Author Topic: Lucius Corvinus Draco  (Read 7200 times)

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Re: Lucius Corvinus Draco
« Reply #30 on: June 14, 2010, 05:09:27 PM »
There is something to be said for proper communication, but when the five of us were spread all over the city it became damned near impossible. So while sat at Nensia’s waiting to hear from Stalland about where Red had gotten to I was disturbed in my room with a message from someone that they were here to see Stalland about some healing. Since he wasn’t in the building and as far I knew was relatively unharmed all I could do was ask if the person in question could come back later when he was in. Sadly I had no idea when that would be, and never thought to check if the woman at the door could do something for poor Gaius, whose only medical attention thus far had been at the hard end of a half brick and the business end of some kitchenware.

Eventually the two of them returned - Red and Stalland that is - and gave me some details about how their evening had gone. The more important parts seemed to be concerned with another showing from Grytharnak, who took out the Matrine Solux, raising its tally of city leaders by one more. Made me realise even more that we needed to get ourselves to see our friend in hiding and hope like hell she could be of some help. The other bit of news was that the young Kora had taken a hell of a head wound and needed some healing of her own. After taking just a quick look at her, all I could do was hope for the best, but Stalland had plans more grand than blind hope; he had taken on the services of a Yurwian healer to take care of both her and Gaius. This was the woman at the door earlier who had come to see to Gaius but the message had not come through clear enough for that.

She knew her stuff though, and was quick to work on Kora’s bleeding scalp, doing what she could for her before turning to Gaius. It must be said that the crazy cook had done a half decent job and he looked healthier already, but with the druidess’s help he was steadier on his feet in minutes. With all that sorted out, and the news finally through to Red that she was expected at the Umbruc halls as soon as possible, preferably two hours earlier, we started getting our things together to make a move. Stalland managed to convince Nensia to let him move Kora through the bar up to his room and that gave us a chance to get everything we would need for an assault into the tower of familiars once more. The only thing in the way was Red; well actually, it was what she had purchased at the bazaar.

Some pig looking creature with a bad attitude was snarling at all of us through the bars of the cage she was carrying and when I told her it would have to stay and that since I wasn’t covered in blood from the fight at the bazaar I would get it upstairs and out of the way while dropping our gear from the window. She refused at that point, claiming that she simply couldn’t leave the little thing alone after only just buying it. That gave us only one option; she would have to carry it with her. There was no way she was going to miss an appointment with Alsune that she was already late for just because she didn’t want to leave her creature alone. Strangely at that point she changed her mind; maybe realizing how little she could accomplish in a fight if she was carrying a cage in both hands, and grabbed some food from the kitchen and left it in her room.

I also grabbed the large box of cash that Nensia owed to the Umbruc and we made our way there. It was no surprise to us that Nef was still not at the door, and instead two of Royden’s boys were keeping the unwanted from the door, which meant we got straight through. We all made our way to Alsune’s together and it was made clear that the plan hadn’t changed and we still had to get Drona into the tower, hoping to find the artifact that would help us, or a way of recreating the runes that would keep it trapped. Drona was nowhere to be seen though and we were informed that Me’Het had done what she could to restore his will to a level that would see him fit for the task at hand. It was news such as that made me more and more concerned for the day that might come when we would have to deal with not only Me’Het, but maybe also Drona too.

After filling her in with the results of my conversation with Adoni, I was asked to stick around for a few minutes for a private chat and was told that there will come a point when Red will need to tell me something and if 24 turnings passed without her volunteering the information, I may have to move against her. That was something I didn’t relish, so when Stalland and I were sent out of the room to retrieve Drona, leaving Red with Alsune for their private chat, I passed this information on and he agreed to watch my back if the worst came to the worst. Before too long we were inside a dark room with Me’Het and a passed out Drona on a stone slab; we were warned by Me’Het that waking him up too quickly may be detrimental to his health, so we decided the best thing would be to carry his still unconscious form to the Skrite and wait for him to come to.

The crew split again for a few minutes as we all picked up some new armour, weapons or just made sure our loved ones were OK, but eventually we were all back in the Skrite and Drona was back in the land of the living. It was a simple matter of barging and ferrying our way to the tower this time, spending no time in the horror filled chambers beneath the city, and while in the middle of the harbor Red finally told us her relationship with the cock who tried to stop us getting into the city with Me’Het, she was his daughter. Her actions when in the company of the higher ranks of Pyraxian society now make a bit more sense; if her father was on the lookout for her and was a very powerful man, she did well to keep her head down and use a series of fake names.

When we got to the tower, things got more than a little bit strange. It was crawling with agitated daemons in a way I had never heard of before; it must have been the activities of Grytharnak that was making them so restless, but they seemed even more spooked by Drona, chittering loudly when he came near, hissing and raising their hackles like scared house pets. He managed to get them under control though, very quickly indeed, and once we were up onto the walkway we had fled from not too long ago, he used them to eat through to thick wooden planks and we were in in no time.

The room was as we left it. The door was open. And once Drona walked in, we also realised that there was still something in there, and it wasn’t happy to have been disturbed.
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Re: Lucius Corvinus Draco
« Reply #31 on: June 21, 2010, 08:40:54 PM »
It seemed like everything had slowed down to a crawl as Drona ran towards me, looking for all the world like he was wading through honey as I pulled my sword free and started to move towards him.

Before the final inch of steel had slid free the air next to my face was ripped open as an arrow whistled past my cheek and sunk into the creature that was leaping at the daemonologist. It was a large dark creature, reptilian looking as I remember it; like a zolt but bigger and with a hide like shiny scale mail made of obsidian. Its hide was tough, I would find that out for myself in very little time, but my first clue was how little effect the arrow had on it; I can’t even remember hearing it gasp or expel air, just carry on through the air and onto Drona’s back, pinning him to the ground.

I pulled myself up short at that point, knowing that there were two other creatures in the room and being wary of more hiding in the inky darkness that kept the farthest points of the room shrouded from view. I was grateful to have stopped at the doorway for a second as Gaius was only a second behind me and thrust his spear above us, into the shadow above the entrance and dislodged a fourth creature which leapt down onto him, my hasty thrust into its belly doing little even with the weight of the creature behind the blow as it plummeted down. With that threat removed Stalland charged past the three of us and into the room hoping to free Drona from the claws of the beast on his back and the jaws of the two others that had also pounced in the seconds Gaius and I had been attacked. One each had his arms held firmly and even though his armour was strong it was clear they had punctured through to the flesh.

With Red shooting arrow after arrow into the melee, and Stalland’s axes falling rapidly, cleaving flesh and almost removing the head of one foul beast in a single blow, Gaius and myself were free to finish the creature that had dropped onto us. Gaius was doing his best to keep the thing away from us with his spear, but his usual skill was lacking as he repeatedly winced in pain from his previous injuries but still he bravely soldiered on; giving it two targets to attack and weapons to dodge made my blows all the more telling.

As we hacked again and again I could see Drona doing the bravest thing I can ever recall seeing him do; up until that point anyway. I don’t include his tampering with daemonic forces and opening gateways for other creatures to join us in this world, he does that willingly and will get admiration from me for his skill but not the bravery involved. No, it was watching him pull his own sword out and start to attack the beasts that surprised me. Maybe he knew that Gaius was too badly hurt to jump to his rescue, or maybe he was afraid that if he left Stalland to fight all three alone than the Whitelander must surely die, making his leaving the fight good for nothing but postponing his inevitable end. He stood and fought one of the creatures as Stalland hacked and slashed into the other two, and although his blows mostly missed or drew little blood from the beast, it was kept busy.

It was always at him, raking with its claws or biting down with its powerful jaws, breaking through the fine Dromish  armour again and again until it was too much for the desert-man and his sword slipped from his grip; no doubt lubricated with his own blood that was flowing freely now from several large wounds under his armour. At that he turned his back to flee and was rewarded by the creature with another pounce onto his back, driving him once more to the hard stone floor. By this point Stalland had all but dealt with each of the daemons that had been harrying him; neither had landed a blow as the well built northerner was able to avoid the worst of their attacks and keep the rest at bay with his sword. I had also inflicted a deadly wound on the creature that had attacked me and had left Gaius to keep it at bay with his spear as it slowly bled to death and I ran into the room hoping to find Drona still breathing.
Two of them were so badly hurt that it took but a few more swings of axe or sword from me and my Brother until we were close enough to Drona to see his chest still moving. The last daemon was quick to size up the odds and made its way quickly into the shadows of the roof; not before another arrow was loosed by Red into its flesh and my sword opened up another wound in its side. Sadly these did little to slow it down and in a second it had vanished from sight. As Drona would explain later, it was almost certainly returning to it master. Those kinds of beast were summoned as guards and since it had escaped my concern would grow over the coming hours how much it could communicate to its summoner about us who had killed its kin.

But that would be to come, for now we had a damned good reason for risking all once more in that accursed tower; the object that could help bind Grytharnak once more and the runes that would be used to hold him in place. Once Drona had cleaned his wounds off he began copying the strange engravings round the door frame that I had disturbed when we had stolen into this room several nights previous, but as to the statue, there was no sign. The needle could not narrow it down and although we searched for a long time, Gaius even thrusting his head up the chimney in a vain hope, it was not to be found.

Whilst Drona completed his work with Gaius on lookout the rest of us took to exploring the corridors of the tower. Knowing what certain familiars are like for collecting any shiny things they come across we hoped to find some coin to make the trip worthwhile. There was immediate disappointment as Stalland retuned first with naught but a pet’s collar and matching skull. Red was luckier however with a handful of pearls in her haul. The Fates seemed to be smiling on me though as I found not only a fetching silver necklace with a blue stone pendant, but also a brace of gold rings and a very fine silver dagger. With the horns ripped from the three creatures we had killed we also had a chance of selling them off as drinking horns, or maybe just keeping them as trophies for ourselves.

With all that out of the way it was a simple job to get ourselves down the tower as we had left the rope hooked onto the walkway. Even though we were now sure that statue was not to be found in the tower, we had all escaped once more with our lives so it was with a light step that we made our way first to the Skrite to clean ourselves up and then to plan our next move. Of the upmost importance was our meeting with Miss Greywater. She was still in hiding and could have more information that would lead us the hand that guided Grytharnak and – with any luck – from there to Solange. The only other person in the city who know of her location was our friend Magg and since he was usually to be found in the Barge, it was to there that Red and myself went; Red due to her closeness to Magg and myself to do the talking on business matters.

Stalland had his own concerns as Kora had yet to wake from the injuries she had sustained during the attack on the bazaar, and Gaius and Drona also had other matters to attend to that may have helped us in our venture. The Barge was a little more rowdy than usual when we entered and it was soon clear why; a large pack of barely sober Whitelanders were singing victory songs and Magg could just about be seen when the tide of humanity shifted enough for his smaller frame to be seen amongst the giants. Knowing how hard it would be to get his attention in that throng I did what I could and with a mighty bellow of, ‘KRAKENS!!!!’ the team looked to me and joined in the cheering as I paid for a round for the victorious Velochi players.

This gave Magg the gap in the crowd that was needed and Red and I took advantage of this to sweep him away to his private room to arrange the meeting for as soon as possible. He looked more than a little worried at the state of Red, covered in the ichor like blood of the creatures we had slain, but was easily calmed down and was quick to offer to arrange the meeting for as early on the following day as he could. We once again used Stalland’s pet as a contact name hoping that of the message was intercepted it would draw nobody’s attention. With all that could be done sorted and out of the way we returned to Nensia’s for a good night’s sleep and the hope that come the morning the world may be a little kinder.

The message to Hengist arrived shortly after we had sat for breakfast and it was just the news we needed to hear; Tessa was happy to meet with us to discuss events in the city that had affected us all. The details of the conversation were not of great value here, but suffice it to say she seemed very happy with our work thus far and I think it would be safe to say we went some way towards making an ally within the Koryph. The most important detail that came out of our meeting was that she wanted – maybe needed – to come out of hiding. Her plan was for something noteworthy that would attract the attention of the puppet master behind all these schemes and force him to reveal his hand. As Stalland rightly pointed out, this did seem awfully familiar to our ears. But if it went off as smoothly as our last attempt at this plan, we would all be fine. That just left the finer details to hammer out. Where the hell would we do this and how would we make it seem like it wasn’t a trap?
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Re: Lucius Corvinus Draco
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2010, 08:53:15 PM »
For all the action that happened during that period of my life, the times we spent talking seem to occupy a far greater part of my memory, even if I can’t always remember what the topics of conversation are. Before another night of hell we were just relaxing in the Barge, s were want to do, Magg finally revealed his big surprise – a sodding ship if you believe it – and the talk had turned to travel. He had named the ship The Lady Red, in a pretty effective bit of arse-kissery, and it was obvious that he was hoping to whisk our archer away to safety and some privacy at some point, but we were fucked if we were going to make it easy for him. I think it was Stalland who first mentioned that he might like to get his sea legs back at some point, and after that we all joined in. Drona talking about shipping trade and what he would take, and I put my half a hammer in talking about how much I would love to see Raphelia at some point but would need a bit more practice on board. Magg kept his cool pretty well, damn near managed to make it sound like it was plan all along to have us tag along, and not just to get Red to himself.

Sadly we couldn’t keep on tormenting his as Piala put in an appearance and we needed to look sociable; at that point we still had no idea what to make of her, but young Nik was going to try and fill us in later on. Enough of that for now though. The blonde did seem in good spirits and had obviously survived her ordeal at the bazaar without too many ill effects. I think that she even managed to organize some archers to defend herself, but at the time I hadn’t found that out yet. The resources that woman could call was just another thing that made me suspicious of her. Sadly even her company was not to be enjoyed for long, as events were transpiring in other parts of the bar.

Earlier in the evening there had been a bit of a commotion outside as some well to do bugger had made his appearance. A daemon of some type, but you would have to ask Drona which one. He did tell me at the time, but buggered if I can remember. One very much like him dealt in the top end narcotics as the hasherhi house were in right back at the start of this tale, but I still couldn’t tell you what they were called. I had popped out and slaked the thirst of his palanquin bearers with some cheap grog and found out that their boss’s name was Melchisidek and he was a big knowledgeable guy who knew a hell of a lot about the pox ridden nation I was born in. Probably there to offer some advice as one of Sagneth’s people – I think it may even have been his mistress – was there talking to him along with Pio, and he was one of the Tremallu leading the fight against Grytharnak. Her name was Afzaneh and she turned out to be a hell of a help to whatever crazy shit Drona was going to try.

Once their little chat was out the way, it was our turn to talk with the big scary Tremallu, so I made sure Magg could get Piala away for a few minutes to give us some piece, and then beckoned them over. The rest of the conversation got bogged down by the talkative little Dummoni but for a long time I wasn’t even sure what he was on about and how the fuck it was relevant. He started by harping on about someone spreading rumours that there was something between him and Piala and that we may have poured that information in Tess’s direction whilst talking to her about the eighth guild. Why on earth he thought we would waste time talking about him when there was a hot as hell Bajo in front of us is beyond me, but even after that he drifted the conversation all over the place. Turns out they had their own reasons for thinking that Piala may be up to such and the cocky twat had gone and got himself captured while investigating her ship. I’m fairly sure that there was some daring escape story mixed in with what he was babbling about, but all I can remember is that he said some tall woman cut him free. I tell you, that all just sounded a bit off to me, and hindsight hasn’t made it any clearer.
The crux of it was a sharing of information, and on most of our part’s it was all relevant; stuff tying the Red Sons into what was going on and sorting out what the next course of action was. For the most part that would be a lot of questions of being asked and hopefully getting some answers. Whilst all that was going on I also took Pio away for a brief conversation, and caught up with Magg to discuss a little business proposition, but I’ll get back to those later.

Once we were all sat round the table again, sorting out the best places for messages to be left, arranging fake names and damned near plotting the overthrow of some very powerful people who seemed to have had us made as enemies, that the big fucker Hett’Gavaar showed his ugly face. Just in time tow for a couple of reasons; one, we were some damned big plans for a bunch of conmen and thieves, and two, the green cloaks were on their way. A bunch of bastards who were little more than a private army controlled by one the buggers who was trying to bring us down and they were on their way to the Barge to put any Lethain they could find in shackles. They weren’t going to find us though as the warning gave us plenty of time to slip out the back with Hett’Gavaar and even offer him the opportunity to lend a hand to saving the city instead of just roughing up drunks like he usually did. Skafe wasn’t so lucky if I remember correctly and he spent at least a night in the cells.

Our night was to go a hell of a lot worse than his though, as we rounded the corner after taking the long way round to Nensia’s and saw none of the lights on and the doors closed. My first thought was that the green cloaks had come calling here first for us and shut the place down, but there should still have been someone there; Nensia wouldn’t leave unless she had to. We quickly made our way round the back and in a few minutes Red and I were up the wall and pushing a window through, hoping to sneak in, in case there was anyone still waiting for us. It turned out there was something waiting for us, but it was no human and it wasn’t alone. I think there were at least four of the bloody things that had almost made minced meat of Drona in the tower, and they were in our home. With a quick signal to Red to get Stalland to take the back door and lend a hand I made my way down the stairs following the sound of splintering wood and the creatures that had gone down to deal with the interloper.

In the dark, I didn’t see much of the fight, but I knew that next to me Red was already in bad shape and couldn’t take too many more savage blows from these things so I did my best to keep the thing that was blocking the stairs paying close attention to me. With my cloak unfurled so I looked a bit bigger and with a war cry and slashing blades I went at it, doing little damage but making sure its attention was on me so that Red could swing with her own blades and pierce its thick hide again and again. The bloody thing wasn’t stupid though and eventually realised that I was more of an annoyance so was about to turn its anger back onto Red. Knowing that one hard bite could have been the end of her I changed tactic and with wild blows my knife I forced it to dodge its head erratically and when it lifted its jaw I drove my sword into its throat, and then when I forced its maw down I drove in again, this time into its eye until eventually it stopped moving.

While all that was happening the others had dealt with creatures of their own, by axe or banishment until we had some quite to examine our home. What we found was a charnel house, much worse than the first time we stepped through these doors and found all manner of horror. It was a dead house; blood and organs slung about like so much offal. The only reason we were able to determine who had passed was when we found three survivors, Rebecca, Jasetta and the young lad who had helped us on our last con. They told us that everyone else had been ripped apart but Nensia, but they had no idea where she had been taken.

Our rooms had been ransacked by human hands so it was clear these beasts had not come alone. It was also totally clear now that they were guided by a hand involved in all this and that were known to them. If the one that had escaped from us at the tower had got any message back to its master, they had known who we were and where to begin looking for us. There was little else we could do that night other than gather our things and regroup at the Silver Skrite. But a quiet night of contemplation was not to be had.

We soon met Nik and Pio again to find out that the Barge was all but closed and we would need to find new places to leave messages that wouldn’t be watched so much. It was also decided that before we slept, Drona should be accompanied by Gaius and I for another trip to the tower. All I could think was that there had better not be any of those bastards waiting there for us. There was but three of us and I was the only one even close to being fully fighting fit.
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Re: Lucius Corvinus Draco
« Reply #33 on: July 29, 2010, 04:06:41 PM »
Knowing the city as well as I did, and all the best places to hide it took me only a few minutes to find a safe house that would keep us out of trouble for the night. It wasn’t the nicest place any of us had stayed, but in my time in the Umbruc, I had had to sleep in rougher circumstances. At least with my crew around we could take watches and the main entrance had a solid lock for which I had the key.
Once everything was stowed away we had other business though, and with time running out, there was no way we could do it as one group. It had already been decided that another trip to the tower was on the cards for Drona, Gaius and I, with Red and Stalland off to find any allies they could in the coming fight. Knowing that Hett Gavaar was a decent man, they were going to see if he could be persuaded to lend a hand. After another long and frustrating conversation with Nik it also made sense to come clean to Piala and see if she and her men could be enlisted; if they hadn’t already joined the fight. When we met up later that evening, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hett was in fact willing to pitch in with as many of his men he could trust to act with regards to city instead of whoever had the most coin on offer. Piala was a different story, and the look on Red’s face said it all; she felt let down that we Red had kept information from her and had pretended to be her friend. Although that meant we may not have been able to rely on her help, we did find out that she was on the same side as us and may still be useful as she had details of the ritual that would be used to bind Grytharnak.

Of course, before that Drona needed once more to gain access to the tower to get copies of the runes that would be necessary to keep the horror in place. The three of us made our way as close as we could to the tower by water craft, but had a little bit further to go on foot and the last bargeman was intractable in his desire to move away and could not be convinced to stay and wait for us. On foot we made our way as silently as armour would allow close to the square that surrounded the tower only to find it was under observation by a hooded figure. Knowing that we had enemies many and varied, I was quick to offer my services to move quietly round the square until I was behind him and able to place a blade at his throat and find out his intentions. Drona was almost as quick to offer a solution that involved one of his pets.

The beast that could take over men’s minds was to creep through the darkness and control the figure, instructing him to walk towards us and tell us his intentions. As this would mean no danger to me I was easily convinced but my certainty drained away as the creature drifted across the square. I could clearly see it move through the darkness, almost glowing as it was compared to the darkness that surrounded it. There was nothing I could do by then but watch as the figure responded with an artifact held high that sent the Wight straight back to Drona, giving him all the chance he needed to see exactly where we were concealed. With all stealth lost to us I quickly took up my sword and made to cover as much distance between us as possible, but he had received all the warning he needed and in seconds his strung bow was in his hands and an arrow was knocked, its unwavering tip pointed straight at me.

Knowing Gaius was following and that one arrow from a Dummoni bow could end him I slowed myself down and did my best to find out what I could about the bowman. After several exchanges in our broken Pyraxian the best I could figure was that he was waiting for someone and wanted no trouble from us. He was quick enough to take his leave when an arrow or two would surely have felled Gaius and maybe even Drona, but once he had left we had little option but to scale the tower and make our way in. Once more a Daemon was employed to carry the rope and grapple to the walkway so that we could ascend but it was Drona’s next offer of using his art that pushed me too far. Looking up to the tower he saw a small glowing creature if a type he had mentioned to me before that would be useful for moving around the darkness, and I had agreed with him. As we waited for the rope to be secured though, he looked up at the creature and with powerful sounding words bound it to him. I had warned him in the past that that would be the final straw between us and that I would kill him where he stood if I knew he was denying any creature their freedom by binding them against city charter. My fingers tightened round the hilt of my sword, but knowing we still had a use for him I let it go.

Once we were safely on the walkway, I took my position to watch in case the bowman was returning with friends, but Drona suggested that another of his creatures could be used as watchman. I need to describe this to you so you will understand my reaction; it was a long worm-like creature with a single eye on the end of a stalk and no mouth. No. Fucking. Mouth. This creature – I think he had named it Carpitel – had shown barley a base animal intelligence and he was willing to trust our lives to it. He was damned lucky I only swore at him twice for his idiocy, then insisted that I take watch and sent the two of them in, hoping that Gaius was fit enough to at least call for help if it was needed. Looking out on the city I started to cut away my lank hair with my knife, I had been spotted by an enemy and wanted to look different enough that a casual glance wouldn’t give me away. It was whilst I was thus occupied that my eyes were drawn away from the alleys I was scouring to a glow of light and rising smoke from light-side.

My first thought was that it was coming from the Lethane territory, maybe even the Barge & Ferryman, but then I caught sight of familiar landmarks and realised that the smoke was rising from an Iddimu; from one that pointless rumour had condemned to flame only hours earlier in the Silver Skrite as a panicked woman fanned the fires of suspicion with a story of child snatching. I really can’t help but wonder, looking back, if it was just a coincidence or whether that woman was in my line of work and had done her job well. There was nothing to be done about it from my vantage point however, so I turned my attention once more to the threat of attack from the streets and alleys leading onto the square while I cut my hair as short as the knife would allow.

Luckily nothing had sprung from the shadows before the two of them returned from within the tower and we made our way with as much haste as we could muster, injured as our party was, until we made it back to the safe house, getting there a matter of minutes before Red and Stalland, and swapping news. Hoping for one good night’s sleep before we had to make our play, we quickly ran through the short list of possible allies before taking watches and bedding down for the night.

It was during my watch that I realised that once more we would be disturbed from our sleep as a smallish sized creature made its way over the wall and started to scuttle towards Drona. In the darkness and still not totally rested, all I could surmise was that it was Boo, returned with Solange’s whereabouts so I walked over to his sleeping figure and prodded him awake with my boot, a lot more gently than I would have liked given my attitude towards him at that time. It was then that the beast moved into a small pool of light and began to crawl up Drona’s chest as he stirred. It was not Boo; this was an insect like creature with dangerous looking mandibles and as His eyes flicked open and he looked panicked, my sword was in my hand and the creature lifted itself up on the its rear legs as if to strike. I’m not sure what held my hand back from its strike; maybe a desire to see Drona hurt after his transgressions – but whatever it was, it was a good thing. The creature spoke; in a voice I have trouble describing. It reminded me somewhat of the lady who was directing her message to Drona, a Daemonologist named Afzaneh, but I can’t help but remember it as being somewhat inhuman, as if the voice was coming from the creature, just reciting what it had been told, like a jungle bird trying to mimic a human voice.

The message was urgent and had us all roused in moments, strapping armour back onto weary bodies with tired hands, rubbing sleep from our eyes and ignoring the hunger that was affecting us all after too long since our last good meal. The Green Cloaks were moving tonight, and their target was the tower; they were going to raze it to the ground and thus remove any chance of trapping Grytharnak there once more. If we could make our way to the tower and complete the ritual before then, binding it to an item like the jug we had been searching for, we could then remove ourselves from the tower and know that the city was safe for the moment from the horror. We had limited options when it came to an object to bind it in, but we Stalland remembered something that would fit the bill, so we quickly assessed what help we could call on and wrote what messages we could, leaving them in places that their recipients would find them; to Magg, hoping that his Krakens could lend a hand if needed; to Hett, he had already offered his help so it was time to call it in; to Alsune, she had some skilled fighters in the Umbruc and we would need what help we could get; and then Stalland and I took a hell of a risk by walking back into the Barge.

We went in the back way and convinced a serving girl to give us the cover we would need to make our way to Wedlan and ask him for a favour that we almost certainly couldn’t agree to. Stalland had, some time ago, told us a tale of one of his countrymen who had, along with two others done great deeds in the time of the trembling flame. Only one of them had survived, and that was Bronwyn, the Druidess that had taken care of our wounds and those of Kora after the market. She and the Northman, Amaruq, were husband and wife before he died and she was now the owner of a victory cup that adorned the walls of the Barge & Ferrymen; the Skull of a might Ursa, carved out and decorated with fine metals and precious stones. It was something that may be used to contain the otherworldly form of Grytharnak and all that was needed was permission to use it as such. As suspected though, Wedlan was unable to offer it us as it was not his property, and we had too much respect for Wedlan, Bronwyn and the father of her child to take it by any other means. Luckily, Stalland had another idea about where to find the Druidess so we quickly took our leave and made for the other side of the city.

Bronwyn was where we expected to find her and after we told her of our predicament she offered to retrieve the cup for us and bring it as quickly as she was able to the tower where we would use it to bind the horror. There was little else we could do at that point in the way of preparing, so we made the final leg of the journey through the pre-dawn streets until we saw the tower through the tangle of roof tops and crept forward slowly, hoping to avoid any other figures who may still be watching the tower. It was a good job we were going slowly too, as when we got closer I heard an unmistakable sound, as it was one that we had made only an hour previous; the clink of metal and the soft creak of leather that accompanied strapping on armour and loosening weapons in sheaths.

Ahead of us was a group of some twenty soldiers, and it didn’t take much to spot them as the professionals they were. I could see no further and we had no idea of this group was alone, so we decided to move further round, hoping for a way to the tower not blocked by soldiers. This took a while longer than we thought, and it was only the sharp hearing of our group that stopped us blundering straight into armed professionals, but eventually our luck changed. It was the smell that gave it away first, even before I realised that this alley was quieter than the others. It was the tangy, metal smell of blood, and it was fresh. Looking down the alley we saw a small group of armoured men, but these were not like the soldiers we had seen previously, they were carrying Dummoni long bows and the bodies at their feet had broken arrow shafts protruding from leather armour. The conversation that followed was in a language I can just about recognise but can’t speak, so it was Stalland who figured who they were and what they were doing here.

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Captain Shortworth

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Re: Lucius Corvinus Draco
« Reply #34 on: July 29, 2010, 04:06:53 PM »
Turns out they were here for the same reason as us, and were waiting for the moment when all the small groups of fighters would throw themselves through the screen of watchmen that could now be seen guarding the tower in the hope that Piala would be able to get through and into the room that held Grytharnak to bind him once more. From the alley mouth we could see between one and two hundred armed soldiers, mainly green cloaks, but also several members of the Golden Claw and more than a few groups of professional soldiers. I could clearly see that what they proposed was a suicide run, and looking at the faces of my crew, they all knew it too. The leads bowman made no bones about it though, he and his men knew that they would almost certainly die in the attack, but knew that it was necessary to ensure Piala had the best chance possible of binding the horror. There seemed no option to us at that point but to join them and hope to meet Piala inside to marry our forces, both in defending the ritual until it was complete and taking part in it when required.

Sadly our detour away from the soldiers guarding the way to the tower meant we were far from the way in at ground level, and with the equipment needed to complete the ritual filling a decent sized chest there was no way we were going to make our way in the way we usually would. Luckily, I still had my lock picks handy and knew that the door would give in to me if I had the chance to look at them without being disturbed. With a path worked out and a goal in mind, all we could do was wait for the signal and hope for the best. Contrary to my training, I have never been in a large scale battle, fighting only skirmish actions or training drills; the most I had fought before being during the trembling flame, so I was nervous and unprepared for the wait. Stalland and Gaius looked cool as ice, checking each weapon and strap once to be sure than standing ready. Red, Drona and I were less able to maintain a physical and mental stillness and the seconds seemed to drag on for hours until we made our first desperate charge.

I made the first mistake, thinking too much like a criminal and forgetting everything I had been taught while behind a shield and almost charged us full on into the command line, something that would have been easily seen by the commanding officer and countered with lethal force ending all of our planning then and there. Gaius again proved his worth as a soldier though and with barked commands – some in garbled Pelosian – he had us moving on a different path, avoiding thick knots of conflict, moving to areas thinned by arrow fire, only moving us from this when an opportunity to kill an officer presented itself. It was an order to red that slowed is down but for a moment as the shout of, ‘burn that fucker down’ was accompanied with a pointed spear at a well armoured soldier. I think the second of hesitation was too long though, and although flame sprang from Red’s hands, hitting the captain high in the chest, he would not fall, shouting out orders from between bloody lips as he sank to his knees, half his face a reck with the eyeball burst and running down his cheek. He would not survive the night; that much was certain, and his men would have been shaken to see him so badly injured, but he was still able to bring men to him to prevent a similar threat so away we moved, closer and closer to the back door.

Stalland was first to reach the wooden portal and threw himself bodily into it, hoping to avoid the wait whilst I picked the lock, but the oak proved too sturdy even for his large frame so I quickly went to work while Gaius stood over me, his shield up to protect me from any unseen danger. As I began the job of opening the door, the others saw Piala and her men, sadly bogged down by soldiers, the few arrows reaching them not enough to thin their numbers sufficiently to allow Piala threw to the door. With more quick commands from Drona the crew split, some moving off to ensure Piala could get to the door, and the others making sure I had the chance to open the door. Within seconds I felt the metal give way and tumblers slide as I pushed the door open, hurrying Drona inside and moving to rejoin the fight, still fresh after only taking a small gash to my left leg in the fight so far. Gaius was having none of it though, and ordered me to go with Drona, even though he was on his last leg. I wish I had argued with him, knowing now that I was in a much better state to get the others free of the fight and into the tower, but his commands had been perfect so far and at the time it never even occurred to me that I had any choice but to do as he said.

Dragging the chest as we went it took only one wrong turn until we found the room and Drona set to, lighting braziers and such, whilst I ran back down to make sure everyone found us without getting lost as we had done. With Red’s help the doors were secured against entry in case any soldiers spotted our entrance and decided to follow. I jammed the locks as well as I could whilst Red spiked the doors, using three iron spikes per door until we were sure it would hold, moving from door to door until we ran out of spikes. As we charged up the rest of the stairs we could here raised voices as discussions were made about the ritual, and it seemed as if Piala was having the best of it, reprimanding Drona for his lack of knowledge, not only on the ritual, but his base understanding of the art he practiced. The rest of us moved quickly to any other access point, standing guard and blocking the way as best we could, hearing the continuing sounds of the battle raging below.

Sad to say, I missed most of the rest of it, having details filled in after the fact, or piecing together what I heard and what I half remember catching in the corner of my eye as I fought to keep the room free of interference. I know the ritual began as we had expected it, and moments later an inky blackness sadly now familiar to us all filled the room. I remember the sound of many paws moving quickly towards us as more Hormites moved to defend their master, as Gaius held his door, Red loosed arrow after arrow into any she could, Stalland took the head form the first with his two handed white axe before using it to chop at the staircase, hoping to stop any others from using to attack us. I was busy as another slashed away at the wooden door I had closed in its path, its claws tearing through the thick aged wood like shears through soft leather. My sword thrust again and again into it, opening wounds on its forepaws and face, removing an eye, and when it pushed its upper body through I pinned it with my shield and continued to stab for all I was worth.

It was being thus occupied that I missed what was happening behind me, Gaius had shouted something to red, something I never heard, something he had gleamed from his relationship with Uma, something that none of us would understand. I have no idea if Red was crying when she realised what she would have to do, I would not be surprised if the tears were flowing as she did it, and I know it took hours for the tears to stop. She lowered her bow and looked at Piala who stood almost immobile staring into the blackness that was so complete that only the writhing tentacles of the horror made it like anything other than nothingness. She stepped over and took her friend by the hand, knuckles whitening as she gripped hard before flames started to lick around her fingers, then up Piala's arm, almost circling her chest. Red Kept a firm hold on her friend who continued to stare blankly into the blackness as the flames worked higher and hotter, blistering and cooking her skin as tentacles crept closer to her from the nothingness until with a shriek of agony she fell, red's grip stopping her from tumbling into the ground as Grytharnak skrank back, taking his shadow with him.

It was only when I realised that the creature was now struggling to get away from the room and my sword instead of past me that I thought something had changed. I quickly despatched the creature and turned to the room. Piala was on the floor, her skin cracked and blackened, white pus mixed with dark red blood oozing from what seemed a hundred wounds. Red was over her, and everyone could see her tears, could hear her cries even above the battle below and the crashing of wooden staircase as it fell from its mountings. Gods only know how long we could have stayed like that, but there were more pressing concerns. I ran to Drona to make sure he had done what needed to be done and he motioned to the cup which I returned to him as he weakly spoke, telling me that the horror was contained, his words slow and sluggish.

Next I checked on Gaius, he had been injured before the fight and I needed to know he could survive the way out. He looked to be in as fine a form as I could have hoped so we quickly followed and dealt with the Hormite that had been trying to break past him. From that vantage point on the walkway we had climbed on various occasions we could see the fight below and we both knew that time was running out if we ever wanted to get out alive. Piala’s men were thinned out to the point that the soldiers were re-grouping almost at their leisure. It was only spirited help from the Golden Claws still loyal to Hett, members of the Canard Krakens and small pockets of Lethane men firing sling shot at them that would give us any chance to escape.

Stalland was quick to move knowing the threats we faced and he helped to lift Piala so we could move her down the rope. I was amazed she was still alive and wondered at her chance of survival if we moved her, but one look at Red’s tears lined face told me even suggestion leaving her would see me at the receiving end of even more fire than Piala had endured. Looking out over the square I shouted to any out there who fought on our side to cover us and we lowered the rope down. One of Piala’s men was told to stay behind to increase our chance of escape by covering us with his bow, even though he had only six arrows left. Looking quickly about I grabbed what arrows that Red and Drona had left and gave them to that brave soul, asking Stalland to pass on my best wishes for his time in the next world before we ran for it.

We all made it too, even Piala. She was taken to the Nostrum for healing once we were free of the square, even though her men wanted her with them; Stalland knew just what to say though and we got her onto a barge. I can’t say as to how many others died so we could get out. I know that a blast of heart’s fire did for many of my brothers in the Umbruc as it tore out a large chunk of the buildings they were hiding in. The Krakens were hurt that’s for sure, but they were hardy lads and were back to losing at Velochi by the next Mune. The Golden claws had a hell of a time of it, with Hett placed under arrest and all his cartel, plus the green cloaks, under investigation.

Grytharnak was locked firmly away in the jug, Piala had it with her when she arrived at the tower, which is damned useful since there was no way that Bronwyn could have gotten an Ursa skull through the lines to her. We still need a secure place to hide it so that Drona can surround it with the most potent runes he knows, but the battle against the horror took him days to recover from. There were loose ends after that sure enough, we even started planning our next job, but the hunt for Solange was still on and Grigor was still out there, so it was while before everything went back to normal. I’ll tell you the rest later.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2010, 01:20:02 PM by shorty_monster »
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