Floating Castle RP

It's a castle....and it's floating! :O

Moderator: Floating Castle Mods

Floating Castle RP

Postby Pixelmage on Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:18 pm

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Welcome! To the Floating Castle! A hundred floors await for challengers. Will you be one of those to clear the Castle?

Each floor is composed of a large stretch of land, with varied features. You'll find rivers, caves and forests. Mountains, ravines and lakes. Standing on one floor, the above are invisible, as a blue sky stretches, making each place like a world of it's own. Each Floor Boss holds the gate to the next world and all the mysteries hidden there.

A city in the heart of the first floor will be your headquarters. At it's center, an area to grow and prosper as your base of operations, holding the portal to the rest of the Castle. Will you live in a shack made of planks or will you grow into a fortress? Assemble the keys from each Floor Boss, reach the Hundredth Floor and make the Castle yours!

For reference:
Character Sheets
Discussion Thread

Quest 0: Moo.
You spawn scattered around the city. Little life has gone through this place in decades. The ruins of an ancient capital stand resolute among the cows and sheep grazing in the courtyards. The sudden burst of new arrivals has startled the animals and started stampedes. There are smart explorers, and stupid adventurers. Be among the smart ones. As you are now, you are humans with sharp things and no big special powers, a thunderbolt at this point only goes so far in dazing and knocking down big animals. Even a single ox can be a challenge to the careless and the cattle are moving en masse, roving wildly seeking refuge from the new horde of people with pointy sticks.
Your goal: Reach the town square and organize a take over to seize control of the city so that you can actually live there. Be careful, play smart, and good luck.
Quest takers: Marcus (Guyshane) and Mirae (Tohrinha).
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Pixelmage
 
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Guyshane on Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:34 pm

The first quest completed! Tohrinha is a great collaborator! Stop bothering me Eli!

Marcus had signed up for a nice little jaunt to a magic castle. However when he was teleported there he found that he was in a city that aside from looking like no one had been there in years looked a lot like every other city on the continent. I swear if this is like that one time with the goblins that guy is going to regret it. The Spearman’s train of thought was interrupted by a stampede of cows one street over. Oh no not this again. It was at this point he noticed a short girl watching the cow stampede from another alley. “Excuse me miss?” He called out “My name is Marcus. Do you have the slightest idea what is going on here?”

Mirae glanced over at the sound of a person's voice, muffled over the sound of stampeding cows. A burly man carrying a large spear was calling out to her. So there were others here. She smiled, relieved at the company of someone other than the flood of cattle.
"I have no idea. Perhaps we should do something to stop these stampedes? If there are more people here, it's only a matter of time before someone gets in their way."

Wonderful, a reasonable human being! “Quite true and we should probably capture some of them at least if we don’t want to starve” He paused and thought for a moment. Lets see some of these alleyways are dead ends so we should be able to capture those that we can force into there. However we still would need a way to turn the stampede and make them go where we want them. If only we had a wheelbarrow that would be something. Or a mage a mage would work to. Having arrived at this conclusion Marcus asked: “You wouldn’t happen to be a mage would you? Also what is your name? I don’t think you mentioned it.”

"Ah, yes! I'm Mirae. As for being a mage . . . ." She turned to look down the street, which had begun to tremble. One of the thundering herds of cows was headed towards them. Mirae paused, tilting her head. A lightning bolt struck between them and the herd, a flash of light and sharp smell of ozone. The cattle startled, some turning back on the group, most fleeing down the nearest alley. She smiled a little. "And who are you?"

“I’m Marcus, I have a pointy stick” the fighter replied completely deadpan. “Its probably best that we work together for now. We should go check if that alley is a dead end. If it is we can create a pen to hold them in. Unfortunately that alley way was not a dead end and the cows were speeding away. Marcus let out a sigh. Its gonna be a long day

Mirae followed the fighter along the ruined streets. One would think stampeding cows would be easier to find. She was almost about to suggest they wait by a dead end and let the cows come to them when she heard . . . something down a side alley. One glance showed her the source. Horses.
"Hey, Marcus!" The spearman turned. "Can you ride?"

“Sure I can ride…in theory” Marcus replied muttering the last bit under his breath. “What was that?’
“Nothing”
All the same Marcus went over to inspect the horses. They look well-bred…I think…maybe. After a bit of examination additionally noticing that the horses were already saddled up. Alright who was in charge of this teleport spell and how much did they have to drink before they botched the whole thing up?After a bit of struggle and general awkwardness Marcus managed to get mounted up and tied the spear down with one of the saddle straps as he had no experience with horseback combat. He looked down at the mage. “I guess we can get going once you get mounted up.”

"Um, right." Mirae scrambled up onto one of the crumbling walls, looking down onto the group of horses. With noticeably more grace than her companion, she dropped a short distance onto a horse's back. "Well," she said, "let's go."
It had been years since Mirae had last rode, and the fighter seemed awkward on his mount, but they were moving more quickly. Soon she could hear another stampede approaching.

Marcus looked over at Mirae. “That alley way over there ends in a dead end” Indicating an alleyway to the left as he said it. “I’ll be honest I don’t know how much help I can be with this problem”

"I . . . might be able to . . ." She trailed off. I've turned them away before. . . . Mirae pulled back as the stampede drew closer, tilting her head and concentrating. The air before her flashed. The herd split, many turning down the dead end, where they formed a mingling crowd that rapidly ceased their panicked running in confusion. Mirae didn't want to think about any caught between the walls and their fellows. A few had turned around and kept running the other way, but most were milling around the alley to their left.
She grinned, looking over at Marcus. "There. And now we just have to do the same for the rest of them." Her grin faded. "I don't think I have enough lightning for that. There could be hundreds around here."

Marcus nodded. “One problem at a time, for now lets just catch as many of them as we can.” She nodded. The two proceeded to catch many of the roaming herds of cows until Mirae ran out of enough power to throw lighting bolts around. “ Well we caught enough for food” Marcus commented as they rode towards the edge of the city. It was then that they spotted all the cows that they hadn’t caught.

It was a massive herd easily big enough to cause chaos if they ever stampeded towards the city. Both of them stared in amazement. Both were thinking something along the lines of: What are we going to do. Marcus had an idea, it was easily the worst one he had ever had up to this point. "I'm going to stampede them off the edge."
Mirae stared. That-- How-- What-- What have I gotten myself into.

"I hope you realize you're insane. . . . That could work.” Marcus just grinned. ”Oh I know it’s insane.” He then immediately began riding towards the herd his spear in hand and yelling like a maniac. Instead of poking the cows with the spear her started smacking the members of the herd closest to them while making as much noise as possible this course of action frightened his horse which helped in his goal of scaring the cows. It worked and the massive herd began running full tilt towards the edge. Some realized the danger but it was too late. As the last of the cows went over the edge Marcus brought his horse around declared in a loud voice: “Behold! I am Marcus the Slayer of Cows!”
I say we nuke it from orbit...its the only way to be sure.
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Guyshane
 
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:45 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Pixelmage on Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:29 pm

Turn Rewards: Update your characters sheets with a new item and one more completion.
  • Guyshane ~ Mount: Horse.
  • Tohrinha ~ Mount: Horse.
The city is yours. A lot of hard work awaits in reclaiming the land and restoring the ruins to their former glory. But you have time and working hands, or would if some of the working force wasn't so foolish.

Floor 1 hosts no supernatural threats, only mundane animals wander the countryside. But don't get overconfident, a pack of wolves is still a very serious threat!

Quest 1: Wizard seeks food. Badly.
Apparently, a supposed master of the arcane powers believed that he could take on the world on his own. One of the Scouts saw when the Mage left for the woods north of the main area. He hasn't returned yet, and alone he surely won't.
Your goal: Locate the Mage and bring him back safely, if at all possible.
Quest Takers: Darren (Blurred_9L) and Alexander Curtiss (Endless Sea).

Quest 2: No-man's land.
The city is a big place, and the ruins are more hospitable in some places than in others. Shady scoundrels plot in the less friendly areas, raiding supplies that should be shared among all and slowly creating a force to make the whole city theirs. Their main asset is the old warehouse, where they found some finer weapons. Mostly Scouts, but with the odd Mage and Fighter in their numbers.
Your goal: Seize control of the ruined warehouse so that all can have access to the goods. Will you outsmart and trap the opposition? Find a way to make them work for you, somehow?
Quest Takers:Seire "Kaitou" Valefar (AMimsyBorogove) and Giselle (narrativedilettante).

Quest 3: Greed.
Someone is terrorizing the central areas of the city. Claiming for himself the title of king of the new society, he hoards resources to himself and bullies people into working for him. Just because you're big and strong does not mean you can do that!
Your goal: Stop the hoarding. Will you teach the loud and arrogant jerk the value of teamwork or show his... Loyal subjects...? What real fear looks like?
Quest Takers: Ben (Qara-Xuan Zenith) and Hector Erastus (Adell).

Quest 4: Riot Squad [Written by Qara-Xuan Zenith]
In the darker alleyways of the city, riots are breaking out, and people are getting hurt. A couple of shadowy figures seem to be pulling the strings that lead to these violent, destructive outbreaks, though to what end no one can say. In the last riot, three people were killed and two families' homes and livelihoods were destroyed.
Your Goal: Put an end to the riots. Will you find those at the heart of it? If so, how do you ensure that their reign of terror ends? Or will you seek out their reasoning and resolve the motivation for the fights?
Quest Takers: Anjali Torvantine (eli_gone_crazy) and Fade (Pixelmage)

General notes on quest taking, I leave many details unsaid. Those things are open for you to write about. Take for instance Quest 1. Rescue target is a no-description-given Mage from the city. I didn't specify his choice of skills, or what he looks like, only his gender as a male due to making the description too bad to read with an "it". Since he's from the city, his power level is the same as everyone's, but everything else is up to Blur and Endless. That same logic applies to all quests.

Play smart, good luck and have fun!
Last edited by Pixelmage on Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
User avatar
Pixelmage
 
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Qara-Xuan Zenith on Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:53 pm

Quest 3: Greed
(Adell is awesome and fun to write with. Also, there is one tiny clue as to who wrote what in this. Let's see if you can find it!)


Hector sat alone at the counter of the pub, mug of ale in hand. The rustle and bustle of the pub seemed to put a happy grin on the green-haired swordsman’s face as he relaxed as best he could atop his stool, keeping his heavy blade sheathed atop his back. Most establishments probably would have asked the man to remove his weapon upon entering, but this place had just barely begun opening for business now and the owner was a bit intimidated by the man. Hector never did anything to scare him, per se, but common sense indicated that you just did not want to mess with a man who carried around a five-foot-long blade.

With a hardy laugh to himself, he took a large swig of his mug, before laying it atop the counter with a bit of a thud. Moments like this always made the swordsman happy to be the adventuring type; how could any man or woman enjoy their alcohol without working through the hardship of adventuring first? Going on until your feet could not go any further, that was when it tasted the best for Mr. Erastus. Although, today was an exception to the rule; today he was taking his time to adjust to the new city before he prepared the exploration of this magical land he had journeyed to. Would this place be a step up from the last area he had adventured to? Only time would tell.

The sound from around the pub, in the meantime, would keep the tall man company as he hummed along to its noise like it was music. Faintly, however, the rhythm was being knocked off course. Voices from outside were interrupting Hector’s little moment, causing an eyebrow to twitch uncomfortably. Instinctively, the man leaned closer to the noise trying to figure what was going on outside. After his head invaded the personal space of another bargoer long enough for the guy to get creeped out and move, the swordsman faintly made out the sounds of a loud, obnoxious-sounding individual.

“Lord Gwrtheyrn requires your attention, serfs,” One demanding voice claimed.

“Lord?” Hector thought, “There’s royalty in this city already? My, that was fast…”

“Everyone, outside now!” The voice demanded, “It is time to pay your due to your lord!”

More curious than anything else, Hector finished his mug of ale and obliged with the voice. Of the people in the pub, he was perhaps one of the only ones who did not know what was happening. Unlike Hector, they recognized the voices and knew this was Gwrtheyrn’s daily trip around this area of the city, where he forcibly collected a tax of items or money from the commoners within the area. One individual raised their hand to protest Hector going outside to see these people, but hesitated for too long to say anything.

What the swordsman stepped out into was a little performance, it seemed. Two men in leather armor and sheathed weapons walked down the road, one on each side, going from person to person with a large sack. “We are here to collect taxes and gifts for your king, Lord Gwrtheyrn,” One of them explained to some of the fearful onlookers. Further examination of the scene saw two more armored men standing in front of a very well-dressed and eccentric older gentleman.

A cocky grin adorned his face as he flamboyantly extended his hands out to his subjects. “It truly is an honor to be your king. I promise I will use your proceeds well…” he cackled. Hector was not exactly the brightest candle in the city, but even he could tell something was a bit off with all of this. The people seemed fearful to hand out what little they had, only for it to be snatched away greedily by this Lord’s goons.

“ ‘and it over, ‘and it over!” One of the men said, shoving a frail-looking woman to the side as he snatched whatever her “tax” was.

“I’m starting to think this lord is not as honest as he appears…” the swordsman muttered somewhat absent-mindedly.

“Ya think?” a commoner standing next to him replied, sarcastically.

“Yes, I believe he is actually using these men to hoard this city’s supplies.” Hector sincerely answered.

The commoner stared at the swordsman awkwardly. “Yeah…I, I know.” The man shook his head at the dumb response.

“Ey, you two. Quit the yapping.” One of the goons interrupted, shoving the sack towards the two. “You ‘eard the man, drop the goods into the sack, support yer king.” The commoner, fearful, threw a small necklace he had into the sack and dove back into the pub in fear. “You too, now, green hair.” The man threateningly shoved the bag towards Hector as well.

“Hmmm,” The swordsman thought for a second, scratching the rough skin of his chin. The goon narrowed his eyes as he watched Hector closely. Seconds passed, and tension rose as some of the other people started to notice that Hector was not placing anything in the bag. “I don’t believe I’m truly a citizen here, yet.”

“ ’at’s what I thou-- wait, what?” The gruff-looking tax collector coughed out, confused by the statement.

“You see, a man like me could never ally himself with one land, one kingdom.” Hector proclaimed. “I’m an adventurer, good sir; I am loyal to my heart and nothing else. I’ve been to many places, and I do believe tax collection is only for those who are a part of a kingdom. In fact,” he argued, “I’d reckon most of us just got here recently, correct? Is there really a king to be established this early in this city's restoration?”

“I… uh… what?” The goon shook his head angrily. “Just put what you got in the bag, got it!? This is not up to some debate, unless you want things to get rough.”

A grin crawled across Hector’s face as he leaned forward slightly towards the other man, clearly unintimidated. “How about, you just give back the stuff you took from these people. We don’t need a king who bullies around his subjects.” His eyes lowered, focusing on the placement of this guy’s weapon. “…The only thing I’m willing to give up to a man like that is my fist… uh, to his face. Ahem. That is to say, I would punch him.”

“All right, ‘at’s it!” The other man, furious now, dropped the sack to the ground and went for the sheathed sword on his side. Hector had been watching though, waiting for that exact moment. The man’s right hand fell upon the hilt of his blade having just enough to time to say, “I warned--” before Hectors fist came in contact with his nose, sending the man head under ass into the middle of the road. As the man stumbled out into the middle of the road, Hector pursued, shaking his hand a bit from the impact of the punch.

The man scrambled to his feet and clumsily began pulling his sword from his side as Hector approached him rather calmly. By the time the weapon was removed, the green-haired man was already right next to the guy, and grabbed hold of his wrist with his left hand, before smacking the weapon away with his right. It pattered to the ground safely away from both of them as Hector shoved the man further away from it. “How do you like being pushed around?” he asked as he shoved the man again, clearly the stronger of the two. He attempted to push the guy one more time, but this time the goon was ready and threw his fist into Hectors face. Taking a step back from the hit, Hector shrugged it off with a cocky “Not bad,” before raising his fists up to continue his brawl with the man.

He figured by now, the other “guards” would have been on him by now, but apparently something else was distracting them. Hector had no idea what it was until suddenly the other tax collector came rolling down the road past him, his sack and its contents dumped onto his head.

*

Ben sat at a quiet corner table, sipping her ale. She had come riding seeking adventure, and while she couldn't quite make out how she had managed to ride out and end up on a floating island in the sky with no mount and no obvious path she could have taken, it wasn't as if this was the first time that had happened. She put it down to the same Magically-Induced Geographic Instability that had led her to the Great Maze and the Spectral Wolf and the rest, and cast the mystery from her mind, instead focusing on the pleasures of the moment. After all, this was to be her last adventure for a long time, and she was determined to make the most of it.

Finishing her meal-- which was delicious-- Ben paid for the food and drink, and, feeling generously inclined, she tipped a gold piece to the serving boy. He nodded in acknowledgement, and said, "I'm sure th' king will appreciate this."

Ben's eyebrows shot up. For one mad moment, she thought he was referring to her own father, before remembering that even if not for the MIGI distortion, she had long since passed the borders of Lamada. "King?" she asked blankly. "Who is the king around here?"

"Don' know his name, sir," said the boy. "He's a new king come along, right enough, an' we're t' give all the treasure to 'im."

"Is that so?" she mused. "So this king-- he takes the 'treasure', and what does he give you in return?"

Now it was the boy's turn to stare blankly. "Sir?"

"What differentiates this 'king' of yours from a magpie, that snatches up the shiny things it sees to build a nest?" she asked, not bothering to mask the derision in her tone. "Does he have soldiers to protect you from invasion? Does he feed those who haven't got what to eat? See that justice is done for all?" She could have continued on about the duties of a king-- having had more than a decade's worth of lessons on the subject to draw upon, not to mention the character of her brother to use as a model-- but the boy was already looking glassy-eyed, so she had mercy on him and stopped there. She pursed her lips as he shook his head in confusion. "I see."

Ben stood, one hand snaking to her sword's hilt like a child checking the placement of its favourite toy, and strode out of the pub to the square conveniently located just outside of it.

She had got there, it seemed, just in time to beat the rush, for no sooner had she exited the inn than a group of soldiers-- if they could be called that-- some of them escorting what was no doubt the man who styled himself king, approached, and began to turn the citizenry out of all the surrounding buildings into the square.

Ben observed, bored, not bothering to listen to the decadent man's poor speech, choosing instead to spend the time positioning herself exactly where she needed to be. The talking ended, and, to her astonishment, the armsmen actually began to snatch what valuables they could from the populace, presumably to fill their "king"'s coffers. She smiled to herself, waiting. It was only a matter of time...

Sure enough, one of the leather-clad men approached Ben, palm out. "Come on, Sir Knight," he sneered. 'And it over! What've ye got? That sword of yours'll look fine in His Majesty's vault, the armour, too."

Ben flashed the man a bright, toothy smile. "Yeah... no." She drew her sword in a flash and he followed suit, but this second-rate hired sword was no match for the champion of the Memenet Games, and she could see it from the choices of strikes he was making. Still, she didn't want to kill this fellow, not when, if she played her cards right, she could accomplish so much more. Come on, she thought, willing him to fall for her trap, as she blocked his attacks effortlessly. She couldn't make the opening too obvious, but she knew that if she made it at all possible for him, if he had an ounce of sense he'd take the bait and try for a hilt-to-hilt position-- after all, he had body weight on his side, which would be the deciding factor if it weren't for the countermeasure she had perfected to the point of it being a signature move. Even not knowing her fighting style, he'd need only a little more than an ounce of sense to know that if she was leaving him this opening, it must be a trap-- fortunately, this man's intellect fell in the middle area. He took the bait, locking his sword hilt behind hers and applying pressure.

Ben let him think he had succeeded for a moment, seeming to give way to his pressure, before she jerked her own sword's hilt in and up, bracing her legs and levering... And she smiled as-- just as she had known-- the man's sword went flying out of his grip. In fact, he had been putting so much pressure, so much weight into his attack, that at this he, too, went flying, backwards, catapulted across the clearing.

Ben laughed at the ridiculous image he made. Who's next? she thought, before following her previous mark with her eyes and seeing another scuffle going on against some of the other tax collectors in that part of the square. Intrigued, she resolved that her objective, while working her way through any men-at-arms who stood in her way, would be to see who it was that seemed to have made her goals his own.

*

Hector figured by now, the other “guards” would have been on him by now, but apparently something else was distracting them. Hector had no idea what it was until suddenly the other tax collector came rolling down the road past him, his sack and its contents dumped onto his head, knocking him out. The ‘tax collector’ and Hector looked down at the man in surprise, then back up at each other. Silently, their gaze turned to where the man had come from, and saw the knight with her sword drawn approaching them. Hector, deciding to take hold of the opportunity, turned back to the man he was fighting, shrugged, and gave him a right hook hard enough for a tooth to come loose. He fell into a heap on the floor next to his friend.
“Fancy move there, Sir Knight.” Hector complimented the knight as she approached him, the other citizens looking on with awe at these two would-be heroes. “Nice to see I’m not the only one sick of the cowlickers over here.”

Ben grinned in response. "That's quite a punch you've got there, yourself." The two men lying on the ground groaned; they didn't seem likely to be getting up anytime soon, but-- as luck would have it-- there were still a couple more of the goons left, who promptly rushed Ben and her apparent ally.

Sheathing her sword, as the man who attacked her now was less heavyset than his predecessor, and she figured she could take him on less messily with some hand-to-hand work, she asked the man at her side, "What are you called, anyway? I don't think we've been introduced."

“Ah good, and here I was afraid things were gonna be easy for us.” The taller man snickered as he brought his armored hands up once more, stretching them a bit as if he was just warming up. “I’ve been called a lot of things, most of them are words I don’t know the meaning of. Like ignoramus. I think someone told me that was an insult though, so you can call me Hector. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Taking a few steps forward he eyed the guard on the left, who approached him with sword already drawn, indicated that would be the one he’d handle. “What about you, you got a name, lad?” he asked the knight casually while they let their opponents come to them.

Lad. Heh. Ben filed that away for later, making a mental note to explain to the guy at some point, but it hardly ranked compared to the more pressing matters now. The man facing her threw a punch, and she reached out with her right hand, stopping him mid-punch as her steely grip closed around his wrist. She twisted with the right, until the man bore a grimace of pain, then shot her left hand out to punch him in the collarbone. As she did so, she turned her head to answer Hector's question over her shoulder. "Ben of Lamada. Happy to make your acquaintance."

Turning her attention back to the fight, she released the man's wrist, kicking out with her left foot in the same instant. She heard something that sounded like bone cracking, though it was hard to tell if that was from the kick, or from his wrist that she had twisted.

“Lord” Gwrtheyrn stomped his foot down in anger as he saw his guards in a losing battle against these two already. “What are you imbeciles doing? You would dare allow these knaves to soil the ground I stand upon? Deal with them this instant!” Not that his words helped any as Hector used the armor around his arms to parry his opponent's sword without it cutting into his body. When the man came for a second swing, Hector took a step back and allowed the sword to swing through the air. Once it had come down to the ground, the green-haired fighter's boot raised upward and collided with the man’s ribcage, causing him to reel backward in pain.

“Lamada, huh?” Hector repeated as he threw another punch at the face of his enemy. “I was there not too long ago actually. Met the love of my life there… it's a nice place for guys like you or me. Kind of far from there for a knight to be, though, don’t ya think? You here on business or something?” the man asked nonchalantly, as he allowed the guard to rush him once more, but the untrained fighter was no match for Hector, who once again knocked away the man’s weapon before it could do any harm and delivered a head-butt to counter.

Ben punched, right-left in quick succession, turning as she did so to evade the blows that her opponent aimed at her. "For a knight of the land, I tend to find myself pretty far afield from Lamada fairly often," she admitted, kicking out and connecting hard with the man's kneecap. "No business at the moment-- actually, I've come to aimlessly seek adventure before I get tied up for quite a while with some business that's headed my way somewhat soon." She grinned, and reached her hand out again, this time catching her enemy's ankle as his leg came up for a kick. She allowed him to bring his foot up, then kept on bringing it up, until he finally lost his balance and fell on his back. "I've always been lucky enough that when I go looking for adventure, adventure manages to find me. It seems this time is no exception."

“Is that so? Then we got a lot more in common than I thought!” Hector let out a surprised laugh. He now had his opponent firmly grappled to the ground, finishing him with one final, well-placed punch to the skull, causing his head to bounce against the dirt beneath him before he was seeing stars. “You could say adventuring is my trade. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember, that’s for sure. It doesn’t always find me, but I’m always looking for it,” he admitted, rising back to his feet, waiting for Ben to finish off with the remaining guard. “I figured I could follow everyone else here and look to do some good, maybe find a challenge, too.” The fire in his eyes still burning, he stared down the king who remained before them. “I doubt this guy will do the trick, though.”

With a derisive kick to the man she had already thrown to the ground, ensuring he would not rise for a good amount of time (and when he did so, it would be with an impressive headache), Ben had finished with her opponent. "Do some good," she echoed. "There's a challenge in itself." There was a wistful look in her eyes that her ally couldn't quite read, but it faded as she turned to face the man who called himself a king.

As Hector started forward angrily, she put out an arm to stay him. "Let me handle him," she said. "Please." In answer to his quizzical look, she went on, "He may not be much of a challenge in any case, but I know how to make this interesting, at least." Her grin was positively wolfish with anticipatory glee.

“Pah! Why do you continue to challenge me, your king? This is heresy!” Gwrtheyrn proclaimed angrily (and perhaps with a hint of nervousness, as he didn’t actually step forward to engage either of them), over the cheer of the townsfolk around Ben and Hector, who at this point had been completely won over by the ass-kicking these two had delivered. After hearing these words, Hector gave a silent nod to Ben and backed off, giving space between her and Gwrtheyrn.

"Okay, first of all," Ben said, stepping forward, "I answer to the kings of Lamada and Orono, not usurpers in a foreign land. As to why we're challenging you? Well, I could say I don't like your face, but while that is true, what's more to the point is that we don't like the operation you're running here." As she spoke, she watched him carefully, reading his reactions. He wasn't going to accept a fight he didn't think he could win-- on the other hand...

Ben casually pulled her helmet off and shook out her long, red locks, as she continued. "But I'll tell you what. Let's have it out, a duel, man to man, as it were-- you and me. I win, and you give back what you've taken and leave this place for good. You win, and we'll give you what you want and push off ourselves. Sound fair?" Her hazel eyes glistened as she watched him try to make his own assessment of the situation, waiting for his reply.

*

The nervousness in his face faded when she removed her helmet though, and revealed her more…feminine appearance. A crooked grin seemed to crawl across his face, as if some grand discovery had been made. “Pffft-- man to man?” he choked out. “Oh, this is rich.” He laughed out as he removed the rapier at his side. “Yes, I do believe I’ll accept your challenge. Wenches like you need to learn their place.” He grinned maliciously as he struck a defensive stance with his blade, clearly trained in some fashion in fencing.

“Why is he talking about wrenches, Ben?” Hector whispered to the knight, clearly not picking up on the context of the situation. “Anyway, you got this.”

Torn between cold fury at the man's words, and mirth at Hector's inane response, Ben settled for a stony grimace as she pulled her broadsword out of its sheath and began to circle the so-called king.

His rapier darted from side to side, as though testing her guard. She ignored his move, keeping her weapon in the main block position. Sloppy, she thought, as she saw how many openings he was leaving in his overconfidence. She could end this in an instant if she wanted to, honestly... but she wanted to drag it out as much as possible, to impress upon the man's small mind the memory of being defeated in such a public way.

Finally judging the time to be right, Ben went on the attack, feinting low before striking high. The man scrabbled to block her blade, clashing his sword against hers in the manner of one who has learned swordcraft from exhibition matches only, and believes the objective is to hit the other person's sword as much as possible. Ben rolled her eyes, as she continued to strike, her blows coming faster, at unexpected angles. The man was forced to retreat, holding his sword in front of him as though to ward her off, and she pressed forward.

“Heh, ahaha!” He continued to laugh, despite a small droplet of sweat forming on his brow as he realized he was being pushed back onto the defensive. His eyes darted to the people looking, then back at the woman. Not wanting to look weak, he attempted once more to go on the offensive against her, but the duel played out much the same way, with her movements becoming unpredictable and too fast for him to safely keep up with. As he backed up once more, some of the crowd actually began to laugh at him and his attempts at fighting. “You bitch; this isn’t how you’re supposed to fight duels.” He gritted his teeth and muttered at her before making a specific motion with his free hand. “Well… if you’re not gonna play fair, than neither am I!” And in that moment, two more guards showed up from inside the crowd, scaring the people away as they pulled out hand-axes and circled behind the female knight. “You’ll regret pointing your sword at me.”

The two men raised their axes with glee as they went in for the pincer attack while their King came from the front, stabbing his rapier forward. The strikes from behind, however, were stopped short, as both men saw their axes blocked against a large blade of metal… Hector’s greatsword. “I never introduced you to her, did I?” The green-haired swordsman called out to Ben, knowing she could handle the ‘king's’ attack. “The love of my life… beautiful, ain't she?” With a grunt and a heave, he pushed the two men backward from him with a mighty shove of his weapon. “Ivory,” he said, looking upon his weapon with stars in his eyes. “I found her on the shores of Lamada… just waiting there for the right hands to fall upon her grip, a gift from the heavens. We’ve been together ever since… an unbeatable team.” Holding the weapon with both hands, he lowered it into a defensive position. “Leave these two to me, Ben, just end this already.”

Ben smirked, trusting that the slow but sturdy Hector would indeed take care of the men at her back. Not letting her attention waver from the man she faced, Ben controlled her movements such that they could not be predicted from watching the tensing of her muscles-- not that she supposed this fellow had the know-how to do so. Abruptly, she lunged, and he leaped back with a gasp to avoid being skewered on her sword. "Not how I'm supposed to duel?" she asked archly, stepping back and completing her attack. Hector had asked her to end it, and end it she would. With a flick of her wrist too fleet for him to even register the motion, the tip of her sword had sent his own weapon out of his already-shaky grip. Stepping forward, she levelled her sword at the now-unarmed man, waiting for him to submit. "Oh, right. I was supposed to lose, wasn't I? Such a shame how things turned out."

Without bothering to listen for a response, Ben turned to face the few guards who remained standing. "This is the man whom you allow to lead you," she told them, her voice thick with scorn. "And I think it's time you escort him to some other land. Don't bother to return once you've seen him safely away."

The two that she spoke to had by that point already been flung to the ground more than one time by Hector. By no means was he a fast swordsman, but he knew how to time his strikes well enough to keep untrained scrubs like these guys off their feet. One turned to the other and admitted, “She’s right ya know, we should get out of here. …This guy is a monster.”

“You’re right, a green giant or something! He must have demon's blood to have hair like that,” the other spat out. In one fluid motion, both of them dropped their weapons. “Screw escorting him… we’re out of here!” And with that, they abandoned their king, running off into the horizon of the first floor of the castle.

“Pheh, cowards.” Hector sighed disappointedly as he sheathed Ivory against his back once more. “Next time, baby, I’ll give you something worth your time.” Turning back to Ben and the king, who at this point was on the ground backing away in fear, he jokingly said, “Looks like we brought some massive tax cuts to this city.” The audience around them gave a collective groan, though Hector just shrugged it off. “Well, I guess it’s safe to say he’s dethroned. What should we do with him?”

“Ri-ridiculous… how did you beat me so easily?” Gwrtheyrn muttered, flabbergasted. He nervously crawled backward from the woman who had bested him in combat.

Ben rolled her eyes; as the second-best swordsman of the four lands, and second only to her brother, she rather wished the man had been at least something of a challenge. As it was, the challenge had been to take as long as she did to defeat him, in order to put on a show.

"I suppose it would be overkill to throw him over the edge," she sighed regretfully. It was hardly fair; between what was undiplomatic and what was plain wrong, she so rarely got the opportunity to treat someone to what he actually deserved. "But I'm sure there are cells somewhere that he can be locked up."

The crowd responded in the affirmative, and a large portion of the citizenry seemed to sweep the man Gwrtheyrn away to be incarcerated.

Ben surveyed the mess remaining in the square, her eyes particularly noticing the sacks that the guards had dropped in their haste to make a quick escape. "Looks like it's going to be our job to get everything back to its owners," she commented to Hector ruefully. "We'd better make a start, or we'll never finish."

“Aye, someone’s got to do it.” He gave a playful pat on her shoulder and, with a laugh, said, “What was it you said before, sometimes doing good was the challenge?” With that, the two took the next hour or so divvying out and returning the loot that had been stolen from the townsfolk today as Gwrtheyrn was taken away to some makeshift cell. Eventually, no more citizens came up to get anything, which was odd to Hector, because they still had about half a sack of look that no one picked up. Not just gold either, but some trinkets, as well. “Hmm, guess these might have been Lord Gwiddlelydoo’s.” Hector looked over at the knight, “What do you say, split it fifty-fifty? I’d say we earned a little reward for our trouble.”

Ben smiled back, glancing around the square as though expecting more people to pop out of nowhere to claim their belongings. "Well, if there's really no one to retrieve it... fifty-fifty sounds about fair to me."

She looked at Hector again, trying to decide how best to disabuse him of his misconception as to her gender, now that the action was done with. "You do know that I'm... that is to say..." She paused, looking at his simple, honest face. Who was she kidding? He wasn't going to believe her, at least not this soon. "Oh, never mind."

“You’re a funny guy, you know that Ben? And I have to say, I’ve never seen a man let his hair grow like yours. You make it work, though!” He let out another hearty laugh as he swung the loot over his back. “And you know how to handle a sword, better then most anyone I’ve seen around here,” he complimented the knight. “I want to make you an offer. You’re looking for adventure, right? Well, it just so happens I’m setting up a guild right now, looking for swordsman just like you. And I’m not talking about just taking jobs against small fry like this guy…we’re looking for a challenge. Not a bad deal, eh, and it’ll help ya earn some coin,” Hector explained enthusiastically; he probably wouldn’t even take no for an answer.

"You know what?" Ben said, surprising herself more than anyone, "I'll do it." What the heck, she told herself, it's sure to be interesting, at least. And what more can I ask for than that? "Glad to join your guild, Hector." She put out her hand, and they shook on it. Ben shook her head a little, smiling at her own folly. What am I getting myself into this time...?
Lead by example. Get lost in a swamp.

AS DICTATED TO INSTANTIATION 17-01-18-01.
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Qara-Xuan Zenith
 
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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:24 pm

Quest 4: Riot Squad.

Fade stood in the ruined city, it was already evening and he wondered where would he go to sleep for this night. The restoration was coming along nicely, but most of the city was still inhospitable, the ward he was in at the moment was one of the less friendly ones. Riddled with revolts of some sort. Revolts... God, what are they revolting against? Everyone just barely got here!

A passer by stopped at his side, a woman with ragged clothing and a menacing club, she looked at him as if appraising his worth before speaking. “You coming to the next reunion?”

“Re...union...?” The man asked slowly as if dazed, struggling to understand the meaning of the word. She sighed, and started leading him down one of the streets gently, like one would lead a child. “But... Night...” Fade continued, in the same slow monotone.

“Listen.” The woman stopped. “This place is not fair for people like you... That’s why something must be done.” She muttered the last sentence to herself, shaking the thoughts off before continuing. “We need to get out of here. They can help, you’ll see it in the reunion. They’re trying to help.”

The two walked in silence until one of the buildings that was in better shape, the ruins of a cathedral that struggled to survive until the rebuild could reach it. Noticing that others converged towards the place, Fade stepped away from his guide silently, otherwise he might be stuck in the middle of the crowd. Fade... when did I decide that was a good name anyway? He wondered idly as he waited for whatever the supposed “reunion” was, although he already had a solid idea as to what it might be. If he was right, then he was in for one interesting night.

Anji was laying underneath the oak tree in her favorite (read: least attractive) part of the slums. She had escaped the daily chore set given to her by the innkeeper that gave her and Zi a place to sleep at night. The sun was setting, and Anji was enjoying soaking up the last few rays of sun before she left for home with a pocket-full of scavenged trinkets and an empty stomach that hopefully wouldn’t stay that way.

The marketplace, which had been thinning as night encroached on the city began to swell and murmur as shouting was heard, “ C’mon you layabouts, ‘ead to the church ‘ouse, ‘mon now no sense wasting more of my day. Come ‘long now, hey you! Wench, stand yerself up!”

Cracking an eyelid in an impressive glare, Anji leveled her gaze at the guard. He was obtuse in every sense of the word, from the width of his girth to the obvious lack of intelligence he showcased as he fumbled for his weapon. Sitting up, Anji was eye-level with a pointy metal stick that was both positioned incorrectly... and held with two hands. I mean, really, the nerve of some people.. Anji stood carefully, keeping a careful eye on the poorly-held one-handed sword. The obese guard didn’t step back either, forcing Anji to slide up the back of the tree trunk in order to avoid death-by-idiocy.

The guard sneered as he said, “yeah, you look like you’ve ‘ad it rough ‘ere. eva’ ‘eard of the reunions? I’d like ta see a wench like you join them. The boss’d love to see more young folk in the ranks.”

Anji narrowed her eyes slightly, then began to whimper, “Why would they want a poor little street rat like ol’ Anjali? S-she hasn’t done nothin’ wrong, she hasn’t. Anji swears, she never picked no pockets!”

This caught the guard, well off-guard, as he stumbled back, sheathing his sword clumsily and blubbering apologies, “ah, lassie. I didn’t mean ta get ya upset now. Come ‘long now, we’ll see ya to tha church house, all safe-like.”

And, with a flourish that belied his ungainly stature, the guard without colors grabbed Anji’s arm and began to stride towards an old cathedral, scraping the sky with it’s spires. Torches blazing in the gloom of the slum at twilight. Anji was yanked through the main entrance, unable to keep up with the guard’s waddle.

The nave of the cathedral was crowded, ooohh, this would be a lovely place for lifting some coins.... no, wait... bad idea, got to get rid of this excuse for a penguin first. Gritting her teeth, Anji stopped mid-stride and fell into a roll, breaking the guards’ hold on her arm. She then stood and moved carefully and nonchalantly over towards the side of the room, away from the stunted guard.

Anji glanced around the dark, crowded cathedral for a place to be still until the “reunion” thing started. A lot of the attendees were craning to see the podium, pressing ever closer to their neighbors in a bid to get as close as possible. uh, yeah, no... oh look there’s an empty corner Anji headed for the dark corner, only to stop in place as she saw a tall fighter move into that area. With a groan, Anji stopped at the edge of the crowd as a person stepped up to the podium and began to speak.

“Friends! You have come again! This pleases me, it warms my heart to see that you would not abandon the cause!” A young man, of fair features. Spoiled city brat got here? No wonder what’s happening around here then. “This land is not fair to us! Is it? Is this city home to the promises of glory that had us come here?!” His words were passionate, he seemed almost sincere somehow. And the crowd responded, with anger already boiling under the surface.

“NO!” Screamed the crowd.

“No it isn’t! It isn’t just! Why were we brought here then? To fester in ruins?! Do we deserve this fate?!” The screams of the crowd stopped waiting for his questions to get made. The young man kept inciting their agner. So, nobleman’s kid signs up for a grand adventure. Get’s sent into a hellhole and is now pissy about it, so he sends other people in a fit of rage because that’s clearly the way to solve the problem? Fade let out a laugh that went unheard in the cacophony of the crowd. Sounds just right for me.

The speech didn’t last long, before ten minutes had passed the young leader started sending the people out in the night, to show to all that they were unsatisfied with this new setting they were cast into. “Go my friends! Bring our distress to attention of the masters of this place! The men who brought us here must assume responsibility for what they did to us!” The crowd began to move, crying out in the night with torches, swords and spears. The movement inside the ruined church stopped, the young leader talking to three bulky men who stood behind. Oh, come on! You’ll just stand there and look pretty like you did nothing at all...? Fade sighed. It was time to act.

“Oh!” His voice resounded loudly as he stumbled ahead, eyes wide in a surprised expression, beating his hands together while fumbling to not let his sword fall to the ground. “I get it now!” The men still inside the cathedral turned to him.

“What’s that beggar still doing here?” The young leader asked to no one in particular.

“I get it, it get it!” Fade sounded pleased, ignoring the men and still stumbling his way towards the four men as slowly as drunk could. “You’re sending them off to fight the things... That... Did things! Or do things... What things was it again?”

“Throw him out.” The leader ordered with a wave of his hand and the three others started to moving, one of them however, a fat man who seemed to be unable to move like a human stopped for a moment.

“Wot we do if ‘e’s a botha’?” He asked.

“Whatever, just kill him and say he died in a crumbling building or something. I have no need for beggars.” With that, all three guards forgot the order to simply throw the fool out and went towards him with blades badly held in hand. Good grief, look at those stances... Do these guys even know how to hold a sword?

Fade stopped walking, looking surprised at the men walking towards him. “Oh! He’s sending you off to do things too right?” Hand in the hilt of his sword. Now please step in range, thank you very much. It was hard to suppress the grin that he wished to sport, but he’s been acting like a fool for a few years now, these amateurish mistakes where past him by now.

Anji’s mood went from a dark to thunderous as the man on the podium began to speak. She could care less about what some princeling thought should be done. Right now, the pickings were great, and she could always do with more coins. Moving through the restless crowd, Anji carefully lifted purses from her unfortunate prey, getting ever closer to the podium and the men around it. Oh, shit. Anji ducked behind a large fighter as she noticed penguin man among those on the podium, his face the picture of dazed boredom as he struggled to listen to the raving princeling.

As the princeling inflamed the crowd, stoking the flames of resentment and anger that festered in the hearts of those in the slums, Anji began to edge away from the middle of the crowd. Be awful if I got all this loot, only to be trampled. With a wry smile, Anji tucked herself away behind a moldy statue, hoping that the other guards were as lax as penguin man and didn’t bother to check the castle before leaving.

The coins she had scavenged glistened in her palms as she began to go through her possessions and do inventory. One particular coin had captured her interest when she heard a new voice interrupt the soft grumbles of the princeling and his men.

“OH!” the idiot fighter yelled. “I get it! I get it!”

Anji put away the coins and pulled out her knives as the princeling ordered the death of the idiot swordsman. Leaping out, Anji slashed at penguin man, grazing one of his sword arms as she tumbled into the second guard, who resembled an bear that had been mauled. Standing up, Anji started cutting and slashing at the useless guards, moving constantly, giving no room for the guards to swing their useless swords.

The cuts she made were superficial, only serving to irritate the guards and make them clumsy. d’rather avoid killing them. Bodies aren’t a good way to make a first impression, at any rate. After narrowly missing the pointy bit of a dull sword that looked as if it had been pulled out of the wreckage of the church itself, Anji narrowed her eyes and began to actually fight. Her twin blades flashed and spun as she started making more, and deeper cuts. After a few moments of this, two of the guards were bleeding from a hundred small cuts and were shaking too much too hold their swords. Well, they’re done. I wonder what happened to Penguin Man...

A twig snapped behind Anji, whirling around, she saw the enormous girth of Penguin Man who was roaring and swinging his blade wildly in an attempt to ward off the small scout. Shit.
Anji was forced to move on defense, ducking and whirling, avoiding the large man with the rusty sword. Seeing her flee, the guard began to push faster, slashing wildly. Slipping on a mossy stone, Anji fell, knocking the wind out of her lungs and giving penguin man an opening to swing his sword.

Why do people always intervene? Fade sighed as the woman tried to stop the oncoming men from killing him. Oh, yeah, probably because I look like an idiot. He sighed again, looking annoyed, no one was paying attention to him anymore, there was little point in keeping the facade.

The woman was a good fighter, and her decision not to kill them when she could have easily done so was an interesting one. But, she couldn’t face three opponents, even untrained as they were. Two fell trembling, more from shock than from damage, Fade judged. A series of shallow cuts that made them appear to be near death, but that in truth wouldn’t really stop a true soldier from fighting. Wiser to get them out before they decide to do something stupid then. He whacked his sword’s scabbard on their heads to drop them unconscious. By the time he turned his attention to the last attacker, the fat man was already waving his crude sword at the woman. Tch, well, not many people to notice here, at least. Fade drew his sword, diving for the guard.

Calling him a guard was an exaggeration, of course, he didn’t see an attack coming at all, his sword, held wrongly on both hands, went flying and he stopped mid swing looking dazed and confused.

“Wot you fink you’re doin’?!” He asked, Fade didn’t reply moving around him and whacking the back of his head with the scabbard, only talking after the man fell unconscious. “Don’t talk in the middle of a fight. It’ll mess up your breathing.” He turned to the woman regaining her senses, speaking normally. No point in trying to save face now . “You ok?”

“Ow, my bleeding head.” Anji rubbed her sore, and now impressively bleeding head. Coughing, she stood up to greet the idiot that saved her life. “Are you done with being suicidal? Those idiots...”

Anji’s sentence trailed off as she saw the carnage left behind by the seemingly stupid swordsman. All three guards were alive, and relatively unharmed. The swordsman himself was sheathing his sword. He was tall, taller than the small scout by at least a foot. His face held a look of intelligence that wasn’t the same as the idiot brawler that challenged the princeling.

“Well, at least you’re alive.” He said calmly, but before he could continue the conversation, he heard a motion noise from behind. The spoiled brat didn’t run?! Oh damn! Whirling to face the attacker, the young noble was already upon him. Fast! Fade’s sword was still sheathed, he raised the scabbard in a improvised block, but it was not enough, his attacker’s sword cut into his right arm, shallow for a sword wound, but still too deep to risk using that arm carelessly.

“Vermin! Why do you even bother to mess in my affairs?!” The leader demanded, as Fade jumped a few steps away, drawing his sword with his left hand and holding the scabbard in the right.

“You really don’t know?” He replied, serious. “I can tell you, but I don’t think you really want to hear it.” Fade analysed his stance, from his speed he was in good shape and his bearing meant he had at least some military training, the question was what his actual experience was.

Anji glared at the princeling, “You idiot! You’re sending people out there to riot, for WHAT? The whole city’s in ruin you dumbass, not just these slums!”

Anji wiped her blades off, then went to start slicing the princeling.

“Don’t. If you please.” Fade interrupted. “Killing him does nothing to help the people.”

“What are you saying? Killing me? Like commoner scum like you could do it.” The leader snarled. For all his talk he surely wasn’t moving to actually fight.

“Lady, would you please get up on the tower and ring the cathedral’s bell? I believe he’ll stay put until his followers get back here.”

Anji cut her eyes at the tall swordsman, “You’re kidding me, right? This scum doesn’t deserve the air he breathes, much less the amount of energy it takes to haul his lazy ass around.”

The princeling began to speak, but was cut off by Anji ranting, “and another thing. I am a streetrat. Not a lady, and most certainly not the idiot that’s going to go call back the angry mob into one location to be even more destructive and angry.”

“Think of it like this, I am mad as a hatter. And you’ll be outside and out of sight when they reach this place, so it’ll no longer be of your concern.” Fade replied with a smile.

“Fine, have it your way.” Anji stormed away, heading up the rotting steps to the bell-tower of the cathedral. Of all the stupid, idiotic swordsman I could’ve met, I had to meet the one that insists on making his only help go up the stairs, of all things.

Reaching the tower, Anji quickly located the bell-pull and made the great old bell toll. It was loud. Very, very loud. Quickly descending the steps, Anji tripped on a rotten stair step that decided that just then was the perfect time to fail. Catching herself on a beam, Anji had a great view of the nave below as angry rioters began moving back into the cathedral.

It didn’t take long for the first wave of rioters to get inside, nearly mindless enough to attack the swordsman on sight. He had his back to the entrance, and didn’t turn to face them even hearing their cries for blood and justice. “Sir!” They screamed, noticing the fallen guards. “Kill that scoundrel!” the group echoed.

“So, ” Fade began loudly, “Is that how you lead? To have your followers kill a lone, wounded assailant that you can’t face on your own?” The young noble’s face twisted with rage, he swallowed, and then spoke with the same booming voice used for his speeches.

“Fear not friends! This poor soul has been twisted by the hardships of this land! He has gone mad already!” His composition all but returned, he was now treading familiar ground. “Such is the fate of us all if we stay here! We must not let this happen to us!” The mob grew, as all pockets returned at the unusual bell call. “It is too late for this poor soul, but I will take it upon myself to cleanse our lands and give him peace. It burdens me! But such is the burden I must pay! Do not lift your hands, dear friends.”

“Bravo!” Fade, of all people called, stunning the crowd that was just at the beginnings of a new howl. “Such are the words of a leader indeed.” He had watched the leader’s stance for a while, and it even though his position was that of a real swordsman, his eyes faltered. Fade waved the tip of his own sword slightly and slowly, noticing that the leader’s eyes followed that movement. Well, at least the left hand will be enough... I’d hate to worsen that cut. He stepped in for a lunge, the young noble parrying it with difficulty. Stumbling backwards.

“Lesson one,” Fade said to him. “never look at the opponent’s weapon. Look at their chest and arms.”

“You arrogant-” Someone called from behind him, step noises, they were moving to attack him. Fade only turned his face slightly, catching the movement in his peripheral vision, then a sharp sound, a small object collided with one of the dropped swords right in front of the advancing mob, a knife was thrown from above. Everyone looked to the dark ceiling, looking for the source of the sudden attack, except Fade, who once again turned his back entirely to the mob, focusing on their leader.

“Yeah, keep on coming, folks!” the mystery voice shouted, “Next one gets a new facial piercing, free of charge!”

Recovering his bearing, the leader spoke once again. “Do not worry. You don’t need to intervene... My friends.”

“Good,” Fade commented as his opponent launched an attack. One short vertical slash, one step back, low thrust. Textbook movements drilled into his skull, I imagine. Not very useful when you know they’re coming though. Parrying the blows with slight difficulty due to using his left hand, he launched a counter of his own. This time disarming the young leader. “But legionnaire moves are not duelist moves. So I guess that’s lesson two, different foes require different tactics.”

“You... What do you want from me?! Why do you meddle in this?!” The leader screamed, losing his composure once again. The crowd vibrated, hesitating to advance under the threat of the daggers but also wishing to save the man that they saw being bullied right in front of them. The threat of death wouldn’t last much longer however, soon they would be more angry than afraid. Fade lowered his sword and took a few steps to the podium.

Picking up a sheet of red cloth that covered the object, he threw it over his head and face, in a makeshift hood. Not much good, but at least it’s badly lit in here, this will be enough to hide my face. He turned to the crowd.

“This is the man you follow. What you see is all that he is.” He said, pointing to the trembling young noble, now on his knees, unbelieving. “What you see is a man. That’s all. There’s nothing else beyond it!” The crowd began to protest, but Fade imposed his voice, turning to the leader. “You sow anger and revolt. Your actions lead to death and suffering. Yet, all you want is to leave this place, is it not?”

The whole cathedral fell silent.

“You want to leave, yet what you do is destroy the only place you have to stay.” He once again turned to the crowd. “This is the Floating Castle! You all knew that once inside, there were only two ways to leave! Reach the top! Or...” He paused for an instant. “Die.”

A howl of complaint rose once again, but Fade gestured with his hand for them to stop, they were used to listening, after all.

“That is not something you can decide for others, and yet you have done so. Cease now. That is all I ask of you.” He turned his back to the mob once again, his words directed solely towards their leader. “As for you... You have deceived others out of selfishness. You have made your choices.” ” Fade said, picking up the young man’s sword from the ground.

“I am Julius Valerian and I come as the grim reaper to judge your actions or grant your wishes! These men and women look up to you, follow you. But your sins are great. I will offer you two paths.” Fade stretched both hands to the leader, his left holding his naked blade, his right offering the man the hilt of his sword. “Die and leave this place. Or stand and fight for those who won’t be able to do so.”

Anji found the swordsm- Valerian outside the cathedral, walking down an alleyway, headed towards the better part of town. Anji had spent the last hour giving the gold pieces back to their original owners, and donating more to the ones that looked most desperate. Scowling, she shouted, “Hey, Jules!”

The swordsman stopped and made a half-turn, his face in shadow. “Never heard that one before, definitely not me.” He recognized her from the fight in the cathedral, but that didn’t mean he would keep his facade down forever.

“Yeah, well, what do I call you then?” Anji said. “I’m Anji, by the way. Where’d you learn to fight like that? With moves like those, everyone’ll be after you for lessons. Or duels. Speaking of fights, you’ll probably get into a lot of them now.”

“Not really, no.” He said calmly. “Everyone is after that guy... Julius Something...” Changing back into his slow monotone and dumbfounded outlook. “Me Fade.”

Yeah, sure I believe that. Anji put on her trader face and spoke, “Well, regardless, this place’ll be nuts until someone steps up to help run it. I’m getting a crew together, something to help keep peace. That Jules guy made me see something I didn’t like, and I want to change it. You look like you’re rum with a blade, so how’s about you come help me? I could always use some dumb muscle.”

“Dumb works.” He winked, keeping his slow speech.

“Well, come on then. I ought to introduce you to the rest of the crew. Which for the moment consists of yours truly and my twin, Zi.” Anji was excited with the idea of another adventure, and headed off towards the tavern, Fade in tow.
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eli_gone_crazy
 
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby AMimsyBorogove on Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:19 pm

Quest 2: No Man's Land. Thanks for all the help, Narradilly! :gurt:

The sun was setting behind the warehouse, casting useful shadows near front of the building. Unfortunately, the entrances were guarded. Two men stood on either side of the side of the side entrance, and the front door had one main guard with two others for support, though the support looked as though they may have been asleep, unless they had difficulty remaining in a standing position without leaning against the building. Giselle didn’t think she’d be able to enter unnoticed, unless she took some risks that she deemed unacceptable. Instead she would attempt a direct approach.

From the north side of the warehouse, she walked toward the door, staying in the shadow but far enough from the wall of the building that she wouldn’t look like she was using it for cover. When she was in front of the main guard she stopped, expecting him to challenge her, or at least acknowledge her presence. Instead he continued staring at the space in front of the door.

“Excuse me,” said Giselle, and the guard’s head snapped in her direction. He was a burly, grizzled sort of man, and a scar dominated the left side of his face, going over his apparently useless left eye. That would be why he hadn’t seen Giselle approach.

“What do you want?” Interrogated the guard.

“Access to the warehouse. Would that be possible? Anything we can do to arrange it? I just need some arrows... maybe twenty or so would do. I can pay for them.”

The guard stared down at her, taking time with his response. “Nobody goes in.”

“But I-” Giselle protested, but was cut off.

“No exceptions!”

“But nobody’s using anything that’s in there! What’s the point of having a warehouse full of weapons if you don’t do anything with any of the weapons! They’re just sitting there not doing anybody any good. Why bother restricting access if you don’t use anything yourselves?”

Giselle was starting to get angry. She only had three arrows on her, and that might not be enough to take down her next night’s dinner. Without ammo, she’d have to find other, less savory ways of earning her keep.

“I can’t let you in,” said the guard, and he turned away from her, focusing his attention once more on the area just ahead of the front entrance.

“Please,” said Giselle, changing her tone to sound more friendly. She looked around, verifying that the other guards weren’t watching, and took a step closer to the main guard. “I’m asking you for a favor. It would just be between you and me. No one has to know.”

Before she could get around to making any sort of offers or negotiating terms of favors, the guard called out. “Can I get some backup here, please!”

The other two guards stumbled out of their naps and approached. One was tall and thin, the other short and stout, and they both moved somewhat clumsily in their armor. Giselle backed up and uttered hasty apologies.

“Escort this young lady away from the premises.” Ordered the door guard.

“Hey! Hey, no need to escort me. I’m gone.” Giselle slipped into an alley across the street from the warehouse and ran around a few buildings until she was certain the guards had lost her. It was clear she wasn’t going to get into the warehouse without taking some of the risks she’d previously ruled out. She wished she hadn’t tried the open strategy. Now that she’d made herself known it would be harder to go in the stealthy way. She waited until they were likely to have calmed down from the earlier excitement, and circled around to the far side of the building. By this time it was dark, and she slipped from shadow to shadow so smoothly that no one would have seen her unless they’d been told in advance where she would be.

Giselle approached the warehouse from the southwest corner. The side entrance was nearby, and evidently security had increased after her earlier approach. Where there’d been two guards at the side entrance, now there were five. There were undoubtedly more at the main entrance, and even if the guard hadn’t increased she couldn’t risk being seen there again.

As she watched the building and planned her approach, a tall man walked by, clearly heading toward the warehouse, seeming to have a clear idea of exactly where he was going. Must be another guard... I wonder if he’s going to a hidden entrance? She decided to follow him.

The tall man wore distinctive, possibly garish, clothing. Giselle followed a safe distance behind and considered her options. Slipping in the door after him was the obvious course. Should she incapacitate him after getting inside? Before? She considered stealing his clothes, but determined that they’d be oversized for her frame, and prove cumbersome and not much use as a disguise.

The man ducked under a low tree branch, and Giselle smugly reflected that she wouldn’t have to do the same, as she could walk under it without issue. As she was thanking her diminutive stature, though, she stumbled on a rock that she should have noticed. She recovered her footing and wasn’t hurt, but the stumble had definitely been audible, and the man had noticed. He wouldn’t be leading her to a secret entrance now... at least, not without some encouragement.

Giselle fit an arrow to her bow and moved away from the tree, where she’d have more room to maneuver.

***

The warehouse was rather hard to miss, the thief mused, gazing down from a nearby rooftop at his new target. The run-down building had been extensively fortified, with wooden palisades surrounding the entire building, sentry towers appearing at intervals along the walls, and checkpoints at every gate leading into the forbidden area. What had once been a small garden of trees around what had once been a simple arsenal - although the former had overgrown in its years of abandonment, forming a small forest around the entire place - had been partially chopped down to build up the wooden fortifications, save for a broad circle of trees around the entire facility. Well, within that ring of shade, the young head of the thieves guild could slip about unseen. But the open space in between that at his target... Ah, yes. There was the main problem. Well, if you didn't count the fact that he was trying to clear out an arsenal storing enough arms and ammunition to equip a small army with just his own two hands, taking on, coincidentally enough, a small army in the process. But, he would charge recklessly across that bridge and into the unknown when he came to it, perhaps punching the unknown in the face and asking it if it knew exactly who he was. That was just how Seire Valefar, the legendary Phantom Thief, got things done. Well, okay, maybe not legendary, but still, he was plenty badass and good at what he did.

Slowly rising atop the crumbling building on which he'd lay prone, observing the facility for the past few hours, he decided to quit dallying and get a move on. Night was falling, and, aside from a small increase in the number of guards, absolutely nothing had changed. He was getting impatient, and it was almost the scheduled time anyway. He couldn't keep his friends on the inside waiting, now could he? It would take some time to get in, so might as well start early! Reasoning thus, he strolled up to the collapsed edge of the rooftop, which formed a small staircase up which he'd crept silently to reach his vantage point. He could just as easily use it to go back down, but that would be boring. So, instead, he eschewed this path altogether and simply backflipped down to street level, landing in a crouch. It wasn't all that far to fall, anyway, so who the hell used something so boring as a staircase of rubble when you could just as easily be freaking awesome? He was a Kaitou, and he was far too cool for such a mundane concept as stairs!

Slowly rising to a standing posture, the Phantom Thief grinned, sliding his hands casually into the pockets of his oversized - he preferred the adjective "badass," though - longcoat and beginning to head for the thick band of trees across the street. The branches intersected each other over and over, countless intertwining leaves blocking his silhouette entirely as he ducked beneath a low hanging bough and entered the forest. Creeping between the trees and staying low, he began to close the gap between himself and the facility, taking small paths he'd mapped out beforehand and remaining out of sight.

That was about the time when he realized that he wasn't alone. He'd had his suspicions that there might be enemy watchers within the nearby buildings, but hadn't actually seen any to confirm this hunch. His informants had told him that, as far as they knew, no such threat existed, but you didn't get far in the world, just blindly accepting the fragments of information you could actually get through spies. And so, when Seire's keen ears perceived a slight clattering behind him as a loose cobblestone was brushed against and sent rolling just a few feet behind him, he kept his cool, and reacted instantly. Almost as though they'd never been there to begin within, his hands had swept out of his pockets - and, in fact, out of his coat entirely. He spun about on his heels, at the same time sweeping his heavy coat from his shoulders and casting it out between him and the enemy. Just before it obscured his vision, he'd already managed to identify the weapon in the attacker's hands - a bow, an arrow already knocked to the string. Although he hadn't glimpsed the target's face, their slender limbs and small stature would suggest that he was dealing with a female. Aw, come on, really? How was he supposed to maintain his badass image if he had to go around hitting girls? It just amounted to beating up on someone smaller than himself, in his opinion, which just wasn't something he did.

Still, she'd asked for it. He'd have to disarm her, at the very least. She was still raising the weapon when he spun around, which gave him time to break line of sight before she could draw back the string and fire, using his coat as a distraction while he, in the same instant, darted to the side, his back hand already darting back to the sheath hung casually from his belt. With the rather heavy garment colliding with her weapon and draping over her head, she'd be momentarily blinded while he made his move. Sure enough, she stumbled for a moment, letting go of the bowstring and sweeping up her arm to get the bundle of white cloth out of her face. This was all the time Seire needed. In an instant, he'd laid hold of the sheath of his sword, snatching it backhanded and sweeping it upward, driving it between the bowstring and the weapon, then jabbing upward in an attempt to break the shaft of the arrow, as well as wrenching her wrist from the weapon while he, with his other hand, drew his sword, using the momentum of his counterattack with the sheathe to sweep it out and cut towards the target's neck, stopping just inches away from her flesh. After all, he only wanted to dissuade her from attacking him, not actually kill her. Getting blood on your hands meant execution as opposed to just doing time in the stockade for petty theft, and besides, he was a man, with all the honor that entailed. Killing went against his own personal code unless it was absolutely necessary, and was something to be avoided, if at all possible. Especially when the target was a girl. That would just have been low. Disgraceful. Shameful. Rude.

To his surprise, however, something was off. His sheath should have connected with the girl's arrow, and yet, there was nothing there. Then... had there been no arrow to begin with? No, he'd clearly seen it in the moment before he'd thrown his coat. Then... she'd removed it? Seire's eyes widened in surprise as he realized exactly what the girl was planning just as she ducked and twisted beneath his sword, stepping beneath his defenses and lunging upward with her back hand, the glint of an arrowhead clearly visible in the moonlight. In an instant, Seire redirected his momentum, twisting to the side along with his failed attack and pivoting around the incoming stab, the arrowhead missing him by only a few inches as he twisted around the girl, allowing himself to fall off-balance, only to catch himself in a handspring and front-flip forward, passing the girl and landing several feet away. Somehow, however, during this rapid maneuver, he had found the time to kick his falling coat upward, sending it flying several feet before it fluttered down, landing perfectly atop his shoulders like some kind of cape despite the seeming impossibility of this feat. He grinned, turning about and casually slinging his sword over his shoulder as he sized up his opponent, who also completed her own failed attack and came about, already knocking the arrow to her bow once more.

"Damn, lady," Seire said, whistling with unmasked admiration. "You've got some crazy skills." Saying this, he was just preparing to drop into a fighting stance and rush forward, trying to close the small gap between them before the archer could fire, but he halted, staying his hand as a sudden look of confusion came across his face.

"Hey, wait a minute. Do I know you?" He asked, cocking an eyebrow.

***

“You have got to be kidding me.” The man facing Giselle did indeed look familiar to her, as was the extravagant fighting style, and the penchant for ridiculous clothing. “Seire? Is that you? What the hell are you doing here?” She kept her bow aimed right where it was.

“You know me better than that. What do you think I’m doing here?” Seire adjusted his clothing, undoing the slight rumples that had cropped up during the fight.

“New coat?”

“Not really. New since you last saw me, I guess. Do you mind not pointing that thing at me while we’re talking?”

“Sorry.” Giselle took the arrow off the bow, and stored them both in the quiver at her back. “So you were planning on, what, waltzing in and taking everything that isn’t tied down?”

“Why would I leave the stuff that’s tied down? I have scissors.” Seire searched his pockets for a moment, but came up empty-handed. “Okay, I don’t have scissors. But I can steal some scissors.”

“That is so typical of you. I need to get in there! How am I supposed to get what I need when you’re going around interrupting everything?”

“Well.” Seire smiled, and it was Giselle’s least favorite of Seire’s smiles. This was the smile he used when he wanted you to do something you weren’t going to like, and he knew you’d be resistant to any attempts to charm you into it, but he was going to try to charm you into it anyway. It was a smile with more layers than some villagers had teeth. “Maybe you can get what you need by helping me get what I want.” He took a step closer to her.

Giselle considered drawing her bow again, but decided against it. She settled on rolling her eyes. “You’re not seriously suggesting we do this together, are you? We make a terrible team.”

“We make a terrific team.”

“All right, we sort of do,” Giselle had to admit, “but you have an extremely incautious way of doing things.”

“And you have an extremely boring way of doing things.” Seire’s smile was different now, broader and less constrained. This was the smile he used when he was certain he had your agreement. “But, boring as you are, I could still use your help with this. What do you say? Help me, and you can have all the... wait, what is it you need to get out of there anyway?”

Giselle sighed. “Arrows. I’ve only got three on me. If I lose them there’s no telling what’ll become of me.”

“So, we break in, you get your arrows, I get my... everything, and we go our merry ways! Deal?”

“Okay,” Giselle agreed, against her better judgment, “deal. How do we do this?”

Seire put an arm around her shoulder and leaned in close. “Here’s my plan.”

***

Giselle heard a crash in the distance, and saw two of the guards run off to investigate. That left three for her. She didn’t like her odds, but working with Seire had always meant doing things she wasn’t entirely comfortable with. His methods were disconcerting, but she couldn’t argue with his track record.

One of the guards was the tall skinny guy she’d seen in front of the building. He looked more awake than he had earlier. Presumably he’d been shouted at by somebody for his earlier negligence. Of the others, one looked reasonably alert, but was hardly any larger than Giselle, and doubtlessly unequipped for battle. The last one had clearly been an able warrior at one point, but was too old and feeble now to pose much of a threat.

Okay, an arrow through the shoulder there would draw their attention... and then I could pin him to the wall and follow it up with a... Giselle realized, as she planned her attack, that three arrows wouldn’t be enough. At least, not if she wanted to get them into the positions she wanted before she revealed herself. She’d need a new plan, perhaps one which required... improvisation. She shuddered, cursing herself for getting involved in another of Seire’s schemes. Checking that she had a sufficient supply of rope with her, she moved into a better position for a free-form approach.

The arrow would have killed the old guard if it had been slightly more centered. Giselle wasn’t sure how she felt about that; killing wasn’t really her style, but neither was leaving enemies angry and still standing. Anyway, they could tell where she was now, so it was time for a direct confrontation.

Giselle stepped out of the shadows and approached the guards. She’d have to use them against each other, and that meant getting them to surround her. Thankfully, they obliged. The old one stayed at his post next to the side door, and the tall one and the wimpy-looking one stepped forward until they were level with Giselle. Really, this was proving to be far less difficult than she’d feared.

She slowly turned in place, evaluating her opponents and teasing them.

“What, scared to take me on individually? No, I get it. Actually, I admire you. This is smart. There’s no reason to risk losing a fight one-on-one when you have a guaranteed win as a group. Wouldn’t you agree? Oh, silly question. Of course you agree. That’s what you’re doing.”

She raised her hands to the tall one as if admitting defeat, and when she saw him smile she thought her ruse was working. Then she heard a hiss behind her, and turning around she saw that the wimpy-looking one was throwing a ball of fire in her direction. Of course the guy was a mage; she should have realized that before.

Giselle dodged the fireball and instinctively drew an arrow and shot it into the mage’s hand. He wouldn’t be throwing any more fireballs at her that night, but now she was down to one arrow and was no longer positioned as she wished to be.

“Get her!” Shouted the mage between curses as he cradled his injured hand.

“That’s right!” Giselle shouted. “Get me!” She danced away from the tall guard, leading him on a circuitous route and occasionally letting him get close enough to take a swing at her, before leaping away in an unexpected direction. When she was certain he was sufficiently confused, she waited momentarily near the injured mage, standing directly between the two guards. The tall one, predictably, rushed forward, and when Giselle stepped to the side, he plowed straight into the mage.

Before either of them could get their bearings and stand up again, Giselle bound them with rope. She couldn’t take the time to do a thorough job, but in their state it didn’t take much to hold them. “Stay there.” She said in a stern voice, and the tall one actually nodded as if she was an admonishing teacher. Giselle would have laughed if she were one to admit her amusement.

The old guard was still standing near the door. Giselle approached with her bow at the ready, her last arrow fitted for use. As she got closer, though, she saw that she wouldn’t need it. The old man was bleeding heavily, and without the building’s support he would doubtless have fallen to the ground. “Dammit,” Giselle muttered, putting her weapon away.

“Let me help you,” she barked at the old man. “Here, let’s get that arrow out of you first.”

The old guard held up a hand, motioning for her to stop. Then he pulled the arrow out of his chest (Giselle had to admire his strength of will) and snapped it in two. Giselle gasped. “I still could’ve used that...” she whined, but the old man didn’t seem to hear. Instead he beckoned her with a crook of a finger.

“I’ll let you in,” he rasped, “if you’ll do what you can to heal me. They’ve got potions in there. Powerful stuff. Could take care of worse than this, fast as you can blink.”

Giselle did blink then. Clearly the warehouse was better stocked than she’d imagined. “Okay. Let’s get you one of those potions.” Giselle put her arm under those of the old guard and supported him as they walked the few feet to the door. He unlocked it, and Giselle surreptitiously pocketed the key as he thought he was putting it away. It was a bold move, but at that point he wasn’t aware enough of his surroundings to notice.

Seire sidled up to the door just as Giselle was escorting the old man inside. “Oh good,” she said, “can you look after this guy? I need to get him a potion.”

Seire found a chair and kicked it in such a way that it slid across the floor and stopped in just the correct spot for the old man to sit down without taking a step. It was a showy move, and it allowed Seire to seem helpful and considerate without getting any blood on his precious trademark coat.

Just inside the door was an entire shelf dedicated to potions. Giselle found one that would put the old man to sleep for a few hours while his wound healed, and he drank it without asking any questions. She could just as easily have poisoned him. Lucky for him she wasn’t the murderous type.

***

It hadn't taken long for Seire to knock out the two guards who came after him. Suffice to say, they'd never expected a man in a flowing white coat to do a double backflip out of a hedge, kicking one of them in the chin on each rotation. They'd barely had time to give stifled cries of shock and pain before they each collided with a particularly large, hard tree, and ended up splayed out unconscious on the grass. After pocketing any and all valuables they happened to possess, Seire had cheerfully strolled across the open space between the forest and the base, showing complete disregard for the sentry towers and the men within them. And, surprisingly, the sentries showed an equal lack of interest in the man in the flamboyant white coat waltzing into their base while juggling a small sack of ill-gotten loot and whistling a particularly catchy tune from an opera he'd broken into to rob some random marquis last Tuesday. Catching his first prize of the evening and slipping it into one of his many pockets, he quickly regrouped with his new accomplice, and, after putting an old, wounded guard to sleep - Seire had no objections with this plan, as to be serving at his age, the man had to be loyal enough to his crew, and old men were another group of individuals the thief particularly disliked attacking - and pocketing several of the expensive-looking potions for himself while Giselle wasn't looking, the Phantom Thief quickly set about the next order of business.

"Alright! Now that the guards have all met with a rather unfortunate mass-accident, I'm afraid we'll only have about... a minute before the next patrol passes through and notices what was most certainly not an act of violent assault. And robbery. Can't forget about robbery. Wouldn't want anyone thinking that the potions that just so happened to mysteriously vanish from this shelf were stolen, now would we?" He joked, clinking together the vials in his pocket, seemingly just to amuse himself with the pleasing sound they made. "But, in any case, we'd best not overstay our welcome, no?" He smiled disarmingly, in the sense that it seemed like he was debating whether or not he should steal the weapons from the guards lying outside, and then turned for the door. Beckoning his new partner-in-crime to follow, he headed out.

"Let's go."

***

Giselle ignored Seire’s allusions to petty theft and disappeared among the corridors of weapon racks. She had a few stops to make before getting to the scary part of the plan. There were guards scattered around the warehouse floor, but they didn’t seem to be actively guarding anything so much as they were window shopping. It would have been hard for Giselle to get them to notice her if she was actually trying.

***
The white-clad thief, meanwhile, took his own direction, strolling casually in the opposite direction from his partner in crime. While Giselle set up preparations for his master stroke, Seire himself would need to get into position. Granted, it would be a little difficult to reach his destination, considering he'd have to make his way along about a fourth of the palisade fortifications, but he wasn't particularly worried. The sentries on the walls themselves were no threat to him, and the men in the courtyard would never think of checking their sentry posts for the intruders they were about to realize had just broken in. Why, what purpose would entering the sentinel posts serve a thief? No, they'd be much too concerned about the precious goods in their warehouses to worry about their walls. Just according to his plan.

Slipping along the edge of the palisade, Seire smiled calmly as he heard the shouts of alarm raised behind him. So, the patrol had stumbled across their handiwork at last, had they? Well, he was already at a safe distance, and, concealed by the supports of the watchtowers he crept beneath, nobody even noticed the white-clad figure as they rushed about, setting up a perimeter around the warehouse, leaving the walls largely unattended as they focused their attentions inward, as Seire had expected. Well, that just made his job easier, didn't it? Glancing up at a tower near the very front of the fort, he grinned as he swiftly sneaked beneath it, and began crawling silently up the supports. Yes, this place would serve perfectly. The watchtower was shoddily built, with plenty of small protrusions of wood jutting out from its surface. As it was, the thief had more than enough handholds to climb up. Placing the tower between himself and the guards, he swiftly scaled the edifice.

The guard at the top of the tower suspected nothing. Seire dropped in behind him silently, and by the time he'd realized someone was there, he already had the thief's hand covering his mouth. For a moment, he tried to struggle, only to freeze as the thief wrapped a firm arm around his neck, cutting off his supply of oxygen. Not a noise was made as the thief merely smiled, and the man began to go limp from asphyxiation.

"W-what are you...?" The man gasped, his voice muffled almost to the point of being inaudible as Seire's glove blocked his words, the air almost choked completely out of him.

"I'm here to change the guard," Seire replied. The man's eyes went wide, and then, he went limp. Seire released his body, and dropped the corpse over the back of the tower, sighing as he did so. "Sorry," He whispered. "But I can't have you getting in my way now." Turning away from the faint outline of the body lying still in the darkness below, he swiftly set about his final act of preparation. Taking an extinguished torch from the wall, he swiftly struck a flint he'd lifted earlier for just this purpose, lighting it, ducking as he did so to interpose himself between the edge of the tower and the light, not wanting to be noticed just yet. Still, if the shouts from below were any indication, those guards had something much more interesting on their hands.

All of the preparations at hand had been successfully completed. It was almost time to make his entrance. Smiling, Seire dropped the torch, clambered over the edge of the tower as a faint crackling became evident behind him, the dry floorboards beginning to catch fire. But he didn't climb down. Oh, no, far from it. He climbed up, heading straight for the top of the roof, even as the tower slowly began to ignite beneath him, unnoticed by the distracted, hapless targets down below.

This... was going to be a night to remember.

***

Giselle had made four stops already, and was at her fifth, this one a table in the middle of the warehouse, surrounded by impressive and presumably valuable equipment. She moved the items from the center of the table out to the edges, and replaced them in the center of the table with something Seire had given her. As the final touch, she arranged a length of string into an arcane symbol that she was sure none of the guards would recognize, but which would make all of her points of interference instantly recognizable as connected.

Having made her small but noticeable alterations to certain strategic stations, it was time for the scary part. Standing just far enough away from her handiwork to look like she didn’t want to be associated with it, Giselle located a sentry standing on a platform high above the warehouse floor, where he should have been able to see people sneaking around below. Giselle and Seire were particularly skilled, though, and the sentry may not have been particularly observant. He certainly should have been able to spot Giselle at that point, but didn’t bother looking in her direction. She’d have to get his attention the hard way.

Giselle fit the last arrow to her bow, realizing as she did so that she’d been in the warehouse for over ten minutes and had been so caught up with following Seire’s plan that she hadn’t bothered to get what she’d come in for. Still, there wasn’t time to find arrows just then. Seire was somewhere in the warehouse, waiting for her next move, and if he was discovered before she made her move, the whole plan would go to hell.

So she aimed directly at the sentry, then adjusted slightly to the right, such that the arrow would pass close enough for him to feel the breeze, and let fly. The sentry jumped away when the arrow passed by him, nearly falling off his platform.

“DAMMIT! MISSED!” She shouted, then made a show of trying to determine which direction to run, while not actually going anywhere.

“Hostile intruder,” announced the sentry, pointing to her location. “Row twelve, mid-length. All hands, apprehend the assailant!”

The guards that Giselle had avoided throughout the warehouse began to converge on her, and more poured out of rooms just off the warehouse floor. They approached from every corridor. It was time to choose a direction to run. A guard neared from one direction, and she ran in the opposite direction, straight into two more guards, one of whom grabbed Giselle, and the other of whom took her bow.

For a moment, she panicked. Losing her bow was a natural consequence of being captured, but she hadn’t actually realized it would happen ahead of time. She should have hidden it somewhere. This was the problem with Seire’s way of doing things. There were so many risks involved that she usually couldn’t sort them all out and assess them in advance.

“Careful with that!” She spat at the guard who held her bow, a tough-looking woman with a sword at her hip.

“What?” Scoffed the guard. “This old thing? It’s worthless.” She examined the bow, with its scuffs and scratches, disdainfully.

“It might be old and beat up, but it’s served me well through most of my adult life and I intend for it to keep doing so.”

“Oh, I see. Well, I wouldn’t worry about that. Depending on how things go, your adult life might not last much longer.” The swordswoman sneered as the last of the guards closed in. By now Giselle was surrounded. Two guards held her by the arms, and several more had their weapons drawn and aimed at her. If she’d run when the sentry first sounded the alarm, she could have escaped. At this point, though, she was at their mercy.

She took a deep breath and tried not to let panic over her bow mess with the plan. “Okay,” she said. “Do what you want with the bow. Just, please, do not look at that table.”

The swordswoman frowned. “Why? What’s on the table?”

“Nothing’s on the table. Or under it or near it, for that matter.” Giselle gave a forced laugh. “Let’s all just ignore the table, okay? I think that would be for the best.”

The other guards parted to allow the swordswoman to examine the table. She ran a hand over it, pausing to note the spots where Giselle had rearranged some of the items. “What have you done?” She asked, not looking at her prisoner.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Giselle said with forced jollity.

The swordswoman turned on her. “Have you interfered with any other locations in this warehouse?”

Giselle smiled. “A few. Maybe.”

One of the other guards chimed in. “Actually, I noticed some stuff piled by the pillar in the southeast corner. Didn’t think anything of it, but there was a kind of string thing like the one on the table.”

“Oh! And there was something near the door to the barracks. I saw it as I was rushing over here,” said another.

“Okay,” said the swordswoman, “Let’s move to a less sensitive area.”

The guards accompanied Giselle out of the main floor of the warehouse, to an open area in clear view of most of the sentry towers. “So,” said the swordswoman, “you’ve been all over the warehouse. What are you up to, Missy? Sabotage? Subterfuge? Spying?”

“What, it has to start with the letter S?”

A moment later the woman’s sword was at her throat. “You are on thin ice. The only reason I haven’t killed you is that I don’t know what precisely you’ve done. If you keep annoying me, I may decide to take the risk of finding out what you’ve been up to the hard way.”

Seire, where are you? Thought Giselle. To the swordswoman she said, “Oh, I wouldn’t take that risk, if I were you. I prefer the cautious approach.”

The sword left her throat, but stayed in the general vicinity of her body. “Precisely,” said the swordswoman. “And that’s why you might, if you are very cooperative, walk away from this alive. But that’s far from a certainty. If I were in your position, I would be very scared.”

Really, Seire, I need you to be here! What is going on? This isn’t funny! Since she couldn’t directly ask Seire for intervention, she did the best she could while staying in character. “I really am very scared!” She said, much louder than necessary for the swordswoman to hear, loud enough, in fact, to be heard throughout the warehouse. Oh please show up, Seire...

"GOOD EVENING!" The sudden shout from above was followed by an almost maniacal, booming laugh, as, painted against a sudden glow of red light, his coat flapping out behind him like a cloud in the midst of a gale, Seire suddenly appeared. A broad smirk formed on his face as he dramatically raised a single hand to the sky, as though he was aiming to grasp the stars in the sky above. Slowly, he extended a finger, pointing upward with the air of an actor in some grand play. All eyes in the courtyard shifted up to him, the prisoner momentarily forgotten as the thief stole away the attention of every last individual present.

"How are you, ladies and gentlemen? All of this base now officially belongs to me! You, on the other hand, are well on the way to total, fiery destruction!" Sweeping his hand down, the thief raised a thumb and snapped his fingers, a noise that seemed like a thunderous roar amidst the sudden silence.

"What's he say-" The voice of a confused guard down below was suddenly cut off by the sudden roar of an explosion, and Seire laughed once again, far louder this time, as all along the wall, countless fires sprang up in unison. In an instant, the entire palisade had become a raging conflagration, and, a moment later, the flames from within the tower he stood upon became evident, rising upward in a searing curtain all around him. He stood like a god amidst the flames, gazing down upon the mere pawns on his chessboard, just forgettable little sideshows in comparison to his magnificence. At this point, there was only one thing left to do - milk this performance for all it was worth! He'd timed his act perfectly thus far. As it was, the fools below him were all cowering in fear or gazing in awe upon him as he stood, arms spread wide, fearlessly remaining amidst the flames. Well, except Giselle, who was giving him a look that plainly said "Oh, you have got to be kidding me," but she'd actually had an inkling of what he was planning, which made her lack of fascination at his amazing entrance invalid.

"What happened?!" The swordswoman in the courtyard cried out in confusion, looking around as though she'd be able to find some answer amidst the smoke and flames. Guards everywhere were rushing about, but it was far too late to put out the tremendous fire that had now sprung up all around the very wooden, very flammable perimeter. Within seconds, every last one of his audience was assembled below him, ready for him to begin his grand address!

"A-a bomb?!" A man cried, seeming terrified that the next explosion might take place right beneath his feet. Tempting, but the thief would refrain from further scare-tactics for the moment. No, he'd already made his point quite clear. Now, all that was left was to begin the greatest con job that the world had ever seen!

Giving another booming laugh, Seire stepped forward... right off the edge of the tower. Flipping head over heels, he fell through the air, until he abruptly landed atop one of the crumbling protrusions from the tower, then leaped again. He spun upward into the air, rolling like a corkscrew while at the same time completely flipping through the air. The force of his landing an subsequent leap, meanwhile, was enough to shatter the tower's already burning supports completely, causing it to crumble violently to the ground behind him, collapsing into a burning wreck as he strode out of the inferno, smirking with delight as the guards involuntarily took a step back, cowed by what they no doubt thought was some sort of demon.

"Allow me to elaborate," Seire said pointedly, raising a hand before his face as he continued. "My associate there has already finished placing remote-activated pyromancy charges all across the compound. You will meet my demands, or all of you, without exception, will burn along with the weapons you've hoarded for so long!" Sweeping his arm out, he passed his pointing hand across every single member of the assembled crowd, drinking in their awe and fear alike.

"You're mad!" The swordswoman, evidently some sort of officer amongst the guards, cried out with shock. "Surely you don't intend to destroy the arsenal, least of all with yourself right in the middle of it. You'll die along with all of us!"

"Well, I'll die if I don't, now won't I?" He gave a smug grin. "The way I see it, I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. You, on the other hand, aren't so fortunate, now are you?"

"N-nonsense!" The woman replied, trying to maintain her calm. "I'm calling your bluff! The charges you claim to have set surely can't exist! I've never before heard of something such as-" Her words were drowned off by a sudden burst of flames as a building on the edge of the wall abruptly erupted into light, debris showering down as, at the same instant, Seire snapped his fingers once again. Under the stress he'd put them under, they didn't even realize that the building the blast had come from was where they'd been storing a rather large amount of wine, which had slowly ignited as the wall it stood adjacent to burned uncontrollably. He'd timed his act perfectly, and they never even picked up on the deception.

"Can't exist, can they? Can you honestly say that after seeing their effects with your own eyes?" Seire laughed. "In fact, I daresay you've even seen some of the charges yourself. You've certainly seen the one who set them, at the very least. Your attempt to reassure your comrades, even in the face of a danger you yourself fully understand, is admirable, but ultimately useless. Now, then, shall I level another building, or will you hear my demands?!" Seire smirked wickedly, and the swordswoman caved at long last.

"Fine! Men, stand down." The guards lowered the armaments they'd unconsciously raised, although Seire had never expected them to use them. They were too busy searching the area around them for possible signs of an explosion soon to occur. Like scared little rats, fleeing from a sinking ship. Just as he had anticipated. "What is it you want?" The woman asked.

"First: that you release my accomplice unharmed, and with all of her accoutrements intact." The woman nodded slowly, unable to do otherwise for fear of the thief causing another explosion in their midst to "persuade" her. The guards parted, handing Giselle her bow and allowing her a clear path towards the man who stood calmly amidst the flames, performing for all the world to see.

"Very good," Seire said, smirking. "Next, I demand to see your leader. Call him forth, wherever he may be!" Once again, his new puppets complied with his order, and a runner was sent into the warehouse. Seire didn't doubt that the mysterious individual behind this little band of rogues would already be on his way outside to see what was happening for himself, and sure enough, just as the thief expected, a man in a long, black cloak emerged, rage burning in his eyes as his gaze fell upon the one who was just about to ruin him.

"And finally... Seire Valefar, the legendary phantom thief, hereby commands you: surrender every last arm and armament in your possession, along with this entire facility and all of its supplies!" Raising a hand into the air once more, he swept it from before him and out to the side as though delivering an imperial edict. Then, he raised his other hand, and performed the same gesture mirrored upon his other side, looking like some divine conductor, a puppetmaster commanding his dolls to dance for him. "Renounce the gutless fool upon whom your potential is wasted, and join me!" He roared again. A wave of murmuring spread through the crowd, audible even over the flames that rose ever higher behind Seire, silhouetting him against a blaze like a midnight sun, its heat sending his coat dancing out around him. To be perfectly honest, he must have looked completely ridiculous, and he knew it. But those who stood before him were far too dazzled by the surreal nature of the seemingly impossible situation they were in, and by the equally impossible feats of the lone man who had caused their entire army to tremble in its collective boots.

Seire smiled, watching as the crowd froze in confusion, not sure what to do. "WHAT?!" The swordswoman cried in disbelief. Giving them a moment to grasp his last statement, he continued, his booming voice echoing across the entire compound.

"You heard exactly what I said. I'll repeat myself, then! Abandon the inept and arrogant buffoon who leads you, and serve under me! Or would you rather sit idle for the rest of your lives, content in your mediocrity? In your hands are weapons of the finest quality, blades forged to cut through all that stands before them! And yet here they sit, never to be used for anything but intimidation and senseless, meaningless conquest! At your backs is a stockpile of enough arms and armaments to supply an entire legion, and yet you allow it to remain unused! You and all that you possess are a monument to wasted potential, a mere shadow of the glory that you might attain!" Seire bellowed. A wave of confusion spread across the entire crowd as the thief continued, his eyes slowly sweeping across the masses and then rising to meet the hateful, astonished gaze of their leader, whose voice was completely drowned out by the flames and Seire's oration. "Congratulations, all of you!" With this sarcastic cry, Seire laughed hollowly, his voice piercing directly to the hearts of everyone present, striking at any scrap of doubt he could find and exploiting it. "You're the strongest force in all of a great, big heap of rubble! Don't make me laugh. Are you really satisfied with this? Living in a dump, surrounded by countless weapons you'll never even use, when you could take up your arms and fight? Above us are legends given form, treasure beyond your wildest dreams, endless castles in the sky over which all of you might become lords!" He pointed straight upward, and roared out his final call at the top of his voice. "If you're going to strive for anything, strive for the heavens themselves! If you march as one, what can stop you? Don't simply believe the words of one who would only hold you down for his own gain. Believe in the endless possibilities in the sky above! Believe in the swords in your hands! Believe in the grace of God, and advance, with yesterday at your backs and with tomorrow in your grasp! Don't believe in others who claim to believe in you. Believe in yourselves, in the dreams in your hearts, and in the power within your two hands! Be men, those with the courage to snatch success, or else throw down those useless blades in your hands, lest you make them too dull for those more worthy than you!" Sweeping down both arms, Seire gave this final shout. For a moment, all was silent as the crowd before him stood, stunned. Giselle, now standing by his side, looked upon him with both amazement and horror.

"Are you insane?! You're trying to recruit them?! They'll tear us apart, bombs or no!" She hissed. Seire merely grinned smugly, sliding his hands into his pockets.

"Not trying, my dear Giselle. The hearts of those with ambition are just one of the many things I often steal. We're about to make the greatest theft the world has ever known. Two individuals, armed only with a sword, three arrows, a bow, a great deal of special effects, and their natural cunning, are about to steal a warehouse, its contents, and its owners, all in one fell swoop." He grinned reassuringly - or at least as reassuringly as one who was currently standing with his back to a raging inferno trying to convince a band of thieves to become his own personal army by monologuing on the nature of manhood could possibly be - and waited. For a moment, it seemed as though his speech had failed. The courtyard was still. The enemy leader was just beginning to smirk, as though to say "Nice try," when it happened. It began as a single murmur. Then another voice picked up. Slowly but surely, a cacophony of voices had begun to resound from across the group, speaking of rumored wealth, and of the old dreams that had just begun to resurface amidst their thoughts. Seire smiled. The results had been even better than he'd thought. More than half of the crowd, discounting the moles he'd co-opted to speak up at exactly this point, was already beginning to question its loyalties. Exactly as he had planned.

"Hey, he's right!"

"What are we going to gain by standing here doing nothing?!"

"To hell with this place!"

"YEAH!"

The resounding roars built in volume until they drowned out even the fire itself. But, at the same time, cries of protest also made themselves manifest. Arguing, and, in some cases, fighting, began to break out amidst the enemy lines as the formerly uniform ranks of the guards began to split into two distinct groups which spiraled one into the other as swords were drawn. The enemy captain tried to maintain order, but it was far too late. The dissent Seire had sown amidst their lines via his own traitors was the last straw needed to change the balance in the crowd's hearts and minds. Motivated by his speech, the guard revolted, beginning to fight chaotically amongst itself. The enemy captain called a retreat, and the vastly outnumbered loyalist forces began to fall back almost immediately towards the warehouse. Seire, meanwhile, drew his sword and pointed straight forward like a general in the field.

"You've chosen well, my friends!" He roared. "Tonight, you lay claim to your first prize of many! Take up your swords, and take back the blades wielded by those unworthy of them!" As the mob cheered and rushed for the arsenal, Seire turned, grinning, at his flabbergasted partner-in-crime.

"I won't say I told you so," He said jovially, giving a grin as he removed something from his belt. The small canister popped open as he handed it to Giselle, revealing at least three dozen arrows he'd snatched from the watchtower before he burned it. "Except I just did." With a slight chuckle, he handed over the ammunition, and then turned towards the battle that was already beginning. "But, now that I've stolen myself some allies, I'm afraid I'll also have to steal their employers' lives. Which one do you want, my friend? Would you prefer to take out the sword-lady with the stick up her ass, or the cocky one who didn't just order his men to shoot me when he had the chance to?"

"The former, please," Giselle replied, taking the quiver and slinging it over her shoulder, at the same time knocking a single projectile to her bow, her eyes already searching the crowd. "I have some business to settle with her."

"Fine by me. It's the duty of the general to overcome the enemy commander, in any case! I'll leave matters here on the front to you. I have a fool to deal with." His sword slung over his shoulder, Seire grinned at his partner. And then, he strode boldly forth into the chaos, Giselle advancing by his side.

It was time to end this.

***

The captain of the loyalists grimaced as the enemies charged once again, felling several of her men and forcing the remainder of the disorganized thieves to retreat back into their garrison inside the warehouse. She alone stood fast, batting aside the attacks aimed for her with a discipline that belied her ragged forces, calling out to her retreating men to fight alongside her. But they didn't hear her, her voice drowned out by the din of battle outside. It seemed impossible to believe, but in an instant, a lone man had suddenly overwhelmed them, and through numbers of all things! Survival seemed hopeless, and-

A wave of pain from her arm cut off her thoughts as, too late to escape, she noticed an arrow flying straight for her. It buried itself in her left limb, shattering almost every bone within it instantly. She screamed and dropped her sword, fully expecting to be cut down by the advancing enemies in that instant. But the decisive blow never came. Rather, the enemy forces parted, revealing an all-too-familiar silhouette amidst the flames.

"Hello again. I believe you were intending to kill me, yes?" Giselle said calmly, looking grave as she knocked another arrow to her bow. "Better start trying while you can. The next one goes in your skull."

***

The man had once been powerfully built, that much was obvious. He had the bearing of a soldier, and yet, his gait was surprisingly slow. It was clear that time and disuse had undone the strength that years of warfare had wrought in him. How sad, Seire mused, for so much potential as the loyalist soldiers outside possessed, to be wasted upon one such as him. He was supposed to be their commander, and yet here he was, running for the side entrance of his fortress, attempting to escape with his life and abandoning those men who had been so loyal as to fight and die for his sake. What a coward, betraying his crew in such a shameless manner!

The man was just a few feet from the burning gate when he stopped, realizing his walls had long since collapsed in their entirety, forming an impassible barrier of burning wood. His route of escape was cut off, and he had realized that. But what he hadn't realized was that his worst enemy was now standing right behind him.

"Aww, what's this?" Seire laughed. The man spun about, his hand falling upon his sword as Seire strolled into the firelight, his own weapon slung casually over his shoulder, and his free hand placed firmly within his pocket. "You're planning on leaving so soon? But the party's only just started, and you're the guest of honor!"

"You!" He cried, fear painting itself upon his rapidly paling countenance as he swiftly drew his sword. "What do you want from me?! You've taken my weapons, my fortress, and even my men! What more do you plan on stealing from me?"

"Well, the answer to that's really simple. See, I really, really hate cowards. More than anything else, I just can't forgive a thief who turns on his crew to save his own skin. Those men believed in you, and you're just leaving them to die to save yourself? Pathetic. The only ones who should place themselves in a position of power are those who are ready to take responsibility when and if they fall from that throne! You ask what I'm going to take from you? Simple. First, I'll steal that infuriating false pride of yours. Then, I'm going to take your life!"

"Damn you!" The man screamed. Driven by desperation, he raised his blade and rushed forward. Seire had analyzed his form in a heartbeat. He lapsed so easily back into a decent stance, but his overall precision was sloppy. It was clear that the sword he now wielded hadn't been used in a long time. Pathetic. The thief had the advantage of positioning, skill, and physical ability here. It was almost too easy. And yet, there was one sort of person he didn't mind demeaning himself to utterly defeat: traitors. Raising his own weapon, he prepared himself to counter, stepping forward to meet his enemy's sloppily-swung blade.

"Go on," Seire hissed as his sword locked with that of his enemy's, and, with an offhanded sweep of his arm, he sent the man staggering backward. Raising his blade, he advanced, and prepared to counterattack. Leaping towards his target, he roared out his disgust to the burning night.

"Show me what you've got to be proud of! Show me what makes you worthy of surviving when those loyal men back there are dying in your place, you bastard!"

***

Seire stood at the front of the warehouse, directing his thieves as they carried supplies from place to place and escorted their prisoners off the premises. The battle of the previous night had ended almost as quickly as it had begun. With their captain felled by an arrow, and their commander brought before them in a sniveling, sobbing heap, the enemy forces lost their will to keep fighting, threw down their arms, and either retreated, never to return, or pledged their loyalty to the one who had defeated them. Mostly the latter, as the promise of punishing the man who'd left them to die in exchange for their service was a very tempting offer to the defeated party. Now that he'd secured the loyalty of almost the entire band of rogues, all that was left was to rebuild in the wake of the destruction he'd caused. The fire, although immensely devastating to the area around the warehouse, had done next to no damage to the sturdy stone-building. All in all, the thief who had assumed command of the remains was very content with the state of his new base of operations, the charred walls of which were soon to be replaced with a more reliable stone bastion once the profits from a major arms sale came through. But, more importantly, he was overjoyed at his new guild of thieves. Everything had gone even better than he could possibly had hoped, and, between the men through whose loyal service Seire had taken over the fortress, and the new recruits to his rapidly-growing band of yeomen, he had to say, he was swiftly assembling a very formidable circle of comrades.

Giselle approached from the side, a spring in her step and a quiver full of arrows, snapping him to attention. “That went off pretty well, don’t you think?” Seire asked, speaking up before most people would have realized she was even there.

“I guess so.” Giselle gave up her side approach and stood in front of Seire, so that she could have a reasonably friendly face-to-face conversation for once. “But I’m curious about something. Where in the world did you get those remote pyromancy charges? I had no idea such things even existed.”

Seire laughed and clapped his hands together. “That’s the beauty of it. They don’t! I just pasted some parchment with random magic-looking symbols on some pieces of flattened stone. Convincing, weren't they?”

Giselle’s mouth dropped open. “Wha- but, all those watchtowers... how did you get them to burst into flame at the same time?”

“It doesn’t take magic to start a fire, you know.” Seire grinned. “I used some personal connections. When I lit my torch, that was the signal for everybody to set their fires and get out of there.”

“So you had your people placed in every watchtower?”

Seire shrugged. “Most of them. Some weren’t really my people, just... rented for the occasion.”

Giselle tsked. “Careful with those bribes, Seire. Loyalty that can be bought is no kind of loyalty at all. You made some risky choices tonight.”

“Oh come on, wasn’t this worth it? You saw my astonishing entrance, leaping from the tower just as the flames erupted behind me. Every eye in the place saw what I wanted it to see, every ear heard what I wanted it to hear. I couldn’t have asked for a better set piece! In short, it was all just a grand play about the great Phantom Thief, Seire Valefar, with the whole fortress as my stage!”

Giselle shook her head, though she couldn’t help but smile. It took a long time, but eventually, Seire’s charm always got through to her. “You’re insane. You know that, right?”

“So you keep saying. But you’re still going to join my little guild, aren’t you?”

“Now why would I do that?”

“Because,” Seire explained, “I’ve got this lovely little trove of arrows at my disposal. There aren’t really any other archers around to take advantage of them. It would be a shame for them to just sit there, not doing anybody any good. Of course, if you were to become a member of my merry little band, then you could have as many as you’d like!”

Giselle sighed. “Very well.” She reached out and shook hands with Siere. “I accept honorary membership in Phantom Thieves Anonymous, and all privileges regarding arrows that that membership entails.”

Seire chuckled. “No need to be so formal about it.”

“Says you. If I’m going to be in a guild run by a crazy person, I’m going to at least pretend it’s a guild with some formal rules.”

“Suit yourself,” Seire replied, and smiled jovially. “Since we're an establishment with no formal rules, the manner in which you address your comrades is entirely up to your personal preference.” The thief removed a hand from his pocket, offering it for his newest recruit to shake. “Welcome aboard. I hope our alliance is both long and profitable to us both.” Rather forcefully wringing the archer's hand, he beamed jovially down at her.

“It's good to be working with you again, old friend.”
"The Apocalypse is basically just a tutorial." - Sicon112.

"Due to the ambiguity of this wording, I am unable to determine whether or not I am the leader of the X-Men!"
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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Blurred_9L on Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:29 pm

Quest 1: Wizard seeks food. Badly. I apologize for being so late, but finally, here it is. :P

“Darren? Darren! Are you even listening to what I'm saying?” Curtiss said, standing in front of Darren, arms extended and with an offended look on his face. Ever since they had left the safety of the city he had been blurting out word after word without a single break. The only time he had decided to shut up was the brief moment of rest they had had the night they set out to find the lost mage, just before a small pack of wolves decided to show up and try to steal some our their food. There weren't many of them, unlike what they thought at first, but them, being only 2 were at a clear disadvantage. But somehow, despite the odds, they had managed to fend them off without too much of a hassle. Well, actually... it was Curtiss who did all the work, for every knife Darren had thrown would miss it's target. His hand would shake every time one of the wolves got near, hesitating just before throwing the knife into the air. Unlike him, Curtiss just looked defiantly at the wolves, smirking at them so that they would attack him, and then, with a swift arm motion, the wolves fell to the ground one by one. After the short skirmish, there was nothing but silence. Darren, lowered his gaze as he recovered the kitchen knives resting on the grass, Curtiss' would just stare at him in silence, as if he was in disbelief of his uselessness. The full moon was out on the starry sky, the bonfire's flames danced in the darkness.
As the sun raised again, they both woke up, tired from last night's attack, but still resolved to find the mage. As they started walking again, Curtiss resumed the bragging that he had started the day before.

They had reached the entrance to the forest early in the morning. It was noon now, and they still hadn't found any clue that led to the whereabouts of the rouge mage, and Curtiss was starting to get really annoyed at this:

“Who do they think I am? Sending me off to find some hippie, tree-house living delusional mage? I AM the great Alexander Curtiss! I should be given a more important task than to go out and babysit some kid who can't defend himself and a mage too dumb to live!” he said, looking straight into Darren's eyes, who nodded, not wanting to start a pointless fight. After all, he hadn't been able to repel danger when it arrived.

“How do I expect to be useful like this?” Darren thought, still nodding at Curtiss' rambling, this time about all the adventures he had had before somehow being magically dragged to the Floating Castle.
“If you're really tired of being here, why don't you just climb a tree and try to find something?” Darren said, crossing his arms, starting to get annoyed at the endless talking. Without saying another word, the tall scout jumped to the nearest tree, and effortlessly climbed to the top. A sea of green was the only thing to be seen in a wide radius. He stayed there for quite some time, looking at the horizon and the tree tops. There wasn't that much to see, except for the occasional flying bird that returned to its nest to feed the young.

“Well, do you see anything?” shouted Darren from the ground, tired of waiting for his partner to come down.
“Nothing that isn't either a tree or a bird! There's nothing here...!” he shouted back, ready to go back to ground, but then, from the distance northwest of him purple lightning flew towards the sky, dying the clouds that overlooked the place a violet tone. “Found him!” thought Curtiss as he slid down, too excited to think about the way he should approach. As soon as he was back on the ground, he dashed northwest. “No time to explain, just follow me!” Darren raised and eyebrow while he looked at his partner quickly disappearing in the distance, hidden by the trees' trunks and leaves. “You forgot about the food, didn't you?” he said, softly, as if speaking to himself just before going after Curtiss.



The sun had begun to set. Curtiss dropped down from the weak looking tree that he had skillfully climbed a moment ago. “Still no sign of the kid, huh?” he thought to himself while he started running towards the source of the purple lightning again, not really hoping that Darren would show up soon, after all, if there was a confrontation against the mage, he would probably only get in the way of the fight. He could do without that. As he wondered the power levels of his opponent, the area was lit by another ray of purple lightning, sending off some sparks in its wake, filling the air with the crackling sound of thunder. Curtiss acted fast, climbing the nearest tree, being careful not to make any sound that would alert the mage of his presence.
And there was the mage, dressed in a purple robe, a hood hiding his face. He was standing on top of a huge unmoving rusty cog, holding some sort of cog-shaped key in his right hand, while he chanted some words and raised his iron staff, letting out more purple lightning, though this time weaker.
“So the guy hasn't seen me yet...” Curtiss thought, peeking through the leaves of the trees. A plot had begun forming in the back of his mind, he could saw himself waiting for the mage to lower his guard, too tired and hungry to keep casting his spells, then, he'd go down and stop the guy. Hell, he didn't even the kid! He could do it all by himself. “No, that would be too easy...” thought the scout, as he watched the magician stomp the cog with frustration.

“Why won't this useless piece of rust work?!” the mage shouted, throwing the small cog at his feet.

“That's... that's because you don't even know how it works!” said Darren nervously, as he approached the surprised mage, who had taken a step back, holding his staff in front of him, about to attack. “You're doing it wrong.” Darren took another step forward, the mage backed down again. “I was sent to bring you back, so please stop.”

Curtiss watched from the tree the sudden development. “Crap! I didn't expect him to show up and mess things up! Well, I'll just stay here and see what happens...” he thought, tightening his grip over the branch he was holding and at the same time, holding one of his throwing knives in the other. “...Things might get ugly.”.

The mage, realizing that Darren would be no match for him, regained his ground. “And who do you think you are? Do you think you stand a chance against me, Gindred Vaulk, master of the arcane wonders and future owner of the world? A mage so great that even the gods will have to bow down to me!” He lifted his staff, releasing another surge of lightning. Darren fell to the floor, barely dodging the shock, but something told him that the attack wasn't at full power. It had been way to easy to evade for it to be a powerful attack. “I have to be brave... that's what Wendy said, at least”. Images of his childhood friend, a young black haired girl with a love for adventure, ran through his mind, prompting him to continue his struggle. Darren got up quickly, trying his best not to show how scared he really was. The mage attacked again, letting out another bolt of lightning towards him. Darren started running clockwise around the cog over the grass, dodging purple lightning at every step. He glanced over towards Gindred, who was grasping for air as he casted his spells. Seeing an opportunity to attack, he took out one knife and quickly threw it at his target, grazing his cheek. The mage took a hand to his face, as a small drop of blood slid through it. Darren stopped. Curtiss, still hiding among the tree leaves, watched dumbfounded as the brown haired scout managed to handle the situation. “What the hell is wrong with this kid? Couldn't handle a stupid wolf, and yet, he still stands against a mage!”

“My name's Darren.” he said, raising his hands, showing that he didn't want to fight anymore. From the tree top, Curtiss wondered what could Darren be thinking now. “I didn't come here to fight. Besides, you're right about what you said, I wouldn't stand a chance against you... that is, if this was a fair match.” He took a step forward. “Truth is, you're tired, you're hungry. You've been wasting your magic for a while now. And, the most important thing, you're alone.” Gindred gritted his teeth in anger, he had been read like an open book. Darren glanced over to his sides, looking for Curtiss, hoping that he was near enough for his bluff to work. He opened the bag that he was carrying on his back and took out an apple. A smirk formed over his face. “I, instead, am well rested. I can attack from melee range or I can throw a knife at you. And I said I was sent here, but I never said if I was the only one. You might be completely surrounded by now.” He cut the apple in two. “So, what's it's going to be?” He threw the apple above his head. Curtiss, realizing that was his cue to do something, took out one of his knives, aimed and... bullseye! A knife flew in front of the mage's face, hitting the apple as it was falling down. Darren waited for the shock to seep inside the mage, as well as his own surprise to pass –for he didn't expect Curtiss to be so close to him nor for him to actually help with his plan. Filled with confidence now, he threw the other half. The same result was obtained, but this time, the knife came flying from the opposite side.

“Good, he's fast and sneaky!” Darren thought, sure that he had convinced the mage to stop the useless fighting. Or so he thought, for as he lowered his guard, Gindred raised his staff once more, this time releasing flames from its tip, aimed at Darren. Realizing his mistake and the danger he had put himself and Curtiss in, he jumped back, throwing a knife, hoping that this time he wouldn't miss. He felt the heat of the flames hit his arm just as the sharp blade left his hand. The sound of metal hitting the cog was heard.

“You shouldn't let your guard down like that... overlord wannabe” said Curtiss, who had knocked away the staff from the mage. As he expected, the mage was too weak to put up a fight, and the flames had dyed down as soon as they left the staff, merely producing some smoke. The Gindred sighed, and gave up. “Man, I'm so hungry! I can't conquer the world like this... you win. I don't even know why I had this stupid idea in the first place!” he complained, dropping himself to the floor in frustration and exhaustion. Curtiss took away the iron staff from him, while he looked for Darren in the proximity. He was not far away, looking at the burn the fire had left on his arm with a troubled look on his face. “I'm pretty sure skin is not that great of a shield against fire, you know?”

“Sorry” said Darren as he approached the cog once more. He had reverted to his nervous personality again.

“Well, anyway... What the hell were you thinking?! Didn't you realize I had a plan? What with all that 'talking to him' thrash? You know I could have taken him on and be victorious without any trouble.”

“Hey! If you hadn't run off like that maybe we could have come up with a better plan! Besides, you know it would be best if he returned alive, not with a dozen or knives going through him!” answered Darren, annoyed at the other scout. Gindred gulped at the mention of the possibility of dying like that.

“You got to be kidding me. Where's the fun in that, then?” the shouts went back and forth between the two scouts for a while. Gindred realizing they weren't paying attention to him and that the argument would probably take a while to be sorted out, started to try to get away, but just as he was trying to pass behind a tree, a small silver knife flew in front of his face, getting stuck on the tree's trunk.

“I am definitely not joking around, purple idiot.” said Darren without looking towards the mage, making him go back to where he had been a moment ago.

“Well, anyway, let's get going, I'm really not in the mood to be facing wolves again.” And with that, both scouts went looking for the knives that had been thrown moments ago, picking up the small cog key that Gindred had held with hopes of revealing some supernatural power hidden in the forest. It seemed to have broken after falling to the floor, splitting itself into 4 pieces. “Great, more thrash to bring home.” thought Curtiss. “Guess somebody will probably find an use for this anyway”.
Last edited by Blurred_9L on Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Why should we do the right thing?
-Well... because it's the right thing to do, there's no other good reason.

Am I a bad guy trying to be good, or a good guy trying to convince himself that he's not the bad guy?
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Blurred_9L
 
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:05 pm
Location: Guadalajara, Jalisco, MX

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Pixelmage on Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:17 pm

Turn Rewards:
  • Blurred_9L ~ Wolf Pelt.
  • Endless Sea ~ Wolf Pelt.
  • AMimsyBorogove ~ Scissors.
  • narrativedilettante ~ Backup Weapon: Two Daggers.
  • Qara-Xuan Zenith ~ Jewel: Ring.
  • Adell ~ Jewel: Necklace.
  • eli_gone_crazy ~ Hairpins (Lockpick function).
  • Pixelmage ~ Simple hooded cloak.

The restoration is moving along. You all wonder when and how you'll be able to brave for the floors above, but the tasks at hand are endless. Chores, most of them, but important all the same. The riots stopped, new weapons became available for those who wanted to face the challenges of the Castle. The corrupt attempt at creating a royalty was broken.

And two unassuming scouts found a key. Which door could it open once it was reassembled? Pray you do not regret finding the path it leads to. Only those who tread towards it out of their own free will are allowed inside and the price for the knowledge of what lays there may be too great.

Floor 1 Boss: Visitors from above.
No one can see the floors above, and of course, looking bellow only shows you the ground. But being higher in the Castle yields a certain awareness, as you always know where the path back down lays. The sudden burst of life was certain to attract attention, and said attention wouldn't wait for silly things like restoring a city.
Your goal: Defeat the raid party.
Quest Takers:
  1. Hector Erastus (Adell) and Anjali Torvantine (eli_gone_crazy)
  2. Konrad Schweinorg (Sicon112) and Morionem (Victin)
  3. Tamar Delaney (Scarab) and Eliziya Torvantine (agoraoptera)
Boss Fight Details: The attacking force is composed of 12 Kobolds. Small humanoid lizards that wield basic weaponry. Alone, their fighting power is slightly inferior to that of a reasonable fighter, but they fight in packs, meaning their danger level and tactics are considerable. They'll be split into three parties of 4, attacking different points of the city. Along with them is one Kobold mage (Fire and Lightning), playing the role of pack leader. That leader will be in all fights, when a party falls, he will flee and join the next party. Due to that, this will be a single three-step quest, requiring that each pair posts in the order listed above. The leader holds the key to the next Floor, he will fall when the third and last raiding party is neutralized.
Mechanics of the Boss Quest:
  1. The 12 Kobolds and the Leader will assault from the outskirts of the city. Team 1 intercept them outside, 8 run inside and this quest deals with the party of 4 plus the leader. Once the party falls, the leader flees inside.
  2. Second Party is intercepted in the town square. Team 2 engages as the leader arrives to reinforce the raiders' formation. The leader flees again after the defeat of the 4 raiders.
  3. Third and last pair will engage the 4 remaining kobolds in the cliff edges (From Quest 0: Moo, the one where the cows were sent off). After the raiders are defeated, the leader can be dealt with.
Ok, notes for this one. Easy floor, easy boss. This one requires coordination of more than 2 people, like all bosses will do. But I did frame it in a way that every duo can write independently to avoid complicating right from the start, at most you'll have to change a couple of paragraphs to account for content on the previous stages. But say, if the 3rd team finishes in one hour, you have to wait until the other two teams post because this is a quest has multiple steps and requires the continuity.

Play smart, good luck and have fun!
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Pixelmage
 
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:47 pm

Visitors From Above (Part 1):

Anji had spent the entire day in the woods, searching for a rare moss that grew in the darker recesses of the ancient wilds. The moss was useful in two ways, it could be used as a poultice for injuries, or it could be used to silence squeaky doors. Anji was more concerned about the latter of the two reasons, and breaking into a warehouse would be difficult enough without adding in the extra difficulty of trying to avoid every door in the entire storage house.

She had just located the moss, which was growing on the underside of a dead tree branch balanced precariously on top of a cliff. Stretching for the stubborn lichen, Anji’s line of thought was interrupted by a clattering sound from above her. Ducking out of sight, Anji was treated to a rare view. Kobold’s. Why did it have to be Kobolds? Anji thought to herself as a small army of the lizard men began to clamber down the steep cliffside.

Following quietly, Anji kept her distance as the Kobolds made their way down the mountainside. What are they even doing around here? Kobold’s don’t normally pass through this area As the Kobold’s passed over a rise, their leader began to start a chant. All the Kobold’s picked up the chant, which would have been fiercer if they were larger than three feet tall.

The Kobolds were not very distinct from one to the other, practically naked save for their spears and robes. The leader, however, was adorned with several necklaces, rings, and bracelets of gold around its body, and strange tribal like tattoos across its face and arms. It’s chanting seemed to take hold of the lesser Kobolds, who seemed energized by his every word and begin their march. Anji, for certain, knew they were heading to the town.

“One, two...HEAVE!” A woodsman said, as he and a several others lifted up the trunk to a recently dropped tree. On the outskirts of town they worked, clearing away some of the trees in the area to make way for the ever expanding town on this floor of the castle.

“Thanks again for the help, Mr. Erastus.” One complimented a familiar green haired swordsman, who couldn’t hear the man’s words, as he continued on to another tree and eagerly began hacking away at it. The men looked on with both amazement and a bit of fear as he did not look to be tired or seem to have any intent on stopping. “Uh, we appreciate the help, sir.” He repeated, which Hector gave a hearty laugh to before continuing his work.

“Not a problem, men!” He called out as Ivory sliced deep into the trunk he stood before. “Next time you see me though, I expect some ale in return for my efforts!” The man proclaimed with another laugh, the others joining in as well. His face turned more serious, however as his eyes gazed up towards the sky...it looked like rain was coming. “Now, let’s get back to work, time’s a wastin’, that storm will be upon us any minute now.”

Panting, Anji reached the fields separating the town and the forest. She had taken shortcuts that had been unused since the fall of whatever civilisation that had come before her arrival. There were about twenty people outside the city proper, cleaning up the farmsteads and fields so food could be produced. Most were craftsmen, here to offer their help in exchange for a ration of food and the possibility of improving their skills and hopefully progressing further. There seemed to be only one other fighting class helping the craftsmen.

Running up to the larger swordsman, Anji began telling her story to the green-haired knight in a tumble of words. “there’s a.... *pant*... Kobolds.... *gasp*... war tribe... here...” Anji fell against the nearest tree stump, catching her breath. One of the woodsmen offered their canteen for her which she eagerly snatched away from him. The worried men looked over to Hector, whose sword remained cut into the tree.

“Kobolts?” He said, pronouncing it differently than the woman. “Those things live around here? Huh...fancy that.” The man scratched the back of his chin, seemingly unperturbed by her warning. “How far?” He asked plainly, with a confident smirk growing on his face. The woodsmen started backing away from green haired giant.

“How MANY?” One of them called out in his fear, literally shaking in his boots. Hector placed a reassuring hand on the man’s shoulder, surprisingly calming him down with how calm the swordsman was.

Standing up, Anji stretched and said, “About 13, one has tattoos everywhere though. I figure that’s the warmonger among them, anyway. I just barely outran them.... well, there they are now actually.” She pointed out cooly, as in the distance the sound of the creatures high pitched calls were heard. Clearly they would be in their sight shortly.

Turning to the craftsmen, Anji said, “Unless you lot suddenly have a burning desire to meet your death today, I highly suggest sprinting home. I think we’ve got this, we’re trained for it, after all.”

As Anji talked, Hector went back to the tree he had been working on moments ago and looked at its condition. “13, she says...” he quietly said to himself. The blade was about one fourth of the way through already, it’d still take a few swings to knock the thing down. His armored hand slid across the blade lightly, as if its touch would help him think up some kind of plan. “Not a number these guys are prepared for....”

Pointing to the one who had asked for the number of enemies, Anji said, “You. Run to the square, let the other fighters know. Find every fighter you can and tell them that there’s an invasion force headed our way. Make sure Seire finds out, he’ll know to save all the good stuff.”

The craftsmen scattered like rabbits, each headed for their own burrow to ride out the storm. Within seconds the only people left in the fields were the man with green hair and the little thief. “...REMEMBER; AAAAALE!” Hector yelled to the woodsmen’s retreating backs as a reminder while they faded into the murk of the city. Anji looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “What? I want some...”

“Right...Well, this is a pretty awful way to meet.” Anji said to the swordsman as she began to pull out her knives.

“Really? This is just about the way I meet everyone these days, I think.” The man answered absent mindedly as he took hold of Ivory with both hands and yanked it from the trunk with some effort. “I take it you must be pretty well trained if you’re willing to stick by me. You deal with Kobolts before?”

“Eh, I’ve heard of ‘em but this is actually a first for me. But I’ve got a crew to protect now, can’t have it be said that Anji didn’t take care of her guildmates. You? Ever deal with demonic little green lizard men from hell?” Anji said with a nervous laugh as she began to look for a place to hide.

Heaving his weapon against his shoulder with his right arm, his left pounded against his chest as he let out a confident chuckle. “I’ve fought plenty of things people would say have come from Hell. These are no different.” He offered the free hand for a shake, but the woman was keeping her attention towards finding a potential hiding spot, so the man quietly lowered it again, somewhat embarrassed. “Ahem...uh, I’m Hector, by the way.”

“Oh, uh.. I’ve heard of you!” Anji said as she turned towards the taller man. “Hector Earasthus, leader of... oh, what’s it called... nonono, don’t tell me... SEVERED CLAWS, that’s it! You’re that bloke who overthrew the king. Boy, did that cause problems.. me and a friend of mine had to deal with his son. It was awesome.”

Hector, hearing the horrible mispronunciation of his last name, quizzically looked at Anji, before trying to spell the name out in his head. “Air...ass...” He muttered out. “Actually, it’s pronounced Erastus, the X is silent.”

“Oh, uh... sorry.” Anji mumbled sheepishly.

“Uh, anyway. Anji, right? I think I’ve heard of you too, though just in passing, I’m afraid. Judging from what you said earlier though, it sounds like you head a guild as well?” Hector leaned against the tree trunk, looking out as the Kobolds were finally coming into view by now. “Ah right, here they are. Guess we’ll need to cut this short, missy.” He looked back at her, tabbing the hilt of his blade against the tree.

“Kobolts are dangerous when they’re together.” He spoke from memory, most likely having dealt with them in the past. “The key is separation and chaos. If they don’t know what’s going on they’ll fall apart. Much like this tree here. With a little force this thing is gonna come toppling down.” Hector explained, excitement in his voice. “I’ll take a few more swings and weaken it. But I’m gonna leave taking it down to you. Let me be the bait and lure them towards the tree, then you apply the remaining force and drop it on them. Got it? ”

“You are insane. You’re the bloke with the big sword and all. I’ve got me throwing knives and some hairpins.” Anji said incredulously.

“Sorry...so then you want to be the distraction for 13 Kobolts?” He asked with a curious laugh. “Not much time to discuss this, I’m afraid. It’ll be fiiiiine!” With that, he grabbed hold of Ivory with both hands and prepared the first swing against the trunk, cutting once again deeply into the tree.

Shaking her head, Anji looked at the green knight, “You really are crazy, you know that?”
Ignoring the amused chuckle from Hector, Anji moved over to a nearby tree stump, ducking down to avoid being seen.

The Kobolds chant echoed with the thunder as droplets of rain splashed against the face’s of the two guild leaders. The swordsman struck the tree once more, on cue with another crash of thunder. With a grunt he removed the blade with a bit more difficulty as it was cutting deeper into the tree. “Once more for good measure, Ivory.” He muttered against another strike from his blade. The tree, while its sounds were masked by the increasing sound of the rain and thunder, was audibly making a creaking sound by now. If anymore pressure was applied the object would surely come crashing down upon the path in front of it...now it was just a matter of bring the Kobolds down this path.

Hector looked down at the shorter scout, giving a reassuring nod as he forcefully yet expertly removed his sword from the nearly sliced tree. “This ought to be fun.” He declared as he dashed out from around the tree, staring down the small army that headed his way. The creatures stopped at the sight of the lone man, far more curious than anything. “Hey...how’s it going?” He asked nonchalantly, as he held his sword in a defensive stance. Looking at each other both confused and stupefied, They replied with a spear whizzing by the man’s face, who just barely bent his head away from it, causing it to fly and land right next to where Anji was hiding. “Huh, friendly bunch, aren’t ya?”

The Kobold leader chittered at it’s minions, sending all 12 soldier kobolds to fight the lone swordsman, looking eerily overconfident; never suspecting that there was any sort of trap. Hector stood his ground against the oncoming horde, slowly edging backwards as the kobolds tried to find an opening to attack.

Watching the battle unfold, Anji noticed that some attacks seemed to move against the attackers will, making a potentially damaging blow only a scratch. This, combined with the fighter’s armor, meant he could continue this fight indefinitely, or at least so long as they couldn’t surround him. As the storm picked up, the tree’s creaking became more frenzied. it would be horrible for the tree to fall now of all times Anji thought as Hector passed underneath the aging oak.

With a final push, the swordsman separated himself from the kobolds, and yelled, “NOW!”

Anji leapt at the tree, giving it that final push needed for the weakened oak to fall. Screeching, the Kobolds split from the collapsing tree which threatened to flatten them. Eight managed to rush past it and head onto the path towards city; and the tattooed kobold was left alone with only the four kobolds, who ran the opposite direction of the falling trunk, left to protect him. Hector attempted to give chase to the eight retreating into the town, but a bolt of lightning came crashing in front of his feet out of nowhere, nearly causing him to stumble onto his ass. “Whoa!”

Anji saw that the culprit of the sudden magic was indeed the Kobolds shamanic leader, who extended an infuriated finger towards the two humans. Barking out orders, it called the attention of the four panicking kobolds who at that point were just running around in circles, now separated from the core of their group.

Annoyed now, the shaman began barking out again, beginning a new incantation. Suddenly in an open hand, a ball of fire sparked alive from nothing and grew in mass as it launched it over the heads of its minions and right down upon where the green haired human stood. Anji watched as the tall man dashed towards her, leaping over the downed tree and rolling clumsily on the dirt below as the ball of fire erupted, engulfing the area Hector once stood in intense flames, that slowly spread towards the dead oak near them. Climbing back onto his feet, the man remarked, “Looks like he doesn’t want us going anywhere, like cows to a slaughterhouse...That’s fine, just how Ivory likes it.”

“Who the hell’s Ivory? Anji called out to Hector as she stood, turning to face the group of little lizards. “And why does she ‘ave a death wish...” Anji mumbled quietly at hector’s back as he spoke softly to his precious sword.

“When we have the time, I’ll give you two a proper introduction. Just know that she’s got your back.” He said with a simple smirk as he tightened his grip around the hilt of his weapon, starring his enemies down. “Alright, two on five, and one of them knows magic. Not ideal, but I’ve been in worse situations.”

“Me mam always used to say that.” Anji said in a monotone, thumbing her knife. Glancing up at Hector, she caught his quizzical glance and replied, “The last time she done said it, she was nicking some prime gear from an old codger. He ‘ad all the coppa’s after her, and she stood there, tellin’ the tykes tha’ she was gonna be alright.”

“...Right.” Hector replied shortly, barely understanding what she said.

“Anyway... wot to do about these blokes, standin’ ‘round all day won’t help nobody. I’ve got business to attend to later this evening.” Anji said stiffly, staring at the fierce, tag-playing war tribe.

“I think what we do is obvious. They want a fight, we give it to them.” He scanned over the group of opponents, who oddly had left them alone up until this point. The panicking Kobolds had exhausted themselves with all their panicked running apparently, having all nearly collapsed in a heap next to their leader. From the distance between them and humans, it almost looked like they were taking a nap. “...huh. DO they want a fight?”

“I’m assuming that’s new. Speak any of that nonsense ‘e’s speaking right now?” Anji asked quizzically while the shamanic Kobold stomped around his tuckered out companions, barking an angry chant their way. It looked as if a child were throwing a temper tantrum to his sleeping friends...it certainly ruined the intimidation this creature wished to have at the moment. The leader continued to chant however, his words carrying with them a powerful echo against the rain that fell around them.

“Whatever it is, it can’t be good, we should probably take care of him now while his friends are...uh, not in the fight.” The swordsman analyzed carefully. “I’ll charge from the front, you take a side path and get behind him. If we pincer him it’ll be harder for him to use that magic, I reckon.”

With a curt nod, Anji took off, heading into the tall weeds that had avoided being smashed by the day’s earlier work, making sure to avoid the spreading fire in the area. The thunderstorm had grown, deepening into a constant thrum of thunder, echoing through the valley and resonating with the little mage’s chants. The rain did help though, it poured from the heavens in great bucketfuls, drenching everything in sight. The mage’s fireball however, blazed in the darkness. The old oak had finally caught fire, and was now a torch in front of the city.

Anji crept past the huddled forms of the sleeping kobolds, the thick war paint washing off in ribbons off of their wrinkled, warted faces. The mage was focused on his chants however, and Anji was able to slip past with no difficulty.

With a roar, Hector charged the mage in the meantime, yelling a, “Hey scale-face!” towards his opponent to get his attention. By now a red aura burned in the creatures hands, which seemed to extended outward into tendrils of energy that encroached upon the four exhausted Kobolds. With one final bark, fiery energy surged from the aura into the other lizardmen. It awoke them with a jolt as they stirred in a feral like behavior. The aura that surrounded them seemed to not only energize them, but bring out their more animalistic instincts. Just when Hector would have been within range of the mage the four leapt from the ground and intercepted him; each one grabbling into one of the giant man’s limbs. The creatures forced the warrior backwards, as they clawed at him with their bare hands.

The leader laughed deviously, before it’s head twitched a bit...as Anji was approaching it, she intercepted the weird aura surrounding it. While this had no effect on her, the disruption somehow alerted the shaman kobold who turned directly to where she was hiding. “Ah, bugger...”

A knife whistled through the air and grazed the mage’s arm. dammit all... Breaking into a run, Anji dodged past a fireball, circling back around through the weeds, trying to find an opening. There were none. The magicked fires had spread, ignoring the rains’ soft plea as it encircled the battle field. The leader turned to face the scout, fury warping his face as he left the swordsman to the other four, putting all of its attention on killing Anji.

The mage’s chanting had increased as the storm bent around him. Lightning flashes became stronger and the rain turned into hail as the majestic, three-foot tall mage started his killing curse. Anji had her back against the flames, Hector was no longer yelling in the background. Sparing a glance, Anji could no longer see the tall swordsman. So much for backup, great going Hec- Anji’s line of thought was violently interrupted by a storm of fireballs. Anji frantically dodged and weaved through the flames. She was quick, but the flames moved faster. Her unarmored arms and legs started to receive painful burns. Wincing, Anji turned to face the lone Kobold.

Meanwhile, the four’s grapple over Hector made it impossible to use his sword as they clamped around both his arms. Needed to think of a quick way to get them off of him he had only one clear idea. The tree trunk. Dropping his sword to the ground with a crash he removed a large piece of weight from his body allowing more freedom in his movements. Exerting a large amount of strength he stomped towards the burning tree, dragging the lizards clambering around his ankles and pumping his arms to fight against the two up there. The heat of the flames began brushing up against them and the swordsman as their distance grew smaller and smaller to the flames.

Finally, when he felt close enough his movements stopped. The Kobolds, still clawing at him did not even notice when he dropped down to his knees. Instead they just grabbed hold of every part they could get their hands on, engulfing him from sight as they leapt over his body. “Hold on tight!” Hector gritted out in pain as he pushed himself back off the ground, astoundingly now lifting himself up with all four clinged to his upper waist. With a roar he charged forward once more, rolling directly into the fire ahead. The heat blasted against the kobolds, whose bodies, completely surrounding the man’s upper half, protected his body unintentionally from the worst of the heat.

When the 5 escaped the flames on the opposite side the kobolds all fell off the large man, rolling on the ground to in an attempt to put the flames out around them. Hector himself quickly patted down his leggings, snuffing out any flames on them before he would have ignited into fire. Blood flowed from his forehead from all the scratches and cuts they had given him on the little trip as he looked around at the spreading fire around him. The damage was ignored for now, however, as he grabbed hold of one of the burning Kobolds, lifting him with easy now that it was just one, and with both hands slammed him right back into the ground at full force knocking the creature out instantly.

Cracking his neck sorely he gazed over at the other Kobolds, still in their feral state. Their bodies had been wrecked by the fire to them, but it did not seem to matter thanks to the magical aura that was feeding them energy, “Things are certainly heating up now.” Hector commented with a smirk, wishing Anji could have heard his awesome one liner. There was a pause, as even the rage filled Kobolds seemed to realize how lame that sounded, smacking their foreheads collectively.

Oh boy-o, this’ll be fun. Anji winced as a small fireball slammed into her upper shoulder. Fighting through the pain she moved closer to the mage, taunting, “Aw, isn’t the wittle tyke adowable? Playin’ wizard wif all ‘is likkle fwiends now, eh?” The shamanic Kobold snarled at her words, attempting to launch another bolt of energy, but the scout nimbly rolled away from it in time.

Meanwhile, The three engaged him simultaneously, with one leaping into the air towards his face while the other two scampered along the ground. The one in the air soared towards him ahead of the others, but shock appeared on its face as the man reflexively bent his body to the right enough for it to fly past him. In that same motion, his both his hands lifted upward and tightly gripped the creatures tail as it slithered past him. The Kobold let out a yelp as its forward motion was halted and let out another as it was yanked upward over the man and swung at his comrades like some sort of blunt weapon, smacking him into both of them.

Before any of them could react to the sudden counter attack, Hector lifted the creature in his grasp into the air and once again whipped him at the other two...and again. By the fourth swing the green haired fighter released his hold and allowed the creature to flail through the air back to the ground atop its beaten allies. A groan escaped the little creature as it tried to push itself up from the other two that lay beneath it, but a quick chop to the back of its head by the human left it unconscious with the rest.

The mage’s ordinarily green face turned an interesting shade of purple as he chanted a death curse, intent on destroying the annoying human. The storm started to swirl around him as he pulled energy from it, focusing all the energy he could into a single curse. Well, this is it then. Anji thought as she sprinted at the mage.

The air began to crackle and spark around the scout as she got closer to the epicenter of the curse. The mage ceased chanting and, glaring at the human, spat out what Anji assumed to be an insult as he let the magic loose. Spinning, anji rolled into the mage, narrowly dodging a thick stream of lightning bolts. The mage cackled with glee as he waddled away from the battle field, heading for the town. Oh, no you don’t. Anji jumped at the mage, picking him up as yet another volley of the magicked lightning hit. One of the bolts struck true, reaching from the heavens to hit the mage and scout, sending them flying from the release in energy.

The lightning suddenly stopped, leaving behind a downpour of rain, drowning the now normal flames. Anji’s eyes opened, a groan of pain escaping her mouth from the burns she had received. Realizing where she was again, her eyes darted around to see what happened to the mage, but she couldn’t seem to find it anywhere.

“It got away.” A voice coughed out nearby; Hectors. The man was covered with soot all over his armor and face, and the four unconscious Kobolds were laid out by his feet. “By the time it was safe enough to get past the fire, the thing had gotten out of view.” He knelt down, looking over the scouts wounds. “He must have thought the attack finished you. I decided I’d stay behind and make sure you were okay.”

Wincing, Anji tried to sit up. “Bugger... you know where he went? Maybe we can go find ‘im.”

Hector rose back to his feet, looking off in the direction of the town. “I can wager where he went.” The man said wryly. “I don’t think we’re in a very good condition to give chase, however.” His eyes looked upon her injuries once again, “Can you even stand?” Anji merely let out another groan of pain in response. The man let out a sigh, before grunting in pain himself and finally deciding to wipe the blood from his face. “...No, I think we’ll need to leave it to the others, I’ll get you to someone who can patch you up in the meantime.”

“Thanks. The Severed Claws are lucky to ‘ave you as leader.”Anji said as she tried to stand up. She failed wonderfully.

“Please, thank me when we’re safe and patched up.” He recommended, with an embarrassed cough, offering a hand of support.

Some guild leader I am Anji thought as she took Hector’s hand to stand woozily, on her own two feet.

“Ahem, anyway...thanks for the help, and uh, Let’s get going.” Hector said lamely as they began limping back towards town, hoping by the time they got there things would be under control.
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eli_gone_crazy
 
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Sicon112 on Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:30 pm

VISITORS FROM ABOVE ~ PART 2

"Kobolds! Koboooooooolds! Where are youuuuuuuu?" Morionem gazed around. Ever since that woman on horseback had rushed in the city warning everyone about a Kobold attack, Morionem hadn't stopped looking for them. Sure, most people ran away, but Morionem wasn't that kind of person. He actually was happy because this was his first taste of action ever since he came to this city, though Morionem should have taken something other than his sword in his right hand, shield in his left hand and a leather bag on his back, but it's not like he had anything else.

"Where are these damn Kobolds... Wait, how does a Kobold even looks like? They are small, but they aren't dwarfes... No, wait, dwarves - dwarven - dwarfen - dwathever. Now... Where was I? Oh, right: Dwarfosomething! Dwarvosomething! Where are youuuuuuuu?" Morionem walked until the end of the street. "Wait... What's that?" He stared at the distance until small humanoid shapes appeared. At first he couldn't tell what they were because they were far away, but as they came closer, he couldn't tell what they were because he had no idea. "Tiny lizard men... Ooooohhh, these must be the Kobolds... Well, since I didn't find any dwaaarrrrrthingies I'll fight these guys instead. But they are too small... Hm..." And he kneeled down on the ground.

"Damnit! Now my knees are dirty with mud! Wait... Shouldn't they be cold fighting naked in the rain? Hey, that one has some rad tatoos. He must be the leader!" While Morionem debated with himself, the Kobolds stared at each other, confused. One of the warriors ran towards Morionem, but he didn't notice until he was very close. "Shit, one is trying to attack me. I need to defend myself! Watdoidowatdoidowait!" Before the Kobold hit Morionem with his spear, he lunged to the side, and instead of taking the blow with the shield, he used it to push the spear away from him. The Kobold, having its spear suddenly being taken from its original target, slipped in the muddy ground. "And now, I kill you!" With a single movement from its right hand, Morionem positioned his sword in order to stab the reptile, and so he did, as the monster fell onto his blade, it penetrating deep in the lizard's chest. "Who's awesome? I'm awesome! Wait... Crap. Now the other Kobolds are running at me. Aaaaaaahhhh!" The beasts rushed towards Morionem, and he clumsily used his shield to push the Kobold out of his sword as he stood up, raising his shield as he did so to block an incoming blade.

----------------------[--Kurt--]------------------------------------------

Kurt groaned in annoyance at the loud, chipper birds whose music was drilling into his sore head in a most painful manner. Opening his eyes, he glanced around groggily at the glen he found himself in. Behind him was an ancient willow tree, its drooping boughs creating an arch over his head and leaving him in the cool shadows to listen to the gurgling of the stream off to his right, almost within arms reach.

Absently, since his thought processes were not really working at the moment, he extended an arm towards the water as he realized how thirsty he was. However, he ceased that movement immediately when a sharp pain ran down the left side of his ribcage. Dropping back against the tree with a gasp of pain, he pushed aside his cloak to see the bandaged wound. Oh yeah, that's right. Vampires.

The dirt below him was still stained red from when he had started his first aid. He tried to remember how exactly he had arrive here, but his memory of everything after cutting down the vampire was blurred at best. He could recall distantly stumbling through dark and empty hallways, places he had already tread once, before he had been brought into the labyrinth meant to be his grave.

"Yeah, how's that working out for you, Miss Bloodsucker?" Kurt sneered sarcastically to no one in particular. He wasn't in the best of moods today, for obvious reasons.

His hands groped around in the dirt for a moment, before closing on the bloodstained glass bottle lying beside him. Piecing together his fragmented and faint memories, he suspected he had headed for the nearest water source once he made it back to the surface. He had been doing some exploration in the area before, and he was pretty sure he could recall passing through here then. He must have remembered it in his injured state and headed here. A sudden thought shot through him as he remembered a certain small piece of red fabric fluttering away in the wind of that arena, and his hand darted to his shoulder like a bolt of lightning, but he let out a long sigh of relief as his fingers brushed crimson fabric. So he had been conscious enough to get the bandage back on his bite wound. Good to know.

Despite the dirt and dried blood on it, he could still feel a tiny bit of something from the bottle. Holy water, huh? Guess that was probably a good idea. Shifting around to make the movement easy on his side, he pushed himself up, using the trunk of the willow to assist him, and managed to get to his feet. A couple steps brought him to the edge of the stream running underneath the long, trailing willow branches, and he kneeled beside it, cleaning the small bottle and filling it once more. Corking it, he held it before the golden cross around his neck and closed his eyes as the metal crucifix gleamed slightly in the twisting beams of light that slipped between the leaves above as they blew in the breeze. A moment later he was done, and he stowed the glass container away in his pouch and managed to stand again. His body was stiff, but the holy water that had been applied to his wound had sealed it quite well after it reopened when he slew his captor from before.

Well, since I didn't see anything on the way out, I can't have been in there for long. Just a few hours. Otherwise those creatures would have managed to retake the halls I cleared and caught me on my way up here. Parting the branches before him, his hand dropped to the leather bound hilt of his sword at his back, the presence of the blade reassuring him. Perhaps he had not entirely left the mindset of an Executor. He probably wouldn't for a while. "Well, I'll deal with that as it comes. Yeesh, I'm in bad condition." he shook his head in disgust. "I gotta get back to town. An inn sounds great right now." Pausing for a moment, a smirk began to slip over his features. "Actually, and inn means I have to pay. On second thought, I wonder if my old employers have set up base in this place yet." Sarcastically answering his own rhetorical question, he continued. "Oh wait, of course they have. Who did I think I was talking about here?" Stretching out his limbs gingerly to avoid hurting his wounds any further, he got ready to head back to town. "Here's to free room and board!"

---------------------

"...Damn it." Kurt looked down at the city before him. Specifically, the part of it that was on fire, and the part that was filled with screaming and terrorized pedestrians running this way and that. Making his way down the hill and into the city while pulling the damp red fabric of his hood closer over his head as an admittedly poor protection against the rain now falling all around him, he walked down the center of one of the cobblestone streets, grumbling to himself in such a mood that he might as well have had a black aura of annoyance around him. In fact, if it wasn't raining already, he probably would have had his own stormcloud shooting lightning at anyone who got close to him. Panicking civilians and adventurers alike dashed back and forth across his path, but the way always remained clear for him, something he made sure of with a gratuitous application of deadly glares from under his bangs, now stained red to match his hood. "I leave for a few hours and go through hell, and these morons don't even have the common decency to delay their mass panic and ongoing invasion until I GET SOME BLOODY SLEEP!"

Some random refugee jumped and ran from him in terror at his shout, but he couldn't care less. Wounds forgotten, he listened to the sounds of combat as he stormed down the road, zeroing in on a square on the other side of a line of buildings. He could walk around to the entrance, but he was too annoyed already, so instead he stormed up to the yard of a house in front of him, ignored the gate, which was locked anyway, and kicked over the rickety fence instead, shattering the rotten wood. Marching up to a clothesline standing forgotten in the yard, his sword flashed in the dim light as it severed the metal wire from its wooden posts.

"What are you doing, man?! You've gotta RUN! They are coming this way!" Kurt turned and sent his absolute best death glare towards the panicked man in a chef's hat screaming at him from the road.

"I don't have the time or patience to deal with you. I'm tired, I'm wounded, and I've just come back expecting some rest and instead I find the city on fire. There is no way I'm running anywhere today, even if I wanted to. Now, if you will shut up and get out of the way of people like me who know what they're doing, I'm going to get rid of these pricks and the commotion they are causing so I can get some REST!"

The flabbergasted man forgot the danger for a moment and stood staring at Kurt, mouth opening and closing while he thought of how exactly he was supposed to respond to that. "But-"

"No, I have no idea who or what they are, and no, I don't care at all. Now, why don't you go hide in a basement somewhere while I go handle all your problems for you?" A hiss sounded out as he began to whirl the metal wire, attached to a makeshift grappling hook he had created while chewing out the other man. Turning and ignoring the shouting behind him, he hooked the edge of the house above him and began rappelling up the wall. He gained the edge of the slanted surface and collapsed backward on to the shingles, gasping in pain. He was pretty sure his wound had reopened. Well, he would deal with that later. Climbing to one knee, he caught a glimpse of white rounding the corner behind him. Apparently the cook had given up on him and ran off. "Ass." Growling to himself, he crawled up to the summit of the roof, and looked over into the chaos below.

The whistle of steel cutting air was the only warning the Kobolds gleefully rushing the lone adventurer still present in the square got of their impending doom. Confident in their victory, they never saw the attack coming. Even as one raised its spear to impale the man as he blocked its comrade's strike on his shield, it sprouted a new, gleaming steel limb from its chest in a shower of blood. The lizard creature barely had time to scream as a shadow fell over it and its companions, who looked up only to see the silhouette of Kurt, tattered crimson mantle spread around him as he fell like the scythe of Death.

Twisting his running leap into a flip, Kurt's feet came down with flawless precision on the hilt of the dao protruding from the Kobold, causing the flexible metal to bend under his weight, then spring back into shape as he kicked off into the air again. The sudden jerk of the blade embedded in the lizard man's small chest instantly tore the creature's torso apart as the blade was flung into the air by the sudden and violent force of its snap back into shape. Blade and wielder soared through the air together amidst the raindrops, meeting at the peak of their flight as Kurt's right hand shot out and grasped the familiar black hilt, flipping as he fell back to earth, sending puddles of water flying with the force of his landing as he skidded back away from his enemies, blade held in a right handed, backwards grip and held before his hooded face in a defensive stance.

Screaming in rage as its partner fell before it, another Kobold leaped nearly three feet from the ground, sword raised to maul Kurt in its fury, but the screech of anger suddenly became a squeak of surprise as Kurt's left hand shot up to cross behind his right hand in a pulling motion. The trajectory of the flying lizard was suddenly and violently corrected and it was yanked off to the side and slammed headfirst into a pillar of the ruined fountain in the city square by the thin metal wire wrapped around its neck and looped around the fountain, placed there by Kurt as he cut down the previous one.

Kurt stood ready, facing his enemies and holding his position, prepared to counter anything the other Kobolds could throw at him. He was, however, not entirely prepared for the dazed Kobold he had launched aside to begin stumbling around as though in a drunken stupor while the other one dropped its weapon, grasped its head, and began running in circles making odd chirping noises of panic as it tripped again and again. He blinked in disbelief.

"Really, people? This is the army of ferocious creatures that has the whole city in a panic?! This is why I'm out here in the pouring rain covered in lizard blood instead of inside resting?!" Screaming at no one in particular, Kurt dropped his defense. "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!?"

----------------------[--Morionem--]--------------------------------------

"Oh shi-" Morionem's thought on the attacking Kobolds was cut short, as was the chest of the attacking Kobold. A sword out of nowhere hit one of the lizards, and suddenly a hooded man landed straight on it. He leaped into the air and caught his sword, one of a kind that Morionem had never seen before, and as swift as his entrance was, he yanked away another attacking reptile (which had made a surprisingly high jump in the air for creatures so small, "Could they also be half-cricket?" Morionem thought) , with the power of his mi-No, wait, it was a wire, not telekinesis, but Morionem still thought it was awesome. Actually he noticed where he was now. A small plaza, with a few trees which were shaking due to the heavy rain, which got worse each second, and a few benches. Ah, a beautiful place when not under attack, or on fire. "Wait a second, fire!? Wherewhenhow!?" Definitively, the air smelled fire and ashes. Looking back, all Morionem could see was a large portion of the city, on fire. "Crap, how can there be so much fire when there is so much rain?" At the moment, the only lighting on the scene was the blazing city and the thunderbolts cracking the sky, as the day suddenly turned into night. "I wish I could use the storm to help me. Damn, if I were a better mage... Oh, well, at least I'm a swordsman too, yay! Well, I'm not as good as this guy, but... Shit, how much time did I stay idle? Oh, good, nothing is going on, well, I think the tattooed Kobold is facepalming or something, but-Get back to the real world man, stop doing nothing or this swordsman will think you are stupid! Uh.. whoa! You are awesome!"

"Oh yes, I'm so awesome." Kurt answered, followed by a roll of eyes and a change in his tone, to an extremely sarcastic one. "I just killed a retarded, three foot tall lizard. Wait, are they even that big? How did these things cause so much chaos!?" But Morionem didn't have the chance to answer that question. As soon as Kurt finished speaking, the mage created a lightning bolt out of the tip of his fingers. The strike came aimed at Kurt, but a "branch" aimed at Morionem, who defended himself with his wooden shield. His swordsman ally, on the other hand, defended himself with his sword, but the force behind the spell sent him flying off to one side. After a moment, Kurt pushed himself up to one knee, grasping his side and breathing heavily. Morionem wondered if he was wounded. "Oh, what the HELL, world?" said Kurt.

"So that lizard is a wizard. Well, that's enlightening." Said Morionem "Geckos can cast spells now. Who would have guessed?" The Kobold which was unconscious came back to his senses, and the warlock yelled in his weird Kobold language, making both warriors run at him. The beastman kept his yelling, but Morionem could recognize it as a magical chant of sorts, even though it was pure growling. A fiery aura surrounded both of them. It burnt with anger and hunger, leaving the already beasts into a feral-like state, wishing pure destruction. The shaman then raised both his hands to the sides. A spark of electricity flickered in one hand, and a blaze erupted for a second in the other. The Kobold in the left had his bare muscles to start pumping and shaking, in an erratic pattern. The one in the right had his aura thickened and seemed... Blurred, out of focus, as if covered in heat waves. "That doesn't look good," said Morionem. "Got a plan?"

Kurt stood up, dusting himself off and glared at the lizards. "Well, looks like Mr. Fancy Tattoos is gonna play it high and mighty and make us fight his minions. Fine. I'll draw the two midgets off and you go fight the bossman. I'm wounded, I'm tired, and I don't feel like dodging lightning bolts today. Since it's just two of them, I can wrap this up fast."

"Okay... Wait a second, weren't there more Kobolds?" Morionem looked at the Kobolds, which stared back. They probably were thinking of the best course of action too. But he was simply staring at them, confused. "Where did they go?"

Kurt facepalmed. "Damn it." He sighed and straightened himself. "You know what? Somebody else's problem. I'm done. I'm just going to get rid of these nuisances and leave." Morionem heard the mage ceased his chant, and his mooks give a screech of rage. "Crap, his spell must be done. We waited too much." Kurt flicked his left wrist and yanked the wire to his hand, twirling his wrist as he pulled it towards him causing it to coil up in his hand. "Whoa, the guy is good." Kurt flipped suddenly as the hasted Kobold darted at him and Kurt countered with a slash as he flew over the thing's head, but it blocked, and he darted away down a side street past the second Kobold fighter. Both of the Kobolds seemed pissed that he killed their comrade, so they followed, despite the fact that the annoyed mage was shouting at them in lizardspeak to come back.

BGM: Yuki Kajiura ~ Bloody Rabbit

"Hey, naked mage! It seems it's you against me. What do you say?" The shamanic beast gazed towards Morionem, still frustrated that his minions went away, but after looking at his enemy, he gave a wide grin. "This can't be good..." With a motion of hands, the Kobold conjured a thunderbolt, which Morionem couldn't tell if it came from the skies or from the mage's hand. "Oh shit, I'm fucke-Wait!" In a desperate move, he threw his sword towards the wizard, and he cast a similar thunder incantation. Both bolts hit the sword, in a flash of light so powerful that neither wizard could look directly at it. But in the confrontation between both powers didn't last more than a few seconds, and the aftershock happened when a shriek of pain cut the air.

"Holy... Crap!" Morionem shouted. His enemy screamed because of the pain, and held his right hand over his left arm. Morionem's sword landed in a small puddle to the left side of the Kobold mage, the wooden handle slightly burnt, but as the storm poured over it the fire slowly died, and the water became steam at the slightest touch of its steel blade. Apparently, the sword hit the Kobold and fell to the side, giving him a taste of two lightning spells and the touch of a heated metal. "Damnit! How is it possible the sword didn't stab him straight? Go figure..."

The shaman stopped his painful lament, and shifted to another kind of yelling, one that sounded like a curse. Both kinds of curse. Morionem gave a step forward and yelled: "Hey, you! Gimme back my sword!" The Kobold mage created a flame in his hand and shot a fireball at Morionem. He tried to dodge it, but his foot got stuck in the mud because of the strength he had used to step forward. Before losing his balance, Morionem used his shield to defend himself from the blaze that darted towards him, evaporating the rain that it touched. He was hit, his shield was set ablaze, but only then he hit the ground. The Kobold wizard kept creating and shooting fireballs at Morionem while cursing at him, and the latter rolled to his right side to dodge them. The human stood up, and spoke: "Hey, do you wanna a fireball? Take this!" He threw his burning shield, as if it were a disk, at his enemy, who was hit in the belly. "Okay, in hindsight, that sentence was lame." Morionem charged at the Kobold, which hadn't have the time to recover from the last blow. He headbutted the beast in the belly, and both collapsed back.

Morionem recovered fast, and crawled back to pick up his sword and shield. Meanwhile, the reptile started another chant. "Not this time!" The human poorly threw himself forward, but still managed to deliver a punch at the shaman's crotch. The Kobold stumbled backwards, and shrieked. Morionem stood up and struck his enemy with his knee. He then pulled him close with his shield hand, and raised his sword. Seeing the following attack, the Kobold tried his best to dodge, throwing his head to his right, but yet the sword penetrated halfway through his shoulder, making him scream even more. "Damn, that's not what I wanted to do... Oh, wait, I got this!" Morionem spun his wrist and pointed the blade at himself, then proceeded to smack the Kobold's left eye with the burnt handle of his sword. After a few smacks, the Kobold yelled... Of rage. He used his right hand to create a burst of fire, burning some of the human's left leg. Morionem backed and fell to the ground, letting the Kobold free. The beast gave an enraged look at the human, and pointed his hand at him. "Oh no, you won't!" He pointed at the Kobold, and both fired lightning at each other.

The shaman was thrown behind, and laid in the muddy ground. Morionem fell behind, and his head landed in a puddle. His shield was burnt to its last piece and was left unusable. He used it to defend some of the thunderbolt that struck him, while the Kobold had nothing to do so. He tried to get up, and noticed the Kobold already had, and was now running away. "Come... Come back here! You... Son of a bitch!" - He said panting. "Grrrrr... That coward!" Morionem stood up. "Okay, lemme see... If he ran towards that direction, that means he is going to... Wait, is there the outskirts of the city or its center? Hm... Better look at the sun to... Damnit!" He angrily kicked his shield, which hit the fountain and broke. "Oh... Well, at least I can always make a new one out of a barrel cover. My sword... Lemme see... Oh, it's not that bad. It shouldn't cost much to repair the handle. Actually I could even do it myself... Well, it's not that bad, only a bit darkened. Still usable. Great!" He put his sword in its scabbard and checked his bag. He had nothing that could possibly break, and apparently he lost nothing. "Good. Better start some healing going." He took a roll of bandage out of the leather backpack and bandaged his leg. Morionem then cast a healing spell on it and put the roll back where it was. He picked up a glass bottle and drank some water. "My magic probably can heal me, but if I want this done faster I probably should go to an hospital. Wait, are there hospitals in this city? Oh, whatever. Churches probably have clerics there, they probably will do me better than an hospital. I only know one church in this city anyways." He put back the bottle at the bag, and tried to walk. Even then, his left leg hurt. Morionem still could walk but... For the better, he used his sword, in its hilt, as a cane, and gladly walked towards a church.

----------------------[--Kurt--]------------------------------------------

Panting for breath, Kurt dashed down the street as fast as his legs could carry him, disregarding the excruciating pain running up and down his side with every step. He dashed past the house where he had acquired the clothesline, and gritted his teeth when he recalled his argument with the passing cook, noting the irony of his current situation with no small amount of annoyance and gritted teeth. And here I said I wasn't going to be running any more today. Look how that worked out!

Behind him, a high pitched cry echoed down the road, and he heard claws scratching on stone somewhere up and to the side. On the rooftops!

On instinct alone, he rolled to the side as the screeching Kobold he had so offhandedly yanked aside minutes before slammed down where he had just been. Coming out of his roll in a crouch, he pivoted into a low slash, trying to bisect the small creature, but lightning flashed across its flesh once more and it vanished suddenly into a leap over his head, using the same move he had tried on it in the square. Not having enough time to raise his arm above his head to block the blade searching for his neck from above, he released his grip on the hilt of his sword, extending a finger just in time to catch the ring of the pommel and turn the momentum of his slash into a spin that carried the blade around in an instant, just barely parrying the Kobold's strike.

The light little creature was, in the end, unsuited for such a technique, as the force from the clash of steel on steel knocked it off course. Taking advantage of the momentary lull, Kurt leaped up from his crouch and began to run again. He noted with trepidation that his pace was slower than a moment before, and the pain was increasing.

A screech of anger from behind him told him that the second, slower Kobold had nearly caught up with him, but was now falling behind once more. Just in time. Pain threatened to consume him, but his willpower managed to fight through the fog attempting to cloud his mind. Gotta get out of here. Need an enclosed space.

His boot came down on slippery wet cobblestone perhaps a little harder than it should have, and for a moment, his leg gave way as his foot tried to slide out from under him. He caught his balance, but the momentary stumble was all that it took. The rush of air beside him told him that the speed enhanced Kobold had indeed seen and taken advantage of his opening. Unfortunately, realizing what was about to happen would not stop it. The attack came from the right, so he was able to bring his sword to block, but the speed of the attacker, combined with his loss of balance, made that action essentially useless.

Hurled aside by the force of the blow, Kurt flew head over heels into the gap between to building, before crashing into a pile of rubble blocking off the alleyway. Blackness swept over his vision.

He opened his eyes what he guessed was only a few moments later, judging by the fact that he wasn't dead yet. His side was covered in something warm, wet, and red, and it didn't take a genius to know what that meant. His thoughts were too jumbled to make anything coherent, but he stumbled to his feet all the same, though when he managed to stand, his legs almost gave out once more and he took one or two steps forward, almost falling.

Laughing noises and scaly, clawed feet on cobble caused him to look up, his vision blurring slightly. The two Kobolds seemed to find his state hilarious, and Kurt groggily thought about how he must look, battered and bloodstained, wearing a tattered and soaked cloak. Then his mind managed to compute that the Kobolds were hostile, and he blearily raised his sword in front of him to defend himself - or he wound have, if his hand had still been holding it. The sight was enough to send the lizard men into another laughing fit, but the sudden shock was also enough to set Kurt's mind moving once more.

BGM: Yuki Kajiura ~ Swordland

He reviewed the situation. He was trapped in an alleyway with a hill of rubble at his back too high to climb before his opponents caught him. The only other exit was blocked by two enemies, one faster than him, and the other magically enchanted with something, probably involving fire. He was down a sword, but he caught the glint of steel about seven feet away lying in the rubble pile. It would only take a few seconds for him to get it, but the magically enhanced lizard men would catch him before he could. They were amused for now, but he was under no illusions that they wouldn't cut him down the moment he made a dash for the weapon.

It was like those ghouls all over again, though the Kobold was significantly slower; Kurt could see him moving, after all. However, Kurt was also far more wounded now, and the Kobold had something the ghouls did not. Intelligence. However, if Kurt could just think clearly, he could use that to his advantage. The lizard creatures advanced. He had to act now.

Whirling, he dived for the hilt of his sword, but his first step came down wrong and he stumbled forward once more. The whoosh of air behind him signified the incoming attack. You... are... mine! Turning the stumble into a sudden pivot, Kurt's left leg whirled around in a blur of black cloth, the low roundhouse kick colliding with the temple of the charging Kobold and knocking it off course enough to crash its head straight through the stone brick wall to his right. He felt a satisfying crunch as the skull of the creature collapsed before his boot.

However, while one was down, he wasn't out of danger yet. He was a perfectly capable fighter even without the skills of an Executor, armed or unarmed, but he was not unarmed.

The screeching second Kobold leaped forward, and Kurt whipped up his hand, sending a coil of metal wire flying through the air. Twisting his wrist and catching the second end of the makeshift garrote, he stretched the wire taught and flicked the incoming point of the Kobold's blade aside, spinning around the creature as he did so and sending the wire twisting through the air once more. The Kobold stumbled, almost falling backwards as its neck collided with metal wire in front of it, and at the same time, with a grin rising to his lips, Kurt gave a yank on both ends, pulling the wire taught around two protruding bits of rubble and slingshotting the Kobold over his shoulder, sending it rolling towards the mouth of the alley.

Kurt was smiling once more as he casually wrapped the wire tighter around his left hand holding a segment up in front of his face in a ready stance. "Ahhhhh, it's been too long since I did this. Know what they used to call me, Scaly? No? Too bad. Now, I've had an absolutely awful day, and I'm just about fed up with this, so what do you say I just string you up here and leave you with your friend?" The only answer he got was a screeching call of rage. Kurt grinned as the lizard jumped at him with an overhead slash. "Bring it on!"

The flick of the wrist to create a loop, and the crossing of his arms to close the loop on his enemy's weapon was a motion he had preformed uncountable times. The follow ups were different in many cases, but the opening was one of his most simple techniques. There was just one problem. He wasn't using his old cable, for that was destroyed long ago. The far inferior metal of the washing line wrapped around the incoming steel flawlessly, to be sure, but as it tried to close on the edge, the frayed material finally gave way and snapped. To add insult to injury, the waves of heat around the Kobold suddenly intensified, and flames ran down his blade, melting away the remaining fragments of wire.

Realizing only then the folly that his old habits had led him into, Kurt frantically threw himself aside, a desperate, last second dodge. He barely made it. Slipping past the intensely hot steel, he felt it slice across his right shoulder, but he had escaped instant death. He tried to stumble past the Kobold, but the air suddenly pulsed with heat around him, and he threw himself into a roll just in time to avoid a blast of flames. What the hell was THAT? Whirling, he saw once more the heat distortion around the lizard and realized what he was facing. A counter attacking fire barrier of some sort! But then why didn't it trigger when I first caught that thing in my wire? He immediately answered his own question though, remembering how little time the wire was actually in contact with the blade and the Kobold's neck. There's a delay!

Even as he realized this, the lizard man screeched and dashed at him with yet another overhead attack, intent on not letting him get his balance. Steely eyes narrowed, and without even thinking, his body moved on its own, his eyes seeing a much different scene.

The red-skinned being, flames still pouring out from all over its body and washing over it raised the immense obsidian greatsword above its head for one final execution blow. Blood and bodies of the creature's victims, strangers and people Kurt knew mixed without prejudice, were strewn across the ground behind it, and Kurt's broadsword lay shattered ah his feet. He was angry. Oh so angry. He hated this thing, this violation of everything natural in the world, with all his soul. His rage, finally shattering through its containment like especially brittle glass, went out of control.

The creature before him roared with the voice of a thousand damned souls, the required sacrifice to create this abomination from what was once a man. Konrad roared back, his voice matching the creature, even as he lunged forward towards the descending blade. Razor sharp, pitch black rock cut through the air less than a centimeter to the left of his face, and white hairs flew through his vision. His left elbow came down, swung with all of his might as his body twisted with the blow, snapping up his knee. Both joints crashed into the creature's wrist from opposite sides, and the crunch of snapping bone and hellish screams of agony filled the air, but Konrad payed them no heed. Pivoting around behind the creature, he extended his left arm, and the back of his fist crashed into the flaming temple of the creature, so fast that the raging inferno could barely lick at his fingers before they were once more pulled away.

Stumbling and screaming, the creature backpedaled, trying to escape the pain, but the enraged Executor would not allow the thing to escape. Obsidian hit the floor with a clatter, dropping from the limp and useless hand as Konrad stepped forward, twisting his hips and extending his arm, hand partially open for a palm strike. A black sleeve blurred through the air for a single instant, and then the thud of the abomination hitting the wall rang out, giving way to silence, save for the slow gurgle of the dying thing's punctured lungs filling with blood.

Konrad stood with his fist outstretched.


Kurt's right fist dropped limply to his side, his fingers falling open as blood dripped from the back of his hand, which was split with protrusions of broken bone. Walking over to the gurgling Kobold, he quickly bent down and snapped its neck, putting it out of its misery, before slumping onto the nearby rubble pile, his legs finally giving up the fight against exhaustion. He hadn't used the unarmed combat techniques he had learned as an Executor in more than two years now. He looked down at his broken hand. He knew without even looking at it that it was probably broken in two different places. The first from the palm strike that had taken the Kobold's wind, and the second for the follow up punch that had come so fast after the first strike that the flames still trying to converge on his hand from the first found themselves crushed into the Kobold's bare chest and snuffed out in an instant, so fast that his hand had barely been burned. That had been what shattered the lizard man's ribs.

Kurt blinked, and he noticed that the rain had stopped. Funny. He had been sure it was raining a moment ago. His eyelids started to slip shut again, but he forced them open, realizing that he was passing out. Pulling out the holy water he had made previously, he clumsily sprinkled it around his side wound once more, and poured the rest on his hand, though plenty of it missed. He was so light headed he could barely see straight. However, after a few minutes, the dizziness subsided due to his blessed potion, and he leaned his head back. A wave of exhaustion washed over him, more intense than anything he had felt for a long time. It was a struggle to stay conscious and not fall asleep on the spot, but it wasn't as though he really cared about comfort in this state. He just wanted rest.

"Yea, brilliant idea, that. Sleep in the alleyway with two dead bodies and looters probably on the way. Right. I'll get riiiiight on that." He really didn't want to stand, but he also didn't have much of a choice in the matter. So, pushing himself up weakly, he managed to reach his feet, and leaned against the rubble for a minute for support. Then, the dizziness fading away a little bit more, he managed to limp over and collect his sword, leaving the old wire in pieces where it lay. It was a hopeless prospect now, and besides, it was really too weak to be useful in the first place.

Somewhere to the north, he heard bells faintly tolling. "How nice of them to show me the way." He growled under his breath, knowing it was probably signalling to those that had left that it was safe to come back. Pulling his hood over his face, he exited the alley way and stepped into the street, not lit by the evening sun. Turning his face towards the bells, Kurt slowly limped off to find somewhere to rest.
Normal people are the easiest to manipulate. Too smart and they have an annoying tendency to catch wind of your plans, too dumb and, in the words of a certain pirate, "You can never tell when they are about to do something incredibly...stupid."
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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby agoraoptera on Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:13 pm

“...”
“I’ll be back soon!”
“...”
“I promise.”
“‘I promise’,” Eliziya mimicked. While the urge was involuntary, her lack of an attempt to curb the impulse was not. Even as Anji took off, waving in apologetic departure, Eliziya sighed and continued scrubbing the dishes. Menial work, but she could do that at least and the innkeeper let them stay more or less for free.
Meals not included, she thought idly. But Anji had her plans. Eliziya didn’t know how her twin obtained their daily sustenance from the innkeeper, thought, of course, she had suspicions.
Nevertheless, Eliziya trusted Anji. Eliziya simply wished she didn’t have to wash all the dishes alone...

*

Somewhere deep down, Tamar always figured that if his life were part of a story, he would’ve been villager number two, or a tavern waiter or something. Memorable enough to have a few lines, then forgotten while people’s gazes turned to more interesting spectacles. A teenage boy wandering around in the rain was hardly interesting, and he kept his hood pulled up over his head, trying to ward off the constant drizzle that seemed to seep in everywhere.

Not that Tamar had read a lot of stories. His family had written a third of their library, but their work had been on magic, and mysteries Tamar never understood given that he had, in the words of his less harsh relatives, ‘all the magical potential of a five hundred year old bottle of vinegar,’ not fairytales.

Tamar supposed he had wished he could be somewhere else, anywhere besides where he had been. He just wasn’t convinced that here counted as anywhere. And at any rate, being drawn to mysterious floating castles? Surrounded by warriors and a half built town that seemed as if it had been constructed for them? That was the sort of thing that happened to protagonists. Not side characters.

He was at the edge of town, where the crumbling ruins hadn’t yet been restored. It was a little different when the idea was to stick the pointy end into someone who until that point had been breathing, in an attempt to make them stop. Tamar had been trailing the town for days, watching as the riots rose and died away, hearing the rumours. For the most part, he kept to himself, but... well, there had been that incident with the thugs and a dark alley and the few coins and food he had left.

Tamar didn’t want to think about that.

*

Time was ticking slowly. A second passed. A minute. An hour, then two, then three and Eliziya lost count.
“Where’s Anji?” She murmured to herself. “She said she’d be back soon.. Three hours isn’t soon.. Where’s she?”
A small candle-light flickered into being from her index finger and she watched the shivering flame unblinkingly. It didn’t matter how many times she’d done it; the quivering jitters of fire never failed to hypnotise her. Shoulders drooping in tandem with her eyelids, her muscles relaxed entirely and she fell into a semi-conscious form of awareness, awake but not perceiving.
When she finally awoke from her trance-like state, Eliziya realised that it was already dark. The evening had came and went without her notice but Anji still wasn’t home.
“Where’s Anji? Where could she be?”
Abruptly, apropos of nothing, an icy cold fear trickled its way into her mind. Without a moment’s hesitation, the young mage ran out.

*

Tamar didn’t see the messenger. He saw the fire, everyone did. It took all his sense not to run towards it. But he heard about the attack from a quasi-drunken gaggle of villagers, yelling to one another as they passed.

‘An... an’ she was sure she was sure?’

‘Sure she was sure! You don’t mistake people for bloody Kobolds now, do you?’

‘De’pnds on the people!’

‘Ahh, shaddup. Fights goin’ on, midtown... ‘cluding some o’ those guys from the Tavern the other day, an folks from the lumberjacks.’

‘Yeah an-an there’s others. Who the hell was that guy already bleeding all over the place when he got here?’

‘That’s what I want to know! Think they can take ‘em?’

‘Better hope they can, ‘less you wanna try your luck!’ C’mon, it’s safer inside...’


Tamar hesitated. Well, getting inside would’ve been nice, if he’d had an inside to get to. He’d heard of Kobolds, but never expected to see one outside of a book.He unconsciously gripped the hilt of the sword, pondering his options. To one side lay the city; to the other plains, which couldn’t decide whether they were fertile greenery or scrubby grassland. It felt like the Castle had cobbled together the idea of what a field should be without really understanding. There was a feeling of roughness in the air, a constantly prickling tension.

He wasn’t sure why he chose to head for the plains, and he hadn’t realised how far he’d gone until he saw, or rather felt the cliff. The ground beneath shifted, and Tamar stepped back in time to avoid going over the edge with a clod of turf.

‘Saints damn it... nice one Tamar. You survive a bunch of alley thugs and then fall off a cliff? Really?’

It was then that he saw it. At first glimpse it looked like a firefly, except if it was, then it was an exceptionally clumsy one, which liked to stumble around and double back on itself. Besides, fireflies shimmered green or blue in the swampgardens back home, not orange like fire. Then he realised it wasfire, in the hand of a figure wandering the grassland... dangerously close to the cliff.

He found his voice for the first time in days. A croak, then a yell: ‘H-hey! Firefly, watch it!’

In fairness, he hadn’t meant for them to leap into the air in panic.

*

“.. Firefly, watch it!”

The shout was so sudden, so unexpected that Eliziya did more than flinch, she leapt about a foot into the air and fell forward, yelping in surprise, then horror as her feet hit nothing but crumbling soil pushing her over a cliff that she hadn’t even suspected was there and her mouth opened and she was so afraid and-

Someone grabbed her arm from behind and for a moment, her thoughts lapsed into something like “I’m falling, oh by the saints, I’m falling, oh saints help me- who is that!”, except that it was considerably less coherent.

The person pulled her up fairly easily- not a surprise, considering her thin frame- and she collapsed onto him, too frightened by her ordeal. Why had she come up here in the first place? Would Anji really have been up here? Eliziya suddenly felt like an idiot. She’d assumed the worst had happened to Anji- falling from a height- but just because she was so stupidly afraid of heights didn’t mean that Anji would have been up here, would she? No, she wouldn’t have and now here she was, up on a cliff, lying down on a-

Oh saints, what was she doing? Eliziya, once more in a panic, reacted instinctively and slapped the- she now saw- boy.

“Oh saints, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!” was what she meant to say. What came out was an incomprehensible rapid mumble and even the boy could see she was close to tears.

*

Okay, in retrospect not the best plan ever,’ Tamar thought, somewhere between lurching backwards with the figure’s hand gripped in his, and ending up on the ground with the figure –it was a girl, wasn’t it?– sprawled on top of him like a sack of soggy potatoes.

Did he mention that she was a girl? As in female? His brain felt the need to repeat this. The fire in her palm had gone out, obscuring her face, but she couldn’t have been older than he was....

She was also slapping him in the face.

This didn’t strike Tamar as a common introduction method. At least the damp of the grass had put out the fire on her hands but still, be damned if it didn’t hurt.

It was only now he noticed that she was sort of... crying.

Oh dear.

‘Uh... okay... ow?’

*

“Okay.. ow..” She repeated softly, too afraid to stop herself. “I.. I..” She began to mumble again.

A boy! He’s a boy! He just saved me? Oh saints, what am I doing.. Eliziya thought worriedly. He must think I’m a terrible person for hitting him after he saved me.. But how do I.. how do I show that I.. I don’t know, I don’t know, oh saints alive, a boy just saved me! In her agitation, flames began to burst into being about her shoulders, a sort of a halo framing her black hair.

*

Well, this was kind of awkward.

The only girls Tamar had ever really met before coming to the castle were the maids at the family home, who never did anything more than curtsey, and his sister, who was tall, terrifying, and very much older than he. This girl looked about as different to Tamar’s sister as it was possible to be without being a boy. And she definitely wasn’t that. A boy, that is.

Still, the ever present threat of the Kobolds was a knot in the back of his throat, which seemed more important than why he’d just been slapped by a teenage girl. ‘I... I’m sorry. I thought you were going to go over the edge! So I yelled and. um... you know you’re on fire, right?’

It was kind of surreal, watching a teenage girl trying to put out her hair.


*


“‘You know you’re on fire, right?’” She mimicked, distraught as she began patting out the rampant flames, unable to fully stop them from materialising in her distressed state.

A boy.. I need to calm down, I need to calm down, why can’t I calm down, I’m gonna set him on fire at this rate, that’ll be bad, I mustn’t set him on fire, I shouldn’t, it’s bad and wrong and oh crap..

‘I... uh... that’s a clever trick, you’re a mage, aren’t you?’

“Trick, you’re a mage, aren’t you?” Eliziya coughed out uncertainly, then somehow managed to add in, “Yeah, I am. I’m sorry..”

‘Um... It’s... fine. So... so who are you and why are you out here?’

“Why are you out here?” She returned, changing the intonation somewhat. “Have you- have you seen a girl?”

‘A... girl...?’ The boy wasn’t looking at her hatefully, at least, but he certainly seemed confused. Well, I saw you, but... no one else.’

“‘No one else.’” Eliziya repeated mournfully. Anji really wasn’t here after all. “Uh.. I.. T-thank you.”

‘I... you’re welcome? But wait, you can’t just wander around in the dark, what’re you doing out here all alone?’

“What’re you doing out here all alone?” Eliziya muttered, flustered at her inability to communicate effectively, which, in turn, only made her stutter and stumble more.

‘I... okay, fair enough. But something’s going on in town, can’t you hear it?’

“Something’s going on in town, can’t you hear it?” She clapped a hand to her mouth, desperately wanting to not embarrass herself any further in front of the boy.

‘Uh...’

‘Uh...’

Eliziya was, by this point, wishing there was a convenient hole she could crawl into. ‘I-I’m sorry, I can’t help it, it’s sort of a thing-’

That was when the spear shot between them. At least she thought it was a spear. She could feel the hiss of it against her skin. The boy was on his feet at once, drawing a sword from a scabbard at his waist. ‘Hey! What do you think you’re...’ he trailed off. Eliziya thought she heard him swear and had to force herself not to repeat it, even though at this particular moment, the reaction seemed perfectly justified.

The voice sounded as if somebody were crushing gravel in a pestle. ‘Urgh. More meatbags... enough already.’

Eliziya couldn’t have been more surprised if a cow had started speaking perfect english right in front of them. She had no idea how those ugly beaks were even shaping themselves around human words, but that voice had most definitely been in the common tongue. A human language... Kobolds could speak?

The first voice was joined by others, higher pitched and sharp as nails.

Kill them!’

Rob them!’

Rob the meat bags first, then kill ‘em!’

Both at once!’

‘...Kobold.’ Eliziya swallowed.

“Uh, excuse me?” The boy asked her softly, sparing a moment to glance at her. “Why are you repeating everything the kobolds are saying?”

“Saying, saying, I’m not purposely repeating!” She exclaimed in frustration. “Saints, the kobolds, I-”

“Stay back.” He told her, but even Eliziya could tell that he was frightened. Increasing the illumination from her flames to fight back against the rain, she picked out one, two, four kobolds. No, five. One other slightly larger kobold stood apart, a leader of some sort garbed with various talismans and tattoos, obviously magical in nature. At least, obvious to her.
.
The Kobolds made snapping motions, and the boy seemed to realise that the creatures with sharp, cruel eyes and a variety of sharp objects were a lot more relevant than Eliziya’s speech quirk. The leader sneered. ‘Stupid human children playin’ out aft’r dark. Why not go home to parents, little meatbags?’

The boy scowled. ‘S-so you’re the ones who’ve gotten the town so worked up.’

The leader snorted. ‘Humans took ruins. Humans took gold, stole this place. Humans think they belong in the Castle, where Kobolds were here first.’

‘Whatever you’re angry about it’s not our fault...’

‘Anger? Why would we waste anger on meat?’ The leader laughed, and there was a surging motion from the Kobolds at the front, like snapping dogs. Eliziya felt one scratch her arm and her hair and skin flamed in impromptu panic, sparks lancing from her palms. The Kobold leapt back, hissing.

‘Stop it!’ The boy yelled, and though he didn’t entirely seem to know what he was doing with that sword, he would’ve gotten points for effort. ‘Touch her again and I’ll use this!’

If her cheeks hadn’t already been flushed from the fright and panic of the past few minutes, Eliziya might have blushed at his sweet offer, even if it was foolhardy. If their lives weren’t at stake, she might even have thought him touchingly silly.

When it came to it though, it was mostly just silly, and the Kobolds responded as Eliziya expected. They Kobolds had clearly not been having the most satisfactory of days, and the idea of spilling blood, any blood, was greatly appealing. They charged, spilling stolen gold everywhere as they did so. The damp air glittered with gold pieces.

The boy’s eyes widened. Heat blossomed in Eliziya’s veins and spilled from her fingertips. A kobold leapt for her face, but Eliziya managed to twist in such a way that it slipped past, the rotting scraps of cloth it wore catching aflame. Another of them braved a leap, but the boy got there first, pushing the sword into its gut. There was the thud of bones hitting the ground, and the sword came back covered in blood.

‘R-right! Who’s next?’ he yelled.

The answer to that, it seemed, was everyone. The kobolds all seemed to scream at once. ‘Kill it kill it kill it!’

The hostility in the air was so thick that Eliziya felt utterly choked and a wave of nausea passed over her, causing her flames to flicker unsteadily like a dying candle.

The kobold leader, wielding its own brand of magic, waved its clawed hand in an arcane pass and several beads of fire manifested about its head, hovering in a rough orbit.

“Idiots!” It snarled, ostensibly at its underlings, but with a leery stare at Eliziya that chilled her far more than she could ever imagine. “How many times have you seen me burn the humans? And you, meatbag, you have fire, but you sure’ve never had lightning!”

Thunder cracked and a bolt of incandescent lightning forked out towards her and hit her with such a startling jolt that her entire body convulsed and jerked. Muscles spasming and contorting painfully, Eliziya instinctively reached for the core of her self, the deeper part of her magical strength. Like fire, it warmed. Unlike the conflagrations, it restored rather than destroyed and she drew upon that power to immediately heal herself where the lightning bolt struck. In the split-second after the fulmination vanished, she gasped for air, wounded certainly, but still alive, gloriously, blessedly alive.

One of the kobolds was... gone. What in the world had happened to it? The forked lightning must have branched out unintentionally and sent one of the lizard-beasts flying off the.. the.. cliff...

The boy was looking at her, the intensity of his concern strangely tender, but his lips were moving and she could barely make out his words through the- she now realised- high-pitched ringing of tinnitus in her ears that was even now dying down. The ground around her seemed to sparkle, and it took her a moment to realise they were surrounded by the kobold’s dropped spoils.

“-alright?”

“Alright,” Eliziya gasped, “I’m alright. Where- what happened, there were five..”

“It got thrown off.. The cliff-”

“Stop your lousy squabbling, meatbags!” The kobold mage snarled. “How do you like the taste of thunder and lightning, mage-girl? We’re gonna shank you and feast well on your flesh tonight!”

“Wait!” The boy stepped forward, quaking in his shoes. To Eliziya, he said, “Stay back, whatever you do.”

“Whatever you do, whatever are you doing?” She exclaimed fearfully.

‘I’ve... got an idea. They’re not at full power, they can’t be. If they were that would have killed you. They just fought their way through the whole town.’

‘T-through the whole town? I-I guess so, but what—’

The boy gave her an uneasy smile. ‘I think we’ve got this. Just... follow my lead, alright? Keep that fire handy.’

The leader of the Kobolds watched spitefully as the boy righted himself, his remaining three allies geared to attack. Then, to Eliziya’s surprise, the boy shifted his sword so that it was lying sidelong in open palms: a gesture of surrender.

‘You... you can stop now. Unless you want us to kill anymore of your friends?’ The boy’s voice trembled. Eliziya hadn’t realised how much she was shaking too. Her skin hummed beneath the surface, where she had healed. His actions made sense. Neither of them could keep this up. They weren’t heroes...

...But all that gold had been stolen. People had been hurt. Eliziya looked up at the boy, torn. Surely he couldn’t let them get away?

‘Leave the town,’ the boy said. ‘What if we traded with you?’

The Kobold leader snorted. ‘Human cowards should have thought of that before. You can offer us nothing.’

‘I beg to differ,’ the boy said. He held the sword closer. ‘You haven’t looked at this, have you?’

The sword was beautiful, now that Eliziya saw it clearly. Honestly, a little TOO beautiful. Almost gaudy, in fact, and really closer to being a rapier than a sword. It was encrusted with jewels that sparkled in the rain, and was small enough for a thirteen year old to wield; the kind of sword rich families purchased for spoiled children just so they could have their portrait painted wearing it.

The kobold reached out, touching a gnarled claw to the blade.

The boy smiled. ‘You’ve heard of Zenith metal, right?’ Eliziya had not in fact heard of it, and clearly neither had the Kobold, but it wasn’t going to admit it. ‘I-it was dug from a volcano’s heart. Stronger than steel, more valuable than all the gold in this city.’ Even in the darkness Eliziya could see the movement of his throat as he swallowed. ‘Leave her alone, leave the whole town alone and don’t come back, and it’s yours. That’s my deal, okay? Do anything else and—’He gestured, as if making to throw the sword over the edge and into the abyss.

The kobold growled. ‘No human would waste such a thing. You think us fools.’

The boy hesitated. ‘If you’re going to kill us anyway I don’t see why I’d need it. That’s my deal. You take it and leave. Got it?’

The Kobold’s eyes flickered with greed. It was considering, and so long as it was thinking, it wasn’t throwing magic at them. The boy tilted his head, meeting Eliziya’s gaze. She could see him mouthing words, the way her sister did when she was trying to send a message without alerting anybody else ‘Cliff... get ready.

Eliziya swallowed. Not the cliff. Anything but the cliff. There was a pause. The kobolds continued snapping and the rain pattered. Then the leader spoke, in a voice dripping with mock sincerity. ‘Very well, human.’

The boy relaxed slightly. ‘You’ll leave the city alone?’

Eliziya assumed it was trying to smile, but on a Kobold that looked insanely out of place and a bit unnerving. ‘Of course. A leader keeps his promises.’

And if you believe that’, Eliziya thought dryly, ‘then you’d believe it isn’t raining.’

Her mind was racing, trying to figure out what the boy meant. Surely he was smarter than this? But then again, she’d only known him for a few seconds... maybe he wasn’t that clever at all. Maybe he actually believed the Kobold leader would fall for this ploy and not just kill him the second it got it’s hands on what it wanted? She watched, her breath held, as the boy turned the sword in his hand, pointing the hilt towards the Kobold leader. The Kobolds stirred like flies around a rotting corpse.

One instant, the leader’s hand was reaching out towards the boy and then his claw snatched. The boy yelped, flecks of blood catching his sleeves and the blade. Then there was a flash, and before Eliziya could think the boy was on the ground, struck in the shoulder, the material of his shirt smoking from the force of an electric blast. He was staggering to his knees by the time Eliziya thought to move, but the kobold leader held the sword.

Deal with human flesh? Idiots.’ The leader sneered, then he watched the remaining Kobolds darted forwards, one of them knocking Eliziya over in its haste to tear the boy’s skin from his bones.

The first surprise Eliziya had was that she found herself making no noise as they charged for the boy. Instead her palms started burning as she grabbed at the muddy turf before closing her fingers around something flat and cool. The gold...

The second surprise was that the boy didn’t fall when the Kobolds attacked. Oh he seemed to at first, then suddenly he was moving: not gracefully but fast enough. He ducked, and came up behind the first of the Kobolds, giving it a kick to the back and sending it cart-wheeling towards the cliff. There was a high pitched scream as it plummeted. The boy turned, dodging another attack and looking for her. Eliziya clutched at the coins in her hands. Metal conducts...

Heat.

With an effort of will, the coins began to glow. Not a warm, soothing glow, but a harsh, brilliant white that caused her eyes to water in the dark night. The kobolds reacted much more violently, especially since in the next moment, Eliziya tossed the coins at them. Stray droplets of water sizzled as they fell against the spinning coins, and the kobolds fairly screamed- or shrieked, rather- as the heated metal began to scorch and burn their skin, some even embedding into their tough lizard-hide.

The Kobold leader screamed and clawed at his face, dropping the sword. Eliziya saw the boy dive forwards, hissing as his fingers closed around the hot blade. Heartened, Eliziya snatched another handful of coins and charged them with all the heat she could, throwing them by the handful.
The Kobolds panicked. Before, fire had been their ally, but now it came from the other side and the stupid creatures didn’t know what to do about it. She heard an angry grunt as the boy plunged his sword into the stomach of the nearest, and beyond that she saw the leader, his hands ablaze with lightning as he prepared to strike the boy down a second time.

No.’ Eliziya thought with surprising calm. She grabbed in the first trinket she could find in the dirt, a jewelled chain, pumped it with enough heat to cook dragon meat, and threw it into the leader’s face. The hot chain wrapped around its face like a thin, burning vine. It screamed. The magical assault flickered.

...There was still, however, a kobold charging directly at her.

It was a good thing, then, that the boy was coming up right behind. Eliziya flinched away from the beast, but the reaction was unnecessary: the boy’s sword impaled the kobold, the tip piercing through its scaly hide, its face a hideous mask of surprise, anger and fear as it died.

“Meatbags!”

She spun around at the sound of that malevolent growl and her heart sank. They had forgotten about the last one, the mage. It was a sight to behold, face covered in charred burns and ugly blisters as the kobold began to summon up what strength he had left.

But now the numbers were in their favour. There were two of them and only one of him. Sharing a glance, the young swordsman and mage charged the kobold.

It wasn’t the most skilled battle Eliziya had ever seen, but it was effective. The boy slammed into the creature, and the leader skidded towards the cliff. Then it was gone.

Even as it fell, the scene seemingly in slow-motion, lightning stretched out at the two humans as though the kobold sought to pull them down with him to a gruesome death. The arcing electricity fell short, spreading and dissipating in the continuing downpour and they could clearly hear a shrill scream even as it vanished from sight.

“Well,” The boy coughed out raggedly, tired out with numerous little cuts that Eliziya hadn’t noticed before. In fact, she too was afflicted with the same wounds and, as the adrenaline left her system, she dropped to the ground, worn and spent. ‘That was... interesting. Talking Kobolds, eh? T-they never said anything about that in books.’ the boy’s laugh was faint, but he sounded impressed.’’I thought you’d just shoot fireballs, or something. Turning gold to white heat... Mages can do that?’

‘M-mages can do that... it seems.’ Eliziya swallowed. She could feel laughter bubbling up inside of her. Hysteria, in the wake of a narrow escape. ‘I-I was just that mad.’

The boy was smiling. Eliziya, in her dizziness, could’ve sworn she heard something going... well, this was ridiculous, but it sounded like a ‘MOO’, except it was coming from over the cliff... Oh dear, now she was hearing things. Maybe she shouldn’t have used all that magic in one go.

She hesitated before daring to ask. ‘Would you have really let them go?’

It was, Tamar thought, a reasonable question. He wasn’t sure he knew the answer. All he had been concerned about in making sure the two of them got out alive and the Kobolds left the town. He realised abruptly just how lucky they’d been. The Kobolds must have been worn down within the city. If they had been at full power when Tamar and the girl came across them...

The girl was watching him, eyes bright. ‘I guess I would’ve had to,’ Tamar said. ‘A deal’s a deal. But I sort of knew it would lie. They would probably have come back, even if they promised.’ He wiped a hand on his shirt.

...And that was the problem with adrenaline, Tamar thought, as the pain started to creep in. It wore off when you weren’t fighting anything.

The girl yelped. ‘Don’t do that, your hand!’

His palms were bleeding profusely where the Kobold had attacked Tamar with his own sword. His tunic was ruined with blood and burned through at his shoulder which incidentally hurt like crazy; lines of dark pink peppered his skin where the electrical energy had surged along his veins. The more he looked at it the more it hurt. ‘Stupid, I should never... wait, what’s she doing?’

The girl had closed her hands around his. There wasn’t a visible effect: just the sensation of warmth and the itching of his skin knitting back together. His shoulder kept aching, but the pain in his hands was vanishing as rapidly as it had appeared under the girl’s touch, leaving barely the scars of electric burns. ‘Oh right... healing. So that’s why that attack didn’t kill her.

‘Uh, you really don’t have to—’

‘You really don’t have to walk around burned.’ She replied briskly, letting his hands down... Then her knees crumpled, no longer able to support even her own meagre weight, and she clung onto him for support. Despite her apparent lack of aversion to physical contact whilst healing him, she seemed to simultaneously hold onto him and push him away, rigid as a board.

The boy kept closing and opening his palm -stained with blood, but healed with barely the thinnest of scars. His shoulder seemed in the same state as before though, and no matter how she tried, she couldn’t seem to get the power to flow any stronger. Her legs point blank refused to cooperate. Bother. ‘Wow,’ he mumbled. ‘You did that?’

Eliziya wanted to say yes but to be perfectly honest, it seemed like too much effort. On the plus side that also meant she was too tired to be embarrassed so she just mumbled irritably.

‘Ah, damn it,’ the boy cursed, although he didn’t seem angry. ‘Not that I’m not grateful but... so far as I know, you're meant to conserve healing mojo, you shouldn’t have done that. Are you okay?’


“You okay, I’m okay..” She murmured. To her surprise, and his as well, Tamar lifted her up. In her exhaustion, she barely even squeaked, but as he began to walk, she caught sight of something glistening in the darkness. “Your sword..”

There was a swish of the boy waving the sword around a little with one hand, while trying to support her with the other. “Oh, right. That.”

He sounded calm about it. The sword, once a beautiful jewel encrusted thing, was now blackened. The jewels had cracked in their settings. ‘It must have been struck by the lightning. It’ll still work. I think.’

‘I think...’ Eliziya swallowed, tried again to stand upright, and failed. This time the boy hesitated for a moment before taking her arm and pulling it over his shoulder.

‘So you live somewhere around here, right? Can you show the way?

'Show the way, um,’ Eliziya frowned. ‘You didn’t hear any cows back there, did you?’

The boy smiled. ‘Cows?’

‘Yes, I’m sure I heard...’ she paused. ‘’Oh never mind. I must be hearing things.’

Silence filled the air, save the crackling of the wet grass as they made their way back towards town. Eventually, Tamar asked the question that had been bugging him from the very beginning.

“So... by the way, what’s your name?”

*

Meanwhile, on a moderately sized grassy ledge several metres below from the edge of the cliff, a cow was wondering what the heck that screaming thing that had just fallen through the sky past it had been.

Then, being a cow and thus not inclined towards complex trains of thought, it went back to mindlessly chewing its cud for the third time. Those two legged creatures always made such an awful fuss about everything.
If you can make it better, don't make it sentient.

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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Pixelmage on Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:16 pm

Turn Rewards:
  • Adell ~ Battle Axe.
  • eli_gone_crazy ~ Kobold Bracelet.
  • Sicon112 ~ Steel String.
  • Victin ~ Polished Wooden Shield.
  • Scarab ~ Melted Gold.
  • agoraoptera ~ Blue Spell: Thunderbolt.

The kobolds have been defeated! The warriors walk home, weary and hurt, but victorious.
Image

The sudden attack on the town left most of the inhabitants dazed. Everyone knew that there were other creatures in the castle, and that some would be hostile. But few thought that the denizens from the floors above could descend upon then. Fear was rampant, this time they were assaulted by a small party of Kobolds, what if the next time was worse? The search for a way up halted for almost a week.

The return of a pair of scouts from the underground brought renewed motivation, however. Now with a proper map and a reliable report of what was there, the prospect of dealing with Kobolds wasn't as daunting as the fear that, much like the above dwellers, the underground creatures would assault them. A new way was found, a stairway carved on the stone face of a cliff, one day away from the city.

Quest 5: The floor is lava!
Metaphorically speaking, of course. A pathway up was found in a cliff. Taking the stone-carved key found where the raid party leader plummeted to death, you set off to walk around the second floor and assess the viability of moving there. Floor 2 in particular is Kobold~Goblin territory, large forests with small tribal settlements of 50 or so inhabitants scattered around in clearings. One such tribe is built around the target outpost.
Your goal: Locate and secure the Floor 2 Outpost.
Quest Takers: Salvantas Londgium (Lordxana0) and Genevieve Hunter (JackAlsworth)

Quest 6: Rampaging beast.
A well in the outskirts of town was found to connect to the underground levels, much to the dismay of the current inhabitants. The way down was sealed, and the area patrolled constantly to make sure no wannabe hero tries to do something stupid. It wasn't enough, however, when a behemoth broke out of the wooden blockade. Bleeding and misshapen, the creature fit the reports of the underground scouts that witnessed a summoning ritual. The beast was weakened and close to death, but, perhaps just because of that, it was also massively dangerous.
Your goal: Survive.
Quest Takers: Pan (IslaKariese) and Marcus (Guyshane)

Quest 7: Déjà Vu Day. [Written by Scarab [And as a challenge, no less! >_<]]
Ever get the feeling you've done all this before?
You sure as heck do. One minute you were fighting your way through a weird, underground temple to find some mysterious treasure, which turned out just to be some old trinket. But it wasn't a totally wasted day, you did manage to snag some loot. And then the next day you were fighting your way through a weird, underground temple to find some mysterious treasure, which is kind of like the day before that when you were fighting your way through a weird, underground temple to find some...
...Wait, something isn't right here. Either there’s some pretty ridiculous magic afoot, or you’re getting a serious case of Deja vu.
Your goal: Figure out how to break the cycle, or be stuck reliving the same day for god only knows how long.
Quest Takers: Anjali Torvantine (eli_gone_crazy) and Fade (Pixelmage)

GM Notes:
  • On Quest 5 ~ They can, as Scarab and Tera have shown, speak human language if they want to. Both goblins and kobolds are highly tribal, with crude metal work and shamanic magic leaders. And the floor is crawling with them. If you try a wipe out, you're the ones that will die, so Kill Them All is not exactly viable right now. The outpost itself has a polished stone gate-like structure, get the carved stone key to it, and it'll connect to a similar gate in town, creating a direct route to connect the two floors.
  • On Quest 6 ~ Someone had to go there poke the vampires, they just had to, didn't they? ;) Ok, this is the wrecked summoning's result. He's not stable or well sustained. If you do nothing at all, he'll die on his own by the time he wrecks some 3/4ths of the town that you've been working so hard to rebuild, so I advise trying to help him along the way to the light. But really, a behemoth is dangerous. If you just walk up straight to it, it'll kill you. No questions asked. If this thing was fully healthy, there's no one on Floor 1 that could stop it. That should give a perspective on just how strong that thing is. For scale, it is slightly bigger than an fully grown ox.
  • On Quest 7 ~ The notes are from Scarab.
    • The loop is unnoticeable at first, but as you relive the loop you’ll begin remember bits and pieces of previous loops (like an increasing sense of deja vu).
    • This rule also applies to your physical status, however. As you begin remembering more of previous loops, injuries or other such activates will begin carrying over as well .
    • The Method of escaping the loop is ultimately up to you, but the origin of the loop is within the temple. Also, no matter what actions you try to take during the day, your characters will always somehow end up at the temple before the loop is over.

Time limit for the turn is one week. Deadline: Tuesday March 12nd at 23:59 EST. If this is a bad week for anyone in the quest takers, let me know as soon as possible so that we can arrange a substitution on the quest.
Play smart, good luck and have fun!
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby JackAlsworth on Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:06 pm

Quest 5: The Floor is Lava

"So just so we are clear, we aren’t going to kill anything right?” Salvantas looked at the woman whom he had been teamed with for her answer. “Because if we can avoid it, I really would rather not.”

“Don’t worry about that,” she said, staring at the village that hid their goal. “We only need to get access to the outpost. Nobody has to get hurt. In theory.”

Salvantas looked at the forest they had traversed to arrive at this point. It had all the normal things he hated about giant forests - spiders, snakes, and all other sorts of creepy crawlies that made him uneasy. “Okay then, so the best option is to scare them. These creatures are tribal, meaning they are deeply superstitious. That should give us some material to work with.”

"We could just talk to them." The words sounded hollow even as she spoke them; the way they had invaded the lower level had felt more territorial than anything else. If they were that aggressive in attempting to capture new land, they were certainly not going to welcome a friendly chat to give up what they already had. "Okay, maybe not. But getting close enough to scatter them without being seen will be... difficult."

“Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I am about as scary as a wet noodle, so I am going to ask you to do something that is going to seem really odd to you.” He held his arm out. “I need you to cut me lightly.”

She blinked. "What? Why?"

He sighed and closed his eyes. “The faster we do this, the better it will be for everyone involved. Well, ‘cept for the creatures, but honestly I don’t really care about monsters, I don’t mind them dying so much as other humans and stuff but I don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

Part of her wondered how self-inflicted injury could possibly speed this mission up. "I don't understand..."

"You don't have to." He squeezed his eyes shut. “Just make the cut before I really start to regret this, okay?”

“All right, all right.” As she pulled out her dagger, Jenny noticed her hand was trembling. What's to be afraid of? It's just a small cut. She drew a shallow line across his outstretched palm.

He flinched and slowly cracked open one eye too look at the thin trickle of red that was released from the cut. Both of his hands flew to his head and he clutched it as if his head were about to split in two. “No, no, no, no not again not again....” His hands fell and he gave the woman a cold, emotionless stare. “So then, shall we begin?” he asked, his voice eerily monotone.

Her confusion and uneasiness were mounting. "Um... I guess we shall," she said, trying to keep her voice even.

“Our first priority is the capture and interrogation of one of their members. Once we know everything we can about their religion and beliefs, we can effectively scare them away and prevent an exploration party from burning the forest to the ground to take care of them. I will set things up here; you will go and capture one. Do you understand, or should I repeat?” he asked without sarcasm or spite. He just spoke of these things as they were.

"No, I understand," she replied. "I'll leave you to it, then." It felt as though her partner had switched places with another person. One thing was for certain - she didn't want to spend any more time with him than absolutely necessary. Walking quickly, she left the camp and let the darkness of night envelop her.

Mr. Blank went to his work, setting up one of the tents they had packed and emptying his trenchcoat of knives and hanging them on the walls of the tent. “Hm, not much to work with, but I should be able to make it talk.” Monster. “Probably.”



From her vantage point atop one of the taller oaks, Jenny surveyed their enemy. The kobold settlement consisted of several longhouses, arranged in an oddly haphazard pattern, inside of a wooden palisade. At the center of the pattern was a large bonfire, adding an orange tinge to the moonlight. There were a few kobolds still lounging around the fire, munching on some sort of meat and jabbering to each other.
Most of her attention, however, was drawn to the two outliers – sentries posted near what would charitably be described as a “gate”, and less charitably as “a giant hole in the wall”. She couldn’t read their expressions even if she was closer, but if the way they were standing was any indication, one was hyper-alert and one was almost asleep. If I can get them separated....

She climbed down as quickly as she dared, looking for an appropriate target. After a few seconds, she decided on a tree approximately between her and the settlement. Silently, she notched an arrow onto her bow, drew back, and fired.

The kobold sentries heard a dull thok, from about twenty or thirty feet away from their post.
<What was that?!> the alert one hissed, straining his eyes to see where the sound came from. <Probably a bird,> the other one yawned, annoyed that something had so inconsiderately interrupted his rest. <We can find it and kill it in the morning.>
<Didn’t sound like a bird. I’m going to go after it!>
<You do that. I’ll be here waiting to tell the boss why you’re not on duty.>

The alert one didn’t respond, as he was already rushing off into the forest, his spear held out in front of him, as if chasing an invisible elephant. The tired one sighed and closed his eyes again.

Thirty seconds later, he opened them again. He had heard another noise – this one almost definitely the distant sound of a kobold’s helmeted head hitting something hard.
<Idiot probably tripped in the dark,> he reasoned, and went back to his nap.



Back at their makeshift camp, Jenny dumped the unconscious kobold at her companion’s feet. "Is this what you were looking for?”

Mr. Blank looked at the creature and nodded. “Perfect. Now you can relax; it will take time to learn everything I need to.” He picked up the creature and took it inside the tent and closed it from the inside before beginning his work. The tiny hissing voice could be heard making the equivalent to screams inside of the tent a few minutes later.

Jenny attempted to block them out as she went to her own tent. It’s not human, it’s not human, she chanted to herself, never quite convincingly enough. Its friends tried to kill us, it wants to kill us, it’s not human...

Mr. Blank stepped out about an hour later and went over to a small bucket of water to wash off his knives and hands. “You can come out, I am done for now.”

She emerged, slightly bleary-eyed, and tried to mentally suppress the implications of his words. “So what did you learn?”

“They don’t react well when a knife enters their feet, if you remove their teeth their gums heal quite quickly, they are quite sensitive when you cut their tongues....”

“You know what I mean.” She carefully kept the anger and fear from her face.

“Oh yes. You see, they are a superstitious and cowardly lot. If we were to fake being spirits or gods of some sort we could convince them to leave due to simple fear. This fear would spread throughout the others and our base would be quite secure.” He put his weapons to the side after cleaning. “There are quite a few to pick from, but for full effect I believe we should choose to act as their god of fear and pain - Omonga.”

“That’s not surprising. Do we need costumes or effects or anything?”

“Costumes, no; effects, yes. There are three things needed to pull this off: first, we need thunder-like noises to announce a God’s arrival; we need a prophet of my coming, which my interrogation has made our little friend in the tent; and last but not least I need a miracle, such as summoning arrows from far away to strike any unbeliever.” Mr. Blank looked at her. “The first can be easily replicated with some local birds known as Thunder Callers - their mating noise sounds exactly like their namesake, so if we can lure a few of them close that should work. The last objective can only be pulled off by a competent archer. You don’t have to kill them, but you will have to wound them to make it seem real. Can you do that, or should we go with plan B?” He looked at her coldly.

“Do I want to know what plan B is?” She cut him off before he could answer. “No, wait, never mind.”

“If all goes well no one will die, that is if you complete your part correctly” he looked at her. “So I ask again, can you shoot them?”

“I can shoot anything.” It was a mild exaggeration, but at this point she just wanted to get it over with. A hunter’s patience can only go so far.

“Good. How are you at hunting?” he asked patiently.

“I got you the kobold, didn’t I? Do you want me to get some Thunder Callers?”

“They are birds, and I am guessing that you have a better chance of catching birds then I do with my bare hands”

Yeah, and you’d probably torture them when you caught them, just to keep in practice. “I’ll see what I can do; my resources are pretty limited, and I’m usually not as good at trapping.”

“Understood, they don’t need to be alive, I can harvest their voice boxes and reactivate them with specific pressure points for a short period of time, if that makes things easier on you”

She repressed yet another shudder. “It won’t be that hard.”

“Good, then I will stitch up our guest while you do your part, then we chase them from the village and complete this mission.”

“All right. I’m going to get some sleep, but I’ll head out in the morning. Let’s meet here tomorrow at nightfall; hopefully I’ll have the birds by then. Just... try to exercise restraint? Please? And let the other guy out once in awhile, it seems like he needs some air.”

“Don’t worry about things such as that, just focus on the hunt as best you can and arrive tomorrow, if you don’t I activate plan B” he turned his back and entered the tent.



At dusk the next day, Mr. Blank looked around the campsite for the archer and the two birds needed to complete his master plan. “If she is late, I will be quite disappointed,” he murmured to himself.

“You don’t need to worry about that,” came Jenny’s voice. She was holding a large net with two suspiciously silent birds inside.

“They’re not dead,” she said, “just asleep. Apparently they only wake up when they sense a storm’s coming. That or a big enough threat comes along.”

He turned his eyes toward them and they shot awake. “Are we going to begin, or do you have any final notes?”

“Now seems like a good a time as any. I’ll get the Thunder Callers set up; you give me a signal whenever you want... someone shot.” She kept her voice as steady as she could. I’ll just be glad when this is over.

He nodded and began to walk in the direction of the village at a fast pace. When he arrived a few feet what could be considered the “gate” of the village he raised his hand in the air to signal for the archer to let the Thunder Birds cry out.

Once the cry rang out, Blank moved into view of the two guards, looking to them like the definition of a monster. His trench coat still had splatters of the previous guards reptilian blood, and his face was that of a demon born from the blackest pits of hell itself. “Are you creatures so arrogant to assume that you are too good to bow before a God? How dare you! I should strike you down where you stand, if it weren’t completely beneath me.” He stared down the two guards who looked at him with a mixture of both awe and fear. “I said bow!” Blank roared with a fury that matched even the most bloodthirsty berserker. The two guards looked at each other and then back to him before bowing.

Blank walked into the village to meet the eyes of the entire village. Some of the men had brought out weapons, but upon seeing him began to back up slightly. One of them moved forward and opened his arms.

This Kobold would look like any other if not for the wounds inflicted upon him. One of his eyes had been burned shut and one of his ears was half there. He was missing a finger on either hand and it appeared that his entire body was a patchwork of scars and freshly closed wounds.

<My God, I have told them of your coming, but I was not believed despite your great work upon my mortal body,> the creature hissed through his mouth of broken and missing teeth. <Forgive them for this transgression, please!>

Mr. Blank looked at them and gave a hideous grin before hissing out in almost perfect Kobold. <Oh sad creatures who dare to deny me, did you not understand that my prophet told you of my coming? I am the great Omonga. Which among you is chief?>

One of the kobolds stepped forward. He was dressed in an old overcoat that looked tattered and beaten. He held a small staff in his hands. <I am, and I declare that you are no God, but a human!> The other kobolds muttered and hissed.

<Pay the price of your disbelief.> He snapped his fingers and pointed at the chief. <I will summon arrows from the ether to show you my power>

Almost immediately, an arrow shot out of the darkness, landing inches from the chief’s foot. He jumped backward, stared at it, and then made the kobold sound for a derisive laugh.

<Ha! A god you say you are, and yet you cannot hit what is right in front of you! I do not fear your power. I defy you, pretender!> He spat at the ground at Blank’s feet.

In the treetops outside the settlement, Jenny readied another shot.

Mr. Blank raised both his hands. <I try to show mercy, and am spat at for it!> Effortlessly switching languages, he called out loud enough for the archer to hear: “Now you will have to die for your idiocy!”

She froze. Her mind screamed, Don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it

The next arrow buried itself in the kobold’s chest.

All of the Kobolds looked at the body of what was once their leader as it fell to its knees and landed on the ground. <Now, bow down to your God!>

The village did so, whispering prayers in their native tongues. <You have disgusted me with your lack of tribute, so now I take from you this village. I banish you from it for all of eternity; your lives will consist of wandering from settlement to settlement, doing battle with all other villages and consuming them until all that remains are those who pray to me. Once that is done, you will make a home for yourselves in another village far away from this one, never interfering with anyone outside of the kingdom you shall build. If you do not, I will strike you down as I did to your pathetic leader! Now take only what you can carry and be gone!>

The village stood and began to gather their things. Some seemed eager to be sent on a mission by a god, others cried over the loss of their home, but in a matter of hours the village had been cleared of life. “You can come out now!” Blank called.

Jenny emerged from the forest’s edge. “You never told me you could speak kobold.”

“The one inside of me read up on it after accepting this task, I hammered out the fine points during my talk with the one you captured.” Mr. Blank strolled over to the one that she had shot dead and ripped the arrow out of its chest. He walked over and offered it to her. “That creature didn’t have to die, it was your own fault. So hold no anger toward me for it.”

“I take responsibility for all my actions, thank you,” she said, her voice colder than she had intended. “You can keep the arrow if you want; I have more.”

“I have no use for it. Now, then. The base is secure; all we have to do is launch the flare they gave us and they should be here in a matter of days, or less even if we are lucky. I have no purpose here any longer, so from here I leave it to Salvantas.” He closed his eyes and when they opened they weren’t the cold and emotionless ones that had been present for the last few nights.

“I... I am so sorry you had to do that,” he said, looking away from her. ‘I... I really am.”

“Don’t apologize.” She took the arrow from his hand. “My shot, my choice.”

She moved away from him. She didn’t want him to see the tears stinging her eyes.

“Wait... what’s this?”

Behind the settlement, nearly invisible in the night, was a much larger structure. Instead of the crude wooden buildings made by kobold hand, this one was solid stone.

“Salvantas,” she called, “I think I found what we came here for.”

He looked at it and gave a low whistle. “It is pretty impressive. Wonder what it was called?” He examined it. “Suppose the researchers should be able to give all the info, right?”

“I hope so.”

He went into one of the houses and came out with a shovel. “But exploring that isn’t our job, so let’s hold down the fort and give this guy a nice plot of dirt to rest in.”

“Good idea.”

They selected a small square of land just inside the wall, next to what might have been the town hall in a larger village. It seems fitting, Jenny thought as they dug. The first marked grave in this settlement is one of our enemies.

Salvantas helped her. “You know, all in all, they lost one, but the entire village got to leave with their lives, if a noble wanted they could have just hired a gang to come through and burn everything down, you saved a lot of lives, you should be proud of that”

“Yeah.” Certainly she knew that one death was preferable to many. But somehow she could still feel its blood on her hands, as clearly as if it were really there. She found herself intoning again, It’s not human, it’s not human, it’s not human...

Once the hole was big enough Salvantas put the body in and covered it up. He then grabbed a small wood board and pulled out a knife and scratched something in. Here lies a kobold who stood up strong in the face of something much more powerful. "Not the best, but it is what we can give.” He pushed in the marker and stood back looking at it.

When he looked up, she finally met his eyes. “It’s enough.”

“Let’s get some sleep, we have a long day ahead.” He turned to find somewhere to rest. “Good job today - this would have been impossible without you.”

“Thanks. I...” She faltered. “Yeah. I need some sleep too. We’ll see if we can find that gate they told us about in the morning.”

“Yeah. Goodnight.”
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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Pixelmage on Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:20 am

Quest 7: Déja Vu Day

Anji woke up before dawn. Stretching, she carefully slid out of her hammock, and onto the creaky old floor in the inn she had rented for the night. Sneaking around the sleeping form of Zi, she walked into the common room, and slipped into her shoes. Hopefully I’m not too late to find something, Anji thought as she slipped out the door and started walking towards the outskirts of town.

Waking up early has advantages, indeed. Julius thought when he noticed some movement in the inn. Everyone should still be asleep for another couple of hours, give or take. Everyone except for her, I suppose. He frowned, going to his room again to pick up his cloak before leaving after... Whoever had left. He didn’t see, but he knew it had to be Anji going out this early. He covered his face in the cloak and went out.

If the rumors were right, there was some money to be made looting a ruined temple, located out of sight, but reasonably close to town. He was sure he’d find the girl if he went there, and picked up his pace, maybe he could catch up to her before she left the city and avoid the whole problem of raiding unknown territory.

Anji took care not to wake up the wall guard as she scrambled over the makeshift gate. The elders had enlisted scouts and fighters to help defend the lonely old city, but it was a lonely job. Not much had happened since the Kobolds had been defeated, and it was driving Anji up the wall with boredom. She had avoided being enlisted; Unlike that poor soul there Anji thought as she snuck around the snoozing scout, but hadn’t avoided Julius trying to teach her. The man had it in his head that algebrometry or something was important.

The temple was tiny, kind of holed up in a cove behind some ancient oak trees. The place oozed with power, a sense of foreboding building as Anji walked into the outer gates. The structure was dilapidated, bones and tree litter were scattered across the courtyard. Anji’s grin got a little wider at the sight of the emerald inner doors, set with silver and gold lines. I’ll get a look at those later.

Hours passed, and Anji was exhausted. The temple was as dull on the inside as it was on the outside. The only real good loot was the doors themselves, and Anji didn’t have the correct tools to get the metals out of their setting without damaging them, or a way to just carry the whole thing. Sighing at her lack of good fortune, she didn’t even notice Julius until he tapped her on the shoulder.

“Finally reached you.” He commented, looking around the temple entrance and waiting for Anji’s reaction to his presence. Reaching her inside the perimeter of the city would have been preferable. As it was, he lost a long time searching the outskirts for the rumored temple.

After nearly decapitating her fellow guildmember, Anji lept into a series of rants, “Oi! what you think you’re doin’? Leapin’ on a girl like a creep. Who do you think you are, I was liable to take your soddin’ ‘ead off, you louse!”

“Of course, guildmaster.” Julius replied politely, failing to hide an amused smirk. “It wouldn’t create a very good image for the guild, however, if you killed one of your allies. You know that, of course, and I’m still alive, so all is well.” He smiled openly now. “But I think it would be best if we returned soon... Or rather...” Suddenly remembering to check his surroundings. “Fade want home. Scary stone place.”

“Yeah yea, you and your gibbering.” Anji said as she sheathed her blade. “You know that ain’t lasting forever, right? People’ll notice me gettin’ book learning, and you can’t keep up the dummy act all the time. And stop callin’ me guildmaster, it’s creepy.”

“I suppose this is not a good situation to say ‘Yes, ma’am’, is it?” Julius laughed lightly and started pacing back toward the city. “You’re right, you know? Things will change... But for now we really should go back before nightfall.” He stumbled once, when a well-aimed shoe hit the back of his head. Rubbing the new bruise on his head, he turned in time to see a furious Anji picking up her shoe and start off for the town. Smirking, Julius followed.

-----

The next morning was an early one for Julius. Most of his mornings were, it was easier to practice his craft while no one was around, and he didn’t have to worry about someone finding out who he was.

Anji slept in after the temple raid. The temple was hidden away quite well, whoever had built it had engineered it to be durable and not very flashy.

"Jie, get up." Zi prodded her sister's limp, dozing form insistently. "Sun's up, don't be lazy."

Anji mumbled, "don' wanna. Sun needa go back down again. too early" as she pulled the covers over her head.

With a sigh, Zi tugged the blanket away and jabbed at her abdomen with a slightly heated finger, just enough to elicit a yelp from Anji. "You've got... something on." Zi gestured vaguely.

“Ugh, I already did stuff yesterday remember? I didn’t see you all day. I thought you'd be worried”

"I am worried. That's why I'm waking you up. I can't exactly worry effectively if you aren't awake."

"You could pretend. I was up half the night!"

"Yes, well, you're up now." Zi pointed out. "You may as well get out of bed. Aren't you going crazy not doing anything anyway?"

"I been up. I was gone all last night" Anji said with a yawn, stretching. "An’ here you go, waking me up before a decent time"

"Decent? You've slept long enough." Zi pressed a palm to Anji's arm, sending a surge of warm, healing energy into her sister. She'd been doing that every morning now, despite Anji's insistence that she conserve her power.

Jerking away from Zi, Anji broke the contact necessary for her sister to perform her healing magic, "Oi! What have I said about healing me? You need your strength for yourself, alright?" Jerking a coat and grabbing her bag, Anji headed for the door, intent on avoiding her sister's magic.

Zi leaned back against the wall and smirked. "Zhen shi de. I may as well just wake you up that way, if that's all it takes to get you alive. Where're you going?" She called out as Anji left in a huff. A slight twinge of guilt shot through her at the thought that she had made Anji angry.

Stopping at the door, Anji said, "I'm going out to get some stuff. Do you need anything?"

“Not really, just... Well, sorry, Anji. Dui bu qi. Didn't mean to piss you off."

Shrugging, Anji grinned at her sister, "Don't worry about it. You just need to keep your strength up so you can take care of yourself. I'll be fine."

Zi couldn't help but smile. "Be fine." She repeated, giving in to the compulsion.

“There we go. I'm gonna head out with Fade. Stay with Tamar-" Anji grinned at the sight of her sister's blush. "-I'll be out late, so don't worry. I'll be back."

Morning training went smoothly this time, but Julius had to be careful to not get caught up in it, otherwise he might be seen when people started to wake up. He sheathed his sword just in time to hear his roommate, and fellow guild member, calling out to him.

“Hey Zi? You up here? I can’t find... oh, right. Sorry, Fade, thought you were out, um...”

“Uh... Tamar. Mo-Morning.” Julius stuttered a hello. “Zi not here.”

There was a flicker of disappointment in the boys face. Something that Julius would notice but... Fade, not so much. “Oh... I thought I’d catch her today, I wanted to... um... well I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway. I’ll... see her later. Yeah, later! Maybe she’s with Anji...”

“Must be.” He tried to keep the conversation, it was hard to keep the act when he had someone’s full attention. Fortunately for him, Anji appeared, moving the focus away from himself.

Anji entered in a huff, jerking on a coat and stomping down the stairs into the common room. With a glare towards Fade and Tamar, jerking her head to the former, she said, “Wait outside for a mo’, while I speak to our newest member.”

“Fade outside.” He nodded and moved awkwardly out of the inn.

Turning toward Tamar, Anji spoke, “I’m going out for some stuff. You better very well leave my sister alone, or you’ll hear from me. got it?”

“I... um...”

“No shenanigans. I let you into the guild because Zi asked me to, don’t make me regret it before you have a chance to do anything!” Anji said reaching for a few extra knives. “And take care of yourselves, alright?”

“Okay... Shenanigans doesn’t include um... talking altogether does it?”

“You could always learn Morse Code.” Anji smirked.

“...Um.”

Okay, so, maybe she was trying to make him squirm a little bit, but she hadn't expected him to start tapping on the table and dragging his finger across it in what actually seemed like a pattern. He only managed to look pleased with himself for a couple of seconds before he caught her gaze again and looked back down, shuffling. “...I read a book.”

Anji rubbed the bridge of her nose where a headache was beginning to form, “Just stay out of trouble, alright? I don’t want to have to come get you both from the gaoler.”

Julius stood in the sidewalk, playing with a rock when Anji got outside. “Rocks, really?”

“Of course,” He replied in a low voice. “You never played with rocks? You should try it. It’s fun.” Julius looked up to see Anji halfway down the alley, headed toward market street. He let go of the rock and followed.

Sometime later, both returned with some grocery bags for the inn, the innkeeper usually asked Anji to go pick the supplies up in the market, and Julius helped carry the supplies every time. This day, however, instead of returning directly, they decided to take a shortcut through some unbuilt area, there was a trail in the woods which neither remembered following before, but it would be useful to get a better knowledge of the area. Eventually, they reached a pair of emerald doors.

“Haven’t we been here yesterday?” Julius asked, concerned. He turned to see Anji’s wan face. She was not looking at the door, but rather to the side of the room, where a pile of bones sat wasting away. The bones littered the floor of the temple, and not all of them were animal bones. Papers were scattered about. The entire temple felt... dead and dry. “I don’t think we should come here again. At all.”

“Aye, I don’t like this place. At all.” Anji agreed as they turned around and headed back the way they came. “I’ve some stuff that needs to get done tonight, mind taking the supplies back to the inn?”

“When you say that...” He sighed. “Yes, I can get it all there on my own. I’ll also most likely be fast asleep by the time you get back... We should meet somewhere else tomorrow.”

“I’ll meet you at that tavern you found me at after the Kobold attack.... What was it... The Dragon’s Teeth? I hear they have good ale.” The two of them walked together back to the entrance of town, going separate ways once inside.

-----

Anji spent the night looking through the old abandoned sections of the city for shiny items to scavenge for the next day’s market. Healing books for Zi, oooh look a knife... That should sell well. She smiled at her good fortune as she took a deep breath.

Anji blinked as she woke up in her bed, fully clothed, with some trinkets, a knife, and some books laying in a neat pile by her bed. How the hell did I end up here? Anji thought as she tumbled out of bed and onto the floor. The sun was glaringly bright, It must be nearly midday... wasn’t I supposed to be somewhere? A temple loomed in her mind’s eye, shaking, Anji thought No, I am NOT going back there. I was supposed to go to... Go to a pub... And meet... Someone... FADE! Jumping to her feet and wincing at the pain concentrated behind her eyes from lack of sleep, Anji raced down the stairs and out of the inn, heading for The Dragon’s Teeth. Oooh, I hope I’m not late!

Julius slept late that day. It was unusual for him, but he was exhausted, even though he couldn’t think of any reason why. He was supposed to meet Anji in the pub, stay away from the weird temple, but couldn’t get the place out of his mind. The unbuilt area was inside the city... And the temple is outside. We did not walk that far... Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing any unbuilt areas inside the perimeter before. He let himself drift in his thoughts for a moment, then realized it was about time he went to the pub to meet up with Anji. He set off at a steady pace, ignoring the fatigue, but still wondering about the mysterious place.

Anji ducked through the crowded bar, looking for the keep. “Oi, two ales, eh?” The grumpy old man glared at her until she plonked two gold pieces onto the wooden countertop. Taking the
tankards to a corner table, she glared at her rapidly approaching guildmate. “What do we do now? I don’t fancy spending for-”

Her voice was interrupted by the slam of two arms against wood, followed by a hearty laugh from a familiar green haired warrior sitting at the nearby table. “Another match goes to me, Ben. Looks like you’re buying the next round of ale!” He laughed out enthusiastically, patting her back hard enough to lurch her forward from the force of it. “That was a silly bet to make, friend.”

Ben coughed. “If I remember correctly, it wasn’t so much a ‘bet’ as ‘giving in to your repeated insistence that I wrestle you’.”

“Oh?” He questioned, somehow forgetting already. “Well, hah, you know I love a challenge.”

“Right,” The redhead snorted. “Because it’s such a challenge to wrestle someone who’s a professed swordsman and archer.”

“What are you trying to say, Ben? That I’m picking easy targets or something? You’re tough if I recall correctly, a definite challenge, don’t sell your talents short all of the sudden.” Hector chortled quietly. “Besides, I could take ANYONE in this room.” The green haired man declared with a happy grin, lightly pounding his hand on the table. “I tell you what, you pick the next guy I arm wrestle, I promise I take him down!”

Ben sighed. “I hardly think that’s saying much; you’re bigger than everyone here. But fine.” She cast her eyes about the room, trying to find someone who would at least make an entertaining match for Hector, if not a challenging one. Hmmm... not the barman; he’d be likely to pull out the spiked club kept under every bar if it got too dicey. And the albino in the corner with all the knives was probably bad news. How about... A tall, lean man in a cloak was walking jerkily across the room, avoiding people’s eyes. Well, it was worth a shot. “How about him, then?” She indicated her choice.

Hector twisted his head around to where his friend had pointed, his eyes shifted around excited for whoever she had picked. Looking past the wimpy cloaked guy, he wondered who she had meant. “Who?” Hector questioned...the guy in the cloak was the only one in the general area she had pointed. “...Really?” He asked, turning his head back towards her. “You’re just being mean now...I’d have a harder time wrestling my steak.”

“Damnit, can he walk any slower?” Anji muttered as Fade slowly creeped around the edge of the bar. Hector and some girl-warrior from his guild were tossing back ale like it was going out of style, the green man drinking two tankards to the smaller warriors one. They seemed to be placing bets on some match of strength. Odd... I thought Hector said he worked with some man, Ben something-or-other. Anji turned back to her own cup to wait for Fade.

The tall man rubbed his chin, examining the cloaked man more closely. “Well, I guess a promise is a promise. You picked him, he’s going down.” He watched carefully as the man walked by, a mischievous grin on Hector’s face. It was a rare moment seeing Hector like this, but he was feeling rather showy today with all the liquor in him. Ben probably knew this, and was hoping to get some amusement out of it. When Julius just got within range, Hector outstretched a hand and got ahold of one of the cloaked mans arms. “Here, friend, have a seat!” The man laughed out bombastically as he practically shoved Julius into the open chair next to him and Ben. “Hittin’ the bottle early, too?” He asked with a playful punch.

“Bo-Bottle?” Julius stuttered, trying to think what he was supposed to do. He agreed to meet Anji in the pub, but didn’t expect to be dragged to a table with someone he never met... Never met..? Green hair, strong build... Oh. Damn. “No bottle no. Fade has no bottle!” He attempted to leave the table, almost falling on his back.

“Whoa, easy there, friend.” Hector called out, keeping a tight grip on the mans arm, preventing him from falling...and escaping. “Relax! We’re just being friendly, is all. Here, you don’t have a bottle, you can have one of mine.” The man reassured, pushing one of the large mugs of ale Julius’s way. “Consider it a bit of a gift.”

“Mu-must go...” He started, realizing that he’d be unable to simply leave. “But... One mug.” He extended his arm out toward the mug, taking a single, hesitant gulp from it. Next time, dearest Anji... I’m not letting you set up the meeting place. At all.

“Atta boy.” The swordsman beamed. “Now, I gave you a gift, I think it’s only fair you give me one as well. Right, Ben?” He asked the female at the table, who merely sighed and shook her head. “Right!” He continued, as if she had collaborated with his story. “Now, you probably don’t have anything for me, but that’s okay I already know what you can do! My friend here thinks, haha, that I can take you in an arm wrestling match.” He explained with a slight hiccup in his voice. “Care to prove him wrong? It’s the least you could do for the bottle of ale.” The other man, clearly looking distressed, was met with a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “Come on, it’ll be fun.”

Fair enough. At least that’ll get me out, just like the dumb muscle I’m supposed to be. Julius extended his hand for a arm wrestle match, sporting a big grin. “That Fade knows!”

“Well whoever the hell Fade is, I’m happy he does! But anyway, let’s do this!” Hector followed the same motions as Julius had, creating an audible thud as his elbow laid atop the table. A fire was burning his eyes as they cupped their hands together for their little match.

Hector did not just want to win, he wanted to show Ben exactly what he was capable of, as if he had something to prove. In truth Ben had been trying to explain why Hector didn’t have anything to prove, but he was slow on the uptake with subtle compliments, especially with a few mugs of ale in him... Unfortunately for Julius. “Ready...?” He asked, building up all of his strength, waiting for the the go ahead to release it all.

Julius gave a nod in return, and braced for the match that was about to start, however it never did. “Goooo!” Hector yelled, and in one instant the match started, in the next Julius found himself flying over the table and directly into a nearby patron.

Julius intended to lose the match regardless, that was the easiest way to ensure that the match would be over fast, so he could step away. What he didn’t intend, however, was to ponder about such intentions while coursing through the air in the tavern. He whistled, more impressed than actually surprised, at the green haired man’s strength, but his amazement was short lived. He crashed into another patron’s table, noticing the table he had been at just a moment ago had been turned on it’s side from the force of Hector’s movements. He heard, just as he landed “Sure, let’s use people to make a pillow fight.”

Anji was staring at her untouched drink, lost in thought, when a loud crash made her jerk back to reality. Hector was rolling on the floor laughing with drunken glee, while his guildmate stood next to him, struggling to contain a grin. Julius, on the other hand, was across the room and upside down, having taken a harsh hit to the table. Another fighter was looming over the cloaked swordsman, ale splattered on his tunic. The man’s eyes narrowed as the fork in his hand dropped the remaining bit of steak off of it to the ground. Uhoh

A few moments later, Anji dragged Julius out of the bar behind the sounds of chairs breaking and bottles smashing against heads. She had just made it out of the bar when she bumped into something smooth and hard. Turning around, Anji saw a pair of emerald doors set with gold and silver. “No, no no no no.” She let go of Julius and stumbled back into a pile of bones. Crying out, she jumped up away from the bones and sat in the middle of the floor, curled into a tight ball.

Julius looked around, keeping himself calm. Minute one, I’m in a bar fight. Minute two, Anji drags me away. Minute three, I’m in a creepy temple. I definitely didn’t walk here, yet, I’m back for the third day in a row. He saw Anji on the floor and hurried to aid her. “Are you hurt?” He asked while trying to help her up.

Swatting his hand away, Anji stood and began pacing. “Right, creepy temple. And we’re in the creepy temple and we are not supposed to be in the creepy temple and there’s bones everywhere and, oh god I think that might be a mandible, and you’re asking me if I’m hurt?! What type of ridiculous question is that?!”

“One of the important ones, actually.” He said, serious. “Good to know you’re fine, but we can’t ignore this. We just got pulled here again, we should look for information, or at least some clues as to just what the hell is going on with this place.” Anji didn’t reply, pacing around the temple and rubbing her head. Julius took this to mean that she would wait, if he really had to look around, and so he started looking around the courtyard.

Bones, bones, bones, some dry leaves, more bones. This place feels like a graveyard. He shuddered at the thought. There were animal bones, some small and frail, possibly from birds, and others large and sturdy. One of them was definitely the skull of a cow. There were human bones as well. And some shards of papers mixed with dry leaves. Save for that, the whole place felt barren. Empty. He moved further in, looking for anything of note, and suddenly felt his foot twist slightly, stepping on a loose stone.

Dammit! The trap, partially hidden by the bones flung a stone sphere, roughly the size of his head, toward him. Most would try to duck under it, and perhaps that was the best way to actually avoid having anything smashed by the object, but Julius was tall. Trying to duck on such short distance would only make it more likely for him to get his head in the path of the projectile, so instead, he made the split second decision of taking the hit, and jumped back, moving in the same direction as the rock to soften the blow, even if only a little. He fell, clutching the rock after the clean hit to his chest.

“Oh, are you okay?” Anji said as she stumbled over the bones towards Julius. He was holding the stone ball close to him chest and trying not to yell out. “Oh hey, that’s new. That wasn’t there before.” Anji frowned as she looked around the temple.

He stood up, leaving the rock in the ground and shaking his head. “I’m fine. Just me, playing with rocks. Dodgeball this time, but the rock cheated so I won’t play anymore.” He forced out a smile. Cheated some ribs out of my chest, that’s for sure. He felt the pain, at least a couple were cleanly broken, and half a dozen others were at least cracked, but he focused his mind away from it.

“Whoever set that trap was incompetent? That’s the word, right?” Anji’s smile turned to a look of worry as Julius tried to laugh, and winced instead. “Are you injured?”

“Nothing serious, the trap was weakened by the bones, I guess.” He paused to take a breath, the chest movement was painful and confirmed his suspicions. “I didn’t find anything of use, though. I think we should leave.”

“Should I call for Zi? She might be able to heal you, I was even able to find some healing books in some of the ruins”

“No, that’s fine. I can ask her to have a look, but don’t bring her here... We should go back first.” No one should ever come here.

By the time they had made it back to the city, night had fallen. Anji waved to the scout standing at the top of the wall, “Oi! Alexander! Let us in, mate!”

“Better have a damn good reason for being out there in the first place!” the guard yelled back. “Kinda late, y’know! There’s a bunch of stuff out there that comes out at this time of night, and they aren’t exactly allowed in themselves.”

“Oh, just open it! You’ll get an explanation later, but we need in now.” Anji huffed as the scout opened the gates.

-----

Julius jumped awake from the pain on his chest, it wasn’t as bad as it was the day before, but while asleep he couldn’t direct his mind away from it. One thing was odd, however. In the night before Zi was shocked and worried about him, he half expected to see some signs of presence in the room, some bandages, or water. At least a half open door so they could check if he was still alive from time to time. But there was no such thing, in fact, the room was exactly the same way he remembered it from the day before. He decided to step out and look for Anji. It’s not just the temple that’s odd... The whole city... The inn... It all feels like it’s the same everyday.

Anji woke up in the common room, having fallen asleep in one of the chairs by the fire. Zi had sworn that she’d stay awake to help Fade if he needed it, but Anji had refused to go to sleep until she knew for sure. She hadn’t seen Zi leave Fade’s room, and at some point it all became a grey haze.

Jerking up to her feet, she saw a grocery list sitting on the table, along with a small pouch of money. The list detailed all the sundry supplies that the inn needed to run, along with a note, “Anji, pick up these supplies today. thanks, Bob.” The assorted items she left there in the morning before where nowhere to be found.

I got supplies yesterday... Anji thought as she walked upstairs to get her jacket and shoes. Zi was sound asleep in her own hammock, and to Anji’s surprise, the disorder from the healing sessions last night were gone. In fact, it all looked eerily similar, stepping out of her room, she headed down the hallway to Fade’s room. The room was spartan, and extraordinarily clean. There was no evidence of any injured person being healed. Trippy... I wonder... Anji left Fade’s room to begin looking for him.

For his part, Julius wanted to talk to Anji about his suspicions, but he was well aware that she wouldn’t easily allow him to move around in his state. Everything looks the same way it was yesterday. And on the day before too. Ever since we stepped into that temple, actually. He decided to go into the garrison by the city walls. He threw his hood up to cover his face and stood in the shadow, waiting for a chance to talk to one of the scouts.

One of them was quite loud in complaining.

"Uuuuuuuuuuurgh..." The scout stretched, making sure it was noticed. "Welp, that's another shift down. Damn, I thought the maze was boring, at least I was actually moving around down there."

He looked around for a bit before resuming his yelling. "Seriously, guys, nothing happened to that wall last night, and nothing is going to happen to that wall tonight! Why the hell can't I even bring a book or something?"

He sighed, toning down his voice. "Come on... I wanted a break after the demon summoning thing, not a glorified excuse to bear arms while I pace around a lot and nothing else. 'Skilled fighter', my ass. You guys want a guard, go get someone who doesn't have running around and exploring as part of his job description." The scout paused for a moment, a look of disgust on his face, "Aaaaaand that's probably the fifteenth time I've said that since my last shift began. Goddammit."

Loud, gaudy necklace, maze and demon summoning... He’s the one from last night. Julius was almost certain as to the scout’s identity, but they hadn’t met officially and he decided it would be best to avoid approaching someone who was known around the city, opting, instead, to approach a resting recruit to ask about people who had gone through to the outskirts the last few days.

“No one, sir.” The scout replied. “We keep a count, maybe someone sneaked out, but no one walked outside from this gate in the last week. Well, save for us scouts, you know?”

“Oh... Thanks.” He replied, keeping his tone similar to the one he often used as Fade. “It’s my brother... He’s gone missing... I’m worried.”

“Can’t help you there. Try the other garrisons, maybe he was out from one of the other gates.” The scout said before turning back to the book he was reading.

“Thank you.” Julius hurried away. Well, that certainly is strange. Not only did Anji and I get past the gate the first time we wound up in the temple, just yesterday we actually called out to that one on the wall. This... makes no sense. He had to find her, they had to find a way to make sense out of all this. Remembering his previous schedule to meet at the Dragon’s Teeth pub, he decided to stop by there.

Anji sprinted into the bar, a feeling of panic rising as she looked for Julius. Damn it all, damn. He’s supposed to be here. Anji went from space to space checking each, worry building. Seire was there, sharpening his blades. Everyday the same thing, same knives, same Seire, same spot. What the hell is going on?

Panicked, Anji didn’t notice the red headed swordsman, who was carrying two full pints and yelling to a green-haired man. Colliding, the two both ended up on the floor and covered in sticky ale. Scrambling, Anji apologized profusely as the swordsman glared at her, but was at a general loss of words for once.

“Are you even old enough to be in here?” Ben asked, irritably. She wouldn’t be able to get the smell off her jerkin for at least a week now.

“My ale! Noooooooooooo.......!” Was heard further back in the bar, where Hector now wept in an overreacting manner.

Anji stopped trying to help clean up the mess and returned the swordsman’s furious glare. “Wot do you fink you’re saying, eh? Not my fault you ain’t got enough brains to walk and see where you’re going.”

Ben raised a ginger eyebrow. “Yes, well excuse me that I didn’t have my nose to the ground as I was walking over. Generally patrons in a bar are too tall to be eye-level with a cow.”

“Someone please... Just think of the ale!” The swordsman chimed in once again from the back, his head comically buried in his hands, completely missing the fight that immediately broke out between Anji and Ben, the latter’s insult setting off quite a brawl. Soon it was just like the day “before,” with chairs and bottles being broken, and people being thrown around like paper cups. Annoyed that his bottle of ale had escaped him, the green haired giant rose from his table cracking his knuckles. “Someone’s getting another bottle... Even if that someone has to be me.” He muttered before stomping off into the middle of the fight, almost heroically.

Julius heard the commotion from outside. This time he didn’t arrive in time to be the cause of it, thankfully, but there was a commotion regardless. Oh, come on... He sighed, sitting in a shadow while he waited for Anji to get out of there. Going into a brawl wasn’t a bright idea even if he was in his best shape, and this time he wasn’t, he could only trust that Anji would be able to sneak out of there. It didn’t take long, though she looked, surprisingly, just like someone out of a bar brawl. That’s odd... She was actually in the middle of it? Her left eye had a new black shadow and she looked bruised. Julius almost decided not to comment, but changed his mind when he noticed a thin trail of blood on her neck and hair, probably from a broken bottle. “Hey, easy there... Are you okay?”

Anji glowered at Fade, “Do I look okay to you?” Crouching next to a nearby fountain, Anji used a newly torn rag from her tunic to mop up some of the blood. Wincing, she brushed the remains of the glass away from her face. Ow, I must look a sight. Damnit. Blood was seeping from a cut on her forehead and blinding her. She moved to bind up her cut, then turned to Julius.

“I thought you might be here. What happened in there? No... Let me guess, Hector and Ben?”

“Some crazy swordsman, uh... yeah, Ben? That’s her name? Yeah well we may have ran into each other.” Anji said as she wiped the blood off her face. Seeing the look of utter confusion on Julius’ face, she elaborated. “I came to look for you, and I kinda spilled Ben and Hector’s drinks. This didn’t make Bob very happy.” Anji swayed unsteadily for a moment, then recovered.

In response to Anji’s apparent dizziness, Julius stood half moving, with a hand midway to catch her if necessary. She recovered almost instantly, leaving him to recompose himself. He was worried, but there was no time. “We need to stop this madness...” He mumbled, beckoning to one of the patrons leaving the bar, he turned to Anji while the unknown man walked over. “We definitely just had that fight here yesterday, right?”

“Yeah, I... I think so.” Anji mumbled, gingerly touching her head. “Stuff’s ‘een rep’ting.”

“Well...” He turned to the man. “Must be tough, uh? Two bar fight two days in a row like that...”

“What? Were you in there?”

“No, not today. I was just there for yesterday’s fight.”

“You must be drunk already. I’m outta here.”

“Why?” Julius pressed, making it clear that he wasn’t drunk.

“Look. You must have just hit your head then. There wasn’t a fight yesterday, man. The bar was closed for cleaning.”

“Is that so?” Julius became more relaxed, in turn, making the man more at ease as well...

“Why do you think everyone is so lively in there today? Anyway, I’m outta here. Don’t want any trouble. You two should do the same.”

“Yea, ‘eave, we shoul’ leave. ‘ts a good idea. Go to the temple. Safe there.” Anji mumbled in a daze.

“Not safe... But we’ll probably have to go there if we want to find out what’s going on...” He took the rag from Anji’s hand and washed it a little in the fountain, to remove the excess of blood, and handed it back to her. “We’ll end up getting there one way or another, I think. We should get some rest now instead of rushing around.”

“M’yeah, rest . That’s a good idea. I fink it’s time to rest.” Anji started to walk towards Fade, and bumped into a familiar set of emerald doors. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me, Fade? Are you... are you here?”

“Here.” He replied walking up to her side. “I thought we’d get here, I just didn’t expect it to be right after I said it.” The courtyard was filled with bones again, of course, but this time nearly all of them were human in origin.

“Right, ‘et me take a look. Stay ‘ere.” Anji began exploring the ruins, looking for traps. Not following the advice, Julius followed a short distance behind her, slowly and carefully, observing the place for anything that could be of help.

Anji stepped carefully, ignoring the burning pain in her head for a moment to focus on making the traps from the day before? today? yesterday? Shaking her head slightly, and instantly regretting it from the wave of pain that flowed through her entire body. Stumbling, she tripped over a wire, and looked up in time to see a spear flying through the air at her. Oh no we don’t. With a burning snap, the world around he went into a sharp focus as her bracelet activated itself, Anji landed neatly about a meter away from the quivering end of the spear.

Sighing with relief, Anji took a step backward. Julius, who followed close by was out of the spear trap’s line of fire, but also reacted by moving away from it. He barely had time to breath when he saw a long blade emerge from the side wall, coursing in an arc ready to slash at Anji, who seemingly didn’t notice the second trap.

There was no time to think, he leapt toward the trap, unsheathing his sword as he went. The combined force of his body’s movement, sword swing and sheer desperation snapped the unkept trap’s blade instantly, but the remaining length was still too long. He heard a pained sound from Anji as the trap nicked her arm. Julius himself feeling dizzy and breathless due to the sheer chest pain he felt, this time stronger than he could ignore.

“Furies take this place!” He screamed in revolt, then turned to care for Anji, recomposing himself. Losing his head would mean death, he had to be calm at all costs.

Anji cried out when the blade hit her arm. Julius had broken the spinning trap, and probably saved her life in the process. She hadn’t escaped unscathed however, because the spinning sword had made a cut into her arm that was now bleeding profusely. This will hurt in the morning she thought, wincing, as she pushed past the pain to begin looking through the papers and tomes that were scattered about on the once polished marble floor.

“Sorry, but... Stop for a moment.” Julius cut out a strip of his cloak and moved to stop the bleeding before she lost too much blood from the wound. “This temple is getting more dangerous with each passing day...”

Anji reached around with her free hand, grasping for any paper that was nearby. She began to sift through the pieces of paper. Most were ledgers of debts owed, or bits of someone’s diary. There was one piece of paper that was different from the rest, however. It was a battered sheet of paper, burned and smudged by a hundred hands holding it. There even appeared to be what looked like dried blood in one corner of the page.

“Can I have a look at that?” Julius asked, exhausted, extending his hand to the page. It looked like a letter of some sort, and it was old. Very old. Wha- Why can’t I even read it. He squinted his eyes, trying to focus, but his vision was blurry. The fatigue he withstood up to now was finally catching up to his limits. He heard Anji calling him, or thought he heard it, at least, before losing consciousness.

Anji was in the process of giving Julius the paper when he fell over, passing out from the pain of about 6 broken ribs, all of which probably haven’t been healed. Anji yelled out to Julius, but she felt woozy and sat down to help ease the ache in her head and arms. Oooh this hurts so much... maybe a short nap wouldn’t hurt.... keep the headache... ‘way Anji slumped to the floor, clutching the letter in her hand as she gave into unconsciousness.

-----

Zi prodded her sister's supine form. When Anji groaned in discernable discomfort and rolled over, Zi's gasp was, well, more like a shriek. Anji was a sight to see, bruised eye, clots of congealed blood staining her hair, a long cut tracing down her arm. "Anij!" Zi positively screamed. "By the saints, what happened to you?"

Anji, drowsily mumbled, "Go 'way, 'm tryna sleep."

"Trying to sleep? Just look[i/] at yourself!" Zi laid both hands furiously upon her sister's face, attempting to heal away the dark bruise around her eye. "Don't move or I might poke out your eye!" She commanded furiously.

"What? Oi! Gerrof!" Anji tumbled out of her hammock and thudded onto the floor. A shriek of pain echoed through her head as she cradled it in both hands.

She was aware of Tamar showing up at some point: he slammed the door back hard enough to send another jolt of pain right down her spine [i]and we’ll have less of that, thank you very bloody much, damn it her head hurt.
“What the... Anji? Anji! What happened?”

Hot tears drizzled upon Anji as Zi sobbed distraught. "Anji, what happened?" She hugged her, cradling Anji's head at her bosom. Though Anji could feel the familiar warming of healing magic, she could also tell that it wasn't working, that the erratic bursts of magic was fizzling out almost as soon as it left Zi's body.

"Hey, Zi. Stop." Anji said softly. "I'll be alright, really. Stop trying to push yourself so far." She made a move to stand, as Fade barged in. “Ow! WIll people stop banging things!”

"Banging things, banging things," she repeated, barely in control of herself, "What happened, Anji, what happened, what happened?"

“Uh... I think she’s asking a good question, Anji, you look terrible, do you-- I mean, should we find a healer or something?” Tamar asked.

“Sorry about that.” Julius said, not even bothering to keep up the Fade persona. “We need to go Anji. If we don’t settle it today, I don’t think we’ll be able to stop it.”

Nodding, Anji stood on wobbly legs. “How are your ribs?” She asked.

"Wh-what's wrong with your ribs, Fade?" Zi asked, confused at the unfamiliar behaviour he was showing. "What's going on, why are both of you hurt?"

“Still broken. Doesn’t really matter, I’m going and you know that.” He turned to Zi. “Don’t worry about it, you’ve already helped me out, even if you don’t know it. You already helped both of us.”

Tamar at this point was looking back and forth between the two of them. it wasn’t clear which he found more surprising. The state of Anji’s face right now, or the fact that Fade was talking in such clear, concise sentences with words containing more than two syllables. Guess that cat’s outta the bag... Anji winced. They could explain all of this later... Provided later didn’t turn out to be this morning all over again. “Fade, Anji, what... exactly is going on?”

“I can only give you the short version now.” Julius spoke out loud, drawing everyone’s attention to himself.

Tamar blinked, looking confused. “Um... short is fine.”

“Anji and I stumbled upon someplace bad, and we’re in a pinch right now. If we don’t stop it now, we die.” He was afraid of any shocked reaction, but he couldn’t stop to console them. “And before you say anything, no, you’re not going with us. We won’t allow you to be dragged into it, don’t even try.”

Tamar’s eyes went, if it were possible, even wider than before. Those things were kinda weird, now they were up close and staring at her. Anji thought numbly before another wave of pain nearly sent her reeling. “W-what do you mean we’re not going? You just said you could die! We’re supposed to just sit here?” Tamar said, becoming agitated.

“Yes.” Julius held his sheathed sword in front of his body. “If I need to, I’ll make you unable to follow us.” He let the sheath fall back into it’s resting position, shaking his head. “But I have to trust you two. And we need you here for when we get back...”

“Fade you can’t be serious, you-- wait why are you talking differently? You’re scaring Zi!”

“I promise we’ll explain everything when this is over, but for now we need you to stay here. For now, my name is actually Julius.” He turned to Zi who was still clinging to Anji. “And I promise I’ll at least try to hold Anji in one place for you to actually have a chance at healing her.” He smiled, for the first time in a long while.

Maybe it was that which did it. Anji could see why. Smiling, his real smile, not whatever mask he put on as Fade, seemed to change Julius’s entire face. He looked like a completely different person. Tamar took a step backwards, confusion on his face, but some sort of vague almost-understanding beneath it.

“Right well. Not gonna get any easier the longer we wait.” Anji grabbed her coat and walked past Zi, shooting a glare at Julius. “You take care of yourself, alright? Don’t go doing stupid stuff.” Anji then hugged Zi and walked out of the inn, leaving behind Zi, worried, distraught and weeping without knowing why.

Anji and Julius began sprinting down the street, heading for the temple. He explained his idea while they went. Damn these broken ribs. This had to be over, one way or another. Glancing over, Anji panted, “Are you sure this’ll work? I’m not sure how much longer I can keep going.”

“No idea. But I’m pretty sure it’s still there...” He replied, already exhausted. “It doesn’t tell us how to-” The bar brawl they passed through before interrupted him as a man smashed through the nearby window, with a grinning Hector and Ben revealing themselves as the instigators with a timely highfive. Somehow, the brawl happened even without their interference.

“Oh look, another bar brawl, wonderful.” Anji said blearily as they continued a steady pace past the tavern, and towards the forest temple. This time, it didn’t take nearly as long until they stumbled upon the emerald doors. “Fancy meeting you here.” Anji said to the doors, “Do you doors come ‘round here often or is this just for us? You really shouldn’t, you know.”

“Well, if those two tried to follow us, at least we know they didn’t get all the way to here.” Julius started to look around, trying to locate the paper from the day before. And hopefully avoid another game of dodgeball. He saw what seemed to be the bloody edge of a paper in the distance, and showed it to Anji. “Think there are any traps on the way to it?”

“Yeah, prolly. Though they’ll be hidden more cleverly. What are we looking for again?” Anji glanced around nervously as the wind made groaning sounds throughout the temple.

“Any place like this has some form of register. Some documents, like a ledger. That could tell us just what is this place, from there we should be able to figure out what is it doing to us and how to get out of it. Or so I hope, anyway.”

“Julius, did you happen to grab my bracelet yesterday?” Anji said, panicking as she began to look for it.

“Sorry. I don’t think I saw it, but if it’s important we’ll look for it now along with the documents. I’ll help.” He replied, surprised at both her use of his name and at the nature of her question.

“Right, nothing to do but look, I guess.” Anji said as she cautiously moved through the abandoned temple. This places gets creepier every time I find myself in here, hopefully this’ll be the last ti-Woah! Anji shouted mentally as a dart flew past her, burying itself in the wall beyond. Julius stopped digging through bones and papers to check and see if she was alright. Nodding, Anji said, “I’m fine for now, but there are darts flying. I’ll try to be more careful.”

Continuing on, Anji sprung three more traps by throwing bits of bone into the air. When the bones landed, a pressure plate would depress, sending the rudimentary arrows flying through the air. Satisfied that she had cleared all of them, Anji began digging through the piles of bones in search of a registry or something to help her get out of this damn temple.

Following her example, Julius started tossing bones ahead of himself in order to clear the path of possible traps. Luckily, he only found one before hitting the wall and a bigger pile of bones to look through. Both searched quietly for a while, until he managed to find one of the things they were looking for. “Found your bracelet. I think.”

“Hey, is this it?”, Anji said, holding up an aging tome.

They exchanged smiles, trading objects. Anji immediately put her bracelet back on, while Julius sat down to look through the old book. It’s pages were similar to the one they found before passing out in the previous visit. This better be worth it. The fatigue was still there, but apparently he had actually slept, and so felt in a better shape than before. Not that it made much of a difference in regards to reading. Most of the ink was smudged, the paper itself appeared burnt in some spots, the few words recognizable held no meaning whatsoever.

“Furies.” He muttered a curse. Failing to notice a loose leaf that fell off the useless tome. Anji had been messing around with her bracelet, checking for signs of damage, when she saw the paper fall to the ground, “Hey, Julius, take a look at this.”

Picking up the loose leaf of paper, she handed it to Julius. It wasn’t as damaged as the others, but it wasn’t a page of the supposed ledger either, it was framed like a letter and it was mostly readable.

Temple Letter wrote:Dear Millena,

Our challenge was well worth it, and our path out of this accursed land is well within our grasp. My party has finally reache██████████████████████████████████████████████nety ei█████████████████████████████████████████████████████████r final victory will surely follow.

But enough of politics, love. Remember the beast we managed to slay together? Such a fearsome dragon, was██████████████████████████████████████████████████claws as a memento. But I’m fearful. Taking it with me into this next challenge seems unwise. I have however, found a perfect solution to it.

As a result of our last challenge, we have found the most beautiful gem ever imagined! Such beauty makes me only think of you. And a██████████████████████████████████████████████████d feelings, I am to send you the gem and claw, grafted into one.

Would it be too much if I asked that it be the emblem of our house and the trophy of our temple?

All of my love,
Arthur.


“So, is it important?” Anji asked expectantly.

“Yes,I think it might be.” Julius got up, folding the letter to preserve it. “Someone apparently sent some gemstone from way up to here. It’s grafted into a dragon claw.”

“Oh, really? Cool!” Anji paused for a moment, playing with the bandage on her arm, “Wot’s a dragon, anyway?”

“Big lizards. I suppose.” He paused thoughtfully, unsure if he should play a prank or be serious. He ultimately decided to be serious, the situation demanded it, after all. “Really big, strong and dangerous lizards. We should probably find the claw though, that gem shouldn’t be in this floor.”

“Oh. Okay.” Anji began looking through the detritus for a claw of some kind, something anything that stood out. As she looked around, she saw a bone that was oddly shaped. Smiling Anji walked towards it, calling out to Fade, “Hey, I think I found someth-”

Anji’s sentence was stolen as she heard the hiss of a pressure plate being depressed. Anji fell into a roll, hoping to dodge the dart, but felt it impact her left shoulder. Rolling to a stop, Anji curled up into a ball to prevent herself from crying out.

Julius rushed to her side, helping her up. Another wound to the arm... That could be problematic. He looked around, noticing a glimmer underneath some bones. “You found it!” He smiled, pulling out the claw with it’s huge gem attached. The gemstone itself was of a dark red, reminiscent of blood and it felt cold to the touch, almost unnatural. “So, no way I can just waltz up there to return it to the right place, so I’m smashing this thing... Can you take it out of the claw with one of your knives or do I break the whole thing altogether?”

Gingerly, Anji procured a knife and handed it to Julius, trying not disturb her weeping left shoulder. “Here, I don’t think I can, at the moment.”

He looked concerned, but took the knife and managed to displace the gem. Giving the knife back to Anji he commented, handing her the claw as well. “If you never saw a dragon, you’ll probably want to stick to this little thing here.” He put the gem on the floor, picked up one of the rocks and rammed it down unceremoniously. The Gem shattered to dust as easily as if it was glass.

Nothing happened. The temple continued to moan mournfully, bemoaning the deaths of those who came before. After about a minute of silence, Anji spoke up, “So... Is it over or what?”

Julius wasn’t sure himself. For a while, it seemed like nothing had changed. Maybe the claw itself is a problem as well? He wondered what his next step should be... Until the stone sphere, the one who broke his ribs previously, appeared out of nowhere, rolling on the ground toward him. As did the cow skull they saw before... The different times of the temple began to mesh together and suddenly the amount of bones appearing every instant was staggering. It would soon overflow the temple, if it keep that pace. He looked at Anji, his face was waning as he mouthed the word without actually saying it. “Run.”

Anji didn’t need to be told twice. Rocking up onto her feet, she began sprinting for the green doors that permitted entry into the cursed temple. Every step sent waves of agony through her arms and head. Looking back, she could see Fade running his own race against his injuries, the broken ribs finally catching up to him as they both raced for the doors.

They barely made it outside before the temple began to overflow with the pieces of bone, stone, paper, wood and perhaps many other things. The many repeated days that the temple sustained were now collapsing into a single one, all the events and damage adding up to cracks and litter until even the emerald doors broke down to shreds. The temple had ceased existing, in it’s place there was now a mass of rubble.

Anji looked at the temple, turned to Fade and said, “Well that was awful. Let’s never repeat that again.”

“Agreed, petitioned for and signed. May our days not repeat themselves!” He could laugh again, apparently, still wincing at the chest pain, but it was worth it to be alive. They walked slowly back to the city, getting into sight of the closest gate well after nightfall. In the distance, they could discern three shapes standing there, the frames of Zi and Tamar trying to get outside, while the scout on duty, Alexander, stood in their way.

“Oh... Looks like today won’t reset, uh? We better keep the promises...” He said grinning at Anji.

“Oh no you don’t. You are not keeping me in one spot for Zi to heal me. That’s an order, guildmember.” Anji said, backing away from the gates.

“Hey, I just said I’d try to.” He started laughing. “With the way I am right now I’d probably die in the attempt! I’m sure Zi wouldn’t allow that.” Settling down for a while. “I actually mean the one about explaining what happened to them. I figure we owe them that much, at least.”

“I don’t think it would be a bad thing.” Anji said, “Though Zi isn’t going to let me out of the inn for weeks, you either. It’s going to be so boring sitting still.”

“We can handle it.” They walked toward the gate, to the safety of the city and to the company of their friends. With perhaps just a bit of sarcasm in between.
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Pixelmage
 
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Guyshane on Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:42 pm

Marcus was out riding his horse. He had gotten quite used to the mount as time passed naming him Binky. I cannot believe I slept through a Kobold raid, even if it was on the other side of town from me. Marcus entered into the edge of town. Now maybe I can see about getting that bomb-making material, I’m sure it will come in handy later. That’s when he saw what looked like a massacre. A something had clearly burst out of a large hole in the ground. It appeared that all the guards were dead. “Oh this is bad.” A loud roar echoed through the buildings. Marcus wasted no more time before getting Binky and fleeing towards the edge of the level with the beast in pursuit.

The forest shook with heavy footfalls and a deafening roar, and Pan groaned to herself as she was suddenly startled awake. "What in the world--?" The roar came again, louder. The girl was shocked completely awake, and she sat up in her tree as she turned towards the source.

Narrowing her green eyes, she nimbly took a hold of her shepherd's staff and leapt to the base of the tree from branch to branch. Gripping the staff cautiously, she slowly made her way towards the source of the sound.

She hadn't been walking for long when there was yet another roar and a man burst through the trees on his horse, dashing past her as though hell was on their heels. She turned towards the direction they came only to watch the trees get plowed down as a rabid, misshapen thing came forward. It roared in blind anger, thrashing its head madly, and Pan wasted no time before climbed up the nearest tree and dashed from one to another in the direction the rider went. She could hear the behemoth plowing down the forest behind her, and her only thoughts were to run.

Okay so were in a bit of a tight spot here, I mean the edge could be just a much to my detriment as the thing’s. Marcus looked back at the monster pursuing him. It was bigger than his horse with horns, scales, claws and all sort of nasty. I need a bit of time to think, maybe I can drop something on it and slow it down. At that point Marcus looked up and saw what appeared to be a young shepherd running along tree branches. I don’t remember any sheep here, Maybe he is another adventurer, Oh please let him be someone useful. Marcus whistled as loud as he could and sped towards a break in the tree line hoping the other person would catch his meaning.
Pan turned abruptly as the rider gave a sharp whistle. She gave her attention to him as he steered his horse in a new direction, where she could see the trees beginning to thin out. Oh, thank Terra, she thought, changing course.

As she did so, she noticed the behemoth still pursuing closely behind, only hindered by the thick forest trees. She had to slow it down somehow. Thinking quickly, she lowered her goggles over her eyes with one hand and held out her staff with the other. She jumped high off a branch and spun in mid-air, facing the beast. She channeled as much energy as she could down her weapon, and a bright flash of yellow-white light filled the area instantly.

The beast roared in pain and rage as it was blinded by the light, and Pan reached out with her free hand to catch a branch and swing to the next tree. She risked a look behind her and saw the beast thrashing, getting itself turned around and eventually charging off in a new direction. It wasn't the way they came, but it was good enough to let her meet up with the rider to figure out what the hell was going on.

Marcus had not been watching the truly spectacular acrobatic feat the young mage pulled off. He had turned around when he heard (perhaps felt is the more appropriate term) the massive detonation. well that wasn’t the plan, it was better than my plan. I’ll have to congratulate him if we make it out of here alive. He pulled Binky to a stop in the clearing and dismounted patiently waiting for the young man to arrive. When he did, Marcus stepped forward and spoke “ Hello friend my name is Marcus. What is yours young ma-“ Marcus’ voice trailed off as he got a better look at the spellcaster and realized the he was in fact a she. Okay little stuff later, giant monster problems now.

“Anyway what was I saying? Name and then tell me what you can do, we need a plan quickly, before the terrible beasty comes back and kills us.

The girl smirked the slightest bit when she heard the rider's verbal slip, but didn't let herself respond with banter. There were bigger issues.

"My name is Pan," she said, keeping it short and simple. "I'm a low level healer and lightning user. I'm also very agile and have high endurance. I managed to blind it for a while, but I have no idea if or when it's coming back." She looked up and pinned him with her eyes. "I don't know what's going on here or what that thing is, but as much as I'd love to bully an explanation out of you, what's important is figuring out its weak spots. What can you do and what do you know?"

“Well my name is Marcus. I have this here pointy stick and my horse Binky.” gesturing to each in turn. “I’m not sure what the thing is but I saw evidence that it burst out of the underground, we’ve had some odd reports from people who went don there. I heard one guy ended up in a showdown with a vampire down there and there was a notice awhile back that some scouts had disrupted a summoning ceremony. Either the thing is native to the underground” Which is a profoundly disturbing thought. “or the scouts didn’t disrupt the ceremony enough.”

“Regardless of what it is the thing has suffered a lot of wounds, so its weaker than it would be normally be, count our blessings on that account. We don’t actually know anything about this thing’s biology so its difficulty to tell what will actually kill it. Our best chance is to target its head and about where the heart would be on any other animal. If that doesn’t kill it outright it should at least wound it enough that we can find a way to kill it. We need to lure it into a trap.”

A trap, huh? Pan thought, eyes losing focus as she analyzed the new information. But how do we do that...? She'd been living in this forest for a couple of days, but that wasn't nearly enough time to scour every inch of it. However...

"What if we lead it back underground? Trap it somewhere away from the village? Maybe with a good rockslide, we can keep it there until it dies of its own wounds."

Marcus stared blankly at the girl. “You want to go to the underground? After everything I just told you about the underground? Knowing that there could be more of these down there? It could work but there is a lot more risk involved than just killing it up here on the surface.

"Not in the same place," Pan said absently, still thinking. "There's a set of caverns nearby, it's practically a maze. I haven't gone through all of it, but there's a lot of room, and it'll be simple to set off a rockslide that'll trap it inside, maybe even injure it further."

“Okay then, I like this plan. Show me to the way to the entrance of the cavern. Then you can set up nearby, I’ll lead it to the caverns and then you can collapse the entrance on it once the monster is inside.”

Pan nodded, shifting the grip on her staff when she heard a very distant roar. It wasn't close by, but the thing was fast. They didn't have much time.

Scanning the treeline to get her bearings, she turned towards the mountains. "Follow me," she called toward Marcus, and waited only the briefest moment before starting to run again.

Marcus followed her to the caves and then rode off on his horse while Pan set up for the trap. He rode through the forest following the roars of the beast through the forest trying to find the source Where the hell is it? The damn thing cant have gotten that far away. When Marcus turned the next bend he was confronted face-to-face with the monster. Marcus had gotten glimpses of the monster before but It was even uglier up close vaguely resembling a mutant hybrid of a lion and a dinosaur. Both stared at each other for a moment. “Your mother was a gecko.” With that comment Marcus wheeled Binky around and set off at full speed for the cave entrance.

Immediately after Marcus took off he could feel the monster hot on his trail. He could hear the sounds of its charging stride and of obstructions being battered and crushed. He could smell its fetid breath. At several points during the chase he was almost gored by the monster leaving him with several minor wounds on his back. Eventually he emerged into the clearing where the entrance was, with the behemoth right on his heels. He then pulled Binky in a hard left turn. This maneuver almost caused his horse to lose it’s footing. However it was worse for the monster which slipped and crashed into the cave entrances

“Pan! NOW!!!”

Pan, who was precariously perched onto the slope above the cave entrance, immediately jammed her staff into the base of a large boulder, which began to roll down the mountainside. She repeated this again and again, just barely managing to keep her footing. The rocks crashed down and began to seal the entrance. A deafening roar emerged when the entrance was half-full, and a claw made an attempt at pushing the rubble away.

"Oh, no you don't," Pan growled, jamming her staff into a crevice and letting loose a strong electric current into the stone. The rock beneath her feet exploded, sending tons more rock directly on top of the beast and sending Pan flying with a cry. She rolled roughly down the slope and only just managed to jam her staff into another crevice, jerking her to a halt before she fell to her death.

Marcus looked up at his somewhat distressed companion with a smile on his face. I swear if it isn’t one thing its another. He brought Binky up under the dangling mage once the avalanche had stopped. “Milady, if you wish you can continue to hang around that is fine, but I believe it would behoove us more to get back to town and tell them about everything that transpired here today.”

The girl looked down at the rider with a very unimpressed look on her face. Gripping her staff and bracing her feet against the rock, she jerked the wood away from the stone and backflipped away from the mountain, landing neatly next to him and rapping him sharply over the head, lightly shocking him for good measure. "Don't call me 'milady,' rider," she said, her voice rough with exertion, before she began to walk towards the village.

“Ow, what the hell” Geez getting hit over a joke, some people. He rode on alongside the mage. Makes me wish for Mirae, at least she’s reasonable.
I say we nuke it from orbit...its the only way to be sure.
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Guyshane
 
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:45 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Pixelmage on Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:57 pm

Turn Rewards:
  • Lordxana0 ~ Kobold Notes.
  • JackAlsworth ~ Blackwood Bow.
  • IslaKariese ~ Behemoth Horn.
  • Guyshane ~ Gunpowder Pouch.
  • eli_gone_crazy ~ Dragon Claw.
  • Pixelmage ~ Metal Sense: Discipline.

Success. The only word that courses through the minds of all castle denizens today. The outpost in Floor 2 is now secured, the City Guard has moved sentries to guard it and even now there is work by artisans and engineers to restructure the crude village into a proper human settlement.

The sudden visit of an underground beast was thwarted with no deaths, bards now sing of the confrontation and all know about it. Somehow, it looks like a Gecko was involved?

A new name has also risen to attention, alongside the legends: Arthur. He's being called the Late King, as a letter from him implies his presence in the highest floors many years ago, it's theorized that he led the previous explorers, but the scholars have yet to find proof of that theory.

Setting update: The City Guard is now a formal faction. Lead by a strong figure who goes by the name of Legias. Discipline and training drills among the ranks are now enforced regularly, and the informal coursing through the gates is frowned upon. Players who want can work for the City Guard, lampshading your position as wall sentries in between quests and it won't affect your ability to take on quests.

Quest 8: Tiny Emissary.
What's the fuss all about? The Goblins thought as they watched the ruckus caused by fleeing kobolds. A goblin ambassador was dispatched to the Floor 2 Outpost to discuss the future of the relations between the newly arrived humans and the goblin tribes.
Your goal: Reach an agreement.
Quest Takers: Mirae (Tohrinha) and Darren (Blurred_9L)

Quest 9: Think of the bookworms!
Not all thieves bow to Seire. A bunch of thugs decided that an old library would serve as a good hideout, all they do is drink and break things. Without any order they'll eventually burn the place to the ground. The scholars plead for help they need the library in order to better understand the castle!
Your goal: Drive the intruders out, without destroying the intellectual resources.
Quest Takers: Seire "Kaitou" Valefar (AMimsyBorogove) and Morionem (Victin).

Quest 10: Missing woodpeckers.
It's been a couple of days since the wood shipments stopped coming into town. The lumberjacks made no contact and the craftsmen become increasingly worried. You are sent to find their camp and discover what happened.
Your goal: Locate the lumberjacks and restore the wood supply chain.
Quest Takers: Giselle (narrativedilettante) and Salvantas Londgium (Lordxana0)

GM Notes:
  • On Quest 8 ~ Ok, this is important. The goblins are tribal like the Kobolds, but while the kobolds are ritualistic and shamanic, the goblins are more technologically focused. They have a basic level of metalwork and crude iron mines in their region.
  • On Quest 9 ~ No Mimsy, you can't keep the hat. :P This is a rescue mission, in a way, so you can't just just burn everything down to get them out. Save from that you're free to handle it as you wish. The only constraint is that the library must be there for the scholars to use as their headquarters.
  • On Quest 10 ~ Also a rescue mission, the lumberjacks are being kept as prisoners by a kobold beastmaster from the now-seized outpost. He's a straggler, acting on his own, but he has some degree of mastery over the wolves in the region, so he's holding the men isolated from the city.

Time limit for the turn is one week. Deadline: Saturday, March 23rd at 23:59 EST. If this is a bad week for anyone in the quest takers, let me know as soon as possible so that we can arrange a substitution on the quest.
Play smart, good luck and have fun!
Last edited by Pixelmage on Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Pixelmage
 
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Tohrinha on Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:13 pm

Quest 8: Tiny Emissary

“No, of course I won’t do it”, said Darren calmly as he looked the soldier in the eye. He had come that morning specifically looking for him, something about goblins showing up and wanting to talk about the recent events. “Aren’t there other people who can do this besides me?”

“I’m afraid most of us are busy at the moment. Even though the kobolds were driven off, we still should be careful in case they decide to show up again. We were careless before and I’m sure you knew the consequences of that, after all, it took a long while to repair the main town on the first floor... twice.” Darren crossed his arms, he didn’t mind being a sentry whenever the City Guard needed it, finding a lost delusional mage wasn’t all that bad, but this was different. He had never seen a goblin before and even though he had decided to try to be more adventurous, he hardly had this kind of job in his mind when he thought that.

“What about you? Can’t you do it yourself?” Darren said, trying to evade the soldier’s scornful glare. Just as he said that, the soldier smirked. “What is he thinking?” he thought, getting nervous all of a sudden.

“I have other duties to attend to...” he started, still grinning at him. “... but anyway, you don’t have any choice. It was Legias who ordered you had to do it.”

“And what if I refuse?” Darren said, raising his voice this time. Something inside him told him that it was useless to keep arguing, but still, he held onto whatever hope he might have left.

“Well...” the soldier’s smirk widened as he left the word hang in the air. “...I’m pretty sure you’d rather keep that incident with the mage and the little girl just outside of the cathedral a secret. After all, a murder is a murder, even if we’re no longer under any kingdom’s jurisdiction” Darren fell silent as he heard him speak. He gritted his teeth in anger. “So what’s it going to be?”

“Fine!” he shouted, a bit more strongly than he had intended. “But let me tell you something.” he glared at the soldier, a menacing look forming on his face. “You don’t know what happened over there. Whatever you think it was, you got it all wrong. That guy deserved it after attacking that little girl. He should have...”

“Right, enough of that, I don’t care.” The soldier cut him off. “Just get it done.” Turning around to leave, the soldier looked at Darren one last time. “And don’t make us regret this.”

Mirae had followed the guard silently through the outpost, considering. She had heard of goblins, but only as near-legendary creatures. Hardly someone she expected to be in negotiations with, let alone practically the moment she had come through the gate. She coughed, catching the guard’s attention.

“Why me?” She continued in response to the guard’s quizzical look. “I mean, you can’t call my capturing some cows an act of diplomacy. Why would I be chosen for this?”

The guard shrugged. “All I know is that Legias wants you on this. I just found you first. Don’t know anything more’n my orders.”

Mirae frowned. That’s extremely helpful. The sound of shouting coming from the inn ahead distracted her from saying anything. As they neared, she saw another soldier, arguing heatedly with a man just outside the inn doors. “Fine!” The soldier’s companion drew himself up but didn’t yell out anything more. She glanced curiously at the soldier’s retreating back as the two split.

“You’re Darren?” Her companion asked the man, who had remained at the inn.

“Yeah... I guess I am...” he answered, a bit annoyed. “I’m sort of busy, do you need something?”

“I brought you a partner. This is Mirae.” She nodded. “She’ll be meeting the ambassador with you, at the main gate. I’ll... be off telling Legias you’re on it, then.” He grinned awkwardly, then hastily ran off.

Once again, Mirae found herself staring in confusion at a fleeing soldier. Shaking her head, she turned to her companion. He was less intimidating up close, seeming annoyed rather than outright angry. “Um, Darren, is it?” She paused. You’re being ridiculous. He’s the only way you’ll find out anything right now. Stop being paranoid and admit you don’t know. “I assume you know what’s going on? I got briefed, but.... All I know is that I’m off to parley with a goblin.”

“Uhm...” he hesitated at her sudden query. “I have never seen a goblin with my own eyes, but that soldier kind of briefed me a bit... I guess...” he tried to sound less nervous than he really was, after all, the soldier hadn’t mentioned being partnered with somebody else, and he didn’t really know how dangerous goblins could be. “Well, anyway... Mirae, right? It seems goblins aren’t really that menacing, but they might attack in groups, just like those kobolds we had a while ago. The soldier said they’re not really tall or imposing, but... that’s pretty much all the information I have.” Darren tried to look away in shame due to his lack of information, but in the end, decided to just go along with it.

“Anyway, we should head over the gate soon, I don’t think these goblins will be in a good mood if we take too long.”

- - -

The goblins were waiting at the main gate, guarded by a pair of wary sentries. They were short and green, like in the stories, but not like anything Mirae had imagined. Their hairless skin was leathery, their hands callused. A short nose jutted out above a grey mouth, now contorting with anticipation. Many sets of large eyes focused on the scout and mage, peering out above colorful red and yellow clothing. One goblin stood in front, the others splayed out behind him like an honor guard.

“Greetings...” Darren started nervously, realizing he hadn’t thought of a proper way to refer to the small creatures. “...uh...sir. My name is Darren and this is Mirae.” Mirae stepped forward and bowed to show her respect, Darren, still concentrated on being as polite as he could, quickly imitated his partner’s gesture. “We heard you had some important matter to discuss, we will be representing our kind. I hope we can reach an agreement.”

The goblins bowed in response. The one with the most colorful clothing stepped forward to greet the two travellers. “Mah name be Yester” he paused, scanning with his big eyes both of the adventurers, as if he was expecting some sort of ambush. “Ye guys don’t look like ambassadors. Guess ye’ll have to do, eh kiddies” he finally said, letting out a hearty laugh.

“He certainly doesn’t look like an unreasonable kind of guy” Darren sheepishly smiled, not knowing in which way to react. “But why am I stuck with people calling me a kid?”

“We’d better get on the more serious matter, eh mates?” said Yester, making some weird gestures to the other guards behind him. “But first, ye have sum’ ‘splaining to do. A while ago ‘dis was a Kobold settlement, y’know? But I head over ‘ere to see what da fuss is about and... well what do ya know, no Kobold’n sight! Just a buncha tall creatures! Care to tell me what is ‘dis ‘bout?”

Mirae dug her nails into the palm of her hand to keep from fidgeting. It wouldn’t do to show nerves in front of the goblins -- or her partner, for that matter. “The kobolds abandoned this settlement,” she began, keeping her tone respectful. “From what I heard, they believed a god of theirs visited and banished the entire village. We were exploring and came across it. It seemed to be a good spot for an outpost.” Not strictly the truth, but a little evasion could keep what trust the goblins had in them.

“A...Anyway...” Darren stuttered, understanding what his partner had just done. “...now that that’s been settled, I... we would like to hear what you came here for.” he hesitated, his hand suddenly finding its way to the pocket in which he kept his spare knives. He was getting even more nervous, but he couldn’t show it now, he had to stay strong and try not to start shaking. “We... understand we’re invading you’re territories, but I’m sure we can reach an agreement so neither humans nor goblins enter a conflict of some sort.”

Yester frowned, lowering his head to think about what he should do next. The answer Mirae had given him seemed to have made him more serious than he had been before. “I see...” was all that he could mutter before remaining silent for a while. The wind gently started blowing. The goblins appeared to be uneasy about their ambassador’s silence, but they remained unmoving, not wanting to disturb their superior. “We goblins be a mining race since before I was born.” Yester finally said. His words were clear, his voice firm. “We be looking inside the caves around ‘ere for a while now, but it wasn’t like that before... or so I be told.” His voice turned low and solemn all of a sudden, as if remembering was something that goblins didn’t like to do. “Mah elders once told I that we didn’t knew how to mine before. We just looted the nearby villages for gold and shiny objects.... We love ‘em shiny objects! They be glittery and shiny and precious, oh! So precious...!” Yester said, his voice turning manic. The goblins behind him all looked agitated at the mention of valuable minerals, but they all quickly regained their composure, ashamed of their sudden outburst. “Er.. please ‘scuse that, we be having some trouble with mining lately... we haven’t been able to find any... er... ye know. Anyway!” he shouted trying to distract the scout and the mage from his weird behavior. Darren jumped a little, startled by the sudden exclamation. “Our elders spoke of tall people, maybe sorta like ye, kiddies. Now what was his name? Arta... No.. Turan? Artee? Ar... Ar... sum’thing! His people taught us how to mine. Perhaps you can teach us more?”

Mirae glanced over at Darren. She didn’t recognize the description, but it seemed as if he did. Perhaps something had happened here while she had stayed on the first floor? Whatever it was, it seemed ancient history. She sighed. He could muse on that all he pleased. She would just have to step up and develop the “agreement” into something substantial.

“We would be willing to teach you what we know,” Mirae said. I’m pretty sure neither of us are blacksmiths, but between us there must be something the goblins don’t have. There was always that magic trick she had been playing with. “In return.... Would you leave us to the outpost? We would be free to go about the uninhabited land, staying out of your territory. And your mines, of course.”

The goblin chuckled at her words. “Aye, that’d be a deal.” Yester’s eyes gleamed. One of his guards scuffed his foot on the ground, the dirt forming a swirl in the wind. The guard quickly stopped as the dust floated around the hems of the goblins’ robes. Taking no notice, Yester continued. “Us goblins’ll stay outta this place,” he said, gesturing to the settlement, “while ye tall ‘uns are ‘ere. Now, what can ye teach us?” The goblin rubbed his hands together, grinning.

“Well, I bet it takes a long time to make a mineshaft for you guys, doesn’t it?” Darren asked to the group of goblins. Noticing they all nodded in approvement, he continued speaking. “We used to have that problem too... but not anymore. I heard people use explosives to make that job easier. You can make your way inside a cave faster with them. Uh...” he stopped to think about a simple way to explain explosives to the goblins, which now were enthralled by Darren’s words and looked at him expectantly. “Basically, there’s a wall...” he gestured with his arms, shaping them like a wall “...then you set up the explosives...” he moved his hands, making the form of a small concentrated sphere of air “...and then you activate them and... Boom!” finally, Darren extended his arms as he shouted, completing his explanation. “...A blast happens and then, no more wall. Does that seem useful too you?” he asked Yester, hoping that the negotiation wouldn’t take much more time.

“Yarr! Yes, that’d be helpful. But lemme check with mah guys, yes?” he turned back to speak to the other goblins. Short laughs and whispers could be heard for a while, as they confabulated with each other. Finally, Yester returned, smiling, holding his hands together in a gesture of satisfaction. He looked back once last time, all the other goblin guards nodding to him. “We will accept yer offer, kiddies”.

“Nice!” Darren let out, feeling less stressed than a minute before. He extended his hand to offer a handshake to the smaller creature. “So... do we call it a deal?”

“Deal.” answered Yester, his smile widening as he grabbed the scout’s hand.

- - -

“Where is that damn soldier anyway? We can’t have the goblins get out of here if we don’t give them the explosives...” Darren had left a while ago, leaving Mirae to deal with the goblins while he went looking for the explosives. The outpost wasn’t so big yet that a lot of people could inhabit it, but apparently it was big enough to make locating a simple soldier a difficult task. Finally, Darren decided to try one of the bigger houses that was made into some kind of bar. Unsurprisingly, he found the soldier there, sitting at a poorly improvised counter, chugging down a bottle of ale. Other members of the City Guard sat at his sides making jokes and laughing loudly. As he entered the establishment he could feel everyone looking at him, making him nervous. The smell of alcohol hovered in the air even though it hadn’t been that much time since noon. Darren felt disgusted. “Well, better get this over with as soon as possible.”

“Hey, deal’s been done.” he told to the guard, who immediately frowned upon seeing him. “Though I might have run into some trouble back there.”

“...And what would that be?” the soldier replied, irritated at being interrupted during his leisure time.

“Well... yeah. Goblin guy loves mining. So we’re giving him something to make that easier.” Darren noticed he was being a lot more aggressive than he was accustomed to. He didn’t like the soldier at all, he couldn’t care less if he was being a jerk to him.

“And why do you need me to solve that particular issue? Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“Because I don’t have the key to the storage.” he said. The soldier looked at him dumbfounded. “We’re giving him some explosives.” The soldier spat his drink all over the counter, making his group fall silent. He turned to see Darren, fire burning in his eyes, visibly trying to keep himself from strangling the young scout. Darren smirked. “Success!”

“You. Did. WHAT?!”

- - -

Mirae wondered how one made small-talk with goblins. The negotiation seemed all but finished, so all she was doing at the moment was standing around awkwardly. Darren’s absence felt like an itch in the small of her back; she wanted to run after him, put a tail on him, do something to ensure he’d return. You really think he’d just leave in the middle of this? Regardless of who he is.... The soldiers know him. He wouldn’t get away with it. She heard footsteps on the road inside the outpost. Turning, she saw Darren walking back towards the gate, a box hooked under his arm. See?

The bunch of explosives seemed small to her. Surely nothing they had could take down walls repeatedly and be that size. Taking a few steps away from the gate, she caught his arm. “I understand giving them a limited supply of this, but shouldn’t we make it last for a while? Otherwise, we’ll just have more trouble on our hands, and soon. Or.... Is this more powerful than it looks?”

“Oh... you mean why’s the box so small? Oh... I had that soldier write up how to make more, so they don’t come asking for more.” Darren smiled, triumphant. “I think the initial amount is enough for them to last quite a while too”.

Mirae looked at him askance. “All right....” She turned back to the goblins, who were once again studying them, and especially the box, avidly. “We have the explosives for you. As well as instructions for making them,” she added, reluctantly. Forcing her tone neutral, she continued, “They should be enough to improve your mines for years to come.” She motioned for Darren to give them the box, managing a smile as she did so. Soon this would be over.

Darren approached the goblins slowly, seeing the sudden surge of excitement in their eyes, he couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about it. “It will be fine” he told himself, trying to not pay much attention to them as he handed the box to Yester, whose grin intensified even more than when they shaked hands.

“Great, great!” said Yester as he handed the box to the other goblins, who instantly tore it open, taking away the papers with the instructions on how to make the explosives. “Now if I may ask ye a question, kiddies...” Yester took a step forward, suddenly looking more menacing than a moment before. His eyes open wide, his smile twisted. Both Mirae and Darren felt a sudden chill running down their spines. Were they mistaken? “When our neighbors, the kobolds fled ‘dis place, they be crying in fear and terror. They cried: ‘Omonga has come, never return!’. So, ye would expect this place tae be empty, right? But I was wrong. Humans are ‘ere. Humans took ‘dis for themselves. It was a trick.” Yester’s expression turned dark. “That Arthas guy was no liar! Ye guys are the liars, and like ye did with our brethren, the kobold, we do to ye. Ready for a trick, kiddies?”

Damn. Damn damn damn. Mirae felt the blood leave her face. This was bad. Some part of her protested that he wouldn’t break his word; he’d promised to leave the humans in peace in exchange for the explosives. ...But he didn’t have to break his word. What did he promise? “Us goblins’ll stay outta this place...” He’s friendly with the kobolds, he doesn’t have to set foot inside our walls. Just sic his cousins on us. “Damn.”

Darren couldn’t help himself anymore. He was completely terrified, his body rocked in place with fear. His hand instinctively holded one of the knives inside his pocket, but he stopped himself from using this. “If I make a wrong move, I’ll just make things worse.” He looked to his side, hoping that Mirae would be more composed than he was. She seemed to be in deep thought, probably thinking about a way to get themselves out of this. He couldn’t let herself do all the work. “Alright, I’ve got to think of something... Anything, even if it’s just stalling!” He let go of the knife’s handle, and tried to calm himself enough to not stutter while talking. “W...Wait! There’s no need for that, right? Maybe we can... uh... reach some kind of agreement... just... what would you like?”

Yester laughed at Darren’s proposal. “Ye kiddies are the amusing kind, aren’t ya? Ye can’t give me what I want right now.” he paused, considering the offer that was just given to him. “But I’ll give ye a chance tae impress me.” he grinned evilly again. “Just remember, no tricks, else this place goes...” he imitated Darren’s gestures of a bomb exploding. “...boom! Mwehehehe!”

The goblin’s laugh brought Mirae back to the moment. Impress him? He wants us to impress him? She was still nervous about the threat, but a mixture of pride and anger began to rise in her. A glance at Darren showed he wasn’t about to answer the challenge. “Hm. Amusing, are we?” She addressed Yester, all formal respect gone. “I have something that you might like.” It seems I’ll get to use that magic trick after all.

She wheeled to face into the outpost, keeping her back to the walls rather than the goblins. There wasn’t much suitable nearby. Just hitting the ground randomly wouldn’t work. Door hinges were too small; besides, she didn’t think their owners would take well to her removing them. As she shifted, something cold and hard hit the side of her head. Grimacing, Mirae turned and saw the sentry’s platform -- a wide iron slat attached to the wooden palisade. Perfect.

“Hey!” She called to the guard. He remained motionless; he seemed to be doing his best to ignore whatever was going on beneath him. At least, until a pebble struck his shoulder. The guard looked down and saw Mirae looking back up at him. “You might want to move.”

“And why would I want to do that?”

A smile started to spread across her face. “Well, it’s going to get very hot in a moment.” She tried to suppress the smile, but it only widened as the sentry’s eyes shot open and he hastily leapt off his post. He hit the ground and rolled to a crouch. Mirae thought she could hear him mutter, “Bloody mages.”

A look at the goblins assured her that she had their full attention. The smile grew into a grin. She tilted her head.

A blinding white light lit up the gate. The power’s path snaked through the sky, jumping from side to side, but always traveling towards the small party. A gigantic lightning bolt struck the metal slat, one main column of light and heat, small forks spreading out above their heads, then was gone almost instantaneously. The crash of following thunder drowned Mirae’s laugh.

As the afterimage faded from her sight, Mirae approached the iron piece. It appeared just as it had before, though the wood behind it was scorched. She didn’t try to put her hand to it, as it would likely still be hot from the lightning. Instead, she reached quickly inside her sleeve and flipped out a knife. It jumped from her hand as she moved it closer, sticking to the iron. It worked!

She turned back to the goblins, grinning with pride. They were perhaps a little less disconcerted than she would have liked, but this wasn’t the end of her presentation.

“That piece of metal will attract any iron around it. Might be useful in hunting down ores, or separating iron from earth. As soon as it’s cool enough, you can take it.” She watched them for a reaction.

“Hmm.... Neat trick, kiddie.” Yester seemed unconvinced. “But tha’ mae be just a trick. What ‘appens if I gets back and it doesn’t work, eh?”

Mirae took a deep breath. She’d expected this, but she didn’t like what she was about to say at all. “It’ll work. It might take lightning to create it, but it doesn’t lose the attraction once that’s gone. And... you can bring it back to me. If it ever stops working, return it to me, and I’ll play my … ‘trick’ again. You have my word, and you have witnesses.”

Darren looked astonished at the display of power Mirae had shown. Sure, the goblins weren’t as impressed as him,but they probably had used magic for practical purposes all their lives... or so he thought, as opposed to himself, who had only witnessed the power of magic as a form of violence. It sure was nice for a change. “Magic is a scary thing, I guess...” He glanced over to Yester, who didn’t seem convinced at all. “He’s still hesitating... I’ve better do something then.”

“It will work.” he simply said, making Yester instantly look at him unimpressed. “You threaten with blowing this place up. I say we’re not in any position to be giving out defective gifts. You already have what you need, so let’s make the deal shall we?”

Yester’s face indicated that he felt offended by that last comment, but Darren didn’t really care anymore, the day had been nothing but bad new after bad new. It was about time to end it. Finally, Yester let out a laugh. “Ye kids are quite the bunch, eh? Fine, I’ll leave ye alone... but remember, us goblins will always be watching... so ye better not tell any lies, ‘nless ye want yer homes gone.”

He turned back to the group of goblins behind him and ordered: “Alright, guys, we be leaving this stinkyard. Grab the loot and scram!” He walked away, not waiting for the other goblins who were busy lifting the box of explosives or grabbing the metal plate, even though it was probably still hot from the lightning bolt.

“Well... that’s that I guess.” Darren spoke, letting out a big sigh of relief. He looked at Mirae, still impressed. “Well, congratulations, you saved the day.” he said, smiling. “I’ll buy you a drink or something... don’t worry about paying, it’s on me.”

Mirae smiled. “That’s kind of y-- Are you all right? You look pale.”

Darren took a hand to his forehead, he felt a bit cold. He shrugged. “I’m sure it’ll go away later, come on, let’s go.”
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Tohrinha
Meta-Knight
 
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:52 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby narrativedilettante on Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:34 pm

Quest 10: Missing woodpeckers.

The forest was quiet. Too quiet. Giselle couldn’t hear a single animal. She’d been searching for game all morning, and aside from some cows grazing near the gate, which were both too large for her to carry and, perhaps more importantly, in a pen, she hadn’t seen a single animal. This in itself wasn’t particularly shocking, as animals often hid from sight, but she also hadn’t heard any animal noises whatsoever. No skittering of rabbits or squirrels as she passed near shrubbery, no footsteps or broken branches from larger animals like deer, not even any birdsong.

The silence was outright disturbing. Giselle began to wonder if she’d gone deaf. She shot an experimental arrow into a tree, and heard the distinctive twang of it leaving the bow and the thunk of it landing in wood, thus determining that whatever the problem was, it wasn’t with her hearing. She wished there was running water nearby to alleviate the silence somewhat.

After hours wandering through the forest, becoming more creeped out every minute, Giselle decided to put away her bow and focus on something less frustrating. She reached into her knapsack and pulled out a piece of parchment, and a crystal that she’d found abandoned a few days before. The crystal was bright green and opaque, and attached to a metal clip with elaborate engravings forming a geometric pattern. She’d tried to use it to hold together pages of a letter she’d written, which had turned out to be a mistake, but a fruitful one.

Now, in the forest, she clipped the crystal onto some parchment and watched, still with glee, wondering if she would ever get used to this, as an iconic depiction of her surroundings appeared on the page, spreading in a circle reaching roughly ten feet from her in each direction.

Unsurprisingly, her current surroundings were shown merely by icons indicating that there were trees. The clip wouldn’t be terribly useful for forests and the like. It would show trails, but out where Giselle was there weren’t very many of those. She was mainly hoping to find some sort of underground storeroom or hidden base. If animal hunting wasn’t working out, maybe treasure hunting would be better. She started walking, watching as the mapped area expanded in her direction of travel.

After roughly twenty minutes, she had reached the edge of her parchment, and decided to keep going and switch to a new one instead of filling in the one she’d already started. She was in no mood to walk in circles.

Almost immediately, this decision was rewarded with the first actual feature to appear on her map of the forest. A path lay ahead of her. She could see it through the trees, so she would have found it without the map, but on the map it was labeled, and otherwise she wouldn’t have known that this was the loggers’ road.

Giselle decided to walk along the loggers’ road and see if there was anything interesting along the way. At the very least, it should lead to a lumber yard, where there should definitely be a break from the infuriating and deafening silence that seemed to have overcome the entire forest.

Since she was looking at her map and watching it fill itself in, it took Giselle a while to realize that she hadn’t passed a single person on the road. Typically, men would be carrying lumber into the village. She’d expect to see a cart or two, or at the very least somebody straining under the weight of a bundle of planks. But no one came the other way. No one whatsoever.

Something here is very wrong, thought Giselle, and she wished that that was a thought she had less often. Now spurred by a mixture of curiosity and a desire to help fix whatever was going on, she picked up her pace and quickly arrived at the lumber yard.

It was just as quiet as the rest of the forest.

There were felled trees, logs that had been partially split into pieces, and piles of wood planks, but no people working on any of them. Giselle spotted some axes on the ground, and one still stuck in a tree, and some other tools scattered about. Leaving tools all over the work area was extremely unprofessional. It seemed likely that something had interrupted the lumberjacks as they were working.

"Quite odd is it not?" Salvantas came out from behind one of the forest’s many trees and walked over to the girl. "My name is Salvantas, I am the guild master of Heroes Unlimited and I am here investigating the disappearance of the workers in this area, would you happen to know anything about it miss?"

The sudden breaking of the stillness startled Giselle. The man’s voice rang out like an alarm bell, shocking her to attention. “Um. No. No, I didn’t even know they’d disappeared until just now. I just wanted to know why the forest was so quiet. It’s not just the workers, the whole forest is empty. No beasts, no birds. I don’t know what’s going on but it’s creeping me out.”

“Tell me, have you been noticing any tracks since you started moving around the forest?” he motioned for her to follow him as he went back into the forest. “See these?” he pointed at a set of paw prints left in the dirt. “I believe they are wolf prints, more specifically a breed of timber wolves that call this area their home.”

“You know, I didn’t notice any tracks like that before... but I probably should have.” Giselle approached the paw prints. “They do look like wolf prints. And they look pretty recent.” She pointed at one indentation in particular. “This one is on top of a boot print. At a guess, I’d say the wolves were here more recently than the workers.”

“The strange thing is that this wasn’t an attack, there would be more blood and bodies left around, and timber wolf packs aren’t ever this big, and never this organized, they seem to have marched in sync with each other, which leads me to believe that the wolves might be under the control of some other creature.” He looked at her. “What are your thoughts?”

“My thoughts?” Giselle echoed. “My thoughts are that if there’s a pack of wolves being controlled by some malevolent presence, all our lives might be in danger. We have to do something about this.”

“Are you part of a guild?” he turned to her. “It is against my guilds code to allow a civilian into a fight of this size, even one that is as well armed as you.” He pulled out his guild card and showed her. “For authentication.”

“A-heh.” Giselle laughed nervously. “Well, I am in a guild, but it’s a little less formal than that. We don’t have membership cards. We barely have an organization. Really, it’s more a group of like-minded individuals who have each other’s backs.”

“I can relate, perhaps your group has a name, some sort of title you all go by that I might recognize” he smiled. “If it is something embarrassing I promise I won’t laugh at you, after all my guilds name is Heroes Unlimited, it doesn’t get more silly than that after al.l”

“I hear ya. We’re the PTA. It’s kind of like Parent Teacher Associations, but, you know, we try to take care of the community in the castle, instead of a community in a school. Get it?”

“Yes, it seems our goals are pretty much the same, so by the power given to me as guild leader I officially give you freedom of action during this mission and a share of whatever reward the city gives for completion of this quest.” He put his card away. “Ground rules, no killing, no attacking people for no reason, and saving the hostages comes before saving me if such a situation were to arise.”

“Okay, I can agree to that,” said Giselle. It felt strangely constricting, but also somewhat comforting, having rules to adhere to for once.

“If all goes well look me up in the city, I need people like you on my squad, but enough talk for now, I am not much of a tracker, how about you?”

“Well. It’s not my forte, but...” Giselle held up her parchment with the crystal clipped onto it, and examined it for a moment. “I think there’s a trail here, leading where the paw prints are going. We can try following it, and see if we find anything interesting.”

“Right, you lead the way, I will watch your back.” He pulled out two kunai from his jacket and let them rest easily in his hands. “If it breaks into a fight, I want you to focus on hostage rescue, I will handle the wolves and such until you can get back to assist me.”

“...Sure thing, boss.” Giselle said with a smirk, and began following the trail she saw on her map. At first the paw prints were abundant, and it was clearly the correct direction, but after a while the tracks were fewer and further between. Presumably the soil was getting harder. The path itself was small and narrow, and if Giselle didn’t have her map to show her that it was there, she would have dismissed it as a fluke of the forest terrain.

Salvantas walked with his eyes closed, listening to every movement of the forest. “It is amazing how silent it is, whatever is bringing the wolf packs together must not know how to control them, they probably over hunted and ran every species out of here in a matter of days, if we don’t stop this soon the wolves will starve to death.”

“Forget the wolves. The town will starve to death. They’ll start going after the domestic animals next, mark my words.”

“Then it is a good thing we are here to stop whatever is doing this, wait,” he stopped for a second. “Close your eyes and listen carefully, do you hear a howl a bit to the north?”

Giselle did as he said. “Hey... I think I can.” She looked at her map. “That’s slightly off the trail... it might bend and take us there. Do you want to keep following it, or go after the sound?”

“I will handle the sounds, where there are wolves there will be whoever is causing this. Get the workers to safety first, come back for me afterward, or take out the leader, whichever one looks like the best possibility by the end.”

“Gotcha. Just... if you get in trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I don’t want you to die just because you had your heart set on being a hero.”

“Trust me, I am no hero.” He turned and moved through the forest toward where he had heard the howls. He hurried to the area and saw about thirty wolves gathered around a tree stump that happened to have an extremely pleased looking Kobold on it.

Ha it seems you fell into my trap to lead you into a forest full of wolves and make them all attack you at once when you were standing in front of me! the small creature aimed a hand at him.

“Um, yeah, good plan, but why didn’t you just have your wolves ambush me when I had no idea you were waiting to trap me?” Salvantas looked at the creature confused. Hadn’t he and Blank and that one nice girl he had teamed with sent these things packing?

Um, because reasons, but now that you are here I will take revenge for my people by having my wolves kill you and your pathetic monkey men who tried to cut down my forest, go furry ones, inform your five brothers to kill the monkey men. A number of the wolves broke away from the pack and made to run out of the clearing Salvantas had wandered into before being stopped by a number of throwing knives suddenly hitting the ground in front of them. They turned and growled.

Salvantas and pulled out eight knives and kept them between his fingers. “No one dies today, not a single one of your wolves will leave this clearing so long as I am alive”

Then they will kill you. The Kobold motioned for the wolves to attack him and all thirty of them formed a circle around the Salvantas.

“Well Blank, if this is the end for us, lets make it memorable.” He reached into his trench and pulled out a mass of throwing needles. “Come at me!”

The wolves charged him and he dodged out of the way of the first attempts to pounce on him by rolling to the side and throwing a handful of needles along the wolves legs sending them tumbling down to the ground unable to stand up. “Oh don’t worry, once small and ugly is taken care of I will remove those for you guys, but I can’t have you kill me you know.” He smiled as they all rushed him at once. He dodged and got in strikes where he could, but eventually.

One of the wolves jumped at him and snapped its maw around Salvantas' arm and dragged him down to the ground with a tight grip on it. More of the wolves surrounded him getting ready for the killing blow. Hey Blank, I don’t know if you can hear me, but I don’t think I am making it out of this one, but I think we had a good run, we managed to give our lives to save an entire group of innocents, can’t ask for something better than that right?

***

Giselle followed the trail until her map showed a structure straight ahead. As good a place as any to keep the lumberjacks, she reasoned, and hurried forward... completely passing where the room was supposed to be. Confused, she backtracked, and found herself standing in a perfectly ordinary-looking section of the forest, where the map insistently showed a definite room of some kind.

“Okay,” she spoke aloud, trying to alleviate the once again deafening silence, “I should be standing right in the middle of this place...” she looked around again, “but there’s nothinghere!” She began wondering if her magical crystal was defective, but her thoughts were interrupted by an indistinct sound. “What was that?” She called out, moving in the direction she’d heard it from. It had been quiet, and if it weren’t for the silence she’d gotten used to, it probably wouldn’t have caught her attention at all.

As she moved towards the source of the sound, she heard another one, this time resembling a voice. She thought she could just about make out the word “help.”

Then, she saw the entrance, a hole in the ground. The structure wasn’t around her; it was beneath her. She lay on the ground and poked her head into the hole, and if she’d been standing then she would have been knocked over by the cheer that rose up to meet her.

In a crudely carved underground chamber, twenty or so men were bound and sitting along the walls. They were all reasonably large and strong-looking, and based merely on appearances, Giselle would have assumed any one of them could hold their own in a fight. If they worked as lumberjacks, though, they probably lacked the training to really be adept fighters, which might explain how they had all been captured like this.

“What happened?” She asked.

The men all looked at each other, arriving at some unspoken agreement regarding who would be their representative. Finally one of them, a man with a beard that had just a hint of grey to it, addressed her. “We were attacked by wolves. They surrounded us. I couldn’t count them, there were so many. But they didn’t kill us... or even hurt us that much. They just dragged us over here, and dumped us into the ground. I’d never seen wolves act like that. I’ve worked in forests for my entire life, and I’ve seen a fair number of them, but they’ve always shied away from humans.”

“The wolves weren’t acting of their own accord.” A younger man chimed in. Giselle had to strain to see him - he was located on the same side of the chamber that she was leaning in from. “There was someone leading them on. I saw him. He looked like one of those lizard-things that attacked us back on the first floor.”

“A Kobold?” Giselle interjected. “I thought they’d all been run out of town.... You guys do know that we’re living in their old territory now, right? If one of them is still hanging around... I’d say he has good reason to be pissed off. Anyway.” She stood up and brushed herself off. “Let’s get you all out of that hole, all right?”

That’s when a wolf bounded out of the trees jumped at her. It would have pinned her to the ground, but again, the oppressive silence had made the sound of the wolf’s approach stand out, and she stepped to the side, drew her bow and trained it on the beast. She fired, but her aim was off, because another one jumped toward her at the same time.

Abandoning her attack, Giselle scurried up a tree, higher than she hoped the wolves would be able to climb. At least up here I can reach them and they can’t reach me...

Two more arrows and she was able to finish off the wolf that had first attacked her, but by then two more wolves had turned up and they’d formed a circle around her tree. “How many of you are there?” She asked, and as if in answer, a fifth wolf turned up and placed itself between her and the underground chamber entrance, growling.

Giselle sighed, took aim, and managed to off that wolf with a single shot. Feeling reasonably proud of herself, she turned to deal with the wolves who were closer to her... only to see one of them startlingly close, leaping through the air at her branch.

The wolf didn’t reach her, but impacted with the tree, causing it to shake hard enough that Giselle lost her footing and had to hold on to avoid falling. Another wolf leapt, causing another impact. With this going on, Giselle wouldn’t be able to use her bow. She could barely get one hand free, let alone two. If only there was... wait.

Carefully, holding on dearly with one hand, she returned her bow to its place, and instead pulled out a small dagger. When the next wolf flew through the air in approach, she tossed it with the strength she could spare. Throwing knives wasn’t something she was skilled in, so it didn’t do much damage, but the wolf did yelp in pain, and after hitting the tree it hit the ground hard, missing its landing. Giselle took the opportunity and leapt out of the tree, grabbing her dagger from where it had landed and driving it into the wolf that now leapt at her. Its teeth connected with her left arm, but before it could do any irreparable damage she had slit its throat and it landed on top of its injured comrade.

So of those three, one’s injured, one’s nearly dead, and the other - Giselle’s thoughts were interrupted as she ducked under the third wolf. She couldn’t afford to risk using a dagger again; she was too inexperienced and her position was worse than before. Instead she returned to her bow, firing arrows rapidly rather than accurately, barely buying time as each shot caused the wolf to flinch just long enough for her to loose the next one. Meanwhile, the injured wolf worked its way out from under the dying one, and began approaching, albeit unsteadily.

There wasn’t time to climb another tree. There was only time to fire arrows and hope. Giselle kept backing up, barely maintaining the distance between her and the wolves... and then she tried to put her foot where there was no ground. She’d reached the chamber entrance. But that’s not actually a problem... that’s the solution!

She changed her angle and continued backing off, firing arrows less frequently now, watching her steps, until she had the wolves on the opposite side of the hole. Here she picked up her attack, shooting quickly and furiously, goading the wolves forward, and forward they came, not looking where they were going... and they fell straight into the pit.

While they lay on the chamber floor, momentarily incapacitated by the fall, Giselle took the time to set up killing shots for each of them. “Sorry about that, guys,” she called down to the lumberjacks. “That must have been startling for you. Hang on a moment and I’ll be down there to help.”

She pulled some rope out of her knapsack and tied it to a tree next to the pit, then let the rest of it into the hole and climbed down. The lumberjacks were bound with rope that was thicker but more frayed than Giselle’s and she soon had one of them free, with the help of a dagger. “Here, you take this.” She handed the other dagger to the first lumberjack, and together they set about cutting all of their bindings. A few had been bound particularly tightly, and had sores on their wrists where the rope had pressed into their skin.

“Can you all climb?” She asked, and they all responded in the affirmative, though she suspected some of that may have just been pride.

As it turns out, some of them did require help to ascend the rope and get to freedom, but there were others who still had strength enough to provide that help, so it worked out.

Giselle removed the crystal from the map it had been forming, and handed it to the lumberjack with the beard who seemed to be in charge of them. “This shows the trail that leads to the lumberyard. I trust you can find your way back into town from there?”

He nodded. “Of course.”

“Good. Take everyone and get them home. I need to catch up with someone. Either he’s already taken care of the Kobold who’s causing all the trouble, or he’s gonna need my help.”

The lumberjacks gave their thanks and moved off in the direction of safety. Giselle attached the crystal to another piece of parchment, but she didn’t bother looking at it this time. Instead she ran off in the direction the wolf howls had come from before, hoping that when she got there that young man would still be in one piece.

***

Salvantas looked up as the pack's Alpha got above him and prepared to make the kill for his pack. “Well, are you going to keep me waiting all day or are you going to kill me fleabag.”

“Oh, great,” Giselle said to herself as she found the main wolf pack. The young man was in one piece, but it looked like he wouldn’t be for long. Well, at least she could do something about that. She held her bow carefully, adjusting the shot just right, and let go. The wolf that was about to take a bite out of her new friend was caught right in the neck. It survived, but was knocked back by the impact and the injury.

The other wolves reformed their circle and Salvantas looked at the wolf. Looks like she came back after all. He slowly stood up and looked down at himself before he could stop himself. His entire body was covered in bite marks and scars, all of which were...

Shit

A wolf jumped at him testing its luck and he caught it in mid jump and snapped its neck with one quick motion. He tossed the dead body to the ground and began to dig his boot into it. “I will kill anything in my way” Blank said in his normal emotionless way. “Archer, you have free reign to kill all those that stand in our way, this wolf population will need to thin if the animals are to come back after all.”

“All right,” Giselle said, “can do. But there’s no way I can take out all of these wolves before they kill us. If we’re gonna do any good, we have to take out that Kobold.” She noticed a significant change in the man’s demeanor, but didn’t think it was worth mentioning. Some people handle battle conditions differently than standard conditions, after all.

“Killing some will distract others, weakening the control that creature has, when his control is weak enough I will break through and take care of it, if I must explain all my plans to you we will be dead before you fire another arrow.” the wolves began to split to send some of their pack after her. But with their leader dead and their once prey fighting back in such a manner they were less sure of themselves.

“Don’t explain, just act!” Giselle shouted, sending off an arrow into the group of wolves that now advanced towards her. She could have explained herself more, but it would have wasted time and, presumably, annoyed him further. Instead she kept firing, focusing on the weakest targets first, trying to rack up as many kills as she could.

The wolves saw their friends dying and became frozen with fear, giving Blank all he needed. He charged through the wolves line and onto the stump with the Kobold. “Remember me?” He grabbed the small creature by its scrawny neck and lifted it to eye level with him. “I wonder how long you can go without air before you die.” He kept his grip tight on the Kobold and the wolves broke free of the spell running off from the fight with their tails between their legs. Blank kept his grip for a bit and then sighed. “Not quite as fun as the other one” he gave one final squeeze and broke the creatures neck letting it fall to the ground.

Giselle was readying another arrow when the young man bounded onto the Kobold’s platform. She hesitated for a moment, which could have meant death, but she was hoping that the wolves would break away once their master lost control. As it turns out, she was lucky. Within moments, the Kobold had been strangled, and the wolves ceased their attack. The sounds of whimpers led off through the forest as they ran out to their old territories, fewer in number and less cohesive than they had been before.
Blank stomped down once on the creatures head to make sure it was dead and closed his eyes to allow Salvantas personality to take hold once more. “Damn it,” he whispered under his breath. He walked over to the Alpha wolf and pulled out the arrow and began to go to work sewing the wound closed. “You did well, thank you for your assistance.”

“No problem.” Giselle walked over to him. “By the way, I don’t think we introduced ourselves. My name’s Giselle.”

“My name is Salvantas, it has been a pleasure to meet you, by the way” he pulled out a small scroll and handed it to her. “You are the one who saved the woodcutters, this mission and whatever reward was offered is yours by all rights.”

She grabbed the scroll Salvantas had proffered. “Whoah. There’s a reward? I had no idea. I just figured I’d be in better shape if I lived in a town where the lumberjacks weren’t tied up in a cave somewhere. This is great!” She pumped a fist into the air in a gesture of triumph. “But, I mean, it’s not like you didn’t help at all. I mean, if you hadn’t been here distracted most of the wolves... I don’t think I would’ve been able to get those lumberjacks to safety.”

“My reward is the knowledge that the families of those lumberjacks get to see their loved ones again, and that the city is a little safer, that is the point of Heroes Unlimited, doing what it takes to help those who can’t help themselves.” He patted the wolf and stood up.

“Okay then. If you don’t want credit I’ll gladly assume it all myself. Always good to score some points with the general public.” She put the scroll away. “It’s been a pleasure working with you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you in the future.”

“You as well, and if you ever want it, I am sure there is a position for you on my guild, we need more honest people like you, and the fact you are an amazing shot with that bow helps as well.” he began to gather the bodies that had fallen. He couldn’t bury them, but he could cremate them at least. “Until next time.”
Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after.
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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby AMimsyBorogove on Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:12 pm

09 -Think of the Bookworms!-

-[Seire]-

The thief's flowing coat swept out like a radiant cloud in his wake as he strode purposefully up the mountain road, his footfalls ringing out through the silence of the afternoon in an irregular chorus with the sounds of over a dozen other pairs of marching feet. The sounds of voices, too, rang out all around him, their gruff cadences echoing over the mountain road, several volumes louder than was necessary. Seire didn't mind the noise, though. After all, those voices belonged to his new comrades, brethren he already knew quite well and trusted to fight by his side.

It was doubtless rather remarkable, from the point of view of an outsider, that Seire had so quickly become cemented amongst his men as their leader despite the fact that he'd only just taken over their group, and in a mutiny, no less. And yet, even though he was a newcomer to what had now become known as the PTA, an unparalleled association of lowlifes, pickpockets, burglars, spies, information brokers, bandits, and thieves, it could not be denied that he had already earned the respect of the large part of his dishonest yet merry band. Well, it was to be expected. Even discounting the thief's overwhelming charisma and generosity with his employees paychecks, it was hard to watch a man do a double backflip down the side of a three story structure while everything around him burns, or to behold a lone warrior staring down a small army of his enemies, making them surrender to him, without coming to have a certain respect for that individual. To his men, Seire was a figure that seemed larger than life. The Phantom Thief was a man among men, whose dynamic yet carefree manner, and his noble yet devious nature, made him seem more like the stuff of legends than an actual living, breathing individual. Even those amidst his band who disliked him had to admit, however reluctantly, that he got things done, and that the guild was definitely better under his leadership than it had been under their last commander, whose disgraceful fall had made it hard to sympathize with anyone but the one who had finally taken him down. After Seire had taken over leadership, the thieves who had agreed to follow him had found themselves generously rewarded, each man getting his choice of weapon from the arsenal as well as his own personal cut of the profits from the sales the Phantom Thief had done immediately after taking charge. Furthermore, the thieves now also found their trade much easier to ply, for even though the guards were now much better equipped thanks to Seire's efforts, they seemed entirely unaware of the small band of men in the fortress outside of town, and of their occasional dubious doings amidst the city. When stall owners found food or supplies missing from their wares, or when inns found their ale cellars inexplicably emptied overnight, the guards never once pressed their authority to search the arsenal, nor had they ever arrested a member of the PTA so long as they stayed within the limits Seire had set for them, never causing major issues or bringing harm to the people of the tower. After all, those were their allies, were they not?

And so, the thieves feasted like kings, and continued delving together into the far reaches of the tower, in the name of glory and profit. To the surprise of most who distrusted the guild of thieves - with good reason - they had even appeared to offer assistance after the Kobold invasion, donating some of the arsenal's supply of healing potions to the humanitarian efforts of the church, and offering their services to help with the reconstruction of the destroyed parts of the city. Of course, certain valuables had vanished from the rubble, but to the further astonishment of the public, the PTA offered to search out specific items in exchange for a small fee for each job, and, pooling their finds, returned the large part of their stolen goods to their owners, gaining a hefty sum in profits from their semi-honest labor. The thieves had, at first, been reluctant to follow Seire's more selfless tendencies, but they soon came to accept his strategies wholeheartedly, for with his shrewd business sense, he managed to reap considerable profits even as he built trust in his guild amidst the public.

And yet, not all of the thieves who had seen Seire's triumph felt the same way as his more devoted followers. Like in any other walk of life, there were exceptions to the general manner of reverence and respect towards the man who was now renowned as the King of Thieves. And, those who felt this distaste towards the idealistic and energetic young man who had recently made himself known amidst the less noble circles of the castle's society did not hesitate to make their dislike plain to see. Foremost among these dissidents were the remnants of the old warehouse guard who had refused to join Seire, and who he had allowed to go in peace, but at the price of their weapons and money. Well, for those who didn't rely on such things to get what they needed, it wasn't difficult to get arms through less-than-legal means, and to go back into business as they once had. This ignoble force, numbering a little over a dozen, had united under a new leader, a certain swashbuckler, former pirate, and amateur magus known as Zessirian Reagal, better known to his men as "Black Zess." Seeking to regain their lost renown and, more importantly, to profit, they had decided to undermine the efforts of their more successful comrades, stealing, raiding, pillaging, and otherwise making a bother of themselves. Naturally, the suspicious public had begun to blame the PTA for these infractions, and even the guards, who should have been in Seire's pocket, were beginning to feel obligated to act against him for crimes he hadn't committed.

Well, Seire didn't particularly like being framed. He'd been accused of crimes before, but at least those were ones he'd actually committed. So, in order to clear his name and to maintain his reputation, he had decided to act personally to end the threat to his good name. Apparently, Black Zess and his crew were holed up in some kind of tower that had recently been discovered, a library containing valuable tomes of magic as well as maps and information relating to the castle itself. The oafs had apparently taken this place over, and were preventing its knowledge from being utilized effectively, which just served to hinder progress into the upper floors, only further serving to annoy Seire. And so, he and his similarly indignant band of chosen companions now traversed the wild road to the library, the towering spire of which was already visible before them. Tearing the lock from the tall, barred gates of what had probably once been some kind of garden or courtyard, the thieves entered without bothering to conceal themselves. Instantly, according to their plan, they spread out, surrounding the base of the tower completely, while two chosen guards set about picking the lock on the door, and their commander waited right behind them to enter. The PTA operatives' strategy was simple enough - open the door, go in, and show the wannabes their place. This last duty fell largely to Seire, while his men would back him up by cutting off stragglers trying to escape from the tower. The largely inexperienced brawlers didn't like the prospect of having to face a mage, especially after seeing the damage that just one Kobold with the power of magic had managed to wreck on the city. Besides, they had enough faith in their rough and ready commander to know that he was the best man for the job.

Things were going well until a shouting voice from behind him broke the King of Thieves out of his reverie, and he turned casually to search for the source of this unwanted interruption. Well, it wasn't exactly hard to place where the voice had come from, for standing at the very center of the courtyard, a sword and a simple wooden shield held at the ready as he smiled confidently, was a young man, who called out his challenge once again, dispelling all of Seire's rising suspicions that he was some kind of sentry for Black Zess' group.

"HEY! I heard you lot were causing trouble for the good scholars of this tower! Now, I, Morionem, have come to bring justice to you! Which one of you is the leader!? Step forth, so that I might smite you!" He declared, stumbling over several of the bigger words as he spoke, somewhat ruining the effect of his otherwise rather bold claims and threats. So, this was a innocent, clueless, would-be hero who had come for the same reasons they had? Well, Seire supposed, extra help was always nice. Yes, he could already tell that this one would probably be really easy to convince, too!

"Ah, yes, that would be me!" The tall thief said, smiling cheerfully as he withdrew his hand from his oversized pocket, waving in a friendly manner to the new arrival. "But you see, I'm afraid you've got the wrong thieves. The ones you're looking for are in there. If you want to have a go at them, be my guest, although you'll have to wait your turn, for as I am sure it is quite obvious, we got here first."

-[Morionem]-

The search for adventure! Wherever a true hero walks evil stands on his path. Then he must overcome walls that stop his and others' progress. And because of that Morionem had left the city, in search of killable demons and damsels in distress. He was amidst the wild forest of emerald green bushes, and trees taller than houses. He was at the edge of mountains whose peaks ripped the sky and its amorphous clouds. In the savagery of nature, close to the feral monsters and hidden evil-doers. And then, the expected: a ruckus from the chaotic entanglement of vegetation. This was it. The time and moment Morionem was looking for. Cloaked humanoid shapes rose running from the trail which lead further and further on the ridge, in a panicked state. "An adventurer! May you help us?"

"Oh, coolio, new friends! Yay! Yes, sir. What have happened to you?" He asked, as four men walked from the path which lead to the mountains. The one who had spoken to him was of average height, had short brown hair and green eyes.

"You see, we are scholars." He said. "I'm a cartographer and geologist. My friends over here are:" He pointed to a tall, thin men who wore a green robe. "A wizard and-"

"So he can casts spells?" Asked Morionem.

"No, no, he only studies the theory of magic and magical artifacts. Actually he has an antique store but... That's not important. This one:" The scholar pointed to the shortest of the group, who wore large round glasses and adventurer's clothes. "Is a biologist, an ornithologist, botanist and amateur explorer."

"So he is an adventurer?" Morionem asked excited.

"No, no..." He said, slightly annoyed, as if he had heard that question one thousand times. "He only explores, and hires guards to help him in his expeditions. Which brought us to our current problem, but nonetheless, my last friend:" He pointed to a bald man who wore white and red robes, dirty from the walk on the woods. "He's a monk, studies of martial arts and relaxment techniques, among other fields of study."

"Cool! So he can fight?"

"Yes, actually. He even knocked out one of the criminals who tricked us."

"Criminals?" Morionem asked curiously.

"Yes." Said the wizard, with a deep voice. "Thegal discovered this ancient tower last week, after he got lost in the forest. It was also a library, a garden and an observatory, so it was indeed amazing. We packed up today's morning after hiring a group of adventurers to help us find it again, but it turned out those 'adventurers' were actually bandits. We tried to run away and succeeded thanks to Mathew."

Morionem, however, stopped listening after Thegal. "Thegal. Thegal. Theeeee. Gaaaaaaal. Theeeeegaaaaaaal. Thegal. Thegal! Thagal? Thaaaaaageeeeeeel. Thegal. Thegal! Thegal! Theeeeegaaaaaaal. What kind of name is that?! Oh wait, he just finished talking something. I hope it isn't important."

"Once again, I'm sorry." Said the short man, who Morionem supposed was Thegal.

"No need to be. You couldn't have known they were criminals." Said the geologist.

"Okay then..." Said Morionem. "So you want me to go there and beat them up?"

"Well, if it isn't too hard for you to do... At least make sure they don't run away while we call the police, or at least get some help." The mage said.

"Don't worry, I can't take them!" Morionem replied, as he drew his sword and shield and started running towards the mountain.

"Wait a minute, you don't know where to go!" Thegal said.

"Uh... I... Don't worry! I'll follow your footsteps." He answered and ran out of their sight.

-[...]-

"Hey! I heard you lot were causing trouble for the good scholars of this tower! Now, I, Morionem, have come to... Bring justice to you! Which one of you is the leader!? Step forth, so that I might smite you!" He thought, as he stopped from his walk. "Now it is perfect! Whoa, it took so much time for me to think of it... I'm proud of myself now, yay!" Morionem turned once again to face the trail. He had been walking backwards so he could understand where the scholars had came from. A few times he accidentally started going back from where he came. "Oh, wait a second, I could stumble once again." He turned one more time to look at the path in front of him, and he saw a high tower in a glade, surrounded by a small garden. A group of people surrounded the tower. "Okay this is it." He coughed, and then spoke: "HEY! I heard you lot were causing trouble for the good scholars of this tower! Now, I, Morionem, have come to bring... Justice! To you! Which one of you is the leader!? Step forth, so that I might... Smite! You!"

"Ah, yes, that would be me!" A tall man said, while he smiled cheerfully and withdrew his hand from his oversized pocket, waving friendly...ly... was that a word? "But you see, I'm afraid you've got the wrong thieves. The ones you're looking for are in there. If you want to have a go at them, be my guest, although you'll have to wait your turn, for as I am sure it is quite obvious, we got here first."

"And who would you be? How can I be sure you aren't thieves?"

"But we ARE thieves!" He spoke, as he laughed loudly. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Seire Valefar, renowned Phantom Thief and leader of the PTA."

"Wait... What...?" Morionem replied, confused. "Wait, weren't you the guy who donated potions of the church?"

"Yes, that would be me."

"But why?"

"To help the innocents displaced by the invasion recover from their losses, of course. You see, I happen to love people. Think about it! Each person has his or her own strengths, weaknesses, quirks, intricacies, and secrets. Human beings are the most interesting creatures one could ever hope to find. With such a diverse and incredible species to watch, a guy like me could never possibly get bored! It's because Humans are so interesting that I do everything I do. I want to see people prosper, so I take away their limits and render the powers that hold them down impotent. That way, I can see the full potential of our interesting race." Seire explained with a smirk. Morionem, on the other hand, only got more confused and startled, to the point he put his sword back in its scabbard, but not his shield. Seire smiled at this also. "Well, at any rate, it seems you understand now. The reason that both of us are here is the same. Speaking of which, though, I guess I have some 'powers holding people down' to 'render impotent.'"

"No, wait!" The thief turned to see what the swordman wanted. "I want to beat up those guys too!"

"Well, then, my friend, you happen to be in luck. I have a plan, and you just might be able to help me!" He answered with bombastic excitement.

-[Seire]-

"Good afternoon, everyone!" The thief called into the tower, punctuating his greeting by cheerfully kicking open the door into the library and strolling in, his hands in his pockets. "Oh? What's this? Is nobody home? That's unfortunate." He grinned, looking all around him as he walked purposefully into the center of the room. The bottom floor of the library tower was largely taken up by rows upon rows of shelves, but, clearing these, he found himself standing in a wide, open circle at the very middle of the tower. Looking up, he whistled with approval, for all above him were countless stacks of books lining the walls, with stairs leading up floor by floor to reach them and countless catwalks and seemingly random staircases crisscrossing between these floors wildly. It was like looking up at a spider's web, silhouetted by the light streaming in through the domed windows at the very top of the tall tower.

But, that wasn't exactly important right now. What was important was the fact that several shapes were advancing from where they'd hidden within the darkness, emerging from the stacks and appearing all around the lone thief, their weapons in hand. Yes... Seire recognized those armaments in an instant. There was only place that such old yet pristine military-grade blades could be found in this castle.

"I guess you're home after all. Good. Then perhaps we can have a little-" Seire's words abruptly cut off, and in an instant, he suddenly swept his sword and sheathe up from his belt, whipping the latter up backhanded just in time to intercept a thin metal blade flashing at him out of the darkness. The dagger clattered to the ground as a loud crack resounded through the tower, and a hooded figure in the darkness stumbled back, clutching his wrist and crying out in pain. "-Chat." The thief finished calmly, slowly drawing forth the glistening black and white saber he so cherished.

Ah, this was going to be fun! Everything was going perfectly. The enemies were trapped like rats, and he'd even gotten the assistance of that random swordsman boy to help him with cleanup. Already, everything was advancing straight towards the most favorable outcome he had forecast. This was almost too easy. That boy had really bought into the whole "hero" routine so quickly that it was almost boring. Granted, Seire had never actually told a lie. Humans were so very interesting, and more than anything else, he wanted all people he came across to reach their potential. Human life was valuable, and was not something to be wasted. That was why he always lent a helping hand, to help guide others towards their maximum capacity for independence and accomplishment, and towards the great successes Seire so loved to watch unfold. But, at the same time, his ideals held a flipside to them. He wanted to see his men reach their potential, too, and wanted to reach his potential himself. His comrades were even more important to him than the rest of Humanity, and he would ensure their survival and profit, even if it meant briefly worsening another life to save those of his friends. By leaving out this important detail, he could make himself look like quite the hero. But the truth was...

I love Humans. But I especially love my comrades, and myself. Those unfortunates who happen to fall into the same boat as me are my problem, to protect and work alongside as I see fit. They are my brothers, and even more so than innocent people who already have what they need, I want to see them prosper. That's how it's always been, ever since that day. The only differences between then and now are that I've realized how interesting the whole Human race is, even outside my domain of operation, and that I no longer distinguish my brothers between either friends or enemies!

-[Morionem]-

After some time, Morionem managed to climb his way up to the top of the tower with relative ease. Well, asides from the wind, he hadn't much trouble with the rope. A bit different from climbing up trees, but whenever he needed he had only to use the space between the stone bricks which composed the tower and he was done for. Luckily the tower wasn't that tall, maybe 20 meters tall? He wasn't good with measurements. Morionem entered by jumping over a simple fence made of metal, into a balcony of sorts, where a huge steel and glass device stood. "Hm.. What could this be?" Upon close inspection, he noticed it was actually a telescope, but bigger than any other Morionem had seen in the past. It was also stuck to the floor, in a circular platform, which limited its movements, though the part it couldn't really point to was taken by the tower, so it wasn't so much of a difference. He walked around it and noticed it also had a built-in chair. Morionem sit on it, and looked through the telescope. It pointed further into the mountains, in the opposite direction of the city. At first he didn't saw anything worth of interest, but then he noticed a small waterfall, and a river flowing out of it. "Wait a second, there are no rivers crossing the town nor the forest, where does that water go to? It can't go up, it can only flow down..." Morionem thought confusedly. He noticed a counter in the equipment, and it changed when he moved the telescope around. He didn't know what that was, so he just left the telescope quiet. "I have a mission. I must not distract myself."

Walking away from the balcony, he noticed a few tables around, together with a mattress covered with a bed sheet and a pillow. The swordsman decided to take a better look at the tables. They were covered in books and miscellaneous objects, ranging from a magical talisman to a small amount of clockwork gears, presumably detached from a small clock. There was a notebook which read: "Important," aside from a few numbers written in and some red stains which covered even the table itself. "Wait, aren't these the numbers which were on the counter? No Morionem! Attention to your mission! Go! Go! Go!"

He walked away from the place he entered in, and kept walking through the corridor on his right, as he had just left the balcony. There also were a few red stains on the black and white tiles of granite, disposed in a checkered pattern. The walls on Morionem's right side were made of white marble, while to his left side all he had was a golden fence, which stopped anyone from falling to death at the bottom of the tower. The pinnacle was a dome, as usual. That kind of pinnacle seems to be a fad among architects, Morionem thought. Although this library was different from the church as the glass on the dome was transparent, and not stained glass.

Halfway through the circular catwalk, the walls were thinner, giving away more space on the corridor, which was filled with vases full of whitering plants. A few pipes could be seen connecting to the vases and the walls. "Man, what happened to these plants. They have all the sun they could get... Maybe they are thirsty? That's a pity." He thought, as he walked forwards.

Once he got to the opposite side from where he had entered, there was a small, dried out fountain, with a bronze statue of two men. One of them was dressed in full armor, but held his helmet on his right hand while his left one was over the old man's shoulder. The warrior had long hair, and the other carried a staff and a pointy hat. "Wonder who these two are. Oh wait, there's a sign!" The rusty metal sign at the bottom of the statue read:

Sign wrote:Let it be regist█red here that this tower stands as a libr██y, workplace and h███ for my ██st fr██nd and m██t█r: █e██, with ███ I have █plore█ t█ beyon█ ██ sk█s, ██d █ar dow█ ██e e█rt█ ~ A█hu█


The bottom of the sign was rusted, probably because of the water of the fountain it was in, even though there must have been ages since water stopped flowing through the tower. Morionem then walked down the stairs which linked the area in front of the fountain to the floor under. Looking at the bottom of the tower, he could see many catwalks and stairs, randomly linking floors to one above or under. As he walked down, he heard sounds of metal clashing and heavy, blunt wooden objects falling to the ground. "Oh crap! The fight must have started! Better run!"

-[Seire]-

"Hahahaha..." Seire chuckled, sidestepping a clumsy sweep from a broadsword, whose inexperienced wielder seemed to think it was a club rather than a bladed weapon. With a casual strike of his own keen-edged blade, the thief twisted the enemy's weapon aside, using his foe's own momentum to vastly overextend the inexperienced fighter, sending him stumbling right past Seire, only to be picked up off his feet and sent rolling back as the thief brought up his back foot to meet his unfortunate enemy, delivering a staggering roundhouse that hurled the young thug right into one of his own allies, toppling both into a confused, dazed heap.

Continuing his rotation, Seire planted his raised foot on the ground once more, using this to pivot himself, following through on his initial parry to twist right into a diagonal upward strike with his blade, aimed precisely to connect with the upraised blade of another enemy sneaking up behind him, sending this man's longsword flying from his hands, exposing him just in time for Seire to bring up his back hand, which, still holding onto the sheathe of his own blade, dealt a powerful bash with this wooden scabbard, striking the man in the temple and knocking him to the ground.

"Is that the best you punks have got?!" Seire called provocatively into the darkness, prompting another of the thugs to give a cry of rage, leaping forth from the shadows and bringing down a large halberd upon Seire from the side. The thief, however, was much faster than this young brawler expected, and in an instant, he found the head of his polearm severed cleanly from its haft by a precise strike from his enemy, who swiftly followed this up by ramming the end of his scabbard into the thug's gut, sending him collapsing to the floor to join his fallen comrades.

"Come on! Step it up! I'm starting to get bored!" The thief laughed confidently. His initial estimate had been right. This really was too easy. His enemies were mere street punks, easier to read than the books filling the library all around him. He hadn't really expected much, but the way his enemies were wasting their potential by not pressing the advantages they had... it was very disappointing. Better fix that at once.

"I thought you guys were hell-bent on getting your revenge on me?" Seire called cheerfully, sidestepping a sudden blow from behind and casually slamming the pommel of his sword into the assailant's face without even turning to look at him. "Well? I'm right here! What's keeping you? Are you scared, or something?"

"Shut the hell up, you cocky bastard!" This cry came from the right side, now, and the thief turned to find several men charging at him from the same direction. They seemed more coordinated than the last bunch, at the very least. The lead enemy jabbed forward with a spear, forcing Seire to deflect it and sidestep, only to be intercepted by another foe with a falchion, while a third sword-wielding enemy struck from the other side. The thief grinned, crossing his scabbard and his sword before him to intercept the two incoming blades, then abruptly uncrossing them, snapping them together like a pair of scissors to hook the swords, pulling them suddenly out of the hands of their wielders and dragging his surprised opponents off-balance, causing them to let go of their swords and stumble forward just in time to find Seire's scabbard rising once again to catch both of them in the gut, knocking them right on top of their spear-wielding ally.

"Now that's more like it!" Seire said approvingly, his grin broadening. "I was going to ask 'Are you men or not?' but I think I have my answer now. I guess you really do have some pride, at the very least. Even though you knew how outclassed you are, you still charged in anyway, trying to beat through strategy and tactics who you couldn't overwhelm through force. That's good." He smiled, sliding his scabbard back into his belt and lowering his blade to his side as he went on. "Then I just have one more question for you. What exactly is it that you're trying to become here?"

"What the hell are you babbling about?" This question was taken up by several other voices as the remaining half dozen or so thieves emerged from the darkness, pacing around the edge of the circle of fallen bodies now surrounding the white-clad man in the middle.

"I said... what are you trying to become?" He repeated. "Sure, you call yourselves thieves, right? But what exactly are you even stealing? My reputation? The librarians' time? It seems to me that you're just gathering here to drink, revel, and feel angry over what was taken from you, and what's the point in that? You're just wasting your time and your abilities by sitting here and doing nothing, content to just get by and to bring other people down to your own level instead of reaching up and trying to improve yourselves. And I do so hate to see people wasting their talents... That's why I'm here, you see?"

"So, you came alone into the middle of my group, trying to tell us that same, tired old story and recruit us, huh? Then answer me this: what's the point in overthrowing a double-crossing fool just to take on some headstrong idiot in his place? You might have earned yourself a reputation, but if anything, you seem more likely to get everyone under you killed one of these days than that over-cautious idiot ever did." This sudden voice rang out from above, drawing all eyes in the room to gaze up just in time to see a shape in scarlet-colored leather armor and a jet black cloak dropping softly into the light, landing a short distance from Seire and slowly rising to its feet. The man was tall, and powerfully built, holding a truly magnificent saber that Seire almost immediately recognized from experience - it wasn't that difficult, considering that a sapphire inlaid in the hilt was glowing with an aura that surrounded the entire blade - as a magical focus. This man could only be one person, then.

"Oh? You must be the leader I've heard so much about," Seire said coolly as his smirk broadened. It seemed things were finally getting interesting! "Black Zess, was it? I was hoping you'd show yourself. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Shall we negotiate, then, or would you prefer a more... active... method of resolving our little dispute?" His answer came immediately in the form of a sweeping blow aimed at his chest, forcing him to dart back, hopping over a fallen thug and landing a few feet away, grinning as he raised his own blade.

"The latter, then, I assume," The thief said cheerily. "Well, then, since you answered my question so promptly, allow me to address yours. Yes. The reason I've come here is to invite you all once more to join my guild. Your determination and individualistic resolve are admirable enough that I would very much enjoy working with you. However, your methods are ultimately pointless. The only thing you've managed to do is cause unnecessary trouble for both my guild and yourselves. But, at the same time, you've proven that you do have potential, and so I want to see exactly how great that potential is. If we continue this senseless bickering, we both only stand to lose from it in the end. But, if we join forces, then both your group and my own can profit immensely from the arrangement."

"Oh? Now you're speaking in a language I understand," The former pirate said, smirking as he leveled his saber. "Shame you didn't just talk in terms of cold, hard cash instead of all that idealistic garbage you spouted last time, or I might actually have been interested."

"And why aren't you interested now? With the arrangements I've made and with your own talents, an alliance still seems to me like the most favorable option for both of us."

"True, I suppose. However, know that I have no intention of surrendering my command to a person like you. Not without a fight at least. Still, you have guts, and I can respect that."

"I think I already know what you have in mind," Seire said, grinning at the prospect. "Let me guess: we fight without rules or limitations, winner takes all. If I win, your group will merge with Phantom Thieves Anonymous. If you win, I step down and hand over control of the whole guild to you. Is that what you had in mind?"

"For someone who acts as crazy as you do, you catch on pretty quickly," Black Zess said, grinning broadly. "So, shall I take that to mean that you accept my challenge?"

"Heh. Of course. Just who the hell do you think I am, anyway? I, Seire Valefar, never back down from the prospect of a good fight!"

"Then that's one thing we have in common! Let's see who's more worthy of controlling the largest guild in this castle, then! I hope you're prepared, King of Thieves!" With this roar, the pirate-turned-magus lunged forward, lancing upward with his saber, only to find it intercepted by a masterful parry from his enemy. Seire grinned, forcing up the enemy's blade and then hacking forward with his own, but he, too, missed his mark as Black Zess darted to the side, dropping into a crouch and flicking his wrist to bring his own sword back up towards his enemy's waist. Seire reacted instantly, twisting his own slash downward to bring his blade right into the path of the enemy's strike. Steel clashed against steel, and a resounding impact rang out throughout the vastness of the tower. To Seire's surprise, however, something was amiss. As he tried to twist his blade to break the clash, hoping to disarm his adversary, he found himself unable to disconnect his sword from that of his enemy. In an instant, he realized exactly why this was. Ice had suddenly crawled up the edge of his sword, freezing it and adhering it to Black Zess' saber. Seire raised an eyebrow at this, grinning slightly.

"Well, if you're just going to keep either of us from moving our swords, this is going to be a remarkably boring battle," He remarked cheerfully. His enemy only smirked.

"Who ever said I could only use my sword?" The pirate replied, giving the thief no time to realize his plan before he abruptly jabbed upward with his back hand, a glistening white object flashing in the light as a miniature lance of ice struck out towards Seire's head. Although he immediately raised his own back hand to intercept the blow, it was quite evident that the magically enhanced icicle would be able to pierce right through his arm, striking into his head and killing him regardless. His eyes widened in realization... and then promptly narrowed as, with a smirk, he flicked his wrist, and a small, gleaming object slid out of his sleeve and into his hand. Hooking it with two fingers, he snapped it apart, then collapsed it inward. Two gleaming blades caught the light as they abruptly carved precisely into the edges of the icicle, halting it in its tracks.

"I knew these things would be useful sooner or later!" Seire said cheerfully, snapping his scissors together and severing the tip of the icicle, then catching it once more with the scissors and dropping it into his mouth. He grinned as he casually crunched on the ice. "Ah! Refreshing!" He declared at last to the incredulous pirate, who, too surprised by the thief's unexpected deployment of an office utensil to deflect his attack, lost concentration on both of his spells, stepping quickly back as he realized Seire could move his sword again.

"What the hell...?" Zess muttered angrily, raising his saber in preparation to continue his attack, seeming most displeased by his enemy's secret weapon. Yet, he didn't let the unexpected appearance of Seire's scissors phase him, for, in the next instant, he had swept out his hand, releasing the fragment of ice he still held. Casting a spell of some sort or another, he caused this single, shattered icicle to expand, copying itself and forming a cloud of smaller icicles that shot outward in all directions. Seire raised an eyebrow as this storm of small projectiles then abruptly curved inward, forming a corridor of frigid blades, at one end of which stood the thief, while the pirate occupied the opposite. Snapping his fingers, Zess finished his spell, and instantly, all of these frozen knives began to fall in from either side towards the thief. Seire merely grinned. Did his enemy think he'd even be hit by a spell with such an obvious weak spot? Every one of those icicles was now targeting him. If he moved forward from where he was, they'd overshoot and miss him completely. What kind of idiot even invented a spell that could be avoided by standing directly in front of the caster, anyway? A nine year old kid?

Bracing himself, the thief bounded forward, raising his sword in front of him as he charged straight for the enemy. Sweeping his blade before him, he intercepted any of the frigid projectiles that seemed like they might actually hit him, at the same time locking blades with the magus, who swiftly twisted to the side, taking hold of his saber with both hands as he moved it out from beneath Seire's blade, causing the thief's sword to momentarily plunge downward, and allowing the pirate magus to slash upward at Seire's head once again. The thief, however, had expected as much, and had already begun to move, dodging to the other side and whipping his blade out horizontally, aiming to cut along the magus' hip. The pirate was just as quick, however, and in an instant had terminated his own attack, instead bringing his blade sideways to intercept the thief's counterattack. Once more their blades met, a flash of cold light spreading across the blade of the saber as it struggled to overcome the thief's unyielding sword. Seire at last leaped away, landing in a crouch just as his enemy used his built up force to slash in his wake. And yet, the pirate magus' cold saber cut only empty air, sweeping over the thief's head as he rose upward, cutting up from the opposite side as his enemy's blade, only to meet the returning saber as Zess brought it back to defend himself, batting Seire's katana aside and then lunging forward while the thief recovered from the impact, stabbing at his eye. Seire twisted his head to the side not a moment too soon, only barely managing to save himself from a fatal wound as the enemy's blade instead merely scratched across his cheek while he swiftly stepped in to avoid being decapitated by his enemy's extended sword, bringing up both his katana and his scissors. The former slashed in at his target's waist, while he stabbed the latter, held in his left hand, at the enemy's right shoulder. The pirate would have to take either one blow or the other no matter what he did, so predictably, he stepped into the incoming scissors, buying himself enough time to cut downward with his blade, knocking Seire's sword off course and saving himself from bisection. Even still, as the thief drew back, his dropped scissors clattered to the floor with blood staining their blades, for they'd managed to bury themselves deep in the pirate's lower shoulder, stopping only when they reached his collarbone.

Yet, before the thief could follow up on his hit, something stayed his feet - literally. Suddenly, he found his legs grasped by several hands as the men he'd already knocked down now rose as one, all attempting to hold the thief down long enough for their commander to finish him.

"This is a battle with no rules, you reckless fool!" The pirate laughed, raising his hand and forming another large icicle, this one the size of a small javelin. "You sealed your fate when you came into your enemy's home base all on your own! You gave a good fight, but you're finished now!" Bellowing these words, he drew back his arm, and then released the projectile. The ice lance gleamed viciously as it streaked toward the thief, who had already begun struggling to free himself. Kicking out at the hands below him, he momentarily managed to wrench the enemies off of him. And yet, there was no longer enough time for him to move out of the way. The pirate crowed triumphantly as the ice lance reached its target-

"NO, YOU'RE FINISHED!" This surprisingly lame retort came not from Seire, but rather from above, as, with a flash of lightning, the lance promptly shattered into countless pieces and melted away into harmless droplets of water. The thief smirked as the boy, right on time, dropped down from where he stood halfway up the stairs to the second level, landing next to the recovering thief, who dusted himself off casually. At the same time, a loud cry from outside was taken up as, hearing the voice of the boy, which had already been arranged to mean that the enemy leader had shown himself and had just been ambushed, the thieves waiting outside charged in to occupy the enemy group while their leader finished things. Countless shapes wielding weapons of all makes and kinds rushed in, surrounding the center of the room within seconds. Black Zess, meanwhile, gave a cry of surprise, calling his men to rise and assist him, yet they found themselves cut off by the thieves, out from whose midst strode Seire, beckoning the boy to come with him.

"No rules." The thief said, grinning cheerfully.

-[Morionem]-

Morionem slowly began to stand again, recovering from the sudden landing, only to find his comrade extending a hand to assist him up. The jovial thief gave a cheerful grin, hauling his unlikely partner to his feet. “Well, that was an unexpected display,” Seire remarked, grinning. “But, surprises abound in this business, I suppose.”

“Thanks. So, that’s the enemy leader?” He replied with a smirk.

“Looks that way,” Seire shrugged, neglecting to mention that he already knew exactly who the man was, and had, in fact, already made an arrangement with him based on the results of this battle. What the boy didn’t know couldn’t hurt him, he supposed, and, more importantly, couldn’t convince him to stop helping until he wasn’t necessary anymore.

“All he has is ice magic?” Morionem asked. A simple ice magic user wouldn’t be much of a problem for him. With help then, it’d be piece of cake. Hum... Cake...

“Yep. Seems like he just knows a few tricks involving badly aimed spikes and surprise attacks that leave him immobilized. Granted, I’m no expert in the field, but... That’s not exactly the most intelligent strategy for spellcasting, is it?” The thief chuckled. “At any rate, that sword of his seems to have the power to channel his magic. Doesn’t seem to have much use to him, though, aside from the obvious. In that case, I guess I can attack with impunity now that I’ve got my own mage here to keep him pinned!” Saying these words, the thief brought his blade into a casual yet practiced combat stance, bracing himself to leap forward and resume the combat. Giving a glance to Morionem, he gestured toward the pirate with mock-politeness using his free hand. “Shall I keep trying to slice him into tiny pieces, then, or would you prefer the first go this time?”

“Thanks for the offer. I guess I’ll take it.” Interrupted Black Zess, as he created some icicle arrows under his cloak and fired them at his two enemies.

“I wasn’t talking to you!” Seire replied irritably, raising his sword and batting aside one of the incoming icicles, then sweeping out one of his coat tails to knock several more off course.

“Pfff... Too easy.” Replied Morionem, who raised his shield and created an electrical current through the metal lining, which then promptly became some small lightning arcs which melted the incoming projectiles the moment they even got close to his enchanted ward.

-[Seire]-

The pirate grimaced, bringing back his sword and sweeping it out towards his targets, its icy aura abruptly expanding and elongating around it, condensing and solidifying into a single, concentrated spear of ice that instantly launched itself towards Morionem. Unlike the last unfocused barrage, this precise javelin posed a much greater threat. With its magic concentrated into a much smaller area, it would therefore be harder for the boy mage’s barrier to dissipate. But, strong though it was, Seire had already seen this spell once, and found its weakness. If scissors could bisect it at its midpoint, then surely a blade could do the same! Stepping into the path of in the incoming icicle, he swept his saber upward, cleaving the projectile in half and causing it to shatter harmlessly around them.

“I think we’ve seen just about all this guy’s got to offer,” Seire observed casually, grinning back over his shoulder as he casually reached down to his feet, hooking the pair of scissors he’d dropped after his earlier attack with one finger and spinning them casually on his hand before slipping them back into his sleeve. “A one-note magus like this shouldn’t be too hard to deal with, right? Just blast him as many times as you like. In the meantime, I think I’ll just kick his ass a little bit!” With those words, the thief turned, and rushed forward. Acting quickly, the pirate immediately spawned another corridor of icy blades, but that tactic hadn’t worked last time, and it would be no more effective now that the thief knew how it functioned. Rushing forward, he darted unharmed through the projectiles as they rained down around him, sweeping up his sword at the same time and slamming it into the upraised blade of his enemy. Zess staggered backward, only barely managing to bring his own saber back up in time to counter the thief’s next blow as Seire slammed down his katana upon the pirate magus’ defenses. Thinking quickly, Zess cast another spell the thief had already seen, trying to freeze their blades together, only to find that Seire used this to his advantage by using his new leverage to flip himself clear over the pirate’s head, shattering the ice as he did so and freeing his own sword to slash downward at his enemy’s back as he landed. The pirate, unable to turn and defend himself in time, instead leaped to the side, skidding across the floor and only barely managing to rise in time to roll once more out of the way of a follow up strike. Again, the pirate tried to stand up, only to realize too late that the thief had suddenly stopped advancing upon him. By the time he noticed this, however, he only had just enough time to raise his sword before him, forming a hastily erected screen of magic just in time to disperse the force of another oncoming lightning bolt. Even despite his attempt to defend himself, however, he found the large part of the attack’s force released in an unfocused form directly into his own body, picking him up and sending him flying several dozen feet before he at last crashed violently through a banister, and came to rest on his back in the middle of a stairwell.

-[Morionem]-

“Whoa that’s awesome... Uh... Morionem, what’s up with you? So distracted today...” Morionem thought to himself, as he watched the fight between Black Zess and Seire. The thief had forced the pirate into a tight situation, and the swordsman took the opportunity to fire a fully charged thunderbolt at him. Surprisingly, he managed to cast some sort of arcane barrier around his sword, which deflected part of the attack, only for this defense to rapidly collapse in on him, sending him flying head over heels regardless.

Both Seire and Morionem ran at Zess while the latter raised himself from the ground. Upon being cornered in a staircase, he followed his only option: he ran upstairs, but not before freezing the steps between him and his foes. The thief, however, didn’t seem overly concerned by this. Even as ice erupted from the steps before him, he continued charging straight up, at the same time bringing down his sword... And promptly stabbing it into the step, somehow managing to polevault himself up the entire rest of the flight, landing in a crouch and immediately taking off after the pirate. Morionem, on the other hand, didn’t have the same acrobatic skills as his partner, so instead of using the same technique he just carefully walked through the frozen area. Of course, he wouldn’t let the pirate run away untouched, so he charged his full power and fired a blast of ball lightning at his enemy.

Black Zess, rushing out onto a catwalk and then turning about to fight his declared enemy, Seire, saw the incoming projectile and tried to counter it with yet another icicle, though it was proved to be an ineffective measure as the ice shard merely melted upon encountering the intangible orb of thunder, which continued its flight unhindered. The pirate yet again raised his enchanted saber in the hopes of defending himself, but he’d underestimated the speed of his other adversary. To his surprise, the thief’s blade batted his own sword aside before he could even prepare his defenses, and he suddenly found a booted foot planting itself in his gut and sending him skidding backward, right into the course of the orb of lightning that arced up to meet him. A tremendous arcane explosion resounded across the library tower, broken boards of pieces of wood cascading down to the floor below as the catwalk was snapped easily in half by the force of the impact (Remember Morionem, next time don’t use power strong enough to blow up the library you are trying to protect.). The thief, recovering from his attack, had no time to leap back as the walkway shattered beneath him, and so instead rushed forward, with a mighty bound hurling himself across the gap even as the floor gave way under his feet. Flipping head over heels, he landed on the far side of the shattered catwalk, upon which the pirate, too, had ended up. However, Zess’ position wasn’t nearly so fortunate as Seire’s, for he, momentarily stunned by the impact, hadn’t the presence of mind to actually land, and had only just barely managed to catch himself on the edge of the broken walkway, his sword falling from his hands and sliding away. Seire reached down, taking up the finely crafted saber and grinning triumphantly down at his precariously positioned adversary, leveling both his own katana and the pirate’s magic sword, pointing them directly at Zess’ neck. The two of them stared intently at one another for a moment, then, the thief grinned.

-[Seire]-

“So, about how profitable would you say joining me sounds around now?” He asked innocently, seeming blissfully unaware of the sudden exclamation of surprise from across the gap as Morionem finally realized the thief’s real purpose at the tower.

“About as profitable as a loaded merchantman with no cannons and a skeleton crew,” The pirate replied honestly. This reply seemed to satisfy the thief, who simply grinned, sheathing his sword at his side and reaching out a hand towards the perilously positioned pirate. Zess eyed the helping gesture suspiciously.

“Now wait a minute. I’m fairly sure I saw you putting those scissors into that sleeve of yours. You’re not going to stab me again, are you?”

“Of course not,” The thief said, grinning. “Why would I come all this way, just to kill you when I could obtain your services instead?”

“Fair point,” Zess agreed, and he swiftly reached up to take the thief’s hand, who promptly hauled him back up onto the catwalk. Casually flicking the sword around, he carefully took hold of the flat of the pirate’s saber, and handed it back to him. Zess grinned, sheathing it, and giving Seire a respectful nod of approval.

“Huh,” The pirate chuffed. “An honest man’s hard to come by in our line of work.”

“So is a skilled magus,” Seire replied, grinning as he extended his hand once more. “I’ll make my offer again. What do you say we join forces? My group has tremendous influence with the guards and the major guilds, and a monopoly on arms sales. I can promise you immunity to law enforcement, a steady rate of pay, and the freedom to continue working largely as you see fit, so long as you don’t make issues for the guild as a whole.”

“Alright, alright. I know when I’m beat. I accept your offer,” The pirate replied, extending his own hand opposite to Seire’s. The two raised their arms, grasping each other by the wrists in an odd sort of handshake.

“You have a knife up your sleeve,” Seire observed matter-of-factly.

“You’ve got those damned scissors up yours,” Zess shot back.

“Then I guess we’re even. It’s a pleasure working with you, Black Zess,” Seire said, grinning. The pirate matched this smirk, and finished their dishonest contract in unison.

“May our alliance be both long and profitable to us bo-” Their agreement, just as it was about to be completed, however, was cut off by a sudden grunt of exertion, followed by a heavy wooden object slamming into the side of the thief’s head and sending him rolling clear to the end of the severed catwalk. He looked up just in time to see the swordsman he had recruited leaping over the narrow gap on a burst of lightning, forcing the pirate to leap away lest he, too, be struck by the enraged young lad as Morionem landed, picking up his thrown shield and leveling his blade at the slowly rising thief.

Seire rose, rubbing his head and giving a nervous smile. “Now, there’s really no need for tha-” He began, only to be cut off by a shout from the boy.

“Shut up, you lying... liar!” He exclaimed lamely. “You said we were here to arrest them, not recruit them!”

“You might have understood that,” Seire responded, grinning. “But all I said was that I was here to prevent the potential of valuable Humans from being wasted. As you can see, that’s exactly what I’m doing. These thieves weren’t doing anything nearly as useful as they could have been, so I came to rectify that, and to see what they were capable of.”

“You’re corrupt and evil! Your crimes have gone on long enough, and now I’m going to... Umm... Stop you!” Morionem declared absolutely, evidently deciding not to argue with the silver-tongued thief and just jumping straight to the more expedient solution.

“Well that’s a rather rude accusation,” Seire said, grinning as he flicked his bloodstained scissors out of his sleeve, hooking them with his pointer finger and beginning to twirl them around his hand with increasing speed. “I don’t think I’m that bad a person. But, that’s fine.” He abruptly caught his scissors, pointing them directly at his adversary and lowering himself into a combat stance. “I can see words aren’t going to change your decision to go against me one bit.” With this, he glanced over to Zess, who was now standing by his side, preparing to attack the young mage. Shaking his head, he instead turned his new ally’s attention to more important matters. “Zess, go and stop that unsightly row downstairs. Tell your men to stand down, and then wait outside along with the rest of my group. I’ll be finished here shortly. I can handle this boy on my own.” With those words, he turned back to his new opponent and grinned.

“I believe we've both done what we intended to,” Seire said simply. “I now have the recruits I came for, and we'll be gone from this place soon enough, so whoever it was who sent you should be satisfied, too.” He grinned. “So, that means we don't have to be held back by the situation. I believe you said something about 'stopping me,' yes? Well, then let's see you try. I'll have you eating those words, soon enough!”

“Oh yeah? Well, I'll bring you to justice!” The boy shot back, ever firm in his resolve to take down the thief as he raised his sword and drew back his shield to defend himself. Seire, meanwhile, flicked his scissors backhanded in a mockery of a knife fighter's posture, at the same time drawing his saber with his front hand and dropping into a practiced stance. Words were no longer needed. The boy, convinced of the justice of his actions, felt obligated to eliminate Seire, who in turn was resolute in continuing his own course of action, bringing out the potential of his followers even if it meant breaking the rules to do it. With both refusing to back down, there could be only one outcome...

“Take THIS!” Morionem roared, letting loose a blast of lightning from his sword that arced swiftly towards the thief, who nimbly leaped aside, glancing back as the staircase behind him exploded into light, cutting the two of them off from the reinforcements on the bottom floor. Perfect. That meant that there could be no interruptions to their duel! Darting out onto the broken catwalk, he leaped up onto the railing as another shower of energy streaked towards him, then jumped again, flipping across the open chasm as the rest of the catwalk broke apart into rubble, and landing on the stairs behind the magus boy, already bringing his sword down upon Morionem from behind. The magus swiftly spun about, raising his shield to intercept the plunging blade, and releasing a current of energy through its metal frame as Seire's saber impacted heavily against it. With a flash of light, the thief was cast back, flipping head over heels, yet landing upright in a crouch atop the stairs. Morionem wasted no time, and rushed up after him, aiming to press his assault before the thief could recover. Yet, Seire was faster than the boy gave him credit for, and as Morionem reached the third floor, the Phantom Thief was already prepared to meet him, swinging up his own blade to meet that of the boy. Steel rang out against steel, resounding through the vast cavity of the library, as a new battle began...

Quest Complete. Seire vs. Morionem To be Concluded in Sidestories.
"The Apocalypse is basically just a tutorial." - Sicon112.

"Due to the ambiguity of this wording, I am unable to determine whether or not I am the leader of the X-Men!"
"UNIVERSE-BREAKING EPILEPSY RAVE!" - AMimsyBorogove
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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Pixelmage on Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:46 pm

Turn Rewards:
  • Blurred_9L ~ Magnet Knife.
  • Tohrinha ~ Magnet Knife.
  • Victin ~ .
  • AMimsyBorogove ~ Kirisame M. - The Ordinary Book.
  • narrativedilettante ~ First Aid Kit.
  • Lordxana0 ~ Pet: Wolf Puppy.

Supply chains restored, books now reachable by all who wish for them. And rampaging explosive goblins. Are we even missing anything? Oh... That's right, the path to the next floor of the castle.

A week has passed since negotiations with the goblin emissary. True to their word, they didn't come back to the second floor's settlement. They didn't make a deal about the dust and tremors from the explosions born from their new toy. That would be easy to endure and ignore, if not for a woman's intel which implied that the way to the third floor was inside goblin territory.

Setting Update: The Lorekeepers, as they dubbed themselves, now have control over the library. Their leader is a woman called Lori.

Quest 11: The bear's name is bear.
In the woods close to the second floor's settlement, three bodies were found mauled in the past week. Scouts trying to map out the formerly kobold territory. This time, a warrior is sent to dispatch of whatever the threat is. Rumors say it's a kobold, but the wounds are too vicious for the tiny creatures.
Your goal: Locate and eliminate the threat.
Quest Takers: Tamar Delaney (Scarab) and Hector Erastus (Adell).

Quest 12: Human Emissary (Postponed in account of a drop request.)
Well, it worked for them, might as well try it ourselves. What can go wrong with that? There are two issues that need discussion. Their use of explosives affecting the human settlement, and possibly earning access to their mines. As per Lori's intel gathered from one of the old notes in the library, the path to the third floor lays inside one of these.
Your goal: Reach an agreement, again.
Quest Takers: ---

Quest 13: Don't Rock the Boa- Erm... Castle (Written by Sicon112)
To everyone's surprise, a large tremor ran through Floor 2, thus proving that earthquakes are apparently possible even when you are in an enormous flying castle. At the quake's epicenter, somewhere deep within the forest of Floor 2, a truly massive rift was torn open, leaving a deep chasm whose sheer rock faces dropped away into darkness. Drawn by this cataclysm, you go to look around, perhaps hoping to make some discovery that explains this strange event. However, that may not have been the wisest decision, as the quake appears to have brought to light things that should have remained buried.
Your goal: Explore the sight of the quake and try to figure out what is going in. In the meantime, try to stay alive.
Quest Takers: Jenny (Jack Alsworth), Anji (eli_gone_crazy)

Quest 14: Flame War (Written by Sicon112)
A strange group of people has gone into the depths of a truly dense wood, and begun their own little cult, worshiping and living at the ruins in the center. They react violently to the approach of anyone aside from their own followers. This wouldn't be a large problem, as they are far removed from any places the rest of the humans want to go, but they also happen to be on the edge of goblin territory, and if you let them continue in their actions, they could jeopardize the truce we have with those creatures.
Your goal: Disband the cult, preferably before the Goblins notice them. If their involvement is impossible to avoid, do everything you can to hold the truce in place.
Quest Takers: Pan (IslaKariese), Julius (Pixelmage)

GM Notes:
  • On Quest 11 ~ Well, all I know is that it looks like a bear, walks like a bear, talks like a bear and even calls itself teddy. :P
  • On Quest 12 ~ First time, the NPCs initiated "Diplomacy", now it's time for the player side to do something similar. They're pretty happy with the gift they got, but beware of kobold refugees who may or may not be nearby. Also, the goblins have explosives now.
    Joking aside, the explosions are controlled, very rarely an insane bomber goblin will blow itself up, and they won't explode people or buildings or anything like that by accident or on a whim. While most explosions may look and sound dangerous, they won't harm you unless they're set to do so. Looks like they have a knack for this exploding thing, uh? Who could have guessed?
  • Quest 13: When the quake hit, it destroyed the warrens of a strange, underground dwelling tribe of creatures. Usual characteristics of a subterranean species take effect. White coloration, large eyes, high light sensitivity, etc. They are small and highly mobile. They have basic pack instincts at least, but anything else is up to you. Think something close to Gollum. They have lost their homes, and their food, and been exposed to the surface world. They aren't reacting well, and might try and eat you. As to what caused the quake... well, that's the mystery, isn't it? Have fun.
  • Quest 14: The cult have been drawn in by a cursed idol of a minotaur within the ruins. The carvings in the temple indicate the idol was worshiped as a war god, which is probably why the curse on it is inciting the cultists to violence. Upon approach of the ruins, the curse will attempt to take hold of you as well, possibly inciting belligerence unless you have the mental discipline to resist. The curse won't take it well if you try and free people from its grasp, so watch out, because you may be dealing with animated statues if you tick it off enough.

Time limit for the turn is one week. Deadline: Wednesday April 3rd at 23:59 EST. If this is a bad week for anyone in the quest takers, let me know as soon as possible so that we can arrange a substitution on the quest.
Play smart, good luck and have fun!
Last edited by Pixelmage on Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Scarab on Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:01 pm

Quest 11: The bear's name is bear.

Tamar hadn’t heard about the attacks in the area when he went into the forest on the upper floor.

If he had, he would’ve probably had the sense to go the other way. Probably. Well, he would’ve at least asked Eliziya or Fade along. He was sure they wouldn’t have minded, but at the same time there was this little nagging voice in the back of his head asking him ‘what sort of guild member can’t handle a little forest hunt on their own anyway? It’s only floor two.’

Besides he was only looking for iron ore, which the Blacksmith in town had informed him would be needed to repair “the unholy mess” that Tamar had made of his sword.

It wasn’t as if the forests were all that scary. Not compared to some of the things Tamar had encountered. The main paths in and out of the woods were guarded by members of the new city authority, just in case careless villagers wandered in, but Tamar had gotten into the habit of avoiding paths lately (a trait which got him into trouble as often as out of it) so he hadn’t seen them. Now he was up to his elbows in greenery and nobody in charge was any the wiser. The canopy was a blanket over his head, thick enough to blot out the light; the trees were still and silent...

It seemed strange to be looking for iron ore in a forest, really. Forest ore, the Blacksmith had called it, with his tongue in his cheek: “Since I came out here, ores show up in the strangest places. It’s like this place operates according to its own rules of reality, and to hell if it makes sense with common mining practices. Still, it keeps us folks in a job.” He’d spoken with a frown on his face and a shake of his head, as if the idea of iron turning up in chunks in a forest eluded him.

Tamar kept his sword attached to his belt, and one hand on it the whole time, but the forest seemed peaceful. Besides, they’d cleared out the Kobolds, hadn’t they? People from all over town had been at the church. What more could be out here? Just a forest, right? Get in, find some ore, get out. No problem.

As mentioned, Tamar really hadn’t been keeping up with the local news. Nor was he very good at recognizing the giveaway signals forests offered to experienced hunters or adventurers: people who knew that stillness and silence around about midday in a large woodland area was not the status quo. People who knew that when the birds went quiet during daylight and the rabbits stayed in their burrows, it was probably because they were hiding from something, and up a tree was by far the safest place to be.

There was no one around to see him jump in alarm at the sound of twigs crackling in the nearby shrubbery, but Tamar looked around anxiously anyway.

‘Hello ? Anyone there?’ the question was loud in the stillness. Perhaps another hunter was out here, searching for their next meal? ‘Uh... not that I’m scared or anything, but—’

That was when he heard it. The unfamiliar growl of something oversized, underfed, and probably not inclined to be vegetarian. The shadow that followed the sound was scarier still, cracking branches as it rose.

‘...Oh saints friggin’ damn it.’

Tamar tensed, ready to run, but for a shadow the size of a large cart the thing was disturbingly fast, lunging out of the trees towards him. So, yes. Shadows in the dark that wanted to eat him. This was getting to be something of a habit. The enormous creature charged out of the shrubbery, hulking in mass and absolutely ferocious, easily towering over the boy even while on its four legs. Its eyes were a horrible red, and its jaw was hung open revealing snarling teeth.

Tamar had read about them once; bears he believed they were called, though he had never met one in person until now. Desperately, more in reflex than anything else, Tamar removed his battered sword from his side and swung it, trying to keep the creature away. He was sure he had read strategies on how to deal with encounters like these, but in moments like this, all that studying went right out the door.

The bear stopped just shy of his weapon, which flailed ineffectually before it rose one of its claws. With sudden speed and power, it clashed against the boy’s sword, but only for a moment. The stress of the attack was far too much for what remained of the battered sword to handle, and the blade shattered like glass. Tamar fell backward from the force.

He didn’t know what to react to first. The bear about to make turn him into a pile of sliced beef, or the fact that his only real means to defend himself just shattered into a million pieces.

Then again, the latter probably wasn't going to matter in a few moments anyway. With nothing else to do, the boy winced and closed his eyes. He was quite surprised, then, when after several moments, nothing happened.

Impending death was certainly taking its sweet time. Hesitantly, a single eye crept open.

What he saw was tall man. A really tall man with hair of green and axe in hand, which he used to prevent the killing blow from falling on the young Tamar. The man pushed the bear back with immense strength, putting some distance between them and Tamar. The animal and the man squared off, Tamar being a bit too dazed to see exactly what was going on. One thing was for sure, the guy who saved him knew what he was doing as he skillfully avoided its attacks while delivering some well timed counters of his own. Finally, when the opportunity showed itself, the axe wielder delivered a terrible slash to the bear’s right eye, leaving a huge gash in its face which blood sprayed from. Apparently, the blow was enough for the animal to decide the meal was not worth it, and retreated back into the shrubbery.

The man grunted, “Damn, I’ve been tracking that thing all day...” Staring off into the direction the creature ran, he promised, “You won’t be harming anyone else, you hear me? I’ll make sure of that!”

~~~

Okay, so on a scale of one to ten, this was probably not the most embarrassed Tamar had been in his life. Probably. It was ranking at least a seven though. He was bracing himself for the lecture he knew was probably coming his way, because hey, in retrospect, running out of town on a quest for materials all on your own? Tamar got the feeling that lately, every decision he made ranged from ‘bad idea’ to ‘really bad idea’ to ‘how in the seven hells are you still alive?’

That last question was the one on his mind right now, but he had more pressing concerns. Like for example: who was the guy built like a suit of armour, whom he should apparently be thanking for saving his hide? “Wait... I know him, don’t I? I mean you don’t forget somebody like that...” Whoever he was, he carried that Axe as if he had been born holding it, with no sign of the fact that they had just narrowly escaped a serious threat.

He stood silent, his back still turned from the young man before casually spinning the axe that was clenched in his right hand and sliding it back into the sack he used to carry it around in. He certainly hadn’t expected to see such a young kid getting into trouble like that around here, at least not willingly. With a wry grin he turned his head toward the boy, who was still scrambled onto the muddy ground; his eyes peered to the gold sword that lay in pieces in front of him. “Sword’s broken.” He stated, with a tilt of his head.

Tamar tilted his head right back. But sure enough, the sword he still somehow had gripped in one hand was missing a good two thirds of its already tarnished blade. The rest of it was cracked like a broken twig right up to the hilt. As if it had been made out of ice and somebody had shattered it. The rest of the blade was... well it was sort of everywhere.

“Oh damn it!” Tamar hissed under his breath. “It couldn’t have lasted one more friggin’ day?” He staggered a bit trying to get upright, managing to fall back in the dirt at least once. “Strike two for embarrassment, right there. Damn it, now he’s looking at you, and he’s probably wondering why you were crazy enough to come out here. Try and say something a little less... stupid!

The man let out a soft laugh, mostly to himself. He recognized the anxiety that the young boy couldn’t hide. It reminded Hector of others he had seen in his past, the look of a greenhorn in the field of combat. Turning completely to face him, the swordsman lowered to his knees and offered a hand to help the boy up. “I’m Hector, leader of the Severed Claws. I think we’ve met once before, over by that church?” The green haired man recalled. “I didn’t think you to be some kind of warrior at the time...so you can imagine my surprise to see you jumping headlong into danger like that.”

...That was where he’d seen this guy before. Tamar had been distracted at the time, what with Anji yelling at the guy to put her down before stalking (well, limping) over to them, glaring. A reaction Tamar now put down to an overprotective streak that always seemed to emerge around her sister. In the light of Anji’s forcefulness, Tamar hadn’t noticed the other man slip away. “I... you’re...” Come on, Tamar, something not stupid, remember? “W-where did you come from? I thought I was the only one out here...”

Hector’s hand remained extended, the boy seemed too busy thinking of what to say to see the man’s offer of help. “Where did I come from? That’s an odd question.” Using his other hand the man simply pointed towards another path leading out from the town. “I came from that way, if it really matters. Now, do you want to get up off the dirt, or are you comfortable down here?”

Oh... oh right, hand!

The boy kept his eyes on Hector’s face, and reached back to take the hand offered the same way most people would reach for a bear trap. Okay, well that was an improvement on sitting in the dirt, anyway. “Tamar... I’m in Storm and Drive. I guess.” He paused, looking down at the shattered remains of his sword.

“Storm and Drive? Anji’s group?” Hector repeated, with a large grin on his face. “She handled herself very well during our fight with the Kobolds. You’re part of a fine guild, young Tamar.” The man complimented as he walked over to the other pieces of the young man’s blade, scooping them up without even asking. The man looked at the blade’s remains carefully, and then back at Tamar. A small sigh escaped his throat, as if he had been contemplating something. “...You’re new at this.” He stated. It wasn’t a question, he said it like it were a fact. “Welp...we should probably get this guy fixed.” The green haired man suggested, before placing the pieces in the same bag he was holding his axe.

This was not exactly what Tamar had been expecting. He’d kind of expected a headshake, a string of directions back to town and a warning not to be such a dumbass in the future. Instead, the Guild Leader of the Severed Claw was picking up the fragments of the ruined sword. To be honest, the thing didn’t look reparable. It looked as if it had gone thirty rounds with a golem shooting lightning bolts, and lost. He had been a damned idiot to come out here in the first place, he knew, but... Well, so many of Tamar’s plans seemed to start with the phrase It seemed like a really good idea at the time. “I... but... ”he stammered. Hector merely stared expectantly. “It’s in about a thousand pieces. I don’t think I could fight with it again.”

“Right, which is why we need to fix it. Or are you gonna fight with that little hilt in your hand?”

Tamar cut himself off before he could say “but” again. Hector started walking, at first seeming to head towards town before turning left, back into the forest. Tamar found himself following because hey, why not? The guy had just taken frightened off a bear with an axe, he could probably handle anything out there. Tamar only wished he could be that confident. “I don’t think it’d improve things either way...”

“No matter how broken something gets, there’s always a way to fix it. A warrior never gives up on his goals, and always takes care of his weapons. It is his responsibility.” Hector spoke as if he were quoting something, a tinge of passion in his voice. “...You came out here to accomplish some sort of quest, did you not? Are you a warrior, Tamar?”

“I... suppose?” To be honest, Tamar couldn’t remember ever really taking care of the sword.

“You suppose?” Hector again repeated the boy’s words, a laugh quickly following them. “No one would be swinging that weapon around for no reason. At least I’d hope.” The man made his comment, continuing to walk off the main paths and towards the forested areas of the second floor. The two passed a burnt tree trunk that lay across the ground, something Hector remembered all too well. “Tamar, I’ve seen many warriors in my day. Some of them weren’t sure, like yourself...” The man cut off what he was saying abruptly and patted the bag at his side, the pieces jingling within. “I’m guessing you didn’t choose this?”

Choose it? Tamar stifled a bitter laugh. No, he hadn’t chosen it. To be honest, it would’ve been the last thing he took from that room, if he’d had any choice. But by the time he thought to run, the choice had been made for him. ‘No. I needed something, and... it was there.”

“Good, no one in their right mind would willingly grab a weapon in this condition.”

Tamar felt his ears burn with embarrassment. “W-well it was okay, before the lightning bolt got it!”

“Young Tamar,” The man replied with confidence, as they continued on, “Even at its best, this thing was nothing more than an ornament.”

The atmosphere had changed, now that they were no longer running for their lives. Tamar noted with some relief that his hands weren’t shaking anymore, but to say he was anything other than bewildered would have been ambitious. Where were they going? He wanted to ask, but instead the question: “How could you even know that?” came out. “it’s just... metal and wood-”

His voice was cut off by a hearty laugh from the older warrior. Now Hector was sure this boy was a greenhorn.

Okay, Tamar thought, considering everything. This guy was... a little on the strange side. Was this what all real warriors were like? Maybe Tamar had been doing it wrong? It certainly didn’t seem to work the way it had in the library books...
“...Just follow me, Tamar. We’ve got work to do.”

~~~


It dawned on Tamar soon enough that Hector had no intention of going back to the first floor, and by association, the town. He also still had the fragments of Tamar’s sword, the only weapon he’d ever owned. Tamar was fairly sure you weren't supposed to give that up. Fine, so it wouldn’t have been much use to either of them anyway but still, it was sort of the principle of the thing. Tamar also knew he was supposed to be back at the Inn by now.

“Um... Hector? What... where exactly are you going?” ‘And why am I following you instead of using my common sense, going back to town and getting a new sword?’ he added silently to himself. The only time Tamar had met Hector before, he’d been carrying an injured girl around, but Tamar was acutely aware that he didn’t actually know anything about the person he was now following into a woods.

Common sense didn’t seem to be on the agenda.

“This way,” Hector said brightly, pointing at the woods. “Like I said, we’re fixing that sword. Trust me, I’ve had to do this stuff before.” Then he kept walking, seemingly trusting Tamar to follow without asking questions. Which would, Tamar thought, not be the brightest thing to do, but...

“Oh come on, Tamar,” Tamar told himself. “Not everyone’s a thug in a dark alley. Besides, he helped Anji, and he just saved your life, that has to count for something.”

So one way or another, Tamar kept following.

Weird or not, one thing was sure: Hector knew where he was going. Tamar wasn’t entirely sure where the hours went, but pass they did. The landscape changing slowly as they drifted further into the second floor. Tamar realised he had never thought about how far the lands of the Castle went. He was barely used to the first floor’s layout, but to have a land of equal size, or even bigger, above it was hard for him to grasp.

Hector knelt before a tree, examining it. Whatever he saw in it seemed to reassure him of the direction he was going, because he returned to leading the way immediately afterwards. “...How long have you been with Anji’s guild?” The man asked, breaking the silence between the two.

“Well, including the time I was with Fire--with Eliziya? About two weeks I guess. But we haven’t done a lot yet.”

“I see...” Hector rubbed his chin in thought. that explains why they haven’t noticed his...uh, skill level. Then again, maybe that Anji just doesn’t care. Is that fair of me to judge? Probably not. ...I could really use some ale right now. Maybe some steak too. Where’s a stray cow when you need it? Tamar gazed upon the giant man, who seemed to be in deep thought at the moment, not even realizing how far the man had drifted from what he was thinking about. Ben is probably having steak right now, the lucky bastard. I’m gonna eat like a king when we get back to town...that’s a promise. His stomach rumbled in anticipation of food. “Hrmm...” He grunted before he stopped moving rather suddenly, causing the younger swordsman to bump into him accidentally.

The man’s gaze shifted from the left to right rapidly, before it fell upon a bird high up in a tree. Ahh, that’ll do nicely. The man thought with glee. “Tamar.” He called the boys attention. He pointed towards the tree the bird danced upon. “We need food for the rest of the trip. I want you to get that bird up there without it flying away.” A challenge had been issued; had Hector given it to Tamar to test him, or was he just hungry, was the question though.

Tamar’s gaze lifted upwards... and then kept going upwards. Okay so Hector was a giant and maybe that just didn't seem as high to him. Tamar couldn’t help but give him a ‘You’re kidding, right?’ kind of look.

“It’s not going to catch itself.” The man gave a cheerful grin, waiting for Tamar to move. “A warrior knows how to handle any situation.”

“...Does that really include tree climbing?”

“If they have to, sure. Go on. Use your creativity.” He encouraged, talking over his stomach carefully to hide the rumbles.

“...What creativity?” Tamar frowned. He was really more of a logical person. Still, tree climbing was just about in his list of skills. He remembered the old oaks that almost covered the estate... This was the same kind of tree, right? How difficult could it be to outthink a member of the same family as chickens?

The answer, as it turned out, was very. Birds were sneaky little jerks. Tamar could have sworn the damn thing was watching him trying to climb the tree with it’s beady black eyes. The tree was young, the branches still springy, and... Okay, so maybe it actually made sense that Tamar had been the one sent up. Hector would’ve broken the first branch. Just by grabbing onto it. Getting to the top was easy enough. Getting along the branch to where the bird was still sitting, however, proved difficult. He nearly lost his grip a few times as did his best to drag himself towards the bird and then...
What was he meant to do exactly? Just sort of grab it by it’s neck? Snatch a wing, maybe? “Uh.... is this a good plan?”

“Nope,” Hector said cheerfully. “But it seems to be working so far.”

“I have no idea what I’m doing!”

“You didn’t have idea of what you were doing against that Bear earlier, that didn’t seem to stop you.” The swordsman suddenly countered, “Do you have a reason to fight...or do you just blunder around in all your actions?” He questioned with a light smirk, intentionally egging the young adventurer on.

“This morning... was different!”

“It was? How?”

Tamar stopped for a moment. He tried to think of an answer.. “I...uh, I didn’t have to climb any trees?”

“Shame. You might’a had better luck if you had.”

“If I fall out, I’m blaming you.”

Hector had an even bigger grin on his face now as he said, “I never said you had to climb it. That was your idea.”

...Okay, so maybe that was a fair point. Through some comedy of errors, Tamar found himself hanging upside down from the same branch as the bird. The bird watched him for a few long seconds, then gave a cry, and... hopped off the branch. Tamar watched it flutter away, landing on a branch within walking distance of the tree he was currently hanging from.“...Hector, that bird just laughed at me.”

“What? Birds don’t laugh.” Hector commented from below.

“This one did, I swear!”

“Well laugh back!” He yelled upward. “Are you gonna let a bird get the best of you?”

“Awk!” said the bird.

Tamar scowled at the creature sitting a few feet away in the branches of another tree - yep, still watching him. “Heck, no!”

“What the hell is a heck...?” Hector muttered, not wanting to ruin the boy’s moment. He was pretty sure Tamar would choose to climb down the tree before trying again with the new one, so it was a bit of a surprise when he... didn’t. He just scrambled his way along the branch and reached out, attempting to grasp the branches of the next, entangled with his own. “Heh...Not coming down?”

“Nah,” Tamar grunted, flailing for the next branch and looking... well like a teenage boy climbing a tree, mostly. “W-when I was a kid, there was this...” (Flail, miss) “...This row of oaks. And to get from one end of the row to the other...” (another flail. The branch creaked ominously) “-sometimes you had to sort of hang upside down and-”

Snap.

He probably should’ve seen that the branch breaking underneath his hands.Hector was obviously struggling not to burst into hysterics as Tamar hung upside down, by his legs, at a height of about ten feet. And the bird was still laughing.

“... Are you stuck?”

“N-no...”

“Yeeeah, m’pretty sure you’re stuck.”

“Caw?” The bird seemed to ask.

Tamar grumbled. “What exactly are warriors supposed to do when they’re stuck upside down in trees?”

“Try not to fall...usually.” The man smirked. “Come on, you can still get him.”

...Okay, so maybe the guy was a little crazy, but Tamar had no intention of failing his species in the battle of man versus bird. The creature was hopping forwards to stare at the ridiculous being that had apparently decided it was a bird, too, which was no doubt the funniest thing the bird had seen in it’s avian life. Tamar stayed as still as he could, praying the rest of the branch held out as the bird steadily lost interest. It must have had a nest or something in the tree, or else why would it keep coming back?

It was around about then that the bird made it’s fatal mistake. Namely, it tried to fly; not away, but over Tamar’s head, and Tamar, as it happened, still had the hilt of the sword holstered in his belt, and just enough time to throw it. When it hit there was a shower of feathers and the bird crashed into a tree trunk. That gave tamar just about the time he needed to right himself, and grab the thing by a wing.

The sense of victory was short lived, though. The rest of the branch gave way about two seconds later. Causing both to come crashing to the ground.

“Caw!” the bird flailed.

“Oh caw caw yourself!“ Tamar muttered, thrusting the still alive bird out in Hector’s direction. “Next time, you’re climbing the tree.”

“Haha, now you’re sounding like a warrior.” The man said teasingly as he snatched the bird carefully from the boy’s hands. Silencing it painlessly, with a quick motion of his hands. Tamar privately thought that at least the thing had died laughing. Hector looked around the area, the artificial sky of this floor was beginning to darken “Well then, we’ll travel a little further north, and then we’ll be setting up camp for the night.”

~~~

The sounds of the night echoed around the two as they sat upon two overturned logs; a small fire between them where their recently caught dinner cooked. They had been traveling for a few hours now, much to Tamar’s surprise. He was pretty sure Anji wasn't going to like this, and he hated the thought of Eliziya worrying again (especially after the panic Tamar had sat through the other day, when Anji and Fade left the inn covered in bruises and acting like they might not be coming back afterwards.) Hector could probably read that in Tamar’s expression though because he spoke up. “I’ll explain things to your guild when we get back, I’m sure they’ll understand.” The man offered casually as he anxiously watched the bird cooking. “I didn’t mean to cause any trouble, but...well, you needed the help.”

A quiet question escaped from Tamar, one he asked with hesitation. “Why?”

“Hmm?”

Tamar turned the remains of the sword hilt over in his hands. A few days ago, he could’ve seen his face in the polished stone. “ I mean...I’m not even in your Guild. You don’t know me. How do you even...” he trailed off realising he wasn’t sure how to ask... well anything. He had followed a virtual stranger, someone he knew only from rumours and Anji’s brief mention, miles away from civilisation. Hector could have been anybody...

And yet, Tamar had trusted the guy. For reasons he still had yet to figure out, though there was also the fact that he had walked off with the remains of Tamar’s only weapon.

He cast about for a way to change the subject. “...You still haven’t explained about the sword thing. How you think it’s some sort of ornament?”

Hector’s wry grin returned from back towards the beginning of their little journey together. Slowly, he reached for the bag at his side and removed the finely crafted axe from the satchel. He stared at it for a moment, examining its details. “I received her,” he started, sounding almost a mile away, “As a gift from the carpenters in town. ...For the help with the Kobolds.” He rose from his seat to the sound of the crackling flame and handed the weapon over to the young swordsman. “When you look at that weapon, you see a wooden handle and a metal blade. You’re looking at it, without actually seeing what it is.” The man said cryptically, moving his hands in a motion to encourage examining it closer.

Tamar did so, skeptically at first, while Hector continued to talk over the flames. “The hilt is made from Tristen Oak, a very durable wood, but rough on the hands. To complement this, they used red leather around the bottom to fit more comfortably in the wielders hands. This gives the wielder grip, while avoiding the rough texture of the oak. The blade uses a teardrop shape, with the bladed side being curved to give it two “hook” like ends. The back is blunt, and is the thickest point of the metal. The back was used by the carpenters to weaken the integrity of the wood, the blade to cut into the wood, and the hooked ends to remove the wood. This gives the weapon several uses, all of which are practical for combat and handling day work. The three main functions it can give in a battle; slashing, blunt trauma, and disarming your opponent. Much like cutting the tree, the blunt side can damage an opponent's armor, the hooked ends can remove their equipment, and the blade...well, I think that should be clear.” The man explained.

“...Sticking into monsters?”

“Right.” The man grinned, “This was a finely crafted weapon, and it’s insulting to claim it as merely a tool. These details aren’t just for show, they give her a personality. From these details alone, one could trace this weapons origins to Askodia, most likely made by a very skilled blacksmith. Now that was a fine country had I ever seen one... a shame I never got to enjoy my time there. One of the carpenters must be from there, though, I imagine.” The man reasoned, with a surprising amount of perception.

Tamar listened to this running commentary in interest and, he admitted, some surprise. Hector hadn’t said this much for virtually the entire trip, and Tamar really hadn’t realised so much thought went into such a simple weapon. Had never wondered why one lumberjack's axe might vary from others, why one person might choose a certain hilt, another something else...

And then his brain rewound a little. to something which had sounded... “Wait. Her?”

“Of course, you don’t expect me to call an axe he,do you?” The man laughed sincerely, taking the weapon back from the boy’s hands, “Her name is Zorica.” He spun the weapon in his hands with confidence.

...Right. Okay. Tamar gave Zorica a look, trying to figure out how they had gotten from a reasonably sane discussion to that. “You... gave the Axe a name.”

Again Hector gave that wry smile. “You find this odd. Why? Because of what...?” The man asked, knowing what the answer would probably be.

Tamar hesitated. He felt pretty sure that this was a trick question, but hey, he’d come this far. “It’s an Axe.”

“...I’m just not getting through to you, am I?” The man again laughed knowingly as he placed the weapon back into his bag.

Tamar thought about this for a moment, because you don’t go around telling the nice person who is helping you to fix a sword for no obvious reason that you think his philosophy is dumb. “Well I... get the whole craftsmanship thing. I get how that’s important, but... that actually makes a difference on a practical level, doesn’t it? Things like the wood or the blade curve, it makes sense that those things should be different, but...”

“You see them as tools, only used to fulfill a need.” The man commented as he opened his hand, gesturing to see the boy’s sword hilt. “Things aren’t as black and white, even with objects like these.” Hesitantly, Tamar handed the remains of his weapon over, a fear in the back of his mind that he’d never get it back.

“I don’t understand why they need names to do what they’re made to do.”he muttered aloud, but inwardly he was thinking. “This is a tool that killed Kobolds, and ran through the hand of some thug in an alleyway... if it knew anything at all, it was how to hurt things. and that was never truly the sword, was it?

“You’re thinking only from a practical perspective. A safe perspective that a common soldier could live by comfortably, for sure. But if you want to be a warrior...” The man gripped the hilt, examining it carefully. “You need to understand your weapon as well. You need to realize that it was not just a tool, but a companion. Your failure to realize it, to respect it, is what led to it breaking. Rest assured, he was telling you to stop fighting ever since you started swinging him around.” The man continued to argue, feeling the weight of the remainder of the blade. “It was never made for combat.”

“Then what was it for?” Tamar challenged, annoyed.

“Decoration.” He replied without hesitation. “He was there to be inviting to those who saw him. To put them at ease, NOT to run them through.” Hector brought the hilt close to the boys eyes. “The tapestry on the handle is of a rich cotton, looks pretty, but no real grip at all, I’m surprised this didn’t go flying out of your hand the moment you held it. But really, the main clue is the gold that is comprised within the blade...no sword can function with that kind of mineral, gold is brittle....and heavy.” The man explained with a light chuckle, “The rich for some reason always seem to think gold weapons are useful in some way, but in the end it’ll lose to common steel every time. Though...I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of gold before.” The man commented quizzically.

"That’s cause it’s Zenith. Zenith metal is harder than steel!" The boy defended his choice of weapon, snatching it from the older man.

Hector, raising an eyebrow, merely stared for a while before deciding to call Tamar out on his boast. “...There’s no such thing as Zenith Metal.”

Even by firelight, he could tell the boy’s ears were going pink. “W-well how would you know? You said yourself you didn’t recognize the gold, You’ve never heard of it!”

“...”

Tamar shuffled, looking down at his feet, mumbling barely loud enough to hear. “Okay so maybe I made that up...”

“If you want to be a capable warrior, you need to be willing to accept your faults. You made a mistake using this thing, but it can still be a capable companion, with the right materials. The right respect.” Hector would never have called his teenage life as normal, for a variety of reasons, but he figured only somebody Tamar’s age could look that shamefaced and yet still indignant. The look in his eyes had an edge of pain to it, though. It was a look the man knew well.

“Why would I want it to be a companion? I killed something with it, Hector! I didn’t even want to, but they would’ve hurt Fire... they would’ve hurt us, so I used it! “ he deflated a little. ”You stick the pointy end into things. But it’s not the sword, it’s...”

“You’re afraid of him, aren’t you?”

Well if nothing else, he cut Tamar’s rant off mid stride. “W-what?”

“The sword.” Hector pointed at the hilt still in Tamar’s hand. “You’re... afraid of the sword. .” The man sighed; an air of awareness to the younger man’s feelings. “Afraid of what you might do with itYet you still go out there and fight with i, which you have to have a reason for..” The man’s gaze turned to the fire; slowly he breathed in and then out as he recalled words from somewhere close to his heart. “...A tool has a single function it is supposed to fulfill. An “axe” cuts down trees. A “sword” cuts down enemies. Zorica, however, she can be capable of doing so much more than either of those. She’s not a tool, she’s a companion...” He paused, “She protected a young warrior today...gave him a chance to see things differently.”

The point was as effective as an arrow shot. Tamar went completely still .

“You’re right, in a way I guess,” Hector shrugged. “It wasn’t the swords fault; what you did to the Kobolds,” Hector went on after a couple of seconds. “That was you. These weapons are in our hands. Knowing that? That’s respect. Giving it a name? That proves it’s not just a tool.“

“...Sorry, I don’t think I get it.”

Hector laughed shortly and somehow the air was calmer again, less tense. “You thinky people, ...I don’t understand ya sometimes. My friend Ben, he’s kind of a thinker too, and I guess that works for him. But I don’t think you’re the kind of swordsman he is. You have to find a way that works for you. Sometimes, it’s not something you can just get.” He lightly patted the young man on the shoulder.

Tamar paused. For whatever reason, Hector had decided coming out here was worthwhile and for (in his mind) equally obscure reasons, Tamar had followed him. Hector wouldn’t have dragged him all this way just to impart nonsense. It had to make sense somehow. “So is that why we’re all the way out here?” Tamar asked eventually, managing half a smile.

“We’re here to get materials to fix him up, and make him something you can actually depend on instead of something that’s gonna shatter the first time it gets hit by a stray insect.” The man reassured, “Not much farther from here is a small cave with some untapped ore.” Hector looked on ahead into the darkness around them, “I haven’t been there yet, but the trees and other such scenery has had some clear evidence of one being nearby...it should be fun to see if I’m right!” The man let out another bellowing laugh as he sat back down upon his log. “Anyway, you went through a lot of work to get this dinner, let’s enjoy it!”

~~~

“So, do you know much about caves like these? They were pretty common around Lamada, helped them make a pretty sizable army.” Hector dragged a hand lightly across the surface of the entrance to the small cave, the light glow of some materials faintly appearing in the background to him.
Tamar shook his head. “All the ores in the Veil had to be dug for, but there was a lot of them. There were had Iron Mines everywhere, and a few diamond, but— “

Oh no. The words were out before he could stop himself. Tamar clamped a hand over his mouth, tensing up all over again. ”Damn it damn it, you’re not supposed to give him the REAL place!”

“The Veil, huh?” Hector frowned. “Never heard of it. S’far away?”

Tamar felt himself relaxing. “I... yeah. Really far away. Like over an ocean far, maybe even further! ” He exaggerated, “I’m not surprised you’ve never heard of it.”

“Huh. That’s a pretty long distance to come, even for a good adventure. You’re from that far off?”

“Well...” Tamar hesitated, then shrugged, “I think some people in the Castle came from further. I’m not really sure how it works. It seems like a lot of us just... got here.”

“Heh, and you just accepted it? How very...unlike you.” The man commented with a bit of snark in his voice. “Odd, I recall seeking this place out, myself. Then again, I remember laying eyes upon it and then...yeah I guess I kind of just showed up now that I think about it. Huh.” He too, shrugged his shoulders, “Guess it was just meant to be.”

Tamar had thought about that, sometimes. He wasn’t sure he liked the idea of the Castle just bringing people here from everywhere, but seeing as where he was now was infinitely better than where he had been, it wasn’t something he questioned as much as he usually would. “I kind of like in here. Being at the Castle, I mean. Except for part with the Kobolds,” he shuddered.

“It’s certainly got enough adventure to last a lifetime. I heard talk that the next floor is as big as the first two put together.”

“How many floors are there anyway?” Tamar asked, mostly trying to make small talk. The cave was... strange. He didn’t know how such a blot on the landscape had been hidden by the shape of trees and huge root. The cave had seemed to come out of nowhere. If Hector hadn’t known it was there, Tamar would’ve walked past it.

The temperature dipped the moment they entered. Tamar had never been in the Mines in The Veil, but he wouldn’t have imagined them to be like this. This was more like the kind of cavern you saw in picture books, seemingly untouched by human hands. There was more space inside than there seemed to be from outside, too.

The sound of a torch lighting caught the boy’s attention. “Ahem...a warrior also remembers to bring supplies.”

Tamar couldn’t help but chuckle. “Didn’t we come out here without any food?”

“They also seek out challenges or...something.” Hector muttered, making light of the comment. “Okay, let’s go get that ore. We’re not here for just some basic iron though, caves like these are made by a variety of events; or so I’ve been told. I won’t pretend I understand it all, but usually the richer, more useful materials, are buried towards the back of these places.”

Tamar suddenly felt glad he had never been particularly afraid of the dark. “So... How far?”

Hector narrowed his eyes, looking towards that faint glow he had seen earlier. “Far enough. Be careful, just ‘cause it’s a small cave doesn’t mean this isn’t home to a dangerous animal or creature. Stay on your toes.” He suggested as he took the lead, holding the torch out to light the way.

‘Stay on your toes’ turned out to be practical advice in a literal sense, too. They had to tread carefully to avoid tripping on uneven, slippery surfaces. The cavern gaped into darkness, crystallized minerals crawling up and down the walls, stalactites and shapes that would never have shown up in a regular mine. This was a different kind of darkness to what you found in a town after nightfall, Tamar thought. The place had probably never even seen light. He kept expecting the tunnel to end, but it didn’t. It went on, curving downwards the whole time, deeper into the earth.

Hector’s pace slowed the further they went in, his ears twitching subtly. “Hmm...” The green haired man’s eyes scanned into the darkness...like he had sensed something. Lowering his free hand, he rested it upon Zorica.

“What is it?”

“Not sure. Just water dripping, mostly. Lots of echoes down here, it’s hard to make out...It’s a little hit and miss with things like this, kind of like dungeon crawling, only there’s less likely to be loot at the end. But we’ll find it.” The man made his convictions clear, no doubt in his mind.

Say what you like, but the optimism was a little contagious. Tamar’s lips quirked into a half smile. “All or nothing, huh?”

“That’s the warriors way.” The man grinned confidently, before returning his attention to what was ahead of them.

It wasn’t much longer before they came to an opening. The cave widened out; they had reached its “heart.” The faint light they had seen before was the reflected glow of several exposed pieces of ore in the walls that peppered the entirety of the cave. The cylindrical shape of this area dipped down into a center pillar from the ground, with much thicker and more exotic looking material embedded itself, while the ceiling was covered with large stalagmites that extended nearly to the floor, surrounding the pillar.. It was as if the cave were a shrine to it. Unlike the faint blue that emitted from the others, a strong orange color encroached outward from this piece. Tamar would have asked if that was what they were looking for, but at this point...he kind of knew it was. It just seemed appropriate this time, like the whole cave had been built around this place. Hector removed Zorica from his side and spun it around, so that the blunt side faced his front. Walking ahead, stood in front of the ore, and prepared to take a swing at it, ‘weakening its integrity.’

He struck once, the collision echoing through the cave. He carefully realigned himself, and prepared his next swing. As Tamar watched, he too began to get that same feeling Hector had moments ago. ...It was like something nearby, moving in on them. Like things were all too quiet, just a moment before hell broke loose.

They were right; and the sound came just before the shadow, a growl that seemed louder than it had in the forest. Before it even registered with him, out of the darkness where Hector stood emerged a familiar, large hulking beast.

Tamar opened his mouth to yell a warning, but Hector had sensed it a second earlier. He ducked in time to avoid the swipe of a claw the size of a barrel. Tamar thought he felt a hand shove him out of the way of the creature. There was a glimmer of light as the blade of Hector’s Axe -Tamar really wasn't in the right mind to remember what the name was meant to be - caught the bears claws and shoved the creature backwards with a growl, but tall though he was, the bear had a hundred pounds and animalistic fury on it’s side. There was a second slash, which the bear dodged, as easily as a human. It bellowed with rage, snapping its jaws in an attempt to tear Hector’s head off.

Tamar had seen Kobolds fight. He’d seen people fight. For all kinds of reasons and justifications, some crueller than others, but he’d never been up against something driven by outright fury before. There wasn’t any malice in this, it was just rage, kill or be killed, and if it had been difficult dealing with the creature in the open air of the forest then here it was even more so. here wasn't any room, and too much darkness.

The axe sunk into the creature’s flesh, but it was too blind with fury to notice the pain, and it returned the attack, the blow strong enough to throw Hector aside. That was the moment Tamar started thinking they were in serious trouble.

“You okay?!”

Hector was scowling as he got to his feet, using the wall for balance ‘’Sure. You know I’m thinking that’s the same one from yesterday. Look at it’s face.’ Sure enough, the scar across the creature’s muzzle, bleeding black in the dark, was a dead giveaway.

“Seriously? But we’ve been walking for twenty four hours!’

“Right, so it’s had plenty of time to get real angry!”

Oh just great. The creature had followed them? All the way here? They were jumping away from each other in the next moment, to avoid the creature's lunge forwards, but it was fast Tamar felt a heavy paw catch his side. It was a little like he imagined being hit by a cart would be. Strong enough to pummel the air right out of his lungs and knock him off his feet. The hilt of his sword skidded across the floor. He was pretty sure he heard Hector yelling something to him, before putting himself between Tamar and the creature, and bringing the axe down. Neither his words, nor the axe hit home. The creature had the advantage in the darkness, and both of them were overpowered.

Except...

...No. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to work was it? They didn’t come all the way out here to be killed in a cave by a damn bear. Heck, bears couldn’t even cast fire spells!

Tamar scrambled across the ground to reach the sword hilt. Not much of a weapon maybe, but still the only one he ever had. Maybe the only one he needed. As he was pulling himself to his feet, he realised what his hand was hanging onto, one of the stalactites descending from the ceiling.

Not quite a tree, but it was the same basic principle, right? Tamar grabbed at the stone.

Hector seemed to lose track of Tamar in the chaos of the fight, needing to keep his attention on the enraged monster that smashed pillars of rock out of its way like nothing... Of all the caves I lead us to, it had to be the damn things home. ...Still, it shouldn’t be this strong, even if its pissed. This can’t be natural. The man cursed to himself as he barely avoiding another powerful blow. Hector was running out of room to back up, and it was nearly impossible to match this monsters strength, strong as he was. With only mere inches between him and the back wall, it was time to either end this battle, or be ended by it. “Alright Zorica, let’s give it everything we got!” The man yelled out in both tension and excitement as felt the rush of a good challenge in his blood. Only one of them was going to survive this next blow. The two beasts charged and slammed into one another, meeting halfway, each swinging their arms to to finish the other off.

The contest was cut short however, as the bear’s body slammed down into the ground from sudden extra weight on it. Hector didn’t quite understand it at first, until he saw that the younger Tamar had somehow dropped on it from above, landing right upon its back. Using the momentum of the fall, the boy dug the hilt in his hand down upon the skull of the bear, and after a few moments of struggle, silenced it once and for all. Both of the survivors were breathing heavily, trying to register what had happened. When their victory had become apparent, a laugh began to escape the two. One of relief, and success.

~~~

The two “warriors” returned to the town within the next day, proud of their victory over the beast as well as accomplishing their goal in getting the ore. All that remained now was fixing the boy’s sword, and making it better than it ever was. The trip back was uneventful, though Tamar’s noticeable excitement was quite contagious. Even the other civilians in town had a hard time ignoring the mile a minute conversation he was trying to have with Hector.

It wasn’t so much a conversation, actually, because that would have involved Hector doing something other than nodding, and occasionally trying not to burst out laughing. The boy’s entire stance had changed from the previous day, which was probably partly the result of adrenaline and partly the pride he felt at having defeated something that, earlier that same day, he’d had trouble facing down. “Because I was sure I was going to miss it, and this hilt was all I had but then the stalactite was right there those are the things that come UP from the floor, right? Stalactites?”

“Well-”

Tamar interrupted, “Well either way, it was there, and I climbed it and I struck and I didn’t miss! I still can’t believe I didn’t miss! It was..."

“...Awesome?” Hector grinned.

“Right! That’s the word!” Tamar turned to face him abruptly. “I’m glad it didn’t kill you, that would’ve sucked.”

The older man laughed, “Yes, yes I suppose it would have.”

“Not that it could have killed you, Hector!” The boy backtracked cheerfully, “I’m not really sure if anything can!” He excitedly proclaimed. “OhmanIcan’twaittofixmysword!”

They drew occasional, confused glances from people as they travelled back through the town. Little to nothing had changed since yesterday, though restorations to the damaged areas of town was continuing at a nice rate. It dawned on Hector that he hadn’t told Ben, or any of the guild for that matter, where he was going. Ben would probably be pissed that he went off adventuring without ‘him,’ again. “Hmm...I sense trouble ahead.” He muttered.

“I’ll take care of it this time, you know,” Tamar added. “The sword, I mean. I...” he trailed off for a moment looking embarrassed. “I don’t totally understand what you said, about naming them, or companions, but I’ll try. Maybe I just need to figure out how the naming thing really works...”

“Sometimes the weapons just pick the names themselves.” Hector explained cryptically, his tall stature proud and confident as he led the two further into town. “Other times, you’ll just know what to call it. Treat it well, and it’ll come to you eventually.”

“...Huh.” Tamar stared at the sword hilt in his hand, either deep in thought or maybe trying to will the name to him.It didn’t work like that but... Hector couldn’t think how to explain it in a way the boy would understand. Tamar was like Ben like that. He thought a lot but he didn’t just get things.

The two finally reached the smith that Tamar had dealt with in an earlier endeavor, but this time with Hector’s...intimidating presence, the boy ultimately found what he wanted; The man quietly went to work on the broken sword, using the materials they had gathered to reforge it.

What Tamar got back was not entirely like his old blade. This one was smaller, easier to handle. The blade was more curved, a similar to the orange coloration of the ore used to fix it. Gone was the tacky cloth on the hilt, now red leather covered it similar to Zorica’s handle, and the spots where the gems had been were shaved down to make a more sturdy and protective guard for the boy’s hand.

There was something weirdly familiar about the scene for Hector when Tamar held the sword out in front of him for the first time: the look on his face, confusion mixed with interest and an undertone of pride; it reminded Hector of the first time he found his own purpose to fight, when his sword stopped being a just a sword and became a companion. The situations may have been different, but the parallels were clear. To Hector, it was vindication for helping the boy in the first place.

Tamar must have stood there in silence, smiling slightly, for a good two minutes before Hector coughed out. “Well?”

Tamar started a little, having apparently been in a world of his own. “S-sorry?”

“The sword, what do you think of it?”

Tamar paused, swinging the blade back and forth. It was difficult to see the sword it had been a couple of days ago in the new design, but the design had just seemed right at the time. The Blacksmith knew what he was doing with the ore. “It’s... light. Lighter than I expected it to be.”

Hector nodded as the two left the smiths shop later in the day. “Gold is quite heavy, really, even in a decorative sword. But you should be able to handle this one better.” Also you’ll be less likely to lose your fingers he added silently in his head. Tamar swung the sword like somebody who knew how to do it based on books. The guard had been a good idea. “Just don’t go spinning it around like one of those...what are they called again, ninja’s? Augh, they are the worst to fight...”

“They say you don’t see them until you’re already dead.” Tamar recalled from his readings of various cultures in the world.

“Yeah, that’s why I fought them with my eyes closed. It wasn’t fun.” Hector explained with a shake of his head.

“Thank you.” The boy timidly said, bowing to the older swordsman. Which was... okay it was a little odd.

“For what...?” The man raised an eyebrow, pausing...before lightly punching the younger swordsman in the arm, in a joking manner. “Just kidding, you’re welcome.”

The boy dipped his head up from his bow hesitantly. “Is it alright if I ask...” Hector looked at him, expectantly, “Uh...well, why did you help me?”

“Haha, are you kiddin’?” The man laughed off the question with a wave of his hand, “You were a mess out there. I couldn’t in good conscience just let you go on thinking the way you were, it was only gonna get you hurt.” Tamar lowered his head again, this time more in shame; though he appreciated the honesty. In truth, the boy still thought there was more to it than that, but he decided to just leave the answer alone.

“Well, guess this is it now.” Hector commented, extending a hand for a friendly shake between the two. “I’ll be sure to stop by your guild to explain the situation.”

Tamar looked at the hand, both confused and anxious. He never returned the gesture, instead throwing his head down once more in a bow. “Could... c’dyouteachmehowt’fight?” He blurted out.

There were probably meant to be spaces in that sentence, Tamar thought. Yes, he was fairly sure... Hector was frowning,clearly trying to parse what the heck Tamar had just said. Okay, deep breath, try again. “Could you teach me how to fight? It’s just I... “ his face was going that shade of red again. “I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

“...Really.” The man answered somewhat sarcastically.

The sarcasm was seemingly lost on Tamar. “Really! And Anji said, I’m in Storm and Drive so long as I can be useful. Eliziya spoke for me before, but I don’t want...” to let them all down when it matters, to let Eliziya down, to look like a total idiot when they finally see me fight something in the daylight.

“You don’t want to let them down.” The man finished the flustered boy’s sentence. “I get it.” The man brought his hand back up to his chin, contemplating the request...or at least pretending to, which only made young Tamar’s embarrassment grow. “It won’t be easy...” He warned.

Tamar looked up, carefully replacing any signs of embarrassment on his face with determination. “Neither was fighting Kobolds on a cliff in the dark, when I had someone else I didn’t want to get hurt.Or fighting a bear. I can handle it.”

The green haired swordsman smirked, “Finally, some confidence.” He turned from the boy, preparing to leave. “I’ll train you, if that’s what you want.” He said simply, “But I have my own code on how I handle things, fights...enemies; you’ll need to be willing to follow it as well so long as you train under me.” You turned his head back, his face far more serious than before, “Do you understand?”

“I... yes. Yes I understand.” Tamar nodded, smiling. Well, at the very least he thought he understood, and sometimes that just had to be enough really, didn’t it? Just ignore the parts of your brain that are telling you something is a really bad idea, because with any luck, the problems will all be worth it in the end.

Ah, hell, what else could go wrong that wouldn’t happen in the Floating Castle anyway?
They sometimes say, "the place where I am right now was circled on a map for me"... Unfortunately, I kind of suck at orienteering.
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Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:35 pm
Location: Durham, United Kingdom

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby IslaKariese on Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:54 pm

Quest 14: Flame War

It made sense that he received that letter. It was... Poetic. In a way. So far, still within expectations. Julius folded the letter from the City Guard and set out of the inn without calling for anyone. Cultists had taken over a ruined temple on the far side of the woods outside the second floor’s outpost. Relatively far, and not really a problem. But according to Legias’ letter, they were considered a “threat to the well being of the people”, thus, a full garrison was going to seize control of the temple in three days. Not his problem, she was just letting him know that there might be some casualties involved.

Test a traitor by setting him up, uh? He sighed, walking idly minded. Fine, we can play that way... Guess it’s my own damn fault anyway... He heard a noise, enough to wake him from his daydream.

--

How is it that I get myself into these situations? thought Pan as she ran from a couple of angry villagers. Or, at least she assumed they were villagers - they actually looked like they hadn’t ever set foot in a civilized setting, judging by how torn and dirty their clothing was.

Villagers or not, she groaned, they want to kill me now. Crap! She jumped up, just barely dodging the axe tossed at her feet by a big, burly ape of a man. She swung her staff, charged with a fair bit of electricity, and knocked him clean upside the head. He stumbled, slightly dazed, and she turned towards his friend who, while smaller, was managing to wield a hammer nearly twice his size.

She jumped again as he swung at her head, and instead of her skull he uprooted an entire tree. Pan watched in utter disbelief as the oak, which must’ve been 20 feet tall, crumbled into splinters at the contact point and fell with an almighty groan. She didn’t have much time to gape, however, as both thugs turned back toward her and swung their weapons with animalistic cries of rage.

“Leave me alone, damn you!” she screamed, angry herself. She stabbed her staff into the ground and vaulted herself upwards to kick them both in the jaw, channelling a bit of lightning down her feet for good measure. She yelped in pain as the attack jarred her legs painfully, even as they both fell backwards. She fell to the ground, gripping one of her calves as she eyed them warily. What are these guys made of? she wondered faintly, holding in her gasp of disbelief when they both began to get up only a few moments later. Unable to stand quite yet, Pan uprooted her staff and held it out in front of her in a weak defense, closing her eyes.

--

Julius barely reached the battle in time. Well, at least I’m in the right place. He dashed, drawing one of his swords and delivering two shallow cuts to the hammer wielder’s legs. Safe from retaliation by standing behind his foe, who promptly fell to the ground, unable to stand. He took a deep breath, sheathing his sword and stretching his hand to the woman who tried to fight them off, while the hammer wielder still cried unintelligible curses, trying to get to his feet.

“You ok?” He asked, but quickly added “The axe guy is taking a nap over there, don’t worry.” Pointing at the unconscious shape of the other man, a bulge in the back of his head revealed a quick scabbard-to-the-head treatment. No deaths so far. I really hope Legias brings in a healer though.

Pan groaned, hauling herself up on still-sore legs. “I’m fine. My ego’s a little bruised, but I can live with it.” She looked up at the man. “So who do I have to thank for saving my sorry hide?”

“Julius. But you’re not really safe yet. These guys have friends waiting just a little ahead.” Remembering some sort of manners, “I don’t think we’ve met before, what’s your name?”

The girl leaned on her staff for support. “Pan. And I figured as much. Though I have to say, I wasn’t expecting Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb here to start chasing me when I came across those ruins...” She looked up at him again. “I’m guessing you know what’s up?” she added knowingly.

Instead of replying, Julius unfolded the letter and handed it to her. She took it and read it carefully.
Legias wrote:Since you want so badly to be helpful, to the point of offering your services so “formally”... Well, in three days, the main garrison force is moving to take over the ruins near goblin territory. It doesn’t matter to you, of course, just a bunch of cultists who decided to worship a bull or something similar. Petty troublemakers that can be a serious threat to the people if left alone. Though I figure they’ll want to fight for their stay, so it can be quite dangerous and I will fully understand if you decide not to join the task force.

Before she could comment, he decided to explain a certain detail. “I just got it this morning, and the ‘three days’ is a lie. Real military schedule go around in a letter like this...” Specifically, not on a letter to me. “They should be a couple of hours behind me, at most. Your safest option is to just head back to town and tell them what happened when you meet them on the way.”

Pan snorted disdainfully, handing the letter back roughly. “That would be a ‘no’ on that, friend.”

“I wonder... Is there anyone on this whole castle with a shred of common sense?” He let out a chuckle. “I guess you’ll want to go to the ruins, then?”

Pan nodded. “I’m not letting any cult take over my forest,” she said, growling lowly at the two thugs on the ground.

“Your forest...” He stopped, shaking his mind off the thought. “I’m going ahead. You should wait for the guard force.” He began to walk, not giving Pan a chance to reply. After about thirty seconds walking in silence, he stopped and sighed, looking at the frame of the mildly amused woman that was walking along with him. “I guess this would be a ‘no’ to my idea, again?”

Pan simply looked up at him, raising an eyebrow as though to say the answer should really be obvious.

“Fine,” He gave up. “But be careful.”

--

They approached the ruins silently, and she stopped him just before they reached it. “Do you feel it?” she asked, narrowing her eyes. “This is where the magic changes.”

“I’m not really a mage, myself...” He pondered. He felt annoyed... Even slightly angry. “But this place is irritating.”

So are you, but you don’t hear me complaining about it, she mused, looking up at the man. “I don’t know what it is, exactly, but this must be a part of that cult worship thing. It’s all unnatural, starting here.”

“No sense in waiting now... If we didn’t meet up with the guard, waiting for them here won’t do any go-” He stopped abruptly, shaking his head. What the crows is wrong with me? Taking a deep breath before continuing in a more measured tone. “This place is dangerous. And I don’t see any of the cultists around. We should be careful about ambushes.”

She nodded thoughtfully, keeping a keen eye on the trees and holding her staff with both hands. “The place seemed deserted when I stumbled across it earlier, though, and you saw the result of that...”

There was always the option of going back to meet the guard force... But... “I want to have a look.” Julius commented, stomping toward the entry hallway, only to stop just shy of the door.

Growling under her breath, Pan followed him closely, stopping beside him to marvel at the sight. This... is a lot of people... About two hundred people were kneeling before a great stone altar, surrounded with wall-to-wall statues in various states of destruction. Some were missing arms or legs, and a couple were even missing heads, but they all looked menacing. And sitting directly behind the altar, surrounded by a collection of bloody animal heads, was a large statue of a minotaur, seemingly glowing in firelight. If Pan didn’t know better, she’d have said it was glaring right at the two of them.

The cultists turned to the doorway and howled in rage. ...Well, shit. Pan panicked as every single cultist abruptly turned monstrous and picked up various weapons to point in their direction. Double shit. “Julius. I do so hope you can fight a hundred to one.” Never mind whether or not I can... Julius, for his part, had already jumped into the fray fist and voice, while the cultists turned to fight even among themselves.

Pan cringed, unsure of how prepared she was for this, but rather than hesitate, she immediately gave a battle cry and swung her staff at the nearest cultist, whose head snapped backwards violently with the blow. She didn’t wait on him and moved on to the next, sweeping her leg under their feet and bashing the foot of her staff into their heads. She didn’t notice herself growing more vicious and angry with every new attack, but she did notice when her punch broke a man’s jaw into two pieces.

She stared mutely at her fist as the man fell. “Oh, Terra, what is happening to me...?” She couldn’t say more before a woman leapt onto her back with a shriek, clawing with overly-long nails into Pan’s face and throat. The girl roared and sent a current through her body, making the woman scream in pain and fall in a smoking, charred heap.

I don’t know what this is, she thought, roundhouse kicking the next cultist. I’m so much stronger... and my lightning is... deadlier. Pan looked up at the minotaur. Now she knew that the thing was staring at her. We’ve got to stop that thing somehow... Pan slowly fought her way towards the statue, which seemed to get impossibly bigger the closer she got to it, when she was distracted by Julius’ voice.

--

The battle rush was exhilarating. All Julius could wonder was why he never let himself loose like this before. He swung a piece of rock in an arc, smashing it into the chest of one male cultist. The thrill, the emotion. He spun on his heels, arm extended, slamming into two women and sending them sprawling to the ground. He paused to take in a breath... And howled along with the crowd.

One of the armed cultists slammed a club on his shoulder, sending him to the ground. But he wouldn’t stop. Raising with unnecessary force he shoved the man up and away, and turned to two others closing in on him. Instead of trying to defend himself, he grabbed their arms and flung them overhead. See? I’m not just some weak water boy you can walk over you idiots! He was just another voice in the cacophony. Until sudden pain jolted him awake. A stray blade grazed his right shoulder. The touch of metal and the sudden flash of pain prompting him to remember he had weapons.

The former Royal Guard drew both of his blades.

He heard the scraping sound of the metal with absurd clarity, and the familiar weight of his swords brought his mind to a controlled state. He was now aware of just what state his body was in. The shoulder wound wasn’t the only one, his whole body was covered in bruises, and small cuts from hitting the edges of stone and wood were plentiful. He shoved the pain away, closing his eyes for a split second, before spinning and scraping the tip of his blades in the floor around him. The move drew sparks and served to define a short radius. For that brief moment, no one seemed to notice. But the knight held his ground in the middle, disarming and destroying the weapons of all who stepped inside his range.

For a few seconds it seemed like nothing had changed, until a small pocket of empty space started to appear around him, as the disarmed cultists began to step back.

“Can’t you give me a real challenge?!” He screamed, his eyes looking directly at the statue behind the altar, instead of the cultists around him. Another one tried to dive for him, and was promptly disarmed and tripped falling into the crowd once again. “You cannot defeat me.” This time, he directed his words at the crowd.

The howl gave signs of beginning again, but before it could gather momentum, he stepped into the crowd, outside of the small ring he had established, and, with a scissor like movement of his blades, snapped a spear that happened to be with one of the closer cultists. “Beasts can’t defeat men.” His voice was low, but he was sure that somehow everyone could hear it. Perhaps some of these magics that were at work did it, or maybe he was just delusional, but it didn’t matter. He kept his voice low. “You fight with the strength and fury of a beast. I commend you! But even the mightiest of the animals can’t face a true warrior.” The room fell silent. “Run. Or die.”

--

Pan stood silently, attempting to swallow the lump of fear, adrenaline, anger, and anticipation that lodged in her throat as she listened to the man’s challenge. She wanted to fight him. She wanted it so badly. It took every ounce of her self-control to not leap over the crowd and confront him head on.

“Run. Or die,” he said. And the air itself stilled for a moment before changing completely. Everything became colder, and Pan released a breath as she felt her irrational anger disappear entirely. It was as though a collar had been removed from her neck, and the world shifted as the people around her first shifted in confusion and then began to scream as the entire area was evacuated in a panicked frenzy.

The girl yelped as she was shoved between them, all of them hurrying to get out of there as quickly as possible. Pan lowered herself and shoved through the crowd, heading in the direction she last saw Julius. She was no longer inhumanly strong, but she still managed to push a path up to the man who was now glaring up at the minotaur statue.

“Julius,” she yelled, trying to be heard over the screams. “Julius, that thing is dangerous, we gotta--” But she was never meant to finish, because the entire ruin began to tremble beneath their feet. A low chuckle filled the air, leading her to slowly turn her head up to meet the maliciously amused eyes of the minotaur statue. Her skin crawled as the statue slowly turned from stone to flesh, the lips curling into a grin made up of bloodied teeth.

“You dare challenge me, boy? it rumbled, sounding even more amused even as it finished its transformation and took a step forward. That single step shook the entire structure, and Pan struggled to keep her footing. “You fight well, but the ego you bear must be truly massive if you believe you are warrior enough to challenge me.”

Julius crossed his swords in front of his body, forming a guard in a purely defensive stance. “You seem to know the part, uh?” He let out a smirk. “You don’t need to be all powerful. All you need is to look as if you are.” The minotaur swung his massive mace idly, shaking the structure and showing a pattern of tattoos scattered over his body, the same pattern that was engraved in the stone form he appeared in before.

“Foolish boy,” the thing almost crooned, treating him as though he were a child. “Power is not merely appearances. And even if it were,” it added, smiling fully, “you certainly don’t look the part.”

“Your followers, I wonder where they went, would disagree.” And Legias should arrive with reinforcements soon, I hope. “Surely you must not have a proper eyesight...”

“Julius, what are you doing?” Pan muttered to him, eyes never leaving the minotaur. “Why are you intentionally antagonizing the thing that could probably kill you with a look?”

“You’d be wise to listen to the shepherd, boy,” mused the minotaur, making Pan pale at having drawn its attention. “There are far more honorable ways to die than through sheer stupidity.”

The situation was delicate. Volatile. If Julius so much as trembled, both he and Pan would be promptly killed. The image game was the only thing preventing the creature from running and stomping over them. If the ‘three days’ was actually true, I’ll kill Legias myself. Julius cursed silently. He had no way to keep the banter for much longer, therefore, only one option remained. He mouthed very lowly to the mage. “Run.” While, for his part, he dove for the monster, falling silent and into his usual battle focus once again.

The minotaur roared, waving his mace overhead. The movement was violent, crumbling one of the other statues that adorned the room. Julius rolled under it, rasing with both swords to slash at the creature’s chest. The attack was certainly successful, if ineffective, drawing only a shallow wound before the monster’s arm launched him away. He slammed into one of the pillars of the room, dizzy and breathless with a single hit. At least that should be enough time, she’s probably safe... by... now... What in the name of the great furies does she think she’s doing? He struggled to his feet, preparing to dive into battle once again.

Pan, meanwhile, had taken a step backwards as Julian attacked the beast. He said run, yes, but it wasn’t that simple. She wanted to run. All the adrenaline she felt during the melee was long gone, and she couldn’t muster the courage to even take her eyes off of it, let alone turn her back to flee. But while she couldn’t turn her back, that didn’t mean she couldn’t defend herself. As the minotaur’s attention was focused on making an example of the warrior, Pan reached into her satchel and pulled out one of her tools, an ice stone that she’d managed to find by the river. Holding it behind her back, she charged it as much as she dared and waited.

When the minotaur finally turned away from Julius, Pan reared back and threw her weapon as hard as she could with a roar of effort, cheering internally when she managed to hit it right in the eye. Her grin turned into a grimace when it roared in pain and rage, and she back-peddled to where she saw Julius fall. She turned to him as he stood, checking him over as briefly as she could while still keeping her eyes on the monster. “Are you alright?”

“Alive.” He said, removing and cutting his cloak in two. He had replaced his old clothes with new ones, similar to the old uniform he wore. Black, white and blue. He wrapped his ragged brown cloak over his hands holding his swords with a buffer. It was bad for grip, but his blades alone weren’t enough. “You’re a mage, right?” The minotaur roared, regaining his balance. “No time, can you set the cloak on fire?”

“I-- yes, but--” Pan cringed as the minotaur’s good eye locked onto hers, and she made a physical effort of swallowing her protests and doing as he said. Ignoring every instinct that told her not to and gripping tightly on the survival instinct that mattered, she latched onto Julius’ cloak and focused. She winced when she ended up shocking him as well, but the cloak immediately burst into flames.

The minotaur charged for them. Julius felt a weak shock as the blade and wrapped cloth warmed up and started to gather heat and burst into flames. No more time, it had to work. He rolled to one side, while Pan instinctively rolled to the other. Thunder? He thought as he realized how Pan had started the flames. That’s even better. He flashed a grin, screaming in hopes that she would hear him over the minotaur’s roar. “Fifteen seconds, and you channel all the thunder you can through the swords!” The heat was starting to seep through the old cloak, it started the timer until his hands got burned beyond a healer’s ability to save.

One. He ducked under the sweep of the minotaur’s mace, rolling again, trying to keep himself on it’s side. Two. Julius raised to his feet again, diving to slash at the monster’s arm. Three. The flames grazed the beast’s fur, setting small patches ablaze. Four. The blades bit into the monster’s flesh, shallow wounds. Still not enough. Five. The beast retaliated ramming his head into the warrior and flinging him away. Six. He had no time to be down, he landed in a roll, promptly forcing himself up once again. Seven. The minotaur slammed his mace down in a heavy overhead swing. Eight. Instead of dodging, Julius dashed to stand just under the monster’s head. He stopped counting.

The following several seconds were composed of the screams of both the man and the beast, and a flurry of violent swings and thrusts from Julius’ flame-coated weapons. One last move. He stuck both blades into the monster’s gut and let go of their handles, but paused to breathe at the wrong moment, as the minotaur slammed one of his arms on him, cracking his left arm with what looked akin to a slap. Julius fell, rolling uncontrollably to the other side of the room. He only hoped that the fifteen seconds had already passed. And that his suicidal idea would pay for itself.

Pan watched fearfully and critically, keeping her distance only for the sake of Julius’ plan. She bit her lip as the flames licked at the man’s arms for longer and longer, knowing how painful it must have been. The girl counted near-religiously, prepared to leap in and follow through with her part of the plan as soon as time was up.

As she reached fourteen, Julius was flung to the other side of the room and Pan dashed forward. She vaulted herself upward with her staff and slammed into the beast’s belly, just barely managing to grab hold of the hilts of the swords before falling. The minotaur roared as the wounds were jarred. “Foolish, impudent creatures!” it bellowed, grabbing at her with a hand far bigger than she was. Pan screamed, but didn’t let go. “You will pay for these insults with your lives!”

“Maybe,” she choked out, renewing her grip. “But we’re sure as hell taking you with us.” With that said, she channelled as much lightning as she could through her body, sending volt upon volt of lightning through the swords and into the beast’s stomach, shocking him from the inside out.

The minotaur roared in agony as the lightning coursed through it, slowly but surely turning him into a charred wreck. It fell backwards, and Pan cried out as she fell with it. She struggled out of the thing’s unmoving grip, wincing all the while. I must have broken a rib, she thought, before turning immediately to where Julius had fallen.

Pan made her way over as quickly as possible, unable to run thanks to her rib but unwilling to move any slower. “Hey,” she said, kneeling next him, grimacing with pain herself. “Hey, Jules, get up! Can you hear me?”

“Yes.” He grimaced, trying to move his arms. Still in working condition, if a bit red looking. He managed to let go off the burning swords before the damage became irreparable. His left arm, however, would likely need a cast and proper healer attention. “I guess it worked then?”

“Yeah,” she said, wincing again as she disturbed her rib. She wouldn’t let herself pay all that much attention to it as she instead took his good arm and gently focused on it. Instead of her electrokinesis, she reached for her healing power, which she didn’t use that often. A faint white glow covered her hands and the burns slowly started to fade away. “Mind telling me what in Terra’s name you were thinking, doing something like this?”

“Animals fear fire. No matter what that thing did or talked like, it was a bull. So it was only natural that it would flinch at the heat...” He moved his right hand to have her stop the healing for a moment, listening to the sound of something approaching. He struggled to his feet and went to the minotaur’s corpse, to take his blades back and sheathe them. “Thankfully, thunder is way more efficient at killing things... Or so it appears anyway.”

Pan stood as well, ignoring her pain and keeping close to him. “So it appears,” she repeated, needing something to say other than ‘Stay still already, you stubborn little twit.’ “What do we do, now?”

“For now? Sit and wait.” He said tiredly. “That sound coming close must be the cavalry, finally arriving to save the day.”

Pan snorted at that, wincing as the action didn’t agree with her at the moment, and stepped towards his broken arm. “I can’t fix it completely,” she said, gesturing it with a hand, “but I can at least get it down to fracture level instead of a full break...”

“Thanks.” He said, following his own advice to sit and wait. The girl sat beside him, slowly this time. With glowing hands, she went to work.

--

The guard force arrived a few minutes later. Initially shocked at the sight, they moved to clean the interior and tally the casualties. In total, 27 of the cultists were found dead scattered around the temple. The main bulk of them, who had fled it for some unknown reason, didn’t seem to remember much of what happened there, save for the sense of violence. Legias was personally leading that particular force of thirty guards, and Julius now felt happy that he decided to move ahead. Thirty of the city guard wouldn’t be able to restrain a couple hundred enraged cultists, there would be many more casualties if they had arrived first.

After issuing the orders and making sure everything was being done, Legias directed herself to him, keeping her face impassive, but unable to contain the surprise in her voice. “I... have two questions. Why did you bother coming? And how did you manage to clear this place before we arrived?”

“I only have one same reply for both questions. I’m not who you believe I am.”

“The insolence is the same I believe in, however.” She replied, acidic. “Very well, Mr. Valerian. I’ll lift the watch over you, for now. But I personally don’t trust you, don’t forget that.” Legias turned to Pan, who was still near Julius, sounding more compassionate than just a moment before, even offering a smile.. “I believe we’ve never met. My name is Legias, I’m in charge of the military force here. How should I call you?”

The girl looked up at the captain with a mix of amusement and approval. “Pan,” she said simply, giving a smile that was more exhausted than anything. “You must be the head honcho in the village, huh?”

Legias flinched at the comment, throwing a glance at Julius, as if to see if he was somehow controlling Pan’s words. But the man just rested with his eyes closed. “Well...” She recomposed herself. “In a way... Regardless, I believe it’s time to return. And I would advise that you be cautious around this man. But for now, the guard will escort you back to the safety of the city and provide proper healing attention in case you require it.”

Pan snorted, hiding the twinge of pain her ribs gave her in the process. “I don’t belong in the city. Only place I’m going is back to my forest. As for Jules, here,” she added, looking back down at the man she’d spent the last few minutes healing to the best of her ability. “He may be an idiot, but he saved my life once or twice today. I owe him one.”

Jules? He thought idly hearing the conversation. When did she start calling me that? Oh well, no matter, I should probably head back though. He stood up before Legias could reply. “Thanks for putting up the good word, Pan.” He smiled and turned to Legias, smirking as he spoke. “I suppose the escort and healer wouldn’t apply to me, or would it?”

Legias sighed. “What you did here today, regardless of who you are, was a service to the city and to the Guard. The offer extends to you as well, Mr. Valerian. Although the Guard would appreciate a proper report on the events, if that’s not so much of an inconvenience.” Pan made a valiant effort to not laugh at that.

“I can do that... Though I have to admit, this little game of ours with unsaid threats is getting very tiresome.” He said, serious. “And dangerous too.” He said pointing at the fallen minotaur and the lined up bodies of the cult victims. “What do you say about dropping it and actually attempting to work together in the future?”

Taken by surprise, she couldn’t reply as she normally would. After a brief pause, Legias finally said. “I still don’t trust you... But I suppose you earned one chance. One. And I expect you to follow orders when it comes to that, can we agree on these terms?”

“Fair enough.” He said simply. Pan looked on curiously, wondering idly about their past conflicts, but it was no business of hers. She merely slipped away unnoticed, glad to be rid of at least one threat to her forest.
The voices in my head tell me that we saved the world. However, they also told me that George Clooney's face is on the dollar bill, so... meh. The voices are more fun, anyway.
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IslaKariese
 
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:53 am
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Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:49 pm

Quest 13

The setting sun cast a deep red light over the former kobold settlement. Restoration work was slow, but steady; it was already halfway livable. Several of Castletown’s residents had made a new home in Moo Hope. With the advent of the church’s militant forces, and the new city guard, some felt that they weren’t allowed the same freedoms as before, and chose to move ahead of the main body of castle-dwellers in order to keep their supposed “rights”. Anji was walking through main street, looking for a new temporary base for Storm and Drive as they kept their grind through the castle’s dungeons and forests.

Then, with an almighty crack, the earth began to pitch and roll. It was something Anji had never experienced, and had only heard about in stories. The earth shuddered and twisted like a living being was attempting to break through to the surface. Anji ducked into a nearby tavern doorway and held on for dear life.

After the earth stopped waving like the sea at high tide, Anji stood and walked shaky kneed over to the gigantic chasm that crossed through the outskirts of the town. It was hell. Chaos everywhere, people yelling for others, mothers screaming for their children. A group of men were trying to lift a beam off of a boy. Running over, Anji joined in, calling for others to come help.

So much damage, she thought, looking around her. Could the castle really be this unstable?

She heard a loud cry behind her and turned. A young woman, perhaps in her twenties, was staring and aiming a shortbow at a point not too far into the forest.

“What’re you gawkin’ at?” Anji hollered at her. “There’s people that need help! Over here, not over there!”

The woman blinked, as if coming out of a daze. “Oh, uh, sorry. I just... thought I saw something. It doesn’t matter.”

“I ‘ope you don’t mind my asking... but, who the hell are you? I haven’t seen you around before.” Anji said quizzically.

“My name’s Genevieve Hunter. But introductions can wait." The woman threw another look over her shoulder. “We can’t stay here - the forest is dangerous at night. Well, it’s always dangerous, but-”

“I think we can handle a single wolf, don’ you?” Anji said, trying not to chuckle at the other's skittishness.

“It wasn’t a wolf,” Genevieve Hunter said firmly. “It... well, it almost looked human.”

Anji rolled her eyes, “I don’ have the time for fairy tales tonight... We need to get everyone else out of here. There might be more earth... shaky.... things, and I’d like to avoid any casualties while I’m around.” Looking the bowswoman up and down, she asked, “You a fair shot?”

“I’m better than fair.” As if to demonstrate her prowess, she whirled around and drew her string back, preparing to fire. “There it was again!”

“...right. Anyway, back in reality, people are dying. You keep watch, I’ll go see if there are any other guilds active, and start moving these people out of here.” Anji said, turning to walk away.

“Fine, fine.” Clearly this Genevieve person was too focused on shadows to be much help. Anji left the flighty archer to her imaginings and went to get the survivors organized.

Unfortunately, "organized" turned out to be easier said then done. No other guild were around at the time, and Anji didn’t have enough time to send ravens out to Castletown or to the various homes of the guildleaders. The city elders declined aid at first, affirming their given rights to their land and people, with dark glances toward the unimposing scout. Even after grudgingly agreeing to assist the injured, they absolutely refused to move them to the healers at Castletown, insisting that they wait out the night in the relative safety of the settlement. Grinding her teeth in frustration, Anji walked back to the Hunter woman, still standing at the edge of the forest. “Heard anything else?”

“Nothing worth mentioning. I think it’s scared of the torchlight. And I think it has friends.” Her eyes were still jumping around, scanning the entire treeline. “Trying to move this many people through the darkness isn’t going to be safe.”

“Not much we can do. There’s about 5 people who may not last the night unless we get them out of here. I can’t send for help, either... by the time anyone arrived, they would already be dead.. The healers might die trying to climb down. So, I need you to convince the elders that your fantasies are actually a reality, because they refuse to move.”

“They’re not-” She stopped, then took a deep breath. “Okay, fine. We might be able to bait one out; does anyone have any fresh meat they’re willing to-?”

With an irritated growl, Anji jumped into the darkest part of the forest. No time to waste on crow-begotten fairy tales... now to find whatever the hell is making all this supposed racket. Running through the dark, Anji narrowly dodged fallen trees. The earth was loose and shifty, and she turned her ankle after tripping over something decidedly not a tree. Stumbling back, Anji held in a yell as she saw what it was.

A grey, nearly hairless humanoid stood before her, with elongated fingers ending in threateningly sharp claws. Its hunched form was on all fours; its monkeyish appearance was broken by a pair of giant, deep-set eyes that reflected the moonlight.

Anji and the creature stared at each other for several long moments. The tense silence was broken by an eerie long screech, piercing through the darkness. Anji scrambled to her feet as several more calls answered the first. Pulling out her knives, she threw one at the first creature, who dodged the attack and continued howling. Dashing away from the terrifying figure, Anji almost collided into something else shrouded in darkness. She jumped backward, before she noticed the bow aimed squarely at her pursuer.

“Cover me,” said Hunter tersely. “They’re probably going to try flanking us. We need to get back to the settlement.” To emphasize her point, she shot at the enraged monster and readied another arrow.

Nodding assent, Anji faced the settlement and focused on gauging the distances of the howling pack from their current location. The collection of screeching albinos were not silent, preferring to use a form of baying to locate each other, hoping their numbers would benefit them more than stealth. It didn’t take long for the mob to surround the pair.

“You say I told you so and I’ll rearrange your facial structure,” Anji remarked over the growls and screeches of the incoming monsters.

Hunter gave a crooked grin. “Wouldn’t dream of it. Any other ideas?”

“Well, I always did think that stew went better with toast than rice...” Anji smiled widely, not noticing the look of annoyance from the archer.

“I don’t see how that helps us at all. Unless you have a fireball or something up your sleeve.”

There was a long pause as one of the creatures leapt toward the pair. Ducking out of the way, Anji turned to see that both an arrow and a knife had met their mark. “How good are you at climbing?” she asked, sending a kunai flying lazily towards another target.

"Well enough,” said Hunter, tracking Anji’s attacker and shooting again. “What, do you want to wait this out until sunrise?"

“I’m going to make my own sunrise,” the scout said as she reached into her satchel. Glancing at the confused archer, she said, “Go on! I’ll handle this.”

With an I-hope-you-know-what-you're-doing sort of look, Hunter jumped for the highest branch she could reach and swung herself up, climbing evenly away from the monsters below.

Taking a few deep breaths, Anji pulled out a simple wooden talisman. Let’s hope this works. Glaring at the lead creature, she broke the flimsy wood and was thrown back from the force of the fireball that erupted from the broken talisman.

The effect on the tiny terrors was immediate; their screeches became more like keening wails, and they scuttled away, shielding their sensitive eyes from the rising wall of flame. The effect on Hunter was no less dramatic. She almost fell out of the tree in surprise, then dove into the nearest foliage that wasn't suddenly on fire.

Anji stood just outside the wall of flame. “Zi never told me it was that much fun!” she said, grinning crazily. Looking over at the archer hidden in the bushes, she paused, then composed herself.

Hunter was staring at her. “You had a fireball.” Her voice was dead with shock. “Up your sleeve. I was joking.”

“Well I suppose next time I’ll do something silly like let myself get gnawed on by albino anklebiters.” Anji said, eyes glittering in the firelight. Shoving the remains of the talisman into her satchel, she turned away from the fire, and started running back to the ruins of the town. “Right. I’ve seen them, and so ‘ve you... and more importantly, they’ve got our scent. I’m sure they’ll get around the blaze and track us... We best make sure we’re out of the woods before then.”

The other woman came out of her reverie. “Oh. Right. Settlement. Yeah.”

“Yeah, the settlement. You know, the one where people are dying because we aren’t moving fast enough?” Glancing behind, Anji threw another knife at one of the lead creatures, then continued her sprint to the ruins. Hunter quickly followed.

When they returned, the settlement was still in chaos, but it had quieted down somewhat. Most of the injured villagers were stable, and the uninjured ones were organizing an evacuation team for the critically wounded. They had been met with the same resistance Anji had, in the form of the obstinate elders.

“Oi, Jimbo!” Anji called out to a dirty looking teenager with a red scarf. “Get your brothers and start helping the injured up the ravine.”

The boy gave a puzzled look, then held out his hand. “Oh, come on man! There’s a horde of bloody monkeys behind me and you want payment NOW?”

The boy said nothing, his grin growing ever wider as he motioned for money. Growling in frustration, Anji reached into her bag and brought out a few bronze pieces. Tossing them to the boy, she said, “It’s all I have on me for the moment, Jimbo. Come to the Drunken Dragoon tomorrow, and ask for Tamar... He’ll give ya the rest. Now go on, I’ll handle the elders.”

As if Anji’s words had summoned him, one of the elders came storming toward her. “What is the meaning of this?” he blustered. “You fail to garner support with those in charge, and so you decide to undercut our authority? Moving these people isn’t safe, and you know it!”

“We may not have a choice,” came Hunter’s voice. “The torches are getting low; we’re running out of time.”

The elder looked condescendingly at the newcomer. “Spare me some scare story about the dangers of the forest. I think we can handle ourselves against whatever frightened animals lie out here. We shall wait for aid to come to us, and that is final.”
“That’s just it, though,” said Hunter slowly. “It might not be just animals. We - ” she indicated Anji - “fought a pack of... something, I don’t know what they were, I think they got displaced by the earthquake. At first, I thought they were just monsters from the underground, but... I think I recognized some of their hissing. They were acting like wolves, but they were talking like kobolds.”

“Aye, and they nearly took my head off. I’m here to help you lot keep from being killed. For a bunch of wise old men you seem to have stupidity in mounds.” Anji grumbled.

The elder sputtered for a moment before responding. “I didn’t come here to be insulted by ruffians and thieves-”

“If I remember correctly, this thief pulled a beam off of you,” Anji interrupted, tossing a knife in the air and catching it in a repetitive, practiced motion. “It’s a wonder your thick head didn’t break the damn thing. Now, I am a part of a guild, and you are endangering the villagers. Help me, or get out of my way!”

A sudden drop in visibility punctuated her speech. Hunter spun around.

“They’re putting out the torches! But how - ”

She stopped abruptly. Several pairs of glowing eyes stared out of the forest at their little group. Their expression could only be described as “hungry”.

Anji’s gaze burned into the elder. “Feel like moving now?”

The elder's face turned an interesting shade of white-purple as he retreated further into the safety of the lights.

“Well, I... the point is..." he stammered, “not my choice... must discuss... I have to go!” He scurried off, wringing his hands and throwing terrified glances over his shoulder.

“Well, that went well.” Anji said, laughing. “So, now to get all o-”

At that moment, a thin, reedy voice spoke up from behind the ruins of a cowshed.
“Hungry... Overworldersss dessstroyed our homesss... we mussst eat...”

Hunter covered her mouth with her hand. “Oh... they are intelligent...”

“They’re also trying to eat us. This may be a slight issue, considering I have no intentions of letting them do so.” Anji said, riffling through her pack and pulling out several more sharp looking knives.

“No, don’t!” Hunter all but flew between Anji and the creature who had spoken. “I know they’re dangerous and I know they’re hungry,” she whispered angrily, “but violence isn’t the only solution! If we can communicate with them-”

“We don’t have the time for that. What if there’s a second earthquake? What if that way out of the ravine crumbles like everything else? People’s lives are in danger, and you want to play scientist?!” Anji said, eyes blazing.

Hunter sighed. “Fine. Just... stop threatening them, get everyone out of here. I’ll think of something.”

“Are you staying behind with the rabid carnivorous albinos from the pits of hell?” Anji asked incredulously over the renewed bays of the creatures.

“Someone has to.” Hunter’s pacifist ravings notwithstanding, she still had an arrow strung and ready. “If only to watch our backs. Go!”

Nodding, Anji started to turn, then said, “Ah, crows.. I forgot about those elders... though I suppose teeth and claws will be a better motivator than my puny knives and words.” Turning to look at the archer she said, “Best of luck. Nice meeting you. I hope to see you at the top.”

Hunter didn’t appear to notice. “Fortune favors the foolish,” she said softly, eyes flicking between each demonic face shrouded in the night.

Anji rounded up a few more of the healthier villagers and began to organize a caravan to remove people from the ravine. The elders were slightly more motivated to leave now that something was actually trying to eat them, and helped to grab their own belongings and make the trek up. “Right, wounded and children first. If you can use a weapon, have it out, it’s for more than decoration. Keep a sharp eye out, and bloody crows man, hold that light up!”

As the bedraggled band of settlers started to make their way upward, the screeching wails of the mysterious creatures became even more agitated. Over all of them, a thin voice cried, “Feeeeed usssssss! Mussst paaaaay!”

“Do you hear that?” It was the ornery elder from earlier. “If we give them some food, they’ll stop hunting us!”

“I take it you have a cow under your tunic? No? There must be some large barn animal underneath that tent, it’s a wonder you can walk at all.”

Before the man could respond, a loud scream emanated from near the end of the line. One of the creatures had apparently jumped on top of an injured woman and had tried to take a bite out of her arm. It had fortunately been subdued before it could cause too much harm.

The elder pointed at its limp form. “There, see?! They’re only interested in us because they think we’re food! If we just-”

His words died in his throat as Anji’s kunai rested on his neck. “If we do what? Are you volunteering yourself for the reaping? Shall all of the elders valiantly sacrifice themselves? I’m sure they’d be satisfied after just one of you.”

The repulsive old man shook his head wordlessly, eyes fixed on the knife.

“That’s what I thought,” said Anji, withdrawing slightly, her gaze still boring into him. “Now, if we just keep moving, we might be able to make it out of here alive.” The elder nodded his head faintly and began waddling up the side of the canyon.

After Anji’s show of force and the near-miss with the ravenous creature, the rest of the elders were all too happy to increase their speed out of the chasm. Despite this, Anji was getting more and more nervous; what would happen when the torches finally went out?

A familiar voice interrupted her thoughts. She turned and saw Hunter running toward her looking, if at all possible, more anxious.

“What’re you doing?” Anji said curiously. “I thought you were keepin’ those things off our backs.”

“This is more important,” Hunter panted. “I found something lodged in a crevice near the bottom. I don’t know what it is, but I know it doesn’t belong down there.”

“Is it shiny and valuable?” Anji asked, scrambling down the side of the ravine after the other scout.

“Shiny, no. Valuable... well, again, I don’t know.”

“Keep a steady eye... I want to go home tonight.” Anji said at the archer’s back. The archer gave no indication that she heard the guildleader. Rolling her eyes, Anji knelt to see what Hunter had been so eager to show her. A narrow, red stick was wedged into the wall. Scorch marks surrounded the nearby rocks, and there were several burnt matchsticks littering the ground. “Well now, what’re you doin’ down here?”

“You’ve seen something like this before?” said Hunter, gazing at the flickering torches.

“Sure, it’s a type of explosive. Never used one myself, but-”

Hunter slapped her forehead. "Of course! Explosives! This is what destroyed their homes. This is why they're angry!"

Anji's patience was wearing thin. "Yeah, of course that's why. And not because, say, they're murderous little monsters who want to eat us."

Hunter ignored her, apparently lost in thought again. “I don’t think humans did this. What possible reason would one of us have for attacking our own village?”

Anji could think of several reasons, but before she could voice any of them, Hunter continued. “Maybe we can use this to convince them we’re innocent. Maybe they’ll stop attacking us!”

“I highly doubt tha-wait, what are you doing? That stuff’s dangerous!” But it was too late; Hunter had grabbed the stick and was now dashing to the edge of the torchlight. “Hunter, you dumbass, we need to give that to Legias!” Anji cried, exasperated.

The archer paid little attention as she approached the ravening horde. “Over here!” she shouted, holding her evidence aloft. “Look at this!”

Amazingly, the creatures did not attack, although they approached much closer than Anji felt was comfortable.

“Food?” the lead one hissed slowly.”Have you come to feed usss?”

“No, no food,” said Hunter apologetically (They’re talking about YOU, you idiot!, Anji raged silently). “This is one of the devices created to break open the earth and destroy your houses. We were attacked, the same as you.

“I... I know we did not encounter each other on the best of terms -”

“You got that right,” Anji muttered. Hunter kept speaking.

“-but I’m fairly certain that all of this was just a misunderstanding, and I think that, with a little effort, we can find a way to live peacefully.”

While Hunter was speaking, the creatures were looking at her, spellbound. The leader, however, was staring directly at the red stick in her hand.

“I know thisss,” it mumured, almost trancelike. “The green onesss brought it into their tunnelsss.”

Hunter's expression turned quizzical. “The... green ones?”

“Goblins,” said Anji quietly. “There were goblins down there.”

“Our town wasss broken, and the green onesss told usss that the sssurfassse walkersss were to blame. But... if thisss belongsss to them...”

The hunched figures surrounding Hunter had up until this point been completely still, their gazes on her unwavering. The silence was broken by one of the creatures letting out another horrendous screech. This one sounded less hungry or scared; it sounded angry.

More deafening cries followed the first, and soon the entire mob was hopping and screaming. Their anger did not seem directed at Hunter, however, and soon they were fleeing into the night.

“Wait!” called Hunter. “I didn’t - ”

She was too late; they had all vanished into the darkness surrounding them.

“Quick... we need to head back to the villagers,” Anji said grimly, staring out into the murky gloom.

Hunter’s expression had gone oddly slack. “Yeah. Yeah we should.” She turned and followed Anji back up the path.
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eli_gone_crazy
 
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Pixelmage on Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:07 pm

Turn Rewards:
  • Adell ~ Bear Fur.
  • Scarab ~ Custom Crafted Sword.
  • eli_gone_crazy ~ Jo Staff.
  • JackAlsworth ~ Rock of Unknown Status (ROUS).
  • IslaKariese ~ Iron Chisel.
  • Pixelmage ~ Letter of Service.

Four days have passed in the efforts of recovering from the damages of the sudden earthquake on the second floor of the castle, the supply lines had to be re-routed and the information received in the last few days was extremely worrying. Something has to be done in order to ensure safety, and it has to be done fast.

Quest 12: Human Emissary (Reiteration).
Well, it worked for them, might as well try it ourselves. What can go wrong with that? There are two issues that need discussion. Their use of explosives caused the massive rift and disrupted the Rakes, it affects the human settlement heavily. And earning access to their mines has become a priority, as per Lori's intel, gathered from one of the old notes in the library, the path to the third floor lays inside one of these.
Your goal: Reach an agreement, again.
Quest Takers: Salvantas (Lordxana0) and Ben (Qara-Xuan Zenith)

Quest 15: Herbalism. (Closed)
All this noise and rush to get up and up. That's not healthy, not healthy at all. Or so says Lori. In contact with possible adventurers, suppliers or what have you, all she cares about is that healers need proper supplies to work well. She provided pictures and descriptions of a couple of herbs supposed to grow on the relatively safe first floor and requires someone to locate and collect a handful of them, so that they can be grown and shared among the facilities of the castle.
Your goal: Locate the herbs and bring samples back safely.
Quest Takers:

Quest 16: Trouble-seeking.
Legias has enlisted you help to research suspected corruption in the guard. Naturally, this is a covert mission, if shes wrong about the suspected guards, and you make a ruckus it's her job on the line. but if she's right and you call attention to yourself, then the corrupt legionnaires may just decide to take you out of the castle permanently.
Your goal: Find out what you can about the corruption ring and report back.
Quest Takers: Darren (Blurred_9L) and Marcus (Guyshane)

GM Notes:
  • On Quest 12 ~ First time, the NPCs initiated "Diplomacy", now it's time for the player side to do something similar. They're pretty happy with the gift they got, but beware of kobold refugees who may or may not be nearby. Also, the goblins have explosives now.
    Joking aside, the explosions are controlled, very rarely an insane bomber goblin will blow itself up, and they won't explode people or buildings or anything like that by accident or on a whim. While most explosions may look and sound dangerous, they won't harm you unless they're set to do so. Looks like they have a knack for this exploding thing, uh? Who could have guessed?
    The general quest is the same, but due to pressing matters, things became a lot more serious this time around. The goblins are under attack, the kobold refugees may or may not be close by... The political standings are hanging on the balance, and their mines are the only lead you have for the next floor.
  • Quest 15: Should be pretty straight forward. Same dangers of the woods always apply, of course, so be careful... Also the plants in question are used for anesthetics and emit a numbing smell. In careless quantities they may induce hallucinations and the like. Not that you'll find this in the pictures she handed over... So, yes, do be careful. >:D
  • Quest 16: Basically, people are being allowed free pass through the gates without registration, guards end up leaving their posts and all sorts of small infractions. It could be natural lack of discipline, or it could be something instigated by some in these posts. You should be able to find out... Or are at least expected to attempt.

Time limit for the turn is one week. Deadline: Monday April 15th at 23:59 EST. If this is a bad week for anyone in the quest takers, let me know as soon as possible so that we can arrange a substitution on the quest. Also, an important note: If you want to use an NPC established by someone else, contact that NPC's author for authorization first.

Play smart, good luck and have fun!
Last edited by Pixelmage on Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Pixelmage
 
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP

Postby Qara-Xuan Zenith on Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:32 am

Ben shifted uncomfortably. She had thought it was supposed to be cold in a mineshaft. After all, it was dark, and underground. Didn’t dark and underground usually mean cold? But whether from the occasional explosion as the miners blasted a new tunnel open, or from the way she was dressed, Ben was sweating in her full armour. She wouldn’t have been wearing full plate armour-- she hardly thought it was necessary for any combat that might arise on this mission-- but whatever else she thought about diplomacy, she did take her responsibility seriously. As a representative not just of Lamada and Orono but now of the Severed Claws and Legias’ command, she felt it was her duty to, well, make a good showing. To look impressive.

Well, it’s good practice, she told herself, as though she could take away from her own irritation at this situation. She had come on this quest to get away from all the politeness and paper-pushing, not to have a whole new pile of it dumped on her! As it was, she would have complained when Legias dispatched her that, unlike her companion, she wasn’t a guild leader, but before she’d opened her mouth, an image of the cow-brained head of the Severed Claws arose in her mind, and she’d thought better of it. Hector was good at many things, Ben knew, but she suspected that deep thinking was not one of them. If he’d shown remote promise in that area, he might have figured out by now that she wasn’t a man.

Ben smirked at the thought, before turning to look at the man beside her. Yet another irritation. Oh, sure, the much-lauded founder of Heroes Unlimited looked good on paper, but what did she really know of the man? Ben hated dealing with unknown quantities. It startled her a little to realize how dependent she’d been, at home, on easy access to information about, well, just about everyone. She’d never really had to deal with someone she didn’t know, or know about, except as opponents in combat, which wasn’t quite the same thing. She’d never had supposed allies that she couldn’t be sure she could depend on. Well, at least this Salvantas seemed happy enough to do the talking for the two of them. She sighed, knowing that she couldn’t just tune out the voices forever. Particularly considering the way the goblin chieftain was shaking his hand and-- waving his fist? oh, dear-- Ben had a feeling she’d have to step in momentarily.

“You need this alliance as much as we do, the humans can offer protection and metal working skills you have never encountered before, we have already proven our skills by giving you the dynamite haven’t we?” Salvantas hissed his words in the Goblins tongue.

“Need your alliance?” the Goblin chief let out a short laugh. “We need no such thing, we have survived on our own, yes the explosives are nice, but we would have made them eventually.”

“You are missing the point! If we work together then you don’t need the eventually, we can show you how to best use it to mine, and there are so many other advancements that would help your people as well.”

“I am sorry but the answer is still no, that is unless...” the Goblin’s face spread into a small smile. “Well, there is one problem that has yet to be taken care of....”

Salvantas sighed and continued speaking to the chief in the goblins’ native language. Thankfully, Goblin was just a high form of the speech Kobolds used, so it hadn’t been too difficult to figure out the parts he didn’t know. He had hoped that speaking in their native tongue would help sway the Goblins into a bit of an easier agreement. But what they were asking for now was a bit too much. Negotiations were going down fast and he excused himself for a moment to confer with his partner. He knew a bit more on his partner then she probably knew about him; he had all other guild members and leaders observed by a group of his best thieves and spies so he could properly deal with others when he was forced to. “Talks aren’t going good, they are asking for a lot of supplies that we really don’t have, they are offering another way but I can’t agree to it without speaking to you first.”

Ben made a face. “What exactly is he suggesting?”

Salvantas leaned against the wall and sighed. “Did you hear about the new race of monsters that got set free after the recent earthquake?” He didn’t wait for her to respond. “Well, even if you hadn’t it doesn’t really matter, apparently they have been under siege during the nights and need our help to get rid of them, if we can do that we can have a better platform to stand on in negotiations with them, it could be quite a bit more dangerous, but probably easier than appealing to their sense of reason and charity.”

Ben nodded brusquely. “I’ll handle this, if you don’t mind?” She marched back over to where the goblin chief waited, trying to ignore the bang! of a stray goblin blowing himself up near the end of the shaft as completely as his fellow miners apparently were. She leaned in close to the shorter creature. “I’m sure we’re all... reasonable people here. You’re under attack, you say? Well, I’ll tell you what: my friend and I here will eliminate that threat, and in exchange for the safety of all your tribe, you will give us that little bit of safety compliance and free passage that Legias is requesting. Small price to pay, isn’t it?”

The goblin looked mildly disgruntled at the switch from his native tongue to human speech, but he nodded gruffly at Ben’s words. “Iff you can do it... we haff a deal. I’ll sign once you prooff yourselffs.” Great, Ben thought. Now we just have to... figure out how to do it. Why do I always walk into things without planning first?

He walked out of the room and sighed lightly. “Well at least we have that, I would have liked to argue for more of the benefits that the city was looking for, but we can always continue negotiations after the main threat is passed, but please don’t do that again, I understand how much you want this mission to be over, but acting recklessly will only delay our finishing of this mission, I put my faith in you as my partner on this mission, so please try to have the same level of faith for me.” He looked at her with calm but disappointed eyes.

This woman is quite brash, the city would have done better to send us on our own.

Salvantas chose to ignore Blank for the moment and began to think up a plan. “Okay, I think I might have an idea, but it is going to require a few things, the Goblins promised us access to supplies if we agreed to do this, so I need you to pick up a few of their lower powered bombs, I will go and get the other materials we need and we will meet back here, please don’t do anything that will further hurt our already fragile alliance.”

Ben glared at his retreating figure; it was probably just as well that he had removed himself from the chamber too swiftly for her to deliver a snappish reply, considering their diplomatic position, but she found she couldn’t stand this man. His supercilious moralizing aside, he had as good as told her that he’d have liked to nab some extra advantages for himself in this deal. What I bargained for was exactly what Legias sent us to get. Not partisan “bonuses”, she thought angrily. Too late to address the complaint to her “partner”, who had already gone to acquire whatever else it was he thought they would need, she turned back to the goblin with a silken smile.

“It’s very impressive how your people do that,” she commented, nodding toward a group of goblins across the hall who had just blasted open a new tunnel for mining purposes.

The goblin grunted. Ben felt a wash of, oddly, relief. It seemed he was as uninterested in small talk as she was. She tapped her fingers against the armour at her hip a few times, making an audible tap-tapping noise, before starting again. “You assured Mr. Salvantas that you’d provide the additional supplies we need to solve your little problem. I’d like to requisition three or four sticks of your explosives. Nothing too powerful, just whatever you have lying around.”

The goblin chief hissed between his teeth. “Iff you think, human, that I will giff you our explosiff sticks...”

Ben slid herself back into the seat that faced the now-standing goblin, leafing through the papers she still held. Of course, she wasn’t currently making reference to them, but to a comment from a new friend; still, the point held. Looking up to meet the goblin’s eye dead-on, Ben spoke quietly, knowing her voice would carry well enough to make her point. “You know, I hear that those creatures who plague you had their home upturned by one of those explosives of yours-- oddly, they were informed that this was our doing, and proceeded to attack a human settlement, before the misunderstanding was corrected. Strange, isn’t it?” Before the goblin, who looked to be about to attempt to bluster his way through the accusation, could respond, Ben went on. “Now, if I know Legias as well as I think I do, she doesn’t take kindly to her people being... set up. If it comes to that, neither do I. Of course, if this matter is settled to everyone’s satisfaction, perhaps I can convince her to... say no more about it.” Ben stood, suddenly towering over the goblin again, and held out her hand. “So what do you say? All I’m asking is for a stick or two to replace the one you claimed was ours.”

***

Salvantas walked outside and was greeted by Smoke who bounded up to him panting lightly and holding a small piece of paper in his mouth. Salvantas petted the small wolf lightly and took the paper from him and examined it. “Good, another advantage for dealing with these creatures, a small tribe of Kobold workers should keep them happy for quite some time.” And he would feel better knowing that the creatures he had displaced would have a home again. Now for the next thing he needed. He walked over to the small pastures the Goblins kept their livestock in and found the lead farmer and began to talk to him, slipping him a few shiny pieces of gold for one of the herd. He pulled out one of his longer knives and made quick work of the beast, gathering its blood into small jars he could use to lead the creatures to the body. He then proceed to gut the beast and hollow it out to make it ready for his big plan. When Salvantas finished he sighed to himself and cleaned the knife before dragging it across his palm and awakening Blank.

Blank looked to Smoke and nodded to it. “Are they close?” The small wolf yapped out once to confirm a positive answer. “Good, take this message to the leaders of the village, here is a scent.” He wrote a small message on a piece of paper and handed it to Smoke so he could deliver it. Blank walked a bit into the woods and stopped for a second. “It is I, your god, step forward oh weak creatures.”

One of the Kobolds stepped forward. His body was horribly scarred and mutilated but he still did his best to bow to Blank. My Lord, we have come to serve you in any way we can

Blank nodded. “I have decided that from now on you will live your days side by side with the Goblins, you will work for them as hard as you can, and in turn they will protect and nurture you, I am not always an evil god, for at times I can be kind.”

The Kobolds cheered, glad to have found a new home for themselves. Now they wouldn’t be hunted by the beasts that lived on the second floor of this massive floating castle. Blank lead them toward the village and a small envoy of Goblins greeted them, taking them away into the village to be looked at by the chief of the village. They would probably be stuck doing mine work, but anything was better than the horrors of the forest.

Blank walked over and sat next to the hollowed cow corpse and awaited his partner.

He wasn’t waiting long before Ben appeared, toting a small handful of dynamite. She eyed the man and the dead bovine with a disdainful eye. “Been getting a lot done?” she asked sneeringly. “I’m sure there’s an excellent reason for that,” she indicated the cow. “Maybe you were in the mood for a snack? So sorry we didn’t bring along better rations.”

He stood up and looked at the woman. “Shut up, we have a mission to complete and I am not the kind of person who enjoys your sarcastic little ‘jokes’.’” He opened up the cow and pointed. “Put them in there, make sure the fuse is sticking out enough so it can be seen plainly.”

Ben faced him coolly. “Much as I love taking orders from some jumped-up, self-serving, self-declared ‘guild leader’, I can do that fine in my own guild; you’re damn right we have a mission to complete, so I’d appreciate it if you filled me in on how exactly you were planning to complete it before I just follow blindly. I’ve found from experience that when you’re working with others, it helps to consult before assuming that your way is best.”

He looked at her. His stare was absolutely emotionless. He wasn’t angry, happy, sad, or any other emotion, just blank and cold. “I will explain quickly then, for I don’t have the time nor the desire to argue this.” He pointed at the cow and the small jars of blood. “We are going to use that to lead the monsters into a small shed that the Goblins used to put their mining supplies into before they found the new one, the monsters will enter the shed looking for the body and start eating, we ignite the explosives and scare them, and then we scare them more, now do you have any more questions or do you feel you are quite done wasting the time we have to do this?”

“Actually, I do,” Ben said, the blood metaphorically boiling in her veins. “Do you intend to simply massacre these ‘monsters’ before laying eyes on them? From the reports I’ve garnered, they can be reasoned with, and what you are suggesting is murder. I’ve got a compromise for you. Rather than blow up every creature just hungry enough to get close to your cow, we can stage the explosion a little way off-- enough to startle them, impress them, maybe even hurt them if they’re too close to the entrance-- but far enough that nothing dies unnecessarily. Then we ‘scare them more’ as you so uncouthly put it-- or, rather, issue them a strict warning-- and, once we’re assured of their compliance, we let them go to what remains of their homes in one piece. Is this acceptable, Mr. Salvantas?”

He looked at her. “First of all, I do not intend on killing them at all, that is the exact opposite of what the plan was, unless you allowed the Goblins to give you explosives they made for the purpose of digging the mines when I asked you to get the ones they use for show and flare, if you failed that task then yes, your plan does make the most sense, but if you managed to accomplish the task of getting the right kind then the most harm that will come is brief blindness and shock, they are eating something they assume to be perfectly normal, and then the blast startles them and sends them out of the shed, into us and a few... ‘friends’ that will be arriving to the party, you will intimidate them while me and my associates keep them from running, that was the plan, unless you of course failed at the task I asked of you.”

Ben narrowed her eyes at the man. “I don’t like the way you talk, Mr. Salvantas, and I don’t like the way you think. Playing with fire is one thing, but even a weak charge can occasionally have a greater-than-usual effect, and this is people’s lives you want to play with.” She tossed one of the sticks at him, as though to make her point. “I’ll stage the explosion close enough to what you want, far enough to be controlled.

“And I don’t like the way you keep your hand so closely guarded. If you’re working as part of a team, you need to know what your partner knows. I’m sure the members of Heroes Unlimited are so efficient if you’re as good at sharing pertinent information with them as you are with me. I can’t force you to be open about what cards you have up your sleeve, of course. All I can do is hope to hell that you don’t intend on getting both of us killed, and have a word wherever I deem necessary about your methods once we’ve finished this.”

He raised his hand and opened it showing her a cut across it. “Tell me something Ben, have I ever once disrespected you until this time now?” he asked, looking at her. “No, actually I remember on the journey here I told you about hearing of your missions and being impressed by you, being glad that I met you and would be working on this mission with someone as competent and strong as you, it is you have have shown me no trust and has offered nothing but jeers, so you will ever so excuse me if I find it a little hard to keep such a partnership that you speak of, you immediately assume the worst of me simply because you know nothing about me.” He dropped the stick and stepped on it. “The man who gave the Goblins the formulas was quite knowledgeable of these devices and the Goblins are not a stupid race, I have seen their craftsmanship or I would never have thought of this plan in the first place, so before you go accusing me of having bad methods or intentions to murder creatures who are only following their natural instincts perhaps take a page from your own book and ask me about myself, you might be surprised what happens when you take the time to ask someone about themselves instead of instantly assuming I am planning to kill you when you sleep.” He sighed, pulling off a convincing sound of sorrow. Blank might not feel human emotions, but he was a master of faking them. “Your plan also holds water, and is quite intelligent, I would be honored if you set them up.”

“You’re wrong,” Ben told him quietly. “I don’t assume the worst of you; I assume nothing at all of you, because, as you acknowledged, I know nothing at all. I don’t make my judgements based on rumour and hearsay, only on what I see. You have shown me little reason, thus far, to think well of you, or to trust you, and so, until that changes, I will not. I will not walk on eggshells for you, and I cannot rely on your assessment of safety unless you happen to be an accredited expert in the subject. Believe me when I say that I could think so much worse of you than I do now; be thankful that I don’t. And now, while I’m certain it would be as informative as you suggest for us to get to know each other better, we do, as you were so hasty to remind me just moments ago, have a mission to finish. I recommend we get cracking.”

Without waiting for a response, Ben took the pointed end of her ceremonial shield, and, using it as a spade, hacked at the ground directly in front of the cow carcass. She dug until she had hollowed out a little crevice just under the meat. Planting the charges she held there, she piled dirt back on top until only the fuses poked out from the little mound. She stood, dusting off her hands. “You see? Now everyone can be happy. Shall we proceed?”

“You make the mistake of believing that anything makes me happy.” He walked out of the shed and looked up and around and noticed it was quickly becoming nighttime. “The creatures will be here soon, when they arrive we need to be ready.” He stuck a knife next to the fuse and pulled out a throwing dagger and began to move away. “Be ready, and do try and be scary.” He closed his eyes and allowed Salvantas to take back control over their body. He quickly bandaged his hands and smiled. “Okay then, let’s do this, partner.” He nodded at her and whistled to himself lightly, getting ready for the attack.

***

The chittering creatures looked much the same as Jenny had described them to Ben. Their bright eyes seemed to illuminate the dark of the night as they exclaimed over and over about the “Food! Raw food! So hungry! New food!” that they found waiting for them. In no time, the seven or eight creatures of their little raiding party were clustered around the cow carcass, devouring it greedily.

One, two, three... Ben began to count silently from when the creatures had gathered around the meat. Before she reached seven, her partner, hidden in this darkness, had activated the fuse; the explosion, coming as it did from right beneath the cow, set off a loud BANG with an accompanying flare of light from within the very animal the things had only moments before been practically suckling at. Alarmed by the noise and terrified by the bright light, the creatures were sent scurrying backwards, away from the blast, into, presumably, the waiting arms of Salvantas and whatever he had with him.

Determined not to let this unknown quantity become a contingency plan, Ben stepped up immediately from around the shed where she had been waiting, emerging in time to be illuminated by the last vestiges of the light the explosion had caused. Drawing her sword, and holding it aloft to glint like her armour in the light of the moon, she addressed the creatures, projecting her voice as she had been trained.

“Listen up,” she boomed. “That little glimmer of light, with the noise? That’s nothing to what we can do. Your teeth and claws aren’t going to make a dent in me, and they’re no match for this.” She brandished the sword, sending the closest of the creatures scrambling back, away from its tip. “You want meat? There’s meat aplenty to be had in the forest off dumb animals like this one here. Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself: if we could do worse than that pathetic flash, why didn’t we?

“Good question,” she continued. “The answer is because where we come from, we have rules. We don’t slaughter sentient creatures, such as yourselves. Of course, those rules cut both ways. Whatever the reason for your presence on the surface, and wherever fault lies, you are here now, and, as such, you are subject to those rules. The goblins, for their part, did not know that you were on the other side of the rock when they damaged your home; their level of blame is thinner than yours for wilfully attacking them. Call off that attack now, and limit your carnivorism to beasts rather than people, and your people will have earned your right to stay. Fail to heed my warning, and I will be forced to conclude that you are not as thinking as we had assumed-- in which case, all bets are off.” Ben didn’t like having to issue threats like this; she liked even less knowing that she risked having to fulfil them. Not that she would have minded some proper combat instead of all this wishy-washy negotiating, but these spindly creatures were not the sort of enemy she craved, and she knew, deep down, that it was better, even necessary, to talk and threaten if it meant that this way she could avoid a bloodbath.

“Eat, Devour, Kill the woman!” one of the creatures yelled and made a move to attack her. Before he could make good on the move a sharp whistle rang through the night air and the creatures was knocked to the ground by a rather large Timber Wolf. Suddenly multiple pairs of red eyes surrounded the once underground creatures, each one giving a low threatening growl warning them not to make any sudden moves. The large wolf stepped off of the creature and began to back up to help form the circle.

Salvantas moved forward from the darkness a smile playing about on his lips. “I would listen to her if I were you, she is crazy scary when she gets pissed and hates having to make this kinds of speeches, so allow me to wrap it up,” he snapped, and the wolves all howled at once. “She could kill you, these wolves could kill you, hell if we wanted you would all be dead right now, so run off and tell your little group that if they want to start shit we have a lot of bloodthirsty wolves, really scary warriors dressed in metal armor, and the ability to instantly summon explosions from anywhere we wish. And then after you tell them that, remember the lady’s suggestions, and follow them.”

The creatures, not needing to be told twice, disappeared off into the night. Ben pursed her lips. “Well. That was one way of handling it.” She turned to where a small cohort of goblins waited, watching to ensure that the two humans fulfilled their promise.

Salvantas blew a whistle and the wolves broke off into the night, their debt repaid to him. He walked over to her. “I freed this area’s wolves from a beastmaster once, seems that after contact with their magics animals gain a little more intelligence, just enough to know that when a debt is called in repaying it is the right thing to do.” Smoke ran over to him and Salvantas picked him up and pet him on the head. “Good boy, I knew you would be great on this mission.” He put him down and turned to Ben. “And you were great as well, nothing less than what I expected from someone of your reputation, I know that we might not get along and all that, but I still hope you accept my thanks for being my partner on this mission.”

Ben nodded sharply, less than interested in the man’s pets. “Appreciated. We’re not finished yet, remember; we still need to go through the formality of getting Legias’ papers signed, or we haven’t got the goblin alliance.” She jerked her head at the watching goblins. “Time to pass on your testimony, boys.”

He walked forward and began to speak Goblin. The exact meaning would be lost on her and almost anyone else, but to summarize it was basically a list of their deeds that day. From turning back a pack of monsters without a single death, to him summoning a group of wolves like an army, and even going so far as to point out how he brought them in a large number of creatures to do some of the more difficult chores in the city.

The chief nodded his head and agreed to sign the papers, not wanting to look like the smaller man in front of his entire village. Salvantas bowed to the goblin and shook his hand before turning to Ben and offering her the papers. “Here, take these back to the city and claim whatever reward is being offered, I need to stay here and hammer out the small details and make sure that the Kobolds that recently arrived are treated correctly.”

Ben rolled her eyes at the man’s talk of ‘rewards’, but she pocketed the papers he passed her. She turned before leaving the clearing, her gaze sharply following the man who remained behind. She would bring Legias word of the signed treaty... and perhaps a few other matters, as well.
Lead by example. Get lost in a swamp.

AS DICTATED TO INSTANTIATION 17-01-18-01.
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