Someone wise once said, “Life is a melting pot, every person we meet, adventure we have, tragedy we face, are but flavors for the stew.” If this metaphor holds any truth, then surely none would deny the intricate and varied ingredients which made up the group which awakens this day in a clearing off the side of the rustic and well worn roads of untamed domain. The sun hung high in the midday sky, as our curtains raise on our cast. No tranquil countryside sets the mood for this story however, for this tale begins in tragedy, bonding, and the search for answers. For what happened preceding this tale, the prologue one might say, would shape our cast into what they were, and more importantly who they would become; but perhaps I should start at the beginning.
Though the God's and Titan's no longer walked the world, Nomachron and the western continent of Ghelspad to be certain, still bore grim reminders of their cataclysmic struggle even now more than a century-and-a-half later. Titanspawn still roamed the lands, and though much had been reclaimed, as cities kingdoms and settlements etched out their admirable returns to stability, there are still many dangers precipitating the need for sell-swords and adventuring parties. A skilled blade or a deft step, an adept in the arts or a wandering healer could all ply their trade for money if they knew where to look, or were known where to be found. In times of great political and militaristic turmoil with the forced expansion of Calastian land through neighbouring countries, perhaps even the titanspawn were not the greatest threat to those who sought a semblance of peace in these turbulent times.
I would dare say few stranger could be found under one banner, that of a beautiful crimson rose with leaves and thorns twisted, embroidered into a long and slender blade and crosspiece. The Company of the Crimson Blades was founded two years ago by an entrepreneurial forsaken elf by the name of Alanelia Zelphyr. A business woman with a keen eye and glib tongue amongst a more varied and specified skill set, she often sold her services as a mercenary would, and garnered quite the reputation for herself, and those few she picked up along the way to join her in her liberation from danger for a price. It was she who found each and everyone one of them, and each of their timely crossings could be almost considered serendipitous. Strange are those threads of fate ever plucked by ethereal hands beyond comprehension.
Each had been an abnormality, an exception to the rule of thumb that most had simply fallen into. They were on the run from lives past, lives filled with varied and wished forgotten memories, actions along with consequences which hardened and forged each one of them into who they are today. With the exception of the druid, who simply wished to see a world beyond the rookery nestled in the foothills overlooking the ruins of Amalthea. Whether it was a yearning for something greater, something grander, or simply opportunity in times of desperation she had found them, embraced their desires in such a way as to calm their hearts and still their blades, and spark the curiosity that they were destined to influence change, and that there would perhaps be a pretty penny to go along with their efforts.
So had the seven of them crossed paths, and joined in common interest if not belying personal agendas. Alanelia was always willing to listen as their leader, though judged none for what was shared. Over a year you all have spent operating as a cohesive unit, operating under Alanelia's command, though she truly treated each and everyone of you as an equal. She has been quick to offer sage advice, though she speaks little of her past. A favourite motto of hers is “Let not what lies behind distract from what lies beyond” Her age and lineage gave her a distinct aura of confidence and wisdom one came to entrust and rely on, but that wisdom would not save her.
They had just made camp after a gruelling though successful mission when Nel mentioned in passing that she had her hands in something big, a final job perhaps if they so desired, something that would set each of them up with enough to settle down if they chose, retire their blades and dusty cloaks and finally enjoy the fruits of their hard earned rewards. While this piqued the interest of many if not all, Alanelia would say no more until she had validated her sources information. Always planning the Company's next course of action, this news wasn't entirely unexpected, though talk of retirement seemed out of place coming from a woman they had known only as the adventurer always looking for the next score.
They were camping for the night off the roadside having put in a hard weeks tracking and eliminating of titanspawn who had come too far south from the Blood Basin for civilized comfort. The party was tired, some still wounded from the hard fought victory, but their spirits were high as they sought the first relative comfort in days, eager for an uneventful night which would bring about new spells and healing upon the morrow. As was her custom, Alanelia would take first watch, for she needed not the traditional sleep of the human or half blood races to recuperate her stamina. Her centuries of adventuring and experience could not of prepared her for what befell them that night. The moon was high, it silver light casting a pale veil over the landscape as they came. Her keen senses picked them up at a distance shadows flitting in and out of sight as they shifted across the plains. She called out to rouse the others and as they shifted from their reveries an eerie silence fell over the encampment.
No wind rustled the tall grass, no bird nor cricket broke the still of the night, and soon, impossibly soon, the shadows surrounded the clearing, vague humanoid shapes devoid of light encircled the party. Alanelia drew her blades, a pale longsword of gleaming moonlight and a sickle of obsidian etched with glowing runes, a living rose wrapped around the thin crosspiece the stem and thorns adorning the leathery grip, and as her bare fingers wrapped around the pommel and group the thorns sunk into her flesh, and though she bled she seemed to feel no pain, as she had branded the weapons countless times before. Despite the dire situation unfolding, standing there, silver hair flowing behind her, her golden hued leathers form fitting around her supple form, like a rush in the wind she swayed awaiting whatever darkness came.
And come it did. The shadows fell upon the encampment like an eclipse blotted out the sun. The adventurer's did all they could to fend off the dire threat, but they were insignificant before the living night. Weapons would not penetrate their foes, and spells simply disappeared within the folds of nether. One by one the companions fell, drained of essence and life till the cold embrace of unconsciousness threatened to take them. The only one with magical weapons, though the party knew not their exact nature, only Alanelia stood, fending off a great shadowed form, easily thirteen feet tall, and try as she might, the creature simply goaded her on in silence, that sickly grin across its face filled with reviled fangs the length of fingers. Slash after slash the crimson blade traded with the beast of nightmare, but for every blow traded it was apparent her strength would weaken long before her foe.
In a desperate act, Nel tumbled backwards out of the great reach of the shadowed terror, and fell to her knees. She called to the heavens in a voiceless prayer, drew a moonlit rune in the air before her, the likes of which the withering party had never before seen, (in fact none had ever seen her cast magic before period) and plunged her living dagger into her own chest. The look on Nel's face would haunt the parties dreams to this day. Her chest bled from the seemingly mortal wound, her golden armour stained with the ichor of her life. From the wound sprouted vines, hundreds of tiny brambles which began to weave and wrap around her form, her mouth echoed a silent scream of anguish, and her eyes glazed over with pure moonlight. The monstrous terror closed the gap with one monstrous step and took a swing at the exposed woman, and his mighty arm came crashing down and as soon as it passed the area before her form, her rune activated, and the entire clearing was swathed in glorious moonlight. Silver beams exploded outward, like a dozen sunrods had gone off at once, though the illumination bore no golden hue and when they touched the shadowed denizens of the night they were seared as plainly as lighting a candle in a room to push back the darkness. They sizzled and faded into nothing, and the silence which permeated the area dispersed as well as Alanelia's pained scream echoed into the night.
There, encased in a shell of living vines and thorns lay Nel, the earth melding with her evoked barrier, and in the middle of her chest her sickle still protrudes at an awkward angle, her skin ashen and hardened like obsidian fingers still locked around the hilt. There was no sign of the shadowed terror that had struck the rune, and the wind rustled quietly in the night as though nothing had disturbed its gentle breeze.
Darkness would come then, as exhaustion befell the companions and sleep overtook them, their strength gone.
Morning came slowly, for each had taken quite the toll, and as each roused from what their minds had hoped to be a nightmare, their pain wracked bodies confirmed the contrary. As they gathered their senses, anyone glancing at the battlefield of the night before would find no sign of the shadowed figures, and though all of the adventurer's packs still seemed present and accounted for, Nel's body is still encased in stone covered by vines, brambles, and budding flowers.
OOC: Everyone is currently at 3 hp (brought back from the cusp of death) +natural healing 8 hours sleep returns 1 hp per character level. (spells have been restored for arcane casters, (druids and clerics will need to roleplay their morning prayer or such.
Alanelia's body is still in a kneeling position, her skin is like obsidian, the vegetation around her seemingly still alive and rooted into the ground. On a battle map this vegetation would still fill a 5' square.
Feel free to backtrack characters, take creative liberties on how you perhaps met Nel, interact amongst yourselves, consider this time non combative. Feel free to Pm me or openly request in the Q/a (as perhaps multiple people will wish the same action)with skill/ observation checks, and I will give you results to include in your posts if you prefer. I prefer fluid complete posts then short ones stopping every sentence with “I look at this. Can I walk over there.... does this sound like blah” Cover the non combative details in pm's / the Q/a and then cohesive posts can be made from which others can react.
Oh.. and welcome to Nomachron
Posted on 2013-06-09 at 03:08:23.
Edited on 2013-06-09 at 08:15:28 by Kaelyn
The taste of earth had never much bothered Nine Fox Silent Elm in the past. From the dark crumble, all organic life bloomed, in some way or shape. Verdant plantlife held its ground with sprawling root, drinking in the sun’s light to grow to something grand. Beings like himself, on the other hand, whose feet walked atop the soil rather than dig within it, were largely dependent on such creations, be it for air, for shade, for nourishment, or even for water. All life was founded in soil. So the old ones had taught him long ago.
So while the grit and clumped particles caked his tongue and blackened his teeth, it was not it that bothered him. The blood in his mouth was most unwelcome, and it took a moment’s thought to attach its source to the fact his lower lip had been split wide.
His body flared in pain, and it wasn’t until he attempted to open his eyes that he realized he was facedown, thus explaining the reasoning behind his initial sensory reception. Clenching his bearded jaw, Nine Fox managed to slip a hand between his eyes and the ground, and levered himself over. His long brown dreadlocks, bound together in a pull-back, clumped hard beneath his neck, but he hardly noticed the awkward position it left his head in. The sluggishness in his limbs left him feeling much like a flipped turtle, and he gave up for a moment and just let the cool morning air kiss his face.
It didn’t take opening his eyes to feel that his mouth was not the only source of blood. His bearskin robe and the cured hides that covered his body were thick and durable, but from the way he felt beneath them, he figured they’re both been perforated in a number of spots, as had been his flesh.
The Druid exhaled heavily, wincing from it. He suspected a cracked rib from the way the action stabbed into his chest. The night before was a blur to him. He seemed to recall fighting - and not well. That would account for the rough shape he was in. But he was still alive, which meant that they must have won the battle. Still, the fact that he could not piece it all together bothered Nine Fox.
Bright light. Dark shapes. Blood. Thorns.
That thought sat heavier than the rest.
His eyes snapped open, dawn’s light scorching his green eyes and stealing forth a groan from his bloodied lips. But he had to be sure, and Nine Fox forced himself up to a seated position, teeth grinding together against the hurts rippling up across his body.
Scanning the area, the Druid saw nothing before him, save some forcibly uprooted clumps of grass near his person. Something had hurled him to the ground with enough might to dig a small ditch where he had impacted the earth. Scattered black feathers littered the site, looking much like somebody had torn a down pillow to pieces and went for a run. Nine Fox tasted bile. His flock...
He managed to turn himself about to survey what lay behind him, and it was here that he understood why the imagery of thorns was so prominent in his mind.
Alanelia stood alone amidst what had prior been their campsite, her slender form bound in vines, thorns, and flower buds. From where he sat, he could only see her backside, but this seemed far too unnatural to him to think that their leader was in any sort of good shape.
Nine Fox Silent Elm scrambled to his feet, urgency muting the pain that had previously filled his body. His companions lay scattered throughout the site, all of them looking pretty comparable to the way he felt, but he would see to them after. Nel was the Druid’s concern at the moment.
He circled about her standing form, seeing with dread that the Elf’s sickle, an item she had carried since she’d first found him at the rookery, parted her chest, and from it, the source of of this supernatural burst of vegetation. He could only guess that it was also the causation of her petrified flesh.
Frantically, Nine Fox wracked his memory, searching for anything that might explain this horrific sight to him, but he’d never seen nor heard of anything like this before. He wasn’t even sure he knew what this was.
When standing, the Druid was a hulk of a man, over six feet tall and broad of shoulder. His thick dreadlocks gave him a savage image that was relatively unbefitting of his insightful nature. But the grief that filled his heart as the sight of his friend struck the strength from his body as a scythe fells grain, and he fell to his knees, fists propping his torso up in a sort of grim bow to the woman who had helped him find his way to a purpose greater than he could have initially imagined.
From deep within his breast, an anguished roar began to well up, which he made no effort to stifle, and the wildman split the morning air with a primal howl of sorrow and frustration.
The Druid was not accustomed to loss of control of his emotions like this, but it was all too much to understand, and this frustrated him. The missing pages of the previous night, and to awaken feeling beaten near-to-death, only to find this... He did not know what to make of it.
A caw from behind him snapped Nine Fox from his frustrated stupor, and he turned his head to see the black form of a crow picking at something on the ground. Perhaps a bit of flesh; perhaps that of his own, even.
Grim as that thought may have been to somebody a touch more civilized than himself, it brought a small sense of order back to his troubled thoughts. Just like he had awoken with a mouth filled with earth, the crow was using an offering to grow, to ensure that none went to waste in this precious world.
Could Nel’s state be perceived as such?
He pondered this in silence, not averting his gaze from the ebon bird. From outside his focus, he was able to hear the sounds of more of them, and this, at least, brought him some solace. His murder had not been killed off during whatever had transpired the previous night. Or at least, not in its entirety. Some of his birds still lived.
Nine Fox extended a fist. “Come.” He beckoned, and with its grim morsel still in its beak, the crow hopped into a short flight to land on his forearm, where he lifted his free hand from the dirt and gently stroked its black feathers.
Something so simple could sometimes hold the greatest effect on a troubled mind. Harvest what gains could be made from any crop. Alanelia was encased in stone and vine and thorn, but he - and presumably, the others, were alive. His flock remained at least somewhat at strength. He could see more of his coal coloured birds hanging around the ruined campsite. He did not know if she were alive or dead. But the inactivity borne of grieving would accomplish nothing. As his crow had recovered something from the blood spilled across the grass and soil, so, too, would Nine Fox Silent Elm harvest his own bounty from this, and pushing down the pain that wrung his body, the man rose to his feet, spread his arms, and mocked a crude cawing.
Perhaps one of the others would know more of what had happened the night before. Maybe Tasso or Ellenrae would have answers. But if they were in the same state as he, he would allow them to awaken by their own accord. For now, he would take stock of his winged companions. Not much else was in his control at the moment.
South East of the Blood Basin
Day 2 of Madrot Morning came slowly, for each had taken quite the toll, and as each roused from what their minds had hoped to be a nightmare, their pain wracked bodies confirmed the contrary. As they gathered their senses, anyone glancing at the battlefield of the night before would find no sign of the shadowed figures, and though all of the adventurer's packs still seemed present and accounted for, Nel's body is still encased in stone covered by vines, brambles, and budding flowers.
Guh-Amriel the Silver Huntress stirred ever so slightly, her pain wracked attractively athletic 5'7" 125 lbs body sprawled in awkward contortions, where she lay in the trampled morning-dew grass, several yards from the campsite of 'The Company of the Crimson Blades', as if the Half Elf Barbarian woman had been ravaged and cast aside by a ruthless lover, who no longer burned with any flaming passions or carnal desires, no longer seeking secret satisfactions, either upon her or within her!
She was born on Day 15 of Balot in the late spring, 24 years ago, but today she was barely able to moan the name of her deity, unable to utter any other intelligible sound, as her Green Eyes fluttered uncontrollably, before she retreated into a safe haven within an inner realm of her subconscious.
Tanil the Huntress, a Chaotic Good deity, the ultimate champion of the underdog, the queen of archery and stealth, armed with silver-tipped arrows to wreak vengeance upon werebeasts and other obscenities spawned from cataclysms of the past Divine War, was venerated by the father of Guh-Amriel.
He was an Elf of unknown origin, who lay wounded when the Barbarian War Band of the tribe of Guh, affiliated with the Winters Fang tribes of Albadia found him, surrounded by the dead corpses of the vermin being tracked by the Guh warriors, slain by this unknown and dying Elf.
A sense of honor and respect for an unknown Elf who had single-handedly slain their enemies, moved upon the Guh to bring him to their village, where a woman past the mandatory age of Breeding and serving the tribe as a Pleasure Partner for the Guh men, was assigned the nearly impossible task of saving the life of this heroic Elf.
She spent many long weeks cleansing, tending to and pleasuring the unknown Elf back from oblivion and into robust health. They fell in love and were joined together as husband and wife, following the Barbarian customs and laws of the tribe of Guh.
At the time of her marriage she was 32; whereas, the age of the unknown Elf was unknown.
Soon a son was born from their pleasure union, given the name Guh-Amrior by his Elf father, as was the custom of the Guh tribe for fathers to name their children, born on Day 15 of Balot.
Three years later to the exact day, Guh-Amriel was born. She of light bronze skin from her father, green almond-shaped Elven eyes and obviously Elvish ears; pointed with remarkable contours that from the day of her birth until now are quite seductive to look upon.
Her father taught both Guh-Amrior and Guh-Amriel the ways of Tanil the Huntress with an appreciation for Travel, Hunting, Forestry, Music, Archery, Freedom, Good Fortune and her Domains of Animals, Chaos, Luck, Plants, Travel, Trickery; plus her Holy Symbol of Three bronze arrows lying parallel, but Guh-Amriel was enamored with the silver-tipped arrows of her revered deity, adopting the silver weapons of her choice, seeing the Barbarian woman was not a Cleric or Druid.
Her father instilled the values of Freedom of Choice in his son and daughter, also influencing their Chaotic Good choice of alignment, as was their deity of choice.
Young women of the tribe of Guh were taught the ways of passion from the age of 12, under the tender, but firm guidance of a select few older women, who were the wisest and most gifted of the tribe in sharing the secrets of their experiences in the transmitting and receiving of pleasuring passions.
Under their guidance, the young women learned which nights between cycles they were allowed to practice their passionate charms with the young men of the tribe, without prematurely breeding; for the older women would gather around each couple, observing their actions and reactions, coaching each couple openly and advising them how to pleasure each other; then switching partners to administer baths and oils, before resuming their pleasure training with another, then another and yet another, building their endurance for the good of the tribe.
For it was expected, that the women of the tribe of Guh, between the ages of 18 and 30, would serve the men as Breeders and Pleasure Partners during any given day or night, birthing children to be raised by the tribe, pleasuring the men to reward them for their hard work and protection of the tribe, before being allowed to marry after the age of 30 to love a man of their choice and raise a family together.
As the appointed time approached for Guh-Amriel to begin serving the tribe as a Breeder and Pleasure Partner, her father and brother were away on a War Hunt that ended in disaster. Her father was killed and her brother was separated in the heat of battle, presumed and later declared to be officially dead, because there was no trace of his body and no signs that he had escaped.
Guh-Amriel was allowed two years to mourn the deaths of both her father and her brother, because Guh-Amrior did not return from that fateful War Hunt.
Both her father and her brother had diligently trained Guh-Amriel in the art of fighting. Her father taught her to use the bow and arrow, while her brother taught her to fight with battle axes in each hand. Her father also taught her the finer points of fighting with a dagger.
Guh-Amriel proudly wore the scars of her training where she had been cut under each cheek: once by her father and another time by her brother. They were her badges of honor that served as a remembrance of their physical absence from her life.
She spent those two years taking their place in the tribe as hunters, fishers and protectors against any dangers threatening the lives of the tribe of Guh.
Yet the day finally came when her mother insisted that she submit to the laws of the tribe of Guh and surrender herself to the men of the tribe as a Breeder and Pleasure Partner for the next 10 years.
Guh-Amriel was determined to find her brother, so she refused, because she was convinced that her brother Guh-Amrior was still alive. They had the same birth date, somehow forming a connection between their souls as brother and sister, which she knew was yet unbroken by the 'Death Arrow'!
When the tribal council of elders discovered that Guh-Amriel was refusing to abide by the clan standards of surrendering herself to serve the tribe as a Breeder and Pleasure Partner, the elders decreed that she be bound and branded for her shame upon the tribe!
The dreaded "Brakh No'ra" brand, was forcibly bestowed upon any who would betray the tribal community or jeopardize their already harsh way of life.
The "Brakh No'ra" is the forceful subjugation of the indivudual, where an iron brand is heated over hot coals, and then slowly, painfully pressed into the guilty's flesh, typically upon the forhead or somewhere else difficult to hide their shame. The brand is shaped like a horseshoe bound in barbed brambles. A symbol of slavery or a lack of freedom, one suffering the "Brakh No'ra" is considered an exile not protected by tribal law, and may only seek salvation through rite of combat, the open challenging of the clan leader or opposing clansmen who sought the branding in the firstplace.
Guh-Amriel chose to challenge any opposing clansmen through the rite of combat, to gain her freedom and begin her quest to find her brother Guh-Amrior. Tanil gave her the strength and confident ability to defeat four men among the many who desired to Breed with her and take her as a Pleasure Partner whenever they chose to do so!
She spared their lives, but just barely!
Without further ceremony, Guh-Amriel packed up and left the tribe in good graces, although her mother still ordered her to submit to the tribe as a Breeder and Pleasure Partner; as she had done, as her mother before her had done, as had her grandmother and all the women before her.
Fatherless, brotherless and now motherless; Guh-Amriel set out to find any trace or clue that Guh-Amrior was still alive. She spent two winters among the nomadic tribes of the 'White Stallion', hoping to find his long lost trail and enjoying the comforts of her freedom of choice, during the nights between her cycles when she could freely share her passions and pleasures with a man of her choosing, without delaying her quest to give birth to an unexpected life in her belly.
She parted company with the White Stallions on good terms and with a good horse, journeying away from Albadia and fighting her way across the Bleak Savannah in search of her brother Guh-Amrior.
Losing her horse in a battle in a forest near the Kelder Mountains, she decided to spend her time in the mountains searching for her brother and honing her skills against whatever aberrations chose to confront her, whether they be monstrosities or men.
Her quest took her across the Kelder Steppes to the Hornswythe River, where she chose to camp and scout north and south for any clues of her long lost brother. Always keeping in mind what he had repeatedly told her as they fought each other and trained against each other with their weapons: "One day I will leave the tribe and seek my freedom, as is the way of TAH-nil, for those who truly serve her!"
There were occasions where she met other tribesmen, seekers and adventurers who would show her maps and locations of where a Barbarian answering the description of Guh-Amrior had reportedly been seen or rumored to have wreaked havoc upon some evildoer or monstrosities terrorizing a particular countryside, but Guh-Amriel was unable to read or write and could only trust Tanil to guide her.
Her losses and heaviness of heart were at times almost unbearable, but she found a way to focus her sorrows and channel her angers to survive the diverse dangers and countless challenges of the scarred lands of Nomachron.
"Father ... Follow Freedom ... Brother ... Find Guh-Amrior ... He Lives ... I Know ... He Lives ... Mother ... Must Go ... Mother ... Must Find ... Mother ... Nel ... Mother Nel ... Where ... Mother Nel ... What ... Mother Nel ... "
Guh-Amriel suddenly awoke in a cold sweat from her fevered thoughts; her Jet Black Hair matted with dirt, leaves and smatterings of her own blood with traces of some unknown gore.
Her hair was still barely tied back in a pony tail, but was now a confusion of strands trailing down the middle of her back, the ends where she cut the strands with her Silver Dagger were all tangled and dirty, looking like a ratty tail underneath the skull cap that was twisted askew on her head.
She groaned with every movement, but forced herself to stand up, then removed her skull cap to brush her hair vigorously with her fingers, before readjusting the cap on her throbbing head, which was made from a creature she killed, a raccoon type of creature featuring the black circled eyes, a small protruding snout that affords some protection for her eyes from the sun, but with sharp fangs that protect her temples and curve down below her ears, almost to her jaw line.
Guh-Amriel then located her weapons that were strewn all around the area where some type of force had flung her unceremoniously like a jilted lover. She checked herself for any broken bones or dislocated joints, satisfied that the rigorous years of her Barbarian lifestyle had spared her from more damage than the common mercenary.
After hastily examining her apparel, she was satisfied that a brisk swim or a sudden rainstorm would be all that was required for her garments to be shed of unwanted dirt and gore.
She returned her Silver Dagger to the Left Boot Sheath in her soft soled moccasin type boots that protect her feet and ankles, but rise only about 3 quarters up her shins and well below her knee caps, covering her shapely calves.
She straightened a deer skin type shirt under her Masterwork Hide Armor; then satisfied herself that her war skirt was none the worse for wear. She had made a deer skin type skirt that covers her waist, hips, buttocks and measures about a third of the way down her well shaped thighs, with a slit up each side to provide more freedom in combat or running and jumping.
She had also fashioned some type of a pantie short out of rabbit fur and hide, also utilizing rabbit fur in a type of combat style sports bra to provide her shapely breasts both comfort and protection underneath her deerskin shirt. These were all twisted around, but she was able to adjust them so they were comfortable once again.
Her skirt is made in such a way that her 2 Master Worked Silver Bladed Battle Axes can be easily secured on each hip and readily accessible, like a gunfighter pulling his six shooters from his holster! These she retrieved from where they had been flung, testing them both before returning them to her shapely hips.
Her legs and arms show the signs of countless battles in rough terrain, but these also add to her rugged Barbarian attractiveness! There were a few more bumps and bruises than usual, along with fresh cuts that were already scabbing over in the morning sunshine.
Her hands are tough, but not rough from using oils and she trims her nails short with her Silver Dagger. They would need some more attention as soon as possible.
She also wears a talon and bone necklace; plus wears talon and bone wrist bracelets that are uncomfortable against the face of any unwelcome suitors or enemies she chooses to slap with the back of her hands! These were not damaged from the previous night, but also needed proper adjusting.
Her skirt also has belt pouch type pockets for her potions and herbs and oils and whatever else she may decide to carry, like a pretty gem or more than a few to her liking! These were undamaged.
Everything was all accounted for from the day before, including her Back Pack, Bed Roll, Winter Blanket, Trail Rations (7 days), Water Skin, Sack of Lime, 290 in Gold Funds, Potion of Remove Fear (1), Potion of Cure Light Wounds (1) and her supply of Oil of Magic Weapon (2).
Satisfied that she still had all her belongings, the left handed Barbarian reached for her Master Worked Mighty Composite Long Bow, then adjusted her Quiver across her back, containing 10 Silver Tipped Arrows, 10 Regular Arrows and 2 Arrows of Cure Light Wounds.
Then she checked on her fellow Crimson Blade companions, noting they were still alive, but something was amiss:
"Mother Nel," her words were barely audible, as she involuntarily sucked in her breath at the unexpected sight of her fallen leader!
Alanelia's body is still in a kneeling position, her skin is like obsidian, the vegetation around her seemingly still alive and rooted into the ground.
Ignoring her other Crimson Blade companions, Guh-Amriel stared at Nel a few moments, then composing herself, the Barbarian respectfully approached her fallen leader and sat down in front of her, remembering how Nel had found her along the banks of the Hornswythe River, near the capitol city of Lave, searching for her brother.
Nel had extended a hand of friendship, along with an opportunity to become a welcome member of The Company of the Crimson Blades, promising to help the Barbarian in her quest to locate Guh-Amrior.
Within a few short months, the leader of the Crimson Blades had become like a Mother to Guh-Amriel, a mother found and now a mother lost yet again!
Guh-Amriel now sits before the stone encrusted, thorn wrapped Nel and begins to sing and chant quietly to herself in Elvish, a mourning celebration for her fallen 'mother'.
Satisfied that her other companions are all alive, she ignores them to mourn her 'Mother Nel'.
Xxandra Xanthoros, awoke to find a horror, Nel, the leader of the Crimson Blades was stone dead. She got up slowly as she felt a bit groggy and had a headache. When she did get up, she fell back down in a fit of fury for the first time in her 70 years of life. Memories flooded to her as a shadow being, came into view and attacked the ragtag group of adventurers, it was so dark, the last scene she saw was Nel turning to stone and..and..and not moving.
"Why did this happen!!! What could have done this!! They. Will. Pay!"
Xxandra screamed, no roared for what seemed like hours until she could not breath and had to cough. Sitting down to take a breather, it took a half-hour to calm down and collect herself as she checked to see her blades were still there; they were, the kukri was lying on the ground. She put it back in its sheath and checked to see if anything else was taken or not; oddly enough, they were not.
She went to the body and instead of mourning, she looked at the sickle Nel so favoured. It was in her chest and her hands were gripped tightly on the hilt. She thought about why they came and left after she was down, was it the sickle or Nel herself. Xxandra rememberd what she often said about the blade, it was older than Xxandra by far and it was with her since the Divine Wars, but what were those...things that came.
It was sudden but the feeling of sadness, not hate, not fear, sadness over came Xxandra. Saddened by the loss of a friend, a leader, the ideal keeper she could not help but remember back to when she first met Alanelia...
Walking along the path to the nearest city, Xxandra heard someone call out to her
"Hey, are you a little lost?"
It was a forsaken elf that looked more dangerous than anything else it seemed best to politely ignore her, but the elf seemed persistant.
"Dark elves aren't common these parts you know, haven't seen one for," she thought for a bit "a long while you might say. What brings you out here?"
"Going to town, going about by buisness. Why do you ask?" She tried to be polite, but was quite curious indeed.
"Just the sight of a drow is rare, who would not ask? It would be quite strange indeed if I were not to inquire of your being up in the light of day. It only seems fair."
"Yes, it is fair, now let me go do my buisness." She said partly annoyed, but mostly serious.
Not being put off by this display, The elf simply replied "Of course, but if you are ever in town again and have time to come find me, my name is Alanelia Zelphyr. May I know yours?" Alanelia asked as if pleased.
"Xxandra, that is all you need to know." and walked off in the direction of the city but still felt the look of a merc who had found their mark. Perhaps she had...
That was two years ago now, fifty-two since she had left home.
Home, home, she remembered it well: a large cavern with almost no lights to see. The people stereotyped for ther most part, disdainful and uncaring, there were a few that broke the mold though: herself and her parents. For years thay had gone to visit the towns outside, the people all seemed so welcoming and lighthearted, this did not just open Xxandra's eyes to the fact that there were people who did not want to destroy and dominate because they thought they were superior than the other, it was not a world of hate and terror. This is what made her different, the hope which can stand the test of time, over many a year and generation, hope that can inspire others to do the same.
She knelt down to the stone that held the body and hugged it, no hugged Nel, it may be the last time that she may see her, everyones friend.
Posted on 2013-06-10 at 05:55:55.
Edited on 2013-06-11 at 03:17:14 by Takley
Her eye stung. It felt heavy and swollen and when she forced it open the world was coloured in a deep red haze.
‘Was it always that colour?’ her addled mind wondered, her gaze fixing upon the crimson sky hanging heavily above her. The occasional cart creaked along the darkening, cobbled road below; men and women shouted, belched, argued – but none looked her way.
A sudden flash of pain made her wince, and she swivelled her one functional eye towards its source. It was a large, ugly, black-feathered crow burying its beak busily into the broken flesh of her right arm. She tried to shoo it away, but she could not. Her arms were impaled to a large timber frame, and the useless, flapping motion of her limbs as she tried to move them only caused her scabbed wrists to ooze dark, viscous blood.
“Caw!” the crow bellowed appreciatively moments later; its beak a sparkling red. The others soon answered. First one, and then another, and then hundred more. Her sight was masked by a veil of feathers and pecking, probing beaks whispering the sweet promise of death.
A death she deserved.
But then the flock dispersed – frightened away, caw-ing angrily at being chased from their feast. It was a woman, an elf, so similar to another that she had known.
“Kill me,” she pleaded, her voice croaking horribly in the evening air.
“Kill you?,” the voice replied with the mirth of a debutante spurning an uncomely suitor. “My dear, why ever would I do that?”
The world was quiet. There were no birds desperately tweeting their undying love into the air, or morning breeze rustling through early summer leaves. Ellen’s eyes flickered open and stared silently at a red, red sky, bleeding in the dawn.
From within her mind, a voice whispered, ‘Like a red morn that ever yet betokened / Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds …’
There was more to it. Some song that Alanelia had sung. Something about sailors? Pestilence? She could not remember. But she knew her body ached. That she had been in a fight. That something had happened.
“Ow,” Ellen mouthed. Gloved fingers began to probe a web of bruises and deeper cuts that had fallen upon her form. Her purpely-blue hair was matted with blood, the features of her face – large azure eyes and high cheekbones tapering to full lips and a narrow chin – were caked with dirt and off-set by a bruised and split lower lip. The black silks, leather breeches and vest that she wore were littered with tiny incisions and slowly clotting pools of blood. And several of her buttons now hung by a thread, exposing the top of her pale breasts.
“F***,” Ellen whispered poetically.
A leather boot shot out swift enough to give the crow a grazing blow. Ellen hated crows. She was also tired of playing the victim. She rose unsteadily to her knees and then her feet, and noticed, for the first time, that her swords lay unsheathed by her side, not a speck of blood, or the slightest notch upon them.
‘Did I miss every time?’
She carefully tested the weight. They were definitely her swords. The pattern-welded and light Damascus steel had been especially forged for her by Alanelia. But there was no sign that they had ever been used in a fight the previous night.
‘Shadows’ she remembered, ‘it was like a nightmare. They had come in silence, without warning. Ellen barely had time to set herself when the shadowy shapes appeared among them. Each flashing attack passed harmlessly through their vague, indistinct forms, while their fingers reached through armour and burned cold like shards of jagged ice. Ellen thought they were going to die, and then…
A wolf-like howl tore through the clearing, and, in its centre, knelt Alanelia, encased perfectly in stone. She was beautiful, and, for Ellen, more beautiful still now she was trapped in that moment of endless death. She wished she could mourn. That she knew the words to a prayer or had the heart to say something profound. But all she felt was a numbing coldness.
“We will revenge,” she whispered.
It did not make sense. Or, at least, no sense that Ellen could fathom, as she knelt in the dirt. There was no sign that there had ever been a fight, other than their own injuries, Alanelia’s petrified form, and several silvery scorch marks upon the earth. It was almost as if the shadows had been embedded in the earth by moonbeams falling from the heavens. But who would believe such a story? She had never heard of such magic before, and would not have believed it herself if she had not recalled Alanelia’s desperate last gestures, the moonlight, the final anguished wail.
Nel’s pack slipped open easily enough. It contained nothing she did not expect; travelling gear, a small amount of money, a map, a permit authorizing the Crimson Blades to operate with Vesh. But, in a separate small, compartment, Ellen found a letter.
Please forgive the suddenness of this message. It is imperative that I speak with you; I have heard of your exploits from a variety of sources, including some of my own vigilants.
A situation has arisen that demands action, but I fear that my vigilants are hampered – quite frankly, they are too well known. We need someone of strength and dedication who is willing to undertake a task of no little danger. Rest assured, I would not seek to use outsiders unless it were absolutely necessary and the task of the utmost importance.
I would ask that you come as quickly as you might to the Hall of Command in the Veshian capital of Lave. Present yourself to the Major-domo there, a man named Trophion. Time is of the essence.
I thank you.
With kind regards,
Home Commander of Vesh
“F***,” Ellen mouthed. Not for the first time that day.
A wise man had once said something about life being a stew, but Tasso had always found he was unable to prepare a stew that didn’t taste like offal, so he had always assumed that wise man was being very pessimistic. It also seemed that the wise man had been correct though, as if there was a single expression that defined growing up a Halfling in Calastia it would probably be “s***stew”. The tricky Halfling that now found himself a member of the Crimson Blades knew this better than most.
Tasso made no secret of his less than fortunate past, nor his desires to find himself in a more than fortunate future, and he’d hoped joining up with the Blades would provide a means to that end. Though not the stoutest combatant, his formidable wit and gift for arcane trickery had served him well thus far, just enough that he was becoming optimistic about a future that just years earlier had seemed like a fever dream induced by his cooking. Alanelia had taken him under her wing, and the other adventurers that shared her goals had become his support system. Yes, things were looking up for the chronically downtrodden Tasso.
The mission had been simple enough, round up and remove the Titanspawn that threatened the civilised lands to the south. Standard fare for any adventurer in Ghelspad, and the group had dealt with it with their usual efficiency. It was Nel though, that kept Tasso’s rapt attention, speaking of a new job (speaking being a relative term, as nothing in the way of details were offered) that would provide enough that they need never work again. As fun as it had been to play adventurer and distance himself from the tyranny his people had long toiled under, the idea of doing nothing, growing fat and perhaps getting servants of his own was by far more appealing.
Tasso’s bedroll, though far from the most comfortable thing to have ever been slept on, had served him well, and sleep found him quickly as he rested his head. He remembered looking over at Nel before nodding off, and she gave him the same reassuring look she had a hundred times before. Comforted, Tasso fell asleep with a smile.
He awoke suddenly, not due to a disturbance as one might think, but because of the complete lack of disturbance. Tasso had slept on the road before, hells, he’d lived most of his life without a roof, and not once had he encountered that level of silence. There would be crickets, rodents, dry leaves crinkling, a bubble in a pond even, but at that moment not a sound reached his sensitive ears. He bolted upright, his eyes scanning the darkness but only a moment too late, and they were upon him.
Tasso was not a fighter, he carried no magical arms, and most of his magic was far too ineffective against an ambush in these numbers. From what he could see of his comrades, despite their individual talents they too were overwhelmed, and only Nel stood toe-to-toe with the creatures with any degree of success. A momentary distraction caught his eye, and before he could regain his focus he felt the icy chill of unconsciousness begin to wash over him, followed by a bright blast of light, and then quiet darkness.
For the second time in as many tries, Tasso’s waking was sudden and unpleasant. Spitting out a chunk of earth and grass he’d apparently tilled up with his still aching jaw, Tasso struggled to get himself up, his arms numb from the awkward position he’d laid in. His head was swimming and memories floated to the surface in an uneven and haphazard way. He remembered being attacked, though by what he couldn’t piece together. He remembered a flash of light, the others falling with him under the onslaught, the ineffectiveness of their defense. He couldn’t remember what had happened to Nel, or why he was still alive, that was possibly the most troubling.
He finally raised himself to a sitting position and tried to get his bearings. So great was his confusion that it took him fully a minute to realise he was looking entirely the wrong direction and in fact had been staring pointedly at a small bush that and grown just outside their campsite. Shaking his head, Tasso turned and surveyed the campsite, instantly wishing he was still looking at that bush.
Nine Fox was the first of his friends he saw, and from the look of him the druid was in much the same state as the Halfling. He sat across the campsite looking at one of his ubiquitous crows, looking very much like he’d pulled himself from a newly formed ditch that seemed to have appeared overnight midway through the campsite. Two of the half-elves were already up and gathered around something he couldn’t quite determine, and though Tasso didn’t immediately see Alcorel he soon spotted him not far away, though he had yet to rise. Xxandra was rising as well, and it was her sudden scream that alerted Tasso to the fact that all was in fact not well.
His eyes flitted back to Guh-Amriel and Ellen, and his focus shifted to the object they encircled, its nature now painfully obvious to him. Memories of the night before came rushing back to him, and his questions from earlier were answered, though not in the way he’d hoped. The origin of the flash of light, the final stand of Alanelia, why he was still alive, so overcome was he with realisation that he was barely able to stand.
The look on the now obsidian skinned Nel’s face, her petrified corpse covered in thorny vines burned in his mind. She had taken him in when no one else would, she’d protected him when no one else could and most importantly, she’d offered him a way out, a thing he’d believe didn’t even exist for a person like him. He’d never met a person like her, and now she was gone, leaving behind nothing but a statue, a monument to her own sacrifice.
Unable to imagine what he should do, Tasso sat on the ground despondent. His mind raced but failed to settle on anything but the realisation that they were leaderless, wounded and alone. He looked up at the group and saw Ellenrae intent on a letter she had found amongst their former leader’s belongings. Despite himself, Tasso’s grin returned for a moment as he saw Ellen’s mouth noiselessly whisper a few choice curses.
He thought that was an excellent summation.
OOC: Tasso’s gonna sit there and listen to anyone who has something to say while uncharacteristically remaining silent. He’s interested in the letter Ellen has and will make his way over to see what it says once everyone’s up and about.
From the blackness, the world began to glow red. It seemed like a veil of night was beginning to lift from Alcorel's vision revealing a warm red glow that encompassed all that he saw. Just as slowly feeling began to return to his body, but whether he wanted it back or not was a matter of its own. Small stinging pains wracked his body but one wound pierced his mind sharper than any other. Directly in the center of his chest he could feel a warm, deep wound that really should of killed him.
He slowly began to flex his legs and arms, fortunate to have none of them broken. He felt every source of the pain in his body but as to what caused it he could not immediately remember, all he could draw up in his mind still was utter blackness, while his vision was engulfed with red. Bringing his hand to his face he felt a dozen small lacerations and discovered where they came from. From his waist up Alcorel lay tangled in a thorn bush, what felt like a hundred thorns all pressing into him at once. He brought his fingers to touch his eyes wondering why all he was seeing is red, hoping that his eyes weren't torn out by whatever had done this. He touched and sighed a short painful exhale feeling that his eyes were merely closed, the sun beating down on his face. With more effort than normally needed he opened his eyes.
The sun's stinging light brought back memories that flooded his mind. He could only remember blackness from the night before because that's all there was, black shadows. All he could recall was awakening from his bedroll, half the party already clambering out of their own, and watchin in horror as the shadows themselves manifested to kill them. They all fought valiently, but each fell to their assailers. Alcorel remembered his, it being the most vivid part of the night. A shade had approached him with horrific speed as he tried to manifest a spell, it's icy coldness washing Alcorel as it hovered inches away from him. There was a split second in hesitation in both, and then it struck it's shadowy lance into his chest, one deep deadly wound dropping him. As the shade skirted away it flung him afar into a bush, where his eyes slowly closed, the last thing he can remember being a loud yell and a burst of white light, leaving a red after image on his eye lids as he passed out.
He sat up, wrenching himself away from the bush and slowly regained his composure. Around him he could see his companions all awake, and bloodied just as badly. He began to fish around in his pack for one of his wands, when the most obvious question hit him.
How are we still alive?
The answer was not what he wanted to think about. Some powerful magic was released last night, he could sense it. His whole existence is devoted to magics of both types, and he began to stand on shaky legs with his wand of cure now in hand. His first concern everyone else, and he approached the scene. Tasso was sitting up, but staying quiet which added to the sorrow of the situation that had befallen them. Ellen was standing reading something from a pack, Guh-Amriel was kneeling while praying to herself, Nine Fox was also kneeling on the ground, and Xxandra was hugging something. Alcorel stopped in his tracks when he realized through hazy vision what it was everyone was crowded around.
Nel. She was the only head unnacounted for, and he slowly rounded the statue everyone was crowded around, becoming even more horrified with each step. Distinguishing features of Nel were there, and when he saw from the side her sickle jutting from the chest of the stone, with vines, thorns, and flowers growing from it all, he could do nothing but stand with a grimace. His friend, ally, and mentor now sat as a stone statue, her death saving the six of them. He could only stand and look, his hands moving from his head to his mouth, blood and dirt mixing as he covered his horrified look. Several minutes passed like this, and he then realized that his comrades were just as beaten as he was. There was nothing within his power that could save Nel from this state, but the gods be damned is he was going to let another one of his companions fall.
He was standing behind the four of them as they were close to Nel, with Tasso still sitting nearby. He first tapped the wand to his own wound to close up what bleeding he had re opened from the movement, expending one charge, then moving over to Nine Fox. With a quiet and solumn sounding voice, he offered to heal any wounds.
"Here, my friend. Let me help, I have this just for times like these."
One tap and a mumble of a word and the healing begins, and Alcorel makes his way to each person in the group, making sure none falter.
Posted on 2013-06-13 at 05:24:45.
Edited on 2013-06-13 at 05:54:21 by Jozan1
Ellen stared at the delicate hand upon the letter – obviously from some well-lettered scribe – long after she had read and digested its contents. ‘Had she meant us to go to Lave?’ ‘Were we working for Vesh all this time?’ She had no answers. She knew that there were no answers. But, still Ellen stared at the thin piece of parchment, unable to look away. Tears pooled involuntarily at her eyes, until one plopped onto the page, smearing some of the ink.
“Oh,” Ellen mouthed simply. She hurriedly brushed away the still-unformed tears, and looked over her shoulder, hoping that no one had seen her moment of weakness. No one had, except Tasso it seemed. The halfling stared at her, a grin plastered over his boyish face.
“Go kiss a succubus,” she cursed back. Ellen liked to curse.
“Look, we’ve got to decide what we want to do,” Ellen added in a loud voice, not just at the halfling, but to all those that had once formed the Crimson Blades. The half-elven woman slowly rose to her feet. “We can either become spivs – each go on our separate way. Or we can follow this,” Ellen added waving the now tear-stained letter. “It’s a letter from the Home Commander of Vesh, he wanted us to go to Lave for some urgent task. I don’t care what it is. But maybe it’s because of this that we were attacked last night. Maybe by doing this we can find out who took Nel, and then make them bleed and make them hurt.”
“Anyway it’s what I intend to do,” Ellen concluded. “And you berks can come along too if you like. Either way, you shouldn’t stay here. Whatever it was that came for us last night, could come back.”
“Here, my friend. Let me help, I have this just for times like these.”
The voice of Alcorel sounded far more somber than Nine Fox was used to hearing it. He turned his head to the source, seeing that his half-blooded companion bore a wand in his hand. That explained the offer, something to heal the hurts of the the injured. He was reasonably sure that Nel would not be remedied by this, but the druid gave just the slightest of smiles from behind his gnarled beard, and shook free the crow perched upon his forearm.
“Thank you, Alcorel...” He extended a hand to receive the offering from his friend, and with a tap upon his forearm brought a warm sensation to the pains that filled his body. Possessing similar magics of his own, though mustered in a different form, Nine Fox recognized the feel of his injuries repairing themselves at an accelerated rate. “Your kindness goes a long way in this dark time.”
He wondered if the half-elf had a better idea of what had happened the previous night, but he had already move onwards from Nine Fox, likely to tend to the hurts of the others. A suitable reason, he would inquire afterwards. It was unlikely they would be making any sort of rapid progress in any direction here, and one thing that the druid had learned over time is that, like the growth of a tree, things could take their time, and in the end, they would generally get to where they needed to be.
Nine Fox lowered himself to a seated position, and absent-mindedly dug his fingers into the soil beneath. Rooting himself was a comforting feeling, the cool earth surrounding. It left him a feeling a little more in touch with the simple things in life, and from the way things appeared to be... He and his friends were now very small things amidst something very big.
Ellen had discovered something, and was addressing the group with a letter in her hand. She commanded action, direction, and apparently, the paper in her grip had borne instructions to go to Lave, given by the Home Commander himself. Nine Fox Silent Elm knew not who this was, but it didn’t altogether matter to him, either. It was direction, and right now, he reasoned that one of the best things they could be doing was not sitting idly to wait for this to undo itself.
“I will join you to Lave, Ellen.” The druid spoke from his seat, giving his head a slight shake to toss his thick locks away from his face. “I serve no purpose in sitting here. Perhaps this Commander will know something that Nel never shared with us. And even if not, your words speak truly. I am unclear as to how we survived the night prior, but whatever happened took somebody much greater than myself. A second encounter would likely lead to the demise of many.”
“Go kiss a succubus.”
The curse only made Tasso grin more, despite the grave nature of the situation the group was in. He couldn’t help enjoying it when ladies cursed, though Tasso supposed Ellen was about as traditional a lady as he himself was a giant. Still, she was as close to a friend as Tasso allowed himself to have and the sight of a tear on her normally stoic face brought the Halfling back to reality.
Alcorel had raised himself out of the dust, and had begun making his rounds; distributing the divine magic he practiced to heal the group’s wounds. Tasso accepted it gratefully; nodding appreciatively as he felt the magic close cuts and wash away his bruises. He no longer felt as if he’d been riding on the undercarriage of a wagon, always a good sign, and perhaps now he’d have the strength to continue his journey. Not that he knew where his journey was continuing to.
As if he reading his thoughts, Ellen spoke up again, and this time without cursing immediately, something Tasso considered very disappointing.
“We can either become spivs – each go on our separate way. Or we can follow this,” Ellen added waving the now tear-stained letter. “It’s a letter from the Home Commander of Vesh, he wanted us to go to Lave for some urgent task. I don’t care what it is. But maybe it’s because of this that we were attacked last night. Maybe by doing this we can find out who took Nel, and then make them bleed and make them hurt.”
The words made sense, but not for the reasons Tasso would have thought. He’d joined the company for fame, riches and all the food, wine and women they would bring along, and exclusively those things. He’d always figured that’s why he stayed around, but something in Ellen’s words spoke true. Nel had done alright by him, even without providing the riches and the fame and so on, and her loss stung. He found himself wanting to go, not for the reward, but for the group and their loss. He wanted to do right by Nel.
Nine Fox was quick to add his assent, and the diminutive Halfling sprung easily to his feet to add his two drakes.
“Well El m’dear, I don’t suppose I could go be lettin’ you and Foxxy here be wonderin’ off into this wild n’crazy venture there without me along then now could I?” Tasso blurted, seemingly not pausing to breathe. “Wouldn’t seem right proper good at’all and for the life of me I’m lost as right’s-fack out here in the wilds and all and I don’t right feel like being left hereabouts.”
Tasso began scampering about, gathering up his belongings, before looking over at Ellen with his largest, most cheese filled grin.
“Not to mention the pair of ya’s barely have the wherewithal to talk you’s ways through the purchase of a fine ham let alone a Knight Commander.”
He paused as a rumble in his stomach reminded him of something else. He looked about the group.
“Speakin’ of it though as we are…does anyone have ham then?”
OOC: Tasso will accept any and all healing...or ham. Also he's firmly on board to be on their way as soon as they're ready.
Posted on 2013-06-13 at 18:33:20.
Edited on 2013-06-13 at 18:41:57 by Grugg
Guh-Amriel finished her mourning chant for the loss of her 'Mother Nel' and was about to rise to her feet, when she felt a slight tap on her back below her left shoulder, followed by a surge of power that cleansed and tingled the cuts and bruises throughout her body, plus her very bones.
She stood up abruptly and looked down in the face of Alcorel, then eying the wand in his hand, she said in broken Common: "More Power! Feed Rage! Me Help You!"
It was not that she was unable to hold a conversation with complete sentences, quite the contrary, but when she spoke in Common, she rarely used many words at one time.
However, she spoke fluently in Elvish when she had a mind to, especially when speaking to Ellen about matters of a mission, or for just carrying on a conversation. She honored the memory of her father that way, choosing to speak more fluently in Elvish, than she did in Common.
She held out her wrists towards Alcorel, indicating that she wanted an increase of healing power to bring her to full strength, because she was planning on taking point, once she understood the direction that Ellen would indicate from reading the letter.
(OOC: Once she has been given additional healing power from Alcorel):
Guh-Amriel approached Ellen and began conversing in Elvish, indicating that she would like a remembrance of Nel, by carrying one or more of the liquid vials, but Ellen wisely declined. The Barbarian finally settled on something more useful to her personal use and the good of the party, rather than something that in her possession might prove harmful to the remaining Crimson Blades!
Satisfied with the gift of Nel's Flint and Tinder, she proceeded to ask Ellen what direction the party would be taking?
OOC: Upon receiving directions, she addresses her surviving comrades: "Me Hurt! You Hurt! We Avenge Nel Now!"
Nodding to each of her Crimson Blade comrades, she set off in no particular direction that would indicate that she understood where Ellen indicated they would be traveling to.
But before anyone could question where the Barbarian was going by herself, she stopped, turned and pointed to Tasso saying:
"Me Get You Ham!" OOC: Guh-Amriel is on the hunt for wild boar to deliver to Tasso before starting their journey!
Ellen had found the past year, travelling with Alanelia and the Crimson Blades, difficult. It was not the fighting or the hurtling headlong into danger that perturbed her. She was used to that. It was the fact that her companions were quite mad.
‘What was I thinking?’ Ellen held the bridge of her nose, and shook her head from side to side. ‘Tree-huggers, God-fiddlers and halflings. I could have just left and been free of these berks.’
Alcorel had wandered up and had taken away most of Ellen’s fatigue and the physical pain from her many wounds with just a wordless tap of a stick. He didn’t even ask for payment; not even a fumble behind a bush or a quick tug from her hand.
And now, Guh-Amriel was yammering incessantly at her in Elvish. During the months she had spent together, the other woman had yet to realise that Ellen barely understood a word she was saying. The accent and rapidity of her speech were almost impenetrable. Ellen had currently decided that her fellow half-elf had decided to copulate with a pig before heading out. It seemed the sort of thing the barely-civilized barbarian would get up to.
“Yeah whatever, just try to be quick will you,” Ellen replied, trying to cleanse the image from her mind.
Posted on 2013-06-14 at 11:42:04.
Edited on 2013-06-14 at 11:42:24 by Ginafae
Standing at the edge of the camp, Alcorel looked over the group and gave a smile. He knew the small wand he purchased before their last endeavour would come in handy in a pinch, he just had no idea how much.
NineFox was the first he had approached, and the gruff looking man gladly accepted his healing.
“Thank you, Alcorel, your kindness goes a long way in this dark time.” He gave a slight bow and smiled, happy that even with the loss of their friend, politeness was not lost on the wise man.
Speaking in a friendlier but soft tone as is usual of him, Alcorel replied.
"It is at times like these where we must be the most kind and caring towards each other, for who else can we turn to but ourselves? I know you are a very self-sufficient man, but please if you need something do not hesitate to come to me." With words traded, Alcorel made his way to another two of the group without hesitation, next coming to Tasso and Xxandra. With an exchange of smiles and acknowledgment, he healed any serious wounds and then moved on.
Guh-Amriel was next, the large half elf from nomadic bringings mourning in her own way, a chant of passing from what Alcorel could surmise. As she was about to stand, he laid his hand on her shoulder, then the wand. With a brief touch divine powers channeled to her, healing whatever was most dire.She then stood quickly at the sudden surge and turned.
"More Power! Feed Rage! Me Help You!"
Alcorel smiled as she spoke to him in her broken common tongue, though he knew she was much better at speaking her native tongue of elvish. He spoke back to her kindly, and in elvish.
"My friend, I must make sure others are healed of wounds that are life threatening, but soon after I should be able to help you more."
He took her hand in his, and with his other he pat her hand as a sign of good faith and friendship, then let it slip away as he moved on.
Last but not least was Ellen. Without a word exchanged but a few heartfelt gestures, he healed her until she was seen fit to function. He took a few steps back and tucked his wand in his belt, thinking of what Ellen had said earlier.
“Look, we’ve got to decide what we want to do, we can either become spivs – each go on our separate way. Or we can follow this. It’s a letter from the Home Commander of Vesh, he wanted us to go to Lave for some urgent task. I don’t care what it is. But maybe it’s because of this that we were attacked last night. Maybe by doing this we can find out who took Nel, and then make them bleed and make them hurt. Anyway it’s what I intend to do. And you berks can come along too if you like. Either way, you shouldn't stay here. Whatever it was that came for us last night, could come back.”
NineFox was next to speak, giving Alcorel more time to think up a reasonable response.
“I will join you to Lave, Ellen. I serve no purpose in sitting here. Perhaps this Commander will know something that Nel never shared with us. And even if not, your words speak truly. I am unclear as to how we survived the night prior, but whatever happened took somebody much greater than myself. A second encounter would likely lead to the demise of many.”
Up until now, Tasso had been quiet, but like his true character he now spoke up and his words made Alcorel chuckles to himself, everyone's true colors slowly coming back.
“Well El m’dear, I don’t suppose I could go be lettin’ you and Foxxy here be wonderin’ off into this wild n’crazy venture there without me along then now could I? Wouldn’t seem right proper good at’all and for the life of me I’m lost as right’s-fack out here in the wilds and all and I don’t right feel like being left hereabouts. Not to mention the pair of ya’s barely have the wherewithal to talk you’s ways through the purchase of a fine ham let alone a Knight Commander. Speakin’ of it though as we are…does anyone have ham then?”
Through all the pain, both emotional and physical, Alcorel did not notice that it was about past the time they would have their morning meal, the hunger pangs beginning to strike. With his thoughts almost collected he was ready to speak, but Guh-Amriel spoke up, curt and to the point.
"Me Hurt! You Hurt! We Avenge Nel Now! Me Get You Ham!" she gestured to Tasso, whos clambering for ham had made him a bit hungrier than he'd of liked. Before anyone could leave the camp, he finally added his piece.
"Now is the time that we all should be closest together, a time of vulnerability that anyone can take advantage of. At one point we all were just a company of blades, but now we are friends, and friends I do not leave behind. My travels will be dictated by your actions and whatever everyone chooses I'll be there to help." He motioned to the petrified Nel, the living statue of plants and obsidian something he never dreamt he would see. "And Corean damn me if I don't try to help her with all my being!"
He walked over to Nel, and knelt down to examine the hilt of the sickle. " I've heard of many magics that turn flesh to stone, but nothing that ever would require something as heinous as what this looks like, a sacrifice of some sort. I know the sickle has been magical for some time and it's properties are mighty." Alcorel gently stroked Nel's fingers, which still grasped the hilt of the sickle." Her grip is still tight on the hilt, and the plants sprouting from her are thriving..."He sat for a minute still knelt in front, his fingers tapping his face. Suddenly he turned, his eyes wide and looking hopeful he looked at the group. "I think we can save her, I don't think she's gone forever..."His voice drifted off as he thought, then with more purpose than usual in his tone he spoke up. "There are magics that also turn stone to flesh, but I feel those wouldn't even be good enough here. This magic feels old, an ancient power that predates anything I've seen or even read about in all my years. Maybe there is also an equivalent to this ancient magic that will turn the stone to flesh, but if there is it would be something of great power. Also these plants, I feel they are very important, or else they wouldn't be apart of the spell. If something happens to them, who knows what could happen to her inside. We must keep them alive somehow until we can determine if there's a chance of saving her."
As he looked at the group he stood, and realized that some of them were still wounded, just not mortally. He couldn't do anything except think about the problem of Nel, but here he could act and do more good.
"My apologies, here it seems I missed that some of us are still a bit battered from last night. We can't do anything for her now, so let's work on ourselves." He then touched his wand once more to himself, to Tasso, and to NineFox.
Clasping his hands and bowing slightly, he smiled.
"Wonderful. Now that we're in much better of a condition than earlier, and with Guh-Amriel going on her hunt, I shall use this time to pray and make sure we are prepared in case anything happens on our travels. May the gods bless us all in our endeavors."
Alcorel then turned, his large loose braid swinging behind him. He walked to the edge of a clearing under a tree and knelt, reading from a small book as he prepared his divine spells for the day.
Posted on 2013-06-14 at 23:09:49.
Edited on 2013-06-14 at 23:11:51 by Jozan1
Xxandra stood up, it took a bit, she could just ask one question to herself again and again "What do I do now?". The feeling of rage would not go away, questioning it only made it worse, tears welled up in her eyes. A friend lost, she and the others fought by Nel's side, protecting her as needed, being protected at times. It was true, the fight made a bond stronger, it made you trust them, realize they were worth protecting. She had seen it a few times before, int he towns she visited with her parents when she was younger, the bonds that could not be broken despite time and famine, it was a wonder that cannot be truly known unless you had been through it.
Whilst she was thinking, Alcorel came around healing the party, she could only nod with gratutude and just stand there. She fingered the hilt of her trusted kukri, Morindar, it may not be strong but like her friends, when combined with the weapons of the others, a little strength went a long way, not that she didn't have more weapons on her if she needed them.
Ellen called out to the group, she snapped out of her daze enough to hear it more clearly, at least the main point,
"I am going to Lave, if you want to come, come." The others were going, Guh-Amriel went hunting but was still going, that left her...
"I'm in, we may find those bastards that got Nel, though I wonder why they came?"
Was it her rage or the group of friends that made not think it out, what ever it was, it was final, the fight is going to them, whoever they are.
The sun was high in the midday sky, its warmth unabated by the rolling hills of the Kelder Steppes. There was little in the means of shade, though brush and foliage did grow low here and there; a testament to nature's vitality in lieu of a devastating past. The rushes and grasses would soak in the water beneath the surface, made plentiful from the nearby Blood Basin, and rainfall had thankfully been fairly steady through the transition of spring into summer. The golden wash the sun cast over the world was pleasant, calming, and coupled with the distant sound of chirping birds and other small critters would normally put ones heart at ease.
There hearts of the six gathered round this day however were far from content. The night before had left them injured, confused, and without a decisive leader. With Alanelia Zelphyr still petrified, her pained visage immortalized across her normally fair features the Crimson Blades were left in a state of shocked disarray, and each member handled the bleak situation in their own way. They took time to mourn, show anger, voice their confusion and sorrow, their loyalty and respect for their fallen comrade, and though none possessed the means with which they might save her from her stone prison, all were dedicated to trying to uncover the means to free Nel, to return her to flesh.
They had collected their thoughts, and their things, amongst which lay Nel's own supplies, in which Ellen had discovered a missive of seemingly dire urgency from the Capital of Lave, requesting the help of the Crimson Blades. With little other options, the group had agreed to travel there and see if perhaps there was a connection between this letter and last nights attack. Though the party held no strict marching order, they made their way across the uneven landscape of the Kelder Steppes, making their way for the small town of Ezel to rest and resupply before making the longer journey to Lave. They travelled fairly light, and they made good ground for the first few hours considering they were without mounts. Every now and then Guh-Amriel would stray from their group, seemingly on the hunt for wild boar to fulfil a promise to the halfling Tasso.
Of course the problem with this course lay in the fact that though the barbarian was skilled in both bow and spear, axe and knife, she was not among the finer trackers of her tribe, or among anyone for that matter. Her loud approach to almost everything did little to allow her any element of surprise, and she could not decipher boar tracks from the myriad of other prints and indentations along the route they travelled. Once the proud half elven warrior thought she had definitely found her quarry, only to trounce through the brush like a thundering army of one, to come across the already slain carcass of a small antelope looking beast, it's body already having provided sustenance to something higher up on the food chain, as it had recently been gorged upon by some other feral beast or beasts.
With the sun cresting the overhead veil and Guh Amriel returned to the party after shouts and screams of frustration finally allowed the others to find her amongst the tall grass. It would seem they would be going without their ham this day, much to the dismay of all, particularly the short one. Continuing further towards Ezel, it was estimated they would arrive around dusk if they kept up their pace without further distractions. The group had plenty of time to voice concerns and questions as they travelled, the trip uneventful for the next few hours into the afternoon. It was then, as they came over a rise they spotted it in the distance.
Down in the next valley between the hills was the makings of a bonfire, piled high with timber around a mostly stripped single tree. Gathered around were small makeshift tents of pieced together bits of cloth and support. There were a dozen or so figures moving about that could be seen ,small of stature with skin marked with hues from green to brown and grey. Many carried cruel implements resembling proper weapons, crudely made spears and swords, axes and the like.
It would seem as though you have come across a small goblin encampment. Though its inhabitants do not seem to have yet seen you at your distance of roughly four hundred feet. You can clearly see them milling about the area. Most noticeable however would be remnants of a ransacked wagon, its canvas top shredded and one large wheel obviously shattered. Though more intricate details could not be made out from this distance, clear sight was not required for the party to hear the shrill scream of a woman desperate for her life coming from the area. The goblins around cheered at her terror, and more circled closer to the wagon, as others continued to stoke the fire preparing for an afternoon roast.
OOC: (The party is far enough away to skip this encounter altogether if they decide, otherwise, the option to intervene is yours to make. If you decide to partake in this skirmish I'll include a rough map of the layout.)
If you decide to skip it I'll update as such, and either way we can expect an update as soon as a decision has been made.