The snow they kicked up quickly began to run red with the blood of the ambushers. Daggers and fists working in tandem in a bloody dance, they had made it halfway through the marketplace with not even a scratch. The number of dead they left behind was unknown to Larit. Each face that leapt up to skewer him vanished in a mist of blood and an identical one would appear on his other side, this time holding a spear.
The fear in Elarial's voice drove him and the others quicker.
His mind clouded, only instincts keeping him alive. No cognitive thought crossed his mind and it was only the movement of Elarial in front of him that kept him going in a straight line. Sounds reached his ears of the combat behind him as the non-combatants of the group took up arms to protect themselves.
"My husband is in the military." A whack of metal crashing into someone's skull. "Oh, by the Trinity, they're everywhere!" A grunt and the snapping of wood. "He loves his little girl." A cry of surprise and something hitting the ground. "Kalros!"
The cry of Julia ripped through the air and for a moment, Larit faltered. The dagger that had been aimed for an eyesocket instead slid off the man's cheek. The soldier recovered quickly though and through a mask of blood sent his own weapon, a wickedly hooked halbard, through the gap in the mage-killer's defences. The next dagger did find the soldier's eye, pushed through it with a sickening pop and the force of Larit's blow sent the tip through the back of the man's skull.
Up became down and Larit's knee gave out. A bloody hand supported him from toppling to the snowy ground completely and part of his mind wondered why the snow was melting around him. Kalros fell into view, his head cleanly chopped in two, his eyes staring blankly at the man that had tried to protect him. You failed us, they seemed to say and all Larit could do was agree. He had failed so many, the Master being the first. He had been trained to kill for him and in turn killed the Master when things began to look like the end for him. Kalros was just the newest on the growing list. Distantly, Larit could make out the sobbing of the late man's wife and could even see the body jerk as she shook him.
"You were supposed to protect us!" The voice sounded like it came down a long tunnel, but it sparked a fire in Larit. He was supposed to have been, just like he was supposed to protect those in the band of thieves he had ran. All these deaths lay at his feet and the bodies were growing higher. Soon it would be impossible to move, he figured. The bodies just kept on coming.
His eyes flashed open and with a shaking hand, he pushed himself to his feet. Vision swam but he pushed through it. The soldier that had been rushing to the exposed back of Kalro's wife faltered as a bloody monstrosity with a face like ice stood to face him. He had seen his comrade skewer the man, he should have been dead! He had paused for a moment, only a moment, and then he heard the man say: "I am free."
The dagger slid from the sheath on his arm and into his hand. In a split second it was flying through the air, it's magic taking it directly into the soldier's throat. "I am a good man," Larit growled and another dagger sliced through the air. He could feel himself growing weaker, but with his free arm, he hauled Julia to her feet and pushed her forward, towards the woman with the dead child in her arms. Somehow she had gotten ahead of them and was idling chatting away with Elaria. They were only a few feet from the safety of another street, away from the ambush spot, and only a handful of soldiers were left to challenge their passage.
"Go," Larit said softly, his voice breaking from the strain of staying on his feet. His eyes danced over the soldiers and he grinned, his teeth red with own blood.
"I am loved!" he roared.
The biggest lie.
Daggers flew from the sheath, a river of steel, and they flew into the air spreading into a deadly fan. Only a handful were needed for the ones in the market and those were quick to find their mark, but the others went seeking other foes to warm their cold touch, disappearing over the buildings. As the last dagger vanished from sight, the sheath fell to the ground, its leather cracked and worn with age, the magic used up.
"Oh, bloody hell," he muttered to himself as he moved forward. "Not going to die like this."
The river of time is tolerable, born by the short-lived, who always wail at their short time on this world without ever really understanding what eternity meant. Something else had emerged from the dark days of war, and causes.
And though she slept, inside, deep within the manifold layers woven like the finest lace, she laughed, full throated.
Life was much more interesting, this way.
On the dream rolled....
There was a pillar of the Art, towering into the sky like an open, festering wound. Already distraught over the passing day, she could not believe what she saw and felt. It was a piece of divinity, so intense.
No mortal, and very few immortals - four that she could think of - could wield so much, and yet live. The Gods themselves had descended on Kantorin, amidst the armies fighting and dying, and now they proceeded to tear everything apart.
The little woman stopped as she rounded a street, and laughed silently to herself. Idiot! As if there was anywhere safe from that. She watched as dirt and stone erupted into the air, fountains of fire and ash spewing skyward. And entire section of the city shuddered violently, a mountain thrusting skyward, companions joining it. Everything the had stood where they now did was as rubble, else strewn across the rocky slopes. The plains heaved beneath her feet.
She really didn't go for such short sighted causes. The man had done something to gain her personal ire, though. She felt hollow, sometimes, about the death of so many of her people. And then, she had thought about it. It sounded cold and selfish, but what had he exactly done to her?
The curse, of course, and a few good brawls to speed her along her way. Thats what it all boiled down to. She wanted the man to remove the curse on her, and in the meantime have a chance to be both bothersome, and meddlesome. It wasn't what she was meddling in, of course - she didn't care. It was just that there were ways to pass the ages, and then there were ways. Having played games with and for power, she knew exactly how to get underneath the skin of others of like mind.
She started back down the street the way she had come. And thought, long and hard.
It may have been a major mistake, in the past, for anyone to account her less than very intelligent. And so she crafted a delightful weave, in her mind. How to carry it off? And why even bother? The whole story can be played out right here, right now. Only, if she played it straight on, it would end with another brawl and the loss of fairly good friends after her own fashion. Oh, and very likely the damnable, damnable curse would still linger.
It would also be a mistake to think that she really cared about either the Empire she purportedly served, or about the Armies of Night, the ressurection of any dark goddess - which was laughable anyway but itself - or the battle of Good versus Evil. There was no such thing as intrinsic evil or good. The world was full of people, and all of them are neither. Or both, it can get very confusing.
Instead, it wasn't good or evil she cared about. Olander still held some meaning to her, but it was like a fond memory of a long forgotten time. No religous quest, which was on the same level of idiocy as resurrecting dark goddesses. No, it was all about pricking peoples private world, and in general being a nuisance to someone.
And thus, the plan she created was tainted by her strange ideas.
There is more, of course. A cliche battle of Good versus Evil - in this case, between an idiot puppet and a slightly vexed midget with a staff. The idiot had a lot of muscles and if not no brains, then he certainly wasn't using them then at the time. She really only wanted the curse lifted, and then he could be on his way. It shouldn't been a big deal, one would think, but he had mate it one. He outmatched her in raw power, but raw power doesn't always win the day.
That was the day the world stood still.
The clock's hand sit motionless, but the faint creak of gears foretold that it would not stand still forever.
In a cave, a dreamer lay, covered in dust, and the faint, ever so faint puff of breath quickened. The dream ended, and so she slipped into another dream, the Dream. It would be very soon now.
Honeybadger don't care.....Honeybadger don't give a shit!
Through all the world, many of their like had been laid, over the course of history immemorial. They had served the wicked and the depraved just as easily as the high and the righteous. They were, in of themselves, neither good nor evil.
But they were also not quite alive, and not quite objects. They didn't have a mind, but a mind of their own at times, and now they hummed. Hundreds or thousands of years in the making, laying dormant, something in the background and never really felt or seen.
And soon, their end would come, their purpose fulfilled.
The snow was smirched along a path thirty paces long, bodies torn and crushed and beaten to death. Elarial added her own offering to the mess, blood oozing from numerous wounds. Some of them were quite bad, and she limped along, fatigue settling over her like a mantle. She glanced back at the mortal combat ensuing in the ambush point, and shook her head.
In her experience humans often seemed trouble - all the other peoples ofthis world seemed conflicted, deep inside. As far as she knew, there was nothing of that conflict within her or her people. Nothing like it at all.
A tribal people, existing since time out of mind and by one of their greatest antecedents, virtually immortal. It was the other bloods that mingled in their veins, and something else, that darkened the whole affair some, but what they had been crafted from was, for all intents and purposes, eternal. Perhaps that long life granted them the straightforwardness that others lacked.
To boil it down, there was no torn decisions. Everything was cast in black and white, with very few shades of gray. It may be different for each of them, but each of them was defined by the goal of the moment - and do not think of that as you would others. The moment could stretch to times far out of mind.
Elarial owed the woman nothing. Come to it, she owed Larit an equal share of nothing, but something about the troubled man intrigued her. All around her she could feel the ancient art stirring to life. Anticipation was nothing, nor eagerness. All was ready, and whatever snare or device the ancient sorceress had laid over the world, it was now ready to do what it was meant.
And there would be no escaping it.
She stopped her pained stride and cast an unreadable glance at the woman with her corpse. "The gate is due north. If you run, you might make it away." Her tone suggested that the soldiers were, perhaps, the least of concerns. She turned and ignored the shout of protest behind her as she strode - limped - back the way she had come, lifeless eyes glazed and staring in silent accusation as she strode by.
The display of sorcery was awe inspiring, in a way, but also saddening. Devices such as the one he had used were quite common, once a long time ago.
She opened her mouth, but no sound came.
The world seemed to ripple, for a moment. She could feel it shiver, convulse, against the touch of something powerful. And it gave way to a roaring that drowned out everything but the sudden flash of white light, and for a long time, it seemed, deafening noise and blinding light were her world.
Blood red eyes peered down in pure condescension at the rabble assembled before her. A battered warrior, a child, some kind of scholar, a creature that, if it wasn't and Ascendant of some sort, was at the very least the tool of one. The others were men who lived here, fought to defend their home.
She smirked, clutching the fragment of the seal, slightly annoyed that the stone figurine was squirming so in her hand. That object was her soul purpose here - these lives meant nothing to her, in the face of the greater goal.
"You will bleed, but not by my hands. I seek His awakening; your deaths, the others can have." She barked a short laugh, and then darted into the line of soliders, careless of pursuit. She felt the sting of steel but paid it little heed as she broke into the ranks of her own men, who moved out of her way instinctively. She slowed her pace, enjoying the warm sense of accomplishment.
"'scuse me?" A voice piped in her hand, and she looked down at the seal. It had hands on its tiny hips, and though it had no features there was a hint of a malicious smile to its voice. "I suppose you an' I will be making a better aquaintance, Mistress Blood."
She stared at the thing, never ceasing her steady pace. "And what are you supposed to be? Aside from a nuissance, one I will be shortly getting rid of."
A squeaky laugh, the very sound grating on the Matriarchs nerves. "A nuisance is what I am, what I was created to be. Among other things."
The creature growled. "Alas, she was a fool to think you would last long enough to cause real irritation. When I release Him, you will vanish. Its part of the whole process."
It said nothing, exuding an air of smug knowledge. She ignored it, and stuffed it into the cloth wrapped around her breasts. It wasn't entirely comfortable there, but its voice was muffled by the cloth, which worked just as well.
She had gone perhaps another twenty paces further on, when she heard its piping voice again. Somehow it had wriggled around enough to get its head above the cloth. "Did you ever really stop and think about the weaving of this particular prophecy. I am quite sure I gave it to you right out of my own mouth."
That was reason for pause. Rei even stopped and stared down at her chest. "So? The words were ture prophecy."
Again, that smug air. "It promises your victory. It doesn't say anything about all the rest." It held up a stone hand, and a strange sound, very much like stone fingers trying to snap, cracked through the air. "Oh, snap."
The sounds of fighting all around slowed, then ceased. Rei looked up sharply, irritation battling with confusion on her face. "What have you done?"
The faint feeling of a victorious smile was all the figurine had to offer.
The boy was pr4essed, and pressed hard.
The arrows never slowed from Valaetia's bow, but the tide seemed unceasing. He darted forward after the woman with the red eyes, but she was gone before he had made a few steps, one of his little prizes in her hands. He would have taken it back, except the momentary gap in the wall of shields she had made was filled with soldiers of the other side. For a long moment, he was hard pressed to dodge their lethal steel, and then the wall was whole again, men fighting and dying to hold the line. There were so many dead, already, scattered on the ground amidst dark blood, eyes opened in sightless surprise. He didn't pay them any particular mind.
He was still gamely trying to find a way through when the light came, and stole away his world.
Continued at http://www.monarchygame.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=1325
While heavy torsos that heave and hurl / will crunch like nuts in the mouth of squirrels.
Yeah, its Seska. Start running now, bitch.
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