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  #1  
Unread 5th of July, 2011, 05:08
Mr P
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Training Day

“Accompany me home, Dal?” Sahlra whispered with a smile. Honey colored hair streamed across her fair skin like sunset painted on still clouds. Heady from mead and the din of the party, Dal could only nod.

She led him through the cramped streets of Triboar, and he followed eagerly. The smell of her perfume, the rustle of her skirts, and the unspoken promises of her hot breath on his ear, dulled his instincts.

He should have known better.

Her house was dark, and inviting. Sahlra came from merchant stock, or at least that’s what she had said. The home looked it – appointed as it was with an eye towards displaying the family’s wealth, and not with much regard to taste. In Waterdeep it was common for the merchant class to try to buy the respect earned by the nobility, and the same was true here in Triboar, a small town on the edge of the Savage Frontier. He had walked away from the constant maneuvering of the guilds, and the noble houses years ago, sick of the carnage from their wars of money, lies and power.

Wars that took everything from him.

But Waterdeep was like the morning fog under the fire of Sahlra’s lips. Time stood entrapped in the cage of lightning their limbs and hands made as they kissed, and for the first time he could remember Dal felt...

Peace…

Love…

Free.

He should have known better.

He couldn’t remember what happened next. Maybe it was the creak of a floorboard that caught his attention, or the faint hiss of honed steel sliding from an oiled sheath, or scuff of soft leather boot on the floor.

Whatever it was it saved his life.

Panic burned through the haze of mead and hormones as he spun, his left arm rising in time to intercept the long poniard aimed at his back. The foot long blade slid easily through his tunic and between the two bones of his forearm. Pain exploded in his brain driving all thought from his mind beyond the primal desire to live. Chaos erupted in the room, wild, screaming chaos that stunk of fear and blood. The world ran red as the two assassins sliced and stabbed at him relentlessly.

Suddenly it was done, and he was standing there above their bodies, his knife caked with their blood, and his own pouring into the once white tatters of a tunic hanging from his chest. His heart pounded in his ears as only his adrenaline kept him standing.

“Dal?” the sound was unintelligible, but the touch on his shoulder was real. He spun, his body acting faster than his eyes.

It was Sahlra.

Honeysuckle hair drifted like lazy stalks of wheat across her face, and her eyes were as blue as the summer sky. Her hand gently touched his cheek and for a moment they were together again. He saved her. He saved her and now everything was going to be alright. Her mouth parted like she was going to speak, but no words came.

Something flowed over his hand. Something warm, and thick, and…

“Do you think he’s awake yet?”

“No. Humans sleep for many hours.”

“What’s it like?”

“What”

“Sleep”

“Uncontrolled…like most things human.”

“It looks…painful.”

“Not nearly enough.”

“Shhh, I think he’s waking.”
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  #2  
Unread 8th of August, 2011, 10:32
Doghounds
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Dal awoke, opening his eyes in the process. Beads of sweat had formed on his forehead like teardrops. Seeing the two elves next to him caused fear to strike through his heart. The dream had left him in a daze, he tried to scramble on his back away.

One of the elves, a women with auburn hair that had a face of an angel, moved as if she was to try and calm him, but the other elf stared with a face that was hardened, most likely by war, and stuck his arm out, stopping her in the process.


He didn’t get very far, bumping into a tree behind him. He sat against it and his eyes darted around, taking in his surroundings. Tall trees scattered the area, moss covered most of the stumps. Short green grass blew back and forth in the wind. Rays of light could be seen peaking through the leafy canopy above him, giving him some comfort to the gloomy forest surrounding him.

He had slept on what seemed to be a makeshift bed, composed of a blanket covering the ground and a supply pack that acted as a pillow.

Still in a daze he looked out into the open forest and asked, “Where am I?”
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  #3  
Unread 9th of August, 2011, 04:42
Mr P
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The hard lines in the male elf's face grow harder as he his amber eyes bore into the Dar's.

Druvaugghn Nauvauren.

The name burns through the fog of nightmare soaked sleep and drops like a stone into the pit of Dar's stomach. Drubhaugghn Naubhauren; Lord Ranger of the High Wood, Keeper of the Crescent Chalice, Order of the Mithril Leaf, slayer of the green wyrm Shauzhedjeth...the list went on.

At well over 600 years old the Druvaughn was the epitome of what it meant to be a ranger of the High Forest. When elven boys played ranger and orc, it was Druvaughn's name they invoked. When elven girls dreamed of being rescued from dragon haunted towers, Druvaughn was the hero who saved them.

Why this paragon of elvendom had chosen Dar, a human, to be amongst his last class of students was a mystery to any that knew him, and caused no small amount of scandal in the oaken halls of Evereska.

"We leave whenever you are ready Saer Dundragon," he says quietly. With a nod to Gweyynneđ, he turns and quickly disappears into the trees.

"You ok Dal?" Gweyynneđ says at length.

Last edited by Mr P; 19th of September, 2011 at 07:46.
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  #4  
Unread 16th of September, 2011, 08:26
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Fear. Pain. Hopelessness.

All these things flashing through Dal's mind as his mentors icy stare held hold of him.

A memory, parents; dead. Hot fire surrounds like the gates of hell had been unleashed into his bedroom. The memory fades.

Next he sees ashes.
House gone.
Parents gone.
His brother keeps a hand on his shoulder perhaps in comfort. The memory jerks and is gone.

A new house. Different royal family. Dal's brother turns to speak. Words form. He explains his involvement in the fire for money. Dal turns and runs.

Crowded streets. Dashing in and out of stalls with speed as he did when he was a child. Angry shouts chase after him.
He is being pursued.

Cold, damp, earth. He sleeps in a puddle, begging for his share in food. The memory flashes.

Months go by. A friendly face appears. Fathers Huntsman. Sedric.
Warmth. Food. Clothing.
Hope.

Another flash. Woodlands. Trees surround. Sedric leads the way. Towards the Elven Ranger Camp.

Training. Harsh routines come into practice. Always in the corner of wherever Dal is a stranger with his cloak pulled up around his head, masking his face.
Watching.

A name forms in Dal's head.

Druvaughnn

"You ok Dal?" Gweyynned says at length.

Dal shakes his head, removing the effect his masters stare had on him. He goes to stand up.

Now able to think clearly again he looks to Gweyynned and says with a bit of nervousness, "Yes, of course."
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  #5  
Unread 19th of September, 2011, 09:08
Mr P
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Hours drift by the three as they quickly make their way through the deep twilight under the trees. They had said little since Druvaughnn had given them their equipment and they had broken camp. Each ranger-to-be now carried a brace of elven kynacs – elegant, double edged blades the length of Dal’s forearm and two fingers wide – as well as a shu’riev. The shu’riev was a slender hatchet made of a single piece of light elven steel and close to 2 and a half feet long. Whereas the kynac was made for piercing and finesse, the shu’riev was made to hew and crush. It was both tool and weapon, and its weight felt more natural in Dal’s hand than any of the score of elven weapons he had trained with. Besides their blades each was given a simple longbow of polished heart wood and five broad bladed arrows in a quiver made to keep them from clattering while they moved.

Druvaughnn signals for a stop and then fades into the foliage, leaving his two charges breathing heavy and alone beneath the craggy bows of a towering oak. Gweyyneđ checks her gear once more as she catches her breath. Her slim hand darts over her shoulder in a mock draw, touching each arrow nock in turn. The deepening shadows of the forest seem to harden her ethereal features, the tautness of her lips betraying the anxiousness they both felt.
Soon the waiting would be over. They both knew that when Druvaughnn returned he would give them their trial, and then it would simply be a matter of doing it. Of course what a living legend considered “simple” would more than likely mean their doom.

Either way, at least the waiting would be over.

Another hour finds the two silently waiting in the deepening umbra of understory, with only the chatter of squirrels and the knotting of their guts to keep them company.

“Are you rahn ready?” Druvaughnn’s voice slinks from the shadows.

Rahn was the elven term for the wood of a newly sprouted sapling: green, untried, and mostly useless. Dal and Gweynneđ had been called rahn for so long that they almost forgot their real names.

They both nod.

“Good. Here is your trial – you are to travel toward the headwaters of the Delimeiyr and find the black ruins of Hellgate keep. Once there you are to descend to the crater’s floor and retrieve a shard of iyl’latharan, what the Nethelese called demon glass. Once you have a suitable piece you are to transport it to Grandfather Tree so that he may read it.” With a smirk he tosses a skin of water to the ground. “You have a tenday to return.”

The pair glance at each other nervously. Hellgate Keep – Doorway to the Realms Below, Mouth of the Pit, the Womb of Evil. Hellgate was once Ascalhorn - a thriving moon elf city in the northern woods. Ascalhorn was place of beauty and tolerance where man and elf lived peaceably until a baatezu infiltrated it and spread its web of corruption through their heart. When they realized what was happening their wizards summons demons to battle the devil and the resulting war tore the city apart.

But it wasn’t until the demons won that the real suffering began.

It was then that Ascalhorn ceased to be and for the next five centuries the towers of Hellgate would cast a dark shadow over the north of High Forest. Four years ago elves and Harpers combined their might to level Hellgate, and to contain its taint the mighty leader of the treants Turlang kept vigil. Yet with all of this, whispers of deep evils still stir.

When they look back to their mentor he is gone.

At least the waiting was over…

Last edited by Mr P; 20th of September, 2011 at 09:19.
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  #6  
Unread 21st of October, 2011, 09:46
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“What should we do?”

Gweyynneđ’s eyes shone eerily in the dappled moonlight, her voice softer than a whisper. They had been traveled north east for nearly three days, stopping only briefly to catch an hour or two of sleep. By his estimation they would reach the ruins of Hellgate tomorrow afternoon, but now...now things were complicated.

It was Gweyynneđ that had spotted him first, stumbling from exertion his clothes ragged, his black skin caked with dirt and his white hair matted with blood.

Drow.

One Drow weaponless, and half dead from exhaustion was not much of a threat.

But he was not alone.

Dal had almost loosed an arrow at the fleeing drow when his pursuers melded out of the forest, their black skin and white hair painted in hues of green and brown. Quiet as any ranger, the black skinned elves flitted after their prey, four women dressed in leathers and armed with bows and sabers, followed by a male Drow dressed in black silks and carrying a short ebony rod capped with a fist sized garnet, and one woman dressed in the robes of Llolth.

The hunting party disappeared into the woods as quietly as they had come, their path west-south-west - straight into the heart of the High Wood, and directly opposite the way to Hellgate.

Dal breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t until the soft whisper of footsteps was gone that he lowered his bow, still keeping the arrow knocked in the bowstring though.

Dal began to ponder the situation, his forehead wrinkling in concentration. He thought he had a few choices.

One, he could disregard the drow and what he had just seen. But if he left it alone, those same pursuers may show up later on his path to the ruins.

Two, he could help the drow. Begin tracking where they had gone. The slight problem with this is when he caught up to them he would be outnumbered. Judging by their weaponry they had the ability to fight closely and from afar. If it came to frontal confrontation he would lose.

Dal stared into the distance, trying to remember what his mentor would do in a moment like this.

Check your surroundings, its always better to fight in close, dense area rather then in the open.

That was it. His eyes lit up like the stars above them.

“Gweyynneđ, the map!” Dal said in a rushed but hushed voice.

Gweyynneđ looked to Dal with the weirdest expression but shrugged, pulling out the map and handing it to him.

Dal quickly walked to an area where the moonlight broke the treetops. Setting the map down he looked for the land feature he vaguely remembered seeing. He motioned to Gweyynneđ.

“I checked this map before we left. Entering the High Wood from the east means crossing...” Dal said moving his finger searching over said map, “Ah-ha! This!” he said pointing out the small river sketch that reached from the far north down past the High Wood into the south.

“The drow’s pursuers are pushing him against the river. Crossing it will take time and they will catch him their. Especially since hes injured. If we can surprise them then we can force a battle against the bank of the river. Giving them little room to move,” Dal said finishing his explanation to Gweyynneđ. He turned his head to her looking for guidance or suggestion. Perhaps even permission.

“So...you want to...help....the drow?”

Dal looked again to Gweyynned. Searching her eyes. He had forgotten how much the wood elves despised the drow.

“Well I view it as our only option. For if we leave them alone they might show up later in our travels. The way I see it, its better to engage on our terms, then their terms,” Dal said with a sense of authority.

“As long as we’re clear that they all die.”

Dal searched Gweyynned’s eyes. “All except for the drow. We need him.”

And with that Dal swiftly ran into the dense forest as quiet as a mouse. Praying that Gweyynned would follow him.

Last edited by Mr P; 7th of November, 2011 at 13:00. Reason: Gender change
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  #7  
Unread 7th of November, 2011, 13:25
Mr P
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The lanky drow sprints across the open clearing, very much aware of how exposed he felt. Any other night he would have stuck to the edges, gliding silently between the shadows of the great maple and oaks, as still and silent as death. The far edge of the clearing looms before him, a wall of brush and saplings struggling for light. He plows through, clenching his teeth against the lashing of thorns and staccato of breaking wood.

He desperately splashes into the shallow river beyond, his ragged and blood legs whipping the slow, brown water into noisy, coffee colored foam. He is almost up the opposing bank when the pain bolt slams into his back and sends him reeling. The drow spell burrows into his nerves like maggots of fire.

But this was not his first taste of drow magics.

Fighting through the pain the thin, haggard dark elf regains his balance and crawls up the muddy embankment. It isn’t until the third bolt that he finally collapses into a twitching ball.

Naturally it was Akordia and Qiluè, SiNafay’s personal guard, that found him first. To his magic twisted senses the twin sisters seemed to glide and meld into terrain. Black skin and black hearts flitting through the shadow.

“You’ve been a naughty slave,” Akordia’s sing-song voice chided as she slides the collar around his neck. Red runes flare to life as it locks into place. “The mistress will take great delight in punishing you.” He couldn’t tell which of them were talking, not that it mattered. The last of his hope died with the activation of the runes.

“Aww...look Qiluè. He’s crying.”
“Pathetic.”
“Perhaps we should put him out of his misery?”
“The mistress would be displeased. She has missed her pet, and would be most upset if he were damaged.”

The pain-haze from Akordia’s spell begins to fade and he can feel something sharp pressing into the skin along his jaw.

“Aww”
“Well...not permanently damaged at least,” the blade of the scimitar slices neatly through the skin of cheek. One of the sisters let out a squeal of delight. He closes his eyes, knowing that this is just a taste of the decades to come.

A ripple flows over his flesh, like a breath of winter blown over warm, naked skin. An instant later something lands hard on either side of him followed by a shower of hot coppery rain.
Blood.

Frantic eyes blink back the stinging fluid that covered his face and ran into his mouth. A slim human dressed all in black crouches over him, her eyes black as the Abyss. Her arms are crossed across her body tucking a pair of curved short swords with blades that matched her eyes along her side. Wisps of shadow still clung to her smoke like, and about her feet the heads of the twins roll in the bloody mud of the bank.

Before he could think to move one of those wicked blades whistles through the air, its bloody edge stopping just on his lips.

“Shhhh” the woman whispers, and in a flash of inky midnight is gone.
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