The Blade of Phoee (Updated 12/08/08) - Page 5




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  1. #41
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    Chapter One: Fate's Weave continued

    Ok...I'm going to try not to bore you with too many details about my month absence from this thread. I have been busy. So, here's an update Consider it an approximately 2100 word apology. Enjoy.
    Hopefully everyone will forgive me

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

    Cassock spun toward the keep. Steps, heavy with distress over the shadowed soul, pulled him toward the castle and deeper into Fate’s Weave.

    Not one hundred yards from the double gates, something brushes against the priest’s armor. He barely noticed the motion until a small voice pleaded, “Wait! Wait!” The cleric stopped and turned.

    A small half-orc girl, dressed in naught but filthy rags, clenched tightly to his chainmail. Tiny, yellowed tusks broke the jagged surface of her oversized lips. “Please, wait.”

    Cassock knelt and stared at the child. “And what I can I do for you child?”

    “I…” she stammered. “I knew Ariel. She was nice. She was eleven.” A big twisted grin spread across her craggy lips. The girl leaned in closer and whispered, “We was friends. She did’n care that I was,” her eyes darted toward the ground awkwardly. “Ugly.” The word was harsh; full of steel. She raised her sloping brow and stared the priest down. Small beads of pain filled her eyes; one or two silently darted down her face and to the earth. “I liked her pointy ears. Please, sir. Bring her back.” Before Cassock could even respond, the half-breed twirled into the shadows of a building and disappeared. Cassock of Cael resumed his march into the keep.

    As the distance between the priest and the keep disappeared, so to the mass of townsfolk faded in the night. Those without homes moved toward the old tavern for an emotion-numbing drink. Those full of exhaustion moved to the keep, following the priest. An order had been issued immediately following the attack. All townsfolk were to reside within the walls of the keep until such a time as their protection could be assured outside the walls.

    Cassock eagerly devoured the details of the stone fortress. The layout would probably serve useful in the future. The towering stone walls reached nearly fifty feet into the air, odd for a town so small in number. The only entrance to the residences and taverns was a set of fifteen foot wide solid oak doors. These doors were easily a foot in thickness and twenty feet in height. The portcullis was only half lowered. Gleaming, black iron reinforced by steel was shaped into that protective skeleton. Not a sign of dirt or mud rested on its limbs. This fortress was quite new.

    Along the inner walls, stone buildings grew like jungle vines amongst tree branches. These buildings were squat and gray with few windows for lighting. Not even one of the buildings stretched more than thirty feet from the wall, allowing an open courtyard of near one hundred and forty feet. It was in this courtyard that masses of the townsfolk huddled near small campfires. A heavy scent of alcohol and roasted venison filled the courtyard.

    Another wall split the massive courtyard in twain, leaving it in sections of two hundred foot length. This wall seemed at least as thick as the exterior walls, twenty to thirty feet of stone. There was another oversized doorway arcing above the path and into the second half of the courtyard.

    Cassock noted a pair of heavily armed militiamen standing against the wall and headed forward for further direction to the mayor. Before Cassock made it to the guards, a man in shining platemail stomped into the courtyard. Strapped to his side, an oversized sword nearly dug a channel in the earth. The sword, like the mail, was extraordinarily polished to a perfect mirror surface. Around the soldier’s neck dangled a black emblem, that of the Captain of the Guard.

    “LOOK, old man! I don’t like it anymore than you! But the law is the law. Now people have died. The Royal army needs to be notified of these events.” The Captain’s arms folded condescendingly across the front of his blinding armor.

    “Boy, I will not have the Royal Inquisitors stirring up trouble in my town.” An elderly gentleman followed the Captain into the yard. The man’s deep brown hair had grayed and thinned with age. His skin was nearly taut, pulled across his wiry and tall frame. “YOU don’t know what it is you are suggesting. I was here the last time they were here. You weren’t even a twinkle in your father’s eye. And if he were still among us, he would know better! Have you forgotten the histories? I thought I educated you better.” The gentleman sighed, straightening the ruffled noble cloth that draped from his body. Patches littered the canvas of cloth, leaving the minor noble looking unkempt and exhausted.

    The Captain spun at the mayor. “Aye, I remember the tales. Stories to frighten children. Stories that sow discordant seeds between the people and our rightful ruler. Stories and nothing more!”

    Cassock stepped diplomatically in between the two men, eliciting glares from each. Under his breath, the elder murmured, “Strange night for so many visitors.”

    “Good sirs, mayhaps I can be of some service to you. I will need some details, but…”

    The Captain cut the cleric off with a dismissing wave of his hand, “And how exactly do you think you can help?”

    Cassock cleared his throat, subduing the anger brewing within. “Inquisitors here would be a terrible move for either of you. If the Royal Army had to be summoned, it could spread rumors of your inability to control your keep and your own lands. I suggest a small group go in search of the child. And I volunteer openly for the task. But, I will require some details as well as access to the prisoners.”

    “Ah,” the Captain sighed. “Just another man interested in seeing the freaks.”

    Cassock turned his cool glare toward the Captain. “You, good sir, should listen to your elders when they speak. Their wisdom will save you more than your own blade. But you’re right the law is that the Royals should be requested. Within the letter of the law though it does not state a period of time within which this contact should be established. Gather a group, send them for information and then at least you will know what the Royals will have to face. Do NOT waste the King’s money by summoning trained soldiers before all the facts are held.

    “You would also do well to remember Captain that they may be stories. But they are also history. They are told so that the children will not forget the past. The children must not make the same mistakes. How many people in this town died with the last arrival of the Inquisition? Thirty? Forty? One hundred? You would risk the lives of your people for a cause you know nothing about?” Cassock clenched his jaw firmly, strangling the remaining bitter words into silence. The Captain’s face flushed as he turned and stormed from the courtyard.

    Cassock pivoted toward the Mayor and takes one step backward. “Full of ignorance that one.”

    “Captain Leiban has a good heart, stranger. I’m just not sure he recognizes that facet anymore.” The Mayor measured the visitor, watching the light reflect off the alternating black and red mail. “I am Gabe Rowen, the Mayor of this small town. If you wouldn’t mind, join me for a drink and we can discuss your ideas.” The Mayor waved toward the doorway the guards were positioned near and allowed the cleric to follow him indoors.

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

    Leiban Malabrandt, the Captain of the Guard, stormed out the western gates of the keep. His men had tried to grab his attention, but feeling his seething rage about to explode, the Captain ignored them. In the back of his awareness he heard the clank of the portcullis shutting. The guards were still positioned at that gate in the event of any more travelers.

    The Capitan walked westward. The early fall breeze whistled through the wheat, soothing his hatred. He stretched his arms outward, letting the dancing plants tickle his palms. Upward his vision stretched, counting and naming the stars he had forever known in this town, his home.

    A snapping twig brought him back to consciousness. His sword flashed outward toward the noise, a robed hand blocked the blade.

    “Careful, young Master. You still have use for me and my talents.” The voice was nothing more than a whisper, but Leiban knew it well. He sheathed the blade.

    “What are you doing out here?”

    “I could ask the same of you, but I think I know. The Mayor has chosen, once again in his infinite wisdom, to disregard the law. This has angered you.” The cloaked figure stalked around the Captain. He pulled directly up to the front of the youth. “I know you well Leiban. I know the Mayor well.”

    “You’re right. You’re always right…”

    “Shhh.” The man raised a hand to his hidden lips. “Do not speak my name out here please, just in case. I believe we have a visitor, do we not?”

    “Yes. Some fool traveler broke into my discussion with the Mayor. Arrogant bastard.”

    “He is. But he is more than that. This man follows the Old Faith. He follows an untrue God. And now if the Mayor assists this man…”

    “It is further reason for the mayor to be deposed.” Leiban finished. His anger had all but vanished.

    “Exactly. I take it you fulfilled my request?” The cloaked man slipped past the Capitan.

    “Yes. The messenger was dispatched some time ago with your letter.”

    “Good. That is what I like to hear. I will be meeting with T. later tonight. Keep your eyes on the traveler if you can. One way or another, I think I’ll have to take care of him.”

    “Of course.” Leiban turned to his friend, but found nothing but the softly shifting blades of wheat.

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

    Fifteen more minutes of peace passed outside the gates of the town before Leiban was again drawn from his reverie. The steady plodding of hooves drifted toward him. He drew his blade again as a lone traveler rode over the crest of the western hill.

    A billowing cloak streamed from behind the traveler as it began the descent down the hill. Leiban waved his sword above his head, reflecting the torchlight into the distance. Surprisingly, the horse slowed its progress and brought its rider slowly toward the Captain.

    “Halt. Who approaches?!” Leiban stuck his jaw outward. His body prepared for the worst, inflating itself to intimidate.

    “Come now, Leiban.” A soft, melodic voice drifted from the hooded traveler. “Surely, after all these years you have not forgotten me.” The hood was thrown back, revealing a mass of wavy, deep brown hair. From behind the sensual locks, two bright brown eyes stared at the Capitan.

    “Lady Rowen.” The Captain moved to his knees and bowed his head in respect. Then he stood and extended a hand, helping the lady dismount.

    “Please, Leiban. You know I never enjoyed being addressed in that fashion.” She allowed Malabrandt to assist in her dismount.

    “Of course, Lady Anastrianna…I mean Ana.” Leiban smiled awkwardly.

    “I see you have taken over as the Captain of the Guard. How is your father?” Ana unlatched her belongings from the steed.

    “He passed away last year. The fever took him in the winter months.” A touch of sadness echoed in Leiban’s words.

    “I am sorry to hear about your loss, dear Leiban. What of this?” Ana threw her hand haphazardly toward the keep.

    “Ah. Mayor Rowen decided the town needed better defenses. He commissioned the building of this fortress. It has been some time since you were here, Ana. Would you like me to show you around? Much has changed in the last several years.”

    “No Leiban that won’t be necessary. I do need to see my father, though. Could you take me to him?” Ana smiled, her expression further enhancing the beauty of her face.

    “Of course. Follow me, Lady.” Leiban turned a similar grin spreading over his own face. Soon, the Captain would be Mayor. On top of that delicious fact, the unrequited love of his youth just happened to return. This week just can’t get any better, the Captain thought as he ordered the portcullis to be raised.

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

    Note: Ok, not sure if I mentioned this before. The suffix –iban is attached to males that share the same name as their father. The suffix –anda is attached to females that share the same name as their mother. So, Leiban is the son of Leo Malabrandt. Only one note this time, wow.
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  • #42
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    Good job.

    Another well done job.
    I will forgive the shortness of it, since we did game last night as well.

    I had forgotten how rude I was to the poor chap until I read this, and then reread my notes.
    Cassock was a little on edge at this point, after the seeing of the souls, and that mixed with his open disdain of the Ara'Kull Priest.
    O well I may be wise but no one said he was the smartest.
    Bill
    The Yeti aka Magnus the Archmage
    ~"Henry Bowman lives within each and everyone of us, and it's time to start acting like it. "
    A Story Hour set in Valus by Funeris
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=97346

    Funeris's Second Story Hour (where he is the DM).
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=130328

    My Story Hour Set in Valus 20 years after Funeris's Valus SH.
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=133211

    Bryon_Soulweaver - "Stupid nobles, hope Mangus blasts them (and I woundn't doubt if he could)."

  • #43
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    Ha! Shortness. whatever. If you wanna see short, look at your own SH thread.
    And poor chap? Funny you speak of him like that after the fact. Although I guess, in his own way, Leiban is a bit of a tragic character. He has that whole unrequited love thing going and he believes strongly and firmly in the government...even if its tyrannical. All he truly wants is for everyone to follow the letter of the law even if its not logical (or pleasant etc.). Reminds me of a thread I was recently on. Hmmm....

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  • #44
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    Yes you did step on yourself in that one,
    even though I do agree with you.
    You know they are still arguing it over there. Just because two of them can't stand to be "wrong" (as in intent of RAW not letter of RAW).

    Yes my lame SH is short.
    Yes I have many pages that you have seen handwritten.
    Yes I'm too lazy.
    Yes I know, I know.

    Now as far as Lebiban is concerned, Cassock just thinks he is a pompus ass who inherited his title vice earning it.
    Bill
    The Yeti aka Magnus the Archmage
    ~"Henry Bowman lives within each and everyone of us, and it's time to start acting like it. "
    A Story Hour set in Valus by Funeris
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=97346

    Funeris's Second Story Hour (where he is the DM).
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=130328

    My Story Hour Set in Valus 20 years after Funeris's Valus SH.
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=133211

    Bryon_Soulweaver - "Stupid nobles, hope Mangus blasts them (and I woundn't doubt if he could)."

  • #45
    Hey Funeris,

    nice one. Well worth the update delay. Are you planning on letting us readers stew again for a week or two? Or could ya' post up quicker this time?

    I loved the description of the castle, but one thing kept stabbing at my mind as I read through it. The visual image was great, but when details of a building are explained in dimensions (30 feet by 40, for example)... it throws me out. I know it's a legacy from our game being based that way, but I don't know if it should translate into SH's.

    Strike me down if you think otherwise, but those sort of descriptions probably count as a niggling injury for me.

    Ooops. Sorry to hijack your thread.

    Other than that, I really enjoyed the update. Awaiting the next with eager eyes.

    Spider J
    The CR-never-applies Story Hour A Chronicle of Ice, Luck and Honour continues with Chapter 13: Stairway to Heaven Updated 19th December.

  • #46
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    Hey SJ, glad to see you're still around. As much as the Rat-bastard-liness wants me to make you all stew, I'm not sure that I will. I want to be you when I grow up...posting every day or two (usually) . Alas, real-life and my at home internet connection are trying to spoil yours and my dream. I need to call my ISP and get the internet problems straightened out...

    That being said, my notes are on my home PC so...I should be able to get a couple updates written (even if I can't post them).

    As for the castle, I have it a bit worse than most DMs I fear...I actually design everything using Autocad....and then plot it for my players to play upon (instead of using a battlemat). I'll try not to describe using actual measurements...but often they're so ingrained in my head that they're hard to seperate. Again, I'll try not to..but if one or two slips in, my apologies.

    Hijack away...you never know, it may draw more people in...and I'm always hungry for new readers.
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  • #47
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    I love playing with his plotted out maps.

    It speeds up our game considerably.
    Unroll, a little masking tape, done. All to proper scale with grid lines.

    And I do believe that little half-orc girl was much uglier than that. Though Cassock did accept her quest.
    Bill
    The Yeti aka Magnus the Archmage
    ~"Henry Bowman lives within each and everyone of us, and it's time to start acting like it. "
    A Story Hour set in Valus by Funeris
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=97346

    Funeris's Second Story Hour (where he is the DM).
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=130328

    My Story Hour Set in Valus 20 years after Funeris's Valus SH.
    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=133211

    Bryon_Soulweaver - "Stupid nobles, hope Mangus blasts them (and I woundn't doubt if he could)."

  • #48
    Excellent! First post in and I'm hooked. Keep it coming...

  • #49
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    Okay folks. There is some grittiness coming up in this next update which isn't too terribly long. I feel...slightly disgusted with it...not cuz it's bad writing (which it may or may not be)...but because...well you'll see. Again, if you're not of strong stomach or you are opposed to having to deal with topics such as rape, crazed religious fanatics, gritty and horrific murders, etc. etc. etc. you don't need to be in this thread. As another note...I realize that typing etc. three times in a row is redundant. But I like the way it sounds when I think it so :P.

    That moment of levity probably blew my abbreviated disclaimer out of the water. I say again: I don't write for children. I don't write for teens. I write for adults.

    And for those of you stopping in who haven't heard of Spider_Jerusalem or Ragboy, I believe you're all missing out on some excellent work (hi Ragboy! Thanks for coming). They're both great writers...so get over there. After you finish my update of course

    Enjoy.
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  • #50
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    Chapter 1: Fate's Weave Continued

    Gabrielle huddled in the corner of the damp cell she occupied. Outside the barred door, her gear lay unceremoniously next to Aramil’s, along with her clothing. Fresh welts stung painfully, allowing the past hours of torture to be unforgotten. Blood had long congealed along her wounds. She was sure she’d die from some infectious disease.

    Thankfully, the violators-dressed-as-guards had unbound her from the heavy wooden barrel after their…administrations. She shuddered uncontrollably. A feeling of nausea swept through her body and she clutched herself closely. Anything to keep warm, she thought as she groped tighter.

    Gabrielle had never known such pain. She had been warned. Her protector, the only father she had ever known, had warned her of men. Hargos had rescued Gabrielle from her halfling birthright. Born secretly in a pen somewhere in the orc-blasted territory to the northwest, Gabrielle was shuttled away into the forest by the woodsman. Hargos himself was only half-human, just like Aramil. And Hargos had taken to surviving in the forest by himself with only a lute as company.

    Hargos had been her father. At least he was, until a band of human soldiers came along and ruined her life.

    Gabrielle could almost remember that day perfectly despite or maybe because of her current pain. She had awoken to the beautiful sounds of birds chirping happily in the woods. Hargos was supposed to give her another lesson with the lute. But the birds erupted from the trees, leaving an eerie silence. The half-elf left Gabrielle in the hut to investigate.

    The sound of the birds was soon replaced with the sound of steel carrying soldiers. Gabrielle did as Hargos had instructed her, grabbing all her gear and fleeing. She had taken Hargos’ lute as well, so she could continue the lessons when they met again. That day never came.

    After waiting for more than a month for Hargos, Gabrielle left broken-hearted to head toward the free state of Aedil. “It was the only place she would ever be safe,” Hargos had claimed. So Gabrielle fled.

    It was a long journey for a long time. The harshness of reality had left the halfling struggling for food and shelter, until she had met Aramil. Then life had been easier again. She could practice on the lute when Aramil wasn’t grumpy. And she could tell him wonderful tales about Hargos, although more often then not they both avoided speaking of their pasts. Now, they were both trapped in an unrelenting hell of abuse.

    Captain Lockhart, she thought was his name, had argued with the other guards about their mistreatment. The other guards wouldn’t listen though. Even the mayor had ordered the pair’s clothes given back and abuse ceased. But once he was gone, the guards resumed their fun.

    Men are evil.

    A resounding thud echoed from the cell next to Gabrielle’s. Aramil was still moaning in pain. She knew that moan well after a day in this hell. His mouth had been gagged, much as her own. She was pretty sure he had his own barrel, his own bonds. Thankfully a thin stone wall separated the cells so she would not have to relive her own experiences.

    If only I could reach the lute, she thought. Its not that far…and I could soothe Aramil’s and my own pain. Or maybe a weapon. Aramil’s blade isn’t so far. I should be able to reach it, solidifying her own confidence, the halfing moved toward the edge of her cell. She pressed her face against the cold, iron bars and glanced down the hallway. Still there was only one guard in the dungeon. And he was preoccupied. Gabrielle stretched her arm out.

    Another sharp crack split the air. Before Gabrielle could react, the guard stepped out of the adjoining cell and spied the halfling’s arm reaching toward the blade. He grunted, shifting his slimy bulk toward her. He stopped adjusting his belt and uniform.

    Gabrielle retracted her arm in a flash and slid backward from the door. The guard grunted again, while slamming Aramil’s cell door. One final half-conscious moan escaped before a painful silence settled in the dungeon.

    The evil man fumbled with his keys momentarily. He glanced upward, a malicious gleam in his eyes. “Want som’in hard to hold, do ye? I got som’in for you. Som’in your freak beau coul’nt handle.” The key shifted metallically in the lock until a tiny click signaled the opening of a mechanism.

    Gabrielle prayed to every god and goddess she had ever heard named for courage.

    The door swung open.

    The halfling prayed to Hargos for speed.

    The guard stepped in and reached to close the door.

    Gabrielle made one last fleeting prayer to Phoee, the mother of all the gods, for strength. She charged the iniquitous fiend.

    The cell door slammed shut as the man raised one booted foot to Gabrielle’s face. Gabrielle stumbled backward from the impact, crashing into the stone wall behind. Warm vitae spilled down the bard’s face, from her shattered teeth.

    “I likes ‘em frisky. Jus’ like yer boyfriend.” The voice was distant. Unconsciousness stretched reality. Before the halfling entered its cool embrace completely, she felt one fat, grubby hand slide up her nude torso.
    Last edited by Funeris; Wednesday, 20th July, 2005 at 06:16 AM. Reason: added some emphasis, corrected two words...unusal perfectionist stuff :D
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