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Old 05-31-2017, 12:48 PM
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Chapter One: It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

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[thematic music]

Perhaps it is cliche to say that it was a dark and stormy night, but whenever travelers are forced to spend an afternoon watching the clouds build up along the coast ahead of them, there isn't much else that is likely to be on their minds. From whatever direction and from whatever life they came to this grey cliffside overlooking Pocket Bay, they were all comrades in the drizzling rain that bedraggled one and all. With all travelers hastily cloaked against the wet weather and the biting wind, it was hard to make out who friends or foes might be among all the dark shapes. The wagon pulled by a pair of horses was easier to spot on the road, though the driver was similarly wrapped up. When hailed by the group traveling with a young lady--strike that, a small gnomish lady--there wasn't much to say but yes to their request that the woman sit on the back step where she'd have a bit of protection against the wind. So it was that the wagon reached a turning point of the cliffside road with more fanfare than it was perhaps used to, what with a squad of mercenaries as honor guard and a young gnome lady aboard. From the rear, two more cloaked figures had caught up to the slower-moving group by then, adding to the number of people wishing to get out of the rain when a distant rumble of thunder elicited groans from nearly all present. Ahead of the group and coming their way, a last figure stopped when it glimpsed what it was moving toward, but the flash of lightning had revealed more than just the unexpected meeting of travellers; the road made a jagged course up the cliff to a castle.

What's more, there were lights lit at the castle.

It didn't seem to take anyone much thought to begin moving thataways, if anyone even did make a conscious choice. Perhaps it was the two horses who refused to deal with the thunderstorm while exposed on the cliff road. Even those few who had an inkling of what castle they were approaching didn't have much chance to shout over the roll of thunder, so that was that. That the mercenary squad begged leave from their charge to camp outside rather than deal with some nobleman might have seemed strange to the others, but the gnome lady didn't seem entirely surprised. It would leave her in the company of four strange men of unknown various backgrounds, though only till they entered the castle and begged leave to stay the night. The wagon rolled up the thin road to the upper cliffs with only one sticky point where the mercenaries had to help push it out of the muddy hole one of the wheels rolled into. There wasn't much here that would offer shelter but the castle itself, which grew out of rocky outcroppings that had been made into a strange foundation of sorts. The wagon driver had little choice but to leave his wagon exposed to the elements, though his horses could shelter between the wagon and the rocks somewhat. While it seemed odd that there wasn't a stable when the castle was set apart from the rest of civilization, one wasn't immediately visible. A bit of oiled canvas stretched from the side of the wagon would provide a lean-to for the horses while their master hid from the elements within.

A drawbridge spanned a rocky gap between the castle's outer wall and the road, not much more than a walkway up to the heavy, double iron-bound doors in the outer walls, lit only by a lantern on one side that swung in the wind and set all sorts of shadows to dancing over the walls and the visitors alike.

GMWelcome to the Folding of Screamhaunt Castle! I look forward to eating your PCs gaming with you all! I've given only the barest outline of why a bunch of you ended up here all at once, I hope you'll elaborate on what brings each and every one of you here. I've written out the stat block below so that you can check the stats I have listed and hopefully correct any errors before we reach any combat/mechanics. I will be working on character sheet checks over the next few rounds of posts, so please get any updates to your sheet finished as soon as possible. I intend to throw you to the dogs into the thick of things pretty early on, so I want to make sure we're all ready for that!

 
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Old 06-01-2017, 07:36 AM
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Acantha Hollyrath"It was a dark and stormy night... it's like the beginning of so many horrifying tales I've read..." Acantha Hollyrath speaks to herself, aware but unresponsive to the sidelong glances she inspires from the young mercenaries she's traveling with. For what it's worth, the sun isn't quite gone yet, causing the eastern part of the sky to look like a dark bruise, all purple with small streaks of pink and yellow-ish. Just that thought is disconcerting, as the somewhat sheltered young lady gets sick to the stomach when she sees wounds, though she does her best to be strong and not flee in such situations. And it's not raining yet, though she can smell the rain in the air, so she knows it's coming - and soon. She sighs as she walks, hoping the impending storm looks worse than it will be, and that... she doesn't complicate things somehow. She knows she will eventually, but it's not always bad. As she considers the weirdness and its complications, she begins to ponder at the complications she'd undergone just getting this far.

'Sometimes it seems as if the road will never end. If that makes sense. Always another lead, to some place, some of which are dead ends. A supposed archive that turned out to be a cave. Empty. Still, I can't just sit and wait for something bad to happen. This trip has been especially long. The roads along the Demon Coast aren't very well developed, and it's still a long way to The Dire Wood. And the men with me don't ever seem to want to talk to me. Not that I blame them.' Acantha sighs again as she looks at the mercenaries she has been traveling with. Every time she's worked with The Southern Company, she's worked with a new squad... except for Lieutenant Darkward. Now that is a human she doesn't understand. Like the others, he doesn't talk to her much. Yet, this is the third time he's led the squad she had hired, and if the talk she's overheard is true, he had always volunteered. Her eyes linger on the gruff man, considering him for a moment - something she's been doing more and more as of late. She wishes he would talk, if only to tell her why.

As the wish forms in her mind, the rain begins to fall. A slow drizzle to begin with, but it only takes minutes for the rain to become a true storm, thunder and lightning included. Acantha lets out a childish groan, partly out of the desire to be dry, though the crashing noise makes her jump. She watches the others light torches, doing whatever they do to make the best of their situation, and she becomes determined to do the same...

At least, until she slips in the mud suddenly. The pale gnome falls hard, letting out a muffled cry as the air is driven from her lungs and a bit of her latent power escapes. For a minute, the winds pick up to gale speeds, launching small rocks, a few torches and even a pair of hats over the cliff and into the sea. Acantha rolls over in the mud, whimpering pathetically as the company scrambles to set everything properly in place, even as the chaos bolstered wind stops almost as soon as it started. Luckily, her magic didn't cause any real problems this time. Davos Hanhome, one of the bolder young sergeants gives her a glare, though most of the men seem skittish as things settle. Lt. Khelen though, walks up to the gnomish lady and helps her stand, holding her shoulder as he lets the rain wash away the mud, "Be careful, Miss Hollyrath. We don't want any accidents."

As the storm picks up, Acantha finds herself wishing for shelter. And looking ahead, she sees a wagon come into view. The young magic-user points it out to the Lieutenant, who simply nods and hails the cloaked driver. The squad files in behind the man, and arrangements are made, and Acantha finds herself riding on the back of the vehicle, though she feels sorry for the squad as they walk next to the wagon. At least the wind is partially blocked for the men. Kicking her legs absentmindedly, she looks over her shoulder at her benefactor, though she can't see much of the person. Still, she offers a nervous smile, "Um... Thank you for the help. We do appreciate it. My name is Acantha..." She is obviously nervous - she can be charming in certain circumstances, but she often finds herself fearing strangers at first. She's not even sure if the stranger heard her over the storm, though she feels that it's important to at least try. She doesn't really expect to be answered, so she peers out in back of the wagon, trying to peer aimlessly between the raindrops, though she's not having much success. As she does so, she thinks she sees a shadowy figure approaching the wagon. No, not one. Two shadowy figures. She jumps at the realization, then rubs at her eyes, wondering if she's hallucinating again. But they don't go away, they only come closer until, they too hail the wagon. She offers the pair a shy hello, though she doesn't say much else. The mercenaries look the pair over, but remain silent as well. After some time, the wagon makes a turn and another strange man joins the wagon, though Acantha doesn't make much of it. She stares blankly, hoping that all of this ends soon.

The road stretches onward and upward, and after a while, she hears one of the mercenaries call out and point to a castle, and it's lights. The gnome closes her eyes, thankful at the thought of leaving the wagon, though she's somewhat confused, 'A castle? I wasn't aware that any nobles called this part of the empire home...' In her mind, she lists possible places it might be, though she willfully leaves one name off of her list. But, as the wagon slows, she puts her thoughts aside. The makeshift group had already arrived at the castle. As people filed off the wagon, Lt. Darkward approached her and asked for leave to remain out of the castle. Acantha gave him a sad look and a groan, not relishing the thought of being alone with the strangers, but she gave him leave. She takes a breath and separates herself from those setting up to remain out of the castle and moves towards the drawbridge, speaking aloud to herself, "Please don't let this be Scrimhunt Castle..."

OOCI'm happy to get this game started. I wasn't sure who is who among the figures, but I tried to make it open-ended so people can be where they need to be. For everyone's posts, if you want Acantha or the mercs to speak, feel free, but remember that Acantha is a little frightened of strangers and probably won't talk much beyond 'hello' and maybe a yes or no. For the Mercs, I figure that they're really Aethera's to play with.

Fleshing them out a little more, The Southern Company is one of the largest mercenary companies in the south, and they are based in Newport. They're about 600-800 strong, though in most jobs they only deploy squads of 5-6 men. Acantha is known to all of the mercenary companies in the south as a weird woman, but one that is never turned away, because she often gives the bulk of any treasure found - essentially, she picks out what she can use, and lets them have the rest, so the Company gets 'paid' much more than normal prices with her. As for why Khelen Darkward volunteers to serve Acantha... I dunno. It just seemed to be... right, in my mind.

Lastly, I'm still getting used to things. If anyone has advice on how I can do better or anything, I'd love to hear it. My hope is to be part of a great story where everyone is having a blast.

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Old 06-01-2017, 06:55 PM
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A large oilskin pack rested on the shoulders of a man of middling height, his features obscured under a hooded wool habit. Yet Kapru did not walk like a monk or a priest, but like a hunter. One with stiff joints aged prematurely, for the flashes of lightning illuminated a face unlined by the years he has known. His hands were entirely encased within the long sleeves of his garment, clasped above the rope tying the cloth to his gaunt body.

Traveling anonymously in numbers gave him a measure of peace. He did his part not to stand out, to give the mercenary company he knew quite well any distinguishing traits to describe him with. At one time he wouldn't have imagined the Wardens of the Green employing members of the Southern Company, but that was before he stirred up the hornets nest. Only fitting that a squad from his home town be the ones to bring him to justice, even if it were vigilante justice.

Yet the warriors peeled off, leaving a disparate group of strangers at the foot of the looming edifice of blooming nightmares. And it was given a name by the gnome woman, one that brought forth a chuckle from under his cowl. It was a freeing sound, as if he shrugged off the shackles of fear that had held on to him so long. It set off a chain reaction, of hands freed from their sleeves.

His hands bore strangely clean white finger-less gloves, lightly covered in intricate, whirling patterns in various shades of green, scrollwork of vines and thorns. These hands reached up to draw back his drenched hood and reveal shaggy brown hair and a face filled with twisted mirth that didn't quite touch his mossy eyes. His laughter ceased abruptly, and he found quiet words to fill the silence. "My lucky stars, could it be? Scrimhunt, truly? Perhaps the one place they won't follow..."

Then he cleared his throat, turning towards the gnome. "Pardon me for my lack of manners. I'm not much fond of the company you keep, Miss Acantha. No offense meant of course, but I find them an unsavory lot. The Southern Company has a rather inflated opinion of their own worth... many of my childhood friends joined their number, and I can say they are friends no longer."

Then he cocked his head, as if listening to voices trickling into his ears from a great distance. "Please, call me Kapru. Or call me anything at all really, although I don't fancy 'witch' much. What I would fancy would be a dry meal and a warm fire. Mayhaps we'll find hospitality in this place of ill repute?"

To some his words might be charming, but there was a disconnect between his voice and his gaze, a hesitation in expression. As if he was being pulled in many directions of thought at once, and couldn't quite settle on any of them with all of his attention.

OOCAnd so it begins!

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Old 06-04-2017, 10:50 PM
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The first sound out of the unusual wagoneer was a cheerful, almost jaunty whistling that echoed out ahead of him in defiance of the gloomy storm-wracked night, occasionally interjected with utterances of "Watch your step there, Tempest!" and "Just a little further, Temptation my girl, then we'll stop for the night." These words, it seemed, were meant for the two mules that pulled the vehicle along with long-suffering determination. They were not a young pair, with grey starting to fleck their bay coats. But they were surefooted even in the poor weather, and moved with a unity that was almost hypnotic. The wagon they pulled was a strange affair- Red and white roses grew off of thick vines that seemed embedded in the dark wood of the wagon's sides and top. Strangest of all, perhaps, was the small metal chimney that stuck out of the roof like a nub. On the other side of the wagon, a shuttered window was firmly closed, with a roll of dark canvas above tightly held in place with a series of cords.

The man holding onto the reins was something else entirely. Wild black locks stuck out from under a wide-brimmed straw hat, held it place by what seem to be two tiny triangular purplish-black bits of bone pushed through the front. The short-clipped nails that tip his fingers seem the same hue. The man's skin is pale and smooth enough to make any young woman jealous, and his eyes are dark. But he smiled easily as the others drew up next to him on the road. He had been slouching, taking up the whole of the driver's seat, with one sandaled foot hanging over the edge, bobbing to some silent music. When he spotted the diminutive lady among their number, he straightened his posture and reached behind him to pluck off a white rose from those growing over his vehicle. Sliding his nails along the stem to clear it of thorns, he leaned over and held it down to her. "Goooood evening, Miss and Gents. Quite a night, isn't it? But what luck, to come across beauty even in the most unlikely of places." With a tap of his brim, he slides back until he takes The back of the wagon is fairly flat, and while the folded steps do jut out a bit, there's no real protection from the elements back there.up only half of the seat. "By all means, what humble accommodations I have are yours to share. Please forgive the smell." The man's voice is strong and steady, but his words come out in a lazy drawl that doesn't quite seem in place with his diction. And those who get too close to the wagon indeed can notice a smell, something of sulfur and something of brimstone and something of a dozen other strange scents besides, though the wetness in the air seems to keep the smell from becoming overpowering, for now.

As another strange one joins the band of travelers and offers introduction, he taps the brim of his hat again. "Y'can call me Axander. These here are Tempest and Temptation, two finer creatures you'll never see. So what brings you out to this lonely road?" As the man leans back, something down by his foot twitches, but then goes still.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When the group stops with intent to enter the castle, the young man is quick to hop down from his seat and offer a hand to Acantha, apologizing that the height of the steps are not made with a person of her stature in mind. Immediately after, he pulls a pair of blankets out of the wagon's interior, and after unbridling the mules, makes sure each is covered. He gives fresh feed and water to each, and leaves them unteathered in the scant shelter beside the wagon. He touches each on the muzzle briefly. "I know I promised you a nice, warm stable- I hope you can forgive me. I really thought we'd have made a town by now." Odd as it may be to see a grown man talking to animals, the concern for their well-being shows in his eyes.
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:46 PM
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Standing before the castle, Acantha still feels the grip of uneasy anticipation. She knows that 'Screamhaunt' cannot be good for her, and she's afraid that it won't be a pleasant experience for these strangers either, 'Hmmm... Maybe stranger is slightly too strong for Axander and Kapru. Is it? Would they be acquaintances, if I know naught but their names and the vaguest impression gained in minutes? They're not friends... and likely never will be. Not if this is a dangerous place, and the power within me wreaks havoc. And they seem like a strange group, as well. This Axander has some unusual tics to him, though he feels like a salesman, more than anything. I don't know what to think of Kapru. He's nice, but he seems disconnected. And I thought I heard him whisper something, but didn't really catch it... Is he on the run? The other two haven't spoken yet, not that I've noticed. Maybe they said their names, and I just ignored it?'

She shakes herself, fighting against the urge to become lost in thought. She casts her eyes to Axander as he deals with his horses, then peers at Kapru deeply with her red eyes. Considering him and his words, she sighs and brushes her hand through her bangs, revealing the arcane symbol on her forehead for a brief instant. She speaks to the man, and while the hints of her fear and uncertainty are still there, she seems more comfortable with the friendly talk, "I can't be certain that it is Scrimhunt... but I can't think of any lords in this area, nor any ruined castles - though the lights are disconcerting. Who is it? Bandits? Rebels? Ghosts, if this is 'Screamhaunt'?" She purses her lips as she becomes lost in her thought, beginning to become oblivious to the situation. She looks around, stepping to the side that gets her out of the rain, just enough for her to bring out a book.

Flipping through it quickly, she glances toward Axander first, before continuing her rambling speech directed at Kapru, "It doesn't make much sense, being so close to Horizon, so I can't think of any other possibility. Though, I don't claim to know everything... and I've explored ruins that aren't found on any map. The world is bigger and stranger than most people would guess. And don't mind the men. I've worked closely with the Southern Company for many years, and while... they aren't exactly pleasant to me, they do the work they are paid to do. Isn't that the point?" Acantha tilts her head with the last question, then casts her gaze on the motions of the others - the mercenaries setting up camp, Axander finishing up with the horses, and the other pair. Her eyes then shoot towards the door, her desire split between wanting to get out of the elements, and not wanting to be alone in an unknown place. She keeps herself alert, but begins to read through the book, carefully noting references of castles.

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Old 06-07-2017, 09:39 PM
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[thematic music]

While three of the travelers had introduced themselves on the road as they met, in the shadow of the castle the other two seemed unsure whether to join those making camp or those who seemed headed inside, and each hesitated before getting too close to anyone. One decided to follow the mercenaries first, for whatever reason, and his call hailing the men was quietly audible even as the wind whipped away the words. The gnome lady raised a plea in hopes of not having found one of the places along this coast she did not seek to see any closer, but it was hard to say from the outside what castle this might be, or who might be inside. The lantern was lit, and that was about all there was to it.

Her words induced a bit of a scattered reaction from the next to speak up, but Kapru's attention seemed to be on many things at once, from her introduction, to her company, to the castle itself, and perhaps more. The friendly wagoneer who had introduced himself as Axander was a bit busy with his mules, the two untethered animals not seeming to approve of either their current locale or their options if they wandered off in any direction they could see, but once he had returned his attention to the lady he'd given a lift to and the other man, his eyes went thence to the large doors, which he stepped up to and knocked upon.

The door was opened rather swiftly by a balding valet, swiftly enough that it begged the question of whether he'd been watching them. As he glanced from one to the next he nodded, a gesture which, combined with the swinging lantern's light and shadows, only served to clearly reveal the hunchbacked form he presented. His gaze seemed slightly vacant, but then, what castle servant really wanted to stand around waiting for the bell to be rung on a night like this? Beyond him the entry hall had other servants waiting, but as all were dressed in differing styles and with a wide variety of expense, it was hard to tell whose servants they might be. Noise from within (even over the noise of the storm), might suggest the answer, but the hunchback valet greeted everyone at that moment, drawing attention back to himself. "Good evening. Mmmyes, you are expected. This way please, mind you don’t -mmmheheh- drip on the rug." A nasal laugh accompanied the rather pathetic attempt at a joke, but he opened the door wide and beckoned once, stepping out of the way so everyone could enter out of the pouring rain.

Once the three were out of the rain, he closed the doors behind them and beckoned once more. As soon as the wind was blocked out it was possible to recognize the strains of music wafting down the entry hall, along with laughter and the dull roar of many voices all talking at once. "Welcome to Scrimhunt Castle, my lords and lady. Magister Worst's other guests are already within, but there is plenty of wine to go around, have no fear of that." The appearance of a maid with a distinctly drunk countenance at this very moment earned her a rather angry glare, but he tried to keep going in spite of this. The other servants in the entry hall had more or less snapped to attention upon the entrance of new guests, though they had various looks upon their faces from disdain at those now entering without servants of their own to sheer boredom. It might beg the question how long the party had been going on for, and how long yet it meant to, with the storm outside. A castle this size likely could house a fair number of guests, but these servants hadn't been shown elsewhere, which left a certain disquiet underpinning to the room.

The valet nodded to the first statue he passed, almost more pleasantly than he had the three guests, greeting it like an old friend. "Ah, the first Magister Worst. Choked to death on his own eyeballs, as they tell it." For a conversational fellow, his bedside manner left something to be desired.

GMFigures that the two characters whose sheets I checked first are also the two who haven't been posted. I've moved them to the end of the list for now, and invited a couple friends also. We'll run heavy if everyone starts posting, or we'll kill them off. It certainly won't be hard to come up with ways to do that in this game. Eros, Pendragon, this isn't a game you can really enter into late, so if you don't get a post up before my next one this weekend, I'll have to cut you from the game. Sorry.

 
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Old 06-10-2017, 02:43 AM
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Kapru felt each drop of rain on his face like a little knife, cutting away at the part of him that was prey. Only the strong part of him remained, an iron will to cover the failings of a formerly magnificent physique and sharp, penetrating intellect. He did not need courage to face the castle ahead, it drew him in a way that sent his fingertips tingling, his heart racing. It was like the embrace of a lover. No... do not think of lovers. Do not think of the blood hound, nor the blood on your hands. Or rather, it was like the embrace of the intoxicating fumes of the devil's bloom sap, a slowly rising euphoria that drew him like a moth to the flame. More... just a little more...

He almost lost the words of Acantha's reply in the rush of emotion, but part of his fragmented mind locked on to her lips, to the sounds and thoughts they had brought to life. "I hope that it is ghosts we find inside," he said in a voice that was heavier, deeper, than just moments before. A husky timbre that belied how intent he was on the doors before them. "The living are far more dangerous."

Axander's relationship with his beasts of burden was not missed. Few things ever escaped Kapru's notice, something true of his world before children and especially so now. It was a connection that drew a sliver of his frosty heart to life, an echo of the man he once was. The former Warden of the Green had cultivated bonds with creatures of land, air, and sea as easily as breathing. Staring at the purplish-black horns of the infernally touched coachman, he could see with heart-guided vision the true love in the exchange. For a moment, there was a burning desire to return to that state of near-innocence, until Kapru recognized that he had passed the point of no return.

It felt like an Age had passed since he had rendered his declared ideals nothing more than a pale shadow. The light cast by the fervor he had for having a family of his own drowned out all else. Instead of holding a life in his arms, nurturing a fragile child of his flesh, his soul encapsulated the alien progeny of his mind. They lurked beneath the surface of his thoughts, always. The natural world might be a balm for the pain he had accumulated, but it would never be the force that drove him. Never again.

As Axander stepped forward to gain entrance, Kapru took the opportunity to approach the man's mules and look deeply into their eyes. While he did not make physical contact with either Tempest or Temptation, the reaction of each of the wagon-bearers was as strong as if he had grabbed hold of their long faces in an iron grip. The communion was brief, only a couple seconds each, before Kapru's long strides sent him through the castle's doors.

The valet's strange attitude drew an intense look of concentration from the secret society fugitive, as did the comment of being expected. This place will fray my mind if I let it, he contemplated as they began to leave the reception chamber. As he passed, the details of the other servants were locked in his mind, from the way they dressed, to the depth of their disgust or indifference. Scars, posture, the look of secrets buried behind their gazes.

The first statue, complemented by the valet's commentary, provoked a reaction that was more sarcastic instinct than reasoned response. "Magister Worst the First sounds like a short sighted fellow. Not much of a visionary." He delivered this with a straight face, but a slight hop in his step brought to light the dark humor in his words.

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Old 06-11-2017, 05:25 AM
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Acantha remains in a thoughtful state, her mind going over her own words along with the words written in the ancient book, as she tries to piece together something valuable. But what she really seeks is something comforting, some way to believe that she is safe and won't loose too much of her latent power. She sighs again, putting the book back into her pack as Kapru speaks. As his tone changes, she finds herself slightly disturbed by it, along with his words, 'What is wrong with him, that his tone changes so drastically? He seems excited to be here. And ghosts are less dangerous than the living? Maybe some of the living are, but on average, I'd guess it's not the case. Hopefully Axander will be more comforting to me, but this looks like it'll be a long night...'

She shifts uncomfortably, and as she does so, the door is opened by a hunched and bald man. Her eyes widen as she looks over the valet, her thoughts flooding in a way that makes her dizzy and she isn't sure how she should be feeling. Her heart beats quickly, and she wishes she were at any other castle, though she knows that she's going to have to make the best of it. She needs to control herself as much as she can.

She glances over her shoulder as Kapru moves to... look at Tempest and Temptation, and as Axander moves towards the gate to join her. Acantha shifts and tries to will the man to move faster, but relents as she steps into the castle first, not wanting to offend the hunched caretaker. She listens to him speak, and she continues to quiver inwardly. The demeanor of the man disturbs her, though she tries not to let it show. Still, one phrase confused her, and she speaks before she can really help herself, "Expected us... um... Mr.? You didn't give us your name. And.... and, I don't know about Axander or Kapru, but I had no plans to stop here. It just... sort of worked out that way. My next stop was supposed to be Horizon..."

She shuts her mouth, suddenly uncomfortable with sharing the rest of her plans, and her objective in the northern stretch of the Dire Woods. She look at the two other men, hoping that they speak and gain the attention of the valet, or at least deflect it from herself. As the moments pass, her hand jerks a couple times as she finds herself wanting to hold Axander's hand, in order to comfort herself, though she's sure that the man would find the gesture to be strange, and likely off-putting. Her hand moves to reach for him, but she fights herself, which might make her look somewhat twitchy or comical to the others, though it's better they think that than know the truth of what she is.

The doors of the castle close, and Acantha can hear the din of music and voices coming from a nearby room, yet all she feels is confusion for the moment, 'All the tales I've ever read of this place have been highly disturbing. Ghosts and ghasts, hauntings, magical experiments and torture... were the accounts wrong? Why is there a party with so many people... or at least the sounds of people? The... hunchback doesn't look like a ghost, at least, nor do these servants. Why are they here, though? Don't most castles have servant quarters where they could be more comfortable?'

As her thoughts run amok, the valet welcomes them properly, the the gnome does not feel welcome. Then comes the story of the the Magister choking on his own eyeballs, which widens Acantha's eyes once again. She rocks on her heels, trying to keep calm, which is aided by Kapru's joke. Acantha doesn't find it funny, but she gives him an appreciative smile nonetheless. She looks at the statue once more and let's out a squeaking gasp. She takes a step towards Axander and Kapru, as she watches many bloody eyeballs pour from the mouth of the statue. She rubs her eyes and looks to the others in the room, watching them carefully to see if they see the same thing - though, she's almost certain she's just in the grips of a hallucination.

Last edited by JackinIrons; 06-11-2017 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 06-11-2017, 04:08 PM
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The rain rolled in and around Duality's armor throughout the long walk towards the castle, in quick stride as the purpose for her journey came into view over the horizon: Screamhaunt castle. Tightening the strap on her backpack who's black leather shone dully in the rain and moonlight, she simply gritted her teeth and began at a doubled pace as she had so often done in the training in years past.

The running woman seemed odd to those around her, a stark contrast to those knights of the Great Gold Wyrm that she called herself as she was indeed a Tiefling, demonspawn. Ashen black skin and snow white hair, even for a Tiefling her features seemed unique and profane. Even with the blackened charred armor and spiked gauntlets the golden symbol of the wyrm shone through, giving those around her at least a small sense of relief amidst the doubt that crept in.

Finishing her journey along the road to the courthouse of the castle itself, Duality sweeps down her hood to reveal a set of short black horns before moving into some cover within the frame of the great doors. Even before she could place a hand on the doors to put some force into opening them they swung open more quickly than she could imagine, leaving a single hunched figure in the doorway seemingly ready to lead her onward. In a soft voice, Duality could not help but inquire, "Who are you?" to no avail as the figure wordlessly moved forward down the hallway, leading her quickly to a series of voices that end at another similar hunched man, and five others standing in the lanternlight.

"Fair evening, to all."
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Old 06-11-2017, 07:18 PM
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Standing there in the doorway, "Axander" noticed that the little woman seemed quite nervous. He idly wondered if it would seem quite so adorable if she were full-sized. In any case, she seemed to be seeking some reassurance, so he reaches out and gently touches her shoulder- not a grasp, just an acknowledgement. The salesman's eyes narrow slightly at the strange greeting, but he shrugged it off. "Grateful for the invitation." If it was a matter of mistaken identity, what harm could come of indulging in a bit of revelry before it be discovered and cleared up? Though he found it unlikely that he himself could be mistaken for a lord, the woman might be. The other stranger? Hard to say. Some nobles were known for their eccentricities. The appearance of the drunk maid caused a smirk to cross his face, and their guide's comment on the statuary earned a chuckle. "Sounds like someone didn't see eye to eye with him on something and went for the poetic revenge."
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:59 PM
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Kapru had inclined his head towards the horned woman as she rushed in while the gathered folks were being ushered out of the foyer. There was an almost knowing smile that touched upon his lips as his wide mossy eyes flowed over charred armor and the golden symbol. An unlikely hunter... the martyr's chosen have yet to try and burn me at the stake.

The man in his sodden grey wool habit, his cowl thrown back and his face bearing a strange sort of merriment, caught the tiefling woman's eyes with his own. "A fair evening? Impartial? That has yet to be seen. A fellow wanderer looking for shelter from the storm, mayhaps? Hurry now, we're about to to meet our mysterious hosts, it would seem. I am Kapru, a mystic of sorts. I would welcome you, but I know not what sort of welcome I am soon to find myself."

Acantha's discomfort was dissected as they walked. The way she held her shoulders, the movement of her eyes, the jerking motions he knew instinctively was a cry for help. Kapru knew people, could read them like a seasoned sailor can read the tides. His paternal instincts almost caused him to seek to give her some semblance of warmth, yet he completely resisted the compulsion. The way his eyes roamed over her did not bear any of the predatory nature common to base men, just an intense curiosity with the slightest hint of concern.

The horned man, his charm wafting off of him in waves, drew a low chuckle from Kapru. Acknowledging the man's humor with the pursing of his lips and the smile lines around his eyes forming, he was about to respond when Acantha's sudden shock registered in his periphery. His gaze was drawn to where she drew focus, but seeing nothing out of the ordinary he cocked his head. "Was the late and first Magister an acquaintance of yours, Miss Acantha? You look like you've seen a ghost."
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:23 PM
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Over her shoulder, Acantha hears a voice she doesn't recognize and quickly looks to the voice and when she does, she recoils a bit at the sight. The woman's ashen skin and horns unnerve her, but then the gnome catches sight of the Wyrm's symbol. She imagines that the sight of that symbol would calm most people, and Acantha indeed calms down and feels her pulse start to slow. But the sight isn't really a comfort to her, as the memories of her attempts to contact the Wyrm flood her mind, along with the all to familiar feelings of rejection. Though, she welcomes the feelings for once, as she finds the moments to recover from her growing fear of the place, and the situation in general. But the gnomish woman doesn't look to the Tiefling for long, because she finds the paladin disconcerting, nonetheless.

Acantha's eyes move on, as she listens to the words spoken around her. She smiles as Axander touches her shoulder reassuringly, which is enough to bring her control back. Her fidgeting calms and she even gives a bright smile at the continuation of the joke, though she can't find it in herself to continue the trend. Kapru continues to speak, and her red eyes observe the man further as she thinks to herself, 'I wish I were more like these people. That I could be braver and take everything in stride. Maybe, if I could be like that, I could control the power inside me better...'

Acantha's internal reverie is broken as Kapru addresses her with a question, but the question itself causes Acantha to fidget lightly again, if only for a moment. She delays answering, steeling herself to look around again at the servants and the still bloody hallucination of the statue. Finally, she shakes her head, looking to Kapru as she answers, "No. I've lived most my life in the East, mostly in Santa Cora and The Wild Wood. Newport as well. I just... I... I just have an overactive imagination, is all." She smiles, pondering her own words. Maybe her hallucinations are just that, but more accurately, she's not ready for the others to know who she is - or, more accurately, what she is.
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:12 PM
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[thematic music]

"My name is Padraic, if it please you, little lady," the valet replied to Acantha, both acknowledging her confusion and completely ignoring the rest of what she'd asked. The arrival of yet another guest didn't distract him from leading them onward, his comments broken by an additional dozen statues on both sides of the carpet as they walk down the hall toward the sounds of revelry. "The first Magister Worst was a brilliant mind," he told Kapru's sarcasm. "When this castle was made over into a center for the care of magical maladies otherwise untreatable by the average healer, he did great work. Ah, Magister Landjager. Yes, brilliant brain there, too. They found most of it in this very hall, I'm told." This didn't seem to bother him in the least, regardless of any discomfort of his guests. He nodded to the named statue, greeting it amicably. Just behind the statue thus greeted was a painting of a medieval man who looked remarkably like Axander... if Axander would ever be caught dead in a massive frilly collar and ancient costume. The picture resembled many from that time period, a simple pose of man sitting in an ornamental chair, no smile, just deadpan expression. The man in the painting had more strongly accented demonic features (namely, the horns which were larger than Axander's own) but otherwise could be the tiefling's twin.

"Magister Stippgrütze. They say she had an incandescent mind… judging by the scorch marks. This way, gentlemen and ladies," the valet encouraged the group, including the newly arrived armored figure with a nod. "Lady Pinkel. In the library. Mmm... with a candlestick, if I recall correctly." He smirked across the hall at the statue so lovingly insulted. That was the last statue before the group reached the large double doors, which Padraic threw open energetically.

The sudden spike in sound was nearly overwhelming; music and laughter and the sounds of drunken merriment blasted the arriving guests nearly hard enough to stop them in their tracks. It was only as the valet signaled a waiting servant--who nodded and wound his way between guests, quickly disappearing from view--that the newcomers began to realize that all the party guests were dressed as adventurers. Oftimes ridiculously so, like the partiers had romantic notions of what adventurers dressed or acted like, but little real knowledge or awareness. A playful duel rushed past the group on one side, swords blunt, wooden, and painted silver. Even their armor was painted paper mache. If these folk were dressed as adventurers, they hadn't gone to much expense, however. Wizards were just people in sequined robes throwing colorful feathered balls at each other. Most of the guests' costumes would never be suited to adventuring, with hemlines too high and necklines too low. Perhaps an adventuring-themed party could be one of the more ridiculous fashion trends among the very rich? Even nobles' bodyguards were dressed as henchmen, or in one case, a spear-carrier.

The guests were singing, dancing, and had rather obviously been raiding the castle’s wine cellar. If any of them noticed that the new arrivals were wearing real armor or carrying real weapons, there was no sign of it. At least that was true until the servant who had been sent running returned with a man in ancient (but real) armor and a long robe. His eyes roved across the new faces, and he seemed to recognize that none of them were invited guests. "My my my. We are graced with the presence of uninvited guests. Real adventurers to add to our little soiree! Welcome. How thrilling. Oh, but you poor little things. We see you're shivering from the rain. You must come and warm yourselves here by our fire." He beckoned to them all, moving closer to the huge hearth. "I am Magister Brade Worst, Lord of Scrimhunt Castle."

GMMeet your host.

 
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Last edited by Aethera; 06-13-2017 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:21 PM
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Kapru stopped walking suddenly, his penetrating gaze drilling into Acantha for what only could have been a moment. His expression was blank, his eyes transfixed, and then just as suddenly he smiled as if the gnome had complimented him on his non-existent hat. "Imagination... great works can be rendered from such a gift." He let out a laugh that was mostly a chitter, before turning his back towards the woman and picking up his pace.

As the valet explained a bit of the history of the place, Kapru's expression grew tense, almost pained. This was in part due to one of his hands reaching under his habit and gripping the sharpened edges of his favored implement of mysticism. Long ago he had mastered the art of doing so without drawing blood, but the pain of it digging into his flesh kept him focused. Certainly it did not distract him from the awareness of the painting of Magister Landjager, nor did he need to look upon the face of Axander to refresh himself on the similarities. He clucked his tongue, keeping his commentary to himself for the moment.

His ears had begun to be overwhelmed up the increasing volume of the gaiety that they would shortly stumble upon, and he sorted through the various sounds and catalogued each one individually as best he could. And then the travelers found themselves amidst revelers. The scene delighted Kapru, and he let the emotion roll over his eyes, his mouth, his posture. It was like watching a theatrical performance, and he found himself clapping like a child at the circus at first.

At their host's introduction, Kapru stilled himself and blanked his expression. For once, his keen observational mind failed him, and he was unable to get a read entirely as to the nature of the Lord of the castle. Instead of frustrating him, it intrigued him. He sucked in a deep breath as if about to speak, but instead let his pack fall to the floor and flung up his sodden habit and tucked it under his arm. The brown hunting leathers underneath had met much abuse, but showed expert care. The hunting knife at his belt was in a simple wooden-lined sheath on his left, and the cracked half of a mirrored mask on a chain hung by his waist on his right. He tried hefting the oilskin container off the floor with one hand but struggled with the motion, so he simply dragged it along to a place by the hearth as he sought his words.

"Thank you for your hospitality, my Lord," he began, his voice struggling for inflection but not quite settling on one that suited the phrase. "I am Kapru, a road-weary hedge magician and healer." The mystic claimed a chair, hanging his drenched disguise over the ornate wooden back and tucking his pack underneath the tall, curving legs. "Your valet, Padraic, must have mistakenly spoke when he said us lot of strangers were expected."
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Old 06-15-2017, 04:37 AM
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Acantha seems taken aback by the intense gaze from Kapru, but doesn't seem to be too mollified by his reference of imagination as a gift, 'Normal imagination is a gift, but not mine. No, the things that surround me are not a gift. For anyone.' She almost speaks, but holds her tongue even as the man picks up his pace. She stares after him for a moment, red eyes boring into his back, but then she fidgets as she seems to remember where she is.

As everyone seems to pick up the pace, she does so too, moving her little legs faster in order to keep up. She alertly looks around, seeming to be a prey animal for the moment, though she notices the similarity between the painting of Magister Landjager and Axander. The realization catches her offguard, and her brow furrows as she considers it. She doesn't bring out her book again, but her mind is blissfully occupied as she tries to remember if there are any passages related to such a coincidence. So occupied, that she sort of glosses over the rest of Padraic's ruminations, and as a result, she appears to be less nervous than before. The growing din on the party does begin to intrude on her thoughts as it gets steadily louder.

As the valet throws open the doors, the sudden auditory assault causes Acantha to flinch and take a step backward, though her reaction is one of surprise. She looks around the room, curiously eyeing the strange costumes of the party-goers, yet she doesn't find it to be too strange, 'It seems to be like a masquerade, though one that is very focused. Fashion is a strange thing, at the best of times. I wonder if it's like this in Horizon, as well. Wait... This is Scrimhunt. Castle Screamhaunt, which I've read about more than once, and haunted my dreams for a couple years when I still lived in Santa Cora. Don't forget where you are, Acantha. Be wary...' Her internal monologue brings her alert eyes back, though she finds it somewhat hard to take things seriously in the moment. This is Scrimhunt, Padraic spoke the name himself, but so far it's only been her contaminated mind that's caused anything strange thus far.

Her eyes move to a man approaching the group, the only one she had seen in this strange place wearing actual armor, and she shifts on her feet, shrinking behind Kapru as if he would protect her, though her curious eyes suggest that this is a normal reaction for the woman. She listens to the words of welcome, and as he mentions the cold, she shivers bodily - as if she had forgotten that her robes were soaked through and was suddenly beset by the cold. Her teeth actually begin chattering audibly for a moment, before she forces herself to cease. She listens to Kapru take the lead in speaking to Magister Brade Worst, grateful that she could take a moment to compose herself. She carefully considers how much she should share, but decides to speak candidly. She knows that The Oracle had tried to keep her existence secret, though whispers can still travel despite the best of intentions. A polite smile blooms on her lips as she speaks more clearly and charmingly than she had before, "Thank you for the warm welcome, Magister. My name is Acantha Hollyrath, scholar and seeker of ancient lore. We were driven here by the weather, but I hope that we don't intrude on your hospitality too much."
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