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 Blood for Blood, rated M for violence and whatever else
Posted: Jul 14 2012, 04:19 PM

Advanced Member

Group: Moderator
Posts: 166
Member No.: 3
Joined: 9-June 12

Blood for Blood
For what has been taken;
for what must be paid.

The night air was thick and still after a long, humid day. All he could see to either side of the road were the rows of crops across flat fields. A night like that should have been peaceful, but his eyes darted one way and then the other, trying to make out what lurked in the deeper shadows, waiting to catch a hint of danger. The moon gave him little to see by, and the small patches of light that spilled from hearths and out of farmhouse windows were hardly more helpful. Everything was cloaked in dark and uncertainty, and, still and serene as it looked, he was at ill ease as he made his way down the road.

The source of the man’s discomfort was not entirely clear even to him, except for a feeling deep in his gut that told him something was wrong—a feeling he had learned to trust long ago. It was just beyond the realm of the definable, a nagging urge to check over his shoulder and the expectation of finding something there, ready to strike. Every so often he would give into it, look back, and every time there was the sense that just before he did, some monstrous shape had fused itself back into the shadows. But he couldn’t be sure if something truly haunted the night, or it was just a trick of the mind brought on by other concerns. This place had troubles rooted in its day to day reality, and needed none from the realm beyond to unsettle him.

This was not what he had expected to find, upon his return to his ancestral lands. What he’d expected was turmoil, barely contained discontent. He certainly hadn’t expected this; a dangerous stillness, the kind that comes before the eruption. It was the kind of peace held in place only by the fear of the inevitable action, the last vestiges of an unwillingness to cause bloodshed. But it would come, and soon—and he would be caught in it if he was not gone fast enough.

Coming back, he knew, was a risk in itself. But he had reasoned that there were only a few who would recognize him, and the peasants whose homes he was passing now wouldn’t have known him from any other stranger. In dress and colouring he looked a foreigner, his hair was too light and worn too long, the cut of his coat closer to the knee than the hip, and the cloth of his cloak was too thick for the climate. The sword on his hip might have drawn odd looks a few years previous, but it was no longer strange to see travelers armed; one was either a bandit or in need of defence against them. He was beginning to regret that he’d brought only a hunting bow and not something more lethal, but being that heavily weaponed might have succeeded in arousing suspicions. It was planned in part, but not entirely; Edwin had been gone long enough to acquire the look of an authentic outlander, and it was only an inescapable need for answers that brought him back.

If there was anything that would cause him trouble, it was the markings on his face, and those he could do nothing about. Delicate black symbols arced around his left eye and spread over his cheekbone, coiling down the same side of his neck until they disappeared under his coat. Aesthetically, the tattoo wasn’t without beauty, and he only hoped the long, thin lines and curves would be construed as mere decoration. But there was always the chance someone would know, and that was why he’d chosen to travel by night. It was safer to remain unseen for as long as possible, and he had no desire to become the focus for all the unrest that lay around him.

As if to challenge his hope for solitude, a motion his left caught his eye. Edwin tensed, one hand automatically straying to the hilt of his sword, as his pale eyes scanned the dark spaces in between the rows of wheat. Nothing. At least nothing he could see. Even if there was someone or something lurking there, standing still would do him no favours. He kept his hand on the sword’s hilt and kept moving, more wary than before.
Edwin was approaching the town proper, or at least what passed as a town. It was little more than an inn, a public hall, and a few houses clumped together. The open green in the middle of it would have been the centre of its vitality during the day, he assumed, once the market stalls were erected and the wagons of produce carted in. The only thing it had to offer the local people other than a convenient place to trade goods was a solid stonewall, something that would likely become a necessity in the days to follow if his predictions were correct. A militia was rarely as helpful as a good, solid wall and a stockpile of supplies.

Just outside the gates the flicker on the edge of his vision appeared again, and this time he was quick enough to catch it. A woman’s form, barely corporeal, beckoned to the left and then vanished. Edwin hesitated, looking back over at the town. Small as it was, it offered relief from the smothering silence of the night, something other than the never-ending flatness of the land and the low and uninviting farmhouses.


The demand settled into his thoughts like a stranger’s voice in a quiet room. The first time he’d heard the dead, it had been a terrifying experience, but now it felt so natural he hardly noticed just how strange it was.

There will be no welcome for you there. It does not have your answers.

The fact that his thoughts were an open conversation with the deceased was not a part of the bargain that he particularly enjoyed, but it wasn’t as though they had a way to betray them to anyone else. What do you want from me?

I need you to see. You must know. Tell them.

Before he could ask what the ghost wanted him to see, the form flickered into sight again, this time further away. She wouldn’t answer his questions, only lead. Dutifully, he followed, trying not to dwell on the fact he could have been to his destination and back if not for these distractions. No, not distractions—it was part of the pact, and he knew better than to question it now, especially not when what he was planning would rely on the spirits to succeed.

He had no choice but to leave the road if he followed, and each step into the rows of crops made him feel more like he was walking straight into danger. The wavering form slipped in and out of sight, sometimes solid, sometimes vanishing entirely, but he could make out the general direction of her motion without too much trouble. As they went, he tried to work out what she was trying to show him, and though he knew she could tell what he was thinking, Edwin received no confirmation on any theory. It seemed most likely she was leading him to her corpse, that she’d been killed somewhere out in the fields and wanted someone in the city to know where. That was usually the case, the dead party seeking closure for themselves and the living.

They were nearly at the edge of the field, approaching a meagre copse of trees. They stood out in the flatness of the land, even though they were stunted and misshapen. Plated in rows, they looked like a poor attempt to grow an orchard in a place where trees rarely survived. It was into the trees that the ghost led him, and he approached cautiously, wondering if there could be anything hidden behind twisted shapes of the trunks.

The ghost hovered in the centre, more fully formed than before. He could feel her watching him, waiting for something.

I don’t understand

They will come.

Before he could enquire what, there was a scratching noise that he couldn’t place as coming from anywhere but beneath his feet. Edwin stepped backwards, watching in disbelief as the surface on the ground crumbled, and bones rose up as though they were rapidly sprouting plants. He realized after the initial shock that they weren’t just bones, but pieces of something larger—creatures made from cobbled together carcasses. The one closest to him was almost fully freed from the ground, and he recognized a human ribcage with a deer’s skull connected to it by mismatched vertebrae.

Tell them. The dead come.

With that, the spirit was gone. He felt her presence vanish, leaving him alone with what a quick count put at ten of the abominations. Struggling to drop his pack so he could fight without it encumbering him, Edwin wondered just how useful steel would be against them. And he doubted very much he could take them alone.

Making a flat-out sprint for the road—though he didn’t recall any other travelers—he found enough spare breath to start yelling at the top of his lungs, hoping to rouse anyone within earshot.

“To arms! Defend your town!” Anything else he could think of that might get people out of their beds. “We’re under attack!”

He could hear them thrashing through the field behind him, gaining ground despite his best efforts. There wouldn’t be time to make it within the walls before they caught up, but if he could at least get to the road, he’d be able to see them coming more clearly and he’d have a better chance of surviving until help came. If help came. Best not to think about that.

He burst out of the field and onto the road with the creatures on his heels, still yelling at the top of his lungs, but beginning to feel and sound short of breath. This was it, time to make his stand. Edwin pulled his sword and turned to see the whole pack of them, misshapen forms made from the bones of humans and large animals, running on two legs or four.

There is only the blade. There is only the fight. The familiar mantra calmed him, and he met the impossible odds with a look of quiet determination. Death was not be feared, only what awaited when one couldn’t—or didn’t—cross. Distantly, he still hoped that someone had heard him, still hoped that this fight would not be his last; hoped that the villagers knew what these things were and would be ready to fight them off. But hope was something he knew better than to count on.

The deer-skulled creature lunged at him, jaw open wide to reveal a carnivore’s teeth. Edwin raised his blade to meet it, and the fight began in earnest.

{[Please direct all questions to the OoC thread
Posted: Jul 20 2012, 03:14 AM

Advanced Member

Group: Members
Posts: 113
Member No.: 35
Joined: 2-July 12

“Enim- Deus-Enim- Priores-Enim-Spiritus.”

The words carried through the thick night air on a whisper, spreading out into the flat open lands and fields that spread out from the town wall.

Xephaek sat still as he chanted, letting the darkness cloak him. His voice was soft, the whisper broken only by a gravelly tone in his throat. The words themselves were foreign and unfamiliar to those not familiar with his homeland, which would be all the heathens of this land. He kept his voice low only to ensure that his words would not carry pass the walls to the village the slept within.

He pushed his cloak back, away from his arms, shifting to lay his hands against his legs. He wore a simple tunic but the material it was made from was not natural. The cloth itself was a token of his homeland, smooth and tinted with grey though it had been dyed a dark oaken green to subdue the color. His sleeves extended all the way to his wrists where dark leather gloves protruded from underneath, matching the color of a leather jerkin he wore over the shirt. His pants were made of the same cloth from his homeland, but had been dyed black.

His legs were curled underneath him on the bare earth. He sat with a straight back, his chin parallel to the ground and his face veiled by shadow. His hood was up and pulled forward, far in front of his face, keeping even the eyes of the stars above from prying.

He lifted his arms, pulling back his sleeves as he continued his chant. He then placed his arms back down on his legs. Little of the flesh of his forearms still retained its natural color. Black and blood red curves had been dyed across his skin, weaving in a mirrored design that centered around an orb in the middle of his forearm.

He repeated the chant three more times and then leaned forward toward a small alter he had erected in front of him. He had arrange small stone pebbles into a pile, carefully balancing a candle on the top and setting some odd bits of weeds and jewelry at the side. He reached forward and picked up two small rocks from the base of the alter.

“Flatus ignis vita,” he chanted, striking the two rocks together.

The rocks sparked and the wick of the candle burned instantly. He lowered the rocks and put them back at the base of the alter, chanting a few more words as he watched the wax from the candle slowly transform – softening first and then slowly bending before turning into a pale clear liquid.

The warm glow of the fire reflected across the irises of his eyes as the flame of the candled flickered, responding to his words as though an invisible wind were buffeted the flame. He reached forward, lifting a thin leaf with one hand.

"Ichea ignis," He chanted, and he lowered the leaf toward the flame.

The tip of the leaf flared, releasing a prominent, putrid stench of rotted flesh. He twisted the leaf around, watching as the fire ate away at the waxy cuticle and burned the living tissue underneath.

“Kamea… Karsona,” The man whispered.

He lowered the leaf to the edge of the candle where a pool of melted wax had settled and dipped the leaf inside, snuffing out the flame. The stench lingered in the air.

“Auma-Audi…” He chanted.

He let go of the leaf and watched as the wax encased it and hardened. He pulled off the glove of his left hand, setting it aside as he began to chant again, holding his bare hand out over the alter. He turned his eyes skyward, looking toward the heavens as he called to the Gods above.

“Ego, Xephaek…” He began, reaching with his right hand to free a dagger from his side.

“…Dico protinus dues…”

He lowered his eyes as he continued to chant, eyes again reflecting the light of the flame as he moved to put the edge of the blade inside its heart. He kept his other hand above the alter, the heat drifting up against his skin.

He continued chanting, “Cum cruor per mei maiores…”

The edge of the knife fed on the flame, glowing as it swallowed the heat. The flame jumped from the candle, licking the knife and swallowing the blade whole.

“…increpito Arwan…” He said, his voice dropping to a whisper.

He moved the blade toward his free hand, casting his eyes upward again.

“…pro mei ultio ultionis…”

He drew the blade across his palm, wincing as his skin split. Red boiled out across his skin, wrapping around his hand and dripping onto the flame beneath. The flame sputtered for a few seconds and then flared hungrily, lapping up the drops of blood as Xephaek continued to stare up at the sky.

He closed his hand in a fist and twisted his wrist around, pointing his palm downward. The blood ran through his fingers, the flames rising to lick the edge of his hand. Beneath it the wax of the candle was turning to liquid as the heat washed over it, the flame no longer feeding off the wick alone. The heat radiated through his arm, the smell of his own flesh as it started to burn filling the air. But Xephaek did not lower his eyes.

“Ankou mei—“ He began again, when a call sudden interrupted him.

“To arms! Defend your town! We’re under attack!”

Xephaek looked down sharply.

The flame sputtered and died, leaving the man in complete darkness. He sat still, the blade still in one hand while the other still hovered above the alter - his blood sizzling as it hit the cooling wax.

Absolute silence greeted the call. Behind the stone walls the town remained silent, but it wouldn't for long. If Xephaek could hear the man’s voice so clearly from where he sat, it was only a matter in time before someone in the town alerted the rest.

The only sound that seemed to respond to the man's call was that of the wild. He hadn't paid much attention to it before, but the land was silent, silent in a way that foretold danger. The insects of the night had calmed, and the land was still. Even the wind barely dared to breath.

The one sound that reached his ears was the cry of plants as they were crushed aside.

He watched the fields from where he sat, the blood of his palm still flowing freely to the earth below. His forehead was furrowed and his eyes distant as his ears strained to make sense of the sounds that he heard. One beast alone could never have made such noise, but the sounds were not that of men either. If men had been storming through the fields so recklessly, they would have been crying and screaming their blood lust to the skies.

He collected the remains of his offering and put them in a small pouch on the ground, tying the bag to his side. He stood up and allowed his cloak to fall back around him, pulling his sleeves back down over his arms. He paused to kick the stone alter away, rubbing the pile with his foot until all traces had, for the most part, disappeared. It would not do him good if someone happened to stumble across his alter and understand what its purpose.

He headed toward the crop field in front of him and then paused, again listening to the strange sounds that he heard. They were coming from ahead of him, and they seemed to be heading toward the village... But it was more than that... Something was wrong with those sounds. He knew a thing or two of the wild, and something in his gut was telling him what he heard was not natural.

With the town behind him and the other in front of him, his options were beginning to run short. Still, it was clear at least that the field itself was not to be his route of travel. He moved along the edge of the field, following it until he came to the main road.

He made a quick check to make sure that no army was flooding from the town gates, and then he stepped onto the road, turning away from the town. He kept an eye on the crop fields as he moved, watching for any hint of a sign or the creature that was making the sound.

Then he paused. He had to be right. Those sounds definitely were not part of anything in the wild - they weren't natural.

He changed his path and ditched the road, dropping into the edge of the field on the alternate side. He dropped to his knees in a small ditch, pulling out one of his pouches. He took out a small pinch of incense and scattered it on the ground before him, freeing the two rocks he had used earlier. He struck them together and lit the incense.

A sweet fume permeated the air momentarily and while it still lingered he chanted, quietly, "Nox noctis, ater atra atrum, circumvenio ego.”

The night air twisted in response to his words, bending around his figure and distorting the weak light that filtered down from the stars. He had no idea if his crude spell would work on what was coming, but it was his best bet. The spell was not a strong one, time alone prevented him from doing anything more powerful. At the very least, it would help any heathens from the village detecting his presence. It was not a sure promise, but the spell distorted reality around him. Without careful observation, which did not seem likely in this situation, he would pass by unnoticed.

It was a risk, staying, but it was one he was willing to make. If this danger was not natural, then perhaps he might've found himself not as alone as he had first thought.

He drew a short blade from his side, letting a small trace of blade from his dagger touch the blade as he chanted again, calling on a small sacrificial blessing. He sheathed the dagger and then dropped low against the earth, watching and waiting.

He didn't have to wait long.

A man burst out onto the road behind him, but he made no effort to return to town. Instead the man spun around, out of breath and unbalanced, but it quickly became clear why he hadn't continued running as the creatures emerged from the field. They were almost on top of him before he could react.

There were more than Xephaek had expected, much more, but the moment he saw them he realized he had been right.

They were not natural.

But they seemed mindless as well.

"Being a self-proclaimed ruler means that you put yourself in power, and when you do that over an invisible realm, with no one in it, it doesn't really mean you actually get any more power than you already had before you were self-proclaimed. So what's the point of being ruler?"

~ Man who didn't get it
Posted: Jul 20 2012, 03:52 AM

Advanced Member

Group: Members
Posts: 113
Member No.: 35
Joined: 2-July 12

Fida couldn’t sleep.

She tossed and turned in her bed. No matter how she laid, she couldn’t get comfortable. It wasn’t the bed, she had slept in worse, but it was something else that was bothering her. Her body seemed to ache and moan, pleading with her to finally let herself rest but it was to no avail. The harder she tried to sleep, the further it seemed to run from her.

She raised her hands to her eyes, pushing her palms down until utter darkness consumed her. If only she could hold herself there, in that silent darkness where the world ceased to exist… but it was impossible. Even as she held the position her eyes began to ache from the pressure and the blood was draining quickly from her arms. She sighed, dropping her hands back to the bed and stared up at the ceiling.

There was no rest for the wicked.

She sat up, her night gown ruffling as she pushed back the covers and swung her feet out of bed. The ground was cool but not uncomfortable, a faint stickiness clinging to the bottom of her bare feet. She glanced over at her companion and comrade Aeshera who continued to sleep on, undisturbed by her movements. Unlike her the woman never had trouble sleeping. In the day she served the light with all her faith, trusting in it to guide and protect her sword in its name, and by night she rested in its grace never batting an eye.

That type of peace, that life, it was not one that could be bought.

She pulled herself out of bed, walking over to the window and drawing back the thin curtain to look at the streets below. The town proper spread before her. At night shadows covered every inch of the space. The carpet of earth that stood at its center was donned in colors of midnight, turning the center from green to blue in hue. During the evening when she and Aeshera had arrived at the inn, the center had been clearing out, the signs of the hustle and bustle of the day slowly fading away. The ground had been trampled from feet and wagon alike, and fallen fruit and lost coins had been the targets of the young to satisfy both their stomachs and pockets.

Now it was a ghost land, deserted and left for the darkness to swallow. Left to creatures like her that had no place in the day.

She started to lower the curtain when a movement caught her eye. She paused, lifting the fabric a fraction of an inch as she watch the form of a person emerge and disappear toward the gates that rested close by. The figure was distant and she couldn’t make out much from where she stood, but there was no threatening aura and no sign that whoever it was sought anything else other than refuge in the night. It seemed like she was not the only one who had trouble sleeping that night.

She dropped the curtain and moved back to her bed, sitting down on the hard surface. It had been over three years since she had taken the oath as a Defender of the Light and she still could not find peace. Perhaps there really was none to have, none for someone like her who had made such a grevious mistake.

She glanced back at Aeshera who was still sleeping peacefully, the woman’s golden hair spread out on her pillow. She breathed slow soft breaths, her dreams undisturbed and her sleep restoring. Her white nightgown seemed to glow faintly against the dark colors of the room, standing out vividly from the dark - like an angle.

Fida looked down at her own nightgown. The material was coarse and rough, and though their night gowns were identical as sisters in the Light, hers did not glow against the dark. A gray mist seemed to cloud the fabric, dulling the color in shades of night. The mark of the unholy it must have been. Her brown hair curled loosely around her shoulders, the ends broken and uneven and her hair itself ratted from her restless sleep. The difference was so profound that she found it hard to believe others did not see it. She wore the colors of her oath, but unlike the others her fabric seemed stained and dirty, unclean and filthy. The others were living lives of the pure; she was merely seeking redemption. Her sin could never truly be hidden.

She glanced again at Aeshera, but the woman had not budged an inch. Slowly she slid off the bed again and moved over to her pack. She crouched down in front of it, loosening the draw string. She fished through the contents carefully, pushing aside the book of Light that was meant to be her source of peace and found instead a small pouch that was hidden in the bottom. She carefully withdrew it and slid onto the floor, moving so she could rest her back against the wall.

Her slim fingers trembled as she undid the small tie. She opened the bag and reached inside with two fingers, gently pulling out a lock of brown hair and a small clipping of cloth. She gently brushed the lock of hair against her lips, giving it a light kiss before she moved both it and the cloth to her nose. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, allowing the scent to wash over her.

It still smelled like him.

A small toddler with hazel eyes that matched her own grinned up at her from her mind’s eye, laughing as he tottered around on his two unstable legs. He laughed and grinned and reached toward her, calling out ‘mama! Mama!’.

She snapped opened her eyes and lowered the two articles from her face. How old was he now? Four? She wondered how much he had changed. Maybe she wouldn't even recognize him anymore. He’d had his father’s grin as a babe, though she doubted it would stay forever. Even the last time she had seen him, from afar, he had started to look more and more like her sister and her husband. No one had questioned the family at all when they had announced the new addition of the family as being theirs... Years ago, the memory alone would’ve brought tears to her eyes andwettened her cheeks, but now her eyes were dry and her face still. Reality had checked itself in long ago, and she had learned that grief and regret could not take away her sin.

She shook herself and took the lock of hair and cloth and pushed them deep into the pouch. She tied it off and hid it back in her pack, replacing the objects on top in case Aeshera ever looked inside.

Fida was a Defender now, the name given by the oath. Her old life was behind her. Ulyana no longer existed. The life that Ulyana had lived, the family she had once had, and the mistakes she had make - none of it was part of her anymore.

“To arms! Defend your town!"

Fida looked up sharply.

In a flash she was on her feet, her feet thumping against the ground as she ran to the window and ripped the curtain back. The street was empty, but she hadn’t imagined it. She had heard something.

Behind her she heard Aeshera rousing from sleeping, mumbling in a half dead whisper, “Wha’you doin’?”

And then the final call came. It was faint, but the words carried across the night air. “We’re under attack!”

It sounded like it was coming from beyond the gates, from outside the town. The figure she had seen… was it the same person?

Fida turned on her heel, darting to the wardrobe and ripping it open.

“Aeshera!” She yelled, and with a jerk the woman sat bolt upright in bed. “Something’s happening. Get armed – the town is under attack.”

She ripped out her traveling clothes. It was not the normal armor she doned when she fought, but it was built for protection. Her normal armor would have taken to long to change into. She did not bother to change out of her dressing gown, slipping on the top half of the uniform overs clothes and tightening the leather straps on the side to conform to her body. She dropped her boots on the ground and shoved her feet in them as she slipped arm guards over her bare skin.

“What’s going on?” Aeshera was next to her, dressing similarly. It was part of their training to be prepared for such attacks, and both knew their duty. “Bandits? A raid?”

“I don’t know,” Fida replied.

This town had had plenty of problems of its own. They had spoke of it with the inn keeper a little, explaining why their travels had brought them there, but they had not been there long enough to receive any clear information. The town had its own hostilities and while outsiders were welcome and Defenders of the Faith were greeted warmly, there had still been a distinctive impression left that there as more discontent there than what met the eye.

She grabbed her sword and a few spare daggers, tying them around her waist as she started for the door. Aeshera was still in the process of getting dressed, just having pulled on the protective bodice over her head, but Fida couldn’t wait.

“Alert the town, find whatever milita this place has and get them armed,” Fida said. “The call came from outside. We need a visiual.”

Aeshera gave a single nod, her green eyes already cleared from sleep. “Don’t confront them directly unless you have to – This town has some defense. You’ll have more chance inside than out. I’ll keep the doors waiting for you.”

Fida gave her a nod and slipped out the door. She allowed her footsteps to pound against the wooden slants as she ran down the hall and down a small flight of stairs to the main floor. The innkeeper had been roused by the noise and was just coming out to check.

“Get whatever weapons you have,” She called to the man as she shot pass him, reaching the door before he could reply. “Aeshera will come down. Don’t leave this inn until she gives you orders.” And then she shot out into the muggy night.

The calls were gone but the threat of the warning hanging on the night air. She reached the town gates. The guards were already gathering, a few men looking around uncomfortably as they tried to detect where the sound had come from. A few saw her, eyes tracing down to the symbol of light that blazed across her chest and back – a single white flame that curled in an intricate design and stood out vibrantly from the black of the fabric beneath. She was not a guard of their ranks, nor of their militia, but if they knew a thing or two they would know what she did, and they would know to obey.

“Fortify the village! Get everyone capable of fighting armed,” She yelled, just as she reached the gate. “Keep this gate locked and open it to no one but myself, is that clear?”

She could not wait for a confirmation and ripped open the door, sprinting out into the darkness that rested on the other side. The night was thick and humid and quiet. The crop fields stretched for an eternity around her. Nothing stirred...

But there was a sound. She couldn’t tell what it was, but she could’ve sworn she heard something. It was a strange rustling sound, a thrashing or something close to it. What was it?

She sprinted forward, her boots muffled as they hit the dirt ground. Her own breathing was the only living sound that greeted her. There was no other sound in the night as she moved, no further calls, no further warnings. Nothing. Not even the land breathed. After a few seconds she slowed.

Where was it? But then she heard it again, that thrashing sound. The rustling. The sound of crops snapping as something massive moved. She looked to the side of the road, to the field by her. It animated from inside...

The person who had given up the warning was still missing, but the sound she heard unnerved her. She tried to see through the crops, taking a few steps closer to investigate, but still nothing moved. The fields were covered in shadows and she couldn't see very far inside, but the sound was definitely coming from that direction. What was it?

Cold sweat dripped down the side of her face and she brushed it away with the back of her hand, her other grasping her sword, ready to unsheath the blade in defense. The sound was drawing closer… heading toward the town.

Then out of no where a figure burst out of the field, yards ahead of her. She swung around ripping her blade free, startled, but the man swung on his heel and faced the crops. He was breathing heavily but his attention was not on her. Instinctively she followed his eyes.

For a moment she had no idea what she was looking at. The field crop was crushed under the ferocity of the hoard, and the shock of seeing them alone froze her on the spot, eyes widening. It was not bandits, it wasn’t even human. No, that wasn’t correct. Parts of it were human. Parts of it were animals. It was bones, decaying flesh, everything and more. She couldn’t see well enough to tell for sure what else might have made up the beings, but she also knew that she had seen more than enough.

She took a single step back, her mind flashing as she realized she had only a moment to decide what to do. Aeshera had told her not to confront anything, she was merely getting the visual and a visual she had got. But there was also the man to consider. Out of breath, outnumbered, and even as she debated the creatures were closing down on him.

One thing was clear, alone he was dead.

Another was clear, together the odds didn’t change.

But it was only the first fact that called to her brain. Her oath made the decision for her. Where she would have run if she had been alone or the man already dead, now there was a life in the balance. He was armed, he was prepared to fight, but he was still dead without her hand – and her life was for the people, for the Light. It was not her place to worry that she might die. If the light wished it, she would live, and if it didn’t, perhaps she would finally find peace.

Aeshera would know to expect the worst when she didn't return.

She threw herself forward, running to intervene. A deer-skulled creature lunged at the man, but it was one he would have to deal with on his own. She would not get there in time to help him with that, but there was plenty else baring down on him. A bear born human skeleton in particular was lunging toward him while he dealt with the first - and there was no way he could take on two attack simultaneously.

The loose fabric of her night gown flared as she spun, bringing her metal blade down on the creature. She prayed that her sin would not keep the Light from defending her blade in this fight.

"Being a self-proclaimed ruler means that you put yourself in power, and when you do that over an invisible realm, with no one in it, it doesn't really mean you actually get any more power than you already had before you were self-proclaimed. So what's the point of being ruler?"

~ Man who didn't get it
Posted: Jul 20 2012, 10:12 AM

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It was a sleepless night. The air was still and stifling, the sort that brings a twist of fear to everyone’s stomachs once night falls.

Everett slid through a thicket of trees on the eastern side of the main road. He moved silently, keeping a good pace. Noting the town walls coming into view, he slowed. He had traveled just in the shadows of the road, out of sight to others, for days. Now he approached journey’s end and felt his body begin to surrender to fatigue.

His cloak, a thick fabric of a smoke-like blue colour, flowed behind him. His hood was pulled over his head, shrouding his face in shadow. His boots were light and his footsteps lighter. He kept one hand on the thin sword at his side as he maneuvered through the undergrowth.

Everett slid a small pouch of berries from the inside of his cloak, taking a small handful before replacing it in one of its many pockets. Perhaps he could find decent food within the town. Anything would be better than the meals of fire-burnt fish and wild berries he had lived on for the past three nights.

His eyes scanned the area ahead of him as he approached an area where trees faded into a crop field. Everett waited, watching for any movement. A flicker of light to his right- he whirled around but saw nothing. A trick of the light, perhaps. Everett reached high above his head to grab a steady branch of the nearest tree. He pulled himself up into the middle, settling easily over a pair of branches. A better viewpoint could never harm.

Scanning the area again, he noticed another person on the path. He thought nothing of it; the figure was only walking towards the town as any regular citizen would. Everett began to lose focus on his surroundings as he thought of how peculiar it was to see another on the path at so late an hour.

“To arms! Defend your town!” The sound pierced his thoughts. Everett looked towards the source of the sound, turning towards the crop field ahead of him. He found no sign of the figure he had seen along the path. His brows furrowed as he struggled to make sense of the call.

“We’re under attack!” Another yell, this time clearly coming from the fields. Everett slid down the tree and moved forward into the cover of the tall crops. He knelt there, removing his sword from its sheath. He could hear more yelling coming from the town; the local militia, he hoped.

He saw a man emerge from the woods into the field, running in a panic. A loud thrashing sound followed him and drifted across the open air. Everett slid closer, watching as the man hit the main road and turned to face the attackers.

He had expected raiders, or a group of bandits. Nothing of his training would have prepared him for the creatures he saw; all rotting flesh and bone, some human, some animal. Everett slid in behind the group of them, following their path towards the lone traveler. He could not possibly fend off such things on his own.

Everett followed silently behind them, beginning to slice through the bones of the creatures who had fallen behind. He was sure that none of the others noticed his presence before moving forward once more, repeating the process.

He glanced towards the town walls and saw a woman run from the doors, a blade in her hands. She began attacking from the same side as the first man, and for a moment a thread of relief made its way into Everett’s mind. Perhaps there would be success, afterall.
Posted: Jul 22 2012, 05:52 PM

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The blade swung true, cleaving through the deer skull at the jaw as it gaped open, trying to reach him and tear into his flesh. Even as his mind had struggled to forget, his arms remembered war. Instinct was the most important thing; there was no time to hesitate, to second-guess. He moved moment to moment, each breath a hard-fought prize. As the creature fell he turned to meet the next attack. His movements became less awkward as his body moved through old forms and recalled the desperate rhythm of battle. He knew his strength would go long before it would have in his days as a soldier, but it was distant knowledge, something he would deal with if he lived long enough to tire.

Aware of the answering cries in the darkness, he knew at least the villagers had been warned. His odds were still dire, but the pulse pounding his ears refused to admit defeat. He fought fiercely just to live a bit longer, to know the village wouldn’t be massacred unaware. There is only the fight. Death will embrace us all.

Edwin fell back, trying to move towards the woman he saw out of the corner of his eye. They didn’t have much hope, even standing together, but every creature they managed to take down would be one less that made it to the walls. She’d already saved his life at least once, but there was no time for thanks, nor any breath to spare. All he could do was try to repay the debt as the horde continued to claw and thrash, single-mindedly thirsting for blood. The symbol of the light set off an internal warning, but for now she was on his side, a lesser of two dangers.

Blade met bone with a sickening sound, but it seemed like no matter how many they cut through, there was a fresh one to take its place. Maybe his count had been wrong, and there were more—a second wave that rose after he’d retreated. Grimly, he acknowledged the possibility, but refused to give ground. Small wounds accumulated on his arms and chest as the creatures mobbed them too fiercely and with numbers too great to be stopped. As one fell another would step over it; they trampled each other for a chance to spill blood.

Deep in the fields, unseen, more creatures rose. Called through the crops by the sound of battle, they moved through the tall stalks and advanced on the fighters, incensed by the scent of blood in the still, heavy air. As the second horde moved across the bones of the fallen, they silently rose up again and reshaped. Jagged, broken bones became the claws of others; discarded arms and legs attached to whatever and wherever they could to form even larger monstrosities. They bore down on the man who’d been culling their numbers from the rear, this time all too aware of him as they burst out of the crops—one moment just a rustling, the next a flurry of snapping jaws and slashing appendages.

On the road, Edwin was beginning to feel the strain of fending off so many of the monsters. One of them landed a blow across the side of his face, and the force of the bone—it looked like a bear’s femur—sent him staggering backwards. Trying to regain his senses, he shook himself and raised his sword just in time to stop a second blow. With a loud crackthe bone broke over the blade; the piece that fell nearly smashed into his shoulder.

It was then that he realized how useless their stand was, as the broken piece of bone reattached itself to the nearest creature. It don’t matter how many they cut down, they’d just put themselves back together.

“They reform; fall back!” He yelled over the noise with the authority of a man used to giving orders. One glance had told him the gates were closed, and he could see torches moving on the top of the wall. It looked as though the creatures wouldn’t be able to get in, but any back up they could get would increase their chances of survival. Though he didn’t know how they could survive a battle that didn’t end.

“Militia?” Edwin asked the Defender as he followed his own directions and began slowly giving ground towards the wall.
Posted: Jul 26 2012, 11:53 PM

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Xaphaek took in the scene before him. The creatures had yet to notice him, but now that he had seen what they were capable of he realized that it was only a matter of time. They were relentless and, as far as he had seen, unstoppable. They reformed faster than was humanly possible, even with the aid of magic. Whoever or whatever was controlling them had access to a power far larger than any he knew. This was not some small attack. For something of this force, someone must have been planning this moment for weeks, if not months or years.

But that also meant something had to be controlling it.

He’d been wandering too far and too long for this to be mere coincidence. This had to be it, the first sign of what he was looking for, and it was a sign that somewhere he could potentially have allies.

But for now, the simple knowledge that such power existed would have to suffice. If he survived, then he could worry about the rest later. It was becoming clear that he could not hold his position forever. The creatures were mindless and rampaging, and while his spell might slow him from being discovered the creatures mindless rampaging would eventually lead them straight over him.

It was as likely as not that when the heathen’s were slaughtered he would soon follow. If he wanted to live, he had to act now - but it was not as simple as that. The creatures rebuilt themselves from the soldiers that were hewn down by the two fighters. There was nothing to say that this attack would finish with the deaths of one mere village. If this army was built from the dead, what would stop it from taking the bodies of the fallen heathens and using them as parts for new soldiers?

Even with magic he could not outrun an army of that size and that ferocity. No, he needed to buy time.

As much as he hated to admit it, at the moment the heathens of the village were his best chance for survival. Without them, he didn't stand a chance. At the moment, wthout the time, resources, or backup, he might as well have been one of them.

He rose to his feet, keeping to the shadow of illusion he had cast around himself as best he could. If he could keep the creatures focused on the pair he should easily have time to reach the safety of the town. Once he was inside, then he would have more time to act. He would have to act quickly, however, that much was certain. With an army like this, it was only a matter of time before the town was consumed. He just needed the heathens alive long enough to set up a defense of his own, or to find another way out.

His sword was already tainted with the sacrificial blood, ready to slice through bone and metal alike, though the latter seemed less needed at this point. It was another weak spell and wouldn't last long, but it would last long enough.

He broke free from his spell, shattering the illusion that surrounded him and darted down the side of the road – keeping to the ditch. The monsters did not seem to notice him, fighting over each other as they sought to reach the pair. He made it just out of reach of them, jumping up the small ditch and back to the road. He paused, looking back to make sure nothing had followed, but as he did so his eyes locked onto the woman.

The woman’s armor... She was a defender.

The symbol of light that blazed on her chest and back twisted his gut, raising acid to his mouth. He held back a scoff, lifting a hand and muttering under his breath. He shifted her vision as a creature bore down on her, making the beast look further away than it was. He saw her take the bait, trusting the distance and turning toward her companion as another beast threw him a blow to the face. Before she could react, the creature was on her. It caught her arm, the skull of a wolf sinking its teeth deep into her gauntlet and arm. Her yell was barely heard over the crack of bones as her companion regained his stance and fought back. Even so, she recovered fast – beating the creature away and cutting it down.

He smiled as she bent her arm protectively, fending off a creature with one arm before she finally retook a firm grasp on her blade - her motion slowed. It would be so easy to kill her…

He lowered his hand, resisting the urge to follow through. No, he needed her as a shield, just as he needed the others. With these numbers and with the possibility that the creatures could create new soldiers from the dead, he needed every heathen alive. When later came, he could dispose of them then.

But his hesitation had cost him. The creatures weren’t oblivious to him now. A small group was already charging, detecting his presence further down the road, and he raised his sword to greet them. He would have to fight if he was going to make it back to the town.

Fortunately, it would not be alone.

“They reform; fall back!” The man called, his voice that of a commander.

He cut down the beasts as they attacked, his sword easily slicing through them with the sacrificial blood, the limbs severing neatly. He would have to take his blows wisely. The blood would not last forever, and his strength was not built for normal warfare. Without the enchantment, his battle of bone against steel would become a battle of strength, and he would be slaughtered.

He kept the creatures at bay, striking with the bloodied edge only when necessary as the pair slowly fell back to join him. He doubted they would question the extra help when they noticed him, and for now keeping two warriors at his side was better than having none.

"Being a self-proclaimed ruler means that you put yourself in power, and when you do that over an invisible realm, with no one in it, it doesn't really mean you actually get any more power than you already had before you were self-proclaimed. So what's the point of being ruler?"

~ Man who didn't get it
Posted: Jul 27 2012, 12:19 AM

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Bones splintered and chipped as the metal cut down on them, the cold of steel smashing apart the demonic creatures. The sound grated and tore at her ears, the sound of the beasts smashing and tearing sounding all too human to be true.

They’re not human, she reminded herself, slashing outward as another creature tried to flank her.

Something flashed in the corner of her eye and she turned, bring her sword in close for a defensive blow. The force of the connection threw her backward and she stumbled, barely managing to catch her feet. She swung her sword up, catching the creature just in time as it came down on her. The sickening crunch of bone against steel greeted her ears.

They’re not human, she shouted silently again.

It wasn’t that she hadn’t killed before, three years as a Defender would not give her that luxury, but this… this was madness. The creatures were made from the dead and the stench of rotting corpses followed them, overwhelming her senses and gagging her. The brittle remains of flesh slipped and tore under her blade and she could feel it with every stroke. Each blow she sent eventually caught with bone, sometimes breaking them, sometimes shattering them, and sometimes jerking to a harsh halt.

There was something wrong. This wasn’t just surreal, it was beyond that. It was insanity. The realm of her nightmares had engulfed her, dragged into the real world by who knew what force. This was nothing she could have imagined before. This moment, this reality – with the surety of her heart pounding in her chest and her own sweat drenching her as she tried to hold her ground – all of it screamed in her ears, fighting with what her mind told her was possible.

Even the Darkness should have never been able to create such abominations.

No matter how fast she moved, there was no way she could be fast enough. Guarding, slashing, attacking – using every method her training had taught her and still she could not keep up. There were too many. They came too quickly. Even though she had known entering the fight that there was little chance, this was not what she expected. This was impossible.

Pain shredded across her skin as the creatures clawed, bit, and tore at her flesh and armor. She pounded them with her arm bands, hit them with her hilt, and beheaded several – but it was all in vain. Her companion in arms fared no better, the two of the slinking back toward each other for protection. The only thing keeping either of them alive was the fact that the creatures' attention was split, and even that would only be a delay to the inevitable.

Eventually one of them would fall.

She was lucky. The man was surprisingly well adapted to fighting, probably one of the town’s guards out on patrol, but there was no time to stop and make acquaintances. For now she was just grateful that her ally was one who knew how to handle a blade and not some poor, stranded farmer out for a midnight stroll.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw the man stumble, taking a blow full on in the face. She jerked around, calling out, but before she could reach him something latched down on her arm and wrenched her back. The small second of distraction cost her dearly as bone pierced through her weak armor, penetrating into her skin.

She slammed her hilt into the creatures face three times, crushing the upper half of the skull free from her arm. She wrenched back the sword and thrust it through the creature. The bones splintered beneath the blow, but her blade only went part way before it caught - the ribs not shattering completely. The creature was still moving. She lifted up one foot and kicked out, wrenching her sword back and away from the beast. The creature clawed at her, crushed head howling soundlessly, and with a single blow she smashed the creature into the ground.

She stumbled backward, blood pouring from her arm. She ripped away the bone fragments of the skull that still clung to her arm, muffling a cry of pain and collecting herself. Some of the teeth broke free, the white stubs still sticking out from her armor, but she still had use - if weakened.

She kicked back another creature as it attacked and defended against third with her sword as struck from the side, the creature shattering under the force and littering her with the dead parts of animals as it connected. She barely had time to recover before another creature was on her.

They were being flanked. Outnumbered. Where from Darkness were all these creatures coming from? There should have been at least some signs of thinning, even if they still fell in the end. But instead it felt like they were greeting and endless wave head on. It was engulfing them, drowning them.

She wouldn’t last much longer. Already her body was fatiguing, and the wounds were not helping. The creatures held nothing back, it was not like a normal battle. There was no rhyme or reason to it, no time to recollect her strength; it was only one blow after the next, a battle of who could endure the longest. With numbers against them, it was no question who would last the longest.

“They reform; fall back!” She heard the man shout above the noise.

“What?!” She yelled, nearly making the same mistake of allowing herself to be distracted twice as she swung back toward him. She barely managed to fend off a blow, avoiding what would have, she realized, been a fatal strike.

The creature collapsed to the ground before her, body parts littering the road.

Her blood turned cold, her strength threatening to wane, as she saw exactly ‘what’ he meant by reforming. The arm and shoulder of a wolf that she had just hewn down reattaching itself to the corpse of a human that had already recombined with a the torso of a second.

There weren’t more of the creatures coming, she realized, they had been fighting the same ones since the beginning. Without a further question, she drew back with the man as he began to retreat - the pair of them moving slowly as they fought back the onslaught.

“Militia?” The man called, and she understood his question.

She dared half a glance back toward the walls of the town. Torches lit the upper edges, the town was at least alert now. Aeshera would be prepping with what few guards were there. But with a town that sized... she doubted they had many who could fight, or were at least trained to fight well. Still, if they had a militia, it would be ready.

“Yes!” She called back, her breath catching.

She pushed back another creature, slicing away a flab of loose skin as she struck. Another creature came from the side, catching her main arm as she swung and ripping off the gauntlet. She smashed it down, gritting her teeth as pain stung through her arm. She needed to be more careful.

“We can’t let them in!” She yelled back to the man, pausing to fend off another blow. Her breath was more labored now. “We… will have to run!”

Give them time to open the gate and let them in – if there was time. She didn’t dare utter anything else. She had foolishly told the guards to open the gates for no one else but her, a foolish statement made when she had thought the attacker was human = perhaps even a bandit raid. There was no way she could have predicted this, and she would have to pray Aeshera or the rest would have the sanity to open for whoever came, because at this point there was no promise that either of them would make it back, sprinting or not.

As she prepped herself for the sprint, watching her ally for a sign that it was time, her eyes caught another movement in the far back. Something, no some/one/ was striking at the creatures from behind. She threw back a creature, giving her a split second to squint through the dark. It couldn't be... She started with horror.

There was someone else out there.

They were fighting their way towards them, taking the creatures from behind. But what they hadn’t realized was that the creatures were rebuilding, coming at the figure from behind – but it wasn’t just that. More shapes were pushing out from the forest of crops and washing toward the road. If the person didn’t act soon, they would be trapped between the two waves.

“Look out!” She yelled, unsure if her voice would carry as strained and labored as her breath was. “Behind you!”

A creature came at her from the side, but she saw it too late. Even as she swung to block the blow she knew she would never make it. She braced herself, ready to feel the creature ripping through her chest, but as she turned a cloaked figure shot between her and the beast - taking it down in one blow.

She blinked, shocked. It wasn't the companion she'd been fighting with, he was still at her other side. It was a different man ((OOC|| To avoid confusion, this is Xaphaek)). He paid her no heed, moving to cut off another creature, and she quickly regained her senses and started fighting again.

The man must have been behind them, further along the road. He had probably come when he had heard the fight, and they were lucky he had. There were now four of them out there. In a short while, that would mean nothing, but for now... Maybe, just maybe they could make it back in one piece. But what they would do from there was another question.

How were they supposed to stop a monster that could not be killed?

"Being a self-proclaimed ruler means that you put yourself in power, and when you do that over an invisible realm, with no one in it, it doesn't really mean you actually get any more power than you already had before you were self-proclaimed. So what's the point of being ruler?"

~ Man who didn't get it
Posted: Aug 3 2012, 01:49 PM

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The field was full of cracks and clangs, the sounds of bones crushing and steel hitting its mark. Everett inched forward on the creatures before him, continuing to run down whatever creatures came before him. He could feel fatigue creeping into his muscles as his mind began to give.

The slim sword he carried was taking care of the smaller bones, but he quickly realized he needed more strength to cut through the skulls and larger bones. He ran, dodged, and rolled out of the way of many attacks, creating a distance between the wave before him and the woods behind.

A fleeting glance to the town walls showed lights being lit; people were stirring. Everett hoped more than anything that help would come pouring out of the gates before long; but he was not altogether naïve. Creatures like this would only force the townspeople back into their homes and their militia was likely small.

Everett shook himself, slicing down another creature that consisted of human arms jointed to a canine ribcage. He needed to concentrate on the present battle. He found himself moving closer to the road and coming into the line of sight of the defender. Another glance to the road and Everett could see the woman register his presence. The man at her side had his own struggles and was in danger of becoming overwhelmed.

He heard the man yell, realizing the truth of his words instantly. A half-human form moved in front of him as a missing limb was quickly replaced by what seemed like a wolf’s forearm. Of course they reform, Everett thought. How could this possibly get worse?

The defender’s voice now drifted to his ears; a simple warning. Everett whirled just in time to block a vicious slash directed in the general area of his throat. It could have been fatal. He took a deep breath to calm himself before cutting down another oncoming group.

It was too much; there were too many. Everett dodged another attack and ran to the edge of the pack. He rounded the horde and came around to the front, falling in to the left edge. He continued to beat back the creatures as he thought of a way out.

What did he have that could truly defeat these? His mind ticked through his pockets’ inventory and landed a thought on the small bag of powder he had. It was meant to make an easy fire when wood was gone but… perhaps it could work here.

He turned to the defender, slicing a ribcage in half as he did. “We need to destroy the bones!” He called, hoping his voice would carry over the clang of weapons against bone.

It was his last idea; and possibly their last hope.
Posted: Aug 3 2012, 06:30 PM

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Four against the hordes now. He adjusted his strategy accordingly. Their numbers kept improving, but not their chances. When he’d called for a retreat, it hadn’t been with the hope of making it back inside the walls. Every instinct he had was screaming that it was his only chance for survival, but the risks of allowing even one of those creatures inside the walls was too great. He forced the thoughts down, struggling for mental clarity. He needed to focus; he needed to think like a tactician and not a frightened farmer.

As the man from the rear joined them at the front of the pack, he considered both what the Defender had told him and the man’s words. They did need to destroy the bones—how else could they keep them from reforming? But the problem was how to do it. All he had with him was his sword, and steel had already proven to be ineffective for anything more than staving them off. If they fell back far enough, the militia on the wall would be able to give them some cover, but arrows would be just as useless, if not more so. And he had no magic of his own to use—if that would have even been helpful.

His thoughts were interrupted as the creatures seemed to surge. It was as though they’d sensed the party’s fatigue and meant to finally overwhelm them. If Edwin had thought they were ferocious before, they were nothing short of vicious and blood thirsty now. They came at them three or four against each one now, snapping and clawing with inhuman determination.

Edwin kicked once of the creatures back with a heel square in its chest, and just barely managed to twist to his right and counter another with his blade. Immediately, he wrenched it back and brought the hilt down hard on the skull of a third, bashing it backward temporarily. Even though he was fighting as he no longer thought he was able to, he knew it was only a matter of time until one of them fell. He met any attack he could, whether it was directed at himself or one of the others, and continued to give ground backwards towards the wall.

He considered the possibility of running, but he knew that even with his full strength and a head start he hadn’t been able to outrun the monsters. Edwin doubted very much that he’d survive turning his back on them and trying to escape that way.

Arms burning and breathing laboured, he took a step back and crunched a brittle piece of bone under his heal. The bones. Destroy the bones. He tried to refocus his thoughts. They were nearly backed up to the gate, and they needed a plan. Militia fighters rarely saw battle, and even normal men would have set them on edge. These beasts would have them frantic, and panicking allies could be more dangerous than determined enemies.

Gods damn it, think! The voice of reason shouted in his mind as he twisted his sword and pulled it free of a bear’s skull. They were close enough to the wall now that the flickering light of the torches reached them, illuminating the creatures in all their terrible detail. He thought he heard a shriek come from atop the wall, but he couldn’t be certain and he had no thoughts to spare for it. Dividing his attention between the fight and a solution was taxing enough. Though the light of the torches helped; being able to see their attackers more clearly was an advantage. If only he’d had one from the beginning.

Fire. It was worth a try. Anything was better than fighting what he knew to be a losing battle. “Torches! Throw some down!”

Nothing happened. He heard the rustled of bodies shifting uncomfortably. The murmur of an uncertain deferral to someone else.

NOW!” Edwin roared the order like a general about to court-martial his entire army for disobedience. Someone above overcame their indecision and threw one. It sputtered by his feet and went out. He cursed loudly in the language of the Tribes and kicked it aside before he could trip over it. Another torch nearly hit him on the way down, and he risked the snapping jaws of a wolf skull to grab it off the ground before it sputtered out entirely.

Shifting the weight of his sword to one hand, he battered the creature away far enough to stand back up, and then lashed out with the torch. For the first time since he’d begun the fight one of the monsters fell back, shying away from the flame. Hope surged dangerously in his veins as he shoved it into another’s ribcage. The bones went up in flames as though they were old, dry wood.

He’d been prepared for the creature to ignite, if only because of what he’d thought was a vain hope, and managed to keep his grasp on the torch and pull it back before the entire monster collapsed, taking another with it. But he hadn’t been prepared for the noise.

A terrible screeching filled his thoughts, in the same way as the voices of the spirits. The inhuman howl felt as though it was resonating inside his skull, and caught by it off-guard he staggered backwards, falling behind the other three. After a tense moment he was able to shake it off and grit his teeth, returning to the fight with a renewed vigour, born of the knowledge that maybe, just maybe, they would survive this after all. As long as the militia didn’t accidentally stick them full of arrows and helped them find some more fire to use against the beasts instead.

{[OoC: Just for clarity, the other characters aren't going to be subjected to the screeching Edwin heard.]}
Posted: Aug 15 2012, 02:36 PM

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Fida’s wounded arm was already weakening and with each blow she could feel the jar through her sword as it splintered bones and warded off teeth and claws. The wound ached with a burning fury that told her something was wrong. The creatures that had clamped down on her must have shredded muscle in the struggle, and while she had no time to give to the wound, she found that the pain was mastering itself in the back of her mind – demanding attention, screaming that it was there. But it wasn’t just her arm. It was her whole body. Fatigue, cuts, bruises, torn flesh – all were telling her she could not go on and even though adrenaline fueled her system, keeping her body moving as she never thought she could, her body was screaming to tell her that if things did not change soon she would fall.

But she fought on anyway, stretching and twisting the wounded arm as she fought with her sword – smashing through bones, crushing her hilt again rotted flesh as she caught a creature from behind. Blood coated as it seeped from her wounds and intermingled with her sweat. Bits of bones and rancid flesh were flecked across her body, and beneath her feet broken bones collapsed to dust – caught beneath her and her companions heels before they could reform.

Once dust the bones at least seemed unable to reform. But that did them little good when they had neither the appropriate tools nor numbers to grind every last vile being into the earth.

It was no longer a matter of watching her companions back. None of them had the time for that anymore though she struggled to make sure none of them had fallen. The monsters had surged, surrounding each of them, and it was all they could do to stay alive – or at least it was all she could do.

They were fighting for their lives.

Somehow they had drawn close enough to the gates to be within range of the torchlight from above, though with the onslaught of the attack the doors would never be opened to allow them in. It was the only thing that probably let her survive against the onslaught, the only thing that allowed her senses to keep up with the madness that swarmed around her. Normal fighting teachings seemed to flee from the door. It was all instinct now – it was the only thing that could keep up with the flurry of the monsters. She smashed, sliced, punched, kicked – anything that she could to keep the creatures at bay.

Then the man near her, the one who she had first ran to help, was calling to the walls for troches. She blinked in fury as sweat dripped into her eyes, bringing her sword down in an arch as she crushed a creatures ribcage in half – breaking off its head though the lower limbs still moved, and she had to kick it away while she swung to rip off the arms of a second creature clawing at her side and the head of third – just managing to smash it before it clamped down on her shoulder.

Fire… The creatures were mostly bone, but they still had flesh… and the bone was brittle. Just maybe, maybe it would do something. At the least, maybe they could ward the creatures back with it, use it to build a protective perimeter so they could reform and plan a counter attack.

But the guards on the wall were hesitating, she could hear their calls back and forth as they deferred to someone. Someone with authority.

That was when it struck her.

“Aeshann!” She yelled desperately, rising her voice as much as she could muster with her short breath. She smashed the wide part of her blade into a creature and threw it past her, swinging to cut off the leg of another creature as it threw itself forward. She called again, “Listen to him! Send the torches!”

The man’s own commanding voice joined hers – and she was not sure which call was heard or listened to, but either way a response was given. She saw the light from the torch wane rather than saw the flame die itself – but the curse of the man rang in her ears, the words unfamiliar though she did not have time to analyze.

“More!” She yelled without thinking, continuing to slice. “Send more!” She had no idea if she was heard, no idea if she had even raised her voice to anyone or if she was screaming to herself, desperate to find a way to ward these creatures back.

Either way, more torches were thrown.

The flare of the creature as it went up in flames, taking out a second with it, was welcoming news. She turned toward the light instinctively, eyes flickering just in time to see the beast going down before pain shooting through her leg and hands clawing at her good arm reminded her that she was not along. She struck out furiously, spinning away from the hands and smashing her hilt down on the thing on her leg – pulverizing the bones with her blow. She swung like mad, again instinct taking over as she beat away the creatures she had allowed get too close.

She needed fire. She needed a torch.

Then, as she was searching among the ground for one of the fallen torches she saw that one of her companions had fallen back – doubling. She had no idea which one it was, she didn’t have time to analyze that, but it was obvious something had happened to disrupt his fight. Limping as she was she struggled to smash down the creatures and slow, however temporary the relief, the monsters that surged after him. It wasn’t long, but it seemed long enough and he rejoined the fray.

She swept up a torch that was still sputtering with life, switching the sword to her bad arm and taking the fire up with her good, and she switched tactics. She didn’t care how she hit the creatures around her as long as she hit them, and she thrust the fire into their midst.


With the sacrificial blood lining the blade, Xaphaek sliced through the bones like paper – severing legs, arms, and limbs like there was nothing to it. But as he had predicted, the spell did not last long. It was weak, and with each slice a little bit of the blood was removed from the blade and he could start to feel the resistance growing. If there had only been a few mindless creatures to worry about, he would have fared alright – but the horde was swelling and the numbers that attacked each of the four fighters was nearly too much to handle. Indeed, he found himself stumbling backward to avoid blows far more often than his companions, and he was relieved he had more strength left than the others seemed to - having only just entered the fray.

As it soon became clear that his blade, while it could stop a creature from harming him, was in fact truly useless - the pure slice preserving the bone fragments enough that they were easily whisked up to make more creatures – he began to put his efforts more into parrying. He dodged, twisted, and parried whatever blows he could, making little effort to cut or smash the creatures. It didn’t seem to do much to break them like the others did, as they simply reformed the moment they fell.

Whatever spell was behind this was a powerful one.

His minor spell work seemed to have no effect on the creatures like it had on the defender. It seemed they were at a higher caliber, or perhaps they were simply so mindless in their thoughts and attack that seeing a faint shift in their vision did not change their plans. Either way the creatures onslaught showed him how much he had come to rely on his small ability, and the battle was not going well. His only saving grace was that presence of his opponents, and he was glad he had decided to let the heathens live.

When they made it back to the town wall, there was little safety or relief to be had. The heathens of the town were staying behind their closed doors, watching like brainless idiots while they dealt with the charge. If he died here his only comfort would be that the monster would soon breach the walls and slaughter every living thing inside.

However, it was then that the call for torches was raised and at first he thought the call was useless, if desperate, as it was bone they were fighting not wood. He heard a familiar curse reach the heavens, startled as the word rang through the night air. He bashed away at the creatures with a new fury, turning toward the man who had screamed to the heavens as he went for a second torch. He could not see him clearly but one thing was certain, that man was from the tribes. One of /them/ - not a heathen, but one of the blessed children of the Gods.

Which meant both of them were in a dangerous position – but he had no time to spare on such thoughts. If they survived, then he would have a chance to speak to the man. If they survived, he would have to find a way to get them away from the heathens – unless an opportunity presented itself to let the heatens burn while escaping with their own necks. But first he had to concentrated on surviving. But this knew knowledge restored a vigor in his attacks and he began bashing them down with renewed strength.

A fellow brother was at his side!

Then the first creature went up in flame. Xaphaek’s eyes widened faintly as he shot quick glances at the burning creature. It was the same man who had discovered it, though he recoiled backwards as if something had hit him. He saw the defender move to try and slow the creatures from reaching the man, and he too shifted his fight the best he could to cover so the man had time to recover. He would not let a fellow brother fall if he could help it, not until he could see where the man stood or what he was doing in the heathens lands.

But as he fought his mind was on the fire.

It had worked. The creatures were burning, the others were taking to the torches. Well now, it seemed the Gods were on his side after all. It meant there was a chance he would live to see another day, and live to find the cause of this spell. But at the same time it provided another problem in his mind. An army of undead that could be defeated so easily by such a simple cause – if he found the spell, he would have to search for a remedy to fix such a grave error. Perhaps fate had also designated him to be here.

He saw a torch fall near him and he dodged around a creature, ducking past another as its claws raked the air above him. He snatched the torch from the ground and swiveled, striking out and the creature burned. He hit another – thrusting and withdrawing as he hit every pieces of flesh and death that he could. But each blow required a thrust, for the fire to be held for a few seconds

It was taking too much time… And now that he had seen what the force could do and how it could be stopped, there was no reason for him to carry out the fight. What they needed to do was end it.

A light shot from above as he took down a creature, and he saw that a burning arrow had been shot into the midst of the creatures before them. Then another, and then a storm of arrows began to be released. They rained down on the crowd in a wave, pausing as the archers reloaded and relit their second load, and a second came. But the aim was poor. As he fought an arrow landed by his boot and a second blazed past his cheek.

Whoever was on the walls obviously did not know how to fight to save their lives – and the fact they didn’t even think to aim at the furthest monsters first made it worse. Or maybe that fact was they didn’t have the strength to shoot the arrows farther. Either way, he was not about to let himself be struck by a heathen arrow.

Besides, the waves were numerous. Even though the fire seemed effective, the creatures were still pouring from the field and storming forward. Some had even started to breech the walls, climbing up it like snakes as they headed for the villagers above. He smashed his blade into the monster in front of him, burning it.

This wouldn’t do.

They needed to burn the source.

He dropped back, letting the others pick up the slack of his fighting as well as using the protective barrier of burning dead to slow the dead.

The field needed to burn – but they had run past its limits now. The arrows were not reaching far enough to threaten them. Someone would need to head into the thick. The only way to get back in would be to go through the thick of the monsters. His small subtle spells didn’t work, but if he risked spending a little extra energy… If he did a chant, there was a definite chance the others would hear.

But right now that wasn’t the main part of his concern. His main concern was surviving.

He would have to take the risk.

He began chanting slowly , calling to the Gods in the language of the tribes. He fought of the monsters that slipped past the others, burning those that he could. He felt the air around him begin to twist as the shadows responded – bending the night air around him and blurring his image. It jittered in the air, flickering like a ghost, and as he continued chanting under his the sensation got stronger.

He took a deep breath, unsure how long or well the spell would work, and then he sprinted forward – continuing the chant. His image blurred, skipping in and out of focus, and then it split – dark phantoms darting forward among the creatures and splitting away from where he stood while his own image seemed to dissolve from sight. There was still a shadow where he stood, but even the flame of his torch seemed non existant.

Either way, it was his only chance.

He sprinted forward. He ducked and doged through the tangled limbs of monsters, beating them back only where he had to in order to make a path forward. He did not look back at all, and he felt his arms and legs get torn as the creatures snatched at his fleeting shadow – but they at least did not seem to see him coming. It gave him only a second to burst past them, and promised his death should he hesitate for any longer, but it was only the second he needed to shoot forward.

He forced his body to run to its limit, as fast as his legs could go. He burst through the heavy throng of bodies, arrows falling around him and a few grazing his body – threatening to send him up in flames – but he kept moving. He based creatures, jumping over burning bodies, and he broke free.

Monsters were still swarming, causing the throng to grow, but he w
as free from the thick of it. He ran as hard as he could for the fields, now more free to dodge and void the creatures that stormed pass him. His spell was beginning to wear off and he noticed a few creatures turned his way, but that did not matter. He was nearly there.

He reached the fields and he skid to a halt, sticking his torch into its midst. As the flame caught he jerked back, running along the perimeter and hitting back creatures who tried to turn on him. His spell was nearly worn, but the fields were smoking. The flames were growing. He skid to a halt, turning to fight back a few creatures and burn what he could, and then he returned – spreading the flame.

Trap him as it might alone on this side of the throng, he was burning the path the creatures were taken – burning them before they could join their brothers and grow any more in number. He could deal with being trapped alone on this side later.

"Being a self-proclaimed ruler means that you put yourself in power, and when you do that over an invisible realm, with no one in it, it doesn't really mean you actually get any more power than you already had before you were self-proclaimed. So what's the point of being ruler?"

~ Man who didn't get it
Posted: Sep 24 2012, 10:40 PM

Advanced Member

Group: Moderator
Posts: 166
Member No.: 3
Joined: 9-June 12

The heat of the torch and the spurts of flame as the creatures ignited took the chill from the night air, and the perspiration that slid down his face and dampened his hair was no longer from their desperate fight alone. The discovery that the monsters could die had given him a second wind, but Edwin knew even that would not last; they had to attack fiercely and decisively if they wanted to save themselves. And if they fell, he did not know how long the villagers would survive.

He knew there was someone up there giving orders—the Aeshann the Defender had called to—but whether or not that was enough to keep their morale and discipline intact was debatable. It certainly didn’t seem to be helping their ability to defend their town. Most of their arrows seemed to come at them, falling short of the beasts. He dodged one of them narrowly, it came so close to the side of his face he could feel the heat licking at his skin. They couldn’t keep up like this, having to watch their backs for arrows and every other direction for the vicious creatures.

“Arrows to the back or not at all,” he barked, though he was unsure if the militia would answer to him of the Defender. He was about to try ordering his other companions on the ground outside the gate forward when he heard the chanting.

It was strange to hear the language of the Tribes so far from their lands; stranger still that it reached his ears and whisper in his mind as the voice of the dead. One of the others that fought with him was of the Tribes, and would face the same dangers after the battle was ended as would he. Whether or not that better their chances of survival he didn’t know, and he had no time to think on it. With one hand he used his blade to beat back the encroaching mass of claws and teeth, and with the other he continued to wield his torch. It was all desperate swings and thrusts with the flame; without need to worry about connecting with some vital part. Anything burned; and that was his salvation many times over.

For the first time since the battle had begun, there was space enough around him to take a breath and survey the condition of his companions. The Defenders was nearest to him, and it seemed her condition for the time being the worst, with her wounded arm. By some miracle none of the others looked severely injured. As he tried to slice and burn his way into a position where he could take some of the strain off the injured woman, he found himself searching with his gaze for the man who’d been chanting.

Edwin understood the words, but he had never seen what they did. Between the attacks of the monsters he watched the shadows all but hid the man from view. He couldn’t completely follow his progress after that, but he understood where he was going: forward, right into the thick of it. Brave, perhaps foolhardy, but also necessary. They had to start regaining the ground they’d given up.

“Forward!” He gave the order he’d stalled before, hoping the others were with him as he pressed forward into the mass of attackers. He met them with fire and steel as they came at him, knowing each step toward the enemy was one away from safety. But battles were not won in safety.

The smell of smoke was in the air, different from the rancid, acrid odor the burning creatures gave off. He was aware of the fields going up in flame by the way the light rippled along the edges of the chaos. The other man’s daring run forward made more sense now—a risk, but necessary. Even if the fires spread, the stone of the wall would keep it out of the town. Or so he hoped. To save these people from those horrible creatures just to endanger them by fire would serve no good end.

He didn’t see the creature until it was too late. Small and low to the ground, it snuck up on him as he spent his attention on larger foes. Edwin felled one of the larger ones, a mix between a bear and a man, and was edging around its charred remains when pain suddenly shot through his left leg. Instinctively, his gaze jerked downward, and he was just able to make out the creature with its sharp little fangs embedded in his calf. Without further though he thrust the torch down to ignite it.

Like the others, it went up in flames quickly, but it did not let him go. As the fire engulfed it, he felt the fangs turn to embers in his skin, biting off a cry of pain as he did. He leg buckled under him and he staggered, taking another wound along his arm from a set of raking claws before he could raise his weapon and batter it away. If he went down, he would not rise. It was that knowledge that kept him upright, favouring his right leg and fighting for his life.

The wound throbbed and burned. He couldn’t spare time to look at it, but he could feel the blood running down his leg. If this was not over soon, it would be the end of him. Survival had been a distant, tantalizing thought from the beginning, and in the smoky chaos of the night, that hope dwindled. He didn’t have the strength to fight on much longer, not like this. Suddenly, Edwin felt more aware of the flickering light of the fires; of each separate noise that made up the sound of battle; the heat of the flames and the chill of the feeble wind on his skin. Every battle he had treated as his last, but this one now felt like it truly was.

“It is in our last hour we find the most strength—even if it is only the will to breathe.” The words of his former liege came back to him as he rallied himself. He had at least the will to breathe—the will to fight on. If this was to be his end, he would meet it as any warrior would have been proud to—without fear, fighting to the last as he forced himself onwards.
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