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Old 02-03-2016, 06:11 PM
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Chapter I - Welcome to Krakengard

~ Welcome to Krakengard ~

Dark. Cold. Damp. These three adjectives best describe the last few days for most of the prisoners bound for Krakengard. One by one they have been arriving over the course of the last week, some transferred from their previous prisons, some brought directly from their incarceration. How long they have been here doesn't matter though, nor where they came from or who they were before. All that matters is that they ended up here, at the Gatehouse. A small keep at the top of a hill, overlooking the bordering valley. Those prisoners who arrived during the day saw that it really isn't much to look at. It ought to be insignificant, and yet it is legendary, because there is only one reason prisoners are sent to the Gatehouse, and everybody in the kingdom of Seolyra knows it: They are going to be part of the next batch to be sent through to the colony to mine for ore. The very ore that is the sole reason the war with the Solitari has not been lost and at the same time the sole reason hundreds have been sent to Krakengard. The precious metal from Krakengard forges incredible magical arms and armor that keep the kingdom safe...at the expense of the kingdom's people who are sent to retrieve it.

At the Gatehouse, every prisoner has an individual cell, with no others close by. Everyone is isolated, or given a few last days of privacy, depending on your point of view. To many, Krakengard is worse than a death sentence. Horrific stories of demons that rise from the ground at night, invincible and unstoppable. Wouldn't a quick death be better?
Some on the other hand view Krakengard as a chance. A fresh start. Better than what is being left behind. May the gods have mercy on the souls of those who would find such a desolate place to be an improvement...

Other than the privacy, however, the time spent waiting at the Gatehouse has no redeeming features. The food is worse still than even the lowest standards for other prisons. Cracks in the walls, long overdue for repairs, lead to a cold breeze that runs through the whole place. The guards dress in warm cloaks, but the prisoners have nothing but a few rags and are left to freeze. No use taking particular care of prisoners at this point. If they are too weak to survive this place, the colony will kill them before they can produce any useful return for Seolyra. And so the cells are dark, cold, damp, and the meager rations are dreadful. The best one can hope for in this place is that the current batch of prisoners is about to be sent through and one doesn't have another six days of waiting ahead. The guards don't tell. Ever. Perhaps they enjoy this form of torturing the prisoners.

No matter whether the wait is one day or six, however, eventually everyone is led down to the basement. Spiraling stone stair cases, illuminated only by the torchlight of the guards escorting every prisoner, seem to continue on forever, leading deep down into the earth. Finally, a flickering light source up ahead indicates a change in scenery, and the stairs level out into a large cavernous chamber. All around the room, more spiral staircases lead back upstairs, direct connections to other parts of the complex. In front of several of these stand more prisoners, flanked by two guards. More in some cases. Those must be the dangerous criminals. Not that it takes a dangerous or violent crime to land a sentence to Krakengard anymore.



Today's round of prisoners is certainly an...interesting group, but for the moment they have little time to examine each other. Instead, almost all eyes are on the large stone archway at the opposite end of the room. It looks to be about twenty feet wide, and several times that in height and despite the obvious age of the stones it is constructed from, the whole thing looks nearly impeccable. Of course, the stone isn't what is holding everyone's' interest. No, that is most definitely the swirling vortex of blues and purples that is contained within the archway. On the one hand, it is clearly turbulent, fluent and in motion. On the other hand, the surface looks to be as smooth as a perfectly still lake. It is a conundrum that makes little sense...and yet with the knowledge of what awaits them on the other side, most prisoners probably don't spare it too much of a thought. This is it then, it seems like being sent to Krakengard was no idle threat. It is really about to happen.

"Good, good. Let's get this under way then, shall we?" A man speaks up once he is apparently satisfied all the prisoners are there. Distracted by the shiny portal, almost everyone failed to spot the group of men standing in the room who were neither guards nor prisoners. There are five of them, all dressed in long, dark green robes. Judges of some sort then. And the one who spoke, a bearded man with an exceptionally tall top hat that matches his robe, must be the spokesman. He unrolls the document he is holding in front of him and begins reading out loud. "For your crimes against Seolyra and the king, you have been sentenced to a lifetime in Krakengard where you will mine ore to pay for your sins. Of course, you all know this, and I have to read it out about once a week, and it's always the same, so I know this as well. So here's how this will work. One by one, I will call out your name, and you will step forward to this line. I will then read aloud your crimes for your fellow inmates to hear. It is only fair that they know what sort of people they are about to be locked up with for the rest of their pitiful lives. Once your crimes have been read, you will remain at your place and form a horizontal line in front of the portal while the other prisoners line up. The shackles on your legs have already been removed for your trip down here. Once all of you are lined up, the shackles on your arms will also be removed. At that point, you are to walk forward and head through the portal to the rest of your life. Fail to comply with any of these instructions, or make any threatening moves, and you will be knocked unconscious, before being thrown through the portal, where you will be at the mercy of your fellow inmates. I'm sure they won't kill you, but I'm also sure the experience won't be pleasant. Some of them haven't had any...human contact in a while."

The judge pauses, looking up to take in all the prisoners and see if they seem to have understood. Most of them, it would seem, have. No one looks like they are getting any funny ideas, which is not surprising. With the amount of guards in the room that would be almost certain suicide. At least Krakengard seems to offer some sort of chance at life. Some sort of life.



Then the roll call begins. "Dimitri Abandonato." A gray haired, short, male elf steps forward and takes his place on the line. "Extortion. Assault. Theft. Conspiracy. My, my, quite a list. No wonder your elven brethren were so keen to get rid of you that they sent you here."

"Amaranthe Eventhyme." An attractive woman in her mid twenties, with burgundy hair that looks like it has suffered from the time in prison is the next to take her place. "Assault of a noble. You really should have known your place."

"Raphael Kaerwick." This time it is a tall human, shape of nose and length of hair hinting at nobility, though the crimes speak a different tone: "Fraud. Impersonation. Obstruction of Justice. Forgery. Feigning a crime, resulting in the incarceration of an innocent. Apparently someone got tired of writing and stopped the list at this point..."

"Lumlush Lushlum." The spokesman continues, this time with a note of disgust as a filthy goblin steps forward. "Theft. And surely many more crimes you little rat weren't caught for."

"Gloin Hammerstadt." A stout dwarf steps forward, some sort of mark on his face that can't quite be made out. Something seems off about him, but no one can really figure out what it is at the moment. "Desertion of the king's troops. Pitiful coward, you are getting better than you deserve."

"Isilon Jacka, twenty seven counts of public indecency." The judge shakes his head as the man steps forward.

"Torum Trask." A half-orc this time, with two very prominent teeth sticking out from his face. "Murder. And sedition. Plus assault. Vigilantism, you don't say? Heresy and disturbance of the peace, well you sure were thorough covering your bases. Oh and what have we here? Disgusting, an unlawful sex act. But I suppose we shouldn't be surprised from a beast such as yourself. Those animal instincts must be so hard to control. I'm sure Krakengard is just the place for you..."

"Lan Bierstadt, step forward." A fair skinned human, almost too normal compared to the colorful crowd assembled here. "Second degree murder, really? Impressive."

"Ethane Bryson." A man, older than most here by at least a decade or two steps forward, a stubborn expression on his face. Silver streaks have begun creeping into his hair, but he holds himself with an unusual composure. The judge hesitates, then, instead of reading on, says: "You may have fallen from grace but for what you did in the past you deserve the chance to start fresh without your crimes being known. Make of this chance what you wish."

"And finally Manus Lochlain." A large, pot-bellied and brutish human. "Poaching and attacking a member of the royal family. Oh my, I'm not sure I've ever seen such a...colorful assortment of crimes among one group of sentenced prisoners..."



One by one, all prisoners step forward, unless someone does something serious enough to interrupt the proceedings and force the guards to deal with him or her. Once a line has been formed, uncomfortably close to the vortex that is the magical portal, guards with the keys to everyone's shackles begin to likewise line up, preparing to release everyone at once.

"One more thing." The judge says, walking up to Ethane Bryson. "I need someone to deliver this to Imalon, the leader of the Fire Mages. I'm sure they will more than compensate you for the effort. I recommend you don't break the seal." With that, he stuffs some sort of scroll into the man's pocket and steps back, about to give the order to release the prisoners from their shackles. All guards stand at the ready, in case anyone gets any silly ideas. This is it, the moment they are to step through that portal into a hellish prison where they are going to spend the rest of their lives, mining ore for the king...



OoCAnd we're off. To start with, your characters are all still have their arms shackled behind their back, though you are about to be released. Feel free to include any thoughts and impressions or experiences your character had leading up to the arrival, as well as their behavior when their names are called (as well as anything the others might notice upon looking at them). Please also give an indication of what your character intends to do once the shackles are off...

Last edited by Inem; 02-04-2016 at 02:20 PM. Reason: Completed and made public
  #2  
Old 02-04-2016, 04:04 PM
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Lumlush Lushlum

Lum's butt was itching. Truly and profoundly itching. Like the itching you would get if sand had found its way under your clothes and had somehow nestled itself against those mosquito bites you had been trying all day not to think off. That kind of itching.

Normally an itching butt would be the least of the goblin's worries - he'd just scratch and sniff and then continue on with whatever held his particular fancy at that particular moment. But Normally had found itself hogtied, pummeled into submission and thrown into a corner to die a slow and agonizing death all alone and forgotten. Instead, Normally was replaced by it's twisted and slightly perverted distant cousin, Bizarre, and Bizarre was having a field day much to Lum's chargrin.

Lumlush had originally been enjoying himself, watching humans do some silly human stuff, gathering food for his dinner and pondering the deeper meanings of life and whatnot, when some self-righteous cart owner had grabbed Lum by the scruff of his neck and began accusing him of theft. Theft! As if the man somehow owned fruit that had fallen from a tree down on the ground! If anyone was the thief, it was the cart owner, stealing a poor tree's hard won labor and carting it off to be sold to complete strangers by the roadside. Lum had tried explaining as much, but for some reason no one had bothered listening, and so Lum had been forced to suffer incarceration for another man's crimes. But that was life. Cruel and unfair. And the more Lum thought about it, the more the goblin wondered whether Normally had even been there in the first place.

Lumlush shifted his weight from one foot to the other in an effort to rub his nether cheeks together and find some form of relief, but little did it help. He glanced at the guard behind him out of the corner of his eye and contemplated backing into him for a bit of furious butt-rubbing, but then decided against it, when he saw that the man had noticed his stare and had begun gripping his weapon tighter.

So instead, Lumlush had to resign himself to listening to a long human with a long hat ramble on for a long time, with a set of buttocks screaming for the fiercest of scratchings. In fact, as strange people on either side of Lum started stepping forward at the mentioning of their name, Lumlush couldn't help but consider how little one actually thought about one's butt, until it suddenly began demanding attention.

Butt. Lumlush snickered. Then he realized Longman McLonghat had just called out his name, and took a few short hopping steps forward to place himself next to the new line being formed. Then he snickered again and bobbed his ugly head up and down in acknowledgment of his crime as it was listed up.

His interest with Maester Longhat quickly diminished, Lumlush instead turned his small beady eyes towards the swirling mass of color that floated in midair. Whatever this vortexy place was, and whatever lay behind it, it could only be an improvement from Lumlush' last few days. Those had been true hell. Locked up in a small room, with nothing to do was about the closest thing to torture Lum could imagine. He'd been running around in circles less than an hour after being thrown in and trying to bite through the iron bars before half a day had passed. Even now the goblin still had a bit of chalk and mortar stuck under his long nails from his latest attempt at digging through the cell wall. Incarceration and goblins were two things that did not sit well with one another.

No, this portal was a way for Lumlush to escape his chains, and the goblin would jump at the chance. Or scratch and jump. Or jump, then scratch? Whatever the case, scratching would take place, and plenty of it, before Lum lost his mind and started hunkering down and scooting across the floor like some mangy dog with a infestation of worms.

Oh yes, scratching would definitely take place.
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Last edited by Thorsten; 02-04-2016 at 05:04 PM.
  #3  
Old 02-04-2016, 04:44 PM
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Introducing Manus Lochlain

Manus LochLain
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Manus LochLain

At the back of the group, the bedraggled redheaded man named Manus Lochlain looked at the judge with unveiled contempt. His shirt had been stripped from him, although his chest was so hairy it was difficult to tell. But despite the thick layer of hair and over-sized belly, you could tell that underneath all that was a powerful frame.

Manus' ham-like hands clenched and unclenched as the judge spoke, as if he was actively trying to prevent himself from leaping at the judge. His head turned slightly to his left, where a quick look at the armed guards next to him made it clear that would be of little help if he were to do so. He also knew that the judge was a simple puppet of the fool who had put him here and couldn't see the benefit of disposing of a puppet. He knew who the real enemy was and looked forward to meeting him again.

He listened only halfway to the crimes committed by the other prisoners, honestly not caring if any of them were legitimate. He was growing tired of this place and knew the faster he got to Krakengard the faster he'd be able to get back.

Pushing his way through the crowd, the burly man walks up to the gate, turning one last time towards the judge. "I needs ye te give a message to te jocky jabber ye call a nobleman, the one what kilt mae dog. Tell the twally that Manus LochLain will be back. And when I comes back, he'll find that it'll be harder fer 'im te swallae after I rip out 'is mingin neck." he growls through his corn-cobbed teeth.

He arrives pushes his way towards the gate just in time to see a goblin step through by scratching his backside, the somewhat comedic sight bringing a thought to mind. His growl changes to a wry grin as he turns his backside towards the judge and lets loose his final act of defiance in the form of a moist, loud stream of flatulence. Just as the pungent fecal scent fills the air, Manus steps through the gate after the goblin, muttering a prayer to Danu to send a slight western breeze and blow the eye-watering effects of his parting gift towards the judge.


 


Last edited by Squeak; 02-04-2016 at 05:00 PM.
  #4  
Old 02-05-2016, 03:58 AM
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Lan
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As Lan curled up in his cell, shackled tightly and secured to the large ring set into the stone wall, his anxiety and shifted to something more akin to a nervous boredom. He had sat in this gods-forsaken cell for days. Days! He knew that his damnation lay in wait for him, but the waiting was killing him. The young man just wanted it done and over with. He huffed in frustration and wished he could pace, but the restraints on his ankles prevented him from doing so. The scars around his wrists from his initial incarceration were now covered in bruises from his new manacles, which the wardens had callously secured too tightly. His hands were numb, half from the cold, half from the circulation being cut off to his extremities.

The thud of armored boots echoed down the hallway, breaking Lan out of his agitated anticipation. He scooted across the floor of his small cell to the bars and peered out as best as he could. As the footsteps neared, he saw the small procession of guards approach his cell. A couple of prisoners were in the center of the escort, their leg shackles removed, but their arms still pinned behind their backs. The one in the front was a short creature, with green skin and a large head. Lan had seen goblins before, but they weren't a common occurrence in his hometown. The little prisoner looked uncomfortable, and seemed to be trying to scratch himself. The guard behind him growled and aimed a kick at the hapless goblin. With a yelp, the green inmate jumped to the side and picked up his pace, growling something in a language Lan didn't understand. "I'm going, I'm going, "stupid human"tokhel molkac." he added, and subsided into grumbling as they halted in front of Lan's cell.

He felt a flutter in his stomach as he locked eyes with the prisoner behind the goblin. Amaranthe. The knots his intestines were trying to tie themselves in clenched as the gate squealed open, and the lead guard marched in. "C'mon, boy-o, on yer feet." He reached down and unlocked the shackles on Lan's ankles and hauled him unceremoniously up. Lan staggered as he put weight on his stiff legs and winced as the numbness in his feet turned to a prickling agony. He walked unsteadily to the door behind the guard, and then into the back of the shackled caravan.

The prisoners resumed their steady march down the damp corridor and the feeling in Lan's feet soon returned. It was oppressively dark, the only light sources being the torches held by the front and rear escorts. The light danced menacingly off the stone walls, flickering and distorting the objects that it landed on. Lan shuddered, attempting to huddle himself against the frigid air, to no avail. He longed to talk to Amaranthe, the only person here he knew, the only friendly face, but he knew better; the guards would probably be just about as gentle with him as they were with the goblin. Lan didn't like the idea of getting a boot in the rear or wherever the guard decided to aim his kick. If it was a kick... The guard behind him was holding a torch after all.

The corridor suddenly turned and opened out into a large chamber with an archway of rough masonry looming at the far side, a sinister swirling vortex held within it's stony embrace. Lan's heart skipped a beat or three as he saw what was undoubtedly the portal to Krakengard. His wait was almost over, and here was the doorway to Hell. He began breathing heavily, his heart now racing and trying to escape from his rib cage. He struggled to control his terror, biting down hard on the inside of his cheek. The irony taste of blood trickled onto his tongue.

Amaranthe looked back and tried to give him a comforting smile as they were bullied into line with several other prisoners already waiting in the chamber. Lan attempted to return the sentiment but the smile he tried to form was more of a grimace.

"Good, good. Let's get this under way then, shall we?" Lan turned his attention to the figure in rich green robes. He walked forward and began reading from a scroll their collective sentence. The judge then proceeded to give them instruction on the proper protocol for roll call. As he began reading each prisoner's name and crime, Lan's insides began twisting. He tried to avoid thinking about the sins that led him to this hellhole. But this man was going to throw it in his face.

Lan Bierstadt, step forward. Lan's breath caught and he shuffled forward. Second degree murder, really? Impressive. At the green-garbed man's mocking comment, Lan turned away, tasting bile in the back of his throat, mixing with the trickle of blood from his bitten cheek. He avoided looking at the other prisoners, and took several steadying breaths.

The judge read the last name, "Manus LochLain," and his crimes, and then rolled up his scroll. Smirking with grim amusement, he said, "Oh my, I'm not sure I've ever seen such a...colorful assortment of crimes among one group of sentenced prisoners..."

Lan turned his gaze to the portal again. Soon, he'd step through and see Krakengard for himself. He clenched his hands into fists and straightened his back. If nothing else, he could face this with his head held high. He braced himself and waited for the guards to unshackle his wrists.

 

Last edited by SonofSamWich; 02-07-2016 at 08:19 PM. Reason: I had picture envy. My picture wasn't big enough... Don't judge me.
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Old 02-05-2016, 08:32 PM
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Three days. Three days in the dark and the damp. He'd never minded either, having lived in what was basically a shadowed swamp for years. This was different, though. Here you were alone. You had only the bugs for company and the distant, echoing cries of anger and grief to lull you to sleep. He'd slept some, but not enough. By the time they came for him he'd counted the cracks on his cell walls three times. 57 cracks. Always 57.

He was first called, and he stepped up to create the line the others would join. He'd heard the charges before, but they felt even filthier out of a human's mouth. He turned his eyes to the portal as the judge spoke, setting his jaw against the sting in his pride. The charges were legitimate, mostly, but he still hated hearing them out loud. It was the price he'd have to pay, though. He called in a lot of favors to be here, to be out of his brother's reach and that portal was as out of reach as you could get. That, and most of his arrests went through the elven system of justice so they wouldn't be there to put a knife in his back. None that that meant he had to be happy about it all, though.

He gave the others around him a casual appraisal. Two stood out immediately, and not simply because they were decidedly not human. Goblins and orc-blooded were no mystery to him. Palaiis had no precedent against greenskins and they found employment around The Base with some frequency. Goblins made excellent refuse collectors, moving about discretely and not complaining about the smell being the chief qualifications. They were common enough that nobody really gave them a second look. which also made them excellent informants. It wasn't surprising that the charges declared him a thief. Dimitri suspected there was value to be found there.

The half-breed also seemed appropriate. Scuffed up and burly, perfect for guarding doors and breaking kneecaps. Most orc-bloods were criminal flunkies back in Palaiis. They worked cheap and hit hard, which is all they were asked to do. There were a few exceptions, like the grifter he rousted out of Old Home a half dozen years back. That one could talk in a way that made your ears weep. It was the occasional crafty one that you really had to watch out for. All that brawn with a brain behind it? Dangerous. As for the one in front of him now, his judgment said 'thug' until the charges were read. One thing didn't fit the rest and Dimitri rolled the word around in his head for a long moment. Vigilantism. Now that had to be an interesting story.

There were humans. So many, as there always was. Seemed like you couldn't walk a mile anymore without a half dozen stinking up your trip. They didn't need names. Dimitri had already assigned them appropriate titles. There was the Quiet One, the Woman, the Dandy, the Oaf. There were others, but he'd tired of the game before reaching them. The Oaf was a poacher, which seemed like a perfect fit, but the Quiet One being a murderer was a twist he hadn't seen coming. Accidental murder, but murder just the same. The kid didn't look like he had it in him, but Dimitri had seen people break under pressure before. With enough incentive, anyone is capable of anything. That's what got him here, after all. One step too far.

He needed a drink. Something heavy on alcohol and light on flavor. Maybe a dose of Qualo stirred in for good measure. It was probably going to be a long wait for that. He flexed his hands, curling his fingers into fists and then releasing them again. Nervous energy burned through him. The moment they went through that portal it was anything goes. He didn't see a reason for the group to turn on itself but he'd been surprised by criminals before. And that didn't even account for anyone that might be waiting on the other side. A slow breath in and he rolled his weight from his toes to his heels, rocking slowly. It was almost time to make a new life.
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  #6  
Old 02-06-2016, 03:23 AM
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Names. Get on with it, with the damned names.

He is worse for wear. He will admit it openly, but he doesn't have to. The Half-Orc looks it. The open wound on his forehead glistens, more from light reflecting on the bloodstained near-scab on his head than from any light reflecting on him. A little due diligence from a guard he fraternized with that went sour. Well, the fraternization was one-way in its entirety, but Torum Trask never could be accused of not trying. The man speaks up, going over the normal regulation and pomp and circumstance associated with that kind of thing. He's sick of it. He has been for a month now. If the others are anything like him—and on one basic level, they clearly are—then they've had their own encounter with heated bureaucracy of late.

Heated like a glacier, at any rate.

The last few days since he left his only home had been, well, honestly, boring. Dreadful wasn't much of a change, really. Prison was prison, no matter how mobile the cell. But the last half-week of traveling had just been boring. During a good scrap with the guards back home, he had least got creative with how to deal with them. A bite here, a headbutt there. A wonder he made it this far. A wonder he hadn't committed suicide by sadsack. But not for lack of trying, and almost as much so here. Thus the fresh wound: a headbutt. The bruises on his rough arm shows the reality of that. He is not a model prisoner, by any means, and anyone can see that.

And then came the names. Being where they were, he was glad that one name had been left off. That alone of his crimes had haunted him. That he had not had justice, true justice. He might yet, though, if those words had been true. But he pays attention. Life isn't over yet, balance must still be maintained. Govrin lives in him yet. There is Dimitri (odd crimes for an Elf), Amaranthe (awful purdy, and sassy to boot), Raphael (too brainy, but deserving), Lumlush (why does it look so absent-minded? Oh gods, what trouble they're in for....), Gloin (probably a good drinking buddy), Isilon (oh Hells yes), and finally, himself. He grins, toothily, throughout everything said. Until the beast comment. Keeping his face squarely at a grin, he stares at the man reading. They had called the Goblin a rat, and Torum had accepted it. But calling him a beast? For some odd reason, this hurt him. He had been called that many times. He knew the ins and outs of the many insults. But now, at the end of bondage? It hurt more now. It stung.

He spat at the man's feet.

His arms behind him, he wants to do more, but what can he do? A punch causes him to grunt and step forward, that grunt turning into a laugh. He might as well comply. More names, and he looks them over as well: Lan (ooh, shiny and cold-blooded), Ethane (mysterious... Torum hates him already), and Manus (quite a tongue on that one. At least Torum has a friend amongst them). A lot of balance is needed here, he can feel it.

Balance like the throbbing in his head, for one thing.

"Well, ain't we just a sorry batch?" Torum doesn't look around. He just accepts what is before them, and starts firm, working his jaw, trying to pop the pain away from his pounding temple.
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Last edited by Sassafrass; 02-06-2016 at 03:24 AM. Reason: What the hell, everyone else had an image...
  #7  
Old 02-08-2016, 03:36 AM
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He had thought himself so clever, tearing open his own boots to hide the pages of delicate paper in between the layers, and then flowing magic through the leather to bind it up seamlessly. He should have suspected that others had tried the trick before; surely that was the reason the guard had known so quickly where to look. He had begged, pleased, and cajoled; he had offered bribes and insulted the man's character. Yet nothing he tried could get Cecelia's letter returned to him.

Now, standing in line with the others like some common criminal, the smooth-talking nobleman was an odd sight, with his boots torn open and flopping around his ankles. He'd used magic to keep his fine clothing is as good of a condition as he dared without arousing suspicion, but there was little he could have done for his mangled footwear that would not have immediately betrayed him. Staring ahead as his name was called, he imagined how satisfying it would be to wipe the smugness off the lead guard's face by wrapping the chain of his shackles around the man's neck. Satisfying, but impractical. He'd accomplish nothing but drawing the guards' wrath, and that would leave him less prepared to face the tribulations ahead. Instead, he holds his head high, as do many of the other prisoners. Prideful men, most of them. That was good. That was useful.

When his name is called, he steps forward and meets the impatient herald's gaze with a sneer of his own. "You cowards may have the strength now, to subjugate us and humiliate us, but mark my words; this is not the last you'll see of this Kaerwick. And when we return, we will bring this mockery masquerading as justice crumbling to dust!" When he spoke in the plural, what he really meant was 'me' and 'I', but it never hurt to establish a sense of common bond with the men, woman, and.. others... whom one was about to be spending a great deal of time in a very dangerous place. It seemed he was not alone in his determination, by the words of the last man called- at least those that were intelligible.

And then, because what did it matter at this point? he decided to show off a little, and let the smug bastards know he'd gotten one thing past them. He bent down and ran his fingers over the shorn layers. With a word and a manipulation of the fine energies of magic, the boots melded together again as they had once before. He straightened, and gave his tunic a light brush with the back of one hand. If he was to step through that portal, he would do it in a princely manner, not like a beggar tripping over his own feet.
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Old 02-09-2016, 05:12 PM
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"Well, it's been nice knowing all of you." The green-robed spokesman for the judges says. "Very kind of you not to cause any unnecessary trouble." Apparently the man does not consider Raphael's or Manus' threats worth commenting on. He probably hears something similar from every group he sends through. "We got through this much quicker than I was hoping. Now, enjoy your stay on the other side, and don't go dying too quickly, yes? It wouldn't do at all for you to just go and waste your perfectly good bodies before they've contributed some ore to the kingdom. Now, guards, please release the shackles. Prisoners, once the shackles have been released, step forward and don't do anything stupid."

All around, the group of prisoners can feel their shackles being grabbed by the guards and keys being inserted. There is also a mutter of words, barely loud enough to hear. "Didn't things go too quickly today? I'm not even sure the sun has fully risen yet. Shouldn't we-" - "Shhhh. Shut up, do you want to get us thrown in as well?" And with those ominous words, ten locks click and ten pairs of hands are freed from the shackles that were binding them. Most prisoners do as they are told and step forward, heads held high, into their new lives, or to their deaths, only time will tell. Some, like Manus, have some sort of choice insult or parting present to leave their captors with. Others, like Lumlush, are just glad to have their hands free again and make liberal use of this. Raphael taunts his guards by showing them what they missed...which leads to several spears raised in his direction in case he gets any fancy ideas. He can't see the looks on the men's faces without looking back, and he isn't willing to give them that satisfaction, so he too steps forward, head held high.

There is at least one among the prisoners, however, who is not as brave as the rest. "No, you can't make me go to that place! No! No! No!" Gloin yells, spinning around to face his captors, a look of desperation in his eyes as he searches for some way to escape. He needn't have bothered. Within instants of having turned around, the butts of at least three spears have hit him in the face, leaving him bleeding and barely conscious. He lets out a groan and mumbles something in what is probably dwarven, but the thunk of several pairs of boots stepping forward drowns him out. A handful of guards have stepped forward to grab the man while he is still gathering his senses, with other guards stepping up with raised spears to cover their comrades from any other prisoners who might get fancy ideas. The whole ordeal takes about ten seconds, and then the guards have hurled Gloin through the swirling barrier up ahead.

Perhaps others had thoughts of fleeing as well, but the display of efficiency suffocates any such thoughts before they can mature into action, and everyone steps forward as they were told.

The trip through the portal is...unique. The moment anyone steps through the portal, they find themselves unable to breath and all the air sucked from their lungs. The lack of oxygen causes everyone to gasp and try to fill their throats with a fresh breath, but there is nothing there to inhale. All in all, the experience is highly unpleasant, but nothing compared to the things that still await the new inhabitants of the colony on the other side...

~~~


Desolate wastelands. A volcano spewing fire. A storm of ice...and hail...and sand hitting the prisoners in the face. Tall menacing guards in black armor, wearing faceless masks, brandishing weapons that clearly double in use as elaborate torture devices.
After all the horror stories that people have heard about Krakengard, that is the minimum the prisoners expect as they step into their new homes. Instead, as they step forth from the portal, the newest prisoners find themselves stepping on to green grass. It is a little sparse, but that is most likely due to the fact that they seem to be on some sort of mountain. The sky is blue, albeit a dark blue with a grayish tinge. Somewhere, the sun seems to have begun rising, but it isn't really breaking through yet. Off to one side, the plateau everyone finds themselves on drops off steeply, which would likely offer an impressive view, if it weren't for the thick mist that hangs in the air, blocking vision downwards beyond ten feet. A small wooden fence has been put up, about hip high for humans, likely to keep anyone from accidentally stumbling down the clips.

On the opposite side, a jagged mountain face rises up as far as can be seen from this angle. This likely insurmountable obstacle reaches around and also blocks off the direction behind the portal. Twenty feet from this stone wall stands the stone archway the group just emerged through. It is identical in size and looks to the one on the other side, down to the swirling vortex that inhabits it. At the same time, there is a big difference: Where back at the Gatehouse the portal's surface was smooth and calm, a thin film of blue and white cackling energy seems to hover less than an inch from the spiralling turbulence within the archway. Every so often, a bolt of energy runs menacingly across the surface, from one side to the other at a seemingly random angle, before dissipating.

Those who went through the portal before Gloin made his poorly thought through attempt at escape find the figure of the dwarf hurled out of the portal and land two feet in front of it, in the grass. Those who went afterwards, simply find him laying there, unmoving, but clearly still breathing. He is conscious, but the trip through the archways clearly did not improve his condition.

Once Lan is through, he quickly finds himself face to face with Amaranthe, who steps up and grabs his hand, giving it a reasuring squeeze while smiling at him. The moment doesn't last, however, as things start falling into place. Perhaps the most glaring omission from the list of things the prisoners expected to see once on the other side are guards. Those new inhabitants of the colony who are slightly more familiar with this place's lore quickly figure out why: It's not yet entirely light outside. And in this place, that is bad. Really bad. A groan can be heard up ahead, quickly building into a roar. It is a sound not unlike that of rocks grinding together as they fall down a mountain slope in an avalanche...low and rumbling. Then the beast comes into view.

A behemoth steps forth from the mist up ahead, only fifty feet or so from the group. Its body, made entirely of rock, towers at least ten or fifteen feet high, and looks just as jagged and rough as the wall face off to the right. Its eyes glow light blue from within its skull, and large horns made of rock protrude out and downwards from the creature's forehead. It moves on all fours, powering itself forward on massive limbs as thick as tree trunks. And from the way it is staring in their direction, the beast has most definitely spotted the new arrivals. Perhaps it was even out there in the mist, waiting for them?
In the end, it really doesn't matter, because anyone in the group who has any experience in the wilderness instantly recognizes the look on its face. There is only one time in nature when this expression can be found: On a predator's face, as it looks at prey, ready to pounce and devour. There is no doubt in the creature's mind. The new arrivals in its hunting ground are not opponents, they are toys. Judging by the thing's size, it would probably be right even if the entire group weren't entirely unarmed and wearing rags for clothing...

"You stupid beast, it's only because of you lot that I'm even here!" Isilon calls out, charging forward. Charging right at the behemoth up ahead. Displaying exactly the lack of judgment or self-control that likely earned him his sentence...and is likely to get him killed now.
"Fool." Ethane curses. The only man whose crimes were not read out loud looks around for anything to arm himself with. In the end, the best he can do is pick up a stick...part of a branch that fell from a nearby tree. Truly a pitiful weapon and only a fool would think of going up against a demon such as the creature ahead armed with nothing else. Yet a fool Ethane apparently is, because he rushes off, trying to catch up to Isilon, who has nearly closed the distance to the rock creature, which lets out another rumbling roar in anticipation. The beast's growl makes the earth shake beneath the prisoners. It isn't much, but it is enough to notice.
"Stay back. Buy yourselves some time. The sun's almost up!" These words are all the older man can get out before he is out of earshot.


OoCAlright, welcome to Krakengard! Anyone actually planning on joining combat, please roll initiative with your next post. If you are doing something else instead, you don't need to.

Also, the trip through the portal is a unique experience for everyone. Besides the lack of breath thing, it is entirely up to you what your character sees, hears, etc. along the way. The same goes for how long they perceive the trip to be, it is unique and shaped by their past and their expectations. While everyone takes the same time to get through, to some this time feels like ten seconds, to others it will feel like minutes. Feel free to get creative...
  #9  
Old 02-10-2016, 04:50 AM
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LanGloin's actions definitely reflected his crime, Lan thought to himself as he saw the dwarf attempt to flee, and in turn, knocked senseless by the guards. The young man saw the folly in the dwarf's actions, but still couldn't help wanting to flee himself. He turned his attention back to the swirling vortex before him. The maelstrom of energy was hypnotic; almost soothing in its smooth, perpetual motion; melding into orchids and azures, fading into shades of lilac and thistle and periwinkle and celeste. Lan took a breath, inhaling through his nose, out through his mouth, and looked away from the archway.

Lan massaged his wrists absently. If everything else had gone to hell, at least he wasn't shackled anymore. There was a silver lining to everything, even if that silver was usually tarnished and smudged. He looked down at his hands, his aching wrists ringed in splotchy bruises, a mix of midnight or navy blue and a byzantium purple, and encompassed with an angry pinkish-red. They covered the fresh scars underneath. The young man sorely hoped that this was the last time he would be manacled.

Squaring his shoulders, Lan met eyes with Amaranthe, nodded, and then strode forward, hoping his knees didn't give out. He was directly behind Kaerwick, and tried to emulate his confident step. The portal swallowed Raphael, the energy inside the portal still churning implacably. Lan's heartbeat sped up again for what seemed like the thousandth time in so many hours as he moved up adjacent to the gate. He saw the end in this doorway, and he also saw eternity. He put a hand up to the glowing entrance to Krakengard and it sunk in, pulling Lan in after it slowly but steadily. He took his final step over the threshhold and--

Lan's lungs collapsed in his chest. The energy crackled and swirled around him, compressing his body and suffocating him dispassionately. He tried to struggle, but his limbs felt heavier than lead, and were unresponsive. All he could do was stand there, terrified, riveted, rooted to the spot he stood.

The blues and violets of the portal coalesced slowly into a vision. A vision of what was, or what was, or what could be, or what might've been.



Lan sat on the floor, his mother cradled in his arms, her neck at an impossible angle. His father Kord loomed over him, his imposing form filling Lan's vision. A seething hatred boiled in Lan's chest and tears blurred his sight as he glared up at the drunken hulk swaying above him. "You killed her! You killed her!" Lan launched himself at the man twice his size, a fury-born strength coursing through his limbs. He had a knife in his hands, and he wasn't sure where it had come from, but he was intent on plunging it into the murderer that had taken his mother's life.

Kord was taken aback by Lan's vehemence, but only briefly. He pulled back for a punch, his large hand balling into a fist the size of Lan's head, but he was too slow. Lan plunged the blade into the giant's shoulder, severing muscles and causing the drunk to bellow in pain. Lan drew the knife out, twisting it savagely and aimed a kick at the off-balanced man, sending him stumbling backwards. Pressing his advantage, the frenzied man pounced again and drove the knife into the other shoulder, down into the muscle and scraping the bone. He pulled out the knife and drove it into Kord a third time, this time into his chest, snapping it through ribs and puncturing the man's lung. Kord swung sluggishly, trying to fight off his smaller foe, but to no avail. Lan ducked and plunged the knife into Kord's abdomen, and then shoved the murderer to the ground.

Lan was over the downed man in a flash, stabbing the man over and over and over again. He kept stabbing long after Kord had stopped struggling; long after he had stopped breathing. He didn't stop until he collapsed on top of the mutilated corpse, panting and crying and retching.


The blues and violets of the portal consolidated again into another vision.


Lan sat on the floor, his mother cradled in his arms, her neck at an impossible angle. Kord loomed over him, his imposing form filling Lan's vision. Sick fear and agonizing loss constricted the young man's heart, making it hard to breathe, almost as if his neck was as broken as his mother's. He clutched her still-warm corpse to his body, and sobbed.

Kord bent down and wrapped his fingers around throat and lifted him easily, crushing Lan's windpipe almost casually with one hand. "Y'know, boy, you're not really m'son." His slurred words ran together as he muttered, the soft voice laced heavily with disgust. "That bitch... m'wife was a slut y'see... you don't even look like me." He raised a bottle to his mouth and drank deeply, finishing off the liquor and dropping the empty bottle. It clattered on the wooden floor as he brought his now empty hand to apply more pressure on Lan's neck. "Well 's'bout time I offed 'er... an' now I'm gonna off you too, bastard."

Lan could hear a sickening cracking noise as Kord's hands tightened, crumpling the smaller man's neck like a ruined canvas. Then a sudden snap, and Lan's body went numb and Kord dropped him to the floor. Lan couldn't move, couldn't breathe. Darkness crept in from the edges of his vision and then engulfed everything.


The blues and violets of the portal fused once more into another vision.


Sanity for Lan was always like a threadbare blanket: thin, ragged, and prone to unraveling at any moment. His parents kept him locked up for his own safety as much as others. Tormented by his own personal demons, he huddled in the corner of his dark room most days, eating little, and talking even less, save for pained muttering. The only thing that quieted his demons was his art. He would paint serene meadows, tranquil forests, pristine lakes, and other similar landscapes. Places, things that made him feel safe. It helped. But today was different.

Today, they were gone. GONE! All gone, damn it! Lan let out a scream more akin to a wounded animal than that of a human. His paints, his canvases and brushes, all gone. How could he stave off the demons now?
How, how, how, how, how, how, how, how, how, HOW, HOW, HOW, HOW?! He flipped the mattress of his still-warm bed over in his panic, having just crawled out of it to see his only defense from his own hell gone. He let out another bestial scream, followed by a choked sob. He heard his door open behind him, and turned to see his mother. "Lan, what's... wrong...?" Weak, frail woman. Stupid sow. No! That was them. Not me, not me.

"My paints, mother. They're go-" He cut off, another sob tightening his throat. He couldn't say it aloud.

She looked uncomfortably at the ground. "We'll get you more, Lan, just c-calm down, please..."

"But where?! Where are they?" Lan rasped.

"I d-don't know, hon'..." Lan saw the lie in her down-turned eyes. She took them. She took his shield from the demons.

"WHY?! You liar, you stole them, WHY?!"

Caught in her lie, she stammered, "The things you were painting were getting worse and w-worse! I couldn't let you keep painting such awful things, I-"

He couldn't hear her anymore. The murmuring voices in his ears were loud. Too loud.
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill-

Lan knelt, trembling in the kitchen. Why was he here...? He almost never left his room...
He saw the crimson staining his hands. It was sticky, still wet and warm. The scent of iron filled his nostrils. He looked up at canvas stretched in front of him. It was smeared with still-drying paint... crimson paint. Then something occurred to him. He couldn't hear the demons. For the first time in years, it was quiet. Blissfully, beautifully quiet. He stood shakily, and studied the portrait in front of him, still in a peaceful daze. It was a set of eyes, looking hauntingly out at Lan, painted in scarlets and crimsons and pale reds.
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Beautfiul, isn't it? Lan's blood felt like ice in his veins. He spun to see a figure of shifting shadow crouched behind him, huddled over two piles of what looked like ground meat, mulched beyond recognition. You're a truly talented artist, Lan.

"Who-" Lan swallowed hard. "Who are you? What are you?"

I'm your new best friend. My name is- his voice distorted, snarling consonants in rapid succession in a language Lan couldn't understand. But you can call me Azyxl. Fangs gleamed out of the darkness of its form in an unsettling grin. I hope you don't mind me snacking on your father here. I couldn't help myself... I was so hungry.

Lan's eyes snapped wide as the haze around his mind cleared, making way for disgust and terror. He curled over and released the contents of his stomach. Chunks of meat and blood mixed with bile spattered in front of him. "Wh-what did you do, you beast? Monster?!"

Azyxl shifted and chuckled, You flatter me, Lan, but I can't take credit for your handywork.

"No, no, no... you have to be lying!"

Affecting a wounded tone, Azyxl whined, I'm no liar. Anyway... His tone changed, smooth and sinister. I can prove it was you... why do you think the voices are gone?



Lan stumbled forward an collapsed, shaking violently and regurgitated what little was in his stomach. Mostly bile and a small amount of prison slop. That didn't stop his body from aggressively expelling it, and convulsing with each heave. After a couple of minutes of this, he tried desperately to regain his composure. His trip through the portal had uncovered fresh wounds, and brought to light outcomes that he had dreaded; outcomes he was lucky hadn't come to pass. The portal had shown him infinite visions of lives he could have lived. Nightmares, dreams, and everything in between.

The young human struggled shakily to his feet, and looked up to see a concerned Amaranthe. He took the hand she offered, returning the reassuring pressure, and attempting to smile back at her. Once again, it came out as more of a grimace. "I'm fine", he panted, looking around. The relatively ordinary scenery came as a surprise to Lan. He had been expecting hellish landscapes, erupting volcanoes, frigid lifeless tundras, putrid swamps... anything but this.

And then the low roar filled the air. Lan spun and saw the gargantuan creature lumber out of the mist, and saw the malice in the "eyes" sunken in its skull. That lined up with Lan's expectations, and then exceeded them. The youth pulled Amaranthe behind him, not sure what he was going to do against the beast.

Two of the prisoners charged off. Not away from the beast, but towards it. Showing a sense of either bravado, courage, stupidity, or maybe a combination of the three, they ran forward to meet the foe with naught but sticks and fists. Lan turned to Amaranthe, and hissed, "Find a place to hide." He strode forth and picked up the largest branch near him. "If it comes near us, I'll hold it off, and you run." His voice shook, but he steeled himself and hefted the branch in both hands, swinging the improvised weapon clumsily.

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  #10  
Old 02-10-2016, 06:03 AM
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Lumlush

The joys of having the shackles removed were overshadowed by the joy of finally scratching that itch, and Lumlush sighed contently as he moved forward alongside the others. When he was done, he massaged the sore wrists to get the circulation flowing again. Already, purplish blots were forming along his green skin from where the manacles had dug in a bit too deep and Lumlush wrinkled his nose at the sight and probed the tender areas with his grimy fingers.

When finally the group was urged and prodded forward, Lumlush cautiously approached the swirling mass, waiting until someone else had dared to touch it before reaching forward himself. His hand sank into the gate without resistance and for a moment the goblin made big eyes as he tried to wriggle his fingers on the other side. Then he stepped through.



Lumlush was falling. Or more correctly floating without any control over his descent. It was like the goblin was slowly sinking through air that was somehow thicker than usually, like sinking through water but without the sensation of liquid touching the skin.
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Around him other objects and persons were floating downwards as well, some more rapidly than others. A huge red apple, rotating clockwise as it dropped past him. Clumps of soil and bricks and wood, possibly the remains of some house torn apart by whatever strange form of gravity ruled in this place. A smattering of goblins - some from his tribe, some he had never seen - dropping with their mouths open in wordless screams. The alchemist. The alchemist's old cat. The alchemist's worn hat. All in reverse order of size and volume. And had the cat been winking at him?

The falling seemed to go on forever until finally something changed and the various objects and people began to pick up some form of momentum, starting to rotate sideways in an every decreasing cyclonical spiral. Faster and faster things began moving, until Lumlush felt his skin being stretched out across his bones and his eyes bulging in their sockets. He just had time to see the apple open its maw and stick out its tongue at him, then he finally hit the bottom...



... and plopped into existence on the other side of the gate. Lum drew a deep ragged breath and blinked his eyes rapidly as his feet touched down on the ground outside the portal. Then proceeded to shake his head fervently from side to side as if to shake out the bad memories, even going as far as to knock the heel of his hand against his skull for emphasis. With that done, instincts took over and the goblin immediately began checking out the surroundings, looking for the closest bolthole or place to hide.

Lumlush stuck a finger in his ear and tilted his head to the side as he dug around for a bit with a long nail, then he retrieved his finger, glanced at it and flicked a copious amount of earwax unto the ground. The small goblin was obviously thinking, as was apparent by the way his shrewd eyes narrowed and more than once the goblin eyed the elderly man among them, eyes trying to pierce through the rags to catch a glimpse at the scroll that had been stuffed into the man's clothes by the guards.

Whatever was running through Lumlush head, it was immediately thrown aside as the behemoth appeared, and Lumlush gave a startled yelp - a high-pitched and croaky sound - before he darted forward in an attempt to pick up the same branch Ethane. The elderly man had the longer reach, and Lumlush had to come to a skidding halt to avoid getting tangled between Ethane's legs - a process the goblin only managed through some frantic flailing of his arms in close proximity to the human followed by an unceremonious tumble in the grass to the side.

Lum quickly found his feet again though and threw his head around with increasingly panicking motions, before darting behind the remaining members of the impromptu party and seeking some form of cover there.


 


 
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Old 02-10-2016, 06:52 AM
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Raphael took a bracing breath, and forced himself to proceed. He couldn't help hesitating at the edge of the portal, fingers raised to half an inch from the surface. He felt the magical energy like a build-up of static, but what he felt when he pressed his hand through was biting ice. But there was no turning back. He stepped through-

-and fell forward when no ground materialized beneath his feet! Needles and whips of cutting ice assaulted his skin, causing him to cry out soundlessly as he toppled and spun for what seemed like forever. As his chest squeezes in an invisible vice, he can no longer hold back the raging storm of fear so long held at bay with anger and denial. He was terrified, and he wailed again into the silence of this place that is nowhere-

And then he felt earth beneath his knees, blades of strange stiff grass between his fingers. He drew in a deep breath, wincing at how loud it sounded to his ears. He pushed himself to his feet in time to see the next come through, and the next... Truth be told, he paid only marginal attention to the bodies filling up the clearing in front of the portal; he was more interested in the land around them. But there was precious little time to make much out in the dim light (something he should be remembering about that, wasn't there?) before an unnerving sound began to grow further down, from the only direction off of this peak. The ice reforms around his heart as he realized- they were trapped.

And then to his shock, two of the group charged down to engage the monstrosity! Brave or foolish, they wouldn't last long- not nearly long enough, he feared. And when the beast was done with them? The rest of them would be throwing each other in front of it, and though a stick in his hand would do more damage than in the hands of most, he wasn't so much a fool as to think he could engage the beast. So a distraction was necessary. But how? Most of the spells he knew where of mild use, or not fully developed- he spent a half-second wishing he'd paid more attention to the magical theories of the wizards he'd had his very brief tutelage under, instead of dropping out, content with the simple magics that came naturally to him. But what he didn't know couldn't help him now. What did he have?

His hands started patting down his torso in vain, but there was nothing. The guards had left him with nothing of use. All he had were his clothes; his bright and flashy garments that were sure to draw the demon's attention right to him when it was done with the greeting party. His clothes...

Too many buttons, too many damned buttons! He ripped off his maroon and gold-embroidered vest, sending gold buttons rolling across the floor. Before dropping the cloth to the side, he pulled out the broken thread that had held the fastening in place and wrapped it around his finger. He took a quick step and snapped a thin inch of twig off a nearby tree. Working the sliver of wood into the wrapping of thread, he hoped that whatever entities spun the fates in this forsaken place were in a benevolent mood. Then he gripped the bottom hem of his fine silk shirt and peeled it up and over his head, tossing the bright red garment as high in the air as he could. He snapped his fingers, pointing, and shouted "Servite arbitratu meo!" as the regents in his hand combusted into a red flame before turning to a cloud of dust that shimmered once and then vanished. But he could feel the presence of the spell, and smiled. "Take the shirt and distract the creature." He ordered, and as the cloth floated down it billowed as if caught in a wind, arms fluttering and dancing around.

The downside was the short range- so if he wanted it to do what he had in mind, he had to move closer. It was antithesis to all his survival instincts, but if he was going to have a chance to survive, he had to try to keep the other two alive as long as he could.

 
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  #12  
Old 02-10-2016, 01:02 PM
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Manus A puff of wind fills the air, blowing the noxious cloud towards the nobleman. The stench caught a wandering mosquito, the strength of his flatulence knocking it from the sky, but Manus didn’t notice. He was too focused on the door before him, the first step of a journey.

I’ll be back and will avenge the man that killed my dog. he promised himself as he stepped through the gate, but the intense focus and steely determination of the man of the swamp didn’t last long. Because when he stepped through the portal, all hell broke loose.


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The enchanted portal was began to pull at him him, ripping his body apart through it’s powerful magics. His toes grew further and further apart and running up his leg, the sound of his own tearing flesh and ripping bone filling his ears. His fingers began next, painfully growing like tendrils shooting forth from an oak tree, searching for water. He opened his mouth to scream, but no words came out, for his tongue had changed to a thick maple leaf.

The magic was changing him from a human into a tree, at least, that is what it felt like at first.. But his body continued it’s painful transformation, forcing him to a shape beyond that of a tree. He was a bundle of roots now, gnarled and winding, and he was following a path through the dark earth.

Manus felt his shifted form tear through the soil at breakneck speed, rapidly shifting side by side or up and down. The only thing that prevented the proud Caledonian from spilling the contents of his last mean was the fact that he had no stomach – or throat for that matter.

It seemed like hours - or possibly only a few minutes - of the jarring travel through the system of roots, he saw a spec of light in the distance. The spec became larger and larger as the seconds passed until he realized that he was no longer in the root system, he was instead falling towards the light. And everything exploded in a flash of stars.

It took a few moments for Manus to gather himself as he landed, the feeling of soft grass beneath his feet helping to bring him back to his senses. His body had become whole once again and he breathed deep of the air around him. He spoke aloud as he slowly began to regroup, a wave of relief flooding through him when he realized his vocal cords had returned.

"Well nae, that was a right queer trip, wasnae?" the words carrying softly through the mist.




His wits fully returned, Manus scans his surroundings, his keen eyes absorbing what he sees. It is not what he was expecting.

Where he had expected desolate wasteland, he instead saw grass, trees and mountains. While it was far from the beauty of his glen, it was far better than he expected. At least until he saw IT.

He wasn't sure what to call it. A horny stone beast, unnatural by any stretch of the imagination, was bearing down on them. He saw the primal hunger on the beast's face, the look of a beast on the hunt. He knew that they were it's prey - and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

One of the foolish men charged the foolish beast, while another grabbed a tree branch, as if that was going to be effective against this monstrosity. A third stood protectively above them, telling them to run. Another cast a minor spell at the beast, for some reason sending a floating scarf. The goblin had tried to hide himself from the beast, wondering how effective hiding would be against a creature with a powerful sense of smell, he did not know.

And then the druid's eyes settled on the cowardly dwarf lying face down on the ground. He was helpless and would assuredly die at the hands of the rampaging beast. And while Manus could care less whether the cowardly dwarf lived or died, Manus saw in him an opportunity to help save his own life.

Racing forward, the powerful Scotsman lifted the dwarf up by his arms and tossed him over his shoulder. His firm grip in place, he moved as fast as he could, hoping the foolish men confronting the beast would slow it down long enough for him to be far away from the beast. And if they did not, he knew he could at least distract the beast for a precious few moments.

All he would need to do was toss down the injured dwarf, thinking that the hungry beast would love the taste of Gloin's loins.

 

 

Last edited by Squeak; 02-10-2016 at 01:08 PM.
  #13  
Old 02-10-2016, 02:33 PM
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A Good Day to Die?He stepped towards the portal, but then his feet changed their mind and he's caught mid-stride with no impetus to move forward. Someone shoved him, guard or prisoner he can't be sure, and that was enough to move him through. It was cold at first, like the ice baths he uses to sober up, then hot like fire. All the while his lungs screamed for air, a feeble and empty demand. He was weightless, formless in the void. And then, just like that, he was whole again.

There is crying from behind the door. Deep, fearful sobs followed by gasping breaths. He grabs the handle, twists against the lock. The door doesn't budge. His shoulder catches the wood and the whole thing shudders, pain lancing down his arm. He does it again, shouting into the darkness. "Reivel! Alsara!" His son weeps. His wife calls his name. He throws his body into the door. Something snaps, the door swings inward and he falls through it. He hits the ground hard, shadows falling over him.

A sound, shrill and piercing, and the ground faded again.

He's running, feet smacking hard on the wet cobblestones. He takes a corner too fast and his boots lost traction, skidding him into the wall of a nearby shop. Up ahead he can see the figure moving, too graceful in the rain. He pushes harder, legs kicking against the ache. His lungs burn as he closes the distance. A hand, his hand, snags the fleeing figure's shoulder and he pulls hard. The cloak comes away, an empty garment soaked through. Nobody there. Nobody to blame.

His hands reappeared, lined with scars from a lifetime of brawls. They hovered in front of him, attached to nothing, and somewhere in the distance an animal growled.

Bones crunch as he throws his fists forward, one then the other. Rinse and repeat. Caphius' face is a mess now, his lips opening and closing silently like a gasping fish. He grabs the man's collar and throws him to the ground. There's no resistance left. Caphius curls up, pulling his limbs inwards to ward off further punishment. "Who did it? Who took them?" No answer. The horrible thing is that he doesn't even want one. An answer meant he couldn't keep doing this. The knife slips free of its sheath with a cruel hiss. "TELL ME!" He starts with the fingers. Caphius never gives him a name.

There was grass now. He was doubled over on it, coughing up bile. Pain stitched up his sides and his heart tried to beat its way through his chest. Pressure behind his eyes, withdrawl as much as the portal. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and forced himself to his knees. Despite everything, his mind remained sharp. A monster, two madmen charging, others fleeing. He gets to his feet with some effort, pressing at the ache in his ribs. How did the saying go?

"The first step in always the hardest." He muttered the words, reaching for his belt. For a flask that wasn't there. No extracts, no weapons. The Oaf surprises him by picking up the fallen dwarf. What was the other saying? You only have to be faster than the other guy. He turns on a heel and stumbles, the grass slick beneath his feet. The goblin was gone. Hopefully gone and not eaten. He had words for that one. His eyes scoured the land around them,
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searching for any cover. A rocky overhang, a cluster of trees. Barring a place to hide, somewhere small enough to keep the beast at bay, their best bet would be to move in opposite directions. Make it choose one and give the others a chance. He respects the choice Ethane made, to put himself between death and the others, but he'd never have made it himself. The kid tries to put himself between the monster and the woman, a choice that can only end one way. He growls words between gritted teeth, eyes leveled on Lan.

"We all know the stories. We stand here, we die. Take your lady and run, kid." Throwing a hand out, he catches Making an assumption here given the posting order. Easy to ignore if you've other ideas, Sass.Torum by the chest as the half-orc pops through the portal. Having decided on a direction, he motions that way with his other hand. An offer to the half-breed, two sets of eyes being better than one.

"This way." And then he's moving, away from the beast and the others. Moving towards anything that promises a sliver of hope at surviving this mess.
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:42 PM
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Sweet release. From shackles, anyway. Other releases may need to apply later. Torum rubs his wrists thankfully.

A sassy aristocrat, that Raphael fellow. Threatening to come back? He overestimates his chances. Listening intently, he realizes what they say and starts to wonder why the guards even care about sunrise. Why should they? There's no reason to care. The sun is important. But are the rumors true? Does anyone really know what goes on inside of Krakengard? Surely not. The sin-eater spits as the Dwarf begins to protest, chuckling to himself as the Dwarf is hurled through the barrier. He is the last to go through, walking at his own leisurely pace, even at the pointed end of his rope. "Been a pleasure, gentlesirs. Now kindly go—"

"—frak all, what the Livin' Hell's that?"

Caught by the well-trimmed man, he offers him a nod. He's never played with portals before. He's by no means a wizard, a mage, or any kind of magician in that regard. Torum Trask is fairly straightforward, rarely dwelling on anything, rarely caring for reflection beyond his own faith. Balance in all things. As he passed through, nothing came to mind, just that he was passing through. The sudden appearance in a new world... he takes it all in. Hell of a view. A mist, a mountain, a wasteland.... Master of the Scales, this truly was a Hell. but at least it was balanced one, from the looks of it. He steps over Gloin as they go onward. "Y'idjit."

The behemoth is practically upon them by the time Torum steps through. Instinctively he goes for a blade, his scythe, something, anything, but there's nothing there to take. He curses, as close to cursing as one can get in Celestial. Isilon heads forward, and the commentary by the stick-wielding mystery man is truth enough for him. Heroics are going to get them killed in a place like this. At least, as best he can tell. Torum knows as much as the rest of them. And then, the old man goes to be heroic. Of course. Torum rolls his eyes, stretching his fingers. He's glad he prayed to Govrin before going in.

The boy taking care of the Elfin maid. Well, isn't he just the little gentleman? Torum shakes his head, seeing the Goblin in its usual state (of course it's hiding, they're a survivor race, lil' scavengers; he'll do well here), and the actions of the others gives him mixed signals. Torum is not naturally heroic. He's not unlike the Goblin: he puts a finger to the wind and he sees what's best. Right now? He's not certain. To run would be one thing. To fight would be something else entirely. Which would be best? Living Hell if he knows. The same well-trimmed man offers him a nod of where to go. He seems smart. Why the Hell not?

"You heard'em, kid. You too, Gobbo and Worty-Dird." The latter referred to the poet and his many buttons.

Welcome to Krakengard indeed.
 
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  #15  
Old 02-11-2016, 03:30 PM
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The journey through, and the visions within the portal might be unique to each of the new prisoners, but the nightmare awaiting them on the other side is shared by all of them. The large behemoth has its eyes set on the party, who aren't exactly left with a lot of options.

Some, like Isilon, seem to have chosen to lose their mind. A debatable strategy at best. Others, such as Lan, Ethane and Lumlush, choose to arm themselves. Of course, the list of available weapons is about as short as the list of options available in general...and equally pathetic. Lan quickly picks up a large branch, but the two others have their sights set on the same goal: Ethane reaches the tree limb first, and, ignoring Lumlush's frantic flailing as the goblin almost barrels into him except for an exasperated "Out of my way, Goblin!", charges off after Isilon. With his first choice of weapons gone, Lum's courage leaves him, and he scurries off to hide behind the tree that originally donated the branch the old man is now charging to his doom with. The small green creature definitely manages to disappear from sight...but whether that will be enough to hide him from the demonic beast's other senses remains to be seen.

Manus seems to prefer to not find out the answer to precisely that question, so he arranges a potential distraction in the form of Gloin, who still seems to be mostly out of it. Though the others might not realize what he is up to, the druid has a very pragmatic plan of what he intends to do with the dwarf, if need be.

Continuing down the list of available options, Raphael begins ripping his clothes from his body, but just as everyone is about to throw him in the 'lost his mind' drawer with Isilon, he begins performing some sort of spell. Perhaps the man has a plan after all, as his bright shirt begins hovering in the air in front of him. Of course, just as soon as everyone is once more crediting Raphael with perhaps possessing a shred of sanity after all, the man goes and heads for the behemoth as well.

Then again, as Dimitri and Torum look around for a place to hide, or a place to escape, Raphael's actions might make more sense: There is really nowhere else to go. Two of four directions are cut off by jagged cliffs rising up in a way that even an experienced mountaineer with proper equipment would have a hard time scaling...without being in a rush because some monstrosity was chasing after him. The third direction is only blocked by a low fence, easy enough to hop or climb. Of course, behind that fence the plateau the group of prisoners is currently standing on drops off steeply. Though the height of a potential fall can't be seen in its entirety due to the heavy mist clinging to the air, it seems like this would be a very poor choice. Perhaps a last resort, but not one that you'd expect to survive.

With those three directions blocked, there are only two choices left: Back through the portal, or forward. Somehow, instinctively, everyone is pretty sure that the crackling energy and ball lightning running across the swirling surface is best left alone. Which leaves forward...right into the mist, and right at the rock behemoth up ahead.
Of course, that isn't entirely true. Even straight ahead there are options. The plateau before the colony's newest inhabitants is about 100 feet wide, and the beast lumbered forth from the mist in the middle of it. Though it isn't a lot, there is room both to its left and to its right, where one might attempt to slip by it. Especially while it is distracted by the crowd that is running right at it. Going by on the left hand side means moving up as close as possible to the small wooden fence, and sneaking by the demonic beast while staring down into the mist, wondering how far the drop might be and if it is survivable. Going by on the right hand side instead means pressing up to the cliff face as close as possible.
Neither is inherently farther from the beast, and, as a matter of fact, both are really too close for comfort. If the creature were to spot those running past it, and decide to charge them, that would likely spell disaster no matter which way is chosen.

"Lan, we can't just keep standing here. What do you think you are going to do against that thing with a branch? We either need to hide or run, but in any case, WE need to get moving!" Pulling on Lan's arm, Amaranthe tries to get him to commit one way or another. She seems to consider part of looking out for him making sure he doesn't do something stupid like wait around out in the open.

Isilon closes to within a few feet of the rock demon, which in turn lets out another growl that builds up into a roar. Once more, the rumble sends a small tremor through the earth. Not enough to influence anyone's balance. Just enough to make everyone wonder what hell spits out a creature that can make the ground shake with its howl. There is no time to dwell on the matter, however. The fool is about to reach the beast, with Ethane and Raphael about 10 and 30 feet behind. One thing is clear: If the plan is to try and run past the beast, then the time is now...

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