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Chapter VII: Revelations

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
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Maggie tried to find a comfortable balance between being close enough to Dina to grab her if she lost her balance and fell, and remaining where the priestess herself felt safe. It was rather a relief when Violet moved up next to Dina instead, though after a moment's thought Maggie wasn't surprised. Of course Violet would see to Dina's safety! The priestess half-smiled, then edged just close enough to look for what the others were looking at. "What's an ashari*?" she asked.

*The misspelling is deliberate. She isn't pronouncing it quite right because the cliff edge's nearness distracted her too much to hear it properly.
 

Wolf Rawrrr

Wolf-Knight
"Azshari." It was Violet who corrected Maggie, not Dina. "I mentioned them earlier, after we had fought off the... corrupted mountain wolves," she said, including a brief pause during which she presumably pondered how to refer to whatever the creatures that had attacked them were. "They're the original hounds of the Taint, so to speak. At the source, in the corrupted part of Raziel's temple on Sandpeak Mountain, that's what the Taint used to attack us. In contrast to the wolves, these Azshari were more akin to... constructs, I suppose. Things of rock and crystal brought to life through some dark sorcery, merely resembling canine creatures."

The shadows below continued to shift; hints of movement, and more than that at times, appeared at random points - suggesting the shapes and features that Violet described. It was impossible to tell how many there were, or what they were up to exactly.

"That's what's down there," she said. "It would seem that the Taint has infested this whole mountain peak. Perhaps even the entire Frostbacks. Or it's starting to. And as we've witnessed, its influence is not contained just to the tunnels and the caves that run beneath. This is really bad," she said, more quietly. Turning her attention to Carn, she told him: "Our mission here is far too important to risk getting in scuffles with the Taint. It doesn't appear as if its beasts are aware of us, and we should keep it that way."

"Aye," Laurolf agreed. "There'd be no climbin' these walls, that's for sure, but alerting them could spell grave misfortune for us down the road, for who knows what lies ahead?"

Violet nodded. "Let us proceed carefully and get back up there. We need to catch up with the dragonhunters as soon as possible. Laurolf, lead the way?"

"Aye," the dwarf nodded back, already starting down the narrow path.
 

Parrot Parfait

A White Budgerigar Chillin'
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


Carn hadn’t realized the Chosen’s presence remained unnoticed by the creatures (at least for now). When Violet pointed that fact out, Carn gave an affirmative nod, silently placing his weapons at rest. However, despite seeming reserved, Carn was slightly embarrassed he’d let his apprehension and instincts lead him towards a hasty conclusion. With this little moment, Carn realigned himself with finding the portal, which held more importance than the Taint. Still, to be safe, Carn remained at the back of the group in case those things began following them.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
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"Oh!" Maggie replied to Violet's explanation. "Yes, of course, I forgot. Sorry." She hastily followed Laurolf, chagrined at having forgotten so soon. Careful to keep close to the rock wall beside them, she glanced from time to time at the drop on the other side of the path. Then she realized what she was doing, and her chagrin returned twofold. Don't be such a ninny, she scolded herself. Have faith. It's not creeping up on you. She hoped no one could see her face, behind her as most of them (probably?) were, because she could feel her cheeks heating. Deliberately, but (she hoped) unobtrusively, she shifted so that she wasn't quite so close to the wall as she walked.
 


Asher looked at the bridge as well, but knowledge on ancient constructions was not really something a city thief would have, at least not enough to have an opinion on it. He did wonder how one would go about building something that large in an area so remote. Magic, probably.

He considered climbing up there for a second, but decided not to. Even if he could or wanted to do it, it would take him a better part of the day.

Unnerved by the presence of possibly hostile unknowns, Asher was glad that there was so much distance between them and those Azshari. A dragon was more than enough to worry about at the moment.

If what the Drakkar mentioned about there being a signs of a scuffle on the bridge was true, then the fight with the dragon was already going on. Asher crossed his fingers hoping that the hunters took care of it by now. He kept that to himself and continued on with the group.
 

Andei

Junior Member
Ingvar Sindram
- Seeker of the Maker -​


The voices of the huntsmen shouting were snatched away by the claws of the howling wind, the bridge above him suddenly alarmingly far away and becoming ever more distant. Ingvar's mind raced to organise his scattered thoughts as he plummeted backwards, admittedly not helped by the dizzying sight of the chasm walls flying past him at a terrifying pace.

Too fast - I cannot... how to stop?

His beard and furs billowed about him, whipping against his face and tangling his limbs. His arms and legs were at the mercy of the winds as he hurtled through the air like an unstrung puppet, and Ingvar increasingly struggled to hold back the overwhelming sense of helplessness that kept infringing on the edges of his mind.

I have no control, he realised. I have no way of reaching the sides of chasm, and even if I did, my shoulder is injured and I would not be able to hold on. At this height, there is no question I will die. I cannot trust in my body. All I have... is my faith.

Ingvar relaxed, and even though the wind was as loud as ever, the cold just as biting and the abyss just as dark, the old dwarf felt the growing anxiety for his fate melt away.

But when has it ever been any other way for every work of our Creator that ever walked his good earth?

Stretching out his arms, he closed his eyes and set his mind to making supplication of the Creator who had made him. O great and merciful Creator - you alone gave life to all things and you alone know all things... from the moment you placed my first breath upon my lips, every breath thereafter has been a gift from you. If this be my final breath, I receive it with all my heart. But if it be your will that I have tasks yet unfinished, I surrender myself to your divine protection...!

Ingvar's eyes burst open, and for that instantaneous moment, he couldn't tell whether the light that seared his vision was the icy white of the sky and snow or the incandescent gold of divine providence. Whatever it may have been, it was but an instant, for his senses were once again torn from him and darkness took the old dwarf.

___________________________

INGVAR casts Great Divine Shield as he makes impact.
 

Wolf Rawrrr

Wolf-Knight
Date: October 12th (Sunday), year 3321
Location: The Frostback Mountains
Weather: Overcast, gloomy, and cold.


  • Around 14:00 h
    Somewhere in the Frostback Mountains



    The Chosen continued along the side of the chasm, following in Laurolf's careful and steady footsteps. Before too long they'd completed half a circle, placing them directly underneath the far side of the bridge. Unfortunately, it was completely inaccessible from here. It would take not just an expert climber, but an expert climber with the right gear to even attempt scaling the cliff. A similar-looking platform of rock greeted them, allowing everyone to get off the narrow path and take a short break.

    The tunnel opening ahead seemed straightforward at first, but on closer inspection, just a little ways inside, it split into two tunnels.

    "It looks like a secondary branch to me," Laurolf concluded. "I'd have us stay on what appears to be the main path."

    Neither of the tunnels seemed to be ascending. Looking back and over the edge of the abyss, they could still spy a hint of movement here and there. The Azshari were still active beneath them, and hopefully ignorant of the fellowship's passing.
 

Andei

Junior Member
Ingvar Sindram
- Seeker of the Maker -​


It was difficult to attribute his bleariness more to the fact that he had just fallen what felt like the entire height of the mountain or to the near-impenetrable darkness that he found himself in. It took a moment for Ingvar's thoughts to catch up with his returning senses, and as such his initial response to the first bolts of pain coming from all over his body was largely unappreciative. However, the subsequent realisation that the pain indicated that he was despite all odds still alive gave way to a deep gratitude.

Oh, praise the Creator... I yet live.

The dwarf began to check over his body for injuries, though it wasn't a question of 'whether' rather than 'where'. Although not bruised, his arms and legs felt painfully sore, as if they had overexerted themselves carrying a great weight. There was bruising on his lower torso, and his shoulder (which he'd hit quite hard when the dragon swept him off the bridge) was particularly tender.

It's far too dark to see anything clearly, he thought as he tried to prop himself up, half-feeling his way as he went. Perhaps some light might be- wait. Is there...?

He was about to beseech the Creator to illuminate the area when his attention was drawn to a patch of darkness behind him. Of course, being surrounded by darkness, there was nothing for him to see, but despite this Ingvar could not shake the feeling that he was not entirely without company. And from his experience, what lurked in the cover of shadow often did so with hidden teeth.

Perhaps my years are catching up with me... nevertheless, it would be prudent to be ready, he decided.

Rising to his feet and planting his stance firmly, Ingvar closed his eyes (there was almost no difference in his vision) and murmured in hushed tones, 'O gracious Creator, I thank you for the boundless mercy you have shown on your undeserving servant, so much that you delivered him from certain death. Let the way ahead be revealed by your light, that my footsteps be strengthened by your will, swift to walk the path you have set before me!'

___________________________

INGVAR takes a fighting stance and casts Light.
 
Last edited:

Rekai Leon

New Member
Faron Firestorm

- The Fiery Brawler -

Faron was a bit relieved as the dragon was fleeing. However, when he was turning aside, he was immediately startled by the fact that Ingvar got knocked over the bridge and was on the brink of life and death. The Drakkar had to do something. Without a second thought, Faron sprinted towards Ingvar as quickly as possible, then got on his knees and attempted to spread his arm to get a hold of the Dwarf.

Unfortunately, he was not fast enough. In fact, he was only a split second behind in his attempt to grab Ingvar’s hand, but that split second was enough to make a drastic difference. Faron was helpless to save the Dwarf at that point and left with no choice but watching him fall into the chasm. The Drakkar then had a flashback about how he also failed to save his friend, Ghamorz, years ago. An intense surge of guilt passed through him, again. He could have saved Ingvar, but he did not make it. He stared down angrily while gnashing his teeth and rapidly gasping for air. He was about to punch the ground, but eventually decided not to do so due to the fear of accidentally collapsing the bridge altogether.

Faron’s other comrades soon arrived. He expected to be punished for failing to save Ingvar, and was kinda surprised that none of them blamed him. What amazed him even more was that they seemed to be able to get over it so effortlessly. Getting over the loss of significant ones had always been the biggest challenge for Faron. Even the dragon he had just faced earlier did not came close. At that point, Faron did not really know what to say or do, except for following the hunters and continuing their journey, which he did because he had no other choice.
 

Parrot Parfait

A White Budgerigar Chillin'
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


When the Chosen stopped to rest, Carn leaned against the cliff face to then peer upwards at the large structure they should have already passed. If, perhaps, they'd left an hour earlier, they wouldn't be making this long, needless climb. They'd probably be with the dragon hunters (and Aron) by now. However, considering the earlier earthquake, Carn supposed he should be happy the group hadn't been trapped in a tunnel by rubble or swept off a cliff by an avalanche. Heck, this group hadn't yet needed to bare their arms. The dragon hunters did, his inner voice interjected. At that unpleasant thought, Carn, completely still and eyes closed, whispered a prayer of safety for the dragon hunters and his group as well as a prayer of thanks for this group's safety, albeit, the latter one being a bit snippy.

Upon learning the path diverged into two, Carn gave an inaudible, annoyed grunt that they were being faced with this issue. If the circumstances differed, he’d have suggested sending him and one other down a tunnel to check for the correct one, but with the potential danger down below, splitting up now was a far too dangerous option. With that in mind, Carn felt it right for them to stick together. As for which path to pick...

“I second Laurolf,” Carn nodded. Besides, Carn added in his head, a dwarf’s intuition was usually right when it came to reading the earth, usually.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
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"Me too," Maggie chimed in -- for much the same reason as Carn, though neither of them knew it. With the wider space, and faced with a choice of tunnels, her nervousness about the cliff edges had faded, which she was pleased about. It still felt sort of silly to be a priestess of the Maker and yet afraid of so simple a thing. She hoped it had just been the cumulative effect of cold, weariness, and everything else that had brought on what she saw as a weakness.

She raised her still-glowing* hand and went up to stand near the dwarf, plainly intent on lighting the way from near the front of the group. "If someone else wants to bear some light, let me know," she offered with a smile.

* Unless it's not, in which case she casts Light on her hand again when she raises it. But it doesn't seem like it's been a full hour yet?
 

Wolf Rawrrr

Wolf-Knight
Date: October 12th (Sunday), year 3321
Location: The Frostback Mountains
Weather: Overcast, gloomy, and cold.


  • Around 14:30 h
    Somewhere in the Frostback Mountains



    Even having collected the affirmations of his comrades, Laurolf stared at the divergent tunnels for a short while longer, as if yet contemplating his choice of direction. Indeed, were it not for the dwarf's words, it would have been difficult to say which of the two tunnels could rightly be called the main path. They split off at an even angle and maintained the same elevation, though the one to the right was somewhat wider. That was the one that Laurolf led them down, or started to - when the silence was broken by a faint noise emanating from the other direction. Faint, but still loud enough to command everyone's attention.

    It only grew louder. A peculiar scratching and shuffling, like pebbles moving underfoot. The feet of multiple creatures, running, judging by the cacophonous nature of the sound. The white glow of Maggie's divine light only reached about 30 feet before giving way to the absolute dark of the tunnel.

    "Something's coming, and fast," said Violet, who had probably been the first to hear it. Her bow was already drawn, an arrow staring down the darkness.

    Before long, from deep down the tunnel, a brief hint of bluish-purple glow betrayed the arrival of the two beasts described by Dina earlier as the Azshari, just before they came fully into sight. They stopped short at the edge of the light, but only for a moment, then leaped at the Chosen with an otherworldly hiss - specifically at Carn and Laurolf, who were closest.*

    Violet had loosened her arrow by then, hitting her mark to no effect and switching immediately to her blade while ushering Dina to stay behind her.


    *Let me know if this assumption is incorrect
 

Parrot Parfait

A White Budgerigar Chillin'
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


Stifling was the word Carn would use to describe the tunnel. Not only was the cave a bit small for a drakkar, the darkness made walking through the path uncomfortable. When the scitterings became audible, the atomosphere made the sounds that much more threatening.

“Creator damn our misfortunes,” he cursed, before following with, “and may he bless our side.” It was a short pre-fight prayer he uttered before he readied his two weapons: a large shield made to parry blows and a broadsword to cleave foes. When the flush of violet hue appeared into view, Carn’s drakkar instincts and battle training anchored his body to position, allowing him to react appropriately when the creatures stopped and then proceeded to leap at them.


CARN readies himself to receive the creature with his shield, timing a shield bash enhanced with force magic. Cooperates with Laurolf in maintaining the frontline and will swing at a good opportunity.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
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Maggie had been closely trailing Laurolf and Carn (the better to light the way ahead) but now she immediately fell back a few paces to give them room to fight, and to the side of the tunnel (behind Laurolf) to give those behind her room for their ranged weapons. She kept her glowing hand raised as high as she could; being behind the dwarf rather than the drakkar meant that her light would be above his head rather than backlighting him, and she wanted to be sure everyone on her side could clearly see their attackers. Her other hand she closed and rested over her heart for a moment. "Maker shield you," she said quickly over Laurolf's head (since Carn had a shield he was preparing to use already).


Maggie casts Divine Shield on Laurolf.
 



Asher took out his crossbow and started loading a steel tipped bolt into it, hoping he'd have enough time to draw his shortsword once his right hand was free. Luckily, being in the back of the group, he wasn't a target for the beasts yet, but it also mean that him hitting any of them was a game of chance as the rest of the group was between. Asher needed to adjust his position to get a better angle, so he started moving to the side hoping the tunnel was wide enough.



Asher readies his crossbow and tries to get an angle on the Azshari.
 

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