Pretty Visitors

{Flashback} {28 Spring, 505 AV}

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While Sylira is by far the most civilized region of Mizahar, countless surprises and encounters await the traveler in its rural wilderness. Called the Wildlands, Syliran's wilderness is comprised of gradual rolling hills in the south that become deep wilderness in the north. Ruins abound throughout the wildlands, and only the well-marked roads are safe.

Pretty Visitors

Postby Thalrick on March 10th, 2015, 2:13 am

The fire crackled bright and hot, as orange embers licked the dark night sky, sizzling and burning before fading to nothingness. If fires were supposed to lift spirits and bring courage, then Thalrick would not know. He felt as if cold, dead hands had risen to drag his spirit deep beneath the earth, so deep he no longer knew if he even had one. And despite the fire that burned hot and bright, he had never felt more wintry in his life. Ten in total sat around the fire; Thalrick, Badger, Renly, Pete (Old Pete's son) Toothless Bill, Lolly, Big Axe, Garrion, the blonde man with one eye, and the man with the thick moustache, which had a stubbled beard to match. Each of them were armoured and armed, but still he could see that each of them were just as afraid as he was.

We're all scared, every one of us, He thought as his squinted eyes peered around the fire. Garrion was sharpening his sword, Badger and Renly were talking amongst each other, and the rest of them sat there, sombrely, chewing at their supper or doing nothing at all. Big Axe had fallen asleep where he sat, snoring and groaning as if he were having nightmares. They had camped inside a light forest of pines, only a few miles from Lonetower. Garrion had made sure they could not see the grey sentinel on the horizon, because that would mean that they would not be seen either. They were to attack in the morn, when whoever inhabited the tower was asleep or weary from their sleep.

The blonde man with one eye named Kalem would go with Lolly, and together they would grapple the tower wall after Renly had put a well-placed arrow through the sentry. Kalem oft spoke of his skills with his scimitar, so Garrion trusted he and Lolly would be able to open the tower door from the inside, allowing the rest of the outlaws to charge in. Garrion was confident in his plan, but Thalrick not so much. What if something goes awry? What if there is more than one sentry? It all came down to whether the men inside were sleeping or not, and Thalrick doubted whether the information the scout had given them was even true. What if there were more than ten of them? What if they were not asleep? Lolly and Kalem would be slaughtered like lambs. . .

Sleep that night did not come easy. He dreamed didn't dream of his mother or his father. Swirling black mist crept up close, and when he tried to reach for it he fumbled, and it faded away. He could hear it say something to him, he could hear the mist speak, though how could it when it had no mouth? It came and it went for six long hours, until Thalrick woke up in a sweat. Renly stood over him, frowning and leaning on his longbow. What was that. . . That mist. . . Who. . . He didn't realize he had been sweating until it dripped down over his eye. With a gloved hand he wiped it away, and then took Renly's own so he could be hoisted to his feet. It was still dark out, and the sun had not yet risen.

''You were twitching all through the night, lad, are you alright?'' He asked concernedly. Thalrick shrugged and wiped the sleep from the corner of his eyes.

''It, it was just a dream.'' Thalrick stated bluntly. Renly clicked his tongue a few times, trying to conjure up what to say. When he found nothing he just offered Thalrick some burnt bacon and bread. The bread was hard and chewy and the bacon the same, but he ate it quick enough. It may have been the last food he ever did eat, if the day went amiss.

''What did you dream of, then?'' Renly asked as they broke their fast. Thalrick did not truly want to talk about it, because he did not know himself. Still, he would not deny himself one last conversation before his impending demise.

''A mist, black and dark. It came to me, but when I reached to touch it, it went away again,'' He bit down on a pear that Lolly had handed him, and the juices ran wild down his chin, ''it kept happening, all through the night. It came and it spoke to me, but I couldn't hear what it had to say. It spoke in some other language, I think. Then I reached for it, and it faded away again.'' Some of his peers looked at him with worried looks, others curiously. Garrion raised an eyebrow and then said, ''A dark dream, lad. I had one myself, not so long ago. The mist is a bad omen, I'm certain. I had mine two nights before my sister was taken from me by those damned knights, Tyveth slit their throats,'' He chewed down on his own pear, then tossed the rest of it aside and stood up, ''Don't let your dream frighten you, lad. None of us will die today.'' He said it as if he did not believe it himself, then stormed off to tend to his horse. Lolly looked at Thalrick worriedly.

''Mayhap the dream tell you to stay out of it today, boy? If bad omen it is, then mayhap it's telling you to turn around that Racer o' yours and head back to Old Pete and Strom. We'll all be back before night on the morrow, I swear to ya.'' She spoke in a friendly tone, trying to reassure Thalrick they could handle the rescue themselves. He would have none of it.

''No, I'm not turning around, I'm not going anywhere. It was a petching dream, that's all. I've tried to run all my life. All. My. Life. I'm not turning and running, not now. I'm fighting beside you all, whether I live or I die. I am not going back until you do.'' He didn't realize he had stood up, or clenched his fists, or thrown his pear at a nearby tree trunk so it exploded into chunks, leaving juice marks over the wood. Everybody went quiet for a moment, until Renly barked a laugh that was half-mocking and half-surprised.

''The pup is a wolf now, Lolly. Can't you see? Nothing we say will make the boy turn back, he'll be biting at our heels until we all perish. Sit, Thalrick, it's not us you should be taking that fury out on.''

Thalrick did as Renly said, and took a seat on the hollow log he and Badger had been using as a seat. ''I-I'm sorry. .'' He stammered, but Lolly just laughed. ''It's alright lad,'' she said, ''we're free folk, all of us, I'm no more free than you are. Come if ya want, I won't be stopping ya.'' She finished her piece of bacon and went off to tend to her own horse. The rest of that hour was spent in silence, albeit the sounds of chewing and the crackling of the fire. Kalem muttered a few words to Toothless Bill, who had been sucking the life out of his own pear. The wiry white-haired man laughed, and that was it. Silence again. It was not until Garrion returned, armoured and mounted, that the silence was broke.

''Armour up and get ready to ride, we've wasted enough time. The sun will be upon us soon, we need to move before it's risen too high. Let's get Crow and Stoneworth back, kill some petchin' knights, and then drink the rest of our day away,'' Nobody argued against it. The fire was stamped out by Badger, who then rushed off into the wood to find his armour. They all returned ten minutes later, armoured and armed, Thalrick included. He tugged himself up onto Racer, then allowed the great destrier to take him out of the woods and into the weedy field beyond. He rode near the back of the small group, with only Toothless Bill at his rear. The older man seldom spoke, and Badger had told Thalrick that he was only good for fighting and farming. His riding skills were poor, as was his ability to comprehend anything but the sounds of dancing steel.

By the time they came closer toLonetower, the sun had only just risen. The ride was long and gruelling, and they had rode fast too. Thalrick felt a pain clench his stomach into a knot. They'll soon be upon us.. . Soon. When they were close enough, Garrion had them dismount, and leave their horses to graze. Renly was tempted to speak against it, but held his tongue. If he had to walk, he would walk. They crept slowly through the weedy fields, kneeling down to remain hidden. As the lonely tower at the top of the hill grew closer and closer, Thalrick could make out the silhouette of the sentry atop it. He had been facing the other way, thankfully, when Renly came in range.

''This won't,'' he pulled his long bow from his back, drew an arrow from the quiver at his hip, ''take very long,'' he drew the bow back and took aim, ''I assure you all.'' Then he fired, and the arrow found the sentry in the back of the neck. He toppled silently from the tower, and then he was gone. Renly seemed rather pleased with himself then, smiling like a maniac. Garrion patted him on the shoulder, and they continued to move, faster now. The hills that surrounded the lonely stone tower were steep, but the weeds and harvested crops made it easier to stay hidden. Steadily they ascended in a single file, with Garrion at the head. As they got closer and closer, the banner of the Windoak became evident, flapping about in the morning breeze.

The tower itself was made from grey stone bricks, some cracked and worn with age. There was a single door made of oak wood and studded with iron, though Garrion assured them it would be barred with wood from the inside. The tower had no roof, and instead had a top floor that could overlook the land, where the sentry had stood. The roof floor had been lined with merlons, but somehow Renly's arrow had found its way through the crenelation and into the sentry all the same. The tower had a single window near its peak, and was lined with arrow slits everywhere else, allowing ample light to get into anywhere but the top floor. Thalrick wondered where Crow and Stoneworth were being kept.

''How do we do this, then?'' Lolly asked excitedly. A grappling rope with a steel hook had been slung around her shoulder, and she looked all too excited to put it to good use. Garrion looked at Lolly, then at the tower, then back to the woman. ''Can you do it? It's higher than I thought. .'' He said, tone laced in concern. Lolly barked a quiet laugh. ''Aye I can bloody do it, me and Kalem both.'' Kalem nodded incessantly, and Garrion shrugged from beneath his heavy steel. ''Go, then. We will wait.'' He said drily. As if something overtook him, Thalrick blurted out, ''I want to climb, too.'' Garrion pushed him along, even if Badger gave him a worried glare. Thalrick followed Lolly and Kalem up the remainder of the hill, trying their best to remain as quiet as they could.

''I hope ya can climb, boy.'' Lolly said as they approached the western side of the tower, unravelling the rope from her shoulder. As if possessed by Myri herself, Lolly managed to swing and toss the hook up to the very top of the tower, so it was stuck in one of the crenelations. She climbed it first, and then Kalem followed when she was halfway up. The tower was not overly high, but nor was it small work. Yet they made the vertical ascent seem so easy. Hurry, Thalrick, you have to hurry, He thought as he wrapped two hands around the rope, and put his foot on the stone. He began to climb, slowly but surely. Some stones jutted out further, and so they could be used as footholds. They were his favourite stones, he decided. The gloves kept him from burning his hands on the rope, but yet the leathers he wore made him twice as heavy, and by half way he struggled to keep himself going.

Lolly waited impatiently at the top of the tower, waving him up with either hand. Slowly he climbed, one foot, left, right, left, right, he kept climbing and climbing, becoming more sore with each step he took, each pull of the rope. He wanted to look down, but he dare not. The fright would have unhinged him. Left, right, left, he kept going, and after what felt like an hour, he allowed Kalem to pull him up through the crenelation and pat him on the back. ''That was the easiest part, lad.'' Lolly whispered as she dragged the rope up to the top of the tower, wrapped it in a coil and left it there. The air up there was cooler, the breeze more apparent. The top floor of the tower was made of stone, but rain and heat had cracked and dried the stones to the point they had begun to erode. There was nothing there but an empty barrel, and a heavy wooden trapdoor that led to the top floor of the tower.

Lolly knelt to open the trapdoor, but Thalrick grabbed an arm to stop her. From the eastern side of the fields they came, six mounted men, clad in steel armour, with a squire carrying the banner of the Windoak. They moved in two lines of three, with the squire a few yards behind, and they moved fast. Even their palfreys were covered in a blanket of chainmail and black cloth. They were heading toward the tower door, but if they kept going the way they were; Garrion and the others would all be spotted, and slaughtered. They had no weapons suitable to fight mounted men.

''Knights, petchin' knights.'' Lolly cursed when she saw them. Kalem breathed a deep breath and began to pull on his blonde hair. He only had one good eye, but that was all he needed to spot death coming from two hundred yards away.
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Thalrick
Plagued by proverb
 
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Joined roleplay: February 26th, 2015, 4:00 am
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Pretty Visitors

Postby Thalrick on March 10th, 2015, 9:07 am

''What should we do?'' Thalrick asked in a whisper, rushing to peer out over the edge of the merlon. The knights were moving slower as they approached, but it would not be long before Garrion and the others were in their field of view.

''I don't bloody know, this wasn't expected, not at all!'' Lolly groaned in a hushed voice, which made her voice squeaky. Kalem peered down at the knights from the side of the merlon, as they all had to do their best to stay hidden.

''I have an idea,'' he said, and crawled toward the empty barrel. Thalrick looked at him curiously, then realized his idea. The one eyed man heaved the barrel up over the edge of the tower, and threw it down onto the wooden ramp that led to the gate. It smashed into pieces from the fall, and caught the attention of the approachers. They tugged at reins and began moving straight for the tower, fixated on it's roof. Garrion and the others realized they were there at that point, and moved back enough so they would not be seen.

''Great idea, great petchin' idea,'' Lolly complained, then began tugging the trap door open and said, ''Now we're gunna be bloody well trapped in this little stone oven,'' She wretched it open and fell backward, and the iron and wood slammed against the wooden floor of the roof. It creaked as it swayed up and down, then stood still. A wooden ladder had been propped to the wall, and she nodded toward it as she stood up. ''Let's go, hurry!''

The ladder was small, and Thalrick found it hard to climb it as it descended through the top floor, forcing himself to squeeze and contort his body so he did not get stuck. The window floor was empty aside from some crates and sacks of wheat, and the following floor was just the same. Well, so they thought, until they heard muffled pleas come from an iron cage. Lolly and Kalem hopped off the ladder onto the stone floor, and Thalrick followed. An arrowloop was the only form of natural light, and still it only let through a tiny shaft of the rising sun, enough to draw a long blade of pale orange light across the room. An iron sconce held a burnt out torch, and two cramped iron cages held a man each. The rest of the floor was covered in empty sacks, blood, and webs.

''Stoneworth, Crow?'' Lolly asked quietly. She received muffled responses, but took them for a yes. She reached her slender hand through the bars and pulled the cloth rags from their mouths. The larger, more-cramped looking man, began breathing loudly. He was an Isur, Thalrick knew.

''It's me, Loll.'' She whispered, and the Isur's breathing stopped for a moment as he said, ''We knew, we knew you would come for us. Where are Garrion and the rest? Who is with you?'' He spoke all at once, as if he had not done so in weeks. The room was so dark that it was hard to distinguish his face, and he theirs. ''They're outside, in the fields. . It's me and Kalem here for you, and Thalrick too. Young lad joined us a few days back.'' Lolly replied, then drew her dagger and stuck it into the lock of the cage.

''Kalem, watch the hatch, stab anybody who gets up it would ya?'' She ordered, and the one-eyed blonde man crouched by the hatch with scimitar in hand. Thalrick stood between them, unaware of what he should be doing. ''Oi, Lad, help me with Crow's lock!'' She whispered, and Thalrick began mimicking her by shoving the tip of his own sword in the other lock. Crow was far more silent than the Isur, as Stoneworth asked every question he could possibly think of. When Lolly had finally freed Stoneworth, she moved Thalrick aside to begin on Crow's lock, which Thalrick had barely budged.

The huge Isur was wide set, with short hair and pale blue eyes that shone out through the blackness. He was nearly as tall as the ceiling when he fully extended himself, though it was still too dark to make out any of his features. Thalrick knelt beside him in awe, staring up at him as if he was Tyveth himself. When Crow's lock was done, the smaller, wirier man crawled out, and every bone in his body seemed to crack as he did. Before he could revel in his freedom, a thump came from the hatch below. ''Gaul, are you up there? Did you drop that bloody barrel?'' The voice shouted, though it became muffled through wood and the stone. The knights assumed the dead sentry had thrown the barrel down onto the ramp, and they were all the better for it.

Kalem replied in a voice that was not his own, ''Aye, I did! My apologies, I slipped and kicked it down!'' He added more gruffness to his tone, hoping the sentry had been a seven foot tall grizzly bear. It all went quiet for a moment, and Thalrick thought they had gone. They he saw the hatch being pushed open, and Kalem slammed his foot down on it. ''It's all well and good! I'll just go keep watch!'' He yelled down to them. The hatch wiggled and shook, as if two men were pushing their weight against it.

''Gaul, open the bloody hatch! It's Alfrey's turn to take watch! You ain't slept all bloody night!'' The muffled voice shouted, but Kalem kept his foot on the hatch. At the word 'Alfrey', Stoneworth grunted loudly. Alfrey had been the only knight in Lonetower fond of torturing, and had nearly taken the Isur's fingers off, if the others had not stopped him.

''Let Alfrey up.'' Stoneworth said drily. Kalem looked at him and whispered, ''Are you mad? Then the rest of them will come up, and we'll all die before we get out of here. .'' Stoneworth shook his square head defiantly. ''No. Alfrey comes alone, like Gaul did. The rest stay down below.'' Kalem moved away from the hatch and uttered 'fine', allowing it to open. A scrawny man clad in leathers soon climbed up, but the darkness hid the enemies that lurked in the shadows. Only a slither of pale orange came through the arrowloop, but that was not nearly enough to illuminate the room.

As soon as the hatch was bolted shut by the scrawny man, Stoneworth was on him. He grabbed him by the throat and lifted him single-handedly off the floor. The man squirmed, but only for a second until the Isur broke his neck. A sickening crack echoed through the room, and Stoneworth dropped the body to the floor like it was an empty sack. ''Good riddance to the petch.'' He said bluntly, as he dragged the body with one hand into the corner of the room, away from the hatch.

Kalem looked shocked. ''My my, Stoney. He must have got on your nerves.'' He japed. The Isur just grunted and asked what the plan was. As Lolly explained, Crow rummaged over the body, claiming his gladius, dirk, and leather cuirass. He dressed himself appropriately, and offered the Isur the gladius, but he declined. ''You keep it.'' He told him sternly.

''What's up with crow, then? He ain't speaking like he usually does, cat got his tongue?'' Lolly japed. The Isur shook his head, but nobody saw it. ''The cat doesn't, Alfrey did. Crow spoke too much, chanted curses upon all the knights, and so in the black of night the little petch came in with his dirk and cut out his tongue. I heard the screams, but I never saw who it was. The next day he carried it around with him, and waved it in Crow's face. Little petch, maybe I should shyke on his corpse.''

Lolly frowned. ''A shame, then. . . I'll miss his pretty songs.''

''We won't hear anyone's pretty songs if we don't leave here soon. . .'' Kalem whispered.

Stoneworth moved Kalem away from the hatch, looked at him and said, ''I'll go first, then. I have some skulls to shatter before we prance out o' here.'' The hatch swung open and he climbed down, disappearing onto the floor below. Crow shoved past Lolly and Kalem and followed him down, dirk in his left hand and gladius in his right. Kalem went then, and then Lolly the last of them. My turn then, Thalrick thought as he climbed down, afraid of what awaited them on the next floor. Surprisingly there was nothing but an empty table and a bench. A wooden bowl filled with grapes, pears and apples sat in the middle of the table, and so both the freed captives took a handful of grapes and an apple each, and ate them before they went back to the ladder again.

''This is where they eat, usually good meat, pork and steak and cheese. I smell it through the floor, petches.'' The Isur explained angrily. Before they were able to climb down to the next floor, voices came from below. The hatch to the next floor was already opened, and so their words had far more clarity than before, as the sounds drifted up through the open hatch.

''Did Gaul fall off the bloody roof? It's not even noon, there's no winds at all. What a clumsy moron.'' One man said.

''Antony is out there now, scraping him off the dirt so we can burn him. Did Alfrey see? I heard them talk to exchange watch, surely he would've seen.'' Another groaned.

''Best we go check then, aye? I would hate to find out that Alfrey the shyke pushed him off, that one is hotheaded to say the least.'' The first man japed.

Their footsteps grew closer, and soon their feet became evident upon the ladder. They're unarmoured, I can tell. . The footsteps aren't loud enough. . If these men were not covered in a thick layer of steel, then they had less of a chance to be cut to scarlet ribbons. As a balding, black head of hair appeared up the hatch, Stoneworth did not hesitate. He lunged forward and slammed his bare foot into the back of the man's head. His face squished against the wall, his nose broke, his jaw snapped, and six of his teeth fell out, then he fell back the way he had came. The man below him had to hug the ladder to avoid the falling body.

''What in the – '' He was not given time to finish, as the Isur pulled him up the ladder by his long copper hair. ''Gambin, you wretch.'' Stoneworth laughed, as the man crawled for the hatch. He dragged him away from it by his ankle. Crow leapt onto him and stabbed into his chest with the gladius, over and over and over, but not before he shouted ''intruders'' three times at the top of his lungs. The sounds of men waking came from below, and then the sounds of clanking steel echoed up the tower like coming death in his ears.

Lolly gulped, but Stoneworth pounded his fist against his palm. ''They're coming,'' They said together.
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Thalrick
Plagued by proverb
 
Posts: 51
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Joined roleplay: February 26th, 2015, 4:00 am
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