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Old 05-29-2018, 11:28 AM
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Chapter 2: A Meeting of Heroes

They crossed the great snow covered plain and felt, as they walked, the weight of the black clouds overhead like some heavy shroud that sought to transport them to the great beyond rather than to their inexorable destination. Greywolff marveled at the magic in his boots which allowed him to so gingerly step over the soft deep powder as easily as he would walk on hard summer ground. He breathed in the cold winter air and coughed for a moment as the stench of underlying decay assaulted him when he deigned to breathe too deeply of its tainted air. Badwanis beside him walked as lightly as he did but his mentor's thoughts seemed far more preoccupied with some fair green-skinned lady he had recently laid eyes upon if one were to judge by the forlorn look in his eyes and the soft smile resting gingerly on his lips. Delvron's gaze and thoughts were locked, as always, straight ahead. Greywolff admired this trait in his friend that had him always thinking to what was coming, his considerable intelligence always plumbing the depths of his brain for some plan of action or some variable others may not have considered. Greywolff knew they could be stepping towards their end. The Dryads had spoken of an army of the Fiendish Devils and here they were marching towards them as thugh they three alone could possibly comprise an army on their own. Greywolff knew that it would take many even of those fiends to take them down, but could they really stand victorious before an army of them? He did not think that they could but if Delvron thought this course was best for them than by Jove he would follow him and would gladly die trying if that is what his friend asked of him. He knew Delvron would do no less for him.

So they walked.

Soon the mountains loomed large and high above them and they made out the path beaten in the snow by the passing Fiends as they converged upon the mines some way ahead. They climbed the winding path up the side of the mountain and it was not long before Greywolff felt the many hairs at the back of his muscled neck stand on end. He felt certain they were being watched. Delvron plodded on silently so Badwanis and Greywolff did the same. The path they walked was not a narrow one and it seemed clear that large vehicles once circulated here. Intermittently visible through the windswept snow were ancient railroad tracks that were doubtlessly once used to transport vast amounts of ore from the depths of the once prolific mines. Finally, they reached the top. The winding path straightened as it reached the large opening into the side of the mountain and a large area had long ago been carved around its mouth to accommodate storage sheds, stables, and even some living quarters for guards and workers. Very little of the old buildings remained standing now with only collapsed ruins standing where they once had.

The devils were waiting for them of course. Dozens of the Gelugons stood waiting for them, long spears held front and ready for the coming charge. To either side of the Ice Devils, ready to flank them if they proved foolish enough to engage head on, were some one hundred of the Bearded Devils the Dryads had faced in the field before. Delvron never faltered. His stern and stoic face hardened further as he paced relentlessly towards them, calling his dual bastard swords to hand with the power of their magic. They glistened even in this shadowed daylight as he advanced. Soon, they would glisten with the blood of countless fiends...



Greywolf's heart beat hard and fast in his furry barrel chest as he ran, his Orcish double axe Whittler swaying back and forth in his hands as he did. Delvron and Badwanis ran behind him and as he looked back, Greywolff saw the gleeful grins on their faces to mirror his own wolfish one. He could not remember having had so much fun! They had plowed right through them of course, even dallying for a bit to take large numbers of them down before punching through. Greywolff felt the dozen or so wounds that covered him already closing as he ran and felt ready for more of the same fun should it present itself again. The plan, of course, was to test their numbers and see how prepared the Devils were for an attack. The answer, at least so far, was not very.

Until they came to the first main cavern.

Thousands of them had gathered there. Maybe tens of thousands. Delvron had led the charge then and they had skirmished for quite some time to test themselves. It was easy pickings, at first. Bearded devils fell by the hundreds in the first hour alone, the trio plunging deep into their numbers back to back in a careful triangle of devastation. It could not last, of course. Eventually they brought the big ones out to play and they had to break formation and make a run for it. They saw an opening leading deeper into the mines and so they took it, sprinting into a far narrower tunnel where the Fiendish numbers would count for far less against them. They fought for some time in the smaller tunnel, taking turns in the front while the others recovered behind him. A few hours of this and they had to break again. Deeper into the depths they went, stopping now and again to decimate more of their numbers. Eventually, they reached the shaft.

The shaft was carved in the exact center of a large artificial cavern that had been carefully hewn into the natural rock. It was at least twenty feet across and had chains and railroad tracks leading up to its edge. Massive chains dangled from the high ceiling woven through various pulleys comprising a simple yet magnificent system of block and tackle to manage vast amounts of weight. The three companions sprinted across the vast cavern, Badwanis now on all fours in wolf form while Greywolff ran in his hybrid half man half wolf shape to glean more speed from his battered body. Delvron's feet did not touch the floor as his magnificent angelic wings lifted him swiftly above the cold stone slightly ahead of his compatriots. A swarm of Barbazu and Cornugon poured into the room behind them. The Cornugon, massive winged beasts that they were, streaked over the frothing beared fiends and closed in fast on the righteous trio. Delvron flew over the edge of the shaft, furling his wings as his momentum launched him past the massive central chains. He reached one muscled arm to catch on and slingshotted around and down its tremendous length. He disappeared from view just as Greywolff also launched himself over the rim and caught all the chains in his oversized reach and began to slide down behind his friend. Badwanis, risking one final look before leaping over the edge, began to twist and change in midair, his body lengthening in some places and shortening in others as his silver-blue fur disappeared from his canine body once his more lithe elven shape once more became prominent. He grabbed at the chains as Delvron had done and slid down behind Greywoff, spinnning and turning with his momentum in a dazzling gymnastic display that would have had onlookers stunned should any have been present to appreciate it. The ocean of fiends converged at the edge of the shaft and though a few spilled over and tumbled to their doom, their advance halted abruptly.

Delvron stood at the bottom when Greywolff and Badwanis joined him, his blades in hand and his neck craned up to peer up the five hundred foot long shaft they had just descended.

"They're not following," he said simply. "Why?"

Movement whispered suddenly from the shadows and a single being approached them. He was shaped like a man but his entire body glistened with obsidian-like chitin. His legs were long and thick and and seemed to have the shape and form of a powerfully muscled man, but the flesh was hard and unyielding like the carapace of some blackened beetle. His chest seemed similarly chiseled like some perfect statue of an obsidian man, rippling with the shape and form of some muscular man but without the substance of his flesh. His face appeared human but was similarly hard and nearly rock-like and a hard substance formed over his head which resembled a helmet but which evidently was a part of him. Four arm protruded from his sides, two of which held a long staff hewn of some black metal which twisted and converged as it reached the tip to form a deadly-looking glaive. The man-like being must have stood at least nine feet tall and he towered over four creatures who flanked him to either side who resembled him but had a somewhat less human gait to them. The four creatures who flanked him appeared decidedly more insectile and had large mandible where a man's mouth would be but otherwise seemed identical to their leader.

"K-k-k-k... They do not k-k-k-k dare encroach upon the k-k-k-k realm of Dzidvidzias! K-k-k-k."

The man spoke in a high pitch tone and his words stuttered occasionally with a subvocal "K" sound that was not unlike the chittering of some insects. His yellow eyes shone in the darkness and as he took a single step towards the companions, a smiled stretched over his hardened features leaving an expression that would have been comical were the rest of his appearance not so fearsome.

"K-k-k we have been seeking k-k-k to expel them from our home k-k-k for some time now k-k-k but we are running short of power k-k-k. Perhaps we could k-k-k help each other? k-k-k?

That is how Delvron, Greywolff and Badwanis met Dzidvidzias and secured an alliance that would one day help fortify the north from tyranny forever.



The weight of the world pressed in on her and bent her normally defiant shoulders in on themselves as she walked with her head bent low. The breeze pressed against her olive cheeks and caused wild tangles of her hair to dance around her head as she advanced. She felt the weight of her bow against her shoulder and drew some comfort from its touch. She felt the flow of life as it seeped into her but more even perhaps than this, she felt the closeness of her sisters through the implements of death she had crafted from their living trees. She heard whispers of their voices in her head and lost herself in vivid dreams of better times and far off places. One thought kept her going, one resolute thread bound her now to reality. She would find the gentle Troll and bury him and then she would seek revenge or die trying. She became suddenly vaguely cognizant that the landscape had changed. The narrow pass out of her valley was sparsely inhabited by ancient oak trees near the mouth of the channel through the mountains, but soon the short and rotund deciduous oaks gave way to the more native and tall spruce varieties more common for this northern latitude. Still the dark clouds loomed above and the usual shrubbery that normally flanked this path lay black and withered in the filthy snow. She saw strange plants she had never seen before. They stood nearly four feet tall and resembled, at least in shape, a sunflower, but instead of resplendent yellow petals, their pinnacle was a blackened twisted mass of tentacles that withered and seemed to cling down the length of their long stems. When she approached, the long tendrils sprung to life and began to unfurl and reach for her. She gave the strange plants a wide berth, sensing that nothing natural pulsed within their fetid depths. She felt the cold fingers of winter grasp at her and held what clothing she had salvaged from her sister's cache to find what warmth she could and she continued on. Soon the blackened alien plants dominated the path entirely and Nolia found herself seeking to avoid them. She leaped onto the air itself and found a higher ledge some way up the mountain and used that higher vantage to make her way further out from the former sanctuary of her valley. Her friend, who had been following some steps behind, looked up at her and whinnied softly. His alabaster horn glowed for the barest moment before he blinked out of existence and appeared behind her on her narrow ledge. Nolia nodded and as she continued east he followed her.

An hour later, three days after leaving her valley, she found them.



The sounds of the northern forest were still conspicuously absent as the Guardians allowed themselves to be siphoned by the terrain in a west-by-north-western direction, the mountains to the west and south pressing on them with increasing persistence as their way drew ever closer to their ultimate destination. It was not long before the way became barely wide enough for two to walk abreast as the rushing waters of the Northvalian river pressed on them from the north and the sheer cliff face of the mountain funneled them from the south. Darkness also pressed down on them then. Though it was barely afternoon by the time they reached the pathway along the river, black and purple clouds began to loom over them soaking up all ambient light like some malevolent sponge in the roiling skies. The soft and pliant snow soon yielded to a much harder and far more treacherous covering of glistening ice and when the group had barely ventured twenty steps onto the changed terrain, Mikhaëla slipped quite suddenly and disastrously on the slippery sheen. She fell onto her side, dropping her Ashanderei and was about to careen carelessly off the side of the sheer cliff and into the frothing waters below when Kurrhaaagn's long and powerful arm shot out and caught her ankle before she could plunge to her frosty end. A cry erupted suddenly from above them.

"Kurrhaaagn! You're alive!"

The Guardians looked up to be greeted by one of the strangest sights they had ever seen. A woman with wild and verdant hair stood on a narrow ledge with skin quite nearly as olive as her hair and in her hands she held a bow that seemed shaped from a living tree. Behind her, navigating the treacherously narrow ledge, was a magnificent white steed with a single pearlescent horn gracing the center of its forehead. A luscious mane framed both sides of its handsome equine face and when Kurrhaaagn roared his greeting the Unicorn reared back onto his hind legs and whinnied a greeting as suffused with joy as such a one could muster. Kurrhaaagn launched himself forward, extending his arms wide as if to embrace her and the wild woman leaped from her perch and into his arms and the gentle Troll caught her easily and twirled in a comical circle as he embraced her.

"Nolia! Nolia! Nolia!"

When the Troll at last stopped his twirling and set her gently on the ground, large wet tears streamed down his ugly face, but because these tears were tears of joy, he became beautiful to everyone who witnessed them.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:54 PM
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Nolia's entire world had narrowed down to the single step in front of her, the hunt for tracks and the weary watch of a world she no longer understood. What ought to have been plants of life, to have been things she might speak and dance with, were of taint and ruin. What should have been soft songs of birds, the cries of creatures, was empty, hollow and broken, save the soft rustle of she and Calonfawr as they sought the last of the Grove's defenders. An honourable burial, she must, it was the only thing outside of revenge which drew the slender Dryad onward. At some point it would be likely that the creature would wonder why illness, sickness did not descend upon her once more on her as she vacated the grove, left the ruins of her tree behind her, but for the moment, even that had slipped her mind.

If not for Calonfawr, the darkness might have claimed Nolia, the despair and sorrow might have consumed her, but she was not entirely alone, not yet at least. The whispers of her sisters kept her company as well, had she been aware of the concept, she might have feared madness, but instead Nolia whispered back her assurances that she would not fail them, spoke to them of the brighter days, of laughter and joy, though not in true words, but soft murmurs, small sounds of the slight woodland creatures, for true words were lost to her now.

When the ground could no longer be traversed in safety, she took to the cliffs above, the rock face and inhospitable crags, the wind and air her salve as with relief, Nolia realized that Calonfawr could follow her here too. Three days, three nights, all had blended together in a hazed whorl of murky skies and numbed senses. It could not be much further that poor Kurrhaaagn could have made it with the sheer number of creatures that had carried him away, and then she would return, past the warped flowers and dead world, to the mines where the man-kind had gone, follow in their steps and bring death in her wake.

Broken, defeated and shattered, it was a soft whisper, slight jolt from the wooden bracelet which now encircled her wrist, or perhaps it was a light murmur from the arrows nestled against her back, whichever it had been, the wood spoke and drew Nolia from her introspective muse. Olive eyes dulled and reddened fluttered wide with unadulterated shock and disbelief. A gasp, her teeth bit into her lower lip to bid her wake, and when the pain altered nothing, Nolia threw herself into the air, down toward the sight of one she had assumed dead, one she had sought out to honour his sacrifice.

She was not alone!

"Kurrhaaagn! You're alive!" The words came out in a howled cry from a voice not used in days save to voice the sobs of grief. Rasped and cracked, still they carried with them a sound of delight, disbelief and relief all coiled into the three words. To any that watched, it was a heedless drop from a height that might kill or maim any who fell it, but the creature, the viridian woman dropped into Kurrhaaagn's arms and began to laugh even as the troll spun her about. The sound was raw, wild and edged with near hysteria as Nolia fought back against the tears which sought to stain her cheeks anew.

Slender fingers cupped the troll's cheeks, all the smaller for the size of the 'man' as Nolia drew herself in, a soft kiss for his forehead before she squirmed out of his grip and clambered on to his shoulder to perch there as if it was the most natural thing in the world for a Dryad to be seated on the shoulder of a Troll. Nolia tilted her head as she looked down upon the rest as if she saw them for the first time. A quizzical expression remained as she pursed her lips and wrinkled her nose. Adèlédané had been the one to greet, had met the mans and spoke with them. The thought brought a small wince of pain as Nolia dipped her head and tried to think back, think past the blood, the violence, back to when the quartet, or first the trio had arrived.

Clothing. That part had remained in the forefront of her mind, but this time Nolia was dressed. Granted while she wore boots and a cloak, beneath was merely a simple simple shift which only covered the girl to mid thigh and left bare, olive toned flesh from mid thigh to just below her knee. A satchel over her back, a bow of twisted wood, a form such that any eye might see it had not been whittled and forced to its shape, but coaxed and created. It was her hair, outside of the skin tone, which might stand out the most though. Browns and golds, olive, greens and dappled shades of the forest all coiled about her head. Locks of hair seemed utterly intermingled with chaotic vines and small buds that one might suspect could even bloom into flowers, though at the moment, there were none to confirm the thought.

So yes, Nolia was dressed, what then had her sister done? Nolia's head tilted back the other way as her gaze flitted from one to another. Ah the giving of names! "I am Nolia, the radiant one is Calonfawr." More words to add to her broken silence, the sound of her voice still rasped and scratched, a throat marred by sobs, screams and silence. At this awkward greeting the Dryad fell silent once more. Her sister had touched the mans, but Nolia was not entirely sure she wanted to do that, perhaps that had only been for greeting within the Grove, or at least Nolia hoped it was. The others, even if they were strangers, were with Kurrhaaagn, they were not demons, it seemed, at least for the moment, Nolia could even consider that finally she and Calonfawr were safer than they had been in months.


 

Last edited by Kapera; 05-29-2018 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 05-30-2018, 01:45 AM
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As the Guardians set off again, Winter walked quietly alongside Lena. While it was true they were reinvigorated from Leilani's magic, it was still difficult work trudging through the snow. Not for the first time, Winter cursed herself for not having boots designed for the snowy north, but she hadn't planned on staying long when she came back to these lands.

When Mikhaela slipped, it took Winter a moment to be pulled out of her thoughts, and she started reaching for her magic out of instinct. She knew she could slow the Dhampir's fall, but was wondering whether she should try to catch up or create a ledge underneath her, when Kurrhaaagn reached out and latched onto the woman. Winter let go of her magic and let out a sigh of relief, and that was when the voice called out from above. Again, she instinctively reached for her magic before it registered in her mind what this new woman was saying, and she watched in fascination as the dryad and the troll were reunited. They certainly made for quite a sight, but then again, looking around at their group, the sorceress chuckled. It would be difficult to come up with a more diverse group if they tried.

Then she heard the whinnying and looked up to a beautiful sight, immediately identifying the daybreak unicorn. She had read about them, but never even dared hope to see one. She heard the woman introduce themselves, then took an involuntary step forward. "Sylvan: Magnificent. It's a pleasure to meet you, Calonfawr.Magnífico. É un pracer coñecelo, Calonfawr." She didn't think of the change in language, Common just seemed too crass of a language to use to speak to such a splendid creature. She stared up at it, wanting so much just to get closer and run her fingers through its mane, before suddenly coming back to the current moment. She looked up at Nolia, perched so comfortably on the troll's shoulder, the dryad? Certainly she knew something of her kind, but she felt like the shock of seeing Calonfawr had short-circuited her mind.

Still, she noticed Nolia's unease with the social situation and spoke again, this time to the dryad. "It's nice to meet the both of you. My name is Winter, and if you're a friend to this big softie," she nodded to Kurrhaaagn with a fond smile, "then you're a friend to us as well. This," she said, stretching a hand out to scratch the tiger's head, "This is my darling Lena."


 

 
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Old 06-01-2018, 06:42 PM
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Aira RuAira smiled and thanked the half angel after being renewed of vigor. She was glad that Leilani was with them. Not only was she pleasant to be around, but also her healing magics were welcomed and very much needed.

Aira walked alongside the group as the guardians pressed on. With four large legs and sharp claws, it was easier to traverse the ice and snow than many of the others. Even though she was more then capable of walking, Aira periodically look up into the sky yearning. After all, the skies is where she felt at home the most.

For Aira, there was nothing greater than flying freely in the skies, except perhaps a festival buffet. She gently licked her lips as she was thinking about a nice hot buffet.

However, those thoughts quickly ended as the cold wind blew and darkness rolled in with it. Aira's eyes seemed to glow as they began to turn a deep red hue, adjusting to the new conditions. A large huff of steam exhaled with each breath she took. These were tell tale signs that her draconic senses were taking over due to the lack of light and visibility.

Keeping an eye on the group to ensure their safety, she could see Winter struggle a bit as they continued their march. Aira moved over to Winter, lowering her head down to talk. If your tired and Lena here don't mind. Hop on up. I can carry you. she smiled at them and lowered a wing for Winter to hop up if she wanted.

Several hours passed. Mikhaëla almost met a tragic, chilly end as the Guardians came across Nolia and Calonfawr. Looking up at the new comers, the Aira is a large dragon, weighing over 2,500lbs with an overall length of 31', her body is 11' long with a 9' long neck, her tail reaches a length up to 11' and the width of her body at approximately 5'. Aira stands at a height of 7', her wing span covers 45' with a minimum span of 18'. Her scales are mostly silver with some slightly blue-gray highlights that shows she is still young. At first glance, she appears very similar to the white dragon. However, her wings are more curved than a white's and she has two talons on her wings rather than a single talon that most dragons have.

The biggest sign of her heritage is the beautiful frill that begins at the top of her head and flows all the way down her neck and body to the tip of the tail. The frill is silver towards the body, fading to a purple hue at the edge.

Aira has two long, smooth silver horns with black tips, pointing up and back from the head with a pronounced sharp frill under the chin that resembles a goatee.
large dragon nods in agreement with Winter. Winter is correct. Well met friends. I am Shadrevaena, but most call me Aira. she smiled.

 

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Old 06-12-2018, 08:12 AM
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Nunataq followed the lead of the troll, relishing the progress they had made. They had come farther than the first group, and were not yet slain- and this time, they had the magic of a benevolent goddess with them. It would be interesting to see how that tipped the scales.

The druid moved quietly and easily over the snow, never losing his footing or missing a beat- though he recognized the difficulty for the others, and helped where he could, giving an encouraging push or a stabilizing arm where he could. He was grateful for Kuraghn's assistance when Mikhaela fell- they were becoming quite the self-sufficient troupe. He did not think it likely they would add more strength to their numbers- until, of course, they found those they were looking for. And that is when he was surprised by the appearance of a Dryad.

Nunataq stared at her, somewhat pole-axed, to the point of impropriety- luckily, she broke that contest first, by jumping into the arms of a troll.

When their display was done, Nunataq was smiling brightly, with a glistening of tears upon his cheek. He felt an unbridled joy at their reunion, and happiness for them both. Concern though, reasserted itself in a few moments.

When she introduced herself, and the others followed suit, he hung back a moment before moving forward and bowing. "I am Nunataq." He did not change languages; he saw she had spoken in Common, and so he followed suit. He felt it was only polite.
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Old 06-14-2018, 05:33 AM
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Mitah was worried about Khole. Not about the distraction now, for he saw that Khole could focus and trust the team to each do their part. But rather, he worried about control. Khole was capable of great destruction, the elements stirred at his thought and he drew both sacred and profane energies. Khole himself worried about such a loss of control, which is why he either hunted with Mitah only or took on a support roll, spreading his magics across a group took such concentration that it kept him focused and pushed all other considerations aside. But between Winter and their almost constant action since joining this group Khole was forced to kill again and again and then tempted by Winter but also watch as her affections spread around all equally. it was enough to make anyone unbalanced, but one such as Khole, with a painful past and vast power was extremely dangerous. So Mitah kept an eye on his master/teacher/friend once the battle had ended, but he still seemed reserved. He had flown up to Winter and the simple query after her health was obvious, but otherwise he stayed in the air, keeping himself distracted.



Khole was alert for further enemy action, this evil place had managed to surprise them again and again despite them all being ready and actively on the lookout for threats so Khole was taking no chances. He wanted to be by Winter, and he hoped she understood the conflict inside him, but his first priority had to be perimeter defense and early warning. Something drove the big troll here, and with how easily he dispatched those creatures that had imprisoned Aira, Khole was equal parts eager and fearful of facing something like that. He recognized the the way battle was forging him, he was shooting faster and more eagerly, drawing on his abilities for destruction deeper and deeper, what would that make of him? Khole promised himself time to consider such things the next time they camped, but for now he strained all his senses to their utmost. He was one of the first to notice the approaching figure, and while he did draw a bead on it just in case, he had a gut instinct it was unnecessary. Maybe it was the way the mount seemed to blend into the snow and almost shimmer in the light, or maybe it was the cool tones of the rider....or maybe it was the defeat and despair in it's posture, Khole knew that feeling all too well. When it revealed itself as a unicorn and dryad Khole began to relax, and when she threw herself into the arms of the monster Khole finally let go of his suspicions of that one too. With a last hard flap of his wings, Khole pulled them back into his coat and fell back to the earth beside Mitah.



Mitah was captivated by the approaching unicorn. Such beauty, oh my people, this is why I left. He smiled a genuine smile at the sight and it only broadened when the troll spun the little woman around. Their obvious joy was infectious and Mitah found himself chuckling out loud for the first time in days. Joy may be in the ears that hear, but let my eyes drink in sights like this for the rest of my days and I will die happy. The soft crunch next to him indicated Khole had come back to the ground finally. And Mitah couldn't help but look down at his little friend and his serious expression. I wonder how Khole would react is I did to him what the troll just did with the....woodfolk? The idea made him grin and his gaze lingered for a moment. Khole must have felt it because Mitah got a feeling of inquiry from Khole but his eyes were locked on the newcomers. Nothing my friend, let us go introduce ourselves lest we appear rude. It'll be good for you to have your feet on the ground for a while. Mitah walked up, not near as big or imposing out of his armor, but still impressive with his flesh and crystal appearance. Greetings Nolia, Mitah nodded his head to the unicorn, Calonfawr. My name is Mitah and this... He gestures to his side but there is a pop of displaced air and Khole is gone.



Khole was only half paying attention when something caught his eye, a twist of wood and a small bulge that could only be a bow and quiver. Looking around to make sure he wasn't noticed, Khole pulled on the smallest bit of his magic and slid across the distance in the blink of and eye. From where had had come he heard Mitah's sigh and realized Mitah had been going through introductions. He looked up from his study of Nolia's backside and gave a small smile and shrug to Mitah before continuing his examination of the bow. ...well...that is Khole. Mitah said it with the long suffering tone of someone used to the erratic nature of dealing with the fey. Khole tapped the dryad on the shoulder and when he had her attention a Khole firing an arrow, a feeling of curiosity, Nolia and Khole trading bows, a feeling of challenge, hazy image of Nolia firing a bow with a feeling of skepticism, Image of Mitah crafting his bow, image of Nolia's bow in a workshop with a feeling of questioningstring of images and feelings flowed from him in a short burst, before he cut them off, furrowed his brow and the words come to Nolia in her mind laced with a feeling of curiosity, Where...the bow...come from?
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Old 06-14-2018, 08:26 PM
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There was a moment of elation and relief as those who seemed to accompany the troll had responded to her the same way the men-kind had in the Grove. She had done right, she had remembered the right words to say! From a moment of awkward concern to a bright smile, the expression seemed to re-illuminate the Dryad's face as she looked from one to the next, her lips moved in time with the names offered her. At hearing her natural tongue spoken, Nolia's eyes had sparkled, a small giggle from her lips as the woman's accent was not quite that which she was use to, the thought that such a thing might be rude was never considered. A glance to Calonfawr with a small nod that sent the vines and coils of her hair into a wild sway about her shoulders as she took in how her dear companion took to the greeting as well.

For Winter, it seemed Nolia was most interested at first with Lena, the pure delight evident in the realization that such a creature traveled with the woman. It had been months since Nolia had seen any other fauna outside of Calonfawr, and that alone had gladdened her heart and offered a small salve to the pain within. It was not the feline though that kept Nolia's attention returning to Winter as the rest of the names listed, but something else, something deeper. Nolia could not place it, nor identify it, this Winter was not kin, not sister nor Dryad, but there was a familiarity which almost made the slight creature drop from her perch and dare to actually touch the non-man, man-kind.

As for Aira, she was not the first dragon Nolia had seen, though the first she had actually met, for most had kept to the skies in the times they had passed over the grove. Curious but hesitant, a part of her mind whispered warning, but then had she thought the creature cuddly, that would have been far more unlikely than the wary smile offered. The dragon appeared to be friends, thus it was enough for Nolia.

For Nunataq, Nolia nearly did leap down as her muscles tensed a moment to do just that. She could sense something very familiar about him, it was akin to Willow's own life force, and only her hesitance as to just what she ought to do kept her back from the desire to examine just why he felt like her sister. A flicker of her gaze between Winter and Nunataq and back again, each seemed to be so familiar even though neither looked like anything which had been in the Grove before, save the man-kinds who had been and gone. It did ease her mind though, even if she was not aware of the subtle change, to be so close to creatures so touched by the Mother.

The trouble was there were so many of them, was this how the man-kinds had felt, when the Dryad's had surrounded them? Nolia started to think that they had been far braver than she felt now. A small surge of wild panic, a whisper to flee as for a moment her expression flitted to wary alertness. It was cut short with Mitah's introduction, and while Mitah was indeed an odd creature and being to most, to Nolia he was no stranger than Winter or Nunataq, for all were new to her previously sheltered life. It was the other whom Mitah sought to introduce that provided the only true shock.

An introduction, a halted one as he seemed to motion to a place where none might be found and then a presence at her back. Nolia startled, her eyes widened as a wild hiss slipped from her lips, the sound feral and wild as her attention narrowed on Khole alone. Images struck her mind, pictures, thoughts, the two mingled in a manner such that she was well accustomed to, but not quite in the manner and topic thrust upon her. The hiss gave way to an expression of blank confusion which only deepened when images and feeling shifted to words within her mind.

The trees might talk in such a way, share their thoughts with one who offered to listen, but this, it, he was not a tree? "Mine!" The single word came out in a sharp, near desperate tone as Nolia snatched the bow tight against her chest, olive eyes fixated on Khole, her brow furrowed in confusion. "Mine, my tree, my sisters, is mine, I sang it, I asked it to be!" Words tumbled out in a panic, the careful Common of before more broken this time and alluded it to not being her natural tongue and possibly not one she used often.

A small shudder as she took a breath and shifted on the troll's shoulder before she stepped off into the air. Three steps down on invisible stairs brought her to the ground where Nolia slowly turned around to look at them all from her lowered position. It was Khole she looked to last as she finished the secondary examination, the bow still tight to her chest. This time her voice was soft, hesitant and shy as she looked down at the wild shaped wood in her hands. "This is Ira."


 

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Old 06-19-2018, 11:42 PM
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Winter watched the various emotions pass across Nolia's face as she interacted with each of the Guardians. It seemed the dryad wore her emotions on her sleeve, and the sorceress wondered if that was more a quality of her kind or an individual personality trait. She saw the dryad's eyes linger on Lena in delight, the interest as she looked at Nunataq, and her wariness at viewing some of the others. Then Khole suddenly appeared behind Nolia and Winter winced. Can he not see her discomfort? she thought, even as the dryad hissed and clutched her bow to her bosom.

After she descended to the ground, Winter nudged Lena and whispered, "Go, say hi to her." Lena gracefully moved forward, slowly, and stretched out her nose to gently nuzzle Nolia's arm. Winter stayed where she was, not wanting to overwhelm the woman. "Forgive us Nolia, we mean no harm nor disrespect to you or yours. I cannot speak for the others in this, but I'm afraid I am woefully unfamiliar with your ways. I can see that Ira is dear to you, and your connection to Gaia is beautiful. Though I do not wish to make you uncomfortable, I would be happy to learn from you and to speak with you. Finding you and Calonfawr is a bright moment in these dark times. I hope we can be friends," she finished with a warm smile.


 

 
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Old 06-20-2018, 11:59 AM
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Khole was familiar with aggressive actions, and he felt none from this new creature. The hiss was unexpected, as was the rather vehement proclamation of ownership. He sent a feeling of confusion and raised his hands in a clear sign of peace. As she explained the bows origin Khole's brow furrowed and he looked to Mitah, the question clear on his face, accented by a qwirked eyebrow. Mitah though had eyes only for the majestic and beautiful creature as he understood the fullness of what she implied. Oh my lady I am sorry. Please be welcome among us. We each have come from disparate beginnings but have found a close fellowship. I know it cannot replace, he glances to the bow and the trees around him, your family, but you need not be alone. He smiles at her as Lena trots up and nuzzles the girl. As winter has said, I too hope we can be friends.

Khole draws his bow slowly and holds it so Nolia can see. The first picture to come is one of Mitah with a knife carving what looks to be an unfinished bow. The images blurs for a moment and he is working a whitish substance onto a finished piece of the wood from the earlier vision. As his hands work over the length of the unfinished bow, more and more of the almost white material is secured to the inner curve. Several quick pictures of Mitah gently working a series of carving tools over the front can be seen before he affixes a material over the front. Finally an image of Mitah chanting over the bow, and it glowing. Khole waits for a moment before pointing the bow away from the group and waving his hand where the drawstring should be, showing there is nothing. Then in a deliberate motion he draws back revealing a string and arrow made of light before slowly releasing the pressure. He holds the bow up once more and a single word comes to Nolia, Ulka Followed by the image of a shooting star.
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Old 06-23-2018, 09:19 PM
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Khole had startled her, more so the interest in her bow had set the slight Dryad into a momentary panic until she realized that the creature had no interest in taking it from her, but seemed to actually be interested in it. Granted this was not what she initially realized, instead there was discomfort and confusion as she sought the ground and clutched her bow tightly to her chest, eyes wide and alarmed. The non-man man kind who seemed much like her sisters had spoken, the words took a moment for Nolia to understand in her moment of overwhelmed sensations. Words that meant much, a reassurance, and one that was strengthened as the tiger approached her. A small sigh of unrestrained delight as Nolia buried her face a moment on the head of the magnificant creature.

This, this was something she knew and understood, it seemed it had been so long since Nolia had any contact with any fauna outside of Calonfawr, and wide, olive eyes looked up to Winter with near tears in them as she eased one hand from her bow and stroked Lena's shoulders. Maybe they were not as scary as she had thought they might be.

The tall man-kind who was not man, Mitah he had called himself, seemed to understand as well, and as he too spoke, Nolia dared a small smile once more, shy and cautious, but the wildness seemed to fade once more in her glances from Winter to Mitah and then to Khole, the last still with a measure of confusion. The confusion only deepened further when the images, the words poured into her mind again. The trouble was, the creature called Khole was clearly not a tree, nor a flower, but still, it sounded much the same.

This time she did not panic though and tentatively held out her own bow that all could see it, her left hand still stroking Lena's back, the motion now one of obvious self-soothing more than attentive to the feline. "Sylvan: Wrath and TearsIra e'Begoas" The phrase was spoken as a name, a title for the weapon she now held out for them all. The rest she sought to reach out, respond in kind to the creature called Khole. The images which flowed forth were nothing like that which had been shared with her, and indeed, had she given them words, it might have rendered the slight creature to tears once more.

An image of a grove of mighty trees flowed back toward Khole then rapidly crumbled into a grove of ruin and desolation, the might trees now shattered and destroyed with darkness and decay consuming the place. There was only Nolia in the middle, nude, mud and ash covered. It flickered from the moment to that of her kneeling before a cracked and broken ruin of a great tree, the top felled and the signs of rot and taint evident as it fought to devour the remnants of the tree. A sensation of song, of coaxing and the release of a portion from the very tree's trunk fell into Nolia's hand as she had stroked the rough bark. A glimpse of Nolia as she wretched in agony, as if the wood had been excised from her own flesh faded into one of her as she caressed the wood, shaped it by touch and voice alone and the vines which coiled within her skin merged with those which flowed through the wood. A final image of her kneeling before another ruined husk of a tree, the flicker of the shape of an arrow in her hand before the link dropped.

It was not quite the same as when she bespoke the trees, the flora of her grove, but it had been similar enough. Tears had sprung back into her eyes once more though as she turned back to the others, keenly aware suddenly that the silence felt odd. "Only death ahead, I do not need to give final honours to Kurrhaaagn, just to give final vengeance for my sisters. Turn back, there is only the demons where you try to go." They must not know where they had headed, had the lovely simple troll even told them what was this way? Nolia suspected not, but she could warn the man-kinds away from their deaths such that the other man-kinds had surely met.

 

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Old 07-13-2018, 02:51 PM
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Mitah felt a warm flutter when the dryad smiled at him shyly. She was beautiful and wild and passionate and Mitah couldn't help but feel a spark. Such a woman would make even my people look twice. But of course thinking of his people soured his mood every time. He took a step back to make sure the skittish girl....he mentally diminished her so as to control himself better....didn't feel pressed. Noticing her comfort with the animals and the crazy light that ignited when other spoke to her Mitah knew she would need time to adjust. This made her connection with the troll very interesting to him. Was it because trolls were more animal than cultured? Did they meet when he was wounded and thus she felt more comfortable in power? Or does it have to do with the story of her bow, there was something there and Mitah hoped she would share eventually, but it seemed likely she would travel with them for a time so Mitah was willing to wait. Khole however, was not. Mitah almost felt embarrassed as he showed the bow and images of Mitah's work on it. He wasn't embarrassed with the work itself, after all it was a masterpiece, but to have it presented before one of the woodborn who carried a bow she sang from the wood, Mitah felt inadequate.

Watching her, Mitah found his eyes drifting along her curves and admiring the lean toughness of her build. He even enjoyed her skittishness, the way it caused her muscles to bunch and Mitah noted that she had the beginnings of a warrior's instincts. But more than anything else, Mitah enjoyed her curiosity. Khole was strange to even the most "normal" of people but to one born of plants and given a human-like form Khole had to be strange, especially when you add in he mental communion. Despite her worry her eyes kept drifting back to him, perhaps noting the tangle of Tillandsia that served as hair and fell down to his shoulders, or trying to catch another glimpse of his petal wings. Whatever it was, Nolia clearly struggled to understand what Khole was and Mitah found it adorable. And then something changed. Mitah had been with Khole long enough to notice the quirks of someone sharing mental communion, but it was rare for Mitah to not be included in such since mostly it was Khole who did it, but Nolia seemed to be doing something now, and it was affecting Khole.



As the images unfolded for him, Khole had to fight back memories of his own. Though Mitah and Winter and all the rest had suffered, here was one who had suffered almost exactly as he had. Seeing the images and feeling the emotions attached to them moved Khole in a way little else could. When Winter shared her story, Khole was moved, but words and images were a poor conductor for such sharings, as proven later when she managed to make a mental connection later, but Khole was adept at filling in the gaps himself. But here, the emotion, the pain were both internal and external and Khole saw it as though from two sets of eyes. In one he watched this unfold for her, he felt anger when she was sad, and sad when she was in pain, and pain when she was alone; Khole knew all too well how such events could break you down as a person and marveled at how functional she was considering how recent the memories felt. But with the other set of eyes he saw it happening to him. He watched the death of his grove, the discovery of the mighty tree tainted and ruined, and the agony of being alone, only pieces of the past to hold on to. Khole felt the urge to go to her and hug her, take as much of her pain on himself as he could and help release her to live free of the burden that came with such pain. But Khole knew that wasn't possible so he stood rigid and he resolved everything in his mind.

The images fade and she gives her warning to the others and Khole reaches out and mentally taps her shoulder, a feeling of anticipation an image of a small wave. When she looked back to him Khole, face clearly warring with the emotion within, held out a small hand palm up toward her. He saw the hand in Lena's fur tense and the panic look that crossed her face, clearly none of this was familiar to her, but Khole didn't move or beckon, just remained still, holding out his hand. Tentatively, she reached out, arm moving erratically and hand shaking as it neared his. She paused just before contact, hand curling back before she steadied herself and lightly rested the tips of her fingers against his. For a moment there was nothing, Khole didn't move and he still was working through the pain, but then he closed his eyes and took a deep slow breath in. All other sound seemed to drop away until Khole's exhale was like a gale blowing through the trees and Nolia felt she might be blow away. There was a sensation of flying and then there was darkness.

Mental SharingIn the darkness there was a single point of light. It seemed very small, but quickly it becomes obvious it's just far away as it comes closer and closer. The light is piercingly bright, almost bright as the sun in this place of darkness, but as it gets closer, you can see it isn't one light but two, closely twined together. The point of light suddenly shoots straight up in a beam resembling the trunk of a tree and begins to branch off, other shafts of light erupt from the darkness, some similar to the first, some different, but forming a grove of it's own. The lights fade and reveal a peaceful forest with many people just like Khole flitting around. For a time there is nothing but peace and calm then a shadowy noose begins to slowly close around the forest. From the shadow steps a monster of a man in black armor, his laughter setting fire, and each sweep of his blade cutting down a tree and causing a light to go out. There is a panicked rush away from the darkness and fire and once more there is darkness, but this time there is a red light coming from up above. The light drip drip drips down into the darkness and you feel the warmth and stickiness of the light and hear the sounds of weeping and pain. The red light is torn away and the man from the darkness looks down, laughing once more, red light wrapped around his blade.

And then......Silence.....

When the darkness fades a third time the view is of from a high place, cold and wet and bright, painful and beautiful. The images flicker now, one of young Khole holding a sword, one of Khole screaming in rage surrounded by an aura of power, beasts and monsters falling to arrow or blade and then the images settle on a younger Mitah in bed and injured. Khole's small hand pushes him back down as he tries to get up and he walks out the door. The yells of terror become clearer as hulking figures enter the town. The vision focuses on the one nearest an innocent and there is the soft hiss of a drawn blade and the image blinks appearing with the blade in the back of it's neck. And though the image continues to blink, it feels like one continuous view, each time ending with a dead monster or appearing between a monster and an innocent. The exhaustion is palpable as the final one falls but Khole starts to walk out of the town. There is a sound of big feet and Khole looks up to see Mitah following him. The image fades and then you see Winter and Aira around a fire with Khole and Mitah, a feeling of warmth and sharing, a flicker of Winter in front of illusory images.

Then the image flies straight up, only instead of getting farther away the images takes on a smoky ring and other images both seen and not can be seen, more and more piling up seemingly forming a shape and as your view pulls further and further back you see it's Khole, full of memories, full of pain but still Khole. In all the places with the most pain, there are golden threads leading images of Mitah, those they had saved, and even more than a few connecting to Winter.


The sensation of Khole's hand sliding gently across Nolia's snaps the mental images and Khole clasps her hand for a moment. Their eyes meet and Khole's are red and wet, he didn't just share it, he relived it. A single tear runs down his cheek and then amazingly, he smiles. Loneliness is destruction. Friends help. Would those that loved you and still do wish destruction upon you? Khole releases her hand and Mitah comes up behind him. He kneels down, eyes flowing with tears of his own, he turns the small man and crushes him in a hug and Khole gladly returns it.
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