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 Counting Bodies Like Sheep, [Open]
ravenimage
Posted: Apr 15 2011, 06:41 PM


Duster


Group: Refugee
Posts: 15
Member No.: 28
Joined: 8-April 11



He was here again.

Truth be told, she’d known for several days. The Arlathvhen was over. Clans were coming back to the Free Marches. And for the witch, as the Chantry described her, that meant it was hunting season. But what truly gave away her quarry's presence was the confluence of corpses in front of her. Naked feet carried her across the pearly beach floor as she surveyed the brutal vision. By the look of them she surmised they had been merchants, but a second glance caused her to halt.

On a side of the massacre there lay a little girl on her belly. Maeve gazed at the body in faint horror, a surge of guilt permeating her senses as she watched the child’s flaxen hair shudder in the breeze. With reluctance, the young mage took a step towards the body, and then finally approached it. She knelt beside the girl and turned her over, sighing at the result. Dead like the rest, as she suspected. In spite of the terror she must have felt in her last minutes, the child held a look of peace as if she were mocking that fear.

A few moments later, the mage had all the corpses gathered into a small, conclusive pile. She gently placed the child on top with small hands crossed delicately over her chest. A word of the elements danced on her tongue as she summoned fire to the palm of her hand, an orb of flame that burned away the dark. With a look of sorrow the mage caressed the child’s pale sunken face, and her flaxen hair lit aflame, starting the fire that now burned the corpses from the world. A human burial practice, but the witch was not so sentimental.

A spirit could not violate a corpse if it did not exist. Demons could not find their way into the world without a host. One was enough for Maeve. As she turned on her bare heels, the witch looked ahead, across the dark crests of rock and hill that occupied this particular roadside of the Wounded Coast. The pile of rapidly burning corpses glared like a beacon in the coming night. Maeve departed slowly, not wanting to draw attention from any who might see it. And perhaps she wanted it to be seen. “I smell you, Father,” she muttered bitingly under her breath. “Where are you?”
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Yarik
Posted: Apr 16 2011, 09:21 PM


Bianca, you minx! That was beautiful!


Group: Creators
Posts: 107
Member No.: 2
Joined: 10-March 11



"We shouldn't be out this far."

That was Costan, always the worrier. This time he was correct, as he often was. The pair were well beyond the normal bounds of where a chantry mage was permitted to travel outside of Kirkwall, and the punishment would be wholly his if any of his superiors found out. Fortunately, Eldric, like any of the other Collared mages, had been properly vetted, and had no desire to shake off his bonds and run off into the wilderness.

"Camp fires don't burn that brightly, Costan. What if someone is trying to signal for help?" Eldric said, his voice shaky beneath labored breaths as he climbed to the top of a steep hill between himself and the ascending ladder of smoke beyond it. They had both spotted the bright light of the fire from afar, and had misjudged its distance, otherwise they might have returned to Kirkwall and informed someone else of it.

Costan trailed behind, his heavier, studded leather armor weighing him down more than Eldric's padded robes. The handlers of the Collared Mages usually wore lesser armor than the other templars, who were expected to carry out a more varied range of tasks. A piece of leather enchanted to resist magic was just as effective at doing so as a piece of metal with the same enhancement, if not more-so because of the versatility it gave its wearer because of its lesser weight.

The question posed to Costan went unanswered, but it was rhetorical anyway. Instead, the templar smelled deeply the air and grimaced. "Maker's breath. I know that smell."

"What-" Eldric began, before he figured it out himself. As he crested the top of the hill, he could see quite clearly that the fire was fueled by a neat stack of bodies, each burned to a blackened, humanoid crisp. Costan scanned the horizon for movement as he topped the hill, while Eldric stared at the pyre, walking slowly towards it.

"Bandits?" Eldric suggested. Costan shook his head, but he was behind the mage, who didn't see. "Bandits don't burn the dead. Assassins, maybe, to hide their trail, but I'm no expert on them."

"Well... what do we do?" Eldric asked. Unable to spot anything from on top of the hill, Costan followed Eldric to the pile. "Go back to Kirkwall. Tell the Knight-Captain. Be reprimanded for bringing you outside your bounds."

Eldric looked sternly back at Costan, who shrugged. "They're dead. Unless you feel like putting out the fire and digging them some graves, there's nothing for us to do."
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ravenimage
Posted: Apr 17 2011, 05:54 PM


Duster


Group: Refugee
Posts: 15
Member No.: 28
Joined: 8-April 11



user posted image


“A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it.”

– George MacDonald


Eldric and Costan were not the only ones drawn to the pyre or the reeking odor of burning flesh, though Maeve had not expected a templar and his ward to journey this far into the coast. Unbeknownst to them, she watched grimly as they appraised the fire and decided what to do next. It was nothing personal that they walked into the trap she prepared but alas, they did, for nothing was as tantalizing to a hungry animal as live bait.

A deep rumble resounded from behind Eldric and Costan. A beast emerged from the dark as its form was illuminated with the light from the fire. Not a wolf or a man, but an imposing creature of about seven feet, covered in an armor of thick coiling muscle. Dark fur caressed the blood red sores and putrefying corruption jutting out from the abomination’s hellishly disfigured body. And from the mangled remains of a human face, crazed eyes observed the “prey.” Talons clicked. It split apart its grisly jaw and unleashed a loud, unnatural roar at the collared mage and his templar. But as it was prepared to attack them, someone else had other ideas.

At last the witch leaped out from her hiding place. Woman had become wolf, and had watched the men in this way from within the shadow of a boulder on a nearby hill. Now she ripped across the beach on four legs and once close enough, she pounced and sank her teeth into the tender flesh of the abomination’s neck, only to be flung off as the demonic creature grasped her by her hackles. Blood rained from its neck. The wound gushed, and the abomination roared in pain.

The wolf peeled her lips away from her fangs as she regained her footing. Canines dripped with blood. Large feral eyes watched the abomination as it lamented the wound she gave it, and she hung her head low in predatory stance. She emitted a low snarl, and the abomination returned it. The sound was gruesome, and in a voice no mortal could have.
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Yarik
Posted: Apr 19 2011, 02:30 PM


Bianca, you minx! That was beautiful!


Group: Creators
Posts: 107
Member No.: 2
Joined: 10-March 11



Costan was quick to draw his sword when a creature emerged from the wild background, both man and wolf and yet neither simultaneously. Eldric's knuckles went white about his battle staff, and his mind raced as he thought how best he might kill or disable whatever the beast was.

Before either of the two could act, a wolf flung itself from a hidden place and at the taller beast, and the two wrestled for a few moments, tearing at each other with bent claws and a ferociousness beyond human capability.

The wolf gained some kind of upper hand and tore at the wolf-thing's neck, and thick gouts of ichorous liquid spewed from the wound. Seeing an opening, Costan rushed forward and swiped at the beast with his sword. The blow connected with its leg, but barely pierced the monster's hide. Perhaps reflexively, the creature bent its leg, and its knee caught Costan in the chest and knocked him to the ground a few feet away.

Eldric had wanted to wait and ensure that if they entered the fight, they entered on the correct side, but Costan had forced his hand. Aiming for its neck, Eldric drew together a ball of fire and flung it with as much force as he could muster, then dove into a roll towards where Costan had fallen, and was now struggling to re-orientate himself.
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ravenimage
Posted: Apr 19 2011, 06:56 PM


Duster


Group: Refugee
Posts: 15
Member No.: 28
Joined: 8-April 11



The abomination buckled, and howled in frustration at the defiance of its prey. The sound ached in its blood-wet throat, and in the pain, it fell on all fours and started cleaving the distance between itself and the fallen templar. But before it could claim Costan, fire crashed into the monster’s thick hide. An unearthly, near-human scream erupted from the depths of its belly as it twisted in agony and collapsed to the ground, fire slowly searing flesh and fur.

“Insolent prey! Your screams will ring when I sever the flesh from your bones!” It growled furiously with what was left of a quivering human mouth, the voice an echo of a hundred voices; a voice from the Fade. And in that moment, it shot a glance at the she-wolf, whom had watched from afar and sauntered with strange confidence towards the monster. “Deception,” it hissed as it gazed into the animal’s amber eyes. “Treachery, subterfuge! I should have known it was you!”

Still on fire, the abomination writhed until it was on four legs. And just as quickly as the battle had begun it was over, for the creature sped into the night—into the darkness like a torch with a speed unmatched except perhaps by a horse at full gallop. The she-wolf started after it, but yelped in pain and sank into the sand. Her hackles were punctured; blood caked her fur, and the impact from when she met the ground had injured her leg.

She gazed into the darkness where her quarry had fled, with a longing unusual for a mere beast of the land. Unable to do much except walk, the wolf turned instead towards Eldric and Costan. Her teeth still bared, she could have left. It would be simple enough to do it, and they would be none the wiser to her true form. But she did not.

The wolf stopped short a few feet from the men. Her head jerked downward, and the sand burst as her paws jutted out and grew in length. Her body twisted and altered unnaturally. The dark fur on her body receded and became as pale, smooth flesh, and long flowing hair that fell on human shoulders. Wolf became woman again. The witch stood on two legs before the templar and his charge, clothed in nothing more than rags hanging from her delicate features. And if not for her tall stature and round ears, one might guess she was an elf for the pronounced bridge of her nose and her narrow build.

She reached down into the sand and pulled up a black three-headed staff. “Thank you for your timely presence, and for your help,” she offered in a dark, low monotone as she dusted off the staff. “I do wonder, however: are you not out past your curfew?” The inquiry is directed at the mage, but there was little to go on that implied she meant it as anything other than passing sarcasm.


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Yarik
Posted: Apr 22 2011, 12:19 AM


Bianca, you minx! That was beautiful!


Group: Creators
Posts: 107
Member No.: 2
Joined: 10-March 11



The dust covered Costan's back when he had returned to his feet with Eldric's help, but he didn't move to brush himself off. His eyes were locked firmly on Maeve, the grip on his sword still tight, though he held it down towards the ground.

"Your name, aposta-" he began, but Eldric elbowed him in the side and gave him a look of earnestness, one which Costan was happy to return.

"The confrontational thing never works. Isn't it nice to meet a mage who doesn't want to kill us? S can we just try and keep it this way?" Costan grumbled, but sheathed his sword in its case at his side.

Quietly impressed that he had disarmed Costan for the time being, Eldric turned to Maeve, a small smirk creeping at the edges of his mouth, barely visible beneath the crimson mask attached to his face.

"We should probably be thanking you," he said, with a nod of his head, "Costan and I are sadly inexperienced when it comes to fighting massive slobbering wolf beasts."

Costan crossed his arms and stared intently at Eldric, who decided to ignore him.

"My name is Eldric. You've probably guessed that his name is Costan." He gestured to the templar before continuing, "I noticed you changing shape there. Where'd you learn that?"
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ravenimage
Posted: Apr 22 2011, 12:56 AM


Duster


Group: Refugee
Posts: 15
Member No.: 28
Joined: 8-April 11



The witch smirked at the interaction between the two. She crossed a pair of delicately lined arms under her breasts and observed them with mild fascination. It had been some time since she had ‘company’ and she had less experience than she cared to admit with their kind.

“My, is it the mage who wears the leash… or the templar? I can never remember these days,” she reacted naively, if a bit snide. “You may call me Maeve, shem.”

Promptly turning in the direction the beast had fled, she stalked across the sand and came to the spot where blood had spilled the most. Taking out a small glass vial from a makeshift pocket in her garments, she bent a knee and scraped in a mix of blood-soaked grains.

“There is more magic in the world than is learned in books,” she answered Eldric simply. She didn’t owe him an explanation, especially not in the presence of a templar.

She held the vial up to her eye and spat into the mixture, saliva dripping in to meet the rest of the contents. She rolled them around for a few moments, corked it and returned it to its respective pocket.

“You both look tired,” she said, looking at them again with wild eyes that seemed to fail to change as she did. “Come, rest. I will build a fire—without corpses this time.”
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