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Author Topic: Clarion Quietus (IC) Part 1  (Read 359399 times)
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« Reply #125 on: August 15, 2010, 04:49:07 PM »

Amethyst allows herself a nervous little gulp, then nods quickly.

"I'll try to be quiet", she murmurs.

Restoring her mask and hat to their customary positions, she falls into step behind her companion, trusting Siobhan to act as her guide in matters of the Small Folk.
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« Reply #126 on: August 15, 2010, 06:52:26 PM »

"Watch your step" the voice cautions. A moment later the ground unexpectedly ends, dropping almost three feet down into a narrow waterway. Both get a little muddier than expected, slipping and splashing into the cool stream. All of a sudden they cannot see anything but the stream and the wall of grass on either side of them. The drop has put the height of the grasses well above their heads.

An exasperated chuckle sounds from the grasses. "Follow the stream. Don't get stuck. I'm going on ahead to make sure someone can meet us when it gets deeper."

And then the voice is gone, leaving the two women up to their calves in bitter cold water, their boots in danger of getting sucked down into the mud.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2012, 01:22:48 AM by Doomed Hero » Logged

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« Reply #127 on: August 15, 2010, 09:31:16 PM »

By Kyra it's cold! Siobhan mutters as they wade through the icy water, attempting to supress a shiver. She looks back over her shoulder to see the other woman's progress. She wasn't sure what to make of her, not a fighter, yet seemingly capable enough.

Time would tell she supposed. Still, she was glad not to be alone.
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« Reply #128 on: August 16, 2010, 05:03:45 AM »

Amethyst sighs, then shivers, as she sinks into the goop, peering down at the ooze gathering around her legs.

"I'm being reminded of why people stick to roads when they can", she mutters dryly, but hitches her pack higher on her shoulders and squelches after Siobhan determinedly enough.  Inwardly, she's hoping that the gaiters she wears above her boots will hold out long enough to avoid getting her feet wet.
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« Reply #129 on: August 16, 2010, 10:48:53 AM »

The creek does not run straight, and it it gets deeper as they trudge upstream. Amethyst's hopes are slowly and inexorably dashed by the determined waters, eventually boots and gaiters fill making the women instantly miserable. For two hours they push on, the chill slowly taking over, the water creeping up every fiber of cloth it touches. The last remnant of sun winks out leaving them in blackness. The moon is but a sliver tonight. Twice they have to stop to try to dig a boot free of the sucking mud. Once the water reaches their waists they realize if it happens again, the footwear will have to be abandoned. The current is too strong and the water to deep to reach the bottom with their hands should they become stuck again. Amethyst begins to falter, the shaking and the chattering taking over her body so much that she can scarcely muster the effort to move, Siobhan's sturdy shoulder the only thing keeping her from collapsing entirely, when the voice from the reeds whispers once more.

"Come out here. Reach up, grab the roots of the sword grass and pull yourselves free. Do it quietly and keep low. There are trappers about."

« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 10:51:20 AM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #130 on: August 21, 2010, 03:48:49 AM »

Amethyst fails to entirely stifle a heavy sigh, though the sound blends into the stream sucking the last heat from her lower body.  Forcing her eyelids up, and then her chin, she dubiously eyes the high bank, before focusing upon Siobhan once more.

"After you", she murmurs wearily.  "Not that I'm at all sure I could get out without help even if you told me to..."
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« Reply #131 on: August 24, 2010, 12:48:00 PM »

Misery has a way of distorting time.

It could have taken moments or hours to drag themselves up the muddy bank. Looking back later the details would blur but strange things would stand out. The feel of the sword grass as they gripped near the roots. The slipping of feet as they desperately tried for traction. The strangely pleasant feel of the mud as they lost balance just before cresting the edge and sliding back down into the waters. Who grabbed who first would be something they never would agree on. In they end they lay panting and delirious, completely covered in mud, barely feeling the cold anymore. Time seemed to skip around like the flittings of childhood stories of Heepa-Heepa spirits.

The prodding of a cold wet nose would jolt them back to the present. The massive canine head would normally have caused instant panic, but they were just too tired to care. Their bodies felt light as air, but sluggish and unresponsive. It was dream-like. Thoughts became clear but focusing was nearly impossible. It might have been the halfling speaking, but it really did seem like it came from the massive wolf-creature. They finally hauled themselves to their feet, coaxed by the words from the grasses. They trudged along, somehow managing to move forward despite the strange disconnect between their bodies and minds.

The grasses thinned and the ground became soft. The word Tributary sprung unbidden into Amethyst's mind. Strange bits of trivia and lore about such areas spun in her head like the fireflies around them.

A strange cry split through their dulled perceptions. Later they would agree it was an Osprey, but in the moment they did not get much farther than bird. An answering cry a few moments later brought a curse from the voice in the grasses.

There was a sense of panic that eventually managed to penetrate their stupor. They stopped. The women felt the world spinning as they swayed on their feet, the sound of their own heartbeats heavy in their ears. Something else as well. A heavy rustling. Many directions. Large shapes moving swiftly through the grasses.

And then, somehow, they were running. All pretense at stealth or grace forgotten, they stumbled through the darkness, dragging each other along, picking each other up when they fell. They would realize later they were probably not moving much faster than a walking pace, but it felt as though they were sprinting for all they were worth, the strange detachment from their bodies giving them a ponderous grace, like a drunkard managing to keep his balance despite the ground and walls not quite being where he expected.

There was occasional yelling in a harsh language. The soft whetstone sound of a silenced bowstring snapping. Animals growling. Dogs? It all seemed so far away.

In the starlight they would remember seeing hulking silhouettes above the grasses, pointing, yelling. They looked like they were made of the grasses, but with tall pointed ears that lifted well above their heads.

They fell face first into water, the shock of beginning to breathe water snapping them fully back to the present. The dream-like haze shielding them from their plight shattered.

Pain.

Fear.

Cold.

They stood waist deep in the water as it tried softly but inexorably to push them back the way they had come. There was a raft a short ways out where the waters widened. A figure on it stood with a tortured look, shaking it's head in resignation, slowly beginning to pole away.

Siobahn was struck in the back. It felt like being punched. It spun her around and took her feet out from under her. Amethyst tried to hold her up, but her fingers were clumsy and her strength was gone. She had to kneel. The water helped, lightening her load. Finally their heads were the only parts of them above the water, only Amethyst's help keeping Siobahn from drifting away in the current. They stared at each other a moment as Amethyst's hands discovered the arrow in Siobahn's back. At the touch on the shaft, pain blossomed. Tears of agony for one. Tears of hopelessness for the other. Amethyst looked out at the shapes moving through the grasses just as one stepped free from it's concealment at the edge of the waters.

It was massive. As large as the largest man she had ever seen, and thick. Proportioned like a bear or a badger, it's broad face held oversized, front facing eyes. They gleamed, catching dim light as only a predator's can. It's wide mouth grinned at it's prey revealing a glinting mouthful of sharp fangs that glinted in the starlight. It's face was flat, it's ears tall and bat-like. It was covered with dusky green-amber fur, the same texture and color the grasses. A leather harness held ropes and blades. In it's hands it carried a weighted net and a strange weapon that looked like a shepherd's crook with a wicked barb at the end of the curve. It chuckled, half growl, at the helpless prey before it.

Amethyst tried to drag herself and her friend away from the bank, deeper into the water, but the current and the slippery bottom made it a struggle just to stay in one place. She tried to look for help, tried to look for the raft, tried to look for a place to hide or fight, tried to look for anything, but there was nothing.

She could not help herself. She simply closed her eyes and gave up, sinking down further into the waters, clinging to the friend she had only known a short time. She waited.




Nothing happened.





It slowly dawned on her that she should be dead or captured by now. Curiosity overpowered the hopelessness and fear and she opened her eyes.

Everything was on fire.

Now that she saw it, she felt it. The heat on her face, the pulse of the flames. She heard it. The sizzle of the grasses, and the screams of the creatures trapped within them.

In the strangeness of the moment the thing she would always remember the most clearly was the surface of the water, beautiful, rippling with brilliant color.

When the smoking halfling and her determined mount finally exploded from the inferno, leaping into the river, she found the two human women. Alive. One, cradled asleep in the other's arms, the other smiling and laughing like a child at carnival.

The halfling woman groaned in pain, taking stock of her burns and wounds. She checked her mount. The great beast licked her face and let out a heavy breath, looking toward the women.

"I know, Grey." the halfling muttered. "Humans are crazy."

In the distance, a raft slowly turned back toward the shore.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2012, 01:23:35 AM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #132 on: August 25, 2010, 01:53:26 PM »

Near Kurgun Falls, Arc of Zimra, Fall

Grak were unfortunate creatures.

They had all of an Orc's savagery and all of a Hobgoblin's cunning, but they lacked the real gifts of either parent race. They were smarter than most orcs, it was true, but they were not blessed with the iron-trap minds of Hobgoblins, nor their devotion to detail and efficiency. They were stronger than most Hobgoblins, but they lacked an Orc's size and mass. They were generally lanky, almost emaciated looking but with iron-hard muscle wrapped in tight, ropey cords across their frame. Something about the mixing of the two race caused something of a throwback. They were descended from Hobgoblins, but for some reason they bore a stronger resemblance to true Goblins, complete with the too-long arms hanging nearly to their knees, oversized eyes, almost bulbous, and an instinctive and shocking lack of any kind of social grace or discipline.

They were a completely failed experiment in all ways, save one. Grak were completely single-minded in their pursuits. Nothing would ever shake them or distract them. They had a Hobgoblin's devotion and an Orc's passion. If they could ever learn to work well with others, they would have made perfect soldiers. For that reason, Grak were generally delegated as scouts in war zones. The Shadow's leadership had a simple attitude about Grak. Simply give them a task, and turn them loose. Tell them to report in a certain amount of time. If they did not, it meant they were dead, and it was best to send a squad or two to investigate.

The Dwarves had learned that Grak were best left alone. Centuries of this had made Grak something of a good luck charm. Smart Orc and Hobgoblin squad leaders requested having a Grak scout added to their command instead of the usual trio of Goblins. It wasn't that the Grak were easier to deal with, or were better at their jobs. Goblins had keener eyes, sharper noses and worked instinctively well in groups. Grak were smellier, more confrontational, ate more, were touchy about schedules and routines, asked a lot of needless questions. They were like Hobgoblins, only generally too dumb to realize that their endless quest for details needed to have some kind of purpose. What they had, though, was a strange, seemingly uncanny knack for coming back alive. If a commander could harness even a small piece of that rare blessing in the dangerous and unpredictable war against the mountain-fey, it was worth putting up with them.

The Grak that currently stood in front of Kjellan Hargund Gale oth'Durgis was so obnoxious that it's commander must have decided they would rather take the usual chances at horrible death than keep it around.

Like many Grak, after centuries of inexplicable survival due, mostly, to simply being ignored or avoided, this one had a rather high opinion of itself. It had made sure to tell Kjellan, at length, how his life had been saved because of the Grak's keen eyes. See, for a gnome, Kjellan was thick and easily mistakable for a dwarf at a distance, but the Grak had known he wasn't a dwarf, and decided not to fire after all, only because he could see from far away that Kjellan had no beard. His orders were plain when it came to dwarves. If possible, kill on sight. If not possible, report. For other races, investigate.

The Grak had held him at arrow-point at about 30 feet and asked enough questions that Kjellan had half wished the Grak would just loose his grip on the string and let fly.

Finally the Grak had relaxed his shot and approached to see the papers presented. He couldn't read, but he knew what to look for. He still asked questions. Which temple had the papers come out of? Where is your escort? Why this pass? How long would the project take? When does the work crew arrive? Only uncle Dunkun's coaching, full of what Kjellan thought had been needless details, had kept him from floundering. As it was, he still needed to make up a few things on the spot. Not his best skill, but the Grak barely seemed to notice. It seemed more interested in the questions it was asking, and the fact that it was getting to ask them, than any actual answers.

The damned thing had blathered in it's metal-grinding voice for so long that Kjellan had considered taking the small stone charm out of his mouth just so he could catch a break, but he needed to be able to understand the creature. Finally, he began to push, letting it know he had work to do, asking what he needed to do for verification, getting the annoying scout thinking about reporting in. It was like a switch had been flipped.

"Yess." It said with typical goblinoid hiss "I'll need to take these papers back to my commander."
« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 05:45:54 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #133 on: August 25, 2010, 04:32:09 PM »

Despite his sharp eyes, Dunkun could only make out his nephew and the scout as fuzzy figures from his distant vantage point.  He was able to see the scout lower his weapon, and the questioning begin.  

That scout isn't big enough to be an Orc...probably a hobogoblin or grak or one of those ilk

The length of time the questioning took made him glad had only ever had to kill Shadow scouts...usually without talking to them.  Though he worried this would soon change, if Woden's plan played out as he wanted it to.
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« Reply #134 on: August 25, 2010, 10:53:00 PM »

Kjellan tried his best not to shake too much before the grak. He had never been this close to one of the fearsome, smelly creatures before. A little bit of nervousness and deference should help... but too much, and he might forget some of the details his uncle Dunkun had him memorize, might get tongue-tied and get his story mixed up. Must keep it together...

Oh no! It wanted to take his papers away to its commander... now what would he say?

Calm down. Calm down. Think.

"Uh, um, n-no... I'm afraid I can't let you take my papers to your c-commander, although I really wish I could. You see, our master reminded us never to surrender our papers, under any circumstances, for such is the law of the Shadow. I-if you took our papers to your commander, and another patrol came while you were away, w-we could be taken and imprisoned... i-if not executed on the spot. This would make our master very angry, f-for it would put this most important project even further behind schedule than it already is... Our master grows impatient, and beware those who delay the project even further..."

The beardless dwarrow paused for a moment, then looked briefly over his shoulder to the north. "Curse that excavation crew, they should have been here long ago!" he muttered.    

That sounded pretty convincing, didn't it? Yes, Kjellan's confidence was growing with every moment. It was so strange, thinking and speaking in his clan dialect, yet having the words spoken aloud in Orcish. How could his throat produce such sounds? Simultaneously hearing his own soft voice in his mind and the growls coming from his throat was disconcerting, as was the strange sensation of the charm rolling beneath his tongue. But at least it seemed to be working...

Still leaning on the shaft of his pick and holding the papers in his right hand, the "gnome" smiled meekly and arched his recently-trimmed brows, and then added: "But I would be happy to show our papers to your commander if he should come here. You have seen them, you know that they are legitimate..."

Uncle Dunkun better be close, thought Kjellan in his mind, or else Marakal and I could be dead in no time. Kjellan took a quick sidelong glance at the Erenlander who stood a few feet away, then made as if to put the folded papers back in his belt pouch.  
« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 11:02:04 PM by TwiceBorn » Logged

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« Reply #135 on: August 26, 2010, 07:20:28 PM »

The Grak stands completely still for a moment, considering. One of it's oversized eyes narrows slowly, contorting it's face into a grimace of displeasure as it tries and fails to find fault in Kjellan's reasoning.

It finally grunts and nods, then turns and lopes away leaving an anti-climactic feeling hanging in the air.
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« Reply #136 on: August 26, 2010, 08:55:05 PM »

Kjellan exhales deeply once the grak is out of sight, then smiles wistfully at Marakal.  "Whew! It looks like he bought the ruse... let's hope it works with his commander, too! How long do you think before they return?"

Though he knows he shouldn't overuse the charm, the dwarrow can't help but derive enjoyment from hearing the words he thinks he is speaking in the clan tongue uttered in other languages--this time Erenlander, which he knows the human is most fluent in. He surveys the rubble, trying to decide what to do next... and being careful not to look like he is searching for Dunkun.
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« Reply #137 on: August 28, 2010, 03:00:31 AM »

Marakal's muscles relax just bit. He would have preferred to have killed the grak, it's been a while since he got to kill one of the minions... but the dwarves said no. There is a plan; and by taking him in and healing him he went into their debt. He will repay the debt and then be on his way, he felt the need to move again.

He looks toward the dwarrow and shrugs "He's probably no more than half a day away form his commander," he says as he loosens the hand axe he was given from the tree trunk he started hacking when the scout arrived. "Probably later by the day tomorrow, or even a day after that," and he strikes down with the axe hard. The trunk splits and he jumps out of the way as some rubble loosens and skids down the slope.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 12:19:19 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #138 on: August 29, 2010, 01:41:04 PM »

Kjellan never really got to know the Erenlander who had been taken in by the residents of Durgis Rock some months ago.  The language barrier between them was too great.  The dwarrow had not previously had the opportunity to learn any of the human tongues, and his fluency in the Trader's Tongue had also declined over the years since his father led him back to Durgis Rock.  And although he knew that knowing too much information about others could endanger all parties if one were captured, the temptation to ask a few questions--which could now be achieved by way of the charm the council had granted him for this assignment--was too great to resist.

"Friend Marakal, uncle Dunkun has given you my name and I yours, but until now I have regretted being unable to speak with you. I hope you have found the welcome and haven you were looking for in Durgis Rock. It was brave of you to accept this assignment, and to risk your life on behalf of our people. May I inquire as to how it is you came to the Rock in the first place? Will you be with us long?"

The dwarrow gave the man a questioning smile as he readjusted the dusty, battered grey padding that he presently wore over his bright yellow and green vest.
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« Reply #139 on: August 29, 2010, 02:37:15 PM »

Dunkun sees the scout leave, and his nephew return to where the human is working.  He bides his time, knowing the scout might have forgotten something and come back with more questions.  As the two figures below talk, he stealthily makes his way too the next bluff to watch the scout depart, before heading down to debrief his companions.
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« Reply #140 on: August 31, 2010, 03:10:06 PM »

Marakal looks up from the work, whipping the sweat from his face. He contemplated not answering, the dwarrow probably heard how Dunkin found him; they all knew. Did he try to embarrass him? They probably thought he was weak to succumb to the mountains like that, at first he though he was weak as well until he learned he was just unprepared, how was I supposed to know the mountains could be so harsh?!?

It is true that he did not talk much since the dwarves found him, most of them don't speak any language other than their damn own! Most of his time he spent cursing the animals... But strange as they were, these dwarves, they did him a good turn... and he is not used to good turns. And so he would help them with this small business and be on his way.

Marakal looks up from his flash of thought to the dwarrow: "I was looking for someone. Ahhh... a family member," and to hear him say it it sound almost like a curse, "You know how Dunkun found me, there is no need to repeat," he says obviously meaning he doesn't wish to bring it up.
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« Reply #141 on: August 31, 2010, 10:52:19 PM »

This human may as well be a dwarf, thinks Kjellan to himself. No need to repeat what Dunkun said? It's not like his uncle had told him much other than they had found some half-dead human out in the wilderness. Oh well, he doesn't want to talk much, leave him be... and that may be for the best... And let's face it, dwarves don't start out much friendlier on the outside, but once you get to understand their ways and earn their respect, it's all fine...

The dwarrow does not press his much taller companion.  Instead, he shrugs and sighs, then looks at Father Sun making His way across the sky. He then puts one hand to his mouth, and allows the charm that he had placed beneath his tongue to roll out into his palm. What a curious little treasure... A smooth pebble not much bigger than his thumb nail, and upon which one might find--if one looked very closely--Father Sun and Mother Moon motifs on opposite faces. To the casual observer, the motifs might look like little more than feint, random lines.

Kjellan puts the charm reverently back into his belt pouch, then walks a few paces away from Marakal and gets back to work clearing debris with his light pick... and tries not to think of all the things that could go wrong once the grak returned with his commander...
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 11:06:58 PM by TwiceBorn » Logged
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« Reply #142 on: August 31, 2010, 10:58:40 PM »

Dunkun waits till the scout is out of sight from his second bluff, then doubles back and heads down to meet with Kjellan and Marakal.  He is quiet, but tries to make himself obvious the last 50 yards so as not to startle them.

"Well boys, looks like you managed t' get by without gettin' yourself killed.  I suppose that's a victory by these standards.  Tell me what the scout said.  Was it a Hob', or one of them Graks?"  

Dunkun looks around at the work already being accomplished, impressed by the strength of the human's swing of his axe.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 08:23:15 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #143 on: August 31, 2010, 11:27:32 PM »

Kjellan smiles and raises a hand in greeting as Dunkun approaches. He understands what his uncle asks, and, For Marakal's sake, he begins to respond in the Traders' Tongue but ends up stumbling and searching for many of his words. I can't believe how much of my father's tongue I've forgotten in just a few short years... He would be so disappointed.   Rather than relying on his charm, the dwarrow does what comes naturally for him, and responds to Dunkun in the guttural tongue of the Durgis.

"'Twas a grak," he says, his accent and speech pattern shifting noticeably as he addresses his uncle... as if he were trying really hard to sound like he had been born in Durgis Rock. "It didn't say much. Asked a bunch of questions about what we were doing 'ere and wanted t' take our papers back t'its commander. I convinced it that our master would be upset if we surrendered our papers to one patrol and ended up being captured or killed by another. Told it that we would be happy to show our papers to its commander, and hinted at how far behind schedule our project was... Seemed to swallow it all... Marakal seems to think they'll be back tomorrow, or the day after... What do we do 'til then, Uncle Dunk?" Kjellan seems much younger than he actually is as he speaks those last words.  
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 11:32:13 PM by TwiceBorn » Logged
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« Reply #144 on: September 01, 2010, 12:00:43 AM »

Dunkun smiles as his nephew drops into the clan dialect.  He knew he's seen more of the world and should know better than that.

"You're outside the clan walls now, Kjellan.  It's not safe to use the clan tongue out here."  Dunkun smiles to Marakal with a sidelorn look. "From now on, only Trader and the human tongues can be used out here.  And don't be relyin' on that charm too much.  You'll get soft an' lazy an' are bound to slip and forget it one day."

Dunkun looks around at the blocked trail.

"What do you do?  Why, start clearing that trail!  If that Grak comes back and doesn't see the progress he would expect if you're as behind schedule as you said, he'll find the story smells afoul pretty quick."

He looks over to Marakal now: "And Marakal, if you would do me a favor and help my nephew brush up his Trader's and maybe teach him some of your human tongue, I'd be grateful.

I'll be watching from above, try not to get in too much trouble, and clear this as best you can."


Dunkun turns to set off, back to his bluff.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 08:24:19 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #145 on: September 01, 2010, 12:39:30 AM »

Marakal's prediction turns out to be frighteningly accurate. A day passes uneventfully, leaving the pair to their labor. Marakal's strength and size make the job a lot less daunting than Kjellan has first thought upon arriving. At dawn's twilight, Marakal, up early haven taken the last watch, sees figures moving up the trail without any sort of stealth.

Squinting, he counts seven. One with the long arms and lanky gait of a Grak. One, more human in shape and size, slightly slender in frame. Four significantly larger with thick shoulders made broader by their armor, and one last that dwarfs all the others. Massive, nearly twice as tall as the Grak, and from the looks of it, broader than any dwarf. Weapon handles raise above their shoulders and shields hang ready from their arms. They move in easy formation guarding the human-sized figure at the center scanning the ridges and nooks in the rock as they move.
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« Reply #146 on: September 01, 2010, 12:55:14 AM »

Kjellan swallows hard at the approach of the Shadow patrol and then slips his charm, which he had remembered to recharge in the light of the moon the night before, back under his tongue. He continues to work until the patrol reaches the spot where he and Marakal are working. Stay calm, stay calm...

Kjellan had repeatedly mulled Uncle Dunkun's rebuke of his use of the Durgis dialect in his mind (what harm can come of speaking one's tongue when Odrendor are nowhere in sight?), but that concern now fled his mind. He hoped that rebuke would not be the last words he ever heard from Dunk...

The dwarrow took one last swing with his pick, then wiped his brow and prepared to greet the grak and his commander.

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« Reply #147 on: September 02, 2010, 12:20:35 PM »

Marakal says nothing as the Shadow's soldier's approach. He simply watches with his smaller, more visibly worried partner.

Two of the thick guards branch off, moving quickly forward and off the trail into the wider area where the pass begins. They scan, look behind larger rocks, prod the thicker bushes, check higher ground. They are Orcs, girded as light infantry. They wear reinforced leather breaches with thicker hide and scraps of chain sewn across their thighs and groin. A wide reinforced belt protects their stomach and heavy pauldrons thicken their shoulders but their chests and arms are bare. Instead, they only a leather battle-harness holding up their weapons and shoulder armor. Their heads are shaved and thier bodies much more compact than most orcs. They carry not an ounce of extra girth, pale grey skin stretched as taught as a drum over absurdly defined muscles. These orcs were runners, built for chasing down the shadow's enemies and sprinting to support wherever a battle needed it most.

The two forward scouts approach the pair, fierce eyes staring. Bright red abstract designs trace their bare skin in thick bands, wrapping across their scalp, down their necks and across their chest and back. One is armed with a massive recurved short bow, notched with an arrow thicker than Kjellan's thumb. The other is carrying it's war-blade loosely in one hand. It was thick and curved slightly forward, the inside edge covered in terrible triangular serrations. A weapon designed to cause terrible harm, nearly impossible to recover from, but not necessarily to kill. Cripples made just as suitable sacrifices as anyone else. The orc steps close to Marakal, towering more than a foot over the tall human. The awful weapon raises almost casually up under Marakal's arm, lifting first one than the other. The Orc scans him and makes a small sircle with the end of his blade indicating that the human should turn around.

After repeating the process with Kjellan, the orc looks over his shoulder and sweeps his arm forward. The rest of the group resumes it's advance.

The other two guards, also Orcs armed and armored similarly, take up positions at the rear of the pass. The other three move to meet the first two. Marakal and Kjellan recognise the Grak scout, it's eyes flicking about looking at the changes in the scenery since the last time it was there, obviously looking for anything out of place. The Grak seems to be in a very high energy mood, twitching at everything, looking as fierce as possible and continually glancing to the hobgoblin next to it.

The hobgoblin wears an annoyed expression and is ignoring the Grak entirely. It too is taking in it's surroundings. It wears simple, well cared for leather armor bearing a few deep scars that were impossible to get rid of. It carries a spear in it's hand and a short blade strapped across it's chest, handle facing downward at it's right hip. A deep scar across it's left cheek that splits it's lips and chin says clearly that this hobgoblin is no simple surveyor. It looks to the enormous creature next to it and nods.

Kjellan and Marakal had heard of Oruks before, but nothing really prepared them for the sight of the one that stepped toward them. It looks much like the orcish soldiers it commands, only larger. It towers more than twice Kjellan's height, it's arms as thick as his waist. It wears no armor, not even the shoulder pieces worn by it's men. Only simple leather pants with reinforced knees and thighs, and massive boots, reinforced with metal along the front, like built-in greaves. It's forearms are the only other parts of it's body with protection. Thick, heavy gloves, reinforced like it's boots, run nearly to the elbows. Clamped around it's right arm, just below the bicep is a thick manacle with a heavy chain hanging down and then looping back to the pommel of the enormous war blade it carries. The weapon is longer than Marakal's full height, and is more than a foot wide. Oval shaped hollows along the blunted back edge create simple handles, allowing it to carry the weapon balanced in the middle, almost like a Judicator would carry a work case. Thick red lines traced it's body as well, it's skin much darker than it's fellows, with a strange bluish tint. It carried surprisingly few scars on it's body, but it's left arm had six horizontal lines, too precice to be accidental, each line with at least five strange symbols along their length. The significance was lost on the pair, but it had to mean something.

The massive warrior looks down at the pair for a moment, raising an eyebrow, seeming almost amused. It grins, showing teeth much less prominent than the Orcs on either side of it. In flawless Trader's Tongue it simply says:

"Papers"
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 12:38:16 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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« Reply #148 on: September 02, 2010, 05:50:21 PM »

"Yes s-sir," replied Kjellan, trying desperately to control his fear and nevervousness. While the encounter with the grak a few days ago had been terrifying in its own right, never had the dwarrow stood face to face--or rather eye to navel--with a creature as fearsome as this oruk.

Kjellan fumbled with his belt pouch, finally pulling out and handing over the requested papers. His hand trembled a bit as he did so, but not so much, he hoped, as to arouse more suspicion than the situation warranted. All the little details that Dunkun had drilled in him were racing through his mind.

The "gnome" looked the oruk briefly in the eye, then back at his toes, not quite sure where he should be looking. Best to stay silent and to speak only when asked questions, he thought.
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« Reply #149 on: September 02, 2010, 06:17:16 PM »

The giant soldier plucks the papers from Kjellan's hands, glances at them and raises an eyebrow again. He takes them back to his commander, looking over the hobgoblin's shoulder as they are analyzed.

"Lord of the Bladed Ring." The Oruk says. "Hmm. I thought the engineers that were delayed were sent by the Master in Grey."

"They were. More than one labor team hass been delayed or unexsspectedly reasssigned recssently. Thiss iss not necesssarily related." The hobgoblin replies absently as he scrutinizes the documents.

"Both send engineers and labor teams to the same area at the same time?" the Oruk says cocking it's head "Either they're working together or they're trying to beat each other to whatever they have thier eyes on out here. Either way, it's related."

"All the Orukss in the world, and I had to get ssaddled with the one who thinkss he can think." the hobgoblin scowls. "You talk too much."

"And you're too damn paranoid." The Oruk snaps back. "You think these two even know which symbol means what? They're lackeys."

"Sso are you." the hobgoblin says rolling up the papers. "never sstopped you from knowing more than you should."

Before the Oruk can respond, the hobgoblin steps forward and hands the papers back to Kjellan.

"Where iss your work crew?" the hobgoblin asks, the scars on it's face making it's scowl all the more fearsome.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 06:20:09 PM by Doomed Hero » Logged
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