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ZONE - Artorius ((Chasing Shadows - Epilogue))


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#81 Sareth

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Posted 16 October 2016 - 02:47 PM

"No offense to the watch in this city, but I feel like she could use the help, and there's nothing I can do for Caid at this point. I'll meet you all back at the inn."

 

"Right, Sir" Sarael replied, before Stevan took off at a run. "Astra be with you!" she called out after him.

 

Then, after cleaning and sheathing her sword, she turned to the frozen blacksmith. She doubted she'd be able to lift the man —certainly not for very long, if at all— so instead she wrapped her arms about the icy bulk as best she could before planting her armored shoulder up against it and shoving with all her might, seeking to push the trapped man back to the inn.

 

Hopefully, the ice would be slippery enough against the ground that it wouldn't take too much force to move him.

 

***

 

As the doctor —or whatever it really was— turned on the watchmen, Neitha saw an opening, and immediately darted in, swinging this time for one of the thing's legs —aiming for the same spot that the watchman had just struck. The damn thing was quick, but if she could just remove one of its legs it would be much easier to finish off.

 

At the same time, she noticed the arrival of Stevan, Katrina, and the northwoman to the battle. Good; with their additional help, they should be able to take the Hidden warrior down in short order.


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#82 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 17 October 2016 - 12:12 PM

The watchmen exchanged glances before one finally managed to sputter, "A-aye, sir, we'll - uh - we'll... get to work on that. And we'll send someone over to that inn as soon as we can."

 

With that, the two of them shuffled toward the dead bodies, though they looked hesitant to even touch them. They were quite busy whispering things in awe and horror to each other.

 

Beginning his arduous shuffle back to his Templar allies, Marcus added in passing, “Don’t worry, I’ve killed plenty of casters like these.  Their spell-chucking days are over as long as necromancy doesn’t come into play…”

 

He paused, partly for drama and partly to hold back another groan of pain, “...which tends to happen when people stand around instead of arranging proper burials.  Just saying.”  Hopefully the guards would get the point.

 

---

 

After offering blessings to Stevan in passing, Sarael began to set her shoulder to moving the frozen blacksmith, as promised.  Marcus was about to place his last set of cuffs on the man’s ice-covered hands, only to think to himself that the Templar would not appreciate the extra weight, and if the Hidden smith had actual magic, he would probably have freed himself already, or used it in the battle.  Probably.  Hopefully Plexaura had her cuffs, because the logistics of the situation were starting to worry him more and more.

 

Satisfying himself with cuffing the unconscious Charon, in case he woke up, the Inquisitor then called out to Sarael, “I’ll be right behind you, my lady.  Just need to check on our friends before I start dragging these two along.”

 

Without even looking at the false priest, he simply pointed at him as he moved along, “And I’d advise you to stay put.  If I have to chase you, I might break something else.”  He did not normally stoop to threats, but his patience and resolve were both wearing thin, and if he needed to keep intimidating the prisoner into submission, he would.

 

---

 

It was hard to remember when exactly the rain had stopped, but now only the fog still lurked around the air as Marcus made his way to Percula’s ice dome.  After trying and failing to peer through its surface, the Inquisitor gently rapped his armored knuckles on it, two times in quick succession.

 

Percula?  Caiden?  It’s Marcus.  Are you two alright in there?”

 

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#83 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 17 October 2016 - 02:21 PM

Katrina eventually slowed down to a walk. Not because she was close to the in, far from it.

 

It was because she was lost.

 

"Stupid fool," she muttered under her breath "running off in a city you don't know the layout of. What were you thinking...?"

 

Slowly, she realized that someone was following her.

 

The Archer turned and saw that Beleag walking calmly behind her.

 

"What do you want?" Katrina asked coldly "Are you going to bash me against a wall, too?"

 

Any reply that the woman had, however, was cut short, as Stevan, the Templar Captain, dashed past them and around a corner.

 

Katrina rounded it to see the Templar, Neitha and several members of the Town Guard fighting one of the Cultists: the one who looked like a Plague doctor.

 

A cold chill ran down her spine as she realized that the Cultist wasn't human: the thing was scuttling around on all fours, its eyes glowing with an evil light as it attacked the group.

 

The Arch drew her bow, and, after finding an opening, fired three arrows at the creature: hitting it in the body would do no good, but hitting it in the head or through the eyes might kill it. 



#84 Burger Warrior

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Posted 17 October 2016 - 04:53 PM

Percula shuddered both at Caiden’s yell and at the strange feeling that the bolt imparted. Hastily dropping the projectile, she watched it slowly roll toward the edge of the ice dome before returning her attention to Caid. She took a deep breath, holding it as she braced herself for the worse.

 

Somehow, Caiden managed to stay on his hands and knees, gasping for breath. He let the ice cube drop from his mouth as he steadily started to breathe a little easier, or at least, so it seemed to Percula. After a moment, he slowly got to his feet, his movements measured and deliberate. He turned to face her, and she knew for sure now that he was no longer in constant pain... either that, or he was at least in pain he could more easily hide.

 

"Thank you," he said, his voice much more controlled than before. Hesitantly, the Venator looked down at his hands, the demonic tentacle in his arm now largely still. Saffron chewed her lip hard, her hopes that the strange corruption would simply wither away or at least return to the depths of his body to be held at bay again died.

 

“Y-you would’ve done the same.” Percula managed with an uncharacteristic lack of volume and energy.

 

It was a long moment before he finally admitted in a murmur, "I... don't know what to do. I can't be seen like this... I don't even know how dangerous I am."

 

Saffron stepped in to wrap her arms around him, regardless. “Y-you’re safer than you were with that… thing in your back.” She assured him, giving the bolt a brief glance. She was about to add more when a gentle knocking sound came from behind the pixie.

 

“Percula?  Caiden?  It’s Marcus.  Are you two alright in there?” Marcus’s voice inquired, if a tad muffled by the wall. Percula hesitated, looking Caiden in the eye and biting her lip.

 

“...H-he needs to see the bolt, at least.” She said, pulling away from Caid. “Just… stay put, okay? Marcus isn’t gonna hurt you, no matter what.” Saffron quietly reassured him, heading over to the source of the Inquisitor’s voice.

 

“Yeah, we’re fine! Caid’s… sort of himself. Mostly.” She quickly bit her tongue to keep herself from ruining that report further. “...I got the bolt out of him, so he’s himself, and in less pain. It should be safe if you come in here… you’ll wanna see what’s on this bolt.” Percula explained, laying her hands on the icy wall in front of her.

“Hang on a second, I’ll make an opening for you.” The pixie added, carefully dissipating a portion of the dome to make a doorway for Marcus.

 

----

 

Beileag soon found Katrina standing still at a crossroads and allowed herself to smirk. Apparently someone wasn’t too good at navigation. Admittedly the ex-berserker wasn’t sure if she could find her way back to the inn from their current position, but she could at least head back toward the small skirmish site. Then from there…

 

"What do you want?" Katrina asked coldly. "Are you going to bash me against a wall, too?"

 

“Mebe.” Gutraidh said simply, cracking her knuckles. “Depe-”

She was interrupted by the passing of Captain Stevan, and by the time Beileag identified him as a friend Katrina had already taken off after him. Following in a far less casual manner than before, the ex-berserker, paused when she saw both of them join several others in a fight to take down another cultist. One who seemed unaffected by its sore wounds, and whose glowing eyes spoke of terrifying sorcery.

 

Gutraidh advanced regardless, readying her bardiche as she came up beside Katrina. Watching the woman struggle to rapidly fire one arrow after another, leaving no time to aim with how fast she was cramming so many shots in, the werewolf caught her wrist.

“Take be’er aim an’ shewt slower, or I’ll really slam yer head into a wull.” The nordling warned with a low growl before charging into battle.

 

The idea of Katrina shooting her in the back for that crossed Beileag’s mind, but after a brief moment spent considering it she realized she could care less. It would mostly make things worse for the archer.


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#85 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 18 October 2016 - 01:50 PM

Yeah, we’re fine! Caid’s… sort of himself. Mostly.

 

Marcus definitely did not like the sound of that, but he allowed Percula to go on.

 

...I got the bolt out of him, so he’s himself, and in less pain. It should be safe if you come in here… you’ll wanna see what’s on this bolt.

 

The fact that she said “should” also did little to reassure Marcus, especially since she was doing all the talking.  Still, she did not sound overtly coerced, and if Caiden trusted her so implicitly, he could at least give the pixie the benefit of the doubt.  She could sometimes be a liability, but he was confident she would take things seriously when Caiden’s well-being was involved.

 

Very good, I’ll reserve judgment until I can see it.”

 

“Hang on a second, I’ll make an opening for you.” The pixie added, carefully dissipating a portion of the dome to make a doorway for Marcus.

 

Stooping slightly to make his way in, more from his own pain than from the size of the doorway, the Inquisitor entered cautiously, still leaning on his weapon.  He saw Percula and Caiden, both on their feet, Percula’s face more concerned than usual and Caiden...still deeply, horrifyingly changed.  “Gods preserve us,” he could not help but mutter before clasping his fist in front of his lips, his worry evident on his brow and in his eyes.

 

After a moment of silence, the Inquisitor composed himself, his voice cool and business-like.  “Have you any magical insight on what they did to him, Percula?  And where is the bolt you mentioned?”


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#86 Burger Warrior

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Posted 18 October 2016 - 08:37 PM

“Very good, I’ll reserve judgment until I can see it.”

 

Percula let out a small sigh of relief that Marcus was agreeing to this. Sure, she hadn’t had many doubts about the Inquisitor’s trust in Caid - much less herself - but there had still been a few nagging thoughts on the matter. It was good to have them mostly laid to rest.

 

Stooping slightly to make his way in - more from his own pain than from the size of the doorway, the pixie guessed - Marcus entered cautiously, still leaning on his weapon. Percula came over to try helping him stand more upright, but she barely took a step before the Inquisitor laid his eyes on Caiden.  “Gods preserve us,” he could not help but mutter before clasping his fist in front of his lips, his worry evident on his brow and in his eyes. Saffron glanced over at Caid, herself. ‘Gods’ preserve him. She corrected mentally, her lips pursing slightly.

 

After a moment of silence, the Inquisitor composed himself, his voice cool and businesslike.  “Have you any magical insight on what they did to him, Percula?  And where is the bolt you mentioned?”

 

She chewed her lip, eyes still on her transformed friend. “Well… he mentioned demon blood burning him,” the pixie admitted in a somewhat subdued tone. “I think the bolt… activated that?” Percula offered, leading him over to the projectile in question. “Whiiich is over here, by the way. I, uh, wouldn’t touch it without some of that anti-magic metal if I were you…” She murmured, rubbing her still tingling hands uncomfortably as she remembered the strange power the bolt imparted.


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#87 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 18 October 2016 - 09:44 PM

Luckily for Sarael, the blacksmith-turned-ice-sculpture moved rather readily when she pushed it. It'd be fairly slow getting to the inn at this rate, but given the rest of her companions were otherwise occupied, it seemed none of them would be regrouping there for a bit longer, anyway, for better or for worse.

 

---

 

The revenant quickly found itself overwhelmed, as so many enemies focused upon it at once. First, Neitha charged in, managing to hack at the same leg already weakened by the watchman. The sword didn't quite slice completely through the bone, but it broke it just enough to cause the monster to teeter on its legs - until its own weight snapped what little strength was left in the limb, and the undead toppled over with a yowl.

 

That hardly slowed it, as it lifted itself up on its arms, ready to attack again - but it never got the chance. First, Stevan charged in, landing an incredibly heavy blow for the monster's head decapitating it. Then, Beileag came in next, slicing the still-flailing corpse off at the waist and leaving a thrashing torso.

 

Finally, an arrow arrived to skewer the decapitated head and send it flying and bouncing down the street. Suffice to say, once what was left of the torso stopped moving, the revenant seemed defeated.

 

Stevan turned to face the lot of them, sheathing his sword again. "So much for getting answers," he sighed, but he nodded to Neitha, adding genuinely, "Good work."

 

After a moment, however, he said, "We need to get back to the others." To Katrina, he added pointedly, "If you care about your friend, you should come with us back to the inn. We need to talk."

 

---

 

Caiden tensed slightly when Percula put her arms around him, but he wrapped his right arm around her shoulders, not saying a word or even moving, at least not until he started slightly when someone knocked on the ice outside.

 

“Percula?  Caiden?  It’s Marcus.  Are you two alright in there?” Marcus’s voice inquired, if a tad muffled by the wall. Percula hesitated, looking Caiden in the eye and biting her lip. Caiden returned the look, seeming uncharacteristically nervous, if nothing else.

“...H-he needs to see the bolt, at least.” She said, pulling away from Caid. “Just… stay put, okay? Marcus isn’t gonna hurt you, no matter what.” Saffron quietly reassured him, heading over to the source of the Inquisitor’s voice.

 

The Venator nodded silently, standing his ground as she went and talked to Marcus through the ice - though he couldn't help but swallow self-consciously at her initial response that he was 'sort of himself' and 'mostly,' even if she tried to soften that after the next few seconds.

 

When Marcus halfway limped in, however, Caiden went rigid again. He didn't make a sound, but he swallowed and set his jaw. He seemed to sniff at the air without meaning to, and immediately, his eye flicked to the bolt in Marcus's bleeding leg.

 

But whatever went through his mind was dismissed by the Inquisitor's reaction upon seeing him. “Gods preserve us,” Marcus could not help but mutter before clasping his fist in front of his lips, his worry evident on his brow and in his eyes.

 

That seemed to snap Caid out of it and instead make him avert his gaze, turning to face one of the ice walls. Both of them surely noticed Caiden trying to keep his right side facing them - even if any effort to hide his mutations were futile, particularly given the spikes on his back and the black blood that still oozed from the bolt wound... not to mention the tendril in his left arm that he didn't seem to know what to do with.

After a moment of silence, the Inquisitor composed himself, his voice cool and business-like. “Have you any magical insight on what they did to him, Percula?  And where is the bolt you mentioned?”

 

She chewed her lip, eyes still on her transformed friend. “Well… he mentioned demon blood burning him,” the pixie admitted in a somewhat subdued tone. “I think the bolt… activated that?” Percula offered, leading him over to the projectile in question. “Whiiich is over here, by the way. I, uh, wouldn’t touch it without some of that anti-magic metal if I were you…” She murmured, rubbing her still tingling hands uncomfortably as she remembered the strange power the bolt imparted.

 

As Marcus turned to investigate the bolt, he knew the instant he lay his eyes upon it that it was cursed, filled with some kind of powerful demonic magic. The runes were unlike any he had seen, but it was coated in a sheen of pitch black blood - as some demons had - and yet the runes still seemed to faintly glow a dim, hellish red. The head of the bolt had wicked barbs, no doubt to cause more pain and catch and tear the flesh and insides of whatever it pierced, and the bolt itself seemed to be made of obsidian: a material often used for soulstones.

 

As for its exact nature, however, even he, with all his extensive knowledge, could not rightly say.

 

---

 

Stevan led the way back to the group, with Neitha, Beileag, Katrina, and the watchmen in tow, the latter of whom broke off to rejoin their two slightly more cowardly companions in helping to clean up the mess.

 

As they approached, they saw Sarael already busy pushing the frozen Hidden blacksmith back in the direction of the inn. Stevan went to where the Weeping Mage lay, easily hefting him up and onto one shoulder to carry. He then stepped over to the Hidden One priest, who still waited for Marcus's return. Stevan, however, clearly intended to keep an eye on the lot of them.

 

Otherwise, there was little to see, aside from the fact that Percula had formed an opening in her dome of ice that caged her and the cursed Caiden, and Marcus had apparently stepped through it. There seemed to be no signs of violence within, however, which was at least mildly encouraging.

 

 

((Going to continue the conversations here for a bit before moving us along, especially since I need to find time to prepare the next larger DM post. Hopefully there are some more interactions to be had here, aside from the obvious between Marcus and Percula. Sorry for any delays. For the record, though, I'm afraid Charon is going to remain unconscious for the time being.))


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#88 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 12:18 PM

She chewed her lip, eyes still on her transformed friend. “Well… he mentioned demon blood burning him,” the pixie admitted in a somewhat subdued tone. “I think the bolt… activated that?” Percula offered, leading him over to the projectile in question. “Whiiich is over here, by the way. I, uh, wouldn’t touch it without some of that anti-magic metal if I were you…” She murmured, rubbing her still tingling hands uncomfortably as she remembered the strange power the bolt imparted.

 

With a dour frown, Marcus commented, “I understand.  I take it you had to touch it yourself to remove it?  We may need to get your hands looked at, too.  Now, let me see what we’re working with here...”

 

Laboriously crouching down to inspect the dark implement, the Inquisitor winced again, his muscles still burning and aching from the poison in his veins.  At least his bleeding had stopped, as far as he could tell, but he had to fight the urge to remove his own offensive protrusion and make things worse for everyone.

 

I’ll make this as brief as I can.  Not to make this about me, but I might not be conscious enough to help you by the time we get back to the inn.  Both of you will have to remember what I tell you, and decide how much to tell the healer, if we can get one.”  He entreated the two with his eyes, still worrying more about them than himself.  

 

Carefully pinching the bolt between gauntleted fingers, he held it a safe distance away as he inspected the dreadful weapon.  “By my analysis, it’s demonic in nearly every way.  There are runes here I don’t know, perhaps Kye will.  It appears to have been coated in demon blood, as you suspected, but I’ve never seen effects like this.”

 

Turning it over to examine the head, he remarked, “Barbed tip, definitely intended to cause damage coming in AND going out.  Also, it looks to be made of obsidian, a common material for...soulstones.”  He shuddered at the thought before looking back at Caiden.  “I have no way of telling if it was intended for your soul, Caiden, or to...infuse...you with whatever is laying waste to your body.”

 

Wobbling to his feet, and only barely managing to do so, Marcus wrapped the bolt in a rag from his satchel before placing them both back inside as he directed his attention back to Percula.  “It feels wrong to say this, but while we’re hidden here, Percula, a bit more magic use shouldn’t harm anyone.  I recommend a gentle water spell like back in the desert, try to flush some of the demon blood out of the wound.”  He took a few deep breaths, even standing was becoming more arduous.  

 

Removing his plain black cloak, he added, “I’ll stand back so the spell won’t get absorbed by my armor.”  Handing the hooded garment to Caiden, he said, “It’d be too easy to make this go away by just cleaning the wound, but it’s a good start.  You can use this to cover it afterward, while we regroup.  I doubt those were all the Hidden in this city, and we’re a bit conspicuous and isolated in here.  Most of our party left to chase down the doctor that shot us both.”  

 

Then, stepping backward as he promised, Marcus doffed his helmet and took a few more deep, ragged breaths.  He then leaned his aching head against one of the ice dome’s walls before commenting in surprise,  “Ooh, that feels rather nice, actually.”

 


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#89 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 12:31 PM

Take be’er aim an’ shewt slower, or I’ll really slam yer head into a wull.

 

Katrina ignored the Barbarian Woman: Not out of spite, but because she couldn't understand what the woman had just said.

 

The fight did not last long after the three of them arrived. Their combined efforts left the Revenant in three pieces, with an arrow protruding from one of it's eyes.

 

As Katrina retreated her arrows Stevan remarked to her: "If you care about your friend, you should come with us back to the inn. We need to talk."

 

The Archer merely nodded, not trusting herself to speak. 

 

The group soon returned to the alley, where they gathered up those mages that were still alive, including the Weeping Mage.

 

Noticing that there was now a doorway in the Ice Dome, Katrina peered inside, taking in the strange scene she saw inside.

 

"Hey," she said to Capulet, who was leaning against the wall of the dome "We're headed back to the Inn, to question the Mages, I guess. Are you going to come, or..."

 

Then, she noticed how weak and frail the Inquisitor looked and asked "Hey, are you alright? I could help you back to the inn if you need assistance."



#90 Burger Warrior

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 05:29 PM

“I’ll make this as brief as I can.  Not to make this about me, but I might not be conscious enough to help you by the time we get back to the inn.  Both of you will have to remember what I tell you, and decide how much to tell the healer, if we can get one.”  He entreated the two with his eyes, still worrying more about them than himself.

 

Percula chewed her lip, not entirely sure if she should cut him off and point out he seemed to be pretty banged up himself, and that if anyone was going to be seen by a healer, it’d be Marcus, not Caiden.

 

However, Saffron didn’t get a chance before the Inquisitor lifted the cursed crossbow bolt. What Marcus had to say about the bolt as he examined it and succinctly gave his analysis was little more than what Percula already knew. If anything, it made the situation sound more dire as he mentioned the barbed obsidian tip. Saffron hadn’t really heard much about that stuff, but now she knew more than she ever wanted to.

 

Wobbling to his feet, and only barely managing to do so, Marcus wrapped the bolt in a rag from his satchel before placing them both back inside as he directed his attention back to Percula.  “It feels wrong to say this, but while we’re hidden here, Percula, a bit more magic use shouldn’t harm anyone.  I recommend a gentle water spell like back in the desert, try to flush some of the demon blood out of the wound.”  He took a few deep breaths, even standing was becoming more arduous for him, it seemed.

 

Removing his plain black cloak, he added, “I’ll stand back so the spell won’t get absorbed by my armor.”  Handing the hooded garment to Caiden, he said, “It’d be too easy to make this go away by just cleaning the wound, but it’s a good start.  You can use this to cover it afterward, while we regroup.  I doubt those were all the Hidden in this city, and we’re a bit conspicuous and isolated in here.  Most of our party left to chase down the doctor that shot us both.”  

 

Percula nodded. “Right, sounded like it…” She agreed with the latter part of Marcus’s little monologue. She headed around toward Caiden’s back, already working on conjuring some water. “When I’m done with Caid,” the pixie added, after a moment of thought, “I can help you with your wound.” Saffron glanced at the bolt still protruding from the Inquisitor’s calf. “Maybe get some of that poison out…” She murmured, almost to herself.

 

At any rate, Percula carefully began to rinse her lover’s wound with water, doing her best to get the blackened demon blood out. However, she kept an eye on the hole itself - as much as it turned her dainty stomach - and hoped that there was some ordinary blood in there. She had no plans to bleed Caiden out...

 

A few moments later, Marcus spoke up again, making Saffron glance over. She noticed he was leaning his head against the icy dome surrounding them.

 

“Ooh, that feels rather nice, actually.”

 

A spontaneous giggle escaped the pixie. “My offer to help you still stands.” She couldn’t help but call over, even as she tried to focus on healing Caiden. As serious as the situation was, Percula was dying for some kind of distraction from the increasingly gloomy reality of what was going on. Katrina’s butting in to assist Marcus - and somehow ignore both herself and Caid - was not what she was looking for.

 

-----

 

Beileag let out a growl of victory as the revenant fell to pieces beneath her own blow as well as Stevan’s. The paladin himself seemed upset they couldn’t question the creature, but the nordling was more than happy to punt its torso away for good measure. The further away its parts were, the harder it would be for some other dark magi to revive the creature. Upon doing so, Stevan reminded them all they should regroup, and Gutraidh had no problem with this. On top of that, Katrina agreed to return to them, suitably put out after the werewolf’s chidings, it seemed.

 

A grim smile spread across Beileag’s face as she trailed after Katrina on their way back, making sure the little rogue wasn’t about to to try flying again. Adrenaline still coursed through her veins, and her desire to kill wasn’t entirely gone. The thirst of battle was still there, just begging to be unleashed again.

 

So as the smaller woman headed straight towards the icy dome containing their corrupted comrade, Gutraidh trailed after her to make sure she had no plans to sabotage their efforts further. As it turned out, she tried offering help to the Inquisitor she had spot on, smacked, and smack-talked. Beileag stared for a moment, one eyebrow raised, as she stood outside the dome and out of sight of the elf and Venator within.

 

She guffawed, one heavy hand landing on Katrina’s shoulder. “Liddle late fer apologies, don’tcha think?” Gutraidh spoke, pulling the archer out of the dome and away from the Inquisitor. “Unless yer thinkin’ of sneakin’ a dagger ‘etween his ribs while yer ‘helping’ him.” She said in a low, warning tone as she approached the entrance to the dome herself. The huge woman hesitated, however, remembering the horrifying sight of Caiden being transformed. Bold a warrior as she was, demons were… they were something else. Beileag swallowed hard, but offered a hand to Marcus.

“I’ll give you a ‘and out if you can git to it.” She offered with a weak grin.

 

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#91 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 06:58 PM

“I’ll make this as brief as I can.  Not to make this about me, but I might not be conscious enough to help you by the time we get back to the inn.  Both of you will have to remember what I tell you, and decide how much to tell the healer, if we can get one.”  Marcus entreated the two with his eyes, still worrying more about them than himself.

 

As Percula chewed her lip and clearly contemplated saying something, the faintest hint of fear crossed Caiden's face at the merest mention of a healer. He looked very much like he wanted to speak, and yet he couldn't get his voice out - which was, as both of them knew all too well, not usually a problem for him, even if he was terse.

 

The Venator listened in silence to Marcus's assessment about the bolt, the tendril in his arm writhing absently.

 

“I have no way of telling if it was intended for your soul, Caiden, or to...infuse...you with whatever is laying waste to your body.”

 

Caiden said nothing, but he glanced away from the Inquisitor at those words. He remained silent as Marcus suggested cleaning the wound, but he did furrow his brow to see Marcus wobbling uneasily on his feet.

Handing the hooded garment to Caiden, he said, “It’d be too easy to make this go away by just cleaning the wound, but it’s a good start.  You can use this to cover it afterward, while we regroup.  I doubt those were all the Hidden in this city, and we’re a bit conspicuous and isolated in here.  Most of our party left to chase down the doctor that shot us both.”

 

Percula nodded. “Right, sounded like it…” She agreed with the latter part of Marcus’s little monologue. She headed around toward Caiden’s back, already working on conjuring some water. “When I’m done with Caid,” the pixie added, after a moment of thought, “I can help you with your wound.” Saffron glanced at the bolt still protruding from the Inquisitor’s calf. “Maybe get some of that poison out…” She murmured, almost to herself.

 

Caiden stiffened and sucked in a sharp breath as Percula began to clean the wound. "I - I don't know if..." he started hesitantly, swallowing mid-sentence.

 

He didn't need to finish. Percula quickly realized something that made her go pale: any demon blood that was on the bolt was almost certainly black, but there was no red blood to be found. The more she cleaned, the more black blood came out. Caiden shuddered, and Percula knew she had to stop.

 

The moment she backed off, Caiden opened his mouth to say something more as he looked at Marcus again, who now stood with his head leaned back against the ice - but he was stopped the moment he saw that they were no longer alone. Katrina and Beileag both entered to offer Marcus some aid, and that instantly made Caiden clam up about whatever else he was about to impart.

 

One thing was for certain that Percula noticed: people suddenly showing up was making him uneasy. The tendril in his arm twisted, and he turned his face away from Katrina and Beileag, his nostrils flaring.

 

((Burgs: see PMs))


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#92 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 12:04 PM

Percula headed around toward Caiden’s back, already working on conjuring some water. “When I’m done with Caid,” the pixie added, after a moment of thought, “I can help you with your wound.” Saffron glanced at the bolt still protruding from the Inquisitor’s thigh. “Maybe get some of that poison out…” She murmured, almost to herself.

 

A weak smile on his face, the weary Inquisitor asked, “Is it that obvious?”  Some bitter laughter escaped his lips as he deflected, “Fear not, I should still have some time.  Focus on Caiden.  I’ll just consider apologizing to anyone I’ve shot or ordered shot with a crossbow.  Even ignoring the cowardly poison, it’s not the pleasantly painless sensation I imagined.”

 

Following his significantly more pleasant experience with the icy dome, a spontaneous giggle escaped the pixie. “My offer to help you still stands.” She couldn’t help but call over, even as she tried to focus on healing Caiden.

 

Marcus mulled over another witty retort, only to be interrupted by Katrina’s unlooked-for offer to help.  He was immediately suspicious, considering she had insulted and assaulted him mere moments ago, but a guffaw and a heavy hand on Katrina’s shoulder. “Liddle late fer apologies, don’tcha think?”  A gruff, yet still feminine voice told Marcus that he had once again been saved by the strange Nordling woman.

 

Before long, she appeared in the makeshift doorway.  “I’ll give you a ‘and out if you can git to it.” She offered with a weak grin.  Taking her hand as firmly as he could, he smiled warmly, if a bit weakly. “Again, I must thank you.  I’m Marcus, not sure if I mentioned that earlier.”

 

Whatever response she made was soon drowned out by Caiden’s sharp gasp.  Marcus’ gaze snapped to where Percula was withdrawing in horror, her attempts to clean the wound met with yet more dark, demonic blood.  Their eyes met in dread as they both came to a similar conclusion: the blood was coming from Caiden, not the bolt!

 

Leaning on his halberd and clasping his free hand back to his forehead, Marcus gasped, “Oh gods, no no nonono, this is worse than I thought!”  Turning back to Beileag, sheer urgency and terror all over his face, he beseeched, “Quickly, I need you to bring Captain Stevan, the male Templar with the round shield, here at once.  Tell him I said no one, and I mean NO ONE ELSE gets within 10 paces of this dome.  Then get yourselves and the mage prisoners back to the Inn.  Ask for Sarael and Plexaura, they’ll help you take charge of them.”  

 

Jerking his head toward the outside, where she’d yanked Katrina, he then leaned in and added with a whisper,” Keep an eye on slappy out there, she might try to free her friend.”

 

Then, looking deep into Beileag’s eyes, he concluded, “And tell all our friends, please, to pray.  Pray to every god or goddess you follow that we can save Caiden.”

 

With that, the wounded Inquisitor leaned his weapon on a nearby ice wall and limped over to Caiden’s side, a shaky but reassuring hand on both his and Percula’s shoulders.  “I’ll stay with you, to help however I can.  Caiden, tell me everything you can about what you’re going through.  Stevan and I will need every detail to deal with this.”  He could not decide whether to call it an infection or possession, but either way, Caiden was truly changing before his eyes, and he had no desire to let the evil process run its course.


Edited by Lord_Capulet, 24 October 2016 - 01:24 PM.

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#93 Burger Warrior

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 12:41 PM

A weak smile on his face, the weary Inquisitor asked, “Is it that obvious?”  Some bitter laughter escaped his lips as he deflected, “Fear not, I should still have some time.  Focus on Caiden.  I’ll just consider apologizing to anyone I’ve shot or ordered shot with a crossbow.  Even ignoring the cowardly poison, it’s not the pleasantly painless sensation I imagined.”

 

The pixie bit her lip at that and nodded, returning her attention to her lover. Caiden stiffened and sucked in a sharp breath as Percula began to clean the wound. "I - I don't know if..." he started hesitantly, swallowing mid-sentence.

 

He didn't need to finish. Perky soon ceased her attempts to clean the wound as she realized there was no normal blood. There was far more black, corrupted stuff than could have been coated on a crossbow bolt, anyway. He’d always had demon blood flowing through his veins.

 

A low moan escaped Saffron’s lips as she backed away, though she was trying to come up with some kind of reassurance for Caiden when a couple of newcomers - the huge northern woman and Katrina - began to peek inside. It didn’t take a genius to see that people suddenly showing up was making Caiden uneasy. The tendril in his arm twisted, and he turned his face away from Katrina and Beileag, his nostrils flaring. Percula quickly laid a hand on his arm squeezing Caid’s bicep - and trying not to get distracted by the size of the thing - in an attempt to ease him.

 

As Caiden murmured a few things, far too quietly for anyone else to hear - much less notice - Percula nodded. “I’ll handle it.” She assured him quietly. “You just… stay put, okay? Er, or find a place to hide. I’ll have to remove the snowglobe sooner than later…” Saffron realized aloud, giving him another gentle squeeze on the arm before moving away. The disguised pixie made her way over to Marcus, freezing when the man finally noticed Caid’s blackened blood still oozing from his wound.

 

Their eyes met.

 

Leaning on his halberd and clasping his free hand back to his halberd, Marcus gasped, “Oh gods, no no nonono, this is worse than I thought!”  Turning back to Beileag, sheer urgency and terror all over his face, but he managed to give her some orders. When she and Katrina finally left, Percula managed to pull herself together enough to try approaching the Inquisitor.

 

However, the wounded Inquisitor leaned his weapon on a nearby ice wall and limped over to Caiden’s side, a shaky but reassuring hand on both his and Percula’s shoulders.  “I’ll stay with you, to help however I can.  Caiden, tell me everything you can about what you’re going through.  Stevan and I will need every detail to deal with this.”

 

Saffron’s hands rested on Marcus’s pauldrons. “I can get that for you,” she assured him. “You should go find yourself a healer while I clean all this up, though.” She said, glancing at Caiden briefly. “Caid’s stable, but you’ve still got poison in you…” The pixie frowned. “...My offer to help that still stands, if you take some of this anti-magic stuff off.” Percula added, rapping a knuckle on the back of his armor.

 

-----

 

“Again, I must thank you.  I’m Marcus, not sure if I mentioned that earlier.”

 

Beileag was about to introduce herself in kind when Marcus suddenly stopped and stared at something - presumably the corrupted Venator - out of her sight. The nordling tensed, herself, readying her bardiche… but was disappointed as no attack came. Instead, Capulet turned to her, giving her a number of requests.

 

“Quickly, I need you to bring Captain Stevan, the male Templar with the round shield, here at once.  Tell him I said no one, and I mean NO ONE ELSE gets within 10 paces of this dome.  Then get yourselves and the mage prisoners back to the Inn.  Ask for Sarael and Plexaura, they’ll help you take charge of them.”

 

Whilst Gutraidh nodded in understanding, the Inquisitor jerked his head toward the outside, where she’d yanked Katrina, he then leaned in and added with a whisper, “Keep an eye on slappy out there, she might try to free her friend.”

 

Beileag smirked, relaxing her grip on her enormous polearm. “She c’n try.”

 

Then, looking deep into Beileag’s eyes, he concluded, “And tell all our friends, please, to pray.  Pray to every god or goddess you follow that we can save Caiden.”

 

“...B’n a while,” Gutraidh admitted after a moment of thought. “But w’rth a shut.” She decided with a nod, turning away. “Jus’ be careful yerself, aye?” She added over her shoulder.

 

-----

 

That said, the nordling soon found Captain Stevan, giving him a small bow of her head out of respect. He’d certainly proved himself enough in combat to earn that. “Cap’n,” she said. “Marcus sed ta keep well clear o’ tha’ dome, there,” Beileag gestured to the icy dome Percula had constructed, “an’ to wait fer ‘em back at tha’ inn with our pris’ners… an’ ta pray fer Caid’n.”


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#94 Sareth

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 03:00 PM

Between the four of them, the doctor —apparently some kind of undead, as it turned out— went down in moments.

 

'I guess I can add 'corpse re-slayer' to my list of achievements' Neitha thought lightly.

 

"Good work."

 

"Nice timing" she replied to Stevan, with a nod of her own.

 

She then followed Stevan back to where they had left the others, though she took a brief detour to retrieve the mambele that she'd thrown at the doctor during the chase. When she made it back to the alley, she was momentarily confused an concerned at the fact that Marcus wasn't anywhere in sight, before she noticed that the dome of ice now had an opening in it, and figured he must be inside. Unfortunately, the big northern woman was standing in the opening, blocking it with her bulk, leaving Neitha frustrated —she wanted to check on Marcus.

 

I’ll give you a ‘and out if you can git to it.

 

She gritted her teeth slightly, as she heard the other woman's offer —that was her job, damnit! 

 

Oh gods, no no nonono, this is worse than I thought! Quickly, I need you to bring Captain Stevan, the male Templar with the round shield, here at once. Tell him I said no one, and I mean NO ONE ELSE gets within 10 paces of this dome.  Then get yourselves and the mage prisoners back to the Inn. Ask for Sarael and Plexaura, they’ll help you take charge of them... And tell all our friends, please, to pray. Pray to every god or goddess you follow that we can save Caiden.”

 

Neitha blanched slightly at Marcus' words, wondering just what in hell was going on in there. So, the moment the northwoman left to do as he'd said, she immediately ducked inside the dome, hardly sparing Caiden even the briefest of glances as she watched Marcus unsteadily limp over to him and Percula.

 

I’ll stay with you, to help however I can. Caiden, tell me everything you can about what you’re going through. Stevan and I will need every detail to deal with this.”

 

“I can get that for you. You should go find yourself a healer while I clean all this up, though. Caid’s stable, but you’ve still got poison in you... My offer to help that still stands, if you take some of this anti-magic stuff off.” 

 

Another brief flash of jealousy flared in her, before she quashed it. Percula wasn't interested in Marcus, and despite how annoying she could sometimes be, it seemed she was honestly trying to help for once. "Marcus, take the offer" she said sternly, stepping forwards and gripping one of his arms gently, but firmly. "You've done enough for now, you can't keep ignoring yourself!" she said quietly, though one could clearly hear how upset she was from her tone. "Now, sit down and let her help you."

 

***

 

Sarael continued to push the frozen blacksmith back to the inn.


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#95 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 05:56 PM

Beileag soon found Captain Stevan, giving him a small bow of her head out of respect. He’d certainly proved himself enough in combat to earn that. “Cap’n,” she said. “Marcus sed ta keep well clear o’ tha’ dome, there,” Beileag gestured to the icy dome Percula had constructed, “an’ to wait fer ‘em back at tha’ inn with our pris’ners… an’ ta pray fer Caid’n.”

 

Stevan nodded, his face grim. "Understood," he said, though not without the weight of sorrow in his voice. "I'm not sure what we'll tell Caiden's sister when we get there, but we should catch up to Sarael... Take care of that one for me?" he said, nodding back to the Hidden One priest with the broken arm, who stood there quietly, pale and cowed.

 

Beileag, Katrina, and Stevan then promptly set off back toward the inn, with the Hidden false priest in tow, and with the Weeping Mage, still unconscious, slung over one of Stevan's shoulders. They quickly caught up to Sarael as she pushed the frozen blacksmith along.

 

They made good time back to the inn. As they all entered, they found Plexaura, Zac, and even Kye sitting around one of the tables, having some drinks - but they immediately turned as everyone entered, hauling or pushing prisoners along. Zac's eyes went wide and he started to his feet, and Kye nearly mimicked the entire motion, whereas Plexaura rose slowly and stared.

 

Stevan helped Sarael shove the frozen blacksmith inside, shaking his head.

 

"Why... how...?" Zac sputtered.

 

"Long story," said Stevan. "They're all Hidden Ones. Did you have any luck with that tome?"

 

"Zac solved the whole thing," Plexaura replied. "But we should probably take this somewhere a bit more private, even if nobody else is around at this hour."

 

---

 

They all hauled the prisoners up to an inn room, tying the Weeping Mage and the false priest to chairs and setting the frozen blacksmith aside to thaw. Given how long he had been frozen now, it was quite likely he wasn't going to survive, even when his prison did finally melt.

 

"You might not want to stick around for this part," Stevan said, laying a hand on Zac's shoulder. The clerk blinked, still in shock over seeing a man frozen solid, before he showed his hands as if in defeat and nodded.

 

"Y-yeah... clearly," Zac said slowly, looking like he wanted to spout a million questions and only just holding himself back. "I did crack that code, though - and it's definitely important, so, uh, once you guys are done here, I'll... be in the other room."

 

Zac headed out, and Stevan shut and locked the door behind him before he turned back to the prisoners. Kye stood by silently, still in his human disguise and warily eying the assorted prisoners.

 

"So he turned traitor, I guess?" he said, glancing at the Weeping Mage.

 

"I don't think he ever was on our side," Stevan answered darkly. "Now..."

 

But as he turned to face the prisoners, Plexaura suddenly interrupted with one simple question that made the room fall silent.

 

"Where's Caiden?" she asked strongly, the gravity in her voice enough to sink a ship. She stood with her arms crossed, only just concealing the deep worry one might catch hints of in her voice.

 

Stevan hesitated. He swallowed and, for once, suddenly looked almost afraid. He didn't look at her. Anyone even mildly observant could tell he kept trying to form a response, but he couldn't get any of them out.

 

"Steve," Plexaura insisted, before turning and almost glaring at the others who had been there. "One of you answer me - where the hell is my brother?"

 

"Plex..." the Templar Captain started almost cautiously, "something happened..."

 

"To hell with 'something!' Where is he!?"

 

---

 

“I’ll handle it.” Percula assured him quietly. “You just… stay put, okay? Er, or find a place to hide. I’ll have to remove the snowglobe sooner than later…” Saffron realized aloud, giving him another gentle squeeze on the arm before moving away.

 

Caiden didn't say a word, though he did shift around self-consciously - and he turned to look at the way Percula and Marcus regarded each other... right before Marcus gasped.

 

“Oh gods, no no nonono, this is worse than I thought! Quickly, I need you to bring Captain Stevan, the male Templar with the round shield, here at once. Tell him I said no one, and I mean NO ONE ELSE gets within 10 paces of this dome.  Then get yourselves and the mage prisoners back to the Inn. Ask for Sarael and Plexaura, they’ll help you take charge of them... And tell all our friends, please, to pray. Pray to every god or goddess you follow that we can save Caiden.”

 

Caiden curled his hands into fists and growled something in his throat, but he didn't say a word. When Marcus limped over to him and rested a hand on his and Percula's shoulders, the Venator's nostrils flared again. He seemed to wince and turned his face away from Marcus in all too apparent shame.

 

“I’ll stay with you, to help however I can.  Caiden, tell me everything you can about what you’re going through.  Stevan and I will need every detail to deal with this.”

 

Saffron’s hands rested on Marcus’s pauldrons. “I can get that for you,” she assured him. “You should go find yourself a healer while I clean all this up, though.” She said, glancing at Caiden briefly. “Caid’s stable, but you’ve still got poison in you…” The pixie frowned. “...My offer to help that still stands, if you take some of this anti-magic stuff off.” Percula added, rapping a knuckle on the back of his armor.

 

And then, suddenly, Neitha appeared as well, coming over to join the rest of them. "Marcus, take the offer" she said sternly, stepping forwards and gripping one of his arms gently, but firmly. "You've done enough for now, you can't keep ignoring yourself!" she said quietly, though one could clearly hear how upset she was from her tone. "Now, sit down and let her help you."

 

Caiden, who hadn't spoken this entire while, suddenly said in a surprisingly controlled voice, "Percula, help Marcus. I'll... be fine."

 

For several more moments, Caiden merely stood there, not looking at any of them, motionless except for the occasional writhing of the tendril in his arm...

 

But the moment they lowered Marcus to the floor, the moment Percula and Neitha gathered around him to lend him aid - the moment everyone was thoroughly occupied with something else, Caiden acted in one sudden movement. He whirled to face the opening in the ice dome and set off at an incredible run. Without a single word, he made for one of the nearby buildings, his eye on a lower portion of the roof, ready to leap up to it and keep moving. It was clear he didn't plan to stop - or speak to anyone.

 

 

((Just to fully clarify character locations...

 

Sarael, Beileag, Katrina, and the Weeping Mage (who is still in void iron shackles and also tied to a chair, though he is now conscious and capable of speech, if still a bit dazed) are all back at the inn with Stevan, Plexaura, Zac (who is in another room from everyone else), Kye, and the other two prisoners, the frozen blacksmith and the false priest.

 

Marcus, Neitha, and Percula are still at the alley with Caiden (who is currently attempting to make an escape).))


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#96 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 01:59 PM

...B’n a while,” Gutraidh admitted after a moment of thought. “But w’rth a shut.” She decided with a nod, turning away. “Jus’ be careful yerself, aye?” She added over her shoulder.

 

A weary smile on his face, Marcus waved back silently.  There were more pressing concerns at hand than his own weakness.  Still, he appreciated the concern, even if he was failing to express it at the moment.

 

---

 
 

Saffron’s hands rested on Marcus’s pauldrons. “I can get that for you,” she assured him. “You should go find yourself a healer while I clean all this up, though.” She said, glancing at Caiden briefly. “Caid’s stable, but you’ve still got poison in you…” The pixie frowned. “...My offer to help that still stands, if you take some of this anti-magic stuff off.” Percula added, rapping a knuckle on the back of his armor.

 

The Inquisitor shook his head as emphatically as possible through his ever-growing stupor, a relative speed that a drunken tortoise might find frustrating.  Marcus then retorted with a bit more slurring, “I’d hardly call bleeding black st...stable.  An officer of the Ebonguard duzh not falter while his men are in danger…”

 
 

"Marcus, take the offer" Neitha said sternly, stepping forwards and gripping one of his arms gently, but firmly. "You've done enough for now, you can't keep ignoring yourself!" she said quietly, though one could clearly hear how upset she was from her tone. "Now, sit down and let her help you."

 

The wounded veteran grumbled unintelligibly until Caiden himself added "Percula, help Marcus. I'll... be fine."   Apparently satisfied upon hearing his friend’s consent, Marcus allowed himself to be lowered to the ground.

 

He murmured to Neitha with a woozily hopeful grin, “Glad you...made it back, dear.  Was doctor...co...co-op...helpful?”  Frustration began to tug at the edges of his face, he clearly did not enjoy being so inarticulate.

 

It did not take long for a new source of frustration to present itself when Caiden made to escape.  Marcus’ hazy mind still pieced together that he intended to isolate himself for the others’ protection, and caring for Marcus was his opportunity.  Pointing weakly at the door, he interrupted Neitha’s response in alarm, “I’m...distraction.  Caiden running!”


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#97 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 03:03 PM

The Weeping Mage knew at once that he was unconscious, because he was floating in darkness.

 

Slowly, something materialized in front of him: it was a large, blue crystal. The thing was a thin sliver, barely twelve inches wide at its widest, and even as he watched, small, minuscule fragments broke off and floated away. The Mage realized that this somehow represented his soul.

 

"Weak."

 

Charon turned his head and saw a woman with features similar to his own. She was dressed in the robes of a priest of Apollo, and her cruel smile told the Weeping Mage that this was his mother.

 

"You're so pathetic," the woman taunted "you were a waste of time. I never should have tricked you into accepting the power of Ozystia: I should have just killed you."

 

"Mother, I..." 

 

But she was gone, and in her place, was Jade: the Magic user from Arrowfall who the Inquisitor Channeler, Durante, had killed.

 

"If you were stronger," she said as blood suddenly cascaded from the wound that was caused by the dagger which was lodged firmly in her heart "I wouldn't have died."

 

She too disappeared, to be replaced by Osgar, the Necromancer who Charon had helped to defeat.

 

"I can't believe that you and the others were able to defeat me," the Vampire sneered as he disintegrated into ashes "I must have been weaker than I thought. Good thing my traitorous leuitenant was there, or else you would have died!"

 

In his place stood Slyvanus, hooded and robed as he had been in Arrowfall.

 

"I shouldn't have let you join our cause," he said, shaking his head and extending his arm "You've done nothing but fail ever since you started out on this mission. Get out of my sight, you wretch."

 

The Mage tried to move, but something held him back. He turned, and saw a mass of people holding onto him: they all were people, mages, Inquisitors, and undead creautures that he had met, fought, and killed in his travels. Several looked like members of the team that had been tasked to find the Faustus Tome, but horrible disfigured.

 

As they dragged him away, Charon turned and saw that Slyvanus had been replaced by Ozystia herself. The Demon Queen of Sorrow raised her hands into the air, wings extending behind her, and shrieked:

 

"To hell with 'something!' Where is he!?"

 

---

 

With the help of a torch, Katrina was trying rather hopelessly to thaw the Hidden Blacksmith when the Weeping Mage suddenly jerked awake with such force that his chair fell over.

 

Handing the torch to one of the others, the Archer quickly righted her friends chair.

 

The Mage groaned and looked at her, muttering "Huh? Wh...where am I...?"

 

"In a lot of trouble with the others, I'm afraid." Katrina said simply, moving away from Charon so he could get a good look at the rather angry-looking Plexura.

 

"Oh, crap." the Mage said, his eyes widening as he looked at the Channeler.

 

Everything had gone from bad to worse.



#98 Burger Warrior

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 06:10 PM

Caiden curled his hands into fists and growled something in his throat, but he didn't say a word while Marcus limped over to him. When the Inquisitor rested a hand on his and Percula's shoulders, the Venator's nostrils flared again. He seemed to wince and turned his face away from Marcus in all too apparent shame. Percula tried to knead one of his shoulders gently, murmuring a quiet reassurance.

 

And then, suddenly, Neitha appeared as well, coming over to join the rest of them. "Marcus, take the offer" she said sternly, apparently regarding Saffron’s offer, stepping forwards and gripping one of his arms gently, but firmly. "You've done enough for now, you can't keep ignoring yourself!" she said quietly, though one could clearly hear how upset she was from her tone. "Now, sit down and let her help you."

 

Caiden, who hadn't spoken this entire while, suddenly said in a surprisingly controlled voice, "Percula, help Marcus. I'll... be fine."

 

She nodded, helping Neitha let Marcus down to the ground so they could get a better look at his leg. For several more moments, Caiden merely stood there, not looking at any of them, motionless except for the occasional writhing of the tendril in his arm… that was a little distracting, Percula had to admit. I can get used to it, as long as-

 

But the moment they lowered Marcus to the floor, the moment Percula and Neitha gathered around him to lend him aid - the moment everyone was thoroughly occupied with something else, Caiden acted in one sudden movement. He whirled to face the opening in the ice dome and set off at an incredible run. Without a single word, he made for one of the nearby buildings, his eye on a lower portion of the roof, ready to leap up to it and keep moving. It was clear he didn't plan to stop - or speak to anyone.

 

“I’m...distraction.  Caiden running!” Marcus managed, albeit unnecessarily. By the time he was done, a stunned Perky managed to regain control of her motor functions.

 

“I’ve got him!” She assured Neitha, loosening her cape’s clasp and letting it flutter off altogether. It was just going to slow her down, and if Caiden was running around looking like a monster it hardly mattered if a pixie was chasing him. But that brought her mind to the topic of actually catching Caid. Even as she did, the frost magic she initially planned on using died on her fingertips. I… I can’t do that.

 

Percula’s hesitation let Caiden extend his lead a little further before she simply continued to sprint after him. He’s clearly just panicking, so… so freezing him won’t help at all. It couldn’t. Guh, I know a dozen ways I could help him relax and think this through and realize this is a mistake, and none of them work while he’s still running. The pixie grit her teeth, her fists clenching. And I… don’t have a way to stop him, do I?

 

...You say that like you don’t have a voice, Perky. “Caid!” She called, albeit a tad sharply. Dammit! “Caiden, please just… stop!”

 

Having the feeling that wouldn’t work, Percula leapt forward and upward, her insectoid wings buzzing as they flicked out and kept her airborne - though just a foot or so off the ground, really - helping her move a little faster than before.

 

-----

 

Fortunately, Stevan understood Beileag as he nodded, his face grim. "Understood," he said, though not without the weight of sorrow in his voice. "I'm not sure what we'll tell Caiden's sister when we get there, but we should catch up to Sarael... Take care of that one for me?" he said, nodding back to the Hidden One priest with the broken arm, who stood there quietly, pale and cowed.

 

The nordling nodded, cracking her knuckles as she approached the priest and caught him by the arms. “Don’ mek this harder, warl’ck.” She said, guiding him along after the others.

 

They made good time back to the inn, regardless of any attempts the priest dared to attempt to escape. As they all entered, they found Plexaura, Zac, and even Kye sitting around one of the tables, having some drinks - but they immediately turned as everyone entered, hauling or pushing prisoners along. Zac's eyes went wide and he started to his feet, and Kye nearly mimicked the entire motion, whereas Plexaura rose slowly and stared.

 

Stevan helped Sarael shove the frozen blacksmith inside, shaking his head.

 

"Why... how...?" Zac sputtered. Somebody clearly hadn’t seen elf magi at work. Then again, neither had Beileag before today.

 

Stevan left him with a lack of explanation, managing to get the Inquisitor woman to let them know how the decoding had gone. As it turned out, the cute, tall, blond boy had figured it all out. Beileag grinned, guiding her prisoner along as they all headed upstairs.

 

Stevan directed the ‘Zac’ fellow out, and Beileag was tempted to join him, feeling somewhat uncomfortable as she was back to being surrounded by people she didn’t know well, with no common enemy to directly fight at the moment. Unless, of course, they got to resort to torture…

 

But where was the fun in that, really? They couldn’t exactly fight back.

 

As they began to discuss what was coming up next, the Inquisitor demanded to see ‘Caiden’. Beileag had put together who that was, and realized the gravity - not to mention awkwardness - of the situation very quickly. Their own resident Templar captain clearly did, too.

 

"Steve," Plexaura insisted, before turning and almost glaring at the others who had been there. "One of you answer me - where the hell is my brother?"

 

"Plex..." the Templar Captain started almost cautiously, "something happened..."

 

"To hell with 'something!' Where is he!?"

 

The nordling finally lifted her hands in a show of innocence. “‘E shuld be followin’ us, lass.” She said. “But, ah…” She hesitated. “...I’m nut quite… sure what happen’d, meself.” She admitted truthfully enough. Blatantly saying the man had been turned into some kind of… demonic monstrosity hardly seemed polite, nor helpful. Saying nothing was, she decided, the best way to avoid being the blunt bearer of bad news and the newcomer.


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#99 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 10:29 PM

Given her concern for her brother, however, Plexaura neither noticed nor cared when the Weeping Mage somehow knocked his chair over, or any exchange between him and Katrina. She was focused on Stevan, at least until Beileag spoke.

The nordling finally lifted her hands in a show of innocence. “‘E shuld be followin’ us, lass.” She said. “But, ah…” She hesitated. “...I’m nut quite… sure what happen’d, meself.” She admitted truthfully enough.

 

For a split second, silence reigned... Until a livid Plexaura turned and marched toward the door. Instantly, Stevan was there - he grabbed her arm and held her back.

 

"Plex," he said gravely, "you can't."

 

"He's my brother. I can and I will," Plexaura snapped, wrenching her hand out of Stevan's grip and rounding on him.

 

"You can't because he's not himself," Stevan blurted before he barely even knew he had. Plexaura froze, and the Captain kept talking. "Something happened to him - he changed."

 

The channeler narrowed her eyes, and Stevan's nostrils flared.

 

"He changed demonically. I'm sorry - I don't know a gentler way to put it, and I wish to Astra I did. Caid is cursed, and he started mutating into something else because of something the Hidden did, but there's nothing we can do for him right now. Marcus and the others are still with him, and Capulet gave strict orders that no one's to go near him until he says otherwise. That includes you."

 

Plexaura didn't move, but a strange fire burned in her eyes. Stevan rested his hands on her shoulders.

 

"Especially you," Stevan finished in almost a whisper. "I'm sorry, Plex," he said again, his voice softer this time. "We'll all do everything we can to help him, but he isn't alone out there. You may be his sister, but we're all his friends... We won't give up on him. Marcus knows how to judge when he's stable, and he and the others will bring him here as soon as it's safe. For now, all we can do is pray."

 

The channeler didn't say a word. For a moment longer, she just stood there, her gaze downcast. When she did move, she suddenly pulled Stevan into a hug. At first, the Templar seemed incredibly self-conscious, his gaze flicking over to the others in the room, but he still didn't hesitate to put her arms around her in an embrace of his own.

 

Not even the Hidden One priest dared to break the silence. But as Plexaura finally relinquished her hug with Stevan, Kye took a small step forward.

 

"I might be able to help him," he said almost cautiously. "Whenever the others bring him here, I'll... I'll do what I can."

 

"I'd appreciate that," Plexaura said, her voice low and almost monotone in an all too apparent struggle to keep her emotions concealed and in check.

 

"In the meantime," Stevan said as he returned his attention to the prisoners, "we have something else to deal with. That blacksmith is probably already dead, and may the gods have mercy on his soul. But you two," he looked at the Weeping Mage and the false priest, "need to answer some questions."

 

"I - I don't know much," the false priest whimpered instantly. "But I do know what the Hidden are after-- I can't tell you, they'll... they'll kill me - but I can show you."

 

Stevan crossed his arms. "Last time we let someone 'show' us something, we walked right into a trap."

 

"I swear - I swear on my father's own grave I wouldn't do that. I swear. I want to set things right. I - I pretended to be a priest, and I saw things, I saw people-- I saw what demons can do to people, and I saw both sides of it..."

 

"So you aren't going to help us unless you're leading us someplace."

 

The false priest froze for a second before he suddenly nodded.

 

"Then we'll deal with you in a minute," he sighed. "But first: do you know anything about what your allies did to Caiden?"

 

"I--I'm sorry, sir, I swear I don't. I'm - I'm not... I'm new - I don't know about all those... all those curses and that black magic. I was going to start learning it soon, but I hesitated, and they said - said I was weak, because I didn't want to sell my soul... Thought they were going to kill me right then."

 

"Fine," Plexaura snapped, before turning to the Weeping Mage. "What about this one?"

 

Stevan's gaze went to the Weeping Mage as Plexaura directed attention toward him. "Start talking," said the Templar, looking the Weeping Mage in the eye. "Tell us everything: who you work for, what happened to Caiden, what your mission is... All of it."

 

---

 

“Caid!” Percula called, albeit a tad sharply. “Caiden, please just… stop!”

 

Caiden didn't respond or look back at her, though she did notice him seem to duck his head slightly, as if trying not to listen. Percula knew she would have to pick up the pace, taking to her wings to catch up...

 

But something made him stumble. He tried to keep his footing and barely stayed upright, but it slowed his run to a halt as he doubled over with a choked yell, groaning as he raised his spasmodically trembling hands before his face - but he pinched his eye shut and gasped for breath, trying to fight through the pain.

 

As Percula reached him, she watched the spikes on his back lengthen somewhat with a wretched sound of bone grinding against flesh, and she saw more black blood stain the edges of his clothing where the spines had pierced through. She saw something else now - something threatening to rip through the toe of his left boot, and something else, no doubt another thick, bony spike, forming a painful bulge under his skin just at the bone of his left elbow.

 

Caiden shook his head, having trouble getting his breath back. His skin - even the demonically corrupted flesh - looked pale, and blood kept leaking down his back from the bolt wound.

 

"Percula - j... just get away from me," he half gasped, half groaned, not turning around to face her. "Go back - help Marcus. He's not a damned... monster..."

 

Even for as long as she had known him, Percula had never heard his voice as it sounded now - so unsteady, so uneven - uncontrolled, and dripping with so much fear and hatred she almost felt horror at his tone alone, just to wonder what he was thinking to sound this way. She heard something else as well: irrational panic and overwhelming emotion, to the point that even Caiden's resolve had broken... or had it?

 

Despite how weak he clearly was from blood loss and the pain of the mutations, Caiden forced himself to push through it. He looked back at her barely long enough for Percula to catch a glimpse of his one blue eye, bloodshot and terrified, before he made another run toward the building. He would reach it in seconds.


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#100 Burger Warrior

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 02:31 AM

While Percula’s pace sped up - thanks in no small part to her low flying - something made Caiden stumble. He tried to keep his footing and barely stayed upright, but it slowed his run to a halt as he doubled over with a choked yell, groaning as he raised his spasmodically trembling hands before his face - but he pinched his eye shut and gasped for breath, trying to fight through the pain.

 

As Percula reached him, she watched… everything get worse. The spines in his back stretched and squeezed more blood out of Caid, while limps steadily grew from his elbow and the toe of his boot. More spikes, the pixie would’ve wagered if she was that kind of girl. As it was, she just prayed to the spirits she was wrong.

 

Hell, she found herself praying to gods, too. That was new.

 

Caiden shook his head, having trouble getting his breath back. His skin - even the demonically corrupted flesh - looked pale, and blood kept leaking down his back from the bolt wound.

 

"Percula - j... just get away from me," he half gasped, half groaned, not turning around to face her. "Go back - help Marcus. He's not a damned... monster..."

 

There was more emotion - and all of it negative - in Caiden’s voice than ever before. It was enough to make Percula hesitate for a second. Only for a second. I’m running out of options...

 

“You’re not a monster.” The pixie decided, landing just behind him. “Marcus has help. Let me help you, Caid.” She asked-- no, pleaded.

 

He looked back at her barely long enough for Percula to catch a glimpse of his one blue eye, bloodshot and terrified, before he made another run toward the building. He would reach it in seconds.

Plex would kill her if he got away. Saffron would, if it was the other way around.

 

She was out of options.

 

“Caid, I-- I’m sorry!” Percula said, unleashing a freezing blast of ice magic before she could make the mistake of stopping herself, again.

 

-----

 

Beileag found herself holding her breath as silence reigned for a moment... Until a livid Plexaura turned and marched toward the door. Instantly, Stevan was there - he grabbed her arm and held her back.

 

His attempts to convince her to back down didn’t work at first… but then he explained the nature of the change. Gutraidh was relieved she hadn’t been pressed to convey the news, though she would’ve. Sometimes people just had to be told things bluntly. Unless it was something like-

 

Forget that. Hardly remember any of it, anyway.

 

Stevan and Plexaura hugging brought Beileag out of her thoughts and immediately punched a hole in her soul. She gritted her teeth, feeling awfully vulnerable as she looked off to one side. She’d have left if the doors weren’t locked and if going outside wasn’t a terrible idea. It sounded like the rain was letting up, and if the moon was shining… this island didn’t need more problems on top of the local mage cult.

 

The others’ attempts to interrogate the captured members of said cult returned Gutraidh to the there and then once more, and this time she made a conscious effort to pay attention. Unfortunately, she had to listen to the already broken ‘priest’s whining before all eyes turned to their dark magi ‘friend.’ Beileag slowly came over, gritting her teeth.

 

“Or dun’t tell us.” She said, crossing her enormous arms. “I’d luv ta choke you ag’in.” The werewolf grinned.

 

And just you try blackmailing me now, mage.


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