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Author Topic: Clarion Quietus (IC) Part 1  (Read 306742 times)
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Doomed Hero
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« on: May 25, 2010, 12:16:25 PM »

Overture

It was black as the heart of the Dark One inside the ancient fortress. The Odrud did not care. They preferred it that way. The echoes of their hammers and chisels, the whoshing of thier bellows and the acrid hissing of their secret alchemies filled the darkness. If it had just been a cacophony he probably would not be so annoyed. Unfortunately the Odrud had a habit of humming and singing while they worked. Fifty voices, low and rich, designed by fate to echo and carry through stone. Their music was punctuated by their rhythmic labors. Somehow, they never missed a beat. They had been at it for days.

He could not tell if they ever changed shifts or took breaks. Even in the light they all looked the same. Short, hairy, thick. Simple leather smocks and gloves. Covered in pockets, bristling with tools.

And singing.

The steady beat was just slightly faster than the natural pace of his heart, and it got under his skin within minutes. He understood how and why. The orcs and hobgoblins did the same things with their drums. It pushed them. Hypnotized them into a steady, even, efficient pace. He had learned to ignore the drums. This was something else entirely. Something about it was simply maddening. He found himself breathing heavier, as if he'd been exerting himself, even though all he was doing as sitting down trying to make sense out of these damn reports, reading by the soft light of an elven stone pried from the dead hands of a Druid too far from home. It once glowed pale blue. Now the glow was a dark violet. A visible manifestation of the corruption of it's purpose.

Below, someone screamed in terror and agony. A blissful break from the monotony of the incessant song of the Dwarves. Then it ended and a few moments later a deep rumbling shook the fortress. The low crunching of heavy stone on stone. Then a thudding rhythm that carried the tremors away deeper into the darkness.

"Another one." a muffled voice said slowly beside him. He twitched, his hand on his sword and half drawing it before his mind caught up to his body. "They are getting much more efficiant. The latest designs are inspired. We may have them operational before the end of the year."

He slowly let the weapon slide back into it's sheathe and stood. "I did not see you, Master. My apologies."

"Have you discovered the whereabouts of the spies?" The muffled voice said.

"Not their exact whereabouts, Master, but I discovered the direction and their means of travel.  Last night your Acolytes and I prayed for guidance. Our Auguries directed us here" He said, pointing his finger to the map. "I do not read Dwarven, but there seems to be a fortress there."

The Master stepped into the light. His grey hooded robe flowed like water. The faceless grey mask he wore reflected nothing except the Horned Skull curling across the front where his eyes should have been. His only adornment, a simple black circlet, thorns rising upward in short, vicious curls. "A fortress once. Today little more than a hovel. We ignored it when we came here. No strategic importance. No threat. Only a minor mystic pulse beneath it. This foundry was far more important at the time."

He nodded. "I believe the spies head there, Master."

"Good, Jael. Excellent work." The Master said.

"Thank you, Master. I do not know what they travel so far for. It is bound to be important."

"it is not a priority. Simply follow them. They are a means to an end." The Master said, reaching up to remove his circlet. "You know what to do." He said, passing it to Jael.

"Yes Master," Jael said, taking the crown with reverence. "but what if they do not leave in time? Grial's timetable is fast approaching. The Maugrim will be nearly complete within the year."

The Master strode to the open stone window overlooking the factory floor. Below them another scream sounded, then ended, punctuating the song of the Odrud. A faint glow rose, streaming red across the carved channels of the enormous stone statue below. The dwarves rang their hammers against the stone, chipping away rough granite as the glowing blood spiraled inward towards the center of the statue. It shuddered, The entire stone figure trembling as if alive for a moment, then layin still as the glow died. The Master nodded as his hunter joined him at the window, carrying the dark, glowing stone. The Master turned to the stone, then looked up at Jael.

"Then we will have to give them a gentle push."
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 05:07:01 AM by Nifelhein » Logged

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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2010, 12:07:30 AM »

Hornblowers Hill, Arc of Zimra, Fall

Go, run, take to the fields and stay low!

It had happened again.

Run in the streams so the dogs lose your scent!

She didn't even remember how she had come to be standing here. Just bits and pieces. She tried to backtrack in her mind.

Do not come back!

It had been nine days of hell. Sleepless, starving, frantic. She had finally lost them, but had become lost herself. She was not a hunter, and there were no crops there. Not even fruit or berries, it was too deep into autumn.

When the halflings had found her she had been dying of starvation and hallucinating from the poison of the plants she had hoped were edible. The small folk saved her life, again, but they delivered her right back where she had started. They had thought to help her get back to her own people. They had not stayed when they saw the smoke. They knew. They left her.

So she had staggered back into the remains of her home.

Again.

Into the charred rubble, staring at the bodies.

Again.

Wandering back to the remains of the place she grew up in, now little more than a frame of black. In the the earth, scared in fire into the packed clay, was the mark of the heretic. The sygil of God's Judgement.

She could see his face, the Legate who had come. She had been the first to spot him. She had been checking the crops in the northern fields. His entourage had rode in on dark horses. The whip-thin man with the goatee and the short black-hilted blade. The twins, pale and grinning. The hunter, with his skull-gripped bow and his huge, short-haired hounds. And eleven massive dark-skinned orcs, tromping along at a light jog, packing the dirt under their heavy hobnailed boots, all with dreadlocks and red-ringed yellow eyes. Their skin was covered in strange lumps that were far too symmetrical and pattered to be natural, like things had been inserted beneath their skin. They wore small bones in their hair and around their necks and sewn to their light leather armor. They carried long hooked spears with backward facing barbs meant for catching flesh and holding it.

And him. The Witch Hunter, riding without haste, long black coat fluttering behind him. Wide brimmed hat tilted low against the sun. He had spoken to her. Gently. Asked the name of the town.

She had told him.

He nodded and moved forth upon the curving road. She had taken the short route, straight through the corn. She ran to Grandfather. His eyes had narrowed, then he had sighed and rolled his eyes, looking out the window to the riders on the road. He had whispered something under his breath and moved a hand. Then his eyes snapped open, wide, fearful.

"Zane? No..."

A hawk had cried . The man with the hat had reigned in sharply, snapping his head upwards, looking toward the house. Then he bolted his horse forward.

Grandfather had looked around, and back to her, breifly paralyzed by indecision. "No time..." Then had nearly thrown her out the door, telling her to run.

Now she stood at that door once again. It was the only thing left standing. It swung open and banged shut in the wind, it's sturdy frame blackened but still upright. Through the doorway she could see what was left of the home she had shared with the man who had taken her in. Nothing had survived. The beds and cabinets had been smashed before they had been lit aflame. Even the old footlocker, heavy oak bound in iron, had been broken to pieces. Through the wreckage she could see the crest of the hill. A massive wooden X had been erected there. The clouds parted letting the sun shine in through the haze and smoke, illuminating the figure, crucified to the beams.

Grandfather.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2013, 09:53:23 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2010, 02:23:24 PM »

She didn't remember walking to the hill's crest, yet there she stood her eyes riveted to the broken body of the man who had been her only family for years. The tightening in her chest, the feeling as though she couldn't breathe, had nothing to do with the smoke.

For the second time. Lost everything. Home. Family. Everything. Why? Why am I the only survivor again? Why?

The tears came then, hard wraking sobs that threatened to break her body as they broke her heart, she fell to her nees in the ash, clutching to the old man's broken bodyas she mourned the loss of one who had showed her that kindness still existed.

Grandfather.

Eventually the tears stopped coming, the well of sorrow drawn so deeply it felt as if it had gouged a hole in the depths of her soul. Yet she wasn't numb. She felt something...building.

She stood slowly, standing before the old man as she had on that fateful day, again coverd in ash and soot, her nostrls filled with the scent of char, of burning, of fire.

She felt it inside, something flared, something called to her, to the parts of her that died with her old life as she had died before.

Shrouded in smoke. Draped in ash. Twice now. Always reborn in fire.

I am the Ashchild.


She could feel it build. A warmth that did not take away the pain but used it, consumed it like fuel.

Working quickly she dug out  the crossbeam and lowered the old man's body to the ground. At the burned remains of the wheelwright's home she found a hammer to remove the heavy nails.

She would not leave him for the crows and carrion feeders.

The emotion ran hot now, her movements almost frantic as she placed the body, assembling the wood she found, the few things that had survived.

They used fire, but the fire she used would be clean. Holy. Pure. The pyre she built wasn't just for him. It was for them.

And it will burn them all.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 08:57:02 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2010, 02:36:39 PM »

She held the torch, rekindled from the smoldering ashes of the home she had loved, ready to light the pyre. She reached.

He breathed. A ragged and tortured lungfull of air, exhaling with a wet cough.
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2010, 03:41:02 PM »

Siobhan froze, her mind reeling.

"Grandfather?"
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2010, 03:44:47 PM »

He groaned.

"Yes, child?" slowly reaching up to put a hand to his face as if to rub away the exhaustion and pain. The holes in his wrists pumped fresh new blood down his arms from the effort.

He rolled his head to the side and looked at her with piercing, clear blue eyes.

"Thought I told you not to come back."
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 11:27:53 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2010, 05:24:57 PM »

"I'm...I'm sorry but I  just...look what they did to you!"

She could feel it building again, living, breathing.

Make them pay
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 08:57:27 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2010, 06:13:35 PM »

Somehow, the old man slowly sat up. He looked at the holes in his wrists and ankles, his arms shaking with the effort of holding them up.

"The forces of the dark one are never gentle."

His voice gurgled and rasped. He painfully coughed up the bloody froth that had pooled in his lungs. His cough weakened into a painful laugh.

"Though I'd forgotten how particularly un-gentle crucifixion is."
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 11:29:12 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2010, 04:41:18 PM »

Siobhan tried to help the old man up, feeling helpless to do anything about his horrible wounds.

"Will you be ok Grandfather. What should we do now? Where should we go?"

She stopped, her head tilting slightly.

"Wait, forgotten?
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 11:30:02 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2010, 04:51:10 PM »

He reached for her shoulder, pulling himself off the pile of logs and somehow, inexplicably, stood. He exhaled a deep shuddering breath that ended in a weak, wet cough. Blood pumped from the holes piercing his feet.

"We will do nothing. Help me to the house."
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 11:31:21 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2010, 10:35:21 PM »

"But...how are you walking? Standing?"

Siobhan's eyes took in the old man as she supported his movements and the nonchalant manner in which he spoke of being cruxified.

"You have survived something like this before!?"
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 11:35:10 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2010, 10:55:39 PM »

"Yes." He replied simply. His feet began shuffling, leaving bloody footprints on the ground. His legs gave out after two steps and he nearly collapsed. She caught him as he grabbed for her, leaving a bloody handprint against her heart. He looked down at himself, his face full of surprise. "But that is new." Slowly, he righted himself.

"How long has it been?"
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 08:46:40 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2010, 03:26:15 AM »

"Nine days I think. I don't remember some of it. What's happening?"

She continued helping him forward supporting him as much as she could.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 11:38:00 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2010, 11:57:15 AM »

"Nine days? Hmm. I must be getting old."

He coughed again, sagging into her for a moment, and then sighed as if annoyed with himself and took more of his burden of walking.

"What is happening is that you are learning patience and humoring an old man." He says in his typical, self-amused, infuriating way.

He continued to dodge questions until they reached the remains of the house. Though the pair could easily have walked through where the walls once stood, he insisted on going through the still standing door frame.

"It is still home in our minds. That means something, and is worth respecting."

He took her to the old, broken chest and gestured towards it weakly.

"It has a false bottom. Luckily sturdy enough to withstand some abuse. Tip it over and pry off the feet. Don't worry about me," he said, "I can stand for a spell."
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 08:58:52 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2010, 04:06:26 PM »

Siobahn pushed the chest over with her foot, using her hunting dagger to pry off the feet, all the while glancing back at the old man with a mixture of worry and amazement.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 11:41:40 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2010, 07:29:08 PM »

It was not easy, prying the old brass feet free. They were long, thick spikes, more like coffin nails than furniture pegs. Once the first was free it become clear that they served another purpose. They held together the two boards which made up the sturdy base of the chest. So seamless was the construction that she had never noticed before that what she had always thought was one sturdy piece of oak, was in fact two. By the time she had worked the second nail free, she was able to wedge the knife in to make room for her fingers. Stepping on the handle of the dagger allowed her to anchor the base down, then with a mighty heave, she pulled the boards free.

The remaining brass nails squealed in protest and broke apart suddenly.

After picking herself up off the soot-covered floor where her efforts had landed her, she saw the fruits of her labor.

And a strange object, nearly an inch thick and rectangular. It's surface was made of once-white bleached leather, now grey, nearly black at the edges. It's corners were tarnished silver. A strange symbol decorated the cover. A clasp and keyhole sat in the center of one edge. It looked like little more than an odd, leather-wrapped box.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 09:00:59 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2010, 09:25:23 PM »

Grandfather, is this what you wanted? This has been hiding here for....as long as I've been with you? Longer?

She turned the box delicately trying to make sense of what it all meant.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 09:01:17 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2010, 10:18:11 PM »

"It is called a book, and it is one of the things they were after. This time is different. They can find me again, and will once they realize I am not dead."

He began moving around the remains of the kitchen and bedroom. He pulled the handle of the stove free with a twist, revealing a flat, curved blade hidden within. He opened the stove and pulled free a large, ash-covered cloth from the soot at the bottom. "Perhaps it is fortunate that you returned." He used the blade to pry free the decorative stones that inlayed the edge of the stone counterboard. "I cannot be in two places at once." He said, wandering to the door frame and using the blade again to pry free the knocker from the splintered door. He strained and twisted it, pulling the two halves of the knocker apart and dropping them, leaving him holding only the knock point. A flat-faced ring. It had always faced back toward the door and been caked with the grime of years.

He handed the lot of it to her. A dozen stones, a ring, a strange flat, fire-blackened blade, the folded cloth that had somehow survived years in the woodstove.

"But you can help."
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 09:03:09 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2010, 02:47:22 PM »

" Help, how? I'll do anything to help you , you know that. Are you planning to fight?

Her eyes blaze with an intensity at the thought, her grip tightening on the blade.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2010, 11:49:52 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2010, 03:05:24 PM »

"There is fighting and there is fighting. I plan on doing something long overdue. Sometimes it is good when someone..." he looked down at the bloody wounds in his wrists, "...forces your hand."

"You though, you will not be fighting. You will be hiding, which in this case is the best form of fighting you could hope for." He said while flapping out the cloth, revealing it to be a long hooded coat. "They seek that book, and they must never find it. I go west, so you will go east. An old friend of mine lives near the mountains. She can get you somewhere safe." he coughed at the soot kicked up and sagged for a moment before standing again. He seemed to be getting stronger by the moment. "You just have to make it on your own until then. Seek the halflings. You have a knack for finding them." He pulled the coat around her shoulders. "Tell them you come from the hill and are following the star. When they take you, tell the person you meet that you seek a place to rest. Then do what they say."
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 09:04:49 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2010, 03:34:05 PM »

Against her will, tears welled up in Siobhan's eyes at the thought of another part of her life coming to an end.

"Yes Grandfather, I will protect the book, and I will find the small folk.

She hesitated for a moment.

Will I see you again Grandfather?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 09:05:09 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2010, 06:29:01 PM »

"Stranger things have happened, child. The world is not so simple as those who would rule it claim, and as long as you carry that..." he said pointing to the book, "...your life, while likely dangerous, will also be full of strange, wonderous things. Eventually, whoever bears it will find their way to where I am headed. It is it's nature. Take care, and it may be you."
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 09:05:26 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2010, 02:25:29 AM »

Siobhan felt herself choking up. Another part of her life was at an end, and what lay before her was completely unexpected.

And yet it wasn't. All the lessons, the secret teachings, as she thought about it she realized that Grandfather had been preparing her for this day. She would not fail him, no matter how difficult the task.

Wrapping the book back in the cloth she nodded, not trusting herself to speak more than necessary, emotion threatening to overwhelm her.

"I'll take good care of it, I promise."
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« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2010, 09:11:33 AM »

Grandfather smiled, and began to move to embrace her, but then turned quickly, snapping his head around towards the ruined village. A moment later Siobhan heared it too.

Footsteps. Someone was coming up the path.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 09:06:51 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2010, 01:49:51 PM »


In normal circumstances, an armed stranger would certainly elicit a great deal of suspicion from anyone with an ounce of sense.  When that unknown quantity appears with blade in hand, however, the expected emotion should surely be intensified.

Instead, the young woman seemed remarkably unthreatening, and when she cocked her head and eyes her surroundings there's something oddly innocent about her appearance.

"Whew.  They really did a number on this place", she mused to the world in general.

Physically, she was less than imposing.  A few inches over five feet in height, with pale eyes, very pale skin, and somewhat impractically long brown hair.  She was dressed in good-quality leathers - of the sort just about light enough to pretend to be clothing - but she was quite openly carrying a cedeku blade in one hand, an offense punishable by slavery or death.

A sturdy pack sat on her shoulders, while a long overcoat and a broad-brimmed travelling hat looked rather as if they might have been made for her.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 09:10:09 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged

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