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Loric Syntel..A Bards Tale
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Joined: 20 Sep 2012
Posts: 101
Location: Southern usa

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:30 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

The stiff ocean breeze threw itself against the two mariners as they peered out aft on the fast moving sloop. The ship was running full sail to evade a hostile vessel that followed in their wake.

The ‘Sea Witch’ ran west into the setting sun after relieving a small cargo from a pirate cutter. Strangely, the boarded vessel flew a pirate flag, yet was crewed by a contingent of robed and hooded humans. Though the robed ones were outnumbered, they vainly chose to fight to the death. It seemed a curious waste of life; until the ghastly discovery that they were already dead.

The speedy ‘Sea Witch’ was asked to intercept the mystery ship as it made its run toward the Yew waters. The tip was provided by the Reeves Guild in Britain. There was interest in what this ship was transporting as well as any intelligence it carried.

Captain Kate Cervantes was more than happy to assist the guild for several reasons. First and foremost, they paid well. Secondly, she was no friend to pirates, who seemed to be flexing their muscles in an attempt to extend their influence over the sea-lanes. Thirdly, she felt obligated to her old friend, Boston Grey, who headed up the outfit. And then of course there was always the fact that, however deadly it was, she just enjoyed the game.

“The newcomers also fly the skull and crossbones captain, and seem intent on catching you.” The deep voice of first officer Poe reached Kate’s ears. “But I do not understand why they continue to pursue when it is evident they have the slower ship.”

The savvy red headed captain turned her telescope away from the pursuit and studied the starboard side waters. “Because my dear Mr. Poe, they are not trying to catch us. But they are trying to run us toward….There! See!” Kate pointed. “Another sail!…Starboard side!…Coming out of the sun!”

Poe turned his glass right till he saw it. It was another vessel trying to intercept them. “Hell!...It’s a Galleass…armed with a nasty ram…and it looks like archers line the deck!” The first officer looked toward his captain. “Orders ma’am?”

Kate considered her choices. She heard Boston’s voice in her head reminding her not to engage the enemy. ‘We can’t have our eyes plucked out from our head,’ he had firmly said before she embarked. Kate’s eyes hardened a moment at the thought of hightailing it from a battle. She preferred to engage the enemy. She quickly weighed the odds and determined it was a battle with too high a risk.

The written parchment found in the log of the oddly crewed vessel was of paramount importance. It alarmingly spoke of arming more orcs to replace the human crews to support something called ‘The Solution.’ It was signed with a large flourishing ‘C’. She also recovered a small cargo of this weed called ‘kerf’. It may be of use to Boston. No, she would not chance injury to her crew nor risk losing what they’ve already claimed… Not for a bit of excitement. Her mind wrestled for only a split second before barking out an order.

“Thirty degrees port Mister Dewey!...Full sail ye sea rats!!...Make her the wind!!” She yelled the orders with a confident authority that sparked the crew to life. She laughed loudly as they performed with total efficiency. “Come on boys!” she playfully cried, “Lets show them our tail!” She turned, grinned and shook her shapely hips at her crew. They all screamed ‘Aye!’ in unison. It was evident…her crew loved her.

She then lowered her voice and gave Poe further orders. “When the sun goes down…and the sea is dark…send out a lantern raft in their direction and tack us opposite. Put a few cases of those purple cocktails on it…with a slow burning fuse. Let’s give them another choice of what to chase.”

“Very good ma’am.” said Poe. “I shall see to it.” He saluted and walked toward amidships.

Kate took another look through the looking glass and did a few more calculations of time and distance in her head. She figured there was a tiny percentage the pirates could still be following come morning light. She slammed shut the scope and reassured herself that the rogues would have to be very lucky…and the ‘Sea Witch’ would have to be very unfortunate indeed…
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:12 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

Ever since Jolicia recovered the ledger with the mysterious entry, Boston Grey was determined to find the author. The log was from a pirate vessel plundered by Falcon with the aid of Judas and his group. The entry in question, a reference to a secret Abbey cargo, was signed by the ships accountant, one Carter Holmes. Boston sent word throughout the network to find this person of interest.

Rumors were plentiful concerning the man. One claimed he jumped ship, another said he was marked for death by the pirates and still a third swore he was dead already. Then, a breakthrough occurred as a reliable source sighted Carter on Ice Island hiding out from something or other.

Boston decided to send Scarlett to bring him in. Howard was scared of something. Boston needed someone calm and persuasive to convince him to talk. Scarlett was not only well trained in the art of swordplay but she proved to be versatile. She could use charm or wiles to convince him to return to the safe house, the place referred to as ‘The Cottage’. If those avenues didn’t work, she was more than capable of strong-arming him to her will. Outside of Rye‘s advances, Boston had never seen anything unnerve her. She was cooler than ice in the most harrowing surroundings.

As Boston let the bird fly out to Scarlett, he felt certain he had made the right choice of personnel. The bard walked back to this shadowy den in the old theater and chuckled quietly.

Lenore looked up from her reading curiously. “What tickles my bard so this evening?” she inquired.

Boston looked over at his lovely wife with a mischievous expression. “I’m sending Scarlett after a potential dangerous man on Ice Island, and I just felt a sudden worry is all.”

Lenore looked puzzled. “And how is worry for your agent reason to chuckle?”

Boston grinned as he answered her. “I’m not worried for the agent, but I’m a bit worried for the dangerous man I sent her after.” Boston chuckled again. “The poor man has no idea what he’s in for!”
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:50 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

The woman wanted to gasp as she took in the incredible story from the mouth of the ex-pirate accountant Carter Holmes. But she never flinched…nor gave any indication the unbelievable tale alarmed her in the least. She used all her considerable discipline to calmly record his statement with a large, plumed feather pen onto an unrolled parchment.

The agent, referred to as Scarlett by the shadowy Reeves Guild, was in fact horrified as the bizarre tale unfolded with all its unholy terror. Carter had traded his soul for sanctuary and a bottle or two of good brandy. The man figured he had nothing to lose since this monk Castilius had a contract out for his death. Carter had seen the ‘executioner’ in action on others that had lost favor. It wasn’t pretty. The hired thug was thorough and hunted with the persistence of a bloodhound. Carter knew it was just a matter of time before he was a dead man.

“So why doo ye thin’ they’s more orc pirate crews then humans lass!?” asked Holmes.

“Why don’t you tell me Carter…I’ve little patience for guessing games at the moment.” answered Scarlett evenly and without emotion.

“Because lass…” whispered Carter. He moved a bit closer looking around as if to make sure someone wasn’t eavesdropping. “They’s all been taken to that Island.” The man nodded deliberately, his eyes widening like a madman.

Scarlett tilted her head curiously. “What Island?”

“The one thet rises from the depths. It be cursed ahh tells ye. Ahh sees it with me own eyes! It beh all barren and full o’ death. Green with weeds and barnacles…Lifeless as a corpse ahh tells ye!" Carters’ voice cracked a bit as he spoke. He took a large drink of brandy

Scarlett continued to study him a moment before speaking. “And just why a whole crew of hardened men would walk willingly onto this ‘Island of Death’ you describe, seems a bit farfetched to me Carter.” Scarlett squinted her eyes doubtfully.

“Ye ain’t listenin’ Lass!” blurted the man. “Thet monk…he give im thet Kerf weed. Told 'im it was good te smoke. “E said it beh makin’ im relaxed an restful. Well…they all smoked the stuff…and all the human crew gots all lethargic like. It din’t do squat fer the orc members o' the crew. Then…when thet Island raised from the sea…Castilius toll them it was paradise…an they all walked on like sheep.! 'Cept the orcs who could plainly see it was awful. Ahh tried whispering te them that is was not paradise that they’s was seein’. But they’s said it was like heaven and full o women, grog and song.” Carter covered his face with his hands moaning.

“What happened next?” asked Scarlett, still writing coolly.

“Castilius ordered the Captain to sail off.” groaned Carter. “Then…the Island rumbled like thunder…an' sunk under the waves. Ahh hears the screams…” He buried his face in his palms again and sobbed. “It was terrible.”

Scarlett again looked at him curiously. “And why weren’t you smoking this kerf?”

“Because ahh was the only one who could write and cipher. Captain woona let me.” offered Holmes. “But ahh knoes ahh had to jump ship soon. Thet Monk…he knew ahh sees his little box in the hold…the one with the black rocks in it. Ahh knew oolrigh'…cuz he caught meh lookin…Ahh knew he’d send his executioner after meh. So ahh jumps ship the first time we spots land close enough te make a swim fer it."

Scarlett nodded and passed him another bottle of strong brandy. She finished writing the statement and wrote a message to Rye. Before it was done, Carter was snoring on the couch. She looked like she expected this and tied him up securely.

She sent off the pigeon and watched as it began to wing its way skyward. Her thoughts were mixed regarding the tale she just heard. On one hand, she was pleased she was able to get Boston the information he wished.

But one the other hand….a voice in her head warned….that we should be careful what we wish for.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:32 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

The two shadowy forms huddle together studying an old parchment by the dim light of the small table lantern. They spoke in hushed words as they inspected the ancient hand written script. The blond headed man was pointing to a paragraph as the redheaded female followed along with interest.

“You see Aurelia; it says here, the black gate was destroyed by the Avatar himself many years ago.” whispered the bard Loric Syntel to his lovely conspirator, Aurelia, the Countess of Ashencrosse.

“And Boston thinks that this Castilius fellow is planning to rebuild a similar ‘Black Gate’?” inquired the woman.

“Hell if he knows for sure, but it makes for a logical conclusion.” added Loric. “What we do know, is the human pirate crews are being diverted to this mysterious rising Island. It is likely they are being recruited in mass for some sinister purpose. The parallels are strikingly similar to way back when. You had the Avatar hunting a murderer, who left a grisly disemboweled body behind in Skara. The trail led to this cult called the Fellowship, who was secretly preparing the way for some powerful demigod to make an assault on Britain. The vehicle of his arrival was to be this gate made of high grade black rock. Luckily the Avatar destroyed it as the being was trying to enter.”

“You think there will be an invasion?” gasped Aurelia.

“I think the secret lies on this island.” answered the bard. “But there remains the small problem of finding it.”

“Ah…so that is why Boston asked me and Scarlett to find this archeologist.” returned the Countess. “He knows how to conjure up this floating hell.”

Loric nodded. “Yes. But he refuses to speak about it according to our source on the Lycaem. Yet I am told he has a weakness for pretty women.” Loric formed a playful expression. “I sense his silence will soon be a memory after you and Scarlett finish with him.

Aurelia smiled knowingly at Loric. “And what happens after we get him to divulge his secrets to us? You have a plan for this too?”

Loric leaned back in his chair considering her a moment. He noticed the library seemed much less cold and dusty this trip. Her face radiated clear and perfect in the dim glow of the lamp. Her grey eyes bored into him with such magnitude that he was sure they’d leave lines. The bard let himself drown in her graceful waters for a few brief seconds before delivering himself back to speak.

“Then my lovely,” he whispered. “We form our own small army…and go find it…”
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:22 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

The tall ranger studied the monk’s expression when asked about the man called Castilius. An impatient look of disgust formed on the face of Father Alexander, one of the senior monks at Empathy Abbey. Rye Lockman sat across from the abbot sharing some fine abbey wine. He was investigating a man called Castilius, a ‘person of interest’ who claimed to be a member of order.

“That heretic!?” growled Alexander. “We excommunicated him and sent him on his way! He was trouble I tell you!”

“How so?” asked Rye. “Care to elaborate?” Rye sipped the smooth sweet wine with pleasant enjoyment.

“Well. He was much too fanatical for one reason. He kept trying to sway the monks from our established doctrine.” answered the abbot.

“What was his agenda if not the Abbeys?” probed the ranger.

Father alexander pursed his lips. “He kept insisting we prepare for the return of the “One True God, whoever that may be. And he was making the other abbots lazy too. They were not energetic under his watch. They took a lot of rests in the middle of the day…and he encouraged it.!”

“Where is he now?” asked Rye as he drained the goblet and poured a refill.

“I have no clue.” blurted the priest. “He threatened the Abbey saying we would all be sorry before packing his stuff and storming out.”

“Anyone know which direction he headed?” Rye took another large swallow of the savory wine.

“No. He just left by the road out front. And good riddance I say!” announced the friar. “I wouldn’t put it past him to be responsible for that smuggling ring that went on at the prison either. Castilius was always sneaking around at night. He would leave for extensive periods of time too…missionary work he would say! Bah! He was no good!”

Rye finished the last of his second goblet before rising. “One more question Father.” asked Rye, “What was the man’s official duty at the Abbey?”

“Well…he was in charge of the wine making operation.” said Alexander. “Will that be all Mr. Lockman?”

“I think that’s it.” answered the ranger. “Thank you for your time.”

The Abbot nodded respectfully and left the small room leaving the ranger to his thoughts.

Rye considered what mischief Castilius could have caused if not discovered. He wondered about exactly what the man did do while in the order. Then suddenly the ranger had a frightening premonition concerning kerf weed, lethargic monks and wine. He slumped back in the chair with a sick feeling in his stomach. His eyes widened and focused on the empty goblet on the table.

"Ohh rubbish!"
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Genevieve Troyes

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:20 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

Whiskey and Rye

She was in the middle of the Abyss when the pigeon came winging through the air right at her. Genevieve ducked and the goblin standing before her grabbed the bird and ate it. A small laugh escaped her lips at the absurdity of what she'd just witnessed. One swift swing of the axe killed the creature and she bent to pluck the message out of the corner of its mouth.

Genevieve read it several times but it still made no sense. Rye was summoning her to the camp at Yew - something had been compromised. She closed her eyes chanting the spell that would take her to the cold, sterile hall of the abbey. Several seconds later she was riding towards the ruins.

"Rye?' She approached the camp cautiously, calling his name. Her eyes swept back and forth checking for any danger. She stepped through the trees and called him again. Rye Lockman was sitting on a huge fallen branch, staring blankly ahead.

"Rye?" He looked over.

"Oh Gen, there you are!" She smiled and walked over to him.

"You have a beautiful smile."

"Thank you," she blushed slightly.

"I spoke to Father Alex and he said..." the ranger paused, " smell great – like the spring."

"Pardon?" Her eyes widened in surprise. Lockman grinned and tapped the spot next to him. She sat down.

"Gen. Genevieve...Gen...gengengengen..." He said her name twenty more times, slowing it down and speeding it up. "You have a beautiful name too. Have I told you that?"

'Thank you, Rye." She took his hand in hers, her fingers surreptitiously feeling for the pulse in his wrist. It was slower than normal. He stared placidly ahead. "I want you to tell me exactly what you did today, okay? Tell me everything."

"I've been compromised. I have to get to Moonglow. Father Alex," he stopped mid-sentence and slid backwards off the log. His head hit the wall with a dull thud and she grimaced.

Gen pulled him forward again."What did you do today Rye?"

"What was I saying?" He looked up at her blankly. "I spoke to Father Alexander and I had two goblets of the..."

She cut him off. "You drank the liquor from the abbey?" He nodded. "The same liquor that was tainted with the kerf?" He nodded again and she exhaled slowly and stood.

"I had somewhere to go – where was I going?"

"You're not going anywhere except back to the cottage," she stated. He stood up and stumbled forward, she caught him.

"No, I have to get to Glow." He tried to right himself. This was going nowhere fast so she switched tactics.

"Rye, you know that bear rug you have in front of the fireplace, back at your cottage," she gave him her most charming smile.

The ranger responded by yelling, "BEARS! Where?" He tried to grab the bow he thought he had slung over his back. "Where are the bears?" Rye spun around, scanning the woods and crashed into her again.

"There are no bears Lockman, you're coming with me." She held him up with one arm while she fumbled for the runestone in her pack. His face was buried in her neck.

"You know you smell soooooooo good," he slurred.

"Yes, like a spring rain," she answered.

His eyes widened, "H-h- how did you know?"

"Lucky guess." She found the rune and held him tighter as the light engulfed them both and deposited them on the lawn in front of the cottage.

Rye lurched forward. "My stomach.." He waited, doubled over and then straightened. Gen put her arm around his shoulder and slowly walked him up the steps.

Once inside she wrestled him into position in front of the couch and let go. He fell back into the pillows of the sofa. She knelt on the floor in front of him and grabbed the heel of his boot, tugging gently. He was still grinning and saying her name. She reached up to remove his helm and when he leaned foward she quickly unhooked the clasp on his cloak and stood.

'You're going to have a little nap now," she grabbed both his feet and swung them up onto the couch. She yanked, hard, pulling him onto his back.

"I am?"

"Mm hm." He closed his eyes, murmuring. Gen sat on the floor and picked up the book Tracking and Tracks. She flipped through it looking at the different animal prints drawn on the pages. It was going to be a long night.

I wonder if putting him to sleep was the right thing to do? What if he needed something to eat instead, something to absorb the kerf in his body? Genevieve stood and went to see if the ranger had anything in the house to eat. Rye continued to mutter in his sleep. She caught bits and pieces of what he said and a few things she wished she hadn't heard at all.

"Gen?" He gasped and sat up. She turned away from the pot hanging over the hearth.

"You look better. How do you feel?"

'You cooked?" He looked from the pot to her.

"I wouldn't call it that, just stewed apples and cinnamon. It's more of a dessert and I'm not sure how it will sit with your stomach.' She looked into his eyes, the heavy haze in them seemed to have lifted. He was more lucid and less lethargic. She glanced out the window at the growing darkness. His gaze followed hers.

"Somewhere you have to be?"

"A prior obligation, but I can stay with you," she said.

"I'm fine. I have a lot to do tonight: planning, arrangements. Go, if you need to - don't let the door hit you on the way out." He laughed and it sounded like his own laugh again. She eyed his boots. "Oh I'm not going anywhere!" I promise,'" he chuckled.

"I shall see you tomorrow then," she walked out of the cottage into the cool night air and set off for Britain.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:00 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

According to many, there was something grand and adventurous about a sea voyage. The poets wrote of glorious discoveries in the open seas. Bards sung of exotic ports of call with fantastic sight and sounds. Sailors praised the thrill of watching the prow of a ship bully its way through a heady sea, breathing in the salty air and feeling the cool ocean spray on their faces.

One particular tall ranger was not sharing these glorified opinions as he leaned over the rail of the merchant ship ‘Endeavor’ as it headed back to Britain with a load of wool.

“Ye lose ye dinna agin Mr. Lockman?” yelled seaman Greaves as he passed the ranger hanging over the side for the fourth time since launching from Moonglow. “No worries mate! The cooks gots some right nice bloodworm sausage and sour cheese pie for supper! That will fix ye right up agin!” Greaves slapped him on the back encouragingly, and then continued navigating the swaying deck toward his station.

Rye Lockman’s stomach convulsed again and the rest of his dinner found its way into the swirling whitecaps.

Two Days Ago

Callister, a loremaster in Moonglow, was a friend of Rye’s family for many years. The tower that housed the ancient man was dark and dusty. The bookcases that lined the walls were overfilled with literature and manuscripts. Any new additions were placed on one of the random book piles that dotted the stone floor. Rye always hated coming here and hadn’t visited since he was very young. He wouldn’t be here now except for the fact he needed Callister’s expertise on the wine he drank from the abbey; along with a prognosis on his condition from drinking it. He was still feeling a bit subdued and aloof. The ranger cringed as he recalled bits and pieces of his encounter with Genevieve when he was under that strange influence. A lot was lost in the veil, but he remembered just enough to know... that he wished to forget it.

“Loremaster…can I…? Rye was quieted by a simple palm up gesture by Callister. The man didn’t even look up from the scroll he was studying: which irritated the ranger to no end. The lore master had known Rye since he was a child and still retained the distinction as the number two person most able to make him feel stupid. The first honor went to his departed wife.

So the ranger was reduced to staring at his locked fingers and watching his thumbs twirl. He never liked this place. As a child, his father would bring him here while the two discussed the latest in science and magic. Rye always had to be quiet while they disected subjects that held no comprehension to his young mind. The place felt like a morgue, except for the incessant ticking of some foreign device on Callister’s cluttered desk.

Rye had also mentioned Genevieve and touched on her reluctance to rush into anything regarding a closer relationship with him. Callister was looking through some old tomes on herbs as he sat behind his large oaken desk. Rye could barely make out the man’s balding, wrinkled head over the stacks of yellowing manuscripts. Rye wondered why on earth he even mentioned it to the mummified old goat. Nerves….Yes…He chalked it up to nerves. He waited with a bit of anxiety now as the hours passed…and that infernal ticking was still there!

Finally the old man spoke causing Rye to jump a bit.

“Rye…you say it was ingested yesterday?” asked the mage.

“Yes. Most assuredly.” answered the ranger.

“Well. The chances of you changing into some undead zombie is practically nil.” said Callister matter of factly.

“So I overreacted” stated Rye.

“Grossly,” agreed the mage.

“No not grossly!” argued Rye shaking his head.

“Harboring on paranoia I might speculate.” countered Callister.

“Well I wouldn’t go that far!” blurted Rye.

“Hypochondriac comes to mind as well.” added the lore master.

“Did you know my wife by any chance?” Rye said with a bit of sarcasm.

“Mr. Lockman, you shan’t lose your personality, nor grow fangs or excess hair on your extremities. Furthermore, you won’t wake up at night wishing to devour someone.” lectured the mage. “And as for the woman you mentioned, she most obviously possesses the brain betwixt the pair of you and has chosen to use it by showing a bit of patience.”

Callister acted like his usual smug self as he waggled a finger at the ranger. “You were always on the slow side, I remember that about you!” Now, here is your report on that simple hallucinogenic concoction you asked about.” Callister tossed him a rolled scroll. “It's not addictive, but when first ingested, allows for a strong willingness to follow suggestion. That is all…Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

‘Deja Vue?’ thought Rye momentarily puzzled. He had heard that phrase recently…somewhere.

And so it was, with just a wave of the lore master’s wrinkled hand, the ranger found himself suddenly dismissed. His first impulse was to slap the old man silly, but he gathered his discipline and hurried to catch the next ship home.

As he boarded the merchant ship for the sail back to Britain, his mind went to Genevieve and how she helped him through his little ‘kerf ordeal.” She acted admirably twice now when he was in peril. He considered how his brashness had made her fluster, but now realized that the tables were reversed. It was he that was flustered by her.

Rye hoped all of this could be fixed one day, but until then, he begrudgingly resolved that she may have just moved to the top of that revered list….of people most able to make him feel stupid.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:52 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeremiah Jones muttered to himself as he sat in the Cove healer’s house and tried to wrap his own arm wound. He cursed their elusiveness and wondered how on earth they could stay in business while paying customers bled all over their shop. His teeth held one end of the bandage while his other hand slowly wrapped his cut forearm.

Jones had been recovering the lost treasure of a little known pirate named Ned Lowe who buried a chest of considerable worth near the cemetery almost a century ago. The scalawag was chased by the King’s navy all the way from seas south of Trinsic to these waters off Cove. He found himself trapped and decided to bury his cache before he got caught. The navy did catch him alright… but he never revealed where he hid his fortune. He found it difficult to form words while hanging by his neck on the yardarm.

Jeremiah was a professor at the Lycaem, allowing him access to old records and accounts from Sosoria’s past. He discovered the secret of Ned Lowe’s story from a yellowing testimony of Ned’s alleged deck hand, who no doubt was frantically singing to save his own skin.

The cemeteries were much more active than Jones had remembered. The walking dead that sliced into his arm seemed unusually focused on having the archeologist stay awhile. ‘Forever’ was the duration that came to mind. Luckily, Digger, his horse, was having none of this, and ran much faster than the slow moving bones.

As he struggled to stop and bleeding, the Professor noticed the shadow of two figures near him. Jones looked up and smiled as he saw two lovely females flanking him. One, who claimed to be called Kor, helped bandage him up with gentle efficiency. The other, who went by the name Candi, watched with alluring grey eyes as her companion wrapped and flirted. Both were very friendly and attentive, soothing his wounds and his ego to the point where a red flag went up in his head. These two were not common wenches. Candi wielded armor and a weapon reserved for only the most wealthy and skilled. Kor had tattoos all over her and showed undo affection without asking for any sort of coin. No. His instinct told him they wanted something. And it wasn’t his body.

After much conversation, the two came clean. They revealed to the treasure hunter the truth of their intentions. The answer caused his face to pale. They wanted to know the secret of raising the cursed undersea Isle of Corgul, the Soul Taker.

Jones refused at first. He recalled the excitement he felt when he first discovered the awful ritual that called the forsaken place to the light. His intention would be to find the mother lode and retire a rich man. Jones was only a hair of becoming the richest man in the cemetery.

The process required a hazardous trip though the forlorn caves of Covetous. Somewhere in the bowels, there existed a blood red brazier. The device was tuned in some way to the reach of Corgul himself. Blood had to be spilled onto a map of the world alerting the beast to the presence of the one attempting the rite. When Jones tried to complete the task, something grasped onto him. It was a black force that seemed to want to tug his life essence from his body. It took every ounce of his will to break the spell. The effort finally caused him to tumble away and lay shaking against the cold stone wall. When the professor recovered, he held a glowing world map in his hand and a location marked with a bloody red ‘X’. It was the coordinates of the Isle of the Soulless, the very lair of Corgul the Drinker of Life. Jones burned the map then and there. He had experienced, in those previous excruciating seconds, what awaited any who went there. Trading your soul for riches you could never spend was a fool’s bargain.

But the girls were persistent in their request. They presented a larger picture than that of wealth and glory. They would risk the unholy end that Jones warned of to achieve a higher calling. Their only concern was one of purity and righteous resolve. They would sail to that wretched place for only one reason. And it was that plea that finally convinced him to undergo that horrid torture one more time.

They said they wished to go the Dread Isle of Corgul not for their sake…but for the sake of mercy…

Last edited by Loric on Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:23 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:55 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

Maps covered the round oaken table in the shadowy confines of the small study of the Reeves Guild. The blond haired bard Boston Grey studied the topographies with more than a concerned expression. His forefinger traced seaward trade routes near and around Sosoria while he calculated time, distance and risk. A light knock on the door broke his concentration for a moment and allowed him to attend to the dull throb in his head. His hands found his temples to massage down the growing anxiety of the upcoming voyage.

“Come in Loric.” He said softly.

The door creaked open allowing his lieutenant, Loric Syntel, entrance. Loric quietly took a seat next to Boston and a sympathetic smile appeared when he saw how exhausted the chief bard looked.

“You alright Boston?” asked Loric.

“I’m fine Mr. Syntel. It is the rest of the world that has gone crazy.” He uttered.

His words brought a grin to the younger bard’s face. “Well…I am glad to see you can still retain your sense of humor.”

Boston looked over at Loric and remarked in a serious tone. “The sad part is…it may be true.”

Loric sadly nodded in agreement. “You wished my presence M’lord?”

“Yes. And thank you for coming so quickly.” Boston paused for a moment gathering his thought. “I wanted to go over our plans once more and summarize what we do and do not know. I want everyone clear on all facts as well as that which we count only as theory.”

Loric listened and nodded in agreement.

“Let’s start with what we know as fact. ‘Sunfish’, our seaward eye, had discovered that the pirates and some privateers were gathering a strange weed called ‘kerf’.’ This activity was also confirmed when one of ‘Catspaw’s group, Jolicia, found an entry in a manifest looted from a pirate ship. “'Sunfish' also noted that ‘Blackrock’ was being gathered for some unknown purpose. She further testified that the pirate sloop she boarded to confiscate some of this evidence, was crewed by the soulless undead.”

“Secondly,” continued the older bard. “The privateer Captain Davis Moore confided to ‘Sunfish’ that he himself secured a hold full of this ‘kerf’ and was paid well above the normal rates for its delivery. Davis revealed that he was also paid an ungodly amount to sail a box of ‘Blackrock’ to the same destination. The man driving this bargain was one Castilius, who pawned himself off as a member of Empath Abbey in Yew. Captain Moore also swore the man was demon possessed.” Boston looked up at Loric with a bit of concern.

“Thirdly,” added Boston, “Falcon and Scarlett discovered a secret room in the Yew prison leading to a tunnel connected to a great lighthouse near Papua.” It was being used to lure ships to their deaths onto the rocks surrounding the strait. The two agents found that the goods were being taken out under the cover of darkness to waiting coast huggers.”

“A few days later, Falcon and Arrow uncovered the gristly remains of Robert, the agent we sent to poke around the Abbey. He was mutilated in an apparent ritual killing. Falcon found evidence of some sort cult activity that was later learned to be tied to one ‘Corgul’.”

“And finally,” continued Boston. “Scarlett apprehended the author of the manifest secured by Jolicia. This pirate accountant, Carter Holmes, swore that Castilius was taking pirate crews to a mysterious rising Island after being drugged using the ‘Kerf’ weed. Carter also confirmed the fact that ‘Blackrock’ was being carried in the hold. Carter told Scarlett that the 'kerf' didn’t have any effect on the orc crewmembers, which was his explanation for the increase of orc pirate crews recently. The merchants have reported that their human crewmen also have disappeared after a pirate boarding. Carter jumped ship soon after to escape the fury of Castilius, triggered when the accountant peeked at the secret cargo of ‘Blackrock’.”

“Falcon then went to see the head abbot in Yew about this Castilius and found he had been sent packing as a heretic; but not before tainting the abbey wine with “Kerf’.

“Anything else I’ve left out as fact?” asked Boston as he perused his notes.

“Well…” replied Loric “just the fact that Scarlett and Arrow cornered Professor Jones who agreed to secure a map to this Mysterious Island. And of course you know by now, that it is reportedly the lair of some soul taking monster.

Boston nodded gravely.

“So that leads to conjecture.” Boston offered. “And, in a nutshell, this Castilius has a hero worship for this “Corgul’ beast. According to lore, Corgul can take ones soul and render the body to his command. I think he wishes to gather an army and transfer them when ready from this island base to somewhere on the mainland and vice versa. One of the old ‘Blackgates’ of Avatar times could provide such mischief if its secret could be unlocked. I believe Castilius is somewhere mainland working on this cause. My thought is that Castilius was behind the lighthouse incident as well, providing him with resources enough to offer extravagant purses to the privateers. The monks at the winery were to be more victims to this ‘Corgul’."

“And you think he killed Robert because he discovered something?” asked Loric.

Boston nodded sadly.

Loric took a deep breath. “So that leaves us with one lead; a map to a bizarre destination.”

Boston nodded. “Contact ‘Catspaw’ and fill him in. It is time we answered our last questions. Gather all you can…archers and mages might be the best for this. Rumor has it we will need a small army. We can use Moore’s ship as it seems he ‘retired’ for the time being. Look for any evidence of ‘Blackgates’ or references to such on the mainland.

Loric nodded. “I will have Rye head this up. I’ll get on it immediately. Is there anything else?”

Boston thought a moment before shaking his head. He watched Loric turn and leave before slumping down in one of the heavy wooden chairs. His fingers grabbed onto his temples, once more rubbing at the throbbing pain. The bard thought of all the danger he had placed his associates in the past for the betterment of others. They unselfishly went into the breach and, in most cases, returned victorious. This case was a bit different though. It was an uncertain destination, that would not have a real plan until uncovered for what it really was. The 'unknown' factor filled him with trepidation…with doubt…with fear for all of them.

As the bard considered all this uncomfortably at his table, a troubling thought kept gnawing at him. Of all the many places he’d sent them…never before had he commanded them to charge into the jaws of hell itself…

Last edited by Loric on Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:38 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

The warship ‘Widows Revenge’ charged through a choppy sea like a determined bull. A crew of grim heroes was its horns, ready to gore into the wicked obstacle that lay ahead in their path. In this case, the target was one Corgul, called Seeker of Souls.

The gathered men and women aboard the cannoned deck, were all well aware of the deadly costs that may be suffered for this intrusion. Yet they still came. They marched from many different places and varied walks of life to join in a fellowship of righteousness against an abomination of evil. They asked neither reward nor commission, save the destruction of the evil menace that lived under the sea.

Rye Lockman, the ranger from Yew, was charged to organize the expedition. The destination was an Island hidden under the sea and rumored to be full of now nameless souls under the command of Corgul. There was a blood ritual required to bring the island to the surface as well as provide a blood red map to its location. Another brave associate, the archeologist Jeremiah Jones, risked life and limb to secure this critical link. Rye had to give credit to ‘Scarlett’ and ‘Arrow’ for using their unique powers of persuasion to convince the man to assume such a risk.

Rye surveyed the warriors, wizards and archers assembled with a mixture of pride and trepidation. He was proud of their unselfish conviction as well as their sharpened talents. At the same time he feared having their lives taken from them on some unholy beach.

There was the group that the renowned bard Judas D’arc gathered. The lovely and deadly Jolicia was at his side. The pale Nythrax returned with his damaging services along with the mysterious elf woman Faeryl. Another new face to Rye was Anna Evanovich, who spoke with an accent and displayed knowledge in both weapons and cannonade.

Ashencrosse sent Oroboros, another well versed mage who would prove invaluable in this effort. From Yew came Ronnie Van Zant, another bard with extensive cannon and nautical knowledge. Quin joined, surprising Rye with her presence. Rye didn’t really understand this woman whom he’d shared couple of adventures with. But he liked her, and knew that she was very good with her bow.

Also joining was a paladin called Wynn and two more mages, named Dante Darkheart and Jonahs. Rye was unsure of the origin of these three, but welcomed their presence.

Then there was the loner Otis, a fisherman and an acquaintance of Ryes. The ranger was somewhat surprised to see the hermit-like man come off his boat. It was discovered that Otis’ dad and brothers were killed by something resembling Corgul. Later, they would find Otis had ulterior reasons to be aboard.

Rye watched the horizon along with the other brave souls, when the sea began to churn unnaturally. About a half a mile ahead they saw it; a widening part of the swirling waters as something massive bullied its way up through the wake. First to emerge were trees without leaf or life; just dead branches attached to barnacle and lichen covered trunks. The full land followed, dripping water off its back like a beached whale. It was dead ahead and soon to give up its secrets.

The ship ran alongside the floating anomaly as Anna, Otis and Ronnie prepared the cannons with grapeshot. Except for the sea water draining from its wet beaches, the island was deathly quiet. The crew lined the portside rail and stared at a place full of decay and ruin. It smelled like something alive had rotted into putrid fume that assaulted the senses; not only smell, but stung the eyes as well. Ruins dotted the mossy patches scattered around the barren terrain. Nothing moved, including the assault team, as they assessed the cloud slowly forming over it…and them.

The ground suddenly shook as dark shapes emerged from it with numerous ripping sounds. The soulless eyes possessed by these expressionless figures of pity showed neither hate nor love for the combatants as they shuffled toward the ship. The cry for battle stations went up and it was joined; a fight for control of the isle of the damned.

Cannons took out a lot of the first wave. Rye would have liked to lure more to the ship for the same fate, but blood lust took over and the crew charged ashore. It was a bitterly fought roe. Magic erupted in the form of fire and huge entities of power that swept away masses of the undead. Oroboros, Jolicia and Nythrax were the practitioners of much destruction upon the enemy as Faeryl, Wynn and Anna produced shimmering healing magic in a constant array of unselfishness. Jonahs and Dante created masses of charred remains as they performed thier well practiced arts.

Music was heard as the bards Judas and Ronnie weaved tunes that confused and confounded the many mindless walkers. Quin, Rye and Otis, let loose volley after volley of accurate missiles that found timely targets. Soon…the ‘dead who walked’ were thinned and few. It was then…that the bone chilling growl was heard.

The whole island shook suddenly as the huge greenish shape appeared from nowhere. Its sinewy arms and legs were massive in size. Its leathery skin was potted with hardened bumps that grew all over it like some runaway cancer. It's scream penetrated deep inside the most disciplined minds, causing initial doubt and fear. It stomped toward the crew with murderous intent, angered by the loss of its army. Every now and then it would jump and land heavily, creating a ring of fire that covered a large circumference, burning anything in its sphere. Corgul also had the ability to beguile single combatants with a mere gaze. Its beckoning would draw the person to it without resistance. It took great willpower to escape this bargaining.

Eventually…the will of the group turned the tide, along with magic, arrows, swords and blood. The beast made one last chilling scream of anger and disbelief as it entered its death throes. It swung blindly after Quin put two arrows into each eye. It kicked and stomped until the mages covered it in flame and cold silencing it. Corgul swayed twice before slowly falling face first into the sand and was rendered lifeless. A great cheer went up from the victors… It was well earned.

The crew then busily searched for clues to the whereabouts of the mysterious Castilius, a disciple of Corgul still at large on the mainland. Jolicia’s sharp eyes once again found something in the sand. It was a message indicating the ‘secret project’ was underway and only two weeks from final testing. Rye was pleased to accept that from her.

The unstable vibration felt underfoot alarmingly alerted the group it was time to go. With no power to hold it, the isle was going to be reclaimed by the sea. They rushed to the ship just as the waters began to churn. It was touch and go for a while as the great vessel tried to outrun the growing whirlpool caused by the descent of the vile piece of land. Just as the ship began to creak from the massive pull of the sea, it broke away. A joint exhaling of breaths followed immediately.

So that was it…they were safely on the way back to Britain; a bit battered and bruised but thankful. Soon they would be swilling ale and sharing stories of the grand voyage. The same stories that would grow over the months into much more than when first told.

As the ship cut through the waters carrying the joyous comrades, they didn’t see the lone fisher Otis moving quietly toward the back rail. They could not have predicted the revenge that ran through his mind so fervently that it went beyond reasonable thought.

And in their wildest nightmares, the crew’s collective minds could never have conjured the horror that was rising toward them at this an alarming pace….
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:24 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

Otis Lee never forgets...

Endless hours at sea stood as a constant reminder of the tragic ‘incident’. Otis was young then, but the rage inside had conspired to age him faster than expected. It burned and wallowed like a bad whiskey that decided to leave the stomach and run through the veins. He never forgot the cries of his brothers as the clawed giant squeezed the life from them. Nor would he stop remembering his father’s helpless expression of horror at not being able to protect them. And, when the small fishing boat was smashed and broken, his father’s futile but heroic efforts to keep him safe, remained branded in his brain. Otis was flung from the carnage and overlooked by the creature, but the beast would, from that day on, burn within him.

The net Otis tucked away in the hold of the warship “Widows Revenge’ was said to be magical. The hag that enchanted it charged Otis a fortune in fishing commissions to perform the foul rite. When she was finished, the shock of power pulled from places that were better left alone...had turned the net, and a streak of Otis’ hair to white. She said it's sound was now tuned to Charybdis, the one-clawed giant of the sea. The monster would not ignore it.

As the big ship slid past the Vesper coastline on its way to Britain, the crew celebrated a major victory over the demi god’s Isle of the Soulless. Many lost spirits were freed to drift homeward after Corgul’s defeat. Amid the joyous reverie, no one noticed the fisherman coolly dropping a white net over the starboard rail. The net floated downward into an icy sea like a deadly butterfly. It fluttered in the undertow that commenced coaxing the many tiny bells to chime. The hollow, tinkling sounds beckoned and called out like an attractive jig. It drew attention to the many entities that lived in the darkest and deepest fathoms; creatures that were not known for their wholesomeness.

The sea began to bubble minutes later, right before hell broke loose. Tentacles erupted from the sea and wrapped themselves on the starboard rails, listing the ship to the right. The crew quickly responded. Mages flung magic, hot and searing, into the three krakens that sought to bring the vessel under the waves. Arrows from the archers searched out eyes while the paladins chopped at the rubbery lengths that acted like ropes dragging the ship to its grave. The bard songs filtered through the ears of the combatant and inspired them. The same songs reduced their foes will and energy. A huge mottled white leviathan suddenly broke from the sea and towered over the kraken. It wrapped dangerous tentacles around the main mast in an effort to rip the riggings down. The crew answered once again, doubling their effort.

Soon, a cry of triumph went out as the last hold on the great vessel was severed and she righted. The one remaining kraken retreated under the floating remains of its allies. But the cheer was short lived as a heavy thump shook the ship. All mouths went silent as eyes warily scoured the empty sea around them. The quiet was ominously broken by another loud vibration that shook the deck and sent a couple of crewmen sprawling. Rye gasped in horror when he realized that something was dragging the ship toward shore from underneath. They would be grounded soon, like a beached whale. He gave the crew orders to turn against the tide and gather wind aft; but this action proved to only slow the approaching coastline. The scraping noise as the ‘Widow’ ran aground was loud and the sudden stop sent everyone to the deck. As they all regained their feet, their attention was taken to the aft deck, where something large rose from the sea.

It stood up like a giant humanoid with the sea churning about its waist. One large clawed arm slammed onto the rear oaken structure and splintered it. The other hand grabbed the lamp mast and shook the vessel like some bath toy. Its head resembled a giant squid with eyes that bore only hate and a horrid, tentacled beard that swirled in all directions.

Rye ordered all to flee landward, as they wouldn’t stand a chance being dead in the water. The heroes needed no further instruction as they sensed their mortality slipping away on the doomed ship. Everyone jumped and waded ashore just ahead of the killing beast. There they stopped and prepared to make their heroic stand. The creature was up for the task as well and conjured large sea eels that wriggled onto the defenders with a flurry of stinging bites. Once again, the stalwart group found themselves battling a foe that was powerful beyond imagination; and once again, the paladins healed…the mages created a maelstrom, and the bards and archers sang with bow and song.

Soon, a bit of a stalemate formed, as Dante and Jonahs conjured abominations to take the attention of the hulking horror. The Charydbis was hurling life threatening damage to the shoreline fighters in spite of its attention being divided. Jolicia, Anna, Wynn and Faeryl all worked feverishly to keep the combatants on their feet. Rye, Otis, Quin and Judas peppered the fiend with well-aimed missiles but the damage seemed slight. It was only a matter of time before the beast’s immense stamina would outlast the swiftly tiring crew. Even with the finest songs of inspiration the bards could muster up, despair and desperation mounted. And, just as their tired bodies and minds were beginning to falter, an unpredicted precedent of hope appeared out of the gloom.

The ‘Revenge’ slipped from the fogbank, landing squarely broadside of the beast. The starboard cannons addressed it with booming voices. It was Ronnie and the pale Nythrax, armed with both torches and grim determination; they set the big guns off in steady, devastating rhythm. Somehow, they had freed the big ship… and it was this miracle that had turned the tide.

Between the heavy cannonballs exploding into the flesh of the monster and the combined magic and arrow assault, the beast finally succumbed. It let out a horrible last whale-like cry before falling and being claimed by the sea; its body dragged into the bosom of the water's icy embrace.

The group cheered and waved to the two cannoneers, prompting both to perform over-exaggerated, flourishing bows. Everyone exhaled gratefully…except Otis…who was nowhere to be found.

Over the next few months, people would have forgotten the white net, but would still remember the great victory. Otis would be out of their sight and memories. The songs would sing only of the bravery and the stunning effort of the crew that night. And, out in the endless horizon of water and sky, all would have forgotten the lone hermit who sat contentedly with his fishing line patiently seaward.

All would have forgot...except for Otis…because Otis never forgets.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:53 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

The tone of the noble looking man was agitated as he addressed the blond headed Reever in a candlelit chamber of the shadowy Reeves Guild. The voice carried with it an almost pompous air, full of drama as well as a dose of entitlement for good measure. The listener paid solemn attention with a pair of concerned eyes that fought back the urge to roll themselves up into his head.

"Boston, they have become flagrantly brazen since the fall of Corgul and his vile Isle of Souls. The merchant captains are demanding protection on the high seas or they threaten to cease all shipping operations indefinitely. We cannot entice enough of them to sail...even with double the fees," continued the worried merchant lord, "and demands for the few cargos that manage to make a port are driving the prices so high that the economy shall surely collapse!"

Boston Grey listened to the high merchant Aethelstain's concerns with a disconcerting shake of his head. It wasn't because he didn't believe the man's concerned tale, but it was more a display in the vein of ‘what’s next?! '

The merchant’s guild was truly a typical gathering of spoiled nobles. First they wanted the smuggling ended, then the sabotage from the lighthouse to cease. This was followed by demands to stop their crews from being shanghaied which led to cries of the destruction Corgul. All this was done without as much as a thank you from this ungrateful bunch. They figured their money was thanks enough and, in some ways, it was; but their incessant demands were starting to outweigh the color of their coin.

Now the head Bard had to suffer the theory that the pirates without leadership are running amok. And without an iron hand to hold them in check, the corsairs have decided to capitalize on the situation by plundering the shipping lanes in force.

The Reever stared quietly as the merchant's story was unloaded on a mind that was already overtaxed. At some point in the exchange, the noble and his voice faded away and was replaced by an image of Lenore...She was standing under the cool shade of a willow tree...A gentle breeze swished her brown hair giving her a wild beauty that complimented her subtle smile. All around her was a quiet stillness that all but screamed out to him. Lenore beckoned the bard with a slow curl of her index finger...Her head lowered a bit as her jade eyes rose up to meet his with a sensual expression.

"You don't have to do this Boston," her sweet words weaved into his consciousness, "We can go away.....retire...You don't have to do this...."

"You have to help us find some solution!" spoke Athelstane. The merchant's visage shooed away the lovely fantasy effectively bringing Boston back to the present. "Have you any ideas?"

The reever slowly paced the room thinking before turning his gaze toward the noble.

"I always have ideas," answered Boston with a touch of sarcasm. . "Isn’t that what you pay me for?”

Boston already had a lead on Casilius and planned on sending Falcon and Scarlett to flush him out. He saw no urgency in this as the group needed time to heal from the Corgul assault and Casilius no longer had an army at his disposal.

"Well, what is the answer this time?” queried the merchant lord. “We cannot be held hostage by these thugs! We must formulate some plan...something to at least shed a bit of hope on the mariners."

"It is time to teach these sharks that even a merchant can return a bite.” answered Boston

The blond bard rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "We must first separate the ships, and then lure them out singly to where they can be taken to the bottom of the cold sea.”

A look of curiosity filled the eyes of Athelstane. "How in blazes do you propose to lure the monsters from their comfort of numbers?"

Boston turned to Athelstane and paused before speaking.

"We shall use a medium that you and your associates are very well versed in my merchant friend,” spoke the bard flatly. “Greed”

“Yes…Greed…” added Boston, “along with a much bigger monster…and much smarter.”

Last edited by Loric on Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:02 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

No one really knew where Jimmer came from. The Halfling simply appeared one day at Sunny and Loric’s apartment in Ashencrosse. Sunny took to him immediately…as if they had been friends all their lives. There was no questioning why….It just was. The two were inseparable after that, and were frequently spotted scurrying together through town like two chattering chipmunks. They never walked, but ran everywhere, like two wide-eyed children after some exciting discovery. But a bit of mischief existed in them as well…especially concerning pies….

“Quiet Jimmer!...Ye gonna give us away!”

“Ow...Sunny your foot’s diggin’ inta me shoulder!...Ow!...OW!”

“SHHH!....It ain’t thet bad ye big baby!...I’m almost reachin’ it!”

“Ain’t no baby neither!”

“Then stop ye cryin’…I almost…GOT IT!”

The blond Halfling female jumped down off the male Halfling’s shoulders bearing a freshly baked pie; a tasty confectionary that was formerly cooling on Raine’s window sill.

“Quick, Jimmer…around the back of the stable! Let’s go!...Run!”

“Right behind ye Sunny!!” grinned Jimmer as he ran and simultaneously rubbed his sore clavicle.

The two giggling halflings circled around to the rear of the building before settling down behind a large wooden rain barrel. Sunny Snowdowns, the young ward of Loric Syntel, placed a large pie on the ground between her and her accomplice, a Halfling named Jimmer. They knelt on either side of it, staring admiringly at the confection.

“Ain’t it a beauty Jimmer!!?...Ah toll ye Raine leaves ‘im there all the time!” blurted Sunny with a huge grin.

“Maybe she doon wan ‘im!?” added Jimmer nodding.

“YUP!...I think so!...Prolly got too many ‘o them!” added Sunny. Did ye sees the sign in the window?”

“Yup!...Seen it…Wut ye thin’ it said?” asked Jimmer curiously.

“Think it said ‘Free Pies’…but…ahh doon read so well Jimmer” admitted Sunny just before her eyes narrowed. “An if ye breath a word of thet te anyone, ahh be kicking ye shins in good!...Ain’t lyin neither!” grinned the diminutive female.

“Doon worry…Ahh be real good with secrets” reassured Jimmer. “Hey!...Wut kinda pie is it?...Looks like red berry!!”

“Let’s find out!” laughed Sunny.

That said, two kneeling Halflings dug their small hands into a very large raspberry pie. Soon after, they were both covered with the sweet red filling. They ate with very large smiles on their faces, occasionally commenting on the fine quality of their find, like two expert confectioners. So enthralled they were with the task at hand, that they failed to see the shadow loom over them till it was too late.

Raine stood over them with a rolling pin in one hand and the window sign in the other. She was a petite woman wearing a white red-stained apron and a stern expression.

“Well well…and just WHO might be the two little pie thieves we have here?!” accused Raine while staring at them with menace.

The wee ones looked suddenly startled. Their pie filled mouths dropped open revealing red stained teeth. For a second there was excruciating silence. The halflings stared up wide eyed for a few moments before both of their pie covered mouths spoke as if in stereo.

“WASN’T US!” they denied in unconvincing unison.

“Oh??!” answered Raine, a bit amused. “And I suppose those aren’t YOUR hands sticking in that pie huh?...Must be someone else’s?!”

Jimmer and Sunny looked at each other guiltily and impulsively pulled their hands from the pie, hiding them behind their back. “Umm…er…ahhm…hands?...Umm…stammered the two.

“And of course since those pie stained teeth couldn’t be yours either…you won’t mind if I knock them out with this here rolling pin…Do ye?” asked the woman sarcastically.

“Alright…Alright!...We give up!” cried Sunny. “Ye got us! We ate the pie…but we dint steal it!...We…ummm…Borried it!!!...Yea!..Thats right…Borried!...Ain’t that right Jimmer?!

“Yup…and it wuz real tasty too!” confirmed Jimmer. “We thought the sign said ‘Borry this pie!’

Raine stared at them trying not to laugh as both the Halflings were covered head to toe in filling.

“Ye mean this sign?” asked Raine as she waved the sign from the window at them. “Can’t read huh?”

“Jimmer looked at Sunny then to Raine and shook his head confirming the fact.

Sunny squinted her pie stained eyes at jammer. “Ye ratted me out already!!” Ye lil squeeler!!” said Sunny accusingly.

Jimmer shook his face back and forth vehemently denying this. Pie bits flew left and right. “Did not!!...I never toll her!!..She guessed!”

“Stop it you two right now!” Raine raised her voice effectively silencing the two bickering culprits. “Let me read to you what this sign says.”

Raine then pointed to each word as she read to the Halflings. “Take…what…you…need…Please leave berries…salt…sugar….or flour…only fresh...when you have a chance… Complaint department is open from 11:59 to 12:00pm on the fifth Sunday of every month.”

Sunny looked puzzled before speaking out. “Hey!...Ain’t five Sundays in a month! Is there Jimmer!!”

“Nope!...Ain’t!” snorted Jimmer.

“Nevermind that!” said Raine. “It’s the rest of it I want you to focus on! You two ate my fine berry pie, but didn’t leave anything behind so I could bake another one. IF you insist on taking pies from my window…HOW then, am I to replace it…so you can continue to ‘find’ these lovely baked goods?”

The two little thieves stared blankly at Raine trying to digest what was being presented. There again was quiet as the three stole looks from one to the other.

Finally, Jimmer seemed to grasp a bit of what was going on. “Ah thin’ she woons us to get ‘er more berries” he offered looking at Sunny.

“Duz?!” said Sunny still a bit mixed up.

Raine smiled at Jimmer encouragingly.

“Yup!… I thin’ she LIKES te make pies fer us te borrie. But she doon like it when we doon bring her stuff te makes more.” announced Jimmer.

Sunny looked taken aback before a light went on. “She WANTS us te take these pies ye says?...OHHH…I gets it now!...She aint really mad….She just wants ta make more pies!!!? solved the Halfling girl grinning.

“Yup…Ahh thin’ thet be it Sunny.” agreed Jimmer.

Well maam…We be getting ye some berries right away!” grinned Sunny while she saluted with two fingers. “Now we knoes the procedure!”

“You will address me as Raine…ALWAYS Raine, and don’t forget it!” scolded the woman. “And don’t forget to stop in for some nice homemade cider when you come back with the berries.” She winked at the two then went back to feinting anger. “Now get a move on and gather my berries!”

Sunny and Jimmer almost crashed into each other in their hurry to scurry off to the berry field. They saluted and bowed numerous times as they made their escape to gather.

Raine smiled as she watched them disappear down the path. She sighed contentedly as she walked toward the gate to see Grummel at the cottage. Her thoughts were simple and clear today. She laughed to herself over the fact that she would apparently be making a lot more pies this season.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:33 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

The morning light crept steadily toward the sleeping woman as she lay in the large, pillowed filled couch. As the sun finally found its range and bathed her in its early warmth, a few foreign projectiles were also competing to acquire accuracy. Kate Cervantes slept through a near miss that thudded softly only a foot from her pretty head.

She needed to wake up, but so far wasn't responding. Boston had sent word to Davis that is was time for him and Kate to put the scare of god into the ever growing pirate scourge. The plan was simple; plant some misinformation about a rich, unescorted merchant and wait for a greedy pirate captain to break formation and go for the prize. Kate and Davis were not new to this game, and were quite willing to play the role of the ‘monsters’ that Boston had alluded to.

Both were so excited for the opportunity, that they imbibed a bit too much in celebration the night before. Davis had to admit, Kate hadn’t been too incapacitated to perform before she fell into her comatose state; a memory he would always cherish. The captain shook her and made loud noises, but this hadn’t worked to revive her. They had a boat and a tide to catch, and since both were slipping way, another more drastic method was called for.

Davis growled quietly to his imaginary cannon crew, "Take 'er back one foot men! We got 'er now!" His hand rummaged through a bag and pulled out another soft projectile. He carefully aimed and sent it flying in a high arc. He watched as it bounced gently off her lovely nose. "Glancing blow sir!" he said to himself completely amused.

Kate rubbed her nose in her sleep and curled up again contentedly

Another round was prepared between the finger and thumb of the grinning cannoneer, and this time he let it go in a perfect trajectory.

A grape thudded off Kate’s forehead and bounded away among the several others scattered near her head. Her green eyes flashed open.

"Direct hit sir!" said Davis barely audible. "Better pull back now. She’s wounded and may charge!!" Davis slipped the bag of grapes behind the desk he leaned against. He grabbed the quill next to him and feinted to be innocently writing.

Kate never moved anything except her eyes. They waggled back and forth as if looking for some tiny intruder to her pleasant dream.

"Time to rise my dear." Davis' soft voice reached her ears causing her oculars to suddenly stop dancing. She seemed a bit disoriented as she sat up trying to focus on the sea captain writing at the desk. Then, a small smile appeared on her face.

"Let's go sleepyhead...We have a boat to catch...Can't let the crew see you like that!" He pointed to her half-dressed form.

Kate looked down curiously to see she was barely covered. Her eyes widened and a blush replaced the smile. She grabbed the blanket and quickly pulled it up to cover herself. "Why am I without proper clothes!!?" Her eyes squinted at Davis, "You didn't take advantage of this lady while she slept this morning did you?!" Her tone was playfully accusing.

"Why no M'lady Cervantes...I was a perfect gentleman... this morning....."

"Pity! Seems you had your chance and choose not to recognize it!" she said sheepishly.

"But as for your tussled appearance," added Davis, "I can explain that to the lovely lady.... if she so wishes of course". He looked over at her with a twinkle in his eye.

Kate tilted her head feinting great curiosity. "Pray tell Mr. Moore as I would so like an explanation to this mystery."

" Well” proceeded Davis “that very spot is where M'lady chose to collapse last night after she cruelly molested this seaman to the point of abuse," mused the captain in fake alarm, "And... after having her way...discarded him like some used up mule. It may have left this seafarer with permanent emotional scars!" Davis nodded like a true victim.

"And were there any physical scars?" queried the amused Kate.

"No M'lady...It seems the body was unscathed and free of wounds."

"Pity again", she smirked "I must try to do better next time."

Kate was making herself presentable when she noticed the grapes scattered around where she slept. "Davis? Do we have a grapevine among all these lovely plants?" Kate looked suspiciously around for a vine as she asked the question.

"Umm...I think we do my Love" blurted Davis before quickly changing the subject. "I must splash my face in the bath right now. I will look into plants later for you my Sweetness. I mustn't be dull witted from sleep you know!"

"Davis my dear man....everyone knows you are NOT dull witted." Kate folded her arms eying him suspiciously.

The captain almost felt badly for pelting her now.... after such kind words of support she spoke for him.

“No my love” she smirked..."You are as sharp as a plank!!" Kate grinned at him.

Davis grinned back and shook his head as he headed for the bath...wondering how such an insulting woman could endear him so....
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:27 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

The ranger glanced at the pigeon that had just landed by his side in the Yew campsite. He already surmised it was bearing instructions from Boston Grey. The Reeves guild still wanted this Castillius apprehended to appease the merchants. The head of the Reeves didn’t deem it a priority, partly due to the fact that this person no longer wielded the power to be a threat. Boston also felt his small, overtaxed crew needed some time to heal and recover their wits.

Rye Lockwood hesitated to read the note and looked up into the grey fall sky instead. The ranger had been away from all human contact for a month now and thought this note could wait a few more hours. Inside, he was almost to a place he could live in. His struggle hadn’t included pirates, orcs or wayward priests. It was simply a case of deciding which road his heart would travel. But inevitably, as in most matters of the heart, things that might seem simple become complex. When feelings and emotions begin to dance around fact; the image blurs. Love tends to give benefit when none has been earned. It has urges to see things that aren’t really there. Love distorts and confuses the judgment, clouds the clarity of mind and overlooks the truth of the matter.

The truth was that Rye Lockman was ready to move on after ten years of depriving himself the love he deserved. The ranger suffered had through a decade of guilt and pain from the death of his wife and wanted to feel again, both physically and inwardly, the love of a woman. Unfortunately, the woman he loved was not in love with him.

Genevieve was his partner on a few missions involving the events around the Corgul matter. She was bright and capable and Rye had taken to her immediately. He let himself become attached in spite of clear signals that she just wasn’t interested. Loric saw it clearly though and tried to warn him that unrequited love is a foolish path to tread. But …love distorts. Rye thought maybe patience would be the answer; even when she would flee from any semblance of closeness. It is very hard to see beyond your heart’s whim…unless you find something to compare.

Quin was the archer recommended to him to take on as a crewmember for the acquisition of a pirate lord. She was interesting and unique; all painted up like a mime. She held things from him and gripped some sort of disgust for herself, the same way he had for many years. She hid behind flattery and flirt and white greasepaint. Yet Rye saw her clearly…for she was kindred to him in spirit. Souls that are broken know others that have been shattered. The knowledge is in the gesture…the words...and the insecurities that they cover. Rye felt strangely calm around her and liked the way she made him laugh. The ranger realized in the last mission they shared, that he was actually having fun.

It was this fact that lead him to question his heart and he saw a striking difference. Quin was encouraging closeness in her flirty way while Genevieve shrunk from any mention of it. It was becoming clearer that Genevieve just didn’t feel what Rye did. Love is something that can’t be helped or forced… either it is…or it isn’t. Rye sensed it wasn’t in her heart…so he would have to let her go from his. Rye could not act in good conscience with another till these feeling were gone.

The ranger took the note from the pigeon and read what he already knew to be true. It was time to get Castilius and make him pay for his trouble. Rye doused the fire and gathered his bow and equipment. He would make for the destination mentioned, feeling fresh and with new resolve. He realized he would always have a soft spot in his heart for her, but it would not consume him anymore.

Saying goodbye was always bittersweet to him… and still was. And, as he left the Yew wood toward the city, he swore her heard Genevieve's nightingale call…It was sweet and clear. It lingered and echoed though the pines a few moments… before disappearing gracefully from his mind….and his heart.
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