Out of the darkness and into the Light... [Completed]

~ An Emperor has not been chosen, and with no uniting force, ancient racial enmities are returning. The young lord Barnabas, fights to keep the Empire united.

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Out of the darkness and into the Light... [Completed]

Postby Aeyliea » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:57 pm

P.S. - phpBB botstoppers can suck a big, fat, throbbing....

*ahem* Anyway....this is open to anyone who will NOT stagnate it!

Continued in chapter 2
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=1325

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There lay something glimmering on the edge of awareness, but alas for all that she sought to grasp it, to pull meaning into the meaningless existent, it eluded her. Time was a notion long forgotten, meaningless in this place - if it were, in fact a place.

Time, such as it was, drifted, and she drifted with it, from whence she did not know, on a river every bit as etherial as the human soul.

Human soul....

...and time beyond meaning ceased as suddenly, though it was perhaps a touch difficult to understand the concept of time in a timeless world.

The woman opened her eyes slowly, grimacing with distaste at the grit that made her eyes water. She shifted on a floor of cold stone, once smooth and polished like glass. Light oozed through the grimy film over her eyes, and she blinked painfully as her muscles strained, fought for every movement. It was as if the weight of eons weighed her down, and as she blinked and rubbed the dust from her eyes, feeling the grit grind into the flesh of her face, that she noticed the light growing stronger.

She sat up, dust and detritus of decay sliding from her long since rotted clothes, smearing her naked flesh with gritty gray in the gray light of some strange dawn. Light filtered through as hole in the ceiling, illuminating sparkling motes of dust that still drifted from the ceiling to settle on shattered masonry and half crumbling walls. Memory stirred, but remained out of reach as she groaned and rose to her unsteady feet.

What..... The thought was distant and muzzy. She took a shaking step, and then another, each a supreme effort of will. She felt old and hollow, weak beyond any measure of years or ills. Moving like a lurching ghost through halls of antiquity - halls of the dead and forgotten - she shambled along, casting her watery gaze all around her as she went.

...the ground shook beneath her feet, and even her imperious voice, commanding soldiers in the defense of the homeland, could not shake the thread of fear from itself. The men were terrified, they and the woman. And they were right to be so, for her own guts were a ball of ice. They had run a campaign that would make the Ones of Old quake in their boots, a poorly equipped and horrifyingly outnumbered lot of soldiers and sell swords that did not even number a thousand. She ruefully shook her head as she fled....

The woman came upon the glittering shards of a broken mirror slumped against a wall along the corridor. The wood that had framed it had rotted away long years before, and most of the glass lay shattered on the floor. Only a few glittering pieces were large enough to show anything she could make out, and what she saw was enough to give her pause. A woman of average or perhaps below average height stood reflected in a variety of pieces larger than her hand, and in one that was as big as one the blocks of masonry that formed the walls of this place, she could see all of herself. A palely beautiful woman of indeterminate age, hair dull white and dirtied with dust and ash and age. A delicate face framed by wild hair, large eyes the color of a gentle morning sky on moment, blue-gray like the cold mountains rising in the distant the next. Her figure spoke of maturity with a fullness of bosom and a tantalizing curve, flesh the color of very pale bronze bordering on white. And over her should rose the long hilt of a sword she had not felt nor realized she had been wearing. The leather straps that held the great blade - nearly as long as she was tall, in fact - had not deteriorated at all with the passage of time. The whole affair looked uncomfortable to see it; straps bound the scabbard to her back around her chest beneath her breasts, secured from falling by others that branched away from below her arms to cross her shoulders and the middle of her back. Another length of pale brown leather encircled her waist. They looked as well made as the sword, or as much of it as she could see standing and staring in a mirror. She shook her head, and sneezed at the cloud of dust she shed at the action, more questions clouding her already confused and fogged mind.

What has happened here? She thought to herself as she stepped back. She shivered lightly, only partly for the chill in the air. Only partly. Is this a waking nightmare, or is it the afterlife? She knew she would find no questions here. She looked along the dark hallway. Some distance further down the gloom swallowed the sight of it, but what she could see was not very promising for a way out. The passage ran on level for a time, then sloped sharply downwards into the depths of the world for all she knew. And behind her, where the only light to be had was found, the passage ended in a rough wall of piled debris. The hole through which the light came in lay a third of the way up the wall to one side, and was no wider than her shoulders at best. The break was new-made; the detritus that had fallen to the floor had the unweathered look of stone just exposed to air. She turned and looked at that opening thoughtfully. Waking or dreaming, hell or not, her choices were limited. Her instincts warned her from the dark passage snaking into the bowels of the world. She pursed her lips, then shook her head ruefully. The open air called to her, the sunlight sang.

She made her way down the corridor, the last scraps of leather crumbling from her feet so that she stood truly naked beneath that opening to the world outside. She gathered herself - her strength had a long ways to go before she would consider herself fully recovered - and leapt to catch at the rough edges of the hole.

It was a struggle, a much greater one than she would ever admit to anyone. She barely had the strength to pull herself up and out. The earth ran level or nearly so with the hole knocked in the wall, and as she crawled out and lay panting for break, leafy mulch and pine needles digging into her unprotected flesh, she looked out at the world she had entered. And gaped, wide mouthed, at what she saw.

Gone were the rolling hills and occasional thickets of trees that dotted grasslands where herdsmen tended their flocks. All of it gone, replaced by towering mountain vistas capped in white and wreathed in clouds. Trees stood tall, crowding on another in their numbers. Pines dominated, but large stands of oak and ash and aspen dotted the deeper green of the alpine forest. Of the city, not a stone remained to be seen except for the few visible around the edge of the hole she had climbed through. Her mind was still numb with shock at such drastic changes.

She got to her feet unsteadily, painfully aware of the situation she now faced. The land had an untamed look to it, a look that said men had not ventured here or resided in this place for a very long time. Light, but how long have I been....was I.... The words failed in her mind. She could not conceive any possible answer to how....how everything had changed. Stunned silence was all she could offer the wild land she surveyed, and it took her long minutes to make her feet move again, to make the pragmatic and oft times blunt force of will drive her forward.

Of all the needs that clamored in her mind, though, the most urgent was not food or shelter, not even decency. She had to find someone, somewhere. Fully awake now, with the memories of what was shifting in her mind like broken shards that remained out of reach - she could capture them, reassemble it all, she knew - her need was of answers.

And perhaps a bite to eat.
Last edited by Aeyliea on Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {OMFG....RP?!}

Postby Aeyliea » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:15 pm

Sunlight streamed through the trees that towered high overhead, the light breeze stirring through needle and leaf not far short from the breath off a glacier. She paid little mind to the cold, only to her surroundings. It all seemed so alien and unreal, so radically different from what she had expected. Why do I expect anything? The thought was numbing, depressing. She looked all around, and saw signs, remnants of remnants, that told something, a story.

High peaks soared in the crystal clear air, threads of wind blown snow trailing away from peaks that were impossibly high. And yet, from where she walked among the boles of ancient trees, she could see structures never made by nature, works carved by the hands of man even if they were nothing but shattered ruins. On the high peaks, buildings that had to have been immense and majestic lay shattered on stony slopes partially obscured by snows that never melted, never left. There, along a line of ridges, a jagged tooth of a tower rose drunkenly, slanted askew and barely recognizable as anything she had ever seen. And yet, beneath her awareness, swirling in her mind like glittering shards, memories swarmed like fish; like fish, the sunlight occasionally glinted off scale or fin, casting confusing realization as she walked.

A shallow hill with trees clinging precariously to weathered stone stirred memories of the Rorn Citadel, but if the name had appeared in her head, what it meant was just as mysterious as the resat of the tumbling fragments. Another, a moss covered stone of an oddly worked shape became, for a brief moment, a tall statue dedicated to Barnabas, an image that flickered sickeningly to another, Isonia. The image was gone, and only the names, stripped of all meaning remained.

As she walked along the softly carpeted forest floor, she became half convinced that she was mad. It wasn't that she couldn't remember where she was, or even who. It wasn't that names and images danced into her head like lovers into a whores' hovel. She could, she could remember her name - it was a struggle to form it in her head, but it was there. Aeyliea. Defender of the Realm in which she now walked, a realm that seemed to have decayed and been reclaimed by the wilderness in a mind bending rush. She could remember commanding armies in wars, feeling the sweat and heat of the battlefield as she pushed the spears against enemies more formidable than she could even comprehend. But....it was incomplete.

I am lost in my own mind, she thought to herself ruefully. Lost in her own mind, indeed.

Steep ridges gave way to low foot hills as the sun climbed in its gentle arc, but there was no sign of any other human to be found. Only the shattered, weathered remains of a nation that had been dead for a day, for a million years for all she knew. Her feet became sore, and her middle felt hollowed out, as though she had eatten nothing for days and days, and only the ice cold waters of streams crossing the trackless wilderness slaked her thirst that she could even walk. The haunting silence of the forest - silence save for birds and beasts and nothing else - began to eat at her.

It wasn't until the sun had begun its slow decent to the distant western horizon that she stopped, and then it was to lay eyes upon the first remnant of civilization that did not look worn, or undecipherable.

A tall statue carved of the liing rock of the land rose to the height of a man, and whatever ruin had taken the rest of her realm - she was sure that this land was hers, however transformed it may look, however long it had lacked her presence - did not touch this stone figure.

Carved of stone, it was a man with a menacing cast to his strong face, a hard face of stony angles and planes that made the menace deeper. The semblance of armor, mail of overlapping plates with spiked shoulders and a high encircling gaurd about the neck, steel backed gauntlets spiked at the knuckles. The mans breeches were also of plate male, and its boots appeared to be of sturdy leather plated over with yet more steel. The figure was colored in someway midnight black, except for the face and stylized hair flowing down its back; these last were of purest white.

And carved into the base of the stone were words that made her belly clench as surely as seeing an advancing line of cavalry outnumbering her three to one.

Mia en alazar es tat mien de corros. To the glory of the forgotten one. Or, perhaps, the Forgotten One.

In her mind, she heard other words instead. "I will make you weep until the sun grows cold and the skies at night are blank, void of stars. I will make you cry for what you have done, and your pitiful Gods will wail with you. It is written, and it shall be done."

She never even saw the others, and only heard when it was too late.

----

Awareness came back, and it was not a comfort, nor was it welcome.

She hung from the bole of a blessedly narrow tree, hands and wrsists bound behind her so that her arms and legs were tweaked at odd, uncomfortable angles. She wore not a stitch more than she had whenever whoever had attacked her - she was certain of the attack; her head too much for it to be anything else. She struggled against the bonds that held her, but found them soundly tied. She was strong, for a woman, but she very much doubted that even a man could have burst free from this hold. Trussed as she was, she tried not to think of who - or what- may have captured her.

"Ah. I see that you are awake." The voice was definately male - she colored faintly at the thought of being naked and bound thus before him - but at least it was human. The speech was oddly slurred, the way the words were formed slightly foreign to her ears. "Perhaps you would care to explain why you are here, in my Lords lands. Were I to guess I would say....well, no matter, that."

She scowled, and looked around. She should be terrified, she knew that, and yet she could not summon fear. He could have raped her and had not. Could have killed her, and had not. Yet. She could not see the owner of the voice, but after a more careful look, she could see a camp made some distance through the trees, neat orderly rows of tetnes and picket lines for horses. The smell of woodsmoke drifted lazily in the air, along with the smells of supper cooking over fires. "Where am I?" She asked, her words brisk and clipped, almost musical in quality.

The man laughed low, and strode from behind the tree. He was far from pretty, she saw, with an overlarge hatchet of a nose and deep set eyes. There was no anger in them, or on his face as he spoke. "I would scarcely have believe Tomas when he came back from his scouting foray if I had thought he had any imagination at all. No one enters the mountains here. Bad luck and ill tidings, and other useless rubbish besides. The peasants are a superstitious lot at the best of times, and my Lord does not care to quell such feelings. Quite the opposite really." He casually came to stand squarely in front of her, his eyes running over her body without the slightest bit of interest in anything, except save for who she was and why she was here. "You do not have the look of some common blooded idiot. Still. With the world in a state of constant war, and with rumors sprouting like deaths' head mushrooms on a bloodied battlefield, we must be ever careful of our Lords holdings, and of his person. Who are you?"

She stared at the man, his armor plainly speaking of a soldier caste, he demeanor and bearing crying out to her as an officer. The small camp beyond, and the lack of finery proclaimed him one of common birth, and of low rank. She forced herself to smile as she looked him straight in the eye. "I am called Aeyliea, of Arranor." There was no recognition in that face, not grunt of surprise. If anythin g, suspicion clouded the mans features.

"I have heard of no such land, no such house. How did you come to be here? You are clearly far from home; your accent is not of these lands. A spy, perhaps?"

She shook her head. No such land? The Realm had extended from the Spine of the North three hundred leagues into the Plains of the Sun, carving out a corner of the world that was, if not the largest in the world, then still considerably vast. What in the Light could have happened, to banish the name that had made soldiers soil themselves at the mere thought of battle with the Lions? What had happened to her?

"No, I think not a spy." He sighed heavily, and made a gesture behind her. Rough hands loosened the bonds that held her, and she fell to the ground with a muffled grunt. "I will not let the blind suspicion and dark hatred of outsiders take me as it has so many. Lord Jherrad fights a war with another House, but I'm certain that I've heard no mention of women among his pikes and sword-arms. I have heard that women fight alongside their men in the south, but here it is not so. And I have never heard of a spy wandering the land naked and alone," he added drily as she got to hands and knees. "Alivin, get her some clothes before she catches her death. Please come with me, miss."

She said nothing as she got to her feet, and followed the man towards the tents among the trees, with a murmured thanks for the coat and breeches that the named man handed her as he ran back from camp. They were overlarge, but she had no intention of walking into a military camp in her skin. "My sword, if it pleases you?" She querried of the man who led, but he shook his head. "It will be returned to you once I have had a chance to talk with you decently. I do not think you a threat to Lord Jherrad, but I still intend to dig the truth of how you came to be so far north, leagues away from the nearest settled lands. Or maybe I just want to be sure you aren't some nymph or some other fairytail creature, come to steal souls in the night. I feel quite safe having you unbound in a camp wityh three hundred men to watch my back, but I don't think I'll press my luck and give steel unto your hand until I have some questions answered."

And I hope I can answer them to your satisfaction, because I am not really certain how I came to be here, in this place, on this day. Any more than you are. It was a sobering thought, to find no unease at being amidst hundreds of armed men, but terrified at the thought of whether she could answer this mans questions. For him, or for herself. Unsettling indeed.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:23 pm

The officer held her weapon in his hands, running fingers down the smooth, brightly polished blade. The weapon curved ever so slightly, a single edge gleaming sharply in the failing light of day. The man stood at it as though transfixed, as if he had never seen its like before.

She sat atop an ancient, beetle riddled log that lay close to the fire pit, a bowl of thick stew steaming in her lap. She had been forced to tie the excess fabric of her borrowed clothing back, else she would have tripped over pant legs falling around her feet. The coat was at least tight enough now around her middle that she didn't find her arms snarled up in the extra folds, though it hung loose about her shoulders. She dug into the food, though despite her haste she was neat about it.

"I have never seen such smithing work before. This is the most exquisite craftsmanship there could ever be." He looked up at her, but she was to busy stuffing her face to care. "How did you come by such a thing?"

She paused, spoon halfway to her mouth, and frowned in thought. The memory was there, slippery as an eel, and she wrestled with it, refusing to let it get away. Knowledge bloomed in her mind, and she grimaced as if at a bad taste in her mouth. "Sorcery." She said simply. A simple explanation that did not even half hint at the full truth.

It was the work of sorcery, or perhaps the Art was a better word. She could see that calm face, now, floating in her minds' eye. Calmly serene, as though all the troubles in the world she faced did not bother her at all. A Sidhe, one of the last of her kind living, and a firm ally in a war that had raged for far too long. She remembered the day, and the making of that blade that this man now held in his hands. Forged of iron and other metyals drawn from the very earth, birthed in fires that could not be. "She said that it would never break, that its edge would never fade." She had said that it could be buried under a mountain or thrown into a raging volcano and if recovered, would not even be marred for the abuse.

"She?" He asked as he set the blade aside. "Some sorceress or priest, I suppose."

"I....do not know." She replied. She could see her, true, but there was no name attached to it. Just a serene woman who looked little more than a child, a woman with the bearing to command kings and queens, command and expect obedience. That, and nothing more. "There is too much I cannot remember," she said quietly, resuming her meal if a bit slower. Ravenous hunger assailed her, but the line of questions had unsettled her stomach a touch. "Too much by half."

"I pretend to know nothing of such matters, but you are far and away from your home if I were to judge it."

"And I canot remember how I came to be here, or why, or from where." Smoldering irritation burned inside; she had said as much several times and admitting the lack infuriated her. And perhaps worse, she didn't know why it made her guts knot in a fury. "One moment I...." She trailed off.

"The nameless officer nodded. "Things happen. This world is strange, and perhaps has always been so." He took a pipe worked from antler and wood out, and began to thumb it full of some dark, leafy substance. He pulled a twig that had been burning in the fire loose, and puffed his pipe alight, sending streamers of blue-grey smoke drifting in the calm forest air. "Most of my men are of low birth, and think no further than the next meal, or perhaps the next fight, if they are fools. But my tutos taught that this world was once very different, that the land was different, its people as well. He spoke of times when the Elder Races were more numerous than they are now, and when things we could barely comprehend now, were commonplace." He puffed at the pipe, and sighed. "All gone now, of course. A celestial war of some sort, though few believe it now. Now, the land belongs to us, with the fading Elders drifting further and further apart. I would say that some day, all that will be left will be us humans."

"She nodded slowly. Not so different then, from her own recollections. "Humanity rules in truth, even if the others refuse to see it. All of their sorcery and might is lost to them, and the world passes them by."

"Just so."

She was surprised to find her bowl empty aqnd practically licked clean of every last scrap of food. Despite the hollow that remained unfilled, she did not ask for mre; already this man and his company had shown more hospitality than she could ever, ever dared to have hoped. Perhaps things were different enough now, old animosity vanished in the passage of time, or whatever that had happened to her. She did not question it; the alternative could have been very unpleasant indeed.

"This....Lord Jherrad, is he a great man?" She know of no other way to ask, and the man across the fire from her grimaced.

"He is as good as the next, I suppose. I support him as my family has for a few generations. It is....hard...to disagree when a man has the keeping of all you cherish, especially when that man ensures your children will not go to bed hungry at night." The bowl of his pipe glowed red in the deepening darkness. "Perhaps he has lost his senses recently, though. He sees threats stirring in shadows where there are none, and fears that his own power will be diminished by something. You must understand, such as he run in circles beyond you or I, where dreams and ambition seek after power, and where even your friends are enemies at times." He laughed, but there was no joy in it. "Let the Lords play their games; I am but a simple soldier. I know the way of battle and of war. Let the nobles play their silly politics and stab each other in the dark."

She grimaced at that, and opened her mouth to speak. No words came out, for before they could a cry rang out in the stillness of the camp. "To arms! Up spears! To arms!"

The nameless soldier in front of her was already on his feet, his own weapon bared and in his hand. She eyed hyer own weapon where it had fallen, but made no move towards it, not while she was under that scrutinizing stare. "A coincidence I hope, miss. If we survive this, there may be some hard questions for you." He turned and strode into the camp, calling out orders as the first of the enemy appeared amidst the trees. Aeyliea watched him go, before rushing to snatch up the weapon laying on the cold earth.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:27 pm

She darted forward and snatched her sword from the dirt where it lay, gripping the long hilt with both hands and spinning to face the sounds of combat behind her. Twilight had fallen, and the first stars had begun to twinkle in the blue-black sky, a thin sliver of the moon rising over the mountains to cast its pale glow on snow fields thousands of feet above the surrounding land.

She looked through the trees, and saw huge shapes, human in appearance but far too large for any human she had ever seen. The lumbered into the tents, snapping guylines and swinging massive swords and axes at men wearing dully gleaming armor, and before much time had passed the sounds of steel ringing and the screams of thewounded and cries of the fallen filled the once silent woodlands. She did not even stop to consider that, meal and clothes and hospitality aside, she owed these men nothing, certainly not the blood flowing in her veins. But she was a warrior, whether a leader of men or no, and her honor would not allow her to turn aside and leave these men to their fate.

She started forward, a stiff breeze flapping the loose folds of cloth about her shoulders, sword held in one hand as she stalked forward, alert. Smaller shapes darted out of the trees among the larger, and the sounds of heated battle rose higher.

She heard the snap of branch and leaf behind her and instinctively dropped flat to the ground as an axe the size of man swung through the air where her neck had been. She rolled, and came up on her feet, loose leafmould and pine needles sticking to her clothes and hair. In the half moonlight, with the very last of the suns light turning the horizon into a deep blue that faded to black overhead, she could make out the shape recovering from its swing. She could not recall anything like it before; it stood easily twice as tall as a man, its features cloaked in shadows except for the evil glint of small, beady eyes set in its face. It grunted some harsh, guttural language and three smaller shapes ran from underneath it, the gleam of cold steel in those almost human hands. She had scarcely a moment to prepare herself before whatever they were were on her.

She nimbly dodged the first attacker, its short sword sweeping a gleaming arc that would have clove her in twain had she not leapt aside. She danced back several steps as the others arrayed themselves around her, creatures gibbering gleefully in a course tongue while the giant hung back, watching calmly. There was no fear in her, though she knew she might well die. There was no room for fear in her - only the sword in her hands, and the enemies before her existed. She danced forward, and it was very much like a dance, flowing motions full of grace and deadly precision. She might not be strong, but there was a great deal more to the sword than strength.

One creature darted forward to meet her while the others backed off and began to circle around to flank her, but for the moment she paid them little heed. She came forward, point held low and hilt held high, and she grinned grimly as her weapon caught a fall armed slash, turning it aside and jarring her arm to the shoulder. She twisted the blade upwards, using the force of the deflected blow swing the tip up, and she grunted in satisfaction as the blade sank a hand breadth into the creatures belly. She kicked out with her feet and knocked it backwards, blade coming free as she fell backwards which was just as well, for another of those short blades swung through emptry air where she had been a moment before. The wounded creature cursed and howled in that tongue-wrenching language, but did not go down. Instead, it howled in a fury and charged again, and only pure luck kept it from hacking her to pieces as she regained her feet, dodging its blows while trying to keep the other two in sight. The giant merely watched with a disinterested posture; it cared not whether she hacked its companions to sausage. It could afford to wait.

Ducking three swinging swords, she leaped forward, taking advantage of a poorly aimed thrust from the wounded one. She drove the hilt of her weapon into the top of its head, and in the gloomy moonlight she watched as its eyes rolled up in its ugly face, and collapsed. She gasped at a stinging cut that scored through the cloth on her back, felt flesh part beneath a dull sword and wetness began to trickle down her flesh to mingle with the sweat that now covered her from head to toe. She turned to face the other two attackers, deflecting another vicious thrust, and another, efore parrying one hard, throwing it off balance. The backswing of her blade slashed its throat out, splattering dark blood on the forest floor as it dropped its blade and clapped its hands the the bloody gash, already going down. The last of the creatures - a word floated in her mind, kobolds, and was gone - turned to face her. Fear shone in its eyes, but the terror leaked out to be replaced by glee. "You die now, human," it shouted gleefully, and ran forward.

She prepared to kill it - one long kobold against her was unfair to the kobold - but her instincts kicked in, and she dodged sideways, not quite knowing why. No sooner had she sidestepped, than the massive axer crashed into the ground where she had been standing, throwing dirt and debris into the air. She spun in surprise and saw that the massive giant had finally decided to join the fray; even know it was picking that siege weapon of an axe up, glaring at her balefully as it did so. Again, she felt a sharp pain, stinging and hot, and cast a shocked look down at her should. Half a hand of wetly gleaming steel transfixed her arm several inches below her shoulder, hot blood already oozing around the blade as the kobold that held it struggled to pull it free. Grunting, nearly crying out in pain, she spun, taking the chittering creature around in an arcing circle with her. Shuddering agony as the blade slipped free and the madly howling kobold stumbled backwards with the sword in its hand - and then vanished in a pink mist as the hard swung axe in the giants hand half cleaved, half exploded the creature that had stumbled through the lace where Aeyliea had been moments before. Luck, she thought to herself. She turned to face the oversized creature, unnaturally light steel in her one good hand while her left hung useless against her side, ribbons of blood trickling from the bone-deep wound the kobby had made. The giant threw its head back, and howled out in the goblins' strange language. More shaes moved in the shadows of the trees.

No fear, but a kind of despair settled on her. Too many. Four was too many, and she was lucky to have survived against them. She had always made her own luck, after a fashion, but there was no way she coul take on the dozens of shapes pouring out of the trees behind the giant, not now, not ever. She had known one, once, who could. Thinking of how she would have done it, she shuddered.

Shivering slightly, for it was cold of a night here despite the heat of battle, she threw caution to the wind, and charged forward. She was almost close enough to reach out and touch the giant with the tip of her sword when it swing that massive weapon at her again. She brought her blade up to deflect it, and shrieked numbly as she was lifted off her feet and thrown against a tree some distance away, sliding down the rough bark and leaving a smear of blood from the wound on her back as she came to rest on the ground. Stunned, she watched numbly as the beast turned, and started to come for her. Her legs refused to work, and she could not lift her arms to defend herself anymore than she could fly. She saw death in those piggy eyes, gleaming by moonlight, and was dimly aware of other mailed shapes rushing up from behind it, wicked spiked axes and spears and swords gleaming coldly in the night.

"Forward the pikes!" A strong voice shouted, and suddenly a line of men, battered armor splattered with blood abnd a third of their number already wounded coming into sight, breaking around the tree she sat against, and closing once more. Shields interlocked like a gleaming wall of steel, those pikes were leveled ahead of them as they advanced at a measured step, grim faces filled with fury as they prepared to attack.

A hand was offered her, and she stared at it muzzily, her sight losing and regaining focs as she looked at it. "Perhaps I was too dismissive of a woman warrior, Aeyliea." The young officer leaned over and took her by an arm, and hauled her roughly to her feet. She swayed wordlessly there, leaning against him for support. Her blood marred his otherwise clean uniform and armor, but he paid it no head.

The spears reached the giant, and she winced vaguely as a slash sent men flying, pikes splintered ad broken as the bodies the thing hurled with its laying about. Spears flashed out, stabbing, and the great creature bellowed as its dartk blood flowed freely from dozens of wounds, collapsing to its knees, and then falling to the ground in silence, dead. The other shapes crashed into that line of men, and the steel rang once more, spears stabbing, swords slashing, painting the ground with orcish blood as well as men. The young lord paid little heed to the battle, beyond glancing up and issuing an order here and there. The enemy, for the most part, was defeated. "Lord Jherrad was right, curse his soul." He spat, and looked at her with a touch of concern. "You should not have tried to take on so many at once. Only a fool tries to fight so, with any expectation of living. Burn me, but you must be a master with that blade to even be standing now." He turned and looked at his men, but gave no further command. The enemy had broken, turning to flee, and his soldiers had taken to pursuit, harrying them, cutting them down as they fled.

"I..." She began, then swallowed. "I have not seen any....goblins....in quite some time. I had thought they had been eradicated."

He laughed, but it was not a cruel laugh. "If but they had. Dirty, filthy things. There are few goblin warlords left, true, but some few others still use them in their armies for their viciousness.. Me, I think they and some of the others should be hunted to the last and exterminated. This is the day and age of mankind." He snorted. "Well, maybe the elvenkind are ok enough, when they are not staring down their noses at you like you'd tracked mud on their floors." He spat again, and allowed her to lean against him as they made their way back to the ruined camp.

"They will come back, eventually. Let them cool their rage on those that are left. Makes it easier work if they regather and try again, and my men know better than to go too far or become isolated. They will return and we can tend to the wounded." He eyed her sideways. "While they are mopping up the remnants of that lot, I will tend to yours."

She bared her teeth at him, but did not protest. Her head was swimming, and blood had soaked through the coat she wore, and dripped from the fingers of her left hand.

"Very well," she replied weakly. They entered the ruins of the camp, but before they had gone more than a few steps, she stumbled, and then fell, darkness clouding her mind as she went.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:40 pm

Time was a dream. She was a dream, mist floating on the wind, fading, fading....

Their numbers blackened the plains, stretching into the distance. Smoke drifted from thousands of cook fires, and the screams of those captured in outlying towns and villages drifted through the air, a surreal nightmare that was far too real. The invaders danced 'round fires, and flayed victims in their arcane rights, spilling the blood of innocence to power sorcery too foul to contemplate, magick from a realm beyond this and a god, or perhaps goddess, that none here knew.

Except for him. The man Avantharose, Avanth the conqueror, the Demon Lord who was no demon, merely behaved like one.

She stood on the high, thick walls of Kantorin, amid the bristle of soldiers with bows and arrows, swords and shields and spears. The towers of siege engines rose from the plains before the walls like twisted, man made trees. There was a veritable forest of them out there. and the soldiers of the Armies of the Night gathered around them, ignoring the priests and wizards that chanted and danced behind the front lines. They would get their taste of blood soon, they knew, and were eager for it. But not until the dread fires were raised. Not until the Great Lord gave the order to march, kill, and destroy.

And so she stood there, with two others at her side. A woman, shorter than she even, with hair the color of polished silver spilling down her back to her waist. Her lovely, girlish face looked like a dolls, fair features and smooth lines with a look of agelessness that was at odds with the youthful body it belonged to. Her eyes were the color of polished amethyst, and seemed to glow with an inner light. That pretty face wore an unlovely scowl, a tightness at the eyes belying the nervousness she felt but did not show. Even so, her hands were clutching her skirts, a color like the pale blue sky early of a morning.

The other was Jearom, a tall man with short, dark hair and a face of hard lines and planes. He wore an open scowl, and spit every time he looked at the activities beyond his enemies front lines, but said nothing. He wore plate and mail, and had a short curving shoulder at either hip. The weapons were unadorned, simply workman's toold, though they were well cared for, as was his armor. His helm was under his arm, and his dark eyes scanned the waiting invaders.

"I still think you are a fool." The words were icy cold, and the womans' eyes bored into her. Despite being nearly a head shorter than Aeyliea, Hope - Aeyliea would wager her entire fortune that it was not the woman's true name, but then the Sidhe, such as were left of them, were ever a secretive lot - had a commanding presence that could dominate kings and queens. Her mere presence could fill a room, and she was quite unused to being balked. "When they came, they will overrun these walls, and Kantorin will die in flames however valiant her defense. Assuming, of course, they come on as they appear." She shifted uneasily, releasing her skirts and instead smoothing them. "There is a feel to the air....something...." She shook her head. "I don't like it. It is as foul as...as what he has already done."

She did not speak the words aloud, of course. She spoke of the curse, or the plauge, or whatever it was that the Great Lord had afflicted her people with. Just those that had opposed him, true - he was not a god however he postured - but the plague spread. It spread amongst the few Sidhe she knew, and where it went it usually killed, if not quickly. Not just the Sidhe, either. Those whom they worked their charms and magic and enchantments on fell just as easily as they themselves did. It was a small wonder that Hope still stood. She had been among those first afflicted, and if sometimes she was weak and sickly, she certainly showed no sign of dying anytime soon.

"What will be, will be, Hope. You know as well as I do." She took a deep, unsteady breath. "I will not flee that bastard, even if it means death."

Hope merely looked at her, and said nothing. Jearom said nothing, but then he seldom did anymore, ever since Jehhana,


She stirred. "...will not surrender, nor give quarter, even if it means death..." she whispered weakly.

Waves of raw magic swept over the walls, shattering stone and laying to waste whatever they touched. The dark, inky miasma of alien sorcery stifled the air in her lungs, made her head fit to burst. The stairs she ran down buckled, then collapsed as masonry was torn apart like thin cloth, and the screams of the dying echoed down the narrow streets leading away from the access point to the walls. Building crashed and fell in, scattering sparks and embebrs into a sky filled with smoke, and the dull red glow of fires elsewhere in Kantorin. And she ran, picking up men and women as she went. What had started as a lone flight from certain death had become a procession, a march to secure what could be and abandon all else. Behind her, she heard another wall collapse like so much rubble, and could hear the shouts of triumph as their enemy oured through the gaping rents in their defense, killing and looting as they went.

She shivered, moaning in the darkness. She could hear his laugh, here the Great Lords laugh, and it tore at her soul. He would have what he wanted - silence, and an end to resistance.

She looked out over the city from the man-made hill, the Fortress of the Light, the center of Justice for Anselar, her homeland. The city burned and heaved before her eyes, burned and screamed. The sky was hidden behind a thick pall of smoke and ash, and the earth moaned beneath her feet. Every now and again, the ground quivered as if in fear.

She looked left and right, and saw the bare handful she had managed to take with her in the beginning. Less than a thousand, but battle hardened veterans all. The main army of Kantorin was gone, destroyed. She had watched as fell sorcery had stripped the flesh from their bones in waves of unimaginable power, even as it sundered her walls. The Gaurd remained, some veterans and some sell-swords. And now, with their back against the walls, they turned and prepared to die. They held the passages of the fortress with their bare handful, against a tide that would swallow the Light, that would estroy them so utterly they may as well never have been. She turned a tight eyed smile to her husband, and he grinned mirthlessly at her.

"Until death do we part, my love," he whispered to her as the first of their enemy showed itself at the edge of the courtyard, the gates already a twisted, melted ruin laying to either side. Hundreds poured through, triumph on their faces, glee for killing in their shouts.


"Until we return to the Creators' hand, beloved..." she murmured. Faint movement, but not her. The world burned on.

War tore Jehhana. The invade her come in the night, numbering no fewer than five thousand, but their leader was strong. Too strong. He had come to proclaim the coming of his Lord, who would rule the celestial sphere and cast mankind back into the pits of hell where it belonged. She had seen him, moving amongst the bands of men fighting in the city streets, those men who captured any not quick enough to flee and flayed them alive, before burning them to death. The pyres of the slain rose all over the city, and the screams of terror and pain filled the air.

She could not understand it. Jehhana was not a large city, but it did field a garrison of twelve thousand Imperial elites. They had died like dogs, destroyed to the last man by this stranger, this usurper who wielded an unimaginable power. A fell power, as dark and deathly dangerous as any she had ever seen or fought against. A lone man, and he was a man, not a god no matter what he claimed, or his soldiers. But she had watched as he slew a thousand men by himself, and his attacks were only blunted somewhat by the garrison mage cadre. Their howl of despair and anguish still filled her ears. They had died harder than the armed men had, for their weapons were more etherial than the hard steel the soldiers had wielded, but they died no more decently than those they sought to protect.

She turned to her second, and shook her head. "We retreat inland. Have the bannermen call the order. We must find a more defensible position than this - this Avantharose has the city, and it is lost."


"Lost!" She shouted weakly. "We are all lost!" A cooling touch on her brow, a whispered voice she could not understand. "I am lost," she whispered. Fog. Mist. Drifting.

She darted down a corridor, wary of another encounter. Her face was bruised, as was much of her body. It seemed he had recognized her after all, and for some reason seemed to enjoy taunting her, hurting her. She did not know why, and she did not care.

Tears cut runnels through the dirt and soot on her face, and she could not help the occasional sob that escaped her. He was gone. The Light of her life was gone, her reason for living, cut away. And she had watched, impotent, as the bastard had run him through with that terrible black blade, watched as he laughed and turned away, leaving him to die in her arms. His blood still stained the leathers she wore, and she felt soiled to her soul with his death. If only she had been stronger, or quicker. If only.

She realised she had stop running, standing in a hallway somewhere in the heart of the fortress. Her hands hung at her sides, her blade forgotten on her back. She never even noticed when Hope calmly walked up beside her, trying to embrace her, to give comfort where none was wanted or welcome.

Her wail of pain and fury echoed through the halls, echoed through the stones. And something happened. Heat. Such terrible heat....it all became hazy. She was deaf to the frantic words on the Sidhe's lips, blind to the destruction suddenly afflicting the last stronghold of her people.

Such heat. It burned her bones to ashes, and she was consumed by it.


---

She stirred with a groan, jostled and jolted about. It took an eternity for her to open her eyes, and when she did they were heavy, terribly heavy. She felt as weak as a newborn lamb, and soaked to her bones besides.

She was in....a wagon? She was unsure at first, with the heavy cloth stretched tight overhead, running over rounded bands of iron. A dull grey light filled the small space, and she could smell sickness on the air. Hers, she realized suddenly with horror. She tried to rise, but her feeble strength was not enough to allow it.

"You have been sick for some time, Aeyliea." The officer - she had never learned his name - sat beside her, a bandage tied around his chest. He did not wear a shirt, but other than the bandage he seemed as fit as ever. "We were afraid we would lose you a few times. The goblins are not known for poisoned weapons, but I have never seen an infection take hold so quickly. Loss of blood may have killed you by itself but..."

"How long?" She asked, and was shocked at the weakness in her own voice.

"Eight days. It has been eight days since the attack at the northern border, and we have been pressing hard for the capitol since. They have come again, and we have seen signs of other attacks, other raids." He put a hand on her shoulder as she tried to rise, and ignored her weary growl as he held her down. "Rest. I will be presenting you to Lord Jherrad himself once we arrive in the city, but you will meet no one if you are dead, or sick. I have never seen such sword work before. Not of any man, and certainly not of any woman."

She subsided grudgingly. She really could not have risen if she wanted to. "I have trained long and hard to learn the sword, and have carried it for many years. But I owe most of my achievements to luck, not skill."

"That is nonsense, and you know it. Luck is half of what battle and war is, anyway. Even the best laid plans seldom survive the first arrow leaving a bow. After that, it is skill and quick thinking. Though, most people would not press their luck so." His voice had become very dry at the end, and she felt her face flush. She could recall, with some difficulty, facing....too many. She should have fallen back amongst the others, to face the threat together rather than alone.

"I had to." Memory was surfacing now, things but glimpsed before. Memory, and pain. "I need some rest, though, you are right."

He nodded slowly, and took to his feet, swaying with the wagon as it rolled onwards. "As you wish, Aeyliea. We are only a couple days out of the city, now. Perhaps tomorrow you will be strong enough to walk." His face said he didn't believe it, but at that moment she did not care. Searing memory had her in its grip.

When she said nothing, only turned on her side with her back to him, he simply went, brushing aside the flaps at the back of the wagon. Morning sunlight poured in, and was gone as quickly.

She was just as glad he wasn't there, or any of them, and equally so that the sound of the wagon lurching along, that and a hundred men or so marching, could cover the sounds of her weeping into her pillow.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:05 pm

She road on a gentle dun mare at the request of the officer, whose name she had still not gained, and now especially did not care to have. She cared about little, lost in her own dark thoughts as the column of men marched along the highroad that had suddenly appeared some time during the days she lay in a wagon, delirious with a fever that had threatened to kill her. Even now, her wounds ached, especially the one in her left arm. Surprisingly, she didn't think there would be a scar - she had ever been fortunate, had only gained a few of those in her long years of service. It might well be days, maybe even weeks before she ragained full use of the arm, but if it bothered her it did not show on her bleak face. That face looked haggard now, dark circles underscoring her eyes, and there was a deep pain in those eyes now. Deep loss that she wished she could simply forget.

She glanced disinterestedly at the divided skirts of grey wool she wore no - a gift from those she rode with, as if she had done anything worthy of a gift. The clothes fit well enough, but she was unaccustomed to the dress with its swishing skirts. She was a warrior, not a dainty goodwife. The clothes were not her, but her depression was such that she had voiced no complaint, merely put them on when offered, putting her sheathed sword into the girth straps of the animal she rode.

She had said little, though many of her companions had tried to rouse conversation since she had climbed from the wagon sometime in the hours before dawn. Shortly after, the officer had led the mare up to her, insisting she ride, that she was not yet strong enough to walk the distance he intended to cover that day. That had been hours ago, and she had to agree with him, dully. The ridges and valleys of the foothills she had come out of naked many days before had faded into tall hills and wider valleys, and here closer to the capitol, the touch of man was much more obvious. Where there had been no farms and no sign of any settlement, now large clearing with fallow fields dotted the countryside, large farmhouses of wood with steely sloping roofs of thatch dotting the land here and there. All were empty now, chimneys silent and cold. The air itself had turned cold, as the weather shifted. The sky overhead held a weakening sun that cast fitful warmth, and the wind blowing from the north held the chill of winter to it. The mountains themselves were wreathed in clouds, and the land that way ran to white instead of green now. Despite the threat of winters' imminent arrival, however, there was plenty of evidence of traffic, if none sharing the road with them at that moment. There was evidence of other things as well - the blackened finger of a chimney rising above charred timbers where a farmhouse had once stood, and an occasional field of battle long abandoned, the crows and flies gorging on the dead left behind. The men with her growled and muttered at it all, faces tightening the further south they rode.

They had passed more abandoned carts full of furniture and personal belongings the further they went, some fire-gutted ruins. It was clear, to her, that the incident on the border had neither been isolated, nor was it nearly as significant as what lay for all to see here. And even so, she could shed no tears for the losses she had seen, could stir not a thread of concern, or even interest. She dwelt on her own dark, despondent thoughts and had little attention for anything else.

And so they rode on, until the sun had begun its slow fall to the horizon. A man on horseback appeared around a bend in the road that wound through low hills, leaning low over the neck of his horse at full gallop. Lather covered his mounts' flanks, and the man himself looked ready to fall from the saddle from fatigue.

The officer called a halt to the column, and then waited at the head as the rider slowed, and came to a halt, dismounting. The animal blew hard, eyes rolling, and though Aeyliea was not very knowledgable of horses, she thought that that one was likely dead on its feet. The man made an odd salute to the officer, then began to gesture wildly, talking fast and loud. The officer merely waited until the man had finished delivering whatever news he had to carry, then asked him questions, to which the rider nodded or shook his head in reply. The officer shook his own head, slowly, and then turned to walk back to his comman.

"Trouble," he said as he came abreast of the column, and men broke rank to gather round. "Taiene is surrounded by an enemy force numbering in the hundreds, though thank the Light that sorties from the city have whittled the numbers down, as well as assistance from our allies in the south." Men muttered angrily and called out questions, asking if this lord or that was responsible for the treachery. "We do not know whom leads these forces. There has been no communication with the enemy commander, and any messenger sent has been flayed alive, his head set on a pike just outside of bowshot."

Aeyliea picked her head up at that.

"They have dispersed their forces around the city thinly, but it isn't as though Taiene is large enough to require great numbers to hold. They cover the gates, and turn back any sortie attempting to break through. Gillad says there are probably seven hundred around the city, with three or four hundred wandering the surrounding countryside firing towns and farms. Of the seven hundred, a hundred or so are clearly human, and in charge. The rest are as we have already seen roaming the countryside.Several hundred orcs and kobold, a few giants." He did not sound afraid or even too interested, merely relating a hard patch of work they had ahead of them.

he listened for a moment as members of his command spoke their piece, and Aeyliea reined the dun mare in closer. "If we strike quickly, we can drive through the encirclign encampment near the Mountain Gate. The enemy is thinnest there, and we should be more than capable of punching through before the other camps can outflank us."

Aeyliea groaned. It was not her place to say anything, but the melancholy that had gripped her all day seemed to lessen at the prospect of this engagement. She had been born to lead, the get of commoners or no. She pushed her horse to the edge of the mass of soldiers, and cleared her throat.

"You have something you wish to say, Aeyliea?" The officer's voice was carefully nuetral, but she suspected the man may understand more about her than she cared to think about.

"Yes, I do." Her voice was calm, but it was also confident. "You can break through to the city walls, likely, but once you do you will be as trapped as the people behind her walls already."

"Our numbers added to the defense may well spell the difference between victory and defeat. Being trapped in a siege is better than being stuck out here, to be whittle away by the roving patrols that surely wander the countryside."

She shook her head slowly. "We are few enough that we could avoid their notice. You have enough men even so to take several options. You could harry the enemy parties that walk about unmolested, burning and pillaging, and thereby decrease the total number of your enemy in the area. Either you defeat them, and turn your attention on the forces holding the siege, or else force the encamped enemy to dispatch more of its number to hunt you down, thus weakening the siege. If done quickly, the city may be able to break out through their weakened enemy."

"Secondly, and preferable, would be to use half your force to attack the enemies that rove the countryside, taking care to avoid notice so as to strike and vanish before they can mount any kind of a counter offensive. Before long, they would be nipping at shadows, and completely focused on finding your small force to exterminate it. The other half, you could send in raids in the night, destroy the encamping forces supplies and siege equipment if they have any, and bloody them a little. The idea is to hit them hard where they least expect it, and retreat before they can fully commit to a defense, and keep moving so they cannot strike back."

The officer stood silently among his men. But she was not finished.

"A day or three of that, and they would attack even their own patrols returning. With luck, the garrison in the city would be aware of the attacks against various camps, and eventually send a sortie from the city while we fan pandemonium and confusion amongst the enemy. 'When your enemy is stronger and has every advantage, take every advantage you can. When they are large and strong, be small and unobtrussive and bleed them away with fleabites.'"

He laughed then. "An old campaigner. I suspected a little, from what I heard while you were...." He cleared his throat, and shook his head. "Perhaps the Light does shine on us." A murmur arose amongst the men, and an eagerness as well. She just sat her saddle silently.

"As we have little choice in any case, I would be honored if you would take half my command and set to bloodying these brigands that think they can burn and pillage at their leisure. I do not think the men will mind, in any case. They have seen you fight, and at worst your plan will not work, and you will be driven back to us to regroup."

She shook her head slowly. She coul forget her pain, for now. Vengeance was a dish best served cold, in any case, but if she wished to start upon that road, first she had to get through to this city, and see this Lord Jherrad. There were many questions she wished answered, and nobility - while an insufferable lot - would have some of the answers.

"I need something other than a dress to wear, in that case." She smiled, and it was not a pleasant sight.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Larit » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:53 pm

Almost invisible against the rocks, a man watched a patrol of goblins and orcs below with a calm gaze. If one were to look up, they would see nothing but the side of the hill, but he knew they wouldn't. They never did. It was why he had chosen this place over many other possible locations. The patrols came through here with regularity, their stink and their crude language giving away their approach long before they came in sight.

As his body stayed perfectly still, the rage within him nearly came to a boiling point. Not three weeks ago, he and his band had moved their operations here. It was supposed to be simple and danger-free. They were going to raid the storehouses of the farms and villages on the darkest nights and then retreat back into the mountains. That had been the plan and it had worked with relative ease. For a while.

His group of a little over a dozen had been whittled down to a handful, most too injured to even think about theft and running for safety. The rest were out there in the ruins of a farmstead. Or what was left of them. He had heard their cries of mercy and parlay long into the night and ticked off on his fingers as each cry was silenced.

Eight.

That was how many he would have to kill before they were even. Eight lives for eight lives. An eye for an eye. But everyone knew that a goblin and orcs life didn't count for even half of a man's.

A cold smile spread across his thin lips as the patrol wandered away and he waited a few more moments before sliding up the hill with the practiced ease of a thief. Picking up his bow where he had left it and sliding it over his shoulder, the man turned back towards where the patrol had disappeared, his startling blue eyes cold as stone. He had a plan and it was going to work. It had to work.

Bent low as to not to make a large target, he raced across the hill top and reminded himself he wasn't a thief anymore. At least of goods. That man had died in that farmstead. Having studied the area carefully, the man quickly reached his destination before the patrol.

The road continued south towards some city that he hadn't even bothered to learn the name of and on the right hand side, still smouldering from the flames that had devoured it, stood the remains of a farm house. Or at the very least he had suspected it had been. Standing in the middle of the ruins stretched a chimney, its brick blackened by soot and it was here that he had decided to make a stand. The ruins of the house would cause anyone approaching to have to pick their footing and it would be made even harder with his arrows raining down on them.

Pushing back his black hair from his face, he pulled out a piece of charcoal from the ruins and began to cover his exposed skin. He almost laughed at himself, picturing how others would see him now. A man barely past his twenties wearing hunters clothing splattered with blood and covered in soot. A hunter is probably what most would dismiss him as and it served his purposes now.

As he climbed to the top of the chimney, his hands and feet searching for their next hold, he allowed himself to hope. Maybe he would get out of this alive. If not, he had thirty arrows.

Larit, the bandit of goods, focused himself as he waited for the patrol to come. Over a score of goblins and orcs against one man. He kissed the head of the arrow before setting it to the string and said his farewell to the world.

The remnants of his band hadn't made it, having been cut down by this very patrol, and all avenues of escape were watched. If he was going to die, he was going out on his own terms.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:57 pm

The sun began to settle in the west, stretching the shadows long upon the silent land.

Aeyliea looked at the markings she had scratched into the dirt several hours earlier. To many, they would be undecipherable, the scrawl of a madman perhaps. But they held meanings to her. The lines scratched represented the various roads and topography of the area, stones and leaves and twigs marking troop patrols and encampments, with arrows scrawled in the dust depicting movements and numbers, disposition, and supplies. On the grand scale of things - and this was far from any grand campaign she had ever run, whispered the memories in her head - it layed out both her options, and hinted at the mind guiding her enemy.

She had sat in a hollow with the picked men that the nameless officer had given her to command. Out of the hundred and thirty seven men under his command still surviving and fit for fighting, she had been given sixty. Sixty men, and her crude map showed far greater numbers than had been initially discussed by the outrider from the city. The groups clustered around the city were perhaps a quarter larger than indicated, and the bands roving the countryside were formidable if put all together. In total, there were perhaps as many as fifteen hundred unwelcome guests in the lands of Lord Jherrad. And with a total disposition of six hundred and thirty seve, not counting losses in the city, they were sorely outnumbered.

She laughed softly to herself as she studied the map. The northern road indicated at least two enemy patrols, scouring the countryside for any not trapped in the city. These were committed to razing the surrounding farms and villages, routing out any who tried to hide. The purpose was as obscure to her as it had been to the officer before he had taken his compliment of seventy three south, towards the camps encircling Taiene. She truly did not care.

Within an hours casual march, two bands. One with perhaps fifty or sixty of the goblins without the supervision of any of their human overlords, and another group consisting of a hundred and four at last count. The rider she had picked out of the men available to her was quite good; his recon was the reason behind the numbers and dispersment scrawled on the ground. For the last hour, she had thought of the best way to approach this prickly situation. Her job, as laid out by herself, was to whittle the enemy in the countrysides down, to draw them out and force them to committing forces to seek and destroy her and her band. The trick of it, of course, was doing so without being hunted down and destroyed.

She stood, and men around her glanced her way. Yes, they had seen her fight, and had listened impassively to the discussion she and the officer had made over tactics and plans, but she could see in their eyes the inherrent distrust of the outsider. She had no doubt in her mind that they would follow her command, though it meant to them their eventual demise. And untested commander, only recently met. She didn't blame them, but didn't let their colored view throw off her equillibrium. She had a job of work to do, and it was her goal to do it with as few casualties as possible, to pull of the patently impossible.

"Leave your horses here." She said in a low voice, and men began to dismount. And then a thought occured to her, and she pointed to a group of men that still sat their saddles, faces blank. "Except for you. You do need to dismount and wrap your horses hooves in something. Cloth, leather, it doesn't matter what. Secure your tack and equipment so it doesn't make any sound, all of you, but especially you who will be my cavalry. I need volunteers, the twenty best runners among you. And you had damn well be able to do just that unless you want to end up in a goblins' cookpot."

As men bent to the tasks asked of them, some sullenly and some with their faces carved of stone, she began to walk through her small camp amidst the trees, delivering orders and giving a breif account of how things should go.

There was some laughter towards the end, and even the stone faced men grinned a touch by the time she sent them on their way.

----

Anastor sat behind a pile of refuse, sighing dejectedly. The adults all seemed to be so worried, now, ever since the burnings the week before. No one was allowed to leave the town, and he had decided he didn't like that at all. There was poor forage within the walls of Taiene, and with so many refugees clogging her walls, there was naught to steal, not even a crumb.

He stood slowly, bored. A small child, perhaps ten or eleven years old, he was dirty and clothed in little more than rags, dirt smearing his face and his hair a greasy red mess atop his head. But his eyes were clear, green like bright emeralds, and if his hair was greasy and his clothes worn, at least he was still alive. It was not an easy life, living on the streets in such a provincial town as Taiene but he and a bare handful of other waifs managed it. His principle survival trait was, of course, stealing. In particular, stealing from the nobility, such as it was here.

He walked out of the refuse choked alley, and glared angrily down the street at the men in breastplates and helmets that marched the streets. Martial law? Martial law indeed. If coin would have bought anything worthwhile, he would have already had their filthy pockets picked clean, and a good kick in the ribs besides. No one ever suspected a grubby boy of anything other than mischief, and adults were ever underestimating what one street urchin alone could do.

Because Anastor had a dirty little secret. Where his pals had to rely on stealth born of a life trying to avoid notice of their supposed betters, Anastor didn't have to work so hard at it. Because Anastor had his Tricks, and his Tricks had served him well in life. Until now. But his tricks could still help him, if not in the way he had always used them before, if only he could puzzle out how. All he really wanted to do was leave the city, leave before the creatures the grownups had said were stalking out in the night beyond the walls could get in, before the screaming could start again.

Slipping around a corner in the street, stroking the hilt of one of the many concealed daggers concealed about his person, small like himself, he began to hum a happy tune.

Adults rarely paid kids any mind, anyway. Maybe the plan that had sprung in his mind would work, after all.

------

She was mad. More mad than she could remember ever being, except perhaps on the day of the Sealing, when the Lord was cast into the abyss, locked away for all time. Only now, she knew it was not true, and that the Day of His Return was near to hand. Soon, the dread armies would rise again, and the empire would flower like deathsblossum, the fragrant stench of death drifting far and wide while her master sought to control the world once more.

And she was mad, because she knew, now, that the Lord was no god, however much he had posed in the days of his glorious reign. He was still fearfully powerful, though, and for that she would follow him a little while longer. A little while. But the day of the Mah'riel would come, at long last, children of a forgotten god wroth at the world at the time of their creation.

The man before her, bound hand and foot behind his back, struggled weakly as she reached down a taloned hand, and yanked the gag roughly from his mouth. "I'll tell you whatever you want to know, just please let me live, Great Mistress!" His pitiful whining and pleading sickened her, and made her even angrier.

Reaching down, she picked the pathetic human up by his neck, talons sinking into flesh. Blood welled into her hands as she brought his face up to hers, blood red eyes meeting dark brown, one full of bloodlust, the other full of terror. "Tell me what you know of the Necrahol," she whispered smoothly. His eyes bulged in his head, and his skin had begun to pale, turning faintly blue from the grip she held him in.

"Nec.....necrahol....lady? I do....."

His words were drowned out by a snarl of rage. Some of the orcs looked up as his piercing screams tore the dying twilight apart, but the humans kept their eyes properly averted. They knew, if the goblins were too stupid to understand. But even the goblins understood, they just showed curiosity about the suffering of others. Her laugh joined the screams of her captive, and it was long hours before she had had her fill of his pain and suffering, sating her desires on his flesh in profane manners that would make even a whore look askance. At least they wouldn't have to bury a body, or deal with the stink.

-----

"Burn my bones to ashes, how did we....ever get talked into this?"

The words were panted by the runner in the lead, and he and the others ran as if their lives depnded on it. They did, of course, for out of the failing light behind them roared at least a hundred orcs and goiblins, their human handlers left behind in the dust of their glee to kill. So far, the plan was working out just fine, but they didn't like the taste of their part in it. They ran at full flight, not daring to take their eyes from the ground, not daring to place each foot carefully - for if any fell, they would be overrun. The goblins were fast runners, and even if the fallen could get up and turn to mount a defense before the horde chasing them managed to catch up, it was thin odds at best that one man could last more than seconds, or even sell his life at any price, facing the odds they had rolled themselves in. No, they hated what they were doing, but if the plan worked as that iron-hard wench with the sword predicted it would, then it would be repaid a hundred full.

Each man, of course, had family trapped within the walls of the Lords' capitol. Fear for wives or children was a heavy burden to carry, but it lent speed to their legs, for the hope that they could give those who cowered within the walls even another second of life.

They ran onwards, the wind of their passage a roar in their ears. renewed shouting, guttural language harsh and unintelligable, rose behind them. The other patrol, perhaps. It was all madness, the whole situation.

They ran past the smouldering ruins of a farmhouse, blackened timbers still smoking, embers still glowing amidst the ruins with blackened chimney stabbing a finger to the sky, but they paid it little notice, for the copse of woods that they had been told would be there stood ahead, perhaps three hundred meters away. Somehow, disbelievingly, they managed to find another wind, and pressed on harder.

A hundred fifty meters, and the shouts and catcalls, the taunts behind them gained a ring of anger, but anger or no, whatever the cause, they were blinded by the need to kill, and a hundred and some on twenty was far too sweet a chance for them to even consider passing it up.

A hundred meters.

Fifty, and beyond the copse of trees, a shallow depression in the land that the road ran through. Hardly to be considered a choke point, but for what was in mind, it would work as well as one.

Past the trees, and into the open, and the men all stopped running, turned and ducked down to the ground, shrugging aside hastily puleld grass and lifting pikes and shields, forming a ragged line. As they made their shield wall, the could see the ungodly horde pouring around the trees, dark mail and vicious axes and swords gleaming as the last arc of the sun slowly settled below the horizon, and the sky turned from orange to deeper shades of red and twilight blue. To a man, they all grinned in anticipation. Not much like men facing certain death, not at all.

----

She watched from her vantage on the high ground to the left of her bait. She could see the enemy rushing in without any care to form proper ranks; they would strike the pitifully small defensive line haphazardly, straggling into it in groups of three to eight. Perfect.

"Archers, on my command. Stand ready, loose at four hundred paces."

Fifteen men slowly rose from behind their concealed positions, great longbows scavenged from the remnants of fletchers' home all knocked and ready. Fortuitous, that.

"Hold! Stand ready!"

----

The horses snorted a little from behind the cover of the trees, but their riders maintained good order despite this. Their muffled hooves would, of course, still be audible, but it would be too late by the time the enemy realized they had been outflanked. Too late by half.

"Stand ready! Hold the charge until after the majority of them are committed!"
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Topheh » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:04 pm

Emrilsam stared out the wooden bars of the back of the wagon at the orcs as they marched through the farmlands. The wagon jostled left and right as it navigated the terrain. Stuck in his own wagon and pulled by his own horses, Emrilsam watched as they passed by yet another burned-out farmhouse.

For the thousandth time, he carefully looked at the cage he had been put in two days prior. A shoddy thing, really, it had no nails or metal at all in it, just rope binding the bars to the top and bottom of the crude door that blocked off the back of the covered wagon from the outside. He imagined that he probably could rip those bars off with little problem, but then that would leave him, alone and unarmed, against a hundred-plus orcs and kobolds, not to mention a handful of human handlers. He knew his way around an armory, but not that well.

The smell of cooked meat wafted into the wagon, and Emrilsam cursed as his mouth began to water and he involuntarily found his gaze drawn to the other cart, this one carrying a large cookpot that still steamed from lunchtime, although the actual meal had been prepared last night.

Abel had been a good man. Well, actually, Emrilsam had no good way to know that. He had been generous with his terms and offered the warrior significantly more than he was used to receiving in order to procure his services and guard him and his wares as they traveled. They had dragged the fat little man out of the cage last night, and had butchered him while the man still lived, carving away flesh and dumping it into that horrid pot as the man screamed and screamed and screamed before finally, mercifully, dying.

Emrilsam held no illusions. He had perhaps two days of life remaining to him before he would meet a similar fate. It just depended on how long it took them to finish off Abel.

Emrilsam flopped onto his back, and asked himself again how he possibly could have missed the ambush. He was a trained warrior. He had been ambushed dozens of times in the past, as merchant carts were a favorite target of bandits. But this time, he hadn't noticed a thing, and had been caught completely by surprise. By ORCS, a race not exactly known for their stealth. He had taken out half a dozen orcs before one hit his hand hard with the flat of his blade and sent the ax spinning into the darkness as his hand involuntarily spasmed in response.

Wait. Something was happening. The orcs were shouting and racing away towards the west, the kobolds and humans not far behind. Emrilsam waited a half-minute until the camp cleared out, then decided that if he didn't try to escape now, he would be more-or-less jumping into the cookpot himself.

Reaching up, he began wrenching away at the bars of his cage, and after a minute, was rewarded as the first bar snapped in half, followed soon by another and another until he could slip out the back, grabbing one of the broken staves to use as a temporary weapon. The hairs on the back of his neck rose and he instintively dived to the right as a sword came down where he had been standing. As he gained his feet, he saw a single orc emerge from behind the wagon and, with a wordless shout, charge at him, longsword swinging wildly.

Toph looked down at his broken stave and realized that trying to use it against that sword was going to be a tall order. So he did the next best thing and threw it. The heavy wood struck the orc in the throat, collapsing the monster's windpipe. The orc dropped is sword and clutched at its throat, and Emrilsam dived for the sword, grabbed it, and, just as the orc's windpipe reinflated itself, skewered the orc in a spray of blood.

Turning and pulling the blade free, Emrilsam began running in the direction the orcs and others had run. He demanded revenge.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:51 pm

Jaesin swore, and picked himself up off the floor, which was now strewn with shattered masonry and split timbers. Looking back through the doorway, into a room filled with acrid smoke and the fitful light of flickering flames on whatever furniture hadn't been torn to flinders, he grimaced.

Kellum was just rising from behind a thick stone barrier he had had erected in front of his....experimental station, is what he called it. Jaesin did not called it an experimental station, he called it a suicide room, and for all intents and purposes thats exactly what it was.

"Damn, that could have been messy," mutered the younger man as he stood up and brushed splinters of wood and dust from his coat. A younger man, sure, but Kellum was still as old as the hills, considering his chosen...profession. Tall, he could look most men in the eyes and down on still more, with his wrinkled face a network of scars gained from a life of adventuring in the mist absurd fashion. His long hair was gray and tied behind his neck, the silvery grey cascading between his shoulder blades and ending near the middle of his back. A thin rill of blood ran from a gash just over his eye, compliments of his latest experiment, but his face beamed with pleasure. "At least I think I've figured out how to adjust the lobber so the stress will not detonate the dragonegg before time."

Jaesin only shook his head. Like his brother, he wore a simple coat and trousers of a uniform, if now smudged, gray. His brother worked in the service of the local Lord, but he himself was a member of the garrison, and blessedly off duty if there could be such a thing. Well, perhaps off duty was the wrong word. He had been sent down into the dungeons with his brother to make sure none molested him while he was about his work. That was how great the Lords' concern over the invaders was; he was willing to let his brother, who was quite thoroughly mad, have whatever he needed to deliver some of his precious eggs to the walls.

And Kellum had been more than ecstatic to comply with his Lords order, of course. But in the same token, he had muttered to himself about how the lobber didn't work just right, and how the eggs would be much, much better if you didn't have to throw them, and then throw yourself behind whatever convenient solid object happened to be close to hand. The eggs were heavy enough that you couldn't throw them much beyond thirty feet if you were lucky, and that was stretching the word 'luck' to the breaking point. Fifty feet wouldn't be enough, nor a hundred at that.

"Brother, just finish your damn tweaking, and lets take those accursed things of yours to the wall and have done with it. If you want to blow a hole in our own wall so badly, may as well be about it."

"You are a terrible brother, Jaesin. Terrible. Why, with a hundred of these we could rid ourselves of those ugly sons'a'bitches this very instant." And probably half the population of the town, quite aside from leaving a hole big enough for a lake. Wonderful. Perfect. "Anyway, I am sure I have the tension modified enough that it shouldn't burst again in the cradle. Reasonably sure, anyway." Jaesin shook his head as his brother came around the barrier and started to gather the seemingly innocent looking balls of clay from the table, each with a slot formed in the side and a groove on the top to allow a crossbow bolt to be tied in place beneath it. A long bolt, so that the end with the egg would be free and clear of any mechanism that might unfortunately strike the fragile shell of the egg and thus crack it.

Once, Jaesin had asked his brother what he put in the things to make them so violent. His brother had been somewhat reticent on the subject, only hinting that a substance was smeared on the inside of the shell and then coated with a thin layer of waxe, except for a hole in the top of the egg which was deliberately left behind. Once the wax had hardened, a thick liquid was poured through the hole, and the hole sealed. According to Kellum, if anything struck the egg sufficiently hard to break the layer of wax keepingthe paste and liquid seperate, the two would interact. The result was something near to sorcery, fearful beyond description.

It was just unfortunate that the concoction was exceedingly expensive to make, as dangerous as getting into knife fight unarmed, with results as predictable as the weather, which was to say not very. Still, Jaesin supposed there was a kind of allure to it. During their days wandering and selling their services to whoever could afford to pay for them, he had seen his brothers' concoction obliterate walls that would have taken miners weeks to accomplish. The catch, of course, was you had to get close enough to the wall to use the eggs, and even more importantly, you had to be close to the walls when you blew one of them up. Too close for comfort, and that was an understatment that would send a man to burn in hell.

"Let me carry a couple of those, Kellum. I wouldn't want you to drop one." Kellum threw his head back and wheezed with laughter.

"Oh, no, you wouldn't want that at all. Not at all, no I dare say not!" As he handed some of the innocuous looking eggs to his brother, he laughed and muttered to himself.

It was, Jaesin reflected, going to be one of those days. Thankfully, he had remembered to bring some wool to stuff in his ears this time.

It never occured to him that he should be more terrified of the invaders than of his own brother and whatever collosally bad idea he had come up with at the time. For once, though, he was right to worry.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:09 pm

[ooc - I have Larits' permission via PM to use his character for this post, to continue the story./ooc]

He watched from his vantage up on the rough stonework, a touch amused perhaps at the comical sight of twenty men running as hard as they could, being chased by six times their number in goblins. A touch of amusement, but it faded with grim memory, and a cold purpose settled into him as the humans charged past like bulls in heat, puffs of dust rising with every foot fall.

The light wasn't great now, but perhaps that served his purpose every bit as much as the decoys had. Unfortunate souls stumbling across the path of his quarry or not, they served that purpose rather eloquently, as they drew the prey in a headlong pursuit with nary a care for caution.

Perfect.

Hoisting the bow, he hung from the chimney by wrapping legs around the charred stone, and drew a feathered arrow, knocking it. The distance was not the best to shoot from, but if he had even a shimmering hope of hitting his quota, he would have to start early, before the enemy passed him by. Then he could follow, and perhaps avenge the men who would surely die when their wind gave out.

He carefully picked his target out of the mass of running shapes that strung out long on the road, but did not draw until he had the sight picture he wanted. And then he did, arms straining as he drew to full, arrowhead steadily following the desired target with a slight lead.

Loose. An orc stumbled, clutching at the feathered shaft that suddenly sprouted from its neck like a deadly flower, clawing at its throat as it fell thrashing. He did not dwell long on that one target, instead choosing his next. Aim. Wait. Draw. Loose.

An orc fell, an arrow buried deep in his heart. The creature didn't even twitch as it hit the ground and skidded on its dead face. Two.

Aim. Loose. A third stumbled, arrow protruding from its thigh, a guttural snarl rising in its mouth before a second arrow, following quickly after the first, speared it like a shoat caught under a fence. Three. And the mass was now passing, running at full speed, but not a single one noticed, or perhaps cared, about the fallen behind them. Aim. Loose. Four. Five.

And there, at the end of the pack, were men wearing leather jerkins sewn with steel discs that flashed in the failing light, and they did not look best pleased. Well, perhaps anger wasn't the chief emotion among them, though why the handlers would have any reason for fear was both beyond him and perhaps beyond his caring. But a man made a much better target, and he would only get a chance to shoot one, if he was lucky.

He drew bead on the one in the lead, a tall man wearing the leather with steel and a scowl on his face that would make wine turn to vinegar. Fitting target, that, but he planned to make that wine of this mans blood. With casual ease, he drew and loosed, and the man stumbled, clawing at his chest where the feathered shaft stood out, blood burbling to his lips as he fell to his knees. His companions only glaced at him as they ran by, but continued their pursuit of the goblinoids.

After a time,. Larit sighed, and slowly clambered down from his perch. Six, and only one of them human. The score was not yet met, but there was no fear there - there was, after all, plenty more. Enough for everyone.

----

The men braced themselves, their shields held ridges and pikes steady with fixed, grim expressions on their faces. They were going to die, and no cunning plan would save them.

They noticed as the first flight of arrows flew overhead, fifteen shafts streaking through the sky at picked targets. The orcs didn't even seem to notice them, until the volley fell in their midst. Shouts of rage turned to pain as many went down, but too few went down, and of those that did, too many got back up. They may have been hampered by shafts sticking from legs and arms and bodies, but they were no filled with rage and adrenaline that didn't even come close to their lust for the chase before. With a howl, the hords surged forward, stringing themselves out even further in the process.

Another flight sailed overhead, and with the targets closer, more fell and did not rise as arrows sank into flesh, but if the goblinoids took any notice, they did not notice. Another flight followed the second, and a fourth, and a fifth, with orcs and kobolds falling to thrash at the ground and claw a the arrows that pincushioned them, before the first shuddering crash ran through the line of ikemen. Steel clashed in the air, and men screamed in rage.

"Taiene and Lord Jherrad!"

"For the Lord of Taiene!"

"Death to the invaders!"

Defiance turned into grunts as more orcs joined the lines, trying to step around the fallen while the wall, pike followed by sword follow by pike, stabbed and cut at the hord. A man went down, and the wall contracted to fill the spot, but there were simply too many of them. Twenty or thirty orcs lay still on the fields beyond the pikes, and another dozen lay dead at the feet of the men who fought with all their skill and mettle, but now there were forty of them pressing against a line of ninteen, and they knew they could not hold out much longer, not without being outflanked.

----

Aeyliea looked on at the men fighting below, and winced. They had already butchered a quarter of the enemy, and so far their losses were light, but it could not continue this way.

"The archers will advance in ranks, and loose at every twenty paces." Men plucked arrows stuck in the ground up and returned them to quivers, then joined a hasty line that began to advance. At every twentieth step, a volley was loose, and the enemy below squealed in agony as the arrows slashed through them. But there were still too many.

"Where are the Light-blasted horse?" she swore under her breath. She alone had no bow, and in any case she was a lousy shot with one. "Forty paces and loose, then advance and strengthen the line. We must hold until the cavalry arrives." She of course did not wait. All she had was a sword on her back, and sheathed it was of little use in the fighting. She had to get much closer before she could lend her strength; until then, all she could do was try to keep some sesne of order to the pitched battle, and keep the men from breaking.

"I swear to the Light, if they have fled I will hunt them down myself." It wasn't a curse, it was a promise.

---

Horses moved with a muffled stealth that would make a scout proud, twenty men on horseback in gleaming aromor with their pikes held high, approaching in a tight formation. The enemy was ahead of them, the road a bit further off. Smoke still trickled from the ruins of the farmhouse past the copse of trees they had circled 'round south and east, and while they had seen a lone figure clamber down from the jutting chimney, a man in simple huntsman's clothes, they paid him little heed. Their attention was focused on the orcs and kobolds that were piling up against the shrinking line of men behind spears and swords and shields, and their howls of frustration at such a simple meal turning so deadly could be heard clearly here. They watched a twenty or so at the back of the ppress stopped their frantic shoving, and pointed over the heads to the right of the pikes, guttural language urgent. They had seen the archers, and the small contingent broke from the main attack to intercept them and slaughter them.

No command was passed between the horsemen, but as one they began to pick up from a trot, reaching a cantor, and then a gallop. The enemy was completely clueless of the incoming cavalry, and they liked that just fine.

The distance closed, three hundred yards.

Two hundred.

A gleam of anticipation lit every mans' eye as they rushed forward, hell bent on wreaking havoc on their unsuspecting foe.

----

Aeyliea grinned bloodlessly as the goblinoids broke free of the main party, and began to advance at a run in her direction. The archers were running low on arrows now; those who had fired their last dropped their now useless bows and unsheathed short swords, stalking forward to meet the new charge. There would be no shield wall to protect them, here, only the steel in their hands.

She reached over her back with one hand, and slowly drew the incredible length of steel from its sheath with a silken rasp that spoke of blood and death. As she brought it 'round front, both hands gripping the unadorned, long hilt, a predatory light gleamed in her eyes.

Blood and death, screams and laments, they all melded into one, and she strode forward almost eagerly, and despite the ache of her older wounds, she felt a thrill of anticipation.

This, she knew, was what she was born for.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Topheh » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:54 pm

Emrilsam ran with one hand on the hilt of the sword which he had clumsily shoved through his belt, making sure the bare blade came nowhere near his legs as he dashed (as well as he was able) after the orcs. He came over a small hill, and saw six bodies lying on the ground before him, each with at least one arrow sticking from the corpses. Glancing around in case the archer was still present, he quickly scavenged what he could from the corpses, grabbing a sturdy shield and an actual scabbard to place his blade into. He stopped upon seeing that the blade the human had carried was far superior to the orc blade, and instead took it and the scabbard together.

He ran onwards and soon heard the sounds of battle. Grinning a vicious grin, he pulled free his sword and waded into the orcs, laying into them left and right as they and a group of... for the love of Barnabas, were those archers that were fighting? Yes. Archers fought for their lives with short swords. Emrilsam dodged slightly to his right to avoid a hasty attack from a kobold, and quickly struck, separating the head from the body as the kobold slumped to the ground. He looked about and saw another warrior, handling a VERY impressive looking sword dispatching orcs onetwothreefourfive. He began to cut through the lines to reach the warrior...
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Larit » Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:48 pm

OOC: Thanks and you did Larit proud :)

IC: Dropping to his knees in the burnt timber, he drew another arrow to his cheek and let loose, taking a human in the back. He had once thought that a human life equaled another, but not anymore. Anyone working with these beasts wasn't human. They were just another one that needed to be cut down. Taking a sad kind of pleasure in the death he rained down on the group, he slid the bow over his shoulder and pulled the daggers from their sheaths. The scrape of metal against leather sounded like music to him.

Leaning low, he raced forward with arms extended out behind him towards the melee. The clash of sword against shield came to him loudly but was quickly drowned out by the pulsing of the blood in his head. The traitorous humans had their attention elsewhere and it made his work that much easier.

He slid up the first one and, without even slowing his pace, spun on his heel and slammed the dagger into the back of the man's skull and raced left. The daggers slid in and out of flesh and he didn't care anymore whether it was the flesh of a man or beast. Larit was awash in blood and he could taste it on his lips and oh, did his heart race! Darting in between the thinner ranks of the flanks, he stabbed and slashed his way towards the line of defenders.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:17 pm

She stalked through the furthest camp from the walls, her inhuman gait clearly recognizable among the lesser races that made up the majority of the camps. An odd stalking, poisoned on the balls of feet that bore not a scrap of leather so that the talons of her feet dug into the loamy soil of the hills.

She looked nearly human, shapely curves and a fair face and full bosom, long legged, but the similarities ended there. Her eyes were the color of fresh blood with no pupil visible, and the whites were yellowish, like a wolves. Her perfect mouth was filled with sharp teeth, including canines that were more suited to ripping throats out than anything else. Her fingers bore sharp talons, as did her feet, and her hair was a ruddy red that hung loose to her shoulders. And she wore nothing more than a wide strip of cloth binding her breasts and concealing them, and a loincloth of rough leather. Closer examination would reveal that it was not leather, but instead, human skin, dried and cure and layered to opaquness.

Where she stalked, the orcs and kobolds shrank back in fear, eyes following her passage through the camp. The humans averted their eyes, not wanting to meet that inhuman gaze. She had taught them the error of that, and of balking at her Lords' whims long ago, when she first came and took control of them and all the host that now wandered this gods-forsaken realm in the middle of nowhere.

She pursed her lips as she strode about, eyes smoldering. So angry, forever angry. Since that first....touching...she had found herself in a rage. Perhaps her heat was coming on again? But too soon, she knew. Once every five or six years, and it had only been three since last the heat took her, consuming concious thought with lust. Lust for the flesh, and for blood and pain. To the mah'riel, they were virtually the same - one of the hutnresses would find it a very difficult choice, to choose between delivering agony or taking what they wanted of the flesh. More often than not, it came as the same thing.

She pushed her way past a pair of humans gaurding the tent of the purported commander of this expedition. Her lips curled in a sneer as she pushed aside the men, and then entered the tent. Command, indeed.

Inside was a sparsely furnished command tent, with a section walled off for quarters to sleep in. The Lord himself stood at the table, looking at figures and maps of the area. The scowl on his face was eloquent enough; he did not like what he saw.

"You have delayed long enough, Curin." Her voice was a hiss, though the words were formed well enough that humans could have no trouble understanding her. Her own racial tongue was - surprisingly - melodic, even if they sounded like great lizards when they spoke among themselves. "The Lord has demanded that this town be...removed. And then you will take your men, such as survive, into the mountains."

He whirled in surprise at the first words, but his face darkened with anger at her words. "I lead this army, wench, not you. The honor is mine, granted me by the Lord. Do you dare defy him?"

Her laugh was unpleasant. She stopped and looked him squarely in the eye, until he averted his gaze. "You are a filthy human, Curin, and nothing else. Think you that the Lord holds you in high enough esteem to countermand me?"

"I was given the command, not you. Your way would have half or more of us dead to achieve what could be done with far less blood spilled."

"Do yo ureally think He cares about you or your precious soldiers lives? He would kill you all for a moments' amusement, especially if it granted him something he desired. And he desires what may lay in those mountains."

He shook his head. "There is naught in the mountains to interest the Great Lord. I was better off serving him on the borders of His realm, though why any would want his lands is beyond me. They are barely fit to support what little I have managed to keep, over these long years."

She looked at him. Just looked, by the smouldering rage in her eyes made him take a step back. "Attack the city, Curin. Tomorrow. You can consider that a direct order from the Great Lord himself."

"Absurd. Why would the Great Lord put a sava-"

His words were cut off as she stalked forward as fast a striking viper, one hand closing around his wind pipe and lifting him as easily as a child by the troat. blood trickled down his neck where her talons dug into flesh, but he made no struggle. "Mark my words well, Curin. You live at my sufference and mine alone. Your life is mine, your mens' lives are mine. Have a care that I don't kill you all myself."

She hurled the man into the table, sending papers and maps flying in all directions, leaving him in a heap upon the floor. He did not move, merely look at her, a touch of fear in that gaze. She hissed in frustration, then spun and left the tent.

Ignorant fool. How could he think himself above her? The humans were the Lords' playthings, but she....well, she was not His get, but perhaps her people were of the creature he served.

So long as the Lord served the master beyond the abyss, the Mah'riel would strike where and when he said to. So long as.

The Tribal matriarch strode into the night.

----

She danced, and the enemy died in front of her. The elegant movements so like a dance, shifting feet and stance, blade flickering and deflecting, attacking and defending, and blood flying in the air. Aeyliea was one with the sword in her hands, one with her enemies as they swarmed around, every piece of bared steel seeking her flesh and heartblood, but none coming even close.

She bought time for the archers that still had arrows to shoot. Stepping forward, she took two on, sword and axe curving in opposite directions to cleave her in twain. She ducked the axe and parried the sword deftly, kicking out to plant both feet into the face of a snarling orc who went down in a heap. As she fell, she caught herself with one hand and rolled, a second axe slashing through the air where she had been to burry itself half a hand into the dirt, then slashed out with the sword one-handed, neatly hamstringing the kobold with the sword before burying the tip of her blade in the throat of the second axe wielder. She rolled to her feet and stabbed at the wildly slashing kobold, ending its feeble attempt to continue on, and then met a fourth enemy, deflecting his spear with contemptuous ease. It fell to the ground, eyes already filming over in death, before it had even regained its balance.

An open area surrounded Aeyliea quickly, as any who sought to attack her alone were cut down ruthlessly, and the only blood spattered on her was not her own. She danced through practicied sword forms, cutting orcs down like hay, and was dimly aware of others fighting wildly at her side, behind her, ahead. Shapes in armor appeared, cutting and stabbing, and vanished in the madness of battle, the pounding of heart and the heat despite the cold air.

She leapt over a low swung sword, coming down on the attacker with a two handed overhead slash that split the ugly orcs' head halfway to its nose, then spun to put the corpse between her and another with a mighty war axe coming up from behind her. Instead of hitting her, it hit its dead companion, splattering gore all over her. before the thing had a chance to regain its balance for a second attack, she had skewered it through its black heart.

"Do not kill all of them! Burn you, let some of them escape!"

At that moment, the cavalry crashed into the mass encircling the pikes, who had formed a defensive circle to keep from being outflanked by three times their former number. Men were down on the ground, lifeless eyes staring, and what had been a solid line of twenty was now reduced to thirteen, with three times their number in dead goblinoids piled haphazardly around them.

Orcs squealed and whirled to face the new threat, but lances from horseback were terrible things to footsoldiers, and they were pinned to the ground where they stood, screeching and scrabbling at the wooden shafts as if they could pull themselves free. Those who lost their spears to the orcs, lay about them with swords, steel flashing in the light of a silver crescent of moon rising above the mountains in the distance to the north.

In seconds it was done, truly done. Caught between the anvil of the archers and the pikes, the orcs broke and scattered beneath the hammer of the horse, fleeing in every direction. Horsemen in twos and threes rode down what they could of those who fled, while a handful of the enemy still pressed the circle of pikes and swords. In moments, even those were down.

She suddenly realized that there was nothing about her anymore. The ground was churned to mud from the spilled blood of man and goblin alike, and the stink of ruptured guts, of shit and piss and blood and death, hung heavy on the air. She stared about her in wonder. It had worked, and pretty much as planned. The sword in her hand dropped to the ground, arms too leaden to carry it any longer, muscles burning and aching with hard use. She wiped sweat from her forhead, and managed to only smear blood and bits of torn flesh that had been spattered on her in the hottest of the fighting. Glancing around, she took stock of what was left.

Twelve of the pikes still stood, leaning hard on their weapons and breathing harder. There were no wounded among them, at least not serious - those who had been, had died for lack of speed, and their butchered bodies lay in the bloody mud, quickly cooling as the temperature dropped with the setting of the sun. Of the archers, there were still twelve - she had slaughtered any who came too close to her, and bought the others time that they had needed. By the pin cushioned corpses all about her, they had done their fair share.

And the horse, her ace in the hole, stood untouched. The enemy had been taken completely by surprise by the mounted men, and had not even managed to unseat a single one of them. They still dripped with blood, and their were wounds spread among them, but each sat their saddle as they came in, through with their harrying of the defeated. As one, those men who had looked at her with distrust and disbelief before wore a different expression now. To a man, those who survived looked at her as if they had never seen anything like her in all the world before.

And were not displeased by what they saw.

A brief memory, of a man in plain clothes darting amongst the enemy, rose unbidden in her mind, and her eyes sought out that man from among the survivors who even now gathered together. She saw him, as bloodied as the rest but alive. There was another, somewhere out there, but the night hid him from her sight. The one had been close enough to her to see, and that was good enough for now. Good enough.

She had taken these men against a hundred and twenty or more of the enemy, and with fifty five men, had slaughtered them. It had only cost eleven lives, but the butcher's bill was cheap, this night.

As one of the mounted men rode up - the man she had placed in charge of the cavalry, she noted, she spoke. "See that the dead are buried. Tell the men to rest, and tend to their wounds. This was a great victory. A great victory." Looking at the dead, she could do nothing but ruthlessly crush the sadness down. It wasn't those men she saw, broken and bloody on the field of battle. The image in her mind was a different field entirely, and the dead was her own.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Topheh » Sat Jun 23, 2012 2:47 pm

And just like that, it was over, cavalry rushing in and crushing without mercy the remnants of the band which had captured him and killed (and eaten) his employer.

Emrilsam leaned heavily on the polearm he had salvaged from a fallen pikeman, using the long shaft to keep weight off of his leg, which had a long shallow cut along the thigh. It wasn't serious, and would probably scab over and heal without much intervention, but it still was unpleasant to try and stand on it.

Of course, his reprieve only lasted a few moments, before the soliders realized that there was someone else among them, and he found himself stripped of his weapons.

His explanation that he was a mercenary was accepted without too much question, but it was agreed that he should be brought to the commander just in case.

And so he found himself probably a good hour later, brought before the warrior he had seen killing orcs with such great efficiency earlier. And to his surprise, now that he had a chance to actually see her rather than just get the impression of a dancing blade held by a competent warrior, he discovered that she was a woman.

Emrilsam hid his surprise well. Female soldiers weren't a complete oddity, not in all the world, at least. He had served alongside them in many wars, and didn't hold to the idea that women were somehow inferior warriors. He knew many men who were inferior warriors as well. It just required training and an innate talent to make a warrior, not the ability to grow a beard. It was more surprising to see one in a position of command, however.

"My Lady", he said, "First, may I say that your skill with your sword was inspirational. I am Emrilsam, recently in the employ of a merchant... we ran afoul of an ambush by this same patrol you just destroyed and my employer was killed. I seek revenge, and ask to join you and your forces until my blood-debt to my employer is repaid."
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:40 pm

She didn't relish the decision to remain camped so close to the butchers' yard, but with night falling heavy and fast through the hottest of the fighting, and thin clouds turning dark and heavy, promising more than just cold, she had little choice. Of the survivors of this coup, many would require tending before they could be moved far. It was her fervent hope that the increasing chill and biting wind out of the north didn't add to the casualties, but such was the fortune of war.

She stood up slope of where the pikes had fought, and many of them had died, surveying the field. Carcasses littered the ground, illuminated by the fitful light of the moon as cloud banks raced across it. Inhuman shapes lay forever still, tangled with the corpses of comrades messily killed. None there had died too easily - every man, down to his last breath, had fought like a cornered badger. The grim scene told the tale well enough. Were she of these people, she would give commendations, and speak for the dead as was proper. But she was a stranger here. If her acceptance among these man was warmer, it was only for competence and luck. She had brought them through hell, most of them. For a soldier, it was enough.

A man approached in the murky darkness, stripped of armor. He wore simple leathers - weight was a hinderance for a scout, and scouting was not all of the young mans duties. She glanced at him as he approached, then went back to surveying the carnage. Her eyes were shadowed recesses in her face, haunted by memories not of the here and now.

"Mistress?" The man spoke quietly, and she gestured silently for him to speak. Many of them now understood her reluctance to be called a Lady. She had no titles, here, no land or holdings. She had been born a commoner, and only through sheer iron determination and will had she ever managed to procure the titles she once had, and the power that went with them. With the Empire as dust, her titles were gone.

"Mistress, the scouts have returned. Several of the ...handlers... managed to make it away, as you requested. A couple of them have headed for the hills as if all the hounds of hell were at their heels. Some few have begun to make their way back to Taiene." She nodded, motioning for him to continue. he cleared his throat. "There are two other parties to the south and east, and to the south and west. Neither are so large as this one was - at best count, we could make out fifty or sixty among either group."

She nodded, but she had already expected as much. "Hobble your horse but leave it saddled, and rest. I am sure someone in camp has something to eat, but above all, rest. See me in the morning; I will have orders for you then." The youth nodded respectfully, then turned his mount around and trotted back to the gathering of men below. He looked back once, and shook his head before continuing on.

"A fine piece of work, that." She was not startled by the voice. Her second, named out of the cavalry that had saved the day, walked up to stand beside her, grizzled face wearing a perpetual scowl. He looked down below, at the cook fires and flurry of activity, but paid it little more heed than she had. Instead, he looked over the silent field with its unmoving lumps, and slowly shook his head. "Not that I disbelieve what my own eyes see, of course. Just that an outlander could marshal enough loyalty to take the reins of command. You've an air about you, Aeyliea, that demands obedience. A commanding presence."

She said nothing for a long moment, merely listened to the cold wind rising to a fitful howl. A tang on the air suggested snow was not far off, and mentally she cursed. "In other places and times, sergeant, I had the right of that command. But time moves forward, however one may be stranded from the flow."

"Deep words for a soldier. Deep. I doubt I will ever meet another like you, for all the longer I may live."

"The Light willing, we will all live a while yet. I have not come this far and survived this much to fall here, in some forgotten corner of the world."

"Why are you here?" The question was unexpected, and she gave answer in silence for a long time. The old solider reached into a pouch on his belt, and pulled a pinch of some dark, aromatic herb from withing. He slipped it between lip and gum, and spat, but said nothing.

She sighed. "I do not know." What could she answer, for true? She barely knew herself. If this was her homeland, it was so far decayed and changed it was beyond recognizing. A brief image flashed in her minds eye - fire and death and chaos, swirling 'round a single man who thought himself beyond the laws, a piece of heaven itself - and faded. What could she tell people safely? She dare not tell all, until she knew more. "Truth to tell, I awoke one day to find everything I knew gone. Everything I held dear, dust, and all I cherished in disarray." Close enough to the truth, but omitting enough. It would have to do.

"Fair enough. I will ask no more questions about it. I can understand your own usease, when all are strangers." He sighed, spat, and turned. "If it means anything at all, I have faith in you. You will do us proud, as you have already done."

How easy to say it, but what do you know about me? She shook her head, and continued her vigil over the dead. She didn't have long before another came to interrupt her quiet contemplation, and moreover her thoughts that kept drifting back to that one grim moment of realization, of terrible loss.

"Mistress?" The young scout stood with his back to the fires below, and a second shape stood next to him. She did not know these men well enough to tell one from another - there were all strangers, to her, and she to them - but the clothing marked him out as different from the contingent that had been given into her care. "This man was found on the field shortly after the engagement ended. We were not certain if he was one of the handlers for the goblins or not, so we took him into custody. He claims to be a mercenary, a merchants' guard. We thought it best to leave the matter to you." The youth averted his eyes, ignoring the shining tracks of tears on her fast fastidiously.

Despite the tears of pain, her gaze was cool and collected. When the moon cast its pale light through a break in the clouds, the shadows beneath them could have been nothing more than shadows created in the absence of light rather than grief long held at bay. But her eyes were steady, and her gaze measuring, taking in the mans simple clothes, his face, his manner and posture. That auguring stare weighed and measured everything to his bootlaces, but whatever the scales told was kept in the privacy of her own head; she said nothing of what she thought.

"I am no Lady" Her voice was flat, and hard as iron. "Merely someone who happened to be in either the right place at the right time, or conversely, the wrong one. As, it would appear, are you." She paid no attention to compliment on her skill with a sword - any idiot could learn a weapon, and men made more over skill and prowess and a dozen other silly things more than she ever could. In the end, if you still stood, living, at the end of the horror, it was good enough. Good enough? Her heart wrenched, but nothing of the turmoil inside showed on her face.

"I command these troops by the will of their true commander, in service to their Lord Jherrad. I sorely doubt that they will turn away a sword arm in these circumstances, and I will be happy to have you." That iron hard look came over her face again, and the tone of voice that came after was cool, commanding. "I will not bind you to whatever oaths these men have sworn - they follow me, for now. But I recognize the light in your eyes, young man, and it is the fires of revenge and retribution. If you come with us, your sword points where I say, when I say. We are too few to have a lone wolf among us, when every sword counts, when every body pushing shields could spell the difference between life, and death." Young? Maybe in comparison to her. The blonde hair of hers was so light as to be white, but careful examination would show threads of grey mixed in. And then there was, of course, the other matter. "I mean to harrow these...invaders, and run them screaming for mercy from these lands, though they are not my own." Her eyes burned with their own cold light, vengeance and retribution a slow burn deep within.

There was a famliar feel to all of this, something she would not speak of to anyone. No one at all, but if her suspicion proved right, her innate instinct....well, then. Some things could not be ignored, and she had her own score to settle. And on that adventure, she would be willing to take any who would swing a sword.

She took a last, long look at the field of the dead, and then turned, walking with the sinuous, lithe movements of a huntress. "If you can abide by those rules, then come with me. There are plans to be made, and envoys to be sent. I am afraid that what was planned before will not work any longer." An air of haste, of need. If her voice was hard, so be it. She did not like being rushed, but she would choose her own groundto stand and fight.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Larit » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:37 am

As the battle winded down, Larit felt his blood-lust leave him and slowly began to slow his dance, the daggers finding less and less targets and all-too-soon, it was over. As he stood amongst the survivors, he looked left and right and noticed that not one of them looked at him as a stranger. He was covered in blood as they were and with the lack of armour on some of, he was not too out of place. Leaning down, he dried his daggers on the fur tunic of a nearby orc and thought about the next action he could take.

He could easily just merge with this 'army', grab a few supplies, and be out before they knew it. Let them create enough havoc behind him and he could easily slide through the patrols and be out into safety. It was easy, especially now with the shock of battle settling down on the soldiers. He had seen it enough times amongst his own band. The song of battle was over and many just stood around, gazing out over the battlefield or at each other.

Larit stood and slid the daggers back in their sheaths as he watched a mercenary, stripped of weapons, be taken away. Was this one of the traitors that he had seen lagging behind the main host? A cold smile spread across his thin lips. If it was, he had one more job to do before leaving...

Patting shoulders and giving the occasional word of friendship, he slipped through the outer perimeter of the camp and was slightly discouraged to see that there was no sign of them moving as of yet. It was lunacy. You didn't camp next to the corpses of your enemy. For one thing it stunk and for another this was the first place the enemy would be. They should have been mobilizing, heading anywhere.

Noticing the scouts approach, he followed behind. After such a battle, the scout would find the leader and with the leader would be the traitor.

But alas, Larit heard the words that made his blood cool. The traitor wasn't a traitor at all! He was just some mercenary, a failed one at that. From looking at him, he was impressive enough, enough to earn a few more coins, but still he and his band probably would have made quick work out of him.

"Screw your plans," he called out as he approached, keeping his hands well away from his daggers. "You have to get you and yours moving. Let your men stand move around too much and they'll slow you down." He pointed towards the north-west. "There's a valley not too far that way, in 'tween some defensible hills. Not more then a few hours walk and you can make your plans there. Me and mine used it many times. Not the best spot but it'll be the best you find in these parts."

For some reason he felt better for speaking up, though he couldn't have said why. He could have just left and taken the valley for himself. It was steep enough that he could have had warning of anyone's approach and he and his band had already cut some logs for palisades that could put on the valley wall. Oh well, there were other places he could go, places that one could hide better anyways.

"Have a few extra arrows? I've spent mine and there's still lives owing."
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Seska Dragonslayer » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:06 pm

The walls crumbled. She had known they would, of course. She knew what they faced, and she knew her own part in the grand scheme of things. if nothing else, the prophetic dreaming had told her she would live, and at least some scrap of what was would remain. But it saddened her to her heart that the world would change beyond recognition, that her people would fade, to resurface later in a different manner. And the great Empire would be no more, shattered beyond remaking, torn asunder by this eternal war.

behind the scenes, a dark god or goddess moved its pieces on the world, twitched the strings of its chosen puppets, and the world shook with a different kind of battle. But. Things had not progressed so far yet. Not so far yet.

She walked the streets of Kantorin, pale grey robes covering her slight form. She moved with some difficulty these days - and was thankful for even that. The...curse...worked its way on her, as it had on all those found opposing the Great Lord. She would die, one day. But not now. For now, the seals she had created within herself bound away the plague, holding it in stasis. And while the greater part of her strength remained locked away battling the contagion afflicting her, she lived. And thus, she was able to affect the world.

As she glided quickly down the nearly deserted streets of the great capitol, she reflected. Others of her people had been driven to madness by the contagion. Even now, they slaughtered and destroyed indiscriminately in their madness, tearing cities to shreds and flaying the flesh of armies sent to quell them. others simply wasted, and died, afflicted with maladies of the flesh that neither the Art nor more mundane methods could touch. Wasted, died. Died in their thousands. In all likelihood, in their millions, as the disease spread unchecked, unnatural as it was. She glanced at the elegant buildings of Kantorin, created by the finest masons and architects of the age, built to endure centuries. Many had stood for a hundred years or more, since before the seat of power had come to rest here in these northern lands. High towers and spires dotted the more mundane buildings, shops and inns and homes for the wealthy and powerful all jumbled together along paved streets that were rarely so empty as now.

The merchants were gone, and the cowardly of the nobility had taken their retainers and fled to more comfortable residences away from the city long before the army that shattered the walls and poured through the gaping rents even now, had made their way across the great plains.

her destination was the great central fortress and palace of the Empire, at the hear of Kantorin. The massive building could swallow dozens of blocks of the city surrounding it, and the high walls were impenetrable. Would be impenetrable - she glanced rearward, eyes the color of polished amethyst gleaming in the light of dusk, silver hair flipping about fitfully in the errant breeze that stirred through the empty streets. Behind her, the screams grew, and the terrible sounds of sorcery unfamiliar to her and most of the world. That dark power thumped in the back of her mind, sensed from this distance, alien, unnatural. Corrupt and evil.

A great thunderous roar ripped the air, and she spun to look back the way she came. Masonry flew, shedding dust as it arced throuh the sky. Somewhere far behind, building groaned, and caved as the ground buckled beneath that obscene power. A terrifying cheer rose, thousands raising their voice in exultation at once, and the scrfeams resumed. Men fought. Men died.

There were always more men, the Sidhe thought to herself. Always more, and the Elder races ever receded, became less numerous.

Became less.

Shivering despite the fading heat of the day, she passed beneath the great arched gates of the Palace. The activity here was frantic, but her grey cloak with its hood drawn up, and the accustomed staff in her hands marked out who she was as clearly as a flashing sign would have. None molested her, or barred her way. before she was halfway across the courtyard, she could hear the creak of iron gates, massive and sheathed in iron, grate in their holdings, hinges unused to movement squealing as the heavy gates slowly slammed home. Such a show of might, and all for naught. The Sidhe did not disabuse them of their false hope. She didn't care to - even if she had said anything, nothing would change.

Blood and death, fire and destruction, these swirled in her head. The images were fresh, even if confused and blended together, but she could pick the meaning of the dream clearly enough.

Pikes and swordsman poured from the garrison housing as she walked up the carved stone steps, and entered the great foyer of the Palace. She marveled at the utilitarian touches of the great place, that seemed to convey a grandiosity so much out of place with the simplistic lines and forms. Every feature was elegant, and yet still served the purpose of war. The Empire had been founded by war, lived off of it and the subjugation and quelling of rebellion across its vast width and breadth. The elegance would easily rival the more sophisticated cultures across the world, even simple as it was.

Shattered, thrown down, dust. She followed the footsteps of prophecy, each foot fall as precies as a piece in a puzzle, each inevitably leading towards necessity and sorrow. She paid no mind to the frantic servants and Lords and Ladies of the court, any more than she paid the armed men who rushed about, shoring defenses, preparing to repel the invader.

Perhaps a few noticed, as she walked solemnly through halls full of anxious men and women, that her placid mask was marred by the tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. They might have thought many things, even asked what troubled her so, but she brushed by, heading deeper into the heart of the heart.

Outside, the sounds of fighting descended on the walls, another piece falling into place, as seen, and unwanted for all of it.
Ozan: You'd have to be Aey levels of stubborn to recover from that kind of blow to your pride and continue fighting.
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Topheh » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:24 pm

Imrilsam grinned a feral grin, then caught himself and brought it back into control.

"This won't be the first time I've fought side by side with others, My- Err... Commander. You don't need to worry about me. Just put me where the fighting is heaviest and I'll be more than satisfied."

This woman before him was confusing. She spoke at once dispassionatly, claiming these lands to be not her own, and that she was merely in the service of this Lord Jherrad, but she was not the only person who could recognize the look of someone with vengeance on the mind, and her own eyes shone it with a light brighter than any he had ever seen.

Something drove this woman, something deep and primal... and something that Imrilsam was likely to not find out soon, if ever... given his new status as soldier. He opened his mouth to thank her for allowing his service when the newcomer appeared, sauntering up and trying to bend people to his own will. Imrilsam decided immediately that he did not like this man.

"Thats a singularly stupid idea." Imrilsam snapped, still facing the woman before him. "Commander, when I was their captive, I didn't just spend my time dawdling. As we were destined for the cookpot, they were... unconcerned... about speaking in front of me. That valley he speaks of is a trap. Those hills were taken yesterday by two groups of orcs, who are hiding and hoping that someone tries to set up camp in the valley in between."
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Re: Out of the darkness and into the Light... {open}

Postby Aeyliea » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:32 pm

Her face went cold as stone at the advance of the other stranger, one whom had not been reported to her. His seeming swagger and cool arrogance chafed in ways she did not particularly understand. She merely looked at the man, as cold as the winter wind that blew in from the north. A scattered few flakes of wet snow flickered in the dim light that reached through the racing clouds. The tang of snow and ice was on the air, now, and every breath came with a puff of mist.

"I am glad you think so," she replied to him drily. "It would appear you and yours have done well with you at their head. Where might they be, I wonder?" Cold, but with a touch of heat. She began to stalk toward the fires waiting from below. "Perhaps if you had spent a little time planning and at least trying to be prepared, you'd have brought more than just yourself to this cause. I am led to assume that those are the lives still owing?"

She paused as another rider rode uphill in the dark, a man bearing no armor. One of the forward scouts. "Lady Aeyliea, I bring reports." His voice was formal and stiff, and he leaned down from his saddle to press a much creased and stained piece of paper into her hands. She glanced at the runes - hiding her frustration at the obscure glyphs and runes that covered it. Not the same land. Not the same time.

"Speak what you have seen," she replied, tucking the paper into her leather armor, between her breasts. The man saluted, hand to chest, and recited the recon as it stood. She tsked to herself irritably. A group to the north of them, now, and likely the ones Emrilsam had mentioned in passing to the arrogant young fool. If that had been all of it, though...

The forces to the south had dispersed into smaller groups, and all were now heading towards the town at the best speed possible for this night. Their abandoned camps had been found, and the forward scouts had tracked them to within sight, heading south as fast as they could go. Aeyliea did not know what to make of that, but she had her suspicions. Perhaps the young officer had managed to create more of a stir than she herself had, for all that she had let some of those creatures escape to spread their tales. They should have forced some reaction from whoever commanded the invaders. They had not. Nothing but silence had come from the south all that day, save from her own scouts which had shown the enemy positions milling about if not with uncertainty, then without any real sense of direction. All changed, now.

"You wish to hear a real plan? One that doesn't get everyone killed?" She did not wait for a response from either of them. "We cannot even stay here long enough to lick our wounds. I would never have even considered boxing us into a valley, defensible or not, unless it was a box-ended canyon where the only way in or out was through one opening. We are too few to defend a valley of any kind properly, for to be in that valley would mean giving the high ground to our enemy. Thus."

She snagged a soldier as he passed by, his arm bandaged from a wound taking in pressing shields. "Fetch my horse, and rouse the camp."

Turning back to the other two, she sniffed disapprovingly. "The original plan was to press forward and drive one of the two groups ahead of us to the winds. They would have been evenly matched with us, but I have watched these men fight, and their mettle is as tempered steel. Now, however, we must give chase. try to prevent those forces from joining the ones surrounding the city."

"Excuse me, miss?" She trailed off, and spun to face the new arrival, another man on horseback, unarmored and wearing black. Not one of her own scouts. "I have a message from-"

"What is it?" She snapped, and immediately colored in embarresment. No need to snap at the man just because she was irritated about other things. "What word do you bring?"

"Only this, Lady: they have begun their assault on the walls, and not but thirty or forty minutes gone." She took in the man on his horse now, and frowned. The animal was nearly blown, and despite the chill in the air, its flanks steamed. The white lather on its course hair spoke of the long journey, and hard, that had just been made.

She was silent a moment, then nodded. "Return, and tell my fine young officer that we come. We come." She turned away, dismissing the messenger, then bellowed at the top of her lungs. "Roust and up swords! Break this damn camp now, we are moving." She heard the other officers amongst the men repeating her instructions - nominally, she would never have given the command to all of them of her own mouth; that was reserved for sergeants and corporals - and nodded to herself. She turned to the other two in attendance, and smiled beatifically. "I hope you aren't tired. The night is long, and far from over." her horse led to her, she gripped the saddle and swung herself easily into it, longsword gleaming on her back in the faint light as the snow started to fall more than a few flakes at a time.
Now nimble fingers, that dance on numbers / Will eat your children and steal your thunder;
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.

Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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