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4/10/2019 19:38:02   
Eternal Wanderer

Baron Terex was not a nervous man by nature. If truth be told the baron of the backwater province of Hron was an indifferent ruler, largely content to let his subjects go about their business, so long as the taxes and tithes were collected on time and in their proper proportions. Terex had assessments of his own to pay after all, and while the baron was willing to look the other way every now and then when the Dakorel Company came up a little light on their timber quotas - always with an apologetic gift enclosed with their report - the king was rather less lenient. Perhaps that was at the root of what so unnerved him about this entire series of disasters. Whatever was going on in deep recesses of Piege Forest was affecting previously scheduled shipments to the interior.

And that thrice-cursed note.

Hazel eyes narrowed as the baron grimaced. It was not simply a matter of that rambling so-called “report” from Konning. His advisors had puzzled and mulled and debated over those ravings for hours, drawing no conclusions Terex found of use. That simple scroll had resulted in reams of paper, piles of speculations, comparisons, obscure references.

Not a single one of use against that other letter.

The missive sat unopened on the baron’s desk, and though the red wax seal bearing the crown and stars of Arethon was still intact, Terex knew the contents as surely as he knew the deficits in the quotas caused by the puzzling disappearances. The baron stood at the window of his study, staring down into the mansion’s courtyard without really seeing it. His arms were linked behind his back, fingers of one hand tapping distractedly at the wrist of their fellow. It was a restive habit developed since the arrival of the half-dead messenger. A caravan, a woodcutter’s hut, even a village could be explained. But Pinewatch?

Two weeks, at most. They leave tonight: Three days to Pinewatch. Two, three days to investigate. Three days back…

Less than two weeks, certainly. The letter had arrived three days ago, but there had been proclamations to write, proposals to draft… His fingers tightened around his wrist, squeezing to the point of pain. If only he could throttle this misbegotten problem so readily.

There is enough time. There will be enough time. There has to be.

Because unless those who responded to his call returned - nay, more than that, returned with answers - he would have nothing to offer in his own defense when the king’s envoy arrived. The consequences of such a failure… did not bear considering. His fingers stilled, flexing about his wrist tightly before he turned from the window and stormed out of the study.

The search party would arrive soon; he intended to be on hand to see them for himself.

Marietta had never felt comfortable in the mansion. Say true, the half-elf was hardly comfortable in Keken, which was what passed for a bustling metropolis in the Baronry of Hron. She was a forester, a ranger, and was far more at home in the wilderness of the Piege Forest than the halls of power. But the guildmaster had insisted, and so here she was.

It really was a lovely mansion, even Marietta could admit that. The baron’s residence was three stories tall, fronted by a grand veranda beneath a balcony with a commanding view over the market plaza where the forester stood. A vast garden, complete with a pool, garden, and hedge maze, sprawled behind it. Those features were hidden from sight as she walked up the slight hill towards the mansion, catching the strain of saw and hammer as carpenters continued work on the dwelling’s new wing. The addition seemed a touch extravagant to the half-elf. Baron Terex was a bachelor after all; it was hardly as though he needed the space.

Not that he was likely to ask Marietta’s opinion on the matter. Nor was she like to offer it. The half-elf was many things, but foolish was not one of them. Neither was talkative, and she took a deep breath as she stepped up onto the veranda. Lifting a hand - and eschewing the ornate brass knocker - she rapped her knuckles against the heavy oaken portal.

It was opened by a rather officious looking man of less than average height, and less than average hair coverage. Watery blue eyes squinted at the forester, brow wrinkling as they swept her top to bottom, taking in the cloak draped over her shoulders, the green tunic and mottled vest, the dark trousers and heavy boots. For a long moment the little man’s gaze lingered on the tall stave slung over the slender woman’s shoulder - rather than the sword at her side - and then he spoke in an aggrieved, rather nasal tone. “My Lord the Baron was told to expect Ranger Skylark.”

“The guildmaster sent me.” Marietta replied. Her voice was quiet, and carefully neutral.

“I can very well see that, girl,” the doorkeeper responded, managing a surprising amount of condescension on the last word. “But you’re not Ranger Skylark. My Lord the Baron asked the guildmaster to send his best.”

“The guildmaster sent me.” The half-elf repeated stoically.

“Said that already, lass. So much for best of the guild, eh?”

The forester reminded herself that unless she wanted to retire to the depths of the forest full-time - an option admittedly growing more attractive by the moment - she had to maintain her relations and status with the guild. She accepted the implied insult passively, though her blue eyes took on a flat chill. “I have no desire to keep the baron waiting.”

Sniffing disdainfully, the little man stepped back. “Be assured that the guild will hear of this.”

Pushing by the doorkeeper, the half-elf walked down the tiled hall beyond. “Tell them I kept my word.” Marietta ignored the muttered curse the official sent after her, though her sharp ears picked it up with no trouble. She had heard worse as a child. The ranger kept moving, down the hall to the double doors decorated with the baron’s coat of arms in gold leaf, a chopping axe and bandsaw crossed behind a rearing stallion. Those doors stood open now, disclosing the receiving room.

This chamber served as the baron’s court seat, a hall that dominated the majority of the first floor of the mansion. Decorated columns ran in double rank up the center of the room, dividing it into three relatively equal spaces. The floor was wood up to the last quarter farthest from the door, where polished marble took its place, running to the dais where the seat of judgement sat. Flanking the high seat to its right was a trio of lesser chairs, used by guests of the baron or visiting dignitaries when the court was in session. To the left of the aspiring throne was a long trestle table and bench, where scribes and advisors to the lord of the manor congregated to confer. A grand arching window framed the elevated stage, disclosing a view of the gardens directly behind the mansion, and a pair of fireplaces were arranged to either side of the great window, ready to keep the baron and his courtiers warm when the weather turned.

There were no other seats within the chamber, though Marietta knew that from time to time additional seating was brought out in deference to aged or infirm petitioners. She had the chamber to herself for the moment, but for a slender man with an egg bald head seated at the advisors’ table to the left of the baron’s seat. He was bent over a scroll and making careful, precise notes upon it. A stack of folders and other documents rested near at hand, likely awaiting their turn beneath the quill. Some sixth sense must have alerted him to the half-elf’s regard, for her silent entry had surely given the man no cause to note her presence. Nonetheless, he looked up, blinking owlishly at her from behind a pair of small spectacles perched before his brown eyes. “The forester… I was of the impression we were to be expecting Master Skylark.”

Marietta suppressed the sigh that threatened to well its way up, and repeated what was becoming an all too familiar refrain. “The guildmaster sent me.”

< Message edited by Kellehendros -- 4/10/2019 20:02:49 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 1
4/14/2019 19:41:44   

Ether-knight of DragonFable & EpicDuel

The wind grows cold. Not because the wind decided to be cold, but rather the night decided for it. A small fire pit smouldered, giving off the most subtle aura of heat. A baleful sky and moon, giving way to dawn. Just like the wanderer, an individual of baleful origins, giving way to the journey. As such, Yondrin followed the dawn to Keken.

The forest grows vile. Something lurks, clearing anything that it comes to. Dakorel wants it purged, so be it. When the forest grows vicious, the wildlife grows vicious as well, and that means danger comes when there should be none. Yondrin has a livelihood of moving and travelling, likely will simply be put to work somewhere else.

His footsteps, steady and heavy, plodded across the land as Keken in the horizon draws near. The sun drifting higher and higher, as the gates risen higher and higher. Yondrin tugged at his cloak, obscuring his face and skin, leaving his frame as the sole noticeable detail from a distance.

A group of travelers lined up at the entrance way. Merchants, travelers, bards. All the typical types to be in cities. Even with the cloak, Yondrin stood out in height. But he didn’t care, this was normal for him.

The line pushed forward.

A young human boy, with mother and father presumably, with a bright face of innocence darted his head around. Watching the occasional bird flying high above, eyes watching it until the boy’s sight came to Yondrin’s own gaze from underneath the hood. The boy, wide-eyed, quickly spun his head around to the other way, pretending the orc never existed. If you don’t see it, it can’t hurt you.

The line pushed forward.

As Yondrin approached the entrance guards, they prepared to speak the same tired and rehearsed words right as he produced a small writ, helped obtained by Dakorel. The guard, raising an eyebrow, looked over it. “I have professional business to conduct, if you will,” Yondrin spoke, with a low guttural coming from within.

“So be it, go along.” Yondrin then slipped the writ back into the darkness, before walking into the city that is Keken.

Home? No. There is no home.

As the morning sun approached noon, Yondrin swiftly pushed through the loud and varied crowds. Even if the slightest amount of attention was garnered from a folk, he kept walking, all to not draw all the more attention.

As he went through block after block after block, he took a sharp left towards a single story building, with plain woodwork and windows. He gave two hard knocks at the door, as in short time a rather clean but modest human man with short black hair with a slight scruffle, height nearly matching Yondrin cracks open the door. “Barkly, me, Yondrin.”

“Come inside quickly then, you oaf”, a mutter spun out of Barkly’s mouth. He moved away the door, leaving it unlock as Yondrin drifted inside, lowering his head slightly as well as pulling back his hood. The room itself had a round table with a couple chairs, with most light coming from the windows. “So, you got any news on what you heard of?”

“As in what’s happening in the forest? Pinewatch be gone. Somethin’ vile afoot.”

“Well, that’s unfortunate but I heard that,” Barkly said with a harsh rasp, drinking water at the table.

“Dakorel would tell such events to those of some importance.” Yondrin approached forward, coming down to one knee.

“Right right,” Barkly wiped his face. “Shipments are down and work is about to tumble.”

“You are least affected since you are merely the middle-man, keeping those such as myself in contact with the company.”

“True but without any of you, I don’t have work long-term. Not to mention I’m still the one who brings everything to storage.”

“Yes. So what’ll it be from here on out?”

“Well, needless to say, it’s time for volunteers to go out there and find what’s happening. Baron has a nice call to action. I’m confident it’s time for the company to do some… service, as to keep wonderful relations all nice and tidy.”

“Like it matters to me. I just work. I find new proper sites for them to work on and if so, keep out beasts and thugs from time to time.”

“Oh but now it does, for the poor orc that is you,” Barkly coughed and reached behind him to a cabinet, pulling out a small, fine-grained wood box, about the size of his hand, where he plopped it down onto the table. “Right. So. They want you to go out and make sure what’s happening, stops happening.”

“And… this box is my tool?” Yondrin gave a raised brow, disappointed that the seemingly necessary item is a box of unknown properties and items.

Barkly shrugged, not with a care in the world. “Like I know.” He tapped his fingers against the top a couple times, as the box itself had no handles or even any way to seemingly open it. “Apparently, they want you to have this, with the best advice that you’ll know when you need it. I’m not sure what the point of this is. I even banged it slightly. Seems pretty sturdy.”

“So be it. If they ask me to carry that, I must do as they say. Work is work.”

“You know, for someone who might be used as an expendable, you seem pretty chill, especially for an orc. I would think you be outright like an angry bull since this just seems ridiculous to me.”

“Would you complain when your life is already in the midst of danger?” Yondrin snorted, as he picked up the mysterious, cube box.

“I guess not, fitting for your life too I guess,” Barkly drank from his glass before continuing. “Oh and ahh, they also said to see the baron first before going out. You’ll have friends! Ain’t it exciting?”

“Right. Depending if they want a friend themselves.”

“Think positive. They might’ve never seen an orc. Especially with those tusks shaven off somewhat, they might think you as truly friendly with a heart of gold. Well, there is always the think negative.”

“It’s what it is. If they’re willing to work with me, that is fine. Not, that’s their choice.”

“Well, I guess I’m the best example of willing to work with you. So good luck. Don’t get mauled by like… a bear or something. That would be a rather boring end.”

“It would be.” Yondrin slid the box underneath his arm, placing his hood back of before walking out. To the baron then, just to make sure an entire unknown danger is put into a submission. Suppose they thought the big man of strength and experience of the forest would be the one for the task.

At about noon, he came to the three story tall mansion, extravagant for what it is. Did it look nice? Yes. But it meant nothing to him. Wealth is practically useless, when trade and resources is how he gains the supplies he needs. But it’s what it is for those in power. He repeated his standard hard knock against the oaken doors.

As the doors gave way, they gave sight to a man that Yondrin towered over, who quickly looked up, with no surprise to be had. “My Lord the Baron was given notice to someone of the Dakorel Company of less than common appearance,” the man boringly said. Yondrin stood stoically, making sure to not give even the slightest huff, less scare the man away.

“The Dakorel Company wants me to represent them in this expedition,” he plainly responded, with a truest amount of professional.

“Expectations are met. Met too precisely, for the Company to do this.”

“Rest assured, the Company does not allow mistakes to happen in who they hire for such important tasks,” Yondrin spoke up, without a growl or whisper to be had.

The man stepped to the side, allowing Yondrin to proceed forward. He strided along the hall to the main meeting point to see the Baron, with footsteps hardly silent, all to show he shall not hide right now for he now has a job to do.

As he to the chamber he expected to see the Baron. But there was no Baron. There was just a bald man with spectacles and a woman, with all the gear necessary to be out in the forest. Yondrin knows of Mr. Arthon, that was not out of the ordinary. The other? Hardly, just looks elven, looking at the ears. Could be one of ill-repute or an actual professional. Either way, he’s indeed not going at this alone. Not like he would mind it in the end. It’s time to get to work and do this with his usual brand professionalism.

Let’s get to it.
DF  Post #: 2
4/16/2019 9:31:35   

Karen pulled the door shut carefully and quietly. It was late, after all, and she didn’t want to be inconsiderate to the other guests at the inn. In a daze, she stumbled over to the bed and collapsed onto it, burying her face in the pillows. A long, exhausted sigh escaped her lips as she sank deeper into the soft mattress. The story she’d told that night had been a long, draining one. Recounting her legendary hunt of the elusive Scorpiac had been just as adrenaline filled as the hunt itself, which unfortunately meant it was just as tiring. She smiled as she remembered the joy her story brought the men at the bar. Everyone always loves hearing of the feats they can’t experience themselves. One of them had even gifted her something this time, a flyer of some sort. What had he said to her as he thrusted it into her hand?

“This, I’m sure, will interest you.”

Karen sat up with a start. She checked her right pocket. Nothing. Checked her left. Bingo. She had even had the mind to carefully fold the flyer despite all the chaos of the bar after her story. She unfolded it just as carefully now, taking note of the exceptional quality of the paper. Whoever made these hadn’t been cheap about it. It was a job request, calling for heroes and adventurers to the find the force behind a series of odd disappearances of people and places, including something called “The Pinewatch.” The reward would be favor of the Baron and a cut of, no that couldn’t be right… Karen blinked a bit and rubbed her eyes to ensure she was reading the request clearly. TEN THOUSAND SILVER!?! Karen wasn’t usually someone driven by monetary rewards, but this much coin could allow her to get all new hunting gear, and even sharpen her sword up. Where did it say the quest would bring them? Karen smiled as she read the location.

The heart of the Piege Forest. Karen had only been in Hron for a few days, yet even she had heard the rumors of the dangerous place. Filled with beasts, bandits, and mystery, folks whispered ghost stories of caravans and hunters never returning, lost to spirits or demons. Karen had always brushed those legends off, seeing them as simple tall tales meant to scare children and keep them in line. But right here in her hands was proof that someone high up, someone official, was facing similar circumstances to those same wives tales. The man who had given her this flyer had been right, this certainly did interest her. Not only was this an opportunity to explore the depths of Piege Forest and hunt exotic game, but she’d get paid extra for doing it! And imagine the stories she’d be able to tell after this… She could practically hear the cheers and laughter she’d be able to elicit. She took the flyer and pinned it to the door of her room with her skinning knife, taking care not to overly damage the door in the process. The next morning she’d wake and see the flyer again before leaving, guaranteeing that she wouldn’t miss her chance at something incredible.

Karen whistled an upbeat tune as she took a comfortable stroll up the hill towards the Baron’s mansion. Though never one for the ornate and gaudy, she was still impressed by just how extravagant the dwelling was. He was even adding an entire new wing to the place! Karen smiled as she imagined a huge crowd around her, fancy dressed nobles rushing into the mansion for a party. Oh the stories she could tell them! The adventures she’d had that would shock and excite the crowds of the aristocrats, always locked behind their rich doors and never experiencing the joy of the unknown! Perhaps she could ask the Baron if he was in need of a storyteller. But no, the simple sight of her scarred arms would likely be distasteful to such a fine company. The crowd around her vanished as her mind snapped back to reality. She approached the mansion doors, lifted the brass knocker, and rapped on the door in a melodic manner.

The door was opened by a short man, unflattering in appearance. The two stood there in silence for a moment as he seemed to appraise her. When his eyes traced the long scars on Karen’s arm, she fought the urge cover them.

These are trophies, she told herself. I don’t need to be ashamed of them.

Karen reached into her pocket and withdrew the flyer, then proceeded to break the silence. “”I’m here for-”

“The same reason as the previous two, I presume?”

Karen flinched slightly at his sudden interruption. She wasn’t used such rudeness. Hunters had a tendency to actually hold a two-sided conversation, and listen to others.. The doorman took her silence as a sign that he could continue freely.

“At least you seem a bit more fit for this job than the others are.” He stepped to the side. “Straight down this hall please.”

Karen followed his instructions, continuing down the corridor and passing through a set of double doors leading to what seemed to be a large, rather intimidating courtroom. She quickly took note of the current occupants of the room; an elven woman, bearing a massive bow unfitting for her slender form, and a second figure, standing tall with an air of professionalism and a large spear on his back. Karen’s hand drifted to her sheathed blade. Though it had never failed her before, she couldn’t help but feel she was under-armed when compared to the monstrous weapons her compatriots possessed.

Still, she refused to let it faze her. She was here for the same purpose they were, and she had the experience to back her up. Karen strode energetically to the center of the room and turned her gaze to the man sitting at a table to the left of the central seat of the court. As he was the only one that didn’t seem prepared for a grand adventure, she assumed he was the man in charge.

She channeled her energy into a deep bow, throwing in a flourish for good measure, and spoke clearly and without pause. “I am Karen Lane, an adventurer, hunter, and storyteller. How may I help you?”
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