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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   

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   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

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?”
Post #: 3
4/21/2019 16:12:29   

The world around him was gray like always. It didn’t matter to him if it was day or night, although he could tell that it was the latter due to the cool, crisp wind that swirled past, disturbing the vibrations emanating from him. His coal dark eyes stared sightlessly at his surroundings, his senses reaching out.

Salindrel perched in a tree near the city limits, watching as the guards marched back and forth on the city walls, a collection of white and black orbs passing each other. He stayed completely still, pushing out his vibrations towards the wall, probing for the rhythm of their march. When a gap was found, the elf took a leap from his perch, slipping between dimensions as he approached the wall. There might have been a barrier in his normal plane, but in the other there was nothing but gray. Having passed through the stones, he came back to the original world, dropping the few feet to land silently on the ground.

The city was generally quiet at this late of an hour, little pockets of activity existing throughout its underbelly. It was simple to avoid those places and sneak through the city, making his way towards the Baron’s mansion.

The Keepers have placed this investigation on my shoulders, he thought as he paused at the corner of a building across from the mansion. I cannot fail the charge they have laid on me. Piege Forest must be cleansed of whatever foul creatures inhabit it, freed of their taint.

Across the road stood two souls, both black as night, stark against the ever-present grey of his sight. He heard low voices echoing from the two orbs, but was not able to make out what it was they said. Calming his breath, he waited silently at his hiding spot until the conversation ended and the two figures retreated from sight.

Salindrel snuck across the road, keeping low, searching for a place to wait out the night. The trees of the mansion’s gardens were full of a song this night, beckoning him to come and rest within their branches. He found one in full bloom and hid within its welcoming embrace, joining the sounds of creation with a clear and vibrant voice, singing the songs of nature. He drifted into a trance within the boughs, awaiting a meeting that would come too soon.

As midday approached, Salindrel began to sense others arrive at the mansion. A white soul waited inside of the mansion doors, while a black one stood outside, guarding the door against intruders. The first to arrive was another white, then followed by a black and another white. This seemed like it might be a rather varied group. Years ago, Salindrel would have made snap judgments about the others he was to meet based on their color, but numerous betrayals had all but cured him of that particular proclivity.

Time to meet the others, he thought, hopping down from the tree and pushing himself through a crack between the worlds until he sensed that he was within the room beyond. Slipping back, he found a nearby spot against the wall and stood to observe the remainder of the arrivals, just in time to hear a proclamation made by one of the whites. Salindrel grinned for a second, then leaned back, watching and waiting.

< Message edited by superjars -- 4/21/2019 21:13:41 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 4
4/21/2019 18:47:44   

“Dorothy, Dorothy! Look what I found!”

Eleven-year-old Matthew burst through the door, sending sunlight streaming into the main room of the shop. Taking her eyes away from the older man she was conversing with, Dorothy gave the boy a playful, inquisitive glance. She was quick to notice his hands clasped behind his back, as if to hide a small object. “Give me a few seconds, Matthew, then you can show me what you brought back!”

The young boy plopped down onto a chair in the corner of the room, impatiently bouncing his leg. When Dorothy finally approached him and offered to help him up, he thrust a crumpled piece of paper into her hand. “It’s a call for an adventure!”

Uncrumpling the paper, Dorothy stared at it for a long moment before folding it up neatly and slipping it into her pocket. “You need to be at least fifteen to go on that kind of adventure, little one’” she teased, rustling his hair. “How about you take an adventure to Eliza’s house and ask her for a pint of goat’s milk? I’ve just run out.”

Dropping a few coins into his hand and whisking him on his way, Dorothy pretended not to be bothered by the notice. A need for adventurers, to hike deep into the forest and find the cause of recent disturbances. The new threat in the woods had been a frequent subject for conversation for the past fortnight, with many customers fearing they were no longer safe even in their own homes. Dorothy always tried to be a reassuring voice in such exchanges, but the constant exposure to this unease had started to wear on her. She had faith that the city would stay safe for a while yet, but there was no way to convince others of that. Soon, she feared, things would dissolve into chaos. Even some of her own employees (all within the ages of eleven and eighteen) were starting to get anxious, and even though they weren’t her own children, she still felt the need to protect them. They, of all people, she wanted safe.

And with this, Dorothy began to ponder an incredibly stupid idea.

Approaching the castle, Dorothy once again felt around her pockets to make sure she had everything she needed. Flasks, balls, bags… all there. And her handy dandy slingshot was tucked nicely into her belt. She knew she wouldn’t be much use in a direct confrontation with something, but she also assumed she wouldn’t be the only adventurer the Baron was sending. She’d let the experts do the physical fighting, if that became a need, and she’d be there to help them out. Besides, she had a few tricks up her own sleeve.

She had left the shop in the care of her eldest employee, an eighteen-year-old girl named Adamantina. Adamantina had grown into a promising alchemist herself, but that didn’t stop Dorothy from worrying about her as she glanced at the castle. She was a trustworthy girl, though. And Dorothy had already made up her mind. One last adventure.

The man at the door seemed very confused when he caught sight of her. Dorothy waved politely, hoping to elicit a smile out of the rather sour-looking fellow. “How are you today, young lad? Seems like a wonderful day for the adventure!”

The man blinked his eyes several times and shook his head. Dorothy thought she caught him muttering something about the flyers bringing some crazy people in. Shrugging, Dorothy made her way past him and into the audience hall, where she was greeted by a familiar face.

“Arthon! I was wondering if you’d be here!”
Post #: 5
4/22/2019 17:03:59   

The market plaza bustled with life and business as carts, wagons, and people saturated almost every free inch of the cobblestone. No matter which way one turned, one would find him or herself assailed by merchants shouting how their produce was both the freshest and most fairly priced in the whole market, or have their senses overwhelmed by whatever rich perfumes that had been plucked from some paradise across the burning deserts and traversed the perilous seas just to be sold at Hron for but a fraction of their actual value. Bargain deals from every vendor, each one insisting that they were being robbed at their prices but it was worth it for the denizens’ benefit. Any person passing through would have taken hours to navigate the market plaza.

Minus one dancer and the soldier accompanying her.

Shimmering shawl draped across bare shoulders, a merigold bodice stopping well short of her navel, and a skirt that reached her ankles yet had a slit on one side that went scandalously high all brought attention to the stranger in Hron. Not that the tiefling needed it - her coal and radiant skin were enough to do that on their own, not to mention the horns protruding from her head. Ember smiled as a nearby child pointed at her only to be quickly swept away by a mother who refused to raise her eyes in the dancer’s direction. The crowd gave way to a nice berth around the couple that strode through the center of the market plaza.

The soldier cleared his throat. Dear sweet Traston, Ember thought as she turned her face up to him, the small ruby dangling from the silver circlet upon her brow swinging with the motion. The young man’s face flushed as crimson as her skirt beneath the dancer’s gaze. Traston had barely reached manhood, and it was that combination of confidence and foolishness that made him the perfect target for Ember’s wiles. He had spoken up against his superiors to support the tiefling’s entrance into Hron, and even pledged his day free of obligations to escort the stranger through the city. The boy of a soldier had scarcely spoken two words since Ember had given him her arm before they entered the plaza. And with an awkward cough, Traston failed to break that streak as the two continued on.

Ember hid the sly grin from her brave, young soldier. Silence was a pleasure all too often squandered.

The rather impressive door opened to reveal a rather unimpressive man. Even though he had to look up at both Traston and Ember, he managed to look down his nose at them. “And how...may I be of service?”

“My lord, er, my grace, my...the Cinder Witch is here to answer the baron’s summons!” A clumsy thrust of the bulletin almost resulted in the boy punching the little man square in the nose. Ember examined her fingernails as the attendant tore the parchment from Traston’s grip and gave it a fleeting glance. The two descended into a rather one-sided conversation composed of many variations of the lowly guard wasting both his and, by extension the baron’s, time with such frivolous nonsense as the “whimseys of some upjumped, horned tart”.

Ember stretched her arms above her head as the scolding continued, fingers interlocked as her shawl shimmered scarlet and gold in the sunlight. She relaxed her shoulders, drawing her arms down in wide arcs to her sides. Chromatic flames trailed her fingertips, beginning with brightest sapphire at the crest before transitioning to luminant emeralds and terminating in deepest amethyst. The flames died as quickly as the conversation. “So,” Ember said as she strode forward in the sudden silence, “am I invited in or not?”

Ember swept into the chamber, her skirt and shawl billowing with her long strides. Ignoring the hard look from the balding man scribbling away at his parchment, the tiefling claimed a spot front and center of the absent baron’s seat. The dancer held her hands behind her back like any true lady of the court before giving a passing gaze over the motley group gathered. One figured standing off to the side caught her attention, hiding in plain sight with empty grey eyes casting judgement on those convened. Her lip curled at the corner of her mouth.

“Gentle-friend,” the sorceress called out to him. “Why don’t you come and join me? These lordly ones often keep us waiting, and a stranger like myself could use some company in this land.”

< Message edited by Apocalypse -- 4/23/2019 3:40:26 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 6
4/23/2019 16:27:36   
How We Roll Winner

Raithe took the somewhat torn piece of paper that the head guard was holding out to him and caring not for the condition of the medium, his emerald eyes started to scan through the rather copious amounts of content dotting the paper. The ghoul had always been a slow reader, not being from a particularly educated background but this was proving to be too much.

‘Hrmph….’ He grunted in discomfort, pressing his palm on his face right beneath the brim of his hat, as if massaging a headache.

‘So?’ The head guard stared at Raithe, a questioning look in his eyes. ‘Are you going?’

Raithe moved his hand and raised the sheet once again, this time closer to his face. It was clear to the guard that he was reading it once again, probably because he hadn’t understood it the first time.

‘Where is this place?’ He finally spoke, folding the sheet and stowing it in a pocket built into the inner lining of his jacket. ‘Where is… Hron?’

‘It’s a city not far from here. You can take one of the horses from Jen’s stable, I am sure she’ll be more than happy to lend one.’ The head guard answered after a sigh of relief. ‘I think you should rest a while though, this last catch was a big one.’

‘No time,’Raithe replied promptly as he picked up a heavy bag of coins kept on a nearby table and turned to exit the guard outpost. ‘This is the best lead I’ve had in months.’

There was nothing special about this city. Markets lined the streets, people moved about the roads and children played around every corner. The sound of laughter, chatter and gibberish all erupted into an all-too familiar cacophony that the mercenary was so used to hearing every time he ventured into a city of this size. The smells were vivid, bringing back memories of a time when Raithe’s band would sit on the front porch of any shop and munch on an assortment of savories to while away their time. That was all gone a long time now.

The best part about being in an unknown city was that no one recognized you and so no one gawked. The scarf on the ghoul’s face made sure to hide his otherworldly features and the leather jacket was akin to one any ordinary hunter would wear. As for his gear, he was wearing his daggers higher up on his back and under his jacket, well-hidden. However, despite all these precautions, his low-pitched, grating voice was a major problem in situations such as this.

‘Pardon me…’ He approached a man standing at a street corner, leaning against the wall doing nothing.

The man, seemingly in his mid 40’s turned his head to regard the ghoul, who had now lowered his head to let the brim of his hat cover his head.

‘I need to know…’ Raithe coughed a couple times to lead the man off, ‘... where the Baron lives.’

He coughed again, his head still lowered. The man inspected his hat for a moment.

‘Down the street, then take a left at the plaza and keep walking till you’re at the hill,’ he answered after a while. ‘You can’t miss his mansion.’

‘Thank… you,’ Raithe nodded his head awkwardly before turning to leave.

He had barely taken a couple steps before the same voice called out once again.

“Hey, you want a throat candy?”

Raithe ignored him and kept walking.

The mansion was quite similar to a few other mansions that the Raithe had seen on the many journeys he had made around his part of the land. It was three stories tall with a verandah and a balcony. Behind it was a garden, a pool and what looked like a hedge maze. To one side of the mansion, Raithe could see workers working on what looked like a new wing.

Walking up the hill, Raithe could feel a sense of peace creeping back into himself. The noise from the city was growing fainter with each step the mercenary took and the sound of tree leaves brushing against each other accompanied by the slight chirping of birds eased him bit by bit. He lowered his guard.

Walking up the front, he raised his hand to grab the knocker but stopped mid-air, instead reaching inside his jacket to pull out the folded piece of paper.

Immediately, the door burst open and at the doorway stood a man, rather unremarkable of appearance and standing at the same height as the ghoul. He had an irritable look in his eyes, his brows crinkled to show extreme dismay, as if he’d been doing this all day.
“You were expecting m… coughcougheeeeeecoughcough” Raithe started normally before the sound of his voice caused his precautionary habit to kick in and his sentence ended in a rather hilarious mix of squealing and coughing. Raithe kept hacking for the next couple of minutes.

The man wasn’t amused.

‘I am a clairvoyant, and a very powerful one at that.’ The man spoke. ‘And you are?”

Raithe swallowed a couple times before he held up the sheet, his head still bowed. ‘I am here for this.’

The other man sighed in exasperation and stood aside, opening the door wider to let Raithe pass through.

‘You know…’ Raith coughed as he walked in. ‘You could just tell me my shoes were noisy.’

The man muttered something under his breath that Raithe disregarded as he walked past two giant double doors into what was a massive hall with two sets of columns running down their full length. At the end of the hall was a raised dais with a collection of chairs, all of which were empty save one which was occupied by a bald man who was looking up at what Raithe presently came to notice was a group of people standing to his sides.

One of them was an elf carrying a huge bow, another seemed to be an orc of towering stature. Still another was some kind of an eldritch race of grey skin and markings upon it. This, the ghoul was yet to encounter. There were atleast two other humans in the room both of whom stood near the bald man on the dais. Lastly, there stood what seemed to be yet another elf next to the eldritch one, his skin dark and his eyes lifeless. This one had a certain unnerving effect on him.

Having noticed everyone, Raithe moved to one side, closer to the orc and the female elf with the bow.

This is all to get to her, Raithe thought to himself as he waited.
DF MQ AQW  Post #: 7
4/26/2019 16:36:51   

Salindrel could not ignore the call directed his way, dripping with sultriness, beckoning him forwards. He glanced towards the source of the voice, a black sphere hanging in space; too far for him to make them out. He reined in his magic and directed it at the source, the rest of the world falling away around him as a shapely figure emerged from the gray, his vibrations cascading off of curves and… horns? The faint scent of sulfur reached his nostrils, though it was tinged with charred kindling and a hint of something sweet that he couldn't quite recognize. In that instant, he could feel a feral rage pushing past his rational exterior, straining to work its way free.

“Begone, demon,” he muttered, the last word turning into something near a growl as he fought to contain himself. “Tempt me not, lest you incite violence you are ill-prepared to face.” He released his focus and let his pulses return to their prior rhythm, a staccato tenor to each tremor.

It took several moments to center himself, during which he wondered why a tiefling of all creatures would care to look into the calamities befalling the forest. He would not be the least surprised if her race was behind the damage in the first place.

Salindrel drew in a deep breath, letting it slowly out as he settled in to await the Baron’s instructions. If he was to work with creatures such as these, he would need to be in better control of his emotions.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 8
4/28/2019 23:36:54   
Eternal Wanderer

The bald man was known in Keken as Goodman Arthon - Marietta knew the man by sight from various functions and celebrations over the years, though it was obvious he had no idea who she was. A very forgivable lapse to be certain, given that he was both the baron’s factor and all-purpose organizer. He surely met many much more important, and memorable, people than her.

Whether or not he was truly a good man depended upon who was offering the critique, but Arthon was the face of the baron’s rule in Keken - unless Baron Terex chose to directly intervene in matters. So far as Marietta knew that was a rare occurrence, but she was hardly a common attendee of the Baronial Court. The Goodman returned to marking the papers before him without further questions, an arrangement that suited the half-elf just fine. Either he was saving his objections for later, or else he found her explanation, lacking though it was, to be sufficient. She sincerely hoped for the latter; there were things that she could not explain, not even to the baron, at the command of the guildmaster himself. Not without risking expulsion from the guild.

One of those facts - bearing rather heavily upon her presence here - was that Ranger Skylark was among the missing. Skylark was perhaps the most well-known member of Hron’s guild, a human man now moving from the later years of his life. He had made a name for himself hunting bandits in the Piege Forest as an initiate, particularly by managing the capture of a group of deep-forest brigands after his mentor and the other apprentices in his class were killed in an ambush on a training expedition. Famed for his sharp eyes and honeyed tongue - it had been said Skylark could sweet-talk his namesakes down from the trees - it was little wonder the baron had specifically requested Skylark to serve as guide for the expedition to Pinewatch.

But Skylark had trekked into Piege Forest four weeks ago, leaving behind a vague note for the guildmaster saying little more than that something was wrong in the forest, and that he was venturing beneath the trees to investigate it. For her part, Marietta had no idea if whatever was responsible for the vanishings at Pinewatch and other points in the forest was also to blame for the fact Skylark had not yet returned. The woods were vast, and many - most - of the stories told about it were strange. She herself had seen things there she did not care to dwell on, things that sometimes worked her into cold sweats in the middle watches of the night, when she would awake reaching for the hilt of her sword before she realized she was safe at home. Perhaps some other evil had befallen Skylark on his search, or perhaps the man simply had not found what he was looking for, and as such had not yet returned. It was not in the half-elf’s nature to be overly optimistic, but Skylark could manage the forest and its dangers, if anyone could. Marietta would not count the man as lost until a body or some other sign was found.

With Skylark unavailable to fill the baron’s request though, the guildmaster had offered the role as guide to perhaps half a dozen senior foresters. They had declined, to a one, offering increasingly weak excuses, until the aggravated guildmaster had all but ordered Marietta to take the job. She had not liked it. Who would have? The entire situation reeked of the unnatural, but the half-elf had never shirked an assignment, and someone had to guide whatever volunteers stepped forward to investigate these disturbing matters, particularly as the phenomenon grew larger and more dire.

On the subject of volunteers, the first was even now arriving. A representative of the Dakorel Company if she was not mistaken. Her keen blue eyes picked out the company’s distinctive logo - a stylized sawmill with the letters D and C worked in - stitched into his tunic. He was imposing, tall, and despite his shaved-down tusks, very clearly of orcish descent. A memory niggled at her for a moment before Marietta was able to take hold of it. Yondrin. They had met several years ago at some function or another. She doubted he would remember her. It had been a passing acquaintance and there were enough people in the city of elven descent that she did not stick out terribly. Yondrin certainly did though, and Marietta had always had a good memory. Orcs were not at all common in these parts; they were known mostly as marauders and highwaymen in the stories of war and woe from the kingdom’s more central baronies. She inclined her head to him slightly as he approached, but held her silence, as did Goodman Arthon on the dais.

Perhaps a minute later a woman entered, slender and clad in black garb that did not quite hide all of the scars that criss-crossed her limbs. There was a sword belted to her hip, and a smile on her face that Marietta found a trifle cocksure. The red-head strode into the room as if she was walking onto a stage, casting a fleeting, dark-eyed gaze at the half-elf and the orc before addressing herself to Arthon up on the platform.

The bald man glanced up from his work, as he had when Yondrin entered, and took in this latest arrival. His head bobbed in a fractional nod of greeting as he replied. “Welcome, Goodwoman Lane. The overarching details are in the postings you have no doubt seen. I would ask you to be patient, however, for there are no doubt others soon to arrive, the baron among them, and I think it would be best should we only have to go over everything once.”

If Lane made a response Marietta missed it, for she was distracted by the sound of someone shifting behind the gathering. She blinked, turning slightly to regard the man leaning against the wall. Tall and slender, with pointed ears sticking through dark hair, he was assuredly of elven descent. The forester’s eyes darted to the entry hall, a small frown turning down her lips. Perhaps full-elven. He had entered so silently. It had been a long time since someone had snuck up on Marietta unawares, and until the man had taken up his position at ease on the wall she had had no idea he was even there. That was unnerving enough, not to mention the oddly fixed way his eyes were focusing on nothing at all, as though he was staring far into the distance, or somehow looking through her.

It was almost a relief when an old woman came bustling in, clinking and clattering like a tinker’s toolbox as she did so. The half-elf blinked again, surprised by her recognition of the arrival. Dorothy Hausenbergerdorff was the proprietor of a modest apothecary in the upper market. But surely she was not…

Goodman Arthon seemed to share Marietta’s confusion, for at the old alchemist’s greeting he dropped his quill into the inkpot before him and frowned slightly. “Goodwoman Hausenbergerdorff, this is rather unexpected. Have you come to offer some of your wares to the expedition that will be headed to Pinewatch?”

Whatever her reply might be, an exotic arrival pulled the ranger’s attention away from the pair. Marietta tried not to stare, she truly did, but the woman who swept into the audience hall with all the assurance of a noble simply drew the eye. Her skin was black and grey, striated with faintly glowing lines like flame. Sleek horns curved up from her forehead, framing a fall of dark hair. Golden eyes, amused and assessing below those horns, swept over the group, perhaps pausing a moment as they met the half-elf’s gaze. Surely it was the ranger’s imagination, but the woman seemed to give a small flirt of her barbed tail as those golden orbs moved on, a teasing “caught you looking, but I don’t mind” wag that heated Marietta’s cheeks.

Could she truly be blamed for staring though? Darkspawn could interbreed with mortal races, this woman was testament to that fact. But it was perishingly rare. Such children were almost invariably killed at birth, and those who survived - called tieflings if they were lucky, and much worse things if they were not - were shrouded in tales of wretchedness and iniquity. If Yondrin suffered the slings and arrows of the majority’s disdain for his orcish heritage, this one must experience even sharper barbs of distrust and outright hate. For her to appear so publicly, much less in an outfit that nearly flaunted her heritage, was stunning.

Perhaps that, and the effort to recover from her embarrassment, was why Marietta was only peripherally aware of the next man to arrive. At least, it seemed to be a man. The hat upon his head and the bandit-like mask drawn up to cover his lower face made sure identification impossible.

She had little enough time to observe the figure, for the tiefling’s rather playful greeting was answered by the elven man leaning against the wall, with all the malice of one who had been wronged in the past by the darkspawn or their offspring.

“Peace,” Marietta was shocked at the sound of her own voice as she spoke up, sapphire eyes flitting from the horned woman to the pointed-eared man. “Peace,” she repeated, realizing that now that she had spoken up she was involved in this apparent spat whether or not she liked it, “please. There are grave matters to deal with, and beginning in foul temper will not help any of us.”

The forester bit her lip, ducking her head slightly to the tiefling. It might almost have been an apology; the woman certainly looked the type to be able to defend herself. Marietta felt her face heating up again, and silently wished she could pull her hood up and fade into invisibility after that little intervention. Being the center of attention was never much to her liking.
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 9
5/2/2019 21:40:24   

Each word spat by the elf dripped with venom, her innocent invitation met with violent opposition. The dancer’s suppressed a sigh even as the sun-kissed steadied himself with a long breath. To sully her name, no, her very heritage and then threaten her life...and in the baron’s own castle no less! Different stage, same game.. This outsider with cloudy eyes? Blind of mind, not sight. The elderly woman greeting the baron’s advisor? Whispered stories of her kind to scare the grandchildren. The hunter standing near the table - had Ember imagined it, or had she eyed the horns upon the tiefling’s head? The oddities of the orc and the scarfed stranger were her best bet, though if they were comfortable coming to the baron then perhaps they were uncomfortable with sharing their spot with other outsiders.

Ember stepped forward with her chin up and head held high, her skirt rippling with all the colors of the dawn. The grey-eyed one would have to do better than scare her with words alone. He had voiced dangerous thoughts, but had far more dangerous emotions running rampant. Wearing one’s heart - or rather, hate - on their sleeve was a rather perilous position when the blood that ran through it was boiling. The elf was ready to play with fire.

Made it all too easy for fire to play with him.

As the tiefling opened her mouth to speak, another voice interjected to broker for peace. The dancer’s gaze snapped to the source, an elven woman boasting a bow that seem beyond her capabilities. But as Ember drunk in her appearance, she disparaged the thought - the interloper was by no means large but gaunt and hardened, like a willow in the wind. The sorceress’ burning eyes met with the ranger’s stormy ones, and the corner of her lip curled into a coy smile. Was she flushing from being the center of attention, or because she too shared the same desires as Traston? The dancer gave a slight bow of her head to signal her gratitude. And while the issue would be dropped, the slight would not be forgotten.

The Cinder Witch turned back to the unseeing elf. With the air of one dismissing the insults of a child rather than the slurs of a hateful man, she responded. “Our gentle-friend is right, of course. And you might find reason to keep me close. For when things go bump in the night,” the tiefling flashed her teeth, her canines just a hair too long and sharp for comfort,” I bump back.” With a swirl of her skirt and flick of her tail, she turned away from the hateful elf and to the blushing one. The dancer strode toward her, each step like the wing-beat of a nightingale.

A few steps shy of the ranger, the tiefling stopped. "Thank you for calming matters," she said, taking a moment to curtsy before the elven woman. "Not many would. I am called Ember. Might I have the name of my champion?"

AQ DF MQ  Post #: 10
5/3/2019 2:41:30   

The Marshal flipped over to the next page and nodded before dropping the couriered report on top of the chaos that was his writing desk. Luca stood and watched from the opposite side of the mound of papers, a hand casually resting on Baellund’s pommel. The Marshal leaned back in his chair, contemplating their conversation and the report. The room was silent as Luca waited, broken only by the chirping and ruffling coming from the birdcage next to the table.

Luca’s superior pushed back his chair and stood, drawing himself up to his subordinate’s height. The budgie stopped preening itself, and gazed curiously at the two men.

“I believe I have sufficient reason to withdraw your suspension of duty. You may return to the front at your earliest convenience, General. I sincerely hope I won’t require another explanation from you after your next battle,” he said, his tone as calm as ever.

Another few silent moments passed before Luca’s reply echoed throughout the chamber. “Yes, Marshal.”

The Marshal nodded, satisfied. “Remember, our duty is to the interests of people, first and foremost.Our priority must be the welfare and safety of Alafael, even if that requires some difficult decisions.”

Luca knew what was coming. He’d heard it many times before. “I’m beginning to question if anyone knows the meaning of those words,” he interjected, keeping his tone even. “Is it really for the good of the kingdom if we are to just follow our orders blindly?”

“If orders are given to us by His Majesty, then our role is to simply execute them to the best of our ability. The king’s will is the will of the people.”

“So you say. But is the king’s will for the good of his people?” Luca folded his arms and waited, remaining expressionless as the Marshal considered him.The pet bird chirped and started preening its wings.

“Tread carefully, Luca. Is it our position to question His Majesty’s will, or does that role belong to someone else?” His superior asked, a hint of a smile on his lips.

Luca sighed in exasperation; an unusual sound from the normally patient commander. “No, Marshal. It is not our position.”

“Then who does that job fall to?”

He took a deep breath and recited a familiar, yet aggravating line. “‘The only ones who shall judge the actions of the king are the Gods or the Justiciars.’”

“Very good,” The Marshal smiled. “That will be all, General Forsythe.”

Luca lifted the mansion’s knocker and rapped the door twice before stepping back and quickly appraising his own appearance.

Back in Alafael, he would have had the luxury of choosing an appropriate outfit depending on his expected company. Since leaving, however, clothing options had become a little more limited. Hopefully it wouldn’t matter too much, though. As long as he didn't look like a homeless person, his appearance probably wouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Still, entering such an opulent estate wearing borderline casual clothing? Luca didn’t have much choice, but it still felt a bit strange. Hopefully there’d be some time to find a tailor after this job. Until then, he’d make do with a linen jacket.

The stately door opened, revealing the manor’s predictably lavish interior. The only thing ruining the sight was the short, squinting doorman barring his way. The general-turned-merc frowned internally as the entrykeeper inspected him. Was he going to get frisked?

Luca started to speak, but the custodian cut him off. “Obvious, what you’re here for. Straight down the hall, through the twin doors,” he said brusquely, allowing him entry. ”And careful not to break anything.”

The door keeper was looking pointedly at the greataxe in Luca’s right hand. Despite opting to forgo the armor, the mercenary hadn’t any qualms about bringing the greataxe along. It wasn’t that he was expecting trouble, but trouble did tend to turn up unexpectedly. Nowadays, bringing along the giant weapon was almost a habit.

A giant, inconvenient habit.

He missed Baellund. The greataxe might have a bit more reach and weight, but the negatives far outweighted the positive aspects. Baellund had been classy, balanced, Divine, and—most importantly—it’d had a sheath. It was a fair cop to say that spending time with the axe had skewed his priorities somewhat.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be careful. Unless you’re offering to take it off my hands?” Luca asked with a grin.

The smaller man scowled and jerked his head irritatedly towards the double doors, beckoning him through. That’s a no, then.

Hefting the massive axe to his shoulder, Luca strode into the residence, marching briskly to the open doors. As he neared the meeting chamber, the ex-general briefly wondered if there was somewhere for him to put the axe, or if he was going to be stuck awkwardly holding it for the entirety of the conference.

Voices reached his ears from the room ahead, stopping him a couple of paces before the doorway. Luca arched an eyebrow, then passed under the Baron’s crest, entering the chamber and half expecting to see the makings of a fight.

A hellspawn was making her way over towards an elvish woman, as another elf glowered at her from the wall. There was a woman standing in the middle of the room, facing a bald man sitting near the head of the table. The Baron's representative, perhaps.

A cloaked orc stood on the side of the room, with no less than four spears its person. Luca didn’t know exactly what to make of it. He’d fought many orcs before, but it was unusual to be this close to one that wasn’t immediately hostile. Considering what he had heard, Luca was surprised to see that it was completely unbothered by its surroundings. As a matter of fact, the orc looked pretty bored.

There were two others left in the room; a senior woman in her twilight years and a masked man with a hat on. A small, internal part of Luca relaxed, whilst another clucked its tongue in annoyance. Either etiquette wasn’t going to be a problem, or the masked man had no grasp of it. Possibly both. Probably both.

The general-turned-mercenary gave the slightest of nods, and stepped out of the doorway to the side. He shifted the axe off his shoulder, resting the haft against the timber floor.

< Message edited by Kooroo -- 9/8/2019 21:48:18 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 11
5/3/2019 16:29:48   

Control, however, proved elusive. Unbidden, a cacophony of venomous barbs rose in his mind, threatening to drown out rational thought with their vehemence. Soon, it was all that the normally quiet man could do to restrain his poison-filled tongue from muttering all manner of imprecations and insults, let alone quell the torrent of hatred seething below the surface.


His pulse quickened, accompanied by an almost deafening drumbeat in his ears. Though he could hear that the creature made some retort, he knew not what it said. And it hardly mattered, for whatever words were uttered were more than deserved. He was going to be of no use on this expedition if he could not retain his composure.

It took several moments longer for the tall figure to finally pull himself together, anchoring his mind around that single word, spoken by another. A person with a white soul, whose voice thrummed with a gentle power that pushed through his vile hatred.

And now it was obvious why Immeral had been so hesitant to send his apprentice on this particular mission. The siren’s call of wealth lured all sorts of adventurers. Salindrel was not here for that, however. His was a sacred duty, passed down by his master, and he would let nothing stop him from completing this task. Most of all, himself.

The elf took one last shaky breath, then straightened his form and set his face with a determined look before making a deep bow to the horned temptress, holding the demeaning posture for a few moments that felt an eternity. Then, freed from his penance, he walked to the fireplace at his right, turning his back to the group for the moment as he struggled to hide the slight flush touching his forehead and cheeks.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 12
5/4/2019 0:12:26   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

“Welcome, Goodwoman Lane. The overarching details are in the postings you have no doubt seen. I would ask you to be patient, however, for there are no doubt others soon to arrive, the baron among them, and I think it would be best should we only have to go over everything once.”

Karen bowed again, though more formally this time. “Of course of course. Pardon my haste, Goodman. I’m sure you have much work to prepare before addressing us, I’ll leave you to it.”

Karen stepped back from the platform as a remarkably old woman strode forward to take her place and addressed the man with familiarity and friendliness. Karen turned her gaze around the room, taking in those that had entered while she was conversing. There was a masked man off to one side, wearing a quite nice hat. He had taken a place near the orc and elf that had already been in the room. Masks weren’t uncommon among the hunter crowds Karen was used to, and she had even considered getting herself one. Her mind drifted to a story she enjoyed telling, a simple fairy tale about a boy losing himself to another identity within an enchanted mask. She wondered what this man’s mask meant to him. What was he hiding from the world with it? What was he hiding from himself? A mystery to be solved later in the adventure, Karen decided.

Two others had entered the room while Karen was preoccupied, one being a dark-skinned elf who seemed to be looking through the others in of room with lifeless eyes. Karen recognized his type from the way he seemed to shrink into the space around him, avoiding the attention of others. These types of people often appeared in the bars Karen performed in, standing off in a corner with a lonely drink, ignoring the efforts of the performers and the excitement of the atmosphere. It was not to her surprise that he was arguing with the second newcomer, who seemed to have called him out for his sulking attitude. Intrigued by the action, Karen examined the woman he was arguing with.

Her eyes first drifted to the sleek, curved horns that crowned the woman’s head. Karen’s attention stayed there for a bit too long as she considered how much those horns would sell for, then she quickly caught her own rudeness. The huntress had asked that exact question to a tiefling in a bar once, and while it was true that the right people would pay highly for the material, the tiefling kind were not simple monsters to be hunted. From her conversations Karen assumed this woman would be similar to the others Karen had met, suspicious of the world around her and the cruelties the masses tended to show. So it was with great glee that Karen realized the eldritch figure was not dressed in the robes of one avoiding attention, but rather one seeking it. The vibrant garb of a dancer adorned her, shimmering in the light of the room. Karen tried to catch the woman’s attention to flash an approving, welcoming smile, from one performer to another. Unfortunately, the dancer was busy conversing with the elven woman. If she did notice Karen’s act of goodwill, she didn’t give any indication.

A late entrant to the entourage caught Karen’s attention, and she turned to the door to watch his approach. He was tall, and carried himself with confidence and strength. He didn’t seem dressed properly for either an adventure or the lavish locale he was in, and he carried a large axe. What was it with this crowd and their great-weapons? Karen searched for a sheath on his casual clothing, but failed to find one. What was a man doing appearing with such a large weapon but forgoing armor? He stepped off to the side and set his axe on the floor. Karen approached him and extended a hand in greeting.

“Hey there! My name is Karen Lane, welcome to the show. What brought you here? And how do you carry that absurd axe?”

< Message edited by Chewy905 -- 5/5/2019 1:19:09 >
Post #: 13
5/6/2019 9:19:18   

“Goodwoman Hausenbergerdorff, this is rather unexpected. Have you come to offer some of your wares to the expedition that will be headed to Pinewatch?”

The old woman let out a small laugh. “Oh please dear, Dorothy is just fine. I’ve come to join the adventurers! I might not be a fighter, but I think I could be a powerful asset to your little team here. Besides, ” Dorothy gave a little wink, “I’ve been craving an excuse to get outside again.”

Arthon’s left eye seemed to twitch slightly. “D-D-Dorothy I must ask that you reconsider! A woman of your age has no place-”

But in the time it had taken him to stammer out an answer, Dorothy had already begun walking away.

What an interesting bunch the summons had brought in! As candidate after candidate strolled into the room announcing themselves, an unsettling feeling prodded at her mind, reminding her how out of her element she was. Everyone carried a weapon of some kind, while she only had a slingshot and a small knife. And everyone was younger than her. Well… with non-human races, it was hard to tell… but they seemed younger. More fit and able.

As Dorothy was taking everyone in, the sound of two angry voices drew her attention to one side of the room. The sight immediately made her jump back in fear, ready to turn tail and run as far away from the castle as possible. Standing less than halfway across the room was a demon of fire. Dark horns and tail clearly protruded from the humanoid body, clad only in a thin silk that glistened like still air during a scorching afternoon. This is it. We’re all going to die right here and now. But a female half-elf confronted the demon, and rather than draw her bow, she attempted to verbally diffuse the argument.

From there, it only took a few moments for adrenaline to subside, and Dorothy realized this must be a tiefling, not a demon. Dorothy had never seen one before, only heard stories from travelers passing through her shop. This was certainly not a good first impression. Already picking fights… and wearing such scandalous clothing! She should be ashamed of herself, flaunting her dark heritage in this suggestive and vulgar way.

Turning away from the tiefling in scorn, mixed with a slight embarrassment at her overreaction, Dorothy noticed a newcomer clad mostly in leather. His back was to her, but she could see that he seemed to be human, and relatively unthreatening compared to many of the party. In a quick glance she could spot no large axe, nor bow, as some of her other current options had. Eager to gain an ally in this mess of individuals, Dorothy strode over to him and lightly tapped him on the back of his shoulder and gave a small wave. “Hello, there! My name is Dorothy, I run a small potions shop in Keken. Who might you be!”
Post #: 14
5/6/2019 20:29:42   

Looking around, it was a tad strange that there were no other representatives of the Baron in the room. Not even a lone guard in case disorder were to erupt. Either the Baron was desperate, too trusting, or he was to provide the rest of the volunteers himself.

Or perhaps not. His head turned slightly, eyes shifting as a human woman strode into the room. Compared to him and the elven woman’s bow, this one looked to be packing light. She stopped at the center, bowed deeply, before declaring her presence. Storyteller? Did she want to tell magnificent stories but wanted to experience it all first hand? That was not exactly a common motivation. An interesting one, but not common.

Yondrin leaned his head to the side, before his eyes caught a glimpse of a new entry. A more peculiar elven man, who merely leaned back, waiting. At least he only looked peculiar, with those dead eyes of his.

Not long after, another person stepped inside, whereupon he cocked an eyebrow. A old woman? Perhaps guide or supplier? If she was a volunteer, it would be extremely odd for him to witness someone of such an old age to willingly put themselves into the center of danger. Apparently, she too knew of Arthon. Perhaps she wanted to pay respects to the Goodman. Hausenbergerdorff. With all of his time travelling and meeting exotic people, that was a mouthful of a name.

And then the next contestant of the hour, this time one belong to a race he was not familiar with. Horns, tail, grey and black skin. She did not seem to hide anything. With all her otherworldly aspects, the woman could’ve been a darkspawn. Yet she could not be one. Surely it was suicide for one to just waltz right in a baron’s household. Even the pathfinder at least had the icon of the company to keep guards from leaping on top of him.

She called out to the elven man, asking him to come and join. For what Yondrin cared, that could just mean idle chit-chat instead of the more suggestive kind. He heard yet another come inside, this time actually stopping close to him and the elven woman. He took a quick glance to see a man with part of his face covered. Looked intriguing, though compared to everyone else, he was practically normal.

“Peace, peace”, the elven woman spoke out. Peace for what? Yondrin followed her line of sight, showing it was directed to the horned woman and elven man, where something heated came underway. However, the plea did not seem born out of confidence, considering how she lowered her head and all. For what it was, what was done was done. If he spoke up instead, it would have been out of necessity without any sign of doubt.

The horned woman responded, whose speech begot all manner of confidence towards the elven man. After that, she approached the elven woman, the otherworldy one's walk an art form in itself. Hopefully the lass was prepared to skew that in case the nature of the forest was to come and bite. There was no point in elegancy in the frontier, a trait only useful in social settings.

After a moment, a newcomer came into the room. This time, a man merely with a tunic, jacket and large axe. For every conceivable reason, he might be the most normal of this entire group. He shifted his axe, allowing the end to rest against the floor, as Karen stepped up to him and asked him what brought him here. Valid question, it is good what to expect from anyone. No surprises means no distractions.

She also asked how he could carry an axe such as that. Semi-valid, for it only seemed natural to him to carry such a weapon. It was not unusual for anyone to carry relatively large weapons. The spear Yondrin carried was shorter than many pikes, yet it still allowed a significant amount of force behind it. That said, many would eschew such armaments for ease of travel. Of course, even if no one in the group was setting out for war, what was likely in the forest was no mere infestation of wildlife.

He scratched his chin, looking towards the masked man once more. Not a single person inside the room hid any surface detail about them, except him. The unknown was dangerous, hence why the Baron called for volunteers to begin with. Surely this man knew better. Why did he chose to obscure his face? Perhaps he was a wanted man, and was merely joining for profit. That would be warranted, however it still gave room for him to betray the group. With a slight guttural undertone, he quietly spoke to the obscured man. “You’re drawing eyes with your get-up. It would be prudent for everyone to make sure that you are not some wanted criminal, or if you are, that you are willing to stick to the group.”

He snorted a tad. “Could care less what you would do. Just can’t rely on the others to not be more outwardly hostile. Some are driven by vengeance after all.” He pressed his hand against his own neck, causing an audible crack. He didn't care though. He could just stab the man in case he did anything funny. Others however? Rather not have distractions birthed from suspicion.

Right after, Hausenbergerdorff came up to the man. Asked who he was, so it was time to see if he would take the comment to heart. Though her actual first name was Dorothy and she ran a local potion shop. Suppose that was why she was here to begin with. Not to mention the name Dorothy was far easier to say than… whatever strange concoction of a last name she has.
DF  Post #: 15
5/8/2019 12:38:00   

Luca had barely set his axe on the floor before the woman in the center of the room made her way over. She introduced herself and extended a hand in greeting.

“A pleasure, Miss Lane,” he smiled, shaking her hand firmly. “My name is Luca, and I suppose my reason is the same as anyone else’s. Fame, fortune. Perhaps a little bit of glory?”

He was lying, of course. Luca had no interest in any of what he had just said. Fame had once been a point of discussion many times, and never had the talks ever been directed around his or his sister’s career. And wealth had never been an issue in the past. It was true that he didn’t exactly have any access to his funds—nor would the banks in Keken have any information about his account—but Luca felt that he had ample finances to live off.

And as for glory…
Ha. Once upon a time, perhaps.

A general of Alafael had no time to entertain such a notion as glory. A lesson that he had learnt a bit late, but he had remembered all the same. Ever since that day, Luca had always fought for the safety and prosperity of Alafael. Fighting in a distant land such as Hron was not something that he had ever envisioned, even in his numerous, medicated hospital stays. Hopefully, he’d be able to make it back home eventually. Some day.
And that... That is why I’m here.

Luca levered the axe forward.
“And I carry this cumbersome thing with great care. A hint given to me by our cheerful friend that’s minding the door. So what of you, Miss Lane?”

She laughed, her voice filled with earnest joy. “Yes the doorman did seem like quite the character didn’t he? And as for me… well I’m here less for fame or fortune and more for the experience. The beasts I’ll get to hunt and the stories I’ll have to tell afterwards, these are what drive me. Do you, perhaps, have any stories to share, Sir Luca?

The former commander tapped his chin in thought. Luca certainly had tales to share from his time on the field. He was definitely one of the more ‘hands-on’ commanders out of the bunch. The two problems were that the stories would almost certainly sound like myths from a child’s storybook or a more coherent drunkard at a bar. Wielding a God-blessed weapon tended to make tall, brow-raising tales into short and succinct reports. Sometimes in triplicate.

The other problem was their current company.

“Certainly, I have many a tale to share. However,” he trailed off, his eyes shifting to the orc and the black-skinned hellspawn, “it might not go to well with some of the other guests.”

The huntress seemed disappointed. “If you believe that’s the case then I won’t pry. But maybe one night out on the hunt, after the group’s gotten a little more acquaintanced with each other...” Her eyes quickly shifted to the dead-eyed elf and the demon, then back again. “Well, I hope to hear a few of those tales. You can’t be a glory-seeker without picking up many an exciting legend.” She gave a friendly wink, to which Luca responded with a grateful smile and nod.

“There are a few that might be deemed less offensive to our guests, but I’m sure there will be a time and a place for that eventually. So where do you hail from, Miss Lane?” Luca glanced to the other side of chamber, then back to Karen. The old woman and orc had moved towards the masked man, who hadn’t moved from his spot.

Karen waved aside the question. “I travel so much that where I’m from has hardly mattered to me anymore. There was nothing for me there, so I left. I much prefer it this way, anyways. There’s so much world for us to explore, might as well embrace it all!” She glanced around the room quickly, taking in each individual present. “I think you may be the final arrival, perhaps Goodman Arthon will explain the details of our task soon. I look forward to working with you, Sir Luca!”

“Likewise, Miss Lane.” Luca responded, turning his attention to the head of the table. It looked like he was going to have at least one relatively normal ally in the group.

< Message edited by Kooroo -- 9/6/2019 7:25:51 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 16
5/8/2019 22:34:25   
Eternal Wanderer

Well, it certainly could have been worse. Marietta let out a slow breath as the tiefling woman accepted her assistance. Genuine relief coursed through the half-elf a moment later as the man with the disconcerting gaze seemed to set the matter aside - at least for the moment. Unfortunately, the ranger was rather certain that the two would bear close watching, should both embark upon this expedition. Each might be willing to let the issue rest for now, but travelling in a party left little room for privacy, much less out and out avoidance of another member of the group. Soon or late, the friction between the two would reignite.

Marietta resigned herself to playing peacekeeper, should it become necessary.

Those thoughts were banished from her mind a moment later as the dark-skinned enchantress turned in a swirl of tail and skirt to sashay in her direction.

She must be a dancer.

The thought leapt unbidden to the forefront of Marietta’s mind. No one could be so good at just… walking. There was a poise to the tiefling, a grace that drew the eye as surely - more surely in the half-elf’s case - as the daring cut of her garments and deliberate flaunting of the exotic beauty of her heritage. Distantly, the ranger wondered if all tieflings were so… striking. It might go some way towards explaining some of the stories that were told of them.

Maybe this is how others see you, in the forest. That was a jarring idea, bursting across the ranger’s consciousness like the sun emerging from a cloud. Yet, it had a certain rightness to it. Marietta had always been more at home in the wild places, moving with quiet assurance through brush and undergrowth. Perhaps her admiration - and she had to honestly admit to herself it was admiration - for the tiefling’s surety in her movement, her effortless occupation of this refined space, was all a matter of feeling at home in a place that made the forester uncomfortable in the extreme.

And then the dancer was before her, dropping into a pretty, perfect curtsy with a smile that managed to be appealing despite canines a hair too long to be normal. Marietta returned the civility with a respectful bow, which was probably not correct for her gender but was natural for her profession. For some reason her mouth felt dry and her stomach light, but she answered with a voice that was steady enough, pitching her tone lower to keep the conversation private as the others turned to their own occupations, now that the tension in the room had subsided. “Marietta. Marietta Drevosa.” She could not quite keep the blush from her cheeks at Ember’s compliment, though she desperately wished she could. “As for that, I am a ranger in the barony’s employ, my lady. Not much of a champion.”

“Marietta Drevosa,” Ember repeated, her tail swishing to the rhythm as she sampled the forester’s name. Indeed, while the dancer stood still with her hands clasped before her in courtly fashion, the spade flicked back and forth to an unheard tempo. Gentle enough to not warrant attention, but enough to be noticed by the astute eye. “A name like that belongs in song.” Eyes of cinder watched as the elven woman managed to flush even further, enticing lips curled into a smile beneath her warming gaze.

For a moment the forester was silent, and then the words seemed to plunge out of their own accord. “I have never met a tiefling, but I am sorry for how you have been treated. You are… very different than I expected.”

“Oh, I would hope so.” A touch of concern appeared on her face, vanishing just as quickly. “Stories of my kind have been far from flattering.” Ember inched her head forward and lowered her voice to a whisper, the vibrant scarf falling around her arms to leave the shoulders bare. “I do hope to prove them wrong.” One beaming eye flickered as the dancer winked. “Care to help me get that chance?”

Marietta was very certain that she was staring. It was probably rude, and yet there was something about the tiefling, perhaps the strange magnetism of her manner, that made the half-elf certain Ember did not mind in the least. It was there in the wink, in the small, seemingly careless - but probably entirely intentional - flicks of her spaded tail. It was certainly there in the dancer’s own attention, the way her exotic eyes focused on Marietta as though every word she said was of great interest. At last and least, it made this the most interesting meeting the ranger had had today, and she could not help the slightly conspiratorial smile that crossed her own lips in answer to the horned woman’s question. “It would be my pleasure, Ember, and I think it will be… an enlightening experience.”

“Enlightening indeed.” Ember looked down to her clasped hands, where a golden glow slipped through the cracks between her fingers. Her eyes flicked back to Marietta as she opened her palms to reveal a burning butterfly, body bright as butterscotch adorned with wings of swaying shades. Cyan streaks danced along the edges while luminous pools of juniper and orchid swirled in the center of each wing. A gentle shiver of the sorceress’ fingers sent the fiery creation to flight. It dropped before rising, wisps of chromatic colors trailing in its wake as it flew up level with Marietta’s face, the colors striating into coral pink shades with each beat of its wings. “My people may walk in the dark, but I do hope to light our way.”

Sapphire eyes widened at the birth of the prismatic butterfly. Marietta could not stop a quiet gasp of wonder as the ephemeral thing took flight, beating gentle heat across the forester’s face as the blazing form fluttered towards her with wings of shifting hue. “Ember it… that’s beautiful...”

Boots tramped on the wooden floor, interrupting the ranger’s enchantment with the construct of fire. The butterfly came apart like a tapestry, unraveling in swirls of brightly colored flame. For a moment, Marietta could have sworn there was something like regret on Ember’s face, or perhaps it was only the swift assessment of those who have just scraped by one too many times. It certainly was not her imagination when those exotic eyes met hers and the tiefling whispered, “but dangerous.”

There was no time for more. The baron had arrived, accompanied by a half-dozen soldiers carrying crossbows and wearing leather vests blazoned with the lord’s coat of arms. Halting just inside the door, Baron Terex raked his hazel gaze over the assembled, lingering for a long and silent moment on each, particularly the tiefling. Somewhat shorter than average, with close-cropped dark hair greying at the temples, the lord was not a particularly fearsome sight. Then again, perhaps he did not need to be, given the armed guards at his back.

The baron’s lips compressed into a thin line, and he all but stormed forward, bootheels striking the planks with nigh furious reports as he passed through the small crowd, escort in tow. Gaining the dais, Baron Terex’s gaze snapped to Arthon as one hand lifted vaguely towards the group. “This?” His voice was tinged with fury. “This is what you have brought me?”

“My Lord,” the Goodman began, or attempted to, only to be cut off by the noble.

“Adventurers, you said.” He pointed to Raithe. “A man in a scarf and hat indoors. I call that a bandit.” The accusatory finger swept to Dorothy. “An old woman. Surely you are in jest.” His eyes swept over to Marietta. “And this one, from the guild by her cloak and vest. I ordered the guildmaster to send his best. To send Skylark! But should that not be enough…” Baron Terex turned, dropping into his throne-like chair with a malevolent glare directed at Ember. “A darkspawn here, in my receiving hall.”

With a disgusted wave of his hand, the baron cast his eyes to Yondrin. “We recognize you, Yondrin of Dakorel. You have our apologies for this, deserved though it is. We are grateful to the Company for their support in these trying times.”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 17
5/9/2019 13:48:49   
How We Roll Winner

A commotion had erupted in the hall as Raithe shuffled nearer to the orc and the elf. This in turn caused the cursed one to turn his head and regard the participants of the altercation.

Much to his surprise, it was the horned girl of ashen skin against the one with lifeless eyes. Raithe had his reservations concerning these two from the moment he had set foot into this hall and he knew not whether it stemmed from the fact that he hadn’t much knowledge about these races or something else.

These two seem to hold nothing back, Raithe mused turning back to look at the dais in the far end of the hall. A certain discomfort crept over him as the perpetrator’s angry remarks were met in kind by what was clearly a threat from the ashen one’s side. Raithe didn’t turn to look this time instead relying on his ears.

He just hoped they wouldn’t burst into whatever strange magicks they knew and turn everyone present into toads… or worse.


The ghoul jerked his head up, this time to look at the elf with the bow, for she was the one to interject. Sensible one.

She again repeated the word before she broke into a short commentary of why it was important that everyone maintain their composure before such an undertaking as this. Raithe silently agreed with her and the irritation welling up inside him started to die down. Deciding then that he would approach the elf and thank her for calming the situation-for they were indeed calm now- he started to step forward.

“You’re drawing eyes with your get-up.”

A towering figure had now addressed what was clearly the ghoul for there was no one else in his immediate vicinity. His voice had a sort of guttural quality to it and that strangely reassured Raithe who had now frozen mid-step, his head cocked to the left, eyes still locked on the elf. He regained himself and turned to regard the orc.

“It would be prudent for everyone to make sure that you are not some wanted criminal, or if you are, that you are willing to stick to the group.”

Raithe waited for the orc to finish his piece. It wasn’t the first time that someone had pointed out Raithe’s looks or how he aroused suspicion in certain gatherings, no matter whether they were formal or informal. What worried him was such remarks usually led directly into a fist coming in from his left aimed straight at his face.

The orc’s snort broke the ghoul out of his fantasies as he went on. “Could care less what you would do. Just can’t rely on the others to not be more outwardly hostile. Some are driven by vengeance after all.”

This one was clearly getting at something, maybe trying to get a response out of him. For a moment, Raithe considered keeping up his fake cough act to seem less suspicious but for some reason, he didn’t want to seem too human in this encounter. As it was, his addressor had the height advantage and an imposing build to match. His appearance was not unlike anything Raithe had seen during his travels or otherwise, the tusks and the skin color being the only striking features.

‘Yes, it is nice to meet you too,” Raithe began, his words clear and without any hesitation and his voice betraying any semblance of humanity as the ghoul wasn’t trying to hide anything, save his face. ‘I am sorry if my get-up resembles that of a common bandit, it is not my intention to seem like one.’

He slowly started to raise his head to look the orc in the eye.

‘I would however like it if you were to shrug it off as a mere act on my part for you would not like-’

His eyes were now looking straight up at the orc’s, not even the rim of his hat getting in the way.

‘-what you see.’

He paused, his eyes blank as he maintained the glare before he realized that his face was close enough for one to make out his features and he hurriedly lowered his head and backed away, adjusting his scarf.

‘I assure you my intentions in this undertaking are quite aligned with that of yours and that I too want to find out the cause for this widespread excitement. Now if you would excuse me.’

He moved to step past the orc when a light tap on his shoulder caused him to stop and look around.

It was clearly an old woman. Raithe presently recalled seeing her from when he first entered the hall. She stood near the dais but he had signed her off as being a help. She was now standing in front of him waving in his face.

“Hello, there! My name is Dorothy, I run a small potions shop in Keken. Who might you be!”

‘You are,’ Raithe started, confusion written all across his face or what was visible of it, ‘an old woman…’

He sized her up.

‘... wearing leather?’

In the past few minutes, Raithe had botched up two different introductions. Though in his own defence, the first one was more of a provocation and this one had just turned awkward. There was an old woman standing in front of him dressed from top to bottom in leather.

Raithe came to shortly, looking across the room at the elf who was now in conversation with the ashen one with the horns, the one that made Raithe uncomfortable. Curses!

Looking to the other side of the room, the Ghoul saw a newcomer who might have entered the room as he was talking to the orc. This one seemed mostly normal dressed in a linen jacket except for the great axe which he had just rested against the ground. This alone made him seem all the more imposing standing alone in the hall.

Pondering over the man's choice of weaponry, Raithe presently came to himself and realized that he had been ignoring the old woman for a good couple of minutes. With a last fleeting glance at the newcomer, Raithe adjusted his hat and continued, hoping the lady would disregard his earlier comment.

‘H-Hello, I am called Raithe. I am a bounty hunter operating out of a different area. New here.’
He paused, his eyes avoiding the lady’s as a myriad of thoughts passed through his cursed head. Abruptly, he started again.

‘So, are you… part… of this?’

He gestured with his hand to the people gathered around them.

He would’ve went on had the steadily rising sound of boots not broken his flow. Turning to look at the source, his gaze was met with a group of soldiers armed with crossbows wearing leather adorned with what could be some sort of coat of arms. They stopped just as they entered the hall and a lone man stood out, his eyes sweeping over the assembled individuals, lingering on each for some time before he once again continued his march, the soldiers in tow.

Reaching the dais, he climbed it and gestured to the group.

“This? This is what you have brought me?” He was clearly very angry, his eyes fixed on the bald man who was already on the dais since the beginning.

The bald one attempted to speak something before the other one interrupted him rather rudely.

“Adventurers, you said.” He pointed to Raithe. “A man in a scarf and hat indoors. I call that a bandit.”

Now that was uncalled for but Raithe let it pass as this is not why he came here and there had already been enough excitement in that hall for one day. The man went on, commenting on a select few before he dropped into his throne, still muttering.

This day was about to get a lot more tiresome than the cursed one had anticipated.

< Message edited by Arthur -- 5/11/2019 8:30:24 >
DF MQ AQW  Post #: 18
5/15/2019 3:02:34   

What’s the man babbling about when he said that the pathfinder wouldn't like what he’ll see? Did some affliction torn asunder his face? Just say it outright, and stay some distance away if it’s contagious. The covered individual’s introduction with Dorothy was all the more pitiful. Hopefully this strange man can adapt to the group quickly, otherwise he’ll just be seen as merely clueless.

Before this bizarre display can be more distracting, the baron and his retinue have arrived, latter armed for a fight. As the baron observed his audience, Yondrin straightened up, hands behind his back. His eyes dare not observe the others any longer. The idea that the baron would be overjoyed with the composition of the group is almost foolhardy.

One by one, each individual motioned towards was scrutinized, harshly. The pathfinder breathed slowly, chin raised. Bandit, old woman, darkspawn. He kept his eyes focused, for this came as no surprise in the end. Swiftly, the baron’s attention came to him, judgment coming down to the orc. Recognized, by name and company. He was apologized to, but was it legitimate? In the end, the pathfinder was an orc, merely enjoying the protection of working under Dakorel.

Yondrin took a step forward, mildly bowing to the Baron. “Apology accepted, my lord baron. It’s merely part of the job, or should I say, duty in this case. Dakorel couldn't possibly standby in these trying times.” As the pathfinder spoke, he pressed his hand against his chest, suppressing any guttural undertones. “As such, I am here to support this expedition, and in turn you.” His sight hovered to the rest. In the end, the more the merrier, couldn't hurt. “If I may, many here came on their own accord. Perhaps if their talents could be heard, it could provide insight on the strength of this group. Am deathly curious on what they can try to propose on what they can do.” The orc took a step back, heart not skipping. “Though, it is your choice and judgment, my lord baron. If you like to elaborate on the details now, then go on. My ears are yours.”

Not his job to say make sure the baron takes everyone in. That is on them. He wasn't being paid by the baron, rather the company. However, even the pathfinder knew that it would be stupid to not have others with him, if there is more to this mystery. The only thing he would demand is if they're able to provide for themselves. That said, there was little hope for Dorothy and the darkspawn, unless they give a passionate defense for themselves. Yondrin was certainly not going to stand between that debacle.
DF  Post #: 19
5/16/2019 20:08:40   

A jest. Was that really what she looked like? Too old to even consider the possibility of a task like this one?

It was true that she hadn’t traveled into the forest in a very long time. But to be openly insulted in this way… considered with almost the same respect as the darkspawn. Right after being completely ignored by that leather moron. The combination of the two made her blood boil. An old woman wearing leather?? YES! Good eyes, you dolt. We’re matching. Kids these days…

Well, fine. If the baron didn’t think she was worth anything, she was going to show him otherwise. She could hear the orc speaking to him, something about letting people prove their worth. He was the only one pointed out respectfully in the baron’s scummy entrance speech, and yet, he was defending those who had been looked down on. Giving them a chance. She made a mental note to thank the orc later, and detached a small glass vial from her belt. It felt cold to the touch, and seemed filled with snow. With a quick flick of the wrist, she hurled it into the ground, about ten feet from the baron, and it shattered.

Ice quickly spread from the source, decorating the floor around it with sharp, glistening icicles. The last one sprung up less than a foot away from the baron. That should catch his attention…

“I assure you, my lord, I make no jests.” Dorothy spoke in a loud, harsh voice normally used for scolding her children. “Inside my coat is an arsenal of important and dangerous potions of my own creation. Only I know how to make them, and only I know how to properly use them. Any other careless soul throwing that potion could have very well hit you, freezing you right where you stood, and yet, I knew exactly where it would reach. I may not look like much, but my skills and knowledge will be essential on this trip.”

Post #: 20
5/18/2019 22:33:40   

Hate. Whether born of ignorance or malevolence, Baron Terex held no qualms of displaying his utter disgust with the tiefling who had answered his summons. Ember took a deep breath and closed her eyes. In the black, she saw the baron’s expression plastered across a myriad of faces - farmers and innkeepers, noblemen and retainers, robbers and thieves. The same disdain and discomfort she had faced a hundred times before, though never quite as grievous as a baron in his own home. The fact that the tiefling’s mere presence was an insult to him would make this dealing far more complicated than if she only had to garner his trust. Too submissive would have her cast aside - too assertive could land her neck on the chopping block.

The sorceress opened her eyes as the orc spoke in response to the baron’s acknowledgment...and then made an appeal on behalf of those gathered today. Ember held back her brief surprise; in her own experience, those who had warmed up to the powerful were often frugal when it came to sharing the spot by the fire with others. Perhaps this orc representing the Dakorel Company remembered his roots. Or perhaps this ‘Yondrin’ was just not eager to be sent into the forest on his own.

Whatever calming effect the orc had was sure to be undone by the “old woman”. As the crone reached into her coat, Ember took a calculated step back. Not that she had needed to - the ice blooming from the flung vial stopped well short of where the dancer had been standing. Frozen thorns erupted from the sudden tundra, harming no one but nonetheless showcasing the dangers of both the concoction and the elder wielding them. In a move somehow even brasher than unleashing a hazardous explosion within the baron’s halls, the crone emasculated her lord, ridiculing his decision to dismiss her based on age alone. The half-dozen crossbows did little to dissuade the brazen one from her course of action. An elder used to getting what she wanted or one who had abandoned fear of consequences long ago.

Soft and strong. Leaves me to take the middle road.

“My lord,” Ember spoke up as she strode forwards, her confidence weighing every step. “We are perhaps not what you were expecting,” ice crunched beneath her foot,” but every job needs the right tool. And should not a strange mission require an equally strange tool?” One would swear that the dancer floated across the frozen floor, her grace delivering the stranger from the glacial jaws beneath her. The crossbows shifted from the crone to the approaching sorceress. The only thing between her and a swift end was the halting hand of the baron. Such a common gesture, and yet it held the power of life and death. Bold, not brash. “You see a bandit? I see a survivor. An old woman? A wisened alchemist.” With a sweeping motion, the sleeves of her dress waving like a tapestry in the wind, Ember gestured to Marietta. “You asked the guildmaster to send his best - how do you know she is not? The seasons change, the tides turn, and the young replace the old. As for myself,” the sorceress gripped the ends of her skirt, and curtsied before the baron. Golden flames coalesced themselves into her hands at the apex. Then, Ember relinquished hold of her dress and dropped to a knee before placing her radiant palms upon the ice and stone. Blaze sparked and frost hissed as the conflagration streaked forward in violent yet controlled bars. Those level on the ground would have difficulty discerning the pattern, but one with an elevated view would perceive the mosaic butterfly burning across the chamber floor. As Ember rose to her feet, the fire flared an ardent azure, increasing in intensity before vanishing all together with the folding of the Cinder Witch’s hands. The luminant striations across her right bicep were gone, replaced by an ashen-grey and a chronic pain that the tiefling hid. Though this was likely unnoticed as more attention was sure to be given to the banishment of the tundra.

Eyes of coal opened to gaze at the baron, bearing no hint of malice or ill intent. “You may not like my aid, but sometimes a controlled burn is needed to quell the wildfire.

Sometimes you must take the hand of the tiefling to cut off that of a demon.”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 21
5/21/2019 22:53:58   
Eternal Wanderer

This could be going better.

For her part, Marietta cared very little what the baron thought of her. She was used to being dismissed, and passing beneath the notice of the powerful was hardly the worst fate she could imagine. But for the others… A sting of annoyance pierced her at the man’s swift and callous condemnation of Ember, who had traveled far through lands unwelcoming to offer her help. The ranger’s hands curled into fists at her sides.

Seated upon his throne, Baron Terex’s lips thinned as the orc made his reply. Perhaps the lord found Yondrin’s disagreement - however respectfully tendered it might have been - galling. Like as not the baron had expected the pathfinder to agree with him wholeheartedly. Yondrin was either more accepting or more diplomatic. Marietta supposed that pettiness and particularity were the purview of the nobility in the end. Commoners had to get along with those around them as best they could, while nobles could throw their problems out into the street, or even the dungeon.

Speaking of dungeons, Goodwoman Hausenbergerdorff seemed rather interested in touring the rumor-laden cells beneath the baron’s manor. Glass shattered as the old woman threw down a vial, releasing a burst of chill ice that raced along the floor in a quick-growing snarl of frigid spikes. The forester’s eyes snapped up to the dais as her hand went to her bowstave, but the noble’s guards had reacted quickly, predictably, leveling their weapons at the shopkeeper. With her bow unstrung Marietta was not going to be intervening in this confrontation with anything other than words, and she was out of inspiration after stepping into the spat between Ember and the elf. Though for the shopkeeper’s part, the woman seemed hardly fazed by the fact half a dozen crossbows were pointed at her as she voiced a harsh reply to the baron’s dismissal. And for a moment the ranger was convinced that she was about to watch the goodwoman die as the nobleman’s eyes narrowed and heat suffused his cheeks.

And then Ember stepped forward.

The crossbows swung as one, refocusing on the tiefling who dared to approach across the field of ice. Approach? Better to say dance. That word again, and Marietta’s lips twitched into a small, swift grin as the dusky woman flowed over the treacherous terrain. The expression vanished as the baron’s hand rose, a simple gesture holding back the bolts that could in a moment leap from their grooved rests to smash the life from the tiefling.

But Ember seemed as unaffected by the threat of those weapons as Goodwoman Hausenbergerdorff before her, putting on a show of fire and steam as she deftly addressed the subject of the baron’s doubts.

Marietta held her breath, fingers tightening around the stave of her bow as she waited, as she willed the baron to relent.

Perhaps it worked, or perhaps the noble had vented his frustration, for he lowered his hand slowly, motioning the guards to stand down. They did, though a few looked dubious regarding the prospect of letting the presumptuous tiefling live. Baron Terex’s gaze swept over the assembled again, and then slanted to his secretary. “Goodman Arthon,” the nobleman’s voice was quiet.

Marietta’s skin broke out in sudden gooseflesh. Something about that voice, about that tone, assured her that the baron was not so calm as he suddenly looked.

“My Lord?”

“Time is short. Sign them up, inform them, and get them on the road.”

“As you command, my Lord Baron.” The bald man looked faintly relieved himself at this, bustling papers before him and reaching for his quill.

“I’ll have irons on the old woman.” The words were light, almost negligent, as though nothing more than an afterthought to the previous statement.

This brought the goodman up short, and he peered owlishly at Baron Terex, blinking behind his spectacles. “I beg your pardon, my Lord?”

“Iron fetters.” The noble’s eyes tracked back to the shopkeeper, his voice poisonous as it grew in volume. “We too know how to properly use what is ours, wench. The Right of Justice, High and Low, is given into our keeping in these lands, and we will not be insulted in our own place, nor have it said we allowed such mockery to pass unpunished.

“Therefore, for a year and a day you shall wear iron fetters upon your ankles wheresoever you may go, the length of which shall be two feet from ankle to ankle. Go then with these others upon the quest to find the truth of events at Pinewatch, but should you be seen in Keken without your chains before our allotted time has passed, you will be put to the wheel.”

He cast a final glance in the orc’s direction, his tone cooling from its former restrained fury. “Yondrin of Dakorel. You have charge of this rout, unless and until you should yield that leadership to another. Perhaps the knife-ear ranger can serve as your second. I care no more for the details, only that you go swiftly and return swifter.”

Having said his piece, the baron strode back down the hall, followed obediently by his guards, leaving the hall in an echoing procession of tramping boots.

Up on the dais, and still looking anxious about what he had just witnessed, Goodman Arthon stuttered before managing to croak out. “M-m-my good folk… I will need your names, and the names of your next of kin so that the rewards of your success may be properly bequeathed should any foul harm come to you upon this venture…”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 22
5/23/2019 23:34:58   

A scatter of chatter floated towards Salindrel as newcomers entered the large room. None of it was directed towards the elf and that was fine by him. The druid still needed a few moments to recover from his shame and re-center his attitude to align with his purpose for being here.

Despite an initial hesitation, Immeral had finally made the choice to send his apprentice. On his own. This was Salindrel’s first solo mission, to come to Keken and find out what was going on in the forest. To get justice for the elves that had lived here. And as long as the others assembled were assisting with the investigation, he needed to treat them with respect, regardless of who they were.

The arrival of someone with an aura of authority snapped the druid out of his reverie. He straightened and turned back to the group, watching as a black orb approached the dais, flanked by several others. Salindrel perked up, directing his attention at their patron when a stream of vitriol more vile than his own flew out of the man’s mouth, directed at several of the others. A bandit? Old woman? What kind of group had the Baron’s summons brought here?

No, he wouldn’t judge. Immeral had taught him that each companion had some skill they brought. The man had taken Salindrel under his wing, a blind elf, and taught him how to surpass his shortcomings and be of use to the Keepers. This group could do the same. Turn weaknesses into strengths, solve the mystery of Pinewatch, bring back any survivors.

He turned his attention back to the group, to a black orb, someone from the Drakorel Company. He had heard of them. The man issued some sort of challenge to the others assembled, to prove their worth. The elf knew he had nothing to prove, having come with the blessing of the Keepers, but neither should any of the others need to prove themselves. A scowl crossed his face, worried that the Baron’s caustic words would cause someone to act rashly.

And with the crash of glass and a chill in the air, he knew that someone had done just that. A woman’s voice, very different from the demon who had addressed him earlier, lashed out at their employer. And then a wave of heat as the sultry woman took her turn. Fools. His mentor had taught him to always be diplomatic with the man who held the purse strings. And everyone else as well, which he had screwed up from the beginning.

Before anyone else could do anything stupid, the Baron stepped in, his commanding presence halting any further discussion. And with a few words, the group was formed, punishment was meted out and the man with the black soul retreated from the room as quickly as he arrived, leaving his final instructions to the room.

Salindrel took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He set his shoulders and strode forward, being careful to avoid the old woman. He was sure there was more glass on her, and he was worried that his vibrations would shatter her precious supply. The path to the Goodman was clear and the elf would not let anything stop him.

“The name is Salindrel Forestwalker,” he said in a clear voice, addressing the Baron’s scribe. “If we don’t make it back, my portion of the reward should be returned to Keeper Immeral.” He moved to the side to leave room for others, turning back to face the others. “A final thing. None of you have to prove anything. The fact that you’re here is enough. I’m sure we will each find our use where we’re headed. It is an honor to work with each of you.”
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 23
5/27/2019 12:05:24   

The entire situation was somewhat puzzling. Luca wasn’t sure which was more unusual; the elderly woman’s gall as she iced a segment of the floor or the fact that the Baron had let her finish speaking. Many a noble back in Alafael would have gladly seen the elder shot on the spot for her brashness. Or at least taken away in chains. Maybe the Baron secretly made up for his lack of stature with an abundance of patience? Judging by the demeanour of his entrance—and not to mention his entourage—the former general seriously doubted it.

In the meantime, Luca was trying his best to make sure his axe didn’t leave any marks on the Baron’s floorboards. If there’d been any indication the wizened alchemist was going to make a miniature ice rink, he would’ve been worried less about dressing too casually and brought along a pair of ice skates instead. Come to think of it, when was the last time he’d pulled on a pair of skates?

Next, it was the hellspawn’s turn to approach the Baron. Luca half expected the crossbows to simply fire and execute the demon. Yet, their host kept his hand aloft, and bolts remained in poised crossbows. Her words must have had some effect on him, since he quietly issued his orders to Arthon and turned from the room a moment later. The guards’ footsteps soon faded from range, leaving his servant to deal with the ‘rout’.

Luca frowned. Bringing the alchemist along was already going to be tricky, but bringing her in chains? Might as well have given her the death sentence, if this task had the slightest bit of danger. Probably something they’d need to deal with in short order, if she was going to be of any service. Trust a noble to make our job that much easier.
Still, it could have been worse. At least they didn’t have to bring her along in enchanted stocks.

Although now that the Baron had departed, it seemed that they were getting down to business. Luca wasn’t an expert at reading people, just decent enough to understand both his troops, colleagues and most of his superiors’ motives. The Baron had probably just wanted to see who he’d be hiring for the task at hand. Judging from the brevity and his more-than-apparent unease, it was unlikely that he would have turned anyone down for the job. Even the most dire of circumstances turned the wealthiest of nobles into beggars.

One of the elves stepped up first in response to Arthon’s request. Salindrel Forestwalker. A bit of a dour looking fellow, as elves went. Armed with a bow and a dagger, on a passing glance. Luca gave the slightest of nods, acknowledging the elf’s closing affirmation. Correct, if not naively so.

While it was true that those gathered hadn’t any need to prove anything, that didn’t mean they had already earned his trust. They might be working together, but Luca had more than a handful of qualms with some of their gathered party. Having an orc leading their expedition would be an unusual change from what he was used to. The ex-soldier wasn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect of having a bandit or fire demon ‘watching’ his back either.

Maybe he was getting old. He may have looked fairly young for his age, but his fellow officers often said that he had the attitude of someone twice as old. What had the quip been? Barrel full of might, but a shipload of worries? Aewyn had helpfully added thimble of sense.

Considering where he was, she probably had a point.

Swinging the axe to his shoulder, the former Lightblessed General marched to where the elf had stood. “Luca Forsythe, of Alafael. Should I fall, you may inform my sister, Aewyn Forsythe.” He paused, a hint of a grin on his lips. “I will admit, it may take some time to find her.”

< Message edited by Kooroo -- 5/28/2019 19:20:53 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 24
5/31/2019 22:36:42   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

Karen took a moment to compose herself, which in this case involved preventing her knees from shaking involuntarily. The old woman’s aggressive flash freeze and the tiefling’s gentle but blaze reaffirmed the feeling of inadequacy she was already feeling. Unconsciously, her hand once again drifted to her sheathed blade and traced the pommel with one finger.

I’m surrounded by monsters being sent to hunt more monsters.

Karen closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then considered the events that had just unfolded with a calmer mind. The Baron himself had appeared in a predictable fashion. No figure of authority would appear without an entourage of armed guards, after all.

The talent of the old lady, apparently named Dorothy Hausenbergerdorff, was the true shock. Even if her display had been ill-advised, her careful aim with such a wild display was no denying that she had the skill her proclamation claimed. Karen almost scoffed when the Baron demanded that she be chained. Anyone brash enough to attack a figure of authority in their own home and experienced enough to craft a potion of that quality would certainly not have moral or physical issues removing a simple set of iron fetters.

The Dancer had calmed down the situation nicely, though her elegant show of force still contained the undertones of a power beyond her appearance. Nonetheless, the Baron left with an air of unsettling peace, the orc, Yondrin, was placed in charge of their merry little band, and Goodman Arthon requested true introductions and the names of potential heirs.

First came the dead-eyed elf, Salindrel Forestwalker, followed by the man Karen had met earlier, Luca Forsythe.

Karen approached next, forgoing her usual energy for a more steady and formal march to the dais. The Baron’s demeanor had made it abundantly clear that this was a situation that called for restrained behavior. Unused to this more noble behavior, she was unable to prevent her steps from having just a bit of bounce to them. She hoped it didn’t stand out too much.

Once she arrived before Arthon she again gave a deep bow, avoiding the urge to add in the flourish she had displayed previously.

“Once again, I am Karen Lane. In the event of my passing, you may forward my earnings to Mars Lune.”

She faltered a bit. It had been so long since she had last seen Mars. Even his name sounded alien to her ears. “In the event that you’re… unable to find him, please instead pass my rewards on to Corus Splitleaf, owner of the Spilt-Leaf Tavern in the village of Orient.”

Having said her part, Karen stepped aside as the others before her had, though she stood opposite them, rather than beside them. She gave a quick nod to the elf, Salindrel. Though something about his demeanor still unsettled her, she respected his supportive attitude. “As Sir Forestwalker has said, it is an honor to work with you all. I look forward to getting to know you better over the course of this mission.”
Post #: 25
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