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ZONE - Artorius ((Chasing Shadows - Epilogue))


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#41 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 06:47 PM

A faked murder scene, guards being called away, and a general air of suspicion lingering in the air.  Marcus knew a set-up when he saw one, but he was having trouble deducing who was behind this, or what the point was.  Still, tactics like these could only confuse the guards and spread them thin, perfect for a subversive group like the Coven.  They would all need to be on the alert.

 

Upon regrouping with the other back at the inn, Caiden, at least, had some positive progress to report.  Carlon had also returned, with a fierce-looking northwoman in tow for some reason, but Marcus merely glanced neutrally at them before focusing on their leader’s update.

 

"We found the book. The clerk, Zacynthos, is going to help us figure out if there's a message hidden inside," he said, keeping things slightly vague, perhaps for the reason of Beileag being present. "And when he finds it, he'll inform us."

 

Marcus nodded and grinned in delight, but said nothing as the newcome clerk piped up.

 

"Message, huh?" Zac said with interest. "I bet I could find it, if there is one, but it might take some time, depending on what exactly the message is..."

 

"That's fine. Just don't take too long. If anyone here who can read thinks they can help him speed things up," Caiden added to those present, "feel free."

 

Not long afterward, Stevan got the rest of the group caught up on their efforts with the local law enforcement, along with even more new developments that caught Marcus’ ear.  "I've found something. There've been systematic crimes confined to the area around that watchtower. A butcher's shop was robbed and some raw meat was stolen. A blacksmith was almost robbed, but the criminal was caught because the watch captain ordered guards there in time - somehow. Sounds shifty to me."

 

Nodding slowly and gravely, Marcus interjected, “Agreed.  Someone’s definitely trying to keep the local guards spread out and distracted, which doesn’t bode well for them OR us.”

 

He nodded toward a window and added, "The watch captain should be back on duty at that tower soon, and I think we need to go question him... something about that whole situation isn't right. But for now, we've worked hard enough, so anyone who wants a drink before we set out again, they're on me."

 

Gladly accepting, Capulet rose to procure one of the filled tankards.  As everyone else otherwise occupied themselves, however, Stevan approached Marcus. "Inquisitor Capulet," he said respectfully, "a word?"

 

His tone, of course, heavily implied he wanted a word in private.

Marcus had already begun sipping the offered ale, but quickly composed himself, wiping his mouth with a cloth before quietly answering, “Of course, Captain.”  Setting down the tankard and asking the innkeeper to watch it for his eventual return, the Inquisitor motioned for Stevan to lead the way.


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#42 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 07:26 PM

"She's Belieag," the Weeping Mage said. "A Northern Woman who agreed to help us in exchange for money."

 

Caiden's face remained utterly stony. "Only your money," he said, his tone simple rather than angry or condescending. "Mercenaries have no place in this mission."

 

To Beileag, he nodded in greeting and added a short but respectful, "You were misled in coming here, warrior. I apologize for the confusion."

 

With that, he turned his attention to the bar instead, taking a seat and scooting over a tankard the barkeep had filled. He sat and drank in silence, his back turned to everyone else as he lost himself in thought.

 

---

 

((I'm going to assume for now that Katrina went upstairs to talk to Zac, as that's where he is right now.))

 

As Katrina entered the inn room into which Zac and Plexaura had disappeared, she found that the clerk had already laid the tome out on a desk, eagerly looking over its pages. Plexaura turned when Katrina entered, giving her a nod of greeting, but Zac was absorbed in the book.

 

When Katrina approached, however, he looked at her and got to his feet, clearly trying to be polite. He offered a smile and a firm shake of her hand as she introduced herself.

 

"Hello, I'm Katrina Windborne."

 

"Nice to meet you," he replied brightly. "I'm Zacynthos of Arcadia."

 

"So, you're the Castle Cerk, eh? What's it like? Got any friends or weird co-workers?"

 

Zac shrugged; it was kind of a weird question, but he said, "Lots of weird co-workers, for sure, but some friends, too. It's, ah... not really much to it. I copy books and scrolls, and that's about it, really. But since I can read," he glanced at the book open on the table, "sometimes I get assigned to do some other jobs, too. Still, I'm usually just stuck under the castle copying stuff."

 

---

 

Marcus had already begun sipping the offered ale, but quickly composed himself, wiping his mouth with a cloth before quietly answering, “Of course, Captain.”  Setting down the tankard and asking the innkeeper to watch it for his eventual return, the Inquisitor motioned for Stevan to lead the way.

 

Stevan nodded again, turning and leading the way upstairs. He went to his room, motioning Marcus inside before entering, himself, and closing and locking the door.

 

((Cappy: see PMs.))


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#43 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 12:39 PM

 "Only your money, Mercenaries have no place in this mission."

 

The Weeping Mage would have questioned this, as he was a part of this mission and was a pusedo-mercenary, but he would rather not be pummeled into the floor by the gigantic Venator, who made the Northern Woman seem normal in comparison.

 

After the group dispersed, Charon turned to Belieag and said "I'm sorry that I mislead you, and that we found the book already, but you can stay if you wish. Maybe we can find some money to compensate you."

 

He handed the woman a rather small pouch of silver coins and said "If me and you survive to the end, I'll give you more"

 

---

 

"Lots of weird co-workers, for sure, but some friends, too. It's, ah... not really much to it. I copy books and scrolls, and that's about it, really. But since I can read, sometimes I get assigned to do some other jobs, too. Still, I'm usually just stuck under the castle copying stuff."

 

Katrina perked up at this "Really? You can read? I can get by, but not too well to be a clerk. My favorite part of the book is the strange drawings you can find in some of them, like Knights fighting Giant Snails and stuff like that."

 

She glanced at the retreating form of Plexura, and asked Zac "So, how much did Caiden tell you about our mission? I don't want to tell you anything that he hasn't, or repeat anything he's said."

After the group dispersed, Charon turned to Belieag and said "I'm sorry that I mislead you, and that we found the book already, but you can stay if you wish. Maybe we can find some money to compensate you."

 

He handed the woman a rather small pouch of silver coins and said "If you and me survive to the end, I'll give you more"



#44 Burger Warrior

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 07:29 PM

Caiden grunted at Percula’s first idea. "I'm no hero, so it wouldn't be the best attempt."

 

She made a face, giving him a proper - if brief - hug around the waist. “Oh come on.” Was all the pixie actually said, though, before coming up with her second suggestion. It didn’t take too long before Caiden picked out a target, and soon Eustace was running for help while the pair of Venatori made their way back to Zac and Sarael. Guess he thinks that big doofus will need help. Percula thought, albeit jokingly. Sarael didn’t seem like a bad sort at all, even if she was a little daft.

 

They met up with the aforementioned duo as they were heading out someplace else, assumedly the castle library. Perky trailed along after everyone else, starting to take in the sights around them. The place certainly was novel to someone who grew up in a swamp and spent most of her time around humans on boats, and Saffron wondered if - once everything was settled, especially with Caid - they could come back here and have a look around. Maybe get back at Eustace if he wasn’t fired for that little ornamental incident.

 

The thought of that made the pixie feel very warm and fuzzy on the inside.

 

They finally reached the library, got the book with surprising ease from some creepy guy in robes - his weird eyes gave Percula both the chills and a good deal of suspicions - and promptly headed back out.

 

Totally creeps me out..." Zac murmured as he returned his attention to the others, holding the tome aloft for them to see. "Piece of cake," he said with a huge, bright grin.

 

Percula couldn’t help but giggle at him as Caiden took the tome, and they began to leave Zac when the scholar interrupted, offering his help. The pixie noticed her lover’s brief glance at Sarael. She couldn’t help but wonder if something particularly… scandalous had occurred while they’d been away.

 

“I mean, I have no idea what you guys are actually doing, but - it's obviously important. A Templar, a Venator, and a..." his eyes went to Percula and his breath seemed to get stuck in his throat for a moment before he looked at Caiden again and managed to finish in no small amount of wonderment, "an - an elf..."

 

Percula offered a perfectly innocent grin while Caid was lost in thought. Wow, these guys really don’t get out much. Theeen again, if they went into Rognosst they’d probably get torn apart before seeing any elves. Maybe by the elves. Some of those guys are real jerk-bags...

 

"Really, look, I know it's none of my business," Zac went on hesitantly, "but I'm always stuck down here doing nothing, and I'm good with books, and I'm..."

 

Before he could go on, Caiden nodded and answered simply, with a nod of his head, "C'mon."

 

As Caiden now led the way back out, with an eager Zac following along after them. To Sarael and Percula, Caiden murmured, "Now that he knows, we should keep him close... And maybe he could help."

 

Perky shrugged. “I don’t mind. He’s like our group pet or something.” She grinned, offering Zac a playful wink. “Do you think he likes belly rubs?”

 

-----

 

Percula kept mostly to herself as everyone met back up, quickly summarizing the current situation. She also noticed Plexaura shared her own thoughts, and giggled quietly as Zac and Plex headed upstairs together, the former looking quite embarrassed.

 

Rather than follow them, though, the disguised pixie turned to Caiden almost at the same moment Stevan came over and informed everyone about the issues with a guard captain. Apparently someone was being even more suspiciously than some weird old-ish robed man. Percula’s eyebrows knitted together in some concern at the idea, though there was the possibility it wasn’t related to their overall goal. And if it was time wasted from searching for the Coven…

Well, the only other option is to sit around here. She realized, sighing and nudging Caiden.

 

“Think we should go join them or stick around with Plex and her new puppy?” Saffron asked with hardly a trace of her worry showing in her voice. Of course, Caid would be able to pick it up, all things considered…

 

-----

 

Beileag found herself wandering after this Carlon, though as the sun began to set her pace increased enough that it turn out he was the one following her. Under no circumstances did she want to be caught out in the moonlight, and while being indoors wasn’t proof against her wild transformations, it was certainly better than being out of doors. Gutraidh did her best to hide her nervousness, but she had the feeling the mage she unwittingly accompanied would be able to notice.

Still, as they entered the Glutted Gorgon - the huge nordling having to duck slightly to make sure her head cleared the doorway - she put on a brave face. With her fearsome warpaint, she could see it was working in the almost bemused expression of the various people there.

For the most part, she realized they were Imperial. Which, admittedly, she ought to have expected, but…

 

One tall achaean, rather bluntly, asked: "Who's she?"

 

"She's Belieag," Carlon spoke up before she could. "A northern woman who agreed to help us in exchange for money."

 

She colored slightly. Was he trying to make her look like some heartless viking mercenary? “Wait ah-”

 

The imperial’s face remained utterly stony. "Only your money," he said, his tone simple rather than angry or condescending. "Mercenaries have no place in this mission."

 

To Beileag, he nodded in greeting and added a short but respectful, "You were misled in coming here, warrior. I apologize for the confusion."

 

With that, he turned his attention to the bar instead, taking a seat and scooting over a tankard the barkeep had filled. Gutraidh’s brow furrowed as she watched him sit in silence before she turned to Carlon. He spoke before she could, however.

 

"I'm sorry that I mislead you, and that we found the book already, but you can stay if you wish. Maybe we can find some money to compensate you."

 

Beileag let out a frustrated sigh. “Fer tha god’s sakes…” She murmured, turning away for a moment to prevent herself from simply laying this idiot out. “I tuld you money wuld be a bonus, not my unly reason fer joinin’!” She growled. “And ye’ve still got some damned mages out there some’ere. I’m sticking-”

A bag of silver coins - small, but still silver - was suddenly offered. The north woman nearly dove for cover.

 

"If me and you survive to the end, I'll give you more"

Gutraidh struggled not to panic, though she gulped quietly. Perhaps it was some innate northern greed? She hoped the man was as naive as he acted. “Aye, uh, that’ll do. But keep yer coin. Ah dun’t want ta give yer capt’n there a bad impress…”

She trailed off as she noticed a woman talking to the man. A woman with elf ears. How had…?

“...ion.” She finished, somewhat dumbstruck. If an elf was involved in a mage hunt, these must be a particularly foul sort of ‘Gifted’. Perhaps her own curse could be of use. “...what’s an’ alfar doing ‘ere?”


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#45 Sareth

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 02:24 PM

"I could do that. Y'know, if you wanna come with me... there's really nothing stopping you or your buddies. It's not like it's against the rules to go to the castle library - Eustace is just being zealous. Besides, if I'm with you, it pretty much means you're authorized."

 

"Really? Thanks!" Sarael replied with another bright smile, not having noticed the hesitation in Zac's own.

 

"C'mon, let's go get that book."

 

---

 

After meeting up with Caiden and the elvish girl again, Zac retrieved the book for them from Sylvanus —a slightly creepy-looking man with strange pale eyes.

 

"Good work. Thanks. We'll be on our way. With any luck, we'll have the book back here in less than a day."

 

"I could help."

 

"Help?" Caiden said, his eye briefly flicking to Sarael as he wondered just what she had said to Zac in private.

 

"Wh-what?" she stammered defensively at Caiden's glance. She hadn't told Zac anything!

 

"Yeah! I mean, I have no idea what you guys are actually doing, but - it's obviously important. A Templar, a Venator, and a... an - an elf... Really, look, I know it's none of my business, but I'm always stuck down here doing nothing, and I'm good with books, and I'm..."

 

"C'mon."

 

"Now that he knows, we should keep him close... And maybe he could help."

 

"I really didn't tell him anything..." she whispered in reply, sightly hurt that Caiden didn't seem to trust that she'd kept their mission secret.

 

---

 

Once they got back to the inn, Sarael headed up to her room to retrieve her armor. While it wasn't much of a burden to her, it had been nice to get out of it for a while... but now she found herself missing it's familiarity and protection. Besides, the fact that Zac identified her so easily meant her attempt at subtlety hadn't really been effective anyway. Once more clad in her deepsilver plate, she started to head back down to the bar, but stopped as she passed the room where Zac and Plexaura had gone, and ducked inside; Zac was currently talking with Katrina, so Sarael turned to Plexaura instead:

 

"So, what did you guys find out today?" she asked softly —she'd caught Stevan's statement about the watch captain, but felt there was a lot more that she'd missed.

 

***

 

"I've found something. There've been systematic crimes confined to the area around that watchtower. A butcher's shop was robbed and some raw meat was stolen. A blacksmith was almost robbed, but the criminal was caught because the watch captain ordered guards there in time - somehow. Sounds shifty to me. The watch captain should be back on duty at that tower soon, and I think we need to go question him... something about that whole situation isn't right."

 

Neitha nodded thoughtfully. She hadn't really liked the watch captain on first impressions; now he seemed crooked for sure.

 

"But for now, we've worked hard enough, so anyone who wants a drink before we set out again, they're on me."

 

She had to hand it to Stevan: he might seem a bit stiff, but he knew how to keep up the troops' morale. Or at least her morale —but then, who didn't love free beer?

 

Heading over to the bar, she took a seat and acquired a tankard, which she drained in fairly short order. She was still a little thirsty, and almost reached for another, before noticing Marcus' abandoned one sitting not far away. She was only a bit thirsty after all... and Marcus probably wouldn't mind. Besides, the fact that it was Marcus' somehow made it more appealing... Love could be weird. When the bartender wasn't looking for a moment, she quickly slid the tankard over to her and took a few quick sips before replacing it, an innocent expression on her face.

 

She was eager to get going and continue their investigation, but it seemed they wouldn't be heading out for a bit yet. So, she turned to Caiden, who was also sitting at the bar a couple stools over.

 

"So. We've got a body-less murder —that Marcus and Stevan think might not even be a murder— and a watch captain who seems to be doing his level best to keep his men from actually being at their post —and who also thinks that the aforementioned possibly-murder, and several similar incidents, are all Tom's doing. So, what do you think? Does this have any relation to our mission, or is it just random criminality?" she asked, curious as to the Venator's thoughts on the matter.


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

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#46 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 05:34 PM

Fer tha god’s sakes…” Beileag said, turning away for a moment be for turning back to face Charon, looking like she was trying not to punch his face in. “I tuld you money wuld be a bonus, not my unly reason fer joinin’ And ye’ve still got some damned mages out there some’ere. I’m sticking-

Then, she noticed the bag of coins and freaked out, practically falling over herself to stay away from his money.

 

The Northern Woman then said nervously “Aye, uh, that’ll do. But keep yer coin. Ah dun’t want ta give yer capt’n there a bad impress…

She trailed off as she noticed something behind him. Carlon turned and saw Perky* heading upstairs with Caiden and his lot.


...ion.” Beileag finished, “...what’s an’ alfar doing ‘ere?

 

“She’s with us,” Carlon said, putting his pouch of money away “but first, I think we need to talk in private about something.”

 

---

 

Carlon brought Beileag to his room. There were too beds in it, though had wanted to share a room with him.

 

“So,” Carlon said, taking a piece of silver from his pouch and tossing it from hand to hand “you seem afraid of silver. Are you a Argyophopic? It’s an Imperial word for the fear of silver.”

 

After the woman responded, Carlon simply threw the coin at her.

 

He had his theory about the woman, and wanted to test it.



#47 Burger Warrior

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 09:20 PM

“She’s with us,” Carlon said, concerning the elf as he put his pouch of money away “but first, I think we need to talk in private about something.”

 

“Mmhm.” Beileag grunted, her old demeanor quickly returning as she crossed her arms and frowned at the shorter man. “Go un.” She urged him, following the Imperial to his chambers.

 

At least, she assumed the room Carlon led her inside was his. Either way, Gutraidh tensed slightly as she stepped inside, wondering just what the little man was thinking. At least there was more than one bed, so he hopefully wasn’t going to try something that stupid.

 

“So,” Carlon said, taking a piece of silver from his pouch and tossing it from hand to hand. The north woman’s eyes narrowed as she followed its trajectory, though she didn’t grow noticeably more tense. Partly because that was impossible, “you seem afraid of silver. Are you a argyophopic? It’s an Imperial word for the fear of silver.”

 

Beileag grit her teeth. So he’d noticed, huh? “Fitt’n’ you’d know ah wurd like that.” Was all she said in response.

 

In reply, Carlon suddenly tossed the coin right at her.

Time seemed to pause, the small piece of silver floating mid-spin in the air. Beileag weighed her options, already beginning to side-step the coin out of reflex. But why dodge such a lonely, harmless object?

A second later, the coin vanished in her fist. Within the next second, there was suddenly no distance between the north woman and Carlon. A moment further and he was slammed into the far wall, an arm that seemed twice the thickness of his own squeezing his neck against the paneling. His vision was completely filled by Beileag’s face.

 

It probably took Charon a little while to notice he’d been lifted up by the blow, leaving his feet dangling almost comically as he was now eye-to-eye with the northern amazon.

 

“First y’make me lewk like ah mercenary…” She growled, her voice low and deceptively controlled. In reality, it was taking her a great effort to keep herself from beating this fool within an inch of his miserable life. “Then y’ask if I’m ah cowurd, ‘nd then ya throw muney at me like I’m sum… sum… fekkin’ lady a’ th’night...!”

For a moment, Beileag seriously thought she’d let herself go and flip out entirely - and have a very dead Imperial on her hands. However, through a small miracle, she managed to get herself to back off, leaving Carlon to land in a heap. If I kill him, they’ll probably never let me help. She wasn’t about to let him go, though, as the nordling planted her foot right on his family jewels, placing enough pressure on them to leave the man feeling extremely vulnerable.

 

“I’m stayin’ aroond, ‘cause I’m gonna help these peeple take down sum ev’l cult if ahn Alfar’s come ta help out, too. But I’m not stayin’ to be around you.” Gutraidh added in a low growl, looming over him.

 

A long moment of dangerous silence passed before she moved her foot, starting to walk to the door. The silver coin bounced back towards him as she walked out.

 

“An’ keep yer damned Achaean coin!” She added, before shutting the door.

 

Damned thing probably left a mark... The werewolf thought to herself glancing at her aching palm for a brief moment as she headed back downstairs.


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#48 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 12:42 PM

After emerging into the hall of the second story from one of the rooms, Marcus made his way over to where Zac had found himself beset by no less than three ladies from the group.  To be fair, some of them were conversing with each other instead of him, but the Inquisitor could not help but smirk at the thought that perhaps the young scribe was attracting them.  Judging from Plexaura’s wry comment and the man’s hesitant reaction, it was not the sort of reaction he was accustomed to.  Marcus could definitely empathize with that, his current romance with Neitha being the exception more than the rule.

 

Shaking his head to refocus his thoughts away from such frivolous distractions, the veteran Inquisitor approached the open doorway, sticking his head through with a cautious, but friendly smile before knocking twice, his void iron gauntlet making a low, dull sound against the wooden frame.

 

Sorry to interrupt, just checking on the decoding efforts...though it seems you’ve no shortage of helping hands,” Marcus quipped.  His battle-hardened face smirking at the young scribe, he politely and dryly asked, “Need me to bring you anything, ladykiller?  Quills and parchment?  Something to drink?  Or shall I just be your chaperone?”

 

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#49 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 02:49 PM

Katrina perked up at this "Really? You can read? I can get by, but not too well to be a clerk. My favorite part of the book is the strange drawings you can find in some of them, like Knights fighting Giant Snails and stuff like that."

 

He gave a laugh. "Yeah, the illuminations are always one of the best parts. They're one of the hardest parts to copy, too, but, y'know," he shrugged, "they're probably the most fun."

 

Katrina glanced at Plexaura, who was standing around nearby. "So, how much did Caiden tell you about our mission? I don't want to tell you anything that he hasn't, or repeat anything he's said."

 

Zac blinked a few times, not sure how to respond at first, but Marcus entered right as he opened his mouth to say something.

 

“Sorry to interrupt, just checking on the decoding efforts...though it seems you’ve no shortage of helping hands,” Marcus quipped.  His battle-hardened face smirking at the young scribe, he politely and dryly asked, “Need me to bring you anything, ladykiller?  Quills and parchment?  Something to drink?  Or shall I just be your chaperone?”

 

Blushing a noticeable amount, Zac forced out an almost nervous laugh and said, "Ladykiller, no way - no one in here is really flirting with me, exactly..."

 

But he drifted off slightly at the thought, as if unsure if that were true. So he promptly changed the subject, saying quickly, "I think I'm fine with decoding it, though. I wouldn't say no to some more help, but I haven't even really gotten started much yet. Still trying to find a pattern. I'm pretty good with puzzles, though, so I think I got this. I bet everybody else in here has somewhere important to be, anyway," he added with a slight laugh.

 

Meanwhile, Sarael had also entered moments before, but she approached Plexaura instead. "So, what did you guys find out today?" she asked softly.

 

Plexaura shrugged. "A lot or not enough, depending on your view. We found out there's some kind of conspiracy around this watch captain, or so Steve-- Stevan seems to think. A noble was supposedly murdered in his inn room last night, only nothing about the crime scene was right. The blood was in the wrong places, and there wasn't much of it. The window was still open, so whoever it was escaped, and the watch was blaming it all on the Beast of Illikon, which is apparently some famous werewolf or something."

 

After a pause, she went on, "It seems no one in the group thinks it was a murder, and frankly, I don't, either. Something about all of it was pretty fishy, especially after the other watchmen said that the only one who would've been on duty to see it was the watch captain. So, in just a few minutes, most everyone is apparently heading out to interrogate him, since he'll be back on duty soon. Except for me, since I'm staying with Zac to help him decode this tome."

 

---

 

"Think we should go join them or stick around with Plex and her new puppy?” Saffron asked.

 

Judging from the way Caiden looked at her, he could sense her worry. But he managed a small smile and replied as lightly as he could, though it came off as a tad dry, "Plex always did like puppies." He took a swallow of ale. "I'm going with them. This could be important... I don't want to miss it."

 

Neitha then turned and spoke to the Venator from where she sat nearby. "So. We've got a body-less murder —that Marcus and Stevan think might not even be a murder— and a watch captain who seems to be doing his level best to keep his men from actually being at their post —and who also thinks that the aforementioned possibly-murder, and several similar incidents, are all Tom's doing. So, what do you think? Does this have any relation to our mission, or is it just random criminality?" she asked, curious as to the Venator's thoughts on the matter.

 

"It could easily be related," Caiden replied without hesitation. "The Hidden aren't above taking people, and people who want to join the cult aren't above faking their own deaths, if they want to be able to operate without scrutiny. Whatever the case, at least we know Tom didn't do this. And from what everyone has said, I don't think it was any other werewolf, either."

 

He allowed a pause before finishing, "If we do find out he's a member of the Hidden, we can expect a fight."


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#50 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 04:40 PM

One second, Charon was just standing there.

 

Then, he was pinned up against the wall.

 

First y’make me lewk like ah mercenary…Then y’ask if I’m ah cowurd, ‘nd then ya throw muney at me like I’m sum… sum… fekkin’ lady a’ th’night...!

 

"Y...you think I...believe that you're a pr...prostitute?" Charon choked, amazed that he had caused this reaction "No...I don't think I...I would survive the ni...ght if you actually were one. I kn...know what you really are.."

 

Then, the woman dropped him.

 

"I...I won't tell..." the Weeping Mage wheezed inbetween coughing "I'm not exactly...on good terms with...the others...at the moment. Besides...you're not the only one...with a curse they...d...din't ask for..."

 

I’m stayin’ aroond, ‘cause I’m gonna help these peeple take down sum ev’l cult if ahn Alfar’s come ta help out, too. But I’m not stayin’ to be around you.

 

An’ keep yer damned Achaean coin!

 

The Weeping Mage stood, massaging his throat for a full minute before the realization of what he had just done hit him square in the face. And with that, all traces of confidence broke down, and he was like the Weeping Mage of old once more.

 

Leaving the coin on the floor, he said on his bed, put his head in his hands, and began to cry: giant, shuddering sobs wracked his body. First, he was a fugitive and traitor. Now, he apparently was a womanizer.

 

He hated the person he was becoming.

 

---

 

"Yeah, the illuminations are always one of the best parts. They're one of the hardest parts to copy, too, but, y'know, they're probably the most fun."

 

Katrina grinned. She was really starting to like this guy.

 

Then Marcus entered, and everyone began t discuss the code that they had to decipher.

 

"It seems no one in the group thinks it was a murder, and frankly, I don't, either. Something about all of it was pretty fishy, especially after the other watchmen said that the only one who would've been on duty to see it was the watch captain. So, in just a few minutes, most everyone is apparently heading out to interrogate him, since he'll be back on duty soon. Except for me, since I'm staying with Zac to help him decode this tome."

 

"I can help," Katrina said "I was pretty decent at puzzles when I was growing up, this one should be no problem!"

 

 

 

 



#51 Burger Warrior

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 02:12 AM

“I dunnae what the fekk yer talkin’ aboot.” Was all Beileag offered in reply to his accusation. He had no proof about what she was, so if he intended blackmail for what she did, he could have all the fun - well, lack thereof, as she would beat his immortal soul out of his body, drag it down to hell, and then stuff it down the throat of the nearest demon - trying to get everyone to think she was some creature of the night of that sort.

 

She let out an irritated sigh, stepping into the common room of the inn and glancing around. Everyone seemed pretty busy, though she vaguely remembered the announcement of free drinks. The gods knew Gutraidh needed one or six, so she made her way over to the counter, taking a seat on a comparatively tiny barstool to order a stout beverage. Despite her attempts not to seem particularly noticeable or anything, it was hard to notice the enormous woman sitting at the bar.

 

She didn’t make an effort to talk to the others, just bowing her head slightly to anyone that evidently noticed her.

 

-----

 

Caid managed a small smile and replied as lightly as he could, though it came off as a tad dry, "Plex always did like puppies." He took a swallow of ale. "I'm going with them. This could be important... I don't want to miss it."

 

Percula nodded, growing a little sombre. “I’ll have your back, then.” She offered, managing a fairly normal smile. Which in itself was irregular for her, given she tended to have some mischievous or otherwise out-of-the-ordinary edge to those.

 

Neitha sat down nearby, clearly speaking to Caiden, but the pixie was close enough to hear everything easily.

 

"So. We've got a body-less murder —that Marcus and Stevan think might not even be a murder— and a watch captain who seems to be doing his level best to keep his men from actually being at their post —and who also thinks that the aforementioned possibly-murder, and several similar incidents, are all Tom's doing. So, what do you think? Does this have any relation to our mission, or is it just random criminality?" she asked, curious as to the Venator's thoughts on the matter.

 

"It could easily be related," Caiden replied without hesitation. "The Hidden aren't above taking people, and people who want to join the cult aren't above faking their own deaths, if they want to be able to operate without scrutiny. Whatever the case, at least we know Tom didn't do this. And from what everyone has said, I don't think it was any other werewolf, either."

 

Percula sighed, almost in relief. “Well, that’s not so bad.” She chimed in.

 

He allowed a pause before finishing, "If we do find out he's a member of the Hidden, we can expect a fight."

 

The pixie cracked her petite knuckles. “Well, preeetty sure Mister Moustache and I can take him.” She said, finally offering one of her usual grins. “I mean, if he’s got the Gift.”

Percula almost cut herself off when the enormous nordling that had followed Carlon in took a seat at the end of the bar. It was a fair few seats away, but Beileag’s enormous size made her seem much closer, and the ‘elf’ tried not to stare, paling slightly. “Uh… guess someone’s taking advantage of the free drinks.” She murmured to Neitha and Caiden.


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#52 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 11:42 AM

After a few more moments of resting - and plenty of drinking - the group gathered together again to set out for the watchtower. Zac, Plexaura, Rutger, Kye, and Rosette were still in the inn rooms, and they had expressed interest in simply sitting this one out - particularly Zac and Plexaura, who were busy decoding the tome... though it was mostly the former.

 

Stevan and Caiden glanced over everyone present, taking note of who was there: Neitha, Sarael, Marcus, Percula, Charon, Katrina, and also Beileag, the strange woman whom Charon, or Carlon as they knew him, had recruited into the group. As sizable a group as they were, they were sure to draw attention, but they had no choice as they set out into the night.

 

The rain came down in sheets, and everyone pulled up their hoods, if they had one. Stevan simply donned his helmet, apparently not much minding the rain. As for Beileag, she was thankful to not feel the moon's presence - not only was it in a small phase tonight, but the thick cloud cover was providing some aid in blotting out the moonlight, even if it did bring with it so much cool rain.

 

Stevan and Caiden took the lead as they made their way to the watchtower. The streets were largely deserted, with everyone home for the night or else inside simply because of the rain. A few homeless individuals huddled against buildings, taking shelter under the eaves, and watching in silent, wide-eyed awe as the band of armored warriors - and a few even stranger-looking individuals - passed them by.

 

When they arrived at the watchtower, they found a few guards inside in addition to the captain. Some of them were at posts around the tower, while others were simply playing a game of dice in the middle of the room. The captain was among the latter group, though he started to his feet the moment everyone entered.

 

Caiden's eye flicked to the dice the captain had just rolled. "Bad hand," he commented.

 

"Uh... aye, I reckon," the watch captain replied with an awkward smile. "What brings you here? And... so many of you?"

 

The size and variety of the group was already drawing the attention of all the guards. Stevan said simply, "We want to ask you a few questions, captain... Like why were you the only one on duty last night?"

 

"Well, 'cause that blacksmith down the street got robbed."

 

"Which you just happened to know about before it even happened."

 

The watchman hesitated. He glanced around at his fellows, a shadow seeming to fall over his eyes. But he turned back to the Templar and shrugged.

 

"Y'know what? I'm not gonna play this game. Not in the mood to drag it all out. I'll admit to it: I'm involved in something bad. But it's not my fault - and you gotta believe me there. I haven't been bribed, so I'm not gettin' anything out of it..."

 

"Blackmail?" Caiden said. "Threats?"

 

"Maybe a bit o' both," the watchman retorted almost hotly. "But you lot are in luck. I'm supposed to make a meet tonight, so I can lead you straight to the people behind it all. Normally, when I go, I don't have a bloody army of Templars and Inquisitors and a Venator and... whoever the hell all the rest of you people are. With all o' you there, maybe you can help me fix this."

 

"Maybe." The Venator took a step forward, looking the watch captain in the eye. "But first, answer this. Are you working with the Hidden?"

 

The watchman stared back at him, a strange smile pulling at one corner of his mouth. It wasn't a smile of amusement, it was a twisted little smile of absurd horror to hear the word come out of an Imperial official's mouth.

 

Meanwhile, the other guards had gathered around, looking worried and curious - some almost looked excited. "We'll back you up, chief," one said encouragingly to the watch captain.

 

"Thanks, boys," said the captain, scratching his beard. "What say you? Will you follow me?"

 

"Sounds like an ambush," Stevan murmured under his breath to those standing near him, but he nonetheless answered, "We will. We aren't afraid of some warlocks."

 

Caiden, on the other hand, looked hesitant. He glanced at Percula, who was the only one to recognize the tiny spark of fear in his otherwise unreadable eye.

 

---

 

Leading them back through the rainy city, the watch captain finally halted as he entered in a dark alley, secluded in the city slums. The instant he halted, Stevan and Caiden didn't hesitate to draw their swords, and many of the other guards who had followed nervously followed their example.

 

The watch captain turned as if to speak, but before anyone could react, he flung his hand forward in the direction of the nearest guard - a man under his own command. From his fingertips sprung a deep, dim, crimson-red light, which flew straight into the man's chest. With only a gasp and not even a scream, the guard collapsed to the ground, dead.

 

Stevan rushed for the watchman traitor, swinging his sword, his blade clashing so hard against the watchman's that they spit sparks, the ringing metal splitting the foggy night...

 

But other figures appeared. One rushed for Stevan's side before Caiden could charge to defend him, and Stevan leapt aside and rolled away. Springing to his feet again, the Templar retrieved his shield from his back, starting to circle his opponent.

 

Three more figures stepped out of the shadows: in addition to the watch captain whom Stevan now circled and prepared to re-engage, there was now also an enormous, burly man with a double-bit, two-handed axe, who wore custom armor and looked like a blacksmith; a wiry but muscular man clad in robes as if he was a priest, who carried a shield and long spear; and a woman dressed as a simple farmer, wielding only a dagger, but she looked light and quick on her feet, and she had a notable spark of insanity in her eyes that even some of her other companions - other than the watch captain - particularly lacked.

 

Just as this seemed to be the entirety of the ambush, they heard a sound overhead, from one of the rooftops overlooking the alley - and Marcus felt the hard impact of a crossbow bolt in his lower thigh (-4 HP, crippled), so hard it nearly knocked him off-balance. Whoever the shooter was, they had to be an incredible aim to hit him so perfectly in the chain on his leg rather than any of his plate armor, especially in so much fog and rain. The head of the bolt was clearly designed to puncture mail, which it did with frightening efficiency - and, even more troubling, he felt the wound quickly begin to burn in a way that indicated there was more to this bolt than mere steel (poisoned)...

 

Perched on a rooftop above the battle was a final figure: a man dressed as a doctor, a plague mask concealing his face, its long beak making his silhouette look like some strange bird demon in the night. He had already begun to reload his crossbow.

 

 

BOSS FIGHT

5/5 Hidden Ones Remaining

Hidden Watchman: 40/40

Hidden Blacksmith: 75/75

Hidden Priest: 35/35

Hidden Doctor: 35/35

Hidden Farmer: 25/25

 

((Once again, I've pulled things pretty far ahead. As I've mentioned, I'd like to get this campaign done, so I apologize for anyone feeling rushed.

 

Now that we're in combat and I've specified this is a boss battle, I'm going to go ahead and say: we've been pushed all the way to the end of Chapter 2, and once this fight is over, we'll enter into the very brief Chapter 3, the conclusion of the RP, before topping off with a short Epilogue.

 

Please note that the dice are the deciding factor here, as usual, and do not assume that you can kill any one of the Hidden. Please also keep your number of actions to one per post. If you must, you can say what you'd like your character to do if their first attack hits, but don't try to pile multiple actions into one post.

 

Good luck, and fight well.))


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#53 Sareth

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 01:15 PM

Neitha was feeling decidedly on-edge about following the —somewhat overly-helpful— watch captain to this mysterious meeting, and so —like Stevan, Caiden, and some of the others— didn't hesitate for even a second to reach for her weapons when the man stopped in the alley, drawing her favorite mambele; if any of the watchman's associates turned out to be magic users —a likelihood, given they were going to encounter the Hidden— then she didn't think she'd be able to get up close.

 

Her choice turned out to be fortuitous —if not in the way that she had expected— as the watch captain himself suddenly struck down one of his own men with some dark sorcery and, as his motley associates came out of the shadows to join him, the group took fire fire from above as well: a crossbow bolt striking Marcus in the leg. Despite her rage and fear at Marcus' injury, and despite the watch captain's magical display —the first she had seen that came from anyone other than Percula— she didn't hesitate.

 

Looking up, she spotted the sniper —dressed in a strange bird-like outfit, and already in the process of reloading— almost immediately, and she instantly whipped her arm up and around, launching her mambele throwing knife straight towards the man's chest. The moment the weapon left her hand, she reached down to her belt for her other one —if the first didn't do the job, she'd try again with the second.

 

***

 

Sarael was, perhaps, a hair slow on the draw —as she reacted not to the watch captain's halting, but rather to Knight-Captain Stevan's and the others' reactions to said occurrence— but she still managed to free her zweihänder from its sheath only a moment or two after the others drew their weapons. The watch captain's horrific display of magical power left her momentarily stunned, but the clash of metal as Stevan attacked the man, followed by the appearance of the traitor's compatriots, snapped her out of it; there was no time to think, only to fight.

 

Sizing up their foes, she immediately identified the most dangerous —besides the sorcerous watch captain himself, and perhaps the sniper on the roof, but she couldn't do anything about the latter, and the former was more Marcus' territory— the blacksmith. As one of the biggest and strongest people on her side, she didn't hesitate to engage her counterpart, charging into combat with a brief muttered prayer to Astra.

 

With her zweihänder held in front of her, angled across her body, she lunged forwards, feinting a thrust towards the massive man's head, before whipping the blade down through a tight half-circle arc to launch the real thrust towards his chest or abdomen —wielding the long sword almost like a spear, with her hands wide-spaced on its long grip. Whether her blow landed or not, she immediately ducked back out of the man's range, bringing her blade back for a parry if necessary.

 

If there was only one teacher she had ever truly paid attention to, and internalized the lessons of, in her entire life, it was the Templar weapons' master who had taught her to fight. The blacksmith was massive, and quite possibly stronger than her; her best bet was to keep him at a distance, taking advantage of the extra speed and range that a sword gave her over his massive axe.


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

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#54 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 01:47 PM

Charon was surprised that either the Hidden, or the Umbra Coven, had revaled themselves so early on.

If they were Coven Members, he needed to make contact with them, but if they were Hidden Members...

The Weeping Mage chared in front the others towards the traitorous captain, his dagger in one hand, and his fist clenched around something else.

When the Captain was in earshot, the Weeping Mage said so that only the two could hear "Who sent you? The Hidden, or the Umbra Coven? Speak quickly or die."

If the Captain was a fellow member of the Coven, Charon would desert right there and then, but if he was a member of the Hidden, then he would be joining the Mage's collection of evil Magic-users whose souls were trapped in soulstones.

---

When the Cultists attacked, Katrina was ready for them.

She fired twice at the insain-looking farm-girl, with another arrow on the string if her first two shots missed.

Edited by Dalton Westmoore, 03 October 2016 - 06:58 AM.


#55 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 01:39 PM

Blushing a noticeable amount, Zac forced out an almost nervous laugh and said, "Ladykiller, no way - no one in here is really flirting with me, exactly..."

 

But he drifted off slightly at the thought, as if unsure if that were true. So he promptly changed the subject, saying quickly, "I think I'm fine with decoding it, though. I wouldn't say no to some more help, but I haven't even really gotten started much yet. Still trying to find a pattern. I'm pretty good with puzzles, though, so I think I got this. I bet everybody else in here has somewhere important to be, anyway," he added with a slight laugh.

 

Chuckling good-naturedly, Marcus retorted, “If you say so, lad.  I’ll let you get situated, but if you think of anything you need, just make a list, and I’ll see about it when I return.  Gods willing, we won’t be gone too long.”

 

With a casual salute and a smile at the young scribe, the veteran Inquisitor added just as warmly (though slightly more seriously) to Plexaura, “Same to you, Miss Voros.  I’d advise treating this like a textbook asset protection job; I wouldn’t put it past our enemies to try to grab the book while we’re all split up.  Semper vigilans!”  

 

Warnings and promises out of the way, Marcus took his leave to join the party going to interrogate the watch captain.  He had no idea what they would find in the tower or how cooperative the man would be once cornered by so many, but whatever happened, he intended to be prepared.

 

---

 

As it turned out, the guard captain was very cooperative.  Suspiciously so.  Still, he claimed to be coerced into action, and Marcus still firmly believed that all suspects were innocent until proven guilty.  Of course, the proverbial grain of salt would still be taken, and Marcus had no intention of walking into an ambush unawares.

 

Heading back out into the pouring rain and eery fog, the Inquisitor’s hood protected his priceless helmet, whose visor had to be closed to fully accommodate the sable cloth’s protection.  While Marcus did not know if void iron could actually rust, he had no intention of finding out with his own equipment.  Rust on common steel was already an affront to his very nature. His halberd had no such clothing for protection, but it could take a night of rain, no matter how heavy, and be dried and oiled like everything else later.  Old habits died hard, after all.

 

When the watchman suddenly halted in the alley, swords were drawn and muscles tensed as everyone prepared for gods-knew-what.  Marcus scanned the rooftops, cursing the weather and his visor under his breath for obscuring his vision.  Then, mayhem ensued.  The watch captain murdered one of his own, and more attackers emerged as if from nowhere.  The party had not been caught completely off-guard, at least, but Marcus barely had time to shout “Ambush! To arms!” before the situation got much, much worse.

 

A stinging pain in his left thigh caused him to stagger, with only instinct allowing him to whip his halberd into place, taking some of his weight before he fell.  Head snapping downward, Marcus saw a crossbow bolt protruding from a weak spot in his plate.  Fighting to stay silent and upright, he jerked his head back up to see where it had come from, a marksman with a plague doctor’s mask, ominously birdlike in the gloom and fog.  He had no means to retaliate, but saw Neitha quickly intervening with a thrown weapon.  Trusting her to deal with the ranged threat, Marcus limped to see where he could still make himself useful.

 

Even with his racing adrenaline, the wound almost burned, so great was the pain.  Poisoned, no doubt, he thought to himself, but he did not have the luxury of retreating, and he knew that removing the bolt now would only worsen things.  The voice of his old training sergeant washed through his mind, screaming faintly, “Don’t like pain, you simpering anvil jockey?  Then pay it double to the ones who gave it to you!  You have to hate who you’re hitting, so you hit hard and hit last!”

 

His primary weapon now a makeshift crutch in his left hand, the wounded soldier drew his sword and staggered to where Stevan and Carlon were engaging the traitorous watch captain.  He doubted Carlon would contribute much to the fight, but even Stevan and his deepgold armor would be hard-pressed by the force of the Condition.  Assuming their other assailants were not so similarly inclined to magic usage (though he couldn’t completely rule it out), given their reliance on other weapons, this part of the fight was where Marcus was needed. Plus, Stevan probably had the best chance of carrying Marcus away if things got even worse.  Tough as Neitha was, the Inquisitor figured he might be too much dead weight for even her...well, incapacitated, limp, poisoned weight, to be more accurate.  Hopefully.

 

Positioning himself by Stevan’s offhand side, Marcus tried to hide the pain in his voice as he grunted, “I’ll follow your lead, Captain.  Let’s bring this traitor to justice!”  Guiding his slow, but deliberate attack by Stevan’s flank, Marcus intended to at least block the mage’s free hand, obviously meant for further spells, allowing the Templar to land the killing blow.  Leg or no leg, he could still hold his sword, and that meant he was still in the fight...


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#56 Burger Warrior

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 04:04 PM

Well, they sure had quite the party going, now.

 

Percula glanced around at everyone as they made their way through the streets of Artorius, noting the continued presence of Beileag. Apparently the particularly enormous woman was sticking around, maybe to try making Sarael look small. They certainly had a nice contest going there, as did their weapons. The pixie wondered just how useful those would be in some of the tighter alleyways around them… and possibly against some of the shadier folk she noticed through the sheets of rain.

 

More than a little thankful her cloak had come with a hood, the ‘elf’ adjusted hers, keeping pace with Caiden, as they approached the watchtower, she wondered if anyone would volunteer to stick around outside. There didn’t exactly seem to be enough room for everyone…

 

Fortunately, their business didn’t take too long, though the speed with which the guard captain surrendered to their will and offered to lead them to some unsuspecting warlocks felt a touch odd. She and Caiden exchanged glances, and she recognized the tiny spark of fear in his otherwise unreadable eye. The pixie reached over to gently take his hand in hers, squeezing it gently for a moment before they all began to head out, followed by some of the town guard.

 

The walk felt far longer than it truly was, with Percula keeping an eye out as well as she could through the rain. She wished she could slip away and buzz around from a distance, but the rain would’ve made that more than a little difficult. Not to mention suddenly disappearing before such a fight would be very suspicious…

 

As it turned out, it was far too late to consider such an option, anyway, as the guard captain abruptly came to a stop. The others began to go for their weapons immediately, clearly anticipating something, and Percula kept a simple freezing spell in mind. If they could take someone - or all of them - alive, it’d make everything easier. And they look hilarious when encased in ice. Saffron quietly giggled to herself at the comical thought.

 

Her mirth suddenly ended when the watch captain turned and simply knocked one of his men dead on the spot with a spell that wasn’t like any natural magic Percula had seen. She stared for a moment, stunned, so it was fortunate that Stevan leapt in to engage the man in melee combat. Well, that’ll make spell-casting difficult. For him. The pixie noted, drifting towards the back of the group as crossbow bolts flew and swords clashed. Shrinking noticeably - just by a foot or two, however, not the whole way - to make herself less of a target, Saffron quickly looked through her selection of targets, already preparing a freezing spell.

 

The captain, bird-headed man, and large, armored cultist were all presently engaged, leaving a priest-looking fellow and a crazy ragged girl. Noting the threat of someone who was so quick on her feet, Percula decided to give the lady a little something to think about.

With a murmured incantation - if only out of habit - Saffron tried freezing the peasant’s feet to the ground, hoping to be able to continue spreading her frost and steadily locking her further in place, letting her allies focus on the rest of their opponents.

 

-----

 

Well, this was unfortunate.

 

Beileag had drawn her bardiche a little late, not wanting to look particularly stereotypical or give the wolf inside any unnecessary reason to stir. She was lucky enough that the clouds were fairly thick, all but blotting out the moon. On the one hand, the strength of her other side would have been very useful… but on the other hand, she was in the company of the infamous - well, to a monster like herself - Venatori, and even if they weren’t a problem, she wasn’t sure what she might do in her other shape…

 

That was, by far, the worst part of her curse.

 

At any rate, Gutraidh shook her head clear of these thoughts, realizing battle had truly been joined. Some of their party were already wounded, and many had rushed in to engage the enemy. A few hostiles were left to fight, though, and Beileag noticed one priest-like man wielding a shield and spear getting ready to join the fight. With a low growl, the former berserker rushed forward to meet him, bringing her bardiche around to knock his spear aside as she slammed shoulder-first into his shield, aiming to at least knock the cultist off-balance, or at best to knock him off his feet altogether.


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#57 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 06:05 PM

Neitha aimed one of her mambele knives for the doctor in the plague mask, and it seemed her aim struck true ((Agility Roll: Success)), until the plague doctor saw the missile coming, narrowly managing to dodge. It grazed his shoulder ((-2 HP, Hidden Doctor)), and he ducked low behind part of the roof. Neitha readied to throw again, but he was now out of sight, taking cover. Neitha could barely see what looked like the top of his head peering over to keep an eye on the battle, but he was no longer a target... not until he took aim again, which he didn't yet seem ready to do.

 

Sarael, meanwhile, charged for the enormous blacksmith. The man was so huge and lumbering, he barely seemed to care as she feinted a thrust toward his helmed head, before instead thrusting toward his torso. Her blade connected hard ((Strength Roll: Success)) against a thick piece of metal armor he wore there - crude, but effective. Her blade slid down the forged slants of the armor, largely glancing off. The blow struck him so hard he staggered, but he merely grunted in reaction.

 

She leapt back to avoid any counterattacks, taking stock of her enemy's armor now that she stood closer to him. His head and torso were the best protected, but he also wore some plates strapped to his arms and legs. Overall, he looked like a walking siege tower with metal plates protecting its every vulnerability. It would take some precise striking and fast movement to land a blow between his armor while still staying away from his axe.

 

The blacksmith prepared to close in on Sarael, hefting his huge weapon. At first, she was confident she could dodge blows. Even someone of her size was faster than this enormous brute... but when he swung his axe, she wasn't sure--

 

Until something bit into his side hard enough to make even the blacksmith stagger ((Action Interrupted, -5 HP)), stopping his strike mid-swing, the huge head of his axe briefly slamming into the cobblestones underfoot with a resounding clang. But he didn't stay down for long, hefting his weapon. Behind the blacksmith, Sarael saw Caiden, sword drawn and gripped in both hands, his stance one of an experienced swordsman.

 

Nearby, the Weeping Mage charged the traitorous watchman who had once again locked blades with Stevan. Charon came up to the watchman's side and attempted to speak, keeping his voice low.

 

But anything he attempted to say was interrupted by the watchman's reflex to lash out and defend himself from a potential flanking attack. Whirling, Charon found the watchman's sword coming straight at his face, and he was forced to leap back to avoid the blow ((Agility Roll: Success)).

 

That did, however, briefly leave the watchman open for Stevan to attack ((Attack of Opportunity; Strength Roll: Success)) - an opportunity the Templar took before Marcus, who had joined them, had time to engage. Stevan struck with the speed of a predator leaping for its prey. His blade sang through the air as he aimed for the watchman's throat. Turning just barely in time, the watchman attempted to dodge, but he still received a hard blow to the shoulder that sent hot blood spurting onto Stevan's armor ((-6 HP, Hidden Watchman)).

 

Katrina nocked her bow and fired for the farmer woman, but she saw the missiles coming - and Katrina's aim failed her ((Agility Check: Failure)), one arrow clicking uselessly off the cobblestones, and another thunking hard into the wooden wall of a building to one side of the alley...

 

Before she could fire again, however, Percula cast her spell ((Spirit Check: Success)), freezing the woman's feet in place. She hissed a vile curse, and Katrina's reflexes told her to fire ((Attack of Opportunity; Agility Check: Success)) while the Hidden One was immobile. Her arrow struck true, lodging itself so hard into the farmer's shoulder that she would've been knocked off her feet, if they weren't frozen to the ground ((-7 HP, Hidden Farmer)).

 

Beileag charged the only remaining foe: the priest. Charging him head-on, she used her bardiche to knock aside his spear and rammed into his shield ((Strength Check: Success)). The false priest staggered back and very nearly lost his footing ((Agility Check: Success)), but he managed to stay on his feet...

 

---

 

 

The Hidden Ones were quick to recover from the attacks, and they clearly had some maneuvers of their own. As Stevan, Charon, and Marcus engaged the watchman, he stepped back and quickly assessed the situation. Aiming for Stevan, he flung his hand forward, and from it flew the familiar sight of the deep red spell...

 

Even the mighty Templar stepped back from such a terror, grimacing as he was forced to step behind his Inquisitor companion, Marcus, who luckily was right by his side. Marcus moved deftly into the path of the spell, even with his injured leg, and the magic passed harmlessly into his void iron armor, dissipating into nothingness.

 

But this gave the watchman time to retreat, particularly as Charon did not have time to strike ((Attack of Opportunity; Agility Check: Failure)). Whirling, he ran several paces back, regrouping with some of his fellows. The false priest disengaged as well, shield and spear on the defensive, regrouping with the watchman.

 

The farmer, meanwhile, let out a battle cry and slammed her hand down upon the ice around her feet using her uninjured arm - and from her fist spread a white-hot spell, melting the ice in mere seconds. She snarled at Percula, but she too retreated, forming up with the watchman and false priest. They seemed to gather for some kind of offensive maneuver...

 

Two, however, did not attempt to form up on the defensive posture of the other Hidden. The blacksmith whirled for Caiden ((Strength Check: Success)), his huge axe swinging through the air for Caiden's blind side. The Venator turned his head and saw it coming, but almost too late - he ducked, keeping his head low so it wouldn't get taken clean off, but he caught the edge of the axe square in the shoulder so hard it sent him sprawling to the cobblestones.

 

The Venator was quick to get back to his feet, though his left hand's grip on his sword was now slightly looser as blood rushed down his arm. In the darkness, the blood looked almost black, but Caiden straightened himself and began to circle the blacksmith once more.

 

The sight of blood almost seemed to ignite a predatory instinct in the Hidden Ones... or perhaps it was something else. Whatever the case, some of the group ((Neitha, Sarael, Charon, Marcus)) noticed something... the eyes of every Hidden One were now upon the wounded Venator.

 

Off to Caiden's left, on his blind side, the watchman, the false priest, and the farmer maintained their position, no longer engaging. The false priest was fast on his feet, shield raised, now directing his attention to Katrina and Neitha, the two armed with ranged weaponry, as he attempted to protect the farmer. The watchman, meanwhile, kept his sword in hand and did his best to ignore his wounds as he focused on keeping the melee fighters back.

 

Caiden himself was clearly unaware of the developments, his missing eye to the trio, and his one eye focused solely on the blacksmith that kept facing him down. The Venator stayed on his toes as the axe swung again, but this time he rolled and dodged. To Neitha ((Perception Check: Success)), she couldn't help but notice... he wasn't even trying to engage. He was just trying to keep Caiden distracted.

 

The Hidden doctor remained on his perch, not firing his poisoned bolts, but keeping an eye on the battle: a looming threat not yet dealt with. Perhaps more pressing, however, was the strange sound that began to fill the air.

 

Chanting. Low and resounding, echoing deeply through the alley like the beating of some great drum, the voice of the Hidden woman began to chant...

 

"Umbra, hunc fortem bellatorem capé, mōnstrā eum terrori et dolōrī..."

 

Around her feet, there came a powerful glow: deep red and hellish, lighting her and her allies from underneath like demons rising from the Underworld. Her eyes became black-red pits that seemed to suck in the light around her very person, rendering her strangely hard to see the shadows of the foggy night, even when cast in the dismal glow of her evil spell.

 

A look of understanding briefly passed over Stevan's face... before melting away into surprise and horror.

 

"Engage!" Stevan shouted. "Don't let them use their magic!"

 

((Enemy actions this round:

Hidden Watchman: defensive stance, standing near Hidden Farmer

Hidden Blacksmith: actively engaged in combat with Caiden

Hidden Priest: defensive stance, guarding Hidden Farmer

Hidden Doctor: hiding on a rooftop, in cover (protected from ranged attacks)

Hidden Farmer: casting major spell, 1 round until completion))

 

 

BOSS FIGHT
5/5 Hidden Ones Remaining
Hidden Watchman: 34/40 (-6 HP this round)
Hidden Blacksmith: 70/75 (-5 HP this round)
Hidden Priest: 35/35
Hidden Doctor: 33/35 (-2 HP this round)
Hidden Farmer: 18/25 (-7 HP this round; right arm crippled)

 

ALLY STATUS

Stevan: Uninjured

Caiden: Injured, bleeding


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#58 Dalton Westmoore

Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 01:45 PM

Charon lept back from the traitorous captain's blade.

 

The man definitely wasn't a member of the Umbra Coven, so he had to be a Hidden Spy.

 

However, before the Weeping Mage could fight with either his crossbow or his magic, the Hidden troops regrouped. The Mage noticed that they all were focused on Caiden, and turned to see why. The Venator was engaged with the Blacksmith, so he could not see what the Hidden Mages were doing.

 

"Umbra, hunc fortem bellatorem capé, mōnstrā eum terrori et dolōrī..."

 

A cold chill ran down Charon's spine. He recognized the words, if not their significance, and it could only mean one thing...

 

"Engage!" Stevan, the Templar Captain, shouted. "Don't let them use their magic!"

 

Charon gritted his teeth: he knew what the Mages were doing, and he knew how he could stop them or at least hinder them, but it would be at the cost of unveiling himself.

 

He decided that he didn't care.

 

The Mage took two steps forward and launched a concentrated beam of black energy at the Traitorous Watch Captain ((Soul Spear)): attempting to shoot the girl who was performing the spell was impossible, as she was guarded, but the captain would not be so lucky.

 

Hopefully, nobody would notice the bolt of magic due to the overcast moon, but he doubted it.

 

---

 

Katrina cursed as her first two arrows went wide. What was wrong with her? Ever since she joined this quest, it seemed like her skill with weapons had decreased.

 

However, she had been able to get the Hidden Farmer in the shoulder, so that gave her a little confidence.

 

Now, the Hidden Mages were performing some spell, probably to summon something far more powerful, and the wounded mage was protected by a priest with a shield and spear.

 

The archer nocked two arrows and fired the the priest, before ducking low and shooting another two at the man's legs.

 

Hopefully, at least some of the arrows would find their mark.

 

 



#59 Sareth

Sareth

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 03:18 PM

Things weren't going too well, Sarael realized. A few of their opponents had been injured, but now they had fallen back into a defensive formation, and Caiden had been likewise injured, and was now facing off with the massive blacksmith. There was something strange —almost hungry— about the way their enemies were staring at Caiden, but she didn't have time to think on it, especially not as the air began to fill with dark, unfamiliar words, and an unnatural red glow began to form under the farmer woman's feet.

 

"Engage! Don't let them use their magic!"

 

Sarael instinctively wanted to help the injured Caiden in his fight with the blacksmith, but heeded Stevan's words. Besides... the red glow brought uncomfortably to mind thoughts of hellfire; whatever the woman was trying to do, they couldn't allow her to succeed.

 

So, once more she charged, this time towards the spear-wielding man in priest's garb —though she went a little wide in her path to stay out of Katrina's line of fire, as she saw the other woman raise her bow. As she ran, she prayed to Astra for strength, for aid in stopping these people. Her sword was held in front of her, ready to parry the priest's spear down and to the side if he tried to thrust at her. But, although she was charging straight at him, the priest was not her real target; her intention was to use her full strength to simply shoulder-charge the man aside —knock him straight to the ground if possible— and then bring her sword around to cut down the spellcasting woman.

 

Hopefully, between her own strength and her goddess' favor, she would succeed.

 

***

 

Neitha swore under her breath as her blade merely grazed the enemy crossbowman —who promptly ducked behind cover, preventing her from getting a second shot at him. But, at least he wasn't shooting anyone for the moment either, so... that was a result.

 

Turning back to the bulk of the fight, she saw that most of their enemies had pulled back into a small knot a short distance away, leaving Caiden —who had been cut across the shoulder— and the hulking blacksmith facing each other in the middle. As her eyes strayed across the group of three —the traitorous watch captain, the crazy woman, and a guy in priests' clothes— a chill ran down her spine as she noticed the strange, predatory, way that they were all staring at Caiden. The sensation only intensified as she watched the blacksmith take another swing at him, and realized that the bastard wasn't even trying to hit him; she suddenly got the feeling that there was something much deeper going on that she didn't understand in the slightest.

 

But then, that pretty much was her and this mission in a nutshell. 'Hidden' and 'Covens' meant almost nothing to her; but her comrades —some of them friends— were in a fight for their lives, and combat, at least, was something she understood very well.

 

"Caid, he's just messing with you, be careful!" she called to the venator in warning.

 

Then, things got worse, as the crazy farmer-woman started uttering something strange, and a red glow began to form around her feet. For the love of Anubis— more magic.

 

"Engage! Don't let them use their magic!"

 

'No, really!?' Neitha thought sarcastically, before promptly doing as Stevan said anyways. Drawing her yatagan with her free hand, she darted forwards —taking care to go wide around the blacksmith— heading, not for the spellcasting woman —who was being well-guarded by the priest with the spear— but for the watch captain, who lacked such protection but, being a magic user also, was potentially as dangerous as the woman. Besides, the bastard had led them into this trap —he deserved to pay.

 

As she closed with the watch captain, she brought her arm up and let fly with her other mambele at the man, charging in right on the heels of her flung blade, switching her sword over to her now-unoccupied dominant hand —intending to duck low and cut at the sides or rear of the captain's legs and hamstring the bastard.


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

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#60 Lord_Capulet

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 09:03 PM

The traitorous watchman fought like the cornered animal he was, driving Carlon off with a wild swing before taking a grievous blow to the shoulder from Stevan’s sword.  Marcus wondered why the mercenary had gotten so close, but his theorizing was quickly cut short when his target fired another spell, forcing Stevan back.  The wounded Inquisitor stepped forward instinctively to absorb the blow, his dwarf-made armor rendering the dark power null and, well, void.

 

Celebrations would have to wait, however, as Caiden took a wound of his own and the Hidden in the alley regrouped and tightened formation.  Seeing the casters eyeing his friend, Marcus had a few ideas of what they were intending, none of them good.  When the farmer-woman began chanting, her eyes and comrades being cast in a horrifying eldritch glow, his suspicions were confirmed.

 

Stevan apparently had the same idea, shouting "Engage! Don't let them use their magic!"  Marcus would need to fight through an increasing amount of pain to get there at any measure of speed, but whatever dark powers they were calling upon, he had no intention of allowing them to finish.  Gritting his teeth and speeding up his breath, he summoned every ounce of fury he could muster before charging straight at the huddled Hidden before him.  They had prioritized him as a target, most likely in fear of his order’s reputation.  Even wounded, perhaps they still feared him, at least a little.  They had also shot his leg, not his lungs, and he had an idea how those could help him add to that fear…

 

While Sarael headed straight for the priest and Neitha turned her attention to the watchman, the former Ebonguard aimed his charge to drive straight through the enemy and toward the woman doing the casting.  Even if he could not land a decisive blow on her, even tackling her bodily (or just falling on her, as he feared he might do) would disrupt her casting, and his void iron armor needed to be in close proximity to absorb the magical energy.  Doing his best to ignore the pain in his thigh, he increased his pace as best he could while roaring, “When a wizard says ‘die...’”

His shortsword held aloft in a high guard, with his halberd pointed forward, ready to discourage anyone from stopping him...or to support his weight again, if his strength failed him...he finished the ancient rallying cry of the Ebonguard: “...we say, YOU FIRST!”


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