A Cold Wind ~~Awakenings~~

Discussion in 'The Salty Dog Tavern' started by The Watch, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. The Watch

    The Watch Well-Known Member
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    Zeddar sat next to a small fire, his tattered cloak clutched tight around him. The icy wind whistled outside the mouth of the cave, but Zeddar paid it no mind. He carefully turned the dry, cracked pages of an ancient tome. It was the last surviving relic of what had once been a mighty kingdom.

    The History of Shadowcove was the title, and it bore a simple SxC on the front cover in faded golden lettering. Some pages were missing, and the last three chapters had been burned away, but it was all he had left...the book, and a faded blue ribbon.

    He held the ribbon to his nose and breathed in deeply, though all he could smell were his own grimy fingers. Once the ribbon had held her hair back.... velvet waves of shimmering purple so deep it seemed black. Queen Morgaine had given the ribbon to him one day when he'd pulled her from the mouth of a hungry Drake near Destard. The Queen's fingers had shaken as she untied the ribbon from her hair and tied it around his upper arm, naming him her champion.

    Zeddar had worn the ribbon for a month. Then he'd kept it in a golden lockbox hidden in an alcove of his keep. Now, he used it to mark his spot in the book, closing the cover slowly to protect the fragile pages within. He turned and stared at the flickering flames for a long time, the dancing shadows pulling unwanted memories from him....

    The rise of Shadowcove, and the Keepers.... His time as the leader of the Council of Mystics, and Dean of the Hall of Mystics, the training center for the SxC Wizards, Mages, and Tamers.... The fall of the kingdom, bloody and swift.... The rise of Silvervale in the ashes of the Cove.... Ilina le Kyteller, Abbysinthe, Cage Johnson.... His friends for so many years.

    Now, all had crumbled to dust....all that was left were the dancing shadows in his mind. The ghosts from ages past that refused to leave him.... the laughter of friends no longer there.

    The wind howled outside the Cavern, louder this time. For a moment, Zeddar felt a strong pull on his soul, a nearly irresistable urge to step outside the cavern, breathe deeply, and walk in the world again. He pushed it aside roughly, harshly, but the feeling would not leave him. It had been growing slowly, steadily for months now, and it was becoming too much to ignore. It made him want to weep.

    Zeddar had left the world behind, walked away. He had awoken to find his home gone, the dust of his friends' bones scattered in the wind, and all memory of them washed from the history of Man. What was there left in the world for him? Why should he answer the call of Fate? Hadn't he done enough when he'd given his life's essence in the spell to destroy the Dark Lord Necromonk?

    Hadn't his debt been paid?

    But just then, Zeddar's twisted memories spit forth the image of a twisted, hunched old man in a dusty cave looking out over the vast Desert Sands west of Vesper. The old Hermit had nursed him back to health once after a nasty encounter with a silver serpent. Zeddar was certain the man was mad, but he was also eerily lucid at the oddest moments. Once, after staring into a fire for seven hours straight, the grizzled old hermit had raised his face, and with milky white eyes, spoken in an echoing and hollow voice, "Never bargain with Fate, Wizard....What She sells is ne'er what you thought was bought....and the price is always steeper once the deal is made...."

    The hermit had fallen silent after that, and had slept for three days. Zeddar was sure he was dead, but the man had woken on the morning of the fourth day, and walked out of the cave without a word. Zeddar had never seen him again.

    The wind outside howled again, but this time it whipped through the cavern, tearing at the flickering fire, toppling the single wax candle on Zeddar's table, and opening the book. The ribbon floated out of the book and drifted towards the still wavering flames, and Zeddar's heart skipped a beat. He lunged across the small cavern, barely catching the ancient ribbon before it went up in flames.

    He huddled against the wall of the cavern, clutching the ribbon to his chest, and weeping silently. After a long time, Zeddar opened his eyes, and was surprised to find the cavern dark. The fire was nearly out, with only a few embers still glowing, and the darkness was heavy, oppressive. It seemed to be laughing at his sorrow and his pain.

    Zeddar walked over to the book and started to close it, but his hand paused. It had opened to the very page describing his death.... Zeddar glanced at the words, and the memories flooded back... His sense of honor, and duty.... his sense of purpose... his courage and his steadfast devotion for Queen Morgaine. He had been that man once... a man who had stood and faced the darkness, and won. He had been a hero once... a man of wisdom and of power... a man he had been proud to be.

    And he would be again.

    Zeddar tied the ribbon around the volume of history, and laid it carefully on the table at the back of the cavern. He kicked dust and dirt over the last of the embers, smothering them. Then, he walked to the mouth of the cave, summoned all of his long-dormant power that was left to him, and called upon the earth to move.

    At first, nothing happend... Zeddar strained, and focused until sweat ran down his face and neck. His blood was pounding in his ears. Then, some dust and pebbles began to slide down the slope. Zeddar pulled harder on his reserves of strength, and he felt a sudden surge within him like a blinding white light. The ground rumbled and snow mixed with stones and small boulders began to rain down the mountainside. Zeddar stumbled back, throwing up an arm to shield his face.

    When the dust had settled, the mouth of the cavern was gone, buried in the avalanche. Zeddar wiped the stinging tears from his face, and turned south. He felt the pull now, the inexorable force of Fate tugging on the strings of his life. Where they would lead, he couldn't say.....but he would face whatever foe was waiting.

    Zeddar grinned....

    As he walked through the blinding wind and snow, Zeddar's mind drifted back to the desert hermit. Years after the wandering madman had walked out on him, Zeddar had found his sandy cave once more, but it was empty. Etched into the stone at the back of the cave, though, was an inscription...."As long as a single candle burns...."

    Zeddar marched through the blizzard, laughing as tears streamed down his face.
  2. Jupiter

    Jupiter Well-Known Member

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    Re: Gales of fate - A wizard's burden

    He shouted into the swirling vortex "But my will it will be my own; this is certain?!"

    If he only had understood the cruel irony of their honest reply. "Yesss your will shall be your own and you alone shall bear the burdens of all your deeds be they virtuous or be they vice."

    He awoke from his momentary nightmare to a frightful chill that spurned through the small village. It seemed to carry upon it a woeful tale with frozen tears.

    "A weeping gale?," he thought out loud. Now that was something he hadn't felt in such a very long time. There were very few who had roamed the lands long enough to cry such tears. And most of them he'd buried himself; compelled to forcibly lay down those he once called friend and brother. There were very few who chose his same path and resisted the rust and decay of that Master Corruptionist. Even he felt its pangs at times, usually after over exertion of his mind. How very ironic indeed; that in giving his full measure to defend the virtues he might become the very thing that threatens them..

    A second gust drew his gaze northward. Two chills in one evening... Who ever it was that wept was close indeed. Jupiter meant to find him before the tears ran out. He most certainly did not want to bury yet another demon...
  3. The Watch

    The Watch Well-Known Member
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    Chills and Shadows

    Ascher moved carefully through the trees, trying not to make a sound. The moon was bright, and full, and the shadows were stark. Ahead, a brief flash of movement and a glimpse of white. Ascher paused and went to one knee. His ears strained to pick up any whisper of noise.

    Then, on the edge of his hearing, he detected a snuffling sound. Something was testing the air, searching for a scent. Ascher tried to slow his breathing and calm his heart. He would need steady hands.

    He heard the leaves rustle, and a twig snap loudly. The snuffling sound grew a hair louder. Ascher pulled an arrow slowly from his quiver, and notched it. He took slow, carefully measured breaths.

    When the next twig snapped, Ascher stood and drew his bow in one smooth motion. The moonlight briefly gleamed in two wide, yellow eyes. Ascher released the arrow, and the bowstring thrummed softly. The shaft sliced through the night and landed with a solid, wet thunk; right between the eyes of the Orc.

    The creature spasmed twice, then toppled over and lay twitching in the leaf litter. Ascher moved quickly, silently forward, drawing his dagger. He quickly ended the Orc's suffering and retrieved his arrow. He wiped his blade clean on the tattered rags the Orc was wearing, and cursed himself for not bringing blade oil.

    Ascher heard a muffled growning, and walked over to the dark mound the Orc had deposited under a fallen tree. The Lady Sherrie La'Fayne of Trinsic tried to scramble away from him, but Ascher knelt and held an empty hand out to her, pushing the cowl of his cloak back to reveal his face. He made a shushing sound, and tried to calm the woman.

    She tried to scream against the gag in her mouth, then struggled wildly against the bindings on her hands and feet, then finally fainted. Ascher sighed and bent to cut her bindings free.

    Suddenly, a cold, sharp wind cut howling through the trees. Ascher shuddered and clutched his cloak closed, as sudden fingers of ice gripped his heart and made his breath fog before his face. Summer birds roosting in the Yew Trees around him suddenly chattered angrily, roused from their sleep rudely. And then, another gust just as strong and as icy hit.

    The birds all went immediately silent, and the shadows around Ascher suddenly seemed to be pressing in on him. In that brief moment, Ascher thought he could hear weeping, and laughter on that cold wind. And then, the moment had passed, and the spell shattered. The shadows retreated to their natural places, and the night was still again.

    Ascher shuddered as he looked around, his dagger still in hand, and eyes wide. He had felt the touch of evil in that wind when the shadows had surged. Something dark, and powerful, was stirring in the land, and it sent shivers through to Ascher's very soul. But, in the midst of all of that, the sound of the laughter came back to him, and the weeping... and somehow, both seemed a comfort.

    After a moment, Ascher sighed, and shrugged his shoulders, trying to ease the knot that had formed there. He bent and sliced the bindings holding the Lady Sherrie. He decided after a brief hesitation to leave the gag in for now.

    She might be in a screaming mood when she woke up, and he intended to sleep late.
    Jupiter likes this.
  4. Zyler

    Zyler Well-Known Member

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    OOC:
    Enjoying the stories. Thanks.

    This made me giggle,
  5. Jupiter

    Jupiter Well-Known Member

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    Re: An empty clearing ~~Awakenings~~

    Catalin stepped into the clearing and examined the scene before him. He now regretted even more that they had stopped to camp, but the terrible chill from the night before had left the horses in such a terrible state they were forced to tether them or risk being thrown.

    The information from the scout seemed true until this point, but he had not mentioned anything of a separate hunting party.

    Catalin paused to observe the eerily dead camp before him, trying to deduce who or what had assaulted these orcs. He had seen the after math of an orcish dispute but there was no evidence of that here. All of the orcs' bodies lay apart from each other, with what appeared to be arrow wounds to their skulls. Yet there were no shafts to be found. Whomever had executed these orcs had done so with precision and plenty of time to clean up after themselves. They had also taken great care to count every arrow.

    "Oi Kiln!" He called out "what do you make of this?" Catalin pointed to the open shackles. Perhaps the only clue the stranger had left was his method of releasing the woman who had been bound by these shackles during the night.

    "Seems to be the work of some ranger, by the looks of it," Kiln muttered. "appears he was interrupted too. Only not by any of them orcs. He clearly dealt with 'em a'fore making his way to this tree."

    "How do you mean?" Catalin questioned the dwarf but was sure he was right. He was grateful for Kiln's keen eye that caught details most would miss.

    Kiln stooped and recovered some metal from the ground "this here metal ain't from these orc shackles. Whoever it was that done this took count of every trace they might have left except this. Perhaps they hadn't counted on this here dwarf to be able to analyze the source odd this metal."

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