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  #101  
Unread 17th of December, 2004, 18:54
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Three days. Three frickin' days since he ran from that stinkin', lumbering mass of rubber and claws. And he just had to wedge himself into this space, didn't he? And finally, finally, someone arrives -- only to tell him off and walk away. Not even a "how'd you get in there" or a "hang on, we'll try"; he could tell from the woman's tone that she'd prefer if he simply pissed off.

She didn't even give him a chance to ask for some water.

Finally reaching the point of true desperation, he closed his eyes, concentrating on the link he'd forged with Kahlan two years ago. Not strong enough for true communication, he could only send emotions, feelings, and vague imagery. With as much will as he could muster, he focused on the sounds of the voices of his should've-been rescuers, coupling it with a strong sense of purpose.

* * *

As Shade and Ben reach the top of the slope, they spot something completely out-of-place in this sort of terrain: a cat. Small for an adult cat, it sits right in their path, gazing up at them with fully-dilated golden eyes, and meows piteously.
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  #102  
Unread 18th of December, 2004, 01:24
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"I am many things, bard," Cadrius says, watching the elf collect the pieces of armor, "but jolly is not one of them."

Nicos' compassion is unsettling. Neither the bard nor the fallen paladin had much love for the other. Why the bard would suddenly become companionable is beyond Cadrius. He still doesn't trust the man, and hasn't since meeting him in the sewers beneath Karkas. And yet he had saved Cadrius' life this time. Salvation by fire. I did not expect that.

"Thank you...elf-maid," he says, uncertain of how to properly address the woman. All etiquette has fled his mind and he stands, feeling more than slightly awkard. Not even the few simple phrases of elven he had been taught remains. He feels akin to a mug, freshly drained of ale and with nothing but the dregs remaining.

With his good hand, he grasps one end of his bag and half-carries and half-drags it back to Nicos and the elf.

"I am Cadrius...just Cadrius."
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Unread 19th of December, 2004, 00:36
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"I am Cadrius...just Cadrius."
Surayon mutters a curse in Elvish under her breath, realising that Cadrius was unconscious when she introduced herself. Inclining her head towards him, she decides, for no real reason, to introduce herself formally.

"I am Surayon, of the Blackwood Elves. May sunlight guide your path by day, and starlight illuminate your steps by night. Tel'area vhar neekhar."

Straightening, she looks Cadrius in the eyes, then deciding that he can at least be trusted not to fall over, she moves away, scanning the surounding area, one hand drifting near the quiver over her left shoulder. Tossing a glance over her shoulder at the three men left in the clearing, she calls back,
"Shouldn't your friends be back by now?"
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  #104  
Unread 19th of December, 2004, 01:45
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Looking up from where he was futily attempting to cut down a sapling with a dagger, Blarth sees Cadrius on his feet. Straightening up, he heads back over to Cadrius, a look of concern on his face, "Are you sure you should be getting up? That wound is pretty bad. You could reopen it if you push yourself to hard."
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Unread 21st of December, 2004, 01:09
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"I appreciate the concern, Blarth," Cadrius says, swaying a bit, "but we cannot stay here. My experience with trolls is limited, but I do not know them to travel alone."

The orc has the right of it; too much movement and his wound will become worse. What he really needs is a soft bed and rest. Unfortunately for Cadrius, neither are available here. What little solace to be had remains firmly in the tower and Cadrius would gladly test his luck against trolls over wizards.

"A pleasure to meet you, Surayon." The word falls out of his mouth with little grace. Elven is a difficult language to master, particularly when you have but a fraction of an elf's life in which to learn it. Cadrius turns and regards the woman with a bit of wonder. To live for centuries; he's never really thought about it. And yet he envies her. In a hundred years none of his enemies, none of his family, nothing of his old life would remain. He could move on and carry naught but memories with him. No one would need know, except him. Time would likely not heal those wounds and instead of being pursued by the clergy, he would be chased solely by his own demons. Nothing would change.

"Blackwood? I have heard that before, but I'm afraid I do not know where."
  #106  
Unread 21st of December, 2004, 07:58
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Shade doesn't lead Ben back to camp. Not yet. They needed somewhere else to rest for a while, and preferably somewhere defensible without any large, hungry enemies nearby. As they start back up, Shade finds their way blocked by an unlikely feline: what appears to be a small housecat is sitting on the blasted rock of the slope. And, as is becoming the painful norm, it wants their help.

She tries to ignore the thing, but it tags along, mewling piteously. Finally, with a curse, she reaches down and picks it up and stares into the golden eyes.

"Enough."

Her voice is surprisingly gentle. In her mind, she is back in a small apartment in a much warmer place, with one of the neighborhood strays for company. She shrugs and tucks the creature into the crook of her arm then continues on her search. Instead of going all the way up the slope, she skirts East and then North. It doesn't take long to find what she is looking for. After a few quick words to Ben about the suitability of this new location, she takes them back a different way, looking for an easier way to get the rest of the group here.

Her stride slows as she nears their original campsite. Cadrius is standing, looking as grey as the lining of her cloak. He ought to be resting. Her pace quickens again, her mouth set in a tight line beneath the veil. There is disapproval in the gaze she turns on Cadrius.

"Alright. I found another spot. It isn't far."
  #107  
Unread 21st of December, 2004, 08:40
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Tilting her head slightly, Surayon turns as Shade enters the clearing.

"Alright. I found another spot. It isn't far."
She watches the woman's hands, her body language as she speaks; a slight flck of the hand, a movement of the head as is to look back before she stares at Cadrius. The gestures are enough to tell her which direction to take to get to the new site Shade has found. She walks over to the lashed together armour, and with an easy strength not shown by her typically slight elven form, swings the pack onto her shoulders, swaying slightly until her balance realigns. As she heads off in the direction Shade appeared from, she passes Cadrius, and in a quiet voice, answers his unspoken question, unable to keep the pain and bitterness from her tone.

"Nowhere. You heard it nowhere, Blackwood isn't anywhere. Not anymore."
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  #108  
Unread 21st of December, 2004, 16:08
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As soon as Shade reaches the campsite, the little tortoiseshell starts squirming, wrestling her way free of the woman's arm. Once back on the ground, she runs a short distance away, then looks back. Again, she voices a pitiable meow. She takes a few more steps, then looks back again.
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  #109  
Unread 21st of December, 2004, 16:33
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Rasing an eyebrow as the cat leaps from Shade's arms, Nicos dryly states.

"Found a new friend I see."
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  #110  
Unread 21st of December, 2004, 17:18
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Ben wondered what else was going to happen today. Yesterday had been more or less uneventful, and today it felt like the world was trying to make up for lost time. So far he had encountered and fought with a troll, assisted in an emergency life-saving manuever with a heated blade, met an elf for the first time in over a year, fallen down the slope of a hill, slammed his back into the handles of his shield when he landed, stumbled across a boulder with someone -- or something -- behind it who was asking for help, and then had left said someone there for...what? Even Ben couldn't quite say why he'd left, but there had been no reason to stay, that was for sure.

And now there was a cat. A plain, ordinary, every day housecat. Ben had to shake his head at that, even as Shade moved to pick it up. He wondered if it had anything to do with the man being trapped, but he let the thought slide. The chances of that were next to nil, and apparently Shade wanted to get something else done besides bring him back to camp. He ignored the woman's rather odd behavior concerning the cat, and tried his best not to slip on the slope again.

It wasn't until they had actually found what she was looking for, and she asked him some questions about the defensibility of the place, that he remembered that they could use a place more defensible than their battle site to rest. He looked the place over from a tactical point of view.

It wasn't much really, a slight depression in the ground with a single rock jutting out on one side of the "bowl" and stabbing into the air. The rock was impossibly huge though, easily rising fifty feet into the air and with a base that was probably twice that much. What looked like several crude paths lead up to one side or the other of the rock, or simply rose to the top to give an excellent lookout point, if one could climb them that is. The rock provided very nice cover, and would perform nicely as something to put their back against, or even use to help shield someone.

All in all it was very convenient, if a bit obvious. The rock could be seen from several hundreds of feet away, and was the obvious place for someone to camp. Then again, they didn't seem to have much of a choice, and the place was the obvious choice for a camp for very obvious reasons.

So Ben agreed that it was probably the best place for them to make shelter for the night. And with that, they headed back to the camp, taking a different route for reasons only Shade knew. She still had that cat with her, Ben noticed.

As they approaced the camp, Ben saw shade quicken her pace. He didn't follow her, rubbing his jaw which still stung just a bit. Though the new path Shade had chosen was much better than the slope, Ben had still slipped on a small patch of loose gravel. This time though, he had simple falled forward instead of going slidding, but his hands and jaw had a couple of new scratches to show, though none of them were bleeding.

He came up behind her just as the cat jumps out of her arm. It makes that same horrible cry from before, and Ben remembers the boulder from below for some reason.

"It found us more than we it," Ben proclaimed at Nicos' statement, still looking at the cat. "It was waiting for us after we found a boulder wedged up underneath a rock outcropping at the bottome of the rise over there," he points to the hill that he and Shade had visited. "I thought there might be a cave or something behind it, so was I trying to move it when she found me. Just as she spoke though, a voice came from behind the boulder."

Ben looked at the one-armed bard. They all looked like they were getting ready to move, and now was as good a time as any to tell them. "He said he was stuck, though I couldn't see how or why he was stuck. Not that it mattered, since I found I couldn't move the boulder by myself anyways. I couldn't see who was making the voice for that matter, so it might be some sort of trick. Still though, do you think we should try and help the poor sap? I mean, dying out here from starvation or thirst isn't my idea of a good time."
  #111  
Unread 21st of December, 2004, 19:53
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As the story of someone or something trapped behind a rock came out, Nicos' eyes shifted to Shade. However, if she held any opinion on the matter, it remained secreted behind her grey eyes. Nodding as Ben finishes the tale, the bard voices his opinion.

"After we get camp set up, I'll take a look. If it's a creature, I'm intrigued by something that would lay such a trap. On the other hand, if it's a person and they are indeed trapped. Well, there are more merciful ways to end your days then starving to death behind a rock."
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  #112  
Unread 21st of December, 2004, 23:31
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After the cursory inspection of their new camp, Shade pretty much ignores Ben. He doesn't seem to mind and she doesn't ponder the reasons. Just as the reach the others, the cat - which had remained a docile passenger up until now - suddenly turns into a squirming ball of claws. She drops it and it once more takes up its lonely mewling. Shade eyes the feline curiously for a moment, until Nicos makes his comment at which point she gives the bard a customary glare.

Ben chooses that moment to mention the cry for help they heard, and she grits her teeth. He just couldn't wait, could he? That fool Cadrius should be lying half delirious from pain, yet he'd managed to assume a standing position. All he needed was a cry for distress and he'd be off and running, no matter if it killed him. Thankfully, Nicos makes a sane suggestion.

"After we get camp set up."
  #113  
Unread 22nd of December, 2004, 05:12
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"My mistake."

Cadrius allows himself a slight glimmer of satisfaction. Her past is just as dark as his own, or Shade's, or likely any of those that currently roam these unforgiving lands. The elf would be in good company then with murderers, oathbreakers, adulterers, and gods know what else they've done. Cadrius smiles grimly. He has been trained to lead men in battle, but instead he leads a black company of misfits and outlaws. Perhaps it's a better fit afterall, even if he doesn't dispatch orders or engage in sieges.

He follows Shade the distance to her new camp. It was not far enough to discourage hungry trolls, but it is far better than bedding down on the blood soaked ground. Yet the fallen paladin eyes the rock a bit uncertainly. Climbing is far more difficult than walking a short distance, particularly with his belongings to drag along behind him.

"You wish me to climb up there?" He looks to Shade and then back to the natural watchtower. It's a good choice, very defensible, if easily seen. There are few trees this high up and none are anywhere near the size of the stone. Cadrius sighs. "Very well."

Dragging his equipment along the ground, he approaches the nearest path and gauges the roughly worn stone. It isn't quite as intimidating, but it will be arduous. All things in life are, he thinks. All things.

"If there is a man down there, we would do well to come to his aid or end his suffering by nightfall."

Last edited by Cadrius; 22nd of December, 2004 at 07:07.
  #114  
Unread 22nd of December, 2004, 23:39
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Surayon looks at the rock, jutting up out of the ground like an enormous monolith, and shivers slightly. She doesn't like it, it just reeks of ominous portents, of screams and sacrifice that she could hear just beyond her hearing. Then she pulls herself together; she's been looking at things in a dark light like that too often recently. Still, she is reluctant to spend too much time in close proximity to the rock, even if thats all it is; a rock. Dropping Cadrius's armour at the foot of the rock, she swiftly moves back towards their previous campsite, with a muttered, "Back soon" in Cadrius' general direction. Arriving at the clearing, and with the troll-fire beginning to smoulder and die, she works quickly, using brush, the occasional tree branch, and what little foliage there is it about to conceal the party's tracks; although Shade shows little evidence of her passing, signs of the others are all too clear; a new, defensible site would be useless if tracks lead any enemies straight to it.
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  #115  
Unread 23rd of December, 2004, 15:40
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The little cat sits at the periphery of the campsite, occasionally emitting a piteous meow and generaly looking pitiful. After a while, she finally wanders off into the encroaching darkness.

* * *

Back in the hollow, Xandir gets a feeling of resignation through his link to the cat, just as darkness approaches. Sighing in frustration, he fishes his waterskin out of his pack, holding it upside down for several minutes to get the last few drops from it. You tried, Kahlan, he thinks as he sends what gratitude he can muster to her. Squeezing the waterskin, he finally gives it up for dead and tosses the dried husk out the hole, leaving it lying in the sand. Perhaps someone else will wander by tomorrow and spot it.

Then again, perhaps not. He finds himself wishing he just had a spell to make himself stronger, or smaller -- or at least able to conjure up some water.
  #116  
Unread 29th of December, 2004, 02:22
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"If there is a man down there, we would do well to come to his aid or end his suffering by nightfall."

"Good idea," Nicos says, looking around what will be their camp site for the night. It wasn't a terribly bad spot, but neither was a place he would choose to camp at if he had a choice. Still, lacking a choice made the location more attractive then it would other wise have been.

"Why don't you stay here and concentrate on healing. Ben and I will go take a look at the mysterious trapped creature, and collect the first load of firewood on the way back. Agreed?"
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  #117  
Unread 30th of December, 2004, 10:13
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Looking at the monolith that shadows there new camp, Blarth considers it a moment before going about the buisness of setting up camp. Once camp is set up and Nicos and Ben head off to check on the..., whatever it was, Blarth comes back to the monolith and goes to climb it.

"I'm going to get the lay of the land," he says, as he begins climbing.
  #118  
Unread 5th of January, 2005, 02:04
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Cadrius is grateful to spend the night at the base of the stone rather than the summit, but he says nought of it. Instead the fallen paladin gives Nicos a nod and drops his belongings on the ground and slumps against the rock. Fatigue saps the remaining strength from his muscles and it's all he can do to simply keep his eyes open and alert.

He hears Blarth climbing, boots scraping against stone send pebbles and dust raining down. A few stray bits hit Cadrius, but they only barely register. He feels distant; he feels detached, as if he were in someone else's body. Yet the flamed-healed shoulder still burns, that much is real. He smiles mirthlessly. It's always pain that grounds him, that keeps him going. Now is no different. He turns over his right hand and slowly opens it, revealing the brand of Heironeous on the palm.

"Nothing has changed," he whispers to it before turning his hand over once more.
  #119  
Unread 5th of January, 2005, 09:07
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Ben frowned at Cadrius' comment of climbing to the top of the spire. Ben hadn't thought even he'd been able to climb to the top, the thought of forcing an injured man to do so caused an image of slaver's whips driving long-ago exhausted men to the brink of death. He banished the image, and the feeling of wrongness that accompanied it, away.

Still, he wondered, why didn't the thought of leaving whoever was trapped behind the rock immediatley call forth such a reaction?

Ben nodded to Nicos at the bard's suggestion for them to check out the boulder then get some firewood. Taking one last glance over the new campsite, he turned around and started leading Nicos to the booulder, taking the route that he and Shade had taken to get to the spire from the bottom of the rise.

Around the point they got to the battle site, Ben turned to Nicos. "Like I said before, we couldn't quite tell if whoever it was was actually human or not. But judging from the voice, the guy's been down there for a while, few of days if I had to make a guess. If we do decide to try and move the boulder, you'll probably have to go and get Blarth to help me. I couldn't budge that rock by myself no matter how hard I tried."
  #120  
Unread 5th of January, 2005, 20:56
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Returning to the campsite, Surayon glances around quickly, noting Cadrius slumped against the rock, and Blaerth occupied in climbing the spire; the others seem to have vanished to perform other tasks. She looks around, and moves over to a spot that gives a good view of the immediate area. Needing to do something to clear her mind from the anger and frustration she still feels, she draws her blades and launches into practising her sword-forms, moving gracefully, as if in a dance, the weapons moving around her in perfect harmony as she seeks to suppress the black mood taking hold of her - trying to fall into the emptiness she needs if she is to function.
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  #121  
Unread 6th of January, 2005, 13:06
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Crouched near the base of the monolith, Shade avoids the notice of those left in the campsite. Her grey eyes are focused on Cadrius but her mind is scattered. Beneath the midnight blue cloak, her knuckles are white around the hilt of her adamantine blade. He was in pain, that much was obvious, but there was something in his face that made her think he enjoyed it. The man threw himself into battle as though he were looking to die, for someone to answer the challenge and put him out of his self imposed misery.

Surayon returns, breaking the unpleasant mirror of her thoughts and presenting a new focus for her steely eyes. The elf handled her blades well enough, and with a conviction that spoke of the deadly serious. The adrenalaine thrills through her, somehow managing to fuel her spirit without warming her at all. Her hands relax slightly as they rest on the worn grips of her blades even as the supple muscles of her thighs tighten, ready to spring and draw steel in an instant. As she shifts her shoulders into the proper position the fine chain she wears around her neck catches the smallest bit against her skin.

And then, just like that, she relaxes back against stone. Behind the veil her teeth are bared but she forces her gaze away from the elf, releasing her swords and pulling her cloak tighter around her.

It didn't matter.

None of it did.
  #122  
Unread 7th of January, 2005, 16:16
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Making his way up the rock, for a moment Blarth forgets where he is and is back climbing the cliffs near the village at home. It had been one of the games the children played, to climb the cliff as fast as possible. Blarth had never won, never even come close really, but he had still enjoyed the feeling of the rock beneath his fingers and toes.

Too soon, however, he runs out of rock and reaches the top of the spire. Gazing out over the landscape, Blarth is suprised to find that he can't find the citadel on the horizon. They weren't so far away that it should be out of sight, especially given the height of this promitory, yet try as he might he can't make it out.

What he can find, lies two days travel away as the crow flies. Wisps of smoke pour from vents along the side of a high peak that must be Erol. Several vents near the base glow the red-orange color of molten rock. The wizards had failed to mention that Erol was a volcano, but there were no other peak quite as prominent in the area.

Turning his attention to the ground between them and the mountian, Blarth is able to pick out some of the prominent features that had been described to them. It didn't look very difficult, but then Shade was the one who had really paid attention to the details of the route, perhaps she would be able to see something Blarth did not.

Taking one last look around, Blarth scrambles back down the rock to find the elf practicing sword forms, Cadrius fighting both pain and sleep, and Shade stewing on her heels.

Going over to her, he says, "You can see what must be Erol from the top. Looks like its volcanic. Go ahead and take a look, I'll keep an eye on Cadrius."

"And the elf," Blarth adds after glancing at her where she practiced her forms.
  #123  
Unread 12th of January, 2005, 00:18
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"Well," Nicos said looking at the rock. "It certainly is big."

Examining the bolder from what he hoped was out of earshot of whatever was trapped inside, the bard frowned in thought before turning to Ben.

"You're right, you and Blarth should be able to shift it just enough for someone trapped to slip out. We could get the elf down here as well, and between the two of us we should be able to stop what ever it is in there from eating the pair of you. What do you think?"
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Last edited by itches; 12th of January, 2005 at 00:31.
  #124  
Unread 12th of January, 2005, 09:41
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Ben mulled over what the bard had said as he watched the boulder from beside the one-armed bard. He and Blarth would definately have to come, or else there would be no chance of moving the thing. And it had to be Blarth, with Cadrius injured and unable to really exert himself.

"No," he said as he remembered the injured man back at the new camp site. "No, that would just leave Shade and Cadrius at the camp then. An injured man and a single woman to fight off anything that might stumble upon them." He looked over at the bard and said, "You've traveled with them longer than me. We should probably just head back to the camp, and I'll grab the elf and Blarth to help me. That'll leave you and Shade to protect Cadrius."

"Not that I expect there'll be any trouble," he said as he returned his gaze to the boulder and whoever, or whatever, was trapped behind it. "But there is no sense in not being careful."
  #125  
Unread 12th of January, 2005, 17:09
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Posts: 1,019 (0.18 per day)
Ben notices something that wasn't there before, other than the errant footprints he and Shade had left the first time; just in front of the rock lies a discarded, dried-out waterskin. The little tortoise-shell cat that Shade had been carrying is lying nearby, watching the bag of leather with apparent suspicion.
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