You leave the store, throwing your pack over your shoulder and tugging your hood down. A quiet mood drifts across the open square, currently occupied by only a dozen or so people in the cold afternoon.Barely half a bell has passed since you arrived in the small town and you intend to leave quickly. It was only yesterday that you encountered pursuers, and as welcome as rest would be you want to avoid being found again.You continue on through the town, your footsteps lost in lazy chatter and ambient noise, but just as you start down a wider road towards the gate something disturbs the peace.Ahead, you see a hardy-looking woman being wrestled past the entrance of a stone-brick structure.“What in the blazes are you thinking, boy?!”The other person is a brown-haired man a few years your elder, yet despite being smaller than the woman he is managing to push her away.“Let-” he pants, “-Me. Go!”He has a simple tanning knife gripped tightly in his right hand. The commotion collects bystanders, and the sight of sharpened metal gathers uneasy murmurs. You stop by the growing crowd. There’s several men in leather and iron armors approaching from some distance away, so the situation should be resolved soon. Despite that you feel tense. There is something strange about the younger man’s expression.With a loud grunt he shoves the larger woman back, and when the woman steadies herself she sees blood flowing from a small cut in the palm of her hand.The brown-haired youth stares at the end of the tanning knife, at the same crimson.“That’s it,” he utters, voice growing from a rasping whisper. “I’ve found it. This is what it needs!”Shouts and cries sound out. The younger man advances with unsteady steps and brandishes the tool, holding it as one would a weapon.>[ ] Intervene before anyone’s hurt.[ ] Keep your head down, leave it to the guards.
>>1430755>[ ] Intervene before anyone’s hurt.
>>1430755I'll stick around for as long as I can, OP. I liked the real first thread, reading over the ones that you have done since now.
You walk forward and pull at the ties around Myrril’s scabbard, detaching it from your waist while pushing your way through the crowd. The town’s guards are close; you can hear them shouting to clear the way. The knife in the youth’s hands is only a tool, not designed to cause harm.Those facts do not lessen your unease. You decide to stop this yourself.The hardy woman recovers from her own shock. There’s a hardness to her, a rigid set to her mouth and brows as she watches the brown-haired youth. She seems ready to tackle the younger man, but when he lifts the stained tool you step in-between the two.Both your scabbards have metal plates reinforcing their sides and ends, and they prove plenty for the small knife. You raise the dark-wooden scabbard with your left hand and deflect the youth’s wild swing, then pull him towards you by the collar of his tunic. He loses balance, and you step to the side to let him stumble past before bashing the end of the scabbard into the back of the young man’s head.A loud thud. The brown-haired youth collapses on the ground, unconscious.It takes the long stretch of silence that follows for you to notice how much attention has turned to you, and how suspicious you must appear having not bothered to lower your traveling cloak’s hood.... Er.All of a sudden a wave of relief sweeps through the crowd. The chatter starts up again, brighter than before; you think some of them might actually be cheering.“Thank you, stranger.”You turn to face the large woman, crouched in front of the collapsed youth and wearing a boisterous grin.“Whatever came over him, it ended with both I and my apprentice unarmed,” she says cheerily, “so you have my gratitude.”
>>1431087You’re saved from having to summon up a response. As quickly as this situation ended, a voice from somewhere behind the crowd starts another.“Arnfrid, Calvus, what are you speaking of? Who are ‘them’?”It belongs to a thin, gaunt woman. She did not speak loudly, but the desperate tone to her words draws your attention and causes the surrounding noise to quieten. In front of her are two men, one pot-bellied and in a fur-lined coat and the other older, more worn, and lightly armoured in iron.The former starts a shaky reply. “A- Amelia, you must have misheard-”“You know something, sirs,” the thin woman states, her eyes widening. “You know something of my son and daughter.”She jumps at the pot-bellied man, taking hold of his coat and shouting. “What are you hiding, Mayor Arnfrid? Tell me!”The older guardsman pulls the shrieking woman away and the two men hurry off, leaving a nervous air over the street.You catch whispers from the bystanders, words and phrases that prick at your ears. Disappearances, maddened animals, and burning blood.>[ ] Tail the mayor and the guard.[ ] Stay. Direct your questions to the larger woman, and her apprentice if he wakes.[ ] Other?
(A note of maybe-importance! This quest updates a few times a day semi-randomly, so just check back whenever.)>>1430879(Aha ha.Welcome, and hope you enjoy the other threads.)
>>1431092>[ ] Stay. Direct your questions to the larger woman, and her apprentice if he wakes.hay your day sorta
>>1431092>[ ] Tail the mayor and the guard.
>>1431092>[ ] Stay. Direct your questions to the larger woman, and her apprentice if he wakes.>[ ] Be sure to ask her about what you just overheard.
If nothing else there are fewer gazes turned your way. You shift your scarf a little higher.The guards who were approaching regard you with some caution, though they too offer a word of thanks for resolving the problem. The few questions they ask are answered by the tough-looking woman, and in their exchange learn that she is a blacksmith and the structure by where she struggled with the young apprentice is her workshop.You are not paying much attention, instead glancing where the two men, the mayor and the guard, had retreated. You excuse yourself as soon as you are able to head in that direction, and though you receive curious looks nobody hinders your way.From what the thin lady said and the hints heard from the townsfolk, you believe you would like to learn what those two men know.You gain sight of the portly man and the weary guard just as they enter two-storied wooden home, shutting the door behind them. Clicking metal follows, the turning of a key, and you look around before slipping into the narrow alley next to the building.There are several windows but the glass is translucent and difficult to see through. You quietly trace the building’s perimeter, and with some fortune find one from which you can hear their muffled speech.
>>1432271“These events can’t just be coincidence. The recruit and Amelia’s kids, and now this. It has to be them.”“Captain, p- please. Even if that were the case, what would you have me do?”“Let us advance on the ruins. Send for help if our numbers are too few.”“There is a magician with them, Calvus. We have too little in funds to hire the men, and what we do have we need for the winter.”“So you would do nothing? The animal problem, the hunters returning with less; you can’t think they are unrelated.”“I- I know. But I don’t see another choice, at least until the season is over.”Footsteps accompany the trailing voice, growing distant. You wait until the sound grows silent, then stand and move out of the alleyway.Ruins. The mention of a magician. An indistinct relation to the issues you heard before.You are uncertain if you should be involved. You are not here to help the town’s plight, after all, yet the ‘animal problem’ sounds very much like something you have encountered previously.That part of the picture, at least, you would clear before leaving.>[ ] Return to the smith. Her apprentice might have awoken.[ ] Look for the lady from earlier. Amelia, was it?
>>1432278>[ ] Look for the lady from earlier. Amelia, was it?
>>1432278>[ ] Return to the smith. Her apprentice might have awoken.
>>1432278>[ ] Return to the smith. Her apprentice might have awoken.We're going to want to question the boy while whatever caused him to go crazy is still relatively recent.
>>1432278>[ ] Return to the smith. Her apprentice might have awoken.Let's find out if whatever made him crazy is related to this.
You make your way back to the main street of the town, deciding to head to the hardy woman’s smithy. The two men think the apprentice’s... behaviour is related to their other problems, and the smith seems to look on you favourably. She should be willing to answer a question or two.The crowd from earlier has dispersed. You reach the squarish stone building and find its entrance left open.Inside is a store. Tools hung on wooden racks, weapons and pieces of armor lying on benches. To your right is a tall counter, to your left a wider entrance that leads to, you presume, the smith’s forge.Across from you is another threshold to what is likely a storeroom, its wooden door left open and allowing two voices to carry out from within. You consider knocking to announce your presence but their conversation stops you on your approach.“I didn’t mean to do that! Any of it, honest!”It seems the apprentice is awake. His voice sounds very different from what you heard before.“Calm down boy. Just tell me what happened.”Quiet moments pass, the younger man stilling his breath.“I was making,” you hear him shift, “t- that.”“Could hear you through the night, boy. But staying awake too long ain’t it, is it.”“No, no. But... it was something Brun spoke about.”
>>1434321“The traveler girl? Didn’t she leave days ago?”“She gave me something. Said it was an eagle’s talon, and if I put a drop of blood on it and left it in the tub before quenching, I could put a part of myself into what I made.”“Blazes, boy. And you did what she said?”“I didn’t think- didn't think that would happen! I was just-”The sound grows faint, drowned out by the painful ringing in your ears.Blood. There is always blood.The strange object in the snow a day ago. The wolves and the great beast before that. And your own...Ah. That is why you were so tense when you observed the earlier struggle.Why you feel so crushing a weight when you hear the apprentice’s words.>[ ] You need to hear details. Head in and speak with them.[ ] Wait for them to finish and talk to the smith.[ ] Other?
>>1434329>[ ] Wait for them to finish and talk to the smith.
>>1434329>[ ] Wait for them to finish and talk to the smith.So, if I'm getting this correctly. We suspect that whatever made him go into a frenzy is the same thing that stirred up that monster and the pack of wolves from back when we were trying to help Myrril?
>>1434329>>[ ] Wait for them to finish and talk to the smith.
Time passes. Only a few minutes. You hear someone’s boots thudding on the stone flooring.You pull your scarf down, taking a deep breath and straightening yourself up, then turn to see the smith woman walk out of the storeroom and notice you with some surprise.“I am sorry. I overheard, and did not want to interrupt.”She smiles widely. You suspect she always does that, rather than being particularly pleased. “Nothing to apologise for, traveler. Were you looking for something?”You stop to think, then simply ask. “Can you tell me about the person your apprentice spoke of?”Brun was the name you heard. The smith tells you she was a traveler who stayed in town for a few days and left recently.“Polite girl about your age. You come from the tribes up north, don’t you?” You nod and she continues. “She might have been from the same, but she didn’t look like one of you; had black hair and wasn’t so light in skin.”The smith gestures to the weapons by your side. “But she carried around one of those Mountainfolk swords, and didn’t look like she stole it. Didn’t think the tribes took in outsiders... well, you’d know better than me.”There is not much more the smith can tell you. The traveler did not speak of herself, and though the apprentice spent some time with her the smith says he knows little about the girl as well.Something does come up when you ask where the traveler may have headed; there is a ruined complex near the town and the smith recalls her asking about it.It may have been only a passing interest, but the mayor and the guard mentioned those ruins as well. And if this traveler is the cause of the apprentice’s outburst...“Are you planning on looking for her?” The smith asks. “Might not be my concern, but I’m thinking it’s safer to stay away.”Perhaps. But you do not have another lead to follow.
>>1435912The ruined complex is not difficult to find. It is almost a bell’s walk after leaving the town but the snowy plains is even, allowing you to see it from afar.There is a vast sense of scale from the ancient stone, even with so much fallen away. Multi-storied structures crumbled to only a few connecting walls, pillars that may have held a ceiling reduced to a fraction of their original height, huge scattered pieces of snow-covered debris.You stop. A staircase leads into the complex, but what you heard from the mayor and the guard comes to mind.The group of people. The two men did not call them bandits or anything alike, but the guard was not uncertain when suggesting hostile action. The magician the mayor mentioned. Magic users are rare up north, and though you have confidence in your skills you have also never had a spell pointed your way.It would be ideal if you could avoid violence. Not only due to your injury.It is late afternoon and visibility is unhindered. You watch for a while, seeing little movement save for stirrings from the blowing wind.If that group mentioned by the mayor and the guard truly are here, and if they are linked to the town’s problems and to the traveler girl, you are not sure if you could safely walk in.>[ ] Approach with caution. Look around and scout, see if you can find anyone.[ ] Wait until evening. You might be safer with lower light.[ ] Wait until late night. Your own visibility would be poor, but you could move mostly unseen.
>>1435917>[ ] Approach with caution. Look around and scout, see if you can find anyone.The best way to avoid hostility is to approach openly, or at least in such a way that can be construed as such.
>>1435917>[ ] Approach with caution. Look around and scout, see if you can find anyone.
You approach the stairs and climb them slowly. Your steps seem loud among the walls of ancient stone, making you more and more cautious as you continue into the ruins. For a while you find nothing remarkable, but when your path turns at one corner you stop.A thin cord stretches horizontally above the height of your ankle half a pace away, tied to a nearby metal stake covered in snow. A short distance further are several pieces or plates of metal hanging from a thicker rope almost overhead.Is that an intruder alarm?You could expect danger after what you learned, but that judgement would have been based on rumour. After this though, the silent complex begins to feel distinctly unfriendly.Backtracking finds another route, a narrow passageway along the shadow of another stone structure.You think the ruin to be the size of a village but it is difficult to be sure. The complex is almost maze-like in some areas, and you see no landmarks to help maintain your bearing.You do come across another alarm, again placed around the turn of a corner. You step over the rope carefully, moving your head to avoid the hanging metal plates.A wider road leads into a plaza. In its middle is an ancient fountain circled by more broken walls and lone rectangular thresholds, the doors that would have stood in them long rotted away.
>>1436202Here you finally see some of the people who occupy the place.Two men stand at the opposite end of the plaza where the road continues. One is the picture of a mercenary; broad, muscular, and grizzled, armoured in leather and iron. A large broadsword in its scabbard leans against a nearby wall. The other is leaner and more lightly outfitted. He carries a confidence about him, and has a crossbow strapped to his back.They are speaking while passing a metal flask between each other, neither seeming particularly alert. You move away from the road and back into the narrow alley, pulling your hood forward.The mayor and the guard were sure these people are related to their town’s issues, though the former did state that they had no evidence. You do think these men are standing guard, though you can only guess for what.Your other lead... The black-haired, sword-wielding traveler left the town three days ago, the smith had said. That traveler may not be here, and may not have come to these ruins at all.You seek answers, but you do not know who or what else could provide them.>[ ] Back through the alleys, find a way past these two.[ ] Find a vantage point. Get a better idea of your surroundings.[ ] (Other?)[ ] Wait until (evening/night)
>>1436204>[ ] Find a vantage point. Get a better idea of your surroundings.
>>1436204[ ] Back through the alleys, find a way past these two.
>>1436204>[ ] Find a vantage point. Get a better idea of your surroundings.>[ ] (Other?)Is there no way to eavesdrop on the two?
(test post because nothing's going through)
Shaking your head, you peek around the corner and consider the path forward.Finding a high place to look out from could make things clearer and may help in avoiding more sentries and guards. The structures immediately around the plaza are tall enough to serve, but you would be risking discovery with how close the two mercenaries are.You do turn into an alley that takes you behind those structures, skirting the edge of the plaza and bringing you towards those mercenaries. You tie your scabbards tighter and slow your steps, moving closer until you can hear what they are saying.Initially their banter strikes you as unimportant. Then they briefly move to another topic.“Why are we still feeding the kids, anyway?”“It was the same with the first one. Something to do with his magic.”“‘Because he said so,’ then. If my ration starts lowering I might just go and toss them out.”So they are the cause of the disappearances. The two missing children are here. You sneak away and move on.
>>1437729You reach a structure with a third story sufficiently intact to stand on. Though it takes some climbing to reach, the spot serves as an excellent vantage point. You look out from behind a section of wall.The sun is starting to set. Immediately to the east is the plaza where the mercenaries still stand guard. You can see others, always in pairs, in various other spots around the complex.From the plaza, the road that continues north becomes a wide staircase, leading to the front of a much larger construction than the other buildings in the ruins. It is vast rather than tall, though that may be due to its ceiling being mostly fallen-in.Its entrance is flanked by crumbled pillars and more mercenaries stand around the vicinity, and around the many wide openings in the structure’s stone walls.You see something through one of those openings: two small figures huddled together. At this distance you can barely make out features, but you do not doubt what you see.You have found them.Damn it. Acting the hero is not your goal.>[ ] That building seems important either way.[ ] You can’t not try to help them. Can you?[ ] (Other?)[ ] You should not hesitate to take lives.[ ] You will not have more killing.
>>1437733>[ ] You can’t not try to help them. Can you?>[ ] You should not hesitate to take lives.A sword isn't a toy. If you use it, you use it with the intent to kill.
>>1437733>[ ] You can’t not try to help them. Can you?>[ ] You should not hesitate to take lives.
>>1437733>>[ ] You can’t not try to help them. Can you?>>[ ] You should not hesitate to take lives.
>>1437733>[ ] You can’t not try to help them. Can you?>[ ] You will not have more killing.>Unless they should draw their weapons on you first.To wield a sword is to know how fragile and precious life is; and a sword undrawn is a battle avoided. Conversely, the moment you draw your blade, it must only be because you are ready to wield it to kill.
You climb back to the ground with the larger building as your destination.It is difficult to translate what you saw from the vantage point to your current perspective, but you do have a better feeling for where the sentries are located. Some pairs were atop the more intact structures as you were, and that knowledge helps significantly when picking your path ahead.The shadows grow longer, and you manage to reach the larger building without too many stressful moments. Entering through the front is obviously unwise and the wider split in the wall through which you saw the children is guarded. You end up on the further end, darting from behind one of the gray stone pillars to the eastern side of the building.The space behind the structure was not neglected, though there are fewer mercenaries standing guard. You peek past your corner and see a narrow opening that none of them seem to be watching, and creeping forward to look inside shows a short drop onto the flat corner of a staircase.You decide to act before a nearby sentry turns their head. With a hand gripping your knapsack’s strap you squeeze through the opening, landing down below as lightly as you can.The tap echoes and stirs someone nearby. A man in armour by the base of the stairs is startled by the noise.You close the distance as he turns to face you, a hand on the hilt of Myrril’s blade. One slash tears the cry out of his throat and another digs a fatal wound through his torso.A few quick steps forward let you stop the mercenary’s fall and lower him to the ground slowly. Standing, quieting your breath, you sheathe the sword with quivering hands.You know you cannot hesitate. Still, you would prefer that you remained unaccustomed to killing.
>>1439008The room you have entered is a wide underground hall, several paces in height and plunged in darkness despite the few lit lanterns placed along its length. You stay crouched and still for a few moments, and when you hear nothing you start to look around.Across the hall would be towards where you saw the figures of the two children. Another staircase up is partly illuminated.You do not think you could leave without trying to help. Though when you advance through the hall, eyes adjusting to the lower light, you see something that stops you.Not that it is difficult to see. A great entrance is set in the center of one side of the room, near as tall as the hall itself. It is empty, though you spot large pieces of stone nearby that indicate that was not always the case, and past it is a vast room.The walls are filled with carvings, though without light you cannot tell of what, and in its middle is a rectangular object that rises to just under your chest in height. Some kind of table or bench?This is the center of the complex, you feel. Perhaps this room could contain something that explains the problems that ail the town, and the strange happenings you have come across.>[ ] Fetch a lantern, light the carvings on the walls.[ ] Examine the object in the middle.Is there a specific reason to be careful or quick? (Other than just being in a hostile area.)
>>1439020>[ ] Fetch a lantern, light the carvings on the walls.>[ ] Examine the object in the middle.Making a guess at first glance, the object in the middle is an altar? I think they might be planning some sort of ritual that involves the sacrificing of children. We do want to be swift, the longer the children are captive the greater the chance something will happen to them.
>>1439020>[ ] Examine the object in the middle.Be careful, though some speed is of course also vital. Having killed the sentry quietly means that they are still unaware of our presence. The man might have been required to report in, but given the lax attitude of the previous two, we might assume we have some leeway.We know there to be a magician residing here. Carvings, perhaps of runes, on the walls; and a table, bench, or possibly even altar, suggest this might be his workshop. In order to stop whatever is happening here, we need to gain some understanding of it; otherwise the magician could just rebuild and find new victims elsewhere.Do not fetch a lantern. Light will warn anyone even watching from afar that something is amiss.
>>1439020>[ ] Examine the object in the middle.The anon above has a reasonable argument for being careful. The children have waited a while already and the chances of something happening to them right now are pretty slim unless we make a reason or the magician starts doing creepy stuff.
You consider retrieving a lantern but decide to walk into the room without doing so. Anyone looking into the hall could notice the light and you do not want to take that risk.You approach at the object in the middle of the room. It does look like a table though its length is considerably longer than its width. The stone it is made from is continuous and completely unadorned, and there are no other objects on it or in the spacious room.A careful walk around the object reveals nothing of note; it may as well be just a block. Where it is and its surroundings suggest otherwise but you do not know how to learn what it is.You try examining the carvings on the walls. These ruins, remnants of the old empire, are scattered all around the land, but though you have visited a few previously history was not a significant interest of yours. The few distinct shapes you can see mean nothing to you.A loud, sudden thump comes from behind, making you jump and spin around. The hem of your cloak sweeps outward with the motion, floating to rest after you freeze with a hand over the hilt of Myrril’s sword.Nothing has changed from before, but you are certain that you did not imagine that sound. You stare into the dark, barely breathing, and wait.Rumbling movement. Stone grinding on stone. You would be far more concerned about the noise if you were not so transfixed by the scene.The rectangular object was a sarcophagus, and it is opening.
>>1439131You watch, heart beating frantically The lid is slowly, slowly pushed to the side, and a hand is placed at the edge of the container. A figure pulls itself up and climbs out.It is a person. A man- a boy? Similar to yourself in height, but the smoothness to their features looks almost sculpted, constructed. Patches of reptilian scales, gray or silver, can be seen on parts of their cheek, neck, and shoulders, and a pair of angular horns grow out of their short, pure white hair.A demi-human? That somehow seems an inadequate label, but no others come to mind.Their outfit is... ceremonial, perhaps. They wear a white sleeveless robe and a pair of cloth sashes, one across the shoulder and another around the waist, and along the length of both hang some large number of gold plates or coins. Several golden bracelets adorn the demi-human’s wrists and loose bands of the same gleaming metal are worn on their ankles, clinking quietly when they move.
>>1439133You watch the demi-human come to a stand, then look down. He clicks his tongue and tears both the cloth sashes off, turning to toss them back into the sarcophagus. He then reaches into the container and pulls up something else by its handle; a pentagonal cage-like object with metal bars on each of its vertices framing translucent glass or crystal panels. A lantern?The demi-human finally turns to you, completely ignoring your surprise and the hand above your blade. His voice is not loud but the tone is commanding. “Swordsman. Where is this place?”>[ ] ... What?[ ] Answer him.[ ] Find out if he is with the others in the ruins.[ ] Ask something (what?)
>>1439135>[ ] Answer him as completely as you can, including levels of specificity which might otherwise seem obvious. You do not know what level of applicable knowledge he currently has.>[ ] In turn, ask him who he is. Hopefully he will offer you the same degree of thoroughness in reply.
(Sleep. Sleeep.I'm getting a 'connection error' when trying to post even medium-length stuff. Not sure what that's about, but that's why the update is more split than usual.I think this is past the half-way point. The thread will keep updating for another two or three days.See ya'll in the morn')
>>1439135supporting this: >>1439136>>1439137apparently disabling quick reply can help
>>1439135> "These are ruins of the ancient empire, and currently home to a band of mercenaries who've stolen two children from the nearby village. You aren't associated with them, I take it?"
>>1439304> Attack what's most likely an ancient being who's been preserved through the ages by some eldritch magic and may or may not have the capacity to smite us with magic at a thought.Yes. Good idea.
>>1439136I'll back this Anon.
His blue eyes are slit-pupilled.“You are in a ruin,” you begin. Not knowing what he expects, you explain that you are a distance north-west from the nearest town in the northern parts of the continent. You feel like you have not provided much but you are not so familiar with the land yourself.The demi-human does not seem to react.“These ruins are currently home to mercenaries.” You stop yourself from reaching for your sword again. “Do you have some relation to them?”“I am not their ally.” He glances out the great doorway. “They would be the ones responsible for this seal.”Seal?He gestures to your feet. You follow but there is nothing... Not quite. There are markings over the floor of the room, almost impossible to see in the dark. You are standing on a patterned circle traced around the sarcophagus.“Intent or no, I suppose I should offer gratitude,” he says offhandedly before continuing. “How many of these mercenaries did you see?”“Two dozen, perhaps. I heard mention of a magician before coming here, and there was one sentry just outside this room. The others were scattered throughout the complex.”
>>1441256The thought gives you pause. Before entering this hall you always saw the mercenaries in, at least, pairs.A gruff voice echoes through the hall. “Ald? You’re down there, aren’t you?”You stiffen. Footsteps approach from the stairs.The fallen mercenary is near the base, not too far from the entrance to this room. It is dark but not enough that you could rely on them coming close before seeing the body.... What is the demi-human doing? You stare as he walks outside. The voice calls out again. “Is that... Who the hells are-”A short ring of metal and a thud. The voice stops with a sharp grunt, and you exit the room to see a mercenary, a man with a crossbow, collapse on the stairs with a dagger sticking out the front of his skull.“A warning, swordsman. Those in the vicinity may yet be unalert, but the Magus knows the seal is broken.”The demi-human is next to the closer fallen guard. He turns and approaches while speaking.“I am to flee this place. You will lead.”>[ ] The two children first.[ ] Avoid conflict.[ ] Remove obstacles.[ ] Stay hidden as long as you can.[ ] Run.
>>1441278>[ ] The two children first.>[ ] Remove obstacles.>[ ] Run.
>>1441278>[ ] The two children first.>[ ] Avoid conflict.>[ ] Stay hidden as long as you can.Got to save our energy in case we run into the magician.
>>1441278[X] The two children first.[X] Avoid conflict.[X] Stay hidden as long as you can.
>>1441278>[X] The two children first.>[X] Avoid conflict.>[X] Stay hidden as long as you can.
>>1441278>[ ] The two children first.>[ ] Avoid conflict.>[ ] Stay hidden as long as you can.
>>1441278>[ ] The two children first.>[ ] Avoid conflict.>[ ] Stay hidden as long as you can.Well, here we go...
You have no objection as he does not seem to be an enemy, but there is another matter.“A pair of children were taken from the town. I am going to try to free them.”His reply is simple. “Do as you will.”You cross the underground hall, and the horned demi-human follows. From what you saw, they should be very close. Climbing the west staircase carefully, you peek up to the ground level of the structure and see them almost immediately; a young girl and boy both near the age of ten seated against the wall. Both flinch on spotting you and you place a finger to your lips. On your left is the wider opening in the front of the building from where you see more armed figures. Distant voices are calling out from the plaza.Their hands and legs are tied by rope. You place your knapsack on the ground, crouching in front of the two and searching for your knife.“I- We are going to help you,” you whisper, putting on a smile. Both look on the verge of tears. “What are your names?”“Annie,” the older one, you think, replies after a moment. “This is Noah.”Her brother is staring past you with a frightened expression.“Annie and Noah,” you repeat not a little awkwardly while cutting through their bonds. Being soothing is... not your strong point. “Do you think you can follow us and stay quiet?”The girl nods quietly and you help her stand. She pulls her brother up in a similar manner.The demi-human is focusing past the section of crumbled wall. There are more openings in the building; you select one that leads behind the building and wait tensely until it seems you have an opportunity to leave.“There! Intruders!”Of course it was not going to be easy.
>>1442094You turn and pick up the girl, ignoring the yelp of surprise and holding her in front of you with arms under her knees and back. The demi-human clicks his tongue then does the same for her younger brother.That does save you from asking. You run, pulling your group west of the structure as the shouts multiply. The ruins come alive and you lead your group into the alleys, turning and ducking into side passages whenever you hear movement close-by. After a time the maze-like complex proves more and more difficult to navigate as marching footsteps seem to come from every way.The demi-human stops you. “Swordsman.” He states, shifting the boy he holds to point forward.A passage intersects with yours. You look to your right past the corner and see three people standing on one of the ruin’s wider streets.Two are mercenaries, a man and woman holding short swords and looking wary. The third is an older man, moustached and with hair starting to gray, wearing a hooded winter coat. His eyes are closed and his brows are furrowed but otherwise the man seems, well, ordinary.The demi-human could not be referring to anyone else, though the word ‘magician’ brings up a more grandiose image."The Magus is searching. He will find nothing, but the effort provides an opportunity."You pause. “To escape?”“He is a hemomancer. If that is your choice, do not shed blood.”The meaning is not difficult to infer but still you wish he would use more common terms. Either way, if your ears can be trusted, you do not think you can continue avoiding confrontation.>[ ] Eliminate the magician.+[ ] Tell your companions to wait for you.+[ ] Tell them to keep going. Run in another direction.[ ] Continue past.
>>1442101>[ ] Continue past.A blood mage? Surely he could not be the one who twisted that wolf into the abomination it was. This is not our fight. Let us simply leave, having made a smallest difference. We should not actively seek death.
>>1442101>[ ] Continue past.
(Sorry, no more updates today. Continuing tomorrow.Consider the vote still up, of course.)
>>1442101>[ ] Continue past.Fighting a Mage is tough even at full power. Fighting a Blood Mage while we have wounds he could draw power from is suicidal.
>>1442101[ ] Continue past.>>1442310Are we still wounded from before?
>>1442379>The magician the mayor mentioned. Magic users are rare up north, and though you have confidence in your skills you have also never had a spell pointed your way.>It would be ideal if you could avoid violence. Not only due to your injury.Yeah, it seems we're still injured.
>>1442101> [ ] Eliminate the magician.> +[ ] Tell them to keep going. Run in another direction.> Give yourself a small cut so that you'll bleed. The mage will come after you and away from the others while they escape.I don't want to leave this mage to his own devices. By the time we get back he could have packed up and left.
‘Hemomancer.’ The sinister ritual the apprentice described, the beasts with boiling blood. This aging man should be related.You shake your head. “I would not take the risk. I have yet to face a magician in combat.”And doing so for the first time while injured seems unwise. The previous day was taxing on the damaged bones in your chest and today is becoming the same.You will have to find another lead.The demi-human does not offer a response. You peek around the corner then quietly lead your group forward, taking a quicker pace after leaving the magician and the two mercenaries behind. A minute later you slow again and lower the young girl to the ground.A pair of men rush into your passage ahead. They call immediately for their comrades while raising sword and crossbow, but neither are readied when you reach and fell them with quick slashes.You turn back and beckon your companions, trying to focus on your escape. A few alleys, a few corners later the stone at your feet becomes snow, and you leave the ruins behind.
>>1443674You take a long route south-west to avoid the flatter plains, and day turns to night by the time you reach the outskirts of the town. You usher the young girl and boy forward from there, having no more reason to enter yourself. Though still shaken, they offer timid nods and ‘thank you’s before running back home.You did not find what you were looking for, did you.“What was your goal, swordsman?”The demi-human stands a few paces away.“Were you acting in the interest of this town?”The town may face problems, but helping them was not your aim. You were looking for answers. “I came to those ruins for my own reasons.”“Then for whom did you free those two children?”You turn. His pair of horns make for a strange silhouette in the dim moonlight.“They were taken for a reason; this could not have escaped you. Yet you are here, having freed those captives and returned them. The Magus still lives, the mercenaries maintain their number, and your actions have given them a target for retribution.” His eyes gleam blue, piercing the dark.“Did you believe this town able to weather an assault? Or were you satisfied by shallow heroics, so that you ignored the consequence of your choice?”>[ ] You could not just leave them behind.[ ] (Other?)
>>1443682>[ ] You could not just leave them behind.>[ ] Besides, fighting the mage now would be to our disadvantage, I'm injured and have little to no information about our surroundings. At least now we have a chance to rest and prepare for a counterattack in an area where we have the advantage in combat.
>>1443682>I was wounded and ignorant of their capabilities, both of which can be remedied with time. This is not over, not by a long shot.
>>1443682>I have innocent blood on my hands. I have no intention of staining them further, by abandoning those children to their fate, or this town.>I intend to pursue the mage after my wounds have healed.
Maybe it would be a good idea to get in contact with the kids' mother and go to the mayor? We have undeniable proof that the children were taken and that the mercenaries constitute a threat to the village and its citizens. Maybe we'll be able to convince them to rally the town guard and storm the ruins with us. Then again, the mercenaries the mage employs are probably a good deal more skilled than anyone this village has to offer. Another option would be to try and find the other tribal girl and convince her to help us, though that carries the risk of her realizing who we are.
You do not think the town can stand. The mayor and the guard almost said so; that the guards are too few, and they have not hired more.“I am wounded,” you say. “With time that will be less a disadvantage.”“Will that wound heal within a bell? You have merely lost sight of them. Do you believe they have turned back to sulk?”“I can warn the town and help defend it.”“After stating your wound, and despite having judged against conflict earlier. You are clutching at straws, swordsman.”You squeeze a shaking hand by your side. “Then would you have abandoned those two children?”“I would have,” the silver-scaled, white-haired stranger replies. “That is favourable to a dangerous half measure and a solution constructed as an afterthought. The town may be no more safe than the ruin.”...In his left hand is the odd lantern he retrieved from the sarcophagus. He places it softly at his feet and glances to the side. “You are a fool, but all humans are. But what I have stated is not a concern.”“The Usurper is right. We would be occupied with pursuing him, after all.”
>>1444391You start, turning to the new voice. A girl in traveler’s garb, waist-length black hair swaying in the night breeze, wearing a forgekeeper’s blade at her waist.She stops several paces away.“Though in honesty I am more interested in talking with my kin.”You speak in the middle of collecting yourself. “The... The person the smith spoke of...”Her voice is gentle, smooth. “I did make an acquaintance with the young apprentice. I expected to be asked of someone else, however.”What is she talking about.“You are the bondmate of Rune, yes?” A soft smile. “You were truly fortunate to have met so dedicated a man, Sieglind.”Your thoughts grind to a halt.The incidents do not only remind you of each other. Their core is the same.a smith driven mada blade quenched in blood“What-” A horrible feeling chokes your voice out. “What did you do?”Mild confusion shows in the traveler’s dark eyes. “I granted his wish.”>[X] Kill her.[X] Kill her.[X] Kill her.
>>1444396>[X] Kill her.I'm not quite sure what's going on here, but if that's our only option then sure, I'm down.
>>1444396>[X] Kill her.Like the horned guy said there's no room for half measures. Either we draw our blade and fight to the death or we run for it. I honestly don't think we're in any condition to win a fight with her if she's as skilled a swordsman as we are.>>1444423I'm guessing she might have killed Rune's younger brother? We ran into him a thread or two ago and he just let us walk. Or on second consideration, it might be that she's implying she did something to Rune that forced us to kill him.
>>1444396[X] CONTROL YOURSELF DAMMIT![X] And what exactly was his 'wish'?
His wish?ThatThat NIGHTMARERune’s wish?And she ‘granted’ it?“It was what he dearly wanted. I only helped him place his wish in his creation.”“What...?”“He must have told you, Sieglind.He wanted you to be safe. Even if it cost his all.”Several paces is nothing.Everything you have is thrown into your charge. You tear the weapon from its scabbard and the girl meets you with her own, deflecting the blow with a shrieking of metal. She jumps back to evade when you bring your other hand to the hilt and drag down into a second strike.“Why do you use a second sword, and not draw Rune’s?”You lash out and the black-haired girl steps to the side, then into you.She is close, so close. She wears a small frown. Her narrowed eyes are bottomless wells.She slashes short but deep into your forearm and you cry out, dropping your weapon. A sheen of moonlight dances on her blade, across the mirror of metal and over a coat of your blood at its edge. Her motion changes, you see her begin to sheathe her sword, and your eyes trace the line of her draw across your chest.You reach for your first blade too late.
>>1444559You are yanked away, crashing backwards to the ground. In your place is the horned stranger, and the dark-eyed girl’s weapon spills out a fount of blood from torso to shoulder.Something is in the air, tossed towards the traveler. A small green gemstone.There is a painfully-loud blast, a gale compressed into a moment, a rushing wind that clouds your vision in snow. When it settles you see the girl thrown further away. There are cuts and wounds on her face, at her shoulders and legs, over her body. She pushes herself up and stares at her sword, then pulls it across the hem of her torn coat to wipe the blood off.The stranger is still standing in front of you.“It seems I should not be acting alone.” The traveler smiles. “I suppose I should find out why the old mage is dragging his feet.”You have not gotten up. The traveler speaks to you.“I have not been introduced, have I? I am Brunhild, but you may call me Brun. I am fond of your name, Sieglind, so I will not be shortening it.I do hope we meet again.”With that, she turns to simply walk away.Get up. Chase after her.You do not move, only watching as the black-haired, dark-eyed girl leaves your sight.
>>1444562Silence save for the breeze.The anger is gone. The things it eclipsed return.Guilt. Regret. Sorrow.“Swordsman.”The wound the traveler made should be fatal, but his commanding tone has not changed. The cut seems smaller than it should be when you shift your vision up.“Tell me. What is your goal?”>[ ] To murder that girl.[ ] To live without the chains of the past.[ ] To know clearly what happened.[ ] To be able to return home.[ ] (Other?)
>>1444563>[ ] To know clearly what happened.>[ ] To bring the past to closure, that I may be freed of its chains.All this time, we have been running away. No more. Until we have come to terms with the past, we cannot be at peace.However it ends from there on - in madness, or death, or forgiveness, or perhaps something even more unthinkable - does not matter, as long as it is an end we can move on from; and only from that point can we decide whither hence.
>>1444563>[ ] To live without the chains of the past.>[ ] To know clearly what happened.
>>1444563>[ ] To know clearly what happened.>[ ] To live without the chains of the past.
You once dreamed of freedom, of adventure. Of seeing the world past the snow.That was what drove you through your training and what you had prepared for, looked forward for only weeks ago.Things changed, and now you are bound.“I... have spent too long with doubt and hesitation.”You drag yourself to your knees. “I will learn what happened that day, even if I have to force it out of her lips. I see that nightmare again without turning away.”You take Myrril’s scabbard in your hand, using it to push yourself up, to stand.“I might not ever be free of my past, but I can face and accept it.”You face the stranger, the horned demi-human, the silver-scaled boy. A wavering wind continues to blow around you.“Then, I will learn to dream again.”...“Our ends differ, but our paths and our enemies are the same,” he says, staring with those piercing eyes.“I am named Ashur. Do not fall behind, swordsman.”
A Sword's Exile #3 comes to a close!That was twice as long as I wanted it to be!Send help!Usual stuff is >>1430771 and @boxofmithril!Exclamation points!Okay. I'm putting A Sword's Exile on pause, because the alternating quests thing feels weird so I'll be focusing on my other one for a while. Announcements, as always, will end up on twitter.Thank you all for reading this far!Also I do continue to check these threads, so you can throw comments at me. I avoid stating things outright a lot but I'm not a writer so I don't really know when things flit between 'subtlety' and 'leaving crap out', so if you've got questions then...Uh, I might answer them? I mean, I'll think real hard about what I should and shouldn't answer.That sounds retarded.Anyway. Thanks again for participating!
>>1444616Thanks for running Mitts.Think you could clarify exactly what Sieglend thought Brun had done to make her go all "KILL, KILL, KILL!"?
>>1444616I must be an idiot, mitts. I've caught about half the things that happened in this thread. Your writing style in combination with all those implications is confusing the heck out of me.
>>1445281Aha ha. If you're lost then there's probably places where I've messed up or been too unclear.Well, that's why I said I'll answer stuff.>>1444855The simplest part is here:>His wish?>That>That NIGHTMARE>Rune’s wish?>And she ‘granted’ it?Brunhild is very related to the incident that lead to Rune's death and Sieglind's current exile. She practically states that she caused it, which is part of why Sieglind reacted that way, but the details being unclear kind of forms part of why Sieglind would want to chase after her (the 'truth' choice in the last vote).The other stuff is in the smith's apprentice explaining what Brunhild gave him and told him to do, and how that made him act. Then afterwards, this stuff>The incidents do not only remind you of each other. Their core is the same.>a smith driven mad>a blade quenched in bloodI think there's other bits and pieces in the previous threads. And it's in bits and pieces because it's not a memory Sieglind wanted to relive.