It seemed that the group was in agreement that the feral couple would join them. Although they weren't eager to go to Pike, the two did seem to realize that it was a better option than joining the remains of their comrades outside the shelter. They had been the lucky ones of the group.
Daxos watched the pair a lot during the journey. They seemed a loving couple that had suffered a lot. But they had also contributed to the suffering of others. They had attacked Dax's group. He couldn't help but wish them well. The world needed more, not less, people. And it needed people that could love. But it needed people that work for all, not those who would steal from others and leave them to die. What type were these two? As they traveled Dax stayed fairly near the couple. He tried to talk to them - in particular he wanted to know how they survived in the wild. Where did they get food? Water? Was there enough shelter available? Where? What sorts? He knew he wouldn't learn how to survive as a feral in one trip, but he had a suspicion that such knowledge might come in handy sometime.
As they approached the town of pike Daxos saw the ladder up to the docks. There should have been water. The world told them all of the time that it had changed. It never let them forget the catastrophe. But, the world persisted and so did Dax. He followed the group up the ladder and looked at the impressive walls of the city. Did ferals really believe they could take such a place? He had seen defenses before in his scavenging trips through the ruins near his hometown. He was curious how those of Pike would compare upon closer examination.
"Halt who goes there!" The cry came from above as they approached the gate.
It was a classic call and even made Dax grin a bit. Stereotypes were alive and well in Pike it seemed. But it didn't seem to be his place to answer. He paused and listened to hear how the clerics would respond. Time to see what Pike wanted to do with its future.
To say the journey over the past few days had been grating was a gross understatement. Xana was surprised that the band of altruistic fools had not joined hands with the ferals to sing hymns of hope over the whole trek. Their optimism was sickening. Worst of all, she had been forced to smile along with them lest her ruse be broken. In this world survival depended on community and she was reminded daily of that loathsome truth.
Her attempts at drawing more tales of stars out of the feral lovers had proved ineffectual. A thread of magic would have loosened their tongues, but that was not an option. She needed to get one of them alone. Much of the journey had been spent in conversation with the clerics. Their differences could not be greater, but they understood one another. If there was any chance of influencing the course of events, it would be with them.
Dust swirled around them in the high noon heat as they approached the great polished stone wall and the town of Pike. Xana let her gaze trace along the polished surface. Odd for it to have been kept so pristine in these desolate times. Was this all the citizens had to hold onto?
When the call came down from the wall, Xana looked to the clerical pair to make the introductions. If the Pikesmen welcomed any among them, it would be the clerics and their water.
It was a long journey. Though Damian was glad that it was long.
Much better to be long and safe rather than to have whatever happened to him befall the rest of us.
As he approached the archway, the sight of it a welcome and familar sight, he heard someone call out to them:
Who goes there?
Damian waited a moment, feeling slight trepidation coming back home. He was heavily scarred. He'd heard stories of the Feral before, sporting their scars around like badges of honour. He hoped no one would treat him differently. He waited a moment; letting his companions speak before he called back: (including the priests and assuming no one else did, if someone speaks, he'd just be silent)
"It's Damian! I come bringing priests!". His face grimaced slightly at the barrels of water that they had. That were lost. He suppressed a sigh, hoping the clerics would be able to save his family.
Posted on 2016-11-21 at 09:06:12.
Edited on 2016-11-26 at 16:56:22 by Impulse
Clary walks beside Silinrul,her fingers entwined in his fur. She was tired of walking and she just wanted to sleep but the world had never dealt her a kind hand.
Lost in her inner thoughts she didn't realize they came upon Pike. Just catching the tail end of the question she blinked and shook her head clearing it from the confusion haze in her mind. She could help no one when her spirit was distracted. She stood there waiting for someone to speak up. The haze still clouding her mind she vaguely heard Damian answer.
Sensing her unease Silinrul bumped her gently against her leg and huffed assurinf the human-wolf that he would always be right by her side as he had been since she was but a child-pup.
Posted on 2016-11-22 at 20:06:55.
Edited on 2016-11-22 at 20:44:18 by SilentOne
A man stepped out from the guardroom wearing armor that clearly hadn't been made for him. It was a bit overlarge and seemed it had been donned with little experience. A mass of brown hair had escaped the coif and threatened to get in his eyes. "Damian! You've returned! I..." He looked at his scarred friend and heaved a sigh. "Your face." "Tommen," Damian began...
Pike's polished walls belied their interior. Beyond the broken wood gate lay the bones of a once-vast city now reduced to little more than ash and ruin. What guard the city had was barely trained, and able to spare only a single man to watch the gate. That man now led the travelers through the city. His name was Tommen, and he bore a shield emblazoned with the city's namesake, a great fish, swimming a bend sinister in faded blue.
They passed the remains of a great market square, but no rabble broke the stillness of this day. No merchants plied their trade here any longer. Row upon row of houses lined the streets. Most were missing a roof, many were crumbled, many were burnt. It was as if the entire city were a grave marked by a fabulous headstone, and the buildings inside were the bones.
After a time, they reached a place where the ruins seemed more recent. Broken edges of wood and glass were sharper, and there were places where the charcoal had not yet washed away. A smell of smoke still dimly pervaded the air. In places, the damage had been repaired, though perhaps hastily as though to keep the rain out. Still there was no sign of life, no shops open or even faces visible. A temple stood here, the rose and sparrow of the twin goddesses carved into the face of each of its stones. It had not been destroyed, but each stained window had been smashed and repaired with rubble.
"It's hot." Geoff of Broyhill remarked.
"Yes," replied Tommen. "We have been without water for a week. Our reserve is depleted. We took a vote and decided it was best to stay inside, where the sun doesn't sap the water out of us."
Anyone who spared a glance at Matzan and Ylena (for they walked together) would have seen neither one take their eyes off the ground. They did not smile or speak as they shuffled through the remnant of the city. This, then, was what Matzan had meant when he said they had "broke Pike."
Tommen had allowed the feral into the city only because Father Tolly made it a condition of his own entrance. He stopped leading for a moment to speak directly to them. "Your lives will be in the hands of the people you destroyed. I hope you do not expect mercy."
They did not respond.
Shortly they arrived at an imposing building. It had not escaped the scouring of the Feral, but perhaps had survived a little better than the others. It, in fact, seemed built for that very purpose. Even from outside, the walls seemed thick. A sharp, stark roof pierced the sky above it, clearly designed to shed every drop of horrible rain water. It lacked windows entirely.
Tommen stopped in front of the door and explained, "This is the central hall of Pike. A number of tunnels have been built through the city for movement after sundown. They all connect here. I'm given to understand Lake City has devised a similar system. Garrat, Tolly. Please come with me. Athelia and Geoff, if you'll attend the Feral we will show them to their cage. The rest of you may find respite inside, or take a bit of a look around the city." He smirked then, mirthlessly. "You won't find much."
A sursurration of voices was immediately audible as he led the Priests, the Feral and their attendants into the hall.
Posted on 2016-11-27 at 12:46:41.
Edited on 2016-11-27 at 12:48:48 by Schnozzle
Daxos looked around as the group was led through Pike. His hopes had been raised by the bright and shining walls of the city, but inside it was worse than he had imagined. It didn't seem like there was much left. He looked at the Ferals and thought about their part in the cities decline. It seemed hard to fathom. But so it was. How would the city treat these two, he wondered. He hoped there was a way to . . .he wasn't even sure what. But he hoped something could be worked out.
When they got to the stone fortress of a city hall the priests were led inside and the ferals were led to their cells. Daxos wanted a look around. He had spent much of his young life so far digging through the ruins of cities near his home. This city was still alive, if barely. But he was still curious what might remain.
After the priests and ferals had disappeared, he spoke to the others. "I want to look around. The guard seems to be right that there isn't much here, but I'd still like to see it. If anyone wants to join me they are welcome. I'm not expecting much, but it seems more interesting than sitting here. I'll probably head in the direction of the river."
He waited for a minute to see if anyone wanted to join him. Then he headed in the direction of the river. He wasn't looking for anything in particular. Maybe something that struck a chord from his previous explorations? Maybe something that looked interesting? Maybe people? He wandered around in the ghost of a town.
Xana pursed her lips as Tolly and Garret followed Tommen deeper into the wretched city. Were they still in Lake City she would have certainly joined the priests in council. Her age alone offered significant clout in these matters, and she did not like letting the pair wander off to volunteer them for more altruistic buffoonery. Still, demanding a place with them now would require revealing something of her true nature to those here. It would be a petulant act, a childishly ineffectual one at that. There was little doubt that her voice of dissension would fall flat here and it would reveal too much of what she kept secret. Better to work from the shadows.
She needed time to consider a pathway to the stars, to find a door back to Faerie. It was unlikely, but perhaps something in the stinking hovel would spark inspiration for a plan.
Daxos' voice broke her reverie, "I want to look around. The guard seems to be right that there isn't much here, but I'd still like to see it. If anyone wants to join me they are welcome. I'm not expecting much, but it seems more interesting that sitting here. I'll probably head in the direction of the river."
Xana smiled, "To the river then."
She rather liked the small man, even if she did have to look past his earnest love of the common man. That could be fixed given time. A walk to the river might well be the perfect start to a beautiful corruption.
The great hall was laid out in a semicircular fashion with seating for perhaps a thousand people. That number seemed ambitious now. Perhaps two seats of five were filled. It was as roughly constructed inside as it was outside, clearly a place of post-rainfall provenance. Still, a cool breeze blew through it from an unseen source, denying the midday heat its promised toll.
At the center of the room, which would normally have served as a speaking area, several tables had been arranged, and on them was what turned out to be quite a lot of food. Much of it had been eaten by now, but the tables didn't have any lack for cheese and bread. Several dishes of black beans and carrots dotted the tables as well. It seemed, at least, that Pike wouldn't starve.
So it was, when the door opened to many faces and whispers, that Damian Dawnshine, whose face would be remembered if it weren't scarred by his journey, strode through behind priests and prisoners. Following him was Jacob, his rescuer and the man to whom every person in Pike owed their life. Clary entered last, and with her the great wolf Silinrul. The whispering grew louder, but if anyone had been expecting a jeer for the Feral, they would have been mistaken. No voice was raised, for a great many of them had been taken by thirst.
Faces turned to the newcomers. A halfling man with mousy hair seemed to greet them with his eyes. An elf looked warily at Silinrul, her distrust shining through blue eyes. Several human men and women along with their families shuffled out of the way while a fat gnome looked up at the strangers, arms akimbo.
Tommen disappeared through a door at the back of the hall, quickly followed by the two priests, the two prisoners, and the two volunteers. Damian, Jacob, and Clary found themselves alone among the citizens of Pike.
Silinrul let his eyes gaze around the many faces of Pike, walking beside Clary he bumped her leg with his massive head and let out a low huff. He needed to keep a close eye on his human-wolf. Too many enemies.
Clary felt her beloved companion bump her lightly, while she took strength from the wolf she still felt scared being in the center of attention within so many strange faces. She wanted to turn tail and run, hide within a cave of darkness.. where it was safe. But Silinrul hadn't yet bolted from the group she had decided to stay. Her wolf had yet to steer her wrong. She spotted an elf eyeing Silinrul, keeping her fingers entangled in his fur she watched the stranger closely. She had no one to trust but the massive beast at her side.
It weighed on Jacob, to look out at the faces of the thirsty. Their arrival was to have been one of triumph and celebration; it would have restored these people some of their hope.
Now they simply looked on. Jacob shook himself slightly, clearing his mind. He had thought the stares almost accusatory, but it was all in his head. Water would be restored now that clerics were here. But instead of boosting the towns morale with a large supply, it would trickle out as it could be spared. Sustaining, but not soothing. It meant that the breaking of the town would always be with them, a wound in the back of their minds.
Trying to not to dwell on such a sad thought, Jacob glanced at his companions. Clary stood as if rooted, clutching at the wolf who seemed to be her only companion. The attention of even so few people seemed to wilt her. He moved towards her, intending to attempt reassurance.
He spoke softly, so as not to include their audience in her business. "Clary, have your wounds healed fully? Any lingering trouble?"
Clary, in midst of her trying to find a way to return to the caves, heard a vague voice calling her name. Turning she saw the man that had saved her life on the way to Pike, asking about her wounds.
"I suppose so. Still hurts to breathe in alittle bit but I manage. Thank you." She hadn't said what she was thanking him for, but she had just about to turned tail and ran if not for the man who had risked his life for her own.
Silinrul huffed and bumped Jacob gently in the leg as his own show of trust.
Jacob slowly reached down to scratch the wolf bumping against him behind the ears. He nodded at Clary's response. "Let me know if it doesn't fade. Healing magic isn't always as effective as we might wish anymore, and I have some things that might help."
He looked down as the wolf butted against him again, then moved to take his place next to Clary, who gave a slight nod. "I'll let you know...."
Jacob gave his own nod, glancing down at the canine as it resumed its self-appointed role of guarding the woman. They appeared closer than was normal for a ranger and companion. "Your wolf. Does it have a name?"
Gray eyes softened as they rested on her companion, and answered in a matching tone, "Silinirul. His name is Silinirul." They snapped back to Jacob, her whole body stiffening. There was a hint of warning, the slightest trace of fear as she continued, "Why? You can't have him."
Jacob tried to smile reassuringly, something he didn't have much practice with, and gently shook his head. "He's a fine partner, and I wouldn't dream of parting you from each other."
Clary seemed to relax, but still clutched slightly at her companion. The woman gathered herself as they moved away from what, in her opininion was a more uncomfortable topic. "Thank you. Uhm... you said I very nearly died...." She eyed Jacob again. "How close was I?"
Jacob hesitated. He didn't want to worry her, but guessed that she'd prefer a grim truth to an airy lie. "Without Grum's blessing, you and Silinrul would have been left to the rain."
He was proven right when Clary smiled, perhaps sense his brief mental struggle. Looking again at her partner, she only said, "Thank you, for telling me."
Jacob nodded briefly. Clary seemed to have reached her limit, and Jacob had no desire to press further. He turned and looked at the rest of the room. The elf seemed to be distincly uncomfortable with Silinrul's presence, and he moved toward her, hoping to be sufficiently distracting as to head off a confrontation.
Damian walked along the town with sadness, although at first, he thought he had been the most to suffer because of this ordeal, he saw that was not true.
The faces that he had lived with all his life were tired, their thirst plain as day. Many throats were dry, too dry to speak.
And although they had brought clerics, they had lost all the water. Several barrels. Lost.
He sighed with anger, directed towards the feral, and then towards himself. I should be happy. Grateful that I have these abilities, that I survived and that the clerics are here. But damn. So much water.
In the distance, he saw the same red hawk flying and he smiled slightly. I should learn more about these abilities of mine. And I should thank the others for all their help.
((OOC: after speaking with some of the towns people, going to experiment and find out what he can and cannot do with his druidic powers, as well he is going to go thank Clary, Jacob and Daxos immensely for their help, of course the clerics as well.))
Daxos looked around the city with Xana as the two of them had headed back towards the town hall. The city was a depressing sight. Was this what most, or even all, civilized settlements were reduced to? At best you could say they survived, and even that just barely.
The town hall itself was a decent structure - not exciting or indicating any wealth or civic pride, but at least showing common sense and an ability to build solid structures that could withstand the rains. Inside the people assembled, at least some of them. But Dax hadn't seen much sign of people throughout the city. He saw the rest of the crew he had come tot he city with, indicated the direction to Xana, and the two of then headed that way.
When they reached the others he spoke. "How have things gone here? Neither the ferals nor the clerics are here. Do you know anything of what is being decided?"
(He waits for a response. Assuming he gets the basics that have been posted already, he continues.)
"The town is empty. The buildings in disrepair. That much you saw for yourself on the way in. But it is the same all over - we headed down towards the river bed. It might be worth knowing that while the wall looks solid and clean all around the town, it isn't a great barrier anymore. There are gaps under it in many places where the rains have washed away the soil. Do not assume that attack could not come from any direction. The wall is not a solid barrier. But also, should an attack come - if you head to the wall you will likely find a way out. The wall will not trap you in. I hope it does not come to that, but I can see how feral raids could happen."
And now Daxos leaned back and waited. It remained to be seen what the good people of Pike would do.
Xana kept pace with Daxos as the pair returned to the city. The walk through Pike was as edifying as it was unpleasant. There was no structure that escaped the ugliness of the age. Rough hewn structures surrounded and their ramshackle state was made all the more apparent by the magical cleanliness. A shining slum was still a slum.
Mortals had let the rains wash away beauty. Now desperation was all that was left. Xana could see it in the eyes of any they passed, sunken and weighted with despair.
There should have been pity, but that well had dried up long ago. Now all she had was disdain and disgust.
On reaching the town hall they rejoined the rest of their traveling band. Conversation was brief between them. Finding it difficult to keep the venom from her tongue, Xana let Daxos take on most of the discussion. She listened and nodded, adding a few details here or there as they waited for the clerics and townsmen to decide a course.