Solo Dark Tide

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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.

Dark Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on February 26th, 2016, 11:59 pm

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78th Day of Winter, 515 AV

"Laviku preserve me. If my father could see me now…"

Crassus’s hushed lamentation was followed with the usual short snort and vile globule of spittle sent flying over the railing of his ship.

His dear, sweet ship.

Oh my poor Theodosia, what had they done to you…

The captain’s grimace only deepened as he finally managed to tear his attention away from the box of snuff he was toying with in his hand and returned it out beyond the mud sodden decks of his once proud vessel. There lay the dark and unwelcoming shores of the northern wildlands staring back at him, cold and unflinching. Much like his last wife, and almost just as big too, the wildlands stretched from horizon to horizon, an ocean of dead and decrepit winter foliage every bit as deep and treacherous as the stories warned.

What did he say?” Came the gentle query of the knight sergeant peeking over the edge. Crassus sneered, unable to bring himself to even address the man. The facades and false pleasantries of the negotiating table were long since over with now that he already had the man’s coin, but even if he didn’t bother to turn and greet him, that didn’t mean the veteran Svefra had failed to notice the full set of plate armor that came clanking along with the Syliran’s rushed arrival to the deck. Well didn’t he get all prettied up in a hurry.

He said-

I said there’s a petching hole in our petching ship!” Came the cry from below once more, though this time with a little more agitation tinting the words and a little less bewilderment. The captain could feel a similar annoyance creeping steadily upon his good manners in a familiar manner.

"Did we hit a reef?"

Did we hit a- That was it!

Crassus spun on the knight like a daggerfin hunting squids in the coral. “’Did we hit a petching reef,’ he says!” The proud Svefra stabbed a finger directly into the shovel jawed face of his prestigious passenger, all the good manners and coin in the world be damned. “Listen here! I’ve sailed these damn shores a thousand times, and watched from my father’s shoulders as he sailed them a thousand more. I know these water’s like I know the moles on my wife’s backside. So no, dear knight, I did not sail us into a petching reef!

For what was probably the first time since Crassus meant him, the sergeant actually frowned. More than that, even his eyes hardened too, almost to a point where Crassus was certain the Syliran would finally snap out of the kindly hero veneer the ‘holier than thou’ bastard had painted himself in to reveal the true man underneath, or at the very least let loose a curse or two for petch sake. He hated dealing with a man who tried to hide what he really was, but he knew he hated the idea of dealing with one who actually believed themselves as ‘pure’ and as ‘chivalrous’ as the knight sergeant no doubt did. It was begging to grow beyond infuriating just to be around the man, let alone try and wriggle a reaction out of him.

The frown lightened after only a tick and Crassus found himself spitting over the railing again in increasing annoyance. Not today it seemed.

He’s right, ser Joran.” Kain called up to them from below the deck, all four sinewy arms hard at work wringing themselves together in a vain attempt to keep himself warm amidst the freezing, ankle deep waters now filling the hold. "It weren’t no reef that tore our poor Theo’s belly up like that.” He continued, teeth chattering all the while. “But…” The Eypharian’s tone shifted into something Crassus recognized as altogether worrisome. “There be burn marks all over the planking, Cap’n. Something blew a hole in her gut, and it did it from the inside, looks like."

The captain’s gaze found Joran’s once more, suspicion and accusation plain as day in his furious glare. Of course this was their fault!

To his irritating credit, the knight didn’t as much as flinch away from the wordless implication. “You know full well my compliment and my cargo, captain, despite my best attempts to dissuade your snooping. Nothing I brought unto this ship could have done this, and I’ve no reason to sink my own passage home.

Crassus snarled from beneath his beard as he took a hardy step forward that placed him chest to chest plate with the knight. “Don’t give me that bullshyke, Syliran. We both know full well you’ve managed to keep your secrets from me, and I’ve tolerated it outa’ respect for your order and their work-” That wasn’t even remotely true. It had been the money. It was always about the money these days. “-but now whatever it is you’re running from in Nyka has-

The knights of Syliras do not run from anything, captain.” Joran calmly interjected as Crassus felt what was probably a third blood vessel go ‘pop’ in his neck that morning. “Whatever trouble you and your people have gotten themselves into has caught up to you, sergeant, and it’s just beached my ship in the middle of petching nowhere, so do not think for a chime that I’m foolish enough to believe this is simply a petching coincidence!

For a good long tick the two simply stared at one another, Crassus literally shaking with the sheer anger boiling over in his bones, while Joran on the other hand, continued merely to hold unto that serene smile of his.

Finally, after too long a tense moment between them, it was Crassus who broke their deadlock.

Kain!

"Aye, Cap'n.” The steely eyed quartermaster was by his side in an instant.

How long?

I’ve salvaged what lumber I could from below, but almost everything is waterlogged. I think I can get us back in business by the morn, but I’m gonna need some more supplies.

Crassus finally released his scowl on Joran and turned to face the dark Eypharian. He understood what his old right hands man meant, but when he turned to look out upon the vast wilds awaiting them, he found himself doubting a great deal. “It’s the middle of winter, Kain. What do you expect to scavenge from... that?

The old sailor sighed. “Whatever it is, Cap’n, it’s better than nothing, which is exactly what I’m working with right now. Let me take some of the boys with me and we’ll be back in a few bells with a better sense of where we stand.

They would need more than that, Crassus noted, despite his quartermaster’s uncharacteristically optimistic assumption. Perhaps the old man was just trying to avoid a brawl on deck considering had the news been any worse it would have likely sent him lunging at the sergeant’s throat without a second thought. Regardless, it would take a shyke-ton of wood and sap, and he didn’t relish the idea of sending his men out there even to take a piss, let alone start felling trees. He’d sailed with most of them for years, and as scrappy and tough as he knew every one of them could be, they’d be no match for the horrors that were likely lying in wait amongst those ambling branches.

"Get to it then.” He growled. What bloody choice did he have? “But make sure you’re all carrying more steel than just a few axes and saws, you hear me." Crassus said, resting his knuckles on the railing and glaring at the forest as if it had done him an injury. "Stay in sight as best you can, we’ll keep watch from here." Kain nodded, and an instant later orders were being spewed across the Theodosia, everyone in earshot scrambling to his position. Everyone, save of course, for the knights.

For some reason, the sight of them all milling about on his deck like lost lambs reminded him to ask the question he’d been avoiding like the plague up until now. “Kain.” He called out almost unwillingly. The dark skinned seaman appeared from amidst the hustle and bustle like a ghost from the fog. “What’d we lose, and by the gods man, be gentle.

The hesitation in the quartermaster’s reaction was palpable, and already Crassus knew he was going to regret asking.

One of the goats.
A shame, but we’ll live.
Some of the spare hammocks and nails.
Replaceable.
A crate of the cotton we’d bought in Nyka…
Damn, spent good coin on that. We’ll have to- wait… That’s near where I kept my-
and…

Don’t say it.

…Two casks of the Baracuda Brandy.

Laviku preserve me.

Kain, gods bless the old sea dog, could do little but put a reassuring pair of hands on Crassus’s shoulder before shuffling off with an uncomfortable “I’m sorry, Cap’n.” The Sverfa’s head had buried itself in his hands at that point, and he was slowly sinking against the railing when another familiar voice replaced the wailing in his mind. “One of mine will go with them to the shore.” Joran suggested, his arms folded casually behind his back as he stepped up beside Crassus. “You’ll find your men will come to no harm so long as Priskil and my knights are watching over them. This I swear to you, captain. It’s the least we can do.

The wary Svefra could only manage a low, grumbling noise akin to something one might consider as agreement, before promptly slipping back into his misery.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on September 9th, 2016, 12:15 am, edited 5 times in total.
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:12 pm

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What’re you louts staring at?!

Annoyed that the work had stopped even before it had begun, Kain shouldered his way through the line of gawking sailors along with the knight who was sent to escort them -Tanner, as his name turned out to be- hot on his heels. Once at the front of the small crowd, they both found themselves frowning down at the thing that had held his men in such a stupor.

Tracks.” Tanner muttered as Kain knelt beside the bald human to study the soggy imprints in the snow. “Horse’s, fresh, and heavy with a rider.

The quartermaster grimaced.

The knight had an attitude about him that broached no room for misunderstanding or mistake on the matter, and that confidence alone sent Kain’s head, and subsequently every other head in the group, jerking up and around in search of whoever had left the marks. Tanner alone was the only one to appear unperturbed by all this, yet there wasn’t a hand among them that hadn’t reached for a weapon at that point. They all craned their necks this way and that, yet nothing but black, bony foliage surrounded them. Thick pines were the only saving graces to be found among ancient oak that, even bare of their leaves, still left a man with a great deal too much room to hide behind for Kain’s liking. He could only imagine what a real monster of the wilds could do with so much cover at its disposal.

Kain shivered at the thought, but then let his uncertainty turn to a growl of frustration. "Enough." He bit out sharply, nodding to the nearest tree that didn’t look as particularly appalling as the rest. "Whoever it is, they’re obviously gone now. The quicker we do our business, the quicker we’ll be gone too."

There were some initial grumblings of course, but chimes later and the steady, industrious sound of axes biting into ancient bark filled the crisp forest air.

It wasn’t long before they were working like hurried ants under his scrutinizing gaze, but Kain was still not satisfied. As the quartermaster aboard a cargo ship, he didn’t have the luxury to ever know what that word meant let alone felt like, so instead he strode among the sweating Svefra like a vengeful, scowling slave driver.

"That one, there! Faster! No, not like that! Come on, move your asses!"

Being harassed by an Eypharian of all things would have seemed like more than any self-respecting Svefra sailor could stomach, but over the many long years together, the crew of the Theodosia had come to trust Kain just as much as they did their cantankerous captain, and considering they all knew full well how much worse it would have been had Crassus been biting at their heels instead, many of them were content to simply grit their teeth and bear it as usual. Plus, it was as the captain always said; four hands were better at pointing out your mistakes than two. Kain had always taken a little pride in that kind of trust, and he wasn’t about to see it squandered now.

Under his watch, saws bit through felled trees and axes chopped at stray limbs in an almost rhythmic beat, all of which served to reduce the mighty sentinels of this nameless stretch of wilds into the kindling and bland strips of wood they’d need to see their sweet Theodosia skipping over the waves once more. It was impressive to see the speed and tenacity of his crew on full display, and it was a good thing they were all so quick to focus on their tasks too, as Kain knew he was doing a poor job of hiding the nervousness in his eyes. They routinely betrayed his portrayal of authority each time they flickered up from his work whenever a twig snapped or a chunk of snow fell from the tall branches overhead. Luckily they weren't too deep in the tree line, which felt like a blessing as the ship was still a beached and wallowing lump of reassurance off in the distance, yet even so there was still something tangibly… off.

He could feel the eyes on him. Cold, patient… and hungry. Yet no matter how hard he peered into the trees, he could find no boogeyman staring back at him. It was unbearable, and he knew the knight Tanner felt it too, but where-

"I think that’s it, quartermaster!"

The victorious cry from behind nearly sent Kain flying out of his boots.

He spun around, wiping the cold sweat from his forehead and hoping no one had noticed.

Before him were arrayed a dozen or so rough planks fashioned from the best they could gather, along with the Svefra who had done said fashioning flanking the stack on either side, their chests heaving with exertion and expectation bright in their eyes. Kain grinned and allowed himself just this once a moment to indulge them. "Well shyke, had I known all it would take to get your lazy asses moving for once was a little jaunt out into the woods, we’d of shipwrecked ages ago." There was a short and well deserved chorus of laughs between the sailors as they jostled and joked with one another before Kain eventually managed to rope them back into order. "Alright lads, alright. Let’s get it loaded up and head back-"

The Eypharian stopped mid-sentence, stalling without warning like a wagon losing its wheel. A sudden lance of pain flashed through him like a strike of lightning, and he could hear his heartbeat loud in his ears all of a sudden, like a distant surf suddenly brought close. He blinked and furrowed his brow, the world abruptly feeling all too heavy on his shoulders, but when he looked up to the crew for an explanation, he saw the exhaustion and weariness melting away from their faces, only to be replaced with sheer shock and terror.

What the hell are they...

A wave of wooziness crashed into him and he barely managed to stay upright. A wet cough wracked his body next and it nearly finished the job of planting him on his face. What is going on… There was something in his mouth, he noticed, and it was a struggle just to raise one of his trembling hands high enough to wipe at his lips.

Whose blood is this?

With eyes that didn't seem like his anymore, Kain looked down for the first time at the arrow head pointing out from under his chin. It took a tick to understand just what it was he was actually staring at, but it wasn’t long before the terror began to rumble within his clouded mind.

All he managed was a wet "What?” before the pain hit like a tidal wave.

Legs buckled instantly the quartermaster fell to his knees among the dead leaves and muddy earth. It took almost all the strength he had left just to wrench his gaze upwards again, but heavy eyes found his horrified brothers no longer standing there before him. They were gone, fleeing for their lives as the knight –what was his name again?- ripped his sword from its sheath and started hollering something at them. The sailor couldn’t quite hear the words, but he could have guessed. He was trying to get them out of here, get them back to safety and to the ship. Good, he thought hazily. They need to… needed to get…

That was when he saw it.

A trembling mess of fangs and claws and fur as black as night. He watched, helpless as a babe, as the formless nightmare was birthed from the shadows of the dead forest, its shambling, quivering form skulking out of the unknown and growing closer… closer.

He tried to cry out, to warn the others, to warn the knight to turn around, but nothing but red froth came when he bid his lips to scream. Oh gods.

It was too late. By then, the shadow of the beast was already upon him, and a glint of flashing steel was the last thing Kain ever saw.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on June 18th, 2017, 3:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:13 pm

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The cacophony of screams set every head on the ship snapping around to the snow drenched forest. Within a tick, three Svefra were pelting through the trees and unto the sands of the beach, practically falling over one another as they ran, and all the while bellowing at the top of their lungs as they careened back to shore.

"What in the hell…"

Crassus couldn't have cared less for the pungent fear in the crew’s eyes; he was a man used to order and command, and the sight of such unbridled panic was like a slap in his face. When the first sailor scurried up the rope, he was there, two hands snapping out to lift him up by the collar.

"Where. Is. Kain?!"

"A b-beast in the woods. It… it..." Eyes still bulged and veins were pulsing under the strain, but not just from the lack of oxygen. The other Svefra cowered on the deck, hiding behind the railings, some not even daring to look over into the trees. "Some... Something..."

"What?!" Crassus roared, incensed by such mindless babble, "What was it?!"

Where is Tanner?” Joran demanded.

Tanner!” A couple of the knight started shouting over the railing, peering hard into the abyss of foliage in a futile effort to find their comrade.

"It was a wolf!

That weren’t no bloody wolf, fool. It was bigger than a man and fast as the shadows that birthed it.

"You ran?! You ran and left him there?

Tanner!

The knight, he told us to-"

Tanner, mate, come on! Answer me!

The Captain of the Theodosia strode away, hands on his hips, shaking his head at the sheer absurdity of this petching fiasco. Kain, his brother in all but blood, abandoned out there? Was he hurt? Was he dead! He didn’t want to believe it. He couldn’t petching believe it. How could they leave him behind?! Everyone was either shouting, babbling, weeping, or questioning, the deck was in such a flurry of turmoil he could barely hear himself think! It was driving him insane. He had to regain control. Crassus spun around on all of them and opened his mouth to scream, only to find he had been beaten to punch.

Silence!” Roared Joran, his gauntleted hand raised to his ear as he strained to listen to… something. Everyone hushed themselves and leaned in.

The noise... it was something familiar like... steel clashing against steel. It was coming from the woods, battering away at one's calm like the thunder of an approaching hurricane. Captain Crassus turned and glared at the sound of it. They all did, desperate to find answers in a maelstrom of confusion and fear. Twang. Bang. Smash! It was a fight, it had to be! The sound of snapping branches and grunts of combat intermingled with the swords as the whole dissonance started to emanate more and more frequently and with increasing ferocity.

It’s Tanner.” One of the squires hissed. “We have to help-Boom!

An explosion rocked the forest and sent half the crew either scampering for cover or unto their asses in a startled stupor. A cloud of displaced snow, violently evicted from their precarious perches, erupted across the tree line, showering the shore in a fine blanket of slowly falling white mist. As it rained, birds cried out in indignation and flocks of them all over the forest could be seen taking to sky in flight.

After that, it was quiet for a long, uncomfortable time.

There!

A shadow shifted against the snow where finger’s pointed, and mass of blackness strode out from the forest in full view of everyone onboard. Its fur as somber as the void itself, they looked upon the thing as it cradled something in pale contrasting hands, almost lovingly at first, but it wasn’t until the small shape was sent flying did they begin to realize what horror they were witnessing. Crassus stepped forward, seeing it for what it was right away as it spun lazily through the untrammeled morning air, bathed in Syna's rays and fresh blood.

It thumped unceremoniously onto the sand, rolling closer and closer to the Theodosia and her captive audience until it finally stopped mere yards away.

"No..."

Tanner’s wide, stricken eyes stared up at them in mute, doomed pleading.

Crassus spat over the railing and started barking out orders.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 18th, 2016, 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Elias Caldera
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:14 pm

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The Night Before


‘Did yah hear?’

That was how most of his days started now, and more often than not how they ended as well, with three simple, hypnotizing words.

Tonight he’d been besieged by them yet again, and as usual it had come courtesy of a plethora of loud drunks or careless whispers. This time however, amidst the drivel and drawl, there was something other than usual district rumors and meaningless hearsay. This time, they’d mentioned the one thing that he couldn’t ignore, the one thing he was seeking in this miserable city above all else, the reason he forced himself to wake each day covered in false smiles and pretenses.

The knights…

He been prowling taverns, arcane clubs, brothels, anywhere where rumor and word were traded for coin, ale or just good company. He’d spent weeks doing this, keeping track of all the mundane and extraordinary bullshyke going on in this craziest of cities, and to tell the truth, it had slowly driven him batty. Other than the problems that plagued Alija and her little clan, there was little else to distract the Ravokian. Now though, he’d finally found a lead he could truly devote himself to, and boy had it payed off.

‘How so?’ a curious observer might find themselves asking, and considering the odd position the mage found himself in that night, he couldn’t rightly blame their ambiguity.

See, at that moment Elias was enjoying the distinct sensation of cold sweat upon a brow that was not his own, of tasting the tremors in a man’s voice, feeling the way he gripped at the pommel of his blade. Curious little things that those without an understanding of auristics would have an impossible time trying to comprehend. To the initiated however, it was all painting a picture of dizzying colors and insight. He was scared, the mage decided, or angry, or a perfect concoction of both, but the aurist couldn’t be certain. At this distance, the concentration required to spy on them was taking its toll, lighting his brain afire with the sweet agony of using such djed at such a distance. Drawing back into the shadows with a sneer, the Ravokian dismantled the magic flooding his senses and continued with his disrobing.

The docks were quiet that night, as they were most nights thanks to the curfew imposed by the blasted monks, but even so, the ten or so men who were also choosing to ignore said rule of inconvenience at that particular bell were far too many for him to take as he was. Instead, he had devised a plan to get around them.

The pier they all meandered about on was lined with stacks of crates and barrels of varying sizes, each one a mystery potentially worth his consideration considering the passengers they would be riding alongside with. That said, he doubted those he hunted would have been so daft as to simply hide what he sought in some old barrel or box. No, he knew the prize he sought would not board until the one who guarded it did.

The ship they were loading it unto however, was one he was already somewhat familiar with thanks to his extensive time in Zeltiva. For the most part, he knew the Svera enjoyed sailing around in their Casinors, usually getting drunk and rowdy just out of reach of the irritable Waveguard, but this merchant vessel was one of their Palivars; big, but sleek and designed more with speed in mind than it was cargo room. With so many men working to load its haul, Elias knew he didn’t have much time to get on board before they were done. It had taken him nearly a season to track the knights, and longer still to discover how they planned to leave Nyka, but now that he finally had them in his sights, all he needed to do now was make sure they didn’t get far. It all hinged on him remaining undetected, which was not something he could manage while the whole crew was wandering about below deck during his break in. It was why he had to strike now, when they were busy on the docks, or risk watching in anguish as his plans sailed away with the morning tide.

Stripping off his clothes, Elias packed them into the small backpack he’d been carrying with him. Within were a pair of new purchases he had made recently, but were made entirely pointless by the predicament he had found himself in. The first had been a exquisite fur coat made of wolf if the merchant was to be believed, but Elias had to admit, the wolf scalp still attached to the thing was doing wonders to help convince him. Along with this was artist’s toolkit, something he had quickly realized was definitely not going to survive the watery trip over to the ship. Even his all but one of his weapons were included, everything that couldn’t weather the sea or be carried with ease had to be put into the bag and tied together. What was left wasn’t much, a fact the pale mage was acutely aware of every time a winter wind came crashing against his bare skin. He girded himself as best he could and began making his way to the shore, daring to first test the waters by dipping a toe in the gently lapping waves.

Like a dolphin jumping for tricks, Elias leapt out of the water an instant later, nearly screaming bloody murder as he did so, such were the freezing temperatures that assaulted him.

“Petch me!” he hissed under his breath, hastily making sure no one on the other end of the dock had heard his girlish squeals.

No one stirred, and the Caldera let out a sigh of relief.

It was easy to forget sometimes how much more different the rest of north was to Ravok. In his home city, the weather was always perfect, even during the winters as Rhysol stood vigilant and stalwart against the ravages of mother Morwen’s frigid fury. Well his god was noticeably absent that night, and the cold cunt’s sting had already left Elias’s entire body feeling numb and frostbitten, his foot even worse so.

With a growl, the mage slipped a dagger between his teeth and slid into the insufferable surf, unwilling to waste anymore of his precious time to something so trivial.

Thankfully, he had his magic to spare him the worst of the journey. It was rather simple application of reimancy that allowed him to launch himself from the shore and glide through the water as if he were some kind of fish. The water around him threw itself aside at his approach, and the res made bubbles at his feet propelled him forward with even greater haste. It was necessary given the cold he was suffering, and luckily he made it to the vessel within less than a chime or two.

It took a tick or two to stave of his shivering just long enough to find the anchor, but before long Elias was hauling himself up its metallic length as gracelessly as possible. Pulling his near naked body over the lip of the bow, he was lucky no one lingered on his side of the deck. Well, lucky, and blessed with the gift of auristic insight.

Once onboard, the Ravokian had his first clear look at the vessel. The Sverfa design and craftsmanship were there, but it was well aged and far past its prime, though any proud Zeltivan he’d met would never admit as much, so attached to their damn ships were they.

The impromptu examination had to be put on the hold as the sound of distant voices reached his ears. Dropping even deeper into his crouch, he made his way to the closest cover he could find; the mast of the ship. Elias quickly found the source of the mutterings as he spotted a pair of men looking out over the water. One murmured softly to the other, both relaxed in the late night mists, the smoke and sickly sweet stench of their pipes mixing with the disconcerting Nykan fog. Sure, it had helped conceal him up until now, but Elias had quickly grown to become wary of anything that came crawling out of that thing the locals called the aperture, the eerie fog most definitely included.

With the two dock workers distracted with their own conversation, the young man found he had little to wory about from either them or the supernatural weather, and soon turned to leave and find the hold. It was not to be however, as his ears quickly picked up on approaching footsteps. He halted himself, not daring to so much as breath as the steps grew closer and closer. Now normally, in a dire situation like the one he now found himself in, the warrior would have simply rushed the unfortunate sod who happened to be coming this way and sawed half way through his throat before his friend had even noticed something was wrong, but this was neither a normal nor a good day. A dead body would have raised suspicion, driving the knights away and ruining his plans completely. Instead, he had to use other means to dispose of the sailor, and he had just to tool to do it.

Summoning his djed, Elias began to direct it outwards and towards the fast approaching Svefra. As the magic traveled through the thick midnight air, it twisted and warped into something new, something infectious and unbearably interesting. The magic slithered its way into the mind of the man, and immediately the hypnotic flash that told him something had just fallen over the side of the ship shifted his attention to the railing and away from the hidden Ravokian.

Dagger in hand, Elias crept away as quietly as the old creaking deck allowed, diving into the hold as the man was still searching the waters.

The magical sight beyond sight let him know no one else was below deck, to which he responded with a sigh of relief before quickly going to work finding just the right canvas for his latest stroke of artistic impulse. Well, 'no one' wasn’t quite correct, and though the glyph maker didn’t usually enjoy an audience when he drew, this one he would have to tolerate, though not they were introduced as it turned out.

For a long while the two glared at each other, sizing the other up silently, waiting to see what they’d do next. After a long, tense moment, the goat bleated disinterestedly at him and went back to grazing at whatever stuffed its pen, to which Elias replied with a curt nod of mutual understanding.

Close one.

Now, the time had come to carve his glyphs and plant a surprise the knights weren’t soon to forget… Oh, how he couldn't wait to see the look on their faces!


Price CheckFur Coat - 5 GM
Artist's Toolkit - 25 GM
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 18th, 2016, 4:26 am, edited 3 times in total.
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:14 pm

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Bastard!

The anguished roar heralded the release of an arrow over the railing at the man shaped animal, and the squire who had fired it was already preparing a second before the first had even found its mark. One of his crew also joined in, aiming a crossbow he had retrieved from below deck and launching a shaft out of pure hatred if not skill.

Perhaps it was the trickery that had infuriated them so much. Afterall 'that is no beast' as Joran had somberly put it after watching the head of his man come rolling through the sand, and Crassus too could see that truth now for himself. It may have had the head of a wolf and dark hair that enveloped every inch, but there was a man under that bloody, mangled fur. Just a man… a man who had killed his friend.

Gods forgive me, Kain. I should have never sent you out there.

Another shot loosed, another shot missed. The beas- murderer upon the shore merely had to take a step to avoid the arrow as it thudded into a nearby tree. Was he… laughing?

The cloaked figure, as insolently as he had emerged, slithered back into the sheltering umbra of the woods, his cackling mocking the enraged curses and shouts that followed him out of sight and out of range.

Crassus’s mind whirred and planned like a fleeing hummingbird. So many factors were crucial here, and they filled his mind all at once, jostling for room and attention; how many of them were there? Was it just the one? What did he want? This wasn’t some snapped line of rigging, or a busted rudder, those things he could fix in his sleep, but this…

Weiss, enough.

The authoritative voice, the voice he recognized that should have been his, instead snapped him out of his daze and refocused his attention back on the knight sergeant who had spoken. Weiss, the squire who seemed to have taken the death of his comrade the hardest, hesitated, the bow in his white knuckled grip stretched taught between his hands. Crassus could see the boy struggling with the very idea of not doing something to satiate his rage and loss. He knew that feeling all too well.

Get the rest of your gear, were going after him. Varrik, you too.

The other apprentice nodded fervently, dashing below deck without another word, no doubt to his cabin much like Weiss begrudgingly was forced to do as well when he realized his arrows were only being wasted at that point. For all his emotions though, the captain realized with a hint of surprise there was no fear to be found among the tumult of reactions the young knight displayed. In fact, none of their faces betrayed what they must have been feeling, what he knew he and his men were suffering from in drowning waves. Perhaps they simply hid it well under all that knightly discipline, or maybe there was just no room in their hearts for such doubt when it was already so consumed by anger.

He could feel its fiery grip on him tightening even now.

Who is he?” Crassus demanded in a hush toned as he placed a hand on Joran’s shoulder. The taller man studied him for a moment then shook his head. Glancing back at the shore, the knight seemed to be choosing his next words carefully, before eventually giving up in the end and uttering out a pathetic lie. “I don’t know.

You know full well who he is, Joran. We all do."

A woman stepped up to the both of them, a steadiness in her gait and posture that belied her small, demure stature. With short brown hair and eyes that burned fiercely of the same hue, she glared at the knight sergeant with what could be considered barely contained contempt. She was the third and final 'real' knight of the group, and aside from just then, Crassus was certain he hadn’t heard her utter so much as a single peep since she boarded the ship. Always more reserved and quiet than the others, he had almost not recognized her when she appeared, let alone noticed her arrival. It felt as though the girl had actually been hiding from them, or at the very least, hiding something. Needless to say, the Svefra was hardly expecting the decisiveness in which she openly defied her supposed superior, but he made damn sure not to interrupt, especially not when the other two squires had reappeared on the deck ticks later to join them. He had a feeling there were answers to be had here and he definitely wasn’t going to get in the way now.

Ser Moor’s murder in Nyka… and now what has happened to brave ser Tanner. We have been watched and hunted from the shadows since we began this journey, our wing decimated in the pursuit, and yet still I have done everything you’ve ordered of me, but now you expect me to wait behind yet again, even now when our enemy has finally revealed themselves?

The woman, if she was old enough to even be could called that, shot daggers at Joran with impressive menace, and Crassus soon found himself taking a cautious step backwards and out of her line of fire.

I refuse to hide here like some princess to be coddled any longer. You will need my help to bring this wretched fiend down, too much is at risk, too much has been lost!

It exactly because of how much we’ve lost that you will remain, Ciril!” Joran snapped at her, teeth practically bared as he snarled the words. “You think I have not felt their passing as bitterly as you? Not wept for them, as you? They were my men! My brothers! My responsibility, yet they all understood the risks we would face when we passed under those gates and left our home behind.” Joran paused, as if recognizing his control slipping away for the first time, and with only a breath, reorganized himself back into the unshakable leader Crassus had come to know him as.

We were chosen for this mission, sera. All of us, and I refuse to jeopardize all we have sacrificed up until now, not when we are finally so close to returning home. I have my mission, just as you have yours. You will carry it out-"

Ciril’s mouth worked angrily to intervene, but Joran raised his hand, silencing her before she could begin.

That is an order, sera, and not just mine.

Whatever that meant, it appeared to cow the girl into warily relenting, if only after a brief moment of clear internal debate. She turned away, angry and defeated, and resigned herself to leaning on the strange staff she carried around. Crassus looked between the two of them, hungry for more but realizing quite obviously nothing else would come of this confrontation. Sourly, he restrained himself from spitting. He was going to get no more from the two of them, their lips and the truth now shut tight yet again.

Come on! Come on!” Came the crude and embittered growls of Weiss, his newly adorned armor and gear bouncing along with their wearer in frustration. One foot was already on the railing ready to disembark as he impatiently tried to hurry along the others. “We can’t waste time on this. For all we know he could be long gone by now. We must hurry and give chase!

Varrik seemed just as eager despite his best attempt at imitating his master’s stoic nature. Like a child dressing up in his father’s armor, Crassus thought. “Settle your nerves, squire, and remember what it was your master tried to impart upon you. Patience and consideration in all things, even war. Our foe is going nowhere, you can rest assured of that. He means to either wait us out until nightfall when he will be able to attack the ship itself under the cover of darkness, or lure us out headlong and hotheaded into an ambush of his design. I intend to allow for neither.” Another chunk of wisdom, another subordinate subdued under the weight of their own exposed ignorance. Joran had quite the talent for that, the captain noted.

You should know; he’s a mage.

All eyes turned to the girl.

You’re certain?

She nodded.

There was a curse or two from the sailors behind him, and even Weiss muttered something uncouth under his breath. He faltered for some reason when he realized Ciril had heard him and offered a quick and stuttering apology to the female knight who continued undistracted. “I studied the blast that decimated the ship as you asked, Ser Joran. It’s faint, but there was definitely a residue of djed to found. The explosion earlier only served to confirm my suspicions. He’s likely a reimancer who can control fire at the very least. You’ll need to be careful. I can-

Joran’s stern gaze ended that thought before it even had a voice to be heard. It was clear the girl was going nowhere. Gods help us, is she a mage too?

When we attack, we attack as one. We give no chance for him to separate or divide us. He believes those woods to be his greatest tool, instead we will make it his grave.” The sergeant took up his shield, affixed to his arm, and then turned on Crassus. “Captain, I insist you and your men remain aboard the ship. My honor forbids me from seeing any more of you come to harm if I can help it.

The Svefra gnashed his teeth as the arrogance of the words befuddled the very air around him. He seethed at the notion of being talked down to like a damsel in distress. Who the hell was he to tell Captain Petching Crassus he could not step foot on dry land? Who was he to stop him from getting his revenge? He opened his mouth to say as much out loud, but the sailor found the words never came. In their place, something else entirely. “You’re… right, sergeant. Me and my boys aren’t fit for this line of work like you are. We’ll…” He coughed, clearing his throat and sparing a quick glance at the girl and her staff. “We’ll stay here, get to work on repairing the ship as best we can, but we'll need that timber.” He finished awkwardly.

Joran nodded heartily in responce however, then motioned for his soldiers to follow him over the side of the palivar and down unto the beach. Crassus and the crew watched them go, all eyes on the three heroes bravely forging ahead into the unknown, swords and bows drawn. Ciril joined them, worry and frustration in her gaze as she bid silent farewell to her companions. Crassus wished them well, genuinely he did. Hell, he even wished they’d do so well they’d bring the bastard back alive so he could have a go at him himself. Until then though, there was one simple fact whirring around in his head, a truth that he could not shake or fail.

He knew now had to look out for his own above all else.

Ciril noticed his outright staring at that point and shifted uncomfortably under his gaze.

That’s right. Kain wasn’t here anymore to help guide him. Like a ship without its steering main, it was just the captain now, and a captain’s duty was to look out for his own... above all else.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 21st, 2016, 10:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:15 pm

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Elias cooed giddily to himself, goaded by the delicious thrill of uncertainty, the whiff of impending mortal possibility. It was enough to bring the first real smile to his scarred face in… well he couldn’t even remember how long it had been. This wasn’t the city though; no more falsehoods and facades to stave off suspicious eyes out here, just him, his god… and them.

Armored feet began to splash down into the waves, one-two-three sets in all, with the most heavily armored among them leading the way while the rest remained where they were, safe and sound upon their sundered pyre of floundering sails.

All eyes were fixed on the forest as the three men trooped ashore for their second sortie with destiny.

Elias slipped from cover to cover as they moved closer, the north’s dreary domain veiling his movements, his enemies still too far to make him out. But they were coming, there was no doubt about it, and he wanted -needed- to be ready.

Rhysol help him, the excitement was almost too much to bear!

It had been all the waiting, he realized now. All the buildup and unrelenting suspense over the decades, that was why he was so hysterical with enthusiasm and nerve wracking apprehension. All the teachings and preachings and promises, they had all brought him here, to this horrifically momentous moment in his life. There they petching were, the knights of Syliras in all their bristling pomp and self-righteous fervor. Even the dazzling steel coffins they strode about in were just as he had imagined!

And there he was, the son of Ravok standing defiant in their path…

Finally.

Finally a chance to play his part in the ancient feud between the two greatest powers of Mizahar. The powers that one day promised to shape the entire world in their image, if only one could utterly annihilate the other as they had been trying to do since their inceptions.

He hoped his lord was watching him, studying his conviction and dedication. He needed him to know how much he wanted to this, how much he had done to make this a reality. He was loyal, by the Voice he swore he was loyal, but now he finally held in his hands an opportunity to prove it to all those who still questioned him. To those who had sent him out here to die.

Not today! No, someone else was going to take that role now.

The biggest of them, the one with the full plate of Syliran armor on, that had to be Joran. He was just as Ser Moor’s journal had described; Large, imposing, and entirely incorruptible if his friend’s written musings were to be believed. Neither of other two wore as much armor as their superior however, just a pair of shiny cuirasses and a mixing of leather and chainmail to make up the difference. That must have meant those were squires then, a high probability considering the talent of the man whose severed head he had gifted them with earlier.

Now he had been a tough one, much to the Caldera’s mutual chagrin and surprise. Not only surviving the ambush -unlike his four armed friend- but going so far as to stave off the frenzied assault that had immediately followed. Truly a skilled swordsman that bald bastard had turned out to be, yet as his magic instructors had been so keen to point out once upon a time, it didn’t matter how finely honed your craft was, a fireball to chest stops even the best of men dead in their tracks. Regardless, it had been a humbling, if not brief experience, and Elias vowed to learn from it and not underestimate the next one.

That only left Varrik and Weiss then, but which was which? Young, impressionable and eager to prove themselves, the journal Elias had smartly swiped off the giant’s corpse had proven invaluable in hunting down his fellow knights, and the Caldera had often found himself turning to its unwilling insight to aid him in deciding his next course of action, yet in this simple matter, of all things, it simply refused to relinquish any more of its savory details to him. Left with little other choice, he was forced to decide for himself; The lad with the messy mop of black upon his dome and bow held steadily in his grip, he would be Varrik. The other one with his golden hair tied messily into a pony tail and the bandoliers filled to the brim with throwing knives… he would be Weiss from now on. He liked that one in particular, the way his face was all scrunched up in barely restrained rage, it let Elias know he could count on him to make the first mistake.

Until that moment came however, they needed the timber; that was all that mattered, and going back to that blood spattered clearing was of no consequence to him. In fact, he was looking forward to it. Every artist needed a harsh critique after all.

Anything?

The sound of another’s voice brought his advance an abrupt halt, his footfalls carefully hushed and even more cautious not to track through the scatterings of snow lest the damnable crunch reveal his distant presence.

Nothing. Just the poor quartermaster and…

Tanner. Elias giggled.

They were quiet for a while after that, careful to scan every inch of their wretched surroundings for any sign of the quarry that eluded them. The mage wasn’t sure if he had left anything to find, but it would certainly make things a bit more interesting had he done so. A lesson for next time he mentally noted.

"You done yet?"

"Just gimme a tick!"

Varrik swallowed hard, his fingers tirelessly working at a task he was obscenely unfamiliar with. Tying knots and hauling lumber must have been a peasant’s job to him, wholly unfit for a man of his high repute and bumbling hands. Eventually though, and under the watchful protection of his peers, he finished his miserable mission, grunting back to his feet, face raw and tingling. The other two let out an almost audible sigh of relief, their guards lowering just a hair.

...And there it was.

Elias had just found his invitation to strike.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 18th, 2016, 2:55 am, edited 2 times in total.
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:15 pm

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It was a glimmer at first, the merest flash of sun on steel, and Joran’s mouth opened to cry out as the sound of a tiny twang from far away echoed throughout the woods. The flash became a streak as Varrik fell backwards with an arrow punched through his gut.

"Varrik!"

Weiss and Joran dropped to their knees in an instant, scrambling away from the shrieking man as he began to roll around in the mud. Blood and curses were spewed in equal measure as he squealed, but the knight sergeant was already reacting, the veteran warrior gesturing to a point in the forest while the other took turns either muttering some oath under his breath or launching a throwing dagger at any movement he thought he saw amongst the trees, or at the branches in the breeze, anything-

"Weiss? Weiss?!" Varrik cried out, his labors and weapon forgotten. He was trying in vain to pull the shot out with his hands, but each attempt only ended with another agonized howl as the fletching slipped through his red and weakening grip.

"Leave it be, Varrik!"

"Oh Gods!"

Don’t move, squire!

"For petch sake, it went- it went under plate! It went under the damn plate!"

Each word was a strained, breathless cry from the tormented squire as he fumbled helplessly with the arrow head embedded inside him. Elias looked on in delight, glad someone was actually taking notice of how superb a shot that had been. The arm pits, the waist, hips, crotch and knees, those were all the sweet spots he had been taught to target on an armored foe, but even as good as he was with a bow, there was no way his hands were steady enough to find that kind of mark from this range. Thankfully he wasn’t using just his hands.

Res slithered from his palms as he pulled taut the string of his weapon a second time, his sights set on Joran this round as the magic seeped unto the arrow itself.

The Syliran wisely ignored the pleas of his soldier, crouching behind the fallen trees brought low by the sailors earlier as his bright, quick eyes went on alert for anything... but there was nothing. No sign. The mage gave them none and Elias could hear Joran growl in frustration. To him, the archer had taken his shot and vanished back to cover without so much a flicker of a lead, robbing him of another of his precious knights, buying himself time, and hiding like a-

"Coward!"

Elias heard the word and he felt himself twitch involuntarily. He peered through a screen of brown leaves at ground level and saw Weiss there with his bright yellow hair bobbing in the distance, shouting the word over and over. The Caldera’s brow furrowed, pride urging him rise and engage.

No. That's what they want, but this isn’t about what they want, not anymore. Your plan, your play. This is just the kind of desperation you were hoping for.

Weiss, for the love of god help me!

The blade wielding squire shifted, his brilliant hair rising just enough to at last present the archer with his target.

Do not move, Squire!

…and like that it was gone.

Elias hissed in frustration and loosed his shot in the other direction. The arrow head smashed into the bark mere inches from Joran’s face, the wind of his reimancy carrying it through the air and correcting its trajectory even yards after he had fired it. In his haste, the Caldera realized too late he had given the sergeant a moment of reprieve and the blasted knight took advantage of it without a moment’s hesitation, diving from his cover and retrieving the bow and quiver discarded by Varrik. Then he moved to retrieve the boy himself, hands outstretched to one another in a desperate bid to grab hold and drag him back to safety.

That hope ended the tick Elias put another air guided arrow through the squire’s hand.

Cue another bout of screaming.

Joran, comprehending the futility in his rescue attempt, barely managed to avoid disaster himself as another shot bounced off his chest plate dangerously close to his exposed throat. By then he had dived back behind his cover and out of sight.

This knight was proving quite the annoyance.

Never the less, Elias had them where he wanted them. Helpless, and trapped, together they waited and listened to the wails of dear ser Varrik until the shrieking inevitably turned to coughs and gurgles. It wasn’t like they were the only ones suffering out here though. Elias’s new coat was practically ruined with all the mud and vileness now clinging to it. He had just bought that damn things and now gods alone knew how much it was going to cost him to get it mended and cleaned.

Keeping his belly to the dirt, the Ravokian sighed to himself and continued crawling sideways, staying under the cover of the shrubs, shifting position as retaliatory shots flew overhead and Varrik’s pleas became choked with tears. The boy's screaming eventually stopped, evolving into rasping rote of breathing that cut like a rusty saw until even that too faded away altogether.

He’s dead." A small, disbelieving voice said, then rose with the same unchecked fury as he had demonstrated before, heedless and uncaring of the monster he knew was watching him. "You killed him! You petching bastard! You petching killed him!"

"Boy, get down!" Joran snarled, peering over the timber with one eye while keeping the other on the distraught squire. "Don’t let him lure-"

"You’ll pay for this!" Weiss roared, marching towards the uncaring tree line. "I’ll make you petching pay!"

Elias sprang into a crouch, feet apart, fresh arrow notched, eager for the next kill, but found himself floundering at its approach. Damn it! It was an impossible bloody angle. Weiss was stomping towards where he had been, but where he was now was nearly twenty or so yards to the right of that. In an unfortunate twist of irony, it was the hunter’s turn to be hampered by his chosen hunting grounds. He needed to move, but not get caught by one of Joran’s trained shots as he did so. Think! Think! Think!

"Weiss, stop! Get down, damn it!"

But the boy wasn’t listening, no, his eyes were fixated on a sudden shadow passing through his periphery. From his hands sprang six of his daggers, each one a serrated and devilish design aimed to skew and scour. He launched every one of them in a single, practiced stroke, and every single one hit their mark dead on with an unsettling thud.

The lifeless carcass of the black fur coat stood there looking back at him, thoroughly defeated and pinned to the tree like an effigy to Weiss's downfall as he realized the trap he had just fallen into.

Another crunch of leaves ushered the loosing of a shaft from somewhere to Weiss’s right, and he turned just in time to see another arrow hurtling towards him. A blink's worth of movement topped with a merciless steel head, and all of it dedicated just for him. There was no way he could get out of the way before- No petching way!

Joran’s massive frame crashed into the boy and brought him to ground, flattening the squire as the shot missed wide above their heads.

Petch!” This time it was Elias’s temper that got the better of him.

"There! Move!"

Elias was already running by the time the sergeant opened fire. He jumped behind the nearest tree and felt a thud fractions of a tick later, then another and another still. It must have been Weiss joining in. He waited for two more, giving him a chance to move, then leapt out from behind his bulwark of bark, aiming through the tangle of foliage only to lock eyes with Joran himself, the knight notching a fresh arrow and bringing his weapon to bear.

A broken tick of recognition passed between the two warriors in that perilous moment. Now Joran’s finally had a face to put to his enemy, but looking back at him the knight saw blue eyes, wild and wide and glaring balefully out from beneath a thick layer of dirt and filth. What seemed to catch him to most off guard however, was the wicked smile behind it all.

The two fired at once.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on September 9th, 2016, 12:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:16 pm

Image
He felt it tear through the leather first, like an incessant finger pushing through water. Then for an impossibly concise moment, the feeble cloth beneath that. The flesh and muscle followed shortly after, as did his scream.

Hunter turned to hunted with all the foul swiftness and shock such upsets always fell upon men in struggles like this. In the handful of ticks it took Elias to tumble and stumble his way to the ground, an arrow newly sprouted from his shoulder, he had lost his bow, quiver and half his wits.

What remained enabled him to keep track of his own shot, and he watched in dismay as it bounced harmlessly off the armor of Joran’s chest plate, only an inch or so away from where the arm met the shoulder and his attack would have mattered. It was only by the grace of Rhysol was the man sent collapsing backwards by the impact, his feet caught up in the bramble and weeds of the forest floor. Had it not tangled him as it did, Joran would have been upon Elias before the mage had even a chance to free his sword.

As fate would have it however, there came good ol’ Weiss, skidding into Joran’s place, hands brimming with daggers and vengeance in his eyes.

Elias couldn't remember the last time he had honestly and truly run from someone before, yet wounded, disoriented, and barely upright, he was in no condition to take the squire head on, so… he ran.

Behind him he heard the Syliran crashing through the undergrowth in hot pursuit, snapping limbs and twigs and cursing in a language he wasn’t familiar with.

In the distance; the cries of Joran hopelessly trying to warn his squire.

I have to retrea- no, attack in the opposite direction. Pull him deeper into the woods until I can get steel in my hands and some sense back in my head.

Weiss broke through yet another thick, biting rank of shrubbery and likely saw a pair of black clad legs scrambling behind a fallen tree. He flung himself after his quarry without pause, throwing aside the daggers in favor of a pair of short swords strapped to his back “Face me!" He screamed in common, heedless of his stumbling through the foliage on unsteady feet. “Coward! You will know justice!

With one last desperate dash forward, the Ravokian found himself in a clearing where his blade would finally be free to swing unimpeded. Before anything else could be done however, the Caldera spat and braced himself, stifling another scream as he hastily snapped the arrow shaft poking out of his shoulder in half and flung it aside with a few heated words hissed through clenched teeth. He knew this could not be allowed to go on forever, he needed to end it quick before his arm became completely useless.

The foliage before him erupted just as he jerked free his longsword and slashed madly at the charging figure. Weiss was forced to skid almost to a stop, swaying to narrowly avoid the blade thrusted at his throat, but fear was clearly no obstacle to him now, his thoughts clouded with rage and hatred as they egged him forward unrelentingly. The squire flung himself into the fray, swords stabbing with wild and deadly precision, forcing Elias back and further back still until-

Thunk!

The sound was like beautiful music to the mage’s ears. It was the sound a sword made as it buried itself in the trunk of a tree Elias’s swaying and dodging had led them to. It was an even bigger surprise to Weiss, who, locking gazes with a smirking Caldera, failed to notice the Ravokian’s blade rocketing upwards towards his exposed gut.

Blade met bone as the long sword drove home, deep and merciless in its ferocious ascent through the unsuspecting squire.

Weiss breathed, or at least tried to. A red cloud was still thick around him, but fading like fleeting fog fled before the morning sun. Another breath, this one with even less success than the last. Elias watched him quickly begin to fade, blood filling his throat, suffocating whatever his final words might have been for his killer in a tepid spray of crimson.

It was a moment of sheer, poignant victory for the mage, yet… Elias found his resolve softening as he watched a fear he knew all too well take hold of the young squire’s eyes. He was a man who knew he was going to die. It was no longer some distant thing now, to be planned for or left unconsidered amidst the ignorance of youth. It had arrived, and he was not ready.

The Caldera could feel himself back in Ravok, staring into Caiden’s dying gaze all over again.

"I-"

Elias twisted the blade and Varrik's body spasmed from tip to toes. Pain. That had been his reward for faltering the first time. Pain and suffering the likes of which no man had any right to know, let alone survive through. Elias swore he would never feel that again, never hesitate again, never question the will of his faith or give his torturers another reason to drag him back into those dark depths. It was either them or him, because he was loyal! “I’m loyal!” He reminded Weiss, his voice hoarse and pleading, but the boy was elsewhere at that point, uncaring for his murderer’s patheticness. His body started to tremble and as he slid down to the floor, Elias quietly descended with him. The ache and stinging agony in his arm was numbed for a moment as he watched the life of his sworn enemy crumble and turn to ash within his hands.

I’m loyal…

Only when his stare became as glassy as stone and his body limp did Elias let him fall to the ground with a crinkle of crushed leaves.

No time to wait. No time to stop. There is more to be-

"No…

Shyke.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 18th, 2016, 3:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:17 pm

Image
Something glinted amid the brown and white backdrop, fast and sharp and incoming. Elias dropped back down to the ground, grunting as the arrow head continued to work its evil will upon in his shoulder as yet another thudded into the poor, maligned tree Weiss’s short sword still clung to. Joran stepped into the clearing, spent bow in hand but his focus solely on the fallen boy Elias had only just ticks ago stolen from him.

He didn’t deserve this.” The sergeant croaked, discarding the bow without tearing his gaze off of Weiss’s unmoving corpse. “None of them did.

Elias swallowed and willed himself back to his feet. This wasn’t going to be easy, and he knew it. He needed to think, fast.

"They were my brothers. My responsibility." Joran hissed, glistening sword in hand as he slowly peeled it from its sheath. His vengeful watch fell on the stryfer, and Elias found himself taking an instinctual step back. “It’s like you said,” The young man began, nervously licking his lips in a piss poor demonstration of bravado. “They all understood the risks they would face when they rode under those gates.

The shock on Joran’s face was satisfying, but short lived. “How did-

It’s like she said; mage.

Auristics had its uses, spying on the words and feelings of your prey was just one among many. In fact, with that knowledge alone he could feel his confidence returning in trickles now. He was indeed a petching mage! Sure he had never faced someone of such rank or status one on one before, but he had brought down bigger and better foes in the past thanks to his arcane arts. There was more to him than just sword and wit, as this knight would soon discover that the hard way.

You’re Ravokian.” Joran said, the words almost an accusation as the two began to circle one another amidst the trees. Now it was Elias’s turn to be surprised, though in hindsight, like him, Joran had likely been trained to know his enemy. Perhaps it was the slight accent, or the uniqueness in which the Vitrax had taught him how to hold his sword or strike his stance. Regardless, Elias decided he would entertain the revelation for the time being, if for no other reason to buy himself some time.

Who else would go to such lengths to pursue you, Syliran.” The reimancer chuckled. Joran was less than amused. “You know, it’s funny. Up until the night I left your pal ser Moors hanging from that bridge, I don’t think I’d ever truly met an ‘honorable knight of Syliras’ before. Is it the same for you? Am I your... first, ser Joran?

The trees stood as silent witness to the mockery, watching and patiently waiting as two men who could no more hate each other than ice hated fired, shared an odd tryst amidst the midwinter chill.

Silence, cur!

Perhaps tryst was too strong a word for it.

Ser Tanner, Varrik, even poor Weiss over there, this has all been very enlightening.

I said shut up! They were better men than you, lapdog. They believed in something bigger than themselves, fought for something they knew was worth fighting for.

You think I don’t!” Elias snapped, throwing his blade arm higher as he abruptly switched stances. The knight immediately countered, adopting a new form to counter his own. ShykeWere all just puppets to our cause, dear knight, which makes you and I not so different after all.Oooh, he didn’t like that.

Joran’s face contorted into a mask of hatred, and Elias readied himself to counter the attack he was sure was coming. It was his best chance of ending their bout quickly and cleanly if he could get the man to strike first and foolishly, but no attack ever came. Instead, it was just more questions. “How long have your masters known about our mission? How did they learn of the artifact?

The mage paused mid stride, eyes widening as his stance all but came unraveled. He began to laugh. “Your mission?” The cackling overtook him, rocking his body even as he raised a bloodied hand cup his face and stymy the unbridled burst of mirth. Oh, this was fantastic! Elias mused, struggling to regain his posture. “We’ve been hunting them since before you even thought to step foot outside your paradise! You don’t even know how many there are, do you? What they do? How about where they come from?” He wiped a tear from his eye and shook his head in pity for the poor knight sergeant. It was such a pleasantly unexpected turn of events to finally be the man in the room who wasn’t completely ignorant of all that was going on around him. That said, it wasn’t as if Elias really had all the answers either, but still enjoyed watching the flood of emotions that washed over Joran’s face as the words hit him. He enjoyed even more watching as the man tried in vain to contain them all behind his quickly shattering mask of tranquility. “You don’t even know what you got your men massacred for. Fool! Perhaps your pet mage knows more than she’s letting on? You know, I think I’ll go visit her next, it’ll be such-"

Joran charged, a roar on his lips as he crashed forward, a mountain of steel and fury.

At last.

Elias swung his blade back into position, forcing himself to ignore the throbbing, snarling burn in his shoulder as the adrenaline began to pump afresh throughout him.

The dagger flew swift and true as lightning from Elias’s fingers first. Plucked from his belt and tossed hastily, had the mage not been taking his time to plan his way through what was about to happen, he would have been lucky if it hadn’t just fumbled out of his pants and unto the floor. The dagger was far from Elias's best weapon, and the throw had been one of desperation, a distraction to which Joran was forced to respond to by swatting it aside with his shield. That left the stryfer the opportunity he needed to dive in, his sword lunging out to deal a deadly blow to his now open opponent.

The bastard met his challenge with his own, parrying the blade strike aside withease and nearly throwing the Caldera to the grown as his lunge failed to connect. He barely managed to roll out of the way of the combination of swipes that followed after him next, dodging and swatting away what he could as he was steadily but surely pushed back. Gods damn it! It was Weiss’s bullshyke all over again, but even worse now. Was everyone better with the petching sword than he!? Despite his apparent time to complain, it was all Elias could do to avoid being skewered like a hog, or bashed to hell by the shield the knight used almost as dangerously as his blade.

He just needed to buy a little more time! Time until the plan he had been enacting since the two began sharing words could come to fruition. Hastened now by his very imminent demise, Elias rushed his hidden arcane workings as fast as humanly possible and made a silent prayer to Rhysol when he finally felt the magic take shape in just the right way. Prepared, he willed all his strength and courage to the forefront and hurled himself back into fight. No longer content with simply surviving the veteran onslaught, Elias countered wildly, riposting and stabbing until Joran was finally forced to relent.

At last, the warriors were on equal ground again, if only briefly. With exhaustion already setting in on his overtaxed sword arm, Elias went for broke, bashing away Joran’s swing and rushing headlong into the man, driving his shoulder hard into the bastard’s chest plate. It caught the knight off guard for barely a tick before he had the wherewithal to bring his shield up hard and thrust it into his idiotic opponent’s vulnerable side. He must have been shocked then, to realize Elias refused to budge even after the blow struck home. In fact, instead of dislodging him, it seemed to serve in locking him in place even tighter as pushed against Joran, denying his shield anymore freedom of movement. At that point, and much to the larger knight's chagrin, the younger fighter focused everything he had on holding at bay the Syliran’s sword with his own, the two struggling with one another like wrestlers in the pit, but without his arms, what did the fool intend to do, right?

Joran's eyes snapped open in utter disbelieving shock as the answer tore into him like lance. His mouthed worked soundlessly, trying to verbalize his surprise, his confusion and agony. Elias grinned with bloody gums, uprooting himself and stepping back to reveal the truth. A shard of ice, forged from his res, plunged deep and mercilessly under the adjoining rivets of Joran’s armor as the knight gnashed his teeth in bewildered revelation.

With but a flick of the mage's hand, the ice began to shudder and jerk savagely within its victim, pulled free at last to unleash a gout of thick blood that came pouring out like a hole in a dam. The knight instinctively threw his hands out to the gaping wound, but within ticks they were soaked, blood slipping and sliding down his arm, flooding across him, splashing back even as he threatened to collapse onto the ground.

Elias didn’t let him go quite that easily.

A gloved hand latched onto the sergeant’s thick iron collar, roughly hauling him back to his knees for one last go at taunting the wretch, but only blank eyes stared back at the Ravokian victor as he glowered down at them, triumphant. That wasn’t going to stop him from enjoying this.

Your knights died for nothing, sergeant! Just like you! Just like that girl will-

He flinched, a splattering of crimson catching him in the face before he could finish. A vile combination of spit and blood and defiance oozed across his face, a final gift from Ser Joran before Dira’s icy clutch dragged him away and his body fell limp to the forest floor.

Elias trembled, a bubbling cauldron of flabbergasted anger and impotent ire. Damn him! Was all his fumbling mind could manage through the rage as he raised his hand to wipe away the mess. Before he could however, he stopped himself and instead decided to leave it where it dried upon his cheeks.

He wanted this ‘Ciril’ to see what was left of her master before she joined him.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 18th, 2016, 4:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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A Red Tide

Postby Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2016, 8:18 pm

Image
Laviku preserve me, let this be the end of it. Let this be the right choice!

Oh shyke, there he is.

Crassus scoured the tree line, anxious beyond reason to behold the face of the man stepping out into the open. He prayed and prayed with all his might, but when his eyes fell upon those that were not Joran’s, he knew that there was truly was no other hope for him and his men.

The tall, pale figure paused against the backdrop of the dark woods, taken aback by what he beheld waiting on the beach for him, and Crassus took small tinge of sick pride at that for some reason. Perhaps it was simply because it was his turn to shock someone for a change. He knew the others wouldn't share his sentiment. The Svefra could feel his men shivering under the cold scanning eyes that befell them, even from so far away. Crassus held his hand out behind his back, reminding them with a simple gesture that they needed to hold their ground. This would be over soon. That had been their promise, their price for agreeing to go along with him.

A moment passed between the uncertain few gathered on the shore, the pale man hesitating at first, his attention shifting from this way to that as he searched the beach. It even looked as if he was smelling the air for something at one point. Maybe he is an animal after all the Captain brooded, his lip twisting itself in instinctual revulsion. As the killer began making his way forward however, he made sure to relieve himself of any outward emotion other than that of pure neutrality, but that became even more of a challenge as the man began to clap.

Red hands dripping with blood came together in lethargic applause, the wet, squelching pops they made sending a rattling wave down his spine with each step closer. He was smiling, Crassus saw, a damned, wretched, abominable smile met for them.

With one final clap, the pale man came to halt a few feet away from them, his features clear as day for all to see in the midday sun. His skin was like that of a ghost’s, sickly white as if he had never known Syna’s touch. Scars raked across almost every inch of his youthful, yet wary face, each one more grizzly that the next, but almost all of them obscured in someway by streaks and flecks of drying blood. His body was covered in leather armor, yet practically drenched in crimson as well, though whether it was his or someone else’s wasn’t quite clear given the broken arrow shaft stabbing out of his shoulder. Crassus knew though, all of them did; if he was here, that meant the knights were still back there, and that was all the details the old sailor required.

The man's smile had only grown since his approach, but there was no true mirth behind the blue, wicked eyes that studied all four of them. It took all the captain had to restrain his hands from moving on their own, every fiber of his being screaming out to reach for his dagger, to attack, to run, to do anything but be here at this bloody moment! He resisted his impulses just as he made sure his men standing behind him resisted theirs. Instead, he met the pale man’s gaze with his own, projecting whatever calmness he had left to give.

When that gaze eventually fell on the fifth among them lying at Crassus’s feet, the false smile grew even wider. “This,” He began, voice casual and almost jovial “is inspired, captain. Truly.” The sailors began to shuffle uneasily as their leader spared a passing glance at the mage girl lying unconscious and face down between them. The welt on the back of her blood stained auburn head had swollen to almost the size of his fist by now, and didn’t seem like it had any intention on stopping. “Tell me, when did know you’d have to betray her to save yourselves? Whose daring idea was it?

Crassus bit his lip, his beard rustling as he formulated the words that dizzied and eluded him. Gods damn it, he felt as dull headed as a school boy on his first date, why couldn’t he think straight!? “It was hers.” He finally managed, motioning to the unmoving knight. “She proposed we set a trap for you once she realized the fight had gone south for her people. She wished us to tie her up and deliver her to you as a peace offering. When you grew close enough, we would all attack.

Yet you saw through the irrationality of such a plan and went about concocting your own.” The stranger murmured, a single stained finger tapping the side of his chin as he considered Crassus as one might consider a parakeet in its gilded cage. The captain forced himself to nod.

I’ve made my living on knowing when to make a deal, and recognizing when they've gone sour. She was too green, too hotheaded. She would have gotten my men killed for a fight-

For a fight that wasn’t yours, in war they had no right getting you caught up in. I know, captain, I know.

Crassus faltered, his eyes going wide for a tick before he managed to bring them back under control. How did he know he was going to say that? It was practically word for word! Bloody petching mages! Laviku, I beseech thee, see your sorry sons through this crisis, I beg of you…

You were right. It wouldn’t have worked.” The bloodied man continued as he lowered himself with a groan. Squatting, his finger had begun to play with the mage’s hair, toying idly with the matted locks as he examined his meal. “You see I would have been able to tell if she were awake or not. The way she’s breathing now, the manner in which her thoughts and feelings all remain placid and hushed despite the fact that the man who killed all of her friends is mere inches away… I can tell these things, just like I can tell you how many swords and crossbows you’ve buried in the sand around us just in case something went wrong, or you saw your opportunity to strike.

The crew tensed, and Crassus struck out with his hand to stop one from reaching for his revealed plot, the man just barely getting to the hilt of his blade under the sand before his captain wrenched him back up and shoved him back into the others. “I said on my order only!” He snarled, as their restless nerves and fears wafted over him like palpable wave. Their attentions were divided from staring bug eyed at him, to staring at their tormentor, but when the Sverfa turned around half expecting a dagger in back for his trouble, he instead found the pale man still sitting in the sand, fingers still at work twiddling with his prize.

I-

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I’m offended or anything so crass as that. In fact, I’m impressed. Your wherewithal to understand the situation and your will to protect your own no matter what... well, its left me in quite the merry mood, despite our… getting off on the wrong foot earlier.

Crassus could feel his hands tightening into fists, yet almost as soon as the picture of Kain face came flying back into his mind, it faded, as if a fog had overtaken his thoughts. Ugh, what’s wrong with me?I don’t… want your praise.” He stammered, frustrated. “I just want your word. Say you’ll leave my crew out of this accursed affair and let us be on our way without any more interference. You’ve gotten what you wanted.” He went on, his words becoming more and more determined as he found his pace again. He spun around and grabbed a satchel from one the men behind him, throwing it unceremoniously at the murderer’s feet. “We even ransacked their rooms and brought you the thing she was trying to hide. I assume that’s what this is all about, right? That bloody box. I mean I’m no mage, but the thing practically hums with mystical bullshyke.

Cold eyes eyes narrowed suddenly as the bag landed within his reach, and with a suspicious eagerness that let Crassus knew he had hit the nail on the head, the bastard practically jumped on the thing, rummaging through the sack until he pulled free the ornate metal container within. Baroque and beautiful markings ran across every inch of the golden case, and it reminded the old captain of a jewelry box, only bigger. He had even considered keeping it to himself until he realized nothing he did could put a dent in the blasted thing, let alone open it. It was only after a few chimes did he realize he was beginning to hear noises. A few chimes later and he realized they were coming from the box itself. That had been enough for him to know he had found the source of all this mayhem, and that he would want no part in it, the coin he could get for such a prize be damned.

The bloodied warrior on the other hand lifted the box up to the sky as if studying a diamond for impurities. He ‘hmmm’d’ and ‘mmmm’d’ at it for a while before Crassus cleared his throat impatiently and the son of whore's lofty interest descended upon the crew of the Theodosia once more.

“Yes, they all do that after a while. It’s fascinating really. This one though, is particularly intriguing. I’ve never seen a shield quite like this, but now I know why I could never quite latch onto your trail… and why it took you so long to find it in the first place.” He answered, though his meaningless revelation was directed at the unconscious girl upon the sand of all people.

The Sverfa could feel himself losing it, his annoyance rising to the same boiling point it had when he’d butted heads with Joran earlier this morning. “I don’t care about any of that.” He hissed, barely controlling the anger in his tone. “You’ve got your prize, whatever it is, now leave us out of it.

The knight slayer peeked out from behind his studies of the box, as if noticing all of them still standing there was a surprise to him. “Oh, of course, Captain. You and yours are free to go. I promise you’ll have no more to worry from me.” He chimed, placing the strange box back in the sack where it had come from. Crassus felt himself let loose a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding all this time, but felt his throat catch all over again as a sudden cold came over him.

The pale man grinned at them one last time as the sound of ice cracking began to fill the air.

Rest assured, I’m a man of my word.


Some Explanation.Since its done from the captain's perspective, its not very clear, but Elias is heavily influencing and interfering with his thoughts via hypnotism, hence the hard time he has even speaking at the beginning.]
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 18th, 2016, 8:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Elias Caldera
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