Runboard.com
You're welcome.
SAMPLE BANNER




runboard.com       Sign up (learn about it) | Sign in (lost password?)

 
Valyndyral Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user

Registered: 01-2010
Posts: 30
Reply | Quote
Something Dark Awakens, in the Deep Woods.


Co-Written by ValynDyral & theintrepidgnome.

For the first time in what felt to him like years, the morning wasn't quiet. Some upstart would-be heroes were roaming through town, declaring that they were going to solve every problem the people of the village ever had - for a price, of course. Terence, a halfling farmer of some small reputation as a "man of the land," held firm to the naive notion that he'd be unbothered in the sudden bustling activity that had been forced upon his previously so peaceful home. It wasn't with a joyful disposition that he met the arriving adventurers.

They came bumbling up the path to his home. One stood well over six feet, dwarfing the little farmer by double his height. A greatsword was fastened across his back. Another was a fiery-haired young girl, full of passion and gloating about her supposed skills in archery, the not-so-musical sound of her voice filling the air around her as the trio approached. The third appeared to be the quietest and therefore the most tolerable, between the ages of the girl and the swordsman by his face. He wore a robe and carried a tome clutched to his chest. They all made their way up to the halfling, standing and sizing the small farmer up with all the arrogance that Terence had come to associate with strangers, with foreigners.

They didn't so much ask him as tell him. Something about an old prophecy or some ancient event. There was familiarity to it, a time-torn fable about a prince carved in stone, something along those lines... The halfling knew of it and said as much. He even mentioned that he knew just where such strange stones might be within the woods surrounding his peaceful pastoral home. He cursed himself a moment after when those adventurers told him they needed him along, a guide through the woods. Cursed himself and the reputation his big mouth had earned him. If he hadn't needed the coin so much, he wouldn't have plucked up his walking staff and agreed to lead them off.

The fields gave way to a pleasant forest of scattered beech and ash. It was a journey of perhaps a day and a night to the deepest part of the forest, where this stone prince was reputed to lie, or sit, or whatever the case might be. It was just a rumor, in any case, though the foreign adventurers, in their pomposity, treated it as some grand adventure. The trees began to thick and crowd closer together as nightfall neared.

“You’ll want to watch out,” the halfling cautioned, his voice light. Some part of him didn’t take this venture so seriously. It was an inconveniently timed walked through the woods to explore some old, half-forgotten tale from his childhood, regardless of what these “heroes” though it might be. All the same, he didn’t wish them any harm. “There’ll be wolves out soon enough. And not the feeble sort you’re perhaps accustomed to. I trust you’ve all brought along a spring of monkshood?”

“What’s that?” The one with the greatsword was first to ask, though from the look on the brag-happy girl’s face, she wasn’t quite aware either. Rather than explain, the weary farmer merely sighed, removing a few satchels from his pockets and dispensing them among the adventurers. Deep down, he knew this was going to end with a catastrophe, though some dwindling little aspect of hope - and a promise for payment - kept him marching on.

Eventually it grew too dark to carry on. The trees pressed in now almost oppressively, as though resenting the intrusion. This part of the wood hadn’t known an axe in years, perhaps it never had. The dense canopy blocked out the stars entirely, and if the party had lacked the foresight to arrange for a fire beforehand, they would have found themselves entirely stranded in the darkness.

Thankfully, the adventurers weren’t so inept as to not realize the significance of the dark. It was the would-be wizard who declared camping would be their best option for the evening. The swordsman and girl started lamenting how the hike would take two days. Nobody ever said anything about spending two days exploring these mystery-shrouded islander myths. While the two amused themselves, the halfling shuffled off to the side, fingers flicking through that odd little ritual his grandmother once showed him. A sudden swirl of dust in the eyes and he found that the darkness didn’t bother him, the world appearing as though clearly lit.

The others continued their too-loud protest as the halfling ventured around the side, quietly scanning their surrounds for further signs of danger. Noting none, other than the openness of their chosen campsite, he decided that it would suffice. They built a fire from a cantrip that the wizard appeared far too proud of.*

Night fell, and the forest was quiet. It was, in fact, too quiet, which of the party, only the halfling found at all worrisome. There were no wolf howls, no sounds of birds in the dark.

It was as though the wood was holding its breath.

Last edited by Valyndyral, 6/12/2013, 12:25 am
6/11/2013, 11:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to Valyndyral   Send PM to Valyndyral
 
Valyndyral Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user

Registered: 01-2010
Posts: 30
Reply | Quote
Re: Something Dark Awakens, in the Deep Woods.


This part of the forest was known by the locals as the Ravenwood, and as the night grew deeper it wasn’t hard to see why. Black eyes, reflecting the light of the party’s dying campfire, peered down from the branches. But these ravens were still, silent, as though keeping vigil. It just wasn’t how birds were supposed to act.

Terence stared back. Even as his company drifted off, the almost-completely-exhausted halfling lay with his hands folded behind his head, eyes wide open and watching those ravens. He knew something wasn’t right. This mightn’t have been his first time in the Ravenwood, but he couldn’t do much to dispel the certain discomfort that these environs held. He resolved to spend the night sleepless, all too aware that the adventurers hadn’t thought to designate a watchman. Suppose a restless halfling would do just fine.

As the night slipped by into morning and the adventurers roused, Terence found he could barely keep his eyes open. There was nothing to be done about it, though. He felt that if he shut them for more than the time it took to blink, he would likely end up devoured by something. “We’ll reach the stones in over two hours,” he murmured, not quite caring if the adventurers heard him. Using his staff to support his weight, he set off ahead, collecting up berries for breakfast while the intrepid young adventurers were still collecting their things.

Even in the light of morning, the Ravenwood was dark. The canopy blocked nearly all the light from reaching the forest floor. The ominous atmosphere was made all the more oppressive by the silent, black birds watching from the upper branches. Ravens were typically solitary creatures, but here they were present in abundance, and they were all too still, too quiet. They did not call, or forage, or move beyond the slow turning of their heads to follow the party. Even the most brash of the adventurers could not avoid the weight of the air pressing down on them.

And then, all at once, the forest broke and the party stood at the edge of a clearing. The sky was slate grey, a sheet of cloud from horizon to horizon, which was curious. It had seemed, from what small bit of sky could be glimpsed through the canopy just minutes earlier, like a sunny, clear day.

Low-growing grass and heather, dry and crunching underneath the halfling’s feet, did not obstruct the sight of a low hill rising up at the center of the clearing, nor of the stone circle atop it.

The stones were perfectly cut, without any apparent signs of the passage of time - the edges were perfectly sharp, the sides smooth and unmarred. Heather and moss climbed the stones but only managed to claim a foot or so. The standing stones were unmarked, all but one at the center of the circle that was covered in etchings, inscriptions in a language none present knew.

The halfling’s eyes scanned the sky first, instinct letting him know that something was amiss. This couldn’t just be a forest clearing. Everything appeared somehow too perfect, too picturesque. He wanted to dismiss it as his appreciation for natural sights and settings, but this was the Ravenwood. That didn’t follow fluidly enough to his exhausted and unnerved mind. And so, he sought to soothe his nerves by murmuring over what he remembered of his grandmother’s fables.

“If we do end up meeting your myth,” and he felt it important to use that word, myth, “don’t dare ask his name. The sylvan folk don’t appreciate that sort of forwardness. Names are powerful and aren’t for our mortal ears.” A few more strings of advice followed, though he knew that the adventurers weren’t listening. Even the quiet and well-mannered mage of which he’d become just a tinge fond had started inching his way up to the stone circle, ignoring their now-redundant smaller companion.

They each encroached, the halfling following through the heather some feet behind. He heard the young woman announce, “I knew we would find this place! And, hah, we only needed one bumpkin to do it.” The halfling’s fingers rose to his brow, rubbing in slow circles, making a strong effort to keep his headache from becoming worse. He didn’t watch as the girl reached her arm out, hand connecting with the stone as he weight came to rest against it. So very frivolous, so brazen in the face of the legend they’d sought out.

The stone was shockingly cold to the touch. It stole the warmth from her fingers as though hungry for it. In that moment, for just a moment, the air seemed to grow a few degrees cooler. Feeling that brief, sudden chill, the halfling lowered his hand and opened his eyes. “And don’t put your hands on anything you shouldn’t!” He shouted at the girl, striding nearer through the heather, weariness making him a little bolder than it ought to have. Although the swordsman dismissed him with a laugh appropriate for one so accustomed to punching his way through problems, the brash girl had become rather silent, slipping her frozen fingers from the stone and clutching them to her stomach in a futile attempt to warm them.

The maged inched away, his feeble understanding of the arcane sufficient enough to preempt, or at least clutch very vaguely at what might follow.
6/11/2013, 11:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to Valyndyral   Send PM to Valyndyral
 
Valyndyral Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user

Registered: 01-2010
Posts: 30
Reply | Quote
Re: Something Dark Awakens, in the Deep Woods.


There was a moment of terrible imminence. And then...the air warmed again. It was as though the clearing let out a sigh of relief. The sky remained inexplicably grey. From the far tree cover, ravens looked on. Their numbers had increased - where before there was one to a tree, now they crowded every branch in the hundreds, all watching silently, all waiting for....something.

The halfling dropped his walking stick as he made his way over to the girl, reaching his hands up. He didn’t like her, but that didn’t mean he wanted to see her in any sort of agony. “Let me see,” he instructed, and she laid her chilled fingers in his. Another little family secret, the halfling’s own fingers flicked through a few complex patterns, humming out an odd rhythm that somehow didn’t seem so out of place in the clearing. The blue fled from her skin.

With that accomplished, the halfling huffed out a curt breath, settling his eyes on the muscle-bound warrior in their midst. “And no. You shouldn’t go putting your fingers on the stones here, else they might drop off. This is a place to be respected, whatever it is.”

Filled with bravado, the warrior interpreted the halfling’s claim as a challenge. “A place to be respected,” he laughed, his head shaking, unwashed hair swaying about as it did. With that same smirk creased across his face, he raised a broad hand to his back and drew his sword from its sheathe. The halfling and mage shouted protest as the warrior marched his way into the center of the circle. Among the cries, the farmer cautioned, “don’t enter any circles of any kind! They’re doors--”

He fell silent as he saw that blade rise into the air. His chest felt as though it had become stone itself, weighing him down, refusing to churn his breath. The blade swang down against the inscribed bolder at the center of the circle, the ensorcelled steel striking through it, rending it and the sharpened edge of the weapon all at once.

There was a sudden and terrible cracking, as though the earth itself was groaning from pain. For a moment, that was all. And then, the air began to grow cold, so cold that the halfling’s extremities went numb. At once the outer stones began to age. Their sharp angles dulled, their smooth faces grew worn as though weathered by centuries of exposure to rain and wind. The moss raced up the sides of the of the standing stones, covering them nearly to their crowns.

All around the party, the trees seemed to shiver: Thousands of ravens were finally moving, rustling as one, hopping from foot to foot. For the the first time, they broke their silence, and they did so together: A cacophony of shrieks, furious or triumphant, it was impossible to tell, rang out from the vast unkindness.

Terence attempted to move away despite the sudden loss of clear sensation in his legs, reeling back from the young woman, who stood in stunned silence. His footing wasn’t even enough and he toppled into the heather, bundling up in an effort to stave off the impossible cold. To the brash girl’s credit, she had enough sense to draw the shortsword from her belt, the shrill cries of the surrounding crows enough for her to seek that comfort.

The warrior at the center of the circle continued to laugh. He was a powerful man, at least physically, at least in the ways he understood. “It takes more than birds and a little draft to scare me!” He called to the sky, and that was true. He continued his hooting as the mage started flicking through pages in his mostly empty tome, searching out a spell to protect himself and finding very little. He was an acolyte at best, with no understanding of the magic that stole the warmth from the air.

As one, the ravens took wing. They swarmed the mound as first one, then a second stone toppled over, too cracked and weathered from age to stand. The imposing swordsman had to duck as the birds came down - not at him, not exactly. They swarmed, seemingly on top of each other, a writhing, growing mass of shrieking flesh and shivering feathers that elongated, and straightened, and became a man, standing atop the shattered remains of the inscribed keystone.

No, not a man. Something like one, certainly, with princely features and a lordly bearing unlike anything those present had ever seen in the flesh. He wore a cloak of black feathers. His skin was pale. His features were simply too beautiful to be human. It was his eyes, however, that abolished any lingering doubt as to what he was. There was no white, no iris, they were black throughout, the same eyes that had been watching the party as they made their way through the Ravenwood. They looked around now with an expression that could have been joy or despair in equal measure. Slowly, the cold began to recede.

For a time, all but the halfling stood in stunned silence. The smallest of the party only sat up slowly, crown and eyes emerging from the brush of heather to look on, an unimaginable fear racking its way through the farmer’s mind. His grandmother’s fables now carried the horrid weight of truth behind them, something that in his exhaustion and terror, he found near impossible to fully comprehend.

The warrior didn’t comprehend either. After a moment of staring, the pretty face he’d conjured had him laughing - though, admittedly, with a feigned confidence now. He was most certainly frightened, but he would die before showing it. “So we’ve conjured a girlish man! Makel, is this one of yours?” In a further display of, to Terence’s mind, just how little he understood the situation he was in, the warrior’s eyes parted from the sylvan figure and swept back to the robed mage. Makel only trembled in place, fingers resting across the etchings of a weak spell he now hardly dared hoped might keep him safe from what he was convinced would be their demise.

For her part, the girl lurked off to the side, her own instinct taking over as she moved to position herself behind the raven-man. Behind him, she could either flee or stab at his back, as the situation evolved.

When the warrior looked back at the creature they had summoned, he was surprised to discover that his appearance had changed. He seemed....marginally more human now. It was difficult to tell particularly how - perhaps the addition of stubble, a few inches of height that made him just slightly taller than the warrior before him?

He still couldn’t pass for human, not even remotely, and there seemed to be something mocking in the paltry attempt. His eyes flashed with something new - amusement, perhaps? He did not go quite so far as to smile.

The swordsman hesitated again. Behind him, the mage called with a trembling voice, “Sotirios, don’t do what I know you’re going to do.” The warrior was a man of habit, though. He looked up those few inches as though offended that the emergent, shifting raven-man had dared to be taller than him. His nostrils flared, a challenging frown creasing his features. His sword, now blunted and bent from striking solid stone, but no less magical, was still resting in his hand.

“He doesn’t even look strong,” the warrior lied, unable to keep a little quiver from his own voice. Just as Makel predicted, he raised one of his broad, firm hands, swinging it down in an attempt to pat it against the sylvan creature’s arm. He wouldn’t strike, cowed down more than enough to keep his bloodlust a little less apparent than it usually was. All the same, he wouldn’t act as though he were frightened in sight of his companions. He was far too pompous for that. Far too wrapped up in his sense of self to consider such a meek, cowardly notion.

As he saw that hand collide with the raven’s skin, the halfling sank back down into the heather. He’d led these people here, just as he said he would, but this was something else entirely. He wasn’t eager to upset the fey.

Sotirios’ hand struck feathers, and sinewy muscle underneath - it might have been a relief, to encounter such tangible, familiar evidence of a physical body, amidst all the strangeness.

But the relief was short lived.

But for a slight swaying of his feathered cloak, the fairy did not shift an inch from the push. He opened his mouth, and paused. Then, he began to speak. The words made no sense, not at first, but he kept speaking them, in a voice at once resonant and troubling, hypnotic and upsetting, and though none of the onlookers were quite certain how or when, they found that the words eventually were being spoken in the common tongue:

“I accept your challenge, human child.”

This was a statement well-known to the warrior. He’d heard it across Faerun’s southern reaches and he came to this island expecting to hear it here. Being the recipient of that statement was a different matter. When he had heard it, it had issued from the mouths of men with mettle far better-tested than his own. Nevertheless, he had set out on this journey of his to prove his worth... What better way that taking the head of this eerie, unnatural creature?

Although he might not have been a veteran of war or an adventurer with innumerable scars to show for his victories, Sotirios had was training and discipline and in these qualities, he had absolute faith. He fell back onto his heels, hefting up his sword with both hands clutched to the leather-bound grip. The sword swung up in an arch, falling with the intent of splitting the raven-creature in twain.

Seeing her companion attack, the girl rushed in as well, intent on burying her own blade to the hilt in the creature’s spine. The halfling sank down all the further, hearing the warrior’s cry and knowing, although he couldn’t see the events, what would follow.
6/11/2013, 11:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to Valyndyral   Send PM to Valyndyral
 
Valyndyral Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user

Registered: 01-2010
Posts: 30
Reply | Quote
Re: Something Dark Awakens, in the Deep Woods.


The blade came down upon the fairy, who seemed almost to erupt, his body dispersing into a hundred shrieking ravens which flew back, swarming upon the girl. She was brought to the ground, her scream rising above those of the birds as she jerked and writhed, blood spraying as black beaks tore and bit and shredded.

The bloody mess of meat still twitched faintly as the birds flew away and reformed into an approximation of a man, on the other side of the ruined stone circle.

“But if we are to have a duel....” The fairy mused, “I shall need a weapon.”

He held out a hand without further comment, ss though the girl had been a distraction not worthy of any further notice. The air grew cold again, and a rough sword-shape coalesced, made of ice. The fairy’s hand closed around the frosted grip.

Seeing his adversary armed, the warrior hesitated. He had just seen his companion of nearly a year, a woman he considered a friend, ripped to shreds and disregarded as though she were but a vulgar word on the wind. His fear pulsed into fury as his knuckles turned white around his blade. Discipline and training slipped away, and with another feral roar, he charged forth. His pounding feet icking up a tuft of heather in his sprint. This time, his blade swept upward, cutting a diagonal arch across where he expected to cleave the raven into bits that wouldn’t reform.

Makel, the realization of his imminent demise hammered home by the death of his comrade, attempted to conjure a spell. His stammering was so profuse that all he could muster was failure, a weak attempt at an orb of pure magical energy that flew at the raven creature. It burst before it could reach either of the warriors, dissipating into streaks of blue light, casting a bright backdrop to Sotirios as he made his strike.

In amid the heather, the halfling curled into a ball again, hands closing over his ears to drown out the screaming. He was a farmer. He shouldn’t have been hearing anything of this sort.

Enchanted steel met ice with a hollow ring, and the fairy’s blade shattered, though not before robbing the warrior’s strike of most of its force. The sword of ice reformed almost instantly, its fragments coming together again, the cracks vanishing.

The fairy’s face was, for a moment, monstrous in the pale blue light of Makel’s failed spell.

He smiled, then, and gently slid the tip of his blade into Sotirios’ leg. It snapped off again, and this time did not reform - the ice remained lodged in his flesh.
6/11/2013, 11:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to Valyndyral   Send PM to Valyndyral
 
Valyndyral Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user

Registered: 01-2010
Posts: 30
Reply | Quote
Re: Something Dark Awakens, in the Deep Woods.


Image
(Source: Jackson Sze)

Sotirios’ following cry was as wild as the first, though now tainted with an edge of animal agony. The ice had plunged into his muscle. Although his will strained and fought against his body, he was only flesh, only blood and bone. With his leg punctured as it was, he could barely stand. He attempted to build distance between himself and the raven creature with a swift horizontal thrust of his blade - not a slash, but a push. It was an amateur’s mistake, made even more desperate by a desperate man who had lain his hand along the sharp blade, to drive the heavy weapon home at any cost.

Makel made a frenzied attempt at another spell, this time with more success. His own terror had yielded, just a little, just enough, to the mage’s focus his studies had hammered into him. His perception closed in, narrowed to a fine point, as he waved his hands through the necessary gestures and conjured another orb of magic. This one sailed, straight and true, toward the raven creature.

The fairy looked up, the shimmering missile reflected in his black eyes. He dispersed again, the ravens coming for Makel, this time. The mage’s mouth opened to scream, and his tongue was ripped from it by rending beaks.

The ravens flew back toward Sotirios, swirling around him before reforming into the fairy immediately to his left. He clicks his tongue, neatly sliding his broken sword into Sotirios’ other leg. “Your friends keep interrupting our duel.” He observed, sparing a glance for Makel, now writhing on the ground, blood streaming from his mouth.

With both thighs punctured, Sotirios couldn’t remain standing. He toppled down to his knees, growling up at the raven-fey like a rabid animal. Witnessing what he had witnessed, being so powerless to defend those he had ventured into this wood beside, knowing his own death was fast coming - the warrior responded by spitting at his to-be killer’s feet. He couldn’t swing a greatsword on his legs, and so cast the heavy weapon aside. He moved to fetch the dagger from his belt. If he had to die, he would do so swinging.

The fairy took three measured steps away from him, out of reach. He turned back and looked down with indifference at the warrior. “I have lost so much. So much has been taken. But I can still make you kneel.”

He dropped his sword, where immediately it broken into pieces. “Thank you. For releasing me. In repayment of this kindness, I offered you a warrior’s death. This is what your kind cares about, human child, yes? To die in bold ways, and be remembered in stories?”

He spread his hands. “But you have insulted me. And spat at my gift. Quite literally.” His eyes danced. “So our duel is over.”

Last edited by Valyndyral, 6/11/2013, 11:45 pm
6/11/2013, 11:41 pm Link to this post Send Email to Valyndyral   Send PM to Valyndyral
 
Valyndyral Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user

Registered: 01-2010
Posts: 30
Reply | Quote
Re: Something Dark Awakens, in the Deep Woods.


The halfling, curled foetally in the heather, could hear Sotirios’ screams as the ravens fell upon him, ripping and devouring. Even after the man ceased to scream, there was a sound of wet crunching and snapping for a time, before even that ceased, and silence once again returned to the clearing but for the gentle, sighing sound of footfalls, approaching Terence through the heather.

Although he felt he could barely move, terrified by what he had heard, the farmer found the strength to climb to his knees nonetheless. He trembled, clutching at his stomach, his throat dry and retching with fear. In a shaking voice, he murmured out the simple question, “what do you prefer to be called?” His intention, his only hope, was to separate himself from the sudden, unabashed violence of those he’d escorted here. Conversation was the only way the exhausted, fearful halfling could think of.

The footsteps came to a stop, inches from his knees. And then there was a moment of silence, before the fey answered, “I prefer to be called the Raven Prince, but I suppose am not that now. If ever I was. You may call me Grim.” *

Terence let out a swift sigh, only to draw the air back in through a shrill breath. Words meant he wasn’t dead yet, at least. And fey did adore stories. At least, according to the fables, myths and legends that summed his knowledge of the sylvan world. “I’ve heard of you, I believe... My grandmother told me of a spirit in the crows. I never thought that I would actually see you.” Despite his fear, he couldn’t subdue that little bit of awe that creeped into his expression, his eyes wide, absorbing all he could see of this Raven Prince.

“Ravens.” The fairy corrected. “Crows are a mob of fools who think they are cleverer than they are. I ...was... the Prince of Ravens.”

He canted his head, considering the prone figure below.

“Ravens!” Terence corrected swiftly with a clearing of his throat. His eyes flitted to the heather and soil as his mind churned over what he could say next. Every question and statement constructed was more purchased time, another living breath. So he settled for one he silently prayed would draw monologue from the Raven Prince, this fairy called Grim. His only genuine thoughts on the terrible possibility of ending up like the hapless adventurers he’d lured here, he asked, “And, uhm, what do you plan on doing now that you’ve been freed, mister Raven Prince, sir? Sire. Mister Raven Prince, sire.”

“Master Raven Prince, Sire.” The fairy corrected, once more. “I believe is the more courteous mode of address. But you ought to call me Grim.” There was a faint, chiding note in his voice now. He looked over at the mage, who was still, somehow, alive, though his movements had grown sluggish, his gurgles more animal in nature. “Would you be quiet?” Grim asked. “We are trying to have a conversation.”

And then, leaving the mage to die at his leisure, the fairy called Grim looked back down at the halfling. “For once, I find myself without an answer, little hin.”
6/11/2013, 11:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to Valyndyral   Send PM to Valyndyral
 
Valyndyral Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user

Registered: 01-2010
Posts: 30
Reply | Quote
Re: Something Dark Awakens, in the Deep Woods.


The sounds of the mage’s gurgling stole the last little bit of colour from Terence’s cheeks, now that his attention had been drawn to it. “There are plenty of farmers who would, um, appreciate the protection of a fey like yourself, master, ah, Grim, sire. Farmers such as myself.” He squirmed in place, gaze shifting off in the direction of the mage, though he couldn’t see over the heather. Thoughts of escape and survival soured in his mind, becoming thoughts of dying, just like that, slow and scared in the dirt.

“Is this how low I have sunken?” Grim asked, perhaps of himself. “That I am petitioned by farmers? What indignities, the years have secured for me.”

Terence only shifted in place. He realized that if he attempted to run, Grim would burst into birds again. The halfling couldn’t outrun a flock of those flesh-eating terrors, not on his short legs. “Maybe so, master Grim, sire. But my grandmother always said,” and he attempted to sound wise, “to slip down in place only makes a chance to build oneself back on firmer footing.”*

There was a pause, and then Terence was treated to a quiet chuckle. “I like your grandmother, little hin, and these little aphorisms of hers. What is your name?”

“Terence Greenclover, master...master Grim, sire.” It wouldn’t do to be anything but polite. The halfling had never met royalty in his life before, even if said royalty was deposed, or invented. He hadn’t even encountered nobility. He knew he was supposed to kneel, but other expressions of respect were more natural to him. And so he climbed to his feet, reaching up a trembling hand, showing only fear and reverence in his attempt to shake hands with the fey. “It’s a strange way to meet you, sire.”*

Grim considered his hand, and then took it in both of his - his touch was surprisingly warm. He turned Terence’s palm upward, and peered down at it, unblinking.

Feeling stupid, the halfling dropped his hand to his side again and cleared his throat. At least his hand hadn’t been cut off. His eyes trail again toward Makel, now dead in the dirt, either having choked on his blood or lost so much of it that his body ceased to function. Slowly, he returned his eyes to Grim, his voice still shaking some. “I would like to bury them if I can. And, uh... If it’s all the same, sire, not join them.”

“All but that one.” Grime replied, pointing to the warrior’s body up at the top of the mound. “Bury the others if you wish, leave him as an offering to the ravens. But be quick about it. We have a long way to go, young master Greenclover.”

Last edited by Valyndyral, 6/11/2013, 11:53 pm
6/11/2013, 11:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to Valyndyral   Send PM to Valyndyral
 
Valyndyral Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user

Registered: 01-2010
Posts: 30
Reply | Quote
Re: Something Dark Awakens, in the Deep Woods.


The halfling shuffled off to be about his grisly work. He couldn’t keep his eyes off of the raven-fey, in part because he expected those birds to be flying after him at a moment’s notice, in part because he couldn’t bare to look down at the mangled corpses. “What do you mean by that, sire?” He asked quietly, though he suspected Grim would have no difficulty hearing. His small hands reached down to clutch at the meat-mound that was the young woman, tugging the squelching carcass along in search of a ditch.

“Why, it was all quite evident from that hand you offered me. So clear that even you should be able to read it. You will accompany me, as I seek to recover what I had lost.”

There is a terrible weight to the words, and for one brief moment Terence felt as though the air was being pushed out of his lungs. Just for a moment, and then he could breathe again. Words had power, that much Terence already knew. But it seemed that Grim’s words had power in a much more tangible way.

“It is a geas.” The fairy explained, perhaps guessing at what the halfling was thinking.

Terence knew what a geas was well enough from the old fables. And he knew, from the sounds the young woman made as he dragged her along, that he didn’t want to argue. He only cursed himself silently for ever offering his hand and went about burying the victims of the fairy’s displeasure.

Grim was already walking away, toward the treeline. As he slipped into the trees, a single shaft of light broke through the clouds, landing on the shattered remnants of the stone circle.
6/11/2013, 11:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to Valyndyral   Send PM to Valyndyral
 


Add a reply





You are not logged in (login)