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Whom the gods would destroy...

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Murometz:
...they first make mad

Adan and Kyrian

Gray, pregnant clouds jostled for position overhead, as Kyrian and Adan ascended and descended the craggy hills north and west of Jantir’s steamy harbors.  It had been five days since they had left the city proper, and two days since the pair left behind the backwater of Syree’s Well, where they  had helped a local barkeep with his beast-weed problem* at the behest of Halnoli the half-elven mage, and in return received lodgings and ample rations from the appreciative proprietor, one Lothon of the Once-Proud Goose.

The two were now nearing the bawn of a vast forested land, the edges of those dark, gloomy domains which the Hellschwerts and Von Hellens called their own. These ancient, baronial castles and estates, had been given after the Last War to the nobles of the First Empire, long before the city of Jantir would appear on any maps. Ancient lands these were, full of dark secrets and bloody betrayals.

A sense of quiet, familiar gloom overtook Adan as he glanced at the gnarled oaks and silver elms around him, while Kyrian seemed likewise lost in thought, and only the patter-and-click of Herald’s hooves and the occasional call of a south-bound loon overhead, could be heard.

A gentle noise from Herald made Kyrian look up at his mount, as he walked along-side the prized stallion. The horse suddenly seemed reluctant to continue, though no obvious disturbance could be ascertained by the two adventurers.

Just ahead of them lay an old road, a path men once called Theubold’s Trail, which snaked through the deep woods and bogs for miles, eventually emerging on the border of the Hellschwerts Lands proper.

It was the Hour of the Lady, almost dusk, and all was quiet around them.

At that moment the two spotted the body of a figure, curdled in a fetal position on the ground, beside some irregular boulders. The man lying before them was obviously dead.

The two examined the body, and quickly determined that no physical wound could be seen on the flesh. A look of dread in the man’s still open eyes hinted at a more sinister end, and another oddity—the man’s ears were plugged with some kind of wax-like substance. A simple dagger in one clutched hand, and a curled up scroll, devoid of any writing, lay beside the figure.




*slaughtering several ravenous, weed-maddened boars and bears in thre process.

EchoMirage:
"Poor soul" Kyrian closed the man's wide-open frightened eyes, and examined the dagger and scroll he bore. "It appears as if he went to confront something, determined yet far outmatched. And the wax - is if he meant to ward himself against a siren, banshee or xantippean shrew; a spell he most likely cast from the parchment, to no avail. Be on your guard, Adan, this night may be far from over."

He stood up, flicked a stray strand of hair from his face, and gave the woods a piercing gaze; the shadows and curling mist seemed to stare back at him, with fetid malice.

Adan Hellschwert:
Kneeling to bless the flesh of the fallen man, Adan's hand drifted down to touch him at the neck, at the shoulders, and thrice on the sternum, in the star of Trigu, before he spoke in the ancient tongue of the church, a blessing for the fallen. '"Requiem aeternam dona ei, Trigu, et perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Trigu, eleison."

As his hand came up from the clammy flesh, taking in the wax, the dagger, and the scroll, Adan frowned, straightening entirely. "You're right. This stinks of magic." Looking down, the once-paladin, once-guardsman nudges the body with his toe. "Warded against sound, but he still got taken. The question, then, must become: Did what he ward against catch him, and defeat him despite his precautions, or was it another? In any case, it had not interest in his flesh, which is disturbing. A natural beast would have been attempting to defend itself or sate it's hunger, and there would be injuries."

For a moment, he presses his lips together, a brief prayer to his Lord and Master drifting through his mind. "We have some courses before us, friend. It will be luck to build even a cairn for him, in this wood, though something must be done.  There are rumors of the Banshee, and here..." Adan swallows deeply, the shot of fear that shivers down his spine quelled forcefully, though consciously. "Here we begin to approach the area that yet may be the demense of my nemesis. Its end, even should it cost me my life, is everything. I cannot permit anything else to kill me before I destroy it. We are far, however, from the stronghold of the Holy Swordswoman, and her power in these swamps is not impressive. Prudence, then, speaks that we should retreat some miles, and await the coming of the sun. Valor dictates that we should hunt and destroy his killer. What think you, Kyrian?"

EchoMirage:
"We are only worth as much as what we bring into the world, I say, and receding at the sight of danger will not add to our value, neither to valor. Though I will make one concession to prudence: foolishly dying to no benefit would keep us from any further heroics, with a great degree of certainty. I say, let our caution be profound, and once we know more, the time of decision between a course palatable to bards and a tactical withdrawal will come."

He did not shout a challenge to the woods, nor strike a pose, but relaxed instead, letting his sight wander over the surroundings, his ears catch the whisperings of the bods, the scent flow freely through his nose; then, there was the sixth sense native to all felines, and it stirred in this place. Emptying his mind of thought, Kyrian let it unfold and roam free, his whiskers twitching.

Siren no Orakio:
With a grim nod, Adan lit tinder, setting flame to the coals within the small firebox he had acquired. Hidden, with only a trickle of air, they would burn cool but long, enough, he hoped, to carry thrugh the night, enough to hasten the lighting of one of the oil-soaked torches, should it prove to be needed. Enough, too, to slice and soften a tallow candle and cloth, enough to make plugs for the ears alike to the slain wizards, and to offer the same to the feline knight that was his companion. 

With a deep breath, he drew his awareness back inwards, to the tiny light of the Lord that he had felt as he had spoken with the bishop, though it had been so long ago. Once, his Lord had let him feel the malevolance, the darkness that blotted at the holy light, yet the darkness that had once grown within had swallowed all that light from his eyes. It would have served well as warning. But now, he could only grasp that light within, and trust in his Lord. This was the right way of things. Trust in Trigu, and ask nothing of Him, but permit him to use you.

Prepared now, Adan frowned at the corpse, before picking up a few, fist sized stones, looking at the other questioningly. Did they have the time to build a caern? 

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