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Old 11-12-2005, 10:24 AM   #1
Ferunnia

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A little warning before you start in on this. I tend to be very graphic in describing the violence that happens in the world of Norrath. If you think gory descriptions and such would bother you, I wouldn't bother reading anything I've written here " Other than that, read on, and enjoy my unfolding tale of the journies of my character.

Book 1: Elhonna’s Travels, a Prelude

Chapter 1: First Encounter

               

        A loud crash against the wall on the floor below me brought me out of my reverie. A few chips of old molded paint fell down from the ceiling and landed on my face, one on the end of my nose, which bugged the hell out of me. I sighed and brushed the paint fleck off my nose and rolled over onto my side as I opened my eyes. Scattered beams of light shone in through the dingy windows of my second room apartment in the Beggar's Court. Suppressing a groan of irritation at the calamity going on downstairs, I got off my lice-ridden pallet and walked over to my chipped and cracked mirror and washstand.

        I rinsed some of the night's collected dust and grime off my face with the already clouded water from the basin then looked at myself in the mirror. I found myself staring at over half a dozen reflections of myself. Crystal blue eyes, pointed ears, a slightly too-long nose, white hair, and dark, nearly ebony skin were the features of the face I beheld. I thought to myself nothing worse than a half-blood like myself. Not only am I a half-blood to begin with, half of my parentage just happens to be one of the most hated races on the face of Norrath. Bah, enough musing, let's see if I can find any work today.

        I tossed my nightgown onto my only chair, a bedraggled thing with a loose leg and half of the slats missing out of the back-rest, and commenced to digging through the mess on my floor. I was attepmting to find the assorted pieces of my worn leather armor I had tossed off as I got back from a long night's work in the early hours of the morning. Once I was fully dressed, I found the two pieces of my collapsible staff, assembled them, and then walked over to my door. I unlocked the five separate locks on my door, then stepped into a dank, barely lit hallway, turned back around and locked the three locks I had keys to.

        As I turned back around, I caught a slight twinkle of light from the far end of the hallway, and without missing a beat threw myself to the side and down. A speeding crossbow quarrel flashed through the space I had just occupied and buried itself finger-deep into the wall at the end of the hallway. I leaped to my feet and barreled down the hallway, but whoever had shot the bolt at me had fled as soon as it was apparent that I was not lying dead in the hallway on a pool of quickly drying blood. I sighed yet again, put my back to the wall beside me and crouched down. I sat in that position, straining my ears for any sounds, but only heard the still-continuing ruckus from the floor below.

        I let out a breath I had not realized I was holding then closed my eyes and prepared one of the only tricks of magic I knew. Using only one hand, I crossed my first two fingers, the pointed my fingers straight up. I slowly moved my forearm in a circular motion as I gathered the tiniest bit of mana into myself. Once I knew I had enough, I stopped moving my arm and splayed out my fingers, which sent out a thin web of life-sensing mana in every direction for maybe fifteen feet.

        There, I said to myself. I could feel the slightest flicker of life around the corner and maybe ten feet down the hall to my right. Oh, how sneaky. The assailant was above me, obviously bracing himself against the narrow walls with both legs and arms, a good eight feet from the floor, in a hallway I knew to be pitch black due to only having light coming from around the corner on each end and the one sconce in the hallway itself was long broken, the bolts holding it to the wall snapped clean in two one night as an ogre and a troll rampaged through here intent on murdering each other.

        Well, what a predicament, I thought to myself, how was I supposed to get around the corner and do anything about the assassin hiding in the hallway. If it looked like I knew he was there, I was sure he would simply drop down, then use his undoubtedly re-loaded crossbow to bring me down before I could cover the ground to bring him low with my staff. I suppose that leaves only one option, though I would have preferred to not have to reveal myself this soon. I knew that if I took the rogue out in the only way I knew how, it would leave no doubt as to my identity.

        I took a deep breath and decided there was no other way. I kneeled down, knowing the assassin wouldn't become impatient and come around the corner to see what was taking me so long. There was no other way out of the building from my room. The windows had nearly wrist-thick bars covering them, supposedly to keep thieves out, but more likely to keep tenants from escaping without paying the rent, and I lived at the end of a dead-end hall.

        So I took my chances and brought my hands together, chanted one word as quietly as I could, and gathered all the mana to myself that I could hold. I felt a tingle roll across my skin as I drew more and more mana to myself, then all my hair stood on end as I hit my limit, and I stood up. I could feel small sparks of electricity bouncing between my fingers, and I closed my hands into fists to keep from giving myself away until the last moment. I squinted my eyes to keep the small lightnings I knew were playing across my sapphire eyes from showing through enough to betray what was coming. I took a deep breath, and strolled around the corner as if nothing was wrong, making it seem as though I had decided that there was nothing there. Keeping my eyes to the floor, I took a step away from the corner, then two.

        I looked up just as he fell from the ceiling, his toes touched the threadbare carpeting in the hallway and he sprung towards me. As I looked up, there was just enough time for him to register what was about to happen and his eyes, which I were looking into from four feet away, shone with terror. His dagger was less than two feet from me when I threw up my hand in front of his chest and opened my hand. The motions of him trying to dodge were nearly comical, and I allowed myself a small smile as the electric surge poured from me and slammed directly into his chest. It blasted him backwards a good ten feet, and he lay there, a smoking hole through the middle of his chest. The smell of ozone and burnt flesh permeated the air in the enclosed hallway, and I stepped swiftly past the corpse to make my way downstairs.

        People were rushing out of rooms in response to the screaming peal of thunder that had accompanied my blast, but as soon as they saw the result of said blast, they nearly hurt themselves trying to get back into their rooms, and the sounds of doors locking could be heard down the entire length of the hallway. I looked to neither side as I walked down the hallway, trying to give no one a reason to attack me, whether it be out of pure fear or just for making eye contact. Soon enough, I made my way to the stairs down to the ground floor, and I started my descent. Halfway down, an ogre nearly head and shoulders taller than me almost pushed me over the banister of the stairs in his rush to see what had happened on the floor above.

        Not what I need today, I thought to myself. I had recognized the ogre as one of the landlord's bullyboys, his so called "Keepers of Peace". I hurried my walk down the stairs, and hit the landing just as a startled oath came down the stairs from the ogre. I unhurriedly walked down the hallway in front of me towards the front of the building. I passed the three linked rooms that the landlord kept as his office and living quarters, and then walked out the front door into an overcast day, with the slightest drizzle coming down just enough to make my day miserable.

        I walked across the courtyard to a small brick building after giving the rain a few more choice curses under my breath. I stepped inside just as the drizzle started to harden into a more substantial rain and took in the bleak surroundings. A few steps led up to a raised floor to keep water from flooding the owner's belongings. I walked in and then up the steps and looked around. A small table stood in the middle of the room, with chairs for three people. Against one wall stood a rickety bookshelf stacked with molded tomes and a few assorted odds and ends. Against the other wall was a small fireplace burning with a flame that was nearly sputtering out, casting fast moving shadows across everything in the room.

        "Are you here, Lopir?" I said clearly but not too loudly.

        "Yes, just a moment," grumped a rough voice from beyond the only door in the room besides the one I had walked in. A few moments later, out stepped a skinny, emaciated human with black hair where he wasn't bald, and much-patched gray robes that hung loosely from his bony frame. He looked over at me and narrowed his eyes. "What do you want, Corissa?"

        "I need work," I said simply. "Preferably something that will take me to another part of the city for a while." I said, not giving any reason as to why I would need to be away from this area for a while.

        "Ah, had a bit of trouble have we? Well, I think I may have just the thing for you," Lopir responded.

        I stood there, waiting for his next words, not giving anything away, and finally he sighed and walked into his room, beckoning me to sit down in one of the chairs that looked no better than the ones in my own room. I went and sat down as he closed the door behind him. I heard him rustling around in the room beyond the door and muttering under his breath about secretive half-breeds. A few minutes later he came out with a package wrapped in brown parchment and sat it on the table, then sat in a chair across the table from me.

        He launched directly into his spiel that came before every job I had ever done for him.

        "I will have you know that this must reach the hands of the person it is for without being opened or otherwise tampered with. Not many people here would give your kind any kind of work, and you should appreciate that enough to keep my client's package intact and delivered as promptly as possible."

        I looked directly at him, and said, "Have I ever let you down, opened one of your packages or been less than speedy while delivering them to your clients?"

        His words choked off and he looked at me for a moment before responding. "I suppose you haven't at that. Well either way, you know my conditions. It's five silvers on delivery, to be given once the package is received." He looked at me one last time. "You wouldn't be responsible for the noise I heard a short time ago coming from the apartments, would you?"

        I flashed him my brightest, most insincere smile, and said back "Who me?  I haven't the ability to cause such noise as that. I just happened to be heading out about the same time as the commotion commenced in the building," and left it at that.

        He looked at me suspiciously, and nodded. "Yes, I suppose you are right, I would be able to feel it if you had even the smallest spark of talent in you. Well, anyways, get you gone, I need this package delivered promptly, it is already nearly two days late. You are to take it to Big Bend, to this address." He handed me a small piece of parchment with an address written in his nearly illegible handwriting, then said, "I suppose I shouldn't be expecting to see you back again anytime soon then?"

        I smirked at his obvious attempt to get more information from me, and replied, "Oh, I'll be here and there, never know when you might see me." I stood up then, took the package off the table and slid it into my small backpack, then turned to walk out.

        "Be careful with that, I will not tell you what is in it, but I will say that it wouldn't be a good idea to break it," he said as I walked to the door.

        I turned to him and nodded, then walked out into the steadily pouring rain that had started since I walked into the building.

First chapter Final Edit (not...)

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 11:23 AM

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Old 11-14-2005, 10:54 PM   #2
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Keep it coming. You have a good descriptive style that's pleasant to read.
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:53 AM   #3
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Chapter 2: Confrontation

               

        After walking nonchalantly to the mariner bell in Beggar's Court, I jumped on the small skiff sitting at the dock and told the boatman to take me to Big Bend. After sneering and trying to get me to pay him for the trip, the boatman sighed and started poling his way through the filthy water. A good half an hour later, during which time the rain thankfully stopped, we arrived at my destination. As I stood up, I suddenly acted as if I had forgotten something and bent back down to look into the bottom of the boat, swinging the staff I had strapped to my back sideways and catching the boatman in the temple, knocking him over sideways to splash into the murky rancid water at the dock of Big Bend.

        "Oh, I'm sorry, sir, I would help you out of the water but I can't chance falling in myself, got someone important to see and all," I yelled over my shoulder as I jumped lightly onto the dock and sauntered away, trailed by the boatman's curses. I walked far enough to get out of the man's sight then pulled out the parchment with the address on it. Great, I said to myself. The address was in one of the roughest sections of Big Bend...and that's saying a lot. Not a place for a half-blood like myself, but oh well. Work is work.

        Finally decided on actually making the delivery, I set off for the address. I walked past shops and homes that looked like they had been erected in the middle of the Shattering, so pitiful was their state. Windows dingy enough to write on, where all the panes weren't entirely gone, walls long devoid of paint, now the flakes coming off the surface were simply the wood or stone decaying, signs decrying shops that looked like driftwood that had sat in a desert for a millennium, and where they even existed, sconces in walls that I was sure would fall off with a strong gust of wind.

        The sad part was that I had not even stepped foot into the truly slummy part of Big Bend yet. This was where the relatively well-to-do adventurers and merchants lived. Continuing deeper into the warren of mazes that Big Bend consisted of, I walked past houses that were no longer decaying, they had simply given up and fallen in on themselves, yet even here, street trash lived in the ruins, sheltering under crookedly leaning eaves fallen down to lean against short sections of walls that somehow kept standing.

        Even I nearly felt sorry for the beings forced to live in these conditions, but I soon overcame my pity as a gang of adolescent ogres, trolls and a couple of barbarians who could pass for either of the aforementioned races stepped out of the shadows to one side of the street I was walking down.

         "Wha'cha wan' 'ere, halfsie?" snarled the largest of the ogres, seemingly the leader of this group of hoodlums.

        "Oh, I'm just wandering along, wondering how long I can walk around before someone decides to accost me," was my reply, given with the largest smile I could conjure. I also let a bit of the deadly intent I always carry at my side show through in my eyes, but the gang was either too stupid or too desperate to notice.

        "All yer money, all yer clothes, and if'n me two cold boys 'ere," pointing at the barbarians at this last statement, "want anything else, that's what ya giv'n em," said the lead ogre in the nastiest voice he could muster.

        I simply stood there for a bit, then walked over to a wall and removed my backpack. I walked back into the middle of the road  and stood there to wait and see what the ogre would do. It didn't take long for his patience to break; in fact, I was surprised that it took the thirty seconds that it did.

        As the leader realized I wasn't going to cheerfully comply with his demands, his eyes started to tighten around the edges, and I could nearly hear the huge flush of blood that rushed through his body. Veins stood out on his forehead, his biceps, and every other visible part of his body, and considering his clothes looked like a good dry cough from one of his friends would have him standing there shivering in nakedness, that was quite a few visible veins. I allowed myself a small grin, and prepared myself for the assault I knew was about to commence.

        The leader shouted something in Ogre I assumed was a command to surround me, as that is what his gang started to do. Knowing that the only advantage I held in this cramped side street was my small stature in comparison to the humanoids around me; I did the only sensible thing in the world. I attacked full on.

        I screamed like a banshee and dove between the legs of the nearest ogre. As I slid on my side underneath him, I snapped my staff into its two smaller pieces and jammed one as hard as I could into his nether-regions. He let out a rather pathetic squeal while sinking to the ground in the fetal position just as I slid out from under him.

        Using his body as an improvised barrier to that approach to me, I turned and snapped off two quick attacks with either half of my staff directly into first the left knee of the barbarian who happened to be the next closest to me, then into the solar plexus of one of the trolls, who was crowding the barbarian to get to me first. With a crack that made my teeth clench, the barbarian's knee cracked under my assault, and he fell to one side, his left leg bent completely in the wrong direction.

        The troll, however, was a bit luckier, and due to the immense constitution common to their kind, he only grunted and took a step back to catch his breath. I heard a small noise from one of my blindsides and instinctively threw myself backwards into the wall behind me, then watched as a street post thicker than my thigh smashed down into the ground in front of me, shattering the post and sending cracks in every direction in the mildewed stone of the street. Splinters flew in every direction, and the ogre who had swung the post gave out a yelp of pain as the impact of hitting the ground with the pole sent a shock up his arms that surely caused more than a few minor fractures.

        Considering him now a bit less of a threat, I put my feet, toe-down, flat against the wall and pushed off with as much strength as I could muster. Just as I reached the troll I had failed to incapacitate before, I snapped both my wrists sideways, triggering small mechanisms in my staff sections that caused small blades the length of my forearms to snap out of the ends. I drew my arms together and stretched out as I flew at the troll. I speared into him hard enough to jar both my shoulders, and then kicked my feet up between my arms and pushed against his chest as he fell over backwards, pulling away from him.

        As I fell, I pried both blades out of the troll's chest with a pair of sucking noises. At the moment my back was about to hit the ground, I slung both arms out to my sides, sending the small spears flying into two separate targets, catching the remaining barbarian in his right thigh and one of the remaining ogres just below his left knee, the blade sunk hilt deep into the tender spot just below the bones of his knee and I allowed myself a small grin at my luck.

        I snapped my arms down to hit palm-first and absorb much of the shock, then as my back finally hit the ground swung my legs back over myself and kicked straight up, knowing nothing as minor as a couple of stab wounds would hurt the troll I went again for the only possible part of the male anatomy sensitive enough to put him out of the fight for a moment. Both heels caught him and picked the massive being a good hand span up off the ground. I went with the reversed momentum of my legs and rolled back forward directly to my feet, and gave the ogre leader, his ogre companion with the nearly useless arms, and the only troll remaining on his feet my sweetest, most emotionally devoid smile. The troll at least had the courage to snarl at me before he ran off; the other two didn’t even bother meeting my eyes before they fled.

        I turned to one side and ducked my head slightly just in time to feel one of my staff sections whiz over my head, the barbarian having plucked it out of his thigh to swing at me. I kept going with the motion and turned in a complete circle, dropping to one knee and spinning around in a kick that I delivered to the same spot on his right thigh that my blade had been removed from only moments ago. There was a sick sensation as the end of my boot slid a good finger-length into the hole, and he screamed and dropped my staff section, pulling his leg free of my toe to clutch at his thigh as he fell to the ground. I snapped off a few quick kicks to his face that at least knocked him blissfully unconscious for a bit then turned, bent over and retrieved my staff section.

        I walked nonchalantly over to the ogre and plucked my weapon from his knee; eliciting a new pitch of yowl I never imagined hearing from an ogre. I then went back over to the unconscious barbarian and wiped the blood off my blades before snapping my wrists to sheathe them. Last, I walked over to my backpack, which had somehow managed to not get stepped on or otherwise damaged. I glanced around and made sure all of the gang I had on the ground were either holding something in pain, unconscious, or in the fetal position before I turned my back and walked away.

        A few street corners later, I took a right and walked a couple of blocks, not really worrying about being attacked now, knowing the story of what just transpired would keep the gangs at bay until I could finish my delivery. I took a left and went down a few doors, looked at the faded black address number written on the door, and knocked sharply three times, then once, then twice, this being the code I was given so the client would know it was me. After a few moments, the door swung open and I stepped in.

        I allowed my vision to slip in the red and black shades of infravision as I surveyed the pitch-black room, and soon spied the shrunken old troll hiding behind the door. I turned and looked at him, then nodded at the door. He closed it amidst many creaks and groans, and the background noise of shouts and cursing prevalent in the streets was shut out.

(Added the breaks so nicely advised, also fixed some minor typos and sentence structures. Hopefully this part will be easier to read now. I love good feedback I ACTUALLY LISTEN TOO. )

P.S. Final Edit (hopefully ) Also, changed the title of this chapter. Was a bit too lighthearted considering the tone I use throughout the story. If I could, I'd set this story in the Warhammer setting, for the darkness and such, but this is an EQ2 character, so yeah, you know.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 11:24 AM

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Old 11-15-2005, 08:56 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback, it's always nice to know at least someone is reading these things I write SMILEY Give me any feedback ya want, I know I have a very descriptive way of writing, but feel free to let me know if I'm putting too much into description and lacking somewhere else. Not sure how often I will be able to post after today, but I've suddenly had a burst of inspiration after reading many of the wonderful stories in this forum, and I'll try to slam out as much of this story as I can. Happy hunting and enjoy the read.
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Old 11-15-2005, 10:37 PM   #5
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My only feedback would be paragraphs in the fight scene. It is described very well (something I don't have as good a flair for myself when describing action), but you can easily lose your position due to it all being in one large block. Perhaps divide it by each opponent, or "smooth motion" or SOMETHING, but I think it suffers being in one block like that.Otherwise good. Hope to see more of what happens to this half-elf.
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Old 11-16-2005, 03:30 PM   #6
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I completely agree. Musta had me head up me [Removed for Content] when I penned that paragraph...didn't help, me writing when I was half asleep either SMILEY Thanks for the suggestion, looks a lot better now. Update most likely later today after I catch a few hours of sleep.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 11-16-2005 02:32 AM

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Old 11-17-2005, 03:36 PM   #7
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Sorry guys, had some rl probs and such. got maybe a quarter of the next chapter done so far. edited a few things at the behest of a fellow english nerd friend of mine in the first passage. also found some more typos and knocked em flat. ill be getting the third chapter up tomorrow, maybe in the AM (CST) On a side note, before you read much further, I'm sure some of you who've read this wonder why I would call this "A Druid's Story" then go into detail about how well she fights in melee. Well, my background long before eq was even a cool thought in some developer's mind was dnd. unlike in the eq games, druids in dnd do not suck butt in melee, but there is also a feature called multiclassing (or dual-classing, depending on your race and which edition you play) and you can take levels in other classes, i.e. fighter. I don't know how long I'll be playing to her melee side, but without spoiling any of the story let me just say that she spent at least 1/2 of her life to this point using melee weapons. For you eq puritists out there, if the thought of a druid doing more than whacking an enemy with his/her staff just hard enough to bruise some flesh bothers you, I'd close this window, go back to eq2 and stop reading when you could be playing the game SMILEY With that said, I hope some of you enjoy the dual nature of this character, and I plan to toss in more background as the story goes along. (the dnd explanation i saw as neccesary after a friend of mine asked me what the h*** she was doing killing people with her staff SMILEY )

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 12-27-2006 06:14 PM

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Old 11-18-2005, 01:31 PM   #8
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:Warning, for you squeamish people out there, I threw in some pretty graphic stuff in this chapter, read at your own risk :

Chapter 3: Memories

 

        The troll looked me over for a moment, then gestured at the coarse, stained table in the middle of the tiny room. I walk over, and pulled off my backpack, then set it on the table and commenced to rummage around in it for a bit. Once I found the small package, I took it out and set it on the table. I then put my backpack back on, stepped back, and waited for the troll to survey its contents before I left. He fixed me with a glare, but then his greed got the best of him and he scurried over to the table to inspect the package. I stayed behind him so as not to be seen as prying. I simply wanted confirmation that all was well before I went on my merry way.

        I watched his shaking movements as he slowly unwrapped the package, noting his care in doing so, and felt a bit of a jolt in the deepest pits of my stomach wondering just what I had been carrying. If it was something explosive it could have very well blew me up in that alley. I thought to myself, Who knows, I made a delivery for a half insane alchemist to a decrepit troll in the worst part of the foulest city on the face of Norrath. It could be a potion that exploded with lethal force or that exuded noxious fumes that would leave my flesh rotting off my bones. Either way, I was glad to be rid of this package, and when the troll turned to me and nodded once, curtly, then pointed at a small coin pouch on a stand beside the door, I decided to take my leave of the place and my pay and put the whole situation out of my mind forevermore.

        I stepped back out into the muggy, fetid street and started making my way back to the mariner's bell I had arrived at what seemed like half a day ago, but had been in reality only a couple of hours. I was nearly there when I saw them: A group of four militiamen, with the obvious leader stopping people as they walked by and showing them something on a parchment. When the stopped passersby eventually shook their heads in answer, the guards would seem to teeter towards the edge of killing them on the spot, but they refrained from doing violence for now.

        When the next person, a large ogre wrapped in bandages from shoulder to wrists, was stopped, there seemed to ensue a great deal of exclamations from the ogre, and the guards all got evil grins as the ogre pointed them in the direction I was standing. I was just out of their line of sight, and so could not hear all that was said, but the words "halfsie" and "dark skinned hellion" reached my ears well enough. Deciding I would rather not have an even bigger price on my head due to having to kill some of Lucan's guards in the middle of the street, I sank back and headed towards the almost completely cloud-obscured setting sun, knowing that I would rather brave the warrens known as "The Sprawl".

        I managed to make my way to the gate that led to The Sprawl, but here I was faced with a dilemma. There were guards there as well. Granted, there were only two, but it would take every ounce of skill I had to make it past those guards without having to kill them, or even hurt them too badly. But, then it hit me. Why should I have to even let them know I was there? I didn't, so I sat there in the shadows of a dilapidated warehouse and schemed for a moment, knowing I couldn't take too long to come to my decision or the four guards on my tail would be upon me, forcing me to use lethal measures to insure my safety.

        When the idea finally came to me, I nearly wanted to pat myself on the back, but I held off on my self-congratulations for a bit, I had to see whether what I had in mind would work or not. I glanced back down the street to make absolutely sure I remembered the layout of my surroundings.

        Two warehouses on this side of the street, the one I stood at around fifty paces from the gate and wall, and another that nearly butted up against the wall. Across the street, much the same layout, but the warehouse closer to the wall was only a one story building that fell a good fifteen feet below the edge of the wall, whereas the one on my side was a two-story affair, the top of the roof only five or six feet below the top of the wall and maybe ten or so feet away from the wall. This side will have to work then, I thought to myself. I went down the alley behind me, looking for the right place, and then I found it.

        A stack of crates had been abandoned and were nearly rotten with neglect beside the wall of the building closest to the city wall. The top of that stack of crates was only about seven feet below the edge of the roof, and looked stable enough that my light frame wouldn't break the whole stack to bits in the short time it would take me to scale them. I commenced to climbing up the stack of crates, taking my time and testing where I was going to put each foot, each hand, making sure I wasn't on a particularly weak spot before moving upwards.

        My heart leapt into my throat as I heard one of the crates near the bottom of the pile start cracking, and I slowly shifted my weight to one side until it stopped. Now moving up the pile from where I had adjusted my weight, I soon found myself at the top, standing up and stretching for the edge of the roof, which stuck out past the walls a good three feet. Standing at my full height and reaching, I was a good foot and a half short of being able to reach the edge. Bah, I hate being short. I can understand my father not being large of stature, being a Tier'Dal, but he could have at least chosen a taller woman from the human stock he had his pick of. But, nooo, he went and found one even shorter than himself. Good thing my mother's family wasn't all as short as her, or I would be nearly a dwarf in height.

        My mind went off track for a moment and I started cursing to myself more about the downfalls of being short. Suddenly, I heard loud voices coming from the gate area, one I recognized as the loudmouth militia captain from the dock. Clearing my mind, I decided to take the only chance I had at getting out of this situation. Gathering myself and finding the least rotted pieces of wood to stand on, I got my balance, crouched, then sprung out and twisted my body as I went into the air. I felt the crates tumble below me, cracking, breaking, and in some cases, crumbling apart, and in the split second I had to catch hold of the eave of the roof I knew this was my only chance.

        That thought gave me the strength I needed to keep my fingers dug into the gutter and not fall as I swung freely by my fingertips, now facing the wall. I held on with all my strength and waited until my body had finished swinging out over the alley then back in before I began to pull myself up. I pulled up, swung myself sideways and kicked my right leg upwards to catch my heel in the gutter, but missed the first time and half the fingers of my right hand came free of the gutter edge. I could feel the slick slime blocking the gutter starting to make my other fingers slip too, so I threw all my weight into swinging myself up the second time and nearly cried out in relief when my boot heel hung on the gutter. I finished pulling myself up and crouched on the edge of the roof, feeling around and stepping lightly to check the integrity of the structure. Surprisingly, the roof seemed sound enough. Suppose they had to re-roof this building the last half-century.

        I stayed as low as I could and snuck as quietly as I could across the roof towards the wall, trying to remember every little bit of advice my old rogue friend Mattias had told me in the years I knew him . . . the years before I witnessed him hanging in the gallows. I drifted back to my memories for a moment…

        I remember growing up in the streets of Freeport, well before The Shattering and the huge surge of refugees poured in from all the shipwrecks and destroyed islands in the seas close to island I had heard called "The Isle of Refuge”. Things were a little more peaceful then, before so many different races were all crammed into such close quarters, even under Lucan's rule it had only been a place of moderate danger. Now with all the racial tensions hanging in the air, even the fact that most races were effectively quarantined from each other in these city subsections couldn't keep the fighting to a controllable level. Let Lucan pretend all he wanted that he controlled this city completely, but unless he wanted the different races here at each other's throats constantly to keep them weak, he had no more control over them than he would have over a pack of rabid dogs.

        Either way, when the refugees started pouring in, after the effects of Luclin's exploding died down a bit, it was a true calamity. For nearly two weeks, it seemed as many people died from riots and such inside the city walls as people outside the walls died of hunger and exposure. I think I was in more danger during those times due to my heritage than ever before in my life. My story was a common enough one in certain circles, and that only served to give people more reasons to kill me. As a matter of fact, had it not been for my tutelage under someone who helped me out during similar dire straights, I may very well have not survived those times. I miss my teacher, my confidante.

        It was maybe five years before The Shattering that I met Mattias. I was cornered in an alley by a group much like the one that attacked me earlier, except that gang was all humans and held hatred, deservedly held hatred, I will admit, for everything that even resembled a Tier'Dal. Well, I had come through their territory unknowingly, and they had beaten me for a bit until I ran away.

        I ran until I came to a dead end alley and they caught me. I can still remember the exact smells, sights and sounds of that moment, seemingly frozen in my mind so perfectly to remind me of the danger of being naive. The walls were much like the ones everywhere around here, dank, gray stone and some few buildings made of rotting wood not whitewashed in most likely decades. The smells were the same smells of urine, vomit, alcohol, defecation, blood, sweat, mud, and death prevalent in all the darkest places around Freeport, but there was an underlying scent of jasmine in that alley that day, and I remember how it struck me as odd that I was going to die with such a pure, clean smell in my nose. The sounds of someone moaning in insanity came from only a few doors back up the alley, in a ramshackle apartment building, and random shouts and curses filtered in from all around me.

        The gang had started moving in when the man in the back of their ranks suddenly crumpled without a sound. No one noticed but me, until the next closest man to the back of the group also fell without a sound onto the heels of the man in front of him. I saw a small tuft of black on the back of the man's neck, which I later discovered to be down feathers attached to a small dart used in a weapon called a blowgun: something from another part of the world that was like a hollow tube that these darts were blown through by mouth for upwards of thirty paces with unerring accuracy by someone trained in their use. When the second man fell onto his fellow gang member, the man stopped and looked around quickly and got just enough of a yell out to warn the rest of his compatriots before one of the tufts of black appeared in the center of his neck. He fell over without another sound nearly instantaneously.

        The remaining six gang members pulled out their rusty, chipped edged short swords and daggers and spread out and ducked behind crates and barrels and in one case jumping through a window to get out of the line of sight of the alley. This seemingly did them no good, as moments later I heard the first strangled cry of terror coming from the building the man had dove through the window into. One of the men in the alley shouted what I presume was the man's name and got no reply. I could see the men were nearly scared senseless by this point, the only thing keeping them from moving being the fact that they didn't know where death was striking them from.

        A moment later, one of them found out, the hard way. He was crouched at the side of a wooden building that was in much need of repairs, a building which had many cracks in the walls nearly large enough to stick your hand through. With a sickening crunch, I saw a blade tear through a hole in the building right beside his neck and go straight through his neck bones and out the front of his throat in a spray of blood. The blade disappeared in the wink of an eye, and the man slid from a crouch to a sitting position with his head facing down at his lap, eyes unseeing. One of the now four remaining men looked over at the man and didn't realize what had happened until the blood started pooling below the dead man's feet in an ever widening circle. The man's eyes widened to the point that I thought they would pop out and he lost all nerve and made a break for the end of the alley.

        He made it maybe ten stumbling, terror-filled steps before the tiny dart hit him in the side of the neck. He crumpled to the ground without a sound. The final three men were unsure of what to do at this point; they could see their fellows dying one-by-one and knew their own deaths were inevitable at this point. One stood up and gathered his courage, then screamed out "Come out you coward! You seem to do well from the shadows, but let's see how you do in a real man's fight!"

        I heard a low chuckle from so close to my side I nearly lost control of my bladder, and turned to look directly into the emerald green eyes of a weathered-faced human maybe thirty some-odd years old. He was wearing a dark, nearly black cloak over multi-toned gray and black leather armor. He patted me softly on the cheek and stood and walked down the alley toward the men. So smooth and quiet were his movements that the men didn't seem to notice him until he was halfway to the closest one. When he was finally noticed, the man nearly tripped over his own feet in his haste to get to the other two men. He got their attention and they all turned and looked at the man standing there. As one the men started slowly down the alley and I watched the man stand there, waiting on them. The one who had spoken earlier growled a curse under his breath then raised his voice to address the man.

        "Were you the one who killed my men?"

        The stranger responded with a small nod, not saying a word.

        "Then you will die!" the man shouted as he and his friends rushed the man, careful not to crowd one another and block each other's way. Their tactics were to no avail, as when the first man reached the dark-cloaked stranger, the stranger burst into fluid motion, unsheathing a long curved blade and darting toward the man. He lanced out with the blade faster than my eyes could follow, and then stepped to the side to let the man run past him as he met the other two. The man he had passed started to turn, but his upper body didn't turn as his legs did, and I closed my eyes in horror as his upper half started to slide away from his legs at the hip, entrails and blood pouring out as he fell. His body hit the ground in two distinct, meaty thuds, just as I heard a scream of rage and terror from one of the two remaining men.

        I heard one sharp ring of metal and opened my eyes to see the blade of the next man split in two. The stranger followed his slash by spinning in a complete circle and raising his blade high as he pulled the hilt close to his shoulder, and the blade whirled to flash past the now-unarmed man's shoulder. I thought the blade had missed its mark for a moment, and then I found myself clenching my eyes yet again as a small line of red appeared across the man's throat. An instant later, blood poured forth freely as his head started separating from his torso. He fell with a boneless smack and I found myself trying very hard to keep the contents of my small morning meal in my stomach. I didn't want to open my eyes, but I simply could not take my eyes away from the hauntingly beautiful dance of the stranger as he dealt death.

        The last man lost all control, so great was his fear, knowing that there was no escape from this deadly stranger, and threw himself into the fray with abandon, slashing and flailing faster than I had ever seen a human move. He would have been better off kneeling on the ground and taking his death with bravery, because the stranger just seemed to flicker easily out of the man's range, his sword held loosely at his side, not even bothering to parry. The last man of the group that had planned to kill me was in mid-swing when it seemed the stranger tired of playing with the man and slashed out repeatedly in a blur of motion. I know no better way to describe what happened to that last man other than to say he simply fell apart. I DID lose the contents of my stomach then, and soon blacked out…

        A shout from below me broke my train of memories, and I found myself staring at the edge of the warehouse. I was about twice the length of my body from the city wall, and the top of the wall itself was about eye level with me. I glanced at the wall and saw the top edge was imbedded with fragments of rusty spikes and glass. I took a couple of steps back, tore off my tunic, whipped out a small knife from my side, and cut the tunic high enough on the bottom edge that it would barely cover my breasts when I put it back on, then cut that piece of leather in half.

        Thanks to any god who might still be alive and listening that Mattias always made me keep my knives sharp, otherwise I'd never be able to slice this leather so easily. I put the much smaller tunic back on, let myself grin a bit at the sight I must make now with my stomach showing and what Mattias would have said, then wrapped the two pieces of leather around my hands and forearms.

        I stepped within five feet of the edge of the roof and then gave two running steps and threw myself out over the street below. I felt my hands land on the top of the wall and even through the tough leather I felt a couple of the dull spikes pierce my skin. An instant later I slammed into the wall. As I impacted I remembered yet another tidbit of advice from Mattias and flung my head backward so I wouldn't slam face first into the wall and knock myself out.

        The thud of hitting chest-first was nearly bad enough to do it anyways, and I found myself fighting for breath and concentrating on not letting go of the top of the wall, even though I could feel one of the spikes digging pretty deeply into my left forearm. Managing to hold on, I fought my way over the top of the wall just as two crossbow bolts slammed into the wall below me, knocking chunks out of the wall which flew up to sting my now-unprotected lower back. I looked down at the ground below the wall, nearly sighed in relief that it was all dirt and mud, and dropped off the wall to the ground below.

        I heard the grinding of the rusty hinges on the gate as the guards pulled it open as swiftly as they could, and sprinted off into the rocky clefts and abandoned buildings of The Sprawl just as the sun dropped out of my line of sight, shedding darkness on Freeport.

 

Edit: Wow...left out a whole section I had in my mind. Don't know how I managed to completely overlook that. (The part where she's remembering the coming of the refugees after The Shattering needed more, if you wonder which part I'm referring to and want to see what I added to make it tie in more completely. Haha, also forgot to put the part of her getting her payment for the job. Can't have that crap SMILEY Well, she got paid now too. Happy Hunting!)

Final Edit (hopefully /sigh I hate edits SMILEY)

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 11:24 AM

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Old 11-18-2005, 03:10 PM   #9
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Great story so far, please keep writting, i like the idea of the dual classing, awaiting the next installment

 

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Old 11-18-2005, 04:01 PM   #10
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I'm bored, but I don't have it in me to drag out Chapter 4 tonight SMILEY so I'll give a little more on my story-telling background. Like I said before, I derive a lot from DnD (Dungeons and Dragons, a pencil and paper roleplaying game, the ruleset of which has been used for a ton of computer and consule games, for anyone who doesn't know, or in the case of some of the younger people, have never heard of it). I read everything fantasy, from Forgotten realms to Dragonlance, and from gothic fantasy like Warhammer, to modern fantasy. Tolkien, Jordan, Salvatore, I admire these people and then some. When I was a lot younger I read a few Shadowrun novels (another pencil and paper rpg, I think it's a lot less mainstream than DnD, but still mucho fun nonetheless), a series set in the near future where magic has come back to the real world of Earth, and where cybernetics and super advanced computer systems are common. If any of you have read any Shadowrun novels, I'm sure you can see the influence of the whole "Doing jobs in the shadows" theme that also makes an appearance in my writing. I also try to keep up somewhat with the EQ lore so I don't have to make too much stuff up on the spot. Umm, let's see. Been writing on and off since I was like 10, mostly poetry, but I did do a good sized novella based on a vampire when I was really into Anne Rice. Was one of the top English students in the country when I was in high school, and that helps with the grammar and such. (This comp I'm writing from at the moment doesn't even have microsoft word haha. I don't have a spellcheck or anything for this stuff, so if you see mispellings, that's why SMILEY) Anyways, enough of my boring you guys with crap about me you probably could care less about SMILEY I'm off to troll the boards SMILEY Send me a message through the messenger service if you have any suggestions for my story or notice problems with wording and such. Happy Hunting.

(Is it bad that I edit things 5 minutes after I post them? I find that until I reread things I've posted, I don't see all the typos and such that I would normally catch while writing the story itself heh.)

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 11-18-2005 03:15 AM

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Old 11-18-2005, 08:34 PM   #11
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Chapter 4: Escape

               

               The darkness was my ally, as I tend to blend in much better at night due to the color of my skin, which is nearly dark enough to be ebony, but not quite, due in part to my mother's blood. I have had a hood on every tunic I've ever owned so that I can cover my shock of silver/white hair and blend into the shadows even better. Tonight was no different than any other night in that respect and I pulled my hood up as I ran away from the gate deeper into the small craggy plateaus of The Sprawl. Scattered here and there amidst the small stands of rock were dilapidated clusters of buildings housing everything from diminutive Ratonga to hulking ogres.

               The areas between house clusters were filled with all kinds of fun beasts to contend with now that the sun was down, ranging from snakes so poisonous a single bite could spell doom if you didn't have a ready supply of antivenin or a healer quick at hand to large ranging packs of dangerous wild dogs, some of which stood nearly shoulder height to me. That night, I was intent on avoiding all those threats, yet taking my path of escape close enough to those places and creatures to hopefully slow the guards that I could still hear clattering and cursing behind me, intent on catching their quarry.

               I slipped into my infravision sight and looked out for any heat signatures, glad that this area was nearly completely devoid of undead creatures. Unfortunately, undead look no different to infravision than the stone walls I found myself slipping between to avoid large dens of vipers out on the prowl for any creature they could kill and devour, or the craggy cliff-faces I found myself climbing sometimes to skirt particularly large groupings of buildings, knowing that certain powerful gangs made their homes there.

               More than a few times, I felt a prickling on the back of my neck and threw myself flat into a tiny crevice in the side of a rock wall to stay out of line of sight and help prevent my scent from reaching some particularly large groups of the wild dogs. I had no fear of the beasts, as they would fall even more easily than the gang I had taken down so easily earlier in the day, but I wanted to make it as hard as possible for the guards to track me, and a trail of dead dogs to follow would be the same as sitting down and waiting for the guards with my hands held out waiting to be chained.

               I heard some footsteps coming from around the side of a cleft that I had just slipped into, and looked around quickly for a place to fade from sight. Just as the first light from the gang's torches came around the corner I pulled myself up onto a small ledge maybe eight feet off the ground and got settled in and stilled my breathing. Soon I could hear gang-speak that seemed to be the code speech of one of the most violent gangs that made residence in The Sprawl: The Giantslayers. I was already on bad terms with the gang due to a small incident a few months back that involved me and nearly a dozen dead Giantslayers.

I could not afford to give myself away and have to kill the group, as I would surely lose so much time fighting them that the guards would be breathing down my neck as the last body fell to the ground. A small red and green striated rock in front of my nose flashed in the fitful light of the moon and I lost myself for a moment in studying its complexities, the way the stripes wove around and around each other. I looked up and saw that the torchlight was fading into the night behind me. Hesitating, and not really knowing why, I picked up the stone and tucked it into my belt pouch before I lightly dropped to the ground below the ledge. I started walking slowly to the end of the crevasse, pooling my mana stores as I went.

               As I got close to the corner, I tossed out my life-sensing web and waited momentarily to see if anything out of my line of sight registered as sentient enough to give me away as I crossed this, the last major clearing before the outer Freeport city walls. For nearly fifty paces in every direction I sensed nothing more than a trio of pit vipers heading swiftly away from me.

I moved smoothly away from the rock crevasse and soon saw a haze of brightness that nearly blinded my heat-sensing eyes. I slipped back into the normal vision of the elven people, which was still a good three times greater than what a human might see at night, and headed for the large group of torches and braziers burning near the outer gate I had been steadily making my way toward the whole time. I counted four guards at the gate, two on each side of the gate, and three others doing a small patrol about thirty paces out of the firelight, obviously on the alert for anyone trying to make their way out of those gates.

               I looked up and down the wall and saw no easily accessible ways over such as the building in Big Bend had provided. The outer walls of Freeport are a good sight taller than the inner ones, and every rock formation within twenty feet of that wall on the inside of the wall had been blasted apart by magic to most likely prevent escapes such as the one I needed to make. At this point I had to admit I might not get away from there without a few heads rolling, but I stopped myself as I started to head out and deal death to the hapless guards. Even if I killed all the guards, I wouldn't be able to move the massive gates enough to make good my escape. There were always two pairs of ogres at each gate such as this simply to move the blasted things.

               I stepped back and thought for a moment, knowing there had to be a way out of this predicament. Suddenly a memory floated up out of the recesses of my mind, a nearly forgotten flash of memory that brought me back to this place, nearly half a decade before.

               I was standing close to this exact place, but my mentor was standing at my side. Mattias grinned at me and beckoned me to follow him. I dutifully slunk from shadow to shadow on a night much like the one I stood in at the moment I was having this recollection, following my sensei as he showed me yet another secret of the night. We walked maybe two hundred paces and then, hidden under a cover of shrubs and bushes so skillfully I would have never noticed it had Mattias not pointed directly at it, I saw the outline of a sewer grate. He said nothing, and we moved on to finish the job we had been given that night, killing one of the major organizers of the Guttersnipe gang. Amidst the slaying of nearly thirty members of the gang who stood in our way, I had nearly forgotten the grate before the end of the night.

               Now, I thanked my Tier'Dal blood for the inborn powers of recalling exact memories all of the races members posses, even myself, though to a lesser degree. I closed my eyes and remembered those bushes, and where they were in relation to where I stood at that exact moment, then got my bearings by the stars and headed unerringly towards the hidden sewer entrance.

 

* * *

 

Maybe a quarter glass later, I stood before the exact same bushes, admiring the work my master had done in concealing the entrance, knowing that for it to be this undisturbed, he had done the same to the exit on the sewer side. It made me a little sad knowing that once I used this entrance, there would not be time to conceal the entrances again, due to the fact that I had to move quickly. Shaking off the depressing thoughts, I moved over to the entrance and moved the burlap underneath a thin layer of dirt that lay behind the shrubbery and looked for the catch on the grate. Soon finding it, I flipped the catch to one side then tried lifting the grate a little. Unsurprisingly, I couldn't budge it, but I was already working on the solution to that problem.

               I quickly connected the two halves of my staff, attached a small metal pry to one end of the staff, and stuck one it into the grate between the outer casing and where the door’s hinged cover swung up then pulled down with all my body weight. With a loud snap and a rusty squeal, the hinged cover came up a finger length above the outer casing, and I kept pressure on the staff and stretched out a foot to put my steel-capped boot in between the cover and casing, then bent over at the waist to grab the grate and pull it up enough to slide my small frame into.

I dropped my staff, then listened to see how long it took to hit, and was pleased when it hit bottom nearly instantly, knowing I wouldn't have to worry about twisting an ankle from my fall down. I pulled the burlap back to the edge of the grate to provide as much cover as it could, knowing that to night-blind humans, the burlap's color would blend perfectly with the ground. Then I slipped into the sewer entrance and twisted as I fell for half a second to make sure I hit feet first. I stood up and felt around quickly and figured out I was in a tiny chamber not even two paces to the side.

               I switched into my infravision again, even though it was pitch black and I wouldn't be able to make out much unless I saw something alive. I saw the quickly fading heat signature of my hands on the staff and picked it up, then broke it down into its respective halves, knowing the two short weapons would be of much more use in the cramped quarters of the sewers if I had to fight anything.  I had made sure to note my direction as I fell, so I had a rough idea of which way I needed to go to get to another hidden entrance I'm sure only I knew about.

               I stepped over to a blank wall and felt my around blindly until I felt the smallest of hairline cracks, then traced it out until I knew how large the door was. I stopped at a tiny depression as I felt my way around the edge of the door a second time. Allowing myself a small grin, and glad I knew how my mentor had rigged doors like these, I pulled a small wooden block out of my belt pouch and held it in front of the depression, then pushed on a second depression just below the first.

A nearly silent whoosh and I was rewarded with my caution by feeling a small thump on the wooden block, and one of Mattias' poisonous darts imbedded itself in the wood. I pulled out a small scrap of leather I had saved from my make-shift gauntlets earlier and wrapped the dart in it and put it in my belt-pouch, knowing the poison would still be lethal after who knew how many years and that it would kill painlessly and nearly instantly. I then reached out and pressed on the depression the dart had sprung from and was rewarded with a small click, and I felt the door give on well-oiled hinges.

               I listened for a moment through the crack, then sent out my life-sensing mana web, and detected nothing alive anywhere nearby, then cracked open the door and looked out into the sewer as the rancid smell of the place rushed into the otherwise sealed room and assaulted my senses. Pushing down my bile, as well as ignoring the stench, I pushed the door further open and looked down each branch of the sewer. Seeing nothing, I moved out into the tunnel and pushed the door back closed behind me, then retriggered the lock, sans dart. Remembering the vague map Mattias had once shown me of the extensive network of sewers below Freeport and its outlying areas, I had a good sense of where to head, and did so.

 

* * *

 

               Maybe two hours later, dripping filthy water and no telling what else from a spill I took while killing an annoying, eight-foot-long lizard, I stepped up to a blank stone wall that looked nearly exactly the same as every other stone wall I had walked past, but for one thing. There was the smallest of heat signatures coming from a tiny spot near the ceiling. There was no doubt that it came from a magical source, most likely attuned to Mattias and anyone else he designated, and I felt my throat tighten as I realized that my master had saved my life yet again. I stepped calmly up to the wall and put my hand against it.

               A small surge of energy flared, centered on the small dot of heat on the ceiling, and a small hinged door with ladder rungs built into it swung down just beside me, then locked in place. I climbed up into the small cubbyhole below yet another grate and then unlocked the door and closed it back, satisfied to hear it automatically click as the lock re-engaged. I could see the tiniest traces of light spilling through tiny holes in the burlap covering this grate, and decided the moon had completely risen. Confident that I would be safe in the small space until near dawn, I curled up and took a short nap.

               I woke just as the gray light of false dawn faded back to the darkest part of night, the hour before true dawn actually started. I suppressed a sigh at the smell now permeating the room, having been blissfully asleep, I hadn't been aware of it, but now it hit me again full force and I shook my head in disgust at how stiff my clothes were and then stood up to push the grate open, knowing Mattias would have chosen a spot well out of sight of anyone standing more than five feet away. The grate swung open with a small squeal of protest, I immediately slipped out of the hidden entrance, covered it, and meticulously re-covered the entrance.

               That finished, I stood up and contemplated my next move, but now that I was safe, I was at a complete loss of what to do. Suddenly, I felt a small vibration coming from my belt pouch, and opened it to see the striated stone I had picked up the night before pulsing with a gentle glow. I picked it up and looked at it for a moment, then moved to look at it in more direct moonlight, but the glow faded nearly to nothing as I turned. How odd, I thought to myself, and turned back the way I had been facing before. The glow got steadily brighter as I faced back to the west, and when I was facing directly west, the stone stopped pulsing and started glowing steadily. Interesting, could this be a clue as to where I should head next? I thought on it a moment. Sure, why not, it isn't as if I have any other plans at the moment as things stand, so let's see where this stone leads me. But first, I thought ruefully to myself, a bath.

               And I walked west as the sun rose behind me, seemingly lighting my path ahead.

(I didn't think I would get this part out so quickly, but I find I'm enjoying myself so much due to this foray back into the world of writing that it's actually hard to stop writing. I have no honest clue as to when the next part will be coming out, but be sure it will be within the week. As always, if you see any problems, feel free to give me feedback. Enjoy the read and Happy Hunting)

Final Edit (/sigh, the things I do....)

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 11:25 AM

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Old 11-18-2005, 11:08 PM   #12
Eriol

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I really want to know what's going to occur. As I've said before, your style is great, and engaging.If you can pump out this quality of story this quickly, by all means do so!
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Old 11-19-2005, 02:11 PM   #13
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Chapter 5: Journey

        I set into an easy jog, trying to put as much space between myself and Freeport as possible. I had Mattias to thank for my ease in this, as his training had also involved the most agonizing endurance training I felt I could live through. I soon saw heaps of bones and jagged fence posts of wrought iron rising out of the ground around a large cluster of mausoleums. This, Turmoil Cemetery, one of the two major burial grounds around Freeport back before The Age of Turmoil, was a place ripe with undead and necromancers out practicing their skills at controlling the dead bodies and tormented souls roaming around the area. I took a wide circuit around the place on the south side of it, not being in the mood to slay the acolytes practicing their arts.

        I made my way without incident around the place, careful to also stay far enough north to keep from encountering the orc parties that made regular forays into the area south of the graveyard from a sizable encampment near Bloodskull valley far to the southwest. When the graveyard was barely a speck on the horizon behind me to the east, I angled my run in a more northwesterly direction, heading for a good-sized body of water I knew of named Dog Pond nearly directly west of Freeport.

        Careful to keep my eyes out for any Militia that may have patrolled out into this area in the hopes of catching me unawares, and constantly probing out with my life-sensing web extended out as far as I could without draining myself, I managed to circumvent the few adventurers out and about, sure if any recognized me, they would be trying to collect on the bounty on me head. From what I remembered, the last notice I saw posted listed me as worth nearly fifty pieces of gold dead, and closer to one hundred alive. Not a small amount, I would have been hard pressed not to collect on it myself had I been the hunter and not the hunted.

        The hours passed, the sun rose nearly directly overhead, and the few clouds left over from the short rain the night before fled before the heat of high noon. Not long after midday, I saw the pool of water I had been heading for appear on the horizon, easily recognizable due to the large wandering packs of wild dogs much like the ones in The Sprawl, only a great deal nastier. They nearly always attacked any lone travelers on sight, and seeing groups did not deter them too terribly much for that matter. I knew I would probably have to slay a few of them before the rest got the message and left me alone, but I wasn't overly worried about it. After all, the worst that could happen is I would get some dog blood on me, which I could wash off in the lake named after the ranging hounds.

        As I approached within a few hundred paces of the lake, the first few wild dogs noticed my presence, and let out a howl at the thought of fresh meat, then launched themselves into the pursuit of their supposed prey. I don't know if the beasts were used to adventurers and travelers running from them on sight or not, but I do know the fact that I let out a loud howl of my own and picked up my pace, nearly sprinting now to meet the beasts, seemed to confuse a few of the beasts in the pack of around fifteen of the beasts. These few, most likely wiser, dogs turned off the path and headed off to the side to observe the ensuing fight. As I closed within ten paces of the lead dog, I pulled the staff sections strapped to my back free and triggered the mechanisms controlling their blades. At five paces, I drew up to a near stop and threw one of the two pieces like a small javelin, and the perfectly balanced staff section speared unerringly into the throat of the lead hound. At this, two more of the dogs seemed to decide they were better off not joining the fray and wheeled off the same way their compatriots had earlier, to watch from the sidelines.

        I reached the body of the large lead hound moments before three more of the pack reached me. As I ran past the corpse, I never slowed my run, simply reached out and jerked the staff section out of the beast's throat and met the charge of the three dogs as they attacked in concert. As they closed to within a few long running steps of me, I set my feet and launched myself as high as I could into the air, spinning in the air to tumble over them, stabbing down twice as I passed and severing two of the dogs' spines at the base of their necks. The one survivor tucked its tail between its legs and never stopped running after it looked over its shoulder and saw what had happened to its pack mates. Like the earlier dogs, this one seemed to realize it was in the midst of a much greater predator than itself, and ran a good distance away before finally stopping to watch the remaining members spread out to try circling me. Eight of the beasts remained.

        I ran straight through the circle they were trying to form, my blades flashing out, and then there were six. Now maddened to bloodlust, the remaining members didn't try to run; rather, they wanted, in some primordial part of their brains, to kill this creature that had so hurt their pack. So the pack turned back toward me as I passed through their ranks, the final six dogs howling and barking at me as they came at me at a full sprint. I stopped and turned, waiting for them to reach me, and as they did, I fell back on some of the more advanced techniques Mattias had taught me, knowing that with that many claws and teeth assailing me from every side I couldn't let any of them knock me off balance or even I might fall.

        I let out a raging battle cry and spun in a technique that had me spinning in complete circles, blades flashing out both high and low, preventing the dogs from reaching me. As some fell back from my assault, I would suddenly stop my spin and rush in to stab out or slash with my bladed staff ends, and a dog would fall. As I fell back into my training it nearly seemed that my enemies started moving slower, but I knew this was merely the fact that while concentrating my abilities in the way Mattias had taught me, I was moving much faster than I normally would, though never in this lifetime would I come close to the perfection of movement that had been Mattias while in battle.

        Moments later, as the dust kicked up by my movements and the dogs death-throes settled, all six dogs were lying dead in a circle centered on my position. I looked around for a moment to see if any of the remaining pack members that had watched from a safe distance had any intentions of making any moves, but they all slunk away at my glances, tails between their legs, excepting the largest remaining dog, who padded up to me with his head down and his legs between his legs. Most likely this one was now the pack leader, as all the larger hounds were laying dead at my feet. The large male dog came up to me and lay down at my feet, in supplication. I looked down at him a moment, then reached down, rubbed my hand roughly across the scruff of his neck and walked on to the pond.

        The dog rose behind me and padded softly along behind me, most likely an honor guard of sorts, acknowledging my dominance. I looked around as I walked through the many packs lazing in the shade of the trees around the pond, and became aware the thunderous steps of a large herd of elephants which I just saw cresting a hill to the west. The dogs made no attempts to attack this group of elephants, as the half-dozen males in the front of the herd had tusks longer than the length of my body protruding from the sides of their mouths. That and the obvious fact that the elephants could simply stomp around randomly and devastate the dogs without ever making an overt attempt to attack if the dogs were stupid enough to engage them.

        I stayed on the side of the pond that the dogs were clustered around, knowing that, at least temporarily, I had been accepted into quite a large pack. I started stripping as soon as I stepped into the cool shade underneath the surprisingly lush trees around the pond. Soon thereafter, I was standing waist-deep in the cool clear water of the pond, scrubbing at my garments to remove the grime and filth of the last day and a half's adventures. Once I was finished thoroughly cleaning my thin leather armor and undergarments, I commenced to cleaning myself, using one of the large cattail weeds near the bank as an improvised back scrubber. I kept my leather gear in the water with me, knowing that if they dried in the sun they would shrink to an uncomfortable size.

Once I was clean, I checked my body for any wounds taken since I left my room the day before, and found that the only wounds I had sustained were a few deep gouges on my forearms and one hand which were already well on the way to healing. Deciding I had no need to bind any of the already scabbed over cuts or punctures, I put my clothes back on before I left the water. I wore my leather garments while wet to make sure they simply shrank back to their normal snug fitting size, as well as for the added coolness they would provide for a while as the water evaporated out of them in the sun.

        Finally finished in the water, I gathered the gear I had left lying near the leader of the pack I had subdued, and continued my journey. I headed back toward the west, on the lookout for the tower in the middle of these rolling hills that would mark The Crossroads, a major trading area a good ways west of Freeport. Not an hour after I left the pond, I saw the top of the tower in the haze on the horizon and skirted the area well to the south, making my way down one of the little used roads that crossed through hostile orc territory.

        I was nearly directly south of The Crossroads when I heard the roar of the Enlightenment River. I had passed by this area on a few jobs in the past, mainly contracts to bring back certain undead parts off some of the tougher specimens around the Enlightenment Graveyard. So I knew of a little-used bridge near here, a good ways south of The Crossroads, where hopefully I wouldn't have to kill any guards to make my crossing. About thirty minutes of steady walking later, I stood at the east end of the bridge, glad no one was near, and prepared to cross over to the other side, when I heard an agonized scream from a little ways to the south over a hill. Knowing I shouldn't get involved, but having nothing better to do, I sprinted off in that direction.

        I topped the hill just in time to see a nomad woman take a spear in the back as she tried to protect a young child. Not ten paces from where she died a man lay there dead, a nasty cut splitting his belly and spilling his guts on the ground beside him. The group of maybe five orcs that had killed the pair were moving in the presumably kill the child, when I howled a war cry from the top of the hill. I had a flash of memory of being a small child, defenseless much as the one that cowered under its mother's body.

        I was chained face-down to a blood-stained table in the abode of a Tier'Dal priestess, a priestess I killed a number of years ago in revenge, I might add, and she was using a barbed whip to flail me across the back and legs. I remember then my promise to myself never to become as decadent as the Tier'Dal, and I have managed even to this day to avoid sinking that low. She only stopped beating me when I was nearly dead, then she would heal me with spells that hurt nearly as much as the torture, and commence to beating me more. I don't know how to this day I kept my sanity in that room, and maybe I didn't completely, but I used the pain and anger to fuel my drive to become better than my hateful paternal ancestors.

        Falling back into the real world, I drew on that memory and threw myself into the battle with the orcs over the child with reckless abandon. I had also promised myself long ago that no child within my sight or knowledge would ever suffer as I did . . . yeah, I know, not exactly a common sentiment from a Freeporter, but still, the same, I would lay down my life for even a child I had never known until the moment I saw him or her in distress. And this child was in mortal danger. The fury that fueled me at seeing this child, and knowing it would grow up parentless left me with no mercy for my foes. Where normally, even the orcs would only be left in pain or unconscious at my hand, I knew this time I would give no quarter.

        I flung both staff sections into the cluster of orcs, taking two separate orcs down with a blade in each one's throat. Then I rushed in barehanded and snapped off brutal hand-to-hand techniques Mattias had drilled me in until they were instinctual. Moments later, two more orcs were down, one with a broken neck, the other having been relieved of his own weapon, a flail I then used to bash in its former owner's head. Leaving the spiked ball stuck in the creature's skull, I rushed the other two as they turned to flee.

        The one closest to me I took down simply by jumping into the air as I closed within a few feet of him and brought my knee up to connect with a loud crack just below his shoulder blades on his spine. He fell in a boneless heap, screaming in agony. I reached down and plucked a small knife from his belt, then stabbed him through one eye with it, silencing his screams, then spun and threw the knife nearly ten paces to pierce the last orc through the right kidney. He fell to the ground, bleeding to death, and unlike my normal self, I didn't give him a clean ending, as he was the one I saw pulling back after having thrown the spear into the woman's back. I let him writhe there in agony as his lifeblood poured out onto the dry grass below him, staining the brown stalks a bright red.

        By the time I had walked over to the two dead orcs that had received death compliments of my staff sections' blades, removed the sections from the bodies and cleaned them off, the orc had died. I looked around to make sure nothing else was near, and sent out my life-sensing web again, finding no sentient beings other than myself and the small child, a girl of maybe three seasons, from what I had seen in passing close to chase down the last two orcs.

        I walked slowly over to the child, my empty hands held out loosely away from my sides, showing her I meant her no harm. The girl finally recovered from her shock enough to start crying just as I reached her, and I gently moved her mother's body off of her and picked her up in my arms and held her until she fell asleep. I laid her gently down close to the river so that the sound of the water rushing by would help her sleep, then commenced to burying the nomads, not having any way to cremate them, as I'm sure they would have preferred. There was nothing but dry grass and weeds as far as I could see, other than a couple of living trees a bit down the bank of the river, and I knew I would never get the green wood to burn well enough to free their bodies to wind, so that they could continue their travels for time unending as most nomads preferred to do.

        I found a small leather and cloth contraption lying near where the man had died, and figured out it had been used to strap the small child to the man's back on their travels. I wish I had known what was so important about coming this way rather than through the well-guarded roads leading to The Crossroads, that the two had risked, and given their lives for. Either way, I intended to see that their progeny did not suffer the same fate as they had, and I went over to the small girl and strapped her into the carrier, shouldered the straps after removing my backpack to carry slung on one shoulder, and walked on towards the now setting sun.

(Yes, I know, I'm a machine SMILEY This whole story so far in less than a week. Heh, well you guys should see me grind SMILEYMakes my story writing marathon seem like a vacation lol... well, I doubt there will be another update for the next couple of days, gonna be doing some pre-Thanksgiving traveling for a bit, then I'll have my own rig back and Ill have (woot) spell-check. I'm tired of going to Dictionary.com...though I would recommend the site to anyone needing synonyms to make their reading more enjoyable or correct spellings and such. Later guys, enjoy the read, and the soft side of the main character SMILEY Happy Hunting!

Final Edit.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 11:34 AM

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Old 09-01-2006, 11:13 PM   #14
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Took a Looooong break from eq2 SMILEY From computers period as a matter of fact. Ya don't get much choice when your house floods and ya lose your comp SMILEY Well, I gave this whole a story a full edit and clarified a few things here and there. I'll most likely write some more this weekend or in the week to come. hope you guys enjoy what I have so far.
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Old 10-27-2006, 03:13 AM   #15
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Whelp, just finished writing an outline for a very sizable chunk of this story. I don't know if I'll manage to get a chapter out tonight but it is sure to be within a couple of days. If anyone likes what I'm writing feel free to give me feedback, also, if you see any blaring inconsistencies that make the story harder to read let me know and I'll work on it. Happy Hunting.
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Old 10-27-2006, 09:48 PM   #16
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Chapter 6: Shadows of the Past

               

        I made it to the nearest nomad camp nearly an eight hour walk later. I can’t say I wouldn’t have reacted the same way their leader did; that is, I would have also demanded that a visitor in the middle of the night be brought in at spear point and interrogated as well. I answered their questions, and when they were satisfied with my answers and reasons for being there, asked my own. They knew not of the people I spoke. Obviously the couple traveling with their child was not of this clan, as all members of a clan know all others within their clan almost better than they know themselves. Unsatisfied with what I learned, yet knowing there was nothing to be done for it, I conceded to my body’s demands for sleep.

        I woke just after the break of dawn that morning. The nomads, always happy to have another child, thanked me for bringing her to them, then fed me and sent me on my way re-provisioned for a long trip. I continued my way across the Commonlands, bearing slightly north on my trek west.

        I spent the next three days traveling, and only had to fight once, when a small herd of rampaging elephants tried to trample me. I dissuaded them of that notion by spearing the lead male in the side of its mouth, flipping myself up using my staff as a handhold, then breaking the staff down and using the other end to stab down into the top of its skull, killing it instantly.

        Later that same day I finally arrived at my destination, the decrepit looking enormous black iron gate leading into NektulosForest.

        The stone in my belt pouch started pulsing against my waist as I approached the entrance, and I then shoved against the doors until I could slip myself through the gap.

        My first sight of Nektulos forest in fifteen years impressed me just as much as the very first time. A massive iron suspended bridge crossed the raging river at the southern end of Nektulos Forest where travelers from Freeport could join a collective campground of bedraggled travelers of all backgrounds. The eastern end of the bridge let into a small clearing in which the beginnings of a village were taking shape.  I had stopped here twice before; on the way into Nektulos Forest, and on the way out of the wood a decade and a half previous.

        My first task was to size up any pursuit that may have been waiting in the village on the off case that I would be passing through. Checking around from the outskirts of the village I could not find  any Freeport Militia other than the two that were always posted at the bridge. Seeing no one there that seemed an obvious bounty hunter I walked into the little town like I owned it.

        I provisioned for the long trip through Nektulos and started making plans in the back of my mind about what to do with myself now that I seemed to be permanently unable to act in Freeport. I knew there were reasons for me to go back to Qeynos, but I was nervous about the final outcome of any trip I might make there. For the time being, I decided to just follow the stone’s directions as I had been to this point, since I had nothing better to do.

        The next morning I awoke to a dim fog shrouded morning and snoring coming from the common room of the small inn I stayed the night at. I gathered my things and headed downstairs, to be greeted by the slightly smoky, sour smelling common room, which seemed to be the communal place for vagrants to sleep. Easing my way through the mess of sleeping drunks, I quietly opened the door and headed out into the pre-dawn grayness of early morning.

        I traveled slowly, in no big rush, in a northward direction, following the slow pulses of the stone at my side. I passed trees that looked like twisted parodies of healthy life; saw no grass that was not brown and dying, yet somehow tenuously holding onto life. I saw mushrooms the size of small horses, and filtering through the weak sunlight shining through the constantly overcast sky, I saw motes of dust which seemed to flicker malevolently just out of the corner of the eye. Sometimes, at a distance, ghostly flickering plants could be seen fading in and out of existence, a silent reminder of the haunted quality of the forest around me.

        I passed through areas where the grass and plants itself tried to attack me, but I prevailed over these weak challenges, and continued north. At one point, the areas between trees were covered in a sheen of enormous spider webs so thick I could barely see the outlines of trees only fifteen paces away. Shortly after I passed into this area, a spider the size of a large melon swung down from the trees on a web strand nearly the thickness of my smallest finger, and I eviscerated the spider as its motion brought it into striking range of my bladed staff. I killed another handful of the beastly things as I passed through that section of the forest and was glad to be rid of the web slinging creatures when I passed out of their stretch of the woods.

        My trek led me north up the river on its eastern bank, and as I passed above the places that were slightly more cleared out from constant travelers passing through, I got into tangles of forest which seemed to press in on me from all sides, even though I was still on a beaten path. The forest around me got even quieter than usual, and even the few scattered bird calls and bat screeches I had been hearing ceased. The only sound was a faint rushing of water coming from the river nearly one hundred paces to my left. My innate senses made me unsheathe my weapons moments before I heard a loud rustling in the dark woods off to my right. An enormous creature that looked like a cross between an owl and a brown bear lumbered out of the woods, and two more like it were bursting from the woods behind it.

        I dodged nimbly backwards as its first crashing swipe nearly knocked over a sapling that had the bad fortune to be in the path of the blow. The other two creatures rushed past the leader and tried to bowl me over, but I somersaulted over the first one and kicked off of the second one as I started to land to avoid their lumbering charge. As I landed on my feet the lead creature again swiped at me and I was knocked head over heels after absorbing most of the blow with the staff I managed to hold up in front of my torso two-handed. Feeling like my ribs were almost broken from my own hand being crushed against my side, I decided I could not afford to fight a defensive battle against creatures large enough to smash me to a pulp. I gained my feet then tricked one of the two smaller creatures into charging me yet again by tossing a small stick at it I found at my feet.

        When it charged in I dodged left early then as it turned to meet me, dove right and struck out with one section of my bladed staff, which I had broken down into two pieces as it ran at me. As the beast passed by me, I neatly hamstring its back left leg and heard it crash to the ground behind me. I spun to my right to meet the charge of the remaining small beast and dove straight underneath it as it charged me. I rolled onto my back and caught its shaggy fur then hung there for a moment before disemboweling it then dropping off to let it lumber a few more faltering steps.

        It lay over on its side with one final cry of agony and then was still. The leader, seeing its cohorts defeated, decided that fleeing would ensure it living another day to fight again and the last I saw of it was its feather covered tail tucked down as it ran off.

        I stopped after this to rest up a bit, and checked to make sure I had taken no injuries I may have missed noticing in the heat of battle. Seeing nothing untoward, and feeling a good bit more rested after perhaps an hour of sitting on an old stump beside the road, I again headed north.

        I traveled the rest of the day, and part of the night before resting at a small encampment just south of the first of two major bridges crossing the river on its northern end. My stone still pointed me unerringly to the north and I decided to continue following it after some rest.

        The next morning, I headed out after a small breakfast of cold ham and trail bread, washed down with tepid water from a small stream that eventually emptied into the river. I heard little activity from the animals in the forest as I continued down the road, but in the distance I did hear what sounded like metal clashing on metal. Thinking that a fight with humanoid opponents could be something interesting to bring me out of my bored funk since leaving Freeport, I dashed towards the sounds of battle.

        “Bloody creatures! Can ye not just lie down and stay dead!” I heard this raw throated shout the a bellow of pain from the same person as I came into sight of the bridge close to where I camped the night before.

        My first sight of the bridge was not awe-inspiring to say the least. Rusted iron beams haphazardly patch worked together with half-rotten boards to form a rickety passage over a fiercely roaring river is not my idea of safe construction. Regardless of how I felt about the structure I could tell I was needed up on the bridge.

        A well built human in chain mail was valiantly trying his best to stay off nearly a dozen skeletons bearing old clubs and half broken swords with only his bow to assist him. As I observed during my sprint to the bridge, a skeleton caught him a blow to his back, crushing his quiver and most likely ruining all of his arrows. The man promptly kicked the skeleton in the head and disarmed it of its club, then laid about himself in a circle trying to keep his undead attackers at bay.

        I arrived just as a skeleton managed to get through the archer’s defenses and stab him in the side with a shattered, rusty short sword. I saw him almost fall then, but make an heroic effort to stay on his feet. He seemed unaware of me until my staff swept two of the skeletons into the river under our feet.

        “Dun worry about me lass, save yerself,” came his labored shouts as he parried a blow from on of the remaining undead.

        “This should be over with quickly, just try to stay alive till I’m finished,” I responded firmly as I started spinning my staff rapidly, striking skeletons in their weakest spots, shattering wrists, destroying knees, and in some cases getting in lucky blows and crushing their skulls. Once the skeletons were all stumbling around on their knees, the ones I hadn’t destroyed that is, we set about caving in the rest of their skulls so they couldn’t try dragging us down to their levels and biting or head butting us to death. I had just finished killing the last one when I looked up at the human, who was smiling down at me as I rose from a crouch.

        I opened my mouth to introduce myself just as his eyes rolled back in his head and he tumbled off the bridge, unconscious. Without thinking, I dropped my backpack and staff and dove smoothly into the water a second after he hit it. I swam deeper and deeper, barely tracking his chain mail glinting dully in the feeble light shining through the murky water. I managed to get my hand on his collar and start dragging him back to the surface as I started to lose my breath. Struggling mightily with the weight of his armor as well as his own not inconsiderable size, I somehow managed to get him back to the bank of the river, some fifty paces from where the bridge was located.

        I noticed he wasn’t breathing and commenced to try pumping water from his lungs in a manner taught to me by an old woman I lived with many years before, in my childhood. He would not cough up the water, so I opened his mouth, reached in with a finger to make sure no debris from the river was blocking his throat then blew deeply into his mouth while holding his nose. I had to repeat this two more times before he choked and coughed and then vomited up what seemed like a gallon of river water.

        This problem averted, I commenced to stripping him of his armor so I could check out his wounds. I used my life detecting web to see if he was dying, and too my horror realized he was close to dying in my hands already. As I shucked the last of his armor, I found a deep jagged wound in his lower back, and could see that he was barely bleeding from it any longer. As I rolled him over, I half noticed something shiny hanging from the thin silver necklace he was wearing, then let out a small gasp as I realized this man possessed a ring exactly like the one I wore on a leather thong around my neck. A ring that I received from Matthias on our wedding day.

        I knew then that I did not want to let this man die, that he could perhaps help me with something I planned to do in Qeynos, and that he might be able to tell me more about Matthias’ past. He may have also been a friend of my late husband, and I could not let him die if that was the case. I owed too much to Matthias to let any of his friends die, especially after I was unable to save him. I tried patching up the wound, but he was still dying. I was shaking from the cold of the river, and from the fear of failing Matthias again, when something rose within my chest.

        I felt calmness come over me, and warmth flooded my body. I had a sudden urge to look the man over with my lifeweb again, and discovered that my sight showed me much more than I was accustomed to seeing. I could see the way his veins ran through his body, and even deeper, to the organs that powered his daily life. I could see now where one of his kidneys had been shattered by the dull broken blade stabbed into his back, and suddenly felt the need to lay my hand on his lower back.

        I rolled him back onto his stomach and placed my hand gently onto his lower back. Then I sat there a moment and wondered what would happen next. I was rocked to the core of my being as a surge of energy poured from me and into his body. I felt power rise slowly from the ground and seep from the desiccated plants around me to replace what I was using. Uncomprehending of what was happening I started to feel fear and jumped away from his body, only a split second after I laid a hand on his back.

        I looked at him, and saw that the wound was gone, not even a scar remained. Amazed at this I looked closer, then jumped back when he rolled onto his back of his own accord, looked up at me and then passed out into a light slumber.

        “I suppose I should be thanking you at this point,” the sound of his voice jerked me out of a light doze.

        “No thanks are necessary, especially since I saw the ring you have on your necklace,” I replied.

        He looked at me quizzically, then asked, “How d’you know what this ring means?  I doubt there’s more’n a dozen people on the face of Norrath who’ve ever seen it.” He finally seemed to realize just what race I belonged to at this point. He stumbled to his feet and backed away from me, searching his waist for weapons that weren’t there. “Where’s me sword ye dark skinned demon? Did you save me just to have yerself ano’er slave? Well, did ya?”

        I sighed in frustration, then glared and him and replied, “No, I don’t want you as a blasted slave, it’s not like I can afford to feed you anyways. How I know what that ring stands for is none of your business, suffice to say that I was personally acquainted with one of your former members and hold your society in high regards. I bothered to save your sorry self knowing you would probably resent the sight of my dark skin and you want to sit here tossing insults at me? I didn’t choose my heritage, it was chosen for me, so shut it before I finish what the skeletons started.”

        He seemed taken aback by my outburst, then sat down heavily and hung his head in shame, it seemed. “I’d like to apologize to ye. Ye’d think by now that with Antonia acceptin’ anyone into Qeynos that her cit’zens would be more acceptin’ of the darker races. Seems I’m as big a fool as ever, and ya don’t deserve me distrust after tossin yerself into danger to rescue my sorry hide. The name’s Magolem Nightbow, me friends call me Maggie, yer more than welcome to call me the same,” He stated as he held his hand out to me.

        I looked at his hand a moment then took it with my much smaller one and shook hands as I replied, “Elhonna, my name is Elhonna Kaer’lisk.”

Final Edit.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 11:40 AM

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Old 10-27-2006, 09:53 PM   #17
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Very well done!
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Old 10-27-2006, 09:58 PM   #18
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Thanks, Ekuth SMILEY A compliment from you makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the outside. Got like 4 or 5 more chapters outlines, so ill prolly start tossing em out more regularly than i have in the past SMILEY Like I said before, reading some of the stories in this forum, especially including yours, inspired me to pick up my old one and try to give it another go SMILEY More soon.
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Old 10-28-2006, 05:05 AM   #19
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Chapter 7: Flight

  

        We set off about ten minutes later, after Maggie told me that he had been fighting the undead so that the rest of his adventuring party could continue on to a place called the Gul’Thex Citadel in the northern reaches of NektulosForest. Maggie foolishly underestimated his foes, and was disarmed of his sword early in the fight.

        “So, these friends of yours, are they all a part of your order as well?” I asked as we continued north after crossing the bridge to the west side of the river.

        “Nay, they’re just friends o’ mine; I was asked to come along and help ‘em scout out the area ‘round tha Citadel while they search for some ancient artifact that’s been empowering the undead around here. Hope they’ve not gotten in trouble wi’out me there.”

        With this statement, we picked up our pace. Maggie's fleetness of foot surprised me, as it seemed he must have had some training in the same art of combat as Matthias. I remember when I was only eighteen years old, a year after Matthias had started training me in hand-to-hand combat, how he took me out to the vast rolling plains of the Commonlands. He turned to me and said, “Elhonna, ‘tis vital you train your body for more than just skill in fighting. One day, I may not be able to come to your aid, and if you are unable to fight your way out of the situation, you at least need to know that you can outrun almost any living humanoid.”

        After that, we moved into a small hut on the outskirts of Freeport, where Matthias trained me in many more martial skills, but maybe just as importantly, subjected me to extremely harsh endurance training. I went from barely being able to run a dozen city blocks at the age of seventeen to being able to sprint for five times that distance and run for hours on end at a comfortable lope.

        He also trained me in acrobatics and showed me exercises to increase my strength far beyond what my slight frame should have allowed. It was most likely the hardest two years of my life up to that point, but well worth it in the end, as that fitness has saved my life nearly countless times.

        I picked up my pace after dwelling on the fact that Matthias may have helped train people before he came to know me, as a matter of fact I was almost positive this ranger (as I found out he was during our earlier introductions) had been trained by Matthias. He kept up easily and soon we were making much better time on our way to hopefully keep the rest of his party safe.

       About half an hour later, we saw the four towers around the Citadel peeking over the treetops from within a shallow bowl in the ground about a mile ahead. At this point we slowed down a little bit so we’d have our wind when we arrived. As we approached to within a quarter mile of the place, we could hear the clashing of metal on wood, metal on metal, and irregularly, what sounded like explosions. We sprinted that last quarter mile, and what we saw when we reached Gul’Thex was not good.

        His friends, four in all, were surrounded by an ever-growing ring of undead pouring out of the old fortress, and they had all taken numerous wounds. A light of gold flashed around one of the party members and a few skeletons fell back, stunned, then the platemail-encased human fighter turned and chanted a word while he lay his hand on one of his comrades, who was kneeling on the ground in a daze. The leather-wearing female elf then rose back to both feet from her knees and started laying about her with her hands and feet. All the while, a massive barbarian wielding a gigantic warhammer had been laying waste to rank after rank of the undead attackers.

        The last member of their group, a fierce looking gnomish female, had her hands over her head and then thrust them forward, sending a blazing ball of fire racing into the ranks of the undead warriors. The ball exploded on contact, and immolated at least five of the creatures. It seemed their heroic efforts were coming to naught, though, as they were steadily taking wounds as the undead crowded in. I saw the little gnome picked up and tossed into the middle of a large group of claymore wielding skeletons.

        Before they could reduce her to a bloody corpse I dashed in laying about with my staff, creating an ever-widening circle around the small female. Maggie crashed into the skeleton host from their south side, swinging a large mace we had recovered from the creatures at the bridge. As soon as the Gnome could stand on her own I shouted to her over the din of battle, “Stay with me! We’re going to try and push these things back enough to get your friends into the clear. Keep them off my back!”

        “Will do,” she cried back, and I heard her chanting furiously behind me, followed seconds later by a resounding concussion as one of her spells hit home.

        Assured that she could cover my back, I moved in on the skeletons, snapping their spines and crushing their skulls from behind as long as I could before they noticed me, which didn’t take long. I saw one enormous skeleton, presumably a leader, wave his sword over the heads of his cohorts in my direction, and a half score of them headed away from the main pack in my direction. I slipped into the battle trance Matthias had drilled into me countless times, and time seemed to slow around me. I could almost see where they were going to be a second before they moved, so well did I predict movements in this state.

        Even then, though, against enemies who can lose limbs and keep fighting, and feel no pain, I took injuries. I had a cut on my left thigh by the time the seventh one was down, and a deep gash on my right shoulder by the time I finished with the ones sent for me. The moment the last of mine were down, I swept into the main melee from the east after circling around a bit, and worked in conjunction with the elf female to destroy that side of their line, while Maggie helped the healer in the group with the southern side of the ring.

        The enormous barbarian continued to decimate foes, even more readily now that Maggie and myself had lessened the pressure a bit. We quickly thinned their ranks even though we were all pretty injured at this point, with the healer barely able to keep any of us from falling. I stayed out of his healing range, as I knew my wounds wouldn’t hinder me overly compared to the beating the central three were taking.

        I was happily finishing bashing in the skull of one of the few skeletons there using a shield, as it seemed able to heal its mates, when I heard a whistling from behind my head. I tossed myself into the skeleton I was fighting without hesitation, cracking both sections of my staff into opposite sides of its skull as it bashed me in my ribs, where they had been swiped by the owlbear a day and a half before, with its shield. I felt a gut wrenching snap as one of my ribs snapped, but I managed to crush its skull and turn as it fell under me to see what had been trying to kill me.

        I saw a madly grinning skeleton nearly twice my height pulling a sword around from its missed swing take a step closer to me and grate a single word out, which caused flickering red energies to course up and down its massive two handed sword. Thinking it would be a bad idea to even take a nick from the malignant blade, I quickly slipped my toe under the buckler the skeleton had been wearing, then flipped it up into the face of the skeleton in front of me. As it sliced downward, cutting the shield in two, I, ignoring the blazing pain in my side, pushed off and rolled slightly to the side, passing right under the blade, then kicked out hard enough with my steel-toed boot to shatter the creature’s right thigh.

        It let out an unearthly scream and then slashed out with its blade, and I barely crossed my weapons in front of my in time to absorb the blow. The sword sheared through the first section of my staff, iron core and all, then halfway into the second section before losing its momentum. My feet were buried nearly ankle deep in the soft soil from my standing my ground and absorbing the blow. I snatched as hard as I could on my remaining staff section and managed to disarm the skeleton, losing my weapon in the process. Stepping forward, I snapped off three quick kicks in succession, first denting, then fracturing, and finally, caving in the massive skeleton’s skull. When their leader was sent back to the grave, the fight seemed to go out of the score or so remaining skeletons, and we made quick work of them.

        We sat there for a while, surrounded by the remains of the battle, all of us bleeding from numerous wounds, before we even had the strength to make introductions.

        “My name’s Elhonna Kaer’lisk, bounty hunter, warrior for hire, caravan guard, and a half a dozen other things I don’t feel like listing,” I said by way of introduction.

        The platemail-clad cleric was the first to respond, “Since Maggie’s with ya, I’m assuming you must be alright, regardless of yer skin-tone,” he held out a hand at this point, which I shook as he continued. “The name’s Noris Lightbringer,”

        I nodded, then turned to the similarly-clad barbarian as he spoke. “Kelthis Falconfeather,” He said, simply, yet warmly, in a very rich baritone. After introducing himself, he moved to pull some arrows from the quiver on his back and pass them to Maggie.

        The elf looked at me distantly, but not quite coldly, as she bowed and introduced herself. “Sierla Dovewing, at your service.” I bowed painfully in return, then felt a small tug on my tunic. I turned around, then looked down into the smiling face of the gnome female.

        “Fiona Gearturner, I am. Thanks for the save back there, that was so awesome, I mean, I thought I was dead, then, BAM, in you come, flailing about with that ingenious staff of yours and BOOM they weren’t trying to impale me any more and can I see that staff of yours?” she said all of this so quickly I almost lost track of her words a few times.

        I was flabbergasted, but went over to where the skeleton’s sword was still glowing and painfully bent over to gather up the pieces, saddened by the weapon’s loss, but knowing I could always replace it. I handed them over to the gnome who marveled at the craftsmanship of the weapon.

        “I thought surely this would be magical, as well as it stood up to the sword blow, but it’s not. You must be very skilled, where did you receive your training? I’ve not seen anyone move like that before, that I haven’t.” The whole time she was speaking, her hands were making small gestures over my weapon, and slowly, but surely, a magical glow enveloped the weapon and soon the pieces melded back into their former whole state. “Here you go, it’s the least I could do, that it was, would you like me to maybe enchant this for you later on? I wouldn’t mind since I think simply fixing it is nowhere near enough repayment for you risking your life to save me.”

        I nodded dumbly as I spoke, “Sure, that would be great if you could do that later on, but for now, maybe I should hold onto it in case we run into more trouble.”

        She seemed cheered at the thought of being able to do something for me and then went around using the same magic to repair rents in the other party members’ armor.

        “So now what?” I asked. “Maggie told me of your quest. What say we finish what you guys started so the next bunch won’t be so tough to beat down?”

        “Sounds good,” Noris stated, “Let’s move into the Citadel proper. We should have a little time before the gem summons more of the blasted things. In the meantime, while we walk, I’ll do what I can for everyone’s wounds.”

        He commenced to healing us as we walked. There was a singular lack of undead inside the Citadel, due to us having killed off most of them outside the gate and across the small bridge that led into the imposing structure. The Citadel itself was composed of four massive towers rising nearly twenty paces in height, and set about one hundred paces apart, with two-foot-thick walls running between the towers, forming a massive square structure. There was a sturdy keep inside the walls, and we made our way into it, constantly on the watch for any movement signaling that the undead were returning.

        We passed through corridor after corridor and headed underground as the floor we were on turned into a slightly sloping ramp. We passed empty room after empty room, none filled with anything more interesting than cobwebs and crumbled, unidentifiable furniture. We finally came to a large, barred steel band encased solid oak door, nearly five paces in height, deep under the keep.

        I signaled the others to stand back a moment as I slowly approached the door, crouched down a good bit less painfully since my ribs were no longer cracked after being healed. While healing me, Noris told me in an amazed tone of voice, “I’m surprised you could even move, much less do martial arts in that state as you fought the skeleton leader. “

        I replied that I had been trained to ignore pain, and left it at that.

        Regardless, I was now employing some of the skills Matthias had trained me in to see if the door was in any way trapped before opening it. When I could find no traps, I checked to see if it was locked, but luckily it wasn’t, as my lockpicking skills were never really above working with basic locks. I spent much more time on combat training with Matthias. I turned to the rest of the party and said, “There are no traps that I can see, door’s not locked either. Should be safe, or as safe as anything in this place is liable to be.”

        Kelthis stepped forward, and motioned me to the side, then pushed into the door with his not inconsiderable strength. The door slowly budged, then swung open with a squeal that nearly deafened me, as close as I was to the source of sound. The door opened to a sight that was horrifying. Skeletons hung from the ceiling with hooks speared into their skulls, and chains bound their arms behind their backs. Others were impaled on large spears imbedded in the ground. All the skeletons bore slightly elongated skulls and none would have been shorter than six feet tall if alive. These were all obviously elves, and my thoughts were verified at a strangled cry of anger from Sierla behind me.        “I had heard that the entire Soarsong family was imprisoned here, but had hoped they might have escaped. Obviously that wasn’t the case. I shall have to report this to the elven council in Qeynos, their deaths will not be forgotten.” Her eyes traveled over to a small cage filled with wolf carcasses and what seemed to be a few bones from some elven youths. “Blasted Tier’Dal!” she thundered, then fell silent, looking pensively at me, an obvious Tier’Dal descendant who had just saved her from certain death.

        "Tis alright, I agree with your opinion of them. I hold no court with my ancestors on that side of my family. My own father sold me into slavery after my human mother died in the Food Tax Riots almost thirty-five years ago. I wasn’t worth the money to raise, he said.”

        The rest of the party fell silent at that admission, and they seemed to soften toward me somewhat.

        “Regardless, should we try getting them out of their spots?” I asked, knowing that if we did, we might be accosted again by the undead, but also considering Sierla’s thoughts on the matter.

        “I wish we could, but they’ve sat here for over half a millennium, it won’t matter if they sit there a few more months while I get together a larger group to make sure I can consecrate their bodies properly. Let’s get on about our quest.” She moved farther into the room and we saw, sitting on a pedestal that fairly glowed with evil energy, a deep violet gem that pulsed regularly with energy so malignant I expected the gem to come to life and strike us down.

        Noris looked at the gem and shivered visibly before saying, “I didn’t expect it to resonate so strongly”

        Kelthis loosened the bunched muscles in his back, then asked quietly, “Noris, will you be able to carry it out?”

        “I’m not sure,” came Noris’ reply.

        Maggie opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted as a massive throne on one of the side walls grated against the floor and slid to one side, revealing a dark pit out of which climbed a creature from nightmares.

        It stood nearly twelve feet tall, had hide the color of blood, large, batlike wings, a body so muscular it made Kelthis seem a scrawny child. and massive horns that curled to the side then down to the front of its face.

        “Nightblood,” came Fiona’s shaking voice. “I saw them summoned by warlocks at the mage schools during my apprenticeship. Fire won’t hurt it very well, but ice should damage it much more than normal.” This was all delivered in the slowest speed I’d heard Fiona speak to this point.

        Its voice sounded like stones grating together and crushing a tortured soul together between them. “Very good, little mageling. Would you like to be the first to die by my claws? I’ve been locked in that infernal hole for nearly six hundred years, told when this place was evacuated that I could only come out if something good were to enter here. “

        “Silence, filth!” Maggie’s voice was punctuated with a glimmering arrow that shot across the room, trailing glittering crystals, in the time I could blink. The arrow thudded home in the demonic creature’s chest, and a small circle of blue appeared around the point where the arrow entered its skin.

        The beast roared in pain and anger and ripped the arrow from its flesh then charged us. It’s weight shook flakes of stone from the ceiling, but we didn’t cower as I’m sure it expected, we all rushed to engage it in concert. The beast received a blow from Kelthis’ massive warhammer in its abdomen; a resounding crack echoed in the room as Noris’ heavy mace smashed into one of its knees; a small ball of ice flew over our heads and struck the creature in the face as an arrow simultaneously embedded itself in the nightbloods chest inches from where the first struck, as Sierla sprung into the air and planted a kick in the creature’s chest. Her foot crashed into the partly iced over places on its chest and it howled in pain as her foot sunk ankle deep into its flesh. She kicked off it and landed a good dozen feet away.

        At this point, I rushed in from its side and, staff spinning in a blur, I parried one, then two lumbering swipes from its massive, taloned hands, swept my staff in a circle over my head, then swung and connected with the back of its good knee. Its legs nearly gave out at that point, but it managed to keep its feet. It lashed out again in a wide semicircle, trying to hit any of us, but we were working together to well to fall into its ploy. As its hand swung into Kelthis’ range, he swung his warhammer mightily and caught the creature’s hand in mid-swing with the full weight of his blow. The was a resounding crack as his hand broke, and the monster howled in pain.

        As it pulled its now broken hand to its chest to protect it from further injury, Noris held his mace over his head, shouted one word, and then pointed the mace at the creature. A blazing light poured forth from the mace and struck the creature full in the chest, leaving a smoking hole in its wake. As the beast turned wildly in Noris’ direction, Maggie unleashed another of his enchanted arrows into the creature’s side, and I swept in, extended one of my blades, and plunged it into the ice-glazed spot forming around the fresh arrow. The nightblood jerked its head back and screamed soundlessly before dropping to his knees, then falling flat on its face.

        It hit the floor with a thud that knocked poor Fiona from her feet and shook the rest of us other than Kelthis, who promptly stepped forward and brought the heavy head of his warhammer singing through the air to smash the nightblood’s half frozen head to pulp. The creature gave one last shudder, then was still.

        “Good job, everyone,” Came Noris’ voice from my side.

        Fiona stood and said, “I have an idea, if it is a bit gruesome. What if we use the nightblood’s skin to transport the gem back to Qeynos, the high priest there can surely dispel the magic on it. The skin’s magical properties would also shield the gem from giving off it’s pulses to awaken undead as we travel.”

        “Sounds like a good idea, Fiona. Let’s set about skinning a sizable enough piece to wrap around it, distasteful as the task may be. I’ll handle it,” this came from Maggie.

        We waited patiently as Maggie cut away a large swath of skin from the creature’s back. When he finished, we moved with him as he walked over to the gem and tossed the skin over it. The area was bathed in darkness for a moment until Fiona quietly chanted something. The room lit up as a small gem nestled in her hair glowed brightly.

        We bundled the gem up, tied the top of the makeshift bag, then headed back the way we came from. We made it the rest of the way out of the dungeon without incident. As we finally stepped into the weak late afternoon light of the forest, I heard a hiss from behind me, then Sierla dashed in from of Noris. She snapped her hand up in from of his face and snagged an arrow from the air inches before it thudded into his eye.

        Faster than even Sierla could move, a half dozen other shafts came flying from the woods, two caught Sierla in the chest and leg, on hit Kelthis in his massive right shoulder, I heard a small cry as Fiona fell to the ground to avoid being hit in the head and Maggie and Noris both received superficial wounds. Seeing the danger instantly, I dropped my mentalty into my combat trance and sprinted forward almost faster than the others could follow with their eyes, shouting the whole way, “Run! Move, I’ll catch up to you shortly! Get Sierla out of here! Maggie cover their backs”

        I dodged at least a dozen shafts before I felt a dull thud from my abdomen area, but I didn’t stop. I whipped out my weapons as I located them, then put on another burst of speed as I crashed into their ranks. I slit the first person to meet me across the throat and stabbed another in the eye before passing through the remaining half dozen archers, shouting taunts and obscenities back to them. I looked back for a half second and saw an arrow burst through the center of one of the archer’s skulls and then my friends were out of sight. I dashed off just slow enough for the remainder of the ambush party to keep me in sight and not give up pursuit to chase my wounded friends.

        Keep going, don’t stop, their lives depend on you. I said to myself, not understanding why it was so important that those people live, considering I’d only known them hours. Even when the second, then the third arrows thudded into my back, lucky shots I thought at the time, I kept leading my pursuers away from Maggie’s party. My vision narrowed to a tunnel and I gave a small cry of anger and defiance as I finally lost my footing and fell over a root I’d not seen coming.

        The last thing I noticed before losing consciousness was a glimmer of light on what looked like a mirror, and a bellowed war cry in what sounded like…Dwarven?

Figured I'd jump back into the writing scene with a big chapter. Hope you guys enjoy. Maybe another tomorrow.

I changed the nightblood fight sequence a bit, at the request of Ereviz SMILEY He's my little muse, helps me to not suck so much sometimes. Enjoy the edit (hopefully SMILEY )

Final Edit.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 11:53 AM

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Old 10-28-2006, 09:56 PM   #20
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Book 2: The Adventures of Elhonna and Ereviz

Chapter 8: A Pact

        The dwarf muttered to himself as he went about the task of brushing down his war pony before settling down for a nap. It had been a hard day’s ride, but he had nearly finished the trip through Nektulos Forest in one day, not a mean feat considering he started the journey near Bone Lake in the far northern reaches of the forest. He had just laid his head down on his pallet when he heard an anguished scream then hooting and hollering from other throats. He immediately rolled to his feet, untied the pony, then jumped on its back and charged toward the sound, having never been a person of indecision.

        As he arrived on the scene, the dwarf noticed that four mangy looking humans were slowly approaching a humanoid form he couldn’t quite make out. The figure he spotted on the ground seemed to have at least three shafts imbedded in it. A stray beam of the setting sun struck the small figure on the face and he saw what appeared to be a female half-elf  of very dark coloring. Uncertain for a moment of his next action, he sent out a tentative web of life sensing energy and saw a surprising burst of positive energy emanating from the person on the ground.

        Well, that settles it. Can’t let the good ‘uns die. Nothing to do now but… “To the pits of the underworld with ye, evil scum! I’ll strike ye down without even breaking a sweat!” His entire warcry was shouted in Dwarven and made all of the humans look up at the crazy warhammer-wielding dwarf riding down upon them on the back of a fierce looking pony.

        “It’s a berserker!” One of them shouted just before he was tossed aside like a rag doll by the massive one handed warhammer the dwarf swung into his face.

        “Shut yer hole, I’m no berserker! Why, I’m a holy warrior consecrated to the name of  Brell. Get it right, idiot!” This tirade delivered while he first, deflectd three arrows at once, charged across the small clearing, and then crashed into his foes in a fashion much reminiscent of a berserker. As the word ‘idiot’ passes his lips the last of his foes have fallen, unable to get past the dwarf’s large kite shield or his thick plate armor.

        “Well, that’s done with. Let me see here…” He moved to the female lying on the ground and shook his head in sadness. “Too bad, girlie, you almost made it. By the bones of Brell!” He exclaimed as the figure on the ground shifted ever so slightly. “Tough, aren’t ye. Well, if you’re alive I should be able to patch ye back up.” At this, he moved closer to her, then jumped off his pony. As he moved closer, he started drawing on the holy energies contained in his body, then chanted a slow healing song as he laid his hands on her head.

        “This is gonna hurt a bit, you can bet. But you’ll live…I think.” As her strength seemed to return to her and her skin seemed less ashen, he set his teeth against the scream he knew would be coming then reached down to her abdomen and snatched the first arrow out by twisting it slightly to bring it back out of the entrance the same way it went in. It pulled free with a small chunk of flesh and her scream ripped through his consciousness. “Aye, I know, it hurts. Only twice more, then ill fix ye up like it never happened.”

        Her slight frame was still shuddering as he rolled her over onto her stomach then planted a booted foot on her lower back. His own battle wounds twinged a little thinking about how what he was doing felt, then he snatched out the two arrows buried in her back, his action accompanied by her anguished screams. He awkwardly patted her on the head then laid his hand over each wound in succession and called upon his healing energies. Minutes later, she was resting peacefully, and he slung her over the hindquarters of his pony, mounted up, and rode back to his camp.

* * *

        The next morning he was awakened by rustling somewhere close to his bedroll, and snapped wide awake, weapon already in hand, spun, and saw the half-elf squatted over a low campfire, stirring something she had stewing in his cook pot. “Morning,” he said.

        “Good morning to you, too. I was a bit hungry and rummaged around a little,” she said, before turning back to her food. "Hope you don't mind."

        “Not a bit. What ya have cooking there?” He asked as he rolled out of his bedroll and stood up, his ornate silvered platemail gleaming in the early morning light barely filtering through the ever-present cloud cover and thick foliage overhead.

        “Actually managed to find a non-polluted rabbit wandering close to the camp and took him down with my belt knife,” she said matter-of-factly. “There should be enough for both of us,” she nodded at a small stump near where she was crouched.

        “Glad to see you’re doing well. You looked like a porcupine when I found you last night.”

        She gave a small chuckle, then said, “I’ll have to thank you for your assistance. I doubt I would have made it through the night if you hadn’t helped. I’m assuming you healed me.” He nodded. “Right, I owe you for that. Also, what happened to the people who were chasing me?”

        “I tossed 'em in a small pond a little ways downstream. They should wash out of it and down into the river in a day or two. Regardless, they won’t be botherin ye anymore.”

        “I’m glad to hear that. I hope my friends are alright. I was leading those archers off so my wounded friends could escape. I wonder if they made it?” she asked no one in particular. “So, what are you doing in this stretch of the woods?”

        “Oh, I’m just passing through,” he rumbled in his gravelly voice. “Heard you scream, and rode over to check it out. Couldn’t have that kind of ruckus when I’m trying to rest me noggin. Found those men standing over you about to stab you to death, then noticed you weren’t evil like most dark elves I’ve known. You give off a right strong good aura, were you aware of that?” She shook her head, and continued listening.

        “Anyways, after I finished those weaklings off, I yanked the arrows outta yer hide and healed ya up. That’s about the gist of it. I’m gonna be headin out soon, where ya heading now that your pursuers are gone?”

        She thought a moment before replying, “Well, where are you going next? I’m sure my party met up on the Nektulos shipping dock by now. If they made it, I’ll find out when I get there, and then let them go their own way. They don’t need a bounty head traveling with them. I’m not sure how you feel about that either. I’m sure those guys were after the five platinum reward on my head, and my friends were just in the way.”

        “Well, that doesn’t really change anything. I’m assuming yer bounty is out o' Freeport?” She nodded. “Then it’s settled. If ye managed to do something that would annoy Lucan enough to put that kinda price on your head, then ye must not be half bad. I’m headin to Thunderin Steppes once I reach the dock. Got a bit of a quest to finish. Been tracking a family heirloom that got stolen from a dwarven caravan a few months back. I owe the thieves a blood reckoning, as me brother was riding as a guard on that trip. Wanna join me?”

        “Sounds as good as anything I’d do. I can’t go back to Freeport and keep trying to destroy it from the inside for a while. There’s a bit too much activity towards catching me at the moment.” She stops suddenly, looks around pensively and then grabs her staff from beside her on the ground. “We have company. Something in the air.”

        The dwarf picked up his warhammer and shield from beside the stump then stood beside her and rumbled, “Back to back?”

        “Sounds good,” she moved to him and they stood back to back, each scanning the sky and the area between the trees in case the air attackers were accompanied by ground support.

        “I see em,” he said. “Bats, goodly sized ones, coming in fast.”

        “Aye, more from this side coming in now. This should be fun.” The half-elf at his back replied.

        Moments after she spoke, a shrill screeching could be heard from the bats all around, and the two combatants dropped into battle crouches and prepared for the onslaught. Just as they prepared themselves, a large shadow fell over them from directly above, and the half-elf stabbed up with her bladed staff and impaled a bat without even glancing up. She flung it to the side and then launched an attack on the first bat to fly into her range.

        The dwarf behind her crushed the skull of the first bat to fly within his range, held up his shield and let another one bounce off it, and then swatted it aside before it could hit the ground. The battle’s pace picked up as at least another fifteen bats with wingspans as wide as a man's height joined the melee. The dwarf and half-elf stayed at each other’s backs, spinning and attacking, guarding each other’s backs like they had fought together countless times. They fell into a rhythm and almost didn’t notice when the last bat had finally screeched its last.

        “You fight well for being weighed down by all that armor and having those stubby legs,” she said with a grin as she pulled a rag from her backpack and commenced to wiping down her blades.

        “And ye fight alright for being a skinny daisy-eating elf-kin. Now if ye’d just stop running circles around everything ye fight ye might be able to actually kill something,” he said with a large smile in return. He slammed his warhammer into the ground and then almost knocked a small tree over as he knocked the congealed dirt, blood, and brain matter off the head of his warhammer.

        “Elhonna Kaer’lisk, thanks for de-quilling the porcupine you found in the woods last night.”

        “The name’s Ereviz. Nice to meet ye and no problem with healing ye. Want to head out before we have half the forest chasing our heels?”

        “Yeah, sounds good, I’ll get my bag together, but first, some soup!”

* * *

        After eating breakfast and breaking camp, they headed northwest toward the dock area. The had been traveling in companionable silence for a while, Elhonna easily keeping pace with the pony, when Ereviz looked to his side and asked her, “So, what did you do exactly to get a bounty on your head twice the size of any I’ve ever seen excepting the amount Lucan would pay for Antonia’s head?

        Elhonna kept on in silence for a few dozen paces, then slowly started talking.

        “I guess, it was about oh, seventeen or so, when I met the man who became my husband. He saved me from some thugs who had me cornered in an alley in Freeport, and then took me under his wing and trained me in fighting arts and life in general. I told him once when I was about eighteen  that I loved him, but he thought it simply a girlish crush. He gently broke it to me that he didn’t want to have relations in that manner, so I pushed aside my own feelings and put all my frustrations into getting better at my training. I quickly mastered my hand to hand, staff and bladed weapons training.

        “When I turned twenty-two and had experienced more of life I posed my question to Matthias again. At this point, he was about twelve years my senior, even though he looked a bit more weathered than that. He admitted to having developed his own feelings for me as I developed into a woman. We got married less than a month later, and our life was great. That was about three months before the Shattering.

        “Nearly half a year after the Shattering, Matthias was betrayed to the Freeport Militia by someone, and they arrested him in his sleep as an agent of Qeynos. It still puts a smile on my face to think about that fact that it took them nearly thirty men to capture him, as he held them off for me to escape. Five of their men made it out, and Matthias had no weapons to fight with other than his hands.

        “Three days later I had to watch as they hung him in the Execution Square in Freeport. I had to travel to Qeynos to leave Matthias’ final effects with some friends there, and then I headed back to Freeport to embark on a quest of revenge. I spent nearly two years retraining myself and getting to peak condition and beyond, I perfected myself physically and gave myself time to get over my emotions so I could execute my plans without mental interference.

        “Once I was sure of my abilities to do what needed to be done, I started working on tracking down what had happened leading up to my husband being hung before my eyes. Almost a year after my quest started, I discovered the identity of my husband’s traitor. He was a high ranking member of the Seafury Buccaneers. You know who they are?” At his nod, she continued. “Well, I worked my way into their organization, and was almost able to make my move when they found me out. I was chased from one of their ships, but in my rage at being thwarted, I unlocked part of the latent magic I seem to carry inside me.

        "The massive bolt of lightning I unleashed in my anger turned the night sky bright as mid-day, then lanced across the surface of the water, jumping from ship to ship, blowing man-sized holes in each. I remember my vision blurring as the power poured forth from my body, and felt my very existence stretching as I drew dangerously close to channeling more energy than I could handle in my untrained state.

        "Finally, my body spent and my mind in tatters, I managed to cut the flow of energy flowing through me. For a moment there was silence, and the the creaking of timbers could be heard as the ships slowly started to tilt over. I will never forget the screams of the men on the crow's nests of those ships as they tried diving for safety while their ships rolled and bucked beneath them. Almost two of every ten members of the whole organization died in those moments.

        "My heart sickened by what I had just done, I turned and wearily walked down a back alley before anyone realized that the arc of lightning had originated from where I was just standing. As darkness once again took over in South Freeport, I made my way to a sewer entrance, pried the grate up, then slid down and pulled the grate back into place just as the first guard's shouts could be heard echoing down the alley.

        So, of course, the Seafury scum being as close to the Overlord as they are, a massive price was put out on my head. I had many close calls in the ensuing months.

        “I finally got the slime that had my husband killed cornered one night and eviscerated him. After that I took many actions to bring down both the Seafury’s organization and make strikes against the Freeport government in an attempt to avenge my loss. I spent a few years running from the Militia and the Seafuries, but was eventually cornered and had to kill five of the Militia guards, so the price on my head doubled. Since then I’ve been hiding in the underworld of Freeport, acting from the shadows, trying to make everyone involved in my pain as miserable as I was in the days following Matthias’ death.

        “A week ago I killed one of the Seafuries’ assassins, and made my escape from Freeport, and am now on the run. Now you know why I’m here and what my purpose is. Still want me with you?”

        “Yer durn skippy I do. You sound like ye’ll be a lot of fun to be around. Now let’s get busy on getting back me heirloom,” he said with a huge grin.”

        They continued on and when we were almost to the dock Elhonna stopped and turned to Ereviz, then seemed to consider something for a moment. She then stated simply, “I pledge my life to your cause, and would like to enter a pact with you. If you should fall I would like to continue your mission, but only if you’ll do the same for me.”

        “Agreed,” he replied, after only a moments thought, and they continued on their way.

        After passing through a narrow, winding canyon, they came to a large beach area. There were a few places where the beach was large enough that the wind blew up some small sand dunes. Just at the entrance of the beach from the canyon, an enormous boulder had fallen and eventually been covered in sand, making it like a large sandy ball.

        Just on the other side of that large mound, the dock spread out before them.

        “Ready to start the next leg of the journey?” Ereviz asked Elhonna as they arrived at the dock.

        “Yes. Yes I am,” was her reply.

Edited the scene where Elhonna destroys the ships in South Freeport. Thanks again to my muse, Ereviz.

Final Edit.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 12:01 PM

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Old 10-29-2006, 08:18 AM   #21
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Feedback! I'm curious as to who is actually reading and liking what I'm writing, if anyone. Someone shooting me down for sucking would be better than the silence SMILEY Do hope you guys are enjoying my little endeavour into writing. Peace out. Now, to see a Renaissance Festival!
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:31 AM   #22
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Chapter 9: The Sea

        This dwarf intrigues me, was the foremost thing in my mind while we stood together at the handrail on the bow of the ship taking us to the Thundering Steppes. Not only does he save an absolute stranger, but a stranger who closely resembles a Tier’Dal. Yet, there is something, a quality to him, that tells me there are no underlying motives to his help. No hidden plots, no dagger in the dark, nothing. He seems calm and sure of himself, yet saddened by events as of late. Losing any family member in a dwarven family usually constitutes a multitude of mourning, and when it’s because of something like what befell his brother I’m willing to bet he’s even worse off.

        “What will you be doing once you’ve had your revenge?” I asked him.

        “I don’t rightly know. Ye see, I’ve spent all the time since me brother was killed trackin’ down the filth what killed him and the rest o’ his crew. I’ve not given much thought to what comes next. I suppose I’ll finish me trainin’, for one.” I looked quizzically at him. “Me and me brother, we joined the Order of the Crusaders of Brell. ‘Tis ‘bout his only chapter o’ dedicated holy knights.

        “Anyways, I’ve made it to the rank o’ journeyman, so not much more is required o’ me as far as combat arts are concerned. The rest o’ me trainin’ is o’ the spiritual type. Me heart will get closer to the ideals of Brell and me abilities will grow.” He fell silent after this for a period, then turned to ask me, “What’ll it take ye to finish the quest ye’ve set yerself upon?

        “I’m not sure,” I replied. “I would like to eventually see Lucan’s head on a pike, but I don’t know if any one person alone could possibly accomplish that. I suppose I’ll just go on hindering any Seafury operations I come across until I’m either too old to keep going, or find something else that gives me a sense of fulfillment. If I were a more capable assassin, I would have probably already killed every major leader in their organization, but alas, sneaking about in high security places has never been something I was good at. I tend to just snap someone’s neck rather than try to avoid them, and am eventually noticed from lack of people checking in on time.

        “As a matter of fact, that’s why I had to kill those Militia members a few months ago. I got a good lead on a time when one of the Seafuries’ captains would be without much protection for almost three hours and decided to make a quick strike on his home and take him out. Unfortunately, one of the two guards he had left was some kind of magic user. Before I managed to kill the guard, he sent a magical message to the local guard’s barracks, and they sent five of their best on-duty Militiamen out to arrest me. They burst in just as I was finishing the second guard and almost caught me unawares. The only choice I had to avoid arrest was to do unto them as they would have done unto me after my ‘trial’.

        “The slime of a Seafury escaped my wrath and I had to go into hiding. Changed my name and paid a mage from the Freeport underground to cast a magic-cloaking spell on me. As long as I didn’t cast a spell I would not show any traces of magical aura, as that is how they had tracked me down time and time again. I had to use a spell to kill the assassin that attacked me in my room a ten-day ago, and the Militia caught on to the fact that I was still operating in Freeport. At least ten guards on were on my trail when I escaped Freeport through a secret tunnel no one but Matthias and I knew of.”

        Ereviz looked thoughtful for a moment, then asked, “What abilities do ye have? I like to know the abilities o’ anyone I travel with. Let’s me know how they can back me up.”

        I had to consider for a moment. After making mental notes and running over the many fights I had been through, I started telling him what my known capabilities were.

        “Well, I know for a fact that I can toss a mean lightning bolt if I have to, but that spell takes it out of me. I can sense the life-force of anything around me that is actually alive out to a range of about one hundred paces. I have a bit of healing ability that I recently discovered, so I’m not sure how much I can use it before tiring myself, as I’ve had no chance to experiment. That’s about it as far as I know when it comes to magical abilities that I have to focus to use.

        “My combat abilities are far superior, as far as I am concerned. I can throw almost any weapon with unerring accuracy, am very good at dodging blows, can fight very well unarmed, as well as with a wide variety of melee weapons, and can enter a sort of trance that allows me to move faster and take punishment that would normally incapacitate me.

        “What about you? Other than seeing you use that hammer and shield very well, and knowing you can heal quite well, I know nothing of your abilities,” I asked in return.

        After a slight hesitation, Ereviz started speaking.

        “Well, me healing and melee abilities are ‘bout my best qualities. I can also take a heck o’ a beatin’. I do have a few other tricks, like a spell that absorbs blows that land on ye, a spell to deflect damage off people who stay close to me, and a spell that’ll make me allies tougher to kill.”

        We sat in companionable silence for a while after that, watching the rise and fall of the waves around us. We were probably about a day and a half out of our destination at this point, and the water was perfectly blue in every direction. Off the starboard bow, I saw a dolphin slice through the water, dive down then jump nearly two paces out of the water with a fish in its mouth. I felt a serene peace watching that scene, and from being at sea.

        Every since my first trip to Qeynos those many years ago, I noticed that I have a deep respect, and maybe love, for the sea. I never experienced sea-sickness, and my dark skin tone never burned, so I could run about without having to wear clothing that covered every inch of my skin. I felt, and to this day feel, a freedom while at sea that I feel nowhere else. I looked over at my companion, with his large feet widely set, riding the motion of the boat easily, and felt as if I were standing next to a kindred spirit.

        “Hey, want to go below-decks and toss down a few pints?” I asked him.

        His eyes lit up and he grinned as he responded, “Ye bet I do, I was hopin’ ye’d ask.” At the end of his sentence he was halfway to the door leading downstairs, and he turned and said, “What’re ye waitin’ for? If ye don’t hurry, ye’ll be sitting there wishin’ ye had some ale, as it’ll all be in me belly!”

* * *

               

        We made it to port with no attacks from pirate ships or sea goblins or anything. I was very surprised, as it seemed a day didn’t go by when I didn’t get attacked or have to save someone else from getting attacked. I was also very pleased, as the three days I spent on that ship were some of the most relaxing I had enjoyed in quite some time. I felt as if the world was mine for the taking, and nothing was impossible.

        After departing the ship and waving good-bye to a few sailors we had played at dice with, Ereviz and I traveled up and down the dock. I stopped and asked what we were looking for, but the only response I received was ‘I’ll let ye know when I find it.’ Deciding to let the dwarf go about his search in peace, as I’m the kind to badger someone until they break and tell me what I want to know or throw something at me in frustration, I told him I was going to go sit down in a small pub on the dock we had just passed.

        “Alright, I’ll come back for ye when I’ve found what I’m lookin’ for,” he said as he continued on.

        I walked into the establishment, and almost stabbed someone as they ran up and wrapped me up in a hug; then I recognized her. “Fiona!”

        “Hey there, Elhonna! I’m glad you made it out okay. I thought you were dead because I saw those men shoot you as you ran in to distract them, but I didn’t say anything to rest of the group because I didn’t want them charging in and getting themselves killed and making your sacrifice worth nothing. But you’re alive and you’re here and boy am I glad to see you and can I see your staff now?” All of this was, of course, delivered in Fiona’s nearly indecipherable, insanely fast normal speaking tone.

        “Why, I suppose so,” I said as I started to remove my staff from my back. “By the way, where is everyone else?” I asked as I handed it over.

        “Oh, they all went with Noris to Qeynos to have that nasty gem cleansed. I stayed here to do some research on a type of aquatic fish whose bones are supposed to be so hard you can make a pick-axe from them and break diamonds. I’m not sure if it’s fact or not, but I’ve nothing to do after the last quest and wanted to spend some time to myself catching up on my multitudes of research. So, what would you like me to enchant into this weapon? I can do any number of things, including doing a small amount of fire or ice damage, making it swing a little faster, and making it much harder to break at the same time as making it lighter.”

        I pondered the question and the options for a few moments before asking, “Can you make it harder and make it magically sharp? As in, sharp enough to cut metal and never need to be sharpened?”

        She thought for a second then said, “Yes, it’s just a twisting of the fire magic, like so, to make the metal constantly reforge itself, and using my magical sight, I can re-unify the dowhigs that actually compose the metal. And the hardness thing is achieved by increasing the attractiveness the dowhigs actually have for each other, so the       energy field between them compresses and leaves room for the reforging process to cram more dowhigs into the same space. Sound good?” I nodded confoundedly, and she continued.

        “It’s quite simple really, you just take a small amount of fire magic to heat everything constantly, and some ice compressed within it to cool it down instantly, and it stays the same temperature. All of this with an aura of air defining the outline and constantly compressing the metal to act as the weaponsmith in the resharpening process. And…I’m done!” She beamed up at me. “You like it?”

        I tested the edge with my fingertip and had to stick my finger in my mouth to suck the blood that was coming out of the hair-thin cut I had just given myself with the slightest pressure. I silently picked up the two sections of staff, walked outside, then speared one piece into a piling near the pub grabbed a maul that was sitting nearby, slammed it into the end, of the staff section-nearly burying the whole blade in the piling- and lastly, jumped up and landed on the spear. I stood there for a minute, then jumped up and down on the handle, trying to snap or even bend the blade. Neither occurred, and my jumping made enough of a space in the wood around the blade that when I hopped down, I was easily able to whip my staff’s blade out of the piling.

        “Very nice work, indeed, Fiona,” I said. “Very nice work indeed. This will do quite well.” I then stored the pieces in their cases on my back. “You should have been a weaponsmith yourself, Fiona. People would pay a fortune for craftsmanship such as this. I’m sure you could turn almost any decently forged weapon into a work of art.” Her face fairly shone at all of my compliments, and I continued. “One day I might have to commission you to make some other special weapons for me, but for now this weapon is quite serviceable.”

        “I’m glad you like it. Most people don’t trust me to work with their weapons because I am so excitable. But how can I help it, when I know that I can do these things and make these items so much better at fulfilling their tasks?” she looked slightly sad as she said these things, but then perked up. “I know, maybe you could help spread the word about how good my work is, and my reputation will grow, and I’ll make a bunch of money, and I’ll share it with you for helping me get started!”

        I smiled and said, “If anyone will believe the words of a half-Tier’Dal, I will do all I can to make sure everyone knows of your abilities. One last thing, how long does this enchantment last?”

        She looked confused for a moment then clarity passed over her face. “Ah, yes. The enchantments are permanent. I wrapped a small spell around all of the magic to both cloak the fact that it is magical, and renew the spell every waking moment until either a more powerful weapon manages to destroy it, or the world ends. Whichever comes first. The metal will never rust now either, by the way. The reforging process remakes the weapon constantly, so it will never lose its shape or sharpness. Any other questions?”

        “Yes, one more. What do they serve to eat at this pub, I’m famished!”

* * *

        Ereviz arrived halfway through our meal, looking excited. I told him to take a seat, then signaled a waitress, who immediately went into the back room then returned carrying a heaping pile of roasted beef, a platter of fish, vegetables and fresh baked bread, and two large flagons of ale. Ereviz’s eyes lit up even more at this point, and he set into the meal in true dwarven fashion, eating the meal so quickly I almost thought he had simply breathed it in.

        He sat back with a belch well before Fiona and I were finished eating, and complimented the chef loudly. Then he turned to me and said, “Are ye about ready? I’ve found what I was lookin’ for, and I’d like to show ye. Also, who’s yer friend?

        I introduced him to Fiona and told him the quick version of our adventure, then said good-bye to Fiona and left the tavern with Ereviz.

        “I’m assuming I will have to wait until we get to whatever it is you were looking for before I get to find out what it is?” I asked as we hurried down the dock.

        “Aye, and ye’ll be happily surprised too, I’m betting. Now, come ye on, we don’t have forever.”

        We walked on for another fifteen minutes or so before coming to a small ramp that led down off the main pier. He headed down this ramp without missing a step, and I fell in behind him. Moored to the end of the small pier at the bottom of the ramp was a small sailboat.

        “This is what we’ll be takin’ to get to Pirate’s Cove, which is where I tracked me brother’s killer to. ‘Twas me brother’s ship. Now it’s mine. It only takes two people to pilot the craft, and since I’ve sailed it since I could barely walk, I’m sure I could teach ye enough to make a passable sailor.

        I smiled widely before saying, “Learning to sail sounds like fun. Let’s get gone, unless you have something else holding you at this port.”

        “Nope, already had ‘er stocked, and we’re ready to ship out. Toss that line off that piling, now, pull that rope a little until the mainsail is at about halfmast, we don’t wanna take off too fast and ram ‘er into somethin’. Good, now, off we go!

Final Edit.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 12:07 PM

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Old 10-31-2006, 06:48 PM   #23
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Come on guys. I'm having a hard time of it. Can you lurkers toss me some inspiration? My imagination is at a low. /requesthelpbreakingwritersblock
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Old 11-01-2006, 01:09 AM   #24
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Chapter 10: A First Adventure

        In a tavern in Longshadow Alley, a subdivision of Freeport, dire plans are made that will send Elhonna down an unforeseen path.

        “I don’t care what you have to do, I want that child. I need her, and if I have to burn the skin from your bones and send your skeleton to do the job, so be it,” said the dark cowled man sitting before Rathan Lightscourge, a shadownight of Cazic-Thule.

        Rathan replied, “I promise you, my liege, the child will be at your feet within a *fortnight.

        “If she isn’t, consider your head to be already adorning a pike,” was the response as the cowled figure slid back into darkness then seemingly disappeared.

        A light of malice entered the shadownight’s eyes when the other figure was departed. If it does please thee, ‘My liege’, I will adorn a pike with your head the first time you ever turn your back on me. Then he stopped talking in his head and said to himself quietly out loud, “So, a trip to Qeynos. I suppose I’ll have to pay someone to cast a cloaking spell on me so I can sneak in. Heh, my orders didn’t include leaving anyone at the residence alive besides the girl, so I might yet get some enjoyment out of working with that slime.”

        After this statement, the half-insane human walked off, still muttering to himself.

* * *

 

        “I think I could come to enjoy being a sailor,” I said to Ereviz after two days of learning everything that he could teach me about the art of sailing as we headed due south of the Thundering Steppes a few miles off the coast.

        “Aye, ye seem to take to it well, ye do. I can well remember when I was in your place, running about under the orders of me brother. I miss him quite a bit. I don’t think I’d be able to sail alone on this ship, too many memories.” He stood there at the wheel silently for a bit. “Besides, I can’t be givin’ up a natural born sailor, now can I? When we get to that small island ahead, I want ye to drop anchor, and after the sun goes down, we’ll take the rowboat in and see if that island is the one I was told about,” he said, his smile fading a bit as the realization that the end of his quest might be soon at hand.

        My natural curiosity made me finally speak on something that had been bothering me, “I’ve got a question, Ereviz. If by some chance you should fall and be unable to guide me, I will have no idea what the heirloom you are seeking looks like. What is it exactly, and why is it so important to you?”

        “I wondered when ye’d ask; almost thought it had slipped yer mind at this point. Well, since we do have our pact, and ye seem one to keep your word, I’ll let ye in on a little family secret. The soul of our first ancestor is tied to a grimy, rusty old shield. When in the hands of a true direct descendant of our family, the shield lends wisdom and strength to the dwarf holdin’ it. It also protects against a goodly bit o’ damage the wielder receives and encases ‘im in an aura that promotes healing and shields ‘im against the effects of fire. ‘Tis much the same size as the shield you’ve seen me using. Me brother, as the eldest of me siblings, was to inherit the shield at a ceremony when ‘e arrived in Qeynos with the rest of the caravan.

        “Alas, they never made it, and were attacked at least three days out from the landing at Thundering Steppes. They managed to get one magical message out saying they were being attacked, and we lost contact with ‘em. A magical scrying showed that all the people on the two ships were killed and their souls arrived safely in the afterlife.

        “All in all the shield’s important ‘cause ‘twill not only make the head o’ the family stronger physically, but ‘twill help ‘im lead everyone wisely.”

        “So, I’m looking for a shield the size of yours that looks worthless? What happens if the bandits themselves are carrying shields much the same or are actually using yours?” I asked.

        “Well, the shield’ll react to me like ‘twill to no one else. Ye’ll know you’ve found the right one if when you touch it, it flashes an image in the back o’ yer skull.”

        “How will it know me from anyone else?” I replied.

        “’Cause I’m gonna place a spell on ye when we actually find the place that’ll make the shield think yer a member o’ me family. Any more questions?” he queried.

        “Nope, that about covers what I was curious about. We’re almost within rowing distance of the island, I’m going to go prepare the rowboat.”

 

* * *

 

        About three hours later we stowed our rowboat under a large bush near the beach. The small strip of beach we landed on was covered in a fine mist, as the moisture from the day rose out of the sand. The sun had set half an hour before and the fitful light from exploded Luclin slightly illuminated the area, giving the beach a strangely ethereal feel, as if we were walking along in a dream world.

        I could hear muted insect calls coming from the dense forest and see intermittent lightning strikes in the distance as a sea storm rolled in from the southeast. The storm had been steadily brewing during the entirety of our trip and it seemed Fate was on our side, as it was going to break over the island just as we arrived.

        We checked the island from a high vantage point and found, near the center of the league-wide patch of green in the middle of the island, a large camp. A small bay ran right up to the edge of the camp, and we could just barely make out a black flag on one of the ships’ masts sticking up through the dense fog by the light the now constant lightning provided. I told Ereviz to give me an hour to scout out the camp, as he was anything but quiet in his full body platemail. He grumbled about not just charging in and laying waste to the place, but I eventually managed to convince him that it would be in our best interests to know the basic layout of the place at least.

        Ten minutes later, I was scouting around the perimeter of the camp, and could see at least three buildings that seemed to be capable of housing higher placed members of this bandit group. At least a dozen smaller establishments encircled those three buildings and a large warehouse near the beaten dock sticking out into the bay. Checking on the movements of the guards patrolling the area, I saw that they had absolutely no discipline, and incapacitating one or more guards would be quite easy, if I could manage to get Ereviz to shuck some of his armor for a bit.

        Before heading back, I snuck up to where two guards were standing together, talking in half-drunken voices, and heard one of them slur to the other, “I think thish ish a grand idea! We can findally make enough loot to sit on our duffs for a while!”

        “Aye! De captains ideas are failproof, dey are! No *hic* body’ll notice if we sink one stoooopid *hic* merchant ship full of ill…ille…unlawful stuff!”

        I went back to the hill where we had our first sight of the village with at least five minutes to spare, and laid out my plans to Ereviz. We would knock out at least two guards, then meet back up at a small house in the village that I could tell was abandoned. There were at least sixty people running around the village, more than we could handle without any help, and we had no ready source of help. So we would have to cause as little attention as possible for as long as possible, then make our strikes on certain areas and keep moving, to make it look as though we had more than two people.

        It was Ereviz who suggested we sink the three ships in the bay, and I agreed that we should try, as I wouldn’t want even a crooked merchant to fall prey to these scum. Besides, the merchant may have been a lawful person, and their ‘captain’ lying to them.

        Regardless, Ereviz and I made our way to the edge of the pirate village and managed to subdue our respective guards then meet up in the abandoned house.

        “Part one of the plan, finished,” I said quietly.

        “Aye, now to get my revenge and find me shield!” he whispered with a mad gleam in his eyes.

        “Let’s get about it then, the first of the buildings is over this way…”

 

 

* Fortnight is two weeks. Also, for anyone who has been wondering, I tend to use very dated measuring systems, and only use feet and such to avoid confusion, but the measuring system I would use in all my writing if everyone who reads this knew it would be thus: Hand span or span= 9 inches or approx. 23 centimeters; pace being about 5 feet; Furlong is equal to about 1/8th of a mile; a mile being about 1000 paces or 5000 feet; and the league about 3 miles. And yes, I noticed I’ve messed up and tossed those around a few times, so that’s another reason for the clarification. *

 Final Edit.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 12:12 PM

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Old 11-01-2006, 05:01 AM   #25
SpritRaja

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Read upto chapter 4 so far and thought I would post some comments about what I have read so far.

You have a good discriptive style of writing and I quite like it. The main char is missing something that pulls the reader into looking through his eyes though. Maybe it is because he hasn't shown a more human side(so far) such as emotions etc. He also tends to pull through most trials rather easily without much effort in my eyes. When a hero is surprised, astonished or even beaten the reader sometimes comes to emphasize with him more.

I have only read upto chapter 4 so far. I will continue reading when I have the time and will post my feedback about the rest of the story.

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Old 11-01-2006, 09:44 AM   #26
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Despair not, you're doing very well. 
Writer's block is tough to work through- I know, believe me.

Set the story aside, mull it over.  Re-read what you've written, try to think as the reader thinks- what flows naturally for the next part?

Try writing in smaller sections- trying to pound out a long chapter can be tiring.  Halfway through you can lose your momentum and then it drags.

Part of the reason I write one a week is to give myself time.  The only pressure you're under is that which you create yourself.

SpritRaja has some good points- make your hero suffer some; it draws the reader in.  Think of all the terrible things I've done to Ambrosious- and all the terrible things he's done.  But because you know his history, you like him in spite of what he does (or maybe because...).  We can all empathize with the person who suffers, who is like us- while we admire the hero who always miraculously pulls through, we dont really connect with him.

You have a good grasp of grammar (very important) and a good writing style.  Writing is not as easy as people think, so give yourself some credit- you have talent!

 

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Old 11-01-2006, 09:56 AM   #27
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I flesh her out much more in later chapters, and i hope you'll be pleasantly surprised at her more vulnerable side SMILEY thanks for the comment and enjoy my ongoing story SMILEY (She's basically like a level 30ish character fighting low teens or less mobs in game terms in the early chapters. her opponents get much more challenging in the trials to come SMILEY )
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Old 11-02-2006, 04:31 AM   #28
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Read upto chapter nine. It definately gets much better than your first few chapters. For some reason I didn't even pick up that the main character was female from the first chapters I read.

Love the story so far.

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Old 11-03-2006, 12:30 AM   #29
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Edited chapter 7 and 8. The parts I edited are described in the corresponding chapters. Enjoy. I'm going to have another chapter out soon.
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Old 11-20-2006, 02:10 AM   #30
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Chapter 11: The Pirate’s Cove

        Lightning broke overhead as we moved into the village. A few intermittent raindrops fell in quick bursts, and I could tell a harsh storm was about to batter the island. The thunder from the constant lightning was covering the occasional clunk of Ereviz’s platemail.

        We moved as quietly as possible between buildings, with my scouting ahead a bit to make sure no roving patrols walked into our laps. We had a few close calls on the way to the first of the three larger buildings. In one case, we had to incapacitate a drunken guard before he could sound an alert with the battered bronze horn on his side.

        Ereviz looked on me with new respect after barely being able to watch my flickering progress as I dashed close to the guard, punched him in the throat, then drop kicked him in the face, caught him before he made a lot of noise falling, and dragged the smelly human into the shadows of a nearby building.

        We used his own clothing to bind him, and then gagged him as well. We found an empty rain barrel, stuffed him into it feet first, then put the nearby cover back on. As an afterthought, I punched a hole in the barrel, near the bottom. I didn’t want to drown the hapless pirate while he was trapped. I scouted forward again, and found we were only a few dozen paces from our first objective.

        As I got back into the shadows of the building Ereviz was standing beside I whispered, “We are close. Watch my back while I check for a hidden way into the building. We’ll be caught for sure if we have to go in the front. If everything goes wrong, and we can’t get out, let’s take as many with us as physically possible.” I delivered this last statement with a tight grin.

        “Nay, girlie. We can’t fail at this point. ‘Tis not an option. If it all goes bad, we’ll be the last ones standing, and then we’ll walk out o’ ‘ere whistling a happy tune. I refuse to let me brother ‘ave died in vain.” A fierce light had entered his eyes as he spoke, and now I could see the power of his faith flickering through his aura.

        “Cast the spell on me that’ll let your shield respond to me, then we’ll move in.”

        “Aye, will do,” he responded as I felt his aura expand outwards a bit. I felt my bones become heavier, and my muscles felt much denser, but as the effect built, I felt I could leap over a building. It was a strange feeling, though he had explained just what would happen. I felt much stronger than my usual self, and could see now what made him such a fierce fighter.

        “Is this how you feel all the time?” I asked.

        “Almost always, unless I’m at me guild chapter’s house in Qeynos. Never hurts to be ready to cause grievous injury to evil and chaotic creatures any time o' the day.” I could see his tight-lipped grin through his thick beard.  “Ye adjusted to it now?”

        “Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s move.” So we did. The wind had started to pick up at this point, and a light rain was starting to fall. I was slightly in front of him, scanning every dark nook and cranny along the way, while his dark piercing eyes scanned for any heat signatures. We came up to the side of the building without incident; it seemed the pirates were lax from lack of invaders over the years and their stronghold being so well-hidden.

        Ereviz and I looked around for a minute or so before he boosted me up on his shoulders and I looked through a grimy window to spy upon the building’s contents. I beheld a goodly number of unwashed men and women bedded down for the night and figured this must be a main barracks. There were no shields in sight that matched the description Ereviz had given me, plus I could spy nothing with a dwarven aura in the area.

        I dropped to ground to converse with Ereviz while keeping a constant lookout for anyone who might stumble down the little throughway we stood in.

        “I don’t see any shields in here,” I whispered. “There are at least three other rooms in this building, though.”

        “Aye, well, let’s get to searchin’, then,” was his response.

        We systematically went from window to window, with me peering in and trying to sense a magical aura, but to no avail. We managed to sneak to another building without being discovered, then we started searching the windows there, too. The last window we checked on the building had dimly flickering candle light showing through the filthy window panes. I checked that one slowly.

        As I peered over the edge of the window seal, I nearly fell from Ereviz’s shoulders in startlement as a knife thunked home in the wall beside the window on the inside of the room at the same time as fierce thunder rolled through the area. Thinking we had been seen, I started to get to the ground, but then heard a rough voice from inside the room.

        “That blasted Jermaine! Sorriest excuse for a pirate captain this side of the Sea of Tears! I’d gladly slit his throat, if it weren’t for that blasted cloak!”

        A female’s low purring voice could be heard replying, “Yes, Fjord, I understand completely. Even I was unable to do the deed. Oh, I shiver to think of the time I spent in that beast’s bedchambers, trying to find a weakness. Only to be sent out days before I planned to kill him!” The longer she talked the higher and rougher pitched her voice became.

        “Well, Gerta, had you reported back to us more regularly, we may have noticed something you didn’t. As it is, we don’t even know that he’s ever vulnerable.” The pirate stopped for a second as thunder clashed through the village.

        “Even when he is bathing he has that cloak on and if by some chance he stops to have his way with a wench, he bars the door and ties her up before doing anything. Mistrustfulness has kept him alive for a long time. A lot longer than he deserves! Always taking the lion’s share of loot, the best women, and anyone who goes against what he says can expect to be whipped till their flesh falls from the bones!”

        Fjord continued his rant, “To add insult to injury, the scum took the only magical items we had off that damned merchant ship we raided last. Even I, his first mate, didn’t get a share! I want that rapier he got off their fat captain. Even that blasted dwarven shield that no one can figure out how to use. I could sell that for a pretty penny and get something worth keeping! Something, anything! Bah! I can’t think on this any more tonight; I’m going to bed, Gerta. Would you like to join me?”

        “Of course, Fjord, it’s what you pay me for isn’t it?” she replied in a scathing tone of voice.

        “Why yes, it is, Gerta. Into the room with ye!” he replied cynically.

        At this point, I hopped from Ereviz’s shoulders and related the conversation that had passed between the two pirates.

        He was ready to storm the captain’s quarters immediately, stating “I’ll cut ‘is ‘ead from ‘is shoulders and toss into the bay. The time’s finally come for a reckonin’. ‘Tis time for me brother’s revenge an’ I’ll not be kept from it!” This last was said in a fierce whisper.

        “Aye, there’s only one problem. I didn’t hear them say where the Captain’s quarters lie. Could be on one of the ships or the other building we haven’t checked. We don’t have much time left before people start waking up. We have to get the place right the first time.”

        “Aye, let’s try to see if we can figure that out,” Ereviz replied. “I’ve an idea, let’s head back to that rain barrel.”

        We made our way back to the dark-shadowed alleyway we had left the pirate in, and slowly opened the rain barrel. Muffled cursing could be heard from inside. I told Ereviz to stand watch at the end of the alley, then as he walked off, turned to the man in the barrel and pulled out my belt knife.

        I leaned very close to him to whisper almost inaudibly, “I don’t have time to play games, and I will gutshank you and leave you to die here over the next few days if you don’t tell me what I want to know.”

        His eyes were nearly bulging out as he caught by the tone of my voice that I was deadly serious. I continued whispering to him.

        “I’m going to lower your rag for a moment and you’re going to answer me this - where does the Captain stay. Are you going to try yelling when I lower your gag?” He gave a vehement shake of his head. “Good, then I’ll let you live.” He sagged visibly at this and looked up at me waiting for me to lower the gag.

        I reached down and lowered it just enough for him to speak, and in a whisper I could barely hear, due to me having nearly caved in his throat earlier, said, “T-the middle s-ship. W-with the m-mermaid w-with the a-arrow t-through her t-throat.”

        I nodded then moved his gag back over his mouth and whispered, “I’m not going to seal this, but I’m sure you can understand that I’m about to knock you back unconscious. Unlike most of your brethren, at least you’ll live the night through for sure.”

        He nodded tightly just before my hand thudded quietly against the side of his head. His eyes rolled back and he didn’t stir. I joined Ereviz at the end of the alley, then said quietly, “The middle ship, the one with the mermaid on the bow.”

        “Aye, let’s get over there then,” was all he had to say.

Final Edit.

Message Edited by Ferunnia on 01-17-2007 12:16 PM

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