Dark Mirror (TS)
_In the not too distant past...
The mountains south of Cademia, west of Kosha:_
Lightning split the night sky casting eerie shadows among the towering mountain peaks and causing them to ring with the echoing roar of thunder.
As he staggered, slipping and sliding along the muddy ground, the man glanced through the blowing sheets of rain and up into the peaks.
It was hard to believe that he had made it down the treacherous slopes, especially in this weather . . . although he supposed that was the least of his worries.
Managing to clumsily regain his footing, he continued to slowly, awkwardly descending toward the ground below him.
Catching his foot on something on the ground, he slipped again and fell hard.
Momentarily winded, he looked about and spotted the object that had tripped him.
A flash of lightning revealed it: a young unicorn mutilated almost beyond recognition.
"This," the man rasped, "is not good."
Elsewhere in the same mountains..._
A small party of people trudged along the base of the slopes, which were lit beautifully by the high sun.
They were about a day out from Cademia where they had heard reports of strange animal mutilations occurring.
Puzzled by the seemingly indiscriminate nature of these slayings and with some hoping for a new adventure, they had decided to take some take and come investigate these incidents. At the least, it might help put the locals minds at ease.
Having gathered a few hardy adventurers and acquired supplies, they had set out at once, heading more or less straight toward the mountains before turning south to follow them to source of the macabre occurrences.
Selax and Wizard were both walking at the front of the group.
Casually, Wizard glanced behind him.
With some distaste, he noted Rapierian following along toward the rear of the adventurers.
Besides the necromancer, he also saw among the party...
Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree...
But then he realized that they were merely psychic feedback from letting his mind stray too close to Silverfish's.
Drawing near, Yomu was for some reason sprinting towards the others' location.
Wizard walked alongside Selax almost mechanically. In his mind, he was reliving the incident when they found the corpses of scores of ruffians that had been gruesomely murdered by Altérius. Of course, Altérius was dead and could clearly not be responsible for these latest atrocities, but Wizard was very concerned.
The sheer level of depravity and malevolence demonstrated by these acts did not bode well for Cythera. Where was this evil coming from? Perhaps the Undine were preparing an invasion. . . It could be anything. Whatever the case, Wizard did know one thing for certain: this was not nothing. They couldn't ignore it, and he couldn't help but feel that this was only the beginning.
Something was definitely very wrong.
This post has been edited by The Wizard : 30 May 2009 - 08:09 PM
Katerei trailed along toward the back of the party. She hadn't said a word since they set out, and looked a little dazed. Her hair was rumpled and her pale blue skin was significantly darker under her eyes. Katerei rubbed a hand across her eyes blearily and tried not to yawn.
After about an hour, the group noticed a collection of birds clustered around a grove of nearby trees. At about that moment, the smell of something long dead reached them.
Moving carefully forward, they entered the grove and found a small clearing. The birds scattered at their coming.
In the middle of the clearing, the remains of two harpies decayed.
It was apparent that the harpies had been dead for some days. Something had torn them apart and had then proceeded to quite gruesomely rearrange the remains.
For a moment, they were silent. Then, Rapierian yawned.
"Creative," he observed. "Shows potential anyway. Poor choice of subjects though. It'd be downright boring after the first two or three victims."
"I suppose you'd prefer people," Wizard said irritably, eying the necromancer with disdain.
"Oh sure! Animals can be fun, but people are much more entertaining!" Rapierian replied enthusiastically.
"I'm not surprised you'd enjoy this sort of thing," someone else muttered. "It looks like the sort of thing that you'd do yourself."
Rapierian laughed, while the rest of the group moved into the clearing to more closely examine the scene.
Yomu was the first to get a close look at the remains. He wasn't shocked by the scene; he was actually more familiar with it. Many times in the past he had taken marks that required the fetching of an animal part or the return of an ingested trinket. Though the difference in this case was the shear speed in which it had been carried out. Yomu took a step back from the beasts, "Hm. It's hard to tell what tore them up so bad, but whatever it was did it with great speed and power. Look at the way the two are laying," Yomu pointed out that they were laying on their backs, "looks like someone was was searching for something inside." He grabbed a nearby stick and slightly lifted one, "As I thought, there or no open wounds on the on their backs." He tossed the stick away and sighed.
Yomu took a moment to listen to what the others had to say, but was distracted by the scale of this possible search. If this really was a mark, he surely would have heard about it, and a slaughter of this magnitude would require more than just one man. "Just not enough." he mumbled to himself, thinking about what it could all mean.
This post has been edited by Two Jacks : 31 May 2009 - 06:17 PM
Inspite of being quite strong stomached in general, Silver began to feel rather warm, & a strong desire to nap in the cool shade just outside the clearing stole over him.
An hour earlier..
Radik kept wondering away from the party every once in a while, for a very brief time, and would return back to the group carrying an ever growing amount of sticks. He had been doing this since they left the walls of Cademia, and by now, had accumulated three bundles that hung on his back. "Oh... So that's who Alaric is..." said Radik with a slight puzzled look on his face. Sliver nodded a yes, and Radik went back to his stick hunting, with Silver sitting upon his shoulder.
Radik waited until Yomu had stepped away, then tapped Wizard on the shoulder and pointed to his head. "Just humor me for a moment.."
As Radik approached the corpses, he felt Wizard's presence in his mind. "Any of you that are squeamish shouldn't look over here for the next minute." He bent down, looking at the two bodies. They weren't killed by the same weapon... The flesh around this cut is jagged. Radik gestured to the harpy corpse on the right, and then to the left. While this one is clean... Same person, different weapons... He tapped a pool of blood with his finger, and observed the sticky liquid. They've been dead probably about a day, given the smell and blood.
Radik leaned forward and reached into the entrails of the harpy on the right, digging threw. Ah, here we go... He raised his bloody hand with a smile, then frowned. Nope, that's a kidney... I'm looking for the liver. A few bloody organ tossing filled moments later, Radik stood up and wiped his hands. He looked at the party with a smirk, "Okay, I have some good news and some bad news... Bad news is, the sun will be setting within an hour. Good news is, I have liquor and sticks to make a fire. There should be a cave just up that ridge, which should provide us cover from any overnight rain."
And the really bad news is, the harpy on the right was killed at least a day ago. The harpy on the left was killed anywhere from two to twelve hours ago, given the liquidity of the blood and the condition of rigor in the body. Both the hearts and livers are missing. I don't know who or what would want them.
A few members looked at Radik bewildered and slightly surprised. "What? Drinking isn't my only profession..." Radik said while uncorking his wine bottle from the Alraeican Tavern.
This post has been edited by Dark Jet : 01 June 2009 - 02:38 PM
(OoC) Bah. Short post. Out of practice. (/BiC)
Rapierian, although annoying, was uncharacteristically well-behaved thus far, which made Shanadar more uneasy than usual. Radik, likewise, showed an unusual aptitude for examining corpses; the Enforcer couldn't help but wonder quietly to himself where exactly the man had acquired such skills. Nevertheless, he'd shown some foresight in gathering kindling for a campfire, and Shanadar had to give the new guy credit for that.
Shanadar just hoped that they'd find what was causing these disturbances soon; preferably before Rapierian tried something 'funny' or that thrice-damned assassin struck again in his absence.
This post has been edited by ~vIsitor~ : 01 June 2009 - 09:12 PM
As the party began to move off in response to Radik's proposal, Silver silently followed, flitting from tree to tree at a slight distance from the main group.
Yomu turned to Radik, "I think I have an explanation: One harpy a day ago, and then another under half a day later? Perhaps the area with the dead harpies is a base of operations, and perhaps it is likely that the culprit might return again to it?"
They had arrived at the site and Radik set down his collected sticks, "Hm. I suppose it is a possibility. Though these killings have been happening all over haven't they? The killer could have already moved on by now."
By now the golden light of sunset was beginning to fade away. Yomu rebutted, "Yes but think, the killings were less than a day apart. If by the time the night is through, and another dead beast does not appear we'll know the killer has gone."
Shanadar grunted, "Well it's simple then, we'll just have someone keep watch over night." No one spoke up, Shanadar jumped slightly, "Hey, why are you all looking at me?!"
Katerei interupted Shanadar before he began listing his objections, "We can trade watches, so everyone can get some sleep. Besides, I think I'll be staying up tonight whether I like it or not."
Katerei sat at the mouth of the cave later that night, having agreed to take first watch. It had proved to be a nice place to camp. She wasn't sure how Radik knew it would be here, but she wasn't complaining. The cave was dry, relatively clean, and free of wildlife that might have taken up residence. She didn't expect to get much sleep and wouldn't have minded rain, but at least it would be warmer sleeping in the cave.
She shivered and pulled her cloak closer around her shoulders to keep out the night air. Whenever she lived alone in the forest, she slept in her wolf form, kept warm by the wolf's dense fur. She didn't know some of these people though and still felt awkward around them. Best not to draw too much attention to herself.
Now that everyone was asleep inside the cave, Katerei had time to think about what they'd discovered that day. The sight of the desecrated harpies almost made her sick to her stomach. She was no stranger to death, but this was just twisted. Despite her withdrawn manner, she had a soft spot for the vulnerables in the world, including children and animals, and to see a living creature killed in such a grotesque manner was appalling.
She hadn't known what the quest was about when she initially agreed to join, but listening in on the other travellers' conversation had given her a rough idea. At the thought of seeing more scenes like today's, her first reaction was to abandon the quest, but her sense of compassion won out. Who or whatever was responsible for this had to be brought to justice.
Why would someone do this, though? Katerei wondered. And if it had been happening all over, like Radik said, could it be more than one person they were up against? She dismissed this idea as soon as it came though. This didn't seem like the work of a group with a common motive; there was no apparent motive at all. Katerei could only rationalize the senseless slaughter of innocent animals by assuming it was the work of a deranged person.
Something rustled by in the grass, and Katerei's ears instinctively pricked, but it was just a small animal. She looked across the dark land, quiet under the wide Cytheran sky, and realized her watch was over. Gathering up her skirt and cloak, she stood up to rouse the next person. She should at least try to get some sleep tonight - who knew what tomorrow might bring.
"Hmm? What's that? No, no. . . Go away. . ." Wizard mumbled sleepily.
"Wizard?" Katerei shook Wizard's arm more rapidly. She didn't want to hurt him by shaking him harder; he looked so fragile. And she didn't want to wake everyone else. "It's your turn," she whispered.
"Mmhmm, it certainly is. . . Now go away. . ." the mage replied, still alseep.
Katerei sighed and then pinched Wizard's arm. It didn't wake him up immediately, to Katerei's surprise, but a few seconds later, Wizard stirred. "Is it my turn to watch?"
"Well, why didn't you just tell me?" Wizard rubbed his arm.
"I tried; you wouldn't wake up."
"Really? That's not a problem I usually have. Oh well." Wizard walked toward the mouth of the cave as Katerei settled down to get some rest. The old mage stopped once outside and knelt next to the ashes left by the fire they had started last night. He looked around to see if everything was in order; he detected no signs of anyone nearby.
He had his own ideas of what had happened. In his opinion, their chief concern at the moment was Raperian. Raperian had traveled with the group for a while, and it was readily apparent that he could not be trusted. Not only that, but Wizard wouldn't feel the tiniest bit surprised if Raperian were to go around gruesomely slaughtering animals. He's probably done it, not to mention killing people. . . Wizard observed in disgust.
Still, this didn't seem to be the way Raperian usually operated. The necromancer had always been proud of his own perversion, even to the degree of pointing out what things he's done merely to see everyone else's disapproval. Yet, so far, Raperian showed little interest in what had happened. Maybe he knew that everyone would suspect him and was intentionally trying to throw everyone off the trail. But why? It just didn't make sense. Wizard sickened at the next thought that occurred to him, Cythera can't handle another person like Raperian.
Wizard was so consumed with his own thoughts that he was in a stupor. He didn't hear anything until a sound of movement behind him snapped him back to reality. Too late. klunk "Oh," Wizard groaned, feeling the blood flowing from the wound on the back of his head. He was too tired, too drained to force himself awake. He tried to call for help, but the words were caught in his throat. For a moment, he felt helpless, like he was going to suffocate. He lost his sense of balance but knew he was falling over. As his vision blurred, the last thing Wizard saw was a cloaked figure disappearing into the night. He hit the ground with a dull thud, unconscious.
This post has been edited by The Wizard : 03 June 2009 - 02:48 PM
Wizard's watch ended, & then Shanadar's. Halfway through Silver's watch the smell of breakfast cooking should have started to awaken the rest of the camp, but instead it was Silver being awakened -by a stick prodding him in the ribs.
"Hey, Silver, didn't your watch start already?" came Yomu's voice through his drowse. Silver yanked himself away from unconsciousness as he stood -& fell over.
"Try standing on your feet next time," came Yomu's voice again, with a trace of humour.
"Hmm... Why didn't Shanad... oh." A quick glance revealed that Wizard was still out.
"Wizard may be fond of all night vigils, but he should have woken you in time to make breakfast," declared Yomu, "I'm famished!"
They walked together to the front of the cave where they saw Wizard lying unconscious on the ground, a bit of gore oozing from his head. Silver quickly darted forward to help him, while Yomu paused a moment to ensure that it wasn't a trap before hurrying to rouse the others.
As Yomu bent over Wizard, he noticed something on the ground.
"Curious," he murmured, just as Shanadar exited the cave behind him and hurried over.
"What is it?" asked the Enforcer.
"Well, it appears that Rapierian has been out here some time during the night," Yomu replied, pointing at the necromancer's footprints.
"And he is still gone now," Selax stated, emerging from the shadows next to the cave entrance.
"Looks like he left sometime around midnight," Radik added as he studied the tracks.
"He probably knocked out Wizard himself," Shanadar growled as he examined the old man.
"What a horrible thing to say!"
At that moment, Rapierian stepped out of the trees and came over to the party.
"Besides, why would I do that? It would seem like a horrible waste of time, since he was already knocked out," he said.
"Where have you been? Did you find him like this and DO NOTHING?!"
"Why, I figured I should find out who had attacked him," Rapierian said innocently. "After all, he's a tough (or not) old (really old) man. When I found him like this, I thought to myself that I should bravely chase down those who had attacked him and bring them to justice. Either that, or at least have a good laugh with them. Alas! I did not find them. Oh, woe is me!"
"So, you found him unconscious in the middle of the night and left—ostensibly to find those who had attacked him—leaving him injured. You did not get him medical attention or alert anyone else. You failed to find anyone but stayed out all night anyway?" Selax summarized.
When Rapierian nodded, the elemental continued, "A reprehensible and foolish action if true. I would say you should be dismissed from this band but then no one would be free to watch you. Your story will be investigated, however. I do not think you are telling us everything."
Two minutes before
Radik had been sleeping quiet nicely near the door, and as such was the first to be awoken by Yomu. He sat up groggily, with blurred vision, and the aftertaste of ale in his mouth. He noticed Yomu's quick and panicked state, then looked over to see Silver next to a laying figure. Maybe he just drank too much.. Then Radik's vision focused, and he saw it was Wizard, with a pool of liquid near him. Adrenaline forced the rest of his body into an awakened state.
As he stood up, Radik's right leg wobbled a little bit, and he clutched his leg for a brief moment. Damn, I thought this had healed... By this time, the party was roused and Selax was already at Wizard's side. Radik bent down and grabbed his bag, and the bottle he was drinking from last night. As he walked closer to Wizard (which was only a few feet away), his movements became more stiff.
Radik sighed after Rapierian and Selax finished exchanging words. He blinked as his vision unfocused, refocused, then went completely blurry. Radik grew worried as he raised his bottle of ale, and sniffed it. Something doesn't smell right.. He lifted the edge of the bottle to his lips, and tasted a small amount before turning away from the entrance and spraying the liquid all over the ground.
His right leg gave away, and he begun to hastily fumble through his bag for one his bottles. His hand grasped it with a fading strength, ripped the cork out with his teeth and begun chugging the contents. With half the bottle empty, he tossed it aside and half limp-crawled over to a rock as he begun to violently spams and puke.
Luckily, the other five were focused on helping Wizard, because the sight would've surely ruined all hope for breakfast. Shakily and weak, Radik wiped his face clean, and rolled over, propping himself up against the rock. He grabbed the near by bottle and soaked his wounded leg with the drink. Most of the... poison is... gone... Can sleep... off.. the.. rest... "How.. could... you...?" Radik asked weakly before passing out on the rock.
Edit: Corrected Spelling
This post has been edited by Dark Jet : 03 June 2009 - 09:09 PM
Satisfied that more capable people were looking after Wizard, Silver began to hastily prepare breakfast, hoping that none else would take note of how late it was.
Having been roused by Yomu, Katerei followed Selax out of the cave to see Wizard lying on the ground and being examined by the others. She gasped as she noticed the pool of blood under Wizard's head. "It figures," she muttered to herself, "I finally get some sleep and someone gets attacked."
Katerei went to step forward and offer her healing services, but she paused when Rapierian appeared. The necromancer made her extremely uncomfortable, and she preferred to keep as much distance between them as possible. She listened with a frown as Rapierian told his story. Something's not right , she thought. Why was Rapierian up in the middle of the night anyway? We intentionally didn't assign him a watch.
Filing that thought away for later, Katerei waited until the others were done talking and went to Wizard's side. "May I?" she asked Shanadar, adding, "I'm a healer. Maybe I can help." The Enforcer moved aside and Katerei knelt down next to the old man to examine the wound.
Wizard had lost a lot of blood, but that was expected of head wounds. Katerei made a motion with her hand and a sheet of water appeared in the air in the shape of a square. She used this like a cloth to gently wash away the blood on Wizard's head, making subtle movements with her fingers to guide the liquid cloth. Pausing for just a moment, she looked up and spotted Yomu, who was watching curiously. "I left my healing pouch in the cave. Would you mind fetching it for me?" Yomu nodded and disappeared into the cave, returning a moment later with a small burlap sack attached to a belt.
"Thank you," Katerei said and indicated he could leave it on the ground. She finished cleaning the wound and let the square of water dissipate back into the air, along with the blood it had absorbed. Dark red powder fluttered to the ground. She dug in her pouch and pulled out a metal tin of herbal salve that she carefully applied to Wizard's wound. "I don't want to try and use magic on a head wound until I have a better idea of what happened," she said aloud to whoever was listening. "When he regains consciousness, I'll check up on him again."
Replacing the tin and standing up, she dusted off her dress and looked around with a slight frown. "Aren't we missing someone?"
"Radik," said Selax with a start, and quickly surveyed the area outside the cave. Selax pointed to where the man lay unconscious on a large rock. "There he is."
"What happened?" Shanadar asked in alarm. "He can't have been attacked, he was just here talking a moment ago."
"Probably drank too much," Rapierian said dismissively.
Katerei cast him a sideways glance, but otherwise didn't acknowledge the necromancer. She went over to Radik and began to examine him. She pursed her lips as she noticed the puddle of vomit and discarded bottle. Maybe Rapierian was right? They had only been travelling a day and she had already noticed that Radik seemed to drink a lot.
"I don't know what's wrong with him," she said to the others, but as she spoke she noticed that his leg was drenched in something that smelled like alcohol. Upon closer investigation, she realized that his leg was bleeding out from under a bandage. "What happened to his leg?"
"He was stabbed by an Undine in battle," Shanadar answered.
Katerei furrowed her brow. That didn't sound like something she could heal. She cast a quick spell that hopefully would staunch the blood flow, retrieved some bandages from her healing pouch and began re-bandaging Radik's leg. "I hope this is good enough for you," she said quietly to the unconscious man, "because I don't know what else I can do."
When she was done, she sighed and turned to the others. "We'll have to stay here at least until Radik and Wizard wake up, which limits what we can do today. Maybe we can send out a scouting party to check on the harpies we found yesterday. But first," she said, looking over at Silverfish with the hint of a smile, "I think it's time for breakfast."
This post has been edited by iKaterei : 07 September 2009 - 03:27 AM
With everyone busy, Yomu slipped away up the mountain pass. The hills were silent, say for the clanking of the three coins in Yomu's hand. He halted briefly just to listen to the woods... " Nothing? " He took another step forward as the blue coin in his hand zoomed to the ground. He recaptured the coin, "Good."
Yomu reached into the void of his pouch and retrieved a worn leather harness connected to a strange metallic contraption with two thin slanted metal boxes pointing outward, both with the out-most side missing. Strapping himself in he spoke, " To the Heavens." with this Yomu's contraption began to beautifully hum as he soared into the air.
He scanned the area for any signs of villain or monster, but scarcely found even the movement of beasts. * Gurl * Yomu remembered he had not eaten yet today, and looking up he saw it was nearly noon. Discouraged by his lack of findings, he decided it was best to head back, but an unexpected a glint caught his eye. It was near the campsite, Yomu went to investigate.
- Huuuuuummmm..huuuummm...* Yomu weighed the blue coin in his hand, it was becoming lighter. "Uh-oh." He looked down, he had begun to fly back over the forest. The iron from the hills was becoming more sparse with every inch. The once beautiful hum had now become and ugly rattle, and Yomu was about to become intimate with the ground below. Quickly he muttered into the air, " To the land. " and the contraption let out a sharp ping as it slowly sank with Yomu to the ground.
Yomu unequipped the Hermes Cloak and quickly headed towards where he saw the glint. By now he could smell something tasty in the air, * gurl *, "Ugh, just a little longer okay?"