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Unread 7th of December, 2015, 20:28
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Chapter 0: Once there was a Maiden...

7th of Resplendent Air, RY 768
12 Days East of the Varang/Harborhead Border -- Morning

It's all going too smoothly.

As Ehar walked down the road underneath the light of his Patron the nagging feeling that something had to go wrong soon simply refused to leave. With winter approaching the sweltering heat of the South was giving way to a pleasant warmth. The travelers along the road had been both courteous and willing to not ask awkward questions. There was no sign of pursuit from any of the Realm Garrisons scattered about, and none of the legionnaires who passed had given him a second look.

Which was fine really. But it did make the nagging feeling persist. And all the more annoying when it was proven right.

Up ahead a curious glow was showing over the edge of a small hill, despite the sun having moved up into the sky hours previous. Just as the glow grew into a bonfire of light, and recognition bloomed inside Ehar, a group of travelers came running over the top of the hill; their screams of panic matched the expressions they wore.

"ANATHEMA! RUN, IT'S AN ANATHEMA!"

Barreling past without even pausing, the terrified mortals spread their panic to those few people who had also been on the road, causing them to turn tail from the unholy glow and run in the opposite direction. Wondering if perhaps it would be wiser to follow, but ultimately letting curiosity grab hold, Ehar charges over the rise of the hill to see a scene of carnage. Bodies lie strewn across the road, a little over two dozen from a quick count, some of them garbed in articles of war but others dressed with only the robes of functionaries or bureaucrats. All of them have a House Mon on them somewhere, indicating them as an official Realm entourage. And standing among them, the glow originating from around and within her, stands a small woman, barely past a girl from the looks of her.

In her hands is a length of wood covered in blood. Her eyes are a milky white. On her forehead, glows the mark of the Forsaken.

Last edited by red_dr4g0n94; 7th of December, 2015 at 20:51.
  #2  
Unread 8th of December, 2015, 08:56
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Ehar surveyed the scene in front of him. It looked like the scene of a grisly murder, the kind that gave Anathema their reputation. A year ago he would have called the guard, roused the Wyld Hunt to the scene. But now... now he felt there was more nuance than that. Now he saw standing in the middle of this carnage what he could only think of as a possible kindred spirit. He took a moment to consider the ramifications of his actions, sighed a deep sigh, and rushed down the hill. When he got close enough to the girl to be heard at a whisper, he spoke, "I am a friend, you are in trouble, and we need to get you somewhere safe. Come with me, I know a place we can lie low for a day or two."

He extended his hand, and waited for her to take it.

Last edited by Daedalus; 8th of December, 2015 at 16:38.
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Unread 8th of December, 2015, 15:50
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Tia remembered the warmth, it enveloped her, kept her safe. She felt like she was a child again, lying lazily in the grass on a summer afternoon. There were sounds in the distance, probably the other children coming to taunt her; she'd deal with them when arrived. For now she wanted to enjoy this warm, safe feeling.

But something was wrong. The air grew dry and the warm feeling began to fade, leaving only a hot, crackling sensation. Her skin itched and her body ached. She thought she heard screams. Tia sat up, only to find she was already standing, her walking stick in her hands. Around her she felt shapeless beings swirl, reaching out to strike her. Tia struck first, swinging her stick in a wide arc, feeling the beings shatter and crumble.

As the screams faded all Tia could heard was a faint voice calling in the distance. "...you are in trouble, and we need to get you somewhere safe. Come with me, I know a place we can lie low for a day or two." The Satrap? No...someone else.

She turned toward the sounds. The warmth was gone now, receding to nothing but a vague feeling in her chest. It would stay there, she knew, it was part of her. Her walking stick was slick and wet, as was her dress. Had she spilled something? The air in front of her shift and she felt movement in front of her. Still suspicious, Tia pulled back and readied her stick, "Who are you? Where's the Satrap?"
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Last edited by red_dr4g0n94; 9th of December, 2015 at 12:14.
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Unread 8th of December, 2015, 16:35
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Ehar shook his head in disbelief as he stumbled back out of striking range of the girl's cudgel. "My name is Ra-... my name is Ehar." he said, then gestured to the corpses around them, "The Satrap is dead, as are nearly a dozen other people. You killed them with that club, I don't know why, and we can settle up any further questions later." Ehar reached out for her hand once again. "The Wyld Hunt will be coming for you soon, and we need to go now."

Last edited by Daedalus; 8th of December, 2015 at 16:39.
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Unread 8th of December, 2015, 17:09
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"The Wyld Hunt will be coming for you soon, and we need to go now," the stranger spoke in flametongue but Tia detected just the hint of a high realmian accent. The Satrap was dead? And why was the wyld hunt coming? What had happened? She stopped and listened. Other than the stranger, Ehar, there were no noises, but she could smell the thick unmistakable scent of blood in the air, and all over her.

Tia lowered her stick, shifting in her hand so it was just a harmless walking stick again. She heard Ehar move closer. "I don't understand, but I also don't want to be here anymore," Tia said as she shuddered. Her hands reached out,groping as she searched for the stranger, finally finding his offered hand, "I warn you, if you're lying about this I'll...just don't..."
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Last edited by TagalongDT; 8th of December, 2015 at 17:09. Reason: minor thematic issues
  #6  
Unread 8th of December, 2015, 17:15
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Ehar cocked his head to one side, confused. How would I be lying? he wondered to himself. But there was no time to talk. He quickly crossreferenced his surroundings with his memorized list of safehouses and hidey-holes, closed his hand around the girl's, and took off, hoping against hope that no one had seen this exchange.
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Unread 9th of December, 2015, 12:41
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7th of Resplendent Air, RY 768
12 Days East of the Varang/Harborhead Border -- Evening

The woman, who had demanded to be referred to as only "Little Brook", opens the door to the warehouse and ushers the two of you inside. Furtive glances and rapid breathing reveal that, while Little Brook herself was willing to help, she held so such confidence in the rest of the villagers who live nearby. "This is where they store the grain and fruits," she whispers nervously. "There shouldn't be anyone coming here till midday, but make sure you're gone before the sun rises again just to be safe."

With that she shuts the door, quietly as possible given its size, and the sound of someone trying to creep away comes from beyond it. Inside crates of various sizes, roughly put together, lay stacked alongside bundles of wheat and bags of flour. Shortly after the sound of Little Brook fades, the brief scurrying of small vermin is heard but other than that quick noise all is quiet except your own breathing. The disappearing light of the sun shines through the various gaps in the wooden warehouse, offering the only source of illumination since the aura had dissipated from around the girl several hours previous.
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Unread 9th of December, 2015, 13:00
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Ehar took stock of his current situation, looking around at the walls to look for weaknesses that could be pushed through should there be a mob later on. When he was satisfied, he hauled himself up on the sturdiest crate he could find, then dug around in his satchel for a piece of hardtack. He snapped it in half, then gave one half to the girl. "Here, eat this," he whispered, "It tastes awful, but we shouldn't impose on our host by eating her food."

Settling back, he took a bite of his half and chewed thoughtfully for a moment before continuing, "Okay, I'm sorry if I sound a bit demanding here, I know you must be confused" Though you don't seem scared, he mused, "but I need to know three things. First, physically, do you need medical aid? Second, mentally, are you okay? Do you know where you are, and what's going on? And third, who are you and why are you here?"
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Unread 9th of December, 2015, 16:58
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Tia gnawed on the offered hardtack as the stranger rattled off his questions. It really did taste horrible, like dust and old wood. Why is he still speaking in flametongue? He was right though, she was confused. Over the hours she'd calmed down, but her confusion hadn't abated. "Confusion is a bit of an understatement." Tia sighed and rubbed her temples, "I'm fine, both physically and mentally. My name is Tia, I was traveling with the Satrap as his...servant. He's dead?" She frowned and shook her head, "Good, he was a bastard. As to where I am and what's going on? I was hoping you could answer those questions."
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Unread 9th of December, 2015, 18:03
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Tia, eh? Well, she seems level enough. Here goes nothing... hopefully. "Alright. This is going to take some explaining, and it might touch on a nerve or two, depending on how you feel about the Immaculate Faith." Ehar paused to gather his thoughts, and his nerves, eyeing the bloodstained walking stick warily. When he started talking again, it was in his own native tongue. Some things are best spoken in the language you speak best. "I don't know much of anything about who you were, but I know who you are now. You and I, we are now what the Immaculates refer to as Anathema. Everywhere we go, for now, people who learn about what we are will think us to be terrible monsters who sold our souls for incredible power."

Ehar pulled up his waterskin and drank, then offered it up to Tia. "They're wrong, though. I still own my soul, and I assume you do as well. I don't know where this power came from, but I know having it doesn't make us monsters. Life is better with a friend, and right now we're both in exile from all of civilized society. So here're your options: We stick together and figure out what this is all about, or we part ways come morning and never see each other again. Choice is yours."
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Unread 10th of December, 2015, 05:41
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Water, water was just what she needed. Tia gulped from the waterskin, she hadn't realized how thirsty she was from the ordeal. As she drank she listened to Ehar explanation. It sounded outlandish, almost insane, and she believed it. She knew it was true, just like she knew the warmth residing in her chest would never leave.

"I believe you. I shouldn't, it doesn't make any sense, but I know you're telling the truth," Tia said as she handed back the waterskin. She was feeling much better now. "Alright, so we're both horrible demons, only we're not. And, I'm assuming we're both exiled from the Realm. When you put it that way sticking together and figuring out what's going on sounds a lot better than separating and dying to the Wyld Hunt."
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Unread 10th of December, 2015, 12:50
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Huh. That went unexpectedly well. "Glad to hear that, Tia. We'll head out in the morning, assuming we don't get attacked by an angry mob in the middle of the night. I've got a spare set of clothes if you need them, they'll be big on you but they'll be better for travelling in than the bloodsoaked clothes you have on. You should try to get some rest, I'll take the first watch tonight." Ehar continued down his mental checklist, trying to figure out what else needed to be said. Tia was taking this all amazingly in stride, which made him curious about her life up to this point, but that was a host of questions for the road. Out of danger is the best place for those sorts of conversations.

Suddenly realizing he had trailed off, he added, "Oh, and if you have any questions about anything, I'll try to answer to the best of my knowledge."
  #13  
Unread 10th of December, 2015, 16:55
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"Who are you exactly? How do you know all this? Why are you here? And not that I had any love for the Immaculate Order, but how are we planning on stopping being anathema?"
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Unread 10th of December, 2015, 17:08
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"My full name is Ragara Ehar. Until a couple weeks ago, I was a drill instructor for future Realm soldiers. Now I'm in exile, but there's a support network I can tap into, so long as I do it sparingly. This whole thing was explained to me by... a very good family friend. When she broke me out of jail. Where I was to wait for execution. For being Anathema. How she knew about it, who told her, I have no idea."

Ehar settled back on his crate. "And we're going to stop being Anathema by getting society to understand that we are a force for good in the world. I don't think we can exactly get rid of the power we've got, so our only choice is to change what Creation thinks of the power we have. Maybe the first step is to come up with a word that doesn't mean 'something dedicated to evil' to describe us. Any thoughts?"
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Unread 10th of December, 2015, 17:38
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Tia sucked her lower lip and lay back against a bag of...something...hard and round, probably a root vegetable by the smell. "No idea. Until today I was just a blind girl that had the audacity to fight back when people pushed her. I think I'd like to just be Tia for awhile."
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Unread 6th of January, 2016, 16:12
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8th of Resplendent Air, RY 768
12 days East of the Varang/Harborhead border -- Early Morning

Morning saw the chill of the night being burned away into a mist that clung around your ankles and feet. The light of your patron is only just beginning to poke over the Summer Mountains so visibility is still somewhat lacking. Under these conditions the two of you sneak out of the warehouse and begin moving away from the village, mist swirling about your feet.

Within the hour the mist dissipates and no trace of your passage remains. The village inhabitants begin the start of their day, unaware of the important events that had transpired during the night....
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