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Author Topic: [Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight  (Read 15228 times)

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Offline Michael Jotne Slayer

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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2005, 05:28:00 PM »
Dietrich was just about to howl a warning for his friends when he heard  Sharee's insult. He smiled grimly.
She was a part of the mercinaries. Had she given up much to come to this far, strange place? How deep, how strange is the courage of women. Courage is in many ways expected of a man, he is conditioned to it from childhood.
Men grow up in a world of wars and press-gangs, of highwaymen and lords sometimes as high-handed as they. Dietrich grew up to expect hardship and war. But a woman?

Dietrich had seen women follow their men to war, seen them seeking over battlefields to find their lonely dead, or the wounded who would who die but for them. He had seen a woman pick up a man and carry him off the field to a place where he might have care. Sharee was one of the bravest and best warriors he had fought with, even though her methods of war was not what he was used to.

Dietrich hurried down to Sternflucht.

"Barbarians are climbing the wall, they will be here soon."

Dietrich tried to keep his voice down. It was vital that Sternflucht made up his mind and gave orders before someone knew. Whatever they did they should stick together.

"We might be able to kill them or slow them off. If we can create a boulder by pushing some rocks over the egde. Or maybe Share can do something with magic?"

Dietrich noticed Sternflucht's worried look.

"Heh, don't worry. I don't think we will die yet. One of my mother's made a prophecy when I was i child. A man was about to attack her, she told him that he would die by the sword of her son in the ruins of a flaming city. He did kill her, but luckily I had several mothers. I don't see any flaming cities here, do you?"

Dietrich laughed grimly at his own joke as Sternflucht seemed to make up his mind.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2005, 08:52:26 PM »
Domunsoka rose from the body of the dead barbarian and clutched the bloody throwing axe in it's hand. Rivulets of crimson rolled over it's fingers like sanguine rings.
Mimicking the actions of a cautious human, the ghost doll stepped in among the trees to look for remaining barbarians. Seeing none, the wooden man stooped to a corpse and tore off a section of leather.
Seeing Dietrich and Sternflucht conversing, Domunsoka stiffly approached, bearing the ragged strip of clothing. It dropped the stained axe and began to write, painstakingly, with it's bloody finger, until it had spelled out one word in a shaky, childish hand- "sword".
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2005, 03:02:19 AM »
The smoke was becoming unbearable. The canopy fire was raging out of control now, and even on the ground the moist leaves had become ablaze. Sternflucht applied the acid that Flare had provided and soon he was gritting his teeth in pain.

"Gods! d**nit! Can't you create something that does not hurt so, Flare?" the sergeant said, his voice full of humour and pain. They had all moved a bit uphill, to get away from the out of control flames.

Walking over to Dietrich the sergeant spied over the rim, noticing the climbing savages, the distant string of men which sometimes disappeared from sight, hidden behind the features of the cliff face.

"Great! Just what we needed!" the curled, blonde haired sergeant muttered. He looked at Sharee; the witch had just used her magic to heal her wounds. She seemed tired, the magic she had performed had taxed her and now she looked even paler than usual. She was breathing heavily and there was a sway to her stance.

It cannot be helped. There is no rest for any of us now. Not here.

"Sharee... Do you have the strength to harass their climb? I know there are several hundreds of them, many not even within line of sight, but can you stop those that are nearing the top?"

Once again looking at Dietrich the bare chested sergeant rested a hand on the powerful warrior's shoulder. "Please do not leave our witch and alchemist undefended, Dietrich! You know they can't fight in close combat, even if their lives depended on it" the sergeant laughed, but his meaning was clear. There should be no holes in their defences.  

Then Domunsoka approached. It stopped and tore off a piece of leather from one of the corpses, writing something in High Silmarite... "Sword?" the sergeant repeated. "d**nit, you are right! I lost my sword. Thank you Domunsoka". Sternflucht walked over to the corpse of the savage that had fallen over his sword. The leaves around the dead body were burning fiercely and the sergeant had to kick the body over the flames to be able to reach his sword.

The wooden man writes? Who would have thought that?

Hans Sternflucht chuckled as he retrieved and sheathed his sword. The wound had been cleansed so he put on his chain mail shirt, the smelly leather and cloth padding instantly warming his by now cold skin.

"Let us move away from the fire, lest it consume us all" he said. The fire was now raging out of control both on ground and in the trees. The squad began jogging uphill along the rim of the mountain. The smoke stung their eyes and noses, resulting in tears and coughing.

That rain better start.

Looking at the sky, Sternflucht realized the rain would indeed soon come. And it would probably be far more than they wanted. There was something about that storm. Something deeply unsettling.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #28 on: June 28, 2005, 07:55:30 AM »
Leaning on my stave, I peeked over the edge of the cliff, looking at the bloodthirsty horde below.
"Flare, you don't happen to have enough fireworks to blast this cliff into oblivion, do you?"

I nodded.
"Tought so."

Studying the approaching savages, I added:
"Now, we have three options: one of us could stay here and bash them as they come up one by one... not advisable. Second, I could leech you all dry of juice, and burn them to a crisp. Not enjoyable. Third, I use something simple, knock myself out and let you carry me. Pick one."
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Offline Alec_Shadowkin

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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #29 on: June 29, 2005, 09:33:58 AM »
Flare shook his head at Sharee's question. He did have plenty of explosives, but the chances of being able to rig them to take these barbarians off the cliff in any sizable numbers were miniscule.

"Personally, I don't believe we can fight all of them. We need to get moving, perhaps we can meet up with the rest of the unit high up the slope and if not, at least we can make some ground. Sharee, if you have something you can do, even if it will incapacitate you, I say we do it, then Dietrich or Domunsoka can carry you. I can't, simply because I can't risk shattering my vials by placing your weight against them."
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Offline Michael Jotne Slayer

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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #30 on: June 29, 2005, 07:30:38 PM »
Dietrich moved in the forefront of the group and as they halted to talk, he could hear running footsteps somewhere nearby, someone approaching at a great speed. The barbarian chanting sounded different now, more frantic, as if the purpose of the chant has changed.

Dietrich was certain he could hear cold fear in the voices of the savages. The chanting was growing more distant too...

"Are they retreating?" He murmured to himself.

Confused, Dietrich gazed down at the climbing barbarians,
but they seemed to have reversed. As if they a were fleeing from the mercenaries, or ... something else.

Unexpectedly, unrationally, Dietrich begin to shiver, his knees wobbly with sudden fear.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2005, 09:03:51 AM »
"One problem solved" I noted, watching the barbarians turn tail and run "but I am certain that another one is coming up. So, let's get moving so that it does not find us when it arrives!"

The air was full of fear-spirits, carried by the storm and feasting upon the battlefield, as well as the withdrawing horde - and us - like swarms of flies, their chitter, usually audible only to beasts, now almost in range of ordinary human hearing.

I eyed the glade we just left with both curiosity and suspicion... though, I had to cast the former aside.
"The sooner we're out of here, the more likely we're to live. There's little honour in death."

Even though the huge energy surge accumulating behind us drew me to it like a moth to the flame - and I was sure that I would burn if I went there - I exerted all of my will and set myself into motion. Away from it.

I closed my eyes, and stretched out my arm for someone to lead me.

While on the run, I focused on but two things - the movement of my legs, as not to forget walking, and the ambient energies - touching my seven chakras I reached out to the plants and beasts, and lend a spark of life here and there - withering a few leaves or sending a hedgehog to sleep in compensation. Whether this could keep me going I did not know...
"Captain, the buttocks are moving from the pink into the red and purple spectrum! We cannot maintain this rate of spanking any longer!"

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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2005, 01:17:08 PM »
Domunsoka's gait became smooth and deliberate as he stalked through the trees, guarding the rear of the party. The wooden man discerned that the barbarians now were climbing down once more, retreating into the distance. It was odd, but possible that they were coming around behind.

As the ghost doll followed, listening for the tell-tale sounds of a sneak attack, it's vision was drawn to a flock of birds on the edge of the oncoming storm, a circling ring of birds which drifted flutteringly, in a detached, even dreamlike manner which belied the furious dark clouds behind them.
A single, large, black bird detached itself from the cloud, and swooped down across the mountainside. Domunsoka felt an edge of strange curiosity; the bird seemed oddly mesmerizing.

The wooden man's vision was interrupted by a wall of trees as the bird swept lower. It lifted it's head to look towards the front of the column.

Everyone was silent.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #33 on: July 02, 2005, 10:51:36 AM »
Flare shook his head, trying to clear his vision. His eyes watered and he wiped them with the back of his hand. Agreeing with the others that moving while the savages retreated was a good plan, he started walking with the others. Sharee held out her arm for support and Flare took it and began their hike up the slope. The storm continued moving in, looking more menacing by the minute.....
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #34 on: July 02, 2005, 08:46:58 PM »
She ran through the underbrush, thorns scraping her tanned legs, ripping her dress asunder. Wild panic surged through her veins, her heart beat like furious thunder. She had never run this fast, and the forest seemed a blur as she sped through it. She nearly ran into a fir and had to dodge it quickly, falling to the ground in the process, rolling down the steep incline. She hurt her ankle and a soft whimper escaped her lips, before she burst out from the bushes landing unceremoniously on her behind, her hair blocking her vision.

No, no, no! I must get on my feet, I must escape, I must flee

She removed her hair with a quick movement, and looked around.  She discovered that she was no longer alone. She had stumbled upon a group of individuals she had seen before, among Marcus’s goons; it was some of the mercenaries from Arbad. She stared fearfully at each and every one of the hirelings, trying to remember faces, personalities, anything. Knowing her enemies had long since become a way of survival for her, and she always tried to take note of personality and demeanour. A girl of her low stature and less than perfect upbringing simply had to. Her eyes were quickly drawn to the wooden construct in the rear of the small group.

That thing! I remember that thing! It is the strange wooden machine, the fiendish contraption employed by the mercenaries. Marcus was always interested in that one; he threw the bones, divining for answers. He even prayed to the vermillion clay idols of Utha-Lagath, the chaos conclave, and that cost him, so he clearly considered the chunk of wood important. In the end he had his answers and he had seemed so confused, besides the mercenary captain would not sell it, said he was no slaver, to which the master said the captain was ludicrous. It was a construct, nothing else.

Solstara moved her eyes, fearing she might have stared overly long at the exotic piece of machinery. Her eyes fell upon the alien looking female which was led uphill by a man in a leather coat.

The she-devil is here too, that vulgar porcelain doll, a witch and a temptress Marcus had called her. She would become useful for him he said, so she may be a threat to me. Perhaps she is one of his contacts? And that other man, the scarred soul as Marcus had called him… Marcus always claimed that he smelled like the burning wastes of hell, though he had never approached him… But I don’t smell anything, so he must have referred to something else. It must be some other attribute then.
 


Then Solstara’s frightened eyes finally rested upon those two at the front of the squad; one was a grim, black haired warrior, the other was their leader, a heavily armoured blonde man. Both were cautiously studying her.

It is that hideously ugly warrior, gawking of course… staring at my cleavage… Oh, my bodice has been tattered in the flight through the forest. He may be hideous, but him I can use. And the other one… Their leader, with his greasy blonde curled hair and constant laughing. My master said the mercenaries were vital to his plans, unwitting fools, pawns, and marionettes, but also dangerous. He had studied them, even before hiring them, and he had followed the mercenary captain for days and days. But many of them seem to be missing… The tall archer, the smooth talking, womanizing spearman, the blue eyed swordsman, and the others, ones I do not remember… They are not here. They are probably dead then, killed in the ambush.

Of course these people had not seen Marcus as much as Marcus had seen them, hidden behind the velvet curtains of his carriage as he had been or skulking through the alleys and taverns of Arbad. While the soldiers had marched alongside the carriage, Marcus had indulged in the pleasures of the flesh or been reading one of his rare books. But yes, he had also spent a lot of time spying on his hirelings, learning their names, collecting pieces of their clothing or even strands of their hair. He was strange that way. Most nobles would not have cared at all, but Marcus was obsessed with knowledge. Leverage he called it, a notion she could well understand. But he had darker sides too, sides she could never relate to, sides which frightened her and filled her with horror and revulsion, shame and nausea.


Realizing that she had been silent for a long time, as well as being exhausted, sweating, cold and afraid, Solstara did the only thing she could. The young girl began to cry, her voice shivering, tears pooling in her eyes.

----------

Dietrich eyed the foliage carefully when suddenly a semi nude woman burst from the underbrush, her bodice had been ripped apart, and of her skirt only blood soaked strips of cloth remained. Her body had been scratched by thorns and falling, but by something else too. The woman was a mess, but still beautiful despite her condition. She was the youngest of the employer’s prize girls, a brown haired, slightly tanned beauty who had received the butt end of many a mercenary’s vulgar joke. For long moments she just sat there and all was quiet. She eyed them fearfully, more akin to a wild animal than the pouting, lustre pleasure toy of yesterday. She, as well as her fellow concubines, had been the erotic fantasy of many a mercenary, but any such thoughts, should they have existed among Sternflucht’s survivors, were gone now. For a moment she looked like she would run, but then she burst out in tears, sobbing helplessly.

Hans Dietrich stroke his blood stained hand through his greasy, blonde hair. “I hate it when they do that” he uttered, before he approached her and put his fur cloak on her shoulders. Hans was no angel, but for a mercenary he was unusually gentle. Noticing a smirk on Sharee’s face he kicked some leaves in her direction. “Yeah, yeah!” he said and crouched beside the girl, which was in her late teens. “Girl, I need to know. Why are you running? Has something happened to the others ahead? Are they alright?” he said with poorly veiled urgency in his voice.

As Sternflucht sat by the girl, waiting for her tears to stop, a great, black bird flew over their heads. Domunsoka watched the dark harbinger of the storm, mesmerized by its flight. It did not move its wings, but floated instead on the howling wind with a near divine grace. Then it let out a single cry, a piercing sound, as if filled with horrible grief. It was as if it was mourning them, lamenting their future passage from this world.

Some seconds passed, while the girl sobbed and the bird disappeared from sight. Without warning the storm arrived and the wind grew in intensity. A mixture of rain and snow began lashing against their faces, visibility dropping dramatically.

“Darn! That was quick! At least we are safe from the fire” the sergeant shouted, his voice muffled somewhat by the sound of the howling wind and the violent splashing of slush. It was uncanny how the storm had arrived, and Domunsoka could not help but feel a little uncertain. Was this what the humans called fear?
 
-------

Marcus, fallen hero of Keddath, studied the remains of Yeddion, once a blonde, beautiful pleasure slave. Now she was but a horribly disfigured corpse, her chest cracked open, her lower abdomen ravaged by the dark summoning, and her face locked in surprise and horror. The slender man caressed his shaved scalp, tears ran down his cheek, and his head hung low. His deep set brown eyes studied the broken body of the woman, horrified yet fascinated by the way it had cracked her chest open, displaying her internal organs, her skin held taut by the ribs.

It had not been enough. The summoned fiend now lay slain beside her and Marcus himself had barely survived. Marcus looked at his chest, noticed how the slush whipped against his blood soaked brown robe. Breathing had become difficult and Marcus had to focus. He gathered essence about him, borrowing minutes of precious life. Turedon stood beside him, the tattooed giant of a man covered with small cuts, his breath heavy with exertion and pain. Had it not been for the gigantic barbarian, Marcus would have been dead now; his broken body would have rested beside the dead concubine.    

Yeddion’s demise had been in vain, the summoned creature stood no chance, the precious Kal’Rhyn vessel had been shattered and the horror had disappeared. Marcus had used all his power, harnessed every ounce of the strength he had, but it had not been enough. The horror had crushed his defences as if they were but fragile shells of porcelain. As for the Giezzuerath Nether Beast summoned through its craving for human females; it had been an easy prey. The horror had torn it to pieces; it’s sadistic, windy whispering mocking Marcus. Then in the end something else had distracted it. Marcus had felt it too; someone had drawn upon essence nearby. Fortunately for Marcus and Turedon, that hapless soul had secured their survival.

Gently laying his arms around the brown robed noble, Turedon lifted his master. Then the huge man began running up the path, unfazed by the fierce storm. Turedon ran as if possessed, the unbeaten champion of the Ugeroth Tribes was terrified. The mercenary main force was only ten minutes ahead...
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #35 on: July 03, 2005, 02:58:05 PM »
"Look, a toy."

An opportunity for a heroic rescue. Splendid. I braced my arms against my sides, and spoke to the girl:

"So, has our bread-giver and benefactor, His highness Sir Marcus, esq., decided to dump you after you prove to be much of a burden on his valliant flight from the battlefield?"

After noticing the veil of utter terror surrounding her, as well as the trail of black spirits following her, as well as a slightly darker... taint? ... I asked, one yebrow lifted up:

"And praytell, what befell you... before it jumps out of the bushes like you did."
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #36 on: July 03, 2005, 06:20:47 PM »
As Sharee delivered her withering comments, the curvaceous brunette leant closer to the Silmarite sergeant, pushing her torn bodice tight against his chest, apparently seeking warmth and shelter from the whipping sleet. She breathed heavily and her eyes met the sergeant’s and the eye contact was held for a moment longer than usual. Rising quickly, the sergeant drew his breath and wiped away the slush on his face. “Phew, this one is dangerous!” he said and raised his hand. “Girl, Sharee is right, though she may sound hostile. Why are you here? What has happened to you? What has happened to the others?”

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

Solstara stared at the ground, abandoned by the leader of the mercenaries. Smiling bravely, she lifted her left hand, reached for Dietrich to help her on her feet. “Actually… I… have been given my freedom by Marcus” she said, her face blushing as she instantly realized what a terribly poor lie that was. Slaves were never pardoned and Marcus would not free anything at any time and these people probably understood that. Solstara noticed the flash of anger in the temperamental witch’s face and spoke quickly “No… I fled the mercy of our ‘benefactor’ milady, as he was kinder than I could bear”, her voice was filled with anger and sarcasm.

Rising to her feet, she laid her face against Dietrich’s wet, armour clad chest, slipping her cold right arm beneath his rusted armour shirt. The warrior smelt awfully, but she did not care and softly she caressed his back with circling motions of her index finger. While she rested her face against his chest, she looked Sharee in the eyes, and in turn met the gaze of each mercenary, until finally she was looking at Sternflucht. “I was supposed to be bait so Marcus could convince what he called a guardian beast to enter our world” Solstara had clenched her left arm around the neck of Dietrich, her right arm still caressing his back. “So I ran, and within this forest I felt something, a... presence..." her voice was quivering, her lower lip twitching as if she was ready to once more burst in tears. Then she inhaled deeply, dramatically calmed down and spoke one last sentence, “As for your friends, they were fine the last time I saw them, not that long ago”.
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Offline Michael Jotne Slayer

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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #37 on: July 04, 2005, 05:43:20 AM »
Dietrich was confused. Why was this woman caressing his back, why here?
In front of everyone? He did not think they saw the circling motion under his cloak of sewn-together dog skin. At least he had not called the girl his mother yet, as he had a bad habit of calling all the women he spoke to.
He felt his back growing warm from the massage, she must have hit a nerve. He felt more relaxed.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #38 on: July 04, 2005, 06:18:49 AM »
Solstara felt the warrior relax as she caressed his back. It was a desperate gamble but she did not have any other choice. These were Marcus's men and they might force her back to him. She needed something... leverage as Marcus would call it. This was turning out better than she could have hoped for.

"Please, sirs and lady, let me go. Marcus won't ever know! You can do whatever you want with me, as long as you just let me go! I want off this d**n mountain and I want away from Marcus! I know you all hate him! He is a pig, a dog, he uses you!" She spat as she talked about him, her usually seductive features filled with hate and raw emotion. Then she whispered in a low, conspiring manner, barely audible above the sounds of the storm, "Beware of Marcus, for he will bring you no joy! I am not his only toy... You are his creatures too now, can't you see? ...Please let me go! I can do you no harm and you are not paid to watch me!"
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #39 on: July 04, 2005, 02:50:55 PM »
"Likewise, we're not paid to avoid skinning you alive, or putting you out of your misery... now, would you be more generous with the information, and less generous with the sweetness? I am certain that many a male was left gasping after your erotic onslaught, but these men have currently all their blood in the muscles, so I guess your charms might have a dimmed effect."

Actually, I almost showed that I felt sorry for the stray whelp - a feeling luckily dimmed by her conniving and dishonest way.

"Now, we are all tired and, franly, have seen better days, so be so kind and tell us what you know, and remember... I know it when you lie. When you're done, we'll decide whether to make new underwear out of your skin, bring you back to your playmate, or let you go..."

With these words, I blinked towards Sternflucht, prompting him to play the good one.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #40 on: July 05, 2005, 02:11:57 AM »
I know when you lie... Marcus uttered those exact words when he asked me whether I enjoyed pleasing a customer of his, a fat merchant from the city on the three hills. I derived no joy from what I did; the merchant just dropped his pants, threw me on a table and had his will with me... I bring joy to others; they never bring it to me.

That truth infuriated Marcus, he wanted me to desire what I do, to crave it like Yeddion and Onatha does. That night I lost my status as his favourite concubine and my life was turned into hell, an endless series of abuse and humiliation.


"Skinning me alive, miss? Pardon me, but I can think of better things to do in a storm, like seeking shelter or catching up with your friends" Solstara said, smiling genuinely.

Sternflucht had noticed Sharee's small wink and approached the unfortunate wench, laying a reassuring arm on her shoulder. "Oh, Sharee, this girl is no threat. Just tell us everything you can think of and we'll let you go, that is a promise".

"Well, Marcus is here to find some royal symbol within the ruins of the old palace. It is said to be the sign of the true royal heir of Ardamien. Anyone of the royal Ardamien bloodline possessing it would probably be acknowledged as the true ruler of the land, rendering the King's claim invalid" as Solstara spoke the mercenaries remembered the tales of the Ring of Keldon, the true sign of the monarch, now considered lost at some point in antiquity. "The King of Silmaroth is afraid the enemy might attempt to gain Ardamien by giving it to one of his many relatives and appointing him as a puppet King of Ardamien, in effect incorporating it into the empire. So the King ordered the royal sages to scour through the library, to discover the last known location of the old symbol of power. The last known references took us here, to the ruins of the City of Kings" Solstara looked genuine as she spoke, her voice was loud. She seemed enthusiastic and engaged in what she was speaking about.

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

Endless legions with spears of steel, stained with blood. Warriors clad in leather and steel, symbols of power carved into the thick hides of the Varmung beasts. Our warriors all hail us, bow before their commander. It is spring in the City of Kings and the king himself will bestow upon us the greatest honour.

The greatest honour.

Gaumawaila, our loved one, the king has chosen us for the honour, do not look so sad. We will remember you always.

Remember you always.


It slid through the underbrush. The scent of the prey was strong now; it could feel it as well as other smells. The smell of essence was strong too. Someone had been drinking deeply from the flow of the essences, drawing its attention.

Powerful limbs covered in arcane tattoos brimming with power, infused with the spark of the divine, soundlessly navigated the treacherous sloped forest floor. The leaves had been soaked in slush and made no sound as the horror slid by, approaching six figures engaged in a conversation. It could sense the life signatures emanating from five of them as well as the odd signature emanating from the sixth.

Our prey has been violated. Fell auras surround her genitals and her entire abdomen, though she no longer carries her dangerous offspring. She will never bear children again.

There is the witch, the one we could sense. The one who drew us here. The one we will savour. Ahhhh, she is of the forbidden race. We will drink her blood then... No, we will drink her soul, search through her mangled corpse, and find its place of hiding so we can claim it.

Ah, the guardians surround these ones. Graathor, Tan-Tanorden... We can see you our children. We can sense you. We will avenge you.


----------

"...and so Marcus has collected bits of hair, blood, excrements, clothing... Everything that you left behind in the city or on the journey. He is not an ordinary noble; he is a heretic, a wizard, an abomination. These things give him power. I have seen him face to face with a HexenJaeger, smiling as he was condemned. I have seen him pull out a small jar containing that Hexenjaeger's blood as well as other things... And when he crushed that jar..." Solstara looked directly into the eyes of Flare, who had been listening attentively to her tale. She smiled a sad smile and shook her head. Then she once again looked into the eyes of the mercenaries "You are his toys too now. He owns you. He owns your soul. There are some kind of guardians in this place, the tribe of the royal line, the tribe you fought, as well as something else... Something created by the Shamans of antiquity. Something truly horrible."

The trees sheltered Sternflucht's squad from the worst onslaught of the storm, yet they all had to wrap their cloaks about them. Sternflucht himself had no cloak anymore, the price of being gallant, so he took cover by a dense bush.

When Flare and Domunsoka next looked upon the sergeant, he had disappeared. He had made no sound, simply vanished. Hans Sternflucht was nowhere in sight.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #41 on: July 05, 2005, 04:02:30 PM »
The ghost doll stiffened. Sternflucht nowhere in sight. The wooden man swept blank face from side to side, looking for the blonde man, and it's hands balled into wooden fists.

Surreptitiously, it moved toward Flare- the alchemist also seemed alerted to the disappearance of Sternflucht. It stood, fists at sides, and stared blankly (as it was created) at Flare, adopting a pose which suggested alertness.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #42 on: July 07, 2005, 09:25:16 AM »
Flare noticed the wooden doll and glanced around. The sergeant was gone. Flare nodded to Domunsoka and crept through the brush toward Sharee. He kept his voice down as low as possible for her to still hear him over the storm.

"We have two issues. One, Domunsoka and I have lost track of Sternflucht and can't find him. Two, this girl is either intentionally lying or was lied to and believed it. Leavings from that many men? Marcus would need some way to carry it all and we had no carriage or wagon with anything suspicious. Something's wrong here."
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #43 on: July 10, 2005, 05:45:08 AM »
"So then, let's stand with the backs to each other, and place the wench as bait in a freely visible place. That's what she deserves for lying."

I leaned against Flare, for protection and likewise for support. Those legs of mine - I'd have thought that after all the travelling with the mercs, they'd carry me longer.

My stave and the alchemist giving me sufficient support, I whispered to the spirit-shards of deceased forest critters, mice caight by foxes, beetles picked by birds, whose essences haunted the soil for a few hours before departing: "Spread out, little ones, and give me a sign, when a beast of prey, intent on kill, your little whiskers spy..."
"Captain, the buttocks are moving from the pink into the red and purple spectrum! We cannot maintain this rate of spanking any longer!"

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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #44 on: July 13, 2005, 06:49:48 AM »
Flare held Sharee firmly as she whispered her sorcerous spell to the ghosts of the forest. She was cold now, unlike anything he had ever felt before, and she was unable to fully support her own weight, depending on him and leaning on her stave. As he had done many times before, Flare let the fingers on his free hand trace the outline of the flasks and ingredients in his pockets, noticing how much he had left. He was preparing for a possible fight.

Sharee extended her senses, reached out to the animals of the forest. They were all unusually quiet today, as if in hiding or having fled the region. With all her energy she reached out and in one place she felt a presence, her spirit brushed against it, and it was cold, uncaring and set on murder. Shuddering she withdrew from that malignant beast, silently dreading whatever it might be, and reached to new places. There... In one of the bushes, under the foliage, nestled between the moss and the fallen leaves, pressing against the stem for protection, was a tiny animal spirit.

It was known as Firrin, a small forest rodent killed a year ago by a wasting disease. It was now mortified by what was happening. Sharee embraced it with her essence, comforted it, promised it riches beyond counting, mountains of nuts and sweet roots, and slowly the terrified spirit calmed down and began whispering, squeaking small secrets known only to the forest animals. Of bountiful trees full of precious nuts it spoke, and of things considered important by the small and tiny, but between such trivial information words were repeated, images of horror threatening to overwhelm the tiny mind. "Crawling, crawling, beast of the city. Come to feast on the flesh of you, pretty" the words were repeated and Sharee sensed the image of a creature, much like a human, crawling on all four. "It can spy both you and me, sense spirits and ordinary things! It knows the secrets of mind and matter. It is here, nearby. Hide Alvensong, friend of the nature, first born race, hide!". Though the phrases it used was unknown to the elven witch, the meaning was clear.

Dietrich held the slave girl as Flare held Sharee, tight against their chests for one woman was nearly unconscious and the other fearing for her life. Flare saw Sharee's eyes roll back in her head and she began bleeding from her nose, yet somehow she remained conscious and he could feel spasms through her body. Dietrich just stood there, whispering something and stroking the slave through her hair.

The pleasure slave had been gaping ever since Flare had spoken. Thoughts were racing through her head, doubts and fears, but most of all regret. She was regretting the moment Marcus had purchased her. The alchemist was right, of course. But she had not seen it before this moment. Marcus always laughed at her, told her she was naive in her sweet little way, but he had also been manipulating her, telling her of the horrible ways in which she would die if she did not do as he said. If she did not succumb to his every little desire. More than a master of magic, Marcus was a master of twisting the minds of people, either locking them within the cold embrace of fear or subverting people until they were mindless drones, lapdogs abiding his every command. Now she would pay for his conniving ways, as the mercenaries were about to sacrifice her to something she did not perceive but most certainly felt. "I just told you what he told me" she said, her voice quivering.

Nearby bushes shook visibly, red berries and leaves falling off, when suddenly Sternflucht burst from them, landing in the middle of the mercenaries. Blood was seeping through his chain armour, a wound on his shoulder drenching the iron rings with dark crimson fluids. He collapsed on the ground, his breathing laboured and his face more pale than usual. Something round had pierced his armour; a spear or something akin to a spear, only thicker. Dietrich let the girl go and instantly took up position above his sergeant, a sword in his hands. If anything the sleet fell even quicker now, and visibility had been reduced to less than twenty feet. He could barely see Domunsoka on the other side of Sharee and Flare.

-------

The men of Shimrakhan descended from the mountains, armed with their alchemical wonders and their strengthened steel. Their high mages levelled the mountainside with their hell fire and explosions of bluish flames. The guardians of Mount Keldon stood not a chance, the magic, steel and alchemical mixtures thinning their ranks by the second. Then we struck. We tore through their ranks, oblivious to their magic, dodging their alchemy. And when we reached the high mages on their elevated position, they truly screamed. They howled in terror as we tore them to pieces, but their screams were nothing compared to the shrieks of their souls as we found them before they found their afterlife.

We remember the call of the Shaman; Tan-Tanegan, the fourtieth shaman of the mountain. He called us then as Tan-Tanorden has called us now. But the ages change. Oh, yes they change, and this time the invaders are fewer, armed more poorly than the dangerous men of Bluethon


The thing stared through the foliage, studied the alert wooden figure where it stood, sword in hand. The wooden man clearly had a soul, he could see it bound to the wooden frame, though likely the soul had been bound there by someone or something. The soul was old though, nearly as old as the essences of the men from the Bluethon army whose souls he devoured so long ago.

The thing crept closer. Studied. Sensed. Waited until the time was right.

----------

In a distant place, within a cold mountain prison, a young woman crouched. She was sweating heavily as she traced an intricate rune onto a tile on the prison floor. It was a circular rune, and within it was the Serpent, the river and the rock, and the scorpion as well as other signs both major and minor. Her sightless eyes stared at the stone roof, and she nodded gravely.

The time had indeed come. Time for change and freedom.

Sighing she began tracing the last piece of the combined rune; the sign of the Covenant of Keldon.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #45 on: July 14, 2005, 02:50:48 PM »
A slight tingle of a taste spicy and delicate crossed my lips - until I realized that it was... blood. My blood.
Much unlike most, I found the scent of blood ... tantalizing, invigorating, deligtful... I wondered for a split second what it would be like if the curse had befallen me and not my beloved.

"Stand firm, men" I spoke "for you did not have the time to recieve a priest's blessing - if you die this day, you'll end up in the Hells with me."

A shudder crept down my spine as I eyed the forest, the tingling of a predator's gaze, slowly like a cat stalking through the undergrowth...

'Come forth, darling...' I thought.
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #46 on: July 17, 2005, 04:19:06 PM »
Flare could feel the gaze of the infernal predator on him, though he could not see any sign of it. He knelt on the ground and, with his index finger, drew a small shape in the mud, similar to a crescent moon with a figure-8 overtop. It was a minor show of faith in his ancestors, a symbol of warding, though he didn't really expect this hunter to be frightened away by such a small and weak charm. It was more to help make any overlooking ancestors feel appeased. He reached into his coat and pulled out another flask of acid, tightening his grip on the spear haft with the other hand. He waited.....
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[Coldforged: Shadows of War] Prologue: Flight
« Reply #47 on: July 22, 2005, 08:48:05 AM »
It happened so fast, the mercenaries did not even register movement before Domunsoka was hurled through the air, colliding violently with a tree, his right arm torn off by the impact. The construct dropped limply to the ground and nearly fell off the cliff, but slowly it rolled back a safe distance from the edge. Turning about, holding Sharee firmly in his arms, Flare looked upon the naked man-thing that had emerged from the forest. It was immense, nearly eight feet tall, and its entire body was covered in arcane tattoos which formed a myriad different runes and symbols. It was almost like the tattoos emanated a humming sound, a deep bass, and they could feel the resonance in their stomachs and chests, vibrating with an unsettling intensity.
 
Panic surged through him and Flare hurled his vial through the air, but it missed its mark and only splatters of acid hit the monstrosity as the vial crushed against a nearby tree. The beast roared, its distorted human face twisting menacingly, revealing fangs and an incredibly long, pointed tongue. Its eyes regarded Flare, inhuman eyes they were, akin to deep black pools of oil or some other murky liquid. It was if they were beckoning him, threatening to suck him in. Then the creature moved. Flare could hear Dietrich bellow his war cry, but before he could react the huge monstrosity was upon him, burrowing its tongue deep into his chest. The alchemist’s vision swam and then all was black.
 
Dietrich charged the beast, his sword sliced through the air and actually cut deep into its right flank. The thing had already pierced Flare’s chest with a long, black tongue that stuck out of its mouth like a curved spear or like a thick, taut vein. And like a vein the tongue pulsated as the horror drank from Flare’s lifeblood. Screaming with rage Dietrich cut it again and again and soon the right arm and torso of the beast was covered with deep wounds. Still the creature did not react and then, with a quick, casual stroke, the horror lashed out against Dietrich, its black nails burrowing deeply into the warrior’s cheek and neck. The last sound Dietrich heard, before silence arrived, was a woman screaming.
 
Mother…
 
-------
 
The God-thing crept over the dying; savouring its victory, until it stood above the witch whose spells had called him.  She was a rare sight, the blood from her nose in stark contrast with her pale skin. It let its tongue caress her for a moment before it decided to study the wooden man whose spirit was spying on him. It could feel its eyes, if eyes were the proper term.
 
The stubborn wooden thing clutched a sword in its left arm, the only arm that was still attached to its body, and was trying to get back on feet. Slowly circling the construct, the horror studied Domunsoka with an amused look upon its beastly face.  
 
Then someone spoke. It was a single word. A name. His name.
 
“K’thandaur�
 
---------------
 
Sharee laid unconscious on the ground, now released from the grip of Flare whose unsteady breathing spoke of his close brush with death. Her spirit was still aware and when the newcomer arrived she willingly allowed it to enter her body, possess it and claim it for itself. She could feel the newcomer forcing her body to awaken, then watched in amazement as it arose and spoke a single word.  
 
“K’thandaur�
 
The horror which she had felt in the forest, and which had apparently decimated her friends, was circling Domunsoka, but turned about impossibly fast as she spoke its name. Sharee felt her arms being extended, watched as she plucked a leaf from an oak and marvelled as the spirit within commanded the creature to stop.
 
“Why?� the thing suddenly said. “Why do you do this?�
 
Sharee could feel her head being shaken, and then she saw the beast charging her with blinding speed. She cringed with fear. She wanted to run, to scream, to beg forgiveness. She did naught; the presence within only tore the leaf in two and the creature froze.  
 
“You have become powerful my son, my jailor, my dearest love. But you are still bound by the covenant. Those tattoos give you power, but they also limit you severely; anyone with the right knowledge could kill you outright with just a breathâ€?. Sharee could feel the presence within stir. Felt it nodding to Domunsoka, which responded by creeping towards the beast with its sword raised.  
 
“Nooooo, mother!� the thing begged pitifully, its dark eyes shedding nine black tears which ran down its cheek and fell to the ground, crystallizing upon impact with the ground.
 
“You jailed me my son. Your power corrupted you and you turned away from your task. You were once the greatest of our warriors, the noblest of our kin, but your nobility was… undone… by the covenant... I presume, though that is a dangerous presumption. I… I am sorry�
 
With one quick stroke Domunsoka parted the beast’s head from its shoulders, then the construct simply fell to the ground, dysfunctional.
 
“Oh dear� the presence said and Sharee felt herself being lulled asleep. “It is time for me to reforge the created, to revalidate the covenant and for the line of Keldon to be reinstated. But first we got to stop that troublesome mage�.
 
End of the Prologue
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