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post #281 of 287 (permalink) Old 02-14-13, 04:23 AM
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As the air carriage travelled on to there destination, Eldur tried to relax, tried to get a little sleep or maybe just meditate. But thoughts on what was happening, was going to happen, simply didn't allow him the rest, than he surely would miss in the future. Thoughts on what had happened, what was happening and what might happen.

A viceroy hive in strength closer to there lands than it had been in centuries. And the Tashiri had been forced to send in many young and inexperienced warriors, like those that was in this carriage. Something that had cost lives, thou Eldur suspected had they send in an army with Tashiri of Nesrin's abilities, that would still have cost lives.

The training, Nesrin had worked extremely hard to train this Qalm into a fighting unit. Not that every Qalm wouldn't go through that kind of training. Somehow Eldur had this feeling that Nesrin had been slightly overzealous about it all, Eldur had not questioned it at the time since he had been exhausted from the constant training, and he wasn't questioning it now, as he sat in the air carriage, on his way to war. Which was what Eldur's kept going back to.

War!

There hadn't been anything that could be called war in the fortress countries in centuries. Not to Eldur's knowledge, and here he was heading for one. Eldur had not felt so little in control of his life and events, as he did now. But still somehow he was relatively calm, he was flying with his qalm his family. He would fight for them as he knew they would fight for him. And together they would protect the realm of the wood elves.

Eldur had long hoped to have the chance to see the massive forest of the woodland realm of Caratad, and now he was going to be fighting in it. How would the forest react to his fiery powers, which he had only released on open plains and deserts, inside the vicery hive and training halls. Never in the foliage of and old ancient forest. Which suddenly was there, as Eldur absentmindedly looked out. The massive wild land of the wood elves, simply appeared, no forewarning of moving towards a forest, no light concentration of trees. It was simply now they were in Caratad a wildland of a forest.

Somehow it helped Eldur to focus, getting his mind ready for battle. They were close, soon they would touch down, and together with all the other qalms and the wood elves they would drive the invaders out of the forest. But before Eldur could ask anyone if they knew how long the flight would go on, pain, surprise and disorientation went through the bond.
Split second later the carriage was hit by a massive ballista bolt, which almost took the head of sven. Eldur grapped his spear, thou there was not much he could do in here, trapped in the carriage in the air. He heard Nesrin order them all to the ground, moments later the carriage was quickly moving to the ground, Eldur could see the flying members of the Qalm racing down towards a flaming projectile.

Eldur opened the door in the carriage as they got closer to the ground, so they all could exit quickly upon landing, the enemy would not take them by another surprise. Which also gave Eldur a clearer view, a view of moving treetops, telling something about the enemy they were to face. It was clear they were fast and skilled treeclimbers, and it was quite possible the fight would be on there terms, since the enemy in a way could claim higher ground.
But Eldur had fire at his disposal and was allready going through his options, if they really needed something to keep them safe. Setting treetops on fire, even starting a forest fire, to keep the enemy at bay. Eldur hoped they could do with less.

As the carriage was a few feet above ground, Eldur jumped out, to allow for quicker exit of the others. Eldur held his spear at the ready, slowly heating up his spear, so he would not give too much away about his powers to the enemy, not before he skewered one at least. Aalrik suddenly shouted north east, and as Eldur turned to his warning he saw an arrow disappear into the forest canoply soon after followed by a scream. Which was soon replaced by the howls of the enemy. Eldur kept his eyes on the trees, as he slowly moved to what would make the qalms formation right flank.

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post #282 of 287 (permalink) Old 02-16-13, 02:59 AM
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The carriage ride proved uneventful for a time, the plains of Borkan beautiful to the eye. The lack of any discernible points of navigation gave Sven pause, the only indication of movement being the sound air rushing past and the occasional cloud formation. Such a glorious sight, after the time spent inside the training halls. Sven was odd in this respect, for though he was of clan-Ironson, he enjoyed all of nature's beauty not solely the solidity of rock.

Resting his head back against the carriage seat, Sven opened a small pouch and withdrew a handful of cured meat and nuts. Taking a hunk out of the meat, Sven couldn't help but feel somewhat bored. It was more a feeling of anxiousness for the upcoming battle he told himself, but he was still trying to deal with the thoughts of what lay ahead. He had never seen a Taroug in the flesh, but had heard tales of their ferocity. Patting Avalanche, Sven chuckled at the thought of how many he would slay when they touched down.

After a time Sven gazed back out the window, and to his dismay the terrain had taken on a twisted nature. They had passed into Caratad, the wilds easy to see. Whereas there should have been beautiful evergreens, the trees had become twisted, unnatural. Whatever had roused the Taroug likely was behind this foul work.

Sven hadn't time to continue with his thought as something flashed across the bond. A ballista bolt, the head of which was as wide as Sven, had plunged through the carriage bulkhead, not a hand's width above Sven's head. Blood and wood splinters showered Sven, who had already jumped instinctively across the carriage. "To the ground my warriors! Tashiri Aria converge there!" Nesrin was shouting orders, sending the warrior contingent to ground as fast as possible. Sven's thoughts rushed, but he remembered his training. A ball of flame streaked past the carriage, which was making best speed to the ground. Sven's thoughts rushed ahead, looking out the window at the fast-approaching ground, looking for any defensible positions or stone outcroppings at what he assumed was their landing zone.

The carriage landing was not soft, but as they say any landing you walk away from is a good one. Sven smiled at the thought as he rolled out of the carriage, brandishing Avalanche in a defensive stance, ready for what he assumed would be a massed rush of slavering beasts. The worst case scenario was what Sven had mentally prepared for, and it seemed he would see it play out as Aalril had already knocked an arrow. "To the northeast!" his friend shouted, loosing an arrow into the bush as the words left his lips. A howl of pain rang out, followed by a cacophony of beast-noise.

This was it, a sea of his enemies to be slain for the evil they were. Rushing to Aalrik's side, Sven asked, "How many can you see? Or was that blind fire?" The elf responded, and Sven girded himself for the melee to come. Reaching out through the earth, he called to Asher, the granite bear breaching the ground nearby as if it were water. There are many. Should I attack? "No, Asher, wait. We fight as a team, we must wait for Nesrin's orders."

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post #283 of 287 (permalink) Old 02-23-13, 02:34 PM
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Gandogar wasn’t enjoying the flight in the air carriage; it was so far from his beloved ground and the air was thinner than he would have liked. Nevertheless, he maintained a calm composure and repetitively used his whetstone on the broad blades of his axe and occasionally running a thick, calloused thumb down it to test the sharpness. Strings of muttered words, undecipherable even to himself, poured from his mouth and were muted slightly by his intricately cared-for beard as he did so. The sound helped him relax, but not as much as the presence of Torag, who still lay at his feet, head rested on his forepaws. His eyes were slightly dimmed and he hadn’t moved an inch since the air carriage took to the air, but the dwarf felt his presence and knew he was as alert as ever.

A sigh passed his lips and his thoughts started to run rampant immediately; too much was happening, too soon, to be a coincident. He looked at the members of the Qalm in the carriage and felt his chest constrict. Despite all of the odds, these people were his friends - no, more, his family. Closer than the members of his clan. They fought together. And they fought well. He looked out of the carriage, leaving his axe leaning against his legs as he rubbed his temples. Borkan far beneath was like an ocean of crops, and he quickly looked away. At this height, the thought of food was making him feel queasy. But in the corner of his eye, he saw the drastic change as they left Borkan, and entered Caratad. The wilds were untamed, and ... Malevolent. He narrowed his eyes again; something foul was marching, something powerful. His mind turned to dark thoughts again and he felt a spark of feeling from Nesrin; powerful disgust and a hint of surprise that made the lead in his stomach return.

He returned to his task for a moment, hoping to soothe himself with a familiar task, but his mind wouldn’t be settled, so he leant his axe against the side of the carriage and ran a hand down the manifest Fury’s back, eliciting a torrent of cracking sounds as the obsidian broke apart when Torag shivered. Gandogar smiled slightly, minutely more content than he had been a minute before. And then the world tore apart in pain, fire burning through the Bond and exploding behind his eyes in an orchestra of pain, before stopping, as if a bucket of freezing water had been poured over it. He took a deep breath and looked around, seeing that the others had felt it too - ‘It would have been impossible for them not to!’ he told himself sternly - as he snatched up his axe and stood, attempting to look out of the carriage and find the reason for the sudden feeling. Torag was on his feet, circling Gandogar and growling deep in his throat, a rumbling sound that could have terrified an ox. His eyes were ablaze and his obsidian coat cracked along ‘fault lines’ to reveal magma bubbling and spitting angrily.

The dwarf of Tri-Kazelim couldn’t see much out of the carriage, but he heard the ballista bolt shattering the wall, the head covered in viscous red blood. He scowled at it, before almost being thrown off his feet, using Torag for stability as the air carriage rocked.

“To the ground my warriors! Tashira Aria converge there!” A blinding light followed and Gandogar, powerless against a foe he couldn’t see, drew furies too him and lightly harnessed their power, so he could call on it at a moment’s notice, and looked out of the carriage to witness fire flying towards the ground beneath him. ‘Where in the hells are we?’ he asked himself.

He cursed himself as a fool and turned his attention elsewhere. What did their precise location matter when they had to fight for their lives first? The northeast. ‘Are those trees moving naturally? No ... What is it? How many?’ he narrowed his eyes, and hefted his axe.

“To the northeast!” he heard from Aalrik and the faint thwack of a bow string being fired, and the whistle of an arrow momentarily, before a howl tore through his mind, followed quickly by more. He loosened the knife he had sheathed at his hip and took a deep breath. ‘Soon.’ He rubbed a tattoo across his left forearm - three wolves intertwined - and fastened his helmet onto his head, cracking his neck as he did so.

“Qalm ... We fight together, yes? Fighting alone is death. Together ... Is life/” He felt his heart rate settle as he looked around at his adoptive family. He trusted them implicitly. He only hoped he was right too.

Malochai von Carstein; Terror of Hunger Wood, Lord of Lichenhof Tower

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Darkness - Traditional: Glaïmbar Bokkadsson
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post #284 of 287 (permalink) Old 03-05-13, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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All: As Nesrin touches down in the middle of the Qalm, you all hear bonechilling howls eminate from the dense woodland around you. Aalrik, whose bow has not stopped humming since his feet left the air carriage, each shaft that streaks into the woodland bringing an abrupt howl of pain, and Fae'en share a look. Aalrik hastily stows his bow and the two wood elves, eyes closed in concentration raise their hands palms out stretched to the woodlands. Nesrin smiles, a knowing smile, and turns, facing the woods behind the two elves. A thrumming noise starts deep in the earth, as if something ancient and massive has awoken, the noise reverberates around the clearing as the trees, the mighty oaks and maples that ring the small open space suddenly spring into motion. Branches whip forward and suddenly the woods around you is full of the sound of screams, bestial and feral.

It is shortly after this that the first of the Taroug make their way out of the sentient woodland, battered and brusied they come, but with you in their sights a mad hunger takes them, and the charge into battle.

Eldur (Anilar):
You find yourself back to back with Sol, his hands wreathed in flame, a gale of wind swirling around his feet. He smiles and the two of you rush into combat side by side, the heat of your combined fires causing even the battle mad Taroug to flinch before approaching. You and Sol are able to kill a combined total of 8 wolfmen. 6 of your opponents are armed with pairs of long curved knives, two of them, the two that are the most berserk come at you with claws and fangs. Eldur you take a minor wound to your right hand, a gash across the back of your knuckles as one of the knife wielding wolfmen tries to disarm you. Sol also takes a minor wound across the left shoulder. [Anilar I am giving you control of Sol for this post. Take a quick moment to give a quick read to Angel of Blood's character sheet to get a feel for him. If you have any questions get with me either via PM or over MSN.]

Gandogar (Malochai): Darruk rushes by you, eager to get into the fight with the approaching beasts, a small smile on his usually dour face now that fighting has started. He rushes in with a combination of earth and fire, weilded seemlessly together in a dance of absolute fury. His skill has renewed your appreciation for your deep dwelling cousin's skill at arms. Between the two of you, you are able to take down 10 of the Taroug. Unlike the ones that come against Eldur and Sol, these beasts are all cunning, agile, and in control of their formidable strenght and speed. They all wield dual knives. You take a shallow stab wound to your leg, just above your right knee. [As with Anilar I am giving you control of Daruk for the purpose of this update. Take a look at Deathbringers character sheet to familiarize yourself with the character. If you have any questions get with me.]

Therizza: You find yourself, back to back with your great fury Asher, your companions giving you wide berth on the ground. The Taroug are not stupid though, after the first 2 or three of their companions are crushed by your earth fury craft, they play hard to get, darting in and out with a speed that is hard for you to counter. Fortunately Isira and Adam come to assist, darting in and out above the ground harassing another group of 8 Taroug into range of your brutal attacks and Asher's formidable claws. Isira will take out 2, Adam 2 as well, leaving four for you to deal with as the two Tashiri Aria force the Taroug off balance into your clutches. You will come off unscathed, thanks to your use of Stoneform, but Adam will take a pretty good gash across the lower calf, and Isira will have been pulled out of the air before you can kill her assailant. [As with the others you have control of Adam and Isira for the purposes of this update. Work in conjunction with them to take out your opponents. Questions get with me.]


Zacarish (Santaire) & Robb (Lord Ramo): You find yourself to the right of the two wood walkers, their sentient trees doing quite a bit to not only damage the approaching packs of Taroug, but to demoralize them. You rush forward, a whirlwind of steel and air and find that you are flanked by Robb, the expert swordsman adding his his strength and devastating power to your speed and agility. Work in tandem with Robb to take out a total of 9 Taroug. Robb comes away unscathed by virtue of his heavy armor and your speed brings you safely through, a minor bruise starting to blossom over your right eye from an errant wolfman fist.

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post #285 of 287 (permalink) Old 03-05-13, 07:05 PM
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Gandogar lifted his axe and rested it against his shoulder, holding onto the shaft with his right hand, glancing around to see if he could hear the source of the noises all around; the howls tried to tear at his nerves, but he steeled himself against it and drew strength from the presence of Torag, who was at his feet, growling constantly. He noticed Nesrin touch the ground in the centre of the Qalm, but he wasn’t the focus of the dwarf’s attention - he had been trained to pay attention to the threat facing him, and Nesrin wasn’t even talking. He heard the vibrations of Aalrik’s bow stop, and then a noise emanated from the earth, causing a flash of concern to cross the dwarf’s face. Gandogar took a deep breath and focussed on the furies about him, wondering if they would give him any indication of what it was. He shook his head and opened his eyes when Torag’s growl deepened.

The Taroug burst from the thick woodland, charging at the Qalm with a bestial rage and evil snarls rumbling in their throat. Gandogar was preparing to command the Furies he had drawn to himself, putting the perfectly balanced axe on the floor, and placing his roughly calloused hands plam down on the ground. And then Daruk streamed past him, like a charging bull, with his manifest fury at his heels, golden veins shining in his mane.

“Damnit,” he cursed, swearing unintelligibly and changing tactics, lifting a hand and slamming his palm back onto the ground. He focussed on the leading Taroug and narrowed his eyes. The ground around the legs of his chosen enemy rose up and appeared to grip the beasts legs. A scream pierced the air as it’s forward momentum caused its legs to snap. The noise was horrible, but cut off as Daruk’s double-headed axe decapitated the creature, knives falling from dead hands. With that, Gandogar stood and grabbed his axe, hefting it into both hands comfortably as he started to follow his fellow Walker towards their enemy, even as the diamantine teeth of Daruk’s manifest Fury tore another Taroug apart, limbs flying. Tarog had also reached the fray, and leapt forwards, crackling horrifically, front paws slamming home into a Taroug’s chest, knocking it to the ground.

The dog-shaped Fury then left the creature, moving on, and Gandogar stepped forward to decapitate it, axe easily slicing through skin and bone, before becoming embedded deep in the ground from the raw power behind the attack. He swore as he realised what he’d done, cursing his stupidity, and then spun when he felt a presence behind him, and smelt the raw, filthy stench of a lupine-esque creature dwelling outside without care for hygiene, drawing his short-bladed knife and stabbing out, aiming for an eye, but not finding his mark before the Taroug had thrust forward.

It was only the dwarf’s momentum that stopped the wound from being deeper, the jagged knife of the beast slicing through skin. He shouted, swearing wordlessly, and then called on the Furies and felt strength pour into his arms and shoulders. Placing a single hand on the haft of his axe, the dwarf wrenched it from the hard-packed earth and smiled grimly, facing the horde. Daruk was in the heart of a group of Taroug, several laying dead around him, one with a throwing axe in it’s head, which was cleaved nearly in twain from snout to the base of it's neck, and was leaking putrid brain matter on the woodland floor. The deep dwarf’s axe was coated in gore, and for a second, with Torag keeping his enemies occupied by leaping in and darting back, Gandogar had a second to grasp just how skilled the deep dwarf was. His muscles tensing and relaxing in perfect time so that his blows would not be compromised by them. The blows themselves placed perfectly to kill and maim grievously. It was only at the last second that Gandogar was torn from his inspection of Daruk and swept his axe into the path of a knife, which slammed into the broad head instead of the dwarf’s weapon, and the tremors ran up the startled Taroug's twisted arm. With no hesitation, Gandogar spun on the spot, gaining the momentum he needed to kill with his axe and more, the earth;s strength still infused in his body, and when the blade, needle-sharp from his obsessive use of the whet-stone, hit the Taroug’s side, it cut through fur, flesh and leather straps like a hot knife through butter, shattering bones to minute pieces. Blood pumped out of the wound, watering the ground. Not stopping to appraise his handiwork, or admire his strength - he had done so enough with his great-great-great uncle Glion, and knew what he was capable of. There was no point in standing about when there were foul creatures to kill. The first time he had crushed granite and feldspar, steel and other materials to dust, he had been astounded. He had caught a ghost of a smile on his uncle's mouth, but it had quickly disappeared and he was tasked with more difficult tests.

Suddenly, Daruk and his Fury were by Gandogar’s side, Torag leaping about and drawing away the attention of a number of Taroug. In unpracticed unison, working as a team, the two dwarves hacked and slashed, killing together. One fell to their combined axes, one from the front and the other from the back, axes simultaneously swinging from both left and right, the perfectly forged blades sinking deep into flesh and tearing muscles with the huge force put behind them. Another fell when Gandogar’s axe cleaved it from naval to neck after his 'cousin' had disarmed it skilfully, and the tenth when Daruk, using the throwing axe he had artfully recovered from the corpse, struck a Taroug in the fur of it's chest, matted with gore and faeces, broken only by the weathered leather straps. The limestone lion Fury leapt on it immediately, the diamond teeth tearing it's throat, and claws through thick skin, copper eyes flashing lifelessly.

Malochai von Carstein; Terror of Hunger Wood, Lord of Lichenhof Tower

Roleplay Characters
The Darkness - Conquest: Kerin-Curan
Darkness - Traditional: Glaïmbar Bokkadsson
Age of Dragons: Endras Amlugon

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post #286 of 287 (permalink) Old 03-19-13, 03:29 AM
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"To me, Asher!" The granite bear leapt from the earth as a whale breaches the ocean waves, its immense weight causing a palpable thud as it crashed to the ground beside Sven. The Tashiri were surrounded in the clearing, though at first the Taroug did not push their numerical advantage. "Beasts! To me! Feel the fury of the Earth!" With that bellowing roar Sven charged at an approaching Taroug warrior. As he sprinted forward, he summoned a step fashioned from stone, and launching himself into the air from it, brought down Avalanche in a earthfury-empowered double overhand stroke. The hammer disintegrated the beast's cranium and as Sven withdrew the weapon from its ruined face, the Taroug's blood spurted and bubbled past its still twitching tongue.

Another rushed to its aid, seeking to catch Sven unawares. If one could feel pity on the beasts, this one would be deserving, as a rage caked over Sven's soul as he swept the creature's legs from under it, bringing his stonefist down like a hammer to anvil on its ribcage. The fist rent clean through the animals chest, shattering its internal organ and ending it's bestial rage in an instant.

"This is too easy, Asher!" Sven yelled out as the granite bear finished ripping one of the wolf-things in two with its mighty jaw. The swarming beasts became wary of the Dwarf's mace, and began feinting on a side as another two would dart, daggers in hand. Sven did his best to parry what attacks he could until he called Asher into a defensive position.

Isira and Adam, seeing what was unfolding, came to their qualmmate's side. The slowly corralled a group towards the maw that was Sven and Asher, their scimitar and rapier working in unison to whittle the near score down to eight before they were in range of the earth wielder. As the group approached, Isira momentarily stunned a particularly large individual with a blast of wind as she proceeded to thrust her rapier deep into its chest. It's lifesblood gushing out, the beast never saw her backhanded slash, severing the animal's head cleanly. Adam, with a modicum less finesse, rushed a pair of Taroug from behind, using his inhuman speed to outflank them as Kike distracted the two with talon and claw. He dispatched one with a up-stroke of his scimitar, unzipping the beast's spinal column before leaping aloft to bring his blade crashing down in a diagonal cut, burying the blade between the neck and shoulder of the second. Blood spurting everywhere, it seemed Adam had overpowered the attack and his blade, lodged in the creature's spine, took a time to dislodge. A Taroug was keen to the assailant's apparent incapacitation and leapt at Adam from the side.

Nearby, Isira shouted a warning to Adam, who raised his arm in defense as his would be slayer fell upon him. Isira was there in a moment, running the animal through to the hilt, but Adam's leg had taken a bad wound and he was hobbled.

All the while, Sven and Asher were in the midst of the Taroug, rending flesh and breaking bone with every hit that connected. Jabbing one in the snout with the butt of Avalanche, Sven withdrew a throwing axe, hurling it at charging Taroug. The beast fell, axeblade buried to the hilt in its chest, a stunned look upon it's abhorrent visage. Asher dispatched the snout-stunned Taroug, leaping to grab the warrior before plunging into the earth with it firmly in his grasp. As the granite bear could meld into the ground, and the Taroug could not, very little was recognizable when the bear resurfaced.

Sven saw the last two of this group, larger and fiercer than the rest. "Aye, saving the best for last, are we?" He spat the words as he charged the two, tactics thrown out the window as he was gripped with a rage unseen. Loosing a throwing axe at one, Sven feinted at the warrior on the left, intending to hit his companion. But the Taroug were as fast as they were big, and, deflecting the axe with a twist of a dagger, the beasts tackled the Dwarf to the ground. In the melee, Sven lost grip of Avalanche. Knowing all well he had to call on his training, he summoned his stone form, and not a minute to soon as a blade bounced from his chest. Had he not the training from Nesrin, he surely would have perished there.

Summoning up his strength, he wrestled the two beasts, Asher roaring but not engaging, fearful of injuring the Dwarf. No matter, as Sven managed to kick one of the Taroug off, while sinking in a chokelock on the other. Gripping his Dwarven hands together, he squeezed as hard as he could, rolling as he did, until he heard the windpipe crush and the spine crack. The beast went limp in his grip.

Looking up he could see Isira harrying the remaining Taroug from the air, darting in and out, but to no avail. The mighty Taroug leapt at her, timing his flight just right to catch grab her in midair. "Help!" she let out in a panicked tone, and Sven felt her pain from across the bond before the sounds could register. Leaving Avalanche on the ground, there was no time for the weapon. Isira lay with the wind knocked out of her, the beast lording over his prey. Letting out a mighty yell, Sven charged the beast. It turned it's head just in time to receive a stonefist punch to the jaw. The beast's maw hung open, blood and spittle dribbling out. Sven had broken its jaw, enraging the animal thoroughly. "You would bring harm to me!" he yelled, bowling the Taroug over with a punch in the stomach. Ducking a horizontal slash of its dagger, he delivered another blow to its face. "You'd harm these lands!" he spat as he brought his two fists down in an overhand hammerfist. The beast was wobbling, sucking air and emitting what sounded like a whimper. "No longer! You're days are finished!" As he said the last words, he grasped the animal by the head, and summoning a stone spike from the ground, plunged the creatures head onto it.

Sven helped Isira to her feet and threw one of Adam's arms over his shoulder. Returning to Avalanche, he grasped the weapon in his free hand. The granite bear Asher watched their backs as they formed a defensive circle. Sven had not yet begun to fight.

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post #287 of 287 (permalink) Old 05-01-13, 06:27 PM
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As Zacarish flew with the ground passing beneath him he could not help but feel a sense of unease at the events that had taken place. Vicery in unprecedented numbers, Taroug besieging Caratad. Evil was stirring; he could feel it in his bones. The fact that this feeling was partly from the bond, even some of it from Nesrin himself did nothing for Zacarish’s confidence.

Below him the seas of grain rippled in the wind and the fields seemed to go on forever. The only difference in the otherwise blank landscape were the tiny farming buildings that came and passed below. It was difficult for Zacarish to stay focussed as the featureless landscape stretched ever onwards beneath him and he found his mind slipping into the monotony of constant flight. Though they had set out at dawn, it was midday when Zacarish woke himself from his stupor, but still the landscape had not changed.

Boredom set in; overcoming even the sense of dread that Zacarish had felt earlier. The Furies, that were more of a comfort to him than an army of 1000 warriors would be, coursed through his soul and filled him with energy and yet still he was lulled to a sense of complacency by the blank landscape. With nothing else to do, he reflected on his lessons, not those on the blade but those on the mind. His anger, his black rage that he feared so much. He wondered on the talks of people becoming hermits to conquer such a flaw, but he was not so selfish. As long as he was needed, he would fight and perhaps he would keep fighting when he was not. Perhaps he would become addicted to the bloodshed. He hoped Nesrin would kill him if that ever happened.

The change in the landscape was so abrupt, Zacarish did not even notice it until he had already crossed it. Zacarish had flown in that area during his training, but the change left him astonished. The conifers that once graved the land had been replaced with twisted and corrupt evergreens and Zacarish felt a mirror of his own disgust and honour from Nesrin, increasing his anxiety. What manner of power could twist the very land in such a way?

Zacarish’s contemplation ended a few moments later.

He was the rearguard, his eyes scanning the horizon and he saw the bolt coming for him. He threw a hand out to the right and blasted himself sideways, rolling in the air to dodge the incoming missile. He traced the path of the projectile back to the treetops.

He could see the movement in the trees, bounding from branch to branch after the air carriage.

He could feel the shock and anger from the rest of his Qalm and Nesrin’s voice screamed in his head, drawing his attention to a landing zone with a ball of flame. It was a clearing, ringed by mammoth Fir trees. Zacarish could see the movement in the trees, heading straight for the clearing. But far more important than that was the moment, just before he touched down, when he saw the beings springing through the trees, moving to ambush them. “Ready yourselves,” he called through the bond. “They’re surrounding us.”

As Nesrin touched down in the middle of our defensive ring howls echoed from the forest.

Aalrik fired arrows at the sources of the howls and they were cut off by yelps of pain. The Wood Elves, Aalrik and Fae’en, shared a look and both stretched their hands to the forest around them. Nesrin joined them with a knowing smile and the forest woke, its branches whipping and filling the wood with feral screams. The Taroug left the wood shortly afterward, bruised and battered but enraged and they charged.

Zacarish began to walk forwards towards the enraged but demoralized Taroug, not even drawing his sword. He called to the Furies, let them flow through him and the three disks of Caldrite rose around him, spinning faster and faster. He raised his left arm and the vambrace that protected it extended a whip. He span the whip and began to run for the Taroug. The first one charged head on to meet him and he raised his right hand, pulling it onto one of his shields with the Furies. The spinning disk of metal sliced its throat as if it were parchment and Zacarish hit it with a flying kick that sent it hurtling backwards and pulled the shield free with its force.

The next Taroug almost got a blow in but reacted with stunned surprise as its attack was knocked aside by a blur of metal and howled in agony as Zacarish thrust his sword through its chest, ripping the blade free in a spray of blood and twisting, falling to his knees, to bring it round at the knee level of the next Taroug to charge him. But this one was smarter than its predecessors and caught his blade with a knife large enough to be a sword. The vibration knocked Zacarish’s sword from his hands but he pressed his right hand to the Taroug’s right leg and sent a pulse of air from his palm, sending the Taroug flying as its leg was forced from under it. It fell and Zacarish caught it’s down coming body with an upwards slash of his whip. He sharpened the whip edge as he did so, something that was exceedingly difficult to do while in motion.

The metal wrapped around the Taroug’s neck and squeezed and Zacarish dived for his sword as the wolf man roared in pain. The Dark Elf came up with his sword swinging and sliced the Taroug in two from hip to shoulder.

A fist swung at him from the side and knocked him clean over. It would leave a bruise he knew, but he was more concerned about the fist’s owner who even now attempted to drive a dagger into his heart. He caught the blow with his sword and kicked upwards, between the Taroug’s legs. It doubled over in pain and Zacarish drove his sword into its heart, twisting the blade in the wound and rolling away.

He stood and wrenched his sword free, turning to face a Taroug. It threw itself at him, bearing him to the ground. He blasted it with a pulse of air that smashed its chest, but though it was flung off him it still climbed back to its feet with a rusty dagger in its right hand. I was nowhere near fast enough to avoid it, still dazed as I was. As it raised the dagger above me a length of shining, bloody steel erupted from its chest. Robb pushed it to its knees and ripped his sword free before pulling me to my feet.

We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment - and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.
— Flemeth

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
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