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Bleak Wood - Episode 1: Nightfall [DONE]

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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2006, 07:41:51 PM »
 

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The guard, a scarred young man in his early twenties, wore a fringed leather jacket and tight jeans. He was standing under a roofed loading area, resting the double barrels of his twelve gauge shotgun against his right shoulder. As Ceres and Ralkhara approached along with the oxen and aluminum cart, he lowered his shotgun, aiming at the traders.

“Halt there, this is the Warden’s property!” he yelled, stopping them before they were under the roof, “Who are you people and what are you doing here?”

The gigantic woman halted for a fraction of a second, then held her palms outstretched. “Evening, sirrah. I'd ask a question, if I may: Sir Jonathan Samuel Meyers, the physicist, is he present?” she said, her words seeming earnest.

The guard thought about it for a moment, but before he could reply the woman spoke again: “If he has some time to spare, he will not regret it - we might have something of great interest for him”.

<OOC>
Fast talk 05 base + 10 for piquing his curiosity + (5 x (Appearance -10)) = 5% chance
Fast talk: check failed
</OOC>

“No can do, mutant!” the young man said, taking another breath of smoke. Ceres and Ralkhara were still left out in the rain. The guard closed in on them while staying under roof. Shoving the barrels of his gun forcefully into the navel of Ceres, he made a pouting gesture with his lips and began blowing smoke in her face.

“Why the hell would I let a freak like you see a man like the Doctor? And you still haven’t told me your names!” the smirking guard said, one hand on the trigger and the other held out, palm up, as if he was asking for money.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2006, 07:59:07 PM by Ancient Gamer »
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2006, 10:58:24 PM »
 

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As much as Bakur distrusted the mysterious glowing man, he distrusted the two black-clad figures even more.  Something was going down, that much was for sure.  And it was probably something involving Syringe's Traders.  They were in for a rude awakening.  Catching his breath from the climb up the hill, Bakur placed his wrenches back into his belt and drew Siful'lahal, his greatsword, from his back.  Steel-King, guide me, he prayed quickly before moving forward to follow the men.

(ooc: Follow the two men while Sneaking.)

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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #27 on: December 24, 2006, 03:28:20 PM »
 

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"Excuse my rudeness then - I am Ceres, but the professor will more likely know me by my looks" Ceres smiled, adding: "Horn. Big. White hair. Can't be anyone else than me."
Pointing to the cart, she continued: "He certainly will be glad to see this - scientific stuff, you know - and, as for your outstretched palm, I will be more than happy to grease it once he is here, and he'll also be inclined to do the same, if I am correct. Hurry now, please - this weather is getting no friendlier."
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #28 on: December 25, 2006, 04:34:51 AM »
 

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The obnoxious guard kept the barrels of his shotgun in the navel of Ceres, and stretched his neck to look past her. Noticing the aluminum cart with it's covered content, he looked up at Ceres again. "So, what is that anyway?

"It is an ancient contraption! A machinery that we fetched from some old vault or research facility!" Ceres replied.

"Oh..." the guard said, water now running down the barrel of his gun. "Well... I... I-I don't think it would be wise to ask for funding while the professor is here. I think I will just ask for that fine broad sword of yours. I always wanted a melee weapon anyway!" the man in the leather jacket stated. "And I want the sheath too!"

Waiting impatiently for half a second, he added "You do want to meet the professor, don't you?"

********************

Kiph froze in place, not daring to close in on the woman. He stood there, hesitating, when all of a sudden voices could be heard from downstairs. “Tiphala, how did it go?” a coarse male voice grunted. Then footsteps sounded at the bottom of the stairs. “Ssshhh! Not so loud! He followed me here and could still be within listening range!” the woman replied, her voice kept deliberately low. “But is it him?” the rough male half whispered as he ascended the stairs, approaching her position.
 
“Yes, it is him” the woman replied.

<OOC: Kiph is at the top of the stairs, between Tiphala and the two approaching men. The room he is in is fairly large, but with little in the way of hiding places. It is dark however, unless the strangers use their sources of light. The best hiding place might be the huge milling stones and central pole>

********************


Bakur had reached the tower and pressed against the wall as Kiph had done moments ago. The burly man listened in on the same conversation as the Fatebringer, not knowing whether they spoke of Kiph or himself. The warrior could feel his pulse fastening and it almost felt as if he sensed everything; the rain and wind against his skin, the smell of rain and mud, the sounds from within. If he wanted he could barge right in and take everyone by surprise. He was fairly sure he could take a couple of men and a woman. He took a large breath and smiled to himself.
 


« Last Edit: December 25, 2006, 09:26:14 AM by Ancient Gamer »
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #29 on: December 25, 2006, 06:03:30 AM »
 

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<OOC>: the guard will have noticed naught, as the relic is covered - no sense in hauling loot around unprotected in torrential rain. Loot go bad in rain, methink.
If he insists on seeing what is in the cart, then, yes, the action above could have taken place.
Though, if possible at all, Ceres would like to keep the relic secret from the guard - if she can get him to fetch the prof by saying "ancient contraption/machinery from some old vault" she will do so. </OOC>
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2006, 09:29:12 AM »
 

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<OOC: That is fair enough. Cover for the rain and cover against prying eyes. Makes perfect sense. I changed the text accordingly AND included your ancient contraption reference>
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #31 on: December 25, 2006, 09:42:23 AM »
 

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The voice of Kiph rang in Ralkhara's mind, "Can't we just kill him and be done with it!?" Even with the current circumstances before them, the reclusive nomad found himself smiling beneath his wrappings. Although Kiph's often violent suggestions usually complicated matters, in this case, Ralkhara almost found himself wishing the scarred man was here, just to suggest such a thing!
Either way, Ralkhara left this situation more-or-less in Ceres's hands; he did not like to make rash decisions which could get himself or others injured or killed. Idly, Ralkhara raised himself to speak coarsely in Ceres's ear, "You could always make a new weapon... or maybe offer making one for him...? Or, we could use more... violent means, to find our way inside..." There was always the option of trying to convince the guard further by showing him what was beneath the coverings of what they were carting, but it was not necessary to point out that option; Ceres would be well aware of that choice.
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #32 on: December 25, 2006, 05:52:58 PM »
 

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Bakur's mind raced.  They knew someone was following them, but was it him or Kiph?  Who were they after?  Was it Aural Raiders after Bakur?  Some annoyed nomads after the Fatebringer?  He realized it didn't matter.  The fact was, they were after one of them.

He tighted his grip on Saiful'lahal.  He wondered where Badblood was.  Had he heard the same conversation?  Did he know Bakur was right behind him?  As much as Bakur did disliked the nomad, he knew he could usually trust him with his life.  Besides, a couple black-clad men and a woman would not be too difficult to handle even if Badblood didn't pull through.

The Bizaad al-Tabuh took a deep breath and gave another quick prayer to the Steel-King before turning the corner and sneaking up on the two men, his blade ready and thirsting for blood.

(ooc: Sneak up behind the men then attack when in range.)

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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #33 on: December 26, 2006, 06:36:12 AM »
 

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Ceres clenched her fist, and ground her teeth together. As if the day wasn't already taxing enough.
But then, one grows through challenge, not through inactivity.

"Cut it out" she spoke, a distinct cold in her voice, eyes slightly narrowed, focused upon the goon in front of the door. "You are here to serve the scholars inside, not yourself! It's them who pay you to do your duty, not me. If you play the fool now, feel free to do so, but I will then feel free to tell them of your behaviour, landing your comfortable behind on the street's dust in no time. This is about science, fool. Now, move." She ended her speech like a mausoleum door sliding shut. As she saw his hesitation, Ceres added: "You're still here?"
« Last Edit: December 26, 2006, 09:23:52 AM by EchoMirage »
"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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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #34 on: December 26, 2006, 07:17:10 AM »
 

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Ralkhara exhaled silently beneath his wrappings - It was all a matter of mettle; Ceres was quite strong of will - as a matter of fact, she had to be the most irritatingly stubborn person the nomad had met - but then again, who knows how bad off this guard was? Desperation could cause a man to do some outlandish things; especially when there weren't others around. Idly, Ralkhara shifted his right hand to grip the handle of his crossbow hanging off his belt, but he made no other movement, instead awaiting the guards reaction to Ceres's freshly released frustration.
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #35 on: December 26, 2006, 10:52:41 AM »
 

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The voices in Kiph's head kept him from acting in a timely manner. Now, he silently cursed his own indecision as the voices multiplied. Bakur would be near, Kiph thought, but where?....Kiph crawled as quietly as possible toward the pole, and stood there, trying to meld with it. He eyed the woman they had called Tiphala. Her compatriots were downstairs and would be here momentarily. But he still had a few seconds. He had to make a decision and did.

Figuring that if his surprise rush failed, he could always go plummeting out of the window, Kiph sprung into action. Not much of a plan, but Kiph had survived worse falls.

The Badblood crouched, then sprung upon the woman, machete held tight, aiming the butt of the blade at her head.

If he failed, he was fu-ucked.

(OOC: sneak...ATTACK!!)
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #36 on: December 27, 2006, 05:17:48 PM »
 

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The guard was taken aback by Ceres' outburst. Lowering his shotgun and dropping his cheeky attitude, the young man looked from Ceres to Ralkhara and back, and then rubbed his neck. "Uhhh, I guess you can come under the roof then" he said. Turning around he went to a control panel on the wall, punching in a code that caused the cargo door to open. "You can roll your cart in there while you wait for the scientist... And between us, it ain't easy to keep all those punks away. I didn't know you were hired help". With that the guard entered the building, his footsteps echoing down the corridor.

<OOC> 
Ceres: Persuade 15% base -15% shotgun - +intimidate ((Appearance -10)x5) +  ((Strength -10)x5))
(15 - 15 + 10 + 30) =  40% chance
Ceres persuade roll succeeded
</OOC>
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #37 on: December 27, 2006, 05:37:31 PM »
 

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The huge frame of the tribal warrior slid through the door, following the intended prey. It was dark in the windmill, but he could hear the footsteps and voices of the two strangers. "So, he wasn't alone, eh Tiph?" said one of the men. There was no reply for in that very second a creaking sound was heard from the bottom of the stairs.

The stair made a lot of noise as he put his weight upon it, and Bakur suddenly felt his pulse fastening. "Who is there?" someone asked, his voice full of worry. Acting swiftly Bakur sidestepped, squeesing into the shadows beneath the stairs. Then the two men came running down, each holding a combat knife in their hand.

<OOC: Sneak check fumbled. I figured you wanted to stay out of sight, so I rolled a hide for you which succeeded. The two men are in range and your attack roll with Siful'lahal succeeded. You may freely get rid of one of the men with your surprise attack>

Kiph maneuvered to get into position, when suddenly a fifth presence was announced by the creaking of the stairs. If he was to judge by their words, this presence was not one of the strangers, so Kiph could only presume that it was Bakur who had come blundering into the building. While trained for stealth and hunting, the big man did not have the skill of Ralkhara and Kiph. "Augard, Simeon, go fetch the bastard, but the spacers want him alive for their research! He ain't worth half if he is dead!". Holding the strange gun firmly in her hands, the eavesdropper Tiphala walked over to the top of the stairs. She was a beautiful woman with long hair, easily one of the prettiest women he had ever seen. She reminded him of something of his master often said. Women are like snakes, the prettier they are, the deadlier too.  This snake would pose no problem though, for she never noticed the shadow softly advancing on her from behind.

<OOC: Kiph Sneak succeeded and attack succeeded. Your weapon is not as powerful as Bakur's, but your surprise will enable you to kill on first strike, should you so desire. She has not seen you and no one knows you are upstairs with her>

« Last Edit: December 27, 2006, 05:54:57 PM by Ancient Gamer »
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #38 on: December 27, 2006, 06:04:02 PM »
 

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Bakur's eyes narrowed.  Having his cover apparently blown should have made him frightened or cautious.  Instead, it made him angry and determined.  The old wooden steps creaked and rattled as the two men bounded rapidly down them.  Bakur tightened his grip on Saiful'lahal and the noise got closer.  The second he heard footfall on the floor, Bakur burst forth with a yawp and swung his steel at the nearest black-clad thug.

(ooc: Sneak attack!)

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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #39 on: December 28, 2006, 01:31:30 AM »
 

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<OOC: Okay, the damage! I do it this way: I roll all the dice and describe the outcome. Remember that there are advanced combat options, like aiming, knocking out and disarming. If you want to do stuff like that, remember to tell me when you state your action in the OOC. Btw: I understood it as if you both go for the kill. Commencing GM sequence>

Bakur moved out of the shadows with the swiftness of a wasteland dog-wolf. Saiful'lahal gleamed as it reflected what little light there was, it's arc forced low by the stairs above. The giant sword hit the right hip of a bearded man with full force, making a cracking sound as it crushed the hip bone. The man was flung violently sideways,  losing his dagger in the process and forcing his companion to sidestep.

Shaking loose the remnants of blood, meat, skin and a torn tendon from his weapon, Bakur advanced on the enemy, surprise evident in the eyes of his small and bald opponent. The fallen man laid on the floor, screaming and crying, tears and nasal muckus running down his face and blood pooling around him.

<OOC: Attack succeeded, right hip hit for 12 damage>

*********************

Kiph silently closed in on the woman, his machete at the ready. She jumped as there was a loud thunk downstairs, followed by the screams of a man. Then Kiph knocked her hard on the head with the pommel of his machete. This snake would not trouble anyone the next couple of hours.

<OOC: Out of combat surprise hit in the back. Auto head hit location, 5 damage>

********************

The small man moved sideways, as if he could somehow outflank Bakur. It was to no avail, for the burly man just circled with him, forcing him to attack from the front. The small man did the unexpected, for he quickly drew and threw a throwing dagger in one move.

<OOC: Attack succeeded. Bakur hit for 4 damage in the chest>
« Last Edit: December 28, 2006, 12:58:31 PM by Ancient Gamer »
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #40 on: December 28, 2006, 06:30:29 AM »
 

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Bakur grunted loudly and angrily as the dagger sunk into his chest.  What a fool!  Sacrificing his weapon for a single hit.  Rearing back, Bakur aimed Siful'lahal horizontally and made for a killing thrust as the man's gut.

(OOC: Um... killing thrust as the man's gut. :D)

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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #41 on: December 28, 2006, 12:56:11 PM »
 

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<OOC>
1. You have breast plate. It acts as a buffer and takes off 8 hit points of every normal hit, and 5 points of bullet hits. So, if you had been hit for 12 damage from a long spear, only 4 hit points would actually have gotten through the breast, while your foot would have been completely skewered. The four damage from the throwing knife does not hurt you at all actually, cause the breast plate is in the way

2. He did not sacrifice his dagger, but has 3 throwing daggers in addition to the combat dagger. He fights with his right hand and throws with his left hand. He is a "dancer" so you might expect him to dodge your blows and try to outflank you.

3. I messed up. Muro aimed to knock the woman unconscious. I will correct my post.
</OOC>


Confident Bakur closed in on the remaining fighter, bringing the momentum of his giant sword around in a circle, towards the gut of the man. It was a great swing, but it missed the stranger who dived to the left and rolled upright. The bald man flung another dagger at Bakur and then ran for the exit. Behind Bakur the fallen man grunted as he lost consciousness, blood forming an ever larger pool around his body.

<OOC>
Out of melee range, you gotta use ranged weapons or hunt him down.
Bakur: Melee attack hit
Enemy: Dodge special success, throw success (thrown and shot objects are undodgable), Bakur hit in the groin for 4 damage (Do you have plate there? I certainly hope so :p
</OOC>
« Last Edit: December 28, 2006, 12:59:52 PM by Ancient Gamer »
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #42 on: December 28, 2006, 11:40:52 PM »
 

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(OOC: It's a cuirass and tasset, so there's some kinda flap down there. ;) )

As the man rushed toward the exit, Bakur realized he would probably never catch up to him wearing armor as he was.  Holding Siful'lahal in his off hand, the tribal grabbed one of the very knives his enemy had thrown, reared back, and hurled it toward the man's back.  He prayed it would find its target.

(OOC: Throwing one of those knives I just got hit with)

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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #43 on: January 03, 2007, 04:59:08 PM »
 

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Saifu'lahal rested heavily in the off hand while Bakur pivoted the dagger, to get it right. With a grunt, he forcefully threw it after the stranger, but the throwing knife missed its mark and the bald man in black was out of sight moments thereafter. Cursing silently, the savage warrior listened to the heavy breathing of the dying man. There was no hope for him, and the other one had disappeared into the darkness outside, a darkness created by dusk and the storm. It was odd, for rainfall was sparse over Bleak Wood and storms like this one was frightening, invoking memories of the prophecies told by the elders of his tribe. Shaking his head Bakur tried to focus on the present. He was cold and wet, with water running down his neck and spine. He had noticed Kiph entering the building, but now the little man was nowhere to be seen.

<OOC: Throw check failed>

*********************************************

Ralkhara leant against a huge piece of machinery while his hands played with a pumpkin the guardian had left in the garage. The Faculty had an orchard of sorts and sometimes spare fruit and vegetables were sold down at the market, the employees obviously getting their share. In Bleak Wood it was considered a privilege to serve at the Faculty, for the benefits far outweighed the need for secrecy and segregation. Playfully tossing the pumpkin into the air, Ralkhara considered skewering it on Ceres' horn, but quickly decided against it. Knowing her she would not be pleased by his bored antics. The scout studied her for a moment. The big woman was studying the artifact again, her fingers running up and down the casing, pausing mere seconds by a digital panel. Ever since the unfortunate trade run to Corona, she had been looking for an opportunity to improve their fortunes. For her sake he hoped this was it.

After what seemed like an eternity there were footsteps in the corridor. Ceres perked her ears and looked up as an eldery man entered the room. The professor had changed much since their last meeting, his long hair all white and his spectacles much thicker.

"Ah, Ceres, lovely Ceres! What news do you bring for me?" the old looking man said, his eyes tired and his voice weary.

<OOC: Jonathan Samuel Meyers was only a young member of the Faculty when you last saw him some months ago. This ageing is uncanny and the formerly vital youngster seems tapped of energy. Still... He llooks like Jonathan... or Jonathan's father. But he seems to know you and you never spoke with any father of his>
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2007, 03:21:55 AM »
 

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"Jo... Jonathan?" Ceres was bereft of words at the sight of the youngster's decay, but caught herself soon after. "I brought you... toys to study and tinker with until they break" she pointed over her shoulder towards the heavy cart. "Let's get it inside, somewhere secure. We hauled it from a ruin in the wastes, a well-preserved one."

As they freed the oxen from his burden, Ceres had to sate Jonathan's curiosity, written into his every feature, clouded by tension and exhaustion though: "T'was deep in the bowels of the earth, thus unfound. Thanks to chance or misfortune, depending on the beholder, a cart was stuck in the safety door, keeping it from falling shut, thus allowing us entrance, yet bringing swift death to those within by... whatever had slain them, I know not. We could carry little more than this, though."

Away from the rain and prying eyes, Ceres laid her arm around Jonathan's shoulders, and asked, voice lowered: "But before wasteland junk come people. Let us be seated and talk."

Something was foul there. And Ceres wasn't going to let one of the few decent people to suffer.
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #45 on: January 04, 2007, 06:15:03 AM »
 

Murometz

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As soon as the woman slumped to the ground, Kiph was on the move, dragging her body toward a dark corner of the room, making his way along the wall. He paused and listened, hearing nothing. What happened to those other men? Was Bakur here?

All was quiet, except for the pounding of the wind and rain outside. First, Kiph searched and stripped off every piece of equipment and item of clothing Tiphala had on her. He carefully layed the items out in a pile on the floor, constantly glancing around for intruders, having re-donned his goggles.

"pre-tty, pre-tty", Kiph warbled as he began to smell every inch of the woman's body, pausing longingly near certain strategic locations. "Spacers", he heard her accomplices mention. He hated Spacers. He should kill her after he was done, Kiph thought briefly, before remembering that Ceres would probably frown on such initiatives.

Instead, he began a full cavity search, staring at the woman, through his green-tinged goggles, his breath rasping and growing irregular, his own body tingling.

If Bakur didnt get here soon, there was no telling what Kiph would do...

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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #46 on: January 04, 2007, 07:16:29 AM »
 

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Bakur spat a curse as the bald man disappeared into the night.  Such cowardice, throwing a few knives then running off!  He prayed that Lahal would strike the escapist dead.

Sheathing his sword behind his back, Bakur turned his attention to Kiph.  Had the nomad gotten the glowing man?  Was Kiph even still alive?  What were the Traders going to have for breakfast?  Questions raced through his mind.  "Badblood, you up there?" Bakur called as he slowly sauntered toward the stairs.

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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #47 on: January 04, 2007, 09:02:39 AM »
 

Murometz

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The giant's voice froze Kiph momentarily. He quickly and haphazardly attempted to put the unconscious woman's clothes back on. Hopefully, the huge warrior, wouldnt notice...

"Hh--Here!" Kiph hissed and was now staring at the strange blue glowing  packs, which Tiphala had been sporting on her belt. He had found something good, he knew, and proceeded to examine the woman's belongings. He would wait for Bakur to climb the stairs. He certainly wasnt dragging the woman back to the group's hidey-hole. Bakur could do that.

"Perhaps another time, eh?" he whispered to the woman, taking in her aroma one last time. Maybe Ceres would let him do the interrogation, Kiph thought hopefully.


<<<requesting full equipment tally, BEFORE Bakur gets up there ;))>>>
« Last Edit: January 04, 2007, 09:04:55 AM by Murometz »
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #48 on: January 04, 2007, 01:05:39 PM »
 

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Kiph's hands hastily searched through the clothes of the unconscious woman. Blood had formed big lumps in her hair, and the thick crimson flow had also messed up a black rubber hairband that she wore. Besides her dark clothes (black denim jacket with lots of pockets, dark brown denim jeans) she also wore a brown leather weapon belt, a pistol holter at her right hip, and in her hands a dart gun* currently loaded with the maximum 6 darts. At her hip was a glass and steel container with fluorescent blue liquid (presently inside the darts too(which are made of the same glass and steel as the container and the gun). At her her left hip she had attached 3 throwing daggers of excellent make and in a pouch between her breasts was a cloth pouch containing 15 cartridges of 9mm ammo, a piece of paper with some illegible text** on it and a drawing of Kiph, and a gold wedding band.

*The gun is powered by air pressure and a small tank with compressed air is attached to the top of the gun. There are 6 dart containing whatever agent is inside and another 18 doses of the agent is in the container. There is enough air for 250 effective shots.

** Illegible because you can't read anything but nomad script (No one of you put points on language, meaning you all know your own languages only. The languages you speak are based on the same master language, so understanding is okay, but reading differs from culture to culture and tribe/city to tribe/city).
« Last Edit: January 04, 2007, 01:10:46 PM by Ancient Gamer »
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Re: Bleak Wood - Nightfall
« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2007, 09:33:31 PM »
 

Murometz

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"Jackpot!", Kiph grinned, his broken teeth showing through his lipless mouth. He quickly donned the woman's jacket. Tight fit, but he was thin enough for it. Next he squirelled away the ammo catridges, stuffing them inside his new pockets. He grabbed the holster, the dart gun from her hand, and undid her belt (for the second time). "Jackpot!", he murmured again giggling deliriously. He glanced at the staircase suddenly. Bakur the Behemoth was on his way, stairs creaking as the giant ascended. Kiph scrambled and quickly swallowed the gold ring. He'd s**t it out later, he reasoned.

Must leave something for Bakur to see, Kiph suddenly thought. He left the knives on the woman. They'd go to him anyway.

Finally, as Bakur, neared the top of the staircase, Kiph noticed the paper. At first he stared, cursing the illegible script! Maybe Ralkhara could read it, Kiph thought, before a creeping sensation of dread moved up his curved spine, and invaded his fragile mind. He stared at the image of himself in horror. Who was this &^%$@?! Why did she have a pic---the Spacers. Kiph let out a single anguished, pent-up shriek at the top of his lungs, oblivious to the consequences. He felt the Ten Year Pain returning.
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