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-   -   Chapter 2 - The Fellowship of Mud (http://online-roleplaying.com/forums/showthread.php?t=69)

Megamieuwsel 15th of March, 2002 14:45

Chapter 2 - The Fellowship of Mud
 
As the crowd disperses into town , Megamieuwsel lingers around the remains of the fire a little longer to see if he can be of any help to the strange man and woman.

They seem to be doing just fine by themselves , better not interfere with their buisness....

"I wish you a good night people , and if you're willing to contact me ; I'm staying in "the Dragon's Hangover" for the night.
Right now I'll be checking to see if my diner, presumably cold by now , is still up for grabs.
I fear for the worst , though....."

The man and his mule disappear into town and the latter finds his food gone indeed. Too tired to even mention it , he stables the mule again , noting with a minor part of his brain the hap-snap repair made to the stabledoor.
Once inside his room , fatigue overcomes him and without undressing he crashes into the bed.

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

A new morning dawns ; wet and grey and rainy.
In a room , in a inn , in a town , in the middle of nowhere a tall , slender man grooms his moustache and sorts out his clothes while reflecting on the history of yesterday.
The night's rest restored a lot of his vigor , though a deep rumbling in his "midsection" tells him , there one more component missing : Breakfast.

Heeding his stomach's call , Megamieuwsel enters the Inns common room , where the Innkeeper's wife already is serving to some of the customers.

Hmmm... The others must be still asleep. Wonder if their rash words about going along with my "Gargeltje-quest" can stand the testimony of a new day.
A rather grey one , I might say. Good thing , I had my blue set with me ; if the sky isn't cooperative and such....

Cadrius 16th of March, 2002 15:07

Shortly after finishing his cold soup Cadrius retires to his room for the evening. He spends an hour diligently cleaning his weapon, shield, and armor. Polishing every bit of grime, and blood off of it, making it look like it is fresh from the forge again. Eventually he's too weary to continue and collapses into bed and a dreamless sleep.

* * * * *

The morning matches Cadrius' mood, gray and slightly unpleasant. He rolls out of bed with a wince his hand instinctively reaching up to touch his wound.

It's fast on the mend, another day or two and I'll be good as new...not that it matters.

Coming downstairs he notices the blue-clad man is already up. Nodding to him he sits down and orders a small breakfast for himself.

"Good Morning sir," he says as he seats himself noticing the change of color and the lack of purple pants on the other breakfaster.

WhoNAN 22nd of March, 2002 02:32

As Cadrius sits down to breakfast, Whonan steps through the door, looking very tired and weary.... although he is oddly alone, covered in dirt and ash. His expression is of exhaustion, but also simultaneously of joy with a slight smile popping through the mask of fatigue.

He pulls a seat next to Cadrius...

"You know, you really shouldn't walk around with an open wound." He says out of the blue (possibly a pocket of megamieuwsel's).... but obviously not seeing the well hidden injury.

While Cadrius is still caught off guard... the odd man looks to the help, and orders an ample breakfast... paying a hardy price extra for some fresh fruit.

Upon the foods arrival it is attacked with a ferosity that would make a rampaging wolverine take notice... although never without manners, making quick work of the meal... and a slight nod, Whonan seems to discard the exhaustion and looks to be rejuvinated.... he turns to the fashionable man in blue.

"So when did you want to leave.?"

Cadrius 6th of April, 2002 11:33

Cadrius eyes widen for a moment in disbelief before narrowing in suspicion. He attempts to hide his surprise by saying, "It's nothing and will heal in but a few days."

Turning back to his meager breakfast he says, "If it is not too bold of me, what was that map that was found last night? Forgive me for eavesdropping but I overheard something regarding a legendary object of some sort."

He looks down at the helmet he had taken off of one of the orcs, the dirt and grime long since scrubbed away by his relentless hands. It now shines brightly and reflects the objects around it. An image of a griffin can be seen clutching a rose within its talons.

He pauses and awaits and answer from either the grey eyed man or his blue clothed companion.

Cadrius 22nd of April, 2002 07:35

The dark haired man looks around a moment apparently perturbed by the lack of communication from the two men sitting near him.

"Er, excuse me gentlemen? Perhaps I spoke too quietly," Cadrius says leaning forward.

It is then that he notices something most peculiar. The grey cloak and the purple panted man are not moving. They are absolutely still, not a muscle twitches, not a breath stirs within them.

"Dear gods," Cadrius whispers slightly, "barkeep! Come here a moment! I do believe these men have fallen under some sort of hysteria or catatonia."

There is no response from the normally loud man and this causes Cadrius' gaze to shift over to the other end of the bar where the man in question is also frozen. Hunched over a mug with the ale that had been pouring from the keg frozen in mid-air.

The fallen paladin gasps and stumbles backward from the bar, knocking over his stool in the process.

Shaking his head violently he whispers to himself, "No, this cannot be real," scowling and looking about as if the perpetrator might be hiding within the room he yells, "What treachery is this?!"

Unfortunately there is no response forthcoming and the man puts his hand to the side of his head. Distressed and confused he slumps down into a chair by the fire. Once it had been dancing and causing warmth for all, now it lay motionless helping no one.

So much like Kalia... he thinks to himself, the symbolism not lost on him.

"Please," he whispers shutting his eyes tight against the world which has apparently gone completely still, "please let this be some magician's trick."

Gralhruk 23rd of April, 2002 03:08

In the midst of his depression, Cadrius fails to notice the small dark figure slip into the bar so full of motionless patrons. Dressed in a midnight blue cloak of heavy silk, she has short, raven black hair. Cadrius looks up as she glides through the common room, but she fails to notice his gaze. She approaches the statue-like form of the dwarf the paladin remembers from the battle with the orcs and lightly places the palm of her hand on his brow. She wears a veil across the lower half of her face but from the wrinkles at the corner of her eyes you believe she might be smiling.

One hand draws the cloak aside displaying a short, bright sword. She draws it silently and slits the dwarf's throat from ear to ear. Oddly, the dwarf doesn't even move and no blood spurts from the wound. The sword disappears beneath the cloak once more and she gracefully moves to an empty table in the corner. One hand reaches up and unhooks the veil revealing the face of a young serious-eyed woman.

Almost as soon as she is settled, time once again returns to it's normal flow. Blood gushes from the dwarf's neck and he slumps forward on the table, dead, without so much as a sound. The strange woman does not stir and nobody seems to notice her, nestled as she is amongst the shadows.

Cadrius 23rd of April, 2002 09:46

Why have you done this to me? WHY?! the man's mind screams in agony. We broke our bond long ago, why must you torment me with this?

Amidst the depth of his despair he notices a woman enter the room. His blue eyes fill with hope as he notices another living, moving being within the motionless hell around him. However a smile faulters and fails as he sees the woman draw a blade and slit the dwarf's throat.

Suddenly the entire world flows back into motion again. The fire crackles and dances, the ale is poured, and the blood flows, like a crimson river from the dwarf by the bar.

Leaping to his feet Cadrius sprints to the dwarf, catching him as he falls. The blood continues the flow out of him and onto the floor. Recognizing the wound mortal the fallen knight merely cradles the stout warrior's head and whispers, "Be at peace, Moradin waits for you."

As the last breath leaves the dwarf he runs a hand over his face leaving a bloody trail amongst his sorrowful features. He looks up in agony and confusion, searching for the woman and asks, "Why? What is this?"

Gralhruk 23rd of April, 2002 22:44

The woman's eyes widen in surprise as the tall man singles her out with his piercing gaze, demanding answers for an action he could not possibly know she committed. She half rises, eyes scanning the room, and then sits again when the man's question is drowned out by the combined voices of those within the bar. The common room is swirling with bodies and colors as everyone rushes to inspect the dwarf, everyone seemingly speaking at once.

Cadrius momentarily loses sight of the strange woman and when he glimpses her table again she is gone. Craning his head frantically, he spots a flash of deep blue silk as she slips out the door. She is moving quickly but not running and does not look back.

WhoNAN 24th of April, 2002 00:00

Whonan's eyes flare... as he senses another consciousness appear out of nowhere... he looks around and only see's a dying dwarf in a heep, and Cadrius in a different location..... leaping to his feet he is too late to see the woman.... but his mind hears her.

The barkeep rushes to the dwarf along with the majority of the other patrons and those awake at the hour, causing quite a commossion in the bar... the glinting Grey of the strange mans eye alert those surrounding that something is indeed gowing through his mind... and he burst out the door of the tavern... to find the owner of the mind... that he cannot place... looking frantically back and forth down the street to find anyone.

Cadrius 24th of April, 2002 05:34

Cadrius stands to his feet, his legs a little shaky. Blood and violence seemed not to trouble him anymore, but that coupled with a world in stasis and a brief moment where he thought he had reached his eternal damnation has set the fallen knight's world spinning.

Whonan sees the man stand as he flies out the door, also in pursuit of the woman.

Cadrius closes his eyes a moment and steadies himself before he gives chase as well. Bursting out into the street he whips his head back and forth, looking for the elusive bit of silk identifying the dwarf's assassin.

He grabs Whonan's arm and points down the street toward the far end of town saying, "She's headed that way." Looking into the man's gray eyes gives Cadrius pause. He senses something more behind them, something brewing, looking, searching.

He shakes his head and in a moment and then sets off down the street after the woman.

Gralhruk 24th of April, 2002 05:58

With some distress, the woman notes not one but two pursuers. She ducks into an alley, breathing hard and takes a brief moment to steady herself.

Wizards and their promises! How have these two discovered me?

Staring down the alley, she realizes that there is no way out of here. Perhaps they didn't see her, but luck had not been on her side thus far today. She sprints for the far end of the alley and, springing off some discarded crates, leaps up toward the building wall. She gracefully catches hold of a space between some of the bricks where the mortar has fallen out, supporting herself with just her fingers until she can find a foothold. She looks up for her next hold and continues climbing the low structure.

WhoNAN 24th of April, 2002 06:25

Cadrius sprints down the street... but Whonan remains still.... to the observer in deep thought... the air shifts briefly about him...

in the mind of the woman comes a slight echo.
""Come and gone so suddenly, stay a moment and talk.""

The strange Grey clad man, now begins to walk slowly down the street in no hurry at all. And again the air moves.

""Don't try to hide... I can feel your mind."" Again echoing only in the mind of the woman.

--- Whonan normally wouldn't be bothered by the presence of someone... even if they were a murderer... but something about this one fascinated him..... his eyes flickering with life he trods ever still slowly down the street... in the general direction that Cadrius set off in..... not even a bit distracted by the barkeep running to the street behind him calling wildly for the guards whos armour can be heard clamering from the direction of the gates.

Cadrius 24th of April, 2002 07:58

Shaking his head as the gray-eyed man stands still he takes off down the street in pursuit of the woman.

"Blast! Where'd she go?" he says outloud as he looks over his shoulder to see Whonan slowly making his way down the street.

Continuing to run he blows right by the alley where the woman had ducked into only a few moments earlier. She freezes for a moment as she hears the man stomping about but quickly realizes he is unaware of where she has gone.

Racing another several hundred feet the man quickly realizes that she could not have made it this far and he doubles back to catch up to Whonan.

"By the gods man! Why aren't you hurrying? She just slew that dwarf!"

Gralhruk 24th of April, 2002 23:20

She hears heavy footsteps in the street behind her at about the same time she hears the strange voice.

-Come and gone so suddenly, stay a moment and talk.-

She involuntarily freezes, certain that nobody is close enough to whisper to her. At that moment she feels rather than sees Cadrius rush past the alley, oblivious to her prescence. She is almost unaware of her luck in eluding him, so focused is she on the eerie whispering. The voice continues and now she realizes she can feel it's misty coils not with her ears but with her brain.

-Don't try to hide... I can feel your mind.-

She almost shivers and her will raises an unconscious defense against the intruder, like an alley cat arching it's back and hissing at one who has cornered it. The receding footsteps halt for a second and then continue, their volume now increasing. The tall man was returning.

Whoever you are, leave me be. This is none of your affair.

She is uncertain of her escape, pursued as she is both mentally and physically. Another might surrender in the face of such hopelessness, but she has been without hope for long enough that she no longer needs it. She continues climbing, now almost recklessly, and one arm finally slips over the parapet at the wall's summit. She vaults over in a liquid blue arc, instantly laying flat on the roof and freezing in place, listening for the hounds at her tail.

WhoNAN 25th of April, 2002 02:19

Whonan replies with an automated response as his mind is obviously not there... he continues his pace slowly... almost stalkingly so.

"I have slain many in my life too, and no doubt so have you... don't be so quick to judge motives."

He continues walking slowly.... without interuption. And all of a sudden there seems to be prisms of light dancing around his head... almost like snow flakes reflecting light... Cadrius wipes his eyes and they're gone.

Again in the womans mind is anothers presence but this time its silent... only attempting to reason with her emotions... she feels a tugging at her feelings.... pulling her to calm, and relax... nagging her to forget her fear.

((Grahlruk Will Save DC13 or become a bit more calm and friendly (reaction levels)))

Gralhruk 25th of April, 2002 02:46

Like a minature worm, the intruder burrowed into her consciouness. Her mental alley cat took a lazy swipe at it but missed and quickly lost interest. Instead of tensing against this latest onslaught, she found herself relaxing somewhat. The worm spread warmth and comfort whereever it touched and really, a little worm couldn't hurt her.

Are you so sure these men mean you harm? After all, they haven't alerted the guard or called any attention to you.

Her grey eyes still serious but no longer hunted, she reached up and grasped the edge of the parapet. Pulling herself up high enough to see, she looked down on the street at the two men. They were both big, tall men; one clad in heavy armor and toting a rather large sword, the other wearing only normal clothing and carrying a staff. Oddly, the armored one seemed more agitated.

<OOC: Failed my save miserably with a 5. Just out of curiousity, what power was that?>

WhoNAN 25th of April, 2002 03:38

((It was Telepathic Projection))

A Slow smile comes across Whonans face.. as he reaches in one of his pouches... returning his hand to plain site clutching something. Again a shower of prisms fall around him.... and again there is a slight tugging on the womans mind.... reassuring her that everything will be alright.

This time Whonan speaks aloud with no direction or focus... but not loud enough for the guards now swarming around the tavern down the road to hear.

"I have no intentions of malice... however I am very curious..."
He trails off thinking again for a moment.

"... your chances of surviving the guards with my help is far greater than if you fair them alone. The choice is yours... talk with me... or face the town guard."

He clasps his hand on the shoulder of Cadrius reassuring him that everything will be alright.

((Diplomacy +14... Save DC13, you roll 'em))

Gralhruk 25th of April, 2002 04:01

Another worm tries to enter through the same hole as the first, but this time her feline is waiting and pounces on the intruder. He toys with it a few times before putting the little creature out of it's misery. Her brow creases as she listens to the unarmored one speak, suddenly certain that it was his voice she kept hearing in her head.

She shakes her head and her presses her lips together tightly. The man speaks into her mind, invades her thoughts with his little creatures and then threatens her with the guard. Still, these two held the cards in this game no matter how little she liked it. She must play along, at least for the time being.

"Enough. You have found me. What is it that you want?"

<OOC: Saved against the power (I'm assuming telepathic projection again). You win on the diplomacy check: given the circumstances of your meeting I'm not sure what that ought to buy you, but at least she isn't shooting arrows at you.>

WhoNAN 25th of April, 2002 05:14

Whonan's eyes slowly meet the voice... as only a second sense... supporting the preffered one. He raises a smile and a finger to silence her.

He then motions to Cadrius to quickly duck into the alley.

Speaking to him.

"You saw nothing of this woman... I don't care what you describe to them... just not her..."

He then pops back out of the alley staring frantically down the street when the two men are met by the guards.

"Did either of you see the attacker?" one guard blurts out.

Whonan looks at Cadrius reassuringly without a word yet.

Cadrius 25th of April, 2002 06:03

The words from Whonan seem to affect Cadrius as he remains silent and becomes a bit more introspective. Brushing a rogue strand of dark hair out of his eyes he nods slowly.

He is right, you have killed, and not all of them were deserving of their fate.

Cadrius shakes his head and then the prisms of light cause a brief flash in his blue eyes. Dazed by the brilliance he takes a moment for his eyes to clear, the faint shadows of the prisms blazed across his vision. He blinks once and his vision is clear.

"What-" he begins before shutting his mouth again, the muscles in his jaw clenched. Somethings are best left unexplained.

As the man instructs him to lie to any guards that might come by Cadrius frowns for a moment, but he has little time to think as the aforementioned guards arrive quickly.

What? You're gawking at telling a lie? After all you've done, after every person that you have hurt, you hesitate to lie. What was the dwarf to you anyway?

I suppose so...something is not right here. I must learn more before I can make a judgement.


He looks back up at the guards and says, "No, I-I don't know who it was. It happened so fast. I just saw a brown cloak. That's all."

Gralhruk 25th of April, 2002 11:50

She watches the exchange below, flinty eyes inscrutable. She is frozen, motionless, a part of the dull brick around her.

What purpose do they have? I would have guessed the armored one would sooner turn me over for justice, and yet there he stands lying on my behalf. At behest of the grey one.

She stares at Whonan more closely, wondering what is going on behind those grey eyes so like her own. She should be grateful and yet she feels nothing. Well, almost nothing.

WhoNAN 25th of April, 2002 23:40

Whonan smiles at the guard again toying with something in his clenched hand...

"I can only assume they're heading that way." He points down the road past the alley, away from the tavern.

"We thought we should check this alley just in case... but no luck."

He again smiles.... and the guards hesitate looking at one another.

"We couldn't catch up with them, perhaps you'll be able to, but I would hurry if I were you."

Again the guards look at one another, and the moment they turn to each other, the dancing lights sparkle for a brief second around the Grey eyed man, Silver specs flaring amidst the grey only for that brief moment.

The word -"hurry"- must have sparked something in the guards mind, because at about the same time they sprint off down the road past the alley, without as much as a -thank you-.

Whonan simply stares at them as they hustle down the street around the corner and out of sight. Stepping into the alley he looks up to the overhang.

"Good, you're still here.... we should probably be leaving?" He states questioningly as the answer is obvious to him, but perhaps he is wrong. Out of his satche he pulls a beautiful Grey Cloak with intricate embroidering in a silver and black weave. "Someone else may have seen you, it might be a good idea to have a change?" Again the answer obvious to him, but perhaps again he is incorrect.

Gralhruk 26th of April, 2002 00:44

Instead of answering, she stands then and her hands grasp the neck of her midnight cloak. Pulling it over her head she twists her hands around and, with a slight flourish, the cloak once again settles into place. Now it is a charcoal grey. Looking closely you can discern that the underside might be deep blue or black.

"This isn't the first time I've needed to disappear."

She lowers herself over the edge and retraces her route -somewhat less hectically than before - and soon stands beside her pursuers. Her stance is a little cocky for one that has just been caught rather easily.

"What is it you would like to discuss?"

WhoNAN 26th of April, 2002 02:05

Returning the grey cloak to his pack... Whonan merely beams.

"For starters, exactly why didn't I -see- you kill that man, and why did you kill him in the first place... in broad daylight, in a crowded room none the less. You should for all means and purposes should be dead or in the jail right now.... -this- intrigues me."

His eyes light up at meeting hers except now the silver-grey hue has changed to match that of her cloak.... still beaming... still exmaning. Those who would be observant would start to realize that this whole situation was mainly based in Whonan's personal curiousity.

Cadrius 26th of April, 2002 02:39

Cadrius shakes his head, obviously confused and bewildered by everything that has happened, is happening, and will likely happen before the day is over. He listens to the two interact for a moment before saying, "I saw her do it. It was a strange thing, as if the entire world stopped moving except for me...and her. How she managed it does not matter quite so much to me as why it all happened, and more importantly, why I failed point you out to the guards a few moments ago."

The tall man frowns obviously troubled by this last point, but he does not continue and stands still, staring out into space.

Why did I do that? I...I don't know. This is happening too fast, I am not certain what I should be thinking.

Gralhruk 26th of April, 2002 23:04

She regards her interragators quizzically for a moment and adjusts her cloak. Looking first to Whonan and then Cadrius she clears her throat before looking off into the distance.

"You are correct: how it was accomplished matters little, as I am not capable of reproducing the effect. I am puzzled as to why you were not affected but the one who might answer that question is far from here. I cannot answer your other question; perhaps you have a sense about a person's true nature."

Her gaze turns back to Whonan and she shifts uncomfortably. Something about his gaze made her feel uneasy - too sure of himself, maybe.

"I have been tracking the dwarf for many months now. Simply stated, he killed somebody close to me. Somebody with friends. I agreed to find this dwarf and repay him in kind. As for the time and place in which I killed him: that is where and when I found him. Why did I stay in that room instead of fleeing?"

She trails off and her eyes grow distant for a moment but quickly turn flinty once more, as if a steel door slammed shut.

"I wanted to see his death with my own eyes."

WhoNAN 27th of April, 2002 04:22

Whonan glints his gaze back to Cadrius... and smiles returning at once to the woman.

"Fair enough then. I am glad that you have succeeded. Hopefully the karma won't come full circle."

He ponders for a moment, and appears satisfied as possible with the situation.

"If you care to, come with us.... we were preparing to leave town shortly. I must make a stop however before then."

Cadrius 30th of April, 2002 01:11

At the woman's words Cadrius' gaze falls to the ground. He shakes his head slightly and then lifts his eyes again and nods to her saying, "You are indeed lucky that fate did not have another end in store for you."

Revenge is never a good idea, but then again, who am I to tell someone what is and is not good? Not anymore. Not after that. What am I getting myself into? A murderer and some sort of warlock who can read minds? How far I have fallen indeed.

"I suppose that would be wise if we left," Cadrius says slowly as weighing each word carefully. Never letting his eyes leave the exchange between the two before him, he shifts uncomfortably in his armor as if anxious to be gone.

Gralhruk 30th of April, 2002 02:39

As she speaks, the disappointment is apparent on the warrior's face. The mind-reader continues to wear that faintly amused mask she has become used to. Yet both men invite her, a murderer they have only just met, to join them.

Do they think me in debt to them for "rescuing" me from the guard? The guard would not have been aware of me if these two hadn't followed me. Will they turn me in if I refuse? Perhaps. Or perhaps they want to keep an eye on me to see if I merit their help after all. There are worse things I could do than prove myself worthy of such aid.

"That is all? You would like me to join you?"

She eyes them both warily, realizing that she knows as little about them as they do about her.

WhoNAN 30th of April, 2002 03:17

He starts to turn away to leave the dark alley.... only pausing a moment to respond to the woman.

"Yes, that is what I was implying. The choice is of course yours."

And he set off out into the street and down the road a stretch until he comes to a particularly uninteresting alleyway, where at the grey clad man ducks in and makes his way down the legnth of it.... veering off to the left down another alley way a bit before the first dumps out into a field.... finally coming to a steel door in the wall. He turns to see who is behind him before speaking.

"We are guests... please act as such."

Before he takes out a beautifully cut gem from his satchel... and for a moment it glows a bright vibrant aquamarine... and he returns it to a pouch on his belt.

Placing a hand on the door he slowly pushes it open... and motions with a slight gesture for the others to follow. Inside is a dark hallway made of stone with torches on either side and ornate dark wood tables with brass etchings and adornment... all with very unique crystaline sculptures on them.... at the end of the hallway stands another single large steel door.... this one with an ornate carving of a young woman standing with her arms folded and a large sceptor in her left hand.

As the outer door comes shut with no sound at all the outside world seems to be shut out, and an eerie peace is all that can be felt in your mind. Whonan makes his way steadily to the other end and kneels before the door. A faint echo almost too soft to hear can be felt... not like the voice in your minds before... just a faint afterthought of something similiar. After it subsides Whonan again stands and looks back. The door swings open of its own accord and daylight fluids the hall oncce again... and a lush courtyard can be seen off beyond the opening, while your eyes readjust.

Whonan looks back with a smile... "It's alright, you are welcomed."

Cadrius 30th of April, 2002 08:24

Cadrius nods as the woman speaks, asking her question regarding what they wanted. She notices the same sort of tired despair creep back into his blue eyes. This was the same beast that lurked there while he thought the world to have stopped moving. It is the same despair that frequently gets into men who have stayed at sea or been at war too long.

As Whonan leaves the former knight strides off after him, being sure to attempt to lend what cover he can to the woman from any prying eyes that might be about. However the morning is overcast and there is less light to be shed on them than there normally would.

The man frowns as he reminds them to act as such, but he holds his tongue and swallows his pride.

Now I am to be lectured on how to behave? Who does he think me to be? Some sort of child?

Cadrius elects to frown again which seems to be a reoccurring theme with him. Shaking his head and sighing he accepts yet another trick done by Whonan.

"I would know where I am going, especially with your magic involved" he says, appearing uneasy.

Gralhruk 30th of April, 2002 22:15

What an odd pair these two make. The one seems overly burdened by his past, the other doesn't seem overly bothered by anything.

The mystic acknowledges her question and strides off without compelling her to follow. The warrior merely nods at her before following resolutely after the grey one. It would appear she was free to make her own choice; she hesitates only a moment before her mental alley cat gets the better of her. She catches up to the warrior with two quick strides and resists the urge to smile as he hovers protectively over her.

This one is not used to subterfuge. None of the others know who or what they are looking for; all I need do is avoid looking suspicious.

She follows without question; having chosen to tread their path she will accept where they lead her. She is somewhat relieved when the warrior asks about their destination, though. As nice as the information would be, it is even nicer to know that she isn't the only one in the dark.

WhoNAN 30th of April, 2002 23:30

As he takes a step through the door into the courtyard beyond, he replies.

"To whom, not where... where is not important."

He looks at them generally peaceful.... but with a look of concern, knowing the situation is definatly odd for them.

"I must visit my mother before leaving."

And strides off down the center of the spacious garden... white marble walls surround the lush garden of shade trees and deep green grass.... blocking out the outside world, however occassionally with a door way to give a glimpse of orchards outside. Hr continues through an arch to a smaller area with a beautiful three tiered fountain standing in the middle of it and on the otherside, the side walls meet with a roof, and four pillars act as a front door to the dwelling, standing tall and proud with nothing more to stop the light breeze from floating in to the home.

THe three women that Cadrius saw before step out in a slightly excited hurry... now in light flowing dresses of light flowing silk that dance in the breeze.. of their respectful, usual, colors for each. With the arrival each steps up gives and receives a kiss before the eldest speaks.

"She's been expecting you." Her eyes flick to the people accompanying him for a moment... and she questions Whonan with another look of her eyes.

"These two will be traveling with me. Cadrius, this is Ember and her sisters Anna and Jasmine.... and I don't believe I ever cought your name." He turns for the last comment to the woman.

Gralhruk 1st of May, 2002 00:01

She had wondered when she would learn the names of her companions, and wondered as well when they would get around to asking her name. Her response comes quickly and she doesn't blink as she delivers it.

"You may call me Gralhruk."

The name of a dead dwarf, as both of them probably already knew. Doubtless it would cast more suspicion on her in their minds but she was not yet ready to give up her true name. She wondered if the grey one -as yet unnamed- could pluck it from her mind, and then put that thought out of her head.

"Although many people simply call me Shade."

Cadrius 1st of May, 2002 08:20

The man's eyebrows suddenly rise and a look of surprise intermingled with embarassment crosses his face. A bit of red colors his cheeks and he immediately says, "My apologies, I should have introduced myself to begin with. I am Cadrius. Gralhruk? Shade? I do believe Lady Shade sounds a touch bit better than that dwarven one."

He gives a short, uncertain bow, as if he is not sure how much courtesy he should afford the assassin. Straightening he smiles, the first one to reach him that day, and says, "Indeed ladies, I do believe we met last night. I trust you are on the mend," he inquires of the woman who had been ambushed by the orcs and the wyvern just twelve hours earlier.

"Either way it is a pleasure to see you again," that said he bows, a deeper one than before. While he is not sure what form of witches that they might be, he does know that they are for the most part good people. That and they haven't been connected with any temporal stasis combined with assassination.

Gralhruk 1st of May, 2002 22:54

She notes his displeasure with her use of her fallen enemies name and files that information away. She nods at his choice -Lady Shade- and only thinks briefly how inappropriate the honorific is. Coupled as it is with his brief bow, she wonders what station this man had once held; clearly one where courtesy was the order of the day.

"As you would have it, Lord Cadrius."

She empahasizes the word 'Lord' slightly, almost questioningly, wondering if she is demoting him. She is unused to such courtesy and it flatters her slightly. That is, until she sees the smiles he has for the other women and realizes that his tolerance of her is forced, at best.

You are, of course, merely an assassin to him.

"Good day Ember, Anna, Jasmine; and thank you for accepting me as a guest. I am most indebted to . . ."

She looks questioningly at the mystic, still not knowing his name.

Cadrius 2nd of May, 2002 09:52

As the woman speaks her reply Cadrius turns back and looks at her a moment. His eyes stare intently and he angles his head to one side as if trying to discern any mockery in her voice. Eventually deciding that there is none to be had he says, a note of sadness in his voice, "Nay Lady Shade, Cadrius will suffice," he looks a moment longer before returning back to the mystic and his sisters.

Gralhruk 2nd of May, 2002 22:53

She nods, her eyes serious, as he rebukes her gesture. That was twice he had scorned her; it was good she had thick skin but she couldn't resist a small jab of her own. She manages to keep her voice neutral, even manages to avoid stressing his name, as she replies.

"As you would have it, Cadrius."

He hadn't missed her use of the dwarf's name; he wouldn't miss that she used the exact same phrase as before, only stripped of the honorific. She guessed he'd been stripped of that title or some other - it explained his bearing and manners as well as his despair. She knew something of loss as well and she knew the truth that he was obviously avoiding. Some things you lose you can't get back.

Cadrius 7th of May, 2002 03:00

Although he does not turn back to face her, Shade notices a tightening of his lips, and a clench of his jaw. Clearly he understood and recognized exactly what she meant as she spoke. He nods wearily as if he had expected nothing different and awaits Whonan to see his mother.

Looking around he murmers quietly, "What a beautiful place you have here."

Gralhruk 7th of May, 2002 23:13

Instead of feeling good that her barb hit home, the woman is disgusted with herself. In truth, she owed them both for not turning her in; they deserved her thanks rather than her scorn. Instead of proving her worth she seemed determined to find their tolerance level.

These men accept your situation and invite you to travel with them and this is how you repay them. Push them harder and perhaps they will have done with you.

"It is indeed lovely."

WhoNAN 8th of May, 2002 03:04

Ember interupts the following silence....

"Mother is waiting..."

The way she speaks is not authoritative it is more of caring then anything else.... the Grey eyed man obviously means alot to her, and she takes his hand as they enter through the arch up a series of about 5 marble stairs into the body of a great welcoming hall with arches similiar to the one passed through on three sides and a series of three arches near the beack of the room, one leading out two the rear and one in each corner, these into internal room it would seem, although indoors, the hall has many lush plants and fountains addorning it, with beatiful patter of dark and light marble on the floor, swirling in what would seem to be chaos until the roof is observed.... a dome, polished finely to reflect the patters into a sphere that seems almost real, swirling with the same patters making it up.... through the middle archway they proceed, into a long hallway again with the same fountains and open arches going off to the left and right.... the lighting pleasant with no obvious source, just ambient.

At the end of the hallway and through the arch there a tall woman is sitting in a low chair with very comfortable pillows surrounding her... the room with a translucent ceiling, this time showing off the swirling clouds above... not like any clouds that you have ever seen before, much more active, without being violent. The woman tall and lanky, not of human blood, but very similiar.... a very kind look on her face, with minimal signs of age past that of the midpoints for humans... but an aura that one could assume she had been around a lot longer than her appearance would let on.

"Welcome friends." She says with a huge smile and an embrase for Whonan.

"Please sit and stay a while, will you please." Her airy voice floating aloft... with the smells of fruits and citrus in the air... two bowls that you could swear weren't there before are locatted on tables next to a group of lowlying pillowed chairs in front of her.

Whonan takes a seat while the three girls remain standing and motion to Cadrius and Shade to sit, before sitting themselves on pillows infront of their mother.

"Please, tell me about yourselves, and where you might be off to." The woman questions with a look of sincere interest.

Cadrius 8th of May, 2002 07:05

The man nods as Whonan speaks and follows him into the house. His eyes take in every detail around him from the stairs, to the pillars, to the archway, to the marble floor, to the pillows. He nods to himself once as if noting something but quickly refocuses his attention upon entering the chamber containing "mother."

Her features and presence seem to trouble the man, and he does not sit until everyone else has had their seat. He offers a quiet thanks for the seat and settles a bit uncomfortably in the chair next to Shade.

Cadrius 10th of May, 2002 04:54

Upon hearing the woman speak Cadrius frowns a moment before speaking.

"My lady, forgive my rudeness, but I imagine if you have the same gifts such as your son you could pluck whatever you wish from our minds."

He glances around a little uneasily at his surroundings but nods as if sure of himself if not where he is.

"Moreover while it was very polite of your son to offer us shelter here I would in fact like to know where we are. Clearly this spacious place could not be located in the alley that we were in."

He pauses a moment and looks at his feet, not quite ashamed of his boldness, but not entirely impressed either.

"I do apologize and I would be remiss without introducing myself. I am Cadrius, and as to where we are going, well, I think our only goal was to leave town."

Gralhruk 13th of May, 2002 22:45

Shade looks at the ground as Cadrius takes a seat next to her, keeping an eye on him and the grey one with her peripheral vision. Many questions drift through her mind about the strange circumstance she finds herself in, this stranger man and his bizarre 'family'. She is beginning to feel that Cadrius is as much in the dark as she is.

"I am called Shade, and at the moment I have no destination in mind. My business in the immediate area is concluded and I find myself currently between jobs."

She saw no reason to give her true name, almost daring the matriarch to pull it from her mind. She raises her eyes to stare into the deep orbs of her host. The older woman regards her cooly and nods to her statement before voicing a reply.

"Greetings, travellers, and welcome to my abode. As you can see . . ."

The woman continues on about the grounds and buildings and history of the place, but Shade hears none of it. Almost immediately, her attention is diverted to yet another strange voice inside her head. All the while the matriarch's eyes are locked on her own.

-Greetings, Shade. In a way, I have been expecting you.-

Is that so? It was not my purpose to enter your home, nor was it my purpose to come to this town.

-There were . . . signs . . . that one of sufficient awareness can read. Those signs awakened my presence here once again, and led me to request a visit from Whonan and his two trusted companions.-

The grey one? We are his companions by chance only, and I'm sure he doesn't trust me.

She could almost feel the woman smile in her mind. She tried to ask questions, but the strange woman's presence was gone. She had apparently finished her discourse on the mansion as well, for the room was now silent. Shade stood rather stiffly and, without even looking around, beat a retreat to the courtyard outside.

Cadrius 14th of May, 2002 00:41

The older woman's eyebrows arch at the man's outburst, "Indeed. Everything you ask and more shall be answered in due time, but not yet. If we are to be polite then I would be remiss if I didn't take you on a tour of my home," she says using the same words the man had used just a few moments earlier.

Cadrius sighs inwardly, he was getting tired of people using his own words to prove a point. Yet he nods and accepts that for now Whonan and his mother held all the cards.

She then proceeds to do as she says guiding the newcomers along with Whonan in tow as she describes her home. "Greetings, travellers, and welcome to my abode. As you can see it far more spacious than that alleyway might suggest..."

Cadrius quickly loses interest in her kindly rambling. Clearly she was not ready to divulge any information regarding what he found important. He would just have to force himself to be a little more patient.

He lightly drums his knuckles on the inside of his shield as he looks around at the home. It really was a beautiful place despite the unnerving sky. Although he resented not being informed he recognized that he was in fact at the mercy of his host. Being rude would not likely help the situation.

Suddenly Shade makes her way hastily to the courtyard, her steps swift but measured. Cadrius frowns at this uncertain of what could have set the assassin off. He begins to make his way toward her but he quickly hears the old woman's voice in his mind.

-Leave her be, she has her own thoughts to work out.-

The presence within his mind sets Cadrius back leaving him grasping at mental straws for a moment before he can regain his composure.

So, I was right then. You have the same gifts as your 'son.'

-I might.- the old woman replies in his head sensing his frustration.

Why have we been brought here?

-Whonan is needed, as are you, as is Shade.-

For what purpose?

-I did say all would be revealed in good time.-

And with that the woman is gone from his mind. Cadrius shakes his head slowly but appears resigned to his fate. He nods and continues to stand remaining quiet with his eyes lowered.

Gralhruk 15th of May, 2002 03:46

Shade bursts out into the sunlight and stops in the middle of the grassy yard, drawing deep breaths of the clear air. Looking up at the sky she winces slightly, as the bright light reflects off of the white scar that runs beneath her eyes. Feeling rather exposed, she moves off to one side of the courtyard beneath the shade of the trees there and crouches down against the wall.

What have I gotten myself into?

She had come here of her own free will and she could leave the same way. Or could she? The door she had entered through was gone. She squinted down at the ground, noting the prints she, Cadrius, and Whonan had made when they arrived. They ended in a blank stretch of wall. She made a mental note of that location for future reference.

She didn't like the idea that the woman had known she was coming; Shade hadn't even known. It implied somewhere that she wasn't in control of her own fate, and that bothered her greatly. Absently scanning the lawn, she noted another set of prints. This one came from the orchards beyond, not from the house like that of the three sisters. A light print, and small. Probably another female. With a brief glance back at the house, she started off toward the orchard following the unknown tracks.

Megamieuwsel 17th of May, 2002 14:48

Meanwhile , back at the Inn......
 
The blue-clad sorcerer still sits there , a smile gracing his face , unchanged since his conversation with the grey-eyed one.
In fact : nothing of his stature has changed at all.....

As the ruckus about the dwarfīs death sttles down , the patrons start to notice his odd situation.

"Hey! Whatīs up with him?...."
"Man, looks just like a statue...."
"Hello! Anybody in there?..."
"This guy gives me the creeps! Whatīs going on?..."

Inside Megamieuwsels skull , his mind twists and turns frantically.
He appears to be trapped inside a rigid body. Canīt move , canīt talk , but he sure can think and see and hear....

Whatīs happening? What was that thud? A murder? Who? Why canīt I move?....
His mind struggles to regain control of his body , but to no avail.
People move into his sight , prodding him curiously , trying to find out whatīs wrong with him.

"By the demons of the third Hell! His bodyīs hard as marble!"

The Barkeep wlaks into view , taking a close look into his eyes. Megamieuwsel wants to scream but even his lungs donīt obey to his mond.
"Bad magic is at work here. Weīd better move him to the backroom. Having him here isnīt going to help me running this joint. Somebody give me a hand please..."

What the hell is going on?!?!?
LET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!

Then another "voice" rings in the confines of his mind :
*So you want out?*
A silent laughter , slightly mocking follows.
*I can help you.....*
Who are you?
*Does that matter? Iīm the one that can help you get rid of this frozen state*
You caused this? With what goal? Whatīs your game?
*Now,now....What harsh question to someone that offers help.....
How ungratefull.....
But to answer your questions : No , I didnīt "cause" this ; you did it yourself! Your automatic reaction to the temporal stasis went kind of awkward , so to say...
And my game? Simple : I want to have a little fun , thatīs all...
Now : Shall I set you free , or do you prefer to stay in this state eternally....
Thatīs right : In this state you canīt die ; your body is in a perfect stasis and thus has no need for food and drink. Not even air.
The choice is up to you......*
What choice? I have little and you now that damn well! I havenīt got the faintest clue as to what you expect in return , but I want out! So work your magic.

The voice laughs again : a mental cackle that hints at a mischieveous intention......

*...In return? Nothing , but a little fun , thatīs all. My kind is kinda bored , you know....
Now ; Hang on! Iīm getting you out of here.*

Megamieuwsel starts to percieve a silent humming in his body , thatīs building up slowly , growing stronger , turning into a reverberation , tremors... ītill it feels like his entire body is like a huge bell thatīs just rung.
As it increases in pitch , a warmth from inside is growing into a heat , into an internal inferno......

Then , his corpus starts to move : Arms and legs and body stretch with a jerk and heīs rising , floating two feet above the floor in front of the cowering Innkeep and his patrons.

As the internal inferno and reverberation climb to a climax , his body spins faster and faster , ītill itīs causing a maelstrom of air and dust and small objects.....

Then Megamieuwsel explodes......

The spinning body bursts open and a ball of fire , cold as the deepest pits of chaos erupts from it , engulfing , no: devouring , the Inn and the entire block of houses , itīs in.
This only lasts a fraction of a second , then the sinister explosion implodes , sending a single jet of energy skywards.
The essence of what once was Megamieuwsel is riding it , soaring into the heavens , higher and higher , to where thereīs no air and the cold starlight meets him unhindered.
The world below him shrinks to a ball , a marble , a grain.....

Gralhruk 31st of May, 2002 03:19

As she passes out of the gate into the orchard, Shade notes a slight change in lighting. Everything seems to have a slight blue tinge. Shielding her eyes and staring up, she notes that the sun is also so tinted. Shaking her head she feels a slight shock go through her system, and wills herself to ignore this further strain upon reality.

Afraid of what explanations might come into her mind if she thinks on these seemingly impossible things for too long, she turns her attention back to the trail in front of her. Still there, the footprints wind lazily through the trees. She follows them to the edge of the orchard and into the wild wood beyond.

The mansion is growing rather distant now and the light doesn't seem as odd beneath the dark trees, although that is probably because of the almost palpable murk therein. She is beginning to get uneasy; there is a strange silence here, none of the normal woodland sounds are present. Alternate winds, hot and chilling, stir her dark hair. Goose bumps prickle her skin and she notes a damp, ankle high mist now rises from the ground, tinged with blue.

The trail is more difficult to follow but she follows resolutely, almost startled as it ends abruptly at the base of a great, shaggy tree. One slim hand reaches out to touch the slimy bark. As she does so there is an explosion of flapping and squawking from above as an enourmous blue raven leaps from the branches and quickly flaps away.

Cadrius 3rd of June, 2002 22:41

Cadrius has had enough. He had played along for far longer than most normal people would have, he had even gone beyond his own personal code of courtesy. This Whonan and his extended family were being purposefully vague whenever questioned and he simply no longer wished a part of it. If they wanted his help, they could fill him in, if not then he would take his leave.

Unfortunately despite the irritation building up inside of the man, he is unable to voice it and merely says, "Pardon me, but I fear if I do not get some fresh air that I will pass out. Excuse me."

With that he makes his way back outdoors into the sunlit courtyard. The air is comfortably warm and a light breeze caresses his face. He feels his anger dulled for a moment before shaking his head. As perfect as it seemed, this place was entirely unnatural. The clouds alone proved that.

He stops short as he notices that the door they had passed through is no longer present. A blank, featureless wall with tracks seeming to come from it is all that remains. Cadrius frowns at the sight of this and hoped there was another way out aside from returning to ask Whonan's "mother."

He looks around again and remembers that Shade had just recently made her way out here. He peers into the shadows near the wall and is unable to find her. It is then that he sees the two sets of tracks heading out toward an orchard of some sort. Glancing back at the ones the three had made he notices that one set is Shade's, the other is unfamiliar. However it is largely unlike his own heavy bootprint.

"What has she gotten herself into," he asks in a quiet voice before heading out the gate and toward the orchard.

Gralhruk 10th of June, 2002 22:43

The raven is a large specimen, even for it's species. It's glossy feathers are black tinged with the deepest blue. It is difficult to assess if this is natural or due to the odd lighting effect. It spins a short circle around the tree before landing on a stone outcropping next to Shade. She stares at it, the bird's eyes level with her own.

She can see her own tiny reflection in the glassy black orbs of the creature and for some reason that strikes an uneasy chord within her. It stares back with a force of personality so strong and so knowing that she staggers back a step.

And then she is dreaming. She is in the hot sun, waves of heat shimmering off of the white plains. Looking around, the vastness of the desert is broken only by the occaisional scrub brush or cactus. The heat and the emptiness are familiar to her, and these things she can bear. It is the light that hurts her the most, reflecting off of the sand, blinding her. As she collapses to her knees she can see the blurred outlines vultures circling above. When did she get so thirsty? She opens her waterskin to drink but it isn't water that drips out. Grey and bright, like molten steel, the beads that drip out miss her mouth and land in her eyes instead, then roll to her ears and into her brain. They were speaking, those drops of liquid iron, but they spoke only in riddles. She can barely see now, barely think, and she turns to the west - away from the sun. It looks cooler there and she sees the vague outline of a figure, broken but upright. And then the vulture is in front of her, staring at her with glassy black eyes. It's beak darts forward and she tries to move but she is too slow, like she is underwater. She feels the beak pierce the skin beneath her left eye, sliding across her nose, continuing under the other eye before sliding free with a sheet of blood.

***

Following the tracks through the orchard, Cadrius can see that they angle toward the forest. In the murky mist beneath, he can see a figure staggering forward. A figure draped in a midnight blue cloak. She is mudstained and disheveled, though she appears unharmed. Her eyes are glazed and unseeing though she continues to move forward without incident.


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