Solo Shapes in the Fog, Part I

Cold mists. Dark shadows. A distant plea for help.

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This shining population center is considered the jewel of The Sylira Region. Home of the vast majority of Mizahar's population, Syliras is nestled in a quiet, sprawling valley on the shores of the Suvan Sea. [Lore]

Shapes in the Fog, Part I

Postby Erick Barnett on October 2nd, 2016, 8:04 am

22nd of Fall, 516AV
Syliras Region, North Kabrin Road, Approximately 20 Miles outside Stormhoid
Morning

The mists rolled between the thick trunks of the Bronze Woods like spirits, drifting lazily with the subtle shifts of the northern winds. Usually, the forests this time of year were a comforting sight - or at the very least, a breathtaking one. The touches of yellow, red and orange across the leaves mixed with the early morning beams would cast a luminous, almost golden halo across the forest canopy as it broke through. From the top of the city walls, it was a vast field of pure light, like Priskill herself smiling upon the denizens of the city.

But there was no light to be found here. Erick wasn’t even totally sure if it was morning. The fog had rolled in weeks prior, shortly after summer had ended, and hadn’t abated yet. It choked the flow of light from the heavens, like so much debris strangling the the life out of a creek. All that was left was a vast, unsettling grey expanse in nearly every direction, shifting and swirling against the forest floor like smoke. The horse let out a disturbed whine, pausing momentarily, and Erick leaned in, gently resting his hand on the beast's mane. “Easy there, girl.” The young squire did his best to sound reassuring, but it was difficult. Each tree that lingered just at the edge of sight, between the small circle of space in which the fog would allow him to see and the vast grey void just beyond, shuddered and twitched like an aberrant shadow. Out of the corner of his eyes Erick could see figures hiding in the underbrush, peering at him from the tree canopy, but whenever he snapped his head around to look, there was nothing there except the unyielding emptiness.

Closing his eyes, he let his head hang limply over the reins as he began to mumble to himself:

”Lady Priskill, Lady Priskill, lend me your light,
So though the darkness may seem unyielding,
I will not fear this night.”


His eyes slowly opened, resting naturally on the glowing vortex emblazoned on the back of his palm. He flexed the hand a few times, before raising it up ahead, A long beam of focused light erupting from his palm, and he meticulously combed back and forth along the visible treeline with it. It was bad enough he had neither seen nor heard any animals since leaving north on the Kabrin, but even more unnerving, it seemed as if the insects themselves had grown silent. If this fog hadn’t been going on as long as it had, Erick would be suspicious that he had ridden straight into a dream. Or else a nightmare.

He shook the thought from his head, gripped tightly onto the reins, and gently nudged the horse forward. Typically making the trip north and south along the Kabrin to restock the firewood in the safehouses that the Knights maintained was a task that Erick relished, particularly as winter began to approach. Recently, though, he loathed to leave the city. He felt sympathy for the hunters and others who earned their keep every day outside the walls, now forced to brave the mists in addition to the all the danger that had always been associated with the untamed wilds of Mizahar.
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Erick Barnett
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Shapes in the Fog, Part I

Postby Erick Barnett on October 2nd, 2016, 8:11 am

It was difficult to be certain, but Erick eventually could make out the outline of one of the safe houses just up the bend. Unimpressive wood shacks, containing little more than a cot, a hearth, and thanks to Erick and the others within the Knighthood, usually a small stockpile of firewood. Yet they they had saved many a traveller’s life during their journey to the city itself, particularly as the days grew shorter and the winds colder.

Erick worked quickly after he dismounted, tying the horse to the post just outside the small hut and beginning to walk around it’s perimeter. Though the occasional vandal could make the maintenance of these safe posts something of a hassle, generally the most one had to do was restock the firewood. Satisfied that the walls still held, Erick momentarily peeked his head inside, peering around. Plenty of tinder here. A small wave of relief washed over Erick. Stomping around the woods to gather up kindling was just about the last thing he wanted to do right now. He wondered if his luck would hold the entire way up the road. Given how many of these places he had to check, he thought it unlikely.

He untied the horse, and pulled himself up on her back again, looping his boots into the stirrups and tugging on the reins to re-align the horse with the road. Again the beast seemed to hesitate, letting out a concerned sputter as he tried to spur the animal forward.

Leaning forward in the saddle to pat her on the head, he kept his voice low and as soothing as he could manage. ”Hey… I know, I know. I don’t like it any more than you do. But the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can head back to Stormhold.” Reluctantly, the horse began forward again as he tapped the heels of his boots against her flanks. Erick peered outward into the fog , holding his gnosis up yet again to cast a wary light at the shifting shapes that seemed to form and rapidly dissipate all around him in the distant mists. His thoughts returned, as they often did when he was on patrol alone, to Priskill.

Lady Priskill, Lady Priskill, lend me your light,
So though the darkness may seem unyielding,
I will not fear this night.

Lord Aquiras, Lord Aquiras, though you may slumber evermore,
I know you yet watch over my travels,
Guiding me toward the door.


Priskil had once told him she listened to every prayer she ever received. Erick still found himself skeptical of that at times, but spoke them anyways. At least once a day, and once each night before he slept. On days like this though, when the loneliness of the wilderness seemed almost oppressive, he needed them more than ever. Everytime he rode along the Kabrin, he felt a closeness with Priskill, remembering the first time they had met face to face. Yet here and now, with even the light from his Gnosis being strangled by the fog, he felt more isolated than he had in a long, long time.
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Shapes in the Fog, Part I

Postby Erick Barnett on October 2nd, 2016, 8:20 am

He suddenly jerked his head up, his reverie snapped by a sharp scream that tore through the absolute silence of the woods. He pulled on the horse's reins, and paused a moment, lifting his head up to listen. His eyes had been trying their damnedest to convince him that monsters had been trailing him since he left the city, and so he was somewhat skeptical on whether he had heard… anything.

That is, he was, until he heard it again. This time, more than just a scream.

”HELP ME!!! SOMEBODY, PLEASE!!!”

Erick felt ice in his veins. A girls voice. It emanated from somewhere far off the road, wrapped up in the thick sheets of haze. Erick sat there a moment, totally still, a dumbfounded look on his face. The thought of abandoning the road, of wandering into the woods in these conditions was the very essence of nightmares. Going at full gallop, this terribly visibility made him easy target for an ambush.Even if he wasn’t ambushed, finding the road again would be a battle. Yet, duty demanded that he ride toward whomever it was. He knew that’s what a Knight would do. What Sera Goldmane would do. It’s what he wanted to do. What his brain was screaming loudly at his hands and feet to do.

Yet there he sat in the saddle, horse motionless on the road, hands softly trembling on the reins. This isn’t right. This was not the first time Erick had patrolled through fog. He had endured patrols through rains and storms alike relatively unshaken. This smog was something else entirely. It was oppressive. It covered the skin like a blanket, made each breath feel heavy and labored. Just the sight of it, even from indoors, had filled Erick with unease the night it had rolled in over the city. But it was still just mist. It didn’t seem rational that it could have this kind of a hold over him.

Another scream. Fainter, which either meant the woman was growing weaker or farther away. But it was even more desperate than the last. ”Petching hai… YA!” With a sudden tug on the reins and a snap of his heels, the horse flew into the woods. The near total stillness of the forest was broken by the beating of the mare's hooves, like a wardrum signaling his approach to any and all who might be awaiting him in the deep gray haze.

Trees whipped by him like black lines inked against the murky backdrop, the vibrancy of their fall colors washed out by the fog so much that they blended into an achromatic blur as he rushed past. With one hand on the reins to keep the beast steady as she went, he lifted his right hand up, and once again began to cast a light into the forest, mostly to try and lessen the likelihood of running smack-dab into something at full gallop.But it was like lighting a single candle in the void, as the further from the road Erick delved, the thicker the tree canopy became, until shadows consumed nearly everything around him. Every now and then as he rode he passed small breaks in the tree canopy which allowed small tendrils of light to filter through, which mixed with the mists to create small pillars of swirling grey miasma.
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Shapes in the Fog, Part I

Postby Erick Barnett on October 2nd, 2016, 8:28 am

”Hello?!” His throat felt tight, but he yelled as loud as his voice could allow. ”Please, if you can hear me, call out again!”

A moments pause, and then he heard it; It was the faintest whisper when compared to the thunderous beat of hooves beneath him. ”Yes! Yes I’m here! Please, I don’t know where I am!”

Erick pulled on the reins to adjust his trajectory toward the sound, continuing at a lighter gallop now, partially for the horses sake. The forest was becoming so dense here that for a rider of as limited skill as he was, going at breakneck speeds would likely result in just that - a broken neck, for him and the animal. That, and the mare was seeming to grow more and more anxious the further in they went. Erick couldn’t blame her. The dark outlines of tree branches reached and clawed at them from his peripherals. Exposed knurls of twisted roots occasionally made the horse stop and rear up, nearly throwing Erick straight to the ground - and if he had been wearing his armor, the animal likely would have.

Still scanning back and forth in front of him with the light that shone from his hand, he came to a dead stop. The beam of light had landed on the faint outline of what looked to be a person, huddled against a nearby tree. Instinctively he felt the urge to reach for his sword, but instead called out with the most confident voice he could muster. ”Hello? Is anybody there?”

The figure slowly crept forward toward the light, until Erick at last could begin to make out details. She was young, maybe fifteen or so, with curly red hair and a fair complexion. The tears streaming down her face streaked the dirt that caked her nearly from head to toe, and the moment she spotted Erick she ran toward him, letting out a cry as she stumbled and fell to her knees by the horses hooves.

”Gods…. Please sir, help me… I….” It was all she managed to get out before she doubled over, her body shuddering with the force of her anguished sobbing.

Erick gently lowered himself from the saddle, and took a knee beside her. He pulled his black cloak off and wrapped it around her, helping her up to a sitting position as her body was wracked with sobs. ”You’re not alone now. It’s going to be alright.”

What she did next surprised Erick. With both hands dug tightly into his shirt, she pulled him close, staring him dead in the eyes as she spoke in a strained voice. ”No. It’s not. My brother, he… he…”

Now that he was able to study her more closely, Erick grimaced. Her dress was torn in several places. She wasn’t wearing any shoes. Next to all that, there was one more thing that gave Erick reason to pause. He gently reached over with his hand, using his thumb to wipe off a splatter of crimson from her chin. ”Blood?”
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Shapes in the Fog, Part I

Postby Erick Barnett on October 2nd, 2016, 8:39 am

The girl nodded, her crystalline blue eyes shrink wrapped in tears. ”My brother, sir… He….” She held her mouth open a moment longer, as if trying to force the words out, but began to wail once again, burying her face in her hands. Erick wrapped his arm around her shoulders, holding her closely.

”Alright, lass… Alright. You don’t need to say anymore.” He glanced over at the horse, who was nervously beginning to paw at the ground. Again, the beast’s attitude toward this place was a reasonable one. Erick bit his bottom lip, staring out into the Bronze Woods. The road should be to the west of us, then, since I broke east into the forest. Under normal circumstances, the position Syna held in the sky would have been enough to figure which direction was which. But staring up now, there was nothing but black - and very dark shades of grey. If we can find a decent clearing, I might be able to make out the sun's position through the fog. Especially as it approaches high noon. Of course, such a plan involved stomping aimlessly for the forest for gods knew how long, with no real guarantee of them finding anything.

”S-Sir?”

Erick glanced down at the girl. ”Yes?”

”Can we… Can we go home, please?”

Home. It was a lofty concept, and despite all the years he had spent living in Syliras, he had never really considered it to be home. When he thought of home, images of his old life in Ravok came flooding back to him. He could picture his parents faces. But now, in this wonderful moment, nothing seemed a homier thought than being securely back behind the walls of Stormhold Castle.

”Aye, I would like that. Although…”

Her eyes were large and frightened as she stared up at him. ”...Although?”

The squire paused a moment. ”I’m fairly certain I remember which way the road is. But with visibility out here the way it is, well…”

He could hear the girl swallow, her grip on his shirt tightening. ”Are you saying we’re both lost now?”

Erick gently pried her vice-like grip off his shirt, helping her up to her feet. ”Well, most of the mounts the Knighthood trains know their way back home, so at the very least-”

The girl peered suspiciously at him. ”Knighthood? You’re a knight?”
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Shapes in the Fog, Part I

Postby Erick Barnett on October 2nd, 2016, 8:44 am

”Squire, actually. So you can call me Erick.” He paused a moment, looking at her expectantly. ”...And you are?”

The girl shook her head. ”So sorry, Ser!.” She inclined her head slightly. ”My name is Julianne Beckham. You can call me Julie.”

”Fine. But it’s just, Erick, if you please. Titles make my skin crawl.” He turned away from her, offering a hand to help her up into the saddle. ”Particularly ones I’ve not even earned yet.”

”Of course.” He grunted as he lifted her up and set her down in the saddle, before pulling himself up next to her.”I’m sorry if I offended you…”

He glanced back at her, forcing the most reassuring smile he could muster to his face. ”Don’t worry. You didn’t.” It always baffled him how formal people could still act even in dire circumstances like these. Then, Erick figured, this wasn’t the worse situation he had ever been in. Not yet, anyways. Though it certainly had the potential to go that way.

”So…” The girl rested her chin against Erick’s shoulder after he climbed into the saddle infront of her, and began, speaking directly into his ear. ”So can you... tell the horse to just, take us home, or something?”

”Not that I wouldn’t just love to do that. And I’m fairly certain she knows the way, but…” Erick shook his head helplessly as he pulled on the reins, trying his best to simply reverse to the direction he came from - hoping he could still make out which direction that was. Everything around him looked the same - dark outlines against a misty grey backdrop. ”Let’s just say I’m not the most experienced rider as of yet.”

”How long have you been a Squire?”

Erick shook his head as he gently nudged the horse forward. ”Long enough.” Casting a beam into the dark corners of the woods, scanning in a radius just in front of him, he muttered a curse under his breath. There was a heaviness in his gut, as if a brick of lead had been dropped into his stomach, that grew weightier by the chime. Nothing around him looked familiar. No distinctive trees, foliage, nothing. He contemplated the idea of an elongated stay out here. It wouldn’t be the first time he had had to rough it in the woods a few days, with his patron, other squires, or even by himself. But this girl was not a knight. More like a bag of rocks tied around his ankle.. At the very least, I need to keep heading in a straight line. Maybe this way isn’t west, but it might be south, and I’ll hit the road that runs along the fields. He grimaced slightly.

That or I’m still headed East, and we’re about to be very, very far away from home.
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Shapes in the Fog, Part I

Postby Samuel Longwell on March 5th, 2017, 6:24 pm

Grading Complete


Please edit your grade request thread so that it's obvious that it's been graded. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions/problems with your grade.


Name: Erick

XP Award:
  • Riding: Horse 3
  • Prayer 2
  • Animal Husbandry 1
  • Observation 3
  • Socialisation 2
  • Land navigation 1
Lore:
  • Julie: Found in the fog
  • Getting lost in the fog
Rewards: +3 Shield points (Helping people of the city)

Notes: Be careful with writing at your skill level. You could have got more points for riding, but at your skill level you definitely cannot gallop. Anything more than a trot in these conditions would be very dangerous for a novice. But apart from that it was a good thread. Enjoy your grades.
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