Quest Ashes to Ashes

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Ashes to Ashes

Postby Royal on January 29th, 2016, 9:57 pm

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82nd Winter, 515AV

Brok Smithen was a man who carried a lifetime of bitterness and resentment along with him everyday, pressing down on his shoulders like a heavy piece of ornamental armour. Just by looking at his scarred face, which was almost permanently twisted into a grimace of sorts, one could surmise that he was not a fellow to catch on a bad day. On one such a bad day, he may well take pleasure in killing a man, woman or child, no questions asked.

Those who knew Brok would describe him as a man stuck in the past, with so many regrets that he had failed to develop a life in the present. He spoke about the dead like they were still alive, even those who had been rotting underfoot for many years.

And the man held a grudge as closely to his chest as other men chose to hold their wife or favoured whore. In his younger days, Brok had put all of his faith into Robern Dalagnar, serving the man as loyally as was possible for a mortal to do. He killed for Rotter, he saved for Rotter. And when the Daggerhands grew in their strength and power, Brok was one of Robern’s many right-hand men. Whereas others saw Brok as nothing more than a simpleton with a sword, and thus someone to drastically underestimate, Robern claimed to see the man’s inner worth and inner strength, buzz words that appealed to Brok’s basic understanding and the otherwise lack of appreciation in his life. Of course, Robern was toying with him, and when it all came falling and burning down, Brok was left with nothing. The surviving Daggerhands wanted nothing to do with him, and without his master, he was one lost little pup.

But Brok was a man with a fierce bite, and he resented his dead master for all those promises of riches and power. His own foolishness for believing Robern’s lies seemed to evade his attention and anger, and Brok’s obsessive hatred with all things Daggerhand swelled and grew over the next decade. Soon enough, it became common knowledge to avoid the mercenary who had once dreamed of being Sunberth’s prince.

He was an intimidating man, and not just because of his imposing strength. But though he was tall and broad, his age was beginning to catch up with him, and his skin was was sagging, his belly starting to go soft. But even with these whispers age, his impressive build alone did not capture his dangerousness: there was something unpredictable about the experienced sell sword. He appeared to be constantly agitated or angrily nervous, in the same way that abused dogs sometimes were. Mothers ushered their children away from him in the streets, and he could empty a tavern just about as quickly as a foul smell could. All in all, people observed him from a distance, elbowing each other and stepping out of his way.

And so, when Brok advertised his requirement of assistance in some mysterious, unnamed task, few people had answered. So few, in fact, that he hadn’t even bothered to interview or test their abilities. The merc had instead, simply instructed those who were interested in earning a wage for a nights work should meet him in the outskirts the Rotting Mansion, of all places. The once formidable home of Robern Dalagnar was now nothing but a blackened corpse of a building, but the ghosts of what had happened here still haunted and distressed Brok, who was currently pacing angrily back and forth.

”Is this it, then?” He demanded angrily of the two other people who stood anxiously to the side. The female of the two put a hand to her dirty blonde hair and shrugged in her reply. Her hand dropped from her head, fingering instead the rapier hilt that hung to her hip.

”Maybe.” She concluded vaguely, giving a strained look to the young fellow standing beside her. Both of the volunteers looked remorseful over their decision to accept this bizarre invitation. After licking her lips, she enquired cautiously, ”What exactly will we be doin’?

Brok ignored the question, and spat violently onto the pavement. ”Bloody ridiculous. Yer both look ‘bout twelve. Do ye even know ‘ow to ‘old a sword?” He paused to critically scrutinise the young male who, in fairness, did have an interesting hair style. The sides of his head were shaved, and the hair on top had been braided and pinned to his skull.

”There’s someone else coming.” The blonde woman said, her voice heavy with relief. Brok turned sharply away and then spread his arms wide. ”Another babysitter!” He called out to the approaching male as if the two were old friends. Behind him, the male and female shared a concerned look. ”M’names Brok Smithen. This pair are—”

“Erin.”

“R-Rod. Keegan. Rod Keegan.”


Brok seemed as unimpressed with Rod’s introduction as he had done with the male’s hair. Pucking his lips, he turned towards the Rotting Mansion and suggested, ”well, let’s go in then, shall we?”


 
Brok Smithen
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Age: 48
Gender: Male
Skills: Weapon: Broadsword, 52
Intimidation, 38
Leadership, 30
Brawling, 24


 
Erin Montsoya
ImageName:
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Skills: Weapon: Rapier, 37
Unarmed Combat, 27
Stealth, 25


 
Rod Keegan
Image
Age: 27
Gender: Male
Skills: Weapon: Dagger, 48
Tactics, 32
Dual wield, 27


Read me! :
So, as you're the only sign up ( :(( :(( :(( ), I figured a couple of NPCs wouldn't go amiss! I thought it might be good if you could take control of either Erin or Rod (your choice!), I'll have Brok and whosever left. We don't want Erik to be lonely now, do we?
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Ashes to Ashes

Postby Erik Murphy on January 30th, 2016, 3:36 pm

Erik never had felt safe in the Rotten Ruins, the trek through Robern's Reaches didn't help either. Too many gangs, too many muggers, too many whores. A man could never feel safe, he had to look at the world so that even the most comely woman was seen as potential threat, liable to strip to you naked and run off with your clothes. He didn't want to be here, he would've rather been at home right now; filling his gut with a nice hot stew, telling his youngest to pull his bloody finger and then sleep like a log on straw-stuffed mattress. He didn't need the money, but the job was too important.

"Brok Smithen" Erik declared as he stepped out of the darkness "You look like an ol' bit of leather but I still recognise that face". Gods he's fallen far Erik thought solemnly to himself as he looked at the man he once knew. They had been friends for a time, it was an age ago, when both men had far fewer scars and their hair had a lot more colour to it. He was a true warrior back then, at least in Erik's eyes, and he cast a much larger shadow than Erik ever would. Those were the good old days but they were long gone.

He was seduced by the words of an outsider, he fell for their lies. No-one, even Erik, could claim they knew what Robern was up to. Sure he had bad feeling about the man but he had the same about every outsider and it was people like Robern who confirmed his fears. Now, what once was anger had been turned to pity, Brok had punished himself several times over. Erik never offered a hand, so many mercenary's that filled the ranks of the old guard had fallen, whether in a sudden blaze of glory and bloodshed or a quiet whimper all alone. He had to watch out for his own, he had a family to deal with. He was here now for the man, he hoped that would be enough.

"Name's Erik" He said, looking over the two the other mercenaries. They looked young, perhaps too young, but then again they probably thought Erik was too old. The blonde had a certain fire to dancing in her eyes, she looked like one that put up a decent fight when the time came. The lad Erik wasn't sure about, he seemed a little too fidgety, a little too on edge. Maybe it was just the ruins; they cast a spell that made even the most hardened man feel a sense of unease. Or perhaps Erik just didn't like his haircut; he wasn't fond of a mercenary that put too much value in their appearance.

”Well, let’s go in then, shall we?”

"Aye, lets"
He said in agreement, stepping forward onto the supposed haunted grounds as the mansion loomed forward. There was no building like it in all of Sunberth, it stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the humble houses that filled the city and for whatever reason it seemed to tower over Erik as he stepped forward, making him feel so small and insignificant as the reputation of a long dead man still oppressed the people of Sunberth.

"I remember when they set fire t' this place" He muttered, his tone was one deep in the past as he twisted around pointing to a patch of grass in the corner of the mansion grounds "I was over there, just watchin' them do it" He sighed as turned back to the mansion itself "And now they think he could be hauntin' this place... Seems like every generation 'as its Obal Causten, things never change d'they?"
ImageImageImage
“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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Ashes to Ashes

Postby Royal on February 10th, 2016, 5:21 pm

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The old Daggerhand squinted, his face crumpling up like old parchment, as he heard the fourth member of his party approach. An older male, close enough to Brok’s age to recogniser him from his former life. The fact that this displeased Brok was evident in the curl of his lip and the snarl in his reply: “Yeh? You talk big for a nobody.” It wasn’t that Brok was hostile towards Erik as such: they had once been allies. Rather the presence of someone from the past dug up memories that Brok would rather forget. Erik had not fallen for Robern’s sweet words, he’d had the family and life that Brok never had. Envy and bitterness made his blood turn cold and his behaviour aggressive.

Chewing the inside of his cheek, Brok jerked his head towards his two younger accomplices. After a brief tick wherein they simply stared at him, Erin got the message and fell in beside the belligerent old sellsword. Eventually Rod anxiously stepped towards Erik, his face contorting in regret and worry.

“What exactly we here for?” Erin asked as they meandered towards the huge structure. The fain smell of ash and smoke still lingered in the air faintly and made her nose wrinkle. “Chasin’ ghosts?” She guffawed stupidly, but was silenced when Brok gave her a hard, pig-eyed stare.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing.” He replied with cruel, casual entertainment. The colour from Erin’s face drained and when she started to chuckle nervously – hoping that Brok was indeed still joking – he shoved her to the side. “Shut yer trap, you stupid bitch. Ain’t yer seen those bloody signs that are all over the city?” A brief pause. Erin, having finally got her balance and now walking more than an arm’s length away from Brok, nodded sullenly. “Well back int’ day, we used to use a symbol like that. Did it to converse with each other, leave notes, like. Sometimes we used it to mark our next targets.” As Brok spoke, the words tumbled out of his lips faster and faster, almost like an over excited child. His eyes, though, remained dead and dark. “Now, could be that perhaps someone’s pullin’ a prank, but seems a lot of effort. Nah, you know what I think?”

At this point they reached the entrance point to the mansion. Brok fell silent, even he being intimidated by the sheer size of the manor house, let alone the damage done to it. That such beauty and strength could be dragged down into ashy ruins was another symbol of mortality that he liked to avoid. When he spoke next, Brok’s voice was quiet, eerily so: “I reckon it’s him. Robern. He’s the type of bastard to come back as a ghost, don’t you think?” This question seemed to be delivered more to Erik, the only other aged mercenary who may have had dealing with the once self-proclaimed King of Sunberth. “I’ve always said that, but nobody believes me. Now, though, people are startin’ to pay attention. They’re startin’ to think ‘yeh, maybe Brok was right after all this time’.

Well, petch them!”
Furiously the male slammed a fist into the darkened wall of the mansion. Was it madness that made his tone and behaviour change so dynamically, or genuine belief that the ghost of his old leader resided in the burnt out house? “If anyone’s gonna drag out that ghost, it’s gonna be me.”

He turned suddenly to the rest of the party, as if Brok had only just remembered they were there. His left eye twitched slightly.

“There’s an entrance ‘round here. Follow me.”

He led the party to the side of the mansion, where an entrance to the cellar was located. Though the wooden cellar door itself had long been burnt down, the stone steps were in generally good nick, and at the bottom of them was another door, this one salvaged from the fire. After casting an almost anxious look behind him, Brok placed his hand on the door and murmured three simple words:

“Open. It’s me.”

The door clicked, wheezed and slowly swung open, exhaling a sigh of smoke and ash as it did so. “Look around.” Brok grunted as he ambled inside the cellar, lit only by the thin strips of light that flooded in from the narrow windows that ran around the top perimeter of the basement, “Me’n the girl will look down here. You—” He spoke only to Erik, apparently now ignorant to the existence of Rod and Erin, who huffed angrily at being addressed so dismissively, “take a look upstairs.” Orders given, he casually threw an arm towards the left far corner of the cellar, where a rickety set of steps led to the floor above.

The ground floor of the mansion was a vast space that spanned the full width and length of the mansion. It was split into five rooms, though Erik and Rod would come up into what had once been a vital room to the Daggerhands. Though bare now (save for a couple burnt out picture frames, a desk and a single dusty dagger lying on the floor), the room had once served as the main Daggerhand meeting room. Brok in particular had spent many a night in the room, listening intently as Robern spun him a tale disguised as a promise.

The silence of the house was immense and pressing, broken only by the creaking floorboards.

And then, the slicing of blades from their hilts, and a sharp question from the dark:

“Who’s there?”
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Ashes to Ashes

Postby Erik Murphy on March 4th, 2016, 12:57 pm

Erik stood there to watch and listen, just wondering how far the man had fallen in to the most endless pit one could find themselves in; a man's own mind. He let him push the fellow mercenaries, not wanting to physically or verbally intervene against a man with a short fuse and a sharp blade, not wanting to provoke a man who he could no longer call friend. Tread lightly in this city Erik recalled his mother tell him as Brok revealed his fears and intentions This city is a grave and the dead are best left undisturbed.

“I reckon it’s him. Robern. He’s the type of bastard to come back as a ghost, don’t you think?”


Erik shrugged at the question, the two young faces looking at him for an answer from a more stable source. Once or twice he had been in his presence but no words were exchanged between them, those were in the early days, but most dealings were handed down from rung to run till Erik was landed with a job. Erik had seen him hang though, he had made sure to drag his children along to watch the spectacle, and there he had seen Robern's true colours, if only at a distance. Ambition, anger, delusion. "Aye, he did leave this world with sumthin' of a grudge".

“If anyone’s gonna drag out that ghost, it’s gonna be me.”


"You should've dragged 'im out when he was still breathin'" Erik said, his thoughts slipping from between his lips as he failed to take them back. Brok looked back round at them, to Erik he still looked lost in the past. For a moment he felt the younger mercenaries tense up, unsure if these two men were squaring up for a fight or ready to laugh about the past. Erik spotted his rabid eye twitch, as Erik hand reached out to the hilt of his blade for comfort. The moment seemed to streach out for an age but eventually Brok turned away and called his hirelings onward. Perhaps he didn't hear Erik or maybe he was far angrier at Robern to even bother to acknowledge the thoughts of a nobody.

Erik followed him to the entrance, taking up the rear as he nudged Erin and Rod along, making sure they didn't bail on him. Erik cast an uneasy glance over the building before stepping into its embrace, a door opened by muttered words did not help to silence his worries. He raised a hand to cover his mouth as he coughed and spluttered, a lifetime of smoking took its toll as his lungs were flooded by ash and dust. "By the gods" Erik cursed as he wiped the spittle from his lips "This place didn't burn for lack of tryin'" Erik noted as his hand rested on a barrel that had no doubt stored some of the finest alcohol in Sunberth once though was now mournfully empty.

“Me’n the girl will look down here. You take a look upstairs”

He saw Rod's face curl in resentment for a moment as Brok ordered Erik about, he sympathised with the lad but even Erik was quick to dismiss younger meceranies in this city. They had earnt that right by still being alive. "Come on lad, with me" Erik said, beckoning him over as he walked up creaking steps that threatned to break with even Erik's slight weight.

The room was hauntingly silent, perhaps voices had not graced this walls for several years now and even the dust that lined what little remained seemed disturbed at the mere presence of people. "What's 'is problem?" Rod asked as they both stepped cautiously round the room, looking around ti intently as if trying to find something that was clearly not there. "Brok?" Erik asked rhetorically as he ran his fingers across the dusty walls "Uhh, it's long story lad. Life took away sumthin' he feel entitled too, left him a little tethered to the past y'know. Like those gin swiggin' hags outside the whorehouses, remindin' people of past".

"Right" Rod stated simply, pretending to understand something someone so young couldn't understand. Erik was given a few more moments of silence, letting his sweep the dust of the desk into a billowing cloud as he examined the surface with undue attention, before Rod finally broke the silence once more.

"What was 'e like? Old Robern I mean".

Erik looked up the young man's face, his old eyes peering across the dark room as he mulled on his answer. "Well, I barely knew the cunt. When 'e was younger, they said 'e could charm the pants off a priestess. But, towards the end" Erik paused, his eyes rolling around to find the answer in his mind "He went fuckin' crazy. Paranoid they said, chasin' shadows in the alleyways. He 'ad what was comin' to 'im, that's dead certain".

He spotted the lone dagger, picked it up and begun cleaning the dirt of its blade before a voice from the darkness drew his attention and Erik tucked the blade into his belt. It echoed through the room, bouncing from wall to wall before ringing ever so clearly in Erik's skull that it felt as if the voice was being whispered by a figure right behind him. Erik looked up at Rod's face, his worried expression made it clear that both men had heard the voice. Both men drew their weapons simultaneously, it was the only response these men knew.

“Who’s there?”

A moment passed. Erik's eyes jumping erratically between every corner of the room as he processed the situation. "The only ones that should be, the livin'" Erik replied defiantly as he started shuffling away, his feet edging back the way they came. "Brok! Brok? You hearin' this?"
ImageImageImage
“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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