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  #51  
Unread 13th of August, 2002, 04:04
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It is well past midday when she returns to the trail where the dead gnolls keep silent sentry. The others have left and she looks bitterly on the bodies of the fallen, wishing she shared Maeko's peace with these four.

Four.

It had been four the first night they'd been attacked, and four more now. What did it mean? She hadn't lied when she'd told Cadrius they often went in search of slaves but it seemed unusual for them to be attacked a second time when they had proven a difficult catch. She eyed their shields and the barbaric devices there, etched or painted as the case might be. She couldn't read their tongue but the devices looked the same as the former quartet.

The same tribe, then.

It was very curious, but she couldn't decipher the riddle. Shaking her head slowly she puts a little stretch into her stride as she follows her companions up the track. The air is cool and crisp, though not near as cold as it was this morning, but after a short while her rapid pace has her sweating freely. Her brows are furrowed as she read the prints along the trail; she can see all four of her former companions, their passage written for any with the skill to see it.

One set disturbs her, though. She is almost sure it is Cadrius, and from the length of the stride and depth of the impressions he looked to be moving quickly. And ahead of the others. The skin on the back of her neck prickles as thoughts fly crazily through her head like a dark flock of bats. Worried, her stride quickens and soon she is jogging along, a fleet shadow among the green.
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Unread 13th of August, 2002, 22:54
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Looking up from the silence the trio traveled in, Itches spoke "Why are we so solemn? I know what we need a traveling song"

With that Itches began to hum a tune that matched their footsteps, and before long he began to sing in a surprisingly good voice.


Chorus
The road beneath out feet
Travels on and on
Through street after street
We dance anon

Verse 1
I once had a love
Who lived across the way
We blew kisses when we met
Almost every single day

One day I went to her house
Roses in my hand
Knocking on her door
I almost broke and ran

Chorus
The road beneath out feet
Travels on and on
Through street after street
We dance anon

Verse 2
My knees knocked together
As I stood rooted there
Their door began to open
And I set a stare

Flowers forward
My eyes were fixed
“I love you!!”
“With your legs like sticks”

Chorus
The road beneath out feet
Travels on and on
Through street after street
We dance anon

Verse 3
I looked around
She had run
I dropped the flowers
Where it begun

Turning around
As I reached home
I saw a kiss
That had been blown

Chorus
The road beneath out feet
Travels on and on
Through street after street
We dance anon

Tag
I once had a love
Who lived across the way
We blew kisses when we met
Almost every single day
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  #53  
Unread 14th of August, 2002, 03:32
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Maeko approaches Itches speacking in a low voice:

" Meaning no disrespect to your singing talent, do you think it is wise? Other wolf-men could be around".

As Itches open his mouth to reply the two see Shade catching up quickly, the woman's grim espression gives them pause.

It is as if she had seen a kappa hatch from a dragon's egg

With an apologetic glance at Itches, Maeko follows the blue-clad woman deeper into the woods.
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  #54  
Unread 14th of August, 2002, 03:43
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As the Song Progresses, Itches' voice raises in volume until the song ends in a grand crescendo. ((I think that’s the correct term)) His feeling of pride is short lived as Maeko points out the possibility of other Gnolls about. Turning pale Itches starts to stammer an apology, but is cut of my Shade's sudden appearance.

Giving a small shake of his head Itches speaks to himself softly. "Itches, old chap, when will you learn to keep your mouth shut?" Following along behind the others again, this time Itches remains silent.
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Unread 14th of August, 2002, 05:04
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The sun is closing in on the horizon when she hears a high voice drifting back from further up the trail. She knows that voice, having heard it scream more than once and prattle incessantly since the moment they'd met. Itches. And now the fool was actually singing as if this was some sort of summer game in his father's wood. As if they hadn't been twice attacked and the young man nearly killed or captured.

Her patience has been short since she made it back to the trail, the dead gnolls having destroyed any calm from her trek through the forest. Two hours of worry over Cadrius hadn't improved her mood; neither had the run she'd needed to catch up with them. She could see them now up the trail, apparently examining something off to the side. She didn't bother hiding her approach and it didn't take them long to spot her.

The aristocrat's voice dies in his throat as he catches the look in her eyes. Without a word she looks at the object of their attention: a bright chain, an amulet suspended from it. Her mind snaps back to the previous evening, Cadrius holding up his torch by the rivers edge, light glinting off of that same chain. She would have known it, even if his tracks hadn't veered off that way.

"He was deeply wounded in the previous battles and I fear that there may be more gnolls close by. Why have you let him scout off on his own?"

She spits this last out as she snatches the amulet from the branch and turns to follow his trail. When she hears the sounds of the others behind her she turns abruptly. Fixing an accusing eye on Itches, she holds up a hand.

"Let us follow quickly but as quietly as our speed allows. That means no singing!"
  #56  
Unread 14th of August, 2002, 13:11
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The quartet moves quickly down the side-trail, not quite breaking into a run. The only sound is the slight rattling of the paladin's armor, and everyone's labored breathing; even Itches is struck silent by the revelation.

Several paces into the woods, the groups skids to a halt; something is blocking the path ahead. Something humanoid -- but in the darkening gloom, it is difficult to make out any detail without getting closer.

Already having seen evidence of one trap by the dog-men, the paladin's suspicions rise to the fore. Holding up a hand, he whispers, "Hold for a moment. Let me See." Somehow, the emphasis on the last word implies a form of vision that is not mundane.

Stepping ahead of the group slightly, he focuses his concentration on his inner senses, his spirituality, his courage. Reaching the core of his being, he brings it to the fore, letting it show him things he could not otherwise see. As it rises, his vision is clouded by a black and red haze, obscuring nearly everything while still letting him see.

Evil, he thinks. Something is ahead, but where is it? He focuses his attention more, watching as the haze begins to coalesce. After a moment, the red haze resolves itself in five areas -- one on the path, and two to either side. One to the left is stronger than the others; so strong that it nearly obscures the others.

Blinking to return his vision to normal, he slowly steps back to the others. "There's one being in the path -- alive, but weak. There are two others on either side, and I think they're planning an ambush. The one in the path may be bait for a trap. Watch yourselves." At the others' nod, he begins making his way forward, keeping one hand on the hilt of his claymore.

Finally, the group gets close enough to the central figure to make it out in the dying sunlight. A human, dark-haired and battered to unconsciousness, tied to a tree with his arms above his head. Despite the bruises and misaligned jaw, there's no mistaking the face: Cadrius.

No more time is granted to dwell on this, however, as four more beast-men break out of the trees, howling war-cries. One of them is significantly larger than the others, wearing heavy armor and wielding a double-headed flail. The others are much like the ones they fought earlier, except that they are wielding clubs fashioned from tree-branches or fallen timber.

With a fierce battle-cry, the paladin gives his two-handed sword a twist. The rings and loops holding it to his back drop free of the blade, and he has it at the ready just as the gnoll's flail comes whistling at his head. He just manages to bring the sword up to block the spiked ball, but cannot swing the weapon around fast enough to prevent the other end from catching him across the shin. The ball clangs against the metal greave, but the weapon doesn't immediately come loose; as the gnoll wrenches the flail around, blood is seen on the spikes of one end.

The paladin quickly backpedals, taking a ferocious swipe at the gnoll's legs as he yells, "One of you -- get the warrior loose, and give him a weapon! I need a moment to help him, or we'll surely perish!"
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  #57  
Unread 14th of August, 2002, 22:42
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Itches looks up in puzzlement as Paladin speaks of "seeing". About to ask question he catches a look from shade and Quickly shuts his mouth again.

Then without warning everything happens at once. More of the dogmen jump out of the bushes and attack, Paladin charges forward into battle. Caught in Panic Itches freezes on the stop, unsure what to do in the sudden battle

"One of you -- get the warrior loose, and give him a weapon! I need a moment to help him, or we'll surely perish!"

Hearing the command, the half-elf find he can move again. Relived to be of some help, without having to fight he makes his way darting across the battlefield to where Cadirus is tied up.

Those weapons, they want to capture us, not kill. Why?

Reaching where the man is tied up, the Aristocrat reaches out to shake the former paladin awake. As his hands touch where Cadirus was, before his very eyes the image wavers and turns to mist.

What the??!!

Turing around to see his companions in battle, Itches almost screams at them "It Inst Him!! It was An Illusion"
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  #58  
Unread 15th of August, 2002, 00:06
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As she is moving towards the big gnoll, Maeko hears Itches' warning.

Trap! And they want prisoners... it could work to our advantage.

As soon as she is in range, Maeko leaps and kicks the big one, catching him on the side of the head; the man-wolf roars and swings his weapon, trying to crush this nuisance.

Maeko feels the impact He must have brocken bone, she tries to roll with the blow and barely succeeds, landing on her feet on the same side she arrived; her right arm dangles, uselees from her shoulder.

OOC 6 hp to the gnoll, but Maeko got 10 (and now is down to 17).
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Unread 15th of August, 2002, 00:13
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One of the other gnolls bursts from its hiding spot in the bushes and joins the fray. Swinging a rather unpleasant looking club it runs up behind the wounded monk swinging. Maeko senses the blow just before it happens and manages to roll slightly with the attack.

((OOC: G1 moves and attacks, Maeko takes 6 subdual damage))
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Unread 15th of August, 2002, 00:36
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She eyes the paladin's back as he concentrates on the trail ahead, feeling uncomfortable in his presence. Unconsciously she wonders if he feels the same way. She knew that one of his stature could feel evil the same way she could feel the heat of the sun, and briefly her mind goes back to the dark forest where she began this trek. Would such a place blind him?

What is it that he sees?

Her heart drops as she sees Cadrius; he looks like death itself and for a moment her strength flees her as she fears the worst. The words of Paladin come back to her -alive but weak- and her hopes rise once again. Itches has already foolishly charged forward, despite the possibility of a trap. Paladin is moving forward as well when the trap is sprung.

As if it could be anything but, and yet the men charge blindly forward. Some things never do change.

Maeko leaps past her to aid Paladin just as Itches touches Cadrius and he abruptly disappears. Her mind screams as his image fades; was he still alive somewhere? She needed to know. Rushing forward in Maeko's wake, she can almost feel the shock of the blow as the club slams into her friend. Angling to flank the beast, her twin swords flash as they spring silently out from her sheathes. She aims a savage cut at the club wielder and is rewarded with the feel of her steel biting into flesh and bone.

<OOC: 10 damage to G1.>
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Unread 15th of August, 2002, 00:42
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Two more gnolls burst from their hiding places each one moving off to acquire a new target: one to Shade, one to Itches. They snarl and snap at their opponents as a bits of froth and spittle fly from their lips.

The one facing Shade displays a rather remarkable amount of skill wielding its club as it catches her in the side, knocking the wind from her.

Itches fares little better as he is struck in the forearm by the club.

((OOC: 5 subdual to Shade, 4 to Itches))
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Unread 15th of August, 2002, 03:01
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Meanwhile...

Unaware of the battle raging in the woods Cadrius slowly opens his eyes and is greeted by the same darkness that he had sunk into previously. What time was it? Where was he? He can't answer these questions. What had happened to him? It felt like he had been knocked into next week.

He tries to prop himself up but quickly finds his arms and legs bound. The knots in the rope dig cruelly into his flesh as he attempts to struggle into an upright position. A rock wall. He feels the stone behind him. Was he in a cave? A dungeon?

Reaching up to touch his jaw he winces and cries out. Pain shoots through him and tears roll down his cheeks. It was broken or badly dislocated. A memory flashes, a giant gnoll smashing its mailed fist into his face. The rest comes back together in a rush. He had come barreling down the path like the idiot that he was and he had been ambushed.

But why wasn't he dead? Or was he? No, he didn't think so. Death wasn't supposed to be like this.

It is then that Cadrius realizes he isn't alone. He hears some similar ragged breathing somewhere in the darkness nearby. Was it another gnoll to finish the job? A monster? Another captive?

"Who's there," he manages to ask, the words barely being able to be formed around his wounded jaw.
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Unread 15th of August, 2002, 07:20
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"It isn't him! It was an illusion!"

"Damn it!" the paladin growls as he brings his sword up over his head, intent on the armor-clad gnoll before him. As he brings his sword down, his foe begins twirling one end of the double-headed flail to intercept it, and the other gnoll sees his opening. Crouching low, it pulls its arm back to strike at the paladin's wounded knee.

It sees the massive blade swinging for its face a moment too late.

Ignoring the cry of pain and the splashing of blood and tissue from the lesser gnoll, the paladin brings the claymore up from the gnoll's head, driving it into the warrior's belly. The blade cuts deep, leaving a mortal wound and catching in the beast's ribcage.

As he strains to pull the sword free, the paladin yells, "Be careful over there! Whatever placed that illusion may still be nearby!" His temporary lapse in attention is rewarded by another strike to his already wounded leg -- this time, the spiked ball pulls the armored plate clean off his leg, taking a swath of hide with it.

[[OOC: First roll is 18+6=24, doing 15 damage to G1, after modifying by +/-2 for Power Attack; second roll is 16+6=22, doing 17 damage to WG -- Cleave follow-up. Don't have enemy numbers available, but I figure that the first dies, the second's badly hurt. Its counterattack, after Maeko acts, hits with a base roll of 15 (I assume its attack bonus is at least +2), for 10 points of damage -- ouch!]]
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Unread 16th of August, 2002, 00:34
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"You're voice sounds familiar.." Comes the reply to Cadrius' question. "It's been so long since I heard it.. a pitty I cant see who you are." Cadogan says out of the darkness. "'Tis a pitty I didn't study the arts further, I could have had us out by now had they not bound my hands. You do know that the elves have many means of casting magicks? Extraordinary!" The typical Cadogan way he sounds full of joy despite the situation.

"Oh. Sorry, I seem to be forgetful of where we are. Its a cave, my ears tell me this much. Can you see?" The Mage asks the fellow captive across from him.
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Unread 16th of August, 2002, 00:53
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Cadrius strains his eyes in the total darkness of the cave. So it was a fellow captive, and his voice did sound familiar, but from where? It is too dark to see though. Phantasmal shadows dance across his vision, but he thinks he can see a similarly slumped form several feet away.

"No," he chokes out, his jaw sending jolting pain through him, "I cannot."

Yet who was this person with him? He seemed familiar certainly. Could it have been one of those from that border town? Back before this journey started, when Cadrius thought he might find a quiet death as a guard, he could have met this one there. He had certainly met quite a few odd characters in that town during his short stay.

It wasn't Whonan, and it didn't sound like the man who wore purple pants. Who could it be? Certainly not the halfling, and the dwarf was dead. Could it be the blind one? He hadn't spoken much to him, but indeed it could. It might explain why he asked if Cadrius could see.

He feels the blood drying on his face and his vision swims again. Gods, he had taken a beating in the past day. What time was it, anyway?

"Can you," he pauses, the pain making speaking a monumental undertaking, "get free?"
  #66  
Unread 16th of August, 2002, 01:12
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"I could try something." Comes the reply, "I dared not try it before for fear of being found trying to escape - and consequently ending my little adventure." He explains. There is a long pause and Cadrius thinks the person working his bindings or some other devious trick.

"It might be dangerious, I'm unarmed, but my arts could compensate... somewhat. If you wish I will attempt to escape, but be ready." There is more silence as Cadogan finishes whispering across the room. Cadrius thinks the words that follow are strained or in pain, they seem inhuman, could it be his mind?

Suddenly the cave lights up for a split second, as the a thin sheet of flame shoots from bound hands against a stone wall and back against the instigator of the spell.

Cadogan Squirms in pain as his own magical flames burn his hands - but hopefully it would be be burning his binds as well and the price was worth it. Quickly the light disappears, and Cadogan lets out a yelp of pain from the burns. However the burning embers of badly scortched rope still shine through the room.

And Cadogan uses all his might to break the rope, the mage finding it painful as his new burns rub against the binding slowly cracking it untill finally his hands are free.

"Never ask me to do that again!" Cadogan whispers across the room, "It's done. Hold on!"

Cadogan crawls across the floor in haste, his legs still bound. He feels around in the soil, finding Cadrius' leg and working his way up to the shoulders, then down to the elbows and finally to his bound hands.

"This might be tricky..." Cadogan explains as he feels the hemp rope and begins to try to work it loose.

(Cadogan takes 6 damage)
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Last edited by Cadogan Trahem; 16th of August, 2002 at 01:15.
  #67  
Unread 16th of August, 2002, 01:39
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Cadrius winces as there is a sudden burst of flame. Shutting his eyes to the blinding light, he listens carefully as the man yelps in pain and then slowly works his way out of his bonds. No matter who it is, he's resourceful. As he opens his eyes again he can see the faintly glowing cinders on the floor of the cave. After the immersion in darkness they seem as bright as a campfire.

"Right," he says in response to never asking the man to burn himself again. Cadrius flexes and relaxes his arms and wrists, attempting to aid in the loosening process.

But where were they? Would it matter if they were freed only to find themselves lost in some underground complex? And if they were to find their way out, wouldn't there be more than just a few gnolls to stand in their way? He sighs, it mattered little now. He could not let the man go ahead on his own. Especially after burning himself so.

He waits patiently as the man attempts to further undo the knots.
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Unread 16th of August, 2002, 01:51
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Turing away from the mist that once was Cadirus, Itches screams a warning to the others. Then a shadow falls across him. Turning slowly he looks up to see one of the Dogman standing over him, its yellow eyes wide. His mind flashing back towards the night he first faced them, Itches once again freezes in terror.

Seeing an easy target before him, the Gnoll gives an evil leer and swipes. Surprising even himself, Itches ducks, and raises his arms above his head. Feeling the blow bounce of it, and his arm going numb, the Half-Elf gives a terror filled scream, and bolts - directly into the still leering Gnoll. Un-expecting the sudden charge, the Gnoll stumbles backwards, and losses his footing. By pure chance the dog-like-creature falls towards the tree, where the image of Cadirus had been placed. Its head bouncing off it, it lands in an unconscious state on the floor.

All of which Itches never views, having been render out-cold after slamming head first into the creatures armour, and now lay barely 5ft away from his opponent.

((Don’t even try working out the rolls for this one, it was pure story telling. And Itches has not once soiled himself. . . well okay maybe that one time, but you should of seen the size of that goblin))
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Last edited by itches; 16th of August, 2002 at 02:01.
  #69  
Unread 16th of August, 2002, 04:03
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Maeko tucks her useless right arm into her sash, the gnoll smirks, smelling the kill, while the monk, instead of running, executes an 'iron fan ' attack with her left hand, tacking the beast at the throath.

The gnoll moves forward one step, then his knees bend and he collapses, dead.

9 hp to the gnoll
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Unread 16th of August, 2002, 04:46
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A vicious swipe from Paladin drops Shade's foe in a spray of blood, while the armored fighter uses this momentum to launch a devastating strike on what can only be the leader of this small group. He scores a telling blow although his enemy manages a strike of his own in return. Unfortunately, the thing makes the mistake of overlooking Maeko as a possible threat. She disabuses him of this notion with a wicked strike to the throat; it's eyes bulge as it sinks to the ground, dead.

From the corner of her eye she spots Itches' blurred form as he charges into a gnoll; the ground vibrates slightly as the two crash into a tree and both fall senseless. Focused on the lone remaining enemy, she ducks and weaves looking for an opening, although in a one on one fight the beast manages to keep a tight guard.

She dives and tumbles to put the beast between her and her companions, although they are still far enough away that the gnoll keeps his attention soley on her. As she springs up from her crouch, she drops the point of her left sword as though off balance and is rewarded when the gnoll rushes into the opening. She spins, gracefully avoiding the blow and lands a solid blow on it's extended arm, only partially blocked by the thing's armor.

<OOC: 7 damge to remaining gnoll.>
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Unread 16th of August, 2002, 05:21
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The paladin turns toward Maeko, letting one hand loose from his sword. "Nice kick." Just as he's about to say more, the sound of Itches screaming in terror reaches his ears. He whirls around, facing the source of the sound. "Help Shade and finish that one. I'll be busy over there."

He rushes to the post, only to see the two combatants lying on the ground, motionless. He quickly checks the minstrel for signs of life; his arm is bleeding badly, but otherwise he seems all right. The paladin drops to a crouch next to Itches, placing his free hand on the injury. For a moment, everything around them seems to be completely still -- and, when the paladin removes his hand, the bleeding has stopped, though the wound is far from healed.

"Right," he says, looking at the unconscious gnoll. "Time for some answers."

[[Laying on hands: 1 point of healing for Itches, enough to stabilize him just in case.]]
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Unread 16th of August, 2002, 05:33
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Realizing that its odds were rapidly becoming stacked in its favor the remaining gnoll forgoes all defense and bolts for the bushes. Shade lashes out with her short sword, but only succeeds in slicing the air where the gnoll's neck had been a second earlier.

It bolts into the bushes sprinting as fast as it can.
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Unread 16th of August, 2002, 05:53
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Her heart pounding with anger and fear, Shade swings wildly as the gnoll rushes off. Her hands clench momentarily on her blades and she takes a few strides after it before stopping. A fraction of a second later she turns her head and spits into the ground.

Let it go. There are more important things to tend to.

Her eyes burning, she can see Paladin hunched over Itches and the unconscious gnoll. She grinds her teeth at the clear trail beyond them: it was obvious that something had been dragged from this spot. Without a glance at Maeko behind her she starts jogging toward the others. Paladin looks up at her but she continues on by without stopping, eyes fixed on the trail in front of her.

Enemies of mine: beware.
  #74  
Unread 18th of August, 2002, 16:01
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LonePaladin
Mohrg [GM]

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The paladin looks up as Shade rushes past, keeping her eyes on the ground but still alert to her surroundings. "Don't go too far," he calls out. "There may be more waiting, and we don't need another ambush right now."

He looks over the unconscious gnoll. Somehow, the minstrel managed to drive the beast into the pole, knocking it out cold. He casts around the area, hoping one of them had some manacles, or some rope. Finding none, he thinks back to his ransacked campsite. I HAD some rope there, he thinks ruefully, but those cowards had to tear it up, didn't they?

Finally giving up in his search, he decides to wait for the thing to wake up on its own. He's not sure if Itches should be moved, and he'll be damned if he'll risk the beast waking up first.
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  #75  
Unread 18th of August, 2002, 22:50
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Cadogan Trahem
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Back in the darkness, Cadogan works the bindings which hold Cadrius in place. The man lays prone and helps as best he can. The mage stops and Cadrius feels uneasy finally he continues to work the bindings finally freeing Cadrius from the restrictions of hemp rope around his wrists.

Cadogan immediately helps the man sit up.

"I guess you can do the rest yourself?" Cadogan asks the rhetoric question throught the darkness at a whisper. He himself is already working the bindings on his own legs.

"We mustn't leave right away, I need to find my equipment. Its very important that I do." He whispers to Cadrius as he grunts, the hemp rope rubbing hard against his exposed shins.
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