In times past the worlds were many, chaotic places ruled by mad and terrible things known as the Broken. They wore many faces, spoke with many tongues, and spawned strange and deformed children in all manner of shape or guise. The Broken, in their insanity and lust for chaos sought to destroy all worlds and did battle against the Nameless in what is known as the Tribulation.
Weapons of thought, monstrosities of Hunger, Rage, and Death, these and more threatened the worlds and all life but for the mercy of the Nameless, and when He threw down the Broken the Nameless brought together all the shards and pieces of the worlds remaining, gathering all the fragile mortal survivors safely within the grip of His wisdom and boundless mercy and granting them a new land, which was good.
The Firmament itself is a patchwork, joined together from the many lands and still living pieces of worlds shattered by the Tribulation. Beneath its surface strange and dark things slither, gurgle, or crawl. Gone are the chaos and uncertainty of the Old Days, where the Old Tongue thick with blasphemous and dangerous words threatened to drat and destroy the fabric of existence, now all Good Folk speak the Speech. Where once there stood cities, open cesspits of disease and suffering across the face of the land, the Good Folk dwell content, healthy, and safe in their many villages of no more than a hundred as prescribed by the the Book of Tribulation.
Looking down upon us from Above is the Nameless, seated upon His diamond throne and attended by his Bright Angels, resplendent in their glory as they sortie forth from the Sky Citadel doing His works. He has freed us from the yoke of tyranny and rule of fickle, inconstant men and the madness of an irrational and uncaring world. Beneath His watchful gaze there are no crowns, no kings, only God. But in dreams and dark whisperings the Broken still abide, fragmented but dangerous, entering the minds of the wicked and the susceptible, trying desperately to be reborn. Thus their demon blood endures, passed from man to woman, beast to beast and damning those innocent souls caught in their path. Only the eternal vigilance of the Bright Angels and the Church of the Nameless stand between the Good Folk and the heretic, the witch, the demon. It falls upon you to prove which are you.
Hash-Baz the Knower
"Unclean wretch! Begone lest you curse us with your evil eye!"
Stones and worse pelt you, it seems that in this village like the others your reputation precedes you. A stone strikes your brow and you wince as the blood begins to flow freely down your face. Even without sight you can envision it as easily as the day is bright, the mothers hiding their babes to their chests, the older children already scooping up larger and larger rocks or pieces of dung as their fathers or brothers reach for crooks or heavy staves. Somewhere to your right you hear the voice of a boy, surely no older than beyond his first hairs, shout at you in outrage and challenge.
"There's no water for you here, nothing! Get out! The Nameless is strong in us, and He is our keeper! You'll steal no souls here, demon!"
"Ooof. Here you are sir. Your afternoon pallet of cakes."
The workmen grunt in exertion as they load the last dozen of the cakes, dense with fruits, meats, and liqueurs, onto the wide and sturdy trestle in the middle of the room. Your jaws are positively filling with salivation at the prospect of tearing through them, bit by fluffy sweet bit.
"Uhm, well begging your pardon sir. Not to interrupt or stay your afternoon refreshment any more than it already has been that is, but uhm, we haven't quite been paid for the last load of cakes. The ones from breakfast? I wouldn't ask or put you out of your way like this only we're quite nearly out of flour and will need to send runners to the next village over to buy more if we're to bake you another load for your second luncheon or early supper."
The purveyor (whatever his name is anyway) looks anxiously at you, cap in hand exposing his scrawny and bald pate. He opens his mouth to plead his case once more, but the sudden slamming of the double doors (which weren't really closed anyway) startles him and he falls to his knees.
"What is this I see before me? I follow your porters in their labour expecting the EXCESSIVE preparations to be some sort of garish and unnecessary welcome feast for my presence and what do I find?! A literal army's worth of excess and wasteful usage, the bounty of a dozen hens, a field's worth of flour and untold fruits and spices and for what? FOR ONE MAN?! Why on earth are you catering to this, this immoral and disgusting slug!?"
The intruder, his black frock and the metal collar around his neck marking him clearly as one of the clergy, scowls at you and jabs a sharp finger in accusation.
"Ah! Master Examiner, oh no no no you misunderstand. This is Master Donofrey, he's a good man, an honest and faithful man surely. A veritable pillar of our community! He owns the fishmarket. And the bakery. And butcher's. And the rights to the tollway we've just recently constructed. Master Donofrey has an unfortunate condition, such an unfortunate the good man, he simply cannot do without extra meals during the course of the day. Not quite more than a fair share, simply... more shares! More fair shares!"
Scraping his forehead against the ground, the purveyor murmurs and babbles placatingly to no effect.
"Well he might very well have to the way he's going through this village's stock of flour and other essentials. Abstinence IS a virtue as well as self sacrifice, and clearly you people could do with more of both. Take those cakes out back and destroy them. I hereby declare a week of holy fasting for all within this village, for the safety and health of your souls."
The porters look to each other, shrug reluctantly, and begin the process of loading the heavy cakes back upon the pallet once more.
Owain ap Hywel, Tale-Teller and Master of the Harp
"That... that was AMAZING!"
Your father and brothers stare at you agape, bread and cheese ignored as you stand in the meadow clearing, grinning in the final reverberations of your latest song. Never to be one lost in shock or hesitation your brother Alwyn spits out the bite of apple he was taking and rushes you, crushing you against his chest in a mighty hug.
"That was spectacular Owain! Where did you learn to play like that? Was it really with these hands that you made that noise?"
Grinning broadly he pins your arms to your sides and begins to tickle you, staring down at your flailing hands and fingers dramatically for effect.
"Hard to imagine that such a great sound could come from hands as tiny and unbroken as these eh Brother? What has our little bedbug come to that he's capable of such things?"
Behind him Cadoc laughs, for his part examining the palms of your hands and beneath your fingernails as if some hidden trick or secret might be revealed.
"Oh aye, twas only like as last year it was. 'Oh my, the floor is too cold. I'm ever so hungry, can't you bring me a pumpkin tart? I'd like to stay in bed today please, my tummy hurts.'"
His eyes twinkle as he goes on in a not very convincing falsetto impression of your childhood voice and between the two of them wrestle you to the ground and tickle you mercilessly.
"Now boys, teasing's all well and good but you know I'll catch hell from your mother if we get back and you're all amuddy somehow. And you! Your wife will probably have something to say about it if you come home with another pair of torn breeches I'll bet. Get on off him now. It's a fine song lad. You're sure to win the wreath at the spring festival if you get out before the town and play them that. Heh. Look, almost seems like you've even charmed the birds of the air and the beasts of the field doesn't it?"
Your father gives you a hand up and points to the woodland across the meadow, where a small gathering of deer and birds are watching you.
Saul Moonchild, son of River Winter and Blossom Song
"I keep telling you, he just ain't right!"
"Oh come on Petryn, just because the man's a bit... slow doesn't mean he's a demon or cursed. I mean you were there last harvest festival when we all got drunk and he got kicked in the head by that mule. Hoggr bet him that you can't prove old man Miller's mule has but the usual, you know, and Saul just got really unlucky with where his head was right then."
"And I don't see why we haven't burnt IT either, it's got three jewels! That's clearly a sign of demontaint! Nothing's shaped wrong unless it's evil or just, just wrong! That's why we call it wrong!"
"Come on Saul, help me out here. You're not a demon or a witch right? You don't steal, skulk outside our windows at night, or try to inappropriately touch our livestock or children. I mean sure technically you're a vagrant, but that's not exactly forbidden by the Book of Tribulation. Well, maybe no quite specifically anyway. Guys? Come on, little help?"
Mayor Goldern pinches the end of his Burkaweed wrap and takes another long puff, looking plaintively between his wife and the still somewhat hesitant seeming lynch mob and the other drinkers at your table who are doing their best to keep their eyes on the ground or the bowl of leaves at the center of the table.
"Besides, if we didn't have him around who else is supposed to get us news from Riverfarm or Downhill? You'd rather we have to wait months like everybody else for the merchants to come by?"
Morlan Furey, Mayor of Furey Hill
Morlan stands at the attic window, getting used to the stately weight of the crown now firmly wedged atop his head. Lord of the manor, master of his domain he surveys his kingdom and its holdings such as it is. One attic, some number of dusty but still serviceable boxes, excess and out of fashion furniture, and staring at him inquiringly from a hole in the floor one very plump mouse.
"Morlan? Are you up there boy? You're not playing in the attic are you? You've been told not to get up there, you know what the dust does to your allergies. Morlan? The parson's here for your afternoon lessons."
The mouse wrinkles its nose in an almost human-like expression and scampers across the room and beneath a sheeted piece of furniture.
It was by recent standards, a relatively pleasant evening and subsequent morning. Well, it was cold, it was damp, and you slept on a pile of rocks just far enough from civilisation that you were relatively sure that noone could come upon you in the night. But it was just close enough to the road that you could make a hasty exit in the event that a posse or something worse were to show up looking, and rubbing your aching neck (making great care to use the correct hand) you spot a crab apple tree further down the road. Although likely to be small, sour, and nearly tough as wood at this time of the year, the thought of crab apples seems almost like a feast compared to the nothing you've had for days.
Looking out from your makeshift nest amid the broken stones you eye the tree in the distance. There are definitely at least a couple of apples within easy reach and you contemplate chancing it, coming out of cover and crossing the road when suddenly you hear the drumming of hoofbeats in the distance.
Tomar Greenfist, son of Roll
"He's got to have a secret cache or something, just got to. It must be under his house, maybe a cellar."
Randulf spits angrily in the cold dirt before banging hard on the door of the shack once more.
"Open up you old bastard! We've got words for you! Tomar! Open up! It's your neighbours!"
Still getting no response he begins to kick the door. Inside the your shack you nervously eye it shaking it in its frame despite the heavy oak plank barring it shut.
"Maybe, maybe he's just a really good hunter or he's getting by with less just like the rest of us are?"
Listening carefully you hear Andur trying to lend the voice of reason but it's clear his brother is having none of it.
"What really? That old scrub? Out here in the wilderness and with one hand? What's he going to hunt? One legged geese? Two legged rabbits? I SAID OPEN UP drat IT! WE KNOW YOU'VE BEEN STEALING FOOD! THIS ISN'T THE SEASON TO gently caress AROUND LIKE THIS TOMAR! MY CHILDREN ARE GOING HUNGRY AND YOU'RE THE ONE TO BLAME!"
The banging resumes and soon escalates to great heaving crashes which begin to crack the edges of the doorway. By the sound of it he must be getting a running start for the door right now.
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm - Somewhere near the border of the Wilderlands and the Firmament
Cha'ac stood above the empty ruins of the Final Armoury, what was built by his master to stand as an eternal redoubt or fortress of millennia was now but a smashed and empty shell. Twisted and bent were the admantine doors, once wrapped thick and boasted to be impervious and immovable to any hostile force. The runes which should have sparked and crackled brightly at his coming were defaced, inert, or scoured clean from the remnants of the bas relief. Of his brothers and the many works of art, manufacturing, and war they guarded there was nothing left. Nothing so much as the merest smudge of ash or broken gear remained, and for a moment he marveled at what manner of force could have breached the Clockwork Labyrinth in it's endless, twisting, and self replicating glory. That is, until he looked about him and saw again that the very mountains themselves which housed the Armoury had been smashed and melted like candles left long in the sun.
All the day and night he had searched, scouring the ruins but finding nothing but room after empty room and broken doors. Of the Mighty Thinking Engines of Huit'Lac nor the Maker himself there was no sign. Something flickered in the skies above and he turned. Was it his pursuers? Twice they had almost come upon him, and twice he had barely escaped ahead of the destruction wrought by their gaze, the light without heat which parted stone and earth as easily as he could flesh. The light above him flickered again. Perhaps it was a desert hawk? Or merely an errant cloud across the face of the noonday Sun?
Puppies are dicks fucked around with this message at Apr 19, 2013 around 06:00
|# ? Apr 19, 2013 04:57|
|# ? Apr 17, 2014 13:21|
OOC thread is available here:
Puppies are dicks fucked around with this message at Apr 26, 2013 around 00:56
|# ? Apr 19, 2013 04:58|
Once again, exile. Hash-Baz winced at the pain, but had little desire to deal evil to these people. Raising his hand in a gesture of peace to the people he could not see, but could hear and feel all lining the way he had come, he slips off his sandals and, stopping to pick them up, knocks the dust from them before putting them back on. His eyeless sockets move over the town, and the people mutter charms of protection. "I cast the dust from my sandals. I wash my hands of you," Hash-Baz speaks the words slowly, but his voice grows louder with each phrase, "I abjure your dwelling-places, I renounce all fellowship with you, I reject your salt, I spit out your water, I repudiate your hospitality!" The ancient words spoken, Hash-Baz falls silent, his part in the life of these people done. Somewhere far away an eagle cries out in the air, and Hash-Baz turns to go. His last vision had warned him this would happen, but he had thought he might be able to at least fill his waterskin before being driven out. Alas, the will of the Increate is difficult to discern, though Hash-Baz knows He desires the good of men.
And so Hash-Baz leaves along the road, his staff running in front of him so that he might know of any large drops or changes in the road in front of him. Some time later, Hash-Baz realizes it is time again for his devotions. Groping to find a rock big enough to sit on, Hash-Baz finds one, and begins his prayers, handed down from the most ancient of his forefathers. He prays for those people who had driven him from their midst, and prays to be granted vision beyond sight, that he might not die in this waste and desert.
Let's get this show on the road.
|# ? Apr 19, 2013 05:46|
Oh dang it I'm a big silly and forgot to put a tag on the thread. If there are any mods out there reading this, could you please change the tag to Adventure or Storygames or something?
|# ? Apr 19, 2013 05:46|
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
Thunder's Herald stood impassively in the ruined remains of what was once his home. He'd expected - or maybe hoped - to find something, anything, that he could use to find a clue of his creator's fate. He hadn't found anything in particular, to be sure, but this complete ruin was as much of a clue as anything. Whomsoever he had known in the time before the Tribulation were all gone. He was well and truly alone in his crusade. But had he not known this when he woke? The lands had changed. The skies as well. Perhaps this distraction had been an effort in futility.
Except for the notice of his pursuers. Cha'ac was not surprised that his travels had gotten attention from the servants of the Nameless. He was a walking testament to their failure. That they had not truly wiped everything Broken off the face of the earth. It was an achievement he took pride in, even if his survival had been a fortunate accident at best. They were his enemies, and he would not be humble before them, for they were cowards. Their gaze was a coward's weapon. Let them face him eye to eye, and see who was stronger then! The construct looks to the light above, as he turns and starts walking again. The path to the Sky Citadel would not be hidden in the Firmament. But here in the Wilderlands, where the fearful peasants dared not tread, the chances would be better. He draws his sword with a brief crackle of lightning and tightens the grip on his shield. The Sentinel of the Storm would not be caught unawares.
|# ? Apr 19, 2013 10:35|
No good could come of meeting the group on horseback headed up the road towards her. The tree (and its
As far as she could tell the horsemen would either be traveling between one village and another, and pass her hiding spot behind the old stones quickly... or they would be looking for her, and being caught in the open would be imprudent. If the horsesmen were looking for her, someone may have tipped them off to where she was. Maybe seen her when she'd last chanced going into the nearby village; maybe they'd even been tipped off to where she'd encamped the night before and was now. Time to fix that.
Scanning her "campsight," Lyra gathered the few scraps of cloth she'd been letting dry in the sunlight and quickly scooped them into the pockets of her shabby and threadbare habit. Aside from some accidental damage she'd done to the rockpile and grass around her campsight with her cursed hand, there were hopefully no signs anyone had been here. Looking around for hiding spots, she decided on a cluster of trees further from the road and uphill from where she was. Lyra rolled the frayed right sleeve of her black robe up and then bolted towards the grotto, hoping to reach it and hide before the men on horseback chanced to see her. She'd wrap one of the few spare bolts of cloth she had around her hand of ruin while hiding behind the shady trees; she could keep the hand from destroying the cloth for a little bit if she concentrated on it. If they found her hiding spot, she'd rather them think her maimed than demonic. Hopefully they would leave quickly, those lovely apples dangling so invitingly from that tree were still close by...
character sheet posted:
What is your Name?
Rauri fucked around with this message at Apr 19, 2013 around 11:48
|# ? Apr 19, 2013 11:28|
Tomar shivered as the door shook in its frame. It wouldn't last long under that sort of assault, he knew. But it was best to pretend he wasn't home. They'd leave. The miller's wife had last winter, and it wasn't like people didn't keep track of their stores. He'd just sit quietly and they'd leave.
"You turd! Open! UP!" was Randulf's shout as he bounced off the door again. But this time he had splintered the hinges, and in four seconds, the large man was standing over Tomar, shouting. Andur shuffled in sheepishly behind his brother, clearly not wanting to take this any further. But Randulf wasn't just angry, he was drunk too. Tomar could smell it on him.
"OUT! OUT! I've no food here! Go to Frath."
But Randulf wouldn't listen, he pushed Tomar off is stool, and kicked him while he was down. "You're stealing loaves, and you're stealing salt fish. And you're KILLING MY CHILDREN!"
With another kick, he transitioned into tearing through the meager possessions within the shack. In a couple of minutes, he might find yesterday's fish, half-eaten raw, so Tomar got to his feet in a flash. With the strength of a full stomach, he grabbed Randulf by the neck and turned him around. His wooden hand reared, and crushed the invader's nose. "Your children want to eat? Then go out and forage, like I do every day."
Randulf staggered across the room, dazed by the blow. He tripped over the stool, and fell head-first into the hearth. There were only embers in it, but they should have been enough to make Randulf jerk away. Instead he just lay there, with his face on a hot coal, and Tomar realized that he'd knocked his head on a stone only half a second after Andur.
"Murderer! You Murderer!" was the half-whisper Tomar heard as a dagger entered his shoulder. Andur pulled back to the doorway, bloodied knife still in hand. "I'll cut you to ribbons for this"
Tomar was in shock - Randulf still breathed, couldn't Andur see that? He leaned toward the body and pulled it away from the fire. His mind race: he couldn't have the Hirdmen looking through his chest of fish bones and gnawed deer hooves, nor could he explain away how a dagger wound might disappear so quickly at Services that week.
"You stay there, murderer! Don't touch him!" Andur glanced away from Tomar, judging whether the town wall was close enough for his cry to be heard. "HELP! HE-!"
Andur's shouting was cut short by a set of eight-inch claws ripping his jaw off. Within another minute, Tomar had staged the scene - well enough he hoped - dragging the body deeper into the woods and mauling it further. Then he gathered a small bundle and set a torch to the straw mattress. With any luck, the whole shack would catch before any Hirdmen arrived. Tying the bundle loosely around his neck as a man, the Bear ran on all fours into the woods as fast as it could, leaving a clear trail down to the river from Andur's body. He'd come back right before nightfall, and try to act shocked.
Speleothing fucked around with this message at Apr 22, 2013 around 02:11
|# ? Apr 22, 2013 02:01|
Saul Moonchild, son of River Winter and Blossom Song
Saul was tuning his banjo. His father's pipe was hanging loosly from his lips.
"Like whats with all this negative energy man? It's like really bumming me out. Make love not war, man. If fact the Book of Tribulation is like one big love letter from the Nameless to humanity man. It's like about how much the Nameless loves you and wants to hug you and wants you to hug your neighbor. I think that's what we should do right now man, I think everybody should just hug the person right next to them and embrace them with your love man."
What is your Name?
|# ? Apr 22, 2013 03:28|
Owain ap Hywel
Owain's mind is elsewhere as he finishes his playing, thinking of another meadow, bright green under the sun and filled with laughing men and women with almond eyes and strangely wrought lutes and lyres.
So he is taken off guard by his brothers' onslaught, but there has never been much point in him trying to better them in a fight, anyway. Between the extra years and the hard work they do in the mill, shoveling grain and hauling flour, it's always been a lost battle. As they trip him up and knock him over, he has greater concerns on his mind. "My harp, Alwyn, watch the harp!" Flailing, he manages to get the instrument clear of the dogpile without damage, shortly before vanishing under the two older siblings. The only evidence of him is the muffled protests until their father intervenes. The paternal word has spared him the worst of the damage, but he's still rumpled and slightly muddied around the edges, so that you could almost think he'd done an honest day's work; not likely.
Once he regains his feet, he dusts himself off and looks to where his father points, noticing the small herd of deer for the first time. Under the watch of the Nameless and his Angels the land was plentiful and provided well for the people of Llantwyn, but it was still odd to see them quite so close. Suddenly Owain recalled that his harp, like so many things of the village, was carved from wood taken from the forest, and he'd strung it with some gut bought from a local trapper as well. His perception of the world tilted for a moment, and he could almost see the music he had played strung through the air, like a thin golden tether that stretched out to the herd. His breathe caught a moment, before his sight snapped back to normal, and he quickly covered the lapse with a feigned cough. "They're probably just here after Cadoc, he's smelling like something out of the woods. And you two, I do take it seriously, you know. I practice when I am on the road now, not just waste time idling." He aims a half-hearted kick for the closest of his brothers, knowing that he's earned their teasing well enough.
He collects his harp from the ground then, carefully checking it for any damage or dirt. It's a good thing he has a plain, robust instrument, he muses, rather than something more delicate and ornate. Something like that would hardly survive a week around his family. Tucking the instrument back into it's case, he looks back to his father. "Do you really think I have a chance for the festival? You know that Powell has won the last two years, and deserved it. He's a great singer." Owain had taken up the harp for the love of music, to be sure, but it would not hurt at all to be honored for what he had learned. And his father, though a supportive father, was not one for idle compliments and false promises. Such traits didn't serve a miller well.
What is your Name? Owain ap Hywel, Owain Telynor, Tale-Teller and Master of the Harp. Owain is the third son of Hywel ap Gruffydd, a prosperous miller, and Annwyl ferch Dafydd. With two sons dedicated to the operation and inheritance of the Mill, Hywel was content for his youngest son to pursue other trades. Owain chose the Harp.
|# ? Apr 23, 2013 00:58|
His jowls vibrated with indignant rage. It was seldom he saw a man of the clergy out on the frontiers, so he had not been lectured like this since childhood. The townsfolk all know the sacrifices he makes for them, how he slavishly works his chubby fingers to the bone to ensure Seaboard thrives under his wise stewardship, and of the strangers most of the emaciated travelers passing through these lands did not come into contact, and those merchants he dealt with were rotund themselves. At least initially, when he first meets them.
So this clergyman, how would he know the terrors they face out there? The ever-present threat of the return of the Gragon? The uh, the um, the rain? Sea air? No, that wouldn't work with this one, oh but as the clergyman ranted and Mono munched on his sweetcake, beady little eyes peering out from pinholes among folds of fat cheeks and brow, he leaped (figuratively, of course, having never leaped in his life) upon what this so-called pious man last said.
"Why, I would not expect a Man of the Cloth to be so Blind!" In anger he hefted what remained of his sweetcake at the workman. The cake didn't travel over three feet, sort of sadly hanging in the air before unceremoniously plopping onto the stone floor. "Do you not see the sacrifices I make in the name of the Nameless? Why, when he formed our land from the formless he provided for us, his most pious of children, a veritable bounty in food, delicious and glorious food, food that We must consume lest it rot, and would it rot then it would be in vain that it would be harvested by the good men that wield the scythe, it would be in vain that the good bakers kneed the bread or butchers butch the cattle! They work to render His bounty wholesome, and You would have it rot? You who stand before who is surely the most pious of this great village of ours? I sacrifice my very being so that the gifts of the Nameless do not rot upon the turf, and you would call for the whole town to throw good food gifted to us? Bring back those cakes, lest they wilt from your vile words, we must Consume them with swiftness, us both!"
The fat man motions the tray to return, positively bouncing upon his triclinium. From places unknown and best left undescribed within his folds he retrieves a purse that tinkles when it moves, hefting it to one of the workman he exalts of his charity to the Clergyman, doubtless shaming him further, but bringing the workman down by the collar so that he might whisper "The money is to keep the cake flowing" with a wink and a nudge.
Utilizing Beguilement (Greater) to SHAME this IGNORAMUS.
Hamshot fucked around with this message at Apr 23, 2013 around 14:31
|# ? Apr 23, 2013 14:29|
Mayor Morlan Furey. "The Mouse, the Mayor and the Parson"
The world always changes in instants. Time does lapse between them, but the moment a mind is made up to do something and the moment when everyone recognises it stand as the two most important points. At this particular moment Morlan knew he was no longer a child, he was the mayor, even more than the mayor. Others might not recognise it yet, in fact even the old mayor was still conducting his business below Morlan's feet none the wiser, but that instant his authority was recognised would come.
As the idea of authority entered Morlan's thoughts he realised that it felt different now than it had before. In fact it didn't seem like an idea anymore. Instead he felt it like a weight, a heat, a humming in his veins, his stomach filling with boiling lead. It was a sense of weight, a sense of a hot power that roiled within, he wanted to throw open the window and shout. He was sure his voice would echo with a thunderclap, people would fall to their knees in obeisance, he could see them standing in ranks, farther than his minds eye could perceive.
But something like a sturdy hand on his shoulder stayed his hand.
Instead he felt his mind turning from it's grandiosity to the simple room he was in. He would start here. Everything in this room was his. But it wasn't just things in this room. Morlan could feel a tiny pair of eyes on him and he turned to regard them.
The little rodent trotted smartly forward and paused before him. He got the sense that if it could it would be kneeling before him.
Reaching down he took it into his hand bringing it up to his eye level so he could regard his subject. The mouse quietly accepted all this and sat properly on his palm.
"You are the first of many, perhaps some will be greater than you, perhaps some may be lesser than you, but to be the first is an honour."
He could hear his dad's call from below. It was time for the Parson's lessons. Well the Parson had taught him his numbers. Now was the time to use his knowledge.
"I give you the name Primus."
As he bestowed the name on the rodent he could sense it grow stronger, firmer of will, the mouse itself seemed to become blessed. Tucking it into his pocket he returned to the way down from the attic.
The thought that his crown should leave his head never crossing his mind.
What is your Name?
|# ? Apr 24, 2013 05:57|
Hash-Baz pressed his forehead against the hot stone, intoning the timeless words of the ancient prayers when suddenly he is struck by a sense of terrible stillness. The heat of the desert, the overbearing warmth of the midday sun, the sounds of the rustling sand and tumbling weeds upon it faded away to a dull buzz and gradual nothingness. Like a bolt from the blue it struck him, flashes of vertigo, screams, violence and chaos until there was nothing left by blackened sand and bleached bone. Clutching his arms to his breast he screams as the air is forced from his lungs and his face twists in realization.
In the aftermath of the vision he comes to, tongue swollen thick in his throat with thirst or worse and the remnants of a thick froth about his lips. Though he is blind and has never laid eyes upon it he knows the sight of the village he just left, can recognize and mark the faces and expressions of each inhabitant as they flee desperately but too late in terror. He knows it as surely as the day is bright and the Nameless is merciful. A cloud of darkness will descend and the town of Acheya will die.
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm, Boltbearer, Thunder's Herald sensed the coming of his enemies and fled no more. Raising up his sword and shield, he called forth a mighty gale, pulling down storm clouds of such thickness and ferocity that they blackened the previously empty skies and shook the lonely desert with the force of their thunder. As he stood in the ruins of his master's empty workshop he resolved himself to acquit his Maker well, to show the faceless cowards of an absent God what the true wrath of the heavens was.
And so they came for him. Shining and gleaming two of them came from the skies, singing songs terrible and bright which parted the clouds, the storm, and the earth beneath them like foam before a child's breath. For his part he fought deftly and with the practiced experience of one long suited to serving in his master's wars. Ducking, weaving, buffeting himself as a leaf upon the breeze he drew upon his past experiences against aerial foes, throwing bolt after bolt in an attempt to burn, layering hail and sleet to weight their wings, tearing new gale winds to throw them off course. Where lightning met light there was nothing but soundless explosions of pure and blinding force, force which the angels flew through effortlessly and unscathed.
Hurling himself up upon the crest of a tornado he flung himself bodily at them, sword singing with elemental force as he drove it towards the heart of the larger angel. Were it not for the third angel blindsiding him with a blast of light he might very well have struck a lethal blow. As it was he was barely able to fling himself far from the scene, crashing heavily to earth and knocking several possibly delicate mechanisms within his inner casing out of alignment as well as loosening the plates on his chassis.
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm has been Flaw: Damaged. It's not relevant yet but may be in the future. There's definitely a few plates loose and something rattling around inside there.
As the rider approached without any signs of slowing, stopping, or giving any indication that he even knew she was there Lyra felt a traitorous surge of hope and relief. Bitterly she cursed this reflex when it was proven wrong as the rider's horse, passing by at it's closet point to her on the road shied and reared at the worst possible moment, flinging it's rider backwards, out of the saddle, and into the ground with a resounding crack. Nostrils flared and screaming in fear and rage, the horse trotted and cantered as it tried to simultaneously shake itself free of the rider still caught by its stirrup and back away from her hiding spot.
She winced at the obvious implications of cause and effect, the rider would surely be trampled or crushed to death when the panicked horse finally fell over. What little she remembered about horses from her girlhood at the farm suggested to her that they weren't very well designed for reverse movement.
Most of the village is present, having been drawn by the smoke and subsequent cries of fire and murder. Murder? The blood nearly freezes in your veins as your keen hearing picks up the word on the breeze. Someone's definitely up there shouting something about a murder and fearing the worst you begin to slowly back away back into the thicket when someone shouts (again) loudly.
"Look there he is! Tomar! Over here Tomar!"
It's Simple Ned, the damned oaf, standing at the edge of the crowd and pointing straight at you with those enormous sausage sized fingers of his. Caught between the urge to flee and hide, your eyes dart about looking to see if anyone is armed or perhaps looking a bit too suspicious when to your surprise you notice that most of them are hardly paying any attention to you. Instead they're clearly fixated on the antics of a man, somewhat dark with his arms and legs slightly askew, as if someone had once tried pulling him out of a bottle only he came out crooked. And then stuck.
"A bear! A great big mean man-eater son of a bitch bear! Scarred too! And with only one... eye."
He grins through scarred lips, looking down the range at you and sending a shiver down your spine. Does he know?
"I've been tracking the damned thing ever since it killed and ate a family of three over in Tallwoods. It slaughtered an entire herd of sheep over by Charac, and you don't even want to know what it did to the shepherds, poor unfortunate sons of bitches they. Gather around friends and I'll tell you of this dreadful beast. All around now, so I don't have to waste precious time or breath retelling it again, everyone even those of you at the edge. Come closer..."
He motions and cajoles, voice lowering as he speaks, and almost despite yourself you step out of the thicket and closer to the edge of the crowd, if only to hear more closely for yourself what he has to say next.
"Now friends, some may have whispered that the beast was a demon or the work of some fell curse but I know better. It's the wretched spawn of a devil and a he-witch in the form of a terrible bear! A Devil Bear! I'm a hunter and tracker of some reknown, and I've hunted this monster for quite some time now but always has it managed to elude my grasp. I have seen much of its gory works. Tis but a beast, true. But it's a vicious and clever beast with almost the wit and luck of a man, and where it goes carnage and bloodshed are sure to be left in its wake. They call it the Beast of Karth."
His eyes stare directly into yours, or maybe they don't. It's hard to tell given his crooked gaze.
"Clearly what has happened here is that it came upon these two unfortunate fellows whilst they were upon the road and, after some struggle elsewhere they escaped and took shelter in this rude hovel. But the bear gave chase you see, look you to the mud here where we can see it's prints yet. It must have broken in despite their best efforts and mauled them to death, but fled into the woods when the cabin caught fire. My friends there is only one reasonable course of action for us to take. We have to find to find the thing and kill it! Kill it for the good of us all!"
He shouts and others shout with him, raising their arms and voices in support.
"We have to hunt the Devil Bear, for the safety of your wives, your livestock, and your children. Gather up your non-combatants in the longhouse, and collect your weapons as they are. But the Beast is dangerous and preys on the unwary and alone, let no man go forth alone and unaccompanied by others to assist him should the Devil Bear make itself known. You, you, and you. You seem like sturdy enough fellows, you're with me."
He points to Simple Ned, no surprise given the man's enormous bulk and hands the size of plows, as well as other similarly stolid but sturdily built men. Stranger still is when he points to you as well, extending his wrist for you to grasp in greeting.
"My name Simple Ned, it's a joke you see because I'm simple. In the head, aha ha ha. This is Tomar, he's my cousin and that's his shack the bear just burnt down."
Somewhat awkwardly you realize given the wrist he's offered it's impossible to return his gesture without either using your wooden hand or reversing your other hand in an extremely uncomfortable manner.
"Call me Outis. Huntsman, Tracker, Traveler by trade. So glad to finally meet you Tomar, what do you say to giving me a hand here so we can find this Devil Bear and give it what it deserves?"
Saul Moonchild, son of River Winter and Blossom Song
Petryn glares, and the would-be mob shuffles their feet, waiting somewhat half-heartedly for an impetus or call to action. Some of the men look to their neighbours expectantly but noone actually moves to follow your brilliant suggestion despite your enthusiasm and off-center gaze. Eventually someone in the back of the old bar begins sniggering, which becomes chuckling which quickly avalanches into guffaws of back slapping laughter.
"Ahahaha, there you see it wife? Saul's not demontouched he's just well, the other sort of touched. In the head. What we do is a charity, as ordained to us by the Book, giving every man his duty and his due to serve the greater good of the community and the will of the Nameless. Now come on the rest of you lads, I've half a cask here and half a mind to drink it all myself unless you want to sit on down and polish it off with us. I'll tell you what, we get this one done quickly enough I'll head down to the cellar and get a fresh one for another round all around?"
Hours later the impromptu celebration and drinking party is still going strong, having spilled out of the basement of Mayor Goldern's tavern and into the surrounding yard and nearby dirt road. Revelers lie, stand, or sprawl in various degrees of inebriation due to the bowls of burqaweed which have made and remade their rounds as well as the generous and copious plying of the Mayor. Eyes red and bleary he packs the last leaves into the bottom of his pipe, lighting it against the coals of nearby fire before taking a deep puff and passing it to you.
"She doesn't mean badly by it Saul, you know how it is. But maybe it's best if you moved on after all? Hey give me a hand with this keg here will you? Maybe this time stay away for the rest of the season, or actually come back with something to show for it but a satchel full of dried weed and a broken eggshell? It's not that nobody likes you or really thinks you're a demon I think, more like they just don't think you... do anything. You know, useful and all. Like out of the Book of Tribulation, you know 'for every man his place' and err 'every blade of grass or speck of grain account' or something."
Owain ap Hywel
"Him? He's a fine singer for sure, best I've ever heard no doubt but he's no, well, he's no that!"
Llewyn gestures to the animals, who startle as if coming out of a trance and scatter.
"Powell's a sour old man whose nose is turned up so high he'd drown in a rainstorm. It'll do him good to have someone else win the wreath for a change, knock him down a peg and show him some of the humility due us as servants of the Nameless. Come on then boys, that's about enough of a break I'd say. The mill doesn't run itself now does it? I'll be along to join you in just a bit, I've got to head up the hill with Owain here and see Master Glenn. Seems to me a man ought to be thanked if it turns out his apprentice is already capable of such fine work."
He slaps you on the shoulder and reaches for his bag, leaning agains the tree stump.
"It's not much but I've most a bottle of apple jack here that I was going to share with you boys after lunch, but seeing as how it's such a beautiful day and all it'd almost be a shame to get stinking drunk now wouldn't it? We'll nip on up there and give the old codger a treat, eh son? It'll do him some good I think, he does get mopey when you're on the road and leave him on his own overlong although at this rate I can't imagine you won't be able to stand for yourself as a Master Bard before long."
"No you twit, it's DadeedaDADAdeda!"
"Alwyn you're my brother and I love you, but you've got two flaws- you're thick, you've got a face not even a mother could love, and you can't carry a tune if you had a damned silver bucket. So three flaws really, any idiot can tell that it goes 'Ladeefadeerahrahlada'"
Humming and singing offkey as they try to approximate the refrain from the song you just played, your brothers amble down the road rough housing and joking as they go.
"There shall be no rot, no waste if the food is simply put to the flames and sacrificed to our most high master, the Nameless! What are you people doing? Didn't you hear my orders? What's the matter with you? I said, take that filth out back and destroy it!"
Perhaps as much as from the gold as anything else, the workmen smirk and snigger among themselves before resuming their original process of carting in and loading up the heavy trestle with more cakes.
"Stop that immediately! I declared a week of fasting for everyone in this benighted village and that means EVERYONE starting now! Abstinence, contrition, and self reflection for all lest you drat yourselves and others by association."
One of the workers makes a rude gesture behind the man's back, followed by another, and another. Keen to be popular and get in on the game the purveyor coughs loudly into his fist and nudges a half smashed strawberry into the priest's path, which ends obligingly in a painful and messy pratfall into the thick cake discarded by Mono earlier.
"Blasphemers! Traitors! Heretics!"
Stained with custard, mixed fruits, and fondant he struggles unsuccessfully to rise, shouting all the while.
"You'll BURN for this, all of you. Do you hear me? BURN!"
Mayor Morlan Furey
"Good afternoon Morlan, what have you been doing upstairs... Ah, some sort of costume jewelry? Well there's no harm in it really although you know what the Book of Tribulation has to say about ostentation and ornamentation. Better not make it a habit in the long run eh? Now come on over and let's practice your letters and ciphering, and if you're quick about it we can go over another chapter of the Book of Manuel. You liked that last time didn't you?"
The parson's comment trails off as he eyes the crown atop Morlan's brow, his gaze sliding over the crown and the boy mayor's regal visage without purchase. He squints and looks away, obviously uncomfortable. He waves, hat in hand from the cramped study room, smoothing out the creases in the spine of the Book with one of his other nervously as he begins his rudimentary lessons which go poorly. Inevitably his gaze wanders upwards and his expression goes vacant, as if he's trying to make sense of something or recover a lost memory on the tip of his tongue. All of Morlan's fine and regal penmanship go unnoticed, and the grand boldly written sums on the old slate go untallied and uncorrected.
"Hrm. Seventeen of eighty-five IS sixty-three. Or perhaps it's not. Where is my mind at. You know what Morlan? I might just have to uh, go home and have a lie down for a while. I'm not feeling well today."
The parson stands, half bowing awkwardly almost out of some unbidden reflex but catching himself before he does and backing out of the room at a hurried pace.
"We'll try again tomorrow! Don't get up! I'll let your father know about it on my way out. Tomorrow!"
"Weel now, that was a right awkward scene wannit? D'you reckon he kenned whatcha were then, Yer Majesty? Only if he has y'might want to get on after him, beggin yer pardon, afore he comes back with the ole pitchforks and torches crowd."
The mouse poked his head up out of Morlan's pocket, brushing it's long whiskers as it looked up at him expectantly.
"Might yeh happen to have a biscuit or some tother victuals handy, Yer Majesty? It was a bit of a long wait until the Bookman went away, and all I've only had a bit of the lining in your coat to nibble on and I did not find it to my liking."
Puppies are dicks fucked around with this message at Apr 26, 2013 around 20:24
|# ? Apr 26, 2013 08:20|
Fire. He knows it will come. It will come because the men and women of Acheya brought it through their faults, mindful or thoughtless. Before he does anything else, Hash-Baz blesses the Nameless three times, and wipes the froth from his mouth. He has been granted the vision so that he might do the will of the Nameless. Rising to unsteady feet, he seizes his walking staff and walks back toward the village. He cannot see, but his vision is cut with a bright path in front of him, and each footstep falls true. He cannot hear the eagle in the sky, or the asp in the brush, only the plodding of his feet as he retraces his steps.
But before he moves into the town, he walks off the road, his feet knocking aside small rocks and deftly stepping over the smaller animals. Hash-Baz comes to a stop as his hands feel the beginning of a rise towards a height overlooking the village. The shining path still cuts through the darkness that had consumed Hash-Baz's sight, and with complete assurance he begins clambering upwards, each step sure, each handhold well-placed. Before he can realize it, he stands at the top of a tall bluff overlooking the town. He can feel the sun falling over the horizon. Sweeping his arms up, Hash-Baz bellows with a voice that resounds over the wastes. "Sinners! Repent and be saved! The doom of Acheya has been proclaimed by the Nameless, it is to be destroyed for the sins of its inhabitants!" He can see the stains, a cloud of vipers devouring each other and themselves. Adultery, murder, idolatry, avarice, all the sins of these people tear at each other. Hash-Baz is amazed that no one could see it except him in his blindness.
Hash-Baz can hear the people below him as he continues. He lists the transgressions of the people: sexual, economic, in hospitality. "Fire shall consume Acheya! Fire from a dark cloud!" The speech both enrages and instills fear in the people of Acheya. Unwilling to stay under his curse, the women and children flee from the dark magic of Hash-Baz's voice over their homes, as the men gather together to destroy the one they fear and hate. Hash-Baz knows this, he can feel the groups leave the village, leaving only the village priest to stay in the middle of the dirt road, to speak a blessing to counter the curse he believes Hash-Baz is calling down. Hash-Baz knows what the man has done - a weakness of heart that he has fed through corruption and gluttony.
It is now dark in the desert, but there is no wind through the sky. Behind Hash-Baz are the men, women, and children of Acheya. They heard him, but they did not listen. He knows that, he knew that is what would happen. But they would not need to listen, for now they would see.
One of the men steps forward, and Hash-Baz turns around to stare at him with his empty eyes. "What do you, Qarim, son of Qaresh, seek to do?"
The man stammers. "We will stop you from profaning and cursing our homes and lives!"
Hash-Baz's empty sockets peer through him, and through all the others in front of him. "You know nothing," he says with no preamble, no chance for reply. "You have profaned your own homes, you have brought this destruction onto yourselves. And now you will see the justice of the Nameless." He is met with silence, as he knows the dark cloud is forming behind him, above the village. Lightning crashes, and Hash-Baz turns to look on the sight as he can. He sees the lightning burst on the rocks, and a red core forming in the center of the mass. He raises his hands. "Now! Look! and bless the Nameless!"
Fire erupts downward like lightning, and incinerates all that it touches. "I do not wish to look!" a woman cries out near him. Hash-Baz grabs her and forces her to face toward the destruction. "You must look! Or you too will be destroyed!" he cries out. "All of you! Look! And believe in the justice of the Nameless!" The heat washes over the whole mass, and Hash-Baz can feel every speck of heat on his skin. But soon enough the deed is done, and the tornado of flame ends just as suddenly as it had come, and the black cloud disperses until it looked like it had never been. He knows down in the center of town are the smoking bones of the evil priest, who had given himself up to the ways of dissipation.
Hash-Baz releases the woman, who falls before someone else grabs her. "You have seen the might and justice of the Nameless. Your sins have been burnt clean, but your lives have been spared. Thus is the mercy of the Increate. Now heed my words. Remove yourselves to a place a day East of here. You will find a stone atop two smaller boulders. Take a staff and strike at the smallest boulder, and you shall be rewarded with a spring of water. Now go, and recreate your lives in obedience to the Nameless."
With that spoken, Hash-Baz's sigh returns to the black void. He can see nothing, he knows nothing, and remembers that he does not work under his own power. He hears the people shuffle off, uncertain about the future, but glad to be alive. For some time Hash-Baz does nothing, letting the people leave and make some distance. Only an hour later he feels a tug on his robe sleeve. Hash-Baz turns to the figure, though he cannot see them. The voice is a young man, an adolescent. "Abba, I am Ehud, the apprentice of the priest of Acheya." Hash-Baz says nothing, so the boy continues. "I know my master did evil, and I see now he was repaid for his crimes. But you, Abba, you do the work of the Nameless! Please, let me go with you."
Hash-Baz is silent for a moment. Then a few minutes. Then almost an hour before he says anything. "Water." Ehud instantly gives the older man his waterskin, and Hash-Baz drinks deep of it, mightily refreshing him in the night air. Giving it back to the young man, Hash-Baz points South. "That way, until the next settlement." Ehud instantly agrees, and after making camp, Hash-Baz finally falls into an exhausted sleep.
|# ? Apr 28, 2013 02:55|
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
He lay there for a while, in the crater his body had made, processing what he had just learned. While certainly powerful in their own right, the servants of the Nameless had not been too strong for him. He had simply dropped his guard, and they had taken advantage of it. It was a mistake he would not repeat. Next time they would pursue them, he would destroy them, as was his purpose. Or would he? Cha'ac slowly sat up, listening to the rattle in his torso. Everything still seemed to work to satisfaction - his arms clamped the edge of the crater, his feet supported him as he stood up.
He looked around. It seemed he had landed on the edge of a treeline. He could not see the desert anymore, but behind him there were arid plains, with hardy vegetation and the occasional, thorny tree - a border area. The trees in front of him, however, were much more numerous, and provided shelter from watchful eyes. It would do well enough. There was a time for fighting, but it was not now - Cha'ac was smart enough to recognize that. With the rattle in his chest accompanying his every step, he stalked into the forest. For a mortal, it would be a tough trek, but not for the Sentinel of the Storm. Tough underbrush was trampled underfoot or torn apart like paper before his sword.
When he was sufficiently deep in the forest that he was certain he would not be be disturbed quite so easily, he sat down with his back against the tree, putting his sword down, and ran his fingers along the snarl of his chestplate. Like all of Itzamna's creations, the Boltbearer was intimately familiar with his inner mechanisms. This way, they could report exactly what damage had been done after a battle, so that the Artificer might repair and strengthen it immediately. He himself did not possess the skill or means for tinkering with it, but at least he could assert the extent of the damage.
After a brief examination, he concluded that the damage was mostly superficial. None of the truly important mechanisms had been hampered - Itzamna's foresight had been great enough to install redundancies and additional protective layers within the torso - though it was certainly a weakness. A second strike with enough force, even one with significantly less power than his crash landing, would penetrate to his core. Such an event would not only be fatal to him, but if the blow was forceful and sudden enough, the arcane spark so violated would become unstable and explode, unleashing great destructive heat upon the land, no doubt withering all in its path.
That, at least, had to be prevented. Cha'ac rose once again, gripping his shield tighter. His resolve had not faltered. He would find a means to enter the Sky Citadel. A means to destroy the Nameless. He would simply have to be more careful, for a time. On high guard, the construct set out through the forest again. He did not trample, as he had before, but instead moved quietly enough to hear approaching threats coming, at least. It was the best he could manage, given his size.
|# ? Apr 28, 2013 19:20|
"What? Burn?" Mono looked aghast, eyes wide, pupils like needle points.
The men paused, abandoning their work to stare at Mono and the Clergyman. At least that's what he hoped had occurred by the tone of his reaction alone, he dare not steal a glance their way lest his eye contact with this outsider brake.
"Burn? Burn our food, Burn us?" Hand messy with cake, he wiped it off upon himself so that it might not slip as he righted his bulbous frame, plump lower lip quivering. "You, would have us burn our well-being in sacrifice? You threaten us with fire? You are no man of the Nameless. You are an Impostor!" An accusatory stubby finger laden with precious metals and jewels stabs out towards the clergyman, pointing. "You are a believer not of the Nameless, no benevolent god would have us burn our hard work at a whim. Only the entities He Above defeated would want human sacrifice by the fire! You are of the BROKEN! Everyone, STOP him! RESTRAIN him lest his wicked ways beguile you! Gag his mouth so that his vile tongue does not SOUR our minds! Gather the good people of Seaboard, we will trial the WITCH and find him GUILTY!"
Enraging a mob against the good clergyman, using Beguilement (Greater). The fathead has not taken the hint, so he will face a fair trial by a fair judge (me) and be deemed guilty by a jury of his peer
|# ? May 2, 2013 12:55|
Owain ap Hywel
Owain relaxes slowly, as his father doesn't seem too concerned by the behavior of the animals. That's good. Owain has been on edge too much of late, enthralled by the music he has discovered at his call but disturbed by some of it's apparent effects and potential reactions. Perhaps he should not be so surprised - after all, the people of Llantwyn have always held music in a high regard, and valued their bards more than other villages and towns. Wasn't something as pure and beautiful as music a gift of the Nameless, something to lift the hearts and souls of his loyal followers?
"Perhaps, perhaps, and I would be honored to receive the wreath. He has won it so many years though, since I can remember, it's hard to imagine anyone else taking it, especially me. It's like..." He struggles for a moment, and then glances back after his brothers, in time to see Cadoc knock Anwyn off the rough path and into a sprawling patch of nettles. Apparently their disagreement on the tune has escalated in good brotherly fashion "...like imagining those two getting on a day without a scuffle. Just the way things are, hey?"
As they head up the slow rise, Owain settles his harpcase over his shoulder, pacing his father without trouble. Once this hike would have winded him, being a slim youth and not usually subject to the hard labor his father and brothers enjoyed. Now he is feeling fit and trim, surely the result of his recent travels to nearby villages and along the winding trails of the hills. With the weather clear and the moon waxing, he has taken plenty of evening walks, the tunes jangling in his head demanding that he keep moving while they unfurled into proper melodies. Master Glenn hadn't approved of moonlight walks as practice, though.
With that thought he snaps back to reality, glancing over to his father once again. "Does he? It's nice to be missed a bit, by someone other than family. He has been a good teacher to me." Though not the only one., he can't help but think.
The small, neat house of brink and stone that is home to the Master is ahead, with it's garden laid out around it an unruly goat tethered out front. Tending the garden and goat have been among his duties as Apprentice, and he half thinks that Glenn hasn't encouraged his advancement to keep his hand around for help. "Master Glenn would be well-pleased if I could take the wreath. You know he is not fond of Powell, and that goes well back - though he's never said why to me. I don't know why he doesn't compete in the festival, either - he's as good on the lute as Powell is, if not quite the singer. At least he is willing to teach, though." Powell, stiff and proud, seldom entertained lessons that did not benefit him, while Master Glenn taught the children harvest songs and hymns readily.
As they near the house, Owain cups a hand to his mouth to call out a greeting "Ho, Master! It's Owain, and my Da has come to see you as well." He is suddenly nervous of this visit, worried about bringing his father up the hill. Master Glenn has not been happy with Owain's recent compositions, declaring them flights of fancy that ignore good, solid traditional forms. Which is true, of course, as their inspiration has come from the tangled threads of sound that cling to his mind when he wakes from blurred dreams. But they're good, Owain knows that, though that didn't sway his Master's scowl. Surely that's just evidence that his skill has risen to the level of his teacher, though. And Master Glenn is a good man.
Owain idly pats the goat on the head as they wait for the door to open, and then quickly snatches his hand back as the animal makes a spirited snap for his sleeve.
|# ? May 2, 2013 16:46|
Lyra sprang from her hiding spot towards the road as quickly as her malnourished and sore muscles could carry her. If she didn't intervene, the rider who'd fallen from the horse she'd accidentally frightened would almost certainly be gravely injured or killed. This wasn't a choice, to help him and risk being discovered versus leaving the man to fend for himself. It was a Test, she was sure of it - to save him was to pass, to abandon him or let him die was to fail. The Nameless had even put the apples there to remind her of the oldest stories of temptation in the Book of Tribulation, the ones at the very beginning, the ones about obedience to Him or to yourself. He'd even given her a means to save the man... er, something had been given the means at any rate, and that was enough.
Emerging from the undergrowth onto the dirt path, Lyra raised her red right hand towards the panicking horse. The bandage she'd wrapped around it earlier was just a few bits of tattered cloth that did little to conceal the cursed thing, and the sight of it drawing nearer spooked the horse further. It started to thrash about, nearly toppling over but barely maintaining its balance. The rider who'd toppled off it was in more danger than ever now, she'd need to help him quickly.
If he was able to get free this would be easier. Calling to the man loud enough to overcome the horse's frantic noises, she asked "Sir? Can you move?" Her question went unanswered - the man was clearly unconscious or too stunned to respond. She'd hoped he could free himself while she held the horse's attention, she'd not wanted to hurt the panicking animal if she could avoid it. With him out and no real way to make it to the man to liberate him from the stirrup without the horse just falling onto her along with him if she tried, there was only one way she had to guarantee his safety.
I'm sorry about this. She took a couple steps closer to the horse, being certain to keep her right hand forward and the rest of her as far back as she could. The mad animal lashed out with a hoof in desperation at her, its precarious balance the cost of doing so. The poor things fall after its kick would crush its rider, and its hoof would have shattered bones and torn flesh if it'd gotten her anywhere but where it did. As it was, it predictably enough hit the only part of her she was presenting as a target - the Hand of Ruin.
The horse shrieked in agony one final time the second its hoof made contact with her hand. It seized up for a second, strips of horseflesh peeling off as blood ruptured in jets through its necrotizing hide. Chunks of it were disappearing, the burning remnants of organs and bones sloughing from these bite looking marks onto the bloody muck that until seconds ago had been a dirt road. The horse and its remnants burned and ashed until little remained - even the blood that had exploded outward in all directions had mostly vanished. All that was left was the saddle, stirrups, and saddlebags of the seemingly unconscious former rider, along with a muddy smear beneath them.
The Hand's destruction had outraced gravity, and the man
The sight of her handiwork making her have to resist the urge to vomit up the nothing she'd had to eat, Lyra checked her hand (undamaged, the red had darkened some, and grown to a little past her wrist,) and then carefully walked around the horse stained road to check on the fallen rider. She felt bad she'd had to kill his horse to save him - it wasn't the horse's fault it'd been spooked, her Hand scared her too. The man would probably be mad about what she'd done when he awoke (before her parents had given her away, she'd often heard them say that the loss of even one horse had meant they'd lose their farm) but then again, maybe he'd just be happy to be alive, and grateful to her for her efforts on his behalf.
Maybe even happy enough to share some food, if he has some in those bags... Hopeful she'd be rewarded by the Nameless for her good deed, the famished Lyra resisted the urge to check them while he was asleep and turned her hungry eyes off the saddlebags and back to the wounded man.
1. Help the rider out, he's probably hurt.
2. There's always those crabapples...
|# ? May 3, 2013 04:03|
Not wanting to be unfriendly, but distinctly uninterested in spending too much time with this tracker, Tomar reaches out and places his wooden hand into the firm grasp of this Outis. But the stranger doesn't seem to care: "Glad to have you Tomar. Glad. When we've killed it, you'll have the skin to replace what blankets you've lost."
"Outis, my hand. See? Frostbite. I can't draw a bow or use a spear. I'm no use to you."
"Eyes and Ears, Tomar, we need eyes and ears. Three or four stout boar-spears and a bowman is more than enough for a bear caught unaware, but we can't let this Devil catch us."
When morning comes around, Tomar finds himself eating lukewarm porridge in the longhouse, and is handed a sturdy pair of boots and a hatchet. Soon enough, the six men following his own tracks come down to the river. And despite the promising sleety drizzle from the early morning, the skies clear and he loses hope that his pawprints exiting downstream might be washed away. Only nine miles downstream - he should have gone further to where it was rockier, climbed out as a man and stepped lightly. Only he hadn't known a tracker would come.
The townsfolk walk along the bank, beating their way through shrubbery and over logs, But Outis wades deep into the cold water, and continues to find signs left from Tomar's passing the day before in the gravel and silt of the bottom.
"It's a clever beast. Devil-spawn for certain. I think-"
But then Simple Ned splashes into the water, looking for pawprints of his own. The idiot knocks into the tracker, and soon a cloud of silt is moving downstream with the water as the two splash around to regain their footing in the swift part of the channel. That would be his salvation, Tomar decided: he'd need to get Ned to ruin the tracks. And maybe do some ruining of his own.
Speleothing fucked around with this message at May 4, 2013 around 18:27
|# ? May 3, 2013 21:11|
Mayor Morlan Furey
Morlan's eyebrow raises archly as he beholds his subject, a slight smirk not unfamiliar to his face creeping up his cheek.
"Oh I would not worry overmuch for the parson. He has been within my lands for long enough that in my presence his body humbles itself naturally. His eyes dare not even touch my shadow. No there lies no power there and only power would dare match itself with a king! Power..."
Morlan straightens suddenly. Not for fear, for the voice is not chiding or angry. No the voice is warm, but breaking in emotion. The voice is the former mayor. The voice is his fathers.
"Morlan come here."
Morlan turns around slowly, his fathers figure stands bolt upright in the doorway. His fathers usual visit to inspect proudly his son's sums and penmanship halted in horror. His father's features mirror Morlan's except age has brought him a presence of dignity, a refined beard and pepper grey hair. His clothes also a mirror but with a red waistcoat I stead of the green. Morlan had often tried to imitate his fathers manner but now he Eli seatbelt stands with his feet spaced. Standing as powerfully as he can
"Leave us for now Primus. Tell your brethren of their new king. Report back soon."
Morlan powers his hand and Primus leaps acrobatically before scurrying into a convenient hole.
I had just meant to see you. I am afraid I will not come to you nor follow another order from your lips. I am he rightful king of this land and you will kneel."
The words seem absurd before this man but there is power in them all the same.
|# ? May 6, 2013 11:34|
Hash-Baz dreamed, a fitful and unpleasant sleep which plagued him with fearful thoughts. In his dream there was a voice within the storm, a bright red spark within darkness which called out to him with promises, promises that caused the gorge to rise in his throat and his flesh to creep. It said so many things and though he clasped his hands over his ears he could not stopper up his heart from receiving the words. It called his name, not the name of his fathers or the cursed epithet by which men called him now, a name strange but familiar, a name of smoke and bloody altars. It spoke to him and he dared not to reply, save to pray for the advent of his God to drive the foul darkness from his mind. In his dream he raised his voice to speak as he must but found he had no mouth. Fingers clawing at the blank flesh of his face he sucked in a deep gasp of air to try and push forth some semblance of sound.
The boy Ehud shook his shoulder gently, his voice low but urgent.
"Abba, wake up!"
Waking to find Ehud's hand on his shoulder, Hash-Baz wakes with his back against the cooling fire and an ache in his neck. The boy shakes him once more, and he grunts in response.
"Look! Err, well... I guess you can't. But they're there, in the distance I swear it! The Bright Angels! They soar in the Heavens above Acheya, and they circle the ruined town."
Pulling himself upright, he grabs the boy's arms and croaks hoarsely and urgently.
"Where? Tell me what you see, boy. How far are they?"
Gradually and with his empty eyes straining in the dark, he is turned northwards.
"They fly, loosely and in a circle above the ruined town high in the sky. Here is one who flies lower than the rest, dipping beneath the others to pass and pass again above the smashed buildings. He speaks and a brightness comes forth from his mouth. It is wide and covers all, it's so... it's so beautiful. He rises now and joins the others, and now they fly! Five of them in five directions."
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
Stealthily as he could, Cha'ac made his way through the brush Although he was hardly designed for woodcraft, he made reasonable progress and for his part left as little out of place in his wake save the odd startled animal. He traveled for days without rest, occasionally stopping to check and double check the condition of his core which remained ever the same. He heard them before he saw them, and through his approximated senses smelled them, pedlar-folk, travelers, performers, fortune-tellers, and thieves. It seemed that despite the long centuries and Usurper's rise some things remained ever the same. Their gaily colored wagons lay in a loose circle and in the distance he could hear the twangs of instruments of music and rowdy laughter. Standing atop a fallen tree a man in a broad brimmed hat clapped and directed the revelry of the travelers.
"Ho there! Who comes now, who travels abroad unaccompanied upon the company of Patchai and the Sisters Three?"
The music stops and the hands fly to weapons, dancers twirl suddenly to alert and martial positions, and children are shoved hastily aboard the nearest wagons. The man called out, intent and gaze drawn directly in Cha'ac's direction. He stood with his hands open, unarmed and wide at his sides.
"See now, we mean you no harm save what you mean us. Come forward and be recognized a friend or bide and do not."
Cha'ac considered his circumstances, if necessary he could despite the recent damage almost certainly put the entire camp and it's inhabitants to sword. It was a risky proposition for the pedlar-folk that he know of old were tricksy and vengeful folk, and there was always the chance that they would have yet some hidden artifice held in reserve for dire circumstances or lay some terrible curse upon him with their passing. At the edge of the campfire an old crone she muttered voicelessly to herself and clutched at her knobbed cane, laden down with tangled bells and malformed bones. A fetish or a spirit-catch? That was the last thing he needed at this point, some sort of mysterious and unpredictable curse. Also too of concern was the prospect that such a battle would draw the attention of his pursuers. The pedlar-folk were soft and made of meat, but oftentimes hid fangs of surprising sharpness beneath their colored scarves or canting words. In a worst case scenario even if he were to escape the battle unscathed there would likely be a fire which meant smoke which could be seen from the skies before he had the chance to call down a scouring wind to disperse it. Choosing the option that presented the least unsubstantiated risks, Cha'ac stepped out from behind the tree and raised his hands in a similar gesture.
"I also mean no harm."
The man grins and takes a pull of a flask from his hip, raises a finger and twirls it in the air. The music and life of the camp slowly find their pace again, though clearly the travelers remain tense.
"A metal man, as I live and breathe. Sastipe, there is no harm here save that which you bring with you. Come, join us at the fire, drink of our wine, share with us your tale. We are but simple travelers here. What have you got to lose?"
Mono speaks, his voice and chins quivering with righteous indignation and rage and the porters rush to obey. They push the man down and bind him, strong hands clamping down on him despite his maddened struggles.
"What are you doing?! Stop I say! Stop! You can't lay hands on a man of the cloth! Stop!"
Someone forces a gag into his mouth and others rush to wake the town, for there was a trial afoot. Fouls deeds, heresy, a man bearing false witness and professing unduly to being on of the cloth, and cake! Still lots of cake! They gather with such speed and alacrity that Mono scarcely has time to clear the trestle of the second load of cakes and call for his cheese board before the townsfolk gather upon his lawn, expectant with the hush of a trial and subsequent witch burning. Wiping his hands clean on a nearby rag, Mono slowly lumbers his way over to the open doors and begins to lay out the charges, the very grave and serious charges. Crime after blasphemous crime is laid bare for their examination, and as the evidence continues to build the prisoner turns red with rage as he struggles ineffectually against his bonds.
"..and that is why this man, no he doesn't even deserve the word, this worm, less than a beast and without an animal's cunning really, has been poisoning your cattle with an insidious poison. Subsequently the milk generated by the cattle will be tainted with a slow acting but deadly poison, but fear not those of strong flesh and constitution are able to metabolize the substance harmlessly. In keeping with our village's timeless tradition that none of the Nameless' bounty go to waste, I will gladly take it upon myself to stand for us all. Bring to me your cream, your butter, yea from the very mouths of babes the freshest and finest of dairy products must be brought for they are too small and frail to risk exposure to the poison overlong."
Visions of a daily parade of freshly churned butter, sweet cream, and many fine cheeses danced in his head and his excitement grew at the thought of it, casually and as an afterthought Mono waved to the bound man with the drumstick in his hand before taking another hearty bite.
"Oh yes and also how does the prisoner plead? Guilty? Good. In that case in order to save your soul, for the good of us all, and by the grace of the Nameless, purification by water. Now about that cream..."
Later in the evening as Mono leaned over the remains of a late supper, he considered the clergyman's last words. Somewhere between dunkings the prisoner had worked his gag off and even being held upside down and plunged into the freezing waters of the bay did nothing to deter the volume and ferocity of his voice.
"The Nameless will know! You wretches invite his wrath!"
Of course shortly thereafter the dunkings had increased in length and finality, but it was still troubling nonetheless. He looked out over the bay not more than a few hundred yards from his dining room window (admittedly as the room of greatest importance the dining room was most of the rooms in his fine house with no stairs) and the moon shining bright across the waters. The One Sea fairly glowed despite the night, and he almost felt that it was calling him, beckoning him to belly up against the shore.
Owain ap Hywel
"drat it! Coming! Hold on! Stop your banging! I'm coming! There you are boy! Weeks, you've been gone! How long does it take to make a circuit of three blessed villages? There's hardly a day's travel from here to Carmarthen and there to Penarth. What happened then, held captive by the Fair Folk were you?"
Master Glenn glares angrily at you from beneath his wispy white eyebrows, and at your side Llewyn sets his jaw and nods his head in agreement, his face stern as he does the calculations for himself as to how much road time would have been normally acceptable. Together the old men regard you critically and silently, sizing up your flaws and explanations for tardiness. The tension in the air is thick, and your future in the balance. Clearly there is much yet unsaid, and with trepidation you wait for the other metaphorical shoe to drop. That is, until one of them sniggers.
"Nah, he was probably just busy dodging angry fathers or hiding out from all the pretty young things mooning after him. It's amazing, Glenn. The talent of this boy! They'll be swooning and throwing themselves into his path wherever he goes after this harvest festival. Here I brought this for you. Old Barleycorn says it's going to be a fine crop in that orchard of his, and he was due me another four bottles from last year anyway. How've you been?"
Laughing in earnest, the two men clasp hands and Glenn welcomes you both into his home. Though somewhat cramped in comparison to mill or the fine houses of the town, Glenn's house is as organized and cozy as ever with everything in its own neat and ordered place, the paraphernalia of music and music making all around. Instruments, tools for making or tuning instruments, books on music, and even quills and parchment paper scribbled through with sheet music. After some shuffling around and clearing of space, he produces three battered cups and a wedge of old cheese atop a chipped plate.
"Oh you know how it is, creaky old bones and what have you. I'd certainly appreciate it if I had an apprentice around to help me do the gardening or milk the goat. But what could be done about that, I wonder? Now then Owain, tell me of your trip. What's the latest news?"
Smiling wryly, you stand to and tell your Master of the latest news. Weddings, deaths, and the latest country gossip (and the calls for music or tale telling in between), telling of the lives and turnings of the season as meticulous and well directed like clockwork framed by the hand of the Nameless. Your father sets his cup down on an old bench and watches you practice this facet of your craft, his hands folded in his lap contentedly.
"I really have to give credit where it's due Glenn, you've done a drat fine job with him. If what he just played in the meadow down there is any example of what you've been teaching him you're the best teacher we could ever have found."
Glenn snorts and pours himself another cup.
"More like I'm the only teacher you could have found, unless you've got a chest full of gold or fancy titles for Powell. But I'll take the compliment."
"Ah you, joking aside you should have seen it. This song, I just can't begin to even describe it. It was positively err, enchanting. It was almost as if the beasts of the field and birds themselves were stopped to listen to with us. I've never heard anything like it."
With a start, Glenn coughs. Loudly and almost painfully he coughs, hands reaching to catch the cup before it falls. As you reach across the bench to steady him he looks up at you, somewhat pale.
"-sorry, no cause for alarm. Must have gone down the wrong pipe is all. Yes Owain is truly the greatest musician I have ever taught. He's got a rare talent for music which I think is the greatest gift of all he could have received from the Nameless, though He has blessed us in so many other things. Good enough that he need not rely on spurious half formed things best left away from the light of day and flights of fancy. You know that right, boy? You're good enough without any of that other stuff. You know it, we all know it. Everyone loves you and your work."
"Oh aye, of course he does! But I'm telling you, this song it was like nothing before. I mean there's music and then there's an entirely other level of well alright, music. He's sure to be able to take the wreath away from Powell. Can you imagine that? That old sour puss turning his nose up at the rest of us as he stands on the stage, waiting for his award only to find that he's been bested by another?"
Glenn sighs and motions for you to clear away the plate, and between them he and your father catch up on the latest of local happenings. Home after a long journey (it was only really about nine or so days) you find that there's still plenty of chores and laundry to do about the house just piling up and needing to be done. And so you work and the days pass. By day you see to your duties and Master Glenn's lessons, learning the ways of the old songs, the arrangements and movements which his cracked but still deft fingers pull forth from his battered lute, and by night you stare out the window from your cot at the waxing of the Moon. It whispers to you, dogged slips of a cantabile which eases the pain of fevers, a courante to make the potatoes grow fat and large as a man's head albeit somewhat strange in shape and with brightly colored leaves.
In the days before the harvest festival you do and learn much, and from your window at night you learn even more. The Moon is nearly full, and as the festival is nigh you feel a strange sense of restlessness. Restlessness as if something is calling for you out in the deep wood. On his cot in the corner, Master Glenn sleeps, his breathing slow and deep as always.
The horse screamed, almost human-like in its agony and even after its passing the cry seemed to hang in the air already thick with the scent of ash and dying. Carefully and gently she knelt in the rocky soil beside the man, doing her best to avoid the angry blotch of blasted terrain that marked the horse's passing.
"Sir are you alright? Do you need help?"
Brushing the hair from his brow she admired his strong features, and by the cut of his clothes and the sword at his side he was clearly no simple farmer. Feeling her way carefully across his head she found a massive bump, easily the size of a hen's egg forming a hands breadth above the base of his neck. The man's eyes flutter and his lips move but nothing of volume or sense makes it out. Thinking back to what training she had received at the convent Lyra realized that she had little to no idea how to treat a man with a head injury. But maybe... maybe he was thirsty or could do with a cool rag on his head to help bring down the swelling? Reaching down she tore a strip from the edge of her ragged dress, but upon reflection recalled that although safe her chosen campsite was at least half a day's walk to the nearest source of water.
It's not robbing if I'm just looking to help. It's not robbing if I'm just looking to help. He needs water is all.
Thinking steadily to herself as she did, she picked open the clasp of the saddlebag one handed, and began to cautiously feel about its contents. Miraculously (or perhaps guided by the blessed hand of the Nameless) the first object that she grasped had the distinctive slosh and squeeze of a waterskin and triumphantly she lifted it out. Taking sense of her priorities she moistened the rag and fed the man a steady sip before slaking her own thirst. Enlivened by the water she half carried, half dragged him from the road and into the shade of the old stones. Once sure that he was situated comfortably she turned her attention towards the saddlebag once more maybe there was something else in there, something that she could use to help him further? Setting both down she thought about it and dashed over to the tree across the road, hastily plucking the ones closest to the top in the hopes that they would be ripest and least likely filled with worms before retreating to her lair. The inside of the bag was heavy with travel bread, wrapped sausages, unidentified implements, and somewhere near the very bottom a sheaf of bound papers.
"Who? Who's there? Where am I? Why is everything dark?"
"I'm Ly- erm, Ferris. My name is Ferris."
Wait that doesn't make any sense, why would the name Ferris start with a Ly?
"Linda Ferris! But I'm much more comfortable with Ferris. Call me Ferris, please. I found you by the side of the road, and it seems that your horse... your horse passed on without you."
"Brenner, Brenner Smith. Why is it so dark? Have I been out for most of the night? Why haven't you lit a campfire?"
To her horror, Lyra realized that the man's eyes were wide open but unseeing. She waved her good hand experimentally before him, but his eyes drew no focus or gave any sign. Brenner grew agitated and struggled to rise despite his feeble limbs as she struggled to think of something to say, even a comforting lie.
"Shh, no it's alright. I'm here and I'll help you. After all does it not say in the Book of Tribulation that like should help like Would you like some more water? I found your waterskin, and I've got some crabapples too if you think you can stomach them."
"There, what did I tell you? Clever as a man, that Devil Bear. What kind of animal knows to travel downstream through a river or is cruel enough to set fires of good mens homes? A most strange and dangerous beast, I'd say. The track's a bit lost here for sure but I have a hunch that if we follow along downstream we'll be able to spot where it finally made its way back to dry land, maybe even track the beast back to its lair."
Outis hauled Simple Ned out of the water, doing so with ease despite the other man's clumsy bulk. As the oaf stumbled his way back towards the rest of the party, Tomar cast a furtive look about to make sure that noone else was looking before pointing to the water and whispering quietly.
"There Ned, I think you might have caught a fish. Shh, it's a secret. Keep it quiet or you'll scare away the fish. He just slipped away from you there, you know what you should do? Really get down in there and give it another look. He's just hiding down in the mud there I'll bet. What a treat it would be, fish for lunch!"
"Oh that is a great idea Tomar. That must be a very clever fish. Maybe it's also a devil too?"
Brow furrowed in concentration Simple Ned gets down on his hands and knees in the icy water, intent on finding a non-existent fish and for his efforts only muddying the waters further.
"What a queer thing this Devil Bear is, wouldn't you say so Tomar? To travel so many miles downriver, you'd think it was paranoid (rightly so as it turns out) or afraid of being caught out. What secrets it must be hiding. By gosh, I think I see a track! Over here, what's that over there by the mud. Come on man! Use your eyes while I cover you in case the beast yet lies in wait!"
Grasping Tomar's shoulder he nudged him towards the edge of the riverbank, pointing with his borrowed spear towards an outcropping of mud amidst the grey rock. Knowing clearly that this was not where he had left the river Tomar pushed forward, his heart leaping at the opportunity to set the tracker on a false track. Leaning into the brush he slowly but carefully shifted his hand out, intent on leaving a newer false track when suddenly the tracker spoke and his blood ran cold.
"I know what you are Tomar. Are you tired of playing around yet? Ah, ah, no don't. I've got quite a grip on this boar-spear and if panicked I might just give a jerk and drive it straight into your spine. Terrible way for a man to go out, don't you think? Even if he is a Devil Bear. Now tell the others that it was nothing after all, and I'll have them move further along the edge of the river towards the underbrush. We are nearing the spot where you climbed out aren't we? Before you changed back into a man?"
Heart in his throat, Tomar complied and slowly tried to rise only to find the point of the boar-spear pressing against his back.
"It's a rare and precious thing you've been gifted. So precious that lo these many seasons I've heard the baying, scented it on the wind. Those that gave it to you had little use of it, and in your meager way you've done well enough. But it could be used for so much more..."
He smiles crookedly through his scarred lips.
"What would you say to a trade? Not to threaten you or anything, but keep in mind that even if you were to change I need but shout and the others will be upon us in a flash. It's quite clear to me that you're out of your depth. Give up your burden Tomar, and I can make this all go away. The townspeople will still need to find a bear of course, they're probably sharpening their knives and preparing the smokehouses as we speak, but it need not be you that they gut and eat, not your fat they render or your paws they dip and roast."
Mayor Morlan Furey
With a nod Primus scurries himself on his way, intent on doing your bidding. Already you feel stronger, greater and more regal, the tiny trickle of his allegiance and oath binding him to you as surely as any chain of mere iron.
"Morlan...no... you couldn't have."
"I'm sorry so-"
Stiffly and awkwardly at first, the former Mayor kneels before his rightful liege. A war of emotions plays out across his face before settling into a visage of dignified resignation.
"Your Majesty. It's good to see you come into your own at least, Sire. How may I best serve you?"
Somewhat in surprise but elated that it worked, you stop and think to yourself for a moment. What could he do to serve you best? There wasn't much of a plan or stratagem at work here yet, but as all good monarchs you know clearly that your first instincts are always the best ones.
"*Ahem* Sooo, anywho Sire. I did mean to ask ye before also, but why is it that you've chosen to return all akimbo an such? Was it because of the doings of He-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named? Perhaps choosing to exercise a clever distraction while the rest of the plan comes about til ye can rise in all yer fullness and glory and whatnot?"
At your feet and from seemingly every corner, nook, cranny, or crack hundreds of tiny eyes stare back at you. Primus squeezes himself out of the hole and scampers his way over, taking a bow and joining the ex-Mayor in a respectful position before you.
"Only if yer looking for yer Regalia I think perhaps we can easily scoot out and find it in a bit. Ish. A bit-ish for sure. The Rod I think ought to be most easy, an the Orb ah well. It's definitely not lost! Only maybe a bit hard to place. The Sword's easy though. Although it's been broke."
Puppies are dicks fucked around with this message at May 7, 2013 around 02:07
|# ? May 7, 2013 01:45|
Brenner seemed much less interested in wormy apples than he did his inability to see. He kept trying to rise, or to clear the darkness from his eyes - succeeding at neither, he mostly just ended up with more dirt on his nice clothing. The look of confusion gradually shifting towards anger and panic on his otherwise handsome face was causing Lyra more pain than weeks of hunger ever had. It was her fault after all. Lyra was well versed in receiving suffering; she was wholly unused to the emotions involved in doling it out. She didn't like it all that much.
Steeling herself, Lyra kneeled next to the man. She'd tell him everything she could; if he hated her, she deserved it. "Sir - er, Brenner. It's not night, it's... I was hidden near the road, and I think your horse saw me and got scared. You fell off and hit your head," she used her non-cursed hand to gently trace a wide circle around the grotesque bump that had formed, "here. Your horse fell too." It had fallen, to her hand specifically and not to gravity, so this wasn't a lie so much as a linguistic misdirection. "I pulled you from the road to here, which is where I was encamped so you know, along with the leather bags and straps and stuff from your horse."
You can tell him. You need to tell him. "And, er... if it wasn't for me, you'd be unhurt and riding that still alive horse. I'm sorry, I really am." She was sure the quavering in her voice - which even a blind man could tell accompanied her starting to cry a little - would sound manipulative to him, this wasn't actually the case. She felt terrible about what she'd done to such a nice and strong looking man and putting it all in words wasn't helping. "If you'll let me, I want to help you get to the next town to find a physician or priest, but I understand if you don't want that. The bump looks bad, but it can't be all that bad, right? Surely it can be mended"
Her awkward confessional finished, Lyra was surprised - unpleasantly, very surprised - by his response. "Why were you hiding? Are you by yourself, or with others?" Brenner didn't sound so much angry as cold and weak, which Lyra found to be worse.
"I'm maimed, traveling alone and with no weapons, hiding from men has helped keep me safe so far. I never imagined it'd cause this though sir, you have to believe me." Mostly all true.
Either he didn't like her answer, or had nothing else to say to her. Between giving her the silent treatment and two naps that looked more to her like death than sleeping, it took Brenner most of the day to break the silence. Lyra spent most of it eating a few apples, moving Brenner's things out of sight (carefully mind you, she'd caused him enough trouble already,) avoiding reading the bundle of papers he had tucked away and just flat out staring at him with an expression of wonderment, almost awe, on her face.
She'd never admit it to anyone, but in a way his (hopefully temporary of course) blindness was almost a blessing. It'd been months since she'd been around someone longer than a day at the most - her hand made basic human contact perilous. Brenner's blindness prevented him from either trying to drive her away or capture her to try and collect the bounty she'd seen posted everywhere she went. He was well dressed, well proportioned, and reminded Lyra a little bit of some of the stories she'd heard, the ones about Heroes and Monsters some of the other girls at the convent had seemingly invented when the Sisters were out of earshot. Traveling with him to whatever town lay ahead was small potatoes compared to saving kingdoms or fighting dragons, but it was certainly more fun to contemplate than more nights of silently and solitarily trudging through the wilderness.
It was night by the time Brenner started talking to her again. He seemed less surly after his rest, a little bit stronger in Lyra's hopeful (and potentially hormonally shrouded) eyes. "Its dusk or after, I can hear it. Should be easier for you, us, to travel. Redrocks the next town along the road. Cook something for me? I'm starving." He sat up, the wet cloth she'd put on his forehead falling off into the tall grass all around them.
Lyra'd never heard sweeter words. It took her almost an hour (she explained that she was missing her hand, not specifying which) to figure out how to use Brenner's flint and steel to get their fire going, but the cooked sausage and warmed bread they had when her work was done... Nameless, it had been incredible. They ate in silence, but only because both were too busy feasting to do anything but savor the meal. It'd been months since she'd eaten that well, and the alien feeling of a full stomach was everything she'd remembered it being and more.
Brenner seemed ready to leave, and she eventually stowed his things in the saddlebags, threw it over her shoulder (carefully holding her right hand out as far as possible away from her body to avoid accidental contact,) and reached out to him with her left. "We'll follow the road unless we hear someone coming, all right? If that happens we're gonna need to hide. Between your eyes and my, er, missing hand we're easy pickings for bandits or other bad people."
1. Guide Brenner to Redrock so he can get cared for before parting company. Hopefully it's just that easy.
2. Ask him about himself along the way if he feels like talking. Lyra's got a little crush.
Rauri fucked around with this message at May 11, 2013 around 16:48
|# ? May 11, 2013 16:40|
Listening to Ehud speak, Hash-Baz bends his protesting knees, and dips his head to the ground, his forehead touching the dirt. "Strong and faithful are the servants of the Nameless, ever loyal, ever helpful, guardians of man, slayers of demons..." he speaks, his words archaic and ancient in grammar and vocabulary, but recognizable. Ehud, catching on, bows to the distant figures and follows Hash-Baz in his chant. They slowly work their way through the old chant, the rhythm of the lines stepping lightly as Hash-Baz recites the work of ancient tongues.
As he comes to a finish, he can hear the sound of quiet footsteps, of unshod feet stepping on the sandy stones. He keeps his head to the ground, and when he senses Ehud about to lift his head, his arm shoots out to keep the boy from doing so. Far away the boy might've been unharmed, but he could expect to look upon one so brilliant so close without harm.
"This lowly servant of the Increate greets thee, fleetest of all creation, wiser than all the sages, stronger than all armies. I ask your blessing, that I may do the will of our master, whose gaze encompasses all things."
|# ? May 14, 2013 03:48|
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
"I have lost many things, traveller." Cha'ac answered on a neutral tone, as he stepped forward, shield-arm down and his sword sheathed. "Including my name." He did not intend to let them know what exactly he was, but he also had no real care to destroy them, as easy as it might have been. Neutrality, as it is, often is the best stance for somebody on their own, until they know for certain who is an ally, and who an enemy. As such, he stepped into the circle, sitting down on his knees to show further that he was no threat to them. "I am grateful for your hospitality, but food and drink corrupt my inner workings, so I must respectfully decline." He saw a few of the peddlers looking at him with heads cocked in curiosity as they heard the rattle in his chest, but he paid it no mind. He knew that to the peddler-folk, tales were as good as gold, if not better. They would come around. "As for my tale...it's one of loss, but also of intrigue, of darkness and light, of a desperate fight and a hopeful dream. If such a tale is what you want to hear, then please, let me tell it."
A few of the more daring children immediately sat next to him, heedless of their parents' distrust. With wonder in their eyes they looked up to him, anticipating a tale such as they had never heard. "I am old, travellers. Older than you could imagine. My tale begins when my creator, an old, humble man, with nothing but a talent for clockwork and a little bit of magic, created me and my brothers. For his family in blood had long since died, and it had made him bitter, so he wished for company to grace him once again, company that would not fall from illness or suffer in hunger and thirst. So he created us, and we were marvels to him. Metal men, machine men, as tall as the healthiest young lad in the village, and many times stronger. My creator was a kind man, so he wished to share our wonder with the rest of the village. He put us to task, helping his friends with any kind of task. A fallen log that would take two dozen strong arms a full day to move up, would take me and one of my brothers but twenty minutes. Fields that needed to be tilled were so done in a day or two, for at night we needed no sleep."
"The villagers were wary, but our help was invaluable, and in time they accepted us as one of their own. Until a dark day came upon us. You see, word had spread of our creation, by travelling merchants and other folk. So with greed in their hearts, a group of men had come to town. They desired to enslave us, so that they would have an army of metal men to conquer and steal for them. My brothers and I had never fought before, but their simple weapons could not hurt us, so their struggle was futile. Our victory was assured. But despite that, our lives had been irrevocably changed. For greed lurks in evil men's hearts everywhere, and news of our skirmish spread even faster than the news of our existence. Many thugs came to claim us, but all of them fell before our metal fists. Yet our victories were not without losses. First, innocent bystanders, who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. And then, my brother, the smallest of our group, whose head was taken off and a spear driven in his innards, destroying them beyond repair."
Cha'ac paused, to commemorate the death of his brother, even if his version of events had been fiction. Music was no longer playing, nor were there tense whispers and furtive glances in his direction. The travellers had become wrapped up in his tale. Well, at least they weren't afraid of him anymore. That was good. Although he did not let his guard down, he continued, his voice still steady and face implacable. "Our creator was tired of so much death happening around him and those he cared about, so he exiled himself to the nearby mountains, leaving the village with us to avoid further unnecessary bloodshed. Because of the loss of our brother, he gave us the skill to fight, so that the loss he had created us to avoid would not be forced on him still. So we lived in peace for a while, but once again, it did not last."
"Because we had fought - and killed - so many men, our existence finally caught the eye of He in the Sky Citadel. Deeming us as demons and not worthy of this land, he sent his servants to destroy us. And they succeeded - almost. When they fell upon my creator's house, they destroyed him and my brothers with such ease, they could barely blink. I only survived by mere luck. You see, I was out in the woods, gathering kindling. As His servants rushed overhead, I hid myself as best I could. Only when I was absolutely sure they had gone, when the sun had long since set past the horizon, did I rise and mourn my fallen family. I built them a small cairn, in the middle of the crater where our house had once stood. With that monument so completed, I abandoned my name and set off, looking for...safety. That was all I'd ever wanted. All I still want."
"A place where the wrathful beings will not haunt me, so I can live in peace. Is that not something I could ask for? So I've been walking ever since, avoiding those who would destroy me. For years now, I've been walking. It was only recently that I met the servants of the Nameless again. But by pure luck, I managed to avoid most of their force - it flung me far away, into this forest. And so it was I came to this place, with this rattle in my chest." He knocked his torso lightly with his finger to emphasize his point. "I would not wish to bring you inconvenience, or worse, so as soon as you'll wish it, I'll go." Cha'ac looked at the one who had invited him, but made no move yet. Being rude was the gravest insult you could bring on one such as him, and as careful as he had been, he was not about to muck it up now.
|# ? May 14, 2013 14:06|
Owain ap Hywel
It was clear to Owain that his master knew - or suspected - something more than raw talent in the young man’s innovations. It was the only explanation he had for the way Glenn reacted to his new forms and compositions. It was not the irritation of a master having to dissuade childish tinkering. Whenever he tried to raise a question or inspiration that had come to him in the night, Master Glenn reacted with what he could only think was thinly disguised fear and worry. And always the same refrain that he had first spoken during the meeting with his father “You don’t need any of that, boy! The Nameless has gifted us with fine music, and you can play that as well as anyone. Practice harder, if you wish to beat Powell, don’t waste your energy with these... other things.” And then, invariably, he would assign Owain some menial or tedious task and stomp off, permitting no objection or argument.
But he could find no way to raise the subject, and shied away from coming at it directly. Tell me about the folk in the wood, Master Glenn? Do you know the village in the vale, that can only be found in the light of the moon? How could he say such a thing? Glenn would think him mad, or possessed. Or, the greater fear that clenched his gut, Master Glenn might truly have something to say, for he was as learned a man as any outside the clergy, and better informed than them on matters not pertaining to the Glory of the Nameless. And Owain wasn’t sure he wanted to hear what Glenn might have to tell.
So, in the day, Owain buckled down and practiced the traditional ballads and hymns, praising the virtues of the Nameless and thanking Him for His manifold gifts on the people of the Firmament. After a prolonged discussion with Master Glenn he had selected one of these for his performance. The Angel’s Lament was a particularly complicated tune, rarely played because of it’s demanding form, that related the sorrow of one of the Nameless’ Angels that his foes continued their pitiful resistance of the great Nameless, ensuring their destruction. It was intended to show the great compassion and mercy of the Nameless, while simultaneously demonstrating his power and implacability to those that continued to defy him.
That was for the day, and to please Master Glenn. But when night fell, Owain’s mind and hands turned to other things, and under the moon’s glow he strung together snatches of music that came to him mind fully-formed, weaving an intricate melody for the harp. There were no words for the tune yet, but he hardly thought they were needed - the notes themselves seemed to speak far more eloquently than stumbling words. When he finished assembling a verse he could almost see the story dancing in the edge of his vision.
So energized was he by the work on two songs and the thrill of the upcoming competition, Owain never thought to wonder where he got the energy to compose all night and practice and work all day. As the moon grew he hardly felt the need to sleep at all, and threw himself into his labors without a pause. Master Glenn did warn him not to run himself ragged before the festival, but Owain’s work only seemed to improve and so he eventually stopped his warnings - though not without a tinge of concern.
As the moon grows full, Owain realizes that his composition is complete. He hardly feels the need to practice it once it is done - it’s as if he can feel the entire melody swirling in his head, and he need only place hands to harp to have it spill forth like fine wine from a bottle. So on this night he carefully rises, picking up his harp with one hand on the strings to still any noise. Taking his cloak from a hook by the door, he carefully unhitches the latch and slips out into the night. Even if the moon didn’t light the way, he feels that he would know the path he takes. Down the hill, through the fields, past where he had so mightily impressed his family - Cadoc and Anwyn are still humming that tune while they work in the mill.
He pauses for a moment at the edge of the wood, but the call is all the stronger here and he presses on - bears and wolves and other troubles forgotten. There are few paths, hardly trails, and Owain is not a woodsmen. But his feet find sure purchase and he winds between the trees and brushes, deeper and deeper into the forest. He’s not sure how long he walks - it must be an hour at least - before he steps into a shallow clearing, a low space where a great tree had fallen and left a gap in the canopy for the moon to shine through. In the center is a ring of pale flowers, almost seeming to glow in the silver light.
Owain hesitates again, eyes searching the twisting shadows caused by moonlight spilling through the canopy around. What had brought him all this way?
|# ? May 14, 2013 15:12|
Tomar's mind raced. How could anyone know his secret? How could he survive without it? He couldn't give it up, but he couldn't let Outis live either. Not if he'd been tracking him just to steal it. But an outsider would be easy to get rid of. If he could trust his former friends.
"You can have this thing. Okay. You can have it, you turd."
Outis let him up and in a moment they were headed back to the group. The other men weren't far away, and once they had started downstream again, Tomar stopped and asked Ned to help him adjust his carved hand. "You know Ned, I think Outis is a bad man. I think he's a witch."
"Is he?" Ned whispered back.
"Oh yes. He asked me for a terrible thing back there at the bank. If he'd known I was a hirdman, he wouldn't have dared."
"What should we do?"
"Wait, for now."
After another two hours of tracking downstream, they paused for a lunch of dried meat. Outis was smiling broadly, boasting of his confidence that a bear would be caught - today or tomorrow or the next day. The men seemed less sure. As the day had gone on, they'd gone further and further without them seeing a single sign. Within another hour of tracking, Tomar had managed another private conversation, with Faenn - one of his brother Hirdmen.
"The man is a witch, Faenn."
"His is odd, yes. But he's an Outsider. They can be strange without being witches."
"He wanted me to help him. Something about a wooden hand holding a stone dagger."
"At the riverbank, when he was holding that spear so close to me as I found the badger tracks."
Fairly soon after, they reached the place where Tomar had left the stream: a broken bush upon the right bank. Faenn and Outis both looked at it closely, but Outis insisted it was a moose that had left the stream there. Sure enough, once they had moved downstream a little further, Outis found more tracks. And by eveningtime, they were following what Outis insisted was a bear through the woods on the wrong side of the river. But it was too dark to track, and Outis had them gather firewood and raise a windbreak against a boulder. Outis took first watch, and as the fire warmed the men, they drifted to sleep one-by-one, two of the five not sure if they could trust the Outsider, and the fifth knowing it absolutely. As soon as all the others were sleeping. Outis knocked Tomar with the butt of a spear.
"Up. It's time. We're doing it now."
Tomar was marched into the woods, not too far, but a place where they couldn't see the fire. Their destination was a clearing filled with white flowers - the slabs of granite that defined the edges were barely more than a dozen feet apart. Once again the spear-tip pressed against his spine, and he heard the tracker's sinister words:
"You think you're clever to try to turn the others against me? You think I wouldn't know until it was too late? I think I'll just kill you now. In the moonlight, standing in this stone circle, I might even be able to take the power from your corpse."
"What about the others? You can't kill me and get away with it."
"I'll tell them I woke you for your watch and who knows what happened after?"
But this time, Tomar wasn't pinned to the ground. He was free to take matters into his own paws. And before Outis could finish his sentence, a backhand the size of a dinner plate sent him tumbling into a stone. Tomar picked up the fallen boarspear and cradled it in his elbow.
"I'd let you live, let the others deal with you. But I'm not sure if you've got a magic to make them do what you want. Best to kill you before they get here."
Tomar took out his dagger and gouged his left arm, taking a chip out of the wood like he had blocked a strike with it. Putting the knife back into its sheath, he called out: "HELP! WITCH! HELP! WITCH! HELP!"
Speleothing fucked around with this message at May 15, 2013 around 02:05
|# ? May 14, 2013 23:44|
Mono walked to that dining room window now, the meal shifting and settling in his stomach as he did so. Hands barely clasped behind his back, he looked upon the sea in contemplation. He imagined he was the height of noble visage, and so lofty were his thoughts that he made a mental note that this, this was the moment the world changed for the better. The moment of greatest good, knowing what must be done. Over that water he imagined fires, great towering flames and the food they consumed, and he despaired. Beyond Seaboard, where this so-called clergy reigned over madness, burning harvests and forcing starvation, it was enough to bring a solitary tear to his eye that began to make the arduous trek over his ample cheek. Just as he was to make an arduous trek!
His plans laid out having been inspired by that sea, he returned to his meal. He had selected this room to dine in for a few reasons. There was the oven within which he toasted berries to sweeten his wine. Here was the door to the sea, the closest point his sprawling mansion reached to that bountiful liquid. And there upon his table was the priest, or at least what remained of him - the body he was, ah, "consecrating". It was part of his new philosophy, the one he was certain would change the world: Waste Not Want Not. The clergyman was light enough now that Mono himself could heft the remains into the sea, where they would float away! At worst, should they find it, the villagers might think it attacked by some shark or kraken, and this was ideal; as powerful as his word was, it could not convince others that he was of a light and athletic build (thus seriously hampering his lovelife), as such he seriously doubted he could talk himself out of this one. Not yet. Not yet, but he would preach of the Nameless, of the bounty He Above had left for them all, that this awful, despicable clergy was wasting! Sacrificing goodness to the flames. All that food, uneaten, oh dear he was openly weeping again. Weeping for the SINS upon this earth, sins he would undo in the name of benevolence and wisdom he alone held, and as he hefted up the lightened remains and heavily tread to the shoreline upon that dark night he did so oblivious to any hypocrisy that might exist between his thoughts and actions, and he answered the One Sea's call.
Mono shall preach to the masses! He will say the Good Word! And that word is thus: Waste is a Sin. Waste not want not! We, my flock, shall bring this word to the outside! The other villages, they starve under the cruel yolk of the Clergy! We were not placed here to suffer, I see that in the gentle warmth of day and the sweet breeze of the sea wind! I see that in the shining eyes of children and so forth, but I especially see that in the bountiful harvest of these lands that the Nameless did take up His gossamer thread and shining needle and sew together like a great quilt. Look around you, is this a plane of suffering? No! Then why would the clergy bring it upon us? They are false! I, Mono, shall read the message the Nameless has writ upon all lands and I, Mono, shall bring it to the masses! And I, your shepard, shall use Beguilement (Greater) to do so as I guide my flock to the nearest town upon the coast to preach and lay foundation for the Church of Gratitude for the Nameless and All His Works (shorthand Church of Gratitude is fine too)!
Hamshot fucked around with this message at May 15, 2013 around 10:03
|# ? May 15, 2013 09:59|
Lyra and Brenner walked down the dusty road, the bright day and birdsong framing their casual chatter about their respective childhoods.
"There's worse than bandits about, although as a traveler slowly making your way between towns you might not yet have heard. There's a man-eating witch in this area."
Her heart fell in her chest at his words, and her blood ran cold. Disappointment and anguish warred across her face as he blithely continued, leaning against her shoulder as she plodded forward mechanically.
"It's said that the witch Devilhand made some foul pact with one of the Broken, murdering the good women of her convent in exchange for dark powers. We don't know for certain what those powers are exactly, but of her victims there is no blood or bone remaining once she is through with them. We can only assume the worst. The Examiners have been following a trail of ruin and destruction, gathering forces at each stop in the hopes of bringing her to justice. I'm a forerunner for their party sent ahead to warn villages of her coming, if you go into my saddlebag you'll find a bound set of missives from the Bishop and the Chief Examiner. There should be some posters near the top, so you can get an idea of what she looks like so you know who to watch out for."
He stopped, sensing something amiss or out of place from the increased tension in her body. He reached out tentatively, patting her shoulder and head comfortingly and inquisitively.
"Linda? Are you alright?"
She opened her mouth to speak but stopped, unsure as to what to actually say. Maybe she could defend herself? Tell the truth about the convent and the stone? She certainly hadn't killed everyone else there in exchange for dark powers, and Brenner was an honest and reasonable man. He'd understand if she explained things carefully and honestly, right? But what if he didn't?
"Is someone there?"
Before she can decide he has a dagger in his hand, stepping forward protectively and blind eyes scanning the area fruitlessly. He whispered quietly to her as he did.
"Point me towards them and I'll buy you time to get away. I might not look it, but I know my way around a fight. In the least I'll be able to slow them down. Try to find my horse, she's well trained and wouldn't have wandered far despite the fall. Her name is Ladybird and she'll probably come straight to you if you hold out one of those apples."
"No, Brenner I-"
Her hand burned, and turning in response to a flicker at the corner of her eye she saw them. Skulking at the edge of the wood just ahead in the road, low things, darkling things with red eyes. By some instinct she knew they were very dangerous, and by the throbbing of her hand that they were here for her. A cloud passed overhead and the things grew closer, creeping and clinging tight against the shadowy ground. Following the orientation of her body, he interposed himself between her and the creatures and hissed.
"Leave the bag and run."
Head pressed against the dusty earth, Hash-Baz felt the coming of the angel as easily as he would have had he retained his vision. He feels the pressure of the light against his skin, without heat but sharp in sensation and the presence of it makes the world more vivid and almost painful when it speaks. Its voice is like the echo of ages grinding, hollow like the silence after the thunder's passing.
"Man, walker of these arid wastes. Boy, shorn but untested by the hand of time and faith. You greet us with the ancient oaths, which is right. Fear not, for I am of the Bright Angels of the Nameless, bearer of His word. Be blessed with peace, O Man, for the gift of the Nameless to your people is an era of eternal peace. I and my brothers seek that which would endanger that peace and the bounty granted you by the Nameless. SPEAK, and tell me of what has transpired in this place."
The angel's words carry with them a tone of finality and gentleness despite the volume and force of its speech, and Hash-Baz has scarcely the chance to open his mouth when Ehud begins to babble.
"Th-th-the black cloud! It struck down the false priest and cleansed the town by the will of the Nameless! So chastised, the townspeople dispersed by command of the prophet and have moved on to spread the word of the deed."
Placing a hand of restraint on the boy's arm, Hash-Baz attempts to calm Ehud but can do little to stem the torrent of nervous speech streaming forth from his lips.
"We have held vigil, Bright Angel, and watched! And rites! We've performed the right rites to consign their souls to His keeping!"
An easing, a slight cessation of pressure against the forefront of his mind allowed him to realize that the angel's attention was no longer focused on them, although in a flicker it returned.
"Then you have done well, Boy. Your duties have been acquitted well. Your honesty and deeds will be remembered. Lift up your head, Man, that I may give to you a blessing as reward for your faith and true keeping, for the word I bear is Mercy."
Could this be? There are tales, plenty of instances not quite in living memory, of miracles performed by the clergy or the Bright Angels where the maimed or wounded are made whole. Hash-Baz slowly raised his head, empty sockets towards the angel in the hopes of reaching an end to the darkness. He waited eagerly, his expression neutral and his faith bolstered regardless of whatever would happen next. He waited, and waited.
"Ah. How peculiar. I must go now, for other tasks await. Peace be with you."
"Abba, it flies upwards into the heavens. It's so beautiful, so bright. It must have been recalled to the Sky Citadel, or called to some other urgent task. What a wonder! It gave you its blessing!"
Surprised but hardly put out by the angel's words and passing, Hash-Baz rose creakily to his feet and brushed the dust from his robes, reaching for his staff and his mind flaring and cogitating on the ramifications of what had just occurred.
"Yes, well we should still continue towards the South to the next settlement."
They travel, a distance of miles made shorter by Ehud's rising enthusiasm given the recent encounter and peppered by his questions about the provenance of the Bright Angels and after stopping at a shaded outcropping of rock for midday prayers, Hash-Baz held up a hand to stay the forward rush of his apprentice.
"Wait. How far have we traveled, how close are we to the village?"
"Perhaps two or three miles? We should be there within the hour, why?"
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
The pedlar-folk are enraptured by Cha'ac's tale. The more daring children, creeping forward and nearer as he spoke raised tiny gasps of surprise and sympathy at his loss, and as he finished many were the sighs of regret and drinks poured to friends and family irrevocably lost. Ultimately they rest at his feet, and the most daring of them whisper forward to poke tentatively at his steely skin before rolling away behind the skirts of their mothers.
"No, metal one we shall not turn you aside for a guest once invited is a friend and guaranteed safety while in the bounds of our camp. But what is safety in this day and age? We are all chaff floating upon the wind, and our greatest strength is the fact that we're too small and fast moving to matter for those Above to lend a care. We'll be gone in the morrow before your pursuers have found your track, and likely be able to confound the efforts of searchers seeking this camp."
The man grins, his golden tooth flashing brightly in the firelight and he eases down comfortably beside Cha'ac, around them the music and revelry slowly begin again.
"My name is Tomino, you say that you do not drink for it would foul your workings, like a clock? Ah, a shame for this is fine wine most recently got but pour one out with us in honor of your lost kin, and join us at my fire. We cannot give you safety but if you're able to pull your weight or give us something in trade you're welcome to travel with us towards the next town. Ah, also! My old mother knows a few things about clocks, and the odd bit of fortune telling and charms as well."
Across the fire an old woman bares her gums at Cha'ac, clutching a knobbed cane in one hand and reaching for the bottle with the other. He can see that one of her eyes is a dead and blind thing, covered over with a cataract so wide and thick it almost might be a shell covering her eye.
"Perhaps she could take a look, as repayment for your fine tale."
Cha'ac considered the offer briefly before refusing politely, but pouring out a small symbolic amount from the bottle as passed to him. The chances were vastly greater that such an encounter would end poorly for him, as Itzamna's work was hardly the sort to be manhandled and put to repair by some backwoods witch using a rabbit skull or calcified deer's bladder for what foul means he could only guess.
"A fortune then! Let her read your fortune, that you may receive the benefits of her wisdom and perhaps some suggestion as to whether you may find what you seek?"
Intrigued but expecting nothing beyond mere showmanship and superstition, he nods and accepts a packet of cards from her hand, shuffling them and folding them together at her instructions, strange cards marked by age and bloodstains. She deals out a hand, and spitting in the fire clears her throat and lays them out on her knees between them.
"The path you seek leads to Death and worse. A rainbow shall be the bridge between this world and the next. Your companions shall be three, they are Ruin, Doubt, and Hope. The success or failure of your endeavor depends on whether or not you betray, slay, or survive them. Your death however, is certain."
She taps your chest with her cane, and a hollow clank answers.
"Unless of course, the force is contained. Then, maybe less certain."
Owain ap Hywel
Owain slips carefully through the woods and into the clearing, finding to his surprise a trio of children playing. They gambol across the fallen tree, whispering quietly and excitedly in games of pretend and chase in the bright meadow. As he nears one of them turns to him and points, burbling melodically in a complex language he somehow recognizes as that of the Dreamfolk. It is complex, like a song sung in many cadences but from a single mouth but he does not understand even when the others gesture and speak to him expectantly. Shrugging ruefully that he does not understand, he walks into the clearing and greets the children who take his hands and pull him into their circle.
"Uhm, hello? Sorry, I don't remember how to speak your language. What does it mean, the-"
Trying his best he repeats the refrain of the song they keep singing, and at his clumsy first attempts the children laugh, good-natured but gleeful as if someone had just said something very rude unexpectedly.
"Do you not recall? That is our name for you. It means... many things, but the simplest is that you are the Brave Singer Who Fears Not the Night. You sang, enamored by the sight of our sister and despite the chill of the coming dark never faltered. For it we gave you a gift, and call you brave."
A girl child grins upwards at him, holding out her hands expectantly and waiting for him to do the same. He does and between them the three press into them a braid of flowers and gifts of nuts and small stones.
"A gift for you, the Brave Singer."
Joining in their simple games, Owain laughs and plays alongside the children. They begin an exchange of rhymes, trading simple cantos and looping verses to catch nightborn butterflies or puffs of light and sound, but as the moon rises the play begins to reach new heights of complexity and he finds himself pressed to keep up with them in earnest. Songs for dance, songs for healing, for romance, for building spires or summoning, Owain watches in wonder as the children weave the fabric of the raw moonlight and bring forth wonders, wonders and a pot-bellied badger with a kettle for a tail, staring up glumly before it disappears just as abruptly as it came. Laughing they fall to the ground exhausted from their efforts, holding hands in a loose circle with Owain as they stare at the sky. The tallest child is the first to speak.
"Brave Singer, our time is past. We few are the last dregs of an age which may as well have never been, for all our works are dust, our people but echoes. Only the Dreamer in the bright sky shall mark our passing though the Nameless would surely pluck out its eye could he do so without destroying the land and seas, or for that matter losing the font of astral power that it pours forth."
"Sing for us, would you? You who feel the Dreamer's waxing, surely you have the restlessness in your blood, the form of a new song taking shape?"
Owain grins, gathering his voice and pulling his harp to his chest and looking to the left and right at his young hosts before starting.
"Yes, of course."
His hands play across the harp, coaxing out the glittering notes which seem to hang in the night sky above them and he sings. He sings of loss, and love and tragedy tempered by fate and the promise of new growth. He sings and the world itself falls silent and still, as if the night itself were holding its breath and waiting for him to finish. He drags out the last note, holding it as long as his voice can allow before settling back into the grass finding the children laying back with their eyes shut in contentment.
"This a beautiful song, Brave Singer. Possibly the best ever put to voice by mortal man. When we are gone, will you remember us? When we are gone, will you sing of us? It would be good if this were so."
"Then it would not have been all for naught."
Outis hissed in fury, curling into a defensive posture even as he was knocked back by the other man's massive paw. Warily he eyed the boar-spear in Tomar's hand before raising his own voice and shouting.
"A witch! Quickly now, a witch has attacked Tomar!"
Grunting in surprise, Tomar nonetheless pressed his attack, jabbing forward with the spear and catching Outis in the meat of his thigh. The man cursed and raised his hands defensively, shielding his head with his arms in time to deflect Tomar's first strike. He twisted, or his leg and body twisted as if crumpling or bending out of the way. He bent away from the spear pinning him, and from Tomar's stab reappearing against a slab of unbroken granite some distance away. Although he favored his good leg he stood, staring at Tomar haughtily and with eyes full of hate.
"We could have done this easy, we could have done this clean. If you'd just gone along with it I would have even given you a bit of gold to help ease things through but mark my words Tomar Greenfist, you'll look back on this decision as the worst of your life. You've made an enemy this day, an enemy of the-"
"YOU'RE A WITCH OUTLANDER RAAAAAWR!"
Barreling from the direction of the camp like a bull gone wild, Simple Ned crashed through the underbrush and tackled Outis, smashing him to the ground. The man struggled as Ned shook and slapped at him with his powerful but clumsy hands, worrying at Outis like a child with a hand stuck in a jar despite the shouted protests.
"No! Fool! Tomar's witched! Witched I say! The bear, it's all the bear's doing! Don't you see what its doing? It's turning us against each other before we can find its lair, listen to me- Noooo!"
Grasping ahold of Outis with both arms, Ned raised the crooked man despite his struggles and with a heave brought him down against the stone with a resounding crack.
"No you bastards! Not like this! You'll regret this, you hear me? Both of you to your dying days!"
Mumbling something through clenched and bloody teeth Outis chomped and chewed, spitting out a spray of arterial blood and severed tongue. Life fading he scrabbled upwards at Ned's eye, but finding little purchase as Tomar stepped forward and calmly stabbed him through the chest with the boar-spear.
"Tomar?! Outis?! What's happened here? Where is the witch? Has the Devil-Bear attacked?"
The people of Seaboard swept forth from their homes, bringing with them the wisdom and light of the Good Word, of Gratitude. Eagerly they gathered their articles of trade, their gaffing hooks, their mattocks, the needles of their looms, and to their friends and their neighbours they brought the Word. They brought them, struggling and heaving against the injustice of not knowing and Mono in his wisdom explained to them the very simple truth of the world, that for everything there was an order and a place. It was after all, what the Nameless had truly intended for Man. For was not waste a sin? The natural order of the world had it that all creatures from the beasts of the field to the fishes of the sea and yea the very birds of the sky, all bound in servitude (or to be consumed) by Man and he in turn to serve the will of the Nameless.
Clearly, Mono was that will. Mono was that wisdom made rippling and ample flesh. He spoke and the people of Seaboard listened. Eagerly they prepared, constructing for Mono a mighty chariot, a triple wide cart to be pulled by a team of labourers and oxen, banded with iron and reinforced, resplendent in its ornamentation and with several built in spaces for tuns of wine, racks of fowl, and the other essential workings to the operation of freedom and enlightenment. It rose slowly but surely, the Chariot of Wisdom.
Looking upon the people continue their industrious building, Mono was pleased. Pleased and frankly a bit peckish as he slowly eased his way down the gentle incline from his home to the beach, gnawing on a quick travel roast that he had prepared for just this occasion. Gulping it down he stood at the water's edge, looking out at the full moon reflected brightly in the bay expectantly. The waves lapped at his feet as he sat back into an easy recline against the beach.
"Well? Now what?"
There it was, at the edges of his hearing. A ringing, the call of a weary and forlorn tune. He wiped his hands in the rising surf and began to work his way through a young hen stuffed in a partridge stuffed in a goose drowned in cognac as the song slowly worked its way to the surface of the bay.
"Yes, yes get on with it. I haven't got all night you know?"
It was bright, bright enough to almost hurt his eyes as it outshone the reflected light of the full moon and Mono raised a chubby hand to shield his gaze, only catching a glimpse of a woman's slim form somewhere in the midst of the light.
"Mono Dolonfrey. Greetings and salutations on the eve of your great change. You stand on the precipice of victory or defeat. The one Above will know of his servant's passing, and marshaling his slaves will surely descend upon you with wrath and flame. Have you a plan, Mono Dolonfrey? Some clever stratagem to avoid being chastised by angry words of heat and destruction? We have a gift for you, Mono. A gift well worthy, which befits one of your wisdom and stature. Accept it and you may yet avoid being lanced and roasted... haha, like a pig."
Finishing the last of the stuffed goose Mono came to a sudden and furious realisation- whatever it was out there, woman or not, they might have just made light of his weight!
Puppies are dicks fucked around with this message at May 24, 2013 around 14:16
|# ? May 21, 2013 00:57|
To say he was flustered as the being spoke was a disservice to the inertial forces rippling across his form. A more well rounded word must serve. Like floundered.
"I don't know why I'm fat." escaped past his lips before he could bite it back. "Oh Mighty Nameless!" he wailed "Oh Ye Abo-, er, Ye Upon the Water, The church in it's wrongness is too wide to avoid, like an octopus clutching the rock it's tentacles reach all corners..." It occurs to him now that giving a sermon to his god might be a tad redundant, but Go- gosh if he wasn't flustered "...but the Rightness of what I say shall spread wider, for the truth of my words is writ upon the white of the clouds and the blue-green of the sea, it is upon the smile of children and the scent of flowers, the nice taste of cheese and olives betwixt bread. The people see your beauty for the beef and swan placed to graze upon the lands for us to taste. The church only offers these people ashes on their tongues and hate in their sermons while I, as your forever servant, will offer them sweets. They will weigh the words and find mine heavier, and when the Broken Above sends His cult after me - as he undoubtedly will - my word of Your grace and rightness would have spread too far, like a Gragon of many heads they would need slay the whole flock before they slay me.
"But my more immediate plan next is to find a literate man not of the church, though I'm not sure one exists, to spread the word wide. And attribute it to a pseudonym so I can blame somebody else when they come for me."
Hamshot fucked around with this message at May 27, 2013 around 08:16
|# ? May 27, 2013 08:11|
Owain ap Hywel
Owain is puzzled for only a moment when he finds the children in a clearing. No sooner have they begun to talk in their musical language then the meeting seems both entirely normal and expected. Questions like ‘Who are these children’ and ‘Where are their parents’ and a dozen other perfectly reasonable concerns never come to mind. They are here, as is he, and that is entirely as things should be. There is no doubt to his mind that he left his house purely for the purpose of singing under the moonlight and exchanging gifts of acorns with children - and perhaps that is true, though he did not know it at the time. The pale light of the moon has revealed many truths.
Now he sits in silence, while the echoes of his music have been swallowed by the shadows surrounding the clearing. The child’s question still hangs in the air, unanswered, and a frown creases his brow as he considers it. He has, of course, already decided that he would say yes - there was hardly any choice to be made there. But it seems such a fragile thing, for all the time and beauty of a great people, reaching down through the ages to rest on one young man; like a pyramid turned on its point, precarious and unstable. Then an idea strikes him, and he smiles.
“Oh aye, I will not forget. I will remember, and I will sing. Such songs I will sing! I played a song my brothers still can’t forget, and they whistle it half-thinking at the mill or at market - and that was but a trifle! Master Glenn would have me sing the old rasping songs with no soul to them. Not for me; I will weave a song so well that all who hear will know of you, aye, and not forget it.” His fingers dance across the strings of his harp in accompaniment to his laughter “What a fool I have been, stewing over beating old Powell - let him have his wreath, for it is all the bitter man has in life! In a month it will be faded and crackling, and every man and child at the festival will yet be humming my song and dreaming of beautiful dancers by moonlight.”
For all that he has been up all day and now most of the night, tramping through the wood and cavorting in the clearing, Owain feels aglow with energy, invigorated by a new sense of purpose. And how can anyone feel tired when their way is clear and their goals pure? Music not for the sake of profit or vanity, but for love and beauty and memory.
The moon is low now, and its light only barely touches the clearing, interrupted now and then as the wind stirs the tops of trees and sends shadows skittering along the ground. Dawn cannot be that far off, and he has a walk back home to face. Such mundane concerns begin to hover about his thoughts, and he sighs sadly.
“I must return home. Thank you for your gifts and songs.” He carefully gathers the braided flowers, nuts and stones into a pocket of his cloak. Somehow they seem precious in their own way. In the same pocket he finds a few small coins, stamped from copper and sparingly traded between the villages where barter is far more common. They may be a hundred years old, and while the marks have worn almost to nothing it was surely not the Nameless who struck them. He draws these out, and offers them to the children. “My gift to you, for generosity must be returned. You have named me the Brave Singer, so I will keep my courage and not fail you or your songs.” He pauses before plucking the clasp from his cloak, strands of wire woven into a twisting knot around a piece of quartz. “Give this to your sister, if you will. Tell her I remember, and I will see that you are not forgotten - none of you. There is less beauty in the world for your absence, and that is a sad thing”
He stows his harp as he stands, and bows to the children with a smile and a flourish of his cloak. On his first visit he had gained a skill, and now he has gained a purpose. What point is music if not shared? He knew that already, of course, as a Bard - but now he knows he is not destined merely to share news back and forth between hamlets about the price of goats and the mold in the potatoes. He will share the story of a glorious, tragic people and their dazzling skill.
And no better place to begin than the midsummer festival.
|# ? May 27, 2013 20:52|
The blind seer thinks in silence. It is not his lot to be healed of his blindness just yet. But was that not presumption on his part, to think that he would be made whole, as if the Nameless were in some way indebted to Hash-Baz, and must pay the man back? He remembers the man he was, before the ritual, how haughty he was! how desirous of honor, admiration, the love of women! It was the dread ghost of the ancient Ba'al who had taken Hash-Baz's eyes, but it was the mercy of the Nameless that had prevented him from losing more than that.
Hash-Baz places his hand on Ehud's forehead. "Before anything, you must swear upon the names of your fathers to tell no one of what transpired with the Servant. You will keep it a secret in your heart, until I release you." His grip on the boy's head is firm, but not painful. Ehud stammers, unsure why the prophet would want such an amazing event kept secret? It was proof that the Abba spoke truth to men from the Nameless! But Ehud does not wish to disappoint his master. "I-I swear, Abba, on the names of all my fathers. I will tell no one."
Hash-Baz relaxes. As he speaks, his body seems to settle in a strange way. "I direct you so: On the path to town you will find a kid, of no man's herd. It will follow you. Enter into the town, and find the chief priest, who shall be at his rites. When you arrive, the kid will speak in the tongue of men, before offering itself as a sacrifice. Allow the priest to do so, and assist him as you would assist me."
Ehud cannot stop himself from speaking. "But... what will it say?"
Hash-Baz turns his sightless gaze straight to Ehud. "It is not for you to know now. Now go."
Ehud swallowed hard before nodding, realizing his master couldn't see it, and then stammered out his assent. The boy ran towards town, wondering if what Hash-Baz had said would come true. An hour later, his breath caught in his throat as he heard the bleating of a young kid, all alone. Sighting him, the small animal bleated and clopped over the thin grass to nuzzle at Ehud's hand. Ehud knelt down and petted the animal. "Will you really speak?" he asked it, but the animal gave no reply. Walking quickly, he soon sights the town. Much like his old home, the people's lives are centered on the herds, for little grows easily this close to the great wastes, where no man goes.
With no delay, Ehud marches to the temple, its red walls cut from the living stone. Inside, he hears the words he had heard so often as the apprentice of the late Zamzuma, and the smell of thick incense surrounds him. The chief priest continued, unaware of his visitors, until the kid bleated. The man turns around, shocked that someone would interrupt his rites like this. Ehud is struck silent, and before the priest can speak, another voice enters. "Naphish, son of Nodab, priest according to the ancient rites, peace with you. Ehud, son of Raboni, servant of the seer, peace with you."
The voice is light and delicate, but Ehud can hear every word perfectly. Somewhat scared, he looks down, to see the kid kneel to him and the priest. The man, Naphish, is just as shocked, his mouth open in wonder and amazement. "W-what are you?" he asks.
"A servant of the Nameless, as you are. But I am here to speak on behalf of one who comes after me."
"My master?" Ehud says. The kid nods.
"Naphish, a servant of the Nameless comes to your town. This is his servant. He will stay for two nights, and then leave with his servant. He is Hash-Baz, the seer. Your duty is to instruct your people of his coming. Do not ask him to prophesy, for the dooms he speaks are true."
"A-a-as I am a servant of the Nameless I will do so!" Naphish speaks.
The kid turns to Ehud. "You have done well, seeing your master's righteousness. You will persevere on his hard path for some time, but one day you will fail, and you shall abandon him, and flee. One day he must go where no men dare to walk, there to proclaim his final doom."
Ehud wants to say something, wants to convince the creature that he won't do it, he won't abandon his master, not for anything, but the words refuse to leave his throat. Silently, the kid hops up on the altar, and lays its head down next to the knife.
Ehud and Naphish do the rites cleanly and quickly. After it is complete, Naphish stares at the boy. "What kind of magic was that?"
"It was not magic," comes the voice of Hash-Baz from the doorway. Behind him is a throng of people, wary of his terrifying appearance, some already crying out that he would defile their temple.
"Master!" Ehud grabs Hash-Baz by the elbow, and helps him stop from falling. Setting him on a stone bench, Hash-Baz is quiet as Naphish tries to calm the crowd. He explains that the traveler is a servant of the Nameless, a wonder-worker, but enjoins his people to be respectful of the wanderer.
Whether the people will do so or not remains to be seen.
|# ? May 27, 2013 21:54|
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
Ruin, Doubt, and Hope. Boltbearer was intimately familiar with those, having trodden on the fool's path for so long. Ruin, he and his pursuers brought in their wake. Doubt in the direction of his goal turned him left instead of right, south instead of north. And Hope that he might yet succeed kept his feet marching one by one. Still, the old witch seemed to think that there would be yet more of each on his path, in a different form yet than he had known. Or perhaps, rather, a different form that he had to bring about. There was agency in this prophecy, and those were always the most dangerous.
At first glance, the interpretation is simple. Survive the Ruin caused by the Nameless' wrath, as he had done once before. Slay his Doubt, so that he might set a straight-forward course to the Sky Citadel. And then...betray his Hope? Was there a different fate in store for him than the one he had set aside for himself? Or would he find the way to succeed at his lowest point, when even Hope was no longer there to accompany him? Either way was a troubling future, and yet, not wholly unexpected. The same as with his death - that he would die while or after completing his quest, he had long since accepted. But the rainbow was new. A rainbow brige... it made sense, and he inwardly cursed for not having thought of the idea sooner. Rainbows had been a common mode of transportation, for those Broken who could command the power. That the Nameless would hide his Sky Citadel behind a rainbow of his own was not such a stretch. The automaton lifts his gaze from the cards back to the wrinkled woman. Despite his expectations, there had been surprising power behind the prophecy. The hag chews on what he could only guess was tobacco, her one good eye observing every detail on his platework. Then she clucks her tongue and gathers her cards, hobbling back to her seat away from the main circle.
When Tomino speaks, Cha'ac once again becomes aware of his surroundings. Most eyes were still fettered to him like they were magnetic, despite most of the travellers having resumed their earlier activities. "A dangerous fortune indeed, metal man! But the cards do not lie. Knowing this, will you still forge ahead on your chosen path?" His eyes hold something Cha'ac can not discern.
"'tis the only path I know, my host," he answers, with a light shrug that rattles his insides gently, "and the only path I can follow, with my existence as it is. Yes, I will forge ahead. Not without trepidation, but not without courage, either. The fortune has not heightened my fear." More than anything else, it had given him a certainty. True, it's a risky proposition to put stock in prophecy, especially when you interpret it wrong. But over his many years in the Broken Age, Cha'ac had found that Fate had a way of righting itself, whether one chose to adhere to prophecy or not. In the end, all prophecies came through, one way or another.
|# ? May 28, 2013 10:58|
Lyra grabbed the back of Brenner's collar with her left hand and tugged a little. "No. I'm staying and helping." She tried to start pulling him up the road - the creatures seemed wary of the path, preferring the brush and shade plentiful around it - but Brenner planted his feet and she couldn't get him to budge. She was more liable to rip the collar; it was exactly like trying to use a tenuous one handed grip to drag someone who outweighed you by seven stone that was actively resisting up a dirt road.
"You can't fight, just be quieter and listen to me." Brenner was still focused on the darkling red eyed monsters that were advancing closer, creeping in as the day seemed to darken. He swung the blade in a large arc in front of him, sending a few scampering back into the underbrush. There were certainly more advancing than retreating, the arithmetic of the situation wasn't working out in her and Brenner's favor.
"You can't see! There are... at least the number that's after twenty. They're getting closer but they're not on the road yet." Lyra was trying to figure out what Brenner needed to know, she wasn't even considering his repeated commands to run away. That idea was preposterous. "They look like..." She took a few seconds to try and get good look at one - and was having very little success. They seemed to dart from shadow to shadow suddenly, but the glimpses she got weren't reassuring. "Red-eyed rat dogs? Horrible ones." The foul things seemed to chitter at her from their hiding places, which was even less reassuring.
The clouds parted though, sending the tide of monsters into the underbrush as light shined down once again. Brenner, blind, noticed the link as quickly as Lyra did. He grabbed the hand she'd been tugging on his shirt so incessantly with - her left, luckily for him - and took off down the road with a startled but compliant Lyra in tow. "Not letting them encircle. Keep looking for 'em, and don't let me run into anything." Despite being more than a little distracted by Brenner holding her hand and some emotions she'd never dealt with before concerning how that made her feel, she did her best to act as lookout.
The pair took advantage of the temporary sunbreak to make a little bit of distance on the monstrous horde, but as fate would have it the day was decidedly overcast. Every-time they made any progress at all in the sun, the clouds and shadows would return and the ratlings with them. As far as the frightened vagabond could tell, they'd had to have half jogged / half defensively shuffled four or five miles in the past couple hours. Whenever the creatures drew near, Lyra threatening them with her hand (they seemed quite aware of it specifically, which worried her,) or Brenner swinging that sword of his about was enough to drive them back for a while. The red-eyed things seemed content to chase them for the time being, tiring their prey out. If she hadn't eaten so well the day before, Lyra doubted she'd have been able to manage it. And though it had meant she hadn't been afforded the opportunity to talk to Brenner about, well, her being a "witch," it was really a blessing in disguise. It'd given her a lot of time to think about it. It'd definitely distracted her throughout the entire woodland chase.
The day was turning to dusk and both Brenner and Lyra were acutely aware that the monsters were growing bolder. Fortune was on their side though, and Lyra spotted what looked very much like an abandoned stone tower half collapsed. It looked like a rotten molar sticking up out of the forest, wrapped over in vines and bizarre mushrooms. She wasn't aware of where she was, let alone its history - but it looked like a much, much better spot to encamp than rat woods. "Brenner! Tower?"
"Yes, but stop shouting."
The duo were able to reach the tower, Lyra guiding Brenner up the broken steps into the also broken structure. The monsters had wasted no time in surrounding it, but made no effort to pursue. She could still feel her hand throbbing, and could hear the rustling of movement as the creatures stalked around in the underbrush, waiting for the sun to fail. She entered the tower to see that he'd leaned back against a column, rubbing his eyes with the hand that wasn't holding his sword. "Lyra, right?" She wasn't certain how he knew it was her - sound probably, unless oh nameless did she smell? - but was glad to see he hadn't got bitten at any point. It'd been dicey a few times, when it looked like the clouds stretched on forever and there was no sun that would drive the monsters back to be seen.
"Yes! Can you believe we're both unhurt? And this tower, how lucky..." Lyra would've added and because we're both here! but there was no reason to say that outloud, in front of Brenner anyways. Not that they didn't have some talking to do, eventually, concerning who the Examiners were and what exactly they wanted with her. Still, despite the rat monsters that were still freaking her out, she knew the Nameless had put this before her for a reason. Hopefully a Brenner related reason.
Lyra tossed Brenner's bag (the one she'd barely managed to keep from spilling everywhere a few times that day,) to the floor beside him, and tried to sound as innocent as possible when asking, "There's a lot out there and it'll be dark soon, do we have anything to burn to keep them at bay? And maybe cook over? I can read one of the posters like you said earlier." She paused, then added like it was no big deal, "Oh, I can read! So yeah, that'll help me read the poster about Lin- er, Lera Badhand, right?
1. Keep a watch out for the red-eyed monsters while setting up camp.
2. Make a fire, read poster / dossiers about her by the fire while sitting by Brenner.
3. Burn the rest of the posters if Brenner is ok with it.
|# ? May 29, 2013 16:01|
A ringing peal, like silver bells echoing highly and keenly across the water resounds through the bay. Despite his agitation, Mono realises that the shining figure is laughing.
"Well planned then, Mono Dolonfrey. Truly all your problems will dissolve like the morning dew should you be able to install some unfortunate fool as a scapegoat ere His armies come seeking the root cause of this disorder. Well, until they simply take the most expedient solution and slay everything that walks, crawls, stands, or hops within a league of this place.
The light brightens, and the voice over the water takes on a tone somewhere between anger and excitement.
"Fire from the skies, a rain of destruction that mortal men have no longer the words to describe. He will excise this entire region like a rotting limb, as swiftly and unflinchingly as any surgeon. Oh but there is one reliable way for you to escape. You could simply escape to the Sea. That is the Gift I offer to you, Mono Dolonfrey."
"When the wrathful ones descend, bring yourself to the shores of the Sea. Should your stratagem succeed in drawing away their ire, bring yourself to the shores of the Sea and use my Gift. You may yet escape unscathed should you find the moments necessary to release it from its bonds."
"Wait, what gift?"
He called out at the bright moonlight reflected across the waters of the bay, unsure as to whether his mysterious benefactor had gone or simply chosen to remain silent. The tide lapped at Mono's feet, and he felt something cold and hard jab at the corner of one pudgy foot. After some frustrated huffing and rolling in the sand he determined that it was in fact an iridescent clamshell, the size of a child's open hand and sealed fast against his inquisitive prying.
Owain ap Hywel
The midsummer festival! Three straight days and bright nights of drinking, feasting, drinking, and a celebration of all that was good granted to the Folk by the mercy and kindness of the Nameless. It was a time of meetings between old friends to refresh acquaintances anew and for the whispered assignations of young lovers, a time of song and dance, a grateful period where the work of spring planting was nearly well and done and before the long tedium of tilling and harvest began anew. Between the contests of strength and guile and sharp-tongued interplay of politics and bargaining between families and towns, every man, woman, child and sheep of the hill-country was present and part of the festivities. Priests, scribes, dentists, and performers from across the land joined the throng and offered their services as barkers and peddlers plied their craft among the fray and crowd.
Through it all you acquit yourself well, joining your master and performing on your own for the anxious crowds or by request for wedding parties. Roundly feted and celebrated at many a fire and with round after round of fresh drinks and ringing endorsements that surely this is, this is the year that Powell is unseated from his high horse you find that your new found confidence and talents serve you well. By the early evening of the third day the festival is positively abuzz with talk of the surely legendary competition that will unfold between the two of you. The early performers do middling well, although a brother and sister pair do so spectacularly poorly that they are pelted from the stage by rotten fruit and jeering. The crowd is restive but of good cheer as Powell makes his way to the wooden stage, cap in hand and a flowerly sprig in his perfectly bound hair.
Powell sings and it's the most amazing thing that anyone there has heard all day. He sings and the clouds themselves part in the sky, he sings and your heart aches in your chest, and grown men and women in the crowd are moved to tears. He sings a song of celebration for the summer, and of the winter which shall pass and come again and in the silence after the crowd roars its approval with a clapping of hands and stamping of feet that is raucous and deafening like nothing else ever. Just like every other year. Somewhat intimidated by the response you gird yourself, grasp your lute firmly between your hands and prepare to ascend towards the stage for your own performance before you are suddenly yanked back.
"Wait! Don't go!"
Glenn grasps your wrist, pulling you away from the backdrop of the stage and towards the shelter of a nearby wooden stall for privacy, hardly sparing a glance to the vendor at his wares.
"Owain, wait. Put that down and listen to me just a moment will you? Ah, the Nameless knows this is going to come out all wrong but I absolutely need to tell you this before you head up there. And you MUST listen. As your Master, and as a friend. I've been thinking it through for weeks now and there's probably only one good way to do this."
Glenn is many things, a brilliant musician, fast on his feet and with his hands despite his advanced age, and given his lifetime of practice a fine and sure speaker even in dangerous or inebriated circumstances, which is why it's a surprise that he's both stone sober and clearly nervous as he speaks haltingly.
"So uh... you're happy aren't you? You've got a good life, one that many would consider to be blessed. It's a fine lot you've been given. The way things stand you'll be the finest minstrel of your generation, and nary will there be one who can match you. Keep it up and soon enough you'll have your own house and a pretty young wife to keep it nice and warm for you. Your brothers, your father and mother, they'll be there for you through thick and thin and when I pass you'll have everything blessed thing I have to leave you. You don't NEED anything else. Do you understand me? There's things you need in life and then there's things... other things. You don't need them and afterwards they'll only leave you with regrets. If there's anything you ever learn from me, learn this lesson here and now-"
"Oi! Bedbug! Where are you up to then? You're not getting cold feet now after hearing that old buzzard sling his poo poo are you? Come on now, people are waiting!"
Pulling away, you nod and show your appreciation of his somewhat confusing and awkward pep talk. It's certainly done a lot to defray any nervousness you might have had about following Powell's performance. Your spirits are enlivened by the rare accolades, having received more direct praise from Glenn in the last minute than in the entire previous year.
"Of course master, I'm very happy. The Nameless has been very generous with his blessings on me and my family. I've got my talent and your teachings, and win or lose I just need to sing my piece and be happy with what I've got. It's just a wreath anyway, and it's not like anybody's going to think any worse of me whatever the outcome of this contest. You know we should really sit down and have a talk about all of this, uhm right after this. I don't even remember the last time we just sat down and talked. There's something I've been meaning to ask you. I'll just be right back."
Glenn watches you go, hands limply at his sides and somewhat visibly deflated. He watches you leave, his expression strange and unreadable.
"You don't need anything else."
The people railed and cursed despite the efforts of their priest Naphish. To allow a filthy vagrant, especially one so clearly ill-favored to enter their holy place was an act of foul sacrilege against the Nameless. Cries that he must be some criminal or outcast seeking to cheat them or despoil their herds, or a false priest wandered in from the desert driven mad by the sun and dark whispers rang out across the narrow square before the temple.
"Enough! I have received a visitation which proves that this man is no witch or demon, his cause is holy and his word is true!"
Naphish roared, stamping his staff against the stone steps and shocking the crowd into silence.
"I know this man! He is no outcast or false priest! He is the son of my mother's brother and a good man! Kinsman, what has come to pass? It is I, Faoud. Who has done this to you?"
An elderly herder shuffled his way to the forefront of the crowd, kneeling before the bench and taking Hash-Baz's hands in his own. He studied the ruined sockets and weathered features of the prophet before turning to face the mob.
"This man is my kin and having found him again after so long I welcome him as a guest of my home! Who among you would gainsay me this? Saed! Sunil! Where are you?"
Faced with the disapproval of the priest and the grim faces of the herder's guards the crowd backed away and withdrew muttering how it still didn't seem right.
"Come, we will go to my home. You too priest, for there is obviously much that needs to be said."
They walked in silence, Hash-Baz supported by Ehud as the herder and priest led the way to a large tent on the outskirts of town. Standing at the entrance to the tent he makes the proper gestures and welcomes them each.
"Come in, please. I thank the Nameless for your safe arrival. Surely His hand guides us in our meeting. I come traveling North with my herds for tragedy has struck me and my family. Outlaws have slain my sons, and my old wife has nearly joined them in her grief. We come seeking our kin, in hopes of finding comfort among family or in the least to pass on our responsibilities into other hands. But sit, tell me what has brought you to this place."
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
"Well put! Then travel with us a ways, at least until we're clear of this wood. I'd rather not court misfortune if the object of your journey is as dire as it sounds, but surely no harm can come of it if you join us only briefly. Besides, I'd like to hear more of your father and his works!"
It was in the greater scheme of things probably little harm to him and his cause to travel among them. If anything, the pedlar-folk would serve as an effective cover for his distinctive features or at least be a moment's distraction for when his pursuers found him again. And so Cha'ac joined the troupe, lending his hands towards the simple chores required of him by day and sitting at their campfires and spinning tales of a kindly and knowing old maker by night.
He found himself to be quite popular among the troupe, as they walked through the dense woods by day the children peppered him with questions about his workings and what it was like to be metal and challenged him to small games of wit or contests to test if he really wasn't a man beneath all those plates after all. His unflagging efforts and strong metal arm helped to clear away obstructions to their path in a fraction of the time that it would have taken and for it they were quite grateful. Gradually he familiarized himself with the ebb and flow of the camp, knowing that this family here had a son who was in love with the daughter of that family there who was betrothed to another or that this man was feuding with that one for a long grudge both families denied having a hand in the making. They had some small skill of woodcraft, tinkering and magic left to them. Cha'ac noticed that in their wake they scattered a strange brown dust from small pouches at the side of the vanguard scouts, and asked Tomino about it.
"Oh that? Just a small simple. It encourages the the brush to grow back faster within days of our passing, makes us harder to track. So tell me, have you decided how you will find your rainbow yet? We're headed north right now towards the more lush and settled farm towns near the Fangbacks. They've got their harvest seasons coming up and there's plenty of good trade and times to be had provided we move quickly enough. I hear that high in the Fangback mountains there are waterfalls, great cliffs of water which never freeze due to the force and volume which passes through them daily. Maybe you'll find the rainbow you need there?"
"You can read?!"
Brenner's blind eyes widen in wonder as he looks in surprise at her general direction. Despite the imminent danger surrounding them, Lyra flushes slightly at the attention.
"Your parents must have been particularly wealthy or devout to pass on such a skill to their daughter, or you a fine study to have learned for one so young. Even in my family only my father and eldest brother know how to read and that's primarily because they served as castellan to the Bishop."
Rubbing his eyes ruefully he lowers to a crouch against the pillar, speaking softly to himself.
"I could never sit still long enough to make it stick."
At her questioning he sighs and rises uncomfortably to his feet,
"Is there any kindling to be had in here? I promised the Bishop personally that I'd see that the people of this area were warned properly about the witch, but in a pinch I think we can burn everything but the letters. Nameless knows that he'll be disappointed, but he'll understand if it's a matter of life and death."
He answered her questions gradually as they searched the ruined tower for kindling, doing little of the searching itself but proving useful in shifting larger pieces of rubble and helping her to barricade the open doorway through which they had entered as well as any other gaps which one of the shadow creatures might try and squeeze through.
"The Examiners are great men, and women too I suppose since their order makes no distinction for those who take up the robe and chain. It's easiest to say that they're the first line of our defense against the Broken, besides the mercy and glory of the Nameless that is. They're the ones who travel the land and examine the traces of the past and communities they pass through for signs of demon-taint, hence the name. Somewhere between your common bailiff and the Bright Angels or the clergy themselves, that's the Examiners. True of faith, strong of heart, and dedicated to protecting others from the depredations of the Broken, they forswear their property, family, and names in favor of their service to the Nameless. Ugh-"
He grunted as they heaved aside a rotten beam, covering his mouth against the plume of mold and stale dust that rose in its aftermath.
"This beam is soft in a lot of places, but we can make good use of it if I can cut away enough to last us through the night. Point it out for me would you?"
Using her good hand, she guided him towards the soft spots in the wood and helps him brace himself before hacking away at the rotten beam. Soon they found themselves with a sizable pile of foul smelling and slightly damp wood. With the entrance to the tower firmly blocked the two settled in around the rousing fire that Lyra had started using handfuls of crumpled paper. As Brenner laid quietly by the fire, weakened from the exertion she looked down at the final poster and saw a distressingly accurate representation of herself.
The witch Lyra Devilhand, having committed the crime of MURDER against the other members of her convent and made BLASPHEMOUS PACTS WITH THE BROKEN.
"I was hoping to join them actually. They never have enough manpower, it's unsurprisingly unpopular of a vocation..."
Brenner murmured, somewhere between a dogged desire to stay awake and keep watch and an exhausted rest. He nodded off gradually, troubled face finally at peace although he was surprisingly pale and cool to the touch when she reached over to brush away a smudge from his cheek.
They watched from above, hundreds of red eyes hanging in the rafters and crannies of the ruined tower above her. There must have been another way in!
Lyra raised her hand, brandishing it aloft in the hopes that doing so would intimidate them into keeping their distance. It seemed to have no effect on the watching horde and the chittering began. Soft and sussurant at first but swelling into a tide of cicada-noise which seemed to vibrate the very ground beneath her feet, the force of it contained in the indoor space giving her a toothache which throbbed painfully at the back of her jaw. The chittering rose and abruptly stopped, and she found to her surprise that she knew exactly what it meant. They were here for her, yes. But... they also, they wanted Brenner. He was dying or as good as dead anyway, and if she didn't step away soon they would simply come down and take him.
|# ? Jun 7, 2013 15:12|
Where we last left our Hero:
"Outis was the witch." Tomar panted, trying to clear the blood that had gotten onto his face. "He brought me to these stones for some ritual, but I got the spear away from him."
It was too late to question the dead man, and Simple Ned could only agree with whatever was said most recently. Tomar isn't a small man, and his wooden fist could have certainly bested an unsuspecting foe, so they buried the body under a simple marker, taking the usual precautions for witch corpses. The next morning, without a tracker the men had no choice but to start heading back upstream toward Felgorod. It would have been wrong to take any of Outis' things, both to keep from being labeled thieves and because they might be cursed. The trip was long and quiet, taking many more hours to move upstream, but they were all acquainted to woodscraft, except Ned - but who counts Ned? It was well after dark when they finally got back - but the last two hours were of no real danger so close to familiar ground.
Frath himself heard testimony from all involved, and ordered that the priest give services and blessings to ward against witches, since one had eaten and slept within his walls. By the end of another month, the first of the spring crops began to trickle in, and the starving time was over.* But Tomar could not find rest. Whispers seemed to follow him, and he could get little help in rebuilding his shack. But most of all he simply could not rest. A wanderlust took him, and he dreamt frequently about swimming far down the river or climbing the far-off mountains. He ate boiled potatoes and mashed oats, and scrounged pennies for a new pair of boots.
When the spring shearing came, he made arrangements to ride a barge as far as the first waterfalls, outside Frath's lands. From there he would have to prove himself worthy to some trader.
*Winter may be at its coldest in January, but in a subsistence society it's actually March (depending on climate) when you're most likely to die, since you'll be near to finishing your stored food. This also explains why they weren't hiking through snowdrifts
|# ? Jun 13, 2013 04:31|
Owain ap Hywel
Owain mounts the steps to the wooden stage slowly; built just for the festival, it’s a little rougher than the usual quality of craftsmanship for the town, and he certainly doesn’t want to open his act by tumbling over some loose board. It also gives him a few last moments to think.
The days of the festival have been glorious, truly, and participating as a near-full-fledged bard had given him a new perspective on it. In the past it had been a great event, of course, primarily for the fun he would have with his brothers and the inevitable mischief that would result. But this time he had participated so much more broadly, at weddings and gatherings of all the town, able to see it not just as a grand fete but also as an event that stitched these people into a community.
Amid that he had come to realize something else. While Powell was the reigning master of song in the town, people seldom approached him for his performances or invited him to sit at their tables. Often it seemed like deference - oh no, certainly the skill of Powell would be wasted on this humble campfire song - but he had caught that it was often accompanied by rolling eyes or a sharp tone. No, it was Master Glenn who was asked for his time and his craft, whether that was to play a wedding or to entertain children with rhymes. These three days, Owain had come to see that while Powell had the majesty and, yes, the greater skill, Glenn’s talents were matched by the love of his community. Powell might win the wreath each year, but there would be a half-dozen couples who would remember it was Glenn that sang for them, and hold him in much higher regard for it.
That was what his Master wanted him to know, climbing this stage. Winning the wreath, well, that would be a fine thing, but not if it made him into a bitter, lonely man like Powell. When Powell died, what would be left but a pile of faded wreaths and a cold marble headstone? When Glenn passed beyond, there would not be a single person who would not mourn the loss of a good man who touched their lives. Except perhaps Powell.
As he turned to face the audience, Owain resolved that his performance would be for the love of his music and the listener. He wouldn’t let it be lost in pride and arrogance, all for the sake of a wilting wreath. He was quite sure he had Glenn’s meaning in hand.
Owain straightened, touching a hand to the strings of his instrument. “A fine performance, Master Powell.” His voice rings clears, settling the mutterings and chatter of the crowd. “As always, your skill challenges us all to better our own works.” From the edge of the crowd Powell narrows his eyes, but the enthusiasm and sincerity of Owain’s voice doesn’t suggest the slightest mockery. After a moment the stern man inclines his head slightly to accept the compliment. Owain’s eyes flicker out over the crowd then, looking for friendly faces. He can see the huddle of his watching family, his brothers slightly worse for drinking and grinning eagerly. There were a couple of his boyhood friends, now grown into young men with serious lives; Mabon had even been married during the festival, and was now sitting hand-in-hand with his new wife. That sight brings a smile to his face, as he continues “I only hope you all find this entertaining - it’s something I have composed myself.” Owain, now turning his attention to his instrument, does not see the look of anxiety, even fear, that revelation brings to Master Glenn’s features.
Owain begins to play, at first drawing just a simple melody from the strings of the harp. At each repetition more flourishes and complexities are added, constantly changing and evolving into an intricate web of music. It is then that Owain begins to sing. Not in the language of the people, or even in the old tongue used in some of the most ancient ballads, but in an alien tongue that hardly seems a language at all. And yet, despite being incomprehensible, somehow the meaning unfolds to the audience. Later, some would say that the strange dong and drawn forth visions like a dream - and others would insist that they had actually congealed in the air out of smoke, shadow, and moonlight. Owain sings the story of a lost people, flighty and temperamental but nobles and skilled in a hundred crafts. He sings of their art, their poetry and architecture, their exuberant festivals and their peerless music. Then discord enters the song, for war is coming. The people gather bravely, a resplendent host on horse and foot, garbed in a thousand colors with banners streaming. But against them comes such a power, phalanxes of angels glittering with unwavering, implacable fury. Before this might the host is broken, the intricate crystal spires of their citadels melting like spun sugar. The survivors flee to the forests and woods, their first home, to shelter in secret glades and stone circles. But the piercing light of the angels follows them still, and the trees burn and stones crack beneath the onslaught. The song dips into a mournful march, as the remaining people are scattered, lone singers and tiny bands hiding from the triumphant hosts, knowing that their time ebbs from the world. Many step through hidden doors into the Dream, sealing those ways forever. Fewer and fewer remain, with all their works destroyed save for their music. At last as the song ends, there is just one child, smiling sadly, with an acorn cradled in her hands.
Perhaps it is only coincidence that by now the evening has faded to near-darkness, and the stage is now lit as much by the silver moon as by torches. Certainly, the young man caught in the silver beams spilling past the errant cloud is a striking, ethereal sight.
Owain stills his harp, though the music seems to still sound throughout the gathering like a vibration in the air. The crowd is near silent, though the reactions are varied: some seem entranced, others awed, and yet others fearful; his brothers sit slack-jawed, while his mother wipes tears from her cheeks; Powell is wide-eyed and pale, while Master Glenn’s face is buried in his hands. At the back of the crowd, Bryn, the village priest, is red-faced and gasping like a landed fish. Despite the confusion of reactions, Owain can be sure of one thing - none of them are thinking of Powell’s song now, and none will forget this for a long time yet.
“Thank you” He bows, and quickly steps from the stage. His movement breaks the spell that has been hanging over the crowd, and it immediately erupts into a confusion of applause, mutterings, and a few shouts. While everyone seems to have been moved, some certainly seem concerned that this was no normal music played upon the stage. Still in a haze from playing, Owain struggles to clear his mind and decide if he should be fleeing or standing his ground.
|# ? Jun 14, 2013 21:20|
She was uncertain how, but Lyra had understood the buzzing and clicking noises the shadow imps were making - enough to know they'd moved on from caring about her, to wanting Brenner now too. He was asleep, and though she'd tried to gently shake him awake with her good hand she'd gasped when she felt his skin. It was cold - overnight stay on the side of the road in midwinter cold - despite him sleeping next to the fire. It barely looked like he was breathing, and Lyra was starting to feel more alone and scared then ever. He's so pale...
The chittering horde overhead almost seemed to be laughing at her plight. They'd be descending soon, she could feel it. A lot of her wanted to run away, but she already knew she wasn't going to. As weak as he was, there was no way she'd be able to get Brenner out with her. Everything that had happened to him so far was her fault. Without her, they'd see to it that he died, and quickly. If she left him, the papers full of hurtful lies the Examiners had written about her might as well be true. And he'd been so nice to her, been one of the only people she'd met in the past six months who'd willingly spent time with her without trying to rob or kill her. He'd been willing to sacrifice himself to give her a head start back in the forest, knowing that she was the reason he'd fallen and been blinded.
And these monsters wanted to see him die?
Lyra's gazed turned back towards the ceiling, eyes full of fury. She'd had a lot of things to be angry about over the last six months - and here, she finally had the chance to unleash it all on things that deserved it. Now it was her turn to defend him. She drew back her tattered right sleeve, positioned herself over the sleeping Brenner as best she could and raised her fist towards the demons above. They merely clicked (laughed?) at her in response, hundreds of amused mouths drawn back in vicious grins. They're not scared of It anymore... but they should be.
One of the red eyed creatures launched itself from its perch overhead, falling at her, tiny hands and gnashing teeth first. It was hard to see it precisely, the firelight was dying. Lyra moved her hand to intercept, and imp and cursed hand made contact. The evil thing seized up for a moment, and then exploded and shriveled at once, ruptured by some demonic flash of light that seemed to combust the foul thing, leaving behind nothing but ash and a horrid smell.
All at once, the cacophonous sounds of the horde above started up again. Lyra called up at them. "You are NOT getting him, or me!" She raised her burned hand again, not even bothering to check and see if it had grown. "So just go away and leave us be!"
1. Defend Brenner, kill any and every demon that comes for either of them.
2. Teach them to fear the Hand of Ruin.
|# ? Jun 16, 2013 16:44|
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
"Might be." Cha'ac lapses into pensive silence, as he's prone to do. If Tomino's words were true, the chance of a rainbow appearing there could be significant. Yet he knew that if a rainbow were to take him to the Sky Citadel, it would not be any ordinary rainbow. There would have to be magic in it. Any old rainbow would be as easily traversed as a road made out of water. But if the rainbow would be a proper bridge, then there would be servants of the Nameless. "But I don't do well in towns. People fear my appearance. If that's where you're headed, then at some point before you enter town, we'll have to part ways."
A child that was walking near them pouts, and runs up to put his arm on Cha'ac's leg. "I don't want you to go, metalman! You're really great!" Were he human, he might've smiled. As it is, he only pats the child's head reassuringly.
"Don't worry, child. I'll be with you for a little while longer." When the curiosity of the children had worn off, it had been replaced by fondness. They skipped around him and brought him little gifts - accessories made of twigs and leaves and flowers, which he wore dutifully, until their mothers called them to heel again. It was not so big a price to pay for the continued shelter that the group of travellers gave him.
Still, as they travelled together, Cha'ac's feeling that this could not last got stronger and stronger. Going to town would be the perfect excuse to take his leave. Even Tomino would understand that he is different, and that people fear what was different. It's why he's a traveller, and not a townsman. His superstitions are different from theirs, and therefore they call him and his heretics, or witches, or words of that sort, and cast them out. And wars were fought for lesser things, at that, and the travellers would be well aware of that. Still, he reckoned that the children felt the same as their parents, just that they were more forward about it. He had been quite an asset to them. The thought of it would have infuriated his Creator. The Great Boltbearer, used as a beast of burden! But these were different times. Different actions were warranted.
On the other hand, the prospect of a town meant the possibility of supplies. If he could find - and raid - a workshop, perhaps he could fix up that damnable rattle in his chest. Still, it'd be a risky venture. Not only would he need the right tools, but he was not built for stealth - stealing tools would be a quick, forceful thing at best, and a massacre, at worst. He'd rather not kill any tinkerers, but he would, if need be.
|# ? Jun 18, 2013 13:26|
Although the grumblings and suspicions of the townsfolk never quite turned away from him, Tomar was able to scrape together his meager belongings and take to the river ahead of any potential lynch mobs or formal banishment. Seeing no point in it he left without a word, seeking no farewell from his neighbours and expecting none in return. It was probably safer anyway in case any of them had grudges yet to bear.
Tomar found the river Ingrus to be in high flood, the combination of descending meltwaters and the long rain had caused it to swell high beyond its normal banks where the Nameless in his wisdom saw fit to continue the deluge. The river rode high, rising up partway around the many standing stones along its banks in places and dangerously shifting the soft earth beneath them in others but with care he picked his way safely along the roads remaining along the river's edge, safe albeit miserable and wet. Having resisted the urge to simply shift into bear form and find a relatively dry cave to sleep out the rain in, he came to the crossing and found the ferry smashed along its bank.
"Nameless bless it! That damned dam's gone out for sure. You there! Big guy like you, you're big enough to haul rope! Come and give us a hand here and you can share our fire and whatever the hell's left of our lunch."
Hoping to make a good impression he leapt to the task, uncomplaining despite the difficulty of hauling sodden and heavy ropes with only one hand. The trader and his porters heaved and pulled desperately at the remains of their cargo, dragging it from the crashed ferry to higher ground and tying it down with heavy tarps before clustering around a small fire beneath an outcropping of stone and passing around some jerked meat. They joked quietly among themselves, relieved for having seen their cargo to relative safety and at finally getting out of the wet.
"Oh! You're a cripple. Well doesn't seemed to have mattered anyway given how hard you worked. You probably just have to work twice as hard for having only one right? I'm Halys by the way, and these are my sons Dorn and Brint."
He passed a bottle of wine around the fire which Tomar took gratefully.
"I hear there's a witch about. A man eater with a missing hand. Hey! That was cheap wine for sure but it's all we've got. If you don't want it, just pass it on."
Tomar coughed, clearing the wine from his lungs and turning his head to the side as he considered his possible avenues of escape, were any of the men armed? How many of them were there? Most importantly what did they know? He looked down at the bottle of wine in his hands, was it drugged?
"So anyway this witch, turns out there's a quite a reward for information leading to its live capture. Looks like this apparently."
Halys reached into his pack and Tomar tensed, lips already curling up into a snarl when the other man pulled out a much folded poster, covered in bold but illegible writing (he wouldn't have known how to read it anyway) and a large but only slightly smudged portrait of a thin but attractive young woman.
"What is the world coming to that demons and witches take the form of men, and young women too! How about it friend, you happen to see anyone that looks like this in your travels? You know I'm really sorry, I've just been babbling on here and we haven't really been introduced. What's your name? What's your business in this absolutely poo poo weather?"
Owain ap Hywel
Standing the in aftermath of the song and scattered applause you're barely able to keep your feet as Master Glenn yanks you off of the stage and back away from the crowd, shooting a glance at Powell in the distance. Powell for his part nods and strides boldly forth across the stage.
"This is an irregular and conventional but I feel that my performance was not adequately represented. I invoke my right as reigning champion to rebut my challenger's performance with another of my own."
Not waiting for a response or even for the applause and booing to die down he launches immediately into the same song he had previously sang. It has more force, powerful and moving even moreso than the first iteration and draws all eyes and ears to his efforts. Glenn half leads half drags you away from the stage, muttering quietly to you as he does.
"That was unfortunate. But what's done is done. Hold still, open your mouth."
He wallops the back of your head heavily with a nearby stick and unstoppers a wineskin and liberally spraying its contents down your throat, splashing your face and getting a bit down your shirt before shoving the nozzle between your teeth.
"Drink and listen! Once there was a bard. He was a great performer, this bard. So great in fact that in his time he was considered by many to be a living legend. Now the Bard had three sons and like any good father as they reached the fullness of manhood he taught them his craft that they could make their way in the world. He taught them how to read a crowd and how to head off a fight with the right mix of kindness and joviality, he taught them the and history of the many instruments given to Man's hands by the Nameless, and he taught them to appreciate the rhythm and harmony of the seasons themselves as they drove across their orderly processions. He was an excellent teacher. But it was not enough. The eldest son you see was truly talented. Fantastically and amazingly talented in the way of his father while his brothers, they were merely... good enough. It was like comparing the light of the Nameless to the stars of dusk, they might shine prettily and well enough in their own right but in comparison? There is simply no fair comparison."
Spraying another jet of wine down your throat, he stops behind a market stall and begins rummaging among a pile of sacks.
"This continued for many years and although the family was happy tensions developed between the sons and their father, particularly the youngest two. They a disappointment to their father, who despite himself could only look upon them and find them sorely lacking."
"And so one night the middle brother said to the youngest, 'Let us go into the wood where dwell the Fair Ones, the children of the Moon. Their skills in music are said to be the greatest among any which walk the land. To match a legend or the son of a legend should we not seek out and learn from legends ourselves? Let us become great, so great that our father himself must acknowledge us and call us the equal of our brother in his love.' The youngest brother bit his lip and it seemed for a moment that he would hesitate, for bargains with the Broken and their demon-spawn are as sure road to Damnation as any. But what was the harm in learning a bit of music? It was just a bit of learning, and truly hard effort and dedication should have their own merit against unfairly borne talent shouldn't they? He thought upon their father and how he had denied them, scorned them, and told them that they would only ever be second best and he knew that the only choice otherwise was to go."
He looked up at the full moon in the distance, his expression grim.
"So the brothers went and in time they found them, the children of the Moon. They struck a bargain. A bargain. Nothing as vile or cruel as the Book of Tribulation would have you expect, but a fae pact nonetheless. The brothers swore an oath that they would observe certain rites and practices and in exchange they were taught the old songs and each given a charm, a token of the bargain which bore the unearthly power of the Fair folk and granted them supernatural abilities."
Glenn holds up a dull silvery stone without a setting, affixed to an old and weathered leather band. He looks at you expectantly and holds out an open palm.
"So give it here. Where's yours? We have to destroy it while we have the chance. We'll tell them that you were drunk, that you hit your head and found a strange thing in the woods that gave you diseased visions. Whatever they gave you is surely too fresh and powerful still if it can summon such illusions, and give lie to the idea that this was all just a drunken confused mistake caused by accidental contact with a dangerous old relic. We'll give them mine to smash and they'll probably break your hands at worst or levy a fine but those are both temporary and fixable things."
He begins to pat you down, slapping your chest and legs in search of a telltale lump but in doing so the silver stone presses against your flesh and burns brightly with a cold light light.
"Nameless, no. Owain, you didn't? You wouldn't have?"
Yanking back his hand, Glenn stares at it and at you in disbelief. He draws it back, watching as the light dims and slowly, almost timidly pushes it forward and again against your chest whereupon it bursts again into a light which rivals the bright moon hanging heavily overhead.
"Oh, oh, oh by the Nameless Owain how could you? 'We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits: Who knows upon what soil they fed. Their hungry thirsty roots?' Why oh why by the bright and merciful will of the Nameless would you eat their food?!"
He groaned, repeating the refrain from the first song he'd ever taught you the one. Thinking on it your knuckles sting with the of long, remembered repetition. Pulling at his hair he turns and cocks an ear at the stage and Powell in the distance.
"Flee. I've prepared food and small coins for you in the worst of scenarios and this is truly it. His song ends soon. You must flee."
He pushes a satchel into your hands and shoves you fiercely towards the road.
"Master wait, the Bard and his sons? What became of your fath- the Bard and his three sons?"
"It didn't end well. Now go! The tale does not end well, but yours might still if only you must go! Run!"
The imps descended en masse, dropping around Lyra like diseased and sharp edged fruit. They scrabbled up her arms and legs, trying to tangle themselves in her hair but she found to her alarm that otherwise they paid her no mind and instead attempted to hurl themselves past her to Brenner's sleeping form. In desperation she raised her right hand and ripped off the ragged bandage.
Her hand burned, painfully at first but the sensation quickly lessened to a feeling of cool relief. It was such a relief, as if for the first time in weeks she'd finally had the time to sit down, take a deep breath, and relax, maybe also think about taking a bath. There was a faint sensation of tugging and movement at her wrist, but she paid it little mind through the refreshing red haze. She could almost certainly smell apples, fresh, tart, and red. Sharp and crisp as an early autumn night with only the a hint of the coming chill of winter. She looked down at Brenner affectionately though he was pale and still. He must have been cold despite the still warm evening. She reached down to comfort him, to stroke his brow before catching herself and staring at her hand in horror. The mark had progressed further along her arm, the blackness now punctuated by angry red lines reaching all of the way down to the joint of her elbow. She grasped herself by the upper arm with her hand outstretched inches above his sleeping face.
Around her the tower lay in ruins, large swathes of it having simply been torn away or decayed to nothingness. Of the shadow creatures there remained no sign save a foul smell and patina of smudged and greasy ash on the collapsed stones. The sun rose dimly in the distance through the open air above them.
Lowering her right hand, Lyra clutched at him with her left, shaking him gently but firmly and with increasing force as the panic rose in her gut. She leaned down and pressed her head against his chest to find him still alive and breathing, but apparently in a deep and deathly sleep.
Cha'ac, Sentinel of the Storm
Tomino gestured broadly at the array of lesser waterfalls, which were impressive in their own right but clearly not of any scale or size that could be considered magical.
"Well there it is, the river. Up a ways in the hills the sheep herders' villages start and from there it's a lazy loop down into the farming valleys. If you keep backtracking it up you'll find those falls. I expect this is where you'll want to part ways?"
"Yes I think that would be best, I've had a good time of it with your people but the end of my journey lies elsewhere."
He grunted and clapped Cha'ac on the shoulder before turning back towards the wagons slowly being pulled up to the clearing.
"Mm I'd welcome you to stay with us at least another night or not but it's really your business. Tonight we camp here, for this is a place known to my people of old. Whether the stone face is some remnant of the Broken or merely an odd quirk of the land is hard to say for certain, but we've never had anything but safety within the borders of this little hollow. It's unusual that the face has never quite worn away in all the years we've been coming this way, but that's life sometimes right?"
Reclining casually against a wedge of stone he motions towards the nearby falls with one hand as he digs beneath his vest for his pipe with the other, gesturing towards a large stone face above them in the distance.
"There are tales of course that it is a giant, cursed into stone form for defying he Above or that the face is a guardian, a keeper of secret entry to some strange place Below, that there are deeper ruins through the falls. Treasures unseen by mortal eyes, all that sort of thing."
He laughs and winks at the wide eyed gaze of the nearby caravan children who had crept up to eavesdrop on the conversation. Chuckling quietly to himself he watches as they scatter away and begin whispered negotiations and discussions among themselves at this amazing new news. A stone giant! Mysterious secrets! Ancient treasures!
"Like many of our children, my brothers and I did our fair share of exploring the area but all I can attest to is that there's plenty of fish. And rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Oh, here-
He handed Cha'ac three small leather bags, opening each in turn to show that its powdery contents.
"I wanted to give you this. This one you've seen, it encourages the growth of leafy plants. The more you use, the faster the growth but don't expect anything spectacular unless you plan on using all of it in one go. This one makes smoke, and that one makes flash. Just something we mixed up for you in case you needed it, who can't do with a quick distraction or bit of flash now and then hey?"
|# ? Jul 7, 2013 03:15|
Owain ap Hywel
His performance had left him in a haze, but thanks to Master Glenn's ministrations the world is reeling in earnest. The only positive was that half a skin of wine had dulled the ache in his head somewhat. Struggling to keep up with events, he fumbles with the stachel with one hand and grabs for Glenn's arm with the other. There is too much to say to the old man, a dozen conversations that the two should have had at leisure long before now. Too late. Owain shakes his head, trying to clear his thoughts. "Master - my family. Tell them..." He pauses, uncertain of what to say. That's he's sorry? To be leaving them, surely, but not for his song. Never for his music. "... tell them I'll be fine. That I love them." That seems enough. He lets Glenn go and steps back, before adding. "And thank you. I'm sorry you won't have any help now. Ask my brothers - they're good lads."
He can still hear Powell's song from the stage, as he turns to the road and stumbles off as quickly as wine and head will let him move. Powell had never invoked the right to rebut before - Owain wasn't even sure that was a right. Had Powell been so outraged that he had to retake the stage? And here it was helping him get away. It didn't come together properly in his head, though, Powell admitting that his first performance had been less than his best.
Owain set the matter aside to focus on his path. It was fortunate, at least, that all his training had prepared him for time spent on his feet along the roads. When he had traveled before it had been with hardly any supplies, and he felt confident that he could manage. He was almost sure that wasn't the wine talking, either. The moon lit the road for him clearly, and under its silver glow he felt as if he was walking in broad daylight. As he walked his steps became more certain and his head cleared further, the pain and haze washed away by the strength of the lunar glow.
A plan formed in his mind - it would take a little while, at least, for Llanfair to come to any sort of consensus about what had happened, and longer still to work out that he had vanished and then what they ought to do about it. There was a good chance, he thought, they would decide that he had been swallowed up by the Fair Folk and say no more on it. If they did set out to look for him, he'd have a good start on them. Down the road a few days was the next town - Caerfannon - and unless they set a rider he'd get there first. He could rest, resupply, and be gone before any word reached the town. From there he would not follow the road, just in case word reached them and they opted to pursue him. It was a good plan.
Owain kept afoot through the night, driven on by Glenn's desperate plea and the strange energy the moon fed to him. But as the great silver ball sank into the shadow of the forest, he finally felt his strength giving out. Exhausted, he stumbled off the road and into the brambles of the forest, finally crawling into a bowl of roots at the base of a huge oak. The bard nestles down in the gap, pulling his cloak around him. He could rest for a few hours, sleep, and then continue on his way again. Surely he had put enough distance behind him for that. Without thinking, he cradles his harp in his arms, his fingers plucking out a brief tune of their own accord. As he drifts into sleep, the bracken around him arches and turns, shielding his shelter from sight.
|# ? Jul 14, 2013 00:39|
|# ? Apr 17, 2014 13:21|
At the epicenter of what had once been the ruined tower, Lyra sat next to Brenner and sobbed softly into her hands. She was so confused, and for the first time since she'd escaped the convent, she truly doubted that the Nameless had anything to do with the path she was on. No God, no source of righteousness, could have had any part with the horror she'd just unleashed.
She'd nearly killed Brenner. Telling herself that it wasn't really her, it was whatever had (possessed? influenced?) caused her arm to change, to worsen, was behind it made her feel no better. Whatever it was, she'd... fed it. By destroying the tower and all the demons that had pursued them, she'd strengthened whatever it was that had a hold over her. It'd fed her some too - she knew she should be weary and hungry, but between the Hand's consumption and the adrenaline still coursing through her, she was far from both.
Hand. Lyra outstretched her cursed hand, and stared at it in the dim light. It almost seemed like the skin had cracked, and raw red streaks that almost glew were now visible in a strange pattern along where the blackened flesh had given way. It occurred to her she'd been holding it to her face, but even with her hand's new growth and ferocity it still didn't work against her own skin. Or maybe it had, and she'd died and was in hell. At that rather delirious moment it was hard for her to think of a way things could be any worse for her.
Then her brain suprised her, and she thought of a way. There'd be no Brenner in hell.
For a second, she split her hands, peering out at the corpselike Brenner, to double check he was still there. Seeing him made her feel a little better, but the thought that what had just happened could repeat itself - without her being able to stop it next time - made her start crying even harder. It was ALL her fault: his horse, his blinding, his sickness and his near death. She covered her eyes again, if only to avoid looking at the source of much of her guilt.
It was hard for her to tell how long it took for her to calm down. It was morning now, and maybe the distant chirping of birds and the feeling of the sun against her skin was what broke her sobbing self-pity. Aside from the smell of obliterated shadow monsters and mildewed wood finally freed from its stony prison, her surroundings couldn't have been more, well, serene. Blinking a few times and rubbing the snotty / teary mixture that had accumulated on her unwashed face onto the tattered remains of her right sleeve, the ex-nun finally stood up and paced away from Brenner.
It was decision time. She could leave him, and thereby prevent him from being consumed by her hand if whatever force that had controlled her came back - but he'd have no way of finding the nearest village without her, let alone fend off bandits or foul beasts that could well be stalking these woods. Or she could tell him that whatever demons hadn't dared to attack them in their hiding spot... but how then to explain the missing tower? And the smell?
Pacing along the shattered rocks, it took Lyra a while to realize what she had to do. She had to stay with Brenner, and tell him the truth. All of it; about her, who she was, her hand, what had happened. Her hand might not be able to kill her, but Brenner could - and more than anyone, he deserved to. She didn't truly think he'd do it, but a part of her really wished he was an awful enough of a person to do so. The rest of her just hoped he'd forgive her.
Her course decided, Lyra searched the rubble for his satchel, to try and get a breakfast going. She wasn't hungry, but she could cook something, maybe heat up some water and apply it to her now woefully inadequate hand bandage and dab it on his forehead; whatever small things she could manage to try and help the man who's life she'd ruined, and who'd been her one source of genuine happiness since she'd escaped the convent.
Having found the small bag, Lyra sank to her knees and prayed. "Please let him wake up soon, so... no, that's selfish. Please let him be alright oh Nameless, and please forgive me. And have Brenner forgive me, if he wants to. And please please please let his vision return when he gets treated - I should be blind, not him, so if it has to be one of us, please let it be me."
Rauri fucked around with this message at Aug 1, 2013 around 08:26
|# ? Aug 1, 2013 07:55|