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ZONE - The Moor


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#21 Neyo Wargear

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 06:17 PM

It was decided that all the children of willing parents would be held in a central location, a temple. A Templar decided it and started ordering everyone who was willing to stand watch. Cicero merely walked on over to the temple, as he was part of the group preparing the guard. There wasn't much to do, Cicero just stood by the entrance of the temple and stood guard. It seemed he wasn't going to sleep this night, but he didn't mind.

 

From where he stood, the Ebonguard scanned his surroundings, watching for anything lurking in the shadows.


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#22 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 06:20 PM

As Mettius and Lucy spoke in the inn, Evan joined in...

 

"I doubt the Mages feel that way. What about the ones that don't want to be taken there? I knew a Mage, a man named Qwinby, who was like the father that I never had: he lived on Karak du Ville peacefully, and there are undoubtedly others who live there willingly as well, but what about other ones? The Inquisiton doesn't give them the choice: it kills anyone who they consider a threat, and imprisons those that they can get for life."

 

...And then a voice spoke from the shadows, a voice unmistakably belonging to Ben Blackburn. No one had even noticed he was there before, but he took a step forward to show himself as he spoke.

 

"That's because they're cursed. Look, I'm one of the not hardcore Inquisitors. Like, I didn't even want to be an Ebonguard, and I even have some friends who are mages back on the island. They're not all bad people. I think it's wrong that they have to be locked up. But no matter how good they are, if they get upset about one little thing, they can wipe a town off the map without even meaning to, and they can't stop it. They can kill dozens, even hundreds of people, with little or no effort. What else would Men do with that kind of power? Did you read the history about Mage-Emperor Ildrius? Do you know the things he and his mages did to people?"

 

Ben shook his head, grunting in mild disgust. "I sound like my father," he muttered. "I hate his frickin' lectures. Sorry. But look, the point is, the Inquisition exists for a reason. We keep people safe. I mean yeah, it's hard to put us up to orders like the Templars or the Venators, who really do apparent good, but without us, a lot of people would die."


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#23 Burger Warrior

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 07:23 PM

Lucy smiled, casually looking up at the ceiling with the back of her head on the table. Her arms were outstretched on the table, and the rest of her was completely slouched, absorbing all of the relief she could, and enjoyed learning that Mettius cared about things. "I was the same way in training. I like to think I can still be spunky and energetic, despite the booing of the crowds." She raised her head to look at her friend. "A lot of people don't understand what it is we do. Even other Inquisitors I've worked with. We're not hunting mages, we're securing them. Protecting them from themselves and others. And in those cases where we do kill them, it's out of self-defense, really." She rested her head again. "The Inquisition needs an official mission statement to clarify that."

 

Mettius shrugged. “Don’t we already?” He asked, almost cutting himself off as, of course, Evan walked up. What was with that guy? Did he really not realize he ticked Tibur off every time he showed up? Every time he damn well spoke?

 

The Inquisitor said, rather more bitterly than necessary: "I doubt the Mages feel that way. What about the ones that don't want to be taken there? I knew a Mage, a man named Qwinby, who was like the father that I never had: he lived on Karak du Vide peacefully, and there are undoubtedly others who live there willingly as well, but what about other ones? The Inquisiton doesn't give them the choice: it kills anyone who they consider a threat, and imprisons those that they can get for life."

 

Mettius was very red in the face before Evan was finished. He wanted to explode, to let out his secret, to let Evan know how very, very wrong he was. He wanted to tell him what mages really felt, or how they should be about being walking, ticking, timed explosives. But he knew that would only get him locked up on Karak du Vide, sealed away from ever helping mages turn themselves in to their protectors. Still, the Ebonguard ground his teeth together in frustration, seething in silence… until another Inquisitor spoke up. Benjamin Blackburn

 

"That's because they're cursed. Look, I'm one of the not hardcore Inquisitors. Like, I didn't even want to be an Ebonguard, and I even have some friends who are mages back on the island. They're not all bad people. I think it's wrong that they have to be locked up. But no matter how good they are, if they get upset about one little thing, they can wipe a town off the map without even meaning to, and they can't stop it. They can kill dozens, even hundreds of people, with little or no effort. What else would Men do with that kind of power? Did you read the history about Mage-Emperor Ildrius? Do you know the things he and his mages did to people?"

 

Ben shook his head, grunting in mild disgust. "I sound like my father," he muttered. "I hate his frickin' lectures. Sorry. But look, the point is, the Inquisition exists for a reason. We keep people safe. I mean yeah, it's hard to put us up to orders like the Templars or the Venators, who really do apparent good, but without us, a lot of people would die."

 

Mettius nodded. “Trust me, I know my share of the Conditioned.” He said. “Sometimes they’re prone to forgetting what life is like outside of Karak du Vide, but it is most certainly better than trying to foolishly evade the Inquisition. The Conditioned know they’re prone to explode in magical bursts of energy, and even if they’re not afraid that it can and will kill others and they can’t help it, they know that people will notice that sort of thing.”

“Before you start suggesting what we’re doing is altogether wrong,” Tibur finished, “realize that we’re doing the best thing mankind could think of ever since Ildrius had his way with the world.”


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#24 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 07:31 PM

Evan listened to Ben's lecture, and Mettuis' subsiquent reproofing and wondered how they could swallow such sterotipical bull. The Inquisitor had a point, dangerous magic users should be either locked up or killed, but what about innocent ones?

Evan spoke up and said "I know of the Mage Emperor and what he did, and who's to say that it can't happen again? But it still doesn't justify some of the things the Inquisiton does, even if it's the best they can do."

He looked at Ben and said "I've heard stories: stories of screaming children taken from their familes because of the condition, and also of strange rumors of experiments conducted by Inquisitors on prisoners. I doubt that our order would do such a thing, but after Qwinby-"

Evan paused, and quickly rubbed a hand across his eyes and then continued:

"I'm sorry: It's just that even though I've been an Inquisitor since I was old enough to join, I've always wondered about some of our standards. I know it's for the greater good and all, and its much better than how the common folk try to deal with magic users themselves, but I still wonder sometimes..."

Edited by Dalton Westmoore, 22 February 2016 - 07:41 PM.


#25 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 07:58 PM

"I've heard stories: stories of screaming children taken from their familes because of the condition, and also of strange rumors of experiments conducted by Inquisitors on prisoners. I doubt that our order would do such a thing, but after Qwinby-"

 
Evan paused. Ben wasn't currently wearing his helm, but his face was unreadable other than his usual brooding look.
 
"I'm sorry: It's just that even though I've been an Inquisitor since I was old enough to join, I've always wondered about some of our standards. I know it's for the greater good and all, and its much better than how the common folk try to deal with magic users themselves, but I still wonder sometimes..."
 
"You heard some bullshit stories, then," Ben replied with a shrug. "The Inquisition doesn't take kids away from live parents very often. Usually we're taking the kids away from some corpses that used to be their parents before their own magic killed them. Otherwise we wouldn't even know they were mages." His eyes flicked away from them and his tone dropped, obviously pained, "I had to do it once."
 
He sighed. "Anyway, I used to wonder, too. Still do sometimes. But the more missions you go on, the less you wonder. Hell, I even tried to give a mage girl the benefit of the doubt not too long ago. Submitted a full report about the whole thing and got reprimanded for it - but I shoulda known better. It was my own fault for being damn stupid. She turned on me in one frickin' second after all I'd done for her, poisoned me, tried to kill innocent people, helped this crazy murdering cultist..."
 
His voice drifted off and his jaw briefly clenched.
 
After a second, Ben looked at Evan again. "It sucks, I know, but there's no ideal way to deal with it."

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#26 Ratcatcher

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 08:14 PM

Before Mettius could respond, Evan, the Inquisitor who caused the uproar in the first place, came in and gave his monologue about how the Inquisition can seem like the bad guys to mages. Such a notion seemed to infuriate Mettius, and Lucy wasn't too fond of him bashing on the faction that he himself represented. Before she could let out her rage, Ben spoke.

 

As he did, Lucy was able to breathe enough to tone it down to where she wouldn't question his intelligence. As she calmed down, she remembered why she joined the Inquisition. Seemingly lost memories about her best friend, Amy, flooded back vividly, and there was no doubt in her mind why they were there. 

 

“Trust me," Tibur chimed in, "I know my share of the Conditioned. Sometimes they’re prone to forgetting what life is like outside of Karak du Vide, but it is most certainly better than trying to foolishly evade the Inquisition. The Conditioned know they’re prone to explode in magical bursts of energy, and even if they’re not afraid that it can and will kill others and they can’t help it, they know that people will notice that sort of thing.”

“Before you start suggesting what we’re doing is altogether wrong,” Tibur finished, “realize that we’re doing the best thing mankind could think of ever since Ildrius had his way with the world.” Lucy was surprised; she had never heard another Inquisitor sympathize for magic users so boldly.

 

It was at this point that Evan began to speak again, and Lucy realized that she was tensing up as he spoke. "I know of the Mage Emperor and what he did, and who's to say that it can't happen again? But it still doesn't justify some of the things the Inquisiton does. I've heard stories: rumors from some of the mages there on the island. They say that the Inquisiton experiments on prisoners in the dungeon. I doubt that our order would do such a thing, but after Qwinby-" Evan paused, and quickly rubbed a hand across his eyes and then continued: "I'm sorry: It's just that even though I've been an Inquisitor since I was old enough to join, I've always wondered about some of our standards."

 

"You heard some bullshit stories, then," Ben said, appearing to keep his cool. "The Inquisition doesn't take kids away from live parents very often. Usually we're taking the kids away from some corpses that used to be their parents before their own magic killed them. Otherwise we wouldn't even know they were mages. I had to do it once. Anyway, I used to wonder, too. Still do sometimes. But the more missions you go on, the less you wonder. Hell, I even tried to give a mage girl the benefit of the doubt not too long ago. Submitted a full report about the whole thing and got reprimanded for it - but I shoulda known better. It was my own fault for being damn stupid. She turned on me in one frickin' second after all I'd done for her, poisoned me, tried to kill innocent people, helped this crazy murdering cultist..."

 

As Ben's story trailed off, Lucy's ambivalence rose, stoking a furnace of emotions in her stomach. He topped his tale off by concluding, "It sucks, I know, but there's no ideal way to deal with it."

 

"Look," Lucy said in a withheld and bitter tone, "we don't hunt mages because they're guilty of anything. What we do isn't a crusade of justice; we're helping people. If there was a way for them to contain or cure their Condition, I'd be all for it, but there isn't. Sorry if your friend got carried away-- and I'm not saying he did-- but by accusing the Inquisition of delusions, you're accusing us. Mettius and Ben are what I'm proud to consider my friends, and damn good ones." She choked slightly as she swore; she didn't curse very often. Then again, she wasn't angry very often, either, and her anger was growing. "So..." she lost her initial point thinking about how kind Mettius and Ben had been this mission, but she felt it coming. "...uh, so stop assuming we're all the same, and make us look better than that." She said, her fire lost. Lucy sat back down, right next to Mettius, folding her arms and glaring at Evan.



#27 Sareth

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 09:33 PM

"It happened every other night for a few nights - I fear it'll happen again very soon. We're sure it's a witch because there was once an old woman who came to visit here and peddle her damned herbs. I always knew she was a witch..."
 
"But we treated her poorly, especially you, Mason. And she cursed us. After she disappeared, the kids started to disappear."

 

Kristina hmm'ed in thought as she processed what Mason had said. An old woman selling herbs... it was hardly proof of anything —even odds said it was entirely unrelated; it would hardly be the first time someone just a bit strange was accused of being a witch or warlock. Still, something was taking kids...

 

To try and solve this, one of the templar, Tamaria, tried to get the villagers to round up their kids and secure them in the village temple... She had to give the woman credit for tactical thinking, but the suggestion went over about as well as one might expect with a group of such scared and suspicious people. 

 

 

"Leave it to a bunch of Imperial officials to ride up in here and start herding our own children! Ye've been here for five minutes! Fer all we know you just want to brainwash 'em into joining yer far-off cults! Bah!"
 
She sighed lightly at the woman's accusation, but didn't bother to reply —some people, particularly scared people, wouldn't listen to reason.
 
"Do you think we should stay out here? I mean, maybe then we can see who or what lures the kids off. Or, do we wait until whatever it is comes to get them?"
 
"We should certainly stay out and watch, but I doubt a bunch of superstitious villagers cut off from the rest of the Empire are going to favor us telling them what to do with their children. As is already apparent."

 

"Unfortunately true" she replied to Yaroslava in agreement. "Well then, I guess I'll go take up a station by the temple —on the off-chance anyone decides to go along with Tamaria's plan. If no one shows up by nightfall... I guess I'll take up a post by some of the homes instead" she said, essentially thinking out loud. Still, it was a good idea to make sure they didn't have people clumped up too tightly, or spread too thin.

 

With that, she headed over to the temple, giving a nod of acknowledgement to the Ebonguard, Cicero, before taking up position on the opposite side of the doorway —leaning back against the wall, and staring out into the gathering dusk, still as a statue save for her eyes, and one hand which gently rubbed at the pommel of her sword.

 

It was a good thing she had gotten so much rest the previous night, as there wasn't likely to be much to be had this one...

 

***

 

"You, come with me. I'll need an aide."

 

"Uh, yeah! Right!" Sarael managed to respond, slightly surprised but eager to be of service. She immediately followed Hadrian as Sandra led them to her home.

 

"Liam? Liam!"

 

She sucked in a breath as she saw the man, pale and slack —dead. They were already too late... Bowing her head, she uttered a short prayer for the safety of the man's soul.

 

As Sandra ran from the room, crying, she was torn with indecision —caught between duty, and the desire to comfort the woman. But, after a brief mental struggle, she stayed. Hadrian might need her for something; and they had to find whatever had done this... find it, and make sure it would never happen again!

 

"Do you know what could have done this? Poison, maybe?"

 

Sarael didn't know about such things, and so said nothing. Still, she leaned forwards to get a closer look at Liam's body —instinctively covering her mouth with one hand as she did so—, searching for anything that might indicate what had caused his death.


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

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#28 Burger Warrior

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 11:50 PM

Mettius nearly got up and blew his secret numerous times as Evan continued to struggle to point out they were bad guys. It was like he wasn’t even a real Inquisitor, like he was a mage in disguise! The Conditioned Ebonguard wanted to let loose a long, bitter laugh. What a joke. Evan knew nothing about what it was like to bear Tibur’s curse, and him trying to stand up for mages when he was arguing against one nearly made him physically ill.

 

Fortunately, Ben spoke for him, though he clearly also lacked Mettius’s personal experiences. At least he kept most of the young Inquisitor’s views… and, perhaps more importantly, opposed Evan. Tibur was really getting sick of his ‘comrade’ in general. In fact, he was so focused on that he almost missed the channeler beginning to speak.

 

"Look," Lucy said in a withheld and bitter tone, "we don't hunt mages because they're guilty of anything. What we do isn't a crusade of justice; we're helping people. If there was a way for them to contain or cure their Condition, I'd be all for it, but there isn't. Sorry if your friend got carried away-- and I'm not saying he did-- but by accusing the Inquisition of delusions, you're accusing us. Mettius and Ben are what I'm proud to consider my friends, and damn good ones." She choked slightly as she swore. "So..." she seemed to have lost her initial point. "...uh, so stop assuming we're all the same, and make us look better than that." She said, her fire lost. Lucy sat back down, right next to Mettius, folding her arms and glaring at Evan.

 

Mettius nodded quietly, just waiting for Evan to try arguing further. Gods help him, if this kept going he really would spill his guts. On the flip side, he had a feeling at least Ben wouldn’t take that well in the slightest… but if he lost his temper and failed to explode all over them thanks to his void iron, at least it’d convince Blackburn he was responsible enough to stay in the field. That was all he wanted, and if his secret really was blown… he just hoped everyone could understand he didn’t let his Condition get in the way of his duty.

 

It was what drove him to do his duty.


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#29 Harry Monster Princess

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 12:11 AM

"Liam? Liam!"
 
Hadrian cursed, balling his hands into fists. It was too late. Upon seeing the pale corpse, the woman fled from the house in tears, while the Templar uttered a quick prayer under her breath for the dead man's soul. Hadrian only swore again. If only he had arrived sooner...
 
"Do you know what could have done this? Poison, maybe?" The Templar Malvolio asked. Meanwhile  Sarael leaned forwards to get a closer look at Liam's body —instinctively covering her mouth with one hand as she did so—, searching for anything that might indicate what had caused his death.
 
"Not poison," Hadrian answered, pulling up his blue cloak to cover his mouth and nose before inspecting the body himself. "Whatever made him ill was a disease, but I'm not sure of the origin. The cause of death, on the other hand, was far more... direct."
 
Hadrian directed Sarael's attention to the man's neck, where there was a gash cut into his pale sickly green skin. "Something made this fresh cut into him, but there's no blood around the wound. And look at how pale he is, something might have... drank it all." Hadrian started mumbling to himself, making counting motions on one hand as he muttered through the kinds of swamp monsters that could have done this. "Lamprey? No- no tooth marks. Couldn't be a vampire either. Mosquito beastfolk maybe... do they breed around here? Hrm... Giant Swamp Leech perhaps..."
 
The Venator grunted again. "I can't be certain. Just stay out of the water and keep your skin covered when we go into the swamp."
 
Hadrian Holt kept looking over the body, and spotted another gash on the man's stomach. The Venator pointed it out to the Templar. "Look there, this one was bandaged and the bloodstains on it look a few hours old; the bleeding there clearly stopped before his death. It might be the source of his sickness. Let's see..."
 
Hadrian pulled out a bit of the blanket from the bed, and wrapped his hand in the fabric to protect it from the contaminated flesh. Slowly and carefully, he pulled back the stained bandage to get a better look at the wound.
 
 
------------ 
 
Mina could only protest helplessly as her plan immediately fell apart. No one seemed very enthused, and several recoiled in terror.
 
"Leave it to a bunch of Imperial officials to ride up in here and start herding our own children!" an old woman snorted. "Ye've been here for five minutes! Fer all we know you just want to brainwash 'em into joining yer far-off cults! Bah!"
 
With that, she turned and led her grandchild back toward her home. Other villagers were starting to split up as well, some with children of their own. Mina was stunned, she hadn't expected such instant hostility. She couldn't even say a word before they were all gone.
 
Yaroslava snorted. "We should certainly stay out and watch, but I doubt a bunch of superstitious villagers cut off from the rest of the Empire are going to favor us telling them what to do with their children. As is already apparent."
 
"But why?" Mina shouted. "Why are they superstitious of us? We're here to help them! Don't they realize they're putting their children in danger?" She sighed angrily, frustrated by their paranoia.
 
One of the villager leaders, Mason, glanced around as the villagers started to disperse, turning back to the assorted Imperial officials. "I wish I knew how to help you. Given how much help your kind generally offers us, I can understand the way they feel about this. But," he gestured to the inn, "those of you who don't want to be caught out at night, you'd best head inside. If you want to stay out and wait for the witch, go ahead. I'm heading home."
 
He turned and departed just after he spoke, making his way to a small hovel near the edge of town.
 
"Wait," Mina said. She rushed over to Mason before he left, grabbing his shoulder to stop him. "The others said you treated this witch poorly, what did you do? Why were you suspicious of her? Any information you can give us about her could help us put a stop to this."
 

 


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#30 Flammenwerfer

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 12:57 PM

Night was falling fast, and Gauvain could only ready himself for what was coming. He had silently volunteered to join the guard that remained out at night in his true laconic manner. In response, Mina had sent him and a handful of others to the inn in order to get food, which was something he would have done anyway.

 

A lot of the villagers seemed on edge. He couldn’t blame them. Witches and magic were not an everyday occurrence. He and his Templar brothers and sisters sometimes did battle with necromancers, but that was still rare. Not only that, but magic always gave Gauvain an uneasy feeling. He understood little of it, but had seen first-hand the damage it could do.

 

“We need food for the guard,” he grunted as he entered the inn.


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#31 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 05:43 PM

Two, but only two, small families sheepishly led their children toward the temple where Cicero and Kristina stood waiting. One child looked up at the two Inquisitors in passing. Cicero and Kristina could both hear the little boy address his mother as they passed through the temple doors.

 

"Mommy, why are there only two Inquisitioners?" asked the child. But the Inquisitors lost the conversation as the family went into the temple; still, they thought they heard his mother assuring him everything would be alright.

 

The vast majority of the village's children were, of course, still in their own homes, and as the sky grew ever darker, it became all too apparent that they had no plans of sheltering all the children in the temple. They simply did not trust these orders enough, especially given the Inquisition and Templars were almost never seen out in the swamp... If ever, in fact.

 

After a few moments, Yaroslava strode on over to the temple doors as well, Shade at her heels. She nodded at Cicero and Kristina.

 

"Suppose I'll be joining you," she said, maybe a bit dryly. Shade seemed optimistic as ever, sitting on his haunches by his master's side. If there was anything around, the hound hadn't picked up any sign of it... yet.

 

---

 

Sarael found everything on the body to be just as Hadrian had indicated. As the Venator got a better look at the wound, they could both immediately tell that the gash was made by a sword - something none of the peasants around here would own. It was also easy to tell that the wound was infected after the fact due to a lack of proper treatment... Most likely, that was the cause of his illness.

 

---

 

"Wait," Mina said. She rushed over to Mason before he left, grabbing his shoulder to stop him. "The others said you treated this witch poorly, what did you do? Why were you suspicious of her? Any information you can give us about her could help us put a stop to this."

 

Mason paused in surprise when Mina grabbed his shoulder, turning around to face her. But when he listened to her questions, he merely shook his head and said, "Please, I'll answer you inside. I don't want to be outside at night."

 

He indicated just a few more feet toward his home. Unlocking the door, he gestured Mina inside first before entering, himself. Once they were safely indoors and he had closed the door once more, he turned to face her.

 

"I told her to begone," he said simply. "I treated her 'unkindly' because I knew she was a witch. Who else peddles in alchemy? And I didn't like that hunched, wart-nosed hag giving her alchemy-candy to our children. She talked of selling us cures to illnesses, draughts to protect us from the swamp..." He snorted and crossed his arms again. "Witchcraft. Black magic. She was trouble, and that was the end of it. And now look - she was fogging the minds of our children. Why else would they just disappear? One of my friends - his child was snatched from his own home! Just gone when he woke up in the morning! She bewitched us all, just as I warned everyone she would."

 

---

 

As Lucy, Mettius, and Evan's conversation quieted down, Ben silently moved away from the others and took a seat in a far corner once more, under a window that poured moonlight into the building. Stevan, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found, and Sebastian was busy sitting at the bar, eating some bread and drinking ale to prepare himself for a night watch. He was, however, perhaps indulging in a little too much ale.

 

---

 

“We need food for the guard,” Gauvain grunted as he entered the inn.

 

The innkeeper didn't seem too happy about it, but he didn't outwardly complain. He put together a bunch of bread and filled some bottles of ale, setting them on the bar and nodding toward them, though he was clearly waiting to be paid for it as well. As for the food itself, poor folk like these didn't exactly have much meat to spare.

 

Before Gauvain could move to pay him, however, Sebastian reached into a pouch on his belt and carefully counted out a few silver coins. The barkeep nodded, seeming satisfied, and swept them up into one hand to turn away, leaving Gauvain to take the supplies.

 

---

 

A cold wind blew through the village as night steadily fell. The black sky overhead was filled with twinkling stars, though they did little to offer sufficient light by which to see in the dismal swamp. The crescent moon, gazing down at the Moor like the grinning visage of an evil spirit, provided only meager illumination as well.

 

Falling over the town like a dusting of new-fallen snow was a strange, almost palpable sense of dread. The coming night filled the hearts of the villagers with fear, and every single one of them fled indoors, locking their homes up tight. Even the innkeeper seemed hesitant to leave his doors open to allow customers.

 

Moments after night fell, the songs of the swamp drifted into the village, filling the air. The chorus of frogs, the croaking of toads, the chirping of crickets... and the occasional stranger noise. Unknown creatures moved in the shadows through the mire muck and under the weeping willows, mere shapes in the darkness or sounds of movement on the edges of town.

 

Then, just outside the temple, Shade reacted to something. His ears pricked up and he sniffed the air, suddenly on full alert. Yaroslava turned to regard him as the hound sniffed and sniffed, turning and trotting swiftly toward some unknown scent.

 

Yaroslava immediately followed him, beckoning for Cicero, Kristina, Gauvain, and anyone else present to join her. As they trailed after the hound on the scent, Shade stopped by the edge of town, his fur bristling and a growl rumbling in his throat as he looked out into the mire...

 

There, hanging in the trees, was one of the strangest sights any of them had ever seen. It was candy. Strings of sugary, delicious-looking candies, many brightly-colored, hanging from the branches of the twisted old swamp trees.

 

It seemed to be a trail of such treats, some dangling from trees and others arranged in bushes, still others resting in safe little clean spots on the ground, prepared in such a way that they wouldn't spoil in the bog air. The trail led deep into the swamp from that edge of the town.

 

Staring, Yaroslava glanced back at her fellows. Not everyone was present - some were still talking to villagers, and plenty of others were still in the inn. They needed to gather their forces if they were to investigate.

 

But whatever the case, it seemed the villagers were not entirely wrong: the night held mysteries for this quaint little town... and the children were in danger.

 

 

((Expect a big DM post this weekend and/or once everyone resolves their current actions and regroups.))


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#32 Neyo Wargear

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 06:30 PM

Cicero was joined by another Inquisitor, Kristina, he nodded his acknowledgment of her. Only two families had trusted the orders enough to shelter their children in the temple. Even then, they weren't convinced of the protection. Cicero looked out for any more families, but none came. The night grew darker, only one more Inquisitor strode up to the temple, Yaraslava along with her pet, Shade. She nodded acknowledgement to the couple guarding the entrance, "Suppose I'll be joining you."

 

The night was dimly lit, the wind was cold, and the swamp came to life, crickets chirping, frogs singing, and toads croaking. The hound sensed something as his ears pricked up and he sniffed the air. Something was out there. Yaraslava beckoned for anyone nearby to follow, the group stopped at the edge of town as the Northrim Moosehound's fur bristled and growled.

 

Candy. Candy was hanging in the trees and placed on the ground like bread crumbs to be followed. Yaraslava glanced back at the small group, and Cicero cocked his head curiously. He was just... surprised, although this explained why the children were disappearing. "Clever witch this is, using the sweet tooth of a child to take them away from their home and family."


Omnius mille passus expeditio, omnis fossa bellum.

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"The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."

- General of the Army Douglas MacArthur


#33 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 06:31 PM

((Post for Malvolio will come later, probably the next time someone talks to him.))
 
"Look, we don't hunt mages because they're guilty of anything. What we do isn't a crusade of justice; we're helping people. If there was a way for them to contain or cure their Condition, I'd be all for it, but there isn't. Sorry if your friend got carried away-- and I'm not saying he did-- but by accusing the Inquisition of delusions, you're accusing us. Mettius and Ben are what I'm proud to consider my friends, and damn good ones. So...uh, so stop assuming we're all the same, and make us look better than that."
 
The Channeler's outburst took Evan by surprise. He rubbed his head for a minute before he replied "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to blame you for Qwinby's death, but it sure sounded that way. I've not been outside of Karak du Ville much, and I haven't encountered any mages besides the ones on the island, so my views are very biased one way or the other."
 
He looked at his three companions in arms and made a half bow, saying "I'm sorry to all of you. I blamed you all for something that you definitely weren't a part of. If there is any way to make it up to, I will, because I would like to be counted among one of your...ah, damn good friends."
 
*
 
Evan stepped out of the inn and took in a breath of the night air. He heard Shade the hound growling, and moved over to the hound, assuming that nothing was wrong. That was, however, before he saw the candy.
 
A trail of the stuff lead off into the swamp, and what's more, it definately hadn't been there when he had last been outside.
 
The Southron Inquisitor turned to Yaroslava and said "What's going on? And where the heck did all this...stuff come from?!" 

Edited by Dalton Westmoore, 24 February 2016 - 06:22 PM.


#34 GhostlyCheese

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 10:05 PM

"I dont trust my night vision outside Cathas admitted, quietly. But you Venatori have potions to help that or something, right? She asked uncertainly. Would I be able to use one?

Grey looked down at his satchel and pulled it to his chin. "Well... actually, that isn't a bad idea... but I'm not sure if I have very many. He pulled out a small, makeshift case. Inside were small potions of a odd looking liquid. "I only have five... and they aren't particularly sweet." He pulled one and held it in his hand. "If Hadrian asks..." Grey stopped, and gave a sigh, before setting the potion in Irena's palm. "Bottoms-up." He smirked.

---

Grey understood that some of the towns-people did not trust the group, his parents would have reacted the same way if men in hoods and black armour came into their settlement and told them to bring all the children to be 'watched' over by them, to leave the parents powerless in their children's protection. It was simply acting against all basic parental instinct, and as a hunter, Grey understood that instinct wasn't something that was changed easily.

The stars' light barely broke the canopy of foliage that hung over the swamp. The wilderness in this place was a far cry from the home in the North he had lived and hunted in, mainly the climate and water, which changed all habitat around it. As a cold wind blew through the town, even the northerner pulled his cloak around him in hopes to break the chill as it passed. Strange wind... Grey thought, but something far wilder was at works that night.

Grey looked out upon the swamp to see a trail of candy. The sweets hung from trees and cleaner areas of the ground. It would be easy to overwhelm a child's fear of the dark with the alluring sight of sugary goodness. Even Grey's mouth watered slightly at the sight.

"What's going on? And where the heck did all this...stuff come from?!" Grey could hear the Inquistor ask his superior as he saw the same as Grey.

Grey pulled his scarf to his neck, revealing a smirk. "A child's fear of the dark is one of the most basic instinct, natural, we are born with the fear of the unknown. The fear of what we can't see and understand." He stepped closer to Evan. "But if you attract the eyes and mouth with the welcoming and sweet lure of sugar candy..." He reached down to pick up a single piece. "What's to fear?" He shrugged and dropped the piece. "I wouldn't eat one. There's a chance they've been spiked."

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#35 Flammenwerfer

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Posted 24 February 2016 - 01:39 PM

Bread and ale. Not the most filling of meals, but it would at least keep them going during the night. As much as Gauvain liked good food, he was willing and able to go without luxury in times like this, with only his conviction as a Templar to fuel him. It looked like there was more than enough for the whole group. While it wasn’t the finest meal he’d ever eaten, he wouldn’t be fighting the witch on an empty stomach, and that was all he could really ask for.

 

As Sebastian paid for the food, Gauvain collected up the bottles and chunks of bread and left the inn with a respectful nod of thanks to the back of the barkeep. He also silently thanked Sebastian for being willing to pay for all this food. Exiting the inn, he walked among the ones that had chosen to stay outside, dispersing bread and ale to his compatriots. It was all they had to sustain themselves for now.

 

Silently, he followed Yaroslava and her dog to the very edge of the town, and followed the hound’s gaze to the end of the mire. He couldn’t see much, but he got the feeling something was out there, waiting for something or someone.

 

"What's going on? And where the heck did all this...stuff come from?!"

 

It surprised Gauvain as well. Candy hanging from the trees and littering the ground. He was certain that hadn’t been there before. Now he understood how the witch was luring children. After all, what child could resist the lure of sweet food?

 

“Must be magic,” he said. It was nothing but trouble.


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---Writing Coming Soon---

 

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#36 Ratcatcher

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Posted 24 February 2016 - 07:44 PM

"I'm sorry," said the dark-skinned Ebonguard, "I didn't mean to blame you for Qwinby's death, but it sure sounded that way. I've not been outside of Karak du Ville much, and I haven't encountered any mages besides the ones on the island, so my views are very biased one way or the other."

 

He looked at his three companions in arms and made a half bow, saying "I'm sorry to all of you. I blamed you all for something that you definitely weren't a part of. If there is any way to make it up to, I will, because I would like to be counted among one of your...ah, damn good friends." With that, he went outside. Lucy remained at Mettius' side, trying to remain unbiased as she pondered his apology.

 

"Well," she finally said, waiting until he was out the door, "I guess he probably has a good heart, even if he does piss me off." She looked over to Ben, and then Mettius, her brow still furrowed and arms still tensely crossed. "It was probably childish of me to snap at him like that, though. I guess I took it personally when he assumed that we would willingly hurt anyone. I mean, part of the reason I'm here is because the Inquisitors that escorted my friend were very generous to her. Cautious, but generous."

 

The Channeler stayed for another minute or so, letting her emotions release some. "Well, it's getting dark, and I'm pretty tired. I'm going to grab some dinner and head into a room. If you need anything, or if you want to join me, the door is open. I won't be crawling into bed just yet." She stood up, curious to see how different the rooms were in a mud-roof inn.



#37 Sareth

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 11:04 AM

Kristina followed Yaroslava —who was likewise following her dog, who seemed to have picked up a scent— through the dark, only to be confronted by a bizarre sight: candy, hung up in the trees like sugary trail markers, leading deeper into the swamp.

 

"... What's to fear? I wouldn't eat one. There's a chance they've been spiked." 

 

"No kidding" she replied dryly to the venator's comment —though, to her own surprise, her voice was lowered. She wasn't one to spook easily, but something about this night seemed to instinctually encourage caution.

 

“Must be magic.”

 

"Not magic —not necessarily... Just evil" she replied to the large templar, her face taking on a grim cast as her eyes followed the trail of candy to where it vanished in the dark once more. They had to follow, no question, but they were missing some of their number...

 

"I'll go get the others from the inn" she said quietly, turning to Yaroslava. "I think we need all hands for this."

 

With that, she took off at a jog back to the inn through the moonlit streets —one hand resting on her weapons the whole way. Upon reaching the building, she opened the door. "Psst!" she hissed softly to get the attention of the few templar and Inquisitors in the room. "Everyone outside! We've got a lead on whoever has been taking kids" she said calmly, though with a hint of urgency, as she gestured for the others to follow her.

 

***

 

 

"Something made this fresh cut into him, but there's no blood around the wound. And look at how pale he is, something might have... drank it all... Lamprey? No- no tooth marks. Couldn't be a vampire either. Mosquito beastfolk maybe... do they breed around here? Hrm... Giant Swamp Leech perhaps... I can't be certain. Just stay out of the water and keep your skin covered when we go into the swamp."
 
"Uh, r-right" Sarael replied, not really sure what he was talking about —she'd never even heard of any of the things he'd mentioned, except for vampires—, but taking his word for it.
 
"Look there, this one was bandaged and the bloodstains on it look a few hours old; the bleeding there clearly stopped before his death. It might be the source of his sickness. Let's see..."
 
"It looks like a sword-cut... and it looks like it got infected" she commented, as Hadrian peeled back the bandage, revealing the wound. "Maybe it was nothing supernatural after all...?" she pondered aloud.
 
"Though, hmm... I can't imagine many people around here have a sword... Would any of those... creatures you mentioned use one?" she asked the venator.

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

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#38 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 11:42 PM

Eventually, the assorted Inquisitors, Templars, and Venatori split up and located all their fellows throughout the village, wherever they'd gotten off to. Once their forces were gathered, they met at the candy trail at the edge of town. Thankfully, they hadn't seen any children sneaking about at night, so the village itself seemed safe for the time being.

 

Yaroslava brought a torch as she rejoined the others, and Stevan passed out torches to several other individuals - there were six torches total, and whoever requested one got one. The swamp was dark, and it would only be wise to have more light.

 

Once they had gathered their bearings, they set off into the treacherous swamp, following the strange candy trail...

 

 

((AREA TRANSITION: ZONE - Swamp West of the Moor.))


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