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ZONE - Castle Blood, Southwestern Wilds


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#1 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 01:01 PM

((NOTE: Before posting, please read this thread!))

 

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Spoiler

 

The Savage Assault on Castle Blood

 

It has been an eventful week for you. First, your lands came under attack by the Achaean Empire, who pushed deep into the Southwestern Wilds and retook the ancient crumbling monument called Castle Blood. Then, you were asked to join a team of elite adventurers tasked with slipping past Imperial lines and infiltrating the castle, in an attempt to seize the power that lies deep within its dungeon... before the Imperial team can reach it.

 

Now you find yourself traveling with a strange group of assorted peoples, the likes of which you have never seen all in one place together: two Minotaurs, a centaur, a pixie, an exceptionally skinny beetle-man, a fox-man, two half-elves, and a rare creature called a moth-kin. Walking together under the reddish light of the setting sun, trying your best to move quietly, you approach the looming monolith of Castle Blood.

 

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A short, dark-haired satyr - his tanned skin marked with strange black tattoos - meets you at the outskirts of the castle, bobbing nervously from hoof to hoof as he explains: "Welcome to the party, boys. So you're the team Knossos assembled to pull off this insane job? I'd almost think we could do it... if there weren't an Imperial army between us and the castle."

 

"Name's Driu, by the way," he goes on, giving a mocking salute to the towering black Minotaur named Metallon. "I guess you're the one in charge, right? Of course, a party like this doesn't have a real leader. There's always gonna be some debate. So everyone else listen up too, and I'll tell you what I found when I scouted the perimeter."

 

He waves a stubby, hairy arm in the direction of the hills looming behind the row of bushes ahead. The tallest hill bears the weight of Castle Blood, rising like a man-made mountain. On the hills surrounding it, you can make out some hastily-constructed wooden fortress walls, and the movement of Imperial soldiers finishing their construction.

 

"The Imps have put up a palisade wall all the way around the castle, and they're constructing a big camp almost like a fort on the opposite side of the castle from where we're standing. Fortunately, most of the soldiers are over there right now, leaving our side relatively clear... you know, relatively. They still outnumber us at least three to one.

 

"The way I figure it, there's three ways we can get past the Legion and reach the castle. First, obviously, there's that big hole in the wall there. If you boys are crazy enough to want to try an' fight our way through, that might be the place to do it. But since that's where the wall is still being built, that's also where most of the soldiers are. And again: three to one against us, maybe four to one. I'm a gambler, sure, but I don't like those odds.

 

"The second obvious way in is that little gorge there, full of shrubs. The Imperials couldn't build the wall over it, so they just positioned archers along the sides. If we were sneaky enough, we could make our way through the trees and shrubs down there without the Imps ever even seeing us. Of course, if they did see us, we'd be sitting ducks for the archers to turn us into pincushions. Might be hard for them to get a good shot through all the growth, but either way, we couldn't easily fight back. Still, that's the way I'd go... you know, if I was goin' in alone.

 

"Then of course there's the third way: straight past the wall itself. We could pick a spot that looks the least defended, and then either smash the wall down or climb over, assuming we've got the skills and the tools necessary to pull that off. Once we're past the wall, the defenses will be lighter than at the breach, and we'll have a mostly clear shot to the castle.

 

"There's probably a fourth or fifth way too, but I haven't thought of 'em. I'm open to suggestions. But I doubt we'll be able to talk our way past. I think all of us know some halting Imperial tongue, but I don't think they'd listen. Probably on orders to kill any locals on sight. So, what do you boys think? Obviously, we could all just split up and pick the way that seems best to us, and meet back up inside Castle Blood... or we could take a vote and go as a group. That is, unless the noble Metallon wants to issue orders all military-like. What'll it be, lads?"

 

He looks back at the group, stroking his pointed beard nonchalantly, as if the results don't even matter much to him. There is a strange eagerness in his eyes, though you can't say for what. You turn your head, scanning the many other strange eyes of your companions, wondering what they're thinking. Most of them you have only just met today, when the party assembled at an arranged meeting-place. Can you trust them to have your back in a group effort, or should you head out right now, and make your own way to the castle? Glancing back at the Imperial perimeter, and seeing the red sunlight glint off the armor and weapons of the Legionary soldiers, you know this is not a decision to be taken lightly...


-Scorp

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#2 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 02:20 PM

Earlier, before the rest of the group had arrived, Bartholomew and the Satyr, Driu, had scouted out the ancient Castle. 

 

What they had found did not look good.

 

It appeared that an entire Imperial Legion had been stationed at the Castle, and this, added to whatever else might be lurking in the crumbling ruin, made their mission ever more dangerous.

 

As the others had arrived, Bartholomew, or Basim, depending on who you asked, had pondered the situation. The easiest route would be through the gorge, as it wasn't heavily guarded. However, as the second smallest there, most likely he, the Satyr, and the Fairy would be able to make it through unseen. The others, the Centaur more so than the others, would be pincushions in the blink of an eye: the Imperial Archers were not called marksmen for nothing.

 

He stopped thinking as Driu explained the situation to the newcomers, and then waited on their answers.

 

The Beetle-man spoke up and said, in his strange, eastern burr "I would suggest a two pronged attack: the larger, more powerful members of our group charge the main gate or another spot like it, while the smaller, quicker members move through the gorge while the Achaeans are distracted."

 

Bartholomew shrugged his shoulders, both sets of them, and said "But, it's not my decision, after all. It is the group's leader's choice." 

 

 



#3 Harry Monster Princess

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 02:26 PM

At last, they had arrived. The dark stone of the imposing castle blood towered over them, almost silhouetted by the setting sun. He smiled to himself. Before long, this haunted fortress would fall to the Alliance.
 
They were met by a satyr, covered with odd tattoos who had been sent in advance to scout things out.
 
"Welcome to the party, boys. So you're the team Knossos assembled to pull off this insane job? I'd almost think we could do it... if there weren't an Imperial army between us and the castle."
 
"Name's Driu, by the way," he goes on, giving a mocking salute to the towering black Minotaur named Metallon. He raised hammer to his forehead in return. "I guess you're the one in charge, right? Of course, a party like this doesn't have a real leader. There's always gonna be some debate. So everyone else listen up too, and I'll tell you what I found when I scouted the perimeter."
 
Metallon listened attentively as the satyr went through their options.Going straight through the gap in the wall, sneaking through the underbrush, or making an entrance.
 
"There's probably a fourth or fifth way too, but I haven't thought of 'em. I'm open to suggestions. But I doubt we'll be able to talk our way past. I think all of us know some halting Imperial tongue, but I don't think they'd listen. Probably on orders to kill any locals on sight. So, what do you boys think? Obviously, we could all just split up and pick the way that seems best to us, and meet back up inside Castle Blood... or we could take a vote and go as a group. That is, unless the noble Metallon wants to issue orders all military-like. What'll it be, lads?"
 
The Beetle-man spoke up and said, in his strange, eastern burr "I would suggest a two pronged attack: the larger, more powerful members of our group charge the main gate or another spot like it, while the smaller, quicker members move through the gorge while the Achaeans are distracted."
 
Bartholomew shrugged his shoulders, both sets of them, and said "But, it's not my decision, after all. It is the group's leader's choice." 
 
Metallon idly swung his hammer, considering the options. "Something like that, but maintaining the element of surprise is ideal. The longer the Imps are in the dark, the better. We'll sneak through the underbrush in the gorge." He huffed, flaring his Nostrils. "That said, there's a lot of us, plus Mastus, Sven and I aren't quite built for sneaking. So we could use a distraction."
 
The Mintoaur turned to Basim and the pixie Fen with a smile. "Basim can give a bomb to one of our stealthiest and swiftest members, they will throw it at the gap in the wall in the midst of the soldiers, while Fen could ignite the wall on the left side with a blast of magic. Then the imps attention will be everywhere but the gorge in the middle, and while they're disoriented we all sneak through."
 
He hefted his hammer, securing it on his back next to its twin. "Bombardier, Ambreeze, can it be done?"

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#4 Burger Warrior

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 12:17 AM

Fen Ambreeze sighed, relaxing on the saddlebags of the lone centaur in the party. It had been a long, tiring journey, especially with the growing amount of news considering Imperial forces driving ever-deeper into their territory… for everyone else, anyway. The tiny mage had spent the whole time relaxing - usually inside someone’s supply bag for free snacks - and not really caring about the Empire and its warring. Sure, it was happening next door, but he could just fly next door if it got so bad.

Frankly, the only reason he was doing this was out of sheer curiosity. Well, that, and people told him he ‘shouldn’t go’. It was ‘too dangerous’. The pixie sneered at the thought. They told me what to do all my childhood and they still think they can control me? Hah! He snorted, starting to pace around the lid of the saddlebag he’d chosen to be his seat. What a bunch of old geezers.

 

He became aware of an unfamiliar voice speaking at the head of the party, which his ride obligingly brought him closer to in his own attempts to hear the satyr warlock. Curious as to the being’s appearance and a tad about what he was saying, Ambreeze took to his wings to hover a few inches above the centaur’s head, eyeing the warlock who introduced himself as ‘Driu’.

 

He went on about options on how to get past the humans who were amassing around the old, crumbling ruin beyond. Ditches and holes in walls were prime topics of conversation, eliciting a yawn from Fen. Alone, he could’ve easily gotten through… but he decided he might need some help later, so it wouldn’t hurt to give the others a hand. The thing was, they didn’t just expect him to offer or something: no, big Black-Fur just had to step in and speak for the pixie, first.

 

“...while Fen could ignite the wall on the left side with a blast of magic. Then the imps attention will be everywhere but the gorge in the middle, and while they're disoriented we all sneak through." The enormous minotaur hefted a hammer, securing it on his back.. "Ambreeze, can it be done?”

 

Fen shrugged, completely filtering out any part of their ‘leader’s’ question directed at anyone else. “Well, yeah.” He said, “whether it will get done or not just like that is another question, Big-Horns.”

 

After a moment of letting that hang in the air, allowing everyone to realize he just debuffed their supposed leader, he continued. “I’ll cook them up a storm they won’t ignore, don’t you worry.” Ambreeze said confidently, moving down to use the centaur’s shoulder and neck as a reclining seat.

 

“So what’s your name, Hooves?” The pixie idly asked while waiting for any questions, threats, or other such actions to be taken against him by any other members of the party.

 

((Summary: chilled out, confirmed orders, asked for name, chilled out.))


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#5 Ryoma

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 07:24 AM

Sven didn't realize he had a passenger until they stopped in front of the Castle to make their move. He frowned during the conversation, trying to listen to the options presented by the satyr (Sven would've liked to conduct his own investigation, but time didn't allow such things now), but a oversized bug kept flying near his head. He very nearly went to swat it, when he realized that the "Bug" was actually humanoid in shape, and not only that. He was one of their companions for this mission.

 

How interesting.

 

The minotaur immediately took command with the confidence of a leader, a position that Sven traditionally filled in such groups. He listened to the plan, and found himself agreeing with it. He opened his mouth to speak, but was caught off by the pixie (Fairy?) speaking boldly to their leader.

 

Sven chuckled. "You have the confidence of a being ten times your size," he said, as the pixie settled onto his shoulder. He nearly shrugged, but stopped himself just before dislodging his new passenger from his seat.

 

“So what’s your name, Hooves?”

 

"Sven Martagh," he said, trying to keep one ear on the conversation and one on this new "friend". "And you, little one?"



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#6 Dagoth

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 11:48 AM

Vsskyre was shivering in the wind as the evening breeze came through. The setting sun felt so familiar. It felt like being a kid again. The hues of orange and the evening cool reminded her of her time in the priory. This was her morning for years. This was excitement. This was when they would go and bless the sojourners and the wounded. Up on the hill, near the dark silhouette of the castle, the Achaeans, those who the moth-kin had formerly healed, patrolled the area.

 

Monsters

 

She brandished her bows and strung them one after the other, testing the poundage and strength of the woven linen and hemp. 

 

How far we've fallen.

 

Driu and Metallon, the party's leader, had arrived at some sort of plan. It was Driu that concerned Vsskyre. He had a suicidal glint in his eyes, as if he was delighted by the prospect of oncoming violence. Metallon seemed noble enough; a no-nonsence type of minotaur. Possible because he was too slow to catch it, but trustworthy none the less. The rest of the group looked like the average Minoan force. A pixie, a fox-kin, another minotaur, and what appeared to be a formican for a second, being slender and covered in desert attire. Two have elves also joined the party. They both were very handsome in appearance, a trait from their elf heritages, but their facial hair made it clear that they were of a mixed blood.

 

She made her way over to the "Formican" to introduce herself, as he was the only familiar face in the room. He started to speak as she came near.

"I would suggest a two pronged attack: the larger, more powerful members of our group charge the main gate or another spot like it, while the smaller, quicker members move through the gorge while the Achaeans are distracted." 

 

The others in the group liked the plan. 

 

"I can take a few of those archers of our hands before we move through." she suggested in a deep feminine voice. It was slightly muffled, as if she was a knight speaking through his helmet.

 

 


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#7 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 01:16 PM

Kyle Bloodmoon stood there with his arms crossed, listening to all the assorted chatter. Here we had what was supposedly an elite group of operatives chosen by the Minoan Alliance to infiltrate this place, and so far we had one tiny pixie pointedly making an ass of himself before going off for some small-talk, and a horrible monstrous moth thing that looked like it'd stepped right out of the nightmare of a dreaming dark god who was saying to shoot the archers before they started sneaking.

 

"If we shoot them, we lose the element of surprise that the Minotaur was talking about," Kyle commented.


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#8 Dagoth

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 08:35 PM

(In actuality, Dagoth just didn't read the posts real well.)

 

One of the half-elves spoke up. "If we shoot them, we lose the element of surprise that the Minotaur was talking about," 

 

"Right. It would" She said. She assumed it would be in the moments leading up to the bomb, and from a vantage point than in the gorge, but either way, it would give them more time to set up a coordinated defence.  She pointed to the gap in the palisade with two arms. "Going with the given plan, once the distraction has happened, we can draw as many of them into the corner as possible with a few of us, those coming from the gorge can flank them. And then the field is ours for now." 

 

Of course, there could be more behind the castle, but the mountains and gapless palisades would seem to make for an easily guarded attack. She wouldn't think to find many more there than those guarding the front of the castle.

 

 


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#9 GhostlyCheese

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 09:42 PM

Vehoe had rarely hunted with a group of this number, and variety of race, and yet he was the only of his kind to be on the mission. He wasn't too keen on being under the command of beings much larger than him, namely the 'Taurs who had authority over him. Still, he was proud to be part of such an event, hopefully he would come out intact, body and mind. As he approached the castle, it wasn't as menacing as the last rays of sunset reached over the mountains. As the Minotaur with the hammer spoke. Vehoe's ears perked up as the boom of his voice reached them.

"...Something like that, but maintaining the element of surprise is ideal. The longer the Imps are in the dark, the better. We'll sneak through the underbrush in the gorge." The Minotaur huffed, flaring his Nostrils. "That said, there's a lot of us, plus Mastus, Sven and I aren't quite built for sneaking. So we could use a distraction."

Distraction? A raging flame always catches Imperial attention... Vehoe had caused trouble to turn eyes while he worked. Humans were easily distracted by the sight of a fire. Vehoe didn't know just what it was, was it the drama it caused, the commotion? The danger? Or maybe the loss it caused, luckily for Vehoe, fire wasn't a dilemma in his life, as he had little left to lose.

"Basim can give a bomb to one of our stealthiest and swiftest members, they will throw it at the gap in the wall in the midst of the soldiers, while Fen could ignite the wall on the left side with a blast of magic. Then the imps attention will be everywhere but the gorge in the middle, and while they're disoriented we all sneak through."

Vehoe would have been the first chosen if he'd worked with these people before. He had yet to gain a reputation with the Alliance, but as a comrade once said; An assasain's name is best left unknown... The Fox-Man didn't know if this applied to his brothers and sisters in arms though. "I could provide the link between the bomb and the flame... I mean, sneak up close enough to get it where you want," suggested Vehoe.

Edited by GhostlyCheese, 20 March 2016 - 11:37 PM.

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#10 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 01:31 PM

 "Something like that, but maintaining the element of surprise is ideal. The longer the Imps are in the dark, the better. We'll sneak through the underbrush in the gorge.That said, there's a lot of us, plus Mastus, Sven and I aren't quite built for sneaking. So we could use a distraction. Basim can give a bomb to one of our stealthiest and swiftest members, they will throw it at the gap in the wall in the midst of the soldiers, while Fen could ignite the wall on the left side with a blast of magic. Then the imps attention will be everywhere but the gorge in the middle, and while they're disoriented we all sneak through. Bombardier, Ambreeze, can it be done?"

 

The Beetleman said nothing, but nodded in conformation as he pulled said bomb out of his pouch.

 

"I could provide the link between the bomb and the flame... I mean, sneak up close enough to get it where you want."

 

Bartholomew handed the fox the bomb and said "Here, and be careful: if you drop it, there won't be enough left of you for the Imperial Troops to notice."



#11 Ambad

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 02:22 PM

"Too bad we can't wait for dark..." Mastus said, finally piping up. He wasn't the overly talkative sort, but he also didn't want to be taken for mute, so the minotaur decided to add his two coppers. "As it is, though, if we can set the fire upwind of the gorge, the smoke could provide additional obscurment for our approach."

When the alchemist handed over an explosive to the assassin, Mastus gently patted the fox-man on the back and wished him luck. "May the gods of fortune guide your feet, friend, and may your skills not falter. Also, if another of the smaller and more cunning among us wouldn't mind scouting the gorge ahead and clearing any traps or hazards that might be waiting, I am sure the bigger and more obvious of us will find some way to show our gratitude..."

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#12 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 05:05 PM

((Bartholomew "Basim" crafts 1 Smoke Bomb from 1 Volatile Ingredient and 1 Toxic Ingredient. He gives the Smoke Bomb to Vehoe.))

 

As the discussion carries on, you notice the satyr Driu tighten his belt and turn to leave. He does not wait for Metallon to give the order - instead simply trotting off, his hooves making not a sound as he carefully steps through the grass.
 
Without looking back over his shoulder, he waves to everyone behind him, saying, "Way ahead of you, Mastus. I'll take point through the gorge, and keep an eye out for traps along the way. Anyone who wants to follow me, come on, if you think you can do it quietly. The rest of you... do whatever."
 
The last few words are almost inaudible, since he keeps walking without a pause in his stride. Soon, he is far out of safe speaking range - too far away to shout at, without alerting the Imperial soldiers. As he draws closer to the palisade walls, he slinks low into the underbrush that grows thick in the gorge that cuts through the defenses. With one final wave back at you, beckoning to those who would follow him, he disappears from sight.


-Scorp

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#13 Harry Monster Princess

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 06:04 PM

After Driu raised no signs of danger, Metallon decided it was time to proceed with the plan.

 

"Alright, you know your parts. Vehoe, Ambreeze, stay swift, stay silent, and stay out of sight," He smiled at each of them, confident they could fulfill their parts. "Everyone else, let's move."

 

After letting the smaller members go first, Metallon crouched as low as he possibly could, at began approaching the underbrush.


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#14 Burger Warrior

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 08:36 PM

Horse-butt chuckled. "You have the confidence of a being ten times your size," he said, as the pixie settled onto his shoulder.

 

Fen shrugged. “Probably ‘cause I can be ten times my own size.” He grinned, before posing his question to the centaur.

 

"Sven Martagh," he said, apparently trying to keep one ear on the conversation and one on this new "friend". The pixie didn’t bother trying to split his focus. "And you, little one?"

 

“Fen Ambreeze.” He introduced himself, shifting a little as he lounged on the larger being. “Nice to meetcha.” He added with a relaxed smirk.

 

All around them, people were still trying to make up new bits of the plan, and their impromptu leader had fallen completely silent. Fen sighed, crossing his arms. “So-”

 

He noticed Driu running off a moment before the satyr spoke. "Way ahead of you, Mastus. I'll take point through the gorge, and keep an eye out for traps along the way. Anyone who wants to follow me, come on, if you think you can do it quietly. The rest of you…”

 

And he couldn’t catch the rest. The shaman or whatever he was had vanished from sight and gotten out of earshot. At least, unless they wanted to let the Imperials know about their presence, too. Fen crossed his arms, wondering if he should take off like the satyr did and just get on with his distraction. Perhaps fortunately, though, Black-fur Big-horns spoke up first.

 

"Alright, you know your parts. Vehoe, Ambreeze, stay swift, stay silent, and stay out of sight," He smiled at each of them, clearly confident in their abilities… and not slighted in the least by the pixie’s previous behavior. Ambreeze made a slight face at that. That isn’t fun at all.

 

"Everyone else, let's move."

 

Fen hopped off of Sven’s shoulder. “Welp, seeya on the other side Hoov- ahem, Sven!” He called, darting off into the shrubbery. He reduced his natural glow as much as possible and kept his speed slow as he weaved through the tall grass, steadily approaching the wall on the left of the gorge as stealthily as possible. Once he got a clear shot at the wall, though, he decided to wait until Foxy set off his bomb. Then he could hurl an explosive fireball and watch the fireworks go off. This is gonna be good… Fen grinned, eagerly waiting for his improvised signal.

 

((Summary: Approach wall to left of gorge, wait for Vehoe’s strike before casting Arcane Explosion (Fire) ))


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#15 Dagoth

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 08:39 PM

Vsskyre moved on in front of Metallon. By Vishtu, she hoped that bomb would be distracting enough. Hopefully they could make it to the door in time- hopefully the door wouldn't be locked. 

 

She took one last look at the giant hunk of black stone before disappearing into the bush. It was eerily similar to the view of the monastery back when she was a kid. She was born there, and maybe she'd die there, in a sense. She tried to bury the thought. 

 

Two bows ready for action, Vsskyre waited in the dirt for the signal.

 

 


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#16 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 08:39 AM

Kyle said nothing as he went ahead of Metallon, moving slowly and quietly while he waited for the fox and the pixie to do their part. He'd lost track of this plan - were they moving through the gorge quietly or were the bigger people charging at a gate or something? - but if everything went south, he'd just get through the gorge and go after that weird little satyr.


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#17 Ryoma

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 12:38 PM

The pixie introduced himself as Ambreeze, a cute name for a small creature. Unfortunately, they had little time to exchange more information than names as the minotaur ordered the mission to begin. Sven frowned, having preferred a bit more time to plan, but at this point there was little point in arguing. Ambreeze flew off to do his part, and Sven went to do his.

 

Which was watch and wait. 



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#18 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 01:27 PM

"Way ahead of you, Mastus. I'll take point through the gorge, and keep an eye out for traps along the way. Anyone who wants to follow me, come on, if you think you can do it quietly. The rest of you... do whatever."

 

 Almost as soon as the Satyr was finished speaking, Bartholomew as by his side. When Driu looked at him, the Beetle Man simply said "I'm coming with you. The others have my bomb, and that's all they need."

 

As he, Driu, and whoever followed them made their way to the gorge, the Beetleman drew his scimitar and three of his throwing daggers, the blades of the weapons smeared with soot to hide the metal's glinting. 

 

He was ready for whatever the Imperial Troops could throw at them.



#19 HalfBaked139

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 04:37 AM

Kairn sat off to the side, uncharacteristically quiet. Normally, he'd be in the center of things, probably arguing with people about the virtues of this choice or that. But part of his mission here was to document the fight for Castle Blood, and he'd let himself get distracted by that aspect of things.

 

And now, he was going to be with the main group, the one that wouldn't be sneaking around. Which, given his preference for not charging facefirst into edged weapons, was a mild annoyance. Well, what a way to listen and pay attention, he grumbled internally.

 

With a sigh, he fell in line behind the rest of the group. If nothing else, he'd be there for the dramatic parts.



#20 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 10:44 AM

((MAJOR DM POST: Time advances by 1))

((Note: If you don't want to read the whole post, just look for your name or the word "everyone" in bold, and read those parts.))

 

The sun has dropped out of sight now, shrouding the Wilds in darkness. But you are a denizen of the Wilds, something more than human. Your eyes adapt quickly to the night - far more quickly than those of your enemies. You can still see the castle looming in the distance, a black tower against the deep blue of the night sky. You flex your shoulders, loosening your limbs in preparation for the coming fight. You are ready to defend your homeland.

Bartholomew, Vehoe, and Ambreeze: You advance down the canyon first behind Driu, who fades from sight almost as if his body itself has become shadow. Though it is a close call, you manage to completely avoid detection, making it all the way to the end of the gorge, near the very foot of the castle. The black volcanic stone blocks that form its walls are almost close enough to touch.

Spoiler


You turn and look at the defensive palisade walls behind you, which your allies must still get past. To your right stands the lightly-defended but finished wall. You make out 4 Archers and 2 Legionnaires on patrol there.

To your left lies the gap where the wall is still being constructed. You make out at least a dozen soldiers there. Behind the soldiers stands a great pile of logs held in place by a few tall stakes. A strong enough blow might be able to take out the front stakes and send the logs rolling toward the

Vehoe: Following the plan, you cock your arm back and toss the Smoke Bomb at the larger group of soldiers to the left. It's a perfect throw, and you feel elated as it lands square in the center of the group. A great cloud of gas emerges with a bang, and the soldiers scatter, coughing and rubbing their eyes. Whatever was in that mixture was certainly effective.
Spoiler


Ambreeze: Still in your small form, you begin flying in a circle about a foot in diameter, going faster and faster, summoning fire in the center. You can feel its power growing more and more concentrated, and it glows warm before you like a miniature sun. When you feel it is about to blow, and it's all you can do to contain it, you concentrate your flying to aim it to the walls at the left, and then you release!

The comet of intense heat flies straight out, like a bee just released from a cage. The soldiers barely turn to look in time to see its light before it explodes, sending them flying. You are a bit disappointed to see that the wall remains intact, though it's now ablaze. The soldiers who are now on fire start rolling in the earth to put it out. The others rush to find water to put out the walls. None of them seem aware of where the attack came from.

Everyone else: You steady yourself and gaze down the gorge ahead of you. It's an intimidating sight, full of dark underbrush, with the earth rising on either side, topped by the wooden palisade spilkes set by the Empire... and the black keep rising up into the sky at the far end.

Suddenly you hear two explosions in rapid succession, and a cloud of smoke begins to rise near the gap in the wall to your right. A few Imperials run from the gap, coughing and ripping the helmets off their heads to breathe better. Then you see that the completed section of wall to the left of the canyon has started to burn, and you hear soldiers screaming and shouting for water.

Now is your chance. Putting one foot in front of the other, you begin a fast and steady march through the gorge. You try to be as stealthy as possible, but soon the two Minotaurs and the Centaur are crashing through the brush and crushing it beneath their great hooves.

Only three Imperial archers at the gorge's edge are close enough to notice over the rest of the din. One of them shouts "ATTACKERS IN THE GORGE!" but no one reacts very quickly, as they are dealing with the other distractions. The three archers, however, nock their arrows and fire at the three largest targets... Sven, Metallon, and Mastus. The first two shots go wide, but not the third.
Spoiler


Mastus: You feel the arrow strike your shoulder, and though it misses any vital organs, it's a deep cut - probably a broadhead. You feel hot blood start to trickle down your back. But you don't let it slow you down. Within a few seconds, the whole group has reached the end of the gorge.

 

EVERYONE: You now are now together again at the foot of Castle Blood. The great reinforced wooden door stands closed, with only two slit windows in the stone on either side. Only Ambreeze could possibly make it through those windows. The strongest among you might be able to smash through the door with enough effort. However, some of the Imperials are starting to gather behind you... Though most of the enemies are distracted, it looks like four Legionnaires are now advancing on your position, backed up by the three Archers. The archers are already aiming new arrows, and the Legionnaires are cocking back their pila to throw. They haven't picked targets yet... Some of you might have to hold them off while others break through the door...


-Scorp

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"Come a day there won't be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all..."




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