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RE: Dead-Moon Sky

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6/4/2019 23:54:22   

Ember’s unflinching gaze followed the baron as he made his exit, armored guard in tow. Iron fetters or the wheel...how much of that metered out punishment had been the tiefling’s doing? The din of boots upon stone faded away as gentle steps carried the dancer through the shallow pools scattered across the floor. Baron Terex’s disdain for her kind had been clear as day, but the Cinder Witch had failed to give the noble a reason to act on his hatred. But luck was a commidity - if one person was blessed with it, another was cursed by its scarcitiy. Eyes of coal swept across the crone, any number of deadly concoctions hidden away on her person. Someone else paying for her mistakes. Or had this old bird built her last nest afterall?

Ignoring Arthon for the time being, Ember approached Marietta with a flaunt in her step. She stopped just short of the elf perhaps just a half-step too close for comfort for someone unversed in the social arts. If the ranger had not caught scent of her sulfurous perfume thus far, she would now.

“Well”, Ember began with a jaunty smile and relaxation of her shoulders, “that could have gone far worse.” The tip of her tail flicked up to the missing striations on her arm, the onyx spade tracing a line down the now-ashen skin. The little performance, while serving her will, had taken its cost. Even now, the sorceress fought the urge to clench her fist as the muscles tightened from the arcane strain. “Second-in-command is nothing to scoff at,” a dark brow arched, “unless you happen to be the guild’s finest.”

The ranger's eyes were icy, though she kept a tight lid on the flash of anger the noble's words had invoked. Knife-ear, is it? First the man questioned her ability; she had swallowed that insult because of who he was, and - more importantly - who she was. But to use those words, words she had had hurled at her so many times as a child...

It was the tiefling's return that pulled her from that anger. Gliding gracefully over the melting ice, the performer stopped perhaps a touch too close for normal propriety. Somehow Marietta did not mind. Ember was certainly... intriguing, and the half-elf caught a faint scent of brimstone from the other woman's proximity, but said nothing on that count. She had an idea, though it was an idea and nothing more solid, that the whiff of sulfur hanging about Ember was an affectation, a little touch of drama in the dancer's deliberate act of flaunting her heritage. Thankfully, it was all together enough to take the forester's mind from the insult she had been paid by the baron, and she managed a low reply in kind. "Should Yondrin agree." Her shoulders lifted in a shrug. "I leave the measuring to others. I was called upon to do a job."

Their talk was interrupted as a member of their fellow company addressed the motley band. Words of comradery and worth were spoken by the same silver-eyed elf who had sullied the tiefling’s name not a few short moments ago. The reek of hypocrisy was only overdone by the stench of ignorance as it was doubtless the ‘forestwalker’ was unaware of his own sanctimony. Ember gave Marietta a sideways glance and smirk. “Not everyone is as fortunate.” A burning orb flickered as the dancer winked. “I look forward to following your lead, Marietta.”

Marietta could not stop a slight blush from spreading across her cheeks at Ember's words, though she could not herself have said exactly what it was about the dancer's apparent vote of confidence that embarrassed her. "I... I will do my best," the half-elf muttered.

Striding towards Goodman Arthon, she passed by Salindrel, her tail flourishing back and forth behind in swift strokes. “An honor indeed,” the sorceress whispered within the hunter’s earshot, her gaze never wavering from the seated scribe. Honor meant little when one only preached its practice.

Approaching the bench with her head held high, the tiefling spoke. “Ember, called ‘the Cinder Witch’ by some. If I fall, do be sure to hold on to my possessions.” Her lips curled into a cheshire smile. “I’ll be sure to return and claim them.”

< Message edited by Apocalypse -- 6/7/2019 16:19:16 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 26
6/6/2019 23:02:42   

Dorothy was shocked.

First, she was insulted. When she attempted to show her strength, she was treated like a sheepdog that had attacked its own herd. Had she been rash? Depends on who you ask. But to handicap her, right before going into the forest to do the baron’s own dirty work, was completely absurd! He couldn’t wait until after the mission, no, this had to happen now. He might as well have signed her death warrant.

She could always turn around and go right back home. But to storm out would be a sign of weakness and defeat. It would prove that the baron was completely right. And how would she explain this to her children? Her customers? She had already taken her punishment. Leaving now, without seizing her reward, would be pointless. One of these men could probably just carry her anyways.

Dorothy waited patiently for her turn to approach and give Goodman Arthon the information he needed. After the baron’s stern entrance (and swift exit), she almost felt sorry for the man. Working under someone with that attitude, day after day, must surely be a chore greater than any Dorothy had encountered, even in her early years. Several of her companions made small speeches, and Dorothy listened approvingly. Maybe this misfit group could work together after all.

The tiefling stepped aside, and Dorothy contemplated the bizarre woman briefly before she took her opportunity to approach the Goodman. Despite direct attacks towards her, she had stayed calm and attempted to talk to the baron logically. That didn’t seem like darkspawn behavior at all. Perhaps there was more to the woman than she seemed.

She turned to address Goodman Arthon. “Dorothy Hausenbergerdorff, as you know. Please deliver my rewards to Adamantina. She will be running my business while I’m away.” Dorothy gave a small smile. “Oh, and please let her know, in the event that I fail to return, that both the shop and my residence belong to her.”

Post #: 27
6/8/2019 12:33:23   

Salindrel’s next action was purely instinctual, his rational brain lagging behind as his body moved of its own accord. A step forward, his hand stretched out as though to seize the Cinder Witch’s wrist. And then he stopped, Immeral's words hitting him hard;, that he needed to be an agent of peace and not wrath. He couldn't let the women's biting words affect him so much. Hadn't his penance been enough? Shouldn't it have been?

He needed to control himself if he wanted to find out. A long, uncomfortable moment later, Salindrel withdrew his hand, taking a step back as he breathed out tersely, “A word, Goodwoman?”

“A word?” Ember turned to face the forestwalker, her eyes of coal meeting his silvered ones. “Which one, Goodman Forestwalker? ‘Darkspawn’? ‘Devil? ‘She-witch?’ Last one’s a bit redundant, but nonetheless popular.” The sorceress crossed her arms in front of her, the scarlet sleeves draped over each in waves of red. She tilted her head not as one noble admonishing an inferior, but as a mother expressing disappointment in a child. The jewel in her circlet swung loosely with every small movement. “Whichever one it is, do at least make it original and not a complete waste of breath.”

"I just wanted to apologize," Salindrel said quietly, not wanting to pull the attention of Arthon or the rest of the group. He retreated a few steps further, trying to draw the tiefling off to the side. "I reacted poorly when I first discerned your nature and it seems I was in error. Your actions thus far have been quite the opposite of other demons I have encountered. However, you seem to be holding a grudge against me. If we are to work together, there must be some level of trust between us. I hope that my apology can begin to rebuild that between us."

The elf could feel the heat rising in his cheeks and moved to retake his prior spot, hoping that was enough to turn the tide of the Cinder Witch's scorn.

“So ‘demon’ after all.” The tiefling closed her eyes as she gave a slight shake of her head. “And here I thought I told you to not waste your breath.”

Ah, damn. He winced and stopped, speaking over his shoulder. "No, Goodwoman, you are assuredly no 'demon.' But what you are, I do not know." Salindrel turned back away, listening for the woman's retreating steps.

A smirk crossed her face as she turned to walk away. “If you must know, I’m what they call a *tiefling* - one born of both human and demonic blood. But those I trust call me Ember.” She turned away from the silver-eyed one. “Perhaps one day you will earn that privilege.” With long strides, the dancer took her leave.

Ember. A fitting name for one so fiery. It would be difficult to cool such a cinder, but ceasing his use of the D-word probably wouldn't be a bad way to start. As her steps faded, Salindrel realized that he should give the Goodwoman a wide berth for now. Hopefully, he would be able to get off on the right foot with the rest of their little group. He needed to be more cautious about the words he used and how he acted. If he wanted to make Immeral's teachings on diplomacy his own, he had his work cut out for him.

< Message edited by superjars -- 6/8/2019 13:02:13 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 28
6/9/2019 15:19:46   
How We Roll Winner

The ice came as a surprise to the Ghoul who immediately started to regret his decision of calling the old woman as… an old woman. The leather clearly suited her. It was, however, her exceptional control over her abilities that was even more alarming to Raithe for at that point, he truly understood how terrifying a situation he was in.

For a minute, his eyes had widened in awe as the stalagmites had erupted across the floor making their way towards the Baron on his stage and a small part of him might even have feared the outcome of that union. When the last of the ice constructs stopped less than a foot away from Terex, Raithe had breathed a sigh of relief. The awkward outcome had been averted.

“Inside my coat is an arsenal of important and dangerous potions of my own creation.” The old lady had boasted. This had caused a number of bells to toll inside the Cursed one’s head.

Is she some kind of a witch, he had thought at that moment, his right hand slowly reaching for the familiar hilt at the back of his hips. He had thought for a second to abandon this quest and take the old one hostage, even to just question her on the whereabouts of her friend who had brought this curse down upon Raithe. His fingers wrapped around the hilt.

Before he could react any further, the cinder being joined the old one near the stage.
“You see a bandit? I see a survivor.” she spoke clearly. The words broke Raithe’s train of thoughts which was growing ever darker and destructive. His grip relaxed and eventually the right hand dropped back to his side as he witnessed what happened next. The cinder creature had started a show of fire upon the icy floor, the brightness causing Raithe to narrow his eyes, yet something made him want to keep looking. As he looked on, the fire grew even more intense and as Raithe closed his eyes to shield them, the flames were gone.

Silence. A feeling of regret welled up inside Raithe, or was it plain sadness?

Raithe didn’t pay attention to what the cinder creature spoke after but the Baron’s words snapped him back to the present.

“Goodman Arthon,” he started, surprisingly calm for someone who had just been on the receiving end of a number of icy spikes and could potentially have been impaled. “Time is short. Sign them up, inform them, and get them on the road.”

Once again, Raithe sighed. He was glad that the Baron didn’t call on him to display his powers. That would end in a terrible manner… for Raithe, seeing as he had realised that each one of these individuals was the possessor of either exceptional magical talents or proficiency with weapons of ridiculous proportions. His daggers would almost certainly fail them against such monsters if he were to take them on just to show his battle prowess. However, given time, something could be made even of such a situation. The ghoul relaxed.

“I’ll have irons on the old woman.”

Raithe’s eyes shot up to the Baron. He had just proven to the assembly that he was not one to stand for threats in his own house, and surely not in front of his own subjects.

“Therefore, for a year and a day you shall wear iron fetters upon your ankles wheresoever you may go,” he went on. Now Raithe appeared slightly concerned for although he was unsure of the lady’s circumstances or nature, to handicap her before such a dangerous undertaking was not unlike putting cattle out for a culling. However, there was nothing the bandit could do. He could only hope that the woman had some potion in that coat of hers that would free her from the punishment.

Before the Baron left the hall, guards in tow, he assigned the orc as the leader of the band and the bow-woman elf as the second-in-command.

After frowning to himself for a good few minutes, Raithe exhaled and made his way over to the stage, his boots making muffled thuds on the floor as he approached the scribe.

“Raithe,” he started, not masking his voice anymore. “If I die, give my things to Jen Essai. She has a stable.”

He then stepped away from the stage and decided who to approach first, the old woman or the bow-women elf. The old woman had already landed herself in a terrible situation and to have a stranger question her on her nature would only upset her more. Raithe was in no mood to fight a woman with creator knows what powers. On the other hand, he had wanted to talk to the elf since she had seemed to be the only sensible one but even she had just been insulted by the Baron. Knife-ear, he had called her, an obvious insult keeping in mind her physical appearance.

Everyone is in a terrible mood, Raithe thought, making his way past the collection of people to the wall near the doorway where he sat down on the floor, his back against the wall and his arms resting atop his knees. Hrm.

< Message edited by Arthur -- 6/13/2019 14:27:51 >
DF MQ AQW  Post #: 29
6/12/2019 16:27:00   

Before he knew it, the first one to take up the opportunity to speak was Dorothy. Rather brave of her, considering the pointing criticism and far from youthful. However, what was bravery soon faded into foolishness. Grasping a vial, she tossed it, causing the glass to shatter as ice encroached the surrounding area, stopping just short of the baron. Eyes flared as Yondrin reached for a spear in his holster.

The angered woman retorted to the baron of her skills and abilities, demonstrated by how the ice stopped just before him. Yondrin alluded to speaking of one’s abilities, not showing them off! As hasty as she was, the woman was at least exceptionally lucky, as the baron spoke for her to be bound by iron fetters. For many nobles, surely that aggressive act were bounds for life in the dungeons or a death sentence. Perhaps Ember’s more calm and diplomatic approach was what had saved Dorothy.

The pathfinder lifted his hand away from his armaments, gazing back at the baron. After judgment has been made, it was declared that the orc will be the one to lead the expedition. As the noble took his leave, Yondrin snorted softly for what transpired. With a crack of his neck, he approached Goodman Arthon in between the other participants. “Yondrin Bulsill, representing the Dakorel company. If necessary, proceedings are to go to a man named Barkly, west side of the city,” with a low tone. Afterwards, he swiveled around towards the door as he pulled his hood up.

“For all who care to follow through this journey, make any last preparations as you must, then meet me on the main west road.” He tilted his head in contemplative thought. He was used to working with those without regard to who they were. From what he overheard, a couple individuals in the room seemed interested in getting acquainted with each other. The pathfinder, with his life of travel and taking specific duties, was not one for such talks, as it was exceptionally rare he would meet an individual once again. Would just make one too sentimental for all he cared.

“This one will be a swift, but dangerous, trip. So bring your best and conduct your best,” Yondrin’s head turned starkly towards Dorothy, obscured by the hood. “It will be what keeps you alive in the end. Not just what you bring, but also discipline. At that, if I catch wind of any of you bickering at each other for trivial reasons akin to what happened earlier, you’ll have a grievous time by pulling beyond your weight.” With that, he marched on out, ready to venture into danger once more.

< Message edited by Caststarter -- 6/12/2019 18:59:32 >
DF  Post #: 30
6/17/2019 20:34:23   
Eternal Wanderer

For all the oddities the day had brought, Goodman Arthon recovered himself quickly enough. Perhaps it was the soothing familiarity of the paperwork before him - lines of careful notes, facts marshalled into their proper place and configuration like men marching into battle. Whatever the case, by the time Salindrel stepped forward the bald scribe was calm, and by the time Ember approached he was composed enough to do little more than flick a faintly interrogative glance her way at the assertion that she would return to collect her earnings one way or the other. Arthon asked no questions of any, simply recording the details each spoke. He did smile for a moment at Luca’s claim it would take time to find his declared heir however, perhaps finding the implied challenge intriguing.

But finding herself last, Marietta approached the baron’s minister after managing her own feat of self-control. There was little trace of the fury the noble’s words had invoked, or of the bemused embarrassment imparted by the tiefling on the half-elf’s face. Goodman Arthon had done nothing to deserve her ire, and as was her way the ranger had packed it down, shutting it away somewhere deep within for a more appropriate time and place. “My name is Marietta Drevosa. I have neither family nor heirs. Should I fail to return, let my portion of any reward be remitted to the forester’s guildhouse.”

The bald man nodded absently from atop the dais, as though he had expected that answer in some way, and he spent several moments making notes on a second parchment. At length he dusted the papers and stood, bending backwards slightly as he stretched his back. Arthon seemed about to speak, only to be preempted by Yondrin’s declaration and swift exit. Blinking after the orc, the goodman recovered his equilibrium swiftly and glanced around at the others. “Perhaps a short recess would be in order, my goodmen and women. Please make what last minute preparations you find needful, and we shall reconvene within the hour upon the west’rd road.”

Collecting his materials, Goodman Arthon nodded to the assembled, and then followed the big orc out the door.

Marietta was waiting a distance from Arthon as the others arrived. There had been little for her to do in the way of preparations; she had arrived at the baron’s manse with most everything she needed for the trip. Still, the forester had taken the opportunity to briefly return home, double-check her pack, and slip in a few additional items that might be useful before heading for the rendezvous.

Her hood was drawn up, shading her face from the sun. The deep cowl also served to close her off, isolating her from Arthon and his companion, neither of whom she wished to speak to at the moment. The half-elf leaned lightly on the stave of her bow as the others assembled, blue eyes flicking every now and then to the goodman’s associate. The new man, the chief undergaoler, was waiting next to the bald secretary. Dressed in a dark outfit beneath the heavy leather apron of his office, the jailer had his own cavernous hood drawn up over his head. From one meaty fist dangled a set of fetters bound together by a length of iron chain.

This entire set of circumstances was a farce, in Marietta’s opinion. Goodwoman Hausenbergerdorff had earned her punishment, certainly. It was not as if one could expect to speak - and act - towards the baron in such a manner and not be reprimanded, but those chains might well serve to kill the old woman in the forest. The Piege was not a tame wood, and it held threats for even the well-prepared. But the half-elf’s opinion on the matter had not been sought, and as Baron Terex had said, Justice High and Low was his charge in Hron. The ranger could only wish that the party had not been saddled with additional burdens for their endeavor.

Marietta sighed, trying to focus on the positive side of things. First and foremost, they would be leaving the city soon, which always put a spring in the forester’s step. Keken was by no means a bustling metropolis, but she preferred the simplicity of the wood, even with its dangers. And it was not as though she would have to look out for Hausenbergerdorff by herself. Yondrin was very good at what he did, by all accounts, and if Luca’s axe was more than just a conversation starter then troubles with bandits or reavers - assuming brigands were responsible for the disappearances - seemed unlikely.

There was Raithe too, and Lane, with their blades. Truly, the ranger’s main concern was how they would move through the forest. Salindrel would be at home there, no doubt. Ember had grace enough for it, but seemed more suited to dance floors and noble parlors than hiking through forests…

The half-elf shifted the bow stave in her hands, turning it to grip the upper limb in reverse with her left hand as her right drew a string from a pouch at her waist. She slipped the loop through the string notch on the lower limb of the stave and then stepped between the body of the bow and the string. Bracing the slight curve of the lower tip on the outside of her right foot, Marietta twisted, applying the strength of arm, shoulder and back to the upper limb and using the back of her thigh and planted left leg as a fulcrum.

For a moment, nothing happened. It was very likely that the forester looked comical to an outside observer, a young girl playing with her father’s bow. And then the mighty stave began to bend with a quiet creak of flexing wood. The half-elf’s right hand rose, slipping the bowstring through the upper loop notch. Lifting her leg, Marietta stepped out of the bow, left hand dropping to the grip and lifting it. Her right thumb gave the string a passing flick, drawing a low, pleasant vibration she could feel up her arm.

It drew the ghost of a smile to her face as she whispered to herself. “Now then, let’s see what there is to see.”

Arthon made a vague motion as the alchemist arrived, and the dark robed undergaoler turned his hooded gaze towards the shopkeeper. With a faint grunt he moved forward, going down to one knee and starting the task of fitting and fastening the fetters without so much as a word to the goodwoman.

For his part, the baron’s minister had at least the good grace to look abashed as his eyes flitted over the group, ensuring each of them was present. His gaze refused to sit long on Dorothy as the jailer did his work. “We know precious little, but I shall tell you all that I can.” Reaching into a pouch at his hip, the bald man produced a scroll and offered it to Yondrin. “Sergeant Radrick Konning was the senior commander of the garrison at Pinewatch. This is a copy of his last dispatch. The letter is vague, and of troubling implication. He makes reference to other couriers sent with other letters, but we have not seen any of them, only the man who staggered out of the forest bearing this.

“That trooper died within twelve hours. He was wounded by both sword and arrow, but also bore signs of having suffered attack by some manner of animal. Towards the end he raved, speaking of a call, and babbling about the moon.” Arthon frowned slightly. “He said the moon was watching him, but the night was cloudy.” He shrugged and moved on. “Your mission is to reach Pinewatch and scout the settlement. If possible, ascertain what happened, and who is responsible for it. Your primary objective, however, will be to discern if the settlement is still viable. A relief expedition is intended to reclaim the site, should you determine that there is anything worth salvaging.

“You will still be paid, even should the conclusion be returned that Pinewatch is lost or no longer viable as an outpost for the barony and the Dakorel Consortium. However, that payment will be contingent upon proof being returned of the fate of Pinewatch and its inhabitants.” The goodman glanced back and forth between the group slowly. “I shall attempt to answer any questions you may have, but the baron wishes this business concluded swiftly. Please make haste - much depends upon your success.”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 31
7/11/2019 0:51:52   

The elf was out the door shortly after Arthon and Yondrin, leaving the others to prepare the goods and supplies they would need for their journey. Salindrel had learned from his master to come to the meeting hall already prepared to move onward and so did not need the recess. Bow slung neatly across his back, he walked quickly through the town heading for the west. The elf hoped to find a tree, orient himself towards his home grove and meditate for a while on his recent failings. He hoped to perhaps even link with Immeral through the roots and seek his advice.

It was not long before the druid found what he sought, clambered gracefully to the top and sat to commune with the world surrounding him. However, despite great effort, he was unable to ascertain a route by which to connect with his master. Despite that, even a few minutes of quiet and peaceful reflection served to calm him and to some extent, prepare him for whatever trials lay ahead.

Nearby branches spoke to him of the half-elf’s approach long before he could sense it himself. Marietta, was that her name?, he thought, thinking back to their previous interactions. He seemed to recall that she had had several interactions with Ember. Positive ones. A shiver ran through Salindrel’s body as he thought of that tiefling woman. Perhaps Marietta would be able to aid in mending their relationship. He wasn’t sure, but it was worth a try.

The elven druid hopped down from the tree, landing lightly on his feet and strode toward his new companion. “Marietta, was it?” he said as he approached. “I see you are early as well. What do you think of our companions?” He attempted to keep his tone light and conversational, not wanting to offend another member of their collective. However, it did seem to come across as stiff and formal despite his best efforts.

Marietta glanced up at the sound of Salindrel’s landing, eyes flicking from the suddenly appearing elf to what had been his arboreal perch and back again. For a moment she returned the man’s odd gaze, her expression neutral as she inspected him. Elves were not uncommon in Keken, but most of them lived beyond the limits of the city, in Piege proper. She wondered, though she had no true desire to give voice to the question, if Salindrel could tell her mixed heritage. He had seemed quick enough to judge, when confronted with Ember, but it was hard to say what he made of half-elves. In her experience, Marietta had found elves tended to pity her, a condescension that was more than a little grating at times.

She shifted slightly, taking the stave of her unstrung bow between both hands and gently rolling the wooden length back and forth with a soft sigh. “I think we are very different, all of us. And I hope that is enough to see us through whatever is ahead.” It was, perhaps, not the answer the elf might have wanted, but it was diplomatic enough to try and smooth over the earlier confrontation. And if Salindrel pressed… Well, she would have to figure something else out if he wanted more.

Salindrel let out a low chuckle. “‘Different,’ eh?” he replied, letting a small smile touch his face. “How very diplomatic of you. That sounds very similar to what my master would have said in this same situation.” Salindrel turned his head slightly, cocking an ear to listen to the wind whistling through the trees as he stared off into the distance, speaking as if to himself, “Would that I had the sense to be as diplomatic as Immeral is…” His voice trailed off as he became lost in his memories for a moment.

Shaking himself out of his reverie, he turned to face the forester, pulling his vibrations away from their ever-present ebb to cascade upon her form, giving him his clearest look at who this Marietta was. She seemed to be an elf - or at the very least elven in appearance. But the weapon she carried was the most surprising part, seeming to be several times larger than he would expect from one of her stature. “And you, Marietta. What sort of weapon is that? It looks rather unwieldy.” He released control of his powers, letting them return to their previous flow.

The ranger frowned, a swift, fleeting expression that flitted across her face before vanishing. It was… a very strange question. Her fingers stopped the gentle spin of the stave, falling into place around the weapon’s grip as she returned the elf’s regard. “It is a bowstave, a war bow.” For a moment she hesitated, but in truth she could not stop from asking, as rude as doing so might be. “Salindrel… are you... blind?”

Another low chuckle was drawn from the elf. “I had thought that much to be obvious, given my eyes, but I suppose I should not take such things for granted,” he said in a slightly playful manner. Then suddenly, his brow furrowed as a thought crossed his mind. “However, I assure you that I am fully capable of facing any creature or being that may stand in our way. My lack of sight will not hinder me from being of use on this expedition.” His body tensed, suddenly self-conscious that this one, who had recently been named as the second-in-command, might send him home before they had even begun.

Marietta blinked, sensing the slight change in the elf, a sort of coiling tension. It took a moment to put a finger on the reason - or the most likely reason - for Salindrel’s sudden unease. The ghost of a smile crossed her face, quick as the frown that had passed by moments earlier. “Salindrel, it is not my place to say if you come with us or not, nor Yondrin’s. The only thing that you should worry about for the moment is getting in Ember’s way.”

There was no chuckle this time around. Salindrel took a deep breath, letting himself unfurl, but remaining cautious. “I plan to give her a wide berth for the time being, I can assure you.” His voice was back to its original intonation. “I apologize for any trouble I may have caused. I really did not mean for things to go as far as they did.” A nervous bow was the only thing the elf could think to do as he delivered the apology, hoping he hadn’t jeopardized his position. He had no way to know what Marietta would say to the orc about this conversation, or about his condition. Perhaps he had become too familiar with her before. The druid took a few steps back after righting himself. “It seems the others might arrive soon,” he lied quickly. “I thank you for the brief, but informative, discussion.”

The forester’s eyes flicked briefly towards the road, but if someone was coming they were as yet beyond the reach of her senses. Blind he might have been, but the elf had some way of knowing what was going on around him. That was a mystery beyond Marietta’s understanding for now. Still, it was not a bad thing to know, and… hopefully Salindrel would be more careful of the tiefling when the party ventured on. Her lips twitched, though the smile never quite made it to full life. Perhaps he would be more careful, and perhaps Marietta would convince Ember to let bygones be bygones. Either way she inclined her head respectfully to the elf. “May the wind guide your step and the stars light your way.” It was something her mother had said, at least, that was what her father had always told her. An elven farewell, perhaps, or maybe nothing more than a personal fare thee well.

Marietta drew back, one hand rising to draw the hood of her cloak up about her face. It hid the tears that stung at the back of her eyes. Betimes it was like that, when she thought of the mother she knew only from the second-hand stories passed along by her father. Sometimes the thought brought tears to her eyes, other times she felt nothing. As embarrassing as it could be, she silently thought the tears were better.

The elf stopped at the sound of her words, and a slight smile graced his face. He repeated her phrase in his native tongue, bowing to her in return. With one fluid movement, he turned quickly and retreated back to his arboreous sanctuary. As he came close to the gnarled trunk, he heard a shift in the wind and with hand on the bark, spoke to the tree: more of their number approached.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 32
8/8/2019 15:32:40   
How We Roll Winner

The ghoul had let his head sink between his knees falling into a sort of nap without even realising it and it wasn’t until the orc had spoken that his cursed head snapped back up, banging into the wall and almost knocking off his hat.

“No!” He blurted out, his right hand shooting up to the top of the hat’s crown to readjust it before it slipped off. A sigh unwittingly escaped his lips, fluttering the scarf.

“For all who care to follow through this journey, make any last preparations as you must, then meet me on the main west road.” The orc announced as he then proceeded to walk out the doors, right past where Raithe was sitting.

The head guard was right and Raithe hated him for it. His last assignment had indeed been needlessly tiring and he could feel the fatigue creeping up on him even as he rose to his feet, one hand on the wall. The ghoul could have avoided it altogether seeing as higher authorities had already assigned an outfit to track down the escaped were-creatures. Nonetheless, had he not been there, the remaining soldiers would almost surely be food for a pack of starving were-beasts. One of them had punched the ghoul so hard, he’d gone flying through a cabin.

Raithe massaged his side, remembering the encounter. Thankfully, his own curse had caused the pain to fade away rather quickly. He straightened up, arching his back to stretch out any knots before he skipped and turned, following the entourage out the oversized shack.

Do I have something I need to do?

A quick trip to the Weaponsmith’s would help him set his inventory straight before he moved out. Preparation was key in prolonged assignments like this of which the ghoul hadn’t seen many. After all, who knows when next he might chance upon a town. Raithe exited the house and like a few others, broke away from the group heading towards the town to make final preparations of his own.

The Weaponsmith’s store was fairly easy to locate thanks in part to the clear sign hanging outside the door and also to the mad clanging that rung out across this part of the town.

“Good afternoon,” The shopkeeper, or the person minding the front half of the establishment greeted the mercenary as he lumbered in, his boots thudding on the wooden floor. “How may I help?”

The smell of coal dust and molten iron hung heavy in the air, not to mention the scent of oil, just what Raithe needed. The constant whooshing sound of bellows and the heat was a welcome presence. The ghoul felt at home in this cramped environment, far from those vast mansions where lords resided. Never a man for luxury, nor one to settle.

He pulled out both his blades and placed them on the counter gently, a sort of respect suddenly pervading his being. The shopkeeper’s eyes lit up as he carefully examined the steel, first the larger one, then the smaller one.

“I need them cleaned, oiled and sharpened at the earliest.” Raithe beckoned to the blades, his guttural voice masked in part by the loud whooshing and the crackling of flames.

“How soon are we speaking?” The other man raised his eyes, mad with excitement and an eagerness seen only in those who are passionate in their craft. Raithe knew the daggers were in good hands.

Within the next hour, the ghoul was ready to depart and hurried over to the west road where already a few people had gathered. He could see the bow-woman elf, the Orc, Goodman Arthon, the old alchemist and one doubtful character dressed strangely who Raithe later came to understand was the one charged with carrying out the Baron’s punishment. The ghoul avoided this one and went to stand near the Orc who presently was being handed a scroll by Goodman Arthon who further instructed him on the particulars of the mission.

Raithe was ready.
DF MQ AQW  Post #: 33
9/10/2019 0:45:04   

The introductions continued as one would've expected from such a rag-tag bunch. Luca’s comrades-to-be gave their names, and their instructions should their group fail to return. Not exactly the most pleasant follow-on sentence after you learned someone’s name, but it couldn’t be helped, he mused. It was better than the fallen’s share staying in the Baron’s pocket, though this was already turning out to be one hell of an ice-breaker. ‘Name and next of kin’ was not really along the usual lines of ‘name, region and hobbies’. He grinned at the prospect of posing these questions to recruits. Burial or cremation? would probably be next on the list.

For the rest of the meeting, Luca stayed near the walls of the room, with his axe propped against the floor, and a calm expression on his face. If one had observed him closely, they would have seen his brows knit slightly closer at the tiefling’s quip, and a shadow of a smile form at the bandit’s statement about the stable. When the orc, Yondrin, left the room with the baron’s representative in tow, the former general glanced back at the others still in the room. It would be interesting to see how the group fared in the forest, but he didn’t have high hopes. At least, not for some of our number, he thought, eyeing the narcoleptic Raithe.

Still, everyone—and everything—deserved a chance; that sounded like something his father had said many times in the past.

He gave a small grin, and strode out of the room with his greataxe in hand.

Sparks flew and flame flickered, casting shadows dancing through the heart of the armory. The sounds of hammers striking steel resounded around Luca, as he strode through the smoggy air. Rows of workbenches and equipment racks went by, with custodians and smiths going about their work, pausing only to give him some polite acknowledgement. It was only when he’d reached the back of the room did the general find the man he was looking for, sitting at an old and pitted workbench, surrounded by piles of papers.

“Quartermaster Gallios.”

The man didn’t look up from his work when Luca called, merely squinting harder at the miniscule writing on the form. It was only when the Lightblessed commander stopped in front of his desk, did the Head of the military’s Armory look up, scowling at the general from behind half-moon spectacles. “General Forsythe. What do you want?” he demanded irritably, uncapping his pen.

“The Marshal sends his regards,” Luca responded simply, hands respectfully behind his back.

Gallios snorted and scribbled a signature on the bottom of the paper before pushing it to the side and standing. He rubbed his eyes and looked out the window behind him, scowling again when he saw the cloudless night sky. Gallios gestured for Luca to follow, and started towards the exit on the eastern wall. The general complied, following the quartermaster.

“Just how long exactly have you been sitting there?” Luca asked, curiously. There was something different in the venerable armorer’s gait. It was stiff, and there was a slight slump. Not unusual, for a man of Gallios’ years, but it was exceptionally noticeable today.

“Since dawn,” Gallios grumbled, rubbing his lower back. “And it’s all thanks to you, General. I hope you realise how much of a mess you’ve left for me to clean up. Just what were you thinking, exactly? Charging into the enemy, while vastly outnumbered.”

“There was hardly a better choice. It was that, or give them the township.”

“‘Hardly a better choice’? I’ll tell you what would have been a better choice, boy. If you had prepared your forces sooner and taken up a more favourable position, then all of those losses could have been avoided. Instead, you opt to run in at the last moment, straight through Golith’s Vale.”

“I did what I could, quartermaster. If I had followed my standing orders at the time, then certainly, more of our troops would have been alive.”

Alafael’s Chief Supply Officer shot him a look as they walked across the courtyard. “Then why aren’t they alive? Why didn’t you follow your orders?”

“Because that would have meant giving them the town. Thousands would have died.”

“Thousands did die. Your troops weren’t ready to engage enemy forces of that magnitude. Orcish forces, at that. You sent your soldiers to their deaths, nothing more.”

Luca remained unfazed. “Yet we won. The enemy force was routed and the township was spared. Would you have had otherwise, quartermaster? Would you willingly sit by and let the citizens in our charge be slaughtered?”

Gallios paused momentarily, turning to glare at him. “That’s not what I meant, and you know that.”

“Then I fail to see what you have an issue with,” Luca nodded to a saluting soldier before continuing. “The orcish forces were moving through the vale, with their intent to encroach on the town. If I had followed His Majesty’s orders and kept my soldiers on standby, then we’d have soldiers sorting through the corpses of every man, woman and child in Golith. It would have been a massacre.”

The quartermaster grunted, but didn’t say anything. The two walked in silence for several minutes, the stars twinkling down on them as they made their way to the heart of the fortress. It was only after they had passed through the keep’s entrance that Gallio spoke again, in a much calmer voice. “So what does your old man want?” he asked. “Have you come to apologise on his and the King’s behalf?”

“I have not, no,” the general admitted, ”What I bring is more of a warning, unfortunately. Our scouts have spotted a, ah, sizeable number of enemies from the south.”

“And why are you telling me this? Don’t you usually just have some poor lad write up a report at the last minute and throw it my way ten minutes before the battle actually occurs? To what do I owe this quick and timely honor?”

“That’s the normal process, yes. But for those last-minute reports to be useful, the recipient has to actually read them. And judging by our conversation this evening, you still haven’t started doing that,” Luca said, with a grin. “So I’ve decided to come and give you the briefing in person.” The quartermaster turned a lovely rosey red, and muttered something under his breath.

The conversation cut off once more as they neared Gallios’ office. There was a rattle of keys, a click of a lock, and then the door swung open, striking the chamber wall with a soft thud. Luca followed him in and made himself at home, settling comfortably into a chair on one side of writing desk.

Gallios’ desk was clean and organized, with only an oil lamp, a paper tray, and a potted plant sitting on top. Lined up along the room’s walls, however, were cabinets packed to the point of bursting and shelves on the verge of collapsing. It was almost funny how the room was the opposite of his superior’s, but Luca had already made that comparison many years ago.
Time had somewhat lessened the humor in that statement, though, as the only comparison that went through Luca’s thoughts were about how little the room had changed over the years. Much like it’s occupant.

The elderly man dropped into his chair with a groan of discomfort, then affixed Luca with a piercing, icy stare.

“So, what sort of harebrained scheme do you have, General?” Gallios asked, cutting straight to the point. “And again, why are you telling me this? Do you need extra arms, or supplies? Because if you do, I’m sure you know by now that unless I have orders from the Marshall himself, I will not make an exception for you or any of the other generals.”

The general returned a thin smile. “Quartermaster, I’ve known you for the better part of… what is it, thirteen years now?”

“Sixteen, by the next moon. Sixteen years since the Battle of Florane.”

“A fair amount of time, I’d say. I know well enough that there are better ways to requisition supplies than from the military’s quartermaster, as strange as that may sound,” Luca chuckled, but Gallios’ expression didn’t budge. Aewyn often joked that Gallios had been born with either a frown or a glare on his face, but he knew better; it had definitely been a glare.

“Get to the point, boy. What do you want, or what do you want to tell me?”

“As you wish,” Luca sat up straighter, before dropping the smile and bridging his gloved fingers. “Unlike the battle at Golith’s Vale, our soldiers and defences are already mobilised. Based on their heading, the horde is heading towards the villagers fortified behind the Southern Wall. This means that the battle will most likely be fought around Stolwyn’s Head.”

“Your tactics seem too sound for my liking,” Gallios remarked sarcastically. “Too simple and straightforward to be one of your plans. What’s the twist? Why not open the gates, and invite them into the keep for negotiations and tea?”

“Jokes do not become you, quartermaster. No, our strategy will be very straightforward. We’ll fight them from the fort’s walls, using defensive positioning and our weaponry. I’m sure our mages will appreciate having the high ground for once, though I’m sure that things will change when the complication arise.”

“So what are these complications?”

“There aren’t any. For now.”

“For now?”

“Indeed. We’ve received no orders from His Majesty at this point in time.”

Gallios shot Luca a glare, his stern expression somehow growing more serious. “What are you implying, General Forsythe?”

The Lightblessed Commander grimaced, and glanced at the clock. He had a feeling they were going to be here for a while.

About fifty minutes after the meeting in the Baron’s estate, Luca finally arrived at the rendezvous point. Preparing and packing took slightly longer than expected, even though he’d already prepared himself a few hours prior. It only dawned on him now that he didn’t know how long the journey would take them, so Luca had decided to take some extra supplies. Better over prepared than under, after all.

However, the entirety of the delay couldn’t be attributed solely to his preparation. Luca wasn’t overly familiar with Keken, so it’d taken him a few minutes of walking before he’d realised that he was in fact heading towards the east side of the town. Luckily, he’d managed to wave down an overtly curious passerby for directions.

Despite his best efforts, there was little that could be done to hide the general state of his armor. While it wasn’t falling to pieces, the scarred and battered plate had seen better days. Many a smith had tried their best to restore the plate, but the simple truth of the matter was that it needed to be replaced. Sure, the armor was usable, but appearance-wise? Definitely not up to Alafaelian military standards. Not that it mattered any more, but Luca had standards. The former soldier had thrown a rough cloak around its collar, in an attempt to make it look less bare.

By the time he arrived, a few of their number had already gathered, along with the Baron’s representative and dark robed attendant, who was busy fastening the manacles to the elder’s ankles. Luca opted to remain silent, and rested his axe on the ground, blade first.

He listened closely as Arthon addressed the group, making a note of what foes to watch out for. Beasts and sentient life, by the sounds of it. Not especially specific, but now he knew to keep an eye on everything in the forest. Not that Luca had predicted any less; he hadn’t signed up with the expectation of being paid to take a lengthy, but relaxing stroll through the forest.

Speaking of which.

At the Goodman’s bidding, Luca spoke up. “While I’ve prepared some extra supplies, I’m afraid that I’m not familiar with the forest, nor our path to the outpost. How long will our journey take? And what sorts of creatures or enemies are we to expect?”

< Message edited by Kooroo -- 9/16/2019 20:53:02 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 34
9/16/2019 12:04:35   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

With the initial meeting adjourned, Karen chose to return to her room at the inn, eager to pack properly and set out. She quickly gathered her things and tossed them in her pack, paying little mind to how they were arranged. As she removed her hunting knife to sharpen it, she took pause, considering her party once again.

Will my lone blade really make a difference? I don’t think it will…

Fishing back through her pack, Karen removed a small wooden lockbox. She took a key from her belt, inserted, and turned it, savoring the soft click of the mechanism as the lid popped open. Within rested a wrist-sheath, holding a small black, thin black dagger. Karen removed the sheath and dagger and examined it. It hummed slightly as a faint tingle ran up her arm and through the rest of her body. Her legs ached, remembering the last time she had dared to use the potent tool.

Is it worth the risk?

Karen sheathed the dagger and strapped it to her wrist. There was no knowing what she would face in the woods, or how likely her teammates were to prioritize others over themselves. A risk was worth taking, if the alternative was death in the middle of nowhere.

She finished “packing”, left a generous tip for the inn, and strode out the door, excited for the coming hunt.

The road was already filled with her companions, some chatting, some waiting patiently. How many were anxious of what they would find in the forest? How many had people counting on them to return? Karen wasn’t. Karen didn’t. She was doing this because it was what she did, what she excelled at. Already she could feel her senses and instincts sharpening, every little sound and detail available to her.

This was her environment. Here she was comfortable. She had stories to tell of times like this, beasts felled deep within dark woods. Monsters slain within their caved lairs. With her now were soldiers, fighters, but how many were hunters? This knowledge gave her a bolster to her her previously waning self-confidence.

She approached the group and clapped her hands together. “So! Who’s excited to write a new story!”
Post #: 35
9/19/2019 22:22:32   

After relaying her wishes to the scribe, Ember turned on heel and departed from the chamber without further discourse. She swept through the castle corridors, leaving servants with heads bowed low and guards with tightened grips on their steel. While the Cinder Witch preferred to approach matters at a more leisurely pace, the appointed leader was not of the same mind. Yondrin Busill of the Dakorel Company had given the ragtag group of volunteers his first orders: they would be leaving with all due speed without discussion, without coordination between their numbers. All of which was fine by the sorceress, though she would need to be expedient in order to secure ample time for her final preparations.

The door to the bathing chamber slid open with a creak. A cloud of steam greeted the tiefling as she stepped across the threshold, one hand holding the towel wrapped around her close to her chest. The woman - most likely a maid or hired help of some sort - sitting in the pool stared mouth agape as the dancer strode silently across the water-laden floor. The young girl accompanying the woman had not yet noticed Ember’s presence, instead content with splashing in the bubbles around her. It was only with the gentle thud of Ember’s travel sack upon the stone bench that caught the lass’s attention. Surprise and shock flashed across her face before a beaming grin took its place. Always the young, Ember thought as she returned the smile, two shares innocent and one share foolish. The tiefing turned her gaze to the waiting woman, a look of disgust painted in wrinkles along her nose and corners of her eyes. The sorceress gave a smile to her as well...though she made it a point to show off those canines that were just too sharp for comfort. The girl threw more than a little fuss as she was lifted out of the bath by the caregiver who wasted no time in gathering their belongings. A loud clack accompanied their hasty exit, and Ember was left alone.


The dancer’s smile relaxed as set her towel down and strode over to the steaming pool. With a small splash, Ember entered the bath and gave a sigh. The water embraced her, its warmth tickling every inch of her skin. As her muscles relaxed, the tiefling’s spade-tipped tail slithered through the water to wrap around her right bicep, the bright striations gone after the little exhibition before the baron.

Baron Terex.

Ember chewed her lip as her thoughts turned to her latest employer. Terex had proven himself less a noble and more a brute who had learned he did not need to lay his hands on others to hurt them. Two had challenged him in that chamber, yet it had only been the old woman who was punished - or even dignified for a response. No act of mercy, no display of strength - the baron had done nothing at all when faced with someone whom he could not trod over. There was no love for the people, and this call for heroes was not out of desperation but rather to avoid the loss of his own forces.

Such a shame for the poor baron if not everything went as planned.

Another minute passed as the tiefling lay soaking in the heated water, her tail moving to massage away the collected tension. She was half-tempted to raise the temperature to her liking, though setting out on an arduous journey with one chronic pain was more than enough. Holding her breath, Ember dipped below the water’s surface. Thoughts of the excursion and the baron faded away as she sunk to the marble bottom below It could be quite some next time until her next bath - why not partake in a little indulgence?

Dressed in her ashen attire and travel sack slung over her shoulder, Ember approached the appointed meeting place. From the looks of it, she was the last arrival. The tiefling caught the tail end of the hardened huntress’s remark as joined her fellows.

“Write a story, yes,” Ember’s eyes darted from Karen to their field leader, “but I would also like to survive to read it. Do we have a plan of approach? Assigned roles and duties?”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 36
9/22/2019 22:20:37   
Eternal Wanderer

Arthon let his gaze rove slowly over the party assembled on the road, awaiting questions he had no idea if he could answer. It had been his experience, though admittedly there was little of it, that adventurers tended to pose some of the strangest queries, to fixate on details that others found irrelevant. It was hardly his place to judge, of course. After all, the goodman was merely a representative of the baron, and he had long become used to providing whatever was required of him.

Still, he was pleasantly surprised when the man who had identified himself as Luca spoke up. The large axe the man had rather barbarically conveyed into the baron’s mansion had been supplemented with battered but clearly functional armor. At first, Arthon had thought the man some sort of beserker, traipsing about with that ridiculous weapon and no more protection than his clothing offered. This, at least, allayed some concerns, particularly in combination with Luca's pointed - even sensible - questions.

Even better, there was one here who could provide just the information that the man was seeking. “Excellent questions. And I believe that Ranger Drevosa would be best suited to providing you those answers.”

Marietta blinked, startled from her reverie by the sound of her name. She darted a glance left and right, grateful for the hood that shaded her face as it flushed with embarrassment. Whetting her lips and tightening her grip on the reassuring solidity of her bowstave, the forester nodded. “The logging road to Pinewatch runs three days through the forest,” she could not avoid a look at Dorothy - and more to the point, the fetters about her ankles - as she continued, “but we will travel more quickly than the supply caravans. Likely it will be two days to the camp. Traveler’s wells are set along the route, so we will have a supply of fresh water available.”

For a moment the half-elf hesitated, catching sight of another figure approaching - Adamantina, one of Goodwoman Hausenbergerdorff’s workers. The ranger mentally kicked herself, taking up her explanation swiftly as the younger woman drew the alchemist aside, where they were joined a moment later by Arthon in a quiet conference. She had an idea - a hope - what this talk was about, and drawing the others' focus might spare the older woman some embarrassment. “Game in the forest has grown scarce and wary. It is hard to say what, if anything we may see. In normal times we might expect wolves, deer, perhaps even a bear or boar, along with other denizens of the fringes. Of the creatures of the deep forest… they are rarely sighted on the path to Pinewatch. If we are lucky we will see no sign of them at all.

“As for bandits, there have been no reports of brigands of any stripe between Pinewatch and Keken for… near six months. Complaints of highwaymen and robbers have been declining nearly as long.” Marietta paused again, considering her words. “The Piege is… emptying. It is as though life itself flees the forest.” Her voice was quiet as she finished, shaking her head slightly.

Marietta ran her fingers lightly along the string of her bow, an old nervous gesture of which she was almost entirely unaware. She did not really mind covering for the fact Dorothy was turning back from the expedition, and the forester had needed to answer the questions directed to her by Arthon. But any relief she garnered from the former was drowned out by the wish that Yondrin would say something - anything really. Instead, the orc remained silent, and the half-elf forced out another reply, feeling the others' eyes on her, expectant, demanding. “I will be on point. Follow me and stick to the path.”

She turned her back on their gazes, offering a swift, apologetic glance to Ember as she did so. “We have a lot of ground to cover, and we are burning daylight here. We can talk while we walk.”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 37
9/24/2019 22:28:55   

The others arrived shortly, preparations complete and just a few formalities to go before they could begin the journey into the forest. Salindrel stood with his back against the rough bark, listening as everyone gathered, justice was meted out and questions were asked and answered. Growing restless with waiting, he clambered up into the lower branches and sent vibrations out towards the woods.

They would set out shortly, heading into an unknown situation filled with many potential dangers. The blind elf sniffed the air from the direction of their path, a weight settling in the pit of his stomach. His skin prickled and a cold sweat beaded on his brow as he reached out to the forest, his breathing becoming shallow and harsh. He could feel the ill winds flowing from their destination, strangeness coming from beyond the city.

The druid turned back to the others, just in time for Marietta to start leading the way into the forest. He whistled down to the others and called out, “I plan to scout ahead, moving through the trees. I’ll take the right side of the path if someone else wants to go left.” He shifted back to the west, letting his magic take on its normal thrum, before dropping out of the tree and heading down the right side of the path. Quickening his pace, he passed by Marietta, giving her a quick nod as he did.

“Sure, I can cover the left side. How should we notify the rest should we encounter something?”

The elf turned to the side to take in the black soul of Karen approaching. She should excel at covering the other side. He grinned her way, asking, “How good are your bird calls?”

She returned the smile in earnest. “What kind?”

“I prefer the tropical birds, but I’m unsure how common they are in these parts. How about the bluejay?” He wondered for a moment what kinds of birds might have lived in these woods before the calamity that seemed to have broken the woods. A hint of sadness crept into his smile and he fought back a tear that tried to push its way down his cheek.

Karen nodded in response, his sadness unnoticed. “Yes, the bluejay should work just fine.”

With a quick nod and a warbled call, he vaulted off into the forest on the right, pushing out his vibrations to their furthest extent, searching around him for any dangers that might approach them. He was grateful to have someone else watching their other flank, for who knew what dangers might lurk among this unnatural place. Whatever it was, he would be among the first to know.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 38
10/1/2019 21:35:32   

As he left the Baron’s estate, a shadow of doubt lingered at the back of the pathfinder’s mind. A mysterious box from the company themselves, all while the Baron threatened to call the entire expedition off despite the immeasurable risk the seeming situation brings forth, with the unknown dangers within the forest lurking about.

This doubt would only creep closer as the Goodman gave further details about the group’s mission. Even the pathfinder’s stoic demeanor softened, indicated by a slight eyebrow raise, once Arthon revealed the dying soldier’s words.

Superstition was nonsense. Clearly the dying soldier had been under some hallucinogenic properties.

“I will treat this mission diligently all the same,” the orc muttered.

Luca, upon Arthon’s call for questions, took the opportunity to ask how long the trip will take and what to expect. Marietta, in turn, swiftly provided what she could.

Meanwhile, Karen’s happy-go-lucky attitude barely registered in Yondrin’s mind. In fact, he grew a bit spaced out until he heard the group was to be moving. He wasn't interested in telling a story. With a slight tap at the ground with his foot, Ember butted in and asked… some surprisingly straight-forward and reasonable questions. Shortly after regaining his situational awareness, the pathfinder shifted his attention to the woman, stating “as swiftly and steadily as we can. No rushing, but also no meandering either.”

He raised a hand towards Marietta, “Me and Marietta can steadily direct the way.” His gaze slightly shifted to Dorothy for a fleeting moment, who apparently was being led off elsewhere. “As for our point lead, I believe Luca and I will be upfront in order to deal with anything in our path swiftly. If the need calls for it, we can dedicate the likes of Karen or Marietta to scout ahead.”

He scratched his chin. “I assume you are good with people. If you are able to… diffuse situations, be it within the group or any hostile parties, it would make the trip all the smoother.”

As he spoke to Ember, and to the group at large, dedicating roles, the pathfinder peered at the bandit lookalike. Had the heavily dressed man ever said what he could do? “Pardon me, Ember.”

The orc raised his voice to the man. “If I may be so forward, could you perhaps explain what you’re able to do? You seem to have merely offered up your life, so as to partake on this trip, without giving us a clue of your capabilities. It would be preferable to know your skills so we know how you handle situations.”
DF  Post #: 39
10/12/2019 0:16:06   


They were going into a cursed forest half-strung.

Ember nodded in feign approval at Yondrin’s words as he excused himself to speak with the masked individual. At the very least, the Dakorel leader deemed it wise to learn the capabilities of Raithe. Why every member of this scouting party had not been addressed in this manner was beyond the tiefling. The skillsets of members such as Marietta and Luca may seem to be rather straight-forward based on their appearances, but the Cinder Witch was all too familiar with how they could be deceiving. Even now, Ember had been tasked as a “hostilities diffuser” in spite of her brief performance with fire in the baron’s hall. The sorceress was unsure if her arcana was being ignored or deemed unworthy of note.

Or which was more insulting.

As the motley group began to splinter off, Ember strode up to the large man known as Luca. Armor worn yet serviceable not unlike the man wearing them, the warrior cut the figure of a hardened mercenary in need of work. His rather blunt questions about their journey forward confirmed that this was not his first venture into danger. So far he seemed to be a steady asset, though experience and skills were not all that deemed one a good companion.

The tiefling stopped a short pace from Luca, just a half-step closer than one would normally take approaching a stranger. Sufficient to be noticed but not invasive enough to warrant true suspicion; only plague the mind with half-doubts. The dancer beamed a smile at the great man even as she took care to watch for the slightest tension in his posture or movements within his face. Discovering who was comfortable (and who was not) around her was sometimes more important than their capabilities.

“Seems to me that you are to be our shield on this journey.” The sorceress gave a curtsy, raising the edges of her cloak in graceful mimicry of a dress. Her burning eyes rose to meet his. “Allow me to be the first to thank you - the hardest work is often unseen and unpraised.”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 40
10/21/2019 21:28:34   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

It was calming to be in the woods again. Each leap brought her up into the leaves and branches. Each swing brought her hurtling back down to earth. Her eyes darted in every direction, watching for any sign of movement. True to Marietta’s description, there was nothing. The only sights were the green of the woods. The only sounds, the wind whistling past her as she lept and dove.

She kept the rest of the party in sight, careful not to overshoot them and lose herself in the unknown. Altogether they seemed like they would be quite reliable, as long as none of them tried to tear anyone else apart. Her initial impression of Salindrel had not been the greatest, but he seemed proficient and surprisingly friendly for someone that had seemed so eager to avoid the eyes of the crowd.

She shot a glance to the right, where he was scouting parallel to her. She couldn’t see him, but she was still sure he was there, ready to sing the song of the bluejay at the first sign of trouble.

The bluejay.

Karen stumbled as her thoughts caught up to her. She twisted as she fell, and rolled back up to her feet rather than collapse into a tangled heap. Perhaps they hadn’t noticed while they were discussing. Perhaps their own speech had distracted them from realizing. But the woods were silent. Overbearingly so. No critters scurried about. No animal footsteps broke branches beneath them.

And no bird calls echoed through the trees.

If the point of the bird call was to remain inconspicuous, and blend in with the denizens of the wood, it would certainly prove less effective when there were no denizens to blend in with.

And if something intelligent happened to be the cause of the forests woes… it would certainly find them the instant they tried to raise the alarm.
Post #: 41
10/31/2019 20:58:19   

Three days travel, with only wildlife and fauna around them. At least that would make any threat fairly obvious. The supplies he had packed would be plenty for him alone, but all he could do was hope that the others were similarly self sufficient. Although judging by his company’s arms, hunting wouldn’t be an issue if they were as proficient as they seemed. Appearances were often deceiving, however. That was probably a statement to remember, considering the mystique of the situation they were venturing into.

Whilst Marietta answered his questions, someone from the town had escorted the elederly alchemist away. A neighbour, friend or relative, perhaps? Luca had only caught an exchange of words and then unmissable sound of chains clinking and clattering away. At the sound of the chains and Marietta’s evident hesitation, he’d angled his head slightly, as though acknowledging the commotion. Eventually the rattling and footsteps faded into the distance, and then Luca glanced back, confirming the alchemist’s departure.

And thus, they were six.

One down before they had started, though considering the senior’s demeanour in the presence of the nobility it was expected. That didn’t mean that Luca supported the Baron’s decision, however. Far from it. From his experience, the nobility were very good at strutting about pretentiously, flaunting their power at whim. Most were rather useless when push came to shove and it was time to actually do anything. Most... but not all of them.

The group started off, preparing to move out to the forest beyond. The hellspawn, Ember, brought up a fairly sensible question that their leader effectively shrugged off. Luca had a few thoughts on that matter, but decided to bite his tongue and stay silent. It wasn’t his place to worry about such matters; the privilege of command wasn’t his in this land.

Even so, the fact that the group was unsure of each others abilities was not a very good start to the job. The former general wasn’t especially fussed about their positioning or lineup. Each of his colleagues didn’t seem to care much for it, and their job wasn’t to escort a caravan or a fragile package. If the alchemist had still been with them, then that would have been a different story, but the woman had looked capable enough unburdened. On the off chance—or rather when they ran into foes, Luca was half sure that the orc would give orders. But to know what orders to give you needed to know what your soldiers were capable of. Assuming wasn’t good enough.

In a military unit, it was fairly obvious what a person’s skills were. Rank, position and arms usually spoke for themselves, with only the latter being remotely useful here. And even arms weren’t especially good for deducing a person’s abilities or worth to their cause. Luca himself was the textbook example in this case. The knowledge that Marietta had displayed attested to her knowledge of their surroundings, and the ease and grace to which Karen and Salindrel climbed and swung (and fell, Luca noted amusedly) through the forest gave some insight to their physical ability. The hellspawn seemed to be charismatic to a certain degree, but he was sure that she had more blatant and useful abilities. The display in their employer’s estate could be her limit or barely a fraction of magic for all they knew.

On that note, as though provoked by that last musing, Ember turned and sauntered over towards him, following with a pleasant curtsy and gratitude for his future efforts. Luca returned the gesture with a raised eyebrow and a smile, making a mental note to be polite despite the hellspawn’s demonic nature. Everyone deserves a chance.

“No need for thanks, especially for services yet to be rendered,” Luca answered with a nod of his head. “And I’m certain that there’ll be others here who will be more worthy of your praise.”

Luca took the opportunity to give the tiefling a quick glance over. Though most of what lay before him was practically the definition of the word ‘alien’, the mercenary's eyes honed in on her eyes, horns, and the fiery streaks on her left arm. The right arm remained dark, its pattern as bleak as an unused hearth.

“So Ember, what skills can you provide that will benefit of our little group? Judging from your display in our employer’s estate, I presume that you won’t be simply mediating with any wildlife or foes we encounter.”
AQW Epic  Post #: 42
10/31/2019 23:22:10   
Eternal Wanderer

It hurt her to see the Piege Forest this way.

Marietta could not claim the sort of instinctive connection to the wilds ascribed to full-blooded elves, but she loved these woods. She loved its shaded glens and unexpected vales, the way that sunlight played through the leaves at dawn, how the stars shone overhead on cool, clear nights.

But now the forest was silent. There was no birdsong, no distant hunting cries, not even the dry, rasping buzz of cicadas or grasshoppers.

It was not a natural silence. To the forester it was an emptiness, a vacuous lack of anything, as if the wind itself held back so that every leaf was perfectly still. And yet, the worst part for the half-elf was that the emptiness - visible, tangible as it was - did not feel empty. What was most unsettling was the sensation of being watched, of a silent, considering… something... observing the little group as they progressed deeper in.

The forester had felt tension in the woods before, but it had always been a passing thing, or at least, easily explained by the presence of predator or another. But over the last two months, as reports - or the lack thereof - from Pinewatch had grown more erratic... That tension had become more prominent, more... menacing.

Even so, it had never been so strong.

She let out a soft, deliberate exhalation, realizing she had been holding her breath. This is your forest. Marietta drew an arrow gingerly, settling its nock against the string. Her fingers ran lightly over the fletches as she drew reassurance from the feel of the bow’s wood, warm beneath her hand. No matter what doubts she might harbor personally, she had to appear steady, competent. The ranger had no doubt Ember would see through that sort of facade in a moment, but it would not help the others to see her spooked; they were barely into the trees yet, this was hardly a time to be jumping at shadows.

A muffled crash from just ahead of the group tested Marietta’s resolve on that mark. The half-elf was unable to prevent herself from twitching her bow up to a ready position, hooded head swiveling in the direction of the noise, only to frown slightly as she realized the sudden racket had come from Lane. Whatever had happened, the matter did not seem like a serious mishap, but it did make the forester wonder if the others were also getting the feeling they were being watched.

Relax, Marietta, the half-elf admonished herself. You know every tree and rock between here and the first well. Just keep your eyes open; there will be enough to worry about tonight.

She startled awake from the dream of fire and blood, choking and gasping. Her mouth was filled with the taste of ash and she could feel the burn of cinders, hot and scorching as they singed her. For a moment she struggled mightily with the sheets, certain they were not cotton but chains of iron binding her down.

Reason slowly overcame panic, leaving her laying amid sweat-drenched sheets as tremors of useless adrenaline coursed through her limbs. She drew in slow, deep breaths, letting them out in faint pants as her fingers flexed against the bedding.

It did little to help, and nausea came hard on the heels of useless, remembered terror.

Shivering, she fought her way out from beneath the covers, staggering slightly as she padded through the starlit dimness of the small cabin. Light glimmered faintly from the surface of the basin standing by the window, and for several moments she was transfixed, staring as if hypnotized by the play of stellar radiance over the water’s surface.

Her eyes were luminous in the gloom, peering into the bowl as her head slowly tilted to one side. The motion gave her the appearance of an inquisitive animal, or one listening for a faint and distant sound. After nearly a minute she blinked slowly, finally leaning forward to dip her hands into the basin and rub her wetted fingers over her face.

Water flowed across her visage, following the dark lines that ran like tear-tracks along either side of her mouth. In the quiet, broken only by the murmur of liquid cascading back into the washbasin, her voice was nearly a whisper. “Secrets, invisible but to star light and flame sight.”

She lifted her gaze, looking out the window. “They’re coming. I suppose I had best make ready to receive them.”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 43
12/4/2019 16:27:25   

Salindrel felt at ease for the first time since entering the Barony, finally in his element, despite the unfortunate circumstances that brought him here. His mind wandered to the teachings of Keeper Immeral as he allowed his instincts to propel him through the forest, moving seamlessly from ground to tree and back again, his vibrations a constant pulsing about him.

He could remember Immeral spending many hours working with his apprentice, impressing on him the importance of diplomacy and building rapport to aid in his investigations. He could still remember some of his first times accompanying his master, which turned out to be disasters. Unintended comments, improper actions, and poor reactions were only a few of the foibles he had been lectured on over his training. He really needed to do better for this first solo mission.

A new presence appeared within the bubble he was creating, shaking him out of his thoughts. He paused on a tree limb as a lupine image returned to him from his vibrations. He whistled out towards his partner to the west, pulling his bow from his back and creating a tunnel of vibrations towards the creature. He trusted that Karen would slow the group and perhaps they could sneak past this denizen of the Piege Forest. He breathed out slowly, nocking an arrow to his bow and pointed it at the wolf’s forehead, ready to react to what the creature chose to do.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 44
12/14/2019 23:54:26   

The warrior spoke and gave a bow of his head in feign reverence, his hungry eyes wasting no time in devouring every aspect of her form. They lingered on her fiercer features; those that betrayed the tiefling’s hellish heritage. His intrigue was sparked not by the woman but the devil before him. Ember did not allow any sign of dismay besmirch her warm smile. So be it. If it was the devil Luca wanted, it would be the devil he received.

“Oh, I prefer to use my tongue to stay out of trouble,” the dancer said as she fell a half step closer towards the large man in their march. The man would have to be devoid of all sense of smell to not catch wind of the sulfur about her now. “I can be quite persuasive when pleasantries are on the table. And when they’re not…” the Cinder Witch trailed off and exhaled. Thin streams of blue-white flames swept through the air in her breath’s wake. The vibrant veins crossed and spiraled around one another, seeking to grasp all they could in the their fiery clutches. Wilting as quick as they blossomed the cerulean array dissipated, leaving only the scent of ash lingering behind..

She rose her cinder gaze to meet Luca’s, her eyes seemingly pulsing against her coal hide. “...melting a bit of ice is far from what I am capable of.”

Movement up ahead caught the attention of the sorceress. She snapped her gaze to Marietta even as the ranger was already lowering her bow. Something had put her on alert, even if for only a moment. Oh, to play the thorn one moment and the rose the next. “Is everything quite all right?” Ember called out to the elf. “Or should we be expecting company?”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 45
12/21/2019 15:20:43   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

The whistle rang out, loud and true. The shrill cry of the bluejay, sung by her partner off to the right. Salindrel had found something. Unfortunately, this meant it had likely found him, but all Karen could do now was warn the others. She leapt swiftly through the branches, backtracking a bit to rejoin the party. It did not take long. The group came into view, and Karen descended from her high perches, landing before the group gently and quietly. She raised a hand to stop them from advancing any further and spoke in a low voice.

“Salindrel has found something, off to our right. I’m not certain what. We can try to edge around it, or we can brave forward, but we should approach more carefully regardless. If we’re lucky, it’s nothing more than a lost animal. If we’re not, this could get messy.”
Post #: 46
1/5/2020 22:15:14   
Eternal Wanderer

The wolf stood stock still, unmoving but for the slow rise and fall of its flanks. It was breathing - alive and well, so it seemed - even blinking from time to time. Still, the arboreal predator did not so much as flinch at Salindrel's whistle, nor the sound of the group closing in on its position. It only stood, staring back down the path towards the city.

Of course she had noticed.

Marietta suppressed a sigh, and the momentary question of how it was Ember always seemed to catch her on the back foot. At least with her hood up the others would have a harder time seeing the flush of embarrassment coloring her cheeks. Still, the half-elf was aware of the eyes upon her, and consciously forced herself to relax. The ranger even managed a half-hearted smile. “If a forest this deserted can be alright, then-”

This time the sound did not catch her off-guard. Marietta pivoted, breaking off mid-sentence as her keen ears caught the sound of Lane’s approach. Reaching up, the forester tugged her hood down - reflexively shaking her hair free - and glanced to either side of the path swiftly. “Something, or some one? There hasn’t been a single animal sighted this close to Keken in at least a week.”

Lowering her bow and striding by Lane, the half-elf moved quickly. She passed Yondrin at nearly a jog, without so much as looking to the orc for confirmation. "We have to see what it is."

She gasped softly, leaning forward and bracing a hand against the door. “Not now. Not now.” Her hand curled into a fist, nails biting into her palm as she felt it, all of it, surging up around her. “No, no, no, please… Not now...”

Gritting her teeth she drew her head back and slammed her forehead against the wood frame. Stars burst in blinding coruscations of red, blue, and black as she reeled; the taste of iron flooded her mouth as she bit into the meat of her own tongue. Her knees turned to water, her stomach flipped nauseously, and she slid slowly, limply down to a seated position, braced against the opposite post of the door. “Ground and center,” she chanted, her voice thready as her eyes rolled closed. “Ground and center. Ground and center… Ground… and…”

“I don’t understand…”

Marietta stared at the wolf. It was a lean, hungry-looking thing, more skin and bone than anything else on close inspection. And it was… simply standing there. The half-elf's hand rose, stroking down along her braid before picking at it distractedly, the movement devoid of even the slightest awareness as she contemplated the creature. For the wolf’s part, it seemed to stare back at her; really, it was more as if the beast was staring through her. Gathering herself, she waved a hand slowly - and a touch cautiously - in front of the wolf's eyes, then shivered.

“It’s not natural.” Obvious, surely, as observations went, but Marietta was trying to reconcile the strangeness, the unnatural stillness. It was just… wrong. The wolf should be running, attacking them if it felt cornered, not… whatever it was doing now.

The forester shook her head, suppressing another shiver of unease and stepping back in case the others wanted a closer look at the creature. Turning away, the half-elf shook her head. “It’s just… not right.”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 47
2/3/2020 17:37:35   

One would assume those who sign up to a monumental task would go through with it. Where in return, gain great rewards that will keep them going for the long run. Yet, with a quick turn, Yondrin sees that the man is not even there. Nothing is consistent, plans evaporating like lakes in an encroaching desert.

Spear in hand, the pathfinder marched along, ignoring the fact that one of his supposed comrades completely deserted him. Muttering curses under his breath, he kept his eyes deadlocked ahead. Despite his outward uncaring demeanor, the orc’s opinions grew more and more jaded of this expedition.

As time went on, he heard mentions of something to the right. His hand hovered to his holster, in preparation for what is about to happen. Shifting to a lighter stance, his steps began to go quiet. He rather ignore the beast. If provoked, it would just be a waste of time.

Yet in a light jog, Marietta went past him. The orc sighed, stepping lightly following behind. Spying ahead, his eyes gave purchase to a wolf. A strange wolf; a creature that no longer acted like one of its kind should. Marietta and the beast merely stared at each other, time ticking away bit by bit.

As Marietta stepped back, Yondrin tilted his head, brow furrowed. “The forest is dying,” he said softly. “Dying of impurities creeping along, destroying its very core.”

“Something is amiss, something that is likely higher than our calling. Whatever, let’s push on,” the orc said nonchalantly. “No use in letting terrible sights stall us.” His eyes still settle on the wolf, making sure if it decides to become a rather rabid beast. “If anyone thinks they can inspect this and gain clues on what is the plague of the forest however, go right on ahead. Particularly if you have the need to solve the illness. That said, know the chance of retaliation from this animal if you do so.”

Once Yondrin mentioned the right to attempt such a task, his thoughts wandered to the small container he was given. If there was more to this than he signed up for, his contract to the company shall be renegotiated. Especially if the Dakorel are attempting to hide their own activities with what could be inside. If they were to hide things, he will still work as long as he is allowed a far more stable line of employment. If not, just another job done.
DF  Post #: 48
3/27/2020 12:17:19   

The ex-general smiled to himself. Oh, if his old subordinates and fellow commanders in Alafael could see him now; fraternising and travelling with both an orc and a demon. They’d probably have called him daft or insane. Luca had no doubt that they would have supported his choices all the same, but even he was feeling a bit wary of this escapade. Still, at least they’d have some magic at their disposal. Unsavoury magic, but it was better than no magic; especially now that they were down their alchemist. Whatever use the old wo—

A shrill bird call from up ahead interrupted his thoughts. Karen dropped down from the treetops and, after a quick exchange of words, Marietta hurried on ahead. Luca narrowed his eyes and his grip preemptively tightening on his greataxe, then strode past the orc and after the elf.

The ‘something’ turned out to be a wolf. A thin and mangy mutt which had probably seen better days, like the rest of the forest. For a wild animal, it didn’t seem particularly threatening. Placid, actually. Perhaps the beast was ill?

As the elf gave the animal a closer look, Luca glanced around at the foliage surrounding them. Something was off around here, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. The forest was still and quiet, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Yet...

The mercenary frowned.

No, that was it. It was quiet. He hadn’t caught on before, but there wasn’t any sound coming from the wildlife that was… supposedly around them? Granted, he wasn’t an expert on forests or nature, so there might have been further differences between Alafael’s western forest and the Piege. But this was unnatural. There was nothing coming from the trees around them; no birdsong, nor buzzing, no movement. It was just… still. Silent, like a forgotten graveyard.

And this wolf. There was something very wrong with the animal as well. He walked forward and stopped a meter-and-a-half shy of the creature, staring down at it inquisitively.

Unperturbed, the hound ignored him and kept staring ahead.

Luca shifted his weapon off his shoulder, letting the greataxe fall to the ground in front of the wolf with a loud thump.

Nothing. Still no reaction. The creature didn’t even grace him with a blink.

Frowning, the ex-commander looked over his shoulder to the elven ranger in the trees and raised a hand; basically the universal sign for hold on a moment.

There was a beat and Luca had a vision of the elf’s milky-grey eyes. A smirk tugged at the corners of his mouth.

“Hold your arrow if you please, Forestwalker. I want to test something,” he said, keeping his eyes on the wolf. If the creature had heard him, then it either didn’t care or was a really good actor.

Raising the axe head, Luca slowly edged it towards the haggard-looking beast’s snout, watching for any movement or reaction. He stopped when it was but a single unit away, hovering the top in front of the beast’s unfocused eyes. It was as though the mutt was looking through the axe, ignoring it and staring at something that only it could see. Maybe a reality check was in order?

And with that thought, he prodded the wolf.

The change was instantaneous. As soon as the scratched and scarred metal touched fur, the beast snapped and bit in an abrupt display of aggression. Luca withdrew the blade and tensed, ready for the wolf’s retaliation...

Which never came. With the intruding axe gone, the mutt immediately went still again and stared off into the distance once more. It was as though time had been rewound and Luca had never irked the bony creature.

With a frown on his face, the former general raised the axe to level with the hound again and then moved it forward. This time he swept it to the wolf’s flank and then laid it flat along its side.

The wolf burst into movement once more, twisting and contorting as it tried to get its jaws around the axe head. He let the beast wrestle with his weapon for a moment before pulling it free from its teeth, brow furrowing in confusion when the wolf resumed its initial stance.

It was pretty obvious that something was very wrong. Disease? Witchcraft? Luca didn’t have a clue. The real question was whether or not this was related to their task. By the sounds of it, their brutish leader didn’t think so, nor did he believe that it was worth worrying about. Luca personally felt that sort of thinking was going to lead them into trouble, but the orc was the one in charge here.

At least he was somewhat lenient. Lenient enough to give them the opportunity to, uh, ’solve’ the illness.

Stepping to the side, Luca brought his other hand to meet its pair on the greataxe’s shaft and raised the weapon high above the wolf’s neck, his intent all too clear. The tall man held it there for a few moments, giving his party members ample opportunity to object or intervene.

Aside from a single nod from Karen, there was no other acknowledgement from the rest of the group. Luca widened his grip and set his eyes on the beast’s nape, then brought the greataxe crashing down.
AQW Epic  Post #: 49
3/30/2020 23:55:21   

Muscles tensed and hand itching to let the projectile fly, Salindrel instead waited for the others, keeping himself tensed and ready up in the tree. His focus was solely on the beast below and so it was with surprise that he heard his name called by one of his fellows, a white soul. He let the bowstring go lax, still keeping it ready if the creature were to finally act.

A breath passed. And another. And then without warning, the sounds of violence emanated from the animal, swift and deadly as a storm. The elf snapped back to ready, nocking arrow to bow and preparing to release, sending down a steady stream of vibrations to pinpoint the creature. And just as suddenly as the movements began, they ended.

Bow at the ready, Salindrel stood frozen, beads of sweat forming on the brow as he strained to sense what was happening. The large white orb signifying his comrade moved to the side of the creature and the forester witnessed as the creature was tipped on its side, erupting in sudden violence once again. This time the elf was prepared and without thinking, loosed the arrow towards the creature. As it froze once again, he regretted the action, using his vibrations to push into the projectile’s path and threw it off course, into the trees to the west of the group.

He caught himself holding his breath and let it out slowly, reaching for another arrow as he awaited further motion from the beast. Moments passed and he could hear the sound of a blade whistle. He tensed, prepared for the inevitable sound of the edge meeting flesh. In the moments that passed, he reached out to the forest, seeking guidance. And all that returned to him was silence.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 50
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