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 Gathering the hounds. {Reverent against Dogs} 
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Post Gathering the hounds. {Reverent against Dogs}
Approx starting stats:

Dogs: 1,200,000 4 300,000
Reverent: 900,000 3 300,000

Good luck to all involved. ~{END OOC}~

They streamed forward, straight into the midst of the armies, even if they were small, of The Black Dogs. Serried rank upon serried rank, dressed in full battle armor, glistening blade next to glistening shields, protecting the silvery standard of the Gathering of the REverent in battle. The war was inevitable.....war was always inevitable, on this island. No matter what the outcome of a fight, there would always be another fight. And another.

She stood atop the hill, overlooking the ranks as they marched towards the ever more ephemeral keeps of the heathen Lords. Those very same lords....who might have, at one time or another, committed the same crime to her....and probably allready had, without her knowledge. But that, as far as she was concerned was not hte purpose of todays excersie. Todays exercise was to let the isle hear of the coming of the Reverent. Before now, it had been but a rumor, some special meeting, and some strange woman who had gathered that meeting. This was the real thing...the force that would uphold that ideal.

She grasped the staff tighter, letting the sensations of this place enter her freely....she could feel the breaths of her warriors quicken, hear the beat of the marching drums pick up pace to double time....and then the charge was called. The sounds of a thousand warriors shouting att he top of their voices, running down into the valley to sack the kigndoms' keep and take its Lord hostage. She shivered with excitement as the battle was angaged by the defenders, the terrifying clash of steel upon steel, shields rammed forcefully into each other, and wholesale slaughter began. The enemy here resisted strongly for a while, before the defensive untis began to cave, then broke apart and quickly splintered into the field of rout, forces throwing their weapons down behind them as they fled into the hills for safety. No news had come from the other fronts yet. She did not expect all of them would go as easily. The cries of her men in their celebration of victory rose to greet her ears, celebrations she knew would not last. This was merely the opening foray, the begining of ther bloodshed. In a days time, the remaining forces of the false gods' chosen would march on Gods on people, and attempt to do exactly what was done here.

The military she had brought with her quickly went about the process of occupying that land which had been taken, and one of her aides departed from her side as she turned to head back to headquarters (temporary) to review the facts of the post assault strategic capability of their enemy.

She turned, and nodded to another of her emmisaries, a silent, meaningful gesture. The scribe merely nodded, and mounted her horse, galloping quickly to the east, bearing the pre-written engagement document, to be delivered by hand to the ruling body of the Black Dogs.

Quote:
The Leadership of the Black Dogs...

I regret to inform you of my decision to strike at your alliances' lands, satrap domains, and controlled territories. The decision was made after careful deliberation - the threat you pose to the followers of God is simply too great to be ignored. We respect your position as the defender in the forced occupation of your territories...and should you wish us to withdraw and remvoe our forces from your lands, you but merely need contact me through any means. I pray for your health, depsite our state of war.

Sincerely,
Seska Dragonslayer
Reverent Divine, Gathering of the Reverent.....Gods' chosen.


She had composed it in the early evening hours the day before, while they ahd been in route to their enemies' strongholds. Eloquent it was, yes, but it would not excuse the loss of lives that the declaration engendered. But war was war, and this was an issue of faith....either the heathen would allow themselves purification, or they would need to burn to clean the sins of mortality from their earthly bodies.

She rode back into the woods, to make the day and a half journey to the current basecamp.

_________________
GM Ordo Draco | Co-GM Demonic Reality | GM Revenant & Calael
And when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
Ask Seska. I think he knows...


Mon Nov 03, 2003 12:36 am
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OOC: Good luck Dogs.

The sun had begun its slow climb toward the sky, blanketing the mountainpass below with a warm hazy glow. The animals were beginning to stir from their dens eagerly awaiting what the new day was going to bring. Across the pass and a little farther, Atredia's men also waited eagerly for the dawning of the new day. Today was going to be a day where he and his men can purge the world of sin. Today was going to be a day where God shall determine the faithful and seperate the chaff.

A horn cry heralded the start of the battle and, like swarm of angry ants, the Reverant army began to flood into the valley forming ranks several deep in front of the Dardenite fortress. Dressed in white and silver, they marched in unison towards their designated position with the tips of their spears gleaming in the air and grim looks etched upon their faces.

Not long after the men had assembled, a fanfare of trumpets sounded throughout the valley annoucing the arrival of Atredia and his honorguard. He was armored tip to toe with a radiant white full plate, its rims gilded with gold. Its design was ornamental as well as functional, and had time and time again proven to be the only thing that had spared his life from iminent death. On his head he wore an open faced helm ornamented with great plumes. He was not concerned about running the risk of leaving his face exposed at all. His men needed to see his face in battle and, more importantly, the heathens needed to understand that they were looking into the eyes of death himself.

Quicker than the eye could tell, he drew his blade and thrust it into the air. Caught up in the fervor of the moment, Atredia had only one last thing to say to the doomed heathens:

"Woe to thee, sinner. Justice shall be served to the wicked."

There was one last blast from the horns and the war drums began to beat, signalling the start of the charge. His armies cried in unison and surged forward, a tidal wave of swords and spears. They knew that they would leave no survivors this day nor would the enemy willfully surrender.

Steel clashed upon steel as the two armies collided. Atredia had taken his place in the vanguard alongside the rest of the soliders. He was soon greeted with a lone defender who had stubbornly refused to die under the crushing weight of the army. Fury and anger guided his swordarm as he slashed him in the throat. Blood had splattered upon his armor, painting it deep crimson, but he was beyond caring.

For today was going to be a day of massacre.

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The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;


Mon Nov 03, 2003 8:45 pm
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The cries of war resounded through the hills as the enemy rushed forward once more, brilliant blades flashing in the dull light.

She danced. She danced the death knell, the dance of the dead, of death, her blade flashing about in a lethal arc, weaving in and out, over and under the enemy defenses, dropping them one here, five there, the glittering blade never stopping its movement.

The Veiled Lady, dressed from head to toe in the brown clothing, much like the desert people save more throroughly and much closer fitting, danced among the enemy as they approached. The stories of following the Black Dogs where ever they went was a poorly written tale....the Lady had, and had found this, a thriving realm filled with the riches of prosperity. Found, and left to the sacrilligeous touch of the Drow, who could not leave the shirne to the pagan untouched, leaving them as cinders upon the wind. She had been long gone when the first of the sorceries rained down heavily upon the pagans' chosen, had been too far to watch the walls of the city collapse, crumble to dust under the onslaught that God granted his childern. There were lives lost....inevitable, of course, but innocent lives would always be sacrificed in the name of God - it was their choice. Needless slaughter was not the answer, but trying to avoid killing them while trying to destroy the active elements of the pagan lords' forces was impossible.

Her shining blade clove through enemy steel as if it wasn't even there, diving into the warm, sucking flesh of mens' chests to pierce the heart, the source of life. The slaughter went on in quick succession as the men finished firing their bolts from the fortified redoubt behind her, nested in a cleft at the approach to the first of many small passes that led to the Teeth and therefore to Ivalice. Dropping their bows and crossbows, they picked up their favored weapons save for the dark skinned Drow, and dove forward into the fray, slamming into the active battle withthe fury of a typhoon. The enemy recoiled, but held their ground and continued to make pained advances towards the pass.

She had been to that realm befopre it was lain to waste, her and her small band. A hundred of her Mistress' Elite Drow, a couple hundred Sylvans, bows and blades upon their backs, and a hundred of the High Elves so revered for their ability to turn the enemy aside, to lead them astray and the crush them when they lost their way. Thats what they had started with, before they had run across the siege force heading from that same realm they had infiltrated earlier.

And now, a half a week later, they were engaged for the fourth time against a foe numbering at over three thousand strong. When the enemy had started out, they had numbered closer to seven thousand, but the days of travel had taken their toll. Poisoned water and food, their sentries slaughtered while they lay in camp. Short skirmishes in tight spaces that afforded no room to move....and the first encounter, a ravine that led out to a platuea. There the enemy had lost over fifteen hundered, a mortal blow that sounded the original death knell. And now, after days of uneasy travel and fighting, they attempted the first pass to Ivalice. There was only three days between them and Ivalice at this slowed pace, and by then, the Lady hoped that the Divine would have finished emplacing the necessary fortifications.

Her blade reversed direction, splitting two heathen heads like over-ripe fruit, and she began to backtrack over the fallen, some dead, som,e groaning as the pain of life slowly leeched from their dying bodies. The remnants of her forces began to retreat as the enemy broke into confused groups fighting back against an enemy they should have been slaughtering, and before long all were safe behind the stone redoubt, launching recovered arrows back at the enemy. An enemy who fell back in rout, fleeing from the stinging death that rained from the skies. The Lady knew she could not hold this position forever, and had in fact allready sent a small party of fifty of the High Elves and a few Drow scouts ahead to find the next defensible position and secure it.

"M'lady, if you listen and watch, I hope you are ready soon. These delaying tactics won't last much longer....the enemy cannot be stopped by my blade alone..." She muttered under her breath, before the horns of the enemy forces blew once more to announce the renewed charge.

A couple more hours. That was all she could do to hold this place, and then they would have to retreat at double time to avoid being slaughtered here.

The Black Dogs would be forced to flee with tails between legs, if the Lady had anything to say about it.

_________________
[center]The words you say, never seem to live up to the ones inside your head.
The lives we make, never seem to get us anywhere but dead.
[/center]


Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:41 am
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On and on the cries of death filled the mountain pass, drowning the oft peaceful country side with its macabre chorus. Men of both faiths were being cut down where they stood. Both sides knew there was going to be no mercy given out in this war.

Amidst the confusion of battle, Atredia had lost all semblance of restraint. The anger, the death, the killing; it had all taken its toll upon him. Blood trickled from many of his minor wounds, mixing his own with the blood of the fallen. Still he pressed on, his blade ringing again and again as he headed to the middle of the battlefield, where most of the heavy fighting was still taking place.

As he approached, however, he spotted three Dardenites mercilessly toying with one of his trapped men. The Dardenites, aware that new quarry had just arrived, finished the helpless soldier and began to advance upon Atredia. Cold fury drove the weariness from Atredia's arms as he watched one of his loyal men cut down in front of him. Without another thought, he bolted toward group, intent on exacting their much deserved fate.

Surrounded on all sides, Atredia's next actions were made out of pure desperation. He spun about, whirling, cutting and slashing all in a frantic pace. His sword work was nothing short of brilliant, yet he was still hard-pressed to find a little reprieve. The foes that he faced were no novices of war, and were soon settling into the rhythm of Atredia's dance. He would have to act now or face cold steel.

He lunged for the first Darden, catching him by surprise, and promptly slew him on the spot with a well placed slash to the throat. Atredia paid dearly for that move, as he felt the blade of the Darden's companion cut through his armour and into flesh. Gritting his teeth against the overwhelming pain, he pressed on with his offence, spinning about to deflect his aggressor's blade wide. He swung mightily at the opening cleaving the poor Dardenite's armour open with a grating whiny sound. The Dardenite was dead before he hit ground. The last Dardenite, having had enough after seeing both his comrades cut down, turned and ran. Atredia, however, had no strength left for the chase. He quickly surveyed the wounds that he had received and was dismayed. This brief skirmish had cost him a lot more than he wanted it to.

The adrenaline of the fight had begun to subside, leaving him cold and weary. Blackness began to creep into his eyes, slowly dimming his vision. A cry from his left quickly jolted him from his unnatural sleep and he turned and braced himself for the coming attack. He was relieved to see that the person was none other than his commander. His face was grim, grimmer still when he saw the wounds upon his lord.

"My liege, you're hurt..." the commander stated through gasps.

"It is nothing, I'll live," Atredia insisted stubbornly, "Tell me, how goes the rest of the battle?"

"Reinforcements have arrived for the enemy forces, we didn't expect them so soon!" he answered. "The battle is lost, we must do what we can and pull back."

Atredia spat some of the blood that mingled with his saliva. Things had indeed turned for the worst. "Sound the retreat. Take your men and hold the heathens as long as you can. We make our stand at the bridges just over yonder hills."

"Aye, sir"

Atredia grabbed the commander on the shoulder and looked him straight in his eyes. "Remember, we only need distractions, not martyrs. Do NOT get carried away."

The commander nodded solemnly and headed off, rallying as many as he could. Atredia could only hope that the rest of the Reverent were having better results.

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The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;


Wed Nov 05, 2003 1:53 am
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Distractions....she was running out of them, and fast.

It was swift - over night, the enemy had set about the task, probably within their homes and out of range of her own influence - at forging the focus points of the power of their so called deity. Along with that, they had increased the pressure...perhaps they realized that time was of the essence, that speed was imperative, and that if they failed even once in their push towards the homelands of the Reverent they would lose their precarious intiative, and forfeit it back to....her. The heathen made a mistake in assuming that the Reverent were merely another band of cutthroats come from the wasts of Gods' own from previous times. They also made the mistake that she, sworn to defend the Mistress and therefore the capitol, such as it was, would ever let them pass.

The sorcery came at dawn. The storm clouds that had merely dampened their clothes and spirits for days of high stakes fighting suddenly changed their characteristics, becoming howling bastions of power, ripping through the forested hills like a scythe, tearing the land apart where they went in waves.

They reached Jut, a place upon the last ridge before the crossing, and found the fortifications shattered, the stone left as rubble upon the flattened mesa-like protrusion of the land. The walls had fallen down the sheer cliffs to the east and west, and crumbled in between; gatehouses smashed, buildings left ruined. The mornings freak weather proved its purpose, and filled the Lady with a new sense of purpose. The enemy were somewhere behind, and not far - she had left men to their certain death defending their reargaurd, trying to preserve as many of the precious little military as was left to such a small alliance. She left behind a small force again, here, amid the undefensable ruins to slow the enemy, hating herself for sacrificing men to this cause, this foolish war. The Mistress was right though....best to sacrifice a few lives, and bring the word of God to the pagan, than to wait for them to try and bring their blasphemy to their own soils.

The day faded away, and in the south, behind them, they watched as the skies were lit a dull orange where the Jut had been, and she was reminded that her men had just been sacrificed to God again....and they had bought them a few more hours. By night, they had come to the Crossing.

They passed by the armed pickets that hid among the trees, concealing the number of men stationed here, and came to the bridge. Those units who still lived went back to their original companies, the wounded, of which there were few, went to the healers to be healed, but more likely to die. She stayed with those men who had fought alongside her, and only after they had left, did she leave to go to the river, its cold water steaming against the sharp chill of night.

She dipped the blood caked blade into its chill waters, watching in a seeming trance as the filth and taint of the heathen, of life cut short, was washed clean. She stared into the icy water, were eyes mirroring the movements through the narrow slot in the cloth.

"Never clean...." She whispered quietly, then rose, turned and walked back into the encampment that was visible, irridescent blade trailing glistening beads of water as she covered ground.

She crossed the dark, rutted road and passed into the small township of tents that had been posted there, probably for days. High overhead, the clouds drifted lazily over the moon as it dipped to the horizon, starting to be eaten by the hills. The cook fires were dampened down, crackling slightly and casting very faint ruddy light about the bedrolls of those staff and troops as stayed here in the open. All of the tents were dark, all save one. A single spherical glow of a candle burned within, the sillouette of a person within painted darkly on the sheets.

The Lady stopped, and thought briefly of it, then sheathed her blade across her back, and passed through the flaps of the tent without a whisper of request to do so.

The Mistress sat before a hastily created table consisting of two logs and a slab of planed wood. She did not look up from the desk where she sat, wasn't even looking at what she was doing in any case. She wrote carefully, as if the act took a great deal of effort, and let her head rise, eyes closed, toward the tent enterance.

"Mi'lady." She said, warily taking position in front of the woman who sat writing letters in a time of war. She stared at the woman there with those startling clear, deep cerulean eyes, reptillian, slitted pupil widening to adjust to the dim light. The woman said nothing, and neither did the Lady, for a long time.

The moon had vanished completely below the ridges before she spoke. "They didn't turn back."

The Lady knew that was coming. Delaying had been a primary intention to the whole business of harassing the enemy all the way. Maybe they would turn back to try and reinforce themselves, and give them a reprieve to defeat them in the ultimate way that would brook no argument. Instead, they were stubborn...whoever led the advancing enemy knew they would get one shot only, knew that the defenses to turn them back would be worked on if they themselves turned back to strengthen.

"How many, my dear general.....how many? Do they have a thousand? Two? Three?" The lady behind the table asked, sitting full upright now. Silver hair fell messily about her shoulders, unkempt and unwashed for days probably. The product of war.

"You know better than I, milady....you have the Eyes, I do not." Which, of course, was a lie. The woman DID have the gift of the sight, when it chose to work. The Lady, the General, needed no special ability to determine the future. Only the facts, base and true, and all could be foretold. "The last outriders that we dared send back did not return....our last estimates are of four thousand strong and healthy soldiers, milady. They are at best a few hours behind us.....they will be here by morning, if they rested a bit at the Jut. If they didn't, then they should be here before dawn..."

The woman stood shakily from her seat and staggered to the tent flap, and opened it to look out into the night. It was quiet but for the whispered conversations between the sentries; her breath hung in the air in crystaline clouds as the temperature continued to drop. She shivered, and drew the flaps closed, coughing but trying to hide it. She crossed back to her seat previous, looking quite sickly in the light afforded by the lone candle.

"See that the preperations arec omplete before the morn, Celes. And come and wake me before they get too close....if they catch me like this it will be my death."

"As you wish, milady." She whispered as the woman got up shakily again, and crossed to the bedroll she had brought with her. She passed through the tent flaps into the freezing night once more, walked out into the night and vanished.

The sky remained dark, and she had a few hours to work with.

_________________
[center]The words you say, never seem to live up to the ones inside your head.
The lives we make, never seem to get us anywhere but dead.
[/center]


Thu Nov 06, 2003 12:30 am
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"Dardenites?"

"No, lord, they are own hoisting the banner of the Reverent."

"Then there is still time," Atredia whispered to himself. "Jut has not fallen yet, that is a good sign." He scrawled hastily upon a parchment, rolled it into a tight scroll and promptly sealed it with his vigil. "Take this note to their commander, it shall explain our coming."

The scout took the scroll and slipped it into his breast pocket. "By your leave, m'lord," the scout said as he bowed low. Atredia gave an absent minded nod and the scout quickly disappeared from sight leaving Atredia by himself.

Alone in his thoughts, he allowed his mind to wander, to escape the cold torment of the world for just a moment. He often wondered when he would be able to go back to warmer days, when things were never this chaotic. He dearly missed the hunts, and the feasts -- not to mention the company that both brought about. A frown slowly crept onto his face when he realized that many of these people he'd never see again. "The price of war..." he lamented to himself.

With a long sigh, he headed back towards his tent, weary and exhausted from the amount of fighting that had taken place over the past few days. His movements were slow, and dreamlike, almost as if he were fighting against the air itself. The tent flaps was a struggle in itself, and after a couple seconds of wrestling with the latches, it finally opened, revealing the insides to the future occupant. Mercifully, he collasped in his cot, and slowly closed his eyes, welcoming the slow embrace of sleep.

~~~

He arrived at the camp in the early morning with not a moment to spare. The weather overhead was dreary at best, and would do nothing to bolster the troops already dipping morale. He made a beeline towards the commanding officer's tent, ignoring the looks of protest upon camp sentries' faces as he passed by. Time was not one of his allies in this war.

He slowed down as he approached the front of tent and quickly composed himself. He took a deep breath, adjusted his scabbard and dusted off the front of his armor, all while standing in front of the tent flaps. "This is Atredia, commander of the forces that have just arrived. We wish to make a final stand here with you to drive back these heathens," he said in his most respective tone. "Pardon the intrusion, but I shall now enter to discuss further our plans of action."

He made one last check to make sure everything was in order. Finding nothing out of place, he pushed aside the flaps of the tent and entered. Today was going to be long day, indeed.

_________________
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;


Fri Nov 07, 2003 12:47 am
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She lay upon her pallet, sweat beaded upon her face, dampening her makeshift pillow as she lay shivering in bed. Perhaps the most unnerving quality about the woman....you could not tell wether she was awake or asleep by looking alone. She stirred weakly under the covers, and rolled to face the enterance of the tent.

"Your assistance is welcome.....Sir Atredia. The enemy will be turned back here, at the Crossing....and shall gain not another....inch into our homeland..." She said faintly, after taking a few ragged breaths. She coughed thick and harsh; the weather here was much worse than up higher, after the days rains. It had not done her any good at all.

She groaned as she rolled over onto her chest, and levered herself up onto her elbows. The makeshift pillow was stained darkly with her blood, and with the weak light that came in through the tent, and that of the candle, could the streak of crimson that ran from the corner of her mouth across her cheek be seen. She stopped at her elbows for a few moments, then managed to get over to a crouch, and began to blindly search for her staff.

"I assume they are near...the General came by sometime earlier. Jut fell. They are almost...here. Almost...." She said, and then went quiet for a moment, before gasping, her face contorting in agony.

She heaved for breath for a minute, the sound of phlegm rattling noisily in her throat, before she turned to where his voice had been before.

"Help me....find my stave....I must be present when they arrive...."

_________________
GM Ordo Draco | Co-GM Demonic Reality | GM Revenant & Calael
And when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
Ask Seska. I think he knows...


Fri Nov 07, 2003 2:31 am
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"Lady Seska!"

He had not expected to see her in current weakened condition. In fact, last he saw her, she was healthy (for her, at least) and able to hold her own. To see her in such a state wretched at Atredia's heart.

He looked around the tent, searching for the staff that would, perhaps, relieve some of the pain that plagued her. Fortunately, the tent was sparsely furnished and it wasn't long before his eyes caught sight of the stray staff. He crossed the tent, picking up the staff along the way, taking care not to make too much noise for fearing of agitating the lady.

"My lady...," he stammered. He moved solemnly toward her side, his eyes never leaving the blood stained sheets. He placed a hand upon her shoulder and helped her into a sitting position. "My lady," he began again, "you are in no condition to fight today. Leave the battle to Celes and I. We shall ensure that no heathens make it through today." He forced a smile through his worry-ridden face.

Atredia paused for another moment, his gaze fixed upon her diminuitive frame. He often wondered how one so obviously infirmed could wield such deadly power. Still, he needed no reminder that this very child would be key in delivering the might of God upon the faithless.

He sighed and, without another word, gently grabbed her hands and placed them upon her staff. "I doubt my words have the conviction necessary to stop you from going out this day, anyway," he said with a hint of remorse. "I shall go rally the men and begin the preparations lest we be caught unaware." He rose and started to head toward the exit. Nearly halfway there, he turned towards Seska with a look of concern upon his face.

"Please, for your sake and mine, don't overstrain yourself again."

_________________
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;


Mon Nov 10, 2003 12:27 am
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