Dragon Tavern Forums
 

Go Back   Dragon Tavern Forums > Common Room > The Bards Table

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #141  
Old 05-03-2009, 09:32 PM
DarkVisor DarkVisor is offline
Experienced Adventurer
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Land Of The Short Brown Kiwi
Posts: 937
Default

Q and her 'Mallow Puff' People seems to have been around for ever (and ah can't imagine the DT forums without or them )
__________________
Playing as Dresalk Clothscream, Baltron Cragslammer & Aingus Scornthistle
Thou knowest not, that which thou dost
------------------------------------------
Be awarned, least THEY appear
----------------------------------
To take thee to account, for thou current deeds
Reply With Quote
  #142  
Old 05-04-2009, 08:39 PM
Ashen's Avatar
Ashen Ashen is offline
Experienced Adventurer
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 448
Default

I had the first section of part 25 finished, when my computer screwed itself over. One system restore later and it's working again, but I A) Lost the document I was working on, and B) Seriously need to clear out whatever it was that screwed up my PC ASAP. I'll probably be saving all my files to a disc and then reformatting the system, and get rid of Vista while I'm at it. What this means for you: Very small chance of any updates until this gets fixed.
__________________


This is a sworded bunny. For every sworded bunny in the world, one regular bunny is defeated. If we get enough sworded bunnies on the internet, we can stop bunnies insidious plot for world domination.

- (\__/)
- (='.'=)==l--
- (")_(")

SWORDED!
Reply With Quote
  #143  
Old 05-06-2009, 05:11 PM
QTChi's Avatar
QTChi QTChi is offline
The Anti-Spam Fairy
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Searching for cookies...
Posts: 1,060
Send a message via MSN to QTChi
Default

BAD COMPUTER!!!! BAD BAD BAD!!!!!
__________________
_______________________________________
:: ANIMATED BANNER DESIGNER ::
Order yours at the Dragon Tavern Official Signature & Avatar Shop FREE!

~ Qtchi's Profile ~
Reply With Quote
  #144  
Old 07-14-2009, 08:41 AM
Ashen's Avatar
Ashen Ashen is offline
Experienced Adventurer
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 448
Default

Fear not, I'm not quite dead yet. I'll have another part of Inhumans Requiem up soon. Computer troubles have kind of killed all my writing efforts of late, and getting up to the point where I can write three-odd pages worth of decent literature takes a bit of time after you're forced to go cold turkey for a few weeks.

Posting a response to this would be an excellent way to encourage me to get said three-odd pages up faster, however.
__________________


This is a sworded bunny. For every sworded bunny in the world, one regular bunny is defeated. If we get enough sworded bunnies on the internet, we can stop bunnies insidious plot for world domination.

- (\__/)
- (='.'=)==l--
- (")_(")

SWORDED!
Reply With Quote
  #145  
Old 07-14-2009, 04:42 PM
QTChi's Avatar
QTChi QTChi is offline
The Anti-Spam Fairy
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Searching for cookies...
Posts: 1,060
Send a message via MSN to QTChi
Default

Hmm... will this be sufficient enough to show my for the story?



__________________
_______________________________________
:: ANIMATED BANNER DESIGNER ::
Order yours at the Dragon Tavern Official Signature & Avatar Shop FREE!

~ Qtchi's Profile ~
Reply With Quote
  #146  
Old 07-15-2009, 10:14 PM
Ashen's Avatar
Ashen Ashen is offline
Experienced Adventurer
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 448
Default

Alright, let me just recap the story so far, for my own sake as much as anyone else's. Seeing as how we're about to go into the climax, we may as well.

Kitsune's family is abducted by an overzealous Zealot trying to build her reputation and turned over to Agent Mason, who uses Kitsune's family as leverage to force her to do his dirty work. Kitsune's mother turns out to be an Elf, which makes Kitsune half-elven, which is illegal. Ashen, meanwhile, is a perfectly normal, loyal cavalier given the unenviable job of keeping tabs on the Skyclaw Ridge.

Also, there are a bunch of interesting characters from the Skyclaws who all get assigned to punch holes in the leadership of the various monster factions lurking about the Ridge and drive as many of them as possible out of their major lairs, in preparation for major military action by the Skyclaw Army.

Also, there's Team Evil which is lurking about doing evil, nasty things and trying to take over the world. They're all Deadlanders, 'cause I'm prejudiced like that.

Several of the major factions of the Ridge have made an alliance with Team Evil as part of the plot for world domination, while meanwhile several other factions have made an alliance against Team Evil because they don't want to be dominated. Our two bands of heroes begin a wanton slaughter of both alliances and also run into and try to kill one another at one point. Long story short, no one in this place gets along and the body count is growing fast, though it hasn't claimed any of our brave and bold heroes (yet).

The three major players in the alliance with Team Evil are Baron Bonfire, the Unseelie King of Shiverwood, and the leader of the Rivana Mercenaries. The latter recently got himself curb-stomped by the Skyclaws, who are now trying to find a way to similarly curb-stomp the Unseelie. Ashen and Kitsune, meanwhile, have been tasked with killing Baron Bonfire.

Meanwhile the Skyclaw Army has come charging in swords swinging and started clearing out the Ridge, which has ruffled Baron Bonfire's feathers a bit (although actually his wings are more leathery and bat-like, but you get what I mean), so he's got some kind of scheme to defeat the army even without the help of the alliance he's been stitching together for the past couple years.

Why does Mason want Kitsune running around killing demons and Otherworlders? Will Ashen discover Kitsune's Inhuman heritage, and what will happen if he does? What is Baron Bonfire's secret plot, and will the heroes of the Mountain Kingdoms survive it? Will the two bands of heroes be able to meet up, compare notes, and deduce the involvement of Team Evil in the area? Why am I asking you all these questions?

Read on, and the answers will reveal themselves...

Inhumans Requiem, part 25 of 30

Bonfire Keep

"I'm not sure I understand, Draskil," one of the subordinate beastmasters said, watching the massive army march out of the keep. He and the demonic scribe Draskil1 were standing atop the blackened walls of the keep as the army left as though on parade. "I thought we were already pushing the limits of our portal with the demons we already had?"

Draskil smirked. "Do you know how the portals work, Rekki?" he asked. He knew the answer already, of course. He and Bonfire were the only ones who knew how the portals worked, and Bonfire knew only because Draskil had told him. Bonfire may hold the official title, but it was Draskil that kept this place running.

"Not really, no," Rekki responded.

"Of course you don't," Draskil said, just loud enough for Rekki to hear. "Portals don't just open up gateways to alternate planes of existence," Draskil explained, "They also anchor those who use them to their home dimensions. The magic that flows through the air of this world is as hostile to us as the magic that flows through ours is to the pitiful inhabitants of this universe, but because of the magical lines the portal ties between us and Hell, we can survive." Draskil frowned, "Though the feeling is rather irritating."

"And the portals have limits as to how many people they can anchor?" Rikki asked.

"Indeed," Draskil said, a bit irritated. He'd been in the middle of explaining something and he didn't need any help from the uninitiated. "But each person so anchored can also be used as a point from which one can anchor others. Thus, every being you bring in gives you the stability to bring in a hundred others. Of course, this isn't wise for tactical reasons." Rikki nodded. "Kill the one at the top," Draskil continued, "And all the rest are instantly destroyed by the hostile magics of the world."

"So that's how they're able to bring so many slaves into the Hells," Rikki said.

"Indeed. The general procedure is for the portal itself to be anchored to the slavers and also to a gatekeeper, who will stay safely behind and thus does not really need to be anchored at all. The gatekeeper makes another tie between himself and the slavers' customers, which also has no inherent effect. But then the slaves can all be anchored to their new masters. Since neither the gatekeeper is in no danger, the slaves will continue to be sustained by the portal until their labors dispose of them. As a happy side-effect, if the master dies, his slaves burn with him."

Rikki nodded and asked "So, then, to whom have we anchored this army?"

"Each captain is linked to Lord Bonfire, whose protection is our highest priority already," Draskil said, "We have one hundred captains, each linked to their respective divisions of fifty demons each, and they lead from the back, of course. We could theoretically go for up to twice as much, but we don't want to push the limits of the portal when we're already stacking the anchors like this. An army of five thousand should be more than enough to deal with these petty Skyclaw worms."

Barely, Beastmaster Remmej thought to himself from where he was eavesdropping nearby. Although they outnumbered the Skyclaw Army by five to one2, the inhabitants of the Skyclaws had proven in the past that they were worth five demons a piece. Remmej could practically feel his demonic instincts scowling when he said it, but it was true. Not all humans were as pathetic and weak as the slaves they kept here in the keep.

--------------

Outside Bonfire Keep

Ashen and Kitsune stood hidden on an outcropping of rocks while the massive army marched out of the entrance to the cavern that housed Bonfire Keep. Wagons containing supplies creaked alongside the marching troops, dragged by malnourished slaves who struggled to haul them further against the whips of their demonic masters. Emberscale drakes flew overhead, some ridden by Infernals.

The two of them kept low until the army had passed, then peered at the entrance to the cavern. "This isn't good," Ashen said, "I had no idea there were so many demons inside that keep."

"There aren't so many demons in the keep, not anymore," Kitsune said.

"The point is I don't have any idea how many demons are in there," Ashen said, "That's going to make it harder to plan an entrance."

"The gate's too well guarded to get in anyway," Kitsune said, looking at the entrance to the cavern. "We can't infiltrate something that carefully guarded, and we certainly can't fight our way past it. Maybe at the changing of the guard..."

"Maybe, but there's another way in," Ashen said, "A much longer way in."

"How much longer?" Kitsune asked.

"A few miles to get to the entrance, through a labyrinth known as the Halls of Bu, then past some bubbling pits of tar inhabited by weird slime monsters, and then we're in Bonfire's backyard," Ashen said.

"A few miles?" Kitsune asked, grimacing. Her wounds from the Gromka's torture pit were still healing, and travel wasn't helping the process. Ashen had similar wounds, of course, but at this point she was reasonably convinced that he was somehow immune to pain3.

Ashen gently lifted Kitsune's wounded hands in his own, looking down at them. Both his and hers had a few cuts, but he knew that the worst of them were on their feet. "It's the only other way in," he said to her, almost apologetically.

"It's not your fault," Kitsune thought to herself. It's Mason's fault. She smiled grimly and asked "Do you think we have enough time to head back to Tavern Town and buy some new horses?"

Ashen smiled himself, saying "Even if we did have the money...No. We need to be in before that army gets back. That might give us as little as three days."

Kitsune sighed. No point in delaying any further. "Let's go," she said, and started carefully making her way through the hidden path they'd discovered leading up to this observation point.

Just before they reached the end of the cliff walls that hid them from the guards on the keep, Ashen embraced Kitsune from behind, whispering in her ear "I'd carry you the whole way if I had the strength."

Kitsune smiled and turned her head towards his to whisper back "I wouldn't let you if you could. You need the strength yourself." The two of them kissed for a moment before Ashen let go of her and they began darting from one piece of cover to another, slowly making their way out of range of the guards of Bonfire Keep.

-----------------

Shiverwood

Nietra was really not fond of this plan. Even less so than she had been the plan for the Rivana Mercenaries, in fact. She could only conclude that by the time they got around to attacking the Bonfire Keep, the plan would involve launching her into the keep on a catapult and then, assuming she wasn't killed on impact, she'd be expected to single-handedly kill all of the inhabitants.

Vera was dragging a small cart into the Shiverwood, inside of which Nietra was hiding. Once inside, Vera would abandon the cart somewhere, trusting Nilanicus's wards to keep out any looters. Then, from the cart, Nietra would have to wrench control of the Grove of Kings from the Unseelie inside.

On top of that, Vera had some kind of urgent mission somewhere else. Evidently Noah had spotted something that Grigor wanted her to take care of. So once she was snuck into the place and had angered every Unseelie for miles by killing their king and royalty, she then had to sneak out. On her own. Joy.

The cart stopped. Nietra started counting. Vera had said that she'd make sure the cart started moving again before ten seconds passed, even if she had to start moving in the wrong direction, unless she was within range of the grove. When Nietra hit ten, she started reaching out with her magic, searching for the grove.

It wasn't hard to find. Not only was the grove massive and pulsing with life, there was so much magic woven into each individual tree that Nietra was surprised she hadn't sensed it earlier, before she was even looking. That must've been because of adrenaline, she supposed.

Nietra began weaving her way into the defenses of the individual trees of the grove, slipping her magic past the magic of her enemies. One by one she placed her magic within reach of each trees heart, not yet touching it. When she seized control, she needed to seize control of every tree at once, taking the enemy by surprise.

While weaving her magic through into one of the last trees in the Grove, she was distracted momentarily by the wards around her cart being set off as a would-be looter tried to remove the tarp covering her. The looter was driven off by the wards, but during Nietra's brief lapse of concentration, her magic was discovered.

She directed all of her tiny magic tendrils to touch the heart of the trees she'd already gained access to. It would have to do. She couldn't possibly fight her way through the magical defenses on the Grove. Over half the trees in the Grove were instantly filled with one simple, terrifying command. Kill everything.

Within the Grove roots sprung out of the ground, impaling the Unseelie nobles and their guards, branches swung down at them at lethal speeds, and the trunks of the trees themselves bent over to crush them before straightening again. Nietra struggled to retain control of her trees, losing control of them as the Unseelie mages fought to take them back.

Nearly everything inside the Grove was dead when she finally lost control of the last few trees. As Nietra's focus left her magic and returned to her five normal senses, she realized that a panic had started outside the Grove, as expected. She remained hidden under the tarp in the cart, which at one point was knocked over, Nietra being held in only by the ropes which tied the tarp to the cart. She had to wait until things went quiet for it to be safe to emerge. And who knew how long that might be?

--------------

Halls of Bu4

Ashen and Kitsune stepped inside the Halls. The entrance was just a simple cave in the mountainside with the simple sign of Bu on the walls. No one was quite sure what Bu was. A religion, a person or god, or just the name of an organization were the most popular theories, but none of them had any solid evidence at all, and whenever anyone did get what looked like solid evidence towards one theory or another, three equally solid pieces of evidence sprung up in favor of a different theory. Kitsune was under the impression that Bu was nothing, and that the members of its Order were just playing an incredibly long, sick joke on the world.

Ashen stepped inside and lit a torch, handing it to Kitsune, then lit one for himself. They started walking through the dark cave, which slowly merged into a simply crafted stone corridor, which eventually split in two. "We split up?" Kitsune asked.

"No," Ashen said, "Never split up inside a place like this. If the Order is watching us now, they could seal us off from one another. Besides, both of these will lead to other branches. We'd need hundreds of people to split up at every intersection, and even then only one of us would find the exit, with no way to communicate to the others."

Kitsune nodded. "So...Left?"

"Sure," Ashen said, and started off down the corridor. As expected, the corridor led to another intersection. The two of them started taking turns picking directions, and Kitsune started marking the corridors with her sword. It would blunt the point before too long, but whenever they came to an intersection they could look on the walls for Kitsune's scratches and if they were there, then they knew they'd been down that corridor already. Of course, they didn't know if they'd been down every corridor that corridor led to, so it wasn't a perfect system, but it was better than nothing.

Eventually they came to a room with five exits and a five-pointed star inscribed on the ground, each point of the star leading to one of the exits. Kitsune went to mark the corridor they'd just come from, but found it was already marked. "Oh, no," she muttered to herself.

"What?" Ashen asked as Kitsune checked the other corridors.

"We've never been here before, I'd remember that symbol on the ground if we had...But the markings I've been making are on all of these corridors except one," She said.

"Then let's take one of the others," Ashen said, "I don't want to walk into whatever trap the Order's got planned for us."

"Maybe it's not a trap," Kitsune said, "Maybe they're tired of having us wander around and are trying to lead us out."

"So you trust the Order?"

"No," she said, "But I'd rather face whatever trap, or ambush, or test they've got waiting for us than keep wandering around in circles with the Order messing up our efforts to keep track of where we've been."

Ashen sighed. It made as much sense as anything. Neither of them were even close to capable of the logic necessary to figure this place out. "Fine," he said, "I'll lead the way."

He started down the corridor. After a few yards they came to a small drawbridge, with the mechanism for raising and lowering it on their side. Ashen lowered the bridge while Kitsune looked into the room beyond. It was filled with black balls of iron, each with a fuse coming out of it and hovering just above a fire. The mines and the fires were each standing on top of springs. Kitsune was guessing that the mines could be lowered onto the fire or the fire raised to meet the mines, setting them off. If any of the mines were budged, it would light the fuse, giving you seconds to get out or die in a spectacular explosion. At least it'd be quick.

"What's that on the other side?" Ashen asked, looking into the room.

"A test of agility," Kitsune said, "If we nudge any of those bombs, the fuse will light, giving us, maybe, ten seconds to get out of the room before the bomb we nudged explodes. If one of them explodes, it'll start a chain reaction, and..."

"Right," Ashen said, "And I'll bet this bridge will close behind us once we cross it."

Kitsune looked at the bridge. There weren't any chains holding it up, just ropes. "Unless it can't be closed," she said, stepping forward and sawing through one of the ropes with her sword.5

Ashen smiled and started sawing through the other with his own sword. Once the ropes were cut, the bridge couldn't be raised anymore.

"That'll give us somewhere to run if things go wrong early on," Kitsune said, "But if things go wrong in the middle of the room...It's probably designed so that you can't get out before the bombs go off, and they get thicker and closer together the further into the room you go."

Ashen stepped into the room and nudged one of the mines with his foot. "What're you doing?!" Kitsune asked before Ashen came running back.

"Clearing the room, run!" he said to her. The two of them sprinted from the room, heading up the corridor. The chain reaction was big and impressive, but didn't even come close to reaching them. When they stepped back into the room, there was rubble lying about from the stone pillars that had been destroyed in the blast.

"We'd better get through fast," Kitsune said, "The room will be unstable without those pillars."

The two of them ran through. The ceiling shuddered above them a bit as they passed through the large chamber, but it didn't cave in. On the other side, the two of them stopped to catch their breath. An iron gate closed off the chamber behind them. The two looked at it, wondering what it meant. "Either we're heading in the right direction and the Order doesn't want us to backtrack..." Kitsune started.

"Or we're heading in the wrong direction and the Order has us trapped forever," Ashen finished. "Guess it depends what mood the Order's in."

"I think they're in a good mood," Kitsune said.

"I hope you're right," said Ashen.

The two of them started forward again when the ground suddenly opened up beneath Ashen. He fell through the trapdoor as a steel grate slid over the opening before Kitsune could react. "Ashen!" she called, "Are you alright!"

Ashen grunted a bit from below, then said "Yeah, I'm fine."

"Now what?" Kitsune asked.

"Hang on, I'm thinking," Ashen said. After a few moments of silence, he said "Alright, if the exit is on this side of the bomb chamber, we still need to find it. Since we can't find it together, we may as well split up. If you find it, wait for me at the exit. I'll do the same for you. If the exit's not on this side of the chamber...We'll just have to assume it is on this side."

"Alright," Kitsune said.

"Good luck!" Ashen called, and then started walking down his corridor while Kitsune shouted "You too!"

--------------
1 Draskil is not a boss from Bonfire Keep. I initially wrote this scene between Bonfire and Remmej, but the exposition didn't sound right coming from Bonfire. Bonfire is generally more reserved in words, even though he's rather vicious in deeds. I needed a demon who'd gladly yammer on about his area of magical expertise to anyone who'd sit still long enough to hear it, which meant I had to invent someone new.

2 The Skyclaw Army now numbers about one thousand people. I have no idea if this number is contradicted earlier in the story, because it's been about a year since the Skyclaws plans for the Ridge were introduced and I'm too lazy to read through sixty-seventy pages of my own writing to check it. If it was bigger, then I guess they lost some men to their earlier battles. If it was smaller than I guess they've discovered cloning technology while Grigor and company were out and about.

3 If Ashen had a superpower, it would be to never avoid pain.

4 Getting this far took me about four hours, because for some reason I just can't seem to get into the spirit of the story again. Well, I can, just not for longer than ten minutes at a time, and then it takes half an hour to get it back. I wrote through half the night, went to sleep, and when I woke up, discovered I was definitely and decidedly ill. Not anything bad, but it's kind of hard to focus through the haze. If there's a sudden drop in the quality of writing, this is why.

5 If you're wondering where Ashen and Kitsune got new weapons after their run-in with the Gromka demons, they would've been able to loot the place at will once the Dwarves evacuated, so they would've found their weapons eventually.
__________________


This is a sworded bunny. For every sworded bunny in the world, one regular bunny is defeated. If we get enough sworded bunnies on the internet, we can stop bunnies insidious plot for world domination.

- (\__/)
- (='.'=)==l--
- (")_(")

SWORDED!
Reply With Quote
  #147  
Old 07-16-2009, 07:34 PM
Ashen's Avatar
Ashen Ashen is offline
Experienced Adventurer
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 448
Default

As usual, there will be no further updates until I get a response to this one.

Although, being still rather ill, I do kind of appreciate the rest. But I'd appreciate a response even more.
__________________


This is a sworded bunny. For every sworded bunny in the world, one regular bunny is defeated. If we get enough sworded bunnies on the internet, we can stop bunnies insidious plot for world domination.

- (\__/)
- (='.'=)==l--
- (")_(")

SWORDED!
Reply With Quote
  #148  
Old 07-18-2009, 04:32 PM
QTChi's Avatar
QTChi QTChi is offline
The Anti-Spam Fairy
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Searching for cookies...
Posts: 1,060
Send a message via MSN to QTChi
Default

I didn't post because you said you were sick and can use the rest... (I know how awful it is when trying to write in between spinning head, feverish skin and hacking coughs... heck, Wyeel and Inknform can tell you I've got the same cough for the past month >.<)...

BUUUUUT....
I found a cheerleader emoticon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Oh boy, Kelric will die laughing at me but...I's got to post it!! )

GO ASHEN!!! ^_^


I hope you feel better - now post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL~!
__________________
_______________________________________
:: ANIMATED BANNER DESIGNER ::
Order yours at the Dragon Tavern Official Signature & Avatar Shop FREE!

~ Qtchi's Profile ~
Reply With Quote
  #149  
Old 07-19-2009, 03:32 AM
Ashen's Avatar
Ashen Ashen is offline
Experienced Adventurer
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 448
Default

I'm feeling significantly more in the mood for the story this time around, probably because I've been playing Dragon Tavern, listening to the Kingdom Hearts OST, and reading TVtropes.org for the past two hours, all of those things being regular passtimes back when I was writing last summer. I feel good about this.

Inhumans Requiem part 26 of 30

Shiverwood

Nietra lifted the lightweight cart up a bit and peered out into the Shiverwood. Night had fallen, and while she could still hear the noise of a mob in the distance, everything was quiet around her. She pulled herself out from underneath the overturned cart. A few Unseelie still hung about and glanced in her direction when she emerged, then looked away. They must have taken her for one of their own.

Nietra left the area around what was once the Grove of Kings, most of the trees making up the Grove itself having relocated themselves during Nietra's struggle to control them. She could still recognize them by their magical hearts, now untouched by any magical wards or spells and scattered throughout the nearby area, most still standing.

She could hear a mob in the direction of the no longer abandoned keep, which had been redubbed Skyclaw Keep by Noah. The name had stuck. She didn't want to try to pass through that mob on her way to the keep, so she took the long way around.

After a few minutes, she could hear a pounding sound in the distance, like drums or marching soldiers, and she was also fairly certain she could see the light of fire on the horizon. Both anxious and curious, she decided to investigate.

As she drew closer, she noticed that a few sporadic fires had sprung up nearby, each a few hundred feet from the next. Looking at the sky, she was fairly certain it would rain soon, which would hopefully contain the damage before it started to consume the whole of the Shiverwood, but she was still uncertain who had started it. The Elves wouldn't have lit something on fire, not even Unseelie in the throes of a mob.

Suddenly an emberscale drake dove down from the sky where it had been flying unnoticed amongst the gathering rain clouds and spat out a stream of flame into the forest, lighting the trees on fire not five feet behind Nietra. She nearly screamed, and then ran away from the flames in a panic, the drake spitting out gouts of flame seemingly at random, but always close enough to Nietra to keep her running.

After a while the drake flew off, presumably to light some other part of the forest on fire, leaving Nietra to try to find her away out of the inferno before it consumed her. A few minutes later she emerged from the flames, coughing from smoke and came to rest on a nearby tree.

The pounding noise was very loud, now. She looked down into a gully that served as the main road through the Shiverwood, which was no more than ten feet away from her and five feet down. The pounding noise had come from the marching of Infernals, hundreds if not thousands of them. Nietra pulled herself back behind the tree, frozen with terror and struggling against panic. That road stood between her and the Keep. She'd have to wait for the demons to pass before she could move on.

She shut her eyes and sent a prayer to whatever deity was listening that the demons wouldn't find her before then.

-----------------

Halls of Bu

Kitsune had wandered around for about thirty minutes, and by this point was no longer even trying to find some logical way out of the labyrinth. If the exit was on this side of the maze, then she'd just have to find it by luck, because the Order had foiled her every attempt to find a way to keep track of where she had and hadn't been. In fact, she was fairly certain that there was at least a few trick walls in the labyrinth such that a chamber with three entrances the first time you entered it might have had a fourth uncovered when you came back, and only two still visible when you returned again.

She was beginning to feel tired and, not seeing any reason to exhaust herself when she had no idea where she was going anyway, leaned against the wall and slowly slumped down to the floor. Shafts of moonlight broke through the ceiling via a few holes that had been punched into it twenty feet, either intentionally or as some well equipped adventurers Alexandrian1 answer to the Order's labyrinth. She wanted Ashen to be with her, just to have someone else there. Someone endlessly determined to get out, who'd find some way of beating the Order at their own game, or some way to force them to play a different game entirely, one they weren't so good at.

If she could find one of them, she might be able to beat one in combat, capture him, and force him to tell her the way out. But how would she find one? She could trick one into revealing himself, but first she'd have to know why he was a part of this massive, sick game in the first place, and she didn't. She supposed she could just guess and hope for the best. It was as good a plan as any.

She opened her eyes to give it a shot and noticed an elven woman with a bow and arrow in front of her, who instantly notched an arrow to the bowstring and pointed it at her. Kitsune gasped and put her hand on the hilt of her sword, but she knew she'd be dead by the time she could pull her weapon out. "Don't move," the elf said. Kitsune froze in fear. "Pull your sword out, slowly, and lay it on the ground. No sudden movements," the elf continued, and Kitsune did so, glancing left and right to look for an opportunity for escape. "If you try anything," the elf said, seeing her look around, "I won't hesitate to shoot you."

The elf told her to stand up and put her hands on her head, then searched her for weapons, removing her crossbow, a knife, and a few vials of usefully destructive elixirs she'd found while looting the Gromka gateway after the dwarves had evacuated.

"Who are you?" Kitsune asked nervously, lowering her hands.

"An elf, which is enough to make me an enemy of your Empire, and that's enough to make your Empire an enemy of the Moonwood. Now what does the Empire want with the Ridge?" The elf asked, with an authoritative sense of arrogance.

"I don't know!" Kitsune said in frustration. She'd never wanted to fight the Empire's wars.

"What is your mission here?" The elf asked.

"To kill demons," Kitsune said, "My orders don't say anything about elves."

"Not yet," the elf said with disgust, "But it can only be a matter of time. Your Empire is so arrogant, ripping natural wonders to shreds and wasting the fruits on pointless, imperialist wars. You can't stand the concept that another race of people might be better than you at anything. You have to kill everything you see so that no one can ever claim to be superior to your precious master race. How can you fight for such an Empire?"

"Because my family's going to be killed if I don't," Kitsune said grimly. That stopped the elf.

"What?" she asked.

"My family's being held by an agent of the Empire in Bedua," Kitsune said, "And if my mission fails, they're all going to be executed." The elf paused a moment. "I'm not even fully human," Kitsune said, both frustrated and scared "I'm half-elven, and I've had to hide that ever since I found out over a year ago. While I was being trained in Ajendra I was surrounded by people who'd know exactly what would happen if they found my blood glowing in the full moon and who'd happily kill me for it, for an entire year. My friends would've killed me in cold blood the minute they found out what I am. Do you have any idea what that's like?" She was nearly sobbing as it all came out. These were things she'd never been able to tell anyone, because everyone would've killed her for it. Even Ashen. Especially Ashen. "You think you've got problems with the Empire? Have you ever lived there?"

The elf was silent a bit longer. "Prove it," she said, handing Kitsune a knife and backing away from her, keeping her bow trained on her the whole time. Kitsune backed slowly into one of the shafts of light and made a small cut on her forearm, then tossed the knife back to the elf. The elf stepped over to her and examined the small cut, which glowed a dull silver in the moonlight. "It's not as bright as it should be," the elf observed.

"I guess that's because it's mixed with plain old human blood," Kitsune said roughly.

The elf paused again for a moment, the information sinking in. "I'm sorry," the elf said, "And I sympathize with your situation, but I have my orders as well. I was sent here explicitly to capture agents of the Steel Empire seen entering the area."

"If my mission isn't completed, my family are going to die," Kitsune said, "Please, I have to keep going, for their sake."

"You can make that plea to my commanding officer," the elf said, "I don't have the authority to set you free."

"My family's lives are at stake!" Kitsune said, "Your commanding officer isn't going to know if you let me go, he doesn't even have to know I exist!"

"I do not lie to those who risk their lives to protect the freedom of the Skyclaw Alliance," the elf said, "Nor do I disobey orders intended to protect that freedom. You can come with me willingly or in binds."

Kitsune's head fell. "I'll come," she said, "Where are we going?"

"First, to find your companion. Where is he?" the elf asked.

Kitsune looked up at her in shock. "I-I came here alone," she stammered, but she knew it wasn't a convincing lie.

"I'm sure," the elf said. "Listen, I know this labyrinth inside and out. During my years as an adventurer out of Dragon Tavern, I made my way through it dozens of times. If your friend is still in here, then he will almost certainly starve to death or die in an ambush from the Order of Bu long before he escapes. If you want him to live, tell me where you last saw him."

Kitsune stared at the ground. If the elf was lying and she told her where to find Ashen, she'd have betrayed her only companion, the man who'd saved her life with regularity, and whose company had kept her sane through it all. But if the elf was telling the truth and she didn't tell, Ashen would die. "He fell through a trap door just after the chamber with the minefield," Kitsune said, and added "Please don't hurt him."

"If he's as cooperative as you are, I won't have to, but I make no promises," the elf said, before telling her to start moving down the corridor.

-------------

1 A world with no Macedon should have no Alexander the Great, and thus no stories about his cheating his way out of tricky puzzles, but it can be assumed that there is some similar story about someone who coincidentally shares Alexander's from Terran history.
__________________


This is a sworded bunny. For every sworded bunny in the world, one regular bunny is defeated. If we get enough sworded bunnies on the internet, we can stop bunnies insidious plot for world domination.

- (\__/)
- (='.'=)==l--
- (")_(")

SWORDED!
Reply With Quote
  #150  
Old 07-19-2009, 04:54 AM
QTChi's Avatar
QTChi QTChi is offline
The Anti-Spam Fairy
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Searching for cookies...
Posts: 1,060
Send a message via MSN to QTChi
Default

Aye! It's greatl!!! You're on a roll! Keep it coming!!!
__________________
_______________________________________
:: ANIMATED BANNER DESIGNER ::
Order yours at the Dragon Tavern Official Signature & Avatar Shop FREE!

~ Qtchi's Profile ~

Last edited by QTChi; 07-19-2009 at 05:14 AM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
vBulletin Style by: vbskinpixel.com