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  #126  
Unread 28th of July, 2004, 04:58
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The soft moonlight baths the intimate pair, a heady mixture of wine and the night's activities making each relax more then they normally would around the other. The male lies on his stomach, the haze making his thoughts a blur, and the drink his speech slurred. The female is sprawled over his back, absently tracing the barely visible tattoo on his left shoulder.

"What is this anyway?" Her voice is soft and intimate. "A bird’s foot?"

"Raven's Claw," comes the response, words slightly muffled by the pillow he is speaking though. "It's the sign of the monasterial order I was a part of."

"Nicos the monk?" Pushing her red locks from her eyes, Gemoud stretches out beside the man and playfully bites him on the shoulder. "A monk is about a far as you get from a bard, how did you manage that?"

The haze of alcohol disinhibits the one-armed-man enough to speak of the subject, but not to block out the remembered pain. "I was still a monk when I lost my arm." His hand moves to the scaring on his shoulder unconsciously. "Technically still a monk I suppose, though at that point it was just a technicality. I was a ah- a slave and had been for I don't know how long, when a new group of people had who had been captured arrived. They managed to escape, and tried to set everyone else free. There was fighting, but as the slaves only had makeshift weapons and were nearly staved to death, nearly all died in the conflict."

Taking a deep breath, Nicos is quite for a long moment before continuing the tale, his voice thick with pain. "Better that they died free, then prisoners. I was probably the most able unarmed fighter there, and I knew it - so I threw myself into the worst of the combat. I ah ... my arm ended up getting wounded, and I passed out. They dragged me clear, and I regained consciousness before they decided what to do about what was left of my arm. It was fairly badly damaged, and they didn't have a lot of options. So they amputated, and cauterised the shoulder. I didn't pass out that time."

The bard is silent again, lost in the past. Gemoud wraps her arms around him, content to listen to his ragged breaths, and let him find his own way back to the present. It is several minutes before he continues, once more in control of his voice. "One of the group that escaped was an elf called Saelyn. She took it on herself to nurse me back to health. I was done with being a monk by then, and she was a bard so she taught me the profession."

The silence falls again, but it is Gemoud who breaks it this time. “I for one think you made the right choice. Bards have much more fun then monks.” Dragging her nails down Nicos’ back almost painfully, she gives a playful laugh at his cry of protest. Shaking free of her hand, a mock struggle begins between the pair, ending only once the bard had the red-haired woman pinned.

“Bards have more fun did you say?” he says, looking down at her.

“Like I said,” she replies, pulling him down into her embrace.
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Last edited by itches; 28th of July, 2004 at 05:10.
  #127  
Unread 30th of July, 2004, 04:28
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The threat makes him smile, just as it was intended, but the mirth falters as the image of a dead gnoll and a greatclub rolls into memory. It had been no more than a few weeks since that fight, but it feels as if a lifetime from all the events that have happened since then. The gnolls, the big one had wielded Cadrius's own sword while he took up Paladin's greatsword. Shade had fought another, killing it neatly in under a minute. Had he ever thanked her for that? For saving him then and so many other times?

Would it matter?

"Yes, there are other places. Yet I worry about the reputation my name carries now. You, and the others, would be safer without me, at least in a city. The clergy can reach very far, especially when chasing one of their own. I..." he trails off, remember that he's had this conversation with Shade before. He already knows her response; his offer will be met with a stern glance and some barbed words.

"...think we should be cautious should we travel to a city. But what of Ysene and her ilk? Will we be safe should we reject their offer? What do you make of her? And how is it we know Gemoud is a spy?"
  #128  
Unread 30th of July, 2004, 21:27
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Who cares about the others?

They didn't need to use his name, and she had left hers behind long before. If it was one thing Shade knew, it was how to disappear. Cities had clergy and guards, pious men and noble; they also have less savory parts, where people didn't want to know who you were or what you had done. Those on top seldom looked beneath them. Anonymity was easy.

Who cares?

Cadrius, of course. He would never want to lead that kind of life.

He is cut from a different cloth.

Why would he want to follow the same path she had chosen? No reason at all. Not for her, that was certain.

"I don't know anything any more. There was a time when I would have said to hell with this whole thing and left by myself. I don't know what to do."
  #129  
Unread 13th of August, 2004, 12:13
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"Then we can only do what we think is right. Failing that we will do what we think will keep us breathing. I for one think helping this woman would suit the latter if not the former."

He shrugs, glad to be out under the open sky even if the conversation is less than pleasant. Cadrius almost finds it amusing how non-chalant they've become about potentially life-threatening situations. Perhaps they've grown too accustomed to walking on the edge of a knife. To be honest, the fallen paladin hadn't expected to live past Karkas. Maybe in cheating death he earned a certain liberty, or perhaps he's nothing more than a fool.

"If they truly want us to do this, they likely could force it. Use an enchantment, or glamor, or whatever it is they do. It might be easier for us if we simply cooperate. I do not imagine our flight would go unnoticed, particularly if we returned for Blarth and our possessions."
  #130  
Unread 16th of August, 2004, 23:25
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It should come as no surprise that he lists doing the right thing higher than staying alive. Hadn't he proven time and again that he valued his ideals more than his own life? It was out there like a club: how many times did she need to get hit before she'd acknowledge it's presence?

She frowns at his last remark, wondering just how much power these wizards had. Maybe they could do what he said. Maybe not, or maybe they wouldn't care enough to bother. Shade knows what she would do, if the decision were hers alone: run, and take her chances.

Arms folded, a slim finger taps against her elbow - once, twice, three times - while she considers his words. It is like the prisoner and the giant all over again. His words tell her he's going, even though he hasn't admitted it to himself yet. For the prisoner she could almost understand - after all, she didn't want to see them suffer or die any more than he did. It's just that she was more practical. Getting dead wouldn't help anyone, and dying for an ideal didn't seem more appealing than dying any other way.

She shakes her head, but just like that, she knows she is going with him.

"Why, though? Can you at least tell me why you are willing to do this? It's more than just protecting your back, I know you well enough to know that."
  #131  
Unread 24th of August, 2004, 12:15
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The question gives him pause. His motives had managed to slide by, unquestioned by the pragmatic part of him. Yet why was he agreeing to do this? Certainly it would curry favor with the faction and could keep them safe. And yet having a powerful enemy wouldn't be reason alone; after all he had a branch of the church seeking him. The best he can offer her is a shrug. He genuinely isn't certain why.

"I would tell you that it is the right thing to do, but we both know that is not the cause. I cannot say why I think we should, only that we should. Who knows? Perhaps these wizards can start us on a brighter path. Or perhaps not. Either way I would rather risk searching for an artifact over traversing the Kingdoms."
  #132  
Unread 26th of August, 2004, 05:23
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You must learn to accept the life of a fugitive.

She sighs, looking once more at the icy, bright stars. Shade can feel the goose bumps prickling on her skin in the chill, her long fingers cold. When was the last time she had felt truly warm?

Even if he wouldn't accept the realities of his situation, at least he wasn't so eager to turn himself in again. For that she was grateful; his escape had been more luck than engineering last time, and next time . . . she didn't want to think about it. If for no other reason than to buy time for him to wrap his mind around things, Shade decides not to press the issue.

"All right. It's safer your way, and maybe Cadogan will thank us. I'd like to think we didn't trek all the way out here and risk our lives for nothing."
  #133  
Unread 1st of September, 2004, 04:45
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Dawn comes as the sun awakes and casts it’s light over the land. The shadows of the night are driven before the brilliant light, taking with it the fears, doubts and secrets created by darkness. On a mountain top citadel, buried in the wastelands, life starts to stir when the first stars begin to fade. Men and woman of the arcane arts rise to begin the mundane tasks all large communities must perform, the cleaning, washing, cooking, and administrating duties.

In the guest quarters of the citadel, a bedraggled and blurry eyed man awakes after the sun has long hung in the sky, and all trace of the night’s gentleness has been pushed away. Pulling a blanket from his head, Nicos lets out an audible groan as the sunlight assaults his tender eyes. Burying his face in the pillow for several long moments, the bard looks about once his eyes had adjusted to the daylight. The first thing his sight rests upon is his companion of the night before, already composed, wearing a short night-robe, and reading a book at the near-by desk. Letting out an oath in a voice horse from a night’s abuse, he proclaims: "Fiol woman, don’t you ever sleep?"

Looking back at her companion, Gemoud assembles her face into a look of contemplation before answering with even tone and serious face. "No."

Letting out another groan, Nicos drops prone on the bed. "I think I’m dieing. I regret nothing!"

Closing her book and fastening it shut, Gemoud rises and makes her way to the bed, planting a finger on the back of the bard’s head. "Don’t you complain to me, if you can’t handle your drink.”

“Can’t handle my drink?” He replies in indignation. “I’ll have you know that I can take it with the best of them. What was that stuff?”

Giving a smile that can only be called evil, the sorceress settles on the bed and firmly rubs the shoulders of the indisposed man. “It’s called Tarisan wine. One of my friends here created it, it possesses all the flavour of quality wine, but has a punch that would knock a dragon out cold.”

“Oh you evil creature, that’s just not playing fair.” Grimacing and attempting to move, the bard gives up the endeavour for the moment. “It seems to have worked, I feel like I’ve been beaten by a dragon.”

Ignoring Gemoud’s good natured laughter, Nicos heaves himself out of bed with what seems a heroic effort. Going to the wash basin on stumbling feet, the bard misses the calculating look in Gemoud’s eyes as she tracks his movement across the room. Similarly, Nicos is oblivious to the softly spoken words and quick gestures made as he plunges his head into the cold water.

Turning around when his face is clean, now more awake, composed, and looking much better for it, Gemoud is once more sitting cross-legged on the bed, observing the bard with an intrigued look. “I didn’t notice it last night in the dark, but you have a lot of scars for a man your age.”

Looking down at his bare chest, and touching one of the many marks, Nicos gives a nonchalant shrug. “There have been an abnormal number of angry fathers, brothers and husbands in my life. It’s the curse of being as devastatingly handsome as I am.”

Letting herself be gathered into the bard’s arm, Gemoud ignores the joke. “I wasn’t necessarily talking about physical scars.”

Looking into the woman’s brilliant blue eyes, Nicos feels a twinge of emotion deep within him. Angrily pushing the feeling aside, Nicos ignores both it and Gemoud’s comment, instead pinning her beneath him and kissing his way down her body. Making his way down one arm, the bard softly kisses the inside of her wrist, frowning at something, kissing once more then pulling away.

“Tease,” Gemoud pouts, as the man moves up to rest beside her.

“After you fed me that poison last night, you’re should consider yourself lucky that I’m still capable of teasing,” Nicos retorts. “Are you doing anything today?”

“I hardly forced you to drink it,” Gemoud says, snuggling close to her Bardic companion.

“Alright, I’ll accept partial responsibility, but I maintain my innocence of how strong it was.” He frowned once more. “And quit changing the subject, are you doing anything today?”

“Yes,” she says, making a face, squirming out of Nicos’ grasp and out of bed. “I have a day’s worth of meetings right after breakfast, and on top of that some study to catch up on from yesterday.”

Grinning, Nicos stretches out on the bed. “Meetings; the bane of any large organisation. Now me, I’m free to lie here for hours yet if I want.”

Leaning down to give the bard a quick kiss, the woman once more smiles evilly. “You might be able to lie there for hours still, but only if you are prepared to miss breakfast.”

Giving the sorceress a mock glare, Nicos once more pulls himself out of bed and starts to search for his clothing. “You and your evil empire win this round.”

The next several minutes were spent dressing and freshening, with Nicos casually humming a tune. Seemingly almost mid-note, the bard breaks out into a semi-song, turning to face Gemoud as he does.

‘On behalf of her love, she no longer sleeps’

Looking startled, the redhead hesitantly replies. ‘Life no longer had meaning. Nothing to make her stay.’

‘She sold her soul away,’ the one armed man finishes, frowning deep furrows into his brow. “So you’re a Mooner then?”

Still looking startled, the woman just nods. After a pregnant pause she asks, “How did you know?”

“I saw the mark,” Nicos says simple, still not letting up the frown, holding forth his arm, palm outwards. On his inner wrist rest a small scar, obviously made by a fine blade, and very carefully. It depicts a crescent moon surrounding a small 5 rayed star. “I didn’t know there were any members who weren’t bards.”

“I – I’ve got to go or I’ll be late,” Gemoud says, looking away from the man and picking up her book. “I’ll talk to you tonight, okay.”

Not waiting for a reply, the woman hurriedly leaves the room, leaving the perplexed bard behind her. Still frowning, Nicos watches her retreating back until she steps out of sight, unable to see the satisfied smile that replacing the feigned look of uncertainty.
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Last edited by itches; 1st of September, 2004 at 06:15.
  #134  
Unread 1st of September, 2004, 05:00
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Stretching as the sun shines through his window and into his eyes. Blarth takes only a few moments to wake up and orient himself before realizing where he is. Looking about he finds his clothes freshly cleaned hanging on a rack that he's sure wasn't there the night before. However disconcerting it is, however, Blarth is getting used to the servants doing things behind his back. It seems to be the way that things are done around here and there is nothing he can do about it.

"Thank you," he says to the air, as he gets dressed, assuming that what ever servant has been tasked with seeing to his needs can hear him.

After dressing, Blarth carefully runs through a morning routine that he hasn't performed in a while, flexing every muscle in his body in turn. That done, he heads for the refactory, looking for breakfast.
  #135  
Unread 2nd of September, 2004, 23:29
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A funny thing happened on the way to the refectory . . .

Everyone woke up as usual; blissful or mournful, hungry or angry, maybe even introspective. At some point in the course of their various morning routines, they made their way towards the one place most familiar to them in the Citadel: the Refectory. Had they travelled there together, they might have remarked that things seemed a little strange - distances seemed a little different, hallways seemed occaisionally a little smaller than they had been, doorways not quite in the same place. But they were separate, and they knew the way to the refectory, and they had become more and more used to the oddities that surrounded them .

Ysene had been up early, awaiting word from Olyl that Gemoud had left the vicinity of the newcomer's chambers. When that word finally came, the blond sorceress sent word to the others stationed along the way, and a series of illusions were hastily cast in place. The way to the refectory, though it seemed the same, wasn't really the way to the refectory anymore . . .

It was a large chamber, close in size to the place it imitated, buy lying near the thick northern wall of the Citadel. Normally it was used as a meeting hall, but it was seldom used. Ysene closed her eyes and completed her casting, making it appear to be the refectory that the group thought they were moving towards.

When they finally found themselves there, they noticed that there seemed rather less food than normal, and rather less magical servants and devices. Empty, too, save for these strangers to the Citadel: Nicos, Cadrius, Shade, Blarth - and, interestingly enough, Ben. Conversation was the last thing on everyone's mind, be they contemplating amorous endeavors, lost opportunities, or just plain focused on the task of eating.

Talk finally turned to the matter of Ysene's request, and what they should do about it. Before any decisions were reached, the group finally had visitors. One of them might be termed the Visitor, as it was someone they had all been waiting to see - well, almost all of them. It was none other than Cadogan Trahem himself, blind as ever and looking considerably better than the last time they had seen him.

With Ysene at his side, the sightless seer quickly greeted them all - a tad impatiently perhaps - before launching into a tale that quickly confirmed all Ysene had told Shade about the cube, and more. By the time he finished, they had decided to accept the responsibility of finding the Runestone. Ysene produced their gear from one of the closets lining the hall, everything packed and ready to go. Cadogan wished them well, and wished he could go with them but he needed to stay here to help guard the artifact he had brought back. So it is that the four who entered depart in a group of five . . .

Last edited by Gralhruk; 19th of November, 2004 at 05:01.
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