RPG #12 - Fallen

Discussion in 'RPG #12 - Fallen' started by Nienor, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Leaning against the trunk of a tree, Val continued whittling the piece of wood she held in her hands. Here, the corner of a smiling mouth, and there a strand of hair.

    The Meddler had given her instructions. After walking for about two hours to the north, he had told her to wait there until the man came. “I won’t be coming myself for a while yet,” he said. “So it’s your job to get to know the other one first.”

    “What other one?”

    He had given her that irritating grin and said, “Trust.” And with that, he had simply disappeared.

    And here the nose begins… As her fingers continued to move, carving out a face from the wood, her mind recounted the old tales she could remember.

    An’sedarin. Bashel. Cuhirin. Daforin. Ebors. Fovrun… The list went on and on, but the nine mage-lords of black legend had been An’sedarin, Ma’erish An’sedarin’s brother, Jeilene their younger sister, Ystari, Faedrun, Navael, Sohun, Cuhirin, and Qhovin.

    Yet nothing she could remember mentioned anyone called the Meddler or the Seeker. Almost against her will, Mree’s voice resurfaced in her memories.

    Hear now the tales from before the Rising, of the thousand and one mage-lords of the Laraj. Yet nine were there of great power, and the greatest of them all was An’sedarin the Black, Mage-King. And his younger brother, Ma’erish, was near as powerful, as was Jeilene, their sister. But Ystari and Faedrun were also of great power, as were Navael and Sohun, and though Cuhirin and Qhovin were the least of the Nine, their power was terrible to behold, beyond the ken of common mortals or even that of mage-lords…

    He can’t be An’sedarin, she reasoned to herself. The Black Mage-King had been killed during the Rising, slain by General Rhaena Sondryn herself, as had Ma’erish and Jeilene. The rest of the Nine had met similar ends at the hands of other heroes. But it was hard to hold onto such common sense when she remembered the conversation from last night.

    “You could have been anyone, from a ditch-digger to An’sedarin himself.”

    “I could be. So could the Seeker.”


    Firmly willing herself to concentrate, she applied knife to wood, trying to ignore the tremors that ran through her body. The history of the Mage-Wars were terrible indeed… especially when her new ally claimed that he had been born before the Rising.

    This Meddler is not An’sedarin, she told herself, and swore when her hand jerked to the side and cut her left thumb. After rummaging through her pack for a length of cloth, she walked to the nearby stream and dipped the finger inside to clean it before wrapping it with the bandage.

    She sensed the presence more than heard it, or even saw it. All she knew was that one moment, she had been alone, and the next, she wasn’t.

    The muzzle of a gun poked into her back. “Stand up.” Obeying, she had to hide a smile. Remembering stories of the mage-lords sends me shivering, while a man threatening me with a gun doesn’t frighten me a bit.

    “Your name?”

    “Valhanna Amaryn.”

    “Give me your weapons.”

    She considered the options, then said, “No.” The bandage was becoming undone, so she unrolled it to retighten it.

    “What are you doing?” he demanded.

    Raising her hands to show him that she was unarmed, she finished tying it around her thumb before turning around. “Hello, Dailan,” she said quite calmly, having recognized the ‘other one’ at last. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2006
  2. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    “I’ve been waiting for you.” She said, which seems curious.

    "And why would I...." He cut off abruptly looking off tot he right, and raised his gun as if to fire there. The girl wasnt easily fooled but it put her off balance long enough.

    Dailan twisted his grip on the gun and swung it round, brining the butt round and slamming it into the girls partially turned head. She folded over into a heap on the floor. He could have stood there and had a quiet conversation but he prefered to do things his way.

    Not long after he had tied her up by her hands around a large tree, with an extra cord binder her neck to the trunk. He had searched her and deposited her weapons and belongings nearby.

    which left him sitting on a rock a few metred away from the unconscous girl, looking at the small wood carving he had foudn with her. When the first signs of movement came he hurled the thing away into the forest and went back to focusing his attention on her.

    "I wouldnt jerk too much, thats garrotte wire round your throat, one jerk and it'll take your head off"

    She seemed to comprehend enough, and put her head back, eyes struggling to focus on him. "Uhhhh" He was impressed to be honest, a hit like that to the head, could put some men out for days, and Dailan wasnt patient.

    "Where's your ship?"

    She said nothing, her look of defiance, or anger at him hitting her was laughable coming from a disorientated half conscious person. But he could tell she was well aware of the situation. He pulled out the knife she had been carving with.

    "Where?"

    "Crashed, at the bottom of a monster infested lake?"

    She didnt seem to be lying, her reactions were open. "And your partner?"

    Again nothing, perhaps she though he was fooled when she'd contacted him in the battle, and gave only her name, but Dailan didnt keep at the top of his game, or even alive, by ignoring his competition, mercs were notoriously untrustworthy, and it was definately a cutthroat business.

    Showing the knife again would be a hollow gesture so he went over and stabbed it in her thigh. Bluffing was never his style. When the blade went in she jerked almost kicking him, but he stepped back.

    "Now, I can either go into the woods and find some native rodent's crap and smear that on the wound and let it fester. Or. I can take out the cannister of medical foam to stitch the wound. Last chance. Your partner; Dhellani, where is she?"

    He saw the look in her eyes, the grudging acceptance. "We split up to cover more ground, she went east"

    Dailan nodded and fished the can out of his bag. When he stepped up closer he pried the flesh apart with his fingers and sprayed the beige foam into the would. It expanded round and filled over in a small lump.

    Walking round to the back of the tree he cut the cords holding her right hand and put a radio into it.

    "Now call for help, lets see who's listening" He put his gun to her head. "Say anything about me, or try and be sneaky and I wont hesitate at killing you."
     
  3. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Son of a b****. Her head was pounding as she fought past the pain, though she kept her eyes closed. She had her hands tied behind her back, and been bound to a tree with garrote wire around her throat in the bargain. It was a somewhat uncomfortable position, but she figured that she would live.

    F***ing Meddler. Perfect name for him.

    When Dailan had hit her on the back of the head, her first instinct had been to use shields and block the blow before killing him with a sansen. Armor was useless against a sansen, and it would have been child’s play to slam the sansen against one of half a dozen mortal spots when he couldn’t shoot her, protected by shields as she would have been.

    But the interfering, meddling bastard had prevented her from a normal reaction, taking control of her body for only a few seconds, but it had been enough. Leaving me with a b**** of a headache and sitting here as Dailan’s prisoner.

    Dailan was good. She had known that he was the best merc in the galaxy, but it was one thing to know it and another to face him. Alone, she didn’t stand a chance. With Dhel, she might have a chance. Might.

    Number one: don’t let him see that I’m awake until I have a chance to gather my wits together. She continued to feign unconsciousness, keeping her breathing slow and steady, and because he didn’t come over, she supposed that she had him fooled.

    All right, let’s assess the situation. Dailan just hit me over the head, and he’s probably going to interrogate me. I’m fine except for a headache. I’m really pissed at the Meddler for stopping me from defending myself. Just as well, maybe, she admitted to herself grudgingly. If I had tried to defend myself, he might have killed me instead.

    Assessment over. What next? She decided that it was about time to feign awakening, and managed a few twitches to get her captor’s attention.

    “I wouldn’t jerk too much,” Dailan said, his deep voice messing around with her head as she tried to fight past the subsequent pounding the sounds caused. “That’s garrote wire round your throat. One jerk and it’ll take your head off.”

    Thank you so much for that information. As if I couldn’t figure that out on my own. “Uhhhh…” she grunted, blinking rapidly. She was grateful that she’d kept her eyes closed before; she was having trouble focusing on Dailan as it was. Sunlight sucks.

    “Where’s your ship?” he asked.

    Fixing an expression of sulky defiance on her face, she mentally snarled, You’re the one who got me in this predicament, so you can damn well pull me out again.

    Unsurprisingly, the Meddler didn’t answer, but she could imagine his reply anyway. That’s not my problem, and in any case, you should be focusing on Dailan. He does have a knife in his hand, and I doubt that he’s the patient sort.

    He did indeed have the knife she’d been carving with in his hand, and was just holding it, not playing with it or any other foolery like that. But with Dailan, he didn’t need to make threats – it was all there in the stance of his body. “Where?”

    Fine, you really want to f***ing know? “Crashed, at the bottom of a monster infested lake?” Her tongue felt thick and swollen, almost clumsy, and she hid a grimace.

    “And your partner?”

    She could predict the – short – conversation that would have followed, if their pins had been working. Dhel, he knows that you exist.

    No big f***ing surprise.

    Pity Dhel isn’t here. When she didn’t answer, he walked over to her and stabbed it in her thigh. She couldn’t stop herself from jerking, but Dailan stepped back before her foot connected.

    It hurt, but she bore the pain with a stoicism that Anzed would have been proud of. “Now, I can either go into the woods and find some native rodent’s crap and smear that on the wound and let it fester. Or I can take out the cannister of medical foam to stitch the wound. Last chance. Your partner Dhellani; where is she?”

    She wasn’t sure if his threat would work or not, considering that she was Laraj – they were impervious to some things that killed humans – but it was better not to take chances. Dhel will be all right, especially if the Meddler’s with her. I hope. But looking at the chances, it was safer for both of them to tell Dailan where Dhel was. “We split up to cover more ground. She went east.”

    Nodding, he fished the can out of his bag and tended to the injury, ignoring her grimace as he sprayed the foam in there. I hate med foam. It’s so unnatural.

    Walking around the tree, he slashed at some bonds, and her right hand came free. Putting a radio in it, he said, “Now call for help. Let’s see who’s listening.” He put his gun to her head. “Say anything about me, or try and be sneaky and I won’t hesitate at killing you.”

    She yawned. The theatrics were starting to bore her a little – and besides her tongue was starting to feel normal again. Time to start pushing him and see what happens. “Well, no s*** I’m not going to tell everyone who might be on this gods-forsaken mudball that you’re holding me captive,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I like living, thank you very much.”

    Ignoring his impatient jab at her head, she dropped the radio on her lap and paused to brush some of her hair from her face and pick a few pieces of bark off her head. Picking it up again, she pretended to flick the power switch, held it to her face, and said, “Help. I’m so scared that I’m about to faint. Pretend that I’m crying. Add some more drama to the ‘Help me oh my god I’m so scared’ speech so that it actually sounds like an authentic plea for help. Some ass****’s making me do this, so sorry for the really bad oration. F***ing ow,” she added when he kicked her in her wounded thigh. “That’s right, go on kicking me where you just stabbed me when I’m tied up, have no weapon in my hand, and still dizzy because you hit me on the head. If it helps you sleep at night, hey, I’m all for it.”

    The jab to her head seemed a little more businesslike this time. “All right, all right, I’ll cut the s***,” she drawled. “And calm down. It’s not like the radio was even f***ing on.”

    “I know.” He still sounded pretty pissed off, though, and she mentally grinned. Being a pain in the ass was always fun.

    “OK, how’s this: ‘Essentially, I’m tied to a f***ing tree, have a radio in my hand, a gun pointed at my head, and I’m supposed to call for help – who to, I have no f***ing idea. Sorry for the swearing, but pain does that to me.’ ”

    Onjin’s voice echoed in her memories, drowning out whatever Dailan was saying. ‘If you’re going to die, see to it that you do it with a smile and dry underwear.’

    I’m doing fairly well at that. Morale’s good, as far as I’m concerned. But her vision was starting to slip, and she knew that she was going to have to adminster real treatment to her wounded leg soon. Her head was growing muzzy as well, though the sound of her captor’s voice jerked her back to consciousness.

    “Hey! Didn’t you hear what I said?” Dailan didn’t sound very pleased.

    Oh, wonderful. An attention whore who can’t stand to be ignored. “Did you say something?” Val asked, polite sincerity dripping from her voice. “Being stabbed in the thigh with a knife and then being kicked there does absolute wonders for my attention span.”

    “I said,” he said, grinding out the words, “that I want you to try another speech.”

    She wondered if she maybe ought to stop pushing Dailan – he really didn’t seem the patient sort at all, and she did like living. Eh, screw it, she decided. The worst he’ll do to me if I have a smart mouth is hit me over the head again. I hope. But I really want to get the hell out of here.

    Holding the radio to her mouth, she flicked the power switch this time. “This is Valhanna Amaryn. Please help me.”

    It crackled, and a strange man’s voice came out of the little box. “Adran speaking. What’s wrong?”

    And another voice: “Val? Val, are you all right?”

    “I’m in trouble, Dhel.” Please gods, let Dhel not push me for more.

    Thankfully, her partner didn’t ask any more. “My ally and I have met up with two other people. They can tell you about themselves.”

    “What’s wrong?” the stranger insisted. “What kind of danger are you in?”

    She sat there in frozen silence, knowing very well that Dailan would shoot her if she said anything.

    Dhel’s voice cut through again. “Val, do you need to speak to the Meddler?” Val looked silently to Dailan, knowing that this was serious. She didn’t dare push him when there was a very real chance of her getting shot. He shook his head.

    “No, I’m fine,” she answered. “Who are the other two, though?”
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2006
  4. AcrobaticHippo

    AcrobaticHippo Determined

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    Adrianna froze, stunned beyond words, as her bullet was stopped mid-air by the brown-haired man. H-how did he manage to do that?!

    Before she could think any further, the man spoke. “Everyone’s weapons will not be functioning until I allow it,” he announced. Adrianna gaped at him, her brain trying to process what he had just said. He can control other people's weapons like that? How? Even the Elhcha doesn't have that kind of technology...

    Then again, this is a foreign planet. A lot of insane stuff is to be expected.

    She managed to tear her gaze away from the man, settling it instead on the petite Oriental girl near him. She was very pretty, with shining black hair and sparkly coffee eyes, but that wasn't what Adrianna was levelling her gaze at. I hope that her sansen or whatever godforsaken weapon she used on Adran is non-functional too... She looked at the girl's face, expecting to see a surprised, perhaps outraged expression - surprisingly, there was neither. In fact, her lips had curved up, forming a smirk.

    What's she smirking at? Adrianna thought angrily. The next time she tries to be funny I'll-

    "Sit down," the strange man ordered. Adrianna felt compelled to disobey, but thought better of it when she felt his cold blue eyes on her. Reluctantly, she sat down and leaned against a trunk. Adran did the same.

    The man spoke, smiling unpleasantly.“You would be Adrianna Elhcha, and this one would be Adran, no? I’m the Meddler. You might have heard of me.”

    Adrianna's eyes narrowed, giving no hint of the panic rising up inside her. How did he know who we are!? She set her lips in a thin straight line. She wasn't about to confirm her identity with crackpot strangers. Especially crackpot strangers who called himself "The Meddler".

    The Meddler grinned slightly, showing his even white teeth. "You forget, my lady, that you and your friend are caught in a rather...undersirable situation. I've proved that I can control your weapons with minimal effort, so, if you refuse to cooperate...I can still get this lady's-" he indicated the Oriental girl - "sansen to work its...wonders on you."

    Adrianna's eyes travelled to the sansen at the girl's belt. It had seemed harmless enough, like a normal medical syringe, but as much as she didn't want to, she'd have to confirm her identity if she didn't want to meet her end at the sansen.

    She took a deep breath. "Yes, my name is Adrianna Elhcha and this is Adran..."

    "Yes, I know, origin unknown, eh?" the Meddler chuckled slightly, ignoring her stinging glare. "No matter...well, this young lady beside me is called Dhellani Amaryn. Dhel for short."
    Adran mumbled a greeting, but the two women stared at each other, their lips clamped shut. It was clear to anyone looking at them that they were not going to get along very well.

    The Meddler clearly noticed the tension between the two women, for he cleared his throat and smiled even more widely. "I'm afraid that you two will have to set any differences aside if you want to survive this game, ladies," he said.

    What game? Adrianna wondered, staring long and hard at the Meddler. I don't like the way he smiles...he smiles just like a frog about to swallow its juicy fly.

    Her gaze left the Meddler and fell on Dhellani. How did she manage to dodge that bullet? I've heard of the Laraj twins' speed...I know they're fast, but not THAT fast...Adrianna was one of the privileged few who was extremely good with both hands; besides, she was famous for her bulls-eye shots throughout the Elhcha planetary system and beyond. How did Dhel...

    It won't happen again,Adrianna vowed, looking down at her bandaged arm. I...I was feeling down, and my right arm was still hurting. The next time I decide to take a shot at her, she won't be so lucky.

    Speaking of which, the Laraj twins always work together...where's Valhanna?

    The radio at Adran's belt crackled, causing Dhel and Adrianna to look around, startled. Adrianna shot Adran a confused look, which he returned. Who'd be contacting us...unless...
    Adrianna was spared from thinking of the consequences when a female voice spoke. “This is Valhanna Amaryn. Please help me.”

    Valhanna Amaryn!?

    Dhel's face turned white. "That's my sister...!" she whispered.

    Adran looked at her, concerned, before speaking into the radio. “Adran speaking. What’s wrong?”

    "Val? Val, are you alright?" Dhel asked, a bit of hysteria in her voice.

    “I’m in trouble, Dhel.” the voice replied.

    Dhel looked as if she wanted to ask more, but decided not to. “My ally and I have met up with two other people. They can tell you about themselves.”

    Adrianna looked at her sharply. And how are we going to help if we're stuck in the same place as you people? she thought hotly. It made no sense at all...but this was an emergency situation, so she decided to keep her mouth shut.

    'What's wrong?" Adran pressed. "What kind of danger are you in?"

    There was silence on the other end of the line. Adrianna guessed that there was someone next to her, someone controlling every word she says, someone ready to blast her brains into smithereens if she said something undersirable. She laid a hand on Adran's arm and shook her head, silencing him.

    Dhel spoke again."Val, do you need to speak to the Meddler?"

    Another pause before Val replied. "No, I'm fine. Who are the other two, though?"

    Adrianna hesitated as Dhel looked at her expectantly. Is it that necessary to reveal my identity now? She took her step back, not willing to say her name, but stopped mid-way when Dhel mouthed "Please!" with pleading in her eyes.

    Adrianna looked at her a moment before taking the radio from Adran. "I'm Adrianna Elhcha and this is my friend, Adran," she spoke, articulating every syllable.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2006
  5. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Sarhun Anvyr.

    At the ghostly whisper of his name in his mind, Sarhun jerked awake, though he kept his eyes closed, knowing that he wouldn’t see anything anyway. You’ve been sleeping for rather a long time, haven’t you, the amused voice continued. Almost three days, in fact. No doubt the Seeker regrets his impulsiveness, but he never did think anything out.

    “Who are you?” he croaked.

    Why, only someone who wants to help you, the voice said. For some reason, Sarhun’s mind was filled with the color blue in every shade possible. Surely you don’t doubt my good intentions?

    He snorted. “I very much doubt that. If anything, dealing with the gods has taught me that they very rarely help people out of altruism.”

    Oh! The pain! I’m struck to the heart with your unkind blow. He was getting the sense that the voice was very definitely male, but he seemed, strangely, quite ageless. First, he thought that the voice was old, then young, then middle-aged, then a child, until his mind was spinning too much to speculate any further.

    “And that they don’t really care about what mortals think of them.”

    Got that in one, sonny. But I’m not a god, you know. Neither’s the Seeker.

    “Who’s the Seeker? How would you know?”

    Because, my dear Sarhun, we’ve known each other for countless millennia even before we got stranded on this hopeless mudball. You wouldn’t know.

    Confused by that rather bizarre statement, he went back to his original question. “Who are you?”

    That’d take a year to answer, and I don’t think that either of us have time for that.

    “Fine. What’s your name?”

    Can’t you just call me the voice who talks in your head?

    “No.”

    A sigh. How about as someone who wants to help you?

    “No to that too.”

    Can’t you just trust me?

    “I’m done with trusting gods.”

    As I’ve said, neither the Seeker nor I are gods. Try to pay attention next time.

    “Who’s the Seeker?”

    My, but aren’t you full of questions.

    “Who’s the Seeker?”

    If I tell you, will you shut up and just listen to me?

    “No.”

    Then why should I tell you?

    “Because I think you need something from me, and I’m willing to use that as a bargaining chip.”

    And if I choose to react like the Seeker?

    “Who’s the Seeker?” he asked for the fourth time.

    Very well. I do have a soft spot in my heart for annoying, insatiably curious young men – I was one myself, after all. The Seeker, which is what I call him, is what you call the gods. I assure you that he’s none of the Seven gods you Ghalians worship.

    “Oh?” He kept his own face expressionless, although he felt only confusion, terror, and a strange exultation. Peculiarly, none of the terror was for this strange voice who had woken him up to speak with him. But a little recognition was stirring. “The Seeker… wasn’t he in some old legend?”

    You tell me. You’re the native, after all.

    “What do you mean, I’m the native?”

    Questions, questions, questions. How will you ever learn unless you just shut up and listen to me?

    My discipline teaches that questions are the easiest way to learn.”

    Which is exactly what I argued to my own teachers. Not that it did any good, of course.

    Despite himself, Sarhun found himself warming to this strange being. “You’re avoiding the question, you know.”

    You talk too much.

    “Well?”

    Very well. I suppose it can’t hurt to tell you. Both the Seeker and I are not native to this planet.

    “What’s a planet?”

    Although he couldn’t see the mysterious voice at all, he had the feeling that the voice was throwing up his hands in frustration. You should have my title, he complained. They used to call me Questioner, or Challenger, but you deserve it more.

    “Well, if you’re not going to tell me your real name, won’t you let me call you that?”

    Questioner. The voice seemed a little sad as he said the word. I suppose you may.

    “Questioner, then.” Even if it wasn’t Questioner’s real name, at least it was a name. “Why are you here?”

    To help you.

    “You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe you.”

    That’s your choice, but I assure you, it’s part of the truth. Even I won’t claim that it’s the whole truth.

    “And you can free me from the Seeker?”

    No. I cannot do that.

    “Then why offer to help?”

    What I can do is offer you the opportunity to free yourself from all of us forever. And also a temporary… respite… from the Seeker’s influence.

    “And what do you want in return?”

    For the latter, trust. This will require that you place yourself under my influence instead. Do you trust me enough to do that?

    “I don’t see how it can be worse than the alternative. Yes. I trust you, and place myself under your influence and protection.” And as he said those words, a curious pall in his mind simply disappeared.

    Thank you. There was a genuine gratitude in Questioner’s mind-voice that Sarhun didn’t question. And as for the first… I want you to help me.

    “Help you do what?”

    Trust, Questioner said, and Sarhun nodded, accepting. And despite his questions, he did trust Questioner with an instinct that surpassed logic and reasoning.

    “Then I agree to that as well.”

    Again, thank you. You honor me with your trust.

    “Hah.”

    Well, I have places to go and people to see. Walk to the east for now, and you’ll meet up with some other allies of mine. I’ll speak to you in dreams.

    “Can I just ask a question?”

    Another one? Questioner said wryly. Why am I not surprised?

    “Why do you talk only dreams, and voices in my head?”

    It’s very… difficult… for me to take corporeal form. It expends too much of my energy, although I’ve gathered enough by now to walk in reality until after the endgame is over.

    Although Sarhun didn’t understand most of that, he didn’t ask for clarification. “To the east, you said?”

    Yes. And Sarhun? Walk carefully. Forces far older than you know are at work here. Or technically, at play here, I suppose.

    “What?”

    What specifically applies to you is that the Nightwitch walks abroad again.

    He felt a chill at those words, but accepted that as well. “I’ll be careful.”

    Good walking, Sarhun. And with that, Questioner’s presence removed itself from his mind. The blue colors faded along with it.

    Questioner. The Seeker. The Nightwitch. What did I just get myself into?

    Then he shrugged. At least he had a temporary relieving of the Seeker’s presence in his mind, now, even if he had only exchanged masters. Good walking, Questioner, he mouthed, and then he was on his way once more.
     
  6. AcrobaticHippo

    AcrobaticHippo Determined

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    Adrianna waited for a reply, but heard only the sounds of someone moving and something being jabbed roughly before the line went dead.

    Her face contorted in a confused expression. Things are getting very odd...

    She turned to the Meddler. "You said you know where Val and this strange man is...how?"

    He smiled at her and simply answered, "Trust."

    Adrianna turned away, exasperated. He wasn't making things any easier; she was growing to dislike him more and more.

    "I know where Valhannais; all you have to do is follow me, and trust," the Meddler, who had clearly decided to take control of the group, spoke. "We'll rest at nightfall-no, Dhel-" for Dhel had attempted to protest "-Everything will be in good time. Get there too soon without enough rest and we may be too weak for what...lies ahead of us."

    Adrianna glanced at the Meddler tiredly before reaching for her belongings. Normally, she would have questioned the Meddler saying that he knows what lay ahead, but at that moment she was just too tired and emotionally drained. She yearned for nightfall, where she could have her own private time and reflect...

    The sky turned from a pale blue to midnight blue, and eventually inky before the Meddler stopped everyone. "We can set up camp here, people," he called out. Adrianna placed her items in a corner and helped with whatever duties they had to do if they wanted to sleep comfortably that night.

    As soon as everyone was done, Dhel sat in a corner, pale-faced. Adrianna felt sorry for her; this was the first time her sister was very vulnerable to a stab in the neck or a bullet to the brain, after all, and she knew that the Laraj twins had worked together right from the start. She knew that her reaction if someone killed a loved one would be far beyond anger. Rage...enough to melt the coldest of snow-capped mountains and pierce the fleshy heart of the killer.

    Mother...

    Adrianna didn't have any clear memories of her; she had only one very faint one, of her mother's face smiling over her. I was looking up at her...was I in a cot? Her mother's face was very blurred in the memory; the only thing Adrianna could remember was dark brown hair and...were her eyes blue? Or green? She couldn't remember, no matter how much she tried...when she was growing up, servants whom she played with secretly would tell her that she took greatly after her mother, despite having her father's features, but looked away and refused to say anything more when she pressed them for details.

    Of course, my memories of my mother would be engulfed by memories of that...that ba*tard...

    She never had any love when she was growing up...no hugs, no kisses, no warmth...

    I'm not a little girl...why did this dream have to come and open the wound in my heart?

    "Anything wrong?" a voice asked, as the Meddler came up and sat down next to her.

    She turned away, not wanting to see his unpleasant smile again. "Nothing...Something just bit me, and it hurts," she lied.

    The Meddler smiled gently. "You think I'd believe that? You're a highly skilled warrior, and besides, I don't see you wincing from that injury you got," he said, indicating her arm. "What's wrong?"

    Adrianna looked up at his face and saw, for the first time, a hint of genuine warmth in his and smile. Those blue eyes had a hypnotising effect on her; they made her feel happy and warm, as if she was being hugged. She felt compelled to tell him everything on her mind; she felt he would prove to be a much better listener than Adran had been.

    "I-I saw my mother in a dream," Adrianna told him, her voice getting slightly shaky.

    "And?" The Meddler pressed gently.

    "I never knew I had any memory of her...I had never known her on a personal level while I was growing up...she died when I was only two..."

    The Meddler nodded, listening attentively.

    Adrianna fought to keep back tears. "The memory was blur...but...she-she looked so beautiful and happy...she looked so capable of giving me the love I never received..." she choked out.

    The Meddler moved nearer and placed an arm around her shoulders. "Adrianna..." he whispered soothingly.

    "I want to see her again...I want to talk to her, hug and kiss her, ask her why she died so early, ask her why she married...that...that MAN..."

    Unable to say anymore, she broke down, her tears flowing freely. The Meddler looked at her with pity etched on his face. "Adrianna...your mother may have died when she was young...but her love didn't. Her love still lives on in you; it flows freely in your veins...." he paused. "Her love lives in many other people whom you can show your love to..."

    They remained silent after that, lying on the ground and looking up at the sky. Adrianna's breathing became steady and rhythmic as minutes passed. She was asleep.

    The Meddler got up, glancing at the sleeping girl before making his way back to the other two.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2006
  7. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    “I'm Adrianna Elhcha and this is my friend, Adran.”

    Val was watching Dailan’s face when the girl said those words, and what she saw in his eyes alarmed her. Oy, mama. That girl’s marked for death.

    She didn’t know why Dailan was out to kill Adrianna Elhcha, but frankly, it didn’t matter at this point. All that mattered was getting word to Dhel and the Meddler about this so that they could keep her alive. I need to back there with Dhel, helping to protect the Elhcha girl.

    Dailan jabbed the gun at her head, and she flicked the power switch to off, mentally cursing the Meddler again. If only our pins were working, I could warn them right now…

    If, if, if. If only our pins were working. If only Dhel and I hadn’t separated. If only we’d never landed on this thrice-damned mudball in the first place.

    “If only,” a woman’s mellifluous voice said from behind her, cutting through the silence the way steel cut through butter, “you had sworn your allegiance to the Seeker rather than to the Meddler.”

    Val froze, eyes darting to Dailan, but he hadn’t even noticed the woman. But he’s the best merc in the galaxy! How couldn’t he notice this, this person?

    “He is blinded by a spell directing his attention elsewhere. He will not notice me until both you and I are long gone.”

    Magic. She bit down a howl of mingled fear and frustration; she had never wanted to tangle in spells. This is what comes from being landside. She opened her mouth to say something, then shut it again, fearing that Dailan would hear her.

    “Speak aloud, little sister. He will not hear.”

    “Who are you?” she asked.

    The woman came around to face her, the wooden carving in her hands, and Val caught her breath. Both she and Dhel were considered beautiful, but they were nothing beside this tall, slender witch, for witch the stranger was. Wrapped in a long cowled robe, she let Val see her proud, fine-boned face, framed by lustrous blue-black hair. Her eyes were shadowed with magic, and were of a dark violet color, almost gemlike in its chilly vibrancy.

    Valhanna saw her and despaired.

    The witch leaned in until their noses were only a few inches apart, and she had to fight against both pain and terror to stay alert. “You are Valhanna Amaryn.”

    Val didn’t reply, but she wasn’t looking for an answer. “And your sister, Dhellani Amaryn, is with the Meddler along with Adrianna Elhcha and Adran. You should join them.”

    “But – ”

    One elegant finger ran down the bonds that held her, and they parted easily, falling to release Val.

    Perhaps her dizziness was why she accepted all of this magic so easily, but Val didn’t really know why she was even listening to this witch. “Why? Why are you doing this?” she asked as she rubbed her wrists, trying to circulate the blood again.

    The witch smiled, and she felt lightheaded as the promise of power in the violet eyes washed over her. “Why do people cage birds? I release them to see how they fly. Fly away, little sister, little bird.”

    Val wasn’t stupid enough to refuse the chance of escape, even if it had been brought about by magic. As the witch handed Val her belongings, she stood up to start running. “Thank you. But – who are you?”

    “Give the Meddler my regards,” she said, her outline beginning to blur around the edges. “If he asks, I am called the Nightwitch.”

    By the time the witch’s form had completely disappeared, Valhanna Amaryn was running for her life.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2006
  8. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Run, run, run. Run now, before she comes, before the huntress comes a-hunting, seeking for your death.

    Questioner’s voice rang through Sarhun’s mind, and the force of his mental shout rocked him back and forth. “I can’t run. I’m still too weak from the Seeker’s attack.”

    Stupid boy. Must I show you how to do everything? Change if you can’t run in human form.

    Sarhun ignored Questioner’s worry and responded only to the last statement. “Change? What do you mean?”

    You’re the land’s beloved protector, graced by its power to heal where others cannot. You are the land’s child. Use what it gives you.

    “How?”

    Change. You don’t have any time. The Nightwitch is hunting again, and you must not be here when she comes. Rely on instinct. Rely on the little furry friends near you. They’ll help. I can’t – the Nightwitch is homing in on the mind-warning I just gave you.

    And with that, Questioner was gone again.

    “Change. Change into what?” he said aloud.

    His silver-furred hands rose to touch the blood-red antlers on his head and he knew the answer to the question he had asked himself. “Help me,” he breathed, and all around him, the land’s magic came alive, rushing into him in a tingling flood and changing him.

    When it was finished, he stood on four trembling legs, pawing at the ground and snorting. Yet he had done so too late, for a tall, robed woman was beside him already, gentle fingers stroking his shivering silver flank.

    “Sarhun Anvyr.” Her soft voice was as beautiful as her face, and he fought against its soothing effects.

    Nightwitch.

    “Aye. Do you seek to run from me?”

    What spell do you use to keep me here?

    The Nightwitch spread her hands and shrugged. “None. You may leave should you so desire.”

    Sarhun tested her words, walking with ease in this borrowed form as though he belonged in the stag’s body. When he was two hundred paces from her, he returned to her side. Perhaps it was foolish and dangerous, but he was curious as to what the Nightwitch had to say.

    “To you, I am Maroah. None else have the right to call me so.”

    Maroah?

    “My birthname. I no longer use it.” She offered him her hand, and he snuffled it before folding his limbs to lie upon the grass. “No doubt you wonder why I am here.”

    I wonder why you have not killed me yet.

    “Why do people release birds from a cage?” she asked.

    To see them fly. To see what they will do.

    “And so it is with me.”

    But I serve Questioner now. Not the Seeker.

    “You do not shatter a priceless gem simply because another possesses it. You have a rare talent and a rare fate, and I do not desire to see either destroyed.”

    And the Seeker?

    The Nightwitch – Maroah – paused before answering. “He was… unhappy with the course I have chosen. But he chose me as his servant to do his will, and he must be content with the choices I make.” She sat down beside him, close enough to stroke his nose should he stretch it out towards her, but far enough for his comfort. “I am here to ask a favor of you.”

    No.

    “Hear me out, at least. There is a woman running from an assassin, trying to rejoin her allies in time to warn them. On foot, it will take her five days at least, and the assassin will be close behind.”

    Is she your tool?

    Maroah showed him two images, one of the assassin and one of the woman. He saw the auras about them, and how on one, the Seeker’s influence clung like a grey miasma, while on the other, every possible shade of blue pervaded her entire being.

    “Will you do it?”

    In answer, Sarhun rose to his feet, pawing at the ground. Understanding the unspoken question, Maroah said, “She is to the south. You will see her very soon.”

    Without knowing why he did it, he thrust his nose under her outstretched hand. Until our next meeting, Maroah Nightwitch.

    Then he was gone, hooves churning the dirt beneath him as he raced to the unknown woman. She was small and darkhaired, and she bore weapons of death. Yet he did not begrudge her the offer of aid, and tossed his head into the air, snorting with impatience. She stopped when she saw him and stared at him before saying, “Valhanna Amaryn.”

    Sarhun Anvyr. On my back.

    Valhanna did not pause but pulled herself on him, and her weight was almost negligible as she wrapped her arms around his neck and gripped his flanks with her knees. As soon as she was settled, Sarhun shot off to the east, bounding through the land with a speed humans could never match.

    All the Eldorans they saw did not dare even to loose an arrow at him, for this was the night of the stag god’s running.
     
  9. Morgan_of_Salerone

    Morgan_of_Salerone New Member

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    Fire. Blood. Fear. Sweat. Danysha tossed and turned, caught in the grip of a nightmarish memory. The Eldorans charged, screaming fearsome war cries. felt herself tremble as she gripped the spear that served as her weapon. Suddenly the dream shifted, and a great, burning star fell, consuming everything in it's path. Out of the flames walked three figures.

    “Come with us...” they whispered, their slimy voice crawling over Danysha's pale skin. The shadowy form of several people shifted behind them, slowly lining up behind one or another.

    “Choose one!” the one figure urged. “Come, little priestess, come with me!” another called. Danysha backed away, faster and faster as the figures continued to advance.

    “Danysha!” the last one screeched, gnarled hands reaching out to grasp her.

    “Priestess Danysha?”

    Danysha woke with a start, her eyes opening only with great effort.

    “Yes?” she asked, rubbing at her eyes. It felt like someone had poured a bucket of sand into them. A fellow priest had his hand resting on her shoulder, a look of concern on his face.

    “Priestess, you need rest. You should return to your room.”

    Danysha shook her head.

    “No... no, I'm fine. I'm just... a little worn out, that's all.”

    “Perhaps you should take a break from your work,” he said, the sounds of the other priests and priestesses tending to the wounded in the background.

    “No, no... I've taken too much time already-” Danysha stifled a yawn.

    “Priestess,” the priest laughed. “Listen to yourself. If you will not go rest, at least get out of the temple for a while. We can handle a few injured.” Danysha knew there were more than a “few” injured, but she was tired, and she was sick of the stale smell of the temple. Still protesting, she allowed the priest to escort her from the room.

    After changing into more practical clothing and visiting the stable, Danysha found herself riding outside the city. The air was beautiful, soft and with the slight heaviness that hinted at rain to come. She pulled up the hood of her cloak and plodded along, resting her eye and letting her mount wander where it would.

    There was so much to think about; the Eldorans, the falling stars, and now this new rumour of a stag god... Danysha felt everything slip away, her head nodding. A weight seemed to lift off her shoulders and she felt herself falling...

    Danysha hit the ground with a thud. She groaned, rolling on her side. Her mount, startled, danced a few steps away, gazing at her with wide eyes.

    I hope no one saw that, she thought. Falling asleep while riding. How embarrassing.

    The priestess sat up, glancing about at her surroundings. Her eyebrows flew up in surprised. She had gotten a lot farther than she realized, and it was a lot darker. The priestess stood stiffly and walked to her mount who was still eyeing her cautiously. She caught the reigns and prepared to swing up when she sensed something not quite right, a sort of disturbance in the air. Danysha crept off to her right, her pale eyes open wide and searching. Gently pushing back a branch, the priestess gazed into a little clearing where she saw four people; two women and a man – all of them with exotic features and unusual clothing – lying as if asleep on the forest floor, and one man who looked just as strange striding across the clearing.

    “The gods...” Danysha whispered, and the walking man met her eyes with his.
     
  10. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    /Rebooting..............

    __________________________

    Startup successful, checking systems.

    Memory core: Functioning at 81%
    Operational matrix: Functioning at 100%
    Power core: Fluctuations present, average of 70% and steadily declining
    Primary systems: Damage detected...levels within operational parameters.
    Secondary systems: Functioning at 43%

    Unit's currenct condition estimated at 74% operational standards.
    Levels nominal, continue with primary mission

    __________________________

    Objectives:

    Primary:
    1) Locate User........Access file 'Adran.dat'
    2) Render assistanace and protection to User.......Sub-objectives pending evaluation and completion of first objective.
    3) Self Preservation

    Secondary:
    1) Repair damaged systems
    2) Locator beacon to personal arms unresponsive. Destruction likely. Locate weaponry to be used in completion of objectives.
    3)Render assistance and protection to user associates.........*ERROR* unable to access files due to corruption in memory system A-23B.

    __________________________

    Engaging motor functions.....

    Enabled- Vertical stability restored
    Beginning Geographical survey.......Complete

    Debris scattering and land patterns combined with data from crash direction indicate a 98% liklihood of cockpit section of craft landing on a bearing of 108 Degrees.

    ...............Proceeding with mian objectives.