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Unread 16th of September, 2004, 10:59
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Chapter 1 : Time for Heroes

The eerie blue moonlight of the common orb spills down on Edinway. The hour is late, and most alehouses have finally closed their doors and expelled a gaggle of drunkards which rapidly disperse into the night, silence reigns and the city sleeps.

Or at least most of it does. A man who would much rather still be drunk continues to walk the cold streets. His boots click on the stones and he can see his own breath before him. Closing his eyes the young man sighs, he had wandered for at least an hour now and the cold night had stolen the warmth provided by his experiment in a small tavern he had located. He knew it wasn't this far to the inn at which he had stayed for the previous two nights, but he had been distracted. Thoughts of the past would not leave him and the drink had further dispersed his thoughts. Although, that wider street looks vaguely familiar...

Not so far away, still grumbling under his breath a dwarf walks down the cold streets of Edinway. The city had made a poor first impression upon him. The stout cleric had arrived when the sun still clung to the cloudy sky but only just made it through the gate. He knew that the guards stopped everyone, making sure no one was trying to sneak in to the city with intentions of remaining on a long term basis. He even knew that he would attract extra attention. As big as Edinway was, it still had a tiny minority of populace that were non-human. He had been searched, questioned, searched again, made to wait in the tiny gatehouse and so on. It had lasted for hours and finally he was pointed in without so much as an apology or an excuse. All this just to try and leave his past behind.
His thoughts are distracted by his horse blowing warm, moist air into his ear, together they had travelled across much of the island of Bashir. The blueish moonlight falls on the rows of crampt together houses with their dark windows, as he scans for a place to spend his first night in Edinway...

An overhead observer would notice that the man and the dwarf were walking toward one another. The same observer would notice an additional pair heading toward these two from a third direction. The two men from across the sea stride with purpose despite not knowing where they are going. Despite the late hour they had managed to convince the gate guards that not granting passage within would grant no end of problems. Savages they may have been, but they were claiming to be related to the Savage King and one had quite a way of putting things that really made it seem like they had no choice but to make an exception to the "No one enters or leaves after the gates are closed for the night" rule. Through the gate they had come and along dark streets they now wandered.
The Czar himself had requested that the elder of the pair venture to the mainland to put right whatever the mainlanders had wronged. To return the Red Moon and free the land of lingering spirits. Arguing with the Czar was never a wise course of action and so the Elder had agreed. Arguing with one's father is also never a wise course of action, and so the Elder of the pair was accompanied by the younger. The younger who would learn what it was to be a man in pursuit of the quest. It was made quite clear he would learn what it meant to be a man of the Aart, the alternative was simple : He would never return. To most, sending two men to solve the blight afflicting the world was quite simply silly. Possibly the men themselves knew this, possibly they didn't. But this wasn't a situation in which they had any choice...

The foursome walked toward one another, each path unaware of the two others. The three paths which meet at a small intersection. The small intersection has a house on the corner. A small two-storey house that leans out over the road.

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish when something is the work of Istus and when it is mere coincidence. Perhaps there is only fate and everything happens for a reason, or maybe the reverse is true and the Goddess holds no power over the paths of men. Such debate can be saved for another place and time, however, as at the exact moment that the four caught sight of one another the silence was broken.

One scream, than another. Both female, both from the second floor of the leaning house. The upper floor window is quickly illuminated by the flickering light of a fire.

Without time to form a single clear thought, the three men, a dwarf and a horse find themselves at the door of the leaning home. A large window shows a simple but small family room and kitchen and a flight of stairs leading upwards. At the top it is possible to see a room rapidly filling with smoke and the shifting oranges of a spreading fire.
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Unread 16th of September, 2004, 12:02
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"Hello!! Are you Alright!!"

Meleaga's words are slurred and loud as he calls to the women in the home which is now alight. He motions to bust down the door, looking to the 3 other gentlemen standing by him.

"Perhaps a hand..."
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Unread 16th of September, 2004, 12:09
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"That was interesting." Says the taller, broader of the two figures as they make their way through the chilly night-time streets. "A trick I think you may have to teach me in the future. I've seen men pass through guards at a gate by force of arms, before, but never with mere words."

The words are thickly accented; clipped and gutteral, marking the speaker as a Northman. He is clad in richly ornamented but evidently servicable armour and wears an over-sized sword at his hip, it's pommel close to hand and obvious enough to warn any local thugs to stay away from these particular travellers. A wolf-tail plumed helmet tied at his hip and a gold-brocaded cloak completes the image of an experienced warrior from a noble Aart family.

As the pair approach a junction, two more travellers are visible; a man and a Dwarf to the left and the right. The warrior's hand strays closer to his sword pommel.

Suddenly, from one of the strange, tall, southerner houses at the junction come two screams. The man breaks into a run, arriving at the door at the same time as the southern man and Dwarf. Smelling smoke, the Aart-man stoops to the gutter, swiftly soaking most of his cloak in the murky water running there before turning his attention to the door. "You! Dwarf! Help me with this door!" he calls in a commanding tone, applying an armoured shoulder to the timbers and depressing the latch as he shunts his weight against it.
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Unread 16th of September, 2004, 14:01
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"You! Dwarf! Help me with this door!"

Swires gives the solid door a quick terse look and then makes a hueh sound in the back of his throat that could be interpreted as a grunt of assent. unslinging his shield from his horse he trots off into the darkness. Then with a rather off pitch dwarven yodel comes speeding out of the night with the shield held out in front and body nearly horizontal like a short squat ugly bullet. The cry ends with a resounding thud as the body and shield impact the oak door.
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Unread 17th of September, 2004, 09:05
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The more slight of the two forigners splits from the taller and moves for the window hand over brow to the window to observe the layout of the room and to determine the source of the flames.
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Unread 17th of September, 2004, 09:29
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Gredin stands idle peering in through the window while Meleaga the mage calls for attention. Luckily Gredin's older brother and Swires the dwarf are on hand to actually do something which may save lives.

The dwarf charges and strikes the door firmly with both body and shield. Despite the thickness of the wood it splinters around the lock and opens leaving the Dwarf recoring his bearings in the main room of the small home.

There isn't much time to reflect upon the contents of the room, up the stairs a fire has started to rage. Smoke floods down the stairs blocking everything but the orange glow of flames. Aside from the crackle of fire, a vague shuffling can be heard. It sounds like someone is moving on the floor above, although any specific details are hard to make out due to the growing crackles of burning wood. A series of coughs punctuate the shuffling sounds, not suprising considering the quickly accumulating smoke
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Unread 17th of September, 2004, 09:46
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Gredrin follows his brother's example dreanching his cloak in water before entering the house immediately running up the stairs his eyes watering as the smoke stings his eyes
His voice has a degree of calm as he calls. "Where are you!"
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Unread 17th of September, 2004, 10:07
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Wrapping his sodden cloak around mouth and nose, Harald stomps up the stairs in the wake of his younger sibling, trusting that the Dwarf will follow him.
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Unread 17th of September, 2004, 10:40
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Swires does indeed follow the Aartian man up the stairs and into the room beyond.
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Unread 17th of September, 2004, 11:44
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"I would just get in the way..."

Melaega moves out into the street looking up to the window. He feels useless...unable to help, or unwilling...he cannot be certain.
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Unread 17th of September, 2004, 20:51
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The three rush upstairs into the smokey upper chamber. Anything further than a few inches away fades into a grey and orange blur. The two men of the Aart with their wet cloaks to protect them from the fumes and the stout dwarf relying on his stubborn physiology to protect him.

A clumsy and brief search reveals there is glass on the floor and almost everything else in the room seems to currently be burning. The heat of the growing blaze provides stark and almost welcome contrast from the bitter cold of night.

It doesn't take long to locate two bodies lying on the wooden floor. Pelor's dwarvern servant hoists one on to his shoulder and sets off down the stairs, back in to the blue night, his superior dwarvern strength allows him to easily carry the small form. The brothers find and carry the second larger form between them. On their descent a beam cracks and drops ploughing directly through the staircase, but with two to help carry the load the circumnavigate the problem and meet the other pair outside.

The two bodies are laid on the floor and the dwarf finds himself instinctivly kneeling on the ground beside them. A man and woman, most likely husband and wife. Luckily due to the speed at which the group acted the effects of smoke inhalation will most likely be minor. Both however have suffered additional injuries.

The husband lies on the cold cobbles and it becomes clear to all that he is already dead and seemingly not through the fire which continues to spread through the house. Several stab wounds mark his body, most likely from a short weapon such as a dagger. Blood continues to ooze from his body, sinking between the cobbles and appearing black under the moonlight. The two men from the northern isle become aware of his blood on their hands and clothing during their attempted rescue of him

His partner is more fortunate, and she pushes herself upward into a sitting position almost immediately and without aid. For a while she simply coughs every time she attempts to speak but after a short period she manages words,
"Celeste! They took her! *cough* How did they even know?"
She looks at the dwarf with tears in her eyes and suddenly it seems she notices the full extent of what has happened. She falls sideways on to her husband's body and begins to sob loudly.

Meleaga turns sideways in time to notice a large man with a club in his hand and his mouth open ready to speak a little way away. He is dressed only in his winter bed clothes. Before the wizard can react, the man glances upwards and notices the smoke pouring from the building. Before the wizard can give any kind of signal to his fellows, the man shouts at the top of his lungs,
"FIRE! FIRE!"
The sound bounces around the near empty streets athough it was easily loud enough to wake those in nearby homes.

Looking from the fire to the group clustered around the man and wife, the club-wielding man reaches a decision. Advancing with great caution he waves his weapon,
"You! Get away from her! What have you done!? What have you done!?"

In response to the accusations, the sobbing widow gets slowly and unsteadily to her feet before charging toward the man with the club. He catches her with one arm and hugs her. She cries loudly into his chest and then pulls back to speak,
"No. They saved me and tried to *sob* save my *sob* my *sob* He's dead! *sob*"
She returns to burying her face in his chest and the man drops his club, he looks at the body and then at the four stood around the body in the street. The fire above has started to provide orange flecks of colour to the scene of blue.
"I'm Sorry. But it looked like ...We can sort this out later. I have to stop the fire catching."

More of the locals have started to appear in the cold street now. The large man carefully sets down the woman on the street and bellows an order to the scattering groups of confused city dwellers,
"Everyone get buckets. We'll form a chain from the pump. NOW!"
The silent confusion is instantly replaced by a flurry of activity. For now no one pays attention to the new widow or her slain husband, if the fire is allowed to spread it could end up destroying a large section of the city. Destruction of homes is not something which Edinway could survive
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Unread 18th of September, 2004, 00:46
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Once more...I fail

Meleaga although a little clumselly, trys to help the effort to fight the fire in any way he can. Albeit ferrying water to the fire...whatever; he feels obligated to help in some way...after his hesitation to enter originally.
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Unread 18th of September, 2004, 03:02
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Harald's first instinct is to help the crowd of people trying to save their homes. The people of Aart know only too well the dangers of fire. There was, however, something else that needed attention first.

He clapped a gauntleted hand on his younger brother's shoulder. "Gredrin! You are better with words than I. See if you can find out from her who this Celeste is, and who took her and where. Whoever it was can not be far from here and we may be able to catch them."
"And Gredrin;try to do it without making the poor woman any more upset than she is now."

Harald himself then heads towards the club-wielding man, to ask him the same question.
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Unread 18th of September, 2004, 06:51
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Gredrin nods and returns the clap on the shoulder before walking to the woman.
He crouches down to look her in the eyes attempting to calm her before asking his questions.
"Who is Cleleste? Your daughter? If you know who took her and where they were going we may be able to catch them and return her to you! But only if we can act now. Please!"
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Unread 18th of September, 2004, 09:02
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Swires jogs over to the pump in the street a short distance away and begins to pump energeticially putting his muscles to good use providing water to douse the flames.

'mutter' "Bloody humans and their bloody wooden houses. Poeple make cooking fires with wood. What should that tell you? Right."
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Unread 20th of September, 2004, 20:31
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The group splits with half rushing to be involved with the bucket chain and pumping and the two Aart men searching for clues to what happened to cause the fire and the seemingly connected murder.

Harald strides toward the man who has now dropped his club to take his place in the line of men and women passing buckets back and forth toward the fire. Before he can get out a pair of syllables the man opens his own mouth,
"Now is not the time for talking. Either help or get out of the way. We aren't losing the whole neighbourhood tonight"

Gredin has slightly more luck with the woman they rescued moments ago, her eyes are still filled with tears although she has stopped crying outwardly. The shock and confusion of recent events seem to have taken all of her strength. With a nod she attempts to answer the questions of the rogue,
"Yes, our daughter."
As she begins to speak the tears in her eyes decide to leave her eyes behind and her speech becomes harder to understand and punctuated with more sobbing,
"But *sob* not really. We jus' found her. Outside out house *sob* She was like a child to us though *sob* We never could have our own. So innocent *Sob* Never let her out on her own, had to keep her covered up best we could *sob* when we did. Otherwise... *sob* Otherwise... This might happen. *sob* *sob*. Men came through the window and took her and *sob* they *sob* He's dead! Gone forever!"
The woman falls back into her loud wailing

By this time the first buckets filled with water have arrived at the house. The three men who stand inside the blazing house do their best to fight the flames and it seems they are gradually winning. no doubt in some part to the superior dwarvern strength manning the pump and the feeble wizard's work in the bucket chain itself
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Unread 22nd of September, 2004, 03:03
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Despairing of ever getting the arrogant southerner to listen, Harald gives up with a snarl of disgust and heads towards the house, intending to search for tracks or clues about the identity of the attackers and where they might have headed.
Although Harald's upbringing has taught him enough of fieldcraft to catch his supper in the snowy plains of Jedaart, he doubts that he will have as much success tracking men across hard stones.
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Unread 27th of September, 2004, 09:03
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While the world the world around Harald focuses on other issues, the northerner picks on of the two flanking streets at random and takes a good number of paces with eyes searching for anything which may be a clue.

Glancing upwards at the dense cluster of buildings it seems that the kidnappers-cum-murderers could have easily arrived at their target building through any number of rapidly diverging paths. Each building seems to have been constructed entirely independantly and to fit in to whatever gaps the neighbouring structures provided, as such the rooftops provide a sloping irregular path for any enterprising and agile individual. The occasional archway over the cobbled streets provides further possibilities of the direction in which Celeste was taken.

Upon making this unsettling discovery it seems clear that any further searching of streets level would be futile at best. Looking down at his stout boots the large man turns around and notices something between two cobbles by his right foot. A large black feather. Harald had learnt much of the wilds during the course of his life so far, a detailed study of all creatures feathered was however not something he could ever claim to have conducted. To the Aart warrior it is merely an odd feather fallen from above.

With renewed interest he scans the ground before him and notices another on the other side of the street.
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Unread 27th of September, 2004, 21:26
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Harald stoops and collects the feathers. Unfamiliar as he is with birds, he is sure that such large feathers would come from a bird not normally found within the confines of a city. He turns and heads back to the blaze, inspecting the feathers as he walks. It seems likely to him that the mysterious men would have made their escape along the roof-tops rather than risk the road, indeed, the presence of broken glass on the floor of the upper room suggests to him that the assailants entered through the upper, rather than lower window.

To the bulky, unagile warrior, approaching a house along the city's roof-tops, entering through an upper window and then leaving the same way, with a struggling, terrified child as a burden, suggests uncommon skill. Although my brother might have some experience in such endevours...
A shiver runs up Harald's spine as a second option presents itself. Perhaps magic was used here? He had seen the Doom-sayers and crazed Wizards of his homeland often accompanied by large black birds. Maybe there was one such magicker here?

Harald raises a hand to brush his fingers against his iron mail, in a superstitious gesture to ward against evil, and glances suspiciously at the roof-tops.

Returning to the blaze, he quickly confides his suspicions to his brother. "Find out from her what the child looked like and why these men would go to such lengths to take her." he instructs before heading for the bucket chain to do what he can until the fire is doused.
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Unread 29th of September, 2004, 03:30
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Gredrin takes the feather from his brother not wanting any further damage to come to the only clue from the rigors of a bucket chain, and examines it for a moment before turning back to the destraut woman.

"If we're going to find celeste and bring her back to you we need to know what she looks like, and we also need to know why these people wanted her?"
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Unread 29th of September, 2004, 04:21
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With his brother joining the task of finishing off the remenants of the fire, Gredrin tries once more to console the widow and extract any further information,
"She's different that's why. Different from you and us all. If anyone *sob* knew about her they'd either take her and put her in a cage or kill her as a monster *sob* *cough*. That... That... the feather! It's hers!"
With a start the widow tries to stand but finds it all rather too much and has to allow Gredrin to catch her as she falls into a coughing fit.

Moments after Harald took up the front line of fire-fighting, all that is left of the blaze is the damage it caused and the lingering cloud of smoke. The bucket chain quickly breaks up, altohugh it doesn't seem anyone has much idea of what to do next. Meleaga and Swires find themselves stood beside Harald while his brother comforts the woman whose life they rescued from the fire in the leaning house on the corner.
"Please. Please *sob* Try and find her for me. I'll give you everything *sob* Just make sure that nothing... that they don't ... *sob*"

The man who organised the bucket chain joins the group and helps the widow to her feet,
"Come on then Annie, you can stay at mine. We'll sort all this mess out in the morning."
Turning the woman away from the corpse of her dead husband a number of men swiftly approach and pick it up to be carried of the street. After a few steps down the street, the large man props her against a wall and goes back to retrieve his club from the ground. With the club in hand he walks to within a foot of the four strangers and whispers to them,
"I don't know who you are and I'm not sure I rightly care. You helped out but who is to say you didn't start it? I don't trust any of yous, but if you are involved I'd suggest that you either get this sorted out or you get out."
With his piece said he turns and takes hold of the widow once more. A few more feet and he vanishes isnide one of the closely packed houses.

The community that clubbed together to quench the flames have started to gather around the four and the burnt out home. Most look with sad eyes toward the charred wood, not seeing the three men and a dwarf, but each catches a number of suspicious glances, more than an even share at directed toward Swires
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Unread 29th of September, 2004, 08:52
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"well, you lot find out anything about the cause of all this?" 'picks nose' "What was that woman going on about the feather belonging to the girl? Belonging to a bird that belongs to the girl I can understand. But while I may not be an expert on humans i've seen enough to know enough to say they don't normally have feathers."
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Unread 29th of September, 2004, 09:05
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"Then you answered your own question...she probably isnt human, or only partially so."

Meleaga who has been mostly sticking to the back of the group for the short ammount of time they have been together moves forward to examine the feather.

"May I see it?"

(OOC: I will make an Intelligence +4, Knowledge Arcana or Planes Both +9 check to see if I can identify this feather.)
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Unread 29th of September, 2004, 10:00
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Harald growls and stamps his feet impatiently. The arrogant southerner had wound him up, and he was aware that although in Jedaart he could cut the man down for his impudence, such an action might not go down so well over here.

He points towards the street the feather came from. "I found it over there." He states in an excerable accent, "Unless any of you saw anything, then it seems that the murderers escaped across the roof-tops."
"I care nothing for this town; a man has been murdered and a child has been stolen and the southerners care only for property, and leave the solving of their problems to us."

Harald spits emphatically into the embers and touches his mail again.
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Unread 30th of September, 2004, 00:21
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BigRedRod
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To Meleaga the feather is just a feather. A large black one. Nothing that the wizard notives reveals anything unusual about it apart from it's slightly increased size. Creatures of greater size and power are not unknown to him and he is well aware that some Druids keep such animals
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