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  #176  
Unread 25th of September, 2002, 16:44
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As the crossbow bolt thunks into the ground next to the paladin, he is trading parries with the gnoll that first struck him. Seemingly unconcerned about the actual outcome of the battle -- almost as if it was a foregone conclusion -- he begins to speak, though it is not apparent who he is addressing.

"Heironeous is my armor. His will protects me from harm."

The last gnoll rushes across the clearing, vaulting over the burning husk left by the blind man's spell, and driving its axe into the paladin's side. The force of the swing, backed by the gnoll's momentum, forces the paladin back several steps.

[[OOC: Hits with a 15+2+3=20; 6+2=8 damage.]]

As the paladin falls to one knee by the blow, he uses the downward momentum to roll forward, coming up with an underhanded swing that catches the beast right in the crotch. With a cry of fury, the paladin lifts the gnoll off the ground and flings it over his his head.

"Heironeous is my strength. His fury smites my enemies!"

It crashes into a tree, where it catches on a thick branch that was sticking in that direction. Most of the branch splinters off in a shower of wood, but a significant portion was sturdy enough to impale the creature, the force of the impact driving it all the way to the trunk.

[[OOC: My attack hits with a 20+7=27; critical damage (automatic success with bless weapon): 3+4, 1+4, 7+4=28.]]

The paladin spins around to face his third assailant, the one that chopped into his shoulder. It brings its axe in close, attempting to catch his warhammer. For a moment, the two weapons lock, and the gnoll lets loose a howl of triumph.

Triumph turns to fear when the weapon that goes sailing into the trees is the gnoll's axe.

"Heironeous is my shield. His courage is before me, turning doubt aside."

[[OOC: Gnoll's disarm attempt: Roll 2+3=5; my reversal attempt: 14+7=21. His STR check: 3+2=5; mine: 15+3=18.]]
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  #177  
Unread 26th of September, 2002, 02:50
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To the Dogcave!

Cadrius nods in acknowledgement of Shade's silent gesture. The torch would be vital in the cave and with the sword on loan from Paladin there is no way he could also carry the torch. He takes a steadying breath before setting foot within the dark cave. He had faced worse things before, so why is he so nervous now? The fallen paladin is unable to put his finger on it but he definitely has a bad feeling about this cave.

The flames of the torch flicker and dance, causing shadows within the cave to pick up an identical rhythm. The stench is stronger in here, as if a pack of wild dogs had decided to mark each and every inch as their territory. Cadrius' lip curls slightly in disgust as he inhales the foul odor.

There are a few furnishings in the opening. A bear skin rug stretches across the floor, its mouth yawning terrifyingly wide as the torch and shadows play across it. The man looks down once and places his mailed boot firmly upon the rug's backside before moving on and through the hide curtain separating them from the next room.

Some crude furniture is strewn about the room. The walls also have a fair amount of color to them. Cadrius takes a step closer and examines them only to find that they are paintings of some sort. There are dark figures that can only be gnolls locked in combat with some much larger creature. It seems to be humanoid. Shaking his head Cadrius looks around again. Two exits, one to the left and one to the right.

He shrugs and moves through the opening on the left. As soon as he does he moves immediately to the right, allowing Shade's torch to fully illuminate the room and allowing her to enter as well.

Suddenly there is a sharp cry emanating from directly behind Cadrius. He whirls around, the great sword already raised, only to find a dark bird in a cage staring at him contemplatively. This must be Shirvel, Cadogan's pet. Cadrius grumbles quietly to himself, he wishes it had found a better way of alerting them to its presence.

Shade moves further into the room and sees a variety of objects strewn about in piles. Armor, weapons, a few nondiscript leather bags, and a partly rotting wooden chest. As she moves further into the room there is a quiet, but very deep growl.

Both Cadrius and Shade whip around to see a pair of red eyes glowing in the darkness outside the door. Then it emerges with a howl, the biggest gnoll Cadrius has yet to see. Muscles bulge as it swings a rather large sword in an overhand chop at the woman.

"Shade!" Cadrius screams as he throws himself between the her and the gnoll as he brings up the greatsword with all his strength.

Steel meets steel and there is a flash of sparks as the two blades collide. Both combatants have both hands upon the hilts of their respective blades and their forarms are almost touching as they fight for dominance. They are close enough for Cadrius to smell the foul breath of the gnoll, to feel the spittle hit him in the face.

He then notices something that sends a fresh wave of anger through him. The hilt of the gnoll's sword, it has a symbol, specifically a symbol of a fist grasping a lightning bolt. The gnoll is using his sword. Suddenly nothing else seems to matter, his wounds, his situation, nothing. Only that the gnoll has dared to wield his sword as its own.

Cadrius screams, a mixture of fury and defiance and he shoves the large gnoll backward a pace and bringing his sword to bear.

And that is when he hears it. Chanting. It isn't coming from Shade either. Suddenly he has the feeling that things are about to get a whole lot worse. But he has little time to think as the gnoll closes again and the two blades meet once more ringing and singing their deadly songs.
  #178  
Unread 26th of September, 2002, 06:28
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Shade follows Cadrius through the stench of the cave, a growing sense of unease upon her. The thick air is made even thicker by the smoke from the torch and she scans every flickering shadow as they move. Nothing.

Hiding or gone; but which?

The scream of the great, caged bird has her heart in her throat. The sound brings her once more to the haunted forest and a darker bird with wings of nightmare. It had been the two of them there, as well, and she wondered again what they had seen and why. Shaking her head, she renews her vigilance; this was not the time for idle thought.

Just when she is beginnin to relax, she heas the growl behind her and before she can react Cadrius is there; his borrowed sword clashes fearfully loud against the dog-man's bright blade. She drops the torch to the ground, where it continues to burn though the shadows bounce crazily, and is pulling her other sword when she hears the rythmic chanting that speaks one word to her: wizard.

She swings her head and spots the other - he must have been hidden behind a heavy wall drapery - and launches herself in his direction. Just before she is in range a jet of flame shoots from his outspread fingertips. Almost without slowing she drops her shoulder and hits the ground, feeling the heat as she rolls beneath it. Her dive carries her across the narrow chamber and she comes up swinging at her sorcerous foe.

Let's see how well you think with a foot of steel in you.

Surprisingly quick for it's size, the beast ducks and twists wildly. Her first swing misses but the second slices deep into it's thigh. The thing's high pitched howl echoes throughout the chamber.

<OOC: 6 damage to the gnoll, 1 damage to Shade (burning hands, saved)>
  #179  
Unread 26th of September, 2002, 11:31
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Meanwhile back at the party...

Cadogan steps backwards hearing Maeko in a struggle with a creature. He concentrates his arcane energies at the end of his fingertips. Another spark of fire, however it does not release. Cadogan concentrates all his senses of hearing and smell on his surrounding area.

He could tell the Gnolls from the others, atleast he thought so. The Gnolls smelled aweful, and where heavy breathers not to mention very loud. While the remainer of the people around him where not so smelly although they could use a bath much like himself.

Cadogan waits for a Gnoll to wrongfully attempt to attack the Mage...

<Prepare Action: Cast a Burning Hands on the defensive as soon as a Gnoll (to the best of Cadogan's recognition) approches within 5ft>
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  #180  
Unread 1st of October, 2002, 01:34
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The gnoll rushes Cadrius again, this time bringing the man's sword in low rather than high. This move almost catches him off-guard as he scrambles to bring the greatsword down in time to parry. The blades clash once more as they meet but this time the gnoll is not so easily stopped. With one hand he grabs the front of Cadrius' armor, jerking him forward while he slams his large forehead into the bridge of Cadrius' nose.

With a cry of pain the fallen paladin stumbles backward several steps. He shakes his head to clear his vision of the sudden tears present. Cadrius cries again but this time it is a yell of rage rather than pain. Hefting the greatsword he brings it up over his shoulder in a viscious overhand chop. However the gnoll is there to parry it, using brute force rather than finesse to avoid the blow.

Cadrius spits once, an act of defiance in the face of a stronger foe, and readies himself for the next exchange.
  #181  
Unread 1st of October, 2002, 17:12
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The gnoll turns and swings towards Maeko's legs, she jumps, narrowly missing his weapon.

Out of the corner of her eye she notices Cadogan, the sorcerer seems ready to unleash another spell.

" Hold, older brother" she yells.

The gnoll turns, and Maeko jumps again, kicking him hard in the side.

(gnoll4 takes 8 damage)
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  #182  
Unread 1st of October, 2002, 20:24
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Cringing as his shot almost hits his companions, Itches starts to wind the bow-sting back in order to lead it for his next shot. As he moves, the half-elf notices movement behind the combatants. Two more of the Dog-men were creeping up on them, trying to attack them un-awears. Desperately trying to think of a way to warn his friends below of the threat the noble reluctantly concludes that there is little he can do

I am too far away for them to hear my voice, and I don’t think they will notice me in the middle of a fight. There is only one chance. If I fire on the approaching Gnolls, maybe, just maybe one of them will see where I fire, and then foil the surprise attack

Returning to loading the weapon, the half-elf receives the second shock in the last few minutes, as a shadow falls over him. Twisting around, he is frozen in horror. Over him stands a creature of nightmares. Yellow eyes, and a snout drawn back in a snarl extruding foul smelling breath, and a short bladed weapon with a wicked serrated edge.

Holding the weapon high over the frozen half-man, the creature pauses, and its eyes narrow. Perhaps its hand is stayed by some sympathy for the creature below it, or maybe it is just looking for a good place to bring its weapon home. Either way as the blade hesitates and Itches’ mind races with images of Lilly, his comrades and yellow eyes

An endless stream of unmoving images flow past Itches’ inner eye, one of them turns, reaches out and touches him. In his mind the voice of his beloved whispers I release you from your fear. As his vision clear, to see the Gnoll hesitating over him, the young Nobel reacts in a way that would of made his arms tutors back home proud. Letting out a – somewhat wobbly – war cry, he smashes at his foe, with the only weapon he has at hand. The crossbow. Whether released from its hesitation by the cry, or by some wicked twist of fate, coming to its decision at the same moment as the half-elf defeats his fear, its evil-looking blade descends as the crossbow rises. Slicing into Itches’ neck, cutting deep, releasing untold amounts of blood, the battle cry turns into a terror and pain filled scream, the crossbow meats home, smashing into hundreds of pieces against the side of the foul dog-like creature’s head.

Teetering, from the unexpected, yet vicious blow, the Gnoll falls upon the already weakening Itches, and knocks the two of them down the unstable slope. As they slide down it, gaining momentum and derbies until they are a part of a minor landslide, a cloud of dust arises and obscures them from the view of the rest of the combatants. As they all (with the exception to the Blind-sage) turn to apprehend the loud, if distant noise, a growl is heard behind them, as 3 more of the Dog creatures, leap into the battle.
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  #183  
Unread 3rd of October, 2002, 03:33
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Obviously deciding that it needed to deal with it's attacker quickly, the adept forgets about practicing it's sorcery and decides to solve the matter with brute force. Drawing a dagger, it uses it's size to push it's smaller attacker back a step and then slash wildly at her eyes. Off balance from the thing's rush, Shade manages to step in close enough to avoid losing her sight but the beast turns it's wrist, striking her square in the nose with the metal pommel. She hears a muffled crunch and her eyes water from the shock and pain, making it difficult to see her attacker.

She spins to the side to buy herself a momentary recovery before launching an aggressive, double-bladed attack of her own. Her anger drowns out the pain and washes over the beast's defenses. It has a moment to ponder the identity of this fire eyed demon in front of it, and then her blades cross over it's throat. The world greys as it crashes to the floor.

<OOC: 5 damage to Shade, 15 to the now dead gnoll>
  #184  
Unread 3rd of October, 2002, 14:47
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The Three Gnolls charge in from behind, seeing Cadogan facing away as an easy target. The rush towards the man content with laying waste to the apparent hesitant fighter. Cadogan listens to the fray around him. A Large noise of to his left, fighting infront, fighting to his right. There is a swooshing sound of grass and grunts from behind. Cadogan spins on the spot, if he had eyes he would have seen three Gnolls deadly axes raised to strike him down.

All he knew however was that there where more then one, they weren't with his party, and they weren't Lady Shade and Mr. Cadrius.

Cadogan's out skretched hands ignite and sparks of flame begin to pour forth The middle Gnoll and the Gnoll on the left take the full grunt of the flame while the Gnoll on Cadogan's right manages to cower behind one of his comrades at the last moment and only gets partially hit.

(middle Gnoll failed at 7+0 = 7 vs. DC 14)
(left Gnoll failed at 10+0 = 10 vs DC 14)
(right Gnoll succeeded at 16+0 = 16 vs DC 14)


The Gnoll infront of Cadogan twitches as the flames burn deep, at the end of Cadogan's spell it falls first, its burns server enough to overwhelm the creature instantly. The Gnoll to Cadogan's left falls to one knee before slowly slumping forward and letting death overcome it. The Gnoll who managed to dodge Cadogan's flame remains standing although badly wounded.

(middle Gnoll took 4,3,4,2 or 13 damage)
(left Gnoll took 3,3,2,4 or 12 damage)
(right Gnoll took 2,3,4,2 or 12 damage Ref for Half = 6 Taken)


The Remaining Gnoll finishes his war charge and slices his Battle Axe into Cadogan's side, Cadogan's magical armour helps to dampen the effect but the wound is grevious.

(Gnoll hit with 14+3+2 {charge} = 19 vs AC 15)
(Cadogan took 5+2 = 7 Damage)
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Last edited by Cadogan Trahem; 3rd of October, 2002 at 14:51.
  #185  
Unread 3rd of October, 2002, 15:54
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The paladin takes a quick glance around, taking stock of the situation.

Maeko and Cadogan are facing two badly-wounded gnolls. With the flash-fire created by the blind man, their odds are significantly better; they'd probably be able to take their foes down shortly.

The nobleman has fallen down the cliffside, with a gnoll tangled in the midst of a pile of rock, dirt, and debris. There is a lot of blood, and it's obvious that both combatants are badly wounded.

And the paladin's only foe no longer has a weapon.

He reaches his free hand out, grabbing the beast by the collar of its scale tunic, and drags it along, making his way to the fallen minstrel. As he does, he growls, "Keep to yourself, and you may live to speak of this day. Act falsely, and you will regret it." He does not know their language, and cannot tell if it understands him, but figures his tone alone will convey enough.
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  #186  
Unread 4th of October, 2002, 06:30
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The attack comes once more and this time Cadrius is ready for it. Rather than meeting the blade head on with his, the fallen paladin takes an extra step backward. The gnoll expects another strong parry and is thus surprised by the sudden lack of resistance. It stumbles forward its momentum carrying it an extra step or two as the bastard sword strikes the floor of the cave.

Seeing his chance Cadrius seizes it. He quickly plants one mailed boot upon the flat side of the gnoll's blade and traps it between his heel and the ground. Again he hefts the greatsword over his shoulder and brings it violently down in a diagonal arc. The gnoll thinks the swing is designed for its neck and ducks while dodging back half a step. Unfortunately that's not Cadrius' target, not at all.

Cadrius yells again, not in pain, not in fury, not even in defiance, he merely yells, unable to form a coherent word as he brings the sword down with all his might. The blade of the greatsword crashes into the blade of the bastard sword and there is an thunderous clash of steel against steel. In the blink of an eye each blade quivers and then shatters under the force of the blow. Cadrius' hands numb from the impact, drop the hilt of the now-broken greatsword. The gnoll likewise drops the bastard sword.

The two face each other, a mere three paces apart. Cadrius bleeding from the nose and gasping for breath, the gnoll panting heavily and shaking its hand-like paws in an attempt to regain feeling in them.

There is a sound, one that Cadrius knows without needing to turn around. The sound of a blade being drawn through flesh. There's a very faint whimper and then a dull thud as the body hits the ground. Clearly Shade had won and she had turned the tide here. Would this gnoll continue to fight?

The large dogman stands for a moment and for the first time Cadrius sees another human emotion flicker across its face. Before he had only seen rage and pain but what did he see in its red eyes now? Sadness. Did this gnoll know what Cadrius and his friends had done to the village? To the pack? Chances are, it did. Had the one just slain by Shade been a friend? A brother? A mate? Perhaps.

Very, very slowly the gnoll reaches behind its shoulder and draws forth the massive club strapped to his back. Cadrius suddenly feels the presence of Shade by his side, both of her swords still drawn and dripping with blood. But the gnoll merely holds the weapon out, point down, and lowers it to the floor. The fallen paladin nods slowly, he knew a surrender when he saw one.

He waves his hand once, part-acknowledgement and part-salute.

The gnoll hesitantly takes one step backward, and then another, before turning and fleeing toward the mouth of the cave.

Cadrius stands for a moment, watching the gnoll flee before kneeling and picking up the hilts of the broken blades. He looks up at Shade for a moment, the dim torchlight making the blood running down his face take a black hue before saying, "I doubt Paladin will be amused by this," as he gestures to the broken greatsword.
  #187  
Unread 5th of October, 2002, 01:25
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She barely hears him as she stares at the spot where his enemy so recently stood. He'd let the creature go, while the other lay dead behind her. Was she blind, that she could never find a way around the killing?

"We're not here to make him happy."

You can't see her face behind the veil but the bruises already forming beneath her eyes hint at a broken nose. She moves almost gingerly, her body a network of aches, as she turns to wipe her blades on the cloak of her enemy, hesitating a moment before she does so. Maeko would send it to the afterlife gracefully; all she could think about was keeping her swords in good enough shape to kill again.

Dead. It's dead. What difference does it make if I piss on it or bury it?

Her face contorts in rage as she slams her blades back into the scabbards and stands, kicking the dead thing once in the side as she spits on it's corpse. It stares mutely up at her, somehow wiser in death than it ever was in life. The snarl frozen onto it's face might be a grin; she may have killed it but somehow it was still fighting her and this time her swords were useless.

I am neither of you; I have no mercy, no respect. Can't you see what I already know? I am not worthy of your friendship.

Like a common bandit she starts methodically searching the room for anything valuable, angrily discarding anything without worth. She can feel Cadrius staring at her but she doesn't have the strength to look at him.
  #188  
Unread 5th of October, 2002, 05:26
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"No, I do not suppose we are," Cadrius says, his voice soft while he watches Shade kick and then spit the corpse of her foe. Clearly she's angry, but why? What could possibly be bothering her? Cadrius didn't know, and he likely wouldn't figure it out on his own, but now was not the time for such things.

So he joins Shade in their search of the cave. He has little fear for the safety of the others, judging by the vacant village there wasn't much left of this tribe anymore. A twinge of sadness nags at the fallen paladin's conscience. He is largely responsible for that, but he hadn't any other choice, right? He's no longer so certain that he didn't have another option.

He begins to rustle through the various chests, boxes, and miscellaneous piles of things scattered about the room. Clearly the one in charge hadn't been concerned with keeping things organized. However over the next five minutes both he and Shade begin to create a sizable pile of goods in the middle of the room.

During her search the woman finds several gems wrapped in a rather grubby piece of hide. They sparkle faintly in the torchlight. Cadrius tosses down a chest which he had used to collect the various pieces of hard currency scattered about the cave.

"That seems to be it," he says quietly, "a large sum of money, some tonics, and a few pieces of parchment that I am unable to read. Plus his club."

Cadrius places the small glass bottles, the parchment, and the broken blades into the chest before hefting it up in the air and placing it on his shoulder. He keeps one arm wrapped around it to steady it as he slings the extremely large club over the other shoulder and begins making his way out of the cave.

"Anything else? Or shall we check on the others," he says as he turns back to look at Shade, the light from the torch reflecting in his eyes like two tiny mirrors.
  #189  
Unread 5th of October, 2002, 05:51
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Her anger only intensifies when Cadrius says nothing. Discarded items break or bounce off walls and floor as a pile of treasure grows in the center of the room. Despite her state of mind she moves quickly and surely, making Cadrius realize that there is some skill involved in looting a room. She goes at it with a vengeance, somehow managing to find a large percentage of the valuable items. By the time they have finished she is in a state of carefully controlled fury, tempered only by her pain.

She looks up as he speaks, her fingers running over the finely crafted scabbard of a beautiful short sword. Where these beasts had come across such a weapon she had no idea and the irony that it should fall into her hands is not lost on her. Rewarded for her killing. Her eyes plead with his for a moment, wishing he would say something, anything. Her hand clenches on the scabbard, tempted to pelt him in the head for being so thick. Was that a flicker in his eyes? No, it was only a reflection of the torchlight.

Enough.

She shakes her head once and thrusts the blade through her belt. It dawns on her that they hadn't found his armor yet, and she wonders if he is already so comfortable in Paladin's armor that he has forgotten. That darkens her mood a bit more and she shoves that whole line of thought away from her.

"Let's go."
  #190  
Unread 5th of October, 2002, 06:40
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The bird! Cadrius momentarily forgot the blind man's pet during their search. Oddly enough the raven had not made a single sound while they looted the gnoll cave. He stops in his tracks at the mouth the cave and sets the chest and club down at his feet. How could he have forgotten the bird and the child's toy that Cadogan had been so keen on regaining? He silently curses himself for a fool.

"We," he pauses and amends his statment, "I forgot Cadogan's bird as well as that object of his. I will go back and retrieve them, feel free to go and see to the others. It should not take too long," he says as he looks down at his feet for a moment before looking back up, "sorry."

Taking the torch he turns and re-enters the cave. Yes he is going in for both the bird and the toy but there's another reason behind his actions. He's searching for something he lost in the woods before he had been made a prisoner. His armor he could live without, chances are it was being worn piecemeal by a gnoll, but the locket? No, he must find it. It and the sword are the last remnants of before, of his past. Now the sword is broken, shattered while being wielded by the gnoll. All that remains is the locket.

Holding the torch aloft Cadrius moves back to the room where their fight had taken place. The gnoll still laying sprawled across the floor with Shade's spittle rapidly drying upon its face. As if on cue the raven lets out a squak as soon as the man enters the room. The bird seeming pleased with itself immediately begins to murmer quietly to itself in a language only a bird could understand.

He grasps the top of the brass cage by its handle and lifts it, and Shirvel, aloft. Underneath are two backpacks, presumably his and Cadogan's. A cursory inspection proves this to be true. Cadrius kneels and begins to search through his bag, looking for it. Nothing. If the locket is still around, it definitely isn't here.

"Damn you," he whispers. The target of his curse is left unsaid and the only response he gets is a quiet murmer from Shirvel as the raven tilts its head to the side and stares at Cadrius.

The fallen paladin sighs and stands. Shouldering both backpacks he picks up Shirvel and makes his way back out of the cave. Perhaps it is for the best that he has lost every material piece to his past. All it ever did was serve to remind him of what he did and what he had lost. No sense in reliving it every day, he already did that at night, in his dreams. At least his days could now be plague-free.

He comes out of the cave again and looks up at the sky. No clouds, it will be cold tonight.
  #191  
Unread 7th of October, 2002, 21:08
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"Squark! Human! Squark! Save Shrivel! Squark! Friend! Friend!" Shirvel gestures at Cadrius as they leave the cave and somehow Cadrius feels a connection.

Back at the woods, Cadogan is a little worse for wear. Bleeding badly, burned from his own spell prior to their rescue. Cadogan stumbles backwards the badly wounded Gnoll roars at the man.

Cadogan roars back but through the hatefilled cries of men the strange chanting of mystical magics can be heard.

"Go Away!!" Cadogan yells as his hands Errupt once more with a huge spout of flames the Gnoll tries to step aside of the shower of flaming sparks but grossly underestimates the size of the blind mages ehanced spell as once more the spell covers a 20ft semicircular area infront of himself. The Gnoll roars in pain and falls limply forward, its Axe once raised falls to the ground. Cadogan hears the creature drop and himself falls to one knee as he concentrates hard not to fall asleep.

(Enlarged Burning Hands)
(Ref for Half Gnoll failed with 8+0 = 8 vs DC 14)
(Damage 4d4 or 2,2,3,1 = 8)
(Gnoll Deing at -3 HP)
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  #192  
Unread 9th of October, 2002, 07:06
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Shade doesn't turn as Cadrius retreats back into the cavern, intent on collecting what they had come for. Her anger still runs high and thoughts of the raven bring on thoughts of it's blind owner. The others might need her help and so she heads for the woods in the gathering darkness.

Halfway there she pauses, hearing the gutteral sounds that she has come to recognize as the gnoll tongue. She eases into the shadow, confident in the darkness, and moves forward. Up ahead, she sees the champion that Cadrius had spared, crouched down.

What is it doing?

She watches, wondering if she should step forward and end the thing's miserable life right there. Something in the tone of it's voice stays her hand though. Somehow she got the feeling it was mourning and it was almost pitiful. She sees it's head turn suddenly, nostrils flaring, and it looks towards her though it doesn't seem to spot her. Snatching something off the ground, it bounds off into the woods. Moving forward, she can see an old stump where the beast had been. Some huge old tree, doubtless sawn for lumber in the village. Something was carved on it's flat surface, the letters unfamiliar to her and crudely made, but old.

She is confused and wonders at the beast's behavior, wonders if this means what she suspects. She sits on the stump, and lays her head in her hands suddenly unsure who was more of a monster. Her new blade presses into her ribs and she pulls it out. Her eyes are wells of pain and darkness as she studies her ill-gotten prize. Laying it in her lap, she slowly unwinds the leather wrap from her forearm staring at it as though she had never seen it before.

Is this what death looks like?

She draws the new blade, her features a dark shadow in it's gleaming length and puts the point on her exposed flesh. It stings as it bites her; a single tear rolls from her eye as she draws the edge in a spiral around her arm. Blood wells and flows down her arm, over her hand, black in the darkness. She hurls the blade into the ground where it sticks, point first, quivering and her head drops into her hands once again, the blood smearing her face. Her shoulders tense and she feels the pressure build in her chest, her neck; it intensifies and then, before it can release her body reflexively swallows it back down. She does not move for a long time and all the while the darkness thickens around her.
  #193  
Unread 11th of October, 2002, 01:46
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Maeko stares at the wounded gnoll facing her, ready to avoid a blow.

The Gnoll's eyes are blank now, totally devoid of expression, then he sighs...and drops his weapon and shield, fully open to attack, his expression clearly saying : " I don't care".

Maeko moves back a step, shocked. Very slowly, as if in a dream, the gnoll turns and disappears among the trees, moving stiffly.
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  #194  
Unread 11th of October, 2002, 06:33
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Cadrius gives a start as the raven begins to speak words that the fallen paladin is capable of understanding. However after the day's events he finds he has neither the energy nor the will to ponder how strange it is for the bird to be speaking. Cadogan was a sorcerer of some sort and everyone knew they involved themselves in strange affairs. Talking birds was likely one of them.

He spies the form of Shade sitting outside the mouth of the cave. It's dark, had he really been in there so long? It had felt like but a few minutes. For once Cadrius is able to remain quiet while in armor and he stands for a time, the torch temporarily discarded, and watches her as she buries her head in her hands. What is it that torments her?

What is it that torments you?

In that moment Cadrius ceases to pity his morose companion. Does it matter what it is that troubles her? No, not really. In the grand scheme of things what they did or have done matters little except to them. All that really matters is that she suffers, much like he does. He smiles mirthlessly, they were all at once the opposite and same side of a coin. How odd than an assassin and a fallen paladin would compliment the other so well. Keeping his smile Cadrius sighs, why wouldn't an assassin and a fallen paladin work so well together? They were everything the good and noble people stood against. They were outcasts.

He ducks back around the corner and leans against the wall for a moment. The torch flickering softly causing the shadows around him to continue their random and perpetual dance. They also seem to loom up and surround him. They tower about in their never-ceasing movement.

Cadrius suddenly feels alone and very small, an insignificant speck in the world. He closes his eyes as despair of the knowledge that he really does not matter washes over him. And for the first time in a long time Cadrius feels afraid.

It is sometime longer before he reemerges from the cave with the remaining equipment in tow. Shirvel squaks occasionally but seems content to sit and preen as the fallen paladin escorts it back to its master.
  #195  
Unread 12th of October, 2002, 14:46
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Walking towards where he had last seen Itches land, Paladin drags the Gnoll in one hand, its tail well between its legs. As he steps over a bump, The dog-creature, twists, and its scale tunic rips, dropping it to the ground, leaving the human with a handful of leather and metal. Looking up at its former capturer, it gives a yelp, and runs as far and fast as it can away from the towering warrior. Shaking his head at the fleeing form, Paladin continues on towards Itches.

After a quick search of the debris laying everywhere from the rockslide, he quickly finds two forms.
One: A Gnoll, lying with its head twisted around at an unnatural angle, its lifeless eyes staring blankly.
Two: The half-elf Itches, covered by a large pile of rocks up to his waist, and the rest of him lying in an ever-increasing pool of blood.

As his already unseeing eyes staring blankly forward, and he tries vainly to fill his half crushed lungs with air, Paladin manages to make out a few words.

"Lily ... Sorry ... Forgive.... Me"

His head twists suddenly so that he happens to be staring blankly @ the Paladin, and one last word comes out half croaked, half gargled as he drowns on his own blood.

"Sorr..."

Then Struggling for a breath that will never come, the last bit of life, fades from the Aristocrats body.

In the blackness in which he floats, a white figure draws near to him. Opening its arms and drawing the Former living man into its arms, Itches looks up into its face and stammers.

" I.. I k-Know you"

A Peaceful smile forms on her face as he speaks.

"Y-you is L-Lily. I L-love you"

Kissing his forehead she at least speaks.

"And I You, my Beloved. And I you."

Holding his loved one close he shivers.

"I-I'm S-Soo cold"

Stroking his hair, she whispers in his ear

"Yes, death always is cold at first. But soon you will find yourself used to it, and I will show you to wonders of this realm. I have waited for you to join me for a long time, but first you needed to live. And at last you have, At last your time came. Now we shall be together forever. Nothing shall separate us now."
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  #196  
Unread 14th of October, 2002, 15:12
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"Lily ... Sorry ... Forgive.... Me"

His head twists suddenly so that he happens to be staring blankly at the paladin, and one last word comes out half croaked, half gargled as he drowns on his own blood.

"Sorr..."

Then, struggling for a breath that will never come, the last bit of life fades from the aristocrat's body.


For a moment, the paladin simply crouches in front of the nobleman, looking at his ruined form. He then reaches down and closes the man's eyes. "With valor, one finds purpose in life. With a purpose in life, its passing takes on meaning.

"Heironeous, watch over this brave soul on his journey, so that he may find his way."

Finally, he stands. The defeated gnoll is forgotten. There is no point in pursuing those who fled; their threat is ended, and the paladin sees no point in turning massacre into genocide.

Slowly, and with a now-apparent limp, he walks to where Maeko and the blind sorcerer stand, catching their breaths. "Let's go find Shade and Cadrius, and see if we can find some shovels along the way. We must give our companion a proper resting place."
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  #197  
Unread 15th of October, 2002, 01:56
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Guarded grey eyes watch as the fallen paladin emerges from the cave and starts down the path toward the prison. The dark bird he carries squawks and lurches, and once looks her way giving her an uncomfortable sense of another dark bird from not so long ago. She watches his back as he fades into the gloom, the sounds of his passage falling further away and for a moment the world is silent. Her face is an inscrutable mask as she winds the leather wrap back over her bloody forearm. Silence and shadow, that was her world now.

Her deft fingers unhook the scabbard from her right side and she places it almost reverantly on the old stump. Without a sound she slides the stolen blade at her feet from it's earthen sheath. With the edge of her cloak she wipes it until the blade is once more a dark mirror. It disappears into it's wood and horn sheath and is quickly secured to her belt. It's weight is reassuring and a mirthless smile flashes across her lips. It was hers now.

With never a sound or a look back, she steps from the wood and follows the same track as Cadrius. Moving more swiftly than he, she catches up to him easily but she hangs back enough so that he doesn't notice her. She can see him stop up ahead, conversing with what can only be Paladin, Cadogan and Maeko, and she moves forward to join them. Of Itches there is no sign.
  #198  
Unread 16th of October, 2002, 02:29
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Maeko, after watching the retreating gnoll's back disappear among the trees went back to check on Cadogan.

" Are you well, older brother?"

How ironic that the one we thought was most needing help is the one who killed the most adversaries... thinks the nun.


And how come that we all looked at them and only saw 'enemies'? What do we know of their aims, hopes, fears? What do they think of these strange, hairless ones who speak gibberish, enter their territory and leave it in ruin?.

She is so engrossed in thought that she almost starts at Lone Paladin's approach.

At his words she stares at him, and immediately realizes whom he is referring to.

" May he find enlightenment in his next life..." She cannot help but sigh at the thought of the young nobleman demise, improper as it may be to lament somebody's departure from the World of Illusion.

" Do you know wich gods were his?".
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  #199  
Unread 17th of October, 2002, 17:16
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Cadogan strains to stand.

"I am hurt, but well enough to move." Cadogan answers the women. As he straightens up grasping at his side where a Gnollish battle axe dug deep.
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Unread 18th of October, 2002, 04:44
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"What?" Cadrius asks in a low, serious voice. His light blue eyes search each of their faces, demanding that one of them tell him that it was false, that itches wasn't dead. Nothing. Each face told him the same thing, their foolish nobleman had fallen. Oh they display different emotions: the paladin is stern and full of purpose, Maeko seems stoic with a twinge of sadness, and Cadogan merely looks weary. Yet their eyes speak louder than any action or word ever could. Itches was dead.

And for what? So he could reclaim his possessions? For the stupid sword which now lays broken in the chest?

Suddenly sick at the sight of their newly found treasure Cadrius roughly shoves it into the paladin's arms and stalks off in the direction of the corpse.

It does not take him long to find it. The rockslide is readily apparent and itches body lies pinned beneath it. The fallen paladin slows to a halt as he makes out the form of the body in the near-twilight. There is blood, a lot of blood, now drying to his clothes and his body.

Cadrius falls to one knee and removes his gauntlets as he stares at itches' visage. He failed, he failed to protect the fool and now this has happened. With a trembling hand he reaches out and brushes away some dirt and debris from the nobleman's face and neck. It shouldn't have happened like this, not at all. If anyone had died today it should have been Cadrius, not itches. He was, he still is, innocent. He didn't deserve such an ignoble death.

He bows his head and leaves one hand on itches' chest. Twin tears emerge, one from each of his eyes and he whispers quietly, "I'm sorry. I could not protect you."

The corpse suddenly reminds him of two similar bodies he had seen once. Each had a wide pool of blood about them. They too had been his fault. He seems bound to repeat his past.

No. Never again. My greed, my emotions, they will not cause another person's death. Never again.

With a clenched jaw the suddenly stands and begins hauling rocks off of the nobleman's body. He hurls them as far as his arms are able to, hoping that the physical exertion will relieve him of some of his pain. So he does not care when his hands are cut and begin to bleed, this pain is more easily defined and can be dealt with.

As the others approach the clattering sound of rocks he pants and says, "Gather some wood. He deserves a pyre," before tossing another large stone into an ever-increasing pile.
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