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> Seven Reimagined, A new view of an old story
SubRosa
post Jun 2 2018, 05:15 PM
Post #21


Ancient
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From: Between The Worlds



haute ecole rider: I am so grateful for you turning me on to The Great Queen Seondeok, so many years ago.

I worked on the history of Dark-Eye in this version, giving him more depth, and creating a stronger tie between him and the local ruler.

These bare feet are a little different. I wanted some obvious way to set the Teodon gentry aside from the peasants. So I decided that the peasants all went barefoot everywhere, while the upper classes wear shoes. I literally got the idea from the old term 'dusty feet' used for the Helots


Acadian: Much of the exotic nature of the new world I built is in Kye Rim. Or at least in the non-human lands. I tried to use the human-dominated lands of Aulerci as a more or less 'standard' environment that people could easily relate to. Then as we travel away into other lands, we see more and more exotic and unusual things.

Clandestine meetings with outlaws are bound to go bad sooner or later...



Chapter 2.2

"Just bring out the tribute," the hwarang turned to nod at Sindeok and Buru. The young nangdo and his comrade walked back to the crumhead and unstrapped several chests and sacks that had been slung over the hadrosaur's heavy frame. Returning with the containers, they revealed them to be empty when they set them at Daeso's feet and opened them.

Dark-Eye said nothing. He simply waved to the Teodon bandits lurking at the edge of the road. They came forward with bags and packs fairly bursting with coin and other loot and dumped them into the hwarang's chests and sacks. Yet when they were finished, there were still two chests left unfilled.

"Not enough." Daeso crossed his arms and stared back at Dark-Eye. "The Sublime Ancestor Gaesomun has increased the tribute."

Murmurs rose from the bandits, and Sindeok noted even darker stares than normal were cast at himself and the others. The bandit wizard lowered the oro-skull of his staff to point directly at the hwarang. Sindeok felt the mage call up his mana and channel it into the weapon, causing the ruby-red mana crystals set within the eye sockets to glow with fiery life. Girim looked to Dark-Eye, and Sindeok realized that the wizard was just waiting for leave to attack.

The bandit leader laughed instead. "Why, does Gaesomun not have enough golden chamber pots already? Perhaps we should give him something to fill those pots instead?" Dark-Eye turned sideways over one of the chests, and lifted his tail as if we were intending to do just that.

But before he could, Daeso drew the long, straight sword from his hip. The single-edged blade stretched out nearly three feet. Like all Teodon swords, its pommel was formed into a wide ring. Daeso's was embellished with the form of a curling dragon that filled the interior of the circle, while the grip was protected by a disc-shaped crossguard embossed with images of leviathans.

Dark-Eye stepped back, out of range of the weapon, and lifted his spear in response.

"Perhaps we shall just send him your head instead Daeso," Dark-Eye said.

"It will be your head, not mine Ugeo," the hwarang replied evenly.

"Let us see." The bandit leader cocked his arm back and hurled his spear forward. Daeso was too quick however, and the hwarang sidestepped to avoid the missile. Instead its gleaming black lorcras head buried itself in one of the oros behind him. The poor creature screamed and thrashed, biting at the wooden shaft that now sprouted from its long neck.

Sindeok did not spare another glance at the riding animal however. Instead he watched Daeso, as the flower knight sprang forward with sword held in the high guard known as The Roof. With both hands upon the hilt, the long blade of his sword rose up into the air behind his head. Dark-Eye stood unarmed before him, and appeared to be easy prey. Yet Sindeok smelled mana rising from the one-eyed renegade's fingers, and knew some trickery was about to be unveiled.

The bandit leader raised his hand, and what appeared to be lightning sprouted from his fingers, taking the shape of an elvish longsword. With a straight blade four feet in length, the aetherial weapon also bore the crossguard and two-handed grip of any mundane longsword. Sindeok even noted a smooth ricasso just above the guard, and a small set of lugs above that.

Like all nangdo, Sindeok had some magical experience. With his mage-trained nose, Sindeok could smell that the weapon was comprised of mana of course. It was an extension of Dark-Eye's will, bound into the shape of a deadly weapon. The nangdo had heard of such magically conjured arms of course, but had never seen one formed.

Daeso brought his shorter blade down at Dark-Eye's head in a great over-handed chop. The bandit leader raised his aetherial longsword, holding one hand on the grip, and the other near the point. Sparks flew as the hwarang's steel crashed against Dark-Eye's mageblade. Now that it was bared and in its full fury, Sindeok could feel the enchantment laid upon the hwarang's own weapon. It proudly announced itself as Mireuso, or Dragon's Bite. The nangdo knew from experience that it would have shattered most mortal weapons beneath it. But instead it merely bounced off Dark-Eye's aetherial sword, which snarled and hissed in reply.

Sindeok imagined that both men's hands and arms might be numbed by the force of impact. But he knew Daeso would not be slowed. He had seen that his leader had a heavy hand. No warrior struck with the strength and power that he did.

Yet Dark-Eye seemed unfazed by the attack. He countered, bringing the hilt of his aetherial longsword around like a hammer. Now it was Daeso’s turn to parry, barely preventing his skull from being caved in by the morte-strike.

The two swordsmen moved back and forth in the mud, attacking and countering in a flurry of blows. But neither enchanted steel nor manablade found purchase in the scales of either warrior. Daeso fought with speed and agility, and Sindeok was amazed at how the bandit lord was able to keep up with his longer weapon.

The nangdo thought it would be slow and clumsy. Yet the two-handed sword was anything but. Unlike the one-handed ring sword carried by the hwarang, Dark-Eye often used his longer blade much like a staff. The older Teodon would sometimes hold it with both hands on the blade, one near the point and the other toward the crossguard. This allowed him to both stab and cut with the point, and swing the opposite end like a club. At other times he would return to a normal grip with both hands on the hilt, or even choke up with one hand on the ricasso of the blade, just above the guard. Sindeok had never seen such a style before, and wondered if it might be an elvish method, for their people were known to use such great blades.

After another punishing overhead attack by the hwarang, Daeso lowered his weapon to a middle guard, that of The Plow. Holding his sword with the hilt near his waist, the point rose toward Dark-Eye's face. But Dark-Eye did not change his stance in response. Instead he still stood there with arms raised over his head, sword held between them like a staff in the position he had blocked the previous attack. Sindeok wondered if the older Teodon had tired, or if instead it was some manner of ruse? If Daeso had considered the latter, he did not show it. Instead he took advantage of the opening and darted forward with his sword.

Dark-Eye swung the point of his mageblade down across his chest, like a door swinging open. The conjured blade of his weapon met Daeso's enchanted steel and swept it to one side. Dark-Eye continued the motion, pushing his tip down toward the ground. Before Daeso could disengage, the bandit leader had hooked the point of his longer sword behind the hwarang's knee.

Jerking his aetherial longsword back, Dark-Eye pulled the flower knight's leg with him. The hwarang stretched out, completely off balance, and fell into the mud. Dark-Eye followed quickly now, stepping on Daeso's sword wrist with a bare foot, leaving him defenseless. The bandit lord reversed his grip on his manasword, so that he now held it pointed straight down like a spear. Then he thrust the sparking point down into the unarmored throat of the hwarang.

It did not take long for the pure bone aristocrat to die from the mortal wound. Dark-Eye stared at him as he did, as if watching for the last moment of life to leave the captain's body.


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haute ecole rider
post Jun 6 2018, 04:25 PM
Post #22


Master
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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



oooh, both magic and swordplay! Pretty tense fight there, though I felt Daeso was a bit overconfident from the start. Perhaps because of my memories of Daeso from the series Jumong . . . Or was it Kingdom of the Wind?

cool.gif


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ghastley
post Jun 6 2018, 05:15 PM
Post #23


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This all had me wondering about how a conjured weapon should behave. Does it have weight, and momentum, like a physical one? And if not, what difference does that make to combat?

In this, it's behaving like a physical one, and the fighting style is the same. But a weightless blade could be moved more easily, at the expense of having no momentum of its own, so that all force has to come from the muscles and leverage. That's much harder to imagine, as there's no real-world analogy possible.

The extreme case of that in fiction was a "sword" consisting of a single fibre reinforced with a statis field that made it unbreakable. There was a small ball at the tip, to let the user know where it was, or it would be essentially invisible. Effectively, it's all edge, and no blade. It will slice through any other weapon, but if you tried to block, the sliced-off section would keep going, and still cut you! The novel didn't describe what happened if two fighters used the same weapon.


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Acadian
post Jun 7 2018, 05:53 PM
Post #24


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From: Las Vegas



Quite the sword fight! Loved your descriptions of the summoned mageblade as well as the touch of personality you injected into each weapon (as announcing themselves by name).

Dark Eye is quite the formidable opponent, displaying the rare ability to use magic, while brandishing the manablade as effectively as any master of melee combat.


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SubRosa
post Jun 9 2018, 04:58 PM
Post #25


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From: Between The Worlds



haute ecole rider: Daeso was partly inspired by Kim Yushin from The Great Queen Seondeok, with his heavy-hitting blows. But he lacked Yushin's principles.


ghastley: I imagine that an aetherial sword has a similar weight to a normal one. Mana gives it form, which I also take to mean mass as well (the same with conjured spirits. Although in their case the form and mass depends upon their element. Air has almost no mass, while earth a great deal).


Acadian: Every magic item should be unique, with it own personality, based upon its creator, its history, and its function. I try to give a glimmer of that with their names, and how they make people feel when they perceive them.

Dark-Eye's finishing move is a real longswording technique. here is a link to it. I definitely stepped him up from the original version. We will learn where he got his training in magic and elvish longswording in this episode in fact.


Chapter 2.3

In the meantime Sindeok found the other bandits crowding around him and Buru. His hand rested upon the grip of his sword. But the nangdo knew the futility of the situation. He had no doubt that he was a far superior swordsman to any one of the outlaws. But with their numbers and position, he would die just the same.

For the moment the raiders waited, and all eyes turned to Dark-Eye. The renegade paid them no heed however. Instead he opened both of his hands, and his mageblade vanished into a sparkling haze. Drawing a knife of ordinary iron from his hip, the red and black scaled Teodon squatted down over Daeso's corpse. Sindeok could not see exactly what it was he did there, and from the sound of cracking bones that followed, he did not truly want to know.

Finally Dark-Eye rose, holding the hwarang's bloody heart in one gory hand, stained knife in the other. He strode to Sindeok and Buru, holding the organ before him.

"For the past five years, you have both lived in the shadow of Daeso and his lord Gaesomun," he said. "All of this time, they have used you like tools, and prevented you from realizing your true power. For they fear what you might become. They fear what you might do. Just as they fear me. I will show you why."

"Daeso was strong, and a skilled warrior" the bandit leader admitted. "But mere strength and skill are not enough. True power requires something more. It must be taken. It must be consumed. Feast upon the heart of your enemy, and you will take his power."

"Swear by me, and I will show you a power that you have never imagined," Dark-Eye continued. "You will stride across this earth like gods. The scales of men will quake at the sound of your names, and the tails of women will be yours for the taking."

"What say you?" the one-eyed bandit turned from one nangdo to the other, holding Daeso's heart before them. "Who will take this power I offer?"

Buru shook his head and backed away. The corners of his long mouth curled downward, revealing the nangdo's disgust. Girim bared his serrated teeth in a terrifying rictus. At Dark-Eye's nod, the bandit wizard leveled his staff at the recalcitrant Teodon. At the same time, the bandits near Buru all scampered away.

Once again Sindeok smelled the mana rise up from the wizard's bones and pour it into his staff. The enchanted weapon focused the energy into a brilliant projectile of fire, which leapt from the oro skull at its tip and blasted clear through Buru's armored chest. The nangdo did not even have time to cry out as the flames seared through his body and left a gaping hole in their wake. Buru simply fell dead as a stone into the muck.

Sindeok stared at the corpse of his comrade, and felt his tail twitch involuntarily at the sight of his charred scales. He looked back to Dark-Eye, and saw that he was aptly named, for there was nothing but darkness in the other Teodon's gaze.

With one shaking hand Sindeok reached out to take the severed heart. He raised the organ to his mouth, and bit down hard into the tough muscle. He had to twist his head this way and that so that his sail-shaped teeth - more suited to grinding up plants than ripping flesh - could tear out a bite. The resilient meat was no easier to chew, and it was as much a physical effort for the nangdo to finally swallow the mouthful as it was a moral one.

But finally he did gulp down the meat. As soon as he did, a sensation of heat rose from his belly. It surged up his throat, and spread through his entire frame. It felt like someone had poured flaming oil into his stomach, and it was burning him up from the inside out. He wanted to scream, but his training won out. He would never so openly reveal weakness. Instead he screwed his eyes shut, and ground his teeth together to bite down the pain.

The fire in him burned on and on. By the time it was finished, Sindeok felt lighter, as if he had been freed from invisible weights. When he opened his eyes once more, Sindeok realized that the flame had burned away the nangdo he once was. In the place of that man of duty and honor, he felt something new: a hunger.

It was a hunger for flesh, but not just for any flesh. Somehow he knew - as if by instinct - that only the flesh of the Manaborn would do. Bread, rice, or the meat of beasts were mere fodder. They might sustain the body, but not the soul. What his spirit demanded now was something more. More than even duty and honor could provide. He could not put a finger upon exactly what it might be. Perhaps it was the soul of an enemy, the force of his life, or some other ineffable thing. But Sindeok knew one thing for certain, it could only be taken from a sentient being.

A cheer rose up from the bandits, and Sindeok felt several clap approving hands upon his armored back. Sindeok paid them little mind. Instead he turned his attention back to the heart in his hand. Taking another bite, he found that this time it was easier to rip out a mouthful and gulp it down. Now that fire in his gullet warmed him like the afternoon sun, and everything was right in the world.

The other bandits now fell to the corpses of Daeso and Buru, and began carving them up. Sindeok stepped back out of their way, feeling satiated for the moment. He saw Dark-Eye standing beside the wizard Girim. The two were speaking in low tones, but Sindeok found that by drifting nearer, he could overhear their words.

"Daeso was right about one thing," Girim said. "His master will now come for us. From the Celestial Flight company to the most lowly spearmen, Gaesomun will send everything he has to kill us."

"Let him," Dark-Eye said calmly. "We both knew this day would come sooner or later. It may as well come now. "

"They will not fall as easily as the farmers and travelers we usually prey upon," the wizard cautioned. "They are trained warriors, many you once taught yourself. We must be prepared."

"Aye, and we shall be my friend," the one-eyed Teodon nodded. "We have allies of our own, and powers at our command. We shall journey to the west. In the forest of stone there is a place of darkness, the Dark Barrow where I learned the secrets of consuming flesh. We shall find strong warriors there, trained in the human and elven styles of longswording. There will also be skilled wizards, with the knowledge of elven magic. Then we shall return. The other outlaws of the forest will join us, whether they like it or not, and we shall march upon the Gyukon's fortress in Hansando."

"We shall meet them in the open then?" Sindeok noted that Girim's tail twitched as he spoke. Clearly the idea of fighting a set piece battle against trained warriors did not sit well with the bandit wizard. Sindeok could not help but agree with the feeling. He knew full well what his former comrades were capable of. Attacking them head on would be suicide.

"Of course not!" Dark-Eye laughed. "We shall flee, like the scum we are. We will melt away into the swamps and lead them upon a chase through the countryside. We know these lands, we know every fen, every river, every village. We know where to find food and shelter, and where the leviathans make their lairs. Those pampered pets know nothing, and will exhaust themselves in a fruitless and deadly pursuit. Finally, when they are spent, frustrated, and spread out across the rainforest, we will slip past them and take the city while it stands defenseless."

"But the walls…"

"Are of no concern," Dark-Eye waved off the wizard's unease and went on. "There is a secret way into the palace. One known to only a few. We will be within the very heart of the Sublime Ancestor's fortress before he can catch a whiff of us coming."

"And Gaesomun's heart will be yours," Girim smiled.

"His heart is filled with nothing but envy. The crows can have it," Dark-Eye spat. "But his riches, that will all be ours. You will not believe your eyes when you see it my friend. There will be fine silks and shining crios crystal from the Light Elves of Ainetir, and golden torcs from the Arvern in Aulertil. There are fine Rasenna wines, frost stones and amber from Skanlond, carpets and fire crystals from the Aymaran desert, pearls reaped from the ocean's depths by the Sea Elves, and more. He has a hoard the likes of which you have never dreamed of my friend, and it shall all be ours."

"Nothing can stop us now."


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Acadian
post Jun 10 2018, 07:51 PM
Post #26


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



”The scales of men will quake at the sound of your names, and the tails of women will be yours for the taking." - - This is epic on so many levels! tongue.gif

Wow, Dark Eye and his wizard can be quite . . . convincing as they coax Sindeok into their ranks.

Ahah, we do indeed learn where Dark Eye gained some of his elven skills, as well as the fact that he has a hidden base of fellow flesh eaters.

Sounds like Dark Eye has a pretty good plan. One that optimizes his knowledge and resources.


I got confused here. Perhaps a nit or perhaps something I just didn’t get, as there are so many new characters we’ve seen so far. In the lead sentence below, you mention the corpse of Girim – but I thought he was the (living) wizard of Dark Eye. Did you perhaps mean the corpses of Daeso and Buru?

The other bandits now fell to the corpses of Girim and Buru, and began carving them up. Sindeok stepped back out of their way, feeling satiated for the moment. He saw Dark-Eye standing beside the wizard Girim. The two were speaking in low tones, but Sindeok found that by drifting nearer, he could overhear their words.


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SubRosa
post Jun 16 2018, 03:49 PM
Post #27


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Acadian: I wanted to show some of Dark-Eye's charisma in the last episode, and demonstrate how he stays in command of his raider band. I also wanted to show how they get new members. I created Sindeok to have a pov character within the bandits ranks. Through his eyes we see how Dark-Eye leads, and what his goals are. We also see the inner workings of the cannibal raiders, and how they have been corrupted.

Thanks for finding that nit. I had indeed got my names mixed up!


Chapter 3.1

Aela fussed with her hair as she stared into the mirror. While she could use magic to make the long brown tresses clean, keeping them orderly was another matter entirely. Some days it seemed that every strand had a mind of its own, and that mind was keenly aware of its need to embarrass her. Aela was certain that spending days onboard a ship was not helping matters. Not with the damp air from the sea all around.

"I suggest shaving it all off." Loria crowded in the mirror behind her. Somehow his soft red locks managed to behave themselves. He was an elf after all, and their races were all known for leonine manes like the one Loria possessed. But perhaps most importantly, it was not her hair. The Arvern was certain that was the most important factor.

Aela made a face at him, eliciting a laugh from the willowy elf. "I'll shave your hair off when you're sleeping!" she threatened.

"Then I shall be the most handsome bald man in Veia," the Silaine preened.

"That you would be my friend," Aela could not help but crack a smile at the elf words. She wished that she had even half of his self assurance, not to mention good humor.

Loria stepped away, leaving the small mirror all to Aela once more. With a sigh she surrendered, and tied her brown hair back into a ponytail. At least it would be out of the way, and no one would mistake her for a giant ground sloth. She hoped…

She turned to find that Loria had already drawn their empty bags up onto his cot. He had long since put aside the elegant black and silver robes he used for adventuring, and instead wore a simple tunic, vest, and trousers of red and brown linen. She too, wore a simple skirt of linen, cut short in the elven style, along with a chemise and tightly cinched bodice. The two of them looked entirely ordinary, except that Loria still wore his enchanted amethyst ring of course, and Aela her crystal spiral necklace.

The tiny cabin that the two of them shared had a small writing desk situated against the outer hull. Directly opposite that was a door leading to the cargo hold. Flanking them were a pair of folding beds. Beneath each cot was a sea chest. In reality these were nothing but boxes nailed down to the hull, but at least they offered a place to store their belongings during the voyage.

Aela watched as the elf passed a glowing hand over first one, then the other chest. The latches to each popped open as he released the locking spells he had placed upon them. Neither mage was concerned with someone stealing their clothing, even enchanted as their adventuring gear was. Loria could always enchant something else to replace it. But their loot was another story. Mail shirts were not so easily conjured up. Rarer still was the cuirass of ancient Dark Elf steel. Aela knew that would fetch them a healthy purse of gold all on its own, and would go a long way to paying off their debts.

So after filling her traveling pack with her clothing and other things, the Arvern mage joined the elf in loading up their loot into a pair of sturdy canvas sacks. A trio of swords did not want to fit into the bags, and they were forced to leave their hilts protruding from the lip of one sack. Thankfully the armor folded down piece by piece, fitting much easier in the bags.

Aela was not so thankful when she hefted one. "It feels like there's a hadrosaur in here. Or at least a horse," she groused as she drew it up to her shoulder.

Loria grunted as he did the same, and led the way out of the cabin and into the hold beyond. The large chamber had once taken up the entire space from one side of the hull to the other. But at some point wooden walls had been installed to create the row of tiny cabins from which they had emerged, along with an identical string of berths lining the far side of the ship.

The remainder of the space had not gone to waste. The center of the hold was crammed with crates and barrels of cargo lashed down to the deck. More containers hung suspended from nets that swung from the ceiling beams. That left only a narrow passage free to either side, and the pair of mages found it to be bustling with the rest of the vessel's passengers, who all appeared to be just as eager as they were to make their leave.

"This would be much easier to carry if you would just summon up a gnome." Loria dropped his bag to the floor with a clanking of steel. "We did not graduate from the Ingenium just to drag heavy objects around."

"No, we graduated so you could learn to use weightless spells," Aela shot back as she set down her own bag of loot. "I thought your major field of study was materiality after all?"

She was thankful for her own knowledge of vitamancy, which among other things allowed her to increase her strength with magic. With that in mind, she gathered up her mana and channeled it through her body, using it to infuse her muscles with newfound might. She found her bag much easier to manage when she lifted it a second time.

"I found it more expedient to major in financial transactions," Loria winked. He filled his hands with light, and Aela recognized the Lighten Load spell he cast upon his own bag. She also noted that the Light Elf made no move to cast the same spell upon her own sack of loot. Instead the wizard raised his over-stuffed bag with ease and nodded down the passageway before them. "I thought you majored in spiritism though."

"I did," Aela said, "as well as vitamancy. But you know how summoning spirits gets the hayseeds excited. It's been four hundred years since the Sacerdotium was broken by the Skanjr. But in some places you would never know it. They'd be coming at us with pitchforks and torches before you could say Inquisitor."

"Aye," Loria smiled, "and then we'd have to kill them all. With nary a gold coin or gemstone to loot off their poor, wretched bodies. Best to let them live instead."

Loria led the way through the hold to the stairs leading up to the deck. It took some time, as they had to wait for over dozens of other people to go before them. Most of them appeared to be at least from the middle classes, given their linen clothing and moderate displays of jewelry. But some wore the velvet and upturned noses of the gentry. She was surprised to see a handful of what could only be peasants, given their rough-spun clothing. Even just a few days passage aboard a ship was not cheap. Aela wondered what would bring such a person with little coin to spare onboard, or send them on a journey hundreds of miles away?

Most of the others paid little mind to her and Loria, but once in a while someone stopped to stare at Aela. She knew that look all too well. She had been receiving it ever since she had transitioned to living female at the Ingenium. It was partly a gape of shock, partly a smirk of ridicule, and partly a sneer of disgust. She might as well have been something unnatural and revolting they had the misfortune of discovering upon the bottom of their shoe.

Aela sighed, and tried to ignore the people around her, and the disquieting feelings they conjured up. She wished they were back in the wilderness again. At least the animals and the trees saw her for who she really was, rather than simply as the body she had been born into. Even the Rasenna often said that animals were good judges of character. It was too bad they did not find a lesson in that…

She was glad when they finally made their way onto the deck. Not only was the fresh air a relief, but the chance to break away from the crowd of humanity was a balm. She made her way toward the prow of the ship, taking care to avoid the Rasen sailors who scrambled all about. That gave her a good view of the harbor ahead.

Tall cliffs of grey-white limestone rose up from the sea ahead and stretched off to the east and west. Cut into the barrier of rock was a strait of water roughly a mile wide. Into this channel their ship ventured. Aela saw the stone walls of a city rising high above the cliffs on the eastern bank, round towers flying pennants in the stiff sea breeze.

The Arvern Witch felt the stirrings of mana within the water below her. She did not even have to fully shift her senses to the aether to feel the undine taking physical form under the ship. By now she was so attuned to the energy of nature spirits that she could always feel their presence, especially one as powerful as this. The water spirit took hold of the ship's hull, and gently guided it into the strait.

Aela traced a thread of power from the spirit back onto the ship. She found it attached to a Rasen standing atop the sterncastle. He was a middle-aged man with a long curly beard, holding a staff in one hand. Aela almost laughed. He could not have looked more like a wizard if he tried. He might as well have been plucked from a bard's tale. Beside him stood the captain and several of the other officers and men of the crew, whom Aela noted were also all Rasen. In fact, Aela did not see a single Sea Elf in the ship's complement, in spite of that race's well-known mastery of the waves.

A glance upward showed that the crew still worked the sails high atop the ship's pair of masts. Even with the assistance of the water spirit, the vessel still had to make its own way into port. Aela had never heard of an undine being able to move a hundred foot ship all on its own. Not given the tons of cargo she had seen within the hold.

"Down the Spout we go," Loria murmured as they entered the strait.

The channel did indeed remind Aela of a spout as they entered it. In her mind's eye she imagined that Bronze Sea as a teapot. Then they would be entering the base of its spout, which she knew would eventually empty out into the Inner Sea far beyond the isthmus upon which Veia sat.

Aela noted that abutting the walls of the city on her left were also the turrets of a castle. Many of its battlements and towers overhang the cliff, to look directly down into the strait. Aela could even see embrasures cut into the very walls of the bluff, some so large that they must have been for stone-throwing artillery pieces rather than archers. A similar castle stood upon the far bank of the Spout.

Aela knew that catapults had a limited range. But given the height of the cliffs, she imagined that such weapons from the fortresses high above could reach any spot in the channel below. Here was the reason for the lack of Sea Elves and their vessels upon the Bronze Sea. Thanks to Veia's dominant position in the Spout, it was the only large body of water in the world that remained a human pond.

The city of Veia proper came into better view after they passed into the channel. The cliffs fell away in a vast goose-egg to the east, creating a wide harbor beyond the mouth of the strait. This left a long horn of land between the port and the Bronze Sea to the north-east, jutting out toward the mouth of the strait. The fortifications that Aela had seen before rested upon the tip of that horn, while the city itself stretched out to the base of the horn and out into the highlands beyond.

Down at sea level, stone docks stretched from left to right around the nearly circular harbor, brimming with ships. Most were human vessels with high curving prows and sterns like the two-masted hulk which Aela sailed upon, or smaller one-masted cogs. However, here and there the Arvern mage noted the graceful lines and characteristic triangular sails of a vessel belonging to the Silisce. She knew that this would be the last stop in the Sea Elves' journey. For the merchant princes of Veia would not allow them, and the competition they brought, any farther into the wide expanse of the Bronze Sea.

Beyond the docks, nestled at the base of the cliffs, Aela noted rows of square and rectangular buildings. They were constructed in the Rasen style, with walls of whitewashed stone, and red-glazed tiles covering their slanted roofs. The largest ones could only be warehouses, but even in the distance she could make out the colorful signs of smaller inns and aleshops.

Smoke from cooking fires rose into the skies, and Aela followed the fumes. They rose along the bluffs, where a road had been cut into the stone, crisscrossing its way up to the city high on the tableland above. The avenue ended in a massive gatehouse that protected the way into the metropolis, whose great bronze gates now stood open for traffic. Horse-drawn wagons and carts climbed the road to vanish with the gates, only to be replaced by others that issued forth to begin the descent to the sea below.

Veia Map

Rasen street

Rasen city

Rasen apartment block

Rasen-style architecture

"Do you smell that Aela?" Loria puffed up his chest with a deep breath of air. "That is the smell of money. By the time we sell all of this, we should be able to pay off Mamarce the Knee for half a year in advance."

Aela wrinkled her nose at the thought of the usurer in Alalia. She owed him more money than she cared to think about. But without his loans, she never could have paid for the Ingenium. Especially after all of her scholarship applications had been turned down. Somehow even though she had graduated at the top of her spiritism class, she was not academically gifted enough to earn a financial deferment from the school.

Aela shook off the memories. Instead she produced a small hand mirror and comb, and went to work straightening the strands of long, sandy brown hair that had broken loose to harry her face. Once she was finished she proceeded to check the light dusting of makeup around her eyes, and the soft shade of rouge on her lips.

As she had a thousand times before, she sighed at the plain features that stared back at her in the silvered glass. She looked convincingly female enough for most people to never give her a second glance. But there was always one person in every crowd who noticed her slight adam's apple. While her magic had given her an hourglass frame, her shoulders were still a bit too broad, and her hips too narrow, and her breasts too small. Never mind her man-hands. Some things even years of magic could not repair, at least not yet. If only she had been born a normal woman…

Aela put the mirror away and tried not to look at the other women around her. There was no point in reminding herself of how she did not look after all.


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Acadian
post Jun 17 2018, 04:21 PM
Post #28


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Another wonderful episode chock full of goodness and fun. We get to see a very girly side of Aela as she fiddles with her hair and appearance. But we are reminded again of the path she walks regarding her gender. I so want to unobtrusively whisper inside her head (the way Acadian does when Buffy suffers from self-doubts), "Remember, those who matter don't mind. . . and those who mind don't matter."

I was quite surprised when the pair of mages struggled to heft their loot bags and struggled out of their cabin. Surely, I thought, dear SubRosa will not miss the opportunity screaming so loudly here. And sure enough, they did not go far before the expected magical resolutions surfaced to their big heavy loads and little magey muscles. tongue.gif

More welcome detail on part of the reason Aela quests - to pay off her mage student loans.

I'm glad that she and Loria have each other to support as you continuously remind us that mages are a bit rare in Aela's world and how they use their magic has consequences.

And finally, it was delightful to see 'Gandolf' as the ship's propulsion engineer as he gently coaxed an undine to power the ship.


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SubRosa
post Jun 23 2018, 05:02 PM
Post #29


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Acadian: The last segment was another good opportunity to show the issues Aela has with society, not to mention with her own body. No one is born perfect, no matter how green it may look from the other side of the septic tank.

Heavy loads and magey muscles definitely do not mix! I like using little every day things like that to show how magic ought to work in a real world. Not just for zapping bad guys, but for everyday life. Though not everyone appreciates that.

I could not resist a nod at the archetypal wizard. I think Gandalf pretty much set the mold for what a wizard is 'supposed' to be.




Chapter 3.2

"Excuse us good folk," Aela turned at the sound of a husky Teodon voice. "We could not help but notice from your spellcraft in the hold that you are mages. Perhaps for hire?"

Aela and Loria found a pair of Teodon and two more Rasenna standing behind them. The Teodon speaking was dressed like a human, wearing what had once been a good, cream-colored linen tunic edged with red embroidery. Its faded color and frayed threads betrayed the wear and tear of time however. His scales were just beginning to fade, showing his middle years. Those of his head and back were dark green, transitioning to light brown as they went down his throat and chest. His headspines were dull orange, and bore a band of black that ran horizontally through the center of each.

Beside him stood a much older saurian with washed out green and brown scales, and headspines that had faded to a dull brown in color. Where the first Teodon appeared to be perhaps in his early forties, Aela imagined this one to be at least two decades older still. Like most Teodon that Aela had met, he wore nothing more than a belt around his waist, from which several pouches depended.

Then there were the Rasenna, with their race's characteristic olive skin and dark hair. One was a young man dressed in a rough-spun tunic, who bore the calluses and weathered skin of a farmer. The other was a woman with long hair and soft brown eyes. She wore a dress of green linen, which like the first Teodon's clothing was faded and worn by time and work. Aela imagined from the calluses on her hands, yet healthier skin, that she was an artisan. She was certainly someone who worked indoors with her hands.

"Why indeed we both are magicians!" Loria declared. "I am Loria, the finest wizard of Alalia! And allow me to introduce to you my partner Aela, the most brilliant Witch of Cymner."

Aela could not help but to roll her eyes at the Silaine's theatrics. He always did like to put on a show. She would think that a black marketeer would want to keep a low profile. It was just her luck to befriend the only smuggler in Aulerci who wanted everyone to look at him.

"If you will allow us to introduce ourselves, my name is Vesia," the human woman began. She gestured to the linen-clad Teodon, then the older saurian, and finally the Rasen man in turn. "This is Daehyun, Hyunsu, and Ranazu. We are from the village of Agrigento, and are in need of folk such as yourselves."

"I am afraid I have never heard of your settlement," Aela said. "Is it here on the Bronze Sea?"

"No, not quite," Daehyun said. "Our village lies far inland, within Kye Rim."

"You have come a long way then," Loria whistled.

"I come here often in fact," Daehyun said, "to sell our soju in Veia. Or at least I used to. So it is not an unfamiliar journey."

"So what is it that you seek mages for?" Aela asked.

"Raiders," Vesia said. "For years now they've been preying upon us. They come twice a year, every time after we have distilled our soju. They take it, and anything else they want, and kill anyone who tries to stop them. Or just anyone at all."

"The last time they ate someone as well." Hyunsu glanced at Ranazu. The young Rasenna did not say a word, but Aela noted that his hands clenched into fists so tightly that his knuckles had turned white.

"Cannibals?" Aela looked to her elven partner. That seemed quite a coincidence, given their recent expedition into the Stone Forest.

Loria looked back to Aela. The Arvern Witch could see the wheels turning behind the Light Elf's eyes. Could these outlaws be part of the same group they had destroyed?

"Are they led by an elf wearing lorcras armor?" he asked.

"Nay," Vesia answered, though all of the peasants shook their heads. "Their leader is a Teodon, with one eye."

Aela shrugged her shoulders. There had been no Teodon among the Manaha cultists in the Dark Barrow. "They are not the same group that we just destroyed then," she said.

"In any case, this sounds like something for the Kye Rim authorities?" Loria ventured.

"The Gyukon has better things to do," Ranazu practically spat upon the deck beneath them. "We tried appealing to him already. He couldn't give two squirts from a croc's tail about us."

"So we need people like you," Vesia said.

"What is the opposition?" Loria asked.

"Fifty bandits," Ranazu frowned, "give or take a few."

Aela coughed. "It will take more than a pair of mages for that. You'd need at least, oh a dozen good mercenaries. Even then, they would have to be people with experience, who aren't afraid of long odds. Or perhaps half that many, if they are really good."

"What is the pay?" Loria asked, his eyes taking on that crafty look they always possessed when the subject of gold came up.

"These ones can feed you," the aging Teodon Hyunsu finally spoke. "Three meals a day, and offer some soju as well."

"Feed us!" Loria sputtered. "Good luck finding anyone that hungry!"

"Wait!" Ranazu held up his hands before Loria could turn away. "I once heard their leader say that there was a price on his head. You could bring it here for the bounty."

"The raiders have loot as well," Vesia added. "They are bandits, preying upon those who travel up and down western Kye Rim, and back and forth here to Veia. They have many stolen goods: gold, jewels, you name it. All would be yours if you can defeat them."

Aela noted the sharp look that Daehyun shot the Rasen woman. The Witch imagined that he would prefer to keep that loot for himself and the village. Aela could not blame the Teodon. Some of the treasure was doubtlessly their own to begin with.

"Well, we just finished with a band of Manaha worshippers in the Stone Forest," Aela declared. "We have to sell off our own loot, and have accounts to settle. So we cannot go anywhere with you right now. I suggest you try one of the mercenary warbands in the city. They might take your contract."

"That was indeed one of our thoughts," Daehyun declared. "But perhaps when your business is concluded you will come find us? I always stay at The Captain and the Mule inn."

"Perhaps we shall indeed," Loria said. Aela noted that the Light Elf had that thoughtful expression again. She knew that he was thinking about that bounty, and imagining what kind of loot a band of Teodon robbers might accumulate. The Manaha cultists had collected quite a haul of goods, especially in the form of armor and weapons. The Arvern had to admit that she was wondering how much wealth a company of Kye Rim raiders might possess as well. But first things first. She owed Mamarce the Knee gold. She needed to make a deposit at the temple to keep the money-lender off her back, and her knees in one piece.


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Acadian
post Jun 23 2018, 11:28 PM
Post #30


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From: Las Vegas



A wonderful introduction of the villagers seeking help.

Korean Kye Rim soju! tongue.gif

”Or perhaps half that many, if they are really good." – I had to smile here as the phrase ‘magnificent seven’ came to mind.

I’m pretty sure the witch and her elven pal will sign up for this. I look forward to the how/where and dynamics of assembling a somewhat larger team.


Tiny suggestion: ’Its faded color and frayed threads betrayed the wear and tear of time however. His scales were just beginning to fade, betraying his middle years.’ – You might consider an alternative to 'betray' for one of the two times you use it in such close proximity. Perhaps something like announce, bespeak, declare, display or proclaim?


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SubRosa
post Jun 30 2018, 04:36 PM
Post #31


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From: Between The Worlds



Acadian: Hopefully they will be magnificent!

Betrayed by too many betrayals. Who ever would have seen that coming? Thanks for catching that!


Chapter 4.1

Aela resisted the urge to elbow Loria. The Light Elf was fidgeting again, as was his wont when made to wait. First it was his leg bouncing up and down a hundred times a minute. Then he was drumming his palms on his thighs. This made it clear that Loria was no musician. Now he was loudly cracking his knuckles, his neck, and all the other joints in his body. Aela knew that next would come his amethyst ring. First he would spin it around his finger, then he would take it off and roll it around on the nearest table.

Aela tried to ignore the pent-up ball of energy that was her Silaine friend, and instead turned her gaze around the room once more. The chamber was floored with polished hardwood. Divided into square panels three feet on a side, each section of floor was made up of a diagonal mesh, framed with strips of oak. The walls were painted a soothing shade of cream, complementing the gold that gilded them. Sunlight spilled in from windows lining one wall, enhanced by the light of several glowstones set into sconces along the opposite side of the room.

A huge mural of the world goddess Dohman took up the entire ceiling. Here she had fallen into her long slumber after giving birth to the gods. Surrounding her were her children: Mhuira the sea god, Sirona the healing goddess, Esus the woodworker, Toutatis the defender, Karnon the horned god, Tarann the god of thunder, Suil the goddess of rivers, Brighinde the goddess of fire, poetry, and smithing, Mhorlor the raven goddess of magic and death, and many others.

The new gods were singing to their mother, and from their music sprang the first of the solascran, the great glowing trees of the Light Elves' far-off land. Then came the elves themselves, and finally the other races. Shining high in the sky over all were Dohman's own progenitors: Egrieine the sun god, and Gealas the moon goddess.

All of Creation loomed overhead. It was a big ceiling.

"Lord Camna will see you now." Aela nearly started at the servant's voice. He was a young man, with the olive skin and dark hair that bespoke of Rasenna birth. The green and white livery he wore was of soft velvet and silk, stitched with cloth of gold. Aela was certain that he was wearing more than she was worth, not counting the loot she and Loria had so recently gained from the Dark Barrow.

"Brilliant!" Loria sprang to his feet in delight. He hefted the canvas sack at his feet with an effort. Then Aela felt a wash of weight-reducing mana flow down the elf's fingers. "Let's get cracking then!"

Aela rose feeling less enthusiastic than her partner in spells. Her own gentrified birth notwithstanding, she never liked dealing with aristocrats. They literally lived according to their own laws, and woe betide any mere commoner whom they decided to cross.

The youthful retainer led them to a grand hall. The polished green marble floor was inlayed with the design of a great white stag's head with spreading antlers. The vaulted ceiling was supported by a double row of circular columns that were leafed with gold. Sunlight pierced the chamber from clerestories floating high overhead, filling the hall with warmth. A pair of massive bronze doors led to the street outside. Across the room brooded a second, mahogany-paneled door, nestled between by a pair of curving staircases that rose to the second floor of the manor,

Coming from that door was a human woman wearing a simple gray tunic. A cape of the same color fell to her knees, with its attached hood thrown back over her shoulders. Her legs were covered by white leggings of the Skanjr fashion, tied about with gray cord. Her hair was white as snow, matching her milk-pale skin. Her features were delicate, beautiful even. Yet from a distance Aela could not miss the mass of long scars that marred her left cheek and chin.

Aela might have thought she was a Light Elf, like Loria. But while her skin and hair were the right color, her gray eyes were far too plain, and her ears failed to poke through the strands of her hair with a characteristic elven point. For that matter, her hair looked rough and coarse, words never associated with any elf. She was clearly human, and Aela wondered if she might be an albino?

As the mages approached, another servant appeared alongside the white-haired woman. He seemed to be the double of the man who led them. This new retainer was much older however, with a neat-beard sprinkled with gray. Father and son, the Arvern Witch imagined.

The older servant handed the woman a bared longsword of silvery astril. Its double-edged blade was a good three and a half feet long, including a blunt ricasso that stretched a hand-span above the guard. The crossbar curved slightly toward the point, thickening as it did so. The long hilt was wrapped with what appeared be dark leather, and ended at a large pommel shaped like a multi-faceted scent stopper.

White-Hair took the weapon without a sound. A silver glow emanated from her hand and flowed down across the sword. Aela could feel the mana rising in both woman and weapon, clear and cold as a mountain stream. The sword faded into the light, and vanished entirely.

"Now that is something you don't see every day," Aela said dryly.

"Aura-bonding," Loria said, "an ancient technique. I read about it in some of the restricted books."

The older servant openly gawked for a moment. Then he composed himself. With a grunt of effort, he handed the woman a massive book, bound with cracked brown leather. The great volume must have been heavier than a money-lender's conscience, but the white-haired woman tucked it under one arm with only a nod to the retainer. He said nothing to her, and Aela noted a sour look on the middle-aged man's face. White-Hair paid him no more heed, and instead turned and strode purposely across the hall toward Aela and Loria.

She stared Aela directly in the eye as she approached, without flinching or even blinking. Aela gave back her stare evenly, and noted that like the rest of her monochrome appearance, the swordswoman's eyes were hard gray steel.

As they closed, Aela shifted her perception to the aether. White-Hair's aura sprang to life in a brilliant tapestry. She appeared normal in the spirit realm, possessing bright threads of power that spoke of magical training. Aela saw no signs of albinism in her aura, though with such a cursory glance she imagined she might simply be overlooking it. What she did feel most of all from the other woman was... coldness. Like the steel of her eyes, or the snowy mane of coarse hair that spilled from her scalp. Aela could not put her finger upon why, but she felt a chill crawl up her spine as they silently passed one another.

Aela pulled her senses back to the mundane world. The chill passed, and a moment later she felt the warmth of the sun kissing her skin. Aela spared a glance back at the white swordswoman, and wondered if she had imagined the entire thing?

"Who was that?" Loria's voice lilted softly beside her.

The young retainer made a sound that was half grumble and half growl. "Just some hired thug," he murmured in a low voice, "no one of interest."

A hired thug who could magically meld her sword into her aura, and took a book as some form of payment? Now that sounded interesting to Aela.

"She never blinked," Loria whispered in an even softer voice, one Aela knew was meant for only her. "Not once, the entire time."

"She didn't breathe either," Aela replied in an equally low tone.



The woman in white

her sword


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Acadian
post Jun 30 2018, 08:47 PM
Post #32


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From: Las Vegas



Nice to see you unleash the full slender of your description gun. A delightful picture of her bouncing, musically-challenged elven partner in spells. Followed by a wonderful description of the ‘waiting’ chamber they were in. I like how the ceiling mural so unobtrusively allowed you to share some of the religious aspects of Aela’s world. A very well-done opening scene.

’Aela was certain that he was wearing more than she was worth, …’ - - Love how cleverly this makes the point.

More opulence in the next room. . . and a mysterious white haired scarred woman.

"She didn't breathe either," Aela replied in an equally low tone.’ - - Oh. My. Goodness. It’s Persephone!!! ohmy.gif tongue.gif


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haute ecole rider
post Jul 3 2018, 03:44 PM
Post #33


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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



YASSSS! Pursephone! I made the connection as soon as I read this:
QUOTE
"She never blinked," Loria whispered in an even softer voice, one Aela knew was meant for only her. "Not once, the entire time."

"She didn't breathe either," Aela replied in an equally low tone.


Then I saw the screenshot and cheered!

Looking forward to more!

And of course, meeting the villagers before the visit to the noble's home. Liked how they tried to entice our pair with the promise of loot. That never seems to pan out, does it? As I'm sure dozens of pirates will tell ya . . .


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SubRosa
post Jul 7 2018, 08:50 PM
Post #34


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Acadian: I was originally going to simply describe how lavishly furnished the noble's mansion was, in order to show how rich he is. That waiting room was meant to overawe all of his visitors. I was looking at pictures of RL Renaissance palaces like Versailles, and that led me to the idea of working in a subtle lesson in cosmology into the description. I am glad it worked out so well. It is like Zalphon was saying before about trying to use dialogue to convey information. Except in this case the dialogue was all in Aela's eyes.

btw. speaking of Versailles, the crosshatched hardwood floor was taken directly from that of Versailles (it seems to be very popular even today)


haute ecole rider: As you both noted, that was indeed the Living Dead Girl. She underwent a number of alterations to make her fit into the story and world. In fact, her actions form a very important (and horrific) part of ancient history, as will be alluded to later. Her name is now Phereinon (among other titles), she wears different armor, her sword Malediction is different from the games, etc... But deep down in that cold undead heart she is still the Persephone we know and love.

Hopefully the bandits will pay of well enough for Aela and Loria to keep up on their student loans.


Chapter 4.2

Then they were at the door between the staircases, and the younger servant ushered them past. They found themselves within a study whose floor was covered in thick Aymaran carpets. A desk of glowing solascran wood stood before a pair of wide windows. A full suit of ancient Rasen bronze armor was fitted out upon an arming dummy. A line of weapons stretched out to either side of it, old bronze swords and spears, a bright astril arming sword, a gleaming black lorcras great sword, even a recruve bow of the Aymaran nomads from Tiwanaku's deserts.

The bust of a bearded man that Aela recognized as the ancient philosopher Aritosthene graced one pedestal, flanked by other worthies whom she could not identify. Books sat in state like honored heroes within a series of velvet-lined cases. She recognized a few from their counterparts in the Ingenium's library: The Golden Bough, Mercurus the Thrice Great, The Book of Dzyan, The Mysteries of Magic were ensconced in glory, along with and more worthy manuscripts of magic and history by Trithemia, Agrapina, Heirdot, Alorri-Zrokros, and others.

Aela noted a space missing in one of the display cases, large enough to accommodate a book. For a moment her mind went to the one that the white-haired swordswoman had carried out with her. But that grand folio had been far too large to fit in the space that Aela saw. No, it must have been a different, more ordinary-sized volume that had wandered free.

A full-sized chariot of her own people - the Arvern - stood along one wall of the room. Floating above a pair of small wooden wheels, the simple, square cab was made of oak. Semi-circular panels rose knee-high to either side, but left front and back open. A long tongue stretched out before it, fitted with a yoke for two horses. Aela imagined that it must have been a replica, since no one had used such things since before the Skanjr came, centuries ago. In fact, now that she thought about it, nothing else in the room appeared to be less than four hundred years old.

Behind the glowing wooden desk and beyond the glass panes of the window was a wide atrium open to the sun. Green grass and flowering plants lined the airy expanse. In its center rose a marble fountain carved in the likeness of Sea Elves with arms raised high, as if they were drawing the fountain's water up into the air with their magic, only for it to spill about them in a crystalline shower.

Sitting behind the desk was a thickly-set Rasen dressed in black brocade crusted with rubies and stitched with cloth-of-gold. His mustache was black as pitch, but the gray, neatly-trimmed beard underneath betrayed his years. His raven hair was brushed back from his forehead in widow's peak. The dark eyes that stared out underneath were as fathomless and piercing as the abyss.

Still, Aela noted a slight tremble in his fingers as he inelegantly set down a gem-encrusted drinking cup. It clattered loudly upon the golden tray he set it upon, nearly knocking over a crystal carafe that was only half-filled with a smoky, amber liquid. The cup was clearly empty, otherwise it would have sloshed its contents all over.

Standing in each corner of the room was a warrior clad in mail overlaid by hardened leather vests. These were dyed green and emblazoned with a white stag's head. Their round shields were likewise decorated, and swords hung from their hips. Two of the oathmen were Rasen from their olive skin. The third's straw hair and liquid blue eyes betrayed his Skanjr heritage. While the final one bore the green skin and tusks of an Assina, one of the Forest Orcs from far off Hiakwia.

They were less than four hundred years old, Aela thought wryly.

"My Lord Camna," Loria said with polished courtesy and bowed graciously. Aela curtseyed beside the elf, hoping she did not trip over her feet as she did so.

"I have been looking forward to meeting you, certainly more so than my other business of late." The Rasen looked away for a moment, to the empty spot in his book displays. His features fell into shadow, and he brooded for long moments upon the missing volume.

Camna rose from behind his glowing desk and strode around to face them directly. He was a great bear of a man, whose frame was sadly the worse for wear from too much good food and the merciless advance of age. Yet when he stared down at Aela, it was a great black wolf she was reminded of, that gazed down upon a sheep.

"You are Aela, are you not?" He gestured for them to rise, and both she and Loria straightened. "I understand you are the first ardhanari to graduate from our old school's hallowed halls. The honor is all mine."

Now Aela noted the crystal-adorned staff beside the desk, and the testamur framed in glass upon one wall. Its fine calligraphy proclaimed Serves Camna to have graduated from the Ingenium as a Master of the Arcane, just as her own did.

"My lord is most kind," Aela stammered, hunting for words that would not come to her tongue. She could feel the mana within him, and detected a glint in his eyes that showed he was aesensing her. She resisted doing the same, and could not help but feel like one of the many prizes he kept cased in glass around the study.

"Nonsense," Camna said with a matter-of-fact air that belied his obvious wealth and power. He spoke more like a tradesman than a pampered noble. "Kindness is something I have never been accused of, and for good reason."

He leaned his not inconsiderable bulk back upon the edge of his desk, and waved his oathmen away. The warriors filed from the room with a stamping of feet and jingle of steel, leaving the three alone.

"I mostly keep them around for show," he almost winked at Aela after the last shut the door behind him. "But sometimes they earn their keep."

Apparently he did not expect the warriors to need to earn their keep with her and Loria, unlike with the white-haired swordswoman. Aela supposed that was a compliment.

"Is it true that you, changed yourself?" The older man's gesture to Aela's private parts made it plain what he meant, "with magic?"

"Yes it is my lord," Aela tried not to flush. But the aristocrat's stare made it hard not to feel self-conscious. "I rewove the threads of my aura. Well, I still am to tell the truth."

"And in so doing you rewove the threads of your body as well, remaking yourself in your own image," the old man sighed. "Amazing, simply amazing."

"I admire those who master their own fate, regardless of the opposition or consequences. You and I have that much in common. I graduated the Ingenium without two eagles to rub together, and a debt to a money-lender the size of the Bronze Sea. But from such humble beginnings I was able to build all of this."

"Let us hope that Aela and I are even half as successful," Loria said dryly.

Camna laughed, but it was a bitter sound, whose humor did not reach his eyes. It felt more like a pale imitation of happiness, made by someone who had never known real joy, "And you, an outsider elf, son of an outcast. How many times did you smuggle books in and out of the restricted section of the library? Aule Cursni always swore he would catch you at it and throw you out, but here you stand despite his best efforts."

"Well, the headmaster did come close that one time in-"

"I'm sure Lord Camna doesn't want to hear about that," Aela shot the elf a glance. What smuggler wanted to brag about his infamy? "Perhaps my Lord would like to see what we brought him?"

"Yes, down to business." the Rasen looked at the sack pooled at Loria's feet. "My man said you brought me a suit of armor for my collection."

"Why not a mere suit of armor," Loria clucked, "but rather an opportunity. One to fulfill a lifetime of collecting."

"An opportunity it is then?" Camna raised an eyebrow. "You should come work for me. I can have you selling water to the Sea Elves."

"I've already done that..." Loria breathed as bent down and opened the bag. From its canvas depths he produced the suit of lorcras armor most recently worn by the high priest of the Dark Barrow. Cleaned of blood and grime, its glossy black lamellar plates reflected the sunlight with a high sheen. Each individual lamellae was an individual work of art, embossed with gently curving designs of fantastic beasts, astronomical symbols, and even floral motifs.

"It is a good thing I have more than two Alalian eagles to rub together these days." Camna's eyes glowed as he stared at the ancient Silor armor.



Serves Camna


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Acadian
post Jul 8 2018, 09:38 PM
Post #35


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From: Las Vegas



Very much a pleasure to read as you weave this tale. Once again, your rich descriptions continue to reveal the considerable wealth of their host.

"My lord is most kind," Aela stammered, hunting for words that would not come to her tongue. She could feel the mana within him, and detected a glint in his eyes that showed he was aesensing her. She resisted doing the same, and could not help but feel like one of the many prizes he kept cased in glass around the study.’
- - I quoted this for two reasons. First, you expertly craft a lot of goodness into this concise paragraph. Once again you show us Aela’s discomfort with being the center of attention and how she is challenged to find the right words when on the spot even as you give us much insight into Camna. Second, I found the word ‘aesensing’ to be unfamiliar. Did you mean assessing or was I simply unable to find its meaning?

Camna’s blunt and potentially awkward question about her being a changeling was well managed by Aela – likely due to experience at answering similar questions. Camna’s open-minded and supportive response revealed his keen interest in all things magic.

I also enjoyed how naturally you revealed more of Loria’s background as he and Camna discussed ‘good old days’ back at the Ingenium.


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SubRosa
post Jul 14 2018, 04:09 PM
Post #36


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From: Between The Worlds



Acadian: I wanted to show that with an item as rare and valuable as ancient Dark Elf armor, you didn't simply go to an ordinary armor shop to sell it. Instead you go to rich collectors, like with stolen art! laugh.gif

I went into writing this section without much forethought on what Camna as like. I found that pic of Orson Welles and stared it for a while, and he came together for me. A great black wolf, whose free time has gone to collecting historical and magical artifacts of all kinds (which in turn act as visible demonstrations of his wealth and power). All of the wealth displayed in his home is not mere vanity, but a calculated act meant to overawe visitors.

Aesensing is my own made up word, short for aetherial sensing. I will use it throughout the story.

Lora/Ungarion's background has always been vague and unplumbed. Changing that is one of my challenges with Loria. In this world his race does not mingle as freely with others as Altmer do in Tamriel. So I have been working on how it is he was born and raised in a human city. His father being an exile is the first part of that picture.


Chapter 5.1

"Perhaps we might take ship to Felathri." Loria paused to take a sip of wine from his cup. "It is said they are war with Priana. They probably want to make up for that land they lost to Alalia."

"Perhaps not," Aela frowned, "I still remember how Alalia dragged us out of the Ingenium and into that war of theirs. Thousands of people lining up and killing one another, and for what? So their highborns could have bragging rights for the next decade?"

"Well, there was that copper mine too..." Loria noted.

"And innocent people getting caught in the middle, only to be dispossessed, robbed, or murdered." Aela shivered. "Not again."

"I did not mean we would fight in it," the Light Elf said. "Wherever there is a war, there are always other opportunities."

"I think we can find enough opportunities here in Veia," Aela insisted. "You told me yourself that this city was built on gold."

"Aye, but I'd sooner not have to use a shovel to get it…" Loria murmured.

Aela shook her head and took another bite from her lunch. The hot piadina was filled with grilled chicken, diced tomatoes, strips of sharp cheese, and bubbling with extra flavor thanks to a sprinkling of basil. The sandwich was far too good for street fare, and she vowed to return to this hot food stand whenever they were in Veia.

The kiosk that sold the delicious food possessed a simple cloth awning to provide shade from the sun. Beneath ran a long stone counter, whose surface was lined with large holes filled with earthenware jars. Each brimmed with a different form of hot meat, fish, or mulled wine. Sprigs of garlic and other spices hung from the canvas awning, and farther back in the stand loaves of fresh bread and wheels of cheese were stacked on a table, with bottles of wine and ale sitting on the pavestones underneath.

Like most of the other patrons, Aela and Loria sat at a long table beside the food stand. Just a few feet away horse and hadrosaur-drawn wagons and carts clattered along the cobblestone street. Pedestrians dodged between them, and crowded either side of the avenue. It seemed that people of every race and animals of all kinds were packed into every square inch of space, along with their sounds, and especially their smells. Whitewashed stone buildings rose two and three stories high all about, and the streets went on and on like a tangled ball of yarn in all directions. The sprawling city was like a world unto itself.

Aela missed the smaller towns along the shores of the Bronze Sea, with their fresh air and quieter avenues. Or better still, the Stone Forest between Veia and Kye Rim. While rocky and often inhospitable, the karst landscape and its quiet earth spirits provided a welcome respite from the press of humanity. That rough land had little to offer people, especially when there was rich farmland along the coasts of the two seas which bracketed the isthmus upon which Veia and the badlands sat. So only a few daring, or desperate, folk lived there.

The rumble of laughter from a deep throat roused Aela from her ruminations and brought her head around to view its author. Across the street from her and Loria were their acquaintances from Agrigento. Towering above the Kye Rim farmers was the largest Skanjr she had ever seen, wearing mail armor and sporting a long axe nearly as tall as he was.

"Scalebacks make me laugh!" the blond giant guffawed in broken Rasen. He slapped Daehyun on the back with enough force to send the linen-clad Teodon stumbling away. Then the Skanjr lumbered off down the avenue while the other Agrigentans stared in shock and dismay.

"It seems our friends from Agrigento are not doing so well with their plan to hire mercenaries," Loria dryly observed through a bite of his own flatbread sandwich. "Perhaps we should lend our assistance?"

"Are you planning to pay off Mamarce the Knee with rice?" Aela shook her head and took a sip of wine from the worn cup the food stand had provided. It was far from the luxurious Recie or Amaron wines of Alalia, but at least it was not tepid water or stale beer. "In case you have forgotten, our education did not come for free."

"Thanks to those cultists, we have enough gold in the temple to keep Mamarce at bay for a long time," Loria insisted. "Besides, if these raiders pay out nearly as well as those cannibals did, I expect we will be making more than food and drink from this venture."

"There are fifty of them," Aela pointed out. "Don't you think that's a bit much for even us?"

"All the more for us to loot afterward," Loria waved a dismissive hand in the air. "Besides, I am sure we can conjure up a few swords to even up the odds."

Aela shook her head. She knew there was nothing she could say to sway the Silaine's mind. She had the feeling that it was not even the promise of loot that had set the hook in the wizard's mouth. Rather it was his sense of adventure. She had known him long enough to realize that he would do this sort of thing just for the fun of it alone. Money was only an added incentive.

The next thing the Arvern Witch knew, her friend was waving the four Agrigentans over to the table where they sat. Aela ate the last of her piadina in silence as they crowded around, and drew stares from many of the other patrons of the food stand.

"How goes your recruitment efforts?" Loria asked.

"I am afraid you just saw how well," Vesia frowned. "We even had an audience with the zilath in the castle, but he will not send troops into Kye Rim. We tried the White Company and the Frisverd this morning. The Whites are out of the city, fighting in some war up north. The Frisverd had just returned from some other place it seemed, and their leader turned us down as well."

"We have done no better at hiring individual mercenaries either," old Hyunsu lamented with a down-turned head. "No one will help us."

"Fear not," Loria declared. "Aela and I have discussed it, and we are with you."

Aela just shook her head again as she chewed the last bite of her basil-flavored chicken sandwich.

"Good!" Ranazu practically boomed. "It's about time we found someone around here with stones."

"Oh, it's not the stones that are the problem," Loria rose to his feet. "It's a matter of finding the right people, at the right time, in the right way."

"And with the right amount of hunger," Aela added.

Loria ignored the quip, and continued. "First, you need to stop asking people off the street. That is never going to work. They are either going to laugh at you like that Skanjr, or you are going to end up with some cutthroat who will murder you in your sleep."

"So where do we find these people?" Vesia asked. "I thought surely the Frisverd or the other mercenary company would conjure up any number of warriors."

"They have their bottom line to think of," Aela said, standing up beside Loria. "This is a contract that is going to tie up their resources for a long time. So it has to pay their expenses for that entire period. You just don't have the money for that, and they cannot gamble on the loot from the bandits making up the difference."

"What we need are people who are footloose," Loria said, "not tied down with families to support, rent to pay, that sort of thing. Hrollaug from the Frisverd is married and has children. For most men that would be reason enough to stay away from home as long as possible! But by some miracle he actually enjoys being a father, so he doesn't like hiring his company out for long stretches away from the city. Our prospects will be folk who can just pick up and wander to another part of the world at the drop of a hat."

"So where can they be found?" Ranazu asked.

"Why at the tavern of course!" Loria grinned.


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Acadian
post Jul 14 2018, 09:27 PM
Post #37


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From: Las Vegas



Aesensing – Yes, I thought perhaps you had intentionally created the word. It does fit in and gives exactly the impression you intend. I also wanted to compliment you on your nice, relaxed posting schedule – frequent enough to stay fully engaged yet slowly enough to fully savor each episode and look forward to the next. And finally, I also applaud your episode length discipline; I see you are still working with the guidelines we all sort of developed several years ago for ‘just right’ episode length.


Your opening here, as the pair of mages debated their plans, filled the senses with the tastes, sounds and smells of the crowded maze-like street venue. I could clearly envision the scene.

A smooth and natural-feeling segue back to the story’s premise – a rice farming village in trouble. So the die is cast, even as you show us more of what makes the adventurous elf and the more cautious witch he travels with tick.

So it is to be mercenary hunting at the tavern is it? The task sounds perfectly suited to Aela's silver-tongued elven pal. tongue.gif


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haute ecole rider
post Jul 18 2018, 08:02 PM
Post #38


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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



I continue to draw inferences between your fiction and both the saegeuks and the Japanese samurai/American Western classics. I need to dust off my copy of The Magnificent Seven to refresh my memory regarding the personalities of the characters involved. I do enjoy this sort of fiction - while it's immersive and sweeps me along with its hadrosaur drawn carts and the food stands (fondly remember those from the Teresa fan fiction), I enjoy the memories and thoughts and associations it stirs up in the Murkmire of my mind.


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SubRosa
post Jul 21 2018, 09:02 PM
Post #39


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From: Between The Worlds



Acadian: We are finally getting to the start of the start, so to speak, with the Seven being drawn together.


haute ecole rider: One thing I like about classic westerns is that while their protagonists were not perfect, there was never any ambiguity about their actions. They fought the good fight, and their opponents were always those fighting the bad one. Likewise, samurai movies always had an epic feel, even if it was just seven samurai taking on a band of thugs for the sake of some farmers.

I work hard to not only create vivid characters, but also a vivid landscape for them to play their roles out upon. The hadrosaurs, the food stands, mages working as ship's navigators, etc... When I am reading books or watching tv and movies, the more real the world feels, the more I care about the people in it. That is what I always like about Marvel comics using real settings like New York, over DC's made up ones like Metropolis, Central City, or Midway City, etc.. The made up ones just don't feel real. Only Gotham has come to seem like a real place to me, because of how long it has been around and how consistently it has been portrayed.




Chapter 5.2

The Light Elf led the Agrigentans across the city. They paused at a three-way intersection. To their right a wide boulevard led to large square. Beyond that rose a great palace of white marble, topped by a huge dome of what appeared to shining gold in its center. Smaller domes of bronze rose from each corner of the palace. The pennant of the city flew from a staff rising atop each: a crowned man riding a dolphin, holding a spear in one hand, and a shield in the other.

Ranazu whistled. "Who lives there?"

"No one," Loria said.

"People call it the Font of Gold," Aela explained. "The Captain's Council meets there, to argue about how they run the city."

"I thought the zilath ruled over Veia?" the old Teodon Hyunsu wondered aloud.

"He is just an executive appointed by the council," Loria said. "He oversees all the day to day affairs that keep the city running. Collecting taxes and customs duties, commanding the army, and so on. He has that castle overlooking the Spout at the western tip of the city. But in the end he is just the council's errand boy. The real power in Veia lies in the Font."

In spite of what the Light Elf said, he turned away from the palace, and led them in the opposite direction. He stayed on the same street through several more intersections, and finally the avenue became lined with armor and weapon smiths, and the faint sound of metal dinging against metal wafted from the buildings and into Aela's ears.

They passed the White Company's compound, marked by a banner of a white horse against a blue background. The area looked nearly deserted, with only a few women hanging up laundry and children playing in evidence. Aela imagined that the mercenary company itself must be in Felathri, fighting in that war Loria had mentioned earlier.

"I do not see any taverns," the human farmer Ranazu noted.

"All in good time," Loria smiled. "First we shall make our rounds with the armorers and weaponsmiths. They may know of good hands looking for work."

They were approaching their third shop when the glass window that fronted the armorer exploded out in a shower of jagged shards. Bursting through the opening were two humans wrapped in a violent embrace. One was a dark-haired young Rasen clad in velvet and silk, a sword clenched in his hand. The other was a white-haired woman in pale linen, who appeared to be unarmed.

It was the same white-haired woman they had seen at the Camna estate!

Aela leaped back along with the others, to give the two room in the street. So too did the other passersby. Traffic halted in the street, as everyone stopped to stare.

The pair hit the ground and rolled to a halt in the street. White-Hair sprang instantly to her feet. She whipped the gray cape from her shoulders and passed it between her hands, twisting it into a cord. The Rasen man rose more slowly, and Aela saw that he possessed a neatly trimmed beard. His eyes flashed with anger as he leveled his gold-hilted sword at the pale woman. Bared and in its full glory, the fine sword practically trumpeted the name Princely Gift at Aela.

"Justice will be done upon you assassin!" he cried.

Without another word he lunged forward and stabbed at the woman. She neatly side-stepped, and threw her cloak around his wrist. Catching the free end, she wound it tighter, trapping the Rasen's sword arm. Twisting his arm up and around, she effortlessly flipped him across her back and down to the paving stones below. The sword clattered from his nerveless fingers, and she bent to pick it up by the blade with one hand, releasing his wrist from her cloak in the process.

Now armed men came boiling out of the shop after them. All wore green leather vests emblazoned with a white stag's head, and long-sleeved mail hauberks underneath. They gripped straight, double-edged swords of the Skanjr type, and carried green and white shields.

"Oathmen of House Camna," Loria murmured. Aela too, recognized the distinctive livery from their recent business with Lord Serves Camna. But she had little time to consider what that might mean, as the warriors charged upon the mysterious white-haired woman.

A red-haired Skanjr burst through the window, while two Rasen charged through the front door in single-file. White-Hair threw her cape at the face of the first man through the door. He ducked to avoid the missile. But the man behind him literally never saw it coming, and staggered blindly as the cloth wrapped about his face.

Then the Skanjr who had leaped through the window was upon White-Hair. He stabbed with his sword, and she used Princely Gift to deflect it to one side. Rather than gripping the sword by the hilt, she still held the purloined weapon by the blade, point to the ground. With the Skanjr's blade swept toward his shield side, she stepped in closer. Her flatted palm jammed into the side of his armored head, followed by the pommel Princely Gift, which crashed into his face. The nasal of his spangenhelm saved his nose from ruination. But he still ended up flying backward onto the pavement. Now Aela noted that White-Hair had slyly inserted a foot behind his ankle, which the warrior had tripped over.

Now the first oathman through of the door was upon her. She effortlessly parried his sword stroke with Princely Gift. Again, she moved chest to chest with the Rasen, grabbing his sword wrist with her free hand. Her right leg swept out and caught his own right ankle, and toppled him to the ground. A quick kick to the head followed, and Aela winced involuntarily. One of the plates from his spangenhelm burst completely from its rivets and clattered away down the street, dented almost beyond recognition.

By now the third oathman had freed himself of White-Hair's cloak. He was upon her before she could dodge, and slammed his shield directly into her unarmored face. Aela saw her nose buckle under the impact, but otherwise her head barely moved.

White-Hair smiled, and her eyes glowed silver-white, like stars on a clear night. Aela shivered as a wave of ice seemed to wash over her body. Then White-Hair grabbed the top rim of the Rasen's shield and yanked it - and him - closer. At the same time she leaned into him, and smashed her bare forehead into his armored one.

That should have been a foregone conclusion. But it was the armored man who fell limply to the pavement.

There was clearly much more to this woman than met the eye. Or the mundane eye at least. Aela shifted her senses to the aether, and closely studied the mystery woman's aura. Like at the Camna estate, it shone with the bright light of a magical adept. But other than that, she appeared completely normal. Except of course for that glacial coldness, that nearly chilled Aela to the bone.

Now Aela noticed that even though White-Hair was exerting herself to the utmost, the threads of power that governed her body appeared calm and at rest. For example, there were no signs of faster breathing or heartbeats, nor even of sweat. Aela searched for the web of magical fibers that governed the woman's shattered nose, yet found nothing in them out of place.

"She's cloaking her aura!" Loria whispered into her ear. "Aranath wrote about it in Hidden Magic. The technique was used by human slaves to escape the notice of their Dark Elf masters, and later to hide from Inquisitors during the Sacerdotium's rule."

"Let me guess, one of your books from the restricted section?" Aela smiled wryly, not taking her attention from White-Hair."

"Of course!" the elven mage replied. "I did thumb through a few of them, from time to time."

Three more oathmen of House Camna came from the shop. One was a gray-skinned Guzuk orc, armed with the point-heavy kopis his people were known for. Next was a brown-haired Arvern carrying a leaf-shaped sword with a pommel that flared out to either side like a pair of antenna. Finally came a dark Rasen armed with a straight, double-edged Skanjr-style sword.

They did not rush in as their predecessors had. Instead they moved slowly around White-Hair, careful to stay out of her reach. They beat the flats of their blades against the iron rims of their wooden shields. In spite of the quick work White-Hair had made of their comrades, their eyes showed no fear. They were wolves, closing in for the kill.

In the meantime the first Rasen, clad in velvet and silk rather than armor, had climbed to his feet off to one side. "Murderer," he hissed, drawing a jeweled dagger from his hip. Still, he made no move to enter battle himself.

Once they had White-Hair surrounded, the oathmen all moved in at once. The Guzuk and Arvern in front of her shouted loudly. The orc struck high, the human low. Somehow White-Hair parried and dodged each of the simultaneous attacks. But she could not ward off the final, silent attack from the Rasen behind her. The rounded point of his double-edged sword sank deeply into her lower back, and Aela shook her head. Surely this would end it.

But it didn't. White-Hair did not slow for an instant. Pivoting on her hips, she sent a crushing back kick into the midsection of the Rasen. Aela heard a distinctive crack, and her aethersight witnessed the threads of his vertebrae shatter. The hapless oathman fell to the ground with a broken back.

His comrades did not slacken their efforts however. The orc bashed with his shield, which again had no effect upon White-Hair, but did trap her stolen sword against its surface for a moment. At the same time the Arvern brought his antenna sword down in a high, slanting cut.

White-Hair dropped to the ground, and the sword sailed harmlessly overhead. She swept out with one foot to trip the shield-basher. But the orc leapt up with both feet to avoid the trip. White-Hair sprang back to her feet in an instant. But she was too slow, for the Arvern stabbed out with his leaf-blade, burying the weapon deep into her shoulder.

Aela shifted her senses out of the aether and back to the meat world. Now she noted that there was no blood, not from the stab to her back, nor from this most recent wound. A magician skilled in vitamancy could easily stop the flow of blood. Aela did it all the time when treating wounds. But to do it in the middle of a fight, before the wounds were even incurred, that was inconceivable.

It was almost as if White-Hair had no blood to begin with...

White-Hair dropped Princely Gift, and before the Arvern could withdraw his sword, she grabbed it. Aela noted that she took care to grip the weapon by pinning the flat of the blade between the tops of her fingers and the palm of her hand, so that the edge did not touch her skin. The oathman tried to pull his sword back for another blow, but could not budge it from White-Hair's grasp.

Now she twisted to the side, tearing the point out of her shoulder, but only after gouging out a long line of flesh with it. Again, there was no blood. She pulled on the sword as she twisted, dragging the Arvern with it. He blundered into his comrade, who was beginning a cut with his kopis. The orc's sword was fouled by the Arvern, and both went stumbling to one side.

White-Hair released her grip on the antenna sword and came up behind the Arvern. Before he could react, she wrapped her hands around his waist. Bending backwards, she effortlessly lifted his armored form up over her head in a belly to back suplex. Continuing in a swift, fluid motion, she bent over completely backwards, so that her hair brushed the paving stones. The oathman flew above her, and his head and shoulders slammed directly into the street with a crunching of bone.

White-Hair twisted to one side after the back arch throw and bounced to her feet. The final oathman stared at her. His sword clattered to the ground, followed by his shield. But the gray-skinned Guzuk was not surrendering. Instead he moved forward with fists raised.

"Is he mad?" one of the Teodon gaped. "She'll kill him!"

"I don't think so," Aela observed. "She has not killed a single one of them." Indeed, White-Hair had stunned, concussed, and crippled the oathmen. But not one of their injuries would be fatal. In fact, Aela knew from personal experience that with skilled magical healing every one of them would be back on their feet as hale and hearty as before.

"For someone called an assassin and murderer, her singular avoidance of killing is most interesting," Loria said.

The two came together and traded blows in the orc-style of kick-boxing. Using fists and feet, they exchanged a flurry of strikes and counters. Blood and part of a tusk sailed from the orc's mouth. His answering blows had less effect however. In fact, Aela now saw that White-Hair's nose was just as straight and true as it had been before the earlier shield-bash had crushed it. Likewise, the wound on her shoulder had closed, and there was no sign of the stab to her back. As Aela watched, even the skinned flesh on her knuckles flowed back together seconds after every punch she landed.

"She's regenerating," Aela noted, " and she's clearly enhanced her strength and speed."

It felt strange, just standing by and watching someone else fighting desperately. But given that she had no idea what this about, she was not going to enter the fray herself. She would be just as likely to be helping whoever was in the wrong as who was in the right. Assuming anyone was in the right.

"Maybe she has armored her skin?" Loria wondered aloud.

"Not enough to stop a sword." Aela shook her head. "I think she is just taking the pain until she heals."

Now the oathman kicked low, at White-Hair's knee. She lifted her leg to block with her shin. She instantly replied with a similar kick with her opposite leg. He likewise blocked, and followed with a knee to her mid-section. She shrugged it off, and landed a hammer blow to his ribs.

The orc seemed unfazed, and launched a push kick directly at White-Hair's jaw. She side-stepped however, and caught his leg with one arm. Twisting to one side, she brought her elbow down hard on the Guzuk's leg. The resulting crack was like thunder in Aela's ears. The orc fell with his shin twisted at a right angle to the rest of his leg. Jagged shards of bone protruded from the rent flesh around the wound, and more blood pooled in the street. He didn't make a sound, but he was clearly finished.

Belly to Back Suplex (German Suplex)


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Acadian
post Jul 22 2018, 07:33 PM
Post #40


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By Julianos’ Little Teapot! ohmy.gif

With the Magnificent Two looking to increase their numbers, they certainly came upon a candidate worth considering!

White Hair is clearly a woman of many mysteries – even beyond the aesensing abilities of Aela. The biggest question surrounding this white-haired master combatant who can regenerate faster than a troll is what motivates her to fight? Will a just cause suffice? Be she potential friend or foe?


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