Closed Grim Tidings

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

Grim Tidings

Postby Elias Caldera on February 28th, 2018, 12:37 am

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15th of Spring, 518 AV

A sigh rumbled out of Mithran like a rolling thunder cloud.

Deep and tumultuous, it was not the first the restless barrelman had unleashed from atop his perch, nor would it be the last.

Another day, another haul. he reminded himself listlessly.

How many summers was it now that he’d sat here atop this crow’s nest, staring out at these same placid, blue waters? How many years had he bid the lakeshore whores farewell, only to clamber aboard this old tub and dutifully watch that spired smudge on the horizon slowly but surely grow and magnify into the great, hallowed city he called home. Don’t get him wrong, there was no finer port in the world than the glistening glory of Rhysol’s sanctum, but even paradise lost its luster after a while when every day was spent staring at it for four bells at a time, three or four times a day.

He’d been up here too long, the Ravokian sailor decided for the umpteenth time that evening, and like all the other times he’d come to that shocking conclusion, he also remembered to curse that damn captain Parfito’s name once more. “Blast his eyes!” Mithran mumbled in a slur, cheek slouched and resting uncomfortably in one hand propped up against the edge of his tiny, towering prison.

Beneath him swayed the [/i]Velvet Prince[/i], an old saquie that had crossed these serene waters between city and shore for more years than most of its crew had even lived. From his vantage, the lookout could see the rest of the boys milling about, trying to look busy as the devil himself prowled the deck from stern to bow, just looking for an excuse to start yelling again. The grizzled old Zeltivan was a bastard in every sense of the word, and despite years of the easiest, most mind numbingly tranquil gig in all the world, he still ran his boat like a damn Svefra raider on the run. In all the years he’d sailed with the scruffy petch, he had never been able to understand him. The Larks paid well, and they didn’t care about anything other than making sure their cargo got from one end of the lake to the other. As long as it was on time and undamaged, they filled your pockets with easy coin and your dreams with promises of more to come. Yet Parfito was a man determined for difficulty at every opportunity. If the rigging wasn’t to his liking, it was the rowers who weren’t working hard enough. If the course wasn’t just right, it was the supplies being misplaced. This and that and this and that, the man was a petching pain in the ass who’d been steering full sail into a conflict that one day everyone on board knew was coming. Today he’d been particularly tyrannical though, and Mithran had nearly found himself ready to go to blows after only a bell of his bullshyke. Ever since that slave had skulked aboard with her little treasure, things had only gotten worse.

It was bad enough having a woman onboard the Prince, but a pretty one could only spell trouble. Of course, they’d all tried to catch a peek of her from one time at another, you know, just to get a look see, but the captain had caught poor ‘Smiley’ trying to creep his down below deck so he could have himself a little fun with the comely lass, as if he didn’t have a wife waiting for him in Ravok when he got back- or another back in Lakeshore. Mithran had never seen a man hit the floor so hard like he had Smiley after Parfito had laid into him. ‘That’s lord Radcliff’s property you’re petching with, boy!’ he’d yelled down at the bloodied kid, and in turn, to the rest of the crew who’d been looking on in shock. ‘I told you to stay away from her and the rest of the master’s shipment, and now I’m telling ye again. Keep your petching distance or I’ll smack each and every one of yah so gods damned hard your grand kids’ll be feeling the sting of mi knuckles!’

Son of a bitch was likely squirreling her away down there so he could keep her all to himself, the greedy petcher. Some of the others had whispered some crap about a plant or something, like it mattered, or he even cared. He hadn’t seen a woman like that in a long time, and for Parfito to try and hoard her away like some snarling dragon its pot of gold... “Bah!” Mithran spat over the railing in indignation, and before long he found himself sighing once more. Deep and tumultuous, it was not the first the restless barrel man had unleashed from atop his perch, nor would it be the last.

With a muffled yawn he turned his blurry gaze away from Ravok, still a fair two -maybe two and a half bells away, and instead affixed it to the west. There, alongside there port rippled the soft, black and white sails of The Acquisition. Another saquie belonging to the family, though the difference being her hold had been emptied and redesigned with chains and manacles in mind instead. A slave hauler, her belly was empty this round having recently dropped her load of sorrowful souls at the lakeshore for shipment further, perhaps to Nyka or far flung Kenash. From what Mithran had heard, she was on her way back for more, which meant business for the family must doing rather well considering how much meat they'd been moving as of late.

The other vessel sailed just a few dozen yards or so from the Prince, matching their speed and coarse with practiced ease. Mithran sluggishly waved his hands above his head, catching the attention of Kent, the Acquisition’s own lookout. The two had sailed this route so many times together now they’d developed their own little language of signals and gestures to cope for the fact that trying to yell a conversation over open waters only made their throats sore and their shipmates irritable. He was almost finished signing to the other lookout about whether or not the he’d be up for another sound thrashing at cards over at their favorite tavern when he noticed Kent hadn’t even acknowledged his flailing yet.

He signed again, and still no response. Annoyed, Mithran was literally jumping up and down in his barrel by the time Kent had even noticed him and begun to stir. “What is he looking at…” Mithran grumbled. It took a minute to realize Kent had been stuck to his spyglass now the entire time. When he noticed his compatriot, he didn’t bother signing anything back. He simply pointed.

Mithran, confused and flustered by his friend’s unusual obliqueness swiveled northward towards the city where he’d been gesturing. He’d seemed strange, frightened almost as if-

That was then he saw it.

Ravok was gone, and in its place now rose a wall.

Not formed of brick and mortar, or even waves and water, but instead of something else. “Mist…” Mithran breathed through gaping lips. It was a storm cloud of swirling, rushing fog the likes of which he’d never seen before. How he’d managed to miss it was beyond him, but in the short time he’d let his mind wander and his attention stray from the horizon, a gargantuan wave of thick, blinding mist had arisen, obscuring the great city and -there was no mistaking it- moving right towards them.

“What in the name of god.” He gasped, dumbstruck, and truth be told, a little frightened. This was nothing natural. The city of chaos could be a strange place sometimes, but the old lookout would be a liar if he said he’d ever beheld something like this before. His stupor ended abruptly, shaken loose by the sound of a bell ringing. He swung over to the source of the sound and found Kent atop the Acquisition, violently rocking the gonger of his alarm back and forth to warn the crew. He noticed the man was waving at him at the same time, jabbing his finger vehemently at the cloud coming their way.

“I know, I know you damn fool. I bloody see it now…” Mithran hissed to himself. “What are you trying to say?” Then the signals started to come in, hand swaying and bobbing to form the basis of a hastily assembled message. “Something… Something in…” It was taking too damn long to sort out what the other lookout was trying to say and by now he could hear Parfito screaming up at him from the deck below.

The storm was getting closer now, and Mithran could feel a wet breeze lapping at his face, but he put it out of his mind, focusing instead on Kent’s signals.

“Something… in… the mist?”

A chill took a hold of his chest. Like an icy hand wrapping itself around his heart, part of him didn’t want to look -didn’t want to make whatever nonsense Kent was saying reality by acknowledging it, but still he looked all the same, slowly craning his neck back to the north and squinting his eyes. There it was, right where he’d been pointing. A figure, black and bleary, but undeniably real despite the distance. It rode at the head of the mist, the shape of a man riding tall atop what looked like… like a ravosala? The sea seemed to part before him, his arms folded and his posture impossibly rigid as his tiny vessel hurtled forward with terrible momentum, slicing the water in twain in his wake. Where the water rose up at his sides however, instead of falling back into the lake where it belonged, its fringes began to… change. Dissipating and billowing behind the stranger like some massive ivory cape before fading into the wall of white that followed, and Mithran realized then that that was the source of the mist.

The old sailor rubbed at his eyes, praying he was just drunk or something -anything, but no, it was true, and worse yet, it was getting closer every tick.

“Mithran!” He heard shouts and cries coming from below now. The rest of the crew had seen it and were begging to panic. “Mithran!” Parfito roared again. “What is it?!”

But before he could answer -before he could work his fat tongue into trying to give voice to the madness he was watching draw nearer and nearer, the man in the mist lunged his arms forward, and the tide of white hounding at his heels suddenly surged ahead as if alive, enveloping him entirely, then everything else.

The world disappeared in a veil of fog.

Mithran’s vision was a sea of blinding white when the wall hit, and the surge of wind sent him reeling backwards before he managed to grab hold of the mast and steady himself. Even shaken as he was, the old sailor still clearly felt the ship rocking under him and knew what it meant. The ravosala had passed between both saquies, and whoever it had wrought this nightmare upon them was now within their midst…
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 14th, 2018, 10:15 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Postby Shiress on March 1st, 2018, 1:02 am

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Shiress peeled back the corner of a thick, woolen canvas from the crate and plunged her hand down past its surface, fingers finding one of the thick limbs of a bush, whose name eluded the slave. A small tingle began on the back of her right calf that steadily grew, spreading up her leg, up along the side of her body, and down her arm to the tips of her fingers. Beneath her fingertips, the smooth surface of the branch slowly softened, feeling fuller, hydrated, and more healthy. Shiress drew in a breath, satisfied.

The concealed shrubbery belonged to Radcliffe Lark, Shiress's slave master. The slave had an uneasy feeling that her very life depended on the safe and healthy delivery of this particular greenery. Her Master had said as much, though, without so many words. The look in the man's cold blue eyes had conveyed the message clear enough, and the hand around her neck had quite nicely driven the meaning home. The slave, in no way, needed further instruction in what Radcliffe demanded of her. Lifting a hand, Shiress gingerly caressed her cheek where the print of the back of her Master's hand had been so firmly emblazoned and trailed the tip of her tongue along the cut on the inside of her lip where her tooth had all but come through.

Radcliffe had been in rare form, even for him, before he had all but shoved Shiress and a pair of armed guards toward their tasks. Glancing up, the slave winced, seeing Kylar, her own personal sword-wielding babysitter, rubbing at his own sore jawline. The young guard had simply asked the Lark to clarify the departure time, and the man had lashed out at his guard with an open, backhanded reply. Kylar had glared daggers at the man but refrained from asking any further, unwise questions. Radcliffe had seemed somehow...off when last she saw of him before they began their long journey back to the city. He had seemed nervous, jumpy, and the dark color encircling the man's hard eyes indicated that sleep avoided the slave owner almost as much his slave.

Shiress watched as Kylar crossed the creaking floorboards of the ships hull, in which the two had kept company for the last few bells, and lower himself onto a stool near the stairs that lead up on deck. Shiress could stand straight below decks but the tall guard had to stoop, slightly, in most of the cramped space they occupied. The boat rocked gently side to side as it made its way across the open waterway, eliciting creaks and groans from the damp wood surrounding Shiress. The gentle movement of the large vessel threatened to lull the slave and she felt her eyelids grow heavy.

A yell, Shiress had come to know belonged to the captain, came flowing down the stairway from the opening. It wasn't a rare event for the grizzly looking man to raise his voice, in fact, it was a common enough occurrence, but followed by the sound of scrambling boots and raised voices had not only caught the slaves attention but that of her guard's, as well. By the time Shiress had stood and made it to the stairs, Kylar had already climbed them, hand resting on the hilt of his sword.

As she emerged through the opening on deck, Shiress drew in a startled breath, eyes going wide. The entire deck of the ship was covered in a blanket of white haze and the slave could scarcely see past the two guards standing several paces in front of her. "What is this?" she said, more to herself than anyone else, as she moved further out onto the deck toward the guards, but before she reached them, Kylar's sword came free of its sheath. Less than a tick later, the other guard's sword followed suit as he, too, saw what had alerted his fellow guard. Shiress took a step forward, eyes following the guard's line of sight, but try as she may, her green gaze saw nothing but white mist.

"There's something out there."

Kylar's voice, pitched low in a near growl, caused the slaves heart to all but freeze to a dead stop in her chest. Suddenly she was being shuffled backward by the bearded guard, only managing to turn around just in time to stumble back down the stairs she had just climbed. The guard turned toward her "Arm yourself and stay down there." he said, before the hatch slammed closed, leaving Shiress in near darkness, save for a single candlelamp swaying back and forth from the center of the roof, giving ghostly life to the dancing shadows that suddenly surrounded the slave.

Shiress slowly moved further into the dark space, arms wrapping around herself protectively, as her green eyes desperately searched the darkened area for anything she could use to defend herself.




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Grim Tidings

Postby Elias Caldera on August 5th, 2018, 7:45 pm

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The silence was the worst part.

It hadn’t started that way of course. There had been a great cacophony of yelling and shouting from across both vessels as the confusion and fear took hold. It was all the usual one would expect given the situation; ‘what is this, what happened, where are you, did you see that?’ and so on and so forth. It wasn’t until Captain Parfito silenced the chatter with a bellowing roar that had most men jumping clear out of their boots did some semblance of order return, though it was tenuous at best. For the time being it had worked though, and in the quiet he had called out to master Rakham, the captain of the Acquisition. It was a smart choice given that neither ship could now see the other nor gauge their distance. The prospect of collision had become a serious problem with the sudden shift of visibility, and when Rakham responded, his distant voice amidst the oppressive fog brought a wave of relieved sighs from the crew of the Velvet.

“Aye, I’m still here, by god.” The Zeltivan shouted from across the way, his ragged tone tinged with the same uneasiness that all the men now felt. “Were holding our course, no change. You do the same and we’ll-” Rakham went silent all of a sudden, the rest of his instructions lost in the mist as that terrible absence returned and there was naught but the creak of the old rigging and the sloshing of lake Ravok beneath their bow.

Then the screaming started.

The cries of pain cut through the fog like a knife, sliding its way deep into the gullet of every man who’d heard it. It had come from the Acquisition, far away yet far too close for comfort, and every sailor there made for his weapon, either pulling free the knives they had tucked away in their boots or stumbling around deck in a mad panic until their fumbling hands had found something hard and heavy enough to swing.

There were no threats on lake Ravok, for there was no more serene and peaceful a body of water in all the known world. Rhysol himself had blessed these waters and things like pirates and raiders simply didn’t exist here, let alone were bold enough to attack a ship belonging to one of the five main families. That didn’t seem to concern whoever -or whatever- was tearing into the Acquisition however. More screams followed the first, men letting loose the most terrible sounds from strained throats before abruptly falling wordless. Shouts came as sailors tried to seek shelter or fight back against an enemy they clearly could not see. Rakham’s commanding call was the loudest amidst the tumultuous din of agony and bewilderment, trying in vain to organize his men as one by one they were consumed by the thick soup of white that had devoured them.

In the distance the crew and passengers of the Velvet Prince could do little else but look on in helpless horror as their sister ship suffered some unknown fate. Though at first, they could see no more than the faint outlines of their own hands in front of their faces, there was something that many began to notice after a while. There was a light in the fog, a faint and flickering thing that bounced from one end of the what they suspected was the distant ship to the other. It seemed alive in the beginning, like a being made purely of some ethereal blue luminesce, yet each scream that resounded across the lake had been heralded by that light igniting into bright flash in the fog, and to some, it looked like the spark of… lightning.

Before long the ‘storm’ had swooped from bow to stern, and every soul caught in its path had fallen like the rest. First in screaming, horrid fits of pain, but then eventually only the sound of men dropping to the hardwood deck greeted the burst of luminance that claimed them. One by one the crew of the Acquisition disappeared into the milky night, their voices lost in the unnatural murk until there was only Rakham’s, his cries ranging from pleading to vengeful curses until at last he too was hushed.

Then there was that quiet again, like an itch that could not be sated, or a debt collector who would not be turned away, it had returned to torment them.

As they soon learned, it was a reprieve that many of them would soon wish they had never left.

“Oh petch! Brace! Brace!!!” Came the frantic warning from the crow’s nest high above, but it was too late. The shape of something came careening out of the mist, and as the hulking mass drew closer and closer, it soon became apparent what was happening.



---------------------------------------------------



The towering hulk of the Acquisition slammed into the side of Shiress’s ship, the groan of bulking wood and snapping ropes like thunder in his ears as both ships violently collided. Amidst a spray of splinters and debris, Elias landed aboard the Velvet Prince’s shaky deck with a roll and immediately set to work.

The stryfer was going to have to remember to thank Kain for the tip off about the ships, and the Larks for being so punctual.

His heavy cloak billowed as he surged forth across the ship, hand alight with the glorious glow of tempered lightning. Its wicked embrace found its first victim aboard the second ship as the stryfer lunged forward, grasping hold of a cursing man still reeling from the turbulent impact. The poor sod saw the hand pierce the veil of mist right before it grabbed his face, then saw nothing at all as the power coursed through him with an unbridled ferocity. The deck of the Velvet Prince flashed with blue and the curious burning smell that followed marked another fallen sailor. Elias was already on the move to the next.

It was a simple technique really, one he’d had ample time to practice during his wait out on the open lake for Lark’s to arrive. All it took was a bit of conjured lighting caught between a few refracting specks of res. It was a balancing act more than anything. The trick was to keep the arc of electricity flowing from one location on his hand to the next without allowing it a chance to escape. A series of push and pulls from every surge point of res on his hand kept the lightning alive and bristling within his palm until at last it could be directed at its target, or rather into its target. Lightning was an incredibly destructive element, and an incredibly fascinating one. The things it could do, particularly to the human body when provoked in just the right way, were incredible, but today the reimancer’s purpose was a simple one, and required a simple answer.

A second sailor went rigid beneath his thunderous touch, the shadows of their contact briefly bursting into life as the lightning surged once more. He’d been experimenting with the power on the Acquisition’s crew, deducing just how much he’d need to render a man unconscious. At first, he’d used too little, and the result had a been catastrophically painful for the first victim. The man had spasmed as if possessed, screaming his lungs out before finally going down. Thankfully, the second hadn’t suffered quite as much before unconsciousness took him, and the story was much the same for the third and the fourth. By now he knew exactly how much power to direct into his victim to make sure they dropped the instant the lightning took them, and it made his non-lethal subjugation of the unsuspecting slavers viciously easy. Guided by his auristic sight beyond sight, the mage merely had to follow the auras of his targets who’d been divided and weakened by his mist, bringing them down with little more than a touch.

Left and right they fell before him, helpless to stop his magical onslaught. The sailors tried to rally, to seek out safety in numbers, but the soldier was upon them as fast and deadly as the wispy shadows that he’d birthed. Without relent or remorse he struck, shattering their resolve and undoing any hope of cohesion before it had a chance to fester. They stood no chance against him. A trained, Ebonstryfe battle mage against less than a dozen or so milk drinking, untested louts who were more bargemen than actual sailors? It was child’s play, and little more of an annoyance that separated him and his true goal that day.

Somewhere on this ship Shiress was waiting for him.

He could feel the pull of her aura tugging at his periphery, an incessant, demanding urge that called out to him.

He would find her soon, but first, he needed to finish with these hindrances that stood in his way.

Another flared into existence as he drew near, this one a swirling gout of blues and blacks. He launched himself forward as he’d done before with all the others, eager to be rid of this poor bastard and move on, but in his arrogance he’d found folly.

The figure ducked aside, dodging Elias’s hand and the magic it held host to. Blue eyes went wide with shock, and then wider still as a flash of steel came humming towards his head. The stryfer barely managed to avoid the decapitating slice, but in his haste to avoid the attack, his hood had fallen loose.

Slowly, he straightened from the crouch he’d been forced into and found himself face to face with his defiant aggressor.

Young, armed, and with a look in his eyes that told Elias he both knew how to use that sword, and was more than willing to do so if tested.

From behind the plain, porcelain maskImage that hid his face the mage snarled and readied himself for the fight that was to come.


LedgerPorcelain Mask -2 GM
Last edited by Elias Caldera on October 14th, 2018, 9:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Grim Tidings

Postby Shiress on August 11th, 2018, 10:02 pm

Image

It didn't take long for the young swordsman to determine that the advisory was a magician, but when he found himself staring into the strangers inhuman face the young man was more than disturbed. The snarl that came from beneath the phony visage was matched by Kylar's own, but when the guard caught sight of the sword strapped to the masked man's back, his snarl suddenly felt a bit rushed. If Kylar's guess was right, the sword he spotted was a long sword. Kylar's sword was a short sword, and with the pair of inches the tall stranger had on the young man, Kylar knew that this wouldn't be a very long fight, nor would it end in his favor.

But the young guard had something the enemy didn't have, or so he hoped, giving his immediate area a quick glance, a partner. The second Lark guard, Holt, stepped up beside Kylar, unsheathing his own long sword from his back, and a dagger from his belt. Wordlessly, Kylar took a step back, intending to disappear into the mist.

With a swift, underhanded throw, Holt slung his dagger toward the mask, then lunged forward, sword coming down in an arch that would slice the black clad warrior from shoulder to opposite hip.

Seeing his partner engage the swordsman Kylar moved, stepping into the thick fog, giving the two combatants a wide berth. Unfortunately for Kylar, though, once he was out of sight of the fight, the fight was also out of his sight. He could only hope that the grunts coming from Holt were from exertion and not pain.

The young guards quiet, slow footsteps brought him around and behind the man in black. With a vile taste entering his mouth, Kylar withdrew the horrid whip from his belt, allowing its long, braided tail to uncurl before he positioned the weapon out by his side. With a deft flick of the wrist Kylar's whip lashed out, at the same time that his short sword lunged toward the attackers back.

______________________

The one candle lighting the small space where Shiress stood went out moments before a loud, jolting crash sent her sprawling unceremoniously to the wooden floorboards, leaving the slave in complete and utter darkness. For a long time, she remained where she landed, sure water would come flooding in at any chime. But, to the slave's dismay, it wasn't water that flooded down around her, it was the muffled sound of men screaming.

Shiress came to her feet slowly, gazing up to the underside of the deck's floor, where the sound of booted footsteps creaked and groaned in the wake of screams along its opposite surface, coming ever closer, then stomping to a stop directly over her head. Silence. The type of pregnant silence that one immediately recognizes as the calm before a storm. A chime or two later, the storm broke and Shiress heard the sound of swords clashing and heavy booted feet pounding and shuffling against the floorboards above her head.

Slowly, she climbed the steps and pushed on the hatch, which immediately fell inward, nearly knocking Shiress over as it clattered down the steps, coming to rest with a resounding crash. She cringed at the sound, but hearing the continued telltale sound of clanging metal, she moved out onto the deck. Peering around warily, Shiress spotted a prone figure, moved toward it, and knelt down. The man was unconscious, but breathing steadily. She moved to stand, but froze, seeing another still figure just a pace away. Green eyes roamed the floor, seeing another body, and then a fourth just beyond that one. The entire floor of the deck was covered in still, motionless sailors.

Shiress stood in place for several long horror-stricken chimes, heart pounding, as an eerie quiet fell over the ghostly ship. The slave took a step backward, then another, and another, until she felt the ships railing against her back and a deep, dark freedom from whatever was attacking the ship. The sound of footsteps came from the white blanket of mist, coming closer to where she stood holding tight to the railing. Shiress began to climb. The slave could not swim, but neither could she fight against such a foe. Death would come whether she stayed on the boat or jumped from it.

Shiress jumped.



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Grim Tidings

Postby Elias Caldera on August 13th, 2018, 4:30 am

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They dared to stand in his way? They dared to defy his will when he was so close?! When she was so close!

He could feel her now, just beneath his feet. The deck may have divided them, but there was no denying what he knew. She was there, moving, shifting, her aura so palpable with uncertainty fear. To be so near after so long apart, only to have these two petching lackeys seep out of the mist and bar him from his goal… Elias felt something threatening to snap inside him as he studied the two faceless, meaningless guards.

It was a feeling quickly replaced with the spasm of instinct seizing control as his eyes registered the dagger launched and his body reacted before his mind could. Nearly two decades of combat and training were coursing through him now, and it overrode the rage and indignation, fueling him instead with a simple and singular purpose everyone from his uncle, to his instructors, to even his enemies had instilled in him over the years…

Win

The Caldera leapt aside as the blade came flying, the knife missing its mark even as it tore through the fluttering fringes of his dark cloak. The Lark used the opportunity to race forward, closing the distance between them before Elias had an opportunity to find his weapon or even summon forth his arcane talents. He wouldn’t need either for this, for though his mask may have been revealed, it was not the only trick the mage yet had up his sleeve.

As the guard’s blade came crashing down upon Elias, cutting deep into his cloak and deeper still, his attack came to an abrupt and grating end as the telltale clatter of metal on metal echoed out across the mist veiled vessel. Shock and doubt flashed across the face of a man once confident he’d just scored a killing blow. Now realization was dawning on him as his folly became clear. Elias had been wearing his gauntlets beneath his garb, their sword catching and breaking teeth ensnaring the longsword before it had a chance to dig into flesh. The moment of hesitation was all the stryfer needed as he cocked back his other arm and prepared to deliver a crushing electrical blow to his opponent… or he would have had something not taken hold of his arm.

Both Elias and the guard’s eyes snapped to his arm as both men noticed the whip suddenly lashing unto the Caldera’s outstretched arm. Petch! The stryfer cursed in surprise as he locked eyes with the equally alarmed second swordsman whose whip now stretched taught between them. It seemed he hadn’t been aiming for Elias’s arm, and instead had been just as caught off guard when his attack found its new mark. The astonishment didn’t last long however, and neither did his partners, and soon both men were quickly trying to press their unexpected advantage. The swordsman pushed hard into Elias with all his weight, doggedly trying to drive his blade, even blocked and snared as it was, down until its edge could find purchase, or at the very least, hold his opponent in place. The other one, the young bastard with the curly hair, took to pulling on his whip, nearly yanking Elias’s arm out of its socket as he too realized they now had both of the masked attacker’s hands locked down.

Now all they had to do was capitalize and cut him down…

He wasn’t going to give them the chance.

A power unlike anything mortal men could compete against began to churn and twist within the mage’s core. The Flux was awakened, and in its kindling burned a strength whose heat was as undeniable as it was insurmountable. Muscles tightened all across the sorcerer’s body as the arcane ability leached into his arms and shoulders. Suddenly, that doubt that had briefly reared itself in the eyes of the bearded swordsman had returned anew as he felt his blade -along with all the weight and might he’d been putting behind it- begin to lift against his will.

“What the pe-” SNAP

Half his weapon went clattering to the floorboards as Elias suddenly shattered the sword against the biting clutches of his teethed gauntlet with a single, wrenching twist of his arm. The backhanded blow that followed sent the flabbergasted motherpetcher flying against the nearby cabin. In the instant that followed, the Fluxer was next yanking on the whip with his other hand, using all his power to send the guard flying with a startled cry towards him.

The boy landed hard on his chest, rocked by the raucous impact. Elias then turned to the other, still trying to find his bearing after the surprise strike. He faired no chance as the masked man descended upon him with a flurry of blows still empowered by the flux. Staggered and reeling, he felt himself tossed like so much garbage at his partner, who at the time was still trying to find his own feet. The two collided hard, but managed to keep themselves upright.

It only served to make their downfall all the swifter.

The souls of Elias’s boot found their mark square in the middle of the Lark’s chest as the stryfer launched himself in the air and delivered a brutal drop kick against the two men still tangled together. The magnitude of the blow was such that both men went careening towards the edge of the boat, smashing clear through the railing before plummeting into the waiting waters below.

Move! The soldier shouted at himself. Get up and move!

In his distraction he had lost track of the girl, letting his mind fixate itself on the fight instead of what really mattered. He reached out, scouring the dizzying cacophony of colors and feelings each aura around him provided. She wasn’t below decks anymore, and sifting through the mist and the boat was like swimming through maluses. It was taking too long, too-

There.

He’d found her.

As Shiress leapt from the railing of the Velvet Prince, consigning herself to a fate beneath the depths of the gentle waters below, she’d find her fall cut short as a familiar hand took hold of hers over the side. Pulled up by as a gentle a touch as he could manage, Elias brought the slave back on board with the unnatural strength his magically magnified muscles still wielded.

The slave would find herself gently lowered back down to the ground, even if she resisted him, which to his foolishness, she had every right to. He was still wearing the mask, still hiding his identity, and though he knew he should have ripped it from his face and revealed himself then and there, he found himself frozen -captured in the emerald eyes staring back at him.

A hand, tentative at first, yet resolved in its purpose, slowly made its way across the Zeltivan’s cheek as the soldier leaned in closer and whispered. “Shiress… I have you now.”
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Grim Tidings

Postby Shiress on September 23rd, 2018, 12:17 am

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As her body began to fall, a backward glance found the approaching figure far too close and despite knowing that certain death surely followed in the man's wake, Shiress still let her hand linger on the railing a tick too long. So, as she felt the stranger's hand close around her wrist, it came as no surprise.

Vainly, she twisted her arm and clawed at the black gloved hand that held her, but the stranger's grip was like iron. Even as she was pulled back over the railing of the ship, she fought that grip, determined to move her assault to the man's body as soon as her feet touched the floorboards. Upon lifting her fire filled eyes to her attacker's face Shiress's determination vanished instantly, replaced with a shocked horror, color draining rapidly from the slave's face. From within a black hood, an inhuman face tilted down to look at her through dark, oddly carved holes.

Shiress gasped, vigorously renewing the attempts to free her wrist from the gloved iron fist that held her fast, just as the stranger's other hand appeared before her face to glide gloved fingertips across her cheek. Shiress closed her eyes, turning away from the touch.

Then the mask spoke.

For just a tick, the slave's struggle continued, but as the voice registered and recognition struck, Shiress froze, shocked, unable to even breath. She would know that voice anywhere.

Elias

Opening her eyes, Shiress slowly returned her emerald gaze to the masked figure, her heart pounding so hard in her chest that she was sure it might burst. Fear, excitement, dread, worry, anger- every mixed feeling a human can feel all fought for dominance over her emotions. Hesitantly, the slave raised a hand and set fingertips gently against the cold porcelain face. Noticing that her hand shook, Shiress pulled it away, drawing her fingers into a fist, then, taking a long breath, pulled the mask away. The breath that she had taken in to steady herself now exited her lungs in a slow, steady hiss through her teeth.

Green eyes roved over the familiar face, taking in sharp features, azure eyes, trailing along scars, lingering on masculine lips, before returning to lock a fierce emerald gaze on his blue. "Elias" she whispered, all thought of betrayal vanishing within that gaze. Placing her hands on each side of his face, Shiress pulled her soldier's lips down against her own in a long, hard kiss, losing herself for a long moment in the feel and taste of his lips. How could she have ever thought that he could betray her? Leave her to rot in chains?

Pulling herself away, the slave clawed her fingers around Elias's broad shoulders, pressing herself against him in a warm embrace. The feel of his arms around her nearly stole her breath. At last, he had come. At last..

"You've come for me at last" she said, pulling herself even closer, not wanting him to let go of her. " I never...." Shiress's eyes went wide.

"Kylar, no!"

The still dazed Kylar had approached the distracted Stryfer's back silently, his sword held low, ready to thrust. Moving faster than she thought possible, Shiress pulled Elias around even as her body twisted in his arms, but before she could utter another word, fire erupted from her abdomen. Shiress's body went rigid as it was pushed back against Elias. For a long tick, the slave stared open-mouthed at her guard, before glancing down at the steel pressed into her stomach. The world seemed to rock around her for an instant. Falling back another step, her body pressed even further into Elias's hard form, revealing the bloody tip of Kylar's sword.

Miraculously, the trained swordsman had checked his thrust, pulling back his momentum at the very last chime. Shiress swallowed audibly, calming as she realized she was not skewered on the guard's blade. Ignoring her minor injury, she raised her hands in a calming gesture. "Please, Kylar." The guard, looking just as shocked as the slave, recovered his voice faster. "I could have hurt you!" he said, his words gaining volume as he spoke, "I..I could have killed you!" Taking a step toward Shiress, Kylar was nearly consumed in concern for his charge, but thought better of his action, his expression hardening into a renewed resolve. The guard's sword came up again.

"Step aside slave or I will be forced to kill you both!"



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Grim Tidings

Postby Elias Caldera on October 4th, 2018, 3:53 am

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They crashed together like waves in a storm, lips and bodies pressing heedlessly against one another without relent or reprieve.

There was a desperation in the way they kissed, a longing that could not be sated, only tempered for the moment. It felt like an eternity passed with her in his arms within those bitterly sweet few ticks of the clock, and even then, it was not enough. Too long had they been apart, too long had they been denied each other, and as Elias held Shiress in his arms, clutching her close, he swore anew he would never lose her again.

For the first time since her disappearance, the soldier felt himself... whole again. He had of course known the ache of her absence since his man on the inside had failed to execute their part in his scheme to steal her away for himself, but it was only now, with familiar glistening emerald eyes looking back at him, did he realize the scope to which the void in his chest had grown. It was intoxicating merely having her in his arms again, and such was his folly that like a drunkard he dared to indulge himself. So lost was he in his reverie and guilt, the swordsman never heard the footsteps approaching from behind. Never noticed the dripping water draw closer and closer with each cautious step. Never saw the blade coming until it was too late.

What happened next happened as a blur, as he heard Shiress cry out, snapping him from his rapturous reunion only to be hastily shoved aside. Helplessly, he watched in horror as the glint of the blade’s edge buried itself in the Zeltivan’s stomach. The blade meant for him

He cried out, shock and anguish etching themselves deep into his face as he caught her in outstretched hands, steadying her long enough that the two of them could slowly descend to the floor of the ship as one. No! No! No! He groaned inside the crumbling castle that was his mind. Where once its ramparts were secure and its walls steady with the intent he had garrisoned within, now the foundations were all too quickly falling apart as his hands fumbled against the bleeding wound. There was no time to pick up the pieces, to re-center himself and restore the rock steady resolve he’d erected for himself just to get this far. Attacking a family convoy. Assaulting their men. This was madness after all, and he'd been the mad man who'd thought it more than just a hollow dream in the first place.

This wasn’t how it was meant to be.

This wasn’t what he wanted!

A trembling grip held Shiress as she confronted her attacker -Kylar as his name turned out to be. She seemed to know him, and the regret evident in his reaction was puzzling to say the least, but the sentiment behind them was lost on the stryfer. His trembling had changed. Gone were the tremors of fear and uncertainty, replaced instead with the red hot umbrage of a man whose woman had just been harmed and whose power could reshape the elements themselves. And reshape them he did.

“Shiress, I said move, damn you. I can’t-”

The words died in Kylar’s throat, lost amidst the wide eyed realization of what he beheld taking shape behind Elias and the slave girl. The mist was shifting, changing, swirling in a vortex of unbridled ferocity, and all whipped into a frenzy by the strange, evanescent substance at its center. The ball of tumultuous gale hung there just beyond the railing for a while, growing fiercer and angrier with every tick that passed by until at last the guardsman took notice of his error in standing still and made to dive out of the way.

It wasn’t fast enough.

Like a fist, the wind slammed into his chest, surging across the bow of the vessel, tossing sails, rigging, and Kylar about like debris in a hurricane. His cry fell on deaf ears, caught up in the raging currents as the mage’s powerful spell sent him flying far off the Velvet Prince and into the lake waters below for the second time that day. All that remained was a gouging in the mist where the wind had parted the veil, revealing a gateway to world outside. Beyond the fog, Syna's rays cut through the murk and gloom of the unnatural prison the reimancer had trapped them all in, reminding all the damned souls within there was indeed still a world outside of this one.

For now though, there was a lull in the madness and chaos.

And like that, they were alone again.

“There you go again,” Elias muttered after a few heavy breaths. Through taught lips and behind pained eyes, his words were strained, unsteady, and dripping with a kind of guilt that stung at his heart. “Taking the blow that was meant for me. Risking your life…” he went on, his hold about her shoulder tightening ever so slightly as he cradled her form upon his lap. “I’m starting to think you have a bad habit.” He chuckled, though the mirth was absent from his dry laughter as he laid his head against hers.

More than anything he wanted to say he was sorry. He wanted to beg and plead and prostrate himself before her, asking for a forgiveness he did not deserve from a woman who deserved so much better. He wanted to hear her say she forgave him for his broken promises and shattered hopes, but he knew such things would only serve to injure her further. Apologies were for another place, and another time. Now, more than ever, Shiress needed the strength he’d once assured her, not the mewling of a remorseful wretch. He needed to be strong, so that she could be strong.

Slowly, his hands encircled hers, enclosing within his scarred and gruesome fingers the gentle, tender things that had not once, but twice now saved his wretched life.

“I told you the trials ahead would test you. That they would try to break you -make you doubt yourself. I told you it would be hard, it would seem impossible…" He smiled, and this time it was genuine. "And I told you you could overcome it all, all the same.

You’re strong Shiress. Stronger than anything they throw at you, and you’re going to have to grow stronger still in the days to come...

This isn’t over yet.”
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Grim Tidings

Postby Shiress on October 11th, 2018, 6:26 pm

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Pressing against him, Shiress felt the moment Elias changed, going from shock to murder. She thought she may have heard his teeth grind together. She wanted to warn Kylar, but the words to do so escaped her. She didn't even know why she wanted to warn her guard, but somehow, Kylar didn't deserve to die.

As soon as the slave felt the air begin to stir, she turned away, burying her face into Elias's chest, not wanting to watch what was to come. For all she knew, Kylar's body could be rendered into a fine, bloody mist that the mage intended to let float away on his magical wind -something she'd rather not witness. A chime later Shiress heard the faint sound of the guard's body impacting the water. She blew out a breath, squeezing her eyes closed, and nuzzled herself closer to Elias, taking comfort in the closeness of him. He smelled of leather and earth, and everything masculine, and for a chime, Shiress let go of herself and everything that had happened.

For the first time in seasons, the wretched slave felt safe.

Elias spoke, but so lost in the feel of the soldier's arms around her, Shiress took a moment to reply. Slowly, she moved so that her eyes met his, then lifted her hand to Elias's scarred cheek, letting her fingertips softly trail along the silvery lines of his marked skin."You are worth saving, Elias," she said, pretense or flattery absent in her tone, only heartfelt sincerity was spoken, "and I pray to whatever God will hear me that I am there every time to save you."

Shiress smiled, pressing herself against Elias once again, watching his hand curl around her own. The soldier's skin felt rough, scratchy, not unlike sandpaper, against hers, but it felt perfect, too. She closed her eyes as he began to speak again, but as the meaning of the last of his statement dawned, they popped back open.

Pulling back and away, Shiress looked at Elias with calm assessment clear in her eyes. "It isn't over." she said, in a way that sounded as if she was testing the words, then her eyes went wide as realization set in. "You haven't come for me have you?" Shiress looked away to where Syna's rays cut through the veil of mist, blinking back sudden tears. "I'm to go back and not with you?" She already knew the answer. Why else attack a ship carrying something so dear to the bastard Radcliffe? Elias Caldera had a plan. Another plan. An unknown plan that already dispelled all feelings of elation, safety, and rescue. A plan that would send her back to the Lark estate to be chained and beaten, and subject to whatever misery and twisted need of her Master.

Her savior was here. All the guards gone. They were alone. Why could she not just leave with him now? "Why?" she whispered, finding his gaze again, "Please?" Shiress dropped her eyes, fighting a losing battle with her emotions. The harder she fought back the tears the stronger the flood became. "I don't want to go back, Elias." she continued, "Now that you are here I cant go back. Radcliffe is a monster and he uses the same mind control or.." she fumbled for the right word, "hypnosis as Sayana-" The very thought of her former master had sent the slave's head reeling, but the actual utterance of the name had Shiress swaying dangerously where she sat.

It's the same as it was when I was with...her" she said, groaning slightly as the world went spinning again. "He's done something to my mind to break Saya...her hold on me. I can't think or even say....ahh" Looking up, Shiress's eyes were red and watering, more from the pain behind them than the tears. "He's evil, Elias. What if he finds out about you? What if he does something to me that turns me against you? He already knows that there's an Ebonstryfe soldier that had plans to buy me the night Rook and I were taken."

The Slave's head dropped at the thought of her bondmate. "A young wolf Kelvic bonded with me that night, Rook, and had it not been for that bond I would be dead, Elias, and Radcliffe already uses him against me and for his own purposes." Shiress looked up with fear and anguish awash in her tearful gaze. "Take me with you, please, Elias? she begged, her voice gaining in desperation as she spoke, "I'm not strong and I can't do it anymore! He's breaking me!" So washed away in the raging river of emotion and pain of her recent turmoil, the slave broke like a dam. Despair washed over her and she was lost to her own words. "I want to be with you, Elias -I love you!" Shiress froze, looking as if someone had just slapped her. Belatedly, she clapped a hand over her mouth.

She hadn't meant to say that.

But there it was

Out for all to see

A worthless slave in love with an Ebonstryfe soldier.

A sudden and cold fear slid down her spine. The last time she had shown Elias such weak submissiveness, he had beat it out of her. Sorta.

Lowering her hand, she followed it with her eyes to her lap and just like that she was a slave again. Elias's slave.

"I'm sorry" was all she could think to say.

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