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Old Dec 3rd, 2020, 05:39 AM
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South, across the Middle Sea

Prologue: The Tower of Scaled Fellowship

"You may rise." Queen Mwato Yaav turned from the kneeling man and moved slowly down the ancient stone hall; a bold move in a city where succession to the throne could only be achieved by assassination. The significance of this fact was not lost on Aleh Koumbii. Mwato was establishing her dominance, showing Aleh that she considered him beneath concern. Someday that will prove fatal.

But for now, Aleh Koumbii rose and fell into step obediently beside and slightly behind his queen. They continued down the hall in silence. Aleh’s mind wandered, remembering a time when Mwato Yaav was a beautiful young acolyte in the church, and he was her mentor...and more. Those were dangerous memories. She was no longer that woman. Aleh stole a glance to his right at Mwato’s bare, smooth shoulder, then traced the graceful lines down the small of her back to…

Aleh shuddered. She was definitely no longer the same woman. Perhaps when the transformation was complete...but no. She was touched by the gods. By the greatest god of them all, just like her predecessors.

"Do you still pray for me, Aleh?" Mwato’s voice had become so much harsher over the past two decades.

"Of course, my queen," Aleh answered, his own voice a practiced, measured tone. "I seek all blessings for you, and your people. And those prayers are answered."

Mwato did not acknowledge the compliment. She glided along the impossibly smooth stone floor, leading Aleh Koumbii through an ornately formed archway into another chamber. It was darker in here. Aleh’s old eyes were slow to adjust, but he knew where they were. He could feel them watching him from the shadowy alcoves of the circular room. His own soft footsteps were swallowed up by the thick carpet that covered the floor here. The queen moved to the center of the room and settled onto a cushioned couch, reclining her scantily clad torso over the only arm of the strange piece of furniture. Her...tail...writhed up onto the cushions and coiled alongside her. Blessed by the gods as she was now, Aleh could not help but lament the beautiful ebony legs he had once admired.

"And what of Oghassa? Do you pray for her also?" A chorus of hissing seemed to rise up from the darkened reaches of the room, the sources obscured by heavy draperies and shadow. "Is that why you cross the river together, Aleh? To pray?"

Aleh’s mouth was so dry. He licked his lips and looked to the sides, expecting the terrors from behind the curtains to strike at any second!

When that didn’t happen, he looked back at Mwato Yaav. She waited expectantly for an answer. "Oghassa Ulfa is Greatest Memory, my queen. I serve Dyjj, and so I serve her, just as I serve you. The people are blessed by the throne, and by the Coil."

The queen’s tail flicked menacingly. "Do not hide behind your faith, Aleh!" Her words trailed off in a hiss. "I knew you before you were Voice." The coils of Mwato’s tail began to shift and writhe in anticipation. With her human arms she gestured around them to the dark alcoves. "The Council senses treachery beyond the walls!" The hissing chorus rose to a crescendo! Screaming whispers echoed in Aleh’s ears...and mind! Words formed in the darkness as he shut his eyes against the dark horror, praying for the strength to withstand what he knows is coming. Mwato Yaav’s voice is distant through the serpentine din, but through the building pain, he could hear her shouting at him! "What do you know, Aleh Koumbii? What does Oghassa say to you in the jungle? Where do you go?!"

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Old Mar 31st, 2021, 10:21 AM
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Valeran port city of CandanoThey had entered the city well after dark. Azar, Batoyangi, Zenda, Nae’laa, and Myra had emerged from the Valeran countryside hours after sunset, having pushed themselves on this day to avoid sleeping in the wilds once more. Candano has a wall, but the gate was open and the tired guards gave them only a cursory inspection as they passed.

Most of the city’s 14,000 residents are oblivious to their passing on the worn cobblestone streets. Shops are shuttered, windows dark, but an occasional passing of the powerful beam of the old Candano Lighthouse rhythmically bathes the modest shoreline rooftops with illumination.

Their goal is the sea, and passage further East. The five varied souls entrusted with the sultana’s southward hope walk steadily toward the shores of The Middle Sea. Houses and offices of businesses not having to do with the sea trade slowly give way to the seedier, salt-sprayed elements typical of a wharf district. Sloppy, leaning stacks of empty containers, barrels and crates, climb the walls of warehouses like ivy on a manor house. Everything is still, except for the gentle swaying of the business signs from their rusty chains, pushed by the salty ocean breeze. Yaffudar’s Exotic Textiles. Candano Cooper & Wainwright. The Sailor’s Tailor. Stormkeeper Shrine. Ingomer Packing House. Drainplug Taproom. Every establishment is closed at this hour. Stray dogs scamper down the side streets, and mewing alley cats walk the tightrope of fence tops to get around. The occasional drunk breathes deeply in the shadows, as the acrid smell of urine tinges Bato’s sensitive nose.

The regular crashing of waves against the rock and wooden pillars greets the party as they step onto the docks. A quick glance is encouraging. There are several ships here that can get them where they need to go; small, single-masted cogs, fast schooners, even a few larger carracks that look well able to defend themselves from the dangers at sea. Hopefully one of those is headed east. And soon, with room for passengers and an agreeable captain. But the ships are dark and closed up for the night, as is the harbor-master’s office. The arrangements will have to wait until morning.

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"Well hello there," a voice from behind them calls out. The speaker steps out from the shadows of the buildings at the quay, little more than the silhouette of a powerfully built man in the darkness. "I wager you’re new to Candano." His affectations of formality do little to mask the disdain in his voice. The beam of light from the slowly spinning lighthouse on the rock nearby passes over the group, giving them all a better look at each other. The man is tall, with shoulder-length blonde hair and broad shoulders. His officer’s coat is worn casually, and has seen better days. One hand rests on a curved cutlass while the other hefts a curiously-formed weapon. It is a blending of wood and steel. A dwarvish concoction, little used outside the cantons to the north. It is a pistol, and it’s mate is tucked into the man’s belt.

"My name is Rothwell. Bram Rothwell. And you all are in luck..."

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Another shadowy figure steps up behind Bram, casually plucking at a stringed lute. Slowly, Bato, Azar, Nae’laa, Myra and Zenda notice other sounds coming from the lower docks and the wooden walkways nearby.

"...for we are the official welcoming party," Bram continues with a grin. "Now, I’m afraid the city frowns on vagrancy, but fortunately, we are also procurers of employment for the occasional wanderer. Some o’ the captains come through here and pay quite well for a strong back to pull an oar. Course...they don’t pay the one pulling it, do they Stanus?" He throws a glance over to the lute-player.

Laughter erupts from a few places in the darkness around the party. As the lighthouse makes another pass, the group can see that they are surrounded, as menacing figures close in from the shadows behind buildings, and climb ladders from the lower docks to cut off escape routes. Two big brawlers step in front of Bram and Stanus, one cracking his large knuckles, the other wearing spike-studded leathers and swinging a pair of heavy manacles in an arc like a weapon. Just to the left, a wiry man with a dagger in his teeth climbs the rungs of a ladder from the lower dock. To the right, a fat bald man carries a club lazily, and a woman who would be pretty but for her wicked sneer brandishes a curved kukri blade.

"But there’s no need for…unpleasantness. I’m sure we can come to some kind of arrangement." says Bram, eyeing Batoyangi with a greedy glint in his eye. "So, how much for the dog?"

OOC
 

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Old Mar 31st, 2021, 04:52 PM
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Zenda, Child of the Gods
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Zenda was more than a little curious when the strange man called out to them from the darkness. Had the group been followed from Valera? Had rival Mharoti factions been sent to follow... or interfere with the exiled empress's little plans? Intrigue ran deeply among their kind, cold-blooded and suspicious.

However, the subsequent introduction... and thinly-veiled threats, told a very different tale. Unless he was a truly masterful actor, this man was just a petty criminal, one who was about to have a very bad day. She laughed in surprise at the man's 'offer', a tinkling little noise that seemed strangely out of place on the suddenly crowded dockside. She smiled a little ruefully at Bram's naivety and shook her head. "He is not for sale."

The Ishadian kept her hands away from her swords for the time being. The palms of her hands itched for a good fight, none of the flying nonsense of the little fracas back in the Temple City. But there was little reason to start the dance just yet, and perhaps a wiser head would council letting Bram and his friends off with a warning. It wouldn't do to draw too much attention to themselves, their activities and their destination. These seven might not be Mharoti spies, but one could be sure that there would be some stationed in the city, watching for the group or not, it mattered little. News of a full-scale battle on the docks would reach curious ears. She sighed a little in frustration, restraining her more combative instincts. Still, she had other weapons at her disposal.

"Nor are we vagrants, Mr. Rothwell." Zenda shrugged insincerely. "In difficult times such as these, we can understand your touching concern for our well-being. But we are fortunate enough to find ourselves gainfully employed, so we must regretfully decline your most gracious offer." The dancer spread her arms wide, hands still empty... for now. "Now, we also wish to avoid unpleasantness, as you so succinctly put it. Perhaps there is a way a knowledgeable local such as yourself could be of assistance. Theoretically, if a band of common thugs were to pick a fight with the wrong people... where does the City of Candano stand on the subject of self defense? Just how far would these theoretical victims be justified in taking their vengeance?" Pale silver eyes panned over Bram's companions. Which would break most easily? "How much blood should be spilled over the matter of a mere handful of coins? How many bodies tossed into the waters?" She paused and became oddly philosophical for a moment. "'What is a life worth?' It's such a simple question when it's someone else's life, isn't it? But the question and the answer become much more important when it's your own skin on the line, don't they?"

Zenda finished her little speech and stood, perfectly poised as always. Had she gotten a little overly theatrical, a little too blunt? Perhaps. Then again, Bram's own speech had been quite eloquent for a press gang, but hardly subtle. Just what kind of game was this man playing? Batoyangi, perhaps, but the rest of their little troupe hardly seemed likely sailors. Did he expect his offer to be accepted out of hand? Or did he expect them to barter down to some kind of protection racket? Or was he simply itching for a fight? Was Zenda?

OOC
 

 
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Old Apr 1st, 2021, 05:53 AM
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Azar had never walked before, not like this. She had been aware that most slaves toiled every day and would never have the privilege of even riding a mule from one city to the next, but Azar was not like other slaves. She was of premier stock. When her masters required her in another city, they required it urgently and Azar had been transported by fast ship or, sometimes, the wings of a great dragon. She had been property, it is true, but she had always been valuable and had been treated as such.

She followed along behind the others as they trudged ever onwards, through mountain pass, across rivers, over plain and swamp. She had passed through Candano thrice before; once when arriving in Valera the first time, in flight with the Sultana, and the other two times bracketing her journey to Kyprion, to Gramvar, before that city was razed. Each of those times she had been spirited directly from the city docks to Vallos without stopping. She had spared Candano barely a look as it sped by. Now she watched eagerly as it grew on the horizon, dreaming of a room, perhaps a bed, where she could shut out everything for a time.

As they had travelled she had remained quiet, exchanging only the most necessary talk with the others. She had resolved to befriend each of them, but for now she studied them, probing for weaknesses, searching for a way in, a way to win their friendship.

Batoyangi, the great gnoll who had fought in such a foolhardy manner back in the marketplace, seemed the most simple. She would offer him some of her food. As they travelled she kept some aside, waiting for the correct moment. She wondered if she should gift it to him in one big package or parcel it out regularly, over days. She suspected the latter, but as she watched the beast eat she wondered if he would even notice such small morsels. No matter, she had her plan and she would stick to it.

The Ishadian, Zenda, would be much more of a challenge. In theory Zenda and herself should have the most in common; they were both human, for the most part, and they hailed from a similar part of the world. Moreover, Azar was slightly older and should have easily settled into the role of older sibling or mentor, but she sensed it would not be as easy as that. The dancer seemed… hostile. Whether it was just her general demeanor or her hostility was directed at Azar specifically was hard to determine. For now Azar would have to be content to wait and watch.

The beautiful black tabaxi, Khamyra, was entrancing to watch. She moved so languidly, fluidly stepping from shadow to shadow as though she were made of the stuff. She spoke little during the journey, but her eyes were intense and she watched everything which went on as though she were a cat studying a mouse before pouncing. Still, after their time together on the road Azar had decided that maybe she was not as unapproachable as she at first seemed.

Finally there was Nae'laa, who intrigued Azar more than any of the others. The girl was ash-grey and in the marketplace she had shown a strong command of the flame; perhaps as strong as Azar's own! She had been the only one who had thought to bring a pack animal, and Azar watched enviously in the evenings as she unpacked the tent that the beast carried. She saw candlelight flickering in the tent every evening and Azar's assumption is that Nae'laa is reading the book that was given to us in Valera.heard the rustling of pages. Perhaps by the time they had chartered a ship they would not need to go anywhere, their resident scholar would have already unlocked the secrets of the prophecy! Somehow Azar suspected not, but the idea buoyed her during the long days setting foot after foot and gazing at an unmoving horizon.

It was late when they finally arrived in Cardano but there had been no talk of setting up camp when they were so close to their destination; evidently the others were as eager as Azar to have this hell-by-boredom behind them. They made haste to the dock area but found only darkness greeting them. Azar buried her disappointment and turned instead to follow the smells of sizzling food to the nearest tavern, but even that wish was soon thwarted as a series of miserable gutter-rats attempted to bar their way. How dare they! What right did vermin such as this believe they had to act so insolently?

Righteous fury built in her body and she could feel the fire coming. She should char the flesh from the bones of these pests!

But Zenda, who was closer to their foes, spoke up first. She gave a long speech, attempting in her own way to intimidate the would-be robbers. Azar had watched the bravest of hearts quail before her, albeit they had been bound and at her mercy at the time, but she had gleaned great insight into what broke people, what brought out the helpless animal which trembled in the hearts of even the mightiest mortal. It wasn't enough to tell them that they would die, or how much they would suffer. You had to hold a mirror to them, show them exactly how insignificant they really were, and then let them see just how little their pain, their agony, their very lives actually meant to you. They had to know that you would strip them of everything which made them a person as casually as you would snuff out a candle.

Azar stepped forward from the back of the group. She knew what this gang would see; a little girl. The rest of them had something obvious to be feared; Bato's terrible jaw, Zenda's twin swords and dancer's grace, Myra's unblinking eyes and fearsome countenance, or the unnatural pallor of Nae'laa hinting at the power she commanded.

But Azar, she strode slowly forward, head high, not even deigning to look at those who would detain them. She knew they would take in the dainty slippers, the colourful silks, and the thin arms, and they would see no threat. Not yet. Which was exactly why it should be Azar who threatened them. She moved in between Bato and Zenda as the echoes of the latter's speech faded and let her disguise drop. Her eyes glowed out into the night like hot coals. Casting Disquieting GazeShe stoked the fire inside, causing those eyes to glow even more ferociously as she looked right through each attacker in turn.

"The best you can hope for here," she said, her voice low and calm but dripping with menace, "is to escape with your lives." Her words echoed Zenda's sentiment, but more concise, without the trappings of civilisation which their targets could be foolish enough to take as a sign of weakness.

"You have twenty seconds to decide if you want to live. How quickly you will die is not your choice…"

 

 
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Old Apr 2nd, 2021, 05:22 PM
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On the road Batoyangi proved to be surprisingly, if not pleasant road company, fairly unobtrusive and agreeable. Most of the brash drama and recklessness of the day before was disappeared, the gnoll's taste for scheming seemingly satisfied for now. What the others found instead was a large, mostly silent companion, who raised his snout to sniff the wind occasionally as they walked, ears raised, but otherwise kept his focus on the way ahead of them.

Azar, the snaky one, at one point offered him her food during their journey, which he gladly accepted. But the gnoll was no fool and did not forget, and he did not take this one for a fool either. Though he made as if he were sniffing in appreciation, he smelled the food closely for any poisons before he bit in eagerly. It was delicious and he smacked his mouth and lipped his licks afterward, grinning. But he made sure to linger near the magi for some time afterward, ready to rip out her throat if he began to feel ill or the beginnings of poison.

As the hours wore by in their journey and the weaker of his new companions began to flag, the gnoll silently offered to carry their backs, slinging those that were given over his huge back as they walked on and soon enough they reached their first destination in what would be a much longer journey - the seaside city of Candano.

Even though they arrived at dark, Batoyangi still drew looks which he bore with little mind. They avoided the main streets nonetheless, erring towards the dark side streets and alleyways until they found the docks. The ships were all dark, the buildings shuttered. But who was there to greet them were a gang whose type the gnoll knew only too well.

The gnoll didn't catch most of the back and forth as the conversation was Common, but when one of the men, the leader with the strange metal contraption, looked to him and spoke he understood him perfectly. The look in the man's eyes he'd seen a hungry times before, in Golwan's eyes and the patrons of the fighting pits - 'You belong to me'. Bato's mouth opened into a grin. It was the look his master-Edjet's eyes had in them, mixed with terror and confusion, right before he'd ripped his throat out.

Azar and Zenda spoke, and though Bato though he saw a wave of uncertainty go through the thugs, for these types sometimes hearing wasn't enough. They would have to feel as well. Batoyangi grin split open into a full bearing of his teeth, spittle dripping from his maw as a terrifying noise halfway between hissing and a deep, demonic growl came from his throat. No one owned Batoyangi the Great and all who try would know that truth, sooner or later. "...Too late," He said as spread his arms wide, his wingspan terrible to behold, and charged.




OOC
 

Last edited by Vislands; Apr 2nd, 2021 at 05:24 PM.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 03:20 AM
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Candano DocksStanus continues to pluck the strings on his lute, lightly playing a catchy tune that repeats itself in steady measures.

Bram Rothwell’s avaricious smile never fades as Zenda speaks of bodies dumped in the water. His eyebrow arches in amusement, intimating that he has put a few corpses there himself. He leans forward to answer her final question. "It’s always someone else’s skin, love. Until it isn’t."

Even Azar’s words seem to have little effect on the gang, but the glowing embers of her eyes suddenly flare in the darkness as the light from the lighthouse moves on. Bram’s confident smile disappears, and the muscles in his neck flex above his open collar.

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A couple of the thugs shift uncomfortably, but Stanus’ strumming grows louder and more intense. “Spike” sneers viciously. "I like it when they don’t cooperate, boss." There is a rattle of heavy chain as Spike begins to swing a thick set of manacles in a circle as though it were a flail.

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But beside him, “Knuckles” looks much less sure of himself. Batoyangi’s savage roar actually causes the big brawling human to take a step backward before he catches himself, looking around sheepishly to see if his boss noticed.

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The rest of the Wharf Rats seem ready for a fight, though. “Dagger”, nearing the top of the ladder, takes the blade from between his teeth and inverts it in his hand. To the right, “Baldy” takes a thick club off his shoulder, swinging it with practiced old hands. And “Kukri” takes a practice swing with her signature blade, her other hand behind her slim body.

"Take ‘em," barks Bram, his polite affectations instantly dropped. "Take ‘em all!"

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Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 03:52 AM
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In her head she was counting down the twenty seconds and was barely aware that the thugs' bravado had kept them in the fight.

18, 17, 16..

Azar scowled as beside her Bato was making some very distracting animal noises.

15, 14…

The fire inside her was a conflagration now and she just had to let it out. She brought her hands in close to her body, chanting under her breath. She felt the fire swirling in her core and she stoked it. This flame would be a creative force, so she kept feeding it until it felt like a fire tornado in her body, and then she channeled it, up, into both arms. With a shout she gestured to both sides, her magic leaping into the two warriors who had travelled with her. It infused Zenda and Bato, quickening their muscles and priming their nerves.

But once it was gone Azar was immediately tired. That had taken a considerable portion of her power, so she stepped back, moving behind the others to get time to regain her strength. She would watch for now, see how the others fared in this battle. If she was to depend on them she had to know their strengths.

 

 
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Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 12:07 PM
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Zenda, Child of the Gods
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Zenda scowled at Bram as the man completely disregarded her threats. She would make sure he regretted that. She bristled at first as Azar spoke up behind her, but something in the woman's tone sent a chill down the aasimar's spine. Despite the way the slave woman simpered in front of Casmara, there was steel underneath. Even without be able to see Azar's eyes, Zenda could feel the cold lethality of the promises they held.

Bato's sudden yipping cry filled the night and set more teeth on edge. But the incessant strumming of that lute cut through it all. Maybe these weren't just common thugs after all. Maybe it would be a chance to cut loose and really see how she fared against equals. As Bram called for his cronies to launch their attack, Zenda could only shrug in resignation. Perhaps this was never going to end without bloodshed. She glanced back over her shoulder, the burning woman and the feline wanderer hadn't weighed in yet. Perhaps they just needed a little direction.

"Very well. If this can't be handled quietly, let's at least make it quick!"

As if in response to her words, Azar shouted and suddenly everything seemed to start moving slowly. Around them, Zenda could see their foes unlimbering weapons with almost negligent lethargy. But it wasn't just them, the others in her own group, the lighthouse above them and even the lapping of the waves against the docks. Everything, except herself and the gnoll. The Mharoti had unleashed some kind of spell upon them and the effect was... very interesting indeed.

The Ishadian's limbs began to burn with the comforting warmth of action and she smiled grimly to herself, picking her target. They had gotten themselves surrounded, never an ideal situation. But it also left some of their foes isolated. There, the woman with the curved blade... what was she hiding behind her back? Zenda decided she didn't want to wait and find out.

With almost superhuman grace and speed, Zenda was already in motion, spinning across the wooden planks of the dock like the hot southern winds. Her hands, empty a mere moment ago, lightly held her twinned blades, themselves a whirl of steel catching the reflected glow of the lighthouse. She closed on her prey with startling ease, placing herself firmly between the two, but focusing all of her attacks on the woman. Baldy could wait.

Once, twice, thrice... four times. The alacrity granted by Azar's magic made child's play out of Zenda's efforts against the bladeswoman. Four times she lashed out with her crescent blades, four times she found her target. These wharf rats would quickly learn their mistake in choosing this group to target. But perhaps not quickly enough.

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Last edited by hafrogman; Apr 5th, 2021 at 10:13 AM.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 12:25 PM
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Kukri
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Zenda moves faster than the female thug can comprehend! The wicked smile is still on Kukri’s face as the Ishadian’s blades score hit after hit in a blaze of speed. In seconds it is over, and Kukri falls. A small, one-handed crossbow clatters to the wooden deck from the hand that had been behind her back, it’s shiny metal tip glistening in the dim light.

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Old Apr 5th, 2021, 03:36 AM
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Candano docksThe sight of Kukri falling in the darkness to the flashing steel of Zenda’s twin blades briefly shocks the Wharf Rats with the ferocity and speed of the attack. But most of them quickly recover, and Bram Rothwell shouts at them as he draws both of his pistols. "A purse for each of their heads! But I want the yapper alive!" He then aims first one pistol, then the other at Azar and fires each. The CRACK! carries loudly across the water into the night, and flame belches from the muzzles! In the poor light, one shot goes wide. But the second threads the open space between Bato and Nae’laa, and then grazes Azar as the red-hot ball of lead cuts across her hip!

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Next to Bram, Stanus’ strumming takes an aggressive turn. The notes seem to wash over Batoyangi in physical waves. The charging gnoll can feel his limbs start to lock up, but with a snarling yip he pushes through the dangerous spell and continues his headlong charge!

Spike growls back at Bato like an animal and runs to meet him, swinging the heavy manacles at the pit fighter’s head! The thick steel bracelet connects with his snout with a crack! The press gang thug quickly follows up his attack by looping the chain of his manacles and trying to wrap it around Bato’s neck, but the gnoll is far too strong and pulls free easily as the links snap taut!

Dagger, with a nimble leap, climbs the last rung of the ladder and lunges at the fierce Batoyangi. His attack takes advantage of Spike’s distracting chain and the wiry little man plunged his dagger between two ribs, causing the coarse hair of Bato’s pelt to turn red with blood. Dagger then withdraws the blade and deftly ducks away toward his boss, who is already reloading his pistols.

Bram curses at Knuckles, who is standing there with his mouth snapping open and closed. "What’s the matter with you, you lout?! Break her teeth!" The tall brawler hesitates a few seconds more, but finally shakes his head and punches himself in his crooked nose to clear his mind. The frightened expression seems to drain from him, and Knuckles’ fists clenched tightly again!

At the other end of the wharf, Baldy looks down at Kukri’s limp body. His brow furrowed in frustration, he tries to bring his club down on the back of Zenda’s head before she recovers from her last strike on the female crook. But Zenda is upright faster than the thug anticipates. He makes a clumsy swipe at her torso, but again the sword-dancer is too fast for him. The simple wooden weapon glances across her studded leather armor leaving her unharmed.

The lighthouse continues in its circuit, bathing the scene in light once more.


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Old Apr 5th, 2021, 01:44 PM
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Those who watched Batoyangi fight thought him a wild beast, unthinking in his savagery, driven purely by instinct. Those who fought Batoyangi knew there was a cold, predatory intellect behind the brutality, a relentless grinding down of options, wearing away of escapes until you had no choice but to be broken. The best of the Sarkland pits' sponsors, the ones who did not want their most promising fighters to be broken upon the wheel that was The Constrictor, all gave the same warnings, ending always with 'Whatever you do, do not let him grab hold of you.'

Spike was close enough to see the change. The irises of Bato's beady black eyes expanded until his eyes were a sea of predatory dark, the edges tinged with crimson capillaries. His grin widens and saliva begins to drip from his open jaw. And his claws...only Spike is close enough to see, to know for sure, but the gnoll's claws lengthen as the veins on the pit fighter's arm and hands raise and pulsate.

There is a moment where the two look at each other, thug and beast, and Spike has a distinct feeling that something else was looking out at him that wasn't there before. Suddenly, Bato's left arm flashes out and, before the thug can react, the gnoll grabs his throat, stepping to the thug's right. There is a choking sound and a moment where the thug moved to escape, but a sudden cry of pain pierced the night air as Bato swiped with his other hand, an 'X' motion over his would-be slaver's face, taking advantage of all the openings the amateur had created moments before.

"C...cccut!" The gnoll half-growled half-croaked, his dilated pupils looking over to the blade-dancer, who seemed to be killing with as much efficiency as he. "Cut!" Bato charged across the docks toward her as nightmarish speed, dragging the struggling Spike behind him as he slammed a shoulder into the bald enemy's side with enormous force. He held up Spike towards Zenda as though in offering, his grip on the man's neck strong.


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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 02:50 AM
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Myra
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Myra’s excitement to travel on the seas once again made travelling through the countryside with new companions even more enjoyable. Enjoying the company of her party, she strove to get to know them better, trying to feel comfortable enough to put some level of trust in them as she is unsure of how long they will travel together. When they stopped at night she told the tales of the constellations that Latija would tell her when she was young to any who were interested. The tales relaxed Myra and offered her a way to help connect with the strange group.

It was dark when they arrived at Candano, Myra’s attention on the stars above her while those tales and memories played over and over in her mind. A strange man’s voice pulled her from her thoughts. Focusing her attention back to her surroundings, her companions on edge, she felt the tension building around her. When she saw the man, and others slowly coming into view around him, she knew what vile things they were, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up and ears folding down out of anger. She had known people who were taken by evil men like these, it was always a worry of Latija during their travels on the sea. Before she could warn the others of what was happening even more figures began to emerge from the shadows of the dock. Damn. Knowing there was no way to avoid a conflict with this vile group, Myra used the banter between the groups as a chance to pull back into the shadows behind her group.

Noting the lower dock to the left of the groups, Myra’s eyes flashed back to the man called Bram as he called out, Take ‘em, take ‘em all! And with that she dashed into action, using the darkness of night and anger to fuel her, making her nothing more than a blur in the dark of night. Leaping off the edge of the dock, she landed with a thud on the lower dock. Dashing along the shadows of the dock, she heard the roars of Batoyangi and the clashes of steel from Zenda above her. Eyeing a pillar that looked to be just past the end of the dock, she ran harder and leaped with her claws outstretched. Using her momentum, she flung herself upwards from the pillar, practically flying through the air to regain the higher ground with her companions, though she was now behind the vile ones.

Landed on the upper dock behind Bram, she unleashed a loud roar as thick, penumbral ichor dripped from her shadow-stained mouth, her fangs seemingly doubling in size. It is I who will take you. Lunging forward as he turned to face her, she latched onto Bram’s neck, her head shaking viciously as her claws dug into his flesh.


Mechanics Her quicked speed is her feline ability, it allows her to double her speed for her turn, she regains it if she does not move on another turn. When she landed on the upper dock, she cast Dark Maw, a spell that does 1d8+ spell casting modifier bite damage with these crazy ass shadowy/ichor-y fangs!
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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 12:37 PM
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Zenda, Child of the Gods
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Zenda was a little surprised at how well this was going. The woman with the curved blade was already down. She'd seemed like one of the ones most eager to fight, would that be enough to sate Bram's lust for violence? Apparently not. If anything, he seemed a little more upset. Perhaps she had just killed his lover. Was this personal now? The man's shouts echoed oddly off the waves and the crack of his pistols shattered the night. She had already given up on a quiet resolution, but now they'd be lucky if they didn't wake the whole damn town.

The aasimar bladeswoman fended off Baldy's fumbling overtures with the practiced ease of a professional dancer. Sure, he was coming at her with a club, but the principle was the same. She was prepared to return his attentions in kind when Bato's snarling voice drew her attention. He had one of the heavies tight in his constrictor grasp and he had kindly brought him within reach, offering up the man's body like a roasted spit of meat for the carving. The gnoll barreled forward, dragging Spike in tow and bowling over Baldy with seemingly no effort.

"How nice. You brought me a present!"

Zenda's eyes flicked over Bato's shoulders towards the main body of combatants. His tactics were showy and brutally effective, suitable for a pit fighter. But he'd left the others exposed to the rest of the Wharf Rats. They'd have to have a discussion about teamwork later... but not now. Don't get her wrong, it wasn't that Zenda was particularly concerned with the wellbeing of the other three, but she'd seen first-hand just how much destruction their magics could wreak upon the unsuspecting. She very much preferred they be able to unleash their witchery uninterrupted. Her gaze passed between Spike and Baldy. Best to get this taken care of quickly so they could all regroup. Two targets? Well... that's why she carried two swords, wasn't it?

Already moving with unnatural haste under the effects of Azar's magic, the Ishadian pushed herself faster and harder than ever, spinning and whirling in place as her blades lashed out at the two targets in an alternating flurry of cuts. The blows fell relentlessly over the two men, but perhaps she was going too quickly, already transitioning to the next strike before the full weight of the edge could make its bite. The men were bleeding from several shallow cuts, but not much more.

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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 11:13 PM
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The docks were not the most comfortable place for Nae'laa. Water surrounded her on three sides and she found herself standing as close to the middle as possible, more out of habit than anything else. Her attention was quickly diverted, however, as a standoff occurred between her group and the dock rats who looked to shake them down. Normally, she'd have taken a stand on her own, but others beat her to it, leaving her with nothing but a smirk to regard the harassers with.

She stood still, even as Bato dashed past her, making it clear that he wanted no part in negotiation, expecting either a full-out retreat or a fight. Nae'laa would have been fine with either. It had been some time since she had been able to be so open with her powers and the more she used them, the more they called to her.

Even as chaos broke out around her, Nae'laa stood strong, like an ember burning brightly amidst a swirling fire. The fishers in her skin lit brightly, pulsing as if magma itself coursed through her veins. With a smile, she slowly backed up even as she chanted. Where she stood, a small stark remained, sputtering to life even as she moved, though it could hardly be considered a retreat. With each confident step, the flame grew, slowly swirling around itself until it became a ball of swirling flames that radiated heat that could be felt several feet away. She stopped next to the woman Azar, after the tabaxi ran off to confront the man she could only assume was the leader.

She spared a glance and a nod to Azar, the one other person she felt confident wouldn't be put off by her strange behavior or lingering spells. With a few more whispers that sounded like the crackling of a log amongst the flames, three flickers of flame sprung to life in her hand. In less than a heartbeat, they lengthened into long rays of flame that hurled towards Bram. One missed as the man attempted to dodge Myra, but the other 17 damagetwo hit squarely in his chest, scorching fabric and flesh alike. The flames lingered longer than they should have, half damage at beginning of Bram's turnigniting the man's clothes as if coated in a flammable liquid.



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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 10:29 AM
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The bandit leader had cast some foul magic at Azar, grazing her hip, but it only stoked her resolution to end these cretins. She had watched the others spring into action, and Zenda had already ended the miserable life of one foe, while she gathered her own strength for another attack.

Nae'laa had come nearer and Azar got to see up close how potent the ashen woman's magic was. Her spells burned hotter and brighter than Azar's own, managing to ignite and was obviously still causing the man pain! Or, perhaps it was just the clothing that he was wearing, maybe they were unusually susceptible to fire?

Azar quickly conjured her own flames and sent them spinning at Bram, but in her haste she used too much strength and sent them spinning over the heads of their foes!

Gritting her teeth, she touched Nae'laa's shoulder and gestured at the wooden pilings before crouching behind the nearest one herself. It wouldn't be big enough to block all incoming attacks, but it would have to do.

 

 
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