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Thread: Hunting Haidians

  1. #1
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone

    Hunting Haidians

    ((Planned as a solo, but if you'd like to jump in PM me on Breaker.))

    I followed the hooded figure through the darkness and swathes of mist that obscured the salty night. The city of Serenti loomed beneath ghoulish clouds, the alleys between her blockish buildings making up our path. The soft leather soles of my boots trod silently, even when they landed in puddles of what I told myself was water. You could never be certain, especially close to a stables. Or a tavern.

    The demon paused outside one such tavern and turned, looking over his shoulder and spotting me. His hood fell, and I caught a glimpse of his jaggedly pointed ears and glowing red eyes.

    “Shit in a basket.” I muttered.

    He raced to the two-story tavern’s stone wall and climbed upwards effortlessly.

    “Flaming shit in a basket.” I’d been hoping for a quick, clean kill, but I hadn’t brought my bow. I thought about throwing a fireball but didn’t want to attract the attention, or risk setting something ablaze. I thought about using the crystal sword strapped across my shoulders to summon the spirit of the dragon, Long. She could fly me up to the rooftop, but not as quickly as the demon climbed. That left only one option, the one I’d been meaning to avoid. Cronen always said I relied too much on my portals in live combat.

    As the demon neared the top of the wall, I conjured a stone door from the cobbled road. The door’s twin appeared on the rooftop, directly above the demon. As he crested the wall I kicked my door hard and it flew open forcefully, as did its twin. The door on the rooftop struck the demon in the head, and he fell like a sack of sand, stunned into silence.

    Whump. I looked about to see if anyone had heard. No one came out of the tavern, or the nearby residential buildings. Something stirred in a shadowy corner, but it looked like a mere rodent and scurried out of sight. I crouched at the demon’s side and grabbed his wrist to check his pulse. He folded inward like a sprung beartrap, claws and fangs gnashing for my throat. I ducked and weaved and twisted the wrist I had ahold of, forcing his face down into the cobblestone. I stomped on the back of his skull, five times it took before he stopped moving.

    The Haidian lay still, green blood seeping slowly from his jagged ears. I knelt and pulled the enchanted quill from my inner pocket, stabbing the demon in the chest with its diamond tip. The air around him whispered as the essence of his power was absorbed. The body faded quickly, leaving only a small stain on the cobblestones.

    I could feel my own abilities being bolstered by the influx of power. I had been using the quill long enough to unravel its complexities; each demon I absorbed with it increased my own potential. Sometimes I stole specific abilities, like the portalling I’d taken from the first Haidian I ever slew. Other times, like this occasion, I merely felt a little stronger. The demon I’d just killed had been young, for a Haidian, and of a low caste, but it could still have caused untold trouble in Serenti. Smiling grimly, I headed for the only place I could be certain to find ale at such an early hour of the morning.
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-10-2017 at 04:50 PM.

  2. #2
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    I sat at the bar in the Hunter’s Retreat, sipping sudsy ale and staring at my reflection in the dingy mirror behind the shelves. Cronen would have told me to sit in a corner with my back against the wall, but I was too tired to worry about such things. My lone emerald eye stared back at me, studying the silk eyepatch I wore and the matching black scarf around my neck. My dirty blond hair had grown longer than I usually allowed it, and held a greasy sheen. My green sifan clothing and plain hide cloak hung slackly, showing several days worth of wear. I had not changed or bathed since I picked up the dead demon’s trail three days prior. I’d caught the odd wink of sleep here or there, but otherwise I’d spent the entire time hunting. The ale brought a pleasant, sleepy buzz to my body and brain. I could scarcely wait to lay down in one of the underground tavern’s rooms for hire and drift away…

    My head folded forward, but I remained sitting upright as I fell into a semi doze. Memories flickered and faded into substance as they so often did in the space between sleep and wakefulness. The deep scars on my left arm itched as I saw Amari, my former friend who had inflicted them. Rage blazed in my gut as I thought of her master, the assassin Lichensith Ulroke. I had traded my left eye to learn Ulroke’s location, but when I arrived the Salvic stronghold had been empty. A fruitless hunt, and a waste of a perfectly good eye. It had taken me weeks to re-learn how to sight along an arrow, and to judge distance with a sword.

    My lone eye opened as I lifted my head and drained the last of my ale. When the barkeep came over to claim my tankard I shoved some gold across the counter and got a large brass key in return. It had the number eight engraved in the end, signifying the room it unlocked. I nodded my thanks and pushed to my feet and turned. My weaving path through the bar likely looked drunken, but in reality it was the fatigue eating at my bones. As I navigated around a full table one of the patrons stood and blocked my path with a burly arm.

    “Jus’ a minute there,” The big red-bearded man said, “who in the blazes are you? I know every hunter and slayer in Serenti, and I ain’t never seen you before.”

    “I’ve been here before,” I replied, my green eye flickering from the man’s arm to his face. Fatigue forgotten, my mind rehearsed a half dozen ways of disabling the giant ginger. “I’m more of a nomadic hunter, though.”

    “Well we don’t take too kindly to strangers,” the big man said, narrowing his eyes, “safer if everyone knows everyone, innit?”

    I took a deep breath and rolled my shoulders, and then glared directly into his drink-misted eyes.

    “Do I look like someone you need fear?” I asked levelly. The man took a long moment to consider my eye patch and sword. I sighed. “Tell you what. I’ll pay for your next round of drinks.” Before he could react I reached into my pocket and plunked a heavy crown on the table. “That way we’re all friends, right?”

    The redbeard exchanged a long glance with his friends and then burst out laughing.

    “Sounds fair enough to me, youngling!” He sent me on my way with a stinging slap on the back. I staggered down the hallway at the back of the common room, found door number eight, and locked myself inside. I lay down on the straw pallet with my boots still on, alone with my thoughts, memories, and misery.
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-10-2017 at 04:54 PM.

  3. #3
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    I woke maybe six hours later to mid morning sun streaming through the small window. I re-adjusted the patch over my left eye and ran a hand through my greasy hair and then sat up, scratching the scraggly stubble on my chin. My stomach rumbled, crying out for food, but I decided to change first. My clothes felt grimy, and so I stood and opened a portal to my room at the Last Night’s Maiden in Underwood. I didn’t exactly live there, but I kept a few things in the wardrobe. And on the bed. And on the floor. It was a bit of a mess, but I found a fresh change of clothes and a mostly clean cloak. Leaving my used garments in a growing pile, I donned the fresh(er) ones and stepped back through the portal to Serenti.

    The sifan clothing I’d chosen this time was dark brown, the heavy woolen cloak a deep green. I tended to stick with the same earth tones over and over. A girl had told me once they suited me, not just a girl, but a seamstress. I assumed she knew what she was talking about and had followed the advice ever since. I slung my crystal sword over my shoulders and strode out into the common room, cutting a path between tables directly to the bar and returning key number eight. I licked my lips and sniffed the air, picking through the salty and savory smells and deciding what to order.

    “Eh Boy! Why don’t you break your fast with us? We’re all friends, right?” The giant ginger’s voice floated over the ruckus of the room, using my words from the night before. He and his four friends sat at the same table with one empty chair remaining. I shrugged and held up one finger to say wait one minute, and then turned to the barkeep, a rotund middle aged woman this morning.

    “Three eggs, over easy, bacon, home fries, and toast with butter.” I ordered. Why be choosy on breakfast foods when you could have it all?

    “Anything to drink?” The woman pushed a greying brown lock of hair behind her ear and left off wiping the countertop. Her expression seemed to challenge whether a half elf of my slight and short stature could consume such a meal. She would be surprised.

    “Strong tea, I’ll take that as soon as it’s ready.” Jake tipped the server with a silver and paced through the hubbub of the room as his order was relayed to the kitchen.

    “Have a bloody seat!” The redheaded man said enthusiastically, kicking the vacant chair out for me. I swirled my cloak back and sat swiftly, hands on my knees, turning my head so I could scan the entire table.

    Directly to my right sat the ginger giant. He had scars on his big ruddy face and scars on his big ruddy hands, and a skinning knife sheathed on a sash across his chest. To his right sat two Salvic men who had to be brothers. Each wore a brooding frown and a belted dirk. No doubt their longswords were on the rack by the door. Beside them sat two women who could not have possibly been related. One was Fallieni, dark-skinned, her movement as fluid as her eyes and hair. The other appeared half-elven like me, but of Raiaeran descent, her pointed ears and high cheekbones a clear giveaway. Not to mention her enrapturing beauty. The Fallieni woman was exotic, and yet she seemed somehow plain next to the Raiaeran. All five of them wore a combination of leathers, linens, and heavy woolens.

    “My name is Marvin,” the ginger said gruffly, placing a meaty palm on his chest. He went down the line, pointing at each of his compatriots in turn. “This is Dirk, Flint, Selima, and Aeranessa. Nessa for short.” The big man grinned and stabbed a fried potato on his plate, and then gestured with the utensil at me. “And you are the incomparable Jake Narmolanya.”
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-10-2017 at 04:58 PM.

  4. #4
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    My tea arrived in the hands of a pretty young waitress, and I took the distraction as a moment to process what had happened. They knew my name, which might imply a dozen things, or might mean almost nothing at all. I took a sip of the brew although it was steaming hot and smiled through scalding lips.

    “Incomparable?” I said at last, giving the table another sweep with my lone eye. “I’ve been called many things, but never that.” The Salvic brothers both looked somewhat disgruntled but semi-interested. The women wore mysterious smiles and passed the occasional whisper back and forth behind fine hands. They all seemed content to let the ginger do the talking. He was their leader, not just a loudmouth.

    “Well, don’t let it go to your head.” He advised with a grin. “When I stopped you last night, I had no idea who you were - mind you, I was blind drunk, so that’s hardly your fault. But between the others and the rest of the patrons of this fine establishment, we managed to piece together a few stories. About the one eyed half elf who’s hunted as many Haidians as he’s had warm dinners. About the crazy bastard who traded half his sight for a chance to kill a shadow. About the fearless warrior who for some reason, has coward engraved on his arm. You’re more than a little interesting, Jacob.”

    “Don’t call me that,” I said reflexively, “everyone calls me Jake.” I gripped my scarred left forearm through my sifan sleeve. “It’s nice to meet you all, I suppose. Is there any particular reason I’m sharing my morning meal with you?”

    My food arrived just then, and as it was being served the Fallieni Selima whispered to the half-elf woman, who giggled briefly before stifling the sound and shooting me a quick look. I raised an eyebrow. Did she think me fully blind?

    “We’ve been staying here the past several nights, taking offers and considering different jobs.” Marvin explained as I dug into the eggs and potatoes. Rich yellow yolk spilled across the golden fried russets. “To make a tall tale short, we narrowed it down to three possibilities.”

    “Only, one of them isn’t possible.” Selima cut in. I looked more closely at the Fallieni woman, past her dark braided hair, and realized she wore nothing except an oversized linen T-shirt. I swallowed a lump in my throat and replaced it with a mouthful of eggs.

    “What do you mean?” I asked as I finished chewing, wiping my mouth on my sleeve. “Why consider it if it’s not possible?”

    “Well it’s not quite possible,” Marvin said, seeming glad to pull the focus of the group back to him. “At least, not for us. Not alone.”

    I raised both my eyebrows this time, a gesture which scrunched my eyepatch uncomfortably. I looked at each of the five hunters in turn and then sipped my tea.

    “We can’t do it without you,” Selima said at last, leaning forward so the collar of the shirt dipped and her cleavage displayed generously. “We need a traveler.”
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-10-2017 at 05:01 PM.

  5. #5
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    EXP: 21,400, Level: 6
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    “Almost every story we heard about you told of your way with portals,” Marvin said. I had dug back into my breakfast, sawing off a chunk of bacon. “And it’s a demon we’re talking about here. Your specialty. I’m more of a vampire slayer myself, and that’s what me and the gang usually focus on… but the money on this one is just too good to walk away from.”

    “How much?” I asked casually, taking a bite of buttered toast.

    “The bounty on this one is a nice round ten grand, plus any plunder taken from the demon. Your share would be fifteen hundred gold pieces. Plus any knick knacks the bastard has that might catch your eye.”

    I pursed my lips and blew a long, low whistle. I’d never heard of someone putting ten thousand gold pieces on a Haidian’s head. I wiped my mouth with a sifan sleeve and fixed Marvin with my emerald gaze.

    “Does this demon have a name? It must be one I’ve heard of, to be worth so much.”

    “Aye,” the ginger nodded, “you’ve likely heard of him. He goes by the name Arkboss the Hunted. There’s been a bounty on his head nearly ten years, and in that time he’s killed more slayers than you see sitting in this tavern.” Marvin looked around and then leaned forward and lowered his voice. “He’s said to be the most dangerous individual to come out of Haidia since the general Zieg ag’ Tulfried. But we got some inside information on him that should make killing him… well, possible.”

    I gritted my teeth in a forced smile and drew a long breath through them.

    “What do you need me for?”

    “Amongst his other… talents… Arkboss is a teleporter.” The ginger explained. He sponged his plate with a piece of toast and bit into it forcefully. “We’ll need your help just to keep up with him.”

    My smile softened as it became more genuine.

    “And what do I need you for?”

    Both Salvic brothers started talking at once, from the jumbled sound each told a similar but separate tale of Arkboss terrorizing villages in Salvar. The Raiaeran half elf opened her mouth but politely refused to talk over the others. The Fallieni shook her dark head and tutted one word.

    “Fool.”

    Marvin waved his hands until they quieted and then shook his head, short curly hair bouncing.

    “You must not be up to date on Althanas’ most wanted demons. Arkboss is top of the list, and with good reason. He’s killed hundreds of people with horrific powers. He commands fire of a half dozen different types, is a master swordsman, and carries two Alerian six shooters. Oh, and did I mention he can teleport?”

    “You did,” I said with a courteous nod.

    “Right. And that’s just what we know about him. He could have other powers hidden from public knowledge. We figure with six of us, we should be safe.”

    I chewed and swallowed the last of my potatoes and mopped my plate with a crust.

    “Alright, I’m in on one condition.” I said as I popped the last bite in my mouth.

    “Name it,” Marvin said confidently. I made them wait as I finished my meal and pushed back my chair.

    “Before we start, you all have to show me what you’re made of.”
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-10-2017 at 05:04 PM.

  6. #6
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    “What was it like training under Joshua Cronen?” Selima asked as we made our way northward through the streets of Serenti. People and horses bustled on all sides and hawkers sold roasted meats and other goods, but the fresh smell of the sea whipped in on the breeze.

    “You know of Breaker?” I asked in surprise. I knew that Cronen had visited Fallien, and I knew he’d made a considerable impact, but it still seemed like a fair coincidence that this one woman from the desert nation would have heard of him.

    “We were here in Serenti when Cronen slew the Thayne Draconus.” Marvin the giant ginger interrupted, pacing up between us. A delyn flanged mace hung at his hip, dark glassy wings flashing in the sunlight.

    “Breaker didn’t kill Draconus,” I lied, repeating the story I’d been told. “Shinsou Vaan Osiris did.”

    “That’s what most people think,” Selima said with a wink. “But I was in the southern watchtower when Joshua Cronen rose above the great dragon and struck him down. We know the truth of these things.” A knowing nod passed between the five slayers. “So, what was it like training with him?” Selima pressed.

    “Hard and painful,” I said with a rueful grin, instinctively reaching over my shoulder to touch the hilt of my crystal sword. “And always unpredictable. Once he made me practice sheathing and unsheathing my sword all day in different ways. For weeks he had me running up and crawling down a mountain every morning. And no matter how hard we sparred, the bastard never even broke a sweat.”

    “Sounds like you might have a thing or two to teach us!” Marvin exclaimed with a wink, again cutting me off from Selima. As the six of us left city limits and ventured into the thin forest, the giant ginger stopped and pointed to a clearing. “How about there?”

    “Looks perfect,” I said, striding into the meadow and sliding my sword from its sheathe. I let the weapon hang in a limp arm as I rolled my shoulders, loosening up. “I’ll take the brothers first.”

    Dirk and Flint both snorted in disdain and unsheathed their longswords and dirks, coming at me together without hesitation.

    “Hold there!” Marvin cried, and the brothers stopped. For a moment, I thought the giant ginger was going to lecture us on the dangers of sparring with live weaponry. “Take him from both sides at the same time,” he advised his compatriots, “that way he’ll be hemmed in by blades.
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-10-2017 at 05:06 PM.

  7. #7
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    “Oh no,” I lamented, laying my sword along my shoulder. I winked at Selima. “What am I to do?!” I lunged at Dirk suddenly, swinging my sword in a horizontal arc at his neck.

    Caught by surprise, the compact man brought his dirk up to fend off the blow and prepared a riposte with his longsword.

    I changed the path of my crystal blade at the last moment, swinging it downward and slapping Dirk’s calf with the flat of the blade. He howled in pain and fell awkwardly, the muscles of his lower leg paralyzed by the blow.

    Flint came swooping to his brother’s aid like a scavenging gull. As he brought his weapons to bear I pushed off the ground with my sword and spun and kicked him in the sternum with the sole of my boot. He sat down hard, gasping for air.

    I laid my blade back across my shoulder and took a box step as if dancing.

    “Ladies first,” I chastised as I saw Marvin reach for his mace. Aeranessa shook her long hair back and tied it in a ponytail. Selima slunk forward and cartwheeled across the open space, swiftly putting me in between them. Thankfully she had put on some loose fitting pants. “Slick,” I complimented her. “Don’t you have any weapons?”

    In answer, the Fallieni threw herself into the air and performed a triple barrel roll.

    “We won’t need weapons to drub you,” Nessa said. She undid the sword belt holding her elven daggers and dropped it on the ground. “We’re going to mess up that cute face of yours.” She stuck her tongue out at Selima.

    “Alright,” I chuckled, and flipped my sword aside so it stuck point-first in the ground. “Hand to hand from here on out.”

    Nessa came at me fast and hard while Selima cartwheeled menacingly close. The half elf threw a double jab and then a hard straight right, showing considerable pugilistic acumen. If I hadn’t been on my toes, she probably would have broken my nose. I dipped and dodged and then performed a back walkover alongside Selima as she tried to cartwheel-kick me in the head. My head wasn’t there, of course. She continued the motion in a backflip and I took the opportunity to turn and lunge straight into her.

    We crashed to the ground together, my right hand using the collar of her loose shirt to choke her. Nessa came at me from behind, but I anticipated the rush and flipped her over my shoulder so I had them both pinned. I adjusted, and managed to lock the half elf’s elbow in the crook of mine, applying a painful hold. They squirmed and fought like caged squirrels, but the could not shake me loose.

    “Enough,” Marvin called, “enough of this nonsense.” The giant ginger plucked the mace from its loop on his belt. “You want a real challenge? Pick up your sword!”
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-10-2017 at 05:09 PM.

  8. #8
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    I released the women and rolled to my feet, stalking to my sword as casually as a tiger approaching a watering hole. Nessa and Selima stood, both looking away in embarrassment. It was probably a long time since either had been so swiftly bested. The Salvic brothers were not much better off; they stood with their heads together, muttering and seeming to go over what had just happened. I plucked my sword from where it grew from the ground and assumed a low guard, circling away from Marvin.

    The big man tossed his mace from hand to hand a few times, kicking his feet to loosen his legs. He cracked his neck one way, then the other, and snarled. I stifled a chuckle. So he was one of those men who needed to be angry to fight. I could help him with that.

    “Come on, you great burgundy bastard.” I taunted. I swung my sword behind my back and held it there with both hands, presenting a clear target for attack.

    Marvin let out a roar and exploded forward, moving with surprising speed for such a big man. Not even bothering to wind up, he ran straight at me and unleashed a backhand swing that could have felled a sapling.

    I bent my knees and shifted my torso, leaning back and letting the flanged mace pass within an inch of my face. The backdraft tousled my greasy hair. As Marvin prepared for a second swing, I pivoted so the point of my sword, still held behind my back, pressed against his midriff. A clear and decisive victory after only one blow.

    The ginger giant froze, staring down at the crystal sword that had nearly impaled him. The hand holding his mace shook with what appeared to be rage, and I prepared myself to fend off another attack.

    Instead, the big man burst out laughing.

    “Marv, are you alright?” Nessa asked after full minute of his exuberant mirth.

    “I’m fine,” the giant chuckled once he regained control of his breath. “I suppose we should have known better than to challenge Joshua Cronen’s prized pupil on his own terms. We’d best count ourselves lucky you’re a good egg, Jake Narmolanya.”

    “You’d best hope that this Arkboss isn’t as good a fighter as me,” I said critically. “Otherwise, most of you will probably die.”

    That ended Marvin’s mirth quickly. He slipped his mace back through its belt loop and nodded at his compatriots in turn.

    “That’s why we have inside information, and a plan. It all hinges on your portalling ability, so I hope you’re well rested. And don’t think so little of us. You may have surprised us with your nifty Breaker-tricks, but we’re a fighting unit unlike any you’ve ever seen. Just last week, we took out a whole hive of vamps. Must have slain at least two score of them between us.”

    “Alright, you’ve convinced me,” I said, sheathing my sword fluidly and holding up both palms. “You all seem very well trained. I just hope this demon we’re after is equally impressed.”

    “Aye,” Marvin nodded and clapped me on the shoulder hard enough to rattle my teeth. “Let’s hope so.”

    “Well?” I looked around at the group of slayers and splayed my hands. “Consider me part of the team. Where are we off to?”

  9. #9
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    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    We made a quick trip back to the Hunter’s Retreat so the others could gather the rest of their gear. I only needed the sword on my back. Marvin and the brothers suited up in studded leather armor, Aeranessa brought a tall recurve bow and a quiver of arrows, and Selima equipped herself with a sash full of throwing knives and a long spear. We gathered in the alley behind the inn and formed into a loose huddle.

    “Arkboss is clever, for a Haidian,” Marvin said as he pulled a folded cloth map from inside his vest. “He rarely visits the same place twice in a row, so despite his atrocities the outcry is minimal. But we’ve managed to learn the location of his home base.” He spread the map on a massive palm and indicated a specific region. “Here, in the Tular Plains. Not so surprising, I suppose, but it’s hidden by a spell. However,” he nodded at Nessa, “we have the counterspell needed. Now, how close to here can you get us?”

    “Pretty close, actually.” I said, my eyepatch scrunching as I raised both eyebrows. I’d visited most of the known world of Althanas, but they were still lucky that I’d been to the Tular Plains before. Luckier still that I’d visited an area a few hours’ walk from the mountainous spot Marvin indicated. “What if he just teleports away?” I pointed out, “I can’t follow him unless I know exactly where he’s going.”

    “That’s me again,” Nessa said, finally finding her voice. “I can read arcane residues. I’ll be able to see where he’s gone, and describe it to you. Will that suffice?”

    “It will,” I nodded, and then brushed the shaggy blond hair out of my eyes. “What else can you tell me about this demon?”

    “His command of fire is his most dangerous quality,” Selima said quietly. “According to witnesses, the flames he uses are different shapes, different colors, and have different properties. He can teleport within a room very fast, has two Alerian revolvers, and it’s rumored he once bested ‘ag Tulfried with a blade. He’s as ancient as some of the greatest dragons on Althanas, and cleverer than you or me.”

    “You must not know me very well,” I winked, “so you’re the brains, Marvin is the muscle, and Nessa handles the spellwork. Nice team. What are the brothers dim for?”

    Dirk and Flint both reached for my throat, four hands grasping to strangle me. I swayed backward, and then Marvin was between us.

    “Steady there boys, he’s just testing you.” The ginger giant assured them. “The brothers can arm and armor themselves with powerful ice. Should be useful against a fire-demon, doncha’ think?”

    “Alright.” I clutched the silk scarf around my neck and wiped my face with it. “This sounds like it could work.” I looked at Marvin. My head was at the same height as the heavy-bladed skinning knife sheathed on his chest. Most people probably wouldn’t believe that, an hour earlier, I’d bested him with both hands behind my back. Strangely, that didn’t bother me at all.

    “Of course it’ll work,” the big man chuckled, “you haven’t even heard the plan yet!”

  10. #10
    Member

    EXP: 21,400, Level: 6
    Level completed: 20%, EXP required for next Level: 5,600
    Level completed: 20%,
    EXP required for next Level: 5,600


    Jake Narmolanya's Avatar

    GP
    7,593
    AP
    8
    Name
    Jacob (Jake) Narmolanya
    Age
    25
    Race
    Elf / Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    The brick back wall of the Hunter’s Retreat morphed and molded into a round portal. Through the hole in reality a harsh, hot wind blew. The sun on the other side of the portal seemed a different color, giving everything beyond a reddish tinge. I could see sand-blasted rocks leading up the sloping side of a mountain, pockmarked by small stunted trees whose gnarled roots sank deep into the infertile soil, searching for water.

    “It looks clear,” I told the other slayers. Before any of them could speak, I drew my sword and ducked through.

    The sun felt unfiltered by the sparse clouds, threatening to burn my tanned skin. The wind whipped up enough grit that I pulled my silk scarf over my nose. I recalled my last trip to Haidia as the land’s pervasive sulfuric odor filled my nose and throat. It was not a place I wanted to stay any longer than I had to.

    The rest of the team came through the portal single file. Marvin, with one hand on the large skinning knife on his sash. Dirk and then Flint, both wielding their longswords and looking ready to fight at a moment’s notice. Selima flowed through next, her dark eyes flicking in every direction like a hunting leopard. And then Aeranessa arrived, blonde ponytail concealed within a cloth hood and bow held at the ready. They moved swiftly and silently. Not a bad crew at all.

    “On me,” Marvin whispered, and ascended the sloping jumble of shattered rock that made up the side of the mountain. It rose at an angle, but not so sharply that we would actually have to climb. “We’ve got a bit of a hike ahead of us.” The giant ginger advised, “talk amongst yourselves. There’s no one to hear us here.”

    As my boots crackled over the shattered stone, I fell into step beside Selima in the middle of the pack. The Fallieni woman moved with the grace of a dancer even when hiking up a mountainside. I couldn’t keep my lone green eye from caressing her loose locks of raven hair and her smooth tanned skin. She noticed me looking and looked right back.

    “How did you lose your eye?” She challenged. “Your enemy must have been swift and cunning, to wound a fighter such as you.”

    I felt heat rise in my cheeks at the compliment. Unfortunately, the reality was much less flattering.

    “I didn’t lose it in a fight,” I explained, deciding which details to share and which to keep hidden. “I suppose you could say I… traded it for information. Bad information, as it turned out.” I gripped my left forearm through my sifan sleeve as a slew of painful memories resurfaced. “How did a Fallieni come to be living in Corone, and speaking Tradespeak so fluently?” I asked, changing the subject.

    “I was brought to your island nation as a slave-orphan at the age of twelve.” She explained as she navigated her way up a ridge line. Her voice wavered, but her feet never missed a beat. “Mostly I served as an acrobat in a menagerie that traveled between Serenti and Gisela. It wasn’t a good life, but it was the only life I knew for a long time. Marv found me, and saw something in me. He paid for my freedom and taught me the ways of the hunter.”

    “That was kind of him,” I said, looking at the curly back of the giant ginger’s head. “So he’s not all muscle and bluster?”

    “Ha, no.” Selima said, dropping her voice and leaning so close I felt her breath on my neck. “Deep down, he’s as soft as they come.”
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-10-2017 at 05:19 PM.

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