Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 17

Thread: Finals: Ebivoulya

  1. #1
    Administrator
    EXP: 81,363, Level: 12
    Level completed: 34%, EXP required for next level: 8,637
    Level completed: 34%,
    EXP required for next level: 8,637

    AP
    42
    GP
    535
    Max Dirks's Avatar

    Name
    Max Dirks
    Age
    24
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Green
    Job
    Illicit Entrepreneur

    View Profile

    Finals: Ebivoulya

    The finals will begin Monday April 24, 2017 at 3 PM EST. They will last 2 weeks. You may post at any pace, including a last minute post dump.

    In Akashima, Fordstein’s ploy was successful. Corone’s united army overwhelmed Akashima’s inferior force, and the former Senator was named Baron. In Gisela, Gum and Phyr failed in their mission to deliver the artifact, colloquially known as the ‘Thunderbox’, to Terrence Edim. The Thunderbox was lost to an agent of Fordstein, the assassin Cherub, and Gum and Phyr were captured by Fordstein following the betrayal of Ceidon Lore’s former shipmate, Saieda. With knowledge of a new world teeming with magic courtesy of Saieda and the ‘Thunderbox’ in tow thanks to the Cherub, Baron Fordstein took command of Corone’s navy and sailed on the new world with an invading force.

    You must write a solo, concluding your character’s role in the epoch. Somewhere in the body of your quest, you must:

    1) Name the new land and its people. Additional descriptions, such as city names, flora and fauna will become canon should you win, but only the first two are required.
    2) Baron Fordstein must die. The method is up to you.
    3) Decide the fate of the Tribe and the resistance (both of which can be renamed).

    Keep in mind, as indicated in the opening narrative, magic does not work like normal in the new land. Your ability to reflect this creatively will impact your score. Any NPCs adopted into the story may be used in your threads. Please avoid using other PCs.
    Althanas Operations Administrator

    Dirks GP amount: 2949

  2. #2
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    The soft greens and deep purples of the southern sky flickered with lightning, but the horizon below it stretched barren for miles. Nothing grew along those rocky shores; the only speck of civilization hid deep at the back of a natural harbor. Broad decks and big cannons stood guard at the mouth of that cove, and those ships all flew the same orange flag.

    Over choppy waves a pigeon sailed, slightly tilted and flapping erratically. The bird glided on cool gusts toward the fleet of ships that stalked the deeper waters, and angled for the largest one at the center of the line. Trailing loose feathers, it thudded unceremoniously onto the deck. The bare feet of sailors thumped across the ship as they carried the message to their master, and high on the breeze sailed the flag of the Corone navy.

    Other than tanned sailors, only two men stood atop the swaying deck. A dark green shirt stretched over the broad chest of the largest, but his massive hands carefully carved a shepard at the head of his wooden flock. The man's name was Bones, and he worked for the ambitious Baron Fordstein, along with the half-elf Nyadir who leaned on the far railing. The sulking swordsman rarely spoke with his larger co-worker, and had spent most of the trip eyeing the salt sprays of the southern sea. His bare elbows on the splintered rail, the half-elf stared at the blue stone in his hand. The opaque gem was securely fastened to the leather necklace he wore, and quickly stuffed back under his tan vest when bare feet thumped up to a stop behind him.

    "The Baron'll see ya in his cabin."

    The lad was too green for a campaign like this, but Fordstein did like them young. He led the swordsman to the eccentric man's quarters at the stern of the ship. The rattling of cluttered shelves filled the room as the lad closed the warped door, and the half-elf sat across an ornate desk from his unusual employer. "Excellent," the lithe man said, as he looked up from the bit of parchment unrolled between his bony hands. "The opportunity to make use of your particular talents has finally arisen, as you might've surmised."

    The larger man merely nodded, and the older stroked his graying goatee with a smirk as he explained the situation. "It seems those silver-furred hordes arrayed against us call themselves The Tribe, a brutish name befitting their bestial nature." Derision sat plainly on the air, and the swordsman let his eyes wander from the contempt clear on the man's face. He explained that those animals called this land Melnach; apparently it meant Twisted Sky. The locals certainly had a way with names. The ex-senator finally got to the point, though.

    "I've established contact with the local resistance, and we will be graciously expediting their liberation. All in the name of trade, of course."

    The assorted clinks of figurines and statuettes crammed onto small shelves blended with the groaning of the softly swaying ship, but Fordstein's sonorous voice rose above. "Your tools have been prepared, and I've sent dear Cherub ahead of you. He awaits you in Kessar Forest." The assassin's name brought a small twitch to the half-elf's eyebrow, and when he spied the edge of a drawing of an intricate cube amid the papers, the larger man had to probe. "We haven't met, but I heard he helped you find something interesting recently."

    The older man's brow furrowed, and his dark brown eyes followed his employee's gaze to the exposed drawing of the artifact. The newly-minted Baron recovered quickly, of course. "Ah, yes, I recall hearing about your encounter with the thing. Played your hand too early, and lost to that lightning-wielder again, correct?" The half-elf's grip on his wooden armrest tightened visibly, and the smug senior smiled. The swordsman eyed his employer, recalling the thin man's fondness for drawing, and continued probing. "Why bring it here, though? Isn't it what they were after?" The older man's smile faded a bit, but he didn't back down. "I didn't expend such effort and resources for a mere paperweight." The confirmation brought up possibilities, but the half-elf ignored them and nodded at the sense of it.

    "Now, your task in this will be two-fold," the lithe Fordstein began, "weakening the port from within, and then meeting up with Cherub and the resistance. I have provided you suitable tools in that satchel there." The worn leather bag sat innocently to the side of the door, and he continued. "The poison is tasteless in water, but there are several wells throughout the port. I trust that won't pose a problem?" The larger man shook his head, and his employer nodded. "Good. See to it you don't find a conscience, I've already had to deal with the shaman." This short meeting had confirmed weeks of rumors around the crew; much had happened after the half-elf returned to Radasanth, it seemed.

    "You'll row ashore once the sun sets this evening."

    "And what of your other present?" the swordsman asked, and his lithe employer responded with a smirk. "Just something to ease the acquisition of the capitol. I don't intend to be besieged as soon as I seize the port." The muscle nodded, and rose to gather the Baron's gifts, who spoke once more.

    "See this done, and you'll have all the vagabonds you wish."

  3. #3
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    Barren black soil rose in rolling hills just outside the port city, and the large half-elf sat on high the next morning listening to the screams from the buildings below. Though three wells were scattered around the port, one bottle of the vile fluid remained in his leather satchel. It had seemed unnecessary to taint the well in the residential area; it would spread well enough on its own anyways, with all the vomiting. The swordsman sat there with his stomach full of cat-folk flesh, and wondered at his stayed hand while half a city wailed below. Those that died to sate his hunger couldn't be helped, but the wasteful nature of simply giving in to all of his sadistic urges was becoming more obvious. The half-elf had thought on it for many weeks after failing to acquire the artifact, simply lazing about the city and devouring the homeless delivered to him; a beast fattened and tamed, to sit in the corner.

    Lightning flickered in the colorful haze above, silent and distant, and the swordsman gritted his teeth at his employer's words. He had indeed played his hand too early, only to later find the cat-person he had captured was worthless on its own. Some simple restraint would've prevented that failure, but it had been so long since he had resisted the urges; even the thought loomed enormous and untenable. It had been so long since he had abandoned pride, but then the lightning mage showed up.

    That relic had simply risen over a distant hill, and the half-elf's hackles rose. The documents he had stolen back then had been instrumental to the swordsman's acquisition of the airship and smuggling business that led him into Fordstein's service. Yet, the bastard had shrugged off that old grudge, looking down on the half-elf from atop his massive steed with the same condescension. Even now, the swordsman's knuckles whitened with frustration. Upon their first meeting long ago, he had lacked power, and was forced to scurry off a petty thief. Their most recent meeting had ended with him scurrying, but foiled by his own lack of control; and so his wounded pride rose anew.

    That remembered vanity did not sit well with his current profession. Like awakening from some hedonistic dream, he looked back on the months working for Fordstein and saw only indulgence and weakness. He had solved many of the prior Senator's problems, but only for the ease of the many hobos he was sent. His urges only got worse as he gorged himself. Even now, with a stomach full of stringy flesh, the hunger simmered in the back of his mind, never quite gone; he worried it never would be.

    Already a stream of refugees poured out of the southern gates of the port. It was difficult to tell how long he had sat there listening to their screams. The sun hid behind the flickering swarms of yellow and purple that filled the sky, but it didn't seem quite noon yet. Checking the satchel once more to make sure the remaining poison was secured, the half-elf paused a moment on the second gift. The long fuses curling out of three head-sized lumps were a clear sign that he didn't want to be carrying this thing, but there was little he could do. He stood and walked down to the road to join the refugees, satchel secure behind his shoulder, and hidden under the dark cloak he wore.

  4. #4
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    With little other choice and no particular leads, the bare-armed swordsman bellowed over the line of refugees, seeking a guide to Kessar Forest. He would've sought a translator, if he hadn't overheard the common tongue in town the previous night. Shock and silence passed over the cat-folk as the entire line stopped to look at him; the man wondered if he'd made a mistake. He prepared energy for his physical enhancement, but something felt off. Two warriors stepped up wearing the deep blue of the port guards; they must've abandoned their brothers when the screaming started. They bore the typical silver fur of The Tribe, but didn't carry any of the firearms he had heard about. Even holding his energy at the ready brought about a slow ache, so he decided to forgo it to be safe. The two started asking how an outsider knew about those woods, and if he had been involved in poisoning the port. He denied it, and even made up a story about getting caught in a storm, but they persisted. It was obvious this wasn't going anywhere the half-elf wanted it to, so he glanced down at the men's belts before taking care of the problem.

    His dagger flew up into the neck of the first guard, but the second nearly lopped his arm off. He dodged thrusts as he circled around the dying man, hands at the guard's belt, until the would-be corpse pushed him away. The swordsman drew the large blade from his shoulder as he backed off, and the remaining port guard rounded his flailing comrade. The first one collapsed completely, a broad streak of bright red down the front of his deep blue armor, and the outsider's dagger still in his throat. His comrade faced the man down, eyeing the arm that hung bleeding. The half-elf used only his good arm to wield his large blade, and barely got the thing up before the silver-fur dashed forward and began striking. Though each blow was weak, the speed of them was nearly overwhelming. Right when the swordsman seemed off-balance, his bloody arm whipped up and flung the dead guard's dagger at the other's face.

    A desperate parry saved the silver-fur his eye, but he couldn't block the two-handed swing that followed. His blue armor slammed into the black earth, thin blade bent and left side a bloody mess. The half-elf stepped over, breaths heavy and eyes intense, and plunged the bloody blade into the guard's throat. None of the refugees said a word as he cleaned his sword, and retrieved his dagger. He stared at them for a moment, and asked again if anyone could tell him how to get to Kessar Forest. A tall lad loped out of the pack, lanky limbs hanging at his sides, but eyes intense. They flared with hatred when he looked over the blue uniforms on the ground, but his voice was timid when he addressed the man.

    "I will show you the way."

    The half-elf nodded at the lad, young only for the sound of his voice and brightness of his fur. The older ones all seemed to darken with age. After determining a direction, the pair headed south-east and away from the road flooded with eyes. The young mongrel introduced himself as Tuevo, and after getting far enough away from the rest, the swordsman fished out a few gold coins and dropped them into eager paws. While the young cat-folk looked over his payment, the employer brought a tentative hand up to the shallow gash on his arm. Remembering his earlier caution, he slowly pushed energy into the wound to heal it, and immediately stopped when the pain started. Looking down wide-eyed, he let out a groan as he watched tiny vines grow up out of his flesh and weave together to close the gash. He didn't need the lad's worried reaction to immediately draw his blade, and cut the concerning intruders.

    Pulling out the roots was another ordeal entirely; they ran deeper and farther than he expected. Even he couldn't maintain stoic silence as he watched the green vines drag chunks of his muscle out as he pulled. The lad looked on in shock, half-heartedly explaining that magic wasn't to be trusted in these lands.

    "Yeah, no shit."

    The half-elf continued pulling weeds while the thin cat-kid explained the circumstances; it was a good distraction from the pain. Apparently, some kind of Tap Well existed in these lands, and The Tribe had been responsible for scarring the sky and blackening the land with their magical experiments. The heat in the lad's voice was obvious, and it was a sentiment the swordsman could understand. Once done clearing his wound, his arm looked like some disgusting spider's web of collapsed veins and ruts of flesh. He pulled one pant leg out of his boot and tore off a strip, tying it tightly over the wound as he stood. The look of disgust and shock on the cat-thing's face angered him, so he decided to change the subject. When the half-elf asked why the lad was so willing to guide him when others were not, the boy flared his whiskers.

    "I want to join the resistance, and overthrow the Tribe."

  5. #5
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    Those lofty goals led the pair across the rolling hills south of the port, which was apparently named Keinas, or Shorewatch. The lad asked about the storm that had landed the muscled man upon this shore, and he elaborated as little as possible; merchant fleet attacked and scattered, storm to shatter bone and boat, and a weary wakening upon besieged shores. When pressed for further details about the storm, the half-elf took a cue from the skies and mentioned added lightning. This seemed to fit with what the lanky cat-folk had expected, and his curiosity was sated. It wasn't until an hour or two later that the two spoke again, and it began with a simple question from the swordsman.

    "What are those?"

    Over the horizon stretched thin towers of yellow and bright green, hundreds of them all meeting in interlocking arches high above. As the sky shifted colors matching pillars disappeared, but the misshapen fruit hanging from short branches near the top was always darker. The lanky lad looked upon those arches with somber determination, and squared himself to face this new challenge as he spoke.

    "That is the Asto Erie; the Maze of Arches."

    Of course, that was their path, and as they approached the broadening horizon of bright colors, Teuvo explained what he knew of them. The arches themselves were a type of fungus that adapted to absorb the excess magic from the air. Their growth enhanced by the Wild Tap, the entire Maze grew in the last few hundred years, since The Tribe's final experimental failure. The half-elf's eyes grew wide at that, and he asked what other effects there had been. Alongside the twisted sky and blackened earth, there had been one other major result of that catastrophe.

    "They tore the ground itself asunder, and left only an endless fall into a black abyss; The Last Fall, Pannaria."

    The scope of that kind of power excited the swordsman, but the recent lesson learned when handling the cube still festered fresh. He debated the risks in silence as the pair travelled, and soon those distant towers of purple and green stretched so high they merged with the flickering sky above.

    "Stay clear of the pillars. Those lumps at the top were people or animals that fell asleep against the trunks; they were all absorbed, and are slowly being digested."

    The cat-folk warned him to avoid the small colored ponds scattered around as well, but the bulging and throbbing of the fungus was already convincing enough, really. The swordsman asked the tall lad how he knew all this, and found out the boy's mother had been an expert on the remaining plant life. It wasn't all gone, apparently, just grouped up in strange places. The way tears welled in his eyes, the half-elf could guess what happened. The boy seemed too naive to have been on his own, before the nefarious Nyadir showed up in the dark of night. It was probably best not to bring her up

    It was difficult to maintain his sense of direction in the dense forest of fungus, and the swordsman could only trust his sure-footed guide as the mongrel led them through the maze. Even the sky was squeezed out between all the arches of purple, and green, and every path was just as colorful and confusing as the last. The rumble of his hunger rising anew presented its own problem. With nothing fresh nearby, besides his guide, he would have to deal with it. The kid was starting to mumble to himself as he walked, and looked increasingly agitated. Apparently, not mentioning it hadn't stopped the memory from festering. The lad must've been in his teens; the swordsman could remember the anger of those years. An idea formed, one that simultaneously excited and disgusted the half-elf. Before he considered it, he had already asked the lad what was wrong.

    "I was right, wasn't I? She wanted to stay, to help them, but then she started vomiting too..."

    "Staying would've only gotten you killed. Bleeding hearts always die alongside the people they try to save."

    The lad saw the sense of it, and seemed to calm down. His acceptance was fascinating to the half-elf; the kid adapted quickly. They traveled in silence for another hour, weaving between yellow and green pillars, before they spotted the black plains on the other side. It was good to be back in open air again, even if the bright colors of the Maze were replaced by the twisting auroras above. The land here was flat for miles, and the swordsman didn't need his guide to know where they were going next. A wall of warped, black trees sat ominously to the east, lifeless and still below the flickering skies; the Kessar Forest awaited them.

  6. #6
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    Gnarled black roots covered the dark soil, and twisted the ground into dips and valleys. The muscled man and the lithe cat-kid wormed their way through tall trunks, sky still flickering beyond the skeletal canopy. It wasn't until they were well beyond the tree-line that the swordsman noticed that not all of them were dead. Spotted groups of threes and fours had silky white strands floating in the wind from their blackened branches. The whole group would change direction with the slightest breeze, but the lanky guide steered well clear of them. When his employer asked, the lad explained.

    "Those aren't leaves. They are colonies of worms that live in the dead trees."

    As they travelled further into the wood, the tattered corpse of a merchant or refugee would often be found hanging between two trees, suspended by the glowing white strands. When the kid pointed out the small flowers at the base of some of those trunks, the swordsman became intrigued. Apparently, they had grown alongside the worm colonies, and stored air in their stems to shoot small needles. The flowers would react to anything stuck in the worm's web, and the worms would give them nutrients in return. The paralytic property of these needles was apparently strong enough to kill, so the half-elf decided to acquire some. Before the lad even said anything, the larger man strode over to a group of trees and whipped out his green-tinted dagger.

    "Be careful; don't let the worms touch you!"

    The stalwart Nyadir waved away his guide's concerns, and easily stepped to the side when the floating white tendrils drifted towards him. He took a moment to examine the flower, before cutting it below the bulge on the stem he assumed was the stored air. The petals of the flower wilted immediately, but the stiff barrel sticking out of the center remained. At a hiss from his guide, he looked back to see a few white tendrils stuck to his cloak. The swordsman stood and briskly walked around the rest, back to Tuevo. The few worms attached couldn't keep their grip, and popped off to float back on the wind. The kid eyed the flower in the man's gloved hand with caution, and the half-elf was equally careful when placing the thing into one of his vest pockets. He made sure the barrel was pointed to the side of the pocket, in case it was crushed accidentally.

    "Take every advantage you can find."

    The kid nodded at his employer's second piece of sage wisdom, and the two continued further into the forest. The number of dessicated corpses hanging on white strands increased as they went, as did the sheer number of infected trees. The black soil and trunks now gave way to a white, flowing canopy overhead, that glowed softly even in the afternoon light. The lanky lad couldn't keep the wonder from his eyes as they walked, the thousands of white strands swaying above in a strange synchronicity. The half-elf relaxed his tightened grip, and considered the rage that swelled. His mind immediately turned to dark corners, smiling as he imagined the lad's look of wonderment fading into terror. Unfortunately, the image of that slithering snake Fordstein smirking with glee rose unbidden, watching the swordsman writhe as he prodded the half-elf's mistakes. The man's smile faded as he quietly followed his young guard, and his bestial pride resurged.

    The suffering of prey means nothing to the hunter.

    The pair climbed over twisted roots, and skittered down steep hills, for another hour before they came to something new. The ground grew rocky, and sloped away into a wide crater. Tuevo started down a twisting path without hesitation, so the half-elf followed suit. No trunks marred the bottom or sides of the crater, and the usual black soil was replaced with rocks of brown and grey. The swordsman was surprised there was anything of normal color in these lands. Boulders of many sizes sprawled across the bottom of the crater, like some massive quarry. Once the two reached the bottom, the lad seemed less certain, but he wandered roughly toward the center. The quarry wasn't large, so it only took them a few minutes before two mottled cat-folk in simple brown wool stepped up in front of them. They could've been workers, but their eyes were sharp, and the half-elf was immediately on guard. Before his guide could open his maw, the smaller of the two cat-folk spoke.

    "You look like the one he described. Are you sent from Fordstein, outsider?"

  7. #7
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    "Yeah. Cherub is here then?"

    "He is. We didn't expect any of those 'pigeons' he sent to make it. Strong birds you must have, in the north."

    Though the young Tuevo had confusion painted plainly on his face, he followed quietly as his employer spoke with the resistance guards. They walked up to a normal looking chunk of stone, flat and wide, and the two guards both gripped one end of it. The half-elf's mouth fell agape as the rock bent upward like a piece of paper. The two cat-folk didn't even seem strained as they held the entrance open for their visitors. By the time the swordsman and his guide made it to the bottom of the short steps, a stern woman of mottled fur awaited them with a flickering torch.

    "This way, outsider."

    The cave was barren and dark, and the two travellers huddled behind the light of their newfound guide as they walked. After several turns, torches finally appeared on the walls, but they weren't alone. Every so often a section of damp cave wall would be covered in lush green grass, even with a few flowers dotting it like a small field. The cat-woman who bore the torch was a dour sort, and answered few questions as she led them deeper into the cave. Tuevo seemed as surprised by the grass walls as his employer, and only barely kept himself from reaching out to touch the green strands. Considering the nature of all the other plants the half-elf had seen, he agreed with the kid's restraint. Damn thing could suck your hand right off, for all they knew.

    They rounded another corner, and stepped out into a broad cave that loomed bearing large stalactites like teeth. A large wooden table dominated the center of the room, though flickering lights and open conversation could be heard down any of the tunnels spotting the rough walls. The talk within the room was quite muted, and most of the cat-folk here sat around a large natural fireplace on one wall. The smoke drifted up into a hole in the ceiling, though the smell of stew still filled the room. The only other outsider was leaned against the wall, and his clouded eyes and dark skin marked him as Cherub. He met eyes with the large half-elf, and they nodded silently to each-other as a silver-furred woman sauntered over. Young Tuevo's confusion as he looked between the outsiders turned to anger as his eyes fell on silver fur, and he did not hide it well.

    "You must be Nyadir. We welcome you to the Hope of The Clan."

    Though the man she spoke to nodded simply, the young cat-folk beside him practically hissed his laughter. "Hope of The Clan? What would you know of that hope, Tribeswoman?" The somber look she returned stifled some of the lad's anger, but others did not bear Tuevo's insults with such grace. A grizzled old cat-folk stood with a hiss, and snapped at his young counterpart. "Lady Vauna has more reason to hate than most. Her family has sheltered us here for generations-"

    "That will do, Lorvo."

    Her sonorous voice filled the room as her brow drew down, but her expression lightened as she turned back to the bristling Tuevo. She spoke kindly, and with patience.

    "As he said, my name is Vauna, and my family has been a part of the resistance since its founding, when Pannaria fell. I do not seek to reclaim the position of my family, but to raise all of the Clan to equality with the Tribe."

    Though young Tuevo's fists still shook, the softness of her voice, and the respect in her words, blunted the edge of that hatred. He resorted to quiet scowling, which she met with a smile before turning her attention back to the tall outsider. Her smile turned to a frown as her eyes dropped to the cloth tied around the half-elf's forearm.

    "You have met trouble on your way here?"

    "Seems people don't like talking about your group openly."

    She chuckled at his nonchalance. "That they don't. Come, we'll get it looked at." The slender Vauna turned back to the half-elf's young guide with a smile and asked his name. The lad responded sharply, but she simply nodded.

    "Lorvo here will take care of you, young Tuevo."

    The dour cat-woman who led them into the cave followed along, her torch passed off to a rusting wall bracket. Her name was Elma, and she was the one who was to do the mending. Nyadir only found this out when she commanded him to sit with a stern voice, and brought out a sewing kit and alcohol. The regal Vauna kept up the small talk as the shorter cat-woman cut the bloody strip of cloth away from his arm, but they both hissed softly when they saw the branching ruts from the roots he had pulled. The older woman of mottled fur scoffed shortly afterward, admonishing that the damage would've been less if he had left the roots in.

    "I was somewhat surprised at the time."

    The short Elma snorted, and began cleaning the gash. While she worked, the slender Vauna filled him in. Apparently, they had been planning to take the capitol for months, but never had the opportunity. She revealed that Fordstein's letter had promised to draw soldiers out of the capitol, to defend the port, and provide her this opportunity. The half-elf suspected Cherub had been put in place to take care of Vauna after the capitol was seized, but he kept his mouth closed. Instead, he thought to her man's early statement, that they had been hiding in this forest for generations. The question practically asked itself.

    "What stops them from marching in here and killing all of you?"

    "Do you recall the stone over the entrance?" He nodded at her question, and she continued. "It is not enchanted or different, at least no more than anything else here. The name Kessar means Rubber Woods." It took a moment for the implication to sink in. "Fighting here at all is pointless unless done hand-to-hand," she continued. "Anything non-living just bends like rubber."

    "The perfect place for pacifists to hide."

    The silver-furred leader laughed at his response, and the swordsman gritted his teeth as the stout Elma started roughly sewing the gash shut. The warmth in Vauna's voice fell as she talked, and her mongrel nurse chuckled with every grunt she got out of the stout outsider. "We would not be planning to seize The Azure Keep if we were pacifists. No, I think it would be more accurate to call us cowards." Though her voice wavered slightly, it wasn't self-pity. Her paws hung clenched at her soft blue dress, and the fire in her eyes told of pride discarded. The tall swordsman nodded with respect, but shot his fiery glance back toward the snickering Elma. She seemed about to tear him a new wound, so she could sew it shut just as aggressively.

    "Some think we should accept our fate, but I believe there are other ways."

    The half-elf's thoughts turned to the supposed Tap Well that existed somewhere in these lands. Considering the goal of the resistance was to take the capitol city, which was apparently named Melvera, the group likely sought the silver-furred nobles there. They would certainly know its location, and have information about how they had attempted to control it. He could respect Vauna's goals, but his own ambition outshone all. If she was going to be tossed aside anyways, it should be of some benefit to him, if possible. Perhaps he would allow Cherub to take care of her, and then kill the little man to claim the honor of vengeance. It would certainly endear him to whomever took over the resistance, and he could control what information they learned of Fordstein; paint him to be whatever straw man the half-elf needed.

    The location of the Tap Well, and control of the capitol; powerful chips.

    The dour cat-folk nurse finished her terrible sewing job, and bandaged the large man's forearm. The trio exited the side room, and joined the dozen or so cat-folk who were preparing the large wooden table of the central cave. Wooden bowls were filled with a warm stew, and everyone sat to eat their meal. Young Tuevo was seated across the table, now sporting the same brown wool as the rest of them. Despite his earlier brooding, the lad seemed calm now, and listened intently as the aged Lorvo explained some basic tactics. The eyes of the swordsman grew wide, and his wooden spoon splashed into his soup, when grass poured out of several side tunnels. The sheets of green that had clung to the walls earlier all scurried over stone and stalagmites, converging at the entrance and disappearing into the tunnel. With a chuckle at the surprise on the outsider's face, Vauna explained.

    "They were one of the first new creatures to arise after Pannaria. They are like many millipedes woven together, and they travel outside at night to absorb magic from the sky. The intensity is too great for them during the day."

    The group did not stay up talking for long afterward, and Cherub wandered off somewhere. The majority of their forces had left once the assassin had first arrived, apparently, and now only waited to be joined by them. The slender leader informed him that they would be leaving before dawn the next day. The swordsman ended up in the corner of the same cave Tuevo slept in, but the lad to was too enamored by Lorvo's lessons to notice. Long after the others had fallen asleep, the half-elf sat by the flickering light of the last torch. He stared at the blue gem in his hand, and walked the lanes of memory.

  8. #8
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    The sun struggled to shine through the hazy aurora above by the time the resistance left the blackened trees of The Rubber Woods. Everyone wor plain clothes, and carried satchels of various sizes. They trudged out onto a tan desert mid-morning. Vauna had changed into the same brown wool as the others. Though hers was clean and well maintained by comparison, the scimitar she wore at her hip had seen some use. The swordsman had been glad to find his blades unbent as they left the tree line, and spent the trip near the front of the group. Cherub followed along at the rear, and despite his supposed help, the cat-folk back there eyed him cautiously. They eyed both outsiders, actually, and the half-elf heard some of them muttering about the poisoning of the port. Seems the kid had told them; hopefully he had also thought to mention the cover story Nyadir had come up with.

    Despite the dusty terrain, a small river wove in from the north, and the group followed it. Even out here the occasional village of mud-huts popped up, the dusty inhabitants all huddled indoors. It seemed Vauna knew pretty much everyone, and the group stopped at each one of these villages. She delivered small supplies along the way, and was met with gratitude by the locals. Tuevo, on the other hand, did not endear himself so well. When he wasn't strutting around and bragging about his new position, he was slipping behind buildings, eyes sharp and darting. He re-appeared more than once with food on his whiskers, or an extra bulge in one of his pockets. The lad was living the high-life of self-reliance, and the half-elf was simultaneously proud, and angry at how well it was going. Without any suffering, this little experiment of his was just breeding envy from the swordsman. That his lanky guide should have it so easy rose the boiling tide within.

    The value of what someone else has only matters if it's to be yours.

    The half-elf knew he had nothing to gain from envying some brat his small victories, so he tried to leave the thought alone. More pressing, the hunger within had grown overnight, and it was getting very difficult to maintain his composure. The swordsman's mind was filled with sickly sweet images of crimson gore, the smacking of wet lips and coppery taste. A shudder ran down his spine, and he fell back on his old methods of meditation to try to clear his mind as the group walked through the morning hours. He ended up near Vauna, as she recalled some of the history of her people; the distraction was most welcome.

    "It was the traitor Arjo Talvar who first authorized the experiments. Our nation once stretched the breadth of this land, but everything south of the capitol is uninhabitable now. So many died during his time that they still use his name as a curse in the south."

    Her voice faded into the thrumming of footsteps on barren brown rock, and her tales grew vivid in the swordsman's mind. Armies rose and clashed over the power of The Well, and the times of peace were always broken by another magical catastrophe. The half-elf saw this folly play out over hundreds of years, each one more sure than the last that their ends justified the means. Out of all of them, none had escaped disaster, none had walked the path of selfishness and gained anything they didn't eventually lose. These thoughts brought up uncertainties he didn't want to think about, and even the dark which dwelled within him dissuaded such musings. Its influence seemed much reduced in this place; the swordsman was not normally able to ignore his urges for so long.

    For at least an hour as they travelled, a large cleft in the earth loomed on the horizon. The canyon stretched for miles, but the resistance made no move to avoid it. It wasn't until the vague blur of sun neared its zenith that the group reached the edge, the brightness of midday muddied by swirling colors above The swordsman leaned briskly over the edge at first, looking for the bottom, but the stone only sank into deeper and deeper darkness. Eventually, the canyon walls faded into a sharp black.

    "Pannaria, The Last Fall. The final price we paid for our arrogance."

    Vauna's words echoed on air too still for the open desert, and the group of cat-folk began carefully descending the narrow path down into the canyon. The descent was unnerving, with an endless void of silence awaiting the slightest misstep. The swordsman was glad to note he wasn't the only one constantly glancing into that darkness. It was a black so complete it reminded him of the one which dwelt within him; that cold feeling of vastness was familiar, as well. The half-elf was visibly relieved, along with Tuevo and most others, when they turned into a series of narrow caves. Several of the cat-folk produced torches, which they lit with flint and steel, before the group moved further in. A strange hum filled the air as they went, and people started passing back bits of wax.

    "Be careful not to step on them. They only react to the smell of their own dead, and the fluid of the inner-ear."

    The swordsman hurriedly plugged his ears as the group continued, anxious as the humming grew louder. Not a hundred paces into the cave, and he could feel the vibration on his skin. His questions were soon answered as they entered a more spacious area, flickering in the torchlight. Hundreds of bright orange spiders lined the place, coating the ceiling and floor as thickly as the walls. The vibrations were overwhelming here, and the swordsman couldn't stop itching his nose as he walked. The grizzled Lorvo led the way, stomping ahead of himself to scare the spiders and clear a path. Everyone kept their eyes on their feet, carefully avoiding all the little orange beasts. When they came to the first of two tunnels, an extra torch was passed up to the front.

    The tunnel walls wriggled with orange furry legs, and it quickly narrowed into a writhing ball of spiders. Clearly, they weren't going that way, and their guide started stomping his way toward the next exit. The half-elf's skin crawled as he passed by the wriggling orange bundle of joy, and the vibration grew so strong the bile rose in his stomach. He continued stepping carefully, trying not to think about how it seemed the spiders were all facing them, waiting. The next tunnel was relatively free of the little bastards, though the group still trod in a careful single-file for many more tense minutes. It wasn't until they reappeared on the canyon wall some hundred paces lower that the group breathed fresh air in relief. The wax was collected again, though Nyadir couldn't quite get the last of it out, even after removing a glove and picking at it for minutes.

    The resistance travelled down another steep path, before turning into more caves. These tunnels didn't hum, at least. They continued like this for a while, before finally reaching a broader outcropping of stone. Even several hundred paces down into the canyon, the bottom remained shrouded in darkness just as solid as before. The group stretched their legs for a while on the broad outcropping, Tuevo even braving a nervous lean over the edge. The swordsman waited for several minutes for the group to start moving again, but they didn't. He was considering saying something, but some kind of buzz grew on the air. This was far different from the singing spiders. He could feel this tingle strongly, but heard nothing; except for a distant skittering.

    "Everyone stay clear of the tunnels, and don't move."

  9. #9
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    Lightning crackled as swirls of orange and purple wafted up from the darkness below, and a bright blue wave poured out of the tunnels and down the canyon walls. Millions of glowing bugs congealed together on the red stone, and stretched out into the shifting abyss in waving lines. These bright strands twisted in the updrafts that shot up from below, waving blindly toward their counterparts on the far wall. The blue current parted around everyone standing on the outcropping, and the half-elf nervously eyed the knee-deep flow of insects. The waving lines finally connected over the now colorful darkness, and thickened into living bridges of blue bugs. Vauna spoke as the tide around their feet thinned.

    "They feed on the magic that vents from below, during mid-day and twilight. We must cross now while we can. Everyone pass one at a time, and do not stop, or you will slip through."

    The two-dozen cat-folk all formed lines at the blue bridges and started crossing, just business as usual. The swordsman slowly joined one of those lines, nervously eyeing the thin walkways. Cherub was also slow to trust these bridges, and tacked himself onto the back of another line after the first few successfully crossed. Soon, it was Nyadir's turn to cross, and he stepped onto the writhing bridge with his eyes straight. Though the very air crackled with magical energy, the winds buffeting him were a steady warm breeze from below. The half-elf stepped carefully across the glowing bugs, minding his speed and eyeing the others, but the void below caught his eye. The Last Fall was still black and deep as ever, but out of that darkness shone the same flickering colors that marred the sky. Far below the purples and oranges swirled violently, as if the swordsman was staring into the Tap itself.

    At the worried call of a nearby cat-folk, he remembered himself and pulled his feet out of the ankle-deep bugs to continue walking. The blue bridge wavered, but his steady steps saw him to the end in relief. The few minutes waiting for the stragglers were less tense, and the half-elf spared a final glance to the living bridges before following the resistance into the next set of caves. Luckily, these were free of singing spiders, and they were above-ground on the other side of the canyon not long after. The swordsman's mind swirled with the implications of what he saw in the depths of Pannaria. It was as though the Tribe had burrowed into the heart of the world, and laid it bare. To even control a fraction of that power; he tried to ignore the memory of his burnt at tingling hand when holding the artifact. Surely, those scholars of the Tribe had found better ways in their centuries of experiments. Vauna turned to the group again, regal despite her plain brown woolens.

    "We must reach the capitol before nightfall; let us hurry."

    As the group continued, Nyadir wound up walking near the front with Vauna again. Rather than regale him with tales of history, however, she filled him in on their plan. Sneaking into the city would be no problem, with the refugees fleeing from the port. Though her face did not betray her, the half-elf wondered if she had made the connection. After sneaking in, they needed only to rendezvous with the majority of their forces in the city, and they would be ready. The resistance controlled most of the servants and staff in the city, and would find no doors barring their assault. They needed only to seize control of the palace.

    Once inside, they would have direct control over everything from the invested wealth of the Tribe nobles, to the shipping routes to deliver food to what remained of the kingdom. He who controlled the Azure Keep, controlled all of Melnach. The half-elf nodded eagerly at this plan, with an eye for the lithe Cherub at the back of the pack. Acquiring his goal might require eliminating any who could disprove his claimed backstory. It was a strain to keep the bestial smile from his face; the swordsman looked forward to the opportunity.

    As they travelled southwest, the black lands gave way to distant squares of purple. At first the swordsman though them fields of plants, and he was not far off. When the group neared one of them, he was surprised to find they were massive sheets of some fabric, stretched high over paltry fields of various vegetables. Though no wheat whipped in the wind under those purple protectors, the potatoes, onions, and cabbages all seemed normal enough. The farmers tended to stand underneath those canopies as well, only occasionally venturing between them. The swordsman watched with interest as a group of workers took down one of the bright purple sheets section by section, replacing it with a darker fabric. Vauna's eyes followed his, and she explained as they walked.

    "It is one of the few good discoveries made by the Tribe's meddling, and the only reason we can even survive here. The sheet absorbs the wild magic from the sky, protecting the plants below. They are shipped off to the capitol once they glow, to be drained and sent back."

    The swordsman wondered at what device could drain such magic, and marveled at the tenacity of these people. Even burdened so by the mistakes of their ancestors, they found a way. The group stopped at a village near the fields while their leader handed out warm greetings and sincere gifts once more. The woman seemed to personally know every cat-folk on the continent. The young Tuevo laughed it up with Lorvo and some of the younger lads in the resistance, and they strolled off toward the tavern. He was loudly bragging he would buy them all a round, and the half-elf shook his head with a chuckle. His path took him elsewhere, between houses and towards the edge of town. All the houses were made of the same tan stone that stretched for miles beyond the fields. The urge had gone denied for too long, and this was the perfect opportunity to sate his appetite. Though his mouth was salivating, and his abdomen painfully knotted, the swordsman stalked with a clear mind.

    No one young or memorable, just some plain nobody.

    He lurked around corners, and slipped behind buildings. It wasn't long before the hunter found his prey. An old cat-folk sat on a cot, hiding in the shade behind one of the last houses in town. His dusty paws slapped down cards in front of him, but his ears perked up. The grizzled old cat-man nodded, and then spoke.

    "Can I help you tw-"

    The muscled half-elf pounced on his prey, plynt dagger diving into the throat just as his leather glove wrapped around the thing's mouth. It struggled in silence for a moment, but the swordsman had its arms pinned underneath his knees. A few delightful moments later the old cat's eyes glazed over and the squirming stopped. The swordsman pulled out his green-tinted dagger, and promptly dropped it to the ground. His teeth met wrinkled flesh with vigor, and he tore chunk after chunk to sink into his gullet. The slick, stringy texture, mixed with that coppery tint, and intoxicating aroma; he noticed nothing at all as he voraciously devoured nearly half of the old man. It wasn't until his stomach bulged, and the hunger finally abated, that the half-elf's mind cleared enough to remember what the hobo cat-man had said. Like a kid with his hand in the sweets, Nyadir turned his blood-smeared face around to look into the foggy eyes of the assassin Cherub.

    The man wore a look of disgust and contempt on his dark face, but said nothing. He merely kept an eye on the street, just one Fordstein lackey looking out for another. The lithe man kept a hand casually on the hilt of the katana at his waist. Though the half-elf's knuckles whitened and his teeth gritted, that smoking rage was not directed at the man before him. It had been years since the swordsman felt shame, but it weighed on him now. To be found in so low and vulnerable a position, just a dirty animal giving into its base instincts, cut deep into his newfound pride.

    The half-elf collected all the stray organs and piled them onto the old hobo's cot, and used the man's tattered clothes to wipe his face and arms of all the blood. It was around then that a woman's voice called out curiously from the other side of the house. Though Nyadir froze again like a caught child, his lithe companion darted over to the other tan corner just in time. With a crunch the smaller man blew a cloud of green gas directly into the face of the cat-folk who had just rounded the corner. Her look of shock as she spied the crimson remains faded as her eyes clouded, and she slumped onto the dusty ground. Cherub spit out a few small pieces of something, and spoke for the first time the half-elf had heard.

    "Clean that gods-damned mess up."

    The lithe man dragged the cat-woman's corpse around the corner, and pulled a green pellet from his pocket. He placed the thing into his mouth, and the swordsman quickly went back to cleaning before the other man noticed him looking. With all the viscera on the cot, he cut the four corners and tied the thing up into a bulging sack. It took some careful arranging, but he managed to prop the dead girl's corpse up onto the body bag like a pillow. The two assassins left her there, and the swordsman hoped they'd be long gone before anyone found that surprise.

  10. #10
    Member
    EXP: 16,233, Level: 5
    Level completed: 38%, EXP required for next level: 3,767
    Level completed: 38%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,767

    AP
    29
    GP
    275
    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    6'3, 220lbs
    Job
    Murder-Hobo

    View Profile
    A cool breeze carried the salt of the sea across the harbor, and canon fire rang out among the many ships gathered there. Though the tattered orange flag of the cat-folk still flew, their numbers dwindled steadily. A nearby explosion rattled the cup of tea on Fordstein's swaying desk, but the eccentric man continued casually sketching. The imposing frame of his assassin Bones sat cramped in a small chair near one of the cabinets, and those shelves all rattled with intricate figurines and dishes. The sonorous voice of the ex-Senator filled the spacious room, and his muscled lackey looked up as he spoke.

    "The likelihood of our hungry friend turning coat climbs by the hour. I should've established precautions earlier on, but it's hard not to take a liking to such an effective tool."

    The larger man chuckled as he worked, calloused hands carving away at a large chunk of wood. His deep baritone travelled far, even soft-spoken as the assassin was. "He would be more stable if you didn't encourage his habits. Threatening his crew probably didn't help."

    The man's lithe employer waved away these observations with a wrinkled hand, and he turned a dour frown to the parchment on which he drew. Deciding the attempt a failure, the paper was crumpled up to fall alongside several others. The Baron found it quite easy to cast things away, these days. He spoke dismissively, turning a sharp eye to his large lackey on the final question.

    "No matter. Is it done yet?"

    -----------

    Nyadir and Cherub rounded a tan corner to find the group mostly ready to go, though Tuevo was off to one side being scolded by Lorvo. The half-elf walked up with a raised brow, and the resistance leader explained that the lad had been caught stealing. She responded to the larger man's chuckle with a stern eye, but nothing else. It only took a few minutes for them to ready up, and the resistance was on the move again. The glances the younger lads shot to the chastised Tuevo struck a chord with the swordsman, and he remembered getting used to those glares. His young ex-guide certainly didn't need to follow his example; the half-elf hadn't really had a choice

    Giving in was a choice.

    He didn't particularly like that line of thought, and the swelling nausea prodded him away from it. How easy was the swordsman to control, if even thinking of his decisions turned his stomach. That pride ground again under these thoughts, and he gritted his teeth to ignore it as the group continued toward the capitol city. That goal shone in his mind, the kind of bargaining chip that could sever the strings he hung from. His mind returned to the colorful void of power below his feet, but caution kept him from that hope. The group was outside the farming village in good time, and no one came running after them. The tan desert soon turned to familiar blackened soil as they neared the capitol city, and the patchwork purple farms grew more dense. Vauna explained to him that they grew nearly all of the country's food within a day's walk of the city. The crafty Nyadir refocused his goal to controlling the means of cleansing the purple sheets; the Tap Well would be a secondary objective.

    "Ahh, there it is; the city of Melvera; Sky Reins."

    The slender cat-woman pointed to the east, and far down on the plain stood imposing walls tinted a light blue. Square buildings with evenly-spaced windows rose behind those walls, also slightly blue in the afternoon sun. The entire city seemed to be made of some kind of metal, and near the center the buildings stretched to double the height. These towers were much darker than the rest, tightly bunched and with their roofs all the same height. From a distance, it looked like a giant blue cube sat in the center of the city.

    The Azure Keep...

    Those polished walls loomed above the group not long after, as they trickled in wearing the same simple brown wool as the refugees fleeing from the north. The guards were quite sparse; they had probably already sent most of their soldiers to the port. That would slow Fordstein down considerably, and give the half-elf the time he needed to find some leverage. He and Cherub kept their heads down as they walked, and the dull blue strips running along every road were a good marker. There were large rails running above each of the streets, but the stations scattered about the city were all silent and deserted. Vauna even told him the blue strips used to glow at night, but they were shut down like everything else after The Last Fall.

    The sun sank below the horizon several hours after the resistance all disappeared indoors. Nyadir and Cherub ended up in a room with a single young cat-folk, and Vauna headed off with the rest to make preparations. The swordsman intended to tell her about the gifts he brought, but she left before he remembered. The satchel still hung over his right shoulder, back behind the arm, though he had gotten used to the weight. In those hours neither his associate, nor their young guard, had said a word, and he was beginning to think they had been abandoned. It didn't really seem like they were needed for the resistance's plan. Fordstein had already done all the work drawing most of the soldiers north to defend the port.

    Cherub must've made that same connection, and not long after it grew dark out the blue-tinted window, he stepped up to the young lad. The dagger flashed up under the cat-folk's neck, and his mottled fur was instantly painted red. Though he raised one flailing paw up to grip the lithe man's dark shirt, he slumped to the floor a moment later. The assassin looked to his companion, and nodded toward the door, and the half-elf stood. The darker man cautiously opened the white door and looked out into the hall as his larger co-worker approached.

    Green metal flashed toward Cherub's neck.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •