Immortality Can Be Fatal

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Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:31 pm

They'd finally made it to the caverns that the old man had drawn a map for them to find. The Drutus brothers were arguing once more. Both were hulking slabs of red-headed muscle and more than happy to wrestle or push one another around in good-natured disagreement. The pair were their employer's men. They'd worked on his walled estate in the city of Deracolis. They weren't particularly bright and had been tasked with carrying Master Sretin's sedan chair in the city while now they were set with the task of lugging the packs of treasure the group was supposed to be collecting for the old man from the cavern they found themselves before now.

The rest of the group were hired specifically for this particular job. None particularly trusted the other. Gold had the effect of causing dissension, rather than coalescing of individuals into a band. Nyeli's dark eyes looked from one to the other of the group as they paused, deciding what to do next. The old man's map gave no indication of what they'd encounter inside the cavern, how deep it was, how dangerous, or even what the treasure was. It made Nyeli's skin creep with nerves.

The brothers were easy to understand. They were beasts of burden. Nothing more lurked behind their bovine eyes. The pale-skinned Darta was an enigma. His lips were perpetually pressed into a severe, thin line. His oddly elongated limbs gave his entire body a scare-crow effect. Darta forever complained, forever tried for any kind of advantage. He argued for entering the cavern immediately. His greed was clear to see. Darta evidently had a small reputation as a guide, but Nyeli learned he specialized in mining. Then there was Trita. A tiny woman that had some skills as a cook and herbs. She was a healer. But, Nyeli could find no reason for the soft, brown-haired woman to be in the midst of the wilderness. She rarely spoke other than to offer bowls of stew. Lastly, there was the only man who seemed at home in the wilds. The middle-aged man was also known in the city as a guide and hunter. How he had been lured into this fool's errand was anyone's guess. Perhaps he owed the old man a favor, perhaps they knew one another.

For Nyeli, herself, the mystery was even more elusive. She belonged in the city. She had never been outside the city walls until today. In the darker parts of the old market she had begun to build a good reputation for relieving items from their rightful owners. She was honest in her dealings and thus far had never hurt anyone in her excursions. She had never walked so far or lived so roughly in her entire life. In the two week trek to this remote locations, she'd contemplated how Master Sretin had even come to know of her. He did not seem the sort to shake hands with the lower classes. He was a smiling, kindly old man who did not have the use of his legs. Nyeli guessed the old man wanted the discovery of this supposed ancient treasure to cement his name in history. He had no children to leave such wealth to.

Darta's whining voice intruded upon her musings. "I'm tired of this! Let us go inside now, before the sun has set. There is no reason to wait, the cave will be the same today as tomorrow." The brothers merely looked at him, then to the guide. They were at least smart enough to listen to him before Darta. Unbelievably, Trita actually spoke up, "I agree. There is no reason to wait."

For some reason, when Darta pushed one direction, Nyeli felt the innate desire to pull. "And if we find ourselves inside when it grows full dark? We may not find our way out again. I say we wait."

Her response only drew a curled lip of derision from Darta. "Perhaps you should have stayed behind in the city where you belonged. If you want to go back, we'll split your share among us."

Nyeli knew exactly what Darta intended. He was going to try to keep the treasure for himself. She would have to watch her back. After a brief stare down with the pale-skinned scare-crow, Nyeli looked to the guide. "What say you?"
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:43 pm

Lloyd ran his fingers through graying hair. He imagined that this trek, and more particularly certain members of his team, had caused him yet more gray than he had entered with. Time and time again, he'd wondered what Sretin had been thinking when he'd pud this expedition together. The Drutus brothers made excellent pack-mules, but real mules might have been smarter, not to mention that they might have eaten less. Darta was near useless above ground, and Lloyd doubted he would be of much use once they entered the caves. Trita was not of any particular nuisance, but her usefulness was limited at best. Nyeli had her uses, but it was evident that she was not of the wilds. Sretin gave reason for little, and this was no exception. Lloyd was left to hope that the old fool knew what he was doing.

Lloyd was, at least in his own mind, the only one that had any real business being part of this expedition. He was a longtime adventurer, explorer, and guide. The vast forests and jungles of the unknown were as a second home to him. He'd been in the business of artifact hunting since his teens, and had worked up a name for himself in his nearly three decades of experience. He was often hired as a guide by parties varying from governments with interest in securing historical pieces to eccentric old men with crazed dreams and the money to pursue them - such as Sretin. The old man had hired Lloyd several times over the years. Usually it was to chase down some rumor which, more often than not, proved to be nothing more than an old wive's tale. In his younger years, Sretin had even ventured out with Lloyd on these journeys, until he lost the use of his legs, but Lloyd had always had some say in the selection of the team. This time, however, Sretin had already chosen who he wanted before even calling upon Lloyd. Though he found this odd, Lloyd and the old man had not spoken in years, and Sretin seemed to have changed significantly during that time.

The two week trek had led them to a large network of cave, supposedly with something of value hidden inside them. The maps they'd been provided with had been sketchy at best, but careful cross-referencing with other maps of the area, combined with Lloyd's own experience and what useful facts they'd been able to pull out of legends had allowed them to finally found their objective. Lloyd stared silently into the black opening of the caves. The other's voices had become little more than the hum of flies as he considered the caverns. They knew so little of them, something which, if he'd been with people he trusted, would not have been so much of an issue. As it was, he was as worried about one of them turning on the others as he was about whatever awaited them inside the cave. The Drutus brothers were the only ones he felt he could trust, though it was only because they were too simple to have any deceptive thoughts. On the other hand, he had no doubt that their simplicity was just as dangerous as anyone else's deception. Of the rest, Nyeli was the most trustworthy, though her inexperience could be an issue, it was better than Darta's veiled intentions. Lloyd decided he would give her the benefit of the doubt, and keep her closer to him than he would the others. With any luck, this would prove to be the wisest decision.

Lloyd's attention was brought back to the group by Nyeli's question, "What say you?"

Lloyd paused for a moment before responding. He weighed the options over in his head carefully before he delivered his response, "We'll go in now."

Nyeli seemed off-put by his response. Darta shot her a glare of smug satisfaction, which nearly caused Lloyd to recall his decision. Instead, he continued on, "We'll stick in pairs, for safety. Darta and Trita will be one pair. The brothers can stay together. Nyeli is with me. She and I will go in first, the brothers will follow us, Darta and Trita will bring up the rear. Once inside, we'll light up the torches. Follow me, stay with your partner, and call out if you lose sight of the pair in front of you. No one wanders off. I won't risk the others to find you. If anyone has questions, ask me. You have five minutes to prepare."
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:18 am

Nyeli didn't like Lloyd's decision, but as he was leading this quest, she could do little to argue. In truth the only argument she really had was that Darta couldn't be trusted. Now, the thought of having the bastard at her back and below ground made her skin crawl. But, the decision had been made, so she moved to help Trita stow their supplies and packs for their return while the brothers prepared the torches.

As she approached the quiet little woman, she heard her whispering under her breath and surreptitiously tossing some salt onto the ground. She looked up, startled by Nyeli's quiet approach. Nyeli stared at the woman and hissed, "What are you doing?"

Trita's lips pressed into a thin line, ready to refuse answering, but after a moment, she whispered. "Just a small spell...nothing to worry over, I swear. Just for protection. Please don't say anything."

Nyeli's eyes widened with superstitious fear. Magic? Practicing magic had been outlawed for hundreds of years. Wizards and witches had been actively hunted and killed since an enclave of Mages had attempted to usurp power 800 years ago. "I will not speak of it, Trita." Nyeli paused, then added in a low hiss, "But if you do anything to make me believe you are casting, I will kill you on the spot."

That warning given, Nyeli left the woman as soon as she could. Just what had she gotten herself into? Did Sretin know of Trita's magic? Was that why the frail little woman was here at all? Just what were they after? She had too many questions and not enough answers. Her thoughts were cut off by Darta's irritating voice calling them all to the opening to the cavern.

"The sooner we start the sooner we can get out again." He wheedled. He then looked at Lloyd. "Test every step before putting your weight onto your foot. Some of the rock may be thin and unstable. Always keep to the right, like one of those mazes in the city park."

The brothers laughed at some joke between them, wholely unconcerned by the thought of going into a cave with unknown dangers. Nyeli almost envied them their ignorance. She moved to Lloyd's side, offering a length of rope, one end of which was tied around her waist. "Don't fall." She offered with a small smile. "I may not be able to hold you."

Darta just cackled and it made the hair on the back of Nyeli's neck stand up.

Slowly, the pairs made their way into the caverns. It was like the inside of an old church. But as they worked their way slowly into the depths, it became small and tight. The rocks beneath their feet were oddly smooth and slippery while the walls were sharp as glass. The bats overhead swarmed them at one point, but after several minutes they were gone. Trita fell once, cutting her arm and forehead viciously. But she insisted on continuing. The atmosphere was oppressive. So much so that even the brothers were silent in the darkness. As they moved forward, the torches threw very little light it seemed ad they could only see mere feet in front of them.

After what seemed like hours, of hot, nerve-wracking miles, they suddenly began to see where the stones had been cunningly worked into smooth walls. The ground beneath them was also smoothed and cut into shallow steps that lead downward gently. Nyeli looked up to see columns and arches carved from the living rock. Darta pressed forward, eager to find the treasure he'd conjured in his mind, But Lloyd's hard stare made the man cower back momentarily.

Runes and ancient writing were carved into the walls, they meant nothing to Nyeli. She could barely read and write her own language. But she noted that Trita seemed interested in them, if only in passing. She too seemed suddenly eager to press forward. To Nyeli, that only made her more nervous than before.

And then, the dark passage opened into a huge vaulted room suddenly, taking the entire group off guard.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:50 pm

Lloyd stood silent at the entrance to the titanic room. The others stood behind him, equally shocked and, for once, equally silent. The room was, indeed, enormous. By Lloyd's guess, it was about one-hundred meters across, a circular room, with a domed roof, which made a height estimation difficult, though he thought it to be roughly as high as the room was wide. The darkness of the room was cut buy several lights, though it was not the warm glow of fire that filled the place. All about the room were bright, blue stones which emitted an unnatural blue glow. Though this light did well to dispel the darkness, it provided no comfort. If anything the ghostly blue gave the room a foreboding appearance, as though the dead themselves were ready to rise up and defend against intruders. Stone tiles radiated from the center of the room in a circular pattern, punctuated by pillars arranged in similar circles around the center. The focal point of the architecture seemed to be a circular dais, upon which was a pedestal. On the pedestal sat the object they'd come for. It was too far to see clearly, but the object seemed to hold another of the glowing crystals in its center.

Lloyd looked about. All over the walls of the room were elaborate carvings, murals, designs, and runes. They seemed a continuation of the runes in the halls, though these seemed far older, far deeper, and far more ominous. Lloyd could hear Trita muttering what he thought to be some sort of prayer. He'd heard Nyeli and her speaking of magic or spells, but Lloyd gave no worry to her whisperings now. They were familiar to him, an old prayer to forgotten gods. It was something he'd heard as a child, a prayer spoken in the silence of night by his mother, taught to her by her mother, passed down through the generations. Some said the old prayers were spells themselves, but if they were, they no longer had any power, and there were no laws against prayers, no more than there were against fairy tales. Still, the frail voice of the strangely mysterious woman sent a chill down the spines of those present.

Darta came to the front of the group, eyes fixed on the artifact at the center of the room, "Come on then, let's get the thing!"

He attempted to walk past Lloyd, headed straight for the dais, but Lloyd grabbed him by the shirt, "Fool!' Lloyd pinned him against the wall of the entrance, 'You should know better than to walk untested ground in a place like this. You think the ancients would have left an artifact out in an open room with no protection? Do you?"

Darta's eyes avoided Lloyd's steely gaze. They darted between the artifact, the floor, and the others in the group. He remained silent. He was bold in speech, but when confronted by Lloyd's superior strength and hard disposition, he backed down. Finally, he shot a defiant glare at the other man, but still his lips remained still.

"As I thought.' Lloyd released him, returning his attention to the room, 'Now, unless anyone else desires a pointless demise, I would suggest you remain quiet and follow my lead. Keep a vigilant eye out for traps and other dangers. There is no telling what sort of strange devices the ancients may have used."

Grabbing a waist-high cane from the pack carried by one of the Drutus brothers, Lloyd flashed a wry grin towards the others, "I hear they were unashamed users of even the darkest forms of magic."

That last comment gave the others a start, as was its design. They'd all heard the stories - tales of ancient civilizations steeped in magic and ritual. If one heard only the stories, it would be easy to think of magic as a neutral thing, an equal tool for good and for evil. The ancient peoples were said to have made many advances through the use of magic, accomplishing great things. Some were said to have found the power to stave off death, though these tales were, more often than not, greatly embellished. It was commonly understood that any advances that had been made were lost ages ago, even before the Mages War, and that those that had lasted were finally put to rest when magic had become outlawed. Still, the tales themselves were enough to scare most men away from the age-old ruins that lay scattered across the land.

Stretching the cane in front of him, Lloyd pressed down on the floor. Carefully, he worked his way forward. The others remained still, standing in the entrance way, following him only with hesitant stares. Lloyd turned around, face the group and called out, "Nyeli! Come to me. Just walk where I've walked, and you'll be fine."

The woman walked cautiously in his steps. After only a moment, she'd safely reached his side.

"Good work.' Lloyd placed a firm hand on her shoulder, 'Keep that up, and you'll be fine." Turning to the others, he spoke firmly, "The rest of you, follow behind. Stay in my tracks, and stay in your pairs. Be careful - if one of you steps out of line, hope the room kills you, because I'll happily do it myself."

Lloyd continued towards the dais, each step careful and planned. Nyeli was never more than a step behind. The others followed carefully. His warning had worked, and they stuck faithfully to the path he'd tread. Within moments, Lloyd had reached the platform in the room's center. He signaled for the others to hold where they were. He allowed only Nyeli to follow him as he approached the pedestal. The artifact's glow briefly intensified as he approached, causing the others to start. It had even caused Lloyd a brief scare, though he'd long ago learned it was unbefitting of a leader to show such things easily. Continuing on, Lloyd looked about the pedestal, especially where the artifact was delicately perched. He was looking for traps of some kind, any sort of hidden danger, designed to protect the artifact. Once he was satisfied, he passed his cane back to Nyeli.

Lloyd cautiously wrapped his fingers about the artifact. It was a cold, metal plate, layered with the same intricate designs as the room's walls. The gem in it's center was identical to those that were mounted upon the walls, though it still seemed inexplicably different. The metal into which the gem had been laid was smooth, with a strange, near-golden hue. It felt unnatural to the touch. If Lloyd had been asked to describe it, would have called it a feeling as though the object held some great magic in it, though he could never have decided why he'd thought the feeling magical. He attempted to lift the object, only to find that it was fixed to the podium more firmly than he'd originally thought. Beckoning for Nyeli's help, Lloyd took hold of one end, and instructed Nyeli to take hold of the other. Together, the two of them attempted to lift the artifact from its place. After a little force, the item was finally dislodged.

As soon as the item was lifted from the pedestal, the center crystal began emitting a piercing hum. Within seconds, the crystals around the room reciprocated the same tone. The crystals glowed stronger and stronger. the light seemed to catch in the runes on the walls and the artifact, till they, themselves, seemed to emit the light. Before any of them could grasp what was happening, the light had overwhelmed them. The last Lloyd remembered was someone shouting, though he did not know what it was they said. After that, all went white. Then, black.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:02 pm

Nyeli followed closely behind Lloyd, her fingertips just brushing his hip so he was always aware of precisely where she was. Her natural grace and sure feet made the trip into the cavern simple physically. However, the sheer weight of the mountain above them was oppressive. More than once her eyes strayed to the jagged stone above their heads.

Darta's rush to get to the dais and the glowing stone elicited a harsher reaction from Lloyd than Nyeli would have expected and she hated to admit that it gave her a small level of satisfaction when the rat-like smaller man backed down first. Trita just stared at the runes and sigils carved into the living rock, almost oblivious of the stone on the dais. Her interest seemed to be on puzzling out the reason the cavern had been carved out in the first place. By whom and for what purpose. The Drutus twins, simply sat down on the closest comfortably ledge to watch the fireworks between Darta and Lloyd. Their teasing jokes did nothing to assuage Darta's already sour demeanor. The twins didn't seem to care much about anything. Inside, outside, coming or going, it was all the same to them.

Lloyd stepped up onto the platform and when he touched the smooth gem, it's golden light flared briefly, making Nyeli's heart leap into her throat momentarily. She was sure the others could hear it hammering in her chest. Nothing more happened, so when Lloyd called her to join him she did. Between them, they hoisted the gem from it's perch. Darta could be heard nearly smacking his lips. But then, the artifact began humming in an unpleasant high pitched tone. The other stones set within the walls added their own resonance to the hum and light began to fill the huge cavern.

Darta looked back the way they had come in, an intense desire to simply run overwhelmed her. She heard Trita shout out something, but couldn't make sense of it. The room filled with the all-encompassing light and then nothing.

Darta's eyes fluttered open. She mentally took stock of her limbs and felt no immediate injuries. She took a few exploratory breaths and was relieved there was no pain. What had happened? Rolling to her side, she climbed to her feet groggily, looking for the rest of the group. The cavern was in complete darkness. Feeling around, she located her torch and managed to light it with her flint and tinder in her pouch. Holding the torch high, she looked for the rest of the party. They were all collapsed onto the ground where they had stood. The brothers were covered with blood and unmoving. Darta had nearly been torn in two by some unseen force and poor Trita had an enormous hole in her chest. As Nyeli looked around for Lloyd, she slowly became aware that every single gem that had been set into the walls had shattered and were dark. The artifact that had been on the raised dais had disappeared entirely.

Staggering to the opposite side of the platform, Nyeli found Lloyd just waking as well. Somehow, they had both avoided the worst of the explosion or...whatever had happened. Jamming her torch into the rocks nearby, Nyeli, helped support the larger man, murmuring the news that the rest of the party was dead. "Something bad has happened. It is an evil place we've entered, Lloyd, but we've been spared for some reason. I don't think we should risk our lives further and should leave as quickly as we can." Helping Lloyd to his feet, she took up the torch and handed him his staff so he could lead the pair of them out once more. They both knew there was no possibility that they could bring their companion's bodies out of the caves.

Without having to look after the others, the pair made their way to the exit in good time. The trip was nearly silent other than the occasional comment from Lloyd to watch a particularly dangerous to tread on. When they saw daylight and could make their way without the torch, Nyeli breathed an audible sigh of relief. For the first time, she spoke her fears and confusion aloud. "What happened? What was that artifact and why were we so lucky? It makes no sense." They made their way into the outside world. The sun was just coming up once more telling Nyeli they had been within the cavern at least overnight.

Just as they stepped beyond the cave mouth, they heard a shouted order; "Take them!" Nyeli felt the white-hot searing pain of a sword driven through her stomach. She gripped the hands of her murderer and their gazes met for a long moment of realization.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:44 pm

Lloyd awoke to the familiar red glow of a lit torch. It took him a moment before he realized where he was, but as he looked around the room, the memory of his last waking moments returned to him. He was still recovering from whatever had knocked him out when Nyeli approached him, murmuring about the other's deaths. She supported him as he struggled to his feet. Looking about, he could see that she was right. Darta and Trita were quite obviously deceased, and the Drutus brothers seemed to have met their end as well. Nyeli spoke of an evil in the room, worry in her voice. Lloyd did little more than nod. As Nyeli handed him his staff, he noticed that the artifact was completely gone. He could not see any trace of it, but considering the possible dangers of the ruins, it was best to leave immediately rather than search for it.

Lloyd spent much time deep in thought as the two survivors made their way back up through the cave. His mind raced to find possible explanations for what had happened, always coming back to the legends of magical artifacts, containing great power. Lloyd had heard his fair share of legends, and had seen more of them in person than most men dreamed of seeing. He could vouch for the fact that most of these legends were merely grand stories, and the few that held some merit most often had some kind of explanation behind them. In his experience, the last of the once-great power of magic was left in the simple folk who practiced the illegal art behind closed doors. Still, this entire ruin had managed to live up to even the most far-fetched of legends. It baffled him, even with his years of experience, and he could only imagine the havoc it was playing upon the mind of his younger companion.

As they approached the entrance to the caves, Nyeli voiced her questions. Lloyd took a moment to weigh his answer, but he never was given chance to voice it. Before he could speak, Nyeli took a blade through her gut. Without a second thought, Lloyd leapt to her aid twisting the top of his cane and revealing the razor sharp blade hidden inside. It was a single-edged blade, made of tempered steel, and Lloyd wielded it with deadly form. Before the attacker could understand what was coming at him, he found himself separated from his offending hand. The man hadn't enough time to scream before Lloyd finished him with a blow across the neck. Quickly, Lloyd turned about just in time to see Nyeli collapse, sword still lodged in her stomach, and was met with an arrow from an unseen archer piercing his own chest.

Lloyd fell to one knee. He used his sword to prop himself up as his left hand reached for the shaft of the arrow. The shot had pierced his left lung, and he could feel it. He began coughing up blood as he lost strength to his limbs. He could hear footsteps as several people came out of the forests surrounding them. He could hear voices, but his mind could not understand them amidst the pain of his injury. As he lost the power to keep himself upright, he managed to force himself to fall on his side, which kept him from breaking the arrow in his chest. As his vision blurred and faded for the second time in far to short a span, he saw a foot placed down in between himself and Nyeli. Someone seemed to be checking them over, looking for anything of value. Lloyd could feel himself slipping, until he finally fell into the blackness that clouded his vision. He was sure that this time he would not awake.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:07 pm

There was no pain, no feeling of floating and light she had always been told was waiting on the other side of the veil of death. She saw...tree tops with the sun dappling through the leaves. She could hear men arguing over something and could hear items being thrown aside or dropped onto rocky ground. Her limbs tingled oddly, as if she'd slept on them. Turning her head she saw a man she didn't know lying on his side, his wide sightless eyes a clear mark that he was dead. Looking further down, Nyeli could see where his hands had been severed from his arms and the pool of blood that the man lay in.

Suddenly, she remembered it all! She and Lloyd had been attacked immediately upon leaving the cavern and she had...she had..." Nyeli's brows furrowed in complete confusion. The dead man had killed her; stabbing her through the stomach with his sword. Her hands shakily felt her stomach where the sword had impaled her. While she could feel the torn leather of her tunic and the unpleasantness of it being caked with dried blood, she could find no wound. She vaguely remembered Lloyd leaping to aid her. Where was Lloyd? Turning her head the other way, Nyeli saw the Explorer laying several feet away on his side with an arrow protruding from his chest, it's point actually having exited his back. She knew it was a kill shot. But, she had to see for sure.

Lifting her head, she found that her small bag had been taken from her and it's contents emptied out onto the ground haphazardly. Further away, a group of 6 men were opening the packs they'd brought on this expedition and were tearing through the contents looking for valuables and squabbling over the very slim pickings to be had there. While they were distracted, Nyeli carefully rolled to her side and slithered to rest behind Lloyd's back. She could clearly see the wound and no blood was coming from it. He was dead. Or was he? She wasn't, after all. Working on instinct, she drew her knife and reaching under Lloyd's arm, cut the arrow's shaft just before his chest. She paused, grateful he'd never feel what she was about to do. Checking the men once more, she took a calming breath and sharply drew the arrow the rest of the way through the explorer's body and free. She waited, holding her breath willing Lloyd to start breathing. But, nothing seemed to happen. She sighed, dropping her head onto her forearm in defeat. She'd been a damned fool to leave the city at all. Now, she'd have to find her way back alone and in one piece. Something the men across the way were not about to let her do.

After a few moments of self-pity, Nyeli lifted her head once more to locate the men and found them still arguing about going into the caverns themselves or searching the bodies another time. She had to move and quickl...wait. Lloyd's wound had begun to bleed again..very little, but it was there. In disbelief, Nyeli watched the wound close as if it had never been and she heard Lloyd take a sharp, sudden breath. Reaching up, Nyeli quickly put her hand over his mouth.

"Shhh." She warned in a harsh whisper. "The ones that tried to kill us are still here. Fighting over our things." She bit her lower lip wanting to say, no ask, so much more. But, this was not the time or place. "There by our packs. Can you see them? Six of them. We need to end them before they come back to kill us."

Even to Nyeli, that sounded ridiculous. Twice they should have died and twice they hadn't. Why? Instead, she asked, "Can you stand? What should we do?"
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:47 pm

Lloyd's eyes shot open and his lungs spasmed, drawing in air as quickly as they could. He was greeted by Nyeli's voice as she attempted to quiet him. It was a strange;y comforting sound, though many things were comforting when compared with the sensation of being shot. When that thought his him, so did the memory of the last few moments before he'd blacked out. He'd been shot through the chest. Instinctively, his hands flew to his chest, where he felt the hole in his clothes, and the blood from his wound, but there was no arrow, and no wound remained. He had little time to comprehend what had happened before Nyeli was peppering him with questions.

"Yes, I can stand." Lloyd whispered. He looked about, searching for his sword, which he found lying close to where he'd fallen. Grabbing it, he pulled Nyeli into cover behind a tree. His mind was still racing to understand why he was alive, let alone how to deal with their attackers. Now that he had a moment - as brief as it was - to think, he noticed his companion's own bloodstained shirt and hands. She had been stabbed, and was still alive. Whatever had spared his life, it had also spared hers. He could see by the look on her face that she was as confused as him about what was happening, but it was apparent, at least for the time, that the two of them had achieved some form of immortality.

This revelation brought forth a hundred new questions. How long would this last? To what extent could they recover from? What if a limb was severed, or the head? There were no immediate answers, and the more pressing question, in their current situation, seemed to be how to get past these strange men. Lloyd looked out from behind the tree, trying to learn what he could about them. None of them were known to him, and he could see nothing that would tell him who had sent them. As they were sitting, he could not accurately judge their height, but he could see that they were not small men, and they were not totally unaccustomed to violence.

"We'll have to attack them.' Lloyd whispered, finally answering Nyeli's last question, 'They outnumber us, so we'll use surprise. Have you any experience with fighting? It's no matter, you'll have to learn. Follow my lead. Watch my back, and I'll watch yours. We'll need one of them alive. I want to ask him a few questions."

Lloyd crept closer to the men, as silently as possible, with Nyeli following. It was less than a minute, though it felt like fifteen as they tried to move as silently as possible. Soon enough, the two were in position, ready to strike. As soon as he saw an opportunity, Lloyd gave the signal, "Now!"
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:08 pm

Nyeli breathed a deep sigh of relief when Lloyd answered her calmly. It was obvious that somehow he had suffered no other ill-effects from his wound than she had. She allowed herself to be pulled into the wood. She hid with Lloyd as he assessed the situation and formulated a plan. At his question, her eyes widened in shock, "Can I fight? I...some. Yes. But it is not what I do...I..." She was interrupted when Lloyd told her point blank that she'd have to learn and quickly.

She would have objected, but he had already begun to stalk toward the group of men who continued to argue about their best course of action. He might be good in the wilds finding his way and leading a group; stealth and moving silently was what she did best. Nyeli ghosted along behind him, her steps making no sound at all. When they came into range of the men, Nyeli point to two men nearest to her then pointed at herself to indicate she would take them. She smiled shakily. What was she thinking? She wasn't built for this, but she drew her light short sword and her knife as she waited.

Nyeli wasn't given anymore time to dwell on that, however when Lloyd called her into action. "Now! His shout almost made the thief jump out of her skin. She was so shaky from nerves and adrenaline that Nyeli lunged at the closest man and drove her knife into his kidney, burying it to the hilt. He grunted and twisted as he fell, tearing the blood-soaked knife from her grip. It also alerted the thug next to him who simply swung a ham-sized fist blindly catching Nyeli heavily on her right shoulder. The blow was heavy enough that it spun her nearly off her feet. Nyeli recovered quickly, but the blow had given her enemy a chance to draw his sword. She didn't dare turn to see how Lloyd was faring. But, from the sounds behind her, there was quite a battle going on.

Pivoting on the ball of her left foot, she ducked inside the man's longer sword, inflicting a long gash under his arm. He balled out and hammered his elbow down into her back, driving her to a knee. Nyeli was sure he'd broken a rib, if not two. She pitched forward in a somersault to avoid a heavy overhand swing of his bastard sword. Leaping to her feet, she turns in time to narrowly avoid the man charging at her at nearly a full run. Nyeli dodged aside easily, sending the man stumbling into the dirt. Pivoting again, Nyeli leapt onto his back, clinging to him like a wet shirt despite his best efforts to dislodge her.

With his thrashing, Nyeli couldn't strike the final blow and the man eventually backed up to a tree and tried to crush her between the tree and his heavier body. All breath was driven from her body at each blow. She could feel ribs break and cried out in pain. She knew she had to end the battle quickly or she would lose consciousness. So she loosened her grip on the man's neck, letting him think she was too injured to continue. He grunted in triumph and lurched away from the tree freeing Nyeli. Dropping to a crouch, she waited and when he turned, Nyeli drove her short sword up through his diaphragm and directly into his heart. He stared at her, eyes glazing over and then tilted backwards, crashing to the ground like a felled tree.

Nyeli fell forward onto her hands and knees, breathing shallowly against the pain of her broken bones. She wasn't sure if the break was worse or the healing. She finally looked up to check on Lloyd and after retrieving her sword started in his direction.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:46 pm

"Now!"

Lloyd sprinted out from behind the his tree. The men in the clearing had been startled by his cry, rather obviously not expecting the dead to rise again and attack them. Nyeli had claimed the two men closest to her, leaving Lloyd with the other four. Being the more experienced fighter of the two, this arrangement suited Lloyd well enough. Before the ruffians had time to react, Lloyd had already struck down one of them with a strong cut across the back of the neck, severing the spine and most of the man's neck tissue. By the time the other three knew what was happening, their comrade lying on the ground in a rapidly-growing pool of blood.

Lloyd's advantage was not long-lived, and soon the other men stood ready. All three carried double-edged shortswords. Lloyd stood at a ready stance, feet spread apart, with his sword hand in front. He did his best to place himself between the three ruffians and Nyeli, trying to keep them split into manageable groups. He held his sword in one hand, out in front of him, edge to his opponents. For a moment, Lloyd stood quietly, studying the other men's rythm, looking for a break or weakness in their form. It was only a second before he struck again. His sword met with the steel of the other man's blade, emitting the satisfying sound of metal on metal. The other man wielded his sword with both hands, the handle crafted for a hand and a half, and Lloyd could see he favoured his right hand. With a skillful twist of his blade, Lloyd threw aside the other man's sword, forcing it to his own left. Lloyd then attacked the man's now exposed right arm, causing him to recoil back.

Before Lloyd could finish the man, one of the other ruffians lept in, attempting to take Lloyd off balance. With a quick adjustment to his footing, Lloyd caught the man's blade, parrying it and sending the man hurling past him. As the man stumbled past, forced on by the momentum of his own hasty attack, Lloyd drew his blade across his attacker's midsection, slicing a deep gash across the man's belly. Spinning his blade about in his hand, Lloyd drove his sword behind him, into the man's back. The attacker let out a cry, then fell to the ground in a crumpled heap.

The third attacker now moved in with a heavy, overhead blow. Lloyd dodged the attack, rolling under the man's swing. He spun around, facing his attacker just in time to parry another blow. The parry left the man open, but before Lloyd could strike, the previously injured ruffian attacked from his side. He'd not yet compensated for his injured right arm, and Lloyd easily deflected his blow, sending a hard elbow to the man's nose in response. The man stumbled back, once again dazed, and Lloyd cut him down.

It was about this time that Lloyd became aware of Nyeli's battle. She seemed to be struggling with a man much larger than herself, something Lloyd knew was not easy if one was not accustomed to fighting. She had seemed less than confident going into the fight, but Lloyd had left her with little choice. He would have to apologize for that later, but for now they would both have to do what needed to be done, regardless of their experience. The fact that they seemed far more resilient than they'd both been the day before did leave him some comfort.

AS he noted this, the final man came in for another attack. This one Lloyd caught straight on. The man pressed his attack hard, with both hands on the hilt of his sword. Lloyd placed his second hand on the back side of his own blade. Using the leverage this gave him, Lloyd pressed beck at the man, overpowering him. In a single motion, he flung the man's sword aside and disarmed him by cutting into his forearm. The man cried out and fell backwards. Immediately, Lloyd fell upon him, using some of the rope that had been left around the campsite to bind the man. Rising slowly, Lloyd stretched out his limbs and his back. Adrenaline had kept him going through the fight, and he'd expected his me sore almost immediately afterwards. To the contrary, he found he was as limber as he'd ever been.

He now saw Nyeli walking towards him, obviously in some pain, though it seemed to decrease rather quickly. Lloyd motioned towards the bound man, "I've got our prisoner. How are you doing?"

Lloyd looked behind her to the two men she'd defeated, "You did well. If you'd like, you can have the first shot at interrogating our prisoner here. Don't feel any need to go easy on him."
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:32 pm

Nyeli's pain eased as she walked toward Lloyd. In fact, it eased far too quickly to be natural. She wanted to check her wound but had to put it off for now. Her eyes flitted from Lloyd to the man he'd subdued. She noted that the man's arm still bled and the tight ropes that bound him must have hurt like hell. But, frankly, Nyeli didn't care at all. Drawing her slender stiletto from her belt, she crouched beside the man where he lay on his back and stared at her defiantly.

"Look," She began, sounding rather tired and bored. "It's been a bad day all told. And I really don't have the patience for all the social etiquette and rules of asking questions nicely." She cleaned some dried blood from beneath her nails with the sharp point of the stiletto, deliberately drawing attention to it's gleaming blade. "So, this is how it is going to be. We ask you questions and you answer them civilly and truthfully. Then we let you go. If..."

"I'm not telling you shit, thief!" The thug spat at her in defiance.

Without hesitation, Nyeli drove her stiletto deep into the man's shoulder, nearly pinning him to the ground. The thug howled in pain, spittle sprayed as he swore at her and tears streamed from the corners of his eyes.

Nyeli waited, exuding a calm facade until he had quieted once more and continued as if nothing had happened. "If..." She continued. "You lie to us or become rude...well. You've already felt the consequences of such a rash action." She jerked the stiletto from the wound producing a new scream of pain from the hired assassin. "Shall we start?" Nyeli asked softly.

"I'm not telling you anything! I'm already a dead man!"

Once more, Nyeli's thin-bladed knife drove downward, this time into the man's thigh. Fresh screams filled the quiet clearing. "I thought we'd been through this already?" She asked the man. "You can die right here and right now. Or...answer our questions and we give you a chance to get out and save yourself. Are you a gambler?" She withdrew her blade, leaving the man panting from the pain and bleeding through his leather jerkin and pants. "We'll start simply. Where did you come from?"

The thug looked from Nyeli to the quiet Lloyd and back again. "Ash..Ashwood. I was contacted there."

Nyeli smiled. She didn't know if she would have had the stomach to keep up the act much longer. "Good. Ashwood. Were you all from Ashwood?"

The man looked away, "Yes..." His tone was low and resigned.

Playing her cold-blooded role, Nyeli wiped the blade of her stiletto clean on the man's shirt sleeve, making him stiffen in fear. "Who hired you?"

"I-I don't know." He shook his head quickly, "I swear! I don't know. I never saw his face. Only a messenger and a fat purse. Told us to come here and wait for you all...kill you and then take all your belongings. We were to return it to the messenger...in 10 days' time."

Nyeli glanced briefly up toward Lloyd to see if she could glean what his thoughts were. Looking back to the man, she asked, "What were you supposed to get?"

"He never said...just to bring back everything." He looked to Lloyd when Nyeli did. "We thought there was treasure...." His voice trailed off when he realized he and his men likely had been played for fools.

Nyeli stood from her crouch beside the man. She was pale, she'd never had to harm anyone so deliberately before. It made her slightly ill. But, a small part of her reminded Nyeli that this man's employer had wanted her and her group dead. And that was just unfriendly.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:57 am

Lloyd placed a firm hand on Nyeli's shoulder as he passed by her. "You did well." his voice was quiet, just enough for her to hear. He then knelt beside the bound and bleeding man. He made no show of his blade, he merely crouched next to the thug and gave him a good, hard stare. Lloyd's eyes were cold, showing no underlying emotion, only a cool, calculating mind behind them.

"I'm going to be very blunt with you, and I expect you to return the favor." Lloyd spoke in an even tone. If there was doubt inside him, he let no one see it, "I'm going to ask you a question, and you're going to answer truthfully. I'm not nearly as forgiving as my companion here, and I'm having a bad day, so if I get the feeling you're being difficult, or not telling me the truth, I'm just going to kill you. Understand?"

The man nodded. He presented a tough face, and gave Lloyd a defiant glare, but Nyeli's dagger had broken him, and he was compliant.

"Good.' Lloyd placed his hand on the man's shoulder, his thumb perilously close to the wound Nyeli's stiletto had left, 'It's a simple question I have: where were you set to meet the messenger?"

"Back in Ashwood. We were to bring whatever we found back to Ashwood."

"You're doing good so far. Keep this up, and we'll be done in no time.' Lloyd smiled, an odd smile, half-way between kind and sinister, 'Now, where in Ashwood were you supposed to find him?"

"There's a tavern in Ashwood, 'The Golden Pint'.' the man breathed heavily between sentences, 'We were told that if we waited there, he would find us."

"Very good.' Lloyd removed his hand from the man's shoulder, 'One last question: are there nay more of you, other than this group? When we leave, is anyone else going to attack us?"

"Not that I know.' the man looked down for a moment, then returned his gaze to Lloyd, 'We weren't told of anyone else being hired, but considering what's happened so far, I couldn't tell you anything for sure."

"Thank you,' Lloyd replied in a half-mocking tone, 'you've been most helpful."

"Then please, let me go!" The man had lost his defiance almost entirely, now only survival moved him.

"Of course." Lloyd stood and drew his sword. A look of dread crossed the bound man's face as Lloyd raised his sword and prepared to deliver a deathblow.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:03 pm

Nyeli's eyes widened in shock when she realized that Lloyd meant to kill the bound man. She leapt forward, grabbing his raised arm, "No! You can't simply kill him! Not like this!" She clung to his arm while Lloyd met her gaze. It seemed sold to her after all she'd been through so far. She couldn't get a read on his true purpose.

The man lying on the ground cried out for mercy, assuring them he'd told them everything he knew. "The messenger...I can tell you what he looked like!" He screamed.

Nyeli continued to cling to Lloyd's arm, staying the deathblow. Her eyes flitted to the man on the ground. "Tell us now! I will not hold him if you don't!"

Babbling, the man told them of an thin man with a shaved head, and nearly black eyes. They were told of the long robes with an embroidered hem and sleeves. As well as a large silver locket on a heavy chain about the messenger's neck.

Furrowing her brows, Nyeli had to wonder at the odd appearance of a mere messenger. Even a trusted servant to a very rich man wouldn't be dressed so well. " Let him go, Lloyd." She whispered. "He can't get back to Ashwood before we get there. He's no longer a threat." She looked back to the man, "If we leave you with water and food, you can get back. But you will not be left with a horse. If we see you ever again, you will die. Understood?"

The would-be assassin nodded vigorously, crying from pain and relief. "I swear it! I owe that bastard no loyalty."

Nyeli wasn't sure who was more relieved, the thug or her. The pair put together two packs with food and supplies to travel. Catching the horses brought by the group that had ambushed them had ridden to the caverns on. Good horse flesh was worth money, but Nyeli knew it would slow them down. So she let them go with a slap on the rump. Throwing herself into the saddle of her horse, she settled and looked back towards the death-filled caverns.

Should they return to report of their failure to the Old Man? That option grated. She'd rarely come away empty-handed before. She didn't like it one bit. Nyeli murmured to Lloyd as he also mounted his horse. "I, for one, have many questions I'd like to ask of the man that wants us dead. Mainly why and what they were after." She paused, "I don't mean to stop until I have those answers for the Old Man. What say you?" She asked in an odd echo of her initial question when they'd first arrived.

As they rode toward Ashwood to look for the messenger that had set the group of thugs after them, Nyeli once again had to wonder just what they'd gotten themselves into.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:17 pm

Lloyd gave Nyeli a hard stare when she stopped him. To say he did not appreciate her interference was a grievous understatement. He should have known she wouldn't have the stomach for it. "He's a loose end, Nyeli.' He hissed as she held back his arm, 'If we let him go, he could warn someone about us!"

The man babbled off a description, oblivious to Lloyd's words. Nyeli answered his concerns - somewhat. It was true though, the man wouldn't have time to surpass them, even without his injuries. It went against Lloyd's better judgement, but he allowed the man to live, more for Nyeli's sake than for anything else. An odd thought crossed his mind: they seemed somehow impervious to normally lethal damage, perhaps there really was nothing the man could further do to them. It was nothing more than an amusing thought.

Lloyd remained quiet until they'd mounted, and Nyeli asked him yet again what his opinion was. He thought he heard a new inflection, perhaps a form of doubt brought on by her dislike of his attempted actions. Then again, it could have been anything, if it was anything at all. After a pause, he replied, "At the moment, I couldn't care less what answers we bring back to Sretin. I'm concerned only for our own survival. If that happens to coincide with getting information Sretin might find useful, then so be it. Either way, Ashwood's the only lead we have, and I have some choice words for this 'messenger.' "

There was a brief moment of silence before Lloyd spoke one last thought, "Next time, don't stay my hand. If we want to get our answers and survive, we can't let sentimentality ruin our judgement. It may seem harsh to you now. Perhaps with time you may learn to accept it. Perhaps not. Regardless, I'm doing the best I can to watch out for both of our hides. Don't interfere, or I may not be able to protect you."

He could tell that his words did not land softly with her, but that was not what concerned him. There was much that he'd learned in his years, and some of it would have made the average man recoil with revulsion. Sometimes it seemed enough to drive a man mad. But there was one truth that seemed persistent, one law that could be counted on time and time again in an ever-changing world: the strong survive.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:22 pm

Nyeli knew in her heart that Lloyd was right and they should end the thug where he lay. He had no compunctions about trying to kill them, after all. She tried to tell herself she was better than they were...but the truth was she couldn't bear killing. It's not what she did. She wasn't a a soldier or murderer or a simple pragmatist like Lloyd was, she was a thief; someone who never should have left the city she was familiar with.

Lloyd's reassurance that he knew best made Nyeli feel somewhat better. At least he didn't simply take off alone, leaving her to fend for herself. Darta would have had no qualms at all about killing her himself and then leaving her body behind. So she nodded to the older man, bowing to his greater experience, "Aye. I'll remember, Lloyd. I'll not interfere again."

The pair made up packs for themselves, tying them to the saddles of two horses they'd chosen from the mounts that their attackers had brought with them. Nyeli also found a sword for herself since her dagger would not serve for any fighting in the future. Mounting, Lloyd and Nyeli turned their horses east and rode into the night toward the small walled city of Ashwood. The ride is mostly silently, small glances toward Lloyd reveals a grim profile. She wished she knew what was going through his mind.

Several hours into the ride, they stopped before a bridge crossing the Drinwile River to water their horses. Nyeli splashed the cool water on her face and scrubbed her fingers through her nut-brown hair. She should be sore, injured...even dead. But she wasn't. It was a bone she worried at like a terrier. Finally, she had to ask. "Lloyd..." She started hesitantly. "Why aren't we dead? Darta, Trita, the Twins, they're all dead. But, not us." She stood from the water before continuing, "I was stabbed through the stomach, you took an arrow through the heart and yet we live. We have no wounds at all." Saying it aloud made the prospects far more frightening than they had been before. "Are we cursed? Witched?" She whispered the words with all the usual superstition people had about magic and magic-users.


She had more questions than answers and she didn't like it. The pair mounted once more to continue toward Ashwood. Their horse's hooved drummed hollowly across the wooden bridge and then onto the roadway once more. In the first pink rays of the morning, they found themselves among the crowds of farmers waiting to enter the city through it's narrow gates. They seemed to be the only ones in the crowd that were subdued and quiet. Once they'd entered the city, Nyeli dismounted to lead her horse through the tightly packed crowds on the street. She was far happier among the buildings and jostling people than she had been out among the countryside. A quick inquiry garnered directions to the inn the thug had named for meeting the messenger. Common sense would dictate that they take time to rest and eat, but whether it was anger or nerves or something else, she didn't know; but she wasn't tired or hungry at the moment.

The thought of the artifact suddenly surged into her mind, prompting another question, "What happened to the glowing stone on the dais?" She frowned trying to remember. "We were touching it and....then what happened?" She looked up at Lloyd, "Do you remember?"
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:13 pm

Lloyd didn't answer Nyeli's questions. He didn't know the answers. He simply filled their canteens and did what he could to wash the blood off of his face. He knew she needed answers, and he wished he could give them, or at least provide some form of comfort. He had, unfortunately, neither to give, so he remained silent.

The rest of the ride to Ashwood was silent. There were no words to be had, only the silence of deep and troubled thought. There was no question that they both should be dead, and there was no explanation other than magic, at least none that could be understood by Lloyd. Though he did not share the common fear of magic, or even any strong belief in its existence, Lloyd knew the stories, and did not take the possibility of its involvement lightly. Still, he hoped for another answer.

When they reached Ashwood, Lloyd's questions were temporarily replaced by familiar caution. He watched each face in the crowd, searching for foul intent. It gave him some strange comfort, if perhaps only in taking his mind off of their increasingly strange predicament. They were on their way to the meeting point when Nyeli asked him one more question.

"I do not.' Lloyd replied, tone cold as he searched his memory for any better answer, 'I don't know what happened to it, only that it was gone when I awoke. It must be tied to what happened to us, and I believe it was what killed the others. Other than that, I know nothing."

Lloyd could see that his answer did little to satisfy her need for an answer, but it was all that he could do. However, his mid moved to other things. There was still the matter of finding and meeting the messenger, and of somehow convincing him to tell them his secrets. That would, no doubt, be easier than whatever came next. They would need to find out who was hunting them, and why, and then find some way to stop them. At the same time, they needed to find out what it was that had happened to them. Perhaps progress in one would help further the other, but if the past few days had been any indication, their luck was not so great. Either way, what lay ahead of them promised to be no easy task.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:27 pm

Moving along the narrow streets, leading their horses, Nyeli and Lloyd neared the inn the thug had told them was the meeting place. A stable close by took their horses with the instructions to feed them and keep them ready for travel. The unfamiliar feel of a sword at her hip made Nyeli uncomfortable. Here in these crowds, where she felt most at home, it seemed an enormous weight. Every time they passed a patrol of City Guard, she felt as though they were staring right at her. She knew it was irrational, but couldn't shake the feeling.

The avenues turned into streets and the streets turned into alleys, while they, in turn, turned into a warren of mere pathways between buildings that seemed to lean toward one another the higher they reached. This was the world Nyeli was used to. Her strides became more confident and she lead the way toward the tavern nearly at the center of the oldest part of Ashwood. Emerging from a stinking alley, they stepped into a surprising open space. A small square had survived the building of homes and businesses. Almost directly opposite them stood the Golden Pint. The inn was remarkably well-kept considering the run-down conditions of the buildings surrounding it.

Nyeli glanced up at Lloyd before heading across the square toward the inn. No one appeared to take any notice of them. Inside the tavern, a long bar occupied the entire right hand wall while a dozen tables with benches filled the middle space. Around the perimeter, the rest of the walls had small alcoves built into the walls with curtains across the openings to provide for privacy. Despite several small windows in the thick walls, the room was dim. A fire place helped somewhat, but most of the alcoves that were occupied had candles lit on the tables to help fight the darkness.

Looking around, Nyeli searched the different alcoves for the messenger described. And sure enough, in the farthest alcove, a bald man dressed in long green robes with embroidered sleeves sat with a straight back. There was no ale or meal before him. He simply waited, it seemed. His skin seemed stretched thin across his cheekbones and the robes almost hung on him, as if he was shrinking within them.

Nyeli once more looked up to Lloyd for reassurance and decided for now that he should take the lead.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:22 pm

Slowly, Lloyd crossed the room. Deliberate steps carried him until he was standing by the table at which the mysterious man sat. There was something sickly in the man's look, as though he were hanging onto a life that would naturally have left him long ago. It was odd, but Lloyd found himself unsettled by this man. Scared even. Lloyd could have easily overpowered him, and sent him to whatever hell had already seemed to claim him. Yet, there was something dark about the man. Lloyd wondered if Nyeli sensed it as well.

Putting up a strong face, Lloyd sat down across from the man. Nyeli seated herself beside Lloyd. For some time, there was silence. The man's black eyes seemed penetrating, first stripping away their clothes, then flesh and bone, until it felt as though he peered into their very souls. Lloyd spoke, fearing that if he did not, all his strength would flee from him, "We found the caves."

As soon as he'd finished speaking, Lloyd couldn't help but wonder if he should have said something else. Perhaps a more direct approach would have been better. His doubts increased as the man simply sat there, staring.

Finally, the 'messenger' spoke, "And?" His voice had a certain rasp to it, as though he were speaking from the grave.

"Only two of the ones who'd gone in ever came out.' Lloyd threw a wry smile in Nyeli's direction - a ruse he hoped would lure in the messenger, 'And they were given a rather unexpected welcome."

There was yet another pause. Those penetrating black eyes seemed to stare at both of them at once, while seeming to look at nothing at all. The man's dead voice brought no comfort, "And of what they were carrying?"

"Nothing more than supplies and weapons. Whatever was so important to send us after it, they must have left it in the caves." Lloyd leaned in on the table.

"And you didn't go in after it?" the man seemed halfway between serious and mocking.

"We weren't equipped to go running through caves, chasing after relics.' Lloyd raised his voice ever-so-slightly, 'I lost men attacking the one's that did surface! What was so important that you sent men to die for it? What were you looking for?"

Yet again, Lloyd's words were met only by silence. The man stared, but this time, Lloyd stared back. His fear had all but left him, and now he returned to the messenger his own cold gaze.

"What did you expect to gain from this farce?' The messenger's question startled Lloyd, 'You were a fool to believe I'd not see through your deception."

Lloyd wasted no time responding, "You're the fool, if you ever believed that you'd leave this building without telling us exactly what it is we want to know."

"Once again,' the man laughed, a sickly laugh that made Lloyd's skin crawl, 'you are the fool. I am but a messenger. I know only what I need to know, nothing more. And whatever I do know shall not pass through my lips while I still draw breath."

Before Lloyd could respond, the man bolted from his seat. Lloyd tried to grab him, but he tripped over Nyeli, and his grasp found only air. In seconds, the man was outside. Nyeli and Lloyd followed. The man was nearly lost to the crowd when Lloyd spotted him.

"Follow him, Nyeli!' Lloyd barked, 'I'll try to cut him off."
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:14 pm

Without warning, the man bolted from his seat and was out the door nearly before either of them could react. Lloyd grabbed for his robes, but missed. Nyeli and Lloyd raced to the street to catch a glimpse of messenger's bright robe disappearing into the dense crowd. Now, Nyeli was in her element, she'd find the man. Taking off at a run, the slender girl slipped through the crowds like a fish through water. The messenger's choice of robe color made him easy to keep in sight.

Nyeli was able to clamber up to the low roof tops to be able to see down into the streets below better. She ran along the flat roofs, leaping across the narrow alleyways as she kept an eye on her quarry. The man below ducked down a particularly dark alley. Just for a moment, she lost sight of the man. But then a deep purple haze appeared below and another man stepped into the dank alley. This man was tall with a patrician nose and dark hair cut to his shoulders. His clothes were richly made, but the sleeves were stained with inks and other unidentifiable ingredients. Around his neck was a large amulet similar to that of the messenger, but more elaborate.

Nyeli gasped at the open display of magic and ducked low on the rooftop to watch.

"Well? Did they get it?" The new man asked sharply.

The messenger, bowed and kept his head down while he spoke, making him more difficult to hear. "No, I fear, that two of those sent to get the object survived and our men told them where to come."

The dark-haired man drew himself up and fairly hissed. "And you called me here? They may have followed you!" He raised a hand and hit the messenger so hard, it sent the man to his knees. "I should kill you where you lie, Atraius!"

"No, no! Please, I was careful. I swear no one followed me." The way that the messenger grovelled made Nyeli wonder.

"We shall see." The man glanced around and drew a pouch from his belt. Reaching inside, he drew out a small handful of what appeared to be sand. The dark man muttered a few words, and passed his opposite hand over the sand in the open palm of his left. It began to glow softly.

Nyeli's eyes widened, but she couldn't look away. It was fascinating and frightening all at the same time.

The Mage flung the sand out into the alley in a wide arc as if sewing seeds. It remained floating in the air. Each grain seemed to give off a golden light of its own and remained suspended by the magic that infused it. The sand began to swirl and twist in the air, coalescing into two separate streams; one drifted toward the opening of the alley the messenger had come from and the other angled up toward where Nyeli hid on the rooftop.

Nyeli scrambled back away from the edge when she saw the enchanted sand heading for her. For some reason (or lack of reason), she feared letting the sand touch her. The closer the sand got, the more it glowed. A sharp warmth bloomed in Nyeli's chest as the sand neared her. Glancing down, Nyeli was shocked to see a distinct golden glow eminating from beneath the skin of her chest in answer to the glow of the magic-infused sand.

Nyeli ducked beneath the slowly shifting sand and raced to the edge of the rooftop and looked over it to the alley below. She had to warn Lloyd of the Mage. She arrived just in time to see the Wizard strike the messenger down with a wickedly curved blade.

"You've failed me once too many times, Atraius. I will just have to take the artifact from them." Looking up from his servant's body, the Mage spied Nyeli on the rooftop above him. His smile was nasty. "Come down." He called to her in a menacing tone and touched his chest in the same spot where the glow emanated from Nyeli. "I can see the artifact shard within you, girl." His eyes slip to the entrance of the alley. "The other one has another piece, doesn't he?"

Just at that second, Lloyd rounded the corner into the alleyway and the floating sand engulfed his body. The shard embedded in his chest lit up as Nyeli's had. But, because the sand also surrounded him, Lloyd was lifted off the ground as well. He floundered there while the Mage began drawing him closer. "You won't be needing those. But, I do." He brandished the still-bloody knife in his left hand. "I swear your deaths will be swift."
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:01 pm

Lloyd threw his arms and legs about, trying to regain himself, but it was nothing more than helpless flailing. This magic-borne sand had him completely trapped. The run down alley was full of things upon which he could have anchored himself, but the Mage was diligent in keeping him away from anything he could grab onto. It seemed that the fiend had an appetite for the dramatic, as he pulled Lloyd towards himself slowly, as if to prolong his victim's suffering. It was foolish of him, as instead of panicking, Lloyd put his mind towards escape.

On the rooftops above his head, Lloyd caught a glimpse of Nyeli. From what he could see, she was still free. His mind raced, trying to find a way to use her freedom to his advantage. It didn't take him long to settle on a course of action. "Nyeli! Run!"

Lloyd hoped that if the girl fled, the Mage's attention might become split, perhaps granting him an advantage. He was unable to see whether or not she did as he said, for the sand had brought him close enough for the Mage to reach him, and he did not dare look away. Lloyd's attacker held his dagger casually. He was no fighter, but he was well acquainted with the blade. His eyes were cold, unfeeling. His face betrayed no hint of uncertainty, yet he hesitated to strike Lloyd down. Perhaps he was trying to savor the moment.

"Why?" Lloyd asked, as calm as he could manage. He was answered only by a silent gaze. "Answer me, cur!"

"Finally." The Mage gave only one word in response, half-muttered and in no way directed towards Lloyd. Slowly, he drew the dagger up, readying to strike his prey down. With what Lloyd guessed was all his strength, the Mage thrust the blade at the glowing point on his captive's chest.

It happened so quickly, Lloyd himself barely understood until afterwords. The pain was sharp, piercing, and uncomfortably familiar. At the last possible second, Lloyd had pushed the blade aside, so instead of its intended target, the dagger found only the meat of his left shoulder. Lloyd saw his chance. With the Mage momentarily distracted, Lloyd grabbed at him, pulling himself closer to his captor. With all the force he could muster, Lloyd rammed the top of his head into the man's brow. The Mage recoiled, pulling the dagger free. The magical sand fell to the ground, and Lloyd fell with it. Landing on his feet, Lloyd sprang towards the Mage, but the man was able to regain himself and jump out away.

Lloyd could already feel his wounded flesh knitting itself back together as he bounded after his attacker. The Mage fled from him, no doubt too rattled to think of attempting another spell, or perhaps he did not have the time required to cast it. The man was almost in Lloyd's grasp when he rounded a corner. Lloyd followed, but was met by a vision of nothing. The Mage had vanished, gone, now that his advantage was lost. Lloyd muttered a profanity under his breath, and turned his attention to finding what had become of Nyeli.
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Digital Muse on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:55 pm

As much as she hated to, Nyeli scrambled away from the ledge of the rooftop when Lloyd yelled for her to run. The enchanted sand pursued her, but she was determined not to allow it to touch her after having seen it pick Lloyd up and levitate him so easily. Backing away, she drew her knife out of sheer instinct and brandished it at the seemingly sentient sand.

Suddenly, her heel caught on the opposing edge of the roof and with a tiny squeak of fear, Nyeli toppled over the edge toward the street below. The threatening sand, however, became her saviour when it wrapped itself around her ankle tightly leaving her dangling 10 feet below the roof's edge. Nyeli twisted and jerked trying to break its grip. Her knife simply passed through the enchanted sand as if through water and had no effect at all.

The entire struggle above the street was silent and no one below looked up to see the thief hanging by one ankle. Suddenly, the sand became disorganized grains and Nyeli fell toward the street. She landed heavily on the awning over a fruit vendor's store, rolled off it's sloped pitch and twisting harshly, managed an ungainly crouched landing in the middle of a startled crowd.

Seeing so many wide-eyed stares pointed her way, Nyeli quickly sheathed her dagger, put on a bright grin and bowed as if she were another of the many transient street performers every city is plagued with. True to form, the 'audience' quickly lost interest in her in case she tried to pass a hat for money.

Shaken, but the near miss, Nyeli began to hurry toward the mouth of the alleyway to check on Lloyd, only to see him run out of it as if looking for someone. She joined him quickly and they began to walk away from the scene as quickly as they could without drawing attention to themselves.

"What happened? Where is the Mage?" Nyeli asked under her breath.

Lloyd just shook his head at her. He obviously didn't know where the Mage had gone.

Nyeli glanced towards Lloyd's sternum and touched her own. "You saw the glow? Beneath our skin?" She asked. "That's the artifact, isn't it? That has to be why...we heal like we do." She frowned, "And that's why he wanted it, don't you think? And the old man?" She was mostly just speculating aloud, but in her mind, the logic was sound.


They hadn't gone far when a shriek came from somewhere behind them. The messenger's body had been found. It seemed like the square was suddenly flooded with City Guard, so Nyeli and Lloyd ducked into a nearby mercantile selling clothing and other necessities for traveling. While Lloyd browsed the shelves in front of the window, Nyeli engaged the shopkeeper in idle conversation. Looking down at her clothes, she realized, they were torn and bloodied. A quick and deadly mistake when the City Guard were looking for anyone suspicious. Thankfully, the old man behind the counter was a busy, talkative sort who didn't seem to take note of their clothes. He seemed more interested in the gossip of the day.

Several customers came and went in the next half hour while Lloyd and Nyeli watched with increasing anxiety as the City Guards began to search the square building by building. One fat, old woman rushed into the shop, quite out of breath and exclaimed, "Oh my word! Mr. Quintas! Have you heard? Oh...*puff*...it's just a horror!"

The shop-keeper found the old woman a chair and solicitously helped her to sit. "What ever is the matter, Mrs. Dunn? What's happened?" He sounded more excited for some juicy news rather than concerned for the old woman's health, though.

Nyeli listened absently from her place near the blankets. "Oh! It's the worst thing! The Mayor!" Mrs. Dunn gasped out. "He's been murdered! What is the world coming to?"

Mr. Dunn tsk'd sympathetically, but pried for more information.

"Strangled, he was!" The old woman continued. "They say a silver bar was placed through his chain of office, you know the one. With the big medallion at the front?" She paused to catch her breath again. "And then it was twisted all up so that he was strangled with it!"

"You don't say!" Mr. Quintas exclaimed. "Who would ever have done such a thing? He wasn't always a likable man...but he done good by the city, that is for certain."

But the old woman wasn't finished delivering her bad news, "And then? His poor manservant must have known who did such a thing. They say he went to avenge his master's death and was cut down like a dog in an alleyway not yards from here, Mr. Quintas! What is this world coming to?"

The shop keeper had no answer for the old woman's lament. But, he straightened slowly from her side to glance side-long at Nyeli and Lloyd. "Just yards from here, you say?" He repeated to Mrs. Dunn. He glanced toward the door and then back to Nyeli and Lloyd.

Nyeli could see the instant the shop-keeper made the decision to jump. In a flash, she grabbed several blankets and a ruck sack and barrelled after him. Just as he jerked the door open to shout for the City Guard, Nyeli heaved her shoulder into his back, sending him sprawling into the dirt outside his shop. She threw a blanket over her shoulders like a poncho and urged Lloyd to do the same.

They were well into the crowd by the time Mr. Quintas could climb to his feet and start shouting for the Guard to try to gain their attention. They had to get out of the city, but still had to find out what happened. Nyeli leaned close to Lloyd. "We did not kill the Mage...so who did? Another Mage? This has become more that either of us ever bargained for." Mostly she was just venting her frustration, and not really expecting Lloyd to have all the answers. "What do you think about a visit to the Mayor's house? Perhaps we can find something there, if the murderer or the City Guard haven't already taken it."
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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

Post by Crimson Saint on Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:45 pm

Lloyd mulled silently over Nyeli's suggestion, adjusting his make-shift cloak. The mayor's house would be one of the more dangerous places in the city, no doubt crawling with guards, suspicious and shaken servants, and possibly even a killer. It seemed madness to go there, yet it was also the only trail to follow. If they passed up this opportunity, they could do nothing more than wait for the next attempt on their life.

"There will only be a short window of opportunity.' Lloyd gave his answer quietly, fearing unfriendly ears, 'Perhaps an hour or two before the grounds are impassable. There may be little, if any, information to be found, and nothing will be found without great personal risk."

For another moment, the man was silent. He'd thought out this plan carefully, but it seemed more difficult when it came time to speak it. Still, he saw only one option, even if it was risky. After a quiet sigh, he continued with his plan.

"You should go alone.' he paused, trying to gauge Nyeli's reaction, 'You have the skills necessary to get in and out safely. I do not. If anything, I will only slow you down, and increase the risk. Alone, you may find what we need."

The rest of their walk was consumed with Lloyd sharing the rest of his plan, pausing every once in a while to check for any unwanted listeners. In such panic and confusion as the murders had cause, they had little trouble avoiding the guards, though as they came closer to the mayor's house, the number of guards noticeably increased. When they were sure they had gotten close to the house, Lloyd and Nyeli split up. Lloyd watched as the girl made her way towards the house. A silent prayer for her success ran unbidden through his head.

With Nyeli off to see what could be gathered from the mayor's home, Lloyd continued with the rest of the plan. First, he went about gathering fresh supplies, carefully selecting merchants that were far enough from the nexus of the commotion so as to avoid unnecessary suspicion. Their horses were still tied up outside the inn where they'd first found the messenger. Lloyd loaded them with the supplies and led them to the edge of the city. There, he found things as he'd expected.

City guards were carefully monitoring who was entering and leaving the city, no doubt in order to keep the murderer from getting away. It would be difficult to get out, but Lloyd had expected this. Slowly, he approached the guards. A large man stepped out in front of him, arms crossed. The man glared at him, but Lloyd ignored him, instead seeking out a smaller man, the one who seemed to be in charge.

"What's going on?" Lloyd asked the guard.

The smaller guardsman approached, seemingly annoyed that he had to get involved, "No one's going out right now. Guard-captain's orders. Just head back in and try again tomorrow."

"I saw you just let a man out, only a moment ago."

"He was a merchant, he had all his papers in order."

"There must be a way I can get out." Lloyd pressed.

The guard began to squirm, visibly annoyed, "What's your business, that it's so urgent?"

"I'm a traveler.' Lloyd lied without hesitation, 'I came in this morning for supplies, and the group I'm traveling with is leaving tonight. I need to be with them as they leave."

"There's been a killing,' the guard blurted, 'so no one's going out without papers."

"If there's a killer running loose, then I need out all the more!' Lloyd shouted, drawing as much attention as he could, 'My companions are leaving and the roads aren't safe! You wouldn't send an innocent traveler out on his own with murderer's running amok?"

A small crowd gathered, and the guard was obviously flustered. His eyes darted around as he took note of the concerned expressions on the faces of the onlookers.

"Alright, keep quiet!' the guard spoke in a harsh whisper, 'No need to cause panic. You can go, just keep your voice down!"

Lloyd nodded, thanked the guard, and made his way out of the city. He'd done his part, and now he could only make his way to the place he'd set told Nyeli to meet him. Once there he had only to wait, and see what Nyeli could find, if she could even get out alive.

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Re: Immortality Can Be Fatal

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