mala
    EXP: 126,303, Level: 15
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    Level completed: 46%,
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    Letho's Avatar

    Name
    Letho Ravenheart
    Age
    41
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Dark brown, turning gray
    Eye Color
    Dark brown
    Build
    6'0''/240 lbs
    Job
    Corone Ranger

    EXP added. GP still pending.
    "Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity."

    William Butler Yeats - The Second Coming

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