As discussion passed between the parties and the brutal brightness of the sunlight aged golden, the weary group of six finally, some eagerly and some begrudgingly, agreed to join the strange man and his wolf. For the first time the sixty yard gap was closed and the six strangers flung together by the hands of fate met Joseph David Gabriel Feroz face to face.
The lone nomad was as mysterious up close as he was from afar. His eyes could be now seen for their depth, the years of age and experience whispering magical tales across the irises. And yet, up close his face could also be seen for its startling youth. He was just a man, and though perhaps he had gleaned some wisdom from years of travel, the mask of experience could not disguise his youth. He bore some lines etched in the corners of eyes, the bridge of his nose, but he seemed still untouched by time largely.
His fair skin had reluctantly tanned and though he was clearly no foreigner to the beatings of sunshine, he was still surprisingly pale, a sharp contrast to the black stubble that crawled across his skull and the gnarled roots of his thick beard that hung ear to ear, about his mouth. He stood out, yes, but he was not necessarily handsome, at moments he could appear beguilingly attractive, and at other moments he could appear frightening with his fierce features both royal and wild, aloof and untouchable.
The party finally drew close, gathered around the man and his wolf. He looked over each of them slowly, taking what he could in from their appearances. The dwarves had remained silent Joseph noted, and yet this was customary to their legacies. The one who was clad in similar armour to Rose seemed bitterly unhappy to find himself amongst his newest comrades, another common dwarven trait.
The Mith’Ganni, another commonly quiet race, on the other hand defied his nature, appealing to the young redheaded girl frequently. Strange, Joseph noted, but perhaps it was a silly attraction that entrances so many people unprepared to deal with their emotions. He may have not seen a human woman before and was taken in by the youth and innocence of this girl. Certainly, she did not have the formidable independence of the other redhead, who seemed as fiery as the stereotype.
“Follow me.” Joseph said finally, his voice now close enough to be heard for its clarity. For a man from the wild he seemed articulate, well-spoken with a rich baritone, that could slide quickly from kind and welcoming to cold and aloof. His intentions seemed both masked and completely open, though he was not one to lie he was hard to understand at times.
Joseph turned smoothly to face the woods. With Tristessa falling in step instantly he entered the gaping maw of the woods. Golden spears of light seemed to pierce through the brances shooting long mystical shadows across the forest floor to dance with the last hours of sunshine. Limbs and leaves reached out to glimpse their newest trespassers, staring at the mortals who were passing through their company.
Joseph seemed to walk surprisingly steadily, there was no root or catch, briar or bush that could snag him. Yet he had no need for watching his feet nor picking his way slowly, his speed was unhampered by any obstacle, he walked on at his normal stride, as through his darting, wandering way was a city street. His eyes seemed to drink in his surroundings thirstily and insatiably.
Finally he came, with Tristessa at his side and the party at his back to a small clearing. It contained barely enough room to accommodate the large party but Joseph seemed unaware walking into the small grassy bed contentedly and turning to face the group. The sun seemed to be racing towards the horizon rapidly as its golden rays had waxed orange in their short walk. The day was dying into evening.
“You have much to tell I’m sure. Do we have rations enough to last us this night or must we turn to the forest for our food this night. If we are searching our surroundings for supper we must do so soon as the light is fading.” Joseph explained to the party quickly. Though he was more content to hunt or gather than to dip into his small bag of left overs from previous days, he knew these weary travelers were tired and hungered both food and information. He swept out his arm, offering the grass as a picnic blanket to rest tired bodies upon. “My name is Joseph David Gabriel Feroz and this is Tristessa.” He rested his hand upon her neck as he said and she came closer, rubbing her nose up against his leg. “What shall we do?”
Posted on 2010-02-03 at 21:19:17.
Edited on 2010-02-03 at 21:22:52 by Dragonblood
When Eofara had mentioned something to Rose about the ‘three iron laws’ Thea had looked between them both, feeling awkward and rather inexperienced, not knowing what he was talking about. This feeling continued to eat into her core when Rose had finally spoken up. Her words were eloquent and diplomatic.
Thea stared as Rose stood so bravely before the man and his wolf, her armor glimmering in the last lights of day and could not help but feel a slight pang of jealousy. Against her image Thea felt she simply did not stand up. Rose was graceful, beautiful, confident, worldly and strong. Whereas Thea stood there with her childish freckles still speckling her nose in her white cloak while her fingers searched the pockets for a crumb of a biscuit out of a nervous habit. She wondered if anyone else could see how terrified and ill prepared she was. A quick glance around confirmed that they could and she blushed and lowered her eyes.
Those beautiful blue gems did not rise again until Eofara spoke to her.
“Thank you. Will you trust him and follow him into the woods?”
Gently she raised her eyes up to his and offered a slight smile to him, not understanding what he was thanking her for though. She had done nothing but look like an ignorant fool before the Wildman. Bobbing her head though she responded.
“Yes… if he meant us harm we would already be hurt. Besides, Mirros has not given me any sign that he should not be trusted. I did ask her…” she whispers it quietly as she starts to follow after the Wildman.
Ahead of her she noticed how deftly the Wildman moved through the woods. Not a twig snapped, not a branch caught him up, it was if he was simply part of the forest, a buck passing through its natural home. She betrayed none of this grace or comfort. Her own feet were used to soft slippers and dirt roads. No doubt she slowed Eofara down in her clumsy efforts to follow the Wildman. Once even catching her toes on an exposed root and falling back against him until his hands helped to right her, and his eyes gave her a slightly exasperated look. Feigning a smile she continued on, trying to be more careful.
Behind them she could hear the dwarfs, the one in particular was not pleased with things, she knew that and thus gave him a wide berth at all costs. Even when they entered the clearing and the Wildman gestured for them to sit, she found a spot far from the edgy dwarven man.
Introductions were being made as she tried to arrange her pale blue skirts and white cloak out on the grass in some way that would not get them too soiled. When the Wildman, Joseph David Gabriel Feroz (what a name!) gave his wolf a name she could not help but to raise a brow and then looked down quickly to try and conceal her surprise, not wanting to offend Joseph David Gabriel Feroz or his wolf (Tristessa).
Regaining herself she looked up. “I am Thealora Justinia, or Thea. I suppose we do have much to tell, but I think it might be best if Rose told it… I’d probably leave things out. Or…” she glanced at the dwarves, “or perhaps one of them would be better suited for the task, it is to one of their kinds works that we travel, I think…”
A blush traveled under her freckles and she gave up instead deciding that an inspection of her bag, and the biscuits and honey she had secreted in it, was probably a better use of her time.
Joseph awaited replies as he stood astride Tristessa. There seemed to be silence capturing the party for brief moments before, finally, the pretty, young girl, who seemed far out of her depth, took a position upon the grass. Though Joseph saw that nature was as yet a foreign world for the girl, he saw something else in her too. She had a valour within her, though it had no place with wilderness. She was wise, she saw some goodness within people and was obviously insightful enough to understand that Joseph meant no harm toward the group.
Joseph watched her take her seat, perhaps she was not comfortable in her new setting but she was at least making an effort to pluck up her courage. Though she seemed but five years younger than Joseph he felt that she was a child in this world. Of course, five years previous, when he ventured into the wild he felt a similar innocence and ignorance, despite being raised in travel.
As he introduced himself, he caught her shocked reaction to both his extended name and Tristessa’s name. Indeed, he himself had once found his four part name a mouthful but since his years in the unkempt areas of the world human labels for identity had faded and a yearning for a new oneness with the ways of the wild had grown. It had become so infrequent, so rare for him to grapple with the four words that were called his name in the years that had passed since his liberation.
He took her raised brow to be surprise in response to the burden of syllables that was his name and responded evenly, “I’m unused to being called anything but you may address me as Joseph or Joe, David or Dave, or Gabriel or Gabe.” His tone did not change, but was delivered with the same straight caliber. It was not her emotion of fear he was attempting to appease, nor a sense of humour he offered. He spoke as logic begged, she was already out of her element and a baggage of letters with which to address a stranger she was forced to trust would aid her nor her party none.
The girl offered up her name, Thealora Justinia. Thea went on to account for her inability to lead the discussion. She offered up other individuals as better conversationalists, more skilled to recount the tale that brought them to Joseph’s doorsteps. Indeed she had not the aroma of charisma but Joseph knew he himself was short on the feature and she seemed strong in sincerity, which was a trait he valued much higher. He could see any public speech invited embarrassment for her. Perhaps if the wild welcomed her she could shed such unnecessary emotions.
“If oration is not your gift Thea then leave it to others without shame. I am no speaker either. I am a hunter however. I will turn to these trees in search of sustenance and bring back what I can find. Spend the time until my return how you will.” Joseph turned his speech to the group after his simple words to the young girl who had planted herself upon the grass.
Posted on 2010-02-04 at 05:28:53.
Edited on 2010-02-04 at 07:58:52 by Dragonblood
Rose listened to Eofara’s mentioning of the three laws of the wild. And while it was true she was used to the fineries of nobility, she had been far from sheltered. Her studies to be a emissary and consort had taken her far, and her love for knowledge did not leave her cloistered or disillusioned to the world around her. Rose allowed the Mith’gani his preconceived notions, though she now mentally lumped him one category closer to the very close minded Agrin.. Suddenly an image of Eofara with a long soot filled beard entered her head and she smirked.
As Joseph led them through the forest, Rose couldn’t help but admire the grace of the man so at home in the natural beauty that was nature. She too loved the outdoors, the golden spears of light felt wonderful as they pierced the canopy to caress her cheek, the sounds and smells of wildlife and flora were all reasons to feel alive, despite their current predicament.
When they stopped in the clearing, and Joseph had introduced himself and Tristessa, Thea was the first to reply with giving her name in kind. Along with her introduction, Thea had offered another to better explain the situation to the Wildman, and Rose thought she might be able to simplify things a bit.
“What Thea, and Eofara earlier were trying to get at Joseph, is that each and every one of us, before last night had our own lives, our own problems, goals, ambitions, associates and priorities. That is until a common bond brought us together. No doubt even you would have caught wind of the Scarlet Feverflash, the plague that has swept through the countryside in recent times, killing many innocents. It is my belief that the church of Mallien, needs a scapegoat, they require faces to be put to blame for this tragedy, and while my heart tells me they do not truly have the culprit behind it known to apprehend, the masses cry for action, cry for blood, cry for vengeance, and the church, like a Sheppard to its flock is giving them what they want, by falsely accusing at least some innocents in the creation or distribution of this horrid disease.”
Anora let the weight of the matters hang in the air for a moment before continuing.
“We were approached, each with secrecy by a man who claimed a common threat, that he too would, by morning, be plastered amongst the city streets as a heretic of the church and traitor to the kingdom. He arranged a meeting for us all, and it was there that he brokered a deal. He stated that were we to venture here, to the ruins housed beneath the boughs of these great trees, we would find something he required, an amulet and in return, he would reveal more information that would bring us one step closer to uncovering the truth behind these allegations and lies that have sent us fleeing from, for some of us our very homes. It is in this instance that literally, ‘The truth will set us free.” and it is for that same reason that I disclose as such to you now.. And if Eofara’s laws holds true… then I bid you be honest with us as well.. Why were you waiting for us? “
Posted on 2010-02-05 at 18:09:52.
Edited on 2010-02-05 at 21:15:55 by Kaelyn
Volla 28th, 1021
Aur’Varsa Forest, Alcana
If the matters presented during the meeting with Erkand showed dispute between mindsets, it was here in Aur’Varsa that the differences between people became exceptionally evident – primarily between the Temple Knight of Liris and the wandering Mith’Ganni. While each bore wisdom pertaining to their own field, but neither could seem to adapt the two into one. Rather, they showed the cooperative capacity of oil and water in terms of both conduct and conscience.
Nevertheless, cooperation enough was made to follow Joseph into the trees. Branches and underbrush reached out like twisted fingers, groping for those beneath their boughs and coming to snag upon all but the strange Kirvass, who seemed to glide among the growth like a fish through a stream.
Some time passed amidst the elms and aspens before emerging into a small clearing, illuminated almost mystically by the fading rays of light penetrating the canopy of leaves and intertwined branches overhead. The soft mossy earth yielded carefully underfoot, presenting a soft carpet to the forest floor. Something in the undergrowth smelled wonderfully fresh and fragrant, though what exactly it was could not be identified.
Here is where they would camp for the night, and where the stranger and the travelers would come to know each other somewhat better, or at least share the commodity of a campfire and a hot meal tonight.
More proper introductions and declarations of intent were presented to Joseph, and his own in turn were handed out, along with his intent to hunt for their evening meal. As the sun was beginning to set, now was the ideal time to make the most of the remaining evening’s light. Leaving Tristessa to watch over the occupants of the clearing, Joseph disappeared into the trees like a ghost into fog.
Left once again in their traveling group of six as the druid vanished among the trees, though this time accompanied by the lupine companion of the Kirvass, sitting at the edge of the circle of trees, watching both them and what lay beyond. Anora set herself walking around the edge of the site, pacing almost aimlessly around the perimeter. The others set about their own actions, be it building a fire to cook their anticipated meal, or simply staking out their places in which to sleep.
The sunlight was rapidly decaying, so the flickering dance of firelight was quite welcome to illuminate their small clearing. Joseph was still absent, somewhere out in the maze of trees and roots. Soon enough, it would be dark out, and the fire would have to get them through till morning, whereupon it would be time to seek out Gurit’Marnairan from somewhere beneath this tranquil domain.
From around the area itself, a combination of Eofara’s wilderness knowledge and Thea’s herbal lore allowed them to yield a contribution to the meal in the form of some edible bark, young tubers, and fresh shoots. It wasn’t much, but anything helped when on the road. Kammie and the two dwarves remained largely silent, though for the earthen-folk, it seemed moreso out of intentional isolation than anything.
Surprisingly enough, it was not Eofara, or Anora, or even Tristessa to respond first, but the young, hair-trigger nerves of Thealora that caught the sound of the branch breaking and the rustling of undergrowth.
Stripping some bark away from the base of a developing Kamsha tree, a sharp sound on the other side of the cluster caught her attention, looking up, her eyes came upon the tightly muscled haunches of what seemed almost a cross between a man and a wild dog, standing at well over six feet tall. Dressed in rags, whipstitched with patches of tanned leather, the strange beast’s reddish-brown fur bristled with grime and filth. It was only through her moment of panic that sent her backpedaling away from it that saved her from the fierce axe blow that tore the ground apart right between her skittering feet. Bent over from the force behind the swing, the creature looked up and leered at the young priestess from beyond its feral muzzle, eyes black with hatred. Bones and bits of rope were twisted into its tangled mane, no doubt some mark of status to the creature – whatever it was!
Snarling, the creature barked, and all at once, the camp was in an uproar. Surging forth from the trees like some howling, barking tide, a half-dozen more of these bizarre creatures tore into the clearing, armed with an assortment of weapons that reflected quite clearly their purpose as a raiding party rather than an orderly group. Three minds among the team immediately recognized these beasts for what they were – slavering, howling gnolls.
Tristessa barked out a warning and lowered herself to defensively to the ground as one of the beasts leapt through the trees past Thea’s crouching form, mightily hurling a weighted throwing axe into the clearing. Eofara, in the midst of rising to his feet to face his detested enemies, was caught completely by surprise as the missile split the air with a whoop and clove into his left shoulder, sending him spinning to the ground in a mist of blood.
Anora, too, was caught off-guard on her patrol as she tried to bring forth her shield. Struggling to get the barrier over her arm, she lifted the heavy panel up with both hands to defend against the incoming iron head of a flail. Her assessment of the angle was off in her haste, and she merely succeeded in catching the chain. The weighted business end, however, continued its trajectory and wrapped around the shield, slamming a bone-jarring blow into her forearm.
Across the clearing, the two dwarves fared somewhat better. A trio of the beasts, saliva flying from snapping jaws, burst forth from the trees, blades swung powerfully at the stout duo. A sword stroke failed to cut through the heavy scales of Agrin’s armour as he shoved himself before Igni, while a second swing was halted short by a powerful deflection of the Krosan’s shield. Sneaking beneath his upraised arm, however, the ancient cleric felt his flank open up and ooze forth hot blood, the bearer of the rusted sword leaning forward to howl in the dwarf’s face.
Kammie, completely unused to anything beyond street brawls and alleyway duels, was handily overrun by a pair of the rushing gnolls, being shoved hard to the dirt by the crossed spear of her assailant, while its partner stepped over her and unleashed a bolas for Anora, though the weight-and-rope hunting weapon failed to find a mark upon the knight as it crashed into the trees beyond.
Whether trained in the gutters, the sparring yards, on in the travels of one’s own journeys, now was the time to prove their mettle as the party was onset by its first unified contest of arms. Now was the time to see just how well each could hold their ground against this feral ambush in the dying light of the eve.
Gliding through the trees, Joseph moved with surefootedness borne of a lifetime amongst the primal forces of the world. Through the dying light, his careful eyes sought out game to bring down for the evening meal, as well as anything from the bushes and trees that may supplement their sup.
Twice, he stopped his fluid movement, once to collect a small helping of blackberries, and again for some wild sour apples, small and tart. Stuffing these carefully into his pockets, he collected his tools and set out once more, visually grooming the shrubs and saplings amidst the towering sentinels of the forest.
Finally, after passing nearly forty minutes through the foliage, the light dimming to just a bare amber glow through the trees, his eyes settled upon a wild pig, snuffling its nose in a crop of wild mushrooms growing at the base of a rotten tree.
Fattened pleasantly, though filthy with grime tracked from all over, Joseph knew this beast would be a suitable choice for their dinner, and certainly enough to feed them all – including the dwarves, renowned for their high capacity for both food and drink. Smiling inwardly and thanking the wilds for the bounty, the druid took sight on the beast and slowed his breathing to focus. The gentle breeze through the streets, the snorting of the pig in the mushroom patch, and sound of its hooves grazing the dirt… So subtle, yet so complex, composing a symphony of the primal forces.
The moment of tranquility was shattered by a sharp set of barks he instantly recognized as Tristessa’s. The boar snapped its head up, darting off into a low cluster of shrubs in alarm. Losing the game was a small cost to Joseph, as this was exactly what he was afraid of. The campsite was in danger.
(OOC: Game-time folks! Seven gnolls (Recognizable only by Eofara, Igni, and Joseph) have ambushed the clearing, gaining a surprise round. They’ve come in from all sides, and are fighting as a loose team, seemingly more focused on the kill than anything.
Make your decisions as you post for up to two rounds of action. I’ll go with it from there, and assign you in your designated initiative spots during my next update.
Joseph can reach the group clearing, at a full run, in approximately two or three minutes (time away took so long due to careful stalking, searching, foraging, lapping, etc.)
Here we go…
Anora: 6/11 – Stunned shield arm.
Eofara: 6/12 – Prone but not threatened. Weapon (Choose) within reach. Injured shoulder.
Thea: 10/10 – Prone but not threatened.
Kammie: 5/8 – Prone
Weapons can be drawn and armed immediately.
New Flora term added!)
Posted on 2010-02-05 at 23:14:22.
Edited on 2010-02-06 at 22:21:07 by Tek
As time whispered by haltingly in the green clearing, the party stood about their newfound guide, Joseph Feroz and his companion, Tristessa. He turned his gaze steadily from Thea’s eyes to Rose’s the pretty, young leader of the party. She rose up her voice and proved herself, once again, a competent and well-spoken leader for the present pack. Though others vied for the position, most obviously the wilderness experienced Mith-Ganni, they had not the charismatic eloquence, nor the firm-willed fortitude.
Rose explained the story as best she could to Joseph, summarizing their experiences in the last twenty-four hours so the druid might understand them simply. He simply gazed into her eyes comprehendingly as she spoke. As she told the tale of the fever Joseph couldn’t help but feel relief for having escaped the ways of civilization. The sickness that plagued these people was not merely some physical malady, the illness ran deeper, it was a spiritual disease that ate away steadily at people’s hearts, people’s good hearts and filled them with a malice, an empty darkness that lead the natural goodness to terrible places.
Joseph was not shocked to hear that their lives had been twisted about by the awful hands of deceit. A life led in the city was a life chained to the cruel whims of dishonesty and selfishness. Joseph felt a twinge of irritation that the malevolence that had robbed these people of their safe security had also thrust them into his existence. He had struggled so hard to liberate himself of the city and now it had wormed its way back in. But he could not begrudge the hands of fate, he had control over his path and he had awaited these people, he had made the choice and blame was a weak emotion that would only sap Joseph’s fortitude.
Rose spoke of some laws previously uttered by Eofara, which Joseph could only assume was the Mith’Ganni, and appealed to Joseph’s honesty. Now, Joseph was ignorant of rigid rules but truth was indeed all that he could trust in. He was incapable of lying, he had neither the charismatic skill nor the ethical inclination towards it. He had indeed been asked to keep secrecy about his motivations but he had no idea how such deceit would aid their task at all.
Perhaps he would anger a man of great power, but Joseph could not help but hold true to himself. He had chosen his own path until now and he would not let some words whispered to him along his ways become the map for the rest of his journey, he would make his own choices for things, as he saw them. Joseph stared into Rose’s eyes for a long time, weighing her before making his decision.
“I know no laws. The wild is governed by anarchy and nothing else. Those who believe they may mold nature to their ways will be consumed within days. A man must be adaptable, independent and honest, nothing else. Even then he faces a cruelty that can kill everyday. But at least this cruelty is known. In the streets of cities the cruelty hides in the cracks and corrupts people’s unconscious. The Scarlet Flashfever is merely nature’s way of writing this cruelty in the open so these people may see their sins and turn to the beauty of the wild.” Joseph paused long, he had gazed unwaveringly at Rose except for the one moment where he turned his eyes upon the Mith’Ganni. Perhaps this man had survived the wild long but he would never truly understand it if he held closer to his iron laws than the ever-changing environment, he could never become one with the world.
Joseph turned back to the woman who had emerged as their leader, or so it seemed, “I am not one to indulge dishonesty and it disgusts me that I am asked to in answer to your question. Perhaps soon I will share everything with you, I beg you now to be satisfied to know that I was asked to aid a party in their trek through the wilderness. You seem to be such a party. I can guide you to what you seek. First you need nourishment and rest. I will return. Please be on your guard these woods are not made to be kind to foreigners, beautiful though they may be.
Joseph felt a peace returning as he passed through the glow of evening shadows cast like spells by the trees spilt across the land. Relief and contentedness grew up in him as he picked a path through the bush. The pressures of communication, diplomacy and people in general were wearing away, replaced by relaxation. His slow, careful travel through the forest was a meditation that filled him up with a welling joy. His precise attention that he placed in picking every berry, collecting enough to feed him and some others.
As he floated over the stubbly grass that poked through the dirt, leaving little trace behind him his eyes stayed keen and sharp, catching glimpse of every shadow in hopes of a hunt. A dance with another wilderness creature, always gave him some great new joy, as though he was challenging himself against his homeland again.
Finally a suitable quarry revealed itself, a wild boar. Joseph’s senses locked in, everything heightening and his pig emerging as a singular focus. He prepared himself for the kill to come. Slow, silent movements carried him to the beginning of unleashing an attack, as though he were passing through a ritual.
However, before Joseph could complete his sacred sacrifice, chaos broke out in the still air. The howl of his companion pierced the sky and called in desperation out to Joseph. A sick feeling twisted in his gut. This could only mean trouble. He was unused to being concerned for others and the attention that a party drew. He should’ve known better that the commotion of six bodies together would attract attention from dark eyes.
It took no thought, the boar passed from Joseph’s attention in seconds, before he could allow his mind to handle the situation, his body had taken the burden of action on itself. His legs thrust themselves forward leaping over, through and around roots and branches, adeptly carrying him back to the campsite. He could waste no time, if people were in danger, they must be aided. He sped through the woods, approaching the six vulnerable companions for the first time brought together.
((OOC: Okay, as far as I know, two rounds means Joseph is still running. Let me know if you want more information about combat. Meanwhile, Tristessa will protect Kammie as she is prone and in danger - from what I gather. Hope the post is satisfactory, pumped it out with a free couple hours ))
Posted on 2010-02-08 at 05:06:55.
Edited on 2010-02-08 at 06:17:19 by Dragonblood
Gnolls! Why couldn't it have been cute fluffy bunnies...
“I am not one to indulge dishonesty and it disgusts me that I am asked to in answer to your question. Perhaps soon I will share everything with you, I beg you now to be satisfied to know that I was asked to aid a party in their trek through the wilderness. You seem to be such a party. I can guide you to what you seek. First you need nourishment and rest. I will return. Please be on your guard these woods are not made to be kind to foreigners, beautiful though they may be."
Rose listened to Joseph's words. Something panged him for keeping information from them, and Rose simply didn't understand why if he felt guilty, he didn't simply tell them everything. "The truth will set you free" She spoke softly again, but she did not look angry at Joseph as he skirted the question and mentioned nourishment and rest. Soon he was gone and Anora was pacing the edge of the clearing thinking about all that had happened, awaiting their guide's return.
Awhile passed, Anora still pacing, lost in her thoughts. She cast her look amongst the trees but saw nothing but forest through them. By the time the first gnoll had crashed into the clearing it was too late. Surprise had taken them and Anora instantly knew now what inexperience could cost her.
Her mind snapped to training in the yard of the church, the military routines and lessons she had undergone to earn her vestments of paladinhood. As her shield was raised too slowly, the numbing pain of the flail nearly taking all strength from her shield arm with its horrid blow Anora clenched her teeth, her fingers tightened around the hilt of her longsword, knuckles whitening, and she focused on survival..
"Rank up! Form a defensive ring in the center as best we can!,protect the priestess, or any other healers and and don't give them your flanks!"
Facing her adversary she placed the flat of the blade to her forehead and offered a swift prayer.
“I am the armor against cruelty, strong and resilient. I am the shield against intolerance, ever vigilant. I am the sword against injustice, swift and merciful.”
Anora will fend off the gnoll facing her as best she can, utilizing shield and longsword, taking only 5' free steps each turn towards Thea. Hoping between her, Agrin, and Igni they might form a defensive wedge. Surely the dwarves knew of formations, they had been utilizing them for centuries in their tight tunnels. Tristessa she had no idea how to include in any tactical assessment, and Kammie she hoped would get to her feet and be able to join her. Eofara, well, Rose already knew what the Mith'gani thought of her, and with his many seasons on her presumed he'd have his own methods of dealing with things. That was fine by her.
(OOC: I must say sorry, I’m going to sum up the last few posts as best and quickly as I can. My fault for not posting before.)
The other’s, the humans at least, once they had arrived at the clearing began explaining why they where there. Anora explained and Joseph, and himself, listened to this very proper explanation and he found himself wondering why Joseph should care. If Joseph was able to shelter them for the night then he would and if he couldn’t then he shouldn’t regardless of what had happened to them previously. The campsite was comfortable enough however, a clearing in the woods full of soft earth and moss and full of the natural odours of the wood.
Eofara was not spared a lecture about the mention of the laws he had briefly mentioned on the hill. He wasn’t spaired the look by the man they had just met, he had been misunderstood by Anora but he didn’t care, from what the man had said they shared a similar view as he had said much the same thing as the three laws taught.
(In Alcanese) ”You say there are no laws but you have repeated what they sum to yourself. We’re not that different except that I chose to live with people and you chose to live detached from people but if you see beauty in nature then you are blind. It only gives the illusion of beauty unless you have a similar definition of beauty to a murderer. The fever is not natural, it is arcane. The elders of my clan consulted with our gods and decided that we should not fall to something so abhorrent.”
All this was accompanied with the sharp hand gestures that illustrated his disapproval of arcane and how this man lived. They decided to scavenge their food from the forest and although Eofara was not exactly acquainted with the forest he had been in one before so was able to help, it wasn’t a land he was very used to living in and he longed for the open plains or at very least the fields that they had passed on the march to this camp.
Not too long after they were under attack from the inhabitants of the woods, gnolls. Hardly a surprise that he hadn’t noticed them though, he had rarely been on watch for his clan and what good was superior vision when they were surrounded by trees. The fact was it had been Thea that had alerted them and not Anora who had been charge with guarding the group. In the old days, generations ago when the Mith’ganni were plentiful, she would have been exiled for such a failure had any children been injured. An axe cut deep into his shoulder though as he was rising to fight his foe, the blow sent him spinning to the ground and forced his hand to drop his longsword. He grabbed up the weapon from the ground and rose to face his foe, it was bad, he was badly injured and Kammie (I am assuming you have told us your name) worse so. There were 7 gnolls, not an easy number to fight. He attacked the closes gnoll holding this sword in both hands hoping the blow would cleave its head from its body.
Eofara was used to fighting gnolls, he knew where to strike them and how to trick and track them better then anything else under the stars and moon or sun and sky. He'd ignored Rose's words not because he was more experienced then her, but because shouting about how your going to fight is never a good way to fight. Neither is keeping the same method of fighting, your enemies know what to expect. He'd only been caught in one gnoll ambush before, at the age of just 83, and they had slaughtered the beasts then followed the tracks to the camp.
Joseph was anxious to find the solitude of the wilds and hunt for their nourishment as evening crept into the sky, but he now dealt with others and had to adjust to their customs of conversation. He stood before Rose and saw her disappointment in his answer. Yes, he himself was disappointed. Secrets seemed a great vice to him, this was the plague of society and here he was welcoming it into his life.
Disgusted though he was with himself, he didn’t doubt that they would face the full truth in days to come and the current vague reply had to be enough. He appreciated Rose’s calm acceptance of the curt reply, she had some wisdom at least it seemed, to see that this was how it had to be under the current circumstance.
The Elf seemed less pleased with Joseph’s words. He was beginning to remember how quick to temper some people were. Joseph felt no remorse, he had intended no insult in his speech, merely a sharing of his opinion, something he rarely did for it often incited injury. Joseph turned to meet the eyes of the Mith’Ganni squarely.
“I do not know your laws Eofara, I know only what I have learned in my years in isolation. Baelonea is a world constantly changing and I claim no hard or fast way that will guide us through our lives in it. With regards to your community, I hold no blame above the heads of those who choose companionship and you have misread my words if you saw it therein. I have chosen my path and ask no others to follow it. I simply cannot help but see the corruption that chews upon city life.
“However if you cannot see the beauty breathed into this world I do not understand you. Life and death in the wild is not murder, murder is the theft of life fueled by the vice of man. I am sorry you cannot appreciate the beauty of the land, perhaps you will see the gift we have been given here some day, it is no illusion. It is all that is real in this world.
“As for your distaste for magic and your claims of the fever it is has caused, I can say only this. Magic cannot be divorced from nature, it moves in all things. If you were raised in a time where another plague was cured with magic you would speak the opposite. As all things in nature wielded beneath the malevolence of man it can be bent to do evil but its manipulation cannot be its definition. I do not know enough of the fever to proclaim whether it is arcane in nature, I’m sure we will all know in life or death.”
Joseph let his long speech hang in the air. He had appealed to the ranger, though perhaps it could not be perceived, diplomacy was not something Joseph was interested in. He spoke honestly, from his heart at all times and if this could not be appreciated, Joseph was not interested. He respected this man for living upon the land instead of chained within the prison that was society, a disagreement could never be used to prove a man good or bad.
Posted on 2010-02-08 at 21:14:04.
Edited on 2010-02-08 at 21:17:18 by Dragonblood
Her stomach grumbled as she crouched down before the slender tree. The thought of eating some wild animal stewed with Kamsha bark, however, was not helping her stomach feel any better. The sour taste the bark held mixed with some (what she expected to be) grizzled meat was not what she wanted. She wanted to be home. She wanted apple tarts. She sighed and tried to focus on gathering the edible parts of the bark.
This was difficult though as she kept having other thoughts. The discussion of the ‘laws of nature’ had continued amongst her comrades. She felt young and ignorant as they discussed them, she knew not what they were talking about. The only part of the conversation she knew a thing about was the Fever. She had had plenty of experience with that. Something had churned in her when the Wild Man (Joseph David Gabriel Feroz) suggested that it was brought on by nature to remind people of the beauty that the wild held. That seemed wrong somehow, but Eofara countered him before she herself had a chance. Then the Wild Man went on to further explain his thoughts, even as Eofara had concluded that it was magic that caused the Fever.
She couldn’t make sense of any of it, and both thoughts left her confused and upset. Nature was beautiful, it held the mystery of life in its delicate hands, a mystery that she cherished and nurtured as best she could. It was difficult to think of Nature creating something so terrible. Those that caught the Fever did not die painlessly, they suffered terribly and their deaths seemed so pointless to Thea. And yet the thought that a creature would purposefully create a disease in order to hurt others was also nearly impossible for her to consider. Evil was something that did not settle into Thea’s heart or her mind. To reduce suffering and extend life was her life’s ambition, to do anything to the contrary was so alien to her she could not find it a valid point of discussion.
She sighed and decided, as usual, to allow such thoughts to trouble the minds of others. The big picture was elusive to her, she dealt with the small things. The current small thing that crept into her thoughts was how they would sleep. Back at the temple she had slept with the other unmarried young women. At home she had slept in her own small room, sometimes with her female cousins curled up with her when they would visit. The thought of sleeping out in the open was terrifying enough, the thought of sharing the clearing with men was nearly paralyzing. At the temple some of the girls had whispered in the dark at night about men, what they wanted with girls and how they went about getting it sometimes. She shuddered and glanced back to where Rose was walking, she prayed that she could curl up with Rose far away from the others. While somewhere deep inside she wondered if Eofara with his pale skin or even the Wild Man with his deep eyes would think of her while she slept, when she couldn’t decide if she liked the idea of that or not she pushed it far from her mind.
Her head snapped up just as quickly as she heard the noise, immediately she sought through the trees, looking to see which of her male companions was sneaking up on her, and cleared her throat to scream for Rose. The scream stuck in her throat though as not one of her companions but instead a large hairy, and very smelly, creature lurched toward her.
She could hear nothing but the pounding of her own blood in her ears as she stumbled backwards, watching with wide eyes as the weapon swung toward her scrapped along the earth instead of her skin and then the creature bounded over her. Only vaguely was she aware that she was screaming now, she could not hear the terrified cries that she sent into the woods, but she could feel her throat constricting.
Everything happened in a blur, more furred creatures came out, blood was spilled across the beautiful carpet of the clearing. She did not know whose blood it was as nothing came in full images, only flashes that seared into her, burning the fear deeper into her soul. She kept pedaling backwards with her feet not sure where she was trying to go. Prayers danced on her consciousness but she could not grab one and hold onto it no matter how many she tried.
Lady Mirros! For those… I give thanks… praise this food… heal… mercy… Mirros… forgive…
((Thea thus is screaming and staying on the ground prone, trying to use her feet to push herself backwards and further into the middle of the clearing. She will continue this into the second round. Note: I imagine that if the defense Rose is trying to put up fails and Thea is lunged at again, she will faint))
Posted on 2010-02-09 at 17:01:17.
Ion Kired Tapped Out Bullywog Karma: 45/4 758 Posts
I think I'm gonna be Krosan
As morning kissed the sky the renegades gathered to flee. Igni greeted everyone in a bardic manner as they appeared except Agrin. To this last Igni greeted with reserved respect. As a priest of the Dwarven deity Agrin was owed as much, even if Igni no longer believed in such a being, and as a Krosan Agrin would not have appreciated a more jovial greeting. The first half of the journey was much as expected. There were other travelers and open wet roads but not much else. Igni became more reserved as the journey began all but dropping the bard act. The open road was friendly to bards but hardly the place to make a ruckus, especially when there was a price hanging on one’s head. It’ll be a good distance yet before I pick up the bard’s role in a tavern. This thought brought a sigh to Igni’s lips. He very dearly enjoyed the children who gathered to hear his tales. So it was with his shortspear acting as a walking stick Igni trudged throughout the day. As they approached the wolf Igni perked up a little. This is a little bizarre. I believe most tales I hear of wolves have them being elusive and here sits one in the middle of the road, a polymorph perhaps? As that thought crossed Igni’s mind the wolf brayed to the woods as though alerting. A signal is never good Igni thought with a mild case of panic. He didn’t let the panic show though. It’s an animal if I show fear I am prey if I do not show fear I am more than prey. Igni watched the forest edge to see if anything else emerged as Rose stepped forward shield ready and no weapon drawn. Fool, a whole lot of good engaging without a weapon is. Sure the shield will take the brunt but all that weight has to go somewhere. Though equally strange the wolf isn’t responding to our movement. Animals always respond unless trained The thought of a trained animal meant a trainer and that made Igni worry more then the prospect of a wolf pack. What a way to end the trip! Make it all day playing off as if we have nothing more than a picnic to attend and get caught as it ends. Fantastic. Igni stretched his fingers but otherwise made no other outward movement as he continued to scan the forest horizon. He also began calling to mind a charm spell and an appropriate song to cover for the use of magic. Not that hiding matters anymore. What are they gonna do turn me in? As Igni watched the forest he saw what almost seemed like a man melting from the foliage. The newcomer’s movements were graceful and sure in an almost feral way. It was admiration for that grace that stalled Igni from casting his charm spell. The grace and an unexplained feeling that whoever this man was he wasn’t a bounty hunter from the city.
“Lower your shield Rose. We’ve fled Vyrrmas with a price on our heads, we seek a place to hide.” The elf said loud and clear. Igni cursed. Fool boy! Never, Never say there is a price on your head out loud! Igni began casting his charm spell under his breathe. Now this fool knows and now we must silence any prospect of his talking. The spell was almost complete when Thea bumped him ever so slightly. It was slight enough the girl might not have felt it but it was hard enough to make Igni lose the spell. He swore again.
“I’m not one to discourse through shouts and cries. Come hither, so you may quit your dishonesty, and tell me your tale. You need shelter and something more, methinks.” The stranger seemed too accommodating. He may not be a member of the city guard but that doesn’t mean he’s harmless. Igni searched his mind for another useful spell and came up short. I really need the Cosmos to give me a more offensive spell He thought sourly as he watched the majority of the party begin to take up the offered shelter. Maybe the Krosan’s are right and Dwarves are the only sensible race! Though sensible as they were it was the dwarves who did not vote and so as it often is with those who abstain it was the other choice which was chosen. The party had chosen to follow the stranger and as Igni was certain that he could not complete this mission alone he followed in suit staying closer to the Krosan than the non-dwarves sure that should a fight breakout the Krosan would be the fastest to react of his companions. As the Krosan surely had not let down his guard which it seemed the others had. Igni not being he most graceful being in the world stepped on twigs and branches. He made little effort to remain quiet as he was pretty sure that there would be relatively little trouble on the way to the real trouble. The awaiting trap. As the party entered the grassy clearing Igni stepped carefully no longer using his shortspear as a walking stick but rather carrying it loosely in one hand so that he could bring it to ready at a moment’s notice but still seemed unprepared. I’ll eat my rations without giving you a chance to poison them.Igni thought as the stranger introduced himself and began talking of food. Though I’ll do it later after I’ve survived your little coup de etat.
“or perhaps one of them would be better suited for the task, it is to one of their kinds works that we travel, I think…” The youngest member of the group, a girl Igni liked and felt sorry for began making the mistake of revealing their plans again. Igni rolled his eyes and would have shut the girl up except he was sure hat would make her cry and he didn’t like tears. Besides they’ve already given us away.
“If oration is not your gift Thea then leave it to others without shame. I am no speaker either. I am a hunter however. I will turn to these trees in search of sustenance and bring back what I can find. Spend the time until my return how you will.” With these words the stranger blended back into the wild. To tell the other brigands their catch is sitting here plump I’m sure. Igni hated feeling like he wasn’t in control but he hated trying to control others even more. Besides I’m always in control of myself. Igni pulled his crossbow out and armed it sure that an attack was coming and he was right. Though the attack didn’t come immediately it came. Before the attack Igni stood as sentry watching the forest and scarcely paying attention to the forming camp behind him. He heard Thea cry out and he heard branches snap in that order then he saw what looked like hyena men and knew immediately what it was he saw. The owners of the ruin I should have known it’d be them a wild man was allied to.
“Gnolls! This is what happens when you fools trust a stranger!” Igni cried out taking careful aim at the nearest one as it charged into the clearing. Igni fired his bolt hoping for a score though he didn’t watch to see his handiwork as he moved onto his next move. He envisioned air wrapping around him as a suit of armor offering greater protection. (Mage Armor) Then realizing that in an ambush ranged weaponry is inefficient Igni gripped his shortspear.
Posted on 2010-02-11 at 03:06:28.
Edited on 2010-02-13 at 00:44:09 by Ion Kired
Volla 28th, 1021
Aur’Varsa Forest, Alcana
After the initial shock of the ambush wore off, the first signs of a defense were in the works. All around the clearing, the party scrambled to establish some sort of order – or at least a manageable situation that would provide them with some even ground.
His eyes well-attuned to the inefficient light of the bonfire, Éofara’s slender fingers groped around on the mossy forest floor until they came to rest around the hilt of his sword. Ignoring the blood seeping from his wound, the Mith’ganni pushed himself to his feet, the fight not taken out of him yet. Whirling around, he spotted the gnoll that has felled him with the axe shot, rushing in with the spiked head of a morning star hauled back over its shoulder. The swing whooshed through the air, just over Éofara’s head as he ducked beneath it. Collecting himself, the elf loosed a heavy swing into the gnoll’s thigh, dragging the blade through its greasy fur. Blood flecked the earth as the creature howled, and Éofara leapt upright, winding up and launching an efficient slice across his hated foe’s exposed throat, collapsing it in a filthy heap.
Igni, reacting to the situation as best as he could without blowing his immediate cover, pulled the trigger on his crossbow, but failing to land a shot as the bolt tore through the slender tree branches over the target’s shoulder. Not wasting a second, he took a step away, dropping his crossbow pulling the strings of magic and voicing an efficient, but useless, song to overlap his action. Invisible to all eyes but his own, fine strands of ether wrapped around Igni’s body, sealing themselves protectively with a slight clanking sound. Even if they were still at the disadvantage, at least he would be able to hold his own a little more efficiently.
Rose lacked any real form of combat experience, but calling back on her training, she attempted to assemble a defensive formation from around the clearing. Lifting her shield to form a protective roof over her head, her body trembled from the impact of the flail atop it. Jaws tense, she lashed out with her sword, splitting apart the rusted chain links of its patchwork coat and spilling its innards to the earth.
Seeing that her formational call was not coming to shape, be it from Igni’s support near Agrin, or the Krosan’s hatred for everybody but himself and his distant cousin, she was left alone. Hearing Thea’s terrified screams, the temple knight turned and moved over to assist the fleeing priestess.
Trying to get out of the stare of the greedy, slavering gnoll, Thea continued her backpedal, scrambling with everything she had to get away. Bits of moss and earth collected on her clean robes, staining them a ruddy brown and green. Cleanliness mattered not to the frail young woman; survival did.
Stomping through the clearing after her, the axe-bearing gnoll lurched forth, stalking down its cowering prey with a twisted smile on its muzzle. Leering at the frightened little girl, it raised its rusted weapon, muscles bunching up, and clove through the air in a downwards arc, only to fall short of Thea’s curled-up figure. Just in time, Rose has been able to get over top of the servant of Mirros, sword raised up to parry the blow. Her arm over-extended, she was unable to fully stop the axe. Groaning as her sword arm compressed beneath the force, she felt the blinding pain of the heavy axehead crashing into her sternum, parting steel then flesh. She felt the skin beneath her armour grow hot, sticky with blood, then felt everything numb as she went into shock.
Even through her pain, Rose sought to protect Thea’s defenseless form, and struck out with her sword, but the gnoll knocked the weapon aside with its axe-haft, snarling flecks of spit all over the pair.
Still beset by the trio of assailants, Agrin held his ground against the gnolls, keeping them occupied and away from his Duskarn kin. Shield raised, his sturdy body resisted the impacts of two sword swings, while he himself assaulted the third, the flanges of his mace beating down its leather shield, then following through to bust its scarred face like overripe fruit. As it fell to the dirt, the Krosan turned to press into his adversaries once again, pinning one sword-arm against beneath his shield while a low shot of his mace crushed the long leg of the strange beast, causing it to fall down with a feral howl. Looking up, he caught the glint of a sword parting the air, directly against his helm. Which the steel held, it felt as though his head were trapped in a vice, and the sturdy dwarf reeling backwards on his feet before collecting himself.
Trying to pick herself up out of the dirt, Kammie reached for her weapon, intent on trying to fight back while rising up, but felt the heavy canine foot of the gnoll stomp down onto her back, pushing the air from her lungs and driving her face to the moss. Spitting out mouthfuls of earth, the street rat struggled to get free from beneath the beast’s weight. She could hear it snarling, jeering at her form as it raised up its spear, ready to plunge it down and stake her to the dirt, when all of a sudden, the weight was released and she saw her assailant crash down beside her, tangled up by the snarling form of Tristessa. Jaws snapped and gnashed wildly, seeking the throat of the gnoll, but failing to find mark through its filthy mange.
Éofara had grabbed his sword up off the clearing floor and rose to his feet, the beast that had attacked him was charging at him with its rusted weapon raised. He stood his ground as the creature charged and prepared himself, he artfully ducked the creatures wild swing and slashed its thigh quite deliberately as he did so. As he spun up from dodging this attack he shifted the sword slightly in his hand to give a more upward cut and clove the creature’s throat.
The gnoll collapsed blood spilling from its throat as such a rate. Its death was swift, more so then the creature probably deserved, and respectful. Éofara wouldn't drive his blade through it's chest as he knew it dead, he'd move the body after the battle and return it to the earth and sky.
As so often with combat you've not fully aware of everything and so much of everything else was a blur so he failed to pin down the actions of most of the group. What he had noticed however Rose had charged to a screaming shape on the floor, he'd phased out all the noise, too much to think about and you must trust your allies to survive. The screaming shape was Thea and a gnoll was bearing down on them, she had over exerted herself and now her weapon useless to her the gnoll they were both in mortal danger.
Tact was useless here, he would need to run the creature through before it run them through. He charged the beast to run it through or cut flesh to save the pair, gnolls were crafty but often stupid, instinct told him the creature would sooner finish Rose then defend himself but instinct could always be wrong.
(OOC: Little shorter then I like for a post but I'll just keep telling myself this is combat so I've only got 6 seconds to write about.)
Posted on 2010-02-13 at 14:41:18.
Ion Kired Tapped Out Bullywog Karma: 45/4 758 Posts
Short for me too but for a combat post we're actually posting well
With the ether hardening around him Igni breathed a little easier. Now where will I be of the most help? Igni took a moment to take in the battle. It had been a long time since he had been in a fight. His last fight had been fraught with terrible memories and had caused him to separate from his village guard taking up a position as a miner. It also wasn’t against Gnolls and so wouldn’t help him, so Igni pushed it from his mind. One fight at a time and always the one you’re in. The situation already showed that it would not be an easy win, but as Igni counted bodies he noted that the companions were doing more damage to the assailants than they were taking. This wasn't the first time Igni faced Gnolls. The Duskarn and the Gnolls fought often as the history of Gurit-Marnairan proved. Gnolls were chaotic fighters that rarely utilized formations or even partnering to any effect. So we could do more damage if we work in pairs. He noted Eofara charging the Gnoll attacking Rose and the child. He noted the wolf standing over Kammie. He noted how he was not pressed and noted Agrin close by fighting well but pressed. I shall aid him as I intended in the woods. At least if he survives I will know there is one I can trust. Breathing deep Igni took careful aim at the Gnoll which hit Agrin’s helmet and loosed a bolt. He then slid another bolt from his quiver and into the loading cartridge. Pulling back the string and pressing on the trigger again Igni released another bolt swirling toward he mangy dogman.
Posted on 2010-02-13 at 19:56:06.
Edited on 2010-02-13 at 20:00:27 by Ion Kired
Rose felt the weight of another blow upon her shield arm, the strike rattling her bone, arm already numb with pain. But the pain gave her a focus, a clarity that was simple. Kill or be killed. With a focused thrust her sword felled her opponent, and her eyes swept the battlefield. Thea was still on her haunches skittering backwards like a retreating cockroach from an oncoming boot.
The poor girl has every right to be frightened. Rose thought as she rushed to her side, even as the axe wielding gnoll came for her innocent blood.
"Liris have mercy upon the soul of your sister's child." Rose called as she ran, making it to Thea's aide just in time, though her outstretched lunge to parry the axe haft was overextended, her body thrown too close by momentum, and she felt the crushing blow against her chest, her finely polished breastplate taking the blow, saving her life, but not stopping enough of the force that she did not feel her sternum crack, her flesh moisten with blood.
Standing over Thea, knuckles white, shoulder's sagged in pain, blood dribbling from her mouth, and flying mixed with spittle Anora refused to allow the girl to be ravaged by these dogs.
"Liris grant me strength, protect this child with my body as your armor, my life as your shield. Let not these mongrels have their way. Guide my arm, your strength to deliver us from harm."
Casting but a glance to the frightened form behind her Rose could only shed a bloody smile. "I know you're afraid but If there was ever a time to let that fear fuel your desire to live and take action now is the time!"
Gritting her teeth and striking out at the gnoll Anora yelled "You shall not have her today! Not while I still draw breath!"
Posted on 2010-02-13 at 20:23:29.
Edited on 2010-02-13 at 20:25:53 by Kaelyn