A quiet silence, broken only by the pitter-patter of raindrops, fell over the narrow trail once more. All around Neri lay corpses and shattered remains but thankfully none belonged to her companions. A few had been hurt, but, as the paladin of Oriana turned to check their wounds, she saw the comforting sight of Shianna reciting a spell of healing.
“Thank Oriana you’re all safe…and Kith’Jora too,” Neri uttered, laying a grateful hand on Shianna’s shoulder. She waited patiently for her spell-casting to continue, before quietly adding the Scarlet Lover’s kiss to any that were still in need.
[If any of the three who were wounded still need healing after Shianna’s spells, Neri will top it off with some or all of her lay on hands. It’ll come in the form of a kiss - and not a chaste one either ]
Neri turned her face to the heavens, allowing the rain to wash her armour and sword clean of the zombie ichor that still stained it. It was only when Shianna voiced her concerns about the need for rest and where they should head next, that the beautiful paladin lowered her glance.
“I think fate led us on this path for a reason. To turn away would be to condemn every villager to death…or worse. If there’s any chance that they are in danger, that some may still live if they were overrun, then we have a duty to help them.”
“If you need to rest,” she added after a moment’s thought, “it may be better to do so here. I doubt any village would allow strangers to enter at night with these monsters on the prowl.”
Syana dropped to her knees clutching at her bleeding side once all the dead had stopped moving. Her sword, splashed with the already congealed dark blood, fell from her fingers onto the damp ground. The pain from her wound came now, washing over her body like a cold bath. Pulling her hands away from her side she looked at the pale fingers covered with bright red blood, her mouth pulled into a small ‘o’ but no noise came out. Just as the blood had drained from her face leaving her pallid, Shianna was beside her.
She watched with hopeful eyes as Shianna tried to gain the favor of her God in order to heal her. As the bright light was pushed toward her she could feel the warmth of it take the pain. A soft sigh escaped from her as she settled back on her heels in the mud, the color rushed back into her face. The pain was still present, but it was bearable now.
Before Shianna had a chance to rise and help others she reached over and grasped her hand, giving it a small squeeze she offered a soft smile in thanks.
When she moved on Syana pulled a handkerchief out of a pocket in her skirt and attempted to clean the blood off herself, both hers in bright red, and the carrions in sticky black. While she did this she listened to what the others had to say about their situation. She needed rest, and Shianna was right, no village would be likely to let them in this night. The idea of resting here, though, with the slain creatures in such close proximity was disturbing. However, she did need the rest, it would be dangerous to continue to try and move in this fog, and the thought of walking some distance with her wound so fresh did not sound pleasant either.
So when Neri suggested they rest here for the night Syana nodded slightly in agreement and mimed sleep by closing her eyes, cocking her head and putting her hands under her cheek. However, despite her opinion she would do what the group decided, and not complain, which by now her fellow companions expected nothing less from her.
Thus once her opinion was stated she went back to scrubbing at the stains on her person, dismayed that without soap and water there would be no way to get them out, and even with those there would still be some discoloration to her clothing.
Would that Isaac had the foresight of Falloes, Patron of the Needy! Not very long after his changed decision to stay and fight with the others, Shianna's successful routing of a large number of the foul creatures that had beset the companions had turned the outcome of the battle from grim to successful.
But nearly all of them had injuries, some severe. Isaac himself had a nasty wound on his own chest, clavicle to ribs, that pained him severely. Volkmar was likewise wounded, but his alertness and energy seemed not to falter because of it. Either he was immune to all but the pain of mortal wounds, or he was one stone-faced khord! Isaac was of the opinion that it was the latter of the two assessments. With Volkmar, he stood guard while Shianna performed healing on Syana, Neri, and himself. After his own receipt of Shianna's healing blessing, he still had pain and stiffness, but it was at least more bearable. He watched as the black-clad khord accepted the healiing touch of Shianna as well, but Volkmar's face showed what seemed to Isaac to be reluctance.
He was about to reply to Shianna's query about which direction to travel in, when Neri answered first. As Isaac turned to listen to her thoughts, he was startled when Neri reached up and pulled his head down to her own. She then further bewildered him with a kiss on the mouth that was, as far as Isaac was concerned, was unearned gratitude from the paladin. Wide-eyed surprise made him drop his sword to the soaked earth. Then he felt the healing warmth of the kiss spread from his jaw downward through his body to alleviate even more of the pain and irritation of his wound. Okay, so it wasn't gratitude. But it was still nice ...
Once released from the grip of Neri's hands, he shook his head, thinking, 'Oh, for the sake of the heavens! She is doing what she thinks is her duty. As she ever does. No more to it than that.' But he could not, for the life of himself, keep a smile from tugging at the corners if the mouth that had just been so "abused".
He took a deep breath as he bent to retrieve his dropped blade, more to compose himself than because he needed it. Then he said, "I agree that moving on in our condition is not wise, for many reasons. but camping in the sight and smell of such as this offal we have just dispatched is not desirable option, either. As far as the village I once thought was there, I am no longer certain we are where I thought we were. But turning back to whence we came is not what I am wont to do at this point. Move on we should, but only when there is light enough to see at least some distance ahead of us. So methinks we should move at least a bit further and huddle in misery until the morn."
(( 00c: if there is a tree within walking distance with enough clearance under its branches for them to settle in, he will indicate moving there ... ))
Posted on 2008-11-25 at 20:54:35.
Edited on 2008-11-25 at 20:56:32 by Kilmorrigan
t_catt11 Fun is Mandatory RDI Staff Karma: 346/54 6042 Posts
Aryan made it abundantly clear that she was ameniable to whatever Isaac felt was best, and since no one else voiced any objections, the party followed the young warrior's lead. The group pressed on, with the dual intentions of finding at least some sort of meager shelter, while placing at least some distance between themselves and the grisly remnants of their battle against the undead.
For the first time in many seeming hours, Shinara smiled upon the group. After following a bend in the road, the forest began to thin considerably, and the road began to slope gently downward. Upon further inspection, scattered lights became apparent - the valley containing the village of Filwood lay ahead.
If Isaac's memory served correctly, the valley itself was mostly unforested, though woods lay on both sides. Of course, the dying light and damnable mist made positive identification of such features impossible. The mist, if anything, lay heavier in the valley ahead (though Shianna understood that such was the natural way of things - nothing felt suspicious about that aspect).
Aryan chose that moment to pipe up. "I don't know about the rest of you," she spoke, "but I'd rather get out of the rain and sleep somewhere dry that spend the night under a tree here, worrying about what monsters might grab me in the middle of the night."
" ... I'd rather get out of the rain and sleep somewhere dry ... "
Aryan's lament was not unexpected, nor was she alone in feeling that way. But the statement carried a hint of annoyance that engendered the same feeling in Isaac when he heard it. The annoyance Isaac felt was not that which Aryan felt, nor was it for the same reason or reasons. He glanced in her direction and shook his head.
"I would rather not spend the night in hot and humid discomfort either, Aryan. But what is to guarantee an uneventful jurney from here to the lights of -- whatever that is down there? Part of what we have experienced should not have come about on the road that I know so well. This leads me to believe that we are not where I thought we were. And since we are not where I thought we were, and I don't know how we came to be where we are, I won't -- cant -- guarantee safety in the vicinity of those lights, for I know not the place."
"The vermin that came at us back there came from both where we had come from and where we were going. But we didn't pass any of them as we traveled. At least, not any that we saw. If we travel further in our current condition, we risk encoutering more of them, with ourselves only more tired than we are now."
"But," here Isaac grins in an attempt to take the sting out of his words, "if we go on to what seems to be the village of my youth, we may indeed find safe -- and dry -- shelter. I won't gainsay you that. At this point, I believe that the only sure safety we have is what we make for ourselves, whereever we are, and however uncomfortable it may be. And I'm hoping our situation will only be temporary and the light of a safe day will shine upon us soon."
"What I'm saying is this: As much as I would like to see my home, and as soon as possible, I'm for staying here until daylight, then going into the village below. But I am no dictator. My opinion has been voiced. Anyone else have any ideas?"
Posted on 2008-12-05 at 00:38:13.
Edited on 2008-12-05 at 00:55:21 by Kilmorrigan
t_catt11 Fun is Mandatory RDI Staff Karma: 346/54 6042 Posts
not so fast
Aryan placed her hand on her hip and fixed Isaac with a look. "Are you serious? Rain or no rain, we know there are zombies out here! We didn't kill all of the ones that we fought - so those are at least still around. I'm betting that there are more where these came from... who ever heard of zombies walking down a road for no reason?"
The little mage shook her head in annoyance. "You're right. There might be more trouble in the village down there. But we know that there is trouble out here. So why be uncomfortable and unsafe?"
Aryan huffed out her breath. "No, I saw we go find real shelter."
As they had walked Syana had fallen slightly behind, not to the point that she was alone, especially after what had just happened, but enough that she came upon the vision of the lights after several others had already spotted them.
The lights stopped her steps. Her silhouette made quite the image. A silent shape shrouded in darkness, mist swirling up from the hem of her skirt and reaching with delicate fingers toward the clasp on her cloak. Despite the warmth of the night she shivered slightly and had pulled the cloak tightly around her with one hand, while the other rested over the tear in her bodice where the dead had tried to make her their own. Slate colored eyes kept moving, looking for the slightest movement in the coils of mist. The half circle charms around her neck lay atop her cloak, letting off an almost unearthly white glow.
Ahead the lights seemed to offer her solace. Food, shelter, other people and most importantly water. She desperately wanted to rid herself of the sticky dark blood that clung to her clothes, her hair, and buried itself under her fingernails. But it was the people that concerned her. The creatures they had met on the road came from somewhere. Perhaps they had come from the village below, perhaps the whole village was seething with more of them, or perhaps the village had battled them off and now stood ready to attack anything that came near – alive or not. There were so many reasons that going forward to it was a gamble.
She listened as Isaac expressed her thoughts on that issue. In some ways he reminded her of Tharin, her oldest brother, but that was mainly due to his ability to take on a position of leadership, that and his warming smile.
Then, in typical fashion, Aryan spoke up with her own, opposing, thoughts. If Isaac reminded her of Tharin, Aryan reminded her of Jedain, her sister, which was not nearly as favorable a comparison. Beautiful and hot tempered, Jedain did not get along well with Syana typically. But occasionally they could agree, and in this moment Aryan also made good points.
While the village was a gamble, the hillside where they had been attacked not long ago seemed to be a certainty. Those slate eyes moved back and forth between Aryan and Isaac a moment and then she took a deep breath and stepped forward, putting herself into the group more.
She did not like speaking to the whole group, even in signs, so she brought her eyes to Isaacs, and when he made eye contact with she began to make her thoughts clear. She pulled her hands out from her cloak and pointed a finger at him. Quickly moving on she put out one hand with the palm up and walked two of her fingers over the palm slowly. Next she brought a hand up to rest on her brow over her eyes as if sheltering the sun from her eyes. Finally she pointed down toward the lights, then at the ground where the group stood.
For a second she made eye contact with him again, then dropped her eyes to the ground, pulled her hands into her cloak and took a small step back from him and waited to see what the group would do.
Shianna stands by quietly, watching the others converse. One should see all sides of the situation before coming to a conclusion, and so Shianna observes. At first glance, Shianna feels that Isaac, with his careful considerations, has the best view. Aryan, seemingly rash as ever, causes Shianna to nearly lash out vocally. Thankfully, Shianna keeps her resolve and stays silent, but it still grates on her nerves how this person, studying magic with ritual and practise, seems to hold little patience. Perhaps it is simply that all her patience is spent learning her magic, or perhaps it is because of something else. In any event, Shianna still can't help but think Where's your guarantee that we won't be unsafe and uncomfortable in the town then? You assume so much...
Soon after her thought, a bit of movement catches Shianna's eye. Shianna smiles at Syana's own, nonverbal, suggestion. It made a lot of sense, perhaps it wouldn't be fast enough for the rash Aryan, but it would serve well to provide a warning. Yet, it too held its own difficulty. Shianna casts a quick glance to Meera, tilting her head in question, before motioning toward Syana. Softly, Meera whines, and shakes her head.
"It's a good idea, Syana." Shianna finally says, "But if Issac were to scout, the mist would probably prove to be a fair hindrance; it is more dense down in the valley. That means that he'd have to get close enough to the town to see, which in turn would be close enough for others to see him, and whether that would be beneficial or harmful is still in question. Perhaps it'd be better if Meera and I went; we could probably stay hidden more easily, and she'd be able to lend her nose in 'seeing' if the town is inhabited by people or corpses."
Posted on 2008-12-05 at 23:04:15.
Edited on 2008-12-05 at 23:05:16 by Reralae
Syana's pantomime of her suggested action caught Isaac's interest and his attention, but not his understanding. "Go to the edge of the valley and look to see if it is safe in the village? With this mist hanging over everything? I'd have to go down into the village proper to see anything at all ----"
Isaac covers his face with his hands, coming to a brightening realization just as Shianna voices her approval of Syana's suggestion that Isaac scout the village and report back to the group. With a muffled voice from under the hands, he moans, "Well mark me for the village idiot!"
Uncovering his face and smiling in embarrassment, he continues, "Sorry Syana. Sometimes I can be as dense as this mist that blocks our sight. I agree that your plan is a good one. And Shianna, I think you and Meera would do more good here defending the others. If the village below is the Filwood that I know, I will know where and how to go. To you, all the buildings would be unkowns and therefore suspect. If it is not Filwood, then we would be no worse off than we are now. I would rather risk only one of us than two or more."
He muses as he pulls out his self-lighting pipe and a fold of leather consaining some tobacco from his belt pouch. Quickly, to keep the moisture of the mist from permeating the tobacco, he pulls a pinch of it and closed the leather packet. Loading the pipe, he then taps the bottom of the bowl on his sword hilt until the tobacco begins to smoulder. He puts the pipe into the corner of his mouth and smiles crookedly, then speaks out of the other side of his mouth, the first word appearing with a puff of sweet-smelling smoke.
"I won't necessarily have to be assassin-quiet as I approach the town, but I won't go in bellowing announcement of our arrival either. Nor will I return calling out to you, even if it is safe, for the path between here and there may not be. Only if there is danger in the village will you hear my voice, so be listening for me until you see me."
He takes a few more puffs from the pipe, then pulls it out of his mouth to grin broadly, genuine mirth wrinkling the corners of his eyes. "And if I get killed down there, I will never speak to the lot of you again -- ever." He chuckles as he turns and strides the path toward the dim lights below ...
Posted on 2008-12-06 at 00:02:08.
Edited on 2008-12-06 at 01:16:19 by Kilmorrigan
The kiss only lasted for a moment. Neri’s lips brushed over Isaac’s, and imparted her Goddess’ blessing to him. But the armoured man’s reaction sent a wave of mirth over the paladin’s features. Isaac’s eyes widened, his sword slipped from his grasp, and his knees wobbled, almost as if he had been hit by a haymaker rather than by her lips.
‘Goddess,’ Neri thought as she stifled her laugh in case it wounded the man’s pride. ‘Just imagine what he’d have done if I had done something more…’
[A little late:]
The flickering lights of the village suddenly came into view, and was the signal it seemed for the small band of would-be heroes to start bickering over what they would do next. Neri’s eyes were drawn to the soft play of the lights visible through the mist, that shimmered and danced like the wisps she had once seen, while the others spoke their minds.
“Wait a moment,” the paladin chimed in after Isaac agreed to scout the village to see if it were unharmed. “I don’t think creatures like those we fought are much for lighting fires, and I don’t think an exposed fire would last long in this rain. I wonder if the villagers know of the dangers that are prowling this night?”
“Well I suppose it doesn’t matter much,” Neri continued in the musical lilt her Drannese accent gave her speech. “But, Isaac, if you’re going to go alone, take Serafino, at least that way you’ll be able to quickly escape any danger.”
Neri handed Isaac the reins to the beautiful, dapple gray stallion she had been leading through the muddy trail.
Once she stepped back she waited to see what the others would say about her suggestion. In the dim light it was hard, but not impossible to see a small smile touch her lips as the group caught on and seemed to support the idea.
Then when Isaac spoke of being as dense as the mist her checks flushed pink and she ducked her head even lower.
Despite the blush and the small smile she said nothing and did not move to make a sign to enlighten the rest of the group to her thoughts. Instead she waited until Isaac had started to move away from them and into the swirling mist. With his back to her she crouched down on the ground, resting only on her feet with her skirt pooled around her, and watched him until he disappeared from sight. Once gone she keeps her eyes moving, looking between the spot he disappeared from, the distant lights, and the surrounding woods.
Her lips move in silence again, one hand rests on her sword, the other on her pendant, and she shivers now and then.
If one could read lips: The snow fell heavily so when he opened the door it flew in the home and settled upon the carpeted floor. His snow caked figure stood large and looming at the threshold of his own home, the cold dagger still held firmly in his grip. Inside a delicate woman cradling a babe in her arms looked up, the soft yellow light from the fireplace playing over her features. Seeing her husband she smiled, but it faltered when she noticed the dagger. Her mouth opened as if to speak, but the words would be stopped by a scream, as the snow on the floor turned red and melted with the heat of blood…
If Isaac calls for help she will rise, unsheathe her sword and go toward where his voice came from. If he returns silent and safe she will again rise and wait to see what he has to report before making any other actions.
Posted on 2008-12-08 at 17:45:12.
t_catt11 Fun is Mandatory RDI Staff Karma: 346/54 6042 Posts
Isaac accepted the offer of the paladin's horse with a thankful nod. While mounted combat was not something the peasant-turned-adventurer had much experience with, he fully understood the value of the horse's speed, should he need to make an escape. Of course, riding horseback did nothing to improve his chances of moving undetected...
The mist hung thick and heavy, and the remainder of the party disappeared much quicker than the young warrior wold have believed possible. Soon, he was alone in a sea of sticky mist, and despite his best efforts, Issac felt himself tense more than once as shadows seemed to dance at the periphery of his vision, yet disappeared when viewed directly. From time to time, odd sounds could be heard filtering through the gathering darkness, but again, nothing made itself seen.
It seemed to take an achingly long time to ride down the slope toward the dim lights that he hoped represented Filwood. More than once, Isaac checked to make sure that his sword was loose, and ready for an easy draw.
Despite his attentiveness, the young warrior almost rode the dapple gray right into the side of a building - only the horse's own instincts prevented the crash. sheepishly, he reigned the mount to the left and into the packed earth that represented a street.
For the time being, it seemed that the mist was a bit thinner - Isaac could make out several buildings, despite the fact that darkness had almost completely fallen. The village was quiet, and the only person that he saw scurried into a building without raising a greeting. However, there were lanterns and such lit in most buildings, though all windows were shuttered against the weather.
After another few moments, Issac came across a battered wooden sign painted with the images of a gray fish and a green duck - the Fin and Feather tavern. This was Filwood, without a doubt.
Volkmar Vanara's mind was as clouded with thoughts as the heavy mist that enshrouded the party in the oncoming gloom of approaching darkness.
... I should have been more help than hindrance ... afterall ... I am a decorated Spiderguard ... but my performance was as dismal as these mists ... my failure to repel the attack of the Shamblers from the outset could have cost us our lives ... must pull my own weight in any future encounters ... but I at least have the satisfaction of knowing the last Shambler fell by the point of my spear ...
The disgruntled Khord huddles towards the back of the group, staying alert for any possible danger that may come stalking from the direction of their last battle, brooding with his tortured thoughts as he awaits the fate of the young adventurer Isaac, while his companions do the same in their own manner of keeping watch over one another.
Shianna sits off to the side of the group, leaning against a lonely tree, her eyes distant as she scratches behind Meera's ears. She lets herself feel the mist settling upon her mostly still form. To ones who are used to the luxuries of the city, it would indeed be uncomfortable, but, in a way, Shianna is partially used to it. She has seen and been in worse weather, living in the wilderness.
How long has it been, since I've been indoors? Shianna wonders nostalgically, Or even in a city or town?
"Do you remember how long ago it was?" Shianna murmurs softly to her companion.
Meera says nothing, simply opening her eyes and looking at Shianna, who smiles in return. It is astounding how much can be portrayed through the eyes alone if one knows how to speak and listen through the eyes.
"You're right... it really doesn't matter now." Shianna replies softly, her eyes showing a bit of sadness around their edges, "Still, I wish things didn't end the way they did."
Meera whines softly, nudging Shianna's hand comfortingly.
"I know; things would've probably ended up that way given time too, but that doesn't matter now." Shianna replies, the sorrow around her eyes fading. How unlike me, to reminisce that distant past. In spite of the mist surrounding her, Shianna's eyes shine with resolution, The wild is my home.
With a look toward Meera, Shianna adds, Our home.
Posted on 2008-12-11 at 06:15:19.
Edited on 2008-12-11 at 06:17:03 by Reralae
As Isaac shifts his weight to compensate for the horse's change in direction to avoid butting into the building. He grinned an embarrassed grin and shook his head slightly, thinking, Yah, right. If I brought this animal back with any sort of injury, Neri would have questions. If the injury were because of another bout of inattention or stupidity, I'd be hard-pressed to answer those questions without embarrassment. I swear, sometimes I can be as know-everything-stupid as a first-day squire-in-training.
But the shingle he finally glimpsed was recognized and did confirm that the town was, indeed, Filwood. Not the friendly, open Filwood of his youth, though. The one poor soul that Isacc saw outside a building went into that building in a hurry once he had seen Isaac. Well, now. It is night. And things were out and about that should not be. But are they here?
Isaac quietly rode the familiar streets of the town for a few minutes more to see if he could catch sight of any like what he and his companions had dispatched. Then he reined the horse back the way he had come, toward the rest of the party. He leaned forward in the saddle as he returned, turning his head constantly to watch his and the animal's path as well as to detect anything approaching them as bes he could. He was now reasonably comfortable that they could find shelter at the Inn here, even if it didn't seem --for now -- that they would be welcomed with open arms and a laughing smile.
But they could get here soon enough to satisfy Aryan's need for her "kitten comforts", the safety of an enclosed building and the dry warmth of a fire. Would that he could keep them from getting any wetter as they traveled here, he would do so. As if they could get any wetter. He smiled a crooked smile as he rode. As he apoproaches where he thinks that party is waiting, he begins to sing softly, a repetitive song, slightly off-key, so they can hear his voice ...