A Land in Chaos 5

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A Land in Chaos 5

Postby Khellandros » Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:24 am

Link to A Land in Chaos 4


With the simple action of relaxing his fingers Khell killed yet another man. The arrow he had released had been precisely shot and the soldier fell forward with a cry of pain and surprise. He had relieved one of the men threatening Jasmine, giving her a better chance to face the current threat. Khell allowed himself a smile as he noted the man made no action to try to stand. His arrow had done more than just strike down that soldier. It had caused the Flurin soldiers to realize there was another threat coming from somewhere in the trees. For many of them there was no time to consider that fact as they continued to fight the Faith soldiers who were now trapped and surrounded. Khell had a perfect vantage point to watch the battle, and he was grateful to see that no Faith soldiers had fallen, though many were exhausted and wounded. It would not be long before the men started to fall, and once their defensive circle was breached it was only a matter of time before the larger group of Flurin soldiers overran them. With that in mind Khell drew another arrow and hastily knocked it and fired. To his enemies, Khell’s arrows seemed to fly randomly from the bushes, though to the elven hunter each arrow had a very specific purpose. Not only was his intention to take down an enemy soldier, but also to relieve specific allies. He did everything he could to keep their disadvantages down. Whenever several Flurin soldiers targeted a Faith soldier it would not be long before one of them found a long, barbed wooden shaft protruding from their back.

Khell managed to get a total of five arrows off before his threat became too great for the enemy to ignore. Although the Flurin soldiers were attacking without order or direction, one man began to distinguish himself by shouting commands. It took some time for his authority to be recognized, but soon the Flurin soldiers moved into a more solid fighting force, making themselves more prepared to take the hillside. Khell watched as this took place, and cursed as he shot an arrow at the new commander. The shot missed its intended target, but managed to strike a Flurin soldier as he ran to change position. The wound was superficial and it was clear the man was still capable of fighting. The commander, however, realized then how close he had come to being shot by the hidden sniper. Before Khell had the time to reach back and knock another arrow nearly a dozen soldiers had been ordered to ferret him out of the bushes.

Khell moved, his steps light and silent under the battle waging not far away. He stayed low as he moved, not wanting to be spotted. He could hear the Flurin soldiers trampling branches in their search for him. He knew they were spreading out to comb the area, and if he remained he would undoubtedly be found and killed. His own attacks had drawn more attention than he had initially expected, and Khell knew he wasn’t prepared to face such a large number of soldiers at close range. He took comfort knowing that he had pulled a fair portion of the force away from his allies, but comfort would do him little good if he was killed here. Khell heard a crack of a branch no more than four meters to his left, and immediately he dropped to the ground. The grass that was growing here was tall, but not nearly enough to conceal him. His clothing and the density of the trees became his only protection. Knocking an arrow, Khell held his breath. He was fully exposed, and should the soldier happen to turn in the right direction he would stumble right onto his position.

Even before Khell could finish cursing his luck for being trapped like this the soldier moved into view. The soldier carried an axe and small shield and walked confidently. Again Khell cursed as the man began to move closer to him at an off angle. Within two heartbeats the soldier was standing no more than two meters away, though his attention was off slightly to Khell’s right. It was almost a miracle the man didn’t notice him yet. The soldier’s eyes were scanning a level height, and he rarely looked down, which was Khell’s only saving grace. Khell’s lungs began to burn as he feared taking a breath. The shield was a concern, as Khell drew his bow. The sound of the string being drawn taunt caused the soldier to turn to look at him. Khell could only describe the soldier’s expression to be one absolute terror as he saw the elf lying on his back with a loaded bow drawn and targeted. The soldier opened his mouth to call a warning even as he attempted to bring his shield up to block. Khell let his arrow loose, and at such impossibly close range Khell heard the shaft clash against the shield. The soldier stumbled back as he let out a warning shout. Khell was already moving to his feet the moment his hands were free.

The pursuit was on, as the soldiers began to close in on him. Khell began to run, even as his fingers fumbled to pull out another arrow. He noticed then that he was beginning to run dangerously low. Khell sprinted between trees, and over low bushes. No matter how fast he ran he could hear the dull tread of footfalls close behind. Khell’s heart raced as much from fear as from the exertion of the run. He could now say with absolute certainty that he knew exactly how the game he had hunted felt. Khell didn’t have the time to look behind him, and for all he knew his predators were gaining. Khell did everything he could to lose their trail. His movements were random, but still he could hear them mere steps behind him, and their numbers were growing as more men came to join the pursuit. Then from the corner of his eye Khell saw a soldier coming from the left. Somehow the man had found a way to flank him. Without a choice Khell turned the other way, feeling the noose of their trap beginning to grow tight. Panic began to grip him as he realized he was coming back to the mountainside that he had just escaped. He knew that once they reached the rocks he would be trapped against the natural wall. One of the soldiers behind him gave a yip of excitement as he too realized Khell was trapped.

Without a chance to consider, Khell did the only thing he could think to do. Putting his arrow between his teeth, Khell slung his bow over his back. He ran full speed, but before he left the forest to meet the rock wall, he leapt up. He timed his jump well and crashed into the trunk of a tree with his hands scarcely gripping the lowest of the tall branches. The force of going from a full sprint to a stop was more than enough to knock the air from his lungs. Still, breathing was only a secondary concern to Khell’s panic. In the same movement of gripping the thick branch, Khell pulled himself up. The Flurin soldiers took three steps past the tree before the realized exactly what had happened and turned back. Khell climbed higher, still struggling to get his breath back. He was trapped, that was certain, but he would rather choose to be trapped in a tree than against a rock wall. His perch was surrounded, and Khell could count seven Flurin soldiers that had managed to keep up with him. Khell reasoned that the others that had followed must have turned back when they failed to keep up.

Once up several more feet Khell knocked his arrow. One of the soldiers jumped up and grabbed hold of the same branch Khell had used, only to find the first arrow strike him through the throat. The soldier dropped instantly, his hands gripping the wound and choking as the blood began to flow freely down his throat. Khell knocked another arrow and took aim, though the remaining soldiers scurried for some form of cover. Without a clear shot Khell decided to conserve his arrows. He was fairly certain he could wound at least one of them from here, but every arrow was precious, and he would need to make good use of them all if he ever planned to see the sunset.

Khell thanked every god that may be looking down on him that none of the Flurin soldiers were carrying bows. He would make an easy target even for an armature, and he knew it. Finally, the soldiers moved and came together to discuss their options.
”Go back to your city now and save the bloodshed. It hardly seems fair to take advantage of your weak position. We can always finish killing one another tomorrow.” Khell called down to them, hoping to draw one of them out far enough for a clear shot. The soldier’s response was clearly hateful, but not a man moved into Khell’s sights.
”You die today elf. Your bow will make a fitting toy for my son.”

Khell remained perched in the tree, without a choice in the matter. After a few moments of huddled conversation the soldiers began to act. Those with the small shields moved forward together, trying to use the shields as a wall in front of them and above them. There were four men in total and they stepped forward slowly. Khell watched with more than a little interest. He would admit that it would be extremely difficult to get an arrow through the small gap between the shields, but neither did he see what they could be planning. With measured steps, the soldiers inched forward towards Khell’s tree. The remaining soldiers remained back and away from the danger. Khell kept his bow drawn and aimed on the men as they approached, waiting for the slightest mistake that would give him an opening. None came, and before long the men were standing directly below him. One of the men at the front shifted his shield and took out his axe. With a hard swing he took a small chip out of the tree’s trunk, his companions shielding him as he went. Khell felt the tree shake as the axe struck home.
”This will take hours. Your comrades will be dead by the time you get half way through that tree.” Khell noted, even as he continued to keep his sights aimed on the axe man. The soldiers ignored him as they took another swing, then another. Khell still didn’t have a shot, but they were doing relatively little damage to the tree. Then finally the soldier wielding the axe stopped.
”I can’t do it this way. He’s right, this will take too long.”
”Well, there we have it. I can’t get down and you can’t get up. We might as well save us all a great deal of time and go our separate ways now.”
”That’s where you have it wrong elf. We have already sent a runner back to inform our soldiers that we have you trapped, and I have no intention of cutting this tree down.” The man’s hand retreated back into the wall of shields and after a moment emerged with a stick coiled in cloth. Khell watched as the soldier set it alight and held it out to catch the bark and bottom of the three on fire.

As the man’s hand reached out to set the flaming torch against the tree Khell let his arrow loose. The shaft impaled the man’s hand, pinning the burning torch to his now crippled hand. The man’s chaotic scream gave Khell a small sense of satisfaction. In his haste to withdraw his hand the man stumbled back, hitting the soldier behind him and scattering their protective circle. Seeing his opportunity Khell drew another arrow and took the shot. He was shooting almost directly down on the soldiers, and his first arrow struck one of the other shield bearers coming down between the man’s collarbone and neck. The bolt was nearly lost from sight as it buried itself deeper. The man fell helplessly to the ground, gasping as his life’s blood pooled around him. The other three tried to raise their shields to protect themselves, but without the tight formation there were gaps Khell could exploit. His next arrow struck the already wounded axe man in the stomach. His shield had been held high to protect his face, leaving the area around his liver and legs fully exposed. Khell wasn’t able to get another arrow knocked before the remaining two soldiers made it to safety.

For the next ten minutes they remained unmoving. The Flurin soldiers were waiting for their runner to return with more men, and Khell was trapped where he was.
”Your death will be slow and painful. You have seen to that.” One of the remaining soldiers threatened. The soldier Khell had shot in the hand and stomach still lay between Khell’s tree and the soldier’s safe haven, yet he still lived. Khell knew the wound was nasty, and unless the man was treated soon he would finish bleeding out. The agonizing cries for help seemed difficult for his companions to handle, though they did not try to help him as Khell was hoping. Khell endured the man’s cries of pain not because he wasn’t merciful, but because he wanted to try and use the wounded man as bait to lure his comrades out. As of yet, that hadn’t worked.
”The way I see it, we don’t have very many options here. Either your comrades killed mine and will be coming to reinforce you, or my comrades have killed yours and will be coming for me. That is, unless your runner hasn’t been killed along the way. Nobody knows where we are, so it is entirely possible that no one will be coming for either of us. We may just have to see who can sit this out the longest, but in the meantime your friend there will be dead before nightfall. He’s doing well putting pressure on the wound with his good hand, but that won’t keep him alive forever.” Khell mentioned cynically. He knew the reality of his situation and had no way to showing his companions where he was or that he still lived.
Until lions have their historians,
tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
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Postby Vindao_Nuanni » Thu Feb 22, 2007 5:36 am

Nuanni circled lower still, bringing herself close enough to easily distinguish everything that was happening below. With the addition of the smaller secondary force, the Flurin would be forced to fight a two front battle, but with the ambush no longer an option it was entirely possible for the Flurin soldiers to make an escape. Nuanni could not hear any of the words being spoken below, but it was clear that neither force was interested in destroying one another. There would be other days and other battles. It was then that she noticed a light fog beginning to lift from the ground. It was a curious sight at first, but soon it grew thicker. The two forces became lost under the blanket of grey.

”This was caused by a mage, but I could not spot him before the fog concealed their positions.” Nuanni informed her rider, who was also watching the spreading fog with interest.
”The fog may be as much a blessing as it could be a curse. It will give our forces time to fall back to the tree line, but it is also possible that it will force a confrontation with the enemy. If our soldiers move the wrong way they will be stumbling on one another.” Vindao noted, though it was clear the clash of battle had yet to renew.
”Then we will give them something else to think about to keep their minds off each other.” Nuanni circled around once more before she finally dove.

Vindao had been a knight, and trained extensively in banishing his fear, yet watching himself plummet to a ground he could not see coming sent a chill up his spine. He trusted Nuanni without hesitation, even as they entered the mist. Nuanni spread her wings wide to halt their descent. The ground was now scarcely visible, as Nuanni soared over the heads of the soldiers. Her body skimmed across the throng of soldiers hardly twice a man’s height above them. The immediate presence and terrifying proximity to a creature the Flurin soldiers knew as a renegade caused the ranks of soldiers to shatter. Men fled in any direction they could, abandoning comrades and even some weapons. Nuanni could feel the graze as the occasional arrow was shot in her direction, but there was no significant resistance.

Nuanni knew that these soldiers were aware of her capabilities, and they were wise to allow their fear to lead them. The chaos that she had just caused was punctuated by the blast of rock shattering as Nuanni released her devastating breath onto the stone above the cave entrance. The rocks shattered as the tremor-like force caused the earth to shake. Loose rocks began to shift, and then slide until a sizable chunk of the mountain came down on itself. Nuanni had already turned away, but Vindao saw that the entrance to the mine was now buried under several ton of new stone. The mines had become a tomb for those fallen and left behind.

Nuanni circled once more, ensuring the soldiers beneath her scrambled away in their haste to escape from the creature of destruction they had all learned she could be. There was no question that the Flurin soldiers feared her. They knew better than most what the purpose of the dragon riders were in battle, and it did not fare well for the foot soldiers of the army.

They began to pull up and out of the fog. Bringing them higher, Vindao noticed that the Faith solders had begun gathering at the forests edge. It appeared as though they had taken full advantage of the cover offered to them. On the far side of the fog Nuanni spotted the first group of Flurin soldiers retreating. Their pace had slowed with the threat of a dragon no longer biting at their heels. Over a short time both forces had completed their withdrawal.

Satisfied, Nuanni landed in the clearing connected to the area the Faith soldiers were standing. Vindao dismounted before Nuanni began her metamorphosis. It took a quarter hour for more stretchers to be built to carry the rest of the wounded, but before long they had begun the journey back. Vindao was not surprised to see that Dravven had taken command of the group. The soldiers all looked up to him and followed his orders without hesitation. Still, he walked unsteadily, and it did not take a medic to notice the blood that had matted in his hair. Nuanni led as the two approached Dravven.
”Was the mission a success?” She asked, even as she looked over at the stretcher carrying the unconscious Vaalic.
”We accomplished what he came here to do. There was some loss of life, but the toll we took on our enemy’s makes our soldier’s sacrifice not in vain.” Dravven said as he stepped over a fallen log.
”Will Vaalic survive?” Vindao asked as his eyes lingered on the unconscious man. Dravven looked troubled, but simply nodded.
”I believe so, but it was nothing short of a miracle.” Dravven answered. Another man approached them, his pace quicker as he worked to catch up.
”Did everyone make it away safely?” The man asked Dravven as he fell into step.
”Every man breathing is either walking or being carried. Thank you for the concealment Strife, and your help in getting us moving in the right direction was invaluable. That is quite an exceptional skill you possess.”
Nuanni allowed herself to fall back a short distance as she listened to the two men continue their conversation. This man, Strife, was the mage responsible for creating the fog. Nuanni knew enough about sorcery to know that altering the weather was a rare gift, and a very powerful one. It had the power to destroy kingdoms if it was not properly controlled. Equally as important, Nuanni knew that the weather was something she could never combat, which made Strife an enemy equally dangerous to Lenox.

Lenox had the ability to tear her flesh away with teeth and claws, but Strife would be able to create a maelstrom that would batter her and Vindao to death. She took a moment to ponder this new development before turning to Vindao.
”That weather mage is a considerable threat to us.” She began her voice low so as to not be overheard. Vindao moved close to whisper his words into her ear.
”I have come to the same conclusion. He is a threat to us, but he is also one of the few actually capable of threatening Lenox. Should this pact fail, he could be instrumental in aiding us with Lenox’s downfall.” Vindao reasoned and gave Nuanni a moment to think. Finally she leaned in to whisper back.
”Perhaps. He would certainly make a powerful ally, but we must be wary. If he begins to show signs of aggression towards us we must deal with him swiftly. I would sooner deal with Lenox alone than to be assassinated by the mage.” She answered in a tone Vindao knew was final. He fully agreed, but was willing to make an attempt at friendship. With a nod both Vindao and Nuanni picked up their pace and caught up to Strife and Dravven. The two men had continued their conversation, and Vindao waited for an opportunity to get involved. He would try to stay close to Strife in hopes of gaining his friendship. Social situations had never been something either of them excelled in, but they had little choice but to try.
The harder you train, the harder it is to surrender.
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Postby Jasmine_Eclipse » Fri Feb 23, 2007 2:32 am

The battle endured longer than Jasmine would have preferred but she was working together with the Faith Soldiers and Khell hiding in the bushes providing flank. The battle was deadlocked, the Flurin army wasn’t advancing and the Faith army managed to ward of the Flurin’s attacks and fortify their position. Jasmine found the soldier that was assuming the commander role for the Flurin army when she saw Khell shoot an arrow in his direction. The arrow missed the commander and hit a soldier instead. This gave away his position and the commander ordered almost a dozen soldiers to find Khell. Jasmine drew a quick breath and began to panic. She wanted to go help him but she was approached by two more Flurin soldiers who wielded sword and a mace. Jasmine looked out of the corner of her eye and saw the group of soldiers running deep into the forest, most likely after Khell. Jasmine prayed for his safety and would look for him when she was finished with these soldiers.

Jasmine took a step forward towards the swordsman and slashed the right arm holding the sword, rendering a deep wound. His arm began useless as he barely held onto it giving Jasmine enough time to plunge the dagger deep in his chest. She gave it a quick twist and pulled it out, facing the maceman. Jasmine side stepped, missing the swing from the maceman. Jasmine kicked him middle of the chest, making him stumble backwards. Jasmine used this opportunity to cut a long wound from his belly button to his chest. He began to bleed profusely and fell forward onto the dirt ground.

The Flurin numbers were now dwindling and the Faith outnumbered them by a noticeable difference. The Faith Army began to slowly push forward towards the Flurin while maintaining their protective circle. The Flurin commander yelled for them to retreat, and the Flurin army turned around and retreated away from the mines. Some of the Faith soldiers pursued after some Flurin soldiers that were falling behind and gave them a quick death. The Faith army shouted a cry of victory as some of the Faith soldiers focused their attention on the slaves again. Jasmine looked around for Khell but there was no sign of him in the forest nearby.

Minutes later, one lone Flurin soldier ran into where the battle just took place and stopped and stared. All of his comrades were now gone and all there was left was the colors of the Faith army. Jasmine noticed him and began a quick pace to catch up to him. He immediately got spooked and ran the way he just came back into the forest.
”Get him! We need him alive! Jasmine yelled as five Faith Soldiers followed Jasmine in the pursuit of the Flurin runner.

They ran through the forest over fallen logs, rocks, and debris. Jasmine led the chase, clearing the rubbish with ease. She ran to the point where her lungs burned and her legs ached but she pushed through the pain. The only chance she had of finding Khell was finding out if this man knew any information. The dash occurred for several minutes with both parties doing the same speed and not really closing the gap. Jasmine paused for a brief moment to stop a Faith solider and borrowed his bow. She quickly knocked an arrow and aimed it at the runner. The arrow whizzed through the forest and stuck in the back of his leg. Jasmine quickly gave the bow back and ran after the Flurin soldier who was now limping down the path. She ran up behind him and put him in a choke hold.
”Why did you just come back to the battle?” she said in between taking in deep breaths. He trembled but said nothing. She slowly began tightening the hold, causing him to cough.
”Now I’m not going to have to repeat myself again. Answer the question.” she raised her voice, almost yelling in his ear.
”To get reinforcements.” he briefly said, looking straight ahead. Jasmine was getting impatient and drew out her dagger reached around and cut a shallow wound across his collarbone. She needed to find Khell now because she didn’t know how much trouble he was in. The Flurin soldier cried again, whimpering softly.
”Reinforcements for what? The rest of your army retreated so the battle is over.” she demanded, shaking the runner.
”We managed to corner an elf who we were ordered to capture. He was resisting so I was ordered to get more men to get him down.” he sputtered out before starting to cough again. Jasmine got butterflies in her stomach that must be Khell he is talking about.
”Take me to him now! How many soldiers are there right now?” she asked, bringing her blade to the back of his neck.
”When I left there were six soldiers that were fighting him.” he responded as Jasmine released her choke hold and had him stand in front of her. ”March. You aren’t in much of a position to try anything so I suggest you cooperate with us.” she gravely said, getting impatient. He reluctantly began limping forward through the forest with Jasmine and the Faith soldiers following, heading east towards back towards the mountainside.

They started to come to the edge of the forest when they saw a rock wall ahead. Jasmine stopped and surveyed the situation. She saw five soldiers left, with one that appeared to be wounded and four were focusing their attention on a tree. Jasmine looked up and saw Khell crouched in the tree, watching in anticipation at the Flurin’s movements. Jasmine nodded to the Faith soldiers as they began to advance silently on the unsuspecting soldiers.
”Ambush!” the runner yelled, giving away their position. This made the four able bodied soldiers turn around and run after them. Jasmine was furious as she stabbed him square in the back close to the spine. The Faith Soldiers quickly engaged the Flurin in a skirmish as Jasmine went to rescue Khell. She came up to the tree as Khell started to climb down. When he came down, she gave him a huge hug and didn’t want to let go.
”Are you okay? Are you hurt?” she asked with concern, hoping he was okay.
”I’m fine, just knew I was in trouble since I had no way to indicate where I ended up when I was running away from them. I guess they didn’t like me taking them out from the forest and shooting at their commander.” he smirked as they drew apart and looking back at the three dead Flurin bodies on the ground that was taken care of. The Faith soldiers stood there watching them, waiting for orders. The one soldier by the tree with a stomach wound bled out.
”What happened to the others? What was the outcome of the battle?” he asked, curious to what happened back there.
”The Flurin retreated into the woods so everyone else is waiting back where we were just fighting. We better head back and find the rest of our group.” she smiled and squeezed his hand. ”Thanks for helping me out back there, I’ll explain everything later.” she whispered in his ear and he nodded as they walked back towards the Faith soldiers and back where the rest of the army was waiting.
There is little in this life that could be said about all things.
A way to view life: in the height of victory, or in the depths of defeat.
"This too shall pass"
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Postby Ruakha » Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:19 am

The General was so furious he felt almost passively numb. He had been informed about the destruction of the ships in the port, effectively sealing him from the sea. He felt more like a prisoner in this city than its conqueror. He didn’t even want to go down to view the wreckage. From the reports he had received it would possibly take months to remove enough debris to get a proper shipping lane open again. Until then, both the General and his troops were cut off. He knew there were more than enough supplies to get them through the winter, so long as the enemy didn’t try to destroy those too.

Ruakha had also issued an order to be notified the moment ShadowRune was spotted. What the imp had told him was troubling, and he wanted answers immediately. It had been some hours since the attack on the ships, and Ruakha had finally made his way down to the dungeon. His men had captured four citizens they believed to be involved in the attack. Ruakha could see from the moment he set eyes on them that two were highly unlikely. One was a man, the other a woman, but they did not present themselves like soldiers. They were curled and huddled together for seeming comfort. They were both dressed in their night gowns, and it was clear his soldiers had taken them from their beds. The other two men appeared to be more promising. Fear was clear in their eyes, and the General came to stand in front of their cell.
”Show me your hands, all of you.” He said, and when no one made a motion to move the guard banged a club against the bars. The noise shocked them into motion, and each one presented their hands to the General. As he expected the two that had been huddled together had relatively smooth but dirty hands; most likely a merchant couple. The other two, however had hands callused in a way common amongst swordsmen. It was true that many farmers received similar calluses from their tools, but it was a start.

”Take those two for questioning.” He said, indicating the two men he suspected. The guard opened the cell door, with another guard standing by his side. Together they lead the two prisoners away. Ruakha watched them as they walked and noted that they did not have the even measures steps common in soldiers. It was entirely possible these men were innocent, but he had ordered his men to find someone responsible. If they had failed in that task then those two innocent men would suffer. The General intended to have them hung in the morning at the docks in reprisal for the night’s attacks. Whether they were guilty or innocent, the citizens of the city would know that these acts of defiance would not go unpunished. His inquisitors would drag any information they could, but the General was not expecting much. Ruakha was about to turn and leave when the other guard cleared his throat.
”Sir, what would you have us do with the other prisoners?” The guard asked, looking slightly intimidated amongst the General’s entourage. Ruakha stopped and turned back, looking the two cowering prisoners over. After a moments thought he spoke.
”They’re innocent, you can release them.” He said, before turning again to leave. The guard began to open the cell when the General paused and turned back.
”On second thought, you may release the man now. Have the woman washed and sent to my chambers. It has been a long day and I could use some companionship.” he said offhandedly before walking away, indifferent to the cries of outrage from both prisoners.

The General had nearly made it back to the entrance of the prison with his bodyguards leading his way when a soldier burst through the door, only to be held up by the first bodyguard. Hastily, the soldier spoke.
”General, ShadowRune has returned. I saw him go towards the Lady Angel’s quarters just a few minutes ago.” Without wasting time, Ruakha ordered his men to lead on. There was nothing standing in their way now, and before long Ruakha was walking through the halls towards Angel’s room. He came across a guard that had been patrolling the area. Although ShadowRune had insisted on guarding Angel himself, Ruakha permitted his guards to remain close enough to ensure she did not escape. Seeing the General, the soldier knew immediately the question he would be asked even before it was spoken.
”I saw him come this way, heading for the prisoners room.” The soldier said even as he stepped aside to let them pass. Ruakha wasted no time as he went down the hall and stopped in front of Angel’s door. He listened for a moment, but when no sounds were heard he nodded and one of his bodyguards opened the door and moved in. Within seconds the room was secure, with his bodyguards taking up positions all around. Angel had been startled by the abrupt entrance, and the noise of the men had awoken the child. Almost immediately he began to cry with a very high pitch scream. The noise was irritating, but did not distract the General from his purpose here.
”Where is he?” he demanded, fully aware that Angel was flush red with anger.
”How dare you!” She began, even as she picked her son up in an attempt to comfort him. Ruakha cut her off before she could continue.
”Answer me! Where is ShadowRune? I know he came here to see you.” He began to grow irritated when Angel seemed to ignore him as she whispered soothing sounds to the crying child. Ruakha took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself, and Angel looked up at him, her anger hardly dissipated.
”You are too late.” She said simply, though it was clear there was more meaning in those words than what first appeared. The General picked up on that, but ignored it. He only wanted to know where ShadowRune had gone.
”You will not find him, and he is not a dog to be summoned; just as I am not a bird to be caged.” she said, looking back down to her son as she rocked him back and forth.
”You forget yourself woman. You are my guest or prisoner, whichever you prefer. ShadowRune belongs to me, and so long as I will it he will obey my commands. Your life and that of your son depend on it. Do not ever forget that.” Ruakha snapped, before looking around the room in frustration. It was clear he had missed ShadowRune, and he knew she was right. He would never find him unless he was given a direction. Turning away, Ruakha stormed out. He knew it would be difficult, but his men were still under orders to find him should ShadowRune present himself. Leaving Angel behind with the screaming child, Ruakha began to feel the weight of the day pressing on him. It had grown late, and it was due time he found some relaxation.
True power does not come from wielding a sword.
Rather it comes from influencing those that do.
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Postby Khellandros » Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:29 pm

The journey back was a long and difficult one. Khell learned rather quickly that he was the only one amongst them that knew the route back. He had been a hunter and tracker for all his life and he had an eye for the seemingly invisible trails most would miss. It was for this reason that Khell was forced to the front of their disorganized and slow moving column. They were all exhausted and most of them held one kind of wound or another. No one had been critically injured, and they could all walk on their own, which did help to speed their progress, though only slightly. They stopped often for breaks as was required. The slaves were malnourished and the extended walking was something many of them had trouble with. They could certainly do with a meal and a dip in the river. Khell was not opposed to the idea himself. The dirt, dust and blood stained his hands and clothing, giving him an un-kept almost barbaric appearance. Jasmine walked by his side, skipping nimbly over fallen logs and large rocks as they wound their way through the more dense areas of the forest.

They had traveled nearly an hour in utter silence. Each one of them focused on putting one foot in front of the other in the attempt to make it back to camp. Khell continued to promise himself that rest would come when they finally reached their destination. The elf did not see the problem with resting for the night under the comfortably open canopy of trees that surrounded them. It was not a popular choice with any of the others, and so they pressed on. Reluctantly one of the soldiers fell into step beside Khell and Jasmine. Khell nodded a greeting to the man, and continued on. Finally the soldier moved close and leaned over to be heard as he spoke softly.
”We might have a problem.” The soldier began; his comment getting both Khell and Jasmine’s full attention. The soldier cleared his throat and looked around nervously before continuing.
”I’m not sure we should be taking all these people back to camp.” The soldier said before following Khell up and over a fallen tree lying in their path.
Once they were again on even footing, the three resumed their conversation at the head of the column.
”Why not? These people need to go somewhere and find food and rest.” Jasmine countered. The soldier nodded his agreement before continuing.
”I agree fully milady, but I am concerned about the security of the camp. I mean, I know these people have been through hell, but what if one of them chooses to betray us to the Flurin to gain their favor. I am not suggesting this is the case, but only that it takes only one disloyal citizen. It is not like they are soldiers; at least not most of them. There is nothing to stop one of them from running back to sell us all to the Flurin.” The soldier suggested, looking behind him to the column of soldiers and slaves that followed. Khell thought about what the man said, but didn’t fully agree with his skepticism. Yet, he did see where the man was coming from. They were but a few, and they had to think of the security of the army in general.
”Then we will make camp in the forest and I will go speak with Christopher myself. He will know what should be done.” Khell answered, and the soldier nodded, agreeing with the idea. Khell wanted to help these people, but he couldn’t risk exposing his allies, no matter how remote the chance may be. Khell couldn’t say why the soldier had come to him with the problem, but then he reasoned it must have been because he was the one guiding them. Instead of going directly to the Faith encampment, Khell circled wide around and after a few more hours of steady walking he called for them to stop.

The sound of water could be heard in the distance, and Khell needed to listen to gather its direction. Once he had his bearings they set out again, and soon came to the river’s edge. He knew the Faith camp was still an hour’s steady march upriver but its edge rested along the river. It would not be difficult to find now. Khell was uncomfortable speaking to groups but he still called for their attention. Once all eyes turned to him, he froze and his mind went blank. He hesitated a moment too long, and Jasmine stepped up to cover for him.
”Let’s stop to rest and take an opportunity to clean ourselves up. We shouldn’t pass up this opportunity.” Jasmine called out to the group. Her suggestion came with mixed responses. Some wanted to just continue and reach the camp quickly, while others were grateful for the chance to rest and clean. Khell began speaking with the same soldier who had voiced his concern before.
”You should start a fire to warm anyone who goes into the water. Share whatever food we have and keep everyone comfortable. I’ll go ahead and speak with Christopher. Don’t let anyone leave here until I get back, and do what you can to keep everyone calm. I’ll be quicker by myself and I will be back in a couple hours. If all goes well we will still reach the camp before nightfall.”
The soldier nodded his understanding before turning away to start giving orders. While the former slaves and soldiers made their makeshift camp ready, Khell slipped into the forest. He didn’t want anyone to see him go for fear that it would raise suspicion and cause more problems than it was worth. Once he had crept out of the line of sight with the camp Khell began to move faster. He paused suddenly when he heard a branch snap from behind him. He knew without a doubt that he was being followed, and Khell moved to conceal himself amongst the mossy hills of the damp forest floor. He did not have to wait long before his pursuer closed on his location. At first he thought perhaps the soldier’s concerns were valid. If that were the case, the man following him may be a spy.

Another branch cracked under someone’s weight, and the figure came around the corner and into sight. Khell let out a sigh of relief when he saw Jasmine following the route he had taken. She paused then and looked around, unsure on where to go next. It was clear that she could not see Khell from his concealed vantage point.
”This is a dangerous area to get lost in.” Khell called out to her before coming out of his hiding place. She flinched slightly, startled by his shout and sudden appearance.
”I’m coming with you.” She said firmly, and Khell could see the stubborn resolve in her features. He knew there was little point in arguing with her.
”I’d love the company. Let’s go, we still have a long walk ahead of us.” He said with a smile as he jumped down from the hill to land slightly behind her.

With just the two of them they made excellent time. Without the need for constant rest breaks they had nothing to slow them down. Within a half hour they had reached the outer perimeter of the camp. Khell knew what to look for in the hidden sentry positions, and when he spotted a hidden watch hole he called out to them.
”Hail brother. We’ve returned from the mines but were separated from the main force.” Khell waited a moment. After several minutes of silence, there was movement and two soldiers emerged from the near hidden watch point. Their weapons were drawn, but not held threateningly as they approached the two. The dirt and blood that covered both Khell and Jasmine was evidence enough that they had been through a conflict.
”Is it just the two of you? How did you get separated?” He soldier asked skeptically.
”There was a cave-in at the mines and we could not escape the way the others did. We are not alone, but the others are waiting a fair distance away. We wanted to consult with Christopher before bringing unknown people back to the camp.” Jasmine answered calmly. The soldiers looked to one another, and then nodded.
”It’s good to have you back.” The soldiers stepped aside to let them pass. With thanks, Jasmine and Khell continued on their way. It was now only a short time before they reached the camp. Although it was evening now, the camp was still buzzing with activity. Water was being boiled on every fire as men and women both hurried about their tasks. Khell and Jasmine made their way through the camp to reach Christopher’s tent. They were stopped by the guard who waited outside. Khell introduced himself and requested to speak with the General, but before the sentry could respond the tent flap opened and Christopher looked out. He appraised the two battle worn people standing in front of him, and then motioned for them to enter.
”You two look like you’ve been through hell. What can I do for you?” Christopher asked as he sat down behind the wooden desk in the center of the room. Khell went on to explain their situation and how they had been separated from the main force and been forced to return separately and in the company of several unknown slaves. He voiced the soldier’s concern about spies and betrayal, and asked for Christopher’s input into the situation. After a moment’s thought, Christopher answered.
”I thank you for bringing this concern to my attention. I hate to admit it, but bringing uncommitted men and women back to the camp could pose a severe security risk. We can never be fully certain about anyone, but we can certainly reduce our chances for exposure. I would suggest giving the men a choice. As free men let them make a choice. Ask for those who are willing to fight to step forward. Those that do, have them return here where we can properly arm them and prepare them for the battles to come. Those who do not have the stomach for battle or the strength to fight should be taken to Faith Hills. Princess Serah is currently there attempting to rebuild the fallen city and is caring for all other matters of state, leaving us free here to focus our attention on the war. She could use the extra men and women to help in her efforts.

”You two should go and get some rest. Get those cuts looked at. Tell me where these others are. I will send a scout to retrieve them.”

Khell and Jasmine exchanged looks before Khell answered the General.
”With respect sir, I would like to go back for them myself. I would not feel right just leaving them behind like that.” Khell answered, and he knew he spoke for Jasmine as well. Christopher looked them both over seriously, his interest piqued.
"I see. That tells me a lot about you. I know you are both tired and the gods know you deserve rest, but may I ask a favor of you? Please, think about it before you answer and do not be afraid to decline." Christopher gave a moment for the gravity of his words to sink in before he continued.
"We are intending to transport the women and children to Faith Hills for their own protection. I need someone capable of leading them and protecting them. We have already begun this process, but it is moving too slowly. It may be a dangerous journey, and one that may need to be made more than once. Along with this I have a message for princess Serah and it must reach her quickly. It would be disastrous if it should fall into the enemy’s hands."
Christopher sat back in his chair and gave Jasmine and Khell the time they needed to consider the request. Neither one spoke a work to the other, but with one look they had their answer.
”We would be honored to deliver the message and provide an escort.” Jasmine stated confidently. After a moment’s consideration Christopher nodded.
”I thank you for this.” He said before reaching behind him to unlock a large chest that had been resting behind the desk. He opened it and retrieved a scroll case.
”If you intend to make the journey to Faith Hills, please deliver this report to the princess. Take whatever supplies you require before you depart, but please have your wounds bandaged before you set out. I will send one of my scouts back with you to retrieve our waiting comrades.”
Jasmine took the case, and the two of them left the command tent.
Until lions have their historians,
tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
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Postby Jasmine_Eclipse » Sat Mar 10, 2007 6:12 am

Jasmine placed the case with the note from Christopher in her pocket as her and Khell turned around and left the tent. They went outside and stood off to the side, facing each other and checking out their battle wounds.
” We look pretty horrible hey?” Jasmine chuckled giving a wide smile, meanwhile secretly wincing in pain. ”I think we should get bandaged up first; I am quite concerned with the large wound on my head and the several cuts on my arms. You don’t look so hot yourself” she eyed Khell up and down noticing he was in rough shape as well.
”I’m okay but I agree we should visit the healer before the rest of the army gets here. Besides if we didn’t have any scars or cuts then we wouldn’t have had much fun fighting.” he grinned back, taking Jasmine’s arm and headed over to the medical tent.

There was only Derrik, the older doctor by himself in the tent since Jurret was with Vaalic and his army back at the mines. There were numerous cots open for the time being; as soon as Jasmine and Khell walked in the tent Derrik took one look at them and hurried over.
”Oh my lord, what happened?” Derrik asked with concern, focusing his attention on Jasmine’s wound on her head. He brought them over to sit down on the cots to relax. Jasmine and Khell proceeded to tell him their story of what happened at the mines and how they were split apart from the main group. He listened intently as he began taking care of Jasmine’s wounds.
”I see.. Where is Jurret, is he okay?” the doctor asked, wondering about his comrade.
”He was with the main group the whole time, we haven’t seen them for quite some time but I’m sure he is okay. The rest of the army should be here soon, just as a warning that you’re going to be very busy. We were victorious, but a battle isn’t without the wounded and injured.” Khell said as he watched the doctor finish cleaning all of Jasmine’s wounds and began stitching up the open cuts and sores. Jasmine winced in pain as the herbs and other ointments that were applied to her stung and felt like her skin was burning. He proceeded to wrap up her cuts and worked quickly as Jasmine started to feel a bit better. However, her muscles ached and throbbed, and she was tired. The doctor quickly finished up with her, and she laid down on the cot briefly.
”Do you mind if I lie down for about half an hour, until Khell is finished? I just need to rest briefly and we need to head out very shortly afterwards.” Jasmine murmured as she drifted to sleep.

Moments passed when Jasmine felt a tender touch on her shoulder. She stirred and slowly opened her eyes to Khell crouched over her. He looked much better now with his cuts tendered to, and his hand bandaged up.
”Do you still need to rest more? You asked to be woken up when I was finished...” he softly spoke, concerned for her well being.
”No, that’s fine. I just needed to shut my eyes briefly, we still have a lot to do…” she said as she stood up, feeling a bit light headed. She briefly shook it off and turned to the doctor.
”Thank you for everything, I appreciate it. I hope everyone else who returns from the mines will fully recover.” Jasmine smiled as they exited the tent. It was dark out and the camp started to calm down with mostly soldiers standing around and a few men doing odd jobs. They headed over to the supply tent to pick up some more rope, a whetstone, cloth, and some random items. Then they picked up several days worth of food and water for their journey ahead. They quickly stopped by Christopher’s tent before heading out. The guard let them pass as they walked in and found Christopher with a guest. He looked up and walked forward to greet Jasmine and Khell.
”That was fast, are you ready to go? This is the scout that I promised will accompany the able bodied back here. He has gathered a small group of fifteen women and elderly for you to transport to Faith Hills. I hope you won’t encounter any difficulties. Please keep me updated with your progress.” Christopher smiled as they shook his hand and the tall scout joined them. They left the tent and met up with the awaiting group.

Khell took lead again and the group followed the river’s edge back until they reached the Faith soldiers and slaves huddled around a fire. Some were sleeping while some were wide awake, waiting for orders. They slipped in behind the group and found the soldier that Khell left in charge. He was standing off to the side observing the camp and occasionally checking his surroundings. Khell got his attention and brought him over to the side to talk. He smiled and looked relieved as their guests went to join the others around the fire.
”What did Christopher have to say?” he inquired, ”He shared the same view that you had that we do not want to create a security breach. However, he wants to give the slaves a choice. Either they willingly fight with the Faith for the upcoming battles, or those who cannot or do not wish to participate come with us to Faith Hills. They are attempting to repair the city and can sure use the help. This scout will lead you back to the camp safely as we continue on with our journey” Khell indicated as he nodded.
”When should we head out?””You should head out as soon as possible. That way it will be even more difficult for the men to remember how to get to the camp in the darkness and through the forest. We will stay here for the night as it is not safe for the women and children to travel in the dark. What is your name by the way?” ”Aaron” he replied, ”Thank you Aaron for everything that you have done, it has definitely been a huge help. Jasmine turned to Khell, ”Do you want to get everyone’s attention?” giving him the opportunity to speak this time since she did last time. He shook his head no and stepped aside. Jasmine took a deep breath in and yelled to the group.
”Can I get your attention please?” she looked over the camp. Some people were sleeping, and they were woken up by the others. Soon everyone was alert and turned their attention to Jasmine.
”We have been instructed to offer you a choice. Either you can fight for the Faith Hill army during the upcoming battles and head back to camp with Aaron. If you do not wish to participate or are unable to, you will accompany me and Khellandros to Faith Hills. They are restoring the city and can provide you with shelter and protection. Please decide quickly since the group going back to camp will be leaving shortly.” she announced and saw the mixed reactions of the group with a mumble going through the crowd. Aaron collected the existing Faith Hills soldiers as well as willing able bodied men and young adults. The women and children, elderly and wounded gathered around Khell and Jasmine. Aaron nodded as the scout took the lead and headed back towards the camp. Jasmine turned to her group, there appeared to be around thirty-five people left.
”We will rest here for the night and will head out early in the morning. If you have any questions or concerns please ask me or Khell.” she instructed the group as she went off to the side with Khell.
”Looks like I get to rest more after all” Jasmine smiled as Khell laid down beside the fire. She went next to him and put her head on the centre of his chest and closed her eyes.
There is little in this life that could be said about all things.
A way to view life: in the height of victory, or in the depths of defeat.
"This too shall pass"
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Postby Jasmine_Eclipse » Sat Mar 10, 2007 6:13 am

Sorry, double post..
There is little in this life that could be said about all things.
A way to view life: in the height of victory, or in the depths of defeat.
"This too shall pass"
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Postby Killean » Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:01 am

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Dravven spoke at length with Strife about some of his other talents, things that might be of use to him in the near future. Dravven carefully picked his words so that Strife would do most of the talk, leaving the warrior time to read between the lines and judge his character. During the entire conversation though, Dravven was slightly distracted by the weird feeling creeping up and down his back. More than once did he look back, only to meet the gaze of Vindao and Nuanni, the creeping feelings. When he looked away from the pair, he tried to convince himself that he was only being paranoid, that he could and should trust the pair. Perhaps it was just the tension of being so close for many days to a strong egoist like Nuanni he thought after each occurrence. Dravven could only shake his head slightly with frustration as a result.
After a few moments of silence had passed, Strife gradually backed away and Dravven was again alone. As the group came up to a bend, Dravven suddenly realized that they were getting close to the camp. At their current pace if they began to circle, they would close in on the camp in under two hours. It occurred to him then the matter of security. They were transporting a large number of citizens, some of whom would never be fit to join the army, and could get scared and return to the Flurin. Dravven sidled up next to his second in the dragon knights and gained his attention briefly.
“Keep watch for the scout ahead, try to keep everyone calm. I will return briefly, I just need to speak to one of the other commanders.” To which the soldier gave a nod and took point of the group.
Dravven quickened his pace to reach the scout that acted as the beacon to connect the smaller groups that they had broken into. Before Dravven even had to ask, he picked up on the location of the leading group which was comprised mostly of soldiers. As a courtesy though, Dravven bowed his head to the scout who confirmed the location to him as he passed. Hurrying a little more now, Dravven caught the group and found his way to the commander.
“Dravven, what can I do for you?” The commander asked as Dravven got close to him.
“A concern for security regarding the liberated citizens.” He replied, trying to keep his voice low so that only they might hear.
“Yes, I am aware of the potential threat. We will soon be approaching the northern river path where we will stop for the time being. The slaves will be given a choice to join the army or be transported to Faith Hills. I was going to speak with you then to see if you could act as escort. With such a large group as I am expecting, I would feel better knowing that a dragon was guarding them.”
Dravven had to think about this for a moment. Sure, being escorted by the dragon would keep most from closing in on them. But if soldiers were to engage the group, Dravven could do nothing without jeopardizing the pact made with Lenox and Nuanni. Again this entire business made Dravven feel like his hands were tied behind his back. And he did not like the feeling one bit.
“That is fine… However I would like to speak with Christopher before we leave with a private matter.” Dravven said slowly as his mind raced around the thoughts of the pact.
“That’s fine, I didn’t expect you to leave right away. You will need food for the group, which you can bring back. You can continue forward when we stop, just remember to stop and greet your brethren when you get close.” The code word for the sentries to recognize a friendly. Dravven smiled and nodded his head before starting his walk back. The return trip was considerably faster, and he was next to his second in no time.
“We stop once we reach the river. I will be heading for the camp ahead of the main group. Again you will be in charge of the group when I leave.” Dravven spoke quietly to the soldier.
“Understood sir.” He replied and moved back into his original position, leaving Dravven as point again.

As an interesting twist once the group reached the river, to everyone’s surprise, those who they thought had fallen within the mines were fine and sleeping next to a fire by the river. Dravven however would not spare a moment though, so he asked for a reminder of which way to go from a scout and off he went. He walked at a normal pace at first, though he quickly gained a little steam once he was out of sight of the main group.
Dravven kept a keen eye open for the subtle markers that the sentries left about to inform fellow soldiers that they were entering the perimeter. He almost missed the sign but he caught a glimpse and he slowed his speed. When it got to the point that he was sure he was being watched, Dravven stopped.
“Hail brother. I return from the mines victorious this eve.” He spoke into the silence. After a couple tense moments, Dravven saw a face appear from within the shadows to his left.
“You return alone?” The soldier asked in a cold tone.
“Indeed. I have urgent business to discuss with Christopher, and so I traveled ahead of the force so that I may speak with him before he becomes busy.” The sentry absorbed Dravven’s answer and looked him up and down for a moment.
“Go ahead. Welcome home brother.” The man said motioning with his head to go on, before disappearing into the shadows again.
Continuing at the hastened speed Dravven was soon greeted by familiar sights and smells. His first mission was to locate Christopher if he was walking about the camp, which he was. He and those who remained behind were preparing the camp for wounded, the new recruits, and the transfer of some of the families. Christopher noticed the burly warrior as he approached him, and smiled, or at least managed some what of a smile.
“Dravven, hello. You return ahead of the group?”
“Yes. I must speak to you in private if you can spare a few moments.” Dravven replied with such a serious look on his face. Chris gave a brief nod and led Dravven into his tent, where he got closer to the general.
“I cannot do it, I cannot hold this façade for any longer as it tears at my honest spirit.” Dravven uttered in a quick tortured whisper. It was Christopher’s turn to return Dravven a serious look and reply, such that meant Dravven had to be careful with his next words.
“Continue…” Was all Chris said. Dravven went silent for a moment, his conscience trying to stop him, but his knightly spirit urged him forward.
“Over a week ago, Nuanni, Lenox and I had entered into a contract to stop all dragon related hostilities towards civilian and soldiers alike. This pact was sealed with the return of Lenox’s rider, Teodor.”
Christopher’s eyes opened wide, he felt as if he had been stabbed in the heart by this man he had always admired. Dravven closed his eyes, not able to stand staring at the confused and pained face of his friend.
“If it counts for anything, I made sure that Teodor was bagged and could not see any directions to the camp. But Christopher, I could not pass up this deal. If there was a chance to stop any slaughter caused by the dragons, I had to take it. Even at the great cost of my idleness.” Dravven continued to whisper in an attempt to console the general. It took him a few moments to grasp the situation lain at his feet before he could speak.
“I cannot even begin to explain how much this news pains me, but I have no choice but to respect your decisions as the protector of this land. I’m glad however that you brought this to my attention now before any plans were made for your use. Why tell me now though?” Protector of the land, a title Dravven thought that was long forgotten. He was given the title as protector when he was rediscovered with the dragon spirit, spoken of in many old legends and tales. But after seeing his friend’s reaction, he didn’t feel as though he deserved that label any longer.
“I spoke with one of the commanders, and he suggested that I should guard the convoy of civilians to Faith Hills. If someone were to attack, I cannot defend them for fear of breaking the pact.” Christopher understood now why Dravven had decided to return ahead of the others. He was thankful he did and informed him of this information.
“I see. I will assign a some soldiers, including your dragon knights to guard the convoy.” Dravven cut in just as Chris finished, “That does not mean I cannot be of any use as a dragon. Chris, you must still make open plans as if what I said here never happened. Please. None must know of this conversation. Plan with, but plan without. Keep the dragon knights here; just assign a small group of soldiers disguised as civilians with me. I might not be able to kill any Flurin soldiers, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make their lives miserable if they try to attack.”
Christopher went silent as he started to think about what Dravven suggested. When he was finished, he gave a quiet nod and the ‘sort of’ smile again.
“You had best return. Inform the commander to give the slaves a choice between joining our ranks or to go to Faith Hills. Also inform them that I want the casualties to approach first, the willing and soldiers to come in small waves after that. Rest while you can with the remaining group, your civilian soldiers will be joined with a few families from here with food, and will arrive in the morning. If you can convince them, join with Jasmine and Khellandros who are camped next to the river with more slaves.” Before Dravven left the tent, he turned around and bowed his head in thanks to Christopher. When he left, he felt relieved, though cautious about facing Vindao and Nuanni.
-神恵「争い」癒す
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Postby Khellandros » Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:18 pm

Khell remained with the small group of unarmed civilians and former slaves. Those capable and willing to fight had been lead on through the forest to reach the Faith camp, while those that would be led to Faith Hills remained camped for the night. The rest was something they all needed, but there were those amongst the group that did not like spending the night outdoors. Still, it was far better than the slave camps. Khell remained quiet as he moved about the camp, talking to only those that approached him, and even then only briefly. He had always found it difficult to adapt to so many different faces. His life had always been relatively sheltered from the rest of the world, and it had given him a certain discomfort to social situations or large crowds. He soon found himself seeking out a familiar face. Someone he was comfortable around.

Jasmine had adapted quickly to their new circumstances and had been instrumental in ordering the small cook fires made and organizing the soldier watch rotation. It was curious, that although she had no official rank in the Queen’s army, her orders were not questioned and were often carried out quickly. Khell thought it may have had something to do with the way she made an order sound like a suggestion; as though it was the only logical way for something to be done. The basics of the camp had been cared for. Their perimeter was being watched, food was being cooked, and many had already found comfortable places to lie down and rest. It had since grown late, and the sun had fallen from sight; plunging their camp into an eerie twilight, with the small fires giving off hardly enough light to outline the camp. Jasmine smiled as Khell approached, and she dusted her hands on her pant leg.
“I think that about settles it. Everything seems to be in order.” She said, as she scanned the small camp with her eyes.
”We can set out first thing in the morning then. You should get some rest. It will be a long hike and we will be rising with the sun.” Khell suggested, seeing the lingering effects of exhaustion in her eyes.

There was a shouted greeting off in the woods, and both Khell and Jasmine looked quickly. Whoever had called out was not within sight of their small camp, and within a few moments a man was led into view by one of the slaves that had been keeping watch. Khell recognized Dravven immediately, and though he had not known the man personally he had heard more than a few stories of his exploits; some more believable than others. Dravven was accompanied by several serious looking men dressed as common as anyone amongst them. Khell’s eyes quickly picked out the cloth covered bulges the men carried on their backs along with miscellaneous traveling supplies. To some, they appeared no different than traveling peasants, but Khell would guess otherwise. These men were too well fed, and capable to be mere civilians. If he was a betting man, Khell would put his money on Dravven’s entourage being soldiers.

”Greetings Dravven.” Khell said as he approached the knight with Jasmine at his side. ”To what do we owe this visit?” he asked the stern faced knight.
”We have come to accompany you in the journey to Faith Hills.” Dravven said pleasantly. Khell returned the smile. Having a small group of soldiers with them would improve their chances of arriving at their destination safely, and it was something Khell welcomed. Not only that, but Khell wanted to take the time to talk with Dravven. If even half of the stories he heard were true, Khell expected the knight to be good company.
”We’re glad to have you. Come, eat with us.” Khell offered, leading the small group into their modest camp. This night would be one of rest after the struggles of the afternoon. In the morning, they would begin their journey to Faith Hills.
Until lions have their historians,
tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
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Postby Killean » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:31 pm

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It was with a light heart that Shadow sauntered down the corridor with his hands behind his back. The moment of tranquility however was ruined when his thoughts reminded him of the threat he was now under. The demons demanded blood be spilt, yet Shadow refused with mind, body, and even soul. And so he knew that he must keep a keen eye open for any attack. Although hell could only cause pain, they still cannot kill him, or personally harm any to get to him. So if all that could be done was pain, they would be wasting their time on him. His path was clear and pain would never cause him to waver.
As Shadow walked, he stopped the moment he found a window and opened its shutters. Looking out into the Freeport night his mind begun to wonder what was to be done from here. He was now entering a game of chess with a dangerous opponent, one with far more resources and probable intelligence. And what made matter worse was the fact that his opponent knew every move he was going to make. Regardless Shadow had to think of something.
“I saw him come this way, heading for the prisoners room.” Shadow picked up on someone talking and moving in his general direction. He instantly gathered that someone was looking for him, however it didn’t matter who. Shadow wanted some alone time at the moment, and even Vental would be bothersome to him and his thoughts. Shadow quickly looked behind him for a place to hide, however there were no doors close enough for him to enter. The only quick way out was through the window. Without hesitation Shadow leapt up and held his body out of the window. With much strain he lowered his body over the edge, pulling his head up and letting his feet drop down.
Well, this certainly is an odd position to be in. Shadow thought, and he most certainly was correct. He was hanging onto the ledge of a window, backwards, with no foot holds to speak of, and his strength rapidly deteriorating. Curious of the drop, Shadow looked below to the ground in hopes that none were beneath him gawking up. In case his fingers finally gave way and he crushed the poor fools. No one was visible though, which was good. Planting his feet against the wall, Shadow let go of the ledge and kicked back. He prepared for the landing well enough, letting his legs collapse as he touched ground and then he sprung forward in a roll. Looking back to the window he just recently escaped from, he thanked his lucky stars for not being so stupid this time. He could vaguely remember his last few exits from extreme heights and the pain that came soon after, which his former self delighted in so very much.
Before Shadow released himself, he caught the glimpse of what looked like a church steeple, roughly only a couple blocks away. Such a place would be perfect to think, and no one from the Flurin would expect him to be there. Without saying or looking at anything, Shadow walked past the guards at the gate and proceeded towards the church. And although he wasn’t walking clearly in the open down the streets, he did not make a huge effort to disguise his route. Without much trouble Shadow found the church he saw from before.
Shadow moved around the building, studying its design, looking for the easiest way to climb up. Such luck was his when he found a ladder against the church wall and some supplies next to it. Apparently this church was in need of repair.
I should be careful if the roof is damaged. I could end up inside the church, and I can only assume the worst then. Shadow thought as he climbed the ladder quietly. His worries were alleviated once he got to the top and saw that the roof was the color of fresh wood, but Shadow still took some time feeling his way across the plane with his feet. His path remained as true as the strength of the newly lain planks, and soon he found himself looking for a climbing route up the steeple.

The only things I have left in this world are Kayin and Angel. Were I to lose them now, I feel as though I would revert back to the creature I have fought so hard to destroy. Shadow stopped climbing momentarily and sighed. After a quiet moment of looking down, he looked up to the starry sky seeking solace from any benevolent source. However when he did, he was overwhelmed with the feeling of rejection and isolation. Why he felt this way was a simple answer that any could understand.
He who looks up is a fool… Even if my freedom was granted by a caring soul, the rest is up to me now. I must remain in con… Shadow’s thoughts suddenly stopped when he realized that he couldn’t breath. He just finished climbing and had slipped into the steeple and gently touched the metal bell. He tried desperately not to panic, but the urge was close to overwhelming. Shadow thought for a moment that perhaps this was a torture administered by the demons of hell, but something was off. His skin begun to crawl and physically burn, in addition to the lack of breathing. He felt wrong, very wrong. Desperation finally hit and Shadow scrambled for the edge and climbed out. The instant he left the steeple he felt fine again, his breathing returned to normal and his skin started to heal.
A thought instantly surged through his brain that he felt like kicking himself over, Demons and sanctified holy ground, such as the inside of a church, even the steeple, are typically best left far from each other. Shadow took one last glance inside and shook his head.
Fine. They still won’t think to look for me on the roof of a church. Looking down to confirm the route of his decent, he gave a confident nod and began to climb down.
I must remain in control at all times. Regardless of any attachments I have. I must cleanse myself of the deeds I have done. At least then I can die with a little hope in the hell I am destined for. But there has to be a way to do this, and keep my promise to protect Angel and the child. But I know of no way except to allow that creature to control me, and fight all who come close to her. It is all I have ever known… Shadow sighed. He finished climbing down, and was now laying on top of the church with his hands propping up his head. Which I suppose is my curse. I shouldn’t be discouraged, but this is one fact that I can never be rid of. But would killing in the name of protecting her be any worse then what I was doing? His thoughts went silent for a moment as his brain found it’s way into a loop trying to answer the question.
“No!” Shadow shouted at the top of his lungs breaking the loop his mind fought over. No. The answer is obvious. What I did before is inexcusable, and that is what brought me to this situation in the first place. I can still protect her without killing! But I still need to fight, and for that I will need my blades. I no longer wish to use those given to me by the place I wish to rebel against. So that leaves only one alternative… I need to see him, again.

Shadow cautiously picked his way through the back alleys of Freeport until he reached a long strip of old houses close to the port. As he got close his paranoia increased as he heard increased activity which he thought to be Flurin in origin. However it didn’t sound like a search party for him, it sounded as if there was some sort of panic or alarm on the docks. Shadow sure wasn’t curious enough to investigate, and he doubled his efforts to stay hidden as some of the citizens had been woken and naturally were curious enough to pry. He didn’t really have to be hidden to visit his old friends place, but the chance to be seen and sold out was too great.

Safety was at last his when he turned down a back alley and found his way inside a door. The sight Shadow was greeted with did not surprise him much, though its meaning could lead to a sad conclusion. The workshop was dark, stale and lifeless. What gave away the fact that it had not been used in ages, were the large cobwebs that were on almost every angle in the shop. If his friend had finally perished, then surely there would be no harm in Shadow helping himself to any relics that remained. Casually he walked over to one of the storage boxes to begin his search. The moment he touched the lid and opened, dust began to fly in every direction. Shadow coughed and swatted the air in front of his face to clear some breathing room. Once things had settled enough, peering inside Shadow found a dozen swords or so. Some were new, some old and rusting. All of such a simple and yet balanced design, exactly this crafters style, something Shadow always admired about him.
“Hello?” Came the call from another room. The sudden noise shocked Shadow enough that he twitched and dropped the lid of the box. It came down with a crashing thud, kicking even more dust and debris into the air.
“Who is there?” The withered voice sounded again. Shadow recognized it to be the voice of his friend, which made him feel a little better knowing he had not passed on yet. Holding his breath in the dust cloud, Shadow stood and walked for the voice. Slowly a door opened, revealing his friend who was trying to hear instead of look into the room.
“Surely you have nothing to fear of an old feeble man. As much is clear since you have not run away. And do not think to hide yourself, as I am nearly blind and such an activity will only burden you.” Shadow stopped moving a few feet away from the door the man occupied. Shadow knew he knew he was there, as his hear was always as acute maybe even more so then his own.
“In all the years I have known you, feeble has never been one of the words I would use to describe you.” Shadow replied in a soft voice so as not to break the silent ambients. The old man tilted his face forward, and stepped into the shop.
“ShadowRune? Surely I would have thought you dead by now.” Their common greeting ceremony had begun, but this time Shadow felt a little sick to his stomach as he truly was dead this time.
“And I you, Thairus. Time has been cruel to us both.”
“Both, ShadowRune?” Thairus cocked his head, perplexed by what could have been done to the Ninja.
“You have been stricken blind, and I…” Shadow paused, looking for the right words. “I, am no longer a mortal being of this world.” Thairus was even more confused by his words and cautiously took a step forward. Though his fine senses quickly filled in the missing pieces when he could no longer feel any presence in the room.
“Indeed? Then you’ve come to haunt me for my sins, have you? Or perhaps to claim my soul for the personal hell that awaits me?”
“Never speak of hell, even in jest!” Shadow shouted at the old man, boldly stepping forward and grabbing his arms tight. After a tense moment, Shadow released his grip on Thairus’ arms and tried to calm himself down.
“I apologize. If you are not here for those reasons, then why may I ask are you? Perhaps you are looking for more swords and knives?” Shadow’s silence was enough of an answer for him. Just as Thairus sighed and began to move, Shadow acknowledged his judgment with a sad tone. Thairus stopped moving and turned around quickly.
“What did you say?” His words came out harsh and fast, which startled Shadow at first.
“I said yes…” Shadow began to sink with his next words, “that is why I have come.”
“And why do you need my crafts? Perhaps to destroy more lives?” He accused Shadow, revealing that he knew more about this assassin then he should have. Thairus’ words stung the waking conscience inside Shadow, a pain that hurt but cleansed his resolve of any doubt in his new chosen path.
“No! Never!” Came the panged shout from Shadow’s lips, to which the old man was quickly to ask, “then why should you want a blade?”
That was the exact question Shadow asked himself. Why does he need a blade, if not to kill? He was about to say ‘Because it is all I know’, however he stopped himself from saying that, and looked back on why it was he came here. To protect, to change.

“I need your steel to protect the one I have wronged most foul.” Shadow’s demeanor slipped back into his usual dark, confused sadness.
“You speak of the young whelp taught by Domianos? The hero of Faith?” Shadow shook his head in reply, though it clicked in soon enough that Thairus was in fact blind and could not see his physical expression.
“Not him. His wife… and her…” Shadow faded off, not being able to stomach continuation. Thairus crossed his arms and turned away from Shadow, disgusted by the direction his imagination had taken his thoughts. The fact that Shadow, who had always been vocal and a keen observer of emotions, did not even bother to protest was confirmation enough.
“Such a foul demon you have become.” Thairus wanted to cry, knowing that he had played a part in the creation of this monster. Surely that act alone was enough to engrave his invitation to hell.
This inquisition was getting to be too much for Shadow. He started to feel ill and was on the verge of dropping to his hands and knees from the heavy burden on his shoulders.
“I have paid for my deeds, and will continue to pay when my death comes again. But when I was reborn from the flames of hell, and I looked at the one I hurt, I recognized the pain I had caused. It scars my memories worse then the flames themselves! I have vowed to lessen her pain, and as many others as I can so long as I remain on this world. And for that,” Shadow looked up with determined eyes, “I need your blades. It is the only thing I know.” Thairus snorted in grim amusement when he heard Shadow proclaim his ignorance. With folded arms he turned back to face the demon, his expression alone giving Shadow the answer he was expecting.
“I will not give my steel to you for such a duty. With it, you will only bring more suffering. More scars, and more pain.” It was like his thoughts had taken shape in front of him, accusing him of being blind. However Shadow was beyond frustration and confusion, and his mind had shut itself off from seeing the obvious.
“Then how if not for a blade in my hands?” ShadowRune shouted. Thairus took two great strides to walk up to the assassin and smacked the dark elves forehead, and shouted in return, “with this!” The old man then grabbed both of Shadow’s fists and held them up in front of both their faces, and continued, “and these…”
“If you are truly wanting to protect someone, then sacrifice of your own flesh, not that of your enemies.” Thairus grabbed both of Shadow’s shoulders when he spoke these words, trying to instill some confidence in this mans natural talents. Shadow on the other hand shook his head in defiance, thinking the weapon smith insane.
“And what if my enemy has a blade? What use can I be to someone if I am weak from steel cutting my flesh?” The old man laughed in ShadowRune’s face, releasing his grip from his shoulders. Without saying a word, the weapon smith confidently moved over one of the many chests lying about and drew two standard short blades from within. Without bothering to look, he threw them in a fluid motion to the waiting hands of the demon. From there he walked over to the kiln and reached over the top, there he grabbed what appeared to be a pair of gloves of intricate design.
“You are fast assassin, you always have been. But no matter how fast you are, your blades will never get past my hands. It even doesn’t matter how strong you think you are, for that steel will never injure my flesh.” Thairus confidently boasted as he walked up to Shadow. He stopped a mere five feet from the deadly creature, just the perfect distance Shadow would need to attack without fear of his opponent reaching him with fists. And Thairus knew that Shadow was mocking him and his words, with his usual cocky smile. Which he was. A true innocent smile that had vanished from his face for such a long time.
“Quit yer smilin’ and prove me wrong hole crawler.” Shadow hummed in amusement. Again it had been some time since the last someone used a racial slur to insult him.

Shadow first met Thairus many years ago when the city held fighting tournaments. Thairus was a young man then and he had such flair for fighting, that most thought he was possessed by some noble spirit. While others would use some kind of weapon, he fought with his hands, adorned with the very gloves he now wore. The first match Shadow witnessed was against the father of Vaalic, Caleb Demonshire, who was practically a kid then. The match lasted for a few moments as the two studied each other, but it ended anticlimactically within a couple seconds. When it came time for Shadow to face the weapon smith, he could scarcely believe the talent he possessed with his fists. In the end Shadow threw away his sword and fought Thairus on his own ground and beat him into submission.
With this in mind Shadow knew he didn’t have to careful with him, but he feared using all his strength as he was now a changed demon. His strength and speed has since increased exponentially, and he could seriously injure his friend. So to start things off, Shadow gave a rather standard attack that Thairus could easily defend against. Insulted by the weak move, he ducked under the swing and moved right into Shadow’s face. Before he could move away, Thairus’ fist cleanly cut into Shadow’s face, breaking his nose. His assault did not end there. While Shadow was stunned from the blow, Thairus connected a firm punch to his stomach. As his body clenched from that blow, the old man grabbed his head and roughly introduced it to his leg. Shadow flew up and down onto his back, staring in disbelief at Thairus who returned to his attack stance.
Before getting up, Shadow waited for his nose to reposition itself and heal from the two sudden blows it had received. He noticed that his unnatural healing was getting slower, a sign that hell was fueling their unholy gifts less and less. Getting back to his feet, Shadow grabbed both the blades that he dropped and stood at the ready. Thairus was much faster and stronger then it seemed possible for his old frame to handle. And since this was true, Shadow had no need to hold back knowing his friend could handle an all out assault.
Shadow lunged forward in his low stance and swung both his blades in to cut the old mans feet from under him. Thairus leapt up and forward, pushing himself over Shadow’s shoulders. As he flew past a table, Thairus grabbed a stool that was sitting on top and he slid across the ground. Twisting his body before he stopped, he released the stool towards the waiting head of Shadow who got up, but had yet to turn around.
Shadow turned around just in time to see the wooden stool shatter across his shoulder, dislocating it. His left arm suddenly went weak and he dropped the sword it was carrying. This sudden fact though wouldn’t stop him from trying to prove some what of a point. As he advanced Shadow rotated his shoulder and pushed it back into place, which caused his body to twinge from the painful act. Startled at how close Thairus had moved up to him, Shadow returned his maneuver and grabbed a lying stool and chucked it. Without bothering to look at his opponent, Shadow reached down for his sword and picked it up. Thairus stopped his advances and grabbed the stool out of flight and gently placed it down on a table. Shadow used that delay to leap back over a table where the area was relatively free of debris and obstacles. And as he hoped, Thairus followed.
Shadow went into full stealth, slowly creeping sideways to throw Thairus off his trail. However it only seemed to work somewhat, as he got a fair distance away before the old mans head snapped in his direction and he shifted his body.
“Skulk about if you wish demon spawn, but know you this that I smell your taint. The moment you move to strike, your stealthy feet will no longer serve you.” Shadow stopped with a slide, giving Thairus his exact location. He couldn’t help but be envious of the old mans gifts, even though Shadow once had them himself. When and why did her ever decide to drop such wonderful feats?
The day I killed my master, I forsake all the discipline he taught me. All of my training meant for restraint died with him, and all that remained was that monster who wished to kill. Why would the gods be so cruel as to create a monster like this, regardless of how much he had wronged them? Shadow clenched his fist tight around the blade, building up his courage.
“Damn your divine soul Kiine. Your conflict was with him, not me!” Shadow snarled under his breath, which his friend picked up and tilted his head in response. But he didn’t ask, as it seemed like something beyond his reckoning, or even concern.
To quicken the events, Thairus knew that he had to put some pressure on ShadowRune to strike him. Without any further hesitation the old smith charged at Shadow, who was suddenly thrust back into a combative frame of mind. Startled, Shadow sloppily swung his blade for the mid-section of his attacker. Finally able to prove his point, Shadow’s sword stopped dead in his palm, which seemed to sink past the leather, but no further. The next move by the old smith he didn’t expect, though it’s not like he didn’t try to stop it with all his might. Thairus skillfully switched hands which stopped his blade, and pulled it free of Shadow’s grasp. The short sword flew fast across the room and deep into the stone of the kiln.
Shadow took a quick step back so he could grab his remaining sword with both hands, and then he attacked. His downward strike was again stopped dead as the weaponless warrior clapped his hands together around the blade. The two fought for control of the blade, which Thairus knew he could not win after a few seconds of the struggle. Realizing the futility, he positioned the struggle in a way so he could move his hands to a known stress point in most of his blades, and tried his luck. With a lucky and stressful twist of his hands the short sword shattered, leaving Shadow falling to the ground in an undignified heap, stupefied.
“Point well made old friend.” He said, peaceably getting up and standing at ease.
“You and I trained the same, and yet I a mere human have stripped you of your precious weapons, and could possibly continue to fight you into submission. By fighting with your own hands you are forced to think, and at the moment, your thoughts are clear with your convictions up front. If you continue to think before you do, your absolution and salvation will be just in front of you. Reminding you of why. A weapon will only distract you, keeping you from your goal. These are the principals we were taught, which you threw away…” Shadow interrupted Thairus by holding up his hand, “they are still with me Thairus, I have thrown nothing of my life away. Good or bad. But you are right. Such talents I have, but have forsaken them for the easy way out. My master would be disappointed if he knew, though I doubt he would blame me. Thank you Thairus, I knew coming here would be promising.”

“Leaving so soon? Stay a while and keep an old man occupied for the rest of this eve you woke him from.” Thairus complained, doing his best to sound like his age. The guilt trip worked, and Shadow graciously accepted and followed Thairus into the adjoining room. He was led into what Shadow could call a cozy sitting room, with many objects or trophies hanging about on various shelves. Thairus bade Shadow to sit in the chair opposite to his as he rummaged about the nearby fireplace trying to start it.
As the fire roared to life, the objects in the room were given color and more defined shapes. This truly was an awesome spectacle to behold. All the items were indeed trophies claimed by Thairus throughout his life. Swords, goblets, beast teeth… All of which were lain on top of intricate leather clothing, all of which had his unique insignia on them. However what stood out the most was the proud centerpiece of the room, a large portrait of the warrior that he once was atop the fireplace. There was an envious aura of strength and truth surrounding the man in that picture, which although only slightly diminished today still surrounded him.
“At the height of my youth there. It was painted by a local artist who I heard died only a few years ago.” Thairus spoke casually, knowing that Shadow would be staring at it.
“I’m envious.” Shadow uttered, brining his attention to Thairus.
“Why?”
“The man I see there, and now, has a powerful aura about him. One of honesty, and strength of self.” Shadow sighed with longing. Thairus snickered when he heard him.
“The aura of a warrior monk. Earned when he has respect for himself, and respect for others. In other words, when he has found peace within the chaos that is life.” A warrior monk was something he only heard briefly about in his time training. Basically it was the next step in his martial training. First you learn discipline, then you learned the moves, then you learn from experience, and last you learn to find the peace in all things. That was the true calling of his order, and Shadow sadly lost his way.
“I remember now. But, is it too late for me?” He asked, concerned and in doubt.
“It is never too late to find peace. You are almost there my young friend, you know of the peace in your mind. You just need to let it seep into your soul. And trust me now, before you even ask. You will know when. Just remember, don’t be distracted from what is here.” Thairus said and brought a clenched fist in front of his throat. Shadow recognized the symbol he made, for it was from his order meaning heart, mind, and soul. Or in other words, his absolution, his salvation, and his convictions. Shadow thought in silence for a while on this subject, which was pretty much the answer to his questions and yearnings. Never had he felt the peace that he knew of, but it was within his reaches, and this time he would never let it go. No, that wasn’t quite correct. He had a small piece of it in his hands now. He just has to embrace it, to understand it, and to live it.
With a nod to himself, Shadow had affirmed his absolution, and the direction for his convictions. There were still questions in his mind, but none as important as he already asked and fought so hard for. From this day on, his only obstacle would be fighting the demons inside of himself. And to stop them from within, he will stop the demons on the outside which walk amongst the innocent. Shadow’s attention suddenly turned towards the trophies, but more specifically what they laid upon. His curiosity was piqued because it was rather strange to place trophies on such specially made clothing.
“Thairus, I’ve been meaning to ask. What is with all the leather clothing you have displayed here? I see in your portrait you’re wearing leather clothing. Even now when you fought me, you wear leather gloves.” Thairus laughed at Shadow’s observation, though not in a sarcastic manner.
“The clothing, yes. I understand why you would think it odd.” Thairus continued speaking as he pulled off his gloves and threw them over to Shadow, “I’ve read that many who found the enlightenment, thought as you had.” Shadow observed the gloves and he noticed right away that there were tiny plates intertwined in the leathers design.
“Steel will never injure your flesh, huh?” Thairus laughed, this time sarcastically.
“I’m not stupid. I wear this specially made leather because I want something strong, yet flexible. Our fighting style demands the latter, but without a weapon I demand the former. And so I make my own leather clothing, laced with the metal you see.”
“Whoa, wait a moment. Why can’t I use a weapon then? We trained to use swords, knives, what have you. If our goal was to become like you, then why go through the hassle?” A valid question, something that threw his whole perspective off slightly.
“The hassle was so you learned. Nothing prevents you from using a weapon on occasion. If I ever got involved in a war, there is no way I would enter that situation without a sword, or even a club in my hands. Know when and where things are of use. Weapons are instruments of death, and should never be used until all options have been exhausted. A warrior monk is not meant to cause death. He is the martyr. He will stand in the face of death, protecting the innocent with his own body. By wielding a weapon he is no longer the martyr of protection, he is… was, you.” Use of weapons in light moderation was the point Thairus wished to impart. A concept lost, but would soon be found again by ShadowRune.

Thairus prattled on for a few hours, regaling him with stories of how he stumbled upon his current path. He too was troubled, as most impetuous youth are, and fresh out of training seeking his world experience. Many times he stared death in the face, all of which were foolishly his fault. Fearful of his death and coming to the realization of his short mortality, he began to fight for something. And so he fought only when he had no other choice, or if the cause was a just and noble one.
“The good and strong can be so stupid sometimes. They stand in the face of death to protect others all the time and yet, through experience, they learn when and where to pick fights that prevent them from facing it. Being good, and strong, is a life choice that demands sacrifice. Protect those who cannot protect themselves, and protect those who deserve protection.” The two men remained silent for a few moments before Thairus had a question of his own to ask Shadow.
“Tell me ShadowRune, although I am blind can I assume you are still using the treated plate clothing used by the clan?” He was, although it was beginning to wear. There were multiple slices and rips throughout, and more than half was burnt and tattered. All this of course was from the time he left this mortal realm unto now, which was just under a month by his recollection.
“Yes, though it could fall apart any day now.” Shadow replied, checking the condition of his clothing just to confirm his worst fears.
“By the gods ShadowRune! You are not half naked and in my presence are you?” Thairus poked jokingly at Shadow’s comment, to which he snickered, “only if I were to flex in the wrong places old one.”
“And I trust you would cover yourself eh?” Thairus scowled and replied with a harsh parental like tone. Shadow raised an eyebrow to the question. With what? His hands? That’s about all he owns besides the tatters he wore.
“With what would you suggest, he who thinks I have anything but this to my name?” Shadow asked back, his eyebrow still raised. And evil smile slowly crept on to Thairus’ face, accompanied by a light laugh.
“Why, with the weapon you requested from me of course.” Well that confirmed it. Thairus expected Shadow to use his hands to hide his shame.
“How am I to protect the innocent if I am to cover my body with my hands?” This wise remark from Shadow deserved the sour look Thairus returned. There was no doubt that Shadow was not a moron, and knew how to keep the joke alive. All the while of course, keeping a straight face and serious tone which only added to the flavor.
“Don’t you give me any of that back talk!” Thairus jokingly threatened, berating Shadow with his finger wagging.
“You’re the one who started it.” Shadow shrugged. That is when a slight smile appeared on his lips, unable to keep such a neutral expression anymore. Thairus grumbled as he stood from his chair and walked for the workshop.
“And I’m going to be the one to end it! Get in here before I change my mind!” The old man continued to ramble to himself as he walked into his shop. Shadow released breathy chuckles as he followed not so closely behind his friend.
For the remainder of the morning, well into the afternoon, Thairus made it his goal to teach ShadowRune the secret’s he had picked up over his years on how to make his special leather. Once he had finished, he took measurements of Shadow and told him to return in a few days. There would be a surprise for he who wished to change. Shadow though knew of the surprise, but he feigned ignorance to make Thairus giddy.

You say that I shouldn’t fight, and yet to protect others I will no doubt need to fight some of the time.
Listen Shadow! There is a difference between fighting someone, and protecting them! You may only see it as fighting though, because you do not know the difference.
Then tell me! What is the difference between fighting to harm, and fighting to protect?
When you fight to harm, you are aggressive. You are actively trying to destroy your target. When you fight to defend, your only goal and concern is to stop the other from being aggressive. That is your inner demon ShadowRune. Know your enemies before you move to face them, and you will one day glow as I. And I trust you know this enemy all too well.

Shadow sighed as he slowly began to walk back to the palace, running his last conversation with Thairus through his mind. There was much more to this story that Shadow did not explain, because he didn’t know if Thairus or anyone for that fact would understand.
Enemies my dear friend. Enemies. I have two aggressors inside me, and I’m not sure I can win with both pressing me for the worse… I need that stone back. Only then will I be able to control and be eventually be rid of one, or both. I hope you’re ready Vental, because we will move on him soon enough.
-神恵「争い」癒す
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Postby Jasmine_Eclipse » Sat Mar 31, 2007 6:49 pm

Once they finished eating, everyone went to lie down and get some rest. Khell and Jasmine went off to the side where they could observe the camp to ensure there was no trouble. Dravven and his soldiers stayed awake for a whole longer until everyone was asleep. Jasmine’s eyes felt heavy as she drifted to sleep. She was soon woken up by Khell’s gentle touch against her shoulder, waking her up from her slumber. The sun was beginning to rise which meant they needed to begin their journey. The small camp began buzzing with activity with the group of slaves and civilians gathering their belongings together. Jasmine and Khell joined Dravven and his soldiers’ off to the side, observing the camp.

Moments passed when Jasmine heard footsteps coming from behind her. The group quickly turned around and saw a small group of around ten civilians heading their way.
”Who are those people?” Jasmine asked cautiously, she thought they already gathered everyone who was coming with them.
”No need to worry. Those are the last of the women and children that will be accompanying us to Faith Hills at the moment. We told Christopher to have the remainder follow the river bed to meet with us in the early morning.” he nodded as he turned to greet the visitors. Jasmine was glad that Dravven and his soldier’s were with them because it would be difficult for herself and Khell to be responsible for the growing number of civilians. Soon everyone was gathered in a group together, ready to go. Dravven took the lead with Jasmine and Khell right behind him with the soldiers in the rear. Jasmine didn’t know where they were going so she stayed to the side protecting their group.

They began their long journey walking through the woods, dodging between trees and debris. Some of the people had troubles walking and stumbled frequently so it slowed them down a bit. Soon they came upon a small path that they followed. Jasmine constantly looked around their surroundings, looking for any signs of movement or a potential ambush. The only sounds she heard were of the children occasionally crying or complaining to their mothers and the shuffle of their march.

Hours passed, and they were maintaining a steady pace to Faith Hills. The sun was shining down on them, beginning to make them feel hot and uncomfortable. Jasmine focused on their task at hand and ignored the sweat dripping down her forehead. They kept walking for a short time before a small woman came to Jasmine’s side, looking up at her with big brown eyes.
”Ma ‘am, can we please stop and rest? The children are having a hard time keeping up with the group and everyone needs to stop and have something to eat and drink.” she pleaded, as Jasmine nodded and quickened up her pace to come along side Dravven.
”I just received a request from one of the civilians that they would like to take a quick break from walking. They are slowing down and I know that they cannot walk for long periods of time like we are accustomed to.” Jasmine watched as Dravven nodded and went off to the side of the path and stopped. The group gathered in a circle as Jasmine, Khell, Dravven and the soldiers circled the group protecting them. They brought out bread and drank some water, gathering their energy again. Jasmine sighed, but understood that this will take a while since a lot of the people are weak and not accustomed to long journeys.

After a short break, they assembled in a line again and began walking again. Moments later, Jasmine noticed some debris along the side of the path of broken pieces of wood and metal. Jasmine was cautious and had her dagger ready to be drawn. They were rounding a corner when they saw three bodies lying on the side of the road. Jasmine and Khell exchanged glances and Jasmine turned around and told the group to stop for the moment. They went to join Dravven ahead as they went to view the bodies. The three were dead and looked like they were eaten. Parts of their bodies were missing and were covered with deep scratches; it looked like they were mauled by a bear. Their caravan was broken into pieces a few feet ahead along the side of the road. Khell looked around at the ground around the corpses cautiously with concern on his face.
”I don’t recognize these tracks.. They are deeply embedded in the ground and the thing appeared to have run off into the bushes over there. But it seems to be bigger than a regular bear. I don’t see a bear attacking a caravan for no reason though.” he seemed confused, as he began to walk into the woods following the tracks.
”Wait! Do you really want to go into the woods after it when we aren’t sure what it is?” Jasmine worried, knowing the group would be safe with the soldiers but knew if it struck at these people out of the blue, it will attack again.
”We’d better be careful; it looks like these could possibly be dragon tracks.” Dravven grimly mentioned, ready to draw his weapon.
”Dragon tracks?! That’s not possible, why would there be one way out here?” Jasmine exclaimed, not believing it could be one. They shrugged as they slowly made their way into the woods, following the path the creature made.
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Postby Killean » Tue Apr 03, 2007 2:44 pm

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Before they journeyed deeper into the forest, Dravven signaled that he wanted two of the accompanying soldiers to follow and watch their rear. They drew their weapons and began to follow, while the remaining soldiers continued to clear away any of the more grotesque sights and kept the group calm.
“During the heat of battle it is possible that we lost track of one or two dragons. But for our sake, I hope this truly is just a large bear.” Dravven voiced quietly in reply to Jasmine’s question.
The five traveled parallel to the path for several minutes before they came across what appeared to be a cave entrance. The mouth was no more than a few feet high and wide, not enough for any dragon they fought to enter. And yet the prints they found led up to and beyond. Dravven moved up Khellandros and waved for the two soldiers to come in as well.
“Does anyone remember the terrain reports for this area?” Dravven whispered when everyone was around him.
“I remember some. There are several caves around here, most of them being old mines and the like.” One of the soldiers began to think hard once he heard Khell say this. Obviously he had heard about these caves and was trying to remember what it was. Everyone remained quiet and stared at him, waiting for his brain to yield the answers.
“I think I heard that all the caves around here connect. Ternel would know more because he used to work in these mines before they closed them.” The soldier said pointing his thumb behind him. Dravven nodded his head and moved in a little closer to the entrance. Peering in, he saw rough wall formations and a sudden drop.
“This looks like a natural vent that drops down, deep.” Jasmine’s eyes opened wide to Dravven’s observations.
“Please tell me we’re not going down there!” She exclaimed, memories of the mines she had to escape from still fresh in her mind. Khell placed his hand on her shoulder and shook his head to calm her.
“We need to know more about these mines before we enter.” Dravven said after he turned to face Khell, “agreed.” Khell replied with a nod of his head.
“You don’t have to follow if that is your wish. There are other important duties which you may perform during out decent. I want you to run back and inform Ternel and Nairin to proceed along the path to us, and then I want you to stay with the citizens and keep them calm, and safe.” Dravven ordered with a calm tone, however he noticed that Jasmine was hesitating. Her reasoning was fighting with her.
“N.. no, I’ll be fine. I’m sure what happened last time won’t happen again.” She stuttered, with confidence slowly returning to her voice. Dravven smiled, “Doubtful it will.” He sounded confident, but if a dragon was truly involved then his words would be nothing more than an assumption.
“You have the swiftest feet here,” Dravven said glancing at Khell, “grab just Ternel.”

Dravven, Jasmine, and the two soldiers stood in silence just off the path away from the cave entrance. Roughly ten minutes had passed before they could hear light footsteps and see Ternel with Khell. When they got close, they all huddled together to formulate a plan.
“I hear you used to work in these mines.” Dravven started off. Ternel nodded his head, and turned around to point out locations.
“Kind of. I only worked in one shaft, even though they are all connected by a central natural tunnel.” He pointed and explained, then turned back to the group.
“How large are the tunnels? Could they fit a dragon inside?” The ever important question.
“Not a dragon as large as yourself Dravven or Lenox, but Nuanni, or any of the other smaller dragons we have seen in the Flurin ranks, definitely. However only in the central tunnel route, with the possible exception of one natural formation chamber and it’s adjacent vent.” So in his words, the dragon has two possible exits, but is limited to the central tunnel and a naturally made chamber.
“Is there a section where he can corner himself?”
“At the end of the central tunnel. The entrance to the chamber is roughly half way in, but he will have to turn into a human to reach it from inside.” This is turning out to be a very dangerous situation.
“Alright…” Dravven said slowly while he rubbed the stubble on his face in thought.
“We need to observe what and where it is before we plan any kind of attack.” Khell chimed in, knowing exactly what he was talking about. Dravven nodded his head, “You’re right. I’ll join you.”
“Ternel, lead on to the central tunnel. I want the rest of you to stay hidden around the cave mouth and lie in wait. If we can, we will draw the creature out where you can flank it. Just remember where I told you to attack in such a maneuver.” No questions, just nods all around the group. Ternel led the group to the opposite side of the path the convoy was traveling on. After a few minutes of searching, they found a path that wasn’t visible before which led straight to a rocky cleared area. The small group was greeted by the sights of destroyed cabins, and a massive grave of bones almost picked clean. As they approached the cave mouth, Dravven waved everyone into hiding, then pointing to Khell to stay glued to the opposite wall. Without any need for an explanation, they both knew what they had to do and proceeded into the cave.
Roughly a minute into the cave, both men stopped dead in their tracks when they heard heavy labored breathing coming from within. Dravven knew right away that it was indeed a dragon that had caused all that destruction. Khellandros looked over to Dravven who confirmed with a nod that the sound they were hearing was indeed a dragon. And if Dravven was right, it was most likely just around the bend they could barely see ahead. They slowly crept up the bend with Khell in front, hoping they were wrong about it being just around corner.
Khellandros suddenly snapped back, paralyzed at the sight he just saw. The dragon was indeed there, and it was sitting up staring right at him. He never got the chance to inform Dravven of this news before the rock around them began to rumble, and a loud thunderous growl resounded throughout to cavern.
“Run!” Dravven shouted near the end of the dragons bellow, and he grabbed Khell by the tunic and thrust him in the direction of the exit.
Khell barely caught his feet on the ground and started to run as expected. Dravven was hot on his tail even though he was fully armored in chain and leather. Daring to take a glance, Dravven looked behind to see that the dragon was indeed joining the chase. But he couldn’t miss the fact that the dragon was hobbling on one side, suggesting that he was wounded. This made the situation that much more dangerous, as the dragon would not dare to leave the tunnel in case someone wished to slay it. Like this group.
Just as Khell and Dravven were about to reach to exit, the dragon stopped and inhaled deeply. Dravven harshly threw the all clothed Khell to the side of the cave mouth, and he was caught in the full fiery blast that ensued a second after. All Dravven could do was fall to the ground and huddle into a ball and hope for the best. When the fire ended, Dravven was screaming and writhing on the ground trying to remove the super heated metal on his body. In a panic he managed to throw off his gauntlets and shirt, and he ripped off the burning leather that was under that.
Slightly black in the face, a couple burns on his hands and neck, but Dravven was fine and still screaming. This time, back into the cave.
“You must do better than that, foul smelling worm!” Dravven shouted in the tongue of the dragons. Everyone heard the dragon growl back but it did not proceed to exit the cave, unaffected by the taunt in its native tongue.
When Dravven’s adrenaline rush had ended, and he calmed his nerves, he joined the others.
“It’s injured. A leg possibly broken and its wings looked badly damaged. This is its only exit, and I doubt he will be drawn out for anything.” Dravven silently updated everyone to the situation. That was a close call, one Dravven didn’t want to experience again.
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Postby Vindao_Nuanni » Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:21 am

Vindao walked by Nuanni’s side hardly fifteen paces behind Strife and Dravven. Nuanni’s ears were focused on the conversation the two were having and although their conversation was casual, she listened for any details that could be important. She quickly learned what little Strife was willing to mention about his home. That was something to note, but Nuanni wanted to find some way to get close to this man. As they continued to travel Dravven would turn back to look at them. They knew he was aware that they were listening, and it was clearly causing him some discomfort. Finally, as they were beginning to near their destination Dravven broke off from the group and traveled ahead. It was some time before the rest of the group was permitted to continue to the camp. Vindao and Nuanni remained on the outskirts of the group. It was clear that they did not blend in with the soldiers or returning slaves. They were still viewed as outsiders.

By the time their group had been given the signal to move on and return to camp the sun had already fallen low in the sky. When they finally walked past the last of the sentries and barriers into the more open area of the central camp they were greeted by the questioning eyes of those that had remained behind. Both Vindao and Nuanni quickly detached themselves from the bulk of the returning group. Their mission had been successful, and they had inflicted more damage than casualties, but there was still a loss. Each loss of life was personal to many of those in the camp. It was a cost of war, and there were none amongst them that did not understand that. Yet, it was still difficult for many to come to terms with the loss of friends or brothers. Rumors of the attack were already being spread throughout the camp, and Vindao could already hear some of the exaggerated exploits of the soldiers. There was one fact that when overheard, remained disturbingly unchanged no matter who spoke it. That was regarding the duel between Vaalic and ShadowRune. Some of the men still had trouble believing the truth spoken to them, until the stretcher carrying Vaalic came into the camp. The wounded were the last to arrive, and the sight of Vaalic's unconscious body caused an unsettling silence when it passed en route to the makeshift hospital. Nuanni motioned for her partner to follow her, as they began to walk toward the river.

They did not make it far before they were approached by a short overweight soldier. The man moved to stand directly in their path, his chin raised in self importance.
"The Commander has requested your company." The man said even as he straightened his stance to make himself just slightly taller. Still, he hardly came to Vindao's chin. Nuanni's expression remained neutral, though she could tell by the soldier's attempts at bravado that he was intimidated by them. She could see it in his eyes.
“Give Christopher our thanks for his offer, but we must decline. We have only just returned from the front line, and are in need of a meal and rest." She said before stepping around the small man. Vindao couldn't help but smirk and move to step around the man as well. The soldier put a hand on Vindao's chest to stop his passing.
"I must insist. The Commander was very specific with his orders. He would like to speak with you both immediately." The soldier's tone was firm and Vindao detected the slightest hint of a threat. Vindao looked down at the hand on his chest, barring his path.
"Do not ever touch either one of us, otherwise I will have your hand removed." Vindao's voice was low, and spoken through clenched teeth. He was in no mood for these games, and would not accept this soldier’s presumptuous attitude. Startled, the soldier pulled his hand back, almost as though he had been holding it in a fire. Nuanni stood on his other side, and the soldier looked between the two of them.
"I am sorry you feel that way, but I really must insist. I have been ordered to escort you to the commander personally, and I fully intend to." The man said before giving a nod to the side. Vindao exchanged a quick glance with Nuanni before the soldier's comrades answered his unspoken summons.
"I had hoped it wouldn't come to this, but I did bring an armed escort for you." Within seconds Vindao and Nuanni were surrounded by ten stern faced soldiers. No weapons were drawn, and no hands even rested on them. Vindao scanned the small crowd that had gathered around them as his thumb absently rubbed the hilt of his sword. Nuanni could clearly see his intention, and stepped in before he could put his plan in motion. She had watched him calculate a battle in his mind, and she knew he would act the moment he had a direction.
”Take me to Christopher. Now it is I who would like a word with him." Her voice was even, but the sense of fury was clearly felt. The dark mood had become visible in her expression, and the soldier simply nodded and began to lead the way.

They soon came to Christopher’s tent and Nuanni pushed her way past the guard and entered unannounced. Vindao was no more than a step behind her. Christopher looked up from the paper he was reading as she entered; his expression strangely neutral.
”Thank you for…” ”How dare you drag us here? I am not some servant to be summoned on a whim.” Christopher began, before Nuanni interrupted. The sudden outburst caught the Commander by surprise, but he quickly recovered.
”You misunderstand my intentions. You are here as my guests I would like to hear what happened today.” Christopher said, motioning with his hand for them to take a seat. Neither moved.
”You have Captains to give you reports. There is nothing we could tell you that they wouldn’t. If we are here as guests, then perhaps you could do away with the armed guards.”
”They were sent simply to ensure you arrived safely.” Christopher said diplomatically.
”Safely? Should we be in any danger? We are in the presence of allies, are we not? Who then, do we have to fear? It is more like they were to arrest us unless we complied with your demands. Know now: that type of action will not be tolerated.” Nuanni nearly spat, as her eyes tried to burn a hole through the Commander.
”You are a part of this army, and there is a chain of command. You will come when summoned, and you will do what is required of you. This does not have to be difficult.” It was clear Christopher’s patience was wearing thin.
”That is where you are mistaken Commander. We are not a part of this army, and we have sworn no oath to your country. We aid you of our own free will. We will answer to no one, but offer our services when we deem it necessary. You may treat us as allies and equals. Not subordinates.”
There was an uncomfortable cough from on of the armed guards standing behind Nuanni. Vindao had been keeping an eye on those men, even as they entered the tent, undoubtedly to keep an eye on him. They were not accustomed to anyone speaking so aggressively to their commander.
”You go too far! We have granted you a safe haven. Do not burn bridges you cannot afford to lose.” Christopher said, with an effort to keep his voice from rising into an angry shout.
”All bridges burn at one point or another commander. Just as no place can ever truly be called safe. Now that we are clear in regards to our position here, I expect we will have no further problems. Now, why is it you truly asked us here?” Nuanni asked, getting to the point. She knew that Christopher was not interested in a general report. He had called them here for something specific, and now that she was here she would hear it. There was a short silence as Christopher stared long and hard at Nuanni. His distaste for her was clearly written on his face.
”Tell me what you know of Lenox. He is a threat we will have to confront sooner or later. I need to know if I can count on you when the time comes.” Nuanni paused, trying to read the question behind his words.
”He is unlike anything you have ever known. He is intelligent, skilled, ruthless and loyal to his cause. If he had wanted to find this camp he would have destroyed every tree in this forest for a day’s ride in every direction. You would not be able to hide from him.” Nuanni answered simply.
”Why hasn’t he done it then?”
”Maybe he hasn’t received the order yet, or maybe he enjoys the game we’re playing. But I think it is because he is cautious. He knows that both the Silver and I are lying in wait somewhere beneath the trees. If he began flushing out the camp he would force a confrontation between us. That is something he does not want to do. I know Lenox personally, and I know what he is capable of, just as he knows me. If he forces a confrontation he will be forced to face both the Silver and I, and that is a battle he would not win. Instead he will look to isolate us. Alone, he has a reasonable chance of victory over either of us, but as much as I dislike the idea, if I work with the Silver we would be too much for him.”
”Then why not take the battle to him? Confront him and be rid of him.”
”If we go to battle against Lenox I believe we would win, but know that I am also certain that there would be at least two dragons that perish that day. Lenox will not go to the grave easily, and it is almost a certainty that he would take either the Silver or me with him. A battle between dragons is a messy business.” Nuanni’s honesty brought a troubled look to Christopher. He had clearly not been expecting that answer. Nuanni knew that the loss of the Silver would be a devastating blow to the Faith army. Christopher remained silent for a few moments, which Nuanni chose to take as an end to their meeting. Nuanni turned, and with one hard look the armed guards stepped aside to give both her and Vindao passage out of the tent.
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Postby Jasmine_Eclipse » Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:52 am

Post written by Jasmine and Khell.

Jasmine hid near the mouth of the cave when she heard a shout coming from within. Briefly after, she peered in the cave and saw Dravven and Khell running for their lives with a dragon chasing after them. Jasmine stared in shock as Dravven threw Khell to the side of the mouth, out of the way of the fiery blast that came soon after. Jasmine immediately ran to Khell’s side and helped him up. She quickly looked him over and he was scratched up and bruised but nothing serious. The sounds of Dravven’s screams echoed throughout the mines as he threw off his gauntlets, shirt and leather underneath as he was caught by the blast. He yelled at the dragon in some unknown language that Jasmine never heard of, and soon joined the group informing them of the injured dragon. Jasmine was grateful the dragon did not pursue them, which gave them enough time to escape to safety.

They paused for a moment and Jasmine thought back to when they first came there.
”Why would the dragon attack random civilians along the road? It doesn’t seem like something a dragon would normally do, they would go after animals.” Jasmine asked, confused about what it was still doing there.

Khell was panting, in an attempt to catch his breath from the sprint and to settle his nerves. He shook his head, as he glanced back in the direction they had just escaped from.
”I don’t think it’s that simple. As Dravven said, it is crippled with a broken leg and shredded wings. Even for a wounded creature, it is still incredibly dangerous. Without its wings it isn’t able to fly for aid, and with no way to mend its broken leg it will likely never heal properly. It’s a wonder the creature can walk at all. As we know, this is more than just some simple beast. It is a creature capable of intelligent though, but I think it’s been backed into a corner it can’t claw its way out of. I think you’re right Jasmine, ideally I’m sure it would like to be hunting other creatures, but most of the animals in these woods would be able to catch the scent of a dragon, and with its crippled leg it wouldn’t be able to give chase even if it found prey. It has undoubtedly been isolated here for some time. The reason it is attacking the travelers on the road comes from two reasons I can think of. The first is that men and elves are typically not accustomed to catching the scent of other creatures. Most of us spend so much time around others in the city that our senses become dulled. For that reason, this dragon could lay in ambush at the side of the road and wait for us to come to it. Secondly, with its lack of mobility it would not have to chase them far. If it managed to conceal itself close enough to the road it could spring out and incinerate the group before they realized what was happening. Then it could feast on the remains without having to exert much energy. Unless we do something about it, I don’t see this problem going away.”
The others listened quietly as Khell explained his beliefs as to the dragon’s motivation. Yet, it did not bring them any closer to finding a way to stop it.

Jasmine saw that Dravven had some burns on his hands and face. She offered him some ointment that she received from the doctor and he shook his head.
”That won’t be necessary right now, save it for later. We need to figure out what to do with the dragon that refuses to leave his cave. I suggest we fight this beast because if we do not take care of it now, it will attack other unarmed civilians. This problem will only get bigger if we don’t deal with it right now.” Dravven paced around, thinking of their situation.
”There is only six of us, and you expect us to take on a dragon? I have never had any dragon training either, so I wouldn’t know where to start. We don’t really have to fight the dragon..” Jasmine trailed off with a quiver in her voice. She had no problem with fighting men twice her size, but a dragon was a different story. She felt so insignificant compared to that beast and she knew its sheer strength could tear her apart.

”Should we send someone to go back to camp and gather more soldiers?” Khell asked, wondering what their options are.
”I agree, we need to recruit the Dragons Bane soldiers. They are trained in dragon combat and the additional bodies will definitely help. It will also give them additional practice with fighting a real dragon. We also need to send a warning in case we don’t make it so Christopher knows to send additional soldiers to finish escorting the civilians to Faith Hills.” Dravven contemplated, watching for any movement in the cave.
”Who should we send?” she asked, knowing they can’t spare any bodies that are going to be fighting the dragon.
”Send one of the spare soldiers that we have guarding the civilians to quickly run back to camp. We will have to wait for the group to return.” Dravven suggested and Khell nodded and ran to notify the soldier. Shortly, he returned and nodded ”He is on his way right now.”.

Dravven insisted on giving Jasmine and Khell a quick overview about fighting a dragon. They would have to use tactics and skill against a dragon and not rely on strength alone. The group of them would have to work together and flank the beast. They could not it to corner anyone. By staying mobile and not attacking close to one another they would be able to reduce their risk of being wiped out quickly.

The group camped out in front of the cave, blocking the exit to ensure the dragon didn’t leave the cave. They created a small camp where they lit a small fire and ate some food. Hours passed, and then the entire night passed by without sight of the runner’s return. Jasmine grew anxious wondering if the runner was able to return to the camp safely. Her head was spinning with doubts and fear that she will be fighting a dragon shortly. They drifted asleep while waiting for their reinforcements. Jasmine woke up in the very early hours of the morning to see a large group of heavily armored men approaching the cave. She stood up and woke up Dravven and Khell. They approached the commander of the Dragon Bane group and filled him in the situation with the crippled dragon. They paused to think of what was the best plan of attacking the dragon.

Khell had never hunted anything so large or dangerous before, but he had been confronted with difficulties on the hunt. One such encounter came to mind with a bear he had tracked back to its lair. That memory gave him an idea.
”We cannot charge in after the dragon. He has the strategic advantage as well as cover. We will have to overcome that disadvantage. If we run in all at once it would funnel us in and would be suicide. We have to lure the dragon out of his hiding spot and I believe the only way is by smoking him out. We light a fire and although it won’t be enough to get him out on that alone, it will disrupt his sense of smell and vision giving us some advantage.

Khell looked between the others, waiting for feedback. It was Dravven who seemed to consider the concept closely before speaking himself.
When the caves have had enough time to fill up with smoke, we split into three groups.” Dravven stopped to draw a quick diagram on the dirt floor with a stick, showing their positions and where the dragon was expected to be is.

”One group would be fanning the mines with smoke and the other two will come through the north and south entrances, closing in and flanking him. Khell, aim for his mouth and get as many shots off focusing on any of his weak spots. Everyone else when you have the opportunity, charge in and stab him a couple times and get out of there. If possible we need someone to scale the beast and attack it from behind. Remember to keep moving and keep attacking him and eventually he will go down. Does anyone have any questions?” he asked, looking over everyone. Jasmine shook her head and still was nervous about the whole plan. She looked over to Khell and he gave her a small comforting smile.

The fighters went outside and made some wooden spears from the branches as backup weapons in case any weapons were lost in the battle. They chopped down large trees, and gathered large logs, branches, and twigs and brought them to the cave entrance where they were setting up the bon fire. They tied some cloth around some planks of wood to use as fans. It took nearly three hours before the preparations were complete, and by then the civilians were terrified but unable to leave their escort. Once the preparations were made and those committed to the attack were prepared, they lit the wood pile and waited. The fire erupted and grew quickly and began producing black smoke. They had to back away from the blaze because it grew hot really fast. The smoke began to sting Jasmine’s eyes and she started to cough from inhaling the thick air. The group of them began to fan the smoke into the caves which grew thicker by the minute. They waited and then Dravven stepped forward.

”We’ll keep three men here to fan the smoke. The rest of us will have to split up. Khell and Jasmine, you two go through the North entrance. Ternel and I will go in through the South. The Dragon Bane soldiers will be split up evenly between everyone and will attack from all angles. I will give the signal to attack. Good luck. Dravven said before they disappeared to go through the tunnels.
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A way to view life: in the height of victory, or in the depths of defeat.
"This too shall pass"
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Postby Killean » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:36 pm

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Jurret was suddenly thrust back into consciousness when the sounds of a clay pot breaking came uncomfortably close to his head. By instinct his hand thrust itself down his leg and grabbed a small knife. His body snapped up, his knife hand just waiting to plunge into the enemy. In shock when he saw the person he almost skewered, Jurret flinched and dropped the knife to the ground. It was a small boy, one of the family members in the rebel camp.
“I.. I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!” Jurret hurriedly tried to apologize with his hands up in front of him. The boy bolted back and hid behind who Jurret could only assume was his mother. Both stood then, paralyzed by the dark elf’s actions.
“Please, forgive me! It’s a force of habit when I get startled from sleep.” He said, clasping his hands together begging for their forgiveness.
“It’s okay…” The woman started out slowly, “no harm done ‘sides giving the boy a wee fright.” She assured Jurret all was fine enough. Jurret cupped his hands around his head and took a few short breaths trying to wake himself, and while he was at it, wait for his embarrassment to subside. Once he heard the woman and child start moving again, Jurret uncovered his head and grabbed his knife and put it back in its place.
“Is the camp packing up to leave?” He asked the woman, who turned around and shook her head.
“No sir, just the civilians. We’re being moved to Faith Hills in the morning.” She replied, getting back to what she was doing.
“Well, thank you for allowing me to use your cot ma’am.” Jurret spoke as he stood to leave. The woman simply nodded her head and went about her duties. Jurret smiled politely and left the tent, where he was greeted with the night and several lit fires. It took his mind several moments to grasp to concept that he was out for a full day, when you consider the sheer power of the spell he used at the mines. This caused an alarm to go off in his head. He should be helping the healers right now, not wasting his time with things like sleep, or talking to himself. With his zealous determination to help those in need, Jurret marched for the medical tent even though his body began to protest after a few steps.

There was practically standing room only inside the medical tent. Derrik the chief healer for the army was rather skilled at managing to fit a couple dozen men inside such a small structure. Everyone was in here, including Vaalic and Warren…
Warren? Jurret thought, retracing his gaze over the room. His eyes opened wide when he saw his friend lying on a cot unconscious. Jurret skillfully navigated the maze of soldiers, fighting off any who grabbed at him to make his way to the sorcerer.
“Warren?” Touching concern was plastered all over his face and voice as he investigated Warren’s body for wounds. His chest was badly swollen and bruised, a wound Jurret had seen a few times in Eagles Point. This was damage caused by a concussive wave created by mage magic. Though Jurret had to be sure Warren would be alright, so he decided to perform a magical scan on his friend’s health. Jurret laid a hand gently on Warren’s shoulder, closed his eyes, and with his other hand gently began to draw invisible ruins on the patient’s forehead. Jurret was in a trance for a few seconds before answers were revealed to him.
“I couldn’t do much for him, as my magic is very limited.” The young woman named Kitiara said just as Jurret opened his eyes. She was looking down at Warren with a not so pleased look on her face, probably due to what she said to Jurret. He smiled nonetheless and briefly bowed to her.
“Thank you, you have saved his life regardless of your strength.” Jurret said, relieved.
“How did I save him?” She asked, confused as to how much Jurret was privy to.
“This damage was done by a spell aptly named the silent killer. It leaves only bruises on a persons body, and yet shreds their insides. Unless treated with magic, they usually die within a matter of hours, bleeding to death on the inside. You put a stop to the bleeding, meaning he will survive.” Kitiara smiled, knowing some good came from her talents.
“Aaaaaaaaagh!” Came a shout from the other side of the room. Vaalic suddenly woke screaming as he was during the fight with that demon. His mind was having troubles letting go of the moment. Gerran was the closest, so he approached Vaalic in a futile attempt to calm the young warrior down. Vaalic thrashed his foot out and sent the young doctor flying over a couple injured patients.
Jurret got to his feet quickly and was practically leaping over cots to reach Vaalic as soon as he began to stir. He had to calm Vaalic down quickly, and the best way to do that would be to paralyze him for now. Jurret dodged one of Vaalic’s jabs and got close enough to him to cast his spell. Vaalic, seeing only the dark elf, violently lashed out with a punch to Jurret’s face. Jurret took the punch and continued to concentrate, willing Vaalic to be stilled by divine hands. A short dull flash occurred where Jurret was grabbing Vaalic’s shoulder, and the same dull glow raced throughout his body causing him to go limp.
Vaalic continued to growl for a couple moments before he calmed down almost instantly, recognizing where he was. Jurret wiped the blood dripping down from his nose, and used an old remedy to make it stop bleeding.
“Why can’t I move?” Vaalic murmured under his breathe, which Jurret could just barely pick up.
“I paralyzed you until you calm down. There are no enemies here Vaalic. The demon is long gone.” Jurret said with a nasal tone, beginning to test to see if the bleeding has stopped.
“I’m calm, I promise!” Vaalic urged, not liking this paralytic state. Jurret sighed, wiped his nose a final time, and reversed the magic holding Vaalic down. Vaalic took a deep breath the moment he was able to, and then sat up and covered his face. Gerran during his duties with other patients, managed to get a cup of water for Vaalic on his route and almost on queue handed it to Jurret’s outstretched hand. Vaalic thanked Jurret and swallowed the cool liquid down quickly.
When he finished, Vaalic took a couple more deep breathes, then he frantically started to search his body over for the wounds of his fight. None were present.
“Why don’t I have any of the… ShadowRune, he…” Vaalic’s scattered words were almost lost to Jurret, but he understood that Vaalic’s mind was still in a state of trying to adjust to the new moment.
“You were badly wounded in the battle, after which I used all my strength to bring back all of yours.” Jurret spoke once Vaalic stopped chattering for a moment to think. Vaalic’s eyes suddenly dove beyond the tent he was in and the last moments of his fight with Shadow played over in his mind. Shadow had him, and he was ready to kill him. But for some unknown reason, didn’t strike and end his life.
“Why?” Vaalic incoherently said, replaying the scene over and over again. “You had me. Why did you show mercy ShadowRune?” His thoughts and words continued to loop over this one event. Vaalic slowly got up and started to leave. Jurret tried to stop him by placing a firm hand on his shoulder, but Vaalic brushed it off.
“I’m fine. Thank you for helping me.” Vaalic said in a firm tone, and left the tent without saying another word.
-神恵「争い」癒す
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Angel - Shadow

Postby AngelEyes » Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:44 pm

Thanks J for your opions and B for your support and Both of you for your guidance. This is only part 1, hopefully part 2 will follow before long. I'm a flake I'll be the first to admit it. Consistancy is key, keep on pushing me guys I truly need it. :)

Angel’s thoughts reeled. Vaalic lived. Shadow had spared him. Had he done it for me? What was it he was experiencing? He had felt remorse over his actions; to a certain degree something had held him back. Then it hit her, harder than before. Shadow could feel. Her heart lifted at the thought. Angel never imagined someone without a soul could feel, let alone experience or express those feelings. If he could feel remorse surely that meant he could…she stopped her thought abruptly willing herself not to go further. Perhaps though…her thought continued…his soul was not lost to him after all. If he was not so lost to her as she originally imagined than perhaps he could be saved. Perhaps their future could include Kayin’s father. Her hopes rose but the inevitable pain she would cause Vaalic weighed on her heart. She had to tell him. This step would be a complicated one, for she loved him this she could not doubt, but she had to tell him everything.

Decidedly she opened the door to her room, outside her night watchers eyed her closely. There would be no escape tonight, no Rifter to whisk her away, she would have to wait till morning. Returning the door to its prior position, she turned and went to her bed. She would need Shadow; she only prayed he would understand. This thought loomed in her mind as she closed her eyes and drifted towards sleep.

<center>Calm consumed her, she saw herself walking into their room; her and Vaalic’s room in their home here in Freeport. Kayin was sleeping soundlessly his cradle oddly placed in the middle of their bedroom. A bright light shone through the window filling the room making it appear almost ethereal. It was there; by that window that she spied a familiar physique. She reached out to him, spoke words lost to her; he hadn’t noticed.

It was then a familiar; yet distant voice clawed through her mind causing streaks of pain to linger numbly behind her eyes. “The time has come to end this my dear; this charade with your feeling for me can end.”

Her arms fall deftly to her sides, her legs felt unstable; and yet she forces herself forward…further toward the window, toward Vaalic. She needed to touch him; to feel the validity of the words. Her steps were slow, wary and deliberate. There was a sense of caution that filled her; made her not want to continue. No sooner would she come to stand by his side, would he see her. His smile was warmth to her like a blanket of security tightly ensconced about her fear. Behind him the window opened; she watched as he stepped closer his eyes never leaving hers. Angel reached for him, her eyes pleading, he only continued to smile as his form vanished out the window behind him. She rushed to grab him but it was as though an invisible wall was constructed between them.

“Vaalic!” She calls her cries unheard to his ears.

Urgency filled her and she turned to her son, Kayin, who lay only feet away. She needed to hold him, protect him and herself from her fears. Another step and darkness began to creep its way over the room. She could feel the damp chill brush over her and by the time she reached Kayin he was gone; consumed in darkness before her. Silence surrounds her like a tomb; the only sound is that of her breath weighing heavily in her chest. Panic over takes her as she swirls about feeling only emptiness. Angel searches for Kayin; tears fill her eyes hopelessness overrides her fear. The sensations she feels are similar to those she felt while in captivity, hopeless, fear, the cold empty obscurity that surrounded her.

A distant cry holds her motionless. “Kayin…” The voice was not her own, it appeared choked; aspirated. A light in the distance absorbs her attention; within a lean muscular form lay beaten and bruised upon the floor. His stark white hair and pale skin told her it was Shadow. Hesitantly she travels towards him, her eyes dart cautiously about the darkness searching for a threat.

Tears escape her as she sees him, a pool of blood lies beneath him; many of his bones appear broken. “Shadow...Kayin…” He held their son tightly in his arms, her heart flooded with emotion uncontrolled by the sight of him.

“I wouldn’t let them…Angel…Never…” Shadow coughed heavily, his words constrained as he forced them. He labored for his next breath, the light seemingly fading from his eyes. Angel kissed him; her lips only brushing lightly across his as she sobbed over his broken body. Her tears fell onto his skin, mingled with the sweat and blood there in.

“Thank you.” She said to him as she went to take Kayin from his arms. Darkness. “No…no…no…no…NO!” She screamed, her voice echoing in her own mind. His cry at her distress would not go unheard. Rummaging again, she searched once more. “Kayin…please.” She cries. “…please return me my child.” Searing red eyes surrounded her, haunted her and filled her. Angel’s heart raced, the fear rose in her blood, she cried and screamed, and no one seemed to care or listen. “Why?????” Helpless she curled into herself, hiding her face in the confines of her knees.

The voice clawed at her once more, causing pain to fluctuate throughout her mind and limbs. Her stomach churned, sweat poured from her glands, her mind screamed for the solace of a second’s peace. “You shall not tamper with our will.” It was a statement that left Angel bewildered. The cold tone sent chills through her bones, rattling her. “…death, misery, despair…will follow you all your days.” Chills reverberated over her skin, her sweat mixed with her tears. Fear, desperation, could not describe the terror she felt in that moment. “Shadow is not yours.” The words bounced around her, through her. She did not understand. Then pain, greater than she ever felt seared through her. Her body jolted in response, convulsed and shook, until it left her quivering unable to move. “He is ours…” The voice remarked as it left her.

Somewhere she heard him, Kayin, crying; needing her, as she so desperately needed him. Her body weakened, her eyes blurred she searches for him.


* * * * *
</center>
Shadow sat meditating; a calm peaceful breeze blew over him. His sense acute; his body sat poised in a reflective state. He had been there throughout the night as sleep had often escaped him. Contemplating now the results of his actions; Shadow thought often of Angel. Her kindness, authentic innocence, her compassion and gentleness, her unequivocal acceptance of him. How had it come to this? She had done something to him, made him want to change; gave him this unmistakable desire for a real existence. If not Angel, it would have been Kayin. Perhaps in meeting my son, it invoked the father in me? The further he debated, the more restless he became. He became uneasy, his body jittery, his mind jumpy. Images of Angel floated through his mind. His memories of her were erratic, but most lay with the hurt he’d caused her. It was then she appeared to him, as though a vision before his eyes; her body laid tormented, pain and distress sending a chain reaction of caution through him. When the vision disappeared he was already moving making his way through the corridors of the mansion toward Angel’s room. Within he could hear Kayin’s cries go unanswered. It’s not like Angel… Something was amiss. Those at her door gave no heed.

“How long has he been crying like this?” A few of the men shrugged, but the anger that flared in Shadow’s eyes warned them.

“A while sir. On and off for better part of the night. I have not heard the lady either sir.”

Frustrated he opens the door. Worry fills him as he sees Angel lying unconscious on her bed. Kayin stirred once more his cries drawing Shadow’s attention. Kayin… Picking up his son he cradled him in his arms. “Shhhh…Kayin. What is the matter?” He sat then on the side of Angel’s bed. Concern filled him at the sight of her. Her face contorted as though she felt pain, bruise like streaks covered the side of her face trailing down her neck. “Angel?” Shadow shook her trying to rouse her. She whimpered in response, a tear streaking her face. “Angel?” He said louder. She was unresponsive to his attempts. He laid Kayin in her arms, and stroked her hair while called her name. “Angel…” His eyes closed, he could see the fires of his hell, saw her form within them, felt her lingering pain. His anger rose with his realization. “Let her go.” He spoke to no one in particular. Opening his eyes he looked at her, her face seemed to calm. “Angel…you have to wake up.”

Her eyes fluttered…her voice was weak. “Kayin?” She questioned disbelieving the feel of him in her arms.

“He is with you Angel.” He watched her mouth curl into a smile.

“Shadow?” Her question posed a certain amount of disbelief as though she felt her dream a reality, as if some time shift occurred and left her alone and bereaved. Her body shook as she cried, tears matting her hair.

“Yes, Angel it’s me. What is wrong with you?” He did not understand her affliction, even seeing her burning within the flames did not seem to answer his questions.

“Kayin….” She sobbed, rolled over and cradled the child in her arms. Both seemed more at peace. Shadow watched as her tears eventually stopped and her face slacked as sleep once again came to her. He sat there for sometime just looking at her. He had always looked at her possessively and openly and never understood why, but today he looked at her. She was stressed; her skin had a light covering of sweat that actually seemed to glow over her. Her hair wet and matted looked as though a raven’s wing stretched across her pillow. A bruise had marked her face and it churned his stomach, something had caused her great pain. Why had I not protected her? It was a stupid question as even he knew he could not protect her from what he could not see. He only hoped it was not the same bounty that afflicted him.

* * * * *

It would be a few hours before she would rouse again, Kayin’s pleading for food bringing the light back to her. It was fortunate for her that he’d start eating more solids soon, but still at his demand his first feeding was always her breast. She opened her eyes more solidly, a moment or two passing as they adjusted to clarity. It was obvious some amount of pain still lingered as she winced the second she moved her body. Fortunately the way she cradled Kayin it was just as easy to position him for feeding. It wasn’t until Kayin had clasped and began his feeding that she realized Shadow was with her. The sound of his heavy boot prints heavy on the floor behind her. She could hear him pace between the wall and the door; to her it was apparent that he could not decide on whether to stay or leave. So to him all she said was… “Good morning.” Her voice croaked still weak, though she had no recollection why.

“Are you alright?” His voice was directly behind her, so much she could feel his stare.

“I feel…I feel…” What was it that she felt? Pain, numb, restless, weak? Yes, all those things. What she didn’t know what why, all she was certain about was the relief she had for having Kayin in her arms, and the worry she felt at the words she must tell Vaalic. “I feel anxious, and scared…for some reason I am more scared for you than of what I must tell my husband.”

Scared for me? Shadow wondered. “What is it you must tell Vaalic?” he queried.

“I must tell him everything.” Her throat was scratchy, she coughed to clear it. “I need you to lead me to him. Can you…Would you Shadow?” Kayin’s hand roped around her finger and she smiled with delight over the simple gesture.

Shadow remained quiet for a long time. “What happened to you last night Angel?” He had purposefully avoided her question, hoping to get answers of his own. He didn’t like the thought of her going anywhere near Vaalic. I spared him, isn’t that enough?

She closed her eyes as she struggled to remember, pain flowed through her mind, it seemed to be all she could recollect. “Pain…that is all I remember.”

Shadow sat with her on the bed, his body shifting her weight towards him. “I am sorry for it Angel.” He seemed sincere as his eyes never left hers.

“Shadow is ours….He is ours…” She recalled. “I don’t know what it means though. I just remember the pain Shadow, so much pain.” Her body retreated at the thought of so much torment. “Please Shadow I must speak with Vaalic, you must lead me to him.”

He felt now as though he owed her that wish. He held her gaze. “You must promise me you’ll return.” He actually had some semblance of fear at the possibility of losing her to him. He would give her what he wished, he would never deny her. “You must give yourself a few days before I will consent Angel. I want to know what has occurred here last night, and you need your rest.” He saw her about to protest. “I do not wish to debate this, please just do me this favor.” It was the way he had spoken to her, given her the option without truly giving her the option. It was truly a different tactic for her passive, not forceful. She shook her head and agreed, certainly the time to gather her thoughts would be well recommended, Vaalic needed time as well. It would be a fight she knew one they would never forget. Just a few more days.
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Postby Khellandros » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:13 pm

There was no question that every man there was terrified. Khell was amongst them, and he could feel his hands trembling. It was a new sensation, and one he did not particularly like. Still, they hiked up the hillside in silence, searching for the entrance that was going to bring them closer to their prey. Khell had been told only the rough direction of the mine entrance, but it did not take him long before he found a trail to follow. The deep ruts in the dirt caused by heavy carts were grown over, but not impossible to find or follow. So it was that Khell, Jasmine and the detachment of the Dragonsbane soldiers found the cave entrance much more quickly than they had expected. The group stopped outside, watching as smoke was already beginning to escape from the opening.
[color-blue]”Looks like the smoke’s thick in there…”[/color] Jasmine said to the rest, her voice scarcely above a whisper. Khell nodded before they all took out the thick cloth they had cut, each one tied it around their nose and mouth. Khell knew the smoke would burn their eyes, but they could fight with tears in their eyes, but not without filtered air to breathe. Khell gave the signal for silence, as they moved into the cave. Weapons were drawn, and Jasmine now held a stout wooden shaft, sharpened to a lethal point. Khell was uncomfortable with the thought of Jasmine getting close enough to this beast to use it, but she had cut his objections to her coming short almost before he could voice them.

Quietly they made their way into the cave. The smoke was a light haze here, and as they crept deeper into the tunnel it began to thicken. Khell moved ahead of the group by nearly thirty feet, his movements were slow, precise, and silent. He was stalking now, and the slightest sound could give them all away. It was for that reason that Khell involuntarily cringed as those behind him made slight noises; the movement of chain mail or feet lightly scraping the stone floor. All these sounds were commonplace in the cities, but they could mean death when on the hunt; especially against such a vicious enemy. Khell acted as the group’s ears and scout as they made their way through the tunnel. The smoke began to grow thicker as they entered what seemed like a large central chamber. Even with the cloth Khell had trouble breathing the thick smoke, and as he expected his eyes burned and watered.

After what seemed like hours spent in the thick grey air, Khell paused. He made a motion for the others to freeze. He listened intently. It was difficult to be sure, but he had thought her heard something. After several moments of silence he heard it again. It sounded like labored breathing. The smoke blocked his vision, but Khell would bet his life that the wounded dragon was somewhere just ahead. It occurred to him that he might be betting just that. If he was wrong, they would lose their advantage, but if he was right and they did not act on it they would walk to the slaughter. With their lives at stake, Khell waited another few minutes until he was certain he was correct. He gave the signal to get prepared, but the men were already set. All they had to do now was wait for Dravven’s signal.

The tense moments of anticipation and silence in the smoke filled room became almost too much to bare. Khell was having trouble breathing still, and on several occasions he nearly coughed. He knew he was not the only one with that problem, and he didn’t know what was taking Dravven so long to reach his destination. Khell was certain of the dragon’s position now, as he could hear it pacing around in the smoke just ahead. He prayed it did not wander in their direction. He could only imagine what the creature was thinking. The smoke was certainly an irritant to it, but it was obviously not prepared to come out into the open to confront those waiting outside. It had to know a confrontation was coming.

Then, from just behind him, Khell heard something that caused his stomach to drop. One of the soldiers was unable to hold back and let out a brief cough to clear his lungs. Before Khell could make a movement he heard a terrifying growl and the scrape of claws on stone. Khell had only enough time to give the signal to scatter before the beast appeared through the smoke. It charged straight at him, even as the soldier’s scattered out of the way. The creature was an intimidating force, and even in the smoke filled darkness of the cave, Khell could see the gleam from its dark red scales.

Khell’s bow was already knocked, and he let his arrow fly the moment the dragon appeared. Only moments after his fingers relaxed did he find himself diving to the side for cover. He rolled out of the way of the dragons powerful front legs, nearly finding himself crushed beneath them. The dragon had assessed the situation and had not deemed Khell a large enough threat to warrant immediate attention. Instead the creature charged the bulk of their force.

As they had been trained, the soldiers moved quickly in an attempt to circle the beast. The creature moved with a quickness Khell would have thought impossible with its crippled leg. Crawling back to his feet Khell knocked another arrow. He now stood to the left flank of the dragon, and let another arrow fly. The barb pierced the dragon’s hide and remained imbedded it the back of its leg but it did not even seem to notice. The soldier’s moved in with spears and swords and began the hit and run tactics. Khell could hardly see for himself, and he certainly couldn’t make out who each masked soldier was. He knew Jasmine was in there somewhere, but he couldn’t tell any of them apart. The scene was chaos.

Letting out a curse, Khell wondered where Dravven had ended up. The battle had started sooner than expected and the Knight was late. A few of the soldiers made their way around to join Khell on the rear flank. The first man to come around was soon struck by the beast’s tale and sent sprawling to the ground. Khell noticed that the man didn’t make any motion to get back up. The force of the blow may have killed him but Khell didn’t have time to check. Instead, he let another arrow fly. This one was directed at the joint behind the creature’s leg. As that barb penetrated, he heard the dragon cry out in pain. The shaft had buried itself nearly three quarters of its length into the soft joint. Immediately the dragon’s head spun around and locked on the archer. Khell readied another arrow even as the dragon turned around to face him. He noted with some pleasure that the beast was now limping considerably on that leg. I was the dragon’s good back leg, and now it walked like a lame dog. Both its back legs were nearly unusable, and the creature could not run, but only hobble.

Once the beast had turned completely to face him Khell noticed the wounds on its chest and neck. Spear shafts and punctured its hide, and more than a few had been broken off and been left to hang from the bleeding wounds. Khell could not see how most of the other soldier’s had fared thus far in the battle with the billowing smoke continuing to hinder his vision. The dragon drew in its breath, and Khell dove to the side, trying to hide himself behind a small stone outcrop as the fire began to bathe the area around him. The air became unbearably hot, and Khell remained huddled in a ball, praying the small stone piece jutting out would be enough to save him. After a moment the fire subsided, and Khell realized he still lived. The ends of the leather armor he wore had curled up slightly from the heat, and some of his hair had been singed off but he was otherwise unharmed.

He let out a prayer of thanks for his good fortune, but was interrupted when the dragon smashed away his protective barrier with a clawed foot. Khell then found himself standing no more than three feet from the most terrifying creature he had ever known. The soldiers continued to assault it, and by sheer numbers and the sporadic attacking method, the dragon was having trouble stopping their assault. Khell could see now that several bodies lay either unconscious or dead on the ground, but the rest continued to press the assault. They could do no less.

Khell reached for his quiver to knock another arrow, knowing full well that he may not have time enough to shoot it before the dragon’s fangs ripped into him. It was then, as the dragon’s head was preparing to strike that the shouts and battle cries of soldiers echoed into the room. The sound was enough to cause a moment of hesitation in both the dragon and Khell as Dravven led the charge with the other half of the Dragonsbane soldiers. Seeing a new force charging forward, the dragon’s attention turned immediately to them, giving Khell the momentary chance to slip around the side and out of sight. Without missing a step, Dravven charged the beast, meeting it head on, as the remaining soldiers joined the battle.
Until lions have their historians,
tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
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Postby Vaalic » Thu Apr 26, 2007 6:31 pm

Vaalic’s mind had begun to dull as his struggle with ShadowRune drew itself to a close. He could feel his enemy’s blade binding with muscle and flesh, and he could feel the warmth of his blood flowing down his skin. Still, he felt remarkably cold. He could feel himself slipping as his consciousness was something he had to struggle to maintain. He knew he was dying. That much was clear just by the amount of blood he had already lost and the severity of his wounds. Vaalic had been on the other side of that blade often enough to know that his life was mere moments from its end. The thought of death was not nearly as troubling as the thought of failure. At least in death he had the chance for peace. Vaalic tried one last time to struggle up, though he realized almost immediately that his body no longer obeyed the commands of his mind. It caused great strain to simply get movement from his fingers, and he found it impossible to even raise his hand. As each moment passed Vaalic felt his limited strength deplete further, and he would have cried out in rage had his body given him that luxury. Instead he began to fall deeper into an unconsciousness he knew he would never wake from. His last feeling was the numb sensation as ShadowRune pulled his blade free. Vaalic no longer had the strength to even curse his nemesis. Instead his eyes closed.

The next moments Vaalic was aware of were unexplainable. He could not tell if time existed in such a place, but he felt calm. All was black, and there was no longer any pain. It was then that there was a blinding flash of light, though Vaalic could not shield himself from it. The light was bright enough to hurt him, but he was unable to look away, until finally he became accustomed to it. Then it faded and he was once again returned to darkness. He had no fear here, but only contentment. His mind wandered, and he soon found himself watching some of the key events in his life. He stood to the side, in almost a birds eye view as he recalled several long lost memories. He could not control the images before him, and soon his mind began to think of Somber, and of Angel. The flashes of memories were brief, but the sight of them both gave him pleasure. Soon however the pleasant thoughts were replaced with images of ShadowRune, and again Vaalic began to feel his hatred build up within him. Here he could look into the eyes of his killer and be powerless to do anything. With the rage in his heart Vaalic’s memories became violent, and although there were brief flashes of forgotten enemies, ShadowRune dominated his hatred. Time meant nothing to him as the flashes of memories continued to stream by, until the images of his duel at the mines came to the front of his memory. Here he watched the combat, and the impossibility of the struggle.

Vaalic’s consciousness remained as an observer and he was powerless to interfere. His hatred began to burn at him as he willed himself to act. It was an impossible feat. He knew how this would end, yet he tried to will himself to move faster, to do something, anything to prevent the fate he knew awaited him. As he knew it would he watched as Shadow pierced his flesh and pinned him to the ground. Watching the bloody conflict and being helpless to stop it had filled Vaalic with an uncontrollable fury, and despite his thoughts he could not change what had happened. He watched his body grow limp, and Shadow pull the blade free. He knew this was when he died, and the thought of failing here caused him to struggle more. Only to Vaalic’s astonishment he could feel. His mind was still in a dark place, but he could now feel something resembling a breeze.

His memory faded and he was again left in the darkness, only now he could make out his fingers. His tongue moved inside a mouth he just realized he had. Little by little Vaalic struggled to gain control of his body. Every movement no matter how slight came with a grueling struggle. Vaalic tried to cry out and he forced his body to act. He couldn’t begin to understand what was happening, but the thought of taking one last strike at Shadow fuelled him.

Then, abruptly Vaalic had escaped the darkness and back into the light of the world. His eyes opened, and he hardly noticed he was screaming in rage. Before his eyes could focus he saw movement to his side, and quickly struck out with his leg. He sent the man he believed to be ShadowRune sprawling to the side. Vaalic hadn’t a thought on how he could defeat the demon, but he would lose his life fighting. Then he was back, the dark elf coming in to grapple. Vaalic’s mind focused on the dark elf and he threw a punch as he tried to get himself up. He fist struck the elf, but a moment later Vaalic found his limbs seize. Again he felt the helplessness as he had in the darkness as he struggled to move.

After a moment Vaalic realized that he was not lying in the field outside the mines, but instead he was inside a canvas tent. Vaalic tried to move again, but was still unable to twitch a muscle.
”What can’t I move?” The realization came to him then that he had not been killed, as he believed. That thought alone seemed an impossibility.

“I paralyzed you until you calm down. There are no enemies here Vaalic. The demon is long gone.” Vaalic could hear his voice but could not see the speaker. His adrenaline was still spiked and his heart still racing. It took him a moment to calm himself, and it seemed the inability to control his body became unbearable.
”I’m calm. I promise.” Vaalic tried to say, though he found it difficult to speak in this state. After a moment he felt a sensation of relief go throughout his body. Vaalic sat up, his mind still partially lost in the past. He knew he was very badly wounded, but could not find any of the gouges that he knew he had received. His fingers traced the fine scars that had remained, but it was as though they had been left to heal naturally. Something that was impossible soon. It seemed to be nothing short of a miracle, yet he still lived.

Vaalic knew he had been given a second chance at life, and for that he was grateful. He could not understand why ShadowRune had left him alive. He had thought the demon would have surely taken his head as a trophy; something to taunt Angel with. The thought of Angel under the mercy of the demon caused Vaalic’s blood to burn once again. He was weak and exhausted but wanted to be alone. He had too many thoughts and it was obvious that all eyes were on him. After brief words, Vaalic left the tent unwilling to remain under the scrutiny of the men around him. Once out of the tent he began to walk, but after only a few short steps his strength gave out and he fell to one knee. He realized then that he was breathing heavily from the limited exertion. Jurret followed him out, and came to stand beside him. He made no offer to help Vaalic to his feet, and for that Vaalic was relieved.

”You are still not well Vaalic. You have lost far too much blood. You need rest and water if you are to regain your strength.” Jurret suggested, looking down at him.
”What I need is to be alone.” He said simply as he pushed himself back to his feet. He looked Jurret over appraisingly.
”I am grateful for everything you have done for me. I owe you my life, and I hope that someday I will be able to repay you. Thank you.”
”I did only what was necessary. You fought well, but only a fool fights an impossible battle. Why did you remain when it was clear you could not have won?”
”Sometimes it’s the impossible battles that are the most meaningful. I did everything possible to find some kind of weakness in him, but there was nothing. The world isn’t prepared for such a creature. I will face him again one day, but next time I will be prepared. As long as he remains in this kingdom I will do everything in my power to destroy him.” A moment of silence passed between them before Vaalic reached out and patted Jurret on the shoulder, again thanking him for his aid. Turning away Vaalic began to walk, only this time in slower more controlled steps.

Slowly he made his way through the camp and down to the river. He was out of breath almost as soon as he began, and he stopped often as he felt the world spinning around him. He knew he should take Jurret’s advice but he could not stay in the medic tent. He needed solitude. It took him the better part of an hour to make his way through the camp. He was not oblivious to the stares or whispered comments spoken by those he passed. He ignored the chatter until finally he reached his destination. He knew Christopher would want to speak to him, but that could wait.

Reaching the river Vaalic followed it down a short distance to where he found a small rocky outcropping. It was sheltered by the trees, and Vaalic pulled himself onto one of the large uneven boulders along the waters edge. The stone was large, and was a comfortable enough place to sit. The small strain of pulling himself up had sent Vaalic into a coughing fit even as he tried to keep his balance. After a short time he regained his composure, and sat in silence looking out over the river. His mind was racing; jumping from topic to topic. It ranged from his failure against ShadowRune and what he would do next to how Angel was faring or how Somber’s journey was going. He cared little for how much time had passed, and he was broken out of his trance-like thoughts when he heard someone walking along the stones. It was clear someone was coming down the stony beach towards him. He paid them no attention until they came up to stand beside the boulder he sat on. It was then that he looked down and realized it was Kitiara.

The stone he was on was as tall as her shoulder, and she looked up to him with a look of concern. She was the last one he had expected to see. Almost in response to his surprised look, she spoke.
”I’m glad you’re okay. You had us all worried.” She began, and when he didn’t say anything in response, she continued.
”I watched you fight, and believe me when I say I wish there was something that I could have done.” He could see by her troubled expression that she meant every word.
”I’m glad you didn’t get involved. If you would have interfered he would have killed you, and that blood would be on my hands. I would rather know you were safe.” He said, turning away from the river so that he could better face her. She paused for a moment as they locked eyes. This was a woman Vaalic trusted without hesitation, and he cared for her like a sister. The thought of anything happening to her was something he didn’t even want to consider. He realized that he had not had an opportunity to stop and speak with her in quite some time. Since he had been given the post of Co-Commander of the army, Vaalic had very little time to himself. That neglect was something that he regretted now.
”On our trip back I was talking with a few of the soldiers…” she began, then broke off. Vaalic watched her more intently as she looked away from him. Then, she held up a long cloth covered bundle. It had been hidden from view by the boulder. He hadn’t seen it before, but he took it from her slowly.
”One of the men picked this up during your battle. I know how much it means to you…” she finished, aware that the topic of his battle would be a sensitive one. Vaalic unwrapped the bundle to find his sword. The blood had been cleaned away and the blade was sharpened as well as polished. The sight of his weapon and its perfect condition left him speechless for a moment.
”I thought you should have it.” She said simply, before turning to leave. Vaalic examined the blade for a moment, before looking up to her.
”You could stay if you like.” he said quickly. She stopped and turned to look at him.
”You don’t want to be alone?” She asked skeptically.
”I could use family right now.” He smiled slightly and after a moment of pause she slowly turned and came back. Kitiara easily made it up the side of the boulder to sit next to him as they looked out over the river. The noise of the rushing water was almost peaceful here. Neither spoke for quite some time, content to look out over the water in silence. He wanted to get her opinion and advice.
When a Greater evil unites, the good must come together;
else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a useless struggle.
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Postby Killean » Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:58 am

Image

Dravven and his share of the dragon fighters, guided by Ternel, followed a too seldom used path leading to one of the few mine entrances. Although most were tired from the exploits that had performed the day before, they all had to hurry for their target. This attack had to happen in sync with the others, or many lives would be lost. Upon arriving at the entrance, Dravven’s worst fears were realized.
“It collapsed the entrance.” As plain as day, everyone could see large gouges in the earth where claws and tail caused a collapse of the tunnel. Dravven turned to Ternel with a pleading desperate face.
“Where is the next closest entrance?” Ternel thought about the question for a second, then looked around for a bearing. With a confident flick of his wrist, he point in the direction of the nearest entrance.
“We have to climb down a narrow path though. It might slow us down more than expected.”
Dravven thought about it for one a moment before he pointed in the direction Ternel had, and then marched forward in the same direction.
As they slowly approached the next mine entrance, Dravven noticed smoke. It was starting to blanket the area, possibly because it was unable to escape through the tree’s fast enough.
This can not be good. Someone might be able to see all this smoke. Dravven thought, fearing the worst. His worries however were cut short when they arrived at the next entrance, and Dravven caught a glimpse of exactly what Ternel was referring to. It was a sheer drop, five feet into the cave entrance. The only way down was a slightly less sheer slide with several hand and foot holes along the way. Dravven looked at Ternel with wide eyes of concern, shook his head slightly, and entered. One after the other they donned a mask made of cloth and climbed down into the depths. Once everyone was down, Dravven gathered them all for a huddle.
“Saunter, do not creep. We lost a lot of time with this. It is possible the dragon will hear us and give the others time to get into position. The moment we engage I want you to fan out to either side. Be ready to attack its neck. I will be able to stand a frontal attack for a couple of seconds so try your best.” All gave their nod, with Dravven ending the wave. Trying to keep as quiet as they could, yet while moving at a faster pace, they traversed the winding tunnel.
Roughly midway through, the walls began to shudder as a loud growl was heard from further in. The others had begun to fight. Dravven pursed his lips together and whistled, increasing his speed and strides. They were late, and now was a good time to run instead of jog. The small group ran through the tunnels at top speed, not even stopping to help when one man slipped on some pebbles and fell to the ground.
As the sounds of battle got closer, the smoke which filled the enclosure became more thick and painful to see in. It was almost so bad they had to be within twenty feet to see the battle underway. Taking a quick survey of the battle ground, it was clear that he was too late to prevent many casualties. More than half were down, and the dragon had Khell cornered. Dire indeed.

Dravven bellowed as loud as he could, drew his large blade from his back, and charged full tilt for the dragon’s head. The others as they were ordered broke into two groups and started to circle around. Moments before the dragon’s maw was to clamp down on Dravven, the warrior held his sword in front of his body and head and closed his eyes. The effect seen by the dragon was as though sunlight were reflecting off the blade into the creatures eyes, even in this dark corridor. The wounded dragon stopped its attack and reared onto its hind legs, trying to escape the glare.
The dazzling effect of Dravven’s weapon gave the other soldiers enough time to enclose the dragon and begin their attacks. After several hit and run strike, the group began to attack in unison, leaving the dragon confused as to which to target. Because of this, it left the dragon little to no option but to use it’s breath to sweep through a few. Dravven caught the sounds of its inhale just in time to shout out orders to the rest.
“Pierce the neck!” He shouted, trying to get above the volume of the battle. Khell was the first to react, nocking arrow after arrow and sending it deep into the dragon’s neck. After the second arrow pierced through the small scales, everyone could hear the dragon wheezing as it inhaled. Two soldiers were the next to attack. Their spears punctured the dragon’s neck slowly, ripping bloody holes into its hide.
The dragon pushed one man to the side, while the other got crushed under its front foot. It did not make any other aggressive moves yet, it appeared as though it was struggling to breath. Sickening snorting and gurgling sounds emanated from his throat where the wounds were. It inhaled deeply once more, and collapsed to the ground, scrapping the mine floor trying to flee. Dravven held his hand up and out, ordering everyone to back off. The red beast was dying.
“Don’t let it suffer like this.” Khell said in a low voice next to Dravven, to which he nodded his head in agreement. Dravven quickly ran for its rear quarters and climbed on the creature’s back. It tried to shift its weight to throw Dravven off, but it was too weak to prove any sort of challenge to him. The knight moved up to its upper torso and stabbed his blade into the dragon’s spine with all his might. It increased its twitching for a few moments, and then with one last gurgle, ceased to move any more.
“Khell, I know the smoke is bad, but could you race to the mouth and tell them to start clearing the entrance?” Dravven asked as he started to climb down. Khell quickly nodded his head and ran off to where the fire’s burned.
“Let us start sorting the dead from the wounded. We take all bodies to the surface to be buried if necessary.”
There was one that Dravven knew for sure was dead. The soldier who was crushed by the dragon’s foot, and now under it’s collapsed body. Using the help of two other healthy men, they used the spare wooden spears to prop the dragon up, while another man crept under and dragged the body of their comrade out.

Three dead of the ten we had. Dravven thought with a somber inner voice. Most of the others were wounded, some worse than another. To be honest, wounded wouldn’t slow them down much, but they were still awfully close to the camp. It would delay things for a bit, but it had to be done. Those who were only slightly injured were to continue on with the group. Those healthy were to take the heavily wounded back to camp, and return. Before any wished to leave however, they prepared the bodies of their three comrades just outside the mines and buried them. Dravven spoke the words of ascension as the bodies were lowered in their graves, and then covered. Once done, the two wounded soldiers were placed on makeshift devices for transport.
“Once you arrive at the camp, be sure to report to Christopher. Upon your return, move with haste. We will wait for you on the south bend of the river for no more than two days. Go.” With their orders in place, the soldiers vanished down the path back to the camp.
Dravven briefly stared at the remaining soldiers, Khell, and Jasmine. Behind them his eyes focused on the citizens they were transporting. The important thing was none of them were hurt, and from now on until the future, they will no longer have to worry about walking this path.
“Alright, let’s set up camp everyone!” Jasmine spoke in a loud voice back to everyone else. Dravven hadn’t noticed that it was getting late, though thankfully Jasmine was starting to get the knack of being Sheppard to this flock. Once everyone was about their duties, Jasmine chanced to see if she could talk with Dravven.
“Dravven, are you okay?” Dravven nodded his head to her question.
“I will be fine, thank you for your concern. I am just trying to greave the loss in my own way. By tomorrow I will be fine, I assure you.” He said with a slight bow. It was a long couple of days; Dravven just needed some rest to think thigs through.
“Okay. If you need to talk…” She broke off, knowing she didn’t have to continued on further. Dravven gave her a thankful nod and meek smile.
-神恵「争い」癒す
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Postby Jasmine_Eclipse » Tue May 01, 2007 11:15 pm

Jasmine was carrying a man made wooden spear instead of her usual dagger for the upcoming fight. She felt a bit uneasy since she wasn’t used to fighting with such a large weapon but she knew having the distance from the dragon only would benefit her. She wasn’t looking forward to getting so up close and personal with him, so this provided her with some relief. It was sharpened to a deadly point so it would definitely do some damage. As they came closer to where the dragon was resting, the smoke was almost unbearable. Jasmine’s eyes burned and watered as they walked through the tunnel. Khell were the parties’ eyes and hears for the hunt, and he took them off to the side when he came to an area where he believed where the dragon was resting. They were forced to stand still and listen to the dragon’s movements. They also had to wait for Dravven and his group who were taking longer than expected. Jasmine struggled not to cough and take only took shallow breaths while they were waiting. The large dragon bane soldier beside her released a brief cough and Jasmine cringed. She instantly looked towards him and gave a disapproving look, just before the dragon growled and charged at them.

Jasmine was with the main group who the creature first attacked. They dove in unison and barely out of the dragon’s raging rampage. Her heart pounded as she got her first glimpse at a red dragon. She nearly froze from the sight of him before one of the soldiers bumped into her as they went into formation and circled the dragon. She saw out of the corner of her eye that Khell managed to roll to the opposite rear side of the dragon and out of his way. Then she lost sight of him so she prayed he would be safe throughout this whole battle.

Jasmine copied what the Dragon Bane soldiers were doing and remembered what Dravven told her. They ran in and made quick cuts and wounds along his chest, neck, and head and quickly jumped back. Jasmine kept constantly moving, making quick jabs into his chest. Blood started dripping down the numerous open wounds in his body but that didn’t slow him down much. His jaws snapped and he roared, he was still strong even though he was injured. The dragon focused his attention on her group as he swung his body weight around and hit one of the soldiers, sending him flying and crashing against the mine wall. Jasmine charged in and impaled her spear in the side of his cheek. He roared as he swung his head, knocking her back at least five feet. She laid on the ground, partially stunned expecting the beast to come and finish her. Instead, the dragon turned around and faced Khell’s direction. This allowed Jasmine to get up and regain her composure, still noticeably shaken. The dragon inhaled and breathed fire in the opposite direction and began rushing the soldiers with a noticeable limp. Jasmine took her position to the dragon’s side again and began impaling his hide. He didn’t seem to notice the attacks coming from behind as he found a new threat.

Suddenly, a battle cry came from the other mine shaft and Dravven and his group finally came charging in. A bright light seemed to radiate from Dravven’s sword which appeared to temporarily blind the dragon. Everyone used this to their advantage as they surrounded the beast and began attacking him at the same time. They were given orders to focus on his neck, and before long the dragon collapsed to the ground, too weak to move. Dravven climbed up the monster’s back and stabbed into his spine, conducting the final blow. Jasmine gave a silent cheer as the dragon laid there, unmoving. Khell ran off to the entrance and the rest stayed behind and gathered the wounded and dead. Jasmine was only slightly bruised but helped steady the severely wounded soldiers back to the entrance.

Once everyone was outside, they buried the dead just outside the mines. Jasmine went to check on the group they were escorting to Faith Hills. They were quiet and many of the children were silently crying by the sight of the wounded and injured. They were all accounted for and unharmed and for that Jasmine was grateful. She ordered them to set up camp and went to talk to Dravven. He appeared to have a lot on his mind but didn’t want to talk so she decided not to push the subject any further. She smiled back at Dravven and offered her healing ointments to him turned to find Khell in the crowd of soldiers. He appeared to be well considering the battle they just were in and greeted her with a smile.
”We managed to do it. Thank goodness that Dravven came when he did otherwise…” he trailed off as Jasmine offered a reassuring hug. She hoped they wouldn’t have to encounter anything like this again, but it was definitely an impressive achievement.
”We’d better meet up with Dravven and see what we are going to do next.” Jasmine stated as Khell nodded his head in agreement. They walked up to Dravven who was talking to the Dragon Bane commander. Dravven still had a somber look on his face, but he held his composure. Jasmine and Khell waited patiently as they finished their conversation. Then they turned to speak to the two fighters.
”We will be continuing on our journey shortly once everyone has had some time to rest. We are going to continue on this road south and follow the river where we are going to meet up with the rest of the soldiers. From there we are going to continue to Faith Hills, it shouldn’t take too much longer then we can rest and get bandaged up if it’s necessary.” he said as he was looking over the crowd of civilians.
”We will take the same formation as last time, keep your eyes and ears open for any other suspicious behavior.” he gazed off to the distance and didn’t say anything else. Khell and Jasmine shrugged and went to join the camp.

They ate some meal rations and water while resting around the fire. There was hardly any conversation happening amongst the travelers, as the fighters replayed the last events through their head. Jasmine made a mental note to get some additional training in the spear as a backup weapon. An hour later, Khell, Dravven, and Jasmine conjugated together, ready to leave. Jasmine whistled loudly, getting everyone’s attention.
”Alright everyone, we are heading out now continuing our journey to Faith Hills. Gather your belongings and get in the same formation as last time.” Jasmine yelled as the civilians began moving swiftly. They began walking and continued their journey, Jasmine secretly hoping they won’t have to encounter any other tough opponents along the way.
There is little in this life that could be said about all things.
A way to view life: in the height of victory, or in the depths of defeat.
"This too shall pass"
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Postby Ruakha » Thu May 10, 2007 3:24 pm

These past months had been a trying time for the General. He had been honored to get the commission his Emperor had given him. His objective was to submit the kingdom of Faith Hills so that the empire could use the kingdom as a staging ground to move out into the surrounding areas. This kingdom had been chosen primarily because of its natural resources that could be exported. Things had gone moderately well at first. The city of Freeport fell without a fight, though he did lose a few of his dragon scouts. A costly loss but he had not been expecting the presence of the silver or blue dragons. As time wore on things only grew worse. Not only was Freeport under a type of siege, but he had lost the use of the docks and the mines. The Faith resistance had gone from being a nuisance and complication into being a threat that needed to finally be eliminated. He knew his Emperor wanted results, and remaining safe behind the walls of Freeport would not produce them. He knew however, that should he march his soldiers out of the city, they would be ambushed and harassed and be whittled away little by little. This was unfamiliar territory, and his enemy had a distinct advantage once they entered the forest around the city. Ruakha already had men dedicated to discovering the location of the Faith camp, but as of yet none had proven successful. The few soldiers they had been able to capture and interrogate did little more than give old information that was scarcely useful to him.

Things needed to change, and they needed to change now. He would discover the Faith camp and destroy it. Then he could move on and finish establishing the new Flurin border on this continent. Ruakha’s mind was filled with these thoughts of delay and failure and he stormed through the halls, making his way to the meeting place. Since the loss of the mines, he knew drastic measures needed to be taken, and for that reason he had called a meeting of his advisors and captains. As usual, the general was surrounded by his bodyguards as he made his way through the hall. As he approached the large oak doors leading to the meeting room the sentry on duty saluted and opened the door. Ruakha did not miss a step as he continued straight through the open door and into the already full room. A long banquet table had been set up, and his captains sat around it. The head of the table had been left vacant for the General, and he looked around at the faces of those sitting around the table. Each one had brought at least a few bodyguards, and those soldiers stood stiffly behind their charge, their backs to the wall. The presence of the thirteen advisors and their bodyguards made the room feel far too crowded, but since the murder of Caamar, they all had taken an interest in personal protection. As Vental had told him, she had made the traitor’s death appear so though it had been done by Faith soldiers, and that had caused the rest of the Captains to become slightly fearful. No longer did they hold the illusion that they were untouchable.

General Ruakha took his seat at the head of the table, and his guards dutifully took up the position behind him. Vental sat to his right and he shared a brief nod of greeting with her before he began. He noticed that both Lenox and Teodor sat at the far end of the table, but that the chair reserved for ShadowRune remained empty. The demon’s absence spoke loudly to Ruakha’s feeling of losing control, and it put him in a foul mood. Those around the table grew silent as the General took his seat, their conversations dying in mid sentence. All could see the foul tempered look of their General.
”As we all know, we have had a series of attacks against us as of late, and they have cost us dearly. We have lost our use of our port and our mines. This is unacceptable. I want an update on our progress on these matters.” Ruakha said, looking around at his Captains. There was a momentary silence before one of the men at the far side of the table cleared his throat.
”Sir, I have been personally overseeing the restoration of the port. It will take some time before we can open the ports up completely. It is a long and drawn out process of breaking up the breached ships and removing the debris. We can, however still anchor ships a short distance from the docks and ferry the supplies with small boats. It does take longer, but we are still able to send and receive cargo. I expect it will be some months before the docks will be restored to their former order.” The captain knew his evaluation of the situation was not exactly what the General wanted to hear, but the fact that the docks were not completely useless came as some small relief.
”Is there no way to hasten the removal?”
”I’m afraid not sir. As you requested when we first came to the city we have tried to let the local business continue as they were. Those citizens that were not working have already been put to work in other sectors. I took all that could be spared. It will be done, but it will take time.”

”What about the mines?”
”The mines are lost to us.” It was Vental who spoke, her tone unemotional as she continued her report. ”The enemy collapsed them as they pulled out. From the reports we received it will be difficult to re-open them. We could do it, but not with the threat of the enemy returning. We can not reinforce that position with enough men to keep it secure. We must eliminate the organized enemy threat before we can consider anything further there. On a positive note, it is reported that ShadowRune managed to kill one of their high ranking officers. We can hope that his death helped to demoralize them.”

”They have been a thorn in my side for far too long. I want to see their army destroyed. We will do whatever is necessary to scatter their organization. If we can draw them out, then we can destroy them. As long as they remain concealed in that forest we are trapped here. I want to know where they’re hidden, and I want them killed to the last man woman or child. We will show them no quarter, and set the example for all others who would attempt to stand against us.” The General rose to his feet as he spoke.
”Teodor, Lennox, have you had any luck spotting their position from the sky?” Ruakha demanded. It was Lennox who stood, his hands folded beneath the volumous white robes he wore.
”It is not so, General. We have taken to the sky, but have yet to spot anything of interest. They remain careful.” Lennox said simply.
”I will not sit here and simply wait for them to make a mistake. I demand results, and each of you will bring them. Otherwise you will each be a head shorter before the month’s end.” Ruakha let a moment of silence pass so that the weight of his threat could sink in. He knew men were not motivated by kindness, and sometimes threats could encourage men to go above and beyond what they might ordinarily do. If he would have to sacrifice a few captains for the sake of progress he was willing to do it. He watched as the Captains looked between one another uncomfortably. It was that fear that the General hoped to utilize and force results.

”I demand that we know the enemy location. That is the primary task each of you is now assigned. We will be rid of this infestation so that we may proceed. I will not be delayed any longer by these heathen loyalists."

”We are all allies here General. There is no need to threaten the headsman’s axe to any man sitting around this table. Every man here is capable and already doing their duty. We will find our enemy’s weakness and we will exploit it. Each time they surface, they expose themselves. It is then that we must act and have them lead us back to their camp. Then we can destroy them.” Vental answered the General’s threats, and her statement received the voiced approval of nearly all who sat around the table.
”We will not wait for them to show themselves. We will flush them out. Do whatever is necessary to bring me the location, or the heads of their officers. An army can not run without direction.” There was another momentary pause of silence before the General continued.
”Lennox, I want you to do your sworn duty. Bring me the heads of the enemy dragons.” Again Lenox got to his feet, though this time he seemed slightly on edge.
”General, you must not see my tactical disadvantage. The enemy has one of our own fully trained dragons as an ally, as well as a Silver. Should you rush a confrontation between us I may be hard pressed to guarantee victory. Leave them both to me and I will deal with them as necessary.” Lenox said diplomatically.
”No Lenox, you will earn your keep. I want their heads, and before the months end. Otherwise it will be yours that decorates my wall.” The General snapped.

Teodor abruptly got to his feet just as the words left the General’s lips, his sword hissing from its scabbard. The look of fury on his face made it clear that his intention was set on conflict. Almost as quickly the general’s bodyguards drew their own weapons. Within a moment, the weapons of the other captain’s guards came free, in preparation of the conflict. There was far too much tension and far too many naked blades in the room for anyone present to be comfortable. It was Lenox who put a hand on Teodor’s arm. The small gesture seemed enough to keep the man from charging forward, but only barely.
”You dare to draw a weapon on me!” The General’s voice boomed, the look of fury on his face matching Teodor’s.
”There are consequences for the threats you make General! I will not stand idle. You may have command here, but we will not be spoken to in this way. We are not an enemy you can afford to have.” Teodor shouted with his weapon still in hand. It was Vental who stood next.
”That is enough gentlemen. You are both acting like schoolboys. Put the weapons away.” There was a moment of pause, and Teodor looked to Lenox, who gave a brief nod. Reluctantly, he returned his blade to its sheath; as did the other guards. Then it was only the General’s men who remained.
”I could have you hung for this outrage!” Ruakha shouted.
”But you won’t." Vental finished for him flatly. ”Now order your men to stand down. We are living in stressful times and we must rely on one another. Our enemies want to see us divided. If we intend to stand victorious here we must stand together.” Vental’s voice was calm and confident, and she knew she was probably the only one who could speak to the General in such a way. She gave both men a look that challenged them to argue. Ruakha thought for a moment, and then waved for his men to stand down.
”Your orders stand. Bring me those heads. Now, leave my sight, all of you.”
True power does not come from wielding a sword.
Rather it comes from influencing those that do.
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Postby Vaalic » Thu May 24, 2007 5:31 pm

It seemed that this small reprieve sitting and listening to the rushing water of the river was something that Vaalic needed. He desired a few moments of tranquility before being forced back into the troubles that surrounded him. Kitiara sat quietly beside him. Finally, after an extended silence, Vaalic spoke.
”How have you been these last weeks? It seems almost as though we’ve become strangers.”
”I’ve been doing well. We’ve both been very busy, so it’s no surprise that we haven’t found the opportunity to sit around a fire and catch up. It seems there are always more things to be done than hours in the day.” She said as she laid back on the large boulder they rested on. Her body turning so she could face him more comfortably.
”We will have to make time. Have you had any contact with Jake?” He asked; his worry over both Somber and Jake had been another weight on his shoulders.

He could see from the worried look in Kit’s eyes what the answer was even before she spoke.
”No word as of yet. It is not an easy thing to do, so Jake will probably only try when he thinks it’s necessary.” Vaalic could hear the catch in her voice and knew exactly how she felt.
”I’m worried about them too. Jake is a good man, and I trust that he will keep them both safe. They may very well be safer out there than we are here.”
”I know, it’s just I wish I knew what was happening. It’s the not knowing that’s the hardest.” She said exactly what Vaalic was thinking.
”I know how you feel. Let me know as soon as you hear anything from them.”
”Of course,” She said with a hint of a smile.

”Eventually these armies will be forced together, and I know he would have made a difference here.”
”He may be making the greatest difference of us all. We will get through it somehow but I fear this conflict is far from over.” Vaalic knew the stalemate between the two forces could not last forever.
”There will always be conflict. It has been a long time since any of us has known peace. I doubt we’d know what to do with it. Besides, we have done a great deal already.” Kit’s tone was almost cheerful. It was that positive energy that Vaalic liked most about her.
”You’re right,” he said with a laugh, ”I’m not suited for anything but this. I could never be a simple farmer or shopkeeper. This life is all I know, but I wish I could keep it away from the people I care about. Everything that has happened is too close to home.”
”You can’t do everything Vaalic. Some things are just out of your control. We just do what we can and hope that it’s enough.” She said simply, though she could see he was not convinced.

”What if it’s not enough? I fought ShadowRune to my last breath but I still failed. What more can I do?” The memory of his near death still played on his mind. Kitiara remained silent for a moment reading Vaalic’s expression.
”There was nothing you could have done to change what happened, but you were given a second chance.” She said firmly.
”There must be something that could be done to fight him. He could destroy an army the way he is now.” The thought of ShadowRune roaming unchecked sent a chill down his spine.
”Nothing is impossible. We are just missing a piece of the puzzle. Perhaps you could pray to the gods for guidance?” Kit suggested, though she didn’t sound convinced of it herself.
”I have too much blood on my hands for the gods to listen to me. I am no holy man.” Vaalic continued to think, as did Kitiara.

Minutes passed without either of them uttering a word before Kit sat up.
”Some kind of charm perhaps? Could you find a ward against evil spirits?” She suggested. Vaalic though about the possibility before he answered,
”I know of such charms, but I fear there will be no one amongst us that could construct one. I have seen them before in my time spent with the Zingaro. Angel may be the closest person that could help me, but she is an army away.” Vaalic said with an edge of sorrow and regret in his voice.
”That probably wouldn’t do what you want anyway. It might help protect you, but you will still be unable to stop him.”Kit said sadly.

It was clear that the memory of Angel was painful for him. She too had been separated from someone close to her heart.
”What about a blessing?” She said finally.
”What do you mean?” Vaalic asked, unsure about what she was getting at. Kit sat up now, a hint of excitement in her voice.
”It may work, I don’t know. Have a priest give you a blessing. It has been a common practice on soldiers for centuries.”
”I don’t know. It was always done to inspire courage but those were just normal men. They were not forced to fight a demon. I need to make sure I can hurt him.” Vaalic said, thinking about the idea. He knew his resolve did not need to be aided. It was a solution that he was after. Kit continued her train of thought, not hesitating to continue.
”Your weapon then. Have a priest bless your weapon. Maybe with that you could kill him?” She suggested, and Vaalic had to pause to think about it.
”Could that work?” He asked skeptically. Kit just shrugged.
”I don’t know. Why don’t we find someone more experience with that kind of thing?” Vaalic nodded and couldn’t help but smile.

They both hopped down from the boulder and walked back to the faith camp. Vaalic still had his doubts, but Kit’s suggestion was the best he had heard so far and it was worth investigating. Vaalic already had an idea on who he needed to talk to. He was still weak from his loss of blood, and he stumbled once as he walked, his head spinning and his vision nearly blacking out. Kit caught him before he fell, but he quickly regained his balance. After insisting he was fine, they continued. They reached the medic tent soon after and both Vaalic and Kit walked inside. It took Vaalic only a moment to find the man he was looking for.

”I didn’t think I’d see you back here.” Jurret was unable to hide his surprise as he saw Vaalic approaching.
”I have an important question to ask you.” Jurret raised an eyebrow curiously, but let Vaalic continue.
”If I had my sword blessed, would it allow me to wound a demon?” Vaalic nearly held his breath as he awaited Jurret’s answer. The healer’s face was grim, and he hesitated a moment before answering.
”What you are asking is no easy task Vaalic.” Jurret began, ”Can it be done?” Vaalic insisted. Jurret let out a sigh.
”It can, but it is complicated. What you are asking is not a simple blessing you see so commonly in the temples. I could give you a blessing for good health, or fertility; that kind of thing would be easy. What you’re asking is for a god’s blessing to kill. They do not give that so readily.” Jurret was hesitant to say more, but Vaalic’s heart was pounding in anticipation.

”We must try. It is the only way to stop the demon ShadowRune. If I don’t stand against him he will destroy everything I have ever known or loved.” Vaalic was prepared to do whatever it took to get this done, and he was not prepared to accept this healer’s reluctance. The two men locked eyes, and it became clear to Jurret that Vaalic would not, or could not back down.

”Vaalic, listen to me. If you ask this of a god and they refuse, you could be destroyed. Not only physically, but your soul could be shattered. I can not in good conscience let you do this.” Jurret insisted.
Vaalic exchanged a quick look with Kit. Neither one of them had though it would be so dangerous. Then Vaalic set his resolve.
”If I don’t do this he will be unstoppable. This is something I must do. Please, if you are able, help me.”

Jurret put his head down and did not reply. The silence that came between them seemed almost like a physical element. Then, finally, he looked up.
”It will take some time to prepare.” Jurret began.
”Thank you.” Vaalic said gratefully.
”Don’t thank me yet. Besides, even if this does work there will be challenges. I know a little of demon lore, and enough to know that even this will not be able to kill his worldly body. You would need to find his soul gem to banish him.” Vaalic stopped smiling then.
”Then what good will this do me?”
”If this works and your weapon is blessed, you will be able to harm him. He is not a creature that was meant to be destroyed. Your blade will cut his flesh and stop him from regenerating as fast, but he will not die.” Vaalic began to frown as Jurret explained the limitations.
”If I have to I will cut him apart limb by limb and bury the pieces on the far corners of the
continent.”
Vaalic’s voice held such hatred and menace that many around him looked worried by his presence.
”You may have to do just that.” Jurret said sincerely.
When a Greater evil unites, the good must come together;
else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a useless struggle.
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Postby Khellandros » Wed Jun 06, 2007 5:53 pm

It had begun to rain a short time after they began traveling down the abandoned road towards the ruined city of Faith Hills. The thick, dark gray clouds overhead made it difficult to tell the time, and it seemed almost as though they were traveling in some nondescript purgatory. The foul weather was obviously having a negative effect on the moods of his traveling companions. Khell had not come prepared for this kind of weather and wore his simple tunic and pants, which were now completely soaked through. The civilians accompanying them from the army encampment were carrying all of their worldly possessions, and most had donned thick cloaks to help protect from the bitter rain and wind. It was clear to Khell that this war had cost them all a great deal. These people had abandoned their homes, their property and the lives they knew. The majority of the companions Khell was helping to escort were women and children; the wives, sons and daughters of the soldiers in the army. Khell understood the soldier’s desire to protect their families, but it was not easy for them to adjust to their new situation.

The soldiers were also in a foul temper as they traveled the muddy road towards their destination. Though more accustomed to marching in this weather it didn’t mean they had to enjoy it, and the loss of their comrades still weighed heavily upon them. The success of their attack against the rogue dragon was little compensation for the loss of friends, though they all knew it was necessary. In fact, Khell believed them lucky to not have sustained more casualties. He prayed that he would never again be forced to face another such beast. Before long Khell felt the need to separate himself from the depressing gloom that seemed to surround their slow moving convoy. As they walked, he made his way over to Dravven, who was walking with a wary eye towards the tree line that grew on either side of the road. He gave a nod of greeting as Khell approached.

”Wonderful weather we’re having.” Dravven commented dryly. Khell shrugged.
”It has its advantages and disadvantages. This is good hunting weather. The noise of the rain helps to conceal your movements. That was also why I came here to talk to you.” Dravven raised an eyebrow in curiosity, and Khell continued.
”This is also good weather for someone to plant an ambush. I was thinking that I should go on ahead and scout around. Just to make sure we are not walking into anything blind.” Khell suggested, though he didn’t expect there to be any problems. It was a simple justification to get away from the group, and it did serve a small purpose. He waited a moment as Dravven considered his idea.
”It couldn’t hurt to take the precaution. Leave some kind of marking for us every mile or so. If there is an ambush and you are captured or killed, we might be able to go into it more prepared if we knew you were missing.” Dravven suggested. Khell knew the soldier wasn’t trying to be pessimistic, but merely practical. It seemed like a reasonable request.
”Fine. Look for four snapped branches to the right of the road. I’ll lay them in a diamond shape. You won’t be able to miss it.” Khell said and Dravven nodded. Jasmine had been close enough to overhear their conversation and came up behind them both.
”I’ll go too. We wouldn’t want you getting lost.” She said with a wink to Khell. He couldn’t help but laugh at her comment. With a nod of agreement, they set out. It did not take them more than a few minutes to pace themselves ahead of the slower moving column. Once they were out of sight they began to slow their pace. After a short while Khell began to see that Jasmine also seemed troubled. It wasn’t until she let out a sigh that Khell decided to ask.
”What’s wrong?” He asked with the hint of concern in his voice.
”It’s nothing. Then after a moment of thought she continued. ” Its just these people seem so demoralized. They’ve lost everything, and now we are separating them from their families.”
”Could it be any worse than living under the rule of a tyrant? They are doing what they believe is right, and one day they will be able to return home. For right now, the best thing for them is to bring them somewhere they can get settled.”
”I agree, but it is still terrible to see. War is such an ugly thing.”

Their conversation continued as they traveled. Whenever they reached a suspicious part of the path such as fallen tree too close to the road, or high hillsides, their conversation was silenced without signal. Among keeping each other company, Khell was teaching her some of the things to look for both as a hunter and as potential prey. Instead of following the path through these potentially dangerous areas, they would veer off track and approach from behind, searching for anything unusual. As luck would have it, their precautions proved to be simply that: precautions. There were no ambushes, no traps and nothing that would have troubled them. Khell did as he said, and left a marker every mile or so to keep Dravven’s mind at ease.

Their progress was slow and it took them longer than expected to reach the city of Faith Hills. Eventually Khell crested a hill and saw the city in the distance. The sight took his breath away. What had once been the greatest city in the kingdom was now a black and charred scar on the landscape. Even from such a distance the sight of the ruined city caused Khell’s throat to tighten. This had been the sight of a deal of death and destruction and it was difficult to even beginning to imagine what those people had gone through. The walls to the city still stood, but they had been charred black by fire, and it appeared that not a single building in the city had survived undamaged. Fire had torn through the city, destroying everything without mercy. Both Khell and Jasmine remained unmoving for a few moments as they took in the sight of the city. Khell could say for certain that the sight of this ruined city was the most terrible thing he had ever seen.

”How could anyone ever want to come back to this place? When they had said Princess Serah was working to rebuild the city I never imagined the destruction would have been so complete.” Khell said, feeling his eyes beginning to mist. He was not embarrassed by this sign of emotion, it seemed like the only thing he could do. After a moment of consideration, Jasmine answered. She too appeared to be shocked by the sight of the city. Neither one of them had been prepared to see this. In their minds they had believed things to have been better.
”I think that by rebuilding they are showing their defiance. It takes a great deal of courage to come back to a place like this, and by rebuilding they show that they will not be held down. It has more symbolic value than anything else and I respect their resolve.”
Several more minutes passed before Khell was ready to leave. When he looked at it in Jasmine’s way he could almost understand. The fire blacked shell of the city was much like the hearts of its people. Damaged on the outside, but not destroyed. In time it would heal.
”Let’s go back and join the others. They will want to know we have nearly arrived.”
Until lions have their historians,
tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
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Postby Killean » Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:15 pm

Image

I just don’t understand myself. Surely I can protect her from afar, and yet here I am… worrying that she will disappear from my arms… Shadows mind when blank as he reanalyzed his thoughts.
Disappear from my arms? His thoughts cried in a meek way. Shadow shook his head in disbelief and took a not too casual step away. Angel saw this and too noticed the uncomfortable look on the dark elf’s face. Before she had the chance to question his reaction, Shadow gave her an unexpected bow and calmly left the room. Shadow was so full of mystery, though mostly because of his lack of understanding. And this caused undue amounts of stress on top of those she already felt.
Quietly Shadow moved back to his usual meditative spot on the roof of the keep. There he tried to calm himself, only to find his anger rise the moment he tried to think of anything. As if by coincidence, the solution to his problem was answered when someone called out to him.
“Hey! You! The General requests you presence at a meeting!” Shadow opened his eyes and looked down to the caller. The soldier watched as Shadow slowly climbed down window by window, and then without even so much as a cold glance walked right past him and towards the entrance. Shadow moved for the room that was usually reserved for meetings and stood outside the door, listening in on the rather edgy conversation being held within. Vental apparently managed to calm things but Ruakha was getting rather angry and he shouted for everyone to be dismissed.
Shadow took this moment to enter, and in a not so silent manner either. The doors swung open, loudly crashing against the wall they were connected to. In reaction Ruakha snapped around, as did his bodyguards, ready to protect the general from the intruder. When they all saw that it was the demon they backed down, leaving Ruakha figuratively alone with Shadow.
“Where in the hells name have you been?!” Ruakha shouted at the top of his lungs. Shadow only briefly looked at the red faced general and attempted to walk past. However Ruakha was too pissed to let Shadow snob him in this way, and he grabbed Shadow’s tunic and pulled him back to his front.
“I’m warning you Rune! Never try that again! Where the hell have you been?!” Ruakha spat. Shadow wiped the General’s spray from his face and gave him a sly smile.
“I’ve been around Ruakha. That’s all you need to know.” Everyone knew that Ruakha would have liked nothing more then to decapitate Shadow right then and there. But what was surprising was that he calmed down, and looked questioningly at Shadow.
“Perhaps if I had her and the whelp killed, you would do your job huh?” Although his face remained straight, Shadow’s arm and hand twitched, his mind reverting instantly to intense anger. In a flash the demon side-kicked the closest bodyguard in the face, causing him to relinquish his blade to Shadow. Within a couple of seconds Shadow had the sword held above his head, ready to cleave it into the general’s skull. But he just froze there, the sword wildly shaking above his head. It wasn’t the curse of his soul stone it was Shadow genuinely trying to control his anger. Luckily everyone else in the room interpreted his hesitation as the former. Shadow closed his eyes in frustration and dropped his arms sighing.
“Now I will ask this one last time… Where have you been?” Ruakha spoke slowly through gritted teeth. Shadow dropped the sword in his hands and looked back to the General with a sad inquisitive look.
“I’ve been sitting on the roof meditating, Ruakha.” Shadow set the bait to lose Ruakha in a web of semantics.
“The soldiers checked the rooftop of the palace.” Ruakha argued, falling perfectly into place.
“I wasn’t on the palace rooftop until I was ready to be found. I was on the roof of a building in town, far from the eyes of any soldier.” Ruakha heaved a great sigh in anger, getting annoyed with ShadowRune’s constant games. Shadow saw the General’s body tense, knowing that Ruakha would love nothing more than to rip him apart with his bare hands. However that would get him nowhere, especially since there was no chance he could get a hold on Shadow.
“What happened at the mines?” Ruakha darkly mumbled.
“I…” Shadow paused, unsure of how to answer the question. From behind Ruakha and his bodyguards, Shadow caught glimpse of Vental giving him a serious look… trying to impart some kind of message. Shadow frowned and looked away for a moment, but then looked directly into Ruakha’s eyes.
“I killed one of their officers. However I was overwhelmed by their force so I was forced to retreat.” The General returned Shadow’s gaze with a cold expression. Unsatisfied Ruakha turned his back to Shadow and leaned forward on the table putting both his hands down. He remained like that for a minute before his head snapped up, looking at everyone with the anger returning.
“I thought I told all of you to leave?! Get out of here before I start claiming heads damnit!” Ruakha bellowed, slamming his fists down on the table. Some in the room hopped a bit when he did this, and as they were ordered, all silently filed out of the room. Just as Shadow turned to leave as well, Ruakha’s hand shot out and grabbed him. Ruakha simply shook his and with a stern look, implying that Shadow was to stay put.

Once everyone had left the room, including his bodyguards, Ruakha released Shadow from his grasp.
“You are going to do something for me, or I swear you will regret your inaction. I want you to go into the city and find the head of the city’s resistance. I don’t care how many houses you enter, or how many people you need to kill to find answers. I want this person’s head to me before the end of this week.” His words were silent and menacing. Ruakha was simply trying to keep a civil tone with Shadow, because he knew how much trouble he could cause to him. Shadow said nothing. He just smirked, nodded his head, and left slowly. When he was sure that Ruakha wasn’t going to stop him this time, he left the room. Shadow’s smirked disappeared the moment he was no longer in sight of the General. He really felt sick to his stomach… Something had to be done about Ruakha, and fast.
Without further hesitation, Shadow walked for the offices of Vental. When he entered the room, he was surprised by the large entourage of soldiers there. Shadow could tell that they were her personal bodyguards, because as Shadow entered most had already drawn their weapons and surrounded the person behind the desk. Most relaxed when they saw who had entered, except for one rather large man who seemed vaguely familiar. Shadow casually walked past all the soldiers, never letting his eyes lift from the armed one. Vental was about to speak when Shadow held up a finger between the two, asking for just a moment. He then snapped his fingers and pointed to Irish in a sign of memorization.
“Irish right? It’s been a while since I last saw you.” Irish’s body flexed in response, ready to strike out at this beast at any moment.
“Murderer. Monster.” Were his only replies to Shadow. Those brands hurt him, hurt with what little of a soul he had in him. But there was nothing he could do about these labels as they were true. Scars that he made with his own two hands. Shadow walked up to Irish, almost chest to belly with him. Irish let him, seeing that the former assassin had no large weapons on him, with no visible places on his ripped wardrobe to even hide any smaller ones. The small elf looked way up to the towering human and whispered, “You’re right Irish. Take comfort in the thought that I shall pay for it all when I die. Just remember that you will not be the one to bring my judgment on that day.”
Shadow returned to the desk front untouched. He apologized for his rudeness and bade for Vental to continue. Almost forgetting what she was going to say, she was curious about Shadow’s relations with Irish.
“And how, may I ask, do you two know of each other?”
“This is a small world we live in. Anyone who stands up and out is bound to be known from coast to coast.” Shadow replied quickly. If Irish was here as a spy for Somber, Shadow did not want to give away his position. However had he known this fact before he most certainly would have tattled. But things were different now, and it was best just to leave things well enough alone.
“Those who stand out, or those who murder hundreds by poisoning the wells.” Irish lashed out, apparently trying to force the issue of being Shadow’s executioner. Shadow just closed his eyes and looked down, trying to swallow the rage or sorrow.
“Ruakha.” Shadow reminded Vental in choked words. Things were getting off track, they had to focus as Shadow wanted Ruakha out of the picture now before any harm were to come to Angel and Kayin. Not only this, but the sooner Shadow held his soul stone in his hands, the sooner he could savor his freedom.
“What about him?” Shadow clawed at the table, burrowing slight holes in the wood. She was toying with him, and Shadow was getting rather upset being the target of all this abuse.
“Damnit woman, you know damn well why I am here!” Shadow shouted almost at the top of his lungs.
“Yes, yes, calm yourself demon.” She said rolling her eyes at his outburst, “Tonight, oh impatient one.” She added softly to prevent any further eruptions. However Shadow was not finished and Vental knew this, so she cut him off before any sound came from his throat.
“Listen ShadowRune, either you wait patiently or get the hell out of here! The last thing I need right now is an obnoxious pest shouting at me. And don’t give me any lines about informing Ruakha. We all know you want that stone back, and if any complications arise, you will never get the chance to hold it.” Her face suddenly took on a very dour appearance. Shadow’s stare challenged hers for a few seconds, and then he broke it off to stand in the corner leaning against the wall.

Everyone in room remained silent after the quarrel between Shadow and Vental. She was obviously waiting for something, though whether that was nightfall or not, Shadow did not have any idea. He tried to stay as calm as he could, letting himself fall into a trace of a sort to make the time go by faster. His questions about the wait were answered when the door opened, and two large men entered. One of them gave Shadow an eerie feeling, almost the exact same feeling when Shadow saw Dravven; the dragon changeling.
“Lenox, Teodor, thank you for joining us.” Vental greeted the dragon and his guardian to the meeting. These were the individuals Vental was waiting for apparently, hopefully.
“I trust everything is prepared?” Lenox asked as he and Teodor moved up to the desk. Vental replied with a few brief nods.
“Yes, but first some formalities before we begin. Lenox have you met our demon; ShadowRune, yet?” Shadow looked up in response to Vental’s hails, though he did not look too pleased at being called a demon. Well, he didn’t look very pleased at all no matter what he was called.
“Personally? No, although I might as well have considering all of the rumors I have heard. He has quite the past, regardless of being a demon now.” Vental laughed quietly to herself as she observed ShadowRune’s reactions.
“Indeed, and so we have been hearing. A well deserved position for you demon.” Shadow turned his head away from everyone, no longer wishing to look at them.
Once my life is my own, I shall erase those horrid stories. Mine is a past that should no longer exist in the people’s minds. Shadow thought and looked back, and strangely enough his gaze fell to Irish. Though he quickly averted his eyes as Irish would have likely gone berserk.
“Alright then, I guess that leaves one last question.” Vental started by looking back and forth between Lenox and ShadowRune, “Who would like the final honors? Mmm?” An interesting question. Shadow looked over to Lenox, who did the same to Shadow. Shadow assumed Ruakha had done something to Lenox that he would love to get his revenge for, but frankly it didn’t matter.
“I just want my stone. Nothing more.” Shadow replied slowly, and quietly. This was unexpected, and Vental’s face showed that fact. However she didn’t mull over the point for very long and prepared to start the meeting.
-神恵「争い」癒す
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Postby Ruakha » Wed Jun 20, 2007 7:07 pm

The general had managed to calm himself considerably once he was left alone. His bodyguards remained outside his door, ensuring he would not be disturbed. With his commanders away and the demon now on his mission Ruakha could take a moment to catch his breath. He knew he had a temper, and he may have let it get away from him a little in the meeting, but he did mean what he said when he had threatened his commanders. His hands were tied, and he had no progress to report home. He had managed to take only a single city, and he had yet to cleanse its walls of petty loyalists. Worse, was the fact that he could not move his soldiers outside the wall for fear of an ambush. No, once the location of the Faith army could be discovered it would be a simple matter of eradicating them. Ruakha was confident Lenox would follow his command and destroy their enemies. It was true that the General felt threatened by both the dragon and his rider, but it was more of a political fear than a physical one. Lenox was cunning, with a sound mind for tactics, and he was ambitious. It was not unheard of for a dragon of some skill to hold a position much like the one Ruakha held now. Lenox was also much the same as ShadowRune in that they were both notoriously difficult to control.

Lenox was a son of the Empire and would follow orders, but only to a point. Ruakha hated the fact that there was clearly a double standard in the military systems of the Flurin when it related to the dragons. The general had wanted the dragon’s mind bent to one end, and that was the annihilation of the Faith soldiers. In Ruakha’s mind, it was a simple fact of war that sacrifices would have to be made. That was why he had send Teodor on a patrol in search of the enemy soldiers. It served two purposes. If Teodor were to be killed, his death would seal Lenox’s hatred for their enemies. If he managed to return, Ruakha would have the benefit of the report. What the General had not expected was for Teodor to survive in captivity and find a way to return. The fact that the knight returned with absolutely no information had been an insult. Ruakha was still confident that Teodor knew more than he was saying, and ordinarily he would have had that information extracted from him. This was a special case however, and the General knew that this was a sensitive subject. He knew Lenox was loyal to the Empire, but interrogating his rider so soon after his rescue would undoubtedly have caused Lenox to defect, and that was too high a cost at the moment.

Several hours had passed since his meeting with his commanders, and the knock at his door came as something of a surprise. After a moment of silence, the door opened and one of his bodyguards stepped in.
”Sir, there is a messenger here to see you. He claims to have come from Commander Vental.”
Ruakha smiled. It seemed as though his threats had finally produced some results.
”Send him in.”

A moment later the messenger was led in and brought before the General. Two of Ruakha’s bodyguards stood to each side of the man, but the messenger was obviously no threat. He was hardly a boy, and his eyes were lowered submissively to the floor as he handed the sealed parchment over. The General dismissed the youth, and waited until he was once again alone before breaking the seal and reading the letter’s contents.

’General, your presence is required in the prison as soon as you are able. It appears as though we have finally captured the Queen of Faith hills. She was taken in with a small group of soldiers, and the patrol has only returned just now. She openly admits to being the monarch we seek, and asks only that we spare the lives of her men. I know this matter is one you will want to deal with personally. I will be waiting upon your arrival before we question her.
~Vental.’


The letter may have been short, but with it came the hopes of salvaging his operation. Getting to his feet, the General called for his guards, who opened the door and filed in to answer his summons.
”Luck is with us today gentlemen. It appears as though we have finally captured the Queen herself.” The news was something Ruakha wanted to see with his own eyes. Vental had been right to wait for him before the questioning started. The General began to suit himself in his ceremonial armor. The full plate mail gleamed flawlessly, and the thick dark blue cape flowed down his back. He hated this armor, but he understood its symbolic effect. He wanted to look as much the part of a conqueror as he could, and this was by far his most impressive and expensive equipment. It took some time for his bodyguards to fit the armor and tighten the straps. Ruakha only rarely ever wore this attire, and it had always been for show. He looked in the mirror briefly, and gave a nod of approval. It was fitting, to have him standing in polished steel while the Queen kneels before him in the dirt. The General could not help but feel a little smug and self righteous over the whole situation. Once he was prepared, he was escorted to the prison by his bodyguards.

He was greeted at the entrance by Vental and lead inside. She smiled when she saw his armor, but it was soon concealed back under her serious demeanor.
”This is most fortunate Vental. I can not say how pleased I am that you’ve finally found her. Where is she?”
”We have her in isolation sir, follow me.”

Vental led the way as they walked through the prison, the smell of rotting food, and human waste was almost too overpowering to bear. Vental brought him to a large door at the end of the compound. Vental’s personal bodyguards had been standing guard over the door until the General approached. They stepped aside as Ruakha stepped forward to open it. He paused briefly to compose himself and hide his childish excitement, before letting the door swing open.
True power does not come from wielding a sword.
Rather it comes from influencing those that do.
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