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Old 04-13-2009, 05:43 AM
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Chon Chon is offline
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Default [STORY] The Platinum Return

Holidays = some spare time, so I thought I would post some fiction (not an RP) based loosely on some DT lore I picked up in game.

I'll do my best to make sure it doesn't end up unfinished and update as often as I can. It could take a while - it's a pretty big story, at least in my head.

Of course, all comments, good and bad, are welcome. Hope you all enjoy.
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:50 AM
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Chapter One

On a steep hillside, fringed by rocky weathered cliffs, a patch of loose dirt began to shake slightly and then slowly slide a few yards before abruptly stopping. After a few quiet moments, there was a slightly audible rumble and a larger patch of ground, perhaps a yard or two across, and a number of smaller rocks and pebbles quietly moved in unison down another part of the hillside as well. The chorus of birdsong that most days filled the hills stopped in an instant and the area went unnaturally quiet. Hundreds of birds abruptly took to the air, scattering in all directions, silent but for the sound of their frantic wings. There was a slight pause where, for a brief moment, the silence and stillness granted the scene an air of peacefulness. Then with a deep rumble and a sickening crunch that echoed through valleys and peaks for miles around, the largest rocks broke loose from the soil that held them and began tumbling ever faster down the hillside that was their home. The ground trembled and trees creaked as if something was pulling them from underneath, tugging endlessly at their roots and causing them to sway as if hit by a stiff wind. As the boulders, now numbering in the many hundreds, gathered pace they collected tonnes of smaller rocks and a cloud of dirt that now swarmed around the boulders like angry insects. It seemed to take an incredibly long time for the mass to reach the lowest part of the hillside and begin to slow as it broke like a wave over the low lying lands at the hillsides base. Mere minutes after it had begun the rockslide was over and the village of Turnian, once a thriving community of artisans and merchants, farmers and children, was no more, buried forever under countless tonnes of rock and dirt.

As the dust slowly but steadily rose into the air over what was once Turnian, a figure stood on the road not far from the devastation. After having watched the village’s destruction with some measure of satisfaction, he now gazed with great wonderment and imagined shapes in the growing cloud of dust. Smiling, he imagined faces emerging from the haze, the twisted screaming faces of the villagers as they met their end. He had the look of a traveller – unkempt beard, dusty worn boots and a hooded cape, tattered at its ends, covering his head and bony, thin shoulders. In his left hand he carried a wooden pole that, for now, fulfilled the role of walking stick as he leant heavily on it while surveying what had become of the village just along the road.

Turnian was now no more than a pile of boulders and dirt with the remains of buildings scattered around, barely recognisable. In the midst of the rubble a brick that had once been part of the village school rocked once and then slid aside, a small hand emerging from beneath it. Slowly, the hand found things to grip and pushed more and more rubble aside until eventually there was enough of a gap for an entire arm to emerge, then a head and then shoulders. A young boy of no more than ten or eleven, dazzled momentarily by the sunlight, blinked and took in his surroundings. He noticed a plume of dust slowly rising around him. It rose gently, almost gracefully, from the pile of earth and rubble that he stood atop which until minutes ago had been the boy’s village and his home. He staggered slightly with his first few steps, his feet sliding on the rocks and debris, occasionally becoming momentarily wedged in small gaps. Not knowing what else to do he began walking towards the edge of the village where his house had stood. Brought on equally by fear and pain, tears were flowing leaving a clean, glistening trail down both cheeks of his dirt covered face. In the distance he saw the figure of a man standing in the road just beyond what would have been the edge of the village and in sheer desperation and confusion, started stumbling towards him.

The man remained silently leaning against his pole as the boy breached the last of the rubble on hands and knees and, after rising to his feet with what seemed to be a great effort, began down the road towards him. The boy was most certainly badly injured but tenaciously kept moving forward despite clumsily falling to his knees and then struggling to get up on several occasions. One of his feet dragged slightly as if he could no longer bend his knee and each dragged step caused a small puff of dust to rise behind him and blow gently across the road. As he got closer the cloaked figure could see a growing stain of blood down the right side of the boy’s battered tunic which was now slowly spreading down his right thigh as well. He remained unmoving though his gaze turned more and more to one of intense curiosity as the boy struggled to bridge the gap between them.

The boy lost his footing once more as he felt the strength drain from his legs and he collapsed a few yards from the man. He looked up longingly, hoping for a sign that this man could offer some salvation. The man, however, simply stared back at him without emotion. The boy, whose nickname in the village had been ‘Orco’, inspected the man’s face for a moment. His skin was pale, and his eyes were hollow and empty. Oddly, to Orco the man looked like the corpse he and his friend Willem had found while fishing in the creek behind the village mill during the last spring thaw. Orco shook his head, of course he can’t be dead, he thought, he’s standing in front of me. With the last of his energy Orco stood once more and approached the man with trust inherent of his young age.

The cloaked man remained staring at the young boy in front of him for a moment before finally speaking,

“What’s your name boy?” His voice was rich in overtones and possessed an odd, almost melodic, quality.

“My name... my name is Valdire, sir” said the boy though it took great effort.

“But everyone calls me Orco. Sir... I don’t know...” he paused and turned back to look at the ruined village, “I don’t know what’s happening sir, can you help me... please”

The man remained motionless for a moment and then leant his head to one side, surveying the boy further still.

“How old are you Orco?” asked the man coolly.

“I’m eleven sir, well... yeah, eleven”

“And you need my help eh?”

“Yes please sir, I need to find my parents” said Orco as his lower lip started to tremble, “I... I don’t know where they are.”

A new voice suddenly interjected.

“Don’t toy with the lad, Kolltaire”

Orco looked over to see a dwarf sitting in a shady patch under a small tree just off to the side of the road. He had his legs crossed and was smoking a pipe. Each time the dwarf exhaled the smoke wafted gently into the branches above, highlighting the sun rays as they filtered through the leaves. Kolltaire, as the cloaked figure was apparently known, turned to the dwarf with an annoyed scowl on his pale face.

“I suppose you’re right” he said with a sigh.

Turning back to Orco he raised a hand and rubbed his forehead first grimacing and then smiling awkwardly.

“Boy, come here, are you in pain?” he asked taking a half step towards him.

“I can help you, you know” he reached a pale, bony hand out towards Orco.

Orco looked at him with wide eyes as an unexpected shiver of fear ran down his spine. He backed away a step, nearly falling yet again.

“Can I boy, can I take the pain away for you?

Orco was possessed with the urge to run but lacked the energy left to do so. Not knowing if he could trust the man, and showing maturity beyond his years, he made a conscious submission to his fate. Orco surrendered to his pain, his fear and his grief.

“Yes sir, it really hurts, it hurts a lot”, he said with a last hopeful thought that this man might help him. Orco continued, as tears now streamed down his face and his sobs choked off his words and he once again fell to his knees.

“Yes... yes, please help me” he said and closed his eyes.

The smile on Kolltaire’s face turned from awkwardness to one brought on by sheer pleasure. His eyes rolled back and his head lolled backwards, his mouth opening slightly as he slowly raised both his arms, dropping the pole that he had been leaning on. There was a stir of movement from under his cloak and what sounded like the scratching of claws. A writhing mass slowly emerged from behind the cloak, flowing out over Kolltaire’s body and down his legs spreading onto the ground around him. Orco opened his eyes to see dozens of bloodied, severed hands and limbs speeding towards him. He looked down screaming, panic freezing him in place, and saw a bloody, scarred hand with splintered bone protruding inelegantly from its wrist and at least one of its fingers missing, leap from the dirt and grab his leg.



The dwarf sitting under the tree bowed his head as the screams of the young boy slowly began to fade. He could hear Kolltaire giggling maniacally as the screams turned to gurgles and then finally to silence. He turned to the man leaning against a nearby tree, hidden by its shadows.

“It sickens me when he does this, he’s mad. It should be quick. He takes too much joy in the killing for my liking”

“Quick like a rockslide, sage?” replied the man with a sarcastic tone.

The dwarf turned away and lowered his head.

“Aye, like a rockslide. They never knew what hit ‘em”

“That’s a rather casual attitude for someone who just destroyed an entire village and everyone in it, don’t you think?” The man said as he stepped forward slightly, allowing the sun to hit only the lower part of his face. “Do you think it’s somehow more acceptable to kill a hundred without ever looking them in the eye, than one half-dead boy face to face?”

The dwarf stopped smoking and tapped the pipe’s burning remains onto an exposed root of the tree he sat under. He looked at the hidden face of the man and shrugged.

“Aye, you may be right Marcus, maybe I’m no better than him” he looked up at the road to see Kolltaire, covered in blood, dancing towards them. His horde of severed limbs followed him in a line, slowly resuming their hiding place under his cloak.

“You Marcus” continued the dwarf, “you’re the worst of us all”

A small smile appeared on Marcus’ face.

“Really Girm, what makes you say that?”

The dwarf considered his words for a moment, doing his best to ignore Kolltaire who had rejoined them and was proudly holding one of Orco’s severed hands in front of his face, inspecting it and panting like an excited dog.

“Always from the shadows Marcus, always from the shadows do you and your kind operate” replied Girm with a growing look of sorrow on his face.
“And from the shadows you delight in destroying lives, you kill thousands, you plunge us all towards war on a whim.”

Marcus pursed his lips and nodded slightly, folding his arms across his chest.
“You think I would do such things on a whim? These things don’t come about because of a whim. They take time, planning, and if I do say so myself, no small measure of genius.”

Marcus stepped forward now, out of the shadows. He was middle-aged and did not bear the usual marks of an adventurer. His skin was clean and clear, his hair flowed effortlessly devoid of grime and dirt, and no scars blemished his soft untanned skin. His clothes too suggested stature. He wore not armour or a robe imbued of magic, instead he wore plush velvet pants and gleaming, shiny leather boots, a silken tunic and cape both of the highest quality, adorned with fine gold embroidery. On his fingers were several large golden rings and around his neck hung a thick gold chain which bore the emblem of the Mountain Kingdoms.

“Genius, Ha” snorted Girm “You rule over the humans here in the kingdom. You are their Lord, their leader, and their protector and yet you skulk here in the shadows with hired monsters like Kolltaire and I”

Girm rose to his feet and faced Marcus directly.

“You spit on the pact you hold with the Dwarf and Elf Lords and do so by hiring brigands like us to destroy a village of your own people. I may be a simple dwarf, but I fail to see the genius”

Marcus remained unmoved, his face giving away no emotion.

“The pact of the three lords is mine to do with as I please” he said coldly.

“Tell me Girm, have you ever seen a great forest after a wildfire had passed through it?”

Marcus began slowly pacing, becoming more animated and waving his hands slightly as he talked.

“A wildfire destroys all in its path it’s true, and it’s an evil force to be sure. It does not discriminate or grant favour... no... it consumes what it must to survive. It destroys the old order of the forest, those great but ancient trees that must fight each other for the light.”

He approached the dwarf, bowed his head and looked intently into his eyes.

“What happens after the wildfire has done its work, hmm? New growth emerges from the ashes. Seeds that have been dormant for years spring into life now that the light is no longer blocked. They have their time in the sun, hmm”

Marcus seemed to have become momentarily lost in his own thoughts and Girm simply shook his head, not knowing how to reply and finding that he cared of the Lord’s unfathomable motives less and less.

“Come,” Said Marcus with an air of finality, “there’s still work for you to do and I must get back to the capital.”

The three walked a short way off the road to a small clearing. There were more men here standing around several covered wagons and at Marcus’ signal they threw off the covers. The first two wagons revealed an array of strange looking machinery, the third a pile of dead men who all wore the armour and insignia of the Steel Empire.

Marcus turned to Kolltaire and, leaning in, whispered in his ear.

“Make sure they get all this in place at the top of the hill where the rockslide began, and make sure it looks convincing” he said quietly.

He was about to walk to his mount but paused and turned back to Kolltaire once again.

“And please, leave no witnesses. Consider them a gift.” He said, waving his arm towards the men who were busily arranging the wagons.

Kolltaire nodded enthusiastically, inspecting the men’s limbs as a wicked grin spread across his face.
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:54 AM
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Chapter Two

Many leagues from where Turnian once stood, in dark caverns far beneath the surface, a countless army worked impatiently. Workers dug through the earth in endless shifts, spurred on by their pitiless masters. Huge beasts yoked to carts and wagons came under the whip, urging them on mercilessly, their violent will long broken. They formed two lines many miles long that moved ceaselessly along the cavernous, torch lined tunnels, one carrying away the dirt and rock those at the head of the tunnel dug out each day and the other line returning to the head of the tunnel to collect yet another load. Meanwhile in expansive tunnels and caverns some miles from the digging, tens of thousands prepared violently, and in earnest, for war.

The tunnels grew steadily, as they had for years now, slowly but surely moving the army away from the foul hell they had called home and towards their goal, all while those on the surface above had little clue to their presence, save for rumour and myth - little more than bedtime stories used to scare youngsters.

On a ledge high above one of the many vast caverns, the leader of the army sat. His wooden throne was impressive, adorned with crude carvings and encrusted with gleaming white bones punctuated by human looking skulls, some still wearing their rusty helms. He slowly turned his head, surveying his great army with pleasure. He turned to the shaman that cowered next to him.

“Tell ‘em to work faster. We must move quickly”

“Yes, lord”

The chieftain moved to the edge of his seat and slammed a fist down onto the arm of his throne.

“Kill some of ‘em and feed ‘em to the beasts. That’ll get ‘em moving”

“Yes, lord Kargel, of course”

The shaman began to move off, eager to carry out his lord’s bidding, however he stopped in his tracks when two large glowing red eyes blinked in the darkness behind the throne. A scaled, red snout, full of gleaming teeth emerged slowly into the light. The dragon moved itself closer to the chieftain, the sound of dragging scale and claw echoing through the tunnel that lead to the ledge. The shaman bowed low and shuffled backwards, doing his best to megre into the shadows of the nearest wall.

“The time is nearly upon usss, Kargel”

The dragon spoke slowly and with great intent, its voice quieter than its appearance suggested. Kargel turned his head and looked at the dragon, unaware he was leaning away from it more and more to the point where he was now slumped low in his own throne, which was dwarfed by the dragon’s head. Upon realising his sagging posture he sat up straight again and threw his shoulders back in defiance.

“You have news from the surface?”

“Yes Kargel, newss of ssortssss. The plan is underway. Mere momentsss ago, a peaceful village in the kingdom met its end. Many died.”

A broad smile crept onto Kargel’s face.

“Ahh... wonderful... wonderful! Soon all the surface scum will all meet such an end”

Kargel stared down at his endless minions, suddenly deep in thought, dreaming of his army surging through charred and burning lands carrying his banner, Kargel the Savage – greatest of the Gruumish chieftains...

“Kargel!” snapped the dragon, “Now is not the time for day-dreaming. You must keep the clansss at peace now more than ever. There is no room for infighting, we must keep moving forward regardlesssss of the cost”

“The clans are under my control, they do as I say” said Kargel as he motioned for the shaman to return to his side.

“Make sssure it sstaysss that way, Kargel. Do not dissssapoint me” With this the dragon slowly disappeared back into the darkness.

Kargel paused for a moment, grinding his teeth in anger. He rose suddenly and grabbed the shaman by the neck dragging him roughly and then kicking him to the ground.

“Kill a hundred workers” Kargel snarled, his voice getting louder with every word “Kill a hundred, feed their lousy innards to the wargs and mount their wretched heads on pikes to line the main tunnel.” He moved to the edge of the ledge and threw his head back, yelling “The same slow death awaits any who don’t... work... faster!”
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:43 AM
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Chapter Three


The tunnel narrowed and Vallious was forced to lower his head as he ran in order to avoid hitting it on the sharp rocky outcrops that lined the ceiling. He did not mind running in such an uncomfortable position however it did mean he had to shorten his stride slightly and this slowed him down. Ever practical, he decided to take advantage of his situation and reached behind his back and grabbed one sword hilt in each hand and forcefully drew the twin blades that were strapped to his back, sheathed upside down. The feel of the blades in his hands was comforting, the soft, worn leather of the hilts absorbing the shape of his hands perfectly. They instantly felt like an extension of his very self, an experience he always found gratifying, even soothing. He let the blades trail behind him, his hands at his sides, arms hanging a little behind the rest of his body. The sound behind him was growing louder now, a rhythmic thud, thud... thud, thud that chilled and excited him simultaneously. A brief fleeting look over his shoulder let him know that his pursuer was rapidly closing the gap between them. Thinking through the situation as quickly as he could, he noticed the tunnel ahead took a sharp turn to the right. He lowered his head further, his eyes squinting, hoping this would slip him through the dank air just a little faster.

Vallious took the corner at such speed that his feet were forced onto the lowest part of the tunnel wall as he ran. Magnificent, he thought, as he enjoyed the feeling of defying gravity even for the slightest of moments. He then allowed the tip of the blade in his right hand to dig into the earthen floor which slowed him down, allowing him to negotiate the corner at top speed. The tunnel opened out slightly now and finally he was able to lift his head. Even though he couldn’t help but feel a little disturbed by his inability to understand the elation he was experiencing he decided to enjoy the situation as much as he could. He allowed the grin on his face to broaden and ran down the tunnel as fast as he could.

Time seemed to slow and Vallious revelled in the effort of every stride. The wind blowing his hair backwards as he ran was his wind, the creation of his effort. Vallious felt freer and more alive than any time he could remember. Despite the seriousness of the situation he could not help but let out a small laugh. He smiled broadly as he once again checked behind him to see the beast come round the corner as well. The beast, a foul crossbreed of ogre and wolf, failed to negotiate the corner with the same elegance and clumsily slammed into the wall, a shower of dirt and moss bouncing off its matted hide as it was shook loose from the ceiling. This only slowed it down momentarily and, upon seeing Vallious so close in the tunnel ahead, the beast let out a guttural roar and strived forward in its pursuit.

Ahead the tunnel came to a dead end. Vallious looked around, trying to weigh up his options. He remained calm, though he could not ignore the excitement rapidly building within him. Full of purpose, he slowed his run just enough for the beast to close the gap even further. One thought ran through his mind repeatedly “I have to get the timing right... I have to get the timing just right”. He focussed on this thought in the hope that it would let him avoid distraction. He allowed his eyes to flick around the walls ahead, surveying for just the right spot “To flat... to high... ah hah”. His eyes focussed on a section of wall about twenty strides ahead. On the wall, just around head height was a small ledge that ran along the tunnel for a couple of feet protruding only inches from the smoother part of the wall. He slowed down once again and allowed the beast to come within mere feet of him. The fetid breath and flecks of slimy saliva hit his neck, the clack of its claws hitting the rocky ground echoed around him. He twirled both blades in his hands so they were now facing upright and launched himself at the diminutive ledge.

As he jumped the beast swiped at his legs but missed them altogether. Vallious felt himself push off the ground and was sure he could float on forever, so effortless it was. The wall came closer and he stuck his right leg out to meet it. In one graceful, fluid movement he allowed his foot to find purchase on the ledge and let his knee bend to absorb the impact. Once his leg was fully bent he uncoiled it with all the force he could muster and simultaneously spun himself around. He was now horizontal to the ground, looking directly down at the beast below him. It was trying to stop and accordingly was sliding along the floor, legs flailing, its momentum forcing it straight under Vallious and his waiting blades.

Time seemed to slow down even further for Vallious. He stared in wonder as the beast moved along the floor beneath him. It was as if he could have reached out and stroked it on the head like a pet if he so wished, and he almost did but the excitement in him reached a crescendo forcing him to focus - the time had come to strike. He curled his body and rolled in midair, allowing his feet to hit the opposite wall and gently push of it. He raised his two swords above his head as he descended on the now doomed animal. The blades sang as they cut through the air with remarkable speed and deadly force. Finally Vallious succumbed to the elation he was feeling and let out an almighty scream as he fell atop the beast.

The blades found their mark, first one through the neck of the beast, followed mere moments later by the second. The ease at which they passed through flesh and bone surprised Vallious, he had expected to feel at least some resistance. He looked on this as a blessing and, as the blades did their work, he rolled over as he fell, landing on one shoulder and allowing himself to tumble with the momentum. As he righted himself he found he was sliding through the soft dirt with one knee on the ground. With an effort, he forced his body to turn as he slid and he once again faced the beast. It had dropped the moment he struck and the body had forcibly hit the ground as its legs lost strength, causing a cloud of fine dust to rise from the earth around it. The excitement he felt showed no signs of abating and he grinned at his handiwork, a great victory. Out of the dust rolled the beasts head, bouncing as it turned end over end, moving towards where Vallious was now coming to a halt. He remained on one knee, swords at the ready, and watched the head roll towards him, finally coming to rest on the floor in front of him.

“Vallious”

In shock, he threw himself backwards, landing awkwardly on his behind as the head spoke his name.

“Vallious” came a familiar voice.

He was sure he knew that voice but could hardly think, overcome by a wave of confusion. He shook his head and carefully sat upright so he could inspect the head. Its eyes were focussed on him though they struck him as lifeless. Its mouth was slightly ajar and it tongue was hanging out awkwardly. Fear was rising in him now as he slowly leant closer, a feeling he did not appreciate at all. He could feel his muscles tense and his breath shorten. “No” he said out loud in an attempt to calm himself. His swords left lying next to him in the dirt, he slowly reached out one hand towards the source of the voice.

“Vallious, Sir, you must wake up” said the head.
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:49 AM
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Chapter Four

Creager gently shook Vallious once again.

Vallious, Sir, you must wake up”

Creager paused and looked around the room. Empty wine bottles were scattered across the bedside table, some having fallen to the floor and left where they lay. He clenched his jaw, it would be harder to wake him up than he had originally thought. Maybe this time he won’t wake up and start throwing punches, he hoped. He grabbed the bed sheets and forcibly pulled them back.

“Sir, wake up” he said in a louder voice, leaning over the edge of the bed.

Vallious’ eyes snapped open and his hand shot up, grabbing Creager by the neck. Creager struggled slightly as he was pulled face to face with a confused looking Vallious.

“You can’t talk… how can you talk… you’re just a head”

Creager smiled and shifted his eyes left and right. The damn fool was dreaming again.

“Ah… Sir, I think you’re dreaming. It’s me, Creager”

Vallious blinked his eyes a few times, the dazed look departing to be replaced by one of what seemed to be embarrassment.

“Uh… Creager?”

“Yes Sir, I’m sorry but I had to wake you”

Vallious let go of his aide’s neck and did his best to hide the flush on his cheeks. He rolled over slightly and started picking up bottles from the bedside table, throwing them to the floor upon finding them empty.

“Sir, I received a message early this morning” said Creager as he stood and moved towards the room’s only window. He pulled the curtains open and daylight bounced around, reflecting off the many bottles and flagons, causing coloured lights to dance around the bare walls. Vallious squinted and raised one hand to rub his eyes, hoping to block out the light as much as anything.

“A message? What message?” he said as he dragged himself upright and leant his back against the headboard. He reached under his pillow and pulled out a small flask that still held a splash of liquor. Feeling slightly more awake now he pulled the cork from the flask and downed its contents in one gulp.
Creager turned and looked at him disapprovingly.

“Sir the message was from the chancellor, he wants you to come to his office as soon as you can.”

“The chancellor? Gah… I’ve always made him wait in the past, I doubt today should be any different”

Creager nodded as he took a clean set of clothes out of the small wardrobe in the corner.

“Aye Sir, I’m well aware of your love of toying with the chancellor, but I think today is different”

He moved to the window and looked upwards.

“There are Sky Guards patrolling above us and earlier this morning, as I walked past the stables to the kitchens, I saw the hands tending to a dozen horses whose saddles bore the insignia of Lord Marcus Renuncia’s personal Guard.”

Vallious let out a groan, “Lord Renuncia is here at Hearthfire Hold, eh? I wonder why our ever benevolent leader has graced us with his presence.” he said sarcastically.

Despite his sarcasm Vallious realised that this was troubling. It would be, he suspected, bad news. He reached for a bowl of water Creager had sat on the end of the bed and splashed his face, the coolness of the water forcing a slight return of his senses.

“Thankyou Creager, and ah… sorry about your neck”

“Think nothing of it, Sir. It is comforting to know that the great War Master Vallious has not lost his strength, despite his advancing years. If only the same could be said for his wits”

Creager grinned at Vallious and he grinned back willingly. He was, as always, touched by Creager’s endless loyalty. Creager had been his most faithful of captains and had willingly accepted a lowly position as his aide when Vallious had begrudgingly taken the position of instructor here at Hearthfire Hold. He wished better for Creager, who was one of the best swordsman he ever had under his command. He could just as easily still be in the field fighting. He had told Creager as much when he first took up the posting, but true to his oath, he refused, his loyalty was to Vallious and that would not change, regardless of how much his master might.

“Dreaming of past glory again, Sir?” inquired Creager cheekily as he started removing Vallious’ armour from the wooden mannequin that held it. Vallious waved his hand,

“I won’t be needing that today, old friend” he said with resignation, “If it’s so important that they must wake me this early they can take me as I am”

Creager raised a quizzical eyebrow,

“As you wish, sir, However, it is noon”

“Huh… noon, no wonder I’m so hungry” said Vallious as he began to get out of bed. He was not a young man anymore and this he felt with every weary bone in his body. He brushed back his greying hair roughly with his hands. He was forty-eight now but had kept his strong physique, always willing to train alongside the cadets when required. From a drawer in the bedside table he removed a small mirror and held it up to his weathered face. He had not shaved for some days but he cared little. His thoughts turned to the dream. The emotion he had felt as he had run and leapt, and even killed, returned to him, albeit fleetingly. His eyes fluttered closed and he exhaled deeply, smiling and trying to hold onto the memory of the dream before it flitted away, as it always did.

“Well Creager, I guess I had better go and see what they want” he said as he opened his eyes, pushing the dream out of his mind. He propped himself up on the bed and swung his remaining leg over the edge. Last knight he had retired to his room early, apparently after raiding the wine cellar. The drunken evening was a blur, his memories hazy. He searched the room and finally spotted what he needed, shoved unceremoniously into the fireplace.

“Ah, Creager, could you fetch that for me” he said sheepishly, pointing to the wooden leg.

Creager looked over to the leg and almost laughed out loud.

“Yes, sir” he said with a smile spreading across his face. He walked over to the hearth and retrieved the wooden leg. It was charred black at one end and had a dining knife protruding from its chipped and worn surface.
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:42 AM
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Chapter Five

Chancellor Froame, hands held behind his back, eyes down, paced the wooden floor of his office. The room’s stone walls were adorned with books down one side, many of which were dusty and tattered, showing their age. On the opposite wall were mounted many weapons and shields, some tarnished and rusted as they had long been retired from the battlefield. Froame himself seemed to share their age and their decline. His hair was mottled grey and receding, his face weathered and wrinkled. As he paced his legs jerked awkwardly at times as if causing him sudden pain, though it did not show on his face.

He had been a commander on the battlefield, one who never stayed at the rear but rather one who was always in the midst of battle. As he paced his thoughts returned to those days long past, wishing that once again he could ride out, banners held high, armour gleaming, sharpened sword at his side. That was the way to deal with these problems, not politics.

“You look troubled, chancellor”

Froame stopped pacing and cast a look towards his ornate desk and the man who now sat at it.

“Of course my Lord, it makes little sense to me. I can’t fathom the news, to be honest.”

Marcus Renuncia stood up and moved to one of the rooms arched windows and, leaning against its edge, looked down upon the soldiers training in the large dirt field below.

“They’ll understand it well enough. They’ll be filled with the desire for revenge. That is all the understanding they will need, or care for.”

Froame raised one hand to stroke his chin and furrowed his brow, confused.

“My lord, perhaps we should not make this public knowledge yet”

Marcus turned to the chancellor and took a few steps towards him, placing one hand on his shoulder.

“Before my father died, he spoke of you often Froame. He said he had not seen one who could match your mind on the battlefield. He trusted you judgement and so, I think, should I”

Marcus now placed his hands behind his back and started his own pacing.

“You are of course right, if this news spreads there will a great deal of unrest. Do you think Vallious can be trusted to keep the details secret, given the ah… circumstances”

“Of course my lord, Vallious retains his loyalty and commitment of service, despite his problems.”

Froame, nervously biting his lip, pausing to consider his next words.

“Vallious… he has sometimes been willing to let his emotions rule him. Given this news perhaps one of the other war masters, one less involved and more um… able should be given the task.”

“I do not believe having one leg will make him less able to carry out my orders Froame” he said as he resumed his seat at the desk. “If this is to remain quiet for now then Vallious is the right choice. He’ll not draw attention.”

“My lord, I think word of Turnian’s destruction will spread, regardless of our efforts. Should you be seen as not acting…”

“Vallious’ name still carries weight in the kingdom. Many of the common folk still think him a hero. If it comes to that, I will leak word that the great Vallious himself has ridden out to meet this threat” said Marcus as a broad smile crept across his face.

“Yes, my lord” replied Froame, his concerned expression returning.

Before they could continue there was a knock. Froame turned and moved to the door, opening it.

“Vallious, come in” he said as he was greeted by the war master.

Froame was struck by the smell of liquor. The common clothes Vallious had thrown on struck Froame as inapropriate. Vallious brushed past him, his walking stick thudding on the wooden floor with each measured step.

“Thankyou, chancellor,” once past Froame he spotted Marcus rising to his feet at the chancellor’s desk.

“Vallious” said Marcus with a welcoming grin “It’s been a long time. It’s good to see you.”

Vallious gave him a slight bow.

“My lord, it has been a long time. What brings you to Hearthfire?”

Marcus, throwing his head back, laughed out loud.

“Vallious… always direct and to the point. It was one of the things I have always admired about you. In my position it’s always good to have someone by you side who will tell you of things as they are.”

Marcus came around and sat on the edge of the desk.

“Please Vallious, have a seat, there are things I must discuss with you” he said pointing to one of the chairs in front of the desk.

Vallious moved to the seat and sat down, though it took some effort. He looked at Froame and detected concern on his face. Froame had been his mentor, his instructor and his commander. There were few men Vallious trusted or respected more. The look on his face filled Vallious with dread. He could not remember a time when he had seen any emotion on Froames face, regardless of the situation. Looking upon him now Vallious was sure he detected fear.

He turned his attention to Marcus. He knew the lord well. After the death of his father, Marcus had become Vallious’ lord and commander. They were roughly the same age and with the retirement of Froame to Hearthfire, Vallious had become Marcus’ favoured commander in battle. He could not help but think back to those times. Marcus often took the field in his younger days, while his father still lived, as was expected of someone of his position. Once he became lord, Marcus had relied on Vallious more and more, never taking to the field himself. While he understood the reasons for this, Vallious never the less lost some respect for him. He proved himself too willing to sacrifice the lives of his own men for meagre gains, something Vallious had found he could not stomach so easily. Over years in his service, he had seen Marcus’ ruthless and selfish side emerge more and more and had come to distrust, and even loathe, the Lord. This coupled with his willingness to voice his objections had led to an uneasy relationship between the two that persisted until he had been injured and himself retired to Hearthfire. He felt the loathing ignite like a fire inside him now they were once again face to face.

“Have you ever heard of a village called Turnian?” asked Marcus.

Vallious thought for a moment, gazing downwards.

“Turnian, perhaps I have heard the name. I can’t be sure”

Froame spoke up as well.

“Perhaps not, it is a small village near our border with the Empire, until recently quite unremarkable.”

Marcus shot a glare at Froame, offended by his interruption. He continued,

“Yes, quite unremarkable. Just a common village at the centre of some local farmlands.” Marcus moved around to the front of the desk closer to Vallious, leaned back on the desk and crossed his arms. “Two days ago the village was destroyed by a landslide. The surrounding hillside collapsed, burying the town and, it seems, all those in it.”

Vallious remained silent for a moment, considering what Marcus had just told him. The dread within him was rising further, he could taste it like acid in his mouth.

“That sounds truly tragic, my lord, but if I may be blunt, why are you here telling me about this?”

Marcus paused before continuing, deciding to ignore the question for a moment.

“When news of the landside reached the next village, they sent word. I dispatched a squad of Sky Guards to the scene. What they found was… troubling.” Marcus pushed himself off the desk and once again started pacing the room.

Vallious remained silent, he looked to Froame who was leaning against the wall, his head lowered. Marcus continued

“The destruction of the village is complete. There are locals from the next village there now looking for survivors though we are yet to hear any good news.” He paused again for a moment and raised one eyebrow, never breaking eye contact.

“The landslide was no accident.”

Vallious felt his muscles tense as the shock of this news ran through him and forced himself to remain focussed doing his best to appear calm.

“No accident? What do you mean?”

“The sky guards found something in the hills were the landslide began. They found evidence that suggests that this was an attack – an attack by the Empire.” Marcus practically spat out the last words of the sentence, as if they did not wish to leave his mouth.

The alarm that Vallious had felt earlier paled in comparison to the dread he was now experiencing. Unbelievable, he knew the news couldn’t be true.

“Lord, there must be a mistake. The empire wouldn’t’ attack us, it’s…”

“It seems to makes no sense, I know” interjected Marcus, finishing the sentence for him. “However, that is what they found. The evidence is irrefutable.”

“But a landslide, that doesn’t sound like an attack. Why would they use such means?”

“The sky guards report that it looked like something went wrong. The Empire’s forces triggered the landslide but, stupid dolt’s they are, got caught up in their own treachery. It would appear they meant the landslide to look like an accident but ended up killing themselves in the process, the cowards.”

Vallious shifted in his seat. This made less and less sense. The empire and the kingdom were not enemies. As far as he knew the Empire had its hand’s full protecting its borders from the wilds. He could not comprehend why they would attack a village, let alone try to make it look like an accident. He rubbed his forehead for a moment and then shook his head.

“No… No… It doesn’t make sense. I can’t think of any reason for it”

Vallious was surprised at how quickly his mindset returned to that of a soldier, a commander, trying to understand the strategy behind the Empire’s actions. Finding the feeling uncomfortable indeed, he did his best to stop trying to work it out.

“I can’t offer you any insight into this Lord, if that is why you’re here. It makes no sense to me and given my time cloistered here, I doubt that will change. The happenings of the world are of little concern to me these days to be honest.”

Marcus approached him and, standing behind him, placed both hands on his shoulders.

“You were a great general, Vallious, a great soldier. With that in mind, I have an undertaking for you.”

Vallious tensed immediately, Marcus could feel the muscles in his shoulders tighten and hunch.

“Vallious, I want you to go to Turnian and investigate this.”

“My Lord” said Vallious reeling, “You want me to go there. Marcus, my soldiering days are well behind me” he said vehemently, momentarily forgetting his rank and addressing Marcus by his first name, “I was a war master in another life, that time is long gone, I don’t even have any men under my direct command.”

Marcus removed his hands and spoke with more force.

“That is why I have chosen you for this Vallious, if this was an attack then we have to tread carefully and quietly. If word spreads unchecked it will drive us towards war.”

Vallious felt an uncontrollable anger rising in him now. He picked up his own wooden leg under the knee and slammed the foot down on the floor with force, the sound echoing around the room.

“And what of this Marcus, are you forgetting this. Asking me to do this makes even less sense than this supposed attack.” Vallious was yelling now.

Marcus’ face turned dark and angry in an instant. He flew around to face Vallious, his lip’s curled into a snarl and his brow furrowed, marked by deep lines of anger.

“Vallious!” he yelled, “Do not forget who you are talking to.” He slammed the top of the desk with his fist, “I am not going to argue about this with you…”

He stopped yelling and closed his eyes, drawing in a deep breath as if trying to calm himself. With a much cooler tone and a measured pace he spoke now to Froame,

“Tell him, Froame.”

The chancellor snapped his head up as if he’d been slapped. He looked at Marcus with pleading eyes and then slowly approached Vallious. Vallious saw the look in his eyes and his anger turned once again to dread.

“Vallious, there is more, something that might give some sense to this.”

Now Froame moved behind Vallious and placed his hands on his shoulders.

“Lord Renuncia received word some weeks ago that something was amiss in the empire.”

Marcus found he could not help himself and jumped back into the conversation.

“I received a message that someone from the empire, someone of rank, wanted to pass on important information. They wanted to meet in secret.”

Vallious found he couldn't move, as if he was glued to his seat. He was forced to swallow hard as bile rose in his throat.

“I decided to send someone to meet with this informant, though I didn’t know who they were or what information they had. A meeting was arranged for two days ago, at a small tavern in Turnian.”

Marcus nodded towards Froame and turned away, moving once again to the window. Froame took up the conversation.

“Vallious, Lord Renuncia sent one of his best men, a trained infiltrator. We think the rockslide might have been designed to interrupt that meeting. We can’t be sure but the landslide may have occurred precisely as that meeting was taking place.”

Vallious could not think clearly. Part of him already knew what was coming next and he was overwhelmed with emotion. From the window Marcus spoke, not turning to look at Vallious in order to hide the wicked smile on his face.

“The infiltrator… it was Menfis… it was your son.”
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Last edited by Chon; 04-18-2009 at 04:39 AM. Reason: must have been tired - too many adverbs!
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:52 PM
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Default STORY The Platinum Return

Wow Nin that is fantastic news about the stories Congratulations on your sucess and I hope you have boatloads more of it in the future

Sorry to hear about the other and I hope your sucess brings you a little comfort in that area. So atleast one thing can be going right you know? Take care and stay positive if you can. Good luck
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