Dragon Age 2: Iron Heel, Iron Hand (NO-HAWKE ZONE!)
DRAGON AGE II: IRON HEEL, IRON HAND
How had Ferelden come to this?
Once the standard of a free realm in Thedas, it was fast becoming swallowed up in the schemes of a despot: its new King, His Majesty Aedan Cousland the First. Alongside his wife, the beautiful and cunning Queen Anora, the former Grey Warden and Hero of Ferelden has now ruled the land with an iron hand for five long years. Many wonder: Would things have been any different if Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir had actually become our King instead? Would our lives be better, or the same? The way things stand now, they can only get worse...
Will a new champion step forward to depose the old, or will all be lost?
Perdante Avrait had finally had enough. Enough of searching, of marching and hailing and finding nothing at all. She had sailed over treacherous seas to come from Orlais to Ferelden in its time of need, to fight against the darkspawn threat that remained after the archdemon had at last been slain. Indeed, she and her fellow soldiers had slain quite a few darkspawn when they had first set out on an endless patrol, but now it seemed like their task was finally finished. Still, did that mean they could stop? Did that mean they could lay their weary heads down on the stones they used for pillows and rest? Did that mean they could return to their homes and families?
Alas, no. Not if King Aedan Cousland the First had anything to say about it...
"Here's to Ser Cousland," grumbled one of her inebriated comrades, raising a large mug of ale in their rugged, smelly camp. "Long live the sodding king and all of his merry men!"
Perdante slapped her hand over her mouth to keep from letting out a loud guffaw. It was treason to speak in such a way, but seeing as how she and her compatriots had been ordered to march hundreds of miles in search of their quarry and finding nary a darkspawn, most of them could care less if death found them. At this point, they had nothing left to live for, because their loved ones back home likely believed them slain. As for Perdante herself, she had no family in Ferelden, and her relatives back in Orlais had prayed for her before she left like one prays over the dead. They knew that she would not return. What more had she to lose, except her life, which wasn't worth much over here in this land?
The drunken soldier leered at her. "Want to take a tumble in my tent, missy?"
Perdante rolled her eyes. "The only thing that's tumbling right now is my stomach..."
He laughed harder than before, harder than he had all evening, and fell over on his back. Ale spilled everywhere, and Perdante wiped some off of herself.
"Disgusting," she grumbled, rising from the place where she was sitting on the ground. Right now, she thought. This is my chance. If I were to defect, what better time than now, when all of us are eating and drinking like perfect swine? No one's going to notice if I 'slip out to the privy' for a brief moment... She regained her balance and headed away from the camp. The sun was setting, and shadows set out across the land.
Twilight shadows filtered across the landscape, dark figures once unnoticed in the daylight within secret dells and hidden coves, stirred with restless primal urges. Even as the lone silhouette of the woman left the raucous, stinking camp, other light-threaded shadows drew near; the scents, the sounds, these things brought them, but it was the camp's state of ease, it's aroma of feeble sickness like that of an ailing deer, a deer stalked by voracious predators that brought about the attack.
"Hey Brythe, whazzat sound? It sounds familiar..."
"Shut it...Can't talk and vomit...*Bluuureh*...At the same time!"
"Do you hear laughing, Brythe?"
"Quiet you two! There's something in the...Andraste!!! Dar-aaaaAAAAAHHHHhhh...."
The men were set upon like they were fresh meat, and just like dimwitted sheep they were slaughtered, Darkspawn pouring out of the camp outskirts like ravenous beasts, though they weren't a hoard, nor a very large group, the men were doomed from the beginning, their guards, senses, and even their pants had been down, and none but a few had enough of their senses about them to retaliate. Too late, before one could recite a short proverb the few fighters who were ready were outnumbered, their comrades dead and bleeding on the ground where they had just been drinking, sleeping, vomiting, or even defecating....They too died, short, horrible deaths.
The sounds of the screaming men as they died carried far, attracting the attention of yet more swift death, death for them that is. Seeing one like them kill their Alpha broke the group, the single ogre of the Darkspawn band finding it difficult to turn away from it's leader's killer, only it's slowly accumulating wounds forcing it after it's retreating brethren.
"The Frail" stood over the Alpha Hurlock's corpse, another Hurlock body nearby, some dead Genlocks littered the camp in sparse areas, some killed by the few ready men, the rest by "The Frail".
He stood there, his dull corpse-like eyes peering from beneath the strange rags about his head, his gaze resting on the carnage about him; in his right hand he gripped a mighty faceted mace that had the name 'Fuil-Iarann', something the wielder didn't understand, nor did he give it, but he kept it as he knew it. In the left hand he held a Darkspawn forged blade that had no name, he simply called it the Alpha blade, as it was his first. Strapped to his left upper arm was a small flayed shield, something he rarely used, but kept mounted on his arm like a trophy, a very protective one.
Through the blood and mist of death, he smelled, no, felt someone, still alive, away from the camp. He remained, they would return. No one could ignore the screams that had rended the air that night, he didn't, he couldn't.
((I took the liberty of killing the camp off as a nice way of introducing "The Frail" to Perdante - Should create an interesting situation. If you didn't want them dead Tysy, then tell me, and I'll edit.))
((I hope Ty doesn`t want Archon to edit.))
If he had to name one thing in particular Cairn enjoyed the most about Ferelden would have to be it`s trees.
Not the quality in what he remembered during his childhood could be attributed toward this. Such as easy to climb stature, or something along the lines of that. Nay, even the Sylvans rarely payed too much attention to him climbing their trunks. But, the principle thing he enjoyed in a tree now were it`s branches. Specifically their gnarled features in which he could hide himself.
Darkspawn were a tricky game for the elf. Contrary to the tales he heard of them as a child, they were not a roaming demonic dwarven problem. Rather, they proved quite the challenge the first time he had seen them, in the Brecilian Forest. Cairn had taken to setting simplistic ``traps`` if they could be called that. Really, they were more set up to alert him of whatever he hunted. This worked on Werewolves before, but not on Darkspawn. He still remembered the scars received during the battle that followed.
This encounter he suspected would just be the first of many, and through his paranoid mind the idea of simply watching a band of Orlesian soldiers.
He had heard of the recent trials and tribulations occurring within the government of Ferelden. During the odd chance he would find himself wandering through a town big enough to have a tavern. Even then it was hard to search through the bias illiterate farmers tended to have. In the end throughout all this he did eventually manage to find one. It wasn`t that hard considering the Darkspawn corpses littering the ground around their campsite. Likewise it particularly easy to climb a tree and inspect as he so pleased.
This went well for several hours, the day nestled into the night, and he observed the campsite carefully. When the drunken foray into foolishness did occur as expected, Cairn felt his motivation of simple thievery start to subside. Shortly after the only female of the band walked off, he suspected for firewood or something similar, he heard noises surrounding the campsite.
"Hey Brythe, whazzat sound? It sounds familiar..." Cairn heard it as well, a twig snapping just underneath his tree in fact. Paranoia gripped the elf for a few short seconds, as he grabbed the dagger sheathed at his waist. The dagger he rarely found a use for in combat. Before long the panicking started with the rest of the group.
"Shut it...Can't talk and vomit...*Bluuureh*...At the same time!" The act of repulsion calmed Cairn down for a few short seconds, and his breathing lowered to a steady inaudible pace.
"Do you hear laughing, Brythe?" That was surprising to Cairn, something he didn`t hear. A tear of sweat drizzled down his neck as he held the dagger out fully in front of him. He didn`t have a chance to react as he heard one of the soldier`s scream.
"Quiet you two! There's something in the..." Cairn watched as one of the less experienced soldiers stood up, drawing his claymore. Walking out of the lit sanctuary of the camp. His footsteps stopped abruptly as he screamed once more. "Andraste!!! Dar-aaaaAAAAAHHHHhhh..." and before he knew it, Darkspawn poured out of the trees around him. So many Cairn could barely see the ground anymore, much less the soldiers now butchered. The amount of time he spent stalking rabbits by hiding in trees he felt payed off. In some horrific and surreal way. Cairn watched on as the Darkspawn continued to kill, and observed one in particular gripping both a mace and a sword. He observed as it stood over one of his fallen comrades, killed by one of the actually alert soldiers. With no possible idea of escape coming to mind. Cairn waited, his dagger in his hand, observing the Darkspawn. He did not have enough room to unsheathe his bow without giving away his entire position.
Things had been different for Shadow since the Harrowing. When he had been sent into the Fade he was befriended by a Pride Demon, only to realize who he was shortly before the end of his time in the Fade. He spent most of the trip believing his was a fellow apprentice who's death at the hands of the Templar and didn't want to see another soul condemned to the hell that was the Fade. Since that meeting the demon must have done something, for every time he closed his eyes and attempted to sleep, he heard the voice of his former guide and brief friend. The voice laughed at Shadow, taunted him and continuously branded him an apostate. He'd also wake in a gasp.
This night he crawled to a river, cupped his hands to collect enough water to splash against his face, all whilst telling himself "I am not an apostate."
Of course what he was telling himself was total crap. An apostate was a mage not with the Circle, but using that logic all the mages were apostates now thanks to the hero that was the mighty Grey Warden. Shadow was one of few lucky enough to escape the massacre that the Circle suffered at the hands of demons and the Templarís. Now all that remained of the once great order of Magic wielders was loose association of survivors calling themselves the Mages' Collective. It was why he was here in the middle of nowhere. In order of performing his Harrowing, he had to do a few quests for the group. One of their members had come out here to recruit of fellow apostates and hadn't come back. Shadow was sent to collect his magic staff.
Oh and him if he was still alive, but the main objective was to find his wand. Everything else was an added bonus however his staff was suppose to be pretty powerful compared to others and the leaders seemed more focused on equipment more than they didn't personnel which didn't sit well with Shadow. He believed Mages could have the power to help other throw the King that destroyed them however this collective seemed more interested in trinkets. Even the Apostates that had been aimed for recruitment were only selected because apparently they had some sort of magic invisible bracelet.
"Longer live the magic revoluton," Shadow muttered under his breath.
So no, Shadow didn't really believe in this new rebellion, but he felt better just being around fellow mages and now having to hide his robes, staff and enchanted objects every time he entered a town so he wouldn't run into any trouble or templarís, most of which were probably just itching to strike down a mage. As he grew more aware of the world around him, he found screams in the distance and the howls of Darkspawn. Taking up his staff, he wondered if he should investigate or let the poor sucker die an unpleasant and undignified death. He choose the first option. After all those screams could be from anyone, even the mage he was sent to rescue.
( I know we all seem to be converging onto this camp, so if it seems unrealistic or lazy then just say something and I'll have something intercept Shadows inbetween coming to help that'll keep him distracted for a while.)
((Could you please have Shadow distracted for a moment? In a way, that was sort of what went wrong with Nirriven--everyone showing up in the same spot all at once. The story progressed too quickly, and Archon? Your post RULED!!!))
Fortunately, Perdante had not wandered too far from the camp before she heard blood-curdling screams coming from the same reeking place she had vacated. As swiftly as her pale, leather-clad legs could carry her, she sprinted back towards the scene of the sudden carnage. The stench of death, along with spilled ale and more disgusting bodily fluids than blood, overwhelmed her as soon as her nose caught the slightest whiff. She tasted acid in her mouth, but held her gag reflex in check so as not to vomit completely. Looking straight ahead, the valiant Orlesian soldier knew she had a battle to win.
For there, in the midst of the corpses, ragged bedrolls, and waste, stood a darkspawn. Not just any darkspawn--an Emissary, from the looks of him. Was he the leader of a band of his fellow demonic creatures who had done the killing, or had he single-handedly vanquished the entire camp?! If the latter was true--No time for wild guesses, she thought, letting out a war cry.
She raced forward and flung herself upon the towering darkspawn, her flashing dagger and longsword yearning to pierce his heavy armor, gleaming in the little sunlight that still remained from the sunset's passing. Gnashing her teeth, she grinned with pride at the two dents her blades had formed, and then steadied herself for another attack. This was going to be a long fight...
((lol, I guess some things were lost in translation, but basically, "The Frail" looks just like any regular Emissary: Example. He's got the wicked headdress with the blades, rags, and everything - I put a linked image in my char. sheet - so he doesn't have horns like a helmeted Alpha would. More-or-less he looks like a nasty-bad Emissary toting weapons (and shield) instead of a staff. As for the other lost translations (not by you Tysy, just saying there are other flaws :) ), well, they're up there, but I won't get into it. :D - Also, before I forget, thank you for the praise Tysy!))
"The Frail" prodded the dead body of the Alpha Hurlock he killed, it's corpse reminding him of days long past, during the rise of the Archdemon. Days of when he once used dark magics to enforce the will of the corrupted Old God.
With his left at the face of the lithe figure who bounded into the reeking, corpse filled camp, "The Frail" did not notice the female who stood within the blind spot of his shield-arm. Still tired from beating back the single ogre of the Darkspawn marauders, "The Frail" was caught off-guard, staggering at the sudden shrill cry of the smaller being, his wrapped face whipping around to catch only a short glimpse of the woman who let it out.
After thunder, there comes lightning, ((Wait a minute....-_-....I got that wrong! Oh well, it still sounds cool!)) and like the searing hot flash of a storm, the woman was on him, throwing herself into him. Though she was not nearly the weight of his fellow Darkspawn, nor a man, his fatigued state, and unsteady position caused him to fall back, his strength the only thing allowing him to remain standing after the charge.
He rooted himself, thrusting her away from himself; he paused, following the woman's gaze as she grinned at a spot on his armored body. There, two dents were evident, superficial, he never felt the strikes, and had been too distracted to hear them hit. He realized it could have come out worse if those strikes had went through the crude, stylized armor, but brushed this thought on into the past, his dull gaze lifting to look at the woman, his look telling her that her pride was vain, she had accomplished little.
Thin lines of dying light etched their weapons and armor as the image of dusk faded into night, the hollow light of flames from the camp soon removed them from the world around in a surreal atmosphere of timeless, flickering patterns. Orange tongues teased by nearby bodies lit their world now, smoke rising from those who'd fallen and smothered small fires, the glowing embers beneath roasting them slowly. The moon was low, not yet at it's apex, and "The Frail" had the advantage.
Swiftly he turned, flinging dust and dirt upon the still living flames, killing them, like their makers. Darkness, a thing that Darkspawn thrived on during their days in the Thaigs. For "The Frail" those days were a lifetime ago, but the truth still stood, he was the master when shadows ruled.
He stared at her in the dark, little detail was lost with the transition, he saw her like he had in the fading twilight. He knew she could not say the same.
Lowering himself, centering his center of gravity, left side towards her, he brought himself forward, and up, the shield on his upper left arm slamming her in the diaphragm and underside of her females' chest. He felt how light she was as he lifted her on his shielded shoulder: he'd encountered few women in his life - other than Broodmothers - and could make little judgment on them at all. If he took a guess, he'd have to say she was probably heavier than most of her gender, her warrior lifestyle giving her muscle, and thus weight. He could debate these facts in his song-silent mind for hours if he wanted, but battle came first, and as the defender, he was not about to let his guard down.
"The Frail" felt her carry away from himself as her light body stopped pressing upon him, his nighteyes witnessing as she went up and away from him, the momentum of his blunt strike carrying her away from him. Then a thump, and she was on the ground; he remained, shield-arm towards her, his stance low, prepared for retaliation.
Had he felled her without harm as he'd hoped? "The Frail" knew that the woman had struck out at him for only one reason, and he knew that reason all too well, it was as familiar as the crushing darkness around him.
((Hahar! Well, the fight doesn't have to end if you don't want it to, Tysy, so this doesn't have to be her defeat if you don't want it. Just have her recuperate if need be. ;) ))
Perdante, hitting the ground with a force she'd never known outside of being attacked by an Ogre, swore she heard one of her own ribs crack--or was that her spine? No, she was still very much alive, although hardly breathing. The wind had been utterly knocked out of her, and she knew this was the end...no. It was not. If I have to die, I'd rather die fighting than lying here helpless, she thought. May the Maker, the Paragons, the Qun, the Creators, or whoever and whatever higher power is out there in this cruel and meaningless universe bless me...
She suddenly felt a second wind fill her lungs and body. The young woman struggled to her feet, regained her balance as the darkspawn stared, and then rushed toward him in a berserker's most potent blood frenzy, screaming with rage. Her longsword and dagger were pointed directly toward her enemy's heart. Either she would pierce it, or she would perish.
The darkness was silent; like a cloak of velvet it clung to "The Frail's" body. He could tell between darkness and light, even if he could see so well in the shadows of night, and the underground, it was simply like seeing the world in two forms of color. For a dark-loving creature, "The Frail" liked the light, something in it's hue created an unnatural feeling within him, one that was of no ill boding.
He pondered if the woman was unconscious, knocked out by the force of his attack. He had put quite a lot of his weight and force behind it. No, there, he saw her move, breathing in, her female chest rising as she took in a sudden breath of air. The woman rose, steadying herself, he waited, a courtesy no Darkspawn would have given her, most would have leapt on her the moment she fell to the ground, or stood up, never giving her the opportunity to retaliate.
With yet another scream, the woman charged, her weapons haphazardly lunging towards her estimate of his chest. She lacked the eyesight within the darkness to see that "The Frail" was already facing his left side towards her, thus putting his shield between her, and him. He readied himself, lowering his body so that the shield on his upper arm would catch the weapons in her rage-drunken charge.
*Clang* the blades went as they impacted the shield, the sword skidding off of the metallic surface, gliding across the back of his neck, blood flowing freely from the wound that had been accidentally inflicted. "The Frail" was all too aware of the dangers his blood posed, he'd brought much pain upon others, and thus upon himself through his carelessness during his travels.
His blade arced over her head, a sure sign of death for any warrior in the woman's position, but it's fall missed her as the arm that carried it wrapped around the woman's own. With a few more arcs completed, "The Frail" grasped the woman's hand in his armpit with vice-like force, his arm wrapped around hers, forcing her arm to fixate straight, "The Frail" pushed with his blade-holding fist into the back of her shoulder, and with ease granted by the natural strength of a Darkspawn he dislocated her shoulder.
He let go. Her arm wasn't broken, but dislocating it would weaken her grip on the blade she wielded, and maybe force enough pain into her to bring her out of the frenzy he smelt about her personage. He stepped back some, giving the woman room, he didn't know how she would react. But with a small single dagger and a limp arm she posed far less of a threat.
"Mmmrrrrarhh," came the guttural sound, "The Frail" releasing a common Darkspawn noise, it was something strangely primal and instinctive that forced these sounds out from time to time. The sound that came next was something that would stop a person's heart, for it was such a frightening thought to be placed alongside that of a Darkspawn: speech, "Rarrouuuuhhrrraa-espite?"
((He basically says respite in the end there if you didn't get that.))
((I got that. Thanks, though!))
Pain. Blinding, sickening pain. This particular darkspawn was not only the strongest and most powerful Emissary she had ever dueled--he fought like an Ogre, while only being half its size--but he also held the power to ignore the pain that he himself felt. Only Perdante's berserker fury could grant her that strength, and at the exact moment that he had dislocated her shoulder, the fury had departed from her. Dissipated like air rushing out of one's lungs, like a lake-bed vanishing in the midst of a blazing desert, and like the hope of mortals who had finally realized that the Maker had abandoned His creation for all time. Hope. That was what truly left her, and not just her blind rage.
The Orlesian maiden gazed up at her foe and conqueror. "I yield," she rasped. "I've lost. You've won. Kill me!" If a darkspawn could understand and use a word such as respite correctly, he would surely be able to comprehend those few phrases. Death would come soon, and that would be the end of her at last. I'll die a warrior's death, Perdante thought, and no one in Ferelden or Orlais can call me a coward. I fought a brave fight, and I can fight no more. It's what King Aedan demanded, and I've fulfilled my duty as one of his soldiers. I...have... Total blackness overcame her. Unconsciousness was indeed a relief, but was it the unconsciousness of the grave?
((Hm? Maybe I'll start slowing down a bit, if I don't, I fear the others won't post! -_-;; ))
"I yield," were the words that seemed to drag out of the woman's throat. Almost immediately upon hearing them "The Frail" had sheathed his Alpha blade, and was in the process of putting the 'Fuil-Iarann', his faceted mace, away - before he even heard the next few words the woman spoke.
"I've lost. You've won. Kill me!" was what "The Frail" heard her say, he paused, almost by instinct he contemplated the idea, but his greater intelligence made him push that aside.
"Mmmrrr....I..!" Was all he could get out before the woman feinted before him. With shock, he nearly leapt forward to catch her in his free arm. She was indeed light, not much heavier than his mace. Like a doll she was limp in his hand, her body arched back, her legs limp, "The Frail" knelt slowly, lowering her with gentility that one could never believe a Darkspawn would have.
"Rrrrarr-est," he growled, finally putting his mace away, he knelt by her, inspecting her for any open wounds, as it was dangerous with the blood of Darkspawn about, including his own. He tore some cloth from a corpse's clothing and quickly wrapped his neck to stop the bleeding, before he moved on to inspect her chest and diaphragm. He felt along the area where he slammed her with his shield, using the deadened seed of magic within his body and spirit to inspect the tissue through her armor and clothes. He had to be careful though, grave issues could arise if that dark seed began to regrow from use. It was like Bloodmagic, but it was not: it was a form of magic so very old, but it fed off of the Archdemon as a source of power, not through pacts with Fade demons. It's similarity however granted him senses that didn't go away no matter how dead the seed was; senses of the workings of another's body, though, usually only through touch, and within a vicinity. It was very limited, but it wasn't the only 'sense' granted, either.
When he'd lowered her he'd felt a few cracked ribs, and now as he felt along the underside of what he'd come to call a female chest, he felt there would be a nasty bruise, but fortunately no real damage, not even internally. He moved himself over to her arm, needing no amount of touching, or 'sensing' to know what was wrong there. With one swift motion he pressed his full weight into her shoulder, relocating it.
He pushed himself back, but remained on the ground, the sudden shock of pain from the woman's shoulder would most likely force her out of unconsciousness, and he wasn't about to be on the receiving end of her panic when she awoke. There was still no light, but maybe that was for the best.
Shadow followed the screams, not stopping for anything. He found himself dodging trees, leaping over tree roots and just plowing through bushes ignored the cuts and stings he received. He got closer, and closer until he found himself leaping off an edge onto a flat piece of ground that had been turned into a camp by, as Shadow's luck would have it, the very apostate mages he had been sent searching for. Whilst their aggressors weren't Darkspawn, they were their animal counterpart. Shadow had heard rumors of the Blight Animals, normal wolfs and bears who feasted upon the blood of Darkspawn which warped their mind and their bodies. Shadow had always assumed they had died when the Blight was over, however their appearance here suggested otherwise.
As one of the bears seemed to be chewing of the torso of one body and a pack of wolves were fighting over body in blood soaked robes he was too late. All animals turned their blood lust eyes towards shadows before rising from their activities and slowly edging towards shadow. Gripping his stave, he prepared to take on the four wolfs and bear, each visible tainted by the Blight that had ended five years ago. He knew he was doomed. Against these odds, an experienced mage would struggle however a novice who only had a few spells under his sleeves was sure enough doomed. If they were normal animals, he could have perhaps scared them off with lightning or fire, however blight animals were more than simply tainted. They were vicious, sadistic as animals could get and fearless. He was going to need a mericle.
That thought seemed to trigger what he was holding out for. Out of nowhere a cloud engulfed the area the blight animals stood, and within seconds they had all been frozen solid. Several arcane bolts fired from the forest surrounding them hit the frozen creatures, causing them all to shatter into tiny pieces. Now that the danger gone, Shadow was left standing looking astonished and confused. He asked himself what was going on? Did he have some guardian angel who had some experience with powerful magic? He didn't have to wait long for his answer. A mage appeared through from behind one of the larger trees in the area, but more importantly he was the mage from the Collective who had went missing. "What are you doing out here?" He asked whilst the rest of his attention fell upon the dead apostates
"I was searching for you, of course, presuming you're Odan," Shadow replied.
"I am, let me guess the Mage Collective sent you to loot from my corpse in the hopes I'd met my end in my task to recruit several cannibalistic, mage hating apostates?" As he mentioned the apostates, Shadow looked at their bodies. He had assumed the animals had killed them, however not matter how corrupted by the blight these creatures were, they couldn't cause the burn marks. It was clear they had been killed by Odan and their bodies attracted the blight animals. "They wanted my all of powerful staff however didn't have the balls to take it from me themselves. So they thought they'd send me to my death, then send some kid to rob my corpse. Lovely little resistance we have don't we?"
Shadow wasn't exactly sure what was going on. He was given a map and told to find Odan, or atleast his staff. Now Odan was claiming they had sent him to his death. Seconds ago the young inexperienced Mage was facing certain death which he was still recovering from, and now claims his order, a group he had to admit he didn't completely trust, was sending an experienced and powerful mage to his death solely to get their greedy hands on his staff. He wasn't sure what to do next. "So is that why you're still out here? You're hiding from the collective?"
Odan's laugh echoed around the nearby forest. "Me cowering from them? Not likely! No, something has taken my interest. Well I say something..."
Another shock of blinding pain brought the Orlesian back to her senses: agony, and then relief. Apparently, the darkspawn champion had pulled her shoulder back into place...but why? Against her will, she found that tears were streaming down her bloodied cheeks. Impossible! Warriors don't weep, or at least they shouldn't. 'Ignore pain, incite battle, invoke death'. That is the unspoken yet all-known Berserker credo, plain and simple. I have shamed my kindred-in-arms through my surrendering, and my weakness. Not only had she failed her brothers and sisters in blood rage, but she had also failed her King. Yielding to a darkspawn? Whoever heard of such a disgrace? Either you slew them, or were slain by them. There was no other fate to be had if you encountered one of the diabolical fiends. Still, there was this one particular darkspawn...
"I--I'm still alive?" Perdante reassured herself that yes, indeed, she continued to inhabit the realm of the living, although she quivered on the cold ground and was unable to move at the moment. Her eyes caught the movement of a gargantuan shadow nearby: her vanquisher.
"Who are you?" she asked in a near-whisper, not knowing if he would reply.
"I--I'm still alive?" the woman croaked through the watery flow that sprang from her eyes. Tears, yes, they were called tears, weren't they. Darkspawn don't weep, they don't cry; "The Frail" only knew of such things simply through experience, and he'd experienced many peoples' tears during the rise of the Archdemon, and even afterwards.
"Who are you?" she asked, her silent voice unsettling "The Frail" in some small, queer way that he did not understand.
He let out a short quiet snort, accompanied by a low growl so commonly heard amongst Darkspawn. "Mmmmrrr--A no one...A Darkspawn," he uttered quietly, his voice was as grotesque as his Hurlock face, with a natural deepness that seemed to emanate from a hollow pit, deep within his body. He remained silent for quite some time before speaking again, this time restraining his natural sounds.
""The Frail", am I," his words coarse, but quiet, so as not to cause alarm. "Rrr-uuh, who. Are you?"
Cairn had begun to grow restless simply sitting in a tree. The darkspawn horde bellow him had grown strangely melodic in their speech patterns. The same grunts seemed to repeat themselves between the shorter and taller ones.
Great... I am beginning to learn their language. The prospect of talking Darkspawn aside, Cairn was still fearing for his life. Twice now he suspected one of looking directly at him. Every so often he would hear their growls stop for a few seconds, and resume shortly thereafter.
While he was hearing the cacophony of Darkspawn symphonies, he began to hear something else through his knife-like ears. In the corner of his eye he spotted a large burly black bear. Foraging in the bushes, and for some reason at night when it was supposedly hibernating. The confusion came to mind, yet Cairn formulated a plan rather quickly. He stood up as best he could, and whistled toward the bear. The Darkspawn gazed around, looking for the source of the sound they just heard. But found themselves distracted by a bear rushing toward them.
Cairn jumped for the tree as he watched the Darkspawn go to attack the bear. He aimed to jump on a tree adjacent to him. However, as he attempted to do so he felt his hand slip on the branch. The air underneath the elf was unforgiving as he crashed down to the ground bellow him. He scrambled to his feet suddenly, noticing they were still distracted attacking the beast, and ran.
The adrenaline flowing through his veins eventually ran short, and the elf noticed he put quite a distance between himself and the camp. But as he looked on toward the camp, he saw something else. What looked like two, unrecognizable figures moving about. His distraction was short lived as he went back to fleeing the scene as quickly as possible.
The Frail? This darkspawn not only had the power of recognizable speech, but a recognizable name? Through the thick and sweltering haze that was the agonizing condition of her pummeled body, she heard him ask who she was. This was unusual--all other darkspawn hacked first and asked questions later. Her present foe, by contrast, seemed a--talkative?--sort.
Had she been uninjured and wanting to give a reply that would surely impress the listener, the female warrior would have answered, I am Perdante Mahault Avrait, Champion and Berserker of Orlais, mighty in battle and even mightier in spirit. However, in her present state, she decided against trying to make the darkspawn cower in awe of her title and accomplishments. After all, who had won their fateful duel: he or she? Thus, instead of launching into her usual, flowery Orlesian introduction speech, she simply said, "My name is Perdy." Finding the strength to raise herself into a sitting position from her valiant flat-on-her-back-on-the-ground stance, she continued, "I'm a warrior. I was sent by the King of this land to slay any darkspawn that I met, and that means you. As you can see, however, I am in no position to kill you, and so I won't." She gave a sudden grunt of pain, which was rather darkspawn-like.
Perdante shook her head. "May the Maker condemn what the King says, or wants me to do. In my own eyes, you've earned the right to live by your sheer fierceness alone!"
Perdy? Such a short meaningless title. It carried neither the flowery length and perversity of her race, or the others, and was something that held no meaning with in which it was earned, if at all it was. "The Frail" was, "The Frail"! No one could mistake it for what it was, or what it meant. He grunted, "The Frail" lacked enough understanding of the other races and for what reasons they gave such complex, yet pointless titles.
With effort the woman sat up, her face shining in the silver light of the rising half-moon. "I'm a warrior. I was sent by the King of this land to slay any darkspawn that I met, and that means you. As you can see, however, I am in no position to kill you, and so I won't."
"The Frail" grunted a quiet grunt, if the woman had wanted him dead so badly she would have tried regardless of her position, he wasn't stupid, whether he was a Darkspawn or not. Whatever the reason, she just didn't want to kill him, and he knew it. Another grunt.
Then she grunted, but only in pain: he fidgeted, then stared. He let her talk, looking on with half-lidded eyes.
"May the Maker condemn what the King says, or wants me to do. In my own eyes, you've earned the right to live by your sheer fierceness alone!" The way she spoke it almost seemed that she had some strange admiration for him. He didn't know, he couldn't guess, the other races were queer to him, but if she did in some way, then he pitied her...Or was it himself?
Once she'd finished her talking he moved closer, speaking ponderously before reaching out to touch her back and sides, "Ggrrrmmrr-ibs, cracked, need setting. Wrapping."
He removed his hands and held them before her face, making peeling motions and indicating her armor, he commanded in one simple word, "Off."
As he waited, he pondered her last comment, replying in time, "Mmmm, not fierce. Calm, fight, restraint. Not fierce. Simply using my thoughts. Fierce fight, kill...slaughter, brethren are always fierce, bestial."
"Mmmrarrrr-I earned my life by wits. I beat you with natural strength-rrrr. Mistaken it with ferocity," he explained, his wording was chopped, and slow, but the complexity he could put behind his speech was evident. His only problems were with the grunts and growls that came from him so involuntarily, and thus it gave him a primitive sense, and feel; something that could be misleading to most, if their prejudice didn't let them look past it.
A smile and knowing nod came to Perdante's face. "I see. If you've earned your life by your wits, then you certainly have far more wits than the rest of your darkspawn brethren. If I may say so, all they've ever done to my kind is...charge, kill, and feed. This time, I was the one who made the opening move against you, and I paid for it. I beg your...pardon?" She paused for a moment. Was she actually apologizing to a demonic fiend she was ordered upon pain of death by the King's headsman to slaughter? "Yes, I am indeed sorry. My life is all but lost, and to meet someone such as yourself? It...just seems such a waste, not to look past appearances." She shook her head.
When she saw the peeling motions that The Frail was making with his hands, she gave a start. He wants me to...remove my armor? Completely? As utterly shameful and ludicrous as that idea seemed, his mentioning her cracked ribs made her yearn for whatever sort of wrapping and setting he might deign to give. Slowly and humbly, she removed her leather garments. I feel so exposed, so embarrassed...Wait! This is a darkspawn, by the Maker, and not some slathering idiot of our kind, like the soldiers back at camp! There is no way he could feel the lusts they do, unless-- She put the thought out of her mind. As far as she could tell, "The Frail" looked at her and felt nothing.
"You...you may set my ribs now, if you'd like," she said, grimacing in pain again. "After this, I--I fear I must say goodbye and depart this place. His Majesty the King is waiting for my report, or at least for my safe return." After which I might lose my head, if I say anything about meeting you...
((I yet again find myself humbled by your praise Tysy, thank you. :whtsmile: But I seriously hope our singular interactions don't scare off the other two. I don't want this RP dying from interaction abuse :D .))
"I see. If you've earned your life by your wits, then you certainly have far more wits than the rest of your darkspawn brethren. If I may say so, all they've ever done to my kind is...charge, kill, and feed. This time, I was the one who made the opening move against you, and I paid for it. I beg your...pardon?" She stopped briefly.
"Ouurumm-you charged. Attempted to kill. Rrrr-feed off my death, to grow your prodigy. Being the foe, to beat the foe, is as evil as sin. Lessons. Humility. Difficultly learned; beautiful, rrrumm-and valuable," he told her in earnest.
"Yes, I am indeed sorry. My life is all but lost, and to meet someone such as yourself? It...just seems such a waste, not to look past appearances." She finished.
"The Frail" growled low, but non-threateningly, "At, or past. Appearances are. I am Darkspawn, you are human, I see you for you, see me for me."
Perdy finally had removed her armor, her manners changing like that of day and night. Fear - was it fear? - seemed to come over the woman, but "The Frail" couldn't blame her, she was human, shame was natural to her kind; they/she had such smooth, shiny, and plush skin, it was only natural for fear against harm...If he had guessed right in thinking it fear? It smelled strange though, so he could only go off of what he saw and what he had learned.
"You...you may set my ribs now, if you'd like," she nearly cooed; to "The Frail" it was not a 'like' or 'unlike' task - it was responsibility: a task that must be done. The other races put such uncertainty in their words, if one says they are to do something, the other acts like it is a thing of preference, whether there own, or the other's. "The Frail" had only one word that he could put behind all the things he found so irksome about the strangeness of the other races. Queer. "After this, I--I fear I must say goodbye and depart this place. His Majesty the King is waiting for my report, or at least for my safe return."
His only valid feelings - though there were others - towards the sight was innocent curiosity. He wondered what it was like to have such pale, soft skin. He was half tempted to poke her, but decided that setting her ribs would be enough. With that he began his task, feeling along her visible ribs, pressing the bones into place with the push of a strong finger, and on the rare occasion: with the heel of his hand.
His half-lidded gaze shifted left, staring at the corpse he'd taken his own neck bindings from. A grunt, and a snatch, and he tore the body's tunic off, almost immediately tearing it into a long continuous strip. He then steadily wrapped her torso, slowly going under her arm, around her female chest, under another arm, and around again, all while keeping the makeshift bandage corset-tight.
A sharp snarl split the silence as he tied the wrappings off securely. Wiggling his way around in front of her again, he stared blankly, his gaze floating down to his hands, which he opened and closed repetitively as he stared, and then he looked up, clasping his hands together in a closing motion he commanded, "On."
He remained staring for a moment at her, reaching out and poking her shoulder one last time before she dressed. He looked at his finger, as if he could see what his nerves felt, letting out a simple, deep-throated mutter, "Mmmm." Like he'd come to some astute conclusion.
He looked back at her, his deadened, yet sharp eyes burning holes in her own. He rumbled, "Grrruh-go to your 'His Majesty the King'rrr. "The Frail" will follow his feet, but he will not know where they go. Perdy may not see "The Frail" again."
"The Frail" laughed at his childish poetry; a low, deep thing, a sound that brings fear no matter; a Darkspawn laughing is no joyous thing, but an evil sound, even if it's bearer is not. Regardless of his dark laughter, "The Frail" was somber as he muttered a simple question, "Mmm-solitary, or solidarity?"
((THREADMASTER'S NOTE: This will end my long interaction sequence with "The Frail", and Perdy is going back to report to King Aedan about the darkspawn attack and the slaughter of her entire camp. Others may find her...:)!))
"For now," replied the soldier, filled with wonder and gratitude at The Frail's suggestion, "I must walk alone as I make my journey back to King Aedan's castle. If anyone sees you near me, they'll most likely attack you, and if we become seriously outnumbered..." She closed her eyes and then opened them again. "I hate to think of what would happen. However, is there...something of yours..by which I can remember you, or even contact you? The situation could get ugly if I tell King Aedan that I was the only survivor of the attack that slaughtered our entire camp. If I must flee for my life, and depart Denerim in disgrace, then I would be grateful for a stalwart ally. I won't mention you to His Majesty when I tell him what happened. Why would I, after all you've done for me, an enemy you've vanquished?" She smiled at him and stood up. "Thank you--for everything."
"For now," that piteous admiration returning. "I must walk alone as I make my journey back to King Aedan's castle. If anyone sees you near me, they'll most likely attack you, and if we become seriously outnumbered...I hate to think of what would happen," she said, though she continued on, he nodded at this point, he knew all too well the problems he could cause even if his manner was calm, and his intentions kind.
"However, is there...something of yours..by which I can remember you, or even contact you? The situation could get ugly if I tell King Aedan that I was the only survivor of the attack that slaughtered our entire camp. If I must flee for my life, and depart Denerim in disgrace, then I would be grateful for a stalwart ally. I won't mention you to His Majesty when I tell him what happened. Why would I, after all you've done for me, an enemy you've vanquished?" She asked rhetorically. She stood, "The Frail" remained seated, staring up at her, his silent features and passive gaze were unsettling; it seemed almost too unnatural for a Darkspawn.
"Thank you--for everything," she concluded. "The Frail" stood up, his bulk shadowing the woman, his features evident for the first time from the pale light of the cool half-moon.
"Mrrm-How queer," he muttered, as he thought over her thanking him for things he understood no reason to be thanked for. He'd treated wounds he inflicted, thus he'd harmed her, even if the assault was her folly. There were no thanks needed, nor deserved, all was simply as it was. He turned as if to leave, but paused, then reaching up he unfastened one of the crude blades of his Emissary headdress, turning back to her, he placed the object in her hand.
"Rrrrraa-cannot call, but reminder of Lessons. Humility. Beautifulrrrah, valuable. Remember "The Frail", if Perdy wants," he told her. He tilted his head, he wondered what she wanted that would have called him. He had little else to give her, for he carried no possessions save for his weapons, shield, armor, or his undergarbs. The blades of his headdress were just as personal, but there were enough of them to part with at least one. A grunt, a turn, and he strode a few steps, but paused to await any reply to his gesture. If there came none?
Perdante turned the gift over in her hands three times, and then bowed before The Frail. "I will treasure this always," she said, "and I will always remember you, if we do not meet again. Farewell, and may fortune guide your steps." She cast one last look at the darkspawn and then turned to leave, letting the moon guide her way on the path that led away from the remains of the camp and the carnage. The sickening scent of what had happened earlier in the day was still there, although a bit muted. Faded, like a nightmare in the back of your mind once you'd awakened from sleep.
Fatigue overtook the Orlesian, and as soon as she found a nearby tree, she let her weight sag upon it and curled up underneath. In two minutes, she snored soundly. It had been a long, exhausting, and disgusting day, although not bad, all things considered!
Shadow followed Odan through the forrest, dodging trees and bushes whilst doing his best to keep up with the older mage who being an elve had a strange affinity with the area around them which allowed him to breeze through everything that seemed to tried to trip or stretch Shadow. "Hey! Wait up! Don't tell me you plan to take that thing on by yourself!" Not five minutes ago the old mage had claimed he had been betrayed by the Mage Collective; the remains of the Mage Circle that survived the massacre by the legendary Grey Warden. But even that news wasn't much compared to what the powerful mage had discovered. He believed the apostates he had recently killed hadn't not long ago performed an ancient and forbidden spell to summon a monster that had been trapped in the Fade thousands of years ago. The creature was known as the Darkmeld and was infamous for eating mages to absorb their power.
If Odan was correct then the Darkmeld was stalking these woods, and after millenniums asleep was very hungry. This creature even scared the Darkspawn who, according to Odan, Shadow was pretty sure he was wrong, were only in this forrest to hunt this thing and kill it. "I just don't get it," Shadow cried as he got closer to the older elf mage, "How can they summon the Darkmeld. Legend says all the scrolls that even spoke of how they trapped the beast were destroyed. No one even know the name those who performmed the trapment ceremony, let alone how to unleash the beast."
"A scroll seemed to survive and the apostates got a hold of it. But thankfully after spending so much time in the Fade, the beast's body should be weak, atleast for the moment. If we attack it he should be able to force it back into the fade," Odan explained, stopping to look around. "Atleast that's what the Darkspawn and scroll seem to believe. Now if I could just find it..."
"There are alot of if's and should's in that sentence. Doesn't exactly fill me with hope," Shadow pointed out before joining Odan in his visual search of the area. He couldn't believe he just actually joining the Mage in his little witch hunt for this creature of myth. After a few seconds something had caught Shadow's eye. "Hey, maybe she knows!" He suggested before pointing to a young human female who appeared to be sleeping against the side of a tree. The elf and his young human companion approached the sleeping woman. Slowly the elf poked the woman with the edge of his staff, which Shadow thought was a tad on the rude side however it seemed that Odan didn't particulary care.
In the middle of the silent sanctuary that sound sleep brought, the young warrior was suddenly awakened by...someone poking her with a stick? Why, yes, a certain type of stick--a mage's staff! Through the haze of her gummy eyelids and watery, slumber-clouded vision, she made out the outlines of two figures: one with pointy ears and one without. Hmm? Human and elf?
"Who--who are you?" asked Perdante for the second time in less than two hours. "Did you come to find out what happened at my camp earlier? I hope so."
The two Mages looked at each other neither sure which of the two would do the talking. Odan seemed to have decided that he'd let the younger of the two speak, believing that they similiarity of their age help overcome the language barrier that would arise between two groups of strangers. However he did decide to assist by lightly tapping his staff against the floor, causing a light to shine from the top of his staff, revealling the two mages to the woman in their full glory and vice-versa. She asked about her camp, Shadow wondered the problem she appeared to be worried about had anything to do with the Darkmeld, if it did it would be an excellent place to start.
"Well if you're camp was attacked by a giant man eating spider monster, then yes. If not, then no. Why, what happened to your camp?"
The Orlesian maiden could not believe what she'd just heard. I must still be dreaming, she thought. "A giant man-eating spider monster?" she asked, feeling bewildered and incredulous. "I'm afraid no such thing slaughtered my brothers-and-sisters-in-arms. Our camp was attacked by a horde of darkspawn, who are apparently still lurking in this very area! I'd advise you both to watch your step, and as for this other creature...I'm so tired that if it did happen to arrive, it would devour me before I even had the chance to draw my blades!"
Odan's hand reached into a pocket and withdraw a small glass vial which housed a strange red liquid. He took a step forward and knelt infront of the young Orlesian maiden before stretching out his arm with the vial in hand. Odan pittied the young woman, loosing a group of friends and brothers in arms was a pain that Odan knew too well. For someone you knew and cared about to fighting alongside, covering your back and expecting to you do the same before disappear into the afterlife within a matter of seconds wasn't the easiest task to fully comprehend. "This should replenish you're strength in case your encounter the Darkmeld,"
"The giant man eating spider," Shadow interrupted before recieving the hard end of Odan's staff against his stomach, indication for Shadow to shut up.
"I'd recommend if you come across this creature, drink the potion and run for you life. This creature is a known killer and best left for the more experienced mage such as myself...and him," Odan told her, nodding his head toward Shadow who wasn't best pleased he had been referred to as a 'he' in such a manor.
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