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Joined: 02 Apr 2001
Location: The Canadian Rainforest
|Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 3:06 am Post subject:
|Miravin Pikeplammer grumbled as he set his hammer down beside the roaring forge and held aloft the piece he had been working on. It was a fair-sized shield of tough, tempered metal that was as fine a quality as was to be expected from a smith as experienced as he, indeed from nearly any bear in the secret underground complex of Kaer’grien.
He was satisfied with the work, knew it would be able to hold its own against many fine weapons, yet his expression was still somewhat sour as he gazed upon it. It was not particularly large like the Pavise Tower shields carried by Banbringer crossbowmen in order to protect them from attack while reloading their cumbersome weapons, nor was it like the bucklers and small shields that the Ragerunners carried and covered with wickedly sharp spikes, using them to inflict as much damage on their foes as the weapons they wielded. Rather it was of medium size and weight, as well as rather unremarkable for the most part, the kind a run-of-the-mill militia or guard member might be found with.
For that was exactly what it was for, what the entirety of the collection of weapons and armor piling near the wagons on the far side of the area occupied by the forges were for. They were to fill an order, and a very substantial one at that, made by the militia of several small Western towns that had pooled their resources in the face of bandits that had been harassing their inhabitants.
“Keep ye goin’! We got orders ta’ meet!” Miravin Pikeplammer shouted as he shook his dirty fist towards the fire-stoked forges that were being worked by his kin, urging them on in their work. “If’n ye finish a’fore the shift’s over, it’ll be malt ale for the lot o’ ye!”
All the sooty bears looked up from their work long enough to let out a cheer and pump their gloved fists into the air, thickly covered to protect against the hot fires and sparks from their respective forges, and immediately thereafter brought down their hammers with renewed enthusiasm.
Miravin knew it was just for show, however, much the same as the forced smile he did his best to keep upon his whiskered face. He and his kin were bears, a hearty folk by nature as hard as the mountain stone through which they dug their deep tunnels and the metal they worked with hammer and anvil. They constantly craved for strong drink, good fights and marvelous riches, filling the halls of their home with rowdy songs about any and all of them.
But this wasn’t their home. Not their real one, anyway.
The stout bear let his gaze drift to the other side of the cavernous area that housed the hundreds of fiery forges, taking a moment to consider those worked by the Banbringer bears, the more practical and inventive cousins of his own clan.
It wasn’t their home, either.
They, like the Ragerunner clan, of which Miravin was Warlord and acknowledged representative, had been driven from their ancestral homes almost three years prior, having occupied the mining complexes under the mountain range that separated the Southern plains from the trade cities of the North.
After the near-annihilation of the Angrinn tribe, despite the fact that scores of warriors from both clans had come to their aid, the combined forces of Balek and Celonia had turned to the bears and had launched an all-out offensive with almost lustful ferocity.
The Ragerunners had welcomed the opportunity for combat, as they had always done, and met their assailants head-on. This had proven to be a mistake, for even wickedly spiked armor and shields could not stand up against the weight and numbers of the fanatical barbarians they faced. Having never been an overly large clan, Miravin’s few hundred kinfolk, though they fought well and had done their ancestors proud, simply could not hold against the thousands that had beset them. Having forsaken defense in favor of open battle, there were no reinforcements to relieve the overwhelmed bears and no plan for retreat.
Retreat, Miravin spat as the word echoed in his mind, striking a most unsavory chord with him, for there was no concept in Ragerunner society for evading battle. And indeed why would there be? Battle was all that the clansmen lived for, and the idea of reacting any other way aside from charging in with glee seemed absolutely absurd to them.
At least it used to, the runty bear noted somberly, recalling vividly how that had all changed that fateful day, recalling when the terrible realization had washed over the hard-fighting fighters when they knew that they could not win, that if they did not find some way to escape that they would be slaughtered down to the last.
Iken Pikeplammer, Miravin’s cousin and the clan’s Warlord at the time, had been the first to react and had ordered a retreat back to Plaint’s Pass, the narrow path that had been long ago been cut into the stone by the first Ragerunner Elders centuries ago to protect their home from Giants and Trolls. Upon arriving there, the invaders nipping at their heels all the way, Iken had ordered all to escape through the mine’s tunnels, every last bear to be evacuated and seal off the way behind them by dropping the roof at strategic points. To cover the retreat, to give the rest of his people their only chance to escape and live on, Iken and nineteen other of the strongest warriors left alive would stay behind at that pass and hold the enemy off for as long as they could. How Miravin had protested when his cousin had ordered him to lead the exodus! He was not about to leave his kin – much less his own cousin – to fight such terrible odds for the survival of others, to sacrifice themselves so that the others might get away.
Many others tried the same argument, and they were no more successful than he was, for Iken Pikeplammer, Warlord of the Ragerunner Clan, would hear none of it, and none could ignore his words. They did as they were told, with heavy hearts and fast feet, and for the first time ever that anyone could recollect, Ragerunners ran away from their enemies instead of at them. Those that were grievously wounded or infirm were helped along or carried as needed, the children were rounded up quickly and given first exit into the deep tunnels of the upper Underdark, and those that were last dropped the tunnels behind them. They left the dead.
Miravin could not forget, or perhaps he would not let himself forget, the last image he saw of his cousin. Iken had turned to face him, clad in magnificent Mythril spiked plate that was worthy of his station, and had given him an exaggerated wink and a genuine smile just before spinning about and joining the battle that came to be known as The Stand at Plaint’s Pass.
The tough, thick-whiskered bear heard himself sniffle a bit at the image and quickly composed himself, turning his attention back to the forges of his people to redirect his thoughts. His frown only deepened though as he looked upon the soot-covered Ragerunner smithies and noted the high percentage of females amongst them.
Males and females of the bear race had always held little real distinction between one another in any of their respective societies, for indeed there was little difference to be found between them. They were most often of equal size and strength to one another, similar in wits and thought, and had no less love for the stone and the forge be it a he or a she. Indeed they were so similar that it was very rare that a non-bear had any hope whatsoever of telling them apart!
Hence it was not the fact that so many females at work smithing that brought the corners of his mouth downward, but the fact that he knew why there were. Only half of the Ragerunner’s number had gone out to do battle with the armies of the Priestess, for they were the number that had just finished their shift at the forges and allowed the next one to take their places.
Those that had been at the forges during the majority of the battle had been mostly female, and as a result those that had escaped had been mostly female.
They were all too aware of that particular fact, Miravin knew, and they had particularly bore deeply the burdening assumption and guilt that every single survivor from that terrible incident had taken with them. If only they had fought, they believed, perhaps they could have saved their kin. Miravin, as well as any who had seen combat that day, had no doubt that such a notion could not possibly be true and bordered on the ludicrous.
But guilt is not a thing born of logic nor guided by it, and even if they could convince themselves of the truth it was unlikely they would feel any different.
Suddenly Miravin thought of his wife, Isabelle, whom he had not seen in over a year’s time due to her task of being a spy within the walls of Citadel Gueratar itself. His chest instinctively puffed out at her entrance into his thoughts, his stance and expression speaking volumes of the pride he felt in his longtime mate and companion who seemed to be his equal and opposite in every way.
Miravin was in every way the perfect archetype of a Ragerunner, generally considering most any problem solvable by a hammer or sword, axe or fist, while Isabelle was much more calculating, able to think on her feet and be flexible in just about any situation. He was gruff and surly, and had been forced over the past few years to learn the basics of diplomacy. Conversely, she seemed always to know what to do when and how to say just what needed saying when it needed to be said. He had been close-minded and terribly suspicious of anyone outside his clan before meeting Isabelle, and it had taken her open-minded and carefree attitude to make him begin to turn that around. Indeed the only thing they both seemed to possess equally were their battle prowess and the love they so openly shared for one another, “mushy stuff” as he had heard some of the other bears snicker from time to time.
Most would be worried, if not terrified, at the prospect of a loved one being in such a dangerous situation. Not Miravin, though. He had every confidence in his wife’s abilities, and he had done his part by designing her protective runed helmet himself and forging it with his own two powerful hands. He knew her well, and trusted that if anyone could survive through the mission, it would be her.
“Yer thinkin’ about her again, aren’t ye?”
Miravin snapped his head to the side, quickly shook from his musings to behold his Banbringer counterpart, dressed in his fine chainmail suit and resting his double-edged axe lazily against his shoulder.
“Ye were thinkin’ about Izzy,” Repeated the smirking Tobias, Warlord and most powerful voice among the industrious Banbringer bears, using the affectionate nickname he had heard his friend so often use.
“That obvious?” Miravin winced, never liking to be caught with his head other than the business at hand.
“No more’n that big melon in tha’ middle o’ yer face,” Tobias quipped, referring to the particularly large nose that the other bear bore. “And ye’ve no need to be embarrassed about it. Tis’ a fine lass, that one.”
“Aye, that’n she is,” Miravin beamed, allowing his chest to puff out a bit once more beneath his heavy blacksmith’s apron. “Me boys gave over a message from her just this mornin’.”
“Heh. Yer love an’ yer spy,” The Banbringer Warlord chuckled as he shook his head, the leather straps on either side of his helmet flapping at his ears. “Anythin’ worth notin’?”
“Nothin’ too ground shakin’, but least’n Celonia’s got somethin’ crawlin’ under her skin,” Miravin grinned wickedly, as he always did at the prospect of the High Priestess’ discomfort. “And ah’m guessin’ it ta’ be our two new friends.”
“Be a fair guess, true,” Tobias nodded in agreement, knowing well the abilities of the two mercenaries that Chief Samael of the Angrinn had recently employed. “Where’n tha’ hells are those two, anyway? Wanted ta’ see if’n they’d help clear a few tunnels.”
“We got tunnels needin’ clearin’?” Miravin asked surprisedly, as usually it was his Ragerunners that were charged with clearing out discovered nests of monsters and the like from the underground complex’s many intertwining passages.
“Just some Goblins,” Tobias shrugged, communicating that he felt such weak and simple creatures really didn’t warrant much serious action. “A score or two at most. Bringin’ me kin so we can get to work immediately after bustin’ em’ up.”
“Which tunnels ye got in mind?” Miravin asked interestedly, knowing that they had recently had to collapse several tunnels because of Troll incursions from the swamps.
“Few o’ the ones to the Northeast,” The Banbringer explained, lifting his axe in the general direction of the tunnels he spoke off. “Some o’ me engineers are thinkin’ we can make a quicker route to our markets in the West by takin’ a route around those windin’ caverns. Tighter fit, but might cut the trip time in half.”
Miravin nodded again, agreeing with that logic as he turned in the direction his counterpart had indicated. Those tunnels were close to the ones the Banbringers had used in their flight after being assaulted by the same force that had nearly destroyed his own Clan. But those circumstances had been different, telling of the inherent differences between the two clans.
Rather than sally forth to do battle, Tobias’ people had instantly fallen back into their mines and set up defenses, looking to defeat their attackers through ingenuity and attrition. This had proved no more effective than the tactics of the Ragerunners, though, for their enemies had been numerous and capable beyond anything the bears had expected. In the end they had been forced to escape the wrath of Celonia and Balek as well, the majority escaping into the tunnels and splitting up to meet back to the mountain complex they now occupied. A good many had been chased down in the tunnels, though, and as such Tobias’ clan had fared little better than Miravin’s in terms of casualties. There were some rumors of a small group of Banbringers escaping the Southlands altogether, taking the tunnels North through the Underdark and settling in the mountains. Whether this was true or not on one knew for certain, but the prospect of other kin alive and well away from the dangers of the South made many of the bears sincerely hope that was the case.
“Think it’ll mean more trade?” Miravin asked more to avoid uncomfortable silence than anything else, wiping some ash and soot away from his whiskered face.
“More ta’ put into the markets, anyway,” Tobias replied without missing a beat, his head nodding before his friend had even finished his question. “And ah’m figurin’ we could use any advantage we can get.”
Miravin only nodded again, pleased at the notion. Though the location of Kaer’grien was secret, the underground complex simply wasn’t self-sustaining enough to get by without some outside trade. So aside from the weapons, armor and other necessities that were made in the flaming forges, products were made for market as well, several tunnels used to ferry the goods to the small communities of the Western frontier safely removed from the turmoil embroiling the Pelanndor Field. The goods of their smithies and craftsmen were traded rather than sold, for the bear of Kaer’grien had more dire needs than material wealth. Farming equipment, meat, spices and other foodstuffs were obtained almost exclusively in this fashion, for very little could grow in the tunnels beneath the hills.
“So where are they?” Tobias asked after a moment of silence.
“Who?” Miravin asked, yet again shaking himself from revelry.
“The monk and the rogue. Where they been of to?” Tobias huffed, impatient that it had taken this long to get a simple question answered.
“Bah. Rogue’s out leadin’ them huntresses around and about. Even with tha’ rains ah’m sure he’s got em’ dizzy, don’t ye doubt,” Miravin explained, having found that to often be the case. “As fer the other one…”
Miravin paused and finally shrugged, never really having a good idea what the stoic Gregori kept himself busy with about the caverns.
“Aye, likely runnin’ about somewhere,” Tobias finished for him, apparently understanding the Ragerunner’s meaning.
“Ye think maybe he’s already cleared out yer tunnels o’ them stinky Goblins?” Miravin suggested with a chuckle, recalling how the blind wolf had so viciously pursued a host of Trolls some weeks before.
“Better not be,” Tobias snorted as he held up his axe, giving it a shake. “Ever since them two came there’s been little fun left fer us!”
“Aye?” The Banbringer Warlord turned at the call of his name, instantly recognizing the youthful voice.
“I have the potions you wanted!” Little Eltan exclaimed, the young mageling’s arms filled with various fluid-filled bottles and beakers of every size as he sprinted across the cavern’s stoneworked floor.
His little legs pumped quickly as he approached, taking as long strides as possible as the length of his makeshift mage robes flapped wildly at his feet, constantly threatening as they always did to send the lad tumbling head over heels. Though the youngster had worn the robes for some time, he wasn’t the most agile of his kind and the ill-fitting fabric tripped the unfortunate fox up just a few yards from the Dwarven duo, sending a single small vial flying out of his grasp into the air.
“Catch it!” Eltan shrieked frantically after looking up from the ground and seeing the tiny glass tube still aloft, too high for the lad to reach and heading straight for his two friends.
Miravin and Tobias just looked to one another and shrugged, then turned their gaze upwards. The Ragerunner Warlord stuck out his gloved hand at the last possible moment, the wayward mystery potion landing safely in the tough material covering his open palm.
“There’n ye go, lad,” The stouter and shorter of the two said as he dropped it into the now outstretched hand of the young fox after he had scrambled to his feet and up to them.
“Thank you,” Eltan managed after a long and heavy sigh of relief, grasping the vile carefully in his little fist and placing it with the others.
“Tweren’t nothin’,” Miravin just gave another shrug, obviously not seeing any kind of significance in the act of saving such a small thing.
“Those the healin’ potions?” Tobias asked curiously, not thinking that such a large amount would be needed for a skirmish with nothing more than a few groups of goblins.
“Nope! I left those with Carr,” The aspiring mage replied, referring to one of the Banbringer Warlord’s most trusted advisers, holding the recently saved vial up close to the bear’s nose for closer scrutiny.
The bears peered in close at the glass container and nodded, noting that the liquid within lacked the translucent blue color of the lad’s recuperating concoctions, instead seeming to be a curious mix of orange and red hues. Plus their sense of smell noted another, more subtle difference. Eltan’s healing potions had a powerful odor about them – though the taste was much more pungent indeed! – and held a distinctly sulfuric aroma, reminding the two trained miners of the nasty gases that sometimes were found deep beneath the stone. Whatever was in this concoction, though, they couldn’t tell by sniffing at the tightly corked glass tube.
“Well, what is it, then?” The impatient Banbringer snapped after no further clarification was given, never liking to be in the dark about anything.
“The firewater potions you wanted for the tunnels,” Eltan said simply and chuckled as he held he turned the glass tube this way and that, allowing the dim light from the many torches and pires about the cavern illuminate it slightly. “The ‘Boom Bottles’, if you will.”
The revelation caused the two bears to leap backwards immediately, almost bowling one another over as they looked like it were a nasty Troll Eltan was holding instead of a potion. They understood immediately what that vial, and indeed all those vials, held, for they were quite familiar with the kit’s firewater solution. It was volatile too say the least, the substances mixed so that they would ignite as soon as they hit air, and deceptively dangerous.
Neither of the two had any doubts that the tiny amount of liquid in that equally tiny vial could have easily immolated them both, along likely with anything within a yard radius in all directions.
“Have ye gone daft, boy?!?” Miravin roared, suddenly bounding forward in front of the surprised kit. “Ye coulda killed the lot o’ us with what ye got there!”
“I… I didn’t mean to!” Eltan stammered, for while the Ragerunner was no more than a few inches taller than he, to see a bear so angry was as imposing a sight as any could see. “I just thought Tobias might want to look them over before heading out!”
“Yer runnin’ about with yer arms full o’ explosives, ye stupid git!” Miravin continued, towering over the timid lad with the sheer ferocity in his tone, as he so often did to make up for his short stature.
In truth he might have smacked the boy upside the head for such foolishness, but stayed his hand when he realized that such an action may not be wise with the mageling’s arms still full of explosives.
“Don’t be frettin’ about it. No harm done, at least,” Tobias stepped in, worried that the boy’s grip might loosen if he was given too bad of a scare. “Take those straight to Carr, and be sure to be tellin’ him just what they are!”
“Y-yes, Tobias! Right away!” Eltan agreed eagerly and turned about, happy to have been spared further scolding, making his way back through the cavern with great haste.
Too much haste, in fact, for it was quickly noticed that he was sprinting as quickly as when he had tripped before!
“STOP YER RUNNIN’!” The two dwarves bellowed together, the combined force of their voices reverberating off the high cavern walls and hitting the boy’s ears hard.
“Sorry,” Eltan meakly offered as he immediately slowed his pace, embarrassed at the large number of dwarf eyes staring at him from the nearby forges.
The Banbringer and Ragerunner Warlords each let out a sigh as they watched the diminished pace of the lad they both held so much fondness for, not being able to shake the thought that the clumsy but well-meaning kit was currently a walking bomb.
“Boy’s gonna be tha’ death o’ us all,” Miravin muttered, shaking his head and crossing his sooty arms across his sooty chest.
“Death o’ himself, more’n likely,” Tobias smirked to his old friend, nodding one of the ridged edges of his helmet off towards the far end of the underground complex. “Why do ye think I made sure to start buildin’ that little tower o’ his where I did?”
Miravin nodded and even smiled as he noted a wink from his Banbringer counterpart, but couldn’t help allowing his gaze to fall back towards the departing mageling.
The tough, hardy bear sincerely hoped the lad didn’t blow them all to kingdom come.
Founder, Co-Founder, Newscaster and President-For-Life of Planetfurry News Network, a subsidiary of Planetfurry Corporation.
"This is PNN".
Last edited by Joshua Fox on Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 02 Sep 2003
Location: Living in peace at Jin's Dojo
|Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 4:55 am Post subject:
|The two lovers finally broke their hug, and looked each other deep in the eyes.
"Shall we get going?" Rob asked, his voice kept low.
"Why should we?" Ellani replied, a gently smile on her muzzle. "The others are taking their sweet time, so give me one good reason why we should hurry."
He was forced to agree to this point and wracked his brains, not for finding reasons to leave, but for finding reasons to stay.
"I'm afraid I can't think of any, my dear," the ferret grinned, "but I found enough reasons to stay in the water a bit longer."
"I thought you would," she grinned in reply, and suddenly swam away from him, her tail swishing through the water to give her extra thrust. "Come and get me!"
He didn't have to hear it twice and started off after her, though slowly losing ground as she was the more powerful swimmer.
Meanwhile, some 600 leagues south of their position, Slavemistress Saymynthi was listening angrily to a report given to her by one of the Guard Sergeants. The vixen's mood had been bad since Varash daily reported about the failure to capture the two males running amok in her territory, and now this, something about an affliction coursing through the slave-population that made the males apathic, made her blood boil.
It was not that Saymynthi actually CARED for what happened to the furs she considered less than pests, but she always delighted in their resentment, even their hatred, for herself, and she particularly enjoyed putting wayward males back in place. Now however, they acted like they didn't care about their fate, they did no longer put up a struggle... and she hated it.
"GET THE HEALERS HERE!" the Slavemistress barked to the Sergeant, a youngish chipmunk femme, who promptly saluted and rushed out of the room, glad to be away from the enraged mood of her boss.
She knew about Saymynthi's new-found cruelness, she also knew that it was at its highest when the vixen was mad, and NO WAY did she want to be the subject of it.
Lt. Stacey 'Target, lock, KILL' Fluffybun reporting.
Current GB rating: 3750 GP (Silver Axe)
Current Guild Rating: 10/20
Beware... My battlecry
Joined: 02 Apr 2001
Location: The Canadian Rainforest
|Posted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:38 am Post subject:
|Thad was growing impatient.
This dragon-in-disguise was obviously no experienced haggler, nor by the necromancer’s estimation an overly shrewd creature in general. He kept his features neutral enough to hide most of his thoughts – though frankly Thad could tell they weren’t overly complex – but was exceedingly sloppy in trying to gage the situation. The offers made had been outrageous, of gold and jewels and powerful magical items beyond compare. To the majority of businessmen, even those of great experience, this was an opportunity to be leapt upon, even the lowest offer likely to have been snapped up in a second.
But Thad was far too practical for that. He had wealth enough already to live comfortably and to follow through with his business, and the many items that adorned his body already bore enchantments enough that anything further would have been cumbersome and unnecessary. The Necromancer was wise enough to know that it was quite possible to have too much of a good thing, and he had no intention of falling into his own greed.
Thus as he began to tire of the silly, and dreadfully dull, game, that ever-present practicality allowed him to put forth an offer of his own.
“Enough,” Thad spoke suddenly, cutting off the dragon’s next words before they were even uttered. “This is the price if you wish to hold that which rests safely in my pocket.”
“You will give me seven scales from your form. One from each of your legs, each of your arms, and the remaining three from your head, tail and chest,” He continued, not even bothering to give the other a chance to speak. “And also four fangs from your maw, two incisors from both the top and bottom row of teeth.”
The Necromancer paused a moment as he peered out into the cavern, his eyes suddenly rimmed with the red tinge of his Arcane Vision.
“And a hair from the head of each of your slaves,” Thad finished, apparently amused by the notion that was even then brewing in his ever-racing brain.
“Persistent bunch,” Malfus mumbled to himself as his nimble finger twanged his bowstring, sending a third arrow into yet another determined huntress who had gotten too close to him.
Indeed they seemed exactly that, the females who hunted him appearing to be far more intent and focused on their task at hand than in previous days. He could see in their eyes – and rarely had they ever gotten so close that he could see them! – that something was quite different. They did not seem the pack of well-disciplined but easily frustrated warriors that pursued him as much to satisfy their own wounded pride as to fulfill the orders of their Mistress. Rather they appeared to be much less enraged and much more focused, shrugging off the rogue’s agonizing yet non-lethal hits as much as possible to continue after him.
Normally Malfus needed but one well-placed arrow to bring down a foe and keep them down, if not permanently, but with the determination these huntresses possessed he found it difficult to do the deed with less than four. And even then was unlikely to be successful unless he had targeted their legs.
Which is exactly what he had done with the last female, thus he thought himself safe to continue his quickened pace without further drawing upon his nearly depleted quiver. Yet he barely had time to finish that thought before he found the need to loose four more of his precious missiles, sending two each into a pair of femmes that had jumped out at him from behind a particularly thick tree with spears ready to throw. Instead that same pair fell to the muddy ground, one clutching at the shafts protruding from her knee and the other clawing at the ones in her shoulder.
“A little too persistent,” Malfus grumblingly decided as he sped on, becoming uncharacteristically distressed with the seemingly endless stream of enemies. The rogue was no fool; he was very much aware that he wouldn’t be able to keep this up for much longer. His quiver simply didn’t have enough arrows, and even if it did he doubted it would give him the necessary edge to escape enemies that were suddenly so intent on his head.
The aged ocelot had to admit that he found some amusement in the irony of his situation. He had spent many of his many years as a bounty hunter, tracking down those fugitives from justice who possessed the skills necessary to elude conventional authorities and returning them alive and well… for a generous fee, of course.
Now it was he who was on the run from the local authority, even if it was an unjust one, with experienced trappers and trackers nipping at his heels whenever he ventured out from his new hiding place. How many times had he chased down someone in very much the same manner? With over three hundred noteworthy bounties to his credit, it had been many a time indeed.
Karma perhaps? He mused as he leaped over the trunk of a tree that been felled earlier, reminding him that he had already backtracked through this patch of forest before. With this in mind he turned his body with a jerk, changing his direction in midair while keeping the momentum from the spring of his finely muscled legs.
Malfus regretted the move no more than a moment later, as a cleanly cut tree trunk came down before him seemingly out of nowhere, too close for even the agile rogue to move under or over the mighty oak before it was to strike the forest floor.
Still not wanting to relinquish his momentum, the wily rogue utilized a move he had learned from his monk friend and continued forward, lifting up his feet to connect with the fallen trunk as its impact sprayed mud across his rain-soaked cloak. Allowing his knees to bend as much as possible, he sprung off backwards and to the left, thinking to hit the ground running off in the new direction before the females were able to gain on him. He found only a similar sight to the one he had just observed, though, an even larger tree finding its way into his path too close for him to slip by.
He repeated his trick once more, but before he had turned fully about he could see two others joining their fallen brothers. Releasing his error, the rogue tucked his head under him and rolled, coming to a stop and rising up off the muddy ground with his bow drawn. Only then did he recognize his true folly, his narrowed eyes suddenly going wide.
The four cut trees, thick and mighty oaks all, had fallen into an almost perfect square, their trunks linking the corners at the bare stumps upon which they had for so long resided. As soon as the last was in place, the impromptu lumberjacks had scrambled up and over the newly created walls of wood, the shortest of which was a good four feet high. These huntresses, more than a score in all, were prepared and ready for any escape attempt, most holding viciously sharp axes and several others with bows and arrows already aimed pointedly at the expert marksman from all sides.
He had fallen into a trap.
Founder, Co-Founder, Newscaster and President-For-Life of Planetfurry News Network, a subsidiary of Planetfurry Corporation.
"This is PNN".
Joined: 04 Dec 2003
Location: Inman, SC
|Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 2:14 am Post subject:
|Dull witted indeed... It's an interesting deal. Though it involves a small bit of pain for myself. Tell me, does all intelligence in your mind revolve aroud swift negotiating skills? Hmph, nevermind. I'll give you what you want." Irritated at the very notion of him being stupid, Jeff never the less kept his expression neutral, as he walked off to gather the required supplies. Soon enough, he bumped into Krystal, who happily greeted her master, not even suspecting the swift move that robbed her of one of the hairs on her head.
"HEY! WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!?" The dragon grinned and flicked her on the tip of her muzzle.
"I need it more than you do right now. Ah, Kyle! Just who I wanted to see..." Krystal's eyes widened as the fox came into view.
"KYLE! LOOK OUT FOR..." The warning came too late as Jeff collected a strand of hair from his head. The monk, however, had the misfortune of his reflexes kicking in, and in trying to jerk away, now had a baldspot on the top of his head. Jeff blinked, looking first at the tuft of fur, then at Kyle's exposed skin, and started a fit of laughter that lasted quite a while, ending finally with Jeff walking away to remove the required parts of himself for the Necromancer...
"This is what you wanted, is it not? Two hairs, each from one of m slaves, and the scales and teeth, all easily regenerated. I'm assuming you wish them for spells." The dragon waited for the Necromancer to voice his approval, and stretched out his hand. "The stone, please."
Kyle let out a string of curses as he rubbed the bare skin on his head. That was just low, and I can't even blame Master for it! I hope it grows back in quickly... As he stepped away from the camp, he sighted the lion waiting outside and scowled. Great, now we have spying felines. With huge chains, too. And not bad looking. Well, time to spy on the spy... Kyle leapt up into a nearby tree and watched...
Krystal similarly stalked away, sulking at the extremely trivial matter of one hair missing. He could have ASKED! One hair isn't much, and he IS the master, why did he just pounce at it like that?!? ...Maybe I shouldn't do it to him...Nah! The wolf grinned as her thoughts of possible revenge came through...
Jeff: Do you even realize what time it is?!?
Brian: The time I got home. Why?
Current favorite game music: FF8 Boss music, Tallgeese's theme (GW: Eternal Duel)
Joined: 02 Apr 2001
Location: The Canadian Rainforest
|Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 3:42 am Post subject:
|The old bounty hunter tried hard not to laugh, but the urge was so great that the experienced marksman’s arms began to waver, his grip on the enchanted bow slipping as his grimaced face erupted in snickers. If his previous situation had been filled with irony, then this one had to be doubly so!
Malfus Brigendier, the renowned rogue whose name was practically synonymous with mastery in traps, had found himself caught within one. True, it wasn’t a marvel of technology by any standard, but it didn’t need to be. He knew that the best traps were simple ones, just like the many the man of mixed heritage had sprung upon them during the many days and weeks that they had already spent on this little game.
Had they learned from him? Malfus dared to muse, and indeed such a thought made him snicker all the more!
The huntresses about him saw this, but misinterpreted the shaky, erratic movements of the man as he attempted to hold his bow straight. Their expressions were smug and wicked, practically dripping with self-satisfaction as they mistakenly thought that their soon-to-be captive was fighting back tears, not laughter. For indeed who would ever laugh at being in such a predicament?
Malfus Brigendier, that’s who.
He continued to fight it back even as his attention was suddenly turned to the side. There he noticed several huntresses move quickly out of the sides, barely getting clear when the heavy form of their leader touched down, her powerful legs kicking up mud on either side of her into the air as she found her footing, a familiar weasel femme scrambling close behind.
The rogue’s face suddenly twisted into confusion. The form before him was clearly that of a bear, short and stocky with compact muscles making up the whole of its body from head to toe, yet if this one was of Clan Banbringer or Clan Ragerunner, he hadn’t met her.
Her? He quickly questioned himself as he eyed the bear before him. Despite the many years of contact he’d had with the battle-hearty race, he (like most) always had more than a bit of trouble discerning their gender, though since the male members by far outnumbered the females, it was often a safe assumption that it was a ‘he’.
Her. He affirmed decidedly, knowing full well that none of these huntresses would ever even seriously entertain the thought of moving aside for the opposite sex. Malfus also had noticed one thing about the bear that seemed to affirm his suspicions, for this particular bear wore shorter and thinner whiskers than either Miravin or Tobias, or any of their consorts that he knew to be male. Aside from a few different, though important, parts, this was often the only thing that set femmes apart in the bear race.
She, as he now knew her to be, did not pause and instead steadily approached the trapped bounty hunter, her heavy steps putting deep prints in the muddy ground as the rains continued to fall all about them.
Varash grinned wickedly as she surveyed the scene, most pleased indeed to see their elusive prey (or one of them, anyway) completely surrounded on all sides by her best huntresses and in the confines of her brilliant trap.
Well, not hers, really. In truth that credit belonged to the slender female behind her, for indeed it had been Hethegel, as was her name, who had argued so insistently on this more methodical plan. Varash would have preferred simply to drug her huntresses’ drink with Beserker leaf and set them loose in the wilds, thinking that even the two resourceful males were not capable enough to elude more than seven score of the enraged females. But her ‘Sister’s arguing had been enough to convince her to alter the course, settling instead for spiking the drink of about half the force just enough that they would have much more difficulty feeling pain, thus making them more formidable and their pursuit more dogged. This would, as the theory went, keep their quarry busy and distracted enough for them to spring their trap upon the pair. The reasoning seemed sound to the former Ragerunner, even though it meant keeping herself in check long enough for that reasoning to actually play out.
And her patience had paid off indeed, as was evidenced by the prize before her very eyes. Normally she would have been wary, looking about for this old rogue’s ever-present monk ally, but by all reports she had received, the second male had not accompanied his friend into the forest and had not been seen once throughout the day.
So Varash approached him grinning widely with all confidence, her hands gripped eagerly about the short handles of her two double-bladed axes, both of which she could wield skillfully in close quarters combat or throw to turn them into the most deadly of projectiles. Unlike her kin that even at that moment were smithing and mining in the undercity of Kaer’grien, she wore neither the wickedly spiked platemail of her former clan, nor the tightly linked chainmail of their Banbringer cousins, instead sporting a rough assortment of hide and leather garments that covered her from whiskers to toes and left only her muscled arms bare.
In fact the only thing she wore that was even slightly remarkable was a wooden, circular talisman with eight points sticking out of its sides, hanging from a leather strap around her neck. This was a gift from Celonia herself, and was given to those followers who had amply proven their devotion to Taruna with ‘deeds sufficient to honor the will of their goddess’. Suffice to say such deeds all too often entailed blood, blades, and very unfortunate males.
None of this seemed to matter to the imperiled ocelot, though, for he utterly shocked all the nearby females by throwing his head back and letting out a long, hard howl. They all instinctively fell back a step with weapons up and drawn, knowing all too well the many surprises the rogue was known for pulling out of thin air and unsure of what this particular one might be. Even Varash was crouched in a defensive position, her twin axes held out before her ready to fend off any attack as the male cried out and… laughed?
Yes, he was laughing! So hard in fact that he soon doubled over, the arrow that had been tautly set against his bowstring falling harmlessly to the murky mud as he continued with his loud tittering. None of the huntresses, Varash included, knew what to make of the spectacle. Was he mocking them? Using his laughter as an instrument he hoped would wound the females’ pride, perhaps even startle them enough to provide him opportunity for escape?
If either of those were the case he certainly didn’t follow up on it, instead straightening himself once his ample fit had reduced itself to mere chuckling and regarding the leader of the hunt with a genuinely pleased grin.
“Excellent!” he shouted, raising his arms high above his head in what appeared to be joy rather than defeat. “I had hoped you would come!”
“You know of me?” The perplexed Varash would have asked, but she held her words fast as she watched the old rogue remove his heavy cloak, tossing it down behind him near one of the natural wooden barricades, landing easily before a curious female archer.
He quickly followed up by tossing upon that cloak his bow and quiver, the pouch of potions that little Eltan had packed himself, and thereafter all of his larger possessions. His scimitar was left for last, which he left attached to his belt as he unbuckled it and held it up for all assembled to see, giving a nod before it joined the small pile of his other belongings. Once the process was finished he spread his arms out wide, still grinning just as broadly as if attempting to reassure all around him that he held no ‘surprises’ about him.
Yet this only confused the warrior women further. They certainly had not expected surrender from such a spirited foe, nor would it be welcomed if that indeed were the case. These huntresses that had been chosen for their prowess in battle, and had eagerly agreed to sit out the majority of the day’s activity only for the promise of a frenzied battle from which the wily rogue could not escape. Now there seemed to be no such thing forthcoming and the proud fighters took on very sour expressions indeed as they bore witness to the surprising scene.
Two, however, did not wear such looks. Hethegel, who had been among the huntress party who had first encountered the two males many weeks ago, who had felt the sting of Gregori’s sleep darts and the snare of Malfus’ marvelous traps, did not believe the act for a second. Varash was likewise skeptical, having heard and seen enough of the pair’s prowess to understand that neither would allow themselves to be taken so easily.
For a few moments, nothing was said. The rogue’s arms remained wide and to his sides, his lips curled up about a toothy smile, and all those about him cast the same scowling looks they had been boring into him since he had stripped himself of all means of resistance.
“Do you accept?” Malfus finally asked, not moving from his posture though cocking his head to the side curiously.
Varash and Hethegel, obviously not understanding, looked to one another with much the same curiosity before regarding him once more.
“The challenge!” Malfus clarified, pumping his fists into the air with a hoot before either female could venture a query. “To fight with naught but our bodies!”
Both the hunt leaders’ eyes opened widely at that, again not having expected the curious turn of events.
Hethegel was immediately suspicious, eyes narrowed dangerously as her mind raced to consider all the possible tricks such a talented and experienced rogue as he could have ready to make such a claim.
Varash, however, reacted much more positively to it. She was a fierce warrior of much power and skill (though even she privately admitted that she held far more of the former than the latter), but even she had not been wholly eager to match blades with the sly and swift male. This prospect seemed much more favorable to her, for while Malfus’ body was sleek and toned, the ripples of many muscles visible on any part of his body that was no shrouded by his tunic and breeches, Varash’s was solid and mighty, the impact of her fist as fierce as the strike of a warhammer. Thus in unarmed combat she felt the bounty hunter would lose his greatest advantage and eventually would have no recourse but to fall under the blows of the bear.
Practically gleeful and not bothering to hide her excitement, she took her weapons and handed them handle-first to the smaller weasel femme, instructing her to hold them until her inevitable victory had been completed. Hethegel, not a creature of muscle and certainly nowhere near as strong as the mighty Varash, came dangerously close to severing her foot in half as she dropped one of the cumbersome axes onto the sludgy ground before her. How heavy those weapons were!
Too intent on the situation to notice that little fact – for Varash was quite protective of her weapons – the bear skulked towards what she thought to be her hapless prey, her fingers waggling eagerly as if eyeing a great prize or feast.
Malfus for his part did his best to emulate that same look, and the two circled ominously about one another, seemingly waiting for the other to make the first leap and attempt to tear the other to pieces. The rogue’s bare arms still held out wide to his sides, his sleeveless tunic ever-showing that he indeed had no more surprises to offer.
Except for one.
Had it not been for the dark clouds that blocked out even the slightest hints of sunlight, had it not been for the heavy raindrops still falling all about them, had their attention been more focused on him as opposed to the spectacle in general, they might have noticed a very thin string of silver tied about his right wrist, the end of which was attached to the hilt of his scimitar many feet away atop his other belongings. It, like his scimitar, had been gifted to him when he had briefly held the leadership of a thieves’ guild in the bustling trade city of crisp, and held an unmistakable enchantment that allowed them to better serve the worthy ocelot. The string, barely thick enough to be substantial, could elongate and contract at will, potentially becoming as long or as short as was required for the moment’s present requirement. With but a thought Malfus had instructed it to become loose and long, and as such had not hindered the sword’s descent as it crashed down upon the pile of motley possessions. Even then it was slack, allowing a broad range of movement without so much as hinting at its presence.
Taking a moment to look around yet still facing forward, (for he was not foolish enough to turn his back on one such as Varash!), he noted the smug smiles, the gleeful grins of the females, all of whom apparently thought the sight of their leader tearing him limb from limb would at least be an acceptable substitute for actually engaging in the fight themselves. But they were not the only ones who held such smiles, and the lone male in all the forest had one that spread his lips practically to his ears.
Predictably, Varash struck first, making a lunge straight for the nimble male that was more for show than anything, for she had no intention of ending this battle quickly. Malfus on the other hand, who sidestepped the attack cleanly and with apparently little difficulty, had other ideas.
With but a thought and a flick of his wrist his scimitar sprung up from the pile of his belongings and slid free of its sheath, and to the startled females all around it seemed as if the blade had leaped eagerly into the rogue’s capable hand. It took only one swift movement to place the edge of that blade at the base of the very surprised Varash’s throat, pressing within a hair’s breath of her exposed flesh.
“I’m sorry,” Malfus said suddenly, feigning confusion as he held the blade steady and unwavering. “Did you not know you were stupid?”
Founder, Co-Founder, Newscaster and President-For-Life of Planetfurry News Network, a subsidiary of Planetfurry Corporation.
"This is PNN".
Joined: 02 Apr 2001
Location: The Canadian Rainforest
|Posted: Sun Feb 29, 2004 9:09 am Post subject:
|“Coward,” Varash finally spat after a long, uncomfortable silence, though still not daring to move with the sharp edge of the bounty hunter’s scimitar pressed so closely to her throat. “It shouldn’t surprise me that a lowly male like you would be completely without honor.”
“But with brains,” Malfus added quickly, turning the blade in his hand ever so slightly against her skin to accentuate his point. “And without a sword at my throat.”
“Through treachery! Through deception!” She roared, balling his gnarled fingers into tight fists at her sides. “Through wicked, cowardly magic!”
Malfus almost laughed aloud at how virulent the female had made those last few words sound. She spoke as if they were a curse in themselves, as if the very notion of utilizing magic were on par with arming a catapult with live babies.
Female babies, anyway, by her point of view.
In truth this didn’t surprise the learned rogue in the least (though he found the notion no less ridiculous), for he had found out long ago that the hearty folk of the Southlands, and the Dwarfs especially, did not trust magic of any form. They did make an exception for the kind used in the enchantment of weapons, but among so superstitious peoples with such fanatic devotion to their gods, many among the non-Dwarf communities held no tolerance even for that.
Still Malfus was no wizard. His weapons held useful enchantments, true, but there was no doubt in the rogue’s mind that even little, clumsy Eltan would have no difficulty defeating him in a contest of spell-casting.
But they didn’t need to know that.
“Oh, you’re just mad because I used your sense of honor,” Malfus had to pause and chuckle at the use of the word. “To thwart your silly game.”
“Game?!?” Varash spat in some language the male couldn’t understand before composing herself. “Fool! You are surrounded! You’ll be dead before your stroke falls!”
“Well I’ve certainly been having fun,” The rogue shrugged, paying no need to the expected – though no less real – threat. “Haven’t you?”
He accentuated his statement with a firm pat on her rump, and she nearly lunged forward to throttle the male. Nearly, for she was quickly reminded of her tenuous situation when her neck muscles tensed, causing the blade at her throat to draw a very small line of blood. Varash was impetuous and erratic by nature, but by no means was she suicidal.
“You can’t escape,” She reminded him, trying to keep the trepidation from showing in her tone. “How many arrows will find your wretched body before you get three steps away? How many spears? How many axes?”
Varash could help but cast a wayward gaze over to the side, where her own twin axes lay against the largest of the mighty wooden barricades that surrounded them. How she would love to have answered the last part of her question with those very weapons!
“Fun indeed,” Malfus continued as if he hadn’t heard a word she’d said, continuing to slowly circle about the warrior as he had been doing for several minutes with the blade of his scimitar ever at her throat. “And much more to be had as well!”
Varash then turned her gaze helplessly towards Hethegel, the one who had so insisted upon springing the clever trap. Like a good dozen others about them she had her bow drawn, an arrow fitted perfectly to let fly into the nearby male at any moment, but her expression was unlike those scowls on the faces of her fellow huntresses. Her bow, like theirs, followed the rogue as he paced around the frozen Varash, but not a one could get a clear shot. He was moving about her seemlessly at just the right pace and just the right distance, and any missile fired could be avoided by just a slight movement in any direction, likely instead finding their ‘Sister’ instead of the intended target.
Thus Hethegel’s expression seemed as helpless as the hostage, but there was also another quality there that belied her private thoughts at the moment, namely that though she had not expected so stunning an act from the wily rogue, it had not overly surprised her.
Though she would not – and could not – admit it to anyone, she respected the man’s cunning.
“Thinking she’ll help you? I’m sure she would if she could,” Malfus stated amusedly as he followed Varash’s gaze, pointing with his free hand out towards the weasel femme. “Besides, as you can see there’s one little problem.”
Varash raised an eyebrow curiously and continued to look out towards the designated femme, and had barely formed her first thought when she realized that she had just turned her back on the dangerous and well-armed male. Thinking he would take the opportunity to stab her in the back, the huntress took a chance and spun quickly about, her fist swinging forward meaning to lay the less-muscled male low. It found only air, though, for the rogue had seen it coming and dodged to the side before the punch was ever thrown. Never one to waste a motion, Malfus quickly ducked and brought the hilt of his scimitar down low, striking hard at the back of her knee and almost causing the leg to buckle beneath her. He immediately avoided another hasty swing, but there was little real force behind it and it served only to propel her about, placing her vulnerable back to him once more. Rather than going for what could easily have been a deadly backstab, he turned his body in tandem with her own, striking her exposed flank with both the hilt of his sword and as powerful a kick as he could muster. Normally the female’s solid and muscular frame would have held firm against the blows, but she was already off balance and instead went tumbling head over heels into her smaller ally.
And Malfus realized that he had just given up his shield.
Ever one to improvise when the situation called for it -- and the arrows and throwing axes that subsequently whizzed by his head seemed to suggest that this was indeed such a one -- he quickly leapt away and fell to his knees, the slick mud covering the ground allowing him to slide the several feet over to his pile of discarded belongings. Ignoring the more cumbersome items he swooped up his bow in quiver with his free hand and came up to his feet just before the nearest downed tree trunk. There to greet him was a particularly ferocious looking female with a huge double-bladed battleaxe that she quickly put to use, bringing it down with both her powerful arms and, Malfus noted, not the least bit of finesse. Thus by the man’s many years of experience he was able to dodge even before the attack began, the wily rogue’s fast feet and faster mind putting him up in the air beside the warrior as the blade of her weapon sliced into the muddy earth. Just as he had expected, the amount of strength she had put into the stroke forcing her shoulders to stoop and her back to bend forward, which made her an excellent springboard for the airborne male. And so he brought his feet down onto her exposed back and used it to leap up, up and over the mighty oaken trunk, nailing one very surprised huntress square in the nose with the hilt of his scimitar to give him the opening he needed. Both he and the unfortunate female both hit the ground, on his feet and on her back, and Malfus wasted little time in breaking off into a dead run across the mud-slicked ground as rain continued to pour down in heavy droplets.
Arrows let fly with great frequency behind him perhaps a dozen at a time, but whether due to the heavy rain or the rage with which they gripped their bows, none of the huntress’ missiles found their mark in those frenzied minutes. One particularly well aimed shot skipped over the trunk of yet another fallen tree and nicked the rogue in the shoulder, but all knew well that that would hardly slow the ever-surprising rogue down.
The Hunt was on again.
“After him! After him NOW!” Varash roared with indignant fury as she scrambled back up to her feet both she and the unfortunate huntress she’d landed on splattered practically head-to-toe in mud. “Catch him and hold him down so I can chop off his legs!”
Knowing full well that the warrior would likely substitute one of them for that purpose if the male were not available, every last huntress within earshot quickly took up the chase once more. Hethegel, having taken a rather thorough mud bath when Varash had tumbled into her, had just wiped some of the goopy mess from her face and started to follow when a strong hand gripped her thin but muscled arm, stopping her in her tracks.
“Not you,” Varash grinned, the wicked edge of her upturned lips speaking volumes of her intentions. “You come with me.”
Rob sat back and patted his full stomach, enjoying the rather comfy spot he’d found in the shade of a leafy evergreen tree. And the fact that his head was resting on Ellani’s chest didn’t exactly hurt, either.
He had remained there for the past hour or so, after having filled his belly with a small portion of the extravagant delicacies Thad had conjured (at Rob’s insistence) for their suddenly much larger group. This was, of course, mostly for the benefit of the some score former slave girls of Alash. Rob had rightly guessed that none of the unfortunate femmes had eaten a decent meal in quite a long time – indeed he didn’t even want to think of what the cruel and sadistic Flind might have fed them – and requested Thad use his magic to create something pleasant for their consumption. The Necromancer resisted at first, but after some coaxing he had begrudgingly agreed and used one of his more useful conjuring magics to bring forth a great feast, including a great long table complete with chairs and service, along with what seemed like a practically endless supply of food and drink of the most exotic and delicious sorts. Indeed there had been plenty for all who wished to partake in the hour that the spell lasted, and not a single one that had taken even the smallest amount of food had been unsatisfied in the least.
Thad however, having expended a good deal of his spells and energy, did not take part in the revelry and appeared to be quite tired. After conjuring a simple supper for himself (gruel, water and bread by the looks of it) he had left the general area and had found his own quiet spot near the entrance to what had been Alash’s lair. After making a quick check inside the cave to ensure the animated corpses of the Flind and his small army were still guarding the inner areas as he’d instructed, he laid his head back against a fine white pillow he'd produced from his bag of holding and rested, his hands laid casually across his chest as he slumbered.
Everyone else was camped in the nearby woods, relaxing as well as their reward for a day’s good work. As the sun started to creep down towards the horizon, dusk not far off, Rob thought it a good idea to tell a story, if for no other purpose than to add more enjoyment to the successes of the day.
But what tale? He thought. The bard knew many stories and just as many ways to tell them, but he felt that evening required one of special significance, to both the group and their newfound friends. A grin found his way to his face, one so accustomed with the expression, and he even found the will to lift his head from the overly comfortable spot to address all assembled.
“Well, now that we’ve all enjoyed the fruits of our wizardly friend’s labors,” Rob chuckled and gave an apologetic look to Ellani before turning to face everyone else, realizing he’d accidentally roused her from slumber. “Perhaps you’d like to hear the tale that brought me to his front door.”
Founder, Co-Founder, Newscaster and President-For-Life of Planetfurry News Network, a subsidiary of Planetfurry Corporation.
"This is PNN".
|Pat The Fox
Joined: 06 Jun 2002
Location: Great White North
|Posted: Sun Feb 29, 2004 4:06 pm Post subject:
|"But which one" Pat murmered as his paws felt along the pile of sticks within the lair. He had grabbed a pawful of bred berries and a bti fo meat before heading within the cave knowing he may come cross something of use. His paws traced the lines of money strong sticks but many just didn't feel right. "Perhaps this one?"
He picked up the stick and weighed it in his paws, feeling for balance and smoothness. He then span and took a hard whack at the cave wall with it, being greeted with a shower of splinters and broken wood from the staff "Nope, definately not that one, way to weak."
Again he returned to picking through the assortment, the pile not a small one, which he had no doubt of belonged to some unfortunte creature that had succumb to the flinds. As his paw neared the end he suddenly felt n odd snese as his paw ran across one of the staff "Hello, what's this?"
He moved his paw back onto the odd feeling one and it sent more tremors through his paw, causing him to pull it back. This was something unusual, something he had not encountered before. Being a little wary of what this feeling meant he decided to grab two normal staffs and put the weird one on top. He needed to find someone who had more experience with identifying the enchantments of the stick.
Pat The Fox
Joined: 04 Jul 2001
Location: In transition/between states
|Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2005 9:02 pm Post subject: War and Peace
|Khamilah wasn't present for Rob's story-telling; she wasn't in the best frame of mind to pay his efforts their proper attention. Indeed, she was upset; angry was a poor word to express the way she felt, but it served well enough. She couldn't tear her thoughts away from the events of the past couple of hours-- and Gods, had it only been that long?-- and though she knew that the gnolls and flinds would not have likely left their 'territory' unscouted, would have made sure that their surroundings held no surprises for them, she decided that she had to get away. Telling Rob, Thad, and the rest that she was going to check the area for dangers-- an excuse she knew that everyone in her party likely saw for being just that-- she left the camp.
Truthfully, she did scout out the area, searching for left-over traps that the gnolls might have laid down, and checking for anything that posed a definite threat, but her attention wasn't fully set to her task.
The greater portion of her anger was directed at that damnedable Alash; she couldn't fathom how someone could have the capability to act with such brutality and cruelty. It made her stomach hurt to think of all the things she'd heard from the slave girls about what had been done to them, and to others who'd crossed paths with the gnolls and flinds. She wasn't completely naive to the unfeeling ways of some furrs of the world, but this was so far above and beyond anything she'd ever known that it made her dizzy with confusion. Tonight had brought with it the loss of any remaining innocence she'd had in such matters, she knew, and a part of her mourned heavily for that loss. There was no way she could unknow now what she'd come to know; spells did exist that could take away her memories, or that could take the information from her of course, but they were likened to hammers where she required a fine knife; they would do far more harm than good. Distantly, she knew that this knowledge, these experiences, would help her to survive, but the cost of gaining that knowledge was a part of her spirit; it disturbed her greatly to suffer such a price.
Thinking on that subject led her to thoughts of her God, Surius, and from there to the otteress, Marisselle; a tiny core of anger reserved just for her, burned hot and bright in her heart. For a few moments, she wanted to demand to Surius that he damn her, that he condemn her to suffer for her crime, and it took a great deal of effort to calm herself, to remember that she had no right to be angry; it wasn't she who the otteress had offended, only her sense of right and wrong as her faith told her. She thought a bit further, and came to the idea that maybe Surius had already had His way with her, had already put her through the proper punishment for taking the life of her unborn child. That thought gave her a bit of comfort-- as well as some guilt, as she knew that she wasn't supposed to take delight or pleasure of any sort in another's misfortune; but she couldn't help feeling that what the otteress had gone through might have been deserved, and just.
That didn't stop her from feeling sullied at the presence of the otteress, however; Marisselle had taken to her like a lost child. She seemed to all but worship Khamilah, praising her for heeding the call of Surius, for heeding her prayers to Surius for help. Khamilah had almost burst her spirits by telling her that rescuing her had been more accidental than purposeful, that there had been no intent to resue her and the others until they'd discovered that they were there; she thought of the whimpering response of Marisselle, though, and decided that she didn't want the headache. She wouldn't be the one to tell her whether or not Surius still heard her pleas.
The final straw had been when the otteress offered herself to Khamilah; she'd had to hold herself back from howling in fury at the nerve and audacity of the other femme. How dare she act as though she still had the right to offer a life-debt to her! By the tenets of her faith, Marisselle was already dead; the dead couldn't offr their lives to a life-debt! She'd had to escape after that.
By Surius will, she silently prayed as she approached the camp once again, please grant me the strength and wisdom to learn those lessons you've given to me tonight. Reluctantly, gave the proper bird call sound, meant for Derrick's ears, and entered the periphery of the camp.
She was doing her best to meditate, to focus on achieving the state of mind that would bring her those few steps towards the peace she sought.
Not that she was particularly successful at it this night; her thoughts were too disordered, too raw with emotion, for her to be able to be calm enough to find her center.
The council meeting had met with all the success she'd expected, which was to say, none at all. Enough of the council members of the represented towns slowed down the meeting, trying to make everyone aware of their own importance, and enough arguing occurred over the defensive project, and which towns would provide the laborers, or the materials, or even what materials to use, that very little actually got accomplished.
As she'd expected, her presence at the meeting had been merely a formality, and she was displeased that so much effort had been wasted for furthering the foolishness of her supposed importance. With the meeting over, stalled over until the next month, and no real decisions having been made, she was doubly incensed about being encouraged to attend. Night by then, she had been escorted to the local Apostle- along with all the other priests and priestesses- and directed to the room where she now sat, trying once again to fight against the anger and pain she felt even still.
Once again she struggled not curse Surius' name in anger; once again she felt the awful ache of not knowing if Khamilah were alive or otherwise. Once again she cried, pleading for some sign, any sign, of her daughter's well-being, to help her to be able to move on. Once again she wiped away her tears, trying not to feel the numbing disappointment at finding no answer, no sense of peace.
And then, a miracle happened; or something very close to being so.
What would you give? the voice seemed to fairly boom in her ears, just a bit more loudly than the usual conversational level. She jerked mightily, falling from her meditative position onto the floor; she looked around wildly,vaguely fearful, searching for the source of the voice.
What would you give, Sabarika, to be able to know your daughter's fate? the voice asked her, challenged her; she could sense a true desire to know her answer, in the tone.
It dawned on her then, that maybe she had finally lost contact with what was real; hearing voices in her head was simply fooli-
Very well, the voice spoke again, You do not believe. Live the remainder of your days, then, with the knowledge that you dismissed the opportunity to gain the answers you have sought; a pitiful and curs'ed memory that will be.
Before the final words were spoken, Sabarika began to realize, false or not, if this voice could give her an answer as to Khamilah's fate, she wanted- needed- to know. Maybe she had lost contact with what was real, but the need for an answer outweighed any concern for the state of her mind.
"Wait!" she called out. "You asked me what I would give, to know my daughter's fate, I would give many things, almost anything, were it mine to give, to know what has happened to my dear Khamilah."
Would you give your life? the voice asked.
She almost said "Yes!" without hesitation, then stopped herself, and almost answered "No"; she halted again, and thought for only a moment longer, before giving her reply.
"If I could know Khamilah's fate," she answered, "then yes, I would give my life." While she had no wish to die, if she could know, once and for all what had happened to Khamilah, could know for a fact that her daughter was alive, or dead, then she would do so willingly.
She 'felt' a sense of affirmation, and then she was surrounded in a column of light so bright that it was nearly painful to keep her eyes open in the face of it.
You have given your life to my name, the voice spoke for a final time, Behold what has befallen your child, and see how now she fares. Bless'ed you shall be for so long as you give yourself to the geas that gives duty to those to bear their lives in my name. Share your wisdom with others, Priestess Sabarika, and do what you are able, to help them find their own paths to peace.
The column of light abruptly faded, leaving her once again in her darkened room- but an instant later, her view of the room changed, and she saw a vision that brought fresh tears to her eyes, tears this time of joy.
In her vision, she saw all that had happened to her daughter, from being kidnapped and tortured, to her escape and finding friends along the way, and then, finally saw that her child was alright, and was finally, slowly, making her way back home.
And then, it finally dawned on her-
She'd just willingly become the very thing she'd thought herself unworthy of, of the symbol that she'd shunned and fought against.
She was now, truely, a Priestess.
"Aww, crud," she muttered to herself.
"Life is not for the faint of heart. Live a little!!"
-said Shirh to his brother, Elijah
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