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  #11  
Old 06-20-2008, 06:58 PM
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Prologue, part 3 of 3

Sepsus

The stink of the lagoon, the gloomy wooden buildings built over the lagoon, each flimsy on its stilts, looking like it might collapse at any moment, and the Deadlanders walking around on the rope bridges that connected the buildings, acting as some kind of road, many of the bridges rotted, and some of the Deadlanders rotting as well, all felt like home to Nagasak.1 He had been born in Sepsus, he had lived in Sepsus, and though he left it for Xithan to learn the craft of the Reaver, Sepsus had always been and would always be his home, even if he lived for a hundred years after it finally sank into the lagoon, something that was distinctly possible for someone who toyed with the forces of life and death on a daily basis.

Nagasak was still fully human, unlike some Deadlanders. His skin still had a tan from his expedition into the Bravaki Wasteland. He hadn't located what his master had sent him to seek, but the venture had been profitable enough on its own.

"Nagasak, you have returned from Bravaki." Seraspak said from behind Nagasak. The two were twins. Actually, they were triplets, but Beradak didn't appear to be here. Likely he was still in Bonekeep holding back the Dreadmarsh.

"Astute, brother." Nagasak said, turning around to face Seraspak. Seraspak had always been sadistic, almost insane. This wasn't too uncommon among Deadlanders, but it made him the black sheep of the family. Nagasak and Beradak were ruthless and more than willing to be cruel when necesarry, but neither of them cared how much pain their victim went through when it died.

Seraspak's thin frame barely even disturbed the bridge as he walked across it. "Was your venture succesful?" he asked.

"Financially? Quite," Nagasak said, "As far as completion of the mission, no. The ancient secrets Xanalsir seeks remain hidden."

"Ooh, he won't like that," Seraspak said with a sinister tone.

Nagasak shrugged. He wasn't in the mood for Seraspak's games. They both knew that Xanalsir was not stupid enough to earn the enmity of his underlings by punishing them for every failure, especially when the odds for success were considered slim from the outset.

"He was rather looking forward to using those," Seraspak said, "And he was in a foul enough mood already."

"That's irrelevant," Nagasak said in a near monotone, "He's a days journey from here, in Xithan. His current mood will have no effect on his mood when I respond to him."

Seraspak pulled a face. He'd been used to swinging around Xanalsir's name and automatically striking fear into the hearts of the residents of Sepsus, where he'd been operating for the past few weeks. He hadn't grown used to dealing with someone who knew him well enough not to fear him.

"Beradak is still in Bonekeep?" Nagasak asked. Seraspak just nodded.
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  #12  
Old 06-20-2008, 06:58 PM
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Bedua Prison

Kitsune had been lying face down in the hay covering the bottom of her cell for about three hours, crying. She hadn't broken up in four hours of torture while an Inquisitor tried to get her to implicate the rest of her family, but as soon as she was out of their sight, she let it out. It was hard to keep it in. Her world had gone from a normal, happy one to the life of a fugitive, to the life of a prisoner in just under two weeks.

She instantly dried her tears and sat up as she heard the key turning in the lock. The rough shirt they'd given her when she arrived that morning stung against the cuts from the whip. She was facing away from the door, but she could hear it open up behind her. Whoever opened it didn't even say a word, just walking behind her, tying her hands behind her back, and then roughly pulling her to her feet.

With one hand on her arm, the guard led Kitsune out of the cell. Kitsune braced herself for another session of torture. It was a lot harder this time. The first time there had been fear of the unknown, and she thought her imagination must be worse than anything they could actually do to her. That's what she'd told herself. But your imagination didn't sting whenever it touched your shirt.

The guard opened up a door and led her in, forcing her to kneel and pushing her head down to look at the ground. Kitsune didn't resist. She didn't want to make this any worse than it was going to be anyway, and she didn't particularly want to see whatever nasty tools they were going to be used on her. She just closed her eyes and waited for them to ask her to implicate one of her family members for some random crime. Probably something ludicrous, like when they'd accused Nuo Ai of hexing one of his class mates.

"Kitsune," a voice said. That wasn't the voice of the Inquisitor. The Inquisitor only ever referred to her as 'prisoner' or 'heretic.' This voice wasn't as deep, and was also oddly calming...And unsettling at the same time.

"Do you know why you're here, Kitsune?" the voice asked. Kitsune's response was just loud enough to be heard, defiant in spite of being tired.

"So you can get some extra gold from your boss for catching a heretic within the Empire."

The man chuckled, "No," the voice said, "You're here because I want you to be here. Because you could be useful to me."

"Useful?!" Kitsune said, looking up at the man for the first time. It was the same man who had caught them back at Dragon Tavern. "How am I being useful to you, shut up in a prison and being beaten and whipped for hours on end? How does that help you?!"

"You aren't," the man said, "But please, let me explain." Kitsune glared daggers at him, but said nothing. "My name is Mason. Do you want to know where your family is? How they've been for the past eight hours?" he said, a trace of a malevolent grin on his face.

"If you've hurt any of them, I swear I'll find a way to make you pay." Kitsune said with barely contained rage.

"Oh, don't worry, they weren't hurt at all. We prefer to kill quickly and efficiently." Kitsune snapped, lunging for Mason, who deftly sidestepped her wild attack, grabbed her, and threw her into the wall. Stars sprang into Kitsune's vision as she struggled to her feet.

"You'll note I never said that I actually killed any of your family..." Mason said. "And we haven't." Kitsune looked around the room. It was probably Mason's office. There was a bookcase against one wall and a large desk. The other wall was bare, perhaps so that Mason could throw people into it without breaking anything. There were no guards in the room either, Kitsune could see.

"We haven't even interrogated any of them yet. You're the only one we've tried to extract any information from. We even did them the favor of giving them some bread and water." Mason said, reminding Kitsune of how hungry she was. She hadn't been fed well on the return trip, and not at all after arriving at the prison.

"But we already have enough evidence to have them all killed. Your father, of course, is already a convicted heretic. And we ran some alchemic tests on your mothers blood. Its magical properties reveal your lineage." Mason said. Kitsune just stared at him, her hands still tied behind her back. When he mentioned her 'lineage,' however, a confused look came across Kitsune's face.

"My...Lineage?" She asked in spite of herself. She was curious.

"Oh, you don't know? You are a half-elf." Mason said. Shock and horror washed over Kitsune. Ordinarily, having such a secret lineage would have been exciting, made her feel that much more unique and special. Where she was, though, being inhuman meant being sub-human. Having such a secret was enough to get her mother executed, and perhaps Nuo Ai as well. He had kept secret being a half-elf, after all.

"Yes. We can have every single one of you, including your brother Matamune, who was arrested yesterday and is on his way here, executed. Slowly and painfully, too, if we wish." Mason stepped towards her. Kitsune so wanted to pummel that handsome face of his until it swelled, ruining his looks forever. That was the least she could do to a man like this.

"You, however," Mason said, leaning in inches away from her, "I think I'll keep you alive," he continued, caressing her cheek. Kitsune shuddered. "At least for so long as I find you...Entertaining." He said, moving his hand down her neck and arm.

Kitsune stepped away from Mason. "Don't touch me!" she spat.

Mason chuckled. She really hated that chuckle. "Or what? I'll have to throw you into the wall again?" Kitsune glared at him. Her hate and anger were being slowly overcome by a different emotion, though. Despair. He was right, she was helpless. He could do much more than just touch her. He could rape her and there was nothing she could do to stop it. Kitsune didn't even want to think about that.

"Feeling helpless? Have you admitted to yourself yet that there is nothing I can't take from you, and that there is nothing you can take in return?" Mason asked, smirking. Kitsune just looked down at the ground. She didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing he was right.

"Well, let me give you some options, then, Kit." Great. He'd thought of a pet name for her. It was the same name her father had called her when she was a little girl. It was a like a sacred thing profaned when he said it. "You, are an amazing combatant. Your speed, strength, and especially your willpower are remarkable for a girl of your age.

"I want that power bent to my will." Mason said.

"Never!" Kitsune shouted at him, "I'm never going to hunt down more innocent people like my family for you!"

"Well then," Mason said, "I can sign the execution orders now."

Kitsune just stared. She didn't know what to do, work for a madman or sacrifice her family for the greater good? Spend every day in bed with Mason, knowing her family had been killed because she hadn't agreed to Masons deal.

"If you should be having second thoughts," Mason said slowly, "I can gaurantee your family will be unharmed and well-cared for, and you will have to deal with me in the capacity of master instead of jailer."

Kitsune glared at him before dropping her eyes. "Fine," she said, "I'll do it."

Mason stepped towards her again, pulling a knife out from behind his cloak. He stepped behind her and cut her hands loose. "Good, I knew you wouldn't be so callous as to let your family die when you could save them." he said, caressing her arm again.

She stepped away from him immediately this time. "Don't touch me!" she said again, more confident now. "That's part of this deal too, you can't touch me."

"You've already agreed to the deal, Kitsune, it's a bit late for last-minute bargaining." Mason said.

Kitsune stuck her hands out in front of her, as if to be bound, "I'll go right back to my cell if you want to call the deal off."

Mason was the one glaring at her now. "You realize that if you do go back to your cell, it is only a matter of time before you will be in bed with me anyway?"

"You can have me on the battlefield or in the bedroom, I won't give you both." Kitsune said, her hands still thrust out in front of her.

Mason glared at her a bit longer.

"Fine," he said. "We have ourselves a deal. Shake on it?" he said, offering his hand. Kitsune lowered her hands to her sides and spat at him. He just grinned. "That will do. There is a caravan leading to Ajendra which leaves first thing tomorrow morning. You will be trained there at the Ajendra Witch Hunter Cabal. I trust you won't be stupid enough to go missing with your families lives on the line, but just in case..." he said, pulling something from his desk. "Catch." he said tossing it to Kitsune.

Kitsune caught it in her right hand. It was a stone, oval shaped and edgeless, colored red. As she held it, looking at it, wondering what it was, it began to sink into the flesh of her palm, embedding it into her skin. "What, what is this? This is witchcraft!" she exclaimed. Mason just grinned sadistically at her. "Is this permanent?" she asked.

Mason nodded. "You may go." Kitsune turned and left the room slowly, not sure of where she was going. There was a guard waiting for her outside. He grabbed her arm and led her back to her cell. Evidently Mason wasn't going to be moving her up to first class just because she'd accepted. Kitsune didn't care. One way or another, she and her family were much better off this way.

But as soon as she sat down she started having second doubts. What was going to happen to her, what about all the innocent people she was going to hurt? She was just trying to do the right thing, but how many innocents were going to die because of it?

She was alone. She started to cry again. There wasn't any reason to keep it in.
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  #13  
Old 06-20-2008, 07:00 PM
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1 Introducing now, for the first time, Team Evil.

Anyway, why have you guys stopped responding? I can't keep this up writing into a void. I'm assuming the quality of my writing didn't just drop like a rock after the first post.

And seriously, what's DiTL?
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  #14  
Old 06-21-2008, 10:09 AM
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he prop meant detail? lol
i think i found a name George W Bush lol joking

Luciuyus or Saetu or Rongo


just randoms words dat sound cool
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  #15  
Old 06-22-2008, 04:52 AM
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Great, Unpredictable, I'll stick you into the story. You probably won't get a whole lot of screen time until after Darkness Falls, though.

---------

Witch Hunter, part 1 of 5

Ajendra

Kitsune was sore from riding the long horse ride to Ajendra. At least she wasn't hungry anymore. Since she'd agreed to help him, Mason had been providing her with as much rations as everyone else in the small entourage, which included only Mason, herself, and three bodyguards, less than half of Masons crew.

She was still on the horse now, riding with one of Masons guards. It was one of the thinner ones. No one had said a word the whole ride. Kitsune was fine with that. She didn't want to talk with any of these heartless killers, and certainly not with Mason.

She was still dressed in the simple, rough clothes they'd given her at the prison. As she thought about it on the ride, it occured to her that it really didn't smell nearly as bad as you'd expect from prison clothes. You'd expect them to be rank when you got them, but since the only smells Kitsune could detect were sweat and something metallic that was probably blood, she guessed they were clean when she got them. And people said the Vokite prisons were inhumane.

When Alendra first came into sight, Kitsune thought it was just another fortress. It was certainly a much, much larger fortress than normal, but that made a certain amount of sense since it was apparently attached to the Great Northern Wall that held back the Ashpeak hordes. When they took the road that led towards the city, Kitsune thought for a second that Ajendra might be on the other side of the Wall. She'd never learned much geography from her parents.

Once they got inside, Kitsune could see that the fortress was the city. The buildings were staggered so that archers could be mounted on the rooftops, and each had a simple, militaristic design. In the center of the city was a gigantic fortress, probably the home of the Ajendra Paladins. Off in one corner of the city was a building that stuck out like a sore thumb. For one thing, it wasn't nearly as short as the ones around it, though being at the south side of the city that wouldn't be an issue unless the Wall was breached and the city was surrounded. It also wasn't constructed like a miniature fortress like the rest of the buildings were. It looked more like a palace, beautiful and majestic and probably halfway impossible to defend.

"That," Mason said, pointing at the palatial building and speaking for the first time, and loudly to get over the noise of the crowd of people in the street they were riding through, "Is the Ajendra Witch Hunter Cabal, where you'll be studying, and where you'll be living." Kitsune didn't respond, and no one said anything more until they reached the Cabal.

The guard Kitsune was riding with helped her dismount when they reached the Cabals entrance. There were a pair of guards at the entrance to the Cabal, and one of them called out "What business do you have at the Cabal?"

"This is my younger sister, Kitsune of Bedua," Mason said to the guard, gesturing to Kitsune, "She is to be an Inquisitor of Ajendra. I sent all the necesarry paperwork ahead with a messenger bird. Has it arrived or shall I need to submit it again?"

"I wouldn't know," the guard said, "I'm just a guard. Your friends'll have to wait with the horses, only the Inquisitor-to-be and whoever is acting as her parent are allowed in. That'd be you and her."

Mason nodded and beckoned to Kitsune, who followed him inside the large building. Inside the floor was marble and polished to the point where Kitsune could see her reflection in it. The room was held up with several large pillars, each with intricate depictions of different Vokite legends carved into it. There was a large desk in the room, big enough to seat four or five people to one side, but only one was behind it at the moment.

"Hello," the man asked. He was old, balding a little, and wore glasses. He was dressed in a white tunic and trousers with a white tabard thrown over it, with the golden symbol of Vokai, a phoenix carrying a sword, emblazoned on it. He looked boorish and petty. "What is your purpose in coming to the Cabal?"

"Kitsune, here, is going to be an Inquisitor. I sent the paperwork ahead with a messenger bird, did it get here alright?" Mason said.

The man looked down at the papers on his desk. "Kitsune of Bedua?" he asked. Mason nodded. "Right, one moment please." He left the room, leaving Mason and Kitsune alone. Kitsune was staring at the wall, hoping Mason wouldn't try to talk to her. He didn't.

The man returned after a few minutes with another man. This one was similarly dressed and was also old, but unlike the first one, there was a look of kindness to him. Kitsune was glad to see a friendly face, even if it was a strange one.

The man said to Mason "Have you said your good-byes yet?"

"Yes," Mason said, "While you were gone." Kitsune was glad Mason had lied. She didn't want to pretend to be parting with a loved one. She was really glad he was going to leave, and was also hopeful for the first time since she'd been caught. Mason was leaving, she wouldn't have to do any work for him until she was fully trained, and there was at least one man who seemed friendly here.

"Very well, you may go," the man said to Mason, "And you," he said talking to Kitsune now and smiling, "Shall come with me." Kitsune followed the man into a long hallway. "We'll need to get you some new clothes for your stay at the Cabal, and we'll assign you a room," he said as they walked down the hall, "You'll be staying with three other girls, which is actually a bit unusual. It's fairly rare that we get enough girls to fill up an entire room."

Kitsune from the hallway into a large room with tables spaced evenly throughout it, carpeted, which was full of mostly boys, all around her age and dressed in light gray clothes, some with darker cloaks on around them. A small group, sitting at a table in one of the back corners, of them had the hoods pulled up, presumably to try and make themselves look more mysterious.

They all turned to look at her as she passed through, and most of them kept staring the entire time she was in the room. Kitsune and the man were walking straight down the middle of the room, so there was nowhere to look to avoid their stares except the floor.

They left the room. Kitsune asked the man in front of me "Do they always stare like that when someone new comes in?"

"No, not always. I think it was because of the way you're dressed." Kitsune looked down at her clothes. They were very rough and very cheap, but it wasn't only prisoners who dressed like this. "Staying at the Cabal is very expensive. Thus the only people who study here come from rich families, and most of them dress like it." he explained.

"Oh, well, I always saved my money for more important things." Kitsune lied. Unless she was saving up for something in particular, she always spent her money as soon as she got it, and almost always on the nicest clothes she could find in the market. She loved looking nice.

"That's good," the man said, "It's a sign that you are of Inquisitorial stock. You may have heard that about a fourth of those who come here do not graduate?"

"Yes." Kitsune said. Mason had told her that if she was part of that fourth, she wasn't useful to him anymore, and the deal was off.

"Most who do not, do not because they do not want to, because they cannot adapt to a life devoted to hunting evil. They wish to seek after other things, riches and wealth." the man said. Kitsune would rather be seeking those things herself. She'd always thought of becoming an alchemist like her father. There were things she'd rather be doing, of course, but drawing portraits didn't pay well in Vokite lands, and materials were hard to come by. Inquisitor was probably one of the last things on her list.

They went down some stairs into a basement containing large amounts of clothes, all like the ones the other students had been wearing up in the common room. "Kitsune is going to need a uniform." the man said to a woman who had been washing some of the clothes when they arrived.

"Right," the woman said, examining her. "Long legs, necks a bit skinny, just a little under five feet tall..." She grabbed a sack with draw strings from a small pile and began picking up some neatly folded clothes from one side of the room and putting them in. Tunics, trousers, cloaks, a pair of boots and a pair of gloves. When she finished, she walked back to the two of them and handed Kitsune the sack. Kitsune threw it over her shoulder and followed the man back to the hall.

They went up this time, to near the top of the building, around the fifth floor. Eventually they came to a hallway that had doors only on the left side. The man stopped at one of the rooms, pulled out a key and unlocked the door, and opened it. Inside there was a room with four beds, not uncomfortable but not lavish either, a pair of desks big enough to seat two, and four small wardrobes. There also a curtain along the far side that led out to a balcony.

And there was another girl in there already. She was sitting at one of the desks, but sprang up when she heard the door open, a huge smile on her face. "Hey sis, I-" she stopped when she saw Kitsune standing there, but didn't stop smiling. "Hey, a new girl!" she said excitedly, walking up to Kitsune and putting her hand out to shake. "I'm Kunoichi! What's your name?"

Last edited by Ashen; 07-08-2008 at 01:37 AM.
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Old 06-22-2008, 04:53 AM
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"Uh, Kitsune." Kitsune said, shaking Kunoichi's hand.

"Hey, your name's eastern like mine!" Kunoichi said. "That makes three of us!"

"Three?" Kitsune asked.

"Yeah, counting Sakura. She's my big sis. She's been here forever!" Kunoichi said.

"But, I thought the training only lasts a year." Kitsune said.

"It does," said Kunoichi, "If you take all the right courses. But if you're crazy a taken a million extras like Sakura did, then it takes longer."

"Extra courses?" Kitsune asked.

"Yeah, she told me all about 'em in her letters home last year," said Kunoichi, "Weird weapons like hammers or throwing knives, and a bunch of extra languages. Talmean, Lunai, even Ancient Vithekan. When're you ever going to have to communicate with someone who only speaks Ancient Vithekan?"

"Maybe if you ever go to Vitheka?" Kitsune asked.

"Nah, they speak Skyclaw there. Everyone speaks Skyclaw." Kunoichi said. "I hear even some of the goblins speak it up in the Ashpeaks, since the demons know it but they don't know goblinese."

Kitsune smiled. The girl was relentlessly cheeful, and it was infectious. She was starting to feel better about this place already. "Hey," Kitsune said, looking behind her, "Where'd the man go?"

"Father Borik? He left a while ago. He does that a lot, disappearing. You get used to it." said Kunoichi.

"Huh," Kitsune said. What was she supposed to do now? It was night time, maybe she was just supposed to go to sleep. That reminded her that she was still in her prison clothes. "So, which bed is mine?" she asked.

"That one!" Kunoichi said, pointing. Kitsune walked over to the bed with her pack and drew the curtains around it, and began changing out of her prison clothes. "Y'know," Kunoichi said, "Borik said that we haven't had a room full of girls for four years, so I guess it's sort of a good thing that Sakura's stuck around for so long." Kitsune heard the door opening. "Hey, Sakura, Kali! We were just talking about you!" Kunoichi said. "Well, not you, Kali."

"Talking with whom?" Sakura asked. Her voice sounded a lot older than Kunoichi's.

"The new girl. Her name's Kit...Uh...Kitsuke?" Kunoichi said, uncertain.

"Kitsune," Kitsune corrected, emerging from behind the curtain in her new tunic and trousers, and tossing her old clothes in her wardrobe.

"What's that in your hand?" Sakura asked.

Kitsune clenched her right hand into a fist. "Nothing," she said, not sure if that qualified as a lie. She wasn't holding anything, but the red gem was quite literally in her hand.

"No, I saw something, a gem of some kind. Why don't you want me to see it?" Sakura asked. "They're allowed, if that's what you're worried about."

"It's really nothing, you must've just imagined it." Kitsune said. What would a bunch of girls training to hunt witches think of their new room mate having a gem embedded in her palm, a pretty obvious sign of witchcraft? Sure, technically she was cursed and not a witch at all, but would they believe that? And when they started asking questions, she couldn't tell them that she'd been sent her by an Agent who was also a Warlock who had imprisoned her family and was threatening to kill them if she didn't cooperate. Not only was it almost unbelievable, if she was believed, word would get out, and Mason would kill all her family. He'd probably be able to retain his position as an Agent, too. That 'position' was built on loyal goons and knowing everyone's dark secrets, so none of it would go away if he had to change his name and go to a different town.

"What're you hiding?" Kali asked, halfway accusing her already. Kitsune already didn't like her.

"I'm hiding nothing. Leave me alone." Kitsune said.

"What's so special about this jewel that none of the rest of us can see it?" Kali asked nastily.

"Kali," Sakura said, "If she doesn't want to show it to us, we can't make her...Even if it is a little odd."

"More like suspicious," Kali said, "She's hiding something from us. What if she's a spy?"

"A spy?!" Kitsune said incredulously. "You can't possibly believe that!"

Sakura said "It's not exactly impossible. Knowing how we're trained would tell the heretics how we operate. Knowing how we operate would help them counter us."

"Exactly!" Kali said, "Now show us what's in your hand or you're guilty."

"There's nothing in my hand!" Kitsune said. "Kunoichi, help me out, here!" she said, looking to her new friend for help.

"I don't know," Kunoichi said, looking confused. "I mean, you don't act like a spy...But a spy wouldn't act like a spy, would she? I just don't know..."

"Kunoichi! Come on!" Kitsune said.

"Show us!" Kali said, grabbing at her hand. Kitsune pulled it away and backed towards the balcony.

"Kali," Sakura said, "She's innocent until proven guilty, and you have no right to make her show us whatever she's got." Kali glared at Sakura, but said nothing.

Kitsune walked out the curtain to outside. She hated Mason. Not only was it his fault that she was here instead of at home with her family, he'd also managed to screw up the one friend she'd managed to make.
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Old 06-22-2008, 04:53 AM
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Kitsune screamed out loud. She ran to one of the three blue pieces of pottery that stood on special platforms built into the railing of the balcony, grabbed it, and threw it at the ground, breaking it into dozens of tiny pieces. She ran to the second and shattered it as well.

She was running to the third when Sakura tackled her into the stone railing and held her there. "What are you doing?!" She asked.

"Let me go!" Kitsune shouted.

"Not until you tell me what's going on!" Sakura said. Kunoichi and Kali had come to the balcony too.

"She's just trying to break the Cabal's stuff, Sakura," Kali said, "She's a spy, like I said!"

"Kali, quit being stupid!" Sakura spat back at her, "If she were a spy, she'd be trying not to draw attention to herself, especially after your accusations. The last thing she'd want to do would be to start breaking things!"

"Let me go!" Kitsune shouted again, trying to wrench herself away from Sakura. Sakura just twisted her arms into a painful hold. Sakura hadn't wasted the last year at the Cabal.

Suddenly the door opened. It was Father Borik. "What's going on here?!" he asked.

Sakura let Kitsune go. "Father Borik, she was breaking the pottery, I don't know why. I was just trying to stop her." she said hastily.

"What? Why?" Borik asked.

"I don't know," Sakura admitted, "But Kali thinks she's a spy, if that helps."

Borik looked at Kali, who looked away. "A spy?" Borik asked.

"It could happen..." Kali said unconvincingly.

"Not here, it couldn't. Do you really think we don't have means to catch them before they arrive?" Borik said, then went over to Kitsune. "You three can wait outside. I want to talk to Kitsune alone." Sakura nodded and left. Kali threw one last glare at Kitsune before she and Kunoichi followed.

"So...Did you break the pottery?" Borik asked.

"Yes," Kitsune said.

"Hm," Borik said, kneeling down and picking up the pieces. Kitsune knelt down and started helping. "Why?" Borik asked.

"I was just angry." Kitsune said.

"Because Kali decided you were a spy?" Borik said.

"No," Kitsune said, "Well, not completely. That and a whole lot of other things."

"What kind of things?" Borik asked.

"...A warlock." Kitsune said. That would be safe enough, and it was true.

"A warlock...Hmm...Why did you come to the Cabal, Kitsune?" Borik asked.

"For my family." Kitsune said.

"Explain." Borik said.

Kitsune sighed and went on, "My family have been imprisoned." she said, "By this warlock. He imprisoned them somewhere in the Highlands about a month ago, and then he let me go."

"He let you go? Why?" Borik asked.

"I don't know," Kitsune said. She couldn't exactly tell Borik that she was doing exactly what the warlock wanted. There were good odds he'd turn her in. "That's mostly it, actually. He must've let me go for some reason, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out I'd go to a Cabal. I think I might be doing what he wants."

"I see," Borik said. He paused a moment and said "Kitsune, I'm sure if you always try to do the right thing, everything will turn out alright for you in the end, and there's no better place you could be then right here, learning how to find that Warlock again and free your family."

"That's not all, though." Kitsune said.

"Please continue," Borik said.

Kitsune sighed again and showed her palm to Borik, gemstone and all. His eyes widened momentarily. "What is this?" he asked.

"A curse, I think." Kitsune said. "The warlock gave this to me before I left. Before I could do anything, it had sunk into my hand and now it's part of me."

"I see." Borik said. "It's not large or intricate enough to be any complex hex. I doubt it's anything more than some form of tracking device, so he'll be able to know in advance when you're closing in. I'm sure we'll find a way around it. In any case, it's a very good sign that he doesn't want you to track him down, so tracking him down is exactly what you should do." Kitsune nodded. That made sense. Mason would want to know if she was going to be dropping in when she wasn't supposed to.

They'd finished picking up the pieces. Father Borik had been putting them into a large bag he'd produced from underneath his tabard. Kitsune was still holding her pile in her hands. She dropped them in the bag. "Good luck, Kitsune. And things will be alright for you if you do what's right, I promise. It's been that way since before His Majesty Ajen came from across the sea." Borik smiled and left the room. Kitsune walked slowly back to her bed. The other three girls didn't come back in immediately. Borik was probably talking to them outside. Kitsune didn't care much right now. She was tired. She walked to her bed and was asleep long before the other three girls came back in.1
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  #18  
Old 06-22-2008, 05:05 AM
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Ashen Ashen is offline
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Skyclaw Ridge

Ashen brought his sword down on one of the goblins heads, sinking it down through its hideous face and down to its jaw. He pulled the blade out with a sickening sucking sound, parried another goblins attack, and lopped off its head in one smooth motion. The last two goblins backed away from him in fear. He wasn't going to give them a chance to run, lunging toward them and ripping one of their stomachs open. The other crawled with inhuman agility into a crevice in the side of the mountain. The crevice was far too narrow for Ashen to follow.

Ashen stepped back and lowered his sword to the ground, resting a moment. There had been nearly a dozen goblins in the fight. No archers, fortunately. That would not have ended well. As it was, he was tired, but unharmed.

Ashen took out a rag which, once white, was now stained dark red with goblin blood. Ashen wiped his sword with the rag and put it back in a pouch on his belt. He climbed out of the narrow ravine he was in, the climb made more difficult by his chainmail.

Once out, he mounted his horse again. He'd send a messenger bird back to his contact in Dragon Tavern tonight, who would send his report on to Bedua. The Ridge was controlled primarily by centaurs, as expected, but with a significant chunk of it under goblin control as well. There was also a significant Allied presence as well, but not nearly as much as had been anticipated. That would make Ashens job much easier. He could kill centaurs and goblins for a year and they'd never be able to strike back at the Empire, but the Skyclaw Alliance was another matter.

Ashen arrived back at his camp in a small cave. It was well hidden and had several well placed traps arranged around it, including one that had been there already when he arrived. The place was full of interesting loot he'd decided to keep from his enemies as souvenirs. All of it was small, lightweight stuff, so he'd be able to pack it out with him when he left.

He sat down to write his report to the Bedua Stable. He was running slim on paper. He'd have to return to Dragon Tavern soon to buy some more. He'd accumulated a small fortune in gold for just such an occasion, so the money was no problem. The problem was the travel time. It took an entire day2 to get to the Tavern and back.

The first report Ashen had sent said only that he had arrived safely and that there seemed to be a strong goblinoid presence in the Ridge, but he hadn't fully scouted the area yet. He'd considered asking for reinforcements, as the fights were rather close at times, but he knew that the real reason he wanted backup was because he was getting lonely. A Cavalier should be overcoming these flaws, not caving into them. Still, he would give a lot for a partner.

-----------

1 Well enough of that, let's get back to the heroes!

2 This is not to scale with the game. Ashen probably does the equivalent of 10-15 AP per day, more if he's in a sub-location, but it takes him all day to perform the 1 AP action of returning to the Tavern. And no, he's not going to buy an Amulet of Recall. What kind of Beduan would use witchcraft just to get himself out of skipping a two day ride?

Whoa, that character limit was a real pest this time around. Wonder if it'd be possible to make it any bigger? Seriously, that thing was ridiculous.

Anyway, I really want to know what you think of this one. I've tried a lot of new things here, the whole thing with the Ajendra Witch Hunter Cabal, which I'm afraid might be a bit too Harry Potter-esque for a story that revolves around decapitating goblinoids, the character of Kunoichi, who is meant to be likeable but might come across as simply annoying, and most importantly I'm afraid that the quality of my writing might be dropping off a lot now that I'm writing every day instead of every few weeks.
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  #19  
Old 06-22-2008, 05:36 AM
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Damana Mathos Damana Mathos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashen View Post
Whoa, that character limit was a real pest this time around. Wonder if it'd be possible to make it any bigger? Seriously, that thing was ridiculous.
Increased.
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  #20  
Old 06-22-2008, 05:54 AM
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Ashen Ashen is offline
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Wow, DM noticed what I wrote about the character limit, which probably means he read the rest of it too. That's cool.

And thanks for the increase.
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